Thursday, 31 January 2013

Do you ever get a song stuck in your head?  I think they call it an ‘ear worm’. 

I found myself strolling around the fruit and veg section of Asda on Tuesday singing to myself ‘my heart went oops...’

Yes, it’s from an advert.  Unfortunately it’s from the Tena Lady advert, so when I realized what I was singing I was a tad embarrassed!  I guess it must be the modern-day equivalent of singing the Bodyform song from the late 80s.

Adverts have a habit of doing that, don’t they?  The catchy music gets in your head and you find yourself singing along.  I can still remember the Shake ‘n Vac ad where a dancing lady sang happily about putting the freshness back in her carpet, because when your carpet smells fresh your room does too.  So every time you vacuum remember what to do...

Monday, 28 January 2013

I love cars, always have done.  Right back from when I was a child and my brother got a Scalextric-type racing game – he had the red Ferrari because it was like Magnum’s, and I got the yellow Porsche.

It’s funny how TV shows (other than Top Gear, of course) sometimes have a car as another star. Most of us will remember Magnum’s Ferrari, the Dukes of Hazzard’s Dodge Charger, Knight Rider’s Pontiac Trans Am, Bergerac’s Triumph Roadster, Inspector Morse’s Jaguar, and more recently we had Gene Hunt uttering the immortal line ‘Fire Up the Quattro’ in Ashes to Ashes. 

I always wanted an open-top Jeep having seen Daisy Duke’s in the Dukes of Hazzard, but my dream car of the late 1980s was a Golf GTi Convertible.  I adored Golfs, but could never afford one so had to settle for a Polo instead.

I’ve named each of my cars, and my cars are always male.  My first was Henry, a Mini Cooper lookalike; I then moved onto Marco (VW Polo); I had an Ozzy (black car, purchased on a Sunday); a Scooby because the numberplate finished ‘DOO’; and I’ve now got a Jethro.

Yes, Jethro.  No, not after the Cornish comedian or the Beverly Hillbillies.  My Jethro is named after Leroy Jethro Gibbs of NCIS fame.  He’s handsome, and silver, so the name seemed fitting.  For those of you who don’t know to whom I’m referring, type Mark Harmon into Google, that’s the actor who plays Gibbs, you’ll see what I mean!

Thursday, 24 January 2013

I was pleased to see that Ant and Dec had won the best entertainment presenter award at the National Television Awards for the 12th year running.

The cheeky Geordie chappies – who surely must have paintings in their attics which age instead of them in a Dorian Gray-style – are fully deserving of this accolade.

As well as being complete professionals, they are actually very nice people too.  I know this because my brother met them and interviewed them many years ago, before they performed at Kettering Leisure Village (anyone remember that?  I was there!)

He was a ‘cub’ reporter at the time and straight out of Journalism College – he’d got this job through his old schoolmate and friend who’d booked them for the gig.

He found them to be completely decent, genuine blokes, who were friendly and open.  They even bought him a cup of tea at the expensive hotel in London at which he interviewed them, which was greatly appreciated by him as he had huge student debts at the time!

I’m pretty sure they haven’t changed either which is why they continue to be very popular in what is sometimes a fickle industry.

I haven’t really met many famous people, but I did once bump into Richard Harris in Covent Garden.  He was wearing a sky-blue baby-gro type outfit, what’s called a ‘onesy’ these days, but as this was 1993 he was way ahead of his time fashion-wise.

I plucked up courage and approached him and asked for his autograph.  He was lovely, seeming genuinely pleased that somebody had recognized him, and that’s when I blurted out:

“I thought you were really good in ‘The Field’.”

He looked at me, raised an eyebrow and smiled, as I then blushed realizing that unless you knew he’d starred in an Irish film about a field that revelation could sound a little ‘unfortunate’ to anyone else listening!  He continued to smile as he signed the only piece of paper I had to hand – the back of a friend’s florist business card.

Just recently, my daughter asked me if I’d ever met anyone famous, and I recounted this tale (editing the bit about ‘The Field’).

“Who’s Richard Harris?” she asked.  To which I replied that he was a very famous Irish actor, who’d been in various war films, oh, and he was the original Dumbledore in the Harry Potter films.

“Wow, you met Dumbledore?!  That’s soooo cool!  Wait until I tell everyone at school!”  she replied happily. 

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Right, that’s it, I’ve had enough of the snow.  The novelty has well and truly worn off.

I’m fed up of walking like a cross between an Emperor Penguin and John Wayne – is that a Duke Penguin?!

What was deep ‘n’ crisp ‘n’ even is now murky grey sludge where it’s melted by the roadside.  It’s not pleasant to look at.

The children have had their fun, there’s been snowball fights and sledging – including the obligatory trips to the Minor Injuries Unit for some – so now please snow, go away, and don’t come back until next January (if at all, I really don’t mind, I prefer more temperate climes).

The only upside to this horrendous weather we’ve been having (floods, followed by deep freeze) is that I’ve had good use of the Wellibobs I purchased last November.

For the uninitiated, Wellibobs are ankle height wellies from Joules, like Jodhpur boots, faux-fur lined and, in my case, brown with pictures of dogs on them (and no, I’m not being sponsored before you ask).

They’ve been fantastic, so much so I feel I may have to have them surgically removed if we ever get sunshine again and I feel the need to don a less waterproof shoe.

I just wish they still made them for children – they used to, as my daughter had a pair which she practically lived in until she outgrew them.  They were so handy for the walk to school.  Come on Joules, please do them for little people again!

Update - I've just been told that Joules are doing Wellibobs for children again - yippee!  I'm not sure that they're faux-fur-lined though, you may have to wear an extra pair of socks!!

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Confession time – I loved the revamped series of ‘Dallas’ and I’m looking forward to it coming back on Tuesday 29th January (Channel Five, 9pm).

I didn’t watch the original series in the 80s – it was past my bedtime – but I do remember the hype surrounding ‘who shot J.R.?’

Larry Hagman’s last scenes as J.R. Ewing are coming up and it will be interesting to see how they handle it.  I hope they do it well, he deserves a good send-off.

The next generation of Ewings, now the main stars of the new series, are cut from the same cloth as J.R. though, so we’re not short of villainous behaviour!  The spirit of J.R. will live on through them, which seems a fitting tribute in itself.

I think fashion could have a bit of a ‘Dallas’ moment.  There seems to be a lot of cowboy-style boots and check shirts about.  Not quite sure Northamptonshire’s ready to don Stetsons yet, but you never know...

Saturday, 19 January 2013

What is it with paint colour charts?  In my experience, they bear little to no resemblance to the actual colour of the paint you purchase.

When I get an Avon book, I know that the colour of the lipstick or nail varnish shown is pretty close to the real thing, so why can’t the emulsion manufacturers do the same?

A recent example from the Bach household.  Husband decides he’s going to decorate our bedroom.  Paint chart is collected and studied, a short-list of potential colours is arrived at.  He chooses ‘Dusted Fondant’, I choose ‘Malted Chocolate’.

I look at his colour, unconvinced after the ‘Frozen Cranberry’ crisis of 2001.  What looked like a pleasant, warm red actually turned out to be a kind of murky purple.  It didn’t go with the blue velvet curtains (inherited, long since replaced) and was eventually exchanged for ‘Warm Amber’ – these names may not be strictly accurate, my memory’s not that good!

So, off we go to The Range and buy tester pots.  I do like The Range – their Christmas advert slogan of ‘If we don’t sell it, you don’t need it’ was very good.  Anyway, I digress.  On returning home, he then disappeared upstairs to paint a section of the wall in the chosen colours.  When he arrived back I could tell all was not well.

‘I’m not sure about those colours’ he said.  ‘You’ll have to have a look, they might be better when they’re dry’.  This did not fill me with confidence.

I gathered myself together, and headed upstairs to view the wall.  ‘Oh dear’ I thought to myself (or words to that effect, my daughter reads my blog so I may be editing).

Now, it may be because he’s painted over ‘Warm Amber’ and not used an undercoat (does anybody?!), but for ‘Dusted Fondant’ read a sort-of mauve/lavender (not in a good way) and for ‘Malted Chocolate’ substitute battleship grey.  Battleship grey!  No doubt bulk supplies of this would be cheap to purchase from the Navy, but it’s not the sort of colour you want in your bedroom!!  So I have a portion of wall painted in these colours until I can get back to the shop to purchase more paint. 

Now we’re considering ‘Tuscan Terracotta’, but I’m insisting on another tester pot in case this is too orangey and makes the room look like it’s been ‘Tangoed’!  Oh the joys of DIY.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

It’s not often I say good things about politicians, but it was heartening to see the three local MPs joining together to support Kettering General Hospital.

I think that’s what politics should be about – MPs supporting local issues and local people, putting aside party differences for the sake of the bigger picture.  Kudos to Andy Sawford, Philip Hollobone and Peter Bone for doing this.

It led me to thinking that people often complain about the NHS, about waiting lists and treatment received, but you seldom hear about the good things.

I’ve had some experience of local NHS treatment, both personally and through family members and friends, from the local GPs right through to specialist care at KGH or even further afield at the John Radcliffe in Oxford.

I have to say that the service we have received has been exemplary throughout.

Paramedics have been calm and reassuring; GPs have been helpful, referring when necessary; staff in A&E have been excellent despite working under extreme pressure; doctors and nurses at KGH and JRH have been thorough, courteous and professional at all times.

The Minor Injuries Unit in Corby is a fantastic facility for the town and surrounding villages; the Urgent Care Centre at Lakeside is great for out-of-hours emergencies; and the rehab unit at Thackley Green is ideal for helping elderly people readjust after being in hospital, in some cases for a substantial amount of time.  These are just some examples of those of which I have a little knowledge, there are many more.

Yes, unfortunately, sometimes things do go wrong in hospitals around the country, and these are the cases you hear about on the news and in the papers, but you don’t hear about the thousands of people that have good experiences and are helped by the NHS every day.  We need to remember how lucky we are to have this service and do what we can to safeguard its future. 

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

I’m not sure what we’d talk about if we lived in Spain, when most days are ‘scorchio’.  It seems every news bulletin has included minute by minute reports on where the snow is and how well we’re coping with it.

I watched Look East last night – Stuart White was standing near a roundabout on the A11 discussing the weather and the traffic.  It seemed slightly unnecessary to me as we all have a good idea of what snow and roads look like, but at least they hadn’t sent the lady presenter (Amelia Reynolds) out in it as she’s heavily pregnant and looks like she could give birth at any moment.

Have you noticed how gleeful the weather forecasters have become now they’ve got some winter conditions to discuss?  They can barely disguise their excitement as they talk about bands of snow, freezing temperatures and wind chill factors.

Then there’s the inevitable pictures sent in by viewers – there seems to be a competition going on for who can construct the biggest snowman, or do they just get smaller people to stand next to it?  Lots of photos of children sledging, on proper sledges mind you, not like in my day when we used old fertilizer sacks to hurtle down the hill in our school playground (how very agricultural, and un-Health and Safety of us!)

Personally, I can’t wait for Spring to come.  I’d gladly hibernate until at least March.  Perhaps in my next life I should come back as a tortoise or a hedgehog – now there’s a thought.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Don’t you just love Adele?  There she is at the Golden Globes exclaiming that she didn’t think she’d win, she’d just come for a good night out!

Down to earth and as British as a cup of builder’s tea, you’ve got to admire the girl’s spirit.

It’s no wonder that her albums sell by the shed-load and she’s got more awards than she probably has mantelpiece space for.

That voice is simply amazing.  I’ve found myself singing ‘Skyfall’ for most of the day, albeit far less tunefully than she does!

Let’s face it, we also love her because she looks like she enjoys life – she’s always smiling and laughing.  She seems to be the sort of celebrity who’d actually be a nice person in real life and a good laugh.

Well done Adele for flying the flag for us Brits!  Hope you win the Academy Award as well.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

As my regular readers will testify, I don’t often write about serious subjects.  That’s because, in the sage words of Alan Davies in the Abbey National adverts, ‘life’s complicated enough’.

However, I need to talk about something.  The observant amongst you will probably have figured out that I live somewhere in Northamptonshire.

Indeed, I’ve always lived in Northants except for a brief sojourn when I headed over the border to University.  My home, and my heart, belong firmly in the Rose of the Shires.

That’s why it saddens me to have to tell you about the latest plan to destroy our little corner of England.

There is a hare-brained scheme – I mean planning application – for a ‘resource recovery park’ off Gretton Brook Road.  A resource recovery park is another name for a waste plant – and, ironically enough, we already have something similar within a mile from this proposed site.

The stench from the existing plant is, at times, unbearable.  I’m a regular caller to the Environment Agency helpline to complain, so much so I feel we’re on first name terms and close to inclusion on Christmas card lists!

‘Can you describe the smell?’ is one of the questions I get asked.  ‘Well, it’s like a mixture between Marmite and nail varnish remover.  I can even smell it in the house and it makes me feel sick’ is my reply. 

Then there are the flies – I know in the summer you expect the odd house fly to invade your home, but the plagues we have to cope with are ridiculous.  My mother purchased me one of those tennis racquet fly squats with the electric current running through it from a well-known discount store (Poundland) and I’m getting so adept I could well train for the ladies’ Davis cup team.

However, the biggest irony is that in order to create this so-called new ‘green’ resource recovery park they’re going to destroy acres of woodland – trees that have been there for many years and that are home to a variety of wildlife.  I’m no Bill Oddie, but there are significant numbers of deer, red kite, and other birds which call this area home.

When there are literally hundreds of brownfield sites lying empty, why are they planning to put this here and destroy these trees?  It simply doesn’t make any sense to me or the other 600 people (approx) who’ve signed an online petition about it.

For more information, or to sign the petition, please visit the following link.  Thank you.

I read Michelle Morgan’s column in this Thursday’s Telegraph (10th January) with a wry smile... I too had noticed that this year people had left their Christmas decorations up long after Twelfth Night.

Just on my street my opposite neighbour only removed their wreath yesterday, and next door still have an array of twinkling lights in a Christmas tree growing in the back garden!

Now, I’m not normally superstitious, but I’m pretty sure I’ve been told somewhere that it’s considered bad luck to have such things on display after the festive season has ended.

In fact, one year I had a small snowman hanging in the hallway which we’d forgotten to take down by 6th January – I then wouldn’t let my husband remove it until the following year because I thought it could be unlucky.  To be fair, it was very small, tasteful and unobtrusive so nobody probably even noticed it!

This topic got me thinking then about superstitions.  Not walking under ladders seems obvious to me – you don’t want something to drop on your head from the work being carried out above.

However, others seem less sensible, like saluting magpies.  Does anyone else do this or know from where it originated?! 

I ‘acquired’ this habit from a lady I once worked with at RS Components – we were travelling together to Peterborough on a computer course and every so often she’d wave her hand.  When I asked her why, she replied, very matter of factly, ‘I’m saluting magpies!  It’s bad luck not to.’  I’d never heard of this before, but I did remember the Magpie TV show from the 70s and its theme tune of ‘One for sorrow, two for joy’, so I thought that maybe there was something to it.  I’m almost ashamed to admit that I too have saluted the little black and white birds ever since, which makes driving down Gretton Brook Road an absolute ‘joy’ as they’re everywhere!!

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

I’m not a huge fan of daytime TV.  I prefer the radio when I’m at home as I find it less intrusive – I just have it on in the background while I’m working and tune in and out at will.

But, I did have the television on today whilst eating my lunch and I have to report that the adverts they show at lunchtime are DIRE.  This is a selection of what’s shown – payday loans, PPI claims, a couple of holiday ones (because it’s January and we’re all depressed), diets (ditto), have you been injured ambulance chaser types, lots and lots of bingo and gambling sites, and lottery ads.

Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but there was a time when phrases such as ‘The Health Lottery’ and the ‘Postcode Lottery’ were bad things, and referred to your chances of getting treatment on the NHS for various complaints depending on where you lived.

But now their meaning has been skewed to be positive, and we have a jolly Welshman shouting about the joys of the Postcode Lottery and various winners of the Health Lottery boasting about what they’ve bought with their winnings – ‘I bought my Mum a mobility scooter’ being my current favourite.

I don’t often buy a lottery ticket – occasionally when it’s a huge rollover I’ve given into temptation – because I know the odds of winning are miniscule.  I’m no mathematician (or Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory) but even I know I’m more likely to be struck by lightning than win a jackpot.  So why, oh why, do we carry on buying into this idea that we could win?  What is it about the human psyche that encourages us to waste at least a pound a week on something that we probably know we have very little chance of winning?

It’s perhaps because we all know people who have won something – even locally there was the team of bus drivers in Corby who won the EuroMillions jackpot for example.  And that’s the reason I think people carry on doing it.  If you’re in a syndicate at work, you don’t want to be the only one left if your colleagues win big.  Or at least, that’s the reason I’ve paid in to work groups in the past!  Can you imagine how awful you’d feel if your workmates won millions and they’re driving Aston Martins and sipping Champagne (not at the same time, obviously, as that would be illegal and dangerous) while you’re still sitting there doing the same job, and possibly theirs as well!!

Monday, 7 January 2013

A friend:     So, I read your blog.  It’s quite good I suppose.

Me:             Thanks (I think).

A friend:     But I don’t get the name.  That’s not your real name.

Me:             No, I write under a pseudonym.

A friend:     Yeah, but why Helen Bach?

Me:             Well, it’s a joke isn’t it?

A friend:     But it’s not very funny.

Me:             It’s like those names they do on Ken Bruce’s show on Radio
Two, you know, for example Eileen Dover, Elaine Closed or Annette Curtain.

A friend:     So what’s Helen Bach?

Me:             I took it from the Wham song.

A friend:     What, ‘Last Christmas’?

Me:             No, ‘Freedom’.  It goes (singing) ‘you could drag me to
Helen Bach just as long as we’re together...’

A friend:     So you’ve given yourself a ‘comedy’ name from a Wham song.  Is that really the sort of level you’re pitching at?

Me:             Um, yes, it is actually.  It amused me anyway.

So that’s how I got my blogger name, in case you were interested, which you probably weren’t.  I’m off to listen to Wham’s greatest hits.  Back soon (sorry George)!

Saturday, 5 January 2013

I have to report I’m suffering from NWS.  It started about mid-December and I’m hoping it will end about mid-January.  How do I know this?  Because NWS stands for ‘Neighbours Withdrawal Symptoms’.

Yes, it may be a bit sad to admit it, but I still watch the Aussie soap every day and I’m suffering now it’s on its month long Christmas break.  I started watching it in the late 80s, and save a brief hiatus when I didn’t have a video recorder (remember those?!) and wasn’t home from work in time, I’ve pretty much watched it ever since.

Even now when I spot Alan Dale in a US drama (e.g. The OC, Ugly Betty or NCIS) I still exclaim ‘Ooh look it’s Jim Robinson!’  I laughed out loud when Kevin Bacon name-checked Helen Daniels in his recent EE advert and talked about her keeping breaking her hip (although I was laughing with her rather than at her as hip fractures in the elderly are, of course, no laughing matter).

I happily remember the days of Des and Daphne – him the bank manager, her the reformed stripper turned coffee shop manager with a penchant for parrot earrings – the Ramsay family, gossipy Mrs Mangel, Scott and Charlene’s wedding, and the Madge, Harold and Lewis Carpenter love triangle. 

Then of course there’s Karl and Susan, the stalwarts of the show, who keep getting married and divorced again.  Why can’t they make it work?!  We all know they’re meant to be together – and now I’ve read on Digitalspy that they’re bringing back Sarah Beaumont (remember her?  Karl had an affair with her and split up with Susan) as another fly in the Kennedy relationship ointment.

Not only that but Steph’s due to come home from prison, and Mark Brennan’s coming back from the dead – it’s getting a bit ‘Bobby from Dallas’ for my liking!

But I still loyally watch it, with Paul Robinson being the character I love to hate.  He’s so deliciously-evil, he must be a joy for Stefan Dennis to play – and is it just me, or does he look like an older version of Robbie Williams?!  Discuss.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

I think there must be something wrong with me.  Am I the only woman on the planet who hates shopping?  I mean clothes shopping or shoe shopping – I’m not averse to the grocery shop as that is an essential part of life. 

I loathe the little changing rooms – you know the ones I mean, they’re so small that you can’t manoeuvre out of the clothes you arrived in let alone try on new ones.  Then you’ve got the great big plastic anti-theft device that whacks you in the face as you’re struggling to get into the outfit that you’re now wishing you never bothered to try on.

Don’t get me started on the ones with mirrors on four sides.  I really don’t want to see myself magnified from four unflattering angles, under a light so harsh it drains all colour from your face and makes you age by at least 50 years.

So, it’s not often I go clothes shopping.  But I made an exception in the New Year and I went to Market Harborough.  I don’t know what it is about Harborough, but every time I go I think to myself ‘Why don’t I come here more often?’  It really is a lovely, pleasant place to lose a morning or afternoon, and my fellow shoppers seemed a lot more chilled than in other towns I could mention, but won’t.

I ventured into Doyle’s.  I’d not been there before but had read about it somewhere and thought I’d give it a try.  I have to say, if I had plenty of money I would make the pilgrimage more often.  The assistant – who could easily have been a model – was lovely, and very polite and helpful.  So much so, I even tried on a jacket.  Not just any jacket, no, a half-price in the January sale jacket.  It was beautiful.  A black Barbour called ‘Cookstown’, with military detailing, an asymmetric zip, belted and in a biker-style (oh, get me, I’m even learning the lingo!) 

So, dear reader, did I buy it?  Alas, no.  Even though it was half-price it was still £150 and I couldn’t justify the purchase as I already have a collection of perfectly serviceable coats for all occasions (as my husband was very quick to point out).  But it was truly beautiful and I hope who ever does snap it up enjoys it as much as I would have done.  Sigh.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

I have been listening to Radio 2’s run down of the Nation’s Favourite Number Two singles (which I heard earlier today Ultravox’s ‘Vienna’ won somewhat spoiling the surprise); I’d voted for a-ha’s ‘Take On Me’ out of loyalty to my favourite boy band of the 80s, but I know I should really have voted for ‘Wonderwall’ by Oasis.

I love music, but I’m not in the least bit musical myself – however I did once play in a band, but I only got that gig because it was my brother’s band and he needed me to drive him to it.

People actually paid to see us perform too.  It was at the Cornmarket Hall in Kettering.  We did a three song set consisting of ‘Sweet Jane’ by Velvet Underground, ‘Desire’ by U2 and I think ‘Mannish Boy’ by Muddy Waters – I seem to remember the last two were chosen because of their harmonica interludes, an instrument my brother had recently added to his repertoire.

The concert was called the ‘Red Cross Rave’ – how very 90s! – and it was a charity event.  The band was called The Boston Tea Party, named after a Typhoo tea towel which my Mother owned detailing major events in tea’s history (who’d have thought that was possible?!)  As I had also bought her a ‘Pig Breeds of the UK’ tea towel from a holiday in Norfolk we could well have been called Gloucestershire Oldspot, so let’s be thankful for small mercies.

The instrument I played?  The tambourine of course.  The adult musical equivalent of the triangle you played at primary school.  I just remember having to tap it in time with the music.  I seem to also remember that I decided it would look ‘cooler’ to whack it against my leg and I had bruises where I’d obviously done this too enthusiastically!

But at least I had a go.  That was the only time I ever performed in a band which is a relief for all I’m sure.  When I recently told my daughter about this she seemed reasonably impressed that her old Mum once played in a real band, at a real concert that people paid to attend.  I may have even become ‘cool’ in her eyes for a nanosecond until I revealed the full details!