Being a ‘great mind’ is hard work…

LAST week I was taught a new saying: great minds discuss ideas, small minds discuss people.

Sadly, through lots of highly scientific research (listening to my own conversations) I now know which camp I fall into.

I’m not the next Einstein, that’s for sure.

This particular pearl of wisdom came from The Fiance, who may or may not have made it up.

He only half-listens at the best of times, and is probably congratulating himself as we speak on his clever ruse to stop me talking so much.

“That’s the last I’ll be hearing about the Kardashians!” he’ll be saying, while dancing a celebratory jig around his office.

“There’ll be no more gossip! No more Heat magazine! No more listening to what ‘this person said’, or ‘that person did’. I’m free! Maybe now I’ll be able to watch the Formula One in peace!”

It’s been a shocking few days as I’ve realised just how much time I spend indulging my preoccupation with the actions of others (or, as some would say, ‘bitching’).

“I cannot be-LIEVE what she just did!” is how a lot of conversations start.

So I’ve been trying to discuss ‘concepts’ more than ‘soap operas’.

“So…Fiance…what DO you think were the economic ramifications of the civil war?”

“Which one?” he asked.

I rack my brains, then reply magnanimously: “Any. You choose!”

It’s tough trying to be a great mind, I’ll admit.

But I’ve had something of a brainwave in the last 24 hours.

“Fiance, here’s a question. What do you think about the IDEA of someone – say, a soap character – having an affair and running off with the family’s life savings?”

He looks up quickly, a pained expression in his eyes, as his dreams of peaceful F1 sessions slip rapidly beyond his grasp.

Round one: Anna.

I think I might be a great mind after all.

Article first published in The Westmorland Gazette on May 22, 2014.


“We’ll have none of that ‘post-Robbie’ rubbish…”

TODAY I’ll be mainly sitting in a darkened room weeping nostalgically for the ‘good old days’.

It turns out that I am old – and not ‘cool old’ like Mick Jagger or George Clooney, but ‘bad old’, where I own Reeboks and get the names of pop bands wrong (One Dimension, anyone?)

What sparked this depressing epiphany was an inoccuous conversation in the office about music.

“1995 was a sad year, wasn’t it?” I remarked to a couple of my colleagues.

I got blank faces all round.

“It was when Robbie Williams left Take That!” I explained. “You must remember…?”

“Well actually, ” said one. “I don’t remember it.”

She paused.

“Because I was only three at the time.”

Oh dear God, I thought, she’s still at primary school and she’s conned the Gazette into giving her a job.

“Except,” said a loud voice in my head, “she’s not at primary school is she? She can legally drive, get married and drink!”

I tried to shush the Harsh Voice of Truth, but it continued without my permission.

“She was born in the nineties…and she can legally drink…IN AMERICA!”

It’s come as something of a shock that I’m no longer the ‘yoof’ I thought I was even though, now I think about, the signs were all there.

Exhibit A: my shoes, these days, are mainly comfy.

Exhibit B: I don’t like clubbing anymore. (And why did I ever enjoy being cooped up in a loud, hot room with hundreds of strangers?)

Exhibit C: my niece thinks I’m old – and has told me several times.

Exhibit D: I have a lot of grey hair and I talk like my grandma.

So I’m going to spend the rest of the day in a darkened room, holding a candlelit vigil for naturally brown hair, unwrinkled skin and the ability to wear stilettoes without getting blisters.

I may even put on a bit of Take That – although there’ll be none of that post-Robbie rubbish, obviously.

Article first published in The Westmorland Gazette on May 15, 2014.

Nought to topless in the time it takes two clouds to part…

THE sun showed its face for about three minutes last week and half of Kendal immediately stripped to its underwear.

It turns out the men of Cumbria can collectively go from nought to topless in the time it takes for two clouds to part.

“Phwoar, it’s roasting out here today!” said a vitamin D-starved man, as the temperature gauge wobbled above freezing.

“I’ve got to do something about this heat!”

His wife responded: “Alright, Frank, calm down, I’m as frazzled as you are – but there’s no need to take your trousers off too.”

It’s safe to say we’re a predictable bunch when it comes to that hallowed of occasions: The First Sun of the Year.

The men strut about, topless – or at least in their ‘slightly-shorter-than-normal’ trousers – ignoring their goose bumps and pretending it’s mid-July.

The women throw off their chunky jumpers with gay abandon, dig out last year’s flip flops and rush to the nearest ice-cream van.

“This might be the only summer we’re going to get!” you hear them cry.

“You know what the weather’s like – it’ll be raining come the school holidays. I won’t get a tan at all if I don’t make the most of it now!”

People also start talking vaguely but optimistically about ‘getting the barbie out’ or ‘finding a beer garden’.

As a result, you suddenly start to see couples shivering their way through romantic picnics, and women quietly pulling a cardigan on over their sun dress, that they’ve conceded ‘might not have been a good idea after all’.

But that’s Britain for you.

And if we didn’t do that we could easily go one year to the next, slowly forgetting about the existence of ‘that yellow ball we sometimes used to see’.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, a patch of blue just appeared in the sky that I really ought to make the most of.

Cornetto, anyone?

Article first published in The Westmorland Gazette on April 24, 2014