Posts Tagged ‘Grange Hill


Name my hamster before my kids call it something really crap.

It’s that time again, another hamster has gone to the eternal wheel in the sky, and has been replaced by a new rodent – an as-yet-unnamed miniature rat with a preposterously huge arse.


Im not joking - I took our first hamsters back twice because I couldnt accept that their arses could be this freaking huge

I'm not joking - I took our first hamsters back twice because I couldn't accept that their arses could be this freaking huge

And so the naming hell begins. My children wanted to call the new arrival Buttboy, but I vetoed it on the grounds that they have Bebo and MySpace pages and I didn’t want them getting the kind of ‘granny vagina’ search engine perverts that I attract visiting their sites. They’re MY readers: I need the hits, they don’t.

The naming fiasco reminds me of the Blue Peter (for those who are nonplussed, it’s a kind of gentle , hypnotically boring children’s magazine programme on the BBC that has been running for several thousand years) ‘Cookie-gate’ scandal which saw the naming of a cat cause national outrage in what became the ultimate example of purrlitical correctness gone mad.

In January 2007, children were introduced to the new Blue Peter kitten and asked to suggest names that would suit him. They sent suggestions in their thousands, and then voted for their favourite name on the show’s website.

The first choice was Cookie, the second choice was Socks. My suggestions – Hitler, Princess Diana, The Boston Strangler and Crippen – were pipped at the post, although a subsequent email from the programme’s producers promised they would be kept on file just in case the 700-year-old tortoise pops his clogs and has to be replaced and renamed in a hurry.

Despite having offered children the carrot of democracy, it was swiftly grated into the salad of deception by a streetwise production crew who pointed out that ‘cookie’ is a slang term for a lady’s hoohah (hoohah being a technical term which refers to a woman’s thingy) and that to avoid mass revulsion, the BP cat would have to be called Socks, instead.


Who you calling a pussy?

Socks/Cookie: "Who you calling a pussy?"


Now I pride myself on being able to out-swear the most foul-mouthed of troopers, but I’ve never heard the word ‘cookie’ used as anything other than a term for a cake-like biscuit. When my son asked for cookies and milk, I had no idea that he was subversively denigrating the female reproductive system by using offensive slang – obviously now that I do, I’ve locked him in the cellar with a pile of bras to burn until he learns the error of his ways.

Anyway, the Blue Peter cat was given his new name and free speech was crushed under the jack boot of adult oppression which then marched onwards to dupe young viewers again in a fake phone-in scandal which cost the BBC (in other words the licence payers) a £50,000 fine.

The show lost its editor over Cookie-gate and the BBC announced that it would be introducing another weekly episode of Blue Peter (itself a porn star’s name if ever I heard one) in order to allow the presenters to apologise for all the show’s other past untruths, including the time Valerie Singleton once suggested a group of plump majorettes from Huddersfield would be entertaining.

My own children remained distinctly unmoved by the Cookie scandal, mainly because they ignore Blue Peter on the grounds that it’s boring. If they knew it was packed full of lies, they might be considerably more interested in tuning in.

Blue Peter has always been boring, the kind of parent-approved tripe that was always the consolation prize when Grange Hill wasn’t on, packed as it was with tedious historical re-enactments, devilishly difficult craft projects and a creepy obsession with abseiling.

If you managed to watch an entire episode of Blue Peter without at least one presenter pointlessly abseiling from a great height, you were doing well. If you managed to watch an episode where no-one abseiled, made an Iceni village out of lolly sticks, introduced an item about a boring group of Brownies from Bangor or mentioned the sodding Advent Crown, you were doing really well.

It’s not for nothing that the only nostalgic clip from Blue Peter that anyone remembers is that elephant emptying its bowels on the studio floor – when your cultural significance is measured by a steaming pile of crap you have to start asking yourself a few searching questions.


Youll never guess what the elephant did next! Oh. Youve seen this clip nine million times before. Ah.

"You'll never guess what the elephant did next! Oh. You've seen this clip nine million times before. Ah."


By the time I started watching Blue Peter, which I did because there was literally nothing else on television and because watching people abseil off multi-storey car parks was marginally more interesting than attempting my maths homework, there weren’t even any elephants with irritable bowel syndrome to lighten the proceedings.

The most exciting it got was when Simon Groom said: “what a lovely pair of knockers!” when admiring some door furniture on Durham Cathedral, and frankly, children cannot survive on boob jokes alone. As it was, I practically topped myself when Blue Peter added an extra weekly episode.

No-one at my school liked Blue Peter. When someone won a BP badge for sending in a suggestion about shredded newspaper being a suitable alternative for straw in Freda the tortoise’s hibernation box, they were shunned by their peers for weeks.

Admitting you watched Blue Peter was like confessing that you had a penchant for Songs of Praise and Antiques Roadshow and that in your spare time you liked composing poems for the baby Jesus and accompanying your Nan to her appointments at the podiatrist’s to have her corns lanced.

Frankly, I’m not sure how many more lies from Blue Peter I can take before I actually have to start watching it again in order to learn how to lie to my own children more effectively. After all, if the naming of a cat made the national news, heaven knows what’s going to happen when the kids find out about Father Christmas.

*** Special ‘Two for One’ offer today, and indeed every Monday unless I can’t be bothered – the WIB’s newspaper column, this week with added bitterness and bile! Wrote less than normal this week, so you get more eye/nostril action for your money – oh yeah, I treat you real nice. The Woman in Black at work

PS I do not write the straplines for my page. That fucking exclamation mark isn’t my doing – it’s the cat’s arse of punctuation and should be used sparingly, like chillies or bleach.

PPS Any hamster names gratefully received. They’ve already turned down ‘Fritzl’. No sense of humour, my kids.


Harness the power of your children’s annoyingness to lose weight and tone up

There’s good news and there’s bad news.

The good news is that doctors have discovered that six minutes of exercise a week does as much to improve a person’s fitness as a regime of six hours every seven days.

The bad news is that you still have to do six minutes of exercise a week.

According to the Journal of Applied Physiology, moderately healthy men and women could cut their workouts from two hours a day, three times a week, to just two minutes a day and achieve the same results.

Of course I’m not entirely sure what a “moderately healthy” man or woman is like, but presumably they do everything in moderation, and therefore smoke only five to 10 cigarettes a day and eat deep-fried Mars Bars just on Fridays and Bank Holiday Mondays.

Anyway – presuming you’re moderately healthy (somewhere between terminally ill and Madonna) you can get away with “enduring the discomfort of high-intensity activity” for six minutes a week by “cycling furiously on a stationary bicycle in four 30-second bursts”.
This seems but a simple step up – or perhaps down – from what I’m already doing, which is driving while furious in 30-second bursts in snarled-up citycentre traffic in a car which is normally stationary. Perhaps this makes me more than moderately healthy.

For those of you less active souls, you’re going to have to find a stationary bicycle, which means strapping your entire family to the saddle of your normal bike and trying to make it up Mam Tor or Snowdon or visiting a gym and unleashing a whole new level of self-hatred into your life.

By rights, when you visit a gym you should be surrounded by grossly obese individuals wheezing like punctured bagpipes and sweating like onions in a hot pan – after all, they’re the buggers that need it.Instead, you find yourself in a sea of pure muscle, searching for an inch of body fat like Zammo hunted for heroin on the toilet floor at Grange Hill.

Why aren’t these people out celebrating the fact they can see their toes?

If I had abdominal muscles that could crack walnuts, I wouldn’t be in the bloody gym every night – I’d be dancing on a table in Stringfellows andinviting some bloke from Hollyoaks to open his beer bottle on my navel. This kind of attitude is, of course, why I do not have abdominal muscles that could crack walnuts.

Facing facts, the very best you can hope for at the gym is that there will be a sizeable contingent of desperately ugly people who work out obsessively because they want to make sure that, at the very least, they look OK from the back.

Perhaps it’s possible to bypass the stationary bike and substitute cycling for other forms of equally strenous exercise, like “enduring the discomfort” of taking the children shoe-shopping, or listening to other people’s kids singing at school shows.

Granted, my fitness plan takes an hour and a half a day, five days a week, but I think you’ll find it easy to fit into your daily routine without having to waste six precious minutes cycling nowhere when you could be using that time to eat a bun.

Start: 3pm. Finish: 4.30pm. Special equipment needed: children.

How it works: You burn off calories depending on the activity you undertake. Your aim is to burn off more calories than you ingest, but if you break even, frankly it will be a miracle. For example, the following activities burn off the following number of calories:

1) Rush to complete work before leaving for school run: 40 calories.

2) Rush from work to school, fail to find parking space. Finally find space 1.5 miles from the playground, limp to school in high heels while mowing down as few tinies as possible, arrive eight minutes late (again) and receive disapproving frown from classroom assistant: 150 calories.

3) Have a bar of chocolate and can of Coke at the shop while buying “sorry for being late (again)” treat for daughter:  minus 800 calories.

4) Attempt to squeeze through the gap between the hedge and the row of 4x4s parked between shop and car: 200 calories.

5) Argument about why I cannot buy another jumbo pack of cereal in order to get a mini light sabre which will inevitably be blue again, because we have a backlog of 478 cereal packets at home and we still haven’t found a green light sabre (substitute for whichever toy/book/pointless piece of tat is currently being given away by cereal companies): 70 calories.

6) Try to get children to eat dinner, including the “children in Africa…” lecture: 600 calories.

7) Eat children’s dinner because it shouldn’t go to waste: minus 800 calories.

If you feel particularly strong, you can supplement this plan with extra options, such as chasing children up and down stairs brandishing a nit comb (100 calories), removing plasters from their knees (200 calories) or explaining the facts of life to them (9,000 calories). Suddenly cycling for six minutes a week doesn’t seem like such a bad deal.

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