Friday, February 10, 2006

New blog - new adventures...

Hello troops!

I have a new blog - with all the latest debauchery. Check it out at: www.boomsticks.lastminuteliving.com

I don't use this one much anymore... the littleone has flown the nest!

My radio show blog is www.thebigsmoke.lastminuteliving.com
listen live to The Big Smoke at any time of the day for the best of London living.

LIVE EVERY LAST MINUTE!!

Friday, December 30, 2005

X in the City - Anyone for rabbit?

Christmas began with tears this year. Not mine for once (though a cocktail induced hangover nearly pushed me to the limit). No, the tears poured from the eyes of my little sister. Her present had been eaten – twitching nose and all.

It started well. She’d received a pair of darling little bundles of fluff as a Christmas Eve surprise and after hours of love and affection, Chocolate and Marshmallow were put safely back in their cage. Later, after returning from the Christmas pub gathering, we discovered a missing Marshmallow and a very guilty looking German shepherd.

Rabbit murder aside, the day progressed with the usual mix of Aussie cheer and I’m happy to report that the essential festive factors were present:

1. Insufficient wrapping paper to cover that last emergency gift.
2. Sexy underwear that surely won’t fit (Mum, I wish my bum was THAT small!)
3. A vow to fit into those tiny sexy knickers before New Years Eve.
4. Flies as thick as whipped cream (don’t open your mouth too wide!)
5. A token English visitor complaining about the flies.
6. Echoes of “shut the door – you’ll let the flies in!!”
7. An overworked Mum.
8. The magician-like relative who disappears every time there’s cleaning to be done.
9. The niece who wants Grandad to play with their new toys – again, and again…
10. The Grandad who consequently seeks refuge in the veggie patch (surely she won’t find him THERE?!
11. Tipsy Aunties.
12. Far too much food.
13. An expanding waistline.

How was yours?

When it comes to an Australian Christmas, things are done to the extreme. I’d almost forgotten the dramas involved with inviting the city dwellers to our family farm for a weekend of constant barbecues and fine wine. My mother is the all-nurturing; ‘get out of my kitchen’ type of woman. No belly is too big to feed and damn it, “I’m gonna make it ALL from scratch!” She slaves away for weeks baking, preparing fresh vegetables and barley moving an inch from the kitchen.

And for what I ask? The ravenous hoards guzzle the feast before it even hits the table. I for one, am guilty. In an attempt to assist the chef, I found myself diverted from the sink, towards the food-laden plates. Does anyone else eat more than their stomach can hold simply by taste testing?

Mum tends to cater for all at Christmas time – in honour of our British heritage; we have both a roast lunch and a fresh cold spread. She’d give the finest buffet master a run for their money. They kill their own beasts on the farm so the meat was fresh and never-ending. Our three freezers overflow with chopped carcasses and the barbecue barely had time to catch its smoky breath. I didn’t touch the char-grilled flesh but the carnivores of the group tell me it was top notch.

A word of warning however, if you don’t want you sexuality questioned, when complimenting the chef on his fine Aussie steak, do not let the word “gorgeous” leave your mouth. That is, unless you want your sexuality questioned. As my sister snakily informed my London boy, “A steak can’t be gorgeous… it’s bloody great!”

And indeed it was, the highs, the lows, the sun, the smiles and the marathon family photo session. Even the never-ending mountain of dirty dishes was worth the trauma. Christmas with the family has never been so enjoyable. For the first time in 14 years we were all there, every mad one of us.. I knew I came back from England for a reason.

Next year we’ll just order take-out and bulk buy paper plates.

And the latest on my grieving sister… she developed an allergy to the remaining bunny and is bed-ridden with asthma and angry red hives.

Next year we’ll get her a gold fish.

Living next door to Crowe!

G’day mates!

Within one week walking the Australian soil I have managed to catch a dose of hay-fever, burn myself to a crisp, scoff oysters Kilpatrick, fight dizziness in a revolving restaurant, ride on the world’s steepest train, tentatively pat a stinky koala, and observe Russell Crowe’s sunbaking techniques.

Yes, it’s all happening ‘Down Under’ – wish you were here to sunburn with me.

The koala encounters, sun scares and Sydney Harbour cruises are all part of travelling with a British Boyfriend. As are the joys of stubby holder hunting and countless mammoth ‘all you can eat’ breakfast buffets. Sharing a hotel however, with the Gladiator himself was not something we’d expected. I guess it’s all part of the Palazzo Versace Hotel dream. To be honest, I wouldn’t have recognised him if a gossiping cabbie hadn’t informed me he was staying at our hotel. The man is huge. Forget toned, bulging arms and ripples muscles; flab has replaced the brawn… and his stubble is fast approaching forest status. Obviously his days as a wannabe rock star are taking their toll on his tum.

Luckily for all involved, I failed to witness the launch of any mobile phones or other dangerous implements. Personally, I was disappointed – a Russell Crowe induced food fight in the middle of the stunning Versace buffet would have been classic. Caramelised bananas would have made the perfect soggy missiles.

If you ever get the chance to visit the Versace Hotel on the Gold Coast – do it. A word of warning though; storm a bank or cash in on your Grandpa’s inheritance first… the place is costly. Worth every cent, according to my better half with the credit card. Why use an ordinary shower cap when you can use a Versace version?!It goes without saying; the maids’ trolleys were severely depleted in our devious kleptomaniac souvenir runs. One can never have too many Versace shampoo and conditioners.

The award for the ‘memory of the trip’ goes to- a surprise marshmallow bath with the lot. Think hot chocolate fondue, strawberries and marshmallows. Bubbles galore, a spa big enough to drown in (and I damn well nearly did… I blame the champas!) and a bathroom full of candles. I regret to report that the champagne was also responsible for a lack of ‘lovin’. Let’s just say, after emptying the bath, the romantic Casanova returned to the bedroom to find his maiden zonked out on the bed.

We are now in Adelaide, adjusting to the confusing sight of Santa in the baking sun, icy decorations in the heat of summer and flies in every orifice! Nannas have been visited, BBQs attended, dreadlocks admired and vegemite consumed.

Tomorrow it’s farm time… bring on the milky udders, manure covered quad bikes and wilting Christmas trees. I’m informed that there are 50 bonbons to be hand made and 2,500 bovines to be milked. I think I miss London already…

Have a great and snowy Christmas Londoners… I’ll report next from the cow paddock. Bridget Jones eat your British heart out!

We have lift off!

"Are we there yet?"

These are the dreaded words that will ring in my ears from the very moment we board the plane, to the moment we stagger off. Yes, all 25 hours of tomorrow's flight to Australia.I won't be the one asking the questions; I've been there, done that and know that no amount of crying, whingeing or sleeping will make the flight pass by faster. I know full well that the novelty of cute pre-packaged airplane food wears off after the second meal, that the seemingly never-ending movie channels do grow boring and that downing bucket-loads of the free mini wine bottles will only end in tears when you can't get to the loo in time.

Unfortunately, my boyfriend isn't aware of the joys of a long haul flight... and it will be his voice piping out over the heads of our grumpy, cramped neighbours.If I was the praying type, I'd be asking for one thing... don't put any screaming babies in my cabin and PLEASE let me remember my passport when I arise at the ungodly hour of 5.00am. Please let the taxi arrive on time, please don't let the Heathrow Express break down and I beg you; make mine a window seat!

My biggest worry is the distinct possibility of my bag blowing the weight restriction-scale. Do you know how long it took to try on every item of clothing I own, wail about tightening waistbands and crying over the shoes I have to leave behind? It's official; I hate packing.

If I do make it through the icy jaws of steel that greet me at the check-in, I then have to face the evil temptation of Tax Free shopping. My plan is simple; bypass the pre-Christmas sales and head straight for the boarding gate. I will then use all my powers of womanly persuasion to convince the man on duty to let me climb the stair to first class. Gawd help me if it's a woman.

Yes, it's a tough life for the economy class. I may be heading home to the family farm but I think the cattle-yard experience on the way over will serve me justice.

Despite it all, the thought of the 25 hour barrage of "I'm bored", "My legs hurt", "Want to swap dinners?" and "Can I have your peanuts" can't even dampen my excitement now. I'm off to the sandy white shores of Australia and the open arms of my family. 3 years of homesickness and sun-deprivation is finally coming to an end.

The next time you hear from me I'll be swanning about the Versace hotel in an oversized dressing gown. The champagne in my hand will shake from the pure exhilaration of my very own 'Pretty Woman' moment. I'm sure you shouldn't jump on a Versace bed but I've always been one to break the glitterati rules. I'm gonna bounce those gold edged sheets like they've never been bounced before!

Bring on the massages, bring on the drawling Aussie locals, the pubs, the beer, the outdoor BBQs and the sand between my toes. I may be a high maintenance madam from the city now - but the farm girl within will be released this Christmas.

I'll milk a cow or 2,500, ride a quad bike like a woman unleashed and get covered with the inevitable wave of cow manure. Watch this space for all the gory, 'udderly' bovine details.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

We have lift off!!

"Are we there yet?"

These are the dreaded words that will ring in my ears from the very moment we board the plane, to the moment we stagger off. Yes, all 25 hours of tomorrow's flight to Australia.

I won't be the one asking the questions; I've been there, done that and know that no amount of crying, whingeing or sleeping will make the flight pass by faster. I know full well that the novelty of cute pre-packaged airplane food wears off after the second meal, that the seemingly never-ending movie channels do grow boring and that downing bucket-loads of the free mini wine bottles will only end in tears when you can't get to the loo in time.

Unfortunately, my boyfriend isn't aware of the joys of a long haul flight... and it will be his voice piping out over the heads of our grumpy, cramped neighbours.

If I was the praying type, I'd be asking for one thing... don't put any screaming babies in my cabin and PLEASE let me remember my passport when I arise at the ungodly hour of 5.00am. Please let the taxi arrive on time, please don't let the Heathrow Express break down and I beg you; make mine a window seat!

My biggest worry is the distinct possibility of my bag blowing the weight restriction-scale. Do you know how long it took to try on every item of clothing I own, wail about tightening waistbands and crying over the shoes I have to leave behind? It's official; I hate packing.

If I do make it through the icy jaws of steel that greet me at the check-in, I then have to face the evil temptation of Tax Free shopping. My plan is simple; bypass the pre-Christmas sales and head straight for the boarding gate. I will then use all my powers of womanly persuasion to convince the man on duty to let me climb the stair to first class. Gawd help me if it's a woman.

Yes, it's a tough life for the economy class. I may be heading home to the family farm but I think the cattle-yard experience on the way over will serve me justice.

Despite it all, the thought of the 25 hour barrage of "I'm bored", "My legs hurt", "Want to swap dinners?" and "Can I have your peanuts" can't even dampen my excitement now. I'm off to the sandy white shores of Australia and the open arms of my family. 3 years of homesickness and sun-deprivation is finally coming to an end.

The next time you hear from me I'll be swanning about the Versace hotel in an oversized dressing gown. The champagne in my hand will shake from the pure exhilaration of my very own 'Pretty Woman' moment. I'm sure you shouldn't jump on a Versace bed but I've always been one to break the glitterati rules. I'm gonna bounce those gold edged sheets like they've never been bounced before!

Bring on the massages, bring on the drawling Aussie locals, the pubs, the beer, the outdoor BBQs and the sand between my toes. I may be a high maintenance madam from the city now - but the farm girl within will be released this Christmas.
I'll milk a cow or 2,500, ride a quad bike like a woman unleashed and get covered with the inevitable wave of cow manure. Watch this space for all the gory, 'udderly' bovine details.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Pre-Aussie slimming dramas - Chinese style.


Something that tastes this bad surely can't be good for you...

As I sit here typing away in a distinct Carrie Bradshaw fashion, I can't help but wonder about my dwindling sanity levels. It all comes down to my choice of drink... I'm not delicately sipping from a sugar-rimmed cocktail. I'm not even gulping a glass of water. No, I am forcing dank, dark green liquid down my fragile throat. You guessed it, all in the name of ‘healthy’ weight loss.

The tea smouldering away in my mug is Chinese slimming tea. An image of a slim woman stares up at me from the bright orange packaging. Oh, to be a cartoon character… who needs airbrushing when you call your illustrator God?

Before you cry “fool”, you need to know that I didn't buy the tea myself. It was a gift from a generous (or downright vindictive) friend. Either she's having a laugh or was blessed with abnormal taste buds.

Forget green tea my fellow Londonites - it's sooo yesterday.
You know what, to hell with this - I'm moving into tomorrow - and FAST! But first I need to visit the 'facilities'. Whoa! It may not be shifting cellulite but this tea sure moves something! Hold that thought.

Right, I'm back... where was I? Oh yes...

You may query the reason for my self-induced torture. Well, my latest fatal flaw involves believing every health tip I read and in this advice suckling society there's no shortage of reading material. I've become a vitamin popping, leaf eating, seed gobbling junkie. Does it work? Maybe... I don't stick with many miracle solutions long enough to find out. Honestly, my shoe collection is suffering! I'm spending my hard earned shrapnel on seaweed.

It doesn't take a genius to work out why my fixation outer beauty has suddenly escalated far beyond Everest; I am heading home to Australia in one week's time. I have seven measly days to trim down, tan up and prepare myself for the land of bikinis and beautiful bronzed siblings.

The situation has become so desperate that I even spent a large chunk of Sunday in the gym. THAT, my dear friends, is sacrilegious behaviour. I don't 'do' the gym and the gym certainly doesn't do me. The running machines jar my poor, not so little bosom, the sight of taught fitness freaks sends me into little lady paranoia and the personal trainers scare the living hell out of me. People who enjoy causing pain to innocent young cake lovers should be ashamed of themselves. Sure, they contribute to the beauty of our 'surroundings' but even security guards show more compassion than these ogres.

Anyway, to cut a long, sweat-filled saga short, I loved it.
I'll eat my words and not my cake... the gym and I have finally made peace. Sure, it may be just the novelty of having something new to moan about, but my post gym palpitations felt good. In fact, they felt great.

I may not yet look the part, but six weeks of sun and surf in the Land Down Under and I'll be the one laughing.


Enjoy your pale Christmas guys. I'd send you a hideously patronising postcard but somehow, I don't think there'll be time. Relaxation is a time consuming business you know.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Table tales... when Christmas and family collide


Feathers, leather or a second helping of Sunday roast? Now THAT is the question

The Erotica 2005 festival made a sexy appearance in London over the weekend and despite a shy determination to go (all in the name of a juicy column), I missed out. While the rest of you got whipped, licked and pleasantly tortured, I boarded an overcrowded train and headed towards the English Countryside. I was met there by a sensory overload of an altogether different kind - Christmas dinner with the potential in-laws.

Attire was an ordeal. Instead of kitten heels and a cheeky grin, I donned an all black modest number. Teamed with a 'butter wouldn't melt in my microwave, let alone my mouth’ smile, I couldn’t lose.

You may think I'm mad... chances are you're spot on (they just haven't committed me yet). Honestly, what could be more amusing than a weekend of watching other people get their bits out and prance about waving various elongated electronic members? Easy, a mass family gathering. It’s as simple as that.

To their credit, the family in question performed to perfection. All the essential ingredients were thrown into the mix:

1. Two young females intent on holding up the entire family with their pre-dinner grooming.

2. A daughter who couldn't get into the car due to a leg restricting pencil skirt. All in the name of fashion daaaahling!

3. An extra (lower) car to transport the aforementioned fashionista.

4. A house full of tasty nibbles and quick fingered sons. (hint number one: learn to love olives and you'll never go hungry). Most people won't touch the little taste explosions.

5. The gallant Uncle who fills your glass when you ask him to... and when you don't.

6. The wishful Aunty who desperately tries to offer her sons’ water to delay the onset of intoxication.

7. The dad in the corner fighting sleep with yet another glass of red.

8. A host rattling pans in an attempt to sound productive… before emerging with a picture perfect meal courtesy of Marks and Spenser’s.

9. Four competitive sons, all in various levels of inebriation.

10. The interloper (that's me!) who politely accepts everything placed before her. The result? A mad dash smuggle of smoked salmon to my neighbour's plate and more wine than this lightweight should encounter in a week, let alone an evening.

11. Various 'family stories, bad jokes and inevitable... the family photo album.

12. A few tears (no one remembers why), a small domestic and a kiss and make-up.

13. An impromptu dance routine.

14. A father to son deep and meaningful.

15. An impatient taxi driver with nerves of steel and the driving intent of an F1 contender.

16. Hot coffee, warm bed, aching head and a resounding vow of “never again”.

The next morning the call came... "What a fab night... simply MUST do it all again!"Can't wait. We’ll be back in a fortnight.

The pre Christmas celebrations came early this year because I'll be in Australia in two weeks time, introducing my Knight in shining Gucci to my own manic family members. In this case, it'll be held on the farm, surrounded by dozens of Aussie children, nanas and pets. Count them - 2 dogs, a possum, guinea pigs and 2,500 cows. At least we won't run out of milk.
I don't know what my poor lad is more scared by... the snakes, spiders and blowflies or meeting my Dad.

No matter where we are in the world, Christmas will involve the good, the bad, the ugly and the downright hilarious family gatherings. It may be just you and your goldfish, or half a township that just happen to share your last name. Whether it's beneath falling snow in the UK, amongst beer swilling Bavarians in Germany or under the blaring Australian sun - we'll all have our moments of Christmas lovin'.

Love it or hate it... it's coming near! Stock those cupboards, stuff that feathered beast, knit that hideous woollen jumper and prepare your cheeks for a healthy slathering of Nana slobber. Bring it on - I can't wait!

Fight it no longer - the stores are decked with holly and enticing SALE signs. Fa-la-la-la-la your way through the end of November because like it or not, Christmas is here and it doesn’t look set to go anywhere.

On the upside, the Christmas Parties are approaching and bosses all over the country will be palming out hangover funds. I'll miss mine, but perhaps that's fate. I'll be spending the night at the Versace Hotel on the Gold Coast (yes, the I'm a Celebrity crowd will still be there!). Soon after I'll be heading towards the open arms of my delightfully imperfect, over-enthusiastic family members.

You know what... for once, that's exactly where I want to be.

I have a date with Darius again this week... on stage, in Chicago - the Musical. Keep your eye on the http://www.020.com/ site for details.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Glamour? Anything but...

After writing out the day's entry in the first half of my lunch break, I then managed to lose it all - 'Kapow!' Gone, never to be seen again. And so I sit, ploughing through it again, grumpy and increasing the chances of an onset of RSI within the next 12 months. If I sound narky, that's why.

I went to a charity fashion glamour party last night at Tantra - it was played up to be MASSIVE but was pretty average to tell you the truth. A few of the Big Brother 'stars' (or should I say 'mon-stars') were flitting about trying to appear aloof in their new found 'fame'. I think their time in the spotlight is drawing to a near. After all, the next instalment starts soon. Gawd help us. There was also a smattering of singers (Javine) etc. but honestly, you couldn't see anything through the photographers! I got stuck behind a photographer the size of 3 houses (mansions with extensions more like it) and had to stand a further foot back to escape the pong! The "free cocktails" turned out to be a splash of vodka with a haphazard dash of cheap juice thrown in by a bored barman. This brings me to the biggest let down of the night - the bar and security staff. Talk about a bar full of incompetent tossers - more interested in chatting amongst themselves than earning their wages.

The security looked like stunned mullets and only perked up briefly when Jodie Marsh pranced out in a Gwen Steffani-inspired costume. Pity it wasn't pulled off in the way dear Gwen manages to. Maybe it was the over-zealous pig tails (can they even be over-zealous?!) These bunches were so big they'd make Dumbo's lobes look small.

We left before the fashion parade even started - when my boy won't even eat the canapés you know it's a bad event! Little glistening sausages just don't cut it. When you're used to events with prawns and little vodka shot deserts, dry prehistoric chicken strips just don't go down well. (Not to be picky but honestly, they should know better!!) If budget was a problem they should offer carrot sticks and hummus. Cheap, cheerful and at least the ladies would eat them.

At least my £10 went to charity. I would have donated more but the unpleasant staff left me with a firmly closed purse.

Luckily we didn't run into the arrogant Elvis-wanna be of a doorman. What a walking microcosm for all that is bad in this city. Leery, patronising and so far up his own behind I doubt he's ever seen the light of day. Perhaps that's why he felt the need to wear a pair of sunglasses in the pitch dark. It seemed to be the look of the night. Honestly, I think it's a fashion embraced by the old, the ugly and the drug addicted. I guess it's cheaper than a nip and tuck.

We finally ended up in the 'Slug and Lettuce'. After such a let down at Tantra, the standard mock leather searing was welcome (That's a first). We drank a bottle of wine to heal the hurt of dodgy nibbles (lucky I don't do sausages!!) and got merry far too quickly. The typical erratic driving of a London bus driver kept us awake just long enough to get us home. Seriously, if the formula one industry is on the lookout for new talent they know where to look. The bus drivers here are either maniacs or racing car drivers in denial.

At least the city looks fab at the moment... the Christmas lights are all out along Regent Street. They have the theme of Ice Age... old in itself and slightly tacky when placed smack bang on the lights. I may be a hardened little drama queen but Christmas lights are one thing that melts me every time. Prehistoric animals or not, I love them. I think the light bulbs smattered all over inner London are just so spectacular! Now there's an issue for you - could the money that goes into them be put towards poverty?
If nothing else, they make my little heart skip a beat and remind us that Christmas is COMING!!! Wooohooo!!! It's bloody FREEZING here - winter is coming too. :( Thank gawd I'll be in Oz to get some sun.

Tonight we are off to the Swede's for a home cooked dinner. She won't tell us what's on the menu - just demanded we bring nothing but wine. My guess is something Scandinavian - which will mean gorgeous to look at, even better to scoff, but hard on the hips. I'd say 5 kilos worth of hard. When I stayed with her family on Gotland, her mum cooked up a storm - ALL with some form of cream. Actually, since we're both on hard-core diets tonight may involve more fresh veg than anything! Carrot sticks-a-la carrot sticks. :)

Tomorrow is another dinner party (2 in a row!) at a friend's place. We're going to wine and dine and watch her wedding video. Awwww... visions in white. Last time we were there we got told off for putting our fingers too close to the photos so I'm going to sit tight in the corner! Ha, not a chance! Videos can't be marked with fingerprints so I'm in the clear.

Saturday is sleep in day - I'm under STRICT orders not to get out of bed ‘til 11:00. NO problem there - I need a good night's rest. We've been to shows every night for the last few weeks and it's taking its toll. We left at interval during the play 'You Never Can Tell' on Tuesday because the lad kept falling asleep.

We'll probably go shopping for housey stuff on sat too but then again, I'm broke and dreading going home to Australia with nothing but my passport so maybe not.

I'm LOVING the new flat... we've got it decked out really comfy and funky. I'm loving every second and it's nice to have a 'home'. I've had more baths than I'm sure is recommended by the health and bath department and predict that I'll turn into a prune by Sunday.

On Sunday we're off to the countryside to see 'family' - can't wait! Rambling through the fields reminds me of home. I don't have rubber boots here though so I always end up looking like a grot ball on legs. Mud to my neck this weekend methinks. It’ll save on facemasks I guess! I'll be ratty and hung-over after a mate's housewarming the night before though. Some things never change.

Tomorrow morning I'm interviewing Mark Burton and Pete Sinclair - the writers of a new musical here called 'The Next Big Thing'... they sound like a right pair of larrikins so it should be a good one. Hopefully they don't recognise me as the drunk and very animated journo from last week's press night. I may have some explaining to do...

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Moving House and Battling Evil Stair Cases

Is the number of calories burnt whilst moving house, worth the number of muscles pulled?

You know you've had a shocker of a weekend when this is your first thought on a Monday morning. Yes, it’s official… moving house is traumatic, laborious and downright dangerous. Packing had me in tears – I blame the thought of parting with my 'precious memories' i.e. old letters, ticket stubs and paper napkins (yes, I keep it ALL!). I am a self-confessed hoarder... as a writer, my life is a journal and every scrap of paper is a potential masterpiece. I give the bag ladies in Victoria Street a run for their money!

Paper aside, there is also the wardrobe to conquer. How one is supposed to part with clothes is beyond me. Loved ones repeatedly give me the following ever-patronising advice;

"If you haven't worn it for a year, chuck it!"

Haven't they read Vogue?! Today's fashion mistake could be next year's one-off collector’s item. Don't blame me if I blow a fuse down Portobello Road next year. If I see my beloved faux snake skin clompers on sale for the price of a small tropical island, I may well deck someone. Gracefully of course!

In most cases, moving the entire contents of your home usually involves roping in unsuspecting car owners who used to call themselves your friends. In our case, we battled the tube. Never again.

In a bid to save our already slipping disks, we called in the relatives. I can safely say I now owe them my life. Full-blown domestics were avoided (though how, I'll never know). It took them 5 hours to get to London in what should have been a one-hour journey. Damn that M1.

For the record:
Why is there always less cupboard space in the new place?
Why does it always rain in London on the weekend, only to return to blue skies on Monday mornings?
How the hell are you supposed to program a new television?
So I threw away the instruction manual? How was I supposed to know they were important?!
Where on earth did we pack that damn bottle opener?

In a bid to break up the monotony of packing, a number of social outings were planned. The press night for 'The Next Big Thing' took me on a journey through drugs, sex and rock'n'roll. This musical covers the British Music scene with refreshing and hilarious honesty. I just happened to sit next to the mother of lead actress Melissa Lloyd. A warm love for all proud mums washed over me when she turned across to me in the opening scene and whispered "that's my daughter!" Her husband, ex-captain of the West Indies Cricket team grunted in what I'm sure was pride. Or maybe surprise at his daughter’s tight fitted red dress. Sex on legs, though I didn’t tell him that. I wonder if their memories of the 70's are as vividly corrupt as the scenes played out on stage before us. A cracking show if you're a music lover - it covers “everything from the Beatles to Brit pop... and all the b**ll**ks in between”.

The free champagne was a show stealer too. It also seemed to make off with my memory. If you happen to find it, please get in touch.

A somewhat more sober and sombre theatrical experience met us at the National Theatre where Coram Boy is showing until February 4th 2006. It was one of those cases where you head out knowing nothing about the play you're about to see, and get your socks knocked off. A tale of two orphans at the 18th Century Coram Hospital for Deserted Children in the may not sound overly inspiring (and for two tired house movers it almost wasn't). By interval however, we'd witnessed deceit, child trafficking, and infantile genocide - all in disturbingly graphic detail. Baby corpses are not something you see on your average Saturday night out... and not something I want to see again. But, I'm glad I have. It gave me an insight into the nasty side of British history and was better than any Eastenders episode I've ever seen. Did I mention the second half features shootings, drowning, love, lies and revenge? There are also some amazing choral pieces thrown into the mix.

To jar my nervous system even further, it also happens to be fireworks season. I hate the damn things. Why anyone want to risk life and limb by setting light to explosives is beyond me. You're all mad. To every one of you that lit a firecracker, shame! Every dog, cat and Katie Spain in the country is suffering from the after shock. Thank you very much.

Seriously, over the weekend children were hurt, a dog was blown up and a horse was killed. Don't even get me started on what a waste of money the nasty little time bombs are. New shoes will get you further and won't give you burn marks.

Blister marks however, are another matter. I knew I shouldn't have lugged those boxes wearing heels. They just don't make staircases like they used to!

This week better be a good one – my sanity depends on it.