Is that an inflatable ball or my reflection in the mirror?

Monday

It’s been a long time since I darkened the doorstep of the gym but after being weighed on Friday, drastic action is needed. It must be an age thing. I don’t eat more than used to but my belly is now less spare Mini tyre and more John Deere tractor.

My gym guru, PK, does well to disguise her shock as saunter in trying to hide behind Dynamite Di, which is impossible as she’s 5ft nothing and a size 10. Still, PK gamely steers me away from the coffee machine and towards the instruments of torture.

First off is a couple of minutes on the bike. She thinks I’m joking when request an oxygen tent. I’m then plonked on the cross-trainer for three minutes but I feel seasick and get off after one.

Thinking this is fate’s way of saying “embrace your podginess and run for the changing room”, I try to escape but am foiled as PK manoeuvres me on to a mat to attempt some sit-ups, buttock twanging and general bendy things. Just 40 minutes after arriving I am back in the car, dazed, confused but strangely exhilarated

Tuesday

Spend entire day hunched over computer and burning no calories. Do humps come with age? My posture is appalling, so I trawl the internet for an inflatable ball thing that you can sit on and it sorts your spine alignment out. Apparently, you exercise your tummy muscles while just sitting.

It’s my birthday next week so when Louis asks me what I would like say a ball. He looks surprised, excited and horrified all in a moment at the thought of his mother taking up football, playing in public and embarrassing him to a degree previously unimagined. He is relieved, if a little confused, when say it is just for sitting on.

In the evening, Dave and I go out for pasta then off to the cinema to see Redeye. It’s a great thriller by Wes Craven set on an aeroplane. Halfway through I turn to see Dave with his eyes out on stalks looking suitably terrified. Afterwards, he claims it wasn’t that convincing. Oh, yeah

Wednesday

Back at the gym. Last about 40 minutes and take a vow to attend regularly to try and make a difference to my tummy.

And at my tender age, is wearing one of these Victorian shirts that are all the rage mutton dressed as lamb? I didn’t think so until Dave said I looked like Whistler’s Mother. Not speaking to him ThursdayMy old pal James Curran comes up from London He is a muso deluxe, so we sit in The Baillie drinking beer and arguing about new albums.

Several lagers later, Dynamite joins us and the conversation turns to after-dinner speaking. I have committed to doing one at the end of November. I am informed that people fear standing up and speaking in public more than death. Not the words of encouragement I was hoping for.

By the time we leave the bar, Di has decided I should talk about Hair Through The Ages. I call a taxi – death would, in fact, be preferable to that

Friday

Louis is on Virgin Radio. The breakfast presenters are doing a feature where they get a child on air and ask them if they have any grievances against their parents. Louis’ complaint is I don’t let him play loud music before he goes to bed.

The judge then decides who is in the right, the child or the parent. But they don’t warn him that the judge is none other than Paul McCartney, who is in the studio talking about his new album. The DJs Pete & Jeff ask Louis: “What would you like to ask Paul McCartney?”Louis clams up and throws the phone at me. I throw it back to him.

He goes bright red and intimates by way of running out of the room that he is not saying another word. Paul McCartney, the lovely man, took pity on the “the wee Scottish boy who went all shy on us” and sang Yellow Submarine to him. Wow.

chased Louis round the house, telling him it was the most amazing thing in the world to have an actual Beatle singing YOU a special song. He grinned and agreed. Tremendous compensation for temporarily being the quietest person in Britain

Saturday

Dave is away golfing, so I go into town with Dynamite. It is hot and we are stomping up and down Princes Street. By 4pm my feet are sore so we head home.

Going out tonight to Big Fish, a place only open every second weekend. But at 7.15pm, Dave phones to say he is still at the golf club. I grit my teeth, stroll from the room and make sure Louis doesn’t hear my message to him.

The golf course is 20 miles from Edinburgh and we are meeting our pals at 8pm. I have to drop Louis at his grandma’s in between and am not amused. Still, after a fabulous meal of blackened monkfish and carpaccio of tuna, all is forgiven

Join slimming club and put on weight – what?

Monday

Louis is off on a school camp for three nights. He is not great at overnight stays so is far from happy. I go to wake him up and he is lying in his bed wide awake but obviously not happy. Try to jolly him along. ‘Come on it will be great fun,’ say, trying not to let him see the tears in my eyes. I think the only school trip we had from Aberdeen was a day trip to Edinburgh Castle and the zoo. After our year, the trip was stopped as we were so badly behaved but I must have been about 14, not just 10. Still, get him up and off he goes, reluctantly.

Dave takes me out for lunch to keep my mind off the upset. He unplugs my computer and drags me out the door, driving us an hour north to The Seafood Restaurant in St Andrews. The setting and the food are gorgeous. I order halibut which is white as the driven snow and as thick as my thigh – not inconsequential! Cheer up no end as we swig a little white wine, then a lot of white wine and then, because Louis is away for a few days, we revert to being 21 again. Have a great laugh but end up face down very early. awake at 2am having had loads of sleep so get up and watch TV – Trisha, Loose Women and the end of a John Grisham film with Denzil Washington which has me in tears after 10 minutes. What a state – just as well Louis doesn’t go away very often

Tuesday

A cursory look at my body in the bathroom mirror confirms that tomorrow’s slimming class is going to be hell. Still, I drink lots of water and then have an overwhelming urge for carbs so we hit the pub for a bar lunch. Off to The Barns Inn in Kingsbarns, Fife, a great wee pub. It claims: ‘Friendly staff and great food’ and you get what it says on the box. Have a really lovely chilli – just what the ailing gut required. Feel much improved and go for a long walk in the hope that by midday weigh-in tomorrow I will be Kate Moss superslim

Wednesday

Meet slimming friend Catherine, who lost 6 1 /2lbs last week. In we go. take off my necklace, watch, shoes and sweatshirt and get on the scales… I look expectantly at the lady as if smiling will make her lie to me – it doesn’t. She tells me gravely I’ve put on 2lbs. I am not surprised but completely hacked off nonetheless.

It was pointed out the amount have eaten and drunk would sustain Pavarotti and Oliver Reed combined. Go round the corner with Catherine for a salad and quiz her on how she has taken off another 3 1 /2lbs – that’s a total of 10lbs in a fortnightThe answer is not rocket science it is simply – stick to the diet.

My phone rings it is the lovely Dynamite who I have not seen in ages. She suggests as it is such a lovely day we should meet for an early drink on the terrace at Oloroso in Edinburgh at 5pm – a quick one then, agree. I shuffle home to work all afternoon writing while clenching my buttocks and then head off to meet Dynamite. That in itself is a mistake. The sunny terrace, the amount of gossip to catch up on, Louis still being away… it is no surprise we get home about 10pm, squawking: ‘Life is not a dress rehearsal, you know. This is it! Might as well enjoy it.’ Goes some way to assuaging the guilt

Thursday

Not enjoying this morning much. Yuk. Slip back into mum mode and cook Louis a big pot of mince and tatties for his triumphant return. Go to pick him up at 3.30pm, not sure what to expect. Well, if he isn’t swaggering round like John Wayne, grinning from ear to ear. As I refrain from running towards him and scooping him up, he casually says: ‘Hi, mum’. ‘Did you have a nice time?’ I ask. ‘Great,’ he says, like a 25-year-old professional golfer who has just come back from tour. Phew! He won’t be suing me then. Exhale

Friday

Meet up with Dave and Hugh Teacher who call the Arthur Negus of the new millennium.

Though based down south, Teach is a valuer for auction giants Dreweatt Neate and was up to value people’s family jewels – so to speak! Last year a table they found in Perth was auctioned off for pounds 240,000! Buoyed up by the whole idea, I fill my boot with bits of tat have bought at auctions which Teach kindly values for me – worth bugger all! Still, I shall keep looking

Saturday

Can’t believe have the lurgy that Dave has just shaken off. He was full of it last week and now I am not just thick but thick with the cold. Cancel going out tonight and lie wounded in my room feeling sorry for myself. ‘Burning the candle at both ends,’ says my mum. Huh!

Having just written this diary, though, she may very well have a point. Tomorrow is another day. Sunday, the day of rest – well it would be except I’m off surfing in Dunbar with Louis! YAHOO! I’m a teenager trapped in an aging body – not fair really

The Castle? The brewery?

Monday

Typical tosser

What a laugh yesterday. Met up with an 8ft deer called Miles. He was doing the Edinburgh Marathon in a deer suit. He reckons he lost about a stone running in the thing. Fantastic! A fool proof way to lose weight. Mind you by the time I got this picture taken the entire suit was drenched and when Miles took th head off – so to speak – he looked a bit pale &* wan to say the least.

After that we went off to Louis school fund raiser a Highland Games. There was caber tossing for all ages. Even Daves Mum had a go. Dave took to it like a duck to water oh and there were ducks being herded by sheep dogs. All in all it was a great day. As we stood by the loch looking around and loving Scotladn in the summer suddenly there was a big splahs and this wee boy about 3 fell intot he loch. His dada, who was right beside him, wheeched him out as the wee souls tood howling on the bank. His Dad gave him a cuddle but despite himself couldn’t’ stop laughing . The wee drookit boy had done exactly the same last year.

Tuesday

Louis is changing schools this year and today he went to his new school for the day to see how it all works. I was quite nervous about it – more than he was – hoping he would love it. I picked him up at the back of 3 and he came swaggering out like John Wayve – ‘’it’s brilliant!’ he beamed . Phew. He then went on to talk about his 3 best friends – ‘ I have 5 he said but 3 best friends’ . So relieved took him for a Chinese carry-out. Speaking of chineses carry –outs dynamite Di is due back from Bejing after 10 days tomorrow. I can’t wait to hear how she got on – if she’s not in some sort of Chineses prison for badly behaved women by now.

Wednesday

Computer guru man Gordon Fraser comes round to look at my computer. He asks me which anti virus software I’ve got. My response is to look blankly at him. His look of disapproval makes me want to go and stand in the corner with a Dunce hat on – something  I sent a lot of my formative years doing. 4 hours later my computer is till goosed. He tells me I am riddled with viruses – when he sees my face he clarifies it’s the computer that ‘s got the viruses not me! Well that’s OK then. By late afternoon we are back up and rnningmy computer is going like a speeding bullet and I am happy again. As hopefully my editor  will be as I think he was getting fed up of getting my  next chapter written on scrunched up napkins and beer mats.

Thursday

WE have American friends arriving today. When I say friend we met them last summer in france for one night. We had a carry on swapped addresses and they’re arriving today. I have a full day of Scottish tourism planned for tomorrow. Edinburgh Castle, Mary Kings Close, the open topped bus , the royal mile. Quite looking fowrad to it myself. I picked them up off the train and I knew we were going to get on famously when Susan produced a teen idol magazine form the 70’s she had bought off E Bay for me as the night we’d met we talked extensively about Donny via David Cassidy as we were both obsessed as teenagers. Celebrations commenced and the wine was cracked open. AS the night wore on more wine was open and by midnight we wer listening to Puppy Love – the album and telling our deepest  pre-teen secrets. Again there was an amazing translatlantic connection – we all had save up our bubble gum stickers and sent away for X-Ray Spex and were all equally amazed and dispappoitned when they arrived that they didn’t actually work! Plus  the deep routed desire for sea monkeys which were advertised as lookinglike little pixie like mermaids on the box and when they were bought and hatched they were as david attractively dscreibed them like bits of dandruff floating about in dirty water. So having liaghed ourselves stupid we retired. Due to kick off our extravaganza tour at 9am

Friday

Wake at 9am So we’ll be a little late I thought as I got up and boiled the kettle. By 10.30 I was still the only one up apart from the kids who were boucing on the trampoline n their pyjama bottoms. At 11 Paul the American guy appeared when I asked how Susan was he replied ‘ she asked me what it felt like to sit upright and when I told her she just stayed where she was’. The weather waas wet, misty, & cold – playing to every Scottish cliché tourists have about our country. By 11am the executive decision was made to give the tourist trail a miss. Cancelled all activities and lit the fire instead. By mid afternoon the weather had cleared a little so we headed off to North Berwick harbour and grabbed Dougie and his boat ‘Braveheart’ who took us round the bass rock and mackerel fishing. Everyone caught a fish and we went straight back home to eat them.

Saturday

Even wetter and more miserable than yesterday. Drove our pals through Edinburgh pointing out the sights from the car window –‘that’s the castle, the scott monuement’ etc before dropping them at the airport. Having been toured until they were black and blue before they arrived with us they said they had enjoyed the fishing and relaxing more than anything else since they lef thome 10 days ago. Aaah. Little to do except go off to see the Day After Tomorrow with Dennis Quaid  & Jake Gellangal a true disaster move for the millenium. Fantastic effects and when we came out of the cinema having watched a tidal wave and engulf America I half expected to see Leith had disappeared altogether. Luckily the rain was off so we  drove home and collapsed. More pals coming tomorrow and the thought of clearing the kitchen in the quest for a clean palte is enough to dirve me to drink….. Oh now there’s an idea.

St. Andrews home of golf and chocolate frenzy.

Monday

In the cinema the other night saw a big advert for VisitScotland so looking at my spotty white face call my friend and ask her if she fancies escaping for a couple of days. It’s Easter hols and Dave and Louis are away. My friend has breast cancer and this is the week she should feel OK as she is in the middle of her chemotherapy treatments plus she is going a bit mad being stuck indoors all the time so happily she doesn’t hesitate.

We don’t want to go too far so off we go just one hour north of the central belt to St Andrews. Every time I go up to St Andrews I remember what a lovely town it is with its huge clean beach and great sweep of white sand for endless walks and fun for kids if the weather is good enough for sandcastles and paddling. If not, thermal underwear and a cosy hat are all that’s required so we head off into the wind for a bracing walk before the food and drink ensue.

We are staying at St Andrews’ Bay Hotel, a few miles out of town with the most fabulous views imaginable. You sit perched on the edge of the two golf courses and the hotel looks back over the sea to St Andrews and beyond. The hotel itself was built and designed by an American company which explains the generous proportions of the rooms, corridors and facilities. Although this is high season, it felt ultimately luxurious and spacious as we swanned about feeling very Bette Davis descending down staircases and reclining on gigantic comfy sofas sipping large gins. We have a quiet night in preparation for our hard day ahead

Tuesday
The hard day starts with a Swedish massage followed by a facial. It’s a hard life. Phone Dave – he and Louis are having Boys Own adventure type fun and God love them for it, I think, as I stretch my massaged leg out for inspection.

Being foodies we try the hotel’s new fine dining restaurant Esperante. We are seated on a romantic little balcony so we can oversee everything going on. Great gossiping and giggling. The food is fabulous. We start with cauliflower pannacotta – no have no idea what it is but by God will never forget it for all the right reasons! On to our pud a chocolate pudding which spills out melted chocolate from the inside. We are so excited we insisted in giving the chef our compliments personally. The poor guy, Scott Dougall, comes out and is duly showered by endless words of praise and yums and oohs and ahhs. If this man doesn’t have a Michelin star within two years will eat my hat – and that’s not an appetising thought I can assure you. Eventually when we are finished – first in, last out – we are happy, excited and eager to phone all our friends to tell them about our meal but we think better of it and off we go to bed as by now it is 1am
Wednesday
Wake Dave up with a phone call – telling him I am taking him here for his birthday. He had a sausage and bean camp fire tea last night. As inhumanely describe what I had in great depth, it is no surprise he eventually puts the phone down on me. More girl stuff to be done so we go off to explore the shops. We are on red alert to spot any members of the Royal Family and of course, having clocked Clint Eastwood on the golf course up here a few years ago, we keep our make-up on at all times because you just never know. Reluctantly we head back home after a large coffee and talk about the food we ate all the way back
Thursday
Through to Glasgow for a couple of meeting s sporting a boil on my chin. Why is it when need to go somewhere and look vaguely reasonable the middle-aged hormones play a trick on me? Meet up with pal Barbara for lunch in Antipasti in Byres Road. order a Caesar salad with swordfish. Good God, it is the size on an elephant. So much for my low cal option – I eat the lot
Friday
Dynamite calls to remind me she has postman Pat staying with her. A few years ago Dynamite was in the stage version of Postman Pat and she played both Mrs Goggins, Postmistress, and Granny Dryden and the cast have all stayed in touch. Although Postman Pat has a real name, Di still calls him Pat! He is up performing in Boogie Nights at The Playhouse with David Essex so Di is going along then partying afterwards and asks if I fancy it. With my full belly and chin boil I decide against it – I don’t want to put her off her tea SaturdayThe weekend is here and Dave and Louis are home. They had a great time being outdoors and healthy whilst I had a great time being inside and foodie. Call from Dynamite asking for number of detox place we went to last week as both she and Postman Pat are in need. I ask her if David Essex is going too – the answer is a no so I put away my Lamplight single wanted him to sign.

Thank goodness Easter eggs time is coming to an end. I’ve eaten my weight in chocolate. With tummy hanging over the top of trousers I sign off. I’m off for a jog – honest.

Further down the food chain than I thought.

Monday

The auction I am organising for the tsunami appeal is going well. In fact, so well I have just heard all the tickets are now sold out. No surprise really as the prizes are fabulous – dinner and a night at Prestonfield, the AA Hotel of the Year 2005, six-course dinner for two at Michelin-starred restaurant Martin Wishart, a signed Rangers football, a gold Seiko watch worth over pounds 1000 from MacIntyres of Edinburgh, a series of oxygen facials to make you look 21 again from Elements and hospitality passes and tickets to see REM and Oasis. And the Sunday Mail has generously donated the chance to appear in this column – photo and all – for a donation to the tsunami appeal.

The art department will also frame a mock-up front page with you on it – a unique prize.

So many prizes… so little time. All of the proceeds are going direct to DEC – the umbrella charity and we already deposited pounds 800 today.

Thrilled. You can still help by making a donation. at any bank to the DEC tsunami appeal.

Tuesday

You Are What You Eat is on tomorrow and we love it! Phone my pal Tracy – to remind her and to say if you are what you eat then I am a bacon sandwich.

She phones me straight back to say if you are what you eat, she is a packed supermarket shelf. Everyone is talking about this GI Diet so we agree to give it a whirl, providing there are not many oats or lentils involved or David will divorce me. No more information required.

Go to see The Aviator, the story of Howard Hughes with Leo DiCaprio. What a great film. Alan Alda from MASH is in it too and I thought he was fabulous. DiCaprio, of course, has won a Golden Globe so there’s money on him to win the Oscar.

Wednesday

Some Like It Hot Party on Saturday. Discussed what to wear with Dave. ‘Well, I think I’ll just wear khaki shorts and a pith helmet,’ he says as if we have khaki shorts and pith helmets lying about the house.

That aside, I ask him why would he wear that combination of fashion hell to a A Some Like It Hot Party, at which point he retorts: ‘I’ll go as Windsor Davies’ friend Lofty.’

I break the news gently that he is a little mixed up and is thinking of It Ain’t Half Hot Mum and that Some Like It Hot is Jack Lemmon, Marilyn Monroe and Tony Curtis, not Whispering Grass being re-run for everyone going to the party. He remains silent.

Thursday

Hi GI, no I am not mistaking you for an American soldier but it is the diet that everyone is talking about so having read all about it, it seems to make sense. Eat good food and no rubbish – not rocket science. Still, this week have eaten more fruit and veg than ever in my life. It may be a coincidence but I do feel great!

Munching on carrots, apples, tangerines and bananas, I have realised I have the same diet as a chimp. Blimey, I hope I don’t develop chimp facial hair or for that matter a chimp’s puffy bottom. I have enough trouble with the size of my bottom without it starting to resemble that.

Friday

Spend the morning in the office surrounded by auction stuff. Escape into Meditarraneo for broccoli soup at lunchtime – supermodel diet.

Get back to find an email from Lorraine Kelly, who has donated a designer frock for the auction. Lovely girl. Size 12 so have borrowed a mannequin from Belinda Robertson in case no one can fit in it to show it off.

Saturday

Some Like It Hot Party. Mother-in-law phones to say she’s not well. Wee scone. Babysitter not available so over a barrel we draw straws to see which one of us is going to the party.

win – I am going off to meet Dynamite dressed like a daftie. Dave’s pith helmet and shorts are put away for another year – and his Some Like It Hot fancy dress suit.

Slope into the Circus cafe but there is no sign of my pal. ‘You looking for Dyanamite?’ asks the barman. ‘She’s hiding in there,’ he points into the back room. In go only to see this vision of loveliness. She has had her hair dyed a particularly bright blonde for the occasion, borrowed a gold wrapover lame frock and has glued on some fabulous false eyelashes.

She looks the business, though she doesn’t agree which is why she is cowering in a corner.

We arrive at the party after a swift bottle of wine and a stomach-lining risotto and everyone has made a real effort. Lots of girls in their jammies and a good few Monroe lookalikes too. Lethal pink cocktails abound, as does pink fizzy wine.

The problem started when the fizzy wine and the cocktails got mixed together at which point no one cared. suspect they will tomorrow.

Christmas is coming and I am getting fat, please put some many in the old bats hat – mine!

Monday

Son Louis has declared he wants race stuff for Christmas. Last year he had his birthday party at Raceland, a go-karting track in East Lothian, and now he is addicted. Yesterday saw him screeching round the track at the last race meeting of the year. God, if only he liked embroidery. Actually, if only I liked embroidery at least could get his name tags on without performing open finger surgery on myself every time.

Still, it makes life easy if he tells me what he wants then can trawl around on eBay and hope to get the goodies – the race suit, not comedians Graeme Garden, Bill Oddie and Tim Brooke-Taylor.

Tuesday

Dinner at Martin Wishart’s with our pals as a Christmas surprise. We had the tasters’ menu – which means you don’t know what you’re getting until it appears in front of you. We had seven courses. It was so decadent and everything was fabulous – from beef, fish, game, shellfish, cheese, and chocolate to pate. Lord, what a piglet.

Wednesday

Went to Argos for my Christmas shopping. The only thing missing was Richard E. Grant. Talk about easy. Felt calm and in control – even nipped over to the supermarket and ordered a turkey.

Annoying, aren’t I? Dave stayed in North Berwick with my folks and I stayed in with my pal Fiona and a bottle of wine, watching rubbish on telly and gossiping – a perfect night.

Thursday

Skiing holiday coming up soon so have been doing ski-related exercises in the gym and am now walking around like Charles Laughton in The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

It’s nearly the end of term and Louis is tired. He’s in bed about to drift off when he sighs: ‘Mum, I always want to be a boy and have fun.’ Just as well it was dark, it would’ve brought a tear to a glass eye.

Friday

Pick up Louis from school and head straight off down the A1 to visit Dave’s sister Hilly in Redworth, Yorkshire. She fed us and then we collapsed in our fourth-floor hotel room round the corner at 10. It smelled as though 20 fags were smoked in our room seconds before we arrived.

As a reformed smoker I am the worst about the waft of smoke. It was also like an oven. We tried to turn off the heaters but eventually had to call reception who sent a man up. He tapped the pipes and observed astutely: ‘Oh, yes, they are jammed on and there’s nothing can do about it tonight.’ Fat lot of use that was so we opened the windows wide and wrap up in the duvet – well, it is December, for goodness sake.

Meanwhile, there was a Christmas party at the other end of the hotel so we lay in bed accompanied by a drunken chorus of So Here It Is Merry Christmas, closely followed by a couple having a major domestic outside our room. Eventually, Dave leapt out of bed like a lunatic, stuck his head out of the room and shouted: ‘For God’s sake, shut up!’ They slunk off into the distance.

About 30 minutes later a different pair came out for a barney. This time the guy was swearing, f-ing and blinding, so I put my head out of the room and shouted: ‘For God’s sake woman, don’t let him talk to you like that!’

Stunned, they also left. We had earned a little silence, at least till the people staying next door arrived back in their room at 4am, put the radio on, got stuck into the mini-bar and started talking loudly. I didn’t complain. To be honest, a few years ago that would have been us so I let that one go. Peace then till 6am when there was an eerie howling noise outside.

Not a fox, not a dog – it sounded like a great big killer turkey. Maybe it was a vigilante turkey wreaking revenge on the humans who cull his relatives at this time of year. Or maybe the lack of sleep has left me deranged. After this mental meandering lay awake with a puffy face until it was time for breakfast.

Saturday

We packed our bags and headed down for breakfast but as we passed our noisy neighbours’ door accidentally on purpose fell against it and gave it a good dunt. Well, it made me feel a little better. As did seeing all the hungover, red-eyed sufferers from last night, sitting shaking.

Departed fairly quickly after the receptionist got a flea in her ear from Dave. Driving back home it was foggy until we reached the border and Louis piped up: ‘It’s always lovely in Scotland, isn’t it.’ Yes, we agreed it is.

P.S. Still reeling from the aftermath of The X-Factor and Strictly Come Dancing, which was won by my favourite Geordie lass Jill Halfpenny. Dirty Den will regret the day he let her slip through his fingers. Yup, getting reality and soap mixed up again.

Aromatherapy – well yes!

I have taken longer to write this column than any other in the history of columns as I have just experienced what is cosmically known as an aromatherapy. Nice. It was one of these vouchers that was burning a hole in the bottom of my handbag with ‘expires 31st August ’ written on the bottom of it. Having just moved house and living in a sea of boxes, bulging eyed, grumpy and biting everyones head off David made the very bold suggestion that I go and do something for myself. As my cricked neck turned my head to glare at him I knew he was worrying whether he was about to get an earful, when I realised as my heart was fit to burst out from under my t-shirt he was right, if I didn’t want to spend the rest of my natural life wandering around being known as the grumpiest woman on the planet something had to be done. So I phoned up and booked myself in for an aromatherapy. On arrival I was asked all sorts of questions are you married, do you smoke, have you any children? As I sat looking increasingly confused as to quite why the details of my life up ‘til now were in any way relevant to getting a back rub. But the girl just smiled serenely as I snapped ‘what the hell difference does it make if I have kids or how old they are?’ This reaction probably gave the girl all the information she needed…she was dealing with a woman who was stressed out and clearly in need of a good slap but in absence of violence as a recognised alternative therapy – in this place anyway – she explained in an equally serene way all the questions were relevant when it came to her blending and mixing the essential oils in order to return me from hunched up snappy bitch to calm and languorous nice person. Mmmn, I have to say as I reluctantly disrobed and clambered under the two towels draped over the treatment bed I was just a little cynical. It seemed a long time as I lay face down with my face through the wee hole in the bed so you can lie flat as a pancake without suffocating until my calm aromatherapist glided back into the room and dimmed the lights. Oh dear what now I wondered as all the blood ran to the front of my face and I could feel my temples throbbing. Then I heard the click of the tape recorder going on as some whale noises (or maybe that was just me) and light tinkling music permeated the air. Had I been with a friend it would have been about now that I began to snort with laughter but as all I could see was the most attractive carpet through the hole in the thing I was lying on I kept a straight if not very red face. The therapist thendropped some oil with all sorts of wonderful smells on my back and set to work. Well within 3 minutes my cynism had given way to a feeling of deep calm and relaxation. My brain which had been plotting 4000 different things I had to do was suddenly in a flat line. The odd involuntary groan emanated from my mouth as the therapist did her magic and one by one seemed to untie the numerous knots which had been crinkling me up into a petulant bag. It was about this time I must have passed out as the next thing I remember was the soft voice of my benefactor whispering ‘I shall put the lights up a little and just get up in your own time there is no rush’. 10 minutes later she came in to wake me up again and I did my best to elevate my totally relaxed body from the bed. Fantastic! I praised her, asked her name so I could book her again, apologised for being cranky and churlish when I had first come in and asked if I could adopt her. She smiled still serenely as if to say ‘told you so’ which normally would have annoyed me but now I just smiled serenely back as I handed her a cheque.
So off I drifted deciding to walk home as suddenly I was in no rush. I sauntered through the streets and at one point thought I felt spots of rain, but I didn’t run for cover hey it was just a couple of drops of rain and so I meandered on. As I approached home I walked up to the door which Dave threw open and promptly burst out into near uncontrollable laughter.’what is it?‘ I beamed happily
Go and look in a mirror he said and I did.
The red rim of the hole I had been balancing my face against upside down for the past hour was imprinted deeply round my chin, forehead and cheek, my hair was standing on end at the front, my make up had slipped down 3 inches from my eyes and last but not least it transpired it wasn’t rain I had felt on my head but to put it delicately the deposit from a bird’s bottom who had obviously had a curry the night before. As I stood slack jawed in front of the mirror Dave came in behind me still laughing loudly and said ‘ you know it’s very lucky if a bird shits on your head’. At which point, proving aromatherapy must work, rather than saying ‘yes well watch it cos I’m a bird and I might just fulfil that prophecy’ I too started laughing and laughing and laughing until the rest of my mascara had run down my cheeks.Phew. Chilled or what?

Ancient column – dusted down, hoovered and published on here….

MONDAY

DINNER at Howie’s with Pete Irvine, author of Scotland The Best and eventmeister of Scotland Hogmanay, Capital Christmas, Lomond Shores and general tourist guru. Talked about everything… food, TV, holidays, music and only at about midnight does it slip out that Pete was made an MBE MBE (in Britain) Member of the Order of the British Empire. Huh! Modest or what? I would have been wearing my “I’ve got an MBE” T-shirt at all times – which probably is exactly why I’ll never get anything like that. Good chat, too much wine, but it almost all came to a premature end when we realised we hadn’t taped Six Feet Under. After an emergency call to the babysitter we resumed our evening.

TUESDAY

DRY. Felt like I was 6ft under after I got up. Did two voiceovers in the morning. I was required to sound husky in one, which was my speciality today… sounded husky and coincidentally looked like a husky. Got a call from Dave who suggested lunch. A cursory look at my old black jeans, off-white t-shirt and rumpled sweatshirt made me say, “OK, but just a wee sandwich in the back of the car.” So he took me to The Bonham, a super-smart hotel in Edinburgh. I sat in a corner trying to hide. Fabulous lunch and I was just starting to relax when I heard an “Alison, is that you?” Luckily, it was Marie, a good friend who also had a hangover. She sat at a neighbouring table, shaking and drinking water . Had a lovely lunch. Normally the pressure to wear shorts keeps me on the straight and narrow but I’m still swathed in woolly jumpers cos it’s cold, so what the hell.

WEDNESDAY

TOOK about two hours to drive to my cousin’s house cos the Open golf was on and I forgot. Spotted lots of people in Slazenger V-necks. Saw Robbie Corbett again… he’ll think I’m stalking him. Got tickets for Saturday, drove home and collapsed in the bath when David answered the doorbell. It was John Whittle, from Optical Solutions, with my new glasses. He knew I had to drive to Glasgow tomorrow so delivered them personally. As I lay in the bath David plopped them on my nose. Now that’s what I call service.

THURSDAY

GUESTING on Fred MacAulay Show with Steve Irwin, the mad Aussie who wrestles crocodiles and snakes for fun, and Pete McCarthy. His new book, The Road to McCarthy, is the follow-up to his incredibly successful McCarthy’s Bar. He’s very entertaining and I know from personal experience he has a great sense of humour On Room At The Top a couple of years back a researcher asked him if he had fully recovered after being held hostage. Yes, he mixed him up with John McCarthy. Last Playing For Time this week, then off to Aberdeen to do Radio Scotland’s afternoon show for a few weeks. Cousin phoned very excited, Tiger Woods has been going to her health club to train… though she was not quite as excited as her husband Mark as Tiger was there with his gorgeous Swedish girlfriend. God, it’s enough to make you turn to drink… or at least food. Dinner out with pals when I got a call from the babysitter… the wee man Louis was ill for the first time ever so had to whizz home. He wasn’t well, poor scone. He clambered into my bed where he stayed, sweating, tossing and turning.

FRIDAY

LOUIS slept brilliantly but I was like a half-shut knife after 12 hours brow mopping. Decided not to be Snow White in panto Am I mad? Probably, but everyone says it is ten weeks, two shows a day, only Christmas day off. Thought long and hard, but it would mean no Christmas, no life, no Louis, no chance. It’s bound to be the last time he believes in Santa. I won’t miss it for anything.

SATURDAY

OPEN golf. It was like monsoon, 3ft deep in water. No way I was going to watch men hitting balls with sticks… so I just hit the hospitality. Call from friend Fiona who was to have her 40th birthday party in Queen Street Gardens in Edinburgh… rained off. Panic – where can we have it? Happily, friend Derek volunteered his pad which was duly decked out with stuff, including copious quantities of food and drink. Danced the night away. Still enjoying someone’s hospitality at 1am.

SUNDAY

GULP. Woke up fully clothed on couch. Asked long-suffering husband why he didn’t put me to bed. He said he tried but couldn’t – and besides my snoring would have kept him awake. Does Kylie have such problems? Tired. Old. Face strange shape. Yuk . Off to Aberdeen tomorrow to do Tom Morton Show on Radio Scotland for three weeks. Going on Slimfast diet as I’m becoming like a house – a two up, two down with large outside patio.

Definition of a bad hangover – when even your moisturiser makes you feel sick.

MONDAY

SCHOOL holidays are here – seven weeks of… well, quite. Have to get organised as I’m off to Aberdeen on July 22 for three weeks to do the Tom Morton Show on Radio Scotland while he’s on holiday. The holidays are a finely- tuned military operation of school clubs, activity days, friends, childminders, grandparents, videos, computer games and generally praying for the sun to shine. Soon. Please. PLEASE.

TUESDAY R

OFF to get my eyes checked. Decided to get the full test as I reckon I could do with a thorough MOT. Very pleased that I don’t need to get any stronger glasses than I had last time. Brilliant eye test, though. The chap who does it is an opthalmic surgeon and with his equipment (ooh er missus


he can see right into your brain. I was pleased to have the fact I have one confirmed after all these years – although there was no mention of size. But I am a woman and I know size is not important.
WEDNESDAY

IN Glasgow to do Playing For Time. This week we have Tony Higgins, boss of the Scottish Professional Footballers’ Association, who has played with some of the finest players in the world, including George Best during his spell with Hibs. Enjoyed lots of football legend stories and handed over the prize of a packet of Brazil nuts to celebrate Brazil’s World Cup victory then whizzed back to Edinburgh. Out to dinner with two of Dave’s chums. When we got home I said to Dave: “You were quiet tonight.” “Yes,” he said. “None of us could get a word in edge ways.” Oops.

THURSDAY

FRIEND Fiona back from her holiday in Santorini. She arrived to say hello and just have a quick coffee, which predictably turned into loads of wine and about half a hundredweight of Doritos. She looks brown, healthy and relaxed whereas I sat hunched up, pot bellied and pale faced listening to her tales of fun in the sun. No wonder I drink.

FRIDAY

DAVE’S 40th birthday. What do you get for the man who has everything? Well, I have to say I was stumped until my pal suggested a membership of the Classic Car Club. As Dave is a car fanatic it is the perfect gift as it allows you to drive a different car from their collection about 12 times a year. He was super chuffed – and so was I when I realised it’s a joint membership so I can drive them, too. Most of the cars, including the Ferrari and the E-type, were already booked out so we went for the Honda S2000 – the engine is based on a Formula 1 car. We pick it up tomorrow for the weekend. Normal birthday behaviour would be a wild night, but instead Dave is more tired and emotional. Is this the onset of an early middle- life crisis? We had an early night so he could be fresh as a daisy for picking up the car tomorrow to head north to see Bryan Ferry live. Dave thought he was Bryan Ferry when he was about 14 so we will get a chance to do a direct comparison tomorrow.

SATURDAY

UP early and down to the classic car club where David picked up the Honda. It’s a soft- top, two-seater which goes like the wind. Obviously we only drove it at 69mph – with the roof up as it was pouring. But as we approached Banchory the skies cleared so we wheeched the roof down, put Sheryl Crow on the CD at 5000 decibels and by the time we arrived at my pal Tracy’s house we truly believed we were 18 again. Off to see Bryan Ferry at Crathes Castle There were only a few hundred people there so it was like a private party. Horse supported and Bryan was magnificent. We were right up at the front, shouting, dancing and singing. Yes, drink had been taken. After he finished the set we met some pals and rather than stop there – because we’d only been at it for nine hours – we got a taxi back to Tracy’s house and spotted the local hotel was still open. “Stop the cab,” we screeched and went in for more. Why?

SUNDAY

I KNEW it was a spectacularly bad hangover when even the smell of my moisturiser made me feel sick. Padding round Tracy’s cottage hunting for water in my bare feet when I stood on something. At first glance I thought it was a tomato until closer inspection proved it was actually a severed bird’s foot and half a leg. The cat had had a midnight feast. Hopped into the kitchen and dangled my fat leg over the bucket and shook my foot until it fell off – the birds foot, not mine that is. Yuk

Graeme, Tracy’s boyfriend, couldn’t speak at all so he cooked a massive breakfast to send us on our way home in our groovy only this time the stereo was off, the roof was up and we had to stop intermittently as I needed fresh air. Apologies to the farmer in Edzell whose field I had to rather unexpectedly inhabit for 15 minutes. I hope I didn’t ruin his crop. Sophisticated woman of the millennium where are you?

Doggone – the dog’s gone!

MONDAY

WENT to a Callanetics class and was told by the teacher that soon my bum would look like a peach – aye, I’m sure she meant James and the Giant Peach. Legs seizing up as I drove through to Glasgow for a couple of meetings. My personal trainer Pauline phoned as I was stuck in traffic on the way back to Edinburgh. “Clench your buttocks at the lights,” she instructed. “I’ve been here for ages,” I protested. “Exactly,” she said, “Clench one, two, clench one, two.” Hobbled in with a sore bum when I got home and still not a peach in sight.

TUESDAY

PANCAKE Tuesday. Dave, who is not used to cooking for under 40 people, whipped up some pancakes for Louis and his pal. He then left the rest of the batter lying around before he went out. Managed to ignore it when my niece Sarah came round for tea – I had hit Marks & Sparks earlier in the day to buy a low-fat extravaganza of chicken and not much else. Ate that and felt very thin. Then after a few glasses of high-alcohol wine I remembered the batter and got that out. I had vaguely watched Dave earlier in the evening, so I gave it my best shot. As it turns out this pancake malarky is not as easy as it looks. I seemed to produce something more akin to thermal vests than pancakes, but if you pour enough syrup on them they are edible. So we stuffed our faces and then lay down in front of the telly feeling really sick. I don’t think they were cooked properly, if the truth be told. God knows what’s in batter, but I can’t say I’d recommend it nearly raw. When Dave arrived home I quizzed him, but he just smirked. I detected a distinct lack of sympathy.

WEDNESDAY

OFF to London for the day. Whoopeee. What a place. People ask, “Why don’t you go to London and try your luck there?” Occasionally, I think: “Why not?” Then about 25 seconds after arriving in the great, grimy hole from hell, I remember… that’s right, I HATE IT! Happy to be back on the GNER train and relaxing all the way north, or at least until York, when man with verbal diarrhoea climbed aboard and selected me as his victim. Got his entire life history, with photographic accompaniment. Lovely. He gave me his address as he got off in Newcastle and I waved goodbye, smiling through gritted teeth, then opened my Hello! magazine for a bit of mental stimulation for the remainder of the journey.

THURSDAY

LOUIS on half term and we’ve a full programme of events planned. Packed our stuff and ran to my folks’ place for a few days. Idea was to have lungs full of fresh air and walk the fat dogs around so we all return looking and feeling better at the end of our break. God, the thing with being away from home is the desire to pig out. Indian carry out? Och yes, why not? Maybe a wee bag of crisps to keep you going, too. Decide to turn my mobile off as my personal trainer keeps calling. Even seeing her phone number gives me the guilt pangs, as I sling another chocolate biscuit in my gob.

FRIDAY

TOO cold for the exercise thing today. So stoke up a big fire, light it and watch rubbish on telly. Sit through a really bad film starring George Hamilton – why is he famous? Surely he must have been something other than actor, mainly because he really can’t act at all. Was he a sex symbol? I doubt that, too… maybe he bent spoons or something, like Uri Geller. Enjoy a day of fatness and slobbery. If fatness and slobbery were ways to aspire to lead your life I would be a guru.

SATURDAY

LOSE the dog. Panic. My wee Flora! This is the hairy wee mongrel I got last year in the cat and dog home and it has taken this long for her to really settle and be happy – and now she is gone. Run round the streets sobbing and calling her name. Several women turn around and look at me – I suspect they may be called Flora, but not the one I want. Don’t know what to do, as it is now dark. So I sit with a glass of wine, exhausted and sad, mourning the loss of my dog – and the fact Pop Idol is finished – when there is a great kerfuffle at the door. Louis opens it to find a very wet, very waggy and revoltingly muddy Flora there. Despite the mud, she is welcomed back into the bosom of the family and we all lie around feeding her our tea.

SUNDAY

TAKE Flora out for a big walk in case that’s why she ran away. Try to clench my buttocks and do Callanetics at the same time, which may explain why an elderly lady came up and asked if I was OK. Start humming, “Tall and tan and young and lovely, the girl from Ipanema goes walking.” Yeah, right. More like, “Short, and white and old and grotty, the girl fae Aberdeen goes hobbling.” You’ve either got it or you ain’t – and I ain’t.