The truth about Post-Its

The reason I am doing this Zero to Hero challenge is to unblock my blog block. And now, having waited all day for inspiration, those nice people at WordPress have suggested I look again at my blog’s theme (footnote: this is what your blog actually looks like, as opposed to what your blog is about. Some blog “what they are about” themes include: my journey, religion, what I like to cook and then tell you about, grammar and the Oxford comma, or grammar, and the Oxford comma, whereas some blog “what do they look like” themes include: Passata, Tightfist, Gorgonzola, and Fitted Sheet)

So I am, instead, pretending that WordPress have suggested:

Today’s assignment: write about the day you first heard about Post-Its.

People in the 1980s only really had access to bits of paper and paper clips. (footnote: unless you wanted to take your stationery relationship to another level, in which case you’d commit to a stapler). We weren’t unhappy of course, because we were simple, and knew no better. After all, we had more than enough going on: shoulder pads, Kajagoogoo, Margaret Thatcher and Thundercats.

At the time I was working for the local Council and my job involved sending out bills to people. The bills were for dull things like hospitals, schools, roads and rubbish collection (that’s collection of rubbish, as opposed to really badly collected rubbish. That was given for free). Unsurprisingly, people disliked paying these bills, and so would come into the office and complain. We had three queueing options: Five Complaints or Fewer, Strongest Possible Terms, and Self-Service. This last one was simply a booth which none of us would attend to in the hope that eventually the rate-payer would simply get bored, leave and either pay their bill, or just get taken to court.

Each morning we would draw straws for Strongest Possible Terms as most of us disliked being abused. Back then I was still quite young and my only experience with swearing was when I accidentally overheard my father say the words “bloody hell”. My brother and I looked at each other aghast and could only deduce that the next plague to befall our family would be shop-bought cake. Derek, my boss, tried to be firm with us but he was basically a nice man who wore a fairisle pullover and liked Monty Python, and he tried as hard as he could to protect us from beastliness. In Leamngton Spa we hadn’t heard of motivational theory so Derek had no real concept of reward startegies, preferring instead to give us a gentle squeeze of the bottom whenever we did anything well. I have since studied Herzberg and Maslow and can find little to support his approach. These days his behaviour would have been viewed as both inappropriate and possibly abusive, but back then, he was just given a wide-berth. Our attitudes of course have changed radically: when I was about seven, I ran home and told my mum that a man in a white van had asked if I wanted to see his puppy but and when I looked though his window he showed me his penis. (footnote: I’m not sure if I used the word penis – we tended to refer to anything remotely in the area contained by underpants as “down below” so it’s unlikely I had any sophisticated language). On hearing this my mother smacked me and said it served me right for looking in men’s vans. To be fair, I’ve never risked it since.

I’ve no idea how Derek got hold of the first ever Post-Its. Maybe he had contacts in London? However they came to him, he knew he had something really rather special, and something we all wanted a bit of. We were spellbound by the stickiness – sticky enough to stick, but not so sticky they couldn’t be unstuck. I don’t think I’d ever been quite so entranced. Derek seemed, I don’t know, glamorous I suppose. Attractive and ever-so-slightly dangerous. I think I fell in love that day and suddenly I was volunteering to go on Strongest Possible Terms. Some people have a profound impact on our lives, and he was one of them. In fact I often think of Derek when I’m repositioning a note.


Anyway, where was I? Oh yes! WordPress give me something else to post tomorrow! I’m still stuck. And a little bit unstuck. And stuck again. Brilliant.


Meet the neighbours

No, not the actual neighbours. As it happens I have great neighbours now. On one side, they mend their fences – not just in a Robert Frost way but I mean they literally mended the fences when they blew down last month. Living in Coventry, there is every chance that these are the very larch laps that the Luftwaffe missed, so I appreciate it. The other side blew down too, and I am taking responsibility for these. My Nigerian neighbour on that side is great – in fact he once helped me break into my house and when I thanked him, said “we don’t just do cars” – but he isn’t a fence mender. These are much better neighbours than the ones in my last place who dropped me a thoughftul note one day to say welcome and to tell me (a) my music was too loud and (b) they could hear me snoring. To soften the blow, they used notepaper with pictures of meerkats on. I really wanted to tell them that I could hear them having sex (footnote: unsatisfactorily, as it happens) but instead I moved and took my snoring with me to a place with thicker walls. And then there was the neighbour whom I never saw. I went round once by way of introduction and he didn’t answer the door. On reflection I should probably have been alerted by the fact that his front door was actually barricaded, but I just eventually forgot all about him and assumed that I would one day just smell his rotting corpse. But then out of the blue, he popped round at 5am one morning and broke all my windows, and demanded I return his trousers (footnote: I didn’t take his trousers)

No, the neighbours in question are my blogging neighbours. Today WordPress suggests:

Today’s assignment: follow five new topics in the Reader, and begin finding blogs (and bloggers) you love.

Now I’m already acquainted with some bloggers, but I will do my homework and explore more widely. I already have a random collection of favourites – poets, artists, writers, photographers – and I love the eclectic and bonkers nature of life on Planet Blog. To be honest I find some not to my taste. There are those, for example, who claim to be funny, but in fact just apply lots of exclamation marks. Or worse, LOL (with an exclamation mark for added hilarity). There are also many whose lives are beset by the madcap antics of their cats/dogs/children and who have to hit the Pinot Grigio at the end of a crazy day!!!!! And there are the survivors. Oh dear. Just typing those words makes me look like a psychopath. Is it OK to say that there are just some neighbours I don’t feel any connection with? I have nothing against them, but I find some of these blogs derivative, just a tiny bit predictable, a little bit lazy. A bit like Marks and Spencer’s Per Una range.

So for those who don’t know, the Reader is the repository where you store your favourite bloggers, and check in from time to time to see what they’ve been up to. After a busy day, having put the little tykes to bed, pulled the kitten out of the tumble dryer – LOL!!! – and onto my third PG, I like nothing better than to sit down and write ad nauseum about my miserable life and my failed marriage. When I’ve finished (footnote: I have written about 25 of these derivative, predictable and lazy posts if you want some examples) I then check out my neighbours and see what they’ve been up to.

I have some real favourites: the type of neighbours I wish would ask me round for coffee, because they kindly leave their curtains open and their lights on, and I love what they’ve done with their alcove. I would like to share one particular favourite if you don’t mind: the fabulously intelligent, talented, perceptive, sharp, funny, and cutting writer, artist and generally all round annoyingly brilliant Sian at Chapter 20. I’m looking forward to meeting many more. And I absolutely promise not to steal your trousers.

Day One. Motivation: high

Ah me.  I have a little writer’s blog.  I mean block.  And I’m not exactly a little writer.   It’s not as if I’m a big writer, I mean I’m an inconsequential writer.  I have a following (thank you! I am so excited to see you every day!) but a big writer would have books, and an agent, and the face (footnote:  the face is the face you have for the back of your book.  If you’re Sebastian Faulks you not only have a face, you have a pose.  I once saw S Faulkes in a Waterstones walking down the stairs and behind him was his publicity picture.  To my delight, he was not only wearing the same jeans/jacket combo, he even had his hand in his front pocket just like his photo.  Note to self: check if S Faulks has paralysed hand).  No, I’m not a big writer:  I just like to write but as it happens, I have big feet. Continue reading