Friday, 20 November 2009

If you don't know me by now

"Natasha, this is Bridget Jones. Bridget, this is Natasha. Bridget works in a publishing house and she used to play around naked in my paddling pool."

Last night I went to some friends for dinner. It was lovely. We ate a lot and drank a little ... or was it the other way round ... whatever ... a good time was had by all. During the course of the evening the conversation turned to my blog – this blog – and I received some nice comments and lovely compliments. Well ... sort of. As the rest of the table moved on to another topic my long term friend and neighbouring dining companion carried on talking. “I knew you were bright, but didn’t appreciate you were that clever”, she stage whispered. Mmm ... I guess that was what they call a back handed compliment. She then went on to say something along the lines of “But I am not sure about some of the comments. I wonder if they are actually referring to you. They obviously don’t know you as well as I do.” Which kind of got me thinking ...

Life is a funny thing, isn’t it? You travel this path meeting various people in different guises. There is family; there are friends; then colleagues and acquaintances. Some are colleagues who become friends ... and friends that become family ... or as good as family. People come ... some go ... some go and then come back again. These are the people that witness and observe your personality and characteristics, as well as the numerous range of experiences that occur during your lifetime. The good times and the bad times. The happy times ... and the sad times. If you were to ask 100 of these people for their opinions, views, memories of you ... then you would receive 100 different versions, stories and tales. So I thought we would play a little knowing-you-knowing-me game.

Now, I appreciate that there are various people tuning in to my blog each week. Some people have known me for a while ... many for quite a long time ... and a few that would go to the extent of saying “far too long.” Now, whichever camp you fall into, I am challenging you to how well you really know me and if you are up to correctly answering the following - 'cos I don't think it matters how long you have known me I don't think there is anyone out there who can fully answer all of them. Are you ready?

Right, there are four questions. You need to go through them and simply answer True or False. Here goes ...

1. I have won a beauty pageant

2. I have appeared in a popular BBC drama

3. I have never been to Wales

4. I like fishing

Please check your name is on each of the papers before you hand them in.


I won a beauty pageant – True.

Unbelievably, I did win a beauty pageant. It was back in 1981 – Joe Dolce was number one with "Shaddap You Face"  It was purely by accident. Me winning that is – I can’t speculate on Joe Dolce’s success. There was a disco at our local hall and they said that if you entered the carnival queen competition then you would get in free. I wanted to save my 50p, but had no intention of entering with view to winning. After all I was wearing my jeans and rugby shirt – hardly ‘queen’ material. However, saving that 50p resulted in me spending at least a dozen Saturday afternoons sitting on a roaming throne and waving sweetly at roadside onlookers who smiled back ... who used me as target practice when throwing their spare change in my direction. The highlight of my majestic year was hosting an event with The Wurzels. Yes, The Wurzels. Jolly cider-drinking farmers from Somerset. Yeah right. They were the grumpiest old sods that I have ever met.

I appeared in a popular BBC drama - True.

Well ... a sort of true. The BBC drama was Down to Earth. It was shown some time ago on Sunday evenings. It was all nice and warm and fuzzy, you know, in that Heartbeat and Doc Martin kind of way. I suppose it was about ten years ago, before the answer to everything could be found at Wikipedia and Google, so researchers for TV programmes had to work a darn sight more harder. This is where I came in. Down to Earth was supposedly based in heavenly Devon and there were a number of references to day to day health services – GPs, dentists, hospitals. Now I am quite used to taking queries from journalists, including those working for national media, so a call from the BBC is not that unusual. However, my first call from the researchers for Down to Earth was a little unusual. “Can you tell me which would be the most appropriate name for a hospital – Postbridge or Okeham? I guess I was pretty helpful as they called back a number of times, asking for advice on things which you would only really know about if you lived in Devon and had a pretty good knowledge of NHS services here. As a consequence they named a character after me. Sadly, I missed the episode, which would have been quite amusing to watch, but lots of colleagues told me about it the next day. I liked the fact that 'Paula Wakeham' was young and attractive and drove a sports car. But of course she turned out to be baddie – as all of those one-off episode characters always are.

I have never been to Wales – True and False.

Yes, but. No, but. Well, but, both. I have been to Wales. Three times actually. Once on a Christmas shopping trip when I was about 13. Why on earth we went all the way to Cardiff I really do not know, when actually we could have quite easily spent our pocket money (what, £10 at the most?) in Plymouth or Exeter. Then in the late 80s I went to Cardiff Arms Park see U2, supported by The Pretenders and The Alarm – and then again in 1996 to see REM, supported by The Cranberries. So I have actually been to Wales but I am not sure if my fleeting visits really count. But ... as you read this ... I am now there.

Having missed my summer holiday to the south of France I would love to say that I am about to jump on a plane for a little sun, sea and sangria. But we know that I can’t practically do that. So I am in Wales ... for rain, sheep and rain. No, I joke, actually I have been looking forward to it ...  I am staying here.  Fingers crossed it will be sunny, though cold and crisp, to allow for walks along empty desolate beaches and up rugged tors. Hopefully some hearty exercise, with photo opportunities, followed by warming one pot meals and a little wine, succeeded by some fun sing-along DVDs (think of me belting out Mamma Mia on a mountain) or family games. And ... if I am really lucky ... a bit of fishing.

I like fishing – True.

I know. It is a bit weird, but the answer to number four is that I do really like fishing. Sitting next to a river and trying to bait trout, or out on the sea and catching mackerel. Even crabbing. I am good at crabbing. I will let you in on a little secret ... success is all in the wrist movement (OK - stop sniggering!) The only thing that isn’t surprising is that once I have caught something I am a bit of girlie getting it off the hook and killing it ... especially when ‘it’ is a ruddy great eel ... I really don’t like those.

So there we go, whether you really know me or not, you know even more about me now. Unlike Bridget I don’t recall splashing around naked in somebody’s paddling pool. Though there was that time I unintentionally flashed my bare pinky arse at the plumber ... but I guess that is another story for another day ...

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