Football Crazy

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image.jpegGood news – I’m no longer a golf widow. But wait, hold the celebration, golf has only been replaced with football. The nation grinds to a halt as Euro 2016 fever grips the country.   Himself is off to Bordeaux to worship at the altar of football.  In a couple of days he will set off on a ten day solo road trip across France on his beloved Ducati motorbike (I only recently learned what make it was, previously referred to as ‘a red one’ if asked). Lovingly buffed up and ready for the trip.

image.jpegThank God it’s finally arrived. I don’t think I could take much more of this insanity. To say the meticulous planning of this trip was executed with military precision would be an understatement. I sometimes wondered if the house would ever return to normal.  I look forward to the joys of coming down to my kitchen each morning and not have spare motorbike parts strewn across the counter tops, not have maps spread out across the table, yellow stickers on the fridge or messages from Airbnb every time I open my iPad. Finally, normal family life may resume.

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Check lists made, maps drawn up, a new phone purchased to ensure Google maps working, Airbnb booked months in advance and of course the much sought after golden ticket tucked safely away in his wallet (match tickets reportedly changing hands for 10 times their face value). I’d say he’s ready.

imageLast night we had the trial run. The rucksack packed, unpacked, repacked. I tried lifting it, but couldn’t. “What have you got in there – a few gold bars?, a spare engine?”. On inspection, I wasn’t far off. 90% of the bag consisted of tools for the bike, spare parts, bulbs, barely room for a pair of shorts and a couple of green t-shirts. If only I could pack so light. Just as well I’m not tagging along as I’d never manage with less than 15 pairs of shoes.

Ahh, looking at his happy little face as he gets on his beloved Ducati, his anticipation of a momentous journey, a trip of a lifetime, his pride in being able to join the Green Army, ’twud bring a tear to the eye.

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Poolside Etiquette

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imageYou finally arrive at your hotel after a long and treacherous journey, travel weary, exhausted. All you want to do is flake out in the sunshine.  You’ve been promised tropical bliss.  You envisage doing nothing more than sipping Pimms, taking selfies of your feet while idly contemplating George Clooney’s choice of footwear.  You gather up your poolside paraphernalia, shades, sun cream, sarong, book and head down to the terrace only to find the sun lounger Gestapo have reserved all the best ones. The only one left is beside a bin and some howling infants.   What to do?

imageI found myself in this very predicament on a recent holiday. I decided that there was nothing for it but to rise to the occasion and beat the Germans at their own game.

Before toddling off to bed that night, I passed the pool area only to see towels set out on four of the best located sun loungers.  Feeling brave (alcohol may have been involved) I took the towels and tossed them on the loungers by the bins.  Is that evil? Not really, I restrained myself from dumping them in the pool.

imageI awoke to glorious sunshine pouring in through the slit in the curtains early the next morning (6.50 am).  I watched with interest from my balcony as a woman arrived with her towels and proceeded to claim five sun loungers. Not content with that, with military precision she managed to drag a heavy parasol (anchored to a cement base) over to her den, along with a selection of small tables and some ashtrays.  Clearly I’d have to up my game to be in contention for a prized sun lounger.

Any challenge that requires this level of cunning and precision planning is right up my street.  I can easily out maneuver this one.

I made my way to the pool, took two more sun loungers and proceeded to squash them in the middle of the five, placed my towel and my lucky flip flops on them and headed off to breakfast.

imageReturning later, I relaxed into my sun lounger between Gunthar and Greta, oblivious to the glowering looks from either side as I flicked through Good Housekeeping.

Unfortunately, what began a tickle in my throat suddenly developed in to a severe fit of coughing. As it reached a loud hacking rasping crescendo I reached for my better half, taking his hand I gasped “I don’t think that I’m completely over that particularly virulent bout of Spanish flu”.  As my coughing persisted and it appeared that I might expire at any moment, I noticed how much space I seemed to have either side of me.  In fact, this was much better.  I had the best spot all to myself.

A Goddess has standard.  Now, where’s that Pimms?

Am I evil?.

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BBQ Heaven or Griller Warfare?

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image.jpegHorray!!  Summer has arrived.  Time to delve into the dark corners of the garage and haul out the bbq, (which gets little use in Ireland I might add).  Time for my man to shine.  I may be capable of turning out the odd gourmet delights in my role as head chef in our household but lets face it, how could I possibly know anything about barbequing, being a mere woman.  No, the barbeque is the mans domain, we all know that BBQ’s are powered not by coal, but testosterone.

imageFirst task, remove cobwebs and lift lid to reveal last years ash and grime. Remove any congealed crumbs or rotten meat the result of having  been stashed away last year in an unclean state. Obviously this is the woman’s responsibility.  Cleaning the BBQ is not manly work. A good half hour vigorous scrub of the grill and we are ready to rock.

image.jpegBuying the food, this is obviously the woman’s job.  Supermarket shopping is not manly work.  The meat may need preparation by the woman  first.  The woman may be assigned other lowly tasks, like tossing the salad, making dips, setting out cutlery, tables, napkins, glasses etc.  The meat should be set out on the tray beside the bbq in preparation for the manly spectacle of placing the meat on the grill.

imageDrinks in the form of beer should be provided to the man.   The woman should ensure that the fridge is stocked with cold beverages as obviously this is thirsty work for the man.

 

 

 

 

 

image.jpegAdmiration for the manly work being done.  While he dons his black apron, brandishing his tongs, pause for a moment to behold this vision of manly lovliness.

imageThe highly technical precision turning of the burgers, the careful examination of the sausage, all essential requirements to ensure even browning.  In the end to ensure no breaches of health and safety, he will make the decision to burn the bejasus out of everything.

 

 

image.jpegFinally, the momentous eating of the by now beyond recognition cremated meat.  Loud noises of approval all round.  The woman may announce loudly to everyone what a treasure her man is, to nods of approval all round.

 

I wonder who gets to clean up afterwards?

 

Signs you’ve given up on life

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imageA picture of a burka clad Anne Robinson in today’s Daily Mail got me thinking.  Some days it’s easier to hide behind baggy clothes.

Maybe you didn’t bother to check in the mirror and failed to notice that you are wearing navy trousers and black shoes but that doesn’t mean that you’ve completely given up on life.  No need to sound the full ‘I’m having a mental breakdown’ klaxon just yet.   A minor blip.  You may allow your crown to slip occasionally, but beware fellow Goddesses, it may be the start of the slide into decrepitude.

If you seek acceptance into polite society you must heed the warning signs.  If you fail more than two of the following tests, you are definitely displaying signs that you’ve given up on life.  You may need therapy to restore order.

imageWearing elasticated trousers.  This shows a complete disregard for society in general.  While ‘Thanksgiving pants’ as worn by Joey in Friends, may be permitted as a vehicle for comedy but in real life are an absolute no no.  Equally, referring to trousers as ‘relaxed fit’ or ‘slacks’, a serious crime against good taste.  If you wear tracksuit bottoms when not exercising, don’t bother with therapy, go straight to the asylum.  Perhaps it might be an idea to keep an outfit on standby, maybe some sort of bee keeping ensemble, it would be preferable to tracksuits.  Anne Robinson’s would do well to heed my advice.

You bump into someone you haven’t seen for some time and  they proceed to tell you about the fabulous cocktail parties they’ve been and their last holiday in the Cinque Terre.   They ask you ‘What have you been up to’ and you can’t be bothered lying.  You realise that you haven’t been anywhere.  My advice, just say ‘Oh, the usual, extreme ironing, can’t get enough of it’.

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You try to lift your mood with a spot of retail therapy resulting in unwanted purchases.  Dust mop slippers.  I rest my case.

 

 

 

 

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Procrastination.  If this is your mantra “Hard work pays off but procrastination pays off now”.

 

Brandishing a Primark bag.  By all means shop to your hearts content here but don’t flaunt it.  Standards must be maintained at all times. At least have the good sense to conceal it in a Brown Thomas bag.

 

You fall asleep anywhere.

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You only apply nail polish to your big toe, the others won’t be seen.

 

 

 

 

 

imageYou haven’t seen your bedroom floor in over 3 months due to an assortment of clothes, mugs, books and magazines strewn around. This far exceeds the normal realms of messy.  Nothing screams ‘Look at me, I’m celebate ’  more than going to sleep under a pile of magazines and a laptop.

 

 

 

 

imageWellies.  Only wear if you are a farmer.  Even posh Hunter wellies ceased to be acceptable in 1981 when Prince Charles was snapped wearing them.

 

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Your handbag is a health hazard.  It’s stuffed with tissues, receipts and chewing gum with bits of grit stuck to it.  Your purse smells of the cheese sandwich which you bought two days ago and forgot about.

 

 

You choose vodka

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If you fail the test, you are not the only one suffering from your descent into the abyss,  the mental scars extend to your pooch.

This is a dog who fully understands and supports your ‘I’ve given up on life’ behaviour.

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A Tale of Two Cocktails..Italian Style

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Fotografo-Titignano_018Is there anything quite as divine as Italian everything..Italian food, Italian scenery, Italian weather.. Italian fashion..Italian wine.

titignano1I’m still high on from spending a few days living la dolce vita where I combined all the above.  My fabulous nephew and his beautiful bride tied the knot in the little fairytale village of Titignano in the hills just north of Rome.  I’d run out of superlatives if I tried to describe this magical setting, so instead let me tell you a tale of two cocktails (or three, or was it four?)

Prior to this trip my idea of an Italian meal was typical, pizza, pasta and if being pretentious, tiramisu for dessert.  A virgin to the authentic experience of eating twenty courses in one sitting,  I wouldn’t have believed I was capable, but then I’d never tasted the real deal..

image.jpegSeated at our tables for the wedding feast (and it was a feast), we noted the menu seemed to have no less than five courses, each course four or five options, all delicious yummy sounding mouth watering treats for the palate, what to choose?.  Before the waiter came to take orders, our first course arrived.  Bruschetta, like I’ve never tasted before..

A cocktail bar brought in from Rome was up and running.  At our table Molly, who we later christened our ‘waitress at a cocktail bar’ announced that our table was ‘Cocktail Central’.   Raspberry Bellini’s were the order of the day, so not wanting to feel left out we joined in the Bellini frenzy.  I’d already had prosecco so not mixing the grape.. All good.    Next up was a selection of cured meats..yum, followed by cheese quiche.  It was then that the penny dropped, no need to ponder what to choose, we were eating EVERYTHING on the menu…

Creamy risotto with asparagus and porcini mushrooms followed by pappardelle in wild boar sauce.  Maybe it was time to try sticking to The Morsel Diet.  You can eat whatever you want but only a morsel.. Mariah Carey no less is a great proponent of the Morsel Diet… Only problem, the food was too scrumptious to leave any..

oldfashionedMolly informed us that an Old Fashioned was the last word in cocktails.  A concoction of whiskey, sugar and bitters.  My better half volunteered to sample one, take one for the team.  He never drinks cocktails…his mantra  ‘thou shalt drink only manly pints of Guinness’ was out the window.

darkandstormyAnd the food kept coming.  Goose, wild boar..each offering more tempting than the last.  Thank God I’d decided against wearing Spanx.  Plenty of room for expansion..… bring it on.  If someone is kind enough to invite you to join in their special day, isn’t it your duty to let your hair down, overindulge, have an amazing time?  Never let it be said I’d shirk my duty..

How could I resist the heavenly desserts (note I used the plural).  These works of art weren’t even on the menu.. OMG I’m going to be rolled home.

Now that the meal was over, back to Cocktail Central.   Molly with a finger on the pulse of the latest cocktail trends, announced that the Old Fashioned was old hat. Whisperings of a new cocktail that was sweeping the streets of Titignano reached us..a ‘Dark and Stormy’.. rum, ginger ale, black pepper??  Himself was first to offer his services again as chief sampler.

What to do when you overindulge?  Time to work off all that food..

 

I chose.. Chaka Kahn.. I’m every woman…

It’s amazing how that fifth cocktail turns you into the best dancer

EVER…

 

My First Job

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imageOff to town to get a job.  The Green cinema on St. Stephen’s Green, an old Irish institution had a sign ‘Staff Wanted’.  It was a lovely old theatre, the only cinema in town boasting ‘love seats’ – two seater seats for couples.  A family run affair, two sisters despite being octogenarians were still holding the fort.  Mrs. Daly and Miss Noone, both favoured pleated tweed skirts, twinsets and pearls. When it opened its doors it boasted state  of the art technology, some seats equipped with a Fortephone apparatus which enabled patrons suffering from deafness to hear the soundtrack. By the 1980’s it looked a bit tired but that made it all the more appealing.

imageOn a day off school school with my friend Mary, we called one afternoon looking for a job.  Yes, they could take us both on that Saturday evening, but a training day on Friday was necessary to acquaint ourselves with the mysteries of usheretting.  I was apprehensive but Mary fancied the guy in the projector room.. offer duly accepted.

 

 

imageMiss Daly, one of the sibling propieters, handed out torches.  Tooled up, training commenced.   As the complexities of torch holding were explained, it became obvious that there was more to this showing people to their seats business than meets the eye.   ‘Keep the torch low’ Miss Noone commanded, flicking the torch discretely along the aisle’s edge as she walked.  Only after a couple of hours training had we adequately mastered the level of torch holding skills required to be fully fledged usherettes.

image.jpegDespite having to wear a kimono type overall, the sense of empowerment my torch brought made up for it.  ‘This way please’, ‘No smoking in rows 10 to 14’.  I was beginning to enjoy bossing adults about (well I was only 15).  There was a real problem with people buying standard seats trying to get into the premium love seats.  Observation skills and a sharp eye were required to patrol the aisles.  The power could go to your head, ejecting punters attempting to commandeer a love seat without the proper ticket.

Overly amorous couples in the love seats fell into Mrs Daly’s area of expertise.   ‘Stop that carry on now’ she’d prod some unfortunate spotty teenager in the shoulder with her torch.  This work required a bigger torch than mine.

image.jpegA horror film called “When a Stranger Calls” was showing.  I got to see the first 40 minutes of it each night, but never got to see the happy ending as my shift finished at 10pm.  So I’d watch until I reached a level of terror that turned me to a quivering wreck, but miss the bit at the end where calm is restored and your heart rate returns to normal.   I invariably left the cinema looking over my shoulder.  Once home, too scared to go to sleep  with the light off.

 

 

 

image.jpegWe worked there for the Summer and left when school started back in September.  Mary went off the projector guy anyway.

Heels vs Flats

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imageWell done Nicola Thorpe.  A brave woman to take on her employers after being sent home for not wearing heels.   She was assigned by a London temping agency to work as a receptionist for PriceWaterhouseCooper, but was instead sent home without pay.  Her flat heels fell short of what was considered acceptable.

image.jpegHas the world gone completely mad?.   I’m glad to see that her idiotic employers have got their comeuppance.  Nicola set up an online petition which has now exceeded 120,000 and has forced her employers Portico to back down.

Heels weren’t the only thing on this arcaic menu of requirements. The thickness of tights also!!  Whiskey Tango Foxtrot!  Have the people at Portico been watching too much Mad Men.

“Tights of no more than 15/20 denier and makeup to consist as a minimum of: light blusher, lipstick or tinted gloss, mascara, eye shadow” Nail polish also gets a mention, green is out but plum is ok.

imageI suggest you dig out your old granny boots and thick woolly tights in solidarity.  Maybe a step too far but I am wearing my flats today at least.

Ironically, PWC have a blog about equality in the workplace.

 

If you want to wear high heels go right ahead, but what kind of illness of the mind would cause anyone to insist on inflicting pain and suffering on their female employees. If you are on your feet all day, escorting business clients to meetings as Nicola would have been then high heels are just plain cruel.

What is wrong with wearing flats anyway?  I can only deduce that her employers value shapely legs over professionalism.    You may be clever, professional, efficient, hardworking, but why bother.  When it comes to being valued in the workplace these qualities trail behind sexy legs it would appear.

So fellow Goddesses, if you’re on your feet all day, don’t compromise on comfort and definitely don’t allow anyone else the power to dictate what you wear on your feet.

Some reasons why flats are the better option – bunions..crushed toes…foot deformities…numbness…blisters…degenerative joint disease… shortened calf muscles…ankle injuries…back pain…osteoarthritis…lumpy bony protrusions…corns…

Would these pass the test……

 

The Six Stages of Spanx

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A friend of mine recently posed the question.  Should women of a certain age ditch the silky smalls  and embrace Spanx on a full time basis?

With a family wedding approaching I must use whatever means of deception available to me to ensure smooth lines.  While I’m a great proponent of the big Bridget Jones knickers (my secrets out) I find I’ve reached the stage where I need to progress to something stronger.  I intend taking myself into Brown Thomas’s to seek out some industrial strength elastic.

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For the uninitiated,  let me guide you through  The Six Stages of Spanx.

  1. image.jpegThe Decision:  Will I won’t I?  Weighing up the pros and cons. If you find that your cellulite is visible through thick skirts, or your posterior resembles a lumpy loot bag, well I guess the answer is yes. But then again, you are quite fond of breathing, and would like to continue to breath in the future. The thing is, although they look awful, the latest hi-tech engineered fabric prevents all lumps and bumps from showing through even the flimsiest of clothing. The resulting svelte outline a joy to behold. They make a Primark dress look like Dior (I may be exaggerating a little). Regardless of whether you are overweight or not, we can all benefit from a smooth sleek silhouette. Never mind what you look like underneath, never mind that you will sweat, blister, feel like a stuffed sausage and cease to breath. Pay no heed to the fact that your organs are being squashed or that your legs are numb. These crucial side effects will be duly ignored in the debate. Should you embrace your inner Bridget Jones? You will decide that the answer is YES. Don’t imagine you’d get a look in with the likes of Mark Darcy with an arse the size of small country.image
  2. Choosing:       Beware of some classic mistakes.       Never wear the long cycling short type under trousers. The legs roll up and look unsightly. Never try to overdo it. If you are size 14 don’t buy size 10 determined to squeeze into them. You might succeed in getting them on, but like a biological game of musical chairs, the unwanted wobbly bits have to go somewhere, usually up.       You could end up with an unsightly double chin, or an extra pair of boobs. Also bear in mind that they have to come off at some point. Remember what happened to the style icon herself, Bridget Jones. She wore a corset that rolled up at the both top and bottom, resulting in a perfect not so little roll around the middle.
  3. imageThe Religious Experience: Spanx are a gift from God. Once a devotee, you may never leave home without them again. Spanx worship is a common phenomena.
  4. The Secret: No bungee jumping, rock climbing, foxtrotting, breathing normally. No one must know you are wearing them.  Life must be put on hold to prevent a glimpse of your hidden elastic. No one must suspect your addiction to it.
  5. Admission:    Eventually the enormity of the secret will cause a meltdown and you will admit to wearing them. A friend will notice you are wearing a lot of tight fitting clothes of late and question where the tents have disappeared to. ‘OK..I’m wearing them’ you will snap.
  6. imageWeaning off Elastic: Wearing Spanx eventually leads to a lifelong addiction to elastic. The day may come when you decide to let it all hang out, and you won’t be prepared. An exit strategy should be considered.    I understand that there are programs where you can be weaned off elastic, but none with any great success that I’m aware of.

 

 

 

“However, chances of reaching crucial moment greatly increased by wearing these scary stomach-holding in pants, loved by grannies all over the world”  ..Helen Feilding.  Bridget Jones Diary

 

 

Finding The One

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The institution of marriage is a serious business and should never be enterprised lightly or wantonly according to my good friend Mrs. Mills.

A report in yesterday’s Dail Mail claims that an algorithm has been developed to find Mr. Perfect.  Whisky Tango Foxtrot!!

image.jpegWhat to look for in a man? Brave, intelligent, suave, sophisticated, thoughtful, kind, handsome, funny?  Wrong, solvent, hygenic and not afraid of the odd bit of housework .   Find a man who can keep you in the style you would like to become accustomed to who doesn’t have his own personal odour.  Forget GSOH or SWM, when placing your personal ad in The Farmers Journal include HLOD(has loads of dosh) and DS (doesn’t smell).

As an expert on such matters, I feel it’s my duty to share other qualities often overlooked when it comes to choosing your man.  No need to resort to dodgy matchmaking sites making dubious claims while charging an arm and a leg.  Neither internet or algorithms have a place in cupids plans.  Ignore my counsel at your peril.  My advice has over the years prevented many an unsuitable attachment

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  1. imageYou may need a measuring tape for this one. A man may be judged on the length of his sideburns. Sideburns should never exceed 4 cm in length.    I recommend carrying a small ruler or measuring tape on your person on first dates. Immediately discount any potential suitors overstepping the mark. When it comes to the sideburn rule, all severities in (even Bridget has to ask Mark Darcy to reconsider the length of his sideburns).

 

 

image2. The correct level of forgetfulness. A man should never remember anything you say, but still retain the ability to remember anniversaries and birthdays.

 

3. The perfect man should suffer from body dysmorphia, when it comes to his partner that is. He will always view you as ‘a mere slip of a thing’, regardless of your weight or size. The words ‘fat’, ‘chubby’, ‘stout’, ‘well rounded’, ‘child bearing hips’ will never pass his lips. These words will simply fail to exist in his vocabulary.

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image4. A man should never let the side down on the dance floor. The ability to tango or quick step should be held in the highest esteem. This shows an innate talent to interpret and communicate feelings through the physical form. Word of warning though, draw the line at sparkly unitards if your man is over the age of 24. Mr. Fifty loves nothing more than to start the day with an invigorating foxtrot.

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5. A man should be able to hold his whiskey. This comes in useful if you’ve had more than a few ‘lemonades’ and need a steady hand to guide you home.   If just doesn’t work if both you and your partner are a bit on the wobbly side.

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image6. A man should never indulge in excessive grooming. Anything more than a haircut every 6 weeks is vulgar excess.  Remember, the entire household grooming budget is for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

image7. Never date a man who wears socks with sandals, a clear sign of a deeply disturbed mind.

 

 

 

 

MCDOCEL EC042

OCEAN’S ELEVEN, George Clooney, 2001, © Warner Brothers

7. If your suitor answers to last name Clooney, first name George, discount numbers 1, 4,2 and 5 above. Also 3 and 6. He’ll do just fine.

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Some ideas for personal ads?

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Inner Poise

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imageDo you feel angry more often than you should?

Do you sink into despair simply because it’s Monday, or let a bad hair day ruin your life?

What you need is inner poise.  Mere mortals may seek to attain this most elusive of traits, but to a true domestic Goddess its second nature.  Inner poise is about self respect, class, appreciation, etiquette.

 

 

Follow these simple guidelines to help you cope with the trials of everyday life. Watch how it brings joy and sunshine to everything you touch.

 

imageEnsure chocolate levels are kept up.  I recommend 500g of chocolate or two Walnut Whips daily.

 

 

 

 

imagePractice wearing a crown.  A tiara will do if you can’t get hold of the crown jewels.  I recommend you begin with walking around the house, carry out your normal housecraft wearing your crown before attempting to venture outdoors.  This will ensure excellent posture, a prerequisite to inner poise.

 

 

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Acquire a pet.  Preferably a poodle which adds a touch of style and glamour to your disposition.  It has the added benefit that you won’t have to shake hands with any local riff raff you may encounter while going about your business.  A snarling pooch will keep unwanted approaches at bay.

 

 

 

 

imageTake a yoga class. A guaranteed shortcut to inner poise, while meeting interesting people.

 

Dress impeccably, remember less is more.

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Embrace adventure.  Try extreme ironing if you haven’t already.  I’m not exactly sure why this helps to develope inner poise, but it works for me.

 

 

 

image.jpegNever utter the words ‘Um’ Yea’, ‘Hi’ or ‘Yo’.  Acquaint yourself with the terms ‘Hello’ and ‘Yes’.

Always insist that your date picks you up.  A gentleman will always open doors for a lady with inner poise.

bridgetjonesChannel your inner Bridget Jones.  Bridget’s unique brand of grace and poise is an inspiration to all.

imageReply promptly to dinner party invitations, RSVPs or declines. If you can’t attend have a good excuse to hand. I always say “I’m having my pearls restrung”, but “I’m having my toenails curled” or “I’d rather stick pins in my eyes” work equally well.

 

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Ditch the  wine in favour of pink champagne. Never ever drink beer, the drink favoured by the great unwashed, loved by tradesmen everywhere.  Champagne is the drink of smart sophisticates. You may find that the more of it you drink the more inner poise you feel.