The Archive 2001

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Who is Anne Debondt? - "Suddenly" Anne's New Book..!

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Anne's View
With Anne deBondt

I hope for the sake of Christmas shoppers everywhere that a recent advertisement on the Internet is accurate because if it is, there are going to be a lot of satisfied customers this Yule season.

We can now purchase an acre of land on the moon - in fact, we've been able to do so since 1980. And, if the ad is reliable, the definitive quandary, " What do you give someone who has everything?" will finally have been solved!

No I haven't started drinking the Christmas cheer early. Nor, despite popular opinion, have I lost my mind. It seems that we can own lunar land, complete with title-holder documentation and all, for the modest price of £19.99.

The add reads:
"Now you too can own your very own acre of land on the light side of the moon, join the likes of Clint Eastwood, Tom Cruise, the original cast of Star Trek and two US ex-presidents".

We'll just ignore the fact that the list contains performers who already behave as though they belong to another world and two leaders who've probably made such a hatchet job of running their country that they've had to seek refuge in space, shall we.

Anyway, for your money you get,

  • Lunar Deed, which confirms your registration of the one-acre of the moon and gives the co-ordinates of your plot.

  • The Lunar Map so you can see where, on the light side of the moon, your property is located.

  • The Lunar Constitution and Bill of Rights which details the Lunar laws, your rights, and of course, the all important laws of THE BIG CHEESE.
A transcript of the Declaration of Ownership. This is the document filed with the USA and Russia along with the United Nations General Assembly in 1980 in which Dennis M. Hope - The BIG CHEESE - first laid claim to the Moon.Documents confirming you have Mineral Rights to your land.

All this comes in a slick Moon Estates gift pack, which makes this a wonderful and unique gift.
Note: The Lunar deed comes blank; the recipient then fills in their name and sends off a pre-paid registration card, which completes the legal process. Once you have got your acre of land on the moon you can get a picture of it from the Clementine Lunar Image Browser Just visit www.alt-gifts.com/?location=ctree and begin the process.


Isn't it great..?
Isn't this the perfect alternative to trawling the shops when looking to buy something for a troublesome relative you haven't seen in months - and would rather it have been even longer?

Anticipating that the information is valid, I'm making plans to purchase my own plot! And in the meantime, I'm also investigating if there are future plans to actually send someone there! I'll hide that particular bit of good news from the other half. I'm likely to get that 'gift' myself!

So, a town crier for Ely, huh?
Don't get me wrong, I appreciate tradition, I'm all for the idea in theory...
But isn't there something a tad ironic about employing a woman to shout the odds over the din of construction workers, cable layers, zooming cars and scurrying pedestrians trying to return to their cars before the two hour parking limit has expired - not to mention failing shops and disgruntled shop keepers?

Still, perhaps there's something to be gained from Avril Hayter's new position after all. If I slip her a fiver I wonder if she'd take a request.

I'd like her to shout something for me…

STOP CAUSING HAVOC IN ELY..!


Anne's View
With Anne deBondt

Does the name William Jones mean anything to you?
What about Sofia Dora?
Ring any bells?
No, me either.

But according to a long-winded letter, I am the chosen one to receive the "Special Grand Celestial File" that will grant me all my wishes and a whopping £3550.00 to boot. Ms. Dora - a clairvoyant-medium - has been spiritually selected to deliver my good fortune.

Evidently, and unbeknownst to me, the man has been in contact with the mystic for ages concerning my worthiness. I can just imagine …

Lights turned down low ...spooky music in the background … Sof and Bill chin wagging about how amiable and good - not to mention, kind hearted - I am …Obviously neither of them reads the Ely Standard then.
You see, regrettably it was this old geezers wish that he pop his clogs before I was allowed to take possession of my legacy so I'll never get a chance to ask him why I was so special or, in fact, ask who the hell he is and why he has never so much as sent me a birthday card prior to this contact.
The letter prattles on for another three pages front and back about how my aura shone out more brightly from all the rest. And that a strange vision (you know, white cloud, good spirit floating on it, kind of thing) appeared indicating my suitability. And that I should keep such a gift completely protected in my household, "as gaming professionals would snatch it from me" since this talisman is "capable of breaking the bank at any gaming casino.

I'm also informed that I will be winning the lottery, overcoming all sorts of burdensome difficulties or buying a new house or car any day now due to my miraculous windfall. But I particularly liked the section that reads how I'll feel the presence of a great, protective force (presumably this is old man Jones himself) for the rest of my life. And how I will effortlessly conquer all the dangers that I may be faced with from now on. I always knew I was special. I wonder if it's too late to teach the family to bow and curtsey in my presence!

Now, aside from the fact that Messer's Jones and Dora misspelled both my first and last name, therefore obviously don't know me as well as they are pretending to, or that it took four pages of highlighted, underlined bold print for them to call me a stooge (who else would fall for their hooey?) but the letter informs me no less than 10 times that my gift is absolutely free, no charge, non-gratis, complimentary! So what's the bill for £39.00 at the bottom of the last page for? Why the need for my credit card information if my old mate Bill is giving me his treasured bit of rock on his deathbed?

I suspect that I'm not the only chosen one and that there are other bright auras out there who should do as I did and drop this insulting bumph into the nearest bin where it belongs.

But should you find yourself hesitating, believing that £39.00 is not all that much to risk when you could gain a life of luxury and wealth beyond your wildest dreams in return, do yourself a favour and donate the money to Children In Need instead and support a legitimate act of fulfilling someone's dreams.


Anne's View
With Anne deBondt


Old fogey? Elderly? I beg to differ. But according to Mrs. R. Martin, only metres are taught in schools and consequently used nationwide, therefore we old-fashioned folk should be packed off to weights and measures yesteryear for our backward way of thinking.

Furthermore she goes on to accuse us miles, inches and yarders of undermining education in this country and making fools of the British public.

Oh contraire! If I'm making a fool of anyone it's myself when I try to calculate something from imperial to metric. The last time I ordered an amount of curtain material for my front room, I ended up with enough fabric to cover the windows of Buckingham Palace, twice!

And I've given up trying to gauge distances. If someone asks me for directions I plead tourism to avoid sending the already lost soul another twenty miles, kilometres, hectares… whatever, out of their way.
I've even lost the ability to calculate what weight of grapes I want at the market each week. Just to be on the safe side I find a bunch, tug off the surplus and hand it to the vendor instead of asking for the amount in new money, lest I find myself buying out the entire stock with my miscalculation.

But more importantly than my constant humiliation with the metric system, what Mrs. R. Martin doesn't realise is that we elderly old fogeys aren't dragging our feet. We Imperialists aren't reluctant to move with the times… just as she defends the school children of today, we just want to exercise the education we were given!



Far from feeling more patriotic, after yet another visit to the great US of A, I have become even less certain of my belonging.

Because my two trips were so close together I wasn't able to fully recover from my previous misunderstandings before committing a few new ones.

You see, the problem is that I have spent so much time here that I have forgotten certain words over there. Combined with the fact that I have a strong American accent, therefore shouldn't have any trouble communicating with my own people. Yet I fail to remember what a trolley is called until some patronizing youth informs me that the word I am frantically searching for is cart!

Or I unthinkingly ask for the toilets and only realise my unforgivable faux pas when I see the look of horror on the face of the lass who disdainfully asks, "Do you mean the ladies restrooms?"

Well of course I meant that! Really!

But what's even worse than using a word most Americans wouldn't say in front of their children let alone in public to a stranger, is that I don't know what size I am, in anything!

Do you have any idea how embarrassing it is to be my age and not know what shoe size you are or what dress size you take? I contemplated faking a 20 year coma to excuse such a lapse when trying on clothes but then gave up and just let the assistant think I had been drinking my lunch when I didn't know if I was a 16 or 2.
It would be so much easier if I could affect an Irish brogue or a Scottish lilt. Americans sympathize when foreigners get something wrong. Hell, they even raise the volume of their voices and use hand gestures trying to oblige. But when a native appears ignorant they become positively hostile.
I've vowed that before I pay another visit to the homeland, I'm going to do the patriotic thing and perfect my French!


Anne's View
With Anne deBondt

I instantly scrapped my primary topic this week when I read the shameful article concerning the war veterans who have been banned from marching down a country road in Burghfield, Berkshire on November 11th, Remembrance Sunday, to commemorate the war dead. A march, I might add, they've been performing for nigh on 80 years without disapproval.

Supposedly the problem is that the old soldiers would be contravening a human rights ordinance by endangering the public with their two-minute obstruction. You know, the very public they fought, defended and died for?

The European Union responsible for the termination of the foot parade says the men would be causing a dangerous hindrance to traffic. Bull! Since when is vehicular movement a human right? And what motorist is expected to come up the lane in that two minutes that warrants such pretentious consideration? Hell, we've had every obstruction known to man occur on the streets of Ely in the past year, anyone witness the council being censured for their apparently unlawful impediment? Isn't it interesting how this rule has such flexibility?
These men have fought for the freedom to march their pride up and down any street in this country, and then some. We, the public, owe it to them to honour their dignity. We're not doing them a favour, we owe them recognition.

But what's more worrying is what this says about our complacency that we tolerate such an event being cancelled - not investigate, not evaluated, bloody cancelled - due to some suit in an office somewhere, most probably not a veteran, more concerned for the automobile than he is our war heroes.

I implore anyone with a shred of decency to voice his or her sense of outrage at such an insulting decision.
At a time when our country is involved in another freedom threatening conflict we should be mindful of what message this sends out to the present members of our armed forces. Because, mothers, wives, fathers and sons beware, it may take a while but this is how your fighting relations will be treated in generations to come when the government has finished with their usefulness.

I feel obliged to give this subject a mention since we are soon to be in the throes of shopping mania…

I came upon an expensive display of Christmas decorations and miniature luxury gifts in a swanky shop just recently. Clearly the items were intended for folk who have more money than sense because amongst the had-to-haves was a solid gold lighter, a diamond encrusted money clip, and my favourite, a solid gold pair of dice! Don't get me wrong; I never plan to purchase these things. But looking at them is always good for a laugh!
Anyway, rightfully so there was a sign perched on the glass shelf that read: Please do not touch the items displayed.

Now, it's not that I don't understand the need for such instruction. After all, there are a lot of us bulls in china shops out there. Or that I was offended at being treated as though I wasn't good enough to handle what the proprietor was obviously trying to sell me.

But what really irked me was that if the floggers are so all fired fussy about us touching their precious valuables, then why on earth did they fix the darned price tag to the bottom of them?

As well as a sign reading "Don't touch". How about another one giving us the cost of the thing so that we don't have to do juggling acts just to find out?


Anne's View
With Anne deBondt

Just once I would like to peruse a newspaper without coming across another article informing us that something else is to be done to the city of Ely.

Just once I would like to open a local publication and not read how our fair city is being earmarked for yet more development, repairs, improvement (and I use that word loosely) or obstruction due to some out-of-town council deciding that we haven't been inconvenienced enough! I don't even bother to find out if it's a good or bad thing anymore. I just shake my head in despair at the thought of more intrusions, diversions and detours.
And I'm not alone. The fact that the council can't get enough city traders to help support the Ely Christmas lights fund is a good indication of the antipathy most folk are feeling.
Why should the retailers cheerfully volunteer their time and money to illuminate what is quickly becoming a ghost town?
And dare I ask why, since we have such a glut of charity shops taking full advantage of special privileges and dispensations cluttering our high street, they haven't taken it upon themselves to show their compassion and kindness by stumping up the dough as a way of gratitude?
Because if ever there was a cause for sympathetic concern, it's Ely!

I should know better than to indulge in a little R&R. Idle time and me is just a bad combination. You see, the problem is that with nothing constructive to spend my thought processes on I begin to over analyse things. I allow my mind to wander into areas that just don't merit attention.
For instance, I was reading an article in a glossy magazine the other day when I had to make myself stop before I burst into flames. It wasn't so much that the models look more like bug-eyed stick figures these days, or that they feel justified in giving beauty tips when they don't even brush their own hair, but because I was overwhelmed by the litany of names, credentials and authorisations after each person being interviewed or written about. For example, I couldn't catch the point for having to wade through the list of endorsements after the celebrity stylist's comment on what was the new black this year - I always hate it when the fashion gurus say such nonsensical bumf… "So and so is this year's such and such from last year"! How can white be the new black? How can this year's flannel be last years silk? Can't they just produce something new without dragging last year's craze into it?
Anyway, why I was bothering to read the item in the first place is still a mystery but after the five word observation there was a string of the interviewee's qualifications followed by her title followed by her star sign. Then we were treated to who dressed her, who styled her hair and what she ate for breakfast.
I'm all for people displaying their hard earned titles. And if you deserve a designation, then by all means, use it. But when it takes longer to read through what the person is worth on the open market, than what they are saying, their opinion kinda loses its impact.

My husband is feeling quite satisfied with himself these days. He has taken upon himself to solve my coffee dilemma.

Just as I signalled the waiter back to the table for a proper fill, my other half quickly poured his coffee into my cup and asked to be brought a cup of tea. That may have won the battle but there's still the war!


Anne's View
With Anne deBondt


I call this time of year the tweener season because it's not hot enough to be summer or cool enough to be autumn or freezing enough to be winter. And folk reflect this befuddledness by not being able to decide whether they should wear full-on snow gear and keep the beach kit handy, just in case a south wind blows or slap on the factor 25 and wear a parka.

You often see lasses dressed in a winter jacket and then opened toed shoes. Or woollen, high-necked jumpers and a mini skirt so short the poor gal's naked legs are blue from exposure - oh yes, and opened toed shoes!
And men are just as bad. I spied one mixed up male looking as if he were wearing everything he owned. He proudly sported a dapper pair of welly-boots, a pair of Hawaiian patterned shorts and a hooded anorak, with the hood pulled up, as he sauntered through the market square! It was the worst case of displaced seasonal dressing I've ever seen.
I blame global warming entirely. But then I blame global warming for just about everything. If the fridge breaks down I find a way to cast aspersions on the fact that we all use too many aerosol sprays. And, is it me, or does anyone else feel as though we have to mow the lawns year round now?
But back to my point, there has to be a manufacturer ready to take advantage of this gap in seasonal apparel. Someone has to know how to clothe people who just aren't ready to let go of the warm weather, despite the sub-zero forecast. Or the individuals who have thermostats registering autumn in June!


It might interest you to know that I have continued with my 'full cup of coffee' campaign, even during my time away from the Ely Standard - even while I was in California. And again just recently while out to dinner with my other half, celebrating the fact that he and I are once again reunited and able to resume the hectic and chaotic life we have come to know and occasionally derive a little pleasure from.

It seems that to be served a full cup of coffee without having to resort to stalking the waitress has become my mission in life. Well, that and the promotion of self-baking dinners, but I'll make a long story short and just cut to the chase…
It might not have been so bad had the waitress explained the situation prior to plopping our cups down in front of us.
But being served a fishbowl size mug with less than a trace of fluid at the bottom was more than I could tolerate, campaign or no campaign.
When I drew attention to the fact that she still had more coffee to pour, the waitress explained that the kitchen had run out of small cups therefore they were putting small servings into the larger cups.
Now, forget for a moment that this would be like serving my side salad on the sweet trolley because they ran out of small plates, or that, at the very least, they are obliged to pour a large coffee for the price of a small as a way of recompense, but what were they going to do when they ran out of small cups? Serve it in the palm of the customer's hand?
A little bird tells me that Mr. Ken Gandy of Ely has managed to find a haven of full-cupped service; I demand him to divulge the whereabouts now and put me out of my misery!



Doing a good job

Why can't we get good, courteous service in England?
What is it about being a waitress or sales attendant that makes people completely forgo all semblance of common courtesy the minute you request attention?

Why does a typically well-mannered young lady who chats amiably about the weather or other such simplicities without a trace of exasperation suddenly become an ill-tempered, uninterested harridan once she's pierced her frock with a nametag?

Before you rush to pen your defence in light of my obvious misrepresentation, let me recount my experiences as they've actually happened…

I recently spent a few days in Scotland where not once did I encounter anything but the kindest of salespeople or restaurant staff. Nothing I asked for or inquired after was too much trouble.

No frosty receptions when I dared to ask a waitress to take my order. Or even the slightest air of resentment when I needed further information from a receptionist. In short, I never once felt as though I had "bothered" someone by expecting him or her to do their job. With every request I was treated to a sunny disposition - even though the temperature outside was well below zero for most of my stay.

However, less than five miles over the border and back into England my party and I encountered a young man who couldn't have cared less that we hoped for a cup of coffee at the café of his employ. He couldn't even muster up a civil greeting and grunted his welcome without bothering to make eye contact. I suppose we should have been grateful he was at the door. Although, even I could have managed to seat myself at one of the many unoccupied tables without taxing my brain too much. Even designating between smoking and non-smoking wasn't necessary. I could have smoked the entire no-smoking section; such was the emptiness of the place.

In just those few fleeting seconds we were given the distinct impression that something far more important occupied his mind - like what to pierce, tattoo or mutilate on his body next. He'd already poked enough holes in his face with an assortment of posts, studs and chains to make drinking fluids an impossibility! And I tried not to stare but the tattoos creeping out from behind collar and cuffs were intriguing, to say the least. All I could think of was that his parents must make him wear a body suit and a balaclava for the family photos.
Why the stark contrast between England and the rest of the t world?

Why have I had to practically bully a salesgirl into investigating whether or not they have more stock in the back room when surely that's her job? Why has an attendant actually gotten stroppy with me only because I politely asked for a receipt after the transaction? How difficult can it be to detach the already perforated paper from the till? What was he going to do with it, make a paper-mache car?

And the time I unforgivably submitted a deposit slip at the bank without filling in the amount properly still gives me chills.

I mean, the form looked fine to me. My account number was printed legibly, my name was spelt correctly and the amount I wished to line their vaults with was already written in twice. So what more information could they need?

But when upon examination of my innocently handed over counterfoil the teller's face turned a funny shade of granite, I knew I had committed a finance faux pas.

It seems, and I'm embarrassed to admit this, that I had inadvertently omitted to enter the amount of my deposit for a fifth time! Imagine my shame. But why does the amount need to be duplicated so many times on such a small form anyway? It's not as if there are pages and pages of data and therefore you could forget from start to finish.

Anyway, much to my relief, the Hun behind the glass entered the correct information without reporting me to the counter-foil patrol. And then pounded down her official stamp so hard that I bet you can still see the indentation it left on her counter to this day…Honestly, you'd have thought I showed up at the window and asked her to comb my hair!

What's up with everybody? Don't the public serving concerns of England know that in order to do good business you need to provide good service? Is it so difficult to figure out that if people wanted to be treated badly, ignored or ridiculed they'd have stayed at home?

Entertaining With Food

Can there be anything more humiliating than having to order food or drink in a public place that has been given a silly or sexually suggestive name?

I have this notion that the managers and staff are hiding somewhere in the background, splitting their sides at the stupidity of a grown woman being forced to ask her cocktail waiter, "Can I have a Long Tall Screw? Or do I want the Titty Kitty? Oh, I didn't see that you had Orgasms here, what's in that?"

Honestly, the immaturity of some people.

And ordering food is no better. You'd think you were at a kiddie's party instead of a respectable restaurant with some of the fare.

I mean, I'm sure there's someone, somewhere who's entertained by a well-dressed adult ordering a Bonzo beefsteak.

"What would you like with that sir?"

"I'll have the flippy chippies instead of the spud buster baked potato and a big-gulp soda!"
But I'm most definitely not. It's downright degrading.

And it doesn't stop with the drinks, entrées or main courses either. There's the dessert menu to get through, just to top things off.

Most of these items have also been re-titled so that some poor fat lady becomes the staff's Christmas party show-stopper when she's on film asking, "May I have the double deluxe chock-full choco mountain with whipped cream… oh yes, and sprinkles, please?"

I fight back, if I see something on the menu that I want but the common term has been changed to humiliate the customer when they order it, I simply ask the waiter or waitress to pronounce it for me as if I don't get it. Then I choose something else.

Two can play at their game!


An odd name

Warning: Anyone sensitive about the spelling of his or her name should not read this week's article. The following correspondence will definitely cause you offence.

What's with women deliberately miss-spelling their names trying to sound exotic?
I'm talking about the Sharrons and Kandees or Cathees and Leesas. Not to mention the Brandees, Shrees and Aamees of the world.

The vogue for dubbing an offspring with a soap opera personality's name just because "Dynasty" happened to be more popular than God was bad enough - I can no longer count the Brooks, Fallon's, Alexis or Crystals I have come upon in the last decade.

But why on earth would anyone want to intentionally complicate their lives with extra, unneeded vowels in their name?

I recently took part in a television program, and while at the studios I met a Loree and a female Sydnee all in one afternoon. I had an overwhelming urge to ask Sydnee if she had a sister named Brucee, but she was the make-up assistant, I didn't want her making me look like Quasi Motto.

Now, either their mothers had an uncanny ability to see into the future and choose a name that ensured their little wonder stood out in a crowd or they're stuttering morons!

I'm being slightly unfair because men are at it too. Although, there are not as many Rocks, Ridges or Storms (I actually know a man who goes by the name of Storm!) as there are female absurdities. And what's up with men choosing names that sound like mountainsides, anyway? It's gotta be "size" related.

I suspect the trend comes from a decline in values. People no longer want to make a name for themselves based on their conduct, principles or decency. Now it seems they'd rather invent one to get attention.

But when was that last time you consulted a Lawyer called Brick or a Doctor called Tiffany?
I think far from giving yourself a head start, being saddled with a quirky moniker guarantees a future as a lap dancer or male strip-o-gram. You're more likely to see a ShawnaLee shimmying up and down a pole to the beat of rock music, clad in less material than a hair ribbon, than you are a Ruth or a Clare. I mean, doesn't the name Brandee just scream boob job?

Similarly, you just couldn't have faith in a priest called Father Mustang. (Actually, my lack of faith in priests has nothing to do with their names ... When I was twelve I asked one to bless my dead hamster so that it could rot off to rodent heaven. Can you just imagine my horror when I was told that I should have had the stupid thing baptised first then blessed before it died? I crammed it in a shoe box and threw it out with the garbage… Well, if it had no soul… I know I've digressed again.)

Anyway, as for parents about to give birth, if you're even considering giving your young'un a name that looks as though you tossed alphabet cards into the air and chose from how they landed on the floor, think again…let me share a story with you…

One poor girl in my son's class was practically suicidal each time a new teacher read the roll call. Unfortunately her intoxicated parents thought it would be unique to choose the spelling K'Leigh (pronounced Kay-lee) as a way of accentuating the amazement that was their little girl. Far from making her an icon of the twentieth century, the little lass was often called Klay! You know, as in putty, play dough, Gumby, for Christ sake! In the end she legally changed her name to Doris- as in, Day, as in, TRY TO SCREW WITH THAT!

I refuse to be part of such non-sense. My one encounter with a woman and her concocted name ended in tears…for her. I pretended not to understand…five times! . By the sixth attempt to explain it to me she realised I was making fun of her. Ya think?! What a Moron. Or should that be M'oronn?



Anne's View
With Anne deBondt

Surely I heard wrong! Clearly there has been some mistake. Because it just can't be true that a certain resident has been ordered to remove deterring barbed wire from her house front as it is a danger to would-be thieves. If it were a threat to birds, squirrels, window cleaners or low flying aircraft I could understand the thought process. But thieves?

And as if that wasn't bad enough, another householder was commanded to remove burglarproof paint from an exterior drainpipe lest a baddy might slip and suffer a boo-boo whilst attempting to steal from her.
This is all hot on the heels of another incident where a fleeing criminal was only narrowly unsuccessful at his attempt to sue the police chasing him because they knew him to jump from windows while running away, therefore shouldn't have pursued him, fully aware he might endanger his delicate frame with a hard landing.
Whatever next, help-lines for villains? Dare I even joke…a support group for criminals to help them cope with negative public opinion. Or, for a real kick in the teeth to victims, how about a holiday outing somewhere sunny and warm to help deal with the occupational hazard of nervous tension caused by all that subterfuge.
It makes you want to pull the duvet up over your head and cry.

There's something a tad hypocritical about the British woman selling her babies to a more "user friendly" couple than the originally approved American pair…

If she's so all-fired concerned for the welfare of her unborn sprogs, why's she selling them in the first place?
All the slagging off accorded to the economical first pair of baby-buyers is two-faced. In my book it's just as bad to sell babies as though they were kittens as it is to want the cat to trim down the litter!

In between watching my morning programmes I caught a television commercial advertising a website for men having trouble finding a prezzy for the missus.
It's called either, gethersomething.com, or buyhersoemthing.com; I don't recall the exact address. But the gist of it was that they (men) don't have to struggle with what to get her indoors. All they have to do is tap in the particulars (I presume this means body measurements - that ought to be interesting. The last time I confessed my true size to the hubby I was pre-children and he was post-interest) and choose from the pretty pictures on the monitor screen. And please, no mention about touch screen choices, we don't want to go there!

Wasn't it bad enough when they got another female member of the family to pick something out for you? Just how many pair of slipper socks should a woman have to fake gratitude for in one lifetime?

And wasn't it only just bearable that you knew the bunch of posies was purchased because some cutie in a mini skirt was the saleslady, not because your groom wanted to say it with flowers? And haven't you already forgiven him enough for buying a box of chocolates, knowing full well that you are on your umpteenth diet since bearing his children, and he still presents you with a box large enough to feed the five thousand - and curiously didn't mind telling you that Woolworth's had them on sale?

But now we long suffering wives will be forced to put up with the indignities of having a Lara Croft screen image choosing our smalls! Oh the despair of it all…



Anne's View
With Anne deBondt

Call me sensitive, but I'm starting to think that we consumers don't matter anymore. It's beginning to feel as though large food manufacturing corporations are a little more concerned about making a profit than they are supplying a good quality, wholesome product.

Because In the last week it has been difficult to avoid reading articles and watching news reports about how our previously believed safe foodstuff is full of more stuff than food!

I'm finding it even more difficult to believe meat manufacturers don't know better than to include the yucky bits when preparing our meat joints? Isn't it as plain as the nose on your face that "unsuitable for human consumption" stamped on carcasses means don't feed this pigswill to humans? Or pigs, for that matter! And yet, there it is, our Sunday best all wrapped in cling film doing a fine imitation of nutritious family fare.
We haven't even fully recovered from the foot and mouth fiasco and here we are being treated to yet more horror stories about BSE and its re emergence in our food chains... from as long ago as twenty years, no less.
I'm not sure who is to blame for feeding us ill-making grub - and obviously neither is the government - or whether our food has ever been safe. But similar to our PM and his attitude towards holiday destinations… praise the British countryside and then high tail it elsewhere for a little R&R…. I'd bet dollars to doughnuts that the makers of these contaminated, unacceptable, substandard bits and pieces sell their wares and eat elsewhere!


According to the latest poll, 70% of today's females are dissatisfied with some aspect of their appearance and would surgically alter things if they could. So, women don't like the shape their in, huh… In fact, some even go so far as to consider their lives ruined by such deep dissatisfaction.


This bombshell was announced as though it were a medical breakthrough. As though the discovery will be greeted with sighs of relief nationwide now that we know what was causing all the trouble.
But conflictingly, I'm proud to say, the finding doesn't to apply to East Anglia women. An equally reputable study found that lasses in this area are more inclined to wish for the brains of Einstein than the body of Geri Halliwell. To be fair, I'd rather have the appearance of Rupert the Bear than Ms. Halliwell, she looks like a blonde Q-tip, but that's beside the point.

So what does all this analysis mumbo-jumbo reveal? What can we glean from a survey that answers the incessant question?

That some women are too fussy? Most gals have a complex at some time in their lives? Fake body parts make you a more genuine individual?

Or is it as I suspect, not all women have the time to gaze incessantly at their reflection in the mirror. Some of us actually have a life.

They're still at it...!
In spite of everything I've written before, it's still happening.
From top-notch eateries in Cambridge to small tearooms in Ely, I am still only getting served a half-cup of coffee, no matter how hard I crusade for the correct amount.

Except that is, the one place in the entire world that actually gets it right 100% of the time.
Each visit I make I am rewarded with a full to the brim cup of coffee - without even having to ask. And that's at the Waterside Tearooms in Ely.

Not half. Not almost. But FULL!


Little pleasures can make all the difference.



Is it me or has the world gone mad? No less than three national newspapers carried the story about the Big Brother pair who has occupied the house for the past year (or does it just seem that long) claims they haven't slept together! One paper even boasted an "exclusive" denial stating for the record that the couple haven't "taken their relationship to that level."

Well, all I can say is, it's a load off my mind. I was quite worried that the two might just go and do something silly! But since it's official…

Really! Who the hell cares if these two nonentities have partaken of carnal knowledge? What possible national interest is there in knowing whether or not they've done something even more unimportant and insignificant than appear on some voyeuristic television show? Surely there has to be something of more newsworthy concern to occupy the press than this twaddle. Even reading about Mrs. Smith's cat getting stuck in the tumble dryer -hereafter known as fluffy - would make more compelling reading.


Mothers everywhere are about to be put through an ordeal even crueler than the 'candy at the counter battle'!
Brace yourselves, batten down the hatches and reinforce the teatime artillery mums, because coming soon to a store near you is the purple ketchup campaign.


Yes, you will shortly be forced to glob purple gloop on your child's meal or be prepared to suffer the consequences when a certain ketchup company add the hopefully enticing colour to the kiddies favourite!
Perhaps I missed the last garish offering released by the same firm a few years back because I don't ever recall seeing green ketchup on the shelves - thank goodness! I'm pretty sure I would have had grave concerns about pouring slow running green paste onto anything my children were eating. Goodness only knows what else they would have shoved into their mouths had I opened up such a can of worms.
We should have known that blue M&M's were only the beginning.
I'm convinced that in generations to come future studies will be pointing their accusing fingers at this interference as the downfall of social mortality. It's always the way.
My parents still haven't recovered from the finding that there was actually a link between sugary cereals and hyperactivity. What they wouldn't give to go back and undo the damage. Not to us, to their sanity. Can you imagine five young children bouncing off the walls 20 minutes after breakfast?

This is probably the only time I'll say this, but…

Gee, I'm glad I'm forty something, married and soon to be mid-life! I just read that if you're a young first-time bride with a shred of dignity, you need to get your hands on two wedding dresses for the special occasion! Yikes!

Finding one that looked all dreamy and meringue-like - not to mention, didn't cost more than the loft extension - was bad enough. But it now seems that a gal must be prepared to change her get-up for the evening event and waft about the dance floor in an equally out-of-this-world second frock. Or she's demoted to a rank worse than commoner.

She's young, but if I start now, I think I can talk my daughter into a bohemian, barefoot on the beach affair. Two sarongs shouldn't break the bank. I'll even throw in a tulip for her hair if she's up for it!



Women are increasingly more in debt than ever before. In particular,credit card debt. The situation is so dire that it has even been given thelabel the Madame Bovery Syndrome (because the character verspent andultimately met her downfall as a result). Well at least it’s a pretty name forsuch a dismal state of affairs, beforehand folk were just referred to asinsolvent!

Evidently it’s all come about because women of today have greater aspirations than our ancestors. And are no longer satisfied with just a sturdy rolling pin or a fine feather duster. We feel entitled, nay, compelled, to fulfil our forward-looking desires, not just tend the brood and surviveanother day with dishpan hands and housemaids knee to show for our troubles. Inshort, we want things and we’re gonna have em’!

Far from being discouraged by the newsflash, I’m rejoicing. I’m even seriously considering introducing the letters MBS after my name each time I sign it just to acknowledge my hard earned accreditations. I’ve waited my entire adult life to find my niche. I’m not hanging my head in shame now –especially since I’m no longer alone!

One thing struck me when reading about the new infrared height detectorsoon to be installed on our oft-struck Ely Railway Bridge…

Since numerous drivers have failed to notice the yellow andblack warning stripes plastered all over the approach, several signs –beginning practically at the previous junction, constant media coverage of all the other distracted motorists who’ve taken a chunk out of the structure andlast but not least, the vast span itself, what makes the Cambridge CountyCouncil think a blinking red light’s going to make all that much difference?

Surely the smartest proposal was the one from a Fraser Gilbert of Little Downham when he suggested a goal-post type structure with chains hanging from it should be placed so many yards from the bridge. That way if a vehicle should exceed the height restriction an almighty racket would becreated when the chains came into contact with the roof, thus stopping the driver from continuing on until he or she (and let’s be honest, it’s almos always he) became wedged under the bridge.

And more importantly, the cost of such damage would belimited to the owner of the vehicle!

But according to Mr. David Brace of Cambridgeshire CountyCouncil, this solution would be too dangerous for pedestrians and passing motorist should the beams break.

Yeah, and a concrete railway bridge falling on one’s head wouldn’t?



I wondered what my other half would do for entertainment when Mr. Ken Gandy of Ely retired. And I was pleased when he found another hangout in the way of Amberlea Country Kennels of Sutton.

I mean, the poor guy’s got to go somewhere to chat about the annoying things his dog does – God knows I don’t want to know. The last time Iwas asked to pick up flea powder for the mutt, we argued for a week. Next he’ll be asking me to walk the thing.

But it seems that during one of the visits the owners of theabove-mentioned kennels (who frequent this article) mentioned that they thoughtit might be amusing for my husband to write an column about me for a change, you know, have his say for once.

So as delighted as I am for him to have found another haunt, I’ve had to establish some ground rules.

He and I now have an understanding; he can write my article when I shampoo his dog!


Let' see, what can a person do in two hours? Well, they can have their hair cut and styled. They can watch a movie. They can clean house. They can replace a cylinder head on an A series or a set of U J's on a 3 1/2 litre prop shaft (according to our William). And you can eat a nice meal in a nice restaurant - if you don't order from the starters menu.


And then there are a few things you could do in that amount of time but probably shouldn't…

You could try to paint a masterpiece (I recommend a paint-by-numbers kit). You could attempt to write a novel (tried that once, needless to say it ended up more a novella). You could have a go at decorating a room, well, perhaps just give the walls a lick of paint - around the framed pictures and furniture, that is! Or you could take a crack at cleaning out the refrigerator. Why do I always have so many jars of half used mayonnaise hidden at the back?

And here are the activities you should never attempt in that period... Learn to fly a plane. Perform brain surgery; prepare an elaborate meal with all the trimmings when HRH, the-mother-in-law, is due. And last but by no means least, Try to park, shop and exit Ely in two hours!

Was anyone surprised at the proposed parking limitations? What with all the past ruination taking place, wasn't it almost predictable?

Although I did enjoy the mental picture councillor Steward's observation conjured when he commented that we couldn't convert the Cathedral grounds into a car park. No, perhaps not, but it would have been fun to see where God's space was allocated.
And I positively hooted with laughter at the council's suggestion that businesses in the city of Ely should stump up a further £99,000 to pay for CCTV cameras. Dear oh dear, that's a bit of a cheek. What exactly would the cameras be catching, film evidence of no one shopping? The occasional tumble weed rolling down the high street. Tangible evidence that people only use the place as a thoroughfare?
Do the council really want shop owners armed with that sort of evidence at the next meeting?


I cannot count the number of times I have returned home with the wrong light bulb. There must be a thousand different types and sizes in stock at any one store.

I have an assortment of small screw in, large screw in. Large bayonet, small bayonet and the odd candle four-pack (who knew the damned things would stick up beyond the lampshade? There should be a warning on the pack.)
Then I have anything from a 100 watt to a 2 watt and even a low-glow night-light I thought was supposed to fit in my sewing machine.

Once when I actually managed to find the right size, shape and wattage the stupid thing only lasted 24 hours!
And if I could I'd return the superfluous little illuminators, I would. But by the time I've realised I once again purchased the wrong size I've torn it from its packaging and can't find the receipt amongst the debris.

But worse is when my other half opens the cupboard door innocently in search of a maintenance item only to be avalanched by my glut of bulb blunders.

He's threatened to decorate next years Christmas tree with them and me!



I love music, all kinds. Well, ok, not all kinds, but certainly the vast majority of tunes meet with my approval. Yet lately I find myself becoming practically hysterical at the sound of formerly enjoyed melodies.

For instance, yesterday I was out shopping and out of nowhere I heard the theme music to Jaws - quickly accompanied by someone answering their mobile phone.

And before that, I was treated to a tasting of Green sleeves just before a person could be heard greeting their caller.
Now, it wouldn't be so bad if the compositions were played in full or at the very least by real instruments. But these blessed annoyances make me feel as though a piccolo trio is following me about my day. It's all but blasphemy to have such beautiful arias reduced to such trilling irritation. Not to mention that the deformed noise then stays in my head until another one comes along to replace it. I must have hummed the theme tune to Mission Impossible for three hours until I was luckily rescued by someone who's phone rang with the notes of Chopsticks.

It was bad enough whenever you stepped into a lift to hear muzak played, Frank Sinatra's rendition of "My Way" was just not meant to be performed on steel drums…

And you don't even want to get me started on the hold noise I am forced to listen to while I await attention on the phone! There should be a law against distorting decent, classical music and then playing it to confined callers.
But more galling than all the above is the fact that even though I wouldn't be caught dead exploiting Bach's talent as a ring tone - I'd more willingly cook a meal than have Tchaikovsky via sim card coming from my mobile - I still check to see if it's my phone ringing whenever someone else's goes off!

I have written about this topic before but I feel it's worth another mention. Especially since the situation is getting decidedly worse…

Last week I was kindly chosen as a runner up to win the million pound jackpot from some catalogue company that I've never bought a thing from. This morning I was specially selected to enter the prize draw to win a brand new car from some company that I've never heard of. Awe, how thoughtful.

And If I play my cards right, next week, I could be the finalist in the grand prize sweepstakes for some magazine subscription drive I never solicited in the first place. Although, I'll have to wait to see if my lucky pouch containing the right numbers arrives before I can be certain that I'll be allowed to buy something from them and then enter the draw - don't you just know it will?
Are we all idiots? Does the post-receiving public have "DOPE" written on all its correspondence? Who thinks of these things? And why am I such a popular target?

I wrote last time that I fill in the applications with profanities and then return them hoping to deter the sender. But it doesn't seem to have put them off.

I would even go so far as to say it has encouraged a few.
Perhaps I'm a challenge. Or, maybe, and I suspect this to be the case, humans have been replaced by computers and central processing units don't have a conscience, let alone dignity!



Vacuous? Boring? At best mildly irritating? Me? Reading that sentence from Angela Sharpe's comment letter to my husband over breakfast last Thursday caused him to choke on his coffee. I asked if he balked at the word irritating or vacuous or perhaps boring…

"No, it's using the word mildly when describing you that flabbergasts me", was his answer.


Anyway, it always amazes me when people complain about something being a waste of their time or an insult to their intelligence yet know the very minutiae of what they are complaining about! How would Ms. Sharpe know of my boringness unless she makes a habit of reading my article? How can she accuse me of being empty headed (that's what vacuous means, I looked it up!) if my column inspires her to write such an informative letter?

And speaking of which, hats off for being able to recall 1999's CNN news report concerning the American congresses pay raise, Angela. I couldn't recount what was on the telly last week, let alone almost three years ago.


I have never understood the custom of having a hen party or a bachelor bash the night before getting hitched. And, to me, the tradition is becoming even more illogical since couples now live together for years before deciding to tie the knot, and in most, cases only go through the formalities because they want children or already have them. In short, they're as committed as they can get all bar the paperwork.

Several newspapers have recently highlighted the growing numbers of lads and ladettes who practically wreck the joint while out celebrating their supposed joy of the coming nuptials. Some landlords even refuse to permit such hoopla on their premises due to the costs of clearing up afterwards.

How absurd that a desire to enjoy yourself one last time as a single person should result in drinking until you pass out, possibly becoming so ill that you feel the need to empty ones stomach content on the pavement outside the pub, or better still, motivates you to have a spur-of-the-moment romp with the entertainment! And that's the hens as well as the roosters!
What's wrong with choosing to acknowledge spending the rest of your life with someone by having an intimate candle lit dinner? Or perhaps invite a few close friends or family over to share in the enjoyment. Exchange a small token or keepsake to commemorate the sentimentality of the moment…in short, start as you mean to go on?


What's up with all the wrapping on store bought products these days? I no more peel one layer of cellophane off my chosen item only to find another one waiting for me to bite through.

And it isn't just food products either. Everything from Cd's to table lamps are now more heavily packaged than a cherished family heirloom. So it can't be for health and welfare reasons. What could possibly become contaminated on a lamp that necessitates yards and yards of cling film to be wound around the shade?

Why must I fight through layer upon layer of finger-sticking wrapping before I get to play my music or watch my DVD? What would happen if the CD case just had a simple sticker over the opening … it might suffer form the risk of … what … cooties?
I've sent valuable Christmas gifts to my entire family in America with less shielding and padding than my recently purchased toothbrush and it only had to make it from Ely to Mepal!


I do try to be cheerful. I even practise smiling in the mirror some mornings just to ensure that idle face muscles will still work when called upon - a sort of ginning callisthenics. But geeze Louise, some days it's just downright impossible not to overstrain the frown lines.

For example, on Father's day I thought it would be nice to pay homage to a long-suffering husband and the father-in-law.
Now, usually we hold bar-b-q's, shindigs and celebrate special occasions at home. But that would have required my hubby to slave away over flaming coals on his supposed day off - kind of like a busman's holiday.

So this year I decided to splash out and treat our patriarchs to a nice, relaxing meal in a nice, relaxing restaurant.
Big mistake! Upon arrival at the chosen eating-place we found it packed to the rafters with mums, dads and squalling offspring. It suddenly dawned on me that other woman folk had had the same bright idea.

And worse still, the diner was unusually short staffed and meals were running late. Initially we had thought ourselves lucky to get seated when so many were being turned away at the door. We soon began to rethink our "luck".

And anyone with a shred of sense would depart sharpish the minute they spot the chef out front serving tables - never a good sign!

But then again, my hubby is so used to fraught cooks (me), sloppy service (me again) and scant attention (I never quite manage to completely set the table. Once the poor guy was forced to plough through an entire meal with two forks) that he probably felt right at home. So we stayed til the bitter end. Swatting away balloons, conversing over the din of crying kids (and fathers) and all.
I'll spare you the gory details and get to the part where HRH (m-in-law) and I decided to stop off at a nearby video shop hoping to assuage our men folk with a rootin-shootin cowboy classic while the celebrated fathers made their way homeward.

However, and in keeping with the pattern of the day, our first choice was out of stock. But instead of overreacting, we patiently offered our second preference and waited while the lad went in search of its availability. After all, we were grateful the ringing in or ears had stopped and that it was no longer necessary to dodge low flying balloons. What did it matter that we waited a few minutes more in serene surroundings?

Before long, the lad appeared with our video in hand. Soon peace would reign again in our lives.

But alas, halfway through the transaction and while I extracted money from the bowels of my purse, the phone rang. And astonishingly the previously helpful member of staff answered the call freezing our transaction mid trans….

I was dumb struck. Without an ounce of shame we had been gazzumped by someone whose day couldn't possibly have been as disastrous as ours. Probably because whoever it was on the other end of the phone had had the good sense to stay put and just call out for their needs!

That was it. The proverbial final straw. I snapped. With the finesse of a fishwife I crooked my finger at the Doris also standing behind the counter and insisted that she finish the exchange or we'd leave empty handed. Smart girl, without even questioning whether we were buying or hiring she quickly poked additional information into the till and had us out of there in seconds.
Some days it's just easier to frown.


Phil Collins, David Jason and Pierce Brosnin have recently become late-in-life-fathers. Now, in itself that's not such a grand achievement when you consider that they've only done what comes natural…

But the media hullabaloo that ensues when their sprogs are born is absurd.


Page after page of magazine and newspaper articles have already been devoted to how their heirs will be fed, watered and diapered. The way they will be provided for, reared and schooled has been laboriously outlined as though the readers are witnessing the second coming.

But what really gets up my nose is the over indulgent accolades paid to the well-heeled parents for their bravery in "starting over" again as if they've boldly gone where no man has gone before.

What hardships could theses entertainers' possible encounter? What household chore will they have to carry out in their pyjamas, smelling of aue de baby sick, when they haven't even had time to run a comb through their hair and still haven't seen to the breakfast dishes - and it's noon?

These people have staff to see to their every whim. They don't even come to a decision about what they wear … so it stands to reason that they won't have to perform the painstaking duty of choosing what their baby wears. Hell, I'd be surprised if they lick a stamp in a day. And should they actually muster up the saliva to do so, I'm sure there's someone just waiting in the wings to remoisten their tongues!

It's not big news when a celebrity gets up the duff or fathers a child late in life. It's only news when they do it on a tight budget, manage with less than three hours sleep a night from feeding demands and then run a household without more staff than Sainsburys! Oh yes, and refuse the megabucks offer to pose in the noddy to show off their coming attraction.


It had to happen. It was only a matter of time before someone somewhere thought of the idea. And of course it had to be in America first!

And now it's here! The doggy diner is a thing of fact. In New York (needless to say) a person can treat their pet to a slap-up dinner (I'll decline the temptation to use the pun a dog's dinner) fit for a king (Charles Spaniel, that is) at a swanky up town establishment that caters for the canine population with bowls of bottled water, real meat meals and a desert menu that includes nothing but the finest in kibbles and bits.
But being the doubting Thomas that I am, I have nagging questions about the plausibility of taking an animal out to dinner - especially since restaurants that adequately satisfy humans are scarce!
What exactly are the hygiene regulations in a place where the patrons eat off the floor?
What's the dress code? Formal or casual leads?
Are doggy bags allowed - or should that be owner bags?
Whose name should the reservations be in, the mutt's or the master's?
How would the chef know if the food isn't up to standard? Dogs will eat anything - even if it isn't actually food!
And finally,
6. What about the restrooms? Unisex fire hydrants lined up along the outside wall? Or is the pooch expected to flush as well as floss?

And can you just imagine what's going through the dog's mind while it's being made to feast like a person instead of the four-legged creature that it is? Next they'll be training Fido to use the finger bowl!


Why are tough women so venerated in the media?
The recent rise to meteoric fame of Anne Robinson and her acerbic wit is quite puzzling. Especially since the one talent to finally launch her international stardom is an ability to insult people.

If a male games host were to speak to a contestant in the manner Ms. Robinson does he'd be knocked off his conveniently out-of-the-way podium.
But not only has this virago of questioning been a success here, she's now been flown across the pond to inflict her caustic tongue on the Americans.
This might just bring her down to earth with a thud, though. The Yanks are not a quiet, unassuming lot when it comes to being picked on. Especially in California!
Should the woman spit out a nasty remark concerning a contestant's lack of intelligence when they don't know what a rasp file is or, god forbid, dismiss a contender with a biting comment about his hairpiece, she's likely to get one right back at her, and twice as spiteful!
Perhaps that's' why she's been sent there in the first place! Possibly she dealt out one insult too many and someone in a high position thought she needed a lesson in tact and decorum.
Does all this sound familiar to you? Perhaps I should heed my own warnings and turn a friendlier cheek towards my fellow man. Maybe it's time I was a little nicer about things. Did I mention how pleasant you're looking today?

Slowly but surely the "Twofer" craze is catching on - the two-for-one sales gimmick now offered in almost every store. And in some places you can even greater quantity multiple purchase deals.

Now, I love a bargain. And I can't tell you how happy it makes me when I save money on groceries or other sundry items. Although I can't say I like the store card scheme very much. I spend more time scrambling through my handbag for the appropriate loyalty card than it takes for me to bag up my selection of goods. And worse, after going through so much trouble to acquire my discount, I then forget to bring the compensation coupons received through the post with me to the store. Can't they just have them waiting at the tills for when the customer visits?
But I fear the give-away enticements are getting out of hand. Just recently I found myself seriously considering purchasing far more shampoo and bodywash than a body could use in one lifetime! And all because some smart retailer with a glut of the stuff put a full trolley near the checkout with a sign reading "Buy two get third free!"
You know, they stopped stocking confectionary near the tills when mothers complained at having to stand in the queue while their offspring demanded the easily reached sweets … could they not do the same for us good deal-aholics?

This is somewhat of a carry-over from last week… But I attempted to purchase yet another pair of shoes for a special 'do' and was dismayed at finding nothing but an array of freaky-heeled, grossly elongated toed, spaghetti strapped footwear.
It was like shopping at space odyssey! Or should that be space oddity?
Anyway, who can walk in these modern contraptions? They look more like tools of torture than fashion accessories.

But worse, I have trouble walking a straight line as it is. Trying to wear a pair of needle thin heels with a three-inch pointed toe will cause the other guests at the 'do' to assume I had a liquid lunch!


Even men who've lived with women for decades - my hubby included - still have trouble understanding their partner's passion for a fine pair of heels.

Males find it difficult to comprehend how we can spend an entire afternoon doing nothing more than scouring the sale rails for just the right shoe. Some are even jealous of the attention we devote to footwear. Well, to be honest, I do know a few women who'd rather go shoe shopping than feed the kids. But that's probably a subject best left alone.
It's obvious we're fundamentally different. I mean, when was the last time you heard a guy say to his mate, "Oh, I saw the nicest pair of brown suede Barkers last Saturday while out shopping with the wife. I think I'll go on my lunch break today and get them."?
Chances are, never!
And should your other half begin to show an inexplicable fondness for a pair of navy sling-back pumps, you'd be a little more than nervous to leave him alone in the house with the rest of your outfits.
But I could live a life of luxury if I were paid every time my husband rolled his eyes when I've brought home another pair of had-to-have specials.

Just a little aside…
This actually makes his point better than mine, but it's a funny story so I'll include it.

Soon after moving into our present residence we were burgled. It was a nightmare to have our cherished belongings rifled through like it was nothing more than garbage. But I was aware it could have been so much worse. The ransacking only took place in the garage, not the house.
As we hadn't finished unpacking, we naively left the remainder of the moving boxes in our garage ready to begin again the following day.
But the low-lifes beat us to it. All we saw the next morning was the remainder of a good thieving session.
The humour in my story comes about because I cleverly labeled the boxes containing all my shoes as blankets, pillows, dishes and books. Of course, they weren't any such things.
But once I had finished stowing all my sandals, boots and heels, I realized I had filled three moving boxes with nothing but footwear - more boxing than our clothing required! So I decided to secret them away without anyone finding out just how many pairs I had.
You can imagine that I wasn't about to arm my husband with that kind of ammunition.
What I hadn't planned on was the burglary.
Unfortunately my stash was what remained in the garage for the next day when I would be alone. And that's what the thieves took. Boxes and boxes of my footwear!
Now, I'm sure - assuming that the thieves could read - that they were just as surprised to find shoes instead of bedding and books as my family were when I finally admitted just what was stolen. And to add insult to injury, each time the information was processed to another claims department I was phoned to clarify that it was actually 40 pairs, not 4. I was forced to endure several such phone calls and I just know the staff at our insurance office called me Imelda Marcos. Some people can be so cruel.
Anyway, you see, it isn't so much that we need our men to become members of the footwear appreciation society. We'd just welcome a little understanding. After all, they fake interest in our hairdos is it so much to ask that they extend the courtesy to our fashion choices?


Aren't slogans and catchphrases a wonderful thing? Isn't it marvellous how just changing the name of a company or affecting a clever little jingle can make you forget all about past trials and tribulations incurred under a pervious label?

A short time ago the Royal mail changed its name - to be honest with you, I didn't know it had a name, I just thought of it as the post office - to Consignia in an attempt to boost its image and dissuade us from thinking that its service was slow, out of date or inefficient.


Well, I don't know about you, but as modern and with-it as their new title may be, and as pleased as I was to learn a new word, wouldn't it have been more constructive to spend the money on increasing staff or improving technology?

And what about Labour's latest ploy to entice tourists to partake of England's countryside and all its splendour as a holiday destination? I know we'll get tired of hearing the slogan by the end of the forthcoming election campaign, so I'll just refer to it once … " Britain is open for business and ready to welcome visitors." The Prime Minister goes on to list the many fabulous sights and sounds around our fine country…

Yet, dare I mention that Tone and the fam usually toddle off to Tuscany each year for their hols? If he thinks good ole' England has so much to offer, why doesn't he and the missus spend their free time and money here?
And more importantly, I have entertained family from abroad for two summers in a row and both times we were forced to postpone outings and curtail plans due to petrol strikes, tube strikes, train strikes, floods, droughts and BSE
And this year it looks as though foot and mouth is going to cause even more disruption.
Instead of whitewashing the problem with a nifty platitude, shouldn't he be concentrating more on getting the country over its bad case of shooting-itself-in-the-foot?

But lest I am mistaken and changing a name can absolve a person or company from all past discretions, I'd like to re-title this article as Anne's Reality Check.

This way I too can achieve a clean slate and still go on being annoying and opinionated - but with a new title that allows me to avoid accountability for previous articles. Hey, there could be something in this!

Following a ruling handed down by HRH Mother-in-law concerning an infraction committed by me concerning my attitude towards animals and their value in everyday life - this is in reference to comments I made about a certain cat that keeps using my back garden as its personal loo - she has requested that I let all readers know about a very nice lady who has just started a pet-sitting business in Exning Road, Newmarket.

According to HRH, the lady will cheerfully accommodate your dog for the duration of your holiday and I have it under good authority that your pooch would be more than adequately looked after, staying in the house and groomed during the stay. An interview can be arranged if desired. If you are interested, please contact Wendy Hobbs 01638 666140, and tell her Anne sent you! Well, ok, HRH actually sent you, I've just provided the space and the humble pie.


I am basically an honest person. And Iíll prove it by confessing that being truthful isnít an instinctive reaction.

When a situation arises I find myself having to re-think my initial response and then continue honestly.

For example: I have to struggle with the little voice in my head telling me to pocket the extra five pounds the cashier mistakenly gave me in change. Although this struggle only takes a second, I actually consider keeping the cash. In fact, sometimes Iím surprised when I hear my own voice telling the girl of the error Ö when I thought Iíd already agreed with myself that I was going to spend the fiver on newspapers!

Or like the time an item went through the scanner without registering at the grocery store. Instead of considering it a reward for being a good customer, I drew attention to the oversight because, despite how nice it would be to have free oranges, I know perfectly well that Tescos is a business, not a charity.

So because Iíve never actually carried out the dishonest deeds, I get to consider myself truthful.

But am I? Because I was absolutely flabbergasted when I read that a Newmarket man was to be prosecuted for taking money from a bank cash machine.

So the story goes, he happened upon a sum of money left in the machine by a previous customer and took it. Only to turn himself in to the police as soon as he saw a CCTV picture of himself in local papers.

Now, Iím ashamed to admit it (this is where I get brownie points for being honest) and as it hasnít ever happened to me Iím only supposing, but Iím pretty sure I would have done exactly the same thing. And whatís more, Iím not alone, am I.

At the very least Iíd have walked away with the dough and then, maybe, reconsider.

And if anyone is to be hauled up before the authorities, shouldnít it be the numbskull that left their money in the machine in the first place? I mean, itís not as if they had several other chores to carry out at that site. Their only objective was to bag the money once the machine spit it out.

I just hope the manís honesty in coming forward gets equal billing when he has his day in court.

Because if itís against the law to be too human, weíre all in trouble!


There is a worrying increase in the number of retail businesses that hire young whippersnappers to stand outside their stores and entice you in with catchy slogans and scant dress as part of a promotional campaign Ė even if the shop in question is of no interest to you.

In the olden days it used to be the crowd of people that jostled you along. But just recently I was practically accosted by one particular harlot with a leaflet in her hand while at a mall in London. Ok, I know itís the land of oddballs and weirdoes, but she actually shoved her bill of fare in my face and asked if I wanted to get zagged!

Now, not only donít I know what that means, it should have been obvious to anyone with half a brain (perhaps that was her problem, she didnít qualify) that Iím too old to be spoken to in this manner, regardless of what sheís selling.

And however tempting her bosses thought the approach might be, it ended with their wonder employee being told to Zag herself!

Itís enough to make me stay at home with a mail order catalogue!


I am basically an honest person. And Iíll prove it by confessing that being truthful isnít an instinctive reaction.

When a situation arises I find myself having to re-think my initial response and then continue honestly.

For example: I have to struggle with the little voice in my head telling me to pocket the extra five pounds the cashier mistakenly gave me in change. Although this struggle only takes a second, I actually consider keeping the cash. In fact, sometimes Iím surprised when I hear my own voice telling the girl of the error Ö when I thought Iíd already agreed with myself that I was going to spend the fiver on newspapers!

Or like the time an item went through the scanner without registering at the grocery store. Instead of considering it a reward for being a good customer, I drew attention to the oversight because, despite how nice it would be to have free oranges, I know perfectly well that Tescos is a business, not a charity.

So because Iíve never actually carried out the dishonest deeds, I get to consider myself truthful.

But am I? Because I was absolutely flabbergasted when I read that a Newmarket man was to be prosecuted for taking money from a bank cash machine.

So the story goes, he happened upon a sum of money left in the machine by a previous customer and took it. Only to turn himself in to the police as soon as he saw a CCTV picture of himself in local papers.

Now, Iím ashamed to admit it (this is where I get brownie points for being honest) and as it hasnít ever happened to me Iím only supposing, but Iím pretty sure I would have done exactly the same thing. And whatís more, Iím not alone, am I.

At the very least Iíd have walked away with the dough and then, maybe, reconsider.

And if anyone is to be hauled up before the authorities, shouldnít it be the numbskull that left their money in the machine in the first place? I mean, itís not as if they had several other chores to carry out at that site. Their only objective was to bag the money once the machine spit it out.

I just hope the manís honesty in coming forward gets equal billing when he has his day in court.

Because if itís against the law to be too human, weíre all in trouble!


There is a worrying increase in the number of retail businesses that hire young whippersnappers to stand outside their stores and entice you in with catchy slogans and scant dress as part of a promotional campaign Ė even if the shop in question is of no interest to you.

In the olden days it used to be the crowd of people that jostled you along. But just recently I was practically accosted by one particular harlot with a leaflet in her hand while at a mall in London. Ok, I know itís the land of oddballs and weirdoes, but she actually shoved her bill of fare in my face and asked if I wanted to get zagged!

Now, not only donít I know what that means, it should have been obvious to anyone with half a brain (perhaps that was her problem, she didnít qualify) that Iím too old to be spoken to in this manner, regardless of what sheís selling.

And however tempting her bosses thought the approach might be, it ended with their wonder employee being told to Zag herself!

Itís enough to make me stay at home with a mail order catalogue!


Are we supposed to be impressed that Tony Blair removes his suit jacket before delivering a speech? Because far from the act convincing me that heís sincere and prepared to do the job, it makes me want to throw the remote at the telly. The shameful posturing is an insult to my intelligence!


According to his public relation guys, showing his shirtsleeves is meant to give the impression that heís just dragged himself away from his desk to have a quick word with us. You know, all informal and sporty like. But whereís this laid-back nonsense going to end? Next heíll be donning a baseball cap and trainers. And dismounting from a bicycle in front of number 10, stopping just long enough for a lecture on the state of the economy before cycling off to have a meeting with ďhang-em-high GeorgeĒ.


Really! Shouldnít a man in his position strive to look his best, wear his clothes properly Ė hell, at the very least, finish getting dressed before addressing the public? And what if we were fortunate enough to have another female Prime Minister? What would the spin-doctors suggest she remove to entice votes?


And now that the hint of an election is in the air, I fear weíll be treated to even more outlandish posing techniques in place of good, effective policies.


Yet, if Labour had established themselves credibly during their time in office, they wouldnít need to resort to stripping, lying, name-calling or back stabbing to win a campaign. And if the Tories were smart theyíd stop Mr. Hague from doing his Opie Taylor impersonation every time he opens his mouth. Or better still, theyíd run their crusade on their own strategies instead of wasting valuable airtime with nothing more than poking holes in the oppositionís plans.

Although, I do get a kick out of each of the sides maintaining that they have the magic solutions to all our problems. Yet, havenít exactly figured out how to implement them.

But even as a layman, uninterested in running for public office, I know that regardless whether youíre Tory, Labour or Lib Dem, if you wan to get elected youíd do better to keep your clothes on, do away with the personality makers and get a personality!

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the cityÖ

Is there a curse on our humble high street or something? I was stunned to see road works on Forehill, hot on the heels of all the other obstructions currently plaguing our modest shops.

Although, I do have to say, inconvenience and noisiness aside, I was impressed by the lack of coochy-cooing and wolf whistling coming from the workers as I walked behind quite a statuesque blonde on her way through the blockage. Not once did they whoop or holler at her. In fact, they all but ignored the beauty and got on with their graft.

When I relayed the incident to a friend she explained that the absence of animal behaviour was probably more due to modern man feeling inferior to modern woman, than out of decency and decorum, as I had assumed.

Oh dearÖ whatís the world coming to when a chap is forced to give up such little pleasures for fear of being prosecuted or worse, castigated by a lass in front of all his mates?

Still, as pleased as I was to witness the event, and as politically correct as the restraint is, Iíll bet it did little to boost the blondeís self-esteem! Traditionally road workers could be relied on to whistle at anything in a floral print!

Why all the media interest whenever an actress is spotted out with a younger companion? And yet not one word is written about an actor when heís seen sporting a date young enough to be his daughterís younger friend..?

For instance, just recently a big deal was made of Vanessa Feltz and her newest companion all because he is two years younger than she is. So? Her husband unceremoniously dumped her over the vegetables one fine Sunday afternoon. Give the woman a break! I wouldnít blame her if she started dating Macauley Culkin just to rub his nose in it.


Although I do balk at her sudden about face when it comes to being overweight. Wasnít it she who expounded on the glories of being fat?† And shouldnít the caption on her latest weight loss video read, ďIf I can lose 15 stone so can youĒ. Instead of the ambiguous sounding ďIf I can lose 4 Ĺ stoneÖĒ 4 Ĺ for her and the other 10 ņ when her husband disappeared!

Furthermore, can it be an exercise video when the weight loss was actually achieved by personal suffering, not dieting? What exactly are her tips? Lose water retention by crying buckets of tears? Shake your fists in the air and wallow for two hours a day and shed pounds?†

But thatís another complaintÖ


Why so much converge when an actress or female public figure opts for cosmetic surgery in an attempt to look younger? Iíve seen famous men with their entire heads transformed by lifts, tucks and hairpieces. And not one† word in print about the fact that even his own mother wouldnít recognise him. CONT.

Itís grotesquely unfair that Tom Jones can gyrate on stage and behave like a teenager Ė not to mention, date them - without damaging his reputation. Yet a woman of the same age is branded a cradle robber if her escort is a mere twelve months younger than she is.


I suspect that thereís a lesser-known eleventh commandment that proclaims a womenís age must be measured in dog years!


I thought the ďpowerĒ craze went out with the 90ís. You know, power lunches, power suits or power deals? But unfortunately thereís still a need to power up because I read in a national publication that a person can benefit greatly from - are you ready for this - a power nap!


I suppose it does sound better when the boss catches you slumped over and drooling on the sales report to say that you were boosting your intelligence with a power kip instead of admitting that you zonked out due to late night partying.


And no doubt itís an American idea. Only we could turn unconsciousness into productivity.


I just hope the trend ends before some bright spark comes up with how to get the most out of your day by power pottying!


My goodness, itís almost St Valentineís Day again. I donít mind the idea of it. I donít even mind that card companies make a killing selling schmaltzÖ When was the last time you actually said to your partner ď I just want to celebrate the wonderful things you do and the wonderful person you are?Ē


My other half would rid the household of all sharp objects and sleep with one eye open, such would be his suspicions!


But itís the moneymaking assumption that buying a card and a box of bon-bons can make up for 364 days of indifference. Hell, Cadburyís and Hallmark combined couldnít atone for some scoundrels.


Well done to Mr. R. Law of Link Lane Sutton! In three concise paragraphs the† man nailed a solution to the parking/congestion/pedestrian problem in Ely with his three easy steps to success.

Park & Ride
Multi-storey Parking
Hypermarket at the edge of the city for larger concerns and businesses

And although I think the recent pedestrianisation has been an utter disaster, with such an all- round collaboration of facilities even that could be resolved.

But wonít it be interesting to see just how many opinion polls, surveys, meetings, discussions, think tank sessions and other such time consuming and money wasting endeavours itís going to take before the council implement these brilliant but basic ideas?

Or perhaps to speed things up a bit, Mr. Law might consider running for public office.

With that sort of level-headed, straight to the point planning, not only would I vote for him, Iíd actually be inspired to help instead of complain for a change!

Grocery stores are† marvellous melting pots of human behaviour. In less than half an hour I can witness anything from sincere kindness to trolley rage as I observe the public purchasing their staples.

Of course, I can only do this while my husband fills our cart. The last time I tried to shop and snoop at the same time I became so enthralled by a passing couple disputing their preferences for thick or thin sliced bread that I ran over the toes of an elderly lady. Honestly, they were actually arguing over what type of bread made better sandwiches! You see, just from that little sample of behaviour alone I knew that they were newlyweds. Anyone† married for as many years as my husband and I have been have† learned the value of finding middle ground and staying there where something as trivial as food is concerned. I could make his sarnies out bubble paper without so much as a raised eyebrow Ö††††

And another time my attentions were drawn elsewhere I ended up depositing items into the wrong cart. The look on the poor manís face when I decided that he should change to my brand of washing-up liquid was priceless. If truth be told, thatís when my other half banned me from using a trolley all together. It seems that he thinks it would be safer for everyone if I were† restricted to using the basket Ė and sporting L plates too!

Anyway,† people are uncannily themselves while they sort through the produce. It always amazes me how unaware they are that their true habits and temperaments are so exposed as they go about their daily routines. You can learn more in one hour at the deli counter than you can in four years of studying laboratory analysis.†

Forget about scientific research or psychological mumbo-jumbo, if you want to know about human behaviour, just go to Tescos!

Öthis is a bit of a continuum, but while in a local clothing store the other day I overheard two ladies chatting and had to bite my tongue not to congratulate them for their chutzpahÖ

One was complaining that she couldnít find anything she liked Ė even though a sea of womenís wear surrounded her. While the other chirped in that she has had to start buying her outfits in a size 14 even though she insists sheís still a size 12! Evidently itís just that the size 14 fits her better! You go girl!


There's something about purchasing certain personal items in a store that embarrass people no matter how contemporary, with-it, hip, groovy or cool they seem to be in other situations. Some folks, regardless of their age, status or standing, just can't bring themselves to buy their unmentionables in public.

I know of one professional businessperson that even sends their partner out for potty potions because they can't bear the thought of standing at a counter while the cashier totes up their toiletries.

Usually such fragility gives me a good laugh. Often I have poked fun at someone when they've admitted to chafing at having to buy something for their chafing.

But just recently my daughter and I witnessed a scene that made me do a complete about face.

Clearly the cashier meant well. Obviously she was only doing her job. But the fact that she was suffering from a loss of hearing due to an ear infection and the treatment being medicine and cotton balls stuffed into her lugs, she twice had to ask the unfortunate gentlemen ahead of us to repeat his request.

The poor guy stammered and stuttered. All too aware of two females behind him, he frantically gestured and pointed in his attempt to keep his personal life personal. But to no avail. In the end he practically had to shout his need and then once the lass had bagged his cause for embarrassment he hastily retreated back out onto the street without so much as a ta ta! And who could blame him. To be fair, he had been forced to share a little bit more about himself than we strangers cared to know. I dare say the queue were provided with information his own mother wasn't aware of.

In a split second I knew better than to risk such humiliation. When it was my turn I simply asked deaf-as-a-post Doris for some aspirin instead of the stomach medicine we had come for. Not that there's anything wrong with good ole' milk of magnesia. Or that my complaint would turn even the most delicate of heads in normal circumstances. Its' just that I had visions of having to mime the remedy - and I didn't fancy going there!

They say you should walk a mile in someone's shoes before judging them. And they're right. I'll never make fun of someone for being embarrassed by airing his or her complaint or condition again. More importantly, I've learned never to go into a chemist without making sure I have legibly written down my request in big bold, non-joined up lettering first!

Oh please! Is anyone really surprised by the recent Internet baby buying madness? And so soon after the two gay fathers purchased their offspring by unconventional methods - with plans to obtain another one!

Little by little the importance of human life has been demoted to less than that of vermin. So why the feigned astonishment when civilisation behaves so uncivilised? Blair's upcoming election campaign is almost entirely centred on the protection of animals. As though lab rats don't already get better treatment than an NHS patient!

If Tony Blair really is so outraged by the Kilshaw's bargain basement babies, then why is his party spending more time blabbing on about the inhumanities of fox hunting than the inhumanities suffered by neglected, abused or abandoned children?

Surely if he wants to appear concerned for the people, he should concentrate more on welfare of our future generations. That, or teach the vermin he's so hell bent on protecting to vote!

Revised Article for January 11, 2001

I owe a huge thank you to all the readers who sent me teaspoons after my Christmas article. It seems many of you took pity on me for not having a sufficient supply of the all-important utensils for when I entertain. And, I presume particularly because HRH M-in-Law was going to be sitting at the family table.

As of last Thursday I had received 8 of the versatile little beauties and plan to put each one to good use.

I promise Val Broad and her daughter Nikki that I wonít grout the bathroom tiles with their contributions. And I further vow not to use the ones left on my doorstep anonymously to dig up the garden weeds. By the way, nice wrapping paper to whoever it was that put the silver spoon through my door.

But I would like to thank Trevor specifically for his kindness in only giving me a teaspoon when I just know he toyed with the idea of giving me a ladleÖto fit my big American mouthÖ Thanks for the tact Trev!†

And while weíre at itÖ perhaps nowís the time to mention that the deBondt household has been running desperately low on cereal bowls too!

Has anyone else read their horoscope for the year 2001 yet? Unfortunately Iíve read mine and itís grim.

I donít usually pay attention to the weekly forecasts but for some unfathomable reason I took a gander at a well-known astrologerís predictions for my star sign and was horrified to read that I am in for a brutal year!† Now, had the guy predicted a lucrative twelve months for me I would have dismissed it as piffery Ė just as I always did in the past. But because he all but told me to pull the duvet up over my head and stay there until September, I actually began to panic. I even reread the paragraph a few more times, dusted off the birth certificate to verify my sign just to be certain and was on the verge of taking notes before I realised how foolish I was being and pulled myself together.

Evidently Iím not alone either. When I related my story to a friend she told me about her own mystical moment.

It seems that she got herself all in a spin one morning over coffee when her horoscope predicted that an office relationship was about to blossom. Well, since she works from home and unfortunately her husband is the only one in the family to frequent an office, she put two and two together and came up with a leggy secretary!

She confessed that it took every ounce of self-restraint she possessed not to hire a private detective and have her other half followed.
Arenít we the silly moos? In the cold light of day we both realise that this guy has no more of a window into the future than our very own county Councillors do.

Still, all joking aside, itís just as well I didnít carry on reading my husbandís horoscope. He has a hard enough time as it is just dealing with me and my imagination let alone some crystal ball gazing oaf filling my head full of ideas!

Anneís View

With Anne deBondt

Revised Article for Thursday Jan. 18, 2001††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††

Usually itís necessary to get all sides of the story before forming an opinion. And itís always a good idea to know the nitty-gritty details before making up oneís mindÖ

But thereís also the exception to the rule.

And The Councillors responsible for the High Street pedestrianisation scheme prove this in spades!

It doesnít matter that we pedestrians donít know the exact facts and figures of the financial loss the Ely traders are suffering. Itís enough that we know they are suffering.


Equally, in this case, it isnít necessary to give this white elephant of an idea a further ten months before you have exhausted itís potential and therefor come to the conclusion that the rest of us came to in ten seconds. ITíS NOT WORKING!


I donít know what youíre waiting for. I canít imagine what else has to happen before you hold up the white flag and admit defeat and allow Ely to prosper, as it should once again. But hereís what I do knowÖIf our merry band of councillors donít pull their fingers out soon and take heed from the very people they are supposed to be supporting/representing, the bigger chain stores will be the only businesses capable of filling the holes you are so hell-bent on leaving in our fair city - that, or the number of charity shops already cluttering up the High Street will increase beyond all control. And just for the record, Iíd be interested in knowing just how many of the councillors behind this travesty actually shop in Ely?

Anyway, you think youíre getting flack now, wait until youíve cleared the deck, filled the abyss and sat back to enjoy the re-birth of the ďsupposedlyĒ new and improved Ely.

Those big boys in suites will make your positions look about as necessary as chocolate teapots. CONT.

Ok, I admit it, I completely fail to see what all the fuss is about over cookbooks and their authors. I totally miss the gravy boat when it comes to making a celebrity out of someone whose only talent is to do something well that the rest of us dread doing.

And it seems that there are fewer and fewer of us dreaders too. This yearís Christmas best sellers were a selection of cookbooks.

Thereís the one from Delia Smith, another one by some naked lunatic that throws food around in a manner that would have had my children sent from the table and a guy called Ainsley Whatchamathingy.

I mean, really, whatís the big deal? Anyone can be a good cook with todayís electrical appliances doing everything but washing behind your ears for you. And you only have to mix, chop, splice, dice or whiz things into a bowlÖ and not even that if you happen to possess a magi-mixer. How difficult can it be to pre-heat an oven?

Not to mention, that even the rarest of ingredients can now be found pre-packed, pre-measured and all but delivered to you.†

To be perfectly honest, the only thing between a hash slinger and a gourmet is that the gourmet will carve your chicken into a swan and dress the plate up too look and taste like a masterpiece. And the hash-slinger would cook the swan and call it chicken served with french fries for all he cares, just so long as no one gets food poisoning.

No, Iím sorry, the be-a-better-cook brigade will just have to count me out. Iíll never understand how a woman comes over all excited and gooey-eyed at getting a cookbook for Christmas. You might as well give me the maintenance manual for the vacuum cleaner!

Usually it's necessary to get all sides of the story before forming an opinion. And it's always a good idea to know the nitty-gritty details before making up one's mind…

But there's also the exception to the rule.

And Councillor Donald Adey, tag, you're it!

It doesn't matter that we simpletons don't know the exact facts and figures of the financial loss the Ely traders are suffering due to your High Street pedestrianisation scheme. It's enough that we know they are suffering.

Equally, in this case, it isn't necessary to give this white elephant of an idea a further ten years before you have exhausted it's potential and therefor come to the conclusion that the rest of us came to in ten seconds. IT'S NOT WORKING!

I don't know what you're waiting for. I can't imagine what else has to happen before you hold up the white flag and admit defeat and allow Ely to prosper, as it should once again. But here's what I do know…If you don't pull your finger out soon and take heed from the very people you are supposed to be supporting/representing, the bigger chain stores will be the only businesses capable of filling the holes you are so hell-bent on leaving in our fair city - that, or more of the already irrepressible charity shops.
Either way, you think you have a headache now, wait until you've cleared the deck, filled the abyss and sat back to enjoy the re-birth of the "supposedly" new and improved Ely.


Those big boys in suites will make your position look about as necessary as a chocolate teapot.


Has anyone else read their horoscope for the year 2001 yet? Unfortunately I've read mine and it's grim.

I don't usually pay attention to the weekly forecasts but for some unfathomable reason I took a gander at a well-known astrologer's predictions for my star sign and was horrified to read that I am in for a brutal year! Now, had the guy predicted a lucrative twelve months for me I would have dismissed it as piffery - just as I always did in the past. But because he all but told me to pull the duvet up over my head and stay there until September, I actually began to panic. I even reread the paragraph a few more times, dusted off the birth certificate to verify my sign just to be certain and was on the verge of taking notes before I realised how foolish I was being and pulled myself together.

Evidently I'm not alone either. When I related my story to a friend she told me about her own mystical moment.

It seems that she got herself all in a spin one morning over coffee when her horoscope predicted that an office relationship was about to blossom. Well, since she works from home and unfortunately her husband is the only one in the family to frequent an office, she put two and two together and came up with a leggy secretary!

She confessed that it took every ounce of self-restraint she possessed not to hire a private detective and have her other half followed.
Aren't we the silly moos? In the cold light of day we both realise that this guy has no more of a window into the future than our very own Councillor Adey does.

Still, all joking aside, it's just as well I didn't carry on reading my husband's horoscope. He has a hard enough time as it is just dealing with me let alone some crystal ball gazing oaf giving me ideas!


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