Category Archives: 50th birthday

Watching the clock of the eBay, seeing my cash roll away

I’ve just had my first eBay experience.

As a seller that is; not as a buyer. No, I pushed the boat out on that one way back in 2005 when I bought a pedometer.

I was given feedback after the exchange of a heady £4.92 as: “One of the best buyers!! Thank you! Thank You! Thank You!”.

I slept well after that, knowing that someone in the ether had used five exclamation marks with reference to me.

For the first time last week I decided to sell; tops that no longer fitted me thanks to the eat-and-drink-what-you-want-on-Friday-night-and-Saturday-and-Sunday-but-pull-out-all-the-stops-before-weigh-in-on-Tuesday-night-then-buy-a-bottle-of-wine-on-the-way-home-diet. It’s worked quite well to be honest. One stone and 8lb-ish well so far.

So a week last Saturday I burrowed into my wardrobe; unwanted clothes were flipped over my shoulder and onto the bed faster than a dog digging up a favourite bone ….. Six hours later I was taking photographs. Cor blimey, my clothes had NO personality. Trying to get them to pose in an attractive, alluring ‘you-know-you-want-me-look’ was pointless. And as for descriptions … Embellished with beads? I’ll give you bloody beads; and geometric designs; and silky-feel and snug and warm; and thanks for looking; and selling because of weight-loss. Maybe a charity shop could have been easier, less selfish and I wouldn’t have needed a thesaurus.

But it would all be worth it. I’d have a little extra cash to buy something for my birthday (50th, I know I’ve told you … this Sunday in fact.)

I clicked a button; my things were uploaded and up for sale. Then I suddenly became the most boring person in the world for seven days (ok ok, some people who know me may extend that timeframe).

I watched; I counted-down; I prayed someone would want my things. I was slighted when two days, then three then four went past and no-one had put a bet on. Nooo. Said t’other half; it’s a bid. Well whatever it was, it wasn’t happening to me. Did I have terrible taste? I felt sorry for my unwanted things, even at only 99p starting price and £2.50 postage and packing. Even a silky-feel wasn’t enough verbal embellishment to encourage a bet.

But then it happened five days in and I HAD BETS. (nooooo…. said t’other half BIDS). I was £3 up. £3!!! This was great. What would I buy. Wow four hours later I had £6.72! The betting had gone into overdrive. “BIDDING,  BIDDING’ (exasperated t’other half exits right to kitchen for can of Murphy’s).

Talk about addicted … I watched the countdown to one item and in the last few seconds the sale went up by 50p. I was ecstatic. People were stumbling over themselves to pay an extra 50p in the dying moments of betting (*****B-I-D-D-I-N-G***** grrrrr) to buy something that was bead-embellished. So at the end of that I was up £30.34. Howzabout that then boys and girls.

But then panic set in. How do I post them. I haven’t got anything to post them in. And wrap them? I haven’t got bubble wrap or brown paper or bags or postage labels.  The latter seemed easy to sort out. There was a link on eBay to click through to print postage labels and … yup, I’ll click on this Royal Mail link… what size parcel… this? OK. ooops I didn’t mean to REALLY press. Shit. I’ve just paid £4.41 for postage on something that should have been £2.75. I won’t do that again. At least I’m still about £26 up. I’ll be able to treat myself.

I’d better go to the post office and buy some of those plastic postage bags. Oh. No postage bags, I’ll get these little Jiffy bags. Yes, quite a few. Of course things will fit in them. That’s £7 please Madam …. OK. here you are … right, no prob, I’m still about £20 up and the postage will work out a little bit cheaper  than I quoted people. So I’m still on target for a little birthday treat.

Nope …the Jiffy bags are useless. I’ll have to buy some of those little plastic postage bags after all. (Next day, lunchtime: There you are madam. And bubble wrap too? That’s £10.15 madam. Thank-you).

Well, stay positive. You can get a nice bottle of wine for a tenner.

So, at last. This afternoon,  in the pouring rain,  I threw the car in the closest parking space to the post office and  posted all my items. I was happy. Tickety-boo. I’d learnt a few lessons, but I’d still made a little money, despite being bloody hopeless. I’ll go and buy that wine next. Perhaps I might stretch to some sparklie?

I ran through the deluge and back to the car, jumping in faster than a German in a hotel reception queue. What’s this? What’s this on my windscreen? I’ve only been gone 10 minutes.

Bloody hell. A parking ticket.

Yes madam. That’s £35 please.

Ah yes; just the ticket! There goes the wine ...
Ah yes; just the ticket! There goes the wine …

Hot-footing it to raise cash for Clatterbridge Cancer Research


Saturday.  It started off a cold October day in 2010, but in a few hours it will be hot, hot hot.

Or rather, I will be hot, hot hot. As of course, I always am.

But the bottom line is, today I have feet, including a particularly attractive big toe. Tomorrow, who knows.

Heel and Toes ... the stars of the show this evening.
Heel and Toes … the stars of the show this evening.

This evening (Oct 16th) at about 9pm-ish, after two hours of training and psyching up – which no doubt will mainly consist of conversations along the line of “what the hell am I doing?” – I will be walking over hot coals.

Call me mad if you like. I’d prefer to call it barking mad.

All with the aim of raising cash for Clatterbridge Cancer Research in  Wirral.

On the grand scale of things it’s not a life-changing action; I’m not setting new Olympic records; I’m not rescuing Chilean miners from the depths; I’m not flying to the moon; I’m not brokering a Middle East peace agreement. Mind you, no-one else is either.

But for me it is a little step forward in my life, a  noticeable derring-do-devilish action which 18 months ago, no six months, if even maybe four, I wouldn’t even have considered. Or rather dared to consider.

Over a year ago I wanted to challenge myself to 50 things this year; 50 mini-accomplishments to celebrate my 50th birthday (it’s nearing, oh yes it is). But that wasn’t to happen as I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome which left me wiped out.

When you have CFS it’s not like feeling “tired”. It’s feeling exhausted.  Consistently. But it wasn’t “in my mind” even though some people no doubt thought it was. Essentially my body clock was arse over tit; I couldn’t sleep; I was exhausted.

I needed much more adrenalin than “normal” people just to get me through the day; but the adrenalin itself caused the mischief. The chemicals in the adrenalin didn’t leave me. Instead they lingered. Like unwelcome guests at a party, they wouldn’t bugger off.

Imagine the ebb and flow of a tide. The tide comes in, and out it goes again, leaving behind flotsam and jetsam. Apply that to adrenalin – of which I needed loads just to even get up in the morning. When it should have withdrawn (ie after I stopped doing whatever I was doing) it didn’t. Or if it did, it left behind chemical flotsam and jetsam that I had to clamber over,  hobble around, negotiate for days on end.

For me that flotsam included leg pain, lack of concentration, a complete inability to structure thought processes, a constant ‘pins and needles’ feeling in my face  like I was having a bath in dandelion and burdock. I rarely crossed a road or drove a car for three months because I couldn’t work out how.

I couldn’t remember words  when talking to people.  Or I’d use the wrong words. Luckily my t’other half adjusted to my strange Stanley Unwin CFS-speak. (Google him …. I am nearly 50 you know.) T’other half has got so good at it he’s going to publish a CFS Dixie Mary. Oh, sorry. Dictionary.

So 50 things to celebrate my 50th birthday went the way of most of my plans for this year. I had as much chance of succeeding as Owen Coyle has of organising a Festival of Fun  in Burnley town centre.

But I’m on the up … sort of. Touch wood. Or perhaps torch bloody wood.

So. Along came firewalking for a cancer charity.

I’ll do that I thought. I’ll do that for my 50th, for charity, for fun, to put a marker down that I’ve turned a corner without bumping into anything on the way.

But I’m also doing it for everyone whose lives have been blighted by the horrid disease which is cancer. I have family and workmates who are being treated, or who have come through the treatment and are feeling positive again.

But more than anything I’m doing it as a 50th birthday present to a very dear friend who  lost his life last year because of cancer. A friend, about six weeks older than me, who I really miss. While I was struggling to string a sentence together, he was fighting for his life.

A much-missed friend

I’m still around to celebrate being 50, he isn’t; although we sometimes joked about being old fogeys and remembering the 70s and punk music. Today I’d say Gareth, do you know that 30 years ago Message in a Bottle was Number 1? And we might laugh as it feels like yesterday.

But cancer took him away and to mark his 50th, and mine, it would be great if I could help raise only a little bit of money to fund cancer research. So that someone else, if not Gareth, will have the chance to be teased on their 50th birthday about their taste in music and the punk trousers they once wore; or even be given the chance to see their soon-to-be-born first grandchild.

As a birthday present I once gave Gareth a box of scotch bonnet chillis. Tonight I’ll be giving him some hot, hot coals. I hope he appreciates the theme.

Twitter and Burnley FC have alot to answer for

If you’re reading this you may have found me through Twitter.

If you didn’t, then how the hell did you? Answers on a postcard please …

So who am I, why am I here, if claretsgirl falls in a forest and there’s no-one there to hear does she make a noise.

Most likely ‘Yes’. Because I’m very clumsy. That, my friends, is the first uninteresting fact I am going to share with you about me.

The second is the reason this blog is called claretsgirl. One; I am not claret (though I go a little flushed after one too many) and two; I am definitely not a girl (I was once, I might add, just in case you are doubting my sexuality).

No. In fact the avatar ‘claretsgirl’ came about because I am a Burnley fan, and last summer when we were promoted to the Premiership at Wembley I was as giddy as a kipper. Have you ever seen a grown kipper cry? Well .. I was so excited and enthused that  I decided to start a Twitter account to prepare for a bit of angst-sharing along the way.

I ‘virtually’ met other clarets fans, and between us we are collectively known as twitterclarets. Angst is now most definitely shared. Quite often.

But that aside, discovering Twitter rekindled my love of words; a quirky quip or two between complete strangers about which Beatles song sounds like a fruit and there you have it. Fulfilment on an average at-home Friday night. (If you don’t do Twitter then to clarify…. Yes. It is total bollocks).

To the point then.

I’m writing a blog because I want to share my reflective ramblings at a pivotal time of my life. Pivotal because I’m 50 this year.

Shit. I’ll say it again. I’m 50 this year.

When I was 21 I thought people who were 50 were sad, chunky, crinkly and didn’t like decent music. I must have had fantastic visionary skills in those days as all are now true. Apart, maybe, from the crinkly bit. I’ve escaped that. People think I’m younger which is nice. Keep it up, I say.

So half a century old. In November. (The 7th if you want to send a card and some flowers, but I’ll remind you nearer the time.)

At the back end of last year I had great plans for this year. I wanted to do 50 things to mark my birthday and blog about them. Erm …. well, that kind of fell by the wayside. One of the reasons being that I was diagnosed with a bugger of an  illness which wiped me out for the good part of at least a year. More on that another time.

Hey-ho. It’s now July 2010, I’m 50 in just over three months, but here I am at last. My first blog post. I hope it’s up to the mark, whoever he may be.

So instead of doing 50 things and blogging about them,  I’ll share 50 facts with you about me. That should get us on a friendly footing I reckon.

I wouldn’t be so mean as to do 50 at once .. so here’s a starter for 10.

The first 10 facts about claretsgirl

1. I am not really claret-coloured (see above)

2. I quite like drinking it though

3. I am not a girl (see above)

4. I am getting on a bit (see above)

5. I support Burnley FC. This is me being as giddy as a kipper moments after we were promoted to the Premiership {a) I am giddy b) I don’t look like a kipper}

6) I am very clumsy (see above)

7) My daughter is clumsy too. (This year I will be exactly double her age. Emsiz {that’s Emma} will be 25 and mumsiz {that’s me} will be 50. Have I mentioned that? November 7th? Gift vouchers accepted)

8) I live in Liverpool. But I have also lived in county Durham, the county of Lancashire, the county of Hertfordshire and the county of Greater Manchester. The latter was a made up county in some 1974 admin-revolution, so I’ll change that to Bolton. And there I lived for 20 years.

9) My best friend when I was about 8 was called Lanky. Not a tall gangly girl, but a plank. Literally. I was heartbroken when someone snapped it in two.

10) I like words. Particularly ‘please’ and ‘thank-you’ and ‘I’ll have a pint’. Or even ‘I’ll have a pint please. Thank-you.’ Great when you can string them together like that.

But the bottom line is it’s a love of words that’s brought me here to my first blog. Words. And a drop of angst.

I’m blogging, at last. You can thank Twitter and Burnley FC for that.