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Monday, October 25, 2010

Easy chilli chocolate cake

200 grams of dark chocolate.

or 100g dark, 100g milk for a sweeter flavour

SAVING: You can get huge bars of lovely chocolate from Lidl for less than £1 that can make two cakes. Also, Sainsbury's basics offer 100g bars of dark and milk chocolate for about 30p each. Bargain!

150g of slightly salted butter

Melt the two above ingredients in the microwave or in a saucepan if you live in the Dark Ages.

When slightly cooled, stir in 5 eggs, individually. Stir well after each addition.

When even cooler, add a tiny pinch of chilli powder and one Tablespoon (yes, only one tablespoon) of plain flour

Stir, pour into a floured dish about 22cm in diameter, cook on gas mark 4 for about 20 mins and take it out when the sides are slightly spongy but the middle is a little wobbly (not runny, but wobbles).

Leave for 24 hours to set in a fridge, or for as long as you can without being tempted to dive in with a spoon.

Decorate with crumbled fudge pieces if you like or whatnot.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What is shampoo used for nowadays?

I'm gonna wash that man right out of my hair

Has anyone noticed a trend among shampoo manufacturers, whereby their product now claims to do everything except the primary function of shampoo - namely, to clean your hair?

Read the blurb on your bottles of shampoo and see if I'm wrong. You never see any shampoo bottle purporting to leave your hair clean. No bottles seem to think that such a use is worthy of note, despite it being the only reason that we wash our hair.

No, nowadays, shampoo seems to be marketed as if it is designed to do everything else:

'Leaves hair smooth and silky' (so the fleas can't cling on?)

'Hydrates thirsty hair' (since when can 'dead' protein growth be thirsty?)

'Makes hair luscious and thick' (like ice-cream)

'Leaves hair glossy and manageable' (I've given up with the sarky comments)

'For that nourished effect'

'Leaves hair swishy and smelling great'

Yes yes yes, all these things are nice side-effects but what I really, really want is to get a nice clean feeling after a sweaty night where the cat has been sleeping with his butt on my head. I. Just. Want. Shampoo. That. Cleans. Hair. Can you do that for me, huh, mr Shampoo Producer?

'Removes all trace of cat-butt'

That will be the day.

That will be the day.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Of dead barn owls and dodgy correspondence

Not in my Freezer

I think I promised you all a story about a Dead Barn Owl and a passive agressive note.

Today's events have reminded me that this is owed to you. Today's events being of course an email sent by one person sitting near a printer on one floor of the 6-storey office, emailing the entire UK operation of our company and saying:
'Some personal correspondence has printed to this printer. Please let me know who you are and come and claim it'.

Which, if you are going to send to EVERYONE in the company, must of course ellicit a spate of ridiculous emails, one of which was sent by me:

'Dear XXXX' Thank you for your email. Is that my medication form? If so, please will you remove the details about the pills I take. My boss does not know I am on medication for serial obsessive disorder.'

'Dear XXXX. Is that the fake passport I was trying to print?'

'Damn! If it's the picture of the naked dog, that is my cat's. Sorry, he has an addiction.'

'Leave that photo of my wife alone please.'

Poor boy.

But he's not as overtly passive-aggressive-obsessive as that OCD fellow in one department of our firm, who five years ago decided to email everyone in the global company - more than 15,000 people - with the following:

'Dear White KitKat thief. I know who you are because someone saw you steal my white KitKat from the fridge. Please come and admit it to me.'

I could not resist the urge to REPLY TO ALL...

'Dear XXXX. I am sorry to hear about your KitKat. I had the same trouble last week. I put a dead barn owl in the fridge and when I came back the next day, it was gone. I saw some feathers around someone's desk, and I know who it is, but they have not apologised or replaced the barn owl.'

Immediately you heard a storm of laughter ripple across the office and then the emails started coming in.

'Dear Mermaid

I am so sorry for eating your barn owl. I was trying to resist but it looked so nice.' (this was from our CEO)

'Dear Mermaid

I had the same experience with a horse. When will this thievery ever stop?'

...and so forth...

Eventually, IT had to send out an anodyne email to all, requesting people not to send aggressive emails about chocolate bars and asking that people do not reply all.

Seconds after that email came in, the head of IT rang me.

"That email was not referring to you. We are killing ourselves laughing about the barn owl. Best email we've ever seen and the man deserved it."

I had forgotten about the incident until I returned to my firm, 3.5 years after leaving it.

From the chap in the post room, through to the sales guys and even the CEO, everyone remembered the dead barn owl and said it was one of their fondest memories of me.

I am still not sure whether that is entirely complimentary, but at least I can stash my roadkill in the fridges here without people stealing them again.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

So... the stalker has been stalked

Old viewers of my blog will have fond memories of my stalkingJeremy Paxman, Gary Oldman and that most wonderfully Byrnian-nosed Alan Rickman.

Snape in a Cape. My hero.

While that was all fun and no real harm came of that, apart from the time I broke into Paxo's North London house and shaved his cat - how we can laugh about it now! - it now seems that the Mermaid has herself been stalked.

Has been stalked? I meant, is being stalked. You see, a string of failed relationships saw Mermins take to the interwebs in order to find herself a suitable mer-man. And by suitable, she means one that stays. And by stays, she means one that a) puts up with her referring to herself in the third person and b) one that she wants to stay.

Anyway, reluctantly after my last relationship ended, I decided a) to stop referring to myself in the third person and b) get back on the sea-horse as it were. So I agreed to go on a date with some dude I'd been facebook friends with but had not had any contact with prior to one phone call arranging a 'date'.

BZZZZT! Wrong move, Mermaid!

From date one, the guy was telling me that he'd fallen in love with me and wanted to marry me. While this was of course very flattering, and I made allowances for the fact that he was American Italian - therefore pushy and passionate - I did not quite recognise all the signs of possessiveness, and so I took all his declarations with a sense of humour and went along with it.

Second date showed some weird traits. While again professing his love for me in a restaurant, he started talking about marriage. Our Marriage. In the SPRING. As a joke, I said: 'You've not even told your mum you're getting married and already you're planning the wedding?'

A few seconds later I went to the ladies' loo and while washing my hands, the door to the toilet swung open and shut. He was right outside, pushing the door.

"What are you doing?" I said, creeped out.

"I was hurt by you rebuffing my love for you" he said, explaining (explaining? Weirdo) that my comment about his mum had hurt him.

Now I know that you will all be saying Mermins, run for the hills. But you see I'd just come out of a relationship with a man I was wildly in love with. Suddenly having some guy for the FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE actually tell me he loved me was overwhelming. I could not get my mind in gear.

So I agreed to a third date. On this date, he was perfectly normal. So I put aside that growing feeling in my gut - exacerbated by about 10 texts and 6 phone calls each day from him - that I should head for the hills and run, preferably armed with a machete.

On the fourth date, when I went to his (shared) house and stayed overnight for church, the first thing he did was start shouting because I still had a photo of my ex on my facebook. He made me delete it, then immediately took a picture 'of us' for his facebook page.

I told him then that I was going to get up and get out but he apologised profusely and stupidly I stayed over (don't worry folks, I had the stubbornness to refuse to share his bed and stayed on an air mattress). During this time, he referred to his housemates as 'demons', lost his temper, ignored everything I said and generally annoyed me.

I didnt speak with him until Tuesday, during which conversation I explained that I wanted space and that he was being too intense. He agreed to back off.

Weds he explained that he was being intense because of things I was doing and, in some cases, I accepted a couple of his points and apologised.

Thursday we met up and I explained that I didn't want to go out with him unless he took it right back to square one and gave me my space. He agreed but actually didn't hear anything I said, because on Friday, he rang me to squeal about how I was taking a youth group at my church that evening and hadn't invited him, then how I had arranged to meet my best friend to take her to dinner to congratulate her on her engagement. As this was the first time I'd seen her since she got engaged in August, I wanted it to be just her me and her fiance.

Well he kicked up such a psychotic emotional blackmail rant about this that I dumped him - by phone.

But would he accept that? No! I had to spend more than an hour going round in circles on the phone while he insisted on meeting up with me the next day for a picnic! I had to get my friend to listen into the call so I could have some back-up!

Saturday he peppered me with texts because I'd removed him from facebook and cleaned my entire friends list (was worried that he'd try to send abusive messages to my ex, with whom I am still friends and who is looking more and more like Prince Charming next to this fruitloop).

Sunday he apologised for all of them and asked me if I was prepared not to be selfish and spend an hour with him to say goodbye!

Sunday evening he told me he still loved me and did I want a second chance before he started dating other victims - I mean, girls.

I ignored.

Monday he asks me if I want a massage and some soup. Again, I ignored his texts.

You may ask why I don't block his number. the reason is I want to keep tabs on this guy and have proof of his weirdness.

But if he does try anything, I intend to post the following letter to him:

"Dear Stalker

You are getting this letter because evidently you find it hard to accept the word NO.

I'm not sure what part of the word 'No' you don't understand. Is it the NNNNNN or is it the OOOOOOOOH?

Whatever it is, you are an absolute fruit-loop. What sort of baptism of the Spirit did you have? Was it 110% proof Vodka? Because it sure as hell wasn't anything like the Christian spirit of tenderness, gentleness, respect etc that we are supposed to show.

In fact, it's not even common sanity. Never in my life have I met anyone with such terrible emotional mental behaviour as you, outside of people who actually have diagnosed mental illnesses. And it's excusable in their cases.

You're probably still keeping your mother's umbilical cord in a jar somewhere in your room. Do you dress up as her at night? Because, Mr Whackjob Bates, you seriously have some issues to work out.

You accused me of having issues because I didn't allow myself to love you. Matey, that was not an issue, that was self-preservation. In addition to this, my friend Clare made me open my Christmas present early - it was a knife block - just in case you happened to wait outside my house, although because you are so wrapped up in your own pathetic gonad-driven self you paid so little attention to where I lived that you probably would end up in Scotland.

You also think that we have stuff in common so therefore we must get married. After two weeks of knowing each other you are so sure I'm the woman for you? Listen you gimp-sniffing freak-eyed loon, just because we like the same things does not mean I am your soul-mate.

For example, I love dogs, art and men in uniform, but I would not marry Hitler.

Because of your utter failure to realise that you have serious self-esteem issues, low social awareness, possible Aspergers and definitely some creepy, sperm-led emotional weakness that you think is love but which is just a sign that your corrupted little demonic spermatosa need to spawn the child of Satan in some human female and usher in the Apocalypse, you really are never never never never never never never never never never (etc) going to become my husband.

I would rather suck the toes of a flea-ridden tramp than kiss you. I would rather smear my face in the supporating puss-filled udder of a four-day-dead Mongolian Yak killed by an outbreak of the Bubonic Plague than ever, ever, ever see you again this side of Eternity.

And let me also get this straight: on the other side of eternity, there is an everlasting restraining order put upon you.

I'd say 'so bite me' but as you're too thick to realise that I am being rude to you and you'd take that as an invitation to partake of our enduring love, I won't. I will merely say that I am keeping my new knife set very, very sharp. And on me."

At least he loves me