The one where the wedding is only three months away and at this rate there’ll be no guests and my groom will be naked

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Almost two months have passed since I last wrote. Wedding plans are coming along nicely… Except that they are not and that last statement was a big fat porky pie. We’re in exactly the same position as we were back in May, apart from the fact that we’ve started to have conversations that end with “Yeah, we really should do something about that…” before we start watching the next episode of *insert generic box set title*.

Our next challenge is to get invitations sent out. This is taxing because it involves concentrated and continuous use of a pen, and a fancy pen at that. We’re not talking bog standard Bic, we’ve got the big guns out; italic nib, swanky case, ritzy ink. The Prince of pens.

Considering we live in a technological age, I don’t think I’ve properly used a pen since the millennium. God forbid someone even asks me to sign my name these days; I stare at them distastefully “Can’t I just press a button or something?”. Sadly, it turns out that Facebook event wedding invites are just not the done thing, so we’re going to have to start practicing our penmanship post haste.

In this mammoth game of ‘wedding planning’ that we are playing right now (less fun than Trivial Pursuit, I’ll be honest), Brad has one job. His job is to pick a suit, so that we can order more suits for the rest of the men in the wedding party. I tricked him into Marks and Spencer recently with the promise of Percy Pigs and encouraged him to look around at the suits whilst he was there. I received a similar response to the time I’d asked him to unblock the kitchen sink because it wasn’t draining and it smelled like a sweaty, farty gym. In fact I think he’d take smelly sink unblocking over suit shopping any day of the week.

In other news, my weight loss is continuing which has brought me both great joy and immense sadness.

On the plus side I can buy smaller clothes and fit into some of the clothes from my “Hmmm, it doesn’t strictly fit me now (circa 1997) but I’m sure I will lose weight soon so it would be wrong to return it to the store in exchange for replacement money” clothes drawer. So if you see me wandering around looking like some sort of ancient spice girl, you’ll understand why.

Weight loss negatives are that I have suffered a catastrophic bereavement; RIP boobs. You were so loved and gave so much joy to so many. Who knew that you were actually 50% cake?

I am also discovering how much more uncomfortable the world is without a bouncy layer of fat to protect you. There is a lump in my car seat, it’s always been there, I’ve never paid it much attention, suddenly it’s started impertinently digging into my arse. The fat soldier is no longer on duty to protect me from such rascals.

And now for my most significant achievement since my last post. It is one that I hardly dared dream about. It just goes to show that wishes can come true…. I am delighted to announce that I have gone down another setting on my Fitbit wrist band.

Screw the wedding, weight loss: Nailed it.

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The wanderer returns…

Ah, beloved reader. Have you missed me? I am sorry for my tardiness, life has been rather hectic since my last post.

I’ve turned from regular Josiejolene: cake eater, 9 to 5 worker, closet ‘Eastenders’ viewer, occasional blogger to Josiejolene 2.0 (The Bride-to-be edition): cake avoider, work out every damn day-er , closet ‘Don’t tell the bride’ viewer, never blogger.

Yes indeed, eight months ago Brad presented me with a sparkly ring, on a beautiful roof terrace in Gran Canaria. It was romantic and meaningful and made me weep in that girly way that creates involuntary and dramatic fluttering of at least one hand in front of the eyes.

He made me happy cry; where one looks radiant and filled with emotion, rather than that ugly, hiccup filled, crying that makes you sound like a set of bagpipes and causes rivers of snot to flow down your face.

So the boy did it, he changed the course of our lives; not least by creating such excitement that we drank most of the resort dry of alcohol resulting in the worst hangover known to man.

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Hangover inducing drinks

Day one of engaged life involved the two of us fighting for control of a Spanish hotel toilet in which to repeatedly be sick into. They don’t show you that in the movies.

We had a very slow recovery from quite probable alcohol poisoning. We spent the day lying in bed with a do not disturb sign on the hotel room door (and not in a good way), curtains pulled tightly closed to protect us from the bright sunshine which would surely burn painfully into our hungover heads whilst trying to keep down tiny sips of full fat Coke and watching Spanish telly, very quietly. I knew Brad was starting to feel better when he expressed considerable disappointment that ‘La Sexta’ (which is the name of a Spanish television channel meaning ‘The Sixth’) was “not what it sounds like”.

And so, once we were able to keep down more than just lukewarm cola flavoured beverages, we returned to Blighty and the wedding planning began in earnest. Of course by that I mean I started talking about wedding venues and colour schemes and Brad tried to work out if it was too late to suggest a quick trip to Gretna Green because talk of best men, bouquets and bridesmaids made his ears bleed.

We have managed to reach a compromise, I can talk to him about wedding plans in return for his full attention if I confiscate his mobile phone, lock him in the car and take him out for food.

I have fallen into the typical bride-to-be trap of wanting to lose at least 50lb before the big day so I’ll be talking to him about wedding plans and nibbling on a tiny child sized salad whilst he devours a massive steak and orders another beer. I have started to wonder if having secret thoughts of tipping beer over the head of your betrothed and poking him in the eye with one of your dull, tasteless salad carrots is usual in the circumstances.

The weight loss plan is going well, I am in constant pain and exceedingly grumpy from exercising every day and I have started to dream obsessively about cake so I have clearly achieved greatness.

I am also really, really sweaty. You know that saying “women glow, men perspire and horses sweat”? Well you can just go ahead and call me Red Rum.

The sweating has additional side effects, I’m currently trying to work out if looking like I’ve stolen my face from an acne riddled adolescent is better than having too big a bottom and don’t even get me started on trying to take off a sports bra when sweaty. Those bad boys stick to you like superglue and require almost industrial assistance to remove. I can’t tell you how many times Brad has been faced with me, panicked and red faced yelling at him to help me because the bra won’t budge any further and I’ve got one boob hanging out and one arm trapped over my head preventing me from completing the seemingly simple task of undressing myself.

I have lost weight. I’m not at the 50lb mark yet, but it’s all going in the right direction. Only a few weeks ago I had to adjust the wrist strap on my FitBit. Because that’s the dream for any bride-to-be. Skinny fucking wrists. My life has been plagued with the struggle of trying to buy plus size watches and elasticated bangles, so it’s marvellous that this hell is over.

Seriously? My wrists are getting smaller? I have enough bum for two people and I’ve done more burpees and squats in the past five months than quite possibly I’ve done in the entire 37 other years that I’ve been alive, and I’m rewarded with going down a wristband strap hole. I could have been eating cake!

So, in summary: Blogging hiatus caused by man with carrot related eye injury proposing to spotty girl with particularly tiny wrists.

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The scene of the crime

Round(ers) the bend

I woke up at 8am in a bit of a panic. “Psst. Brad! Is that rain I can hear?”

Brad murmured sleepily “It’ll be fine, go back to sleep.”

“BRADLEY! What happens if we have to play rounders in welly boots and macs?” Brad bundled the bed covers up around his ears in an attempt to block out the sound of my anxious weather analysis.

The rounders game was number 12 on list 34; ‘Arrange a big rounders game for a friend who keeps talking about it, but hasn’t got round to organising it’. And now the big day was here and it was bloody well raining.

Fortunately, the spell of rain was satisfyingly brief and insubstantial (not often I’d make that statement) and our game of rounders did not need to be hastily converted to a game of stuck in the mud instead.

We’d arranged to meet in a local park at lunchtime and for the first half hour, the sky continued to look rather mean and moody, but in true British summer style before long the clouds had moved and the sun put his hat back on.

We prepared for our rounders games in the most sensible and practical way possible; sitting around on blankets and stuffing ourselves full of food. A few cheeky little barbequed sausages followed by some of Krispy Kreme’s finest merchandise surely contain the relevant nutrients to enhance playing performance. The National Rounders Association would be proud.

The tasty barbeque aroma attracted a number of canine callers, one sassy little pup managing to get her chops around a number of sausages before running off proudly with her delicious ill-gotten gains.

Eventually, Rounders finally got underway. I divided the gang into two teams. Badly it would seem because my team somehow had two fewer players than the opposition. Counting is clearly not something I excel at. That said, my team did have a secret weapon, star fielder extraordinaire, but more about him later.

The rounders games were brilliant fun albeit not highly skilled and resulted in considerable more laughter than actual points scored. Tactics included picking small children up and running with them if they got in the way, using your head to stop the ball (I’m pretty certain this wasn’t a deliberate fielding strategy), missing out bases completely and obstructing the path of batters from the opposing team whilst they were attempting to run.

Many of us hadn’t played Rounders since our school days and it’s fair to say that at least 90% of us have not missed our rounder-playing vocation. Some of the more competitive players had brought studded football boots for grip. I had mocked this approach, particularly as one of the be-studded rascals was Brad. I sorely regretted my teasing when I skidded spectacularly onto my arse whilst fielding, allowing the opposition to get to fourth base “bet you wish you’d been wearing football boots now, don’t you darling?” shouted my smug beloved.

The highlight of the day and a very special mention has to go to Oscar, my friends Rob and Victoria’s springer spaniel, for literally being the best player on the field. The ball landed, Oscar got hold of it and turned into super dog, he ran like the wind. He couldn’t be challenged, he couldn’t be stopped and our team got a great big beautiful rounder out of it.

I haven’t enjoyed a day out as much in a very long time and I’m definitely going to try and make it an annual event; well, as long as Oscar’s on my team that is.

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The team that didn’t quite win

The team that did

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Oscar: Star player!

D. I. Cry

IMG_1860Recently I had to go into Wickes* as I had essential ironmongery requirements and I was reminded of how much DIY shops torment me.

*other hardware retailers are available

1) Dirty, dirty, dirty; why do these shops have to be so grubby? There’s always bits of sand on the floor and odd black marks all over the place and it reeks of WD40 and manliness.

2) Hazardous equipment; every so often there’s a tannoy announcement telling me to watch out for a forklift truck. A forklift truck! Who wants to shop whilst also trying to avoid industrial vehicles? Chuck in a couple of diving turtles and you’ve got yourself a real life game of Frogger.

3) It’s full of measurements; 110mm this and 305mm that. Is your garage door 2134mm or 2286mm high? Should I get a 15″ pick or a 33″ pick? Too. Many. Numbers.

4) I don’t speak hardware; I need a translator when I go shopping – composite, lagging, caulk, threshold, canopy, maserator, mattock, intumescent. It’s like another language. A DIY shop assistant can strike fear into your heart with the words “Do you want that in polished nickel, satin nickel, polished brass or brass plated.” to which the response is usually something along the lines of “Erm…. can I call my dad / husband / boyfriend / brother / neighbour / any other man in my life who might have a clue?”

5) Even the soap sounds adventurous; Can I buy some swarfega please? *growls in a rugged and masculine way*

6) Too much choice; There are over 60 different types of radiator. Who knew? And you can’t just go and buy nails you have more choice than pocket money day at Woolies pick and mix counter. There are clout nails, square twist nails, annualar ringshank nails (is it just me that thinks this one sounds like some sort of kinky item found in a ‘Private shop’?), round wire nails, green phosphated exterior nails…..

I JUST WANT TO BUY A NAIL. WHY IS IT SO COMPLICATED?

Tea for seven and seven for tea

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(or seven fall into a sugar induced coma)

I am very excited to report that I have been somewhere lovely for afternoon tea, thus achieving the first challenge on List 34.

I found some friends who could attend, a venue and a menu (mid sentence rhyming, how super) that was slightly out of the ordinary. Why have PG Tips and a scone when you can have apple pie tea, meringue carrots and edible chocolate cups? At the Sanderson Hotel in the West end of London, you can have a mad hatter of an afternoon tea fit for a March hare, a dormouse and even Alice.

The hotel is rather fancy, five star don’t you know, but this is probably a good thing, otherwise I suspect at least one of our party would have insisted on us channelling our inner Lewis Carroll outfit wise and we’d have been in fancy dress wandering around the West end shouting “Off with their heads” and “You’re entirely bonkers”.

Afternoon tea itself was very creative; drink me potions in delightful little bottles (so delightful that I suspect one of our party stole one… shhhh…don’t tell anyone), cakes shaped like clocks and fizzy popping candy making a curiouser and curiouser appearance when least expected, Heston Blumenthal style.

The savoury selection was also yummy, multi-coloured triangle sandwiches nestled alongside teeny homemade quiches. Although as tasty as the cucumber and chive cream cheese on spinach bread was, I couldn’t shake the feeling that eating bright green bread was wrong on a ‘is this loaf radioactive?’ level.

There were some delicious mini savoury scones, unfortunately these were placed rather too near to the delicious mini sweet scones and some idiot got them confused.*

*possibly me

I can however confirm that cheese scones with strawberry jam and coconut scones with herb butter both make for unusual but not entirely unpleasant taste sensations.

Two hours later and we were all full to bursting and about one piece of rainbow coloured white chocolate or strawberry and cream flavoured mushroom away from type two diabetes. Alice may have thought it was the silliest tea party she ever went to. I prefer the Mad Hatter’s approach “it’s always tea time”.

Weekend Glass of Whine: Car Signs

IMG_0321Welcome to a new feature on my site:

Weekend glass of whine

It had a working title of ‘Things that piss me off’ which was less witty but certainly edged it on the accurate description front.

I decided to allow myself an opportunity to let off a bit of steam about pesky things that have been getting me in a bother over the past seven days…

A few days ago, I was driving along the road, minding my own business, when I pulled up to a roundabout and stopped behind a people carrier. There was nothing unusual about this. I was in a good mood, the sun was shining, I was feeling pretty chipper.

Suddenly I was confronted with a bright yellow sign dangling across the rear windscreen of the people carrier in front. “GRANDCHILD ON BOARD” it shouted at me in big black letters.

‘Oh my goodness’ I thought to myself, thank heaven for that sign. Had I not known that the vehicle in front was carrying small children, I would have just smashed right into it. I wouldn’t have bothered slowing down, applying the breaks or driving sensibly. I’d have crashed into that bad boy, bumper car style, before driving off like the ruffian that I truly am.

I understand that transporting small children in a car can be scary. I have driven my niece and friends children and I drive like my car is made of porcelain and filled with eggs, snow flakes, crystal glasses and butterfly wings. No-one wants to have to return children to their parents in more than one piece.

It’s just that the signs annoy me so much. I mean we don’t clothe babies in outfits that read ‘hold my head’ and ‘don’t drop me’ or buy cheeky little toddler dresses from Next with ‘If you pinch me I’ll cry’ slogans. I don’t have signs on my front door saying ‘Man lives here, please don’t nick the PlayStation’.

Plus, the sign could easily be misleading. I’m 36 years old and I have two living Grandmas so technically there could be a ‘Grandchild on board’ sign in my car.

Maybe I’ll go into the car signage market? Get one made up that says ‘I don’t have any children, or grandchildren but I’m quite nice and smiley. I’d rather you didn’t collide with my car if you don’t mind, it would be terribly inconvenient as I use it to travel for work. Thanks awfully.’de9182044cdcd519484cdeb1acdfbaa2

 

Where there’s a will

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Seven months ago I launched List 34; a list of 34 things that I would like to achieve before I turn 40 in ten three and a half years time.

With 34 missions and a four year timeframe, we don’t need Carol Voderman’s big mathematical brain to calculate that I need to be moving full steam ahead to complete the list in a timely manner.

So I’m very excited to share all of the marvellous things I have accomplished so far.

Here goes:

*dramatic drum roll noise to build suspense*

Achievements:

*longer than necessary pause like the ones on Strictly Come Dancing or the X-Factor that happen before the winner is announced*

I am the very proud owner of one ‘Last Will and Testament’

End of list

There we have it; seven months, one deed. I am ashamed. Not because there are so many other things left to do, that’s good, it gives me something to look forward to. My sense of disappointment is great because of how utterly, utterly boring this accomplishment is. Important, yes. Necessary, yes. Rock and roll? No.

I have not watched a sunset in a beautiful location (No 4) written a novel (No 6) or built an igloo (No 11), my life has been devoid of helicopters (No 19), treasure hunts (No 18) and charitable undertakings (No 28). What have I been doing with my time?

I have downloaded ‘The Great Gatsby’ (No 22) to my kindle but I haven’t read it and my savings account is not currently empty (No 32), 45p counts right?

I suppose what I have done is the bucket list equivalent of eating my green beans first (why must they squeak so?) and saving my potatoes until last (carbs are my friend). I’ve got the will out of the way and I’m heading face first into afternoon tea (No 1). Figuratively not literally, no-one wants a quiche face pack or scone exfoliator. I’m going to bust open Breaking Bad (No 14) and add to that 45p. Bring on New York (No 34).

***

If you would like to read my tribute to Kate, you can find it here

List 34 in full.

Ooh la la

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Anyone who knows me, in fact, you don’t even need to have known me, anyone who had any contact with me, no matter how small, during the past few weeks will know that I went to Paris last week. Seriously, the fact that I was going to Paris is genuinely recorded in the notes of a grievance hearing.

So great was my excitement about my forthcoming trip that my Facebook status on Monday looked like this:

“ParisParisParisParisParisParisParisParisParisParisParisParisParisParisParisParisParisParisParis”

despite this over-sharing on social networking providing an excellent opportunity for my friendly neighbourhood burglar.

But who cares about someone robbing the telly when you’re going on a city break? Anyway, I live with a man. Everyone knows that men amass televisions the way women covet cushions. Televisions for every room with screen sizes to rival Odeon, so had the goggle box been nicked, we would have been alright, we’ve got some king-size spares lying around.

Our Parisian adventure began with a trip on the Eurostar accompanied by coffee and a pain au chocolat courtesy of a lovely little French style patisserie Costa.

After boarding the magical international train, we somehow managed to offend the passenger sitting opposite us; an old lady who appeared outraged that we dare sit in our assigned seats and share the same carriage space with her. About five minutes into the journey, she stood up, picked up her luggage and vanished, never to return. I think perhaps we overdid the Fox’s Glacier Fruits.

The Eurostar journey is pretty straightforward and to my surprise, because I hadn’t really given it much consideration, the time in the tunnel is very short. It’s only about twenty minutes. When we emerged from the tunnel into the decidedly grey skies of France (easily confused for English skies) and Brad said ‘Hooray, we’re in France’ I gave him a withering look and said scathingly “Don’t be so ridiculous”. Excessive provision of Fox’s Glacier Fruits aside, I am an absolute joy and delight to travel with.

We arrived in one piece at Paris Gare Du Nord and successfully negotiated the Metro to reach our hotel. The Metro is exactly the same as travelling on the Tube apart from the announcements. It’s much nicer to hear a softly spoken, twinkly voiced French lady telling you that you are just arriving at Champs-Élysées Clemenceau than a sweaty man in a high visibility jacket named Bob angrily yelling at you to “LET THE PASSENGERS OFF THE TRAIN, FIRST” or having to get the Docklands Light Railway to a station called Mudchute.

Everything just sounds nicer with a French accent, even my own name. When the hotel receptionist said “Here is your key Zhjolyn”, I wondered why I’d been pronouncing it incorrectly for 36 years.

Hotel positives were that it was clean, quiet and friendly. Negatives were that the lift visibly dropped about three inches every time anyone stepped into it and there was a very threatening message on reception which warned that food must not be eaten in any of the rooms for “hygiene reasons”, this is despite the fact that they offered a room service food menu. Were you supposed to eat in the hallway? Who knows? Plus, I can think of a number of other less hygienic things that people may do in hotel rooms, particularly in the Montmatre district of Paris.

Our first day of sightseeing involved the Arc de Triomphe. As we headed towards it from the Avenue de Wagram, or Avenue de Wigwam as I preferred to refer to it, I was decidedly underwhelmed. “Look, it’s at the top of the road” Brad exclaimed. “Is that it? It’s not as big as I thought” I replied with not a hint of double entendre. Turns out I was looking at it from the side.

When I finally viewed it face on, it was indeed as big as I had imagined and quite staggering. Not least because of the ten terrifying lanes of traffic surrounding it; you can admire the majestic structure honouring those who fought during the Napoleonic wars and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from the First World War whilst carbon monoxide fumes engulf you.

We took in some culture with a visit to the Musee D’Orsay, although I counteracted this by childishly taking a picture of the Rhinoceros sculpture by Alfred Jacquemart, which is situated outside the museum, just because Mr Rhino had large testicles.

We saw the Moulin Rouge where a French man pinched my bum and Brad was offered “the best pussy in Paris” which I’m pretty certain was fille de joie and not feline.

We visited the breathtaking and spiritual Notre Dame and climbed the 300 steps to marvel over the views across Paris from the Sacré-Cœur. Then we sat down for quite a while, relieved that we’d made it to the top without dying.

We drank, considerably. We walked, considerably and we spoke some considerably pigeon French. “Parlez-vous Anglais?” Being a popular phrase.

Of course, no trip to Paris would be complete without seeing the Eiffel Tower. It’s an amazing landmark and quite magnificent. Although maybe I shouldn’t admit this but it does remind me somewhat of an electricity pylon, a beautiful pylon but a pylon nevertheless. That said, when it is lit up at night, even the most cynical of visitors could not fail to be entranced and captivated by the charming grand iron lady of Paris. I know I was.

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“Paris is always a good idea” – Audrey Hepburn

Santa Claus is coming to town

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Christmas comes but once a year, but bloody hell these years are getting shorter. It feels like I only took down last year’s Christmas tree 49 minutes ago.

I enjoy Christmas, but I’m not obsessive about it. I never put my tree up until at least the second weekend in December and I refuse to eat mince pies in November. If I’ve ever inadvertently consumed what appeared to be a mince pie before the twelth month, it most certainly will have actually been an Eccles cake.

My favourite part of Christmas is the food and drink spending time with family and friends and being grateful for the joy they bring to my life .

Sausages wrapped in bacon? Jeez Louise, it’s a porktastic pleasure (easy tiger) for a confirmed carnivore like me. Everything else is wrapped in pastry. Jus-Rol’s* profits must increase by 1200% in December.

*other pastry manufacturers are available.

At Christmas, you get to drink Bucks Fizz and Baileys, Snowballs and Eggnog. Christmas drinks must have maximum viscosity. If it can almost be eaten with a spoon, it fulfils the Yuletide beverage criteria.

I enjoy the fact that everything is a bit special and unusual at Christmas. On any other day of the year, if I walked into my mothers house at 9am, swigged down a glass of alcohol and helped myself to a handful of quality street she’d be simultaneously phoning Alcoholics Anonymous whilst googling “if my daughter eats chocolate for breakfast will she develop diabetes?” And yet at Christmas it’s magically okay. She’s force feeding me faster than you can say seasons greetings.

I love a pantomime, the annual tale of a boy who is actually a girl, who meets a girl who really is a girl but whose widowed mother is a man in a dress. Sounds like a typical Saturday night in Brighton.

I like the audience participation; the hissing and booing, the “Oh no he isn’t, oh yes he is” and “he’s behind you”. Yep, still sounds like a Saturday night in Brighton.

Here’s a question for you. What do you get if you cross Santa with a duck? A Christmas quacker! There’s a bonus Christmas cracker joke for you. Who doesn’t need to pull on the end of a toilet roll tube filled with highly unstable silver fulminate causing a small explosion in order to be rewarded with a tissue paper crown that your Nan always manages to put on upside down and a bright yellow plastic comb or a fortune telling fish?

Cheesy Christmas music is one of the signs that Christmas has arrived. Not when it starts playing in supermarkets though, because they’re wishing it could be Christmas everyday and mistletoe and wining it from early September. I mean Christmas songs on the radio. When Shane MacGowan and Kirsty McColl start to trade insults, you know the season of glad tidings has arrived. Nothing says Christmas like a good old fashioned slanging match. You’re a bum, you’re a punk, you’re an old slut on junk, you scumbag, you maggot, you cheap lousy faggot…. Ahhh good times.

The Meeting Commandments

IMG_8368From AGMs to workshops, briefings to seminars, no workplace is complete without a multitude of meetings. Ladies and gentlemen, I present “The meeting commandments”

1) Desire to consume digestive biscuits is directly proportionate to the length of the meeting; 9.00am: Who would eat a digestive? It’s the worst biscuit known to man. It tastes like sawdust. I’d rather lick the carpet. 11.30am: Is it just me or do those digestives smell tasty? Have they changed the recipe? 2.00pm: Where are those digestives? I’m so hungry, I have to have one right now. Oh my gosh, tasty brown wheaty goodness you are the best thing I’ve ever eaten.

2) When you are asked a question, it will not relate to anything discussed in the 4 hours, 59 minutes and 35.5 seconds when you were actually paying attention. It will instead relate to something discussed during the 24.5 seconds that you spent thinking about who your favourite Strictly dancer is/what you’re going to have for dinner tonight/why someone decided to fill the office biscuit tin with digestives/where you can buy red shoes to match your party frock/when the meeting might end (delete as appropriate).

3) PowerPoint has magical time bending qualities.  One real life minute is equivalent to seven minutes in PowerPoint land.

4) There will, without doubt, be a debate about the temperature of the meeting room. In the blue corner will be the chilly clique, all wrapped up in outside coats and scarves and yet still shivering. In the red corner will be team tropical; scarlet and sweating, they’re either feverish, overweight, menopausal or  sitting next to the closed window being blasted with magnified sunlight.

5) Yawning etiquitte. Do you a) Unashamably go for it. Open wide like you’re sitting in the dentist chair flashing your tonsils like a badge of honour. b) Become the master of disguise and sneakily transform your yawn into a fake cough or sneeze. c) Fight the yawn, clamp your mouth closed, hope that the yawn does not try to escape out of your nostrils or ears and try not to look too much like you’re sucking a lemon.

6) It is scientifically impossible to write on flip chart paper in a straight line.

7) Video conferencing brings a whole new raft of challenges, not least that if someone in the video conference rustles their papers within 10 feet of the microphone in a meeting room in London, it will produce a racket measuring 3.9 on the Richter scale in a meeting room in Scotland.

8) Getting the giggles in a meeting is bad form, however, being stuck in a tiny room for hours on end, deprived of oxygen and forced to consume digestives can sometimes cause spontaneous irrational laughter which can be difficult to contain.

9) If you are taking a conference call on hands free whilst driving and you are not actively involved in the discussion at the time, please remember to mute your phone. No-one wants to hear you chomping on your travel sweets or agressively referring to another motorist as a bloody bellend in a BMW.

10) If you are going to invite me to a meeting; ensure that digestive biscuits are not on the agenda.