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Schmutzie

Schmutzie

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Reviews written

since 30/11/-0001

126

Member advice on Internet Abuse 24/10/2003

Putting a Stop to Abuse.

Member advice on Internet Abuse I joined Ciao just over a year ago. My first impression, and this is probably true for all new members, was of a very friendly community. Unhappily, the longer one is a member, the more one realises that this obtains only in a very limited way. A very much larger community is, of course, the World Wide Web, and as in any society the potential for abuse is almost limitless. You can install fireguards and antivirus programs, banish spam and popups, screen for unsuitable material if you have children. What it's almost impossible to do is to protect yourself against insult, innuendo and libel. Heaven knows I'm not alone in being the target for this. I do not intend to name names or even hint at names. That would be to be abusive in my turn. I hope only to give people some idea of ways they may try to deal with it, for though there's lots of guidance about how to tackle most Internet abuse there's very little on this aspect of it, and I make no apology for this opinion being somewhat slanted. The spectrum of possibilities for action is a wide one. At one end, you can ignore it. At the other, you can take positive and completely legal action. But before we discuss that, let me say that I am absolutely convinced that responding to abusers in GBs, private emails or in chatrooms and on message boards is childish, undignified and less than useful. If you have ever done so, ask yourself what it achieved, and I'll be very surprised if it had any positive result. The purpose of ...

Member Advice on Back Pain 07/09/2003

Getting My Own Back.

Member Advice on Back Pain As I described in a recent opinion, sciatica is a hideously painful condition. After fourteen weeks of pain, which ranged from discomfort to sheer agony, I had more or less recovered, apart from a few twinges when I first got up in the morning, and some numbness in my three smallest toes on my right foot. I realised I was not completely better and my fear was that the condition would worsen again. I decided last week to visit a chiropractor. I had often seen the clinic, as it’s next door to my dentist’s surgery, and had looked at it with interest but with no idea that I’d ever be going in there. To be honest, I tend to be very sceptical of anything that isn’t strictly conventional medicine, and I don’t entirely trust that. However, my doctor seemed to think that a chiropractor might be able to help me, and so did some of our members who commented on what I wrote, so I made an appointment. I could tell you now about the history of this treatment, and some of the theory behind it, but I feel it will be more useful to describe my personal experience, since I know that if you or someone in your circle is in horrendous pain it’s immediate practical help you need, not a lecture. When you make your appointment, have a good look at the premises. Is the waiting room and all its fittings clean and tidy ? If it isn’t, walk out. Hygiene in any place where you are going to receive physical treatment is a must, and I include hairdressing salons, body-piercing places, tattoo ...

Member Advice on Friendship 04/09/2003

Goodbye, Smitty.

Member Advice on Friendship Beatlemanic’s beautifully written and sensitive account of her special friendship has made me want to write about mine. Her name is Sheila Mary Thomas (formerly Smith), and I first met her at school when we were twelve years old. I have been looking for Smitty for many years. Our grammar school in Coventry has long since been swallowed up by a huge comprehensive school; an advertisement in the Coventry Evening Telegraph brought letters from two other girls I had known, but no Smitty. I wrote to Birmingham University, where she read French. Guessing that she would have gone into teaching I contacted the Ministry of Education. I put advertisements in women’s magazines. Nothing came of any of it. Then suddenly last year I had an email. Smitty had found me in about a minute flat on the Friends Reunited site. I cried with happiness. All these years I’ve been nursing a splendid fantasy. Just as in the old days, we’ll fill our backpacks and clear off abroad, hitching and bussing round Europe, two unconventional old girls who’ve hardly changed at all in all the years between. I remember so clearly how I first met her in my second year. My batty French teacher told me she wanted to teach me Latin, and I was to go to her form room after school. I was thrilled, as I had even then a passion for languages and knew I was good at them. I got to the form room, and there was a girl I’d never seen before, a new kid, pale, bespectacled, shy looking. She told me she was there to do ...

Member Advice on Sciatica 25/08/2003

A Very Unpleasant Condition.

Member  Advice on Sciatica When you hear yourself saying, "Just leave me alone, leave me alone," over and over again, and realise that you’re talking not to yourself or someone else but to pain, you’re in a bad way. But that is what sciatica can do to you. WHO GETS IT? Anyone of any age, thought it rarely strikes until your late teens, probably because bones are still not fully hardened. What it is not is an ailment of old or frail people. Anyone who’s a member of Ciao is as likely to get it as anyone else. It’s the condition which used to be called ‘slipped disc’, but that term is not used now as it’s misleading. WHAT CAUSES IT? The pain is caused by pressure in the spine on the sciatic nerve, which is the principal nerve of the lower body. This nerve is also the largest and passes from the pelvis to behind the hip joint, to the buttocks, to the back of the thigh and down the leg. Just above the knee it branches into two parts, which between them serve the lower leg. The pain itself may be brought on by constant poor posture or overenthusiastic exercise. Lack of mobility seems able to trigger it, too. But in most cases no cause at all can be found. HOW DOES IT START? The onset may be sudden, in which case it will be so unpleasant that you’ll almost certainly want to go to your doctor at once. That is what happened to me. I got out of bed one morning and yelled with pain as my right leg seemed suddenly to be on fire. My doctor thought it was a torn muscle, but as it got worse rather than ...

Everything that starts with G ... 23/08/2003

Gemma, the Queen of Eureka.

Everything that starts with G ... (The characters in this story are fictional, and no resemblance to any person is intended. The website Eureka is obviously loosely based on Ciao). (Later : I am astounded that some readers seem to think that I have someone in mind in this story. If there is anyone as monstrous, deluded and selfish as Gemma, then I'm happy to say she's never crossed my path. This is just a story.I hope my regular readers know me well enough to know that underhand malice is not my style). *************** ************* July 20th. I meant to log off well before Don came home, but he was a bit earlier than usual, and I didn’t hear him come in. I glanced up and saw him standing in the doorway of the spare room where I keep my computer, looking at me in a most disagreeable way. Why he’s so resentful about my little hobby I really don’t know. God knows there’s not much fun in my life living with him, and Toby’s a problem kid if ever there was one. "I see you’re wasting time on that damn thing again," he said. "I was just starting my Iceland online shop," I replied. But he knew I was lying. "And where’s Toby ?" His tone was getting nastier with every second. "Playing in his room, I expect. Look, he’s not a baby. I can’t keep an eye on him twenty four hours a day." "Just two or three would do for a start." Horrible, sarcastic sod. I wish I’d never got married; well, not to him, at any rate. I could have done much better for myself. Whatever did I see in him? He played hard to get, which ...

Tesco Honey Nut Cornflakes with Cranberries 21/08/2003

Snap, Crackle and.....Flop.

Tesco Honey Nut Cornflakes with Cranberries Dieticians tell us that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and that makes sense when you think how long it is since you’ve eaten. I never feel very hungry early on, but I know from experience that if I don’t eat something the munchies will kick in at around ten, and I’ll be tempted to snack. I invariably have cereal, either with fruit or a small glass of fruit juice. Tesco’s Honey and Nut with Cranberries cereal was not on my Tesco internet order, and I hadn’t seen it in the store. I had asked for Kellogg’s Special K with Red Berries, which I like very much, but it wasn’t available, so they had sent the Tesco product as a substitution. I fell for the packet at once, and told the delivery man I was happy to keep it. At £1.79 for 425g it was much cheaper than the Kellogg cereal, which is £2.39 for 375g. It is one of the most attractive packets I’ve seen, and really tempts you to sample what is inside. It’s a raspberry coloured box, and on the front is an appetising picture of a cascading mass of split almonds, cranberries, and cereal flakes. The flakes are either golden with honey or cream coloured with yoghurt. I was looking forward to tasting it so much that I decided to have some as a supper snack. One of my less charming habits, and one in which I think only those who are sleeping alone should indulge, is having something to eat in bed late at night.(Scratchy crumbs in the bed are a very effective anaphrodisiac. I know this from experience). The scene ...

Everything that starts with T ... 18/08/2003

Torr Consults Schmutzie

Everything that starts with T ... Torr Consults Schmutzie. (Torr and Schmutzie thought it would be fun to write something together, so we got permission to do so from the office. ) TORR ) My old jalopy’s blown a gasket now. At least it got me here to see this frau – This Doctor Schmutzie. Don’t know why they think That I would want to see a psycho-shrink. But she’s a woman - that’s enough for me, To female flowers I’m a honey-bee. I make a beeline for them, and excite Them with some honeyed words that hint delight. They all pretend they’re not at all impressed. "Sod off, old lech," they say (of course, in jest; The banter of flirtation, nothing worse, Feigning to send me packing with a curse. I know they’re only playing hard to get; Sooner or later I’ll beguile one yet.) How shall I woo this psychotherapist? (Thank god it’s morning and I’m not yet pissed.) Well first, of course, it’s best to make her jealous; With such a Freudian name she will be zealous In asking me about my love-life. Well, It might be fantasy but what the hell, I’ll drop a name or two (or three) and next – Because I know these shrinks are over-sexed – I’ll ask her about hers. Without a doubt, What happens next will be…………………….. ……………………………………… …..…..well, let’s find out. Time too to change my tune, for nothing clicks Better with women than sweet limericks. SCHMUTZIE) A poor shrink’s life, believe me, is no fun. Among the patients there is always one Quite different from the ordinary rut. In other ...

Prescription for Murder: The True Story of Harold Shipman - Brian Whittle, Jean Ritchie 07/08/2003

Just a Little Injection.....

Prescription for Murder: The True Story of Harold Shipman - Brian Whittle, Jean Ritchie (Warner Books, £6.99). "Death….. the anaesthetic from which none come (sic) round". Philip Larkin. "When a doctor does go wrong he is the first of criminals. He has nerve and he has knowledge." Conan Doyle, The Speckled Band. There are two main traps lying in wait for anyone who attempts to write a book about mass murder. The first is to sensationalise the facts, which will certainly lead to poor writing since the facts are usually quite sensational enough in themselves. Some books about the Moors Murders were guilty of this: we do not need the constant repetition of words like ‘evil’, or imaginary trips into the psyches of the murderers as they are committing their crimes. A cool, objective style is called for. The second trap is one which I can see may be tempting, and that is to try later to analyse the personality of the murderer(s) to find reasons for what was done. This is invariably a waste of time, since the writers are rarely qualified for the exercise, and in any case trying to find motives for people like Bradley, Hindley, Sutcliffe, Nielsen and Shipman usually defeats even the psychiatrists who examine them. This book avoids both traps. It is admirably detached, and yet plenty of material is provided to help us reach our own conclusions. I may say at once that I still have no idea at all why Shipman killed all those people. And I have no idea how to account for other strange things in his life. But reading about that life is deeply interesting. It’s a ...

Member Advice on Bullying 05/08/2003

Man's Inhumanity to Man.

Member Advice on Bullying Bullying is one of mankind’s beastlier traits; except, of course, that animals do not bully each other. In theory, at any rate, there are fairly clear-cut ways of dealing with it. Either you ignore it, or you go to the proper authorities. The latter course, especially in the case of bullying in schools, does not always work; but at least there is some sort of action one can take. I have recently heard of bullying so unpleasant, so unspeakably unfair, that it appalled me. And the worst of it is that I cannot see any remedy. The people who were bullied can do nothing about it. I was told the full story of this by ‘Tess’ recently, and she gave me permission to write about it here, provided that I change the names of all the people concerned, which I have done. I first noticed Tess a couple of years ago when I began to use the village bus service on a regular basis. It had come to a choice between continuing to run a car and having holidays, and it didn’t take me long to decide. The bus is for shopping in the nearest town, and is usually full of rather grumpy old country people on their one outing of the week. I tend to keep them at arms’ length as I dislike all the gossip and complaining. Tess gets on at the stop after mine, and she registered on me at once because she was nearly always accompanied by five children, three girls, two boys, between the ages of around seven to fourteen. I assumed they were hers, and she’d had them in quick succession. Two were very like each ...

Revlon Colorstay Overtime Lipcolor 02/08/2003

Revlon's Latest Lippy.

Revlon Colorstay Overtime Lipcolor Since I was a little girl, lipstick has fascinated me. I began wearing it, and rubbing it off before I got home or arrived at school, when I was about fourteen, and its allure has never dimmed. So if there’s anything new on the market I’m always very tempted to try it. That is why I bought Revlon’s Colorstay Overtime Lipcolour. (Their spellings). With cosmetics, you usually get what you pay for, but I think the exception is lipstick. Some of the cheaper brands, like Rimmel and Maybelline, often outperform the very expensive ones, such as Chanel, Givenchy and Lauder. Knowing this, £8.99 seemed a bit steep to me, but the fact that R.C.O.L. was said to be long-lasting made me decide to buy it. Max Factor’s long-lasting lipstick dried out my lips, and I got a refund, so I’ve been a bit wary of long-lasting products. But this is not a lipstick in the ‘stick’ sense. It’s a thick liquid at one end, like melted lipstick, with what seemed to be a colourless sealant or gloss at the other. I bought it at Lloyds the Chemist, where they had five shades, ranging from a rose pink to a dark red. The full range has eight shades, and larger branches of Boots stock them all. I wear lipstick all the time, even just pottering about the house, and I don’t mind touching it up, though I’m discreet about doing so in public. (Watch the face most women pull when they’re applying it). But there are times when a long lasting lipcolour comes in handy : if you’re having a meal out, travelling or ...

Riverhaven Elderly Cat Welfare 31/07/2003

A Happy Ending.

Riverhaven Elderly Cat Welfare A Happy Ending Riverhaven Elderly Cat Welfare, Courtenay House, Sampford Courtenay Railway Station, Okehampton, EX20 2SP Tel : 01837-53250 email : RIVHAVEN@aol.com (Please do not visit except by prior arrangement). I have had people say to me in disgust, "You support a cat charity? What about all the human beings who need help?" I never answer them. I often wonder if those people do anything to help anyone. In fact I do support two other charities, the British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research; but I’m not justifying anything by telling you that. I’m simply saying that this particular animal charity is a very special and deserving one indeed. Riverhaven is in Devon, and is run by Jackie Southern and her husband Michael. Any owner of a cat or dog who takes pet magazines will know that there are hundreds of animal rescues in the UK, from the large well-known ones like the Battersea Dogs’ Home (which now takes cats, too) and the Blue Cross, to private individuals with just a few in their own homes. (My daughter in Ireland has five, all with a sad history, but she lives in an isolated place, where the quintet now have a wonderful life with woods, open fields and a natural lake,). Most rescues have the aim of finding new, safe, loving homes for the animals. Jackie’s cats are not rehomed, because they are all too old. But why would anyone take on the heartbreak of caring for so many aged and often ill animals? It was something which happened thirteen years ago ...

Everything that starts with Q ... 31/07/2003

The Queen's Requiem.

Everything that starts with Q ... (Hurrah. After a long tussle with Cunard, emails and letters flying all over the place, they have at last apologised that I was unable to take the New York tour, and have sent me £200 compensation. It's always worth while sticking up for your rights). On one of the upper forward decks of the Queen Elizabeth 2 is a large glass showcase, full of photographs of the rich and famous who sailed in the Cunarders in times gone by. There is Edward with Mrs Simpson, Danny Kaye, Audrey Hepburn, Sinatra, Gloria Swanson, Eartha Kitt, Noël Coward, Churchill, the Burtons……the names are like a roll call from the World edition of Who Was Who. Many of the men are in formal evening dress; no ready-made bow ties here. The women wear designer evening gowns, and expensive leisure wear. They can be seen sipping cocktails, dining by candlelight, lounging elegantly on deck. It all evokes the spirit of a time which has gone for ever. I certainly do not regret its passing. That sort of living was accessible to far too few in those days, a class as well as a money thing. But during my magical cruise to Norway last summer, which I described in my opinion Long Live the Queen, there was still an aura of quality, of quiet good taste, a feeling that your holiday was rather ‘special’, and so were you. That has nearly all gone now. I would not have believed that a vessel and many aspects of life on board it could decline so much in one year, but the sad truth is that they have. I first became ...

Rhymes / Limericks 28/07/2003

Licentious Limericks for the Highstreet.

Rhymes / Limericks The manager of our local Superdrug Has lots of sales ploys that will dupe a mug. But I thought it was rum When he fondled my bum, Then gave me a free Henry Cooper mug. There’s a bird on the checkout at Waitrose. Well, I never have seen such a great nose. When I said, "Thanks, Pinocchio," She fetched me a socchio; And I can’t tell you how much I hate those. I’ve heard that the staff down at Sainsbury On consumer relations take painsbury. If you feel like a thrill Just ask at the till, And they’ll plug your toes into the mainsbury. The prices at old Marks and Spence! You get ++++er all for your pence. So I leave without paying. You see what I’m saying…….. Does anyone know a good fence? I think I’ll go walking round Gap To letch up this handsome young chap. He wants, so I’ve heard, A randy old bird; But I shan’t buy the clothes, ‘cause they’re c***. After closing on Fridays at Boots The staff get as kaylied as newts. I join in the mayhem; So can you, if like them, You’re nuts, pervos, weirdos and fruits. I was wandering round WHSmith When I realised I needed to pith. The manager, Bill, Simply opened the till, Saying, "Madam, feel free to uthe thith." There’s a geyser who works at Monsoon With a phiz like a senile baboon. But we girls let that pass For his beautiful ass, And we go in there hoping he’ll moon. I’ve a growing suspicion ‘bout Iceland. I think it’s a cover for viceland. I bent down to the freezer, Got pinched ...

Lady2B.com 24/07/2003

What a Jewel of a Site.

Lady2B.com I love necklaces. Having said that, I’ll add that I don’t mean pearls, diamonds or precious stones, which I’ve never liked. (Hey, I’d be a real bargain as a kept woman). No, I like cheap, cheerful stuff, and something a bit unusual. Tiny, discreet necklaces are out. The ones I go for are to be seen, without being overelaborate or flash. It’s not easy to find them. The Accessorize chain of shops has a fair collection, but their prices seem to be going up, and you risk seeing other people wearing the same if that bothers you. M and S sometimes have something I like, but mostly it’s too quiet and ‘granny’. Dorothy Perkins occasionally has an item that appeals to me. Online, La Redoute has a beauty currently, which I’ve bought, but no range to speak of. I wanted to find an online store where I could be reasonably certain of having a good choice and reliable service. Until recently, I’ve been very wary about buying jewellery online, after I ordered from a site (whose name I’m happy to have forgotten) a most unusual necklace, with chunky, irregularly shaped coloured stones; very attractive in the picture. I paid £10 plus postage. When it arrived it was pathetic, the stones so tiny you could hardly see them when it was being worn. I returned it, and after some prolonged hassle got a refund. The mistake I’d made was not to have any idea how large the thing was. You need to see them on models. Lady2B was recommended in a women’s magazine, which I saw just by chance in a ...

Teach Yourself Latin for Beginners 22/07/2003

Latin? She Must Be Joking!

Teach Yourself Latin for Beginners (I’m sure there are members who know all about grammar, and certainly some who are much better Latin scholars than I am. This opinion is meant for absolute beginners, but the textbook and website may be of interest to others). Teach Yourself Book, £6.99 Book and cassettes £15.43 Double CD (available soon). This opinion is certainly one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever taken on, for how on earth do I convince people who’ve never learnt Latin that it’s worth a go ? I can’t employ my usual argument : that it opens doors when you visit a country, and helps you to get much more out of a holiday. But it does have other advantages. How I came to Latin. I did Latin O-level at school, but in a rather unsatisfactory way. A friend and I in the upper sixth suddenly discovered that to do an honours degree in an Arts subject we needed a distinction or credit in Latin, which was not taught at the school. Panic. At that time, most schools left it to the pupils to do all the applying for university and finding out what was required. We went to the Head, and she asked our English teacher, the redoubtable H.M.H.Harrison, a Cambrige M.A., to coach us. Harrison’s method was simple. We learned four pages of the textbook every evening, and had a daily lunchtime session when she explained a few things and tested us. We were expected to get full marks for every test, and such was her awesome personality and gimlet eye that we made sure that we always did. We both passed well, but I’ve ...
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