33 Thoughts For My 33rd Birthday

imageIt’s my birthday tomorrow, and in light of the fact that I am going to be busy I wanted to leave you with some thoughts and ideas that may amuse you.

1. If it doesn’t matter, get rid of it. If you can’t get rid of it, it matters.

2. Getting no message can sometimes be a message in itself.

3. Life is not a fairytale. If you lose your shoe at midnight, you’re probably drunk.

4. Don’t regret knowing the people that come into your life – good people give you happiness, bad ones give you experience, the worst ones give you lessons and the best ones give you memories.

5. You can’t throw spaghetti at wall and expect it to spell something.

6. No good apology usually contains the word ‘but.’

7. It’s good to be informed instead of just being opinionated.

8. Normal seems to be getting dressed in clothes that are bought for work, driving through traffic in a car that is not yet paid off in order to get to the job that is needed to pay for the clothes and the car and the house that is left vacant all day so it is possible to afford to live in it.

9. There comes a time where you need to stop crossing oceans for people who wouldn’t jump puddles for you.


10. There may be two sides to every story. Unfortunately, there are some people who look like complete douchebags in both of them.

11. Tom Hanks is probably the only man that will ever make you cry over a lost volleyball.

12. It’s important to follow your heart, but equally important to take your brain with you.

13. The first five days after the weekend are always the hardest.

14. It is impossible to make the same mistake twice, because the second time is a choice.

15. It is better to be unique that trying to be perfect.

16. Life is too short to be serious all the time. If you can’t laugh at yourself, call someone who will laugh at you.

17. Don’t forget to post on Facebook every time you are going to the gym, otherwise the entire workout will be a complete waste of time.

18. That tingly feeling that is experienced when you like someone is often common sense leaving the body.

19. It’s better to have loved and lost than to do thirty pounds of laundry a week.


20. Take the opportunity to smile while you still have teeth.

21. The quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it back in your pocket.

22. To succeed in life, you need three things – a wishbone, a backbone and a funnybone.

23. After a game of chess, the king and the pawn go in the same box.

24. It’s often said that you are what you eat. I clearly ate a sexy beast this morning.

25. You can’t completely open your mouth and stick you tongue out past your lips.

26. You just tried it.

27. You’ve just realised that I was lying.

28. Of your 99 problems, 83 of them will be completely made up nonsense and will result in unnecessary stress for no logical reason. These will undoubtedly surface at 3am when you have to be up early that day…

29. There’s a difference between being anti-social and anti-stupid.

30. Life is too short not to get drunk in a costume.

31. Nothing is more serious than turning on the caps lock during a public fight on the Internet.

32. Moving on is much easier to accept when you realise the other person was batsh*t crazy.

33. This: image

If anybody needs me, I’ll be in the pub…

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks.



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Say What Now?


This isn’t a very old post, but I’m reblogging it for #ThrowbackThursday in case you missed it…

Originally posted on Suzie81 Speaks:

Warning: adult content.

After twenty months of blogging and hundreds of posts that cover a whole range of topics, I have started to take great delight in the frequently obscure searches that lead to Suzie81 Speaks. While I can link some of these to things I have written, I still find some baffling and at times, hilarious. There are clearly lots of different types of people that read my blog:

1. The Apathetic Authorsimage


Thanks. It’s nice to see that my blog appears when these sentences are typed in…

2. The Aspiring DoctorimageI have no medical training whatsoever, but I can guess that the answer to this is no.

3. Animal Loversimage



I have never met anyone that has believed that they are a badger, nor have I attempted to cuddle one. However, judging from video footage of honey badgers I have seen, I would advise against it. I have…

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I Shouldn’t Be This Attached To a Phone, But…


In the not-so-distant past, my personal life existed without the use of lots of technology. I didn’t have a home computer or the Internet and my mobile phone was a brick that I could use to ring someone, send them a text message or play snake on. I had a stack of hundreds of CD’s and a little CD player, basic television service and a DVD player.

Three years ago, I got an iPhone 4. I was late to jump on the Apple bandwagon, but being in a relationship with an Apple fanatic and all-round computer geek, I was easily swayed when it came time to renew my contract and decided to upgrade to something awesome.

From the minute I was handed that shiny black handset, I was hooked. Everything it did fascinated me and I spent hours poring over all the brilliant things I could now do that seemed almost space-aged to me before. However tragic it may sound, it became almost like another limb. Wherever I went, it came with me.

With the help of this little device, I kept in contact with everyone who means something to me through phonecalls, text messages, email, FaceTime, Facebook, Twitter… It was the source of laughter as my family and friends shared their stories, and of pain as I was informed of the loss of people that I loved. It helped me to mend broken relationships, and end others.

It shared with me major and local news events, corrected my spelling, told me the time in all the world’s major cities, informed me of the weather and reminded me of important birthdays and appointments.

It allowed me to kill zombies with plants, farm zombies, crush candies, match dots and throw agitated birds of various colours and sizes at green pigs.

It kept me entertained during train and plane journeys. It travelled to Paris, Malaga, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, London, Naples and Amsterdam with me. It joined me on the beach, at the spa, by the pool, in restaurants and nightclubs, the pub and several music gigs.

It encouraged me to watch entire seasons of ‘Drop Dead Diva,’ ‘White Collar,’ documentaries, children’s programmes that made me feel nostalgic and Rom Coms that I knew The Bloke didn’t want to see through the Netflix app.

It took this photograph:

image And this one:


And this:


And this:


And over 10,000 more, which are all stored in random files on my computer.

It allowed me to expand my musical palette, downloading songs that I had previously forgotten. It gave me rock playlists to accompany my shopping trips, easy listening playlists to relax me in the bath, Motown and soul playlists when I needed cheering up. It helped me to downsize my CD collection, creating more space in the house and contributing to local charity shops.

It helped me develop my blog, storing my ideas in the notes section for a later time when I could copy and paste them into a new post.

It was my sanctuary when my brain wouldn’t allow me to sleep at night, and would wake me up during afternoon naps at a weekend.

It recorded every significant moment in my life in the last three years, and still doesn’t bear a single scratch.

Today, it decided that it had had enough, and travelled over the electronic bridge in the sky. I have an image of little wings on it’s back, happily flapping through the air and thinking ‘thank goodness I don’t have to listen to her ramblings anymore.’ I shouldn’t be this attached to a mobile phone, but… I’m gutted.

Goodbye my little phone, we had some good times together.

What about you guys? What piece of technology do you rely on?

You can also find me in Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog, and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks.


Posted in Daily Life | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Tracing the Past


My grandparents on their wedding day

The greatest man I have ever known was my grandfather, Alfred. A northern Englishman to the core, he wore a flat cap and grey cardigans and regularly asked me if I was ‘courting’ anyone (which seems a bit silly now as I was 10 years old at the time). He was a warm, funny and a quintessential gentleman. I remember that he always had a little white paper bag with a selection of chocolates that he would give to us whenever we saw him. He made up his own lyrics to different songs, my favourite being ‘Me Grandfathers Clock’, and had sayings like “Eeh, put skin on yer back like velvet” every time he ate custard. My sisters and I adored him and would look forward to his visits. He had a hard life, he and my grandmother were poor, but my mother’s memories of her own childhood were filled with happiness, kindness and love, and she never wanted for anything. He put his family first, working manual labour jobs and even becoming a a coal miner at one point, but he never talked about himself.

Unfortunately, he died when I was 16 years old. He developed senile dementia and I witnessed him deteriorate from a healthy, intelligent and witty human being to the point where he didn’t know where he was or who we were, in an awful hospital that has since been closed down. One of my biggest regrets is that I didn’t take the time to get to know him properly.

A few years ago I had a little bit of time during a holiday, and so I decided to trace my family history. Growing up I had just my parents and two younger sisters – my mum didn’t keep in touch with any of her distant relatives and was an only child, and my father’s family disowned him when he married my mum and so it was just the five of us. I had virtually no information to start my research aside from a single photo album. I spoke to my mother and asked her for any details, but my grandfather had always remained reasonably private about his early life and so she could only give me vague memories of things that he had shared during her childhood.

It turned out to be a fascinating experience. My grandfather, born in 1919, was living with Frank and Margaret, and took their surname until the age of 14. When he left school he was given his birth certificate so he could find a job. He discovered that his mother’s name was actually Emily, and so he adopted her last name from that point on. My mum told me that he knew a woman called ‘Big Emily’, who he assumed was his mother, but he never knew for sure.

I signed up to Ancestry.co.uk and obtained a copy of his birth certificate, and written on there was ‘Emily…’, but had no father registered. By sheer luck I found Emily – one of her other children, my grandfather’s half-brother, was researching his family history and had posted a picture of her (looking like my grandfather in a wig) and this led to quite a fascinating set of discoveries.

Emily was living with her Auntie Margeret and Uncle Frank in 1911, and according to the census she was working as a belt maker in a factory. Her mother, Mary (Margeret’s sister) had committed suicide in 1905 by swallowing nitric acid after losing a child at the age of just a few months and her father, Frederick died in 1898 from TB. My grandfather was born out of wedlock in 1919, and he continued to live with Frank and Margaret, which makes me think that Frank was the father. I remember my grandfather once told me that Frank was an abusive man, recounting a memory of a clock being thrown into a fire, and my mum added to this that he died of diseases brought on by alcoholism in the early 1940’s. Margaret never liked my grandfather and was quite openly hostile towards him, but he never understood why. It makes sense that her dislike of him could have been caused by her husband’s infidelity with her niece.

Emily went on to marry a man named Charles in 1927, eight years after my grandfather was born, and NEVER told anyone in her family that she had another son. It was only when I contacted them that they were aware of his existence and after I explained to them my findings and emailed them my pictures of him they accepted it without question. I then discovered that Emily lived in the next town to my grandfather and she died in 1989, only eight years before him. She is even buried just a few plots away in the same cemetery. How heartbreaking – they could have passed each other in the street on a number of occasions and wouldn’t have known.

Yet despite the obvious sense of abandonment he must have felt, he was a hard-working, kind and generous man, and I was very lucky to have him in my life, even if it was just for a short time. It’s amazing how resilient some can be in the face of adversity.

I learned a lot during the process, particularly in the fact that I have a strong working class northern English bloodline that is extremely evident in mine and my sisters characters even to this day. What I found most fulfilling about the experience was being able to share my findings with my mother. She was astounded at the photograph of Emily, who was her grandmother that she had never met, and I was delighted to reveal a family history that she would never have known about. We’ve agreed that we are going to visit the graves of our ancestors to pay our respects.

Now I have a little bit of history that I can tell my own children…

What about you guys? Do you have interesting stories in your family history?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog, and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks.

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The Cat Owner’s Guide To Wrapping Christmas Presents

Items needed:

  • Presents
  • Wrapping paper
  • Ribbon
  • Gift tags
  • Scissors
  • Sticky tape
  • Two cats: Cat A that has decided he wants a cuddle and Cat B that has just woken up after sleeping for the majority of the day and is in the mood to play.

What?! Me?


Step 1: Sit on floor in the middle of the room. Remove Cat A from lap.

Step 2: Take out items needed from carrier bag, having previously purchased them that day from the only card shop in your local area amidst a fury of seemingly angry women and their screaming children. Stop Cat B from sniffing the scissors.

Step 3: Cut strips of sticky tape and stick them along the edge of the wooden coffee table to make the wrapping process easier. Stop Cat B from batting at the sticky tape.

Step 4: Remove wrapping paper from clear plastic film. Stop Cat B from attempting to chew this. Remove Cat A from lap.

Step 5. Unroll wrapping paper and attempt to cut out required amount of wrapping paper on the floor. Remove Cat A from the middle of the paper. End up cutting out paper while standing up. Stop Cat B from batting sticky tape.

Step 6: Wrap present while Cat A sticks his nose in the middle of the paper. Avoid accidentally sticking Cat A’s whiskers to the paper when adding sticky tape. Notice that Cat B is shaking her paw furiously and realise that she has got a piece of sticky tape stuck to it. Remove sticky tape from paw. Remove Cat A from lap.

Step 7: Cut ribbon. Stop Cat A and Cat B from playing with the ends of ribbon.

Step 8: Write gift tag. Write another gift tag after Cat B, who is still on a personal mission to play with the ribbon, pounces and nudges the pen, resulting in a line across the original gift tag.

Step 9: Stand up to cut another piece of wrapping paper out. Sit back down and place wrapping paper on floor. Remove Cat A from paper. Stand up to cut another piece of paper after Cat A digs claws into paper during removal process, ripping a hole in the middle of it.

Step 10: Repeat Steps 6 and 7.

Step 11: Remove both cats from room and continue to wrap presents. Listen to Cat B cry loudly for ten minutes.

Step 12: Go upstairs after remembering a forgotten present. Upon your return, remove Cat A from carrier bag.

Step 13: Wrap present surprisingly easily. Spend ten minutes looking for pen to write gift card. Discover Cat B playing with pen on kitchen floor.

Step 14: Return to room to find Cat A chewing on the corner of the ribbon on one of the presents. Remove ribbon from Cat A’s mouth, only to discover a large patch of cat slobber on the corner of the paper. Re-wrap present.

Step 15: Give discarded ribbon to Cat A. Watch as Cat A sniffs it and walks away.

Step 16: Take out some gift bags to put presents in. Start to place presents in first bag. Remove Cat B from second bag. Stop Cat A from chewing on handle of third bag.

Step 17: Place filled bags in wardrobe. Sit on couch to write Christmas cards. Hear a faint cry from upstairs. Remove cat from wardrobe.

It’s a good job they’re cute…

Exhibit A: Daisy (Cat B)

Exhibit A: Daisy (Cat B)

What about you guys? Do your animals make a seemingly easy process much more complicated?

You can find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog, and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks

Image 1 credit: newschoolnomads.com


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It’s almost Sunday and that means only one thing… My #SundayBlogShare party! This is the sixth sharefest and every week I am delighted with the sheer amount of new people that join and share their posts. I’ve met tons of new bloggers and my stats have rocketed!

Want to join #SundayBlogShare? You can post many times throughout the day and you don’t have to follow Suzie81 Speaks or any of it’s associated social media. You can invite as many of your fellow bloggy friends as you like and your posts can cover any topic…

Here are some basic rules to follow.

1. #SundayBlogShare is a happy place. Posts that are racist, sexist and homophobic are not allowed.

2. Don’t use #SundayBlogShare to post inspirational quotes, book promotions, links to Amazon or porn. Blog posts only.

3. Do not beg or harass others for retweets or follows. However, feel free to retweet and follow others.

4. Be respectful at all times. If you disagree with the content of a post, do so in a polite manner.

Easy! Link your posts with the #SundayBlogShare hashtag, invite your friends, retweet and enjoy! If you tag my Twitter handle @suzie81blog I will retweet all of your posts…

Looking forward to seeing you there!

You can find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog and on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks


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Reputations: What My Students Can Learn From Katherine Heigl


It has been widely reported that actress Katherine Heigl is a diva. While I am always distrustful of entertainment-based stories in the media, a recent interview given by Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal creator Shonda Rhimes appears to confirm this, at least regarding her behaviour when on the set of Grey’s Anatomy, stating that “there are no Heigls” allowed on the set of Scandal and that she doesn’t “put up with bulls–t or nasty people [anymore].”

The friendship the pair originally had turned bad in 2008 when Heigl withdrew herself from contention in the annual Emmy Awards because of what she felt was poor writing on the show, stating:

“I did not feel that I was given the material this season to warrant an Emmy nomination and in an effort to maintain the integrity of the academy organisation, I withdrew my name from contention.” At the time, the remark was seen as a criticism of Rhimes.

Rhimes has since become one of the most powerful television producers in Hollywood.

Heigl has recently responded to Rhimes’s remarks during an interview with Mario Lopez for the Hollywood Reporter. It has been called an apology, although a closer examination of this appears to be more of an acknowledgment of Rhimes’s feelings towards her rather than her own behaviour:

“The last one with Shonda . . . it sucks. I am sorry that she feels that way and I wish her nothing but greatness and I have nothing negative to say about [her],” she continued. “I’m a big fan of her work. I watch Scandal every week and so I’m sorry she’s left with such a crappy impression of me. I wish I could do something to change that. Maybe I will be able to someday.”

However, regardless of the way in which we choose to consider the meaning behind her response, it seems that Heigl may have learned a valuable lesson: don’t kick people on the way up, as you may need those very same people on the way down.


This is what I have been trying to teach my students. Reputation is everything. A good reputation leads to glowing references either on paper or word of mouth and this can sometimes be the deciding factor in which a candidate is offered a job. The world is a very small place and it’s often as important who you know rather than what you know. Apathy, laziness and rudeness will affect the opinions that others have of you. Katherine Heigl’s behaviour has affected her reputation and potentially lost her contracts in the future – it seems to have certainly ruined her chances of returning to Grey’s Anatomy anytime soon despite the fact that she has expressed an interest in this.

I work in an excellent school and enjoy a good working relationship with most of my students, but there was one in particular at the very beginnings of my career that I will always remember as being the most difficult, challenging and on occasions aggressive student that I have ever had the privilege of working with. For two years he was my nemesis, challenging my behaviour management skills to extremes. He was, and is, the only student to make me go home and cry from frustration. He was a very intelligent young man, he had extremely supportive parents, he didn’t possess any diagnosed learning or behaviour difficulties (which was investigated fully by many organisations during my time with him) and he was more than capable of doing the work. There was just one reason why he didn’t get the work done – he simply didn’t want to, and he was quite open in the fact that he felt that education was a waste of time as he was going to become a professional console game player – he was going to test computer games for a living. He became rude and arrogant, frequently telling me and other teachers that his parents paid my salary and therefore I should do as he said. He mocked other students’ answers to questions, calling them derogatory names when he thought we weren’t in earshot. On his Geography GCSE paper he decided to answer the questions by drawing rude pictures and writing sarcastic comments.

The day he left, I wished him good luck through gritted teeth. His response:

“Don’t worry Miss, you’ll need it more than me. At least I’ll never have to see you again.”

I had to walk away before I said something that I would have got into trouble for.

Two years later, I was sitting in my classroom during a free lesson, and who should walk in but my nemesis. As confident as the day he had left, he strolled over to my desk, greeted me and sat down.

“I was wondering if you could write me a reference? I have a job interview and I need someone who will give me a reference before they interview me.”

I was gobsmacked and he must have picked up on this because he followed his question with:

“Don’t worry, I’ve changed now, so you won’t need to give me a bad one.”

I suggested that he go and find his form tutor. His response?

“You’re the third person that said that. I can’t ask her because I told her to f*ck off and called her a b*tch on the last day. Oh well, see you later.”

Off he went, and thankfully I have never seen or heard from him since. His form tutor is not the sort of person to hold grudges and would have written him the reference, but I secretly loved the fact that he knew that he had burned some bridges.

I’ve told this story to many of my students over the years (leaving out the curse words), but even now I still have to deal with young people who will be leaving full-time education next year and don’t seem to realise how their current behaviour will affect their future. There are many things that they can learn from this and Katherine Heigl’s situation that may help them when they step out into the big wide world.


Leave your personal feelings at home. It isn’t a question of being two-faced or false, it’s being able to conduct yourself in a positive, professional manner even if the very sight of one particular person makes your blood boil. Don’t bad mouth these people to anyone else – you are allowed to have any opinion of someone in the same way they do about us, but keep it to yourself.

Stop the negativity. Stop complaining that you can’t do something, that you won’t do something, that something is pointless. There are lessons to be learned from every activity, every opportunity, every experience.

Remember that there is a difference between confidence and arrogance. Confidence is being self assured in our own capabilities. Arrogance is possessing a self-inflated sense of importance, often without justification. I know that I am a good teacher, but that doesn’t mean I consider myself to be a better teacher than my colleagues. I ask them their opinions and I take their advice. I learn from them.

Don’t forget to be grateful for opportunities given to you and the people who make it possible. Say thank you. Don’t ask for or accept someone’s help and then throw it back it their face later on. It’s guaranteed that they won’t help you again.

Take responsibility for your own behaviour. Of course, we all meet people that are going to dislike us, sometimes without a valid reason, but often opinions are formed about us based on our actions. If you accept the times when you are in the wrong, avoid blaming others and actually offer a sincere apology, it is more likely that they will respect you, even if it doesn’t change their opinion of you.

Don’t expect others to tolerate poor behaviour forever. Most will accept a few instances of someone being an idiot, but eventually they will decide that they have had enough and move on. As a teacher, I always try and move on and start each new lesson with a clean slate, but the real world is not so forgiving.

Be consistent, and follow through on things that you have promised. If you say that you’re going to do something, do it. Don’t make promises that you can’t keep.

Avoid living in a bubble, and remember that you are not the only person that exists. The world does not evolve around you. Take time to involve yourself in the lives of others in a positive way – offer to help them, listen, understand and support.

Be nice! We all have our bad days, but if you can greet those around you with a smile and a positive message it is more likely that they will want to be in your company and even help out when needed.

Finally, remember that everybody, regardless of who they are and what they do should be treated with respect until they give you reasonable cause to think otherwise. Nobody is beneath you. As I repeatedly tell my students: don’t be nasty to the ‘boffins,’ the ‘nerds’ and the ‘geeks’, as it’s likely that one day you’ll be working for one.

What about you guys? What builds a good reputation?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog, and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks.


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