Sunday, 16 January 2011

Parma Violet Tea Who's Who

Miss Underscore

(Moi). Rather insecure, romantically and emotionally autistic Primary School Teacher. Sometimes quite funny. Often quite sad. Would love to write a book, but is generally too lazy to even write a cheque.

Imagining she lives in a 1950s Miss Marple novel, lipstick shopping, quoting Dorothy Parker, sleeping, chintzy floral bedding, good hair days, teaching, flea markets and falling in love with tatty, hound dogs (of the 2 and 4 legged variety), afternoon tea.

Her inabilty to ever choose the right man, her unrelenting self-doubt, perpetual social anxiety and failure to master an even passable Bearnaise sauce. Poverty (her own, not so much worried about starving African children or UK pensioners huddled by a one-bar electric fire), Pompous Pilate (her officious, blustering buffoon of a Headteacher), Winter.

Natural Habitat:
The classroom, the Bobbi Brown make-up counter, Betty's tearoom, Bamburgh/ Alnmouth beach. Between the months of November-April Miss Underscore will probably be found in bed. She is indeed half-woman, half dormouse.

Identifying Features:
An intransigent and slightly tiresome devotion to ballet pumps, cardigans, Mad Men eyeliner and pink-brown lipstick. Has recently had to sell all her jewellery on EBAY to pay household bills, consequently she now only has one decent necklace: an Alex Monroe peacock feather pendant, and wears it CONSTANTLY. Pure Grace perfume (in the days when she could afford such luxuries).

Rochester (also has an alter-ego called 'Don')

An ex/ current dalliance (not sure which). Louche, dark, sarcastic and shambolic. 30% Walter Matthau, 30% Nick Cave, 30% Tommy Cooper, 5% Ted Hughes, 5% The Littlest Hobo. Currently a seller of double glazing and a self-styled 'healer' of lesbians with his charity 'The Missionary Position'. Perpetually late. The only reliable thing about Rochester is his eternal unreliability. Swarthy rogue.

Likes: Gin, fanny ratting, the words 'cunting' and 'gosh', taking brooding pictures of himself in the Lakes, lesbians (he is obsessed with lesbianism), performing death and cancer themed haiku poetry, meat and Minstrels (of the chocolate, not black and white variety).

Dislikes: Commitment of any kind, being punctual, vegetarians, Guardian reading social workers (he used to be one), keeping promises, giving compliments.

Natural Habitat: A scuzzy bar with a pool table, a bleak Lakeland hillside, bed.

Identifying Features: eyebrows that resemble two fat weasels, his mumbling Geordie voice, which is so low that it is generally only heard clearly by dogs and dolphins, rather lovely brown eyes.

Senor Boldon/ Dr Stir Fry/The Burger Baron.
An ex. Elder brother of Rochester (I know, I know). Top Gear and stir fry obsessed executive of McDonalds. Suffers from extreme OCD. Rather dour, misanthropic and monosyllabic, although would occasionally come out with an utter jewel of a one-liner, such as describing his middle brother (the only one of the Brothers Grim that I did not become romantically involved with) as a 'masturbating monkey'.

Likes: Routine, order, timetables, cars, stir-fry (EVERY twatting night), holidays in Spain (EVERY twatting holiday), a pint (same time, same place EVERY twatting night), silence, Margaret Thatcher.

Dislikes: Spontaneity, cheerful people, Burger King.

Natural Habitat: See his timetable for details.

Identifying Features: A scowl, but on the rare occasions he does laugh, he becomes almost endearingly Sid James.

Son of Satan
An ex. A twat. An impregnator of german girls (whilst in a relationship with me). Did have a terribly useful career as an electrician when I met him. Gave that all up to study for a PHD and become a professor of 'Contemporary History' (an oxymoron if ever I heard one). That was the beginning of the end for us, as he stopped fixing light fittings and started using the word 'discourse' on a regular basis. Passive aggressive, vegetarian cunt.

Likes: The sound of his own voice, living up to the cliche of the the fanny ratting university professor (he recently married a student 19 years his junior).

Dislikes: Fidelity, Paul Weller's 'Style Council' years.

Natural Habitat: Lurking in bushes behind the University humanities buildings, chatting up fresher girls with quotes by Raymond Williams and Susie Orbach.

Identifying Features: Affected cockney accent (to emphasise his humble working class origins), big nose, granddad-collared linen shirts, general aroma of felafel and sanctimony.

Madam Noir
Shopping obsessed, potty-mouthed recruitment consultant with a black sense of humor and a generally pessimistic view of the world. Recently discovered the joys of moss mumbling and lesbianism. Madam Noir, like Miss Underscore, is an orphan.

Likes: Bizarrely, naff 1970s comedies such as Hi de Hi, Sorry and Butterflies. Lives for music. Also loves New York, shopping, cheese scones, single malt, whippets, the colour black.

Dislikes: Christmas, New Year's Eve, all other drivers on the road (her road rage can be TERRIFYING).

Natural Habitat: John Lewis.

Identifying Features: Pale, ghostly complexion, uniform of leather jacket, jeans, black top and Jo Malone perfume.

Pompous Pilate
The most tedious, arrogant and self-obsessed man on the planet. Currently Head Teacher at The School of Hard Knocks (primary school situated on our town's bleakest, most crime-ridden sink estate). Like many male headteachers is rather lazy, full of grand plans and ideas but can never be bothered to implement them. Highly patronising, speaks only in obtuse edu-jargon soundbites. 

Likes: Talking. Bullying. Hiding in his cosy office, well away from the violence and chaos of the classroom and playground.

Dislikes: Listening, working, dealing with the frankly atrocious behaviour of some of our most 'challenging' kids and families.

Natural Habitat: Assembly: he gets to pace up and down the school hall, pontificating to the entire school. The staff meeting: again, a forum for the oaf to lecture and pontificate.

Identifying Features: Bald, fat, beetrooty complexion, ill-fitting suit. Yorkshire accent so thick you could grout tiles with it.

Aunty Margaret

90 year old Aunty Margaret is a tough-talking, arch, witty, salt-of-the-earth matriarch with a heart of gold.

Likes: Gossiping, telling stories about her beloved husband, Barty, who died 20 years ago, going to church, child-minding for the entire village, Mr Kipling cakes, milky coffee and (rather decadently) Chanel make-up.

Dislikes: Snobbery, pretentiousness and ALL of Miss Underscore's boyfriends, 'Hmmmm! I wouldn't trust that one with a bonny dog!'

Natural Habitat: Aunty Margaret looks like she should be knitting next to a guillotine somewhere.

Identifying Features: Resembles Les Dawson (when he was dressed as a woman). Outdoors she is never seen without her head scarf and raincoat (even in July). Indoors she favours a nice cardigan, slippers and American Tan tights combo.

Lovely, intelligent, gentle and graceful RSPCA rescue lurcher. Half Scottish Deerhound, half Greyhound. Found tethered, starved and close to death on an allotment. As one very astute commenter on this blog once remarked, Hetty looks like she was drawn by Quentin Blake.

Likes: Running, watching TV, lounging on the sofa, going to the beach, marmite on toast, chasing squirrels, wearing jaunty pink collars, flirting with Bruno the German Pointer (he's a wrong 'un, the swarthy rogue of the Backhouse Park set, but the girl is smitten), bossing her brother Cyril about.

Dislikes: Staffordshire Bull Terriers, the postman (and indeed, any men of the male gender who enter her domain), baseball caps, fleas.

Natural Habitat: The sofa, the bed, the beach, the park, Minchella's ice cream kiosk. Anywhere she can run like the wind.

Identifying Features: Long, lean and elegant, Hetty has the tatty, regal look of a down-at-heel aristocrat. Hetty sings when she is happy. She has Dennis Healy's eyebrows (I am not sure how she aquired them, EBAY probably).


Another RSPCA lurcher. Cyril is a cross between a Bearded Collie and a Greyhound. If Hetty was drawn by Quentin Blake, then Cyril was certainly drawn by Walt Disney. Daft, clown-like, clumsy and highly vocal, Cyril is utterly bonkers and completely brainless. Obsessed with food and chewing, the hound costs a twatting fortune.

Likes: Raiding the kitchen counters for food and then vomiting all over expensive household items (Laura Ashley rugs, Macbooks, sofas). Chewing: especially shoes and remote controls. Gnawing through the gussets of his owner's knickers (this is one of Cyril's more worrying habits, he is an obsessive knicker-ripper). Also likes running with Hetty, stealing food from the cats, chasing birds, wallowing up to his oxters in mud and going to the Hair of the Dog beauty spa for pamper sessions (although, at £28 a time, that is a luxury that his mum can no longer afford).

Dislikes: Brown and black labradors of the male gender: for some reason they all treat him as a sexual play thing. A trip to the park, for Cyril, very often turns into a scene from Brokeback Mountain. Also has a deeply ingrained fear of rubber ducks.

Natural Habitat: The kitchen, the mud-bath, the park.

Identifying Features: You will hear Cyril before you see him: he 'talks' constantly: barks, growls, mutters, grumbles. Cyril has a long, flowing coat of silver and grey. It is usually caked in mud.


  1. hello there
    I found you via Belgian Waffling, & just wanted to say how much I'm enjoying your blog. I cant wait for the next installment

  2. Found you through Belgian Waffle too. Brilliant, funny blog!

  3. Another person who found you through Belgian Waffle. I love your funny cast of characters.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. I love it, always makes me smile when I look to see if you have a new post, and there is one. You make me laugh, loudly, making it quite obvious I am not actually hard at work.
    Oh, and your dogs are beautiful.

  6. Thank you Victoria,

    What a lovely complement!


  7. I found you via a search for lilacs, and I am also enjoying your blog tremendously!

  8. Hello, Ms. Underscore. I found your blog because I Googled the words "parma violet images". I couldn't resist my own curiosity in reading it. Your description of the people you work with made me laugh and think how small the world can be: I am Brazilian, and yet I deal with Pompous Pilates principals, crazy assistants (when they exist, that is), friends that are obssessed with shopping, shortage of wages (I really shouldn't complain, I work at city schools and the paying is not good, but I don't starve). May I ask your permission for dropping by occasionally? Best wishes from Brazil!

  9. Hi Angela,

    Lovely to hear from you. Drop by whenever you like!