Monday, 17 December 2007

How Come ... ?

How come Christmas sneaks up on me every year ? It's not as if they've changed the date and brought it forward. When I last looked , it was still scheduled for the 25th December and yet every year I get to about this time and feel that rising well of panic inside me. It's not as if we're all going to wake up on Christmas Day to find that I've forgotten to buy anyone presents or that I haven't thought about what to have for lunch. It's all been planned with military precision as usual with the help of a million 'To Do' lists. I've resigned myself to the likelihood of getting another kitchen utensil from the husband ( teapot, bread bin , salad servers in the last 3 years ... I won't go back any further but if I did it would include pen knife and car jack) and it will come as no surprise if both the children change their Santa lists about an hour after the shops have shut on Christmas Eve. But given that all these things are almost certain to happen , the sheer terror of the prospect of forgetting the Brussels sprouts ( like as if anyone would even care) fills me with dread . It's like having one of those dreams about sitting an exam when you haven't been to any of the lessons and you've forgotten to bring a pen and you're only wearing your pants.
One of these years I'm going to do what men do. Go to every drinks party I'm invited to, come home drunk, in a cab, smelling of curry. Buy no presents whatsoever but maybe just pop to the shops ( Homebase /Halfords/garage round the corner) on Christmas Eve and buy whatever crap is left on the shelf. I'll have to claim not to be able to cook, down half a bottle of gin by midday then fall asleep on the sofa about 4 O Clock and snore through the clearing up and dish washing. If only.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Oh Joy

Salmon battle upstream against raging torrents, lemmings leap off cliffs and there's bound to be some weird breed of species that perform some other ritualistic suicidal stunt .. and we wonder why. And yet every year we do the same thing. We 'celebrate' Christmas. In it's simplest form this involves endless lists, chores and obligations. In it's more complicated form it usually ends in divorce. Most men just turn up for Christmas day. The presents are wrapped, contents usually unknown but the price always questioned , especially if it's been bought with 'their' money. Endless supplies of food fill the shelves,fridges and cupboards , every meal, whim and indulgence catered for. Tress are decorated , carol concerts attended , mindless drinks parties attended and all in the name of what ?Tthe birth of Christ ? I don't think so. Think I'd prefer the life of a lemming.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

How to have the perfect christmas

I've cracked it after nearly 30 years of Christmases. Don't read any articles or buy any magazines that contain the words Perfect Christmas. Who the hell do these magazine editors think they are telling us how have the perfect Christmas. If there's only benefit to getting old , it's the certain knowledge that no magazine article can dictate what a perfect Christmas is.

Saturday, 8 December 2007

'tis the season to be jolly

I met an arsehole today. He was driving a car that undertook me as I slowed to let a bus out of the bus station ahead of me. He deftly swerved broadside of the bus nearly taking out a hapless pedestrian in the process and sped off into the distance. It was only the actions a fireman standing outside the fire station ( next to the bus station) with a loud-hailer , beckoning passing motorists into the fire station for a charity car wash, that decided me on my next course of action. Having witnessed the whole event he lifted his loud-hailer to his mouth and hollered 'ARSEHOLE" into it , directed at the idiot driver , then turned, grinned at me and gave me a thumbs up . I loved his spontaneity. It made me smile and gave me the courage to give chase if you can call 30mph a chase.
I managed to catch up with the idiot driver within about a mile although he tried his best to evade me by veering down side-roads without indicating, hoping to give me the slip. I pulled alongside, expecting to find some spotty boy racer with a foul line in swearing but instead saw a middle aged man with small children in the back. He sat defiantly refusing to acknowledge my presence , arms folded defiantly and pathetically in front of him.
Fortunately I came out with a belter of a line having had time to think about it whilst tailing him. I can thank the fireman for inspiration ... 'Just wanted to see what an arsehole looks like' I shouted across to him then drove off. Pathetic I know but at least it gave me a small smug crumb of satisfaction . But it also made me wonder why a grown man would put the lives of his children at risk by driving so dangerously. Astonishing really.

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Is it any wonder ?

In a country where the headline 'Omaha Mall Massacre Leaves Nine Dead' receives equal top billing with a story about whether Scarlet Celebrity Somebody has had a nose job or not ... is it any wonder that the world finds it difficult to take America seriously?

Monday, 3 December 2007

Oxymorons

The words 'men' and 'Christmas shopping' don't belong in the same sentence let alone the same universe. It was therefore with trepidation that I awoke this morning to remember that the annual ( or seeminly pent-annual or whatever means once every five years) Christmas shopping with the husband event loomed ahead of me.
As it happened we didn't brave Oxford Street or even the local shopping centre. Instead we set the Sat Nav to Reading and traipsed down the M4 to Costco. No Tiffany baubles for me this year then but at least I can be grateful that this year's stocking won't be bulging with the tell-tale shapes of a teapot , a bread-bin or a pair of salad servers ( there's a theme emerging here ). After cruising around the male heaven TV aisles , a quick diversion through the tools and heavy industrial machinery section, finishing with a slow peruse around the beer and booze emporium, we finally made it to the till. I left him to pay unable to face the 'How Much ???' look of astonishment on his face. Two hot dogs later ( in lieu of a more expensive lunch) which cost the princely sum of £3 and we were back on the motorway heading for home. I could tell he was feeling as pleased as punch having executed his duty within a record 3 hours . Next stop Argos on the way home where I'd reserved a couple of video games for the boys for Christmas. He threatened to wait in the car until he realised that he would come in for some major stick here if he didn't enter into the Christmas Shopping spirit and actually get out of the car. I suppose we could call the day a sort of success and he's off the hook for another 5 years.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Parallel Universe

This morning I found myself in the company of women who compared notes on not whether but when they would be skiing, how their daughters HAD to have Ugg Boots ( not much change out of £200) , how 3 bathrooms in a house was the bare minimum and what canapes they'd be serving at Christmas. There was much guffawing about what they used to get up to in the dorms at their respective boarding schools and how they'd been stalking high street shops to nab this year's Must-Have Christmas gift - a Nintendo Wii.
I felt as if I'd been transported to some kind of parallel universe. At intervals they would break away to take a call on their mobiles, barking instructions at the caller with a kind of nasal indignation. I dared to mention the fake Ugg lookalikes that BHS are selling - a snip at £7 at which point someone asked what BHS was . It clearly didn't feature on their radar. It's where people like me shop I dared to answer.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

The colour grey

I love the colour grey in all it's hues and shades , I'm even wearing it today but then so is the sky and it doesn't suit it so well. Something happens when the sky clouds over that has an immediate effect on my mood . No matter how many lamps I turn on to counteract the gloom , nothing seems to be able to brighten my mood. No amount of Scissor Sisters does the trick either and that's worrying. Talking of the fabulous SS , I caught the tail end of that brother sisiter duo on the X Factor attempting a cover of I don't feel Like Dancing . Some things in life are sacred and that song is one of them. Don't even try to ape the maestros. On the other hand the ridiculous Rhydian was magnificent which I never thought I'd hear myself say . Think it must be the quirky British nature that's enabled him to get this far ... well that and his voice . I'm warming to him.

Monday, 12 November 2007

Scrap Revolution Retreat


Remember that feeling when you were just about to finish a wonderful book that you'd hoped would never end ? A sort of self-induced depression that rendered you helpless and as each page passed the inevitability of the end would finally engulf you and you'd be left mourning it's passing ?
Well I just had the same feeling , but following a 48 hour period of blissful scrapping at a retreat in a gloriously rural part of Hertfordshire. I just didn't want it to end. Friends , fun , a lot of laughs , a lot of chocolate and the best part ... all meals cooked for you and no kids. I never thought I'd hear myself say that .. the bit about no kids but who am I kidding ?

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Too many Christmas's ?

Around about this time of year the shops begin to launch their Christmas ranges. Sadly these normally comprise useless 'gifts' that turn up at car boot sales the following year. Multi-tools with 7 types of blade, pig shaped shower radios and grow your own millionaire being tyical examples. Game show tie-in board games, anything pink and miniature garden tool sets feature strongly as do hideous confectionary concoctions the size of a small child. Over the years I 've become wiser and resist these tawdry offerings in favour of something a little more aesthetically pleasing . Pure luxury features hevily in the top priorities although I still can't bring myself to pay over 40 quid for a bottle of Jo Mallone (sp?) bath oil ... see I don't even know how to spell it yet alone justify ithe expense although I do still covet it.
I'll have to buy my own gifts again this year to avoid getting some ghastly sequined red satin bag from husband containing foul smelling cheap nastiness which is all that M&S will have on it's shelves by Christmas Eve, or worse a kitchen gadget ( previous years have included bread bins , salad servers , teapots). This would be funny if it weren't so sad that he doesn't know me so never knows what to get me. I have to buy his mother's gifts too because he doesn't know what she likes either and the childrens too. Although I think he knows them , well on occassions. I'll get the ususal barbed remark about the cost of these. It's all a bit of a charade really. And yet despite the hideous annual ritual of shopping centres becoming no go areas from November onwards , the ever increasing proliferation of variations on Christmas Pudding ( sticky toffee chocolate for goodness sake , what's the matter with traditional plain old fashioned christmas pudding ?) and the turning down of every invitation to some tedious 'Christmas Do' that involves a black dress and a pair of tights ... I still quite like the idea of Christmas. It's just getting harder each year to work up any enthusiasm.

Monday, 5 November 2007

Geo- caching

One of my team-mates on UKS posted me to a link about this latest craze. Hardly daring to check it out , given my adictive nature, I immediately logged on and found that there are nearly 5000 caches or treasure sites within a 50 mile radius of me . Early days , but I think the idea is that you trek off into the great outdoors with a sat nav thingy in your hand and put in the co-ordinates that you've found online . It usually comes with a quiz type clue that you have to decipher to pinpoint the exact location. Once you've found it you open up the container, sign in to say you've visited and take a little reasure token or sime such and replace it with one of your own. It's all I can do to wait for the boys to come home from school before dragging them off to locate it ! I'd never heard of it before this morning but it sounds like great , wholesome, family entertainment that uses technology ( which the boys love) but which doesn't involve them sitiing in front a screen for hours ( which I loathe) ...so everyone's happy ! Thanks Elaine !

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Making up for lost time

Never dressed up dolls when I was little . Don't think I ever owned anything pink . Didn't have anything glittery. So it was all the more exciting to be crowned Scrapping Princess at the Swansea Retreat!
My tiara has pride of place in my scrap room. Just making up for lost time.

Friday, 26 October 2007

Irrational Fear

It's what paralyses us . It stops us from acheiving , coping, reaching goals, making progress, overcoming difficulties. Given such a bad press why do we allow it to dominate us ? There's the rub . We have no choice. When it came to handing out bravery I must have been last in the queue. You know when people say , when faced with extreme danger , that somehow they just did what they had to do and didn't consider the consequences ? I worry that I don't have that gene in me. I'll be a blubbering wreck with those jelly legs you get in dreams when you try to run and can't. Fiight or flight ? I'd go for the latter every time.

So what's brought this on ? Fear of the unknown. The worst type. My youngest son sat in the dentists chair today at the Eastman Dental Hospital whilst they told me that sadly he'd lose his front tooth having knocked it out last week in a swimming pool accident. It had been expertly re-inserted by our lovely dentist and given every chance of recovery by being stapled to the adjoining tooth for extra stability . But the gum hasn't healed as it should and the tooth itself has dropped considerably , is still wobbly and worse, the gum has clearly started to recede which they can do nothing about . All this means is that we now have to go through the laborious and possibly painful process of having a plate fitted to his upper jaw with a false tooth attached as he's too young to have an implant yet.

And why does this worry so much ? It's not as if his leg's dropped off or they've just diagnosed a life threatening illness. I'm embarassed by my extreme reaction to something which is clearly, on a scale of 1 to 10 of worst things that could happen to you in life, probably only rating around a 2. It's because I don't know what the outcome is going to be . I can't anticipate how much discomfort he will have to endure. I have no way of measuring how this will affect his confidence nor how long the process will take nor wheter it will work. That's why. Fear of the unknown. The worst kind. I'm one of those awful people who has to know how things are going to work out. I can't deal with all the uncertainty.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Nearly There

If half term only lasted a week, I'd love it . Five consecutive weekdays minus the early morning rush and the scrabble for undone homework. But no , ours lasts for a hideous 3 weeks. As I write this I worry that my childern will read this and hate me , unless of course they're all grwon up by the time they see this, with kids of their own , in which case they'll understand.The trouble is they're at different schools with different holidays that each last a fortnight but on;y overlap by one week. Our relentless half term has gone something like this.

Day 1 - managable,limitless patience plus a spot of shopping
Day 2 - hideous swimming pool accident
Day 3 - recouperation
Day 4 - beoredom with recouperation
Dat 5 - trip to dental hospital
weekend - obligatory family outing, manageable
Day 6 hideous
Day 7 worse
Day 8 defies words
Day 9 actually OK
Day 10 trip back to dental hospital
yes and there's still another week to go.

Here's what we haven't done...
Theme parks - can't whilst recouperation underway
Museums - central London - you've gotta be kidding
Homework - can't face it during term time let alone during holidays


Here's what we have done
Shopping - lots
Eating - even more
Bickering - endless
Shouting - yep
Guilt - by the bucket load

Monday, 22 October 2007

Real Knowledge

My 8 year old has just told me that a great white shark can measure up to 6 metres in length . Now that's what I call a fact. So does it really matter if he struglles with 8 x 9 ? If you're surfing off the coast of Queensland (and lets hope he is rather than sitting behind a desk in some seedy suburb in later life ) I reckon it's better to know about about your predators than your 9 times tables. It's week 2 of half term and i could hug him. he's watching a National geographic DVD about Sharks but then I suppose it's only a matter of time before the Spongebob loop goes on.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Teeth

Teeth have always been a big part of my youngest son's life. He chipped his baby front tooth as a toddler. Sucking 'thumby' made them stick out at a jaunty angle and now at the age of 8 he's managed to knock out his front tooth completely on one of those wrteched swimming pool tube slides. The phone call from my husband went something like this ...
Husband : Max has had an accident
Me: Oh My God !
Husband: Don't worry he's alright
Me: Thank God
Husband ... but he has knocked out his front tooth
Me: Jesus Christ

With the tooth slopping around in a polystyrene cup of milk they legged it back home and straight to the dentists where I was waiting , pacing the floor. Our brilliant dentist looked noticably shocked when he saw the extent of the damage . Never a good sign. The impact had managed to wipe out most of his front gum leaving a large black hole where his lovely big teeth used to be. One hour later we left the surgery with a large metal staple holding the dddislodged tooth back in place . No tears , no fuss and this from a boy who would weep as a single droplet of blood would emerge from a tiny scratch. I was dumbstruck by his bravery as was the dentist.
I had always wondered how we'd managed to raise 2 boys to the respective ages of 12 and 8 without a trip to A&E so I suppose it was only a matter of time. I wanted to line the walls at home with feather cushions , every movement brought the possibility of dislodging the tooth again painfully nearer, but so far so good.
There is nothing more painful than the sight of your own injured child. It leaves a resounding impact on your sense of security and an intense desire to trade places to save them any pain. It will be slow progress now for the next few months and I don't think we'll forget this week in a hurry but at least we can look back on the evnt knowing that we both managed to survive.
As with all such events there is always a moment of lunacy and this was no exception. As my husband left the swimming pool scene of the crime ,clutching a blood soaked towel to my son's face, the manager pressed a couple of complimentary tickets for a return visit into his hand.

Sunday, 14 October 2007

The Battle of Hastings

You have to wonder at grown men and women who spend their weekend dressed as mediaeval foot soldiers playing out a reenactment of The Battle of Hastings dressed in shapeless sacking and in need of a good haircut. Having said that , we wandered around the boot camp stroking the fur pelts and poking the arrow heads to test their sharpness for a good hour, after which I was more than ready to swap my jeans and crocs for a linen tunic and rustle up a simmering pot of rabbit stew with the rest of them. Whether it was the jolly cameraderie and the jocular banter or just a desire to escape the dreariness of the school run and the misery of the supermarket was difficult to discern. I have to hand it to them though . No nylon sleeping bags or plastic groundsheets for this lot . Proper carved wooden beds strewn with soft downy rabbit skins under oily canvas with a real fire belching out delicious woodsmoke - now that's camping in style.
The audience comprised mostly ambitious parents dragging along their key stage 2 children who'd just got to that bit in their history curriculum. The parents watched the battle with interest whilst their children pushed eachother into the horse pooh and beat the hell out of eachother with wooden swords happy for the opportunity to infict real damage on their siblings under the guise of a bit of living history.
A good day was had by all and I couldn't help thinking, as we pulled into the Wild Bean Cafe petrol station cum M&S food mini store just off the A21 to buy a plastic wrapped pizza for the kids tea, that the option of a night under the stars with a steaming wooden bowl of vegetable broth would have been a far better option.

Saturday, 13 October 2007

Spooky or what ?

England have just beaten France in the Rugby World Cup semi final . I love the way that tripped off the tongue as if I knew what I was talking about . With about 15 minutes to go , England were trailing by one point and David began to get distraught at the prospect of us losing . With unwavering certainty , I reassured him that we would score in the final 7 minutes to win the match . And we did . How weird is that ? Wish I could predict more useful outcomes like how many GCEs my boys might pass or when interest rates are going up again. Still , should be grateful for albeit limited psychic powers. I wouldn't mind but I've never watched a rugby match in my life. Something similar happened once before . I went to see Man Utd play Arsenal on some corporate hospitality jolly never having seen a match in my life . The opening bars of the Match of the Day theme tune on the telly used to send me into a comatose deep sleep. We all had to bet on who would score the next goal and at what time and I guessed at Thierry Henri. Well he only went and scored the next goal . It was rather nice pretending that I had a bit of flair for these things especially as all the men present claimed to be footie experts.

Friday, 5 October 2007

My Apple iMac has changed my life. I've discovered iTunes - the soundtrack to my life.Enough already , don't want to turn into an apple bore.

How's it possible to fill the hours from 8.30am until 4pm with just 'stuff' and have nothing to show for it at the end of the day ? I've turned into a homebody. Nothing wrong with that. Saves me a fortune , not going into town to do some shopping. Home made tea costs pennies , think of the pounds I'm saving on those designer coffees. I love my scrap room and spending time in it so much that I'm terrified I might one day go off it and then what will I do ? It would be far worse then any ended affair, cut adrift with nothing to fire me up. Better not go off it then . But what is it in me that has to explore the possibility that I might ? Am I the only one that has alternative endings in my head , examines every 'what if' , allows such thoughts to even exist ? Or am I just a fanatical contingency planner ? The latter I hope.

Sunday, 16 September 2007

Junk In , Junk Out

Car boot sale this morning. Not me but my husband. Up at 6.30 am to go haggle with the sleazy dealers. Not me . Another hour in bed at least. I had to admire the fact that he worked like a dog to load up the van then spread it out on an old duvet cover and take 50p here and £1 there for a lifetime's collected rubbish. You have to lay bare in front of everyone the kind of pottery vase with a picture of a cat you thought was cute a couple of decades ago. But then so does everyone else. One thing struck me was the myriad of unwanted gifts still in their packaging. The jokily titled books that no-one ever reads, the terra cotta tagine, the wok set with the out of date sesame oil. I must hold that picture in my head when I'm out Christmas shopping in a few weeks time. A word of warning . Never let your children loose with a fiver . They'll come back with a jokily titled book and an old wok.

Friday, 17 August 2007

Holidays From Hell

.. and we haven't even left yet. A word of advice from personal experience NEVER EVER decide to clear out your teenage son's bedroom the day before you go on holiday ready for re-decorating. For a start you'll find things that scare you and you'll find out things about him that you wish you hadn't. You'll also find several years worth of sweet wrappers , a dozen pairs of used underpants behind the chest of drawers and looking on the bright side possibly everything that had ever gone missing in the house. There will also be broken toys that will make you weep, homework that had never been handed in and things you thought he'd treasured that he clearly didn't. Another caution - don't stay up til midnight doing this as you'll lose the will to live and everything will seem very very bleak.
Of course I didn't heed my own advice and as a consequence it's now -8 hours til departure to the ferry and I'm only just starting the ironing and digging out the swimming goggles. Another midnight weep is on the cards I think.
And whilst I'm on the subject of holidays , the kind of people who say they loved their holidays are either gluttons for punishment or very rich and have just returned from a fortnight at a 5 star resort in Mauritius having chilled papaya juice ferried to them under their thatched beach umberella. They won't have endured a carful of bickering horrors or another day of rain... or else they're just lying which is always possible.

Monday, 6 August 2007

I'm just un unpaid babysitter. Always available 24/7 . Usually get the phonecall about half an hour after he said he'd be home. It usually begins with something like .. some of the lads are going out for a meal or ... we were just going to go for a couple of pints ... or thought I might just join a few of the guys for a quick drink ...

Ironically I don't really care whether he comes home or not but here I am sitting on my own again. Can't remember when I last when I went to see a film I wanted to see or did anything spontaneously. I wonder how it feels just to go out on a whim at the drop of a hat and know that someone back home will just be there and take care of everything. I can't imagine how that would feel .The freedom.

Tuesday, 31 July 2007

I know I can't have blogged for ages...

... beacuse I forgot my password. I counted up how many passwords I needed the other day and stopped when I got to 20. LIfe is too complicated. No-one can remember that many passwords and if you write then down somewhere it defeats the object and if you use the same one then one hacker can get into every account you don't want him to.

I've been on a sanity break. A 3 night scrapbooking retreat in Swansea - that wasn't the sanity bit, the scrapbooking bit was. 3 blissfuls nights without snoring , questions or having to load the washing machine. All meals cooked for me and cleared away. New friends to make, laughs to be had, watching rubbish on telly at 2am. Large bottle of Baileys by my bedside an even larger bag of Revels in my hand. I need to do this twice a year. I very nearly did't come home again.

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Costa coffe for breakfast, doughnuts, chips for lunch by the quayside , shrimp net for the boys, nice cuppa tea , vist to a scrapbook shop , sunny but not too hot ... perfect day ? No , because an hour later I was sat at the Tinsley House Clinic being told that my youngest son had a bit of dyspraxia , a bit of dyslexia and some ADHD for good measure. I have of course heard it all before but last time , for my eldest son, it was more obvious. £350 later I leave with a couple of software programmes and a list of exercises and am told that it's nothing to worry about and everything will be fine. Tempting to believe it but only time will tell. Watch this space. Must buy shares in Omega 3 and 6 oil manufacturers.

Saturday, 7 July 2007

Prize Giving

Hands up who likes going to Prize Giving? Those with hands raised ... that wouldn't be beacuse your dearly beloved is receiving a prize would it ? Let's be honest who wants to watch the celebration of other people's children being heaped with applause and praise when yours are languishing somewhere near the bottom of the class. I couldn't help but notice that the names appearing in the programme were either offspring of teachers, the scholarship pupils or multiple recipients. Is it really neccesary for one child to win an assortment of 4 or 5 different awards ? How big are their trophy cabinets becasue they usually recieved the same awards the year before. I've never been able to understand why the parents of gifted academic children have money thrown at them in the form of scholarships whilst the parents of strugglers who've had to shell out for remedial tutors, educational psychologists and various bogus educational so-called experts become increasingly penniless and desperate.
My 7 year old son is tri-lingual. According to his Booklet 'All About Me' which I had the privilege of viewing at his school open morning, he can speak not only English , but American and Scottish. Bless.

Monday, 25 June 2007

I love it when you post a new comment and this site responds with unfailing cheerfulenss with the comment ' Your new post published successfully ' . If only real life were half as optimistic. Fancy posting a letter and hearing the postbox cheer ' Your letter posted successfully' or flushing the toilet to hear your lavatory happily inform you that 'Your deposit flushed satisfactorily'.
Driving down a quiet side road. Man pulls out in his car from where he's parked about 100 yds up ahead. Sees me coming but aint gonna stop so keeps driving right up to my car until he's an inch off my front bumper. Gesticulates rudely , take this to mean he'd like me to reverse back up the road from whence I've come .... he certainly isn't going to. Anything for a quiet life so I obligingly reverse back up the road . Meanwhile he's still an inch from my front bumper . Car behind me now so I have to slow down. Arsehole in front of me drives into my car then calls me an arrogant b**ch. No wonder people give up driving because they find it too intimidating. Clearly an angry sort of a***hole type so can only hope he dies prematurely of a heart attack. One lives in hope.

There's a menacing little blue rectangle on my screen , bottom left corner that says, unpromisingly, AOL not responding. If only life could be like that. I'd love to reply to unsolicited or unwanted correspondence or phonecalls with an abrupt little pharse like ... Pissed off, not responding. When some people are told they only have 6 months to live , they immediately set their affairs in order. Not me , I'd start telling it like it is. How fabulous to be able to be rude to evryone you'd ever hated and not care , it's not as if you'd want them turning up at your funeral so what've you got to lose ?

Sunday, 24 June 2007

Its very easy for a blog to fall into the category of moaning ground for everything that pisses you off. Much harder to find something positiv, uplifting and inspirational to write about . That may be because more things happen to piss you off than inspire you. I think the ratio is about 10:1 in which case for the last 20 moans I should have written at least 2 nice things. Maybe I should wait until something nice happens before blogging again but then that may not be for some time. See ? This is turning into another moan.

I've applied to become Sir Alan Sugar's next Apprentice . Mad isn't it ? I reckon it's about time he had a series devoted to SAHMs who want to get back into the workplace. The fact that I haven't even had an acknowledgement to my application probably doesn't bode well but I couldn't sit back and watch another bunch of hopeless cases screw things up. The one good thing about ageing is that it brings wisdom or maybe just the belief that you know how to do everything better than everyone else.

Just finished reading Mark Haddon's glorious book ' A Spot of Bother'. Sheer poetry and now I'm heartbroken that I've read it all and don't know what to read next that will come even vaguely close to being half as good.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

The spa industry is positively obscene. I've just come back from a day at the Sanctuary. This was a gift from my husband who should know me better. In desperation he took advice from a bunch of twenty something year olds at work ( all smaller than a size 8).I'm pushing 50 and haven't seen a size 8 since my teens. Never been a spa bunny , never will be. Doubtless there are a breed of women out there who thrive on that sort of experience.
Here's the opening paragraph in their brochure, written without a hint of irony ...
' Every woman deserves to feel like a goddess from time to time.' Sadly this is unlikely to happen at their spa. I really don't want to sound ungrateful but if you've never been to the Sanctuary , think London in the 80's, white paint turned off white over the years, plastic cups of lukewarm water, last weeks Hello magazine on the slightly shabby coffee tables. The champagne brunch was a dollop of tasteless scrambled egg served with a slice of vacuum packed smoked salmon and a lettuce leaf turning brown at the edges. Pudding if you can call it that was on the same plate , a dollop of youghurt served with a tinny little teaspoon washed down with a glass of cava ( not champagne) in a plastic glass .
My facial was administered by a dull therapist and smelt of slighly rancid oil as did the stiff bathrobes and everything else in the place. Too much black mould on the tiled swimming pool for my liking.
My idea of a spa is somewhere on a remote island with an infinity pool spilling into the Indian Ocean and an array of freshly sliced fruits attractively piled on a rustic platter. Not some shabby backstreet affair where the only sound you hear over the tedious whalesongs on an endless loop piped into every treatment room is the wail of an occassional siren out on the street.
What un ungrateful cow I am. I really don't deserve a sweet husband who treated me to what he thought would be ' realaxation and pure escapism' .... the brochure's words , not mine.

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Another day , another load in the washing machine another trip to Tesco's. I've just realised there's another good reason to Keep on Blogging ( apologies to Eddie Kendrix) is that when I'm dead and gone my family can see what my life was really like. There's this software you can get that counts how many times you use certain popular words in something you've written ... so for interesting people the words party, champagne, New York, loaded, Jimmy Choo, Harvey Nichols, Louis Vuitton, Paris, Mauritius, promotion would pop up several times . For mine the top ten list would probably read ....

Tescos
Sainsburys
Washing machine
Dishwasher
Homework
Ironing
PE Kit
Get off that computer ( do phrases count ??)
NOW !
Sorry

What would your top ten most used words include ??

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

I know the saying goes a picture speaks a thousand words but I'd like to change that to ..... a thousand words is better than a picture any day and anyway I haven't got time to work out how to upload pix and do the ironing and help the kids with their homework and prevent my world from descending into anarchy. So until further notice words are all you're gonna get here. It's been yet another 'one of those days'. I sometimes think that life is just like one big Apprentice ( as in the TV series) and that God is really Alan Sugar in another guise and that when we get to those pearly gates he's just going to tell us that we're fired.

Saturday, 9 June 2007

Can't find the post I mad the other day - wonder whether it's orbiting cyberspace now ? Oh there it is below - phew , all that writing and nothing to show for it !

Want to know how a 12 year old would spend £20 in the space of 2 hours ?
Here's how ...

2 bags of Starburst
1 bag of Fox's Glacier Mints
1 tube of Jalapeno flavoured Pringles
1 bag of smile face sweets
1 tube of hair gel to add the 17 others he already has
1 tube of Millions sweeties
1 XL milkshake from Shakeaway
and he lent his mate £3
3 bags of popcorn
Well at least the last act was unselfish.

Friday, 8 June 2007

I'm relying on this blog for inspiration further down the line when I run out of stories although I don't think that will ever happen.

I'm trying to remember the kind of things I talked about on the phone to my friends the minute I got home from school having just spent all day in their company. What more was there to say ? Did I relive every tiny detail or had I just remembered something new and interesting that I'd forgotten to share with them all day ? Or maybe I just wanted to go over the good bits and laugh about the bad. I suppose it must have been good for the soul because I seem to remember spending hours saying nothing much at all but it all seemde so important at the time.
I was transported back in time the other day when I inadvertantly picked up the phone to make a call and found my 12 year old already on the line chatting to a school friend. The converstaion went something like this.

My Son: Hey - wasn't it funny in Maths today .... (long 7 second pause)
Friend: What ?.... ( equally long pause)
My Son: You know ..... ( painfully long silence this time)
Friend: Oh yeah ..... ( you get the picture)

I don't think I ever did find out what happened in Maths but they seemed to know and enjoyed sharing the moment. I'm hoping that future overhearings will reveal that his converstaional technique has improved ... that seamless give and take, talk and listen ... he's still learning the art of converstaion. I hope he learns it well.

Sunday, 27 May 2007

Packing

A friend of mine leaves all her packing until there's only an hour left before she has to go. The logic being that it can only then waste an hour of her time. I start about 3 days before we leave . Ergo , it takes 3 days. It goes something like this ... wash every item of clothing in the house, end up wearing at least 50% of newly washed items in the 3 days leading up to holiday , re-wash every item with only 1 day to go, end up being up until 1am on the day of departure having to iron knickers dry. Will I ever learn? Why don't I just wash every item the day before we go then we can't wear it and get it all dirty again. There's something very OCD about my packing style too. Toiletries have to be new, washbag has to be scrubbed, no creases, clean shoes, emergency suppliesin duplicate. It's a nightmare going on holiday and even worse coming home again. What's the answer ? A virutal holiday, in a flotation tank, followed by 3 days sleep plus laundry service , online shopping spree with cash saved . Bliss.

Thursday, 10 May 2007

There's only one thing worse than being collared by one of your children's teachers and hearing the words .. 'I thought we ought to have a chat about your son' and that is coming home to an answermachine with a message from school that begins something along the lines of ... 'There's been an incident at school...'
I should know as I've had both. Although I'd rather have the ...'Incident at school type' as it normally involves nothing more serious than yet another prank or silly dismeanor , the last one involved a bottle of green food colouring, enough said.
The other variety involves your having to sit down in a teeny weeny chair that wouldn't accommodate an average sized bottom let alone my wayward arse. The teacher then bgins in a sympathetic tone that attempts to re-assure that it's nothing serious really which of course it is. Alarm bells start ringing then you hear the words , learning difficulty and your heart sinks. The next bit is a blur. There's usually something about it being better to catch it now whilst they're still young, then some feeble attempt at re-assurance along the lines of ' I'm sure it's nothing really' then there's the sting in the tail about how much it's all going to cost and all the while my only thoughts are of sadness , of lost potential , of nightmarish revision for exams , of the utter humiliation that you know your child is going to suffer knowing they're behind everyone else, of hating every other parent whose children win the prizes at the end of term , the scholarships the choice of whatever school they want to go to next. I've been here before. I was hoping for a normal school life for my youngest but sadly it's not to be. It's no consolation trying to belive the twaddle that you've been given difficult circumstances becaause you're strong and therefore better able to cope with them . I'd settle for mediocrity any day.

Sunday, 22 April 2007

With thanks to Wife in the North for her idea ...

Here is what I have been given this week...

A hard time by my 7 year old for making him switch off the TV
Too many unsolicited pizza delivery leaflets
Some lovely scrapbooking presents by my scrapping buddy Stef
An afternoon off courtesy of Jasper's mum
A guilty conscince by the list of spellings sitting untouched in my youngest son's holiday homework folder
Some coupons by the supermarket
A burnt hand by the Aga
A demand for £11 from Customs and Excise for an unwnated parcel
A clamping release fee of £300 , yes £300 that a whole other story
A good time by my new friends at North Cheam crop
Grief by my 12 yr old for having to do homework as well as go to school
A cup of tea every morning by my lovely husband

Here's what I have given this week
Not enough

Monday, 16 April 2007

Easter may be over but the easter holidays are not. Worse .. eldest son has to go back to school a whole week sooner than youngest. He's incensed. Never thought I'd reach the day when I said no to another Cadbury's Cream Egg. Even mini eggs have lost their appeal. Back in London after an idylic time at the cottage and the first thing I notice is the constant roar of jets overhead. Not quite the peaceful hoot of an owl or the restless baa of a sheep in the fields that I've been used to this last week. London stinks , literally. Saw a pigeon sadly strutting around a Bp garage forecourt on the North Circular Road on the way home and wondered why on earth it would choose to shack up in dirty old London when it could choose to live anywhere , then I realised that was me.

Monday, 2 April 2007

I've just tried to log in and was told unceremoniusly ... Blogger - unexpected error. Suppose that sums up my blog really.

If only the essays I had to write at school were as easy as blogging. I never think about what I'm going to write here. Somehow, the logging in process seems to prompt my inspiration. My 12 year old son announce today that he loved writing essays . You could have knocked me down with a feather. This is the same child that would hide if he saw me sharpening a pencil in anticipation of the potential horror at me asking him to come and do his English homework. His new found enthusiasm must have something to do with the fact that he 'writes' everything now straight onto his laptop. I winced at the thought of having to shell out £1500 on this piece of required school equipment but had I known then that it would have transformed his mistrust of the written word into such enthusiasm , I would happily have paid thousands more !

Spring has sprung and we're out in the garden again. We now know where the cat's toilet is located. Bang slap in the middle of the lawn. The grass is strewn with teh detritus of an exhausting day's play. Last year's summer toys look rather shabby having been wintered out for the last few months. Mind you the kids don't seem to mind. I'm determined to enjoy these first few flushes of sunny weather before the flies appear and the hospipe bans loom.

Tuesday, 27 March 2007

Identity

I'm wondering whether to post a photo of me on here or whether that might put people off. There's something wonderfully mysterious about remaining anonymous. I like the fact that griffitti supremo Banksy has never had a photo of himself published in order to protect his anonymity and therefore his ability to get away with what he does. Suppose I could always find a photo of a younger slimmer me , a bit like the passport photo I used to use for things like Rail Cards until I got stopped boarding a train coz my photo didn't look like the overweight middle-aged person I'd become. Everything has a price.

Saturday, 24 March 2007

Bullying is something that happens to other people just like car accidents. But no, it's alive and well and thriving in todays schools, my son's school in particular. When your 12 year old comes downstiars after bedtime and tells you that there's somthing important he wants to tell you, it's time to listen. When he tells you that the boys in the year above call himnames, take things out of his bag, deride the games he plays nad the musis he listens to, it's tome to act. One email and a phonecall to the school later and I'm re-assuringly told that the boys in question have been identified and spoken to and thta I should expect there to be no further abuse on the bus ride home. It remains to be seen as to whether this has any effect. Bullying of your children brings out the worst in you. It makes you want to step on that bus and box the culprits ears. Funny how instinct kicks in when your young are threatend. We may be incapable of changing channels on out TV without the aid of a remote device but when it comes to threatening beahaviour towards our offspring, suddenly some primeval reflex rears it's head and we're ready to kill. Strangely re-assuring in a perverse way.

Wednesday, 21 March 2007

Hate it when you wake up in the morning with a fantastic idea for your blog then forget it by the evening when you come to write it up. That'll teach me not to write things down immediately. In my twenties I could remember tons of stuff in my head. In my thirties I could still remember tons of stuff and knew more about what to do with it. By my forties I could remember about half of what I used to be able to remember but was too sleep deprived to be able to do anything with it and by my fifties I guess my memory will have shrivelled up to about the size of a pea. Use it or lose it. That's why I bought Brain Trainer. A sort of mental aerobics workout that keeps score on a daily basis of how much stupider I'm getting every day as if I needed reminding and who cares how fast I can answer 100 simple sums. Obviously I do , which is why I slam it's little lid shut if I can't beat my personal best of 1 minute 56 seconds. I may have no memory left but at least I haven't lost my competitive streak.

Friday, 16 March 2007

I can think of better things to do on a beautiful Spring like morning than sit and talk to a pensions advisor but I chose to be sensible today. Of course the first thing I wanted to ask was 'How soon can I get my hands on my cash and when can I retire?'
Felt a little bit like the people on Antiques Roadshow who bring along a family heirloom on the pretence that they simply want to establish what it is when really all they want to know is how much it's worth. There's a delicate game to be played here, decency v. personal greed and timing is critical. When asked if they plan to keep or sell , whilst they coyly confirm that it's been in the family for years and that they wouldn't dream of parting with it, you know that it'll be popping up on ebay before you can say Michael Aspel.

So here I am with a medium sized pot of cash that I can get my mits on, or at least 25% of it apparently, in 2 years time when I'm 50 . Being a pessimist I firmly subscribe to the bird in the hand school of thought. Who knows what lies around the corner.

Did anyone know it was World Maths Day on Wednesday ? I volunteered to help out at my son's school where a 9 year old smart arse asked me if I knew the difference between a trapezium and a trapezoid. In a sudden panic that I'd been outsmarted by some little upstart I told him that he didn't need to worry about that. For those who are curious, there is no difference. A trapezoid is what they call a trepezium in America - as if maths isn't confusing enough for children, why think up a whole alternative vocabulary ? What would they call a square ? A quadroid maybe ?

Wednesday, 7 March 2007

Friday, 2 March 2007

Chucking Stuff Out

Whay is it so difficult to do ? I'm not alone. Browse any bookshop these days and you'll see a selection of books showing you how to do it properly, I should know, I've bought a few in my time. I even filled in the questionnaires that rate how good you are at getting rid of the junk in your life. Can't remember now how I rated but like most of those multiple choice quizzes, I became aware half way through that I was answering with what I thought they wanted to hear and not what I actually do.

Apparently the value in throwing away an object that you no longer have any use for is far greater that the monetary value of what it originally cost you. Which means that as most of my newly acquired 'stuff' which has , by necessity, been cheap to buy, probably falls off the bottom of the scale in terms of value compared to what it's worth if I just got rid of it.

There are some pretty tough emotional strings tying me to a lot of the childrens stuff though. It's as if the act of chucking it out is a blatant ackowldgement of their passing childhood and who wants their babies to grow into disaffected teenagers ? It's bad enough that boys turn into men but I'm not ready to accept that my darling firstborn has not only outgrown his pram, sped through toddlerhood, started school and is now half way through his education and will be gone from the nest in less than 7 years. So if that means that the tattered box of My First Scrabble has to take up a few square inches of cupboard space for a few years more then so be it.

I am however, prepared to part with the dog-eared copies of ' How to De-Junk Your Life' and Life laundry' which clearly were of fleeting interest and left no lasting impression on me whatsoever.

Thursday, 1 March 2007

It's rather daunting clicking on a button that say ' New Post ' and finding a blank screen in front of you just waiting to be filled with pearls of wisdom. The very words suggest that it should be fresh, enlivening, full of promise like an unexpected parcel dropping onto your doormat. Instead I'm having to trawl through my mind to think of anything noteworthy that's happened to me in the last 24 hours. Don't think 'putting another wash on' will quite cut the mustard.

I'm treating these first few posts as my learning curve which at the moment resembles a vertical brick wall. Someone just asked me for my blog address and I didn't know what it was or how to give it ti them. And as for adding a photo ... well that will just have to wait until someone takes a decent photo of me. Very telling though that I have thousands of my family and friends but only 3 of me , none of which are acceptable. If digital photography had been around 20 years ago I might have got away with using one from my younger days and seeing if anyone noticed. I tried that trick on an old British Rail card (see - that dates me already) until I got stopped at a barrier and accused of fraudulently using someone else's card.

Two really nice things have happened to me today, so I'm sitting back and waiting for the hatrick but nervous that the 'no pleasure without pain' principle will kick in at any minute.

Tuesday, 27 February 2007

Good Mummy / Bad Mummy

It works a bit like good cop/bad cop. If your children catch you being good mummy every day they'll expect it, whereas if you slip form time to time and go watch QVC in the bedroom they'll be delighted with you when you return to being good mummy and play with them. Either way you still feel guilty if you're not playing UNO, Scrabble or Hangman ( all EAGs so therefore OK ) non-stop when they're ill off school. I'm waiting for the Times Supplement research that reassures me that all children require at least 2 hours TV a day if they are to grow up well adjusted and socially acceptable.

( EAG = Educationally Acceptable Game - don'y you just hate TLAs ??)

(TLA = three letter abbreviation )

Sunday, 25 February 2007

It's always nerve wracking having time to yourself to do something rather lovely that you've been looking forward to. You know you're always going to have to 'pay' for it in some way or other. As I turned the corner in the car and approached our house, I fantasised about what it might be like to drive past and keep on going. Of course that's not an option so I dutifully pulled up outside the house and wondered what fresh new hell awaited me inside. Actually it wasn't as bad as I'd anticipated but it didn't take long to get sucked back into domesticity, another wash on , what's for tea , have you done your homework yet ? Same old , same old.

Saturday, 24 February 2007

Day One in the House

It's been 'one of those' days. Enough said.