Friday 30 January 2009


The last time I received flowers from my husband was Mother's Day 2008 - nearly a year ago. Today I was choosing my '"Dine In for £10" selection from M&S ( lasagna, garlic ciabatta , profiteroles and red plonk in case you're interested) when I came across a bunch of pale pink tulips. I felt compelled to buy them. One hour later my husband walked through the door with a bunch of flowers from M&S - telepathy or what. Now I wonder if I gazed long enough at an online ad for the lovely cream Kitchenaid Food Mixer, would it have the same effect ? Unlikely but I can at least try.

In one hour's time I'm going to watch my youngest son play rugby.

That tripped off the tongue as if it's something I do every week . In fact this is the first time I will ever have done this. Most of the Mum's at his school can be heard to say this all the time - veterans of the touchline.

For us it's a first. He is 9 years old and this is the first time he has ever been selected to represent his school. He can run and catch a ball, follow instructions and knows how to give and take in a team situation and yet this is the first time he has ever been asked to demonstrate this. He may not be A team material but he doesn't have 2 left feet or a white stick.

If I ruled the world, or at least his school, I would make sure that every single child was allowed to feel that crumb of pride as they caught sight of a parent on the sideline, cheering them on in sub zero teperatures. That thrill of seeing their name in print on the fixtures notice-board , that sense of belonging , that they had made it through the selection process , that they were wanted. But no - survival of the fittest prevails and is alive and kicking in the public school system. If you are in the football team, you are likely to be in the rugby team, the cricket team , the swimming team, the badminton team , the athletics squad, the "look Mum I'm the best" team . And if you're not then you'll be left standing in the corridor wondering why you're never quite good enough.

Thursday 29 January 2009

Grand Designs

Yep ... usual couple - no kids then suddenly they get pregnant having shelled out nearly half a million on a landslide of mud with a half decent view. They then spend another half a million ( yeah like right ) on having a bespoke titanium plated, laser drilled, industrial sized staircase hand made by some master craftsman in the Orkneys ( which of course they then have to visit to make sure they've got the exact shade of metal right) whereupon disaster strikes and they blow the budget and think what the hell , we've always wanted a warehouse sized wetroom in the middle of the 'atrium' let's just blow another half a million and be done with it.

What I wanted to know was .... where were all the trappings that come with a baby ? When my boys were babies every square inch was filled with tubs of pastel coloured nappy wipes, ugly sterilising units and hideous primary coloured baby gyms. Presumably their baby is only allowed to have paraphernalia if it matches the shade of high gloss worktops they had specially commissioned for their kitchen. Poor kid ... no Thomas the Tank Engine for you , here's a copy of Architectural Digest to chew on.

Wednesday 28 January 2009


Routine used to bore me rigid. Routine was bad. Now routine is good.

Having children makes you like this. From day one, before you've even left the hospital ( but just after they come round and talk to you about contraception) you're told that you have to get the baby into a routine or else everything will go pear-shaped. What they don't tell you is that everything will go pear-shaped anyway but you still stick to the routine.

Routine becomes a lifeline which enables you to make some sense of the shock of new motherhood. It quickly turns into a millstone round your neck but you stick doggedly to it, just in case discarding it causes everything to go even more pear-shaped. By this time you are so entrenched in your routine that to break out of it would send seismic shock-waves through your life , the ripples from which would stay with you until old age.

My routine is now characterised by what we have for dinner every night and what sports kit the boys need for school that day. So yesterday was not Tuesday but an amalgam of pasta bake and PE and today was chicken and swimming.

Tonight I'm breaking with routine and watching TV. Kevin McCloud returns with a new series of Grand Designs . This will presumably have been recorded before the comically named Credit Crunch and will doubtless feature a string of spendthrift, aspirational, design slaves who will whine at having to cut back on the granite toilet seats because their limestone flooring has gone over budget by thirty grand.

And in case you were wondering tomorrow is pizza and rugby.

Tuesday 27 January 2009

Husband has just rung to say he won't be home for dinner , that he's going out with 2 colleagues to a Thai restaurant for dinner. I find myself wondering 2 things ....

1. What it must be like to come home to a meal all prepared for you any evening you want
2. What it must be like to be able to decide at the drop of a hat not to eat that dinner but to choose an alternative

I'm trying to remember back to when I was working and both the boys were little , about whether I ever just rang home and announced alternative dinner plans and I can safely say I never did. I'm also wondering what it must be like to drift from day to day without ever having to load up a supermarket trolley or wonder what on earth to cook or who might help the boys with their homework. All this wondering isn't doing me any good and anyway , got to go , I can hear the pasta boiling over downstairs.

Monday 26 January 2009

I'm not cut out to do housework

I know this because every time I find myself scraping soap scum out of the shower tray I feel this tidal wave of resentment wash over me. It's the same when I wade through an interminable pile of ironing or drag the hoover round the living room carpet and see the clods of popcorn get sucked up into the void from underneath the sofa.
I worked hard , went to university , got a good degree , clawed my way right to the very top of the glass ceiling and still ended up as an unpaid housemaid. My husband meanwhile gets to talk to grown ups every single day , has good days and bad days but at least feels fulfilled , stretched, challenged. Gets to moan about how hard he works to bring home a salary. How challenged can you feel at tipping out the food waste into the re-cycling bin that stinks of last nights diner and the night before's and the night before that. Today I went to the supermarket. I tipped the same old products into the trolley , hauled them out onto the conveyor belt , tipped them back into the trolley , hauled them out of the trolley into the boot of the car , dragged them out of the boot of the car and into the fridge or kitchen cupboards. I'm getting bored just writing about it let alone doing it week in week out.
If I had daughters I'd tell them not to aspire to anything as it will all end up the same way . How depressing is that ?

Sunday 25 January 2009

It just goes to show...

...that if you use timeless classics and neutral shades then you can get away with decorating every 10 years , although you still can't get those ghastly dark stains above radiators to disappear. We decorated our living room over a decade ago with lovely Farrow and Ball colours and I collected a few antique bits and bob, nothing expensive - just flea market finds, to go on the mantelpiece. There's seagrass on the floor and some brown leather chests about the place plus a lovely rosewood writing desk that belonged to my Great Grandmother. Add a couple of taupe leather sofas ( only DFS so bargain prices ) and my one indulgence at the other end of the scale a ludicrously expensive square leather table from the Conran Shop which I bought back in 1988 ( well , I was working back then and still was able to use the phrase disposable income) and it really does still look good. I'm not saying that IKEA isn't good value but I can't help thinking that if everything was laminate and plastic it wouldn't half look awful by now. Tonight I'm going to sit in there with a glass of something nice and chilled , light a few candles and admire.

Friday 23 January 2009

Just finished a Layout for Total Papercrafts called " Something Wonderful Happens When I Step Into My Scraproom" Sounds cheesy I know but it's true. It's the equivalent of a tree house when I was a child or my dad in his potting shed. I'm surrounded my lovelieness and pretty things. It's a bit like being in the best haberdashers in the world.... buttons, ribbons, pretty papers. Who wouldn't feel wonderful ?! I think the world would be a happier place if we all had our own 'scraprooms' to envelop ourselves in. A sort of flotation tank experience with pretty colours.

Thursday 22 January 2009

Ebb and Flow

More ebb than flow today . One step forward , two steps back. January blues ? No something , much deeper.
Just when you think you're balancing , albeit precariously , on a fine line with some degree of skill , something or someone comes along and upstes the equilibrium , My new word for 2009 was supposed to be resilience . How does that quote go ? If you can hold your hold your head together whilst other all around are losing there's ... or something like that... is a good modus operandi. I wish I were more resilient . One thing topples and then it's like a domino run , the whole lot comes crashing down. Still it could be worse ... it could be your first day on the new job .... as President of the US. Poor bugger . Who'd want that job ?

Monday 19 January 2009

Creeping Homogeneity

I saw something awful on a potato packet today . No , not the lesser spotted potato weevil, something FAR worse. It was printed on a label attached to the bag and it read ...
Size 35-40mm. I wondered if maybe it had come unstuck from a shoebox and mistakenly attached itself to my bag of potatoes but no.
It referred to the size of the potatoes in the bag. Every single little spud had been measured ( wonder if they have the equivalent of a Weight Watchers scale ? ) in order to qualify for this bag. Some poor little blighter probably measured in at 41 mm and got given his marching ( or should that be mashing ?) orders. I like my spuds big ... and small .... and somewhere in between. I don't need them to be within strict parameters. I like them to taste nice especially when drizzled with butter . Size as they say ... just doesn't matter.

Delayed Gratification

...or what we'd call eating your greens before the chips.
This is how it works. You go to Sainsbury's , traipse round for an hour shoving the same old same old into your trolley , haul it all out of the trolley , onto the conveyor belt, back into the trolley, out of the trolley into the car, out of the car into the hallway, out of the hallway, into the kitchen , off the kitchen floor and into the fridge or cupboard.
The idea is , you do all of that BEFORE you get to do anything nice for the day. Simple ... delayed gratification. Then again , there's always Ocado . It's a no-brainer really.

Friday 16 January 2009

To move or not to move

Wouldn't you know it. We decide to move house when property prices hit an all time record slump since slumps have been recorded. Sometimes you have to look at an awful lot of other people's house until you realize that you quite like the one you already live in. Only trouble is ours isn't where we need to it to be.

Another first yesterday. I phoned a radio phone-in. Vanessa Feltz's actually. I was driving round the M25 listening to a discussion about the menopause and felt compelled to pull off the motor-way and phone in. I was put on hold with some dubious re-assurance form the producer that he'd try his best to get me on. Next thing I know I hear Vanessa say " and now we're going to Claire in Teddington". It was all rather hysterical actually. May well do that again. I was convinced that I must have burbled on incoherently but when I listened to it today on i-player what I said sort of meant sense thankfully.

So they're going to build another runway at Heathrow. These days they slap preservation orders on pavements if the local community of frogs use it as a breeding ground and yet they can obliterate a whole village community. Gordon Brown's turning out to be worse than Tony Blair if that were ever possible.