Saturday, 31 December 2011

DEAR BOSS

My partner excels at romantic gestures. This year he bought me a book, wrapped in the prettiest red paper, with the magical word ‘Love’ in the title.  I know what you’re thinking. Is it ‘Love in the Time of Cholera’ by Gabriel Garcia Marquez? Is it ‘Love’ by Toni Morrison? Well no, it isn’t either of these. Great works of literary fiction only claim to change your life; my partner has bigger ambitions. His gift was a self-help book that will change my life for real. A book called ‘How to Get A Job You’ll Love’. 

Thanks, baby. 

You see, for a long time now, I’ve been worrying that all this pissing about raising my kids is below me. I’ve longed for a book that will help me get off my fat, lazy, stay-at-home-mummy ass (covered as it is in oozing bedsores from sitting down reading stories to my kids) into the world of REAL work.      

Even as I write, there are tears of gratitude welling up in my eyes. So moved am I by his gesture that I feel compelled to share with you a list I’ve compiled in response to one of the book’s first exercises; which is to create a ‘cathartic’ list of all the things I have disliked about work in the past.

So here goes:

1.     I don't like meetings. For a start, no one listens to me. My partner reckons it’s because I speak at a pitch audible only to whales, elephants, or supernatural beings blessed with the power of super-hearing. And yet, on the rare occasion that I do say something interesting, it’s funny how one or other of my colleagues (usually a male) will make EXACTLY the same observation a few minutes later. As if by magic. Lately, I’ve been secretly thinking (though it’s not in the book) that the only way forward is to attend meetings equipped with a massive strap-on cock and shout my ideas really loudly into a fucking megaphone. See if that works.

Alternatively I could get my tits out. Which brings me to the second point…

2.     Recently I have read reviews of a book by sociologist Catherine Hakim called ‘Erotic Capital’, in which she argues that women should be using sex appeal to get ahead in the boardroom. My feeling is that Catherine Hakim’s strategies might work fine until you’re 30. Taken to extremes, you might even find that fellating your boss on the boardroom table gets you a mini-promotion (although never his job). By the time you reach 40, however, you will have realised that wearing a short skirt into the office is more likely to provoke violent gag reflexes. Suddenly you have to draw on other skills, like the ability to assert yourself. So, Catherine Hakim. Listen with mother. I know I sound a little crazy, a little emotional, even hormonal (*gasp*) - but what I think I’m trying to say is this: shut the fuck up, you tedious reactionary.  

3.   I don’t like inflexibility in the workplace. For instance, I drop my kids off at school at nine o’clock in the morning. This is what I do. I like to give them a kiss and a cuddle, and see them off into the world. I'm such a fucking wet. Just because YOU want me to be in the office by nine o'clock in the morning for no other reason than because someone in the 1950s said that business hours constituted 9am until 5pm, it doesn’t mean it has to be that way forever and ever. PS: I’m not lazy. I'd be there if there were a meeting, or something important, but I don’t get why I have to be there at 9.00am sharp, just so that I don’t miss the critical life-or-death moment when the kettle boils, and everyone makes their morning tea, and stands around for absolutely aeons discussing the tele. 

4.    I don’t like leaving my kids in the care of other people all day every day for the whole of their childhood. 

Anyway, as you can plainly see, I’m making progress. I’m thinking positively. I’m all psyched up. I’m supposed to write approximately ten points before I move on to the second exercise, then, I’m supposed to read the whole book, but hell gals, I think I’m ready! I’m growing balls as I write. I’m crushing up all the maternal bones in my body and making lines of cocaine from them. I’m even thinking I should share this blog post with my contacts on Linkedin? What do’ya think? Fuck, I’m even thinking I’m going to burn that soppy po-faced Oliver James’s book ‘How Not to F**k Them Up' this very minute, and phone the child-catcher in 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang', see if he's got spaces ...  

It’s gonna be great.




Monday, 19 December 2011

SEX IN A COLD CLIMATE


Normally I’m a fun-loving kind of gal. I like playing mummies and daddies. I like doing the matrimonial polka. I like taking a turn on the hobbyhorse. 

I say normally, because there are three exceptions to this rule. These are a) during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy; b) during any episode of d&v but especially when it's that motherfucker Norovirus; c) when it’s cold.

There is NO WAY I’m lifting up my petticoats and/or traditional cotton winceyette full-length long-sleeved nightdress* in this weather.  I like my body the way it is, thanks very much, not all blue and puffy and lifeless. As it happens, I think my partner feels the same way. Yesterday he bought a Dreamland luxury super-king-size heated mattress cover, which has five settings, including a super-fast pre-heat option, a dual control unit that allows each side of the bed to be set at different temperatures, an all-night timer, an elasticated skirt, and an extra foot warmth section. Which says it all. 

You see, there was a time when an electric blanket that you could leave-on-all-night would have been a diabolical health and safety hazard, if you know what I mean.  

It helps neither of us that my personal hygiene takes a nosedive in the cold.

Take a shower? Are you crazy?  Why not water-board myself in the face with jugs of liquid nitrogen? Why not drill myself a bathing hole in the eastern Antarctica ice mass? Listen, I can't even extend a bare arm into the shower cubicle to turn the water on. I say water, but it's not water, not really. It is the Icy Ejaculate of the Antichrist. (Sometimes I try disassociating myself from my arm. No no no, I say to myself, it doesn’t matter that there are horizontal jets of satanic spume pounding against your skin, because it isn’t your arm!! It is a joke arm, a prosthetic limb. Just look at it dangling there, white and pimply, with shameful little brown hairs standing on end, ha ha ha, ha ha ha!!!) 

I will concede, of course, that things are momentarily better once you’re in the shower, once the violent shivering and the mental confusion abates. But then, I have to step out again. Like Captain Oates. 

I find the bath less distressing, but only marginally. You still have to get out, goddamit.  You still have about 30 seconds to acclimatize before you experience total cellular and metabolic shut down. And of course, the towel heater is never on, is it?  

It is an absolute nightmare. So I stay dirty. And not in that way. Not til spring...



* I forgot to say that the winceyette nightdress of which I speak also features a delicate and very flattering pink floral print. (Oh, god, no! Get a friggin tissue for godsakes!) 

PS: My partner has just pointed out that he bought the Dreamland luxury heated mattress cover for me - and me only. There is never any diminishment of his sex drive in the cold, he says. He has never even heated his side of the mattress. Like Bear Grylls, he would probably prefer to spend the night suspended from a bivoucac on an ice shelf in the south pole. What a guy.  

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

An A-Z of Christmas Humbug: C is for Christmas Concert

Today I have a dead ass. A bum so numb I might as well have a) scooped out a load of silicon gel from one of my baby daughter’s sodden nappies, blended it up with porridge, and PVA glue, and hairy chunks of Lego from under the sofa, and injected the whole bloody lot of it straight into my ass cleft, or b) tattoo’d a detailed Technicolor picture of a Stage 4 Bedsore on each of my ass cheeks with a spectacularly dirty needle and then waited for Life to mimic Art.

That’s how fucked-up my bottom is.

It’s all the fault of the school Christmas concert. Of course.

I should have known something was up as soon as I saw one of the other mummies carrying a pair of PINK MATCHING CUSHIONS into the school hall a whole half an hour before the concert goddammit. But I was already misty-eyed at the thought of my little ones, singing their hearts out, solemnly saying their one line, looking for their mummy and their daddy in the audience, and I didn’t register.

In fact, I didn’t really register until I was queuing right up alongside the school hall windows and saw hundreds of TINY CHAIRS arranged in neat rows inside the hall. My first thought was that the tiny chairs might be props. Perhaps we were about to see something different - not the usual nativity play - but a more subversive production, like, oh, I don’t know, a blackly comic play entitled something like Goldilocks Goes Fuckin Ape-Shit*. That kind of thing. Or, perhaps we were expecting a coach-load of Oompa-Loompas, or munchkins, or hobbits.

Of course, I doubt I would have brought a pair of pink matching cushions to the school Christmas concert even if I had known about the size and hardness of the chairs. For a start, I don’t like looking like a total TIT. And I like looking like a TWONK even less. (Even though I almost always do). Secondly, I only own one pair of matching cushions, and one of the pair features a picture of a giant, with a willy, drawn by one of my children in indelible permanent marker. And I don’t want to be sitting on a giant’s willy in my children’s Christmas concert.  (Giant willy, maybe; giant’s willy, no.) To be honest though, I doubt I would have brought a pair of matching pink cushions to the school Christmas concert even if I had to sit on a 6ft cactus, or on one of those medieval Judas chairs, or an electric chair, or a spike, or a friggin Bumbo, or if they were the only things between myself, and a nail bomber. OK, I’ve crossed the line now. I know I have. I’m very sorry.

But this is how I feel about matching pink cushions.

I enjoyed the concert, of course I did. I had to swallow down hard as my little boy, in his ‘carol singer’ costume, sang a word-perfect rendition of a Christmas carol, and dutifully wore his multi-coloured scarf and gloves set, in spite of the centrally-heated school hall. I did the same when my beautiful daughter, in her wings and sparkly pink tights, danced with the other fairies, and said her line, and kept her cool, in spite of the fact that she was bricking it.  

And if my ass dies, as it will, it will have been worth it.

* If anybody wants to commission me to write ‘Goldilocks goes Fuckin Ape-Shit’, I’m available. ‘Goldilocks Goes Fuckin Mental’ would work just as well as a title. The play would of course be a critique of society’s fetishistic attachment to possessions and property, and of our inability to share, a position represented by The Three Bears…

P.S: If you are the person who took the pink cushions to the school production, I’m only jealous. 

P.P.S: This is probably the last in my A-Z of Christmas Humbug installments. From now on, this series of blogs will be retrospectively known as An ABC of Christmas Humbug. I'm bloody knackered okay. 

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

An A-Z of Christmas Humbug: B is for ...

Operator: Hello, emergency services operator. Which service do you require?
Caller: Something’s happened. I just got home. You’ve got to send someone. You need to send someone quick as you bloody can. Please. For fucksakes ... please...
Operator: Please calm down sir. What service do you require? What is the nature of your emergency?
Caller: I got home. Something’s happened. I think… maybe … there’s a body in the house. Maybe an animal ... I can’t walk in the house I’m telling you …dunno wot the fuck it is. I’m on the phone in the hallway and I can’t walk in the house … it’s too much …there’s this stench from hell … it’s on my clothes on my skin in my mouth in my fuckin throat I can’t breathe … it’s coming at me like this wall of pure shit you’ve got to believe me … you can almost see it…
Operator: You need to calm down sir.
Caller: Its like being tied to a fucking corpse I’m telling you … I feel like I’m gonna black out … you've got to send someone, got to send someone. Oh, no, hang on, sorry, no … What d’you say? What did you say love? My wife’s just walked into the hallway. Didn’t know she was here, swear to Christ I didn’t! What love … you are kidding me? Sprouts?
Operator: Slow down sir. You said sprouts?
Caller: It’s my wife. She was cooking Brussel Sprouts, must have forgotten to put the extractor on and shit, silly cow. Yeah, yeah, yeah I know. No I’m fine sir, no really, that’s not necessary. I’ll be ok. Yeah, no, I’m ok.

Happy Christmas 

PS I know the title suggests a daily blog in the run up to Christmas. However, as this series is dedicated to the practice of Total Festive Fuckwittage (see previous blog), and to exploring emotions like disappointment, guilt, and, of course, feelings of failure, it's highly unlikely to happen. Sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry mummy please love me mummy please I'm so sorry sorry sorry 

Saturday, 3 December 2011

An A-Z of Christmas Humbug: A is for Advent Calendar.

Gosh darn it and bugger, dear readers! It seems I have quite forgotten to MAKE the children an Advent Calendar!!!

In spite of weeks of trying to get myself into the Christmas spirit, including excessive and uncontrollable drooling over vintage baubles, clandestine hoarding of festive issues of 'Ideal Home' and 'Country Living' magazine, and to top it all, seeing troubling visions of Nigella just before I fall asleep every night (her face and head, but with the body of an Outdoor-Reared Organic Goose), I have once again failed to live up to expectations. Yes, FAILED.

It was meant to be the perfect way to start the perfect Christmas. A homemade ‘eco’ advent calendar fashioned from recycled tin cans, decorated by the children as a wintry after-school activity, with naif squiggly dates crayoned on recycled cardboard discs. Just divine!!!! I imagined it sitting there - on the kitchen mantelpiece above the range - amidst sprigs of artfully arranged greenery (from Sunday afternoon family walks in the forest), and homemade bunting made from recycled copies of The Guardian. (If you're inspired to make one yourself, you could use The Financial Times; the red print has a subtle Christmassy character. But please, please, for the love of God and the baby Jesus, please don’t use The Sun, or * sucks teeth with horror, almost keels over just thinking about it* ANY of the red-tops.)

But now, the dream is over, and I have already succumbed to one of the last branded chocolate advent calendars in the local Gro-Tesquo Express range. The window ‘hinges’ are only partly perforated, so I have to use a laser to open them, and there is a further layer of lacerating foil curtain to penetrate. To extract the chocolate, I need to use a pair of precision tweezers. But needless to say, it’s so worth it when you taste the chocolate.

It will be the same with the rest of Christmas, of course. I will probably let all my friends down, and my family, BUT MOST OF ALL MYSELF. There will be missed culinary deadlines, broken Christmas lights, recurring feelings of failure and inadequacy, and worst of all, a tiny misplaced slip of paper featuring the names of those I must buy for in my street’s ‘Secret Santa’ draw. (Yes, dear neighbours, I did consider a face-to-face confession, but blogging about it is less painful, less humiliating…)

On a positive note, there will be a charming musical reindeer from my aunt, and Quality Street, and gravy granules, and the most vulgar electric blue tinsel in the whole of Christendom, and an artificial tree decorated by an excited six and four year old, and a baby. And it won’t be chic, but it will be ours.

Happy Christmas!

PS: Yes I do realise it’s December 3rd and a piece on advent calendars should be published on december 1stBut this is all part of the joys of Total Festive Fuckwittage.

PPS: I am deeply indebted to FellatioNelson’s Ponce-tastic Christmas thread on Mumsnet for inspiring me to write this blog. 

Monday, 28 November 2011

ON VERSATILITY


There seems to have been a terrible mistake. Someone has nominated me for The Versatile Blogger Award. (Older Mum)

Versatile is not a word I associate with myself. Versatile is a word I associate with someone who is able to write a novel, become the youngest-ever managing director of a UK plc, sack a shed-load of people, and pleasure her husband AT THE SAME TIME AS giving birth. Another way of describing this kind of person might be Karren Brady*. Or smug c**t. By contrast, there are only two things I do really well. They are:  

Swearing
Making beans on toast

However, as I am spectacularly needy and crave instant gratification, there is no way I’m turning this award down, so I must now follow the Versatile Blogger Award rules of acceptance. In other words, I must tell you seven things about myself. 

 
  (Here it is. A Design Classic, I think you’ll agree.)

1. I once challenged Dani Behr to a popularity contest. This humiliating episode happened at the wrap party for a film my partner was working on. There I was, having a laugh with crew and cast members (living the dream), when the film’s star, Dani Behr, made her entrance. “Who wants to be in my gang?” she shouted. “No”, I shouted, hysterically. “Who wants to be in my gang?” I don’t know what I was thinking. I must have been coming down with something, like, erm, what do you call it again, oh yes, PSYCHOSIS. Anyway, to cut a long story short, guess who won the contest? Well let me give you a clue. It begins with the letters D.A.N.I.B.E.H.R.

2. I forget birthdays, particularly the birthdays of extremely elderly relatives. Relatives who may not make it through another calendar year. My mother thinks it’s because I’m childish and think of nobody but myself. Yeah yeah, whatever. Does my face look bovvered?

3. I have larger than average boobs. Or as I fondly call them, mildreds, or sometimes norks if they’re a fraction perkier. Anyway, you get the picture. (What do you mean you’ve already got the picture? What picture! It wasn’t me for godsakes!! I wasn’t even at the museum fundraising gala dinner…)

4. I loathe the Royal Family. I am not their subject. I am a citizen. Monty Python says it better than me.



5. I speak Welsh. Welsh is Europe’s oldest living language. Sadly it’s also endangered. There there … have a tissue.  (Listen, if you feel so badly, give me some money, say 50K, and I’ll make sure it goes towards preserving the language. Quite a few of my mates speak the lingo, so I was thinking along the lines of a grassroots ‘awareness-raising’ programme at the pub … or in some forest-clearing surrounded by standing stones … no, hang on, probably the pub, where we all speak Welsh all night. 50k should fund about a month’s work. )

6. I’m also a Druid. Not all Welsh speakers are Druids: a minority are normal people. But when I was a teenager, my mother forced me to sit a Druids entrance examination. Consequently, I was made to take part in an initiation ceremony featuring an elderly gentleman unsheathing his Grand Sword and another playing on his Horn of Plenty. Gets you hot under the collar doesn’t it? No? Not at all? Really? Oh well, I suppose it is very NICHE.

7. I don’t have threadworms. (I’m not being gratuitous. I’m only mentioning it because, as I was vacuuming the lounge the other day  - living the dream again - I received an entirely unprovoked tweet from a friend: “Thought you’d like to know. Threadworms can live in your fanjita.” My first thought was: I don’t know why my friend thinks it’s okay to spam me with zoological obscenities. On reflection, I can see that she was simply passing on an important public health information message. Of course she was.

Now I’m going to pass the award on to lots of other bloggers, as the rules state. I have no idea whether they’re versatile, but I know they’re all sluts for awards.

All Sweetness and Life – whose blog is very honest, very funny, very feisty.  

Single Older Mum - who is getting her 'va-va-voom' back after life with ‘Shitty Ex-Husband’.

Yes We Do Have A TV - who writes a great blog, and who will one day pass her driving test.


*Why does Karren Brady spell her name with two ‘r’ s? I am the only person in the world who is incensed by this choice? She may be one of the most influential women in the greater solar system, and have nice hair, but I’m a better speller, that’s for sure.

PS: Before anyone mentions it, I did attend my neighbours’ royal wedding tea party. I’m not a killjoy, I love my neighbours, I wanted my kids to have a good time, and I’m as partial as anyone to cupcakes and daytime binge-drinking. This doesn’t change the fact that watching Kate and William getting married was like being “f**ked in the arse whilst being shown a picture of kittens”, as quoted by Mumsnet's 'Tethers End'. Pass me the bubbly. Vive La Republic! 

Friday, 18 November 2011

THE VEGGIE'S FULL-TIME

Lately, I’ve been thinking about F. R David. Remember him? Tinted sunglasses worn inside? No? Bouffant hair? No? Utter twat? Yeah, yeah, you got it, that’s him. Wrote the song “Words’.  Well, the reason I’ve been thinking about him is because that plaintive opening line, “Words don’t come easy to me” - whilst not a lyric that will ever rival the expressions of youthful alienation found in the works of Kerouac, or the representations of quotidian thought found in, say, James Joyce - is nevertheless a line that could easily describe me.

You see, every day this week has brought with it a phrase or word that I have literally NEVER EVER heard before. In fact, there have been a couple of occasions when I’ve thought: I’ve probably just had a stroke and lost the capacity to understand language, forever.

Last Saturday, for instance, we took the kids to McDonalds.  (Now before some of you keel over with horror, this is NOT my normal routine. Normally, I would plate up a lovingly prepared lunch of artisan-baked breads and antipasti, or homemade pizza topped with pear, prosciutto, and gorgonzola, which the kids adore …) But last Saturday, we were busy, and I thought, heck, what’s wrong with eating the occasional chicken vagina with a bucket of salt? But when we arrived at the drive-in window to collect our ‘food’, we were greeted with an empty-handed waitress who twitched a little, and said, “Veggie’s full-time.”

Veggie’s full-time?

VEGGIE’S FULL-TIME????????????????????

Sorry love, but I don’t speak Wookie.

My partner looked at me, and I looked back (which is extremely rare, as we are both normally locked in our own private spheres of hell). The waitress sensed we were struggling.  She repeated herself, this time adding the definite article, a cheeky verb phrase.

“The veggie is full-time”, she said.

Shit, I don’t mean to be rude love, but I still don’t speak Wookie.

Thankfully, my partner finally twigged. “Do you mean the veggie-burgers take longer?” he said. He is a genius, my partner. He has such a feeling for context, for the underlying structures that govern human language, he is like Chomsky, or fucking Derrida. The girl nodded. “Park b’there”, she said, twitching again, this time in the direction of the parked order bays.

It's not the first time. 

A few days earlier, I lost the rectangular ‘stick-on bit’ of my car radio/CD. I was trying to explain this to someone, when they laughed out loud and said, “Do you mean the face-off?” The face-off? ‘Face-Off’ is a film by John Woo, with Nicholas Cage and John Travolta. Face-off is another word for a confrontation, isn’t it? It’s also the beginning of a game of ice-hockey, isn’t it? ISN’T IT? But if it is the word for the rectangular stick-on bit of my car radio, then how come you know this?  And I don’t? What is wrong with me?  

What is wrong with me?  (weeps)

I blame my mother, of course. My mother replaces almost all proper nouns with the words ‘thing’, ‘thingy’ and ‘thingummyjig’. A conversation with my mother goes something like this:

Mother: Have you seen that thing I brought up with me? I hope I haven’t left it in the thing.
Me: For the love of God. 
or
Me: Do you mean your whistle? *

My father also has an interesting approach to proper nouns. He prefers metaphors that bear little resemblance to the original object. Partly, this is because he has no idea what the original object IS. Examples include ‘atomic machine’ to describe ‘microwave’, and “ludicrous new-fangled walkie-talkies’ to describe ‘mobile phones.’ In short, he lives in a parallel universe that I like to call ‘The World According to Someone Who Once Left A Big Fuck-Off Chunk of Radioactive Plutonium in their Pocket Whilst Working at a Nuclear Research Facility’.

So there you have it, I suppose.


* PS There are no sheepdogs in the family. Just my dad.


Thursday, 10 November 2011

A BANANA, IN PYJAMAS, AND MUSIC THERAPY

Today, I danced in the kitchen in my pyjamas like the alcoholic housewife that I probably am.  At my feet lay a trodden banana; on the kitchen worktop, an obese fly barfing on a piece of toast; at my side, an overflowing bin smelling of, erm, what’s it called again, that most evocative of smells, oh yes, SHIT. But did I care? No I didn’t. I just danced and I danced and I fantasised. About crazy lovely stuff.

And why was I dancing? Well, because I was listening to some tunes for a ‘Music Therapy’ blog I’ve been tagged to write by the awesomely prolific Motherventing and Older Single Mum. (Now, before I start, I want to point out that when I say ‘therapy’ I don’t mean “real” therapy, oh no, no, NO, I don’t need “real” therapy, not at all, I’m just tired, real tired, that’s all. Hey, just because I might have stopped dancing at one point, and started weeping for no apparent reason, and then, having caught sight of myself in the mirror, started punching myself in the thigh and screaming ‘fat, fat, fat”, and then “loser”, before weeping again, and then laughing, and then properly drooling, it doesn’t mean anything, honestly it doesn’t, nothing that a good night’s sleep wouldn’t sort out…)

But you’re right. I should probably sit down for a minute. I should probably just SHUT THE FUCK UP and play some music I like.

So here goes.

Windmills of your Mind. Noel Harrison. I’m a hippy at heart, and my brain is almost entirely made up of circles, apples, windmills, and cavernous hollows. (To those staring blankly: LIKE.IN.THE.SONG.) In fact, if you needed a 3D model of my brain for the purposes of say, a lobotomy, you could do worse than going to Mothercare and buying one of those shape sorters. Of course, the appeal of the song is more than just that. Even my partner loves it. And he doesn’t usually have time for people who can’t tell the difference between “keys that jingle in their pockets” and “words that jangle in their heads”, i.e me, and hippies. And he can do Excel.



The second is Back to Black, Amy Winehouse. I LOVE this song. I LOVE her voice. I don’t know what else to say except that it’s utterly crap that she’s dead.



Choosing the third tune has been a nightmare. I thought about Lou Reed, Velvet Underground, White Stripes, Alicia Keys, Motown, Blondie, all sorts. And then today, I heard this. “You to Thank”. Ben Folds. I’m addicted. This song is why I was dancing in my pyjamas in the kitchen, and weeping,  and properly drooling - and from my mouth - when I should have been killing flies, clearing out bins, and mopping floors.  



Finally, thanks thanks thanks to the fab Mamywoo for making this lovely meme happen in the first place. I'm now tagging Adventures of a Middle Aged Matron,  Three Little Flowers, and Kate Takes 5 x

PS: I wasn’t drooling from my front bottom. Of course I wasn’t. I don't know why I said it. 
That’s just gross.

PPS: My partner has just read this blog and is extremely pissed off that I didn’t mention the fact that ‘Windmills of Your Mind’ is part of his “brilliant and extensive record collection”, and furthermore, that he was the one who introduced me to it. He would also like to point out that I “always leech off his musical tastes” and then claim them as my own. And also,  that he CAN’T do Excel. 

Monday, 7 November 2011

PUSSY GALORE, MEET MRS PLOD-ALONG

I always wanted a cool nickname. As cool as The Fonz or Mr. October, or cute and sexy like, you know, Pussy Galore.  

Well today the dream died. It happened whilst I was dropping the kids off at school. I was late as usual, and all psyched up to negotiate the school’s door security (double doors, outer lobby, entry buzzer concealed behind massive papier-mache dinosaur, more double doors, another lobby, you get the picture), when a woman I know suddenly said, “Look at you, Mrs Plod-Along. I love your style.”

Mrs Plod-Along?  MRS.PLOD.ALONG?

Deep breath. Chill out. I know that what she really meant was “I love your devil-may-care attitude towards lateness.” (How could she know that beneath my carefree exterior lies pain, paranoia, exhaustion and self-loathing?) But still! Mrs Plod-Along!  Are you sure? Don’t you mean Pussy Galore? Didn’t you see the way I emerged Bond-Girl-like from those puddles at the other end of the yard?

For fucksakes.

And so it is that ‘Mrs Plod-Along’ joins a long list of mocking epithets, confidence-sapping sobriquets, or, in other words, totally and utterly shitty nicknames. Such as:
  • ‘Butterfingers’. This was my name during Rounders - or as I prefer to call it - Bullying. 
  • ‘Common, Coarse and Crude’. My brother’s name for me. Probably because I once said “bloody hell” or “for godsakes” during grace. Other variations included “Plebeian Prostitute”, “Debauched and Disgusting”, and, in a reckless departure from alliteration, “Vile Troll”.
  • In university, an ex-boyfriend referred to me as ‘Fister’. I won’t expand on the reasons - this is a family-friendly blog - except to say that he never complained about my technique at the time. He’s the bloody w**ker if you ask me.
  • Today, my partner has a nickname for me. It is ‘The Bottomless Pit of Need’. I don’t think he means bottomless in the sense of ‘having no bottom’. (I have a bottom, although it is nothing like Pippa Middleton’s bottom, more like Shrek’s.) What I think he means is that, sometimes, I like to engage him in conversation.  

So until someone comes up with something better, like Pussy Galore, I think I’ll stick with Flossing the Cat. 

PS: I’ve just found a Facebook page called I Hate Rounders. Please please like it. It’s SUCH a good cause.


PPS: Fister - IT'S NOT WHAT YOU THINK.  

PPPS: Any other shitty nicknames you’d like to share? Anyone? I feel so alone here. Motherventing, Older Mum, SAHDANDPROUD? Get out of deep field. You have been tagged.

Monday, 31 October 2011

THE SCHOOL RUN: PART 2 (OR WHY THE F**K DON'T I JUST HOME-EDUCATE AND BE DONE WITH IT?)

I live within walking distance of my children’s school, a beautiful seven-minute stroll through a forest of ivy-clad oak trees, ferns, ladybirds, and a stream. But before you stab me in the face with your car keys, let me tell you what it’s really like.

First, there’s the seven-minute thing. 'Seven minutes' invites complacency. If you’re told that a journey will take you seven minutes, you think, “Oh, I’ll be there in no time.” So you fuck about. Seven minutes is not like an hour, which you take seriously, which you allow time for. If you live within a seven-minute-walk of your children’s school, you either need to be a) Allyson Lewis, whose bestseller ‘The Seven Minute Difference’ shows you how to break your actions into seven-minute micro-actions (but who, sadly, looks like a reptile) or you need b) an Atomic Clock that loses less than one second every BILLION years and also shouts at you. Now I don’t have an Atomic Clock. I have a collection of time-keeping devices that are so wholly evil that they lose a minute every day, probably every minute. I may as well use an hourglass.

By the time I have reached the stream in the forest, I am usually so late that to get me to the school on time would require the intervention of a Time Lord. So I run. By the time I reach the road that leads to the school, my core body temperature is about 105 degrees and I require hospitalisation. But with hospital not being an option, I persevere onwards towards The School Gate.

Now you’d think I’d be relieved to see The School Gate. You’d think I’d see it as the last lap, the homeward stretch. But I don’t. Because The School Gate was designed by a bastard. It is narrower than you can ever imagine, with three treacherous open-sided steps. Worse, there is always a stampede of people coming towards you from the opposite direction, so much so that you wonder if somebody has seen an actual lion. It takes me at least two more minutes to safely negotiate it, during which time I see my two children, outside their classrooms, wearing forlorn disappointed expressions. One of them, my littlest one, my baby boy, is being sheltered by his teacher, and is mouthing the words “Mami forgetted me”, over and over.

Well babies, I didn’t forget you. I love you. I really do. It’s just that, you know, other people get to drive their kids to school. They don’t have to dodge ladybirds, and oak trees, or perform seven-minute micro-actions on a daily basis, or EVER run. They are lucky bastards.  If they only knew.







Sunday, 23 October 2011

BIN DAY

Today is the day before Bin Day. And although it’s only ten o clock in the morning, I am already in the grip of pre-Bin Day nerves.

For those of you blessed with a normal psychological profile, pre-bin day nerves is a nasty condition characterised by irrational anxieties about bins - and particularly bin collection. Imagine you’re in the middle of some humdrum housewifely activity, like watching your tears dissolve in the washing-up suds, when a question pops into your head. The first question might be mischievous, even playful, like “What happens if I forget to take out the bins?” or “What happens if I take out the wrong bins?” But then it all gets a little crazy, as in, “If I can’t entirely close the lid of the black wheelie bin (and the bin therefore represents a dire infringement of council health and safety guidelines), what is the maximum gap permissible between the lid of the bin and the body of the bin before the bin-men refuse to take the bin?” And “Will I get an orange contamination sticker if any unsuitable items are found in my bins? If I get a sticker, will I be seized by such a spectrum of irrational emotions (ranging from humiliation and feelings of hopelessness right through to rage and finally depression) that I end up in the loony Bin? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ...

I know there are practical solutions, like subscribing to the council’s text reminder service, but whenever an incoming text hits my phone, it makes a sound only audible to whales. Furthermore, I’m not allowed to place my bins on the kerbside before 4.30pm, because if I do, there will be seagulls, and wolves, and possibly locusts, and the village will look like Egypt after the Ten Plagues of Yahweh. 

As for worrying about taking out the wrong bins, yes, I have downloaded the Council’s Waste Collection Calendar, so yes, I know that black bins are collected fortnightly, and green bins are collected weekly. But I’m a ‘lunar month’ kind of girl. I go by the ebb and flow of my menstrual cycle. If I’m rocking psychiatrically in the children’s playhouse in the garden, and there are huge crescents of zits on each cheek, and I’m eating a Haribo Mega Party Pack, including the plastic, then it’s day 26. If I’m shouting ‘jizz’ in my sleep, and acting like a complete and utter whore, it’s day 13. So as far as I’m concerned, the Waste Collection Calendar is just a piece of sexist, phallocratic dogshit.

And if all this angsty bin collection crap weren’t enough, what about the shimmering, maggoty lakes of disease at the bottom of the wheelie bin? It’s bad enough when you get hit by spray from a toilet brush, but when it’s bin juices, and it catches you on the top lip, or worse, in the eye, then depending on the incubation period of the particular disease you have contracted, it’s only days before you get nose bleeds, and jaundice, and festering boils, and you start to look like Zommer from Moshi Monsters.

I’m starting to think that the only real solution to my pre-Bin Day nerves thing is to get my partner to do it. In some households the men are responsible for the bins!!! Can you believe it?!!! Last week, I told my partner this, who then explained, very patiently, that although he was aware of the practice, he didn’t want to patronise me.  I was so touched that I cried into the washing-up suds. And then I took the bins out.

Monday, 17 October 2011

NOT QUITE A BLUBBERFEST ...

I’m not accustomed to awards. In my experience, awards were what you got if, instead of lying on your bed fantasising about Simon Le Bon and/or dreaming up spectacular ways of killing yourself to punish your parents, you practised your viola for five hours every night.

But now it seems I’ve won the Liebster Blog Award, courtesy of award-winning mummy blogger Older Mum, and the rules say I have to blog about it! I don’t know what the fuck a Leibster Blog Award is, but who cares! I’ve not been this happy since my mother reassured me that although she didn’t like me, she still loved me. Gee mom, thanks. That means a lot. 

I do realise, of course, that awards are just a shallow motivational device to get people hooked on Capitalism (cue deafening applause from parents who send their kids to Steiner schools), because if they weren’t, my extraordinary record of underachievement, dysfunction and just plain making a hash of things, would have been recognised earlier. 

After all, I reckon I hold the record for:
  1.  The most driving lessons undertaken  – 155 - before taking a first driving test.  
  2.  The biggest nipple cracks ever sustained during a single breastfeeding session. (I don’t have pictures, you freaks, but see the River Grande Gorge, New Mexico, or Valleris Marineris, Mars, if you need visuals.)  
  3.  The most chocolate hobnobs consumed in one sitting. I was a student okay? 
  4. The most heinous examples of blasphemy and Anglo-Saxon sexual vernacular ever put together in one sentence whilst accidentally taking the exit for a motorway slip road. (P.S with my mother in the passenger seat, traumatised.)
  5.  The most grotesque health-and-safety freak-out in the history of pregnancy.
But as usual, I’ve gone off at a narcisstic tangent. (Honestly, is there no possibility of some decent ‘me’ time anymore?) Turns out I’ve got to nominate five other new-ish undiscovered-ish bloggers for the award.  So here goes:

The (Nearly!) Perfect Mother - for her fantastic storytelling abilities. If you want to read about Iggle Piggle’s clandestine cross-dressing, or the awkward threesome with The Gruffalo, look no further. 

...And PND Makes Three  - for writing funny, brave, honest accounts of PND and for coining the term ‘Motherexia’. A blogger with a really strong voice. 

Chatty Baby  - for managing to pull off a beautifully crafted blog from the perspective of a very opinionated chatty baby. Enchanting.  

How To Be A Domestic Disgrace  - for the pictures of a cupcake and a dead fly, the f**ked-up jelly cat, and for being so bloody witty all the time.

Motherventing – for inventing the best strap-line in the history of blogging … ever!  "Taking all the fluffier aspects of parenting and totally shitting all over them." Genius. 

Not quite a blubberfest, but it's the best I could do!! 

Monday, 10 October 2011

WHY I'M NOT MARRIED

I thought I was a good person. I buy The Big Issue. I have never amputated a daddy long legs. I don’t covet my neighbour’s husband (even when he is chopping logs and the sweat is pouring down his back … ahem…cough... ). So imagine my shock when Tracey McMillan’s Huffington Post column, “Why You’re Not Married’, informs me that the reason I’m still unmarried is because I am either a bitch, a slut, a liar, shallow, selfish, or not good enough!

(Well Tracey, for your information, I’m definitely not shallow.)

Of course, this isn’t the first time my domestic situation has been the focus of moral panic. In the early days, my poor long-suffering mother was so "sickened to the core" by my sordid shacking-up experiment that she refused to enter our house. Instead she would stay in the car outside (whilst my father came in to see us), weeping with a gusto not seen since the days of the prophet Jeremiah.  At some point, my father would take her a flask of coffee, and from our vantage point inside the house of sin, we would watch her wind down the car's misty windows, ever so slightly, to receive the offering.

My mother has since accepted the situation. But there are still those who think it their duty to point me towards the Altar of Hymen. A man in my neighbourhood – YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE – often calls me Mrs J, and once introduced me as “unmarried” to a member of the PTA. Have mercy for heaven’s sake! Not the PTA!! My next-door neighbours –YOU ALSO KNOW WHO YOU ARE – bought me a wedding planner!

It is not that I am against marriage. Jane Austen rocks. I like Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major. And I loved Four Weddings and a Funeral (except for that lame exchange at the end when that whining irritating fine actress Andie Mac Dowell says, “Is it still raining? I hadn’t noticed.” Well of course it is you dozy cow. Get a f**kin pac-a-mac.) But I digress.

It’s just that the idea of all that wedding decision-making brings me out in hives. I'm someone who agonises over the question “What’s your favourite colour?” Deciding what to make for tea is a daily nightmare that begins at about three o'clock with a simple question, but ends, two hours later, with me staring catatonically into a bleak, rancid fridge, as a foul-mouthed demonic presence in my brain shouts "beans, fish fingers, bread, eggs, bread for godsakes, fuckin beans, sausages, chips, what the fuck is wrong with you …" and so on and so on… until I cave in and phone my lovely partner who is not my husband, sobbing.

You see? It just wouldn't be nice. 


Monday, 3 October 2011

POSITIVE MANTRA


If there’s one thing at which I excel, it’s under-achievement. I can imagine few more humiliating things in life than a girls night out/pub quiz in the company of Karren Brady, Nicola Horlicks, or Christine f**king Lagarde.  

Over-achievers suck. I mean, what’s so wrong with doing well at school, going to university, doing a post-graduate degree, getting a really exciting job that’s full of prospects, and then, you know, doing nothing for six years!  (And when I say nothing, I mean raising three kids, but not having a CAREER or ‘IT ALL’…)

So anyway, I thought I’d create an alternative list of skills I don’t have, especially for my partner – who today told me I trade on my insecurities. And since feeling inadequate is obviously the cornerstone of my identity, my main social currency, I should probably rehearse this list aloud every morning, preferably in the mirror, just before the school run.   This would be put me in the correct frame of mind for taking the piss out of myself at the school gates in front of the hospital consultant, company director, and lawyer parents.      

So here goes:

1) I can’t wink with my left eye.  (My left eye is a useless ball of goo.  As a kid, I wore glasses. One lens was so spectacularly magnified it looked like Cyclops had walked into the playground.)

2. I can’t whistle. (Minor motor skills are SO over-rated.)

3. I can’t blow balloons up.  (See above.)

4) I can’t join motorways.  (Being on a slip road is like suddenly having Satan pop up in the back of your car, wailing and bellowing and screaming “faster faster for fucksakes” in your ear, and “look really quickly in the side mirror with your one good eye you useless cow”.)

5) I can’t uncork bottles.  

6) I can’t do a French plait.

7) I can’t gargle. This is of course a total nightmare, a real bloody hindrance in life.

And finally….

8) I can’t ride a bike. (About which I don’t give a shiny shite. Who wants to sit on a seat that makes you feel like you’ve got a huge misshapen sanitary towel wedged up your ass anyway, and especially when said bike massively increases your chances of, you know, BEING KILLED.)

Hey, my life-coach would be proud of me.

PS There are plenty of things I can do (she says, grinning gleefully), but that’s one for another blog … maybe … 

Sunday, 25 September 2011

LIFEGUARD



This morning I took my daughter to a swimming lesson at the local leisure centre. As usual, my best friend H and I went to the spectator area to see our beautiful little six-year-old selkie-girls performing mushroom floats, swimming on their backs, and venturing into the Deep End for the first time. As usual, the vending machine with the “Out of Order” notice was working perfectly, and as usual, the other vending machine - the one without an “Out of Order” notice - was out of order.

All was well with the world, until we saw him.

Now I’m not saying that every lifeguard should look like an extra from Baywatch. In fact, there are very few ideas more revolting in life than the idea of getting one of The Hoff’s curly chest hairs stuck to your soft palate during a rescue. At the same time – and at the risk of sounding politically incorrect - I don’t expect a lifeguard to be both obese AND asleep.

So, naturally, I was concerned. Any mother would be, and especially one with a diagnosed “general anxiety disorder”. (Or as my partner prefers to call it, “a bottomless pit of need”.) The only way this lifeguard was ever going to mount a successful rescue was if his vast orange body managed to displace all the pool water on contact, and only then, if he fu**ing woke up. 

But of course, nothing happened. H and I sucked on our lukewarm decaff coffees from the functioning “out of order” vending machine and distracted ourselves with talk of mini apronectomies, rogue facial hairs, and (with increasing hysteria) the pros and cons of using urethral inserts during zumba lessons. We tried hard, oh so hard, to stop ourselves from staring at the human space-hopper squeezed into an unstable high chair at the edge of the pool, in defiance of the laws of gravity, and STILL asleep. Then, at the end of the half-hour lesson, we bundled our damp, happy little girls into our cars, strapped them in safely, and went home. 

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

TAILGATER

Yesterday I had a crazy idea. The idea was quite simply this: to apply actual make-up before embarking on the school run. Unfortunately, the idea struck me at around 3.15pm, which is only five minutes before I need to leave the house.

“You okay?” said my neighbour, at the school gates. “Bloody knackered,” I said, which is my stock answer to any question. My neighbour is extremely polite, because it was only later, whilst looking in the rear-view mirror, I realised that I looked like The Demented Wife of Pierrot The Clown.

The day got worse on the journey to GroTesquo. I got honked on the A road by a suit in a Merc who was riding my ass even though I was driving at the 40mph speed limit. I gave him The Death Stare in the mirror, which didn’t work, in spite of the shocking state of my face. I think I will get a US-style sticker that says, “ I brake SUDDENLY for tailgaters.” Of course, it’s not only businessmen tw*ts that think it’s ok to break the law. I was having a glass of wine with some friends the other day when one of them announced, “I hate people who drive at 40 on Llan******* Road.”!!! 


So just to add to the list of things that I hate (see previous blog), I want to add this:

I hate it when people think it’s okay to break the speed limit. 5000 children under-16 are killed by speeding drivers every year. Life is not an episode of fu**kin Top Gear!!  

Rant over for today.

Monday, 19 September 2011

SCHOOL RUN

There are few things I hate more in life than the school run.

1. The mindless tit-fest that is The Sun ‘newspaper.’
2. People who don’t pick up their dog crap
3. Going to the dentist (don’t mind needles and pain - just don’t like being told how to brush my teeth, ‘in a circular motion’, when I’m 42)
4. The Royal Family. Don't get me started.

The reason I hate the school run is because I AM LATE for every pick up, for every drop-off, for every appointment. I say this to other mothers and in a well-meaning gesture of sisterly solidarity they usually say something like, “So am I. It’s a nightmare!”  To which I should say: NO. YOU. ARE. NOT.

Just to clarify. I am not lazy. I don’t oversleep. I don’t go to Tesco Express in my pyjamas. I have even been known to be up and dressed before 7am, even in November. In fact, the daily psychic meltdown doesn’t really begin until around 8.30am, when the only remaining tasks are a) find a bobble for the bale of sticky hay masquerading as hair on my daughter’s head, and b) remember to take my son’s special beaker. Good going. Life’s a breeze. I can even afford to sit down and drink my tea.

Wrong. Because as soon as the tea touches my lips, Time accelerates. The kitchen enters the mouth of a wormhole, warping spacetime. The clock on the wall says 8.33, the clock on my mobile, on the other side of the kitchen, reads 8.45. I check the time on the desktop computer in the study: 8.47. I phone the speaking clock: 8.47. I am overwhelmed by the task of finding the bobble. I remember that my son’s special beaker is in the footwell of the passenger seat, unwashed since yesterday, in Listeria Heaven.

By the time I return from the school run, a kind of generalised anxiety disorder has taken hold. If the postman says something nice to me, I will probably cry. I drink another cup of tea. I wash the dishes. But it’s no good. I think about super-viruses, global warming, bird flu, giant asteroids, and intruders.

In the end, I go upstairs. Because sometimes, there’s only one way of relieving the tension.