Thursday 26 April 2007

Everybody's Talkin'

Everybody’s talkin’ about the Anya Hindmarch bags as sold by Sainsbury’s. I was keen to show off my green credentials with ‘I’m am not a plastic bag’ writ large. Hindmarch. Spindmarch! He-who-must-be-adored thought I should get up at 4am and queue. Don’t be ridiculous, I said, it’s a bag! I asked Sainsbury’s Manager at Highlands Village the previous day and she said, quite plainly, as did the website, the bags would be on sale at 8.00am when the stores opened.

I relented and got to Sainsbury’s Highlands Village at 7.30am. Was surprised at the lack of queue but did spot about six women sitting in their cars. Imagine then, my surprise, when at 7.45am I decided to form an orderly queue and read a hand-written sign on the store door saying they were all sold out. To add insult to injury they suggested if you really wanted one, look on Ebay. Gutted I was. Not only that they were sold out, without a queue, but before the store was actually open! Shock took over. Firstly by another customer’s angry reaction to the security guard – as if it was his fault, and no amount of shouting would make a bag materialise. Then by the store’s admission that the manager handed out tickets at 4am. 4am! Are these people mad? What happened to an 8am opening?

Worse was the thought of admitting defeat to He-who-must-be-adored. I drove to Sainsbury’s Winchmore Hill and was pleased to see a rather long queue. They had 90 bags and had already given out 90 tickets, but at least there is honesty in a queue. Three people were on standby to go to their local stores, on my behalf, in my desperation for one of the damn bags, including the pensioner mother of the Forensic Examiner. They all drew a blank.

headed home downhearted for He-who-must-be-adored’s ‘told you so’. He was surprisingly kind, saying if He’d known it was a ticket system, He would have got up at 4am for me, but there was no way He was prepared to fight with women over bags. Fair point.

As usual Supersis cheered me up. Not with a bag, unfortunately, but I’m trying to convince myself, unconvincingly, that I didn’t’ want one anyway. But I do. I have a pathological hatred of plastic bags at the best of times. I use the re-usable bags from M&S and Tesco for the weekly shop but they keep ripping at the bottom and the handles pop out which the Little One then uses as drumsticks in a really unhelpful and annoying manner. The Anya bag looked lovely, rather strong, and with comfy handles too. But, I’m over it now. NOT!

Supersis, being a Super Sis came to my retailing rescue last night by turning up with the other product everybody’s talkin’ about. The Boots No 7 cream - as featured on Horizon, as the only cream that really halts the march of time on the faces of oldies. And I now have some. A star my Supersis is. Just watch this face. In four weeks time I’ll be visibly younger. And everybody really will be talking about that.

Wednesday 25 April 2007

Just the two of us

He-who-must-be-adored and me had a rare day off together yesterday. Let’s face it though it’s hardly a day off when it only lasts ‘til school pick-up. Weekdays obviously still include sorting the dustbin lids out with breakfast and lunches; dropping them off; quick supermarket sweep for more milk and fruit; the compulsory couple of loads of laundry; plus impressions of a taxi driver for evening activities. Without wanting to sound ungrateful or resentful (moi?) …A half-day off was had and out to lunch we went. Together. Just the two of us. Just like it used to be.

Aimed for the Italian sarnie centre with cosy chairs but the route there took us past the pub. As it was just we two, and we being adults ‘n all, He and me dived into the pub. Twas all a bit odd though, just being two, instead of five. At least it was a non-smoking pub as the thought of being in a smoky old hole during daylight hours is so far removed from my reality I don’t think I’d have coped. So He and me had a pub lunch. Food was average. But as I wasn’t involved in its preparation it seemed averagely fab.

As soon as we’d eaten He-who-must-be-adored thought we might as well push off and do something useful. I made him sit there. And relax. Good time slightly marred by me having to explain that having lunch together isn’t just about the food. Now am not certain he sees the point in small talk and really think He regretted not bringing his Soduko book.

Wonder is it because he mixes with the Gorgeous Boy too much that after 20 minutes he’d hit his sitting-still-threshold. You could see him squirming in his seat. It being a day off, I relented and let him go.

Neither of us generally does booze during the day. Not because we have an aversion to it or have some sort of moral objections. In the case of He-who-must-be-adored nothing could be further from the truth. The reality is a combination of children that need entertaining/sorting/driving about and us both being over 40.

Booze slows us down. Things that need to done take twice as long with booze inside you. Then we get grumpy with the lids and it’s hardly their fault that they interfere with our drinking schedule. So beer-o-clock is put back to after the dustbin lids are abed. But rules are made to be broken. On holiday it slips forward to their bath-time. Other times its after the evening meal has been prepared. And obviously on h-days (high days, holidays and hormonal days) the rules go out the window.

For a long time I didn’t bother with booze at all. Couldn’t be doing with small demanding children in the night, or early mornings with a hangover. So just sort of stopped it. However, since giving up fags it’s all become rather attractive again. Yesterday I threw caution to the wind and had one lunchtime spritzer. Lethal. I had to have a lie down before I could prepare supper. How sad is that? A strange sensation came over me at 3.30 with my eyelids becoming horribly horribly heavy. As if lead weights were hanging off them. When I woke 20 minutes later the Little One was hanging off them. Think she was just trying to prize them open.

Friday 20 April 2007

Something got me started

It’s so long since I smoked I’ve given up counting. The smugness of me grows daily.

Benefit of giving up No 329: losing the grey pallor from my face. My new healthy glow has been noted and commented upon. It makes me happy ‘til the penny drops. With hindsight being a wonderful thing I can see now how they might have possibly jumped to the wrong conclusion given that a) I am not smoking b) healthy glow c) enlarged chest and stomach d) smock tops. So for the record: I am not expecting. Anything. At all. In any way, shape or form.

Believe that weight and debt have a lot in common: so easy for the numbers of both to creep up quickly without you noticing but it takes a long slow hard slog to get them down again. Trying to break the vicious cycle by moving my butt more in free activities – like cycling.

All’s not well with Gorgeous Boy’s new bike. First the flat tyre. Although we have a guarantee from toys r us, neither of us can face taking it back. Their prices are kept low by discouraging any inkling of returns or complaints, by making anything other than buying as difficult as possible. Sometimes this even extends to buying. A policy that works, as I’d rather stick pins in my eyes than face their customer services.

So, He-who-has-to-be-adored ordered an Internet inner tube. Strangely it didn’t show up. After a week He rang: they’d been busy, what with Easter n’all. Silly us, we believe Internet buying to be quicker, easier and more convenient than visiting shops…at the opposite end of the country perhaps?

Meanwhile we return to the boy riding his sister’s bike, she riding mine with me running along behind.

Hurrahs all round this morning as postie brings an inner tube that He-who-must-be-adored gallantly fits before going to save London on ‘lates’. I cycled down on the boy’s bike for after-school pick-up. More of a free wheel really as its mostly downhill with just a tad of difficulty dismounting the cross bar wearing a skirt. All so my Gorgeous Boy could enjoy his bike. He makes it to the zebra crossing outside school when the chain comes off. Not for the first time I picture myself taking a large hammer to the new bike. Instead I try, along with two other mothers, to get the chain back on. I fail. Defeated I wheel the thing up the hill.

Don’t suppose He-who-must-be-adored will want to fix that damn bike again. Secretly, without any pressure whatsoever, I hope he will so I don’t have to take it back to that damn shop. Am having a bit of a hate hate thing with the bike.

Also…have been trying the equally trying customer services at Virgin media. To close my account. Am disgusted with poor service, and loss of the Simpsons and News on the Hour, whatever the hour, since they took over from Telewest and fell out with Sky. Have now given up holding for a real person on four occasions. Shouldn’t have bothered as am certain they won’t speak to me as the account is in He-who-must-be-adored’s name. At work today Captain Chaos managed to get through and spent two hours discussing, with an extraordinary large number of people, the case of crossed wires between Virgin Media and BT. All this because he foolishly thought he could change suppliers on Friday 13th. Since then he’s had no land line and the phone number he’s had for the past 15 years has now been issued to a new customer. Think I may just leave well alone as am rather attached to my number.

It’s almost enough to make you want to leave the country. Or the city at least. But not quite. Think it’s just a reaction to having spent a blissful weekend with Supersis at her place in the country. A real green fix. Looking out on fields. Seeing children romping in the open air. Watching horses do their thing. The sight of Gorgeous Boy carrying a trophy of a dead pigeon after his first shoot was obviously the low point. But I’m told that’s what country folk do: have a more practical attitude to animals than us townies. There, animals either have a purpose ie dinner, or they are pests. I was happy when I could get away with being an over-controlling parent who banned all weapons of any type, real or toy. Mums don’t do guns.

Except water pistols. Maybe.

Tuesday 17 April 2007

I want to ride my bicycle

Holidays are over. Normal service has resumed: wake dustbin lids earlier than they want; run around like headless chickens stuffing lunchboxes, finding uniforms, homework etc until the lids go to their various institutions. Then the day really begins: dash to work, dash round the supermarket, dump car at home, collect lids, keep the peace, cook, do laundry, taxi them about. And smile. Miss them during the day like a love-sick puppy. For all of three minutes.

I like the holidays. You can sleep in. You don’t have to be anywhere. You can ride bikes. You can play in the park for ages. You can go swimming. And freeze. And not clock watch. And half freeze to death on the beaches of Suffolk even though the rest of the country is enjoying a freak heat wave.

Gorgeous boy’s bike is too small for him, so he rides the tweenager’s and she rides mine. I run along behind the Little One shouting encouragement. Last week I got a tad fed up with this so went off in search of new wheels for the lad.

Needing instant gratification we couldn’t wait three days for the sports shop to build one and they won’t sell ‘em flat packed. Halfords tried to sell me a flat pack and couldn’t get why I wouldn’t part with dosh on a bike in a box of which we had no idea of size or, more importantly, style.

Finally surrendered to the hell of Toys R Us and was shocked to find an adult sales assistant who knew his biking onions. Only half an hour later gorgeous boy, the little one and myself struggled across the car park with a large flat pack.

My marriage is a partnership with distinct divisions of labour: I give birth and deal with all emotional issues: He understands instructions and tools and does all the building stuff. But the Tweenager has feminist leanings, so as not to appear completely useless I emptied the box (difficult in itself) and studied the instructions, after all He-who-must-be-adored was doing a martyrish long shift saving London.

After 20 minutes discussion gorgeous boy decisively showed us the tools needed (despite our feminist leanings neither Tweenager nor I know the names of tools other than hammer and even I could tell that wasn’t needed).

Line one of the instructions stated that if you have nuts on the front wheel remove them. Tweenager, gorgeous boy and I struggled with spanners and wrenches for ages and finally dislodged the nuts and all the ball bearing things fell on the floor. We agreed this was a bad thing. Resisting the temptation to bash the bike to buggery with a hammer, we tied the bolts back up, left the bits of bike on the kitchen floor and went to watch telly whilst awaiting the return of He-who-must-be-adored.

We were all very keen to go on a bike ride the next day so didn’t think 10pm was too late to ask a man to build a bike. Surely its better to get these sort of jobs out of the way before you go to bed? He-who-must-be-adored did that shaky head thing that my father used to do. I decided this was not a good sign. When He asked why on earth we’d undone the bolts I went to tackle the urgent laundry and left the lids to explain. (It was their idea to have a go, when you’ve got 6 brothers and a husband why would you even try?)

From the laundry I heard him ask whether the ball bearings had fallen out. At this point I remembered some other urgent business upstairs so didn’t hear the response. By the time I came down the bike was built and the gorgeous boy was riding, in the dark, up and down the street with He supervising. Normal service was resumed.

At bedtime the Tweenager whispered to me that the nuts the instructions referred to were for transporting purposes and our front wheel didn’t have any of them. And how the hell were we supposed to just ‘know’ these things?

By the end of the following day I never wanted to ride a bike ever again. I had saddle sores and was grateful when Gorgeous Boy got a flat tyre so I could wheel his home whilst he rode mine. Think I preferred running along behind.

Tuesday 10 April 2007


So that’s Easter done and dusted. Fab weather for the time of year - not so fab for warm little hands holding chocolate.

The best Easter news was the arrival of my new great nephew on what would have been my mother’s birthday. Just hope the lovely little fella isn’t blessed with her balmier aspects.

Easter Sunday started early with the Little One excitedly demanding the treasure hunt begin. In hangover fog I noticed He-who-must-be-adored wasn’t in bed. Thought he might be making tea. No such luck. As I slowly came round to the real world, I remembered he was off saving London. I was on my own, again, as the only responsible adult.

Don’t normally find that too difficult a prospect but Easter Sunday is different. It’s the Easter Hunt. That involves deciphering He-who-must-be-adored’s difficult clues. With the added problem that I remember He giving me instructions but too hungover to remember them. Was I supposed to hide eggs and bunnies and other such stuff? He couldn’t be that daft to rely on me for such crucial elements? Surely? This had the potential to go down as the worst hunt ever. Imagine the dustbin lids spending ages working out clues to find….nothing. The only upside being the potential to keep future therapists in business. As I battled with gravity to get my head off the pillow a vague memory flooded back of me stuffing kinder eggs in the freezer. All therefore could not be quite lost.

A few crucial texts later and we were all on track. Somehow, the Little One put gorgeous boy, the tweenager and me to shame by outwitting us all and resolving the hardest of His cryptic clues. There were only two that we decided would have to wait til He returned home at some point in the future. Once the majority of the edible treasure was found they all returned to my bed for the choc fest of all choc fests. The chocolate orange eggs were the only big mistake as fairly soon after eating them at xmas we were all struck down with the vomit bug – not a great association.

Regardless, much choc was chomped. Would never have eaten so much had He-who-must-be-adored been here to tell us enough was enough. By 10am we all had tummy aches. It was declared the best Easter Hunt ever.

Returning later to make the bed I decided melted choc is not such a good look for a white bedspread.

So I managed the whole of lent without a smoke, of which I am extremely proud. And I’ve only gained 16lbs, which over 40 days and 40 nights I deem not a bad achievement. More difficult is to go without chocolate and therefore to fit into the clothes I wore as a smoker. They mostly hurt round the mid-rift. And am only slightly depressed by the reality of my largest, most comfy, linen trousers no longer meeting in the middle.

Easter weekend is clearly not the time to be contemplating such matters when every surface I look at contains Easter treats. Moving up to the next size would allow me to look normal again, if slightly larger. Whereas squidging myself into clothes (not to mention underwear) suitable for a frame at least 16lbs lighter looks weirdly grotesque. No fabric can stretch that far, no matter how much lyrca it contains.

The double whammy is the bosoms. Strange old things at the best of times, mine have now become a large joke – and not just with Mr Smut. Weight gain now congregates around the bust and mid-rift. In an obviously attractive way – and again not just to Mr Smut.

The Little One and I have a game we play (stick with this it will make sense): when saying good bye to visitors we run along the pavement alongside their vehicle waving until we reach the end of the road, or we run out of steam. Last week we played this game and I was horrified to realise my bosoms had managed to both work their way lose from their holsters as I ran. So not a good look.

Then at the weekend I tried on a bikini. We were in a fairly inexpensive shop so I thought I’d go up two sizes to compensate for cheap cutting. Horrified that even two sizes up there was still no where near enough supportive fabric to even cover my nipples.
What do I do to console myself? Cook the meal with the highest possible fat content. It’s a comfort replacement thing.

Thursday 5 April 2007

On the road again

Easter holidays are going well. Have been visited by my two fave nieces (before noses are out of joint I have 17 fave nieces). He-who-must-be-adored has sort of relaxed for a few days, inbetween dropping and picking up various dustbin lids and pals and cousins. Was pleased to discover friends of the little-one also have a pit of despair outside their back door.

Weather not too bad either. Spring is certainly sprung. Just like the mattress of gorgeous boy. Spent yesterday trekking round the north peculiar to visit giant Swedish store. It’s cheap. The experience is crap. We know this to be the case. And still we go.

Beds and mattresses chosen we realise we can’t all fit in the car with the goods. I get the job of entertaining the lids in store whilst He-who-must-be-adored does check out and drive home. After parting I realise He has all the cash and wouldn’t it be nice to have lunch while we’re about it. Dumped my bag to catch He in the car park. But first had to spend a long time negotiating with children and the rabbit warren routes through the store.

Back in store, I wonder what did I have in that heavy shopping bag earlier? Clearly nothing neither needed nor useful. Again believe this to be all part of the Swedish shopping experience.

After a hearty lunch we meet up with He for more retail torture. Gorgeous boy has adopted same shopping technique as He ie asking on a minute by minute basis are we done yet. Finally head onto north peculiar with another large bag of unnecessary goods. We dismantle old beds, and count the broken wooden slats – of course my dustbin lids all deny ever jumping on any beds. Obviously those pesky burglars again.

Once the spaces were hovered and ancient smelly socks and other odd finds were removed we unpack the new beds. At this point I am tempted to surrender and drown my sorrows. One metal side is more bent than a nine-bob note and will never fit to anything. Negotiations between He and Me are swift and I get the short straw. Back on the north peculiar again. When I mentally factor in time and petrol I reckon it would have cost the same to pay through the nose at a proper department store, and have the damn things delivered.

My expectations of the customer service department are not huge, but was impressed with the new deli-style ticketing system. Got slightly scared by the customer having a tantrum (to herself) asking why oh why do they hate their customers so. The chap who served me was confused as to why I was only returning one box of a two-box product. I explained very slowly: am not returning it – want new one – not bent - tonight – for my child – to sleep in - the old bed is in pieces. After only an hour’s wait I could see a worried glint in his eyes as I insisted on opening the box to inspect the product. Just couldn’t face a fourth trip on the north peculiar.

Two beds built later, along with promises of never jumping on them, we finally sit down with a glass of wine at 10pm. All children abed. Hurrah. 10.10pm gorgeous boy and the little one are down complaining new beds are itchy.

Can’t think of a better way for He-who-must-be-adored to spend his time off.

Monday 2 April 2007

Into the Garden

Hurrah. He-who-must-be-adored has taken some time off from saving London to play happy families. What with the weather being so nice n’all we spent Sunday in the garden – getting rid of that wintry neglected look, ready for the fun and frolics of summer.

Some time ago, when the weather was not so nice, two fence panels deserted us. Such dull chores were neglected due to the bad bad weather and the busyness of us. The Easter holidays are just the time to attend to deserted chores. Trouble is, the whole of norf London has the same idea and fence panels are nowhere to be found. Heigh ho, onto another job.

Long before the fence panels moved on and before He-who-must-be-adored spent 18 months limping due to injury, I asked for a hard standing for the swinging bench. The lawn was worn out by all those happy feet. He-who-must-be-adored loves this sort of request as it involves digging. Digging is His thing. When stressed, digging is THE thing, so He says. The very next week a skip appeared, he took time off, and he started to dig. And dug he did. A lot. The result? A pit of despair some 16ft by 10ft. Since when his leg wasn’t capable of doing anything and then London needed a lot of saving. Two years later the pit of despair stands in the very middle of my garden full to bursting with weeds. Is this a good time to discuss it again?

We have, for the most part, been successful in avoiding talk of the pit. Mention of it erupts into a negative atmosphere between us. And it is fair to say we have enough of those. But do we really want a third summer with the pit of despair staring forlornly back at us? Do we want visitors to enquire what IS the plan here? When we don’t have an agreed one. Shall I bite the bullet and just order ‘stuff’ to fill it? What ‘stuff’ do you order? Where do you go to order such ‘stuff’? He was so proud of his digging achievement but then considered his part done.

The swinging bench still swings on mud.

Oh the heaviness of gardening.