Saturday, 9 July 2011

Kicking and shaking

It might be the impact of joining a kickboxing group. Or perhaps enough is enough. Whatever! I’m in a kick-ass frame of mind, and there will be no more crap magnetism for me.

Since emailing the world and his wife, well in this small part of London anyways, I’ve had: one auto-response from my MP saying if I haven’t had a reply within two weeks, write again, using snail mail; one helpful response from my local counsellor; and a list of excuses from the new head of our safer neighbourhood team. His email ended ‘working with you to make our city safer’. I assume to work with me, he might want to speak with me: I can’t speak to him because his phones are broken.

I replied, in hindsight, rather sharply. But I’m not accepting that more cannot be done about the troublesome tribe. In his defence, I suppose it was an improvement on previous responses from his team and he has, at least, acknowledged me. Which is more than can be said for the local Council, or the local Chief Super: who’s not proved quite so super this week. I’m feeling kind today so am assuming they are all either sick or on holiday. For this week.

02 also got a real positive response from me after sending a bill for over £800 for their screw up: their fee for their cancellation of my contract. Teen girl tried a strop when I wouldn’t hand over a concert ticket until some crucial paperwork was completed. She caved, realising I mean what I say and, desperate for her ticket, completing a bit of her own paperwork isn’t really that big a deal.

Every cloud and all that: the dustbin lids have clocked the turning tide and my zero tolerance approach. And, helpfulness has been in far greater abundance at home than I’ve ever known. By Friday all their bedrooms were hoovered and tidied, without prompting. Dinner was cleared without any nagging on my part thrice this week. It’s the weekend so I’m ignoring their ignorance of dust. But demonstrations of what to do with a wet cloth followed by a dry cloth will be coming to bedrooms near them very very soon.

The highlight of the week was going to Wembley and the Take That concert. I’ll skip over all that sitting on my own, being ‘chirped’ by a 23 year old break-dancing safety officer for more than an hour, and both the designer and my forensic friend, moaning about the seats when they did eventually arrive. As for the concert: it was big, it was mad, it was loud, it was fun, there were Mexican waves, and I love those!. In short: it was brill. Yes it was a bit wet, yet even the largest human weeble woman in the world landing next to us didn’t dampen the spirits. The Teengirls gave up their position in the mosh pit, due to the shocking behaviour of ‘old M&S women’. These Teengirls are mosh pit veterans. I later establish they were referring to women, roughly my age, wearing M&S cardys, like the ones I wear, desperately trying to get as near to our boys as possible. I would have said something about the lack of tenacity and perseverance in today’s youth, but I was far too busy shaking my ass. Thankfully, I restrained myself from joining the girls who got their tits out for the Pet Shop Boys.

Looking around the stadium, I’d say there were more than 60,000 women of a similar age to me, mostly wearing cardys. The other 25,000 spectators were groups of younger gals, the odd teen, a gaggle of gay men plus a few more husbands and boyfriends with admirable levels of loyalty and bravery. I’ve never seen so many women, past the first flush of youth, close to flushes of another kind, collectively and enthusiastically,‘going for it’. But what the hell!

It was Wembley. It was Take That. It was one of the greatest days.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Just Another Manic Monday

I’ve been a little like Mrs Pee’d off from Pissy Street recently and I wondered whether my chi is so out of sorts that I’ve become a magnet for crap. But that’s only on the dark days. Like yesterday. That was one manic Monday.

My day started earlier than usual as the kitchen was to be out of bounds from 8am. Due to the arrival of the plasterer. Due to the kitchen ceiling inexplicably falling down in the early hours of Saturday morning. That was a joyful moment, especially after I’d spent Friday in a rare cleaning frenzy.

Saturday was spent filling rubble sacks and hovering and wiping away the black dust accumulated in the ceiling over a hundred years. I cleaned outside and inside kitchen cupboards, every utensil, surface, picture, mirror and the large collection of odds and sods on the entire ground floor. (If I’m honest a large proportion of odds and sods actually went in the bin as that was how the moment took me).

As a respite I put in a couple of hours at the shopping festival walking the length and breadth of the town on the treasure hunt with the littleun whilst handing out leaflets for Sunday’s Palmers Green Festival. Then the littleun and I spent a few joyous hours being sociable with the girl’s rugby group, minus my own rugby girl (but that’s another story and luckily it doesn’t involve A&E this time). And Sunday’s Festival, in the park, though tiring, was a real fun success.

But I digress. Finishing the Monday morning clearout would certainly pay off later in reducing the volume of what would need to be cleared of pink plaster dust.

Though contributing to the laundry backlog, the littleuns sports morning was another excuse to escape the hell at home. For a while anyways and my regular readers know just how much I love a laundry backlog.

Managed to catch the Littleun’s big moment in the relay race after my own dash back to pay the plasterer and survey the volume of pink dust. The Sports Day low point was the kid that stacked over the finishing line and seeing his hand hanging at a completely unnatural angle from his arm. At least he won the race though, and I heard his operation went well this morning.

Hanging around a hot sports field without any trees for shade is not in anyway exhausting and doesn’t make you feel like you just want to lay down in a cool dark room with your eyes closed for a very long time.

Teengirl and I headed home to clean, hoover, scrape and start the first kitchen wash down of the day. She soon announced she was taking me out to lunch. That’s a first and I was shocked but I think she saw my bad mood pout and decided a change of scenery was as good as a rest. Alongwith an overwhelming desire to not have to clean anything. Ever. Again.

She was right. Lunch cheered me. It didn’t last.

Arriving home, more pink plaster dust had settled, making the ground floor look as though we hadn’t yet started. After the third mop of the floors I gave up and resolved to spend my last half hour before the evening frenzy enjoying the sunshine in the garden.

I’m blessed with some brilliant neighbours. Then there are others. Whilst one bad apple doesn’t make the whole bunch bad a tiny bit of manure in a bucket of spring water spoils the lot. Those others have been behaving anti-socially and are driving all the decent folks to distraction. I only lasted 5 minutes in the garden before the troublesome tribe drove me indoors.

Then Teenboy walked in with his hand over his nose, with blood pouring everywhere. I took a few deep breaths before establishing he had simply sneezed as he got off the bus starting the most massive nosebleed. Ever! He assured me that being so tall, no-one could actually reach his nose to punch him. So we cleaned him up and stopped the bleed before throwing another bucket of water over the front step, where a large amount of his blood had spilled. I had already thrown lots of water over the plaster dust on the front step. Isn’t it just great when you have to do the same dull ole domestic chores again and again and again?

I ran around with the mop for the fourth time, though half hour later I wondered why I bleeding bothered.

As I waited for the littleun to be dropped home I asked the troublesome tribe whether it was really necessary to rev their clapped out engine for half an hour? They tried the ‘no english’ trick. Perhaps it was the heat, or perhaps it was all that mopping but I really wasn’t in the mood for that ole chestnut and by the end of our little convo they were left in no doubt that I wasn’t buying it.

After that things went a bit Pete Tong. I kicked my three dustbin lids into the garden to play to give me space for one last mopping before I started supper. What followed is kind of unbelievable but it involved the troublesome tribe, threats to kill, mention of guns, a 999 call, a stabbing and the entire boundary of my property, front and back, becoming a crime scene. Luckily we were all on the safe side of the wall. But can you see where I’m coming from with the crap magnet thang?

Cooking dinner as witness statements were written at my kitchen table was kinda surreal. Once victim and perpetrator were carted off I chatted with the neighbours about a plan of action. Because we’ve had enough. And we’re reclaiming our street.

We are agreed that the volume of males hanging about, drinking alcohol, revving their cars, playing their truly awful music at an unbearable volume, the wads of cash changing hands, and the volume of bed linen being laundered are probably indicative of a brothel. I’m less convinced than others that drugs are also being dealt, but perhaps I’m just in denial.

Then I remembered I had some unresolved issues with my other son, which is how I now see my fave nephew. So we sat and had a quiet chat in the garden, to the accompaniment of another row amongst the tribe outside our wall.

Teengirl and I saw in the wee small hours with the first draft of her uni personal statement whilst I sewed up Teenboy’s school trousers. I don’t know what that boy gets up to at school but I spend more time than I like sewing his uniform back up. I managed one laundry load, just to bring me back from the brink of laundry backlog hell.

A bit more noise from the neighbours led me to bed resolving that someone, somewhere would be dealing with a woman with a mission in the morning.

And that was my manic Monday.

Today was a different saucepan of saucy stuff and was in actual fact a terrific Tuesday. I sent a three page email cataloguing recent events with the troublesome tribe and the ineffectiveness of our safer neighbourhood team. The subject was simply 'HELP'. I sent it to my local counsellor and the safer neighbourhood team which appear incapable of making the neighbourhood any safer. Most of their time seems to be spent convincing people that it's really not worth bothering complaining as they can't do anything anyway. And I'm not buying that.

‘In for a penny’ and all that and I copied the email to my MP and the local police Chief Super. If I could have wasted any more work time on tracking down email addresses for anyone with a job title in the borough I would have. But I actually had to do some work in the office. How inconvenient was that?

As we sat down to tea tonight I was happy with the rain as it keeps the troublesome tribe behind closed doors. Then, I received an email reply from my local counsellor. He’s definitely got my vote. As I read his email out the dustbin lids and I agreed we are all in love with Bambos Charalambos. Not only is he the only one who actually bothered replying to my ranting email today, he’s already got a five point action plan in place to ‘start’ dealing with the troublesome tribe.

The only low point to the day was hearing the littleun retell her show and tell monologue. She’d shared the fear and excitement of living in a crime scene, with all the gruesome details of last nights 999 event. I’m hoping she edited out the bad language (mine included), alongwith an explanation of what a brothel is. I’m a little bit heartbroken that not only did she experience it but she shared it with the other littleuns in her class. I don’t know how her teacher handled it, but I really would rather she didn’t have to. And I’m even more resolved that it’s the last time she will.

Tonight I started rallying the neighbours: hardly a difficult task as I discovered they have all contacted the safer neighbourhood teams: some have been taking photographs, some car registrations, and we’ve all got Bambos on our side.

My broken ceiling has been replaced and not that much more dust has settled in the kitchen. Ok so the laundry situation is still dire, but hey, you can't have everything.

And, tomorrow is going to be a Wow Wednesday as I’m on the road to Wembley to see Take That and Party!

It could be the greatest day!

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Rant of the day: not sponsored by o2

Apparently o2’s new ad campaign demonstrates that customers are its priority. That makes my laugh: as an o2 customer I feel the exact opposite. Their customer service folks are well trained and polite. Which is lovely, but spectacularly useless in resolving much.

I’ve had the same mobile number for more than a decade, so am really rather keen to keep it. A couple of year’s ago the queer fella bought me an iphone as a peace offering. Iphone’s can do many things, but sadly it didn’t prove to be up to saving our marriage.

Anyways I should have my own mobile account in my own name. Kindly, the queer fella rang o2 and asked them to transfer the account to me. They couldn’t. They suggested he gave notice and ported the number to my new account.

I thought about moving back to Orange, as in my experience their customer care is better than any other phone company I’ve been with (and I’ve been with a few). However, the absence of any Orange service in my home is a teeny bit of a turn off. So, I stuck with o2. I thought it’d make the changeover easier. Especially as customers are their priority ‘n all.

The changeover failed to happen. I made a large number of calls to o2. As did the the queer fella. Some of the calls dropped off just when I thought things would be fixed. To their irritation, I am sure, I kept calling back and gave the whole sorry story from scratch to a fair few of their reps. Which was only half as irritating as their ‘hold’ musak. Their best suggestion was for the queer fella and I to be in the same room and phone them together, then they MAY be able to sort it out. We are separated. We live in different cities. That was their best suggestion.

After a week of this farce, the queer fella got hold of someone at o2 with a bit of sense who broke the rules and phoned me whilst talking to him on another line. Simples people. Within 24 hours my old number ported through and miraculously worked. All was forgiven.

That was last month.

This morning, my new shiny iphone had no service. I did all the usual on/off stuff. Still nada. The phone shop in the high street repeated the on/off stuff and directed me to the o2 shop, a short drive away. They did the same stuff, without resolution. They offered a new sim card if I confirmed to customer service that I am who I am. Which is, a customer: their priority.

Inexplicably customer service said the sim card had been disconnected and my phone number was being ported elsewhere. But I pay by direct debit I say, like that makes any kind of any difference! So customers are a priority except when they want to use their phones.

Where has it been ported to? It wasn’t entirely clear. Who requested the port? And when? And why would someone do this?. They didn’t know but, they did say: there appears to have been some confusion with your account. Demonstrating once again my priority status.

I was inside an o2 shop so I didn’t get cut off and after less than half an hour of hold ‘musak’ they got me up and running again. Although the customer service guy wasn’t entirely sure how that happened and was as surprised as me when one last on/off thing worked.

Feel better now. My rant is over, but if you’re looking to port a number I’d suggest avoiding o2.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Pain in the bum

I missed the first 30 seconds of Sunday’s Rugby tournament. So I missed Teengirl hitting the deck. The ambulance arrived before me so I was greeted by a bit of party and an entonox high in the back of the van. Sadly, for every giggle there was a bit of a scream.

The next five hours were spent, mainly waiting, in Watford General Hospital: a couple of hours in a corridor, a painful body board slide and a very silly incident with a high girl and a bedpan. In the absence of any other amusement I ate all the packed food. Well, she was nil by mouth and I was bored. There’s only so much amusement to be had from laughter mixed with tears. And there was quite a large quantity of food, designed for a long day of high energy on a rugby pitch. Don’t think sitting in an NHS chair counts, but what can I say? Time goes slower in a hospital than anywhere else on earth.

It wasn’t all dull though, we had Gollum in the next bay to keep us amused. I don’t suppose it was actually Gollum, but the ancient creature both looked and sounded like the real thing. In hindsight, it doesn’t take much to amuse a Teengirl mainlining laughing gas or a bored woman. And it wasn’t all time wasted: she revised for biology by applying her knowledge to blood pressure. Am hoping in the real exam the intermittent hysteria will be missing. Like Queen Victoria, the attending nurse looked the opposite to amused. Think the whole of Watford breathed a sigh of relief when proper pain relief was finally given and Teengirl shut up and fell asleep.

A couple of exams and x-rays later they said: 'Nothing broken. Take these pills and crutches and bugger off. It’s just a pain in the bum'. No really, it is a pain in the bum. Also known as Ischiogluteal something. A soft tissue injury – right where the hamstring joins the pelvis. That’s the bit that’s used when bending the knee, straightening the hip or when sitting. Sitting is a painful problem. Next week Teengirl has AS exams. Where a certain amount of sitting will, no doubt, be required.

So to the Physio today to speed up the heal. It was painful for Teengirl, and for me to watch her do a few simple exercises. In the absence of food in my bag I chewed my nails.

We’re back again on Friday for more torture. And a bit of hope that soon she’ll be able to sit.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

A Sporting Chance

Parenting is not an olympic sport. It can require olympic sized skill and stamina so perhaps it should be. Or does that stink a little too much of martydom? Which I’m avoiding this week. Like the sofa as a) I never get hold of the tv controls, b) the drone of either dustbin telly or teen drama does my head in and c) I tend to fall asleep as soon as I get the chance to sit down.

Sticking with the Olympics, apparently one in six mums failed to apply for the London Olympic ticket ballot because they were too busy looking after their children. That’s according to the P&G eggheads anyway. I didn’t apply either. Booking tickets was on my todo list for a while which probably puts it in the 50% of the list that should be crossed off as soon as written because about that proportion will never ever be achieved.

So I didn’t apply, partly because I'm a bit busy and partly because once my day was done on the very last booking day twitter and facebook told me not to bother. You’d think the geeks behind the website would know the last hours of the last day were going to be busy. And you’d think they’d know how annoying ticket websites are in general. They are geeks after all. I’ve only just recovered from the Take That ticket fandango and the last thing I want to do at the end of a long day is press refresh. Refresh. Refresh.

I’d like to go to the London Olympics. It’s a chance in a lifetime. And, they are only a stone’s throw from where we live. We’ve put up with the roadwork improvements long enough (only another year to go). Ok so the first night they went on sale none of the dustbin lids could agree on what they’d like to watch, but I don’t care. I’d happily watch any of it. Especially that curling business. That looks great. And I love a bit of ribbon twirling as much as the next one. Am resigned to the fact that the opening and closing ceremonies will probably look better on the telly. Except for the crowds. There’s a limit to how many we can fit on the sofa at any one time.

So find myself slightly cheered that P&G is giving away tickets to demonstrate its commitment to supporting mums and families. All you have to do is buy one of their brands for a chance to win tickets.

I’m not a hugely brand loyal type. And I don't know what products are P&G. I think they make Olay. That's one of those old fashioned face creams that is a must have for all beauty regimes, but frankly it’s too strongly associated with Granny for my liking. As opposed to knitting which is totally OK, granny is allowed to start some trends, but I don’t take my beauty hints from the over 80s. Yet.

I think P&G make lots of laundry product, but I’m not really prepared to muck about with those since I had to rewash our entire family’s holiday wardrobe less than 24 hours before departure due to an alergic reaction to my last change of powder. I’ve stuck with the same product for the past decade.

So all you have to do is buy a product. But I bet you then have to tear off a label, without tearing off the teeny tiny print on where you have to send the smallest bit of paper. Which will be thrown in the bottom of the bucketsized handbag where it will languish until after the next Olympic deadline. Should task the littleun. She is the most consciencous in our house. Whosoever fills out the form, gets to choose the event. Or do you get what you’re given when your hoping to get them free with the soap?

I should say despite the mentions, this blog is not actually sponsored by P&G. If it were I would say so. As bloggers do it with integrity. I’m not against being sponsored as clearly I’m not against payment. Have been thinking of signing up for that sort of thing but it probably requires form filling and a fair ole bit of refresh refresh refresh. And today, I’ve too much laundry.

Hey ho.

Monday, 2 May 2011

The long weekend

The garden is as dry as dust. Shall climb down from my cross and spend more time watering. Am bored of martyrdom now anyway. And the alliums are out - they always make me want to spend more time in the garden.

With the dustbin lids away for a couple of days I indulged in a little Royal Wedding coverage. Or rather a lot. I love a posh frock and a big hat. Though Posh’s own ensemble left me a little cold. The bride looked beautiful, the groom looked bald, and everyone was chirpy. So chirpy infact, Twitter crashed.

Was loving the fact that I had full control of the tv, with no interruptions. Bestmumchum popped over to avoid all the chat at her house. She talked over the wedding but I let her off as she came with a cup of hot frothy coffee. Noone does pomp like London. It was all bloody marvellous. If I was left with one lasting impression it is, without a doubt, that The Duchess, like me, has a supersis.

I didn’t waste the whole weekend stalking the royals: I met up with my forensic mate. We haven’t shopped together for years. I worried her taste was deteriorating as she pointed out some summer sandals. They looked like something Granny might wear. I need worry no more as she said she was actually looking for Granny.

The little-un started as an austringer's apprentice with Uncle Dolittle training her in the dark art of Falconry. I marvel at her calmness and practicality when in close proximity to a bird with large eyes and talons, and dead meat. Squeemish she ain't. I on the other hand, feet ill just looking at the kit. To my mind it ticks too many boxes on the potential serial killer list. Or is that just me?

The house clearance continues - in preparation for finding a buyer and moving. As a former hoarder, even I find it unbelievable just how much has accumulated under this roof. The charity shop has done well, as will the dump, when I get there.

Best of all: the ebay holiday fund is coming along nicely.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Widsom of the week

As I get older, I just prefer to knit.
Tracey Ullman

Monday, 25 April 2011

Jokes, jollity and juvenile jinks

A Scotsman walks into a bar. Meets a couple of friends, who hail from the wilds of Wales (a bit like the wild west only a tad damper) and a London Irish (not the rugby teams, just cultural heritage). They share a drink. Or maybe two. Later a bite to eat. And one for the road perhaps. The United Kingdom represented in one bar: except this being London, none in the bar were actually English.

An intro to a tacky joke? No just my usual, yet rare, night out with a couple of old mates. After a few giggles, and a lorra laughs we have another one for the road. Who knows when we’ll meet again. Except, with all the predictability of a bad bar joke, whenever the three of us are together, overexcitement tends to take over. We do have a little previous for throwing off the shackles of middle age and behaving as we once did, when we first met, a long long time ago. Which is totally becoming for our age and stature. Obviously.

Now on the wrong side of 40 I’m trying to wise up and avoid seeing them too soon after breakfast. Well that Scot clearly has hollow legs and we clearly do not. Especially when wearing killer heels (clearly not the Scotsman). I was overjoyed to find the late train home easy enough. All without a hint of Eurostar or any whispers of wandering towards Paris. And it wasn’t even the very last late train. I’d also powdered my nose before boarding. A clever trick, after having so many for the road. A fun night out, and a comfortable journey home, without crossed legs, eyes or fingers for a safe passage, with no mishaps, on the right line, and heels in tact too.

Like Cinderella, all my recent martyrdom has left me out of practice on how to stay out after midnight. Absentmindedly I wonder who’s having the house party down our way? The heaving music and loud laughter made me miss my youth when I may have tried my luck at getting into a do after the witching hour, instead of hearing my bed calling my name. Loudly and clearly. Alongwith an overwhelming desire to get those bleeding heels off.

Accepting I’m way past all that late night party malarkey I fumble for a key I hadn’t remembered to take out with me. I knock on my own front door and a stranger lets me in.

Guess that’s what you get for leaving Teengirl home alone for a whole evening. Thoughts of Facebook fuelled trash-fests swam round my head, or was that just the wine?

Rather regretted that last one for the road as a strange sensation took over my feet and I feared losing the use of them. Both. At the same time. Relieved to at least have made it home before realising my feet were broken. Just had to make it past all the teenagers before taking the heels off. Shoes off and I realise my mistake. It's the floors that are wrong. Teenagers are clearly not able to keep sticky drinks in their hands and prefer instead to throw them about the floors making it virtually impossible to pick one foot up after putting it down. The following day I discover vertical surfaces are included in the sticky drink target practice, but luckily when the house was full I wasn’t climbing the walls so didn’t notice. I saved that treat for Teengirl the following day.

I hobbled into the garden and found Teengirl. ‘Good party?’.

Sternly, she said ‘it’s not a party’. Apparently less than twenty people doesn’t count.

A little tired and emotional I may have been but I realise they aren't a bad bunch. Turning the music down a tad and engaging in a little washing up quickly did the trick in the teen clearing scheme of things.

Ah to be young again.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Worry of the day

I worry that martyrdom is taking over my days

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Nothing has no sides

My little-un knows and loves her mathematical onions. And sometimes, she can be more rigid in her stubbornness than a goat getting stubborn mule-slash-terrier-dog with a bone. Often this is charming and delightful. It can also be irritating and embarrassing. I have known this for a long time.

Her Student Teacher is on a steep learning curve. During a lesson on shapes the little-un said he was mistaken. I question her arguing with a teacher, but question more a teacher ‘Asking Jeeves’ to settle an argument. With a 9 year old. But I digress. Arguments, like shapes, have at least one side.

Another day, another lesson, another shape, another family meal dominated by maths talk. Before worrying about what kind of geek freaks I’m raising: maths doesn’t usually feature round our table, so prominently, nor for so long.

But we all agreed: nothing has no sides. A circle is not a nothing. Therefore it cannot have no sides. Both circles and rectangles feature in some 3D shapes, especially cylinders. Mr Student Teacher made a mistake. His more serious error, in the little-un’s book, was to argue, unconvincingly, otherwise.

Teachers have a tough job: it’s not all short days and long holidays. Teaching is an art. It’s not easy, and it's not for everyone, but done well it is beautiful and inspiring. The little-un knows a beautiful and inspiring teacher when she sees one.

She sees Mr Student Teacher and his math skills differently. Knowing her, I think he may just have a little bitty inkling about this. A quick chat and our usual uber-competent teacher is on the case. She talks the little-un out of losing her love of maths. But the little-un's mistrust grows and is starting to resemble a strong dislike.

Mr Student still teaches. Little-un still moans. I thought he redeemed himself by awarding her ‘star of the week’. Her reponse: ‘he knows I’m better at maths than him’. Hmmm.

It’s the holidays, so I’m the teacher now. This week a little tolerance might be on the cards.

As well as the ole chestnut that is the times tables.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Family Reading

My Teengirl is currently reading ‘How to survive family life: they f*** you up’. Am bracing myself for the fallout of her newfound understanding of my parenting shortcomings. But, frankly, family life isn’t always easy. Dustbin lids don’t come with an instruction manual. Though one might prove useful, I’d probably ignore it.

This week I read reviews of 'Shattered: Modern Motherhood and the Illusion of Equality' by Rebecca Asher, a new mother. She’s angry about the inequality parenthood brings. Go figure sister: welcome to the real world. Life’s not fair. Equality may work at work, but the arrival of dustbin lids changes things indoors. For ever. She’s clearly not yet used to the sleep deprivation that comes with being a parent: it takes at least a decade. She suggests the government forces fathers into equality. I think she’s wasting her precious time and energy. She is yet to learn that just as tiredness can cause anger, motherhood can cause martyrdom.

Family life can be full of drudge. And mess. And poop. And laundry. Always laundry. And tears. And challenges. And joy. Deep joy. And laughter. Lots of laughter. Inequality starts in the earliest days of pregnancy: as the smell of his morning coffee makes you want to puke. The paths of motherhood and fatherhood are different, and in places uneven. With this realisation, the puke reflex returns.

Sadly, there wasn’t much mention of the lids in the reviews. I haven't read the book so I don't know where their perspective fits in. I lay no claims at being a perfect mother. Who'd want to be one of those? They seem smug and irritating. I don’t always get it right. And, what works for me, won’t work for my sister. But I know I’ve been blessed with children. They are a gift. To be treasured. And we don’t want to f*** them up any more than we were by our parents.

Do we?

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Happy Birthday Mom

Today is my mom’s birthday. I’m not at liberty to say exactly how old she would have been because she never ever admitted to being of any age at all. Shortly before she died she told me not to be getting any ideas about organising any kind of a surprise 70th Birthday party, because she knew what I was like, and she was not going to be 70, no matter what Dad, or anyone else said.

She was right. As ever. Because she never got to 70 and we were indeed thinking of a birthday party. We have a bit of form for surprises: because if you told her of party plans she’d try to cancel them. Although she loved to roar with laugher, she didn’t like a big fuss. We managed to pull off a surprise 40th Wedding Anniversary party for her and Dad. It was great. Mom loved it, because she didn’t have time to worry beforehand. But I think it may have been a tad embarrassing for her, especially in front of her newer friends.

I come from a predictably large Irish family and Mom was a bit coy about admitting exactly how many children she had: stereotypical responses are, afterall, predictable and annoying. But stereotypes exist and persist for a reason. It doesn’t fuss me but then having lots of siblings is different to having lots of children.

I love being part of a huge family, even if they are terrible teasers. But as one of my elder brothers said at the 40th Party: ‘You’re lucky, at least she admits you exist!’

Happy eighty-something Mom!

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Whimsy Momma

My horoscope said engaging in a little whimsy will do me good. It’s a sign: spend less time in the Nativity Room - where all laundry related business is contained, with 57 varieties of sports kit, made do and mend supplies, arts and crafts materials, the room of a thousand unfinished projects, and every other piece of homeless crap ever invented. Despite the extraordinary amount of time I'm in there, I know the likes of Mrs Beeton would have kittens if they saw the state of it.

Instead of hours failing with a needle and my forty-eye-tus, I ordered an Ancient Greek costume off t’net. A costume that is, not a threaded needle, although I can see the market potential for the sale of pre-threaded needles. Except as can so often be the way with purchases off t’net – a Roman one arrived. To my mind they’re pretty similar, both being white and all, but the little-un can read. And she read, very loudly and very clearly, repeatedly: ‘Roman’, ‘Roman’, ‘RO- MAN costume’, in the tone of voice usually reserved for the company of half-deaf-half-dead-half-silly old folks. I wasn’t about to give in with the needle-threading as I’m after a little whimsy afterall, so I resorted to my tried and tested trick for handling unbecoming behaviour in little-uns: I ignored it.

As my arms are no longer long enough to cope with the growing short sightedness, I realise the first flush of youth is now just a distant memory and flushes of another variety loom large on the horizon. So I invested in some reading glasses. They’re great… for reading, but otherwise disappointing as they smell of middle-agedness.

I needed a change so off to the hairdressers I went(remembering to go the long way round to avoid that salon that gave me that haircut that screamed so loudly of being so very way past the yoof-style-stakes-post – think Delia Smith in her pudding-bowl hey day). Feeling more bold than old, I asked for something different. It looked alright when it had been primped and preened, and dried and waxed and teased. By the following morning it looked like I’d hacked at it myself in some sort of emo statement, perhaps in sympathy with our poor demented dog. It’s short. It’s sharp. Yet not a hint of Delia in sight.

Can’t wait for the next bit of whimsy.

Thursday, 31 March 2011

The house that rocked

Big John may have been onto something when he gave his kids lessons in how to close a door quietly. In this house there are more multiple entrances and exits than a half decent French farce.

I however, appear to be alone in my ability to come and go without rocking the whole house.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Festival Fever

The 2011 Palmers Green Festival is on the 3rd July. It’s great-fun-for-all-the-family. Put it in your diary. I’m helping out with it and it’s for charidee. Before domestic bliss took over I worked in PR, way back when social networking was but a tiny twinkle in the eye of some geek. I therefore lay no claim as any sort of social media expert. But I did put the Festival on Facebook and emailed other volunteers. Here’s what I’m working with:
- I haven’t responded on Facebook as I don’t know how! Can you show me how? I have a few friends.
- What’s facebook?
- You can’t do facebooktube? I’ve progressed to mugmag, so much better, it’s for older people.
- I’ve never heard of Facebooktube or mugmag (which sounds like something us muggles would use)
- I think I have 3 friends on fartbook and one of them is an axe murderer in America who has the same name as a friend of mine.
- Help! Someone wants to be my friend.

And all so soon after this exchange:
- Trying to get facebook on my phone. How do I do it?
- Try putting a phonebook on your face. It’s easier.

Woo hoo for the wonders of the modern world.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Annoying Repeats

Repeating what someone is saying to you is as irritating to one party as amusing to the other.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Doggy Doldrums Disaster

Recently, the dog went to Supersis whilst we holidayed. The dog was not happy, for there she is treated like a dog. Whereas here, we allow behaviour befitting of royal lineage. We left instructions: the Lady Gaga collar, to prevent self harming, was to be removed under supervision. But Supersis is not known as Supersis for no reason. And, she has years on me on the dog experience front. ‘Tis an actual fact, despite her self-styled introductions as my younger sister, that Supersis has more years on me full stop.

As is her want, Supersis monitored the dog. Closely. And she researched. A lot. So now she’s bragging another feather in her cap: that of dog psychologist. Caesar Milan beware! I knew it wasn’t doggy eczema and I know that dog care moved, somewhat, further down the daily to do list in recent months. According to Supersis, aided by her vast animal care library and Dr t’net, the dog is displaying signs of an obsessive compulsive disorder. Separation anxiety is one known cause. ‘Tis also a fact that the problem worsened just as my relationship status changed to single. In conclusion we can safely add, again, to the queer fella’s fault list: destroyer of dog psyche.

Supersis has a stategy and a plan. She dispensed with the Lady Gaga collar, for the dog was obsessively licking that. And it was very annoying when it got you on the back of the legs, or when you were wearing a skirt. Supersis is on prototype number 9 of the leg shields, whilst rehabilitating the dog into a different behaviour pattern: no mention of the legs, lots more stimulation, more mixing with the other dogs, and discouraging the aloof princess trick. The self harmer actually prefers the company of the cat (the one that thinks it’s a dog, not the psycho screecher ). Supersis’s strategy is largely working, in that the dog will now only get at her legs when she can hide. As life has proved to me again and again, ‘tis impossible to hide much from Supersis for any real length of time. On the up the dog is now grooming herself again, even if she did pick that one up from the cat. And she no longer stares at the radiator, well not much anyways. She’s not a stupid dog. When Supersis is about the dog is a dog.

So now I have a dog with a mental disorder. Which is just what was missing from my life. We are all on a guilt trip. But at least we have visitation rights. I miss the dog. My waist line misses the exercise. I’m not missing clearing up dog shit, or moult, but wonder will we ever get her back?

More worryingly, if that’s the impact on the dog, what hope for the lids?

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

I've got a feeling

Feels like spring: this week the sun shone for more than a minute, on more than two days; the biting cold is in retreat; the garden is budding and, I’ve been writing. All good stuff. Not like that long cold winter that lasted for ever: like the devilish detail of the divorce process.

The best thing about being nearly single is making your own rules. Not that I didn’t before, but now I have the joy of not arguing with anyone about my latest fad. I’ve a strong desire to suggest a weekly fancy dress dinner to the dustbin lids but know it’ll be met with those rolling eyes and tutting that the teenagers have off to perfection. After watching the world’s strictest parents, am thinking dictatorial might be next week’s preferred parenting style. Can you dictate fancy dress?

We’ve expanded. The sensible ‘one in, one out’ malarkey is not for us. Firstly, with one, then two, small furry creatures. Not by my choice: an all night mouse-watch and the rat-trapped-in-the-chimney shenanigans are too vivid in my memory to choose anything involving small creatures. My first error of judgement was leaving the little-un with the uncle with more animals than sense. The second was to let Teengirl’s pet envy get the better of her. So now two little furry rodent ladies, of the not terribly sociable persuasion, live in separate cages in the dining room (sensible, really, when you think about it, the separate bit not the dining room). And, don’t the two ugly smelly cages fit in, oh so well, with this year’s de-cluttering resolution.

Yet, despite my natural mistrust, fear and hatred of small furry things, as far as rodents go, hamsters aren’t that bad. I almost warmed to their cute little face washing thing. Until they got comfortable. And their nocturnal habits kicked in. I knew hamsters liked to run. But through the night? Every night? On torturously squeaky wheels? Neither WD40 nor soap helps. Ear plugs seem to do the trick.

With two sisters and three female pets, Teenboy bemoaned this all female house. Luckily my favourite nephew is staying whilst finding his Londoner feet. Having another lad in the house adds to the interest, if also to the amount of footy found on the box and the volume of food consumed.

As for the sad case of the self-harming dog, Supersis is, thankfully, on the case.

On the laundry front, I’m the owner of another new washing machine, as I’m yet to find one that copes with our laundry past the warranty period. Boo hoo.

Woo hoo for the end is nigh for the ever-lasting mobile contract (‘tis easier to exit a marriage than such things) meaning the very latest whiz-bang of a small shiny feat of design and cool technology is soon to be within my grasp.

Spring is sprung. The sun has shone. Life's grand really.