Saturday 27 June 2009

Nature and other nasties

A dead quail in one hand and a padlock key in the other as twelve chickens clucked at my feet for treats. A tricky moment. Would the curious chooks take a peck if I laid the dead thang at my feet? I settled for the windowsill. Poor at the best of times my lock skills hit melt down as the weather changed from grumbling thunder to full on sloppy dolloppy rain. My flip flops became slop slips. Worse, I had to actually look at the dead thang to pick it up again.

Not content with singlehandedly doing my own family home thang, I’m covering another. In the country. With more livestock. I know there are twelve chickens because we count them out in the mornings and count them back in, in the evenings. I’m not so sure of the numbers of ducks, rabbits ferrets and goats. Two wild ducks, who know a good thang when they see it, have additionally taken up residence. There is also one Gos Hawk.

I don’t know a lot about Hawks, I am pleased to say. But I know they watch you. Luckily this Hawk is in ‘moult’, so cooped up right now. Hence the padlock. So I didn’t have to watch her, watching me. Unluckily, she is unable to hunt so needs feeding daily. She eats dead thangs. Which have to be defrosted. And picked up. And poked through a small tube. Thank goodness for surgical gloves.

Gorgeous Boy was supposed to do the Hawk thang. But he was out. He did text to check if I’d done the deed. When I bemoaned the experience he replied that he does it with his bare hands. He is most certainly a real boy. I am not. Nor would I want to be. You don't see me running around a field, in the rain, in shorts, and a superman top. That is the very essence of his boyness.

Last week was too unbearably sad to blog. So I didn’t. The King of Pop’s death was not the first death I’d had news of. It wasn’t the second either. Or third. Or fourth. It had the least effect. I am sick of his songs. Overplay is overkill.

Before school yesterday, the lids and I returned home to sort our own animals. We were greeted by a dead goldfish on the kitchen floor. I think it was making a dash for freedom. It failed.

It summed the week up.

Monday 15 June 2009

Thursday 11 June 2009

I tried to go to Rehab

‘Needs to get out more’ I thought as I hoovered the tumble dryer. This was after I’d noticed an independent eco-system growing on the fluffy pink sofa throw. So, the throw got washed. Then the throw got shook. What appeared to be a rash on my arms was, in fact, pink fluff. All available surfaces in the nativity room were equally covered in the same pink fluff. Even after a turn in that great fluff collector aka the tumble dryer more of the pink fluff stuff appeared. Hence the hoover. What else do you do on a day off?

Good news from the hurdy gurdy hand guy: the Teenager’s thumb is healing. Hopefully, no surgery: so another cast, for another three weeks. Now she’s sporting a high five rather than thumbs up. My writing, in permanent marker, ‘keep dry’ and ‘do not use’ wasn’t a cool thang to do as she went camping. Neither was her using it to bang in tent pegs, or as a rounders bat. Nor, upon her muddy return, getting in a bath, without sealing the seal on the seal-it-to-keep-dry-in-water-thang.

As I walked the dog I reviewed the life lessons I’ve learnt this week:

  • wet casts do, eventually, dry on their own
  • no matter how much searching you do, lost Oyster cards remain lost
  • when meeting a fellow blogger, and you 'follow' each other the conversation has a certain déjà vu feel
  • my non-existent job description includes 'cleaning'
  • CRB checks, whilst not preventing child abuse, do prevent parents accompanying little lids on school trips (actually it’s a lack of CRB checks that prevents the latter, but that would involve the filling in of a form rather than filing it in recycling)
  • whatever your age a telling off from a teacher makes you feel like a small child (I am still to plan the penance for Gorgeous Boy)

The dog walk took me past the Priory. It looked ever so inviting. I wondered whether hoovering a tumble dryer was reason enough for a ‘wee holiday’, but was distracted by whether I could see pink fluff in the dog’s do. Reality brought me back to the important issues of my day. Not exactly world poverty or hunger, nor even tube strikes but much more pressing all the same. Did I have enough food in for tea for the lids and the dog? Or was I going to have to face another supermarket sweep and what other same-old-same-old dull dull chores would I fit in before the school run. Due to the demands of the job of He-who-must-be-adored of saving London and, increasingly, Spain (the same demands that put coffers in the bank) I've recently been feeling, ever so slightly, like a single parent. Without the weekends off.

Being such a shallow soul, when the sun came out, my mood lifted.

Tuesday 9 June 2009

Not so rosy in the garden

Returning from the half term heat the hens started a-laying. Scores so far: Clucky 5, Kebab 1. Kebab’s single effort was egg-shaped but it’s pushing even the little-un’s great imagination to call it an egg. Her genetically hybridified heritage (Kebab’s not the little-un) to lay virtually all year round is being most firmly rejected. She becomes more crazed daily and the bad joke about the bad korma of her name haunts me. Last night Crazy old Kebab ‘went’ for the dog. Ever courageous, the dog dived on her favourite dwarf (old bath toys now get recycled as dog toys) and instead of standing her ground both dog and Dopey went hurtling into the bushes.

Now they’ve both stopped a-laying - the chickens not the dog. Obviously. Because if the dog ever laid anything other than in my way then the whole world would know about it. Anyways, instead they are a-scratching. Fine when they confined themselves to lawn moss. Foolish me welcomed the gardening help. A flowerbed of foxgloves was their next territory. The same bed which had trouble recovering from the little-un’s weeding expo. They need a dust bath I thought, perhaps we’ll get more eggs if they are happy free-rangers. Let them have their bed! And yet, my mantra returns: give ‘em an inch and whaddayaknow? They found their way under the netting: my pathetic attempt at veggy protection. I shoo them and they find new nectar: what was once the spring bulb patch is now a mulch of mud and dust. Nowt remains under the roses. They have scratched and pecked around the newly planted sun flowers. The tallest sunflower competition has, unfortunately, fallen at the first hurdle.

Now what we need is for He-who-must-be-adored, freshly returned from boozing/working in Spain, to spend sometime, outside his office, building a mega-chicken run to stop all this free ranging malarkey. Then the chocks can recover their layabilty (wouldn’t we all like to?) before it’s time for their summer moult, during which time, apparently, there generally is no a-laying.

Hey ho for the happy life on the urban farm!

Friday 29 May 2009

Euro Excursions

Half term travel, with Urinal Air, where inflight snacks cost more than the fares. After a short delay, they announced...a short delay. No turbulance so no extra charges for sick bags. Instead spent more euros than decent on less Cava than needed. The injured teenager, two overtired dustbin lids and myself landed in Madrid, at midnight, on Wednesday. Pity He-who-must-be-adored wasn't there to greet us. He had trouble finding the terminal. The same terminal where He has previously met me. And all because of a 'team building exercise'. In a bar. Whilst watching Bacca thrash MU.

So a very different half term holiday from Tallmumchum. She text: sitting out force ten in tent, on cliff top, too dangerous to dismantle. Ever the swot, she later text: tell the book club it was a good read and kept me company at a low point. I text back: it was nice knowing you. can I have your car? But guilt set in when I didn't hear back. Eventually she text from the safety of the car: don't feel guilty, I didn't as I swigged wine early on.

Back in Madrid. Yesterday He-who-must-be-adored worked whilst we played. With no guilt at all. We took the cable car across the city. I thought I gave a brave performance, despite my fear of heights. I neither cried nor puked. Even though I wanted to. The dustbin lids loved it and I tried, but failed, to find their enthusiasm infectious. I clung on for dear life and had a complete sense of humour failure as they tried to rock the boat/car thang that looked a little flimsy in my humble opinion. Afterwards I recovered in the shade of a tree as they enjoyed being the only lids in an 1800 acre park. With her hand cast in the thumbs up position the Teenager couldn't enjoy the full delights of an empty play park. (As if she'd stoop so low.) Later I asked the lids what was the best bit of the holiday so far. The Little-un: watching Art Attack on tv in Spanish; Gorgeous Boy: being able to lay down on the enormous sofa bed, whilst watching TV; The teenager: hopefully her tan, but did I know we were missing Britain's Got Talent, AND the launch of Big Brother?

So worth dragging the couch potatoes abroad then!

Thursday 21 May 2009

Chicks, cits and cava bien

It started at the front door: the threshold was breached a month ago. We spent a few minutes stamping them out. We did the stamp stamp stamp routine on every return home before deciding, let’s not audition for stomp. We need a better pest-control approach. We countered their assault with specially designed traps. It worked for a while. Their next offensive was through the sitting room. When we came home to a motorway of marching ants, clearly by-passing the not-that-well-designed traps we took some tough action. Ant-watch only lasted a few minutes before we established their entrance under the skirting board. We murdered, maimed and hoovered and went on our own offensive with the powerful powdered killing stuff. This past week they have been appearing, in pairs, in the kitchen. I can’t quite work out their entry point, but think it may be somewhere behind the dishwasher. Every obvious and not-quite-so-obvious weak point has been powdered. Still they come. Supersis bemoans one ant in the house: her theory being it only takes one scout to call up a whole army. There is no surrender. I need a more strategic approach. I fear we are attracting super ants immune to the powerful powdered stuff that makes the dog sneeze.

Tonight, the little-un asks what is the point of ants? I describe their strength and organisation skills easily enough. I feel she has a point about the point.

It’s official. My chicken, Kebab, is crazy. And, I worry, a little dysfunctional too. It’s not just because her comb isn’t growing. Clucky, whilst a bit shy, has a nice bright red comb – that means eggs are on their way sometime soon (pleeeeeeeze). Clucky has, in general, cottoned on to the idea that you go out and play, for a while, then you go back in. Kebab, on the other hand, has issues. She has a stunted comb. She has tasted freedom. And it tastes good. She would rather run here there and everybleeding-where than accept it’s time to go in. She’ll learn. With a wee bit more training. Won’t she?

Now I don’t know what teacher training is like these days but I am at a loss to understand how the Teenager’s Citizenship teacher failed to spot the huge cast on the hand that sports the thumb in a completely unnatural position. Despite being cast from thumb tip to elbow the poor Teenager was made to complete a test today. By hand. At the ‘new’ secondary school. With specialist technology status. Where everything is computerised. Yet they fail to read emails. Marked urgent. About injuries. And exams and thangs.

My French pal might say, that’s life, which reminds me…He-who-must-be-adored text me last night. I thought he was asking, in French, how I was (Ca’va?) Apparently not. He was asking did I want some of that sparkling Spanish stuff (cava). My text back saying fine thanks and you, went completely amiss. As they say…c’est la vie. (I do so hope my very special French friend is proud of me tonight!)

Wednesday 20 May 2009

Maybe it's because she's a Londoner

So what if I carry 'Hen and the art of chicken maintenance'as my new waiting room read? Doesn't automatically make me one-dimensional, dreary or deluded? Does it?

To another London NHS waiting room today. Eventually my 'Reflections on keeping chickens' was interrupted by the Swedish 'Bone Guy' (you couldn't make it up). Except it's not the Teenager's bone that's broken. It’s a ligament. And (imagine the muppet chef telling you) think rubber band. That’s way more complicated than a broken bone. So the Teenager is sporting a cast, and it looks like she’ll be sporting one for a whole big while. She may need (hurdy guerdy) not one, but two, (guerdy hurdy) operations. So should I be feeling a little guilt that on Sunday we had a choice: casualty or restaurant? The outlaws were staying so the restaurant won and the doctor had to wait. Boy have I paid in waiting time ever since. Yet...every cloud... it legitimately gets her out of GCSE art coursework for a while. Now I don’t have to be so creative with the Monday morning excuses.

To the football ground this evening to watch Gorgeous Boy play. My pleasure at meeting up with my oldest (and only) French-parent-pal dissolved as the Boy hit the pitch. The last thing I need right now is another injured child. Should I ban all Sports so we become fat and injury free together? Luckily some anti-inflams, a bit of ice, elevation and TLC soon had that injury licked.
I’m learning.

It just so happens that last week I bought some ‘super food mix’ containing flaxseeds and other natural organic ‘stuff’. The plan was to secretly mix it in to everything I prepare. My lids will become Superlids, with super fast healing powers. Except, so far, I have forgotten to include it in every meal. I remembered tonight but thought it might look a bit obvious on the supermarket pizza.

I can’t finish today’s blog without some reference to my feathered friends. The geeky gal came today to check out the chooks. Think it’s fair to say that ‘impressed’ is the complete opposite of her response. And still no eggs. We may have been sold a dud with Kebab – her comb doesn’t appear to be growing. No comb equals no eggs. Maybe it’s because she’s a Londoner but my Little-un seems to freak the chickens. Especially Clucky: in her shy and retiring way she tries to hide. In a circular-running-not-managing-to-hide-at-all-type way. Kebab is a bit more feisty and just one look at the little-un starts her squawking in a far from pleasant manner. She tries so hard with her cute little chook chooking and throwing food at them. Yet they see her and run. Like headless chickens. The dog, ever the opportunist, observes all this before diving on the chook food. The chooks flap then cower. The little-un goes in for the kill and tries to catch them. Eventually I feel sorry for them all and distract the little-un with important chores such as drowning the veggy patch.

Ah this is the life.

Tuesday 19 May 2009

Hold a chicken in the air

Rare and shocking? Yes. Easy for me to admit? No. Safe to blog about? Who knows but here goes: He-who-must-be-adored was right. That’s twice in our marriage. Obviously I’ve not told Him. That would not do. He might start questioning my ‘rightness’ on other matters. That would be a step too far. He almost never reads this so I’m sure I’m safe in admitting it here. I'm worried this is the start of something ugly.

I overruled his desire (as is my wont) to purchase Peckingham Palace. Our Chook Coop looked plenty big enough in the shop (huge in fact). As did the space we spent ages digging and slabbing and fox-proofing. Kebab and Clucky moved in and now it looks…well piddly is the only word for it. The guilt has set in and He-who-must-be-adored has built them a daytime run at more expense. Slowly, He is clearing an even bigger space and designing something approximating half the garden. Well, the dustbin lids can go to the park, chickens can’t. I'm ignoring my guilt about not listening to He in the first place.

Still, once built the new huge thang should cut down on time corralling them into their holiday home. That’s partly why there’s not been much blogaction. Spare time is needed for chicken watch, whilst sometimes simultaneously playing on my i-phone.

Clucky, we think, is older as her comb is almost full grown but it’s definitely Kebab who rules the roost. Boy is she feisty. After happily pecking and scratching, she suddenly turns, takes a half flying leap at poor Clucky, with loud chook-chook-chooking and wing flapping, before just as suddenly going back to her business of eating my plants. Am keeping the fear that Kebab is a psycho chick to myself. Then again, the size of their heads doesn’t allow much space for a brain. This shows in their behaviour. The first night we fretted like new parents as they had to be persuaded to go up the ramp to bed. In the morning they were inelegantly pushed down for breakfast. It only took them three days to get the point. After that whenever they heard the voice of He-who-must-be-adored they ran up the ramp at full pelt. Perhaps not so dumb afterall?

Kebab and clucky are too young to lay eggs. And, by my calculations the average cost of the first year’s eggs will be roughly £50 each. Luckily we’re not in it for the money. We just love the whole idea of country living – whilst firmly settled in London with all mod-cons like the tube and John Lewis. The little-un and I pretend we live in the sticks with our little veggy patch and chickens. We spend ages shooing the latter from the former. I accept a lot of poop, scooping, smelly beasts and dog hair. Lots of dog hair. Well, ‘tis easier to surrender and accept than to drive myself mad with cleaning and moaning. My head is full of animals facts - the latest being the power of chook bedding for good composting. Wonder is my former personality dead in the water?

Yet, I do have other topics of conversation: The dry ole patch didn’t last that long. He-who-must-be-adored is no longer bone dry, but then neither is he as sodden as he was. And The Teenager has my full sympathy for her rugby-injured-writing-hand when she has a GCSE exam. My sympathy is only wearing a wee bit thin from time waiting at the GP’s (one hour) and Casualty (under three hours), only to be shown the teeniest tiny bit of floating bone. Wonder how long the wait will be to see the ‘bone guy’ tomorrow?

Off outside now for more chook action.

Monday 4 May 2009

If you like it then you shoulda stuck a pin on it

I love technology. I just hate it when it doesn’t do what it says on the can. Or rather, when I can’t get it to do what it can, and should, do. I have been trying to find my inner geek since He-who-must-be-adored gave me a super-dooper-all-singing-and-dancing-thingy-ma-jig of a small shiny thang. It may, in fact, have been a peace offering from He after another one of our little discussions where I was right and He was not. Whatever! I love it. I want to kiss it. I want to marry it. Only, it didn't start off too well:

Me: Take it back
He: why?
Me: because it’s broken
He: how?
Me: there’s no-where for the Sim to go

…later after returning the damn thang to the shop …

He: there's a leaflet in the box
Me: really?
He: there's a pin in it
Me: What?
He: See this leaflet, on the back, there’s a pin, you should have stuck a pin on it!

First hurdle overcome fairly painlessly. Second hurdle - feeling too old for new technology - more tricky. Trickier still was the realisation that my thumbs are fat. Fat thumbs and small shiny i-phones do not go. I feel really sorry for those with fat thumbs and no Teenager. How are they supposed to cope? My lovely Teenager mastered the thang in a nano-second, downloaded all sorts of Apps (applications for you non-geeks) and ever so patiently gave me a lesson, without treating me like the complete old fool I feel I have become. Now I just don’t know how I lived without it.

Ok so I have never put up a shelf in my entire life (I have six brothers for god’s sake why would I?). But now I can tell the shelf-hangers whether their handiwork is level using my handy i-spirit level. I can feel my inner foreman coming to the fore. After criticising his handiwork I could use the i-stethoscope to tell He-who-must-be-adored that shouting at me is raising his pulse above healthy levels.

At the tip of my little fat thumbs, I have instant access to the world, and his wife. So, should the fancy take me I could find out where to buy oysters, get directions there with a traffic and weather update and check out the jam cams en route. Ok so I could have done that before with the yellow pages, a map, the radio, and my computer, but that’s not the point. I can carry my diary and shopping list in my hand so I know instantly where I should be and what I need. Even if I am not where I am suppose to be, I can apologise, by text or email, instantly. I can enjoy a game of hangman or tictac. I can play my mini-piano and drums (‘play’ perhaps is the wrong word for the noise I make). I’ve downloaded a compass app, but can’t find north yet, but Oh how I love that thang.

I pass my time dreaming of apps I might enjoy. Then I wonder if they do exist could I get them to work? If they don’t would anyone want them anyway? So instead of chatting to myself about how to handle the latest emotional turmoil heaped upon me by the dustbin lids or He-who-must-be-adored my headspace goes something like this: A 'lazyreader' could review new books so I don’t have to bother reading them. Mmmn that’s what reviewers do. And I like reading books. Ok, so what about 'The Screwdriver' that could tell me the tools and ‘bits and bobs’ needed for any given job. Mmm I’d rather ring a man who can ie He-who-must-be-adored. I can do i-shopping, banking and social networking, but I really am holding out for the app that will choose a menu, get the ingredients delivered, hire someone to cook it and clean up afterwards. Mmm the high street is already full of those – Restaurants I think they’re called!”

Small wonder no brain space for blogging!

Thursday 23 April 2009

Proceed with caution

Tonight is twelfth night. On the wagon. He and me continue our journey upon this dry ole road, with some caution, a bit of trepidation, rather less difficulty than expected, and rather a lot of tea. We’ve switched to de-caf now. Less sleep interference.

The best: He-who-must-be-adored is no longer a snore bore. It must have been the booze wot done it all those years.

The worst: He has read my blog. Well, one post. And only after someone else mentioned it. I should not have been surprised at his reaction to his faults and foibles being published on T’net. But given his previous interest in my writing, I never thought he’d read it. From now on I may have to exercise more caution with my candour. I begin by not sharing the details of our last disagreement/shouting match. Anway the details are irrelevant. The facts remain: I am right. Always. Problems only arise because He thinks the same. And that is not right.

Tonight, I found the Teenager and the Boyfriend on T’net. ‘Makes a nice change from snogging’ I thought. Except… they were reading my blog. Or rather scan reading until they found some reference to themselves. They are, afterall, Teenagers, so we’ll make some allowance for the self-obsession. The upshot: they feel they have been unfairly portrayed. As serial snoggers. What can I say? This ain’t the BBC. There is no right of reply. But, out of the goodness of my heart, to make amends I will say when they are not snogging/watching movies in the dark, they like to play computer games, recently, there has been less ‘cupcaking’ (aka making out) and they have promised to get back on the homework track.

I have not promised, but may try, to look beyond my kitchen for blog fodder now.

Wednesday 22 April 2009

A spot of blogger

Just because it is available on t’Net doesn’t make it suitable. Or appropriate. I need to make clear that this blog is intended for the over 18s only. And, just because the boy dustbin lid has ‘gorgeous’ in his tag, does not make him the favoured dustbin lid. In truth I have three favourite lids (and over 20 fave nieces). I like to spread my faveness about so, tonight, (for the benefit of the Teenager, and the Boyfriend) it could be you. Favoured status is more likely after tea-making and other household chores are completed. For example: cleaning up after the moulting mutt the Teenager begged for. Or doing something (anything) with the pile aka GCSE art installation that is taking over our house.

Sheeeeeessssssssh and I thought blogging was supposed to make you happy.

Wednesday 15 April 2009

Aliens ate my family

It appears aliens ate my family and replaced them with looki-likies: the Teenager voluntarily stayed home revising and doing GCSE Art coursework; Gorgeous Boy taught the Little-un how to tie shoe laces; we hit the discount-sports-hell-on-earth-place and nobody cried or was nearly murdered, and, He-who-must-be-adored is still on the wagon.

The Teenager never ever revises. Her theory being tests show you what you are still to learn. She feigns a near death experience every Monday morning rather than face double Art. I’m pleased about the change but more so that her face has had a 24 hour rest from being attached to the Boyfriend’s. I was begining to wonder if I was deliberately forgetting having conjoined twins.

Gorgeous Boy and the Little-un usually can’t sit in the same room without arguing so seeing them head to head on the floor, with new trainers and shoelaces, with the kind of patience that has never before been seen in this house, was delightful and disturbing in equal measure.

Most miraculously, He-who-must-be-adored remains firmly on the wagon and we’re up to Day 5. In solidarity, and with my waistline on my mind, I've also remained on the wagon. Me-thinks-He-thinks if He’s on the wagon He may as well be working. So his colleagues have seen more of him than we have, so far, this week. And, we’re almost out of tea-bags – industrial sized boxes from now I think.

Blood results today: thyroid levels are normal (so I can’t ‘up’ my dosage and my energy levels) but my ‘bad’ cholesterol is double. It’s easy to fix says the overweight nurse (without a hint of irony): cut some things out, add some things in, and up the exercise. She gave me a leaflet which tells me to dump from my diet: suet, lard, dripping and palm oil: I can’t recall any of those ever passing my lips. I think this is going to be easy. ‘Til I read that cheese, prawn and chocolate are also out (my fave combo as well). The rest is bleeding obvious: banana is better than biscuit and carrot is better than cake. Now, I will not only march for my mental health and waistband I’m also at it for the ‘lipids’.

Tonight, somehow, I feel triple seed mix does so not hit the spot in the way of say, peanut M&Ms?

Monday 13 April 2009

Is it just me?

There is nothing like a long weekend break spent within the bosom of your family to help you feel the love. Or to see the cracks. You know the ones that you knew were there all along. But you made a conscious effort to ignore. Over a long weekend, all together, you can ignore them no more. You see them, right before your eyes, getting bigger. And bigger. With every passing hour. Until they are so huge you fear total collapse. Or is that just me?

The holidays started well enough. He-who-must-be-adored returned to saving London for ridiculously long hours. I worked in the mornings and spent the afternoons touring the parks of North London with friends, furry and not so furry, alike. By mid-week I had to kick the teenagers out. I was sick of their vampire ways. Call me old fashioned, but when the sun is out so too should they be. I know they’d rather be sitting in the dark. Snogging. But enough is enough. Or rather I’d had enough. Maybe it was jealously rather than old fashion-ness. Agin I wonder is it just me?

Over the past seven days I managed good serious marching on five. I also stayed on the wagon for five days. That’s become a whole lot easier recently but more of that later. The major personal achievement of the week, for it is Easter after all, was, no weight lost, but none gained either. I see it as the start of my reverse back to the shape I was before finding freedom from fags. The past two days I’ve marched more than usual. But this time it’s the mental health benefits that I’m really after. And I know that’s just me.

So, to Good Friday. The signs were there and I missed them: not one, but two Jesus’ on a cross were spotted in the High Street. It looked, at one point, as if their paths might cross. Who’d have thought, in this day and age, that religious parades were all the rage? Or so like buses? It also transpires that one of those dragging a cross was, in fact, female. Glad to live in such a modern borough. Tallmumchum didn’t share my enthusiasm for the beauty of modern equality and bemoaned the traffic chaos caused by two large wooden crosses, plus entourage, of whatever gender or persuasion. Despite He-who-must-be-adored’s fondness for playing the martyr we didn’t have anyone on a cross in the garden this weekend. That is not to say it hasn't crossed my mind.

We celebrated the fact that He was home and all sporting events were cancelled for Easter, by having a bit of a doo. So very pleased to see the Geeky girl and my fave niece from the sticks joining us, and some friends, for a bite to eat and a few drinks. I think a good time was had by most. Pity then that at the end of the night one appeared to have enjoyed it all a bit more than everyone else. So the small matter of a late night dog walk, and a trip, into the gutter, a scrape with a wing-mirror and being escorted into bed by your long-suffering wife (who's the martyr now?) sister, middle-lid, teenager and boyfriend, should be quickly glossed over. Yet, I somehow think the effects will be long-lasting: I’ve now seen He-who-must-be-adored going to bed sober for two nights in a row. That’s double the number of nights in a row I’ve seen him going to bed sober since we first got hitched - 18 years ago. Tonight we are well into the evening and still the kettle boils and not a bottle-opener in sight.

Time will tell whether this really is the start of the pledge, or just a little ride on the wagon. Either way it's rather refreshing to have a different view.

Wednesday 8 April 2009

Snore Bore

Whoever said absence makes the heart grow fonder was mistaken. More than a fortnight of having my own bed, with only a little-un's fever to disturb me, has been nothing short of bliss. Complete bliss.

The last three nights have seen me a) on the wagon and b) laying awake full of murderous intentions. Is torture by snoring a justifiable defence for, if not murder itself, then GBH at least?

My sympathy for his long day evaporated as my head hit the pillow: I hear heavy breathing. I ignore it and read. It doesn't seems so bad. Yet...

Slowly it builds. Like an orchestra. Of roaring lions. And wheezing birds. Quietly at first, with a bit of rhythmn. Of sorts. When the open mouthed nasal sounds start to pump up the volume I find a swift small kick in the shins gives my ears a 30 second breather. A huff and puff and over He turns. And then it starts proper. With gusto. Small repeated rabbit punches in the back eventually register and, my worse nightmare begins: He rolls onto his back. Now I know there is no hope as the full force of a fortnight's missed snoring begins. And continues. Long and loud into the night. I put my head under the pillow: no difference. I slap and punch him: not one snorey breath is lost. I consider the options of sharing with each of the dustbin lids in turn. I reject them all - by size or too close for comfort factor.

After an hour I am resigned to a third disturbed night in a row. Then suddenly, without warning, it stops. I close my eyes and take deep breaths: knowing it's now or never: my one chance to nod off.

At least I can get some rest today in the office!

Tuesday 7 April 2009

I want to ride my bicycle

Am pleased to say He-who-must-be-adored finally returned to London. Two days later than scheduled. And a day after the outlaws came to stay. He came bearing gifts in time for lunch with us, and the lovely outlaws. It was a proper Sunday affair, and as is the nature of that beast (lamb in actual fact) far, far, far too much was consumed. This was a bad thang, given my Monday morning appointment with the Nurse.

An annual telling off/check up isn’t a great way to start the week. I had to fast for 12 hours for a blood test. Given my alcohol consumption over the previous fortnight am uncertain that 12 hours would have made much difference. In the waiting room, starving and dry mouthed, I think of my favourite food and drink. I fail to get past the perfect ness of my missed morning cuppa. I salivate when finally called into Nursey as she sips a fragrant coffee. Right under my nose. To add further insult she weighs me. Then measures my ‘girth’ (has there ever been a more unfabulous word, or a more insulting measurement?) The good news: my blood pressure is perfect. Then Nursey gets her little chart out and gives me the bad and the bleeding obvious: I am heavier than I should be. As I say, not the best start to any week.

As my brother says: you can lose the weight, you can’t grow a new lung. I am pleased when Nursey tells me I only have to lose 10lbs. I have actually gained 22 since finding freedom from fags. But 10 feels so much more manageable.

Without wanting to sound like a stuck record I am therefore, this week, back on the wagon. And marching. Here, there and everybleedingwhere. The dog is shagged out and the little-un is saddle sore from her bike: she pedals as I follow. Depending on how far into the journey we are, I run, march, walk, or crawl behind.

Gorgeous Boy’s friend, Frodo, was here today. I paid the Teenager to babysit the boys whilst I worked. But apparently, the boys amused themselves. Thankfully, BestMumChum had the little-un. The Teenager and The Boyfriend watched movies. In the dark. Words were exchanged over some competitive pancake making. And pancakes gone bad. Some more words have been exchanged. This will not happen again. Mmmm. That’s me not holding my breath.

Tonight, instead of driving Frodo home, I let him ride my bike up the hill while I run/march/walk/crawl behind. It felt a lot easier freewheeling downhill afterwards. With hindsight though, I should have checked the tyres for air before setting out.

The news this week tells me what I’ve always known: sisters are doing it for themselves. Apparently sisters spread happiness where brothers breed distress. I have three times as many brothers as sisters and double daughters to my one son. And so very very happy to have my Supersis.

Wednesday 1 April 2009

Family life

Whether successful or not there are two basic ingredients for a blog: energy and wherewithal. For me, this week both energy and wherewithal are like my post-giving-up-fags knicker elastic – stretched beyond the boundaries of safe or natural. We’re talking danger levels. The worry of recent mornings is fear of a catapult in the tummy just by un-careful dressing. Or worse, given my tiredness stupor, a fear of whether I’d notice. Or care.

What’s it all about anyways? Whilst He-who-must-be-adored suns himself/works abroad I take on the role of blue-arsed fly. For the treat of a weekend away with He I spend my day off running round to organise dustbin lids, luggage, activities, social lives, homework and animals. The 24 degree weather disappears as soon as I land. As I hit the airport again on Sunday the Spanish sun re-appears. It can't just be paranoia. I am being followed by a black cloud.

My flying visit to Madrid coincided with the international stamp collectors fair. See above re black cloud. Friday night we continued my walking obsession and left his ‘lads pad’ to head to town. In this context walk is a sorry excuse for a-kinda-bar-crawl. We start the warm balmy evening outside in a square full of families and playing children. As we’d left our dustbin lids at home and the sun started to set and the temperature truly plummeted (thank goodness I’d packed a wrap) we moved on. Our next pit stop was in the arty/young/fashionable district. Clearly outta place there we next found ourselves in the gay zone. Without wishing to peddle stereotypes: as He is neither bald, skinny nor fashionable, and I, even on my worse days, can't be mistaken for a bloke, we didn’t hang around there too long. None of this stopped us enjoying a drink and tapas and that age-old sport of people watching at any place. Odd that at no point during the entire evening of many and varied bars did we find ourselves amidst middle-age, dull, grumpy, old gits. Or perhaps we did. And perhaps in our natural habitat, some glasses and dishes later, we simply didn't notice.

He-who-must-be-adored continues to sun himself over there whilst I get on with the business of trying to organise our family and a working life. Of sorts. Any Monday Morning after a weekend away, with no time devoted to uniforms, homework or lunchboxes is clearly not going to be a huge pleasure. Moving swiftly on…

Last night was worse. For every five minutes spent stripping, sponging and drugging the little-un I got twenty minutes peace and slumber from her fever. Poor thang. Pity all my maternal kindness was used up by 6am. Lucky then, at that point, she finally hit a deep drug-induced sleep. I had a small window to sort the broken washing machine (yes the new super dooper hugely expensive whiz banger of a thang), create a 60s costume for gorgeous boy, and send the Teenager off relaxed and happy to her internal exams (cash and a hug were all I could muster, and I now realise all she ever really wants). My 20 minutes on the sewing machine were rejected by the boy. He settled for the 2009 look re-styled into 1961 with the addition of his sister’s cardy. Luckily she had already left for her institution.

The little-un re-awoke as I waved gorgeous boy off. She was begging me to come upstairs for a cuddle. I followed her voice. I collapsed back into bed. And all murderous feelings evaporated.

Ah family life.

Thursday 26 March 2009

Five minutes peace

Should be packing. I’d rather have five minutes peace. In order to have two days off, I’ve crammed the effort of a whole week into my day. But now am on top. Almost. Except for the fish. I haven’t the brain space for them. Am sure they’ll survive.

Have called in favours from the world and his wife. Just to cover the three dustbin lids and the moulting mutt. Luckily Supersis is not known as Supersis for nowt. Although I don’t think she knows the half of it now the Teenager has a busy social life. With ever-changing details.

The last time I sloped off to see He-who-must-be-adored in the so-called sunny city, it was the coldest weather in 40 years. The rain in Spain falls mainly not on the plain, but in Madrid this Saturday. Sunday morning the clocks spring forward, and I have a lunchtime flight.

He rang tonight. With a slight slur he said he is sitting outside a bar in a cotton shirt. I got caught in the torrential downpour today and got soaked down to my underwear. I am still to pick up from Rugby, dump the dog and pack.

Have never felt so like Eyeore.

Wednesday 25 March 2009


Was gonna write about the weird and wonderful folks I have met since dog walks became my life. Now am too spooked: since 10/02/09 the number of visitors to my blog has been 666.

'Nuff said?

Monday 23 March 2009

Walk away

Trying not to lose heart with the walking. Tis not easy when He-who-must-be-adored is sunning himself/working overseas whilst I play single parent 24/7 (will I find time to unwrap Sunday supplements before bin night?) I failed to create an energy gap. I did up my energy use. But my appetite upped itself. After a week of walking endlessly I gained a pound. Am happy my lungs are cleaner without the fags, but am stretching the elastic allowance of my clothes beyond their limits. I thought I looked bad when I had only one extra belly!

Hurrah for the fish have arrived! The little-un loves them. And their poop. We get a running commentary: poop length plus how long it takes to disengage from their bodies (and I thought my life lacked excitement before!) The boredom abated briefly when they started doing bubble tricks at the surface. We have a geeky Teenager. She read the fish book. She said we were being entertained by fish gasping for air. Through lack of oxygen in the water. Whoops. We immediately performed an emergency 50% water change (with expensive de-clorination of course). As directed by the Teenager. I know it’s wrong but I miss the cute little gasping motions. The Teenager told the little-un she had to be more responsible. (at this point I walked away to deal with laundry). Or else the fish might die. (She’s a teenager so allow dramatic licence.) The little-un said ‘I’ve never touched a dead fish. I’d like to try’. Should I worry? Perhaps the goldfish police were right after all.

Today was a double grumpy day. It’s Monday. Not only did the sun not shine, but I got drenched. I’d forgotten just how horrible that damp feeling is (not to be confused with the other non-horrible damp feeling, though I can hardly remember it).

Speaking of…He-who-must-be-adored was supposed to sort out the chicken coop for Spring. It is spring. We have no chicks. We have no coop (just plenty of dog poop!) The real reason is our disagreement: I want a small two-hen thang. He, being male, wants some Peckingham Palace effort. That involves major groundwork. That involves He being around. Perhaps it’s a stalling device as He doesn’t want to spend his rare days off dealing with chicken shit as well as all the other shit I save up for such days. So I drive to Supersis for fresh eggs. This weekend I try a new egg recipe: crème brulee. The little-un says it tastes like tinned custard. Why do I bother?

I just caught sight of a Sunday supplement heading: 'birth with multiple orgasms' – they can go straight to the recycling bin this week. He-who-must-be-adored very nearly didn’t survive the birth of our third child – because I very nearly killed him.

Which brings us on to Mothers Day. Not much cause for celebration: my mother is long dead and buried and He-who-must-be-adored hasn’t forgiven his mother for a miserable childhood. Whilst He was sunning himself overseas my day started with the little-un prizing my sleeping eyes apart to admire her hand-made handiwork of a card. This was at least two hours before my eyes were ready to open. I then endured/enjoyed cold toast and tea as breakfast in bed, whilst reading my cards: ‘we’ve turned out OK, so you must be a good mum’. Faint praise indeed.

Could be worse. We could be living the life of my forensic friend: her little-un puked in the car. She left puke and weekly shopping-filled car at home with Mr Smutty whilst she did volunteering work for the benefit on her little-un, even though her little-un was too poorly to attend. Upon her return she finds the sun had been shining strongly on the car. And the puke. And the shopping. Mr Smutty had neither emptied nor cleaned. His poor excuse: dealing with a poorly little-un. Plus even smaller twins. Plus Granny. Who had fallen. On her face. Ouch! Needless to say my forensic friend didn’t respond to texts nor calls. All day.

Am hoping for sunshine tomorrow.

Tuesday 17 March 2009

Walk this way

Have been marching the local streets and green spaces for five days now. Too early to see any physical benefits yet. But am certainly feeling something. Bleeding knackered I think. Surprised how easy it’s been to fit the walking in. Then again we have had completely unseasonal gorgeous weather. Would it be so easy to nip out with the dog in the rain or snow? No, obviously not. This is clearly going to be one of those short-lived faddy things which I shall try and enjoy/endure whilst I can.

Haven’t done much in the way of writing though. Am fearful of using the dustbin lids as blog fodder since the ‘my son is a druggie and I’m gonna make money’ story broke. The mother also authored the Guardian’s ‘living with teenagers’ column. The one I used as a yardstick – and smugly thought we’re not as bad as them. Yet! But then mine are a bit younger. I will stave off the smugness a while longer. Added to that Gorgeous Boy was grumpy with me for writing about the tin man costume. Me thinks he’s turning into a grumpy teenager and any excuse will do. I put effort into making it, so I’ll take the credit. But it made me think. Should I respect their privacy a little more?

I concluded probably. Yet…my blogs are dull enough, without the lids? Let’s take yesterday: He-who-must-be-adored left to save London before I awoke and returned after I went to bed. (Not much relationship fodder there then). How can I be sure he came home? Little tell-tale signs: the lion’s share of the duvet was on his side of the bed this morning; some dirty clothes and an empty red wine glass had appeared overnight. Whilst He was out I walked, catered, taxi’d and provided cash and laundry service for the ‘others’ that live in my house. I went to work during the school hours. I walked some more. More than 11,000 steps to be precise. Who cares?

So back to the lids. I stupidly believed letting a dog live with us would satisfy the pet cravings of my youngsters. Clearly I was mistaken. This has always been my kid theory: give them an inch and they take a mile. This weekend a certain small person wore us down with her logic. She still has Christmas cash that was burning a hole. It’s lasted this long because we’re teaching the value of money. After some long hard thinking she decided a goldfish would not be wasteful. A goldfish is a good thang. The goldfish police think otherwise. She frugally chose a bowl, some un-naturally coloured gravel, and a net. He-who-must-be-adored had to be restrained (by me) from buying into the whole lighting filtered effort. (Who needs the money/value lesson?) So off to the tanks we trot. Except, apparently, these days, you can’t just buy fish and tank on the same day. You have to de-chlorinate the water (at more expense). For at least five days!

When I was younger I won a goldfish at the fair. My father said it wouldn’t last long so I was not to waste my money on a fancy tank (clearly he wouldn’t have wasted his). It lived in a pyrex dish (a fairly biggish one), with no interesting features, on the windowsill of the downstairs toilet. I never cleaned or fed him. Somebody else must have because he lived to be the oldest goldfish in town. There was something strangely soothing about sitting in that small room watching him swim round and round the pyrex. But Mom was very pleased when he eventually passed on so she could have her dish back.

Now, we sit on the sofa admiring the water bowl and un-natural coloured gravel. No fish. Tis neither soothing nor interesting. A bit like this blog. Thank goodness it’s not long ‘til fish on Friday.