Saturday, 13 November 2010

Beware the Doctor

Where some uppers may have done the trick my GP, in her wisdom, sent me on a downer: to the hospital. There, the junior doctor thought me interesting. I wished she hadn’t. After reading this, you might agree.

Moments after meeting Little Miss Keen, and her boss, in the Hospital bottom department, both their faces were in closer proximity to my rear end than I was strictly comfortable with. But that wasn’t the low point. It went so much lower. Like when they realised the camera exploring my innards wasn’t working and Little Miss Keen says, in all seriousness, ‘it did that earlier, just wiggle the top to get it going again’. They wiggled. It didn’t respond. For once, words failed me.

“I’ll put a sheet over you while we grab some working equipment” said the boss. Except what with all the cuts and everything NHS housekeeping now only extends to pillowcases. While he was off in search of working kit, and with a pillowcase in place of dignity, and a horrible feeling that I might fall off the trolley at any moment, I tried to be my own advocate: I firmly believed there was nothing much wrong with me, that a sheet and a quick exit wouldn’t fix. They were having none of it. Fear crept in with a machine sounding like an industrial leaf blower, which they assured me, would soon sort me out. It’s a sorry fact that they don’t have a machine to remove embarrassment. I’d pay extra for that.

I quick trawl of t’net is a dangerous thang: I bypassed the You Tube video of the next treat they had in store for me. I saw a line about occult blood and the vampire nightmare made sense. But that’s what a restricted diet does to a girl.

Day 1 of what the doctor ordered left a bad taste in my mouth and I was definitely out of sorts without my morning oats. I had terrible cravings for bananas and nuts. Captain Chaos spent an age peeling a fresh juicy orange and eating it at my desk. I had 57 varieties of tea, jazzed up with a coffee, some fizzy pop, and daring of daring do, Bovril (not one I’d recommend). Lashings of salt did nowt to improve the flavour of the rubber on cardboard supper. In hindsight girl’s night was a mistake as it doesn't take much hooch to see a near starved woman off her face.

Day 2: Plain white rice with Bovril is tasty. Who knew? Not that I would ever choose it again. A little irritation creeps in.

Day 3: No solids. Some special sachets from the evil doctors. Full blown grumpiness. I become Bovril’s top fan.

Day 4: Today, a real charmer administers a drug similar to the one used in date rape whilst, four to five feet of my empty innards are inflated, examined, and my biggest fear, recorded, (hopefully not to be seen on You Tube any time soon). Apparently chatting throughout, I, thankfully, have no recollection of the following half hour. Discover what economists are on about when they say inflation can go up as well as down.

It’s not all bad, I’ve been dopey most of the day and I’ve been given the all clear.

And, food never tasted so good.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Put a sock in it

Once I was in a play called ‘The Laundry Girls’. As you might imagine, it was about a group of girls who worked in a laundry. Albeit a Victorian one. Fastforward to my life today and laundry features more than I should like. Without the girly chat. So, call me demented and send me to hell but I want to stand up and say ‘my name is mothergoat and my life is powerless to the demented demon of never ending laundry’. But it’s the socks wot really get me.

Obsessed? No! Possessed? Perhaps. I don't like to count the number of socks though I know without fail there's always at least 7 x 4 pairs of socks, each and every week. That’s 56 individuals at the lowest. Add to that a smattering of sports socks, (when Teenboy hasn’t fired the filthy things to rarely explored spaces), and evenings out, plus tights, leggings and other smalls and we’re way closer to a ton than is decent.

I've decided life is simply too short to sort socks. Luckily my dustbin lids like wearing odd socks. Teengirl wears the first socks she finds. Teenboy is size 9. The littleun a teensie size 1. Yet swap and share and make do is what they have to do. I throw clean socks in a drawer in the nativity room. Then it’s everyman for himself. I used to care, because I used to care whether my parenting skills were judged on the state of my children’s socks. I care no more.

Way back when I had only one cute little baby, family socks were easy and obvious to sort, kindly aided by hired help. Those were the days when I worked with a guy who happily joined a ready-made family. I thought him a tad dictatorial as he demanded a designated sock colour for each family member. Now I think he was on to something.

Throw into the mix the moulting mutt. She likes to retrieve the odd sock, carry it about for a while, bury a few in the garden, tear some apart in her bed, or tend to others as if they were babies, all the while sprinkling them in her shedding coat.

I have tried to train the dog to retrieve and deposit sock missiles in the laundry bin.

I’m ever hopeful.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Today we remember them

Things I wish I remembered today:
  • Yesterday’s consumption of less calories than usual and more booze than normal makes for a poor start to the day.
  • To put the dog’s lamp shade back on her bonce before letting her out, unsupervised, where she had a good go at her gammy leg, sending the healing process back to the start.
  • To always check my appearance before opening the door. It’s the dog’s fault, if only I hadn't had to chase her up the garden with the lamp shade. But, whatever way you look at it, cowboy boots, dressing gown and bed head a good look do not make. But they do make the delivery chap look at you. In a questioning sanity type way.
  • The pin code number for the TV’s parental control lock. Asking the littleun, who remembers everything, shows how seriously I take parental controls.
  • The password.
  • To press the ‘on’ button on the dishwasher.
  • And, that laundry does not dry, on its own, in the washing machine

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Teengirl's revenge

Sharing my nightmare with the dustbin lids was my second mistake. The first was using them as blog-fodder. Within moments of my enthusiastic recount of the realism, and my fear, of having vampires for children in a dream, Teengirl took her revenge in posting a précis on facebook. Then my casual observations about Teenboy’s penalty shot-taking style saw her hammering away at her little keyboard again. I didn’t like it. But for good reasons…

Because, like my vivid and frightening dream (the teeth and eyes were the worse) this scares me. Because I can talk. And I do talk. Quite a bit. And because a fair ole load of what I say could possibly, sometimes, be interpreted as stuff and nonsense, especially when taken out of context. But mainly because neither t’net nor me are ready for Teengirl’s interpretation of ‘what my mom said’ to hit t’net.

Not without a gloss and edit anyways.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Chills, they're multiplying

The chill wind worsened the icy driving rain, requiring a costume change between morning school run and work: from damp scrummy to florist’s winter-wear delight. It’s a layers thang. Working in a breezy portacabin at this time of year, in a wet get up, almost guarantees hypothermia by lunch. The Giggler got a warm reception when he arrived with hot steaming soup, just before Inspector Gadget and Captain Chaos arrived for their tea break. Then I counted my blessings for the rare treat of being in the company of three of my brothers …with no teasing at all.

Tonight, the little-un showed me how to divide, with remainders. I’m brewing a plan to convince her that sorting our sock mountain is a useful extension to the math’s homework.

The Daily tech tip from Teenboy showed me facebook writ large across the TV whilst loading football on the new gaming kit. A useful lesson, should I ever reincarnate as a Teenboy.

For the long-post-exam-holiday this year Teengirl planned to master moonwalking whilst watching each and every Pokemon episode. Fine ambitions indeed! Needless to say, a short while later she tired of it. Don't place any bets on whether her latest enthusiasm for teach-yourself-harmonica will see past Twinkle Twinkle?

Harmonica and trumpet beginners, and the dog’s late-night fox-watch, makes us truly popular with the neighbours.

Gaga, (the dog’s new mantle) is being pampered and treated like only a real Diva should. Helmet headed, she continues to crash into us, begging with her puppy eyes, for some dignity, and the removal of the protective lampshade. I remind my dustbin lids, daily, that she is a dog. She’ll get over it.

We all do.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Boys, bonfires and bad parking

Despite looking like one for years, today my boy became a teenager. Bless his little cotton socks (it’s his birthday so gloss over the filthy sports socks). Like most 13 year old boys, sports, gaming and avoiding embarrassments are his thang. Unintentionally, I cause embarrassments just by being. Alongwith my apparently unreasonable insistence that birthday’s must be celebrated. Despite this, and his grumps with the little-un for her insistence on balloons, he managed to turn the coolometer down long enough to enjoy his birthday bash.

Oooohing and aaaahing at fireworks however are a sparkle too far for him so he abstained. Bonfire night, at the golf club, does not involve sitting in the warm club house, sipping mulled wine whilst watching fireworks from the safe position of behind glass. Because that really would be my kinda night: no fear of injury from falling debris or bitter cold. Instead myself, the little-un and my fave niece went well prepared with boots, torches and many many many layers. We know much tramping about in the mud is all part of the fun, as is laughing at my nervous disposition around large bangs. And, thanks to Inspector Gadget’s little trip into the bunker last year we now know which parts of the course to avoid. Although my fave nephew has had a change of heart about a military career, trench foot still threatens: next year I’m sure he’ll bring some big boots.

Harsh? Perhaps. Satisfying? Oh Yes! I left it a full 12 hours before ringing the tow-truck, to complain about the car blocking my driveway. My satisfaction came six hours after the offending vehicle was removed when a not particularly polite young man knocked on my door. I like to think I may have helped him park more considerately in the future.

Friday, 5 November 2010

My dog's life

Almost every night, at roughly the same time, the moulting mutt huffs and puffs, growls and headbutts the back door until I let her out. Her urgency has less to do with territorial defence than a strong desire to retrieve her treasure de-jour: be it sock, tea-towel, bone, dwarf or ball. If we don’t let her out, the Far-from-fantastic Mr Fox leaves a delightful little gift for us, on the back step. I love it when that happens because I don’t usually have any crap to deal with.

I like to keep the dog happy, so I let her out, hoping I find the keys and negotiate the locks before the fox does its thang. I worry about the dog. But not in a crazy dog-loving-folk way. I haven't started worrying about her getting wrinkles or anything, like they do in Essex. It's just that recently she’s been displaying some slight emo tendencies. What started as a small scratch has been worried away at and now she’s looking a little more like a self-harmer than is comfortable. I worry that at this rate she might just gnaw the whole leg off and though there are many thangs on my wish list, a three legged dog is not one of them.

To stop the worrying, tonight the dog is sporting one of those nifty little collars. As you can imagine, she is taking a little time adjusting to life with a huge lampshade on her head. Her spacial awareness has gone up the spout. She spent the afternoon knocking into things, mostly me, as she follows my every step, giving me the pleading puppy eyes. But also every door, doorway, furniture and step in the house.

Which is all hugely charming and amusing and did not make me question at all why a three legged dog is not at the top of my wish list.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Smashing pumpkins

Smashing pumpkins, is a band, apparently. It sprung to mind when I saw what my producer friend produced in the way of autumn produce. A mighty harvest indeed. What I wish hadn’t popped into my head was the sight of my boy smashing pumpkins, to smithereens. Fundamentally he is a boy. The first night his hand came off worse, though after he had a good ole go the pumpkin looked well past it’s sell-by-date. If I hadn’t been in close enough proximity to call a halt am certain I’d have been cleaning up pumpkin pulp for the second time in a week. The next night his attempts were more successful, by his reckoning. Last night I had enough and consigned the putrid thangs to recycling.

Today I discover my blog is mainly read in England. Japan, Korea and Lithuania also feature in the stats. I had no idea my family stretched that far.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Whey hey Wednesday

A beautiful bright start to the day called for the filmstar look: dark glasses to hide the lacking make-up, and a flamboyant coat and scarf for any midrift mishaps. (Yesterday’s fashion faux pas put me in the longest top in the world today). And, as any woman worth her salt knows, a little lipstick goes a long way in the feel-good stakes. Continuing the beautiful theme, I took the scenic route to, and from, work to marvel at the autumn colours. As every decent pokemon fan knows you’ve gotta catch ‘em where you can because, like moments of poignancy or intimacy, an ill wind can kill the whole thing off. A more committed blogger might have taken pictures. But I can’t take these things too seriously.

Anyways, I’m miserable cob I’b gob a colb so I’m early a bed.

Night night.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

All Saints Day: Turnover Tuesday

Struggling with a bucket sized handbag, a trumpet, and car keys whilst gassing on the blower, I cursed having only two hands. As that is when I first noticed the vague feeling of coolness. Coolness as in the opposite of cool. Or hip. I think ‘hip’ shows just how low in the cool stakes I go.

The day started well: smugly I thought of another half hour in bed to the 6am chorus of the recycling truck. Teengirl’s shout out at 7.30 knocked the smile off my face. I regained points in the late-start runaround by remembering the Christmas card deadline. We are, afterall, in November. Points lost for forgetting the Trumpet.

Driving was a no-brainer as I eventually parked closer to home than school on the second trip. Struggling with the trumpet et al I felt a little chill. Up to this point the morning was all a bit of a rushed blur but I believe that in throwing on some clothes I hadn’t quite managed to get fully dressed and my top remained further up my torso than it ought. Actually, it just about covered my bra, revealing my midrift in all its glory. In a totally attractive, and obviously befitting of my age, and the weather, type way. More WTF? than MILF me thinks.

Fortunately my day was cheered by that youtube video, despite causing my fave niece some social torture. It also proves that humour, no matter how cruel, should always be applauded when it raises big belly laughs.

A later-than-usual rehearsal for the girls meant time for a delightful dinner with all three dustbin lids. I’m reminding myself of its delight because later on Strictly Mommy warmed up with some unpopular decisions. Especially for Teengirl. Someone please tell my boy that watching ‘the world’s strictest parents’ might not be enough to ward off the full-blown return of Strictly. Anyways, I need to save all my free-range parenting for the far far far away future…of my grandkids.

At the end of the day I realised one thing…the laundry bin is exactly like the magic porridge pot: no matter how many loads you pull out, the bastard continues to overflow.

Monday, 1 November 2010

All Souls Day

Monday morning after half term break and the halloween high: my porridge, zinged in the microwave an hour earlier, was particularly pants. Dustbin lids who say they are up, when they are not, should expect an unannounced visit from Strictly Mommy. Or a return to Papa Kevin’s cure for sleeping sickness. And while we're on a roll: Teengirl’s milking of the dodgy knee shouldn’t exclude her from returning the ‘injury’ peas to the freezer.

Three cheers for the man from the league who looked at the scores, saw no draws, no losses, only win win wins, and shunted the boys up to Division 1.

Proceed with caution when holding out for a hero because sisters are doing it for themselves. A young sister with previous for fraping her elders should never, ever, under any circumstances, have recorded herself and her bestie dancing as if no-one were watching. Sadly it was just a matter of time before those mean big sisters took their revenge public in positing the movie on t’net. I loved it. Because the star is my fave niece. For today, anyways.

When life is lacking angst you can always rely on the Book Club.

I’m off to read the Dangerous Book.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

All Hallow's Eve

To Hatfield this morning for a wet win. At 20 - 1 it’s time the boy’s team moved up the league. This is football afterall; and rugby-sized scores are not cricket. Did you see what I did there? I did talk sport. Yay me! My highlight was my boy’s penalty goal, especially after that disallowed thing. Being a good sport I cheered the opposing team’s only goal, ignoring that their player punched the ball in. The ref, being kind, also chose that moment to look away.

A quick pit stop for that traditional, healthy and chic Sunday lunch….coffee and curly fries to go please? Then to Saracens to proudly watch Teengirl ‘take ‘em down’ in a 34 – 10 win. Ever the trooper, the small matter of a kick in the face and a knee going the wrong way didn’t deter her rugby prowess. Lucky for me, my boy has taken it upon himself to guide me through the rules of rugby, as learnt from the Dangerous Book for Boys, so I am nearer to getting the point.

A day on two touchlines clearly wasn’t enough of a scare so we raced through dinner and dog-walking to get on with Halloween proper.

The little-un and I dressed up. Actually, she dressed up. A damp day outdoors and I had no need for special effects: I pulled the peak of my cap down further to avoid unnecessary scaring of small children. We made up sugary treat bags. We forgot to blow up balloons. We decorated the porch - if blue-tack and a skeleton poster count.

Heading out I wondered, where’s the treat in spending even more time outdoors on an October night? But I was wrong. BestMumChum kept me company and the community spirit was out in force. We greeted local kids scouring the streets for sweets, with their parents in tow. Ok so a number were swigging mulled wine from flasks. Parents, that is, not the kids.

Out trick or treating I missed the bulk of spookers knocking on our door demanding sugar. My boy was outraged that this year’s tricksters included ‘an old woman with no kids’. She was probably a tad over 18.

These are the rules round these parts: no pumpkin outside, hallway lights off and the message is clear. Don’t bother. Not once the x factor results have started. No matter your opinions on the contestants, the series, or Spookmeister Simon. We are addicted. We wonder why. Oh why oh why oh why…is Wagner not on his way?

Eggs should count as treats. But only when launched from my upstairs windows.

Mwaaaaaaah haaaaaaaaaaa haaaaaaaaaa (that’s my evil laugh).

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Mail Fail

I told the littleun I sent her an email. With the full-on joy only an eight-year-old can muster for the mundane, she skipped and laughed. ‘This is so exciting…I’ve never had an email from someone I know before’.

Usually, she explained, her emails are from websites she’s played games on, like Disney, or Club Penguin. Or password resets. We had to run the rest of the way home. Excitement is a short-lived thang. Firstly the laptop crashed. Waiting for reboot is boring. When she finally opened her email programme there was nowt from anyone she knew. Somehow I misspelt my own child’s name. And, she wasn’t as interested as I thought, in a link, to a site, about an author she previously loved.

Failed again.

Friday, 29 October 2010

My top 10 S’cuses for lack of blog

1. Still I smoke
2. My head has been up my arse
3. ‘Life was crap, then got crapper, then more crap happened’ an amusing blog does not make
4. I have nowt to say …that won’t get me into trouble with someone or other
5. My husband left me/I kicked my husband out (delete as appropriate to your view)
6. I lost two siblings (careless it may seem, but I’m going for the sympathy vote)
7. I am trying to sell my home
8. In-between navel gazing, my head actually got stuck up my arse
9. My days are too short
10. Tragically, laundry fills the gaps in my days.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Eulogy for John

I’m Big John’s little sister. I was only six when he met his Suzy. Nine when the lovely Andrea and I were their bridesmaids. He’s always been larger than life to me and loud enough to prove it. But those that know him, know, behind his growling bear act was an inner teddy.

When he talked about Sue, John, Jody, Amy and his grandsons, you heard his pride, albeit sometimes hidden behind funny insults. It is testament to the man that he achieved 34 years of a successful and loving marriage with Sue. But it’s no surprise: he was loyal, kind, had a generous spirit and was funny. He was so very proud of Little John’s growing business and family, and loved telling stories of Jody’s feistyness.

Above all he was a fantastic story teller, so I hope I do justice to John’s story.

The first of Hannah and Kevin’s nine children; the eldest by only five minutes. He played the big brother role loudly and seriously. His twin, Jarlath, probably knows the whole of John better than anyone: at school a force to be reckoned with, though John the prefect must have been a bane to Jarlath’s playful ways. Today it’s hard to imagine them together as saintly little Alter servers with Peter.

John with Jarlath played the identical twin game and delighted in confusing others. Yet, it is proof of their strength of character that they developed their individuality, with each so very unique.

John started work on the cranes with Dad, and Jarlath, back in the day when you turned up for work in a shirt and an old pair of jeans. Recently he told of a three hour ‘elf and safety lesson in how to wear a hard hat. I remember his 150ft tall Moon Shot, which took him travelling round England and Europe, from Elstree Studios, to Silverstone and Buckingham Palace. Once settled with Sue he preferred local work so he could spend as much of the next 34 years as close to her as he could.

John and Jar also did a bit of bouncing – for early Sex Pistols gigs and our sister Cathy’s 21st party: where he happily relieved people of their gifts and bottles before turning them away.

Before starting their family, John and Sue enjoyed some beatnik days touring Europe in a VW camper van. ‘Though they apparently tested it out first in a multi-story carpark! He learnt to provide his own wheels after taking the Magic Bus – from London to the Greek islands – which wasn’t quite so magical when they got stuck in the middle of a warzone.

There were other holidays – in Ireland where he proudly introduced his young wife to our grandmother in Dingle, to the lakes in Tallington, where he managed to get some driving in behind the wheel of a speed-boat.

You could say Big John was the inventor of ‘Pimp my Ride’: when he was ‘on the lorries’ with his own bright orange customised cab and more recently the distinct personality he gave his much loved silver truck. He got such a big kick from treating small boys, especially his own Little John, to rides in his big lorries.

His personality was stamped much further afield than his family, though the Meehan’s stretch far enough. He made an impression on everyone he met, and managed to never bore anyone: never hanging around long enough.

He proved popular in driving the Man Rider - a cage that his crane would lower to take workers underground. I heard some of those men were happiest when their lives were in John’s skilled hands as he dropped them down as gentle as a feather.

Today there aren’t many modern London landmarks that John didn’t play a part in: including the Millennium Dome and the Olympic park and, if he was to be believed, he single-handedly built Docklands.

He found it easy to extend a helping hand – thinking nothing of helping neighbours with shopping, or giving advice on cars or fixing things. He had an adorable rough charm and rarely said hello to me without grabbing me in a huge bear hug.

He was a contradiction: his no nonsense approach and love of growling was easily misunderstood. Yet he loved nonsense. Anyone who witnessed his bus conductor routine, with fully working ticket machine, could never doubt it. He said he didn’t understand people who didn’t like children. ‘We were all children once’.

John was loud. Yet gave his teenagers lessons in how to close the front door quietly.

John was insulting. A lad phoned for his teenage daughter Jody. John politely asked the boy his name, age and address, then put the phone down.

John was funny. We recently travelled together on our sister’s last journey. Ever the gentleman he travelled with the girls rather than his five brothers that day. We were sad but John managed to have us giggling in the back of that car.

He also had a secret love of pomp and circumstance. His idea of dressing down was ditching the tie with just matching shirt and hankie in his top pocket.

He said he didn’t like socialising, but when he did he left you wanting more. And he was always the first to phone the next day with thanks, before poking fun at your guests.

The secret, he said, to a happy marriage was to let each other be. But then he said he was lucky because ‘they broke the mould when they made my Suzy’. And I believe he was right.

His family: Sue, his children and grandchildren, his five brothers - Jarlath, Peter, Raymond, David and Paul - and Fran and I will miss him terribly.

The world is all the more quieter, and duller, without big John. But I want to remember him, as he used to say after one of his flying visits, ‘Gotta go…gotta see a man about a dog’.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Back on the bench

The packet of frozen peas landed on the boy’s swollen toe with a thud, followed by a scream. Not one of my best parenting moments. In my defence this Nursemaid malarkey doesn’t come naturally, I’ve had no formal training, and my care-giving skills have recently been stretched to the limit. Only one thang worse than all the sport in our lives is the resulting injuries. Of which we appear plagued. Though not me personally - for that I’d have to actually partake, which I can’t/won’t/don’t.

Back to the hospital this week with Teengirl’s crippled thumb, where parking stress appears as painful as whatever ailment takes us there. Almost a year after her original injury, we wait two hours for the latest consultant to conclude, ‘it’s not right’. As the lids might say ‘Der!’

Her GCSE’s are fast approaching. Coursework needs completing, requiring the use of both hands, so the offer of a cast was rejected. Back on the waiting list for an MRI scan we go, alongwith the gift of a splint to join our ever-growing collection. None of which keep the joint immobile. Because they are not worn. Despite the stuck record nature of my constant reminders the splint is found, lying sad and lonely, wherever she is not. I have driven the damn thang to school long after she is gone. The splint is taking on the personality of an extra-errant child: I constantly find it, in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

They say every death accompanies a birth: Teengirl’s retreat from Rugby sees the boy step up for his first Tournament. I put the following day’s moans of aches and pains down to his ‘outstanding performance’ on the field. When I take the time for a proper consultation I diagnose flu. This week he managed one day at school before retreating to the sofa with a largely swollen big toe. A quick trawl of t’net and am comforted to see I’ve followed an appropriate course with ice and painkillers. Hence the unfortunate incident with the flying peas. I daren’t show the boy the disgusting (yet strangely compelling) You Tube video of a drill through toe nail to relieve swelling. Not one to try at home me thinks!

I think I must take after my mother – herself a nurse whose sympathy had all been used up. We spent the Christmas hols nursing the boy’s dislocated knee, and half term with Teengirl’s thumb. This week the little-un thinks her legs have been worn out by her Athletics coach who, she says, ‘doesn’t understand my legs are little’.

I am not totally unsympathetic and am experiencing a building, nagging guilt. Should a toe, even a swollen one, lean quite so much to the left? I weigh up whether to spend today in A&E awaiting an x-ray. (Because I am so often reminded that I got it wrong with his first broken arm after sending him to school. Well, he could move all his fingers. What would you have done? Luckily faith in my nursemaidy skills were restored when I diagnosed the second break to the school nurse). On balance, because he’s not moaning that much, I think another 24 hours toe monitoring will do.

Still, as I am so keen to say, every cloud… sports laundry is at a minimum.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Game Over

At junior school I was told to write up netball match reviews. Was this a reflection of my superior writing skills or, more likely, my lack of sporting prowess? At senior school my PE teacher asked why I ruined the game. I have no idea, to this day, what the hell she was going on about. I thought I’d given it my all. Being in the last few to be picked could have been an itty bitty clue.

I am still to fathom why, but in late teens my forensic friend and I both had sporty boyfriends. After their nagging, once a week the two of us would don tracksuits and tie up our hair. For a couple of hours we would sit, in McDonalds, and drink coffee. Well, where else can you go in that get up? Now much older and wiser, I’ve given up the pretence: my chest is too large to make running anything other than painful; my pathological fear of putting my head under water makes swimming difficult; and my near-zero-hand-eye co-ordination excludes all ball sports. Marching with the dog, (or dancing as if no-one is watching, no matter who is) is all I can do exercise-wise. And I’m happy with that.

All sports confound me. No space exists in my brain for off-side rules or the numerous leagues and divisions or why some games are really, really crucial. I hear match chatter and wonder where was I when everyone else learnt this alien-speak? Why is it necessary to speak in tongues about a bleeding game! This week’s headlines said the England football captain had been playing away. How exactly is that news?

Peculiarly I live with lovers of sports. Teengirl’s hand is mended and she returned to rugby; Georgeous boy plays football and rugby; the little-un squash and athetics. Plus they all have PE twice a week. This makes for an awful lot of sports laundry. As if I don’t have enough already! And boots. Nasty, muddy, stinking, boots. Georgeous boy knows my limited sporting knowledge and conned me into buying studs, moulds and astro footy boots. All absolutely essential says he. Mug that I am!

‘How was footy training?’ I ask this week, more from politeness than interest. ‘We were doing long balls’ he replied. ‘Why aren’t you playing with round balls anymore?’ Bless him, he even attempted an explanation!

He taps away at his blackberry and shouts random sports results and other game details. Conversation at mealtimes revolves around game reviews and who should have done what, where and when. I try to contribute: today I ask why do the Welsh rugby team wear green socks which don’t match their red tops?’ Cue much eye rolling.

I bought protective sheets for the car. They remain, neatly folded, in the boot. As well as sports laundry and boot cleaning (when boots are cleaned, the surrounding area is not) we now have to free the cars of mud as well. Some mothers suggest letting the mud on kits dry, then brush before washing. Live Dangerously! If they don’t come out clean first time, bung them in again with the next lot I say. The next lot, unfortunately, is never that far away.

Yer man (for better, for worse) is off to Spain tomorrow for a week’s work (or the life of riley depending on your view point). So I'm cheerleading solo. Tomorrow the boy has a 1pm kick off in east London. At roughly the same time Teengirl has a match in Letchworth, (somewhere North of London I believe). I make no claims of special powers and simply cannot be in two places at once. Weighing it up the boy wins – his is a cup match, Teengirl’s is only a training game. The little-un and I will thermally wrap ourselves in all the clothes we own, ready for touchline cheering/freezing. I will try my best to keep my eye on the ball. I will not lose myself in cloud formations or mentally stock take the contents of my freezer, or wonder whether I’ve been enough of a Strictly Mommy this week, or some other detail of dull domestic drudgery. Then, when my lid and the ball touch I will see it and take note, and be able to re-live it on the journey home before facing more laundry and defrosting of our bodies.

This is the life hey?

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Dog Days Are Over

Day 106 of thinking of giving up smoking.

Day 15 on the wagon. ‘Tis easy when constantly driving dustblin lids here, there and everybleeding where. And abstaining certainly makes for a smoother morning.

Day 16 of Strictly Mommy. A bit like Strictly Dancing. Without the dancing. So that just leaves the Strict. My free-range parenting was a disservice to the dustbin lids and they were becoming selfish, incapable and anti-social. So strictly Mommy arrived, amid zero fanfare or warning. I promised to help them grow into confident, independent, happy, capable, considerate and sociable members of society. They need to learn there is no such thang as a free lunch. And with a little thought and effort comes great rewards. The new household mantra: ‘the lesson will be repeated, until the lesson is learnt’. They remain unimpressed.

The first days were the worst. The little one, despite declaring, loudly, a clear preference for the old mommy, adjusted quickly. Teengirl, after the initial shock that I was serious, predominantly knows which side her bread is buttered and, keen to earn a social life, realises there is time in her hectic days to do a few chores. To be fair they were not alien to her, just not that regular. Georgeous boy had a little more trouble adjusting. Yet even he has learnt when someone speaks to you: ignore them at your peril. On Day 2 he'd earnt his psp, but lost it after 3 minutes. The older ones were taught there’s no such thang as privacy on t’net and all net comms should be tailored for an inter-generational family gathering. I kindly explained, it's that or have me sit and supervise when you do earn time on line. Communicating on blackberries, they now realise, is not a god-given right.

By the end of the first week they’d largely got it. Lucky for me as frankly I’ve got better things to do, than constantly stuff my pockets with confiscated devices. I want to say Strictly Mommy is not a complete cow and would never take away books or music. And it doesn’t take much to earn a reward. But earn them they must. And as we enter week 3 I have (largely) taken my foot off the brake as they have (mostly) learnt these lessons. And, I’m sure, they won’t ever forget my birthday again.

Contrary to my own expectations I remain married. For better, For Worse. Since Yer Man’s return there have been some changes. Yet...some things remain the same. Dog blankets and underwear have, sadly, met again, in the laundry. The lesson, as they say, will be repeated, until the lesson is learnt.

Am off now to find an outfit with bigger pockets.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Whey Hey Camping Days

Legendary is my fondness for Mexican waves, especially after bubbles. But the camp fire shenanigans of Camp Doe 09 took it further: Mexican leg waves are the next big thang. And I missed it!

Some years ago The Giggler tried out a caravan in the field of the martyr-formerly-known-as-Supersis. Never knowingly missed out, Captain Chaos and I decided our families would jump in. Then Inspector Gadget got wind and so it spread. August bank holiday is also the whizkid’s birthday which is celebrated each and every year in a bigger and better way. With tents.

Tents bring out the best and worst in people. In my separated life I’ve had moments of remorse. Especially in regard to tents. Current or otherwise, husbands have their uses: He-who-no-longer-has-to-be-adored kindly raised our roofs for us, before withdrawing to his office in Madrid. The rain and wind did its worst as Captain Chaos pitched up. The designer came with her ex-husband’s tent. A younger sipped wine as her elder sister pitched alone in the dark, save her little lids holding torches. Some fit and healthy young couples sent their dad a day early to pitch tents (with pegs forever lost at festivals). Fair? No. Funny? Yes!

Camp Doe 09 was the ‘Whey Hey’ year. Funny the first time, the refrain wore thin as the echo hit full hilt in the wee small hours. It came into its own hilarity again when Supersis clambered from her bed, down to the field, just to shout at the whey heyers. I heard nowt of this as I slept soundly. In the house. For I am neither a natural nor happy camper. Being offered a bucket as an ‘en-suite’ is not my idea of luxury. I have two tents, but the bed-hopping lids and their cousins left me no space. Anyways, suffering from wobbly legs from mass-catering (next year there’s a rota) earns you a place inside. So in I went. Hence I missed the leg waves. And a bed indoors means no need to get off your face in order to face a night in a tent.

Camping is an acquired taste and a bit close to nature for me. But I learnt even when your tent is pitched by the water trough, The Farmer is right and the goats do keep away. I also learnt about Hot Dogging (not be confused with another activity). Under canvas, with your butt on the ground and your bod squigged between two semi-vertical airbeds, you are, a hot dog.

Other lessons: marshmellows roasted on an open fire are hot, in a toxic way; experienced campers bring earplugs; after sun-down a collection of cold, drunk, teenagers can nearly always be found by the log pile; and warm drunk grown-ups can be found round the ever larger camp fires. Hence the earplugs. And that’s before the snoring. There weren’t so many kum-bah-yah moments as whey hey away we go gems.

The hint is in the title. Sadly, the ‘just-for-fun’ quiz was taken seriously. Well done to Hinge for organising and Bracket for steady judging, in the face of fierce criticism and heckling. Thanks to our two favourite nieces (I have a lot of favourites) who excelled with prizes from their generous clients. Prizes were awarded for all sorts, as well as to anyone under 16 who turned up.

Boyfriends of favourite nieces need to learn our family ways. Team games involve fair play. For some, cheating is way of life and is, therefore, fair play. Good sportsmanship? This is the real world. Get over it. That said, it wasn’t just the finishing line that was crossed: an Aunty (who is also a Grandma) knocked over her darling nephew in the egg and spoon race. Ok, so he is in training for a military career and should be able to handle it. The video evidence makes compelling viewing. And since when are hands held on top of eggs? Next year, despite what Supersis says, the tug of war will be made of sturdier stuff and the girls will win. The secret weapon this year was the ‘drop’ on the codeword. Oh how the girls love to laugh and play to see the boys fall over. Fair play to you all. Boys should play like girls. Learn to stump the bases properly lads and you won’t be excluded. And a certain boyfriend (of favourite nieces) should stop blaming my cooking, or feigning tiredness, and handle it. Or abstain. Being sick as a dog, inside a tent, is neither big, clever, nor funny. And whey hey boyfriend! So what if my gorgeous boy is 5 foot 10. Tis no reason to hand him a beer. He is only 11!

A weekend within the bosom of your family and the differences surface. Supersis feeds the lids sweets loaded with chemicals, whilst I bake healthy veggy muffins. As she says, they are not hers to settle down. Some kinda twisted revenge for our invasion of her patch? But the country air is doing her good; she threatened eviction only once this year. Captain Chaos also showed a new side as ‘ed of ‘elf and safety. I mean where's the danger in The Farmer throwing 16 kids in a golf buggy round a bumpy field, at speed? The Farmer’s night-time nature walk, with all the dustbin lids, probably wasn’t as respectful to nature as he intended. As I’m sure that poor baby hedgehog would agree. The little-uns only tried to show him some love. My field observations: dustbin lids are like puppies - so long as fed, watered, exercised and given hugs they are happiest in a pack.

The ‘Don’t Wake Pete’ game didn’t work. Too ambitious perhaps to expect all the lids to sneak next to the snorer, and have their picture taken. Damn those flashes. Although I think the every-lid-on-site bundle made up for it.

On the last morning the Sergeant Major demonstrated how simple and organised breakfast for 60 can be. He’s definitely in the catering corp next year. Morning glory it generally wasn’t. How do some manage to look so slick in their PJs when hungover and not so fresh from their field beds? A clue is the age. Under 20 and 30 look a lot better than the over 40s. I'm dreading the over 50s bracket.

Vis-à-vis the above para: some seem more para about the Internet age than others. After extreme pressure, I removed some perfectly reasonable pictures from Facebook that a woman of a certain age perceived to be unflattering. For the record: privacy on t’net is a nonsense darling.

Whey hey for Camp Doe 2010.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Less is more?

What does it say about a marriage when the parties can’t even agree on the reasons for separation? Sadly, separated is what I am. Permanently.

Tis hard to find humour in heartbreak.

This is new territory. My parents were married for more than 40 years, yet I didn’t manage half that. The concern and kindness of many friends, family, and even some I wouldn’t have imagined would care, has been staggeringly reassuring. It’s a sharp contrast to those I might have expected to care.

I have no doubt what lays ahead is challenging, especially for my beautiful dustbin lids. But He-who-no-longer-has-to-be-adored is happy with his decision. Forging a path of least pain is my aim.

But, as they say, every cloud… The snoring torment is over. My gratitude for that small mercy is Gi’normous. Also, you can now say Chin up to me as I currently only have one chin. The others have disappeared due to my new daily diet of stress, cigs and coffee. Lots of coffee.

It doesn’t feel right, to me, to smoke when blogging as the whole point of this blog was nicotine replacement therapy. So I’m done with this, for a while. It was fun. But I have more pressing priorities now.