Saturday 27 February 2010

It’s that utterly evil dog again…

You know the phrase: “It just eats money”, well guess what? It’s her latest trick.
However, in EBJ's defence, I will admit I don’t think she meant to eat it.
I had just taken the opportunity to de-fug my handbag and had everything out on the dining room table in neat piles ready to put back into said bag, including the ohmigodthat’sjustmademyday pile of scrumpled up £5 and £10 notes, which are to be found hidden among various receipts and other shopping detritus. This precious pile was sitting next to the rations pile of small round shortbread biscuits that you get with coffees in a variety of ubiquitous airport lounges, motorway hotels etc, and some good old fashioned individually wrapped teabags.
[I am sorry but in my experience, you only get decent tea bags in the UK.  A French tisane just does not cut the mustard and as for  a decent tea bag let alone a decent cup of cha in the good old US of A (unless imported) forget it.]
Anyway, I popped upstairs to put a few things away. You know Power Ranger back to Bog Boy’s room, Nintendo to the Boy’s room etc and was returning down the stairs when I heard a heavy thump, like a large parcel had fallen to the floor, there was a slight gagging noise then as I emerged in to the dining room utter silence. Just the flickering of the fire in the wood burner dancing across the scene. I switched on the light to get a better look and didn’t notice a thing. All the piles were exactly as I left them or so I thought. I started to put everything back in my bag and noticed that one of the biscuits was missing. I immediately glanced down at the Sassy dog in her basket by said fire and she rolled her eyes at me in that god-I-am-so-guilty-but-don’t-I-look-cute sort of way. And there beside her was the biscuit. So I picked it up thinking that was lucky.
I then turned to the most precious pile of all ready to start counting my millions. There was a problem. The folded up tenner which I swear I put there next to the ration pile was no longer there. I looked on the floor thinking the dog must have knocked it off after trying to purloin the biscuit. I searched every other pile on the table; I took everything out of the bag and searched again. I checked my purse and I checked the floor yet again even going under the dining room table on my hands and knees for a really good scout. Nothing.
I looked back at the dog. She grinned at me and thumped her tail – she looked so seriously guilty that there could be only one explanation – she’d eaten the tenner thinking it was the biscuit and had done so in a hurry because she could hear me coming down the stairs into the dining room.
It has left me in a bit of a pickle. I mean will she be able to digest a tenner? Will it do her any harm? Will I be able to retrieve said tenner and if so do I really want to? If I do retrieve it will it still be legal tender? And more importantly did the most evil whippet on the planet really make a mistake or has she decided that eating money is a good trick to add to her growing repertoire?

Thursday 25 February 2010

Now I know what's in mine - do you know what's in yours???

Things get lost in my handbag not just for days and weeks but for months and years. I no longer know what is in there, in fact there could be a whole other universe. It certainly feels like it, but whether there is anything useful  in there - well that’s the question really….I've taken up the lovely Diney's offer of a handbag meme over at Older Mum's are Fun 
just to see if I could actualy get my camera working!
Not a dog biscuit in sight honest!
Let's see:
Purse - bulging and fit to burst with used up car parking tickets, a variety of out of date loyalty cards for places I never visit anymore or only did the once.  No actual money I note...
Make up and make up remover and bright red nail varnish - ah yes I use that to identify my gardening gear. Three wicked stripes painted in the tools and easily identified when mysteriously found over at  Roger's... 
Loose change - even if it is in Euros and coppers  
A variety of empty cheque book stubs
London AtoZ  - because of course I will need to find my way around in...Suffolk 
Power Rangers - well don't you?
Hat and gloves   
Pac a bag
Rations - will always need a nice cuppa and a biccie shame I haven't actually got a mug in there too. 
Mini Leatherman - look I was once an agric student Ok and these things are important. It has plyers, tweezers, philips screw driver bit, scissors and of course the ubiquitous knife all of 1 inch long. I cannot tell you how useful it is and how often it has come in use. I just keep forgetting it is an offensive weapon too and I am always having to the guards at the Natural History Museum, the V&A, the London Metropolitan Police.... 
Passport - you never know when you might actually have to flee the country.  
Ladybird thing - I am not sure why it is in here nor what it does. In fact I don't think I have ever seen it before... 
White feather - good grief! Do you think they are trying to tell me something?????
I'd love to see what's in Muddy No Sugar's handbag over at How I like my Coffee as well as in Kitty's (bound to be so beautiful) up north in Village Fate 
But only if they want to!

Tuesday 23 February 2010

If the leader of the free world can do it why oh why can't you?

He’s late again. I am on my own again. I should be used to it I’m on my own a lot. There was a programme today about parenting on Radio 4 saying that if you want happy children put your marriage first. I agreed – wholeheartedly, not for the children I might say, but for me. It sounded a little one sided, in that the person doing the running should be the mother but I presume that was because it is more usual for the mother to be the one focussing on the children to the exclusion of all else but who can blame her?
If they are anything like me it is because they are neglected.
If a man keeps his woman on her toes and affords her the attention she is due she’ll not be molly coddling her children all the time she’ll be making him cordon bleu suppers, wearing nothing much more than a string of pearls – men just don’t seem to get this.
Do they have no brains? Do they have no sense at all?
I know it’s sexist to play it like this but one glass of champagne on an empty stomach and I’m ready for a major rant.
I need a real man!
Actually I need my husband to pay me some attention and not when I remind him to either – Come on guys! Where’s the spontaneity and romance in that? I need him to sweep me off my feet to keep me in a state of flux to make me feel alive, in love, hell dare I say, it in lust!
I need to feel I am treasured, wanted, that my price is above rubies not like his trusty old lucky frog boxer pants that are kept because they’re comfortable despite myriad holes and distinctly grey appearance.
I am not grey nor am I there to be comfy.
I am a sensual being one that need to be nurtured if I am to be nurturing back – you know what I mean.
Don’t give me that: Well if you want to be taken out all you have to do is say, (and book the table and arrange the babysitter and make sure that you are not otherwise previously engaged with work, your mates or even the garden).
It doesn’t work like that you know it doesn’t. We’re not THAT equal you know. There are some things a man just ought to do – and keep doing even if he is married. Crikey of President Obama can do a date night then why oh why can’t mine???
Okay this was a short rant because if I say anymore I will start embarrassing myself…but please if the leader of the free world can do it – come on guys why not you?

Monday 22 February 2010

House Hunting: Moving moments

We moved into our fnal resting place in 2001 on Halloween to be precise, six years later as I contemplated calling the builders in  for Phase II of the R£NOVATION, I spent my time day dreaming especially about those little ways and means of making the budget stretch just that little bit further....
"I swear the chimney creaked today. So I have been eyeing all day. As the winds howl round it and sleet slaps into it horizontally, I swear it must be moving - I actually want it to fall down! I long for it to fall down.
Just think of the damage a nine-foot chimney could do. Not those tall skinny ones on the more modern house such as a Georgian or Victorian one but a good old Tudor/Jacobean one, which houses an inglenook the size of a highly desirable London bed-sit.
Bearing in mind the Westerly gale, it should fall down the eastern part of the roof smashing through the attic, crashing across the small room, hopefully catching Charlie’s bedroom window on the way down. Wrecking the render perhaps? A good honest bit of damage. Roughly, what? Say £30,000 - £40,000.
I almost feel like walking along the roof ridge to give it a bit of a nudge. However, after some 450 years of being up there, my hopes are hardly likely to come true – I’ll just have to resort to the Lottery again.
Oh, how happy and na├»ve we were when we heard that the house was ours. The euphoria carried us for weeks and then the business of moving again cast a cloud over my existence. This would be the third move in two years – I suddenly realised just what my poor mother had to put up with following my father round the world with increasing regularity.
Whereas the move from London had been organised and slick, the move to Rookyard from rented accommodation was anything but. There was no Charlie to help; he was too tired of an evening to pack everything away. So it was left to me. I tried to put everything back in the right boxes but this time instead of knowing where everything was I didn’t and I didn’t know where I it was going either!
The pressure was increased when our landlord kindly informed us that he had already let the house we were renting to the underbidders – the family that had gone on holiday.
So, there I was, frantically packing and cleaning and longing to get out of there before the Underbidders turned up. They were due to come round the house on the day we moved out. With luck we shouldn’t meet.
Luck’s not like that.
In the middle of slapping post it notes on the boxes, scrubbing the banisters, stuffing the cats into their basket, the Jack Russels go off in paroxysms of barking.
And there she is getting out of her gleaming brand new navy blue Volvo – the wife of the Underbidder.
As she stalks her way to the door she barks: “Well we made you pay for it!”
She enters: “Well, you haven’t done much with this place have you?”
She stomps upstairs: “Well, we’ll have to get them to make this room up, I’m not paying all this rent for that.”
I haven’t uttered a word, my mind has atrophied with shock and all the things I should be saying just don’t.
Me: “Well, umm, would you like some tea?”
To my horror she says yes and then as I heroically scramble about and search for the kettle among all the newspapers, cardboard boxes, crates and suitcases, the removal men turn up and it’s all systems go, but she’s still there. Still wanting tea. Running from Kitchen to drawing room I manage to oversee a semblance of packing and at the same time carry out teatime inanities.
It is such a relief when she leaves I don’t notice that the removal men have completed the packing without me and suddenly the house is empty - everything is gone.
The relief is huge – then I remember that they don’t have a key for Rookyard and where the hell are the cats? Packed!

Friday 19 February 2010

I’m a lotto winner!

And I’m going to spend, spend, spend, spend, spend!
It was amazing and it was quite by accident too.
I was taking The Boy to swimming but had forgotten to pick him up a packed tea as we always do as a bit of a treat. Running a bit late as usual too. So on the way to the swimming pool, I stopped off at the local village shop and he and I got out to get him some sandwiches and crisps.
There wasn’t that much to choose from and The Boy was really upset but he started to look around for another treat while I paid for what we could get. I asked for a lucky dip. I always go for the lucky dip believing that if I had a set line of numbers the one day I forget to play would be the one day they all come up.
Just at that moment The Boy interrupts with a large packet of Malteasers. I bark at him to put that back and ask for my lucky dip please. When I get it, I notice that instead of one line the shopkeeper has given me two.
I explain I only wanted one, but then feel a bit stupid and say it doesn’t matter.
We leave and although I try not to think of it there’s a bit in me that says: “This is meant to be.”
I really DO try not to think of the extra line but it hangs about me like a half finished dream. I can’t seem to help it and I start to plan what I would do if in my head. All the things I could do! I get a grip and refuse to even watch the whole shenanigan on the TV waiting until two days later before I finally check my numbers.
The first line - nada.
The second line: OH MY GOD!
I have matched. I have won for the first time ever on the lotto – it is so exciting I have a whole £6.70 to fritter away…oh you though it was more? He he he – come on it’s better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick and it was fun seeing the numbers come up with the: “You’re a winner!” message rather than the: “Sorry none of your numbers match” one.
We’re off to buy the latest kids DVD on offer – Monsters vs. Aliens. I think I will have to dip my hand in for an extra 30 pence but hey it’s half term and I’m going to go crazy and splash out for once!
Note: Making mistakes doesn't always have to be costly!

Picture shows: 1915 English magazine illustration of a lady riding a Champagne cork (Lordprice Collection), which you can buy on line

Wednesday 17 February 2010

Review: What’s the problem with the Skoda Yeti?

Or just the fact it is a Skoda.
Now I’ve driven this beast and I loved it. But before I drove it, before I got behind the wheel, I was a sceptic based purely on its parentage. Talk about prejudice! But I’m not the only one.
Only the other day I was happily chatting to a mate who said following my almost evangelical zeal in selling the Yeti to him before Christmas, he’d gone for a test drive himself. I asked how he’d liked it and he looked at me ruefully: “The problem is,” he said, “it’s a Skoda.”
Now this is just silly. There is nothing wrong with the Yeti – it’s built well, there’s great attention to detail, it’s fun to drive and it’s good value for money. I mean what is there not to like – bar the badge.
It got me thinking about snobbery in particular, brand snobbery and it’s led me to do a bit of navel gazing. And I reluctantly admit I am a brand snob - possibly even a proper snob but that’s another post.
I mean look at me! When I had to finally let go of the Land Rover Discovery, I was wet. No, I wouldn’t have a cheap car – hellloooooo! What did I mean by cheap? Ford, Peugeot, Nissan – I am sure they all have cars I could never afford in a million years. So based on nothing other than my own narrow minded perceptions I restricted my potential car pool to a few select brands I considered acceptable.
Acceptable to whom? Acceptable to the motor mechanic in me? It’s not as if I know anything about cars bar changing spark plugs, oil and making sure the water is kept topped up. I know very little about the mechanics of a car. Therefore, the acceptability has to be aesthetic – that’s like saying you’ll only be friends with people because of their looks and basically that’s pretty shallow.
But it’s more than that isn’t it? Buying a car says something about you and how you want people to think of you. You can make as many excuses as you like about car safety, because basically that is the only thing that seems to separate one car from another these days that’s of any importance. And, if you would only admit it, with such tight rules and regulation that’s a pretty weak argument.
So there we have it, buying a new car is down to what it looks like and what it says about you. DEEP huh!
I know people will stick to certain brands Ford, Land Rover, Volkswagen, BMW, Peugeot etc and, like banks will NEVER change. In fact it can get generational. There’s a bit of loyalty going on there – but heck these guys ain’t going to be loyal to you, they’ll sell their cars to anyone – honest!
It’s not as if you get a discount because you already drive a Ford and you are buying a new one – though manufacturers out there this is an INTERESTING POINT TO NOTE and you heard it here first!
If we were all thinking logically then we would opt of the cheapest car around all things being equal, but the marketers (yep you guys again) like to be divisive and have been brainwashing us the gormless public for years.
In years gone by it was because the new car really was better than at least one other model on the road but lately it’s more about a perception rather than a reality. I mean look at VW’s latest advert on the TV regarding the iconic Golf. I am not saying the Golf is not a good car it is I know I’ve got one and I love it, but is it better than say a Skoda? Is it better value for money? In this day and age that has to come tops and why I’ll probably be seriously considering a Skoda next time. (Don’t forget VW own Skoda…)

Monday 15 February 2010

St Valentine's Day - When you get it wrong really, really wrong…

My God I think he got it, he really, really got it! Last night he cooked dinner, a beautiful dinner. OK, not the three course thing and it was served on trays in front of the telly or would have been if there was anything decent on. I persuaded him to eat at the kitchen table and well it did. Who needs candle light or even a table cloth?
We had baked potatoes, salad out of the bag and beef olives – which were just scrumptious. He proudly told me he’d only just got to the butchers on time and Mark was closing up but agreed to serve him as he’d got his foot in the door before they officially closed. I was impressed.
He said he was too as he’d got a great deal on the beef, two for the price of one as they were a special St Valentine's Day recipe that would not keep. He enthusiastically said we’d have the second lot on Monday.
I have a feeling my husband and I are just not connecting, we’re a little out of sync. I don’t remember it always being so but after ten years and two children perhaps my memory is a little fuzzy.
It’s not as if we don’t try, we do but not together. Take last night, before the estimable supper, for instance. I’m having a bath; he’s putting the boys to bed. He’s already totally flummoxed me with not one, but two beautiful bouquets and has served me chilled Bouvay La Dubay. I am feeling Gooooood. He comes into the bathroom.
Him: “Hey is the bath still hot? I really need a bath.”
Me: “Sure come on in!”
Him, looking a little startled: “I think Bog Boy needs you to kiss him good night…”
I get out of the bath and drape a large fluffy towel round me and saunter off in the direction of my youngest’s room. Ten minutes later I return and slip into the bath with my husband.
Him: “Whoa! The water’s going to go over!”
Me: “No don’t worry about that. I’ll sit down slowly.”
Some where along the line it doesn’t work quite as I had planned and instead of going slow I splash, fall back on my husband ooofing him somewhat and probably totally negating any chance of us ever - even if we wanted to - having another child again, water goes everywhere and I find myself alone in what suddenly seems to be a very, very, big bathtub.
Me, looking up at him surprised, as he snaps a towel round his waist: “Oh you got out!”
Him: “Well, I am rather tired…”
As he walks out the bathroom I think isn’t that meant to be my excuse?
And then, of course, we have the dinner and I am truly touched. We seem to have drifted sort of, certainly over the last six months, maybe longer, I forget. There’s always so much to do and things to get on with. I suppose I hadn’t noticed. I feel a little guilty of my neglect because I have neglected him. Just as much as I feel he has neglected me. I determined to try again.
So tonight I do my best, but my best sort of fizzles out probably because my timing sucks. If you want to seduce your husband don’t do it when your kids have just gone to bed and are still trying to persuade you that they are NOT tired, don’t opt to retire to the coldest room in the house even if it is the furthest one from the aforementioned children, don’t forget to feed the dogs, don’t forget to lock the door and most importantly don’t forget to relax..
Suffice to say he was sweet about it all even when the dogs goosed him when he wasn’t expecting it – hey it would put the best off their stride. He said he loved me and I wondered if he really did. For whenever we try to get it together well it just doesn’t seem to happen I mean when I get it wrong, I really, really, get it wrong!

Picture shows: "Candle lit dinner for two" from Lady & The Tramp, Disney 1955.

Saturday 13 February 2010

My mistress’s eyes are nothing like the sun…a St Valentine's Eve lament

My mistress's eyes are nothing like the sun...Well, at least that’s what I think he thinks. To be honest I wouldn’t have a clue he’s not one for romantic eloquence. The best I get is a grunt, when prompted, which I like to think means: “That’s nice Darling!”
He forgot my Birthday last year, actually I didn’t remind him, perhaps that was a bit masochistic of me as I know he’s not that good on dates unless it’s for things like the Six Nations.
But it’s not as if he doesn’t buy me things, I am very lucky. He has bought me little bon motes over the years when prompted or when I say he has. It’s got to the stage when on Christmas Day I exclaim over a beautiful cashmere scarf: “Darling how wonderful just what I always wanted!” You should have seen his face it was a picture as he’d never seen the aforementioned scarf in his life but knowing he’s sort of forgotten he had to pretend he had – Mum and my sister think he has exquisite taste.
And as for Valentines Day? Well I don’t hold my breath -although this year owing to the fact that I let him forget my Birthday I am not feeling Laissez faire about the whole thing.
Actually in normal circumstances I feel the St Valentine’s Day thing is a bit of a rip off.
However, he DID forget my birthday…
So ever since they started the M&S St Valentine’s Day Eat in for £20 that’s what I’ve been nudging him to do and I only mentioned my Birthday once.
Of course in true husband/wife form I can’t actually tell him outright can I?
“Darling I want to you to take me out/make me supper on Valentine’s Day.”
That would be letting the side down I think. I need him to feel well bewildered, slightly uneasy. I need to see him actually using his brains trying to work out what has got into me, his normally perfectly unprepossessing wife.
The slight unbalance in his usually straightforward life will do him the world of good. It might even make him actually pay attention – to ME!
Because come on that’s all I really want just a little bit of attention, a little bit of thought. I don’t want a great deal really…

My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun (Sonnet 130)
By William Shakespeare

My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips' red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress when she walks treads on the ground.
     And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
     As any she belied with false compare.

Picture shows: Jamie Roberts (Wales) fighting off the Scots in the Wales vs Scotland RBS 6 Nations Rugby match on Saturday 13th February. It was a Welsh Victory (31-24)

Thursday 11 February 2010

My depression and I: We're a double act...

My depression and I have a symbiotic relationship in that without it I would find it difficult to know who I am – I mean it’s been a long time.
I have had moments of utter obfuscation and ones of clarity so pure that I understand the essence of life and all its myriad meanings.
Can I honestly say that my life would have been better without it? I have a problem with that, for you see that would not have been my life. I have been defined by my depression but I have also been made by it.
In some of my blackest moments, I have never been more eloquent. It is rush. Words flood. I speak with an assurance that I never normally feel. The pen I write with creates a beauty on the page that usually evades me. There is a power and intensity about it all and then it bursts, and my tongue doubles up in my mouth and my pen spews spiders across the page. My anger and frustration crowds out reality and I sob and despair internally, secretly knowing deep down inside that there will be another ride, if I can just hold on.
I have cynically used my depression as a catch all to get out of things I don’t want to do and to disguise my failings because I am too lazy to do anything about them. Anything to make my life easier. Let’s face it if people think you are weak then they have a tendency to do things for you and as long as you don’t mind them patronising you, life can be very pleasant most of the time.
I will admit, for it is on record, that my depression has almost destroyed me too. Sometimes that is what I feel I most want, what I need. Sometimes I feel that is what is best for everyone around me - it’s almost altruistic.
I confuse people, I know. For my depression has also spurred me to tackle feats of endurance both mental and physical that even the strongest would shy, from an expedition to the Magnetic North Pole, becoming one of the first two English women to do so, and latterly running the London Marathon. I don’t fit people’s expectations.
Perhaps in my efforts to be normal, to be accepted at every level I push myself harder than I should. Maybe that helps trigger the cycle of episodes and perpetuates the problem but what would I be without it? Who would I be without it? Like my shadow, I don’t think I could exist without it anymore.
My depression and I, well we’re a double act.

Places you might like to go: Breaking the Silence  and posts you might like to read: Rosie Scribble - I am not stupid; Menopausal Old Bag - Depression is for the Middle Classes; Diary of a Desperate Exmoor Woman - breaking the silence

Tuesday 9 February 2010

Rats on stilts....

There is a history of badly behaved dogs in my family, it's a fact I am not desperately proud of but a fact it is. Our dogs are not endearing either, I mean whippets aren't everyone's cup of tea are they? To us they are perfect, to others - well most say they are horribly skinny, shivery dogs but I think the best descrioption of them was something I overheard  in Wales such a long time ago now...
It was on a beach picnic in the mid 1970s there was me, Mum, my sister and two of the most badly behaved dogs ever. In their defence we were there first on the beach and it was quite empty to begin with but as the morning wore on and the sun became hotter and hotter, more and more families came to join us.
Now our two dogs Robin and Jay were northern whippets and like all whippets enjoyed sloping off to hunt whenever Mum’s back was turned. They were quite incorrigible and Mum had no control at all. From a distance she could see that her dogs were misbehaving badly. Instead of hunting up the grassy slopes away from the beach those two rascals had hit upon the best game ever - nicking everyone’s sandwiches and peeing on all the sandcastles and running like stink when people found out. It was pure heaven - for them!.
When you can do something really, really well you can’t help but show off and these two could run and it was so lovely watching them – although when I pointed this out to Mum she quite disowned them and said they weren’t ours. She rammed her sunglasses on more firmly, dug her nose more deeply into her magazine and studiously ignored the dogs.
I think this had a lot to do with the fact that there were two ample ladies in nylon flower print dresses looking disapprovingly at the dogs as well.
Creaking in their comfortable stripped canvas deck chairs one pursed her lips and said to the other: “Look you at those two dogs over by there – ooohhh, they look like rats on stilts!”

Sunday 7 February 2010

Bringing up Boys: How (NOT) to get children to behave on long car journeys...

I love driving, I love long journeys. I just don’t like doing either with boys in the back.
I don’t think it would be so bad if I couldn’t hear them, see them, smell them or touch them – perhaps a privacy divide such as those in the best limousines that you see on the telly. Failing that I do my best.
It’s usually a case of carrot and stick. If you behave and don’t:
• Hit your brother
• Kick my seat
• Shout at me
• Shout at your Brother
• Push the dog
• Want a wee
• Take your seatbelt off
• Want to go home/stay where you are
• Want a drink
• Want food
• Want the radio on
• Want the radio off
• Want a different CD to the one she has just put in
• Need a huggie when Mummy is overtaking a lorry on a particularly difficult piece of road
THEN Mummy will give you some sweeties/a new Anbarrow/toys/ well virtually anything at this moment in time!
Sometimes this tactic works, more often than not it works but for not long enough. It is so easy to opt for sterner measures. Firstly I go for the withdrawal of privileges but about an hour and 45 minutes into the journey with road works, snow and massive lorries either side of me and still no let up from my companions, I do what many a parent has done before. I broker the great ‘I-will-leave-you-at-the-side-of-the-road-if you-do-not-be-quiet-now’ threat.
In journeys gone by this has proved exceedingly effective but as with many things familiarity breeds contempt and there comes a time where you have to put (or at least seemingly put) your money where your mouth is…
Now picture this: The Boy is an imaginative soul and he’s also quite dramatic. His younger brother is at the stage where he needs to test his metal. I have been driving for two hours and the boys are whining, kicking, shoving and just will not go to sleep. It’s 11 o’clock at night. I’m negotiating the myriad roundabouts that make up the ring road route round Milton Keynes. It’s snowing and I am desperately tired – I NEED to concentrate.
Me- exasperated: “If you do not be quiet now I will pull over and leave you by the side of the road! Now be quiet.”
Them chorusing: “Noooooooo!!!”
Me: “Boys! I said be quiet…NOW!”
Bog Boy: “But I don’t want to be eaten by the animals…”
Me: “Then be quiet and go to sleep.”
There is a momentary lull then one or other of them thumps the other and there is lots of shouting…Bog Boy gets out of his chair and jumps on his brother
Me, completely at the end of my tether: “RIGHT that’s it at the next lay by I am stopping and you are getting out. Bog Boy put your seat belt back on NOW!
The Boy: “Please Mum nooooo!”
Bog Boy: “Mummee! I don’t want it!”
Me (as I indicate to pull into a convenient bus stop): “Too late!”
I mean to just check that Bog Boy has got his seat belt on properly but I forget that for them it must really seem like I am going to haul them out of the back seat and dump them there in the lay by.
Both boys explode into tears and start screaming. The Boy holds tightly onto Bog Boy
The Boy: “No Mummy! No! Don’t do it Mummy, please don’t!”
Bog Boy: “I don’t want it! I don’t want it! No Mummeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!”
I swerve over the road at the unexpectedness of the explosion from the back and slam on the brakes making the car swerve and go into a massive skid. The back end is totally out of control and the bus stop looks remarkably solid and getting terrifyingly near. I steer violently one way then the other and somehow luck is on our side and the car comes to a halt.
Shaken I open the front door to get out. Both boys are still shouting in the back and I glance at down to see a hypodermic needle on the ground, I look about and note bits of foil as well and another needle. There is someone there just out of sight. My heart is already pumping but this seriously scares me and slamming the door, I start the car and make off almost as quickly as I stopped.
The boys are absolutely silent now in the back,
Me - with icy calmness that I don’t really feel: “Bog Boy? Boy? Are you alright?”
Them - very subdued: “Yes Mummy.”
Me: “Why don I put some nice quiet music on and you go to sleep….”
Note: There are 300 roundabouts in Milton Keynes. Fear does focus minds. I really, really wouldn’t recommend it.
Picture: Liz Leyh's "Concrete Cows" in 2006

Friday 5 February 2010

Bringing up Boys: Willies, wee and ritual humiliation

Boys are wonderful creatures really despite driving their mothers to distraction.
Mine just cannot seem to concentrate for longer than two seconds and decide to instigate inappropriate conversations when I cannot answer or when answering would mean that I have to somewhat embarrassingly acknowledge that yes they are my children rather than someone else’s.
The conversations usually run along the lines of sex - their view of it - or going to the loo, sometimes both. For example, there’s this one from The Boy aged six and three quarters. “Why does my willy go hard when I pee Mummy?” said only this Tuesday by the cheese counter at Waitrose.
There is the classic: “I know where babies come from…” said by eldest in East as he watched me and two larger ladies try on dresses – wait for it: “from fat people Mummy.”
Then there is Bog Boy saying he needs a wee while we look round the Lots at a very posh auction house. This is the first time he has announced this, I start to respond with a: “Are you sure?” but before I can finish he says: “It’s alright now Mummy, I’ve gone…” and I note the growing damp patch on the soft moss green carpet emanating from where he stands totally unfazed.
One begins to wonder whether taking children out is a good idea or whether one should opt for shopping on the internet until they are teenagers.
It’s not just when I am shopping and they are understandably bored but it happens that they suddenly demand attention when I am trying to turn right at a busy junction or am trying to negotiate my way across four lanes of terrifyingly fast moving traffic on the motorway, sometimes it’s happened in Museums, on trains, basically at moments when my attention is not really focussed on them.
They know I get cross and my response cannot be what they are really after but they are learning. If they really want to hit Mummy in the emotional solar plexus all they have to do is say: “Mummy, you’re the best mummy in the world!”
Usually after I have just barked at them in public just to ensure my ritual humiliation is total as well.

Wednesday 3 February 2010

Tagged - OK Yah!

I’ve been tagged by the amazing and deliciously bonkers Exmoor Jane over at Diary of a Desperate Exmoor Woman. The meme is to reveal a memory, be it a dark or light one. And now my mind has gone blank…HELP! Brain meltdown!
Right! Just pick a memory, any memory.
Ok, no, not that one… no definitely not that - far too embarrassing. No, nor that one - too humiliating. That one could be?…well, no – it’s a bit difficult to explain. Look it would need a 100,000 word novel behind it for it to make any sense at all!
Aha! What about this old chestnut?
Inspired by the fact Jane can be found in Exmoor – no it doesn’t have anything to do with her nor does it have anything to do with Exmoor. My brain is just wired odd that’s all…
It’s about college, mine and the first day there.
Seale Hayne Agricultural College in Devon near Newton Abbot and the best times ever – for one, my Mum wasn’t going to be around to hamper my social life or at least that’s what I hoped.
I don’t think she deliberately tried to hamper it, she just wanted to focus it. Agricultural College and farming were not part of her game plan for me but she and the rest of the family worked with me and I sort of disappointed them for starts by opting for Seale Hayne.
I mean as far as I can make out they would have much preferred me to have gone to Cirencester and the Royal Agricultural College – looking back perhaps they were right but then I wouldn’t be where I am now, and I certainly would never have become a journalist. (OK not a desperately high flying one but I have been lucky enough to have been gainfully employed for 21 years!)
Anyway, it’s the first day and Mum and I travel down in convoy all the way from Yorkshire. Dad is a way again, this time in Zimbabwe on an unaccompanied tour – this was a MAJOR bone of contention – and I was about to leave home for pastures new after a year of living at home.
Mum I think needed a bit of glamour and kudos and all I could give was Seale Hayne. In terms of social cachet back then Seale Hayne did not rank with the RAC. In those days of Hooray Henries and the OK Yah crowd, which I was thankfully leaving behind, the RAC was THE place to be seen – if you wanted that sort of thing. I had got accepted there. In fact they offered me an unconditional place. I turned it down because I just didn’t think they took me seriously and I so wanted to be taken seriously.
I had been shown around by one of the lecturers with another potential student who I think was called Jocelyn - you know a blonde floppy haired, Harrow educated son of a minor duke or something who would inherit a little farm of some 4,000 acres and probably drive a red golf Gti – just my family’s cup of tea. I remember he wore magenta coloured crocodile skin winkle pickers. He clearly didn’t seem interested in farming. However, he was shown all the exciting farming things and I was shown the Great Hall with its state of the art stage and excitedly informed how great the drama club was…it didn’t go down well with me – at all!
I think my family’s collective disappointment was palpable.
So now in Devon we were, and not a Golf Gti in sight, no trilby hats or new waxed Barbours. Just a lot of strange hairy men, hippy hand knit jumpers and an amalgam of ancient and rusty cars – mine included.
It was this tiny little fact that was to be my undoing and never have I felt more embarrassed.
Having just parked all my belongings into my room and returning to say goodbye my Mum spotted an even older version of my trusty Blue Maxi car. And in her best and poshest voice mother says: “Oh look Darling over there a car even more rusty and falling to bits car than yours!”
The pronouncement echoed round the college and there was a lull in activity as every head swivelled in our direction, including the owner of the aforementioned car. I wanted to die! I could see my social aspirations withering before I had even started!
I love my mother and always will but she sure picks her moments!
Notes: Seale Hayne is no longer an Agricultural College. The RAC goes from strength to strength despite my absence as one of its alumni  I have yet to see a similar pair of winkle pickers. I did find a suitable husband.
For my own pleasure I will now pick five bloggers 'cos I'd really like to know:
Crystal Jigsaw (if she's not already done it!)
SmitoniusAndSonata (I think that counts as two!)
Wandering Gecko

Monday 1 February 2010

The wickedest whippet again…

I am a slow learner and it seems my dog is not.
Although I know she can jump on to the kitchen counter I have failed to realise that she has the capacity to do more than just that and she has. She has gone further in her never ending quest for mayhem and destruction and of course her pursuit of food than I ever imagined possible.
I am not saying she can now open the fridge door and help herself, a trick I am sure she will reveal at a later date, no, now she’s doing something just as bad. Not satisfied with leftovers on the kitchen counter, my whippet has learned that the food on the cooker is also up for grabs.
At present she’s not actually going for food on the boil so to speak but she is taking the food left in the pans. Fair enough I hear you say if you will leave food on the cooker.
But what if I were to tell you the pots and pans have their lids firmly on? What if I were to tell you she has learned to take the lids off before helping herself and what if I were to tell you that she actually chooses what she wants to help herself to?
What then!?
The little blighter jumps on the counter, stalks over to the cooker and lifts the lids on all the pots and pans there ignoring the veggies, but failing to put the lids back on, and just opts for things like stew and boiled chicken.
And how do I know this? Because although she may be clever, she is not clever enough and I found the remains of the chicken in her den under the foot stool along with the shells of six eggs and a rather battered egg box.
God how I hope she’s sick!

Go on you know you want to...


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