Friday, 9 July 2010

Naughty Adam

Sometimes I don't gel with people. Maybe it's me. I think I try too hard. I always say too much to people I have just met, especially mothers of the kids at my sons' nursery. I think I will win them over if I blurt out something about neglecting my children and rather than laugh they look terrified. It's not like I mean it, not really.
There is one mum in particular who has decided she hates me. And I can see her point.
A couple of months back I was on my way to collect George, my 3 year old, from nursery and I had his younger, shouty brother James, then not quite 2, in our buggy. The Hater was also waiting, also with a younger child and using a Phil and Teds double.
I have a lot of respect for the Phil and Teds double. No, really I do. It's clever design means you can stack your kids without them being able to touch or maim each other, it's the double decker of the buggy world. Pricey yes, but it proved itself to be a necessary investment when James was 5 days old and his older brother George kept poking him in the eye when they were sat together in my original side by side double buggy.
After I had claimed George at the nursery front door, I popped him on the buggy board we have attached to the back of our standard buggy and made the way back past the other mum's, passing the Hater. She was sort of looking through me and despite myself and everything that has gone before, I struck up conversation. Whilst walking past. The fact I was moving and I the fact that I didn't really mean to speak to her meant that I mumbled my opener. I said: "They're great buggies aren't they? The Phil and Teds? I said, they're great, the PHIL AND TEDS?"
The hater was obviously confused and having a hard time understand why I was bothering to talk and to complicate matters, talk about a Phil and Teds whilst not actually using one.
"Have you got one then?" she snapped.
"Um, no, not anymore, sold it a while ago to a friend when the boys started to get a big big for it."
As I blathered I glanced at her two little darlings and realised quickly that my little boys were younger than hers. And yet I had just said my kids were too big (read mature, read developed, read intelligent, read attractive) for the Phil and Teds. This, in parental terms, is a huge diss. A massive faux pas. And immediately she was on the defensive.
"My Adam just isn't ready for a buggy board yet, he's just not ready"

I was still walking and didn't stop. I considered going back to her and saying I didn't mean anything by it. I wasn't criticising her offspring, not deliberately anyway, and yet I had really screwed up her mood.
I scuttled off blushing furiously and running the brief exchange over in my mind. I was a bit mortified and worried about it for a few moments but by the time I'd got home and wrestled several stones from James' mouth it all seemed a bit of a flustered embarrassing memory.
I thought nothing of Adam, his younger brother and his annoyed mummy until we next crossed paths on the way to the nursery. For a while we were walking in parallel on opposite sides of the road in the same direction. It wasn't really crossing paths, more her ignoring me while I tried to casually get her attention from the other side of the road and smile to clear the air - not as easy as it sounds. She successfully ignored us and increased her speed making sure she was about 10 metres ahead when we arrived at the nursery car park. By this time George, my gorgeous 3 year old son had spotted Adam and his family too. And was keen to point them out to me.
George has talked about Adam at home a few times and clearly considers him to be a bit of a scallywag. If anyone has been told off at nursery it is usually Adam. Naughty Adam.
"Look Mummy!" shouted George. "It's Naughty Adam!"
Adam's mummy DEFINITELY heard George refer to her Adam as naughty. But if she was in any doubt, he said it again. And again. Louder.
By this time George was also pointing and I was blushing again.
I blushed more and then I started giggling. I realised Adam's mummy will never invite me over for an awkward coffee and I will not have to invite (Naughty) Adam over for tea or whatever it is that kids have these days. So, George has done me a favour really although I am already dreading the nicknames James will be given.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

New friends

After 5 years I am finally starting to make friends with the folks on my street.
It's not as if I had scraps with them before, we just weren't on first name terms.
Almost suddenly I know the neighbours and it's actually rather marvellous.

Susan over the road's fridge conked out last week so I kept some stuff cold for her and in return she gave me some daffodils. Admittedly they are a bit dead now but that isn't completely Susan's fault and I'm sure she'll replace them.

The family next door have liberated our daft dog, Buddy. We've been dreadful dog owners for the last 5 years and not trained the little fella to come back when let off the lead. This is because we are lazy. Clive from next door recently took Buddy for a walk and automatically let him off the lead. Would be believe it, Buddy came back? It's as if Buddy has been to a Barbara Woodhouse finishing school. It is awesome.

I was an Avon lady for about 9 months last year and my knocking on doors trying to flog make up is another way I've raised my local profile.
Avon wasn't very popular. In fact, some people (nos 32 and 37 especially) still cross the road when they see me.(The rash has cleared completely now.)

My favourite neighbours live only a few houses away and have two little boys who are a similar age to my two sons. The four of them get on very well and luckily I think their mum, Jane, is brilliant so we can all hang out together.
Jane has gone away for the weekend so when I took my boys to nursery on Friday morning we met her husband who was also on the nursery run. As the kids scooted off together Matt and I chatted for the first time.
And he clearly thinks Jane and I are a lot closer than we are.
What makes me say that?
Well, he told me stuff he probably shouldn't have assuming I already knew.
Intimate stuff.
Jane and I have talked about the possibility of having a third child. When I say talked I mean I have said how hideous a prospect it is and she has gone along with it. As Matt and I chatted I commented on how much fun my boys are.
He agreed saying his sons are great too and that he and Jane are keen for more babies.
So keen that Jane is plotting her cycle and taking her temperature.
So very keen that Matt is taking vitamins.
So super keen that Jane has bought Matt some special pants.
Special pants!
Special pants?!
Who tells their neighbour about their pants, special or otherwise, within seconds of meeting for the first time? I think if I had asked to see them he would've happily, innocently flashed me.
I'm not sure I'm at the stage when I can call any of my neighbours good friends but I will definitely pop over to visit Matt and his boys tomorrow. And maybe strike up a conversation about pin numbers?

Sunday, 21 February 2010

I fought the law

I've felt the rough hand of justice.

Oh yes I have. I fought the law.

At least that's how I like to remember it but it is going
back a few years. It was Christmas and I was travelling back from my parent's
house to my 1 bedroom flat in Walthamstow. I'd been in Essex for a few days, I
think this was the 28th December or thereabouts. It was definitely in that odd
period between Christmas and New Year. I was on hols from work and very single.
Not sure what I was hurrying back to E17 for, really. I was probably keen to put
all my lovely Christmas things away and watch some videos.

It wasn't a bad journey. About an hour all in, usually
very straightforward. But today there was a a twist: snow. We're used to the
stuff now. Bored of it even. But back in 2000ish it was huge. Though not
actually. As Paul Daniels would say: (there was) not a lot. But a covering,
which was more than enough to make this nervy driver scared.

I think my folks also felt a bit anxious about their
little girl braving the elements/light dusting of snow as I returned to my crazy
life up in the big smoke/back to my admin job in subtitling. I may as well have
been hoisting a stick with a spotted hanky tied to the end and trudging back to
the mean streets. The journey had been perfectly commonplace until I opted for a
short cut when I was about 30 seconds from my flat. The only snow I had seen up
to then was in Braintree and in the Essex countryside. I certainly didn't expect
to run into any now I was back in out nation's capital, and besides, I thought
snow couldn't settle on gold?

I was tootling along nicely in my H reg VW Polo, as I
say, really nearly almost home when the snow started to get serious. By serious
I mean there was a visible dusting on the road. The ROAD! I remained calm but
definitely concentrated further, probably turning the radio down and/or gripping
the steering wheel a bit more. Then I spotted the roadworks. Nothing to write a
petition about. It was just a few cones making it so you had to give the
opposing traffic right of way before driving past it. And would you Adam and Eve
it? I was required to stop, only to find that I couldn't. I was moving at about
10 miles an hour, maybe less, when I attempted to pull in to let the oncoming
traffic pass.

And failed.

I applied the brake and the car started sliding.
Skidding. Ever so slightly. I was suddenly proper scared. I remember thinking,
"Steer in to it! Steer in to it!" and still not understanding what on earth that
meant. I pressed the brake again and again, the road wasn't on a slope and
eventually I slowed to a halt, just brushing an orange traffic cone gently with
the front left corner of my bumper. A very gentle knock, I was certain there
would be no damage.

By now the opposing traffic was passing me and very soon
indeed I would be required to pull out and move off again. I can't really
remember what I was saying or thinking at this point but I think it's a safe bet
to assume angry, scared, sweary and shouty (just like the 4 Dwarfs that didn't
live with Snow White) I was not happy and suddenly I was being beeped at by the
drivers behind me. Did they not realise I had just been involved in a miniscule
RTA? Apparentely not. Beeeeep! "I'm frickin' stuck, drive round me!" I shouted.
I prised my white knuckly hands from the steering wheel to gesticulate that I
wanted the cars behind to pass.

Within seconds I was being overtaken: the drivers behind
were now zipping past me, not before getting a good look at the pickle I was in.
All the while I was undoubtedly shouting a noisy sarcastic commentary: "I am
really sorry my poor driving delayed your journey by ooh, let's say, 15 SECONDS!
Please do move along and don't forget to give me a withering look when you
pass!" But one of the cars, a beautiful 4x4, drove past, especially slowly and
mouthed something to me whilst making a circular mime.

The man driving wasn't laughing but he was smiling kindly
and would come back to help me! He would drive past, pull in and then come back
to help. I was saved! Relief washed over me, I was calm. With no cars behind or
in front and my faith in humanity restored I found the strength to reverse back
a little and resume my journey. I was back in the saddle. Not sure what all the
shouting had been about. Ha! HA!

About 20 metres up the road, and even closer to home, I
saw the 4x4 driver out of his 4x4. He was jogging! He was jogging back to help
me! My hero! How kind! It was my turn to mouth and shout. "Ohh thanks for coming
back" I bellowed "But I'm ok now. Aw! So kind! Thanks! Happy New Year! Thanks!"
I doubt he'll have got any of that. I can only hope I gave him a cheeky thumbs
up to further illustrate my gratitude. I whizzed past him, a bit hysterical and
noisy and glided into the final corner.

And I kept on gliding. The left turn bend was sharp and
conditions were treacherous, or, you know, a bit slippy. I slid, slowly, into
the back right hand corner of a parked car. Oh blimey. This was real this time.
I proper prang. My friends had all had them: prangs. It was my time. Already
people behind were overtaking. And looking. Rubber-wotsitting. I didn't know
what to do but it was all going to be ok because he was back! Super 4X4 man!
He'd been jogging back to his car after I snubbed his initial attempts to help
me when I clipped the parked Mondeo. With a bound he was there, by the impact
point, shouting instructions at me. "Back up! Back up!" But I couldn't. No grip
you see. All I could muster were some wheelspins while more cars drove past
slowly. My hero ever so slightly lost his cool. "BACK UP! COME ON! BACK UP!"
Nope. Sorry. I'd love to help but I can't. And now I am panicking cos you're
getting cross. With a further heroic bound he straddled the front of my car
where it was joined to the Ford and started to push us backwards. Heave! Hooray!
We were moving! With my window down I shouted some/all of the following: "Thank
you! Thank you! Is there much damage? I thought I'd be there forever! Just
wouldn't move! Wish people would stop staring! Is there any damage? Are you ok?
Oh my goodness, thank you!" Our hero assured me there was no damage to either vehicle
and waved me on my merry way. I parked up outside my flat no more than 30
seconds later and realised I was shaking. I really am a complete wuss. And that
was it. The end of the whole sorry little episode.

Or so I thought. Remember I said I was single?

Well, on the morning of 14th February I was optimistic as
well as being single. Maybe the postman would bring me a Valentine? I checked
for any mail as I left for work and was thrilled to see I had something! With a
handwritten address! I tore it open as I skipped off up the road. Who could it
from? How many people knew my full address? Wow! It could be from literally two
people! A bit papery for a card though. A bit bendy and not very cardy. It could
almost be a letter. Oh. OH! It was from the Metropolitan Police. Ooh! Shit. I
was the registered owner of a car that had been involved in an RTA blah blah
blah and I had left the scene blah blah blah witness had taken my number plate
blah blah blah I was required to present my documents at the local nick blah
blah blah. OH MY GOODNESS! Well, I was terrified. (Wuss.) I'd have to get my
insurance certificate, my MOT and my registration documents together and go to
the police station in Walthamstow. Happy Valentines!

I called my boss and told him I was a fugitive and needed
to give myself up. Ha ha! Oh, I made a joke about it but really I was terrified.
I genuinely had no idea at all what would happen to me. I had not heard of
anyone being asked the present their documents before so on that bleak
Valentine's Day it sounded gritty and ominous. I thought I had best get on with
it. Do it now. Face up to my past.

So after a quick visit to the car file in my super tidy
flat I was off to surrender at my local police station. I had no idea where it
was so walked along clutching my A-Z, trying to be brave. By the time I arrived
I was convinced I was horribly guilty of the horrible crime and would be
punished. Horribly. And I was quite worked up. My 4x4 hero had said there was no
damage. He must have lied! Into the empty reception area bit I went and as
calmly as I could walked up to the female police officer who was sat behind the
glass partition. My voice wobbled slightly when I said "I'm here to show you my
documents". The officer hadn't noticed my nerves. She very politely said
something like "Ok, thank you" as I passed her all the paperwork. She certainly
hadn't requested back up from her colleagues.

The next couple of minutes seemed to last, oh, at least
5. I stood there, shifting my weight from side to side, biting my lip, checking
my nails, trying not to suck my thumb, adjusting my bag whilst trying not to
fidget. The officer in charge of my case was writing down my car number plate
and my car insurance policy number on sheet of paper. She said nothing to me and
I remained silent. I knew my rights. On and on this went. She really was quite
slow at writing. She wrote something down about my valid MOT and then started to
shuffle the documents to tidy them up. Now was as good a time as any to find out
what my future held. I cleared my throat and asked "what's going to happen to me

The WPC looked at me as my eyes filled with tears. She'd
heard my voice break halfway through my plea. She looked really puzzled. I had
asked a simple question but it sounded like I was about to push my wrists
together and declare "It's a fair cop!" She looked really really puzzled. "Well,
um, thanks for bringing all the paperwork in. It all seems fine, we'll be in
touch." "Oh" I gasped. "Ok" I was obviously weeping at this point. "Try not to
worry!" she called as I trudged out of the station. I got outside and did a
proper cry. A little one but a proper one. What a lemon.

I went off to work and tried to act all cool about it. I
also thought about what the officer had said: try not to worry. I stopped
worrying, eventually. It only took about a week or so. Then a month later I got
a letter telling me that the Met Police were satisfied that I hadn't
deliberately broken the law and that there were letting me go. I had been
cleared! I was a free woman! I felt elated. I wanted to see 4x4 man again and
get really drunk with him as we reminisced about the caper. And then, when I
really thought about the whole story, I felt like a total, law abiding, cretin.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

My 30th Birthday

I went to Babington House for my 30th Birthday.
Babington House, located in Somerset is a boutiquey type hotel run by the owners of Soho House and the like. It was an extremely frivolous decision to go but I managed to convince myself and my fiance we had no choice. Also I had seen an offer in Glamour magazine which made the deal seem almost reasonable (if I halved the price).

I turned 30 on Sunday 16th January and travelled to Bath by train that morning. My husband to be and I were feeling a little ropey because we'd been out the night before celebrating with my parents and some of my friends. We had dinner at Hakkasan which I used to go to a lot on work lunches, but never, you know, for fun. At Hakkasan I drank a lot of gin and then had a cocktail for afters. My parents caught the train back to Essex so my pals, holding me gently by the elbow, guided me to Soho House. Hang on... Soho House... Aren't I off to Babington House tomorrow? I told as many people as I could that I was off to the other house the next day. What a coincidence? Ha! Ha... ha... ha? No? Righto.
One of my very good friends is a member.
It was preplanned.
You cretin
A bit later I falsely accused my friends of drinking my drinks (I had been drinking super fast).
Then was sick.
All that was a dim and blurry memory as we travelled 1st class and watched a DVD on the way there.
We may have had a spot of something boozy on the train but can't be sure.
I am sure of the snacks though: plenty.
As instructed, on arrival at Bath Spa we waited for Gordon to collect us from the station. He was the dedicated driver, a one man taxi firm for Babington House who made us feel very welcome when he picked us up.
I should explain a bit more here about my expectations for the visit.

I assumed we would be surrounded by the super rich/fit/glam. By that I mean hot celebrities who would be very keen to make friends with us and then lavish us with gifts and their Hollywood stardom.
The place would be really cool yet despite this I would fit in, no problemo!
I imagined the room we'd be staying in for 2 nights would actually be a suite that they'd comp us cos it was my birthday. (Look at me saying comp like I say it every day!)
I was looking forward to smothering myself with the lush Cowshed products (home made by Babington House).
I would get a couple of beauty treatments 'done' to me while I was there and that combined with the gym and pool meant I would return home in my thirties, yes, but looking a lot more like Elisabeth Shue than before.
I hadn't said any of this out loud of course. I'm not mental.

Gordon dropped us off just before 2. Would you believe it, our room (they meant suite I was sure) wasn't ready. Could we go to the bar please and wait there? Maybe grab lunch?
We were not hungry because of the snacks but didn't want to be awkward so retreated to The House Bar as casually as we could to try to spot slebs without actually looking at anyone.
In we trotted. We found ourselves in a room full of folk we assumed were called Tarquin and Terence or Hermione or Hortensia. There were men in expensive looking tailored jeans and women with impossibly shiny hair.
With my hangover forgotten, my fella and I grabbed the Sunday papers from the huge selection available and climbed on to the stools by the bar. Casually. Like we go there all the time. We wanted to look unimpressed, not touristy or unaccustomed to hanging out there.
Obviously I was having to stifle a fit of giggles.
We ordered drinks and some food and proceeded to get comfy, on the stools perched at the bar.
I spread out my Times Review (not the Style section that I really wanted) and without thinking gently pushed a huge fruit bowl a couple of centimetres away from my seat to allow the newspaper to lie flat.
What followed was possibly the most embarrassing moment of life.
When I nudged the fruit bowl the fruit bowl pushed against some glasses and those glasses fell to the floor.
About 40 of them.
Not all in one go either.
It seemed to take forever for the crashing and smashing noise to cease.
Long enough for me to look around the room and get a good look at my fellow guests who didn't notice I was staring cos they were watching the indoor glassy fireworks.
(Not one celebrity!)
No sooner had the first glass hit the floor I was apologising, of course.
It was at this point the bar men assumed the good cop/bad cop roles.
Good cop assured me it happened all the time and that it didn't matter at all.
Bad cop looked at me, and continued to do so for the duration of our stay, like I had shaved off his eyebrows while he slept.
I recall making it worse by saying I hadn't touched anything, like I was a twelve year old accused of something that's, like, really unfair.
If I'd have had my way we'd been out of there before you can say clumsy.
No such luck though.
As we'd ordered food we had to remain sat at the bar and wait for it to arrive.
Reception told us our luggage had been put in our room which was now ready so as soon as we'd scoffed we skulked off.
Yes, room. Not suite. The comp (there I go again!) had probably been revoked after the incident.

Once in the room we ran around for a while shouting 'gahh! did that happen?'
And there was plenty of space to do that.
The room was great, it had a mezzanine which felt all lofty and the best bathroom I have ever been in (before or since).
There was a huge walk through shower, giant bottles of Cowshed products and his and hers sinks.
It really was quite special.
At about 5ish I went off for a treatment, all done out in my huge towelling robe. I still have a worse sense of direction than Mark Thatcher so I was genuinely nervous about finding my way to and from the super chic Spa.
With all my nerves and anxiety going on I forgot to remember my room number and take a key out with me so when I got back from my pedicure I had no idea where my room was.
And, worse than that, I couldn't remember which of the doors I had come out of.
It was cold, dark and I was outside in my dressing gown with my toes nails all tacky in January.
I hovered for a bit.
Then did the only rational thing - I started trying all the doors.
Hang on, someone is coming out of that door, that must be the entrance!
I dashed to where the nice chap, also in a dressing gown was coming from and paused to let him out before trying to push myself in.
Only it wasn't the entrance to the main hotel.
It was just a door o his room. Oh.
My blushes aren't so obvious in the dark and thankfully I had to wait only a short while longer before bad cop came strutting out of the correct door (trust him to know!) and I was back in my room.
Blimey, I said! How embarrassing! What are the chances of being made to feel like a total wally twice in the space of a few hours? All downhill from now I reckoned.
Dinner that night was delicious. And I managed to behave/not pour soup down my arm/break anything.
After good night's sleep I woke up on the Monday morning well into my thirties, hoping to feel wiser at some point soon.
Whist I waited for that to happen we got on with breakfast and reading and watching films and then it was time for another treatment.
I was very much looking forward to this one.
A seaweed wrap, I would be scrubbed, covered in a smelly paste and then wrapped in bandages from head to toe and pop out smooth, toned and more like Ms Shue.
My beauty therapist met me in the spa reception to lead me to the room (actual sheds would you believe?) outside for the treatment. I could tell she wasn't having a brilliant day, she seemed irritated by something and to be honest was a grumpy old bat.
I tried not to take it personally as I skipped along behind her.
We got to her little shed and she immediately began setting things up - the scrubbing and pasting equipment, I assumed - leaving me to stand awkwardly, not knowing what to do next.
With her prep complete she started writing notes on her schedule.
I remained standing feeling like a proper (ignored) idiot now.
Hang on a sec!
I'm 30, I thought.
I am a grown up!
If she's not going to volunteer any information on treatment procedure I'll ask her.
So I said:
'Do I take all my clothes off or should I keep my knickers on?"
The grumpy old bat froze, then slowly looked at me with total horror before saying: 'For a manicure?!?"
Oh no. More blushing. There had been an awful mix up. I tried to make light of it. "Ha!" I said. The therapist failed to see the funny side which was odd because usually people fall about laughing when I try to take off my pants.
I got my seaweed wrap eventually and felt very smooth.
Suddenly it was our last night.
Dinner was good because the food at Babington House is excellent and a waitress happily stepped in to settle an argument about a Sesame Street character. (I was right)
The rest of our stay was uneventful I am delighted to report. Until the lying started.
As we checked out the receptionist asked if we had packed any of the Cowshed products from our bathroom, deciding to take them home?
This was a very easy question to answer because we had pinched ALL of the Cowshed products and stuffed them in my bag.
Most of the bottles were half empty because I'd been applying vast quantities of everything as soon as we got there.
But I had a feeling they would charge us. So, I fibbed.
No, we hadn't taken any thanks. Not one.
Then I panicked.
My lightening quick criminal mind was thinking:
"Ok, they want to charge us for some. We'll fess up to a couple, pay for those, they'll shove them on the bill now and hopefully they'll ignore the other things we nabbed, as a gesture of goodwill cos it was my birthday. And that"
"Um. Well, we have taken a couple. A shampoo and a bath oil"
"Oh. Right. I'll amend your bill, that'll be an extra £24"
The bill was already obscene, the additional £24 was a drop in the ocean really.
As our revised statement of account was printed again I calculated just how much Cowshed gear we had on us.
Stuff that in actual fact we didn't really want - if we had to pay for it, that is. I shuddered.
I mean, these were half used bottles of shower gel we're talking about! Hardly worth worrying about. Was it?
Gordon dropped us back at Bath Spa and my boyfriend and I felt a bit flat. The bill had been enormous and we'd had to lie about taking our already part used toiletries home with us.
But we snapped out of it, caught the train and went back to London.
We had a few days grace before the Babington branch of CID caught up with us.
The letter was polite. It assumed we'd forgotten to mention the other 7 Cowshed products we'd taken home with us. But not to worry, they'd found us now. That'll be £84 please. ASAP.
What could we do?
Fight? Make a fuss?
No Of course not! I paid up quick smart. and said sorry a lot.
My 30th birthday was really very memorable. And very expensive.
Babington House is a wonderful retreat.
One day, when I have plenty of money I will return. Unless they decide to comp me, of course.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Me and the Hoff

Writing gift tags can get dull.
There is little space.
The fancy texture of some tags means you can't actually write on them.
Personally, I find it annoying having to credit babies (and my husband) for buying gifts when more often than not I did all the work.
The ink always smudges.
Blah blah blah.
Honest, it's dull.
The important and only essential info you need to write on a tag is who the gift is for.
As long as the gift's recipient is named you can, I think, fill the rest of the tag with anything else you like.
Song lyrics.
And big fat lies.
Let's go back a few days.
It's 25th December.
My adorable Dad is handed a wrapped present.
It is CD shaped and, at 62 he's been around long enough to put 2 and 2 together.
He's seconds away from discovering he has been given Revolver.
Brilliant! What could be better than that?
I know, Daddy-o!
How about a personal message from a Beatle on the tag?
'What would Ringo say?' I thought (as I often do) while I was wrapping the album. Then it came to me:

"Happy Christmas Rod. Peace and Love. Ringo.
PS. Do not send a thank you card."

Embellishing gift tags is, in my family, almost as traditional at Christmas as misery on soap operas.
It started innocently enough.
One birthday my Mum had asked for Pearls by Elkie Brooks on cassette. (You know, for the car.)
As an only child tagging gifts wasn't crucial really: presents on birthday mornings were usually from me or my Dad.
Or my pet rabbit, Chubby.
The vampire bunny, who made sure Dad needed regular tetanus jabs, had gone against form and nipped to Woolies to get Mum her tape.
Bless her little cotton tail.
Since then my nearest and dearest have be on the receiving end of birthday and Christmas gifts from celebrities such as the man from Delmonte, wildlife such as Lassie and many years ago, the milkman.
I mean, Christmas wouldn't be Christmas if my Mum didn't get her annual bundle of premium white dishcloths from David Hasselhoff. I think Dave was off his game a bit this year cos the brand of cloth wasn't up to the usual standard.
Mum, generous and forgiving for tis the season, said "I'm just glad he remembered, I mean, he's such a pisshead."
Happy New Year!

Friday, 11 December 2009


Shouty was sick this evening.
He wasn't feeling especially happy during dinner.
A day of dancing, shouting "goal!" and harassing the dog really takes it toll on the little chap.
I mean, he'd hardly touched his crinkle cut oven chips I'd got out of the freezer for his tea.
And I'd had to take careful aim when I was trying to get the fruit mush down his neck for pudding.
As bedtime approached he was hanging out, as usual, at the bottom of the stairs.
He likes it there.
Sometimes on the last step, sometimes on the hallway floor, always that vicinity. When he manages it, he hangs precariously from the squeaky stairgate that's positioned there to stop him from going upstairs and breaking it.
I suspect this is what he was doing this evening, a bit of innocent gymnastic apparatus work.
Probably a bit ambitious, I doubt he had even warmed up.
But him dangling himself from a loose bit of hinged metal turned out to be the trigger for my bra getting filled up with orange sick.
I was in the kitchen folding washing when there was a muffled thud and clonging radiator noise.
And then Shouty burst in to tears.
Quick as a wink husband and I raced to the scene, noting that Eldest son was hastily fleeing the scene.
Instantly suspicious I immediately accused Eldest of hurting Shouty as I picked him up from the hall floor. I have 18 months experience dealing with front line action between my sons.
It can be rough.
And it can be bitey.
Shouty's ear had suffered some kind of trauma, it was super red and he was rubbing it gently as he screamed.
There were no obvious teeth marks which was a relief but perhaps the ear cartilage isn't all that compliant?
Sensitive to his pain I wrenched Shouty's hand away from his sore ear and felt it, possibly a bit roughly, for spit.
I have no formal forensic training but have developed this technique for detecting bites: if it's a bit damp it might have been chewed.
I had his ear in my hand.
At this stage all I could do was hold the little fella as he writhed in my arms.
Poor poor thing was really hurting and crying hard.
Full on crying sometimes makes him cough a bit and by Jove he started to cough up a storm. Suddenly he sounded like he'd been working down a coal mine for 20 years. And big coughing after food with Shouty generally develops into a tirade of vomit.
He didn't disappoint.
In short bursts up came his dinner.
So much more food than I thought he'd had.
A bit cheesy smelling.
And very warm.
By now I had him clutched against my chest as I sat on the wooden hallway floor.
I decided to keep as still as possible, weather the storm, as they say, try not to move the patient until we know the sicking has ceased.
I thought my zip up hoodie would soak up a lot of the muck and figured a straightforward full costume change in the hall immediately after the incident would be all the clearing up required.
He hadn't eaten enough for a puddle to form on my thighs and then become a stream that dripped on to the floor, had he?
Had he ever.
It kept on coming, running off me, then directly onto and between the floorboards.
That puke is going to live in this house longer than any of us.
The good news is he did stop.
He was on remarkably good form as soon as his stinking clothes had been removed.
It takes more than a puke puddle to get Shouty down!
So, whilst I busied myself with flicking bits of sweetcorn from my arm and slipping out of my still warm clothes, my youngest son got back on the horse.
Or rather, he went back dangling at bottom of the stairs.

Monday, 23 November 2009


I need to set the record straight.
Shouty: He's changed.
I can't say when this change happened exactly, but it has.
It wasn't sudden or immediately obvious.
The best I can say is maybe Septemberish?
But the timing doesn't matter really.
The wonderful news is: my youngest son, Shouty, can be revealed, as little James.
Yes, my angry, grumpy, annoyed youngest son has turned into an utter joy to behold.
He is awesome.
Friends told me it could happen. Some said it would happen. That even the most difficult baby, you know, a proper cry baby, could buck it's ideas up and turn lovely.
My friend's little boy cheered up from his first 10 months of misery to become super smiley. Almost overnight.
My sister in law, one of the loveliest creatures you could ever meet, was a monster when she was small. Biting herself in rage and screaming in supermarkets.
But she's 29. And my youngest is 18 months. The prospect of more than 25 years of him throwing himself on the ground when he can't get his own way has kept me awake at night. (That, and his screaming)
But I needn't have worried. James is dreamy.
In previous blogs I may have briefly mentioned that Shouty has been a bit difficult.
Ok, I know I have laid it on quite thick, about how hard I have found it/him. But, in all seriousness, I have been fairly conservative in my assessment of my latest baby.
Never for a fraction of a second have I not loved him dearly, do anything to protect him, crikey, I'd even eat a live snake if I had to.
But, by jingo, some nights much earlier this year, I wasn't sure I liked him much.
Oooh, that's harsh you think. A mother saying she didn't like her son.
But I really didn't. He was very difficult to like. Having him around was a thankless, joyless task that even he seemed furious about. Occasionally I would catch a glimpse of Shouty when he was content.
This would usually involve biscuit eating.
But then he'd be gone and the snarling infant would be back bearing his teeth and contorting his dribbly face, daring me to try to cuddle him.
Oh my goodness. How far have we come?
James was frustrated.
He couldn't get around or express himself. So he whinged.
In a really whingy loud way.
I won't go over old ground and describe how I struggled with him, (let me count the ways).
It isn't that he is unrecognisable.
He is still fascinatingly headstrong.
Extremely focused.
Not keen on hand holding.
Or getting in a buggy.
Or having his toe nails looked at, let alone touched, heaven forbid cut.
Or walking with the rest of his family.
Or baths.
He is a complicated little character.
And he is happy.
Enthusiastic, affectionate, constantly babbling, chattering with delight to whoever is near as he wanders, with purpose from toy to toy, room to room.
He is cheeky. And this makes him very funny.
He smiles all the time because he laughs all the time.
And he is an excellent dancer. He really does have all the moves.
Well, one move really, a kind of slow side to side knee bend step that somehow captures the essence of whatever he is listening to.
He is a magnificent little man and I actually miss him when he is in bed.
During my darkest moments, in the middle of the night I can clearly remember frequently wondering how other parents cope?
What makes them carry on?
Where were the incentives to keep at it?
As Shouty struggled and screamed in my arms I just didn't get it.
The saying parents churn out time and time again would resound in my head and terrify me:
"I wouldn't change him for the world," they'd insist.
I'd have changed Shouty for a flapjack.
A pretty big one, mind.
I know It is lazy and clich├ęd to describe time spent with your children as a journey.
But, we've been on a journey.
It was bleak for a while, worse even than that 42 hour Greyhound bus trip I did a few years ago.
But now any time with James, and his delicious older brother, is a pleasure. They are enchanting and captivating.
Though I admit it is a shame they are incontinent.