Friday, 29 June 2007

Running around

I woke up this morning with the sudden realisation that The Wedding is in fact tomorrow. No longer is it "that event I'm organising sometime in the future", nor is it "Janey's wedding at the end of the June".

The future is now and it's the end of June.

When did that happen? I'm now, as I type this and crunch on my Crunchy Nut Cornflakes, pondering the things that can go wrong. All has gone well so far - even the rehearsal was hitch free. Darren got Janey's many names in the right order and Janey didn't snigger when she revealed to the rest of the sniggering rehearsal party Darren's middle name.


Today we're decorating the church and finishing off the church hall but first I have to go to pick up the flowers from Pam the Florist and find a cool place large enough. Manuela the Caterer has been brilliant and "won't let" me worry about the food "that's what you are paying me for". How wonderful to find someone who isn't in it just for the money.....I've already recommended her for a forthcoming 18th and a christening.


The photographer will be trailing the wedding party today to take some candid shots. Why do I get the impression that my shots will be more candid than most? I've also got to fit in a visit to the manicurist and hairdresser. David is in deepest darkest Essex attending the funeral of his ex-boss today but will be back later to pick Mac up from nursery. Janey is convinced that's a sign of some sort. She's taken to peering up at the sky of late and wondering if it'll be raining on Saturday. She's got the BBC's weather page on permanent standby on both the internet and Ceefax.


Ivy is already doing her "mother of the bride" sobbing - but more, she confided to me, because she's not only losing a daughter, she's gaining Darren and it'll be just her and Jim from now on.


So, please wish for nicer weather than this and wish us all luck.....but, at the same time, pray we don't need it!

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Rats and Roses

Things are coming along nicely for The Wedding. I can’t believe it’s this Saturday. We managed to sort the flowers out. The problem was in the shape of the bouquet rather than the flowers themselves. Janey didn’t want a “flowing” bouquet of white roses, she wanted a “compact wodge” of white roses “with no green stuff”. Janey was at great pains to point that out to Pam the Florist. Twice. Pam the Florist discreetly decided not to tell Janey that the flowing bouquet of white roses, complete with delicate fronds of foliage was what she agreed a month ago. Instead, with a calmness that I envied (I’d have shouted at the ungrateful minx), Pam merely nodded, sketched a design and awaited the brides approval. “Much better” Janey enthused as she flicked through the list of flowers Pam had in mind for the table decorations.

I breathed a sigh of relief and sipped at my lemon tea. That was Friday morning and I was quite well disposed towards my cousin – pre-wedding nerves and all that. By Saturday afternoon I wanted to disembowel her. The church hall was due to be decorated and a willing army of volunteers had turned up. This was my show and I was determined to run it like a well oiled machine. Janey, Darren and I had already agreed on how the finished result should look. “Classy, discreet and make sure you get rid of the pew polishing rotas from the noticeboard” Janey had said as she headed off for the wedding breakfast rehearsal. Nothing was being left to chance obviously.

Auntie Ivy and Uncle Jim were in charge of sweeping and dusting. Bea was in charge of removing posters etc from the noticeboards any extraneous bits of paper that seem to find their way to church hall walls. Neil, Terry and Dave (team mates of Darren’s) were in charge of putting the chairs and tables out. My husband was currently fielding for the local cricket team in Dulwich but Mac was quite keenly polishing tables for me and telling everyone that “daddy is quite ‘noyed that he won’t be doing cricket next week”. Auntie Daisy was cleaning the kitchen and tutting loudly about the state of the place “little kiddies eat in here you say?” she kept saying as she wafted to and fro with her J-cloth and bleach. I was striding around with my clipboard overseeing things.

All was going well until a whiskered elderly lady appeared at the serving hatch and appeared to be fighting with Daisy. The Whiskered Lady was apoplectic at the fact that we were “desecrating the meeting place of the Church Ladies Committee Room with all of our fripperies”. Neil was, at that time, balanced on a rickety pair of step ladders putting up the “Congratulations Janey and Darren” banner. I had been warned by the vicar that this was Miss Sallinger, a frightful old boot who wasn’t quite the ticket. The vicar had stroked his bushy beard and sighed “Poor old duck – she’s convinced that the Church Ladies still meet. She’s the last of them poor soul, won’t have it that Church Committees are a thing of the past”. She certainly seemed cross. Explanations were futile, even Bea and her legendary tact and compassion failed to come up trumps. “I shall away to find the vicar!” Miss Sallinger stormed as she flounced out of the church hall wafting Tweed and cat pee.

On Sunday morning we headed over to Janey’s new house. They got the keys last week and are gradually moving in, bit by bit. Auntie Ivy had, since Janey and Darren announced their engagement, been collecting various things for Janey’s “bottom drawer”. We moved most of it in this weekend – more lace and silverware than you could shake a stick at. A piercing scream and a loud sickening thud halted us all in our tracks midway through the procession of items moving into the house. Janey was standing over the squashed remains of a rather large rodent with her IKEA wok bent out of shape.

Malcolm the Rat Catcher was summoned to the house and instructed to “find any more of the b*st*rds and kill ‘em”. Malcolm arrived half an hour later via the Yellow Pages and was so mesmerised by Janey’s heaving and not inconsiderable bosom he forgot to charge his call-out fee. No more rats were found but traps were baited and set – Malcolm will return in a fortnight. The happy couple will be on their honeymoon so Yours Truly has been entrusted with the keys.

“Talking of the front door” Janey mused (we weren’t) as she rearranged her spice rack - oregano, sage and black pepper - “I don’t like that colour – I’m going to repaint it now”. And off she went, before ringing David (who has become an authority on local government apparently) to see if she needs “planning permission to paint my front door purpley blue?” Without waiting for an answer, she shot off to B&Q leaving Ivy, Darren and Darren’s mate Neil unrolling rugs and plumping up cushions.

An hour later, there I was with my paintbrush in hand re-painting the front door. Janey was sitting in her sparkling new lounge, feet on a leather pouf, drinking Pimms out of a can and watching the Eastenders omnibus. Something was obviously wrong here but apparently she was “traumatised” by finding the rat and needed “a rest”. The poor rat wasn’t so much traumatised as squashed and was resting for all eternity. I won’t share with you the many jokes about rats and takeway meals – nor will I tell you what I said to David when he rang to suggest I pick up a Chinese on my way home.

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Catch-up 5 of 5: Home Front

David was glum and a bit down when we finally got to bed on the Sunday night – he thinks he’s a failure on the home front - "the dogs ignore me and Mac keeps holding you up as a paragon of virtue."

You don’t technically get jetlag from Ibiza but I was suffering slightly from plane stress and was tired anyway but I propped open my eyes, stifled my yawns and encouraged him to talk it through.

His feelings of inadequacy came about partly because the dogs have always had a blatant general disregard for David’s authority in this house. On Thursday they were extremely confused, he said, when I was nowhere to be seen (having left the house at 4am that morning) when it was time to collect Mac from nursery. Junior Dog had set up camp by the front door waiting for me and Senior Dog had purloined an old scarf of mine and had his head on it in his basket as if I’d been gone for a week. They cheered up when David mentioned “park”. They usually see David as the person who throws them the occasional ball in the garden, offers them the occasional pat and shouts at them for getting in the way of the TV, usually as a crucial goal is being scored/run being made so, he said, there were some suspicious looks being exchanged between the three hounds. He was watching them in the rear view mirror as they drove to Dulwich Park.

Despite my list of instructions (almost as thick as the Order of Service for The Wedding), David decided to let all three off the lead at the same time. This was his second mistake. His first was taking them to the park in the first place. Mac just stood there in horror at what he’d done. “Mummy never does that!” he said, hands on hips. David now appeared mortified at this especially as phrases similar to that one kept coming out of Mac’s mouth all weekend, “mummy will be cross” being the favourite.

There are strict rules to walking all three of the dogs at once. First, Senior Dog has some time off the lead while the other two trot alongside me quite happy in the knowledge that their time will come. Once Senior Dog starts lagging behind a bit, he goes on the lead as Middle Dog comes off it. Middle Dog has a mad moment and when his tongue reaches the floor, Junior Dog is released into the green wilderness. Then myself and SD and MD have a sit down on a bench to get our breath back whilst JD charges around like a lunatic. David knew all of this, it was in the list of instructions.

David said all three were initially stunned at all being off the lead at the same time. And then all three ran off. In different directions. At this point in the tale, David covered his face with his hands. “Mac had to get them back. My three year old son.” he whispered into the pillow SD had a face full of pollen from nuzzling the flowers, MD had disturbed a courting couple in the rhododendrons and JD had gone for a swim in the lake. There was, said David, a distinct frostiness in the car on the way home.

Pizza Hut was a moderate success, David reported. Mac rarely gets the chance to indulge in fast food so when he does he makes it an experience. “£2.50 for a bowl of salad!” David reported. Mac had a Super Supreme Italian crust pizza with added mushrooms and then built an amazing tower of icecream decorated with smarties and jellie tots and sprinkles. David said that half way through he went green but refused to stop eating it. Popcorn was off the menu that evening, as was David’s choice of DVD. He wanted The Sopranos, Mac wanted Over the Hedge. Mac won – “I’m not sure that mummy would approve” he said loftily, chucking The Sopranos to one side and settling down for some animated fun, disturbed only by a phone call from David’s cousin who wondered if, having been left to their own devices, he and Mac fancied visiting them at their mobile home in Brighton on Sunday.

Saturday was better apparently – David read through the paper on a hillock whilst Mac was in the saddle and then both of my boys went off to play golf in the afternoon “just the nine holes and I got a buggy”. All three dogs, despite having a “comfort break” visit between riding and golf, were rebelling at a) being abandoned by their pack leader (me) and b) being abandoned by the guy who “lost” them in the park and so, when the sports junkies returned, the house was a tip. Junior Dog had obviously gone off on one of his slalom runs, usually halted by my good self with an “Oi!” at a pre-arranged decibel level. Either Senior or Middle Dog had decided that I was never going to get those boots re-heeled so they might as well be chewed and Middle Dog had clearly been lying all over the sofa, chairs and beds.

By the time they’d cleared all the mess up, with Mac repeating “Mummy will be cross” over and over again, it was time for Casualty and some dinner. Into the oven went a chicken that would be ready at ten to ten. By quarter past, they were sitting down to roast chicken, potatoes and broccoli. Mac fell asleep in his plate and had to be carried, gravy spattered with broccoli in his hair, up to bed.

Sunday, the day of rest. Whilst I was sitting poolside in Ibiza eating pineapple, David, Mac and all three dogs were beetling along the A23 to Brighton and Cousin Ian’s mobile home. It was amazing, David said, two miles from the beach and the site had a pool, shop, launderette, kids play park (that explains Mac’s grazed knees) and onsite entertainment for the children. It was, David added, a bit forced to be honest. Smiling camp entertainers wandering round trying to entice the kiddiwinks to go off for musical statues or bowling in the ballroom. Most of the kiddiwinks (very depressing to see such knowledgeable nine year olds David said) told the poor man to eff off. Mac was quite keen to stay with his dad but Ian’s six year old daughter went off with nary a word – the dogs were also quite keen to go but David kept them all on a short lead, literally. Mac was sick on the way home, as was Senior Dog who had been scoffing grass at an alarming rate. Mopping up vomit whilst other drivers sped past him, David was counting the hours until my return.

Apart from all that, the washing machine is “awkward and hard to fathom”, the tumble drier “has a mind of its own” and don’t get him started on the oven. “How was I to know the grill would go out if I shut the door to it?” – he found this out when he got the bacon out to go in his sandwich, it was practically still oinking.

After I reassured him (twice) that he wasn’t a failure and that I, Mac and the dogs appreciated his efforts over the weekend he seemed a bit happier. True, Mac had dragged his sleepy body down the stairs for a cuddle, the dogs had woofed the entire Avenue awake but David was first in line for a welcome home hug. The reins have well and truly been handed back to me. And, a week later, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Catch-up 4 of 5: Sunday Sunday

Please forgive my tardiness in updating you all fully - I've been off gathering more inspirations for posts (and splinters for knees, paint smears for face and the number of a really rather good rat-catcher). So, back to Ibiza......

Sunday morning and all was well. You’d never know that anything untoward had gone on the night before – the only visible sign was the stained tiles around the pool – Boots Number Seven Concealer is a bugger to get out of tessellated tiles.

Maria, Lisa, Serena and Lizzie were to be the first to leave us, half dry clothes were being stuffed into suitcases and Serena had thrown all of her Slim Fasts away having spent the past three days eating everything in sight. Mind you, I can talk – my tankini is bulging slightly more than it was on Friday. The girls bade us all a fond farewell, screeching “See ya on the Firtief!” as they headed off down the drive way, Maria and Lisa arguing over the quickest way to the airport.

Melissa , Jackie and Luce were next to leave us at just gone eleven. Melissa and Luce were on speaking terms again and had vowed not to tell “their other halves about what went on”. Charlie reeled at this bit of information “They’ve got boyfriends?” she said as we watched them load the car. “Yeah, course” Janey said, looking at Charlie as if she was a bit simple. “Mel’s been married for two years and Luce is living with an estate agent.” Ivy went into a flurry of “disgustings” and Lou just reeled through the list of telephone numbers she had accumulated over the weekend. Toria was distraught. “Ay’ve been so good this holiday, ay’ll have nothing to tell may Ben!”. Janey patted her on the shoulder as we waved the car off. “Tell him you pulled anyway, he won’t know you hadn’t.” Janey caught sight of my open mouth “Ben likes to hear about Toria snogging other guys” she explained.

To halt any further discussion of this nature I suggested we have a light lunch and sit poolside. We had just under two hours before we were due to leave. Auntie Ivy suddenly remembered that she was neurotic. “Oughtn’t we to leave now? In case we get caught up in traffic or something?”

By that time we were stuck into the feta cheese and ignoring her. She spent ten minutes walking around the pool wringing her hands and voicing her concerns about “road accidents, road works, delays in checking in”. In the end we locked up and left, arriving at the airport at 1pm for our 1605 flight. There’s only so much shopping you can do at an airport but I did buy a nice silk tie for David. We had a coffee, a smoothie, a Danish and then a rather suspect burger. Our flight was due to leave on time, we were expecting no delays and all was well. We checked in smoothly and no-one queried my passport photo as they did in England. I was even beginning to feel quite relaxed. Until we got onto the plane.

Bea was revving up for only the second economy flight of her life and had again elected to sit next to me. This time we were overlooking the wing and I jokingly commented on the conversation we’d had the previous week. “Why? Why do I need to keep an eye on the wing? What’s wrong with it?” she squawked, peering out of the window. A lady with a baby well wrapped up in a white waffle blanket settled down into the seat across the aisle as I attempted to soothe my sister. “Well, you mentioned it!” she hissed. “What’s that burning smell?” she continued. The elderly couple in front of us inhaled sharply. “Nothing!” I snapped “We’re near the galley, you can probably smell the coffee percolating”. Bea was not convinced “Pah! That coffee’s instant or I’m a Dutchman” she snapped back.

Our late night was catching up with us, we were settling down for a nice bicker. Charlie and Sue were sitting behind us and giggling at our exchange. A dark haired stewardess approached the woman the baby and asked to see her ticket. The woman fumbled with the obviously sleeping well wrapped baby and bag and produced it. “Can you confirm your name please madam?” The woman did so – a very pretty Greek sounding name. The Dark Haired Stewardess allowed only a brief flicker of concern to flit across her face. “Madam, I’m afraid you’re on the wrong flight” she said, smiling broadly, already trying to help the woman to her feet. The blotchy faced stewardess who checked us onto the plane was approaching at a vast rate of knots, a worried look on her face. Bea’s own face was a picture. The woman with the baby insisted that she was on the right flight and grabbed rather possessively at the arm rests. “Holy Mother of God!” Bea intoned, grabbing a passing stewardess “Is that baby a bomb?”

The elderly couple in front of us inhaled sharply again and a scared looking woman clutched the hand of the man next to her and started squeaking. “Answer me or I’ll….I’ll…..” Bea said wildly, trying to stand up but forgetting she had her seat belt on. Across the plane I could see both Janey and Toria with their mouths open. As if to confirm its identity, the baby startled grizzling and the woman gave Bea a filthy look. “Madam, please sit down” Blotchy Face (now a nice shade of purple) hissed at Bea. I fixed her with a look and she huffed to a halt. The two stewardesses had a brief discussion and it turned out that Woman With Baby was indeed on the wrong flight and that Blotchy Face had made a cock-up in actually letting her on the plane in the first place. “Madam, if you do not leave this plane of your own volition, I will call security” Dark Haired Stewardess was brooking no argument. “Oh my God, we’ll be on the news! May the Saints keep and preserve us!” Bea wailed, slumping backwards in her seat. Murderous looks were being shot in our direction from the other passengers. Woman with Baby insisted that she was on the correct flight and said that when the plane landed in Athens she would tell her husband “of how you are of the treating me.”

The entire plane was watching this scenario, Bea a shivering mess beside me. One look at her face and I could see what was going through her mind: bomb, explosion, in-flight hijack, an emergency exit over the sea and she’d get her hair wet, again. Almost as one, the passengers chorused “We’re going to Stansted!”. Blotchy Face confirmed this with Woman With Baby who was beginning to see the penny dropping. Dark Haired Stewardess was on the phone in the galley requesting security. Security arrived, impressively only minutes later, and escorted Woman With Baby off of the plane and hopefully onto the correct Athen’s bound plane.

We were all agog by now. How on earth had this woman got through check in and boarding and actually boarded the plane all with the wrong details. The crew could see that we were all building up to a right old rumpus and came round early with the duty free list. Bea was so distracted she didn’t even look at the pamphlet.

Take-off was quick and painless but Bea was mouthing what appeared to be The Rosary. Once she had finished rediscovering her Catholic faith she kept insisting she was going to be sick – we hit a bit of turbulence half way through and a strange noise emanated from her: half yell, half moo. She started on The Rosary again – well, it passed the time.

I must admit to feeling a bit wobbly legged when we finally landed and got off the plane. Blotchy Face had obviously received a rollicking for the security breach (quite scary when you think about it, say Bea had been right and that baby was a bomb?) and was sulkily asking us to fly with her again. “Not bloody likely” Bea stage whispered as she shot down the stairs. Ivy, Lou, Janey, Charlie, Toria, Sue and I congregated at the foot of the stairs so we could go back to the terminal together. Bea was nowhere to be found. “She’s gone to deck that stewardess” Sue reckoned. We found her, seconds later.

She was on her knees, sealing her return to the Catholic faith by kissing the tarmac.

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Busy busy busy......

Sorry........I haven't gone up in smoke (or back to Ibiza - heaven forbid) but have been really busy with the last few things for The Wedding but normal service will be resumed (especially with the catchups) after this weekend - we're decorating the church hall after it's been used for Cubs on Saturday afternoon, having a run through of the wedding breakfast (!) and helping the Happy Couple move stuff into their new home. Janey hasn't just got me as a Wedding Planner, she's got me as a Removals Person too!

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Catch up 3 of 5: Saturday and All Hell Breaks Loose

Bea and I went into town on Saturday leaving the revellers to come out of their alcoholic stupors in their own time. We got back a couple of hours later with lots of presents to find World War Three had broken out at the villa in our absence. Charlie was sitting on the front steps with Serena and a jug of sangria. She grimaced at us – and I don’t think she was passing judgement on the straw donkey I’d bought for Saskia as a joke.

The catfight to end all catfights was going on poolside. Melissa and Luce were bellowing at each other and the rest were taking sides. Janey was refereeing from the pool but in a very biased way. As Bea and I approached she was telling Luce that she “was a total tart” and that she had always known that “you fancy my Darren”. Clearly the row was still rumbling on.

The Bimbola’s (clearly split into two groups, Team Luce and Team Melissa) spent the rest of the day ignoring each other. Maria and Lizzie (staunch members of Team Luce) kept shooting Toria, Serena and Janey (Team Melissa) filthy looks as all five splashed about in the pool. “If they start drowning each other, I’m leaving” Auntie Ivy piped up, somewhat irrationally, from her sun lounger. I read my book and kept my head down throughout the torturous afternoon.

Team Luce headed out at just gone six in the evening – they were off to find “somewhere to eat that we don’t have to look at, like, total and utter losers”. Team Melissa jointly ignored this comment (but I did see Toria gesture rudely in their direction as they swept past us all dressed to slay in all manner of lycra and glitter). Team Melissa planned to get “wrecked by the pool” and drew out many bottles of wine from their hiding places and stayed in their bikinis. Bea was worried that there should be “a sensible person around to monitor the alcohol levels” but was reluctant to be left behind by myself, Charlie Sue, Ivy and Lou as we headed out for dinner at a surprisingly nice restaurant that Sue had found earlier this morning.

The waiters were a little greasy but thankfully the food wasn’t – a good evening was had by all and we didn’t, as Lou predicted, meet any of Team Luce. Well, not until much later anyway. Bea was drinking straight orange juice but, unbeknownst to the rest of the table at the time, Lou was adding vodka to her glass. That woman’s sleigh of hand was amazing. After dinner we went for a walk – the worst of the clubs excesses were clearly still inside their respective venues. We encountered a group of men who were taking it in turns to throw up whilst the others cheered the vomiter on.

As we passed a tattoo parlour (the place was jam packed, obviously the optimum time to have a tattoo in Ibiza is quarter to ten at night) we encountered Lisa perusing the display boards outside and asking Luce, Jackie, Maria and Lizzie if she should have “a Tazmanian Devil or like a normal devil?”. Unfortunately, they spotted us and screeched and catcalled until we approached them, hissing like the old fuddy duddies we’re rapidly becoming. Lou thought it was a good idea to have another tattoo to add to her collection (heart on her hip, rose on her thigh, cupid on her left shoulder and Chinese symbol for “peace” on her wrist) and joined the queue. This was the first sign that Bea wasn’t herself. She suggested that we go over to the bar opposite and wait for Lou. Bea views all tattoo parlours as the “work of Satan”. I still haven’t told her about my own body art. Ivy seemed to be entranced by the tattooist (heavily bearded and covered in tattoos – natch) and stayed with Lou.

We returned to the villa with Bea clutching her stomach and wondering what she’d eaten to make her feel so ill, Sue eating a portion of chips and Lou clutching her right shoulder and moaning about the “agony” she was in. Charlie kept complaining that she couldn’t see which was worrying as she was driving at the time. Team Melissa were all plastered poolside and emptying the contents of Team Luce’s suitcases into the pool. Bottles of Clinique concealer floated alongside flip flops and thongs – one thong had got into the pool filter and it was making a gurgling swishing noise. A mess of make up sat in poolside puddles, Mac eyeshadows mixing with Boots Number seven foundation.

Sensibly, we retired to our rooms and waited for the thunderbolt to hit. We didn’t have to wait long – giggles and swearing heralded the arrival of Team Luce about half an hour later.

And then the thunderbolt hit. Within seconds it was like the villa had been besieged by a herd of elephants. The Team Melissa bedrooms were now being raided by Team Luce in retaliation. “Not my bikini – it can’t get wet!” Janey was screeching. Luce and Melissa were shouting at each other and, all around us, lights in other villas were flicking on and – no doubt – many a tanned hand was reaching for the telephone to call the fuzz. Bea took matters into her own delicately bronzed hands and stormed outside. “Stop this nonsense NOW!” she bellowed, a vision in shimmering negligee and fluffy kitten heels. Lizzie finished upending Melissa’s suitcase into the pool before throwing it in afterwards – Bea was hit by the resulting tidal wave and was drenched. Chlorinated water dripped off her pony-tailed Titian locks and trickled down her negligee covered form.

Silence truly is golden. But then the laughing started, hysterical giggles emanated from the darkened patio. Serena was clutching her stomach and bellowing with laughter. Melissa was choking with laughter. Janey was bent double over an upturned sun lounger. Luce was trying to rescue her thong from the pool filter but couldn’t for laughing so much. Toria sounds even more like a duck when she’s laughing.

And then the police arrived. A very nice moustachioed man and a not so nice moustachioed woman stood sternly at the side entrance to the patio, taking in the scene before them. “And what is a-happining a-here?” Woman Officer said, fingering her utility belt.

Bea stepped forward and immediately Man Officer was transfixed – in her haste to explain the situation she had forgotten that her shimmering negligee was now see-through and clinging. I rescued my sisters modesty with a towel with “Miami” emblazoned across it in neon yellow. A private party that got out of hand, Bea assured smoothly as she led the officers into the villa.

Bea managed to sweet talk the police officers into not arresting everyone in sight and was organising the clean up, nice Man Officer was even rearranging the patio furniture whilst Maria simpered her thanks. “Thank you officers” the girls chorused as we watched them get into their vehicle, lights flashing ominously.

Calm and serenity had been restored. For the time being.

Monday, 18 June 2007

Catch-up 2 of 5: Friday, Sun, Sea, Sand and Shouting

The entire villa was littered with tiny skirts, teeny pants and practically non-existent bras for the entire weekend. I fell over a pile of shoes when I rose at half past nine to find Bea and Charlie swimming lengths in the pool and Sue stretched out on a sun lounger. The rest of the villa were asleep, I’m not sure what time everyone else got back but there was lots of laughing and giggling and falling over. I could hear Toria chattering away – she sounds like a duck at a distance. Bea, sensible lady that she is, did a head count at half past 8 when she got up. “They’re all back anyway” she said, having fully recovered from her foaming of the previous night. We breakfasted on fresh fruit and cereal and we all ended up in hysterics over Bea’s Bad Experience. “I wish I had my camera!” Charlie spluttered.

By 10.30, we four were set for the beach and set off to tell the rest of our happy gang. Luce, Maria and Lizzie were still slumped in bed and barely raised a groan. Janey and Ivy were having a Mother and Daughter row about “loose morals” and barely heard us. We headed off beachwards and had a lovely day. It was glorious and I’ve got quite a colour on top of my fake one. I also did what I said I wouldn’t do and rang David – he and Mac were fine he said and all three dogs demolished their dinner and had a fight over a rawhide bone last night so weren’t pining. I wasn’t sure if I felt miffed at that or not.

We got back to the villa at about six – there was much evidence that food had been consumed and the place was empty apart from Melissa and Luce. Melissa was poolside wearing a bikini and a sour expression, Luce was the other side of the villa in the gardens on the exercise bike outside my bedroom window. The atmosphere was palpable. I tentatively asked Luce if all was okay. She huffed something and pedalled faster. Charlie had already asked Melissa that question when I joined them by the pool. Melissa was in full flow and Bea’s eyebrows where near her hairline. Apparently, the youth (Derek from Lincoln) that Luce was, erm, performing with the previous evening had already been earmarked by Melissa as “hers”. “It was all agreed while we were in the loos, I’d have Derek, she’d have his mate Paul” Melissa yelled, obviously hoping that Luce would hear her.

Luce, being a “like, total slapper” conveniently forgot about this in the heat of the moment on the dance floor, stripped off and – egged on by a bunch of lads and lasses from Croydon – “got it on and stuff” leaving Melissa with “Dorky Paul who kept trying to stick his tongue down my throat”. The two women had been at loggerheads ever since. Everyone else was out at the beach and had therefore missed the pyrotechnic row. “She went mental!” Luce whined, stroking her hair. Despite the arguments, they had both managed to make a dent in the newly restocked fridge. The maid was on the premises, tutting at the amount of wet towels in every bathroom. Charlie introduced herself as Jonathan’s girlfriend and the maid merely sniffed “you all everyone say that” she muttered as she shoved a pineapple in the fruit bowl.

Gradually, the rest of the party came filtering back. Lou, Ivy and Serena had spent the day wandering round the town and came back loaded with souvenirs and huge packets of crisps and pretzels – the rest had been at the beach, Lisa with no sun protection by the look of her. She was red raw and hobbling. “Silly mare fell asleep!” Janey sniggered as she flopped into the pool. “Quick change and then out again girls, yeah?” she said as she surfaced. The Sensible Ones (me, Bea, Charlie, Ivy and Sue) declined graciously. “Oh come on babes” Jackie pouted as she stripped down to a diaphanous bikini. “We’re going back to that club with the foam tonight”.

Even more reason not to go then.

Melissa and Luce were still not speaking but they were doing an awful lot of shouting at each other. Sides were being taken too. Serena, Toria and Janey were on Melissa’s side while Lizzie, Lisa and Maria were siding with Luce. The two women stood at either end of the kitchen table screeching at each other, hands on hips, expletives spilling out of cherry red lips, bosoms heaving. Lou was egging them on, cackling like a loon, especially when the tattooed Derek arrived with Dorky Paul. Luce immediately went from fishwife to seductress……until Melissa shoved her unceremoniously into the pool. Melissa, Janey and Toria then sped off in a car, their brake lights bobbing down the drive way angrily. Serena was left behind because she wasn’t quick enough across the terrace, having stopped off on the way to pick up a big bag of crisps.

Once the Bimbola’s and Lou had left, The Sensible Ones (including Serena) had a lovely evening – we had a gorgeous paella cooked by Sue and some lovely wine from the racks in the utility room. Auntie Ivy got drunker than I’ve ever seen her and started telling us how much she loved Uncle Jim before going off to ring him to tell him just that. After three attempts to dial - “Ere, what’s the code for England?” - she reached him but he was on his way out to the pub and so couldn’t talk. Everyone then drifted off to their respective bedrooms, apart from Serena who headed for the fridge, and I who headed for one of the palatial bathrooms and a lovely long, hot, sweet smelling bath. Bliss.

Now this is what I call a holiday!

Catch up 1 of 5: Thursday – Stansted, Ibiza and Boogying

We arrived at the airport at some Godforsaken hour by train – I shan’t describe the journey except for the bit where we sat sitting outside a station for 15 minutes and Auntie Ivy fought mounting panic that we’d actually miss our flight. She had bitten through her nails and was about to start on Janey’s when we started moving. We checked in with nary a problem and even managed a civilised coffee whilst we waited to board. Bea had insisted that we sit together on the plane and stuck to me like a limpet throughout check-in and boarding. At the last moment, it looked as if the stewardess was going to herd her (yes, we were treated a little like cattle) into the next bank of seats but Bea stood firm, caused a pile up behind us and made her disapproval known to the entire plane. The stewardess looked very sullen after this but, as Bea pointed out “so would I be if I had to wear that dreadful uniform. That awful colour and it’s man made – you can hear the electricity crackling from here”. Despite her previous misgivings, the captain “flew beautifully”. She kept asking the harassed flight attendants if she could be “presented to him”.

Auntie Ivy ended up sitting next to Lou who was dressed in her usual denim and who, despite the time (7.24am) kept asking why she couldn’t order a pizza. Janey and Toria (stick thin brunette that looks as if she’s never eaten anything with a fat content) sat together in front of us and Charlie and Sue ended up sitting further down the plane overlooking a wing. Sue is an Amazon – she’s six foot two in her bare feet and carried both hers and Charlie’s mammoth case to the check-in desk without breaking into a sweat.

The flight was fairly uneventful although I don’t know how I’m going to cope with Toria’s voice. It’s very clipped, very nasal, very posh and incredibly fake. She was all “and Ay said to him, Ay shall meet you outsaide”. Mind you, it’s made Janey pick up her aitches and she hasn’t said “f***” since we all met up in the coffee bar.

Lou and Ivy were at each others throats even before set foot on Spanish soil and Bea had to repeatedly ask them to shush as she tried make the hire car lady understand that she didn’t want to drive a SEAT. Bea decided to drive me, Charlie and Sue with Toria driving Janey (“I’m not doing anything manual, it’s my special weekend”), Ivy and Lou. We could have waited at the airport for Melissa, Jackie and Lucy who were getting the flight after ours but Charlie was keen to see the villa and bags the best room. “I’m sharing with you” both Charlie and Bea said simultaneously as they looked at me. Maria, Lisa, Serena and Lizzie were due to arrive on the 14.06 flight and “could sort themselves out”.

The villa was beautiful – absolutely beautiful. And the views! We were perched, yet somehow nestled! Bea and I shared a twin and Charlie had the single which was opposite ours. She was determined to move her bed into our room however. Oh, and there was a laptop and a surfeit of floppy disks. Charlie complained that she couldn’t get to sleep because of the tapping of the keyboard as I recorded our adventures for posterity and my blog.

By the time the next arrivals joined us, we were more or less settled and were having an early lunch. The maid had left us an exotic salad, six cooked chickens, a whole side of ham and enough eggs to bind up the whole of Ibiza. Charlie was preening as everyone commented on how handsome Rich Boyfriend Jonathan was – we knew this because of the rather narcissistic portrait of him above the shell filled fireplace in the main living room.

“Vereeeee nice!” winked Melissa as she gawped unashamedly. Melissa has stick thin arms (I must admit to feeling quite happy that Sue was with us, I felt quite svelte compared to her) and no chin. She’s happily Sarf London and told us five times in the first few hours that she’s “an actress”. “Would we have seen you in anything?” Bea enquired from her lofty position overlooking the pool (Bea was in her bikini and covered in Ambre Solaire ten minutes after arriving). Melissa struck a pose. “I’ve done three crowd scenes in The Bill and an advert for yoghurt – I played a bacteria”. Jackie has a Jordan-esque chest and is not averse to showing it off – she’s also got poker straight white blonde hair and calls everyone “babes”. Lucy likes to be known as Luce (we found out why later) and is the colour of Donatella Versace. She is also surgically enhanced but more in the lip area.

By the time Maria, Lisa, Serena and Lizzie arrived we were all poolside. My tankini (and weekend pampering) didn’t make me look too shabby and I felt I gave a good impression of myself amongst all the bikinis. Maria is mixed race and absolutely hauntingly beautiful – high cheekbones, slanting eyes and graceful movements. Lisa is a poorly maintained bottle blonde with five inch talons and, according to Janey, “is only here cos it’s her brother that’s doing the disco”. She also has a habit of swearing unnecessarily – Bea has already asked her if she has Tourettes. She replied “nah, but we can get some in town if you want some?” Serena is obviously (and I mean this in a nice way because, let’s face it, I’m hardly Kate Moss) the “fat friend”. She’s Rubenesque, as Charlie put it, but is constantly on a diet. Her suitcase is full of Slim-Fast. Lizzie is fatuous, vacuous and I’d use the word “airhead” if it wasn’t unfair to airheads.

We went “clubbing” in the evening. Dear God and all His Angels. What an experience. I was on Virgin Pina Coladas all night, much to the disgust of the Bimbola’s (as Charlie and I had collectively named Janey and her friends).

The noise. The lights. They weren’t night clubs, they were the stuff that nightmares are made of. We did the round of five clubs in the space of about 6 hours, Auntie Ivy trailing around after us tutting about the scantily clad women, wanton behaviour and vomit. I think it was in club number two (the actual names have escaped me) where we found a couple having frantic sex over the handbasins in the ladies loos. Ivy was most disgusted - “the soap dispenser was empty” she huffed as she joined us at the bar.

Club number one was quite sedate to be honest – Janey was starting us off gently. Bea found an “acceptable” wine and Lou disappeared to peruse “the talent”. “Isn’t she married?” Charlie asked in horror. Janey wrinkled her nose “Yeah but they’ve got….what’s the word……an open marriage apparently. Darren does his nut, he says he’s never sure who’s gonna come out the bathroom of a morning”

In club number two, as well as the couple having sex, they had scantily clad young things gyrating and thrusting in cages suspended above the dance floor. We steered clear, just in case one of the cages plummeted earthwards. Club number four found the remainder of the group (we’d lost Lou, Melissa, Luce, Maria and Jackie at some stage) sitting at a table that flashed. Bea and Ivy were open mouthed with distaste at the goings on – one young lady wearing nothing but bikini bottoms was simulating something that should only be done in private with a grinning lad covered in tattoos. Janey appraised the scene before her “I’ve seen better” she sniffed. It wasn’t until we were leaving that we discovered the young lady last seen pleasuring the tattooed youth was in fact Luce. Luce indeed.

Club number five was by far the worst however. Bea had drunk enough wine to be fairly mellow and they were playing tunes that we knew (by that I mean it wasn’t just noise. Can you hear me mother?) and so we hit the dance floor, me, Bea, Charlie and Sue. There we were, giving our all to Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean”, when a heavily muscled gentleman appeared at the side of the dance floor holding a huge hose pipe. I saw it first and naively thought he was going to spray some dry ice, to fully take us back to the 80s.

Then the foam hit. Oodles of the stuff, a great big jet of it hit Bea who unfortunately had her mouth open at the time. Her expletives were drowned out in a sea of foam as whooping lads and lasses joined us on the dance floor for a foam fight. I grabbed Bea by the hand and dragged her off to find a cab. She looked like she’d been in a car wash.

And the cab driver told her off, in extremely broken English, for “wetting up the seat huh?”.

Sunday, 17 June 2007

Straw Donkeys, Castanets and Awful Ornaments

I'm back! Browner than I was when I went (also a bit pink across the shoulder area due to a sudden Ambre Solaire drought this morning when no-one would buy any more as "there's no point, the flight's in five hours), weighed down with cheesy souvenirs that I wouldn't have bought ordinarily but Mac wanted something "spanish", David wanted some castanets and the ornament (similar to pictured) will look lovely on The Stewarts' mantelpiece and an overwhelming sense of relief that a) Bea didn't do as she threatened on the plane on the way home, b) that Size Zero hell wasn't as bad as I thought thanks to two of my travelling companions and c) that it's all over!

I returned to kisses from David, sleeping hugs from Mac and excited woofing from the dogs. I made it! I survived! Phew!

So.....what have I missed?

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Last Minute Dot Com

I won’t be posting for a couple of days - I’m off to Ibiza for Janey’s Hen Weekend at some Godforsaken hour in the morning but I’ve packed a notebook and many pens and will take notes so that I can recreate the blissful/horrific *delete as appropriate moments for you all to enjoy/laugh at on my return.

Bea has packed several “darling little shift dresses for the evening and a rather stunning bikini”. Charlie has had all of her superfluous hair waxed off of her body and is staying overnight with us. Lou came out of her rehab top-up today and attended a group therapy session entitled “How to Cope in A Crowd”. Janey has issued instructions to Darren and his housemates about “having no parties while I’m away mate or the wedding’s off”. Auntie Ivy has bought an Ibiza travel guide and keeps ringing me and Janey up with little titbits of information that she thinks we’ll find interesting. Sue had a mishapwith the fake tan and is bathing in lemon juice to try and tone the orange tint down.

I didn’t watch the recent programme entitled “Terror in the Skies” by the way. Foolishly, Charlie did. She’s taking miniature bottles of vodka to swig at the boarding gate.

Passport, money and emailed flight confirmation? Check.

Faint sense that I’m abandoning my husband, child and dogs? Check.

Sweets for journey - mints for car journeys, boiled sweets for take off and landing? Check.

Notebook for jotting down blog entries? Check.

Books for burying head into when it all becomes too much? Check.

Suntan cream and aftersun? Check.

Slight fear of plane actually crashing. Check.

Slight fear of Bea becoming hysterical when surrounded by “people who frequent budget airlines darling”. Check.

Above fear mounting alarmingly? Check.

Fears that I’m about to enter a Size Zero hell and spend all day stuffing my face to compensate? Check.

Knowledge that if Janey says just one more time “Ooh, it’s gonna be like Big Brother innit?” I shall hit her. Check.

Camera? Check.

Oh, and suitcase! Check!

Toodle pip my lovely friends!

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Emergency Exit

Bea rang this morning in a panic - she was struggling to remember the Emergency Lecture from her flight to Mauritius (over the Christmas holiday). When I asked her why, she said "Because darling, I'm pretty sure that they don't do that on budget flights". She whispered the word "budget" just in case Mr and Mrs Winyard next door (their daughter is a high flying barrister, their son something "big" in the City and their 4 year old granddaughter with a reading age of 9) overheard her. Those neighbours who have asked her where she's going on her mini-break have been fed a tissue of lies. "How can I tell the Winyards and the Morris-Whytes and the Anderson's that I'm going to Ibiza?" she demanded. According to her neighbours, she's merely going to Spain, the actual destination hasn't been mentioned. "If I mention culture and exhibitions, they'll think I've been to Madrid."

I did think, rather uncharitably, that she was ringing to somehow get out of the sure-to-be disastrous four day trip. The moment I heard her plummy vowel sounds I had visions of out-of-action-Exotic-Au-Pairs or Stephen with his leg in plaster and incapable of looking after himself. But she proved me wrong. As she always seems to.

She was also concerned "a smidgeon" that the captain won't be actually qualified to fly the plane. "I'm not saying that they use inexperienced flight crew but I can't imagine them having somebody called Captain Rodger Fortescue - more like Captain Derek Smith" she said haughtily. Rodger Fortescue was the captain who flew her back from Mauritius, "such a steady hand". I assured her that all of the flight crew were qualified and experienced in flying. And hoped for the best. She was silent but I could feel the "you just wait and see, you know I'm right" vibes over the telephone line. "Listen to yourself!" I said, unable to hold back my sniggers any more "Next thing, you'll be wanting to sit near the wing so you can keep an eye on it for the captain!"

Shouldn't have said that. She thought that was a good idea.

Sunday, 10 June 2007

Brazil!

Well, I'm primped, preened, pampered, tanned and packed with little to do until Thursday but panic about what lies in wait for me in Ibiza. Mac is still making me my "happy holiday" card and David bought a kite yesterday - "we could fly it on Blackheath! We'll take the dogs too." So I'm also worrying that a) there won't be any wind or b) there's wind and both David and Mac will be so engrossed in kite flying that all three dogs will rampage across the Heath and end up in Greenwich. Or worse, under a car. As you can see, my relaxing afternoon was a waste of time.

It was a lovely afternoon though. While out riding (didn't manage to get Blue this time, I got Reuben who was lovely but wasn't as gentlemanly as my beloved Blue who was ambling ahead of me with a "jolly hockey sticks" man on his back) I looked down at my hands and noticed, for the first time in a long while, that my nails were all different lengths, the shortest being my thumbs (I tend to gnaw on my thumbnails when stressed).

Lydia and I arrived at the health spa with the requisite "half an hour before your appointment to relax, wind down and complete a questionnaire". They wanted to know if I were allergic to anything and refused to let me have a latte before my treatments. "We advise against stimulants before clients enter the spa rooms" said a passing sylph like woman in what looked like green hospital scrubs. I wondered what service she offered - perhaps I could get my liposuction done.

Lydia dallied over her cammomile tea as I headed in my for manicure - she'd join me for my pedicure "with Stacey". Lesley, a teeny tiny frail woman, settled me into an oversized armchair and told me to relax and breathe deeply. I slotted my arms into the grooves provided and did just that. We agreed (in hushed tones, nobody spoke above a whisper) that she'd "take my nails all to the same length, file, buff and polish them". It was strangely relaxing to have someone fiddle with my hands, especially when I closed my eyes. My mind drifted off to somewhere I now can't remember and, before too long I had lovely shiny nails that glistened under the spotlights. At some point, Lydia had joined me and was lying on an adjacent chair with her feet already hoiked up to Stacey's chest level.

Again, we agreed to "buff and polish" my toenails but Lesley asked me if I wanted them painted. Lydia pointed to the myriad of nail varnish bottles and whispered "that brown colour matches your tankini". Lesley seized this opportunity to talk to me about colour co-ordination. I agreed to have Mocha daubed on my tootsies.

Back in the spa lounge and more cammomile tea before we went off to our waxing. Both Lydia and I were having eyebrows, legs and bikini line and, to my relief, although we were in the same room at the same time, there was a curtain between us. An exotic looking woman called Sabrini requested that I "take my pants off and cover myself with a towel". I was gripped with terror at this point and experienced a flashback to the last time I had my bikini line waxed. The week before my honeymoon and I cried. Buckets. Called the woman all the names under the sun and only allowed her to do one side - I was half plucked chicken, half Yeti. David had hysterics on our wedding night, despite my best efforts with the Nair.

"Please?" Sabrini asked when she returned from heating the wax and I was still very much wearing pants and clutching my robe possessively. "Can I not have the bikini line done, just move straight onto the legs?" I whispered. I could hear ripping going on next door and no screams or anything from Lydia. She must have an extremely high pain threshold. I haven't got one of those. When I was pregnant, I begged to be knocked out when my contractions first started and woken up again when the baby was actually born and in the little cot at my bedside. Suffice to say, that didn't happen.

"Come on now" Sabrini joshed, hoiking up my robe and practially de-bagging me. "It's just a Brazilian, it'll be fine" she said, whipping a pot of wax in a frenzy. "Oooh, no, not a Brazilian, just a quick tidy up please - I've got a tankini, there won't be any fall out of anything untoward in that!" I hissed back. My pants were off and on the hook on the trolley, a towel spread up my, erm, right side and a spatula of wax spread on my, erm, left side before I could say "Deforestation". Slap went the strip of muslin, rip went Sabrini, expletives from me.

Words that I would never usually use came out of my mouth as she whacked on another splodge of wax and another muslin strip. All in a whisper, naturally. "Where are you going for your holiday?" she asked me as she ripped yet more skin from my body. Conversation? She wanted conversation? I was having trouble breathing, my eyes were watering, my bits were on fire and my lips was nearly bitten in half. More wax and more muslin followed her question. "Ibizaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh!!!!" I yelled as she ripped hair from what she daintily called "my underneath bits". By the time we'd moved onto the right side I was past caring. I would have stormed off (and featured the plucked chicken/yeti look once more) but I had lost all sensation in my left leg and was sure I couldn't stand. I was sweating, swearing and biting through my forearm.

"All done!" she chirruped a while later "It didn't hurt much after a while did it?" she asked me as she wafted off to get more instruments of torture. She left a gap in the curtains and I met Lydia's gaze. She had a towel stuffed in her mouth and was convulsing on the bed. "Alright?" I asked weakly. She attempted conversation through the towel but I couldn't quite catch it.

By the time the front of my left leg was done I was so immune to the pain I was actually working out what to cook for dinner that evening. "On your front please" Sabrini whispered. I wasn't quite as anaetheatised as I thought - searing heat flew up my legs and when I rested my bits on the surprisingly rough towel covering the bench.....well, the idea of having a BBQ in the back garden flew right out of the window.

After all that, the eybrow waxing was a doddle and I felt quite spaced out, completely zonked. Ditto Lydia, who said she couldn't put her pants back on in case "they welded to my skin". We both staggered out into the spa lounge (pants in hand) and brooked no arguments with the whippersnapper behind the counter. We wanted lattes and muffins and we wanted them now.

By my second latte and one and a half cherry muffins later I was feeling a little bit better. The woman wearing the green scrubs kept wafting in and out and shooting us pitying looks. "We do recommend, that after any treatment, that clients drink at least 2 litres of water". Lydia raised a newly waxed eyebrow. "Listen love" she said "I've just lost half the skin on my knees and I can't even feel my minnie right now so if I want a latte I'm bloody well going to have one!". I left her snarling at Scrubs Woman and headed off with Patrina for my all over spray tan.

Patrina showed me a colour chart (it was like being in B&Q) and looked me up and down. "How long ago did you have your legs waxed?" she asked in a lilting Scottish tone. I was by now in a transparent voluminous robe, a fetching hair cap and paper knickers and not about to go anywhere without a golden tan. As it was over an hour she agreed all would be fine. I chose my colour and she went off to mix it. "Okay now, you'll be in the booth in a minute and it'll take about, ooh, three or four minutes. When you get in the booth, take off your robe and hang it on the hook on the back of the door." She raised an eyebrow questioningly and I assured her that I understood what she meant. Dear God! She then gave me (and demonstrated) a list of positions to "ensure maximum coverage" - now I know what the BMW felt like when we took it to have its wing resprayed.

It wasn't an unpleasant experience but I did feel a bit ridiculous, especially in the position to ensure "even back coverage". But the tan went on really well and smoothly and I wasn't, as I imagined, standing in a pool of gunk and dripping. In fact, I was dressed in my loose summer dress fifteen minutes later and had rejoined Lydia who was still in her robe and drinking latte. It had now become a point of principle apparently. "Every time I order one, she does a sharp intake of breath and crunches on a handful of brazil nuts" Lydia said, pointing to Green Scrubs who looked like her earlier karma had deserted her. "I'm hoping she'll take her teeth out with the next handful. Two more latte's over here!"
I've been marvelling at all these women who regard this as a weekly treat. I mean, bless David and all that, but I can't ever imagine having another Brazilian as long as I live. Women do this for fun. "Oooh, I'm just off to the spa for a bikini wax!" they simper as they trot off on their high heels, practically running through the doors to be covered in wax and muslin.
I got home (driving was an experience) and staggered through the front door. Mac, on his way out the door for his overnight stay with Ben and Ben's mum (who asked me why I was walking bow-legged) asked me how I got so "brown mummy". David admired my tan, my manicure and my pedicure and wanted a quick look at my waxed bits. I raised an eyebrow, showed him a leg and pointed out that he was not to come near me until I got all sensation back. I backed this comment up by jabbing the air forcibly. He took two steps back and retreated to the kitchen.
Matthew rang at about ten to eight, spoke to David and asked me "what I'd done to Lyds". David covertly mentioned the word "Brazilian" and attempted nonchalance. I was still balanced precariously on two cushions on the sofa at this point and David was still aware that the exclusion zone was still in place.
David got off lightly - Lydia karate chopped Matthew when he suggested an early night.

Saturday, 9 June 2007

The Lee-ding Man

Well done to Lee Mead on winning the BBC's Any Dream Will Do. I was on the edge of my seat the whole night and nearly ruined my snazzy new manicure with all the nailbiting tension - but I worked my way through a packet of wine gums instead.

Who won Grease is The Word? That Bloke From Westlife's Relation? Or am I thoroughly over-excited and their final is next week?

Friday, 8 June 2007

Full steam ahead....

Janey is pre-menstrual and very picky. I went through the mill this morning as she picked over my latest arrangements for The Wedding. I tried not to bite her ungrateful head off and instead sunk my teeth into endless custard creams. The Order of Service booklet is nine pages thick, what with all the adverts and Janey wants me to make it look "less bulky". Another rethink needed - the printer wants the final draft by Monday and she spent an hour scrutinising it for mistakes. When she couldn't find any, she had a go at my colour choice for the binding ribbon. I opened another packet of custard creams.

We went to the dressmakers for the final fittings last night. The bridesmaids look gorgeous and Mac looks so sweet in his suit. I was awash the minute we stepped into the place. Even Exotic Au Pair wiped a tear away as Caitlin danced round the room telling everyone she was a fairy. I’m just glad that Mac didn’t, his suit is verging too much on the lilac side of blue for my liking but hey, he seemed happy enough. Janey looks gorgeous in The Dress - her completed butterfly tattoos look surprisingly lovely too.

But, all in all, things are still going too swimmingly on The Wedding front – I’m a little concerned. What is it they say? Good dress rehearsals mean bad opening nights? The rehearsal has been set for the Wednesday before the actual day - let's hope something goes drastically wrong. If anything goes tits-up on the day, it'll be my fault I just know it.

Jane Opposite says she lives for the moment that the roar of Juan’s Kawasaki rattles her windows. “He’s lovely!” she giggled as we tucked into the latest offering from Manuela the Official Caterer (that’s how she’s listed in the Order of Service by the way) this morning, melt in the mouth chocolate truffles. The accompanying note said “I thought of these for to have with the coffee”. Jane Opposite is dreading the next TANA meeting – I’m sadly (hahahaha!) unable to go, it being the evening before I travel to Ibiza, I gave my apologies yesterday to Marjorie when I saw her watering her begonias in the front garden and Frank appeared two minutes later on the door step. Such a shame, he said, I wasn’t able to come but he could understand I wanted to say a fond farewell to my husband. He accompanied this with a lewd wink and a request to see my white bits on my return. Dear Reader, my reply was drowned out by the dogs barking at a passing Chihuahua….Frank practically vaulted the gate at the noise.

My pristine new books arrived today – I regretfully packed them without even inhaling that “new” book smell I so love. I’m saving them for poolside and mustn’t weaken. I’ve locked the suitcase as well. I’m going to need a forklift truck to carry the thing and David has asked me if I’m going for a fortnight and not told him. I always over pack – I always have done. I pack for every eventuality – all in the same holiday. Hot, cold, windy, rainy. Members of my family who laughed when I packed a jumper when we all went off to Greece a few summers ago (BM - Before Mackenzie) weren’t laughing when I was the only warm one out of all eight of us. It was an awful week, weatherwise, and I hardly took the jumper off my back.

Similarly, last summer, David, Mac and I went to Hastings for a long weekend – it was raining when we left with more predicted, especially in coastal areas. I packed shorts and sun tan cream for me and Mac – the sun shone relentlessly and the temperature was in the 90s for the whole weekend. David had to go into Top Man and buy a whole new wardrobe.

I shared my suntan lotion though……

Thursday, 7 June 2007

Planning, Packing and Pampering

This time next week I’ll be in Ibiza – I’ve started my packing for The Hen Weekend. All of a sudden it seems so close! David and Mac are putting the finishing touches to their itinerary. On Thursday after nursery they’re taking the dogs to Dulwich Park – David rarely walks the dogs so this will be interesting, they never do as he tells them. On Friday after nursery they’re going to Pizza Hut for dinner and then back home for some DVDs and popcorn. On Saturday Mac is horse riding (I’ve already asked him to say hi to Blue for me and give him a carrot) in the morning and playing golf in the afternoon and on Sunday they’re going for a kick-about in the park and then out for Sunday lunch. I overheard Mac telling David that The Rye allows children in before six. Hm. Real boys stuff.

Janey is also in full planning mode – she keeps ringing me up with the names of clubs we’ve “so got to go to babes!”. Worryingly, they all have names like Heat, Pump, Groin and Bump n Grind and feature such delights as a foam machine and dance cage. Bea aims to look for a classy wine bar and become a regular. I haven’t told her that the chances of finding a classy wine bar in Ibiza are slim. Janey’s also planned a day on the beach on the Friday – the local beach isn’t that far away and, according to Janey who has been surfing the net, the lifeguards “look well hot”.

Bea is like a cat on hot bricks – she came home earlier than usual from work last night and found that the Exotic Au Pair had cooked beefburgers and chips for the children’s tea. She was not impressed at all, less so when Caitlin revealed that they’d had the same meal “with red sauce” the day before and the day before that too. “How can I leave my cherubs with a woman who thinks that chips are a staple food group?” she wailed to me. The Exotic Au Pair has put on at least a stone since she’s been here – she’s discovered Mr Kipling cakes and Marks and Spencers onion ring crisps. Bea is quite pleased about this “Not so much Exotic any longer, more Enormous” but doesn’t want her children to partake in any of the fast food delights, the empty cartons of which litter the au pair’s room.

This has prompted me to write a handy little guide for David. “No sweets before lunch (and only on Saturday), lots of veggies and salad and make sure he eats at least two pieces of fruit a day”. David perused it last night and slotted it behind the plant in the kitchen, exchanging looks with Mac. Gladys is now the running joke in our house (sorry Gladys, in a nice way though!). “If I’m greeted with a pile of sugar on the work surface when I get home, I’ll know you’ve fed him nothing but sweets.” I warned, whisking a pile of T-shirts upstairs. I could hear them both laughing as I hauled the suitcase out from under the bed. Hm.

David’s “working from home” today – he’s still in his PJs and is watching TV, a pile of spreadsheets teetering on the kitchen table. As we left for nursery, he promised me a present for when I got back. And he delivered – it’s a voucher for a manicure, pedicure, waxing and spray tan at our local health club place. He knows I’m a bit concerned about holidaying with the Skinnies and so thought this would help me “to feel much better”. Have I mentioned that I love him very much?

I don’t much fancy going on my own so I rang Lydia to see if she fancied coming along – she’s up for the waxing and the pedicure. “Mind you” she mused as I told her what my lovely husband had done for me “I’d look at it like he was agreeing that you’re not as good as the Skinnies and need waxing and stuff”. I refuse to let Lydia’s general down on men ruin my lovely surprise. But I did have a quick look at my, erm, bits that are booked for a wax and they’re not that bad so he can’t be thinking that. Can he? Have I mentioned that sometimes I’m gripped with paranoia?

Not only that but Mac has been invited to a sleep-over at friend Ben’s house on Saturday night so I’ll be able to flaunt my pedicure, manicure, tan and waxed bits for my lovely husband without fear of a small voice asking me an embarrassing question. Yesterday morning, Mac barged into the bathroom whilst I was brushing my teeth and went into fits of laughter. “Mummy, when you brush your teeth, your bits wobble!”

Perhaps I can book in for a quick liposuction as well?

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Digging for shelter

Saskia thinks I’m mad. I know this because she told me when she arrived at the house at half nine on Saturday morning with suntan lotion and wearing not much clothing. One of the drawbacks of living in a flat apparently, is having no garden in the summer. Even though our garden would resemble a building site - we had decided to dig under the dodgy patch. I made the diggers (David and Jack) promise not to start without me – me and my boy were off to the stables. We had such fun and I managed to get Blue for the third successive week – turning up half an hour before our lesson started paid off, even though Mac did find time to sit in some manure – tragic really because I was taking him straight round to Eliza’s – we had to find a replacement pair so we went shopping in Bexleyheath. I wasn’t myself to be honest, and Mac took advantage of mummy’s strange mood. He came away with a new pair of chinos, a couple of T-shirts and a funky pair of shorts and some jelly shoes for “the beach mummy”.

I’d had a restless night. Understandable perhaps. David was treating it all with a great amount of scepticism. “Until this Gladys stands in front of me and says hello, I won’t believe it” he said as he climbed into bed next to his wary wife. “But then why are you digging for the air raid shelter?” I asked him. He huffed something and snuggled down the bed.

So, there we all were at one o’clock, spades at the ready. “Shouldn’t we say something?” I asked nervously. We were, after all, disturbing something that had been buried for the past 60 years or so. It was like we were grave robbing. Saskia snorted with laughter and turned to Heat magazine. David started humming the National Anthem and grinned at me as we perused the pristine area in front of us. It did seem a shame to dig it up but, I had to know.

We’d read that these shelters were dug into the ground four feet deep and had about a foot of earth on top of them and a couple of foot of earth either side – Jack was wary about standing on top of the shelter (“If it’s there!” said Saskia) and digging so we decided to start to one side. The obvious side was the right hand side as you were looking at it. Because, as David said, it’s the quickest route from the back door and so that’s where the entrance would be. That fitted with the shape of the shelter and the shape of the garden. We started digging in the earth at the front, next to the path, working silently.

Half an hour later we’d uncovered enough rubble to fill a skip and were dispersing the earth we found around the garden like a POW escape committee. Jack started humming the Great Escape on his third trip round the garden. David rested on his spade and suggested we break for a drink. “I think there’s definitely something there, even if it’s just bricks.” he said, looking at me. I wondered if Gladys was watching us. And what she was thinking. The dogs were all lined up on the patio, Junior Dog quite keen to join us in this digging lark.

Another half an hour and we’d found some house bricks about two foot down, they were covered in black dust as was the chunks of metal with them. We couldn’t make out what they were. We all stood around just staring at each other. Even Saskia got off her back and peered into the hole. “Oh shit” she said. We started digging in now, rather than down – and found corrugated iron. Not whole, but in pieces. I was now beginning to feel slightly uneasy. Every time I looked at the house I imagined seeing Gladys standing at the window. Alex hadn’t said that she had bad intentions but I didn’t want to start annoying her. We broke for a late lunch and I rang Andy who rang Alex. We waited until they both arrived before we went back out into the garden.

I really can’t describe how I was feeling – even typing this now is sending shivers up and down my spine. Alex stood out in the garden for a while before calling me outside. I think the others were quite pleased to leave me to it.

“She wants to know why you didn’t believe her, but understands you needed proof and she’ll try and give it to you.” he said as I joined him. We both stared at the mess in front of us. According to Alex (Gladys was obviously pleased that he was back), after the war, Gladys says the local children used it as a play hut until the council came and filled it in for “safety’s sake” after the war. They filled it with the rubble from bomb sites and “finished off” the garden with a layer of earth to make it look nicer. I can’t believe it’s been there all this time and I knew nothing about it. All that time I’ve stood on top of it, digging and cursing at the plants that died after a few days of planting them. There was only about a foot of earth on top – I could have sunk into the garden!

Jack and David joined us, eager to know if we were going to keep digging. “It’s full of rubble” Alex said “but you might as well”. We carried on digging, with Alex chipping in with information. I felt twice removed from reality as he kept laughing to himself, Glady’s was obviously enjoying watching us toil away – being talked about by a ghost is something new to me. We were all asking questions now, some of which Alex was able to answer, others he was a bit vague about. “You could have looked that up on the internet!” Saskia scoffed as Alex told us, courtesy of Gladys, a bit more about air raid shelters.

The corrugated iron we were finding formed the shell of the shelter and Gladys tried to make it as homely as possible, according to Alex, with a nice picture propped against the wall, some nice sheets for the makeshift beds candles and a big ornate wooden clock “from the parlour” so that they “could see what time Hitler stopped bombing”. After the war had ended, Gladys nor her mother in law could bear to go back into the shelter and it was left as it was to be filled in and covered. Her children came back long after the shelter had been filled in – they hadn’t been evacuated until late in the war. “1943” I said without thinking. “That’s right, it was August 1943 when they left London.” Alex said, perching on a stool. I nearly fell down the hole. Where the hell had that come from? I wish I could say that “I heard voices” but I didn’t, it was just a feeling. David was looking at me with his mouth open and the only sound were the bees buzzing in the lavender.

There was just piles of rubble and a few hessian sacks that I was desperate not to move let alone open. Jack was now beginning to tire, he had been digging while we were chatting and David was tidying the garden up – it looked like, well, a bomb had hit it. We’d found what we were looking for – Gladys had told us there was a shelter under our garden and we’d just found it.

Just as Jack was calling it a day he stood stock still and just stared in front of him. “I don’t want to worry you” he said in what could be described as a strangled voice. We were all instantly worried. “There’s a clock in here” Jack went on, his dirt streaked face paling. We all froze and my legs went all wobbly. Alex laughed and said “You wanted proof? She’s given you proof.”

I asked Jack to leave it where it was – David looked at me in surprise. “Don’t you want to see it properly?” he asked. Jack reported that it was broken and crushed but definitely a clock – and a beautiful ornate wooden one at that, wedged under a pile of rubble in what we deduced would be the left hand side of the shelter as you entered it. I wanted it left where Gladys and her mother-in-law had left it. I was very near to tears as we started the long job of re-burying the shelter. Even Saskia was subdued and kept shooting Alex querying looks. “Okay, so now what?” she asked as she threw her magazine on the floor. “Do we all have to pay homage to Gladys every time we come into the house? Should we be frightened of her?”

Apparently, we’ve got to carry on as normal. “Why should things change?” Alex asked “She’s always been here - only now you know about her”

So, I’m still going to lose things only to find them in the utility room, I’m still going to feel a light stroking on my head whenever I’m upset and I’m still going to imagine I’m seeing things.

Only now I know it’s Gladys.

Monday, 4 June 2007

Gladys

As you’ve probably read, it was my birthday on Friday – another year older but still no wiser. I had a lovely day, with friends and family dropping in with presents and cards and wine and champagne. Charlie’s Rich New Boyfriend Jonathan arrived with an elaborately wrapped box of chocolates and kisses for Charlie that turned our stomachs. Mac made “vomit” noises throughout. After just ten minutes in his company I found out that Jonathan is a vain, arrogant, rude man but as he happens to be the vain, arrogant, rude man that’s lending us a million pound villa for The Hen Weekend, I had to bite my tongue. Lydia, who had dropped in “can’t stop, on my way to Matthew’s” with a card and a photo album expressed some disbelief (bless her, I love her) that I was celebrating my 35th birthday. Jonathan ran an impossibly tanned hand through his obviously highlighted hair and said “Wow, really? 35? I’d have said you were early forties at least.”

I was so pleased when a blushing Charlie said they had to leave or they’d miss their dinner reservations.

Jack Next Door arrived with a batch of tomato plants and, before he sat down for a drink, had a wander outside in the garden with David to talk "gardens". We’ve got a plot of earth about six foot wide and about 12 foot long across the garden between the decking and the lawn that nothing grows in. Plants that start out looking very well, die almost immediately and David had this brilliant idea of building a rockery on this spot and Jack was on hand to advise what sort of plants would thrive in a rocky area. I’m telling you this merely because of what’s to follow.

My Token Gay Friend Andy dropped in with his friend Alex about half an hour later. By then, the party was beginning to dwindle, Mac was in bed, David and Jack were looking longingly at the TV (England were playing Brazil) and Saskia was showing no signs of leaving until she’d finished the bottle of red she was holding. “We won’t stop long” Andy said as he helped himself to a bottle of lager from the fridge (Andy is instantly at home wherever he is) and poured Alex a Perrier. Alex was looking around him with interest but didn’t say a word for the whole of the first half. And then what he said during half time had us all stunned.

“Don’t build the rockery” he said, looking directly at David.

To say we were gobsmacked is putting it mildly. Alex wasn’t here when we were discussing our rockery plans and no-one had mentioned it since they’d arrived. And, let's face it, what's it got to do with him anyway! “What?” David said, a look of confusion on his face.

“Gladys said it won’t bear the weight of all those rocks”. “What won’t?” I said at the same time as Saskia said “Who’s Gladys?”.

“The air raid shelter and Gladys used to live here” Alex replied, taking a sip of his Perrier and shifting his attention to the screen where the studio presenters were talking about what should have happened during the first half of the game. Alex, said Andy reverentially, is a medium. I shot a look at Saskia to stop her making the obvious joke (Alex is a rather rotund chap).

It turns out that the reason Alex was so quiet was because he was chatting with Gladys. Gladys, apparently, was so pleased to find someone who could understand her, that she hadn’t stopped talking. David openly guffawed at these revelations and rolled his eyes at me “I think we’d know if we had an air raid shelter in our garden” but Jack argued that this “would certainly explain it, the soil wouldn’t be deep enough to nurture plants”. Saskia started making “whooooo!” noises. I just stayed quiet.

I’m not saying I’m the next Derek Acorah (or whoever the female equivalent is) but I have been told that I’m quite receptive to the world of spirit. Last September, I went with a friend to a medium. I sat outside while my friend had her consultation and, when she came out, grumpily told me that I owed her the cost of the session. When I asked her why, she said that none of her family who had passed visited but nearly all of mine did! That spurred me on to go and see the medium (who rather cheesily said “I knew you’d be in to see me!”). During that half an hour session, lots of things were said to me – some that I knew about, others that I had to get verified by parents. It was very emotional but with a fair bit of humour. One thing that sticks in my mind was the fact that she told me I was surrounded by animals who had passed to spirit “including a golden retriever that’s sitting on your foot”. Dad had a golden retriever when he was a boy who used to sit on your feet to prevent you going anywhere without him. Funnily enough, Junior Dog does this too.

The medium told me that I had The Gift and was quite open to receive messages – I just had to develop my spiritual side. Me being me, apart from the initial week long interest and the odd email to a spiritual church or two, I promptly did nothing.

But I’d never really forgot it. Both my grandfathers (who both died before I was five) visit me – and I can tell which one it is by the smell of the cigarette smoke they bring with them. If it’s a woodbine its Grandad Albert, a roll up would be Grandad Harry. Whenever I’m upset or stressed about something, I feel a light stroking sensation on the top of my head and I’m immediately relaxed. Sometimes I see things out of the corner of my eye (I put it down to floaters) or a mooching dog. I lose things that turn up a few hours or days later and always in the utility room – David jokes that it’s our lost property office. I put this down to me having a brain like a sieve. All three dogs, but mainly Junior, have moments where they sit there and “watch” something – or someone – walk through the room. David treats this whole thing as one of my “cute little things” that he loves about me but never really gives it any credence.

To say we were all agog was putting it mildly – we even missed England score. Gladys (she wasn’t giving him her surname, wise woman) lived in this house during the Second World War with her three children and her mother-in-law. There’s an air raid shelter, that was used by the family in our garden and Gladys says that’s why that area is useless for planting. Alex said that she was so pleased that someone was finally taking notice of her (I now feel guilty for ignoring a spirit - how is this possible?) and that she had a lot to say. She’s been trying, Alex says, to make me listen to her but has failed miserably. I sent up a silent apology.

By now, the TV was off and we were all sitting around Alex and gazing at him adoringly. Apart from Saskia “Ask her to do something now to prove she’s here.” she demanded (the only spirits she believe in is vodka and gin). Alex withered her with a look and laughed at something that obviously Gladys said. “Fruitcake” she muttered. Saskia, not Gladys.

A lot of what he said made no sense and, to be honest, he could have been saying it just for effect – who knows? He told us that the family moved in the year before war broke out and that Gladys’ husband spent the entire war away. Alex came out with things like the names of her children which could have been plucked from the air but he named the primary school they all attended before they were evacuated to Kent. The primary school is still there, modernised, but still there and it’s the one I went to. Shivers were skittering up and down my spine by now, and even David was interested enough to stop sniggering. Amongst the random things Alex said, there were a few jewels. “She doesn’t like it when you get upset” he said, looking at me and smiling. “She strokes my head” I said. Quite emotional. Gladys likes what we’ve done with the house, “particularly the scullery, that’s where she spent most of her time.” Alex said. The utility room – as it is now, unchanged in location but decorated – is the place where all the things that I “lose” end up. A missing CD? In the utility room. Can’t find my bubble bath – it’s in the utility room. Just the other day I knew I’d put my keys in my bag but, there they were, in the utility room. “She’s been trying hard to let you know she’s here” Alex said softly. I can't begin describe how I was feeling at that point.

David and Jack were still debating the possibilities of having an Andersen shelter in our garden and were surfing the net. “Is she here, with us now?” I asked, warming to Gladys. Junior Dog was gazing at the living room door, tail wagging slightly. “Yes” said Alex simply. Apparently, she’s not here all the time, she visits and has been doing so since she died in 1974 because this was a house she was truly happy in. “She didn’t die here did she?” Saskia squawked. I must admit that I was keen to know the answer to that myself. We had to wait for Gladys to respond to that question (honestly, writing this down now makes it seem very surreal) and I worried that we’d upset her. I’ve now got anxiety as well as guilt. Alex laughed softly and said that she died in hospital “after a long old fight”. It was very strange watching him "talk" to her, very eerie if I’m honest.

I wanted to know more and asked a few fairly impudent questions. Alex didn’t do so well with these which again added weight to Saskia’s protestations that he’s “a complete fruit loop”. I wanted to know if her husband was okay, whether her children were still alive, what she died of and if we had any other spiritual visitors. Alex laughed again “She’ll tell you herself if you promise to do what you said you’d do last September”. That did it for me.

Gladys was bribing me into developing my spiritual side, just like that medium suggested. Alex then took me out into the kitchen and told me a few things I could try: visualisation, meditation and gave me a handy little few tips: he said “Just talk to her as if she were in front of you, ask her questions and she’ll answer you but you must learn to look for these answers as they most definitely will not be verbal - she can’t yet converse with you like she can me. You’ll ask her a question and she’ll answer you in some way. It might not be a way in which you automatically understand. Keep it simple to start off with and thank her for her answers, she really wants to talk to you. She’s here because she wants to be, she means you no harm and she loves you all.” Alex has very kindly promised to come back to talk to me some more.

“There’s only one thing for it” said David as we came back into the living room (me a sodden wreck) “we’ve got to dig for that Andersen shelter”.

And in my next post I’ll tell you what happened!

Saturday, 2 June 2007

Any Dream Will Do

Have come into watching this show - for those of you who have no idea what I'm wittering about, the BBC are very kindly helping Andrew Lloyd Webber find a Joseph for his stage show - very late (it was, in fact, the week that Daniel was knocked out, Charlie was distraught and went into a 24 hour decline). I've now become a little addicted to this all-singing, all-dancing show. It's the semi-final tonight and I'm championing Lee to win. He's simply the best.....Keith looks nothing like a Joseph, Ben is far too "pure looking" and Lewis.....I'm sorry, but no.

I can just see Lee wowing the West End crowds in a coat of many colours and a loin cloth......in fact I must stop thinking about that......

Friday, 1 June 2007

Interesting, no?

Thanks to my pal Gwen who tagged me recently. No, it's not what you think, I'm not electronically tagged! Gwen was tagged by The Good Woman and all you have to do is reveal eight interesting facts about yourself and then nominate five other bloggers to do the same.

So, my eight facts (I’ll leave it to you to decide if they’re interesting!) are:

I drink coffee and tea at home without sugar yet when I travel a mile and a bit up the road to Charlie’s (who uses the same milk, tea and coffee as I do and has the same “hard” water as me), I have to have one sugar.

I am allergic to tree pollen, not grass pollen. This is why I get my hayfever in the tree pollen season of April, May and September and don’t suffer in July and August when everyone else seems to.

I cannot stand bare feet on carpet. Mine or anyone else’s. I cringe, it makes my teeth itch and I feel sick. It’s the feel, the sensation, the “whispering” noise it makes. Am shuddering as I type. Ditto when drying feet on towels.

I talk to inanimate objects. I say thank you to cash machines, apologise to things when I drop them and feel sorry for my old white, faithful teapot because it’s hardly ever used now since I got my snazzy new see-through one.

When I’m out and about for an evening, I have to know exactly where I’m going, how I’m going to get there, how I’m going to get back and some rough timescales for all this. Wherever possible, I drive on these occasions so I feel “in control” of my destiny.

I cry at almost everything – especially “made for TV dramas”, almost anything on Living TV and all of Mac’s Walt Disney DVD’s.

I can drink as much vodka as you care to give me and I’ll be as sober as a judge, yet one glass of white wine makes me giggle hysterically, fall over and generally look like a moron.

When I was 25, for seven and a half months, I had a headache every Wednesday which was there when I woke up (at whatever time) and went within a couple of hours.

And there you have it! Now, over to my fellow bloggers (like Gwen have asked more than 5!).

I nominate (come on, you know you want to!)

Antarctic House Husband
Drunk Mummy
Dulwich Mum
Landcroft House (both Silvana and Rob please!)
Mutterings and Meanderings
Strife in the North


I look forward to reading all of your interesting facts!

Meatballs and Presents

My birthday and a trip to Croydon IKEA this morning with Saskia and Mac. I love IKEA. Am obsessional. I make lists and try, try, try to stick to it. I always fail. Today I went in for a NOT uplighter/reading light, a couple of throws in jaunty colours for the dogs baskets and a snazzy mirror for that dull bit on the landing between floors. I got all of the above and three candles (lavender, strawberry and vanilla), a couple of red CD boxes, a Roman blind for the bathroom, a rug for Mac's bedroom, a couple of mugs, a wok, some notebooks (planning to use them on the day of The Wedding to make myself look highly important), a stuffed shark toy that Mac chose and some face flannels. That's quite without visiting the Swedish Market shop for some loganberry cordial, cinnamon biscuits, dill crisps and some pear cider.

Saskia went in for a cutlery set and some funky outdoor lights. She came out with a cutlery set and some funky outdoor lights. How can she do that? She didn't even want to go into the Swedish Market. She stood by the tills checking her messages as Mac and I hung lovingly over the freezer looking at all the cakes.

It was bedlam in the restaurant where we had meatballs and chips and a lovely coffee. Mac was so good, he sat there, covered in ketchup and munching happily on haddock and chips. Other children were not so well behaved. One young lad decided to risk his life and that of his mother's by running up and down the stairs with his eyes shut. Two tables away from us, a young lady (dressed entirely in yellow) of about 6 sat in a chair and leant back on it until she was balancing rather precariously on just two legs while the people with her ignored her and ripped somebody called Marcia apart. Saskia peered at her over her coffee mug "She'll really hurt herself if she goes all the way back" she pointed out loudly, trying to catch the ears of the little girls table-mates. "Well, if she does do that Saskyar, she won't do it again" piped up the pride and joy at my side, spearing a ketchuppy chip. I really must watch what I say in front of my child. The table mates managed to hear that, shot us a Look and pulled the chair upright so fast, the poor girl shot forward and headbutted the table.

We then went home for the ritual Birthday Present Opening Ceremony - Charlie arrived with champagne and Saskia produced a cake that she'd hidden in our fridge when she arrived to pick me up this morning. I'm a lucky girl and got lots of lovely presents including something sparkly (though sadly not equine M&M!) from my lovely husband, a totally original, handpainted picture from Mac (he's even signed it!), lots of lovely Lush smelly stuff from my lovely girls, a super deluxe pampering basket from Bea and a cheque from Ginny to "buy some gorgeous glossy super riding boots my lovely". Oh, and Janey's present buzzes, gyrates and whirls. I opened it discreetly whilst Mac was in the garden, Saskia tells me it's the "latest thing on the market, very good", Charlie was amazed at how big it was and David? Well David now thinks it's his birthday!

All about me

My photo
Nunhead, London, United Kingdom
I'm a mum of one, wife of one and owner to several dogs, a variety of breeds and sizes. I live in the up and coming area (or so they say) of Nunhead and have mad neighbours, strange friends and certifiable relatives. I shop locally, although I do defect to Sainsburys once a week - shoot me now local shopkeepers.