Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Happy New Year!

I hope that the bongs of Big Ben bring in a happy, healthy and prosperous year for you all!

Monday, 29 December 2008

Things I have put in my mouth so far today

  • two pieces of toast, butter and Bovril spread
  • one spoonful of Mac's Cheerios
  • one cup of tea
  • six Quality Street fondant sweets
  • one cup of coffee
  • one apple pie (small)
  • one ferrero rocher
  • Soup, Country Vegetable
  • crusty roll with butter
  • half a dozen (okay, fifteen) chicken crisps with onion and garlic dip
  • one glass of Ribena
  • one murray mint
  • one sausage roll (not sure why singular sausage roll wrapped in clingfilm but hey)
  • one rich tea biscuit
  • one cup of tea
  • one Thornton's toffee (from Dawn at school gate "You eat them or I will")
  • one cup of peppermint tea
  • one custard cream
  • another custard cream
  • one murray mint
  • one cup of coffee
  • thumbnail (my own)

I'm assuming that the above is not going to win any prizes for the Healthiest Diet award but then, to be honest, I'm merely emptying the fridge (cupboards, hidey holes and sweet tins) in preparation for 1st of January when I shall be eating only healthy, green foodstuffs and drinking only pure water and the occasional peppermint tea.

Well. That's the plan, anyway.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

That was the Christmas that was

Phew. I can breathe again for another year. I've even been incredibly smug and have bought two presents for next Christmas. And David tells me that watching QVC addles the brain! Hah! My Christmas went as well as it could have done I suppose, given the sheer crowd of people, mixed personalities, assorted foibles, miscellaneous traditions, the occasional cock-up and Amelia.

I cooked the turkeys on Christmas Eve purely because I had half a pig to cook on Christmas Day. When I texted Charlie at ten past eight in the morning to tell her that turkey number one was in the oven she replied with "It's Christmas Eve sweet?". It's her first actual Christmas Chez Moi - I don't think she was properly equipped to join our motley crew. Amelia didn't think so either and kept asking why she wasn't with her family. There was a slight cock-up in that Charlie arrived on Christmas Eve, just after Ginny when I wasn't expecting her until Christmas morning. There was loose talk about her going home again but once she was welded to the sofa with a vat of mulled wine I thought it would be too cruel to evict her. Amelia's stew was an experience and I only got through it because of the lure of the Ayres black forest gateau that Charlie brought with her as part of her contribution (the other part of her contribution was keeping me calm in the Face of Amelia - no mean feat and greatly appreciated).

Mac went up to bed at a reasonable hour for Christmas Eve - Ginny had thoughtfully brought along a set of bells from somewhere and went out into the garden for a "little tinkle". The look of wonderment on his face was magical and he couldn't get up the stairs quick enough - after leaving out the usual contribution by the utility room door of course. Ginny returned telling me that her tinkling had "attracted the attention of a mangy old moggy".

We then watched The Day After Tomorrow - I do love a good disaster movie - plundered the Quality Street tin, downed some more mulled wine and tried to convince Ginny that Charlie really didn't mind sleeping on the sofa and that she didn't have to but it was a nice offer. As Charlie said as we met outside the loo, "I couldn't have let a 60 year old woman sleep on the sofa, even if she does walk four miles a day"

Christmas Day. Ah, the tweets of little robin redbreasts, the excited woofs of the dogs as they rip their presents apart, Mac's yelling as he discovers yet another present that "I put on my list mummy" and Amelia asking me if the pork should have gone in by now. Of course, it's traditional that David should baste the pork but he was more interested in sorting out Mac's new toy. I've given in and he's now got a Wii. God help me, that's all I can say. When I say traditional, I meant of course it's traditional in Amelia's eyes. David doesn't see the point in basting - "It's just pouring the juices that have come out, back on. Isn't it?".

The dinner guests arrived in time, were perfectly complimentary about the food, provided more wine than you can shake a stick at, more laughs than you could cope with with a groaning stomach and all gathered round the television for Wallace and Gromit but pretended it was just "for the kids' sakes". Scarlett was more interested in the antics of Junior Dog, Freddie slept through it and Mac, Ian and Caitlin kept telling us the storyline before it happened. "Look, there's going to be a big bang in a minute!" Caitlin said which sent Bea into fits of giggles. Those that went home left by half eleven while the rest of us stayed up to pick over the bones of the day and the bones of the turkey. David and Jack Next Door were eating turkey sandwiches and pickled onions at gone one in the morning.

Boxing Day and the traditional Sending Amelia Out Of The House. Ginny bit the bullet and accompanied her mother, Mac and David on a "drive" whilst Charlie and I laughed over Amelia's behaviour of the previous day which, on the Day itself, drove me crackers. This included, in no particular order, complaining that the leg meat was too dry, the potatoes not fluffy enough, the sprouts under cooked, Mac was being spoilt, the mulled wine was too "strong and rancid", the dogs were out of control, I didn't have as much style as my sister, I had too many guests, I didn't have enough carrots for the Boxing Day Soup, David is putting on weight and the neighbours (Frank and Marjorie did all of the washing up) should remain "neighbours and not be dragged into this family".

This last complaint was her undoing - I pointed out, quite slickly for me, whilst waving my full glass of wine at her that Jack was a neighbour and, despite the fact that he had spent a vast fortune on her presents, had kept the dogs occupied and did all of the veg preparation, perhaps he should go home in case he's dragged into this family. Sadly, the only witness to this was Bea while we stirred the post-Christmas dinner mulled wine but it brought Amelia up short and she was blissfully silent for, oooh, at least forty minutes.

Talking of Bea, she did wonders at her Boxing Day Bash, despite the fact that the staff had had the previous two days off. "It's very much a buffet, a find us as you find us, type of thing" she cooed as we arrived. Flavia was tipping gherkins into a cut glass bowl of great antiquity but Bea bit her lip and hurried the children into the playroom for some more Wii-ing.

So, that's my festive season in a pretty big nutshell - how was it for you?

Friday, 26 December 2008

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Here Comes Santa Claus

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas.......hope Santa brings you all your little heart desires!

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Ding Dong Merrily on High

All is calm and peaceful in the Nunhead Mum household. The reason? Jack Next Door has taken Amelia out for "a drive". I feel he sensed my growing tension when he dropped off his contribution to Christmas Day (one table, four chairs, several bottles of wine, a Christmas cake and some peanuts) and suggested a "nice day out on Tuesday". She ummed and aahed for a bit (citing my failure to work out the table placement, sort out the defrosting times etc etc etc as reasons for not going) before agreeing. Especially when I tasked her with picking up the turkeys from the farm in Tunbridge. As I type, the wine is mulling, the tree lights are twinkling, the pork is defrosting and I'm having some "me" time.

David has heroically agreed to go shopping for me to get the last minute bits and pieces (top of my list, Christmas pudding) but won't be doing it until around midnight tonight. I'm not sure why he thinks that the good people of Dulwich and the surrounding area will be tucked up in their beds at that time and not in Sainsburys with him but I'm not going to disillusion him.

Mac has bagged up some toys that he doesn't play with any more so that a) we can take it to the St Christopher's shop after Christmas and b) so he has room for all of his new toys. This he did with little or no argument which brought a tear to my eye and made me a very proud mummy. "There are lots of children who aren't as lucky as you are sweetheart" I said to him as an opening gambit yesterday afternoon. "I'm very lucky mummy" he said, shooting me a winning smile which made me go weak at the knees. When I suggested that he give some of his old toys away, he promised he'd do it tomorrow morning. He spoiled it slightly but saying, as he went upstairs, "especially the broke ones"

Auntie Ivy has bought over enough mince pies to feed the entire Avenue - "I thought I'd bring them today rather than on Thursday" she said, sniffing the air delicately as she unwound her scarf from her neck. That woman can smell mulled wine at fifty paces. Janey, she informed me as she demolished a glass of the steaming brew, is currently in Bluewater panic buying Darren's Christmas present. "I've just given money this year" she added, spotting Amelia's Special Cup and Saucer on the draining board and enquiring where my mother in law was. When I told her she was getting the turkeys from the farm she asked if they would be ready plucked. I told her that I plucking well hoped so.

Now that it's just me and Mac (we've watched Robbie the Reindeer and I've been forced to put the Lion King on the DVD) I'm having a little bit of a panic about the next couple of days.

Tomorrow I've got to do all my last minute bits and pieces include cook two sodding great turkeys. This will mean fending off enquiries from Amelia as to whether or not I'm basting them too much or not enough. Boiling a ham for Boxing Day to take to Bea's (I think she's regretting giving her staff Christmas Day off as she's having to "go places with the hoover that I never knew existed") and sorting out the placement for Christmas dinner. Oh, and allowing Amelia in my kitchen so that she can cook Christmas Eve dinner of.....I'm not sure what yet but she mentioned "stewing" something. David's sister Ginny tried to get out of dinner by arriving first thing Christmas morning but Amelia put a stop to her gallop.

On the Big Day itself I'm most looking forward to the present opening. I'm hoping David will like his Armani Diamonds and his new scarf and that Mac will show more interest in his presents rather than the boxes. Amelia will bill and coo over her presents because I'll drop lots of hints that her precious son chose them all himself (he didn't but if I admitted I'd bought the monstrous crystal thing then she'll hate it). Ginny will be grateful for any gift because, as she says, she so rarely gets them. "The Colonel thinks he can get away with giving me a Terry's Chocolate Orange and a quick fumble".

And then the guests will arrive. Apart from us three, Amelia and Ginny we've got.....(pause here to take huge deep gust of air).....Dad, Bea, Stephen, Ian and Caitlin; Daisy, Ivy, Jim, Janey, Darren and Scarlett; Lydia, Matt and Freddie; Jack Next Door; Charlie and Frank and Marjorie Stewart. I don't think I've missed anyone out (if I have then I shall just smile sweetly and squish them in round the table). Just the 23 for dinner then.

Boxing Day will be spent making Mum's Special Soup, undoing buttons of my jeans and trying to suggest that David takes his mother and Mac out so that the dogs and I can break wind (them) and eat (me) without hearing any Tutting From Amelia.

Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas!!!!!!

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Seven again

Last Sunday, as part of Bush Mummy's meme, I was asked to complete a list of "Sevens"....the first "seven" being the seven things I must do before my parents arrive. This was billed as the seven things I must do before my mother in law arrives. They were as follows

1) attempt to pass off Sainsbury's Christmas pudding as my own
2) put festive lights up at window
3) bulk buy Kalms and paracetomol
4) get rid of my cold
5) buy Amelia's present
6) clean out fish tank and rabbit hutch
7) clean oven

I can now update my list thus:

1) attempt to pass off Sainsbury's Christmas pudding as my own Not even purchased yet. Have looked at the shelves full of Christmas puddings but am torn between a bog standard one, a luxury one, an alcoholic one, a luxury alcoholic one or a slightly alarming looking toffee chocolatey one. Easier to pass off bog standard one as my own but really like the look of the luxury alcoholic one and have put it on my Tuesday shopping list.

2) put festive lights up at window I did this last Monday evening until I viewed my house lit up from the other side of the road. One side I have the Stewarts and their epic Christmas lights display and the other side I have Jack Next Door and his privet hedge which has "a millyon twinkly stars in it mummy" (a job lot of outdoor lights from B&Q woven into the bush). Feel like the poor relation and haven't switched our shabby effort on since.

3) bulk buy Kalms and paracetomol Paracetomol purchased and lovingly stored in cupboard above cooker. Saskia has poohpoohed Kalms (she has test-driven them whilst dealing with members of the public at Gatwick airport AND whilst wearing an orange shirt and has assured me that they are "old hat now") What I need, apparently, is a good nights sleep every night and so she has recommended Nytol. "A dose of them each night and they'll last you right the way round to teatime the following day".

4) get rid of my cold Don't tell anyone but I seem to have achieved this. Okay, so I sound like I'm on forty a day after any exertion and keep getting that annoying little tickle at the back of my throat but it's nothing that a good old choke and a Quality Street won't solve.

5) buy Amelia's present I cunningly handed this chore (and it is, believe me) over to David. When I asked him yesterday what he'd bought for his mother he looked at me blankly, ummed and aaahed a bit, went red and then went out to check the shed. I spent today at Bluewater, being run over by obsessive women pushing buggies, sworn at by panicking men folk (one of whom kept going up to women in a lingerie department and asking them to hold up bras to their chests to see if he could envisage "his wife wearing it"). I ended up spending an obscene amount of money on labour saving gadgets in Lakeland, a hideous Swav....Swark.....Swazziwotsit crystal cat and a jumper that I just know isn't going to be good enough. David spent the day watching Sky Movies with Mac and had the nerve to tell me at ten to eight that he was "knackered".

6) clean out fish tank and rabbit hutch I've dropped fish tank and rabbit hutch shaped hints to David all week. He'll do it "tomorrow".

7) clean oven Not a hope in hell. I'll just have to keep everyone away from the oven and take the bulb out whilst it's in operation so no-one gets a peek. Failing that, loudly castigate David along the lines of "The one thing, the one thing I asked you to do......" and ignore the confused and bewildered expression on his face.

Amelia arrives on the 4.25pm train tomorrow. Should I panic now, or wait until she gets here?

Friday, 19 December 2008

Bells will be ringing

David was never really keen on going to his work Christmas do. I got an inkling of this negativity when I asked him last week what I should wear "Do I go in Old Faithful so they don't think you're flashing the cash and buying me new outfits in these troubled times or do I wear something new just to prove you're not worried about this credit crunch malarky?" He muttered something and retreated to the living room with the paper.

This morning, before he left for work, he announced that he "really didn't fancy" going tonight. "It's bad enough that I have to spend five days a week sharing their breathing space, I really don't want to spend my own time with them as well." I must admit I was quite relieved, I hadn't decided what to wear and memories of last year were still looming large in my mind. If I want to be manhandled inefficiently under the mistletoe by Neanderthals I can pop into the Transport Department at work.

So. We're not going. Or, we haven't gone, it being half past seven and the table was booked for seven. The sense of liberation is massive. David is as giddy as a kipper and, when I asked what takeaway he fancied for dinner, Indian or Chinese he giggled "Both!" and chased me round the kitchen. Charlie - redundant as baby sitter but staying for dinner - rescued the menus from me as I ran round her for the third time and took over the decision for us.

All three of us are getting stuck into the merlot and are planning a night of soaps until nine and then a lovely horror movie. Not necessarily festive but sheer bliss!

Thursday, 18 December 2008

When a child is born

I’m so caught up in a social whirl that I’m extremely dizzy. Oh, not mine, but Mac’s. He’s taken to asking me, in world weary tones as I pick him up from school, “Mummy, am I in or out tonight?”. He’s had Santa parties, cinema trips (Madagascar 2 is “sooooooo funny mummy”), outings for pizza and Christmas themed play-dates that fair boggle the mind. He has enough plastic crap to fill several bins (including the particularly sharp bits that stab you in the foot during your midnight visit to the littlest room) and his excitement levels are somewhere above roof level.

But most of the excitement is reserved for Sunday and Queen Bee Mummy’s Festive Extravaganza. I’ve heard rumours that she’s employed the best Santa impersonator this side of Lapland, hired several snow machines and has a team of elves and fairies all ready to give a handful of festive fun to hyperactive children. He “can’t wait” and, when my mum’s brother rang last night to say that he’d be popping in on Sunday afternoon, Mac begged to still be allowed to go to Queen Bee Mummy’s house. I felt so sorry for Uncle Harry (he could hear the wailing) that I invited him to Sunday lunch as well.

Lydia did a very brave thing last night. She came to the cinema with me. Without Freddie. She was surgically attached to her mobile phone throughout and, when the nice men asked us to turn off our mobiles during the run up to the film, she said “not bloody likely” and risked the wrath of Sweet Munching Couple who were sitting directly in front of us.

“I’ve not left him. With anyone. Not even Matt” she wailed as I drove her to Surrey Quays in a locked car (for fear she’d bolt). “I mean, will he be alright?” she said as she speed-dialled Matthew for the third time in half an hour. “Is he okay, is he feeding okay? Does he miss me?” Matt’s answers were obviously short and not so sweet as she took on the look of a bulldog sucking a lemon soaked wasp.

I managed to get her through the ticket queue, into the popcorn section (where she hesitated for all of ten seconds before getting the biggest box of the confection that she could carry) and into her chair before she rang Matt again. “He’s not answering. Oh my God, there’s been an accident! He’s ignoring me because Freddie’s not breathing!” Sweet Munching Couple turned round and stared. She stood up, shooting popcorn everywhere and paced. Not easy to do in a cinema seat aisle.

It turned out that Matt was upstairs feeding Freddie when she rang and so missed all nine of her calls. I practically had to sit on her to stop her from leaving. “He’ll be fine, everything is fine, don’t worry, it’s okay, it’s okay, sssh, sssh….” I said, stroking her arm as if she were a racehorse that had been frightened.

Still. The film was good and after about the first half an hour she’d relaxed but kept checking her mobile for missed calls or texts. We exploded out of the cinema at half past seven and she received the news that Freddie was asleep, had been asleep for an hour, was fed, winded, changed and happy. I heard Matt say, witheringly “And I’m okay too” before she rang off. “Food?” she enquired cheerfully and headed off in the direction of Frankie and Benny’s.

As we ate our way through a pile of garlic bread (mobile phone sitting between us on the table) she revealed that she wasn’t quite getting the hang of this motherhood lark. I refrained from commenting. “I get so paranoid and worried and then panic. Even when everything is okay, I feel that I’m not doing it right or I’m not giving him enough attention or he’s not eating enough or he’s eating too much…or he’s not developing properly, he keeps getting hiccups..and…oh, I don’t know..…..” she shoved a slice of bread into her mouth and chewed mournfully. I told her that she’d just summed up Motherhood. “You mean I’ve got this Fear of Getting It Wrong and Associated Paranoia for the rest of his life?” she gaped at me. “Well, until he’s at least sixteen, yes” I said, quite encouragingly I thought. “Everything’s changed since he was born” she revealed as we tucked into Steak with Garlic Prawns. “I mean, poor Matt has taken a back seat and he does so much for both of us. He does all the nights while I try to sleep but I can’t because I worry that he’s doing it wrong and……well, down there is still not right.”

Oh God.

I’ve had discussions like this before. I’ve even shared intimate information with my mummy colleagues (even though I was cringing so much I thought I’d turn myself inside out). My friend Rosie once brought an entire tea party to a standstill by informing us that, after the birth of her pride and joy, her entire lady garden went numb for six and a half months. “I’d never have an epidural again – it froze the wrong bit.” she added, biting into a slice of carrot cake. Janey thinks nothing of telling you that “my minnie has stretched a bit”.

Lydia looked as if she was going to lay bare (as it were) an entire problem page full of issues and concerns and all over dinner. “I mean. After you had Mac did you and David wait…..well, how long did you wait until…..you know?” she whispered, leaning forward and draping her scarf into her coleslaw. I fudged the answer in a completely unsatisfactory manner and pretended I was choking on a prawn to avoid any more questions.

“My mum said that after she had me and my sister she was never right again.” She went on. “Mind you, she was quite pleased to get out of what she calls the whole mucky business so our being born was a boon to her. But it explains why dad went off with that barmaid from the golf club……” We ate the rest of our meal in silence, during which time she’d made a few decisions.

She outlined them in the car on the way home. “Number one, try and relax a bit more – look, I haven’t phoned Matt for half an hour! Number two, try to be less paranoid about his breathing and feeding. Number three, seduce Matthew when he least expects it.”

She seemed quite happy with this and even managed to put her mobile phone away in her bag.

Monday, 15 December 2008

When the party's over

I’ve waited until today to blog about my work Christmas party because I was waiting for my colleagues to email me – to be honest, they’ve actually written some of it for me.

I went with the conscious decision not to get too drunk, if at all. I still had memories of my first ever Christmas work party when I drank an entire bottle of red wine to myself, was uncomplimentary about the food (prepared by the MD’s wife) and insulted the Director of Finance by calling him an old fogey. I don’t remember coming home but the awfulness of my first Monday back can still bring me out in a hot sweat.
So, Charlie and I arrived just as Malcolm the DJ was revving up with some Motown. Hospital work do’s follow a set pattern – consultants stick with consultants, nurses congregate with nurses, porters gaggle together and admin staff, well, admin staff sit simmering in a corner, positively thrumming with energy. We know everything there is to know about hospital gossip/folklore/infamy. We are courted at the Christmas party. If you want your PA to go to the canteen every lunchtime for you for the rest of the year you buy her several drinks and talk loudly about how fantastic she is. If you want to have the best run clinic in the hospital, you’re very complimentary about your receptionists and appointment clerks and send a couple of bottles of wine over to their table and even deign to take them a sausage roll or two.

But not this year. The credit crunch dictated that the only food on offer were peanuts, all of the drinks had gone up at least a quid and plastic glasses replaced the usual receptacles. Still, the mish mash of decorations looked good.

Charlie was drawn, like a moth to a flame, to the handsome Plastic Surgeon from Mehico - they were both on the tequila not fifteen minutes after we arrived. I mention this purely because of an email received from Samantha, his PA.

“I know she’s your friend and everything but you could have told her that I was planning to crack on to Juan – she did everything bar suck his lime for him”

Yes, I had to read that twice.

My manager, a lovely woman given to the occasional cackle and the odd swear word, was on top form and only left the dance floor to request tracks from a beleaguered Malcolm. He’d spent the morning bragging to me about how good he was with his decks but, quite frankly, I don’t think he was up to the job. He looked quite relieved when John from Transport took over with the karaoke hour (that lasted an hour and a half). Classics included myself singing Mercy, the Director of Surgery singing “I am the one and only”, a group of canteen staff doing an Abba medley and Bill from Security bringing the house down with “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother”. Literally. His booming voice reverberated through the room, shaking the foundations and loosening the fairy from the top of the tree.

Karen emailed me with “Who was that leggy Scouse redhead who thought she was Beyonce? I’ve asked everyone (I managed to get a picture of her on my phone) but no-one knows her or who she came with? Let me know as soon as you can, if not I’ll speak to Jackie in HR.”

We hate it when we someone manages to slip through our net.

The speeches were mercifully short. The Director of Surgery (looking very uncomfortable in his sparkling Santa hat) thanked us all for our hard work this year. He received a bit of heckling from the porters – as Fred said in his email to me “he barely acknowledges us during the year – unless it’s to carry his bags or park his car. He bought us a couple of jugs of beer, called me Phil and congratulated us on our trolley pushing.”. He’s not a bad bloke but his forgetfulness and tactlessness is legendary. He once, in a staff meeting, wished all of our nurses a very merry Christmas and a restful Christmas Day. All of the nurses present were working on the day itself and were more likely to see Santa coming down the chimney.

I didn’t drink that much (a couple of vodkas that I reckon I danced off) whereas Charlie got involved in a very loud and drunken argument with Juan. “I work for a top London hospital, with top consultants!” Charlie said sniffily as she missed her mouth and tipped tequila over her left shoulder. “What ees better? A consoooltant working at a top London ‘ospital or a consooltant working at a teaching ‘ospital?” Juan countered as he poured her another drink. Charlie couldn’t answer that one as she was distracted buy Emma from HR skidding on the spilt tequila and crashing into end of the bar and dislodging a motheaten stocking.

As Emma said herself “all the drink I’d tipped down my neck and it was a spilt one that made me fall arse over tit!!”

My skirt (pictures to follow once I get them developed: I didn’t take my digital camera as I “lost” the last but one one at a similar do) went down particularly well with the porters and transport boys. Although, as Janice was heard to mutter, “that lot’d wolf whistle at a woman in a body bag if they thought they were in with half a chance”. Janice, it has to be said, tries very hard to be the Office Vamp but, as Johnny the Male Nurse insists, is more like the Office Tramp. She was wearing six inches of makeup on her face and what appeared to be a crocheted dress that, as the evening wore on and the place got hotter, seemed to head south. The transport boys were taking bets as to what would fall off first: her dress or her makeup.

Thankfully, the night was over before either bet was won.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Seven

The lovely Bush Mummy has tagged me to share my Festive Seven..........and here, at enormous expense, are my offerings!

7 things I must do before parents arrive - in this case my MIL
1) attempt to pass off Sainsbury's Christmas pudding as my own
2) put festive lights up at window
3) bulk buy Kalms and paracetomol
4) get rid of my cold
5) buy Amelia's present
6) clean out fish tank and rabbit hutch
7) clean oven

7 things I've been doing instead of preparing for Christmas
1) finding old books and re-reading them
2) worrying about what to buy for people
3) being ill
4) gossiping with Charlie
5) eating
6) watching films about Christmas
7) searching online estate agents for suitable holiday homes

7 things I can't do this Christmas.
1) be with my mum but she'll be with me in spirit
2) relax - my mother in law keeps me on my toes
3) eat what I want, when I want (mother in law)
4) watch Lassie (I'll cry)
5) play Monopoly (David is allergic to it)
6) have a lie in
7) go to bed early

7 Christmas wishes
1) a white Christmas
2) to miraculously lose a couple of stone overnight
3) a safe return for all of our armed forces fighting abroad
4) a new car
5) to have Christmas tree lights that don't conk out on Christmas morning
6) Amelia to lose her voice
7) that the turkey fits into the oven with a minimum of shoving

7 things I say as Christmas approaches
1) "Santa can see you, you know"

2) "if you're not asleep in the next five minutes I will tell Santa"
3) "Who's bloody stupid idea was it to make this sodding Christmas cake anyway?"
4) "I've bought a present for Mac/David/Charlie/Auntie Ivy but can't remember where I hid it"
5) "Oooh, hope it snows!"
6) "Where did I put the sellotape?"
7) "Ah, it's not Christmas until the Coke advert comes on!"

7 Celebrities I'd invite for Christmas dinner
1) Ray Winston - I could listen to him all day
2) Joe Swash - he could tell me all about the jungle
3) Beyonce - she could provide the entertainment
4) Strictly Come Dancing crew - but not Tess Daly or Arlene Phillips
5) David Ginola - just to look at
6) Davina McCall - just to sit her next to Bea and compare them
7) Brian Dowling from Big Brother 2 - he's lovely and he has me in stitches

7 Favourite festive foods.
1) Turkey
2) Brussels with bacon
3) Custard
4) Mince pies
5) Bubble and squeak
6) Chocolate brazils
7) M&S mini yorkshire puds with beef

I'm passing this onto anyone who wants to partake! Go on, it's fun!

Potty apologies

The very lovely Potty Mummy tagged me twice recently and I've only just got round to including them here......slapped wrists for me - I really do get a buzz when I'm tagged!

Anyway, to the first tag and celebrating Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I need to nominate seven people to share this - it's dead simple. All you have to do is put the logo on your blog, add a link to the person who shared it with you, nominate at least 7 other blogs and leave a message for your nominees on their blog.

The second tag was to reveal seven random facts about myself. And believe me, I can be random!

1) I can't sing. I think I can sing but the horrified expressions on the faces of my colleagues on Friday night when I sang Mercy should have given me a bit of a clue. Especially when a rather bedraggled looking porter could be heard loudly proclaim "She should give us some bleeding Mercy!".

2) I've still got my Gordon the Gopher puppet that I had for Christmas during both his and Andi Peters' heyday. And, rather shamelessly, I won't let Mac play with him. Or even touch him. Bad mummy.

3) White wine makes me fall over. One sip and I'm literally legless. I can drink red wine until it comes out of my ears but not white. Funnily enough, rose wine has the same effect as white but I can at least get through a glass before keeling over.

4) I am a hypochondriac. When I was fifteen I had terrible stomach pains and was convinced I had appendicitis - I made an emergency appointment at the doctors. There I was, lying on the couch when he approached and started prodding my stomach. He probed the "tender" area and I sat bolt upright and nutted him one. My resulting headache took my mind off my stomach and the GP was off for two days with a black eye.

5) I passed my driving test at the fifth attempt. First I failed because I was driving too fast, then too slow, then too close to parked cars and then in the middle of the road, then I was hesitant at junctions then too pushy at junctions - I coasted through my fifth driving test on several doses of Kalms.

6) I believe in angels. No, not the ABBA song but the spirit beings. And I talk to them. And spirits - so if you ever see me talking to myself, rest assured I'm not. Well, not all of the time anyway.

7) I was banned from the Brownies for poking my tongue out at Brown Owl. I tried to convince her that I was giving it an airing but she refused point blank to believe me. Especially when Kelly Finch told Brown Owl that I'd called her a "big fat moose".

My lucky seven, for both tags, are:


Sorry if you've already been tagged.......I really must have a good old catchup with all of my blogging chums!

Friday, 12 December 2008

Here comes the girls.....and boys

It’s the work Christmas do tonight and they roped me into decorating the social club this afternoon, buoying up the Head of Communications Malcolm who is worrying that he’s mislaid his “Best of Kylie Minogue” CD and “someone is bound to ask for Spinning Around” and pouring peanuts into bowls.

They’ve spent literally pounds on the decorations and, what with everyone’s random decoration donations, it’s a very bohemian effect. “Cheap” as Charlie pointed out when she rang me earlier this afternoon. I’ve donated the hated tinsel and have draped it around the stage area where Malcolm will be giving us his all. Other donations include a broken bell, some white baubles and two motheaten Christmas stockings. I've put them up on either end of the bar.

Charlie is coming as my guest tonight as the hospital she works at has banned their Christmas party altogether. “No official Secret Santa, no party, no half day shopping annual leave – Scrooge is alive and well and working in our Finance Department” she grumbled during her call to me – she was asking me how “posh” she should dress. I watched as my colleague Karen scaled the height of the mangy Christmas tree to put the rather bedraggled fairy atop it and suggested she dress for comfort rather than glamour.

The peanuts arrived in huge bags, they’ve obviously fallen off the back of a lorry somewhere and I gave the bar manager a very frosty look when he suggested that I add salt to them to “force everyone to buy drinks all night”. I shall be steering clear of all nibbles, especially those on the table to be inhabited by the porters. I’ve seen the state of their office.

So. I’m about to get ready. A tidge early maybe but I want to test drive my skirt that Auntie Ivy has declared “too short”, David has decreed “too long” and Mac has stated it’s “pretty”. It sits on my knee, black and white tartan with a little ruffled underskirt and I plan to wear it with a relatively plunge top and 70 denier opaque tights so no-one will glimpse anything they’re not supposed to. I need to do standard things in it: sit down, stand up, lean (on the bar), bend down (to pick up drunken colleague if last year is anything to go by) and have a quick boogie.

I left my colleagues doing their own version of the Boots advert – it should be a good night!

Monday, 8 December 2008

Coughing around the Christmas Tree

Well, the tree is up. The garlands are up. The tinsel (against my better judgement) is up. My temperature is up, as are Mac's excitement levels. David popped in to see "our" turkeys yesterday (at the moment they are running around a field, gobbling happily and unaware of their fate) and reported that they're looking "fab". He popped in to see our turkeys on his way back from visiting his mother, in case you're wondering. She was due to come to lunch yesterday but I cunningly exaggerated my sneezing, my croaky voice and heavy breathing (not difficult, I watched Ocean's 13 on Saturday evening) and she cancelled with alarming speed but summoned her son down to see her. To be fair, he didn't look that delighted to go but was happy to escape the germs.

The tree, if I say so myself, is a work of art. We had a pretty trying day, Mac and I. Despite winding the Christmas lights round an old bit of wood, the buggers were entangled. Senior Dog, who hates upheaval (you'd think he be used to it, living in this house) retired to the sofa throughout whilst Middle Dog ate his way through a roll of wrapping paper and spent the afternoon sitting in David's chair, belching. After calling the emergency vet, I was instructed to "keep an eye on him" - he was never far from my line of vision but has done nothing majorly dramatic (keeling over) yet. Junior Dog has been "helping" - we keep finding random decorations in strange places. Mac found a wooden reindeer in his bed, won't be parted from it as "Santa probly put it there" and has taken it off to school to show his friends.

Talking of friends, his social life for the next three weeks is rivalling that of an A-list celebrity - trips to the cinema, parties after school, Queen Bee Mummy's Fabulous Festive Sunday.....the list goes on. I, on the other hand, am having to make do with my work Christmas party next Friday and David's work do on the 19th - both of which have been downgraded in deference to the credit crunch.

Last year, work hired a spacious venue with properly sprung dancefloor, went overboard on the glitter, tinsel, food and the DJ who got himself into such a frenzy of excitement he fell off the stage. This year we're holding it in the hospital social club, everyone has been asked to donate a "decorative item" and eat before we leave home. The DJ has been downgraded to our Head of Communications who likes to "get his decks out at the weekend".

Last year, David's work whisked us all off to Gordon Ramsay's restaurant in SW3 and everything was laid onto the company credit card. This year we're to pay for our own meals at Georgetown. I'm happy, I'm re-reading Tanamera.

Frank and Marjorie Stewart are spending next weekend back in their old stomping ground of Sussex - Frank's ex Superintendent is retiring and they're having a "bash to end all bashes" to celebrate. Frank gets quite misty eyed when he talks about his time in the force and insists that "these days" it's all done wrong. Jane Opposite says Her Bill is quite pleased we don't get the "Old Bill dahn The Avenue any more" - it's because they're petrified of bumping into ex PC Stewart and being told they're not doing their jobs properly. Not that Bill Opposite is doing anything he shouldn't, he just has a natural aversion to the "gits with a tit on their head". Or so Jane Opposite informs me.

Lydia is bringing Freddie for a visit later this afternoon - she's struggling with a new baby and his first Christmas, weeping every time a "First Christmas!" card arrives on her doormat. Ivy bought her a "Baby's First Christmas" bauble for their tree and Matt said it was ten minutes before she could look at it without sobbing. "It's all so.....so.....new!" she wailed to me earlier when she reported that Freddie jumped out of his skin and bellowed the house down when Matt let rip with the Christmas CD. Noddy Holder is enough to send anyone leaping out of their skin. Using Freddie as a guide, she's moved away from the more "poppy" Christmas tunes and headed more towards the traditional Christmas songs. "O Holy Night made me cry though" she lamented.
My tears have been saved for Mac rehearsing songs for the Christmas Assembly. Silent Night swiftly followed by Once in Royal David's City - tongue twisters at the best of times but sang by not quite five year olds they reduce me to tears of pride when I hear him and Jonathan struggle to sing the high notes and tears of mirth when he asks me "how come Daddy's got a Christmas song mummy? Have you got one?"

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Santa baby



To: mailto:santa@northpole-enterprises.lapland.lae-enterprises.lapland.la
From: Joanna Mitchell nunheadmo@hotmail.co.uk

Dear Santa

Well done on the whole technological update! My pride and joy is a tad concerned that you haven’t got his list as he used the more traditional method of sending it to you – up Auntie Bea’s chimney. You can’t miss it: it’s got a gigantic reindeer on the envelope and reeks of Coco Chanel (Flavia the au pair bathes in it).

You may find it a little unusual for a thirty-burble year old woman to write to you but I’ve been touched by a little Christmas magic (aka the first mulled wine of the year), and found your email address written on a scrap of paper so I thought I'd give it a go.

To make it easier for you I’ll let you know the following first: I have been a very good girl. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if I wasn’t top of your Good List. Not just near the top but actually at the top of the very top. I’m also incorporating some of my friends lists here as well – this has two benefits. One, you get a concise list of our Christmas wishes and two you won’t have to wade through lots of lists so, really, I’m saving you time.

Oh. Mac has just asked me to ask you to check if Rudolph liked the chocolate chip cookies we left out for him last year. The poor child deliberated for ages before deciding on the cookies and wants to know if his decision was a good one.

Anyway.

For Christmas this year Santa, I’d like the entire Philosophy range (favouring Pure Grace on the fragrance front). If this isn’t possible then a few choice items would suffice – ask Mrs Christmas if you get a bit stuck as she strikes me as the sort of woman to know her exfoliating scrub from her bubble bath.

I’d also quite like something sparkly for either my fingers or my wrist And a nice watch, something that can withstand regular immersion in hot water, dribbling dogs and the occasional plummet onto a not-always-carpeted-floor.

I’d also quite like George Clooney. However, so does Tara and Potty Mummy so some sort of time share would need to be worked out. I’m sure George would be agreeable, we’re pretty damn fabulous. Tara would quite like David Tennant, that bloke from Spooks (she doesn’t clarify which one so perhaps all of them) or Hugh Jackman. If you come up trumps Santa, she’s in for a busy festive period!

Nappy Valley Girl would like Matthew Macfadeyn too – and if you could get his wife to stop making those ridiculous make up adverts that would be fab.

The Dotterel wants a quiet time please – he re-lived the Nativity this time last year so I think he deserves it!

Oh, Potty would like a stress-free spouse – can I put in for that too? As an additional present? Oh and NVG wants a voucher that turns her into a calm and collected mother who never screams at her children and thinks up interesting, craft related things for them to do indoors……wow, my list just got longer!

My husband David would like a chocolate fountain. That’s it. He’s not greedy.

My dad would like new knees. But without the pain, inconvenience or discomfort of actually having them surgically replaced. If he could just wake up one morning to find they’re both brand spanking new then that would be fantastic. If possible, could you let him know the date in advance?

Cousin Janey wants some relief from her piles. I’ve suggested a soft cushion but she can’t find any she likes so I thought maybe the elves could whip something up for her?

Auntie Ivy would like her own car, it hasn’t got to be a new one – in fact an older model would suit her driving style (reckless). She’s not too fussy about what one it is as long as it’s red.

Bea would like a never ending supply from Jimmy Choo/Manolo Blahnik/Christian Laboutin. Have you heard about the “win a bouquet of flowers every week for a whole year” competitions? Well, Bea would like to benefit from a “receive every single new designer shoe for the rest of your natural days” gift.

Lydia’s request is very simple. She wants to go to bed at a reasonable hour and stay asleep until a reasonable hour and for her baby boy to follow suit. Freddie doesn’t know the meaning of the word “sleep” and is trying to achieve a non-sleeping record for both mother and baby. We’re expecting the Guinness Book of Records to ring any day now.

Charlie wants everything. To be honest, she doesn’t know what she wants so very helpfully said “surprise me” when I asked her what she’d like for Christmas, which was closely followed with “everything”. I’ll leave this particular one for you to decipher – you’ve had experience of dealing with difficult customers.

Right. Well, I think that’s it, thank you. I’m about to press send…..and “test” some more mulled wine.

Lots of love from
Nunhead Mum xx

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Denial

I'm having a moment. Or quite a few moments if my nails are anything to go by.

I'm ignoring the fact that I've got presents to wrap, cards to write, "interesting" decorations to make with my pride and joy as well as homemade presents (I've bulk bought icing sugar and peppermint flavouring and everyone is going to be getting a jar of peppermint fondants). I'm not thinking about the fact that it's time to put up decorations and worrying about last second class post dates and whether or not I'll still fit into the dress I'm planning to wear for our work "do".

I'm not even bothered that Bea has bought, wrapped, decorated and placed all of her presents under her already decorated tree. I am a little concerned, however, that she's planning on joining us for Christmas dinner because, having informed Flavia and the rest of her staff (housekeeper, cleaner, son of housekeeper) that the best part of SE15, SE21 and SE22 will be descending on her house on Boxing Day, they all promptly requested Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off. And she agreed.

But that's a little worry compared with the slightly larger worry about what to get David for Christmas and hiding Mac's presents (we've gone for the loft this year but David is decidely wobbly on the ladder and I don't do heights) and preventing the dogs from going mental every time they pass my car boot for that is where I've hidden their presents.

Plus, I've got more people than I had last year and I was forced to ring my mother-in-law and ask her to ask Giles to reserve me another bird. She rang back after twenty minutes to inform me that "they've" scrapped the two pre-ordered fowl and have gone for one bigger bird and one smaller one. I then made the mistake of telling her the guest list for Christmas dinner: she sniffed imperiously and asked if we'd be eating in shifts. She rang back after just five minutes and asked me if it was "too much trouble" for me to have her, Jack and Ginny for dinner. I inhaled sharply, sensing my chance, but wimped out and assured her it wouldn't be a problem. She's agreed to help out "with everything, just like last year" which means that I'll be redundant in my own kitchen and reduced to third washer upper from the left.

On the other side of the coin Lydia was so relieved when I told her that Matt had already invited them to our Christmas lunch that she offered to come over early and help out - "I could do the gravy or something". This should be interesting to watch: Amelia's Christmas gravy is legendary and fiercely guarded.

Still. I reckon I've got a few more days of Denial ahead of me. Plenty of time to eat some of these and re-read this whilst thinking of mulled wine and Christmas carols.

Oh, and to ask you all........what - or who - would you like to find in your Christmas stocking this year?

Superior Scribbler

Thank you very much for my new award......I love it Bush Mummy and would like to award it to.....well, all of the blogs on my "Checking in with....." list - I've added two more, Roserio's (at last!!) and Footballers Knees.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Overheard conversations: one

I was just in Ayres (natch), ogling up the mince pies when I heard two women conversing thus:

Woman 1: She turned round to me and said "I think you've got that wrong" and I turned round to her and said "No I haven't actually" and then she turned round to me and said "No, I'm right, you're wrong" and so I turned round to her and said "No I'm right and you're wrong" and then she turned round to me and said "Don't even go there!"

Woman 2: She didn't! What you should've done was turn round to her and said "Prove to me you're in the right then!"

Woman 2: Yeah but she'd have just turned round to me and said "No, you prove it to me" and I'd have turned round to her and said "Up yours"

With all this "turning around", naked agression and soothing hisses emanating from the hot chocolate machine I got so dizzy I requested five puff pastry mince pies instead of three.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

It's Carnival Time at Potty Mummy's

So why not pop over to her and have a look at this - it's guaranteed a giggle or two, you'll find some new friends and some new blogs. Enjoy!

PS I'm listed in it!!
PPS Vote for me!!
PPPS Please!!

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Perfume and prostates

I went to Lewisham on Thursday to do some Christmas shopping ahead of the weekend crowds. You can tell, can't you, just by the tone of my opening sentence that it didn't go smoothly. You know me so well.

I took my precious progeny to school and ignored his whiny pleas of a "present please mummy or I won't be a good boy today" and silently wished his teacher Mr S good luck. All of the children looked as if they were in a bad mood, already revving up for the fever of Christmas. I parked in the multi-storey, did that thing in the lift (the thing where you engage your fellow lift travellers in friendly conversation and are met with stony stares - or is that just me?) and headed out into the warm shopping centre, clutching my list in my hand.

I've decided to update our Christmas decorations this year - I want one of those trees that Bea always manages to create - beautiful, elegant, classy. That obviously means keeping Mac and David away from it - last year my tree looked like it had been involved in a punch up in a tinsel factory.

Muttering "class" I went into BhS (I know, I know, Bea did suggest I visit Harrods but I only had a few hours) and perused. Much of the decorations that I'd seen in BhS in Surrey Quays were not there - only a mad jumble of half broken things remained. I found some jokey presents for a few people and headed into the Card Factory to get some cards for Mac to send to his friends. I was accosted outside Marks and Spencers by a gentleman from Sky TV who insisted that I join him at his stand and purchase Sky Plus and/or Sky HD. Informing him that I already had both, he didn't seem to believe me. It was only when I started reciting the line up of programmes on Sky One for that evening that he left me alone. Mind you, I was reciting it very loudly.

They didn't have the perfume I wanted in Boots and the mad woman behind the counter offered me an alternative. I ask you: if I've asked for delicate, floral Anais Anais, would I want heavy Marc Jacobs' Daisy? I did get it eventually and reduced in the Perfume Shop. Perfect. I got a few presents in the Perfume Shop, purely because I was leaning quite comfortably on the counter and the man serving reminded me of Enrique. Still, Charlie is always saying she hates buying her own perfume and Matt always needs aftershave.

Then my mobile rang, it was the school. A reedy voice informed me that "Mackenzie has had an accident". My heart stopped and I had visions of a bloodied four year old hooked up to drips and beeping heart monitors. Then I heard him say "Is that my mummy? I want to speak to her." and I melted with relief onto the grubby floor.

He was fine, he'd put his front teeth through his bottom lip but was essentially fine. Still, I broke all speed limits getting back.

I had tantrums from Mac on Friday morning when I dropped him off to school "But I'm in hurt mummy" he wailed, clutching his lip manfully and tantrums from Auntie Ivy when I had the audacity to drop her on the front steps of the hospital while I went off to park the car. I met up with her in the waiting room and she was still chuntering away, drawing in total strangers and telling them her tale of woe. Six pairs of eyes stared at me as I sat down, two women immediately went into a huddle discussing me.

This is the hospital I work in. I'm part of the admin team and for the duration of our visit, we sailed into waiting room after waiting room and received cheery greetings from my colleagues. Auntie Ivy was lapping up the attention, especially when Karen "fitted us in quickly" for her blood test. I felt awful as we sailed past a crammed waiting room and tried to remain anonymous. Auntie Ivy had no such reserve, thanked Karen loudly and said "Oooh, isn't it good that we're getting preferential treatment? All this and the staff discount too!" as she struggled with her coat and bag, Karen and I shushing her loudly.

Oddly enough, one of her tests was an eye test. Drops were dropped in and she had to wait an hour for them to work and then she'd be seen by the registrar. Blinded, she relied on me to entertain her. "Open your eyes, you'll be able to see" I insisted. She refused, telling me that it stung. "I'll go and get you a cup of tea" I offered after twenty minutes of my solo entertainment act. "Oh don't do that, go and get one of your friends to do it" she boomed. Thankfully Denise and Chrissy were both in the back office looking for her records.

Ten minutes later I returned to find Ivy deep in conversation with a new arrival. I sat opposite her and it was only when I heard Ivy rabbitting on to her about Uncle Jim's "prostrate" that I intervened. "Erm, Ivy, here's your tea". She started, swung round to the interloper next to her and said "You're not Joanna!"

The woman agreed that she wasn't and skulked over to another bank of chairs. I then spent ten minutes snorting and giggling into my hands - Ivy had assumed it was me sitting down next to her and started telling me all about my uncle and his waterworks. "Honestly, why didn't she say anything?" Ivy wailed, spilling PG Tips down her front. Denise was hysterical behind the desk and Chrissy kept saying "Oh God, it could only be you, we've been so quiet!"

The upshot of our four hours waiting in waiting areas was that Ivy had an ear infection that had spread. No, I didn't understand it either. Armed with a hospital prescription we went into the Pharmacy and I almost walked straight out again. It was packed to the rafters and only two staff were working. And the information board was informed us all of a "90 minute wait". "You wait here and I'll go and get a coffee, give me your ID" Ivy said, handing everything to me. "Why?" said I, trying to catch the eye of the pharmacist. "So I can get a discount you ninny!" she hooted.
I didn't even begin to explain what she had just said and headed off to the coffee shop where I - and this without any shame whatsoever - bribed a pharmacist who had just started her break to not only finish her break before she'd even started it but to put us ahead of the queue and fill Ivy's prescription. Poor Soroya - anything for a quiet life (really, we admin staff run this hospital, if all the others did but know it - we're like the Mafia) she did so and returned with a jubilant Ivy and was rewarded with a large cappuccino with two shots, one chicken tikka salad baguette, packet of crisps, one apple and a large cherry danish.

It cost more than my Perfume Shop bill but boy was it worth it!

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Disaster

"Bea can't do Friday now, she's got to go to a meeting, can you take me?" So spoke Auntie Ivy last night just as we were getting down to dessert (no ice cream in sight, David had purchased a cherry pie and made custard from scratch). I knew I shouldn't have answered the phone, especially on our anniversary night but hey, habits die hard. "What?" I said into the receiver, picking a clump of custard powder from my teeth. "My hospital appointment, Bea can't come with me now and I don't want to go on my own, don't make me go on my own." My family do a nice line in guilt. But I didn't have the foggiest idea what she was talking about.

Further probing (of Aunt Ivy, not my teeth) revealed that she had finally got an appointment with an Ear Nose and Throat consultant on Friday at 10am. "For my ear problem". I professed to know nothing about her ear problem - clearly my sister was ahead of me on this. "My ears! You know, I get a shooting pain in my left ear, or right ear, which then travels to the other one and makes me fall over because I lose my balance. It's like a steel rope being pulled through my head. It really makes my eyes hurt".

I was flummoxed. "How does an earache and falling over make your eyes hurt?" I wondered. "Because of the pain. I'm squinting." I still professed to know nothing about this whole saga but agreed to pick her up on my way back from school. "She's ever so worried you know" Aunt Ivy continued. "Who?" I asked. "Bea! For God's sake, what's wrong with you?" I informed her that she had interrupted my anniversary meal with her ear problems and Bea's worries. "Oh, is that why Janey's got little'un?" David removed the phone from my ear, said goodnight to his aunt-in-law and whisked me towards the bedroom. I love it when he's being masterful.

Bea rang this morning to check if I was okay to take Ivy to the hospital - I told her I was and asked if she were worried. "No, she'll be fine. It's probably just an ear infection or something". Once I'd clarified what she should be worried about she became extremely agitated. "Oh darling, it's all this economising that's going on. I'm not worried about job losses or wage cuts but, oh my God......" she inhaled deeply. "I may have to share my driver. With someone else." she clarified, no doubt envisaging handsome Sven falling prey to a predatory female and not being on permanent stand-by for lunchtime trips to Harrods. "Or worse! I might have to share him with Henry Henderson who spends his day on golf courses in Surrey - there'll be nine irons on the back seat, tees in the boot and a hand held on permanent charge."

I think she may need therapy.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Sky talk

I had a shock for my husband and child on Saturday evening. They were due in from watching Millwall beat Stockport so I switched on the kettle to make tea, rearranged the shortbread and angel slices on the plate (don’t worry, I haven’t gone all Nigella on you it’s just that I’m really into afternoon tea at the moment) and switched on Sky so they could watch the ever-so exciting live football match. Nothing. The Sky box remained on standby. I manipulated the remote control. Nothing. I pressed the “on” button on the machine repeatedly. Nothing. Oh dear.

They took the news well, I’ll give them that. David approached the Sky box like his name sake Mr Attenborough approaching a dozing wildebeest, sneaking up on it as if to catch it unawares. It was almost like the little man inside the box was refusing point blank to make all the lights go on and, by catching him on the hop as it were, he’d be jolted into actually making it work. “It doesn’t work” David said, gazing up at me from floor level. Mac wrenched his coat off and joined his father in front of the TV “Perhaps the little man inside the box is asleep and doesn’t know you want it on daddy” he said. You’re probably ahead of me. Yes, Mac truly believes that “little men” work televisions, Sky boxes, washing machines, traffic lights……shall I go on? I wish I could say I was making this up, but I can’t.

It was decided that Mummy Shall Ring Sky. Daddy is incapable of ringing workmen in case they “throw me with a question”. Quite what they could throw him with is beyond me.

Anyway. I rang, I reached the Helpdesk who asked me what I could see on screen. “Nothing” said I. “Oh dear” said Helpdesk Man. David had eaten all of the shortbread at this point and had started on the angel cake. We decided to reset the machine. This involved me standing on my head, juggling phone, power cable and the re-set button. Mac helpfully held the phone to my ear but got bored after two minutes and wandered off with it. Calling him back, I heard Helpdesk Man inform me that “after ten minutes with all the lights on the box, the lights will then go out leaving just the standby light. Leave it no longer than two minutes and then turn the Sky box on. This should resolve it”. I wondered what would happen if I left it longer than two minutes but with the anxious gazes David was throwing in my direction I really didn’t want to find out. “What’s it doing mummy?” asked my pride and joy as we sat in hopeful silence. We decided to help him with his reading. The onscreen message read “The software is being upgraded. Please do not touch any buttons or power cables. This can take up to ten minutes”. Mac repeated it word for word, he has an amazing memory. “Like this button mummy?” Mac said, fingers inches away from the remote control. David had to leave the room.

Needless to say, it didn’t work. Helpdesk Man seemed to take it personally and suggested that I ring the Repairs Super Speedy Hotline. They certainly were super speedy too. Within minutes they had ascertained that I was a householder without access to Sky and with a concerned pale and clammy husband and a child who wanted to watch Bob The Builder if he couldn’t watch football.

RSSP Man: Right, I can get someone out to you on Monday afternoon.
Me: What, this Monday?
RSSP Man: Yes, this Monday.
Me: Bloody hell, I was expecting it to take longer than that!
RSSP Man: We can do later in the week if….
Me (cutting in): No you won’t chutney!

It was bad enough I had to deal with a Sky-less Saturday night and all day Sunday, it’s just inhuman to expect me to wait any longer.

Sky Man arrived at 2pm. He walked in, took one look at our defunct box and said “Ah, once they stick on standby you’re up that well known creek that rhymes with Bit”. Just as I was envisaging a long, drawn out procedure to ensure my box is delivered before the next televised football game (or even Christmas) he whisked out to his van and came back with a brand new one. “Something smells good” he said he wrestled with the myriad of cables behind the TV. “Beef Wellington, special anniversary dinner for me and my husband” I admitted, preening slightly. “Oh, nice! Good job you’ve got Sky back then isn’t it!” he said jovially. “Er, I don’t think so actually, no television tonight! My cousin is picking up our little boy from school and well, it’ll be dinner and bed and…….” I faded out at this point as I caught sight of his expression. He couldn’t get out of the door quick enough.

And I’m still blushing.

Friday, 14 November 2008

7even

“Darren’s got a trial” Janey ended this rather earth shattering sentence by sticking her head out of the window and advising the doddery old Ford Fiesta in front of her to “move quicker for God’s sake!”. She drew her head back into the warmth of the car and we continued to snake our way into Bluewater Shopping Centre. “A trial?” I asked, thinking Boys in Blue, handcuffs and “being sent daaahn”. “Yup, for a proper football club” she said, tapping perfectly manicured nails on the steering wheel. “Oh, I thought…..” I said, trailing off when I saw the murderous expression on her face. “Yes, dad thought the same. Honestly, you don’t like Darren do you?”

I kept quiet and wondered if, at this rate, we’d be back in time for Eastenders. Janey was reluctant to tell me the name of the team who had offered her hulking man mountain a trial but assured me it was a “proper” one. “What league?” I asked as we screeched to a halt into a parking space. She refused to tell me in case I “jinxed the whole thing, I’m going to watch him on Saturday, would you have Scatty?”. My answer was lost in a flurry of screeching as a tiny blonde dressed in a fake leopardskin coat threw herself at my cousin. “Janeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!” she squealed. “Meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeesh!” Janey squealed back. It was obviously a meeting of WAGs. “I had to drag Tez here today but I said to him, winter wedding’s don’t plan themselves do they?” Meesh said as she ran an appraising eye up and down Janey. “”No they don’t honey, they don’t” Janey agreed, looking Meesh up and down and shuddering imperceptibly. “My cousin” Janey said, throwing French manicured nails in my direction. “Oh right” Meesh said before turning round and bellowing “Okay, Tez, I’m coming!”. Tez (sitting glumly in a souped up Mini) hadn’t spoken, gestured, looked or glanced in our direction but he jumped at his fiancĂ©e’s yelling and hit his head on the roof of the car.

“She’s such a scuzz bag” Janey hissed as we bustled our way into the busy shopping centre. “She’s modelling herself on Daniella Westbrook but it’s not working”

Armed with my present list I was filled with enthusiasm. Janey needed “a pee and a coffee before I even start thinking about doing anything” and so my impetus was lost. I often find that, I’m all fired up with doing something but, when I actually start to do it, find I can’t be arsed.

“What are you doing for your anniversary?” Janey asked as she spooned the froth off her skinny latte. I admitted that we had nothing planned except a nice bottle of wine on the sofa. “WHAT?” she boomed, causing the elderly lady at the next table to drop her muffin. “What?” she added in a lower tone of voice. “Why?”. I cited lack of baby sitter, lack of input from husband and, rather worryingly, lack of oomph on my part. I was really looking forward to the wine and I’d got him a card but……well. Oh I don’t know. At what stage do you have to rely on others to make sure you keep the romance in your marriage? After seven years of marriage I guess – it’s that why The Itch sets in?

“I’ll have Mac for the night, and take him to school” she said, clutching my arm. “You could have a really lovely evening, cook a nice meal, drink your wine…..” she said witheringly “……and just really have a lovely time. It’s easier if you stay in rather than go out I’ve found, you’re in a restaurant, you’ve ordered something that sounded amazing on the menu but it’s like eating old socks and you daren’t complain to your husband cos it costs twenty five quid and he’s paying for it and you daren’t complain to the waiter in case he spits in your dessert so…….”

I tuned her out and tuned into what was quite a good idea. Yes. Dinner a deux, romantic music of the stereo instead of the TV, time to eat a lovingly prepared meal that didn’t include baked beans, cheesy potatoes and the words “no you can’t, not until we’ve finished eating”. Yes. I like the sound of that.

Onto the next stage.

“Scuse me, do you know what the symbol, you know the thing is for a seven year anniversary?” Janey grabbed hold of a passing waitress who didn’t know what the hell she was talking about. “You?” Janey directed this at a man who was waiting for a hot chocolate with cream. He shook his head and looked quite scared at being spoken to by a glossy, overly tanned blonde woman wearing a T-shirt that read “Don’t worry, I’ve got weeks to go yet!”.

“I think it’s tin?” said a woman at the adjacent table and glanced at her companion for confirmation. “Don’t be RIDICULOUS Dora, it’s wool for a seven year anniversary, Wool!” her companion barked, looking as if she could give my mother in law a run for her money.

“Wool. There you go. You could get him a nice……jumper” Janey sniggered before delving into her bag and going into a flurry of texting. “There, I’ve just told David, it’s all sorted.”

I returned home at half past eight to find David sitting on the sofa poring through a recipe book. Whilst he looked a bit confused at being told by his wife’s cousin that he was to enjoy a romantic anniversary dinner with said wife, he had tackled it gamely. “You do the main course, I’ll do dessert!” he said.

Our anniversary is on Monday and I’ve got just the three days to perfect David’s choice of main course (Beef Wellington) while he goes shopping for ice-cream for our dessert. AND he’ll get raspberry ripple which I detest. And I didn’t even buy him a jumper. Great.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Rumbled

All is chaos in the Nunhead Mum household. Amelia, who was staying this weekend, decided that Mac was of an age to learn that Santa doesn't exist. I think he drove her insane worrying about the possibility that He wouldn't be able to land on the roof if Marjorie got her way with her blow up sleigh. She didn't actually say that he didn't exist but skirted round it before saying "Well, he won't be visiting you anyway" which is far worse because Mac spent the whole of Saturday demanding to know, alternately upset and angry, why Santa won't be coming "haven't I been a good enough boy mummy?". We managed to talk him round and give Amelia a bit of a tongue lashing which sent her to her room at ten past five on Saturday - she didn't put in an appearance until the start of the Rememberance Service on Sunday and even then she looked rather shamefaced.

The dogs (Junior in particular) got into their food cupboard this morning and have plundered not only their supply of Bonios but their Christmas Pets At Home advent calendars. Junior ran around the house clutching his and making excited squeaking noises. I managed to get a pic (above) before I removed it from his drooling jaws. As I type, Senior Dog is lying with his head against the cupboard in case it "pops" open again. It's my fault. It's a tricky door, you have to lift and pull hard to open it and then lift and shove to close it, usually with a sharp hip movement. As I was entranced with a squirrel doing a fandango in the garden this morning I failed to do the shoving.

David, on hearing the news of a wayward cupboard, went to his "workroom" (shed) and came back with some sandpaper and a screwdriver. He fiddled with the door for five minutes, got bored and promised to "get a man in".

So. Tomorrow after school, Mac and I are writing our letters to Santa. Mac's Christmas list comes straight out of Toys R Us with a bit of Argos thrown in for good measure. Mine can all easily be purchased from here or here and I plan to drop a huge hint for a little something from either here or here. "Do we put them up the chimelly mummy?" Mac asked as I tucked him in tonight. He was fighting to stay awake and squinted at me in the half light. "No darling, we'll post it on the way to school on Wednesday" I said, making a mental note to put my list under David's pillow......

Rumbled

All is chaos in the Nunhead Mum household. Amelia, who was staying this weekend, decided that Mac was of an age to learn that Santa doesn't exist. I think he drove her insane worrying about the possibility that He wouldn't be able to land on the roof if Marjorie got her way with her blow up sleigh. She didn't actually say that he didn't exist but skirted round it before saying "Well, he won't be visiting you anyway" which is far worse because Mac spent the whole of Saturday demanding to know, alternately upset and angry, why Santa won't be coming "haven't I been a good enough boy mummy?". We managed to talk him round and give Amelia a bit of a tongue lashing which sent her to her room at ten past five on Saturday - she didn't put in an appearance until the start of the Rememberance Service on Sunday and even then she looked rather shamefaced.

The dogs (Junior in particular) got into their food cupboard this morning and have plundered not only their supply of Bonios but their Christmas Pets At Home advent calendars. Junior ran around the house clutching his and making excited squeaking noises. I managed to get a pic (above) before I removed it from his drooling jaws. As I type, Senior Dog is lying with his head against the cupboard in case it "pops" open again. It's my fault. It's a tricky door, you have to lift and pull hard to open it and then lift and shove to close it, usually with a sharp hip movement. As I was entranced with a squirrel doing a fandango in the garden this morning I failed to do the shoving.

David, on hearing the news of a wayward cupboard, went to his "workroom" (shed) and came back with some sandpaper and a screwdriver. He fiddled with the door for five minutes, got bored and promised to "get a man in".

So. Tomorrow after school, Mac and I are writing our letters to Santa. Mac's Christmas list comes straight out of Toys R Us with a bit of Argos thrown in for good measure. Mine can all easily be purchased from here or here and I plan to drop a huge hint for a little something from either here or here. "Do we put them up the chimelly mummy?" Mac asked as I tucked him in tonight. He was fighting to stay awake and squinted at me in the half light. "No darling, we'll post it on the way to school on Wednesday" I said, making a mental note to put my list under David's pillow......

Thursday, 6 November 2008

An update update

Queen Bee Mummy doesn’t “really see” our problem. She actually said as much when about ten mummies caught her by the school gates on Monday morning. She didn’t know what we were all worried about when she left 30 children in the care of Malinka the au pair and her alcohol impaired boyfriend. So it was dark! So they’d turned all the lights off and cranked up a selection of horror DVDs and scary music. So Erica was left alone to eat all of the lemon tarts and spent the whole weekend clutching her stomach and groaning. “I really do think you’re all over exaggerating!” Queen Bee Mummy said as she bounced on her ludicrously high heels and fixed us all with her baby blues.

Harumph. I shall be monitoring Mac’s attendance at any future parties, as will Dawn who said the only plus side of the whole thing was that Jonathan is now treating her like a human being and not Evil Stepmother Who Is Evil.

Bea is in love with her new temporary au pair Flavia and is already unable to envision life without her. “As long as she’s not in love with me if you know what I mean. She’s one of them” Bea accompanied this comment with a raised eyebrow but is relieved because said sassy sexy 23 year old Italian curvy momma will not be making eyes at hubby Stephen. Stephen is, apparently, sulking. “She can make pasta. From scratch” Bea continued as we walked around Sainsburys Dulwich last night selecting nibbles for the Bonfire Night party this weekend. Stephen, fed up of standing at the foot of the garden and taking his life into his hands by setting off rockets, has hired a professional firework company to take care of everything. “It’s going to rival the Beijing Olympics closing ceremony!” beamed my lovely sister.

Mac doesn’t like school any more because he didn’t get a Well Done Card for writing his name. “Billy did but it’s not fair mummy”. Somehow I think it’s my fault for giving him a long name with the last letter of the alphabet in it. In fact, I know it’s my fault. Talking of names, the newest arrival has already had his rather majestic name (Frederick) reduced to Freddie, Fred, Freds, Fred-Fred, Freddie Cupcake and Frodo. The last name is from his devoted father who thinks it’s hilarious. The boy himself is wondering what the hell he’s got himself into, with a father who is reduced to tears of mirth every five minutes and a mother who keeps checking his breathing.

Marjorie Stewart has emptied the Christmas department of both Harrods and Selfridges. She was excitedly telling Mac this afternoon about the inflatable santa, sleigh and reindeer she’s got for her roof when he stopped her by raising a hand. “If you put it on the roof, how is Santa going to land?” he asked. She looked at me. I ignored her. “Well, he doesn’t land on my roof, but he’ll land on yours” she reassured him. “Will there be room?” he asked, peering up at our adjacent roofing area. This concern developed into teatime when he wanted me to go up and measure the roof to see if it’s big enough. “If it won’t fit she can’t do it mummy” he said as he sipped on his peppermint tea. “I mean it” he added, a touch of steel in his voice. On Monday we all received a letter from the head teacher informing us that this term would be about “letting the children find their own individual spirit and voice and allowing them to make their own decisions and put forward valid arguments for these decisions”.

Four days in and it’s working already.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

It's a boy!

Frederick James Mitchell-Johnson was born at 10.11pm, weighing 9 pounds 2 ounces. Mum is fine, wincing at her stitches and threatening never to have another one. Dad is handing out cigars to complete strangers and, according to Lydia, crying rivers over "my lad, my boy, my son". The midwife informed Lydia that "all being well" she'd be going home tomorrow. Lydia immediately pleaded with her to either let her stay "for a little bit" or "give me a midwife to take home with me".

I hope Janey has another girl, I went mad buying pink stuff because the ring and her hair told me Lyds was having a girl!

Is half term over yet?

Is it? Please say it is. Not that I haven't enjoyed my week with Mac but come on, I've done my bit....I need to have a lie down at least until next weekend. The reasons for my weariness (and need to have the tin of Roses no more than five foot away from me at all times) are many and varied and look a little bit like this:

Monday
Woke up to freezing cold bedroom and David looking puzzled draped in a towel, his face covered in shaving foam. "We've got no hot water" he said, tentatively touching the radiator in the bedroom. The boiler had decided to choose that particular time to break down, stop working, give up the ghost or, as the boilerman put it "refuse to power up". Suffice to say it took three phone calls to secure the boilerman's attendance. Mac was not happy as he wanted to go to "the park and chase leaves and things". At the mention of the word "park" all three dogs started running round the house excitedly knocking over a pile of newly ironed clothes and my yukka plant. Charlie rang and, on hearing my tale of woe, offered to take all four off my hands. She returned an hour later looking like she'd been dragged through a hedge backwards and as if she couldn't wait to get back to work the following day. I was on the Baileys (purely to keep warm you understand) at 4pm. Three separate lots of trick or treaters tonight: I told them they were early. I wanted to tell them to bugger off out of it.

Tuesday
Amelia rang to ask if Mac was invited to any Halloween parties this year. I lied and said no: she is convinced that he will become a Master of the Black Arts if he so much as touches a pumpkin. "Good, I'm pleased you've seen sense" she said. "Yes, he definitely isn't going to any Halloween parties this year!" I chortled. I should have realised that this comment would bite me on the bum. Which it did. Twice. Mac was distraught because I had cancelled his attendance at Queen Bee Mummy's party. It took me half an hour to convince him that I had only said that for "Granny as she doesn't like you going to parties like that so please don't tell her". He gazed at me mournfully and sulkily for the rest of the day. Ye Gods. Two separate lots of trick or treaters (one gaggle from last night) - I didn't open the door, just peered through the window.

Wednesday
David has a cold. No, scratch that. He has flu and if he's not careful it could turn into pleurisy. This latter comment was because I asked him to get the washing out of the machine. Naturally he's at home on the sofa, demanding Lemsips, tissues and chicken soup. His office keeps ringing up with queries and he put on a "sick" voice each time. I hope to God no-one from his company read this blog. Amelia rang to double check I hadn't relented on the Halloween front and I was able to lie comprehensively as Mac was out at his friends for the day. David looked puzzled but was distracted by Loose Women. Amelia rang back while I was basting the chicken for dinner and David informed her that Mac was looking forward to his party on Friday night. She has denounced me as a liar and someone who is happy for her child to consort with evil. Four batches of trick or treaters, including one "child" who was six foot tall and had a deep baritone voice. Bea rang: So Thin Now You Can See Bones Au Pair has informed the family that she's returning to Argentina for "zee wintair months". "She's booked a flight for Saturday" Bea shrieked.

Thursday
Lydia was due to give birth on the 28th. Two days on and Matt is worried for her sanity. "She's talking about suing the midwife who worked out her dates" he said in a worried tone of voice after he'd deposited her on the sofa. David hadn't wanted to move from his supine position but she gave him A Look. "Is that normal, this aggression?" he went on as we made tea. I assured it him was: I threatened to punch the stick thin nurse who told me that I was only four inches dilated when I'd been huffing and puffing for six hours. Charlie rang to see if Mac wanted any blood for the party: "I can get hold of loads". As she works in a hospital, this worried me slightly but she assured me that Fat Reg, one of the porters, could get me some at cost from a theatrical costumier. I declined. No trick or treaters tonight but I had to clean eggs and flour off of the front door.
Friday
Mac in a state of hyper excitement. He requested a mobile phone for Christmas so he can talk to his friends. I laughed, he refused to eat breakfast. I refused to give in and he went hungry. David, rallying from his sick bed, offered to take him out for a McDonalds lunch. Queen Bee Mummy rang (how did she get my number) and requested a prompt arrival at 4pm and a prompt pick up at 7pm. "Three hours of the little darlings is more than enough!" she tinkled down the phone. Dawn rang to check if it was still okay for Jonathan to stay over, swiftly followed by Red Haired Mummy who rang to check if was still okay for James to stay over. Had forgotten my rash promise of the week before but couldn't back down. Went out for child friendly food and witnessed a mass frenzy in the Seasonal aisle of Sainsburys, one child was so weighed down with Halloween props she could barely walk. David deposited Mac at the party and returned to find me with my hands in the Roses tin. "You promised you'd save them for trick or treaters!" he said. "I lied" I replied. I did in fact run out and resorted to giving the late trick or treaters apples, grapes and satsumas. This did not go down too well, as you can imagine.

David returned with a hyper Jonathan, a shy James and a subdued Mac. After polishing off cheese, beans and jacket potatoes we sat down to watch Eastenders, Mac still dressed as Frankenstein (somewhere along the line he'd lost his green face paint but his checked shirt looked so sweet), James in his dusty black suit and Jonathan in his Scream mask and hooded cape. I attempted to draw conversation out of my unusually quiet son but all he would say is "don't like it". Subtle attempts at getting Jonathan to tell all were met with "sssh, am watching this!". He is addicted to Coronation Street. James bobbed his head down every time I spoke to him.

Bedtime at 9pm and the boys wanted the bedroom light left on, and the one on the landing and "you won't go out and leave us mummy will you" was uttered about fifteen times between teeth brushing, bath and bed. I found Queen Bee Mummy's number on my mobile and asked her how Mac was at the party. "Oh fine, he had a whale of a time, they all did!" she breezed "Must dash, just going out with hubby!". Found three small boys in the marital bed at ten past one. I rearranged them neatly and David ended up squashed in Mac's bed and said he "scared himself shitless" when he woke up at half past five and came face to face with the giant Scooby Doo stuffed animal that Mac sleeps with.

Saturday
Mac brighter but still clingy. Rang Queen Bee Mummy again and got Malinka the au pair from Romania. "All went good, lots of fun and scream and spooked things in dark" she informed me. Dawn arrived to collect Jonathan and the previously self assured four year old threw himself into the arms of his step mother (he usually treats her with disdain) and pleaded with her not to leave him again. When Red Haired Mummy arrived James burst into tears and asked if the ghosts had gone home yet. It doesn't take a genius to work it out, does it? Queen Bee Mummy had buggered off and left thirty children enjoying a Halloween party in the care of Malinka from Romania who was dressed as "a red witch" and her boyfriend named, we think, Vlad who was dressed as "Drackleear" and there was "all dark and no lights on and Billy was crying and Erica was eating all the food". We all three resolved to tackle Queen Bee Mummy about this on Monday. Amelia rang. David was told, on pain of death, not to reveal what had happened.

Today
Bea is interviewing a new au pair tomorrow "Flavia from Milan, she sounds excellent" who used to au pair for a "titled family". Bea has recruited a team of cleaners to do the house from top to bottom. Lydia's waters broke just as the Eastenders omnibus started and, as I type, she's puffing and panting in a hospital bed and threatening Matt's "dangly bits" with some violence. The Grandfather To Be keeps checking his mobile phone every two minutes, the Uncle To Be (it took me a while to work it out too) is asking what it's like to have a baby, does it hurt and Granny Joanna?
Well, I'm eating a Roses orange creme and plotting my revenge against the woman who has, just possibly, made Amelia right for once.

All about me

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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.