Sunday, 27 July 2008

Thank you, ta

The lovely Valley Girl over at Nappy Valley (a new blog for my list and a lot to catch up on!) has given me an award for which I'm very grateful. This is the first chance I've had to put it on my side bar thanks to my mother in law, an overheated four year old who wants me to "turn off the heat mummy", a monstrous present from said MIL, a new (and unwanted) fishy arrival and three dogs who all want to get into Mac's paddling pool at the same time AND at the same time as Mac

This is what I have to do.
1. Put the logo on my blog. Easy peasy!
2. Add a link to the person who awarded you. Done!
3. Nominate five other blogs. Simple! These are Aims, Flower Fairies and Fairy Cakes, Dulwich Divorcee, Sheesh and the Bush Babies
4. Add links to those blogs on your blog. See above.....
5. Leave a message for your nominee on their blogs. A work in progress.....but, guys, if you see this when over here, feel free to take the award!

Now, I'm off to referee between Senior and Middle Dog in the garden yet at the same time avoid Marjorie and Frank (who arrived back this morning from their daughter's house "she's a lesbian y'know, does wonderful things with pasta!") and are keen to tell me all about their week away. David and Mac are in the bath (male bonding, such a wonderful thing) and I've promised to conjure up an exciting and lovely tea when all I really want to do is lie down in front of the fan with an ice filled glass of Pimms in the altogether and just do nothing.

Did I just overshare there?

Friday, 25 July 2008

Horror of horrors

Amelia is here. She claims that she "told me" on Monday when she left. She didn't because had she actually told me I would have been moaning about it to you all week. She's here to "enjoy the start of Mac's summer holiday" - I must admit I checked the size of her suitcase to ensure she wasn't here for the remaining five weeks but she only had her usual sized case that indicates a mere weekend stay. Not that she'll be any bother she assures me. She'll be out with Jack Next Door tomorrow at Eltham Palace and then "they" are going out to dinner tomorrow night so that she "doesn't interfere with your routine" (this was said with a sniff) and then on Sunday she thought she might take Mac to the petshop to buy some presents for Becks the bunny and Goldie the goldfish. "Jack has agreed to take us so you don't have to bother yourselves" she added as she ran a finger along my work surface

David was not at all impressed that his Friday night was to be ruined by a) his mothers presence and b) his mothers cooking. "I wanted an Indian takeaway!" he said when I rang him to tell him that she was rummaging around the fridge. "Well, I think she's planning on a roast" I whispered as I watched her slam the beef I'd bought for Sunday lunch onto the chopping board.

Still. Mac's happy his Granny is here. But then a four year old would be quite happy with the prospect of unlimited sugar, junk food, rubbish television, backchat and the knowledge that if he says "I want it", Granny will get it for him.

"Now listen to me" I said to him in a vaguely threatening tone as he looked for his Bob The Builder DVD. "Yes mummy?" said my angelic child, head tilted to one side and pensive look on his face. "Granny will attempt to undermine my authority by filling you with sweets and crisps and fizzy pop and will give you everything you ask for. This isn't right Mackenzie, in fact it's very wrong and naughty of Granny to do this when she knows that you can't have any of these things. And it's not nice because in a way she's being mean to mummy by doing this. So. When Granny offers you sweets or crisps or lemonade or agrees to buy you whatever you want what do you say?"

"Please Granny, thank you" he answered.

It's my fault. I pitched it wrong.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Summer breeze

Ever had such a good idea that it wakes you, in head clutching oh-my-God-I’m-so-fantastic clarity, at 2am? To know that it’s such a good idea that you want to ring everyone and tell them, particularly those you want to rope in on your scheme? Do these good ideas actually ever pan out? Yes? Well, you’re luckier than I am.

Picture the scene, if you will. 2am, Wednesday morning, David snoring alongside me, Gladys making noises in the bathroom (too much to hope she was actually cleaning it – if it were my mum it would have been done) and contented sleep talking coming from Mac’s room along the hall. I’d just been woken up by a dream. In my dream I was walking along a never ending beach, seagulls squawking overhead, the sun beating down, the smell of the sea, the sounds of waves breaking on the shore and the knowledge that I was heading for a right royal feed up for my lunch.

It was then that it hit me: what’s to stop me making that a reality? Pack up a picnic lunch, Mac and the dogs and head off to the wide blue yonder for the day. David would be working in a stuffy office whilst his wife and child scoffed candy floss, got a nice tan and breathed in fresh air. Hah!

It was barely 7 o’clock when I rang Charlie and asked her if she fancied bunking off work for the day. I didn’t need to ask twice and, one quick “I’b do dick” phone call to work later, she’d be with me. Lydia. Lyd’s could do with some sea air, good for her and the baby. Eliza and the kids could do with a break too: I rang her and she screamed down the phone. Ahah! David grumbled that he had back to back meetings which merely renewed my glee at escaping.

Mac was up, washed, dressed and ready by half seven. The dogs, sensing adventure, were whining by the front door. The assembled travellers were on my doorstep by ten past eight and responsibilities handed out. It was agreed that Mac would travel with Charlie, Eliza, Ashley and Jack and I’d take Lydia and Bump and the dogs with me. Charlie had a hastily made shopping list in her mitt along with a cool box and bottle bag – she, Eliza and the kids would stop off at Sainsbury’s on their way in so we gave them a half an hour head start. Destination: Hastings.

We’d just slid off the M25 onto the A21 when I remembered Nora. A phone call was made to both Jack Next Door and then Jane Opposite - however did we cope without mobile phones? – Jack to use my housekeys to collect the Stewart’s keys (he has a cat allergy) for delivery to Jane. Lydia reported that Jane was keen to get in and “have a good root round”. I managed to swallow down any concerns I had about that and reminded her to feed the cat while she were there.

Hastings beach, 11am and no sign of Charlie and Eliza, my son and (more importantly according to Lydia) the food. They had got lost and were coming cross country. Six heavily sugared ring doughnuts and an hour later still no sign. Another call revealed they were “half an hour away”. “How do they know that they’ll only be half an hour away if they’re lost?” Lydia asked as she sprawled on the shingle. I could feel my brilliant idea ebbing away fast.

At ten to one we got a phone call telling us they were in Rye Harbour and did we fancy meeting up with them there? “Charlie’s found the pub and won’t budge” Eliza reported before screeching “Mac! Watch out for the cars!” I was packed up, off the beach and in the car before Lydia had the chance to finish her chips. She watched mournfully as they were attacked by a flock of seagulls.

Rye Harbour and no parking spaces, thankfully we were in my car so I managed to wedge it very precariously on the edge of a bona fide row of cars. Mac was incredibly pleased to see us and chose to show this by hugging Senior Dog at length. Senior Dog had caught the whiff of the shellfish stall and was keen to get over there for a cockle or six.

Charlie had indeed found the pub, several glasses littered the table and she had a pub food menu in her hand – they never made Sainsburys. “We got lost practically the minute we left your road” Charlie whispered as Eliza took the kids down for a paddle. “These are alcoholic drinks, I’m coming back with you” she added, clutching onto my hand, a crazed look on her face.

Still. The pub lunch was nice, if a little overpriced. Mac’s burger could have doubled up as a Frisbee but it was my fault for asking it to be well done. “I liked the ketchup though mummy” he said, shooting me a grin that is so like David’s.

We had a walk along the river, with frequent pitstops for the Pregnant One. “This baby is sitting on my bladder” was a regular complaint, as was “is it me or is it clammy?” . The smell from the far end of the river was enough to stop us proceeding any further so we turned back and got a rollicking from a riverside resident who was fed up of “people just turning up and walking about”. I suggested that if he didn’t like people walking about at what was, to all intents and purposes, the foot of his garden, then he shouldn’t have bought the house in the first place. He was shocked rigid at this and mouthed like a surprised haddock.

We had exhausted all that Rye Harbour had to offer. The dogs were wet and sandy and tired, Mac wanted to “go home and lie down”, Charlie had decamped all of her stuff (jazzy sandals, suntan cream, big packet of Murray Mints and ginormous handbag) into my car and ejected Lydia’s travelling accoutrements (neck pillow, packet of ginger biscuits, baby wipes, cooling spray and, bizarrely, a headscarf) onto the gravel of the car park. Eliza had caught the sun rather effectively down her left side and was “dealing” with Jack who was grizzling and kept throwing his Space Donkey out of the pram at his sister, who had been sick twice since lunch. Lydia was wondering if she should go to the loo now or be dropped off as we left before deciding to do both.

And me? I was stuffed full of (rather excellent) chips, hot, tired and irritable, worrying about Mac being on the receiving end of projectile vomiting but not able to face the thought of swapping all of the car seats into my car (you need a degree and a double jointed body) or driving Eliza’s tank of a people carrier so that I could be with him. “I’ll be okay mummy” he said bravely, with the air of someone going into battle as he stared into the distance. The dogs, who always panic when we’re about to leave anywhere in case we leave them behind, were pleased that I wasn’t abandoning them to Charlie who, after drinking her sixth vodka and lemonade, was singing “Oh I do like to be beside the seaside”.

The dogs, Mac and I have spent today in the garden, drinking cool drinks and eating Doritos 'n' dip and it's been lovely. The dogs have taken the shade of the gazebo as their own, Mac has created an epic story using just the washing line, several pegs and many of his action figures and I've read nearly all of Faces. So, the next time anyone hears me say “ooh, I’ve just had a really good idea” that involves actually going anywhere, run for the hills.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008


It will come as no surprise to most of you that I love gossip magazines. Well, magazines in general but particularly OK and Hello and the very fantabulous heat which has it's very own website. Go on, ask me anything about LiLo, any of the Hilton's or who has appeared in the "Where are they now" section recently. Bea fears for my lack of taste and keeps trying to push me in the direction of Vogue, David knows not to disturb me when I'm tucked up in bed on a Tuesday night reading it and Mac loves me singing this.

One of my favourite bits is the back page and the "10 questions we ask everyone". In this they get top telly totty (male and female), the occasional Z-lister or current hot shot to answer ten questions about themselves and I've reproduced it (with a minor amendment) below with my own answers.....please, give it a try yourself, go on, it's fun!

Where did you wake up this morning? At home, at ten past five this morning because the foxes were having a party in my garden

Apart from your home and car, what is the most expensive thing you've ever bought? A camcorder that I don't get enough use out of

When was the last time you cried? A few weeks ago now, out of frustration because nothing was going right

Who was the last person you received a text from and what did it say? From Charlie, during Holby tonight - it said "We love Connie Beauchamp!"

What do you dislike most about yourself? I worry too much and find that the glass is always half empty

When were you last naked in front of another person? This morning when Junior Dog burst into the bathroom as I was stepping out of the shower

Been chatted up recently? No, unless you can count the postman who offered to scratch my back because I had an itch and couldn't reach it

If you were invisible for the day what would be the first thing you'd do? I'd have a mooch around Ayres and "spirit" away some of their lovely cupcakes!

What's been the most embarrassing moment of your life? Too many to mention but recently driving in the car, singing along to Abba and not realising that I'd left the window open and was being applauded by a bunch of roadmenders

Monday, 21 July 2008

Something kinda ooh

My mother in law has just left. Literally, just this minute. I was booting up the PC as she headed down the path, lugging her ginormous suitcase and shouting promises to call me when she got home so I’d know she’d arrived safely. I’ve had more than enough of her, she’s more than flesh and blood can stand and I’m so cross right now I could actually spit. But I won’t.

She’s done nothing in particular to make me cross, she never does, it’s just little things. She arrived on Friday night and promptly started moaning that I hadn’t closed the window in “her” bedroom and so the scent from Jack Next Door’s lawn mowing session was “in the room and will play havoc with my sinuses”. I think their love affair (please God let it only be platonic) is hotting up a tad, lots of lustful (eurgh, no!) looks over the fence on Friday evening while he was raking and she was commenting on my washing.

I’d planned a picnic lunch for Saturday in Dulwich Park which was scuppered by her insistence that it was going to rain “any minute now, best to stay in and plan the evening meal”. David – who doesn’t like picnics at the best of times – looked quite happy with this and suggested we get the barbecue out. Mac was overcome with excitement at this news and even more so when David suggested he and Mac go out “shopping for dinner” – this means Haribo and playing fast and loose on the old behaviour front. I suggested that Amelia go with them but she refused point blank, suggesting that as we weren’t using the oven she could help me clean it. I toyed with the idea of getting Jack Next Door to come over to distract her but didn’t fancy playing gooseberry.

I received my last minute instructions from Marjorie (“two meals a day for Nora and could you feed the fish in our bedroom twice a day and make sure she can’t get in there to fall into the tank”) on the doorstep on Sunday morning and, the minute she left to check she’d packed the boiled sweets, Jane Opposite appeared asking if she could come in with me when I went in to the Stewarts. Actually, I was pleased about that because the wretched animal only eats tuna, pilchards or sardines and I HATE those particular fishy items. We made a date for 5pm and I went back to the living room to find Amelia standing on a ladder (where she got it from I’ll never know) taking down my curtains. “I thought they were looking a bit dingy dear, best to get them in the washing machine” My assertion that they were dry clean only started off a lecture about buying items that couldn’t be put in the washing machine as it was ridiculous and a false economy “all that money when a spot of Daz and a drop of Comfort would see you right”. She scoured every inch of both curtains to find the washing instructions, couldn’t, so deduced that they were in fact suitable for the washing machine. They’ve been washed, they’re dry and four inches shorter than they were. Still, it doesn’t matter apparently because “long length curtains are just so dated”. It was at this point that I stopped caring. She knew my guard was down when she suggested she make a steak and kidney pudding for dinner - “David loves his puds” - and I just said "yeah, whatever".

Jane and I went into the Stewarts house as arranged, me with the intention of not getting mauled and not vomiting in the tuna and she with the intention of snooping. “Bloody hell, that smells rank!” she said as I opened a tin of tuna at arms length, mindful that I shouldn't be splashed with any of the liquid. Nora gazed at me from her position on the draining board – how hygienic, she was practically leaning on Frank’s “Policemen Do It With Their Helmets On” mug.

“OMIGOD!” Jane shrieked from upstairs. Now, I’d just like to put on record that I do not snoop in other peoples houses – not even those belonging to my family (just in case any of you wanted me to pop in and water your begonias) but, come on, I was practically being invited to have a look round. “What?” I yelled as I all but threw the bowl of tuna on Nora’s mat. “OMIGOD!” she shrieked again. All sorts of thoughts crowded my brain. Was this in fact a set up? Had Marjorie gone off to see her daughter leaving Frank naked and tied up upstairs as part of their “discovering each other” routine. They do a lot of that.

I bounded up the stairs just as Jane was backing out of the spare bedroom, a look of horror on her face. “What? What? What?” I demanded, peering round the door and coming face to face with a cross between an Ann Summers warehouse and torture chamber. Jane was flapping her hands in front of her face, her three inch nails threatening to take her nose off. “I mean, it’s gross! Can you imagine Marjorie wearing this?” she said as she braved the room again, holding up a silky wisp of a negligee that was draped over their lovers swing. “Perhaps Frank wears it” I said, which set her off again, shrieking and running round in circles. “Come on, let’s go” I said. “Don’t you have to feed their fish?” she said, raising an eyebrow and reaching out for the door handle.

What else could I do but make a mental note to slip into the house under the cloak of darkness for the rest of the week so that Jane couldn’t partake in any more snooping. I wouldn’t put it past her to make a comment to the Stewarts, something innocuous like “So, all that PVC in your spare room, easy to wipe down is it?”

So far so good. Huge bed (natch) covered in chintz and throw pillows, not quite four poster but with a huge phallic looking headboard. Dressing table covered in perfume and aftershave bottles, mirrored wardrobes (we both automatically looked up to see if the ceiling was mirrored) and a gigantic fish tank with about a dozen or so tropical fish buzzing about. “Hm, just as I imagined” Jane said as she perched on the side of the bed we deduced to be Frank’s: copy of an A-Z, handful of change, manly box of tissues. “Meaning?” I said as I chucked a few fish flakes in willy-nilly. “Well…….” Jane began, standing up and moving round to Marjorie’s side of the bed (a Jilly Cooper, tub of primrose oil hand cream, flowery box of tissues) to join me over at the fish tank. I didn’t hear the end of the sentence because she started making an odd noise. I dusted my hands off and caught sight of the cause of her splutterings.

A box, the kind you can get in Woollies or IKEA or any supermarket, stood open and proudly at the Marjorie’s side of the bed filled with every kind of , ahem, toy you can imagine. And no doubt a few you couldn’t. “Eurgh, eurgh, don’t look at it!” Jane screamed as she dragged me out of the room, falling over Nora as she we both shot out onto the landing. It was a full five minutes before we regained the power of speech, each time we looked at the other we were off again. We’d decided that we’d keep this to ourselves “Can you imagine it?” Jane kept saying as I locked the front door. “I’d rather not actually” I responded and went home to find Amelia dishing up an insipid looking steak and kidney pudding.

Unfortunately I was then gripped with the giggles and could hear double entendres in everything. Amelia’s suggestion that I take two mounds of mash (she serves her mash using an icecream scoop) had me in fits of giggles much to Mac’s amusement.

And when she said “what’s got into her?” I had to leave the table.

Friday, 18 July 2008


I was mid mooch around my favourite blogs yesterday afternoon when the doorbell rang. I was forced to answer it because Mac was shouting "Shall I answer it mummy and tell them that you're not in?". It was Marjorie, resplendent in a clashing floral shirtwaister "You're not going anywhere next week are you?" she said, clutching my forearm and squeezing it tightly. I said that I hadn't planned to stay housebound for the entire week but would be in the general locality, yes. She did a little bouncing dance "Great, could you look after Nora for us? We've been invited down to our daughters for the week on Sunday and we could do with a break and, oh, you are an angel!". She was gone before I could say no. It's not that I don't like cats because I do. I think it's quite sweet the way they purr at you and gaze unblinkingly and I have to remember not to indulge in a little bit of rough and tumble like I do with the dogs - one false move and the cat would be toast but for either Senior, Middle or Junior it's a right royal bundle of a play fight. There's just one problem though: Nora is a little bitch.

Nora (formerly Nero until they took him/her to the vets and found out he was a she) was Marjories's Valentines present from Frank. The cat has no discipline at all and no boundaries either. She thinks nothing of driving Junior Dog mad by sitting on top of the shed and twitching her tail at him. She attacks you (all four paws complete with needle sharp claws) as you walk past her and hisses if you dare to go out into the garden and she's there. Middle Dog is not usually fazed by cats at all, Senior Dog couldn't normally give a toss either way but all three panic if Nora is out at the same time as they are.

"I wouldn't be at all surprised if that cat has got 666 printed on its arse" Jane Opposite said at the last TANA meeting when she caught a claws-out right hook on her bare ankle. So, I'm dressed accordingly for the visit to the Stewarts and a "getting to know you session" for me and Nora. I'm wearing jeans, boots, polo neck, long sleeves and have drunk enough Pimms to numb any savagings that I'm likely to get.

Great minds

No, I haven't gone crazy.....this is, apparently, a bona fide test to see how intelligent people are. Despite the fact that it was in an email from Lydia and sandwiched between "Do you want a BIGGER penis?" and "Plees send me money to helping my childrens like teach" in my inbox.

Cna yuo raed tihs? Olny 55 plepoe out of 100 can.

I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

In the eye of the beholder

I had a mad moment yesterday - I’m often gripped with these bursts of energy and inspiration that disappear almost as quickly as they arrive. I’ve been feeling a bit down and frumpy recently, Lydia’s insistence on calling me Granny every time she sees me is not helping much. She finds it hilarious, I find it all a bit tedious – I’m younger than her. I was also a bit hacked off at Janey and Darren’s anniversary party because I felt like a pelican surrounded by all the exotic and pampered birds of paradise. “Darling, you look fine” said Bea as she admired her glossy French polished nails. Fine. Not lovely, not beautiful, just fine.

When you look in your make up bag what do you see? The gorgeous array of Mac colours that Janey has? The complete Boots Natural range like Eliza’s? A mix of Rimmel, L’Oreal and Miss Sixty that Charlie has? Or broken eyeshadow compacts, sharpened-to-within-an-inch-of-their-life eyeliner pencils, three (empty) tubes of mascara and a lipstick circa 1997? The latter, in case you hadn’t already guessed, is mine.

Mum always used to tell me that not wearing a lot of make-up as you grew up meant that you didn’t have to wear a lot of make up when you were older. She got by with a bare face unless she was going out "out" and then it was only eyeshadow and mascara. Bea has always impressed upon me the need to buy quality. Lydia manages with an age old block of mascara, a frequently washed brush and some face bronzer. When I tried face bronzer I looked like I’d been microwaved.

I love Avon: give me an Avon catalogue (old styley in the event of their online shop but even so), a pen, some paper and a cup of tea and I’m in heaven. No matter that I cover one side of A4 with the list of goodies that I want, cut it by at least half and then talk myself out of buying the three different shades of lip plumping lip gloss and end up with just some brown nail varnish, hand cream and their bubble bath.

I love wandering round the beauty counters too but am put off by the white suited ladies who pop up just as I’m drooling over the eye colour palettes and offer to make me over. Telling myself that they’re probably on commission on whatever they offload after the make-over does not in any way stop me thinking that they obviously think that I’m in need of a makeover. I scuttle away and end up buying another mascara and an entirely unsuitable lipstick.

I started out with good intentions whilst I was mooching around The Glades in Bromley. Mac was at Ben’s for the day and I was finding my feet as a lady of leisure. I had a coffee, a wander outside, spent ages in Waterstones looking for David’s birthday present and then moseyed on down to the glamour counter at Debenhams. Such an array of Clinique and Clarins that would bring Bea to her knees and tears of joy. I was promised by the display stands that I would “discover a natural flush of light airy colour” and David would discover I’d spent the best part of a hundred quid on make up that matches our pink bathroom exactly. An over-zealous, over-painted harpie (who looked a lot like Big Brother 9’s Lisa) was heading in my direction so I left, sharp exit stage left.

Into Boots and I felt more at home: L’Oreal, Rimmell, Number 7……safe cosmetics and no overly pushy sales people intent on telling me that the horrific shade of purple lipstick would suit me “beautifully”. I favour browns, purples and moss greens for my eyes, black “bog standard” mascara, simple safe eye pencils in either aubergine or brown and nude, non descript lipsticks and glosses. I toyed with the idea of buying an electric blue eye liner but my eye (and hands) were drawn to the liquid eyeliner, such a funky pot. Then I saw the most amazing eyeshadow compact that ranged from the softest, almost white green to the most vivid bottle green and threw it in my basket along with a trio of browns: sable, mink and mocha. Kate Moss raves about it so I bought one of these too. A pinky-brown lipstick found its way into my hot little mitt and my basket, as did a wonderfully scented make up removal liquid and some cotton wool pads. Eyelash curlers too (I was seriously enjoying myself despite the fact that the last time I used eyelash curlers I nearly yanked them all out) and a brand new make up bag that cost almost as much as the make up. Oh, and lip plumping lip gloss as I most definitely wasn’t born with it. Fake tan was added to the basket, along with this. Perusing the hair care aisle I rang Amanda at Shear Class who could fit me in on Friday “for some colours, Lorna can’t make her appointment cos she’s did her back in when she was in the Lake District”.

When I got home I unloaded my booty and sorted through my current make-up bag ditching the 1997 lipstick, all of my diddy eyeliner pencils, all three mascara tubes and all the eyeshadow compacts that, compared to my brand new ultra glossy ones, looked dingy and horrible. I sat there for a while, looking like a Bond villain, stroking the shiny exterior of the bag and emitting high pitched giggles.

David is worried about a) my sanity b) the bank balance and c) how far I’ll go on this self improvement scheme. He’s started saying derogatory things about plastic surgery and, today, rang me to tell me that his PA’s daughters breast implants "almost exploded” during her flight to Singapore.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Special treats

Mackenzie is currently debating what to wear for his Big Night Out. And the operative word is "night" - we are leaving shortly for a Night Out At The Cinema and to say he's a little bit excited about a) staying up "waaaaaaaaaay past his bedtime" b) being out "in the all dark mummy" and c) going to the "cimena with big people" is putting it mildly.

We could, of course, take the simple option of going to see Kung Fu Panda at a reasonable, child friendly hour, just like Cheeky Girl Skinny Au Pair who is taking Ian and Caitlin to see it tomorrow afternoon. But "simple" is not a term that's applied to this David thought it would be more of a treat if Mac was out and about during the hours he's normally tucked up and dreaming of being Buzz Lightyear.

It's funny how the unusual is such a treat. When I was seven years old I used to wish I could stay up until the same time as Bea....that yearned for 9pm bedtime was such a disappointment when I finally obtained it. Now of course I can go to bed whenever I want to but I really really want to be in bed while it's still light. Funny how things change.

Anyway. Matt and Lydia are joining us for this extravaganza, as is Charlie who is so pleased that she's able to see the high kicking panda, she's offered to pay for the pick n mix and popcorn.

Friday, 11 July 2008

And now, the end is near.....

Despite Mac telling us on a daily basis not to get too excited about his work, I found myself standing in front of a picture he’d painted of the three dogs in the park and weeping not so silently. Okay, so his bit of the wall wasn’t as over populated with his art work but I prefer to think that the teachers had gone for quality over quantity. His school diary was decorated with coloured in words and little pictures of houses and cars and was full of things that will embarrass the bum off him when I produce it at his 18th birthday party. “My daddy likes football” was one comment. “My mummy likes gatos” was another – ten for observation, nil for spelling. The sentence “I like dancing about” was the one that had me blubbing again. His teacher, Mrs Farquarhson, gazed down at him fondly when it was our turn to be granted an audience with her. “Mackenzie is a lovely boy, very helpful and not at all shy” she said at which point I clutched my child to me and was told to “gerroff mummy” in a very un-shy like way.

I had abandoned my Refreshments Stall for twenty minutes only to find pandemonium when I returned. Dawn was laughing her head off because the Cabal of Witches (as we now referred to Green Mummy and her pals) were all desperate to sample our weak lemon barley and Rich Tea biscuits but daren’t approach the stall because “we” were running it. As none of their husbands had turned up they had to remain un-refreshed. “You really must fill me in on them all one day.” Dawn insisted as we dispensed bonhomie and custard creams to the gathering hordes.

Mac’s first ever school report (which will, again, be used to terrorise him in later life) informed us of that he “has a logical approach to working with numbers” and “enjoys playing with words and has a vivid imagination which he uses to full effect”. The parting shot from the Headmistress set me off again: “Mackenzie will be sorely missed at nursery, his personality shines like a lighthouse”.

We headed home via Harvesters where we had promised we’d take Mac if his report was good – he beamed with delight when he saw my dad, Matthew and Lydia already there. “I’ve been good Grandad so I can have two salads” he pointed out as they went off to collect their bowls.

I’m not required to attend the End of Term Picnic today – merely provide food for it. Mac carried in my contribution of grapes, strawberries, mini bananas and two bottles of sparkling mineral water while I had a quick moment by the school gate. After today I won’t be taking him to and from nursery, I shall be taking him to and from primary school. After that secondary school and, and……I can’t think about it.

We’re buying his uniform soon – a letter has arrived from his new school detailing where we can buy all the clothing and equipment he’ll need. “Next up it’ll be school trips” Jane Opposite said when she caught me weeping over my lavender in the front garden. “And then girls – you wait until he’s interested in girls, you won’t get a minutes peace y’know” she said wisely, ducking down suddenly before saying “Oh Gawd, thought that was Belinda Hall” and standing upright again. “You think you’ve got problems?” she went on, peering down her cleavage and adjusting her bra. One of my girls wants a tattoo and the other one is in love with a skanky boy called Justin”.

It seems I have nothing to worry about – Mac’s thoughts on the subject of girls can be summed up in one word – “eurgh!”.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

School's (nearly) out

“Mummy, please don’t do anything strange today” Mac pleaded this morning as we entered the school gates for the penultimate time. He was, of course, heading for his day at nursery and I was heading to pick up my instructions for the Parents Evening tonight. I promised nothing as I waved him off, even though I’m bound to get the same request from David. School Secretary looked harassed when I joined the other mummies in the hall - I’m being shunned by Green Mummy, Overly Hearty Mummy, Keen to Fit In Mummy, Cagoule Mummy and Alex's Mummy Joy following the contretemps at the school gate last week and they moved, as one, to the opposite side of the room away from me. I was to be Refreshments with Dawn (“Mrs Ashley”) as my helper. Quite how I get myself into these situations I’m not sure.

The school summer fete last Saturday was interesting to say the least. I was in charge of the tombola and had to referee between three women, all of whom for some reason had the same colour winning raffle ticket, and all three of whom were determined to be the one to walk away with the Top Prize: a bottle of Harveys Bristol Cream Sherry.

Tonight is when we see just how prepared for Big School our little boy is. He’s been making casual comments of the “don’t worry if I haven’t got a very big bit of wall” variety which leads me to believe he hasn’t applied himself very well and David to fear for his place at the London Nautical. “Alex’s mummy has bought a special portfolio box for all of his artwork” I said this morning as we headed out the door. Mac gave me a look to suggest that, for his masterpieces, a Tesco’s carrier bag would do.

Tomorrow is his End of Term Picnic and we’ve all been asked to provide refreshments “home made if possible and understanding of any dietary requirements/restrictions”. I left Dawn pondering whether or not she could get away with a 2 litre bottle of Tizer and a packet of KP Nuts. I think she was joking.

“What will we be doing when I finish school mummy?” Mac asked me last night before giving me a verbal list that requires me to win a significant amount on the Lottery. It seems that only non-stop trips to the cinema, bowling alley, theme parks, amusement parks and the seaside will satisfy my child this summer. My friend Rosie has got a madcap idea of buying a tent and pitching it in a random field and getting back to nature. What’s really crazy is that she thinks that Mac and I should join her and Ben on this loopy excursion.

I haven’t told him, just in case he adds camping to his list of “must-do’s”.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Doubling up

I do hope you all forgive me but I'm combining two posts in one - it's not because I'm lazy but efficient (honest) and there are some remarkable similarities towards both the award and the tag. Bear with me, it's been a bizarre couple of days (a whole other post to follow) and I'm craving sugar like you would not believe. I currently have a nice hot steaming cup of tea with - count 'em - three sugars. I never take sugar in tea. I think I'm missing something.

Anyway. Where was I? Oh yes. The very fabulous Je Ne Regrette Rien awarded me this recently and I now have to 1) select five blogs that they consider deserving of the award. Criteria is creativity, design, interesting material, and for contributing to the blogging community in any language. 2) Include the name of the author and a link to the blog, for each award designated. 3) Award winner must display the award graphic and put the name and blog link of the blog author that gave the award 4) Include a link to the "Arte Y Pico" blog, in order to share the origin of the award.

Just as I was pondering this, as you do, the very lovely Millennium Housewife tagged me for providing a post that made her laugh and I now have to do the same: name five fave posts from five of my favourite blogs.

So I'm going to combine the two! Not only do I get to award five bloggers with the Arte Y Pico award, I also get to name my favourite posts from the same blogger.

Before you all lose the will to read on (I'm currently experiencing a sugar rush, David has just deposited two custard creams by my tea mug) here goes......remember nominees, not only do you get to display the award and pass it on, you also have to nominate five of your bestest posts from your bestest bloggers. Double whammy or what?

Okay......first up is the new yummy mummy Kelly with this post that made me laugh and want a baby shower of my "happy dances" feature in this household too! Kelly is what my mum would have called "a lovely young lady" and I eagerly await posts from her. A combination of moving, new mummy-hood and lack of broadband have all prevented her from blogging and I'm suffering from withdrawal symptoms.
Second is Sharon who writes wonderful honest posts all about her weight loss journey - an inspirational read that rings so many bells with me I feel like I've got tinnitus. This is my favourite post from Sharon - it was hard to choose.

Next up is Working Mum with this gem of a sounds oh so familiar. Mac is convinced that it's not the dodo that's extinct, it's Frodo. Working Mum is someone I aspire to......yet am convinced I come up wanting. And I'd kill to sing in a choir but have been told I have "no idea". Hm.
Fourthly (!) is Potty Mummy at The Potty Diaries.....again, so difficult to choose my best post as I was spoilt for choice but I had to go for this one because a) it sounds oh-so familiar. Mac now has black-out blinds at his window: it was the only way to stop him waking up even earlier than the lark. Potty Mummy juggles two small boys - I don't know how she does it.

And last, but by no means least, is Mya (Missing You Already), technically she's already been given the award by Je Ne Regrette Rien BUT as I was laughing out loud at this post (and the comments it provoked) I just had to, ahem, give it to her again. You'll understand my turn of phrase when you read this. Mya writes posts that have you rushing towards the end of them before going back again and reading them properly.
So, I hope you have enjoyed my choices........and enjoy choosing your own!

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

The Second Wives Club

I joined in with the badinage at the nursery gate this morning - I really wished I hadn't. It was one of those rare - for me anyway - mornings where everything went right. I had glossy, freshly washed-like-something-out-of-a-shampoo-advert hair, I felt thin and was wearing my skinny jeans that just about do up if I don't inhale and exhale too rigorously. Mac was up, washed, dressed, breakfasted and teeth brushed with nary a fuss (apart from when he wanted to brush Green Frogs teeth and I said he didn't have any which set off a debate about "why frogs don't have teeth") and we arrived on time with none of this screeching to a halt lark that I usually go in for.

"Not long now before they're all off at Big School!" Green Mummy said to the select few standing by the big iron gates as we watched our children file obediently into the building. She dabbed at her eyes with a worse-for-wear tissue. "I know, I'm taking Anna for her Walk Round on Monday" Cagoule Mummy said as she bounced the twins - Arthur and Andrew - in their pushchair. "Of course" Alex's Mummy Joy mused "we shall stay in touch shan't we, wherever our precious charges end up?" She made it sound as if they were being dispatched into No Man's Land. "I should coco!" said Overly Hearty Mummy "I say, shall we have one last blow out together? Lunch, just the girls!" Alison, Mum to Tom visibly shuddered and I have to admit I joined her. The others all nodded agreeably, with Keen To Fit In Mummy actually whipping out her Blackberry and suggesting dates.

A sudden exclaimation stopped us in our tracks - me literally as I was trying to escape. "I said hurry up Jonathan or I'll tell your father!". The group - apart from Alison and I - bristled as a very harrassed looking red-head rushed into view with a baby swaddled to her chest in one of those papoose thingies. "Ah look, there's Dawn, late again!" Green Mummy said with a smug look on her face. "Not hers you see, that's why she's so off with him" Alex's Mummy Joy whispered a la Les Dawson. "Course, the baby, well, she can do no wrong poor little mite" I looked again at the tableau: Jonathan was being herded into the building with Dawn snapping at his heels. "Hasn't got the mothering, wifely instinct, well, of course, she's The Second Wife isn't she?" Overly Hearty Mummy continued.

It turns out that Dawn is now married to Jonathan's Daddy who is something Big in Law because Jonathan's Daddy had an affair with Dawn and binned Jonathan's Mummy because - and here I quote - "A bit of cheap totty with legs up to her gusset and a filthy mind came along and broke up the happy home." According to Green Mummy (who's not as righteous as she makes out), baby Alice arrived two months after he left his wife. "What does that tell you?" she said, raising an unwaxed eyebrow.

Cagoule Mummy was building up a right head of steam. "I don't know what these women think they're up to, they see a man who's taken and decide they want him and so just take him, regardless of his wife, his children, his life or his wider family. A travesty, that's what it is. They should be tarred and feathered." I jumped, purely out of the shock of hearing her venom. Keen To Fit In Mummy agreed readily. "I knew a woman" she said conspiratorily so that we all had to lean in to hear her "met this married man, seduced him into a life of debauchery, got pregnant, gave him two kids to add to the three he already had with his first wife and then had the bloody cheek to complain when he rang off with the cleaning lady at his office!" Shocked gasps all round. I clutched onto Alison's arm for support.

Dawn reappeared, still looking harrassed, but stroking the head of her baby. We must have looked like we were auditioning for the scene in Macbeth as her gaze settled on us all. "Slapper!" Keen To Fit In Mummy hissed. Green Mummy nodded proudly and more than a little smugly.

Dawn shot off past us and stumbled down the street as I turned to face the vicious harpies I was standing with. Alison was patting my arm in a soothing manner and murmuring something. "That was unnecessary!" I gasped, truly shocked by what I'd just witnessed. "Oh come on Joanna!" Alex's Mummy Joy boomed "She took another....woman's......erm.......husband."

You could almost see and hear the pennies dropping as they all worked it out. You know. The fact that not only is David fifteen years older than me but he has a son who is ten years younger than me with, you know, his first wife. The one that these, quite frankly, horrific people thought that I had stolen David from. And, no doubt, that I had my lovely son to trap him into being with me.

By the time I was at home with Alison and a large slice of Ayres carrot cake (okay, two slices smushed together but I needed it) I was shaking with rage. "They're idiots, stupid people who see only in black and white" Alison soothed. "But the, fact, that.....the fact that they......" I was gobsmacked. Which will surprise a lot of you.

I felt angry, cross and upset - not because of what they said, or inferred but because of what I didn't say. I should have said that David had been living apart from his wife for six months before we went out on our first date and was knee deep in solicitors and "you have all the classical CDs if I can have the Bruce Willis DVDs" before we got engaged. I should have said that David's marriage was over, kaput, finito before I had even noticed the adorable twinkle in his eye. I should have said it's none of their damn business and that they should take a good hard look at their own lives (ooh, the things I could tell you) before they started slagging off mine. I should have said that they were sad individuals who only felt good about themselves if they were looking down on others. I should have said that there is nothing bad about being a Second Wife.

But I didn't. I allowed Alison to lead me back to the car and let me drive her back to my house. And then, at 3.25pm, when we all converged at the gates again, she stood with me as I held my head high and ignored the overly sweet comments and greetings I was getting "Oooh, I love your hair" Cagoule Mummy twittered. It took all of my effort not to slap her smug pock marked face. Dawn shuffled up to the gates but gave us all a wide berth - she nearly climbed the fence to get into the playground. We exchanged glances before I went over to join her.

I apologised for my part in the shocking display that morning and she mumbled something about Mac and Jonathan being great pals and how she keeps meaning to strike up a conversation. We shot each other a grin as the boys ran over to us. Alex's Mummy Joy looked fit to burst as we joined Alison and Tom and headed off to Starbucks for a coffee and a Getting To Know You Chat. And I only just resisted filling Dawn in on the others. Maybe I'll save that for another day.

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.