Friday, 29 August 2008

Things to do


  • Plan a nice lunch at The Duke (pictured opposite) for.....whoever wants to come with me
  • Iron Mac's "no-iron required" shirts for school on Wednesday
  • Buy additional tissues for Wednesday morning
  • Buy Optrex for Wednesday
  • Try not to get too excited about the house we're viewing on Sunday in case it turns out to have dry rot/rising damp/subsidence
  • Buy funky new nail varnish for Scarlett's christening

  • Lose weight before Scarlett's christening

  • Remember to keep off road on Monday morning: Auntie Ivy is having her fifth driving test and has failed the last four for speeding and not showing "due care and consideration"

  • Find out what the godawful smell is in the utility room

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Fair to middling

I spent much of the weekend scribbling notes in a handy little lime green notepad – no internet access at the cottage which is a surprise considering they have a walk in fridge and a lawnmower that talks to you. But, each to their own.

My decision to be nice to my mother in law was thrown into confusion the minute she got out of the car, all smiles and grabbed me in a hug, telling me I looked well. Gobsmacked isn’t the word but David informed me that he’s “had a word, I’ve told her you’re stressed about M going to school and to lay off you a bit”. Great. She is now under the impression I’m about to lose the plot and is treating me like a prime candidate for a spell in a strait jacket.

Still. I planned to keep the niceness going (not easy when she sneered at the baked camembert we had for lunch and asked why I kept insisting on feeding my family “foreign slop” Clearly old habits die hard. David gave her a Look and she immediately countered her barb with a comment about how pretty my hair looked “all curly and blonde”.

The cottage more than made up for Amelia’s presence and made me want one of my own even more. The views are nothing short of breathtaking…..we can see right out to sea and Dungeness sitting solidly to our right. Spent much of the first day getting my bearings and peering through the binoculars at the container ships gliding effortlessly along the horizon.

On Friday Mac and I went into Hastings for some shopping while David stayed at home with Amelia and the dogs. Amelia was claiming “terrible indigestion thanks to breakfast” – I’d found all manner of syrups and sauces in the cupboard so made pancakes – and preferred to just sit with her book in the conservatory. Bought some more school stuff (he’s going to be the best equipped child there at this rate) and had a hot chocolate with my suddenly grown up son. “Mum” is fast replacing “mummy” as my form of address and he admitted to a bit of a wobble about school. “What if I don’t like it, can I come home?” he enquired fearfully as he stirred his drink. Went into huge discussion about not everyone liking school but we all have to do it and tried not to do as my dad did on my return from my first day at school and tell him that he’s got “at least another ten years of this”. Think he was okay, he quite cheerfully allowed me to buy a pair of “regulation plain black training shoes” as opposed the seventy quid ones with the flashing heels.

We got back just after lunch with our Marks and Spencers booty to find the house deserted and a note from David – they’d taken the dogs up onto the Fire Hills for a run. Suspect Amelia’s indigestion was a ploy to spend time alone with her precious son. Still, I can’t complain, she allowed me to do the same with mine.

Saturday dawned bright and sunny and I did what I always want to do at home but never actually get round to doing it: tea tray and biscuits in the garden, listening to the birds tweet, the seagulls squall and geese quacking. The church bells rang in the distance as a bunny scampered across the grass, pausing only to look at me. Idyllic effect ruined somewhat by Junior Dog appearing in garden and trying to catch rabbit and thundering through a hedge into the garden next door. Not quite sure of the exact location of the geese so shot after him, forgetting was dressed only in silky pink chemise and matching shortie robe. Found bewildered neighbour (male), pruning his roses and wondering where the hell that black Labrador had come from. Grabbed Junior Dog, trying not to bend down to much so as not reveal either cleavage or the other end whilst apologising profusely. Bewildered Neighbour was charm personified and presented me with a beautiful cerise rose.

Returned to own garden to find Amelia actively searching the garden for me before yelling through to the house. “She’s here, she’s been nicking roses from next door”. My explanation at what actually happened caused her to give me a disapproving glare and ask David if he minded his wife “consorting with other men whilst half naked?”

Spent the morning out on the Fire Hills, Amelia alternately complaining about the heat, the wind and the fact that her feet ached. Didn’t care. Stood on little grassy knoll and gazed out to sea, the coastguard station’s radar throbbed reassuringly to my right and the dogs cavorted joyfully to my left while, in the distance, the wind farm glistened mistily. Returned to the bench we’d camped out on to find Amelia claiming sun stroke and general fatigue. Got home, sat down for ten minutes whereupon Amelia claimed she was “bored” and fancied a run into town. Sarcastically enquired after her heat stroke and general fatigue and she shot me a look. Poor beleaguered David agreed to take her into Hastings if she babysat that evening so we could go out. Hah!

Saturday night in Hastings and a whole other world. Big hairy tattooed bikers lounged around on throbbing Harleys, underdressed girls (God, am getting old!) fell out of pubs, slurping on alcopops and sucking on cigarettes. David and I retired to the Italian restaurant and got down to some good old fashioned romance. Then his mobile rang. Amelia claiming Mac was upset and couldn’t settle and wanted his mum. David instructed her to tell him we’d be back soon and to try and sleep. Managed to finish first course but then guilt got the better of me so we asked for the bill and I went and got the car while David paid the bill. Tried not to lust after the tiramisu on my way out. David joined me holding foil dish of tiramisu and gave me a loving wink.

Mac fast asleep when we got back. Amelia claimed he was fine after she told him we’d be back soon. When I asked Mac on Sunday morning what happened the night before and why he got so upset because we went out he gave a quizzical look and ran off to find his kite. Brilliant. Tried not to choke Amelia with the silk scarf she bought in Hastings the day before.

Sunday spent listening to the church bells, quacking geese and discreet sounds of cricket and football on the huge flat screen plasma telly. Got through entire book and packet of Burt's Chilli and Lemon crisps.

Jack Next Door joined us on Monday for the day (having already promised to take Amelia home) – Mac greeted him with an alarmed “who’s looking after my rabbit?” rather than the more usual greeting. Jack is looking more and more at home with family life, my family life which led me to enquire gently how David feels about his mothers burgeoning relationship with our neighbour. “As long as I don’t think about them doing….stuff…..I’m okay” he said with a shudder. I joined him in his shudder and took the tea things in. I shuddered again when I thought about the remote possibility of them getting married and her moving in next door. “We’ll have to move!” I said out loud and with no warning. David took this to be a suggestion that we start packing up rather than anything else.

Driving out of Fairlight behind David and Mac, he flicked on his hazard lights and pulled over onto a grass verge. I followed him and then his gaze as he pointed to a rather run down looking house. With a For Sale sign swinging jauntily from a post on the unkempt lawn.

We’re viewing it on Sunday!

Monday, 25 August 2008

And.....breathe......

I'm back after unspeakable horrors this weekend (post to follow) and am in serious need of a lift, relaxation, total sensory deprivation and a very long lie down. The lovely Chloe (just reading her website made me feel all relaxed) has invited me along for a massage at "her" place (or mine, she's mobile) and I'm going to take her up on that (the Natural Lift facial will interest Bea).......have a look at Raining Feet for more information and, if you go before I do, let me know how you get on!

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Always look on the bright side

I had a lovely day yesterday so I’d just like to put it on record – I’ve read through my last couple of entries and I realised with a start that I’ve been a bit, well, gloomy of late. August has not been my month – so far. You see, I'm looking on the positive side. I woke up with the intention of making a cake for tea (Rosie and Ben were coming over before spiriting Mac off for a sleep over – Ben is spending the day with us tomorrow but as yet, I have nothing planned). Mac is puzzled by the fact that Ben rarely stays over at our house. Over time this has become My Fault but Rosie is at great pains to assure Mac (me) that Ben has a “thing” about staying in any other place than his own house. “Why do you think we never go anywhere?” she said as she crammed cake into her mouth.

Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself. Mac woke up and requested a boiled egg and soldiers for breakfast. While he was splattering egg yolk all over the place I apologised for my bad mood over the weekend and asked if I were forgiven, explaining that sometimes mummies get in bad moods. He put on his thoughtful expression before saying “yes mummy, I do give you” and giving me an eggy kiss. As I don’t like egg yolk at all it was all I could do to stop myself from wiping my cheek but Mac finds this to be the height of rudeness. He once burst into tears because Charlie “wiped my kiss away mummy”. He finished his breakfast while I flicked through an uber glossy magazine that Bea insists on passing onto me. There was a house pictured that was full of plants, they were literally everywhere and it looked so calming and fresh that I began to lust after my own foliage.

I don’t “do” houseplants – they die. Mum could take a half dead spider plant, re-pot it and go onto successfully take cuttings from it for years to come. Plants arrive in my house and just give up the will to live. Still. The shops beckoned.

B&Q in the Old Kent Road is not the height of glamour but it served its purpose. Mac was keen to push the trolley but unfortunately pushed it into a display of buckets and sent the whole lot flying. I did what any sensible mother would do: I blamed the trolley and made a big show of changing it “for one that has wheels that do what they’re told”. Mac gazed up at me in wonder but didn’t ask to take control of the next one but ran on ahead to look at the lampshades.

I bought a peace lily, a Devil’s Ivy, an umbrella plant, a yukka, four gorgeous pots in colours to match my d├ęcor and a dolphin watering can for Mac. On the way to B&Q I had decided to make this so we popped into Asda to get the Maltesers, horlicks and butter and came home to unload the plants, fall over dogs and resist the temptation to rip into the Malteser box (I can’t buy bags of Maltesers, I’m not sure why). The Devil’s Ivy went on the upstairs landing, the peace lily into the bathroom, the umbrella plant in the living room and the yukka in the kitchen. Feeling all “Anthea” I whizzed round with the hoover while Mac helped me to dust and we talked about our few days away. With remarkable insight for a four year old Mac assured me that “Granny doesn’t mean to be hobbible Mummy, she just is” which stunned me into silence. I’d assumed that the bitching and the back stabbing between myself and my mother in law goes over Mac’s head – obviously not. I made a promise to try not to mind (or batter her) if she annoyed or upset me. Kindly place your bets now as to how long that will last but I promise I’ll try.

We made the cake together and, while it was cooking, Mac went upstairs to pack for his night away and I took a call from David who suggested a takeaway, bottle of wine and an early night in that order. I was still leaping around like an invigorated teenager when Rosie and Ben arrived at quarter past three. The boys went off to play dragons while Rosie sat down and burst into tears – it seems she’s even more in a state about Ben starting primary school than I am. The boys aren’t going to the same school and, where Mac has got a few of his nursery pals starting at the same school, Ben hasn’t. This knowledge, Rosie informed me, is causing her to eat chocolate at an alarming rate, take corks out of bottles with her teeth in desperation, shout at her husband and generally become a Grumpy Old Woman.

Feeling remarkably cheered by the sight of my together-and-sane friend on the verge of collapse (I know, I’m awful) I produced my masterpiece and, rather shamefully, we demolished the lot between the four of us. As Rosie bore both boys off, all three groaning and clutching their stomachs I glanced at the clock and realised I had twenty minutes to turn myself into a sex goddess. Needless to say I didn’t manage it.

Still, who cares that David had to eat an entire Indian meal for two because I was so full up with cake? We drank the wine, hedonistically, in bed when any thought of romance was thrown out of the window when Junior Dog, mistaking the bark of the yukka as an interesting stick, dragged the whole lot upstairs before depositing it joyfully in the middle of the (beige) carpet.

Still. At least he hadn’t broken the pot.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Move away from the chocolate

I've been in a bad mood for the last couple of days and I'm not entirely sure why. It goes deeper than the usual PMT induced rage, I know that much. David and Mac (both of whom have done nothing out of the ordinary to annoy me) are living on Amber Alert - David keeps buying me chocolate and Mac has been drawing pictures of me with a permanent frown and steam coming out of my ears.

It's a general feeling that nothing is going right, frustration that the holiday wasn't as good as I thought it would be, being generally irritated by everyone and everything and the knowledge that my baby, my angel, my gorgous bundle of gorgeousness is starting primary school soon and soon will be dodging away from hugs, escaping kisses and won't let me call him Mackenzie Muffin for much longer.

So I've decided to vent. And where better but here where I know I'll get sympathy and understanding from lovely people and.....oh, oh, have I mentioned that I'm emotional? I cried at Mamma Mia on Friday night at this and Charlie had to go and get more napkins from the popcorn concession to stem the flow of tears. Actually, I also cried in Pizza Hut beforehand when a new waitress who was being shadowed by a colleague dropped an entire deep pan Farmhouse on her way to the first ever customer. Charlie, who works in a hospital and knows about these things, has diagnosed minor depression. What?

"You've got a lot on, Mac's about to start school, Amelia is about to descend on you, you're letting Marjorie Stewart dictate your life AND you're coping with PMT without the aid of wine gums - it's to be expected" she said as she waved her glass of Blossom Hill at me. I had to agree with her.

Mac and his obsession with primary school is wearing me out - it's almost as if he can't wait to leave me which I know is irrational but I can't help it. "It's not as if he's going up the Amazon" David keeps telling me and then rounds off each "soothing" comment with snippets from when Matthew first started school that don't really help. We bought his school uniform on Friday and he was so excited about it he wanted to keep it on until Daddy got home, which he did. David and I shared a moment on the doorstep as he was coming in and I was going out (Charlie has to have a drink in her hand by 6pm each night or she goes into meltdown) and my last instructions - "Go and take it off now and get into your jammies" - were answered with a heartfelt "Yes mummy, don't be late home!"

I got home at ten to ten to a sheepish David. When I went in to kiss a sleeping Mac goodnight I discovered him still in full uniform, including tie. "He wanted to keep it on" was the unhelpful comment. I seethed all night and woke up on Saturday morning to a tantrum of epic proportions. I finally wrenched the uniform off him at just gone twelve after threatening that he couldn't go to football wearing it. He and David departed and I spent the afternoon alternately crying and stomping about. Both came home happy and Mac hasn't mentioned his uniform once since. Which probably means he won't actually wear it now for fear that I'll shout and try to drag it off him.

My mother in law has hijacked a surprise few days away - David's boss has got a cottage in Fairlight which is just outside Hastings and I'm so jealous. However, Boss Man is lending it to us from Thursday of next week and for the whole of Bank Holiday weekend, not because he's a generous, caring individual because he's not but because he and his wife are going through a bitter divorce and, as he says, "if you're there, she can't be". Still, I'm not complaining. Or I wasn't until Amelia invited herself along. She rang while I was mid row on Saturday morning so I couldn't actually give a toss about it and just said "Oh for God's sake do whatever you want to do" before throwing the phone to David but, of course, I do now and am silently stewing. She, on the other hand, keeps ringing to ask if "they" have got bed linen there or does she have to pack her own.

On top of all this, Marjorie Stewart is, as Jane Opposite would put it, "getting right on my tits". She seems to think that I'm her Right Hand Woman in the fight to keep Belinda Hall off of "our" territory. I found out quite by accident when I bumped into Belinda last Wednesday in the chemist and she icily responded to my "hello!" with "Are you sure you should be talking to me? Your General might not like it". Ruby Over The Road filled me in on all the gossip - Marjorie is planning a full scale assault and will stop at nothing to ensure that The Avenue doesn't fall into the hands of "anyone unsuitable that doesn't even live in The Avenue" and I've been touted round the neighbourhood as her Aide De Camp.

And the wine gums? I realised I had an addiction to them when I panicked on discovering that my secret stash of the marvellous Maynards confection had fallen pray to the recent heat and had gone.....funny. Really panicked and rang David to insist he bring some in. So I've gone cold turkey. The Time Of The Month is not the best time to do this but I have to be strong. If Amelia passes just one comment on my need to have a packet about my person - or worse, asks for one - I may just have to push her off a cliff.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Ladies wot lunch

Me: where shall we meet for lunch?
Lydia: Not sure, where shall we go?
Me: The usual? Harvesters?
Lydia: No, am off salad carts
Me: Okay then, Nandos? The one in Lewisham?
Lydia: Erm no, Matt and I were there on Saturday and he insulted a waitress by calling her “waiter”
Me: Right, the Greenwich one then?
Lydia: Don’t know how to get there and then I’ll panic and probably have the baby early because of the shock
Me: Drive to me then and we’ll go in my car
Lydia: Okay then. Oooh, no, hold on. Do you know what I really fancy?
Me: I dread to think
Lydia: Chinese! Haven’t had Chinese for ages!
Me: Right. Hong Kong City?
Lydia: Nope, that place gives me the heebie jeebies
Me: Okay, how about the one in Greenwich? The buffet place?
Lydia: What, the one in Sydenham?
Me: No, the one in Greenwich on the one way system
Lydia: I thought that was Thai?
Me: No, it’s Chinese
Lydia: Okay then, sounds good.
Me: Are you coming to me first?
Lydia: Would it be too awful of me to ask you to come and get me and then run me home again? I’ve got terrible wind
Me: Okay, will get to you by about half 1
Lydia: Can you make it later? I’ve got a doctors appointment at 12 and won’t be ready.
Me: Isn’t your doctors still in Dulwich?
Lydia: Yep
Me: So you’ll be over here anyway, can’t you come onto me after you’ve been to the doctors?
Lydia: Oh yes. Sorry, blame my pregnancy hormones. I’ve spent all morning watching BBC2 because I’d picked up the cordless phone instead of the remote
Me: Right, so, ring me when you’re leaving the doctors and I’ll be ready
Lydia: Tell you what, I don’t really feel like going out
Me: Okaaaaaaaaaaaay……
Lydia: So I’ll ring you as I leave the doctors and you can go out and get a takeaway
Me: Why can’t you bring one in with you?
Lydia: Cos I really, really can’t face food right now.

I’ve paraphrased the whole conversation but you get the general idea……I had soup and sandwich and she worked her way through a packet of ginger nuts.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Ladies things

I’m having an indulgent week, you know the sort of thing, Belgian chocolates eaten in the bath, delicious home cooked meals with dessert (usually only eaten in restaurants), lie ins, reading for two hours straight without worrying about what I haven’t done or what I’ve still got to do……….it’s been bliss. Tomorrow I have a wonderful girlie lunch planned with Lydia (Mac is spending the day with his big brother and they’re going to do Men’s Stuff) and on Friday night I’m planning to meet up with Charlie and Saskia for a stuffed crust pizza or two and Mamma Mia. You see what I mean? Indulgent. I’m not usually indulgent – I feel guilty if I eat more than two chocolates at a time and whenever I’m reading my mind is half on the story line, half on the washing churning around in the machine.

So it’s probably because I’m not so familiar with the whole indulgent thing that I booked a smear test for today. You know, just to keep me on my toes. So to speak.

Now I’m know I’m not alone in thinking that this is a necessary evil. I booked the appointment on Monday morning and have spent a fair percentage of the time between then and 9.15am this morning alternately worrying about it and questioning my female friends about their last smear. It’s not because I’m perversely interested in my friends and their bits but I wanted someone to reassure me that it’s not going to be as painful as my last one five years ago. Because the last one hurt with a capital F.

My usual practice nurse was on holiday but had failed to tell me when I’d booked the appointment. She was fairly used to seeing my bits having examined me intimately when I told her that I was thinking of trying for a baby – not that I whip them out at every available opportunity you understand. I bowled into the room, drawers already removed (really, I don’t know why I feel the need to share this much with you all) expecting to find Grainne sitting at her desk smiling. Not so. The other practice nurse, a stick thin, no doubt ex supermodel stood at the couch, already snapping on the rubber gloves. Without so much as a “how are you and isn’t the weather lovely” she instructed me to assume the position.

In went the speculum (try as I might I can’t help but think of a ducks bill) and she had a good old rummage. “Can you lift yourself up a bit?” she snapped, still peering where the sun don’t shine. How undignified. I did as I was bid but to no avail. “No, it’s no good, I’m going to have to go again” she hissed. I ended up balancing on the couch like a limbo dancer mid limbo while she probed and prodded some more. It was not the best experience, nor the best recommendation to go through the whole thing again.

This time I cross examined Cheery Cassie who assured me that Grainne would in fact be the one to do the deed. And yes she would be gentle. Cassie knows me so well, during one particular fraught month of my pregnancy she spent an hour and three quarters feeding me camomile tea, wiping my tears and assuring me that the baby isn’t going to come out hating me. In fact, I’d like to put on record that I love my GP practice – all except Limbo Witch.

Mac was to be left in the care of Charlie who had agreed to take him shopping for some school stuff. Charlie, who is really only feeding her secret stationery addiction, was more excited than he was. I drove to the surgery with shaking legs and unable to exhale without whimpering. Once in the surgery, the reception team seemed to be on red alert, Pretty Polly came out to the waiting area to give me a hug. I felt very insignificant and more than a little stupid. I’d had a baby for God’s sake! More people have seen my bits and my insides than I care to think about. My midwife (lovely woman, she always had a packet of Murray Mints in her bag and wasn’t averse to sharing) once welcomed me into a consultation with the words “Do you mind if my students sit in on this?” and then revealed five white coated men and one white coated woman. I revealed a whole lot more, including the urge I had to eat tea dunked Jaffa Cakes every waking hour.

Grainne greeted me with a smile and an inquiry as to my health. Filled with the need to convince her just how healthy I was I considered doing a few star jumps just to prove my fitness levels but decided against it, it would merely put my blood pressure up and she was already advancing towards me with the cuff. Hm, not bad she said. My weight had gone up slightly (I blamed my indulgent week but promised to lay off the goodies for a bit). Her questions about Mac and David were only serving to delay the inevitable – I took matters into my own hands and plopped myself down on the couch, sans underwear. “Relax” she said as she unwrapped several eye popping instruments. I defy any woman to relax with a speculum in close proximity to their person.

Still. It wasn’t too bad and I’ll save you the gory details. It certainly beat my last one into a cocked hat on the pain front and I almost wept with gratitude when she told me to get dressed and I could do so without emitting painful squeaks.

Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman. Although, don’t tell anyone, I went into Ayres for a comforting jam doughnut on my way back……..I think I need a trip to Coventry.

Monday, 11 August 2008

What have I missed?

We’re back. Yesterday actually, to a freezing cold house and a note from Jack Next Door telling us that he couldn’t work our heating or hot water. Amelia had obviously been on the premises at some point because the fridge was full (of food that I don’t buy, let alone eat), my surfaces were gleaming and the Dyson stood arrogantly on the upstairs landing. There was also a casserole dish and a note from said mother in law which read “I’ve made you a beef casserole, I know that David enjoys these and I know that you don’t like cooking when you’re on holiday”. Mac came joyously down the stairs with a packet of Haribo and a six pack of pickled onion Monster Munch that had been “left” in his bedroom and David emitted cries of glee when he found a lardy cake in the cupboard.

I’ve missed a lot in The Avenue according to Jane Opposite who appeared on my doorstep with gossip and a request to borrow some rice. “That Belinda Hall woman has got the OAPs sewn up you know, she’s got different colour shopping lists for each one and goes out every day to either Morrison’s or Asda. Marj is spitting feathers!”. Marjorie is indeed not happy about That Woman and Her Interference and is redoubling her efforts into arranging an outing for The Avenue. I know this because she rang just as Ocean’s 13 was about to start and I made David tell her I was already asleep and to take a message.

Lydia and The Bump are doing well – she’s addicted to cream crackers spread with Nutella which, as cravings go, isn’t that bad. “Makes me fart though” she mused this morning when she rang to see how the holiday was. “I spend each and every night with my bum hanging out of the duvet!” and, she admitted, it hasn’t stopped Matt constantly asking her to make an honest man of him. “But do I want to leap out of the frying pan and into the fire?” she asked. I pointed out that, in her current condition, she’s already dipped a toe into a saucepan and arranged to meet her for lunch on Thursday.

Janey and Scarlett have just left and I’m finally breathing and trying to take in all that’s been thrown at me in under 24 hours including the fact that Janey is, as she put it, “up the duff”. She’s quite pleased she said, because with two children under five “Darren won’t be able to say no to me having a nanny!”. Darren, the poor mans David Beckham, scored a goal for his amateur football team on Saturday and is convinced that “the bloke in the stands wearing a Tottenham scarf” is a scout for the Premiership club and it’ll only “be a matter of time before I’m rubbing shoulders with all the top stars”. Janey rolled her eyes and agreed with me that he was reading too much into it. “I said to him, what if it were just a bloke who supports Spurs?” she said, giving Scarlett a piece of French stick to gnaw on. “It’s not that I mind being pregnant at all” she went on “It’s just that I cover myself in Bio oil and Daz can’t get hold of me”. Surely that that would be a bonus?

It certainly would be for Bea who is dreading Scarlett’s forthcoming christening. My sister has recently got a bonus for her “sterling work” which she’s quite pleased about because it means she’s getting money just for sending “wonderfully descriptive emails” to her family and friends. I’ve reproduced part of the one waiting for me in my inbox yesterday.

Darling girl, I’m so sorry I couldn’t take your call earlier – I was dictating to my PA at the time and I feared that our conversation would end up as part of the weekly departmental report. The silly girl had already had to scratch half of what she’d written: I had given my lunch request to Amanda on Reception and she’d written it all down. I’m sure the Head Honcho would have been fascinated to read that I had requested sushi and sparkling water!

I have grave misgivings about the forthcoming christening – I shall attend the church but not, I’m afraid to say, the “do” afterwards. The thought of eating poorly cooked, unimaginatively chosen buffet food is making my stomach churn. I have tried to insist that she come to you for help but she’s insistent that Aunt Ivy and her friends are more than capable as it will only be “a few sausage rolls and things on sticks”. Darling, promise me you’ll eat a hearty breakfast on the seventh and steer clear of all things reheated?

I trust that she has chosen suitable godparents for the poor child. I’m struggling with the fact that her moral and spiritual welfare are being handed over to someone called Baz, Tel, Mick or, what was the name of that rather large gentleman that belched the alphabet at their wedding? Cockle? And heaven forbid the poor little angel if she only has the likes of Toria and the cackling harpies to turn to for guidance. I shudder to think how she’ll turn out. I only have to look at our own precious babies to realise how fortunate we are.

Darling, I must close now. On The Point of Anorexia Now Au Pair has developed an aversion to surfing on-line, she’s been reading about viruses and doesn’t want to catch anything so I have to do the Ocado shopping before my 3pm meeting. Thank God it’s Friday as I finish at 3.30pm!


Your loving sister xox

I replied with this:

Dear Bea

Scarlett’s godparents are to be
Luce and Toria and the “rather large gentleman” who is called, not Cockle, but Bollock. On account of him having just the one.

With love

Your sister xx

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Three holidaymakers and a funeral

On the way to sunny (I use that word loosely seeing as the sun has only just put in an appearance) Hamble on Saturday we encountered several corpses. The road to Hamble Le Rice was littered with dead foxes, badgers and something indistinguishable but rather huge. Deer leap out at unsuspecting motorists and end up being flattened unceremoniously – we drove past a recent deer flattening incident: the car looked to be a write off, the deer certainly was and the passengers of the car were all hawking their guts up into picturesque hedgerows.

Death seems to be a theme of this holiday. On Tuesday the village all but closed down because one of the village elders had died and the funeral was that very day. All curtains were drawn and everyone was wearing black. “He had a good life” I heard an elderly woman say whilst I was in the shop on the Monday morning “93 and still all his own teeth.” “Really? No dentures?” asked the shopkeeper. “Well, dentures of course. But they were his!” came the indignant reply.

“Mummy, what did the lady die of?” Mac asked as we watched the funeral procession snake through the streets as they visited all the places that Village Elder loved in the village. They cortege spent ten minutes outside the pub. I told him it was a man that had died and added that he had to be very quiet when he was playing today, out of respect. I don’t think the villagers raised their voices above a low hum all day – they needed an overexcited four year old like they needed a hole in the head. He nodded sombrely and hissed loudly at the three dogs to “ssssshhhhhh” which set them all off barking.

It was very eerie in the village so we escaped, a little along the coast to Portsmouth. No more dead animals but we had to endure Mac asking “is that dead?” for the entire afternoon. We agreed that the cockles he had with David were, in fact, dead. As was the chicken in the sandwich that I had for lunch but there followed a discussion about the salad I had with it. “Is salad dead mummy?” he asked. David retreated behind his newspaper for the duration of the conversation. “To die, something has to be living” David said eventually when he could read the sports pages no more. You’ve guessed it, we spent the rest of the afternoon saying “yes, that’s living” to the many trees, plants, horses and people we encountered. After half an hour of this, David - who isn’t that used to the incessant questioning from an inquisitive child - said in a rather short tone “Every person and every animal, if they have a pulse, is living”. A short pause from the back seat and then “What’s a pulse?”

Yesterday David took a turn out to see his Great Uncle Clarence who is in a residential home near Winchester – as Mac has become, well, morbidly obsessed with all things dead and alive we thought it best not to take him along. I stayed with Mac and the dogs and we had a lovely day just not doing anything (apart from eating, reading and dozing). David returned at nearly four looking pale and shaky. Fearing another leaping deer incident I steered him into a chair and poured him some tea (I’ve discovered teapots…..I’m going to get one for home). “It was awful” he said “One minute she was there, the next……gone”. It appeared that one of the residents of the home had keeled over on her way to the dining room and died right there and then beneath, David reported, a sign asking residents not to loiter in the hallway.

Today has been less morbid thankfully, David and Mac have been sailing whilst the dogs and I have been for a swim. Middle Dog has lost his aversion to the sea, Senior Dog preferred to spend time on the beach just lazing and Junior Dog got the scent of the Isle of Wight in his nostrils and thought he’d see if he could swim there.

Friday, 1 August 2008

Plot: lost

Did you know that it's the 1st of August today? And that, naturally, tomorrow is the 2nd of August? Well, that's how it should be shouldn't it? Days blending effortlessly into one, the natural progression of time, blah, blah, blah.......

Yeah, well. Today is the 1st of August and tomorrow I go on holiday with my beloved husband, adored child and pampered pooches. Quite how I've arrived at my current state of affairs is beyond me. Of course I know that I'm going on holiday - I've washed, ironed, packed, sorted out bunny and fish baby sitting arrangements, got a plant watering (in and out) system under the strict supervision of Jack Next Door but my little old grey cells haven't actually kicked in that I'm going on holiday tomorrow.

I've done all my packing and cleaning and arranging whilst on auto pilot as it were. What's that saying? The flesh is willing but the mind is weak? Or is it the other way round? Anyway. I'm going on my holibobs tomorrow. The cottage has "wi-fi" and David is packing his laptop so expect posts from me about (hopefully) being baked into a nice warm brown by the sun, growing tired thanks to early (not too early) morning walks along the beach and stuffed full of the kind of sweet and savoury fayre sold in the village bakery.

Bliss.

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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.