Friday, 31 October 2008


That was my evil laugh, in case you're wondering. And it's been an evil week this week. I can cite broken down boilers, Amelia, Lydia four days overdue, David with Man Flu and trick or treaters every night this week. I've told them all to come back tonight and am bedding down for the siege of small children (and some not so small.....what are 12 year olds eating to make them so tall?) from dusk. Mac is ready for his party at Queen Bee Mummy's house - David is manfully struggling up from his sick bed to take him and pick him up and I'm ready for the last night of Most Haunted. I tell you, I've been gripped, scared and irritated by Yvette Fielding's bossiness.

So, until I get longer than ten minutes to dip in and out of Blogland, I'll leave you with this.

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Pretty in Pink

It's arrived. My prize, Much thanks to Dulwich Mum providing the caption competition to enable me to win my yummy picture from Porcupine Prints. It has, however, caused a few problems. Mac doesn't want it in his room, not because of the pinkness of it, but because of the "green cupcake issue". David thinks it should hang in the kitchen because of the "cooky type theme" or the bathroom because "it matches the walls". Janey wants it for Scarlett's room and had to be forcibly restrained from taking it off the premises and Bea has decided that she simply must get a similar print for "my precious angels" and requested the web address for PP. I'm getting a frame for it this weekend and then I shall take time in deciding where my "number 3 of 100" should be hung!

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Village of the Damned

Most Haunted are in North Wales for the next seven nights, in a former mental asylum. Live. I want to watch it but David is out, Mac is naturally asleep, Senior Dog is sprawled out on the upstairs landing, Middle Dog is in the kitchen and Junior Dog is watching me fearfully because I've just watched Yvette Fielding get all jumpy and skittery and have squealed like a girl.

Dare I watch it?

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Decisions: reached

Mac will be going to Queen Bee Mummy’s son Oliver’s Halloween party as Frankenstein. Well, this is the current favourite guise, others include a wizard “but not Harry Popper mummy” and a ghost “a really scary one” but who knows what it will be tomorrow. I’ve given him a deadline: I need to know by end of school on Friday so I can spend the weekend amassing equipment/accessories and panicking that I’ll be given two out of ten and nil for effort by Queen Bee Mummy.

Lydia has decided against a natural birth after seeing a childbirth video at her parenting class. “It was awful” she kept wailing as she shredded tissues on my sofa. “Blood and guts and…..gunk and stuff” she added as I handed her a bowl of homemade vegetable soup. Neither of us ate it.

Auntie Ivy has decided that valium and driving do not mix. “I’m trying the herbal tablets now, I can’t keep me eyes open!”. Her driving style is best described as kamikaze and she is the scourge of lollipop ladies in the area. Uncle Jim has refused to get in the car with her and I thought Janey was going to expire when Ivy suggested that she take Scarlett to Bluewater on Sunday.

David is trying to convince his sister Ginny that she should have Amelia over to hers for Christmas. “I couldn’t face her continuously asking you if you’d basted the turkey ever again” he said on Monday morning as he left for work.

Unbeknown to him, Ginny has decided to grace us with her presence for Christmas Day and Boxing Day this year as “her gang” will all be with their families over the festive period and she can’t face a “solitary turkey leg and stuffing”.

Also unbeknown to him, Amelia has already been onto Giles and has ordered us two turkeys for Christmas “I’m assuming you’ll have the usual suspects for dinner” she said when she rang to tell me, oooh, half an hour ago.

Marjorie is planning on a ginormous Christmas tree for her front garden and to cover it in enough lights to cause the National Grid to go into meltdown. “I’m not having some Johnny Come Lately swan around as if she’s It” Marjorie sniffed as she popped in to ask me if I needed anything knitted. “Mrs Mellish wants to know if Mac needs a school scarf?”

Matthew has emailed me with a request that we invite him “Lyds and the baby for Christmas dinner cos Lyds won’t feel up to doing it and I’ve never stuffed a turkey in my life”.

Bea has decided that she will once again host the “Bonfire Party to end all Bonfire Parties” on the Saturday after the actual day. “It means a lot of work darling but it’s so enjoyable – just please remind David not to tack any Catherine wheels to my apple tree, it hasn’t recovered yet”.

I’ve decided that I’m going to let everything just wash over me and try to maintain my sanity by eating copious amounts of satsumas (don’t you just love it when they come into the shops), extraordinary amounts of Quality Street (buy now for trick or treaters AND Christmas) and blogging all about it!

Monday, 20 October 2008


Queen Bee Mummy caught me at the school gates this morning, dressed to kill in a Juicy Couture tracksuit, blinging shades (even though it looked like rain), her bouncing brunette mane tamed by a huge silver clip and smelling of the best that Giorgio Armani has to offer. I, on the other hand, was dressed to maim in tatty old jeans, threadbare (under the arms only) fleece and hair that I’d only just managed to threaten with a brush before I shot out of the door and reeking of Weetabix. However, thanks to my recent addiction to Philosophy, my complexion was clear and clean. It was little compensation though.

“I understand that Mackenzie hasn’t got a costume yet” she said in clipped tones. Clearly someone had been telling tales in school. “I’m making it next week. With Mac. During half term. Sooooo important to get the little ones involved in creative play” I said, tongue firmly in cheek and fingers crossed behind my back. “Excellent” Queen Bee Mummy said, swishing her mane from one shoulder to the other. “Erm, when you say homemade, you actually do mean……?” I said in strangled tones. My brilliant idea was to buy a supermarket costume and customise it. “Homemade” Queen Bee Mummy said, shooting Dawn and a clutch of other cringing mummies a stern look. “One little poppet was boasting about how his mummy had bought him the best costume in the shop, and that simply won’t do will it? How on earth will prizes be won with mass produced rubbish?” Queen Bee Mummy pirouetted on a high heeled boot and bounced off to her Qashqai, calling “I’m reinstating my coffee mornings ladies, invitations to follow!” over her shoulder. A gaggle of mummies hovering on the sidelines all but curtsied as she passed.

Single Mummy loped up, tugging ineffectually on the lead of the dalmation attached to it. Snoopy was insistent that he visit that yonder lamppost immediately. “Prizes for the best costume include one of those kids digital cameras, 50 quids worth of Toys R Us vouchers and more books that you can shake a bookmark at” she said gloomily. I suspect she was the mummy who had shop bought.

“Buy a sheet, cut some eye holes out and there you go, one ghost” Lydia said unhelpfully as she waddled into the house an hour later. I’d already rung Charlie in a fit of panic and she promised to get on the case immediately, emailing me ten minutes later with a suggestion that she borrow some theatre greens, a stethoscope and buy some fake blood so Mac could go as a Killer Surgeon. I promised to think about it – while it would appeal to Mac I’m not entirely sure that Queen Bee Mummy would appreciate it – her husband is general surgeon. Heaven forbid she thinks we’re taking the piss.

“Just buy an outfit from Asda and like, jazz it up a bit.” Jane Opposite advised when she dropped off her Littlewoods catalogue – I love a good catalogue. “You can get some really good stuff these days” she went on, checking her lipstick in the hall mirror. David was even less help. As he’s witnessing businesses go under daily thanks to the credit crunch he suggested that Mac wear the suit he wore to Janey’s wedding with a ripped shirt and tatty old shoes and go as a failed business man. Pointing out that a group of children would fail to understand it I suggested that he put his thinking cap back on.

Still, I’ve got a fortnight. If I think really hard this week and leave all of next week to actually make/create/buy the costume it’ll all work out fine. Mac wants to go as something "really really really scary mummy" which isn't a great help.

All and any suggestions welcomed!

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Oh happy day

As David's mother departed yesterday, Lydia was preparing for the arrival of her mum and Matt's for A Visit. I stayed well clear of Chez Johnson/Mitchell - Lydia's mum scares me and I'm really not thin/gorgeous enough to face David's ex wife. So, while the two mothers fought to out-do each other with tips, hints and advice, Auntie Ivy and I went to The Duke for lunch.

David, Mac and Matthew had escaped to The Den to watch Millwall take on Leeds and the house still bore the smell of Eau de Amelia: bitterness and bad vibes. The Duke, on the other hand, smelt of delicious food (we both had the Scottish Rump steak with "proper" chips and a divine apple crumble with ice cream that I couldn't finish. And believe me I tried to finish it).

Tinkly music played (Nat King Cole, big band mum would have loved it) and we had the attentions of a very attentive waitress. Ivy declared the steak "better than you get in the West End" while I was too busy shoving chips and field mushrooms into my mouth to do anything but nod in agreement. A fantastic meal for under £40 for two of us, it would cost more with alcohol but Ivy can't drink anything with an alcoholic content until she's off the medication (her driving scares her so much she's on tranquilisers) and I can't do afternoon drinking any more. Not if I want to stay awake in the afternoon anyway. And I needed to, a) because Ivy was driving me home and I needed my wits about me and b) I wanted all the goss from Lydia.

Kate, Matt's mum, arrived first apparently, weighed down with all manner of knitted items. My memories of her are very vague, I've only ever met her twice. Amelia, of course, loves her and keeps us regularly updated in what she's up to. I tune out and turn up the TV/radio/food mixer/my voice.

"What's she like?" I asked reluctantly. "Very sweet, very well dressed, wonderful manners and incredibly generous" Lydia replied, not realising I wanted her to lie and say mean things. But then, she must be nice for David to have married her and loved her once. I tried not to dwell on that side of things, nor on the fact that she's already planning the Christening. Kate, not Lydia. "When I told her I'm not really that bothered about christenings I thought she'd choke on her coffee". We were on safer ground with Lydia's mum Teresa - Teresa was hideously disappointed when she married Mike, distraught at the subsequent divorce and mortified at her only child's current living situation. I know where I am with a woman like that. "She arrived with loads of bags - I thought she'd brought me a selection of hair shirts" Lydia cackled. She seemed remarkably upbeat for someone who had just spent two hours in the company of her mother and the woman she's supposed to dislike on my behalf.

Marjorie Stewart, during her regular Saturday afternoon visit to collect our pound for The Avenue National Lottery Thunderball game, confided that she's worried that Belinda Hall has seemed to back down on her campaign for Avenue Domination. "Old Mrs Lazenby rang me, full of remorse, and asked if I'd go back to getting her Morrisons shopping every week." Marjorie whispered as she jangled her bag of pound coins. It seems that Belinda Hall's dominance has withered and died. "All of my old dears are asking me to do things for them again, I went and bought all of Mrs Jacobs' Christmas card stamps yesterday". I pointed out that that was good, surely. Marjorie didn't seem too convinced. "You can't be too careful. Perhaps she thought she was flogging a dead horse with taking over the OAPs shopping - she might be planning another coup!" Here she clutched her chest and dropped her bag. "She might start up a rival Lottery game or try to outdo my Christmas decorations or......." she was prevented from continuing by Jack Next Door popping out with his pound and to let me know that Amelia made it home safely.

Three very happy boys arrived home (Millwall won 3-1) and, after Matt had left to tend to Lydia's cravings (currently Ben and Jerry's Phish Food and American mustard) we had beef casserole - sans dumplings, to exorcise the memory of Amelia's recent casserole, Strictly Come Dancing, Casualty and bed.

It's what Saturday nights are all about.

Friday, 17 October 2008

The day God dropped the paintbox

Another email from work and some amazing photos that I thought you'd like to see.

Isn't nature wonderful?

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Party politics

We’re not having a Halloween party. Nor a Bonfire Night party, nor Christmas or Easter or, it seems, any social gathering until Lydia’s child is old enough to look after itself. Lydia is viewing the impending birth with as much excitement as you would root canal work. “Once this baby is born, my life will be over!” she wailed when I opened the door to her this morning. Her arrival, half way through a lecture from Amelia on…..I’m not sure actually, I’d tuned out…..was most welcome even though the two of them together is not a marriage made in heaven. Predominantly because there has been no marriage between Lydia and Matthew and therefore any child of the union would be a “bastard” (guess who said that).

The gnashing of teeth started as the two clapped eyes on each other. Lydia is a “wanton woman who has ruined Matthew’s life by falling for a baby out of wedlock AND she’s used goods”. Amelia is a “viscous old crow who spits poison every time she opens her over used gob”. The temperature in my kitchen was minus below zero. “What do you mean?” I asked, not really wanting to but willing to do anything to avoid a minor skirmish.

Lydia slumped into a chair and exhaled slowly “I won’t be able to do anything when this baby arrives, I won’t be able to nip out to the shops, or go to a party and drink, or have a boogie, or have a life or anything!” she said, setting back the Women’s Movement a good few years. “So you can’t have any parties or anything” she added darkly. “Cos I won’t be able to come to them and that wouldn’t be fair, all you lot having a good old laugh while I’m stuck at home feeding, burping, changing and crying”

Amelia Sniffed at this point – not just a sniff but a Sniff. This indicates that a rant is forthcoming. Lydia shot her a look which diverted the flow of aggression and Amelia took to scrubbing my stainless steel enthusiastically.

“It won’t be that bad” I said, thinking back to the time when I’d thought exactly the same. I literally couldn’t cope with the buggie: it would never unfold when I wanted it to, would never fold up on demand and had a mind of its own. Then David bought me a Little Possum. I loved it so much – up to and including the time that I forgot I was wearing it and had Mac snuggled up to my chest and I leant rather heavily on the reception desk during a visit to work and woke Mac up with a start. He was fine and, after the two sleepless nights the memory gave me, so was I. I made a mental note to buy her one.

“That’s what you say” Lydia huffed, dragging a granola bar out of her bag. She now has to eat something every hour or she feels sick. Amelia was still going at my stainless steel like a thing possessed and I could tell she was building up a huge head of steam. I was right, by the time Lydia left at 1pm, my kitchen surfaces were gleaming, as was the floor, the sink and the fridge. Although I had to put up with a stream of invective about “slatternly behaviour, sheer wantonness, sluttish tendencies and loose morals” (she was referring to Lydia and not, for once, to me) for an hour afterwards.


I rang Lyds while Amelia was out collecting Mac – she’s promised to come back tomorrow as the living room needs a good going over.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008


My mother in law is still here. She was supposed to leave on Sunday. She has enough clothes to last until "until Saturday dear". My kitchen has been reorganised beyond recognition. Ditto the bathroom: "why do you keep your bath lotions on the little shelf above the bath?". She is cooking tomorrow night and has given me a shopping list the length of my arm. The house is like a sauna as she's cold - we are all walking around half naked resulting in comments such as "Joanna, do you really think you should start going to the gym again". Charlie arrived this evening for a visit and was on the premises for five minutes when Amelia pointed out that she must "have a home of her own to go to" and practically bundled her out the door. "Bromley, Thursday night" Charlie mouthed, knowing that resistance is futile. David has a headache. I'm not saying anything but my body language is screaming at him. He suggested that he take her home on Thursday morning. Amelia laughed at this suggestion and went back to arranging the DVDs in alphabetical order. David informed her he'd take her home on Thursday morning. She shot him a look, told him not to be silly, ran her finger along the top of the DVD cupboard and asked me if I had "such a thing as a duster".

Can you tell that I. Am. A. Bit. Tense?

Thursday, 9 October 2008

A sobering day....sort of

Amelia arrived this morning without prior warning or permission. "It's the anniversary of Frank's passing" she snapped when I asked her, quite politely, what she was doing here. That shut me up, how on earth could I forget the passing of my father in law, one of the sweetest, loving, giving men I have ever met? Allowing myself a few seconds to wonder how on earth someone like that ended up with a bombastic shrew as Amelia, I opened the front door and led her into the house. She was dragging a suitcase that looked as if it would cover at least a weeks stay. She caught my gaze, ran a disapproving eye over the state of the house (not that bad, or so I thought) and said "I'm only here until Sunday, don't worry"

While she was "rinsing out my dishcloths" I rang David. "Oh God" he breathed at the news that a) his mother was here until Sunday and b) he'd forgotten the anniversary of his father's death. "Cover for me!" he hissed. Really, I'm going to stop him watching The Sopranos. "I suppose you've all forgotten" she went on, shooting me a look as she rummaged through the fridge. She loves a good rummage does Amelia. I lied and said that we were planning to go on Saturday.

"Hm" she said.

An hour later I found myself in Honor Oak Cemetery clutching fifteen quids worth of flowers and making my way perilously through a mishmash of gravestones and crosses. There's something so other-worldly about cemeteries and crematoriums - it's not just the peace or the serenity of the place, I can't explain what it is. All I know is that whenever I'm there I speak in hushed tones and try not to think about all the bodies lying beneath my feet. If that sounds disrespectful, I'm sorry. I was five when my paternal grandfather died - when I found out he was going to be "put in the ground" as my grandmother put it I screamed, cried and didn't sleep for a week....I had visions of them digging him in like you would a spud. When my maternal grandfather died I was seven. My second experience of a funeral went off only slightly better (if that's the word) than my first: when the coffin (at Honor Oak Crem the coffin descends into the ground) started going down I whimpered and buried my face in my mum's stomach and there I stayed until we got back to the cars. She later told me she nearly fell over me twice.

Amelia had bought a rug, a trowel and a wire brush with her and I had left her to her grave tending while I had a wander round. All of my family (with the exception of those who died on foreign soil during either World Wars and those that are still alive natch) were either buried or scattered up here. Skirting the church I headed up the hill to find my paternal great grandparents, two great aunts, paternal grandparents and an aunt who died as a child from pnuemonia. She would have been 65 this year. Finding my grandad's grave I counted three rows up and five headstones along to mark the family plots. A breeze had got up and I spoke to them all as I do, the great grandparents I never knew but have heard loads about, my two great aunts Edie and Evelyn who I knew vaguely when I was younger.....Edie lived in Dulwich in a house with her landlady who had about 15 million cats and Evelyn who lived next door to a transvestite who used to borrow her jewellery. Grandad whose cheese I ate when I was three whilst being transported back from the deli in Rye Lane by my nan. "Give Grandad his cheese" she instructed as I handed over the empty wrapper. I can still see his face.....the Sergeant Major in him making him look angry and irritated but the genuine smile of amusement softening his face. My nan is buried alongside him, she used to hum a tune when she was engrossed in anything....I can still hear it. "Hm hm, hum-hum-hum" My dad's sister is buried in the same plot - Nan had a picture of her wearing a red coat in Trafalgar Square feeding the pigeons, a scene and picture that I replicated aged seven and that provoked tears when she was presented with the photographic proof.

"I'm going now" I said and bade them farewell. It could have just been the trees but I swear I heard laughter as I slithered down the grassy banks, clutching onto trees as I went. Amelia had obviously been crying, I felt a shimmer of sympathy for her. "Are you ready?" I asked. Immediately the shutters came down and she resisted my attempts to help her back to the car. Without saying a word I headed for the Crematorium. Thankfully she didn't say a word, just stared out of the window.

Mum's rose tree had been pruned and, poor woman, had been covered in manure. "Poor mum" I said as I fondled her rose leaves and smiled. My maternal grandmothers tree was obviously destined for the same treatment as a steaming pile of fertiliser hummed away beside her plot. My maternal grandfathers memorial was in need of a good polish but I made do with spitting on a tissue and wiping it, just like he used to do to me with the words "you mucky pup!" ringing in my ears. Other relatives I never met but have heard about it have memorials up here but it would take a full day and a good map to find them all. I passed by those that I knew the location of, touching the cold marble and smiling.

We drove home in companionable silence, stopping off at Ayres. I was feeling well disposed towards my mother in law and suggested that she choose a cake. "Frank loved a good cream cake" she mused as she headed for the mouthwatering display. Feeling ever so slightly chuffed that we'd been in each others company for nearly three hours now with nary a cross word, rebuff or barely hidden insult I suggested we get a strawberry gateau for tea. "He liked a good cream cake my girl but never went to excess!" and off she went, railing about greed and over abundance.
I tell you, she was extremely lucky she went home carrying her eclair - I had a far more inventive suggestion for its transportation.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

A-Z of me

Me, me, me! Potty Mummy, you've started something now......I've jumped on the bandwagon too as I too love anything like this (ie sharing the ins and outs of my life with you all) and you're right, you didn't even have to tag me! A-Z is as follows:

A....Attached? To David. And wine gums.

B....Best friend......Charlie who makes me laugh when I cry and cry with laughter.

C....cake or pie? Cake. Or pie if it's cherry. of choice? Friday because I know I've got the weekend in front of me.

E....Essential item? Plural on this one I'm afraid.....lipgloss, Mac, David, my car, my friends, my family.

F....Favourite colour? At the moment, purple. Tops, trousers (no, really, they're nice), nail varnish.....I went for lipstick but it looked as if I was an extra on the Thriller video

G....Gummy bears or worms? Gummy bears every time, I favour the red ones.

H....Hometown? London, born on the banks of the River Thames I was. Okay, okay, St Thomas' Hospital but mum could see the House of Parliament from her bed. If she leant all the way over to the right and lifted up a bit.

I....Favourite Indulgence? Hm. Too many to mention.....a bath with bubbles, glass of wine and a book. A cup of strong tea with two sugars in on a really cold day. Starbucks hot chocolate with cream and cinnamon. Packet of salt and vinegar crisps and a pot of garlic and onion dip.......I could go on. But I won't.

J....January or July? July. Not because I'm particularly fond of summer (I'm a winter-cuddle-up-and-get-cosy kind of gal) but I hate January. Detest it, in fact. It means that Christmas is over and I've got at least a month before all the flowers start coming up. I'm always the one, as the clock strikes midnight on New Years Eve, to be found complaining "Bloody January again"

K....Kids? 1 angelic boy (I am using this term loosely - he's been in bed since 7pm but keeps coming down for a drink/another story/a cuddle....David is up there reasoning with him)

L....Life isn't complete without? Me time.

M....Marriage date? November. I was aiming for a Christmas wedding but we couldn't find a reception venue that suited us so we booked the choicest venue a month early. It was so cold my Aunt Daisy got chilblains but, when they appear every year, she says it reminds her of our wedding. Nice.

N....Number of brothers and sisters. One sister, Bea, light of my life, the straight woman to my joker, seriously generous with everything she owns. And everything that her husband owns too.

O....Oranges or apples? Depends. Apples in the summer (Pimms), oranges in the winter (studded with cloves and baked in a low oven.....yum)

P....Phobias? Spiders and the dark - I leave the landing light on "for Mac" but I'm fooling no-one.

Q....Quotes? I'm paraphrasing wildly here but "It's not how we fall that defines us, it's how we get up". Or something like that. Oh and "I'll tell you this and I'll tell you no more" from Auntie Ivy who always goes on to tell us the original story and about a dozen after that.

R....Reasons to smile? David, Mac, the dogs, watching any bully get their comeuppance. Bad karma maybe but hey, it's always entertaining.

S....Season of choice? This one, autumn. I love it......the freezing air yet it's warm enough to go out without sixteen layers, bonfires (even in Nunhead) and Halloween, Bonfire Night, Christmas......

T....Tag 5 people. Okay, I'm with PM on this.......go on, you know you want to!

U....Unknown fact about me? Erm, I think I've pretty much shared everything. No, hold on.....I was one of the first of many to take the GCSE exams. By that I mean that they came "in" at the time when my predecessors had been doing CSE's and O-Levels. Me and five of my classmates got to hold up our work folders whilst sitting on the school lawn and grin at a phalanx (okay, two) cameras from local newspapers. It was only when the picture was published in the paper I realised I was flashing my drawers. Needless to say I've burned every copy I could get my hands on.

V....Vegetable? Broccoli. Yum. Mac calls it "trees"

W....Worse habit? Biting my nails, actually liking the taste of "No Bitee Nails" or whatever it's called and, erm, being, erm, indecisive.

X....X-ray or ultrasound. X-ray. All of the ultrasounds I've had have required a full to bursting bladder and then some joker comes along and pushes down on said bladder area really hard with a hard metal objecty thing. The trick is not to pee yourself. During month seven of my pregnancy I failed miserably and the green suited lady had to go and find herself some dry scrubs.

Y....Your favourite food? Chicken, roasted with lemon, tarragon, black pepper and garlic. I could even eat it on its own.

Z.... Zodiac sign? Gemini. Need I say any more?

Now, re-read T and go for it!

Sunday, 5 October 2008

A month on

Mac loves school, it's official. He imparted this news to me while we were reading through his latest book this morning. "It's a bit frightening sometimes but I like it and my new friends, even the girls." The last word was given about seven syllables and was accompanied by a screwed up face. His favourite parts of the day are, in no particular order, registration ("we have to say 'present' but Sean Michaels says 'here' and we all laugh"), lunchtime (when I first caught sight of the "typical menu" I thought I'd wandered into Cafe Rouge instead of a south London primary school - god bless Jamie Oliver) and the Afternoon Free Time. This is the last half an hour of the day and the children are able to do whatever they want to - Mac can be typically found in the Book Corner with his Bestsest Friend Ever Toby Williams pretending to be "library men". The Bigger Boys and Girls tend to ignore the Foundation Classes so he's not being bullied, quite the opposite in fact.......when I collected him one day with all three dogs we were at the school gates for half an hour as Mac introduced the dogs to what seemed like every child in the school.

David, being an accountant, is keen to hear how he's getting on in Maths. "Numbers daddy" Mac corrected and proceeded to count up to twenty without breathing - you could have knocked us both down with a calculator. They start their two times table soon apparently but the big theme at the moment is Autumn. "We're going to the park on Monday to look at Ortnum" Mac announced casually on Friday when I picked him up: I was gripped with panic. One teacher and 24 children. In a park. Out in public. Out of the safety of the classroom. I relayed my fears to Dawn, Jonathan's mum, who informed me that the three Classroom Assistants we've christened Dot Cotton (she has the same hair), Mavis Wilton (indecisive witterer) and Alice Tinker (bit dippy but warm hearted) would be going too. "But still, all those roads between the school and Peckham Rye" I went on. Dawn looked at me as if I was one of those Over Protective Mothers she's read about. I was then brought up with a start as Over Protective Mother started laying into Mr S, the form teacher, about her precious Jacob being eaten by a Rottweiler or being hit by a falling branch. Dawn and I exchanged sickly smiles and I went home with my bouncing boy.

Apart from Ortnum (I'm so glad I'm recording all these "Mac moments" on this blog!) they are learning about "Ourselves". Mac had me hooting with laughter when he told me what he had said last week during the lesson on Families. "Mummy, I said that my mummy and my daddy and I lived in a house and that my big brother lives in another house but he's not my mummy's but he's my daddy's and my Granny's". It's heartening to know that Mac understands the basic make-up of our family and it also explains the funny look I got from Mr S when I picked Mac up that day.

They're also learning about Growing Things. Mac has been given some cress seeds (well actually, he had to take in 25p to pay for them) and was asked to grow them "on an old flannel" and bring them in for Gardening Day which is next Friday. I'm pretty sure David won't miss his favourite Egyptian cotton navy blue flannel but, in case he does, I'm on the search for a new one.

During half term each child has been asked (courtesy of a letter home) to "do something relating to growing things". I'm taking him to B&Q to get some bulbs. Dawn admires my relaxed approach to things and is trying valiantly to get out of the trip to Kew Gardens that Queen Bee Mummy has signed her up for. "How did you get out of it?" Dawn demanded as she and Keen To Do Everything Right Mummy swooped on me by the school gate. "I merely said no" I said smoothly, neglecting to add that my "no" had the quiver of high pitch desperation as I grabbed Mac and ran before she could put my name down on her clipboard. I later confessed all to Dawn and she has decided to be brave and just refuse point blank to go. "I'll do it after school one day, after I've had a few drinks to calm my nerves" she added.

As I type Mac is polishing his satchel with a tub of beeswax and a bright yellow cloth, just as David showed him. David is watching him, encouraging him to "take the wax right up to the buckle son". No matter that the only things the satchel has ever carried so far is a sneaky packet of Jelly Tots given to him on his first day and a handkerchief with some of my perfume sprayed on it in case he missed me.

After his full second week he gave it back to me as "some of the Big Boys say I smell like a trollop. What's a trollop mummy?"

Education, tis a wonderful thing.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Church Noticeboards

I've been to work today, my first day in for.....ooooh.....weeks. Needless to say I had 103 emails and they were nearly all, to my shame but also my great delight, containing jokes. This one had me cackling all to myself in a deserted waiting area - these are (apparently) all genuine errors found on church noticeboards.

The Fasting & Prayer Conference includes meals
The sermon this morning: 'Jesus Walks on the Water.' The sermon tonight: 'Searching for Jesus.'
Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale. It's a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Bring your husbands.
Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our community. Smile at some one who is hard to love. Say 'Hell' to someone who doesn't care much about you.
Don't let worry kill you off - let the Church help.
Miss Charlene Mason sang 'I will not pass this way again,' giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.
For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs.
Next Thursday there will be tryouts for the choir. They need all the help they can get.
Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.
A bean supper will be held on Tuesday evening in the church hall. Music will follow.
At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be 'What Is Hell?' Come early and listen to our choir practice.
Eight new choir robes are currently needed due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.
Scouts are saving aluminum cans, bottles and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.
Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person you want remembered.
The church will host an evening of fine dining, super entertainment and gracious hostility.
Potluck supper Sunday at 5:00 PM - prayer and medication to follow.
The ladies of the Church have cast off clothing of every kind. They may be seen in the basement on Friday afternoon.
This evening at 7 PM there will be a hymn singing in the park across from the Church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.
Ladies Bible Study will be held Thursday morning at 10 AM. All ladies are invited to lunch in the Fellowship Hall after the B. S. is done.
The pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the Congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday.
Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 PM. Please use the back door.
The eighth-graders will be presenting Shakespeare's Hamlet in the Church basement Friday at 7 PM. The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.
Weight Watchers will meet at 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church. Please use large double door at the side entrance.
The Associate Minister unveiled the church's new campaign slogan last Sunday: 'I Upped My Pledge - Up Yours.'
Have a fab Friday evening!

Wednesday, 1 October 2008


Having reached that "certain" age I'm noticing some unpleasant things happening to my skin. I have developed panda eyes, dry skin on my cheeks and some lines around my eyes that not even Bio-oil eradicates. My shins look scaly and my elbows are horrid. Bea has had a skin care regime since she was 14 and sticks rigidly to it (apart from nights where she can be found face down in a vat of vino or "too overworked darling" to find her bed let alone her night cream) and is constantly on at me to develop my own. "Taking off your make up with baby lotion and bunging on a bit of oil isn't working any more darling, you need to exfoliate, to moisturise, to plump, to get with the whole skin care programme - do you want to look like a hag when you're older?" This latter comment is always, if we're at her house, directed at a picture of her mother in law that resides on the mantlepiece.

Charlie is a fan of Clinique and looks like she has an outlet in her bathroom - Lydia, on the other hand, comes from the School of Slatternly Skin Care Regimes just like me. "Erm, some avocado face cream that I got from Avon about five years ago" she answered to my question of "what beauty products do you use?"

David hasn't said anything about my careworn appearance apart from asking me if I was tired not two minutes after I got up on Sunday despite the fact that I was wide awake and raring to go. It was at that point that I decided to do something productive. Janey dragged me to Bluewater on Monday and forced me into a makeover chair. A twelve year old glossy haired minx appeared with a magnifying mirror and a very bright light and made tutting noises for a full fifteen minutes. She then proceeded to slather me in various lotions and potions, one of which made me feel as if my face was on fire. "Ids nod a facial peel ith id?" I asked through clenched teeth. Twelve year old minx shook her head and started totting up the total of everything that "a woman of your age and - eeeeesssshhhhh - skin condition should require". The "eeeeessssshhhh" was a sharp intake of breath that made me feel incredibly guilty and ancient.

The total cost of everything I should require made me feel very glad I was seated. I wiped everything off my mush, thanked her politely, collected Janey from the perfume counter where she was complaining that "everything smells like freesias now I'm pregnant" and we came home. For a sulk. I was obviously so beyond help that it would take a good few hundred quid to put right. David tiptoed round me all night but, helpfully, bought in a bottle of Olay.

Talking to Jane Opposite yesterday morning (hiding my hideous dry and scaly complexion) we got talking about my awful trip to Bluewater. "I tell you what, you don't look a day over 30" she said, peering at me closely. "Really?" I enquired brightly. She then went on to recommend Philosophy "I've been using it for ages, it's bloody fantastic" she added, giving me her face to study. I have to admit, she's got a few years on me and looks as fresh as the typical daisy. "No make up on today nor nothing" she went on. "I only tend to put the slap on when I go out these days and as I hardly go out then I hardly ever wear the slap!". I left her musing her lack of social life and got surfing.

QVC. Where would I be without it?

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.