Sunday, 30 November 2008

Denial

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Superior Scribbler

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

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Overheard conversations: one

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

It's Carnival Time at Potty Mummy's

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

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

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Perfume and prostates

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Disaster

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

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

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

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

I think she may need therapy.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Sky talk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And I’m still blushing.

Friday, 14 November 2008

7even

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Onto the next stage.

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 10 November 2008

Rumbled

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

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

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

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

Rumbled

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 6 November 2008

An update update

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

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

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

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

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

Four days in and it’s working already.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

It's a boy!

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

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

Is half term over yet?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.