Monday, 30 March 2009

Day Four and catching up

Mac was taken to school by Granny today. I insisted and all but threw them out of the door. Then I felt terrible and rang Dawn, asking her to text me when they arrived at school. "Take a stroll along Nunhead Lane afterwards Amelia!" I said cheerily as they departed and I slumped onto the sofa. It's no exaggeration to say that it's been hell for the past couple of days. Those without in-laws (or those with nice in-laws) gape at me when I start snarling about Amelia but David left for work early today and was whistling.

Thursday, when she arrived, set the scene for her entire stay so far. David tells me it can only get better but, as he was telling me this from a restaurant at Tower Bridge and I was sitting here with her and a frugal ham sandwich, I'm not convinced. Apparently, he is looking peaky - amazing that she knew seeing as this statement was made three hours before arrived home on Thursday night. David's Ex Wife "knew how to look after him" - this was said as she sifted through the ironing basket after twenty minutes on the premises. I am also "ruining Mackenzie" by letting him have half an hour of television before David comes home. This from a woman who gave him three bags of Haribo sweets when he got home from school and refused to let me put some away for later. "Leave him! Children need to make choices". Mac didn't make any choices between the bears or the strawberries or the sour mix but poured them all in a bowl and got down to munching. Said bowl is now somewhere unaccessible for a five year old. She asked me yesterday what I'd done with them - I professed not to hear and turned the radio up.

On Thursday she asked to see the menu for the week - I gazed at her and mumbled something about "chops for tonight, fish and chips for tomorrow and stew for Saturday" which made her sniff haughtily and question my imagination on the "cooking front". The house wasn't up to her standards either - I could tell this by the way she ran her finger along the window sill and examined it closely. The speck of dust she found was then magnified immensely and she started asking me if I'd seen that "brilliant machine that gets rid of bed lice". I've had nightmares ever since of bed bugs the size of Amelia criticising my bed linen "which wouldn't look out of place in a bordello". The bathroom also came under fire: "do you need all this clutter in here?" she demanded, pointing to my glass sail boat and crystal seahorse who were minding their own business on the towel cabinet. On Saturday she tugged all of our coats off of the coat rack and into a heap and told me to "sort through these, surely you can ditch a couple?" I was so tempted to bin her hideous puffa jacket thing. So, so tempted......

She also seems to have mistaken me for an entertainments agency "I'm bored" being the continuous refrain. Mildly irritating when a five year old who has a whole room full of toys to play with says it, horrifically stressful when it's an elderly woman who once castigated me for "sighing" during a long walk in Hastings. "How can you be bored?" she whirled round and demanded of me. I protested my innocence but she was off and running about the "younger generation not knowing they've been born". I wasn't sighing because I was bored, I was inhaling because we were walking up a hill.

Ginny, her beloved only daughter, rang for a chat yesterday and David, wonderful man that he is, told Ginny to come up for the day on Wednesday to take Amelia out to lunch. Ginny agreed after a bit of hissing from David but Amelia is all for ringing up and cancelling "She doesn't want to do that! I'm okay here! I'll find something to do.". I've taken the battery out of her mobile and have not left her alone with the phone. Oh, and Lydia has refused to visit again until she's gone - Freddie is a bonny child, his health visitor is very pleased with him and he's giggling away like that very last baby on the Cow and Gate advert. Amelia, however, took one look at her great grandson and pronounced him "obese". Even Freddie looked unhappy at this and unleashed a nuclear nappy. Lydia has made an emergency appointment at the baby clinic and keeps sobbing that she's overfeeding her baby and is like one of those trailer park mums. Matthew was despatched this morning to "have words" with his Gran. Instead he spent the entire time with me in the kitchen whilst Amelia "channel surfed" looking for something "educational - doesn't your television show anything other than rubbish and foul mouthed presenters?"

According to Amelia the mothers at the school gates are a degenerative lot. She came back this morning looking horrified. "Piercings, foul language and chewing gum - and they wonder why children are potty mouthed and dress like tarts?" she announced as she got yet another Yorkshire Tea tea bag out of her special caddy. She didn't make me one, nor even offer by the way. We spent today at opposite ends of the house. Or, to be more accurate, she followed me around. My ironing skills were ripped to shreds, the fact that I use Flash Liquid was held up to ridicule, my hoovering arm "isn't flexible enough" and my "lick and a spit" in the utility room is the reason why "it smells like a raddled old tramp out here".

I've got at least four more days of this. At least. I think I'm going to start seriously looking at the suggestions in the comments to the previous post. Although. Between you and me. I did make her a caffeinated coffee instead of a decaff one on Friday night which gave her a teensy headache all day Saturday. It was an accident. Honest!

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Day Three

Amelia is here until "at least" Friday. Friday. That's a whole week. Or it was yesterday. A whole seven days of hell on earth. I've taken on board all of the suggestions I've received, War Command has been set up on my half of the bedroom. Picture this, if you will:

A notebook is constantly at my elbow, not only to record the cutting comments aimed in my direction but also my thoughts. Token Gay Friend Andy suggested this as did Potty Mummy (apologies, but I've embellished your suggestion PM!). I'm currently sifting through the notebook, composing a post (it helps to share and vent) but all I'm doing is succeeding in getting myself into such a rage that I'm in danger of overdoing the

Alcohol: copious amounts of vodka (which set her off on a rant about my being an alcoholic) cunningly hidden in cranberry juice and coke but she knows it's in there. This was a suggestion from my darling sister and also Married With Four. I needed a double when I heard her say to Mac "I don't know what's wrong with your mother!"

An aura of serenity: sort of suggested by Nappy Valley Girl and Charlie who has herself, today, been on the receiving end of Amelia's cutting wit. "Have you still not got a man?" said my mother in law. Charlie inhaled sharply (her love life is something of a sore point) and rammed an entire Ayres hot cross bun (unbuttered) into her mouth.

Thinking happy thoughts. This from my beloved husband who is wearing a weary expression and keeps apologising for unleashing her on the household. I feel so sorry for him, I really do. I can't quite work out how somebody as lovely, generous and warm came out of that woman.

Eating: I've done nothing but eat Quality Street today. Of course, it's given her more ammunition ("Should you be eating that much chocolate? Those jeans are awfully tight already") but at least this way I get something good out of it. Or, as Janey pointed out, "you may just well put on half a stone and that's a great way to piss her off, turning yourself into a lard bucket". She means well.

Denial. This isn't happening. It's a bad dream, I'll wake up in a minute

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Day One

Ameila is here and arrived at quarter past eleven with enough luggage to cover at least a week long stay. The clouds of doom are getting thicker and heavier around my head, the dogs are already moping in their baskets, knowing they're in for the duration.

Thus far we have the following:

Criticisms of my wifely skills: five
Criticisms of my motherly skills: eight
Complaints about my cooking/"lack of imagination in the kitchen": three
Comments about the "state of the house": ten (three bathroom related comments)
Suggestions that she is bored already: two
Suggestions for "fun" things for me to do to "entertain her": six
Sarcastic comments directed at friends/family/mums at school gate: numerous
Times I wanted to tell her where to go and what to do when she got there: far too many to even mention

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Trying times

What is with the weather? After the weekend, in which we went to London Zoo to visit Mac's meerkat (explanatory post to follow), and spent the day in T-shirts and quaffing ice-cream, I've spent today alternately freezing my feet off, getting drenched, jumping at the thunder claps and not going near any windows in case I got hit by lightening.

It's been a bit of a week this week - I've had a headache since Sunday evening - and it's set to get worse. Amelia is arriving tomorrow for a prolonged visit while her flat in the residential home is being redecorated. Everything is currently beige: walls, skirting boards, carpets - I asked her what colours she's chosen this time and she answered "Magnolia". The words "why are they bothering" spring to mind but still, it gives her the opportunity to visit, criticise my cleaning ability, comment on my whites and terrorise me from dawn to dusk.
So she's relatively happy.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Oh my!

Forgive me for this slightly self-indulgent post but I just have to tell you that I appear in the list of Top 100 UK Parent Bloggers - now, how did that happen? And at number 38!

Like Married With Four, I'm surprised (but highly pleased natch!) that I'm even on the list. I haven't quite worked out the technicalities - believe me, that will take a little while due to the fact that I'm not technical - but wow! All this plus, MWF is back, back, back and I've found some new blogs to read and follow!

Sunday, 15 March 2009


Mac came home from school on Friday sporting a red nose, clutching a picture and covered in glitter. They'd had Red Nose Day at School which consisted in dressing in their own clothes (I always felt a bit wrong doing that when I was at school, like I was out of place), eating "funny" food (jam sandwiches featured heavily) and telling jokes. So here, at enormous expense is the funny that Mac unleashed on his school mates:

Mac, no doubt shyly: "Knock Knock?"
Classmates in one bellow: "who's there?"
Mac, doubled over with laughter: "Nobody!"
Classmates, surely in confusion: "Nobody who?"
Mac, exiting stage left "told you, haha!"

I must admit I didn't find it funny. And tried to convince him that he somehow had the joke wrong. "But it's not funny" said I in confusion on Thursday afternoon. "Oh it is mummy!" he giggled and then roared with laughter for about five minutes. Later, as I was tucking him in I broached the subject again by asking him to tell me his joke again, whilst I reprised the role of his classmates. More giggling followed the "joke" and I tried to slip in a few of my own funny Knock Knock jokes as a substitute. He wasn't having any of it. "No, my joke is funniest" he said adamantly, setting his chin in a defiant pose, just like his father.

"Did you get Mac's joke?" I demanded of said father when I returned to watch mindless television and drink red wine. "Yes, quite funny!" David said, channel hopping away from Eastenders in the vain hope that I didn't see it. I did. And tried to make the joke funny in my mind. I gave up after a while and concentrated on the unlikely story line in Easties.

"He'll be fine darling!" Bea announced the following morning when she bustled in to say she'd Done Something Funny For Money - she went into Claire's Accessories to buy some red wigs for Caitlin and Ian. "Lovely girl, it was awful. A slip of a girl with multiple piercings in her eyebrow and lip area asked me if I wanted my ears pierced as they were doing a special offer". For Bea, had she accepted this offer, it would have been her equivalent of scaling Mount Kilimanjaro. "They do it in the window of the shop!" she went on, shuddering as she handed over a set of deely boppers for her nephew. "I felt like I was in Amsterdam rather than Lewisham!" she went on, sniffing out the Earl Grey teabags and filling the kettle.

Lewisham? I asked my sister if she were okay, Lewisham not being her usual shopping destination. "I needed a key cutting place, Stephen has locked away my credit cards because of the credit crunch, I had to get a copy of his key cut and thought Lewisham was suitably, shall we say, suitable for such nefarious activities?" Talking of nefarious activities, I asked her if Stephen knew she had his key and had, in fact, copied it. "Don't be silly darling! He doesn't even know that I know he keeps it in his sock drawer! He thinks he has got the better of me, well, let me tell you, nothing separates me from my credit cards, not even my husband." She had taken on a crazed look at this point and started stroking her fringed bag like a Bond villain.

I need not have worried, Mac returned full of his "fun" day at school and revealed that everyone had laughed at his joke and he had won the Best Joke of The Day award. Whilst very proud of my tiny boy, I spent Comic Relief night, glued to the television, the words "now that was funny!" every time a joke was told forming on my lips.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Shopping frenzy

I've got so many birthdays coming up the next couple of months that I've decided to be extremely pro-active (unusual for me) and buy now (hoping and praying that I remember what the hell I've bought for who).

Shiny Shack came to my rescue - they do personalised things, jokey things, sweets, cards, charms - in fact anything you could possibly think of. I've bought Bea this, to make up for the lack of bling from the Tower of London.

Go on, visit......I bet you buy something!

Saturday, 7 March 2009

An Outing

I was accosted at the school gate on Wednesday afternoon by the Over Zealous School Secretary who all but got me in a headlock before you could say "primary school education". The reason for her determination became clear once she'd uttered the words "school outing on Friday" and "a volunteer has pulled out". It seems that someone had nominated me to take their place - Dawn swears blind it wasn't her. "If I can get someone to look in on the dogs" I said, hedging several bets and vowing not to ask anyone to dogsit for the day.

I knew about the day trip to the Tower of London of course, I'd signed the requisite forms, paid over a deposit, then the full amount, gave £10 to the teacher for "spending money", signed another hastily cobbled together form from the coach company (something about if the coach breaks down then we'd be responsible for collecting out children wherever it breaks down) and bought Mac a red cap. Every child has to have a red cap "on arrival at the school gate or they will not be permitted to join the outing". Mac has been conditioned since birth that red means Arsenal, Man United or Liverpool and was in a major sulk about the fact that he couldn't wear a blue one. "Or my Millwall one mummy" he said on Thursday afternoon.

I couldn't get out of it. To be honest, I didn't really want to - I love the Tower of London, the fact that you're walking where Anne Boleyn was before she got her head chopped off and that you can buy jewellery from the Jewel House. But did I really want to do visit with 24 children? Even if one was my own?

It turned out I had no option. David - handily - had the day off which I'd forgotten about so he was able to dogsit. Mac was beside himself with excitement that "mummy" was going with him and "Johnny's mummy isn't". There's a continuing rivalry between Mac and Johnny and I think it's got something to do with Megan. Blonde haired, blue eyed but unfortunately keen on Ramon. Apparently they all "do kiss chase" in the playground. When Mac told me that I had to go and inhale some chocolate.

Anyway. Bright and breezy on Friday morning I was on a coach with five other adults doing a head count. Kids are quick aren't they? I was using Michael (stunning redhead) as a starting point but he kept whizzing from one side of the coach to another. I gave up in the end and relinquished control to Mrs Wilson who terrifies me.

By the time we'd got to the Tower, we'd had stories about Henry VIII and his many wives and I was beginning to get increasingly excited myself. But could I wander round and gaze in awe and shop in peace? Could I meander round with my camera? Could I buggery. 24 children had to be taken to the toilet and I found myself channelling Joyce Grenfell's schoolteacher: "Johnny, don't do that, pull up your trousers" and "Kara, did you wash your hands? No? Why not? Go and wash them please!"

24 children then had to be restrained from galloping off in a million different directions and herded into a tight group. My own little red capped boy was beginning to look like he wished "mummy" hadn't come along. I constantly found myself addressing him even when he was doing what he should be doing. Kara decided she wanted to go and sit on the wall by the raven house yet I told Mac very loudly that he couldn't do that. Mac, who was quite happy standing there gazing open mouthed at a Beefeater, gave me a funny look.

We started off by walking round to the execution site, which is now a lovely monument with the names of those who died on the spot etched into a gorgeous glass table like....erm....thing. The Beefeater who was assigned to us held the kids enthralled with tales of executions and made us all jump when he bellowed "And then her head was chopped off!". Jessima started crying and demanded her mummy.

Mac was keen to go into the shop (he takes after me on that front) but we had to hold off for lunch which we ate sitting outside the White Tower. Three children had not brought a packed lunch and so were not allowed on the trip - oh the tears and recriminations from miffed parents. I was concentrating so hard on remember to make and take Mac's one that I hadn't done anything for myself. Yummy smells were wafting from the New Armouries restaurant but I couldn't leave my post. I consoled myself by eating Mac's crusts.

During the afternoon I spoke to Bea - she also has a great affinity with the Tudors and related buildings (we're convinced she was Anne Boleyn in a previous existence) and I texted her a picture of the execution site along with the words "The spot where you lost your head!". She responded with "OMIGOD" and rang to request some "trinkets". If she was hoping I would whip into the Jewel House and pick her up a bit of bling suitable for a beheaded Queen of England, she was sorely mistaken. As was I. I asked my fellow volunteer, I Used To Be A Career Woman You Know Mummy, if she would mind if I sloped off for ten minutes. She gave me a look, pretty much like she probably gave her minions if they cheeked her, and refused point blank. However, I did notice her in the shop flexing her credit card half an hour later.

Still. The kids enjoyed themselves, ran riot in the one shop were were allowed in (all plastic swords, tatty tiaras and pens) and learnt a fair bit. Mac behaved so well, especially in the shop - he'd spent his £10 on a polyester chain mail tabard, a pencil, eraser and sword and didn't even think of asking me for some more money when he discovered that he hadn't bought any postcards. Unlike I Used To Be A Career Woman You Know Mummy's son Jasper who threw a tantrum of epic proportions because he'd spent his money on crap sweets and pencil sharpeners and then demanded his mother give him more money to buy a crown. Horrified by Jasper's behaviour (and Mrs Wilson's scorn) she started chucking cash around like it was going out of fashion.

"I wouldn't have given into him" Mrs Wilson berated her as we made our way out to meet up with the coach "In doing that you are teaching him that he who shouts loudest, gets what he wants" she added. I Used To Be A Career Woman You Know Mummy looked puzzled at this and was heard to ask Mr Phillips "what does she mean?" Mrs Wilson had had a very trying day, she too had forgotten her lunch and was existing, she advised me, on "a box of raisins that my granddaughter had left in my coat pocket last weekend".

The coach didn't break down but Mrs Wilson was on the verge, she was first off the coach and into the staff room. I noticed that she'd bought some bramble brandy in the shop too.
Oooh, and I wonder who this was? See orb at top left hand side......a different kind of spirit?

Monday, 2 March 2009

Mission Impossible

What do you do when your soon-to-be-five-year-old-son announces that he "doesn't want the present I asked for the other day mummy" and insists he's found a fantastically fabulous new present that he absolutely must have, two days before his birthday?

Do you do as David did? Ignore all pleas of this new present being the "bestest ever present ever" and extol the virtues of the present already bought and wrapped and hiding in the Cupboard At The Top of The Stairs?

Do you do as Auntie Ivy did? Bang on and on about "kids today having too much bleeding choice, my God, when I was his age I was bloody grateful if I got a couple of sweets and the unbroken chair to sit on"?

Or do you do as I did? Ring my sister in a state of panic, feeling like the Worst Mother In The World and have to listen to her hoot with laughter at my predicament?

Imagine my shock on Thursday evening when, just before bedtime, Mac chortled with laughter at this advert and declared "That's what I want for my birthday mummy!". He meant, of course, Aleksandr, star of said advert and would not be swayed. "He's not real!" I said heartily as we made our way upstairs. Cue look from Mac who said in a pitying tone of voice "Of course he is mummy, he's on the telly!"

The desire to own a meerkat did not abate on Friday morning and, on the way home from school that afternoon, I was a little concerned at the amount of comments Mac was receiving about his forthcoming birthday present. These included "Oh, you're so lucky! My mum won't even let me have a rabbit!" and "What are you going to call him?" Clearly my child had informed his entire class that I was spending the day mooching for meerkats.

Friday evening saw me ringing round assorted friends and family for help and advice. Four of them were incredibly unhelpful but Charlie played an absolute blinder. "Adopt one" she said. Result! There are many reasons why I love Charlie and this is just one of them, she has turned thinking out of the box into an art form! Bea was equally impressed but not for long as she had to go off and "look for something online darling".

On Saturday morning I told Mac that Auntie Charlie had found him a meerkat ("sourced" as Bea would say). "Wow, thank you!" he beamed and did a little breakdance a la Cruz Beckham. "Can I cuddle it now mummy?" he asked, peering into the garden as if the meerkat was waiting for him by the clump of daffodils just sprouting up by Becks' hutch. "Erm no, he won't be here but we can visit him where he lives!" I said, shoving a bowl of Cheerios under his nose and envisaging spending a fortune in zoo entrance fees.

He didn't take the news very well. "You spoil that child" David said ominously as he went off to explain to Mac that meerkats don't like Nunhead and prefer the rarified air of Regent's Park. After ten minutes, they both returned, one looking slightly mollified, the other looking very worried. "Can I see him soon though please mummy?" asked the nearly-birthday-boy. I assured him he could and breathed a sigh of relief. David took me to one side and whispered "He asked me if meerkats could get on buses, he may well try and liberate one when you take him to the zoo to see it". Note the use of the word "you".

Saturday afternoon is best glossed over. Suffice to say I came out of the cinema with a headache and a desire never to visit ever again. Mac and I were both in bed by half past eight.

Sunday morning and a chorus of Happy Birthday and lots of phone calls for the birthday boy, including one from Charlie who was asked if she could "bring my meerkat" to his party. She fudged it very well and said that the meerkat sent his best but was busy. His other presents went down very well including the present liberated from the Cupboard At The Top of The Stairs that had Janey screaming and reaching for her mirror. "Oh my dear God Mac, I've run out of straightening serum!"

The cake, supplied by Auntie Ivy, was yummy and the birthday boy himself was heard to say it was the bestest one he's ever had in his "whole life". Bestest present ever though was from Bea - it hasn't left his side since Sunday and I had to promise to look after him while he was at school today. I was then cross examined on our way home about "his" day. I've now researched properly the likes and dislikes of meerkats after my "lie" about him having porridge for breakfast was uncovered. "He doesn't eat porridge mummy" Mac said with a snort of derision.

Well, quite.

All about me

My photo
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.