Monday, 21 September 2009

Carry on Burglar

What would you think if this flyer popped through your letter box as it did ours on Saturday morning? Would you panic like David and start checking that the house insurance is up to date? Would you hoot hysterically like Jane Opposite at the dramatics of it all? Would you worry, like Ruby Over The Road, that while we’re all at the Stewarts house and our houses are empty, we’ll all be turned over?

Anyway, I’m not going. I’m not missing Strictly Come Dancing for a bunch of hysterics and Marjorie’s macaroons. “I didn’t put my macaroons on there because we’d just get everyone turning up to be fed and not because their attendance is vital” Marjorie informed me yesterday afternoon when she popped round with a beef stew because “well, you can’t cook with that ankle can you? And what with David playing golf and all…..” She should have seen me on Saturday, hopping on one leg, laughing hysterically at Bea who, in apparent sympathy (or trying to steal my thunder) had fallen over in a pile of leaves in Dulwich Park and had hurt her left knee. It’s a vivid purple and puffy.

“Can you really afford not to dear?” she asked in response to the news that I would not be attending on Friday night. “I mean, the way things are today……” she trailed off and looked out of the window along the Avenue as if she expected to see three rapists, two cat burglars and a mugger hovering.

“David will probably go” I said, one eye on Airport 77 – I love a good disaster movie. “Can I go mummy?” Mac piped up. “Oooh no dearie, not to a grown ups meeting” she said, patting him so hard on his head that her bracelets nearly left a dent in his cranium. “Not really for Little Ones” she mouthed to me as she made to leave “Not with the statistics that Frank’s preparing” she added with a grimace.

So. We’re going to be scared to death by our very own Neighbourhood Watch Chairman. Great. Petrified of our own shadows and forced to eat macaroons.

David has agreed to go to the meeting “to escape Strictly” – the man has no taste. So, while he’ll be listening to Frank’s statistics, setting up vigilante groups and being issued with whistles and torches (oh yes, I forgot to tell you that little nugget didn’t I?) I shall be deep in glitter, lycra and glitz.

I think I’ve got the better deal don’t you?

Friday, 18 September 2009

Birthday Planning

I'm a more mobile today which is fortunate as it's Charlie's birthday bashette tomorrow and, if I'm to be the Hostess With The Mostess, I need to do it without hobbling. She doesn't want a fuss, bless her.

Guest list: her, me, Saskia (if she can finish work in time), Janey, Bea, Lydia. The Boys will be sent to Janey and Darren's house for the duration.

Present wish list: "anything pretty, sweet, girly, practical, functional, smelly, useful, interesting, wacky, random or amazing"

Party menu: "nothing major" then, 24 hours later "can you do your garlic chicken thing? And that nice malteser cake thing! Oh, and I've got a real thing for smoked salmon at the mo, so some of that? With cream cheese and lemon and, oooooh, some of those king prawns and that spicy thousand island dressing?" and then half an hour later "to go with the chicken can you do some proper jackets, like bake in the oven from scratch deal rather than nuke in micro for ten minutes first?"

Drinks: "if I can sleep over on Saturday anything alcoholic" and then ten minutes later "do you still have all those cocktail ingredients? Shall I get some? we can have cocktails and get Bea drunk!"

Specialist decorations: "balloons! Wouldn't be a birthday without balloons!"

I'm so glad she doesn't want a fuss!

Monday, 14 September 2009

Bea-by sitting

I love my sister. I really do. She's kind, thoughtful, loving and caring. She's also certifiably insane. I'm letting you know now that this post could sound extremely ungrateful. Bea is Alternate New Age - alternate in that at work she can verbally whup someone's arse whilst wearing a power suit, sipping a skinny latte and barking orders at subordinates but at home she's all kaftans, herbal remedies, "love n peace" and soothing words.

Guess which persona turned up on my doorstep this morning to "babysit" me. "Darling, don't get up, I've got the key!" she chirruped as she breezed in and caught sight of me in my jim jams struggling into the kitchen for a wash (I can't make the stairs without tears). Usually Bea would be horrified to find me in flannelette and would immediately order me some silk nighties on the internet. New Age Bea was near to tears as she clutched me to her bosom (brushed cotton covered).

The morning was spent chummily watching Lord Ray of Winston in Henry VIII and coming over all unnecessary. But she refused to let me have access to the custard creams. And made me a Green Tea (she had bought a goodie bag) instead of PG. During my second shuffle to the downstairs loo (really, it'd be funny if I wasn't in such agony) she wouldn't pause the programme for me and said that I could "move quicker if you really wanted to". Having dangled the carrot of Mr Winstone stripping off under my nose she then suggested that I should make her a cup of tea "for a change".

I sent her up to Ayres for lunch. I asked for a chicken tikka doorstep or, failing that, a BLT roll or a sausage roll even. While she was out I hazarded an unguarded trip to the loo, fell over Junior Dog and nearly broke my neck. She returned, pooh-poohed my tale of woe and handed over the box of salad she had bought me. Apparently they were all out of my luncheon choices. If I could have got up there I would have personally questioned Mr Ayre as to the whereabouts of his tikka, bacon and sausage rolls.

During my salad box we finished off Mr Winstone and then she tried to encourage me to wear various different crystals about my person. Now, I'm one of the first to embrace anything like quote ABBA, I believe in angels. What I was not at all happy with was her "opening my chakras" with Mac due through the door at any moment. "Darling, you need to open up your channels to enable yourself to heal" she said in soothing tones whilst whizzing me up a cocktail of "health giving ingredients" in the blender. Middle Dog refused to touch it and he eats snails fresh from plant pots.

Mac was delighted to find Auntie Bea on the premises but was not at all impressed with the oatcakes she tried to give him for tea. "Where are the dammy jodgers?" he asked me in an undertone. "Auntie Bea has hidden them honey, we'll get them out tomorrow when Janey's here". He tried, God love him. Even made yummy noises. But he got an oat stuck and choked so much I had visions of going back to A&E for the second time in four days.

We were allowed to watch QVC though, as apparently "some of the items are incredible bargains". She bought her Pilates machine from there and "can't live without it". Mac fell in love with one of Charlie's Bears and wanted to buy David Bear because "it's like my daddy's name" but wasn't allowed to buy it because "it's mass produced darling boy". Mac, not understanding consumerism and distraught at a) there being no jammy dodgers, b) the lingering threat of oakcakes and c) Auntie Bea in New Age mode saying "no", had a mini paddy and sat down huffily on my bad leg.

Cue much bad language from me just as his father returned from work with a cheery greeting and a boyish smile. New Age Bea packed up her goodie bag and promised to return on Friday with a kiss and a plea to "stop swearing darling, it's bad for your karma."

I keep telling myself off for being such a meanie but when your leg is throbbing like an unexploded bomb, it's very hard. And she rang me half an hour ago to see if I was enjoying the Green Tea. She means well bless her.

Sunday, 13 September 2009


I was rushed to A&E on Friday afternoon. Well. I say "rushed" more hoiked. I was dropping Mac off to tea at his friend Billy's house and, because I've recently been struggling with the old image, was wearing ridiculously high heeled boots with a view to a) bolstering my self-image and b) whipping into the hospital where I work (every now and again) to say hello to the girls and boys and showing them that I have retained some of my old spark and verve whilst giving my child a fulfilling social life.

All was well, we'd taken the train which was a major excitement for my pride and joy and, although I was struggling with the terrain in my four inch heels, we were bounding along quite happily as we turned into Billy's road. I'm not quite sure what happened if I'm honest, all I remember is a sharp agonizing pain in my right ankle, the knowledge that my foot should not be pointing in that direction, the feel of cold hard concrete beneath my palms and cheek, gratitude that I was wearing jeans and the fact that Mac was screaming his head off which meant we were soon joined by half of the street.

Billy's dad Roger was tasked with taking me over to the hospital, which he did by half carrying me as he wasn't "forking out money for the car park" and assuring me that they "were brilliant" and would "get me sorted". He dumped me on a chair in A&E and approached the desk demanding that I "be seen to immediately" as my "distressed son was distressed at his mummy's accident and if a consultant wasn't summoned IMMEDIATELY then by Golly there would be Hell to pay". Kim and Kelly on reception were not remotely fazed by this blatant attempt at queue jumping (there were three gentleman already waiting along with a lolly pop lady and a woman on an electric scooter who was eating wine gums loudly) and gave him short shrift.

"Oh it's JO!" Kelly boomed once she'd caught sight of me and I was whizzed straight through to cubicles. "You have to show these people who is the boss!" Jim informed me as he watched me drape myself elegantly on the bed. I shushed him as politely as I could and told him that I worked here and so was being sort of fast tracked because of that. "NONSENSE!" he bellowed and moved my damaged leg before plonking himself down on the end of my bed. I felt bad enough being given preferential treatment but didn't want him to think that his boorish attitude and somehow helped me along.

By now my whole leg, encased in black leather up to the knee, was throbbing alarmingly and I could feel it swelling. Nurse Jacob arrived and attempted to remove the offending boot. "S'not happening" he said after tugging ineffectually for five minutes. "Am gonna have to cut it" he added.

He cut, my leg all but exploded out and then things went a bit hazy. Jim departed, then a tearstained Mac and pale looking David arrived (he wasn't worried by the way, he'd just taken note of the car parking fee per hour and spent five minutes rummaging in my bag for my staff pass), I was X-rayed, had a cup of tea brought to me by my manager who found the whole thing hilarious until I showed her my damaged boot. She then went off for a quick cry, she's obsessed with shoes and boots and has a collection to rival Paris Hilton's.

"It's not broken just badly sprained and you've buggered the knee ligament" said Dr Fisher as she discharged me "rest it, don't put any weight on it and ditch the bloody stupid boots" she added before striding off in her Dr Scholls.

So. This is me. Blogging whilst resting. Marooned on the sofa. Struggling to get to the loo (not that you need to know that) and in pain. David has been marvellous this weekend - he wasn't, he was moaning and complaining and being completely unreasonable about my injury until I cracked and told him he was unsympathetic and had a few self-pitying tears and then he suggested he ring his mother and "get her down for a few days". I then had a massive change of mind and told him he was doing a fab job and no, it didn't matter that Mac had biscuits for Sunday lunch because he couldn't cope with doing a roast and no darling, I'm fine, I'll just have an apple.

Bea's taking over tomorrow, Janey's nursemaiding on Tuesday and I've arranged for Dawn to do the school run. I've just sent Mac off to the kitchen to ask daddy to make me a cup of tea. Hope he doesn't forget the custard creams.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Chocolate Malteser Cake

It's Charlie's birthday weekend next week so I'm baking her "the only birthday cake" she "ever wants". I'm doing a test run this weekend because, although this is the only cake I can make without it burning/sinking/looking awful, I'm going to make individual ones rather than a whole big one - Chocolate Malteser Muffins, if you will - and want to see if it actually works. Plus I get to eat a couple without holding back in due deference to the Birthday Girl.

For the cake
150g soft brown sugar (muscavado sugar is best for flavour)
100g caster sugar
3 large eggs
175ml milk
15g unsalted butter
2 tablespoons Horlicks powder
175g plain flour
25g cocoa, sieved
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
For the icing and decoration
250g icing sugar
1 teaspoon cocoa
45g Horlicks
125g soft unsalted butter
2 tablespoons boiling water
2 x 37g packets Maltesers
Take whatever you need out of the fridge so that all the ingredients can come to room temperature (though it’s not so crucial here, since you’re heating the milk and butter and whisking the eggs.
Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 3/170C. Butter and line two 20cm loose-bottomed sandwich cake tins with baking parchment.
Whisk together the sugars and eggs until light and frothy. Heat the milk, butter and Horlicks powder in a small saucepan until the butter has melted and the mixture is hot but not boiling.

Beat the milk mixture into the eggs a little at a time. Fold in the dry ingredients thoroughly. Divide the cake batter evenly between the two tins and bake in the oven for 25 minutes, by which time the cakes should have risen and will spring back when pressed gently. Let them cool on a rack for about 5-10 minutes and then turn them out of their tins.
Once the cakes are cold, you can get on with the icing. I use a processor just because it makes life easier: you don’t need to sieve the icing sugar. So: put the icing sugar, cocoa and Horlicks in the processor and blitz to remove all lumps. Add the butter and process again. Stop, scrape down, and start again, pouring the boiling water down the funnel with the motor running until you have a smooth buttercream.
Sandwich the cold sponges with half of the buttercream, and then ice the top with what is left, creating a swirly pattern rather than a smooth surface. Stud the outside edge, about 1cm in, with a ring of Maltesers or use them to decorate the top in which-ever way pleases you.
Makes 8-10 slices.

Monday, 7 September 2009


My car wouldn’t start on Saturday morning. It turned over (apparently) but wouldn’t fire (also apparently). David did what all men do in these situations and asked me to “pop the bonnet”. This is I did and waited for the verdict.

“Could be your alternator, seeing as it’s turning over but not kicking in” he pointed out, leaning manfully over the bonnet and fiddling with a red cable like he knew what he was doing. I have to be honest here and point out that I have no real reason to be smug here at all: my knowledge of under t’bonnet is limited to oil, water and power steering fluid and even I know when I’m nearly out of those.

I rang Green Flag muttering “well, I pay ‘em enough each month” and my call was answered almost immediately by a charming young lady called Felicity. I sat back and examined my nails as she ran through the usual security checks. I confirmed my registration number, first line of my address, my post code and my password. I confirmed that yes, my car is a black Ford Focus, petrol driven and no four wheel drive.

“What is the problem with the vehicle?” she enquired in posh tones “It won’t start!” said I and then roared with laughter at the sheer bizarreness of the whole situation. She didn’t join in. “Does the vehicle have petrol?” she went on.

Now. This really annoys me. Assuming that I haven’t put any petrol in it, how basic is that? Not only that but a fellow woman, asking me if I’m that ditsy that I’ve failed to fill my car up. “Yes” I muttered through clenched teeth. Junior Dog, who was lying at my feet, sensed my tone and did a runner. “Thank you madam, I’ll get someone out to you from DooDah Motors within the hour” she retorted before wishing me a good day. Mutter, mutter, chunter, whinge.

“It’s a standard question, they have to ask it” David said when I recounted the treachery to him. “If you had rung they wouldn’t have dared asked you, a MAN!” I boomed. “Yes they would, they have to” he went on but his smug smile said otherwise.

To be fair, after an hour of pacing (I hate waiting. For anything) a bright green DooDah Motors van appeared. All three dogs went into a frenzy of barking which meant that the gentleman who rang my doorbell vaulted over the fence without opening the gate.

After a little bit of probing, asking questions and generally doing what David did but with a little bit more authority, Mechanic Man decided that it was a “fuel pump system problem”. I looked at him blankly (not because I didn’t know what he was talking about but because I was wondering how many zeroes would be attached to the resulting garage bill). “Basically, your fuel isn’t getting through the injectors which indicates a problem with your pump” he translated. I thanked him profusely and headed inside to ring my garage.

I have one, you know. A garage that I trust implicitly…..if Tom says something needs doing, then it needs doing. He’s amazing. He amazed me even more when I rang him to ask when he could fit my ailing Focus in, I was already mentally rearranging my Wednesday or Thursday morning. “If you can get it here before two today I’ll do it first thing Monday morning” he said. David was as amazed as I was at the swiftness but pointed out that I’d be “lucky” to get a towtruck here on a Saturday. It was just gone half past ten when I rang Green Flag and requested an “immediate pick up”.

I sat and smirked when they said they’d have someone from DooDah Motors with me within the hour for the second time that day. David went out to do some weeding (in a sulk) while I made a cup of tea. No sooner had I dunked my bag when there was a dingdong on the door and more canine boisterousness. This time the man from DooDah Motors stayed on the doorstep and wondered why I was staring open mouthed at him. Time between my call and his arrival: seven minutes. This was all going too well for my liking.

David came out and observed the miracle too. Mac returned from his sleepover at Ben’s house and expressed dismay that Minty (don’t ask) wasn’t working. “Is that man taking him to be mended?” he asked David as they sat side by side on the windowsill. “Righto love,” said the DooDah Motors man once he’d got the ramps in place “Drive it up onto the ramps for me”. I exhaled slowly and pointed out that the reason he was about to load my car onto his towtruck was because the bloody thing wouldn’t start. “Oh” said he, reading his notes from Green Flag. “Okay, humour me, give it a go”.

I threw myself into the car thinking “hah, I’ll show HIM!” and the bloody car started. “That’s not your fuel system pump love, that sounds more like your injectors” DooDah Motors man went on as he listened to my poor Focus cough and splutter.

Apparently, this is called “hunting”. Hm.

Anyway the men decided that the best thing all round would be to take it into the garage anyway so it can “be looked at”. Which is where it still is now. It's been looked at by two mechanics and is, even as I type, being run through a diagnostic machine. I dread to think how much all this is costing and Mac is making my car a get well soon card. I've put him on stand by: I may need one when I get the final bill......

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Me, myself and I

I've been......on holiday to Hastings. Pett Level, to be exact, where I was bitten by a crab, soaked by three dogs in the sea, ate my body weight in chips and relaxed so much my blood pressure dropped through the floor and I had to get myself in a right old two and eight over dawdling drivers just to get it pumping correctly through my veins

I've put.....on about half a stone this summer holiday, largely due to the chip-fest but also because Mac and I have taken to baking of an afternoon. Well, that and an indecent amount of trips to Ayres.

I've been....ignoring Amelia's large Santa Claus shaped hints about this Christmas during the annual August Bank Holiday Weekend Conversation About Christmas. She wants to come to us for the duration but we're off to Bea's for Christmas Dinner in Dulwich and Bea, as caring and sharing as she is, "really could not cope with that woman on my home territory darling".

I've marbles trying to get everything ready for Mac's return to school tomorrow. Books, pens, pencil cases (all new because "that was last year mummy"), school uniform and shoes. He doesn't want to go back to school and is sulking, endearingly like his father in the bath as I type. David is up there now, cajoling him, having taken the day off to "help" me get the Pride and Joy ready.

I'm the hairdressers to get the gossip. Marjorie has taken to visiting Mandy every week for a shampoo and set and, as Mandy said to me this morning "Oh my God, the woman is sex mad!". I'm heading there tomorrow to get the low down.

I'm waiting.....for my parcels from QVC to arrive. Am becoming a Philosophy junkie and have told David that what I've bought are for Christmas presents.

I'm catching.....up on all the gossip from my week away. Apparently The Avenue has been heaving with gossip, intruige and tales of stroppy recycling men who refused to carry all the bottles from Jane Opposite's Bank Holiday Saturday barbecue. "I mean, do they want me to recycle or not?" she asked as she stacked her empty wine bottles three deep and six along. Ruby Over The Road reckons I missed a blinding party "I still had the hangover on Monday"

I'm dreading.....meeting up with Andy who is planning his civil partnership with his groom-to-be: their suggestions so far have been a bit, erm, random and I'm worried about their next suggestion, after they went off the idea of a sky-diving wedding and reception in an aircraft hangar. They want to be "original".

I'm......tired and planning an early night. David is quite pleased about this. What he doesn't know is he'll be sewing name tapes into school uniforms all night.

Well. He wanted to help me!

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.