Saturday, 31 October 2009

All Hallows Eve

I am a fantastic mother, wife, friend, relation and neighbour. An all round general good egg. I must be for the house looks as if the Halloween aisle at Asda has vomited its contents into every room. Vast cobwebs (bigger than usual, according to Bea) adorn walls, plastic spiders and bats are dotted everywhere and Junior Dog has his eye on the huge fluffy spider that is sitting on the kitchen table.

Tomorrow (today!) my house will play host to a random passing group of children, friends and family for an all day Halloween Extravaganza. I have no less than six pumpkins to hollow out and carve. Mac will wake up, get dressed in his outfit (he's not sure if he's going to be a demon this year or a ghoulie) and will breakfast on Devil's Food. He will then welcome everyone into the House of Horror before stepping out, in the evening, with me (David is already rehearsing a bad ankle so that he doesn't have to go) and a selected few to go Trick or Treating.

The one thing I am most happy about (I'm happy now that the work is done) is the fact that Amelia will not be gracing us with her presence. She refuses to "set foot in a house that is encouraging reckless spiritual behaviour". This is a woman who won't even eat a Black Magic chocolate.

Still, it suits me. I've got enough horrors to deal with - as has David who keeps "scaring himself shitless with all the stuff in this house". This evening he asked me where on earth I got the skeleton from......"what skeleton?" said I, all innocence, kicking the receipt for said skeleton under the fridge.

He looked extremely worried and took himself off to bed and "just hopes" that he manages to sleep.

Happy Halloween everyone!

Monday, 26 October 2009

Food for thought

Queen Bee Mummy got a shock this morning when Mac and I turned up on her doorstep with Dawn and Jonathan. You see, Dawn, baby Alice and Jonathan had been invited for a play date – we had just been added on at the last minute. Ballast if you will. Dawn rang me at ten past ten, panic in her voice, and instructed me to meet her outside Ayres at half past “We’re going to Queen Bee Mummy’s for coffee” she said.

At half past ten, as instructed Mac and I were outside Ayres, eyeing up the goodies like a couple of waifs when Dawn screeched to a halt, chucked me a £20 note and told me to “buy cake”. This I can do with the best of them and came out, five minutes later with a gleaming, glossy, gorgeous strawberry gateau. “Thank God you were free, I couldn’t face this on my own and, after not letting the boys go to her Halloween party I felt I should turn up for this, you know, just to show willing” Dawn said as we slid towards the leafy park-side properties. Miffed that I was a) a last minute thought and b) available for this lunacy I kept quiet until we were on the doorstep.

For a change, Queen Bee Mummy opened her door herself. The look on her face said it all. I clearly was less than a last minute thought, I wasn’t even being thought about. “Oh, hello. Joanna.” She said, holding out her hand and shaking mine limply. The shame. Shunned by Queen Bee Mummy. Not that I want to be one of her harpies but…..even so. No-one likes being snubbed do they? It got worse.

Apart from Dawn there were five other mummies present: Career Mummy (who can now pick and choose her hours because “such is the success of my company since I floated it”), Actress Mummy (who claims to being on speaking terms with the entire cast of everything from Eastenders to Doc Martin), Vegetarian Mummy (who is constantly haranguing the school to provide a meat free school lunch every day), Nurse Mummy (who is great friends – nudge nudge - with Queen Bee Mummy’s consultant husband – if Gossip Mummy is to be believed anyway) and American Mommy (who arrived from the States in the summer with her banker husband). The Elite Squad. The A Team.

And me.

Dawn, married to a barrister “struggling, but a barrister all the same” was clearly part of the In Crowd. Baby Alice was being handed round the group whilst the older children ran amok in the (landscaped) gardens with Malinka the au pair screeching at them in her mother tongue. I perched uncomfortably on the edge of a WHITE sofa as the interrogation began.

Career Mummy: “What does your husband do?”
Actress Mummy: “Do you work?”
Vegetarian Mummy: “Where do you live?”
Nurse Mummy: “Is it you that has the black Focus?”
American Mommy: “Do you use the entire Philosophy range or just the lipglosses?”
Queen Bee Mummy: “How is Mac getting on with his Maths? Any improvement?”

I answered them all as best as I could and turned to Dawn who had yet to ask a question. She was looking mortified.

Coffee was served by a white aproned staff member which took the heat off me a bit. “Naughty but nice!” Queen Bee Mummy twinkled as Dawn’s gateau, a platter of cheese straws and a huge bowl of fruit was added to the ginormous coffee table. There was then a huge fuss because American Mommy could only drink decaff – “two months to go, Samuel is convinced I’ll have a Christmas birth!” – and there was none in the house. She sat stroking her bump and agreed that a plum and pomegranate herbal tea would be “just peachy”. Queen Bee Mummy looked furious and promised she’d hang “Ocado out to dry for this”.

“Help yourselves ladies” she went on as she did what I assumed were some yoga breathing exercises to calm herself down. The ladies dug in, Career Mummy took two cheese straws and made a huge noise about “not eating anything more until dinner!”. I grabbed a sprig of grapes because they were the closest thing to me and actually looked rather yummy.

“Very healthy Joanna!” Vegetarian Mummy boomed approvingly. Queen Bee Mummy edged the cheese straws closer to me. “Go on, have one of these!” she urged. Actress Mummy looked stressed “There’s no knife to cut the cake, that’s why she’s not having any!”. Queen Bee Mummy shot to her feet and screamed “Angela, the knife! You haven’t given me a knife!”. “Don’t worry honey, we’ll get you a knife” American Mommy said soothingly, stroking my arm and looking a little bit wild about the eyes.

“But….I don’t want any cake” I said, bewildered and catching Dawn’s eye. She now looked more than mortified. Of course. Looking round at the Elite Squad I realised why.

Queen Bee Mummy actually disappeared when she turned sideways, Career Mummy was five foot nothing and just as skinny, Actress Mummy looked as if she’d snap if she moved too quickly, Vegetarian Mummy was being held together by beanshoots, Nurse Mummy looked anorexic and the biggest thing about American Mommy was her bump and even that didn’t look seven months old. Dawn, bless her, can eat like several horses yet still wears size 12 jeans.

Now. I wouldn’t (couldn’t) call myself Kate Moss but (and here I’ve checked with several people before writing this post) I couldn’t be classed as a dead ringer for Dawn French either. Yes, I’m carrying a little, ahem, extra weight and yes, my jeans do tend to restrict my blood supply when I first put them on but and leave their imprint on my body when I take them off but……my practice nurse is happy and, before 11.15am today, so was I.

Angela, in the mean time had bought out the knife, sliced into the gateau and was waving a plateful under my nose as if it were a bottle of smelling salts and I’d fainted. I was still clutching my grapes and feeling a bit hot around the eyes. “Stupid girl!” Queen Bee Mummy hissed at her domestic help and urged me to dig in, grabbing the plate and shoving it at me. Half of me wanted to ram the entire slice of cake into my mush and give them all what they wanted – the other half of me wanted to storm out, vowing never to darken these doors again and hissing “a curse upon ye skinny wenches!” as I went.

I did part of the latter – Dawn, the children and I made a hasty exit, Dawn nearly in tears and apologising over and over again. As we sped away, I caught sight of the Elite Squad gathered on the doorstep, Queen Bee Mummy still holding the plate of gateau.

Shame. I could do with a slice of it right about now!

Sunday, 25 October 2009


He's too clever by half you know. My son, my pride and joy. Cunning, is another word. Manipulative is another one. I'm not complaining. Much. I'm quite proud of his wileyness (another good word there) but I just wish he......wasn't. Quite so much.

It was 3.40pm on Friday, at the school gate. Queen Bee Mummy had issued her Halloween party invitations but Dawn and I had already agreed that our children would not be attending, not after what happened last year. This led both boys to call us "mean" and mutter "s'not fair". Dawn and I stood firm. "Unless....." said Mac looking at Jonathan and then me "Unless Jonathan comes to our house and you make us a Halloween and all scary things" he went on. I said no, Dawn said no ("I'm not schlepping up and down the road wearing a witches hat, even if you are") and I said no again when I caught sight of welling tears in his eyes, even though I felt like the worlds worst mother. "We can go trick or treating on our own" Jonathan said helpfully, as if this was the issue.
What is the issue, David enquired when he got home and was canvassed on the doorstep by his son. "It's two small boys, quite brave now but petrified at the least little noise on the night itself!" I hissed. "They'll be fine!" David boomed and agreed there and then to turn our house into the House of Horrors. I was still hissing on Saturday morning when I piled Halloween rubbish into my trolley and debated over how many pumpkins to get. And did I get them now or risk leaving it to next week and finding them all sold out?

I muttered "hissing hell!" when I got home and found Mac had called and invited, not only Jonathan and Dawn but "Matt and Lydia and Freddie and grandad and Marjorie and Frank and Janey and Scatty and Blue and Granny".

Who needs to turn our house into the House of Horrors?

Monday, 12 October 2009

What's in a name?

I followed a man round Sainsbury's Dulwich this morning. Quite unashamedly if I'm honest...and not for the reason you're thinking either. He wore the distracted look of a Dulwich Dad - all rumpled hair, quizzical expression and slightly too baggy cords. The reason I followed him at a not-so discreet distance was because of the conversation he held with his child by the courgette section.

"Want that one daddy" said the angelic looking treacle haired child in his trolley "No Quiche darling, not that one, it's very soft" Dulwich Dad responded.

Quiche? I stopped, mid-prod of a marrow and regarded the charming duo as they moved off towards the spinach. I followed them, all thoughts of filling my trolley with green goodness.

I mean, I'm used to Dulwich names. You can't move in Sainsburys or the deli or the Sue Ryder shop without bumping into Jessima, Jacob, Tallulah, Regina, Victoria, Ronald or Archie - all tiny versions of their Dulwich Parents. There was even a Montgomery in Cafe Nero the other day, he was about four and was throwing his toy cars at paying customers. His fathers response? "Don't do that Montgomery, you'll break your cars". But Quiche? Just a plain Quiche or perhaps a Quiche Lorraine?

Had I missed out an entire fashion for naming your child after something you'd find in a chiller cabinet? And if I had, how the hell had my sister? Caitlin has enough names to trip up her future husband at the crucial moment at the altar (two being Alsace and Charlotte) and Ian is going to suffer writers cramp when he starts filling out the many forms that life is going to throw at him. My own precious son is quite poor on the name front but at least he doesn't need to work out if the Simon comes before or after the Edward and three along from the Richard.

So, while I was ruminating on whether I was going to meet twins Sage and Onion at the checkout and bump into Corned Beef in the car park, I skidded round into the Bakery aisle to find Quiche and her father worrying over crusty cobs.

"Shall we get some proper bread for our soup darling or would you prefer croutons?" A dazzling choice for Quiche who was about three. Quiche wasn't going to be fobbed off with bread or croutons - she wanted a raspberry and custard Danish pastry with the tinned Scotch Broth in her trolley. "No darling, not with soup" Dulwich Dad laughed heartily, suddenly catching sigh of his Sainsburys Stalker and raising an eyebrow. I blushed and found myself examining the hotdog rolls.

"Want that" Quiche continued, building up into a mini rage. "Quiche darling no" said Dulwich Dad, preparing to whisk her away from temptation. Quiche was having none of it. "Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo DADDY!" she screamed as they headed into Jams and Spreads. "WANT THAT ONE!" she bellowed as they passed the Nutella. Come on! I was thinking, please do what I do when Mac has a temper tantrum Use the full name!

"Quiche, listen to Daddy. NO!" he said through clenched teeth as he skidded to a halt in front of a Dulwich Elder who clearly believed that children should be seen and not heard. I stopped breathing as I watched him lower his scruffy head into his hands and shakily and slowly exhale while his child started sobbing.

"Keisha May Mary Williams, will you PLEASE stop it. Right. This. Minute!"

Ahah, result!

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.