Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Poison, Running Through My Veins.....

Conversation between my mother and I:

'Mum'

'Yes?'

'What's that bush outside by the dustbin? The tall sort of pointy one in a pot?'

'It's a Bay'

'Oh. Right. As in 'bay leaves' you put in your cooking?'

'Yes'

'And that's what a Bay looks like is it?'

'Yes'.

'Nothing else?'

'No'

'Oh'

'Why?'

'Well I don't know what the hell I was putting in our cooking for the 8.5 years we lived in our old house though but it sure as hell wasn't that'.

'Sorry?'

'There was a bush in our garden, sort of yellow and green and it smelled quite strong - the one the rabbit used to hide under (god rest is angry soul) so I sort of thought it was Bay and used to put the leaves in my cooking. I think I got the idea off Jamie Oliver but I didn't really get a good look at his bush - I just got the idea of the smell'

'Good god! It could have been poisonous!'.

'Well nobody died (apart from the rabbit) so hopefully it wasn't'.

'I suppose so - or maybe it was just mildly toxic and you were very lucky!'.

'Yeah - maybe'.

'What did it taste like?'

'I don't know! I just used the odd leaf to impart a hint of (toxic?) flavour! It wasn't like I was chucking huge handfuls in salads'.

'Well it's a good job you weren't'.

'Yeah. I'm not that mad......'

Mother sighs and turns back to the daily Su Duko.

Christmas: the report

A few individuals have inquired how my Christmas went - clearly fearful that my father may have spontaneously combusted when the gravy was late to the table or had a seizure over the use of the wrong type of parsnip.

Well the marvelous news is that he was on best behavior. The whole day passed with no over the top shouting, no threatening to strangle anybody because they put a log on the fire using the wrong lifting method, no tirades over cutlery. Nothing - nadda. Just a whole lotta love in the air and a very good meal indeed.

Wow.

I almost thought he'd turned over a new leaf but then it was Boxing Day.....

We were all invited to a drinks party at some friends of theirs and so off we trotted. Well me and mine walked - he went in the car.

The drinks party passed reasonably well (at one point he dragged my husband backwards by the neck of his jumper for 'standing in the wrong place' which had the potential to turn 'interesting' but luckily my husband is a mellow man.....). There were various other slightly disturbing scenes including a cocker spaniel on the table licking a game pie as someone carved it and a man below the age of 35 in mustard coloured cords and braces - but all in all it was 'fine' and the kids were suprisingly well behaved ( although I do confess to feeding them both trifle which I hadn't tasted - I LOATHE trifle, any food involving soaked foam should be banned - anyway it turned out the trifle contained something like 3 bottles of sherry and a slug of port so maybe that the secret?).

The afternoon wore on and my dad got to the point where he suddenly wanted to go home (he feels safest at home - he has complete control of the cutlery for a start) and, like a Roman Emperor moving his army, everyone had to pack up and go NOW.

I pointed out that I was just starting on a cup of tea (yeah - how rock and roll am I?) and as we were walking we would follow on in 20 minutes or so.

Ohhhh that set him off. Red rag to a bull.

He has a 'thing' about people walking once dusk nears. He is convinced they will (even if totally sober, very alert and very sensible) stray into the path of a passing boy racer and that will be that.

'IT WILL BE DARK IN HALF AN HOUR' he bellowed'.

'HALF AN HOUR!!! YOU HAVE 10 MINUTES TO FINISH THAT CUP OF TEA AND LEAVE! UNDERSTAND!?'.

Yeah - I understand. If we don't leave within 10 minutes you will come back and find us with a fistful of Asda bags and make us wear them home.

I kid you not.

One of the most excruciating moments of my adolescence was when a group of friends came to stay at my house so that we could attend a local beer festival.

Just as we were about to leave my dad appeared in the driveway informing us that if we set foot outside the gate without some kind of Hi-Vis gear on we would all be roadkill. He now owns a fine set of reflective clothing that wouldn't look out of place landing planes at Stanstead but this was in the era before that arrived so - having scared us all half to death - he went back into the house and emerged with.....


....a selection of Asda bags.

He then informed a gaggle of teenage girls, all done up to the nines and wearing their finest frocks (a Beer Festival was about as exotic as it got in our local vicinity) that they would make a hole in the bottom of the bags and wear them like tabards over their heads because the white plastic would 'save our lives - and ensure drivers had several seconds less thinking time before they braked'.

I''m not sure if that's totally true - I would think that seeing a selection of teenage girls dressed in supermarket plastic bags and high heels may well slow the braking of some drivers but hey, I doubt anyone's run trials.

I need not say anymore. I never lived it down. Social suicide in one easy fix.

God knows what he'd do now in the days of 'Bags for Life' - I don't think a hessian weave number with ladybirds on from Tesco has quite the same reflective powers.

Anyway (I'll get back to Boxing Day now) his agitation at the imminence of dusk was a sign that his mood was on the turn and as we arrived home, sure enough, he was throwing a tantrum because he'd asked for a cup of tea 10 minutes earlier and it hadn't arrived proving his theory that he's the least important person in the house and now EVERYTHING WAS RUINED AND IT WAS TOO LATE.

At this point we left. Fast. And thus preserved our memories of a very lovely Christmas.

I hope you all had a good one - nice and chilled out and nobody was forced to go out wearing an Asda bag......

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Feedage

WTF?

Ok, I just Googled the name of my own blog (hark at my huge swelling head - but in my defense I was trying to do a link and it was quicker to type 'Slightly South of Sanity Christmas' and cut and paste than figure out the exact URL from my Eggnog/Strongbow fuddled brain) and Google came up with the fact that my blog is listed on some weird page called 'Feedage''. Feedage basically tells the world what your blog is about by the most common 'themes' (i.e. tags) you write about.

I've seen these kind of 'walls of words' for other people's lives and they always look incredibly interesting and glam and sort of 'cool' (god I sound like some mad old dad woman now, using words like 'cool' about the 'new cyber world'). But you know, even if someone spends their life in a bungalow just outside Slough breeding hamsters, their 'tags' read something like:

City Roses Stallion Brioche NEW YORK loving doves temple OF YOUR EXISTENCE gig DENIM ALIVE CORNUCOPIA sloth ecstasy BEYOND self

Oh. Dear.

You see, at the end of the (very long) day, I like to think of my existence as rather put upon and slightly mad but yet, at it's core, strangely glamour strewn (there is a reason this blog is called Slightly South of Sanity.....).

Feedage tells me otherwise.

Feedage tells me that my 'wall of words' is not as above.

In fact Feedage tells us all that my blog is about:

back children day don erm find good guinea home house life mother people point poo small time toddler

I could write a long and witty response to that (because at the end of the day Feedage is WRONG on many levels - especially the toddler bit, he is in now no way 'small time', he's maxed out..... and if it was accurate it would have words like:

Gay cocks CHEMICALLY Charred pubic hair gIN Strongbow RAT moist BALLS SUCKED Mother soMERSET OH.MY.GOD M&S Mannequin tesCO sucks TOILETS too much POO guinea pigs dead and BURIED TAKE A BREAK.... emblazoned all over it)

but
:


a) I've mixed half a bottle of Advocaat with 3 pints of cider (so I won't be seeing you in the morning then.....).

and

b) In a way it all makes perfect, non-sensual, sense.

So there we are, the truth of my life, in tags.

How very 2010.

Knife Crime

Well here we go... the Eve of Christmas Eve and everyone is revving up for the big one, one last push and over the top we go.....

Well actually in my case I'm sat at home with a stinking cold, iced in (we have no snow but it's rained hard, on ice, and then frozen ice on ice and nobody can actually go anywhere), struggling to find the energy to wrap presents (wrapping presents is hard when your life is in boxes - 20 minutes to find the paper, 20 minutes to find the sellotape, give up on the gift tags so try and find a Biro instead to just write on the paper - can't even find a Biro - end up scrawling on present with a green permanent marker.... you get the idea, long, painstaking and scruffy) and sitting in the 2 square foot of my living room that you can actually sit in.

You see - in preparation for Christmas I decided to get my damp patch seen too.

Most people start baking cakes, ordering turkeys or deciding how to dress their mantle.

I invite a man round to address my damp patch and thus end up with my carpets rolled back, my Christmas Tree in the middle of the room and my furniture and TV (and me) in 2 square foot of space. I didn't think this would be a problem as the damp proof course was 3 days of work.

Yes 3 days of work and (at this rate) 300 days of drying time...... The plaster is not drying. Well actually it is drying - if you filmed it in time-lapse photography you might actually be able to see the dry bit creeping across the wall at the rate that grass grows - so at this rate it will cover the room by about June. Lets just say, conditions remain moist.

But it doesn't bother me because (as usual) we aren't spending Christmas Day here amongst the wet plaster and misplaced greenery. No no - we are (once again) going to my parent's house. Which is all very lovely and very very generous (the food will be amazing, they love us to bits, we are very lucky etc etc) BUT we are already bracing ourselves for this year's 'Seasonal Rage'.

To get the gist of from whom this Seasonal Rage eminates you need to understand that:

a) my dad is 6ft 7"
b) my dad is around the 30 stone mark
and
c) my dad is basically what would happen if you mated Gordon Ramsay with Brian Blessed.



If you are not already au fait with our family's Christmas Traditions I suggest you look here for evidence that, considering everything, I turned out rather sane.

If you look at Point 3 you will note that it involves a knife being incorrectly used. Crime of the Century kids - CRIME OF THE CENTURY.

Knife Crimes are a running theme and last Saturday this theme reared it's ugly head again.

We house-sat at my parent's and my father (very generously) left us a large ham to eat for tea (although I do sometimes ponder wether leaving these cold meats out is actually an act of love or some kind of test. You know 'SO you think you are man enough to enter my home? You think you are man enough to take on my daughter!? WELL PROVE IT AND CARVE THIS GODDAM MEAT TO MY SATISFACTION. And I will smile as you fail, boy, smile as you fail.......').

This of course meant that we would need to CARVE some of the ham.

Gulp.

However, my OH did a very good job of carving it. Nobody could complain. Surely?

Ah but they could.

The next day my mother called.

'Darling'

'Yes?'

'You father has asked me to call....'

'YES!?'

'and I have to ask you how on earth you managed to carve the ham because (brace yourself) you used the WRONG KNIFE'

'What?!'

'You used the wrong knife - he found a knife in the dishwasher with ham on that proves you used the wrong one'

'Okaaaaaaaaaay. Right. Let's get this straight. Is the ham carved well? Yes! Is it damaged beyond repair? NO! Did we manage to eat and enjoy it!? YES YES YES!! Okay so therefore, in answer to the question, how did you cut the ham - I would say the answer is SUCCESSFULLY!'

'I know darling, I know (this bit is now whispered 'he's driving me bloody insane').

You and me both mother. You and me both.

So Operation Knife Crime is already underway and we haven't even reached the Big Day.

I shall keep you informed on how it all goes but one things for certain, I won't be offering to help myself to turkey....

Have a great one folks! See you on the otherside......

Friday, 18 December 2009

'Tis the Season to....

....deliver your child to school stinking of booze.

The child that is, not you (although if I didn't have to drive it would be a distinct possibility).

Oh. Dear. God.

Let me start at the beginning (I think).

Last night was my eldest's Nativity Play.

Now Nativity Plays are (sadly) not what they used to be (a few old tea towels and a 15 minute slot on a damp Thursday afternoon).

No.

They are now full on 'stage-productions' involving ticket allocations, lighting, stage-school like theatricals (and that's just the parents), evening shows that go on for HOURS and DVD sales.

This is all very well if you've got, for example, a 7 year old who loves to sing and dance and you want to have a 'night out'. It's not so good if you've got a very tired 5 year old who thinks the very concept of 'dressing up' belongs only in Japan (along with earthquakes, ball lightening, deadly jelly fish invasions and anything else which could signpost the end of the world - like choirs......and Nativity Plays).

He had to be the world's saddest looking cow sat beside that manger (mind you I'd be pretty sad if I had to wear a costume made out of an Asda Smartprice Black towel.......).

Anyway - it was a late night and I also had to drag the toddler along.....

Now the toddler was actually very very good. With the help of copious crisps he did no crying or running around but he did talk a little bit. He kept saying 'my brudder! MY BRUDDER! HE GOT EARS! HE GOT HEAD!' and at the end when Santa came on he yelled YEEE HAAA! - which made everyone laugh.

Everyone that is except perhaps the world's snootiest mother who was (of course) sat right in front of me. With a flick of her glossy bob and a pout of her red shiny mouth she shot me a look of pure evil, put her finger to her lips and went 'SSSSSHHHHHH' in a really rather aggressive manner. She then tutted, rolled her eyes and went back to watching a load of 5 year olds in bits of tinsel and a 'donkey' that was actually dressed as a bear sing words nobody could understand.....

I was, to be frank, rather annoyed by this - it was a children's show, siblings were INVITED (it said so on the letter) and there were plenty of other kids there, including older ones fighting with each other. The lad behind me was playing with a beeping games console and a mad old bloke at the back was going 'get on then, I've a pint a cider waiting back 'ome' while one of his relatives kept yelling at him to 'get in Jim! GET IN!' (as if he was actually some form of stray sheep wandering too close to a busy road).

If the toddler had done anything heinous like thrown a tantrum I would have carried him out of there before you could say 'pass me the gin' - but he didn't.

Much as I wanted to put her in a headlock and give her a good kicking I just sat there and seethed.

Anyway roll forward several hours and we all over-slept so this morning was even more chaos than usual.

Today is the last day of school and I realised I hadn't taken the presents in for the teacher and her assistant so I (very) hastily wrapped them and off we sped.

'Mummy what are those presents?' inquired my eldest (clearly hoping they are actually for him).

'They are for your teachers'.

'But why?'

'Erm, because all the other mothers take gifts in and if I don't it marks you down as the kid from the cheapskate family who never say thank you and what with your brother as well I've got 9 more years of dealing with that school. You need all the help you can get.....'.

'What?'.

'Sorry darling, it's to say thank you and have a Happy Christmas'.

'But what IS IT?'.

'Wine'.

'But MUMMY, teachers don't drink WINE!!'.

'I can assure, they do' (well all the ones in my family do......copiously).

'Mummy you don't drink wine do you?'.

'Erm, yes' (surprised he hasn't noticed this....).

'But mummy you shouldn't'

'WHO told you that!?'

'At school'

'Let me get this straight - school told you, specifically, that mummies shouldn't drink wine!?' (I'm already penning an angry letter about indoctrination of small minds and the nanny state to the Headmaster).

'No Matthew told me. He said mummies mustn't drink wine because of his mummy and the bad things'
(Mental note: work out who Matthew his and, more importantly, who his mother is).

'Riiiiiggggght, do you have any more details on this situation?'.

'No'.

Somewhere around this point a car shot round the bend of the narrow country lane doing about twice the speed it should have been doing.

There was a screech of brakes, a scrunching of hedgerow and a loud 'TING' noise shortly followed by an overpowering scent of summer berries, mellow spice and...........oh sh1t......alcohol.

The 2 bottles of red wine that were sitting on the passenger seat were now sitting in the footwell and bleeding heavily into the carpet.

We screeched to a halt in the school car park (which ironically enough is also the pub car park....) and I leapt out, grabbed the fractured bottles (still clad in their jolly snowman wrapping paper) and started to leg it (to where I don't actually know, I was heading for some flower beds).

My path was interrupted by a bemused looking mother and her rather alarmed looking daughter.

'Are you OK? Oh my word! What a mess! Is it the children's drink bottles?' (sorry but WHAT!? You think I send my kids to school with MERLOT in their lunch boxes!? My budget doesn't run that high).

'Errr no - it's wine'.

'Oh'

'It's for the teachers, well it was for the teachers.........'

'Oh how awful. You'll have to have a valet done'.

'Errrr yeah, I guess I will' (my first thought was actually I'd need to buy some more bloody wine and what a bloody waste but clearly she values her car interior more than I do).

'Or have you got a dog?'

'No' (sorry but is she suggesting that a DOG will do the same job as a professional valet!? Do dogs have a reputation for being incredibly good at sucking wine out of carpets!? I must investigate this further.....).

'Well we (smiles across at smug looking daughter) made the teachers biscuits they can hang on their Christmas trees! Much safer! Teee heeee'

'Well f'ck you' (no I didn't really say that, but it would have been fun.....).

And it was at that point, as she and her daughter trotted off across the gravel with her glossy hair swinging in the winter sunshine, and I stood there with red wine running down my wrists and wine soaked sweet wrappers stuck to my feet, that I realised it was 'her'. The 'sssshhhhhhhhh'er from the Nativity Play.

Figures.

Anyway it wasn't just the carpet that got soaked in wine, it was also my son's book bag..... Biff, Chip and Kipper certainly are having 'Fun at the Beach' - they're absolutely sozzled.

So I delivered my wine-scented, presentless, rather late son to his class, got back in the car and wondered just how much merit there would be in sucking the carpets dry myself?

I then went to Asda and bought two Christmas Cactuses in jaunty wicker baskets.

Let's see if I can actually get them there.....

Thursday, 17 December 2009

And Now We Are One

Well here goes folks...... it appears that this time last year I was bathing a cushion in milk .

Crack open the Strongbow - the blog is a year today!

And what a year it's been. From stolen balls to deceased guinea pigs to gay cockerels to rat infestations to jumbo dogs to Mr Squirrel to too many toilet incidents to name to mangy muffs to moving house and now - starting again in Somerset. Phew.

There are people out there who had been badgering me to write a book or at least start a blog for a LONG time and I'm so glad I finally managed the blog part. It's been an absolute pleasure - I've laughed along with you, I've cried along with you and I'm now the proud owner of the number One Google Search result for 'Worst Iggle Piggle Birthday Cake' (seriously - try it!).

Gulp.

This blog started with just my OH and a couple of friends reading it and has grown through word of mouth to have had over 18,000 hits, almost 100 official followers and many many more who just 'pop in'.

Thank you to all of you - I seriously couldn't have done it or kept it up without you. Every single kind comment, belly laugh, little smile or request to someone else to have a look is very much appreciated.

Having said that, it is kind of strange having people sidle up to you at buffets and say 'I've read about you...... I know about your balls!' or being grabbed by people's mothers who declare 'I love your blog! Especially the gay cockerels!!' and knowing that they probably know more about me than my own mother - but I don't mind, honest (well as long as you're not the person who got here by searching for an image of 'sucked balls'. I can only hope they were somewhat disappointed.....).

Anyway - to all the people who really did want to find out how to bake an Iggle Piggle Cake (or in fact, look at sucked balls......), I'm sorry. Click again.

To everyone else - hang on to your seats, here comes The Terrible Twos.......

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Tattered Dreams

Now I am no Domestic Goddess. only recently I, mistakenly, used my husband's toothbrush, to clean the green goo out of the guinea pigs water bottles (this only came to light when I later saw him using the thus same toothbrush.....a toothbrush that I thought was an old one to be used for light domestic cleaning purposes.....) but at least I've never used a domestic appliance to shred a child's dreams.

Oh yes.

My husband was Hoovering (I know, I know, give him a medal) and doing this (rather irritating) 'joke' thing where he pretends to Hoover up the children, getting the Hoover to suck their trousers and chase them round. This kind of 'fun' is irritating because it is the second fastest way of sending small boys into a frenzy not unlike poking a sharp stick in a hornets' nest... (the fastest way being to turn the Christmas Tree lights on - as I've discovered to my cost).

Anyway while he was pretending to Hoover up the toddler he, unfortunately, strayed slightly too close to the toddler's beloved 'blue rag'.

The blue rag is an irreplaceable tatty bit of pale blue muslin which is, to be frank, more loved than I am. His blue rag is actually part of his very being. It is his soul mate. The cry of 'blue rag BLUE RAG!' goes out about 200 times a day. It is blue rag that is there for him at 3am when he cries out, it is blue rag that dries his tears, it is blue rag that smells of love and home (and, unfortunately, humus), it blue rag that he falls asleep stroking and muttering sweet nothings to........

... it is blue rag who shot down the Hoover pipe at 90 miles per hour.

Oh. Dear. God.

My OH froze.

I froze.

The eldest son froze.

The toddler (surprisingly) froze.

We all looked each other.

The toddler looked at his (now very empty) hand and back at me and then at his hand again.

He furrowed his brow.

A hush fell over the room.

I collapsed into hysterical laughter. The look of horror on my OH's face was beyond priceless. The image of a million tears, a hundred sleepless nights and a never ending tantrum of sorrow followed by years of therapy was clearly flashing before his eyes.

My OH frantically took the Hoover apart.

He found - NOTHING.

I told him to fetch some scissors - we were going to have to dissect the hoover pipe and chop it up in order to get some part of the blue rag back (I may have been slightly too keen to do this - I had my eyes on a new Hoover). We could stop at NOTHING. Without the blue rag our lives were, to all effects and purposes, going to be hell.

To cut a long story short the blue rag was retrieved without amputating any Hoover parts and it's dusty, even more shredded, slightly smaller self was returned to it's rightful owner.

All in all it has made me feel slightly better about the toothbrush incident so every cloud and all that.....

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

The Truth About Garden Centres

Garden Centres.

What are they all about?

I mean there was a time when the Garden Centre sold things for, erm, YOUR GARDEN! You know like plants, shrubs, compost and maybe (if they were bold) a shed or two.

Now the greenery seems to be swamped by things you would be ill advised to place in your garden - things like crystal figurines of mating swans, lavender-filled panty scenters and £7 jacket potatoes.

The £7 jacket potato was the stuff of legend where I used to live. A certain Garden Centre (which shall remain nameless in case you all rock up to gasp at the array of £7 jacket potatoes and the mugs eating them) used to charge SEVEN WHOLE POUNDS for ONE jacket potato.

You can buy 25kg of spuds for under a fiver if you know where to look.

That is one hell of a mark up.

Oh and that is without fillings. They're a pound extra. Each.

I discovered the £7 jacket potato when I was pregnant and had an awful 'I'm going to be sick if I don't eat NOW' moment. I raced to the cafe, chose a jacket spud with not one but TWO fillings and almost collapsed when I got to the till and the lady said '£9 please'. Unbelievably, such was the my need for instant food, I paid it! Even more unbelievably the cafe is always full - and many of the patrons are tucking into jacket potatoes..... 3 years on I'm still smarting at the cost of that spud but I digress, why am I talking about Garden Centres?

Well today, on the way home from school, I drove past one and thought 'oh how lovely, I can take the kids in to look at the lights and Grotto (they have one with live donkeys! ) and it's free!'.

Only it never is is it?

I'm sure they do it on purpose.

Lure you and your small children into their 'Garden' Centre and then place you and your highly charged children amidst acre upon acre of highly over-priced, highly breakable giftware surrounded by Britain's most judgemental people.....

The stress mounted, warnings were given, a fall was taken, a set of fingers almost broken (the toddlers - surprise surprise) and then there was a 'scene' involving a box of Japanese Organic Seaweed Crackers (WHAT was I just saying about non-garden items of an overpriced nature?) and huge amounts of crying followed by my eldest son bellowing 'MUMMY A POO IS COMING OUT NOW!' and me picking up the pair of them (no mean feat) and sprinting through the chintz and china and into the toilets.

The toilets.

Hmmm.

Clearly they were expecting a stampede of women wanting Poinsettia's or something because those in charge of the Garden Centre have taken a very small toilet area and crammed in no fewer than TWELVE toilets.

This means each cubicle is very slightly wider than a slimish woman.

Try getting in there with 2 children plus bags plus coats and THEN try squatting on the floor holding your son so he doesn't fall down the toilet while he sobs 'please shut the door' and THEN try staying in that position while the toddler (locked in the 12" space with you both) starts throwing a tantrum and you can't even let him out because it's straight out the door and back into the (highly breakable) giftware (which is where he wants to go, thus the tantrum).

Sigh.

I'm not sure what happened next.

I know I got very very hot and very very claustrophobic and I know both children were crying and the eldest one wasn't actually doing what he should be doing on the toilet and the younger one made a launch for the 'Sanitary Disposal Bin' (which was about 3 inches from my face at this point - yippeee) and at that point I lost it.

I know I roared very very loudly.

I know there was a kerfuffle.

I know the toddler banged his face on the sanitary towel bin.... (gulp).

I know everyone started to cry harder.

I know that there were 'nice old ladies' in some of the other cubicles.

I know that I then had to stay in my claustrophobic crying filled cubicle for quite some time to make absolutely sure that all the other people in the other cubicles had finished their business, washed their hands and left before I dared show my face. This was not the mother I planned to be. Hiding in the toilets with her crying children after an altercation with a Panty Pad bin.

I know that by the time we got out we were all rather in need of a sit down, a slice of cake and something to drink.

So off to the cafe we went.......where we had to sit, in total silence, amongst a scattering of elderly people dressed in muted tones of peach and beige and eat our £3 slices of cake in silence.

And that, my dears, is why they lure you in with 'free' grottos and the like. The Truth About Garden Centres is that they are actually just portals which suck you, vortex-like, through the gates of giftware-hell and into the world's most expensive cafes.

Sod the cafe, I think they need to open a cocktail bar.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Star of Wonder.....

Star of Light....

Keeping 5 Year Olds Up At Night.

Who would have thought it?

The Star of Bethlehem - light of life and signpost to the sweet Saviour Jesus Christ or (in fact) sinister harbinger of doom with dark and evil overtones?

Well if you are 5 it appears that the later is the case.

My eldest is in his first year of proper school (Reception) so the preparations for the Christmas Nativity are in full swing and it's the Tale of Bethlehem a Go Go.

He was quite into it all until they got to the bit with the star.......

'Mummy?'

'Yes'

'Stars only follow you around if your baby, don't they?'.

'Erm what!?'

'If you are a baby a star goes over you and shines, yes?'.

'Oh I see - well yes if you were the Baby Jesus then yes, apparently so'.

'So that's not going to happen to me?'.

'Erm no. You have nothing to worry about on two counts there. 1. You are no longer a baby and 2. You are not, by any stretch of the imagination, the Son of God'.

'Who?'.

'Nevermind - but no - there will be no stars following you around'.

'Or just hovering over my bed?'.

'No'.

'Are you sure?'.

'Very sure. Look even if you were Jesus you don't sleep in a stable, you aren't in Bethleham and there is nobody hanging about on a camel. It's from the olden days. The VERY olden days'.

'Like steam trains?'.

'Kind of'

'Good'.

And then, the very next morning, he opened up his advent calendar and there, lo and behold, was a large, very pointy, star with a dagger like point facing downwards.

'Ahhhhhhhhhhhh - THE STAR!'.

'Jesus! I mean, yes for the Baby Jesus - ONLY'.

'But why? Why does he make a star come?'.

'It's, erm, magical'.

'Is it aliens?'.

'Well interesting point but allegedly no'.

'I think we need to shut this door of the advent calendar. And keep it closed'.

'OK. If that makes you feel better'.

'Yes. And I don't want to hear ANY more about it'.

And here endeth the lesson.

Could be interesting.

The Romance Continues to Thrive

Having greeted my husband with chemically burnt pubic hair, this Friday I up the stakes even further and greeted him with the urgent need to change my trousers.

Oh.

Dear.

The dreaded Diarrhea and Vomiting has come to our doors - thus my absence.

What I'd like to know is why, when my son gets this he is sick ONCE and shows no fatigue whatsoever (in fact he had to stay off school for the following 2 days and spend 99% of them climbing the walls and sobbing that 'life is so boring'). When I get the same bug I feel like I've been tied to the wheel of a steamroller and bumped along the ground for a week or so.

Anyway - I'm (sort) of better now so on with the festivities (well if I actually find the energy to change out of my dressing gown).

Monday, 30 November 2009

Noel Here we Go

So tomorrow it's December.

GULP.

I haven't actually given much in the way of thought to Christmas yet. I do know that I put all Christmas Decorations in one box when we moved and wrote XMAS DECS on the side but I haven't seen them since. Could be interesting.....

Not to worry - my family will supply the food and the entertainment.....(if you wonder quite what type of entertainment this is, then lets just say it won't be charades).

I suppose I'd better get my finger out - we don't want want a repeat of the Great Peg Bag Debacle (also known as The Great Dining Room Curtain Massacre).

You see as a young teenager I decided to do the worthy thing and MAKE my mother's Christmas present (Ok it wasn't just worthy - it was also free - especially if you made use of fabric she owned which you pilfered from her chest of drawers and used her sewing machine. Teenagers - don't you just love 'em?).

I knew that she needed a new peg bag for her washing line (the previous one got blown into the pond and drowned) and she likes chickens so - VOILA! I would fashion her a chicken-themed peg bag! With the vast amounts of skill and crafty-creativity that I don't possess....... Now come on - you KNOW you want one.....

Of course I left it until the last minute which didn't help - especially when I opened the fabric drawer to find:

- an old pair of my dad's pyjamas in a jaunty gingham check.
- some felt.
- lots and lots of very thick embossed floral fabric in dark green and reds.

Hmmm.

Ok here goes.

I made the bag bit of the bag out of the floral fabric.
I made the strap out of one leg of the pyjama trousers.
I made a cockerel's head (not unlike the one on the front of the Kellog's cornflakes box) out of the red felt.
I stuck on some white felt for his eye (this subsequently fell off on the peg bag's virgin voyage so the cockerel ended up blind - but that was, to be frank, the least of his problems).

It looked......? Well it looked different. I would give it that at least.

It was certainly unique.

However, even through the eyes of a child, it was utterly sh1t.

I quickly wrapped it up (lest it give me nightmares) and stuck it under the tree.

Christmas day dawned and the family watched as my mother ripped off the festive wrapping paper and it's psychedelic glory was revealed........

My brother collapsed in a fit of mirth.

My father bellowed 'WHAT IS THAT!?'.

And my mother?

My mother shrieked 'IT'S MY DINING ROOM CURTAINS!'.

Oh. Dear. God.

Yes - it would appear that I had actually come across a carefully stored pair of fully lined Sanderson-print dining room curtains waiting to be hung and, erm, cut them up to make the world's most uniquely hideous peg bag.

My mother loyally hung the peg bag on the utility room door and I'm sure that every time she walked past it she felt a stab of rage but, hey, it's the thought that counts!

Right?

Crossed Wires

My mum was on the phone to my Granny.

This is her mother - not my Grandma who sadly passed away a few months ago (my mum may possess the ability to make wonderful jam, identify bird's by their song and fold clothes in 'just the right way', but she can not, as yet, conduct telephone calls with the dead).

Granny has always been slightly confused by our side of the family (even before she got old). She used to flap around our kitchen in a right old state shouting that the 'fowls are in! The fowls are in the kitchen! THE FOWLS ARE IN!' whenever the chickens appeared at the doorstep. Nobody ever did anything about the 'fowls' but each time she would try to elicit some kind of suitable response from us and get in a right old state about it. The only response she actually did manage to raise was that my brother and I made up a rap about her and her fowl obsession....... I would share it with you but I think it's best not to for reasons of anominity.

However I can tell you it's up there in terms of greatness with the marvelous dirge like song we composed about a guinea pig we had called (imaginatively) Guinea.

Here are the lyrics (concentrate now - they're complex. Note the emphasis on the word 'guinea'. I think you'll find it's complex and multi-faceted use give the song a depth and myriad of tones beyond it's initial appearance.....):

I bought a GUINEA pig called GUINEA for a GUINEA in GUINEA.
I bought a GUINEA pig called GUINEA for a GUINEA in GUINEA.
I bought a GUINEA pig called GUINEA for a GUINEA in GUINEA.
I bought a GUINEA pig called GUINEA for a GUINEA in GUINEA.
(repeat on into infinity or until the point that your mother is beating her head off the cooker and begging you to PLEASE STOP RIGHT THIS MINUTE. At this point you will stop but your younger brother won't and will chant your special guinea pig song on into the night and the following morning to the point that 20 odd years later it's STILL ringing round your head.........God I thought my kids were annoying).

Jeez I bet my mum regretted the naming of that guinea pig long and hard.

Anyway - my family confuses my granny (funny that) but after the phone conversation today I'm sure she's probably even more confused.

I could hear my mum giving my granny a phone number with a local code - which is odd as she lives on the other side of the country and couldn't think WHY she'd need to call anybody in our local town. My mum kept having to repeat this number and shout it down the phone so it was clearly important.

When my mum got off the phone I asked her what number it was that Granny needed.

'Yours' replied my mother.

'Erm, mum, that's not my number'.

'Oh'.

'It's nothing LIKE my number'.

'Oh dear'.

'Well aren't you going to call her back?'.

'Maybe later, I'd better walk the dogs........'.

'Have you given that number (whatever number it is) to anybody else!?'.

'I don't know'.

'Well can you make sure you don't!'.

'Come along WALKIES!'.

Sigh.

Maybe this is her passive aggressive way of getting me back for composing that song about Guinea?

Altogether now......

I BOUGHT A GUINEA PIG CALLED GUINEA.......

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

A Rainbow of Fruit Flavours...

...or Fruits of the Loon more like.

Last week I decided I needed to truly immerse myself in the culture of my home town and go back to my roots.

So where did I go?

Farmers Market?
No.

Fancy boutiquey shops near the river?
No.

Out in the wilds of the hills?
No.

Historical town area?
No.

I, did in fact, go to Asda.

In Asda all of life's rich tapestery is laid before you (OK I haven't actually heard of anyone dying in there but I'm sure I read in Take a Break that someone once had a baby in the toilets). If you want the taste of an area avoid the tourist spots and go to Asda.

It was just before Children in Need day and whilst browing the CDs, I overheard a conversation which reminded me that I was back where I belonged (names changed to protect the identity of the afflicted - oh and because I don't know what they are):

Donna: There is, like, pink in the rainbow, ain't there?

Trixie: (highly unlikely to be her real name) Pink?

Donna: Yeah pink - in the rainbow, like?

Trixie: Errrrrrrr, I dunno, yeah. Why?

Donna: Well I gotta dress up for Children in Need - you know Pudsey Day - as a colour of the rainbow and I wanna wear pink, like.
(sorry but WHAT kind of crap concept is that for a fancy dress event!? 'Come dressed as a colour so we can make a rainbow!'. What if nobody comes in orange or some other vital component? Or 30 people come as a red and one as blue? Pretty crap rainbow that would be).

Trixie: Oh yeah, right, get ya, yeah pink. That'll be good.

Donna: Yeah but IS IT IN THE RAINBOW?

Trixie: Yeah - a dark pink, like.
(I think you'll find that is actually violet - as in a shade of purple - but hey, I have a feeling the rainbow's doomed anyway so what's a dash of an unofficial shade between friends!? Hell yeah - if the rest of the participants take after Donna they'll probably have people rocking up in brown, black and various shades of taupe. It will be less 'rainbow', more 'dodgy pub carpet after 20 years hard service').

Donna: BRILLIANT! I knew it was.

Trixie: Steve's got us a new rabbit.
(Seemingly random and somewhat unexpected turn in the conversation there).

Donna: Yeah?

Trixie: It's eyes are PINK.
(Are you sure Trixie? Or could they in fact be violet?).

Donna: I don't like them rabbits.
(Tact is clearly not her forte).

Trixie: No?

Donna: No - them pink eyed ones are evil. They looked possessed.

Trixie: Possessed?

Donna: Yeah by demons. Like.
(As I said, tact is not her forte).

Trixie: Oh I don't think it's that. It's white.

At this point I had to move on before I actually laughed out load and risked being possessed by a pink-eyed-rabbit but if anyone out there did take part in a 'Pudsey Bear Day Rainbow' (incorporated unauthorised shades) then do let me know how it all turned out in the end.....

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Hot Fuzz

So the deal at the moment with this here new life is that my OH goes up to London on a Wednesday night and comes back late on a Friday.

Now many many years ago when I was a student we had a long distance relationship for 2 years - I was in Leeds and he was in London. He would regularly trundle his way northwards on the dreaded National Express Coach late on a Friday night and I would great him in an enthusiastic fashion armed with good food and beer looking seductive and sultry (please bear in mind this was pre-kids - I used to spend an ENTIRE Friday afternoon getting ready. That life now twinkles in the darkness, far far away, like a parallel universe).

So this 'being reunited on a Friday night' is like a blast from the past and in anticipation of the great moment of his return (after, erm, 48 hours apart....) I decided I should at least have a shower and make myself look semi-groomed (moving house with 2 small children doesn't give you a lot of time for tending to the finer details).

And thus it was that I realised I needed to de-fuzz (I was, it appears, rapidly returning to a sort of Planet of the Apes Yeti-like status).

No problem - just need to grab my razor.

Oh.

The razor was last seen in my old house and could be at the bottom of one of approximately 70 unpacked boxes.

No worries.

I will 'borrow' my OH's razor (I know men get very upset about this - I'm not actually sure why. Surely shaving your legs ONCE with their razor can't do that much damage? It's not like your borrowing it to whittle a tree trunk into matchsticks or something? Then again....).

Small catch with this plan.

OH's razor is in London with OH.

Darn.

I scouted round in vain for something else that could remove several square feet of hair and I finally came across a can of spray-on hair removal cream which someone gave me as a free 'trial' about 6 years ago.

Now the last time I used hair removal cream (circa 12 years ago) it a) stank b) burnt like hell and c) didn't even remove the hair properly.

I can now confirm that 6 years on hair removal cream a) stinks b) burns like hell and c) doesn't remove the hair properly.

Obviously it may have improved in the 6 years since the can I own was made but I wouldn't bet on it.

Anyway, ever hopeful it would actually 'do what it said on the tin', I put the kids to bed, made sure they were asleep, stripped naked and doused myself liberally with the noxious ointment.

Unfortunately the nozzle was rather over-enthusiastic in the rate it emitted the foam and I managed to jet it across the bedroom, coating the cobalt blue shagpile in our bedroom with it (did i tell you this house has 'interesting' decor?). At this point I noticed a warning notice on the can 'DO NOT USE ON CARPETED SURFACES'.

Interesting.

I was unsure what was about to happen. Was the carpet about to be denuded? Or perhaps melt into a toxic soup?

I wasn't able to ponder this long as at around this point my legs began to burn.

Now I'm unsure of the science behind hair removal cream but surely it must work by basically chemically dissolving/burning the hair off?! And skin has a very similar make up to hair.....Something tells me long term prolonged use it best avoided. Sod the shagpile - what about my bodily coating!

Anyway alarmed by the burning I tried to redistribute the thicker bits of cream (due to the exteme power of the nozzle it was inches thick in places) around my body a bit and generally just spread it everywhere (even though most of my body is not covered in hair).

At the point son number two started to cry.

Naked, covered in toxic foam, stinking and alive with the sensation of mild chemical burning I contemplated my options.

As I thought through my choice of actions, I ran my hands through my hair.......

MY HAIR!

Well that narrowed down my options.

Narrowed them down to sprinting into the shower as fast as my legs would carry me......

The combination of the shower and a kind of plastic scraping device (not unlike one of those things you use to deice car windscreens) did get rid of most of the unwanted hair and (thank god!) the hair on my head was unaffected.

However, on leaving the shower I realised something slightly alarming.

The floor of the bathroom was covered in what looked like clumps of fur. In fact it looked like a small rat (possibly a mouse) has been killed and plucked by some kind of bird of prey.

I looked left, I looked right, I looked up, I looked down......

Oh.

Where I had redistributed the cream I had taken it right to the top of my legs and, erm (there's no dignified way of saying this) bits of cream had got into 'the lady area'. But only bits. And they hadn't been there long enough to effectively remove the hair they had touched. So tangled, partially chemically disintegrated looking clumps were falling out, leaving other patches totally untouched and further patches just slightly damaged looking.

You've heard of the Brazilian?
The Hollywood?
Now meet the 'Dog with Mange' look.

Jeez.

Less of the Playboy look, more 'Veterinary Weekly'.

My options were limited. The toddler was still crying so I couldn't reapply the cream and go again (plus the way the cream burnt told me that reapplying it to 'that' area would result in more than patchy pubic hair) so I decided to give the area a good buffing with a towel and make sure the lights were off at bedtime.

Slight problem. As time went on more and more bits kept sort of disintegrating and coming away. There was a helpline number on the can but you can be darned if you think I'm going to phone a complete stranger and say 'oh hello, sorry to bother you but I've accidentally just coated my pubic region with a 6 year old can of your product and now I look like I've got some kind of disease - I don't have access to a razor - advice please?' so, having sorted the toddler I phoned a friend (as you do).

Once she'd finished rolling about on the floor laughing she pointed out that some women leave a trail of rose petals leading to the bedroom door......... Only I could leave a trail of chemically damaged pubic hair.......

Saturday, 21 November 2009

A Glorious Cock

WOOOOOO HOOOOOOOO!!!

Look who's back!

As of about 10 minutes ago my new house has working Internet access and I am back amongst you - blogging from my new abode in Somerset and I am VERY happy about this.

And how is it!?

Well put it this way - despite the chaos, the boxes, the fact we can't open the back door (actually we can open it, we just can't shut it again), the mouldy walls (nice!) and the toddler's 5am rise and shine call - we feel more at home and more rested than we have done in years.

I knew I was truly home when I opened the local free paper.

The Classifieds are just fabulous - in fact they now rival Take a Breaks' Brainwaves Roadshow as my top source of entertainment.

The first thing my eyes fell upon was a glorious cock (well - they would wouldn't they. Come on now - don't tell me you could see the words glorious cock in bold type and not read on?).

And, not just any glorious cock but a glorious RED cock.

Ow.

Here's the ad in all its uncensored glory:

GLORIOUS RED COCK:
Beautiful boy. Bit gawky at present but will thicken out. Glossy. Deep red in colour. Much more striking than a cross bred Rhodie. Should grow into a handsome breeder.
£10.

Wow - bargain or what! Although personally the words 'glossy' and 'deep red' would be ringing a few alarm bells.......at least he's due to thicken though (snort snort).

Sorry - every time I feel a bit overwhelmed by all the change and slightly lost I just have to read about that glorious cock and I know I'm truly home.

Other ads that had me pondering the sanity of humankind and knowing I was home included:

Coffee Table - can also be used without top - £20.

Erm, what? So you've got a coffee table - to like put hot drinks on and you can TAKE THE TOP OFF? What are you left with? 4 ornamental wooden sticks rising up out of your shagpile? Where do your drinks go? In the void that's left? More to the point - WHAT IS THE POINT!?! Interesting. I'm tempted to phone up and ask a few probing questions but I fear it could be a long and perplexing conversation that I'm not yet up to.

And then there's this gem:

Warming Device - does the exact same job as a hostess trolley but no wheels - £15.

Right so you have a hostess trolley, the point of which is that you can WHEEL THE FOOD TO THE TABLE and then you have (allegedly) the 'same thing' only with no wheels. So presumably you can put food in it to keep it warm (that will be like an oven then?) and then you can wheel it ...........nowhere. So you have to take it and carry it.......... I hate to point out the flaw in their use of the word 'exact' but can you see my issue with this? Hmmmm. I guess you could tie a rope to it and haul you dinner to the table but that would only work if you had well polished wood floors . Try it on a deep carpet and you'd be doomed. Chicken Chasseur all over the shag pile.

Anyway - I shall keep my eye out for other such gems and keep you updated.

And did I mention it's good to be back!

Monday, 16 November 2009

Off Grid

Apologies for the lack of blogging action - we have moved into our new house - YAY - but have no internet access and won't have until at least Friday - booooo. I am at my mum's and have circa 3 minutes to update you on my life and all it's insanity so I'll keep it brief.

10 things I've learned since we got our keys:

1. One of our neighbours is called Dave. So I leave the land of Dave to move next to....Dave. I feel at home already. However he did bring us round a bottle of champagne - result! Although it does make me feel all the more guilty for my howling, running, jumping, yelping children. He doesn't have kids.......

2. Curry's (as in the electronics store - not the spiced dish from the sub-continent) have not improved since my last experience of them around 10 years ago. Order a gas cooker and the deliver.......AN ELECTRIC ONE! Not what you need after several days with no means of cooking and your life in boxes.

3. If you leave your husband in charge of receiving deliveries he will look at the above mentioned electric cooker and sign it off as 'as ordered'. He clearly doesn't realise that halogen hobs and gas rings are not one and the same. Correction - he didn't - he does now.

4. 2 year olds don't really cotton on to this moving lark terribly quickly. He keeps getting up at 5am taking my hand and saying 'home? Go home?'. You are home sonny. And you'd better get your head round it sharpish.

5. Getting up at 5am with 2 year olds is even less fun if you only have 4 TV channels. Teletext ain't that entertaining.

6. 5 year olds - if moved from a double to a single bed - fall out of their single bed approximately 19 times a night. I'm not sure when they learn?

7. If you fall out of bed 19 times a night onto a sea of lego bricks you get strange marks on your arse - kind of like warts. I don't recommend it.

8. If you are packing to move house don't pack (in the very bottom of a box surrounded by plastic bags) a bag of shallots (why dear god? WHY!? All I'm saying is it wasn't me). My very own home composting......

9. If you have junk in your old garden that was destined for the tip make sure you tell someone or else it will be transported 200 miles across the country and dumped in your new garden.....

10. The family at the end of our row live out their entire life with the curtains wide open and lights fully on. A life that includes at least 4 small boys (many of whom are naked or partially naked), a jiggered looking woman in a dressing gown (been there, done that, got the sick stained dressing gown) and a huge amount of chaos. It makes me feel better about my lot anyway. I went past yesterday and she was on her knees amidst what appeared to be 30 loads of washing. I felt slightly less put upon.

Right - must fly - 'see' you all soon when I (hopefully!) get my very own internet back!

Monday, 9 November 2009

Taxing

98% of my life is the back of two (rather dubious) looking white vans awaiting the keys to our new house (which, incidently, we get at some point tomorrow). My husband is 200 miles away (as is my father – ahhhh the blessed peace). I’ve driven 500 miles in the last 48 hours. I’ve run out of money and can’t get my hands on any more for 48 hours which isn’t great when you’ve got not petrol……I could go on (and on). What you DON’T need to find in the middle of all this ‘no fixed abode’ business is that your tax disc has fallen off the front windscreen of your car and DISAPPEARED.

They are pretty hot on tax discs these day. Don’t display one and you could get thousands of pounds of fine or even worse, your car towed away and crushed.

Crushing my car wouldn’t really help me right now. Especially as the 2% of my life that’s not in the removal vans is in the boot……

So when I realised it was no longer stuck to the window I somewhat freaked.

First I took the car apart looking for it.

No luck (I found 'other things', things I would rather have not have found, but alas no tax disc).

Second I interrogated the children:

‘Now listen, mummy has a really really REALLY important question for you. You know that little bit of round paper stuck to the front of the car windscreen? The one with the shiny bits on? Have you seen it at all? I PROMISE YOU YOU WON’T GET TOLD OFF but it is very very important you tell mummy if you have played with it/eaten it/posted it down a siblings earhole/rolled it into a ball and thrown it out the window? No? ARE YOU SURE? Promise me that’s the truth? If you know where it is and you’re not telling me the car could be CRUSHED! DO YOU HEAR ME CRUUUUUUUUUUUSED!!!!'.

(Que tears and deep distress. I've gone too far).

Next I rang the vehicle licensing people (in a rather desperate state as I have no proper registered address and no money to pay for anything). I got to speak (at length) to a machine. I was not happy and I was none the wiser.

So that just left?

Becoming very foul tempered and ranting a lot. And I mean A LOT.

Shortly after this low point my mother walked in to the kitchen:

Mother: Darling I thought you said you’d lost your tax disc?

Me: YES! AND!?

Mother: It’s stuck to the windscreen..

Me: (in a very sarcastic voice): Errr, what!? I don’t think it is! Thus why I’ve just wasted several hours trying to obtain a new one.

Mother: No it is. I’ve just seen it. It’s just that it’s not at the bottom, it’s at the top. It’s stuck on up by the interior mirror.........


Oh.

Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh.

Obviously this is good news. Very good news but yet….but yet it somehow smarts a bit.

In fact it reminds me of the time I drove the whole way from London to Somerset with windscreen wipers that wouldn’t spray water (getting out of the car at every service station to wash them by hand. BY HAND I TELL YOU) and then took the ‘fault’ to be investigated only to find? To find that I’d been pressing the wrong button all along……

So there we are - it's just not the kids or the parents - I can easily embarrass myself.....

Mr Mussel

So, being a diligent and helpful daughter, I agreed to go and fetch my dad’s dry cleaning from Morrisons (it’s all rock and roll and champagne lifestyle here I tell thee).

This being a ‘very helpful thing to do’ I wasn’t expecting my mother to go all bulgy eyed and twitchy and start making odd jerking movements. Movements which indicated ‘stop talking and come outside’ (either that or she was suffering withdrawal from the Chardonnay).

I went outside (slightly intrigued I have to say – Morrisons doesn’t normally provoke quite such fervent excitement).

It appeared there was a problem.

My mother (who refuses to put her glasses on unless she’s fulfilling her daily Suduko fix) had thrown away the dry cleaning ticket. She hadn’t (technically) lost it because she knew exactly where it was. She had mistaken it for a redundant receipt and tossed into the kitchen bin.

Unfortunately, shortly after this, we’d had mussels for dinner and thus approximately 105 mussel shells and various other fishy detritus were sitting on top of it. She was sure she could retrieve it (given time, rubber gloves and, presumably, a strong stomach) but she needed to do so without ‘father’ noticing – or else there would be a rumpus. A large one. Mainly focusing on her lack of eye-glass wearing and general ineptitude at life, the universe and everything. This ‘rumpus’ would run and run and in fact probably become part of family legend (under the heading ‘the day your bloody mother threw away the dry cleaning receipt because she refuses to acknowledge she needs glasses’). We could do without such drama.

And so it was that my mother smuggled the kitchen bin bag out into the street, concealed herself behind some conifers and ferreted around until she found it.

This is what 30 years of marriage (can) do for you.

Crisis averted.

All I had to do was hand the fishy offering to the dry cleaning shop, smile and pray.

Lovely.

So you see it’s not just my kids that cause me embarrassment. It’s also my parents.

Sandwiched between the two you can kind of see how it's all ended up the way it has.......

Friday, 6 November 2009

Covert Blogging from the Home of the Olds

So I've made it West.
And I have to say it's wonderful.
Even if, for the moment, I don't actually have access to our new house, my OH is on the otherside of the country and I'm living with my parents.
Now before I go on I have to say my parents have been absolutely wonderful and beyond helpful and generous. I feel like I'm having (finally!) some respite from the last few months. Lovely food, loads of space, laundry done (LAUNDRY DONE!) - it is marvellous. Well the toddler taking off his nappy, filling the travel cot with icy piss (my parents don't believe in central heating and it appears wee cools pretty quickly under such conditions - take note) at 1am and then spending the next 3 hours wide awake and crying, wasn't a high point - but other than that I'm loving it.
However, living with my parents does make blogging pretty damn hard. They like to know what's going on and for reasons I am sure you understand I don't really want them becoming avid fans of this blog. My father doesn't need to know about my piles......Or the fact that half the internet have read about the needle through his testicle incident......
He spends a lot of time on the internet (avidly checking the weather forecast 90% of the time - 'MOTHER!' he bellow, 'FROST BY MONDAY NIGHT!'. 'Oh' she responds. Ten minutes later - 'MOTHER!', 'WINDS OF 50MPH IN NORTHERN IRELAND'. Crucial. Obviously) and he uses it in a way which means that anything you have EVER typed into Google or the address box will come up when you start typing that first letter of the word. So even accessing this blog was hard - I had to find another way in. I couldn't type the address and I couldn't Google 'Slightly South of Sanity'. He would get curious. Even it wasn't about the weather.
So I had to find a back door in, so to speak.
And then I recalled that large numbers of (unfortunate) people find this blog by Googling 'Iggle Piggle Birthday Cake' and, in fact, this blog comes up on page 1 of Google if you type those magical words. Who would have thought it? Famous in baking spheres...... It must have been the RegalIce Placenta that did it.
Having found a way in, I still couldn't type anything as my father's security settings were a tad extreme (well you never know WHAT might come up if you Google 'BBC 7 day forecast, do you?') so I've had to, erm, change them. Don't tell him. Ever.
But other than that it's going swimmingly. As long as you tread carefully and don't antagonise him.
This can take a lot of strategic planning.
For example this morning he was coming downstairs when my mother noticed a large brown rat dangling off the bird table.
Large brown rats tend to antagonise him greatly (this is, after all, the man who ran through the house on the morning of my brother's wedding shouting 'FETCH A GUN! There's a rat on the f'cking nuts!' Put a whole new spin on 'shot-gun wedding' that one did).
And for some reason their raiding of the bird food is my mother's fault.
I had to therefore provide a strategic distraction until the rat had passed.
And then there was the incident of the dry cleaning receipt and the Mussel shells - but that will have to wait until tomorrow - he's coming down the stairs so I must flee and leave no evidence. Let's just hope he's not planning on baking an Iggle Piggle birthday cake......

Monday, 2 November 2009

Woooo hoooooooooooooooo!!!!!

WE'VE DONE IT!

WE'VE DONE IT!!

Well November is already a hundred million times better than September and October.

Just took the call - all the contracts are exchanged - there is no going back. The house move is ON!

Goodbye Land of Dave.

Hello Somerset.

Oh. My. God.

I'M GOING HOME!

I go to stay at my mum's tomorrow night (my eldest starts his new school down there on Wednesday - talk about making it by the skin of your teeth!) and then I come back here at the weekend and then the lorry comes on Tuesday 10th November and off we go for the whole next chapter in our lives......

See you there!

(I can't stop grinning, need to calm down, might just need to crack open some cider......).

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Behind the Scenes at the Museum

Well Half-Term has been pretty ropey to say the least.

The veritable pinnacle was getting my toilet fixed.

The rest was, erm, crap.

All the stress about the house move, various other stuff that's occurred, living out of boxes with no proper food, not having any plans or places to go as we thought we'd be gone by now - and THEN on Thursday I woke with the most splitting headache imaginable and spent the day under a duvet being sick.

I think it was actually my body/mind saying 'this is it - enough - I'm SO over this'.

Anyway I decided enough was enough and my kids needed ONE happy memory of the holiday (I don't think watching mummy vomit and listening to her shout at estate agents is really stuff for the scrapbook?) so I asked the eldest what he really really wanted to do on Friday and he said 'go into London on the train'.

Cool.

So I decided to go to the Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green (I couldn't quite face the tourist spots of Central London alone with both of them - taking the toddler out is a bit like being accompanied by slightly wild unbroken colt. That can cry).

Anyway as I look back on the day I wonder what my children will make of their childhood and growing up with me as a mother.

Will they just accept the, erm, 'strangeness' of some days as the norm or will they think 'mother? What a case she was.......'.

The day went something like this:

Negotiating rail system into East End with 2 kids and buggy - no problem.

Negotiating roads/streets to find museum - no problem.

Day in very crowded museum - no problem (Ok I won't tell you how many times I lostthe toddler but he's still here so, as I said, no problem!).

Number of times I had to drag the toddler away from the glass display cases containing toys he couldn't play with, which he was trying to bust open by means of giving them a good kicking - too many to count but again, no problem!

Lunch in crowded cafe with 2 kids, no help, hot drinks a go go - no problem.

And then we (tried) to leave.

Before leaving we took a toilet trip. The toilets are in the basement area and they were RAMMED. I haven't seen that many people in a toilet since I was skirting puddles of vomit in the Leeds branch of Ritzy's Nightclub.

I managed to squeeze us all into one cubical and just as I was standing up from the toilet to pull my pants up (waaaaaaayyyy too much information there but you are probably used to it by now) the toddler decided to ram the bolt back across the door and throw it wide wide open.......

And opposite the toilets are a room long length of sink to ceiling mirrors........

There was me and my foof - reflected and refracted around the room in all our glory, several dozen times over......

We left.

Promptly.

On leaving I couldn't be doing with tackling the stairs (again - and this time with people who had just seen my pubic hair watching......) and there was a huge queue for the lift so, seeing a small door to my right with daylight on the otherside, I hurriedly opened it and we left.

Or we tried to leave.

To cut a long story short we ended up, quite literally, behind the scenes in the museum.

We had entered an outdoor area around the side of the museum only meant for staff and there was NO WAY OUT. Up and down we went, weaving along the sides of the building, inspecting the staff car park, looking at the cargo lift, skirting over grating, pushing through bushes........ and as my eldest stated 'mummy - you have got this ALL wrong'.

Sometime later I began to fear we'd be there all night so I had no choice but to go and knock on one of the building windows, behind which sat the slightly bemused back office staff.

'Help!' I mouthed.

'How did you get out here?' the lady asked.

'Erm, I opened a door' I replied.

'The WRONG door' added my son.

The wrong door indeed.

Oh well - if you're going to have a day out, you may as well make an adventure of it......

RIP Earl

Ho hum.

Well first of all - no we haven't totally sorted the house move yet. I hope it is inching closer though.

Secondly, I swear someone is sticking vodoo pins in my life or I've offended a gypsy or something because I went out to feed my rabbit yesterday (the same rabbit that wrote about here: the annoying rabbit I really loved ) and, erm, he's dropped dead.

Personally I blame the fireworks.

Either that or it is a conspiracy/my life is doomed.

Either way we will miss him greatly. He's been part of our life for years - he was sat in a flowerpot giving me the evil eye when I was in labour with my second son and god knows what we are going to do with the spare time in the evenings when we used to be chasing him round the lawn.

Don't ask what we're going to do with his body - we haven't worked it out yet.

R.I.P Earl - you rocked.



Edited to add: Just in case anyone is concerned, in the photo above he is alive, just sleeping. I might be slightly eccentric but I draw the line at going round photographing corpses of dead pets posing in flower pots.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

On the postive side....

....amongst all the doom and gloom and chaos something wonderful happened today.

I went to the toilet and (wait for it).......




WAS ABLE TO FLUSH IT AFTERWARDS BY SIMPLY PUSHING DOWN A LEVER!

A small thing to most people but please bear in mind that it's been something like 7 weeks since I haven't had to fill the toilet cistern using a small jug and then put my hand to the bottom of it to pump a rod up and down (now now, no rude thoughts) and form a vacuum to make it flush. It get kind of tiresome after the 99th time.

This morning (unsurprisingly) I finally lost the plot and called a plumber. In fact by 9.30am I had called a plumber, the solicitor (twice), an estate agent, the removal company, my mother, a friend, another plumber, my mother (again) and my husband (just for good measure).

I didn't mange to get the house move off the ground (and breathe) but I did mange to get the toilet fixed.

Now I don't have a good track record with tradesmen and small children (anyone remember the poo on the carpet in front of the Virgin Engineer?) but I was hoping my luck had turned.

It hadn't.

The plumber arrived. He was about 22 and 'trendy'. I felt about 109 and decidedly un-trendy as I helped him wend his way through the Lego and discarded socks up to the filthy bathroom, littered with bath toys and constipation medication (not mine I hasten to add).

No sooner had I started giving him the Brief History of the Toilet in My House (a somewhat troubled history) then my eldest appeared and declared.........



'MUMMY! I NEED A POO! AND IT'S URGENT! IT'S HANGING OUT MY BOTTOM!'.

Where is that constipation when you need it?


The toddler is standing next to him. Crying.

The plumber is standing next to the toddler and looking, erm 'awkward'.

I didn't quite know what to do so I panicked and bellowed 'WHERE THE HELL IS YOUR PIG SEAT?' (if you haven't got small kids then a 'pig seat' is a sort of little padded seat that goes on the big toilet and stops small children falling down the big hole and drowning. The cheap one from Tescos is decorated with pigs - god knows why - thus 'the pig seat').

Pig seat was found (in the bath) and placed on the toilet. Pants were pulled down. Poos were dealt with. The toddler howled. The eldest described how the poo consisted of '3 nuggets' and therefore wasn't a 'big clearout'. The plumber stood in the doorway, facing outwards and trying to pretend he wasn't there. I faced the wall and closed my eyes and tried to pretend I wasn't there And then? Well then (for some god only knows reason) I turned to the plumber and said 'could I get you a cup of tea?'.

Funnily enough, he declined.

Sometime later when he came downstairs and asked to be paid the toddler hit him in the eye with the horsewhip (the horsewhip is now their second favourite toy, after the placenta). I blushed and said 'I don't know WHERE they got that from!'. Oh well - maybe he won't think it's all boring in suburbia.........

Anyway - another day done - another day with no good news on the house. Another day of excruciating embarrassment.

And my abiding thought?

NOBODY PAYS YOU FOR THIS.

Nobody.

I'm off to flush the toilet. Small things keep you happy.

Pass the Placenta

Ok so here we are - Half Term. Half of my nails have fallen off so at least I can blog again without too much problem (I'm not sure where the nails have gone, I'm not sure whether I want to know. I live in fear that someone will bite into a sandwich and scream).

Slight problem - we were pretty much 100% certain we would have moved house by now so I have nothing planned, nowhere to go and my house resembles the insides of Pickford's warehouse. Only with less floor space. A LOT less floor space.

So I wasn't in the best of moods.

And then I got up.

Obviously what with the clocks changing I got up at something ridiculous like 5am.

Mood lowered.

Then I found out the tele wasn't working - all I had was a sign saying 'Pace' and no picture. Pace? PACE!?! What as in 'start pacing the living room floor and praying?').

Mood lowered significantly further.

Finally (after what seems like an entire day) the clock hits 9am and I can phone the solicitors about the house move (or lack of).

The solicitors' phone lines aren't working - an automated announcement informs me there is a fault they are trying to repair (I have since found out that someone had dug through them - by this stage the word 'conspiracy' is coming to mind, coupled with 'against me').

Mood hits rock bottom - breakdown imminent.

The children however are doing a good job amusing themselves. I can hear them playing happily n the hallway. They are squealing 'argh argh the blood is spilling out! Quick run away from the blood!'. As they are both laughing I presume it's not their blood but (eventually) have to poke my head round the corner to find out just how vivid their imaginations are.

What do I find?

Well I find that they have liberated the model placenta and umbilical cord from my teaching set (god knows where the poor baby is) and the eldest one is swinging the placenta round by its cord (rather like a Hammer thrower at a Track and Field event - only I've haven't seen placentas as an Olympic sport - yet) and his toddler brother is squealing in horror as the 'blood' brushes against him.



My first thought is 'oh well, at least I can blog about this'.

The game soon takes on a further dimension with the placenta being dangled between the struts of the banisters and swung back and forth as the toddler runs to and fro trying to avoid it. If the placenta hits him his brother squeals 'the bloods got you!' and they both collapse in hysterical laughter.

Hmmmm.

I note that the eldest one's half-term homework is 'draw something you did this holiday'.

Could be interesting. Hopefully we will move before he has to go back..

Eventually the joy of 'placenta bashing' wears thin and they move on to the next game which, rather enchantingly, is their own version of 'Come Dine with Me' (for those that don't know it's a cult TV show where slightly delusional and eccentric strangers hold dinner parties for eachother in the form of a contest - I advise you to take a look).

Anyway they've clearly taken quite a lot of Come Dine with Me in over the last few years as they had it down to a tee. There was bickering, things being (pretend) burnt, snide comments, meals served late and a row over 'seasoning'. There was also a lot of dry pasta eating by the toddler and a scene involving a bottle of ketchup but we won't dwell on that. I am presuming raw pasta isn't actually toxic? Just, erm, 'hard to pass'?

At 2.30pm the solicitor's phone lines were re-connected and have we exchanged?

No.

We haven't.

Don't even ask. It's ridiculous. BEYOND ridiculous. But here I am - still in limbo - sitting amongst my boxes whilst people throw (pretend) placentas at me and children struggle to digest raw pasta.

Ce la vie.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Nailed

You will be relieved to here that (as of now) I am still here and the prophecy of my imminent demise is yet to be realised.

Phew.

There was a small panic circa 7 am this morning when I noticed an alarming bright brown/orange mark on the white underside of my left arm. Having rapidly flicked through a mental list of possible (and, of course fatal) causes (e.g. rare and untreatable skin cancer, internal bleeding, disintegration of my epidermal layer - you get the idea), I came upon the realisation that I'd fallen asleep on a blob of fake tan.

So, thank heavens for that.

Now my greatest worry is that I can barely type because I've managed handicap myself with a set of talon like nail.

You see the stress of the move has taken it's toll in several ways, one of which is that I've chewed my nails away to nothing and left a right sorry mess behind. I was having my photograph taken today so in an effort to cover up the disaster zone I went to Boots and invested in a set of plastic glue-on falsies. I've never done this before so was something of a novice in this field. And judging by the fake tan acccident I should have known better.....

I deliberately chose the ones entitled NATURAL LOOK quickly followed by the word SHORT.

Well let me tell you now - they is nothing natural or short about them - they are proper Footballers Wives jobbies. Huge great clacking claws with big white square ends. I could do a lot of damage in a fight I tell thee.

Oh and don't even ask me about the application process.......

Simple? Simple my arse.

I ended up with several of my right hand fingers glued to the tops of my left hand nails and the glue itself is clearly from the same chemical-stable as super glue.

It looked like I was going to spend the next 7 days in a state of involuntary prayer but after a lot of tugging (and swearing) I manged to yank the right hand free.

I have left a layer of skin behind on top of the lefthand nails but if you don't look to closely it's not too noticeable. I can live with the pain and loss of my fingerprints.....

Anyway now they are on and they are a nightmare but I can't get them off because you need to soak them in acetone nail varnish remover and I've just discovered mine's in one of the 70 packing boxes filling my house......

Oh.

So I'm stuck with them (literally) and I'm scrabbling around like a demented kitten. I kept waking in the night with bits of them digging into bits of me and my typing speed has dropped from 70 wpm to somewhere around 7....... Opening a can of Coke takes several minutes and they scare small children (although I will confess to using this to my advantage).

You're going to have to excuse any typos and until they drop off I'm going to have to find something else to chew.......