Thursday, 30 April 2009

Catching Up

Sorry for the lull in proceedings - it's been 'go go go' here, and it's not about to get any easier.

At least I've got today's assessed presentation out of the way - so I can now do things like blog/send emails/talk to people/eat/breathe/exist without a crushing sense of guilt that I 'should be doing something more important'.

Whilst I've been working away in a diligent fashion it's all been going on round here.

The Man Eating/Lion Dog/Dog of Dave (which is apparently actually a Turkish Mountain Dog) has been removed by the police and is now in dog custody. Apparently they are having problems with it as (in the words of my neighbor): 'it only speaks Turkish, don't it?'. The police dog handlers are apparently working hard to get it's English up to scratch in order to re home it.

I shall look out for its return and expect to see it back outside my house kicking off about 'the state of the farkin' motor' before breaking into a bit of Chaz and Dave and doing the Lambeth Walk.

No seriously - it is unlikely the dog will return because it appears/has been alleged (but, I hasten to add, is in no way proven) that it's owner is a drug dealer.

That would probably explain why he owned a dog the size of Red Rum, has rigged up CCTV round his house and has people coming and going all through the night.

It all kicked off last Friday lunchtime when a fleet of squad cars surrounded his house, a surveillance team were placed on the roof of a neighbouring house and his house was stormed. It was certainly more entertaining than Loose Women.

The man delivering my Littlewoods catalogue was adamant I was living opposite a bomb factory but it appears it is merely a drugs den.

Damn, I was looking forward to doing that bit on the news when they interview the neighbours and they say 'we just had NO idea! He was a quiet man...Kept himself to himself! He was a good neighbour! Kind to animals! And now this!'. Only I would have said 'we full well knew he was a flaming looper - owned a dog that could kill a man with one paw and looked like a right shifty geezer. Yeah it doesn't surprise me one bit that's he's a no good piece of sh1t. Good riddance'.

Anyway, I'm guessing as they've taken his car and most of the contents of his house they will also keep his dog? At least until it's English is up to scratch.....

I now just have to prepare for the 'holiday' I am going on on Saturday.

There is a reason 'holiday' is in little quotation marks.

There is only so much of a holiday you can have which will involve at least 12 hours in the car with a howling infant, probably an equal number of hours chasing before mentioned infant across the Lakeland countryside trying to prevent him from falling down fells or into bogs - oh and elements of the holiday involve my father (him of the pierced testicle fame). There is already an immense family row in full swing because my brother has the gall to have a 'bitch in heat' (this means his pet dog has gone all hormonal and millions of male dogs are hammering at the door trying to shag it - not really the number 1 thing you'd want to take on holiday with you - I'd rather pack a bottle of wine and good book - but hey, I'm sure it will just add a certain something to the week).

I'm sure the holiday will be fun.

I'm sure it will provide plenty of blog fodder.

What I'm far from sure about is if it will involve any kind of rest and/or recuperation.

I'm guessing it's best to set my hopes low and thus not be disappointed.

I will let you know....

Monday, 27 April 2009

A Question of Scale

There was an incident, many years ago, about which I still mock my dear husband.

I left him in charge of ordering us a new freezer.

And off he went and did all his research in a very thorough and 'man with important electrical business to undertake' way.

He located, via the Internet, the ideal freezer and WAIT FOR THIS - it was about half the price of any other freezer available. Even though it was made by a well respected brand and had all the 'bits' (whatever 'bits' freezers come with - I am unsure. I know what they don't come with - 6 inches of frozen pack ice, a multitude of stray peas and unidentifiable packages of frozen meat which may have been placed in there at any time during the last 5 years but you are dare not throw away because of fear of 'waste'. Thus they sit - frozen in time - like those Woolly Mammoths they occasionally uncover somewhere in Siberia).

The freezer sounds too good to be true?

Well yes, it was.

I was somewhat suspicious and a quick investigation on my part revealed that the reason the freezer was half the price of all the others was because it was (less than) half the size.

It was a miniature freezer. The kind of thing you would put in your caravan. The kind of thing which would hold a small pack of mince and a small pack of frozen peas (at a push).


It was like that bit in Spinal Tap where they confuse feet and inches and their show stopping replica of Stone Henge arrives looking more 8 inches than 8 feet high....

Anyway - I have of course regularly ripped the piss out of the poor man over his 'freezer/Spinal Tap' crapness.

Only recently Internet shopping seems to have been getting its own back.

The reason the bottle of wine I ordered (in which to cook a whole chicken) was so cheap was because it was a miniature bottle. You can imagine my surprise when I pulled it out of the bag to find I could fit the entire bottle in the palm of my hand.... I don't know about covering a whole chicken, I think it just about covered its ankle. I can't be sure because despair led me to drink it (all 2 gulps).

The reason the 'large gammon' I ordered (you know, like a giant ham you cook in a giant pan and feeds a family of 4 for 4 days?) was so cheap was because it was actually a large gammon STEAK. As in a sheet of meat - no more no less. Not feeding 4 people full stop.

The reason the raisins were so cheap was because they were a 'snack pack'. Not quite the 1kg sack I was hoping for.....

And so on.

My cupboards resemble some kind of scene from Alice in Wonderland where everything has shrunk.

So the moral is - read the small print. And be careful what you laugh at...

Friday, 24 April 2009

A Marked Man

The boys were playing in Son 1's bedroom yesterday morning when my ears pricked up at the conversation they were having (well I say 'conversation' but only one of them can actually speak - the other one just burbles with a scattering of the words 'cat', 'dave', 'NO', 'OW', 'BANG', 'HEAD' and 'kerchow' sprinkled in).

Son No 1 was saying they were having a fancy dress party and his brother was 'all dressed up'.

This surprised me because Son 1 HATES dressing up. He thinks it is the worst thing ever.

Every other child is delighted to transform themselves to into a pirate/princess/Batman/whatever and he just stands there with his eyes arms folded and a big sticky out lip saying 'I am NOT a pirate/princess/batman/whatever, I am just ME'. And that's fine. There's nothing wrong with being happy with being you.

So I was surprised to hear that he was throwing his very own fancy dress party.

Especially as, for obvious reasons, he doesn't own any fancy dress outfits.

Curious I poked my head round the door. Everything looked 'as before' (i..e the floor was ankle deep in cars and trains and books were being scattered around like confetti - I used to fight against it - but I exhausted myself and realised that the path to happiness would mean giving up).

'Erm, I heard you saying you were having a fancy dress party?'.

'We are!'.

'Oh right. Erm, who is dressed up?'.

'My brother!'.

(I looked at his brother - he's wearing brown cords and a lumberjack shirt - unless he's going to the party as a Canadian Logger he's very much wearing what I dressed him in that morning).

'Oh I see. So what's he dressed up as?'.

'A tiger!'.

'A tiger?'.

'Yes, I've drawn stripes on his back'.

And sure enough the baby has a series of marker pen inflicted stripes across his back.

Not that I've ever seen a navy blue tiger.

Ah well, it could have been worse. A baby is easier to put in the bath than, for example, the carpet.

Speaking of which, I'd better stop writing blog posts and go and see what they are doing....

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Reading Matter

Well it looks like my eye-jiggling therapy is coming to an end (see previous info on 'EDMR' for the treatment of PTSD) which is bloody wonderful because:

a) it appears to have worked like a charm and I have sunshine emanating from ever pore (well, sometimes) and I can actually stand up and say words like 'blood' without shaking and wanting to jump out a window. Look: BLOOD BLOOD BLOOD BLOOD. And my heart rate hasn't even gone up. I love myself, the world and everything in it. Man.

b) I will soon end my weekly sit in the reception area from hell listening to the receptionists talking about their constipation because OBVIOUSLY I'm a patient and therefore don't actually exist - let alone possess any facilities by which to hear and observe conversations. Sigh.

Most of the people that turn up appear to be told that the person they have been told to come and see isn't actually in - so, sorry, they were misinformed. Goodbye.... I'm not sure if this is true or merely a ruse to save the receptionists the work of paging the doctors? 'Yeah, ANOTHER patient failed to show up - ungrateful waste of resources, seems to happen more and more these days'......

c) I won't have the weekly 'reading matter dilemma'.

You see after the first week and the debacle over the magazines I took to taking my own (which is a good job as the only recreational reading matter available now is some kind of Evangelical Christianity publication obviously left by a 'good Samaritan/indoctrinator preying on the vulnerable' (depending on your point of view, obviously).

Someone has torn the cover off it and it bears a large stain. I'll leave the rest to your imagination but I have a feeling the reason is it still there is because even the cleaners won't touch it.

Now the last time I went, I grabbed the paper back I was reading only to realise it was an expose of 'Honour' killings amongst certain sections of the Asian community. Hmmm, perhaps, considering the location of the above mentioned Mental Health Unit, not the most culturally sensitive thing to sit there reading in the waiting room.

So I wasn't taking that.

That left my hard back. The problem with my hardbook was that it was the entire collection of letters written by the Mitford Sisters to eachother. All 6 sisters. Over about 80 years. And they certainly liked to write those girls.... I think it runs to about 2,000 pages. Maybe more. I'd go and look but I can't lift it.

So I wasn't taking that either.

'Ah ha' I thought 'I will grab that paperback my darling husband picked me up in the Charity Shop, it sure looks interesting!'.

The paperback in question was called 'Tommyland' and was a book about Tommy Lee, the drummer from Motley Crue (who are a rock band notorious for hell raising and womanising - in case you missed that part of history). Tommy Lee is probably most famous for being very very badly behaved and marrying Pamela 'Baywatch' Anderson - and then being jailed for kicking her in the butt (well, so he says...) and then they got divorced.

I seem to read quite a diverse range of books.

Anyway, the problem with 'Tommyland' was that it was written by 'Tommy' himself - not a man particularly at home with the written word. A man, in fact, more at home in a strip club holding nothing more than a bottle of Jaegermeister and a dancer's butt......

Actually, I say it's written by Tommy - that's not strictly true.

Parts of it are written by his penis.

No seriously - there are bits in crazy, jerky writing surrounded by illustrations of 'droplets' (yeah gods) which are supposed to be written by his dick.

Only I didn't know this when I toted it along to my appointment.

Oh. Dear. God.

I was only a few pages in and he was giving me very very precise information about how to have sexual intercourse whilst driving down the 'freeway' at the same time.

This information is, of course, useless to me. For a start you need tinted glass and cruise control...

Next he was giving me tips about sleeping with 'big' girls and how to get the most out of a strip club experience.

My thoughts (which were many and varied but mainly centered around the 'what the f*** has my husband bought me this book for? variety) were suddenly shattered by my therapist calling my name.

She is a very 'proper' lady in her 50's. I felt like I'd been caught behind the bike sheds with a copy of Razzle (not that I ever read Razzle).

So I stuffed Tommy and his tits and his swings and his videos and his ice cubes and all the rest of it back in my hand bag and went in.

Now the problem is that the therapist does things to you which means your mind just flows and you get 'pictures' in front of you and you have to describe them exactly in order to explore the deepest recesses of your mind. This is normally fine - you know she's used to hearing all about death, decay, gore and loss.

What I'm NOT sure she's used to hearing about is what goes in a Las Vegas whore house.

No wonder she's signed me off.....

p.s before you ask the book has gone back from whence it came - 'Help the Aged'. Sorry!

Sunday, 19 April 2009

My Balls are Bothering Me (again)

Well you may recall the debacle between me and my balls (birth balls that is). Particularly the one that wouldn't stay firm however hard I pumped it.

My ball and I parted company and off it went to be replaced by the ball supplier.

And then?

Then - nothing. Zilch. Nadda.

I am ball-free and not loving it. My ball bag is empty.

So I braced myself and contacted the supplier.

Now my previous ball-orientated conversation with them was so cringe worthy that I chickened out and emailed. I explained the situation and how I was still waiting for my new improved balls to be delivered.

Their reply makes interesting reading:

Dear Madam,

Thank you for your email regarding your faulty balls.

I am afraid that we have no record or trace of your balls arriving at this office.

Could you please confirm how they were packaged and whether or not your name was clearly printed on them,

Thank you,


My reply reads:

Dear Angela,

Thank you for your email regarding my missing balls.

They were posted back to you in a sack - a black bin bag to be precise. I know this isn't ideal but due to their size there was nothing else to hand which could contain them. They were securely wrapped in duct tape so should not have broken free.

My full name and address were clearly attached. They were clearly mine.

I suppose it is possible that the packaging may have caused confusion and someone has mistaken my balls for rubbish and thrown them out? Maybe you could ask around the office to see if any staff recall having contact with them.

I look forward to your reply - I have proof of postage and I need them back A.S.A.P as I will need to use them soon.



I will let you know what Angela and her colleagues have to say about that...

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Why going mad and nearly dying isn't, necessarily, a bad thing...

The wonderful Claire Allen (who is actually a real proper journalist and published author of MULTIPLE books) has asked me here: to write about the 5 best things about being a mum.

It's part of some sort of blogging experiment so no doubt I will totally cock it up. Experiments and me tend to be a dangerous combination - I'm still trying to recover from the day I let cold water siphon back up into my boiling hot test tube and exploded glass and Potassium Permanganate across the entire Chemistry Lab. I had to be sent away for decontamination.....

Anyway as tempting as it is to write:

1. Child Benefit.
2. Free Dental Work for a year.
3. Free prescriptions for a year.
4. An excuse to eat birthday cake more times a year than you otherwise would.
5. No need to spend anymore money on bikinis as I will never be going near one ever again....

I will actually go all serious on you for a moment and say that I will put all 5 things in 1 giant big one and say this:

My children have undone me. They have deconstructed me and taken me apart.

Between them they look me into the labyrinth of my own mind and showed me how it feels to lose it. They took to me to the precipice of death and let me look over the edge - and then they called me back again. They showed me how it feels to be imprisoned by your own mind with the people you love most in the world on the other side of the bars. They gave me a new definition of pain, of loss, of guilt and of depression.

They stripped me of what I thought I was and took me away from where I thought I belonged in the world. They shipped me to a foreign country from which I thought there was no way home.

And then?

They rebuilt me. It was they who taught me how to walk again. How to keep putting one foot in front of the other even when the journey seemed impossible and the top of the hill invisible. It was my children who taught me where I really belonged in the world - this new home of motherhood.

My children - you have shown me, the hard way, what courage is and made me prove how hard I will fight to be your mother again. To hold you without charade or pain or fear.

You have taught me who the real me is - far from faultless - but your mother. Forever, yours. In eternity. Because even when I'm not here - I will be with you.

So thank you. Thank you for taking me apart and rebuilding a truer, better, stronger me.

I would change nothing because when you have stood on the brink of eternal darkness and you get the chance to turn back towards the sun, everything is touched by a golden light. Whilst you fear the shadows you revel in the warmth.

Your beauty, your laughter, your delight in the small and shock at the old. Your energy, your light and your eternal love.

So thank you for everything, for proving the power of a mother's love. For taking me home and giving me a better future.

Motherhood - the hardest and the greatest thing I ever did and keep on doing.

(Are you crying yet? Because I bloody well am!).

Right I can get back to shouting at them for unravelling the loo roll now.....

Shot Down in a Blaze of Glory

There's a thing going around Facebook at the moment where you list the first 5 cars you ever owned.

I can't fill it in because I've never owned 5 cars. However, it did make me think back to the first car I ever owned.


Yeah I know it's really lame when girl's name their cars but Goldie was, erm, 'gold' so it wasn't really up their with people who call their cars stuff like 'Mr Bojangles' or 'Princess Peewee'.

Actually the log-book described the car as 'beige' but not many 17 year olds wanted to be associated with a beige automobile so the car was solid 'gold' to me.

Anyway, Goldie was a Renault 5. A very very old one.

When I went away to Uni, Goldie stayed behind (I don't think it would have actually made it up the motorway).

When I came back for Christmas, a nest of mice had made a home around the 'faux' leather gear-lever padding and things went downhill from there (I'm not sure things can ever go 'up' once you've had mice in your gearbox).

After a while Goldie stopped working completely. A rat was found under the bonnet (I'm surprised they didn't find the bloody Loch Ness Monster in the petrol tank) but no other cause could be found so Goldie went to the garage (well to one of my dad's mates) for further investigations.

He found that Goldie had been shot.

There was a bullet hole through some vital part of the engine.

Excuse my languge but 'What. The. F***?'.

I'm hoping that it was shot accidentally during a rabbit shoot or something (it was parked in a very rural field miles from anywhere) and not that somebody was actually trying to assisinate me. But I guess I'll never know? Well unless I spot a masked assasin peeping through my rose bushes which, I'd like to think, is unlikely.

Anyway, Goldie was mended and returned and my dad decided to sell it before any other animals could eat parts of it, so off it went to a rural village garage to stand on their 'For Sale' forecourt.

And that was the end of that.

Or so I thought.

It turned out the guy who owned the garage was in some kind of a feud with another local car salesman and Goldie was firebombed.

Yes firebombed.

My poor old beige Renault 5, first car I ever owned, car I used to sleep in in the car park of 'NightOwls Discotech' so I could still drink and not pay a taxi, my first taste of freedom - exploded in a ball of flame and made it into the local press.

At the time I felt strangely moved and saddened by this but now it just seems like just part of the wider picture of oddball insanity which seems to follow me around.

R.I.P Goldie. It could have been worse. I could have thrown you down a railway embankment....

Monday, 13 April 2009

Peeing Hell

Right, well now we have discussed my bowels (again), lets return to peeing. Next week I promise to return to more feminine topics - like my baking skills or vegetable growing excellence (who am I kidding? I did once grow some tomato plants but the rabbit OD'd on them and almost died - so that was that. This is a new rabbit by the way, not the dead one I threw down the railway embankment.....).

Anyway, I am one of the those girls who when I need a wee - I NEED A WEE. I have always been like this, it's not a 'post pushing 10lb babies out of a small hole' development.

One the most embarrassing memories I have of early puberty is being told by my mother that it was absolutely fine to wee behind the rose bush on the grass verge because nobody could possibly see me - ever. What my mother failed to notify me of was the fact that, behind the rose bush, was the slip-road to a service station...... Mid-pee a coach load of boy scouts decided to visit the Little Chef.

Their jeering, gesturing faces, pressed against the glass windows of the coach are ingrained into my memory for all eternity.

Anyway, this need to wee means that sometimes I need to resort to what my son would call 'an outdoor wee'.

And it happened today.

Whilst on the outskirts of a well-to-do Market Town I HAD to go to the toilet. There were no toilets anywhere near by and it was 'pee now or forever have wet pants' so I pulled the car up into a car park, checked for CCTV (I really don't need to be appearing on one of the dodgy DVD's you can buy of people having it off in wheelie bins etc etc) and coach loads of small boys and did a wee.

What a I didn't factor in was that I was wearing very flared jeans with large, gutter like, turn ups on the bottom of them.

Large gutter-like turn ups which, it appears, can hold a lot of wee.

I did wonder why there was no puddle.

So there we are, I spent my Bank Holiday Monday driving around the Home Counties countryside with a very wet, warm ankle.

Perhaps it's time to admit defeat and invest in a She-Pee?

Friday, 10 April 2009

Would you like KY Jelly with that madame?

Well here we are - Easter. I guess a lot of you would like a distraction (for that read 'good laugh at my expense') from whatever activities you are involved in this weekend - so here is a good one.

This tale dates from the time I spent, around 18 months ago, in the loony bin - officially referred to as 'The Unit'.

I don't tend to say too much about the 'Unit' because I actually, quite seriously, want to do a book about my experiences in and around the place - a sort of unique 'laugh until you cry and then cry some more at the sad bits' kind of look at what it's like to actually almost die, go insane, be incacerated etc (hmm sounds a laugh a minute doesn't it!), rather than just dally round the edges of it like I do most days.....(in the meantime if anyone would like to publish the other random facts of my life then I'm happy to oblige and provide you with whatever format you require. Although I draw the line at naked posturing - my bum ain't what it once was - as you are about to discover).

Anyway while I was in The Unit I had a bit of a problem of an embarrassing nature (well apart from being very mental - which was embarrassing enough itself).

I had, very recently, had a 10lb+ baby and this had had unfortunate consequences not only for my sanity but also for my backside.


Now I know they are like the 'last taboo' but, in case you are lucky enough not to realise this yet (and they come to most of us I believe) piles are basically varicose veins in your bum and OH.MY.GOD they HURT. I had no idea how much they hurt until I got them. Every time you go to the loo, it's like having another baby....

I had enough on my plate, what with going mad and being locked up, so I didn't want to also suffer physical agony every time I needed the toilet - so I asked one of the many medical staff on duty for some medication.

No problem they said.

I should have realised, what with this being The Unit and all that, it wouldn't be that simple.

First of all my medication had to be prescribed by a doctor - and for this a call was put out to 'bring one in'.

All because I needed a poo.

Having been interviewed 'thoroughly' by the doctor, I was told to go and wait in the lounge and my medication would be brought to me.

So I waited (I tell you what, it's a good job things weren't desperate).

The red 'alarm' light went on which meant someone was in the Medication Room. Good sign.

Then one of the nurses appeared, walking towards me, and the other inmates, holding a large tray. Bad sign.

It didn't help that the nurse in question was male and French. I shall refer to him as Pascal (not his real name).

Pascal: Eeer we have ze medicine, as you 'ave requested, madame.

Me: Erm, WHAT?

Pascal: Err, theez eez le tablet, for your, err, probleme. And ear is ze special creme. And zee rubber gloves you may wish to be wearing for your tablet. And zee special jelly.

Me: (now the colour of a beetroot) JELLY?

Pascal: Er, yes, how you say, zeee K Y Jelly. For zee tablet. Le tablet - it eez not for the mouth, you understand? It is for zeee......


All around me other patients sat open-mouthed. I can only pray they thought it was part of their psychosis.

Whereever I thought the route to madness would take me, sitting in a communal lounge with a Frenchman in front of me, proffering me a selection of arse tablets, complete with rubber gloves and 'special jelly' was not, I must admit, in my 'things that may happen and I need to worry about' list.

It was now.

You see as if the 'presentation' wasn't bad enough, once I had used my 'medicine', the entire tray had to then be returned to Pascal so that he could check I had taken my medicine and wasn't secretly stashing away supplies of Anusol and KY Jelly in order to do myself in.

I mean please, however bad it gets, you would have to be on a whole other branch of insanity to actually think that you could/should/would like to top yourself using Haemorrhoid medication...

How would that work anyway? NO - don't even go the there.

'I'm afraid to inform you Sir that your wife was stockpiling KY Jelly.......We think it was a cry for help that went too far'.

I'd already put my family through enough without that being splashed across the front of the local paper.

It soon became known amongst the inmates that every time I needed a poo, Pascal would need be to be summoned and 'the tray' presented.

Oh how we laughed.

The most excruciating occasion was when I was waiting to go out for a supervised walk, together with all the other patients, various visitors and a large amount of staff. In the middle of all of this I realised I needed the toilet.

Before I could mutter another word somebody shouted 'CALL PASCAL, SHE NEEDS A POO.....' and voila! 'Madame, eeer is zee tray'......

I don't think I'll ever eat in a French Restaurant again.

There are no secrets in mental health. Not even the timing of your bowels.

It's OK - you can go back to your ironing/gardening/DIY/egg eating now. My self-flagellating for the weekend is done. Oh and if the book on the 'The Unit' ever gets taken up - you I'll let you know. Just so you don't miss anything.


Thursday, 9 April 2009

A Very Windy Day

Yesterday's diet consisted of:

  • Large portion of lentil and nut loaf.
  • Two very very large portions of vegetable soup (containing peppers which, it appears, I can not digest effectively).
  • For snacking - a large bag of 'ready to eat!' prunes.
  • Extreme Gales (verging on hurricane force).

And for an evening activity:
  • Aerobics (this is the class that previously went by the name 'Pump Squat Pee'. I think it will now need to be renamed. 'Kung Fu Kick and Fart' would probably be a good starting point).
What was I thinking?

It was the point where the instructor asked us to start raising our legs high in the air (like a dog trying to pee) and kick hard, that I knew things were heading for disaster.

And all set to Tiffany's 1980's hit 'I think we're alone now'.

No Tiffany, I don't think I was alone - but as soon as the turned the music off I certainly was 'running just as fast as we can'.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Bake Me a Cake as Vile as You Can

When I have a spare 5 minutes I like to have a look at the CakeWrecks blog ( which is crammed full of hilariously bad professional cakes.

I did actually send my Special Pasta (see previous posting on this 'issue') SIL's wedding cake in but, as yet, it hasn't appeared.

Apparently she went to the professional cake shop and asked for something 'artistic' for her wedding. What they came up with is shown below. If you look closely you can see the polystyrene poking out. Isn't that cheating just slightly? Being paid to make a cake and then just using actual real in-edible objects to 'make' all the tricky bits? I mean that's not baking - it's going down the local branch of Hobby Craft and sticking the contents of your basket on the rubber mat intended for craft knife use.

Just so you don't feel you are missing out, here it is:

Just take a moment to remind yourself - it's a wedding cake.

Mind you - that approach could save me stressing over the Iggle Piggle cake I need to make this summer. Just dust 'Giggi' liberally with icing sugar, drizzle him in chocolate ganache and stick a glace cherry in each eye and VOILA - it's a cake!! Being inedible doesn't seem to stop some people.....

Anyway - last week I had to bake a lot of cakes and whilst hard at work I was wistfully taken back to my youth. A youth spent in the rural wilds of Somerset. A youth spent in a village where the most exciting event of the year was generally the Annual Horticultural Show which featured a baking contest.

Not one to ever miss the opportunity of injecting some excitement into daily life, I decided (with the help of a friend) to enter the baking contest.

Now the competition (and it was a fiercely competitive contest amongst the olds) was for the best Victoria Sponge. You had to bake your best, leave your pride and joy on the table and a fleet of the local great and the good (basically the vicar, a local councillor and the few other random old duffers who were well thought of) would come and prod and poke the cakes - and taste them. You'd then go back in and find out if you'd won (the first prize was 70p - you can see why people were fighting over the prize can't you?) and read the comments on your card. The cards generally had comments like 'good colour, over firm' or 'flavoursome but cracked' (I know the feeling).

So we decided to put some vim into the event and enter a toxic cake.

Well it's less damaging to the community that holding up the local Post Office or opening a massage parlour (both things which did actually happen - but, I hasten to add, weren't down to me).

Of course we had to enter the cake under pseudonyms - I think we went to great lengths to sounds 'old and sensible' so we were probably called something like Jean Bramble and Edna Dorrit.

We baked it at my friend's house whilst her old Nan sat in the corner muttering about waste and rationing and starving children.

To the traditional Victoria Sponge recipe we added quite a few unique twists. Feel free to try them if you feel yourself come over all 'Heston Blumenthal'.

Vindaloo curry powder for a start.

And mustard.

And washing up liquid.

We did toy with flea powder but then realised we didn't actually want to get arrested for attempted murder.

Instead of jam and cream we filled it with mayonnaise and cranberry sauce.

The thing is, despite these additions, our cake came out the oven looking bloody lovely! Well if you looked closely enough there was a slight green tinge to the sponge (I guess that was the Fairy Liquid?) but this was easily covered with a liberal dusting of icing sugar.

So we smuggled our cake into the hall, scurried out and at 3pm we returned to read the verdict.

A LARGE chunk of the cake had been removed for tasting.

There was no prize.

There was one comment.

'Please report to the club secretary'.


We picked up the offending cake and we ran.

For a long time afterwards I was worried sick I'd be 'found out' and my parents informed (surely the call every parent dreads? 'It's about your daughter. We have reason to believe she laced a Victoria Sponge with curry powder and used an alias to persuade the vicar to swallow it.....').

I never was though. Until this confession.

So if you, by some bizarre chance, were judging that cake contest circa 1991, then I'm sorry. But it was funny.....

Monday, 6 April 2009

No Place Like Home?

When I had to go and stay with my parents last week, I wasn't able to blog. For this I would like to apologise but I hope you will understand that I had good reason. I wasn't actually down there for a break or holiday - but I kind of hoped that there may have been moments of 'respite'.

Suffice to say - there wasn't.

On waking, my youngest child would have to be (predominately) housed in the living room of my parent's house. This was not a pleasurable experience.

Hazards of the living room (a.k.a The Toddler Fun Factory or 'Mother's Ruin'):

1 very grumpy old collie dog who circles like a shark staking its claim.

1 very senile old spaniel who circles like a muppet looking for cookies.

1 large log pile (in the living room) which appears ideal for climbing/eating/sucking/throwing logs off (but which is suitable for none of the above).

1 small hole in a wooden door, exactly the same size as an infant's finger, in which an infant's figure is easily and regularly stuck and then the infant is stuck.

Several dozen plug sockets which are an alternative source of finger sticking fun when the aforementioned hole is out of bounds.

4 sharp corners of a low coffee table which regularly meet with 1 infant's head.

3 drawers of games dating from the 1970s/1980s which are regularly opened and spread across the room. These games include more choking hazards than one could possibly imagine. I mean who wouldn't want to munch their way through the plastic counters from 'Mastermind' whilst knocking back a beaker full of Connect 4 discs and, for a thrilling aperitif, get the green proboscis from 'Build Your Own Beetle! Now in Technicolour!' stuck in one's gullet?

1 drawer containing a gun (well I think technically it's an air pistol, it has no ammunition and is in bits - but it sounds dramatic - so I included it).

A piano. Not dangerous I admit but hugely annoying when 'played' by child who appears to have a unique approach to music in the form of a sort of Jazz/Metal/Grimecore fusion.

1 hard stone floor.

1 randy cockerel (admittedly not in the living room but never far away. This one's not called Jesus. He actually doesn't have a name. My mother is slacking now I no longer reside at home. Jesus did have a son - we called him The Messiah. The Messiah was killed by a fox. The emotional devastation meant I've never got as close to a fowl since so The Messiah's great grandson is nameless).

1 large pond (also not in the living room but easily accessible via).

Various mouse traps which were set circa 1991 and have been long since forgotten about. They are usually only identified if they kill a mouse and it starts to smell. More then once I have lent on a window sill only to be told to 'GET BACK! THERE'S A TRAP BY YOUR ELBOW!'. Nearly as exciting as the time I drank a glass of water that had actually been used to drown dog fleas....

I could go on.

Armoury available in combating the above:

1 mother with 1 pair of hand and 1 set of eyes.

Number of trips taken to the toilet unaccompanied by children:


Armoury mother would request should someone grant her 3 wishes:

1. A nanny.
2. A pen. No, not a biro. A holding pen. Or actually just the ability to be able to shut the door and not be told off for 'upsetting the dogs'.
3. A crate of wine or similar source of oblivion.

Number of hours off each night whilst infant securely imprisoned in travel cot:

Not enough. Especially when he decides that sleeping in a mesh pen is rubbish and manages to make a small hole in the side of the mesh.... A small hole he works on increasing in size. Like the Great Escape without the teaspoon or the Nazis.

Number of sleeps required by mother to get over the above trip:

I don't know. I'll tell you when I get there.

Friday, 3 April 2009

Wiggy Woes

I had an accident yesterday. An accident which ranks as 'highly bizarre' even by my standards.

It happened when I went to collect my son from school.

Now I am always late for school - this means that I have to sort of power march the whole way there in order to ensure my son isn't the last kid sitting on the carpet sobbing 'but I thought mummies came back?'.

The sun was out, the pram was moving like a salmon through a glacial stream, my iPOD was on and I was STRIDING. Striding very very fast.

I had just passed the HQ of one of Britain's leading employers and was outside the muscle man gym (name changed for legal reasons and pending court cases). The muscle men were outside - taking the sun, catching the rays, stretching their limbs, dealing drugs (allegedly), sharing tips on how to best annihilate the enemy (allegedly). Life was good. I was in the 'zone'.

And then it happened.

Without any prior warning the pram stopped.

It went from moving extremely fast to standing totally still in about 0.09 seconds.

Obviously there was a delay in my reactions. Whilst the pram crashed, my body continued to move forward very fast and I found myself continuing my journey, up over the handlebar and onto the pavement. The pram pitched onto it's side. The baby dropped his muffin and looked annoyed.

Some of the muscle men came over to help me. I wasn't hurt - just shocked and rather embarrassed.

What had happened? It had felt as if a wheel had just sheered off (this did actually happen with a previous pram - I ended up having to push 2 children 2 miles with an entire wheel missing - the pram was up on it's back wheels doing a sort of extended wheelie for the duration of the journey. It must have looked an utter dick - for a change).

As I brushed the dust off my hands and checked for cuts I glanced down at the offending wheel of the pram.

What on earth?

It looked as if a large, bright ginger, Persian cat was caught up in the wheel.


How could I have hit a cat and not even noticed? NOW WHAT!? Was it dead? Did we need a vet. Oh god - I've killed something! With a PRAM!

Then I realised that it really couldn't be a cat - cats don't, generally, have ringlets.

One of the muscle men bent down 'there's something round your wheel love' (observant these men of steel).

'Yes, I can see' I said as the grim reality dawned.

It was not a cat. It was my wig.

The situation was thus: some time ago I attended a fancy dress party as 'Ginger Spice'. For this event I wore a waist length curly ginger wig. I was recently having a big clear out and took loads of stuff to the charity shop. The wig fell out of the bag and got left behind so I chucked it into the basket under the pram so I could drop it off next time I passed. At some point during my journey some hairs from the wig must have got caught round the moving part of the pram wheel. As I walked, faster and faster, the hairs spun tighter and tighter until KABOOM - the entire wig was catapulted out of the pram basket and embedded itself, like an angry ginger octopus, around the pram wheel causing it to instantly stop.

So I was now stuck - I was already late for school and I needed to get moving NOW but the wig was really very very tangled round the wheel. Of course ALL the muscle men wanted to help.

'What is it love?'

'It's a wig'.

Silence. I don't think they felt up to commenting. Or maybe they had already used their word quota up for the day.

Thus ensued a 5 minute farce where various men capable of lifting 100lb barbells with a single hand grunted and struggled to release Ginger Spice's barnet from my pram wheel.

As the time ticked by my anxiety grew. I was now running really late. Did I need to call the school? 'Yes, sorry I will late to pick my son up. I'm currently outside the gym experiencing technical difficulties. Synthetic hair in my gears - you know how it is! Don't worry - I have a lot of men trying to get them out'.

No, I would not call the school.

At that point one of the muscle men rose up clutching the wig in triumph.

'Got it love!'.

'Thanks so much!' I gushed, shoving the scarlet tendrils into my handbag and leaving the scene at even greater speed than I arrived.

So there we are but that's the thing about life - strange things rise out of the past and stop you in your tracks when you least expect it. Especially wigs.....

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Highway to Hell

A.K.A 'Within these four walls nobody can hear you scream - except for me - who can do nothing BUT hear you scream, and can do sod all about it'.

Bonjour, nice to be back with you (I have no idea why I'm greeting you in French - I haven't been to France - it would be more appropriate to say 'All right me old luvers? How's you be doing?').

I am back from my travels. Please don't ask me how it was or how I am. Please!

Anyhow, I traveled back last night - the idea of this being that the children would sleep like angels and I could meander around the roads of Britain listening to unsuitable music which contains profanities and munching my way through half my body weight in Haribo Sours.

Son 1 obliged. He sat quietly reading his copy of the highway code, informing me about road signs and speed limits and then slept soundly for the next 3 hours.

Son 2 is a different kettle of fish entirely.

Oh dear lord. My head is still ringing.

He is a child who likes his trappings of comfort - so he's tethered up in the back with a dummy attached via a strap and various rags (which he also likes to suck) tied to his car seat, a selection of snacks within reach and he's clutching 'Giggi' (his beloved Iggle Piggle character).

He falls asleep for about 45 minutes and then wakes up and he is NOT happy. He probably wants chilled champage and a selection of canapes. He's a Leo. He's very demanding when it comes to luxuries (I should know - his birthday is 3 days before mine).

In his fit of rage he throws Giggi.

Bad idea. BAD idea all round.

Now I know I could have tethered Giggi to him but he had so much stuff already tied to his pyjamas that I feared I would arrive at my destination and find he'd spun himself a cocoon and, I confess, I didn't realise, what with all the other comforts on offer, Giggi would matter that much.

I was wrong.

Off he goes 'GIGGI, GIGGI, WAAAAAAAAAA, GIGGI GIGGI, WAAAAAA' and on and on and on and on and on for (what seemed like) infinity. And my lord he is loud.

It is doing my nut in. I turn the music up but I can still hear him. I grope around for Giggi but I can't feel him.

When I travel with my OH, retrieval off Giggi is his job (along with returning of all other scattered items, map reading, CD adjustment, feeding me snacks, feeding children snacks, giving me drinks etc - he's very useful - leaving aside the time he tipped a 2 litre bottle of Diet Coke directly down my front whilst I was doing 80mph on the M1. He said his hand suddenly jerked - I have a feeling it was actually his subconscious rebelling, but I digress).

I'm going to have to get him Giggi back somehow as I couldn't concentrate on driving but my options were limited. I couldn't pull off the motorway as we were miles from a turning and that only leaves the hard shoulder. Now the last time I looked, the hard shoulder of the M4 was up there in the list of 'most dangerous places to stand' in the world - somewhere between Basra and the doorway of an Ikea giving away free sofas - so I really didn't fancy it.

I reckoned Giggi was within easy reach - I'd just been groping around for him using the wrrong arm. I needed to take my right hand off the wheel, slide it between my seat and the wall of the car, and Giggi would be there. Voila!



I took my arm off the wheel and slid it between the chair and car wall at the top of the seat. Then I slipped it down to the bottom and fumbled around a bit.

No Giggi.


At this point the motorway started to get a bit hairy so I needed both hands on the wheel - or at least one hand available to use indicators/gear sticks and other such accessories. So I quickly tried to pull my arm back through the gap.

Expect my arm didn't go in that way.

It went in via the wider bit at the top of the seat/wall combo.

I had tried to yank it out via the very narrow bit at the bottom.

My arm, ladies and gentleman, was stuck.

So I'm now stuck on the M4, traveling very fast in a box of metal, with a screaming child and one arm stuck behind my body and no discernible way of getting it out again.


I think you could say I've had a better moments.

All that was flashing through my mind was a picture of tangled wreckage and the crash investigators saying 'we just can't understand how the impact resulted in her arm being wedged down the back of the seat? Never seen the like...'..

Sweat began to bead on my forehead. Pain or no pain I was going to have to yank - however much it hurt, I needed my arm back.

There was an ominous crunch.

Now is probably the time to tell you that my right arm is not actually secured to my body that well. I was born with most of my collar bone on that side of my body missing. Some kind of a birth defect. As a child, I used to be wheeled out in front of medical students, wearing nothing but my pants and vest. My only abiding memory of it all is being told that it was usually only seen amongst Norfolk farming families but that aside - my arm is a bit dicky.

So now I'm thinking 'holy mother of god - my arm has come out of the socket - this really IS sh1t'.

I managed to get it back on the wheel eventually and it was still working and we hadn't crashed - you need to look on the bright side with these matters.

I still had no Giggi though and I still had a screaming baby and I also now had a very very sore arm.

The infant wailed in rage the entire rest of the journey (another hour) and, on reaching home, I located Giggi in the boot of the car. He had clearly sailed over the parcel shelf. However loosely my arm is attached to my body, it was never going to reach that far.

Anyway - I'm back now and my arm is working so I can blog again. I'm off to look at how much those boxes you attach to the roof of your car cost, and if they are soundproof and roomy enough to house small children and multiple Giggis.....