Monday, 31 August 2009

Big in Japan

My eldest son has a bit of an obsession with catastrophes and generally trying to avoid them (can’t think why?).

We nickname him "Mr Health and Safety" because that’s what he is (well when he’s not doing stunt somersaults over my sofa). His bedtime stories include the Railtrack ‘Safety on the Railway’ booklet and a pictorial version of the Highway Code. He is obsessed by the ‘Danger of Death’ signs on electricity substations and the ‘Don’t Run the Risk’ Level Crossing safety campaign. Circa 900 times a day I have to explain what would happen if you touched the electricity cables running into the pylon with the tip of a fishing rod (and no, he doesn’t own a fishing rod).

However, there is a form of hazard above and beyond that posed by pylons and level crossings (which, as long as you are careful, won’t maim or kill you) and that is the kind of hazard which sweeps all before it and kills indiscriminately. Namely THE NATURAL DISASTER.

It started with earthquakes.

‘Mummeeeee – what’s that? (watching news footage of an earthquake reducing a city to rubble).

‘An earthquake’.

‘But what IS it?’.

‘Well the earth is made up of plates of rock that are floating around on melted hot rock in the middle and sometimes these plates of rock move around a bit and rub together – and that’s an earthquake! Super isn't it!’.

‘WAAAAAAA’ (sound of inconsolable weeping.....).

‘Erm, now don’t worry - you don’t actually get earthquakes in this country' (which isn’t strictly true but it’s true enough to a 4 year old unfamiliar with the fundamental theory of plate tectonics..…..).

‘Where are they, these earthquakes?’

‘Oh thousands of miles away across the sea’.



And that satisfied him. He now enjoys a morbid fascination of earthquakes – because they are all safely contained within Japan.

Next it was volcanoes:

‘Mummeee – what is THAT!’.

‘Well it’s like this – you know those cracks in the earth that cause the earthquakes? Well sometimes the hot rock comes spraying out…..and that's a volcano!!’.

‘In Japan right?’.

‘Erm, yes, in Japan’.

‘Well that’s OK then’.


And then tornadoes:

‘Mummee – we don’t get those in this country do we?’

‘No darling’.

‘Just in Japan?’

‘Well yes, in Japan’.

And then tsunamis:


‘Yes darling – it’s Japan!’.

And ball lightening?

'Japan! Japan! Japan!'.

And vampire bats? (don’t ask – bad choice of nature programme).

'AAAAALLLL in Japan! Sucking Japanese blood - ONLY!'.

And Spitting Cobras? (yes yes I know – like Vampire bats they’re not indigenous to Japan but hey, if you are going to demonise entire parts of the globe you may as well keep it localised).

If he sees things with Japanese writing on he is wildly disturbed. I was eating noodles the other day and he wanted to know whether they’d been in an earthquake. Then he saw some Japanese people in the street and wanted to know if they had come to live here because their country was so terrible….I had a job trying to explain that actually their country was very nice and not everyone minded living in a place plagued by earthquakes/volcanoes/ and deadly creatures. He was far from convinced. 'NO MUMMY! NOBODY SHOULD EVER LIVE JAPAN! IT IS TOO DANGEROUS!'.

So basically anything he sees which scares him witless and could kill indiscriminately belongs in Japan. I guess it won’t be top of our holiday list for the next few years?

As if all this wasn’t odd enough, I was even more bemused when, on seeing a choir performing on TV, he turned to me and, with a very serious face, said:



‘They don’t have THOSE in this country do they?’.

‘Erm, what? CHOIRS? As in groups of people SINGING??’

‘Yes choirs. They are just in Japan – yes?’.

‘Well they might be….’.

‘No mummy – they are ONLY in Japan! ONLY IN JAPAN!!’.

Quite why choirs rank up there with The World’s Worst Natural Disasters I don’t know but he never was one for nursery rhymes..

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Behind Closed Doors

When the children in the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe got to the back of their wardrobe they found a doorway to the secret world of Narnia.

When I (finally) found the way to the back of my wardrobe all I found was the secret world of sh1te.

You see I decided this afternoon to begin the 'big declutter' and where better place to start than my wardrobe? A wardrobe so full of 'stuff' that when you opened the door you feared the whole world would fall on your head.

Bit by bit it all came out and there were things in there that not only had I forgotten about but things that I never even knew I had.

It's hard to narrow it down but as I have to (you don't want to be here all night), here are the top ten Items that Time Forgot:

10. Various packets of painkillers that went out of date before my children were born. Deadly? Probably. Gone.

9. Huge amounts of winter woollens in various shades of grey all of which had been packed away 'clean' but were actually splattered with baby sick. That tells you more about life with a small baby than words could ever say. Even when you THINK you are doing OK and you THINK you are your normal self and on top of the game, you are actually wandering round in a slightly stained state - even on a good day. And it's only when you look back at the evidence a year or two (or maybe even 3....) later that the enormity of what you actually went through hits you and you think 'oh'. Gone.

8. Several dresses which I last wore circa 1994 whilst waving my arms in the air and making strange shapes in the midst of a sea of dry ice and strobe lights. Am I likely to wear them on teh school run? Erm, what do you think? Gone.

7. A pair of velour knickers which I recall came in a pack of 3 from Asda (maroon, gold and black) WHILE I WAS STILL AT COLLEGE. Ok I had a thing (at the time) for velour but pleeeeease! Does anyone really benefit from having a pair of 14 year old pants in their wardrobe? Let alone a pair with holes in. Erm, doubtful. Gone.

6. A dusty packet of some weird kind of herbal sweet. The blurb claimed they were 'ADVENTUROUS!' and would provide you with a 'THRILLING ZING'. I'll have to take the blurb's word for it because I wouldn't have put one in my mouth if you paid me. I'll just have to get my thrills from some other place (but not in the 14 year old velour pants). Gone.

5. A strange photo of me looking very glum whilst sat under a duvet in the living room of our first flat (this was during an era where I worked for the World's Most Evil Man who used to make me cry on a daily basis and left me so stressed I used to fantasise about breaking a leg so I could legitimately not go to work for a few weeks - not that he would have allowed that. He would had me dictating letters and answering his calls from my sick bed). My OH has written the words 'Stickhead looking very sad' written in Biro above my head. I think I will keep this to remind me that, even though we tend not to take (or keep) photos of the less than happy bits, they are still part of our lives and you know what, time moves on and things change.

4. A 2001 diary. I got quite excited finding this - ohhhh a whole diary to read back through! What adventures was I having!? What excitement! What joy! Only it was blank. Entirely blank. Very odd. Did I buy it and then forget it existed? Was 2001 just a particularly empty year? I don't know but it's gone. I have no possible use for a blank 2001 diary so GONE.

3. Copious amounts of Christmas wrapping paper, clearly bought during the January sales something like 5 years ago and 'put somewhere safe'. I've left it there and no doubt it will resurface some time after Christmas 2012........

2. A large sack of foam wadding. Hmmm. It took me quite some time to recall where this foam wadding came from or why would have purchased such an item but then I remembered that I bought it four winters ago when I decided to 'save money' and make a homemade foot-muff for the buggy. Well as you can tell - that was a roaring success....... The fleece I bought to form the outer cover is often found lying around my front room and friend's still rib me when they see it. 'See you've got round to making that foot-muff then?' phnar phnar. Anyway the foam wadding can get stuffed (boom boom) and is off to the charity shop. I have to face facts and just accept that sometimes we just can't be who we want to be and I will never stitch a goddam foot-muff (I think my mum needs to take note of this - she still has a half knitted Aran jumper in her cupboard which she started knitting when she was pregnant with my brother. MY BROTHER IS 29 YEARS OLD. I don't even know who the Aran jumper is for. I don't think she knows who the Aran jumper is for). GONE GONE GONE.

1. A set of PVC underwear. WHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATT!? All I can say is that it still had the labels on so was clearly unworn (and will remain so) but I have no recollection of ever purchasing it or being gifted it (my OH may have bought me some pretty odd gifts over the years but they were along the lines of fruit cake - not lace up PVC bustiers with matching thongs. Have you ever worn a thong made out of PVC? It didn't look comfortable to me. There were a lot of harsh looking hems. And I don't think PVC is very conducive to positive feminine hygiene but hey, who am I to judge?). Anyway the whole lot is going - 'brand new with tags' - to Help the Aged. I'm sure it will give someone a thrill (either that or a funny turn). I shall have to drop the bag and flee and make sure I don't go back in that particular charity shop. One thing's for certain, I'm not car booting it.....

Toilet Troubles ('The Sequel' or is it even 'The Sequel of the Sequel'?)

Well I was up bright and early and stamping my feet outside M&S at 10am, banging on the door and waiting for it to open.

Why was this?

A desperate need for a pair of men's slippers?

An over enthusiastic urge to take advantage of the 'Dine in for £10' offer?

A hitherto unknown lust for a pair of flesh coloured support panties?


I needed a poo.

And I had to go to M&S to do it.

Not your normal pooing venue I'm sure but, given the options, decidedly posher than Tesco's.

You see our toilet is broken.

This would be the same toilet that has blocked frequently (as noted on this blog) and has actually never flushed properly in the 8.5 years we have been living in this house (well you don't want to rush into these DIY jobs do you?).

Nobody outside of my immediate family can actually flush our toilet. There is something of a knack to it. A knack about as complex as translating the Koran into braille or building the Titanic out of matchsticks whilst blindfolded. It takes years of practice to perfect it.

People who know us and know our toilet don't even try and flush it. They only use the toilet if they have to and I then go up and deal with their offerings 'en masse'.

People who DON'T know about the toilet, disappear into my bathroom for circa 20 minutes until I realise they are STILL trying to flush the toilet and rescue them from their potential shame.

Anyway - as you might have gathered - we could live with this problem.

However, the cistern then started having trouble refilling after every flush. It would refill by means of one droplet of water every 2 minutes and thus take half the day to refill to a level where you could flush it again.

Having a toilet which you could flush twice a day wasn't ideal - however it was preferable to having a toilet which you couldn't flush at all and (just to add to the misery) leaked - which is what we have now after trying to get it fixed.

I friend of mine's dad is very handy and as he's staying locally we asked him to fix the toilet. Poor bloke - he had no idea what he was about to unleash.

He started working on it on Wednesday, has been back every day since, and it's still an ongoing saga - which has made 'tending to your daily business' interesting to say the least.

A friend asked me if we'd dug a latrine in the back garden yet.

My answer was no - not yet, but what with limits of Sunday opening hours and it being a Bank Holiday - never say never....... At quarter to 4 this afternoon I shall be doing my rounds and shouting 'does anyone need a poo? If so get to M&S now or forever hold your bowels.... Well until 10am tomorrow anyway'.

I think the moral of this tale is 'if it's not COMPLETELY broken (as in 100% unusable) don't even attempt to try and fix it'.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Broken English

Well the toddler has started to speak.

This is clearly wonderful - but also somewhat alarming. You just kind of presume that he'll always tag along like a badly behaved puppy using the odd favourite word (words which I hasten to add have never included 'mummy' - no, in fact 99% of them centre around railways. It is very apparent that he holds freight trains above me in the order of 'very important things to learn to say')and the thought of actually holding a CONVERSATION with him is going to take some getting used to.

Mind you we are a long way off conversation standards.

In fact we are a long way of any semblance of him being an even vaguely civilized being.

It really is a War of Attrition isn't it?

I mean at the moment, if he wants me to help him with his Iggle Piggle puzzle he thrusts it into my face, scowls fiercely and roars 'DO!'.

I look back at him, raise an eyebrow and say 'it's please mummy, can you help me with my puzzle'.

He scowls even more fiercely and roars even more darkly 'DO DO DO!!!'.


How do we go from that to nice talking and impeccable manners?

The answer is very very slowly.

He knows what he wants though and sometimes it's faintly embarrassing.

Whilst at my friend's house on Tuesday she offered him a biscuit - a very nice biscuit at that.

'NO!' he roared, while stamping his foot' TWO! TWO!'. She looked slightly shocked.

Perhaps I need to revel at the fact that he can count to 2 rather than recoil at his savage ways?

And then yesterday, whilst in the pet shop, and in front of a veritable sea of elderly-ladies, he pointed enthusiastically at the sacks of guinea pig food and cooed 'MY TEA! MY TEA!'.

The smiles quickly turned to frowns (and no I don't feed him guinea pig food - or any other kind of pet food - although that's not to say that he hasn't accidentally sampled it from time to time....).

And then last night he's roaring the house down at 2am and when I go in, rather than thinking 'ohhh the poor love, it must be his teeth....' I am informed, by a very very angry little boy that he wants his railway magazine and he wants it NOW. 'TRAINS! TRAINS! MA-ZEEN! MA-ZEEN'.

What does he think I am, room service?

As his conversational skills grow, how will this escalate? 3am calls for a Club sandwich, half a bottle of Moet and directions to the nearest casino?

Well if he could just manage to say 'Mummy' it would at least soften the blow.....

Saturday, 22 August 2009

The Wasp Factory

I had a lovely day out with the boys yesterday. Really lovely. The sort of day where everybody is just loving and giving and happy (well bar the small incident where a reasonably extreme summer storm erupted out of nowhere, just as my 4 year old poked his head out of a rather large wooden door......Storm hit door, door hit boy's head.....Boy's head was somewhat crushed by storm driven door and boy fell to floor howling..... Approximately 200 concerned mothers turned at once and gasped, while secretly being pleased it wasn't their child, and then watched as I screeched 'well what do you expect if you stick your head out a door in the middle of a storm?' before falling to the ground to administer hugs and hide the fact that I was in fact crying).

Anyway, it was a lovely day - only marred by the head-slamming incident and the BLOODY WASPS.

You may have noticed there are a lot of wasps around this year. Apparently the UK has seen a 70% increase in the wasp population over the last 2 years (geek fact of the day) and they are blaming this on 'the un-naturally mild weather' which means more and more wasps survive the winter.

I find this slightly suspect - yes the climate has been getting milder but we seemed to spend a large chunk of last winter under several inches of snow - surely that should have killed some of the buggers off??

A couple of years ago there was something of a PR campaign on the behalf of wasps (quite who instigated this I don't know, I very much doubt the wasps have any kind of formal arrangement to try and promote their 'better side' so clearly someone woke up one day and decided that they loved wasps and wanted to take on their cause - odd. Very odd. When weighing up the needs of the disadvantaged and misunderstood of the world, wasps wouldn't be top of my personal list) which tried to convince us that wasps were good and a natural part of our world and actually a useful, pest killing addition to the garden.

Hmmm. I remain unconvinced. They are actually small packages of black and yellow evil sent from the bowels of hell. I am not their friend. They have previously eaten through the masonry of my house and shot up my shorts before stinging me on the backside (this particularly incident sent me fleeing from the room screaming with my pants round my ankles).

Anyway - there I was having my nice day out when the boys wanted to go round a crazy golf course. So I left the pushchair by the gate and off we went. We were gone for quite some time (the toddler loves crazy golf - really loves it. Unfortunately his love is mainly focused on fetching the balls out of the holes and then throwing them as hard as he can, normally into bushes. And he's not bothered whose ball he is taking out of whose hole.....The next Tiger Woods he ain't. More like the next Olympian shot putter).

Half an hour or so (and many apologies) later I returned to find that my pushchair - which was once red - was now sporting a black and yellow hood.

Oh dear god.

I had left it by the bin and, it appears, that large parts of the pushchair have spent the last couple of years marinating in a sticky combination of spilt drinks, apple ricecakes and bits of biscuit which offer an irresistible combo to the average wasp. Millions (well Ok, dozens) of the things were writhing around in a sea of ecstasy.

Forget those wasp traps you can buy from the shops - you just need my bloody pushchair.

This left me with something of a conundrum.

I stood there, holding one child and with another at my feet, staring at the pushchair, which I needed to put the ball-stealing toddler in asap, wondering how the HELL I was going to actually move my pushchair away from the bin and the wasps (what with there already being circa 50 odd wasps all around the handlebars) let alone get the wasps off the pushchair without getting stung?


I put the toddler down (cue much screeching) and start to whack at the wasps enthusiastically with my older son's lunch box. The lunch box was pretty ineffective as a wasp killer but very effective in terms of knocking the pushchair over backwards so it was lying with its wheels in the air and, of course, the handle area is still covered in wasps, so I can't pick it up again.

The next logical(ish) step was to change my weapon of choice and try and kill the wasps with something flexible. This meant taking off one of my flip flops.

So now I've got one howling toddler, one concerned older child, one pushchair on its back with its legs in the air, one shoe on and about 50 or so very angry wasps and I'm hoping around doing a kind of mad shoe waving dance, trying not to get stung yet get close enough to kill them.

People were staring.

People were muttering and pulling their children closer (probably whilst whispering 'isn't that the same lady who let her son's head get slammed in the door earlier? During the storm? Thought so......well it's doesn't surprise me, she's not even wearing a shoe on one foot.....STAY AWAY!').

Meanwhile, I still wasn't getting anywhere with regards to annhilating the wasps. As soon as one fell it was replaced by several more angry comrades from the bin.

In the end I figured I just had to get away from the bin, and the circling swarm and the staring nosey parkers (none of whom I note offered to help disperse the wasps) so I had no choice but to hold my head up high, grab the buggy by one of its (wasp free) wheels and march briskly off into the sunset, smiling bravely and shouting 'come along children, let's go and watch the ferret racing!' whilst dragging the upside down pushchair (and wasps) behind me.

Once out of sight I set about some highly enthusiastic flip-flop flapping and got rid of the plague.

I put my shoe back on and the toddler in the pushchair and the rest of the day went swimmingly.

Which was pretty fortunate really because, thinking about it, one near decapitation and attack of the killer swarm is enough for one afternoon, surely?

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Oh Calamity! Oh Catastrophe!

My father phoned me. Again.


I was.

Especially when he announced that 'everything was in ruins' and his day 'destroyed' and it was all my mother's fault.


I had visions of her burning the house down or crashing his car through the living room window or being caught eyeing up the window cleaner in an inappropriate manner (only their window cleaner is an old lady not disimilar to Big Mo off Eastenders. Mind you, stranger things have happened to friends of mine.....).

But no.

Apparently he has a glut of tomatoes and he wanted to make soup.

Errr, right.

And one of the ingredients was tomato puree AND (brace yourself - it's a biggy.....) IT WAS OUT OF STOCK.

Now when he says 'out of stock' he means there wasn't any in the kitchen cupboard. My mother does not actually run some kind of mini-supermarket complete with regularly deliveries and stock checking rota. She has merely used it all up and forgotten to pick up a new tube in Asda.

Apparently tomato puree is a 'basic F***ING staple' and it is 'UNBELIEVABLE' that 'she' had allowed it's absence to go un-noticed. It was a failure - and a total catastrophe which had 'ruined everything'.

Now as far as cataclysmic global events go, running out of tomato puree hardly ranks up there with Pompeii or the fall of Rome but according to my father it actually does.


My response?

I told him to use Ketchup.

He told me I was a 'f***ing idiot'.

I told him many of the top chefs do.

He told me they were all 'f***ing idiots'.

I told him I really didn't think the puree was that important to the final taste and a pinch of sugar, slug of balsamic vinegar and sprinkle of salt and he'd be away......

He told me it was 'too late for that - I've gone off the idea now'.


I sometimes wonder exactly how many 2 year olds I have in my life?

Monday, 17 August 2009

Hidden Messages

My father just called me which was a rare and shocking event in itself. He is one of those men of the generation that, as soon as they hear one of their children on the end of a telephone, say 'here's your mother' and pass you over before you can so much as enquire about the state of his big toe (my father has ongoing difficulties with his big toe - the last time I saw it it was a blackish shade of purple and being lanced twice a day. I've not dared look since).

Anyway the conversation went something like this:

Father: Thank you for my birthday card (his birthday was actually yesterday - apparently there are postal strikes, convenient really when you forget to post a card.....).

Daughter: No worries! Glad you liked it.

Father: Well at least I THINK it's from you.

Daughter: Sorry?

Father: Well I've received a card with a puffin on the front, a rather fat puffin, and I presume it's from you.

Daughter: Err?

Father: It's entirely blank.

Daughter: BLANK!?

Father: Yes it's addressed to me but when I open the card there's nothing inside it. Nothing at all.

Daughter: Oh. My. God

Father: I thought your mother was the one with the brain addled by drink. I mean I presume you did actually intend to, at the very least, sign it?

Daughter: Oh. My. God. There were so many birthday's last week (not to mention my own and one of my sons) but I DEFINITELY remember writing you a message.

Father: Well the card is blank.

Daughter: Well the message is somewhere because I remember writing it.

Oh. My. God. One of my friend's children must have a card with the unforgettable words 'To my father, stay off the scrumpy!' inscribed inside it.

Father: (turning to my mother) She's sent one of her friend's children a card with a message to me written inside it. About scrumpy.

Mother: Tell her not to worry. It's a jolly nice card and I've got an envelope that will fit so, as she's left it blank, I'll get to reuse it! I like puffins.....

Daughter: I'll expect to see it again next August then......

The next question I have is - what else have I done (or not done)?

Saturday, 15 August 2009

How (not) to make an Iggle Piggle Birthday Cake

1. Realise, somewhere around 24 hours before the party, that you haven't actually thought about the cake, let alone purchased any of the ingredients required to make it. Write a hasty list, throw both kids in the car and head to Tesco.

2. Start food shopping. The catch here is that both kids know there is a party coming and you are shopping for the aforementioned party and are therefore highly highly excited and behaving in a manner which can only be described as absolutely nucking futs and absolutley irritating.

3. Hit a major snag when the amount of food in the trolley reaches a height where it can be reached by the toddler. The toddler will then take great glee in grabbing the nearest cucumber, pack of cocktail sausages or in fact box of eggs and hurling them across the aisle at bemused passers by. By this point I'm actually starting to feel really panicky - I can't locate the Cocoa Powder or Baking Soda and there is a feeling of immense explosive pressure building inside my head which isn't alleviate when I have to stoop to pick up the battered cucumber for the 115th time.

4. Having located all the food items head for the booze aisle......

5. Older child then decides to copy his brother and picks up a maxi-size bottle of Lambrini (pure class) which he promptly drops. Drops from the height of approximately 5 foot directly onto my toe. Glass bottle impacts upon toe. Glass does not break as toe clearly able to absorb quite a large amount of force and disipate it through my body. Pain? PAIN? I screamed. And I mean SCREAMED. And then I cried. I stood there in the middle of the 'cheap dodgy booze' section of Tesco with 2 shocked looking children in my trolley (one holding a mauled cucumber, the other holding thin air where once had been a Lambrini bottle) and sobbed big fat tears and then (to my shame) shouted 'NOW LOOK WHAT YOU'VE DONE! YOU'VE HURT ME!'. People stared. People really stared. I gave them evil looks and told myself that it didn't matter if they all thought I was scum - I would (probably) never see them again. Hobble to check out.

6. Go home. Unpack. Decompress.

7. Decide you can't face any actual cake making until the children are in bed.

8. Put children to bed - go to make cake, realise you have no cake tins suitable and you've forgotten to borrow your friend's.

9. Go to friend's house. Spend half an hour telling her how crap your day's been. Bump into her mum. Spend half an hour repeating the story to her mum. Go home.

10. Circa 10pm start making cake. Decide it looks a bit meagre so double all the quantities. End up with so much cake mix that it's flowing out of the bowl. Get stuck in with the electric whisk only to note an alarming smell of electrical burning.... Turn of whisk and resort to a big long spoon.

11. Open the wine that's supposed to be for the party.

12. Open the Hula Hoops that are supposed to be for the party.

13. Cake goes in oven. Finish wine.

14. Cake comes out of oven. It's too hot to touch let alone ice.

15. Kill time by starting on Lambrini (desperate times and all that....) and a pack of salami even though you don't like salami and, yup, it's for the party.

16. Roll out icing.

17. Try to remove icing from board only to find it's well and truly welded to the board.

18. Hack it all of with a sharp knife and start again.

19. Repeat ad infinitum until you decide that sod it, the cake will just have to look patchy - you can stick Smarties over the worst bits.

20. Start trying to dye bits of icing to make a representation of Iggle Piggle.

21. Realise there is a reason people hire professional cake makers and pay them for what is actually a skill. A skill I haven't got.

22. Dye various parts of my body a mix of red, black and blue. Swear a lot.

23. In trying to dye a wodge of icing red, actually manage to create a rather too realistic sugar-model of a placenta and nobody wants a placenta on their birthday cake. Throw artificial placenta in bin and try not to think about it.

24. Realise that Iggle Piggle's entire body is beyond you, so settle for his disembodied head (but not his placenta).

25. Somewhere around 1am put the remaining Lambrini back in the fridge, and retire to bed.

26. Wake up 5 hours later with a stonking hangover and realise you have a party to host.......

Here he is and he looks, to me, as if he's been created sometime around midnight by someone with a very sore toe and a litre of Lambrini in their blood stream. Every picture tells a story:

Thursday, 13 August 2009

And now we are 2.....

So, in something like 33 minutes, my baby turns 2.


A very little figure on the screen but such a massive number. Well a massive number if you put it in the context of life experience.


You see, this is the thing with life. You sort of go along and you know what you know and don't think too much about what you don't, and you kind of hope you sort of know where you're going and then..... And then? KABOOM it may just all take a very different turn and before you know it you're lying staring at the polystyrene ceiling tiles of the local hospital, listening to the beeps that are keeping you alive and wondering where on earth your baby is.

Death really is the last taboo but however you imagine (or try not to imagine) it, you kind of don't really suspect that it will over take you at 2.30pm on a random rainy Tuesday afternoon.

In THEORY we all know that 'anything' could be around the corner. We say that we are so lucky for what we have and that we must be grateful for what we've got and that 'life is so fragile' but (and it's a big but) it is one thing to acknowledge these things - it is another to live the reality. If you live the reality (as some of you have) then you have to realise that it is Ok not to be brave some times. It is OK to say 'this bloody hurts' and it is Ok to have a damn good cry. It is OK to get angry and to get upset and to get pretty bloody pissed off about it all. I'm not sure if it's OK to stand in the middle of Tesco's and cry very hard - but I've done it, and I doubt I'm the first (or the last).

Because if we didn't feel it then we would be denying it and if we deny it then we don't really give it the magnitude it deserves. And if you touch death - if you touch it so closely that you can feel it and you feel like you know what it would be like to leave all this behind - then you also touch life. And if you touch life then you know that it is here for the living and for all the ghosts and shadows that haunt you, you will live it in a different way. A way which, eventually, is bigger, brighter and, in my humble opinion, richer.

It just kind of sucks when the day that brings it all home, in the sharpest aspect possible, is your little boy's birthday.

But I want this to be a celebration - a celebration that encompasses the very spirit of this blog (i.e. my life) in that, however hard it gets, there is still funny stuff in there and it all just knits together to form the tapestry of a truly wonderful life.

If you have hope and you have courage then you have a future.

So I ask you to raise a glass of whatever you've got to hand and be thankful for the good stuff, however hard it is to find. Tomorrow is one more day I nearly never had and it's a day I get to spend with the baby I nearly never got to hold (just remind me of that the next time he's throwing cucumbers at old men in Tesco and screeching DOWN DOWN DOWN......).

I love you son No. 2. You were nearly the end but in fact you were the very beginning.

(Sorry about all that - I think I needed a bit of therapy - normal service resumes shortly when I tell you what happens when a 4 year old drops a maxi-size bottle of Lambrini on your foot in the middle of Tesco...... best go now, I've got to ice an Iggle Piggle cake......).

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Hello, Hello, Hello

I found a folded-up hand written note in my front garden last week. Wondering if it was intended for me (and being downright nosy) I opened it up.

I'm not sure what I was expecting to find (a shopping list maybe? Someone's maths homework?) but I wasn't expecting to read a brief, yet finely detailed, story about 2 'women' called Kathy and June, one of whom possesses a 'silk-clad penis' (confused? I was) and who have an interesting line in repaying favours.

Dear me. I never was a fan of the word 'bulbous' but I'm even less so now.

I don't know where it came from, I don't WANT to know where it came from but I hope to hell it wasn't intended for my eyes.

That's just one excerpt from a very very odd week.

Hope you are all still out there. Sorry for the lack of posting for the last week - I am still here, I haven't been eaten by rats and I haven't been on holiday (boo hoo) but I have had, even by my standards, a 'very crazy week' and I think things are about to get even crazier but (hopefully) in a good way. I'm off to Somerset in a couple of hours and shall return some time next week to update you all with, I am sure, an array of incidents.

Adios - and rememer: be wary of women called Kathy or June who enjoy wear silk French Knickers and ask you for a favour.......... (well unless of course you enjoy that sort of thing.....).

Sunday, 2 August 2009

The Demise of Mrs Squirrel

As some of you will recall from previous postings, I have a very odd neighbour whom we have re-named 'Mr Squirrel' so I guess that makes his wife 'Mrs Squirrel'? Or perhaps it should be Mrs Rat?

Don't worry she's not deceased - far from it - but we no longer see her using her back garden.

You see she used to always be out there, planting things and fiddling with her rhubarb but since the 'Great Plague of Rats' she has been curiously absent - despite the fact that all the rats have long since been annihilated.

She is phobic of rats but surely a year or so of having no rats in the garden is long enough for even a true phobic to make a tentative return to the Arena of Former-Terror?

I think her life is so lacking in drama (she is, after all, married to Mr Squirrel) that she takes the smallest incident and blows into a kind of a terrifying cataclysm which threatens to finish us all of. Who needs the worry of Nuclear War or pandemic flu when you can focus on the will of small rodents to enter your garden?

After the Great Plague of Rats she kept calling round and pleading with me to secure my windows and doors with 'vermin proof mesh'. In the style of religious convert, she would proffer brochures selling green netting which, she suggested, I could put across all my doors and windows in order to stop the oncoming wave of vermin (fat lot of good that would have done - they were coming up through the floor...). 'I have seen the future and it looks furry - but if you take up this brochure and purchase you will SAVED! SAVED I CRY! And ye shall walk free amidst your vermin proof home forever more'.

Errr, thanks but no thanks.

Apart from the fact that it would look hideous (I don't want my entire house trussed up in mesh like some kind of out-sized bag of satsumas) - it would be highly impractical. If I put a screen of nylon mesh across the back door, all it would manage to capture would be my poor woolly-haired toddler who would no doubt end up thrashing around like a drag-netted tuna with me shrieking for help and trying to cut him free with a pair of kitchen scissors.

She didn't take my resistance well. In fact she gave me a scornful look and said 'well I suppose you are from the country' (the country is clearly full of the kind of people who use rat blood as aftershave and think that being gnawed to death by rodents is jolly good fun).

Having realised I truly wasn't going to order the netting she took to feeding me horror stories about rats and children and frequently reminding me that I was LEAVING MY BEDROOM WINDOW OPEN ON HOT EVENINGS and the rats (who remember, had WERE DEAD) could easily slip into my bedroom while I slept. Erm, yup, technically they could but I am yet to awake and find a dozen zombified rats swinging from my ear lobes..... (if I do, I promise I'll blog about it).

She then started to quiz me about my keeping of guinea pigs as if I would get them rehomed before they sent out a rallying cry to their distant cousins the rats and started up some kind of rat refugee camp in the garden.

Having realised that I was (once again) non-compliant with her wishes, she moved on to harassing other neighbours about potential rat magnets such as bird feeders, compost heaps, water butts (because rats love to do a good few lengths before work each morning?), piles of tyres and overgrown shrubs (why not go the whole hog and ask us to turn the entire street into a concrete waste-land daubed in rat glue with a helicopter gun-ship overhead just in case one gets through the defences?).

She even claimed that rats came to die in her driveway and she had discovered old corpses under her car. I don't know how true this is? If there is such a thing as a Rats' Graveyard I doubt it's beneath the chassis of a rusting red Escort in the driveway of a suburban terrace but who knows?

Anyway - all of this 'Rat Prevention Mania' was clearly not enough and she no longer ventures into the wasteland that has become her back garden (presumably Mr Squirrel is not up to the job of doing a bit of pruning? Actually thinking back to how long it took him to paint that fence he probably IS trying to sort the back garden out - just at the work-rate of one leaf a week....).

Of course it is possible that it's not the rats keeping her away and it's something entirely different which makes her reluctant to use her back lawn. On pondering this I had a horribly vivid recollection of the day a couple of summer ago when I leaned out of our bedroom window to shout at one of our guinea pigs.

You see we had a VERY fat guinea pig called Teddy and I could see her heading towards one of my flower beds (we used to let them out for a run around in the evening) so I shouted (at top volume): 'OI FATTY - LEAVE IT! YOU'RE FAT ENOUGH AS IT IS!'......only to see my (somewhat rotund) neighbour stand up from behind her fence, where she had been cooking on the barbeque.......... I went to go 'ohhhhh I didn't mean you!' but that just made it even more cringeworthy so I did what all brave heroes do and hid under the bed, praying she wouldn't come knocking or peering through the windows.

So maybe it isn't the rats after all?