Thursday, 26 February 2009

OK, where is Jeremy Beadle?

Yeah I know he is 'sadly deceased' but, jeesh, I was waiting for someone to pop out tonight and shout CANDID CAMERA!

I was teaching tonight - expected to deliver 2 hours of quality adult education, mirroring a model of relaxed, calm, empowering behaviour.... I should NOT have been running up and down a busy road waving my arms in the air and shouting at (alledged) gangsters to move their bloody cars 'or ELSE'.

The end of my day went something like this:

With 99 things to do in a very short space of time and needing EVERYTHING to go my way, my oldest son decided to crumble into a state of hysterical tears and then wet himself in my friend's living room (I mean gawd, I don't get my own way sometimes, but I don't feel the need to wee in my own pants. Maybe it will come with age? Perhaps I'll try it out in the Tesco? 'Open another till NOW or I'll wee on the floor!').

I managed to get him home and calm him down with a breadstick (it was for eating, not beating him with - although next time I might try it) he then dropped said breadstick. And it broke.

Big deal? Yeah BIG DEAL if you are 4 and have gone over the edge of all rationality. You think it matters that there are 99 other identical unbroken breadsticks in the packet? No. It doesn't matter. Not a jot. His breadstick is not those breadsticks and his breadstick is broken and this is a tragedy on a parr with the sinking of the Titanic. If you are 4 and very tired and have wet your pants.


Eventually everyone was in the bath and my OH was home and I had about 30 seconds to get out of the house and click into 'controlled professional mode'.

So I plucked the baby out of the bath, only to see?



So while I should be calmly packing the car, I am washing poo out of wind-up frogs.

Finally I'm in the car. And then I'm at the level crossing. The level crossing that bars the ONLY access to my venue.

45 minutes (yes, three-quarters of an hour) later - I am still at the level crossing. It appears somebody may have fallen asleep on the job.....

Thus I ended up running up and down the road, rounding up clients, waving my arms at illegally parked drivers (including the 'alleged' near-do-wells who drink in the pub opposite and all look like Ray Winstone) and then marshaling a strange procession of heavily pregnant women and heavily burdened men over the railway bridge and off into the countryside.

It was decided my balls were too much of a handful so we didn't give them an airing this week but all the same it must have been a strange sight - a man with a baby bath on his head containing 6 'lifelike' babies isn't a sight you tend to come across on your average twilight stroll.

We finally rolled in and I quickly arranged the room and broke into a spiel about the finer points of childbirth - only to realise that nobody was looking at me, they were all looking at the corner of the room....

I turned to find a man, dressed in black, wearing a hat, rocking slightly and humming along to classical music.

This was the point where I REALLY began to suspect I'd been 'set up'. Not least because, with the addition of a sickle, he'd have been the spit of The Grim Reaper.

He didn't look like he'd come to exercise his pelvic floor and talk about nappies.

'Excuse me sir, this is a private session'.

'I know'.

'Erm, could I ask you to leave'.

'In a minute'.

I'm thinking 'holy cow, now what do I do? I can hardly get into a brawl with an old guy listening to classical music - it's hardly becoming, is it? But what if things get really 'heavy'? I can hardly call 999 and tell them I've got a man who looks like 'death' sitting in the corner of my class and humming along to the Moonlight Sonata and I need to get on and talk about vaginas....

Thankfully, he finished his humming, got up and left.

Maybe he was just hoping to get a look at my balls?

Anyway I'm home now. And going to bed before I fall into a disused mine or bump into Elvis on the stairs.....

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

You don't have to be mad to work there BUT....

For those of you that don't know, I haven't always been this sane. I'm always happy to talk about my mental health adventures because hey, if it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone (or, erm, maybe not) - even if it does mean that I tend to get referred to as 'you know, the one who went nuts and got locked up in the loony-bin!'.

Yes - I am 'that one'.

As you've probably gathered by now, I don't tend to do anything by halves and when I had my second son I decided to do it with a great big bang and shot out a 10lb+ baby in my kitchen, followed it up with a spectacular 8 pint blood loss and a bolt down the road on a stretcher, walked through the valley of death and (thankfully) emerged from the other side (even if I wasn't exactly walking by this point, more like lying very still attached to a lot of machines that go ping).

Anyway a few weeks later I followed it up with, what they used to call a 'nervous breakdown' (i.e. I went proper-batshit-crazy and had to go and live in a mental hospital for 6 weeks). When I emerged from 'The Unit' I was told that I would need some pretty intensive counselling type stuff to help me come to terms with what had happened.

18 months later (yes - that is a YEAR AND A HALF) a random letter appears in the post telling me I need to go to a clinic, an hours drive away, where they will do something with my eyes to try and put the two sides of my brain back together and stop me bursting into tears every time I see an ambulance or collapsing in hysterical grief when I stub my toe (all signs, apparently, that 'something had gone wrong').

So off I went today and the lady I saw was marvellous and hopefully she can do a lot with me and my brain with her special eye moving technique jobby (this is not New Scientist so I'll leave the technical stuff out).

HOWEVER, this trip back into the 'World of Mental Health' was a timely reminder of just how nuts it all is. And I don't mean the patients. Seriously - the patients tend to be sanest things in the building.

On arrival I found myself corralled into a sort of 'holding area' and it was 'flashback city' for me.

Buttons and buzzers and intercoms on every door (you can never get in, let alone get out again), CCTV a go-go, same old posters reminding you how many billions of germs are all over your hands and asking you to please refrain from attempting to kill the staff - however frustrating you find the door systems.

And the magazines. Oh god, the magazines! I have never read so many out-of-date celebrity magazines as I did when I was incarcerated in 'The Unit'. You could follow the rise and fall of Kerry Katona in one easy sitting.

Anyway the magazines in today's place made the magazines at 'The Unit' look like the British Library. Jeez. They had four. Yes FOUR.

One was a National Trust magazine. What!?

'Hello, feeling suicidal? Can't go on? Floored with anxiety and dark visions? Well how about you have a nice sit down and flick through a pictorial of Woburn Abbey? The tapesteries are just orgasmic aren't they? Or maybe you'd prefer to read about saving the Red Squirrel in the Lake District? No, please put the magazine down... haven't you read our poster on being nice to the staff?.

One was a Cross Stitch magazine. The would be cross STITCH. Yes, stitch as in you need to do with a very big needle. A very big sharp needle.

Now bearing in mind these places confiscate your phone charger in case you try to hang yourself with it (erm, have you seen how wide my neck is?) and won't let you use a tin opener (it makes communal cooking SUCH fun - you have to summon someone with a special key to find the tin opener, only they have always lost the key. Your sweetcorn and tuna medley is DOOMED) - it strikes me as 'somewhat unlikely' that they would encourage cross stitch as a hobby. What cruel torture.

One was in Spanish. Handy!

And the fourth was a celebrity magazine announcing that Angelina Jolie was expecting twins. Perhaps these magazines are designed to unsettle you? Have I really been here for the last 2 years or was it all a dream? Is this the 'now' or just a flashback? Feeling sane when you came in? Well, you won't be for long......

With nothing to read my mind picked up on the conversation being had by the two receptionists who were clearly of the belief that I was not just mad, but also 'not really there' and probably deaf and stupid into the bargain. I'll call them Pat and Sue. Pat and Sue - be more careful - the state of your magazine selection meant you had my full concentration. You dozy pair of twonks:

Pat: You feeling better today?

Sue: Yeah, a bit, yesterday was terrible. I hate Mondays. I always feel suicidal. SUICIDAL I tell you! It was awful, I went straight home and ate half a box of chocolates.
Pat: You poor thing.

Sue: Yeah, it worked though
(note to Sue: perhaps you wouldn't mind sharing your miracle cure for suicidal depression with the patients? I'm sure they would be grateful to hear that all it will take to lift them from their dark eternity, is half a box of Mingles..... Christ - no wonder they need the 'don't attack the staff' posters).

Sue: (to a young woman standing by the door, looking very distressed) Are you a nurse?

Young woman: No I'm a patient, can you let me in.

(not letting her in) Yeah I was so tired, SO tired, I hate Mondays.

You poor thing.

Young woman:
Can you let me in?


Young woman:

There's no need to be like that!
(Sue opens the door)

That reminds me, I went to the loo earlier!


It's cleared. Took a while mind you!


I started moving around in my seat and making small noises. I wanted to hear absolutely NOTHING more about Sue's 'loo visit'.

At about this time another patient appeared in the 'holding pen'. He'd come down from upstairs and just stood looking at the magazines for a while before stopping and looking at me instead. (glad to hear I'm more interesting than stately homes).

After a while he gave me a seductive smile and said 'do you come here every week?'.

Well it's a long time since a random man tried to crack on to me. Clearly he was mad.

'No' I said (even if I do, I don't want him thinking he's got a regular date). On hearing this he grabbed the magazines (all of them) and ran back upstairs.

No doubt he's now trying to work out if it's 2009 or 2007 whilst doing a cross stitch of Woburn Abbey.

With his teeth.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Barking Mad

I spoke to my mother today and she informs me that she's in the dog house for shredding the new tax disc.

Yes, that's right. She picked up the sheet of paper enclosing the brand new tax disc for the car and decided that the correct thing to do with it was insert it into the shredder and diminish it to 500 threads of worthless scrap paper suitable only as hamster bedding.

Well, it makes me feel slightly better about my failings - but perhaps this is what awaits me?

I don't really know when the madness that surrounds me started - it just seems to have always been there. I know I rolled off a kitchen worktop and broke my skull when I was a baby - maybe that started it? A portal into a parallel universe where all is not quite as it should be - life carries on in the way that many lives carry on but with surreal touches and strange interludes.

I think things took a turn for the worse when I was about 17 and took an overdose of dog hormone tablets. An accidental overdose I hasten to add. I might have been to the edges of my sanity over the last few years but I've never reached the point of turning to dog drugs. Yet.

It happened something like this.

On a Friday night we used to go out in the local town, blagging a lift and fake ID from my friend's older sister (well until I was sick in the back of her soft-top XR3i and tried to cover it up with a bottle of Exclamation! body spray but that's a whole different story) and then I would sleep at my friend's house for the night.

This friend had a dog and the dog had a problem. Well it had two problems. Firstly it kept humping everyone (and it was a female dog so shouldn't have been on top) and secondly it kept having phantom pregnancies. On one occasion it stole my pants from my weekend bag and tried to suckle them. Oh how everyone laughed (except for me - who was beyond mortified that my pants were being paraded through the family kitchen in front of my friend's dad and all his mates). Anyway, the dog was spayed but it still didn't stop pretending to give birth and breastfeed socks so it was put on a course of hormone tablets.

Around the same time I fell off a bollard I was attempting to leapfrog over and injured my shoulder - so I was on painkillers.

I came back to my friends house after a night supping Diamond White and Mad Dog 20/20 (shudder) and my shoulder was really throbbing so I took a good dose of my tablets and crashed out.....

Next morning I woke to hear my friend's mother demanding to know who exactly had had the dog's hormone tablets out of the cupboard and why were they all over the table and, actually, why were several day's worth missing?

Everybody looked at eachother.

Everybody turned and looked at me.

I turned around and looked for some body else who could have possibly mixed up their medication and taken several tablets intended for a hormonally disturbed dog....

There wasn't anybody else.

My friend's mum tutted and shook her head and told me that I really did need to be more careful before leaving the scene to hang out her washing.

Everybody else fell about laughing.

I felt vaguely sick but didn't know if that was the Mad Dog or the pills for the Mad Dog (boom boom). I toyed with the idea of seeking medical attention but really didn't fancy having that little episode recorded for all enternity on my medical notes - and besides, surely hormones are hormones? Whether they're for dogs or not?

Of course, everybody heard about it. For the next 6 months people kept coming up to me in pubs and asking me if I'd had puppies yet. Oh and telling me to write a book. Which they haven't stopped asking since.

I'm working on it. When I'm not breastfeeding socks....;).

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

The Mystery of Mystery Shopping

OK so a few of my friends do 'mystery shopping' for market research companies. This entails pretending to be a 'normal customer' and then going to the designated shop, pub, hotel whatever and spending some money while taking note of every tiny details (you know, like mannequins with their legs protruding across walkways or size 8 vests on size 16 hangers.... Not that I'm bitter or anything). You then report back to the market research company.

Brilliant I thought - free stuff is just what I need right now!

So I did some research and signed up to one of the bigger organisations. To do this I had to fill in a LOT of forms all about my personal information, lifestyle, habits etc. so they could paint a precise 'picture' of me and make sure I was assigned totally relevant work.

I then had to sit an on-line test.

To be fair, I've sat harder. I think the 'What type of friend are you!?' quizzes in the back of Cosmo would be harder.

The questions went something like this:

1. You are setting off to do your mystery shop in Bon Marche (a shop that I must be frank, is a mystery to me. The mystery being, how is it still operating?). Remember! You need to be MYSTERIOUS and not draw attention to yourself. You must fit in with the clientele. You must be ONE OF THEM. Do you wear:

a) a polyester peach jacket over a a shapeless floral skirt, cut on the calf, teaming it with the comfortable shoes you got from the ads at the back of the Mail on Sunday or
b) wet look skinny jeans, 6 inch stilettos and your Playboy Bunny bustier?

2. You need to fill in your report about the shop. Remember, once again, you need to be MYSTERIOUS! Do you:

a) fill it in as soon as you get home or
b) fill it in while sitting on the shop floor while asking the manager for a pen and if he thinks 'Mystery Shopping' should have capital letters?

3. Your report needs to give specific information about problems. Whilst on the job you notice that a shop has no staff at the tills, do you write:

a) There were no staff at the tills or
b) The shop was crap?

Congratulations! By answering (a) to all of the above questions you have proved to us that you meet our incredibly high standards and have what it takes to occupy one of the LIMITED positions within our dedicated team of Mystery Shoppers! We can now assign you carefully selected work that fits your demographic.

There were then lots of dire warnings about how if I ever spoke about my very mysterious job to ANYBODY it would undermine the entire retail sector and have dire implications for the economy.


Anyway, the point is - after all this rigmarole I get two emails a day from a mysterious woman at this mysterious company and I have still not been offered a job I could actually go on or am even vaguely suited to.

Examples include (I've cut out the waffle but this is the crunch of what they say):

URGENT: We need to someone to go down to the Ford garage THIS AFTERNOON and pretend they want to buy a transit van. You will need to have a good knowledge of the inside of vans, be aged over 40 and MUST BE MALE.

VERY URGENT: Will you be visiting Tesco's on the ISLE OF MAN in the next 2 days? If so we are willing to provide you with a £5 voucher to enable you to buy a packet of sandwiches and a soft drink. TRAVEL EXPENSES WILL NOT BE PAID.

ULTRA URGENT: Are you power tool crazy!? If so, get down to Wickes in the next 2 hours and ask a series of very complicated questions about your plumbing. You will need to appear as if you work in the building trade. MUST BE MALE. Voucher provided for free plunger.

OK so let me get this right, having spent the best part of an afternoon filling in forms so that the market research company can pinpoint my demographics EXACTLY, it would appear that they have concluded that I'm a 40-something year old bloke who is intimately acquainted with the back of a van, has a problem with his plumbing and lives on the Isle of Man.

Having said that, I wouldn't say no to the plunger. It would save the whole 't-shirt down the u-bend' scenario happening again.

Where's my £20 trip to River Island? It's a mystery.

Mind you if anyone is looking for someone to do some serious ball research, I'm your woman.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Balls of a Meaty Nature

Oh yes - another post about balls. But meatballs this time.

Let me explain.

I get quite a few comments about this blog from women who have young/youngish children and they are usually along the lines of 'you make us feel normal' or 'you make us feel better' (I kind of take this as 'how ever much of a pig's ear we think we are making of it, hey, it's nothing like the chaos of your life, phew!') or 'it's so reassuring, you know, to hear I'm not the only one!'.

I sometimes wonder why other mother's don't realise that everyone is making it up as they go along and however organised and fastidious they are (and I'm neither of those things) having kids means that, sometimes, things will just turn to custard. However hard you to try to control it - chaos will sometimes just erupt out of nowhere and that is just the way it is. These days there is a ridiculous amount of pressure to do it all 'perfectly'. To feed your kids the perfect diet, to manage their behaviour in a way that ticks every box in the latest 'must-have' parenting book, to stimulate them in an educational way for hours everday. I look back at the way it was back in the 70's (when I was born) and we all seemed to run around the garden naked swigging Ribena and eating Custard Creams - occasionally popping inside to be hypnotised by children's TV programmes written by people who had taken too much Acid (or maybe that was just my childhood?). My mum would find one thing we'd eat and give it to us EVERY day for tea, until the sight of it made us vomit - and her idea of a successful day was getting to 6pm without opening the wine. Anyway - it wasn't bad! My mum was a very good mum!

Sometimes we try too hard and you know what, sometimes it's just not worth it.

To illustrate this point lets take today:

Today I decided to give my children meatballs for lunch. Now if you are going to give a child meatballs for lunch you have 3 main choices:

1. Go to Ikea.

2. Go to the supermarket, buy a packet of meatballs (you can buy organic ones made from happy-cows if you so wish), put the oven on, put meatballs in oven, take them out and put them on a plate, serve them, children eat them happily, the end.


3. Have an attack of the guilts that everybody else's child has a better diet than yours and you are slovenly wreck of a slut (in the old fashioned sense of the word) too busy blogging, laughing at their neighbour's getting humped by large dogs and opening the eyes of Virgin Engineers to whole new worlds...... Thus you decide to make meatballs and save your children from whatever fate awaits children who don't get homemade meatballs (I'm not sure what this, but no doubt The Daily Mail will think of something).

Making meatballs is not hard. Unless you have two very lively children under the age of 5 who take advantage of you being up to your elbows in raw meat and milk the opportunity for all it is worth.

It goes something like this:

First you have to get the mince and crush it all up in your hands to mush it up and make it pliable. I hate doing this - it makes me feel sick. See how I suffer for my kids?

Then you have to shape your balls. Mine kept turning out too big so I kept having to chop them in half and redo them (nobody wants a plateful of mammoth balls they can't get in their mouth).

Whilst doing this, you realise the baby has gone very quiet so turn around and see he's given up waiting for balls and has managed to open the freezer door and is busily scooping out the icy snow like substance that is filling most of the top shelf (does this mean it needs defrosting? When am I supposed to do that?) into his mouth. 'Arrrrghhhh' you groan and push him away with your foot (remember - you can't use your hands - they are coated in raw flesh). 'Waaaaaaaa' he cries - furious that he won't get to experience the delights of frostbite first hand.

He then spots the bananas in the fruit bowl. 'NANA NANA NANA' he starts up. 'NO' you say - all strict-mother-who-will-follow-through-with-her-promises. 'You will have to wait'. 'NANA NANAAAAAAAA' he yells. 'I said NO' you say. He starts to scream - like a sort of roaring war cry. You can not listen to that - not for another second - so you carefully wash your hands and peel him a bloody banana.

He goes off into the front room with it (no doubt to grind it into the carpet or insert into the DVD player).

You go back to ball shaping.

2 minutes later you hear Son No. 1 telling the baby: 'Look what you need to do to get more power in the TV is get this cable with the metal bit sticking out of the end and stick it in HERE - look like THIS!'.

The 'oh my god the kid's are going to kills themselves' radar picks up and you run into the living room, leaving a trail of raw meat sprinkles behind you, to see that Son No. 1 has found some random cable behind the TV (I think it's a sort of aerial from the pre-cable television days) and is carefully trying to insert it into a small hole on the front of TV.

I have no idea why he decided this was a good idea. I mean the kid is safety mad. His favourite bedtime story is Network Rail's pamphlet about safety around railways - particularly the section on the dangers of electrocution and being killed by cables.

Anyway, you find yourself screaming NOOOOOO and meaty-hands and all throwing yourself across the cable/child/baby/TV and making the children cry.

A strict talking to later, you are back at the balls.

1 minute later: 'mummy I need a wee - NOW!'.

'Well off you go then!'.

'No - I can't do it, it's too near the end of my willy, you have to help me!'.

'I can't help you, I'm covered in raw meat! Do you hear me RAW MEAT! GERMS!'.

'But I can't do it - my arms are too tired'.


'But why?'.



Off he goes upstairs.

10 seconds later he lets rip a hideous cry:


You run upstairs, fast.

It turns out that he didn't have gangrene - he had new dark grey pants on and the colour and some dark fluff had transferred itself onto his genitals. So you are back to washing your hands, again and dealing with the 'problem'.....and then back to shaping your balls.

About an hour later the balls are finally on the table.

And do you think they are greeted with cries of 'oh mummy, you are the greatest! Thank you SO much for your amazing efforts you have put in. We SO appreciate it!'.


They are greeted with cries of 'Oh mummy, why aren't these balls like the ones in Ikea? I don't like them!'.

Can you hear me screaming!?

Annabel Bloody Karmel never says anything in her books about cooking whilst dealing with babies in freezers, potential electrocution and black willies.

Do you feel better now? ;)

Monday, 16 February 2009

Mr Squirrel

My OH has a very annoying habit of always making up nicknames for people - and then continually using them.

For example, we bought our house from a very nice couple called Mr and Mrs Luther. Only I didn't know they were called Mr and Mrs Luther because my OH only ever referred to them as Mr and Mrs Lucifer - Lucifer as in the devil. So I went around merrily calling them this until the day we moved into the house and Mr Lucifer himself ushered me in as he was removing the last boxes from the front garden. 'I'm sure you will be very happy here!' he exclaimed. 'Thank you Mr Lucifer!' I replied. 'The name is Luther' he corrected me.


This 'habit' is even more irritating now we have children because children see things in a very black and white fashion and if someone is 'called' something then that is that. So I will confess to feeling slightly anxious when my OH started to call one of our neighbours 'Mr Squirrel'. Mr Squirrel is a trifle odd. He once spent an entire summer painting a 70ft long fence with a brush the size of a child's toothbrush. Progress occurred at the rate of around 5 cm a day and about twice a day his wife would come out and yell at him to hurry up. When he wasn't painting the fence, he was collecting slugs in a bucket and then carrying them down the road and over to the local nature reserve. I mean most people go for an evening stroll with their dog, but no, he took a bucket of slugs.......Says rather a lot I think.

However, the actual reason he was named Mr Squirrel is because he scurries up and down the back lawn in a very furtive manner, usually wearing a string vest, and stashing things in his special shed (they have two sheds - a normal one, and 'his' shed. I don't know what's in it. I don't know if I want to know). My son loved to watch him from the upstairs window and one day my OH joined him and Mr Squirrel was 'born'. Ever since then I've had to drag my oldest son past Mr Squirrel very very fast every time we see him (which is in fact, most days) to protect him from the cries of: 'Oh look mummy! It's Mr Squirrel! The secret man from next door!'.

Things took an interesting turn today when we saw Mr Squirrel getting into his car (wearing his leather driving gloves and flat cap, of course).

Son 1: 'Oh look mummy, Mr Squirrel!'.
Me: 'Yes, now come along please'.
Son 1: 'When I was at school we had a story about squirrels'.
Me: 'Oh yes, how lovely'.
Son 1: 'Yes and I told my teacher that my daddy calls the man next door Mr Squirrel'.
Me: 'Oh. Did you??' (my heartbeat begins to increase and I feel my hands go clammy).
Son 1: 'Yes and my teacher said was that his name? And I said, oh no, it's because Mr Squirrel loves putting his nuts in his secret shed'.

Luckily, it's Half-Term.

Luckily, for my OH, he's at work.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

To My Followers

Wow - this blog only started at the end of last year and already I have been absolutely overwhelmed by comments, emails and remarks made by people about how much they are enjoying reading it.

Thank you so much - I really do appreciate every single one of them and it is a real pleasure to be able to brighten people's days up. I do get faintly embarrassed when people say nice things - but it's a lovely feeling.

Occasionally people confess to me, almost guiltily, that they read my blog or have recommended it to a friend and ask 'do you mind?'. Of course I don't mind! I know I write about my flaws and embarrassing situations but if they are 'on here' I've deemed them fit for public viewing (makes you wonder what I deem 'unfit' doesn't it!?).

I take it as an absolute honour and a privilege that people take the time to read this and I love it when new people appear on my 'Followers' sidebar.

So THANK YOU! And the more the merrier - here's hoping the rest of 2009 carries on a similarly crazy fashion (which juding on the previous years which make up my lifetime, is pretty much guaranteed!).

'Yes My Name is Iggle Piggle'...

Son no. 2 is obsessed with Iggle Piggle. If you have escaped Iggle Piggle and his slightly camp dancing then I can inform you that he is a bright blue figure from the children's TV show 'In the Night Garden' - a show which makes the Clangers appear positively sane and speaking the Queen's Own English. Anyway - the sight of Iggle Piggle (or IP as I shall henceforth refer to him) sends him into a frenzy of delight and stops him crying, so we tend to see a lot of him.

I've picked up an awful habit from my mother of singing very loudly at random moments, usually in a totally inappropriate operatic tone (my mum used to shimmy across the kitchen singing the Spice Girls' 'if you want to be my lover - zig a zig AAAAAAAAA' in the style of a female Pavarotti). So it was last week that I found myself on the doorstep, trying to move the buggy out of the door backwards, singing very very loudly in a strangely posh voice:


(I really held that last note).

I nearly jumped clean out of my skin when I heard:

'Is it alright if I pop in and read your meter love?' and there, standing directly behind me, was the electricity meter man.


Well at least he didn't refer to me as Iggle Piggle. Maybe it will appear on my next bill?

Let's hope he doesn't talk to the Virgin Engineer Man or not only will I not receive many callers but I'll probably also find the men in white coats back on the phone asking if I may have stopped my medication a little to soon.

Before I leave the subject of IP, I'm planning on making an IP cake for Son no. 2's birthday - which isn't until August but hey, I like to plan ahead (and then generally do sweet FA about it) - mainly because it stops me from getting on with what actually needs to be done today.

In order to waste time, sorry 'plan effectively', I decided to search the Net for inspiration and there are some amazing cakes out there. I could never manage this but it's an excellent likeness and shows a huge amount of talent (and rather too much time on one's hands she says in a fit of jealous seething):

My cake will look nothing like that, I can assure you. There is more chance of it looking like the poor chap below. Apologies to whoever made this but it makes me laugh every time I look at it. The way the blue icing has been thrown on in what looks like a fit of rage, the way the number 2 is thrust through his heart and the fact that there is a large knife left only millimeters from IP's head all comes together to make me thing it was not the most positive cooking experience of your life? As my OH said 'it looks like he's just thrown himself off the top of a very tall building'. Maybe he heard my singing.....

I will of course post a picture of my own attempt in August. You had better brace yourselves for a jolly good laugh and for the pic above to go up in your estimation considerably.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Happy Easter!

Yes slightly premature I know but it appears the shops are already bulging with walls of chocolate eggs so my mind has turned to Easter and spring and the joy of new life cracking forth from eggs. Which in turn, brings my mind back to my childhood and my mum's chickens (or 'fowls' as my granny calls them).

My mother keeps a number of fowls and as children they were our pets. I actually used to carry round an armful of cocks (boom boom) and they ALL had names (although I can assure you, none of them were called Ralph - which you will only 'get' if you've read Judy Blume's 'Forever'). Who on earth calls their penis Ralph? If you know a man who has (or in fact are a man who has), then please, write in - I'm eager to hear from you (I think).

Anyway I had no Ralphs but I had a lot of others. Some names were, I admit, more imaginative than others. My favourite was Ficus Benjamina, which is Latin for 'Weeping Fig' - so named because it got sick and had to be kept in a box next to a plant of the same name. Or Fireball - named after a song we had to sing in Drama at school about the onset of a nuclear holocaust. Clearly it must have made a deep impression on my young mind for me to name a chicken after it. If you don't know it, and I am willing to believe that it was not popular in the majority of schools, it goes something like:

'Fireball, burning in the sky, building every higher, are we gonna die? ARE WE GONNA DIE!?'.

What the hell is wrong with 10 Green Bottles I really don't know.

Then there was a whole raft of fowls named after TV/film characters. We had Dot and Ethel (after the two old birds on Eastenders), Bill and Ted etc etc.

And then, well then there were the unfortunates who were merely named for the physical attributes. For example:
  • Chunky (who was, surprise surprise - a bit chunky)
  • The Beautiful One (guess what? She was beautiful!)
  • The Runt (who was, erm, small)
  • Peahead (who had a small, pea-like head)
  • The Pale One (who was pale - and got hit and killed by a car, prompting me to write a very maudlin poem called 'Ode to the Pale One'. No, I don't still have it but I think it started something like 'I saw your body, pale, lying on the road. Time froze, my grief rose'. I don't think it was up there with Byron or Shelley but it helped me with my grief. I seem to remember long hours sat in my bedroom listening to Guns 'n' Roses 'November Rain' and crying over the chicken's demise. I'm not sure Axel Rose was writing about a dead hen but it certainly expressed my mood)
  • Turkey Features (guess what! She looked a bit like a turkey!);
  • and best of all 'Non-Descript - who had no outstanding features whatsoever and was rather dull as a consequence.

So when we had a baby cockerel who cracked out of his egg on Easter day, what did we call him?

Yes, Jesus.

You have to remember we were only children and my mother had clearly given up trying to rein in the chicken names by this point. Which is probably why, when we had a small group of young cockerels (cockerels are male chickens if you don't know a lot about fowls - which I've been shocked to discover, many people don't) who all started having rampant sex with eachother (and the cat) my brother and I named them 'The Gays'.

And so came the fateful day when the Vicar's Wife came round to deliver the Parish newsletter and my mother invited her in for a quick chat. Que a small girl (i.e. me) running in to the Living Room shouting 'Mum! Mum! Come quick! The Gays are in the garden and they're trying to have sex with Jesus! You need to get the broom!'.

Oh. Dear.

To say a look of great bemusement crossed the Vicar's wife's face would be something of an understatement.

My poor mum knocked back her tea and said 'oh don't worry, Jesus is a cockerel!'.

Because that really explains it all doesn't it?

I'm sure the Vicar's Wife would have loved to have asked who/what 'The Gays' were but I'm guessing she was afraid to ask.

Needless to say, we weren't invited to her Summer Garden Party.

Gawd, it must have been a laugh a minute mothering me.

So on that note, have a Happy Easter but be very careful how you let your children name your pets.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Daytime

Ok today has been bizarre, even by my standards. And all before 9am.

I was getting dressed this morning when I heard a strange mournful cry coming from outside the front of the house. I took a look and was more than a little shocked to see my pensioner neighbour holding a Jack Russell above her head while a very very large and obviously male dog (a similar colour to a lion and not a lot smaller) mounted her, somewhat enthusiastically.

'He's after my Jill!' she was crying (I don't think that was all he was after love) as she held the Jack Russell aloft. But for all the cries of 'get off! get off!' the big dog kept on coming (by that I mean, jumping up....).

I felt I should help somehow but all the upstairs windows have child locks on and I wasn't wearing any trousers - so I just banged on the window and mouthed my support (marvellous in a crisis I am).

A man crossed the road and managed to move the neighbour to safety and the dog took off up and down the road, ripping at people's rubbish bags and stopping for a poo outside the pub.

People were starting to gather, everyone was looking at each other accusingly as if it to say 'if that's your dog then your in big trouble'. But it was no-one's dog. Someone called the RSPCA. Someone claimed the dog was Turkish (I have no idea on what evidence this was based - maybe they'd seen it stop off at the kebab shop for a lamb kofta and portion of stuffed vine leaves). Someone else said they knew which dog it was - the one that howls all night - and they were glad 'something was being done about it at last' (erm, as far as I could see nothing was being 'done' other than the dog was running up and down the road frightening old ladies and spraying piss around the place. How does that help with the howling?). Someone else kept saying 'ohhh but he's a lovely dog, really lovely!' (presumably she hasnt' been pinned underneath him with his hot breath on her neck?). An old man in wellies and a waxed jacket kept shaking his head and muttering about 'people today' (I guess prior to the 1960's they didnt' have stray dogs?).

Some bright spark appeared with a packet of bacon (I think a large rope and stick might have been more useful) and tried to tempt the dog across the road - only for the dog to nearly take his arm off and make off with the bacon. What then ensued was like something from a Benny Hill sketch with neighbours, commuters and a group of Highway Agency workmen chasing the dog up and down the street with very little progress being made, other than the dog occasionally stopping to piss on people's bin bags. Everybody seemed keen to chase it but nobody appeared to want to actually catch it.

I was about to go back to getting dressed when I heard a blood curdling scream and realised that another neighbour (the one who is scared of just about everything - especially dogs) had just walked round the corner, only for the dog to rear up in front of her like an effigy from her very worst nightmares, mount her from behind and enthusiastically start humping away. The image of her (trying) to run down the pavement with a lion-size dog on her back and a group of workmen in High-Vis jackets jabbing away with sections of the road block, was certainly diverting. I won't be forgetting it for a long time.

Eventually somebody did appear with a rope (bravo!) and the dog was lead away behind Dave's Shop. Where it is now I have no idea - Dave's probably got it wearing a baseball cap and guarding the pick and mix. Actually I should imagine the dog is called Dave. I shall listen out for the howling and let you know.

Monday, 9 February 2009


We only have one toilet in our house and a pretty rubbish toilet it is at that. As anybody who has had the honour of visiting me and using it will tell you, you have to pump the handle very hard and very fast to even get it to flush. I've lost count of the amount of visitors I've 'lost' up there. They go for a wee and 20 minutes later I can still here them frantically pumping and muttering under their breath.... Well at least I hope they are just trying to flush the toilet.... For the record - it's fine - your wee doesn't scare me. Just ask for help.

Anyway the toilet is pants and even when it does flush it has a nasty habit of getting blocked. Very blocked. This means it needs to be unblocked and, somehow, the job always falls to me. My OH usually runs very fast in the opposite direction muttering 'it's beyond all need to call a plumber' knowing that I can not be beaten by a toilet and will therefore fix it for him.

I used to use the toilet brush and just ram it down the u-bend and pump very hard and fast (god, there's a lot of pumping going on in this post) and that would usually do it. Then I got sick of the kids trying to paint the loo with the brush so I got rid of it and replaced it with one of those Toilet Duck plastic sticks with 'teeth' on the end that you use to grip a disposable cleaning pad.

Very posh. Very bloody useless at unblocking toilets.

So next time the toilet got blocked I stared down at the bare and barren plastic stick and realised I would need to improvise. I needed a large cloth the teeth could grip and I could use to create a vacuum. I looked around and my eyes fell upon the baby's comfort blanket....... Now before anybody calls Childline on his behalf - his comfort blanket is just a muslin cloth and he's got about 40 (or 39 now) so I didn't think it would damage him beyond all hope. And it worked a treat! Until he appeared at the toilet door and saw me ramming his (now poo covered) favourite blanket up and down the u-bend of the toilet.

"Ah ah ah ah" he sobbed.

"NO NO NO NO" I shouted - pushing him backwards with my foot as he reached for his beloved.


"NOOOOO" I screeched, actually pushing him backwards out of the room and locking the door.

A lot of tears, an Asda bag and a quick lob out the window later it was over - the toilet was clear, I was clean and the baby was (slightly) less traumatised.

So the next time it happened I thought twice before using his comfort blanket and reached for one of my OH's old t-shirts instead.

This also worked a treat until the t-shirt became jammed down the u-bend and snapped off the end of the stick.....

So I now had a toilet full to the brim with brown water and a large t-shirt jammed down the u-bend. Oh and no rubber gloves.....

Now would anybody like a cup of tea?

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Opening the Request Line with yet more Balls

I've started to have a few requests to re-tell tales from days gone by - classics that have stuck in people's memories so I am now opening the official 'Request Line' and if you have a story you would like me to share with the rest of the cyber-universe then please, go ahead and ask. I will do my best!

As today has been incident free (well to be fair, I haven't gone outside yet) I thought I would fulfill the request of a family member and re-tell a tale involving my father's left testicle. The other choice was a request from a friend about an incident involving varicose veins and my bum - but I need to leave that until I've had a few drinks and sadly, there is no wine in the house.

Here goes:

My father is a VERY large man. Think large on the scale of the sort of blokes you usually see on Britain's Strongest Man, humping lorry parts along the sea-front at Minehead or picking up small children with his teeth (actually my dad does that too - but I digress). Because of this he needs very large trousers from special shops with names like 'The Big and Tall Man's Shop' . One of his favourites is a shop called Osbornes. The best thing about Osbornes is the catalogue - when my brother and I were little we would pounce on it with eager delight and then laugh until our jumpers were soaked with hot tears because the pictures and the models were that bad.

Now I haven't seen the catalogue in years but I'm pleased to say that Osbornes have moved with the times had now have a website. I just had a quick peak and, although the majority of pics are now far more professional, there are still some gems to be found.

The shop is based in the small seaside town of Beer so, here it is, my very own run-down of 'Beer's Next Top Model':

In 6th place we have 'Surfs Up!' - just about the most unlikely candidate you will ever see atop a board and riding the waves:

In 5th place we have Beer's idea of 'representing Ethnic Minorities'. Clearly unable to find anybody anything other than white, they have resorted to using a sort of legless torso akin to the kind of thing you usually see on 'Waking the Dead':

In 4th place we have this cheeky chappy who is clearly just begging for you to go upstairs with him and share his juice:

In 3rd place we have 'Nice Cup of Tea'. What I love about this shot (other than the very professional nature of it) is the way he's drunk most of the wine in his rack and shoved a tea towel in one of the holes. That and the fact there appears to be the claws of an alien beast inches away from the left side of his head..... Oh and that's before we start on the fact that the pyjamas he's modelling for a Big and Tall Man's shop are woefully too long for him. So we clearly have a 'Big and Tall Man's Shop' that couldn't find any tall men.....

In 2nd place is 'Come on Baby Light My Fire'. Magnificent. Everything about it certainly ignited me. From the way he's looking lustfully into the middle distance through to the misted reflection of the nasty lampshade in the mirror, the whole thing just screams HOME MADE PORNO. Either that or ESCAPE FROM THE UNIT. That aside, I'm not sure it quite sets the garment off at it's best? The crumpled seam.... the way it appears to be made for a man with 14 ft arms......the way the seam hangs only millimeters from the fire ready to reduce to him a human fireball at any moment..... Still it's a good effort all the same.

And finally - our winner! I'm saying nothing more than 'The Dog's Bollocks'. Or should that be 'The Dog's at His Bollocks'...... Ohh and don't his feet look cold!

Anyway - crazy modelling shots aside - my dad buys his clothes there. And very good clothes they are too. However, such is the nature of my father that he still, occasionally, manages to bust a seam and then it's down to my poor mother to sew them back together again.

It was after one such seam-busting occurance that the 'incident' occured. He'd split his trousers and made my mum sew them back together again. Sew them back together in time for a very important meeting he was chairing.

So he gets to the 'Very Important Meeting' in his newly repaired trousers and greets the delegates before moving to the head of table and taking his seat.

The next thing the delegates see is a 25 stone man shooting 12 foot into the air shouting YOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW THERE'S SOMETHING IN MY LEFT TESTICLE!

They then witness their Chairman shuffling very slowly out of the 'Very Important Meeting' and into the men's toilets where he had to ask for assistance in removing a very large sewing needle which, it appears, my mother had left in the crotch of his trousers.

The needle entered his ball with such force that it was bent 90 degrees.

I'm sure a therapist would have a field day with the symbolism of that but let's just say - she wasn't in his good books for a while.

And you thought meetings were boring?

Friday, 6 February 2009

One of my Balls is Sick

It is with great gladness, sorry, sadness, that I inform you that one of my balls appears to be sick.

He has a slow puncture and I'm having to pump him very hard and very regularly in order to keep him fully inflated.

I know many of you have enjoyed hearing about my balls so I will keep you updated. Worst case scenario - he may explode. Which is what happened to another ball I had which got too hot in the sun.

No flowers please - but donations of wine and chocolate gratefully appreciated.

The Beast Within

My conservatory smell of cat wee.

Odd - considering I don't have a cat.

Or maybe I do? Maybe one is camped out behind the dishwasher in the hope of catching one of the rats?


Yes. Rats.

It's OK. I think they are all dead. Well some of them are.... I can still smell them, even they died a long long time ago.

It happened something like this:

One morning the baby started yowling at 5am and, in order to silence him, I decided to get him some warm milk. Our microwave (please, no lectures on the danger of microwaving milk.... The kid eats candles for gods sake - his gut is superhuman) is in the conservatory so out I padded - in nothing but my very skimpy nightie and bare feet (I have NO idea why I was wearing a skimpy nightie - I guess all my PJs were in the wash and it was lurking in the bottom of my chest of draws from the days when I actually took a thrill in nightwear.).

So I stand there - pretty much bare - and suddenly hear a rustling. Something is moving on top of the pram raincover! Next thing that 'something' flies through the air, hits my thigh, falls onto my foot and scuttles down behind the dishwasher.

Scream?? No actually - I was so shocked I just stood there. Went back to bed and tried to erase the feel of it's claws on my thigh.

Things deteriorated from there. Two days later one ran up my tights when I went to put the heating on (gulp) and a week later my OH opened the guinea pig's hutch to think 'ohhh we've got a new guinea pig!' only to realise that no, it was actually a huge great rat, camped out in their bed.

We poisoned them all and they died. A few weeks later - Christmas Eve actually - a bloom of bluebottles infested the house. So we ate Christmas dinner with flies buzzing round our heads and my OH running round the house like Wiley Coyote with a roll of wrapping paper.

So you can probably imagine that the smell of cat wee is worrying me slightly. Knowing the way my life tends to go, expect the next post to be about me finding the Exmoor Beast in the laundry bin....

The Weather Outside is Frightful

You may have noticed that it has been snowing.

I would have been out playing in it but unfortunately I caught a stomach bug (either that or my mother-in-law poisoned me) and ended up being very sick while my children stared whistfully out of the windows and sobbed to make snowmen. Ah the stuff that memories are made of.....

20 years time:

Friend: 'Do you remember when we were little and there was that amazing snow and everyone got off school and we made HUGE snowmen? Ah that was the best!'.

My Eldest Son: 'Yeah, I remember that. My mum had her head down the loo all day, occasionally wandering past in her vomit splattered dressing gown and groaning, whilst me and my kid brother were incarcerated in the living room with 12 solid hours of Cbeebies. Poor kid got so hungry he ate a packet of candles......'

Never mind hey, I'm up and about now. If you go past my house you'll notice I've even managed to play in the front garden - unfortunately I was in the car at the time and had just driven it straight through the garden fence......

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Reading - the greatest gift of all?

Sorry for the silence. I have been at my mother-in-laws in 'The Land That Time Forgot' (more on that later this week) but I'm now back.

While walking through the 'The Land That Time Forgot' with my young son this morning he was intrigued to see a car totally covered in mud. My dad would tut and shake his head in sorrow at his 'townie' upbringing (i.e. he is used to seeing cars where you can actually see some of the paintwork) but, to a 4 year old boy not living in the rural wilds, it is an interesting site.

What was even more interesting was that somebody had done 'graffiti' in the mud on the back windscreen. You know - the kind of comical jape along the lines of 'Also available in white!' or 'I am the Stig!' or, the even funnier, 'You think I'm dirty? You should see the wife!'. Oh how I roar to see such hilarity!

Anyway - in this case, the 'artist' had written only 4 letters.

4 letters which intrigued my young son.

'Look mummy! T! T for train!'.

'Erm, yes it is a T' (at this point I'm forcefully dragging him by his arm, trying to get him past the car, but it is too late.....).







Oh dear god. Why!? Why? This is the same child who when you point to his own name will say 'train!' so why does he decide to actually read right at this very moment?

'Mummy, why does it say Twat on that car? What is it? Is it the man's name?'.

'Very probably, darling, very probably.....'.