Sunday, 21 February 2010

Eat Butt (and other half-term activities)

Well we have survived half-term and although I 'may' have consumed slightly more Strongbow, cheap white wine and hot cross buns than the Government recommends (is there a government limit on hot cross bun consumption? They do, after all, contain fruit. Mind you, so does cider and white wine. The easy way to 5-a-day.....).

I can probably sum up the holiday in the following conversations:


Location: My kitchen every morning.
Scene: Crazed looking toddler running up and down with a very cross face.

Toddler: I want butt! I WANT BUTT BUTT!

Me: Sigh (long and drawn out).


Me: No. There is no more butt.


Me: Read my lips. NO MORE BUTT BUTT.


HWASF (Husband With A Sad Face - probably hoping for a cup of tea): What is he on about now?

Me: Butt butt (obviously!).

HWASF: Yes but what is that?

Me: He wants peanut butter. Out of the jar. On a knife. Only a knife. The sharper the better. He doesn't just like butt, he like dangerous butt. But anyway he can't have it - on anything - as it's run out. And it doesn't get more dangerous than that. The butt butt barrel is empty.

(HWASF retreats to the toilet).


Me (to myself): How many minutes til bedtime?


Location: Steam Train to the Seaside.
Scene: Sat at a table on the train in a crowded carriage full of very nice holidaying families and enthusiastic pensioners with sparkles in their eyes.

Original Son: Mummy, what is this station?

Me: Watchet.

Original Son: What?

Me: Watchet. That's not a threat. It's actually the name.

Original Son: Ratchet? Why is it called Ratchet?

Toddler: Rat shit. Rat shit. Rat shit!!!!!

Me: (emit huge guffaw of laughter, because if you didn't laugh you'd cry).

Original Son: Mummy, why are you laughing?


Me: I'm not.


Location: Living room (which is also our bedroom and replete with mattress, pillows, cushions, duvet, bedspread and circa 18 blankets required to keep us warm at night)
Scene: Small children appear to have mistaken living room/bedroom for a soft play centre and are leaping from sofa to chair, via half-pike triple-salko on the mattress......).

Me: (looking up from the seed catalogue I am trying to absorb myself in. The world of Hybrid Sweetcorn has never looked so tempting......) Can you BE CAREFUL.

Original Son: Awwwwwwww (in that whine only possessed by children aged approximately 4 and upwards), but we are only PLAYING.

Me: Yeeeeeees but be CAREFUL. I don't want anyone's head splitting open.

Original Son: But it's our favourite game!

Me: What game?

Original Son: You know, the game 'I-Run-At-You-As-Fast-As-I-Can-And-If-I-Get-You-I-Will-Bash-You'.

Me: As I was saying.......

(40 seconds later - toddler meets cushion, toddler flies through air roaring with laughter, toddler clears mattress....toddler clears bedding pile....toddler clears carpeted area......toddler's head lands on strip of wood which divides living room/bedroom from dining room.......).

Me: Once again, AS I WAS SAYING....

And tomorrow?

Oh, it's just another Manic Monday.

Good luck one and all.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

The Spandex Years

The previous post about my inability to to supply my son with the correct items for school made me reflect on the matter more deeply (i.e. I had a quick think about it in bed last night). You are always reading these days about parents trying to out-do each other with nativity costumes or baking for the school fete ('hey you drive a Range Rover and spend Half Term skiing in Aspen? Ha - eat my dust and look at the size of my Yule Log - that kind of thing) but I can't say I've noticed much of it myself. All I tend to see are a lot of cornflakes crispy cakes and packets of shop bought mini-rolls. Clearly my children go to the wrong type of school....

I certainly never noticed any ultra-competitive costume making from my own mother.

Hell no.

My mother has something of a dark past when it comes to supplying her offspring with costumes for school.

It all started with a 'Victorian Day' when I was about 7.

Parents were supposed to dress us in 'costume appropriate to the time', so my mum sent me in with a lampshade cover over my head, clutching a large potted Aspidistra plant.

Her main concern was the welfare of her Aspidistra.

Everybody else's main concern was 'why the f'ck are you carrying a potted plant around and what the HELL is that on your head?'.

My card as the 'class eccentric' was well and truly marked.

I'd like to say things then improved - but they didn't.

The household dressing up box somehow acquired a silver all-in-one stretchy bodysuit. The kind of thing people are sporting right now at the Winter Olympics while flying down mountains on tea trays. This was in the days prior to Lycra so I'm guessing it was Spandex? I vaguely recall it came from my father's workplace but as he worked for an engineering firm making industrial turbines, I won't question that too closely.

Anyway - my mother being pretty thrifty - ensured that the silver Spandex catsuit made its way into EVERY fancy dress outfit I ever wore from that day onwards.

First, aged about 8, there was the Brownie fancy dress party with the theme of 'things beginning with T'.

So she sewed a white toweling patch on the front, stuck some ears on my head and sent me as a cat.....

Apparently I wasn't any cat - I was Tom the cat - but it didn't stop 350 people asking me why I'd come to a T themed party dressed as a (shiny) cat.

The next fancy dress occasion, aged about 9, was for members of the 'Wildlife Watch' club (it was very rock and roll my early childhood) and the theme was 'Animals of the Night'.

What are you thinking here? A fox? A badger? Maybe a hedgehog?

Now remember - you need to make use of a silver-toned all in one Spandex catsuit and silver coloured cats are not indigenous to the British Isles and what with this being a party for 'nature mad' individuals, people will know this.....

That's it! That well loved 'Creature of the Night'......


A lacewing (in case you don't immerse yourself in information on flies and similar) looks like this:

Lovely. While other girls were stealing their sister's Coffee Shimmer lipstick and perfecting the moves to Kylie's Locomotion, I was morosely wandering round a village hall dressed as a fly.

You may also like to note that the fly in question is not actually silvery coloured. It's green. And the Spandex was silver...

Well don't worry - they turn a greyish colour when they are about to die.......

Mother pinned a baby blanket to my back (to act as the 'lacy wings') and off I went (to once again spend an entire evening explaining to people what the hell I was supposed to be and, once again, not winning any prizes. 'What ARE you? Some kind of moth?', 'No I'm a Lacewing', 'Are they not green?', 'I'm about to die', 'Oh').

It didn't end there.

In fact the Spandex Suit years culminated in Le Grande Humiliation when aged about 13 (note the age here - THIRTEEN) my school held an end of term fancy dress contest and I was forced into it to parade in front of my school as...

... an elephant.

Oh yes.

Let me give those of you with young daughters a piece of advice. If your daughter reaches puberty and is burgeoned with a DD bust and thighs like tree trunks, then:

a) Reassure that whilst she currently feels like a hideous freak and boys follow her round school calling her 'Oxfam legs' or throwing sticks at her, one day she will discover that it's not all bad and there are better boys out there. Men actually but we'll stop right there.


b) do not, I re-iterate DO NOT, dress her in aged Silver Spandex and send her to school as a mock elephant.

Other girls were Madonna or Kylie or bloody Tinkerbell.

I was Dumbo after he OD'd on the HRT tablets.

Not only was I wearing the (rather stretched Spandex) but the rest of my costume was made up as thus:

Grey school socks over my feet and hands to make 'elephant feet'.

The grey cord off an anorak pinned to my arse to make a 'tail'.

And (this is the worst bit) a pair of grey tights pulled over my head with one leg stuffed to form a trunk and the other leg cut off so my eyes are staring out of a gaping hole somewhere around where the crotch should be.

After that the Spandex suit mysteriously disappeared.

And I wonder why my son has a hysterical fear of fancy dress parties.......

Monday, 15 February 2010

If Only Smarties Had the Answer

Well here we are, safely embedded within Half-Term (again. already) but the end of school did not pass without (further) embarrassment on my behalf.

My son's school decided to do their bit for the horror that is the situation in Haiti.

For some (inexplicable) reason they decided what the people of Haiti really needed were tubes of Smarties emptied of the sweets and filled with 'loose change' (that and a WordSearch competition themed around earthquakes. Okkaaaaaay.......Apparently it was the idea of the 'Student Council'. In their defense their average age is 8, but all the same.....).

Only nobody told me about the need for the Smartie tube until the night before.

Now as tempted as I was to shrug my shoulders and send a cheque attached to a letter about Boycotting Nestle, the debacle over the 'Shoe Box for Operation Christmas Child Which Mummy Forgot and Tears were Shed Over' is still too fresh in my memory to brush such demands aside, so I found a 24 hour garage, bought the sacred Smarties (in the essential tube) and emptied the tube (hard work that bit).


Only it's not fine.

Because then I needed to fill the tube with 'loose change'.

This is all very well if you have any loose change and maybe start looking for it more than 10 minutes before you have to leave to do the school run.

What are you supposed to do if you presume you have 'loose change' (come on, there's ALWAYS loose change isn't there?) and you then realise that your change is significantly less 'loose' than you imagined - i.e. you can't find any?

My OH was away, my school run does not pass a single cash point in any form and the only way I could have found any more money for the bloody Smartie tube would have been to take a major diversion, withdraw a ten pound note, find a shop, buy something small and demand lots of small change and consequently deliver my child to school approximately half an hour late.

Even I drew the line at that kind of farce.

So what did I do?

I searched every coat, every bag, ever cushion of the sofa and came up with........

Four 2p pieces and three pennies.

There we are tragic victims of Nature's fury - 11p towards the rebuilding of your Nation.....

I toyed with idea of padding out the bottom of the tube with tissue paper but decided that sending in shreds of bog roll was even more offensive than the 11p alone so left it at that and prayed that my pathetic effort would go un-noticed (whilst secretly wishing the Connect Four counters would fit down the tube).

On arrival my hopes were dashed.

The teacher herself (not even her assistant) took the (very light) Smartie tube and smiling announced that my son could have it back as they would be taking them into 'Golden Assembly' and making a display of their contents on the stage (so I made the right call on the addition of the toilet paper then....).

Parents are encouraged to stay for 'Golden' Assembly (more on this curiosity another time) but I was out of there sharpish.

It's bad enough to be known as the woman with the mis-matched boots whose car smells like a (cheap) wine bar and forgot the sodding Christmas Shoe Box. To be known as the woman who donated 11p towards a global catastrophe would be pushing it methinks.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Men of a Certain Age

Me: Hi Dad, how are you?

Father: Terrified!

Me: Terrified? (he doesn't look particularly terrified to me, he's searching for something in the fridge. Perhaps checking the cold meats to see if anyone has deigned to use an incorrect knife on them in an incorrect fashion?).

Father: Yes. TERRIFIED.

Me: Right. And, erm, why it that?

Father: I have pains, PAINS, all down my side! All in my arm. I can barely move it (said whilst hoiking a large platter of cold sausages out of the fridge).

Me: Oh. Dear.

Father: I am in AGONY. Can barely walk. Just like the pains I had before - when I almost died.
(This is actually, for once, not an exaggeration. Shortly before my wedding he thought he'd pulled a muscle in his side ripping up trees with his bare hands/crushing cans of Strongbow between his little fingers/attempting to strangle my brother for using the wrong knife to spread chutney. It turned out he actually had a Deep Vein Thrombosis which had migrated into his lungs. Gulp).

Me: Crikey.


Me: Yes. Right. So you are seeing the Doctor when?

Father: The DOCTOR? No, I'm not seeing the bloody doctor.

Me: Well, may I suggest if you are terrified and in agony and have a history of potential fatal blood clots, it might be a good idea?

Father: No, no. Its probably how I've slept.

Me: Well what are you going to do about it then?

Father: Make a bloody sausage sandwich.

Me: (to myself) Yeah, obviously.....that well known wonder of modern medicine.

However, he did actually appear much improved after the sausage sandwich so I shall try not dwell on my concerns too much.

Monday, 8 February 2010

It's Always the Quiet Ones

Me: Where is the toddler?

HWASF (Husband with a Sad Face): Here's right here, next to me.

Me: Really?

HWASF: Errr yes, look!

Me: But he's not moving or making any noise.

HWASF: No, he's quite happy playing with the railway.

Me: But he's not moving or making any noise.....

HWASF: He's concentrating.

Me: Are you 'sure' he's alright?


(He's sitting very very very still staring into the middle distance. He's either mastered the art of transcendental meditation or he's been turned to stone. Possibly for crimes against women wearing red felt).


(At this point the toddler starts to snort, rather like a bull about to charge).

I sense something may be up.

I approach him.

His hands fall open to reveal a collection of beads (beads which I have never seen before and had no idea we owned).


I grab toddler and tip back his head so the light is shining up his nose.

Yup. There is a long cylindrical bead wedged nicely right up his left nasal passage.

'Fine' my arse.

TWEEZERS! I yell before moving him to the strip-lit kitchen floor.

Give me space to work! SHARPER TWEEZERS!

At this point Original Son has arrived to take in the drama. What with him being 'Mr Health & Safety' crimes against one's own body intrigue him.


A brief struggle and a lot of breath holding later the bead was removed.

At this point all hell breaks loose:


Me: What do you mean NO?

Original Son: But I want to take him to the hospital. PLLLLEEEASSSSSEEEE.

Me: He's fine now, he doesn't need to go and we are very lucky that's the case.

Original Son: Can we take him anyway?

Me: No, you are very lucky we don't need to go to the hospital (here followed a sermon on the potential outcomes of nasal bead stuffing and the horrors of waiting in casualty).

Original Son: But I just want to take him now. I love hospitals, especially in the dark. I haven't been for AGES. PLLEEEEEASEEE.

Me: No, it's bed time (whilst thinking, my god, what have I done to my child? His fondest memories of his early years are clearly cemented around visiting me in hospital. Psychiatric Care has never looked so fun. Sod Lego Land - this child dreams of Nuclear Power Stations, Diesel Engine Depots and......Mental Health Units).

They go to bed but I'm left with uneasy sense that Original Son may try sprinkling small objects into the toddlers cot in the hope of a repeat performance.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Wrong Footed (the continuation)

Following yesterday's post about collecting my child from school whilst wearing a multitude of badly fitting footwear a friend, who recalls the real-life me from my son's ex-school, said that she wasn't surprised and she could only believe it coming from me.

This prompts me to ponder, do other people NEVER find themselves out with only one shoe on?

Seriously - I need to know.

You see this latest debacle is only the latest in a long history of shoe-shockers. Off the top of my head others have included:

1. Waking up at party when I was 16 (and had learned the hard way that Bacardi is of a slightly higher proof than Strongbow, if you drink it neat that is) to find that one of my Dr Martens was missing (this was in the era when DMs and stripy tights were considered 'current'. Or maybe that was just in Somerset?). I ended up going to college wearing an old man's slip on loafer (complete with tassles). I can still remember my Geography teacher's concern and questioning about the ability of my parents to raise me. That was the last time my parents ever got to hear about parent's evening.....

2. Walking across an air-field at 8.5 months pregnant only for one of my mules to snap. The only other footwear I had available was a pair of zip up leather boots with a 5 inch stiletto heel and very pointy toes which were in the boot of the car (like some kind of memento from the days I 'had a life'). I couldn't actually zip them over my balloon-like pregnant ankles and I must have looked a more than interesting sight as I tottered about in them for the rest of the (boiling hot) day with a pair of open boots flapping round my calves and a enormous stomach jiggling about. Foxy....

3. The day I went to the seaside and walked all the way out to the sea (anyone who knows the Bristol Channel will understand that this was not a short walk - more like a Half Marathon) only for my sandal to disintegrate. If I close my eyes now and think about the sea I can still recall the pain of broken limpet shells piercing my skin.

4. The day I took my son swimming and, half way there, my slip on mule flew off and landed in the middle of the road. I ended up retrieving it and having to queue up at Tesco customer services before asking them to staple it back together so I could go swimming..... They did do it but only because I think they feared for their lives.

and finally.....

5. The day my flip flop snapped whilst walking to my son's first ever parent's evening. There's not a lot you can do about a snapped flip flop. Every time you raise your foot it just stays on the pavement. And this is how I ended up sat in front of his teacher, on one of those tiny little nursery chairs, smiling sweetly and praying she didn't ask why I was wearing my best frock and only wearing one shoe.......

Do I just buy immensely crap shoes? Or is does this have a deeper meaning?


Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Foot Faults

I last posted on Thursday when I was struggling to come to terms with my embarrassing expenses error.

If I had known what was about to happen, I wouldn't have bothered wasting my shame on that little faux pas.

No, I would have saved it for the school gate.

You see I was too busy blogging (and 'stuff') to watch the time and I suddenly realised I had approximately 30 seconds to leap from my mum's sofa, get in the car and race to my son's school.

No worries.

Until I looked down and realised that one of my boots had mysteriously vanished.

There could only be one culprit.

The dog (to be fair I think mangy damp sheepskin boots would be pretty appealing if I was an old spaniel. They are only very slightly removed from roadkill).

Yes the dog had taken one of my boots and hidden it.

Oh what deep rapturous joy.

I conducted a preliminary search but to no avail. Realising that in reality my boot could be buried in the garden (or in fact partially digested in the dog's stomach) I allowed myself to absorb the fact that I HAD to leave the house NOW and I only had one boot. And what with this being my mother's house and me not actually living here, there was was no alternative footwear to slip into.

I was left with 2 choices:

1. Attend the school wearing one boot and a bare foot. Even in my wildest moments this has not appeared a good option so that was a resounding no.

2. Attend the school wearing footwear belong to either my mother or my father.

Small problem.

My feet are a size 8.

My father's are a larger than a size 12 (I'm not sure of the exact size but his wellies are like waders).

My mother is a size 4.

This narrowed my options slightly to:

1. Wearing huge wellies and being unable to actually drive or walk safely.


2. Wearing very tiny wellies which were relatively safe but utter agony.

Utter agony it would have to be then. Like a rural version of Chinese Foot Binding.

The clock was ticking and I had an image of my son standing alone in a windswept playground sobbing 'where's my mummmeeeeeeeee?' so I hastily started cramming my less than dainty feet into my mother's very dainty wellies.

I got them in! Joy!

The joy was short lived.

I noticed a large amount of dog sh1t attached to the sole of the left boot.......

There was no way I was introducing that much dog poo to my car interior (a car interior which I hasten to add hasn't been cleaned since the 'red wine' incident and is inches deep in flaky pastry and mud - however I draw the line at the faeces of dogs) and there was no time to even begin cleaning it all out.

So that left me with one clean welly (4 sizes to small) and one sheepskin boot (but for the other foot).

Well what would you have done!?

Yes that's right.

I boldly stood in the playground wearing two right-footed boots in vastly different styles and colours.

Ohhh how they laughed (before sniffing my breath and pulling their children closer).

As my son said when he saw me 'oh mummy, what ARE you doing now? Are you crazy or something?'.

Well I wasn't, but at this rate I damn well might be.