Monday, 31 May 2010

Dog Days

First of all thank you, a really massive thank you, to everyone who has sent me their kind thoughts after the post about my dad. It really means a lot to me and I'm very touched by everyone's concern.

The thing about being a parent is that life goes on - in all its day to day mundaneness - whatever else is happening.

Planets could collide, the house get struck by lightening (please no - I haven't even unpacked yet), tsunamis could sweep across the lawn and Neptune could enter Uranus and STILL you'd have to change nappies. burn fish fingers and explain 450 times a night exactly why it's bedtime even though the sun is still up and the neighbour's kids are all on a trampoline.....

In some ways this can be hard, very hard. But in other ways it's bloody brilliant because you have to keep putting one foot in front of the other and the chaos brought forth by two small boys can be a welcome distraction from 'the other stuff'.

I've mainly been having to live at my mum's which means I have also had to live with a 15 year old collie dog with Dementia (seriously). This dog is my Nemisis.

This dog (who no doubt will now spite me by dropping dead within the hour):

a) does poo which I (and only I) step in (in flip flops - I think I need counselling);

b) has to be chased round with a can of Febreze as it smells THAT BAD (and I have eons of experience with toddler poo, dead animals and other such fragrant gifts);

c) barks repeatedly at 4am until I have to get up and let it out. Then, having let it and the other dog out, it DISAPPEARS INTO THE NIGHT. I then have to find a pair of wellies (inevitably the wrong size and full of cobwebs) and a torch (inevitably with hardly any battery power and emitting the light of a glowworm) and go out into the pitch-black night and conduct a search. Halfway through this search it occurs to me that the dog may actually have been barking at something (rather than just the moon) and that thing could technically be an axe-man/masked raider/jumbo badger come to avenge his kind, so I contemplate going back to bed and leaving the dog to the jumbo badger. But then I get the guilts (and a realisation that the dog will only come back half an hour later and bark to get back in) so gird my loins and continue my search.

d) is convinced my children have come to steal away its kingdom so ANY kind of movement into or out of the house, or in fact into or out of the kitchen, has to be conducted in a manner akin to the SAS storming the Iranian embassy (only no-one gets shot - yet).

and finally

e) it has taught my toddler more words and phrases which I'd rather he wasn't pouring forth (although the toddler isn't really a toddler anymore).

Well the dog hasn't actually taught them more words. The dog has forced me to use more words and the toddler now enjoys spitting them forth with venom. Not swear words (yet) but phrases such as:

- 'hate'
- 'YUK! That stinks'
- 'oh FOR GOD'S SAKE' (said with immense ferocity)
- 'the collar, the collar, grab the collar'.
- 'that bloody dog is a pain'.

The toddler is enjoy using his new words and phrases.

He demonstrated some of them to my eldest son's entire school on Friday during Golden Assembly (fortunately the school is a very small one).

Golden Assembly happens every Friday and basically all the parents can come and watch and any children that have done nice/good/kind/clever things get to stand up and get clapped.

I went because I wanted a sliver of normality in my life (I must have forgotten that for me normality equals cringeworthy embarrassment and oddness of the highest order).

Anyway three little girls got up to demonstrate the 'non-fiction work' they had done about a topic of their choice.

Two of the little girls had written a couple of scruffy sentences (I presume the other kids had produced nothing but a squiggle).

However, one of the little girls (Amelia) had written two A4 sides and made an annotated poster all on the topic of Meerkats (who would have known Meerkats had such depth?) and apparently 'she read the entire non-fiction book herself. In its entirety'.

Amelia proudly held her poster aloft and everyone clapped (albeit in some cases with gritted teeth).

A hush fell.

The Headmaster cleared his throat.

The toddler shrieked:


Never have I wished so hard for some kind of shift of the tectonic plates allowing me to simply disappear.

Every child in the room (except perhaps for Amelia) fell to the floor in hysterics (particularly the younger ones) and several of the parents also seemed to be struggling to contain themselves.

The Headmaster had to get cross and rapidly move on to a slide show about Vikings (interestingly omitting any raping, pillaging or mentions of Valhalla).

I think perhaps I need to avoid Golden Assembly for a while. I wonder if you can spend Friday mornings in Valhalla?

Friday, 28 May 2010

This is not a Funny One

People come to this blog for light relief. They come because it makes them laugh (and wee their pants in some cases - apparently) and lets them escape for a few brief moments from their own lives, which sometimes aren't all that happy (and sometimes are downright bloody hard).
Every now and again I have to write a post which won't make people laugh and which won't make people's day better and to be honest I hate doing it. It feels like I'm letting the side down and it's not why this blog is here. However - I need to be honest with you so you can understand what is going on with my life and why I might post a bit infrequently.

So it goes like this.

If life has taught me one thing (other than I can't decorate cakes and dead badgers are very heavy), it's that it is what happens when you are busy making other plans.

Case study to date include:

1. Holding your new baby in your arms and planning a cup of tea and a nice lie down only for life to decide that you're going to exit the building surfing a tidal wave of your own blood and, almost, straight to the mortuary.


2. Pushing a double buggy proudly round Tesco planning on dinner only for life to decide that before you can say 'I think I'll do something with anchovies' you'll actually find yourself having all your distinguishing marks recorded on a chart so they can admit you to a psychiatric unit and, if needs be, the police can identify you, dead or alive (my abiding memory of this was that the guy noted my build down as medium - if he'd put 'heavy' I might have really got mad).
and unfortunately the latest case study of:

3. Loads of really amazing people nominating you for 2 really cool blog awards and you thinking 'oh hell, how am I going to enjoy all this and do the publicity without my dad finding out!' only for life to.......
.....well for life to take your dad away in ambulance and then inform you that his very sudden loss of function is because he has a brain tumour. And not just any old brain tumour. One right in the middle of his brain which they can't really do much about and which looks to be highly aggressive. You know it's bad when they have to take you to a little private room. You know it's bad when the doctor can't meet your eyes and keeping fiddling with his thumbs and struggling to find the words. You know it's bad when the doctor tells you to 'prepare for the worst'.

Just like that. From fine to the stuff of nightmare in a few short days.

And overnight dreams turn to dust and the world keeps on spinning even though you're sure its actually stopped. You want to wake up and realise that none of this is true but you can't wake up because this is reality. Your new reality. Your dad's new reality. Your mum's new reality. Your brother's new reality. And the new reality of all his family, friends, colleagues and everyone else touched by him. And someone as big as my dad (both physically and in his character) touched a lot of people's lives.

I can't even tell you how I feel because I'm not sure I can actually feel. Well I can but it's odd. I am basically having to live with my mum to try and get her through the days (and nights) and everything is just a mess.

When my Grandma died in the autumn I said grief was like a moth, sitting quietly on the wall and waiting to flutter down into the light and clatter it's dusty wings across your face.

This is not a moth.

This is a panther.

It pads at your heels wherever you go and you know it's there, you can feel it's breath on your back and hear it breathing, but you dare not turn and look because you fear that if you meet its eyes it will push you to the ground, knock the breath from your lungs and destroy you.

And yet life goes on and do not fret, this blog will go on.

Sitting here reading some of my old posts last night was the first time I've felt vaguely normal in a week. I actually sat here laughing. LAUGHING. I never thought I'd laugh again. It's probably wrong to laugh at your own stuff but I don't care.

In the last 48 hours I've managed to:

- stand aside to let a man leave the hospital car park, only to position myself under the car park barrier so that it came down on my head, I mistook it for a swooping eagle or falling building and thus threw myself to the ground screaming 'ARRRGGHHH'. Having to get back up and smile at all the onlookers was even more cringeworthy.

- ground the car on top of a wall outside the school, balancing it like seesaw. Not good for the bodywork or the wall or my reputation.

- stand in a large, fresh, dog poo in flip flops (this I seriously do NOT recommend).


- fail to notice the toddler smuggling a packet of digestive biscuits into the bath. I wondered what the hell was going on when the water turned to gruel but it appears he was not aware of the concept of soggy biscuits. He is now.

So as you can see, whatever happens in my life, I am never short of blog fodder.

To my old fans and my new - I hope you can stick with me through this - I'm going to need to generate the laughs as much as you.

Life - sometimes it ain't half sh1t.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

In Disguise

Right so as you all know I'm a finalist in the this big old blog competition 'THE MADS' (kindly sponsored by Butlins) and also finalist in the 'Funniest' category (kindly sponsored by John Lewis - very nice company that, have a nice haberdashery department, I like a good rifle through their buttons). This is apparently 'quite a big thing'. And 'quite big things' tend to attract the public gaze.

Oh hell.

I've been contacted about 'going to the press'.


The thing is if I did go the local press (not the Financial Times, I doubt they'd want me) I know they'd snap it up. Not because it's an amazing, thrilling tale. Simply because they've got nowt else to publish.

Examples of recent billboard headlines I've seen outside newsagents include:

'Man could have been killed by boiler!'.

The crucial word here is 'could'.

Not 'was' or 'almost' but 'could'. I mean thank heavens he wasn't even injured but generally, every single day there are a lot of things which you could (technically) be killed by. Stray buses, meteors, 13 bottles of vodka in straight succession. They don't generally make headline news unless you are unfortunate enough to meet your end via their means.

More recently we had 'Outrage Over Bingo Gifts!'.

As I was saying, they would take the blog story.

Feeling confused I consulted Husband with the Sad Face.

Me: They are urging me to go the papers with my blog. Other people are, and then they'll get loads of publicity and votes and I won't get my curtains.

HWASF: Well you know what they say?!

Me: Err, no, what?

HWASF: There's no such thing as bad publicity!

Me: I think you'll find that you are actually wrong and there actually is.

HWASF: Like what?

Me: Like the fact we live in a small town which is a hot bed of gossip where I grew up, my parents still live and everyone talks about everyone. I REALLY don't want all my dad's mates down the pub talking about the time his daughter (i.e. me) burnt off her pubic hair with toxic chemicals, wrestled with a dead badger, weed in the turn-up of her trousers, got sent to live in a mental home, stole the church Christmas tree and overdosed on dog hormone tablets (albeit not at the same time).

HWASF: Hmmmmm (looking thoughtful).

Me: PLUS everyone will find out about the incident with the used chutney knife, the time he strangled my brother for 'putting a log on the fire like a dick' (see here) and the fact he tried to make me dress in used Asda bags to stop me getting hit by a car.

HWASF: Hmmmmm (looking even more thoughtful).

Me: PLUS this blog contains blasphemy, refrences to vaginas (haunted and otherwise), innuendo, disrespectful remarks about small children AND cruelty to (albeit dead) animals. The letters page of the local paper would go bonkers. Someone changing the sequencing of the traffic lights on the industrial estate generates an entire page of letters for 13 weeks on the trot. People write in about the number of dead headghogs they've seen and how it's a harbinger to the end of times. There is a 4 month debate going on about where the bench has gone from the old shopping centre and where are the infirm going to sit down now? People send in passages from the bible with no other explanation, just a name underneath AND THEY PUBLISH THEM. A link to this blog would - well they'd never get over it!! People would start to spontaneously combust.

HWASF: Ok, you have a point........

So I won't be going to the local paper. Well not without a disguise. And I need a disguise anyway because this whole Blog contest ends in an AWARDS CEREMONY no less and as I don't get out enough, love a good knees up and haven't been to an Awards Ceremony since I attending the South Somerset Schoolboy Motocross Winter Championship Awards in 1990 (where I received a pineapple, fresh, from none other than Dicky Dye, a man so un-famous there's not even a Wiki page about him). And let's face it - I'm not exactly going be invited to the Oscars.

Maybe I could emulate 'Bucket Head' - the legendary guitarist?

Then again, I'm not known as Bucket Head but Stickhead - so that would mean my disguise would need to involve a pile of sticks. Something like this perhaps:

Although I might struggle with that on the dance floor.

Suggestions for my disguise welcome, just don't tell my mum or she will resurect the lacewing costume (see here).

Having said that, even Belle de Jour came out in the end......

(p.s if the people organising the awards ceremony are reading this, could you make sure they've got Strongbow behind the bar? I'm gonna need it......).

Friday, 7 May 2010

The One About the Boobie Bush

So I took the kids back to the Garden Centre. Don't ask me why, it's a long story involving gynecological procedures which might put people off their tea (as opposed to mere Haunted Vaginas and Tossing Badgers - which you can read over a large Chicken Dansak and not miss a bite).

Anyway I needed a sit down and some peace and a large slice of chocolate based cake - even if it did cost £3.50 Obviously I didn't realise that until I got to the till and had a small choking fit.

THREE POUNDS FIFTY. That makes the whole cake 28 quid. Pah. I'm going into cake making for a living. Actually, on second thoughts, no......

Things went OK whilst in the garden centre, mainly because we sat outside away from all things china. There was a small moment of shame when Original Son stood atop the climbing frame and boomed, across the heads of various congregated silver gents, 'MUMMY I NEED A WEE AND A POO AND IT'S VERY URGENT, IN FACT SO URGENT THAT THERE IS A SMALL BIT COME OUT BUT IT'S OK BECAUSE IT'S ONLY WEE. SO THAT'S OK ISN'T IT? YOU'RE NOT THAT CROSS, ARE YOU?'.

I'm sure the scone nibbling pensioners of Somerset were relieved to hear they could continue their afternoon tea free from worry about potential skid marks and witnessing some kind of a child beating.


Obviously, after this we had to leave and it was on leaving that the problems started.

The first problem is that just outside the door is one of those ride on toys you put money in so kids can get a 2 minutes trip to happiness. Only my kids don't actually know that. The bit about the money that is. They aren't aware those ride on toys do anything other than the bits that come free (i.e they remain stock still, like a statue, unless you rock them really REALLY hard when they do move a teeny tiny bit).

The ride-on toy in question is a rather odd one to say the least. It's not your normal Thomas the Tank or Pink Elephant. No.

It actually takes the form of a large psychedelic toadstool complete with psychotic looking rodents and a strange bluebird.

The kids however love it. They leap aboard and shriek 'we're going to the moon!' before attempting to rock it off it's moorings. For 0 pence it gives quite a good ride I have to say.

The downside is that as it's right by the Exit a large number of people walk past and either give me a very odd look or 'helpfully' suggest I put money in it. The odd few laugh or give me a sympathetic smile. I'm not sure if they presume I'm too poor to pay for it or too stupid to work out where to put the money in, but frankly, I don't care.

Anyway understandably I am desperate to leave and they never want to so today I lured them away with a promise of the first thing I could think off that would be irresistible to a small boy.


Toy cars?

A trip to a freight train depot? (Or is that just my kids?).

No. None of the above. I glanced frantically round the car park and came up with......

'Wow kids, let's go and look at some amazing bushes!'.

I mean who wouldn't want to sprint away from a psychotic mushroom that takes you to the moon to look at some topiary?

The bushes in question have been carefully crafted into various forms and line the side of the car park so the kids were in full view of many people when the eldest decided to launch himself on top of the totally spherical one.

In a single bound he was balanced on top of the dense foliage. He then began a mild humping action whilst shrieking 'THIS BUSH IS CRAZY!'.

Sigh. Too much time in the mushroom methinks.

Having been quickly dragged off the bush, he turned his attention to the one next door .

The one next door is some kind of creature sat on it's arse with it's 4 legs sticking out in front of it and large erect ears. I think it's a mouse, my kids think it's a dog.

A dog with boobies.

To be fair about this the top 2 legs do actually bear a striking resemblance to very large, pendulous bosoms (I think they need a bit of pruning before they droop all the way to the dog's knees). They also wobble. A lot. Particularly if attacked by two small boys screaming 'BOOBIES BOOBIES BOOBIES' as they run back and forth whacking them.

Such was my desperation to remove them from the scene that I ended up having a tug of war with the toddler - me holding his lower torso, him holding a topiary boobie......

A struggle ensued but it had to end when I realised that this was only going to end with the 'boobie' coming adrift and me (and the rest of the garden centres customers) being forever haunted by the gaping, leafless hole it would leave (not to mention what the hell I'd do with a disconnected leafy boob).

So I let go and lured him away with chocolate.

There's not a chapter on these sort of scenarios in Toddler Taming, is there? I think it needs rewriting.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Sponge Impressions of Guinea Pigs Passed

Well it's been a while since I baked any cakes bad enough to become No. 1 on Google Searches (if you are reasonably new to Slightly South of Sanity then you need to know that is the home of 'officially' the world's most popular crap Iggle Piggle cake). Oh yeah and there was also the cake laced with curry powder which we used to try and poison the vicar but we'll gloss over that one....

And then I realised that where Iggle Piggle and the Poisoned Cake rose, other attempts had risen (or failed to rise) before them.

Whilst (finally) unpacking some boxes after our house move, I found a packet of photos (these must have come from an era where I actually had time to print out photos - i.e. Before Children) and amongst these happy memories I found a photograph of my OH's (Husband with the Sad Face) birthday cake from many years ago. So many years I'd forgotten I'd ever made it (or blanked it out amidst a sea of shame).

The theme for this cake was to be a guinea pig. In fact it was to be the face of 'Steve-O', a dear pet at the time, now of course dead (but not to be confused with Satchmo).

Now don't get me wrong, Steve-O (named after a neighbour actually - the one between Mr Squirrel and the House with the "Man in Chains Who Burst Through a Window One Otherwise Quiet Sunday Afternoon and was Never Seen Again") was a dark and glum looking guinea pig (he did, after all, die of constipation, although I can assure you the cake was modeled on his living self rather than his corpse - not that you can easily decipher that from it's appearance), but he wasn't THIS freakin' dark and glum:

Note: the bright light on the table below Steve-O's face is a reflection of the camera flash - not a portal to a parallel universe. Sadly. That would have been a handy distraction to just HOW crap my OH's birthday cake actually was.

What can I say!? (Other than, where are his ears? Despite his intestinal issues, he definitely had ears).

Martha Stewart eat your heart out.

Who needs sprinkles, velvet icing, sugar-roses, silver baubles and frosting when you've got squirty cream (and Strongbow)?

I'm not quite sure what went wrong with "Steve-O's Head in a Chocolate Sponge Medium" (other than it clearly being burnt to a cinder, covered in squirty cream and sunk like the Titanic).

Personally I blame the oven.....

Tuesday, 4 May 2010


No, not in the election - pah what's the future of our Nation when £200 of John Lewis vouchers are at stake.....

It appears that my blog is one of the 5 finalists in the MADS 2010 Funniest Blog awards (gulp) and that is all thanks to you amazing lot - so thank you, thank you, thank you. From the minute I bowed to public pressure and started this thing up, it's you lot that have kept me going. Even if it has meant complete strangers approaching me from behind at buffet tables and saying 'I love your blog, especially the one about your piles.......'.

However - it ain't over until the mad lady is blowing her vouchers on Strongbow (only joking - I need some curtains in my bedroom so I stop scaring early morning dog walkers with my 'womanly self') and the winner is decided purely on number of votes so if you can I'd be ever so grateful indeed if you went to the website and in the 'vote for the finalists' bit, do your stuff in the Funniest category.....


If you vote I promise to keep up the hard work and mis-use hair removal cream, misplace my balls, misname homosexual chickens after religious icons, mis-locate wigs into the wheels of my pram and misplace my mind well into my old age and all whilst never EVER misplacing my sense of humour.

Thank you.