Sunday 30 November 2014

The Naked Pedalo Incident

Ok so about 100 years ago I promised I would be back tomorrow with The Naked Pedalo Incident but then, basically, a lot of things happened and it turned out I lied.

My grandad died, my mum upped her Batshit Crazy Level from 'moderate' to 'legendary' and I had to write the world's most boring piece of academic work ever.  What with raising young minds, working, keeping the laundry mountain below fatal landslip level and falling over in pools of cider whilst trying to perfect slut-drops,  I just kind of never got round to it.

So anyway going back to the pedalo.  Way back when I decided to flex my credit card and take the kids to Ibiza.  As you do when you have 2 children - one whom needs a calm, structured routine every day and 1 whom generates more volume than your average Death Metal band (we know this as we ran an experiment in the car).  

Whilst on this holiday, eldest child became absolutely obsessed with taking the pedalos out.  It allowed for complete control of a vehicle in a potentially very hazardous environment.  I sunbathed on the back while he beat his younger brother for taking us too close to a shipping lane and muttered about currents and sandbanks and million pound yachts.

The good thing about the pedalo is that it takes you far away from other people and you can a) stop worrying some body is going to call the Spanish equivalent of social services and b) get naked.

Let me explain.  The paradox of life is that when you are a teenager with a banging body and no stretch marks you will probably hate everything about it, spend hours of existential angst pinching your thighs, living on a diet of Diamond White and crisps and write to This Morning asking them to do a make over on you so you can reach your full body potential (I actually did this, handwritten from the same pad of paper I wrote poetry about my dead pet chickens.  I think it was Rosemary Connelly I asked to change me life.  She never replied.  Probably for the best).   THEN - when  you are a 30 something mother of children with loads of stretch marks and thighs about twice their teenage width you won't give a flying fig and will take the attitude 'if i make it to 80 I will regret not sunbathing naked'.   Plus don't forget - I lived through Beaver Creek.  After that you're not going to worry about people seeing your tits.


So anyway on the back of the pedalo I started off sunbathing topless (eldest son only agreed to this on the grounds we went nowhere near any other living human beings EVER) and then decided that whilst he lectured his brother on the nuances of wave formation and how he was basically an idiot and continually proved his idiotness, that I would go for a naked swim.

Ah the freedom.  The lack of inhibitions.  The sea surrounding you.  The feeling of peace and joy and happiness and salt water.  The pedalo heading rapidly towards some rocks……

Oh oh dear.

And thus distracted by his 'idiot brother' the pedalo got washed up on a rocky outcrop at the base of some cliffs.  

Now you can pedal as hard as you like but if your rotors aren't in the water you aren't going to go anywhere (you could probably make that into one of those inspirational quotes and get it on your wall in swirly script - I will take full credit).  I swam over and tried to haul it back into the sea but i physically couldn't.   Eldest son was by this point hysterical with rage at the incompetence of both his 'idiot' co-pilot and also at me as apparently I'd said it was safe to go near the rocks and he knew it wasn't (he has a point here - I had told him to just get over it and stop worrying and now look where we were…… all washed up with nowhere to go.  And some of us with no clothes on).  

So I was only left with one choice.  To haul my naked form out of the sea and up on to the rocks and push the pedalo back in.   I couldn't touch the bottom and the rocks were steep and I had to  do this completely replying on my upper body strength.  Which, it appears, is frankly shit.

After some considerable amount of time grunt, straining, swearing and thrashing I finally came ashore.

You know the bit in the Bond Movie Dr No where Ursuala Andress rises from the sea in her white bikini and comes gracefully ashore?

Well it wasn't like that.

It was like the point in Blue Planet where the gigantic male walrus hauls himself onto the ice flow and making a guttural rutting/fighting noise flops towards to his mate.

And it was at this point - OF COURSE IT WAS AT THIS POINT - that several Spanish fishermen appeared at the top of the rocky outcrop clutching snorkelling gear and long stick things (probably spears who knows).

If eldest son was ashamed of his idiot brother/out of control naked mother before, well now he was spiritually broken.

The surge of adrenalin the fishermen (and their potential spears) gave me allowed me to refloat the pedalo in one hefty move and leap back into the sea (I couldn't get back on to the pedalo as my upper body strength wouldn't allow for this - I had to ask the children to pass down my swimwear and swim the whole way back to the pedalo man).  

I took comfort from the fact that I didn't live there, nobody knew me and nobody was holding a camera phone (nobody needs their naked pedalo exploits go viral - least of all me) and left the incident to die away as folklore (the tale of the gigantic swearing mermaid with bad strap marks).  

That was until the kids went back to school and eldest's communication book came back home with the words 'glad to hear you had a good holiday, I've heard all about the naked pedalo incident and the fisherman! Sounds fun!'.

Shoot.  Me.  Now.

Monday 15 September 2014

It's been a long time coming…..

….but a blog post is gonna' come….

I thought I hadn't blogged for over a year but, lo, it turns out it's more like 11 months so I feel positively virtuous now.

How are things with me?  Well much like they were 11 months ago - only kind of on steroids.  Or psychotropic drugs.  Or both.

The giant dog is even bigger and ate my mother's Chesterfield sofa.  We threw a blanket over the gaping wound and kind of pretend it never happened.

The cats now number 3 but this number is subject to rapid change at any one point pending road accidents, kidney disorders or children finding kittens they simply MUST adopt.

The guinea pigs now number zero (sad times) following a massive accidental population explosion followed by a mass escape (they would regularly pop up on local news feeds on my Facebook page under titles like 'FOUND in the taxi rank' or 'this guinea pig was in our recycling bin this morning - anyone know it?' and I'd have to go and reclaim them but often people adopted them so that was kind of a novel way to rehome them) followed by my penning in all the remaining critters only for a stoat to get in one night….. The rest as they say is history.  As are the guinea pigs.   First time I've been without any in living memory and every time I take the leaves off a cauliflower and have nowhere useful to put them I get a little pang.

Eldest child knows even more about trains than he did last time I blogged and had a lovely holiday sat by the pool in his socks reading 'Railways Illustrated' before befriending a large cat which sadly resided in a bar called 'Striptease Discotech!' which ever more sadly was next to 'Beverly Hills Swingers Club!'.  This led to some interesting conversations about appropriate places to hang out with cats.  Or not.

Younger child is still so loud he breaks windows (well actually he broke a window at a Stately Home with a stone rather than his voice but we won't dwell on that mainly due to my highly mature response of 'holy fuck, RUN!!!  EVERYBODY RUN TO THE WOODS…..').   He's draped his socks over my tele in the hope of luring out Santa early and has taken to role playing a 'bee on fire that is crashing to earth and dying'.   Restful it is not.

My mum is an ongoing crisis - I'll will demonstrate this in a moment when I tell you the tale of the Stella and Mr Woody.

I'm single - by choice.  I could tell you many an entertaining story involving plants of love, golliwog gifts (I kid yeee not) and anal love beads (unopened but non-returnable) but that would be cruel so lets just leave it that I don't have time to be involved with anyone in a manner that involves any kind of energy.

My life is one going blur of 12.5 hour shifts, commuting, children, pets, logistical childcare nightmares and laughing so I don't cry.

And with that let me get back to my mother.

So on my birthday we went on a coach trip to the Sea Life Centre through a local charity.  It wasn't my actual birthday dream to return to the scene of Beaver Creek (see previous blog post) or in fact stare once again at various fish (although I do rather like the Garden Eels) but it was on, it filled a hole in the summer holidays and it happened to be on my birthday.

Things didn't get off to the best of starts.  Mother turned up late and we almost missed the coach.  She was shaking hard and appeared in the grip of terror.  God knows why - if anyone should have been shaking it was me as my  youngest child was in a hyperactive frenzy, had put a straw bag over his head and for reasons known only to him was shouting about Afghanistan.  Eldest child had a face like thunder and was repeatedly informing me that he hated sea creatures, it was windy (which he hates), there would be queues (intolerable), there would be no trains or in fact heavy industry of any type and the coach wasn't even going on the motorway so this was basically THE WORST DAY OF HIS LIFE.

Happy Bloody Birthday.

About half way there I asked mother if she had actually bought me a birthday present?  Oh she said appearing startled 'Happy Birthday darling!' and with that she whipped out a can of Strongbow from the bottom of her picnic hamper.

A can of Strongbow.
On coach trip for children with special needs.
At 10.30am.
As a birthday present.

Much as I was tempted to down it there and then I decided the day was probably going to get worse before it got better and I'd save it as long as I could.  Like a kind of watered down cyanide pill.

By lunchtime eldest child was kind of banging his head repeatedly against hard objects in abject distress over the endless parade of aquatic lifeforms so I decided we should all sit down in the Toddler Splashpool area and have lunch.

With this Mother, to my complete dismay, cracked open a can of Stella and without warning or explanation bellowed across the frisking semi-naked toddlers 'why HELLO MY WOODY!'.

The children, startled, looked to me for reassurance that I just could not give.

I'm sure my dad spun in his grave.

'Mother!' I demanded 'what ARE you doing!'.

'Talking to that Wood Pigeon darling! Look he's just over there with his fine lady wife!'.

And with that she shouted 'MY TOE HURTS BETTY!'.

People who had been nervously glancing after the Woody explosion were openly staring now.  Really staring.  Eldest child was just about self combusting with shame.

'MOTHER!!!' I demanded 'WHAT IS THIS!?'.

'It's the cry of the Wood Pigeon darling! MY TOE HURTS BETTY MY TOE HURTS BETTY MY TOE HURTS BETTY!'. (I've since googled this and it's recognised bird thing but still, that doesn't make it any better, or appropriate).

'Grandma!' exclaimed my eldest 'never in my life have I heard a bird say that!'.

'MY TOE HURTS BETTY!' Mother continued to yell 'waving her can of Stella aloft in rare moment of seemingly unbridled joy.

And with that I decided it was time to crack open my birthday can.

If you can't beat them then at least meet them half way.

Argh it's good to be back and debrief this shit.

Tomorrow I'll tell you all about the Naked Pedalo Incident.

Saturday 19 October 2013

Beaver Creek

Well I'm feeling very productive today, I have already made a curried parsnip soup (that tastes like actual farts) and a syrup sponge (that rose up to touch the top of the oven, turned black and promptly collapsed into a kind of a shuddering blob), so lets get blogging!  

Been away for a while and in my absense I have almost 300 items of Spam waiting to be approved (or not as the case will be).  I will certainly know where to go if I need a fake Louis Vitton handbag, a Calafornian Divorce Lawyer, raspberry ketones (??) or indeed 'natural cookery experiences in Vancouver' (oh yes,  I NEED THAT IN MY LIFE).  This offer though has left even my slightly left-field brain puzzled:

Narrow blood vessels lie alongside the intestines of the earthworm and they absorb the nutrients from the alimentary canal feeding the rest of the body. I believe my exact words were "I don't want to be your dirty little secret. The buccal cavity is a small cavity that has neither jaws nor teeth. Also visit my blog post - funny pub quiz


Hope everyone is well out there and survived the summer holidays.   I did - just.  More of that another day but lets just say the caravan holiday with my mum, both kids and 2 dogs involved actual blood, actual sweat, actual tears, a lot of rain water, a toxic jellyfish or two, several wasps and copius amounts of talcum powder.  And cider.  A lot of cider.  But we had a 'jolly good time' (that reminds me - must remember to reorder my psychiatric medication).

Today I'm going to concentrate on another day of the summer holidays  - the day that has come to be known as Beaver Creek.  The SINGLE most humilating day of my life.  And those of you that follow this blog will know that this really must mean it is very extremely hugely embarrassing.  For those of you that are on my Facebook it's old news - but hey, I'm sure you can cope with hearing it again (or maybe not).

Here goes.

This summer my ex-husband and I decided to do a day where we took a child each and gave them a day without their sibling indulging in their one true passion.   This was mainly to stop the one with Aspergers killing the extremely hyperactive loud one but I digress.   So he took the one with Aspergers to look at trains and engineering things and I took the extemely hyperactive loud one (quelle surprise) to the SeaLife Centre in Weymouth as he loves sea creatures (see, it makes sense).  

It was a lovely day and I was quite excited and about my big day out with my smallest child and I got dressed up in a lovely floaty summer dress, cork wedges and (this bit is relavent) a pair of knickers that happened to be those of French Short variety.

And off we went.

Half way through our day we came across the Crocodile Creek log flume ride.  Small boats (that hold 2 people) move slowly round on a lazy river and then climb up a steep incline and splash down the other side.   So we queued for the ride (god even typing this my palpitations are coming back).

To get on to the ride you have to jump in to the moving 'crocodile' boat from the platform.   I jumped in first - sort of squatting as there isn't really a proper seat and the bloody thing was ankle deep in freezing water and of course my bloody stubborn arsed child wouldn't follow...... He stayed on the platform noisly protesting as the crocodile sailed forth..... So, in a fit of desperation I grabbed him and dragged him in.... Only of course he freaked,  knocked me backwards into the boat so I was flat on my back with my legs spread wide and my knees bent.    He was firmly seated on my stomach/chest gripping on to my neck (presumably in terror but may have just been trying to finish me off) and in his mad scramble had managed to bring the floaty summer skirt of my dress up with him.

So I was sailing forth, away from the platform and around the sweeping bend, with my skirt WAY up over my knickers.

This was made infinitely worse by the fact that around 50 members of the general public were stood around the sweeping bend either queueing for the ride or taking photos or VIDEOING IT.

BUT (and this is the very very very worst bit) it was made infinitely worse by the fact that not only was my skirt hitched up, but the stupid French knickers (that look comfy BUT NEVER ARE) were not, how can I put this, sitting centrally.

No no my dears.  The entire gusset had moved from the area it is designed to cover and sharply to the left.  So that all the material was bunched in the crack between the upper reaches of my left thigh and, lets be frank here, my genitalia.  

So lets get this straight - I am pinned on my back and cannot (and boy was I struggling by this point) get the leverage to sit up as I have a heavy 6 year old child thrashing around and screaming on my chest/stomach.   I am sailing forth VERY SLOWLY towards a thronging mass of the general public including doting grandparents and fathers with video cameras and....... 

......and well my muff is on show.

I now understand the true meaning of the word hysteria - after a while I gave up struggling and just started to emit shrieks of sort of terrified laughter followed by small sobs.  I felt like I had gone out of my body and was watching a kind of ultra cringeworthy uncensored pornographic version of Mr Bean.   Where I am Mr Bean.  

Eventually I managed to right myself (and my knickers), the ride finished and I fled to a bench near the penguins where I continued to emit strange noises and sweat a lot.   Somewhere during this the strap holding my cork wedge snapped off, so I was also only wearing one shoe.  But let me tell you people THIS BARELY REGISTERED in comparison to  my shocked state and the fact that I was becoming increasingly aware that people would be going home and having conversations along the lines of 'you WILL NOT BELIEVE what we saw at the Sealife Centre today!' or, in fact, viewing video footage or photographs of their little darlings...... with my vaginal lips in the background.

As we left the attraction a lady at one of the stalls that flogs fridge magnets and the like of you 'enjoying' their rides with your family, stopped me and asked if I'd had any professional photographs taken that day.    No,  NO I hadn't I said before fleeing.

Nobody needs THAT on a fridge magnet.

We drove home and I promptly drank 2 bottles of wine in order to cope with the trauma.

The other child had a marvellous day out and nothing even slightly odd or embarrassing or weird or involving exposed genitalia happened at all.

No of course it bloody didn't.

Anyway I've told you now.  My shame is shared.  And if any of you were actually there and happen to have photographic evidence - please don't put it on the Internet.

Thank you.

Wednesday 31 July 2013

Lets go to the beach, beach.....

Ok so the holidays are here and, up until just about the time the kids broke up from school, we were experiencing a 'heat wave' (it's now a normal British summer where if you go out for the day you need to pack everything from Factor 50 to a full set of waterproofs and possibly some waders) but, whatever the weather, at this time of year many British families are propelled towards the beach.  

Now I go to the beach quite a lot.  I'm very lucky. I have a range of beaches about an hours drive away and for this I am highly blessed and make the most of them.   So I have quite a lot of beach experience.  

And by this I mean REAL beach experience.  I love the beach but I have what I would call 'realistic expectations' and looking around me on some beaches, at the amount of marital disharmony and general stress, I think it's time that I brought expectations down a little.   

The problem is many people are drawn to the beach with expectations derived via commercial propaganda in the form of advertising.   This has seeped into their sub-conscious and over-ridden their own, real, previous experiences.  

Back when I was a child, what you expected from the beach was some (if not all) of the following: 

- a long trip in a hot car with no air-con, a trip during which your thighs would become actively sealed with the car seat covers resulting in searing pain every time you moved. 
- a rug to sit on. 
- sandwiches full of sand even though the beach you were sitting on was usually made of pebbles or grit. 
- sandcastles
- horrific blisters from the jelly shoes that 'saved your feet' in the rock pools. 
- an ice-cream if you were very very lucky
- a go on the 2p slot machine thing if you were even luckier and it was a beach with 'facilities' 
- sunburn/windburn/hyper-thermia/delete as applicable.

But nowadays? 

Well people are shown images such as this: 

And this: 

And this: 

And this: 

and I think that for some of them this is what they sub-consciously hope for.  

Let me just give you a gentle reminder of what is wrong with these photos......

The top one - we will forgive her the flat stomach and lack of stretchmarks and instead focus on the fact  THERE IS NO SAND ON HER TOWEL.  This never actually happens.  Within minutes the whole thing is a sea of sand.   As is your bikini gusset and ear holes.  There is also nobody else sat near here.  In real life, as soon as she had cracked open that Kindle, 6 lads on the beers sporting horrific sunburn and playing some tinny music on an iPOD would have rocked up.  

The next one (which I stole from the The Celtic Sheepskin Company who do make very nice clothes yadda yadda yadda) is even more misleading as it makes out that your 'beach essentials' are a pair of flip flops and a nice cotton outfit.  THIS IS NOT THE CASE.  If you have children you will need about 30 others things too - mainly enough food so that you don't have to keep leaving the beach to source more.   However - be careful not to take the 'be prepared' thing a bit too far here.  I have noticed a recent trend for people to arrive at the beach and pretty much set up what appears to be a fully functional camp, complete with catering facilities and basic navigation systems.   This does seem to slightly defeat the object of going to the beach in the first place but hey, who am I to comment if you feel a 60ft square secured area is necessary for a bit of sunbathing,  a few sandcastles and a hot dog?  

The third one down - cheesy family in the sea.  Where do I start?  It won't be like this.  I've actually noticed that unless men are actively doing something on the beach (like surfing or trying to start a fire or drinking 8 cans of Stella before mid-day) they are not particularly good at it.  They don't like just sitting around.  This can lead to tensions.   I saw a magnificent example of this recently.  Couple with small child paddling in the sea..... words were had about how cold it was and her whinging about not wanting to go in.... more words were had..... she stalked off in a big humph.... he screamed the immortal words 'THAT'S IT, YOU JUST FUCK OFF BACK TO YOUR FUCKING PHONE AND YOUR FUCKING CANDY CRUSH'.  

Oh how I laughed.  

Happy holidays.  

Although shortly after that karma took me down when a large wave rolled me over, skidded me along the shingle and dumped me at the feet of a shocked looking man.   I subtly returned my left breast to my swimwear, rolled over as gracefully as possibly (i.e. not very gracefully) and crawled off in a nonchalant way which screamed of 'yeah, and of course I MEANT to do that'...... (whilst silently crying into my sand-encrusted beach towel).  

And finally the last picture.  Well where does one begin with this? Don't study the picture too hard, the 'dad's' teeth are so white they might blind you.  But the thing is that 'family' in the picture give you the false hope that a day at the beach is effortless.   And here's the thing.....unless you fly to the Maldives, Mauritius, the Caribbean or some such other place - this is VERY UNLIKELY TO HAPPEN IN THIS COUNTRY.  

What is more likely to happen in this country is this: 

This is a real life photo of a real life family (well two families.  Kind of) on a beach in Cornwall this year.  

That's right - it is not a refugee camp.  It is a day out on a British beach.  

The family is mine and my friend Emma's (Emma's the one who got drunk and bought something like 350 silver foil take-away cartons off Ebay, just 'because').  

We love this photo so much because a picture really does speak a thousand words.  

But I will add some words anyway.  

So first things first, our cars are parked behind the white building you can see on the far horizon.  About a mile away.  A mile is a long way with whinging children.  It's a fucking long way with 6 whinging children.  

The second thing is the actual sea is about a mile in front of us.  The tide is out.  Right out. 

The third thing is when we left our cars to search for the elusive sea it was beautiful sunshine.  

The fourth thing is that it is not now beautiful sunshine and a large cataclysmic storm is rolling in across the ocean.  

Note that we have no need for flip flops, beautiful cotton beachwear or fluffy beach towels. We have no need for Kindles, or Ray Bans or string bikinis.  Me may actually be in need of a deck chair or two but we could never have carried them there.   Our beach towels are those crumpled wet things covered in grit under the big bags.  The big bags are full of crisps and sandwiches - there was also cheese but we lost it in a battle with an over enthusiastic Golden Retriever.  

The child in the clashing outfit on the far left is my eldest son - the one with Aspergers - who looks happy enough counting waves and no doubt pondering the statistical risk of us all being hit by lightening.  Still - it should be said the same happiness level could be achieved by sticking him in a window which overlooks any reasonably busy highway.  

 The child sat on the rock has been to search for sea caves, in which we can shelter from the storm in order not to die. He has returned with the news that he has found one but it is quote:  'not family sized' so we are going to have to pick who we take and who we leave behind in the great lightening escape......

The woman in the purple hood is Emma and she's having strong words with one of her sons who is somewhat hysterical about the prospect that we are all about to die and is begging for a right to enter the sea cave. 

The one with the shovel is mine and probably plotting who to knock out with the shovel in order to secure a sea-cave ticket.  

The tallest child, holding some shoes, is a teenager and probably wishing he was at a foam party in Ibizia.  

Hell actually I'm taking the picture and I wish I was a foam party in Ibiza.......

I honestly can not for the life of me remember what happened after this photo was taken - but we are all still alive so it wasn't a lightening strike.   

And with that I'm off to stay on a British beach for a week with my mother, both kids and 2 dogs - in a small caravan.  

May the Lord have Mercy on us all.  

Thursday 25 July 2013

Notes from a Small Foggy Island

Erm hello (wanders shyly onto Internet blog-stage, staring at the footlights and hoping my skirt isn't tucked into my knickers). 

How are you all? 

Glad I came back - it appears I have 288 blog comments that need authorising.   No really.  Here's a typical example: 

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Did you get that Internet People? If you want to get 'matted up a fiddling to a greater extent' then you need PENIS ADVANTAGE PENIS ADVANTAGE PENIS ADVANTAGE.  And a 'manlike mate'.   Wow - not actually a man then, 'man like' will do......

Just imagine If I'd never come and shared that with you? You're lives would have been all the poorer.  


No really I'm glad I came back because it makes me sad when I don't blog - it makes me feel like something is missing, some weird connection, some part of who I am is gone and I'm failing.    So why don't I do it more often? If it feels good and it's free and it doesn't hurt you why don't you do it more? 

I can't really tell you - I can give you reasons, I can tell you that I'm so busy, so tired, that very often as soon as my children are upstairs I go to bed myself.  I can tell you that for a large chunk of my life I work for the NHS and talking about anything to do with that on a public forum could easily get me struck off - and quite rightly so - which makes me paranoid about everything less I slip up and end up in Daily Mail.  I can tell you that I feel oddly vulnerable and disjointed and like I just don't want to come out and play a lot of the time.  That I swing between fear and loathing, ecstasy and joy and very often just inhabit the safe ground of the island of exhaustion between the two.  

But all of those things are only part of the picture.  I think the bigger picture is that, like all general nutcases out there, I'm a failed perfectionist and thus my thinking goes along the lines of: 'must blog that - what a crazy day' (too tired to blog....) 'oh god I failed, I didn't blog, well there's no point carrying on now, everything is ruined, people will have given up me anyway.......'.... and so on into a spiral of self-defeated hatred repeating the same thought pattern day after day because you don't have the energy to do anything else.  

That looks ridiculous written down but I know there will be loads of you nodding along because you do it with other things - diaries and fitness plans and diets and keeping your house tidy and all the other best intentions which aren't really grounded in a reality suited to the real you.   If you aim for perfection all you will ever do is fail HARDER. 

So anyway I felt a bit crap and then yesterday I read something which kicked me up the arse.  

Ages and ages ago on the amazing blog that is Hyperbole and a Half there was an, in my opinion, timeless piece about depression: 

And then she never came back.  And I often wondered what happened next and it generally made me feel rather anxious and sad.  

And then 18 months or so later she came back with this (yes that was in May, but I've been under a rock since May so I only just noticed): 

And I read that last night. Then I re-read it 4 times this morning and it's just genius.  The bit about the dead fish.  Genius.   Sad but genius.  

And I thought if she can come back after 18 months of hell then why am I letting this little gap stop me forever?  Just because my mum used the May Bank Holiday to watch the snooker without my (dead) dad and drink so many Rusty Nails she fell down the stairs to be found a day later and escorted by me to hospital where she cried and wailed to a rather alarmed Triage Nurse..... 'it was Ronnie....Ronnie O'Sullivan! It was because of him! I fell........the snooker, my husband is dead, bloody good match, waaaaaaa, Ronnie, waaaaa'....  Well you can't let these little events stop you can you? Even if they do rather unsettle you.  

Once upon a time I wrote that grief is like a moth.  It waits on the wall in the corner of your peripheral vision, almost part of the furnishings but you do know the moth is there, even when you don't acknowledge it.  And then suddenly, now and again, it rises up, clattering and flapping into the light and right into your line of vision and there is no putting the moth to the back of your mind until the lights go out and it settles back to the corner where it came from.  

Well I think for some people the grief has never retreated to the moth stage.  They are stuck in it still being a fog. A thick dense black fog. It's never retreated to their peripheral vision.  It's what they wake up to BANG every morning and then try to grasp, but can't, as they struggle through the day, as it slips through their fingers and leaves them disorientated, scared and very often lost.  

And it's what they go to sleep to - what they breathe in and breathe out and what lies up against them in bed when there is no one else.  

I think for some people living like that is pretty much intolerable and the only way they get even a moment's respite is to drink.  But then all to soon the fog comes back denser and thicker and even more choking and the days merge into one long hopeless field of nightmares.   

And I think that's what my mother's grief is - between the days when the fog lifts a little and the warmth of the sun can briefly be felt - in the main that is what she lives with - a swirling sea of thick dark fog, lost and confused and utterly exhausted. 

And it is exasperating and infuriating and frightening to be amidst it - to be expected to step into the fog when all you've ever craved is sunshine and be there for the other person and it's easy to get lost in a world where you just sort of survive (again) and forget to take time to do things you enjoy, like blogging.  Or your fear that you have nothing worth saying and doubt you could ever write a decent blog again.   But then one day - like yesterday - something jolts you out of it and you find the strength to do it differently - to pick up and carry on........

So even though I've very tired and even though I'm rather irrational and even though I often find myself moribund with panic as my brain does this: 

'get dressed do hair boil kettle feed animals feed children clean up dog wee load car find those forms find some shoes charge phone remember to turn washing machine on  find bank card remember I need petrol what is the point of life what if someone else dies when is this going to get easier what if it never gets easier now what's the dog eaten why does the fridge smell when will I be able to buy a freezer have the kids spent too long on Minecraft did ALL the escaped  Guinea Pigs get eaten by that escaped ferret or are some still living wild is my mum lying at the bottom of her stairs what is my bank balance what shit have I bought off ebay how will my guttering ever get fixed we have no food but if I go to the supermarket I will have a panic attack, fuck it we can all life of brioche and apples... AGAIN WHY ARE THERE SO MANY BIGOTED IDIOTIC PEOPLE IN THE WORLD AND SO MUCH INEQUALITY AND WILL ANYONE EVER SORT IT OUT if I water the plants will it rain today thus making my actions pointless if I just drink tea all day and don't eat will that mean I'm back in control and that everything will turn out fine and everyone will be happy try not shout try not to damage anyone or anything breathe and breathe again'

about every 30 seconds, on repeat until I go to work and when I get back from work my brain does this

'ffffffzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz BED'

Even though I constantly get told I move mountains but only ever feel like I'm under them, even though I can't save anyone but feel like I at least have to try, even though all of these things, I need to get over the mental blocks and just write shit down. Because let me tell you - despite everything there is some bloody hilarious shit that goes down here.   And I have a duty to share it.  

And anyway, here comes the summer holidays........(raises mug of tea and prays for salvation or failing that PENIS ADVANTAGE).  

Love ya, 


Saturday 30 March 2013

Back to the Planet(s)

Woah - where have I been?

Gawd - I'm so sorry.  I don't really know.  I think I went into a kind of hibernation.

You know what I reckon?

Sometimes so much happens so fast in your life that you don't know where you live anymore.  But you just carry on and exist in this strange new world (like I have for the last few years).   And then one day it hits you that it wasn't all a dream or a nightmare or  a weird experiment or part of a plot - it's your actual life forever.   For better or worse and all that shit.

And whereas 'once upon a time' you had a life like THIS you now have a life like THIS.  And that might very well not be a bad thing at all.  BUT it might make you feel a bit weird and a bit vulnerable and it's winter and it's SO FREAKIN COLD DAY AFTER DAY and you never see daylight and you go out on placement in hospitals and live in the twilight world of 13 hours shifts (16 hours some days) and night shifts and then you get flu - proper flu where you lie in bed and think 'god if I was old I'd be dead by now' and then you get better and you go back to the twilight world and you life in a way where you have no time or energy for very much else but somewhere in the back of your mind is your blog and all the amazing and fantastic people who have stuck by your story for so many years and then guilt sets in ...... I need to write, I need to tell them..... but on you go falling through the days and thinking 'I'll do it tomorrow' when everything feels normal again.... but then you realise that you never actually feel normal and that's what this blog is actually about and who it's for - the people who get it - who never really feel quite 'normal'.   So you get your arse in gear and when you are supposed to be writing a 3000 essay you crank up itunes and get back to that thing you love - writing from your heart (rather than writing from 'Evidence Based Research' - excuse me while I fall into a pit of puff adders and think it more enlightening).

So here I am.....

I stuck at this blogging through thick and thin, for all those years, but I needed a break.  A break where I stopped telling a story and faced it.   And you know what? It's a wonderful story - I just hope it carries on being wonderful and uplifting and as hard and shitty and 'weep into a pillow and 5 pints of Strongbow' as it can be I hope it keeps opening doors in my mind and challenging and giving me this amazing ride. For better or worse.

So where were we were? Ah yes I think it was Christmas and I had a very long motorway built the length of my house by my eldest son.  Out of Lego you understand.  Not actual tarmac (yet).   I did manage to erect a Christmas tree around it - there were negotiations about the new route but I won my planning application.   The Christmas tree wasn't the most erect though and actually fell on my head whilst eating my dinner somewhere between Christmas and New Year.  There is a photo somewhere on Facebook to verify this - I'm seen peeking out beneath bauble lined branches and smiling grimly into a plate of turkey curry.  

And then it was Easter (as quick as that!?) and I tidied my whole goddam house (this is worth writing about as I don't think it's ever actually happened before on a real scale, only a 'sling stuff in the cupboards scale'  - let us call it the 'Innagrual tidy') yet within moments I have what is apparently 'The East Coast Mainline' built through it.  Complete with Lego constructed overhead power cables.   It even had a 'first train of the day' and 'last service to Edinburgh Waverley'.  All very marvellous but IT'S THE GROUND FLOOR OF MY GODDAM HOUSE.  

For those of you who don't quite get this, my oldest son as something called Aspergers syndrome.

 Aspergers is about being somewhere on the Autistic spectrum.   If you want to know the official line on this syndrome then Google it - I'm not sure what they say but what I say is that you are a different kind of normal.  You don't 'get' peer pressure.  You don't fall for advertising hype.  You don't give a shit about the 'latest craze'.  You still think Thomas the Tank Engine rocks at age 10 and you have huge admiration for Mr Bean.  You'd rather make something work properly or perfect a system than any kind of frivolous activity like making glitter pictures or doing crafty shit with bark rubbings (I long ago packed the 'children's craft activities' away in a cupboard marked 'fail' and let him get on with constructing the First Great Western rail network out of drinks straws whilst everyone else got pissed in the bar).

Biggest lesson of parenting I can give you?  Don't try and make a cat into a dog and vice versa.  Please.  Just don't.  

Now I've never spoken about my children's real names on this blog as I think they deserve their privacy as I write about my life so frankly it could all turn out jolly unfair (after all, they might not want their school mates knowing that mummy pissed in her jeans and that Grandma's springer spaniel ate Mummy's special rope.....) but we have a nickname for him - the Eggman  (because he had a head like an egg when he was born - obviously) and so I will now call him that from now on.  

His brother meanwhile is known (by EVERYONE) as Spuddy (can you guess why?? Yup head like a potato - good job I'm done at 2 or we'd be on to melon heads).  

Anyway back to the Eggman.

Those of you who have read this blog long and hard will know he has always occupied a somewhat other universe where he is resolutely sane and the rest of us are bonkers.  He likes structure and pylons and days out to nuclear power stations and motorways and maps and trains and is saving up to go to Hamburg.

Hamburg I hear you cry!? Yes Hamburg - home of the world's largest model railway - 'Wunderland' - oh the hours of that we have viewed on You Tube (yes the hours that cost me £89 because I had minimum data tariff... oh dear).

Other kids dream of Disneyland... maybe one day we will get to take a train to Hamburg.

The thing is I had never had a child before I had him.

How was I supposed to know that this wasn't 'normal'? I just thought the education system was inflexible and teachers are pushed into this shit because it presumes everyone learns in the same way and Ofsted is a pile of crap..... (oh hang on.... I might have a point there).  And I thought I was really bloody lucky because I had a kid who didn't want ££££ spent on him going to Alton Towers  - he wanted to drive down the M5 and view the 'at least 5 consecutive miles' of pylons stretching across the flat lands somewhere north of Junction 23.

I had a kid who breathed a sigh of relief at traffic jams and could stand on a bridge for 4 hours.  WAIT!!!! I HAD THE BEST KID EVER!! (Ok I'm ignoring the fact I'm often found screaming PUT YOUR SHOES ON BEFORE I KILL MYSELF or WE CAN NOT SPEND OUR WHOLE LIVES ON THIS GODDAM BRIDGE - MOVE!!!).

And then 'they' told me there was something 'wrong' with him.

'What are you doing Eggman?' said the paediatric consultant

'Building a motorway' said the Eggman from the floor (where he'd been for the whole hour long appointment)

'Where does it go?' enthused the paediatrician, filled with 'what kids like' jollity and enthusiasm

'Erm from that side of your room to the other side of your room' said the Eggman rolling his eyes and looking at the doctor like he was the one needing help.......

And I thought 'well the Eggman has a point and you know what I'm trying to cope with my whole life imploding and the fact that the rest of society finds it odd that my child can draw maps of everywhere he goes from an aerial point of view and loves pylons and trains and thinks jolly phonics is pointless frivolity and can direct you to Carlisle even though he's never been there but YET can't write a sentence you can read but GET OVER IT - on the scale of world problems this is not actually me and the Eggman's problem. Why do you hold writing higher than BEING FUCKING AWESOME?!?!'.

But as any parent of a child with different needs will tell you, the older they get, the more difference shows.  

I watch him walk into school - he hitches up his trousers so they are ALWAYS 2 inches higher than the top of his socks.  I don't actually know how he does it - it doesn't matter how long his trousers are he makes them look like crazy people's trousers (because I suppose they are 'crazy people's' trousers now..... and then he has his hood up (whatever the weather)... and then he asks a 9 year old if they want to play 'selling train tickets' and then a reception age child wrestles him to the floor and he looks up at them and raises an eyebrow and says 'just WHY would you do that? This is MOST unsatisfactory'.  

As more than one person has said to me 'he's like a smaller wilder looking version of Jack Dee'.

And let me tell you people - the world needs more smaller wilder looking versions of Jack Dee.

It could save us all.

And god I love him.  I think he's freakin brilliant.  I think he has the key to a better, less consumerist, non 'keeping up the Jones's' way of being where we aren't sold down a river of debt in the name of progress.......

But anyway back to Easter.  Where according to the Eggman Jesus was killed by an Inter-City 125 (followed by much chortling at the sheer hilarity of such a concept) and for those of you who still need to know more about Aspergers here is a real life Easter-themed practice based learning exercise provided to you courtesy of The Eggman:

A class of school children are told they will all being getting a real life chocolate egg once they have designed a box for it - they can design ANY BOX THEY LIKE!!  Think of the possibilities!! Think of the creativity!!! Think of fun you can have!!!!

So the class get to work....they make dog kennels and JCB buckets and nests and Justin Bieber's thong (ok I made that one up but you get my point....someone probably did)...

...and one boy made a box.

Just an egg sized  box.

A box with a best-before date and a weight and a bar code and ingredients list.

And when asked why he didn't do 'more' he simply stated that somebody else had already designed the perfect Easter Egg box - it fitted just right onto supermarket shelves and into lorries and complied with the law.  So what on earth were the school playing at making them waste time on this nonsense?

And I'd like to publicly thank the amazing Sian (you know who you are) who told me ages ago that I'd need to change his school and gave me the boost to actually do it and put him in a place where they GET his awesomeness.  And don't just say 'your child is like a Sloth'.  

I spent all those years unknowingly having my vision of childhood deconstructed... and I built a new one around the amazing planet Aspergers but I didn't know it had a name and I didn't know that society didn't think it was 'normal'.  I thought it was just the way it was........ which in the Eggman's case it is...... and then I got given another child...... a child who I never tried to do 'normal' stuff with.... because I thought it was all a con!! And then the other child (the one with a head like a Spud) got madder and madder and the official people told me the original child was 'different' and I thought 'ahhhh so THIS is a normal child!! The one I thought was bonkers!!!'.  But by that point the 'normal' one wasn't being quite so normal anymore.... if he ever was goddam normal......

And then the Childminder said 'have you ever considered that your Spud child has ADHD because I've never come across a child more boisterous and crazy and risk loving and bloody MOTOR MOUTHED before - he is incredibly hard work.  You do know that don't you?'.    No I thought - I didn't - I just thought that being a parent is incredibly hard work (because it is!).

And  then I thought 'oh shit, don't tell me the one I thought was bonkers and was then persuaded was normal is actually bonkers after all? Just LET ME REST!'.

But then as several people have pointed out..... he's not got a 'disorder' love, it's just that YOU'RE his mother. Whether he does or not he's who he is and he is also frikkin awesome (at this point I'll leave aside the bit where I said to my mum 'Jesus - for the way this whole child raising shebang is going I may as well have kept on drinking and taken up Crack for the way these two have turned out).

And Amen to that.

And all the people who don't fit the box.

And to all the people who embrace the way of being we have inside our head as good enough.  

And to all the people that challenge society with regards to it's values of what is 'a good life' or what 'adds value'.

The world would be a far poorer place without people who gain pleasure in staring at rows of pylons.

If you don't believe me then you are missing out.

Life would be freakin dull if they didn't exist.

Thursday 20 December 2012

Welcome Back to My Life

Which is as normal as ever.  (Laughs bitterly but wouldn't have it any other way. Probably).

Sorry I've been gone so long - I'm fine, I've just had loads and loads on, been very exhausted, had to have the MMR vaccine which, joy of joys, made my arm swell up like I'd been bitten by a venomous snake and made me feel awful.  The kind of awful where you have to sleep on the sofa because if you roll over in bed and the duvet touches your arm, you cry..... Needless to say I wasn't allowed the next instalment, with medical opinion being it would probably result in my arm dropping off (maybe), so that particular whole exercise of pain was somewhat pointless. And... well and I've just felt quite odd.  I don't mean like depressed or anything - far from it (I say as someone with an all too up close and personal relationship with depression) but just kind of 'weird'.  Like even more in a parallel universe that normal.  Like my life was/is so kind of surreal I couldn't find the energy to talk about it.  As someone who normally loves to share it this was quite odd and not very welcome.

But last night, again, my kids had me roaring with laughter and shaking my head at the same time and I thought 'get back in the ring girl, you gotta share this insanity!'.

So here is the last 17 or so hours in my life for your digestion:

So yesterday I broke up for Christmas (well I didn't really but today I've made the 'informed decision' not to attend what I'm supposed to attend today).  I'd been struggling with a migraine all day and was kindly dealt some prescription strength codeine by a fellow sufferer.

If I felt other worldly and somewhat messed up before I took the codeine....Well afterwards I was flying.  My eyes were kind of half shut and I kept forgetting what I saying half way through words.

And it was in this state I rocked up to collect my little darlings.

As we emerged from the school gates, me clutching a Darth Vader lunch box and screeching 'carry your own coat if you're not gonna wear it' I noticed that, bad timing or what, a funeral was taking place in the church right next door.   They were in fact, right at that moment, unloading the coffin.

Right on cue, eldest child (the train nut Aspergers one) stops and announces...

'Oh wow LOOK - one of those extraordinary vehicles they use to carry those special wardrobes they put dead people in'.

GROUND. SWALLOW ME NOW (and what's with the wardrobe analogy son??).

'It's called a hearse, a hearse, now COME ON' (dragging his curious brain away from scene of mourning).

Youngest child (lunatic, doesn't have Aspergers, does have obsession with dead things/death etc etc) pipes up...

 'WHAT!?  WHAT!? There is a REAL LIFE DEAD PERSON in there!? For like actual real life!? DEAD!!?'.

Me:  MOVE, NOW (drag children down street in an un-gentle manner).

Get home.  Answer a lot of questions about death and wardrobes.  Go to my friend's house for 'Sausage Wednesday' (this is what happens when it's Wednesday and we all have sausages).  Eat enough almond thins to kill a man.  She burns chips and desiccates sausages.  We laugh. Children describe food as gross (well my eldest describes it as 'somewhat over-done') and sate their nutritional needs with icecream and Haribo (well it's nearly Christmas - apparently).

Get home from friend's house.  On journey purchase a scratch card (I don't know why - blame the codeine giving me a feeling of being intensely blessed)  and win £5. Spend £4 of this on a 4 pack of Stella.

Truly believe I AM intensely blessed.

Get home and decide  that as it's the end of term (for me) and I've feeling jolly to crack open the Stella.

Find out that if codeine messes you up, codeine and Stella is a whole new planetary plane.

Have row with eldest about TV viewing.  I do not want to spend my evening watching 'The Great Trains of Europe' or indeed a documentary about the history of lawnmower development.

Youngest child announces I have to take chocolate cakes to school tomorrow for their party day, as my name is on a list somewhere, but whatever I do I mustn't put nuts in them or 'somebody will die' (this is ever since my kids joined the school after everyone else and the school forgot to inform me they have a serious nut allergy problem.....  I sent the younger one in with peanut butter sandwiches causing a mass panic and exclusion zone situation.  What can I say - you live and learn).

I get kids to bed (somehow) and end up making (non-nutty) Rocky Road whilst dancing round the kitchen to old-skool Prodigy wearing fluffy boots and flying on a codeine-Stella Christmas trip.

The cakes turn out surprisingly well.

Decide to take today off to recover from migraine (and, erm, Stella) as it will do me the power of good....

Wake up to find....

1. 5 year old asleep next to me having somehow entered my domain and stolen an entire King-size duvet

2. A 3 foot stuffed Iggle Piggle staring into my eyes.  If you've never experienced this - it will shit you right up.

3. A cat ON MY ARSE kneading it as if it's its furry cat mother's milky bosom (this says rather too much about the pillow like qualities of my arse, although I can assure you it is NOT furry).

4. A naked 8 year old, sat cross legged next to the bed, holding my charging i-phone and muttering sweet nothings to You Tube videos of freight trains leaving Crewe.

5. The crumbs of some Rocky Road all over the pillow.

Immediately regret deciding to take day off.

Somehow get everyone downstairs and whilst making lunch boxes, cutting up cake, putting on make up la la la etc etc etc, eldest child decides to build a frickin German Autobahn the ENTIRE WAY through the ground floor of my house.

This will be the house I need to drag a Christmas tree through as some point and, err, live in.

He solemnly declares that the road system absolutely 100% MUST still be there on Christmas Eve for Father Christmas to see.

I can assure 100% that is won't be but, for today, it lives.

You think I exaggerate?

Here it is sweeping across the lounge floor (see that bay window - that's where the sodding tree needs to be erected)....

And into the dining room (excuse the woodworm)......

And into the kitchen......

It then enters the bathroom but I don't think you need to see any more (or my dirty smalls all over the floor) to know what it looks like.  

These three pictures do quite a good job of summarising the dichotomy of my life.  The kind of chaos that comes from obsessive order.  Sigh.  

I then have to get the buggers out the house, during which youngest child drags his goddam coat, THROUGH the autobahn.    The obsessively ordered autobahn.


Eldest child can not physically leave house until it's all put back exactly as it was.

Youngest child can not physically leave house because he's been slam dunked into the shoe cupboard with a roar of primal 'you've just fucked up my motorway' rage.

I'm just standing outside trying not to beat my head off the wheelie bin by this point, shouting 'MOVE, JUST MOVE OUT OF THE FRONT DOOR, NOW, OR I WILL RUN AWAY AND LEAVE YOU ALL' (well not the last bit - don't want the neighbours to get false hope....).

Get to school wild eyed and wishing I was sat in rush hour traffic somewhere near Bristol.

Eldest child remembers it's Talent Show Day (I'm informed that in honour of Jesus's birth a number of children will be performing 'Gangman Style').

The one thing he hates more than choirs and church is talent shows.  Even though he will not even be watching the darn thing (he will be sat reading a book about trains I imagine) it sends him into a frenzied fit of anxiety.  I think the very thought of organised 'fun' is enough to finish him off.

I walk back from the school making a promise to buy all those who work with my children a bottle of wine for Christmas and to get back to blogging......