Wednesday, 31 August 2016


After a humdrum sort of Tuesday (that day after the Bank Holiday weekend when you really wish that you'd booked the Tuesday off too) it was lovely to hear from my best friend Mrs S. 

'Come to the pub', she said. 
'Your husband's had a rotten day', she said.
'It's a lovely evening', she said
'He's on his way to collect you', she said.
...and then the final dagger to the heart....'You're driving him home'.

Well, I couldn't say no could I?  Not that I would have anyway, as any time spent with Mrs S is wonderful, but I was slightly concerned about the chicken and potatoes which I had prepared for a sneaky Tuesday roast.  Now I know how these kind of impromptu evenings can go, so I decided that I wouldn't throw the chicken in the oven, and assume we would be back in an hour.  Sensible decision as it happened.

Two hours later, we were still sitting outside the pub.  The husband was on this third pint (he'll regret that in the morning) and I was overflowing with lime and soda and posh crisps.  Son number one just happened to drive past the pub where we were, and seeing the husband's hi-vis t-shirt, slowed down just long enough to shout that he was going to rugby, and that he'd be home for dinner later.  Dinner?  This was looking more and more unlikely as time went on.

Fast forward another hour, and Mrs S's mobile rings.  It was her son, who had returned home to an empty house.  There were no lights on and no dinner.

'Where are you?' he demanded.

'In the pub', confessed Mrs S. 

'Why are you laughing?' asked the whippersnapper.

Well I think that I would challenge anyone not to laugh uncontrollably after three large glasses of Pinot on an empty stomach, but suitably admonished, Mrs S decided that she probably ought to go home.

It was just at this time, that my mobile went off.  It was son number one.

'Where are you?' he asked

'Still in the pub', I said.  'Dad wants a kebab on the way home, do you want one too?'

Tuesday night was rapidly turning into a Friday night, so with orders taken, we headed off to the kebab van. Walking back into the house, I almost expected son number one to look at his watch, and ask 'and what time do you call this?' But he didn't.  He simply rolled his eyes and carried on tapping away on his laptop.

But this is one of the funnier things about growing older.  All of a sudden, it's us who are out too late, us who haven't cooked dinner and best of all, us who aren't being responsible adults.

And boy, does that feel great....

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Memories are made of this...

So yesterday was the day.  The day when I went into daughter number two's bedroom to sort out what stayed and what went now she has officially moved out.  You may remember that I said she was just a child of ten when we moved in, so colouring books sat side by side with false eyelashes, and cuddly toys clashed with six inch platform shoes.

It was like watching a whole life walk slowly past me, saying 'Remember this, mum?' I had promised myself I wouldn't cry, because memories are lovely and need to be nurtured, and there was only one thing which caused the tears to break free - more of that later.  But let's get back to the treasures I found yesterday.

£2.74  - always a bonus when clearing your children's rooms.  No folding stuff unfortunately, but there was some Euro shrapnel and some rather odd Hungarian coins

Three pairs of my tweezers - none of which was in any working order, however much bending I did (where's Uri Geller when you need him?)

Four pairs of nail scissors, and two pairs of my kitchen scissors (I struggled to remember whether she had a crush on Edward Scissorhands, as that might have explained all the scissors)

Enough felt tipped pens to keep a primary school going till 2019

My right flip flop.  This resulted in a rather large whoop of joy, but was swiftly replaced by resignation when I remembered that the left one had been in my wardrobe for the last six months, awaiting its partner to turn up.  Giving up on any reconciliation on the flip flops last week, I had thrown the left one away.

Two blouses and a pair of jeans which went missing from my wardrobe circa 2013, but at least she had the decency not to take them with her.  I also rehoused one of her blouses in my wardrobe.

A teaspoon and a fork, harbouring their own micro-culture.  These went straight into the bin as even my OCD cleaning wouldn't have guaranteed that the rest of us would be safe from salmonella poisoning.

Five of those Maths sets which kids always take into school on their last day - none of which were complete.  I did start trying to get a couple of complete sets, and then remembered that none of my kids will ever need these again (that nearly started me off).

But it was the letter that I found which sums up my girl.  Folded up neatly in its envelope, was a letter from my Nanny Joyce, sent to daughter number two in her first weeks away at university.  She was writing to her to say thank you for her letter, and that she hoped she was settling in to her new life.  Money had also been sent, as Nanny hoped it would help with her expenses.  And that's what finished me off.  It reminded me how much I miss my nanny, and also how much I am going to miss my girl now she's gone. 

But I suppose that this is a mother's lot in life. 

You give birth to them, raise them, listen to the tantrums and wipe away the tears.  You bandage knees, and listen to badly played instruments with a smile on your face, and stand in the rain while they play netball.  You laugh with them, shout at them and build Lego zoo after Lego zoo, never complaining.

And then they bugger off to their exciting new life, leaving you with seven black bags of rubbish and a right flip flop.

Such is life...

Monday, 29 August 2016

Take the money and run...

Well yesterday proved to be quite an unexpected joy.  The husband, who has come to the conclusion that as we are now of a certain age, there are events which we are duty bound to attend, suggested a local craft fair.  My first thought was 'Do I really need another wooden bowl?' but sympathy for his little face won the day, and we headed down to Henley in the morning. 

As my purse had been emptied yet again without me realising it (Chinese takeaway more than likely), we stopped at the cashpoint to give my bank account another hammering.  It was raining naturally, and the husband and I had no umbrella, jackets or waterproof shoes on, preferring to throw caution to the wind in August.

Fast forward four and half hours, and you find the two us waddling back across the grass to the car, laden with carrier bags whilst trying to drink a yoghurt milkshake through a paper straw without spilling it.  I had lost any circulation in my right arm by the time we got back to the car, and the husband was listing dangerously to one side. 

This was because we had fallen in love with the Pie Man, and had liberated £30 from my purse on six large pies for the freezer. We had also bought three types of cheese.  Now I don't eat cheese - I was just after some strong Cheddar to disguise Percy's medicine for his gimpy leg.  All other methods had failed, and the strong cheese was my last hope.  But of course, when somebody tells you that its '3 for £10', you just have to buy another two cheeses, whether you want them or not.

There were chocolate brownies for the kids, a couple of Christmas gifts, one pork pie, a leather bracelet (a present for me from the husband, who is obviously working up courage to ask me something...probably involving skis or a bike), fudge (two types) and some very gooey flapjack.  All this and the entrance fee had cost us just short of £200. 

Walking back into the house, son number one shouted up to son number two that we had been spending their inheritance again.  Notwithstanding his views on our decadent spending, he was more than happy to eat my pork pie...

The day ended with a family meal in a local Spanish restaurant, the owner of which is a long time family friend.  Mrs Jangles clearly has a small soft spot for the owner, and when we left, there was no dragging her off him.

As I said to Miss R as we waited for the clinch to come to its inevitable end,

'Who doesn't love a randy old Spaniard on a Sunday night?'

For once, she had no answer.

I have to say, that was more of a shock than the price of the pork pie...

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Bye bye love...

Daughter number two officially left the building yesterday morning.  She is the first of our brood to go properly.  By this, I mean that it's unlikely that she will sleep in her bed here for more than one night at a time.

This is quite a scary thought.  When I look at her, all I can see is my little girl.  How on earth can it be that she is living in her own house and holding down a great job?  It only seems like yesterday that I was watching her in school productions and plaiting her hair, and all of a sudden, it's changed.

It won't be easy having her live so far away.  I am so used to her borrowing my clothes on a regular basis, and I can't imagine that she'll do the 105 mile round trip to nick my jumpers/shoes/dresses etc.  Having said that, maybe it would have been a good idea to check her suitcases before she left.  Perhaps she has pre-empted what she'll be needing over the next three months and 'borrowed' accordingly.

This works both ways of course, as I have been known to borrow stuff from her too.  Not on the scale of her snafflings, but the odd hair grip or hairspray has been useful now and again.  I have also been known to delve into her fancy dress bag - this was left over from raucous Fresher nights, and although there is a lot of variety in the bag, most of it would be unseemly on a woman of advanced years, which is probably why my choices were limited to a pair of cat's ears and a tail. 

Having said this, son number two might find some of it handy when he goes off to university next month - I can picture him in that nurse's uniform with his size 13 feet, and the hula skirt might be useful too.  He's never afraid to experiment, that one.

So the balance in the house has shifted once again.  The males have taken over as the dominant sex, which means that when the vote comes as to television programmes, something featuring one ball (Match of the Day) or six balls (Top Gear)  will always win over programmes involving baking, people from Essex, anything with Paul Grady in it, or Neighbours. 

Once sons one and two head off to their universities, it will leave me, the husband and daughter number one in residence, I would imagine that our evening viewing choices may shift somewhat then.

Going back to daughter number two's migration north, I will have to go into her discarded bedroom, and work out what is staying, and what is not.

Just not yet...

Friday, 26 August 2016

Shop around...

So the Big Day Off dawned bright and sunny.  The headache which has been hammering away at me for a week had subsided to a dull roar, so it was a great start to the day for me.

I didn't want to waste my day, and by 9.30am I had done the week's shopping, had a coffee in a local café and sold a wheelie bin to the man on the fruit and veg market stall (don't ask).

Miss R, who also had a day off was tipping up round about 10.30 to spend the day with me, and had offered to bring lunch.  I got a bit carried away in Waitrose, and returning home with the many bags of shopping it became apparent that it wasn't all going to fit in the fridge.  I tried, and it was a bit like playing Food Jenga...move the cheese too quickly and all the yoghurts end up on the floor taking salad and a carton of beetroot with them.

But not to worry.  Son number two was at the fridge so quickly (obviously waiting at a safe distance while I unpacked the whole lot) that I wondered for a moment if I had forgotten to feed him last night.  Within five minutes, he had used up half a roast chicken and a whole small loaf for his packed lunch.  Son number two waited till all this had been cleared away, and then sauntered in to the kitchen looking for breakfast.  It was at this point that I completely gave up trying to get a clean worktop anywhere, and headed off to the garden.

And then Miss R turned up.  She was armed with carrier bags too.  Now I know she always brings goodies for the children, and I also knew she was bringing lunch for us.  What I wasn't expecting was that she was going to do a week's shop for me while she was in Waitrose.   It would appear that while I was pushing my trolley around the Wallingford Waitrose, she was doing the same in the Marlow branch. 

What was very strange, was that we had bought almost a mirror image of each other's trolley, right down to the fruity couscous.  She somehow got all of her extra stuff into my fridge - it's all wedged in so tightly now, that I don't think anyone will be able to prise anything out again. 

We spent the day in the sun, rolling over every hour or so like a couple of chipolatas on a barbeque, basting ourselves with suntan cream on a regular basis. Chattering and nattering like a couple of old biddies, in between eating, drinking and snoozing.  It was perfect.

Just one of those days spent doing nothing with someone who means everything.

Back together...

I have come to the conclusion that making any attempt at cleaning my house is pointless, as soon as I have more than one child in it. 

It's been just son number two for the last week.  Admittedly, where he is, so is his BFF (she's no trouble and on occasion is more welcome in this house than son number two) but even so, I have managed to keep on top of all the cleaning and ironing.  The house is relatively tidy, and once I brought down the fourteen glasses, six plates and a half empty can of coke from his bedroom, I was feeling that everything was where it should be.

Son number one is now back in residence.  When he is home there are several things that I can count on...

Firstly, he always leaves the bathroom cabinet door open. I always find this slightly odd as he has to open it to get his toothbrush out.  Perhaps he has a door phobia - maybe I'll remove the door and then he can have an open-plan cabinet.  Might work...

The other thing I can rely on is that there will be washing everywhere.  Yesterday I walked into the utility room, and managed to head-butt a rather loud pair of Thai shorts.  This is because son number one likes to tie the overhead airer up at the first knot, which means that you have to battle through low slung washing to get to the washing machine.  He also hangs his shirts on hangers which are then hung on the airer- the cuffs tend to drag on the floor they're so low, so the first thing I did yesterday was hoist it high.  At least I could now make out the sink.

And then there's the food in the fridge.  Last night's dinner was eaten as a pre-lunch snack, and he tends to work through the fridge a shelf at a time.  Chicken breasts and other cold meats have a life expectancy of about fourteen minutes when he is at home, and we get through more eggs than the World Record Holder for Omelette Eating. 

But there must be positives, I hear you say.  Of course there are.  He's happy to walk the dogs when his leg doesn't hurt/he's got the right shoes/he wants to,  and he will empty the dishwasher (assuming it was put on when it was full after his last food session).

All joking apart, it's lovely to have him home again.  These moments of having them here are getting fewer and further apart and in a matter of weeks, they will all be gone.

Now remind me, where did I put that bunting?

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Monster mash...

Son number one has returned from somewhere in Asia, sporting a rather unusual pair of shorts which wouldn't look out of place in Bangkok, but here?  Well he just looks like someone who has escaped from some type of institution, and not in a good way either. 

The conversation invariably turned to his dirty clothes.  He had been really well organised, and had taken a carrier bag so that he could separate the dirty clothes from the clean when he came back. Now there was only one bag of clothing, so either he wore every single item, or he took all the dirty stuff to a laundrette out there, anticipating the fact that I have a day off on Friday and won't want to be messing about with washing.  I'll give you one guess as to which way this went.  Needless to say, I will be adding a third load of washing to my list of 'Things to Do' on my day off.

Son number two hit IKEA today.  He and the BFF had gone down with the intent of buying everything he would need in his new student home (I would have thought that a blow up mattress, a year's worth of Resolve and the local takeaway's menu would have been enough, but apparently not).  He had a long, well thought out list of things to buy.  This was left on the table of the first place they stopped for a coffee, and son number two, having the short term memory of a goldfish could remember nothing.

He came back home with a hanging rail, a bedside table and a mirror - these are the three things that I had already put aside for him.  Of course, he remembered the really important stuff and managed a bowl of meatballs. I mean, it's the law to have these on your first visit, isn't it?

The whole IKEA shopping system has passed him by.  He is used to John Lewis, where polite staff help you choose the right item, wrap it beautifully and then bring it to your car.  What he hadn't anticipated was wandering round room after room, pointing at various things, and saying 'That's nice', and then being left alone in a giant warehouse to look for his stuff himself.  Perhaps that's why he came back with so little - the three things he bought must have all been at the front by the plants.

Going back to son number two, he had requested sausage and mash for dinner after eating noodles for a month.  I cooked thirty sausages, thinking that that would be enough to have some left over to make the husband a sausage sandwich for his lunch today.  How naïve I was....

The returned traveller managed twelve on his own, claiming that he had not tasted proper food for a month.  Of course, when you have no competition other than a bug infested breakfast or slimy noodles and rice, anything I did would have been spectacular.

As he went back for sausages 10, 11 and 12, son number one looked up and said,

'Blimey, you do miss those Thai women don't you'.

Nervous laughter all round and a rapid change of subject...

There's more to this, I'm sure...

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Lazy day...

I have asked for a day off work on Friday.  The thing that makes this slightly more special is that it doesn't form part of a holiday away with the husband.  It's not a day dedicated to taking children to look at houses or universities, nor will it be spent at the vets with one or other of out four legged fuzzballs.

This Friday is a day off for me, and me alone.  I have planned this day in my head, and here is how I hope it will pan out.

6.30am The husband will bring me a cup of tea in bed, having walked and fed the dogs
8.00am  I will get up and make myself a leisurely breakfast, which I will eat in the sunshine
9.00am Get changed into shorts (Going to be a scorcher on Friday)
10.00am Sunbathe in the garden
1.00pm Time for a lovely homemade salad, eaten in the sunshine with a freshly made fruit juice
3.00pm More sunbathing
5.00pm A lovely walk with the dogs in the woods
7.00pm  Husband returns, and surprises me with table booked at swanky pub for dinner.

In reality, I think we all know what will really happen...

6.00am Get up, make own cup of tea
6.30am Walk the dogs (husband has implied that as I am not working I can do it instead of him)
7.30am Put first load of washing on
7.45am Eat cold toast while making son number two packed lunch (while he has hot toast and oversees sandwich making)
8.15am Put dishwasher on, tidy kitchen
9.15am Hang out washing
9.24am Put on second load of washing (mainly retrieved from son number two's bedroom floor)
9.27am Get changed into shorts (Still going to be a scorcher on Friday)
10.15am Sit in deckchair
10.17am Loud buzzing heralds end of dishwasher cycle
10.18am Get out of deckchair and unload dishwasher
10.23am Back into deckchair
10.54am Loud buzzing heralds end of second wash
10.55am Try to ignore buzzing, but it is insistent
10.56am Get out of deckchair and hang out second load
11.10am Back into deckchair where I will remain for approximately one hour unmolested by buzzers
12.30pm. Lunch (Lettuce is limp and son number two has eaten all the chicken, so will settle for a bowl of cornflakes and another cup of tea)
1.30pm Walk dogs again as driving me mad
3.00pm Back into deckchair
3.08pm Guilt gets the better of me, so get out of deckchair and set up ironing board
5.00pm Finish ironing and put everyone's clothes away
5.10pm Husband comes home early as a surprise
5.12pm Husband asks what's for dinner....
5.13pm Deep sigh from me
5.14pm Husband says something along the lines of 'what have you been doing all day'

All of a sudden, work is looking rather an attractive alternative on Friday...

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Kick in the teeth...

Yesterday was spent in one of my absolutely favourite positions.  On my back, with my mouth wide open, while a relative stranger shoved weapons of torture and suction pipes in, hoping to remedy a small tooth problem.  Yes, I was at the dentist.  Deep joy...

Over the years, I have had numerous times where I could gladly have thumped my dentist.  Someone once told me that carrying a small revolver was insurance against them hurting me.  I haven't tried this as yet, but the last time I was in, my dentist said 'This little prick won't hurt'.  'Yes you will', I replied.  'You always do'. 

Here's the thing though.  It only takes one bad experience to cement the opinion that all dentists are sadomasochists, who probably take all their drills home at night to practise on whoever chances to pass by.  I just picture Steve Martin in full Little Shop of Horrors mode, rocking the nitrous-oxide.  No wonder I am a 'Nervous Patient' (this is what it says on my notes).

Over the years, I have had more injections that I could count, temporary crowns which have fallen out (one was swallowed when coming down a water slide, never to be seen again..from either end).  These leave gaping holes, making me look like old man Steptoe, and the ones that stayed in my mouth could have lit up a whole street they were so bright. I always had to avoid the discos with the ultra-violet night when I had these in as it tended to scare the boys off somewhat. 

So it was with a nervous, buttock-clenching walk that took me back to my new dentist yesterday.  I saw him a couple of weeks ago about a filling which had fallen out.  He sat there studying my x-rays, frowning.  'Do you know that you only have one un-crowned tooth in your mouth?' he asked. 

Trying my best not to be sarcastic, I replied, 'Why yes.  I was there when they were done...'  He almost fell off the chair laughing, and I thought to myself, 'Now here's someone I could come back to...'

So return I did, and I have to admit that it was the most pain free dental trip I have ever had.  I'm not sure what drugs he was using, but after I left there, I headed into Waitrose for some shopping.  Bumping into my lovely friend Mrs N, I explained to her why I was talking like Marlon Brando out of the Godfather, and that for the life of me, I couldn't remember why I was there.

This might explain why dinner last night was a concoction of Thai fish, salad potatoes, coleslaw and a chip butty (this was for my harnessed Northerner of a husband).  Son number two and the BFF, still scavenging for food, took one look and headed down to the chippy for 'real food'.

The husband, too afraid to question my dilated pupils, ate in silence....

Sensible man...

Monday, 22 August 2016

Go your own way...

Summer took a well-earned day off yesterday.  Well, let's face it, four days of sunshine can be a tiring thing to sustain can't it?

To celebrate the return of the torrential rain and single digit temperatures, the husband and I met up with the mother for a roast dinner.  Not at her house, of course.  This is something that simply doesn't happen anymore.  For some reason, around August 2007 the mother decided that cooking roast dinners for her ever increasing family just wasn't her thing anymore. 

There have been various excuses over the years.  The first one was that her kitchen wasn't big enough to house us all.  We offered to do separate sittings, dining at 12.00, 1.00 and 2.00, but that suggestion wasn't received well. I think that three sittings of cauliflower cheese coupled with her OCD would just about have tipped her over the edge. Then she moved house, and we all thought, 'This is it....'.  Well no, it wasn't. 

Apparently, the table which sits in the substantially more spacious kitchen is not big enough now.  I do have vague memories of a very large kitchen table at one of her previous residences, but I have a strong suspicion that it was sold, thus removing the ability to sit us all down together ever again.  Definitely an ulterior motive in that sale I think. 

So we convened in the local pub.  I say 'pub' but it's very small, and it's more like sitting in someone's front room with several other strangers while you have a meal on your lap.  Son number two and his BFF tagged along - anything for a free roast dinner (I think the two of them are stocking up like pre-hibernation hamsters before they head off to their universities).

The journey to the pub should have taken twenty minutes.  You may remember I spoke yesterday about the husband's new glasses?  Well these were given their first test drive today, and the journey took thirty five minutes.

The husband claimed that he had decided to take the scenic route.

I am more inclined to offer up the reason of 'lost'...

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Suddenly I see...

The husband has new glasses.  Now this is nothing unusual in itself, as he has been peering through reading glasses for some time now.  But these are different, in that they cover every base.  Near and far, he can see it all.  The trouble is, they are so big that I can't see much of him anymore.  I suppose it's something I will have to get used to, in the same way that he has to get used to me not having a waistline anymore or the fact that my boobs point more towards the south west rather than north east.

Getting older is no fun at all.  I remember laughing with a much older friend some years ago about how if it didn't head south, wear out, shrink or drop off, it would simply stop working.  I suppose that is where we are now, the husband and me.

But good things happen too of course.  With a shrinking bosom comes the thrill of not having to wear a bra all the bloody time.  Who invented these instruments of torture?  A bloke I'm sure, as there is nothing similar in a man's wardrobe.  I suppose he would need a paid of padded boxers with a discreetly positioned metal splint to achieve the same reaction from a woman that certain bras are meant to draw from a man...

But that's never going to happen is it? 

They also don't have vacuum knickers.  You know the ones, which when you take them out of the packet measure about 4" square, and you look at them in disbelief, quickly checking the size on the packet to make sure that you picked the right size up.  Lo and behold, they are the right size, deep breath, sucking in stomach (has to help) and pull them on.  I say, 'pull them on', but this implies one smooth movement.  I don't know about you, but it has taken up to seven attempts to get these on, with one memorable sigh of relief being swiftly followed by a shriek of dismay when I realised that I had them on back to front.  The tough stitching meant for the buttocks, gave the impression of my having two stomachs.  Attractive and vital on a cow, but not on this 52 year old woman.

Then there are the dreaded knee-highs, as god forbid someone sees your skin in its natural colour.  So many times, the elastic in one will give up the ghost, slowly making its way down my calf (the speed of the descent is dependent on how recently I have shaved my legs).  This is almost impossible to remedy in front of normal folk, and a hurried trip to another part of the house/office is required to hoist the offending suicide stocking back into its rightful position, where it will stay for approximately 10 minutes before launching itself down my leg again. 

I know there will come a day when I say, 'Oh bugger it.  This is me, and this is what I really look like'.

Unfortunately, now the husband has these new glasses, that may have to wait a little longer...

Saturday, 20 August 2016

New kid in town...

So son number two has done what he needed to do to further his education in the bright lights of Essex. I am expecting him to start fake tanning and teeth whitening over the next few weeks, so that he blends in with all the other Essex boys, and after two weeks' of fresher fun, he'll probably do a passable impression of either Chas or Dave, but without the beard, would have stopped wearing socks with his suit, and started calling me 'Geezer'.

He'll be leaving home on the 1st October, hightailing it to Colchester, swapping his comfortable life here for a tiny bedroom with a bathroom where you can s**t, shave and shower without turning round, and a kitchen which will harbour many bacteria after a few weeks, some of which are yet to be identified by a chap in a white coat.  Of course, he will forget the important things, like our home telephone number (unless he needs money), and learn lots of new stuff, most of which he will never have to use again in his adult life (unless dressing up as a nurse while necking cheap booze is a requirement in whatever he chooses to do).

But somewhere between these two extremes, he will learn about things which will stand him in good stead for whichever career path he walks down, which is how it should be.

But where will this leave the husband and me? Well we have been slowly getting used to being on our own, as we walk through a house littered with memories and the odd overnight bag from the other three, but October will be the beginning of the next chapter of our lives.  Of course, with Percy and Reg, we're not really on our own but there will be an element of independence which we haven't known before.  I am looking forward to early pub dinners on a weekday evening, and only putting the washing machine on once a week (I am sure that my Hotpoint will feel almost redundant).  The husband, on the other hand, is looking forward to not having to do car maintenance at the weekends and mend things in rented houses before the landlord finds out.

So with all four gone, the house will feel very empty. 

But that's the trouble with takes up a lot of space...

Friday, 19 August 2016


Life has gone back to normal after the excitement of Wednesday's filming (I can now stop sucking my stomach in, the husband can go back to wearing his daft t-shirts and the children will go back to their normal 'turning up when we can't afford to pay for our own food' visits).

It was a very interesting experience, and I'll probably look at every television programme with a little more respect now.  I was not the 'natural' I hoped I would be, I must confess.  This all became very apparent within five minutes of the camera being switched on.  All I had to do was open a kitchen cupboard door, remove my Red Clover tablets and a glass, pop a tablet and swallow with the glass of water.  This is what everyone at home will probably see. 

What you won't see is the cameraman saying to me..

'Don't swallow the tablet' (too late)

'Please don't swallow that one too' (he wasn't quick enough to stop me).

'Wrong hand'

'Don't look at me, talk to the kitchen door' (this was easy actually as there are times when I feel I might as well talk to an inanimate object, the amount of attention that's paid to my verbal diatribes).

'Stop fidgeting - you wouldn't believe how noisy your feet are' (there's no answer to that, however hard I try)

There was then the problem I had with walking out my front door and closing it behind me.  Now I have done this successfully at least a dozen times a day for over forty years.  Put a camera in front of me, and all of a sudden it's the hardest thing to do.  I think that the poor cameraman got what we needed after five attempts. For some reason, all I wanted to do was leave the door open, and the last but one take saw me throwing my hands in the air as I walked away from the gaping door, shouting, 'I was only supposed to shut the bloody door' in the worst Michael Caine impersonation ever.  There was some polite laughter from the cameraman, but I'm sure that he and the lovely television lady were questioning the decision to include me in the programme.  I bet Sue from Cardiff would have been far more professional...

I was also dreadful at carrying potatoes to the table when they filmed us eating, managing to circumnavigate the kitchen island a couple of times before making it to the table.  Mind you, as the potatoes were neither raw nor burnt, I suppose a lap of honour was called for.  It just probably wasn't the right time to do it..

The husband was a revelation though.  Not to me, of course, as I know that man inside out.  But he spoke so honestly to the lovely television lady that he made her cry.  She said it was because what he said about me was so beautiful, but I think it's more that she could see the light at the end of a tunnel fraught with open doors and well travelled potatoes.

After six hours, we were done, and they had enough material for their programme.  I think they also had enough for It'll be Alright on the Night, You've Been Framed and Food Detectives - Kitchen Fails.

I would also imagine that we might be considered for an extended episode of the Jeremy Kyle Show.

Now, wouldn't that be nice...

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Flash, bang wallop...

So the big day arrived.  Have run around the house with a hoover, duster, two pairs of jeans, three shirts, two pairs of shoes and a tube of cold sore cream, I finally decided on the right outfit to wear.  To be honest, I was in such a flap, that I am surprised that the end result wasn't two dusters fashioned into a bikini with a hoover bag on my head (mind you, this would have hidden the cold sore which now has its own postcode and has just received a Council Tax bill).

It also just happened to be the hottest day in bloody history, and the most important decision I had to make was whether to go with bare arms or sleeves.  Actually, this was after choosing the best biscuits, buying the right fruit juice and selecting which of my tacky ornaments were to stay on show. (Apologies to my solar powered waving duck - you just didn't cut it yesterday).

So going back to the sleeves, you ladies of a certain age will recognise this dilemma very well - sleeves were obviously invented by someone who was unwilling to inflict their mottled, cellulite-ridden upper arms on an unsuspecting audience, and a damn fine invention they are too. 

When you have arms which resemble those of a Russian shot putter, the sleeve is a welcome addition to your wardrobe.  I have many types of sleeve in mine.  Long, three-quarter, fluted, puffed, flared, cold-shouldered and short are all my friends.  The only one I avoid is the dreaded capped sleeve - these are guaranteed to make you look like you're after a fight and also mean that shaving is necessary unless you want to look like a tough French woman.

So here was my dilemma.  Did I go sleeveless, thus staying cool in the summer sun but run the risk of someone running up to me and shouting that I should be in Rio at the moment, or should I put the cardigan on, concealing said arms, and hope for a stiff breeze.

Well the sleeves won in the end.  I chose a lovely pink cardigan, not thinking for one minute about how this would look on camera if I happened to have a hottie.  You would be hard put to tell where my face stopped and the cardigan started, such is the way of a menopausal hot flush.

So the filming went well.  No one died (always a bonus), everyone smiled, the husband didn't wear his t-shirt professing his love for pork-based snack products, and son number two didn't push the lovely television lady for preferential treatment with regard to entry onto next year's Love Island.  The meal went well and I didn't poison anyone (again, a bonus) and the husband managed to talk seriously without giggling too much.

All in all, it was an education.  Six hours of filming for twenty two minutes of programme.  That's a lot to cram in, and bets are being placed in my house as to who ends up on the cutting room floor.

After the husband's unfortunate comments about my cooking, my money is on him...

Wednesday, 17 August 2016


It was a bit of a maelstrom of a day at my house yesterday.  I had gone into a dizzy spin about the state of the house, my wardrobe, the cold sore on my lip, whether the dogs would behave, whether the husband would do as he was told and what the weather would be like on filming day. 

As the day wore in, I gave myself a good talking to.  After all, what could possibly go wrong?  After some thought on this, here's my list of probables...

1. It will be so hot that I will spend the whole afternoon resembling a female wrestler with a Pifco handheld fan, knocking back the Red Clover like a mad woman.

2. The cold sore on my lip will have an eruption which Etna would struggle to better.  It's a shame I didn't have a little more warning on this, as I could have grown and trained an upper lip moustache to cover it.

3.  The husband will refuse to wear what I have laid out, and will sulk when I make him change out of the t-shirt which claims his parts are still in good working order despite being made in the 1960's. (I would like this to be a little more specific...for discussion purposes you understand).

4. Daughter number one will insist on showing her tan off with skimpy tops and white jeans, while I try and cover her up with a sensible cardigan.  Sitting next to each other, we will look like a piano keyboard.

5. Daughter number two will reintroduce her university make up routine - false eyelashes, false eyebrows, fake nails and a possible spray tan, thus making us look like a family of gypsies without the big fat wedding.

6.  Son number two will tip up, having completely forgotten what was planned, wearing a cheap singlet and a pair of ripped tracksuit bottoms, and moaning about his hair.   He will then insist on an hour's full makeover, before appearing on camera.  He has very high standards, you know...

7.  Reg will refuse to leave the cameraman alone, swinging from his trouser leg while Percy will gaze at him with those 'They Never Feed Me' eyes.

8.  The dogs, having taken a more than healthy interest in the cameraman, will then make off with his furry microphone and bury it in the garden, having had a good old play with it first.  This will never be found again.

9. I will have some kind of wardrobe malfunction - probably involving a VPL through my jeans, or a knee high with loose elastic, puddling around my ankle (think Nora Batty).  There is also the possibility of panda eyes through copious sweating and wild frizzy hair (the result of  a damp hairline)

10. I have to cook - enough said.  This could have its own chapter there is so much which could go wrong.  Even when I get it right, general consensus is that the husband would have done better.

So I think we're ready for our fifteen minutes of fame.

The question is, are the viewing public?

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Twinkle, twinkle little star...

So the filming is to be done on Wednesday afternoon.  The husband, who is to join us for a chat when he gets back from work, is under strict instructions to shower and change before he gets in front of the camera.  As a building site project manager, his t-shirt colour choice is always of the hi-vis type, and at times, my washing line can resemble a pack of highlighter pens. 

I have dressed the husband for many years, and even now, he is not allowed to shop for clothes on his own.  He has a penchant for the slightly gaudy t-shirt, usually embellished with some shiny stuff and italic writing, and has come home with some real fashion disasters over the years.  These are usually made to do an immediate U-turn and head straight back to the store, without even getting out of the bag. 

So you can see, when the lovely television lady was talking me through what I should wear on Wednesday - no stripes, large flowers or blatant advertising (bang goes the sweatshirt I have ordered with 'Follow the Bird!' emblazoned across my bosom), it was with some trepidation that thought turned to the husband's choice of outfit for the interview.

I raised this over dinner last night.  His face dropped. 

'Can I wear my t-shirt saying what a brilliant dad I am?'


'What about the one about having an awesome wife?'

'Tempting, but still no'.

'The one which says I love bacon?'


How about the one about starting the weekend again as I wasn't ready?'

'It will be Wednesday, so hardly applicable,  But even if it was Monday, it would still be no'.

'Surely the one about you knowing everything would be ok?'

'Totally accurate of course, but still no'.

God knows what he'll come down in.  He's threatening me with getting a t-shirt which says 'I'm married to a menopausal old dragon', which although not strictly true, might prove to be a bit of an ice breaker with the film crew.  It may also be the last t-shirt he ever wears...ever.

So I will choose his clothes for filming, and woe betide him if he veers away from the plain, sensible, clean shirt and trousers I lay out for him.  Mind you, I could always lay out his Beetlejuice dressing up costume which he is rather fond of.  ITV could be looking at a different type of programme altogether if he wore that.

The funniest thing to happen is that they have decided to film the two dogs rather than the four children.  Up till now, I haven't been able to tell them that their fifteen minutes of fame has been usurped by two scruffy balls of fluff, so kids, I am sorry. 

I'm quite relieved to be honest, as I was slightly worried as to what they were going to say about me given half the chance.

At least Percy and Reg can keep a secret or two...

Monday, 15 August 2016

Lazin' on a sunny afternoon...

I like this hot weather we're having at the moment.

But it does bring out the worst in us Brits.  As soon as there is any chance that the mercury might rise out of the blue section, we remove all unnecessary clothing, stretch out on the nearest sun lounger and inflict our goose-pimpled blue mottled skin to an unsuspecting world.  Of course, as our bodies have not seen sun for probably a year or so, we like to be careful, slathering on the factor 50 just in case we burn, and setting phone alarms so that we can turn over every half an hour (or is that just me that does that?)  The end result of this is that we have no suntan, just red angry skin where we missed the factor 50, and a peeling nose.  Where's the tube of St Tropez when you need it?

So yesterday, despite me wanting to soak up some sunshine, the husband and I trekked up to Milton Keynes again, to take two large items of furniture up to daughter number two's new home.  Try as we might, we hadn't been able to squeeze these into her car, so a second trip was needed.  She had asked us to come up around 2.00 as she'd had a big night out on Saturday, resulting in a Sunday hangover.

As we walked up the stairs with the furniture, she got everything in its place and asked us if we were hungry.  Well, this was a new one on me, I can tell you.  Had she made us a Sunday roast?  Were there sandwiches on offer?  A cake, perhaps?

'Well we haven't eaten', said the husband, looking at me with those eyes he uses when roast beef is on offer.

'Good', says daughter number two.  'The pub round the corner does a great Sunday roast.  Shall we go?'

By this what she really meant, was, 'I have a hangover.  I need a roast dinner.  I am poor.  You are paying'.

It was a very good roast dinner as it happened.  The Yorkshire puddings were better than mine according to the husband.  Well bearing in mind that no member of my family likes my Yorkshire puddings, preferring the frozen fluffiness of Aunt Bessie, this wasn't saying much.

We were offered a quick cup of tea at her's then kicked out - she was looking for a post-roast nap (as were we, but we had to drive 57 miles home again).

The sun was still shining as we got home, so it was off with the clothing and out on the deckchair for me for some late rays.  The husband, never a fan of the sunshine, fell asleep in the lounge in front of the television, surrounded by schnauzers. 

Pommel horse has that effect on him...

Sunday, 14 August 2016

It's all about that bass...

Friday was Miss R's birthday.  I don't want to divulge her age, as that information should always remain between a lady and her birth certificate, but I think it's ok to say that whatever age she was, she certainly doesn't look it.

I had arranged a surprise party for her at a local hostelry, ably abetted by my nephew, Master J.  I say surprise, but I'll be honest with you, she twigged that we were up to something around Tuesday this week.  We tried to keep the pretence up, and she even played along with us, but she knew we would all be celebrating her birthday with her, and we all knew that she knew. 

I had chosen a local restaurant, with enough space for thirteen egos and a balloon bouquet, so I was optimistic about the evening.  I'm not going to give the name of where we went, but we sure as hell will not be stepping over their threshold again, with or without a balloon bouquet.  The food was appalling.  How hard can it be to serve a decent prawn cocktail?  Even I can do that, with most of my ingredients either frozen, in a bag, or in a jar.  What was served bore no resemblance to any prawn cocktail I've ever seen, and this was put together by someone with a cheffy qualification, who should really be taken out and shot for Crimes Against Shellfish. 

Talking of shelled stuff, the mussels I had ordered were cold, although a boiling hot sauce had been poured over them to liven them up a bit.  As I pulled the fourth one from its shell, I had an awful feeling that it wasn't the last time I was going to see these mussels...

Steaks were cold, tough and covered with the wrong sauces, sea bass fillets needed jump starting and there wasn't a vegetable to be seen, tinned, frozen, fresh or otherwise.

Now the thing about bad food, is that I can do that at home quite easily.  There has been the odd occasion when furtive glances have passed between the husband and offspring, with plates slowly being pushed away.

One time, the husband said to me that he needed to get his eyes checked again, as he couldn't always see what he was eating.

'Borrow mine', I said helpfully.

'No thank you', he said.  'Sometimes it's better if I don't know what I'm eating'.

 That man shows such courage sometimes...

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Dancing on the ceiling...

Carrying on from yesterday, thoughts now turn to the house.  This would be the house which will be seen on national television some time in the future. 

First thing to go will be the lounge carpet.  Now this is relatively new, but Reg (the puppy on borrowed time) has pee'd so many times on the carpet that it now resembles a 1970's tie-dye shirt.  If only schnauzers were bigger, I could have trained him and Percy to stretch over the carpet and conceal the worst bits, lying on the grey shag pile like a couple of page three models.

Next thing that needs attention will be the front lawn.  First impressions are ever so important, and I'd rather the public's one of me was not as a lazy cow who couldn't be bothered to get the lawn mower out once in a while.  If it isn't done soon, the nice television lady won't be able to even find the front door, such are the dizzy heights the weeds are achieving.  Of course, I am barred from the lawnmower as it is the husband's domain (Blue Job), but still....

We'll have to buy a new dinner service, probably from John Lewis rather than the usual Wilko.  My functional white plates scream 'easily and cheaply replaced when one is broken', whereas I would rather be seen as a classy lady who entertains on a regular basis.  My friends who read this, will probably stop laughing around November at this last comment.  I think my last dinner party was March 2015 - it was a big one though.  Twenty people, one table, two slow cookers and dancing on the table at 3.00am.  I suppose it's no wonder I haven't recovered enough to do it all again yet...

The dogs will have to go and live somewhere else for at least one week before filming, during filming and one week after filming.  They will go before to give me time to pick up all the half eaten bits of food which Reg has secreted under upholstery, cushions, pillows and rugs. It would also be quite nice to be able to see out of the lower window where they insist on pushing their wet noses.  Lady H (the Wonder Woman of Domestic Resuscitation) will have her work cut out that week I can tell you.

Talking of wet noses, that is as good a reason as any to keep them away from the house on filming day.  That and the continuous 'big eye' treatment which they inflict on anyone with a pulse.  I have a feeling that the cameraman might change his mind about the type of film he wants to do, preferring to engage with the two furballs rather than the menopausal woman on the sofa.  Let's face it, they're a lot cuter and less unlikely to attack you with a blunt instrument.

And of course they won't be able to move back in till at least a week after the filming is over.  I'll be enjoying longer lay-ins (those wet noses again) not worrying over how to cover up another part of destroyed carpet, and won't be breaking up fights every half hour. 

And when it's all over, we'll go back to normal.

Dishevelled, messy, shabby and slightly tired round the edges. 

Oh and the house will go back to its usual state too....

Friday, 12 August 2016

U got the look...

It would appear that I am to have my fifteen minutes of fame.  You may remember me talking about the lovely lady who interviewed me about how I feel about the menopause (seven hotties yesterday- not a good day to ask.  I realised that I had missed three days of the Red Clover, and am putting it down to that rather than my aging body throwing itself off a cliff). 

Going back to the lovely lady, she has decided that I am to go onto the television and talk to the unsuspecting public about what is happening to me in the withering woman department. 

Now, this has raised many issues.  My hair, face and body are not even kitchen-ready, never mind TV-ready, and I have a list of things to do before she turns up with the cameras...

1. Book in a boob job.  Bit extreme?  Well you name me one famous female with a 36B bra size.  No?  I rest my case... 

2. Speak to lovely Mrs H at Classic Beauty for back to back CACI facelifts to raise my jowls to at least knee level.

3. Shave everything

4. Get roots done - these are doing a passable impression of a runway at Terminal 5 at the moment, so vitally needed

5. Buy outfit which shouts 'Sexy Lady Not Trying Too Hard To Look Thirty Five'

6. Eyelash extensions (Too frightened to try false eyelashes after a friend's episode with a stray one and a rolled up newspaper)

7. Shave everything again - god, how that grows...

8. Bring forward dental appointment for tooth repair - if I smile, my teeth look like a row of bombed houses.

9. Back to Mrs H so that she can use the hedge trimmer on my Schnauzer brows

10. Buy industrial strength knickers to pull stomach and derriere back up to where they were about fifteen years ago (I'm being optimistic here - a forklift couldn't do that)

11. A final trip back to Mrs H for a manicure and pedicure (as well as a hedge trimmer, she is possession of an axle grinder)

12. Shave everything a third time (having realised that I'd left the cover on the blade the first two times)

And don't even get me started on the house...

Thursday, 11 August 2016


Well after yesterday's moaning blog about son number two not bringing me a present back from his holiday (other than his dirty washing) I must confess to feeling rather ashamed.  Having done all his washing and ironing in record time, he presented me with the gift of a spa day at a local posh hotel.  This was 'just because' apparently, and I felt really awful...

There have been other occasions where I have misjudged either him or a situation over the years, and I still look back and feel slightly mortified.

I remember being called into school when he was about nine years old, as he had walked into a door, splitting his forehead open quite beautifully.  In the car on the way to the hospital, he said to me, 'They're not going to put stitches in are they? Promise me they won't mum'.

As I watched the blood run down his left cheek, I said, 'No of course not sweetie.  I expect they'll put a little plaster over it, that's all'.

You see, the last thing I wanted driving down the dual carriageway ay 96mph was a nine year old having a hissy fit, so I lied, just to keep him quiet.  Once at the hospital, the lovely nurse told son number two that stitches might be necessary.  The look he gave me was one I'll never forget.  Seeing that there could be trouble, I took her to one side, and said that if she stitched his forehead, I might as well leave him at the hospital, as he would never speak to me again, as I HAD LIED.  She was obviously a mother too, and tactfully taped him up with copious amounts of SteriStrips to hold his head together.

Another time we were back at the hospital with a rugby related injury (same school, same speed up the dual carriageway).  It was his collar bone which was causing concern, and the conversation in the waiting room went like this.

'I think it's broken Mum'.
'It's not broken.  Don't be daft'.
'But I can stick my finger in between the two bones'.
'You're imagining that.  It's not broken'.

This was wishful thinking on my part, as the thought of another four hours in A&E wasn't filling me with joy.  Ten minutes later, after the X-ray, the doctor came back and sat down.  'It's broken, I'm afraid', he said.

I got the look then, and I got it again about two years later when we were back at the same hospital, with yet another rugby injury.

'I think it's broken Mum'.
'It's not broken'.
'Remember my collar bone, you didn't think that was broken'.
'Well I was wrong then, but I am sure that your hand isn't broken'.
'Are you qualified to know this Mum?'
'No.  But I just know I'm right'.

I was wrong again - it was broken knuckles this time.  So I've learned over the years to press on with what I'm good at and obviously medical diagnosing is not one of them.

Unlike ironing.  I'm really good at that...

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Give a little bit...

Son number two returned home yesterday after a week in the sun with Lucy-Loo, his BFF.  As he walked through the front door, I had to do a double take, as the young man walking through my door was only slightly darker than me after four hours on a Portsmouth beach. 

'Was the weather rubbish?' I asked, looking at the lack of demarcation lines between knee and toe.

'No, it was really hot', he replied.  'At least 30 degrees every day'.  (Can you hear my teeth gnashing from there?)

'Why are you so pale then?  Were you recovering from heavy nights every day?'

Well it was a different story altogether.   It turned out the two of them had been sightseeing.  Visiting museums and large cities whilst in Spain, rather than follow the trend of the other three siblings (basically drinking till the early hours, sleeping all day, drinking till the early hours, sleeping all day etc etc). 

He wanted to update daughter number two and me on all the adventures before getting his case in, so we listened very patiently while he went through his holiday photos. (When I say 'patiently', this doesn't even touch how many we had to trawl through).  He then disappeared into the hall, returning with various carrier bags emblazoned with Duty Free.

Ooh....presents, I thought.

'What have you got there then?  Presents?'

'Sort of', he replied, delving into the first carrier bag.  Out came a large bottle of Russian Vodka.  Only 12 euros apparently because the daft bat on the till took it on board when son number two said that it should be cheaper as Britain has now left the EU (see, there are positives in this).  'This is for me', he said, putting it to one side.

He then went into another bag.  Was this my present?  Something for the woman who had cherished him all his life, the woman who washed and ironed his clothes, and who generally kept him alive and kicking on a daily basis?

No.  It was a gaudy baseball hat for Dr D (Lucy Loo's cousin).  'Oh, he'll love that', I said, the sarcasm freely dripping from my tongue.

There was one more bag.  'What's in there, then?  Chocolate?'  (Although I don't eat chocolate anymore, I love the sight of a family bar of Milka in the fridge after one of them has been travelling).

'Kind of...'

He pulled out a half eaten Milky Way (twin pack) which had obviously been sat on sometime between Spain and the UK, an empty Sprite bottle, a bag of Minstrels and some empty crisp packets. this wasn't for me either.

'Where's my present then?'  I asked, sticking my bottom lip out as far as I could.

'Your present?  Oh yes!  It's in the suitcase - I'll go and get it from the car'.

Well this sounded marginally exciting.  Obviously the gift was either valuable or fragile, and was wrapped up in towels to protect it from the kid-gloved baggage handlers at Luton.

Lugging the suitcase across the kitchen floor, he unzipped it.

'Here's your present', he said, gesturing at the week's worth of dirty clothing spilling out of the suitcase.

Why son number two, you spoil me.....

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Beauty and the beast...

Something happened on Saturday which made me realise that my body is falling apart far more quickly than I originally thought.  Prior to leaving for the beach on Saturday, I had very hurriedly shaved my legs - these have not really been seen in public for some time, so you imagine that the bic razor had its work cut out. 

Stretching out on the beach pebbles later that day, you can only begin to imagine my horror at seeing the five o'clock shadow which stretched from my ankles to my knees.  I just couldn't fathom it out at all, as even with a quick going over, a new razor always does the job.  Then the penny dropped.  I hadn't realised that the protective cover was still on, so it was the equivalent of shaving my legs with a banana. Once I got over the shame, it actually wasn't too bad having legs like Chewbacca for the afternoon as the wind picked up around 4.00 and it meant I didn't have to put my trousers again.  That will teach me to leave the varifocals off when I shave...

So this set me thinking about other changes to my beauty regime which have become necessary as time has galloped on..

1. As per the above, I must always wear glasses when shaving legs.  Extra care is needed if in the shower as steaming up is a health and safety issue.

2. Always take x10 magnifying mirror wherever I go.  This is so heavy that on occasions, it has been necessary to leave important things behind, like a third pair of wedges or one of the children.

3. Tweezers must also accompany me at all times.  My hair has the unfortunate habit of waiting till I am on a posh night out before having a growth spurt.  (Ladies, you will completely identify with this.  Gentlemen, look away now...).  My chin, if not checked on an hourly basis, can do a passable impression of Catweazle and has been know to lacerate the husband's chin when a kiss is offered. 

4.  A change in foundation has been necessary - the cover-all creams of yesteryear are no good if you have wrinkles.  My forehead started to look like a furrowed field so a move towards tinted moisturizer has been made (in the absence of tinted Polyfilla, which I think would do rather well..)

5.  Putting blusher on the 'apples' of my cheeks is no longer all it takes to give me that 'glow'.  I have read up on where to put strategic stripes of powder to diminish jowls and under-eye bags.  Without proper blending this can make me look a little like Adam Ant, so I now have a cornucopia of brushes simply for this purpose.

Of course, the husband thinks that I look lovely all the time, or at least that's what he says.  Maybe he's too frightened to ask me if I'm going all French on him?

Now that would be brave....

Monday, 8 August 2016

Ball of confusion...

Yesterday afternoon was spent at Wembley, watching the husband get all twinkly eyed watching his favourite team play for the Charity Shield. I'm not the biggest football fan, and always tend to support the underdog.  In this case it was Leicester.  As we were sitting amongst 42, 201 Manchester fans, I promised the husband that I would sit very quietly, and not make too much of a fuss if Leicester scored a goal.

I had even bought a pink top, so that I would blend in with the Manchester fans.  They were rather lively to say the least.  What is it about football matches that makes men need to remove their t-shirts and swing them in the air, this movement causing their vast stomachs to swing in the opposite direction.  It wasn't pretty, and there was I, worrying that my shorts weren't long enough.  I reached the decision that donning a football shirt does not make you a sportsman.  Unless that sport is darts perhaps.

Not only were the men in some state of inappropriate undress, their language was rich, if limited.  Much abuse was thrown at anyone supporting Leicester, the referee, the linesmen and on occasions even some of the Manchester players.  Of course, all this was forgotten when they scored the first goal, and this gave the go ahead for more beer, male bonding and swearing at the opposing team.

The husband was having a fine old time, singing along with all the songs, shouting 'Referee!' and listening to the man behind him spout on about the game.  Actually the man behind just spoke all the way through both halves.  The husband and I decided that he was probably speaking to himself, because at no time did we hear a response from anyone else.

A couple of times when Leicester were playing well, I couldn't help but clap or throw my hands in the air.  The husband was getting rather worried that my secret support of the opposite side might be out, and that he might have to fight off several thousand Manchester fans, so he suggested that I actually sit on my hands.  When Leicester scored a little while later, I nudged the husband repeatedly in the ribs.  The husband shook his head in dismay, and turned to the guy next to him. 

Making a shooting mime at me, he said apologetically to him, 'My daft wife is supporting Leicester today.  Women, eh?'

The man looked past the husband and smiled at me.

'I'm supporting Leicester too.....'

That shut him up, and gave me carte blanche to clap when my team did well.  Unfortunately, they didn't win, but as the husband said, at least he didn't have to listen to me gloating all the way home.

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Ring, ring...

Yesterday, the husband and I schlepped down to Portsmouth, home of the mother, Mrs Jangles, Nanny Joyce, and all those who came before them.  We had decided that a trip down Memory Lane was in order for the mother and Mrs Jangles, so roping in Miss R, Susie B and Messrs OH and G, we all convened in the pub which used to be run by my Granddad's parents.  The husband and I were given the room my great grandmother used to sleep in - looking at the bed, I doubt much has changed since then.

The weather was beautiful, so a day on the beach was decided on.  I say 'beach', but it looked more like my drive with its silly stones.  We had realised fairly early on in the drive to the beach that we would need to buy chairs, as Southsea doesn't have some bloke walking up and down the prom selling you the use of a deckchair for two hours for £40.  There was just one shop at Southsea, and close investigation revealed a beautiful striped folding chair on one of its shelves.  'Can we have four of those, please', asked Miss R.

Unfortunately, it was the last one in the shop - Miss R came up with the bright idea of buying two large rubber rings for the two of us to sit in.  I was slightly concerned that I wouldn't have enough puff to blow mine up, but the very nice shop man offered to do that for us, reappearing from the back of the shop with two beautifully inflated rubber rings.  Mine had Star Wars on it...this has no bearing on the day whatsoever, other than I was frightened the husband might get on to the issue of 4,5 and 6 coming before 1,2 and 3.  I've been here before you see.

We had a great afternoon, with the braver ones heading out to sea on a speedboat for ten minutes.  At a pound a minute, they all thought this was money well spent.  Sadly, the afternoon ended in the way it always does when we all get together...

The mother - completely trolleyed, and blathering on about castles, clutching a Guide Book
Mrs Jangles - completely trolleyed, and drying out from her attempt to swim to the Isle of Wight
Miss R - completely trolleyed, and mourning her dead phone
Susie B - slightly trolleyed (she has stamina) and moaning about how pasta tastes like slugs
Messr OH - slightly trolleyed (ex-army so can pace himself), and desperate to go on the Big Dipper
Messr G - slightly trolleyed, and hacked off that his cap blew out to sea on the speed boat ride
The Husband - hungover, having drunk himself silly, then fallen asleep on the beach propped up on two rubber rings and shrouded in towels.

And as for me?  Well I was sober.  I had the dubious responsibility of carry home two punctured rubber rings (bloody stone beach) which made their way into the first bin I came to.  Up to that point, I could easily have passed myself off as a bagpipe player - the noises coming out of the puncture wounds every time I squeezed them beggared belief.  I got quite a few dirty looks from passers by.  They obviously didn't appreciate that I am a lady...

So we talked about Nanny a lot yesterday - so many memories and tales, most of which involved alcohol I am ashamed to say, but when you see the family which followed on from her, it sort of all makes sense.

That apple never falls far from that particular tree...

Throwing it all away...

Daughter number two's LSB (long suffering boyfriend) turned up yesterday with his little brother in tow.  It's difficult to give him a name as such, as he looks like the result of the LSB on a boil wash then a rather fierce tumble dry.  He's the same, just a lot smaller.  The LSB insisted that Mister Will was only 12, but I'll be honest with you, his level of chat far outweighed anything experienced with the husband, so either he is a lot older than he looks, or he has had one hell of an education.

Coming here yesterday, I managed to extend his education somewhat further.

Daughter number two, having finally finished clearing out her bedroom, had managed to amass 17 bin bags full of clothes, shoes, makeup, and stuff - much of which had been designated as rubbish.  I'll be honest with you, I wasn't brave enough to take it down to the charity shop, doing the walk of shame down the high street leaving a trail of her old knickers and the odd dried up lipstick in my wake, so it was off to the tip. 

Getting there was a bit of an issue.  I had everything crossed that it wouldn't rain, as I had to keep the roof down to get all the bags in.  Peeking out above the bin bag parapet, with a pair of 6" heeled glitter wedges digging into my left hip, my car resembled a skip.  All I needed was a old mattress thrown on the top, and you would never have known the difference.

Hauling all the bags around to the clothing containers ('No duvets, pillows or table cloths' - this means you've had it if you're looking for something to wear to a Demis Roussos Look-a-Like competition) we started unpacking and launching the clothes in.  It was then that Mister Will spotted a pair of white Nike trainers sitting in isolated splendour on top of something which looked suspiciously like a duvet (someone will be in trouble).

'Size's a sign', he said, gazing at the neatly paired trainers.  'Can I take them?' 

Surely he couldn't be thinking of taking them OUT of the container? 

'They're Nikes', he said reverently, 'and they cost over £70'.

I'm not too sure what I was shocked at to be honest.  The fact that they cost £70, the fact that someone had discarded them, or the fact that Mister Will knew everything about them.  He's obviously got friends in high places, that one.

It took some doing, but we eventually managed to talk him out of bringing the trainers home, and we walked back to the car.  I was silently quite relieved that he hadn't noticed the fake Armani hoodie which had been peeking out of the pile, sandwiched between several cheap bras and a green parka.  He would have been well on the way to the full ensemble then.

'Typical', I said, 'You've only been here ten minutes, and already I've turned you into a pikey'.

He'll be developing an Irish accent and getting a Jack Russell next. 

Friday, 5 August 2016


So the exodus has started...

Yesterday saw the beginning of the end of daughter number two's bedroom.  In a couple of weeks' time she will be heading off to her new home, and it will no longer be her room, and would have been loosely renamed as 'The Dogs' Room'.  Daughter number two has been in residence in this room for over 10 years, entering it as a child of 11.  As she is now almost 22, you can only start to imagine the breadth of memories (crap) she has hoarded over the years.  The mementos (crap) brought back from holidays, and vast amount of makeup (all crap) which she has managed to accrue.

She roped me in yesterday to help her bag up everything which was going to a new home (the charity shop or the tip) and the rest of it which was going to her new home (tidy for the moment, but will resemble a tip ten minutes after she walks in through the front door).  She's not very good at throwing anything away, preferring to keep hold of it 'just in case'....

...she shrinks six inches in height
...she loses her toes meaning small shoes will now fit
...she starts wearing kilts again
...she needs to dress up as a Ninja, Halloween Nurse or Mexican Bandit
...she needs to re-take her GCSE's
...she decides to open her own hair salon (SEVEN pairs of hair straighteners)
...she needs to retake her A' Levels
...she starts wearing her hair in cornbraids again (tail combs everywhere)
...she decides that wearing pink is in fact better than going naked

So you can just imagine the number of bags heading out of her room.  I started with great intentions, separating out the clothes from the shoes, and the electrical stuff from the rubbish.  That lasted about 14 minutes, when I decided that life was too short, and that the charity shop could have the lot, and do what they liked with it.  (Probably cry actually).

We managed to sort one wardrobe, a set of drawers and the airing cupboard.  This is a bone of contention as daughter number two considers the airing cupboard to be her space as it's in her room.  I beg to differ, but can rarely get through the door without burning myself on the hot water tank or losing a limb to an inappropriately discarded hanger.  I'd actually forgotten that it was carpeted until today - what a revelation that was.

So we have made a good start.  The trouble is that every time I packed something away, it triggered a memory of a curly little girl who I have loved forever.

I suppose I'll just have to buy another dog. 

Well there's room now...

Thursday, 4 August 2016

A kick in the teeth...

Tuesday was one of  'those days'.  You know the ones...where everything you touch, rather than turning to gold, simply shrivels up and dies.  Yes, it was one of those days.

It started rather well.  I had my probationary interview with my employers at Binland.  I'm not saying that they were pleased with me, but I had to Vaseline my ears thoroughly to get through the office door when we were finished.  It's lovely knowing that you're doing a good job. Thinking about this, I don't know if I am any good at the other job I do - 'mothering'.  As I have yet to be told otherwise, I suppose it's easier to assume that I am bloody marvellous at that also.

So back to work where I was off to visit a food recycling plant.  Now this was a bit tricky.  I had come into work dressed for a day in the office.  Smart three quarter trousers, shirt, pumps and make up.  Fast forward two hours and you find me in the same clothes, except for the pumps which had been swapped for steel toe capped boots and a pair of borrowed socks from the Depot Manager.  My three quarter length trousers didn't quite meet the boots, so there was quite an expanse of striped sock on show.  Not the best of looks. 

It was windy so my hair, never that keen on doing the right thing, had made a bid for freedom and was resembling an explosion in a mattress factory.  My mascara (which I have to scrape off each night with a trowel it's stuck on so well) took one look at the rain, and decided to head south.  I wasn't sure how far down my face it had gone, but as I was with three men and not wanting to appear too girly, I subtly wiped, and wiped again, in a vain attempt to stop myself looking like a demented panda. 

Driving back to the office, I am sure that Mr W (the office Voice of Reason) must have noticed that I looked out the side window all the way back. It was just as well that he was driving rather than me I suppose.   I had to race into the loo to do a quick repair job before going back to my desk.  To be honest, there wasn't much I could do with only toilet roll and a couple of hair grips, but I expect Master B and Master P simply put my dishevelled look down to old age, menopause or madness. (Possibly all three even).

Leaving the office after lunch, I was off to the dentist. I hate the dentist, and have to be very brave to even dial the number to make an appointment.  This fear was made worse when I was mistaken for another patient a couple of years ago.  Now that's a story which needs a page of its own.  Another day perhaps.

Taking a deep breath, I walked up to the receptionist and announced my reluctant arrival.

'You didn't listen to the message then?' she said looking at me very disapprovingly.

'No', I said, 'What did it say?'

'We had to cancel your appointment - your dentist had to go home'.


Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Say hello, wave goodbye...

I like to pick my moments very carefully in this house, when making decisions about cleaning the children's rooms.  At the moment, three are abroad, and one is in Devon (which might as well be abroad, it takes so bloody long to get there).  Having hired a JCB, dump truck and also invested in some industrial strength bin bags, I set to it yesterday, happy in the knowledge that none of them was going to be physically able to stop me from clearing their rooms.

I had given them all fair warning...they knew that I would be 'going in' as it were, and if they hadn't decided what they wanted to keep, then I would...

Now my kids' rooms tell you a lot about each of them. 

Son number two's bedroom, which was the first to get the full Mumpty treatment yesterday is like a snapshot of his entire life.  He is a complete hoarder of 'stuff', and it's possible to find muscle building powder (I don't know why he bothers with this, he will forever have the physique of a racing snake) nestled next to a game of Racing Snails which was his favourite when he was younger.  There was always money involved in this game which probably explained why he liked it so much.  I have to be very careful what I throw away as everything has a memory for him - sensitive little soul...

Daughter number one's bedroom is basically a walk in wardrobe.  Clothes hang from every available hook, hanger and corners of wardrobes, and what can't be hung is laid out on the bed.  When this is full, she resorts to that old favourite...the floor.  She has the added problem that this room, being downstairs, is my favourite place for 'sticking things that I'll find a home for later'.  So as well as her complete Autumn/Winter 2016/7 collection, she has to contend with odd dried flower displays which I don't like any more, pictures which I've tired of, and all of son number two's coats which won't fit in his wardrobe anymore.  This room is on my list later today.  To be honest, once my stuff is removed from her room, tidying it should be relatively straightforward.  Of course, I haven't looked under her bed yet - this has been hiding unwanted stuff for ten years, so could be interesting.

Son number one's bedroom is just somewhere to sleep.  His bed is always surrounded by carrier bags and various sports holdalls, and when he wakes up and leaves, he simply takes it all with him to the next bed he's got lined up.  There's nothing in there to say he's been there at all, other than the odd rugby shirt staple gunned to the wall (don't you just love them) and fourteen empty glasses on the window sill.    Every now and again, something will appear on the bedroom walls, something that stamps ownership on the room.  The last time this happened, it was photographs of his rugby team in the nude.  Do you know, there are only so many excuses you can come up with as to why you keep needing to come into the bedroom..

Daughter number two's bedroom is the one I always save till last as I need to steel myself to go over the threshold.  She has her whole life in that room, in various cases, IKEA bags and holdalls, none of which ever seem to be unpacked.  I am still waiting for her to empty her cases from university, let alone the bags from the month in Thailand, and the recent weekend in Bedford.  She obviously has duplicates of everything so unpacking is not a requirement.  She also is a bit of a hoarder.  Unlike son number two who keeps things for sentimental reasons, she just keeps them because she can't be bothered to walk the four paces to the bin.  Going into her bathroom yesterday morning, I removed nine empty shampoo and conditioner bottles (all crammed in the shower tidy) and three empty toilet rolls.  She has to share her room with Percy and Reg, so I do tend to make some allowances, but to be honest, apart from a shredded Economics book, it's all down to her.

So the next few days will be a challenge.  Mainly because this is a parting of the ways for the children and me.  As they leave home over the next few weeks, heading back to university or work, they will take with them all the interesting and exciting parts of their lives that they want with them, leaving the husband and me with all the empty shampoo bottles, bags and remnants of their childhoods. 

As long as son number two leaves the Racing Snails behind, we'll be fine...

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Green, green grass of home...

You will expect me to be telling you that the husband didn't surface until late on Sunday after the mammoth night out on Saturday.  However, quite surprisingly, he headed downstairs at a reasonable time (when I say reasonable, I mean a morning time still in single digits) and wandered out to the garden with a strong coffee and a bacon sandwich.

Thinking he looked almost human (he was wearing sunglasses so the full red-eye effect wasn't apparent at that point) I asked him if he could mow the lawn when he was finished.  The buttercups and dandelions were now so long that the dogs had gone missing on a couple of occasions, and I could no longer reach my wooden bench without using a scythe.  He didn't say a word, but simply heaved himself out of his chair and headed off to the garage with a long sigh. 

I had planting to do, so started on the borders, ably assisted by Reg and Percy, whose main love in life is flowerpots (full or empty).  While I wasn't looking, they managed to decimate a tray of petunias which will probably never see the sun again, and I also have a passionflower on life support as we speak.  They also took great delight in moving my pile of weeds to various places around the lawn, having first given them a good old shake, splattering soil all over me and the lawn.

So in between flower pot wrestling with miniature schnauzers and frequently losing, I could hear the lawnmower out the front, and it wasn't too long before the husband appeared in the back garden.  I'll say this for him, he is a safety boy, and never takes risks.  Wearing goggles, ear defenders and a hi-vis t-shirt he gestured for me to get out the way so he could mow the lawn.

Two and a half hours later, we were done, and the garden looked lovely.  The two of us then slumped into the deckchairs and slept in the sunshine.  I say sunshine, but who am I kidding?  I had a sweater on, and the husband went indoors after half an hour when his chattering teeth began to cross over into noise pollution.  I hung in there though.  I mean, after all that hard work, you want to be able to admire the fruits of your labours don't you?

When I came back indoors around 5.00, the husband was nowhere to be seen.  I wandered from room to room, even checking the garage, before I found him in bed fast asleep. And that was where he stayed till 8.00pm, surfacing for about an hour before heading off to bed again.

It would appear that the goggles and sunglasses had disguised the extent of his hangover rather well.  I can see now that the ear defenders had a dual purpose.  Firstly, to stop the noisy lawnmower making his banging headache even worse than it was, and secondly, he wouldn't be able to hear me if I asked for any more jobs to be done.

Just as well I was incapable of anything more than some light weeding and planting on Sunday though, as I have a list as long as your arm of 'Blue Jobs' which need doing.

Maybe next weekend I can keep him off the wine and me off the dancefloor...

Monday, 1 August 2016

Yes sir, that's my baby...

I think I recovered from Saturday's 1920's night out around 5.00pm yesterday.  I know that you are all shaking your heads, and tut-tutting right now, but it actually had nothing to do with the one glass of pre-Prohibition fizz that I had.  If I fill you all in on how the night went, it might make more sense..

So the husband, accompanied by his three slappers (by 6.30 we had decided that this was a more accurate description of us than the flappers we were dressed as) headed up to London.  The husband was driving, pretending not to listen as we chatted about husbands, boyfriends past and present and personal hygiene (I am NOT going to elucidate on this, no matter how much money you all scrape together). 

We had all dressed up beautifully. Mrs S was in vibrant purple fringing, with feathers at the side of her head.  Miss R was in lilac, with feathers at the front of her head (these kept getting a touch of the brewer's droop as the night progressed, and she resembled one of Dr Who's daleks for part of the evening when the glue finally gave up the ghost).  I was in blue beading and wore my feather at the back of my head.  Mrs S suggested that we had covered every feather base.  The husband was wearing his dinner suit and braces, so we all looked the part.

The place itself was incredible ( with everyone dressed up and dancing like crazy things to the 1920's live band.  As soon as dinner was eaten, the husband and I were up on the floor, and it was here that the husband made the biggest revelation to me since the day we met in 1979.....

It would appear that frantic swing is the dance that his body beats a time to.  Over the years, the children and I have despaired at his rhythm, questioning him as to whether he was listening to a completely different song than the rest of us were, he was so out of time.  But this really suited him, and before too long we were throwing ourselves into the madness of the swing dance, sweating like we'd run a marathon, treading on everyone else's toes and basically having a fantastic time.  This continued for the next three hours.

So when I say it took till 5.00pm yesterday to recover, it is mainly because of the following:

Three blisters across one foot which made any kind of footwear impossible
One hip which seized up at 90 degrees, making me look like a German Stormtrooper
Two knees which will never straighten again (this complements the look brought on by the hip)

Of course, you can add to that the fact that I had to drive three drunks home across London in what felt like a double decker bus.  Apart from a three point turn down a one way street because there was a tank in the way (don't ask) and narrowly avoiding a moped driver who thought it was a fine idea to undertake me, this all went swimmingly. 

Dropping Miss R off at her residence, she had to be manhandled into her front door, while Mrs S just talked about eating toast all the way home.  The husband walked through the front door, leaving a trail of black and white across the bedroom floor before passing out, and I went to bed leaving Mrs S wrestling with Percy and Reg as to who was sleeping in the middle.

All in all, a successful night....but boy did I pay...