Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Breadline...

After work yesterday, I headed off into town to do 'jobs'.  Now as we ladies know, this can cover anything from popping into the supermarket through to stocking up on lipstick.  In my case, I had three things to do:

Drop long boots into the menders for re-heeling
Cancel hair appointment
Buy bread

Now the boots are a sore point.  At the end of April, when they are normally packed away, I vow that next year, I will have them re-heeled by the time I want to start wearing them again at the end of September (or August if it's been a bad summer).  Every single year in the seven I have owned them, I have finally got round to having them re-heeled in December.  This would be after I have performed several pirouettes on wet pavements courtesy of the lack of rubber (ever the safety girl). So now I am without my boots for at least three days.  It would have been less, but the mender (I can't use the word cobbler) is closed today.  My town must be the only one in the UK which still operates Wednesday closing. Correct me if I'm wrong...

Next was the hair appointment.  Total senior moment on this one, I can tell you.  Standing in Reception, the exquisitely groomed receptionist stared patiently at me as I rifled through my bag, looking for an appointment card.  'Can you remember which day it was?' she asked. 'That might help'.  (Unnecessary sarcasm, I thought).  Well no, I couldn't remember the day.  All I could remember was that it was either Thursday Friday or Saturday, and was with one of three stylists.  She ran her pencil down the screen, looking for my appointment.  'Do you go under any other name?' she asked.  Well as I am not a psychopath or into fraud, surprisingly I have never felt the need to give a pseudonym to the hairdresser.  I conveyed all this in one of my 'don't mess with mum, she's got that look in her eyes' stares, which seemed to do the trick, as the Receptionist suddenly said, 'Found you. You are with us again next week, not this week'.  Ah.  This was my cue to mutter an apology, and reverse out of the door, just as she was saying 'Did you still want that appointment?'  I'll call them later in the week, when hopefully a different receptionist will be on duty. 

So to the last job.  Son number two and ELL are rather partial to toast in the morning before work, and I noticed this morning that we'd run out.  Stopping at Greggs on the way back to the car, I thought I'd buy a couple of sliced bloomers, which are his favourite. I was standing behind two lads, fresh out of the local secondary school who were taking their time looking at cakes.  'Are you queuing, or can't you decide what you want?' I asked with a smile. 'He hasn't got a clue', said the taller one gesticulating at his friend who was tossing up between an iced Belgian and a doughnut.  He stepped up to the counter.  'Large La ey please'. It took me several seconds to work out he meant latte, and the lady behind the counter raised her eyes at me as we shared a moment over the boy's interesting use of the English language.

It was then my turn. 'Just the two large bloomers please'.  I said. Smiling, she took them from me, and popped them into a carrier. 

Handing them over to me, she put out her hand and said 'That's two paand ey ee'.

Oh dear lord...

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Free bird...

Yesterday, I took the two furballs out for a walk with their friend Neville, who is a stunning Rottweiler puppy.  His owner, Mrs P, and I are also good chums, so a pleasant time was on the cards.  Now Neville and Reg are just the best of friends, but they are also the most incongruous couple. Reg can pretty much walk without ducking below Neville's undercarriage, something  which may change as Neville reaches puberty, but he's not too worried as yet.  Reg spends most of the walk either in or on the outskirts of Neville's mouth, so after about half an hour in each other's company, Reg's coat is very damp, and it always looks like a cheap Kevin Keegan perm by the time we get back home.

Today, we were able to walk a little further than usual, so I took Mrs P round one of my favourite walks in the wood.  As we briefly came out of the wood, we were walking along the lane when a gentleman in some sort of farm vehicle stopped next to us. He looked at my two, and asked, 'Are they hunters then, those two?'  I glanced at them, half expecting them to have donned a couple of deer stalkers and flung a twelve bore over their shoulders.  'Not really,' I said.  'Why do you ask?'

Well apparently, he 'still had some pheasants in the wood'.  Oh right, I understand.  You don't want my two to catch the birds (fat chance) as you're saving them to shoot them at a later date.  Oh well, that just makes complete sense. 

What made me laugh is that he didn't ask Mrs P the same question.  Perhaps Neville doesn't have 'Pheasant Murderer' written all over his beautiful face, unlike my two who in real terms are actually shorter than a pheasant and have as much chance of catching one as I do.

Anyway, duly chastised, the boys were put on their leads until the pheasant-killer was out of sight, at which point we let them off again.  As we turned the corner, a pheasant sprang from the undergrowth, scaring the pants off the dogs.  Did they chase it?  No they didn't.  Did they ignore it?  Completely.  There was an element of chat between the three dogs which probably went something like..

Neville: What the bloody hell was that?
Reg: No idea.  It must be on a long lead to get up that high though.
Neville:  But what was it?  Percy, you're the oldest, you should know?
Percy: Mmm...not sure.  Did he have biscuits?

As time goes on, Neville is going to get even bigger, the prospect of which I find quite appealing.  Of course, as he gets older, we will be walking him further and further, and I would imagine that we will have to cover some miles to wear him out. 

And if we all get too tired on one of these long walks? 

We'll just saddle him up and ride him home...

Monday, 28 November 2016

Bus stop...

This weekend has been a game of two halves.

On Saturday, after the obligatory sausage sandwich and several cappuccinos, the shout came up to go into town to do a tiny bit of shopping.  Mrs Jangles suggested that we should take the bus, which Miss R, the Mother and I thought a fine idea.  Here's the thing though.  The bus stop of choice is very close to my Nanny Joyce's flat.  Those of you who have been with me on this carousel of nonsense since the beginning of the year will know that she finally decided to abandon us in January, leaving a huge void in all of our lives.  A couple of weeks ago, her flat was sold to a lovely chap called Julian, and Mrs Jangles decided that henceforth, 'Nanny's Flat' should be known as 'Julian's Flat', with a swear box being started for any use of the 'N' word when talking about the flat.  By the time we reached the bus stop, the virtual swear box had at least two pounds in it, and I reckon that by next Friday we should have enough for a three course Christmas meal...with wine.

The Mother, ever observant, had set up a look out post when Julian moved in, and told us all that he looked like a bit of a party animal, because he had a surfboard on top of his car. Mrs Jangles soon put her straight about what it actually was...a roof box.  The Mother is not up to date with these things, still choosing to use the boot for her luggage and wonders whatever will they think of next...

So the bus stop just happens to also be situated in front of a large pub, and with twenty minutes till the next number 8 shimmied up, we had just enough time to sneak in a glass of Prosecco each.  I did ask whether they did takeaway cups, but they didn't, so an element of unladylike necking was necessary.

We managed about two hours in town before I said that I needed to get back.  This was not down to time constraints, merely that I couldn't carry any more bags without keeling over.  So it was back on the bus, a drive home, a quick change into a posh frock, and then off to a good friend's 60th birthday, where Miss R and I danced the night away.  The husband wasn't with us as he was watching the Rugby at Twickenham.  I say 'watching', but as he had frequented several bars between home and the ground, I would imagine that as he is unable to operate two of his five senses simultaneously, then there was more listening going on than anything else.  I didn't get back home till after midnight, which was around two hours after the husband - it's always good to keep them on their toes you know.

And the second half of my weekend?

This was spent in Sainbury's on the last weekend before December doing a weekly shop.

Lunacy...

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Five colours in her hair...

I seem to spend a disproportionate amount of my life in various hair dressing salons around the Home Counties, and yesterday morning found me in my fast becoming favourite one. As I sat there watching the comings and goings of this extremely busy salon, it dawned on me that there is a hierarchy of staff; something I hadn't really thought of before.  I think it goes like this...

Grade 1:
Saturday Girl/Boy
These can be easily recognised, as they always wear black (the salon's attempt to make them invisible).  They are normally spotty, but with perfectly groomed hair and very thick artificial eyebrows.  They also seem to stand around quite a lot, waiting for direction from the stylists, as to when to sweep, when to make coffee and when to get gowns or coats.   They normally look bored, and probably wish that they had applied for that job in Top Shop instead.

Grade 2
Hair washers
These are Grade 1's who have been working at the salon for at least six months, thus earning their place at the basin. Along with questions such as 'Is that pressure ok?' and ' Do you want to put your feet up?' they get to actually touch the customer's hair, and once the shampoo (always two - can't they do it properly the first time?) and conditioner have been applied and rinsed, they escort the customer back to the 'styling station' and then whip a comb from their back pocket and comb the wet hair through.  A huge responsibility...

Grade 3
Stylists
These are the ones who cut and style your hair. Artists in their own right, and just as likely to be an Amazonian Swedish lady in beige, to an older chap in tweeds and baker boy hat, and with a beard which could house a family of starlings.  These are the ones which wield the magic wands (boar bristle brushes) and therefore should be treated with a modicum of respect.  They like to chat, mainly about what you are doing that night and products currently on offer (they must be on commission).

Grade 4
Colourists
These are the gods amongst men within the salon.  Do you know what makes them stand out?  Those lovely little black aprons which they wear, casually tied around their hips, as if to say, 'Bleach?  Hah!  I laugh in the face of danger.  After all, I have my all protecting apron on'.  These waltz through the salon without acknowledging anyone else, a Grade 2 scuttling after them with a plastic bowl and a paintbrush.  My favourite bit, is when they say, 'I'll just go and mix your colours'.  I almost expect there to be a Trumpet Voluntary, dancing girls and fireworks, such is the adoration which these colourists expect.

All that in half an hour.

I need to get out more...

Saturday, 26 November 2016

She's electric...

There are many things which run in my family.  I said to my nephew's girlfriend last week, that when the good Lord looked at Miss R and me, he gave her difficult hair (which has since been beaten into submission) and I got everything else in the Medical Encyclopaedia.  Of these, the one which hacks me off most is the arthritis, which moved into my right knee about eight years ago.  Seeing how well it was doing there, several of its close relatives decided to move into my hips, ankles and two of my toes.  There is another relative who is currently considering relocating into my right hand knuckles, but I've stopped baking bread and putting the coffee on, so maybe this one will just keep looking.

I've tried various lotions and potions without much success, even resorting to the dreadful cortisone injection, which worked beautifully.....for about fifty eight days.  Talking to a colleague yesterday about this, she announced that her mother had been the same, and that I would probably be in a wheelchair by the time I was 75.  Spurred on by this nugget of optimism, I took a short trip down to the local chemist, and taking the pharmacist to one side, asked for some advice. 

My how things have changed.  To be honest, I was expecting to leave there clutching a tube of Voltarol and a family size packet of ibuprofen, but lo and behold, the lovely lady there had a myriad of alternatives.

There was a gel, naturally, but not ibuprofen based - the price of this guaranteed that it would do what it said it would (that is how it works, isn't it?)  But then it all started getting a little bit more exciting.

Ushering me into a side room (bet that's heard some tales) she offered me a seat and wandered out to the back room, returning far more quickly than I would have liked.  She wasn't even gone long enough for me to take one of each of the leaflets on display.  I had earmarked about seventeen which might be useful, but I shall have to come back for them when I have a large carrier bag and a balaclava with me.

So she slapped a box on the table and reverently took the lid off. 

'This is getting a lot of positive reviews', she said, handing me what looked like a fat biro.  Apparently, you press it to the site of pain, and it emits an electric shock which helps the nerves in the area to block the pain.  Well the level of shock wasn't so bad, so that got put next to the gel.

She then handed me a wireless TENS machine. 'There's this too.  I hated it, but again, people are coming back to us saying they loved it'.  This had two pads which you stick on the painful areas (I could have done with patches about a metre squared, but the voltage needed to power them up might be too much for the six AAA batteries it came with, and I'd probably need to kick-start it...  But the most worrying thing about this was that it came with a remote control, so that you could increase or reduce the strength of the current according to your levels of pain threshold.

I have had a premonition of how things are going to pan out with this...

The husband, having grabbed the remote (like men always do) will then jab it at the television and press the remote repeatedly, in a vain attempt to change channel.  In the meantime, I will be jerking around the lounge doing a 1980's robotic dance, while my hair goes from standing on end, to smoking gently.

But perhaps my ankle (or what's left of it) won't hurt so much...

Friday, 25 November 2016

One for the cutters...

Those of you who follow my blog will know that I have been participating in a programme on the menopause over the last few months.  This was basically because the lovely lady from the TV had read one of my blogs about hotties and palpitations (this wasn't about the husband by the way, whatever he claims) and thought that I would be a good participant.  Last night the programme was broadcast, and the husband and I settled down in front of the television to squirm at our personal life being put out there for all to see. 

As the programme progressed, it started to become obvious that we weren't going to appear in the programme.  Now the husband was greatly relieved, as he had said some things on film that perhaps he may have regretted later on, and I knew that television would add at least half a stone to my already 'Wide Load', so it wasn't all that bad really.  However, what they did do, is post up a short film of me testing the products and making my bed in four seconds.  It's incredible what you can do with a fast forward button..

But the programme was fab, and hopefully will make us talk more to our menfolk about what we girls have to go through. We need to lead the way ladies, and get rid of the taboo which surrounds something so natural.

Changing the subject completely, I walked the dogs again this afternoon at the same place as Wednesday.  I was mourning the fact that as most of my friends are back at work, there is a distinct lack of people to walk with. Just as I was feeling a bit sorry for myself, a large dog appeared on the path, taking his owner for a drag around the woods. 

Reg and the other dog proceeded to bolt around the woods, taking no notice of mud, water or bystanders, and the elderly gentleman said,

'Care to walk with me?'

Now as we all know, there has never been a murderer or psychopath with a dog, so I felt quite safe falling in next to him on the footpath. We chatted about a lot of stuff, and as befitting a Richardson (we can be very probing), this is what I gleaned from him....

Retired - this was good, as speed might not be an issue when walking
Had been a Tax Inspector - reminded myself not to start any conversation with 'Any advice on....?'
Rescued his dog - this made him a hero in my eyes
Loves photography - OK, interest starting to wain
Big fan of model railways - warning bells, especially as only half way round walk at this point
Big fan of model railway museums - this made the previous point interesting
Likes inlets - for a countryside dweller, I wonder if he comes across that many?

So we had a lovely walk, although as he peeled off the path to go home, I suddenly realised that at 4.15, the last two miles of my walk in the woods would be done in the dark.  I have never been so relieved to see my car, sitting alone in the car park like it had been abandoned at Beachy Head. 

But the best news of all yesterday, was that son number two's girlfriend, ELL, has now landed herself a cracker of a job.  So the two university non-starters have turned their lives around, and are ready to start on the next exciting chapters of their lives.

Just don't grow up too soon you two....

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Working man...

There were men in my house when I got home from work yesterday afternoon.  Armed with ladders, and wearing those natty leather belts which workmen (and many women) love.  You know the ones, they have deep pockets for the things necessary to do their jobs:

One pocket is for Ketchup (or HP if you are that way inclined) just in case the lady of the house offers a bacon sandwich

Another is deep enough to hold a large mug for the obligatory tea breaks at 8.30/10.30/12.30/2.30 (the last one is just before they pack up and go home)

One is needed for the mobile phone.  This is interchangeable with the sauce pocket depending on which iPhone they have, but is also available for a pocket radio for the more senior workman.

Screws - these will be at least seven different sizes, none of which will be applicable to the job on that particular day, but much rummaging will take place just on the off chance that a Number 6 Self-Tapping Screw will be lurking in the dusty folds of the pocket.

So back to my men.  They were replacing all my ceiling lights throughout the house with fancy LED ones, which last longer and use less energy apparently.  Now I had got quite used to one light working out of a possible six in my bathroom, and to say that I was shocked when I went up for a shower last night would be an understatement.  There was my face in full down lit glory, with nowhere for my wrinkles and age spots to hide.  I might ask the husband to install a dimmer switch on the bathroom lights, just to give me a chance in the morning to walk from the door to the shower without making myself jump as I glimpse my haggard pre-makeup face in the mirror.

It would appear from the electricians' relief to see me, that the dogs had been rather a nuisance while I'd been at work.  How did I know this?  Well they had put the barrier up across the bottom stair, so that the dogs couldn't follow them upstairs while they were working.  I know what they're like, and I can just imagine the two of them sitting and staring at the electricians, their eyes narrowed while they salivated over the carpet.  I thought it best to remove the dogs, so headed out into the Autumn sunshine for a brisk walk.

Getting back to the car having negotiated some wild terrain (mainly mud) I met a lady with two larger dogs who was just returning to her car.  She made a real fuss of my two, and then said that once her dogs had died (little tactless I thought, especially as the two dogs were about my age in dog years) she wanted a dog like mine, as she liked the idea of being able to pick a dog up.

Now she obviously hasn't encountered Percy and his Tardis belly.  Picking him up is now restricted to after baths and for vet visits.  Every time I pick him up (after some deep breaths, and a few stretching exercises) I say a quick, silent thank you...

Because amongst the asthma, arthritis, migraines and a tendency to put on half a stone every time I watch Bake Off, I have one thing I am very grateful for.

A strong pelvic floor.

If Mother Nature has not been so kind in that department to the lady in the car park,  I think she'll need a smaller dog....

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Bad...

A good friend asked me yesterday how son number two's first day at work had gone. 'Well he went back for the second day, so it can't be all that bad', was my reply.   All joking apart, he had a fantastic day, with much banter and male bonding.  By the sounds of it, his office (which shall remain anonymous in case I ruin his chances of future success) is like a rugby team, but instead of muddy shorts and boots, they are wearing slick suits and ties.  He'll fit in perfectly with his very unique style of dress which he has perfected over the last few years...

I happened to mention in yesterday's meanderings that the husband and I have started watching Breaking Bad.  I know that there are many of you reading this thinking 'Well, there's another one who arrived late to the party', but I have to confess, once I got over my initial disbelief that anything even remotely similar could take place, I have found myself addicted to it.  Not in a crystal-meth (or glass, if you're past Season 1 Episode 3) way, but because it's a joy to sit and watch anything without being interrupted by adverts. I also like the challenge of guessing what the Periodic Table abbreviations are at the beginning of each episode.  Every night, I manage Barium and Nitrogen, and then feel totally inadequate and wish that I'd listened more in my Chemistry lessons.  Surprisingly, it's also rather funny.

Now I'm not too sure whether this is intentional, but because the husband and I have led a life so sheltered that it's almost indoors, we don't understand quite a lot of it.  It is, therefore, far easier to laugh at it rather than look at each other with a bewildered look in our eyes.  And naturally, we can't ask the kids.  I mean, we don't want to look that stupid, do we?

If you speak to the kids about Breaking Bad, we get different reactions from them.  Son number one hadn't watched any of it, but was quite happy to sit and watch it with us on Sunday, after the husband delivered a resume of the first 18 hours, squeezed into 2 minutes.  Daughter number one couldn't get past the second episode, and has never returned for a second attempt, while daughter number two has seen the lot.  She and the LSB have watched every box set known to man from Vikings to The Walking Dead (a natural side-line of university life I feel).  Son number two has his own thoughts on Breaking Bad. If it's on, he's off.   It's as simple as that.  When it first came out, he managed to make it to the end of Season Two which is roughly where we are now. Just another five to go apparently, which should take us through to Christmas quite nicely.

The husband and I have realised that sticking this on guarantees us peace from son number two and daughter number one each evening, because as soon as the music starts they both scuttle off, leaving us on our own on the sofa.  It's a bit of a cunning plan, and once we've completed our marathon of Breaking Bad, we may just have to play the theme tune each evening to give us a little bit of 'us time'.  

There's one person who hasn't quite twigged what we are up to yet.  Son number two's girlfriend, ELL, was with us for dinner Monday night, and once the clearing up was done, she came in and flopped down on the sofa, just to hear me say to the husband,

'I think we've got time to slip a quick one in before bed'.

I reckon her reaction to the theme tune coming on will be similar to the other kids, except for one addition.

She'll probably shut the lounge door very quietly after her...

Monday, 21 November 2016

Just walkin' in the rain...

As we watched the weather forecast on Sunday evening between the marshmallow toasting and three more episodes of Breaking Bad (I'll speak about this at another time) my heart sank.  Heavy rain and strong winds were due to make an appearance on Sunday night, and would be hanging around until at least Monday night. 

Oh goody.

Now that son number two is in gainful employment, there was no chance I could delegate the early morning walk to him yesterday, and the husband was due at Mrs S's house to sort her plumbing out, which just left me to do it.  Having straight hair, which really likes to be frizzy, I try and avoid moisture wherever possible.  When I started straightening my hair, I did try and tell everyone that I was no longer able to use the steam iron or do the washing up, such was my hair's sensitivity to any sort of damp, and even fog may keep me in doors.  The husband, ever thoughtful as to my vanity, will often walk the fuzzballs if it's raining, just not yesterday.  As I piled on a hat, scarf, gloves, coat and wellies, he smirked at me....yes, you read right, he smirked, accompanying it with, 'Off you go, mad dog lady.  See you later'.  Nice. 

So out we went into the roaring maelstrom.  By the time I had dragged the dogs to the first corner (they like the rain just as much as I do), the dogs were wet and p*ssed off, and I was beginning to question the decision of wearing a woollen hat, as it was taking on water at quite some speed, making vision tricky to say the least as the weight of it caused the hat to slowly droop over one eye. 

We neared the second corner, and it was here that I became aware of the wet strip of jeans between the top of my wellies, and the bottom of my coat.  This is what happens when you walk in horizontal rain and also explains why my hurriedly applied mascara was heading south, giving me the appearance of an army recruit on manoeuvres, somewhere in the Brecon Beacons.

We managed about 22 minutes before I gave in and came home.  I had left a towel to dry the dogs off, but to be honest, by the time I had dried myself off, any rubbing down of them would just make them wetter.  I peeled off my coat, hat, scarf and wellies, leaving them in the middle of the kitchen floor in a limp puddle, and silently thanked whoever invented central heating. 

Some repair work was necessary before leaving for work, namely a quick mini blow dry and reapplication of my mascara, a full clothing change (knickers and all) and a friction rub on both thighs to encourage the return of my circulation.  As I left for work, I hoped that when I got back, and it was time for the afternoon walk that the weather would have improved somewhat.

It didn't...

Ah well.  Such is the life of a mad dog lady...

Party queen...

So let's do the checklist for the perfect party, shall we?

Birthday Boy - Very excited about bagged presents on specially assigned table. 
Venue - Beautifully presented.  Cold when we arrived, husband turned all radiators on, temperature perfect for seventeen minutes after which room took on the feel of standing at the front door of hell.  Husband sallied forth to turn all radiators off, and much time was spent on the balcony cooling down
Speech - Funny, emotional and short (as requested), even though Miss R decided to ad lib somewhat
Cake - A feat of magical design which tasted as good as it looked
Disco - Not so brilliant as on a volume restrictor. Interesting choice of vibes (1970's glam rock)
Karaoke - Veered between astonishing and excruciating.  Could've done with volume restrictor (see Disco)
Drink - Too much, too often, too free.
Dancing - Frantic with an element of 80's throwback (Miss R), Tiger Feet (also Miss R) and lap dancer (yes, you guessed, her again).

So a success all round I think, thanks to the organisational prowess of Miss R.  We had a great night, and so did our dad, who loves to be surrounded by his family, especially when they are carrying gift bags.

At the end of the party, our four decided to 'go on' to a club.  When they realised that an element of queuing in the torrential rain was involved, daughter number two who has hair which definitely doesn't count the wet stuff as a friend, decided that home was a better option.  They all trundled into a mini bus and headed home, getting to our front door about five minutes before the husband and me.  The picture which greeted us was one I shan't forget in a hurry.  Daughter number two, who was so worried about getting her hair wet, was hopping from foot to foot, screaming at the top of her voice that we needed to open the door as she needed a pee.  Silly girl, she'll realise as she gets older that all journeys are planned around a comfort stop.  I went before we embarked on the seven minute drive home.  Well, you can't be too careful, can you?

I was up bright and early on Sunday morning and looked around my house in despair.  You see, the trouble with having visiting adult children, is that they turn up like mini tornadoes, wreaking havoc wherever they go.  There were clothes, coats, shoes, empty Jaffa Cake tubes (drink=munchies with daughter number two in particular) and half drunk glasses of water everywhere. But the upside is that they tend to take everything back with them (except the empty Jaffa Cake tubes, that would be stupid) so once the general exodus started early evening, I was able to see the worktops again, which was reassuring.

I always gauge how good a night was by the amount of pain I'm in the following morning.  Although my head was fine, my knees were hurling abuse at each other and overnight, someone had swapped my legs over, such was the way I crabbed down the stairs.  But it was my feet which were the worst.  Every step felt like I was walking on glass, and two toes on my right foot seemed to have fused together overnight.  Oh the joy of a stiletto heel...

It must have been a good night, that's all I'm going to say...

Sunday, 20 November 2016

That's what friends are for...

I was at my best friend's house on Friday night for a Fish'n'Fizz night.  Mrs S, as you know, has recently moved into her new house (the one which saw me on lying on my stomach painting skirting boards, as well as my left boob, one pair of glasses and daughter number two's brand new Converse trainers) and she invited me and several other long term pals who live in her village, to spend the evening at her's, to celebrate. 

The husband, out for a meal with daughter number one, as neither of them had a better offer, had suggested that he dropped me down there so that I could partake of some of the Fizz.  As daughter number one was driving, this meant that the three of us getting into her miniscule car.  I bagsied the front seat, so the husband was in the back, his little nose pressed up against the rear window, and his legs in a position which wouldn't have looked amiss in a yoga class.  Luckily, it was a very short journey to Mrs S's house, and the husband was more than a little relieved to stretch himself out of his Half Downward Dog pose which had been necessary to get him in the back of the car.

So off they went to spend the evening with a dirty Mexican (I never ask questions) and I walked into the den of iniquity known in hushed terms locally as 'Number 3'.

Imagine my joy to be faced with several friends, some of whom I haven't seen for quite a while.  We had a fantastic evening and managed to cover many topics over three hours, none of which would be a shock to any woman between the ages of 45 and 55 if you know what I mean.  There was a lot of reminiscing, as the six of us have around 150 years of friendship between us, and there is something quite comforting knowing that you've shared some rather questionable life experiences (chiffon shorts - what were Mrs S and I thinking of) and survived.  It gives me hope when I look at our four....

Saturday saw a couple more large children arrive at the house making a total of six now.  We ran out of sofa space at about 3.45 yesterday, so son number two and ELL retreated upstairs to free up space for the husband and me.  This is one of the main problems with adult children.  They are all very tall, and like to sprawl, leaving me and the husband perched on the edges of the sofas like a pair of crinkly old lovebirds. 

On his way here, son number one messaged me to ask if the fridge was full.  I replied that it was, but I just couldn't guarantee that it would be full of what he wanted it to be. I'm not sure that rocket, goat's cheese and Petits Filous were on his list, but hey, you know what they say...

My house, my fridge...

Saturday, 19 November 2016

A perfect match...

So the party preparations are in full swing for tonight's celebration.  Presents have been bought and wrapped and cards have been written.  I eventually found the only suitable card in the shop, once I had steered myself away from the rude ones.  It would appear that it's bad form to be rude about someone's age once they are past 70.  I was tempted though.  There was one particular card which made me laugh so loudly, that I had to turn it into a coughing fit, causing the shop assistant who was refilling the drawers beside me, to leap up and pat me, not insubstantially, on the back.  But not to worry. Miss R has ordered a couple of two foot tall balloons for the birthday boy's table.  As he is rather short in stature, I may bring a booster seat for him, so that he can see over the constant, shiny reminder that he is now 75.  So an age-related insult of a card wasn't necessary in the end, as the latex says it all...

Miss R has also arranged a fantastic birthday cake for him.  I can't tell you what it is today, as it will spoil the surprise if you are going to the party.  We also don't want somebody spilling the beans by mistake.  There is another reason for not telling anyone, and that is because we are not too sure what we're getting.  We know what we ordered, but 'many a slip' and all that.

Miss R had sent photos, so we can probably assume that it will bear a resemblance, but you never know. The cake lady may have been looking at something else in the photo, and created that, not realising that it was THE BLOODY GREAT RED ***** IN THE CENTRE we were after.

I had to go and do a bit of last minute shopping before the barbarian hordes (aka our children) descended on us.  This consisted mainly of bananas and biscuits.  The bananas are for daughter number two and me. We can probably eat more bananas in a weekend that the entire Primate Section at London Zoo.  However the biscuits are solely for me, when comfort eating is the only escape when gazing upon a house which looks like it's been burgled and a pile of ironing the top of which is pure speculation.  I would imagine that by Sunday at around 4.26pm, I shall still be nursing a substantial hangover, and be unable to manage anything more than weak tea and a dunked digestive. 

While I am on the subject of biscuits, I rarely buy them, but for some reason I bought two packets this week, one of digestives and one of ginger nuts.  I bought the ginger nuts for the husband as I know he is partial to one with a cup of tea.  Now I didn't think that I liked ginger nuts (for some reason, they make me think of Mick Hucknall who always looks likes he needs a good wash) but worryingly, by Tuesday last week, I had really got into the swing of the ginger nuts, and my yesterday morning, I polished the last few off, without once thinking of the aforementioned Mr H or the husband and his penchant for them. 

I think that this explains why it was necessary for me to buy a new dress on Thursday to wear tonight.

As I had bought an appropriate size (one up from the dresses currently residing in my wardrobe), I might now be able to leave the industrial strength knickers off on Saturday.  In a way, this is a blessing, as it stops me worrying about my mortification should the need arise to be cut out of my clothes on the night.  This is a lifelong, irrational concern of mine, and guarantees that I will always wear matching underwear and never wear pop socks.  Now this may seem slightly bonkers to you, but what is probably more crazy is how appalled I can be when a friend tells me that she just throws on whatever comes to hand first.

And don't even get me started on odd socks...

Friday, 18 November 2016

You can keep your hat on...

Daughter number two returns home to the bosom of her family later today.

In preparation of her long anticipated return, before heading off to Binland yesterday, I schlepped up to her bedroom (previously the dogs' bedroom, more recently daughter number one's when the dogs fancy a bit of company) and changed the bed linen.  I also put clean towels in and gave her bathroom a quick once over.  I checked the freezer to make sure we had that revolting gluten free bread which she insists on (except when she'd had too much to drink, as she will eat anything at that point, gluten free or not) and I made space on the dressing table for all the electrical paraphernalia she uses for her hair.  So to be honest, short of preparing a fattened calf, everything was in place for her return.  All this before leaving for work at 8.00. No wonder I always look like I've been run over...

It's strange having adult children coming back to the house.  Part of you wants to treat them as if they are still kids, such as treating them to a takeaway, or cuddling up on the sofa.  The other part of you recognises that they will now view home through critical adult eyes.  Hence the clean sheets and sweet smelling loo.  It worries me that when she heads off back home on Sunday and her flatmate asks her whether she had a good time with 'the rents' as we are known, she'll say, 'It was great to see them, but my goodness, you should have seen the state of the shower'.

So I am doing a Hyacinth Bucket, and 'keeping up appearances'.   Luckily enough Lady H (she with the duster and an eye for detail) was here yesterday, so the house looked stunning (except for the bald patches on the stairs which even Lady H's magic wand can't remove).  If I make it lovely every time they come back home, they might just keep up with the visits.  Having said that, there may come a time when I've had enough of them letting themselves in and sprawling on my sofas.  That will be the point we move house without telling any of them where we've gone. 

Too harsh?  Perhaps...

Joking apart, I am really looking forward to having them all here for the family party this weekend.  Not only do we have our four at home, we have the LSB, fresh from the invigorating world of insurance, and ELL, son number two's best-friend-turned-girlfriend, and we also have Mr Ed, a friend of son number one's here.  On the night, it will be a frenzy of hairdryers and cufflinks, ties and tights and I'll probably be doing my best Mother Hen impression, running after them and sorting them all out, and then realise seven minutes before we leave that I resemble Aunt Sally and require a miracle.

Speaking of son number one, he is still rather incapacitated with his dislocated thumb (or a 'hurty finger' as son number two calls it very bravely when son number one is not in the house).  The bandage is the size of a rugby ball (fittingly) and I'm not too sure how I am going to get his Elephant Man-like appendage down a shirt sleeve.  I may have to buy him one of those shirts which male strippers wear with the Velcro fastenings.  We'll be alright unless the DJ plays 'You can Keep Your Hat On', at which point he'll probably rip the shirt off in front of the party guests and start gyrating on the dance floor. 

I know one person who would be rather thrilled to see this.

You know who you are...

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Don't speak...

I had a quick count up of the advent calendars yesterday.  I seem to still have a full complement of them which is surprising, as son number two and ELL have been knocking about over the last few days.  I have to keep buying them bars of chocolate to stop them from searching the house for the brown stuff such is their addiction.

With ELL now looking for a job son number two, who is four days away from starting his new job in recruitment, seems to think that he knows it all, and is handing out advice a plenty as to her interview technique.  This is like me borrowing a book from the library about a hairdresser, and then approaching someone on the way home, nail scissors in hand, and offering them a short back and sides.  It's just not going to happen.  I think son number two needs to complete at least a week of gainful employment before handing out advice to anyone who is in his vicinity clutching a P45.

Miss R and I are spending a lot of time on the phone this week as we have to do a speech at the big family party at the weekend.  It's very tricky doing it over the phone as each time she starts reading it out, I interrupt.  It's a bit like having a heckler twenty five miles away with a loud haler.  So she has now resorted to emailing me speeches.  I then tweak it and email it back.  I expect that by the time we have to do the speech, all that will be left is, 'Thanks for coming. Bar's there.  Cake's on its way.  Enjoy your evening'.  The recipient of the speech has asked that we keep it short so that we don't cut into valuable dancing time, so I think he'd be happy with our verbal brevity.

I'm really looking forward to the party as there will be dancing and karaoke.  The former will leave me with bad hair and knackered knees the next morning, and the latter will mean that I will wave goodbye to any dignity I may have left at the ripe old age of 53. I just love karaoke.  I have many fond memories of singing inappropriate songs at inappropriate times.  One example is singing 'Teenage Dirtbag' while out with the mother a couple of years ago, and I have also been known to sing a little Meatloaf while dressed up to the nines.

Daughter number two has followed in my footsteps where this is concerned.  On holiday in Spain one year, I left my then 12 year old daughter number two with Miss R one evening as she wanted to stay up late.  When she hadn't returned back to the hotel by 2.00am, I sent the husband down to the bar to look for her.  Imagine his surprise (this is sarcasm) when he walked into the bar to see daughter number two belting out 'Like a Virgin' to the late night drinkers.  Miss R, the responsible adult looking after daughter number two, was slumped over a half drunk gin and tonic at the table.  The crowd looked like they might turn nasty when the husband bundled the two of them off to bed, as daughter number two had promised them her version of Justin Timberlake's 'Sexyback'. 

Miss R and I think that this is probably why the private club, which is hosting the big family party, has moved us to a smaller building away from their main house and club members.

When the average age of a club member is 79, you can't be too careful...

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

You wear it well...

We're having a big family do next weekend, and now that my industrial strength knickers have arrived (don't you just love Amazon Prime) there is a slightly higher than average chance of me getting into my dress of choice.  Looking at the knickers, they are so small that I may have to resort to a tab of Vaseline and a couple of shoehorns to get them on.  I'll worry about getting them off again at the end of the party, but hopefully, the alcohol will numb the pain as the elastic removes several layers of skin and a kneecap as I drag them down over my legs...

So the invite said 'Smart Casual', which always sends me into a frantic downward spiral, resulting in every piece of clothing I possess being tried on and discarded onto one of two piles.  There is the Definitely Not Pile (always the smaller of the two) and then there is the Does This Pass As Smart Casual As I Really Don't Have A Bloody Clue What That Means Pile (this usually takes up most of my bedroom floor).

It's very easy for men when they get this clothing guidance on their invitation, as they know it means chinos (not jeans), a shirt (with or without tie) and a jacket.  For those gentlemen who naturally veer towards a more formal dress code, then a suit is also acceptable.  When you think about it, all Smart Casual says to a bloke is no dinner suit or jeans, anything else is perfect.  But for us girls, it's a bloody minefield.

Because I wear jeans and leggings most of the time (courtesy of the dogs and working in Binland) when the opportunity arises to wear a dress, I normally jump at it.  I have several frothy frocks in my wardrobe, all of which I have reluctantly put on the Definitely Not Pile, as they have either netting, sequins, a train or sparkles which pushes them towards a Black Tie event (there's no confusion as to what that dress code is).  Next on the list are a couple of maxi dresses, which although lovely, are made of jersey.  Therefore, they are strictly for summer use only (think barbecue, cricket, school speech day etc). 

And don't get me started on black trousers.  I am fully aware that these can be a staple item of clothing, easily adapted to any scenario depending on which top you put with them, but to me, they just don't cut it for a Smart Casual look.  I do remember someone once telling me that we only register what someone is wearing from the waist upwards.  I could have saved some money and not bought those industrial strength knickers if that's true. 

But if you decide that trousers are the way forward, it's then the turn of the accompanying footwear to screw you over.  No boots, no suede, no flats, no wedges.  Well once I had mentally discarded all shoes which fell into these categories, all that was left in the way of footwear in my wardrobe was a pair of knitted slipper boots with one sole missing (thank you Reg).  So trousers were off the list of possibles.

So back to my dresses.  I managed to whittle it down to four which could be suitable.  Dresses 1, 2 and 3 were reluctantly put to one side.  This was because no manner of industrial knicker was going to allow me to get the zips done up.  Actually, it would still have been difficult even if I'd had liposuction done and had a leg removed.  That's a little bit extreme though, and I don't fancy pogo-ing all night with my one leg...

So I eventually settled on a lovely red dress, lacy with a little give so that the industrial strength knickers won't have to work so hard.  I say this, but there are four days and a Fish and Chip Night between now and the dress, and there's not that much room available for any more expansion.

Not to worry, I have my Uncle Fester cassock on standby with a pair of beaded sandals and a pretty clutch bag ...

Perfect...

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Day by day...

The Christmas theme continued yesterday with Sunday's roast dinner leftovers being turned into a most excellent Bubble and Squeak.  The husband has strange ideas about Bubble and Squeak.  He wanted to put the gravy and cauliflower cheese into the frying pan with the other leftovers, but one look from me was enough to ensure that these were reheated separately.  It's how they do it in the North apparently, but I reminded him that as an adopted Southern softy, he was to leave all these fanciful ideas behind.  He'll be sticking chips in a sandwich next....

So it's about now that I start thinking that I have a lot more time till Christmas than I actually have.  This manifests itself in a way that I feel Christmassy enough, but without the panic which closes in on me the nearer we get to the 25th.  I'm not cooking Christmas lunch this year, as it is Miss R's turn, so that is one thing I don't have to worry about, but every year, I have a virtual back burner which everything sits on until all hell breaks loose around the 12th.  It's then, and only then, that I start to worry about what I am going to get everyone, and I have been known to resemble a Tasmanian Devil (this year will be worse, as the menopause and the Tasmanian Devil are the best of friends I would imagine).

There is only one Christmas task that that gets done early, and this has been the same since time began.  I always buy the Advent calendars far too early (the day before yesterday to be precise).  Having so many children (and partners) I am terrified that the shops will run out, so as soon as the supermarkets have got rid of the barbecue tools and citronella candles, refilling the shelf with what is basically chocolate and tinsel, I am there with my basket.  I had to buy six this year, as a couple of the children have partners, and although I now have them, calendar handover has to be timed very carefully.

Son number two and ELL have the purest of chocolate addictions, so if I hand them over too soon, there is the very good chance that they will have cut out the back of the calendar and eaten all the chocolate, before you could say 'three wise men'.  The evidence of this would be a couple of prematurely skeletal advent calendars  thrown in the bin, foil ripped back as if a couple of rabid hyenas had got to them.

Daughters number one and two are very sensible, and probably will forget that they even have them.  But never fear, son number two, who can sniff out Dairy Milk at 50 yards, will have located the aforementioned confectionary countdowns, and eaten the lot.  Daughter number one usually finds out what he has done sometime around Easter.  This is what happened last year with her Cadbury selection box, which son number two had located, emptied and replaced (now devoid of any chocolate) within ten minutes of her going back to work in January.

I post son number one's to his student squat on the South coast.  A couple of years ago, I also sent down several for his flatmates.  When they called to thank me, the tone of their voices told me that the calendars would be lucky to survive the end of the phone call, let alone December. A student's lot is not a happy one when all your student loan has been spent on Frosty Jacks and doner kebabs, so I expect the chocolate was a most welcome change.

I do have a bit of a quandary this year though.  Miss R, who turned up for my Winter 2016 Maiden Sunday Roast, came bearing gifts in the shape of four advent calendars for the kids.  Please note, ELL and LSB how you two were overlooked...remember that when you are considering presents for your possible future mother-in-law....  Son number two and ELL already have their beady eyes trained on them, and I shall have to hide these carefully to avoid a repeat of one year, when I had to buy more calendars in December to replace the ones eaten in a November frenzy.

I suppose I could always give them to the husband as he bled my radiators last night.

As you know, I am a firm believer in rewarding good behaviour....
 

Monday, 14 November 2016

Rockin' around the Christmas tree...

It was a big day for the husband yesterday.  Not because he had his first roast lunch of the season, nor because he found a can of forgotten custard in the cupboard.  No, this was far more momentous. 

For the first time in the ten years we have lived in our current home, the husband pre-ordered the Christmas tree.  This may seem a bit weird to some of you, but there have been several Christmases which have been ruined by the 'wrong' tree being picked at the last minute.  The tree traditionally stands in the hall, where it has free rein to climb up to the upstairs ceiling, a height of around twenty feet.  Over the years, the husband has shown levels of restraint interspersed with complete insanity where the height of the tree is concerned and I would like to share with you some of the problems I have been forced to address, over years.

Christmas 2011
The tree was 19' tall.  What the husband failed to realise was that the taller it is at the top, the wider it is at the bottom.  Subsequently, I was unable to walk from the front door to the kitchen, having instead to go through  the lounge, over the sofa, through the door into my office and then into the kitchen.  I also couldn't carry any basket of clean washing up the stairs, without collecting several thousand pine needles en route as the branches stretched across the staircase...and you don't want pine needles in your knickers ladies.

All children present to help decorate the tree - time taken two hours.  This did not include time spent using the fork lift which we needed to get it on the back of the trailer.

Christmas 2014
Yet again, another whopper - this time, you were unable to actually see the top of the tree as it was so wide.  It simply resembled a rather unruly hedge.  When the husband cut the net of the tree, the only way out was through the front door, where he waited till I returned home.  I found this very funny for some reason, but my laughter was short lived when I realised that it was going to be two weeks of prickly knickers again.

One child and a boyfriend (pinned beneath the tree at one point) present to help decorate the tree - time taken four hours.

Christmas 2015
This was a disaster as it was too small (the husband's words, not mine) and barely reached the top of the stairs.  The husband sulked about this throughout Christmas which explains his determination to pre-order the tree this year.

No children present, but smaller tree meant much quicker decoration time of three hours.  However, by the time I had  hung almost a thousand decorations, there were only about three square inches of green visible.  Might as well have had an artificial one...

And then there is the dissembling.  For some reason, almost every year I have done this alone, sawing the branches off one by one and throwing them out onto the drive.  2014's tree had two nests in it, whilst last year's dropped needles by the thousand every time someone walked past, or spoke too loud in the hall. 

So this year's 16' tree has been ordered, and I have already booked all four children and partners where available, to do tree decorating.  However, there are three words which keep repeating themselves...

Christmas Tree.....Reg.....

There will be no balls hanging low in my house this year, that's for sure...

Sunday, 13 November 2016

It's good news week...

You should all know by now about my family's Saturday ritual.  Yesterday's was slightly different.

For a start son number two and ELL were there.  I had just got used to them both being away, when all of a sudden, within two weeks, they are both back again.  You all know how much that boy can eat, and I mentally tallied up how much money breakfast was going to cost.  Daughter number one turned up too, just as the lovely waitress was taking the food order, so I knew that deep in the dark depths of my handbag, my purse was weeping.

So we all had breakfast and caught up on each other's weeks.  The big news was as follows:

Mrs Jangles had overslept one day this week by two hours.  I did suggest that she had put the clock forward instead of back, but apparently it was her cleaner's fault for turning the alarm volume down while doing some vigorous dusting.

The mother was off to see some Spanish horses dancing about Wembley Arena.  I am anticipating a Paso or a Salsa, but am struggling to imagine a horse in stacked heels and with a fake tan.

Miss R was heading off to St Albans for lunch and retail therapy.  I did want to tease her with a story about an old ruin and an even older relic spending the afternoon together, but decided against it. 

Daughter number one had taken delivery of the rest of new kitchen.  The question did arise as to what she was doing at breakfast when the husband was at her flat 'doing' things.  In all fairness, the husband was doing manly jobs, so she may just have got in the way.

Son number two and ELL had been clubbing on Friday night after a posh meal celebrating their escape from student life. 

My big news was what the body part was on the surprise birthday cake.  The mother and Mrs Jangles practically pinned me down for answers and I eventually gave in and told them.  Their relief was palpable...

So one by one, everyone left to go about the rest of their weekends.  Eventually, it was just me, the Mother and Mrs Jangles.

'Glass of wine?'  I asked.  There was a reason behind this - I had just got my hair done, and was reluctant to go out into the maelstrom which the weatherman had called 'intermittent showers'.  I'll give him 'intermittent showers'.  I had a hat, a hood and a cheap umbrella, but wasn't convinced that it would be enough protection to stop me looking like I had combed my hair with a firework.

Those of you who know my aunt and mother will not be at all surprised to know that I only got as far as the word 'Glass', before they both agreed to a glass of Malbec.  This bought me another hour before heading out into the great outdoors which was perfect, as by then the weather had calmed down to a dull roar.  Duly bundled up, I headed back to the car and then onto home.

Oh, and before I sign off, I know you want to know what the extra large body part was on the cake, don't you.

Well it was a pair of flappy ears, sticking out at right angles like a couple of handles.

There, happy now?

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Life is a lemon, and I want my money back...

You'll be pleased to know that despite four sleeping policemen, one mini roundabout and copious potholes, my cake arrived at Binland in one piece, with even the large body part remaining firmly attached.  Once handed over to my friend, I was free of any responsibility, and when my friend asked me what to do if it fell off on her journey home, I went all Madagascan penguin on her and said 'Spit and stick my friend, spit and stick'.  I'm looking forward to seeing the birthday boy next week after his surprise party...he hasn't got a clue....

So ELL (son number two's glorious girlfriend) returned home yesterday after much soul-searching.  She's very similar to him in that she loves home and family more than university life.  To see them together yesterday afternoon was like turning the clock back.  There was a lot of ribbing and laughing, but more importantly, as Reg Presley of the Troggs would say (Marti Pellow of Wet, Wet, Wet if you're younger than 35) 'Love is all around'.  These two just seem to fit and to see them happy again makes me smile. 

Son number one continues to mend in the thumb department.  I'm not saying that personal appearance is important to him, but a message popped up from him yesterday asking us to buy a different sling, as he wasn't too keen on the purple one which the NHS had supplied him with FREE OF CHARGE.  I think he should have kept the purple one as it would have co-ordinated beautifully with the black eye he'll get if he asks to use my Amazon Prime account again. 

So life starts to calm down once again.  I sometimes feel that I am on a bungee rope, with that lull just as you are whipped back into the sky again, before plummeting down to earth once more.  But such is the lot of a parent.  It seems that every Monday I say to the husband, that maybe this week will be the one when it all calms down.  This optimism usually lasts till Tuesday lunchtime when one of the ankle biters will call with any one of the following...

I'm leaving university...

I've fallen out with...(insert friend/lover/sibling as appropriate)

I have no money and can't feed myself (unless you count cheap booze as a food group)

I've broken/torn my... (so far we've had arm, ligaments, tendons, thumb, collar bone - this phone call normally comes at around 10.00pm just as we're getting into bed)

My car needs an MOT but I don't have time to do it (guess what, neither do I...)

Can you proof read my dissertation (fine, but could do with more warning that twenty four hours before submission)

But now that three of the offspring are gainfully employed, with just son number one still in education, albeit with a purple-soon-to-be-black-sling, we seem to be entering a calmer phase, which I hope will here for some time.

Who am I kidding...

Friday, 11 November 2016

What's new pussycat...

On Wednesday, the best friend and I headed off to the cinema to see 'A Street Cat Named Bob'.  Now I'm not really a cat lover.  I'm not too sure whether Mrs S is, but as she keeps no animals, let's assume she isn't.  Why was it then, two hours later, we were both just a little bit in love with Bob?  The story, if you don't know it, is about a homeless busker, who, once Bob comes into his life, finds happiness and success.  If only every pet were the same...

Since Reg has come into my life, all I have known is poverty (the pet shop have bled me dry with their expensive suggestions of what to buy next to curb the chewing) and heartbreak (my slippers, my rug, my door stop and my toy schnauzer).  I was thinking yesterday what a film about Reg would be like, and then I suddenly remembered.  They've already made a couple of films with a similar storyline.  Jaws springs to mind,  but Piranha (the original, not the remake) and Grizzly would also fit the bill.

Anyway, back to the film.  Mrs S and I both agreed that it was a wonderful British film, one of those which gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling (without alcohol being in the vicinity) and what impressed me most was that for some of the film, Bob was played by himself.  But here's the strange thing.  He had several body doubles who also appeared in the film.  Apparently a lot of these cats (of both sexes - let's hear it for long fur) were brought over from Canada to be in the film.  Turns out that the body doubles weren't too happy about acting in London, so Bob had to do those bits.  I can just imagine him pushing them out of the way, striding towards the set, saying, 'Let the professional through luvvies'.

Mrs S and I set the world to rights before and after the film, as I was driving her home.  Just as we pulled up outside her house, the husband called to tell me that I hadn't answered his calls.

'I was in the cinema with the phone on mute'.

You didn't even answer my texts'.

'That's because I was in the cinema with my phone on mute'.

Mrs S, sensing that this could be the start of a domestic, hurriedly gathered herself up and almost ran to the front door.  The husband persisted.

'Not even WhatsApp....you didn't even see the messages on that?'

I was getting a bit miffed now, so I said very slowly.

'No.  I was in the cinema...WITH MY PHONE ON MUTE'.

And then he told me.  Son number one, always keen to position himself at the bottom of a rugby scrum had dislocated his thumb, and the husband was beetling down to the seaside to see him in the hospital.  The doctors had tried to pop it back in with no success, so a small operation was required yesterday. 

The husband had a sleepover down there so I had to share the bed with another grey haired snorer in his absence.  I must say though, Reg was very well behaved, although he did take the opportunity of my being asleep to 'bury' a piece of chewed toy under my pillow which I found at about 4.00 yesterday morning.

With the operation done, before and after photos were posted on our family messaging app.  Apparently, he had a plastic surgeon do the op.  I was tempted to see whether I could have got the husband's ears reduced slightly while he was down there, but unfortunately, there wasn't a BOGOF offer on yesterday.

Another time perhaps...

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Life for rent...

I was most relieved yesterday morning, to see that the large body part hadn't dropped off my icing man overnight. The spaghetti was holding it all together beautifully.  I still have the writing to do on the cake, but I'm steeling myself up for this afternoon, because as well as the obligatory 'Happy Birthday' it also has some foul language on it.  Not too sure how my delicate nature is going to cope with that later on, but I'll do my best.  I may have to shut my eyes as I write out the words.  Trouble is, it might come out as 'Hippy Bathday' which could be interesting.

Son number two has still not come down from his pink fluffy employment cloud as yet, and is mentally calculating what his first pay check will be.  As we discussed his salary, the question of rent came up.  Now this is a tricky one, as historically, I have never charged any of my children rent.  But this time it's different as he is earning a substantial salary, so more than able to afford a bit of rent.  I told him that I didn't want any money from him, but he was insistent, asking me to think about it and come back to him with a figure.

Well this set the old grey matter going.  And I started listing all the chargeable services he currently receives free of charge.

Food - The biggest expenditure of all.  When he left for university, my food bill reduced by a hundred pounds a week. No longer was I hauling a trolley around Tesco with precariously balanced sugar-based foods spilling over the top like the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.  While he was away, I turned into a trendy basket lady, often paying cash for my purchases which barely covered the bottom of the basket. I suppose it's safe to say then, that £100 per week is a good starting point for the food.

Living Accommodation - A house my size would cost around £500 a week to rent.  As there are only four of us in here at the moment, his share would be £125.00 per week.  I know he'll nit-pick about the two empty rooms courtesy of son number one and daughter number two, but this forms part of the Housewife's Perks Charter.  This Charter also includes ownership of any money found in unchecked pockets, in case you're wondering what else is on there.  I am able to supplement my weekly budget quite substantially on occasions (usually when drink has been involved, or the kids are at home).

Laundry Service - I reckon three service washes a week which amounts to £75.00.  This doesn't include the extra charge I would make for turning jeans in the right way, or undoing shirt buttons, but bearing in mind the cost for living accommodation, I'll swallow that extra bit.

Cleaning Service - his share £20.00.  Actually, this isn't strictly true, but as he makes more mess than me and the other two in the house put together, I reckon that's fair.

So all in all, I reckon he needs to pay me £220.00 a week rent. 

I just hope that this job has the option for overtime...

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Long haired lover from Liverpool...

Having moved on from the Machiavellian plans of lounge domination courtesy of the imaginary Spuddy at my side, yesterday was a slightly gentler one.  Of course there was work (always an absolute pleasure as you know) but I then had a bit of a 'throwback' afternoon. 

Once upon a time, before I hit the dizzy heights of sales at Binland, I was a cake maker.  I'm not talking about the odd sponge here and there for family consumption, but more of a seventy hour week of around two hundred drizzles, sponges and scones.  The main part of my work was supplying shops, but every now and again, someone would approach me and ask me to make a special birthday cake.  Over the years I created everything from 1970's Elvis (white cat-suit phase, complete with snarling lip and navel) to a pair of 36DD's encompassed in black lace. 

These were for a man's birthday, and as I am not particularly well endowed in the bosom department, I had to guess what went where.  I remember very clearly son number two, who would have been about eight at the time, asking me whether the cake was a pair of 'thingies', because if it was, then they didn't look right.  Naturally I enquired as to how he would know if my 'thingies' were right or not.  Turns out he was using mine as a comparison, so perhaps a couple of Bakewell tarts would have looked more authentic to him.

So when a lovely friend was telling me about a mutual friend's special birthday, I offered to make the birthday cake.  There were various criteria to be met, one of which was a large body part.  Now I can't give away as to what this was, but I did my best.  The trouble was that I no longer have all the tools and gadgets which I had build up in my cake empire, so a lot of improvising took place yesterday afternoon.  The first problem was the oversized body part - it kept dropping off, no matter how much water I used.  In the end I had to resort to a piece of dry spaghetti pierced through to hold it place.  Hopefully it will be removed before he's cut into...

The next problem was the hair.  I know the person fairly well, but for the life of me couldn't remember if he was completely bald or not.  Previous experience has told me that the cake's recipient is always rather pleased if the model has more hair than they actually have.  Better that than the other way round I suppose.  So my man is fairly hirsute - I'll have to take a sneaky look at him tomorrow just to check that I haven't got it completely wrong.  I can always give him a quick number 3 if he needs it.

But the highlight of my day had to be when son number two returned from a particularly gruelling interview day.  He is now gainfully employed in a cracking job, and I am extremely proud of him doing this having only left university less than two weeks ago. 

It's a new start...

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Hand in my pocket...

I realised yesterday that it is only two weeks before I have to don a posh frock for a big family 'do'.  Having come to the conclusion that my Uncle Fester cassock (with or without pillow stomach) will  not suit the occasion, a new eating regime has been introduced for the next two weeks.  This entails cutting out anything I like eating, and will probably mean that the husband will want to stop talking to me round about Wednesday, while I survive on water and lettuce.  It's not that extreme actually, and I'm sure that the odd piece of flapjack will wheedle its way past my pathetic self-control (probably on Fat Friday at work)  but I am determined to lose the few pounds which I seem to have put on since last wearing the dress I have in mind for the 'do'.  I say few pounds, but I think I am erring on the side of downright lies when I say this.  Either way, I'm going to do my best, and with the help of my vacuum knickers, I might just pull it off...

The husband and I had a very quiet Sunday after the raucous night at Miss R's on Saturday.  We ended up in a very lacklustre garden centre somewhere between Bracknell and home, enjoying an equally uninspired lunch.  While we were ploughing our way through it, I said to the husband that the garden centre had its Christmas stuff out.  The first mention of Christmas always elicits a rolling of the eyes, accompanied with a 'But it's only November.  Far too early for all that'. 

I on the other hand get all giddy at the smallest bit of sparkle, and shot over to where it all was as soon as I was finished.  Two things caught my eye, but probably not for the reason you think.  The first item was one of those large heated slippers which both feet could go into.  Nothing wrong with that, I hear you all say, but what was weird was that all of them were famous cartoon characters, so were obviously targeted at the younger generation.  I thought that these were only to be used  by old people, but it now seems that the manufacturers feel that it's ok to encourage children to sit on the sofa all day in their dressing gowns, while their feet roast to epic proportions.  Get them outside I say, before chilblains and frostbite become a thing of the past.  For goodness sake, the kids will be wanting gloves next....

The second item took some investigating before I realised what it was.   Another cuddly toy, with the name Spuddy emblazoned across the shelf.  These were about a foot tall/round/side to side and were dressed in various guises.  I picked up the Batman one and tipped it this way and that to try and find out what it was for.  As I turned it around it all made sense.  This was a cuddly toy, with handy pockets for the remote control, beer and snacks.  How do I know this?  Because it was very usefully embroidered onto each pocket so there would be no confusion as to what went where, what with men being simple creatures and all that.  To be honest, I couldn't see the attraction, as I couldn't find one which matched my couch.  There was an Elvis one which came close (he had no trousers though) and I even considered the Mob Barley one with dreadlocks and the Mr Tea, resplendent with gold bling.  But the trouble was, there wasn't one for us girls. I get the beer/remote/snacks combo for the fellas, but what would I put in one for me?

After much thought, and bearing in mind that I would be on the couch watching TV while my Spuddy sat next to me (I'm not referring to the husband here in case you're wondering), here is what I decided on...

Missiles
This would contain several walnuts to launch at the husband when he was snoring

Gin
Never mind one bottle of beer. I calculated that I could get five miniature of Gordons in the pocket

Batteries
Taken out of the remote control after I had decided what I wanted to watch that night

What would yours contain?

Answers on a postcard ladies...

Monday, 7 November 2016

Fireworks...part two...

So Part two is where it got messy.

A decision had been made by my family that as there were five of us going to Miss R's late Halloween/Fireworks Party, then we would go as The Adams Family.  The line up was as follows:

Gomez (Dad of the family, spiv) : Son number two
Morticia (mum, vamp, sexy) : ELL (Son number two's girlfriend)
Uncle Fester (Old, bald and fat) : Yours truly
Wednesday (Young girl, solemn, plaited): Daughter number one
Pugsley (Small boy, big stomach) : The husband

Now my character and the husband's both had stomachs larger that those we posses naturally, so pillows were taken from the bed and stuffed up the husband's t-shirt and my cassock.  The husband, playing the part of a small boy, donned a pudding basin wig, and I was sporting a bald head and a face so white that I almost glowed in the dark. 

We all looked great (courtesy of one of my lovely readers, Mrs H) and tipped up at Miss R's at the allotted time.  As we all stood on her doorstep clicking our fingers in the mostly appropriate places (the husband has no rhythm, so clicked willy-nilly), Miss R looked round to see where I was.  Finally settling on the bleached whale (courtesy of the face paint and pillow) her shock when I spoke was brilliant, and it set the tone for the night.  The great thing about playing an overweight bloke in a cassock is that I could let it all hang out, and there was a lot of frenetic dancing in the living room.

Now the pillow tummies had advantages in that the husband and I didn't feel the cold when we were outside when the fireworks were lit, but on the bad side, they made us sweat.  I also had the added disadvantage of my cassock rope being the only thing standing between my rotund shape and the results of a crash diet.  The husband managed to keep his pillow in place all night (slightly too small a t-shirt), but I relented around midnight.  I suppose I was worried that the heat might rise (as it tends to do) and melt my face.  Now that would have been something to terrify small children with...

I do need to go back to the fireworks at this point.  My nephew, Master J, was in charge of the fireworks, and we 'oohed' and 'aahed' in all the right places as the first five rockets went up.  Then disaster struck as it often does in home grown displays.

Three of the rockets were imbedded too deeply in the lawn (Master J being over zealous with his rubber mallet again) and basically just exploded, shooting hot sparks everywhere.  I had been standing on the corner of the house, ever cautious, and missed the rest of the fireworks as I was crouched behind the wall mounted hose pipe with my eyes shut just in case.

I eventually managed to scrape the remains of my family together around 2.00am and rounded them up towards the car. 

As we drove home, someone who shall remain nameless slurred that he/she needed to be sick.

As he/she struggled across to get to the window, his/her timing was off cue, and he/she managed to throw up before we had a chance to open the window. 

And it all started so well....



Sunday, 6 November 2016

Fireworks...part one...

There is a very expensive pet shop in Marlow which I do my best to walk past every time I'm there.  It's not an easy task, I can tell you, but to date, I have managed to keep walking, preferring the cheaper independent one further down the road. 

However...

Yesterday morning, we were all sitting around the table in Baroosh, when a lifelong friend of Miss R joined us.  He looked terrible, and under interrogation, finally revealed the reason for his snowy pallor and the heavy, grey bags dragging beneath his eyes.  It turned out that as well as being a complete martyr to a bad back, he was also having problems with a rescue dog which had come to live with him and his mother some months ago.  It turns out that the dog, Penny, has a problem with loud noises.  Friday night, being the first of two when fireworks were being launched, had reached a hiatus with the diminutive Penny cowering under the dining table, shaking like a leaf and barking consistently for two hours.

I suggested to the lifelong friend that turning the television and radio up might have helped disguise the noise, but they had tried that without much success.   All that happened was that the dog barked louder, and the lifelong friend and his mother had to have an early night as they both had headaches.  They had also spent the two hours mouthing questions to the other over the racket, using hand signals to complement the miming, so it was no wonder that he looked a little shabby around the edges.

'Have you tried a thunder shirt?' I suggested.  He looked at me as if I was talking nonsense, and thought I meant it was for him to wear.  I also recommended the calming tablets and the pheromone spray which Reg has as alternatives to the aforementioned shirt.

So that is why we ended up in the very expensive pet shop.  Of course, once you are in there, you don't have a hope in hell of leaving without being relieved of a vast amount of money.  The lifelong friend managed to walk out of the shop with the pheromone spray and collar, while I bought chews, food and a couple of lights for the dogs for night time walks.

As we said goodbye to him at the top of the high street, I wished him luck for the second firework night. 

'You know what?' he said, 'Maybe I'll wear the collar and sit next to the pheromone spray.  I might sleep through the whole bloody lot'.

Now why didn't I think of that...

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Who are you...

You know what happens when you have two nights out on the trot planned?  At around 5.00 on the evening of the first night out, you start to worry whether it's a good idea to have two Big Nights Out.  Luckily for us, last night's jaunt was a relatively quiet party for a friend who has finally reached his 50th birthday.  Drinks, curry, parking ticket (that husband of mine wouldn't listen), home to bed, that kind of night.  Saturday night however, looks to be slightly messier....

Miss R is having a belated Halloween Party tonight.  As you know, my birthday falls on Halloween, so I look upon any Halloween party as my own personal event.  I plan my costumes meticulously, and much thought goes into wearing the right outfit.  I have organised the outfits for me, the husband, daughter number one, son number two and ELL.  I can't say what we are going as because I don't want to ruin the fun when Miss R opens her front door around 8.00pm tonight, but I am actually more worried about the drive over.  The husband will be driving (I haven't told him this yet), and when I tell you tomorrow what he went as, you'll understand why I am so worried.

Our neighbours are having fireworks in the meadow again this year, and the husband has worked out that we could go there first before heading over to Miss R's.  Again, bearing in mind how we will be dressed, I may stay in the car and wave from the window...

Going back to fancy dress, I absolutely love dressing up, and am the proud owner of four IKEA bags full of costumes and props.  My favourite costume, which absolutely nobody has had the balls to wear yet, is a full size whoopee cushion.  Now I can think of nothing better than wearing something which doesn't require stomach sucking in, sensible shoes, nylon or a hat.  I suppose this is why I have opted for the costume I have planned for tomorrow.  I will be able to let it all hang out, and no one will be the wiser as to what is going on underneath.  I can also wear fairly sensible shoes, which is great - there be no stiletto heels sinking into the grass as we 'oooh' and 'aaah' at the fireworks. 

Talking of fireworks, there have been a couple of close shaves (literally) over the last two years with Roman Candles turning into Scud missiles and Catherine Wheels becoming Wheels of Fortune as they break loose from the wonky fence panel at the end of the garden.  When things go wrong, the female contingent always shout out great advice, such as 'Are you sure you have it up the right way?'  or my personal favourite. 'You mustn't go back to an unlit firework..'  I'm not one to encourage dangerous activities, but surely you are going to have to go back to it at some time?  Maybe when you are getting the deckchair out of the shed several months later, it might be safe.

Of course, the men (always men as there is a naked flame involved) are always in charge of the fireworks, just as the women are always in charge of the washing up.

Oh, and the costumes.  We're always in charge of the costumes.

After last night's parking ticket, the husband would do well to remember this next year...

Friday, 4 November 2016

Smells like teen spirit...

Something has died in son number two 's bedroom...

Any of you reading this who have a son (or two) will understand that allowances have to be made for their bedrooms.  Unlike daughters, who are fond of scatter cushions, cuddly toys and a fragranced candle, the pervading whiff of a teenage boy's bedroom usually involves sweaty socks, forgotten bed snacks and far too much aftershave.  As the smell in son number two's bedroom seemed to start being more noticeable when he came home from university last Thursday, I had merely put it down to the three damp towels which I found in one of his many bin liners.  But as the days have worn on, and the bags have been emptied, the smell has reached a level that no human should ever have to experience.  It was round about lunchtime yesterday that the penny finally dropped.

You'll remember that I had reason to call on Andrew the Ratman's services a couple of weeks ago, when the scuttlings in the roof started to become so loud, that the husband suggested that we may have something substantially larger that a mouse up in there.  He was considering going up there with a wooden chair and a whip, but apathy got the better of him, and Andrew was called out instead.

Now the traps Andrew put down had seen off a couple of the little blighters, and the poison had been taken by some of the more savvy ones.  I am therefore assuming that some poor mouse, with eyes bigger than his tiny belly, having partaken of the poison, is currently residing in son number two's bedroom wall cavity giving off an almighty whiff.

Now the theory behind the poison, is that it makes the mouse very thirsty, so he heads off out of the roof and into the great outdoors searching for water.  Well it would appear that this particular chap took a left instead of a right, ending up in a very tight cul de sac with no way out.  Someone told me yesterday that this smell could last up to two months, which is something to look forward to.

As well as using up can after can of Febreze (I'll give them 'odour elimination'), I have been lighting candles throughout the house, in the vain hope that this will mask the smell, and as long as son number two keeps his bedroom door shut, we seem to be stopping it from running rampant through the rest of the house.  I daren't put candles in his bedroom though, as I am concerned that the gases which the mouse is giving off could be a hazard if they come into contact with the naked flame.  One change in wind direction would be all it takes...

Now son number two loves his bedroom.  Let me rephrase that.  He really loves his bedroom, and yesterday I realised how bad it was in there.  He came downstairs just before his best friend-turned-girlfriend ELL was tipping up (how we've missed that girl).  Standing in the doorway, he said to me,

'Mum I can't sleep in there anymore.  Can I go into another bedroom?'  Well of course, this is fine, as I have several empty rooms, but the killer comment was when he told me that he would have been fine if his cold had hung around a bit longer.  As it was, as his nose cleared, the smell was revealed in all its putrid glory.

So his bedroom is now lying dormant, windows thrown open, and door firmly closed.  It will be some time before anyone ventures back in there.

Especially me...

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Hi ho silver lining...

The fall out from Mug-Gate continued yesterday.  I decided not to take my 'I Love my Schnauzer' mug into Binland, purely for the reason that there are some people in my office who would jump to an inappropriate conclusion, not knowing that I was talking about my dogs at home.  Instead I took a mug in guaranteed to cause a bit of a stir (excuse the pun). It was a mug which daughter number two had got after a work experience week at Sita (one of our main rivals at Binland).  I'll be honest with you, I was surprised that it lasted  till lunchtime, and I am expecting it to be in several pieces on my desk when I go into work this morning, pushed off my desk in a fit of pique.

Going back to yesterday, the lovely lady from the television came back in the afternoon to do the last few hours of filming.  I very conveniently had a hottie as she turned up and we chatted about how life was going on in Menopause Mansion while I flapped at my face furiously.  While chatting to her about my continuing love for the Red Clover, I grabbed the box from the top of the microwave.  I said to her how careful I was when taking this as the Red Clover box sat right next to Reg's calming tablets.  I'm not convinced that the tablets are interchangeable - after all, they do the same job.  Perhaps if I took Reg's the only extra benefit would be a glossy coat and wet nose...

The filming went really well, with me only needing several attempts of opening the washing machine door the right way.  You'll remember from my last blog how it is the simple things which let you down.  If I remember rightly, it was a bowl of potatoes which caused me the most trouble last time. They were very well travelled by the time they actually made it to the table.  It only took three hours this time which brings my filming to a total of fifteen hours.  All this for twenty two minutes of programme.  I'm not the only unfortunate middle aged lady whose menopause they have been following, so I am anticipating that yours truly will be on air for about two minutes in total.  As well as the other participants, I am also sharing the programme with some Loose Women.  I can't even begin to explain to you how confusing this was for my dad last night when he came to dinner.  Even now, I am sure that he is convinced that I have been knocking about with some ladies of ill repute over the last few months.

All the children are threatening to come home to watch this aired in a few weeks' time.  I'm not sure that I'm happy with being in the same room as them when we watch it, in case the editor, in his wisdom, decided to keep in the rather personal stuff which the husband talked about in the first session. I can just imagine the silence in the lounge as the credits roll, as the children  take on board the information about their parents' sex life.  I would imagine that it will be some weeks before they return home.

Ah well.  Silver linings and all that.....

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

I love the sound of breaking glass...

It's always tough going back to work when you've had a day off, and yesterday was no different.  My new desk had disappeared from sight as it was covered with pink sheets of paper.  You'll remember that these constitute some of Master B and Master P's CBA pile, which they like to save up for me.  As I sat down, I noticed that someone had been sitting in my seat (I'll have to be careful that I don't go all Goldilocks on you here).  Raising it slightly I looked at Master B, Mr W and Mr B who were looking rather sheepish, glancing at each other as if egging the other two to say whatever it was they were wanting me to hear.  As I tidied my desk, sweeping the pink sheets into a manageable pile, it suddenly became apparent what they were all dreading to tell me.

On the back corner of my desk sat what remained of my mug.  When I joined Binland, I got all of us in the sales team special mugs, all rubbish related naturally, with mine reading 'Trashy Trace'.  This was rarely 'borrowed' for obvious reasons, but it was now in several pieces, with the words 'rash race' the only reminder of its former glory days.  Now I'd had this mug for a year and a half, and it took my day off for it to consigned to the bin (the non-recyclable one of course).  Looking back on this, I'm not too sure why the broken bits were left in a tidy pile on my desk - perhaps this is the office equivalent of leaving a dirty plate next to the dishwasher rather than inside it?  The mind of a man is one which never ceases to amaze and amuse...

Anyway, Master B, who eventually took a step forward in the obligatory 'Who Broke The Mug' line-up, has offered to replace my mug. This worried me all day, because he is going to do one of two things.  He's either going to replace it with one exactly the same (completely acceptable) or he's going to buy one which is middle-aged lady appropriate, ie bone china and covered in flowers. 

As I am more of a builder's mug kind of girl, I have thought about replacing the mug with one of the many I have at home.  Here are my choices:

Mug Number 1 : 'I woke up like this'
I could be done under the Trades Description Act for this, as I certainly have to undertake some major hair and face work before setting out for work. 

Mug Number 2 : 'One Wild Chick'
This would be fine, but on the other side of the mug it says 'Cheep Cheep' and one doesn't want to portray oneself as 'that kind of girl'

Mug Number 3 : 'Happy 21st Birthday Gaby'
Not my mug, not my birthday, not my age...

Mug Number 4 : Two dogs in Christmas sweaters
This is for seasonal home use only as Miss R bought it for me. God help me if that mug ever took a tumble...

So I am resorting to my final choice, until Master B replaces the broken one.

Mug Number 5 : 'I love my Schnauzer'

Lovely reader, make of this what you will...

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Two out of three ain't bad...

My birthday started extremely well yesterday with a cup of tea in bed courtesy of the husband.   He had excelled himself on the present front, having booked a weekend in Liverpool (somewhere I have never been) and a night in The Cavern.  He's not terribly au fait with musical history however, and I may have to double check that he's not booked us into some leather fetish club for the night.  Mind you, the thought of him calling me 'Sir' for the evening sounds attractive...

The 'not so' Surprise Birthday Lunch went beautifully at The Seven Stars on the Green (check them out at www.sevenstarsonthegreen.co.uk/).  I got flowers, cards, lovely gifts and a wodge of cash from my parents which I had mentally spent already.  The best bit was seeing daughter number two as she had travelled down from Milton Keynes to spend time with her aged mum.  There was an ulterior motive for her visit, as you'll find out later...

I had booked yesterday off work as requested by daughter number two.  She had done the same, and had suggested a day of shopping and lunch.   So we trolleyed into Reading mid morning, each clutching a hastily written list of things we needed to buy.  I can't remember what was on hers, but mine had 'knickers, jacket, face cream' written on it. Unfortunately, by the time we stopped for our first coffee, I had spent half of my birthday money on things which weren't on my list, leaving very little for what I actually needed.

Determined to buy at least one of  the items on my list, we headed off to M&S,  Knicker Capital of the Civilised World.  It was here that any sanity I may have retained after trawling around Reading for three hours, disappeared in a puff of thongs.  All I wanted was some sensible drawers which wouldn't give me a VPL (for my gentlemen readers, if you're reading this, you may need to seek advice from your wives as to what the hell I am talking about).  It's not much to ask, but faced with all the choices, I just stood there and tried to find what I was looking for.  There was an elderly lady standing next to me doing the same, and I turned to her and said how confusing it all was.

She nodded and said, 'Too much bloody choice these days.  In my day the only choice was white or black'.

If only life were that simple.  Here I was faced with shorts, boy shorts, high leg, bikini, thong, cheeky pants (don't go anywhere near these unless you have a derriere worth insuring).  There was cotton, modal, thermal and at the very end of the rail VPL.  Hallelujah...now did they have my size? No.  So here was a quandary.  Did I buy the smaller ones and eventually lose the half stone I have promised to do, or did I buy the larger ones and tie a knot in each side?  Well I'm nothing if not optimistic, so I bought the smaller ones and gave myself a stiff talking to in the queue as to what I wasn't going to eat over the next month or so.

At 2.17pm, I said to daughter number two that we would have to go home as I couldn't carry any more bags.  I should say at this point that a lot of the bags were my daughter's.  An unspoken agreement had happened, somewhere around Debenhams whereby she would allow me to use her student card to get discount, as long as I then paid for her clothes.  See what I mean about the ulterior motive?  But I was very pleased with my purchases.  I had jumpers, jeans, trousers for work, a jacket, mascara, a shirt-dress, and a skirt.   So you can see that I managed to buy a couple of things off my list.

As Meatloaf would say 'Two out of three ain't bad', but I may just have to go back for that face cream...