Parenting, profundities and humour

Putting A Brave Face On It… — August 16, 2016

Putting A Brave Face On It…


I recently went in to Boots (other pharmacies, that also sell other crap such as photograph albums and kids clothes so that there are hardly any staff left on the actual prescription counter meaning you have to wait days for your child’s asthma inhaler, are available) to restock my face creams.

It may come as a surprise to some that I use face creams. I do not wear make up. Anyone who knows me personally knows this. Why not? Multitudinous reasons. My mother didn’t wear make up when I was a child and so I never ‘learnt’ to apply it. Or more accurately I never learnt to ‘need’ to apply it. It didn’t figure in my parameters of being a women. I can’t be bothered to get up earlier to make time to put it on. I similarly lack the will to take it off at night. I do not know what ‘palettes’ suit me. And frankly I can’t be arsed.

There may be many people wandering around catching sight of my un made up face and inwardly cringing at my gaucheness. But then equally I walk around seeing people at the gym or next to the swimming pool on holiday in full make up and think- you muppets. So touché.

But I do use face cream. This desire started in my twenties when I first started to get a few laughter lines. The fact that I panicked quite so wholeheartedly at that point is now frankly laughable as laughter lines etch into wrinkles and my neck acquires a droopiness that no amount of foundation would disguise. Oh the naivety.

But anyway I started on the road of face creams. I began with Body Shop stuff. Seduced by the tangle haired founder’s claims of naturalness and lack of animal testingness and other such stuff.  Once everyone caught on to this particularly welcome band wagon I switched to Simple. It was cheaper.

When I had my first child I decided all this political correctness and affordability was all well and good but what I needed now was something that actually worked. At the time Boots (don’t forget other such stores, with appalling customer service and overly made up beauty counter assistants who scare me, are available) was heavily advertising its new No 7 miracle creams. They had actual scientific evidence that wrinkles were reduced. Beautiful models glowed radiantly out of posters. I hadn’t heard of Photoshop, the IT troglodyte that I am. And so I went in to purchase some items.

At the time my age, general skin type (normal) and lack of skin problems landed me firmly in the Early Defence range. Well I wasn’t really firmly landed in that range as it was designed for 20-35 year olds and I was 34 at the time but the counter assistant I discussed it with knocked a few years off my age and I was too flattered to contradict her. This hasn’t happened since. And anyway, I argued with my inner voice, I was still within that age range. Just.

I nearly had a heart attack at the pay desk. This stuff is seriously pricey. I was so overwhelmed I was suckered into a Boots (remember other stores, which so overstock their shelves with ‘gift sets’ at Christmas (which always contain a product the recipient will never use, in my case body lotion) making it impossible to locate the Savlon, are available) store card. The points I amassed buying day cream, night cream, eye cream and serum entitled me to a small cruise. Well I exaggerate but I did get a free tube of toothpaste.

Anyway I religiously began to apply said creams. Well when I say religiously I mean as often as I remembered/ had the energy/ had the time with a squalling new born.

The next five years passed in a whirlwind of babies and nappies and toddlers and bone numbing, aching tiredness. I must have replaced those creams occasionally. I certainly remember graduating to the  35- 45 years cream Protect and Perfect Intense at some point. Whenever I say that in my head I always shout the ‘Intense’ part out louder. Not sure why. Maybe it makes me feel better about the even larger price tag. Presumably this cream has more of the ‘stuff’ in it that 86% of 83 people believe reduces their wrinkles. Seriously can’t they ask a few more people. It is not like Boots (remember other stores, which smell the same wherever you are in the UK and always hide the dental aisle very comprehensible, are available) isn’t some international company.

Anyway I must have replaced those creams as some more free tubes of toothpaste came my way and some very welcome two for one vouchers courtesy of that reward card. Which of course I can never find when paying. It is usually under the Costa card. Which says a lot for my priorities.

I started applying it more regularly as I came out of the fog of early motherhood. And it has an SPF factor of 15 which makes me feel better about walking in the sun.

Before our holiday I needed to replace my night cream. I knew that on holiday after my daily ‘post sea and pool’ shower my skin would feel tighter than …a very tight thing (I thought about being coarse there but thought better of it- my father reads this blog) and would need generously smearing with that night cream.

I approached the right area of Boots (remember other stores, that coyly call tampons feminine hygiene products, are available) and dodged the over eager, foundation plastered, twelve year old assistant to grab my night cream. She wasn’t to be deterred. She was determined to ‘assess’ me. Flustered and in a hurry to get back before the school chucked out for the day I rashly provided my actual age when she enquired. Rather than politely and yet assertively asking her to eff off.

She then politely and assertively told me that I needed their over 45 product, upper age range not specified, called Lift and Luminate. I sheepishly took down a bottle of this magic elixir. And paid yet more money at the counter. Presumably it has yet more of that ‘stuff’ in it. I thought they might offer me a discrete brown paper bag to wrap it in, such was the shame I felt. But then these people are used to selling feminine hygiene products, condoms and haemorrhoid cream and so are immune to customers’ embarrassment.

I took it home. The vessel that contains it is a soft purple, the smell is faintly ‘old ladyish’ and yet perversely I quite like it. However I am yet to feel Lifted or Luminated.

Oh god age is a bitch.





Hair… — September 8, 2015


grey hair

Today I spent twenty quid on hair products.

Most of you may know that I am not a particularly ‘girly’ person. And so may be a little surprised.

Having thought about it you may not know that I am not very ‘girly’ but if you have ever seen me walking to school, or football training or round the local supermarket with wet hair you will have gleaned that I am not the sort to spend long on my coiffure.

And those that know me not at all will just have to take my word for it. My hairdryer was plugged in when I came up to bed and I was momentarily confused until I remembered Middlest had washed his hair earlier and used it to fashion his quiff…..I never use it. Except to dry off sports kit which is required urgently.

My only extravagance, beauty wise, is a cut and blow dry about six weekly. With my lovely hairdresser whom I have been seeing this regularly for almost exactly 13 years.

She knows me. Well. She has over the years developed a hairstyle for me which merely requires me to get up and pull a brush through. She kindly says that I need such a style because I am so busy with my three kids, all of whose hair she also cuts, rather than because I am a slob. And care nothing for my ‘presentation’. Or she may know I am a slob but is too tactful to say anything.

My hairdresser is the Queen of Tact.

So today when she tentatively raised the issue of the possibility of colour bathing my hair to avoid people remembering me with too much grey I had to listen.

Up until this visit she has been saying that I was still able to get away with it. Not today. Maybe the long summer holidays have accelerated the process.

I floated the idea of just letting it go grey but she believes me too young for this. I love her for that. I don’t care that the colour bathing will probably do her bank balance no harm and just want to believe….

But apparently before I can have the aforementioned colour bath, which sounds lovely, like a relaxing spa treatment, but without the tacky music, I need to stop using my current shampoo. Which is evidently the devil in detergent form. If cheap.

And so I spent that crisp twenty.

Tactful and canny. So she is.

Aroma moan… — July 26, 2015

Aroma moan…


Brace yourself….more intimate revelations.

I have been using the same deodorant since I was 14. So a little over 30 years. When I began using it it was the mid 80s and so Roll On was the order of the day. We were still in the height of the CFC crisis terrified of eroding any more of the ozone layer by spraying or changing our fridge. It seemed that overnight we all switched to roll on. And the crisis was averted… Ah the innocence.

Anyway. Once the aerosol companies caught on and eliminated those nasty CFCs I switched back to a spray. To avoid the need for arm flapping every morning. And have used it ever since.

And then last year I was unable to buy it from Sainsburys on line. I was down to my last can and getting slightly panicky so I went to Boots. They didn’t have it either. Neither did Superdrug.

And it slowly dawned on me that Sure had stopped making my ‘flavour’ in a spray. I scoured on line pharmacies and managed to find one with some stock and bought 10 cans. This has now run out.

And so I am faced with finding a new smell. And I resent it.

On this holiday I brought with me a new brand of spray. Eldest doesn’t like it. He doesn’t like how I smell. I don’t like it either. I don’t smell like ‘me’.

It is made all the worse because smell is such an evocative sense. Certain aromas can transport me back to a time and place in an instant.

Rain on hot pavements for instance. That aroma which usually only happens a few times a year in my neck of the woods takes me back to my child hood. Instantly.

My paternal grandma lived in a house with a lovely big garden. It wasn’t probably that big but to me it seemed enormous. Towards the back she had a row of large conifers which formed a sort of hedge behind which my brother and I used to hide and make dens. The smell of laylandii confiers takes me right back to those days, sitting on a rug out of sight of parents picking those little seed pod things off the trees.

Similarly on the wall around the side of our house when we lived in Formby in the north west we had an outlet, a silver box thing about a foot square set at about child’s head height, probably for the central heating which let off a sort of gas smell, not unpleasant but very distinctive. Another very evocative perfume whenever a catch a whiff of it nowadays.

There are countless others, my old school dinner hall, the insides of tents, line dried washing, freshly mown grass, the smell of Christmas which is actually the smell of my loft at my old house…

So I understand my eldest’s frustration with my deodorant issue. He has spent his entire life smelling me a particular way and part of that aroma is Sure Cool Blue spray deodorant, it is part of me. And now I don’t have it anymore.

There is still a roll on version. Which won’t be quite the same but may have to do.

Grrr…..I hate arm flapping…

Let’s Not Skirt Around the Issue — June 30, 2015

Let’s Not Skirt Around the Issue

ra ra

Today I am wearing a skirt. Those that know me in real life will no doubt be gasping in amazement. I don’t really do skirts. The last time I wore one unreluctantly it looked like that and it was 1983.

I am only ‘doing’ one today as I have just returned from a cervical smear test. I did ask myself if this was something I wanted to air in public (careful with the spelling there Sarah) but as the old smear test is just one of the many ignominies us women have to face why not just share that reality?

The invitations (yep that is how they word them- it stops short of black tie- as if that somehow makes it better) come round alarmingly fast and you sit there with a mounting sense of dread believing the NHS may have made an error in recalling you so quickly. But then you realise that actually, yes, last time you suffered this procedure one of your children wasn’t yet at school and they were sat asking awkward questions from behind the curtain. So although it feels like yesterday when you last chatted about the weather whilst someone slid a metal implement somewhere metal implements have no business being it really was three plus years ago. And so I have decided to just let it all hang out. Again.

Skirts are good for cervical smears. It avoids having to strip off your entire bottom half and with some delicate drapeage one can still believe one is retaining a certain air of delicacy. It’s all an illusion obviously but psychologically it helps.

I realise now that maybe this entry should come with some sort of warning. To be honest this whole piece is probably going to be too much for some of my readers. Mostly the male ones I imagine, especially those who are not yet fathers or those who stayed firmly at the head end during the delivery of their offspring.

You see the cervical smear is a total stroll in the park compared to the total lack of dignity that accompanies childbirth. Until you have had your feet in stirrups with some random doctor trying to repair your reproductive area you can’t say you have reached the bottom, dignity wise. To be honest after the twenty hours it took me to extrude eldest I would have let anyone have a go with that repair just so I could get some sleep…ahh sleep..well of course that didn’t happen. What? a student wants to come in?- hey! I am high on gas and air- bring in a whole class, just get me sorted!

Anyway before I lose loyal readers in droves back to the point (if I ever had one). My reasons for not wearing skirts then.

My main reason is legs. I do have legs. Two of them. Which I believe is the usual complement. I have found that my legs look best in trousers. Specifically jeans. Boot cut. Jeans are my wardrobe mainstay. I will venture into leggings and boots in winter and linen trousers when temperatures hit 25 plus. But usually I am in the old denim.

And so my legs are, how shall I put this, slightly neglected. It flits across my mind occasionally, usually when I see some yummy mummy wafting around in a frothy summer number, that I could don one of my two skirts. And then I remember the deforestation that that would entail. And I reach for the denim.

I do envy women who ‘sort’ themselves out every day. I just can’t fit it in. To be honest I sometimes don’t fit in teeth brushing until gone 11am. And before you suggest I get up earlier we are up at 6 daily it’s just my actual job (the kids) seems to get in the way. And don’t get me started on moisturizing. Really?

And then recently my house has been full of men. All the time. This week one was ensconced in my bedroom for two days from 8-6 and whilst I admired his dedication to building my new wardrobes it was quite off putting ablution wise.

Then as well as legs feet are an issue. Mine are utilitarian. Not pretty. One ex described them as flippers. Cheers. I am not one for nail varnish. A friend and I went to a spa in January and I still have a small bit of that polish on my big toe nails. It’s quite interesting to know how quickly one’s toe nails grow. I can’t find the varnish remover that I have had since 1986 (and that is not a joke btw) maybe it has all evaporated. So my feet and sandals are not really that good a combo.

And then in my line of work jeans are just more practical. I spend my days cooking, cleaning (husband will be spitting out his tea at this point), doing laundry, clearing up kid detritus, ferrying, hauling large musical instruments around etc and heels (with my legs flats and skirts would just be ugh) and floaty numbers don’t cut it. I had curry down my front and had managed to suck my frothy number up my Hoover attachment before 10a.m. this morning.

And then there are a whole host of other issues. The glare of my pallid legs putting motorists off their manoeuvres, the way the kids look when they see me in anything other than jeans (‘You just don’t look like you mummy’), where do I put my mobile phone, wind issues, co-ordination- denim goes with anything skirts need thought, my thread veins, my varicose veins, all my veins really, the ironing. I could go on.

To be honest it is possibly a matter of priorities. I was never one for prioritising my ‘beauty’ routine. And now my main priorities in life are sleep and this blog. So there you have it. Trousers all the way.

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