musingsponderingsandrants

Parenting, profundities and humour

Jean Therapy — August 4, 2020

Jean Therapy

lost phone

So here is a thing. That is not my arse….I wish.

Loyal readers and indeed friends will know that, barring temperatures hitting 25 plus as has recently happened for a few days here, I always wear jeans. If you want to understand more about this I suggest you read Let’s Not Skirt Around the Issue– still my most read post of all time….

I have a few pairs of jeans but hitting age 50 and a serious Tyrrells salt and vinegar crisp habit saw me limited to 2 pairs that fitted comfortably.

These pairs are from a well known retailer, are the same size but different colours, skinny fit, high waisted, branded ‘lift, firm and shape’ (and let’s be honest who over the age of 30 doesn’t need help in that department), one pair light denim, one pair indigo.

Until about 5 years ago I was a fan of the boot cut. I still have a couple of legacy pairs of these. One pair that I wore to death now have a slit in the knee which is quite fashionable amongst teenagers but probably a pit passe on a 50 year old but I still put them on to clean toilets. The other pair are my designer ones that I bought at a charity fashion show held in aid of the NCT which I helped organise and was indeed a model at about 2 months after I gave birth to Youngest, so nearly 13 years ago. I can still just about get into them and they are lovely but they are just a bit too long and only really work with 6 inch wedges….so not great on the school run… but I do wheel them out to every 50th birthday party, holiday disco and wedding reception (second times around mainly now). How I was in better shape 2 months after giving birth than now remains a sore point. See my earlier reference to Tyrrells.

I also have a pair of Levi’s. One day about 7 years ago a friend (who is in great shape) persuaded me into a Levi’s shop (when such things were fun) in order to have my ‘curve‘ analysed. Well my curve was described as ‘bold’. Which I believe is £75 a pop jeans retailer’s code for ‘fat arsed’. A perky 20 something persuaded me to try on a 28 bold and then persuaded me into a 26 bold. Even before my Tyrrells habit took hold they were snug. Which is apparently the idea. And they did look amazing with boots. Once I wrestled them over my arse and hips and into place. I had flash backs to my teenage years when jeans were so tight we used coat hangers to pull up the zipper. Every so often I would get them out of the wardrobe and wonder why I had not worn them in a while. I would put them on and once in place be really quite happy with the look. Then I would need a wee in a hurry and remember why I don’t wear them. They are the most expensive jeans I have ever bought £ per wear wise. After a day of wearing them I ache to pull on a pair of joggers. I keep them I think partly as a salutary lesson about the power of a sales person appealing to your vanity by mentioning the number 26 and partly in a semi aspirational way if I ever find the will to make the most of that Weight Watchers subscription (was sort of working pre lock down and then abandoned when everything worth living for was abruptly suspended and the thought of not eating crisps became more than usually intolerable). I will probably never wear them again. Maybe Youngest will.

I also have a pair of red skinny jeans I bought on a whim one spring day when the sun was shining, they only really work abroad. And I ain’t doing that again anytime soon.

So just before lock down I was down to my 2 old faithful pairs of jeans. Those skinnies as mentioned above.

The indigo pair went fist around the zip. They are still wearable but fragile. Then the light denim pair developed a hole in the arse. I have a bad habit of putting my phone in my right back pocket, sitting in the car, and then getting it caught on the car seat as I get out. This has taken its toll and the pocket became ripped from the rest of the fabric leaving a fairly substantial hole. Enough to show a bit of knicker. My knickers are not worth showing off (M&S high leg, were white not really anymore, a touch of baggy elastic). My husband started to complain.

So the time had come to buy new jeans. Logically enough I ordered 2 pairs of exactly the same jeans in the same size and the same colours. They arrived. And they are just a little on the snug side. Not enough to go up a size but enough to mean I am back in relief at getting into joggers mode. (I am not sure why the font here is so small…it may be a metaphor or something).

I don’t get this. Why change the sizing? It isn’t as if jeans loosen off with wear. In fact I am dreading that first put on after a wash moment. Always tough. Bound to be a right pain with these particular pairs. And yes I have a Tyrrells addiction but these size jeans fitted fine just last Friday….

Anyway I will persevere. I have no choice. I am not going jeans shopping in person in the middle of a pandemic. Jeans shopping is bad enough normally what with all that struggling in and out and having to remove shoes every time whilst trying to avoid looking in the unflattering mirror (all fitting rooms have lighting designed to make one’s cellulite look worse)  just to decide that yet another pair is not quite right. This is why once I find a style, size & brand that fits I just keep buying them. And why it is so annoying when retailers decide to change them.

Please stop. Thanks.

 

 

Sunday — May 24, 2020

Sunday

Some days are just shit aren’t they. Today I had to deal with my disconsolate daughter who crawled in bed beside me and sobbed for half an hour.

She has been doing ok. Like all of us she is sometimes able to settle into the new routine and deal with the day to day of our new reality.

In fact yesterday was a relatively good day. I drove her to a public park to meet up one on one with a school friend whilst I went to the nearby supermarket. They walked 2m apart round the park. She said they talked about the virus and school and the new age and it seemed to have helped. She hasn’t seen her friends for over 2 months. She is 12.

But today she is again struggling. She is struggling with intrusive thoughts. She is struggling with grief. She is struggling with a sick feeling in her stomach. She is struggling with hours of empty time. She is struggling with loneliness.

She is not alone. There are millions of children out there who feel hopeless even if that’s only some of the time. They are impotent. They cannot help. They are the subject of intense debate. They are carriers and spreaders. They are unwanted; at school, in shops, on the streets, sometimes at home. They cause issues. And don’t think for one minute that they don’t know this.

They are children.

It worries me intensely what all this is doing to our youth and their futures which are all our futures.

And apparently children are resilient. Quite often that is not how it seems.

There is no answer. I have no answers for her. I cannot wave a magic wand. I can’t help make it right.

This virus has stripped me of my ability to do that.

Today… — April 19, 2020

Today…

Today is a day just like any other. All days at the moment are just like any other.

Today I am struggling.

Yesterday I hunkered down with my family, binged watched the TV, ate chocolate and knitted very small hats for the local maternity unit.

Today it really dawned on me that we may never get back to ‘life as we knew it’.

Yesterday I was optimistic. The paper was full of stories of scientists banding together, forging unheard of cross country partnerships, to develop vaccines and therapeutic drugs.

Today the paper says we may never have a vaccine.

Yesterday the exit strategy had not been discussed in public at all.

Today the paper says that government sources have said that possible exits involve my older family members staying isolated for 18 months.

Yesterday I listened to the government give more money to local councils to help and thought ‘good for you’.

Today I read that our Prime Minister took an extended break in the weeks leading up to the pandemic getting a hold here and that the UK was so busy with Brexit and cost savings that it let PPE levels run dangerously low.

Yesterday a friend dropped off rhubarb at my door. Clandestine fruit delivered with kindness,

Today the paper is full of vitriol against cyclists and shoppers.

Yesterday it rained for the first time in ages and I stood on the front drive and let it splash on my face marvelling at how out of tune I had got with the natural world.

Today I do not want to get out of bed.

We are all dealing with a huge amount at the moment. I will get up. I will feed my family, hang up washing to dry and probably force myself out on a walk.

Today this is all I feel capable of.

Many many people have it a lot lot worse. But all we can do is deal with our own reality, we can support those who have a worse reality, respect their sacrifice and suffering. But we can only experience our own.

Be kind. Always.

Adulting…it ain’t all that.. — December 7, 2018

Adulting…it ain’t all that..

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‘So,’ Eldest said this morning, ‘What are you going to do on your day off?’

Well son it’s like this.

First I am going to go in to school (in the rain as it happened) to hammer out an agreement on which netball matches your sister can miss next term so she can at least step onto a football pitch.

Then I will probably tackle the weekly round of scraping dried on shit stains off 3 toilets and cleaning mine which of course still smells of roses, collect an obscene amount of almost but not quite empty shower gel and shampoo bottles, sweep finger nail cuttings off window sills into the bin (why do finger nail cuttings end up on widow sills? it flummoxes me), remove layers of toothpaste off every available surface so that you can all take great sweeping spits at the mirror later to put them all back, remove around 20 used toilet roll tubes and then try to remember which child said they needed them, presumably for some ‘fun’ Christmas homework or other, shine sinks so that your father can shave his head onto at least 2 of them during the weekend covering them with a plethora of tiny little hairs, fight back the tide of hay that seems to migrate from the guinea pig corner into every other pigging room in the house, put muddy shoes outside, hoover the stairs which get miraculously filthy even though NO ONE is supposed to wear shoes upstairs. Etc.

At some point during this process Sainsbury’s will arrive with over a 100 quid’s worth of food which will probably last until, oh I don’t know, Sunday? And I will spend a good half an hour trying to resurrect crisps that have been helpfully placed in a bag under the 5 kilos of potatoes, unpack so many bags of said crisps it is obscene and try to work out how to fit all of it in the fridge. If I am lucky it might be the fit, friendly young chap dealing with my returns. But it is more likely to be Mr Miserable.

Oh and then I will do all the admin for all the week which I no longer have any time to do including trying to work out who is where on Saturday morning and at what god forsaken hour I will have to arise, filling in Scout camp forms, updating Pitchero, and ensuring we don’t go overdrawn.

I will wade through the 6, yes 6 separate sport’s kits that were left in the washing basket (or indeed on bedroom floors, on chairs, on the floor next to the washing basket) last night and which are covered liberally in mud, sweat and quite possibly blood and which without fail are inside out.

I will take delivery of numerous parcels as Christmas arrives from Amazon. And again wonder where to put it. I will wrestle with my conscience about not sending Christmas Cards this year…due to a lack of time rather than any environmental values.

I will attempt to start 2 tax returns, determined not to leave them until January again, but I will no doubt be confounded by on line banking and call centres.

I will drive to Sainsbury’s to buy all the missing items from my on line shop and take the umpteen billion empty bottles to the bottle bank which will no doubt be full.

I will move your cereal bowl which I have absolutely every confidence you will leave on the coffee table after breakfast rather than putting it in the dishwasher…

‘So nothing fun then?’

‘Well I will eat a whole family bag of Tyrell’s Salt and Vinegar Furrows for lunch, because I can’…

Adulting, it ain’t all that…

 

 

 

Bad news…buses…idioms… — May 13, 2018

Bad news…buses…idioms…

bad news

Bad news always comes in threes. Doesn’t it? Or maybe bad news is like buses…nothing at all and then loads all at once…

It was hubby’s birthday on Wednesday. He had to work. I had a Governor’s meeting in the evening. We were going to pass like ships in the night. We decided to postpone his birthday until Saturday.

I decided to book us into a nice steak restaurant. On our own. This hasn’t happened since, well probably 2010. It was due. Youngest agreed that she felt comfortable being left for the evening with Eldest and Middlest. Result! No babysitter required.

I booked the restaurant and got the last table at a slightly earlier time than I had wanted but still beggars can’t be choosers.

My mum came round on Thursday. I had to pop to town for something. She wanted to look for summer weight trousers. We had one of those shopping expeditions when all the planets align and everything you try on fits and is in your size and colour. We spent a fortune. I replaced the 4 pairs of shoes (probably c 2004) which broke last summer. And got some new tops. And some new swimsuits. And some new sports bras. And hoped I didn’t look like mutton dressed as lamb in any of them. My mum said otherwise. But then she would. She’s my mum…

I decided to wear one of said tops and a new pair of rather gorgeous nude heels to our night out. Well it was his birthday.

Of course it was raining cats and dogs and so the overall look was going to be slightly ruined by the waterproof coat. But never mind.

Just as we were about to leave I noticed a damp patch on the landing floor. Weird I thought. I went to investigate only to be dripped on through the light fitting.

Up to the loft I went in my new top, my rather gorgeous nude heels and a head torch to discover that yes, indeed, my roof was leaking. Copiously.

Suddenly leaving the kids alone for the first time for an evening didn’t seem so appealing with the possibility of ceiling collapse or indeed a fused house. Still hubby wedged a washing up bowl, to my mind rather precariously, amongst the insulation and we set out.

We had a lovely meal. It stopped raining. The meal was unfortunately taken up in part by a contratend on the best way to deal with the leaking roof. I was hoping it was a blocked valley gutter easily solved by our lovely gutter men. Husband thought the whole roof was likely to need replacing. Glass half full versus glass half empty. Either way it was added to my to do list. But hey that was Monday’s job. There were virgin mojitos to drink and crème brulees to eat.

We got home and all ceilings, electricity and children were intact. We decided to deal with the washing up bowl in the morning and let sleeping dogs lie.

In the morning I headed up to the loft again, this time more appropriately dressed, to retrieve the partially upturned washing up bowl. Some water had indeed been collected. Quite a lot actually. Maybe I had been barking up the wrong tree and the gutter wasn’t to blame after all.

Whilst I was abluting I heard mention of ‘cakes’ and ‘House decorating competition’. Some time ago the boys had mentioned to me that they had put their names down at school for the House Cake Decorating Competition. Seriously who dreams up this shit. I had decided to cross that particular bridge when I got to it.

Apparently they had also agreed to make the cakes to be decorated. News to me. I had certainly arrived at the bridge, and it needed to be crossed.

Do not worry we will make them, they trilled. With what, I retorted. So we had to add ‘going to Sainsburys’ to the list of unappealing jobs to be done today which included revision, getting Middlest’s glasses straightened, trying on clothes and ensuring Middlest had the kit required for his imminent school outwards bounds trip, grass cutting and weeding .

Eldest then got a call from his mate and disappeared out calling back as he slammed the door that he would be home by 5.30… not sure when you will get that cake made then son.

The rest of us went to town for lunch and to go, yet again, to the opticians. I have been there so often lately I feel they should name a chair in the waiting room after me.

Wanting to kill several birds with one stone and with Middlest’s glasses duly straightened we nipped to Go Outdoors to replace some outward bounds type kit that sprouting Middlest had outgrown. During the trying on process he accidentally bashed me in the face bending my glasses… another trip to that optician’s loomed. But not today. Please not today.

Best foot forwards to Sainsburys to buy cake ingredients… just as we were about to enter the shop I noticed 7 missed calls from my husband who left town after lunch to drop Youngest at a play date and start the jobs which involved the garden.

Seven missed calls seemed quite high on the ‘urgency’ scale so I bit the bullet and called back.

Eldest had had his bike nicked from outside the cinema in town. He had locked it up along with his mate’s bike to a bike rack but some toe rags had come along with bolt cutters and half inched them. Leaving the boys stranded in town. They then spent an age talking to staff at various premises (who told them there had been 3 other bike thefts that week…might have been nice to put a sign up to that effect maybe?) and calling 999 and leaving messages for the closed Management Suite who deal with the CCTV.

Strictly speaking it is husband’s bike. Eldest out grew his bike about a year ago and it has now been passed down to Middlest. He hasn’t got a new one as he is sitting on the fence about what brand, type, colour of bike he would like next.

So now as a family we are down 2 bikes. Plus we had dealing with the police and insurance company to add to that unappealing list.

Eldest’s mate’s dad had brought them home and Eldest was prevailed upon to mow the lawn. He then got the starter pull cord tangled in the blades. His happened when Middlest and I were in the middle of baking the first cake of three. To be honest it felt like the last straw.

I didn’t really need to deal with petrol and mangled lawn mower starter cords at just that moment. Not really. Once I had the cord unwound from the mower blades the mower thankfully started again although the smell of burning oil was quite unappealing as it wafted in through the open kitchen door. Luckily I don’t need to eat that cake.

Anyway to cut a long story short it is now 8pm.

We have a crime number which we obtained after Eldest gave his account of the situation to the police who rang back whilst we were eating our roast dinner which I certainly wouldn’t have planned to make had I known about the cake baking fest.

I called the insurance company whose out of hours operatives took some details and promised me they would call back tomorrow. I’ll believe it when I see it.

The last cake is nearly cooked. The other 2 were too small for Middlest to pipe soldiers around the edge of (your guess is as good as mine) so this one is a monster and taking an age to bake.

I don’t even know where to start with the roof. I tried to have a look to see if I could see a loose tile by bouncing on the trampoline but had to stop pretty sharpish for reasons best left unsaid.

I’ll be back to the opticians at some point. Like a bad penny.

Serves me right for buying nude heels. Who was I kidding?

The Change… — May 2, 2018

The Change…

menopause

Here is another post that I have deliberated about penning or not. It is up there with Let’s Not Skirt Around the Issue– which incidentally remains one of my most popular blogs of all time- however it is raining here, it feels like December, I have a half eaten bag of Liquorice Allsorts to finish and the only alternative is cleaning. Or binge watching Outlander. This feels more productive. But possibly less fun.

Deep breaths then everybody.

I am a woman of a certain age. 48 to be precise. Therefore I have experience of being a woman. Quite extensive experience. And it is safe to say that being a woman sucks on many levels. And one of those levels is the beginning, middle and end of one’s reproductive life.

Currently I am grappling with the end. For those of you possessed of a penis (you lucky, lucky sods I am envious, really I am, seriously you don’t know how lucky you are- what have you had to deal with?- really?- a bit of shaving (if you feel like it- it isn’t even obligatory especially in November- it is more obligatory for me apparently which goes beyond unfair)- the occasional knock to a vital area causing extreme discomfort- and – and- no, that’s it – get over yourselves) I should may be explain.

For some considerable time, when I was happily producing reliable levels of oestrogen, I was labouring under the illusion that I would have a few hot flushes and maybe put on a bit of weight and then that would be it. The menopause would be done. No more periods. It sounded quite attractive. I would be done with the Feminine Hygiene aisle. The years of debilitating cramps and bloating would be over. I could go swimming whenever I wanted. Calendar watching and forward planning would be done with. I would no longer pull something unfortunate out of my hand bag whilst buying tiffin in Costa. I would caper gaily in meadows neatly eating baguettes with my new dentures and going on cruises.

Oh yes from the mire of PMT it all looked quite beguiling.

But no, the end of one’s reproductive life as a woman (and let’s not forget here that a man never ends his reproductive life, ever, he can remain potent up until the day he drops- again beyond unfair) has stages. And those stages can take years.

When I went to my GP about my severe breast pain (I am not a hypochondriac but even I thought something may be up) he quizzed me on the when this occurred and once we had established it was cyclical he put it down to hormones. But, I asserted, I have never suffered from this pain due to PMT before. Well, he patronised, as a woman ages her PMT symptoms often change. He also suggested I might be peri-menopausal and suggested I go away and look it up.

I think I have mentioned this GP before. I can’t remember where, I have had a bit of a look but it escapes me. So I can’t link it. Sorry. Anyway I found this whole consultation deeply annoying. After I had resisted the urge to punch him I trotted off like a good little woman with my frankly debilitating breast pain and googled the peri menopause.

I wished I hadn’t.

So here is the gen. I had my terminology wrong. The menopause hasn’t happened until a woman goes without menstruating for a whole year. The run up to this when the ovaries start producing less and less oestrogen is called the peri- menopause and can take up to 10 years. Seriously. 10 years.

There are all the classic symptoms. Hot flushes, night sweats, weight gain, mood swings.

But there are others. I had spent the previous 6 months gently worrying that I may have early onset dementia. But, no, my inability to remember words, what happened yesterday, my kids’ names, how to make macaroni cheese is also down to the peri-menopause. Seriously. It is called cognitive decline. Who knew oestrogen played such a role in braininess? Well certainly not the other half of the population. And I guess it just backs up the old adage that men think with their… well whatever.

The literature suggested I try Sudoko. My god. I hate Sudoko. I thought I would blog instead. Maybe I should track my vocabulary usage and see if it is declining as I make my weary way through this never ending desert of the peri-menopause.

My perky fitness instructor recently attended a training course to learn to deliver menopause exercise classes (not something she is going to need for herself for an annoyingly long time). Apparently one does a lot of weight bearing lunges (to combat bone and muscle loss and CV decline) whilst counting backwards from 100 in sevens. Once she had outlined this at our group circuits class yesterday she diplomatically asserted that she wouldn’t need to run that for our class anytime soon but that we could ‘do it for fun’ one time if we fancied. Meanwhile I was stuck at 93. She could start running them for me tomorrow as it happens.

And then ‘mood swings’ doesn’t really come close. Homicidal mania may be more appropriate. Seriously there are days in my ‘cycle’, normally when merely dressing is agony, when it is best to avoid me. And I certainly wouldn’t recommend asking for the whereabouts of your glasses or open the new box of cling film wrongly or alter the height of my desk chair. Not unless you want to be killed with a spoon. Slowly. I think this is nature’s way of ensuring men cop for some inconvenience. It’s about time.

I don’t think I get hot flushes. Yet. I am feeling the heat more though. Weirdly I am having arguments with my husband that the house is too hot. Those that know me will find this distinctly odd as I am usually cold. And I still feel the cold. But not at night. Or first thing in the morning when I wake up feeling like I am sleeping in the desert because hubbie has had the temerity to turn up the thermostat to 18.5 degrees. I might buy him flannelette pyjamas.

And then there is hypermenorrhea, a technical term for bleeding like a stuck pig. Many, many women get this in the run up to the menopause. Heavier and longer periods. Great. So now for 2 days a month leaving the house gets difficult. Thanks for that. A right kick in the balls. If I had any. So in order to stop having periods one needs to have worse ones. Is it just so we remember forever? Is the body having one last ‘hurrah’ at our expense? Whatever it is deeply unfair. Deeply.

There are other symptoms listed which I am not going to go into personally as you may have to leave the room… such lovely things as vaginal dryness, loss of libido, incontinence (maybe I won’t have much time out from that feminine hygiene aisle), loss of bone density, a decrease in cardio vascular function, muscle loss, insomnia, worsening of PMT symptoms, fatigue, depression.

I look forward to running the gauntlet of these over the next 5 years or so.

But I guess the hardest thing in all of this is that realisation that soon (if not already no one can tell you in any given month if you have ovulated or are just having a period for ‘fun’) one will be redundant evolutionarily speaking.

Facing the end of one’s ability to birth children, whether one has had them or not, through choice or not, whether one wants more of them or metaphorically runs screaming to the hills at the mere thought, can be hard. More than hard.

So again the penis owning ones amongst you spare a thought for your wives, mothers, daughters and sisters as they ride this particularly scary and frankly not fun at all rollercoaster to old age.

And if any one suggests (especially in those homicidal 7 days a month) that I will be reborn after the menopause into a golden age of my life where I will have much to offer free from the burden of my own fertility I will tell them to fuck off. Seriously. You have been warned.

The Yoth of Today…* — August 8, 2017

The Yoth of Today…*

Try to remember back to when you were a teenager, go on try… I know for some of you that will be harder than for others. I was last a teenager nearly 30 years ago but in some ways it seems like yesterday.

My main recollection is that teenagers believe the world has been invented anew just for them. They develop a sense of overwhelming entitlement. No one else matters except their own kind. Everyone else’s ideas are old hat. Many sections of society are totally invisible.

I remember coming home from my first term at University and lecturing my mother on the merits of recycling. I went on for hours about how she should be saving the planet and how her lifestyle was probably single handily depleting the ozone layer. I was living in Sheffield, a city that pioneered the way in recycling and moreover made it easy to do so. I was young and happy to have over flowing carrier bags of tinnies hanging off my kitchen door handles.

I didn’t need to worry about paying the mortgage or holding down a job.

My mother gently pointed out that she had been recycling for years. Using proper milk bottles, returning pop bottles to the store for the deposit as a child, saving newspapers for charity, using proper shopping bags. The fact that my brother and I had until recently scoffed at my dads proper shopping bags escaped me.

None of that mattered to my evangelical teenage self. I knew best in my quiet arrogance. It must have driven her totally mad.

Soon I will be her. Biting my lip as my children expound on ideas and activities that they believe they have invented. I am not sure I will be as patient.

And nothing sums this up better than the disco at my holiday resort.

I may have mentioned before in Baby I Don’t Care that I like to dance. And my husband and I have, accidentally, got into a ‘step’ war on this holiday and so the extra steps from dancing are very welcome. He is losing currently. This is partly because his daily spin class (which does burn an impressive amount of calories) registers precisely zero steps. Whereas my exercise class of choice does. Tough luck matey you need to pick your exercise more wisely.

As a result we are frequenting the disco regularly where we raise the average age by about 25 years. I am maybe being kind to myself here. However my husband is younger than me and there are other ‘grown ups’ dancing too.  And now I am past 40 I have lost the ability to age young people. I am assuming most of them are in their late teens and early twenties but I have a horrible sneaking suspicion that a lot of them are not old enough to drink. I base this partially on the fact that a lot of them are still wearing braces. It is difficult to age them partly as the place is full of Germans who are just a huge, tall, hulking race on the whole. With huge, tall, hulking off spring. As my own teenage son is five foot nine at 13 the whole height thing is perhaps not the best barometer of age anyway.

So my husband and I are sharing the dance floor with a whole load of teenagers to whom we are invisible, who think they own the place and who think they invented dancing. Here are my observations to date:-

  • Modern dance music is too slow. On the whole. I like to shake my stuff like a mad thing. That is why I like 90s dance music. The stuff my husband and I were out clubbing to before my fellow dancers were even born. I just worked that out. Frightening.
  • Modern dance music samples proper dance music. So just when you think the DJ has finally decided to play a proper track it morphs back into something too  slow again.
  • This is the reason teenagers can dance in hoodies. In thirty degree heat. Bizarre.
  • Teenagers still dance in large circles taking up all the dance floor. Around, well nothing, just a gap in the middle. Occasionally a teenager will get in the middle of the circle and I expect something special to happen like break dancing but they just take yet another selfie and then post it. Whilst dancing.
  • If they are not shuffling slowly in a circle then they jumping up and down arythmically ‘to’ the music. Ignoring anyone over the age of 20 in their vicinity. Husband went all north eastern yesterday and nearly lamped a lad who had jumped on him one too many times. The guy was probably a minor so it wouldn’t have been the best idea. We left shortly afterwards. See? That invisibility thing again.
  • It seems perfectly acceptable to just stand motionless on the dance floor. The other night a girl just stood there stock still for about half and hour next to her friend who, to be fair, was at least shuffling. Getting in the way. I have grudging admiration for her staying power. But did let out a little cheer when she finally left.
  • The hair. Oh my god the hair. The swishing and the flicking. They all have long swishy hair. That they like to flick in what I assume is supposed to be a sexy fashion. I don’t find it attractive to have someone else’s hair in my face. Sorry.
  • They believe that the  rules do not apply to them. After yet another glass got smashed on the dance floor the other night the beautiful Bulgarian entertainment manager lost his rag. He turned off the music and put on the lights and said, and I quote, “I am going to ask you,very very politely for the 175th time to please, please, please not to bring glasses onto the dance floor. And I am especially talking to you and you and you” whilst pointing out the bunch of teenagers who were until a few seconds previously shuffling in a circle with a phone in one hand and a cocktail in the other. The Bulgarian was quite annoyed. I clapped after he had finished. The bar staff should probably do a braces check before serving their very strong cocktails.
  • They are slow on the up take. It takes around half an hour after the disco starts for them to roll up from wherever they have been holed up surfing social media. This is the best time to dance. Before they descend in their herds and take over every available square inch for their shuffling and jumping and circling and rule avoiding even if it was the one square inch you had carved out for yourself amid the entertainment team some of whom believe the wearing of wings is a good idea on the minuscule dance floor.
  • They don’t smoke. For which I am grateful.

When we came here in October there was an 80/90s night. Which was blissfully teenager free. It is not on the schedule this time although tonight’s theatre show is entitled “Totally 80s” and so a little part of me is hoping for some like minded music at the subsequent disco.

Then I can request “Lady” and do my totally nuts club dancing without bumping into anyone with flicky hair, braces and a surfeit of hormones taking a selfie.

A girl can dream..

* I deliberately spelt youth wrong…it’s an in joke…some of ya might get it…some won’t…. but I don’t want anyone to think I am unable to spell…

 

 

Early to bed, Early to rise… — June 1, 2017

Early to bed, Early to rise…

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There are many unnerving and frankly annoying things about owning teenagers. And I speak here as a mere amateur as I currently only own one teenager who is at the very early stages to boot.

I can only imagine it will get worse. Watch this space…

But perhaps the issue I am currently finding it the most hard to adjust to is the fact that he never goes to bed. And then won’t wake up in the morning.

This is somewhat of a departure from the norm. If I had written this blog anytime up until about a year ago I would be bemoaning the fact that Eldest woke up every day at 5.30am. In fact this was the pattern of his childhood years. He always believed that morning began at this ungodly hour and could not be persuaded otherwise. Despite trying all sorts. Clocks with pop up ears. Black out blinds. Baby whispering. Lavender. Etc.

When he was in a cot we used to ignore him by means of putting pillows over our heads. But even so we had to resign ourselves to the day beginning at 6am when his clamouring became too insistent to ignore.

Once he was in a bed (shortly after Middlest was born) all hell broke loose on a daily basis as he rampaged around the house waking his brother and demanding attention. In the end I put a stair gate on his bedroom door to contain him until a time I considered to be morning. Basically anything starting with a six.

So for many years my day began at 6am. Even when he started school and got more biddable he still woke early but was able to keep himself amused until getting up time of 7am. But I was still awake because as every mother knows once the child is awake so is the mother. Even Saturday and Sundays began at this hour although husband and I would take it in turns ensuring one of us got a lie in until around 8am.

Even as an older child on holiday having been allowed to stay up late to attend the disco or karaoke he would still awaken bang on time at 5.30am. Maybe after a week of such late nights his body clock may have shifted a little bit but generally he would just get tireder and tireder until he was begging to go to bed at his usual hour.

For the flip side to this early rising was the fact that for those many years all my kids were in bed asleep by 7pm. The bedtime routine began straight after tea with bath and milk and TV (I have very fond memories of In the Night Garden; how I miss Makka Pakka and his OCD stone piling) and stories (often the same one for weeks at a time- The Little Red Train being one of them) and then straight to sleep. This gave me around 3 hours of solitude. At least two of which I could spend how I liked once chores were accomplished. And yes I had to brush their teeth and wipe their bums and dry their little bodies and tuck them in. But all that could be achieved in the knowledge of the peace and solitude that awaited me downstairs. Oh and the sole custody of the remote control. And possibly some Salt and Vinegar Kettle Chips. Once I had started on tea it felt like I was on a downwards slide towards those three hours and how I craved them.

Times have certainly changed.

So for instance tonight I am writing this on my I pad upstairs in my bedroom.

Eldest has commandeered the front ‘adult’ room to carry on with his Arrow binge watch. Youngest had on some American teen rubbish in the family room and so I had retreated to the garden to enjoy the sun. Then Middlest and Youngest decided to come outside to boot a ball around in my general vicinity, Middlest having stopped browsing for new hockey sticks for long enough to be persuaded outside by his sister. So I retreated back inside only to have the teen rubbish put back on once the ball had been booted over next door’s fence for the billionth time.

So I have come up here. For a bit of peace.

I am lucky if I have them all dispatched to bed by 9pm and then Eldest rather begrudgingly so. I know eventually he will be going up later than me. But I am still in mourning for those three hour evenings. I can’t quite let them go. And so I still force him up ‘early’ so I can have the one hour that still remains to me. Which often turns into more than that. Which is a pretty bad idea as our day still begins at 6am. For totally logistical reasons.

And now waking him up that early is almost impossible. Sigh.

So to all those parents of young ‘early risers’ and ‘early to bed’ers enjoy it while it lasts. Enjoy those evenings. For they don’t last forever.

 

I Told You So… — March 19, 2017

I Told You So…

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Today a thing happened that hardly ever happens. My husband was right.

I made a big thing about being magnanimous about it. To be honest it happens so infrequently that I thought I ought to be big about it and make a point of telling him how right he was.

My husband and I are both the sorts of people that are always right. Well obviously I am the person that is always right but he believes he is the person who is always right too. To be honest it sometimes makes our relationship a bit… fraught. Maybe we both should have married other people who aren’t always right. But we didn’t. In the first flush of love maybe we didn’t realise that we both always had to be right. Or maybe it didn’t matter. After nearly 17 years of marriage I can tell you it is something that people should ask themselves. Before getting married.

If we were also the sort of people who shout and storm our relationship could be quite fiery. But actually we are also both gentle (and not so gentle) seethers. So there we are a lot. Gently seething. And being right.

For instance after we moved into this house we bought fitted wardrobes for our bedroom. We spent a very very very long time with the designer from the wardrobe company one evening whilst he talked through our requirements and showed us the frankly mind boggling array of wardrobe insides available and then drew (mind blowingly slowly) scale layouts of our bedroom and new wardrobes. Just when we thought he had finished he said that he needed to go over it all in pen and would be another half an hour or so. It was getting perilously close to my bedtime and to be honest I wanted to get into my slobby tracksuit bottoms and lick the chocolate off the top of my evening digestive and he was somewhat in the way.

The drawings he produced reminded me of the graphic design module that I did as part of a rotation of arts subjects in the year before picking my O level options. I had toyed with taking it before plumping for Fine Art. Just think I could have had a successful career out staying my welcome in strangers’ kitchen diners having discussed their underwear storage requirements. What had I missed?

Anyway after this prolonged experience another guy came out to check the designer’s measurements in a more scientific way (an engineer in wardrobes I believe-another career that has slipped through my fingers) and tell me that we would need to get our downlighters capped off. The lovely designer had failed to mention this.

And then we had to empty the entire room and sleep elsewhere for three days whilst a further man hand built the wardrobes in my bedroom. Don’t get me wrong I love my wardrobes (although I should not have gone for the shoe rack….it only works for high heeled shoes of which I have precisely one pair) but the process was long and turtuous.

Despite being involved in this long winded and tortuous process my husband has always been convinced that our wardrobes were built by Neville Johnson. This is wrong. We purchased the wardrobes from Sharps.

He was vehement in his claims. About a year later when my mum was moving house we visited a Sharps showroom to get ideas for her new fitted furniture. There, in the showroom, was a display of our wardrobes. I took a photo and a photo of the shop front (because otherwise he still would not believe me as he clearly thinks I am capable of claiming to have been in a Sharps showroom when actually I was in a Neville Johnson show room as if I had the energy for such duplicitousness). He still did not believe me.

When my mum got her quotes for her furniture I dug out our invoice to see if the prices seemed reasonable. I left it out on the side so my husband could at last see the error of his ways.

When I got back from whatever I was doing he had stuck a piece of paper over the Sharps logo and written on it ‘Neville Johnson’. It would be funny. I suppose. To anyone else.

There have been countless and I mean countless other occasions when I have been right, I won’t bore you with them all here. But for the sake of balance I should perhaps explain what he was right about today.

The Christmas before last, our first in this new house, I treated myself to  a set of 400 outside lights with which to adorn our frontage. My husband is not a big lover of such ‘tat’ as he calls it. But the kids and I are. And we outnumber him quite considerably and I had hooks and a hammer.

I came to set up the lights and was disappointed to find that there were no electricity sockets in the garage in which to plug said lights. I toyed with using the hall sockets but that would have led to unsightly wire strewing and created a trip hazard. And even I was not up for that.

I mentioned the lack of sockets to my husband who claimed that I must be mistaken as he could distinctly remember, on one of our viewings, the previous male occupant  of the house being in the garage building model aeroplanes and using a desk lamp. I countered that maybe he had misremembered the desk lamp and that in fact the overhead light had been on. We both gently seethed. I think husband came out better in this scenario as we were tacky-lightless over the festive period and indeed the one after.

Soon we are getting our front garden landscaped which is a complicated process which has involved tree surgeons and will involve lead pipe replacers and a landscaping firm. Husband is buying an electric car (the two are not related) which also involves getting electricity to the outside of the garage.

In order to get the new water pipe laid and the electricity point put on the garage I needed to make the garage accessible. And so today, after wheeling ten tonne of felled tree logs round to the side of the house, Youngest and I set to.

First we had to get all the stuff in front of the trailer out. Our lawn was strewn with football boots, kindling, camping fridges, wine, bikes, scooters, balls, extension leads, hose pipes etc.

Then we hauled out the trailer. I needed to re pack it so I could get the water proof cover back on so it could live on our lawn for a couple of weeks. The repacking was necessary after a couple of years of me hauling random stuff out of it (such as the air bed pump and folding chairs and matches and unbreakable crockery for Cub camps) and then just repiling such items back on top in a kind of Jenga fashion.

Then we had to tackle the back of the garage where the new water pipe and electricity point need to come in. The stuff that has lurked mostly untouched behind the trailer for nearly two years and been partially covered by a layer of cardboard discarded from on line deliveries. We moved roll mats and surf boards and boot bars from cars we no longer possess and crutches (left over from husband’s broken foot c 2007) and camp beds and power tools and dinghies.

And there behind one of our many tents (I believe the four man or it could have been the two man not sure) were a couple of pairs of sockets.

So husband was right. He had correctly remembered that sad man modelling in the light of a desk lamp. He was probably hiding from his wife. Who was right about something.

Anyway I get the last laugh.

Twinkly lights at Christmas.

 

 

Pants*…. — December 18, 2016

Pants*….

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*Before we start, and for the avoidance of doubt as many of my readership are Americans (bizarrely), pants in this context refers to undergarments or as you like to call them shorts, which everyone who speaks proper English knows are actually trousers with short legs worn in hot weather or all year round if you are a postman or a small boy at a fee paying school, preferably without socks but then us English are not renowned for our sartorial elegance. Oh and it also means Damn! or Fuck! or Bother! depending how crude you are…..

So I am a lady. As many of you know. And as a lady my life is ruled by cycles.

Before you all run screaming to the hills this is not a post about my menstrual cycle although my god that needs writing. Another time. Oh go on then just a bit now. I have piqued your interest I can tell. See the thing about menstrual cycles, other than ruining your life for forty odd years, is that they have their own macro cycles too. Just as you think you have the whole bloody thing down it changes on you. So over my thirty odd years (please lord let it be over quicker than in another ten) I have run the gamut of all the symptoms of pre menstrual syndrome. Or as it should more accurately be called ‘most of the month other than the four honeymoon days in the middle’ syndrome. From excruciating cramps to spots to depression to sore boobs to clumsiness to homicidal mania.

Mostly the homicidal mania is directed at my husband, poor thing. Although he has just bawled me out for buying the wrong ‘Coronation Cream’ for the Christmas cake. To my mind the word cream implies a pourable fluid. The stuff I can remember putting on tinned fruit cocktail as a child. That is evaporated milk. Apparently however what he actually needs for his grandmother’s Christmas Cake Recipe is condensed milk. Which isn’t pourable. And is so sickly just to look at it makes me want to, well, stick my finger in and suck…. and yes I shop for these ingredients every year. But hey only the once. So I think I could be forgiven for getting it wrong. The whole ‘husband makes the Christmas cake with the kids’ saga was adorable when the kids were two. It gave me an hour off (as the only things I were required to contribute were lining the cake tin and washing up every baking implement I possess) if I could ignore the screams of ‘no put the flour in the bowl not on the carpet’ emanating from the dining room. Now I don’t find it so adorable as the kids have to be surgically removed from their electronics and fight over who does what and husband rearranges their decorations after they have done it, much to their disgust. Anyway I had a stir and made my wish. Not sure my wish was that seasonal. Frankly he deserves my homidical mania.

I went to the GP a few years ago because I thought I was going mad or had early stage dementia. He assured me it was just my hormones. I was in the homicidal phase at the time and he was lucky I didn’t lean over the desk and lamp him one as he sat there all smug with his constant and unfaltering testosterone quietly circulating around his nervous system. I could only hope his prostrate would give out and wipe that sanctimonious ‘my god not another hormonal women thinking she is going mad’ smile off his face. He did a blood test. I wasn’t ‘perimenopausal’ (in the run up to the menopause). Oh god. I still have all that to come. It was just your average common or garden hormones deciding to change how they interacted with my body. Again. Just because they could. Bastards.

So anyway this post wasn’t about that cycle. Other cycles affect women too. Kids for instance. They have cycles. Phases. Sometimes they are adorable. Sometimes they are not. One tries to be understanding when one’s sons are dealing with a testosterone surge (apprently 7,  10 and obviously at puberty) or when a toddler wants to do stuff they can’t and vents her frustration on the nearest safe adult. Which is me. Always me.

But to be honest with three kids all quite close in age there never seems to be a time when we aren’t in a difficult phase. I think I remember about 6 months a few years ago that were quite pleasant.

Then there is the seasonal cycle. Which seems to revolve ever faster. Each has their own challenges. Currently we are dealing with mud and darkness. Perhaps my worst combo. Although the twinkly lights of Christmas keeps me from plunging into complete depression. I save that for January. When the mud continues to flow and the darkness seems to never abate. I long for summer. And then in summer I resent all that suncream.

Then there is the largest cycle of all- age. There is nothing good about getting older. No really. People who say that are trying to make themselves feel better. Forlornly. It is bollocks.

Anyway what cycle did I really want to talk about today. I’ll tell you. My lingerie and hosiery cycle.

Do you not have this? Maybe you are the sort of lady (or gent, let’s not be sexist) who regularly clothes shops for oneself and throws matching lingerie into the mix. I am not one of those. I have a cycle. Like all cycles it seems to be getting shorter. Maybe because the quality of lingerie and hosiery has gone down. Or maybe because I cut my toe nails less. Who knows?

Anyway I am currently at the ‘all the pants and socks I possess have holes in them’ part of the cycle. This means that sometime soon, when I can no longer avoid putting my big toe through my sock by swapping the socks over and having the hole at the small toe end…because that end too has a hole, I will have to go shopping.

I will go to Marks and Sparks. Like most people. I was slightly worried recently when M&S announced they were going to downgrade some of their stores to food only. I imagine the one in our town will be one of those. Then what will I do? I really think they need to sell underwear in their food shops. The statistics of how many people by their undercrackers at M&S is quite phenomenal.

Anyway whilst I can I will go there and buy a couple of multi packs of knickers. In any colour except white. White is a really bad colour for pants. They never stay white. Best to go for bright or patterned.

Before I set out I must try to remember to read the labels of my current pants (that is if they are still readable after bazillion goes through the washer. Interestingly I think my current pants might be older than my current washer) to avoid that ‘buffer face’ look I often get in lingerie departments.

For there is a bewildering array of styles of pants. Often called names that help not one iota in your decision making process, names such as tangas and high legs. Really. And no I don’t remember what I bought last time. And my kids are now too old and too easily embarrassed to reach into my jeans and pull out the knicker label. They did that once for me. Eldest may need therapy.

Anyway I will write my current style and size on a piece of paper and put it in my handbag. Size is important too. I am often overly optimistic when buying pants. Is there anything more shameful than going to a Customer Services counter and having to swap a pack of size 10s for size 12s?**

Then I will throw in a couple of pairs of socks. I am able to remember my shoe size. It is less variable than my arse size. But not socks with days of the week on. I bought those once for Eldest and it set off his OCD. I favour black with maybe an animal print. As I won’t do that in lingerie. Too racy.

And that will be me set for another few years, quite how long is uncertain. As I have no idea when I last went.

By then I will be picking them up in the dry goods aisle. If M&S has any sense.

**More clarification for Americans Size 10 in the UK is actually quite small….just saying…

 

 

 

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