Parenting, profundities and humour

Jolly Hockey Sticks… — September 8, 2018

Jolly Hockey Sticks…

Many moons ago, well actually 1983 but we aren’t counting really are we, I started Upper school.

My mum was generally quite an organised person. I always had sensible black shoes from Clark’s, how I hated those shoes. I had the requisite uniform. My lunch money was always ready every Friday in a little brown envelope. And such.

However on this occasion the extensive list of equipment required for starting year 9 had got the better of her. She had bought me weird canvas hockey ‘boots’ which came up over my ankles and had built in studs and little discs of plastic over the ankle bones. I had long blue socks, the pleated gym skirt and matching big pants in regulation navy. I had the artex gym top. But she had missed the vital words ‘hockey stick’…

Well that first day double Games was scheduled. Never mind, asserted my mum, my old stick is in the attic somewhere amongst the half used rolls of 1970s wallpaper and your dad’s model railway, I’ll just pop and get it. That wallpaper always came in very handy for covering school exercise books which was always the first homework of every subject in every school year. My large day glow yellow and brown flowers always stood out amongst the brown paper and the sticky back plastic. Only slightly mortifying…

So this was news to me. My mother had played hockey as a school girl. I had not come across hockey so far in my school career. We dusted off the stick and I was set.

It dawned on me about halfway through the walk from lunch hall to hockey pavilion that my stick looked slightly different to everyone else’s. And not only because the grip was non existent. No the end of the stick was an entirely different shape too.

(I feel I must pause here to make mention of the hockey pavilion. Pavilion is really a very grand word for what was essentially a shed perched on the edge of the fields. The shed had a very particular smell of mud and teenage boy. The boys and girls sides were separated by a very thin sheet of mdf which many a curious young man had gouged holes in, with, presumably, a set of compasses which were also on the kit list. It was wise to hang ones school uniform up and stand behind it to avoid giving a random 14 year old boy an eyeful. There was no heating. The showers (which we were forced to use unless the period register allowed one to be excused) were cold, the floor was filthy, the roof leaked. In fact the whole place was utterly horrific.)

Anyway I got changed, carefully, into the regulation kit and grabbed my stick.

We filed past the terrifying Miss Stocking. Miss Stocking was scary in a way only 1980s Games mistresses can be scary. I had come across Games teachers before. Only the year before in Year 8 I had had the pleasure of Mr Dover as my form teacher. He taught the boys Games and us, randomly, Geography. And he took the register and once, frighteningly, when I had plucked up the courage to bring flour and eggs to school on the last day of term for the very first time in an attempt to look cool, conducted the bag search which saw me in front of the headmaster getting the ‘very disappointed’ speech. Mr Dover’s method of punishing low level disruption during Geography lessons was to turn around at lightening speed  from the board where instants earlier he had been scribing something on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs or concentric settlement theory and throw his Games keys with the unerring accuracy of a frustrated professional rugby player at the offending child. I believe he only drew blood once.

Games mistresses were in a whole other league. Miss Stocking had terrorised my uncle at the school’s open evening when we had visited the school the pervious year to look around. Even now, 35 years later, he has ‘sweaty palm’ flashbacks to being pinned up against the wall bars in the sports hall whilst being interrogated about his sporting past. Which I don’t believe exists.

She flak flaked her way around her domain of sports hall and changing rooms with her nose in the air, her pristine gym skirt flapping and her long blonde pony tail swishing no doubt proving the centre of many a teenage boy fantasy, looking down her nose at everyone but the elite who could actually play sport. She was frankly awful. On so many levels. Inclusivity was not a word she knew how to spell. She barked, she demeaned, she sneered, she gave me a C3 in every single report for every single type of sport and wrote ‘could work harder’ every single time. She really needed a stamp.

As I filed past her that fateful day the words ‘You there!’  were screeched sneeringly in my direction (I don’t believe she learnt my name the whole 5 years I was there- even when she put me in a freestyle house swimming relay in my lower sixth after I had specifically told her I could not swim front crawl and I swam my leg in breast stroke)..

‘What do you call that?’.

Well the only reply I could conjure was ‘A hockey stick?’. She wasn’t best pleased. She proceeded to ‘explain’ that my hockey stick was so old it was the wrong shape. I didn’t dare tell her it had last seen use c 1960. She also told me that spectacles were forbidden on the pitch. I was mortified. The sniggering amongst the other girls was horrible. I wanted the floor to open up.

And thus began my hockey ‘career’. I played Right Half which seemed to involve being passed the ball after bully off and sprinting backwards and forwards an awful lot whilst being screeched at patronisingly by Miss Stocking. Exhausting. I hardly touched the ball. Mainly because I couldn’t see it or because it had bounced awkwardly off a divot made by the rugby team in the preceding lesson.  Occasionally someone would hit the ball hard enough that it made it further than a meter on the bumpy ground and it would usually bounce up and hit me on my unprotected shin, never once did it hit that small disc of protective plastic on my ankle bones. In the rain we would slip and slide on the mud, the built in studs offering hardly any grip on the slick surface as rain pelted our faces and left our perms dripping into our eyes.  As it approached Christmas we would run shivering in our artex shirts and gym skirts after balls which skidded haphazardly off the frozen pitch. I used to dream of snow the only weather condition that prevented play.  After an hour of this torture only the cold showers, muddy floor and peeping tom boys of the ‘pavilion’ awaited.

I hated it. With a passion.

Of course my mum replaced that stick the following weekend. It is not in my attic. I probably burnt it when I was allowed to stop playing after O levels. Ceremoniously.

Happily things have improved. My three kids all love hockey. They have been nothing but encouraged by their school, club and county coaches. The kit is amazing. The surface smooth. Spectacles are allowed. The game is fast paced and fun to play and watch.

Today Middlest played his debut match for his club’s Men’s 6s team with a bunch of inclusive older guys who are encouraging and welcoming giving him the benefit of their experience and valuing his contribution. The club embodies the word inclusive.

I wish my experience had been half of theirs’ for I might have actually enjoyed it given one iota of encouragement.

And by the way we now cover exercise books with stuff printed off the internet. Or not at all. I quite miss the wallpaper.




The Change… — May 2, 2018

The Change…


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.

What Fresh Hell Is This…. — June 11, 2017

What Fresh Hell Is This….


Don’t worry dear readers. This entry is not about the UK elections. We aren’t talking about them here. It causes friction. So if deep political insight is what you are after please jog on. Watch Newsnight. Read the Daily Mail…or something.

A few weeks before half term Youngest came home and mumbled something about joining a school club. Youngest is quite savvy when it comes to requesting things and she usually asks very quietly at some key pinch point in a busy evening and takes my ‘sorry dear’ as assent.

In any event the club was at lunchtime and so had no direct impact on me. I was feeling slightly guilty as her club levels always drop in the summer term as the football season limps to a close in a flurry of tournaments and presentation events. Additionally this term, for some reason, school had dispensed with after school training for rounders/ football (this term’s sports of choice) for her year group. Why still remains a mystery. But the upshot was she was coming home every night on time and only venturing out again on Mondays (yep that football was continuing) and Wednesdays, oh and Fridays. So I was feeling under clubbed.

Anyway she went to her club. She seemed to enjoy it. I asked her about what she was doing and then got distracted by something else (probably Latin revision or a French aural exam or prising a teenager off an electronic device or suddenly remembering Eldest’s piano lesson with 3 minutes to spare) and forgot to listen to the answer.

I caught ‘posters’ and ‘may not get through to next half term’ and gleaned that there was some sort of competitive element to the club whilst still involving felt tip pens.

I did catch ‘it will be after school after half term’ which increased that impact on yours truly whilst simultaneously assuaging my ‘lack of clubs’ guilt. I decided to let this go. I was clearly missing my boomeranging backwards and forwards to school of an evening.

Half term came and went in a pleasant blur of those football death throws, a lovely trip to the seaside to visit my dad, some hockey, some successful shopping and a migraine. That wasn’t so pleasant.

I only had Youngest for most of last week (please read Sorry if you want to know why) and so I was able to listen more fully to her when I picked her up from this club on Wednesday night.

It transpires that the club is called the ‘Fiver Challenge’ club. Members have, you guessed it, a fiver to spend on set up costs and need to make as much profit for charity as possible. By selling stuff. Which must not be edible. Youngest and her mate had got through to the final four with the idea of making emoji cushions.

Now in common with most 9 year olds Youngest has no concept of money. And so she had not costed out this plan. At all. My head, of course, started working overtime pondering how to buy all the materials required to make enough emoji cushions to make any profit at all for five pounds. I asked Youngest to come up with a list of requirements. This is what she came up with; yellow, red, black and white felt. I added to this stuffing, sewing cotton in various hues, black embroidery thread, a glue gun with glue and labour.

As even a reel of cotton is about £1.85 I was quite unsure how all this was going to pan out. I have stuffing (from my previous knitting escapades. I have a really rather fetching knitted Christmas crib scene in my loft complete with sheep (well a sheep I got fed up after three kings, Mary, Joseph, a shepherd, a manger and of course the baby himself and so the shepherd has quite an easy job herding one sheep)) and also some left over embroidery thread from my cross stitching days (although not really in very useful colours, they will have to make do) some cotton from general sewing (although no yellow) and Eldest had offered to be the sweat shop labour as long as he only got to make turd, devil or (bizarrely) heart emojis. That left all the actual fabric. And yellow cotton.

So after a morning driving her on a 2 hour round trip for a one hour football thing we decided we had better go out and see what could be done. I had a brain wave. Charity shops. We cruised into town to go on the Charity Shop Crawl which I usually only undertake when a ‘dressing up’ day has been announced at school. Tudors, Victorians, elves, Florence Nightingale etc. I thought maybe we could source some old bed sheets or cheap T shirts in the right hues.

I think it is fair to say that Charity shops have gone up market. I could easily find a prom dress or fair trade chocolates or next years Christmas cards but only one of my usual haunts had bed sheets. And then the yellow sheet I found (reasonably priced and would have made umpteen cushions) was too pale for Youngest. Not emoji enough. I couldn’t find a T shirt under four quid. I can buy them new for that. From actual sweat shops.

We left empty handed. And decided to try Hobbycraft. They came up trumps with cheapish felt and we bought as much as we could for that fiver. I also bought that yellow cotton and decided to pretend I had had ‘it in’. I only actually ‘have in’ black and white (for name label sewing) and colours that match scouting uniforms, that is bright blue and green. Plus weirdly red. Not sure why I have red. That will be good for sewing on tongues though.

Then the children decided to raid their T shirt drawers. I put back all the T shirts they still actually wear and ones I have bought this year but that still gave us a number in the right colours. Brown for turds, purple for hearts and devils (I challenged them on this, purple hearts? but then Eldest sent me one so I relented), green for a sick emoji and 2 yellow T shirts from when the boys had had house events in the Junior school. I had kept them so Youngest (in the same house) could wear them and then the school brought out a house branded shirt only sold at the school appointed uniform shop and those T shirts became redundant. Thanks god I had not got rid of them. The white T shirt (ghosts) that Youngest found in her drawer is size 6 -7 and has Eldest’s name in it so I can only assume he wore it in PE in Year 1. He is Year 8 now. Mental note to self- must go through the T shirt drawers more often.

So then the fun of turning this mountain of fabric into items children may actually wish to purchase could really begin. We spent several more precious hours making templates, drawing round them and cutting felt before we could even begin to sew. And then I was merely required to try to remember how to do blanket stitch (which I can never remember how to do, go on try I bet you can’t either) to thread needles non stop for two hours, start them off and finish them off (after having unpicked at least 5 stitches to allow me enough thread to actually finish off even after telling them repeatedly how much thread I need to finish off) and sooth Youngest when she drew blood. Oh and cut out sunglasses. In those 2 long hours Youngest and Eldest sewed precisely one cushion each.

And just so you know hand sewing T shirt material is really really difficult.

The pop up shop is in 2 weeks. I may have died of over needle threading/ knot undoing /finishing/starting offing by then.

Oh well I haven’t got the glue gun out yet. I like the glue gun. That will be a highlight. As long as I can find it. Preliminary searches have not gone well. Is it possible to lose a glue gun? I’ll let you know.

Cheers school. Again.

Cushion number one.




Ginger Nut — February 7, 2017

Ginger Nut


I am not really in a very good mood. There it is out there. And yes it is partly cycle related.

And it is also partly because Middlest got hit in the face by a hockey stick and has lips the size of some celebrity who has had bad plastic surgery.

And partly because Youngest brought home English comprehension homework with questions based around the most appallingly boring text about the plight of pedestrians written circa 1970. Such gems as ‘The title of this text is a rhetorical question- what does this mean?’ To which I wanted to reply ‘A rhetorical question is something I wished this question had been so I would not have had to answer it and have had to try explaining  the concept of a rhetorical question to my 9 year old who really just wants to be in the garden playing football…’.

And then I fancied a bourbon with my cuppa as a kind of reward for not throwing the English comprehension out of the window. (‘The text says that pedestrian crossings are often in the wrong place suggest where they should actually be sited.’ Answer ‘Pedestrian crossings should be sited where people want to cross the road.’ Surely.) And I discovered that some bastards have eaten them all. Well to be strictly correct they are not bastards my husband and I being boringly conventional. But my kids have eaten them all.

I scoured the house for a suitable alternative. All the birthday wine gums are gone. Even the black ones. We ate the one last remaining meringue out of a packet of meringues (use by date Sept 2016) I found mouldering at the back of the tomato ketchup, onion and Christmas pudding cupboard with tinned pears and natural yogurt for dessert between four of us. There is no cooking chocolate. And even I refuse to eat jam straight from the jar with a spoon.

So I was left with a ginger nut. Now I quite like a ginger nut as part of a selection of biscuits. So for instance I will have a bourbon and a ginger nut. Or a custard cream and a ginger nut. But never a ginger nut alone. And I lamented my reasoning when I purchased the ginger nuts. I was trying to be ‘good’ and reduce my sugar intake. So for purely health reasons I decided to buy plain ginger nuts rather than my usual dark chocolate coated real ginger chunk versions. Damn.

And for this I blame another ginger nut namely Chris Evans.

I like Radio Two. For those overseas this is a national radio station here in the U.K. It is a bit of an institution. To explain Radio 2 is the place to go when the noise and inanity of Radio 1 no longer suits you but you are not clinically dead enough to listen to Radio 4 which has no music and as far as I can tell is wall to wall worthy news discussion shows, intellectual magazine shows and soap operas about farmers.

The breakfast show is hosted by one Chris Evans, once a wide boy, a self-made man and maverick turned mostly normal married man with kids, albeit a screamingly rich one. He is still quirky and I like his show, generally. In fact during January I enjoyed listening to him try to stay ‘dry’.

But now it is February and he and seemingly all his fellow team members, have decided to go ‘refined sugar free’. Every time I tune in he seems to be waxing lyrical about the joys of soups and avocados and telling us all how marvellous he feels. Today he was joined by Dr Mosley a TV doctor who has done such things in the name of ‘dietary science’ (i.e. money and fame) as eating only take away food for several months to see what it did to his body. It made him ill. Oddly. The good Dr (who surprisingly has a cook book out called something like the eight week sugar free diet) was taking questions from callers. Such questions as ‘Can I eat cheese as the packet says it has 1% sugar?’. Oh my actual god. Are people really that dense?

The good Dr explained how much cheese you would have to eat to consume the same amount of sugar as contained in a bowl of sugary cereal. Obviously it was a lot of cheese. And whilst I might be tempted in my current state of ‘mild’ irritation to attempt to eat that much cheese even I might struggle.

Someone else wanted to know if eating salad was ok as she had heard that even an undressed green salad contained sugar. It was such a stupid question the good doctor dodged it and explained he had several recipes for sugar free salad dressing in his book. Chris interjected that he had made his own humous yesterday which was a first for him having only ever made pesto before, the Doctor counter-interjected that he had made something for the first time yesterday that I had never heard of before but presumably involved a blender and some sort of pulse and his wife washing up every implement in the kitchen. His wife is apparently ‘thrilled’ that he is taking part in this exercise and cooking. Really? I bet actually she sobs into her washing up bowl secretly stuffing her face with Milk Tray whilst trying to ignore her sanctimonious, evangelical spouse. By this point I personally would have screamed obscenities at the radio but I had small people in the car.

Finally a runner wanted to know what he could substitute his energy gels for during his marathon training. Again err… To be fair the good Dr did say that a bit of energy gel was ok for anyone running over 10k as sugar is needed in some situations. But then he did go onto mention bananas and dried mangos. Those really portable fruits which I am a sure every marathon runner would be able to carry round the 26 mile ish course with ease. Not.

Then there was some spurious gumph about sugar feeding bad microbes and it is the bad microbes slowly being starved to death and shouting out in their death throws for sugar, sugar, sugar that causes the sugar slump when you try to give up. Sigh. I am not a biologist. I hate biology. So maybe that’s true. Sounds like utter crap to me.

I am of the ‘a little bit of what you fancy does you good’ school of thought. So a couple of biscuits. A bag of crisps. Broccoli if that floats your boat. I don’t do well if stuff is banned.

Suffice to say I am finding all the holier than thou sugar freeness a little tedious. So much so I am listening to Def Leppard instead.

And tomorrow I am going to the biscuit aisle and stocking up on proper snacks. I need them (bad bacteria or no) after answering Question 14 ‘Did you find this text persuasive and if so why?’ without getting Youngest to write ‘No I did not find this text persuasive as it is badly written, boring twaddle about the plight of pedestrians and you made me answer 14 inane questions about it and any possible power it may once have had to persuade me has been forever crushed during this tedious mind numbing process!’…

Yah boo sucks to you Chris Evans.




















Oh Man! — November 20, 2016

Oh Man!


I love men. Generally and specifically. I have a lovely husband and two gorgeous sons. A dad. Two brothers. Various in laws. I am friends with a number of my ex boyfriends. I get on with the husbands of my friends. I find it easy to banter along with all the football dads on my daughter’s touchline. Just as she seems to be able to get along with the 11 boys she boots a ball around with. Like mother like daughter.

And I appreciate men more generally. Especially hot, young men with very little clothing on and the chap at my local Costa. I like workmen who come over to the house and pass the time of day with me. And mend stuff, clean stuff, remove stuff, decorate stuff, assemble stuff, educate me in the fitting of appliances and the like.

And I very much like the young man at a local paint ball centre who was very nice to me at my son’s recent party and actually knew how to converse, nay maybe even flirt, with middle aged ladies. I am sure it was just his extremely pleasant manner but hey at 46 and (not so) suddenly invisible to the opposite sex he was a total breath of fresh air. It will certainly earn him my repeat business which I am sure was the point. Whatever his motives I will take it. One can’t be fussy.

In summary I like, get on with and relate to men.

But there are some things about men I cannot stand. Here are just a selection. I should probably caveat this by saying that I am not aware that my football touch line male friends are guilty of these crimes. I haven’t asked. But if I was out on a boozy night with their wives it is likely a selection of these gripes would surface around the table. Just saying.

My son’s are growing up. Eldest is nearly 13 and taller than me. Middlest is 11 and not quite so tall. And both of them have lost the ability to aim. It is likely a proximity issue. When they first became old enough to stand to wee, and I was banned from making them sit for fear of emasculating them, their tackle sort of rested on the loo rim making aiming pretty easy. Now their genitalia is hovering a foot or more above the seat the likelihood of bad aim has increased exponentially.

It is worse in the morning. And before you ask, no I don’t want to think about why, these are my babies godammit. They have their own bathroom shared by their father. But for some reason they  feel the need to hold on until they are downstairs.

They are also incapable of lifting the seat. Apparently it will not stay up. Surely that is what hands where invented for. It is not like they are using them for anything else, for instance aiming the appendage in the vague vicinity of the bowl.

Eldest informed me that he doesn’t want to touch the seat as it is ‘germy’. Well yes I agree however as nearly all those germs emanate from his own urine I believe he should just get the f over himself. He wasn’t swayed by that argument. Guests use that toilet and so there are other germs at play apparently. I may have shouted at this point that he could just use HIS OWN BLOODY TOILET THEN which he merely shares with people who have at least some of his genes in common but who also have dubious aim…

And so I have lost count of the times I have sat down on this loo to be greeted with a wet seat. I no longer sit without checking. I live in fear of a guest receiving such treatment. If you know me personally be warned.

In fact the ‘male’ bathroom in our house is a total war zone. I do not enter unless it is absolutely necessary. Both sons cannot hang towels. I bring the mirror up to a beautiful shine merely to have it smattered with toothpaste and hair gel and hair spray and god alone knows what else by the same evening. Toothpaste scum covers nearly every surface. Every time I clean the room I throw out at least 15 empty bottles of unguents and shampoos and Radox and face scrub and about three empty loo rolls.

And why can’t my men get the idea that if they would like me to replace something for them which is about to run out then maybe they should actually tell me. Rather than assuming that I will somehow order the said item from Sainsbury’s through a mere process of osmosis. It is no use telling me on Saturday that you are all out of deodorant. The shopping comes on Fridays. It always has. It always will. And no I do not have time to run to buy you some before rushing off to deposit you at football/ rugby/ hockey/ a mate’s. The other night husband asked ‘Why have we run out of toothpaste?’ I am not sure the correct answer was ‘F*** Off’ but there you go.

And no I do not have time to scour the house before each on line shop checking if you have run out of ‘evening’ Radox…that Eldest needs to ensure is not too ‘zesty’ thus impairing his sleep…my god I am a WOMAN and my sons’ ablution requirements far out do my own.

Well maybe I have the time but I certainly lack the will when I have spent an hour at the kitchen table, head in hands, surrounded by the calendar, clubs list, fixture spreadsheet and weekly up date from husband’s PA on his whereabouts trying to decide what the hell to feed them all whilst allowing for all their myriad allergies and intolerances and dislikes and avoiding red meat on every single day because I read somewhere that it is a ‘bad thing for arteries’ and we have difficult heart history on both sides of the family only for Sainsbury’s to turn up having decided that tomato and basil fresh pasta sauce is an appropriate substitute for bolognaise fresh pasta sauce when everyone knows my men only tolerate food with meat in it and that meal was one of my two ‘red meat days’ and I can’t add cheese as the missing ‘saturated fat’ protein as husband hates it and I don’t have time to make it myself from scratch which a good wife and mother does as that is the evening I have to feed people in four shifts whilst hopping in and out of the car shouting ‘Please have your shin pads in by the time I get back!’. No. Will. Left.

And it is not only bathrooms that resemble bomb sites. Bedrooms do too. I do not set my children many tasks. Which is probably lazy parenting. But I do insist on them making their own beds. Middlest has an issue with this. Quite why I am not sure. After all it isn’t me that insists on taking 8 cuddly toys to bed every night and it wasn’t me who pestered and pestered for all those touchy feelie cushions and the one shaped like a poo emoji. I believe that was him. And so I am really not sure why I have to spend minutes of my life every day picking all of them up off the floor.

And I don’t put husband’s gym kits way because the drawer they live in is spring loaded with so much unfolded lycra that it threatens to overwhelm me every time I open the drawer. (Note to self, I must carry on vainly trying to teach my boy children how to fold stuff up). It is no wonder husband merely buys more and more kit as there is no way he can possibly know what the bejeebers is in there.

And that leads me on to the looking thing. My god the looking thing. For the love of all that is holy please open your eyes. Or wear your glasses. If you can find them. Or both. The cheese grater is in the same cupboard it was last week when I asked you to set the table.

And finally, finally. That glass on the work top above the dishwasher. That glass that is always there. Always. How I hate that glass.


Farty Pants…. — November 9, 2016

Farty Pants….


It has been a while since my last entry. In fact it is so long that when I decided today to put pen to paper (fingers to keyboard) WordPress had signed me out. I had to remember my password. I ain’t good at that. I nearly gave up. But not quite. I apologise to those of you that like my posts. What can I say? Life has got in the way.

A while ago you may remember an entry entitled Living In a Bubble. I wrote it in the wake of the UK’s democratic decision to leave the EU, Brexit as it has come to be known. It was the Sunday following the referendum. I was still in shock. A lot of us still are although time and the seeming lack of any actual action has somewhat numbed the initial emotion. Life, as always, goes on. Tea needs cooking. Children need fetching. Christmas needs planning. The every day inures us to the shock.

And then today I awoke to more astounding news. That the US has elected as its president a man such as Donald Trump.

I am not a great follower of US politics. But even I have not been immune to the hyperbole surrounding the Presidential race. The mud slinging. The posturing. The claims and counter claims. In fact the race reminded me of the campaigning ahead of Brexit. The ‘promises’ made to millions by people who had no intention or indeed wherewithal to deliver. Or worse promises made which may come true but which border on fascism.

It feels almost surreal. That a man with no experience of political office can be awarded arguably the most powerful job in the world. And when I say he has no political experience that is probably the very least of everyone’s worries.

That is the ‘everyone’ excepting the millions of Americans who actually turned out and voted for him. Whether as a protest, or because they believed he was the better of two equally awful options, or because they liked one small part of his campaign, or because they genuinely believe he can ‘make America great again’, those people turned out in their millions to vote for a man who claimed Obama (who from the outside seems like one of the most decent Presidents ever) wasn’t born in the States.

I am at a loss really. One hopes that his party, who now hold sway in all three arms of the government of the US, contains enough sane individuals to put a curb on his more extreme ‘policies’.

If not then if we thought the world was going to hell in a handcart before it looks like it just boarded a bullet train to the underworld.

Anyway must get dinner on.





Cycle Rage — June 29, 2016

Cycle Rage

It is time for a rant…. I haven’t had one for a while. Not a proper, judgey, one sided rant. So brace yourselves.

A couple of months ago a new road opened near us. That is it up there. The road had been a long time in the coming. When we moved here in 2002 it was in the planning stages. Various issues to do with, I think, funding and compulsory purchase orders had got in the way.

Anyhow after a protracted building phase, involving both existing roundabouts at either end being compromised for eons, it was officially opened in April.

Personal friends may remember the photos of my husband and offspring running its length and myself walking it prior to it being opened to traffic.

Once I had got over the disappointment of it being single lane only and the fact that on its circa two mile stretch there are four roundabouts (do we have Milton Keynes envy? No just many houses to build to cope with the outpouring from London) the thing I was most impressed with was the wide and smooth cycle and pedestrian way running along side it.

To start with his road revolutionised our school run. Until temporary traffic lights appeared on one of the only other two routes to allow for the entrance to yet another housing estate to be built. I use the word ‘temporary’ here very loosely. The traffic control is there for about three months. Sigh.

Still the road has helped. Off peak I can now do the school run in 7 minutes. I know, I have timed it. Partly because I fell asleep in front of an episode of Prison Break after a particularly heavy day of cleaning and was almost late to pick up.

I didn’t drive down it at night for a few weeks but when I did, wow, was I impressed. That cycle way, which at times is on a higher level than the road, is lit up with blue LED lights. It looks like a runway. In extremis I am sure light aircraft could land on it.

This got me thinking that there is now only one small piece of our route from home to school that doesn’t involve a cycle way. It is a particularly tricky part of the route involving a major junction and a Roman bridge which is too narrow to comfortably take two cars side by side. But still mostly nice, safe, even cycle route.

I have plans. To dump the school run. Obviously not on cello days. And probably violin days. Which basically means only Mondays and Wednesdays, but still in time it might alleviate my driving schedule. Assuming I can get my head round the Roman bridge.

There are going to be a lot of houses built by the side of this new bypass. I think around 1500. And so I am pleased with the council’s foresight in providing a route out of their estates that can be achieved safely on foot or cycle.

They have even installed an underpass at the roundabout nearest to my village so that not one cyclist needs to negotiate its perils. At the other roundabout it links well to existing cycleways with islands.

Sorry it is taking me quite a long time to get to my rant. So far this isn’t very ranty. Here we go then.

I drive down this bypass a bare minimum of twice a day. More often than not it is six times. And already I have lost count of the number of cyclists cycling on the road rather than the cycleway. In both directions.

I completely fail to understand this. The road has a fifty mile per hour speed limit. Even on the down hill sections no cyclist without the aid of steroids is going to hit that speed. That means I have to overtake. On a single lane road. Or sit doing 20 mph, gently seething.

This morning there was a middle aged man in Sky branded Lycra gear cycling in the same direction as me down the road. Completely ignoring the deserted, purpose built cycle way immediately to his right. Which has about 50 signs proclaiming it as such along its length.

Moreover as lorries hurtled past him he was relying on a woolly beanie hat to protect his head in the not unlikely-and certainly more likely with him on the actual road- event of him being knocked off his bike.

I just don’t get it. I have asked my husband, who himself is a middle aged Lycra clad cyclist every Sunday, why. He has tried to explain that serious cyclists don’t like using cycle paths. Because they are generally uneven and possibly go up and down for drop kerbs for people’s drives and contain cyclists who are going too slowly, to their Lycra clad minds, getting in their way.

I feel so sorry for them. Having to negotiate the odd cyclist who has the temerity to go slower than them. Not. They think this gives them the right to make all the cars using the purpose built powered vehicle road, for which we pay tax, negotiate a slow cyclist.

And even if I accept the fact that all that up and downing over dropped kerbs is too hard on their poor bottoms THIS IS NOT THE CASE ON OUR NEW CYCLE WAY. It is so smooth teams of roller skaters use it for practice. There are no drop kerbs. No pot holes. Practically no other users.

I got quite ranty in the car. Once we approached the roundabout queue at the end of the road I was trying to get in the left hand lane. Cars were queued. I squeezed to the left side of those queueing to go right. I was stuck there for a bit. Queueing.

Non helmeted Lycra man caught me up. And then got arsey because I was in his way. There was some gesticulating. I only just stifled the urge to open my window and point out the proximity of the cycle way. Which incidentally had no queue. And would have led him safely in the direction he wished to go (right) without him having to negotiate the roundabout at all.

Prat. I hope he gets nipple chafing.


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