Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Wishful thinking

Knock. Knock. Knock.
From the warmest depths of my duvet I hear it.
Knock. Knock. Knock. “Let me out!”
A plaintive cry from the youngest, enough to tug at any normal mother’s heartstrings but, I am afraid, not mine. It has yet to strike six in the morning and I am in no mood to get up. It is cold out there. I can tell this as I can see the streams of breath rise to the ceiling of my bedroom. And I do not want to get up.
Mummeee! Daaaadeee! Let me out!”
Perhaps if I ignore him he’ll give up and start playing with his Duplo – after all that is the whole reason why I allowed him to have a huge box of it in the first place. I try to sleep again.
“Let! Me! Out!”
OK! So that plan isn’t working. Better get up and sort him out. Some of you may be wondering exactly where my youngest is, I promise you he’s in his bedroom and a very nice room it is too, unlike mine his has curtains. The only problem, as far as he’s concerned, is that the latch is too high for him to reach – for other parents out there you, like me, will see this as a positive bonus. Let’s face it how many times in your life have you been disturbed in flagrante delicto in your bedrooms/bathrooms/or even on kitchen tables? I rest my case – although will add that the positioning of The Littlest’s bedroom door latch was not a deliberate act it was merely one of fortunate joinery.
As I reach the top of the stairs to descend and release the tyrant before he causes structural damage to the fabric of the house, I hear The Boy’s door open and am in time to catch a glimpse of him as he dashes to his brother’s aid with the immortal words: “Don’t worry, I’ll rescue you!”
The Boy is as heavily into heroics and being a hero. Occasionally, of course, he gets a little carried away and I am attacked on the stairs, in the bathroom or even as I get into bed, by boy brandishing a squidgy and much battered sword with the cries: “Hold Hard!” “Stop!” and of course “Die!”
I believe it is in a mother's best interest to die as often as possible. So now I tip[ toe back to bed to play dead perhaps they'll go away and leave me alone to sleep...or perhaps that's just wishful thinking!

Friday, 12 December 2008

What I do when He's away...

I have just scoffed eight very delightful and extremely superior chocolates, a very large glass of wine and a small packet of Hula Hoops as I watched Emmerdale.
This is the sum total of my Friday night's supper. I will regret it I know but for now, for these brief few hours, while it digests, I have regressed to an I am not an adult but nor am I a child state and I refuse to have any guilty feelings about it at all.
Tomorrow as they say is another day but for tonight as I sit here in a warm and fuzzy glow brought about by the unusual consumption of alcohol I do not care.
And why do I not care? Well, I have been left on my own. My better half has swanned off to be feted, wined and dined by academe in Cambridge, and I am basically feeling left out, lonely and bored. This is not the usual state of affairs. Usually HE is at home on Fridays and though we rarely these days do anything but have a hasty TV supper and zone out in front of the box, it is comforting. It is something I look forward to all week.
For on Saturdays he will not leave me, on Saturdays he will be around for breakfast. There will be eggs, and bacon, burnt toast and shouting, squabbling, laughing children, excited dogs, cats wending their way across the table most unhygenically. There will be the badly tuned radio and such a mess, such an awful mess that will immediately set me off and I will huff and puff and grumpily sit down to be poured tepid tea and passed rubber toast with eggs that look as though they have travelled a hundred miles and despite it all he will be there even if I will wish him otherwise at the time.
But tomorrow I will be on my own again.

Monday, 1 December 2008


Tonight has been a night of milestones.
Firstly, The Littlest - all blond hair, big blue eyes and the cheekiest smile on the planet - did something other than twist me round his little finger. He found his own name tag among the other tags velcroed on the wall at Nursery.
OK. I know, but I didn’t say these were earth-shattering milestones! Suddenly I realised that: "Heck he’s learning." “I, Baby”, as he calls himself, especially to wind up his elder brother, is not quite as much of a baby anymore.
I should say that on my way home I had time to cherish that moment in the Nursery, but “I Baby” wound up his brother so much in the car that barely five minutes into the journey I had banned them both from watching CBeebies and had sent them straight to bed with no supper.
From the gloomy depths of the back seat came:
“I sad.”
Then from The Boy, my eldest:
“Would you like a huggies?”
The Littlest: “Want huggies - Mumum want huggies.”
Me: “Darling I can’t. Mummy’s driving.” – though if I could I’d have immediately stopped and held him tight in a trice. Why does it always seem as if I’m saying no? – “Don’t be sad little one.”
The Boy: “I’ll give you a huggies.”
Which he did and then came the second milestone.
The Boy: “Shall I tell you a joke?”
Now, I love my boys to distraction and will indulge them all I can, but however much I gloss it, my eldest’s jokes to date have been, well... NOT jokes. If you were polite then perhaps surreal jokes…but not ones I’d say that have any cohesion, or in fact any sense and to be frank, I have yet to find the humour in many. Most of this is down to the fact that my Darling Boy has Absence Seizures, a form of Epilepsy, which leaves his concentration a lot to be desired. I kid you not he frequently misses the punchline - so being an inventive little chap comes up with his own. I'll say this 10 out of 10 for effort but content well...
For example: Why did the dinosaur cross the road? I don’t know why did the dinosaur cross the road? It was dead/pink/flying etc I think you get the idea. He’s been bringing out these jokes for about two years now and the "Doctor! Doctor!" ones are excruciating, while the "Knock! Knock!" ones are totally incomprehensible. And for The Love of God, don’t get me on the subject of his toilet humour! But tonight, tonight I heard:
“Why do cows lie down together?”
Me, with not a little amount of trepidation: “I don’t know darling, why do cows lie down together?”
The Boy: “Because they like to lie next to each udder!”
I was a bit stunned and had to ask him to repeat himself. Ohmygod! A comprehensible joke! A quite funny joke! Then, just as I was about to laugh out loud.
The Boy: “Mummy - what’s an udder?”

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

“You get Smarties on your pillow at bedtime in Heaven.”

It was said with such utter matter of factness that even if you wanted to there was no room for discussion. I had wondered if the fact that I had to put our old Jack Russell down yesterday afternoon had had any affect on either of my boys – they just seemed to have taken it in their stride.
In the morning there was Biggles and in the afternoon he was gone.
The Littlest has said nothing and I’m not sure if he has noticed. But the Boy has obviously been considering the matter very seriously.
After demanding biscuits and other foodstuffs on immediate entry to the car at pick up time from school this afternoon and as we meander back along the windy Suffolk lanes, he suddenly pipes up from the depths of the back seat.
Him: “What happens when you die?”
Momentarily flustered and veering slightly in the road, bringing us rather too close to the answer in a practical way, I avoided the question with one of my own.
Me: “Who’ve you been talking to about that?”
Him, nonchalantly: “Daniel, Henry … what happened when you killed Biggles?”
Well there you go then. No beating about the bush, no putting a gloss on it, no putting him down or putting him to sleep, just straight out there – when YOU killed him.
Me: “Well,” - not actually trusting myself to commit to the word kill and unsure quite where the conversation is heading – “what do you want to know?”
Him: “Everything!”
Me: “What from the start?”
Him, slightly losing his patience: “I want to now everything from the beginning, what happened.”
What happened? So I start by telling him that Biggles was old and probably not very well. I tell him that Biggles had got too grumpy and that when dogs are grumpy it means that something is wrong, perhaps they are in pain. I remind him about Biggles snapping at people and how horrid that was. The Boy takes it all in and I have a feeling he’s not interested in the reasons behind the decision. It seems as if he takes these as read. Would that it were so for me. I am uncomfortable with the word kill – but that is what I did. I don’t want to say it was because Biggles had become too unpredictable and that I was scared.
My musings are brought to a sharp halt.
Him: “Muuuum, what happened at the vets, when you killed him…”
Me: “Right well, um, well, er, I took him into the vets’ on his lead and we went through to a room, which was nice and warm and comfortable, then the vet put him on the table and got a needle out and injected him then Biggles sort of fell asleep and that was that.”
Him: "Where? Where did he put the needle in??"
Right details as well ok then. Blood thirsty little monster.
Me: "His front leg you know sort of like your arm when you have injections…."
Him: "Like my injections?"
Me: “ER, well no, um, not really, but in the same place but we don’t do that with humans, you see we have a duty of care with animals and we have to look after them and you see it’s important that we do these things so they never suffer..”
Him: “Like being God?””
Oh Phew!
Me: “Yes. Like God.”
That was close…
Him: “So now he’s dead - is he in heaven?”
Right. Now Heaven. OK. Dogs and Heaven. Should I say yes ‘cos that’s what I believe or should I sort of fudge it? What has he been told at school? Maybe dogs are not heaven material as far as the Church is concerned? Well I bloody hope they do though ‘cos I love my dogs and it wouldn’t be much of a place if they wern’e there. Right then here goes…
Me: “I’m sure he is.”
Him: “What’s heaven like?”
Why has he chosen now for this conversation? Why when I am driving home has he chosen now to ponder these questions? Next he’ll be asking me how many Angels dance on the head of a pin!
Me: “It’s the best of places. Just think of all the good things you like doing and eating and stuff like that and that’s what it is like I expect.”
The Boy ponders for a while then starts rattling off a list of things he likes doing and it feels like we are on safer ground.
Him: “You get Smarties on your pillow at bedtime in Heaven.”
Not bad…
Him: “Mummy, you wouldn’t have to wash up in Heaven!”

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

For a dog…

My eyes ache with unshed tears
And I am oh so tired
The lassitude of grief has taken over
I travel in a cocoon
All is muted
All is numb.
Neither hot nor cold.
The chimes from the clock are from another world
Out of time with mine.
And why do I mourn?
For a dog. For a dog.
But it is more than that.
It is for all the other griefs
For all I have not been able to mourn
It is for the guilt
For the things done wrong
For the things done not well.
Things only he bore witness to
For the links to the past, which will never be again.
For the betrayal of trust,
Promises not kept
I sigh, such a deep heartfelt sigh
Give my self up to the inevitable
And cry.
For a dog. For a dog.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

When ironing becomes interesting...

I'm as bad as The Boy and bit worse than The Littlest. I am in serious procrastination mode and just can't seem to settle down to work.

The Boy will use almost any excuse NOT to go to bed and if forcibly put there will inevitably find legitimate ways of not staying there. These run along the lines of:
  • I need to do a pee
  • I need to go to the loo
  • I need to do a poo
  • I need a drink
  • I had a bad dream
and my personal favourite:
  • I need to tell you something

This one gets me every time as I am too curious by half and if and when I do send him packing without taking the bait I can no longer get back to doing what I was doing because all I do is wonder what he was going to say, so land up bombing up the stairs to ask, which of course completely undermines what I was trying to achieve in the first place. Discipline.

In the past the things he has to say to me which are too important to wait until the morning run along the lines of Knock Knock jokes and the like but the one he came up with last night was quite simply:

I love you - definitely worth an extra cuddle don't you think?

The Boy's younger brother will actually stay in bed, which is good. The problem is getting him there in the first place.

It's a mixture of promises and threats.

I promise to read you a story and if you don't stay in bed you will have to sleep in the greenhouse. I don't think he knows what a green house is but he is suitably in awe of it and thinks that bed is a more preferable place to kip.

We go through a bit of a rigmarole before I use the threat, down the lines of:

  • Where's Jelly? (His unique Jellycat - in that I have not been able to find a spare so live in permanent terror of losing said Jellycat as he refuses to sleep without her. Jelly of course gets lost lots. Mostly she is kidnapped by the Dog and usually found either hiding in the long grass or the Dog's basket. Luckily none the worse for her adventure - I on the other hand am worse and require a medicinal brandy to restore my equilibrium)
  • Where's my water?
  • Where's Daddy?
  • Mummy sleep now?
  • Huggie?
  • Kiss?

Repeat as often as you can get away with before Mum blows a fuse then:

  • I sorry....kiss?

If they procrastinate about going to bed where do I start? Well it actually involves work - which is what I should be doing now - but hey there's the ironing...

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Bouncing off the ceiling

I’ve been bouncing on the ceiling – not necessarily what most people would have thought I was doing following an appointment at Addenbrookes with The Boy – but what I have done nevertheless.
It’s been one of those weeks – gone in a blur.
I can’t believe it’s been only seven days since Dear Charlie and I argued our way into Addenbrookes in Cambridge and took The Boy to see the specialist about his blanking/absence seizures (Petit Mal)
The Boy had a great time on the Super Mario giggling and laughing for most of the time -infectious little scamp. Unfortunately the same could not be said for me. I was grilled. I was rather taken aback and felt very small and stupid – I actually admitted to it. I blame it on the specialist’s bedside manner that got me that had me blurting out truths I thought I had hidden from the whole world – I am an unobservant mother.
It was just like those dreams you have when you are happily doing something usually in a school/office scenario when you suddenly realise you are stark bullock naked – it felt just like that: exposed and rather chilly.
Of course the specialist was just doing his job and getting the facts. Absence Seizures are tricky little things and of course The Boy’s ones would be atypical wouldn’t they? I felt I was being asked to justify why I was having the appointment. First I was told that what I described about the blanking was wrong, then the history was incomplete, then that teachers had a tendency to blame lack of attention in class on absence seizures and was I sure.
My brain always has a problem when too much information is heading my way especially when it seems to be coming across in an aggressive manner. My tongue sort of curled up and any connection between it and my brain was lost in translation and I sort of stumbled out my answers feeling like a total idiot.
In a nutshell The Boy zones out for a few seconds frequently during the day. You can’t snap him out of it by shouting at him – he just does not hear and when he comes back he usually looks at you as if you are quite bonkers as if to say: “Why on earth are you calling my name in a middle of a conversation?”
Usually he continues where he left off, sometimes in mid sentence. Other times he looks quizzically at you for guidance as to what he was doing or talking about.
I’ve seen him blank riding his bicycle and going right over the edge of our deck without noticing. That meant he dropped some 2ft to the ground. It was bit of a shock I can tell you and required lots and lots of cuddles. Both he and bike were fine thank God. But it certainly put me on alert as he could quite as easily tried to go across a road in front of a car!
For a long time I thought it was because he was tired, or that it was to do with growth spurts, as I would only notice them occasionally at supper time or if we were talking. Since the longest is only five seconds and the shorter ones merely a heartbeat I suppose it was amazing anyone picked them up at all.
It was picked up in Nursery when he was just four but didn’t get noted in his Reception year despite me asking for it to be monitored. His form teacher wasn’t exactly concentrating and I have yet to get to the bottom of that one – suffice to say I will be having a written explanation from the school for the specialist as I was definitely noticing the absences at the time but putting the symptoms down to tiredness at the end of a school day and the ones in the morning to having to get up too early!
It was his Year One form teacher who brought it up with me at the beginning of this term; she’d seen something similar before in a young boy, which turned out to be Absence Seizures/Petit Mal – I was so grateful that she’d noticed and that it wasn’t just me. But I also felt so completely stupid for not going with my gut feeling – I knew something was wrong. Perhaps I was too scared to find out.
So that left me in a small room being bollocked – well not exactly, it just felt like it.
Luckily I was informed that the specialist always kept an open mind and in the way that spoke volumes for similar treatment for weeks to come we were whisked into making an appointment for an EEG.
Which is where The Boy and I have been this morning but still doesn’t tell you why I’ve been bouncing off the ceiling.
The Boy was brilliant and liked the idea that he would have wax in his hair: “Just like a rock star!” he says to me.
He is lying on a trolley bed propped up and both neurophysiology technicians are attaching wires to his head. They chatter to him and he to they in a non-stop sort of way pointing out the pictures in the room, the panic button, the lights, and all sorts. They talk about his school and his mates and what he likes to do.
Then he’s asked to shut and open his eyes, to look at a flashing light and to blow on a windmill to make it spin.
I notice he blanks a few times during this and am glad that the whole session is being recorded – at least there will be proof now. Then suddenly he flops eyes glazed and it’s not a few seconds this time it seems to go on for ages but I’m sure it was only really about 10 seconds. My heart leaps to my mouth and I make a move towards him to gather him up, to protect him. Neither technician seems worried and The Boy perks up again unbothered. It takes a while for my heart to stop racing.
He spends ages choosing his badge at the end of the session and then we sneak a hot chocolate and brownies in the canteen before returning to normality.
His return to school just before lunch is worthy of the rock star he wanted to be earlier. There are a babble of questions and suitable gasps at the answers. I wave him goodbye and return home to work.
There are a lot of e-mails and as I go through them I come across a name I don’t recognise. I open it and there it is – we’d like you to join our team to run in the Flora London Marathon 2009….I’m bouncing off the ceiling with excitement – this is like: Hey WOW!!!!! Now I can do something – I’m going to be raising money for Epilepsy Action

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Just another excuse...

Everything is grinding to a halt and all the things that do need doing are not being done and all the things that could be left, or are of no tactical advantage, have become incredibly exciting and I have to do them NOW.
There are drifts laundry under the stairs, unopened post dumped in mounds on what is left of the kitchen table, dust bunnies are breeding and as for work – forget it!
Hands up - I am not the most organised person on the planet. As Dad would say I couldn’t organise a piss up in a brewery. I freely admit that - so what is causing the stoppage: The Boy.
To put it more accurately I am in full flooded worry mode after the news that The Boy has Petit Mal – well the GP is pretty certain that it is and now we await our first consultation at hospital to find out how to deal with it.
My mind is so full with questions and concerns and so scared that I cannot articulate any of them. I know from Googling that it can be treated easily. That it is more than likely The Boy will grow out of it. But I can’t help feeling worried – an unspecified worry that niggles all the time.
The day after the news, even though I shed not a single tear, I felt as though I had been weeping constantly. I was exhausted.
I felt frustrated that I could not get it sorted out at once and being told initially that I would have to wait 60 days for a first consultation had me spinning almost out of control.
I don’t want to have too much information before the first consultation in case I start to take issue with the experts – which I understand is not the best way to get them on side. Nor do I want to go in a total ignoramus - so betwixt and in between I sit. Do I or don’t I?
And it’s spreading into the other compartments of my life and I feel a bit like the Titanic about to go down with the bands still playing.
I spent the whole of Friday begging various Epileptic Charities to take me on for the London Marathon via a series of e-mails and slightly mad telephone messages. It just seemed the best way I could do something, the best way to keep myself occupied enough so I wouldn’t cause confusion in the household before the weekend.
All of them were delightful and if they were slightly bemused by being bombarded they took it in their stride. I do hope I get chosen – it would keep us all amused if nothing else this winter.
Or is it just another excuse to be disorganised?

Monday, 15 September 2008

Having a good (clean) laugh...

I suddenly have a boy not a little boy or even an overgrown toddler but a boy. He has put aside babyish things and now spouts forth to all and sundry everything to do with bottoms.
Ah yes you all murmur with varying shades of embarrassment – lavatorial humour. Please when do they grow out of it?
The mere mention of bottoms, farts, pee and poo send him into paroxysms of stifled laughter. Sometimes he’s helpless with giggling too much and has to resort to shaking silently on the ground curled in an almost foetal position.
The best thing to observe is when he’s in a gaggle of his mates. You can see them egging each other on to say the MOST outrageous thing they can muster gaining particular kudos if it is overheard by an adult.
It bursts forth from them and is immediately rather unsuccessfully stifled by a hand. If admonishment is forthcoming it seems to make the situation worse with added spluttering and choking and in the face of that you know you are lost.
You can see the little blighters strut off like bantam cockerels all puff and pride buoyed up with their victory. You shake your head in secret admiration.
So instead of confrontation how’s about out bottoming them?
Please note this is not to be done when the headmaster can over hear you ‘cos in mid flow on the lavatorial front suddenly The Boy went very silent and I well I carried on until realisation dawned that I was not as alone as I thought.
I turned stricken to see our glorious head standing behind me arms folded.
He: Most enlightening!
All I could do was glow head to foot with embarrassment I tried to say something but instead all I could do was start to giggle. I felt that the situation called for a hasty retreat and The Boy and I bundled ourselves into the car tout suite bright red with embarrassment stifling our laughter as best we could.
It was great to be on the winning side!

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Lament for a Land Rover

I want to blow up my car preferably with an anti tank missile or some other form of loud ballistic. In my mind’s eye I see her exploding with doors spiralling into the sky, a satisfactory whoomph and puffs of white smoke. It will take place on a gloriously hot clear sunny day. Piercing blue skies in the background, the car alone on the heathery moor.
What could be a more fitting end to a rusted out Land Rover, which has faithfully served my family for some 14 years?
It has been integral to our lives having seen me courted, married and brought back to earth with a loud bump due to impending motherhood. It has been there for the highs and lows. It brought my babies back from hospital, taken us on holidays and visits, brought us back from funerals.
We’ve slept in it, eaten in it, popped champagne corks in it. My son's first ice cream was devoured in it. We’ve been sick in it, hurt in it and even peed in it (well come on the poor boy was only three and Daddy would insist on going on to the next lay-by!)
We boogie in it, shout in it, sing in it and laugh in it. We tell stories to each other, play eye-spy, just shout at each other. Sometimes we just listen. We have full and frank discussions in it – many about it. We argue and we make up in it. My husband tells me he loves me when we are in it.
We’ve done 187,986 miles in it and now its bottom has rusted out and I can’t afford to weld it all together. And that is the point I can’t afford it any longer.
If diesel prices hadn’t risen so fast I might have nursed her through a few more years - in fact I always thought I would. But the cost of getting her through her MOT AND keeping her on the road is just too much to bear- some £6,000 a year and rising.
So the time is near and now it’s the final curtain and I am having problems emotionally letting go of a two-ton hunk of rusting metal. It’s just not in me to see her crushed, she deserves a better send off so I am seeking ways to do just that…and that’s where the tanks come in. The Army I’m sure could do with target practice and I know a man that knows a man who just might be interested - anything but the ignominy of the breakers yard….

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

What happened on Thursday evening...

Something out of the corner of my eye catches my attention, a fluid movement slips out of view, a deadly shadow in the evening sunlight, slinking ever purposefully towards the hen hut.
A cacophony of noise erupts in the peaceful evening haze. A scrabble of claws, a whirr of beating wings, squawks and thumps and a flurry of hens appears in the middle of the drive.
The wraith-like shadow pauses and passes on. There is easier prey to be had – almost on a plate. For at the back of the pen there is an inviting box and from the box the harbinger of death can smell warmth, blood warmth. Succulent warmth. Adding to the piquancy of the moment is the delicious aroma of fear. Hearts beat faster and faster and louder and louder stamping out the dance of death and in a flurry of downy white feathers the deed is done and all you can hear from inside is the snap of bones and cartilage and the chomp as the Ferret starts on hor d’oeuvres.
By the time I realise what is happening it is all over for the chick. My fury knows no bounds and like an avenging angel I descend upon the vulpine creature snapping it shut in the box. I pause and consider the options before me and in this time, these brief few seconds the Ferret is already making its move. Driven by a fury that matches my own at having its dinner disturbed the Ferret hisses a warning then determinedly it pushes its nose at the corner of the lid. Without thinking I grab at its scruff. There is a squeal of outrage and then the most exquisite pain as Tuppence sinks her fangs into the base of my thumb. I pinch tighter, determined not to let go despite the fact I can hear the crunch as her teeth sink right to the bone. She struggles to get a better grip and sinks her teeth again. I make a grab at her with my other hand and in a blur of mahogany ermine she plants her fangs into the fat of my other hand.
I love my chickens to pieces and instinctively I have gone to their aid but as I dance about the yard with a ferret stuck on my hand I do ask myself are they really worth it?
As the ferret flies through the air to land cat like near the feed bin some 15 yards away I am really angry and I now block its chittering movement with my feet, stamping down just in front of it’s nose letting the vibration force it to back away. Hissing in blind fury the ferret lunges again and realising that I have come out in flip flops I beat a hasty retreat hollering for Roger my neighbour to come to my aid.
Tuppence and I dance around the yard as she determinedly retraces her steps to the scene of the crime (or dinner depending on whose view you take).
Roger calls.
Me: Grab it Roger!
Him: What?
Me: The Ferret.
Him: What ferret
Me: That one, the one that bit me (as if there were more than one!)
Him: OK then.
Roger really is a very affable chap. Bonkers I’ll admit. And before I can warn him of the imminent danger he is putting himself to, he stoops to swoop it up and catching it, he expertly holds it in his arms. The ferret knows it is beat and acquiesces. Butter wouldn’t melt.
I glower then realise that I really am bleeding rather a lot and from both hands and it really is rather painful.
Me: Ow!
Him: Well you shouldn’t have picked it up then should you!
Me: Roger! I had no choice - it was killing my chickens.
Him, with a distinct air of superiority: Get yourself over to Annie and I’ll sort it.
I stomp off to see Annie muttering about know it all old farmers and hissing just like Tuppence about how unfair it is and why does it always happen to me.
Annie sorts me out quickly with a good dollop of TCP and listens as I continue to hiss and spit. Agreeing with me that he is a tiresome old bugger when suddenly there is an almighty yelp – we both grin.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Now let's be very clear...

Casually glancing up at The Boy’s bedroom window while deep in conversation I happened to spy a naked form flitting about on the window sill.
It took me a while to work out just what was going on and a few moments more before I was pelting round to the front door diving up the stairs charging into his room.
Me: “Just what the heck are you up to?!”
Although somewhat startled by my sudden appearance, The Boy looks at me as if I am extremely stupid. His expression becomes pitying.
Him: “Playing Mermaids.”
Right, silly me of course naked boys jumping off window sills -obvious isn’t it. We’re at the bottom of the sea and we’re mermaids.
Him: “I told you that’s what I would be doing.”
I remember something along the lines of I’m-going-upstairs-and-changing-into-home-clothes not I’m-going upstairs-stripping-off-all-my-clothes-climbing-on-window-sills-and-half-scaring-my-mum-to-death. I start to tell him this then I recall him saying to me he was going to play mermaids. I stand there with my mouth half open and my finger raised ready to admonish him. Nope I can’t I was so busy just doing things I probably zoned out on him as he was talking.
Him: “Mum?”
I focus.
Me: “Right. Well, playing mermaids is all well and good but jumping off the window sill is verboten. Now get dressed.”
Him: “But mermaids don’t wear clothes!”
Me: “This one does – now get a move on.”
Him: “Can I still play mermaids?”
Me: “Now let's be very clear about this you may but only if you’re dressed and no jumping off the window sill.”
I leave him to his imagination and return downstairs. Just as I sit down to have a cup of tea there is an almighty bang and thump from upstairs. I bolt back up prepared to do battler but before I speak, he interrupts.
Him: “I’m not jumping off the window sill, I’m using the desk…!!!”

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

How do you write?

This was a question posed on Purplecoo - the site I belong to (a seriously great place to belong) - by the wonderful and very talented Jackofall.
So how do I write? I used to write poetry as a kid and kept it up until/while I was at college - ghastly stuff full of angst and totally over emotional. I gave it up. There are some things in one's life, that as you get older, you realise are best left behind.
However, I used to read it aloud to check that it flowed. It is something I continue to do to this day. It also helps with the punctuation and where best to put the emphasis or stress points within a sentence.
I write for a living in the business sector and do a lot of research before a single word is put down. I interview about 8-10 people for each article plus gather as many relevant facts and figures from a host of sources. After talking to so many people I have a good idea of the issues and I will try to draw on them as the slant for my article.
Sometimes the slant or point of the article will be given to me by my editor and it is up to me to find the facts to back it up or failing this to persuade the powers that be that the slant I have chosen is the best one.
Then it flows or not. Sometimes an article just writes itself and at other times it is a total nightmare and I have to nurture it, pound it into shape, scream at it, jump up and down and then sullenly get on with it, muttering all the time.
Other times I am just not in the mood. However, bills and a looming deadline are great for concentrating the mind!
I will read and re-read each piece adjusting and trying to correct spelling mistakes etc as I go along. Once finished though I will quickly scan. I can't read it properly, it has to just go. I think that this stems from all the anxiety I had over exams. I once got so wound up that I ripped up the whole exam paper because my answer was not quite right and then did not have enough time to finish. Needless to say I failed the exam and the humiliation of that failure haunts me still as I was meant to be the best in the class on that particular subject.
When it comes to more creative writing I started out with a round robin letter when I first got married in 1999. I was stunned by the reception that first one, and now subsequent ones, garnered. I even have a fan base in Yorkshire among my parents’ friends.
To cut a short story long they kept badgering me to write more and although I think them highly biased in my favour, they were a great influence on me taking up the Country Living challenge in 2007. So I started to blog.
I am not disciplined and so I will just come to the screen when the mood hits me. Although I am now finding that I write loads in my head all day I rarely get it all down. There have been so many things I have wanted to share and so many ways I have wanted to express myself.
I now find that I love writing - just for the sake of it. The process is very therapeutic and I believe it is making me a more accomplished journalist - well, a certainly more confident one. And it has been profitable though only in a small way.
Dear Charlie showed my blog off to a publisher acquaintance of his and I now write a column for him three times a year - I know not much. It is a lighthearted look at the trials and tribulations of sending children into the private school system. Totally fictitious but with plenty of facts/stories to back it all up. Some I witness first hand and others I am handed on a plate, usually round the dinner table. Sounds silly but these three pieces (so far) are my most treasured cuttings. To be paid and acknowledged for your work especially when it is creative is one of the biggest buzzes I have ever had.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008


Harry and Sally sitting in a tree:
First comes love,
comes marriage,
then comes Sally and the baby carriage

Ah yes it was bound to happen sooner or later – for me it was Robin trying to pull up my skirt to see my knickers – the indignity especially as he was younger than me!
However, unlike me, The Boy is the instigator rather than the victim in this little playground scenario.
Strolling into school – early for once – The Boy was accosted by another Mummy.
With mock severity she says:
“What have you been doing to my daughter in the playground? Her Daddy is gonna’ come and get you!”
The Boy just giggles and squirms and I notice for the first time that he really does blush.
Me: “What have you been up to?”
OM: “Hasn’t he told you?”
Me: “No, it seems he’s already keeping secrets from me. What DID you do?”
The Boy answers from the depths of my skirt and I miss the crucial words as he gets an attack of the giggles again egged on by his friends who are all whooping at his embarrassment.
ME; “Spit it out monster.”
The Boy shouts: “Kissin’!”
Me: “Kissing!”
Oh My God we’re at that stage already. Kissing in the playground. Now most people would be fine about it – and I am really - but there is a certain amount of trepidation because you see I was kissed by Dear Charlie when I was only four and a half and look what happened to us!
On my way back home I realise that I could easily be looking at my future daughter-in-law and a little bit of me sinks somewhat. All day I try to put it to the back of my mind but it keeps springing back up.
Returning to school I laugh with the other mothers in the playground about these latest antics and secretly I ponder whether I would want any of them as in-laws for my son. I reason that on the whole I get on with all of them and I actually like most of the girls in The Boy’s class – it could be worse.
As they file out and say their “Good Afternoons” I watch The Boy. He catches my eye and grins and runs off laughing with the others for a few snatched moments before being rounded up by respective mothers to head home for tea.
They’re all in a huddle and suddenly I hear that old chant about K.I.S.S.I.N.G and damn me if it’s not about him with another girl. I have a feeling that my Son might just be a little bit of a tart.
(PS. I am secretly very pleased – he’s obviously quite a catch.)

Monday, 12 May 2008

Shooting Starlings….

I remember when I was young the horror of having starlings suddenly flying down the chimney and into the living room in a 'phut' of grey ash and flickering feathers which would invariably be accompanied by cacophony of squawks and screeches from sundry species.
It would usually end with the poor bird up against the window panting, while we, in the opposite corners, would be doing the same and my father would be surveying grimly the destruction of the best room.
It used to happen on frequent occasions as the poor birds tried and tried again to build their nest at the top of the chimney but it was not until the said nest got stuck and caused a fire that my father decided action had to be taken.
After trying every conceivable way to get rid of the little "S**Ts" as he called them and being driven to distraction he decided it was war and went into commando mode. The Full Monty in the back garden with his tent and camouflage - I believe he even painted himself. I'm afraid the starlings didn't stand a chance. BUT, there is always a but, they did get their own back sort of...it must have been the final days of the siege and Dad shot one. It landed with a plunk on top of the ridge of the barn opposite his bedroom window. It lay there with its feet akimbo a "V" sign, which Dad had to endure for many, many months afterwards....

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Sibling Rivalry

Once upon a time many years ago a lonely Little Girl on holiday in Hammamet, Tunisia, wished for a baby sister. Like all wishes you need to be very careful what you ask for. Needless to say her wish was granted but by then some two years had elapsed and the Little Girl was used to being the ONLY princess in the house.
She put up with the new baby but hated the fact that her mother was always with The Baby and no longer had any time for her. The Little Girl was always told be careful of The Baby, be quiet for The Baby, let The Baby have that toy. The Little Girl was told how lucky she was to have a sister, how happy she must be to have a new baby.
When the Little Girl said she wanted The Baby to go away, to be sent back where it came from, she was told not to be silly, she was told not to be so mean. The Little Girl realised that people would only be pleased and kind to her and have time for her if she said she loved The Baby. So she did. But with no where to vent her true feelings, and no one to take her side and to make time for her, the Little Girl died a little inside and in that space a piece of jealousy grew and it was spiteful and cruel.
The Little Girl would sidle up to The Baby and pinch The Baby to make The Baby cry, she would take the baby’s toys, she would even steal the baby’s sweets. The Little Girl grew watchful and would do these things in secret so no one would know least of all her parents. For the Little Girl realised that with the birth of The Baby there was not enough love to go round, there was not enough time in the day.
The Baby grew and as far as the Little Girl was concerned The Baby always had her parents time and affection while the Little Girl was told to go away and play. The Little Girl had to play on her own. The jealously buried itself a little deeper.
When the family moved, the Little Girl was left to stay with her grandparents, as her parents sorted out the new home. Her parents said it was exciting to stay with her grandparents and what a treat it was, but the Little Girl saw that The Baby stayed with her parents, The Baby was not left behind. The Little Girl’s jealously grew again.
The Little Girl was sent to school because it was easier, she stayed in a big scary house with spiders that ran over her bed all on her own in a dark, dank room. She saw her parents at the weekend but they were very busy moving house and looking after The Baby.
Once everything was sorted The Little Girl came home for good and she was given a big room to play in. She made new friends and was allowed to stay up late. She was happy and she did not mind her little baby sister at all. Then her parents started to talk of sending her away again. She did not want to go away. The Baby wasn’t being sent away. Why thought the Little Girl do they want me to go away?
The Little Girl was eight years old and was sent away to a boarding school at the other end of the country and her parents moved again, this time abroad. The Little Girl begged her parents to take her with them, she cried and she pleaded but it was to no avail. The Little Girl saw that The Baby went with them the Little Girl cried her self to sleep because it was so unfair.
After a time the Little Girl got used to going away and The Baby grew. When The Baby was seven years old the Little Girl was getting bigger and so was her jealously. Like an evil witch the Girl would whisper dark forebodings in The Baby's ear; “Make the most of your time with your parents for they will soon send you away.”
And in time they did. And the Girl was no longer as jealous and she began to realise that this was the way of things and she regretted being so mean to her Baby sister.
Many years passed and one day the Girl met a boy and they married and had a child of their own. The Girl saw her parents often and life was good.
But what of the Baby sister? She too got married and had a child but she did not see her parents as often.
The Girl got pregnant again and her mother agreed to help her when the time was due. The Baby sister wanted to go on holiday and needed someone to look after her child. She called on the mother who said she could not, as she was to help look after the new baby. The Baby sister persuaded the mother to look after the child saying that The Girl had plenty of people to help, had plenty of money to hire help.
The mother was in a quandary. So The Girl suggested the mother bring the Baby sister’s child to stay for she desperately needed her mother to help her for things on the outside are rarley what they seem. The Baby sister’s child came to stay but missed its parents so badly that it cried all day and night to be with its Granny and the mother was unable to help The Girl.
The Girl was upset and unhappy. Why had her sister needed to go on holiday just then when the Girl really needed all the help she could get?
The answer was jealousy. For as much as the Girl had been jealous of her Baby sister so had the Baby sister been jealous of her. For every term time the Baby sister had been the only princess in the house and every holiday she had been usurped.
After the birth of the second child, The Girl had postnatal depression and was too tired to understand. All she reasoned was that she would never have played so shabby a card on her own sister. So she decided to have nothing more to do with her. They did not speak to each other and avoided ever seeing each other for nearly two years.
And then there was a phone call and The Girl’s mother was saying the Baby sister had tried to call The Girl but she was not there. The Baby sister had needed her family and they had not been there for her and she was all alone. She was all alone having a miscarriage and she had turned to the only people she could trust and knew who would care and they were not there.
And The Girl cried for although she was and had been jealous it did not seem important now. She left a message saying that she loved her Baby sister and as for the end of the tale – well, we shall see…

Monday, 21 April 2008

Where I live...

As a youngster this caused me great anxiety as I frequently had no idea. I think we moved so many times that I sort of gave up working out where I lived as I couldn’t explain exactly where HOME was. I still can’t: HOME is where my parents are and despite the fact that I cut the umbilical cord over half a lifetime ago, HOME is still where they are. It’s easier that way – tho’ causes my husband considerable consternation. I grew up an itinerant wanderer – basically a modern day camp follower. I hasten to add that my mother’s morals have always and will always be above reproach. Camp followers have such a bad press. By the time I was six I had lived in six different homes and had attended six different nurseries and schools. These were formative years and although I went on to be incarcerated at boarding school for ten years, the confusion about where I live, where home was and even who I was, was so deeply embedded that when the question is asked I can feel my heart beat faster, and my mind goes blank and out pops the answer: “With my parents.” This obviously causes raised eyebrows at social functions and my reputation is somewhat suspect. In answer to the question I now live in the depths of wildest Suffolk where the rabbits play chicken with your car at dead of night and Pheasants fly in low on kamikaze missions determined to drive you off the road. This is our final resting place - leastways says my husband who has never fully recovered from the move seven years ago from London. (I blame it on too much Styrofoam and bubble wrap) - and from the comments made by the parents on viewing our new home back in 2001 probably our nemesis as well. The story of its acquisition, like all good tales sees prospective owners Charles and myself falling in love with it, offering for it, nearly losing it, then battling it out with rivals to secure it for ourselves. A story of passion, skulduggery, hope against hope, and finally….my mother calling it Cold Comfort Farm and muttering about woodsheds while my father stared ashen faced refusing to say a word. It was and is a BIG project but one that is keeping us entertained and hopefully allows us to entertain in turn. Just to clear the outside to see what’s there, Dad estimated he would need 10 men working 4 weeks solid – his chainsaw went into ‘hospital’ after a mere 36 hours. Rookyard makes me laugh and not always with hysteria. We have woods, meadows, a fabulous moat, a hemp plantation - found in a secluded corner of the property - and of course the house itself with twisty corridors, undulating floors, inglenook fireplaces and at the beginning our very own mushroom cupboard providing delicious fungi for breakfast! Boy, have we moved on since then…several builders later and we are almost there but at the moment jus - we have run out of money and now must make do and mend…but what fun we’ll make it - it’s either that or going completely mad!

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Shall I compare thee?

For The Littlest…

Shall I compare thee to a full time Mum?
Thou art more grumpy and intemperate
Thy work does use up all thy spark and fun
And my childhood is all too short a date:
Sometime too late thou may remember this,
That while thou workest I play alone
Some stranger holdest me and wins a kiss
That by rights is only for thee to own
But no it is not yet too late for thee
Shake off the clouds of deepest despondancy
Shut up thy work and come now and follow me
For the sun does shine on us right joyously
So long as we can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

I promise we will play together….

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Chicken Rescue

At this time of year my hearing becomes finely tuned, enabling me to pinpoint individual sounds wherever they occur all over the farm – well at least my four acres of it.
With uncanny accuracy I can home in the faintest cheep in the furthest reaches of the dusty barn attic, I can seek out the peeping of any individual even at night.
For at this time of year the chicks start to hatch and from now until September I will be on my guard night and day to save them from themselves and in some cases from the negligence of their mothers.
I don’t know why it is but as soon as I hear that first high pitched peep I can never rest until I know all are safe. I believe I can now differentiate between peepings and cheepings and know which are distress calls and which just exuberance.
Usually the first cheep I will hear will be from a hatchling stuck down the side of a bale or perhaps a pile of wood and after locating it I will endeavour to get it back with the rightful parent and the rest of its siblings.
My chickens, you see, have a tendency to lay in a variety of hidey-holes and some have an exceedingly idiotic survival mechanism, which forces them to lay in the most dangerous of places. Stupid lays her eggs in the barn attic necessitating a 12ft drop for her hatchlings and not all of them have that kamikaze-like attitude to life, which she obviously takes for granted. When you’re only 4 inches high 12ft is an incredibly long way to fall…
Others have been known to lay at the bottom of the grain pit, which is 6ft deep with smooth concrete walls - if you can’t fly your time on this earth is going to be severely limited.
As much as I try to locate my broodies, I inevitably miss a few. However, once a brood is found to be in trouble or requiring help, the machine, which is Chicken Rescue, swings into action.
This means I locate the problem, assess it and then scout around for suitable assistance depending on the severity of the mission. If it requires climbing then I haul J or any of the builders usually to be found lurking in the vicinity. Wise builders know that as soon as they hear the chicks it is evacuation time but some just can’t help themselves and allow curiosity to get the better of them. I am merciless and no matter how much they plead a fear of heights or feathers there is no escape.
If I know it is an aggressive hen then I normally huff and puff and do the job myself while bitterly complaining about how wimpish men are…
I know each hen and I know how good or bad they are as mothers. The best need only the occasional hand - for instance when a chick gets separated on the wrong side of the fence - while the new ones or those I know that are quite hopeless are given more support in the form of the Nursery coop.
Here I can keep a very beady eye on everyone until I feel it’s time to enjoy the big wide world.
Despite all my efforts, which have had me running around in the dark in only my nightie and a pair of gumboots in an effort to track down a solitary cheeper and reunite with its family, I will lose far too many to count. I will have to kill some that are too weak to survive or that have injured themselves and I hate that: but to see the ones I rescue scampering about in the sunshine fighting over bits of worm almost as long as themselves and to watch them grow warms my heart and makes all the effort worthwhile.

Friday, 7 March 2008

A day in the life of…

There is something delicious in waking up early knowing you don’t have to get up, you can snuggle back down and sleep for a few more precious minutes until eventually your conscience or your children get the better of you.
For me this is normality. A constant battle with what I would like to do and what I have to do. Mostly I am awake by 5.30 usually because that’s when my husband gets up and showers to get ready for work and our shower is, like me, not a lark. And so it complains bitterly waking The Littlest, who protests loudly at this daily intrusion on his dreams.
I note that when my husband is away the morning programme doesn’t really kick off until 6.30 by a request from The Boy that he would like to go to the loo (actually he’s more specific than that but I won’t go into details). I suggest that he doesn’t really need to share the minutiae of his daily bowel movements with me first thing in the morning and I pull the pillow back over my head dampening out the dawn chorus that is my household.
The pillow has been over my head since 5.30 when I shut out the sound of The Littlest – he understands that unless it is a real emergency he won’t get his mother’s attention until at least ten past seven.
Roughly fifteen minutes before the Alarm is due to go off, The Boy will say he’s hungry and five minutes later he will inform me that he needs help with his train set and a few minutes after that he’ll ask me whether it’s time to get up. From these constant interruptions I gather he has yet to comprehend the meaning of the grunts emanating from the depths of the duvet on my bed.
The Alarm springs into action with The Today programme on BBC Radio 4 but I cannot make out what they are saying over the incessant peeping that overshadows it. The peeping is part of the Alarm mechanism and something I know I cannot ignore. With the responsibility of children and getting them to school on time, it is a godsend. Many were the times, especially in my college years, that I was able to turn my Alarm off without even waking myself up.
I pride myself that I can get up, get washed, get dressed, get my children up washed and dressed, get my dogs out and fed, the cats fed, beds made, breakfast eaten and then cleared and put away, and in the car in 50 minutes - when seriously organised all this, which I believe to be a feat of extraordinary proportions, can even be done in 45 minutes but it takes an awful lot of effort and to be frank I am really not up to it at that time in the morning. Nor is the Whippet who I have to shout at from the bottom of the stairs just before I make my move…she is a lazy little cuss – no idea where she has got such a shocking habit!
However much I fine tune it though we always start off late because a fit of the ‘guilts’ will strike me just as I have successfully managed to squeeze The Littlest’s flailing limbs into his car seat.
The cause of the guilt is the sight of a group of expectant ducks looking at me from the top bank of the moat like a gaggle of star struck teenyboppers, occasionally bobbing their heads with suppressed excitement.
A quick glance at my watch, which is always five minutes fast, and I have just enough time if I don’t dawdle.
I run to the big metal bin and the ducks explode into flight laughing in excitement landing splish, splosh in the water, the noise of which alerts the girls who start to cackle and jostle within the hen hut. Ollie or one of the other cockerels will crow urging me to get a move on.
The feed bin is flung open and I dive to the bottom mentally cursing myself for not moving the grain over, if I had done so I wouldn’t now be teetering on the edge, scraping the bottom and I wouldn’t have a horrid black greasy line in the middle of my lovely clean cream jumper. I know I’ll have to go back inside and get my ubiquitous black gillet to hide the stain from the approbation of the impeccably turned out Yummies at school.
I throw the grain out in great scoopfuls before opening up the coop. I play a game with myself as I count the girls out checking them at the same time. What number will Blue be today? She’s the oldest of the flock and is meant to be an Old English Game but she looks nothing like them. She’s a sort of grey blue colour, each feather fringed with a dark line and her neck feathers are the colour of black treacle and marmalade. She has hard golden eyes and a predatory look. She brooks no nonsense.
Once they are all out my attention turns to the nursery, Splodge is flustered and arcs her wings protectively around her babies. I am not in the least bit impressed she’s just too soft but it’s sweet of her to try to be aggressive. Nothing like Mrs Brown who frankly scares the bejeebers out of me. Mrs Brown has drawn blood and I am very respectful - that or I wear big leather gloves.
I double-check everyone is out and knowing I have to go back into the house I collect the eggs as well. I always thank the girls as I trot past on my way inside, a clutch of blue and pale brown eggs gingerly held - I pray I’ll get to the door before dropping them.
I finally get a move on and start up our faithful Dora Disco Land Rover and we swing out the drive, late. The Boy demanding I put ‘Harry Potter’ on while I peer left and right over the head of Tigger, our car dog. He likes to know where he is going but it is tricky driving in a straight line with a hairy Jack Russel on your lap and his feet on the steering wheel.
We career through the village and out onto the open road playing eye spy over the dulcet tones of Stephen Fry and the comings and goings at Hogwarts. Crossing fingers I veer right down a back road in Stowmarket and I am in luck there is no train to hold me up – much to the chagrin of The Littlest.
I focus on the job at hand and realise that we will make it before the bell rings at school. Our journey is about half and hour and soon eye spy begins to wane. For a while there is only Stephen Fry.
Nearing the school the boys demand their daily game of Animal Noises. I ask each of them in turn to make the noise of a particular animal. It is the only game where The Littlest can join in. He loves it. And beams with delight when we cheer his interpretations. I always save the best one to last timing it so that we are all – including the dog - howling like wolves as we race up the long drive to the school steps.
Safely depositing The Boy it is then a race to Stowmarket to get The Littlest to Nursery on time and then flogging it back to the homestead before the Builders arrive. My life in the house would mean nothing without builders…
I have had builders here since 2002 and although they disappear for a few months at a time there is always work going on of some sort. This causes me deep anxiety as I have yet to unpack properly since getting married.
This may seem a trifle unusual but I moved from my flat to live with my husband whose house was already kitted out (thus no room for my stuff); then we sold the flat and the house and moved here. But here was not quite prepared for our invasion so we stored everything in boxes - copious and commodious large brown cardboard boxes each with a number that correlated with a page in a Reporters notebook listing everything within the box down to the last fuse. I promptly lost the notebooks.
During the years we have managed to accumulate a vast amount of stuff and I mean vast! The contents of three other households have been added to that which we already owned. We live on the principal that until we sort ourselves out nothing can be thrown away in case we have a use for it or more importantly the part we have in our hands may have a corresponding bit in one of the boxes that will shed light on exactly what we have. We don’t actually know what we do have and this presents problems - a barn full of problems…
We promise ourselves that we will get organised as soon as the house is finished…hence my anxiety – we never seem to be anywhere near finishing!
In the interest of keeping my builders happy and content and thus working very hard on finishing all the work at this time of the day I produce the first batch of teas and coffees – and nab one for myself.
I totter around all the cables and duck under the arc light to see what the chaps are up to. We’ll discuss what they are doing and what they hope to achieve and then before I know it we move on to a more esoteric type of conversation and then just as suddenly we drop into double entendres and innuendo - I usually leave on a high feeling well satisfied with what is going on and trip back into the kitchen to finish my tea.
The dogs need to go out again I duly oblige flicking the door open and letting them stream out amid barks and yaps and a swish of tails. The cats yell at me again and I stare at them in mock incomprehension - they need feeding and Siamese are very vocal.
Finally at about 10 I get to my office and after negotiating a path through the piles of paper and mounds of magazines without making the dust spiral into the air, I make it to the computer switch and start to process work.
Like the majority of those who work from home I am easily distracted: the ‘should of life’ getting in the way of ‘want of dreams’. A bit like this really….
Depending on the severity of deadlines I will either be focussed or not. As usual when I am not, nothing happens and when I am, all hell breaks loose! The interruptions of the day are not all instigated by me I’ll have you know.
Roger, my 65 year old neighbour and former owner of the farm, may come over sometimes to show me a nest he’s found, or to tell me there’s long tailed tits down the other side of the hedge for me to go and have a look at. Perhaps he wants to borrow something and before I know it I am being regaled by a story of the farm from the past, or an anecdote about some character in the Village long forgotten by most. I love these stories and feel very mean if I have to call a halt to them but sometimes you just have to. The problem is there’s nothing Roger likes more than an audience and the audience at his home has heard it all before so I have often found him wandering about the house with the builders but wherever he is there’s always laughter and I like that.
Sometime during the day I will get hungry and scout about the fridge for a delectable treat failing that, as I never have any, I just bung something between two slices of bread and eat it semi-on-the-hoof accompanied by a big mug of tea. Cake and biccies are my biggest weakness and heaven forbid if the boys have been given chocolate – it never lasts and I forever have to replace it.
During the morning I will have been down to replenish the builder’s tea and coffee and will do another round at lunchtime. The next one is just before I collect the Boy from school at 3pm and then one on my return. That’s five rounds in a day and when we had 11 builders in site it was quite a feat of memory as well as washing up.
Once I have collected The Boy my time is devoted to him whether he appreciates it or not. Today was a ‘not’ because I kept saying ‘No’ and he said he hated me to which I replied: “I know!” I couldn’t resist and burst out laughing at his expression to which I was told I was a horrid stinky mother…I quite obviously deserved it. Today we went to fetch some make up so I can turn him into The Hungry Caterpillar for World Book Day on Thursday. I have been given 48 hours notice and have had to draw upon my secret weapon…
I don’t talk about it much but I have a man in my barn.
No part of my day would be complete without talking to J. He’s my best friend and I have no idea why on earth he puts up with us all. Suffice to say we ALL know we’re on to a good thing from The Littlest to Dear Charlie so in an effort to ensure he never leaves we made him a Godparent. Now he’s stuck with us forever…
J as an upholsterer of rare talent can sew and I can’t. Therefore I say to him we need to make a caterpillar costume he raises an eyebrow and says: “WE?”
“Well you actually as you know I can’t sew – it is an emergency!!!!”
By five it’s time for the boys’ tea and the great process of going to bed starts. As quickly as we get up is as quickly as the day draws to a close. Rounded off by a story for each – I’m jealous of the time with them here as no matter how horrid I may have been this is the bit of the day when I can make it up to them. For having to work, for being short tempered, for giving them baked beans yet again.
Then it’s off to work again until Dear Charlie gets home, maybe catch a sly bit of Emmerdale and a glass or wine. Depends on how panicky I feel about the deadlines… I’ve been known to work until 1am in the morning. In fact I was working that late the night before I gave birth to The Littlest. Between the two deadlines there was only five hours!!!! Something I keep mentioning to my publisher in case he thinks I am not as dedicated to the magazine as everyone else.
Dear Charlie pulls in the drive and the dogs go bonkers – a useful early warning system – alerting me to rush and grab a ribbon for my hair put on a frock and to greet him with a great big smile, his whisky and his carpet slippers at the door. I think he’d actually quite like that but we can all dream can’t we?

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Seven random facts...

The wonderful Potty Mummy has hunted me down and tagged me for Seven Random facts: Thank you for rescuing me!
She actually caught me in the middle of a flurry of paperwork as I frantically finished my self-assessment tax return before the deadline. I always promise myself that I will not be caught out again but invariably I am and as deadline approaches things get more desperate. All that paperwork I meant to file in July has to be sorted out and the receipts and bills I stuffed in drawers, files and shoe boxes have to be pout into date order so I can work out what I did spend and try to tally that with the bank account – how I wish sometimes that I made life easier for myself and either a) gave up my job or b) got an accountant or maybe even c) got myself a really efficient secretary….
This year I have been totally swamped and now as I look round my office in the aftermath there is not a single spare surface not covered in piles of paper and there is no point even suggesting I look for the carpet. Suffice to say I do know it’s there…

Seven Random Facts….

I only have 24 teeth….
Now you’re all using your tongue to count how many teeth you have some will have about 28 and others maybe even 32 I think with Wisdom teeth you’re meant to have 32 but although as friends and family will attest I have a perfectly large enough mouth there just wasn’t enough room for all my teeth so the dentist removed some. Problem was no one told me he’d be doing it! It came as an awful shock one school holiday and I am afraid I still haven’t really forgiven my mother….
I am NOT organised….
See above
I have lived and/or visited 11% of the countries of the world
Would I have had it any different growing up and travelling all over the place as a camp follower – I doubt it. What a privileged life I have led! And what places I have lived! From the tiny state of Brunei to the far-flung reaches of the arctic. The only shame of it is I cannot possibly take my boys to all these wonderful places…
As a child I read Dodie Smith’s 101 Dalmatians 41 times
I loved this book quite literally to pieces and even though I must have known the story virtually by heart it was still a new story every time I read it. Even now there are certain books I can just read and read and read. They are not necessarily classics nor are they necessarily high blown literature just books that can help me when I feel down or lonely, sad or just tired. Reading has been my escape and my solace. Heaven would be a library of everything I ever wanted to read and all those books that I would enjoy just at the time I needed them.
I sleep with my whippet in bed (and I always will)
It’s a dreadful habit, quite probably extremely unhealthy but I can’t see myself giving it up. I’m afraid and I will come clean or dirty whichever way you’d like to interpret it but she sleeps under the covers in a little ball either at my feet or even right beside me. Dear Charlie sleeps with my whippet’s daughter - I do so like the corruption of individuals especially those who adamantly say they would never in a million years…even better when they agree it’s rather nice!
I still daydream that one day I when I am a grown up I will be famous but life keeps getting in the way…
Why do I do this I will never know. At 14 or 15 there was everything to play for and now at 40+, well to be honest it ain’t likely to happen now perhaps I do it to pretend I am still young for I don’t feel any older than I did then. And it is far more amusing than sorting out paperwork or doing my tax return!
My narrative is kept in the National archive…
Somewhere in the National Archive is a recording of me done for the Millennium. I believe hundreds, if not thousands, of people from all over the country were asked about their lives and what living in Britain in the 20th century meant to them. I think mine was a load of old rubbish. I was NOT in a good space at the time and very stressed out with preparations for getting married, no job, huge and mounting debts and on a massive come down following my trip to the Magnetic North Pole. Real life was just happening far too fast and not quite in the way I had envisaged….
There we are seven random fact for you delectation!

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

I love children but I couldn’t manage a whole one…

When I was younger, child free and lived in London I never noticed children per se - a bit like in movies they just weren’t seen, let alone heard. That is, unless they became the focus of attention.
In London this would be brought painfully to my attention especially if I was late for work. I would find myself caught up in the school run trapped between dark blue Volvos and sleek grey Mercedes as they cruised shark like for the elusive parking spot closest to the school gates slewing from either side of the road as I cycled furiously so as not to be squashed into the kerb.
At other times I would find myslef having to brake and veer wildly as the Mummies opened their car doors oblivious to other road users while they businy hauled out a well scrubbed and matching pair of blonde bobbed juniors to plonk them with a sigh of relief at their corresponding educational establishments.
On other occasions it would be the screaming child at Peter Jones in the glassware department near the spiral staircase right next to the front entrance or horrors in the middle of Sainsbury’s at Nine Elms. How I stared, how I tutted and shook my head or else averted my gaze so as not to embarrass the poor lone mother already heavily weighed down with a paraphernalia of parcels, plastic bags and for good measure another mewling infant on the verge of eruption.
The poor mother would have to cope in ever growing isolation and you’d hear pleadings, sobs, and bribery all in a desperately hushed whisper. Occasionally mother would explode startling children and shoppers alike but it had the desired affect. To be honest I have no idea what is the best policy in those situations. I think in myself satisfied single life - as it was then – I believed that of course I would do it better. Today I was well and truly hoisted by my own petard.
It all started off so well, we found a space to park, we got a trolley, we got into the store and we even started to get shopping but from then on in it was an unmitigated disaster.
The Boy: I’m hungry!
Me: You’ll have to wait darling…
The Boy: I want a banana
Me: I said you’ll have to wait - it won’t be long
The Boy: Look Mummy a pineapple – I want a pineapple!
Me: No love we don’t need one of those
The Boy: Why not?
Me: They’re not ripe yet (and they’re too expensive.)
The Boy: Look Mum! Strawberries!
What strawberries in January? English??!!! Oh from Peru
Me: How lovely Darling but we’re not having those…
The Boy: Why not?
Me: They have come too far love we need to get food that is grown in season
The Boy: But if they’re here they’ve grown haven’t they? So they’re in season…
Can’t fault the logic can you?
It carried on like this wanting things, whining about things because he could not have them until at last frustrated by the fact that for some unknown reason there was no milk I told him to be quiet or there would be no Gingerbread Man treat for him.
The Boy stood there and dissolved into the most heart-rending picture of an angel being told it would never get to heaven. The sobs tore at your very soul right there in the dairy aisle slap bang in the middle of Waitrose on a busy Wednesday afternoon.
I was dumbfounded, out paced and totally out of my depth. I began to wonder if I had been a little too harsh - perhaps I was a little rough when I said the big N.O.
I put my arms around him only for the sobs to get worse and turn to wailing nay keening. The Littlest stared at his brother in awe and catching my eye silently held out his arms for a cuddle pleading for reassurance as the wails got more and more wild and his brother’s shoulders started to quake – it was all getting rather out of hand and the crowd was getting uncomfortably large. I was furious, the little bugger was making a total show I longed to give him a short sharp slap across his behind and everyone was starting to stare and mutter I glared at them all and then back at the source of it all who was now beginning to hiccough uncontrollably. So I started to clap and holler: “Oh well done lovely, marvellous darling – the show’s over now and we’ll collect your Oscar at the checkout!”
I don’t think The Boy quite expected that and I have no idea where it came from but snatching an opportune moment I grabbed his arm and stormed off past the cheese and round the corner into the frozen aisles where it was a little less crowded. Hissing at him I warned him that if he ever tried that on again… but faltered what would I do? Luckily he had been taken by surprise and had gone very quiet. We were given a wide berth, which annoyed me even more.
I marched purposefully around doing the last bits of the shopping trailing a quietly crying child overhearing the occasional snuffle and mutter from him. The Littlest was silent taking it all in clutching his Jelly Cat in one hand and my sleeve with the other.
Dignity just about intact I made it to the cashiers’ desk and out of shop – oh the relief!!!
We were all very quiet on the journey home.

Go on you know you want to...


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