Saturday, 30 January 2010

What if: Dreams one has when one should really be thinking like a grown up...

Late last night on my way home from visiting my newborn Nephew I thought about life as you do on a three and a half hour journey. You know, the ones you do on your own with no one to talk to but yourself. The music is thumping out Robbie Williams and you are sucked into a world of "What if..."
What if you were young again? The music disrupts your thinking and your mind becomes confused. One minute you're a forty something mother and wife, the next your are a mere slip of a thing at 23 and it is as if the last twenty years were but a dream...
The snow is falling and there are few, if any, vehicles on the highway. It's as if you are stuck between worlds and all you have to do is make a choice. This one or the one that could have been.
I think I must have been very tired and probably not fit to drive but I thought of so many missed opportunities not with exactly regret but with a wistfulness that should not have been there, not now anyway.
I allowed myself to dream, I allowed myself to meander impossibilities that never were and never will be. I crushed the thoughts from my mind. Or at least I tried. But my traitorous indisipline triumphed again. And, I being tired, thought: Why not? It is only dreaming after all, it's not as if it could ever come true.
So  I allowed myself to indulge and the dream was so perfect, so wonderful. I almost, almost could taste it. The yearning, the longing for it to be real without any hurt to anyone temporaily usurped my sense of reality. In fact for a time after my journey ended I was angry that it should not be so. But I slept on it and the mundane humdrum pattern of my daily life quickly gained the upper hand.
It should have faded.
But then a few words turned my life into a sopa opera, at least in my head, and I will never be able to tell anyone.
Anyway what interest are the daydreams of a forty year old anyway...
Do I really want to make a complete tit of myself and destroy everything? Embarrass everyone especially those I hold most dear?
No of course not.
I am the mother of sons. I have four dogs and two cats. Too many chickens to count. And of course I have a loving, though somewhat exasperating, husband.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Doesn’t it feel just like school…

Now we are well over 30 we are definitely grown ups or so you’d think. But to be honest it is all a sham. The vicissitudes of life may make our understanding better but down at the school gates it’s as if we had never left.
The cliques and gangs that were the bane of our lives then are just as much prevalent, if you look hard enough, as they ever were,
And don’t fool yourself into thinking that just because you are older and wiser that you can rise above it – in fact it is just when you think all is OK and you have a good handle on life that you will be felled and felled hard.
You can of course put off the fateful moment by not interacting at all with the school gate posse but let’s face it you tried the anonymous bit at school and you know eventually you will be so stunned and amazed that one of the popular posse speaks to you that before you know it they’ve used and abused you making you feel worse than ever before.
The pecking order is very like that of school there are the popular ones buzzing around a Queen Bee who usually has older children at the school and knows everyone and is on first name terms with the great and the good that make up the School Governors. Then there are a variety of cliques such as the chalet girl types, the horsy ones, those with obviously far too much time and/or too much money on their hands. There are the professional working Mums who are considered scarily clever, and of course there are a variety of second wife bimbettes, wannabes and the odd and peculiar whom everyone looks on with slight alarm.
I fall in the odd and peculiar group for although I don’t consider myself part of any particular set that is not how I am judged. I am plainly not scarily clever for I do not have the VIP hauteur so cultivated by women executives when dealing with mere mothers, nor am I popular for I do not know the right people and nor do I get invited to lots of dinner parties, never mind the right ones. I do not wear the right clothes or even drive the right car so I obviously don’t have the money or the style to be a lady who lunches. I have no idea what spavins are so can’t join the hunt.
And none of that bothered me one iota until of course I had the temerity to start organising the PTA. And it’s not as if I even wanted to – I got lumped with it! Basically I do have office skills of a sort and I am curious by nature so when the PTA was looking for someone to take minutes I thought: “Why not?”
I tell you pure vanity got me into this mess!
Everything was going along nicely, I was able to make a difference get things organised and running smoothly. It seemed a doddle. So when the nominal chair had a fit of the vapours (basically got thwarted) and she said had to resign, I landed up in the chair and everyone was so terribly nice. I almost got carried away with it all suddenly finding myself popular, with people actually listening to what I said rather than doing their best to pretend I wasn’t there. I started to garner a kind f respect and it was all very, very, gratifying.
However, these things end and there was the inevitable coup. It was done beautifully and I applaud the Queen Bee. It was so totally typical and so totally school.
Having finally got everyone thinking about costs and focussing attention on where we could actually raise money all there was to do was sell tickets. But inevitably that did not happen and with two weeks to go not enough were sold. So back from the sidelines the Queen Bee comes into rescue the situation and the whole event lands up back in her capable hands. It’s was amazing how quickly she got her acolytes back on the job and ticket sales soared. It was genius!
Basically I don’t think I am or was ever cut out for the cut and thrust of school gate politics…

Monday, 25 January 2010

Bullying: The truth and nothing but...

What happens if what you are told is not the truth you thought it was?
I am in a quandary for I cannot seem to work out truth from untruth. What I thought I had heard from The Boy I may not have. And me mentioning it has caused allsorts of ripples.
But there again I did ask the school what to do and didn’t seem to get an answer that tallied. It left me very confused and feeling dreadful that I should have caused anyone unnecessary upset.
So I ask you what is bullying and what is just teasing? When can children work out the difference? I am afraid it’s not going to be a black and white answer is it?
And then there is the fact that I am questioning the veracity of what my son is saying to me. For some people children have no concept of the truth and are therefore liars at every turn unable to tell fiction from fact. For others the opposite is true to the extent that they are blind to it.
To be honest I don’t quite see what my son has to gain from lying. But there again there is the niggling feeling that having got my attention in this way he likes it and realises he can keep it by in effect stoking the boiler of my moral outrage.
There has been a lot of talk going on in the household and some of it has bound to have been overheard. I notice I am having to ask The Boy to remove himself to the playroom or else physically checking in on his whereabouts before I speak.
Where once that would not have mattered, nowadays it is more difficult. We are in a place of transition with our eldest and trying to tie in that, and our natural concern for his welfare, is causing me to get extremely confused.
I do not like thinking that my son is lying to me but at the same time I really don’t think he is: I mean he can’t be with something this important: can he?
Perhaps there is a middle ground? A place where he is telling the truth but only as he sees it. I have spoken to him several times about the importance of telling the truth and I know he knows that I doubt him. He tries to make what he says more palatable by slightly changing the story but although I know he is only trying to help, it just leaves me doubting more.
I keep saying I just what facts just what happened but the telling of a story depends from whose perspective you take. Regarding the play fighting issue in the loos before lunch last week, it turns out there was in fact another boy as witnesses, a point The Boy had failed to mention. When I came back to this he said that of course they would all stick together as the other boy was best friends with the one who was play wrestling and he would stick up for his friend wouldn’t he? It is all so plausible. The numbers tend to sway one don’t they?

Friday, 22 January 2010

Review: Skoda - "By gum! It's game!"

I had never been so nervous in all my life as I waited for the bods at Skoda to collect their car. I had gone over it with a toothcomb and as far as I could see I hadn’t done it any damage and it looked nearly as clean as when it arrived – well it should do I’d been washing it down and hoovering it out for what seemed like hours.
I reflected on my week with the Yeti and can honestly say I’ve not had so much fun in a car since Dear Charlie first allowed me behind the wheel of his sports car in 1998.
Oh Wow! I remember that day. He had knocked on my door and led me out of my subterranean hole into the afternoon sunlight one Sunday. And there she sat positively purring on the other side of the road, a sleek sculpted vision that just begged to be touched. I had no idea he’d let me drive but he showed me over and gallantly held the driver’s door open for me to sink into the cream leather sets. She was so new.
I remember feeling terrified and excited at the same time as she drew away from the kerb. The feeling of freedom and trepidation warring with each other as I drove her over Chelsea Bridge and then: then the real fun! Cruising down Kings Road and everyone staring. I had a grin a mile wide and it appeared to me to be infectious, for everyone I looked at, or caught the eye of, seemed to be smiling back – and even then that was a result in London.

And the car I drove that afternoon? Well it was making headlines back then though now possibly people would laugh; it was the Mazda MX-5 NB (the first one without pop-up lights). At the time she was a revelation. I’d like to say she still is for we still own her and at present she’s sitting outside on the drive, still going strong and I’d like to think- especially in the summer – still turning heads!
With a Skoda the last thing you would think was that it turned heads – but it did, not necessarily for looks, more like curiosity. I let my curiosity take wings and I was surprised. In my one week I had determined that I would really put the Yeti through it’s paces school runs, trip to the vet, furniture removal, off-roading, weekly shop, family outing, towing the horsebox, the works.

And the real question was would the Yeti be able to do everything I used to do with my Duchess, Dora the Land Rover Discovery – the car I had had to reluctantly send to the scrap heap only 18 months before?
Let’s just say that for starters, unlike Dora - may she rest in pieces - I didn’t feel like I was driving a tank. In fact it was exactly like driving the Golf but more fun ‘cos it is higher and I could once again peer into everyone’s front rooms and gardens again and more importantly I could see over everyone else’s car to find out why there was a traffic jam. It’s these small things I find I miss so much in an ordinary bulk standard car.
Apart from the drive the most notable difference between the Yeti and Dora was that the Yeti didn’t drink nearly as heavily. In fact I averaged over 40 mpg the whole time even on the school run. Now Dora even on a good day struggled to make 28 mpg on that run!
Now there are many reasons why people have 4x4s and for the moment I will not indulge myself, especially with those who have 4x4s when they live in towns and cities. However, in the countryside a 4x4 really starts to work.
I have livestock that has to be moved around and taken from field to field and a 4x4 is most useful and more convenient that borrowing a neighbour’s old tractor - it’s also warmer and is more often than not fitted out with at least teh most rudimentry in-flight entertainment. Anyway, the most important thing about most 4x4s is that they are large. There’s usually enough room in the back of a Disco to bung a few sheep. In the past I’ve seen up to eight ewes in the back of one and that’s before you slap on a trailer.
And that is where I found my first problem, not in the volume capacity of the Yeti but in its pulling power. Although the engine had no problems, the fact is the Yeti is just too light a vehicle and you could really feel the animals moving around. Braking was scary as I didn't feel 100% confident that the horsebox wouldn't push us on. Admittedly I was trying to pull a large horsebox with a 18 hand hunter in the back – I’m sure we weren’t far short of one and a half tons so quite a big ask for a relatively small 4x4 – but as Eric, a farmer friend of mine in Yorkshire, would have said: “By gum it’s game!” 
(Look out for Part Two - The real problem with the Yeti...)

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

You know that brilliant piece I wrote...?

I’ve been admonished by a three year old. I was in a happy reverie upstairs contemplating my blog entry after getting out a bath; feeling deliciously relaxed, warm and smelling of roses.
Stomp, stomp, stomp coming up the stairs and a little blonde head appeared with brow furrowed and eyebrows meeting in the middle:
Bog Boy: “Whatcha doin’?”
Me: “Nothing, go on downstairs you little bugger, bedtime.”
Bog Boy - not moving: “You comin’ down too?”
Me “In a while…when I get dressed.”
Bog Boy – still not moving: “When yer goin’ t’get dressed?”
Me: “Soon!”
Bog Boy - satisfactorily: “Your goin’ t’die like that.”
Probably! Me: “OK! Now! I’m going to get dressed, now.”
He’s happy now, I’ve got dressed, he’s had his goodnight kiss and he’s bargained a place in my bed in the early hours of the morning –ah well, I presume this is merely a prelude to his glittering career at the Bar!
The Whippet – by which I mean the Tattie dog whose name I use in vain – has also badgered me into doing something I wanted to do in my own time. She and the rest of the gannets have just been fed - earlier than usual but I fear it was the left over gravy in her bowl just that little bit out of her reach that prompted her to rush up the stairs and sit on my lap as I was trying to say Goodnight to the Boy. She’s one for direct action in these cases – it works and now that everyone is satisfied I can turn to the matter at hand. There’s just one problem; the brilliant piece I wrote in my head as I lay soaking like Cleopatra in the bath has gone…

Monday, 18 January 2010

Bullying: Being a Prize Idiot

 The Boy said he didn’t want to go to school last night. I really did not know what to say and so in desperation suggested perhaps it would be nice to see his special friends. He said he didn’t want to play with anyone and anyway no one would want to play with him.
I just wanted to burst into tears.

The litany of minor pettiness goes on and I can quite see why my eldest has no wish to go to school. He’s told me that he can’t play with certain boys even if Effy isn’t playing with them himself because when he does Effy comes over and he has to leave. But it seems Effy isn’t even satisfied with that. When The Boy and his friend were playing “Power Rangers” Effy ran past and said they were babyish.
If The Boy proudly announces that his Grandpa lets him help clean his shotgun after a days shooting Effy must say his father’s is better or his grandfathers is, or that he has his own gun. It seems that at every given opportunity The Boy is being put down.
On Friday I found out that Effy is even making sure that all the teachers know when The Boy does something wrong by drawing their attention to it. There was the incident in the loo just before lunch where the Boy, Effy and one other had gone to wash their hands etc. The Boy said he and the other landed up play wrestling to see who was the stronger. Effy said he’d tell the teacher that they were fighting. The teacher asked what had happened and the other said that he had accidentally banged past The Boy and that The Boy had then thumped him. Unfortunately when the teacher asked The Boy he gave two contradictory answers. Probably I would have done too by being flustered. But there again Effy said what the other had said was true – the awful thing is perhaps it was. But, and there is a but here, my boy isn’t aggressive like that. Bog Boy my youngest would hit back but not my eldest.
It was a one off incidence I thought. But the following day The Boy was, by his own admission grumpy and during Singing did not join in. Effy immediately brought it to the teacher’s attention luckily she told Effy to stop being a Tattle Tale and as far as the rest of the day went it seemed without incident.
He is perceptive and knows something is not quite right. I glean as much as I can from passing comments rather than immediately launching into what has Effy done today. He volunteers a lot many of it unconsciously because as he keeps telling me he does not want to get Effy into trouble. As far as The Boy is concerned although I am talking to the teachers, I haven’t identified anyone. I feel awful hat I have broken that trust.
It would be good if the effects of the bullying were just at school. But they are not. Behaviour that I had put down as him being tired, being a small boy etc or even attributed to his epilepsy I find fit the behaviour of a child that is being bullied. And it has been going on for ages. His inability to stop wetting his bed, his weepiness, his moodiness and lack of confidence. I am a prize idiot for not putting two and two together. For my naivety that because he is at a private school with small classes that he would be better protected against this sort of thing when in fact I believe the worse to be true.
I have SO let him down.
I promise I am going to get this sorted and I pray I do it right. II have found the most marvellous website so for any of you whoever have to go through this. Go here first:

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Bullying: You're not going to like what I have to say

“You’re not going to like what I have to say.”
I remained quiet to let him speak.
The Boy stared out the window pensive as if collecting his thoughts.
“Effy was horrid to me again today.”
My heart sank. Not AGAIN.
“Tell me what happened?”
“Well he huffed at me all the time and said I was slow in a baby voice.”
Nothing really to get wound up about is it? But when it happened every day and has been happening for weeks before Christmas you get the idea that Effy has a problem and seems to be taking it out on The Boy.
In fact a few weeks before the end of last term I had had a conversation about Effy’s behaviour with The Boy after he had said that Effy had hurt him and that he had taken to preventing The Boy and his best friend from playing on the bar by shaking it until they had fallen off. But it wasn't just Effy there were other incidences.

There had also been the incident about Golden Time – that precious 20 minutes at the end of a Friday when the children are allowed to do anything they want. The Boy had been hurt and was going to tell the teacher but the culprit had warned The Boy that if he did tell then The Boy would lose Golden Time as well, as the culprit would claim The Boy had hurt him too. Bit of an impasse there.
I accept that at school as in life there are strong personalities and weaker ones, those prone to bullying/picking on behaviour and those too eager to please. But in a school there should be a zero tolerance on this sort of behaviour. It is NOT acceptable.
At a small school where there are only 30 children in the playground full stop then there is no excuse for not noticing.
When it was first brought to my attention I asked The Boy what he wanted to do. Did he want me to tell the teachers? He was reluctant. I suggested I e-mail them without saying who culpritswere so that no one would get into trouble. He thought about it for a night and the next morning said he’s like me to tell the teachers because it wasn’t just him who was having trouble. So I told the acting head teacher and his class teacher and thought: job done.
It’s never that simple is it?
Over the Christmas holidays The Boy stayed with his Granny in Yorkshire and had by all accounts a wonderful time. He also talked to Granny, and talked and talked.
He wanted to know what a “Nancy Boy” was, and when asked why said that he was being called “Nancy Boy” by Effy. By turns over the next few weeks we learned a lot.
The Boy was not only being called names, he was being physically pushed around, intimidated and ridiculed and it had been going on for ages.
Yesterday as we drove into Ipswich on a quest for a new washing machine; I asked how the day had gone, knowing that the children had all had a talk about why it is important to be nice to each other by the head teacher.
Him, a bit hesitantly: It was Ok.
Me: Just OK?
Him: Well it was Ok until Effy put a hoop over my head even though I didn’t like it.
Me: He put a hoop over you?
Him: Yes he put a hoop round my neck in PE
Didn’t the teacher see?
No he did it when she wasn’t looking
Did you say to Effy to stop it?
Why not
He would just keep doing it
Darling you must stand up for yourself. You must tell people if they do something you don’t like or else how do they know?
But I do
But you didn’t today did you?
It’s very difficult.
No it’s not all you have to say very loudly is Effy stop it I don’t like it or Effy go away or Effy leave me alone. Nice and loud and he’ll soon get the picture especially if lots of people see him doing it and being told that you don’t like it. Come on practice it now with me.
And we did but he soon got quiet again
I’m scared
Oh darling I know you are scared but if you don’t pretend to be brave and stand up to him he’s going to keep doing it and you don’t want that do you?
I just want him to be my friend
I know you do but sometimes friends drift apart darling, sometimes they say horrid things and do horrid things for no apparent reason.
Did that happen to you?
Oh he’s a perceptive soul. I said yes that it had happened to me and he wanted to know more so I told him how A and I fell out, how she’d written in her diary how silly and childish I was and how she’d deliberately left it out for me to read. It was classic girl stuff – indirect but effective and no one could be held responsible but the victim herself. I said that sometimes friends were no longer friends but that perhaps over time they could eventually be friends again.
When will the real Effy come back?
I don’t know darling I just don’t know.

Monday, 11 January 2010

A not so perfect meme...

Why on earth should a simple Meme totally paralyse me? Why does my mind go blank and I cannot think straight? I mean all I have to do is think of five really good things that happened to me last year in 2009. Hardly rocket science. Surely it cannot be difficult?
And for me it is, I’m not saying last year was an “annus horriblus”, it wasn’t but I find it very difficult to focus on good things. I’m a glass half empty kind of girl. In fact I would say my attitude to life and my inability to look for the good things is a bit of a problem.
But hey I’m a depressive so why wonder too much?
What I did not expect was that I could not even blag my way through the Meme, I just froze creatively. However, it did get me thinking about blogging and in general how I blog. I’m not exactly consistent in what I write though for the most part I write about my children and the things they say and do that pique me, that make me smile. The things I want to remember and like all besotted parents the things I want to share.
In general I don’t write too much about the bad days, the days when the effort just to get up seems insurmountable though occasionally it will sneak through in the odd “Aarrrhhh, I am a bad Mummy!” post.
So here I am thinking and with huge apologies I just cannot do five – maybe I’ve set my aim too high? Maybe I am bedazzled with this “Perfect Mummy: perfect family” expectation that just does not exist.
So setting my sights lower but by no means taking away from the importance of each and every good thing I write for this meme. As promised to the lovely Mum’s gone to…
1: Got mad bad dog – and love her
2: Got though whole year
3: Got new wall
4: losing it... now cannot quite get there. Would like to say holiday to France was a highlight but that’s a story I’m not allowed to print ever not if I want family harmony…actually it wouldn’t have made the list let alone the short one. Least said…
Heck this is random but heigh ho!
Oh yes BMB and Purplecoo! Now they are highlights!
There did it five highlights of my year 2009.
(Good thing I finally got to write this now; I could have been mithering about it all year! Now in a nice strong Welsh accent like my Nanna used to do: “There’s depressive for you!”)

Friday, 8 January 2010

At home in the snow....

As I type the snow is beginning to fall again. We haven't had it bad here and it is only a few inches as yet. I secretly want it to be much deeper as do the children but I don't think my chickens do!

They are very unhappy about it and I have to go out three times a day to check on their water and even have to bring it inside at night to stop it freezing.

I have a three day old chick as well born to a particlularly silly hen called Stoopid2. I keep expecting to find it dead but so far every morning I see it. I cross fingers it survives.

The moat is frozen but I dare not try it for strength yet. The Boys are desperate to ice skate and having heard tales from Roger are up for a dash across it. I have told Roger off roundly now every time I take the children out I have to be like  hawk in case they spirit themselves off and have a go! A few Rookyard inmates have ventured forth albeit they are duck and chickens and I must admit it is funny to watch.

Have to brave the ciold in half an hour to get everyone tucked up and warm for the night. Even the ferrets as Ferry can't make it to look after them. They have fresh water and the remains of a rabbit to feast upon for the moment. I fear I will have to give them stew shortly as it is the only meat I have in the house. Not sure I want to share it with a load of ferrets perhaps they'll opt for cat food instead?

Monday, 4 January 2010

Unlooked for compliments down the frozen food aisle

I think I should be paid to go shopping. I mean I provide hours of entertainment up and down the aisles with my youngest in tow. Today I was caught in the middle of “The Dam Busters” theme tune as I sped up the frozen food aisle and about to do a massive halt and turn at the top by an elegant middle aged lady in a warm woolly hat.
Her: I do love seeing you and your boys shopping.
Me: !??%$£&!”
Her: You always seem to be having so much fun and you sing a lot.
Me: Ohmygod I am so sorry. I don’t mean to do it but…
Her: No no really it always makes my day to see happy people. It’s wonderful, really.
At this stage I am not sure whether I want to laugh, cry or just wish the floor to open up and swallow me. I had no idea I had a reputation or that in fact anyone even knew me in Waitrose. It’s just as well the branch I go to is 12 miles from home.
I suppose today I was rather loud. Bog Boy had his own little ‘Flag Trolley’, as he calls it, and we were both whizzing up and down the aisles and trying to spin at the top. I don’t think you can do this in Tesco because there’s not enough room to do that but Waitrose believes in making the shop seem spacious and calm (until we turn up obviously) so the top aisle that runs across is much wider than that found at Tesco or indeed Sainsbury’s; I’m not sure about Asda or Morrison’s because I haven’t shopped in either of them for years.
Anyway, all would have been OK if Bog Boy hadn’t kept bumping into me. Now when one of those trolleys comes at you and rams into your Achilles heel you yell – loudly! He did it three times.
Despite that we shopped quite companionably chattering away and singing. He tells me what he doesn’t like and I tell him well tough it’s not for you anyway. He then tells me what he does like and I still say tough without thinking and then we have a stand off. Through a series of threats, ultimatums, distraction techniques (hence the singing) and bribery we eventually get round the store. Along the way there are a variety of one liners for the grown ups so they don’t think I am a complete lunatic. I usually get a laugh or smile but there again perhaps they do think I am a lunatic and are just doing it to placate me…
However, no one has ever said anything to me before and to say I was taken aback would be an understatement. I mean we’re British, we’re in Britain and people don’t volunteer compliments to strangers do they? So I was flummoxed, taken off guard and momentarily quiet. At that point Bog Boy joined us smiled up at the lady and promptly told her he had got a remote controlled racing car for Christmas and then told me he wanted sausages and could he eat them in the car?
I looked at the proffered package of uncooked chipolatas and said I’d need to cook them first. He handed them to me and then said he’d have crisps instead and that he wanted a drink.
Me: Oh heaven’s he’s worse than his father!
Her: Don’t worry they all are! Just remember they are apprentice men: genetically challenged!
And with a cheery wave she disappeared in the other direction to the check out till.
By this time Bog Boy was off down the cereal aisle and I had to play catch up feeling rather light headed and happy. Needless to say Bog Boy got what he wanted!

Saturday, 2 January 2010

The little known joys of Letter writing...

“You are the horridest Mummy in the world and I hate you.”
At this stage in the game, I merely raise an eyebrow.
I have been called a lot worse in the space of the last half hour and although I desperately want to snap back: “Not half as much as I hate you!” I feel silence is probably the best option that and the fact that my husband has given me a sharp kick under the table and a meaningful glare across it.
It is that day of the year again: the day for writing the dreaded ‘Thank You’ letters. Now I love Christmas and I am a glutton when it comes to pressies but nothing in life is free and with gifts and the like comes the ‘Thank Yous’.
Most people still prefer a hand written form of ‘Thank You’ and I truly appreciate that but I am afraid I am not much better than my eldest when it comes to writing them. I don’t know why but my mind freezes and I can just about get out: “Thank you for my lovely present” before I completely atrophy and the life support machine of my creative thinking just goes blank.
There’s no point trying to jump start it, resurrect it or even try to enliven it; for the stuff that comes from my pen on to the card is lifeless. And it must sound it too. D. E.A.D. Without pulse. Basically lacking.
However, the letters must be written for they hang over you like vultures in the sky ever present and ominous. Which is why I find myself sitting at the kitchen table with both boys and husband trying very hard not to sigh too loudly again. I also try not to scream as for the umpteenth time The Boy asks me how to spell “Present”.
Me: It’s right there in front of you!”
Him: “Where?”
Me: “There!” as I point to the offending word, which is written out as part of a draft letter on a card in front of him so that all he has to do is copy it then draw a nice picture – would that someone could do that for me!
Him: “Can I not just write what the present is rather than say present?”
I give him a cold look.
Me: “You can write whatever you want just as long as you write it!”
Him: “But how do you spell it?”
Me: “It’s right there in front Boy. Just copy it for God’s sake.
Him: “No, not that. The present; how do you spell it
Me - a bit confused: “P.R.E.S.E.N.T.”
Him: “Is that what it’s called?”
By this time I am well and truly infuriated and I notice that he’s only got as far as writing the “T” in “Thank You”.
Dear Charlie can see I’m about to explode. I get a sharp thwack on my ankle.
Me: “Ow! That hurts!”
DC: “Would you like a cup of tea?”
I do love my husband. He is an expert at diffusing things. Especially letter writing as he knows I loathe it with a passion which I fear my eldest has inherited too.
There are dire threats as I leave the table to boil the kettle. No sweets, no TV and definitely no Nintendo until all the letters are written. I am distraught. Only five more to go…
Needless to say all the letters did get written, now I just have to get my arse into gear and pop them in the envelopes, buy the stamps and send them!

Go on you know you want to...


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