Thursday, 31 July 2014

"Top To Tail"

So we're here in Canada for but a few days this summer.  Having permanently shunted ourselves over to the British Isles nearly two decades ago, we long ago established a tradition of spending portions of the summer here, though giving it a miss entirely last year meant that convenient or not, this year we had to make a fly-by visit, if only for a week, the result being that an entire month's worth of things need to be crammed into an almost impossible timeframe.

So it was with some delight that I discovered that the 'official family spreadsheet schedule' for this 'holiday' (I kid you not - one actually exists - the fact of which causes me great mirth) allowed me the blessed chance to indulge in a luxurious facial.  I know, I know, there are many 'Yummy Mummy' types who regularly indulge in what I can only refer to as 'damage management'.

Sadly, I am not one of those.  Not that I'm against the concept per se, but frankly, with three little boys and no time to call my own (save when the last one is in bed and I want nothing more than to free fall backwards onto my 800 thread count clad goose down - snatching an Advil PM on the way down), the concept of luxury 'Me Time' is laughable these days.

So my divine sister (the bestest friend and partner in crime a girl could ever hope for) thoughtfully arranged this lovely surprise for us (though why she needs a facial when she is a mere few years younger than me but still looks eighteen - the lucky cow- is beyond me).

What ensued was the most dopamine fuelled high I have felt in a loooong time.  Probably since the days of acid house and tearing around India on a motorcycle with the husband, high on freedom and the impossible longevity of youth...

I swear I almost reached Nirvana, (certainly enlightenment:  something to do with running away and reinventing myself - snagging a fat balding Russian oligarch and getting to indulge in daily facials/massages/Chanel handbag bingeing for the rest of my days) and the fact that I actually looked (if not years younger - less like a washer woman and more like someone who might employ such a person) was merely the icing on the proverbial cake.

Afterward, for the remainder of the day, I found myself glancing at my visibly tightened visage, marvelling at the transformation of my now nearly invisible pores, tighter jawline, and general glow of...could it be...youth?!

Hurrah, I thought, maybe something can be done to halt the ever widening gap between carefree youth and adult nappies that doesn't involve needles, surgery or turning myself into a gurning Madonna-esque clown face with elevated comedy cheekbones and strangely shrinking cat's eyes.

But then my Mum happened.  I love her so much, and she makes me laugh all the time.  I consider her one of my best friends in the world and always will, but sometimes when I haven't seen her for awhile I forget about her occasional absent-mindedness.

So when I was getting ready for bed the other night, and asked if she had any gentle face wash (as I had been sternly instructed by the esthetician to only use tepid water that night and nothing else) but alas had found the allure of the MAC make-up counter impossible to resist, what with its' new limited edition line of what I can only describe as 'Scary Stephen King Clown meets 90's Homeless Goth' without doing my customary round of trying out every single new crazy colour of face paint - emerging thereafter looking like a stripper/drag queen/mental patient and grinning at the look of horror on my Mum and sister's face at my lime green eyeshadow and ice pink lip stick.

(Limited edition or not, I was promptly instructed to wipe my face clean or I was on my own for the rest of the day, as there was no way they were going to go around with me looking like a mental patient who'd gone berserk during Arts & Crafts.  I good-naturedly obliged, but not before sneaking out having purchased the amplified lipstick and an inky black eyeshadow.  It's heavenly and looks amazing on - even if, as they suggested later over dinner - I have reverse facial dysmorphia and think I look great when in fact I look hideous.)

Anyway, I digress.  The reason I needed to obey the strict orders to keep any chemicals at bay was to let the expensive ingredients soak into my skin and do their (not inexpensive) job.  So what did I do? Blithely neglect to properly read the packaging on the 'gentle facial wipes' my Mum handed to me whilst typing away on her ipad, and scrub the heck out of my new and improved face, before crashing for the night.

The next morning I awoke to find my face awash in spots and blemishes.

"Maybe it's the impurities coming out?" my sister gently suggested later that morning when we met up...her own face aglow from the facial and making her look even younger than her usual half her age.

"Hmphh" I grunted, wondering how to cover up the huge boil that seemed to be developing in real time on my right cheek.  I had woken that morning and gently used those expensive facial wipes again, so it wasn't like I had trapped Toronto dirt stuck in my newly virgin pores...I just didn't get it.

Later that day I heard the most startling guffaw as my Mum emerged from the loo, clutching the facial wipes, doubled over with laughter and barely able to stop chortling long enough to utter the words,

"The wipes!....Hahaha...the wipes I gave you.....!  They aren't for your face!  They are bottom wipes!  Oh Honey I am so so sorry!  Hahahahahahaha....."

I glared.  I screamed.  I glared at my boil.  My sister started choking with laughter.  I lost it and gave into fits of hysterical laughter which took some time to subside.

Many years from now my temporarily tightened visage will be but a distant memory...but I will always remember my beloved Mum inadvertently giving me harshly chemical 'Bottie Wipes' to use on my post-facial face.  And I will laugh and laugh to myself as I rock myself further and further into dementia in my rocking chair in my old age home...face plastered in make up in all the colours of the rainbow...thinking I look rather a picture.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014


blogging in peace :)
Ok so I've got a slight problem with my littlest guy.  He's now not only a genuine certified kleptomaniac (yesterday we had a very public wrestling match in a crowded Starbucks over an overpriced Mango Smoothie he had grabbed from the open air fridge and was trying to pull into the pushchair whilst I was trying to yank it up onto the counter.

"No Mama you NO MINE!  I take!"

But taking precedence over the current kleptomania problemo is the (granted fabulously fun to utter) 'Shut Up!" as an expletive.  (Only in 'Toddler-ese' it comes out as 'Shuddup!")

I want to blame this on his brothers (and by rights I probably could) but I know for a fact that my own personal record for uttering those words lately runs at about 4 times per hour soooooo it could be down, yet again, to my much-to-be-desired parenting techniques.  You would have thought I'd be an old hand at toddler manipulation third time round, but it appears not so.

Whatever the case, like all toddlers, the shock and horror (and let's be honest, surpressed laughter, at witnessing such a cherubic chubby faced grub come out with such an emphatic expletive - especially in crowded, inappropriate situations) has only propelled this new word skywards to his Top Five favourite things to say.

Case study A:

Busy SW11 park...mid-afternoon...chock-a-bloc full of (if not yummy - definitely not scummy) Mummies, coaxing their precious charges down slides, up climbing frames, etc.  My little Squit decides that despite being the youngest by a long shot, HE and only HE is equipped with the experience and know how needed to steer the imaginary (and very popular) wooden bus through perilous make believe traffic.  As self-appointed Conductor (and certainly not a passenger type), for a time this open air play with strange children appears to be going along swimmingly until...

I look over to find him reprimanding an older boy for trying to oust him from the drivers seat.  The boys' mother makes tracks tout suite and I reluctantly put down my iphone, slip on my black Ray Bans and hesitantly make my way over to where a full on ruckus is starting up.  I'm weighing up my chances of pulling off the 'I'm just the Nanny' vibe, but that's blown when Squit looks up, clocks that I'm about to yank him out of the seat and out of the park and yells louder than any human child should be physically able to yell, "SHUDDUP MAMA!  SHUDDUP I SAID!"  Cue mass playground parental horror.

Case Study 2:

Crowded Victoria line.  Rush Hour.  I am trying to wrangle an overloaded pushchair and three boys across London from N10 to SW11 at 10pm at night.  Their faces are smeared with chocolate (thanks Grandpa), they are hyped up on sugar, and scrabbling over their one shared copy of the Evening Standard.  We are getting off at the next stop and the baby is trying to climb his way over strangers laps and is now four seats away.  Passengers with nothing better to look at, appear amused at my predicament and I can see them idly wondering how I'm going to catch him in time to exit the train.

"Squitty...come to Mama!  We get off now okay?"  I lamely beg.

"SHUDDUP!"  I gasp in horror.  The woman beside me turns pale and rolls her eyes at the husband standing in front of her.  A cool looking dude in a pinstripe suit wearing wicked headphones (clearly turned down), looks over at me with a wry, sympathetic grin, clearly amused.

I try one more time.  It ends in a flurry of "SHUUUUUUDDDDDUUUUUUUPPPPP MAMA!!!"

I die.  That is all.
all (temporarily) quiet on the Western Front...(pre kick-off)

I guess on the positive side, to the best of my knowledge he has not told his paternal grandparents (whom we are visiting and whom he has not seen since infancy) to shut up yet.  At least I don't think so.

(Although a rather flustered early a.m. phone call from a rather grumpy husband in the suburbs this morning communicated the fact that whilst I have been traipsing about downtown with my gorgeous Sis and most wonderful Mum for the past 24 hours, he has been traipsing about his parents showroom of a house with the contents of the baby's explosive nappy on his chubby little toes. I suspect there shall be words when we meet up shortly.  C'est la vie.)

my lovely Ma :)

Monday, 28 July 2014

"Positively Latitudinal"

Last weekend we debunked our motley crew to Latitude festival in Southwold for three days of music, bingeing on family sized bags of crisps and slowly bankrupting ourselves on the giant slide and ferris wheel the kind organisers had cleverly seen fit to position right at the entrance/exit point of 'family camping' (meaning that several times a day our pockets had to be emptied for pound coinage in order to appease the three monsters clamouring for yet another go on a 30 second slide...possibly worst value ever ride?).

One of the highlights of the weekend had to be when Egg and I made for the front(ish) of the outdoor stage on the Saturday night to see 'First Aid Kit' perform "Silver Lining".  Twas wicked. Them Swedes sure can harmonise (though their bizarre American accents were puzzling to say the least).

The weekend had gotten off to a dubious start when we spontaneously decided to ditch the boys' last day of school in return for a full sunny day of gloriousness lying in grassy fields and checking out both the bands and the array of middle class parentage preening about in all their summer finery.

Of course we had neglected to remember that at the very least, such a manoeuvre required that at least one of us was required to ring the school and report the absence of our progeny.

Having had recently handed in not one but two absence request forms in the same number of weeks (one for Glastonbury when the monsters had to be ferried across town the night before we left in order to be foisted on my advanced-in-years father and heavily pregnant baby sister) AND another one when the husband transported the two elder boys up to Yorkshire to watch some Tour de France thingy (don't ask - I don't 'do' cycling nor am I the least bit interested in cycling-related activities - even when it pertains to my brood.  I suspect my disinterest is rooted in my serious aversion to the vile costuming mandatory for the sport, but who knows...)
bacon butties anyone?
Anyway, come Friday morning as the husband was trying to wrangle up brekkie in the form of coaxing some bacon butties from the camper van's tiny little stove for he and the boys, and I was 'taking a moment' to bask in the glorious sun and let my newly applied black Zoya nail polish dry (a necessity in order to alleviate the dreaded 'festival nail', which when left unadorned often causes anxiety due to uncomfortable musing about exactly what shape and form of microscopic vermin lurk in the crevices between skin and nail), it suddenly dawned on both of us that we had neglected to ring the school and let them know of the boy's final absence of the year.  Oops.  Our bad.
black...the ONLY colour for a festival manicure
It being 9:30am and already one hour into the final day of term, I suppose it wasn't the nightmare it might have been given that the day was likely going to consist of the children consuming their body weight in Haribo and watching some Harry Potter film as opposed to getting to grips with advanced timetables...but still...someone had to do it.

I point black refused.  I explained to the husband (in quite a reasonable and heartfelt manner I felt) that since I deal with the school office all year, it was important that he take the hit for this one and allow me to save face for next year - Egg's final year there - when I'm sure a situation will arise whereby I'll have to relinquish my final 'get out of jail card free' and maintain at least a modicum of believability and a smidgen of integrity.  Whereas he could just play the feckless Dad who 'like totally forgot' it was last day of term and had driven out of London with his little ones careening down the motorway in his rickety old camper van, oblivious to the fact that he had thus garnered yet another tick on the 'absentee' chart for the boys.
What responsible parenting looks like in 2014
Making fruit string jewellery beats making sums any day

But he also refused.  So a stand off ensued.  And because my nails were still drying (I swear) and because I was as content as a fat cat basking in a sun drenched window seat and he somehow knew that any form of manipulation or verbal abuse at this point would be utterly pointless, he grunted with annoyance and took himself off to 'make the call'.

I recently finished a great book by Neil Gaiman, "The Ocean At The End Of The Lane" wherein the child protagonist comments upon the fact that grown ups are really just children in big cumbersome bodies. No truer words were ever spoken.  A few short hours later a good friend of ours humiliatingly captured (and posted on Facebook - cheers for that darling) a picture of the husband and I playing out a fairly heated round of 'best out of three' "Paper-Scissors-Stones" for who would have to change the Fat Baby's big smelly festival poo in the heat of the mid-day sun.  I(uncharacteristically) lost. Drat and Buggery.
Anyway, all that was not even worth mentioning in light of what happened later that day when I took myself off to powder my nose in the ladies room (as you do)
and returned to find that under the (un)watchful eye of the husband, Fat Baby had managed to neck over half my supersized tin of Red Bull. Fantastic.  The result of which was a super charged speed chase over hill and dale a half hour later, trying to catch the revved up little bugger as he scampered deftly through festival goers legs and through various fields, cackling with delight as I lumbered after him, unable to catch the chubby little gingerbread man ("Redbull gives you wiiiiiiiings").

But catch him I eventually did.  Then set about trying to locate the rest of our clan who were (surprise surprise) found, predictably, right in front of possibly the worst value children's entertainment known to man...ever...the 'quid a go slide', the impoverished husband wearing a weary facade of boredom and defeat - the children ecstatic.  A bloody brilliant (or was it just the vodka redbull accompaniment?) production of "Cat In The Hat" followed, after which various bands were enjoyed, decent enough foodstuffs consumed, and much fun and frolicking was had by all.
Why pay a tenner for a 'official program' when a bespoke handwritten schedule will do?  :)
On Saturday a.m. things started with a bang as I managed to ditch my brood to go and see a brilliant poet (and comic) "Luke Wright" who I met many a moon ago at Glastonbury, pre-monsters, when I once found myself lost and at loose ends, stumbled upon a Poetry Tent where some hilarious fellow was waxing prolific about Victoria Beckham of all people, in a manner so witty and biting that it stopped me dead in my tracks and there I sat for a great quantity of time, so amused and entertained that I had no choice but to go up to him afterward and beg him to collaborate on a piece of music I was writing.  Which he did.  The result of which is here...

Luke Wright...wickedly witty
Anyway, this time round we met met up again, both of us a few years older, (ironically with a couple of little boys apiece), had a drink, got reacquainted, and so started Saturday at Latitude.  We later hooked up with some more mates, also loaded down with little people, decided to throw all eight of them in the mix, chuck them some pocket money and see if we might be allowed to lay idly by on picnic blankets listening to a fiendish looking Tim Booth of 'James' wallow about 'Sitting Down' or some such for a time.
Is it me or is Tim Booth lately morphing into a (long-skirted) fiend from Hell?...
Eventually they returned, Lord of the Flies-esque, having burned most of the cash on overpriced ice lollies and handfuls of £2.50 cans of orange Tango, which, it was discovered, when shaken furiously and having had a Mento deposited into them, could function as portable geyser.  Who knew?
Twenty-Four Hour Party (little) People...

I loved the weekend.  I loved Latitude.  Like a wise golden-haired little lass once said, "This one is too BIG....and this one is too SMALL...but THIS ONE is JUST RIGHT."

And so was Latitude.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

"These Streets Aren't Made For Walking..."

You know, despite wanting desperately to buy a house in our current area, there is something to be said for 'moving on'...getting a fresh start in a new neighbourhood and all that.  The husband and I suffer from 'The Seven Year Itch' as regards properties.  Seven years is about how long it takes to get completely bored of our current neighbourhood, piss off all our neighbours to the point of no return, and most importantly, sufficiently devalue whichever home we're in, to the point where where you could bring back the same estate agent who sold us the place in the first instance, and there is a 50% likelihood that they would have no recollection of it being the same property they sold us.  If they were being kind, at best they might call it 'tired looking.'

'Tired looking' is what you call someone pre-facelift.  We are 'tired looking'.  I know this you see, because the other day I caught a glance in the mirror when I wasn't looking (work with me here, I'm going somewhere), and for just a millisecond I saw myself as a stranger might see me...and felt sorry for me.  I looked so weary...and disillusioned.

Am I weary and disillusioned?  Perhaps.  But then, I have run the gauntlet of embarrassing encounters locally lately.  Take yesterday for instance.  I made the horrific mistake of taking all three boys grocery shopping after school.  One is a dreamer (Egg) and when charged with pushing the baby round the aisles, often gets distracted, wanders off and leaves him somewhere until the piercing screams start.  The other (Dumpie) takes after his Mama and is a shopper extrordinaire (shame I couldn't be brilliant at something less banal...but there you go), meaning that he will pick up goods, handle, manipulate and finally resort to threatening behaviour if what he desperately desires is not purchased.  So yesterday that meant calmly walking away from the huge basket I'd put him in charge of, and leaving it to be swept away by an employee - necessitating a total start over of the shopping process. The youngest is simply a shoplifter.  And yesterday he (and by he I mean we...or more specifically I) were finally reprehended.

As we were exiting the store, manifold bags threatening to topple the pushchair, we were deftly approached by the sweetly smiling Asian security guard at the sliding doors.

"'s okay this time...but your little boy has taken some sweets.  No problem, no problem, I no tell...but he goes quickly like this (and here he mimes a move I know all too well:  the famous Squitty 'snatch, grab and stuff behind the back' manoeuvre) and next time you watch ok?"

I died a small death.  Then proceeded to try and wrestle the brightly coloured box of tic tacs from the baby who was literally not going to hand them over without a fight - before chucking them onto the nearest counter and charging out...mortified.

Squitty giggled, popped a few tic tacs in his mouth and I hurled the children down the street muttering like a crazy person...again...and racked my brain for a threat they hadn't heard before. I came up empty.

And then there was that time last summer, when clad in a lightly (too lightly it turns out) fluttering skirt wearing 'tiny, barely there, arse-creepy-uppy' knickers (TMI I know...but relevant to this particular humiliation) I managed to walk nearly the entire length of our street with a young twenty-something smirking estate agent behind me - who finally, just as I was about to cross the street to our flat (why wait until then??) tapped me on the shoulder and said,

"By the way, I just thought you should know that I've been walking behind you, and you can see EVERYTHING (here he stopped suddenly, gave me 'that look' and mimed with his hands, an approximate gesture insinuating what I took to be private ladyshape bits), and I mean EVERYTHING."

I stared at him, wondering what on earth the correct response to this was.  I was tempted to call him out on being a pervert for not telling me sooner, but his face was bathed in pity not lust, and as he clocked the baby in the pushchair, and perhaps sensed the faint former and faded glory of someone who used to have a life and stay up all night dancing in clubs, he piped up with,

"Trust me, I didn't mind...truly.  But just thought you should know."

With that he was off, and I slunk into our flat, horrified at having had my backside exposed to a complete stranger AND OTHER RANDOMS for a good ten minutes as the naughty wind caught my skirt up again and again like a porno slide on repeat.  I then cursed myself for not having kept up with my squats as I imagined the un-thrilling sight of my bare arse.  I then went upstairs and disposed of the guilty lightweight skirt in the bin.

I wish I could say that the above is a complete rendering of all local humiliations, but not even close.  There is the time I tried to buy several hanging plants in a crowded grocery store with giant snaking queues fifty feet long, and Egg and Dumpie started wrestling and toppled them over and turned the area in front of Till #7 into a makeshift back garden.  I couldn't bring myself to go back and shop there for nearly a month.

Or take last week, when hurriedly racing to pick up the boys from school (late as always), shoe-less baby wailing indignantly because he refused to have his fat little toes crammed into his new little blue Mr. Bump shoes (which are admittedly a tad too small, but so damn adorable I refuse to give them up).  I tried to manoeuvre around a family of heavy set woman and her three daughters who were taking up the entire width of the pavement.  One of the girls looked up at me, saw me charging toward her like a bull, but instead of moving aside, just looked back down at her mobile and continued in her path,  resulting in a not-so-gentle but entirely inevitable collision with yours truly moments later.

I muttered crazy words under my breath (sense a recurring theme here?) but was pulled up short seconds later by the heavy set mother yelling back at me.

"What's your problem?!  Didn't you see her?!" she screamed back at me.

"But she saw me and didn't move!" (This lady had no idea that I was not in the mood to be yelled at by a complete stranger in the street - and certainly over something that was NOT...MY...FAULT)

"She's deaf you know!" the lady spat out.

To be fair, this stopped me in my tracks as we stood there, yards apart in a face off - like a modern day verbal shoot out.  I tried quickly to think whether there was any relation between deafness and inability to move out of someones path.  I could come up with nothing.

The lady took advantage of my perplexion to discharge one last poison arrow.

"You could have at least said sorry!" she snarled.

I turned my back and charged off in rage, feeling totally wrong done by, my frazzled, irritated brain battling the part of my brain which is permanently stuck in rude adolescent mode, which wanted to scream back,

"But I thought she was deaf??!!"

You'll be pleased to know I kept my mouth shut.
no comment...

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

"A Bump(y) Ride..."

The Spread...
So for an event which started out with our first guests arriving to the succulent sight of the husband bent over, frantically hoovering in his boxer shorts (sorry again about that S and D if you're reading this - for a moment you must have thought you'd mistakenly walked into some sort of kinky middle-aged Swingers Den or something), my sister's surprise co-ed baby shower on the weekend was a smashing success.

I'd like to say it was down to my melt-in-the-mouth 1000 calorie cupcakes, the OTT blue and pink mega balloons (again thanks S and D for all the what great lungs y'all have...and why anyone would ever dream of having a party without inviting the pair of you is beyond me), or our artfully arranged terrace as a venue (which despite being typically 'moody' summer-wise did NOT get drenched in rain)...but truthfully, was probably down to the lukewarm bottles of Prosecco and constant jugs of Pimm's being ferried out by a coerced guest (thanks C - once again you did not disappoint - despite threatening several times to simply stick a giant straw in the jug and not return).

Anyway, as is often the case, the husband refuses to accept the fact that I'm just not a 'Google Doc' kinda girl.  Simples.  HE uses this online document to keep track of his comings and goings (mostly goings), whilst I use the ever more humble, and supremely more relevant CHALKBOARD in the BLOODY KITCHEN!

So because we are arranging our diaries on two different platforms and have been for some time (and given that the husband does not spend a great deal of time in the ahem, kitchen, doing 'kitchen stuff'), it should come as no surprise to discover that I had arranged 'Auntie Mo's' surprise shower on the day the husband got back from an overnight 120 mile cycle to the Suffolk coast (sigh).  In fact, I couldn't have planned it better, as his exhausted sweaty arrival back was going to perfectly coincide with the arrival of our first guests at 3pm.

After much mulling over and stressing about the impossibility of it all: ie. hardcore childcare + major food prep + decorating+ cleaning etc., I calmly gave the husband two options (which is 'marriage speak' for I sat him down and ranted and raved for a good twenty minutes using every threat I could think of):

"Cycle those callipygian curves of yours through the night like your life depends on it.  Because it does.  If you do NOT get on that first bus back, don't bother coming back."

(The irony being of course that this was no incentive whatsoever, as the husband has been trying for many months (years?) to get me to divorce him so he can go off and be a monk in Tibet or some such.  There is no bloody way I'm going to let THAT happen though, as I am certainly not raising these three boys on my own.  And he knows that.  However, it doesn't stop the two of us from mentally competing sometimes to scare each other into thinking we're on the verge of doing a major life 'runner'. Keeps the old spark there anyway I suppose...)

Anyway, I digress.  The husband (though causing major adrenaline-fuelled surges of nausea and panic when I couldn't reach him on his mobile all day) DID in fact rock up an hour or so before the event (hence the pervy pants hoovering scenario our dear friends had the misfortune to walk into) and despite not having had a wink of sleep, was as decent a host as you could hope for. Well almost :)

So all's well that ends well, and now we're spending the next few days preparing for a potentially wet weekend in Beccles at LATITUDE FESTIVAL where I will make it my mission to watch 'First Aid Kit' perform "My Silver Lining" with Egg - who loves that song as much as I do and walks around the home singing the sort of right lyrics with tremendous gusto - and cart the fat baby around in his ickle wellies (hilarious), stuffing bags of crisps and lollies into his mouth to keep him entertained.

Fortunately, the good people at Latitude have issued me with a Press Pass so I shall be attempting to put that to good use by sneaking off into the enclosed area, using the free wifi, clean(er) toilets, and sipping the gratis drinks...pretending that there aren't three dirty screaming children and an irate husband on the other side of the curtain who belong to me.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

"Ready...Steady...Go Crazy!"

So picture this:  I'm late for an important school meeting this morning, creeping in with the Fat Baby in tow, whispering 'Excuse me!" to all the parents shuffling their legs to let us past, who are busy furtively scribbling away in their notepads, all the VITAL details needed to ensure their precious child gets into a decent Secondary School.

I have of course forgotten to bring a pen.  Or a notepad in fact. But worse, I've raced out of the house and forgotten to bring a snack or toy or any sort of distraction for Fat Baby - who judging by his increasingly powerful wriggling on my lap is about to burst forth any second.

"Me want croissant!" he yells.  I whisper that I'll get him one later.

"Me want milkshake!"  Again, I try and quietly placate him with not just promises of future flaky patisserie offerings, but milkshakes galore and sweeties the size of his head.

Then I have a thought.  Scrambling in bag ensues and I triumphantly pull out a giant roll of Haribo sweets.  This illicits gleeful clapping and whooping from Fat Baby who then proceeds to open them and pop several in his mouth, E-numbered artificial juices dripping down his grinning, dimpled chin...

The lady to my left glances over.  I ignore her.

The rest of the meeting continues on like you can well imagine.  An unmitigated disaster. However I notice that my mobile won't stop buzzing in my pocket and I finally read an urgent text from our estate agent saying that a woman absolutely must see our flat today.  Now in fact.  And can I ring her back asap?

I race out of the meeting, run home with the baby barely strapped in the pushchair, and attempt to tidy our home in twelve minutes flat. Bearing in mind our cleaner is due for her weekly (fairly pointless it must be said) 'damage control clean' this afternoon, our home is in its worst possible incarnation.  Seriously.  If the children had had a full on food fight, with the addition of apple juice and Actimel yoghurt drinks, it couldn't have been worse.  And come to think of it, something of the sort had actually happened last night during our weekly Chinese Stir Fry dinner and this morning during our typically chaotic breakfast time.

I chucked a bag of sweets at the baby, then figured I had exactly four minutes on each of the three levels before I had to scarper.  I pretended I was on telly and my family would die if I didn't complete my task (which actually, though dramatic, isn't far off in terms of how desperate our growing band of boys is making the necessity to move).

I was positively Marine Seal-esque in my zest.  I'd leap into a room, quickly assess in a matter of seconds what the worst offenders were (stain on carpet!....broken biscuit crumbs on sofa!...dirty fingered marked windows!....upended toybox!....whole tube of toothpaste smeared on bathmat!...the list went on) and then dive onto the floor and frantically wipe/scrub/scramble and shove as much stuff as I could in about four minutes flat.  (Whilst doing so, I started to lose it in panic, and imagined a racoon-eyed, mascara-smeared Claudia Winkleman cheering me on in front of a live stage audience...I swear)

When the doorbell finally rang in what felt like seconds, I raced downstairs with a huge, overflowing stinking bin liner in one hand, two pairs of muddy Dr. Marten's (from Glasto) in another, and a loudly protesting squirmy Fat Baby tucked somewhere in there as well.  It was no surprise to see the look of badly disguised pity on the face of both the estate agent and the Posh blonde coming to view the flat.

I was sweating profusely, looked manic in the eyes (I can always tell when I have that manic look on) and raced out the door, yelling back over my shoulder in what can only be described as pointlessly bizarre,

"We have a telly in the kitchen!  By the toaster!  It swings down! It's nice to watch when you're cooking!"

The estate agent poked her head back out of the kitchen quizzically, whilst the potential vendor smiled down and said, "That's nice dear" as I quickly backed out of the door and made my escape.


If this house selling fiasco doesn't end soon I'm going to end up somewhere like 'Shady Pines' doing macrame, a bottle of Dettol and wet wipes looped permanently onto the belt buckle of my name tagged bum bag, muttering like a crazy pink-lipsticked-designer-clothes-wearing freak.

And you know what?  In my current state of mind that doesn't sound like such a bad thing.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

"My Husband, The Poet"

Partners in Grime...
This morning I was privy to yet another shameful parenting moment..of our own design it has to be said.

The husband and I were sprawled in bed glued to our respective Apple devices (me to my iphone and he to his beloved laptop - which he subsequently managed to drop on the floor when answering the daily a.m. clarion call/scream from Fat Baby downstairs begging to be let out of his cot to join his brothers in the front room to watch some horrendous thing or another on Cartoon Network...(mental note to self: MUST check what monsters are watching on telly one of these mornings...)

Anyway, he was no sooner back in bed then we were debating the pros and cons of booking tickets to yet another festival this summer ("Latitude Festival" in Suffolk, near some water...) but this time WITH les trois monsters, in an effort to make up for our supreme selfishness/wisdom in 'Glasto-ing' it alone this year.

Our deliberations were interrupted by a blood-curdling yell from Egg, who though mostly unintelligible, was screaming something about a driver needing to see us?!  As is always the case, me being a girl and having way more necessary bits and pieces to assemble before being presentable (I've done the dash-downstairs-with-no-bra-on-to-greet-delivery-driver enough times to know it always ends in embarrassment - for both of us - let alone during breastfeeding years when I may as well have been caught inflagrante on a porn set for all that was concealed...but again I digress...)

The husband can jump out of bed, leap into a pair of his trusty cargo shorts (a pair of which he always, inexplicably, seems to have lying beside his bed no matter the season) and be out the bedroom door in seven seconds flat, I kid you not.  It's a serious talent and one I truly admire.

So that he did, and minutes later I stumbled downstairs to find our weekly Ocado shop scattered about the kitchen, and the husband muttering disgustedly under his breath.

"What was that?"

"It's a disgrace.  Egg let in the driver, then went back to watch cartoons and forgot about it, and apparently the driver wouldn't leave until he knew an adult was around.  Oh, and he needed someone to lock him out."

I smiled.  Not for any other reason than I found the scenario amusing (though to be fair, most of my life is viewed from a writer or director's point of view...once removed...and therefore usually at odds with the husband's 'in-your-face-this-can't-be-my-life' hellish viewpoint.  A difference which combined with my shall we say 'laid back approach to parenting,' often leads to occasional marital discord.)

This pissed the husband off.  He wasn't done yet.

"Oh, and do you realise that the driver had to step several times over that awful bag of Poo at the top of the stairs?"

He glared at me.  I glanced down at the offending bright orange Sainsbury's shopping bag, containing last night's putrid fecal emission from our youngest, which indeed had in fact apparently failed to walk itself out the door and into the outside bin last night as requested. Fancy that.

"I put it there because it was too stinky to stay in our house.  And you were supposed to drop it in the bin outside when you went to pick up Egg last night."  (I spoke to him calmly and slowly, like one might speak to someone with learning disabilities.)

"How was I supposed to know?!  You didn't tell me!"

"Yeah well, when you see a smelly parcel atop the stairs, and you hear me talking to you but blank me out because you're watching the game or because you simply blank out 80% of what I say anyway, surely you can put two and two together and just grab it on your way out as a matter of parental instinct, non?"

He glared again (he's good at that), then left to shuffle Dumpie out the door to school.

As he walked back upstairs he began muttering to himself again, not unlike 'Grumpy' from "The Seven Dwarves".

"A bag of Poo at the top of the stairs is NEVER an acceptable state of affairs...A bag of Poo at the top of the stairs is NEVER an acceptable state of affairs...A bag of Poo at the top of the stairs is NEVER an acceptable state of affairs!"  He was positively spitting out the words.

At this point Fat Baby ran up to him, thinking Daddy was singing a new nursery rhyme or some such, and began to hop up and down excitedly in what has recently morphed from his former trademark 'Happy Dance' into more of a 'Happy Hop'.

We ended up in a three person hug in the kitchen. ME because I was still seeing from the POV of a writer/director and was subsequently still amused...HE because I could tell he was secretly pleased with himself that his day job hadn't yet extinguished his innate ability to fashion witty on-the-spot rhyming couplets...and the Fat Baby because HE was in the centre of a game he didn't quite understand, and probably wouldn't for about another thirty odd years :)

Saturday, 5 July 2014

"Glasto Blasto"

Festival Look Day Three (remarkably clean non?)
So no doubt some of you are wondering what my first kiddie-free festival in ten years was like...

no kids.  i repeat NO KIDS
                                                BLOODY BRILLIANT...duh, of course :)
what brekkie looks like when left to our own devices 
Don't get me wrong, I adore les trois monsters more than life itself, and fine, I confess, I was totally jonesing for a squeeze from the wee midgets by the time Sunday night rolled round, BUT, during the actual festival, I found myself feeling constantly relieved that I wasn't having to cart three muck-coated and rain shrivelled little people around the vast muddy trenches.
I spent an inordinate amount of time during the weekend throwing shapes in front of this giant flame throwing spider...
For predictably, it being Glastonbury, it rained.  A lot.  On Friday it was of such Biblical proportions I found myself wondering if indeed the end of the world might be nigh - and stuck in a tiny dance tent (aptly named I think, "The Deep Sea"), thick with the fug of cigarette smoke and sweating bodies, I did have a moment of wondering whether I could not have chosen a slightly more, shall we say, epic location to see in the Apocalypse.
But fear not, once that 'Glasto Gusto' kicked in, (as it invariably does) it was all good and I just settled in and got into the serious business of some hardcore top notch Glasto gawking.  (Some call this turn of events 'that moment' where you simply relinquish pre-held standards of comfort and hygiene, and give yourself mentally and physically over to the filthy toilets, mud-drenched fields, and ill-mannered middle-class nouveau ravers who have fashioned themselves into ridiculously long human daisy chains, weaving their way sporadically and manically through fields, yelling roll calls of "Olivia?!  Tristan?!" almost toppling you in their excitement to get to.....another field)

taking a rain-soaked moment to dry out the leopard skin rain soaked denim :)
In the end, it was for me, all about the music.  This year, I had little to no inclination to sit in some strangers tent and listen to silly talk all night, nor stumble upon a troupe of fire gimps gathered round a campfire giggling manically, high on Welsh 'shrooms and wearing wizard hats without the slightest sense of irony.
Jack White...not your typcial heart throb, but seriously dug the manic champagne swilling
No, this year I just melted back into my twenties state of mind, adopted a perma-grin of wry amusement, and found myself sometimes positively chortling at the ludicrousness of it all.  One of my open air toilet visits during a burst of torrential rain comes to mind, when my beloved Dr. Martin's were ankle deep in either mud or shite - it was hard to tell - and I found myself clinging on for dear life to the metal door, wondering if indeed I was poised on the brink of my first full bodied 'Tuff Mudder' nosedive of the weekend - at potentially one of the most inappropriate moments conceivable .  (So instead, I had a stern word with myself, managing to quell my hysteria, and delicately extricated my iphone from one of my manifold zippered pockets and...took a selfie.  As you do.
picture I remain proudest of having captured
not sure what was more fun - dancing like an idiot here or watching others do so
So during what flew past in the blink of an eye, I had a wicked weekend, hung out with the husband like we were seventeen again (and not in charge of child rearing, house buying, or writing dodgy absence letters to get our kids out of school) and let out a silent prayer that if I ever get a chance to live this life again, maybe, just maybe I might end up on stage this time round and not on the punter side of things.
Mr. Plant you had me at hello but lost me at the first jangle of world music/hoedown bollocks
And who knows...maybe I'll pull a Dolly and end up on the Pyramid Stage someday after all - all white-haired and sequinned up, sporting my trademark leather biker, feathered earrings, and the same mucky-poo-stained Dr. Martin's...chugging Champers from the bottle a la Jack White...
easily the most wrecked casualty of the w/end...found taking his blow up pet fish 'Vera' for a walk, bathrobe askew, Sunday a.m.

Sunday morning the sun decides to show itself - figures

the husband Stone Circle Sunning

is it a favela?  no it's Glasto you idiot

Five minutes of Metallica was all we could take...sorry guys but you were massively stressing us out