Sunday, 9 July 2017

"Poo-Poo to To-Do"


With London summertime positively sizzling and whizzing by at breakneck speed, it seems as good a time as any for a summing up:

A creative summation requires little more than a glance at any one of my ever-expanding 'To Do Lists' scattered randomly about (iphone, laptop, notepads, family calendar, online Google shared calendar (which to my husbands chagrin may as well not exist), uber-cool Japanese diary (luxury gift from the husband), or my current favourite, - barely legible 'mental patient' scrawls on the back of an Apple instruction booklet which accompanied my latest prized acquisition - 'Beat' wireless headphones (the insertion of which not only facilitate the immediate tuning out of unwanted whining, whingeing and all manner of domestic ear pollution, BUT helpfully also double as fetching 24/7 neck candy).

Confession time: undoubtedly the most shaming item on my list is a reminder to collect on a travel insurance claim from seven years ago (yes, I know, but please don't judge, as I blame entirely the Virgin operator who back in 2010, glibly informed me that since the case was now logged I had 'no time limit' in which to claim...something i obviously took literally).

Almost as bad is the reminder to claim for Squit's lost pushchair, which Air Canada managed to lose en route to Canada three years ago (something i attempted to rectify in an almost autistic manner for numerous weeks with countless repetitively futile conversations with disinterested staff sweltering in Mumbai call centres). All efforts culminated in a potential Netflix pitch which saw me increasingly uneasy as I was given a personal tour through an abandoned airline warehouse by a creepy contender who definitely would have made the final cut in a 'Who most resembles a serial killer' pageant (should such a thing exist). The only thing which stopping me from permanently erasing this chore is the fact that were I to actually get the financial compensation we deserve, I could so justify the glorious new trainers I've been lusting after for a few months now...so you see.

Most current I suppose is the reminder to pay our local vet £288 for our cat's triple-whammy of an op this past week (micro-chipping, castration and surprise hernia). Bloody heck. The vet informed me that Ghengis is one of the naughtiest kittens she has ever come across given how the vast amount of administered anethesia appeared to have little effect as minutes after she had sewn up the last stitch he determinedly embarked upon the immediate removal of said stitches decorating his entire underside. For his sins, he has to wear one of those ridiculous cones around his little head for the next two weeks, but if anything it makes him slightly more endearing, and foolish looking enough to garner sky high ratings on comedic value alone.

Of course it didn't help that the day after his op I went to pieces when Ghengis went AWOL for several hours after we had sacrificially deprived ourselves of any relieving breezes throughout this most unusual killer London heatwave, only to discover that he'd somehow pulled a Houdini and escaped where no escape was possible???

All I kept replaying was the vet sternly admonishing me about the need to keep him indoors at all costs, given that any sort of athletic trailblazing over neighbours fences would likely mean certain death due to the likely rupturing of his unfortunate genetically thin-as-tissue-paper stomach muscles.

Squit was somewhat distraught and between bouts of playing with his beloved toy cars would look for him periodically.  Dumpie was disgusted, labelling me a 'cat killer' claiming it was all my fault if he was dead (though strangely felt no inclination to leave his online gaming to actually ascertain that his pet had definitely passed into the next dimension). True to form, Egg teared up ever so briefly upon hearing the news later that evening after a gruelling cricket match, but after a single half-hearted garden shout-out, retired upstairs to his bedroom for the remainder of the night in order to brush up on his cubing skills in advance of his upcoming Cube Championship.

The husband, shattered from a hard day at work, returned to find his kids shouting 'Ghengis is gone and probably dead!', his wife manically folding shirts on the bedroom floor feeling like a total and utter loser, merely shook his head (probably adding up the pointless financial costs of such a short pet undertaking), simply muttered something demoralising under his breath about this being yet further proof of our family's inability to lead a 'normal life'.

It was much to everyones surprise later that evening when the doorbell suddenly rang and we found our neighbour clutching our pathetic looking cone-headed kitty, incredulous that he had managed to fit through such tiny trellis holes with his new head gear. As with most things in life, the thrill was relatively short-lived and as we breathed a sigh of collective relief we simultaneously went back to focusing on the biggest cat issue at hand: OUR HOME REEKS OF CAT SHIT.

It would appear that despite the cat eradicating the scurrying vermin problem (they are thankfully now out of sight but annoying appear to have set up shop inside the wall cavity of our master bedroom), the price we pay for the cessation of my phobia is the permanent disgusting stench of our home. No amount of posh aromatherapy candles, room sprays or creative placement of the litter box has managed to slightly dent the ever present smell of poo.

As for me, a life long cat despiser, though still trying to warm to said cat, I've inadvertently stumbled upon a most surprising delight. Every morning I'm blessed with a wake up ritual not unlike a poor man's head massage. The kitty leaps onto my pillow, tangles himself up in my not unsubstantial mane, and in the process of detangling himself, inadvertantly administers a most pleasing sort of head massage not unlike the ones I happily fork out for in Goa. So there you have it...a silver lining. The buzz saw purring is a small price to pay for pleasure, and it's only cut short when the cat is lobbed one handedly off the bed by an irate husband who has woken to rightly ascertain the too close proximity of someone else's butt-hole to his face. Fair enough.

To end on a positive note, I need merely to refer to the jubilantly scratched out 'MUST FIND NEW CLEANER!!!!' to recalibrate my current self-worth. After the best cleaner in the universe quit suddenly a month ago (upon which i immediately rang my sister who also uses her to ascertain that she had also been ditched), I had a regrettable two week trial with a woman my age who clearly felt cleaning beneath her (Don't we all lady?! Don't we all?! Me with my university degree, dreams, as of yet unrealised potential, reduced to spending a huge percentage of every day sniffing male underpants to ascertain whether they're dirty or about to be needlessly laundered again, on my knees at the toilets trying vainly to eradicate semi-permanent pee stains from boys too lazy to lift lids?) and was worryingly way more interested in rifling through my charity bag of fashion cast-offs than hoovering. Things culminated in a rather ridiculous late night texting war which neither of us won, and was only proof that we are clearly both not in a terribly good place at present.

So 'hello again' to whomever you are, whatever you're doing right now, and might I strongly suggest that if life is currently beating you down, try and avail yourself of some wireless headphones as a coping mechanism. I may appear to be just another world-weary female statistic in her middle years, but ear pods inserted, tunes blazing into my weary skull, I'm a force to be reckoned with...and these days, that's good enough for me.














Friday, 19 May 2017

"Kissy-Kat, Kissy-Kat, Where Have You Been?"

Two things of note happened this past week: I face planted onto wet pavement in my slippery Converse during the school run, emerging bloody, rips in my new Current Elliott jeans and humiliated beyond belief. Secondly, we acquired a pet.
We are now proud cat owners of a 12 week old Tabby(?) whose name we have typically spent the past week vehemently arguing about ('Kismet' vs 'Genghis'). To some, this news would be no big deal, but as a self-confessed 'dog person' and up until now, life-long 'cat despiser' (sorry, but to me, cats have always been a bit like Zara - nice but no Prada.) They can't be taught tricks, aren't any impediment whatsoever to a potential burglar, and are merely fur-shedding, stand-offish creatures who slink around arrogantly, giving back very little value in the way of affection. Or so I thought...

Meet "Kissy-Kat", a feline with a penchant for french-kissing (should one accidentally leave ones mouth ajar during the thrice daily minimum make-out session he requires. "Kissy Kat" loves nothing more than climbing up onto your chest, a bit of brief foreplay nuzzling around the chin area, then straight into a marathon session of langorous licking: eyelids, nose, lips, then back again, ad infinitum, until your face is as clean as a whistle and there remains not even a hint of your former eye makeup. This can literally can go on for hours, or until the smell of cat food breath and stray cat hairs make you want to choke...but much like a hot guy with bad B.O., he's cute so you let him get away with it.
I blame one of our oldest and best friends, 'That in the Hat'. Not unlike "The Cat In The Hat" he's prone to turning up randomly, unexpectedly, turning your world upside down for a few days (in the most delightful way of course), and then suddenly disappearing when there is no more havoc to be wreaked. Until the next time of course. Ergo a Friday night of much good natured lively chat, excessive wine consumption, and a mere few hours sleep before an 7:30 am wake-up to watch Egg play in an important school cricket match a fair distance away.

This would all have been fine except for the fact that upon waking I had shot back a triple shot cappuccino like it was nothing, resulting in severe insomnia and subsequent sleep envy once the husband had crawled back into bed after having fortuitously ascertained that Egg could catch an early ride with some other poor soul.

Queue a lovely Saturday morning snuggle in bed with the middle son, absentmindedly googling Rescue Home cats and dogs, resulting in this picture randomly popping up on screen:
Dumpie and I look at each other. We are so alike.

"I think I just found our cat," I said with wonderment.

"Yeah, he's the one. Let's buy it."

"Should we ask Dada?"

(We glance in the direction of the snoring hunk of man meat to our left. No response, even after a firm elbowing to the ribs.)

"I don't want to pay that much money though. What if I offer her less and if she takes it we just go for it."

"Yeah, do it," Dumps agreed.

So I did. The random stranger accepted my offer, we agreed to collect the 12 week old kitty later that day, then immediately began rousing the husband to share the good news, shoving the 'kitty porn' screen grab into his sleeping face, eventually extracting a vaguely positive-in-nature grunt which we decisively concurred to be a firm 'yes'.

Skipping over mundane details, having eventually garnered a resigned "Whatever" from the husband once fully awake, a few hours later found us all rattling through London in our aged camper van, hungover friend in back with our sqaubbling offspring, headed off to watch our son play cricket - and buy a kitty.

Stumbling across the cricket grounds, looking none too impressive (ie. feeling 'last scene in Breakfast Club' but coming off like pilot episode of 'Shameless') I was struck with a sudden burst of paranoia. I mean, if we were going to acquire a family pet for the next fifteen odd years, surely a random google search resulting in the impulsive online purchase of a brokered discount kitty from some woman with questionable communication skills, after a night of excess and barely any sleep, was not ideal?

Frantically I googled, coming upon an even younger, maybe cuter(??) tiny ball of black fluff, only 8 weeks old, available immediately and fortuitously just around the corner from Egg's school.
"What do you think of this one?" I asked the husband, shoving my phone in his face.

"What? I thought you said the other one was 'the one'? He glared at me.

"I know, but this one is even younger and I think I like the shape of the face more and is it cuter? Is it? I can't tell. Also I think it would suit our house more...you know? What do you think?"

Around this point the husband walked off, clearly disgusted, throwing a pissed off scowl my way, turning his attention once more to the game.  I studied the contrasting pics on my phone for some minutes before realising that there was only one thing for it: I had to 'phone a friend.' In this case that meant sending said pics to a rather random group of family and friends to illicit their opinion. The feedback was mixed. I decided that we simply had to see both kittens and hoped that we would 'just know.'

An hour or so later found the lot of us charging into a strangers' tiny kitchen, surveying a sorry lot of feline specimens.

"Which one you here for then?" the woman asked.

"Umm...the black one?" I offered.

Immediately, a tiny dark fur ball shot past my legs and hid behind a tired old washing machine. No amount of cajoling would force it out, and after several minutes of awkwardness, the rain beating down relentlessly outside, I started to feel like we should just get the heck out of there, go home to bed and re-think the whole thing. However just then the angry little fur ball was captured trying to escape upstairs by a sullen towel clad teenage girl who stoned-faced, held it out to me. Clawing my All Saints jumper, staring angrily out of slitty yellow-tinged eyes, I quickly shoved it at the husband.

"Here, you hold it. You love cats" I mumbled, wanting now definitely to leave and wondering how I could do it without looking like a fickle freak (I had sounded so sure on the phone in order to get her to agree to an immediate visit).

Somehow I managed to get us out of there by spouting some nonsense about a family chat being needed at a nearby imaginary pub before most likely coming back to acquire the evil kitty for a sum. She bought it, the kids bought it, and even the husband seemed to.

"Urgh...no way," I declared as we buckled ourselves back up in the van. The family surveyed me with confusion. Apparently they had not deemed this creature as horrid as I had, and were as a group, terribly annoyed. Whatever.

At this point our sleep-deprived and hungover houseguest began to seriously lose it in the back seat. We proceeded to lurch and halt our way through vile London weekend traffic across town for the next forty-five minutes or so, until he categorically demanded to be let out at the next pub and be collected later. We obliged, eventually making our way to the home of a young single mum with a tiny daughter living in a small council flat near the river. Once again we trundled inside en masse, but this time instead of encountering a demon fur ball I looked down to discover a creature not unlike 'Gizmo' from 'The Gremlins'.
Several cuddles later, after much stroking, and that face, that adorable little face, I instructed the husband to hand over the money in his wallet and we swiftly departed clutching our newest family member and a shopping bag full of cat accessories. I was pleased...very pleased. Mission accomplished. Why on earth did I ever doubt my initial instincts? I felt smug, not unlike the time I marched into a designer sample sale emerging shortly thereafter with the prize steal of the century.
So there you have it. We have a cat. We are proper, official cat owners. Puzzlingly, five days in, the monsters seem rather nonplussed with the new arrival. They are treating it like a Christmas toy: momentarily ecstatic, a quick play, slightly less enthusiastic the next play in, then gently pushing it to one side whilst picking back up their respective devices and losing all interest.

The husband has taken to our new little friend with the same delight as the arrival of our third son. He graciously concedes that it was a fortuitous move on my part, has swiftly grown rather fond of the delightful little mogwai, and is utterly charmed by the fact that the kitten has chosen as his new comfort place/sleep zone, his ramshackle bicycle collection in the corner of the basement.
As for me, I feel like I just ticked that parental 'expose children to pet' box, and as a bonus, appear to have been gifted with an affectionate feline that loves cuddles and kisses. Perfect. Love without the hardcore responsibility of a dog. But most of all I love that face, that adorable little face. Who knew hey?




(Dislaimer: Truth be told, I got the bloody cat simply to put an end to the periodic mouse problem we appear to have in this old house of ours. Since his arrival there has been no sign of them, and the resulting peace of mind has been so worth it. Given that I hate bad smells, need more responsibility like a hole in the head, and can't bear cat hair getting onto my furniture or beloved clothes - PLUS have a sister whom we adore who happens to be wildly allergic to cats - is proof of how desperate I was for some vermin-related piece of mind. Now, I just have to continue to sell myself on the idea, and as the husband knows, being criminally cute helps...it helps a lot.)

Sunday, 16 April 2017

"Goan Deep Down"


Today I reached the zenith of escape from my usual existence as a harried, often bored, Mama-of-three, hamster-wheeling through life in a Groundhog Day-esque vision of middle-class mediocrity back in Ol' London Town.

Watching Egg and Dumps climb a waterfall in the middle of the jungle, then sitting sweat-soaked, huddled in a mere three inches of rock pool (on account of the freakishly large fish which were feasting upon our extremities with great gulping miniature jaws should one dare to venture any further out), I realised that at last I had achieved the much longed for separation from my life as I know it. 




















This waterfall visit had been preceded by a glorious two hour drive on the back of le husband's beloved purple Enfield to a magnificent Spice Farm where we proceeded to tuck piggishly into delicious 'Thali's' and then rid ourselves of an obscene amount of money (okay fine that was all me) by buying up countless packages of spices that realistically have a one in five chance of ending up forlorn on a shelf somewhere a year from now.  

With the wind in my hair and the winding tree-lined vistas that we roared through showing off with all manner of views and glorious fauna, we were utterly transported. Oh how we needed that...

"It's good for the kids to see us in this context," the husband roared over the engine as we overtook the sulking children in the air-con taxi, staring out resentfully at us as we roared past.

"Yeah, totally," I yelled back, bouncing my head in time to the music from the bluetooth headphone I'd snuck in one ear.

After countless years of returning like homing pigeons to this sacred bit of beach in this special part of the world, I love watching our city slicker boys go local. After about a week they stop complaining about every little thing "There's a bug in my milkshake"..."I got another mosquito bite"..."How come Netflix won't download"...and start tearing around with other kids on the beach, hitting up strangers for money to buy sweets, wearing the same shorts for four days in a row (even though stiff with dirt and beginning to spawn their own eco systems), and attempting to learn tightrope walking on the hastily erected ropes outside our glorified shack on the beach.
I love how the all encompassing heat makes allies out of the husband and I, who are way too hot and tired to do more than raise a lazy eye if we see the other doing something we're not completely on board with. We are slower, gentler versions of ourselves here, and though the decompression process is not without its challenges (submitting to the inevitable squalor of perpetually sandy beds, mattresses no wider than a slice of Hovis, and random bugs which fall periodically from our slanted, desperately-in-need-of a-mend roof via the click-clacking fan...) once we've cracked it, we've cracked it, do you know what I mean? Simply put, night after night, toes buried comfortingly in the sand as we dine under the stars, we feel like the luckiest people in the world...
Our boys (who are never happier than when all crammed cozily in our bed) love the proximity of this place and the fact that we are living on top of each other. It makes them feel happy and secure (the husband and I less so, nightly fighting claustrophobia as we laughingly attempt sleep, glued together like gummi bears, in what amounts to a double bed).
Still, I remind myself that these days are precious. Egg, who I so clearly remember toddling about with "Wanna cuppa tea?" and nightly indulging in post-bath nudist dancing to Goldfrapps 'Number 1', is almost a teenager and the other two can already kick our respective arses in the card memory game (any memory-related exercise to be honest), and I'm patently aware how numbered these days are have recently resolved to start appreciating this period of my life more than I have been doing so of late.


Saying that, if one more little bugger pulls out the charging cable from my iphone, it's going to be cheeky backhands all round.