Monthly Archives: November 2011

Seagulls, Starbucks and Sprite Bottles

Christ. Sorry. Sorrysorrysorry. I’ve been a bit rubbish at updating this week. Sorry. Don’t shout. We’ve been away to London. Notice how I say ‘been away’ rather than ‘on holiday’. That’s because we ALL went away. Me. My husband. THE KIDS.

It has been ages since we last went away and that’s largely down to three things:

  1. Money
  2. We’re shit-scared of taking our kids anywhere unfamiliar in case they don’t have chips or telly
  3. The last holiday we went on all got a bit stressful when my husband kind of punched a seagull. I say ‘kind of’ – he totally punched a seagull. In front of a bunch of kids. Who then started shrieking. It was a little awkward and probably not typical behaviour of visitors to the Tate St Ives but please nobody call the RSPB – in our defence we were just trying to enjoy an afternoon snack in the rooftop café when this seagull swooped in for my husband’s scone. He says he panicked, thought the bird was going for one of our kids and so punched it. I say BULLSHIT – my husband just really, really likes scones. Anyway, there were gasps from the onlookers, screams from the kids and an iffy noise coming from the seagull, who was now giving us evils from on-high and more than likely sending out some kind of silent gull-call to his mates to come and have us. I grabbed the kids, my husband grabbed his scone and we vowed never to attempt anything so civilised ever again. For the remainder of that week, whenever we fancied leaving the safety of our holiday flat, we just went and sat in the car with a Calippo instead.

actually, maybe more people should punch seagulls. I mean, look at this cheeky bastard I found on Google

So anyway, this weekend there was none of that. No birds got smacked. Nobody cuffed a sparrow. My husband didn’t punch a pigeon. In the bird world, all was calm.

In the car on the way to London however, it was a different story. We should have realised fate was laughing at us when the DVD player broke 20 minutes into the journey. And then I managed to tip milk over the only pair of jeans I had with me. Oh, and then my daughter threw a shoe out of the window on the motorway. She threw her bloody shoe out of the window. Brilliant.

The following morning and a snidey pair of cheap, plastic Croc(alike)s later we started the holiday. To summarise: our son crapped his pants when he saw the giant animatronic dinosaur at the Natural History Museum; the only thing our daughter would eat was miniature packets of Philadelphia that we robbed from the breakfast buffet; my husband and I got a bit over-excited at the very fact there was a Pret A Manger and a Starbucks on the same street (London hey? City of DREAMS. Ask for a decaf latte or a superfood salad in the sticks and they slap you) and, oh yeah, my kid pissed into a Sprite bottle in an underground car park.

You know, it’s a longish story and I won’t make you re-live it but let’s just say what the Holiday Inn car park lacks in toilets, it makes up for in CCTV cameras. Whereas at home I’d discreetly direct my son to the nearest bush, in this case there was nowhere to piddle in private except for in the car itself. Hence the Sprite bottle. And you know what, I would have been so smug about my sheer resourcefulness if only things gone a bit awry. A boy’s bits and a bottleneck do not a happy combination make*. Ever seen a pee misfire and spray upwards? No? Well there’s a CCTV camera operator somewhere in South Kensington who has.

* if ever a phrase is going to alert the social services, it’s that one

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Things That Make Me Go Squirm

I don’t know what it is, but since having kids, there has been a distinct shift in things I find acceptable and things that just make me cringe with uneasiness. Totally random and often completely unexpected, there are certain words, people or situations that I encounter as part of the mental world of motherhood just really go through me. Like, you know that feeling you get when they do the group performance on X Factor? Or when James Martin attempts to read from an autocue on Saturday Kitchen? Or how I imagine the phrase ‘bifidus culture’ makes Jamie Theakston feel on the Activia advert* (watch his face next time it’s on. He’s troubled by those words. There’s something amiss and he knows it). Some stuff just makes me feel uncomfortable…:

• When people say ‘fractious’. Victorian costume dramas aside, this is not a word I’d ever heard in regular use until I had a baby, then all of a sudden BOOM, a baby yells and they’re ‘fractious’. There is just something about the understatement of this fluffy euphemism that really puts me on edge. If I was God, after giving myself a washboard stomach and restoring my pelvic floor muscles to a state where I didn’t wet my trackie bottoms when on the trampoline with the kids, I’d quite like to implant some kind of auto-correct in the minds of mums so that when they go to say ‘fractious’ what actually comes out is ‘pissy and loud’ because, let’s face it, that’s what we all mean.

• The tits-and-teeth woman who runs my kids’ singalong group. I find her enthusiasm disconcerting. Her permanent smile freaks me out. How can anyone be that happy? She very much reminds me of this local newsreader we have who, no matter what she’s reporting on, does it with a grin. I’m not kidding, she tells you about a train crash, she’s beaming. House fire? Practically chuckling. Sometimes I think it’s all she can do to stop herself winking and chucking in a bit of jazz hands aswell. So yeah – newsreader and the woman from Jolly Jingles? Not. Right.

...and then they all died!

• The very concept of parents joining in with the singing at said groups. Give me a babysitter, a bottle of pink wine and a couple of hours to drink myself out of my tone-deafness and I’ll give you the best rendition of Copacabana anyone’s ever heard this side of Vegas. Take away the booze and plonk me in a starkly lit church hall with 30 women I’ve never met and a song about sizzling sausages crackling out from the 80s-style tape player and I struggle

• Parents telling a story about something their kid has said and adopting a cutesy (read: FREAKY) baby voice. For example:

SMUG MUM: You know, Jack was asking if ‘Fwed can come and pway’

ME: Sorry?

SM: Fwed. Does he want to come and pway? Wiv wickle Jack?

ME: (pause) Are you alright?

When I overhear Mums at the library reading their kids stories. It’s no great revelation to anyone that motherhood is rife with rivalry and nowhere is this more obvious than when you get two women embroiled in an unspoken competition for best storyteller. Seriously, step foot into the kids’ section at any library and it’s like Overactors’ Anonymous. These women get in the zone. They do voices, they do accents, they sing, they improvise. Shit, I’m sure I saw one mother cart in a box of costumes and a spotlight. Imagine Jackanory on speed – that is what it’s like and, quite frankly, it unsettles me

• ‘Playdates’. AAAARGH. Never has a word been so misleading. For one, my kids don’t play, they fight. Two, Date? If my experiences are anything to go by, this word suggests a) men and b) enough alcohol to render any sense of adult responsibility useless. Neither of these things have ever cropped up in any playdate I’ve been on. In short, playdates are liars.

*I’m a little obsessed with the Activia advert. There are times when I want to reach into the telly and rescue Jamie Theakston from a life of plugging pouring yoghurt and bumming rides off milkmen. Come on Jamie, you did Top Of The Pops. You did Live and Kicking. Yes, you also did The Priory, that didn’t rate terribly well but still, what are you doing? You don’t need the Danone dollar. You’re better than this, Theakston

crying inside

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I’ll Be Back…

So, last night I ended up watching Kirstie’s Handmade Britain. A show all about “queen of the homemade home and all things made”, Kirstie Allsopp and her craft-driven travels throughout the UK.

‘Nice’, I thought, before it started, ‘I’m down with this’. I like a bit of crafting. I made stuff with FIMO in my youth, I knitted my son a bobble hat last Christmas. Yes, the pompom on the top moults, and the way the headband leaves red indentations on his forehead probably wasn’t intended by whoever came up with the pattern and ok, maybe I did sob when I dropped yet another stitch and my husband suggested we ‘just buy one from Primark’ but you know, it’s still a craft. I’m crafty. I can totally watch this show.

Five minutes in and it soon became clear this this seemingly unoffensive little programme had been made with the sole intention of shitting me right up. Take a look in the Radio Times – that’s the very description they use. It was like Kirstie had bundled me into some kind of crazy time machine and fast-forwarded me into the future to give me a little glimpse of what life would become if I wasn’t careful. Kirstie was my ghost of Christmas future and what she was showing me was a world of 3D decoupage butterflies, women’s institutes and county shows. “Needle-felting is an absolute joy!’ Kirstie proclaimed. What? WHAT? This right here is a pitcure of a needle-felted Yorkshire Terrier from a previous show. Does this say ‘absolute joy’ to you? Because to me it screams ‘taxidermist on acid – RUN FOR YOUR LIFE.

not right

Seriously, is this what happens? Is this what I have to look forward to? Because I was sort of hoping that the hum-drum of now – the penny-pinching, the shit-shovelling, the general daily grind – was some kind of advance payment for a badass time in later life. Like, I know I might spend my evenings at the moment making bunting for my kids’ room (nobody say anything, I’m a bit fixated with bunting) but surely with old age comes the freedom to do stuff a whole lot more interesting that that? I don’t want to be spending my days making mosaic mirrors, beaded bookmarks and bitchy comments about some other woman in the WI who can’t get her knitting tension right. When I get older I want to be bombing around in a campervan, drinking dirty martinis before midday, doing a Man Vs Food-style eat-a-thon across the world’s greatest restaurants. Forget all the nicey-nicey stuff, where’s the fun in that? Life may be excitement free at the moment but that doesnt mean things can’t perk up once I’m older and the whole stay at home mum duties are out of the way does it? When you talk to your parents and grandparents they often speak of how infuriating it is to have a body that matches their years but a head that still thinks it’s 21 and as I grow older, I can totally get with that feeling too. In my mind, I’m like some kind Freaky Friday teenager trapped in the life of a grown-up and, kids or no kids, adult responsibilities or no adult responsibilities, I can’t ever imagine feeling ‘old’.

So Kirstie, while I can’t knock your dedication to crafting, I can’t help but feel you’re over-egging what is essentially a hackneyed, somewhat gloomy way of older life. Forget the WI, stick your county fair crochet contest, sell your Mary Poppins ideals to someone else. For me, the proper fun stuff in life isn’t over yet, it’s just on hold til I get the chance to go at it again

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What Do You Mean I Need To Get Out More?

So whoop whoop, big-wow, I’m bored. DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT, you shout. Let me tell you, I spend 90% of my waking day (and with my sleep-immune children, that actually encompasses much of the night too) thinking about what to do. How to escape, even just for a few minutes. The problem is, I live in Stepford – there’s not a whole lot to do around here when tedium strikes, hence me finding myself in more and more obscure situations. These are just a handful of the things I have done as a bored mother that I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have done pre-kids:

* Started knitting classes with a local woman called Ros. She had 8 cats, one of whom had sinus issues and snorted his way through every session. Not only did Ros tell me all about knitting and purling, she was also fantastically indiscreet when it came to dishing the dirt on Bob, a local tranny who commissioned her to knit his fluffy crop-tops under the pretence they were for his, somewhat masculinely-built, girlfriend.

* Signed up for a foraging weekend – one of my maddest experience of living in the sticks yet: a little light racism, double entendre that I only got the giggles at (bulbous sac? fat stalk? c’mon!) and a woman called Mo with an unnerving obsession with the deadly mushrooms. Oh, and this:

tee hee

* Developed a manic obsession with becoming a butcher. To the point where I enrolled on a course, carved up half a pig with a hacksaw and took the trotters home to my husband, waving them around like I was the deranged lovechild of Hugh Fearnley Whittignstall and Hannibal Lecter. “Look!”, I shouted, “they’re his feet! I cut the pig’s feet off!”. My husband took a few days off work  to ‘give me a bit of a break’ not long after that

* Asked an embittered, over-sharing gas man to ‘tell me more’ about his ex wife. Said gas man was then so pleased to have someone listen to the story of his tattered love-life, he returned the favour by telling me I was doing a ‘great job’ with the kids. I then cried. Crying. In front of a stranger. Hooray!

* Worked my way through the local college’s Adult Learning prospectus. Soft Furnishings. Breadmaking. Christmas Cake Decoration. You name it, I’ve either done it or at least put my name down on a waiting list for it. My husband threw the brochure away when I started making noises about cross-stitch. “Who are you, Kirstie Allsopp?” he asked. I of course took this to mean he thought I had a big arse, and we had a row. Hormones! Wahey!

* Bought more knitted food off ebay than any one person should ever have, let alone need

* Did this at Tesco. I totally don’t regret this one because it’s VERY funny:

ho ho

*Decided to become a face-painter. After putting the fact I have very little patience for my own children, let alone other people’s, aside and spending a small fortune on special face paints that don’t make kids’ faces swell up, this is what I came up with. Look at him! See how miserable he is!:

can we not just watch telly for a bit instead?

It wasn’t so much my children’s distinct lack of interest in my new-found career that knocked the idea on the head, it was more the issue of my son getting hold of and eating a full pot of body glitter that made me realise this wasn’t meant to be. You can’t polish a turd? No, but let me tell you from experience, eat a job lot of silver glitter, give it a couple of hours and it would seem you can certainly make one sparkle.

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Bored Much?

The other week, I was with my husband’s family when one of my in-laws turned to me at the dinner table and said ‘so, still loving mothermood?’. Note, there was not an inch of sarcasm to her tone. She was deadly serious. She wanted an answer. My initial response was two-fold: 1) puzzlement – when had I ever given anyone the idea that I was loving motherhood? had I got drunk and said it? and 2) – holy shit, no. I do it. I do my best at it. I totally, honestly love my kids but do as to loving the actual job of being a full-time mum? Not so much. Of course, I didn’t say any of this. But neither could I lie. So instead, I did what any grown-up woman would do and faked my own death. It was easier than confessing to all of the above and I figured it would cause less of a commotion at the dinner table.

Fake death gags aside, am I the only one who doesn’t find it the best job in the world? Am I missing out on something? I mean the pay sucks. The hours are relentless. The holidays non-existent and only this morning my ’employers’ decided to grab my attention by doing a poo in the shower, before going on to crap all over the carpet while I cleared the first mess up. And just in case that lacked impact, my son then gagged so violently over the smell, he vomited over himself. I don’t remember my last boss doing that. Although of course there was that incident at the Christmas party…December 2007, what a night that was….

mummy wants a cocktail

So anyway, no, as hard as I try to run with the whole stay at home mum thing, I just can’t convince myself that it’s the career for me. I know that for some women it is and while I often struggle to click with them and the stuff they talk about, I’m not dissing the gratification they get from bringing up their kids. In fact I’m pretty freaking jealous. As someone who doesn’t deal too well with the same-old, I wish I could take more pleasure in the day to day stuff. But I can’t. The fact is, I find it boring. There, I’ve said it. I’m bored. No fake death today. I am bored. Singing The Wheels On The Bus 47 times a day? Boring. Sitting at a soft play session while another mum takes 40 minutes to tell me about the time her son trapped his finger? Boring. CBeebies? A Godsend but honestly? When I do finally have my Falling Down moment and smash the shit out of the telly, it’ll be the relentless sound of Upsy Daisy screeching down that bloody trumpet of hers that will push me over the edge. How do I feel today, how do I FEEL TODAY? Sweet Jesus Tweenies, don’t get me started.

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Imagine If Mr Maker Couldn’t Be Arsed Any More. This Is The Kind Of Thing He’d Make


“Man alive, what IS that?” I hear you cry

“It’s a broomstick” I say


“A broomstick”

“Ummm..ok. Just ’cause, it kind of looks like a plant parcel-taped to a stick”

“Actually, it’s a pole from the stairgate and the ends off a bunch of spring onions”


“My son wanted a witch’s broomstick and the shops were shut. Do you not think it’s rather resourceful of me?”

“If by resourceful you mean a bit shit. Yes. Yes it is. Very resourceful”

“That’s a bit rude”

“Don’t shout at me. I’m not even real. You’re the one who started this imaginary conversation”

“Did I?”


“Sorry. I suppose that’s what happens when you’re starved of adult company and you’re averaging five hours of sleep a night”

“Do you think you should maybe stop this now and go to bed?”

“Ok. Bye then”


I'll probably not show this to any of my friends if that's alright?

Kids Say The Dodgiest Things…

Picture the scene. Your three year old son has spent the day obsessing over Play Doh. Everything he’s ever seen in his life, today he has recreated in Play Doh form. Whilst his interpretation of the dog turd he saw on the street the other day was certainly a contender for his favourite Play Doh sculpture, it was actually the assortment of vegetables he made with the green Play Doh that gave him the biggest thrill:

Son: Look mummy! Vegetables!

Me: Amazing!*

S: There’s cucumber. And lettuce. And peas!

M: Peas! Brilliant!

And that was it. He finished up with the veggie Play Doh action and got down from the table. I had a little panic attack over the fact all the colours had got mixed up and in the wrong pots. In the grand scheme of things, it was all relatively low-drama and uneventful.

Fast forward to the following day. For lord knows what reason, we’d gone to Toys R Us with the kids and they were going insane. I hadn’t seen such frenzied excitement since we’d queued to meet Sportacus at Paultons Park last summer (that’s queued in the beating sun, by the way. For 90 minutes. NINETY MINUTES IN THE BEATING SUN. For a man who was less Sportacus, more Robin Gibb).

mum. dad. this isn't Sportacus

So yes. Toys R Us. Our children were manic, my husband and I had gone a bit robotic with exhaustion. Like, you know how the ginger one from Girls Aloud is a bit (a LOT) dead behind the eyes? Well maybe she’d also spent a rainy Sunday in Toys R Us with more excitable children than should ever be permitted, because that’s pretty much what had happened to us too. Dead of eye, we were slowly traipsing up and down the aisles while the kids shouted out everything they could see/reach/pull from the shelves. And then my husband happened to stop. He just paused, but it was right in front of a huge Play Doh stand….

Fred came running up. Breathless and sweaty with excitement…

“Pea Doh!” he shouted.


He was pointing now. Yes, pointing at the Play Doh display but to the unacquainted onlooker the scene they were essentially stumbling across here was a ruddy-faced three year old, pointing at a somewhat gloomy looking man and loudly calling him a paedo. In a shop rammed to the hilt with children and their (unsettled) parents.

Scooping the kids up – but in a way that did not look like we were stealing them from a toy shop – it was at that point that we decided to call it a day on the whole Toys R Us visit…

*If I’m honest, they weren’t that amazing. The cucumber wasn’t a whole lot different to the lettuce but you know, he’s three, I have to big-up stuff like this