Tag Archives: parenting

If You Liked It Then You Should’ve Put A Ring On It


This time last year it’s not unreasonable to say the life I was living was pretty bloody stark. Devoid of any real purpose, I was bouncing from day to day, feeling like nobody understood me. That I was a misnomer. Lonely and stuck out in suburbia, my only real portal to the outside world was Facebook and that…well, in retrospect, that only really made things worse. Inane statuses updating me on an hourly basis about the bowel movements of the kid of this girl I used to sit next to in double maths (all of which were punctuated with a smiley-face emoticon (nobody get me started on emoticons )); LOLs for things that so did not deserve LOLs; photo after photo of an old media friend who’s now living the high life in Sydney, sipping mojitos with his unfeasibly HOT boyfriend and going to showbiz parties with Kylie – none of these things were good for any mind, especially one that had been left a bit fucked-over by no sleep, too much gin and a lingering concern over dicky pelvic floor muscles. I felt like an outsider. From posts about potty training; to wanky thumbs-up ‘likes’ for things that were neither funny nor interesting; to someone else’s carefree Antipodean lifestyle that only served to highlight how shit my existence of kettle descaling, arse wiping and Dairylea dunking was – this time last year, it’s fair to say, Facebook was bringing me down.

But then, out of the murky depths of despair shone a light. A glimmer of hope that slowly started to talk me round to thinking that maybe my anxieties about being different were unwarranted. That perhaps, just perhaps, an irrepressible potty-mouth, obsession with M&S cocktails in cans and, yes yes, a somewhat inappropriate fantasy about me and the boys from The Wanted AND One Direction stuck in a cable car over the Swiss Alps with only a Toblerone, bottle of brandy, and LOVE to keep us warm, were not solely exclusive to me.

That light, you good, good people of the internet, was Twitter.

Twitter. Gorgeous bloody Twitter. Having been dragged into a mad-ass suburban world with a vernacular peppered with phrases like ‘Pilates apparatus’, ‘engineered wood flooring’ and ‘charity barn dance’, Twitter was like a breath of fresh, sweary air. If the world of social networks was high school (go with me on this one) then Facebook was the goodie goodie superswot and Twitter was my fifth-form mate Erin Wilson. Erin Wilson snogged boys in the playground, had a ‘Set U Free’ tattoo as a tribute to the N-Trance song of the very same name and introduced me to the wonders of Sun-In and Silk Cut. Me being the girl who’d never put a foot wrong her whole school life, Erin Wilson was the much-needed naughty-but-nice in my life. She was the person who showed me that not everything had to be perfect and smell of fucking roses.

Fast forward ten years* and what Erin Wilson did for me then is exactly what the awesome people of Twitter do for me now. Twitter reassures me that not only is the way I think ok, it’s actually quite normal. Yes I swear. Yes, pretty much every Friday, from around 11am, I obsess over which Marks and Sparks ready-mixed tin of booze I’ll be buying for the train that evening. And no, I don’t have to talk with the twee kind of whimsy that some people think a woman in her mid-thirties with two kids, a Skoda estate and subscription to Good Food magazine should. All of the above? Perfectly acceptable. Because, you know what, girls are normal, and they’re bold and just because some out there obsess over the Boden catalogue as though it’s some kind of smiley-smiley, robo-woman guide to how ladies should dress (in pastel stripes. Vertical, obvs), behave (always laughing. At something in the distance, preferably) and live (in a beach hut), Twitter has shown me that it’s them who are in the minority. Real women do not fucking think like that. Real women swear, and find boys a decade younger than them fit. Real women are FUNNY. Now let me show you why…

About a week ago, following a drink with a friend, I tweeted this:

True story.

The response was a whole world of AWESOME. Replies that not only brought a smile to my tired little face, they actually made me laugh. As in proper LOLZ. And right now, here for you, are the highlights. For blogging purposes, I’ve tried to categorise them into The Food, The Med** and The Ugly***. Bitches, let’s DO THIS.

The Food

Don’t get me wrong, I like food. I love food. In the right circumstances, I’m like some kind of record-breaking, speed eater. Chuck a cheese counter my way and I’ll show you something quite, quite special. However, food in exchange for having just expelled an entire person from your muff? No, men, NO:

The Med(ical)

These responses fall largely into the category of ‘ways having a baby screws with your body’. Some are physical, some are emotional, all are way less fun than a Porsche. Broken biffs, colostomy bags and shattered dreams…sounds like the title of a Mike Leigh film, doesn’t it?

If only Hermes made colostomy bags…

The Ugly

For ugly, read: ‘rubbish’. Really rubbish. And actually quite ungrateful: Hello darling. You didn’t get drunk for 9 months. In fact, you drove me around for 9 months while I got drunk. You developed cankles. You cried because your wedding ring got stuck on your water-retentive fingers. You committed numerous selfless acts to procreate a little piece of me, and for that I am truly grateful…now here, have this shit ‘gift’.

The following ladies? I implore you to siphon off some hard cash from your joint bank account, bob down to Selfridges and piss it up the wall on selfish tat purely for you. Go. GO!

So there you go. Unlike Facebook, Twitter is not some snooty rule book or smug ‘how to’ guide to life. It’s a conversation. A confession. A little reassuring, non-judgmental, honest bunch of people saying ‘we’re in the same boat too’. Right now, hanging out in my laptop or kicking back in my mobile, are my kind of people. I’m sorry it took so long, but I found you in the end.

*ok. Twenty. TWENTY. Yeesh, what are you, my birth certificate?

**-ical

*** I know, it’s a terrible pun. Big sozzes for that.

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Dirty Dancefloor


I have officially been working for over a week now. A WHOLE week. In my terms, that’s usually more than enough time for me to have loved something, grumbled about that same something, reconsidered it, got itchy feet and started planning my next move. I wouldn’t say I was fickle, more…ambitious?…ever in search of life’s challenges? Ah, fuck it, I’m fickle. However, in the case of this lovely job stuff, I haven’t for a minute thought ‘should I really be doing this?’ or written a pros versus cons list (I used to do that a LOT) because it has, just naturally, felt right. I hope that doesn’t sound smug. It’s really not meant to and if it makes any difference, I am shattered and a little bit missing the lazy mornings when the kids were at pre-school and I could watch 90210 under the pretence I was doing some terribly important research on teen surf boys and their abs (good teens, you know, like over 18 and allowed and stuff). But, BUT, on the whole the ‘feeling right’ thing and not spending a good part of my day questioning my existence and worth is quite nice. It’s really nice, actually. After generally being a bit incompetent at being a full time mother, it’s nice to remember there’s something out there that I’m not so shit at.

Anyway, wanky-wanky-my-fragile-soul-wah-wah-wah-you-have-heard-it-all-before rubbish out the way, here are some other things I have learned this last week:

The GAP near the office is open when I walk past in the morning. Ditto Urban Outfitters. This can only point to one thing and that thing starts with me building a collection of more jeans than any one person could ever need and ends with the kids having to wear clothes I’ve made. Speaking as someone who once used staples to mend a hole in her top, I think you’ll agree that that is more than a fair trade-off and my children are actually very lucky to have such an innovative, creative mother. Who will make them new clothes out of staples and plastic bags

That, although yes it is still dark outside each morning, the blackened windows of the train carriage act as an excellent mirror for when I’m putting on make-up

Eyeliner application and a moving train do not a happy combination make

In order to get out of the house in time each morning, I need to plan my outfit the night before. A bit like when it was out-of-uniform day at school only this time around, I’m trying to work the ‘young enough to get asked for ID’ look, as opposed to the ‘old enough to get served Hooch at Bargain Booze’ look

Binge Drinking: The Glory Years

There is a really fit guy who gets on my train two stops after me. I must make sure to apply my make up within two stops

Bob, the buy in the ticket office, is my new best friend. So far we have talked about the snow, made noises of derision at the guy on the bike in just his shorts and skinny top (Australian?) and discussed a couple of South West Trains’ policies – namely pricing. I’m a little fuzzy about the details but it ended in Bob suggesting I dress as a schoolgirl to get discount. I went and waited on the platform at that stage

There are more places of lunchtime glory near the office than any food obsessive/anxiety sufferer can stand. Today, I think I will go the whole hog and do a supermarket sweep style run around them all, piling noodles, superfood salads, gourmet burgers, falafel, low gi, high gi etc into my mouth as I go. That is genuinely the only answer to this dilemma

If I don’t bankrupt myself on jeans, I’m going to do it via lunch

Four years ago, a Thermos cup in public would have been the social death equivalent of doing a poo on a dancefloor (anyone?). Fast forward to today and I refuse to leave home without it. I still, however, would not crap on a dancefloor

Stand Tall, Stand Proud: My Insulated Capsule Of Geek Glee

A lot has changed in music since I was last working and I’m not talking about The Zingzillas. Lana Del Ray, Ed Sheeran, Rizzle Kicks – I’ve heard these noises before but just presumed they were things young people said like ‘tings’, ‘bare’ and ‘you messing around in the wrong manor, blud?’ (no?). Turns out they’re actually real people what make songs. To get up to speed, this weekend I will mainly be watching a lot of YouTube

Either the lighting in the loo at work is really bad or I need to wear a lot more makeup

In my efforts to outwit a similarly apostrophe-obsessed, punctuation-enforcer, I have discovered a website called grammar-monster.com. Oh yeah, it’s like ASOS but better because it teaches you about adjuncts and doesn’t make you feel fat

My Kind Of Woman

While four years may have stripped me of any current musical knowledge, it seems time, and the mum thing, has taught me a lot of good stuff in return. Namely:

I don’t hang around. Having had to master the art of dressing and feeding two toddlers, sorting my own pallid face out to make it bearable for the good, good people of the outside world, make two reasonably decent lunch boxes AND leave myself five minutes to watch, then grumble, about Lorraine Kelly on morning telly, all in the space of 45 minutes means my mode is very much permanently switched to ‘time is of the essence, hurry the fuck up’. This, teamed with an occasional fall off the caffeine wagon into a double espresso, has made me quite productive within limited time scales. Handy when trying to knock up a 4-page pitch document within the space of a train journey

I can deal with noise. The radio, over zealous banter from very typical telly people who should be on stage not behind a desk, 16 different conversations going in, around and across me and the guy from IT talking me through the ins and outs of the intranet? It’s fine. I can concentrate. In fact, compared to Upsy Daisy and that ffffffucking trumpet, it’s like Enya’s whispering her harmonic sweet nothings as I work

Whilst still very much doubting my ability etc etc blah blah blah, I’ve also returned to the workplace with far less fear and much more of a ‘let’s have it’ attitude than I had pre-children. I imagine that is because nothing could be as shit-scary as raising children. NOTHING

Have a great weekend y’all.

@upyoursginaford

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Olive Sucker. Shouter. Dishwasher Bitch


Man, you bloggers out there, you’re so GOOD. Not only do you write well, you write often. Power cut, earthquake, Dont Tell The Bride marathon on BBC3 – I bet there’s not a household crisis, natural disaster or the distraction of an enraged woman in a white dress screaming “what the FUCK am I doing at Thorpe Park on my FUCKING wedding day?” that would stop you from writing your posts-of-glory on at least a weekly basis. Usually more.

I, on the other hand, seem to be starting more and more blogs with lame sorry I’m late-type apologies, despite not knowing if anyone could really give a flying shitbag anyway as to when my next rant was coming or how long it had been before I last bleated on about getting tanked up on boozy Vimto / Peter Stringfellow’s motorbike / KirstiefuckingAllsopp. But you know what, if it helps or matters or makes anyone feel even a little bit better, I have had a mega week from dilemma-hell with a lot to think about, fret over and use as an excuse to cry about. Here’s what happened…

Right. Tuesday, I went on a train. This might not sound like a big deal but let me explain three things about this train:

1) It did not have a smiley face on the front of it, nor was it plugged into the wall outside Tesco. This train did not involve me putting 20p in a slot for 3 minutes of underwhelming entertainment
2) It was a proper bloody train. More importantly, my children were not on this proper bloody train
3) It was taking me to London. To London to talk to someone about me going back to work

Thomas The Tank Engine's tranny cousin. The one nobody talks about.

Pretty fricking exciting. And then terrifying. Because it’s me and for every good thing there has to be a good three or four or fifty bad things. But I’ll go into that in a bit. Wahoo! I just promised you some upcoming gloom and anxiety, don’t say I don’t treat you right, bitches.

Anyway. The good stuff

Two hours on a train. It was amazing. I had my coffee, I had my computer jacked up to the hilt with sitcoms (for research purposes, you understand), I had my book, I had clothes on that neither smelled of shit nor had any dubious is-it-yoghurt-is-it-spunk? stains on (NOTE: that question is always posed by the onlooker. I know it is ALWAYS going to be yoghurt). The only concern I had about these two hours would that they would not be enough to do all the exciting stuff like reading, eating and sleeping that I had planned. What I also dug about this trip was the distinct shift in my role and identity for the day. To the untrained eyes of the commuters sat around me, they didn’t know me for being a mum and that felt amazing. The incident the night before where, having dealt with an angry, constipated kid all day, I’d found myself involved in some kind of deranged, grotesque horror-movie waterbirth where, to a chant of ‘come on, come on, you can do it’ my daughter had crapped directly into my hands – my fellow passengers knew nothing about that. That I had sat sobbing in a car park the other week whilst frantically sucking the red pimento bit out of a tub of olives because it was the only way to placate a screaming toddler who loves olives but hates pimento? Yeah, they didn’t know about that either. Nor were they aware of my meltdown when, just moments later, I’d had to fill out the ‘occupation’ part of a form and written ‘Olive Sucker. Shouter. Dishwasher Bitch’. To them, I was part of their gang – just another person, on a train, on their way to work. To me, this train journey was a lovely little reminder of what I used to be (and maybe of what I still actually am, given half a chance) and I liked it. I felt free.

Well, free right up until the moment that the bitch who lives inside me and likes nothing more than punching my positivity square in the face pitched up. And promptly tried to shit me up.

First came the panic about the kids. I hadn’t left them in the car or anything – they were with their dad – but then I started thinking about exactly what that meant. For one, my husband had seemingly channelled ‘off-duty lapdancer’ as his inspiration for dressing our daughter that morning. Secondly, the last thing I’d seen as I left the house was him – and this is 100% actual truth – stood at one end of the kitchen, lobbing loose grapes and jelly babies into the kids’ lunch boxes at the other end of the kitchen. ‘My GOD’ I thought ‘nobody will ever look after my children as well as I do, what the hell am I thinking? I can’t go back to work’.

And that brings me to childcare. When I’ve had a bad day and I’m calling my husband at work, weeping ‘she just brushed her teeth with my FUCKING Beauty Flash Balm. I can’t do this anymore’ down the phone at him, I tell myself I couldn’t give a hoot who looks after the kids. My husband; an unqualified, slaggy au pair with a sex addiction; an affable chimp with a basic grasp of communicative grunts – a lot of the time, I’d happily hand them over to any one of these. However, this day, on the train, with the guilt of momentarily enjoying some time on my own weighing heavy on my selfish shoulders, I started to brick it. What would I do about childcare? Like sure, there are nannies and childminders and pre-schools but, after three years as a stay at home mum, would any outside influence just make my children hate me? You know, like, even more than normal?

Alright, kids? I'm your new mummy

These disproportionate feelings of guilt and fear of doing the wrong thing by my kids and my role as a mother probably aren’t helped so much by the fact I live in a village where 97% of families are run by stay at home mums (I totally made that statistic up but you get my point). Women who wouldn’t dream of working and who rank me with my vague career aspirations somewhere between King Herod and that woman who bought her daughter a boob job for her 7th birthday on the ‘who’s the shittest parent?’ scale. I made the mistake of mentioning the whole job/London thing to a local mum at a toddler group before voicing my worries and fears in a misjudged search for some reassurance. Tilting her head to one side and scrunching up her nose, she reacted with ‘ooh, I know, it can be frustrating sometimes but they’re only really teeny-tiny and you do have to think of the kids first’. Think of the kids? Think of the fucking kids? That is all I have done for the past 3 years and all I still do now. I think of them every waking moment. I lie wide-eyed at 2am, crapping myself about stuff I do and how it affects them and yes, I know a kid is for life, not just for a year or three but sweet Jesus, I’m not suggesting I sell them to someone on Gumtree, I just want more from life. I WANT MORE.

Her hand is MASSIVE

Anywaaaaay. Anyway. There was that. And then there was the job itself. A really, really brilliant job with an amazing company, doing something I would love. Like actually, properly L-O-V-E. But whether I could do it was another issue. Three years out off work can do a lot to your confidence and while I’ve been doing little bits and pieces of writing and stuff on a freelance basis for the last few months, this has all been done remotely from a hidden corner in my local Caffe Nero. It didn’t involve an office, colleagues or the daily pressure of earning money by creating work that a lot of other people then have to like. It felt like I was kidding these potential employers. And kind of like I was kidding myself. Despite having a really lovely meeting, I left their offices feeling like a big, fat fraud. Who did I think I was? I wasn’t the woman I used to be. Time had changed. I had responsibilities and priorities that top-trumped anything I wanted to do. Returning to work was never going to happen and I was a massive prick for even thinking for a second or two that I could somehow pull it off.

So, with all of the above and a whole lot more running rampage in my head, I turned the job, with the brilliant company, working with brilliant people, down.

And they came back to me and told me to think about it.

So I thought about it and went back with another polite, somewhat apologetic no thank you.

And they suggested I have one last think about it.

And that is exactly what I did. And by ‘think’ what I could easily have said is that, between the hours of 8pm and 10pm last Wednesday night, I turned my life into a big, ridiculous, all-wailing, all-hating drama. A bit like Eastenders but with added doom. Eastenders at Christmas, say. Honestly, it was full-on. I cried, I got snotty, I told my husband it was all very well him saying to go for it, he was ’emotionally devoid’ when it came to our kids (sorry John). And then, after two hours of me being a bit of a wanker with no perspective as to what constitutes a real problem, things went quiet and a new thought fought its way into my head.

What if I did take the job?

What if I just stopped cocking about and gave it a go? What if, I figured out the childcare, sucked up my issues, tucked them away into a little corner in my brain and let them fight amongst themselves for a bit. And then all the other good stuff came flooding back. That this could be an amazing chance to prove myself, to myself. That yes, it would be tricky on so many levels, but maybe a chance to reaffirm the shit I am good at, rather than spend all day berating myself for the things I am bad at could really kick what has been, and kind of still is, a really stubborn bout of depression into touch. And you know, as much as the idea of doing this is scary, there was one overwhelming thing that terrified me far, far more – the thought of not doing it.

Holy crapbags Batman, I think I’m going back to work.

@upyousginaford

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Watch Your Back 2012, I’m Coming For You


“YEEHA-Mexican-Wave-Let’s-Smash-It-UP! It’s 2012! Year Of The Olympics! Year Of The Dragon! The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee! Let’s have it. No, seriously, I’m totally cool with this. LET. US. HAVE. IT”

So that was me on New Year’s Eve. I’d drunk enough vodka and fizzy Vimto to get over the pretty depressing fact that a) we were watching TV’s 50 Greatest Magic Tricks on a night when every other fricker we knew was at a party, having actual, proper fun that didn’t involve Debbie McGee and b) the other TV viewing alternative for such a momentous event as the beginning of a whole new year was The Cube. The bloody Cube. A show that sends shooting pains of angst through my very core. There’s just something about that spooky mask woman who demonstrates the games and the stern voiceover and the floaty graphics-in-space that Pip Schofield makes the contestants pretend they can see that leave my already frazzled nerves shot completely to shit.

Are you ready for The Cube? Not with that creepy bitch in it, Phillip, no.

Anyway. Digressing. What I’m saying here is, for a short while, largely because of alcoholic Vimto and the fact my kids had finally gone to bed, I was totally up for 2012. After what had been a pretty rotten year, I kind of welcomed the start of something new because new = exciting, yes?

Well. Yes. And no. Because new also = the unknown. And the unknown? Well, for anyone of a vaguely wobbly emotional disposition (ooh, that’s me! *eagerly puts hand up and shouts ME! ME!* *realises a wobbly emotional disposition isn’t actually such a good thing, puts had down, looks sideways to check nobody saw that*) the unknown can be a bit terrifying. One minute I’m a big fat mass of giddy motivation and positive enthusiasm – essentially, a walking, talking exclamation mark – ‘YEAH! 2012! So many goals I’m going to achieve, let’s DO THIS’. The next minute? I get the energy-crash of the ‘what ifs’. What if I my daughter doesn’t adjust to pre-school? I won’t have time to do half the things I have planned. What if I do find the time and what I then do is rubbish? What if that dirty black dog that has been known to piss on my happy parade scuppers the whole motivation thing? What if I get so tangled up in my 2012 to-do list that my brain gets overloaded, I can’t figure out what to do first so I just end up spending my childfree hours mumbling incoherently at daytime re-runs of Diagnosis Murder and Escape To The Bloody Country until its time to pick the kids up? THESE ARE ALL THINGS THAT COULD ACTUALLY HAPPEN.

Call it the sobering-up process. Call it Sandie Shaw in her hotpants on Hootenanny looking like Jessie J’s mother. Call it the sneaky side of my brain that acts like it’s trying to help me with its words of ‘advice’ but is actually just trying to screw things up (a bit like the time this girl at school suggested I’d look good with a perm when really she just wanted to get off with this boy we both liked who, it transpired, was very much not into the whole ginger-Anita-Dobson look). My mood switched. Something was trying to smack-down my zest for the oncoming year and I had to act fast.

How I imagine Hilary off Dragon's Den to look on a karaoke night down the pub

So, pissed-up, emotional and with a good two litres of full-fat Vimto-sugar coursing through me, I wrote a list. I won’t say resolutions because, let’s face it, the second you mention the R-word, people tend to roll their eyes, smirk and look at you with a smug combo of condescension and ‘bullshit!’ glinting in their eyes. Instead, it’s more of a list of stuff I intend to face up to or knuckle down and do before the year is out. 12 months to feel the fear then do it anyway. A bit like a Bucket List that doesn’t involve me dying at the end. A Fuck-It list, if you like:

Finally turn that sitcom idea I have in my head into an actual script. This will involve me a)not wetting myself with worry that it’ll be dreadful and people will laugh at me, rather than at what I write and b) in the name of research (no, HONESTLY), watching so much comedy, it seeps into my eyes, infiltrates my brain then falls out of my ears (jesus, you’d have thought I was on acid, not vodka)

Do everything I can to stop dwelling on stuff from the past, stop panicking about what could happen in the future and just go all buddhist on my outlook and live in the now (it’s ok, if that’s a bit new-age and wanky for you, the next one should sort that out)

Get someone famous to follow me on Twitter – Gino DiCampo? Barry Chuckle? One of Same Difference? I could not give a hoot who it is. I’m not picky, I just want someone who is/was once on telly once to be in my followers list. Is that too much (read: too shallow) to ask?

Get some official exercise because 1) it helps with the depression thing and 2)I’ve a bridesmaid dress to get into for my sister’s wedding in September and I want to pull a Pippa Middleton out the bag for it. Zoe – if you’re reading – that’s a joke. Everyone else – that’s so not a joke, I want to look hotter than my sister on the biggest day of her life, is that really SO wrong? Is it? Is IT? It is? Oh.
Note: Attempting to pull some BodyRockers Shufflin’ moves in front of the Viva channel on a Saturday night does not count as official exercise

Should the exercise thing not work out, wear M&S magic knickers every day and night until my body learns to stay that shape without the aid of reinforced control-lycra

Failing that, just do that diet where you chew food up then spit it in the bin because, you know, that’s healthy. I think maybe Geri Halliwell got skinny that way? Or was it Liz Hurley?

Learn to take criticism well and look at is as a positive and constructive means of improving myself. If that isn’t possible, learn to FAKE taking criticism well, whilst inside thinking ‘this person has no idea what they’re talking about. I am right, they are wrong’

Give Zumba a go. Solely to prove the point that not everyone likes it.

And finally…..(it’s quite profound this one, steady yourselves)

Accept the fact that cleaning products from the 99p shop will NEVER tackle limescale in the same way as Viakal. In the words of the great Status Quo, ‘you pay your money, you take your choice’ – never a truer word spoken when it comes to cheap bathroom cleaners

It’s not a long list by any means but hopefully that’s a good thing in the sense of making it more achievable. Of course, the 99p shop thing will be a stretch because, you know, they’re very clever. They know how to make the labels on some random bleachy stuff look like proper Cif from a distance so I’ll have to watch out for that one but otherwise, I’m feeling pretty hopeful.

Anyway, I’d love to stay and chat but I’d best crack on. I’ve got a boxset of 30 Rock to get through and a pair of control pants to wrestle my arse into. Look, you can’t argue with the Fuck-It list

@upyoursginaford

P.S. I’m not sponsored by Vimto. I’m from the north – I just really like Vimto. It’s akin to the whole Scottish/Irn Bru thing. Is that racist? I hope not. Most of my friends are Scottish. That’s not actually true, I have no Scottish friends but that’s not a conscious choice, it’s more of a geographical thing. Shall I stop talking now? Yes? Ok. Bye then…Big-up the Scots. Etc.

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Mum. Dad. What Happened To The Stranger Danger Rule?


Two smiling faces. Neither of them the kids'. Ah Father Christmas, sometimes you just shit kids right up

P.S. Yip, I’m totally sat on Santa’s knee.

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Mistletoe and Whine


Bollocks. Sorry. I haven’t written in ages. In my defence, I’ve had work on (like, actual, paying work, HIGH FIVE!) and then, you know, it’s coming up for Christmas and we’ve all been ill and my husband has been working late and then, well, my dog ate my homework and I’ve got my period so my mum says I can’t do swimming today. I’ve got a note somewhere. What do you mean that looks like my writing? It’s totally my mum’s…

Anyway. If it’s any consolation, I’ve been feeling bad and generally a bit panicky about the whole lack of blogging thing. I’ve bored my husband to tears with my guilt. Wah-wah-wah, I haven’t done the blog in AGES and he’s all ‘Abby, it’ll be fine, chill out, it’s no big deal, let’s talk about it later’ and then I’m all ‘that’s typical of you, we never talk anymore, are you having an affair, is that what this is all about?’ and then he’s like ‘it’s 4am, please stop talking’. He’s quite selfish like that my husband….

But yeah. Working. Whoop whoop. That’s nice. Nice to earn a bit of money and use my brain and have conversations with people that don’t end in ‘and then she crapped in the bath. I’d only cleaned it five minutes earlier, what a waste of Cillit Bang’. All good.

What’s not so good is the fact I work for myself, from home. Sure, it’s flexible and I’m my own boss and sometimes, when I’m tapping away on the laptop, I like to smoke a pen, diffuse my hair and pretend I’m Carrie Bradshaw but you know, it has its downsides too, especially at Christmas. In fact,  I’d say this is probably the worse time of year to work on your todd, namely because you totally miss out on all the good shizzle that goes with working in an office over the festive season.

For one, there’s no office party. Or, more specifically, no festive buffet action. Let’s get this straight – I ROCK a buffet. I’m from the north-west, buffets are in my blood. It’s what we do*. Cold pork pies, soft Wotsits, curly sandwiches – these are the very essence of my soul, not to mention the foundations on which all good office Christmas dos are built. Yet what do I get? Nothing. Not a sniff of a vol-au-vent, no hint of a prawn ring. My booby prize is a quick mine-sweep of fish finger scraps and burnt oven chips from my kids’ plates after tea-time and frankly, that’s shit.

Instructions: Defrost prawns under the hot tap; keep sauce in the plastic pot; serve. Right nice.

There are of course some people who will say ‘ooh, well, no Christmas party, no hangover’. And to that I reply – ‘have we ever met?’ Who needs a party – I’ll drink to anything. Getting free delivery from Asda online; discovering they sell coconut milk at the 99p shop**; having a coil fitted – these have all been known to give me a reason to pour a big, fat glass of booze come 6 o’ clock. Hell, my kids have a hide and seek toy that says ‘let’s celebrate’ when you find it. ‘You don’t need to ask me twice’, I’ll often respond as I pull the gin out the cupboard. Give me some mulled wine and Olly Murs’ Ye Olde Christmas Carols on VIVA and I’ll gladly get as pissed as the best of them. And as hungover. Which brings me to the next sucky thing about the whole stay-at-home-mum at Christmas business.

Hangovers. When you work in an office, yes, it’s a bit rubbish having to go in with a cracking hangover but at least there’s always someone in some nearby canteen that’s going to fry up the necessary lard-arsed carb-fest you’re going to need to get you through the day. At home? That person is you and a dirty great bacon bap isn’t the same when you’ve had to cook it yourself inbetween waves of nausea and to a backdrop of Peppa Pig’s Madame Gazelle singing that fucking bingly-bongly-boo song. Plus, PLUS, with a hangover, there’s not even a minute of respite from the usual day-to-day child-rearing, home-making bollocks, is there? You’ve just got to get on with it. Not like when I worked in an office and one of my greatest tricks when suffering from the consequences of a session the night before, was to tell people I was off to a meeting, set the alarm on my phone for an hour later and go and have a sleep on the floor of the disabled toilet. You know, kind of like how a tramp would.

But then, you know, t’is the season to be thankful and all, so while yes, I do totally miss these things, I’ll quit it with the grumpy old woman act for a second, hold my hands up and say there are some nice things about living in Stepford come Christmas time. The lovely man who grows a beard each year especially to play Santa for the local kids; my amazing butcher who never seems to tire of my stuffing and chipolata-based innuendo and the annual tree-lighting service in our village. Sure, it involves a bit of religious stuff and some proper carols rather than the Slade-fest I’d usually opt for but the local committee also provide free booze for everyone who comes along. Free. Booze. Amazing. Although if maybe I hadn’t got quite so delirious with excitement over the prospect of complimentary alcohol, I wouldn’t have sank those three mugs of badass mulled wine quite so fast and could have probably avoided going on to heckle the Salvation Army band as they played to the crowd. As it happens, no, they don’t know the Cheeky Girls’ Have A Cheeky Christmas and yes, in hindsight, it probably would have been better if I’d saved my own, personal rendition for when I got home.

Man alive, I really need to get a proper job in 2012.

Santa touching up the Cheeky Girls - that's the true meaning of Christmas right there

* years ago, I had a summer job at my local  M&S and always remember the manager telling me that, of all the Marks and Spencers across the land, the Stockport branch sold the most meat paste – proof right there, doubters

**have you seen what Tesco charges for coconut milk these days? That and butter. I get very Daily Mail about it. Tesco are playing us like fools. FOOLS

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Where There’s Fame There’s A Claim


Like, OMG. WTF. Totes shitballs. I’m one of those women aren’t I? One of those women I bitch about. Who spends her whole life talking about her kids. Well, her whole blog anyway. I’m spending my whole blog talking about my kids. Not that my blog is my life you understand. Hell no. I mean, I have LOADS of other stuff going on outside of the blog thing. Like. Well. Um. Desperate Scousewives on Sky+. My daily Groupon email. Learning to talk ‘street’ (see above). I mean, jesus, I’ve got an appointment with the dental hygienist later. Fullofloadsofexcitingstuff, that’s my life for you.

I’m lying, of course. My life may be full. But of terribly exciting stuff? Not so much. The dental hygienist? Despite me resenting the fact she speaks to me like an 8 year old** and my deep-seated fear of dental floss, I’m actually quite looking forward to my appointment because it means half an hour out of the house and a chance to read the waiting room copy of Grazia. Life wasn’t always so lacklustre though. Shall I tell you my claims to fame? Shall I? (if you’re shouting ‘NO’ at your computer, you should probably stop reading now). Ye-ah boyee. Kid free and all about me, fill yo’ boots:

  • After helping out at The Soap Awards one year (a career high never to be equalled) I challenged Ben Freeman of then-Emmerdale fame to help me start a fight between The Dales and Coronation Street. He seemed up for it but wouldn’t swing the first punch so I think maybe he was just humouring me. At the same party, the man who used to play Mr Cunningham in Hollyoaks (anyone?) climbed onto a speaker and, to a backdrop of Starlight by Supermen Lovers (again, anyone?), took off all his clothes and thrust the bit that most men like to thrust when they are 100% naked until security had to forceably remove him

Mr Cunningham. This man's genitals will stay with me til the day I die. Not literally, of course. That'd be weird

  • I once posed in a women’s magazine with no clothes on. It was an article about body issues, was tastefully done and motivated by the sole fact I got fifty quid for it. Because of this, I then appeared on GMTV with daytime TV’s queen of condescension, Lorraine Kelly, who conducted an in-depth discussion with me and a plus-size model on body dysmorphia. I like to think the fact our chat only lasted 5 minutes and was preceded by a performance of Celebration by Kool and the Gang didn’t deter from the seriousness of the subject…
  • I used to write mucky sex stories for a national magazine. You know those ‘and then he put his spanner down and shagged me up against the dishwasher’ real-life confessions? Very much not real. Ditto the letters page
  • I once gave Pat Sharp an antihistamine and then took that as an open invitation from him to me to go on a massive rant about how much I hated Dr Fox. Shortly after I rounded up my ten-minute diatribe with ‘I mean, he’s not even a real doctor’, Pat Sharp revealed that while Dr Fox may indeed not be a qualified member of the medical profession, he was in fact his daughter’s godfather
  • For whatever reason, most probably as a result of me lying my face off, I once ended up on some PR lists as the editor of the magazine I worked on, rather than the lowly editorial assistant I actually was. As a result of my bullshitting, I got invited to the re-launch of Stringfellows and, after drinking a lot of free wine, me and my mate ended up sat atop a motorbike with Stringy himself. ‘Come on girls, mount the Harley’ he said. No word of a lie, that’s what Peter Stringfellow actually said. FUCK. ING. AWESOME.

If loving him is wrong, I don't want to be right

Of course, based on the Stepford circles I find myself moving in these days, I’m not really meant to admit all of the above and, even if I do, it’s supposed to be done in an ironic-roll-the-eyes-‘ha-I-used-to-think-this-kind-of-shit-meant-something’ way, whilst simultaneously professing my spiritual awakening to the really important stuff in life. Like, you know, Boden, pilates, PTA committee meetings… If truth be told though, just like X Factor, Beyonce’s bumpwatch and Teen Mom on MTV, I love the trashy stuff today as much as I did pre-kids and nothing gets me more giddy than another person’s tale of a time they met a celebrity. That’s your cue – dish it. Give me gossip. The grubbier, the better.

**Hygienist: So now I’ve shown you how to brush properly, we’ll all be happy bunnies at the next appointment, yeah?

Me: #looking behind me for the toddler I presume she’s addressing# Sorry?

H: YEAH! Cool bananas! #goes to high five me#

M: Can we not do that please

P.S. I’m tucking it down the bottom because I feel a bit of a knob about it and everything but I’m now on Twitter. I don’t know if it’s the website for me, I’m not convinced it’ll catch on…Anyway, should you be also on Twitter and would like to make an old woman happy, give me a little tickle or whatever it is they call it. A twickle? I have no idea. http://twitter.com/#!/upyoursginaford

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Shits and Giggles


Sometimes, I wonder if I’m being filmed. Not in a weird, stalkery way, like the one with the shaved head from The Wanted would feel if he knew how much I Googled him. More in a hidden-camera-let’s-mess-with-her-mind way. Like the time I attempted a nice game of pass the parcel at my son’s birthday, only for Smack My Bitch Up to be on the party tunes compilation. Or the day I was having a stab at shifting some baby weight at the local swimming baths and the strap on my costume broke, resulting in me flashing a single, pallid knocker to the year 7 swim class in the next lane. There are occasions when so much stuff that shouldn’t go wrong, goes completely wrong and so many good, simple intentions go arse-up that I end up asking if it’s all a big, fat prank.  Maybe there’s some kind of phone vote involved. And a bunch of viewers who revel in my misfortune so much that they’ll gladly spend money on a premium rate number if it means they can help bring about my nervous breakdown. Basically, I think my life is The Truman Show meets Beadle’s About. And yes, I know they say Beadle’s dead but what if he’s not and what if that was all part of this elaborate, creepy ruse of his? He crash-landed a spaceship in someone’s garden for pity’s sake, faking his own death is totally the next step up from that.

Um, so ok, that’s the theory. Now picture the show – a really small camera has been hidden in my hair. I think it’s the start of a dreadlock brought on by the fact I’ve not had chance to shower for four days. It’s not. It’s a camera. Anyway. This is the voiceover. It’s the voice of Jeremy Beadle obviously, you know, what with the whole not being dead thing:

“Here’s tonight’s fraught mother, Abby. She’s had a crisis of confidence in her parental abilities and has decided to offset that morning she gave the kids Dairylea Dunkers for breakfast against a trip to the forest to pick some berries to make jam with. That’s what she wants to do, but viewers, how this actually works out is up to you…

If you’d like to see Abby enjoy a nice, low-key afternoon of berry-picking and jam-making with her children, text NICE to this number

Alternatively, if you’re laughing at her naivety and want these genteel, idealistic notions booted into touch, text FAIL”

For whatever reason – maybe because I’m a bit ginger or because I’m really intolerant of people who use apostrophes in the wrong place – the nation hates me. They all text FAIL.

“What our victim doesn’t know is we’ve had a dog do its business in the forest. What she also doesn’t know is that her daughter trod in said dog poo earlier. Watch what happens when, in an attempt to placate her whining daughter, Abby obliviously picks her up and….hang on….wait for it….YES!….BRILLIANT!….she’s done it, she’s smeered dog shit up her mother’s back! See Abby’s face crumple! Is she disgusted? Defeated? Viewers, I think it’s a bit of both!”

Cue the uh-oh-what-a-knob music

To round-up, the hidden hair camera captures me unsuccessfully trying to wrestle two uncooperative children into my car whilst simultaneously gagging over the smell of dog muck, right before Beadle bids everyone goodnight with a chuckle, a shake of his head and a cheeky wink.

Thinking about it, does anyone have Channel Five’s number? I think I could be on to something…

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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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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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