Thursday, 17 July 2008


Finally! A moment to myself when neither Child One nor Child Two is MSN-ing, playing the SIMS or checking their endless emails, which are mostly chain letters which anyone over the age of 12 would delete. It's not that they're on the computer all the time - no, mostly we're out having good, clean, honest holiday fun - but when we're all in the house together, everybody wants to be on the computer at the very same moment.

A lot of people would say to themselves that the time had come to invest in a second computer. These people, however, have probably not just had their paying careers wrecked by their ex-husband. I don't think I could afford a spare set of Scrabble letters at the moment, so a laptop? Ha! No chance. Plus I feel it must be like the motorways argument - if you build more roads, you get more cars. If we had more computers, there would be more grumpy children hunched over strange virtual reality games which seem to consist of tidying up houses - why they can't do this for real in lovely Divorce Towers beats me.

Arg! I hear the stampede of tiny feet coming down the stairs. Time for another airing in the park, followed by playing for them and a coffee with a Mummy for me. It's all lovely, but what I wouldn't give for a bit of silent contemplation in front of my beloved screen, rather than yet more anguished debate on school fees (up, up and away) and house prices (down, down, deedle-um down). See you soon - I hope.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

You Really Shouldn't Have!

My lovely fellow South London blogsister, Goodbye To All Fat, has sweetly awarded me this adorable Arte e Pico thingy. Isn't it gorgeous? And don't you just love her dress? I confess that, apart from the deep honour, I'm not a hundred per cent sure that I've grasped the full import, but I do know that I must now pass the flaming baton - so like the Bejing Olympics! - to five other bloggers. I would like to nominate Rosiero at Alcoholic Daze for a blog so honest and harrowing it never fails to distract me from my own ridiculous woes, I Want Slippers for her sweetly optimistic tale of adultery, in the hope this will encourage her to get back online after being scared by a lawyer (how I know that feeling!), Rural Villager for a blog which is a healthy blast of fresh air for this jaded city girl, Fiction Fobic for quirky book reviews which everyone should read, and (Very) Lost in France, for anyone still toying with the idea of buying their own chateau. I would have nominated Potty Mummy but she seems to have hundreds of awards already, as does splendid Dulwich Mum, and next time I'm going to nominate the very lovely Tarte Tartan and Cat Calls, not forgetting dear Married with 4, who sadly seems to have stopped blogging. Nunhead Mum of One would have been on my list, but the award originally came from her, and of course Goodbye To All Fat deserves it more than anyone - but has already got it.
Phew. It just remains for me to thank my astrologist, my florist, my team of lawyers and, of course, Mr X, without whom none of this would have been impossible. And anyone else who knows me! Mwah to you all xxx. Ooopsie, think I've torn my frock getting off the podium ....

Monday, 7 July 2008

The Only Divorcee in the Village

There are one or two advantages of being The Only Divorcee in the Village. Well, actually, I can't think of two, but there is one - I am in great demand as a last minute dinner party stunt guest. Everyone knows that, since my husband got custody of our social life, I am available before a hat has even dropped to make up numbers, should anyone legitimately invited be struck down with botulism at the eleventh hour.

I have many advantages as a stunt guest. I have a full wardrobe of suitably swanky outfits, acquired Abroad and scarcely worn. I know my lobster crackers from my asparagus fork, and rarely, if ever, mistake the finger bowl for a particularly watery chinese soup. And, most importantly, like Red Adair, I can be airlifted into the most dangerous inter-guest situations and get them under control in moments. Marital discord threatening to errupt over the nibbles? No problemmo, I've seen it all and I've got the injunction. Political differences leading to raised voices over the starter? I can change the conversation quicker than the hostess can change a nappy. Widespread gloom over housing prices casting a pall over the entire proceedings? My amusing tale of how I sold up for peanuts will have everyone enjoying the warming glow of schadenfreude (there, and I always say I know no German!).

A few samples of my recent conversational wares will give you a fuller feel for my suitability for this role. 'Isn't it awful about this credit crunch. They say chemists in the city have run out of neurofen, there are so many people taking overdoses. Ah .... you're in hedge funds, are you?' 'It's always such a shame when children have to leave their schools when the parents can't afford the fees any more. Oh, so yours are starting at the local comprehensive in September? I'm sure they'll just love it'.

Is it any wonder that my diary is fully booked until ....oh. But then, it is the holidays, isn't it?

Friday, 4 July 2008

Guilty Pleasures

The fabulous thing about being middle class is that there's always something new to feel guilty about. Of course, no-one wastes time feeling bad about the essentials that gave us entree into this class in the first place - the huge privileges of education, and the subsequent income that this confers, both seen as our birthright. No, we much prefer to feel guilty about going to cheap supermarkets.

First, I saw an article in the Guardian saying that it was possible to go to places like Aldi and Lidl and emerge with your accent intact. Then I heard people in Crystal Palace singing the praises of Lidl's take on kettle chips. True Love came next, reporting the check-out man in Sainsburys had said he never shopped there himself, and much preferred Lidl. Finally, yesterday, I found myself scurrying into the Sydenham branch of Lidl, not quite with a paper bag over my head, but certainly with a backward glance and a furtive gait.

My trolley was very reluctant to disengage itself from the pack, and kept listing back towards its friends throughout our journey round the store. But this inconvenience was soon forgotten as I hoovered up the delights, starting by marvelling up at an uncompromising banner hanging over the entrance: 'Wow, that's cheap!' it read. Wow, that's .... frank, I thought. You'd never catch Mr J Sainsbury admitting his stuff was cheap. On special offer, maybe. On bogof, (buy one get one free) perhaps. But cheap? Darling, perish the thought. Sainsbury's main aim in life is to get us to buy their 'taste the difference' range. Now I've always found this range annoying, as it only promises to be different, not better. And it's always more expensive. What's the point of that?

Maybe I am a Lidl girl after all, I thought, feeling like Dorothy on the yellow brick road as I snaffled up a bouquet of gorgeous coral pink roses for £1.99 (hoping True Love would think they were from my Imaginary Secret Admirer), bagged a vast mango for 37p - yes, 37p, and generally hurled stuff into the trolley as though I was on my own special version of supermarket sweep. I left the shop having forked out £40 less than usual (though perhaps that was because I just couldn't quite like the look of any of the meat) and with my arms beautifully toned from hauling my trolley hither and thither.

And the proof of the pudding? B-who-lives-the-dream came round for a light ladies' lunch and declared that my melon was better than hers. Did I admit its provenance? Did I hell! And I hope she hasn't got her reading glasses on now or the cat is out of the bag. Went round to another dear friend's for drinks and did, sheepishly, admit that my offering of salted almonds was from That Shop, as the conversation had turned to such matters. Apart from a sharp intake of breath, I think I more or less got away with it.

Of course, it won't be possible to enjoy Lidl for long. It'll be another Primark. One minute we're revelling in cheap T-shirts, the next we are, quite rightly, flaying ourselves over sweatshop children in Asia. The stories will start coming out about just how they get mangoes for 37p, and then one simply won't be able to say Wow, that's cheap without knowing, Wow, that's total exploitation. Until then, I think I shall keep slinking in there. Well, with so many hungry lawyers to feed, I don't have that much choice. And I can't resist just a Lidl bit more.