Sunday, 21 December 2008

Glad Tidings

My loves, I bring you glad tidings - there is a Father Christmas! Yes, as unlikely as it seems, the Jolly Red-cheeked Rotund One is alive, kicking and bringing in, I do hope, a decent wage - at Southwark Council! I know this because I have just been let off a parking fine and there is no other rational explanation.

The story started way, way back in the summer - remember, those times long ago when hedge funds were something only impoverished gardeners talked about and you could pop into Woolworths any day of the week for pick 'n' mix, without being coshed over the head by rabid grannies desperate to get their mitts on the last Best of Val Doonican CD in civilisation.

It was in these halcyon days that the treasures and I zoomed to delightful Peckham to watch Wild Child, which, if you have any sense, you will have given a wide berth to. Ostensibly, I was going because one of the daddies from Child One's long ago NCT group had a part in the film - Jason, you were fabulous! - but of course, in reality I was taking the dears because I have a very soft spot for any old junk movie. I shall be off to see Twilight with them in a minute ...

Anyway, we parked as near as we could to the cinema, which involved broaching a carpark of unparalleled dankness. In adorable Peckham, you would have thought, car park owners would invest in the odd light and would splash a bit of paint around. But no. The place was dark, full of looming concrete pillars and matching menacing shadows, even on a summer's evening. Not the place to linger with tender young children around. I got a ticket - but the machine cut off the time at 7.30 pm, even though I was still merrily shovelling in coins. I tried again, knowing the film would finish late - and the machine cut off again at 7.30. Oh well, I thought - any warden will know I tried my best and paid over the odds, and the machine is clearly faulty. I didn't investigate the dark corners of the carpark for other machines as I had no wish to disturb the dear crack addicts/muggers/stabbers as they went about their business.

Sure enough, when we came back after a wonderful evening's entertainment, a parking fine, or Penalty Charge Notice, adorned my windscreen. I did not do my usual act, of falling to my knees, wondering why God has cursed me, and beseeching the fates to take my soul now this minute, as I had no desire to alarm the children over-much and, besides, the ground was filthy and would have ripped my tights.

Many exciting letters to and fro with dear Southwark then ensued, with them inviting me pressingly to the county court to settle the matter, while I declined with regrets, and referred them to their tiresome statutory duty to provide working ticket machines, rather than spend their every waking minute arguing with me. Ah, all those hours closeted with lawyers have certainly paid off. And certainly helped.

And now, just when I need it most, Santa himself has stepped off his sleigh at this busy time of year to cancel my PCN. Thank you, thank you, Santa, and I was always sure that it was really your reindeers' footprints in the butter.

By the by, Child Two asked me the other day, as I opened the post, 'why do you get so many Christmas cards from lawyers, Mummy?' Sigh. My little ones do ask good questions. My resolution for 2009 is to have fewer cards from lawyers, and more from people.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Peckham Puma update

My darlings, just a quickie today, as True Love used to say (sniff, sniff, sniff ....). I thought you might like to see the very responsible coverage the Streatham Guardian gave of the ravening beastie in my back garden:

Do have a look, my dears. It comes complete with an adorable action shot of dearest Jumbo, doing his utmost to protect us from the hound or whatnot, and exciting quotes from one of the neighbours, Madeleine, though personally I think it's naughty of her to hog the limelight, as it's my puma, not hers. And she seems to have a rabbit, too ...the cheek!

I'm a bit tangled up in wrapping paper just now, but a new post will be along in a minute ....xx

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Abercrombie and Fit

Well, my dears, last weekend I finally decided my babies were grown up enough for Abercrombie and Fitch. A sensitive moment in any mother's life, this - a passing of the baton, if you will. Though of course I didn't take the treasures to the shop. Oh no, after the stories I've heard, I thought I'd better check it out myself first.

Off I went, and by the time I'd finished searching for other essentials (all right, I admit, the odd little nugget of choc might have slipped into my bag from nearby Fortnum and Mason ...) the skies were inky black and the shoppers were getting restive. There may be a crunch on, but tell that to 4,000 disgruntled shoppers, none of whom have factored in the 3,999 other shoppers getting right in their way.

I veered off Piccadilly in search of Burlington Gardens, and trawled along past various swanky stores, noticing vaguely that there seemed to be a commotion ahead. Gradually, it dawned on me that the commotion was the Abercrombie and Fitch shop. The road seemed to be blocked off by great swarms of teenagers. Outside the premises was a red rope barrier, like those guarding swanky nightclubs, complete with menacing looking bouncers, all dressed in black with strange bluetooth headsets clamped to their shaved craniums. In front of the shop and snaking all the way back onto Piccadilly was a queue of sighing girl teens, a cloud of Impulse and hairspray destroying the ozone all around them. Meanwhile, posturing before the doors themselves was a half-naked teenage boy. Yes, with his shirt off, displaying - I'm afraid I did notice - a perfectly toned, evenly browned, slightly sheeny carcass. Yes, more than a bit like the turkey we Mummies fantasise about yanking out of the oven on Christmas day.

A very strange business indeed. This half-clad lad, it turns out, is a sort of human billboard for Abercrombie and Fitch. Buy the hoodie, get the body, as it were. See the logic? No, me neither. But at least the nation's teens will be wearing nice warm sweatshirts as they slump in front of their tellies, convinced they now have washboard tums, if A and F have their way.

Back to the shop, where I was still puzzled. Were the girls queueing to meet the half-naked boy? Or to get into the shop? If it was the latter, there was no way I was going to join in the wait. I pushed past the bouncers and stomped into the premises, already annoyed. Once inside, I looked around, blinking in the half-light, wondering what on earth was going on. Either A and F are incredibly energy conscious, using even lower wattage bulbs than Ikea, or they are purposefully trying to extend the nightclub conceit even inside. Of course, as soon as I started trying to locate Christmas gifts for the treasures, I saw the problem with this. Apart from being irritating, it also renders it virtually impossible to choose a ridiculously over-priced sweatshirt, as you just can't see the colours. But, by this time, I was almost past caring, and determined not to come back. Ever. Did I mention the thumping pop music? Or the great gaggles of dimwitted teens clogging the place up so you can barely move? It was now or never. I grabbed two hoodies and asked a perfectly toned and turned-out assistant where the till was. 'Turn right at the naked man and join the queue,' the child smirked. 'Would you like your photo taken with the naked man?' he asked. 'Not even, ' I said, with all the dignity I had left, 'if he begged me.'

With that, I pushed and shoved my way to the till queue, obediently turning left at another perfectly basted specimen of muscled boyhood, waiting ten minutes in pulsatingly loud semi-darkness, for the privilege of being ripped off to the tune of £70 each for the hoodies! My God, I've made some sacrifices for my children - my body and my career spring to mind - but this may be the ultimate. I just hope they're happy on Christmas Day. Sniff.