Tuesday, 6 October 2009

A very moving makeover


My lovely darling readers,


Don't tell anyone, but I've had the odd nip and tuck, and now, well, frankly I'm gorgeous. You'll find the new me at http://www.dulwichdivorcee.com/.

Please update your URL thingies, and come and join me for more adventures.

Lots of love,

DDx

Writer's Block

You know you have writer's block when:
1. You do little sums in your head to work out how many words you've already written and how many you still have to go before you hit the target of 500 a day.
2. These little sums get more and more complicated and start to involve calculators, square roots and counting long words as two or, in the case of antidisestablishmentarianism, as three. And that's a word that crops up surprisingly often in my book. Which is a little odd, as it's chicklit, not a critique of the 19th century High Church movement.
3. You find yourself welcoming the Ocado man like a long-lost friend and try to start a long chat with the words, 'lovely weather we're having!'. Then you notice it's raining.
4. The idea of clearing out the cellar becomes curiously compelling. That spider phobia? Yep, it's vanished.
5. The very act of opening up your novel gives you an irresistible thirst for tea. Then you realise that, whoops, you're out of teabags and, before you know it, you're in the middle of Sainsbury's studying the, erm, white wine section. Is it chardonnay o'clock yet?
6. You tell everyone not to ring you between 9 and ten. Then, when the phone goes, you leap on it and chat away to the double glazing sales lady. Eventually, she puts the phone down on you ....
7. You spend the whole day on Twitter, telling everyone you've got writer's block. But that doesn't seem to appy to those 140 characters, now does it?
8. You actually encourage the cat to come and sit on your computer keyboard. You can't possibly disturb her now she's settled down. She looks so cute!
9. As it's raining outside, her little wet paws short-circuit your ancient computer and blow the whole lot up. And you're glad!
10. You're just thinking of your 499th word, once the computer mender has left, when you catch sight of the clock. 3.20! Yikes, got to get the girls. Damn, and it was all going so well today too .....oh well, there's always tomorrow .....

Monday, 5 October 2009

Underlying health issues

My heart goes out to the parents of the poor 14-year-old girl who died after her cervical cancer jab last week. I can't imagine how awful it must be to face the death of a beloved daughter. My own Child One, on the cusp of 14 now, is such a delight all of a sudden that I can hardly bear to part with her for the obligatory every-other-weekend. The idea of eternity without her gentle smile just makes me cry. Though she still has (deeply) childish moments, I can see the lovely young woman she'll become. And she has a fabulous figure, waist-length blonde hair and endless legs, grrrr.

The whole cervical cancer injection thing is a worry, as Child Two is coming up fast to the jabbing age. The girl who died (I don't want to include her name as, if she were my daughter, I don't think I'd want it bandied about by unknown bloggers) turned out to have 'underlying health problems,' a favourite Government phrase which I find deeply sinister. In her case, it does seem as though the injection had little to do with her tragic death, but of course it's made me question the whole business.

Has the Government really tested this innoculation thoroughly? Is it using a generation of 13 and 14 year old girls as guinea pigs? A lot of girls at Child One's school seemed to suffer side effects. I did put it down, at the time, to girly-girly hysteria, though Child One herself did complain of a sore arm for days. At the time of the second injection, she had a slight temperature and had been staying with Mr X. He urged her to tell the nurse she wasn't well, and the injection was postponed - to my fury at the time, as Mr X had gaily left me with the lovely job of contacting the local NHS Trust, finding the right person, setting up an alternative appointment within the statutory 6 week period and, of course, chauffeuring Child One to and from it. In the end, I managed to wangle an injection at the school with some year 10 girls, who were much less prone to shrieking, and as a result she had no residual soreness after the jab.

While I cursed Mr X roundly at the time for messing things up, I now look back and am hugely relieved that Child One didn't have the injection while she wasn't 100 per cent well. Who's to say that she couldn't have become the first statistic, with a Government spokesperson intoning solemnly that she had 'underlying health issues'?. Will Child Two be having the injection next year? I'm not sure.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Banking on it

Eventually I had to fight myself out of the cosy embrace of the Dog Who Came In From the Cold and trudge to the Barclays &*$%£ Bank in the Village, to present myself in person to be chastised for forgetting my codes, my mother's maiden name and my full postal address - and also to beg for a cheque book so I could actually spend my own money on such essentials as Child One's bassoon lessons (Why? Why am I putting the neighbours, Child Two, the cat and the neighbours through this? Why??).

The door to the bank now has a special entry portal, like the transporter bay in Star Trek but much less interesting, so even getting in took some time and patience. I then joined a queue which seemed to be made of all the misfits in Dulwich - I had no idea there were so many - and I spent a while wondering if I was becoming one. We all shuffled round, and I thought I was nearly, nearly getting to the front of the queue, when the man before me produced a great sheaf of small plastic bags from his ruck sack, each containing, of course, a selection of one and five penny pieces with which to pay all his utility bills. I was sinking into a glazed-eyed, slack-jawed pre-coma phase by the time he seemed to have finished, having got through gas, electricity, water, phone, telly .....and it took some effort for me to regain enough consciousness to plod forward a little, when he suddenly got out a note, to which Blu-Tack had been pre-applied, and proceeded to stick it to the cashier's window. It is a measure of how deeply bored I had been that I was actually quite excited at the prospect that this might be some sort of hold-up. Did the note have 'put all the money in a bag - Unmarked Notes only!' written on it? All the dispirited queue perked up. Instead of dying of queuitis, we all now had an outside chance of getting on the London round-up at the end of the News at Ten. I had already pictured it all, the headlines in the Standard, 'plucky divorcee raises alarm at bank heist,' 'brave well-preserved 40-something mother of two floors armed robber,' even my acceptance speech as the Queen presented me with an OBE, 'it was just instinct, I did what anybody else would have done .....' I would only wince a tiny bit as she pinned the medal on my plaster cast ....

Alas, it soon became all too clear that the putative bank robber was just another nutter. The cashier peered hard at the note, then said, 'and did you just want the last two statements, then?' which rather rubbished all the customer's brave, though eccentric, efforts at discretion. He nodded, and we all sighed and went back to contemplating our shoes or the long list of not very exciting insurance services Barclays £$%& offers.

Mind you, by the time I finally got to the cashier, I had cheered up a bit. There's nothing like a display of bona fide oddness to perk me up, and I wondered whether the clerk would mention it. Of course, in true English style, she did not. She heard my tale of codes and surnames in sympathetic silence, absorbed my request for a cheque book, pressed two buttons on her computer and told me one was already on its way automatically and would be with me the following day.

So I needn't have abandoned my reading, my fireside or my beloved cupboards after all. But I'm rather glad I did, as it's not often you nearly participate in a bank robbery in Dulwich. Oh, and needless to say, the chequebook did not arrive in today's post.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Load of bankers

I'm settling down to read my next five chapters of The Dog Who Came In From the Cold, next to my cosy little fire, and right in front of my delectable alcove cupboards which are CLOSED and hiding the hideous telly. Things simply couldn't be much better .......except, of course, that as ever, a vile bluebottle has flown into the pale pink ointment of my life. This time, it's Barclays &*$£^! Bank.

I simply wanted to order some cheque books. Granted, I am probably the only person in the known universe still using these, and only because the girls' school continues to demand cheques for the most piffling sums (£3.50 for a Bollywood dance workshop! £7 for a trip to the British Museum! But doesn't it all sound bliss? And Child One is going on a visit to Cadbury World soon, I'm so jealous I may have to embarrass her terminally by stowing away on the coach and eating the place dry).

Ok, so there I am attempting to get a new cheque book, to keep up the steady stream of small payments to an educational establishment that clearly doesn't need them. First, I scrabble through the cheque book itself to see if there's a tear-off request stub, as in days of yore. Nope. Then I log in to my account online, no mean feat as Barclays requires a Krypton Factor-like row of hoops to be jumped through, including sticking your cashpoint card into a hand-held 'pinsentry' machine to get a unique code to key into the right bit on the computer screen ......yawn, the whole procedure seems to go on for days. And if you slip once on the keyboard, it's right back to the start with you.

I scan the whole of the online bank, and there's nowhere to order cheque books. Right, it's time to speak to a real person. I ring the telephone banking service. The automated voice asks for my 'five digit registration code.' What? Another code?? If I ever knew this code, it was in a different life. I'm a bit worried that I'll simply be cut off, as a substandard account holder, but I press on, and eventually get through to a genuine voice. But, as I have flunked the code test, I am treated like a naughty schoolchild who's produced inadequate homework, or possibly like a rather ineffectual bank robber. Two security questions are fired at me - my mother's maiden name and my full address. Well, finally, I think, I really can't go wrong now. I may be useless with codes, but I can certainly remember my own address and the maiden name which I had a lucky escape from.

'I'm sorry, madam, but you've answered one of those questions wrongly. No, I can't tell you which one. But you'll now have to present yourself at a branch. No, you can't ring in again, as you've failed the security test.'

Failed a test! Moi? The shame. I may never live it down. I shall have to slink into the branch in the Village and hope no-one sees me. I wonder what they'll do to me there? The dunce's cap? Standing in the corner for half an hour? Even, yikes, the naughty step?

So, yes, I am taking my mind off the ordeal in store by reading lovely Alexander McCall Smith's latest gem. Already, I've warmed to the MI6 agent, Angelica, as she went to my university, St Andrews, though of course I feel rather miffed that no-one, during my four year career there, ever once approached me to be a spy. Perhaps my well-known tendency to blab uncontrollably after half a glass of Leibfraumilch (these were the dark days before I discovered Chardonnay) worked against me, or perhaps it was simply that I wasn't studying Russian, like Angelica. But I manage to get over my chagrin at this snub by the mighty forces of Intelligence, and I read on.

I am loving the way that the cast of characters has already started to entwine a little, reminding me slightly of Anthony Powell's Dance to the Music Of Time, though Dog does it with a sense of self-depracating humour and a slightly shuffling, snuffling, doggy gait, unlike Powell's stately, rather terrifying pavane. Possibly it's the reference to Poussin in chapter 5, A Nice Boy that's made me think of Powell. There is, as yet, no glimpse of a character as unique and truly memorable as Widmerpool or even of Pamela Flitton on the horizon, though it's early days.

Hmmm, Dog is proving a delicious distraction from care, just what we all need these days. Highly recommended. Do have a look online. And let's all keep our mind off bankers. Grrrr ....

Friday, 25 September 2009

A dream come true

Ladies and gentlemen, I have a dream.

It's not about peace and harmonee for the whole world, I'm sad to say, though I'm perfectly happy to get behind that as and when. No, it's a simpler, purer dream.

My dream is to shut my TV inside a cupboard.

I've always had a thing about the ugliness of tellies. When they stuck out a mile at the back and weighed four tonnes, I truly hated them. Now that they have gone all flat screen and slinky, I still hate them. When they're turned off, their dense blackness, usually framed in silver, reminds me of the sinister, matt nothingness of a Malevich canvas. When they're on, they dominate the room and it's impossible to look elsewhere.

I've always had a sneaking interest in those bits of furniture you can buy to shut tellies away in. While we were married, Mr X firmly quashed any notion of buying such an item, proclaiming them vulgar. I'm sure he was right, though nothing, surely, is as vulgar as a telly itself.

It's not that I'm pretending for one second that I'm not addicted to telly. Every evening I can be found, Chardonnay in hand, watching hours of crap, my eyes as big and round as Mia Farrow's at the end of Purple Rose of Cairo. I'll watch anything and everything - Holby City, To The Manor Bowen, Desperate Housewives, Neighbours .....really, I'm not fussy. It's just that I sort of want to pretend that I am, and having the telly in a cupboard would really help. A large part of me wants to live in a Jane Austen fantasy parlour, embroidering daintily away while engaging in sparkling repartee with, of course, Mr D.

Obviously, I am a sad, deluded woman, but luckily these days I am free to pursue my delusions to their logical conclusion. Oh, the joys of divorce! These are so sparse that, whenever I come across one, I know I have to celebrate it.

Enter Julian, of the London Fitted Wardrobe Company. Julian was recommended by a friend, after he built beautiful alcove cupboards in her sitting room. She said excitedly, 'he did a great job - and he's nice to have around!'

Five days into the job, I can confirm that she was absolutely right on both points. The house has been chaos, with books, dust, nervous cats, odd bits of timber and grumpy children lying about the place. Normally, for someone with my compulsion to tidy stuff away before even I have finished using it, this would involve sky-high stress levels. But Julian, with a lovely sunny nature, a way with wood and an attention to detail that makes even me look sloppy, has made it all so easy. I knew he was the man for the job when he prised a bit of paint off the wall (in a spot that wouldn't show!!) and took it to the paintshop to have the exact same shade made up.

Julian used to be in IT in the City, but after a year off travelling with his wife, decided commuting was for suckers. He launched three potential new careers; IT consultancy, wedding photography and cupboard making. The cupboards have won out. In recession-hit Dulwich, which is now embracing the staycation and the idea that paying for a lick of paint beats shelling out thousands on stamp duty, Julian is suddenly more popular than eyebrow threading and is booked up till I don't know when.

We have had our moments. When I showed Julian the doorknobs I'd chosen, he lifted an eyebrow, 'girly knobs! Your husband didn't have much of a say, did he?' he said. I wondered for a second. Did I want to go into the whole Mr X/divorce/True Love business? Erm, no I didn't. But, as the week wore on, things came out ....Julian laughed and said it reminded him of the time he told a client her husband would be really pleased with the cupboards, only for the lady's lesbian lover to arrive home ....

As we speak, the last coat of eggshell in the precise shade of the walls is going on the cupboard doors. The girls hate the idea of a telly in a cupboard. So, probably, does True Love. Mr X would doubtless see the whole project as further proof of my utter insanity, not that he needs it, of course. Even the cat is eyeing me strangely. But I am very happy. I have a dream. It's not, perhaps, the dream I once turned my life upside down for, but who cares - it's my very own dream, and it's coming true.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

'And the winner is ............'


*Blush* The adorable Brit in Bosnia/Fraught Mummy has lavished me with the Zombie Chicken award. Dearest Fraught, you shouldn't have, but I'm so glad you did!

For the very few out there who are not yet aware of the true significance of the award, I reproduce its mission statement: "The blogger who receives this award believes in the Tao of the zombie chicken – excellence, grace and persistence in all situations, even in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. These amazing bloggers regularly produce content so remarkable that their readers would brave a raving pack of zombie chickens just to be able to read their inspiring words. As a recipient of this world-renowned award, you now have the task of passing it on to at least 5 other worthy bloggers. Do not risk the wrath of the zombie chickens by choosing unwisely or not choosing at all."

Well, obviously I would not wish to antagonise a pack of zombie chickens. A very frightening prospect and, as I suspect they are not organic chickens, it could easily cause riots in Dulwich Village. I shall, therefore, as quickly as I can, pass on this tremendous honour. Who better to receive it than English Mum, who actually keeps chickens and (whisper it softly) also makes a delicious chicken pie? I would also like to award it to Rural Villager, who I'm sure has had a few brushes with chickens in her time, to Exmoor Jane, who has made a fantastic success of country life (unlike a few Mail on Sunday columnists we wouldn't dream of naming), to Hadriana's Treasures, who probably lives quite near a chicken or two (see my sure grasp of geography) and, lastly, but not leastly, to the fantabulous Linda, who could eat a live chicken for breakfast and I'm definitely not even going to mention plucking.

It was the lovely Linda her very self who sent me this "Call Yourself a Writer?" meme:

Which words do you use too much in your writing? Well obviously, I over-use obviously, obviously. And, of course, there's of course, of course.

Which words do you consider overused in stuff you read? I love other people's words.

What's your favourite piece of writing by you? Would have to be my novel, Hot Chocolate to be published in March in German by the uber-wonderful Ulstein, with the title Schokohertz. I don't believe I've mentioned it for, oh, a month ......other than that, I did do some fabulous interviews when I worked on the Daily Express, though I say so myself.

What's your favourite piece of writing by someone else? Nothing equals the first naughty sentence of Pride and Prejudice. That Jane Austen, she was a one. Otherwise, anything, any day, by my Disney 7 chums. Six different approaches to life, every single one brilliant.

Regrets, do you have a few? Is there anything you wish you hadn't written? Oh, gosh, yes. I'm a terror for replying in haste and repenting at leisure. Worst is pressing 'reply all'. Shudder. And that's just email. Many, many a text should never, ever have been pinged across to True Love.

How has your writing made a difference? What do you consider your most important piece of writing? If my writing has made a difference (which is a point for debate), maybe occasionally it's cheered people up when I've made a joke that has worked. Someone did once say they'd wet themselves after reading one of my tales and that did give me a very warm glow of pride. I may ask Tena to sponsor me.

Name three favourite words Can I please have four? Serendipity, sussuration, cellar door. ...And three words you're not so keen on 'But you promised ....' (accompanied by hours of whining).

Do you have a writing mentor, role model or inspiration? I had a fantastic English teacher at school, Mrs Lindsay, who had very thick, wavy dark hair and quite an air of mystery. I loved the way she would take great bunches of her hair and throw it behind her to emphasise a point. I've modelled myself on her ever since, with absolutely no success at all.

What's your writing ambition? To finish my second novel and get both books published in the UK.

I'd like to pass this on to other blogger/writer friends: Pottymummy Dulwich Mum Crystal Jigsaw Kate Morris Half Mum Half Biscuit

Whiffling Away

As we've come over all literary (and don't worry, I'm sure it won't last) did you see a little article in yesterday's Independent, entitled, 'Raise your brendice to a new lexicon'? It was all about a book called The Wonder of Whiffling, a compendium of quirky words from around the globe.

Obviously I am beyond sad, but it is the type of thing I love. Immediately one of the words, petrichor, meaning the smell of rain falling on dry soil, brought to mind Vermeer's beautiful painting, A View of Delft:



Can't you just smell the petrichor? I had the luck to see the original, nestled in the glorious Mauritshuis in The Hague, when I was still happily married about a million years ago. If you peer in very closely (risking the wrath of the curators) you can see that Vermeer has painted thousands of tiny pinpricks of white on the details of the buildings, which seem to break through the clouds and shine joyfully. I love the fact that he has caught such a subtle shift in weather, that moment after a shower when everything looks so dewy fresh and reborn. Storm clouds can, and do pass. I really ought to have that printed on a T-shirt. Maybe then I'd believe it.

On a more prosaic note, one of the other words in The Wonder of Whiffling was the blissful shubi, an Australian word for someone who buys all the surfing gear, but doesn't actually surf. We may not have the waves in Dulwich, but we certainly have an awful lot of shubis - chaps who brandish their squash racquets, yet are never seen on a court, and ladies, of course, who do the school run in their pilates gear but are somehow strangers to making that core connection. Not me, of course - I'm just off to my class. In a minute. Or two. Er .....shubi doobi do, anyone?

Monday, 21 September 2009

Booked Up

Very excited as I have been asked to join the Telegraph's online book club. I started my journalistic career, oooh, 400 years ago, on the Peterborough column of the mighty Telegraph. The paper had just moved to Docklands but had one foot still very much in Fleet Street. My colleagues on Peterborough, although all in their twenties like me, had the sort of surnames that fall with a mighty, whooshing thud when you name-drop them, whereas I would introduce myself and everyone would seem puzzled and say, 'sorry, who?' The boys looked as though they had been born in their three piece suits and one of the girls, it was rumoured, had left Oxford because her fellow students drank tea out of mugs, not cups and saucers. I thought this was probably untrue until I took a call one morning from her mother, who said, 'darling X won't be in today, it's very windy.'

It was a delightful, all too brief interlude and, as I adore book clubs almost as much as I love the Telegraph, I was thrilled to say yes to reading The Dog That Came In From the Cold, the second book in the Corduroy Mansions series by Alexander McCall Smith, of No 1 Ladies Detective Agency fame. Corduroy Mansions seems like an absolute home from home for Telegraph folk (though I suppose Tweed Mansions might be even better) and I am looking forward enormously to starting The Dog and meeting the whole cast of characters. A huge part of McCall Smith's genius seems to lie in creating these effortless worlds and populating them with people whose quirkiness is only equalled by their charm - so Telegraph it's not true.

I can't quite believe I've never written about book clubs before. I was in one for a few years in Brussels and then, as soon as I moved to the UK, I scouted around for another and found my current group. I did have the idea, over the summer, of making a little box with the book of the moment, so people could read it too, if they felt moved to. Now, though, I think we should all read The Dog That Came In From The Cold together. Let me know what you think .....

Friday, 18 September 2009

A good tagging

I have been tagged by the wonderful, irrepressible Linda of gotyourhandsful and havealovelytime. Linda is a great writer, and one of the kindest people I know, so I have no hesitation at all in nicking one of her best lines, to announce that I do love a good tagging.

This tag is all about favourite film characters. Hmm, it got me thinking. My favourite ever film roles? Naturally, my mind wandered to Bergman and the early works of Bunuel, while I pondered long and hard, of course, on the epic Fitzcaraldo ........but no, there was no contest really. I saw again, in my mind's eye, that fair expanse of English lawn, with a big house mistily in the background, and a certain someone striding forward ....

1.Yes, I'm afraid standing proudly at Number One in my list is Colin Firth as Mr Darcy, in that drenched shirt and those shiny leather boots, wading out of the pond at Pemberley and into the arms of Elizabeth Bennett. New Prides and Prejudices may come and go, and I did even quite like Bride and Prejudice and Lost in Austen, but no one does it quite like Colin. Sigh.

2. I adore the film Some Like It Hot and, in it, Marilyn Monroe is at her most incandescently beautiful - and she's very, very funny.

3. Harrison Ford in Blade Runner. What can I say? I'm just a sucker for a strong man. Harrison doesn't even have Pemberley to whisk me home to but I'd still jump up into the cab of his truck at the end every single time ....

4. Natassja Kinski as Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles. I saw this film when I was very young and the perfidy of Angel Clare still shocks me, even though I've now seen worse in real life. How could he abandon his Tess? Interestingly, I quite recently came across this poem by Thomas Hardy which has quite a different view of fallen women ....

5. Marisa Tomei plays a brilliant cameo in the film My Cousin Vinnie, as the world's most unlikely - but most convincing - expert witness. A real 'you go, girl' moment.

6. Audrey Tatou in Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amelie Poulain. A quirky gem. When I first settled down to watch this when I was living in Brussels, a large rat ran across the floor, signalling a huge infestation which took months to quell, and a very unpleasant chapter in my life. Despite this, I have a soft spot for Amelie's optimism and wish I possessed it myself.

7. Ralph Fiennes in The English Patient. I found the book very annoying but the film, from the first shots of the undulating gold of the desert, is beautiful and moving. And, of course, it's the story of a doomed love affair. I'm like a moth to a flame.

8. Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. Okay, I know I'm not supposed to admit to liking stuff like this, but yes, I am a hopeless romantic and I find this simple Cinderella tale curiously compelling. Of course, some of its messages are rather curious - become a hooker and meet the man of your dreams, for instance - but who could resist Julia Robert's watermelon smile? And Richard Gere is delish.

9. Richard Burton in Anne of A Thousand Days. Another alpha male, this time one with a murderous glint in his eye. I just fall for them every time. I saw this as an eleven year old and fell madly in love with the Tudors and history in general. Plus is that a dagger in his codpiece, or is he just very, very pleased to see us?

10. The Lion King. There are a lot of Disney films which I adore, but I've always particularly loved this one. The idea of the circle of life is so pleasing and helps children to understand and come to terms with a lot, the wildebeest stampede is edge-of-your-seat scary and Timon and Pumba are irresistible. What's that you say? Mufasa is yet another alpha male? You know, that just hadn't occured to me at all .....

Part of Linda's instructions were to pass the tag along, so I now hand the baton to some lovely bloggy friends:

Chic Mama
Hot Cross Mum
Mumplustwo
Angel Bluestocking
Geekymummy

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Signs of improvement

I do feel guilty for inflicting my last whinge on you. Blimey, I shall have to do double the blessing counting if we're to get through even the beginning of autumn in any sort of shape. Thanks for all your kind words and I'll try not to do it again. I was going to counteract all that yucky self-pity with some lovely pictures today, of the roses blooming in my gorgeous little garden, but of course it's lashing with rain and gloomier than Gordon Brown.

Instead, I'm presenting you with this chirpy list of advertising hoardings from my dear friend E in Brussels. I believe I'm right in saying that she, or her spies, have seen every single one of these signs with their very own eyes.

Sign over a gynecologist's office:'Dr. Jones, at your cervix.'**************************
On a maternity room door:'Push. Push. Push.'**************************
In a podiatrist's office:'Time wounds all heels.'**************************
On a septic tank truck:Yesterday's Meals on Wheels**************************
On a plumber's truck:'We repair what your husband fixed.'**************************
On another plumber's truck:'Don't sleep with a drip. Call your plumber.'**************************
On a church's bill board:'7 days without God makes one weak.'**************************
At a tyre store, 'Invite us to your next blowout.'**************************
On an electrician's truck:'Let us remove your shorts.'**************************
At an optometrist's office:'If you don't see what you're looking for, you've come to the right place.'**************************
On a taxidermist's window:'We really know our stuff.'**************************
On a fence:'Salesmen welcome! Dog food is expensive!'**************************
At a car dealership:'The best way to get back on your feet - miss a car payment.'**************************
Outside a car exhaust store:'No appointment necessary. We hear you coming.'**************************
In a vet's waiting room:'Be back in 5 minutes. Sit! Stay!'**************************
In a sestaurant window:'Don't stand there and be hungry; come on in and get fed up.'**************************
In the front yard of a funeral home:'Drive carefully. We'll wait.'**************************
And don't forget the sign at a radiator shop:'Best place in town to take a leak.'**********************

Friday, 11 September 2009

No Fun Mum

Tough talking at Divorce Towers yesterday. I was having a chat with the girls about life, growing up and stuff, and they were entering that fantasy realm, which I love, planning their future lives. Child Two used to say she would live next door to me but I notice she's thinking of the other side of London these days. They have very different views of what they want to be when they grow up, both with quite plausible career paths mapped out, though neither, sadly, wants to keep me in the luxury I so clearly deserve by becoming a plastic surgeon or a lawyer. Probably just as well as I am right off lawyers at the moment and I'm not ready for surgery yet. Well, not quite.

Then Child One rather surprised me by saying, '.....and, of course, I want to be a fun mum.'

I should have known, from her tone, not to follow this particular conversational hare but I crashed forward. 'Am I not a fun mum, then?' I asked brightly, obviously expecting a torrent of reassurance.

Dead silence.

Eventually, Child Two piped up. 'Well, you can be a bit fun. Sometimes.'

Huh!

Then, probably because I was quite hurt, though I was trying to be brave and not show it too much, we ended up in a big argument and I shouted rather a lot, which I never really do. So then they felt they were justified in stomping out, yelling back in delightfully sarcastic teenage tones, 'yeah, you're so much fun, Mum.' Harrumph.

Obviously I've been thinking about it all since then and I have to say they are right, I am no fun. It's partly circumstances - the divorce, though I brought it all on myself, or on everyone around me, was the absolute definition of No Fun At All - squared. Relations with everyone concerned (ie Mr X, though of course I never mention him now that this blog is squeakier clean than a jumbo tub of hand sanitiser) have been, at very best, frosty ever since. The fall-out from the divorce and subsequent two years of psychotherapy have also been zero fun, involving me facing up to the fact that I was depressed, analysing the causes of the depression (deep shudder) and then, trying to do something about the depression, with mixed results. Unfortunately, I wasn't even brought up myself to have fun - my childhood was horrible (though whose wasn't?) and fun was definitely something other people were having, somewhere else, a long way away.

Child Two once said, when asked if she had had fun seeing a close relative, 'Oh no, they don't approve of fun,' which rather sums it up. I, on the other hand, do approve of fun - it's just that I'm not sure how to get it.

Of course, there are problems with the relentless pursuit of fun. As the parent who does all the crap - the homework, the music practice, making a borderline sick/malingering child go to school, forcing the writing of thank-you letters - I can't be the girls' best friend as well as the slavemaster-in-chief. And I don't want to be one of those sad 40-somethings who tries to be taken for their daughters' chums or, worse, desperately wants people to say, 'oh, I thought you were sisters.' I am their mother and, much as I sometimes want to put my feet up and let them do what the hell they like, I can't. I am the one in charge, and that's that.

Mind you, though they may well think they endure endless suffering, I do manage to sneak the odd bit of sheer, senseless pleasure into the girls' lives. Tomorrow, we are off to the wonderland that is the Glades shopping centre in Bromley, to try on every single thing in Top Shop, Dorothy Perkins and New Look. If that's not teenage fun, then I just don't know what is.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

The Horrible Tooth

Off to the dentist again for more torture. On the plus side (I am constantly counting my blessings now, in order to retrain my sad mind into a new, joyful bower. Blimey, there are so many pluses to count it's as bad as maths homework. Ooops, methinks that is not the right attitude) this means I get another chance to read the article in Red magazine which has set me on the path to eternal cheerfulness. On the minus side (there we go again!) I have to be at the actual dentist to do it.

Once I'm there, I'm in such a state of nerves that I can barely concentrate on the article. Three other friends lost jumbo fillings over the holidays, and the talk at the school gates has been of little else but crowns, onlays, injections and really enormous drills. I am the last to get my tooth fixed and am, frankly, all of a quiver.

Strange, because I spent forever having dental treatment as a child. I had a horribly overcrowded mouth and, because my parents didn't want me to have teeth out, it took seven years to drag all my recalcitrant tombstone choppers into vaguely normal positions in my head, using such methods as a strange head brace with metal wires fitting into my molars, train-track braces and a retainer I wore nervously for years, just in case everything moved back the moment I wasn't looking. On the plus side (there we go again), I used to go to the Royal Dental Hospital, which was then in Leicester Square, as yet uncolonised by winos and addicts, and glamorously Up Town. I never hung around or did anything even vaguely interesting there, but did love the idea of being in central London, where something exciting was so much more likely to happen than in the sleepy suburb where I lived. Anyway, as a result of all that laborious toothwork, I thought I was completely immune from dental nerves.

This time, though, I really felt the full force of the unpleasantness of being helpless in a chair while someone sticks a whining metal probe into your face. It was partly that it was obviously the first day for the dental assistant, who alternated between hoovering up my tongue with her suction thingy, or dripping something nasty and cold (presumably my own collected drool) down my neck and right inside my jumper. It was also partly that this was the largest filling in the western world that had to be removed, as I spent my childhood drinking concentrated orange juice and don't remember owning a toothbrush until all the brace stuff started when I was 11.

On the way out, thank God I popped into the ladies, where I noticed the dentist had left a rim of the dental putty used to make impressions for my lovely onlay all round my face. As the putty was blue, it had created an intriguing Bluebeard effect which I wasn't that anxious to parade around the mean streets of Herne Hill.

Just in case you think I have slipped back into my naughty negative old thought patterns on all of this, let me tell you that I am counting a very large blessing indeed. While my schoolgate chums have been bemoaning the expense of their porcelain veneers, I am getting my own rather more basic silver falsie via the good old NHS. True, it will be a big shiny lump of metal and will probably make me look like James Bond's least prepossessing nemesis, Jaws, but in these straitened times gratis lumps of metal are blessings indeed.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Listing

Child one was at a sleepover last night. Sigh. Sleepovers are so different, now, from days of yore. Then, it was all Barbie nightdresses, watching Postman Pat and all in bed by a, gosh, it's so late, 9.30, with a giggling outbreak of 'midnight' sweetie eating at about 10, followed by loud snores until breakfast, which alas was always at the crack of dawn. Now, my daughter, newly transformed into a glamazon who is barely a whisker shorter than me, wafts into a charmed circle of willowy, daunting young women, all beautifully made up, wrinkle-free, destined for high-powered careers at the bar and all looking at me in a mildly pitying way. I suddenly realise I haven't looked in a mirror since early this morning and my natty new Orla Kiely handbag clashes with my jumper. It's clear they will be up all night gently critiquing my outfit and every garment owned by their own mothers. I also know that the hosting mother will have to put dynamite under them to get them up by ten. Then a particularly beautiful girl drifts across to me and says the dread words,'my mum reads your blog.'

Yikes! Though this is rather thrilling and flattering, for some reason, it makes me feel as though I have been caught behind the bikesheds, doing something unspeakable. Which is ridiculous. I was never caught and, besides, of late this blog is as fully sanitised as a scalpel in a hospital without MRSA, swine flu or C difficile. Erm, so that's a hospital outside the UK. Oh, but you know what I mean. You could absolutely eat your dinner off my blog these days. I never moan any more about Mr X, TL, his offspring, my offspring, the horrors of divorce or even my washing. No, absolutely not. From now on, it's full on gratitude all the way.

Speaking of which, I am slightly being held up in my quest for total happiness and inner peace by my inability to fix on a notebook to fill with my lists of blessings. I could use an old one, but somehow I feel only a really special new one will do. And, if I go to the special notebook shop in the village, I will inevitably end up buying armfuls of things which Mr X and TL would unite in condemning as useless junk but which I, and all womankind, recognise as essentials without which no home can truly function. Scented candles and cushions, obviously.

In the meantime, I am idly listing my gratitudes in my head, which is pointless, because it gets all blurry and confused. Instead of my children, the health of all my loved ones, my wonderful friends, my beloved catty and my garden, it ends up as the health of my garden, my beloved loved ones (a tautology, surely) and my catty children. In any case, my affections are so changeable these days that if I did ever commit a list of loved ones to paper, certain names would keep on getting crossed out. Names beginning with T, I expect.

Oh, it's a tricky business, life. I might just put a little list in a shady corner of my blog so that we can all keep an eye on it.

The idea of lists reminds me, there are loads of lose ends I must tie up, to get all sorted and ready for the autumn. Yes, I know it's already started, but at least I am trying to get organised, all right?

So, in no particular order:

Huge congratulations to the beauteous English Mum on her rewedding, I wish I could have been there and know you will live happily ever after.

My lovely friend Erica at Littlemummy is having trouble with her links - go and see her fab interview with author Kathy Lette of Mad Cows fame

I have so far managed one go on the Wii Personal Trainer and must now be officially recognised as untrainable. So sorry, lovely Wii people. The girls enjoyed it though.

Would anyone like a Pampers Golden Sleep kit? It comes with a lovely soft blanky with lots of labels on, apparently babies really like them, plus money-off voucher and CD of incredibly soporific tunes. Just say in the comments section. I'm not sure how many are available so first come, first served.

I still love my HP printer, though it took weeks to get the right refill cartridges - I tried to do this like a normal person to see how efficient the system was, but stupidly filled in the wrong cartridge type. The cartridges arrived the next day but I couldn't use them. I sent them back and never heard another thing. Weeks later, I confessed my blunder to the lovely PR people who gave me the right cartridges. I would say the printer is quite heavy on ink usage, but in all other respects a winner. I am rather the dreading the inevitable day when the lovely HP folk will notice I still have it and demand it back.

I think that's it, I'm all squared off now. Just got to do my gratitude list ...well, maybe later. Not that I'm prevaricating, you understand. I can't prevaricate now, I just haven't got time. I'll do it tomorrow.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Happy Families

Well, my dearest ones, I am back. The holiday tally:

Mosquito bites on my face, causing me to swell up like a pekingese, two;
Enormous fillings which fell out while eating a chip which I lovingly cooked myself (don't you just adore self catering?), one;
Rows with stepchildren, one (but a vicious one and the children are tiny and cute as little buttons);
Spats with own children, too numerous and exhausting to mention;
Dirty washing to wrestle with, 84kg (the original 42 kg belonging to the girls, my very own 21kg of filth plus mysterious extra weight caused by toxic vapours in the suitcases).

First stop now I'm back was the dentist, to repair the cavernous whole in my upper-left-molar-D3-occluded, or whatever mumbo-jumbo it is that they always chant to their assistants when doing a check-up. Luckily, I have to wait ages for my appointment and chance upon August's copy of Red magazine in the waiting room. An article called 'glass half empty' catches my eye. I can't remember the name of the author, but I thought it was jolly good - probably because it echoes my own occasional attempts at positive thinking. Apparently, you see, the brain wears itself into grooves, rather like our feet, when we are forcing them to become accustomed to those evil Birkenstock sandals. There are the Birkenstocks, with cunningly attractive straps to lure you in, looking so wholesome and comfy. Yet walking in them is always, at first, like the poor Little Mermaid treading on knifes. Remind me again why they are trendy?

Anyway, I digress. Back to the article. The more you think downcast, depressive thoughts, the more the brain gets used to those, it says. But fear not! Before you become downcast and depressive about the very idea of having downcast and depressive thoughts and start the spiral of doom, there is hope. You can retrain yourself, and it only takes 21 days.

Twenty-one days of cheery, sun-sparkled thought, and I shall be a new woman.

Life is what it is - it's the way you look at it that makes the difference. In the article, our intrepid reporter tries various methods of getting happy, discards some, but sticks with two in particular - a Gratitude Book, in which she writes down her blessings, and the Thought Leap, where you jump from a stressful, no-win way of thinking into an alternative view. Her example of the latter was rushing to do a million things at once and ending up pretty frustrated. Instead of yelling or sobbing, she took herself out of the situation and said to herself, 'what a busy multi-tasker I am', and gave herself a smug little pat on the back. With the gratitude book, though she admitted it was pretty nauseating writing down all her blessings, she did end up feeling all grateful and happy, and reading the book afterwards had the same effect as writing in it. Meanwhile, stray sad thoughts were vanquished simply by looking at pictures of loved ones.

Right. Here I go. Let's reassess the holiday in a cheery new light. I can't pretend the mosquito bites were fantastic, but the swelling did have the lovely effect of smoothing out my angst-ridden features. It was, in fact, free botox, courtesy of two little winged beasties. Cracking my filling resulted in the trip to the dentist, the finding of the magazine and the new life of radiant happiness which is going to be mine in 20 short days' time. The row with the cute little stepchildren was a frank exchange of views which has helped us understand each other better (er, kind of). Discussions with my own offspring are a vital part of the letting-go process (letting them go a long, long way becomes newly tempting) and totally necessary. And the vast mountain ranges of malodorous washing currently flobbing about all over the kitchen? Erm, erm, they are a lovely concrete reminder of the way that I am currently putting my own thought processes through a 90 degree boil wash, with an added scoop of Oxy stain remover for luck.

Ok, that's better. Now I just have to find a Gratitude Book, arrange my face in a jolly but not too frightening smile, and prepare for happiness to burst upon me. I will play happy families - even if, sometimes, this family seems to be not so much blended, as liquidised.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Excess baggage

Yippee, the girls will be back tomorrow!

Not quite such yippee, they are bringing exactly 42kg of dirty washing with them.

Though a smidgeon of clothes washing was achieved at their first holiday stop, all that good work, brought about by constant drilling from me that they might mention to Mr X the concept of the washing machine, without him getting wind of the importance of the issue and going into reverse, they have since moved on to holiday destination number two, where there is no washing machine, and they have worn absolutely everything, they told me cheerfully.

And we are leaving the day after tomorrow for my holiday with the children. Which means that either I turn into a washing whirlwind the moment they get through the door, and resign myself to packing damp or frankly wet stuff that will smell, crease and probably do its damndest to go mouldy, or I accept the fact that I will be loading 42kgs of grubby kit onto a plane, only to have to wash it when I get on 'holiday'.

The washing frenzy is something I am not much inclined to contemplate; after 14 child-free days, I am in a strange grown-up zone where I think nothing of popping out for an impromptu drink or going to the movies on a week night and without organising a babysitter. I am not in a manic, washing-till-dawn, mode. I am laid back, I am zen.

Well, that's all a lie. I am, actually, just much too fat to rush around washing, as I have been stuffing peanuts night and day and now resemble nothing so much as one of those lovely bags of flour they used to have on Trumpton (I think) as milled by Windy Miller. There were four little ear-type protuberances, one at each corner of these sacks, which are like my limbs, standing out proud and useless from the enormous, round, peanut-rammed belly. Yum. There's no way I can get upstairs to hang out the washing, even if I could muster the energy to stuff it into the machine. Which I can't, so there.

Of course, it'll all be different when I actually get on holiday, when all my energy will come zipping back. It'll have to. The cherubs have had a fantastic time, going to sweet factories, kayaking, frolicking in Tuscan vineyards and the like. I shall have to get off my peanut-engorged arse and show them a good time if it kills me. Not that Mr X and I are in mortal combat over who gives the best holiday, or anything. Much. Actually, I really am thrilled that he's found them some great things to do, even though it sets the bar so high I can barely see over it.

Anyway, think of me on Saturday, when the nice BA check-in girl will ask me at Heathrow if I packed all the bags myself and if I have any toxic substances to declare. No, I didn't pack the offsprings' bags and, frankly, I wouldn't want to handle any of the contents even with tongs. And I certainly have no toxic substances to declare - oh, unless you count the 28 pairs of rancid socks, of course.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

The pits

I felt I really should alert you all to a scary new advert which lurched out of the TV at me last night. It featured two implausibly attractive young things, with long, golden limbs, cavorting about on a rug. You can picture it - they are carefree, gorgeous, they are so not fretting about whether they left the iron on upstairs or where the next mortgage payment is coming from. They are obviously In Love and it was all rather sweet, even though the girl was wearing the sort of weeny strappy top I haven't been able to get for at least twenty years, due to bras, gravity, bingo wings, odd little spurs of back flab squeezing out of said bras and now, of all things, an incipient crepey chest.

Then the girl turned to the boy in the ad and said - wait for it - words to the effect of 'which part of my body do you like best?'. At this point I lurched from my prone, peanut-eating position on the sofa, almost spilling my Chardonnay, to shout, 'no! No! Are you mad?'

Everyone knows you should never ask a man a leading question like that! Admittedly, the reason I know this particularly well is that I made a similar mistake earlier in the week - after all my years of experience, doh! - and am still wincing over my psychological bruises. It's not great when you don't get the right answer.

The girl then leaps up, exposing several hundred yards of tanned, silky thigh, and pirouettes around, asking the guy if he likes her bum, her boobs, etc ....it's really a bit of a questionable ad, now that I come to describe it. He shakes his head, she lies down again and finally he answers her, by wordlessly stroking her armpit.

Her armpit!!! I mean, WTF? As if it's not stressful enough keeping some sort of handle on the major trouble spots, like legs, stomach, breasts, chin, face, facial hair, nostril hair, other creeping bits of hair too vile to mention ....now we have to work on our bloomin' armpits as well!

This time, I'm simply not having it. All right, the ad was for a deoderant (Nivea I think) so some sort of glancing reference to armpits was, I suppose, inevitable. But I absolutely refuse to start stressing out over the less than beauteous state of my pits and be forced to treat them as yet another potential erogenous zone which needs regular preening. They are just armpits, so there.

Next time, I would suggest that the man turns to the girl in the ad and says, maybe in a jokey sort of way, 'any parts you think I ought to work on?' The girl could, by the very faintest movement of her eyes, indicate his groinage area. Hah! That would teach them what insecurity feels like.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Important Health Advice for Women

I'm indebited to my dear friend C for this vital information which all women should take very much to heart. Needless to say, she is a fully qualified doctor (of philosophy ..... or something):

"Do you have feelings of inadequacy? Do you suffer from shyness? Do you sometimes wish you were more assertive? If you answered yes to any of these questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist about Sauvignon Blanc.

Sauvignon Blanc is the safe, natural way to feel better and more confident about yourself and your actions. It can help ease you out of your shyness and let you tell the world that you're ready and willing to do just about anything. You will notice the benefits of Sauvignon Blanc almost immediately and, with a regimen of regular doses, you can overcome any obstacles that prevent you from living the life you want to live. Shyness and awkwardness will be a thing of the past and you will discover many talents you never knew you had. Stop hiding and start living.

Sauvignon Blanc may not be right for everyone. Women who are pregnant or nursing should not use it. However, women who wouldn't mind nursing or becoming pregnant are encouraged to try it.

Side effects may include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, incarceration, erotic lustfulness, loss of motor control, loss of clothing, loss of money, loss of virginity, delusions of grandeur, table dancing, headache, dehydration, dry mouth, and a desire to sing Karaoke and play all-night rounds of Strip Poker, Truth Or Dare, and Naked Twister.

WARNINGS:

* The consumption of Sauvignon Blanc may make you think you are whispering when you are not.
* The consumption of Sauvignon Blanc may cause you to tell your friend over and over again that you love them.
* The consumption of Sauvignon Blanc may cause you to think you can sing.
* The consumption of Sauvignon Blanc may make you think you can converse enthusiastically with members of the opposite sex without spitting.
* The consumption of Sauvignon Blanc may create the illusion that you are tougher, smarter, faster and better looking than most people."

Please feel free to share this important information with as many women as you feel may benefit! Now just imagine what you could achieve with a good Chardonnay .....

Monday, 10 August 2009

A weighty issue

Well, the girls have gone off on holiday, they're having a lovely time and inevitably, I've ripped open the chocolate peanuts. I said I wouldn't, and I lasted, oh, nearly six hours before tucking in. Sigh.

All right, so it's not the end of the world. Peanuts are packed with protein, chocolate contains iron, I know all this because I tell myself I'm not naughty and evil for eating too much of the wrong things. But, at the same time, it makes me feel like crap, giving in to my baser, chocoholic side and eating something which is, frankly, a bit low-rent. These aren't even nice chocolate peanuts, you see. They're Morrisons, and contain maybe 20 per cent cocoa solids - barely qualifying for the title 'chocolate', really. I might as well go and eat a block of lard.

I've had an odd relationship with food all my life. For reasons I won't bore you with (actually, I simply can't bear to write about it), I've always had a desire to hide my body and there's no better way, really, than with flab. Then again, occasionally, I've swung the other way and got very thin. The thing I find hardest is to maintain any sort of stable weight.

A lot of women suffer from the same problem. Some of them face up to it properly, as I really can't, and one of them is my lovely friend Linda, of http://www.gotyourhandsful.com/ and http://www.havealovelytime.com/ who has written this post about binge eating. It's searingly honest, and beautifully written. What a brave lady.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Jetlag

I cannot BELIEVE it is a week since my last post, that is just so so so naughty of me, and there's no excuse, except of course the crippling jetlag after our weekend in Wales. Oh, oops, that's right ....no jetlag. Not even a time difference. It just feels as though I'm permanently a few hours behind.

That's because the girls and I have settled into a gorgeous routine. Child Two is up first, before even the doughtiest sparrow stirs on Herne Hill, and starts watching acres of TV in blissful solitude. She loves TV with a passion and is perfectly happy curled up on the sofa wrapped in a chenille throw watching shows that she is, oh, at least ten years too old for. Eventually, I stagger downstairs and make her watch Horrible Histories with me - well, it's educational, isn't it? Then, much, much, much later, Child One totters down, hair in genuine dragged-out-of-bed disorder, hardly speaking, but still making it plain somehow that she requires breakfast NOW. So we all eat and are usually just finished in time for the Sarah Jane Adventures at 11 (yes, I'm almost blushing at this, but am shameless enough to admit that it's great. Sarah Jane is the only sidekick that Dr Who had when I was young who was pretty and possessed of a brain. Now in her, what, fifties, she is still lovely and still saving the planet from assorted scary monsters, with a trio of teenagers in tow. Best of all, she has a lovely Figaro car in pistachio green and I really want one).

After Sarah Jane has daringly defeated evil again, we are almost ready for lunch. This will be bagels, wraps or just bread from the breadmaker, with humous, salads, smoked salmon and other yums. Then I will try and persuade the girls to come to the park for tennis, or they will wander off to see friends, or read (still popular this holiday, I can't believe my luck!) or, in the case of Child Two, attempt to sidle back to the TV, only to be thwarted by Mummy.

I'm sure we could pass many happy months like this. But sadly, it's coming to an end - tomorrow. They're off for two weeks with Mr X.

I've been trying to brace myself, and trying to book in a lot of treats, but I've been a bit hopeless and can feel the familiar lassitude creeping up. But no, this time, I'm going to be busy. I have to edit my book. Novel number two turned into a pile of poo while I wasn't looking and I'm using this time to sort it all out. I really am. I won't be watching daytime TV and getting sad. Definitely not!

Friday, 31 July 2009

A little something for the weekend ....

I certainly know what it's like to have that feeling that you've somehow fallen down a rabbit hole into a weird new life where nothing is quite as you expect .... and now you can all join in, getting your very own Alice in Wonderland vibe, thanks to those little darlings at Disney. Here's a sneak preview of their extraordinary new version of the Lewis Carroll classic:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1VHRz1S_kYI

With many thanks to the wonderful Englishmum and Disney.

Now then, I'm late, I'm late, for a very important date ....with a wet weekend in Wales. See you Monday! x

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Just Divorced

According to the Sunday Times, getting divorced these days is something to celebrate. Women everywhere, apparently, are organising 'anti-hen' parties, icing Divorced At Last on large white cakes, watching their wedding videos in reverse and whooping with joy when the groom removes the wedding ring and the pair separate, driving off into their individual, lonely sunsets.

Am I the only one who finds all this a little sad? And not just, I would add, because I haven't had a Happy Divorce party all of my own. It's not that, really it isn't. I'm not yearning to live it up. I'm not a big party girl and haven't been for years. Even my hen do, long ago, was curiously sedate - I went to the Sanctuary with my two best friends and we sat in fluffy robes drinking green tea. The wildest thing we did was to swim in the nude (which does feel curiously decadent - it's amazing what a difference taking off a teensy bit of lycra makes). In retrospect, I wonder if all this restraint meant that my heart wasn't in the whole thing even then - I was 26, for God's sake, and really should have been out getting hammered wearing a fake bridal veil and L plates from Claire's Accessories, like any normal girl.

I think it just disturbs me that anyone can see divorce as a result to be celebrated. It is not, surely, what either party went into a marriage for. I can understand the wild sense of liberation as the shackles of an unhappy marriage fall with a great clank to the floor. But that moment - remember Nicole Kidman punching the sky after her divorce from Tom Cruise - doesn't last all that long. Divorce, just like marriage, is for life.

There seem to be many stages to divorce. After that euphoria comes moments of sadness, attacking as random happy memories which are rendered suddenly painful. If you have children, the unexpected moment when they look, or sound, or even walk, like the former spouse, can be exquisitely difficult.

I'm trying to picture myself at a place in this divorce business when I can, like the model illustrating the Sunday Times article, wear 'Just Divorced' knickers with pride. I think it's going to take many years. And a crash diet, liposuction and lashings of Vaseline on the lens, of course.

And nor will I be taking up their other suggestion, of getting my engagement, wedding and eternity rings remodelled into merry divorcee gee-gaws. Yes, things went pear-shaped with the actual husband. But the jewellry I'm still attached to, thank you.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Words women use

As you know, I am an old hand at the Battle of the Sexes. If they were giving out medals for those who have entered this particular field of combat and emerged, bloodied but unbowed, I would have the Distinguished Service Order several times by now. Sometimes, as part of my continued effort to understand the enemy, ahem, work with the other side, I sneak behind their lines and bring back anything that might be useful to the rest of us ladies fighting the good fight. On my last mission, I came across this dog-eared scrap of paper, handed to me by my dear friend E, who risked her life finding it. It turns out our menfolk have actually been listening to us and trying to develop a rough translation guide! Aren't they adorable? Now read on:

NINE WORDS WOMEN USE

(1) Fine: This is the word women use to end an argument when they are right and you need to shut up.

(2) Five Minutes: If she is getting dressed, this means a half an hour. Five minutes is only five minutes if you have just been given five more minutes to watch the game before helping around the house.

(3) Nothing: This is the calm before the storm. This means something, and you should be on your toes. Arguments that begin with 'nothing' usually end in 'fine'.

(4) Go Ahead: This is a dare, not permission. Don't Do It!

(5) Loud Sigh: This is not actually a word, but is a non-verbal statement often misunderstood by men. A loud sigh means she thinks you are an idiot and wonders why she is wasting her time standing here and arguing with you about nothing. (Refer back to # 3 for the meaning of 'nothing'.)

(6) That's Okay: This is one of the most dangerous statements a women can make to a man. That's Okay means she wants to think long and hard before deciding how and when you will pay for your mistake.

(7) Thanks: A woman is thanking you! Do not question, or faint. Just say 'you're welcome'. (I want to add in a clause here - This is true, unless she says 'Thanks a lot' - that is PURE sarcasm and she is not thanking you at all. DO NOT say 'you're welcome' . that will bring on a 'whatever').

(8) Whatever: Is a woman's way of saying F-- YOU!

(9) Don't worry about it, I got it: Another dangerous statement, meaning this is something that a woman has told a man to do several times, but is now doing it herself. This will later result in a man asking 'What's wrong?' For the woman's response refer to #3.


Aren't they just so sweet, the dears? I would just like to add, for any man who hasn't quite got it yet, that if you provoke a woman into saying 'fine' often enough, she will probably divorce you. I mean, der!

The Snowman

The girls were taken off camping this weekend by a dear friend who recognised that this was the only way the little angels would ever get a taste of life under canvas. I could just about manage a camper van, if there were enough Cath Kidston accessories thrown in, but I could certainly never cope with erecting a tent or sleeping on the ground. For me, the whole point of the past 2,000 years of evolution has been to leave sleeping outside in close proximity to plastic way, way behind.


In the absence of the cherubs, phase two of the revamping of the back garden was effortlessly accomplished (mainly by my wonderful chum Landscaping Mum - naturally I spent the time in Homebase, with one finger on my chin, faffing about between different colours of gravel while she dug, hoed, planted, watered, shifted great bags of manure around with a flick of her wrist and generally got the whole thing done).



I've looked through all my pictures to see if I can stun you with before and after shots, like they do in all the best decorating shows, but unfortunately the garden was such a wasteland before that there isn't a single proper snap of it, just the odd one of the offspring bouncing on the trampoline with a bit of mangled shrub in the background. Never mind, just imagine an unloved wilderness suddenly turning into this:





And this:








Isn't it pretty? I am so thrilled, even though another friend who has recently been landscaped says it's the equivalent of taking on a small dog, in terms of maintenance, grooming and general training.



Everything in the garden would truly be rosy if I could just get the little dears under control. They came back from camping very full of beans (literally) and disappeared outside. How lovely, I thought, they're appreciating it already. But no. I may see the new garden as a little bower of bliss outside my kitchen windows. They see it, after a bit of judicious rearranging of my newly-bought allegedly Cornish cobble stones, like this:






A snowman indeed! Harrumph!

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Dishy

Thanks to Joanne at Parentdish for including me in the Friday round-up. I'm a bit slow off the mark with the link (well, it's the summer holidays .....I can hardly get up before 11 these days) but here it is: http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2009/07/17/mummy-bloggers-friday-roundup/

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Sexy ladies

I got the shock of my life when I popped in to tend my blog last night. There, just under my last post, was a large advert with a banner headline saying: 'Sexy Arab Ladies.' I must admit I did a double-take. How on earth had that got there? I am used to seeing the little Google ads running above the most recent post, a lot of which advertise moth killer or duvet cleaning services, which I find quite quaint and funny. Advertising sexy Arab ladies is quite another matter. Apart from anything else, it seems really racist.

I immediately removed the ad, but not before noticing that it had made $0.17 in one day. For me, this is a total fortune - I think in the whole of last year, I probably made $6 with my moth and duvet act. Nevertheless, I think I'll stay poor but happy - and honest.

I must admit I am baffled by the whole thing. No doubt I did click some button somewhere which enabled ads within the blog itself instead of just the small lines of type at the top. But I am sure I would have asked for content appropriate to the blog. Could those chaps at GoogleAds somehow have misunderstood my references to 'my girls' or to my own eternal search for True Love? Do they imagine I am running some sort of brothel in the leafy confines of Dulwich? Are my tales of angst at the school gates being looked on as some sort of extremely bizarre kinky foreplay?

Even if I were the madam of the world's least successful house of ill fame, I can't imagine who would come to my blog to replenish their stock of sexy ladies, of whatever racial background. The vast majority of my readers are women, mostly with children in tow. Occasionally, very, very occasionally, a man does reveal himself by leaving a comment, but I usually scare him away in double-quick time with my effortless natural talent at man-repelling. I don't think many of them hang around long enough to start feeling that they are in the mood for, ahem, lurrrve. If, though, the ad was for Sexy Women who can do the gardening or take the rubbish out, then maybe some of us ladies would be interested in a helping hand. No double entendres intended! Otherwise, forget it, Google ads.

Now, who's going to own up to clicking on that ad?

Right, I'm off to Argos to get a spade. Yes, it's non-stop sexy glamour escort girls here, I tell you. Just got to switch that red light off on the way out ....

Prize giving

Right, now those school prize givings are over, I'm elbowing the headmistress out of the way and having my very own private prize giving ceremony. I swish up to the podium in my finest fishtail taffeta - in emerald green, since you ask. Around my neck is a simple choker of precious stones, given to me by TL. I clear my throat. I begin.

Some of my adorable friends have seen fit to honour little me (tiny, modest cough, and the merest fetching hint of a blush - not a menopausal tide of puce, definitely not) with some of the finest blogging awards known to, er, bloggers. First of all, thank you so much to dearest Coding Mama Tasha and to the lovely Mum-E for the Honest Scrap award, which I shall display with tremendous pride on my virtual mantlepiece.

With this award, I must choose 7 other blogs to pass the coveted gong onto, and list 10 facts about myself as well. I rustle with the traditional golden envelope. Unbearable tension in the audience. Someone coughs nervously. I frown at them, (though obviously not in a way which would cause what l'Oreal calls 'deep wrinkles') then rip the envelope open.

My seven other bloggers are:
MelRoxx Maternal Tales Half Mum Half Biscuit It's a Small World Rosiero Dancinfairy Perfectly Happy Mum

Ten facts about me
I lived Abroad for eight years.
I was put up a class in infants' school but no-one explained the sums to me and I've been a bit confused ever since.
I speak fluent French.
I'm learning ballroom dancing and recently came 5th in a Merengue competition! Admittedly there were only 7 people involved.
I get very ratty when I am too hot. Or too cold. Or if it's windy/rainy/snowy or cloudy.
I have an honours degree in Modern History and adore Simon Schama, even after Dead Ringers made him look like a mincing ninny in a too-tight leather jacket.
I hate going on holiday and would almost always rather stay at home.
I am never happier than when clearing out a cupboard.
I could easily spend all day in bed eating chocolate.
I am very lucky.

Now I turn to the gorgeous Maternal Tales, who has given me a lovely award for Words like Roses - very poetic! I am not entirely sure I am worthy. I ought, really, to make up an ode at least to grace my acceptance speech. But, after careful consideration, I've decided to spare you this time. My only task, therefore, is to pass the baton on to five others.

And the five are (rustle, rustle, as I drop envelope, pick it up, rifle through it and finally drag out the winning names): Diaries of a desperate exmoor woman Have a lovely time Are we nearly there yet mummy? Crystal Jigsaw Potty Mummy.

And, without further ado, I come to the end of the prize giving ceremony for this summer, with a tag from both Mum's the Word and It's a Small World.

8 Things I’m looking forward to The school holidays - lovely, lovely lie-ins
Our holiday in Sweden - though I don't really like leaving home, the cottage we're going to in Sweden looks gorgeous.
Visiting my great friend in Wales with my girls and another old friend. High jinks!
Re-reading The Leopard for my book group. An excellent choice, though I do say so myself! Seeing my younger brother and his family in early August
Watching the garden being landscaped, starting on Thursday!
Going ahead with some fitted cupboards - yes, my life really is this exciting!
A large glass of cold Chardonnay this evening

8 Things I did yesterday Took girls to Bluewater
Bought icing piping set - why oh why?
Bought enormous plastic lemon-shaped box to store .... bits of lemon in. Losing plot completely. Let the girls try on EVERYTHING in H&M - they were so happy
Found a T-shirt that Child Two looks lovely in - for £1!
Dragged everyone round Sainsbury's even though we were exhausted.
Found bottle of rosewater and the saffron.
Used Ottolenghi cookbook for the first time to make butternut squash couscous. Delicious!

8 Things I wish I could do
The splits
Leave things untidy
Finish novel number 2 - or at least edit the first draft
Lose a stone with no effort involved (and certainly no diminution in my chocolate peanut intake) Persuade the girls that it is possible to use public transport.
Travel light
Carry a tune
Take things less seriously

8 Favourite fruits ( I seriously can't believe anyone cares what fruit I prefer but it's part of the tag so ....)
Italian peaches
English strawberries
Scottish raspberries
Mangoes
Pineapple
Clementines
Cherries

8 Places I’d like to travel (I’m not mad keen on travelling so this is a stretch - most of these I've been to before and wouldn't mind going back if I was forced and someone did the packing for me) Sienna Sicily Paris Vienna Warsaw Sweden New York Lake District

8 Places I’ve lived
Birmingham!
Blackheath
St Andrews
Stockwell
Borough
Kentish Town
Clapham
Dulwich

8 Lovely people I’m tagging. Littlemummy Lulu er .... do you know what, I'm simply exhausted. If there's anyone out there who hasn't done this and would like to, then please feel very free. Likewise, if any of my nominees have already had their tags/awards, then please don't feel obliged. I think we could all do with a little lie down. So without further ado, I shall just thank everyone who knows me and I shall sashay off in my fishtail frock. And I most definitely will not fall over.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Now read this ...

Something very odd is happening. It is Day Two of the summer holidays, a moment when, for many years past, I have been an exhausted wreck already doodling '3rd September' on the telephone pad and looking yearningly at the Back To School pencil case displays in the supermarkets.

But today, here I am in front of the computer, with my little dears upstairs. Reading! OMG!! Yes, I know, it's tempting to assume they have been sucked up into an alien spaceship overnight, where they are rapidly putting the would-be new rulers of our planet off the idea of invasion far more effectively than any nuclear deterrent ever could, leaving two little dopplegangers pretending to turn the pages chez moi. But no, I checked them thoroughly for signs of strange flourescent glow when I saw them briefly at breakfast hours ago, and both looked pretty normal. They both felt like doing a bit of reading, they said.

Of course, this is wonderful, and gives me a tremendous glow of parently pride. There they are, the darlings, expanding their minds, widening their horizons and vocabulary simultaneously, and all I had to do was to drag them through Jolly Phonics, the Oxford Reading Tree, the interminable Rainbow Fairies series, by way of Horrid Henry, Harry Potter and Twilight, to get to this peaceful spot. It just couldn't be better.

Except for one pretty crucial matter. You see, if they're off entertaining themselves, where does that leave me? Er, utterly denuded of my usual excuse for accomplishing so little, that's where.

Usually, you see, it goes like this. My new novel? Obviously I can't correct the first draft of the opening chapters (which have gone horribly wrong and need major surgery) as I am Too Busy With The Children. Washing? It'll just have to pile up until it reaches the ceiling. Returning phone calls? Organising barbecues? Please! With two children on my hands all day long, how can I possibly get any of this stuff done? Well? Well???

Well, actually, all too easily, if they stay in their rooms reading tidily. I could have zipped through the draft this morning, I could have made those calls, I could have organised 50 barbecues before 11 o'clock. So, what have I done instead?

Er, well, I've been reading too, if you must know. Zoe Heller's The Believers, actually. Fantastic book. You should definitely read it. If you get the chance, that is.....

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Prize Giving

Right, now those school prize givings are over, I'm elbowing the headmistress out of the way and having my very own private prize giving ceremony.


I swish up to the podium in my finest fishtail taffeta - in emerald green, since you ask. Around my neck is a simple choker of precious stones, given to me by TL. I clear my throat. I begin.

Some of my adorable friends have seen fit to honour little me (tiny, modest cough, and the merest fetching hint of a blush - not a menopausal tide of puce, definitely not) with some of the finest blogging awards known to, er, bloggers. First of all, thank you so much to dearest Coding Mama Tasha and to the lovely Mum-E for the Honest Scrap award, which I shall display with tremendous pride on my virtual mantlepiece. With this award, I must choose 7 other blogs to pass the coveted gong onto, and list 10 facts about myself as well.

I rustle with the traditional golden envelope. Unbearable tension in the audience. Someone coughs nervously. I frown at them, (though obviously not in a way which would cause what l'Oreal calls 'deep wrinkles') then rip the envelope open.

My seven other bloggers:
MelRoxx
Maternal Tales
Half Mum Half Biscuit

It's a Small World
Rosiero
Dancinfairy

Perfectly Happy Mum

Ten facts about me
I lived Abroad for eight years.
I was put up a class in infants' school but no-one explained the sums to me and I've been a bit confused ever since.
I speak fluent French.
I'm learning ballroom dancing and recently came 5th in a Merengue competition! Admittedly there were only 7 people involved.
I get very ratty when I am too hot. Or too cold. Or if it's windy/rainy/snowy or cloudy.
I have an honours degree in Modern History and adore Simon Schama, even after Dead Ringers made him look like a mincing ninny in a too-tight leather jacket.
I hate going on holiday and would almost always rather stay at home.
I am never happier than when clearing out a cupboard.
I could easily spend all day in bed eating chocolate.
I am very lucky.




Now I turn to the gorgeous Maternal Tales, who has given me a lovely award for Words like Roses - very poetic! I am not entirely sure I am worthy. I ought, really, to make up an ode at least to grace my acceptance speech. But, after careful consideration, I've decided to spare you this time. My only task, therefore, is to pass the baton on to five others.

And the five are (rustle, rustle, as I drop envelope, pick it up, rifle through it and finally drag out the winning names):

Diaries of a desperate exmoor woman
Have a lovely time

Are we nearly there yet mummy?
Crystal Jigsaw
Potty Mummy.


And, without further ado, I come to the end of the prize giving ceremony for this summer, with a tag from both Mum's the Word and It's a Small World.

8 Things I’m looking forward to
The school holidays - lovely, lovely lie-ins
Our holiday in Sweden - though I don't really like leaving home, the cottage we're going to in Sweden looks gorgeous.
Visiting my great friend in Wales with my girls and another old friend. High jinks!
Re-reading The Leopard for my book group. An excellent choice, though I do say so myself!
Seeing my younger brother and his family in early August
Watching the garden being landscaped, starting on Thursday!
Going ahead with some fitted cupboards - yes, my life really is this exciting!
A large glass of cold Chardonnay this evening
8 Things I did yesterday
Took girls to Bluewater
Bought icing piping set - why oh why?
Bought enormous plastic lemon-shaped box to store .... bits of lemon in. Losing plot completely.
Let the girls try on EVERYTHING in H&M - they were so happy
Found a T-shirt that Child Two looks lovely in - for £1!
Dragged everyone round Sainsbury's even though we were exhausted.
Found bottle of rosewater and the saffron.
Used Ottolenghi cookbook for the first time to make butternut squash couscous. Delicious!
8 Things I wish I could do
The splits
Leave things untidy
Finish novel number 2 - or at least edit the first draft
Lose a stone with no effort involved (and certainly no diminution in my chocolate peanut intake)
Persuade the girls that it is possible to use public transport.
Travel light
Carry a tune
Take things less seriously
8 Favourite fruits ( I seriously can't believe anyone cares what fruit I prefer but it's part of the tag so ....)
Italian peaches
English strawberries
Scottish raspberries
Mangoes
Pineapple
Clementines
Cherries


8 Places I’d like to travel (I’m not mad keen on travelling so this is a stretch - most of these I've been to before and wouldn't mind going back if I was forced and someone did the packing for me)
Sienna
Sicily
Paris
Vienna
Warsaw
Sweden
New York
Lake District

8 Places I’ve lived
Birmingham!
Blackheath
St Andrews
Stockwell
Borough
Kentish Town
Clapham
Dulwich

8 Lovely people I’m tagging.
Littlemummy
Lulu
er .... do you know what, I'm simply exhausted. If there's anyone out there who hasn't done this and would like to, then please feel very free. Likewise, if any of my nominees have already had their tags/awards, then please don't feel obliged. I think we could all do with a little lie down.

So without further ado, I shall just thank everyone who knows me and I shall sashay off in my fishtail frock. And I most definitely will not fall over.

Lady in waiting

As I sit here, waiting for those lovely chaps from John Lewis to deliver a new tumble drier, I realise a theme is emerging. I am also waiting for a Tesco delivery, which was supposed to come between 9 and 11.

The time is inching up to 10.47, and Tesco is playing with fire. I am very fickle with my supermarkets these days. I discovered that, if you get a couple of internet deliveries, from any of the big supermarkets, and then stop abruptly, they will start sending you money-off vouchers.

Ocado, being middle-class and, therefore, insecure and needy, begins almost immediately, pelting my inbox with desperate little love tokens (free model of an Ocado van? That is soooo not going to do it, guys. Try chocolate. Lots of it!). If you don't take pity and give in too soon, it will soon be waving quite healthy reductions at you. Tesco, being big and brash, is less bothered about one-order stands and takes months to realise you've even defected. When it finally clocks that you've been getting your trolley filled elsewhere, though, it will try and sweep you off your feet with an impressively large voucher. Sainsbury's I've found harder to fathom. I don't think I've ever actually managed to accomplish an order with Sainsbury's. I certainly did try, a couple of years ago, but I think it either crashed much too soon or simply went on and on forever with the checkout proceedure - both techniques sure to disappoint a girl.

Ah, if Lidl only delivered, then I'm sure I would be a one-store woman. Until then, I'm left to play the field. And wait. And wait!

Friday, 3 July 2009

What a to-do

I don't know about you, but things are beginning to get on top of me. School seems to have turned into a blur of summer fairs, recitals, sports day T-shirts needing finding, then ironing, concerts, very contentious prize-givings (why hasn't my lubly Child Two got one, may I just ask? Grrrrr!). Meanwhile, holiday plans with Mr X are completely on the blink, the garden hasn't been done in an age (thank God all the weeds have died in the heatwave), my trusty Dyson has barely seen the light of day all week (and that's a long, long time for me) and, though I painted my front door in a fit of manic enthusiasm on Monday, I can't really ignore the fact that it is extremely lumpy and I shall probably now have to pay someone to do it properly. Mind you, it did serve its purpose at the time of keeping my windmilling mind off the dire fates which would befall Child Two's bete noire, if I ever got my hands on her, that is.

Added to all that, I also have a whole list of things I really ought to blog about. While this is lovely, in a way - though I have never yet suffered blog-block, I live in fear of the fear, which is just ridiculously typical. So a queue of possible posts is, in one way, a godsend. In another, it's just one more nagging to-do list.

Today, I hardly have time to type even this as I've got to go and listen to Child Two singing in the choir and restrain myself from machine-gunning the teaching staff, which will be no mean feat. So I'll just quickly mention those darling folk at HP, who are the proud producers of my printer. This would be printing away merrily as we speak, if I hadn't ordered the wrong ink cartridges. Doh! It even says the right number on the Front of the Instructions, it couldn't really make things any easier. But of course I ordered something totally different and now face the boredom of sending it back and getting the right one. Sigh.

Printing our mugs was better. You have to go to a separate website to do this, called Snapfish, where you can download all manner of photo albums, cards and bitty bobs. HP gave me credits to get two mugs, and I also got two for TL's littlies. They are all Disney - my specialist subject these days - and I was treated to a good half-hour of my girls bickering over which princesses to put on their mugs. How it took me back to the arguments of yore! Once they had decided (one Ariel, one Cinderella) we had to select photos and crop them into the space, which took about an hour and was a bit painful. A day later, the mugs arrived, and have been much loved ever since. We are also supposed to be doing a photo album but I shall have to lie down for a bit to recover before broaching the website again.

That's all for now. Keep watching the news - if a Dulwich woman is arrested for a string of teacher murders, you'll know who it was!

Friday, 26 June 2009

London mourns MJ

Check out London commuters mourning Michael Jackson in their own special way: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6EDAZ3crdY&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Flondon%2Dunderground%2Eblogspot%2Ecom%2F2009%2F06%2Fmichael%2Djackson%2Dtube%2Dthriller%2Ehtml&feature=player_embedded

In fact, this was shot to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Thriller, but it seems appropriate today. I lifted the link from fellow tweeter @jackschofield, thank you! I love the fact that no-one, but no-one stares as the dancers get wilder and wilder. What would make a London commuter stare, I wonder? Could anything? And the polite smattering of applause at the end is wonderful, absolutely typical London.

The radio stations, of course, are playing wall to wall Michael. The girls and I always listen to Capital in the mornings. Believe it or not, I actually missed Capital when I lived Abroad, although now, through the magic of the Internet, you can listen to it on your computer. It was the radio station of my teenage years and I still love it. I once won a T shirt in a phone-in competition, I wonder where it is now?

Capital is on a roll at the moment, with its breakfast show presenters Johnny Vaughn (could be irritating but just about gets away with smartarse comments) and Lisa Snowdon (runner up in the last series of Strictly and used to go out with George Clooney! Yes, really!). Johnny's previous sidekick laydee was Denise Van Outen, who was also lovely but somehow Lisa manages to be that little bit warmer. My ravishing friend Lulu at www.familyaffairsandothermatters.blogspot.com has written about the station recently. I must say it does bring a dash of joy to our mornings. There have been two things in particular which have struck me:

1. A tip from a caller to use hair conditioner when shaving your legs. She recommended Pantene, which I use anyway. Try it - slap it on, shave the leg. I think it really works brilliantly, leaving your legs smooth and soft, and no doubt tremendously manageable as well.

2. A story from a caller who owned a snake. This lady said she'd worried because her snake had stopped eating. She took it to the vet, who gave her some pills. A month later, the snake still wasn't eating, so she popped back to the vet. Was there any difference in its behaviour, the vet asked? The owner thought hard, and said not really, but she was very touched because the snake had taken to lying down next to her in bed. The vet immediately turned pale and told her to get rid of the snake as soon as she got home. Why, the lady asked? "It's been preparing its stomach and then it's been measuring you. It's planning to eat you!" said the vet.

That story makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up!

Now Capital has come up with a third highlight - its current Wimbledon Grunting competition. Every morning, Lisa or Johnny take on a member of the public in a display of simulated tennis grunting. I admit I am not a Wimbledon fan, and there is something more than a little suggestive about all the noises they come out with, but this competition is absolutely hilarious. I had to stop the car yesterday because I was laughing so much. Thank you, Capital!

Monday, 15 June 2009

Cheering up

Feeling a little better, due to three factors:

1. This amazing Jackson Pollock widget (see righthand side of blog, underneath 'subscribe to DD'). All you do is let your cursor lead you a merry dance. Every time you click, the colour of the trail will change. And all the colours co-ordinate with each other! It's heaven. I copied this from clever Suburbia's lovely blog, Moments from Suburbia. Thank you, it's really cheered me up!

2. Cadbury's chocolate peanuts. These, as I have already reported, are a little disappointing - very small in size, a bit similar in appearance, I'm afraid, to bunny droppings. They don't taste particularly chocolatey, either. Frankly, I prefer unknown brand Jamesons. BUT during my last few snarfing sessions on the sofa, I have chortled not inconsiderably over the back of the packet. Yes, laborious instructions on how to reseal the bag, to keep the contents fresh, when you put them away in the cupboard in between snacking sessions. Ahahahaha! As if!

3. Lovely friends. Thanks!