Friday, 29 May 2009

A friend in need

Many thanks to my dear friend A, who passes on this valuable advice:

'Sometimes you can go too far. You can over-reach yourself. You can even get stuck in a tricky situation. So, for everyone having a difficult day, here's a gentle reminder ........

.....that, no matter how bad you think things are, there's always someone, somewhere, who'll pop up when you least expect it .............

......and make everything ten times worse!'

Thursday, 28 May 2009

No oil painting

It's half term and my nose is just about peeking out over a mound of discarded tissues (the final frontier of Child Two's faux swine flu) and scrumpled bits of revision (Child One has exams the moment she gets back to school). Sigh. I love every minute with my cherubs, but this is still an excellent moment to float away and remember my trip, last week, with a friend to the Picasso exhibition at the dear old National Gallery.

I'm such a fan of the National that I am predisposed to like anything it cares to show me - gasp, a 19th century telephone directory, how clever! - but Picasso, Challenging the Past, really was a revelation. Picasso, like Monet, the man that launched a million waterlilly mouse mats, is too too familiar - we all think we know every blue/rose/jaggedy-cuby bit of him. It's true, there's nothing really novel in the National's show, but the juxtapositions pull off the clever trick of making you study naughty old Picasso at new angles.

Of course, it's the sex that interests me. Yes, still lives, self portraits, blah blah, they're all there, but I rush until we get to the room plastered with Picasso's loves, splayed upon every wall. 'Of course, he loved women', I hear someone say as we study a monumental portrait of Picasso's wife Olga Khokhlova. 'Look at that, she's got feet like a hobbit,' whispers my friend. I do a double take. She's quite right, those are hefty great trotters Olga's sprouting. And the whole portrait is massive, making her look, yes, like some sort of wonderfully rounded, bronzed ancient fertility goddess but, frankly, a fertility goddess with a really major weight problem. Wait a minute, a ballet dancer with huge great feet and thighs of thunder? Did Picasso really love women? Did he love this woman?

The answer, I think, looking round the room, is that he did love them all, then he went right off them and took his revenge in paint. Poor Olga. No dancer, surely, could forgive her dainty toes, the very pivot of her professional life, being represented as huge, gnarly brown monstrosities. And a painting across the way shows a whole group of women portrayed in lumpy, cruel browns and blacks. I wonder what they did to piss him off, apart from having, somehow, lost his interest. Picasso may not always have loved all women, but he was certainly passionate, even when he hated them.

It all brings me back to the question my friend and I asked ourselves as we first entered the exhibition, under a big black and white photo of Picasso looking, mmm, rather magnificent. All right, it wasn't my friend, it was me. 'Wouldja?' I nudged her, or rather, translated into middle class, I trilled, 'would you have had a fling with Picasso?' She just gave me a stern look. My own answer is Doh! Well, who could have resisted being a muse to all that talent?

Having seen the exhibition, I take it all back (of course I am assuming that he would have jumped at the chance). It would have been lovely to have been painted by Picasso. But my feet are ugly enough without his efforts and, frankly, I could definitely do without the extra three stone.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

The Joy of Socks

True Love has bought me such a lovely present. Sigh. There is no other phrase for it but the joy of socks.

Yes, six little sockies for my darling iPhone! Clever True Love, going straight for my current Achilles heel (ha - I'm continuing the sock/foot theme there, did you see?). As everyone knows, I am obsessed with my iPhone and I can now report that its bum does not look big in any of its lovely little socks. In fact, it is utterly adorable in every shade and I have hours of fun co-ordinating the socks with my outfits. Though, admittedly, they are rather teenage, loud colours, which do not tone exactly with the more muted shades of clapped-out middle-ageness, er, experience. But still. They are lovely, thank you.

And, while I'm rhapsodizing - again - about my iPhone, amongst other things, I must say the most heartfelt of thank-yous to a clever company called Griffin. They, via my lovely friend Littlemummy, have given me an AirCurve. Now, by bizarre coincidence, I was looking at an AirCurve the day before, thinking it could be just the thing for me. I wanted some sort of speaker system for my iPhone, without the actual speakers. I have always found speakers incredibly ugly. And they have wires and plugs - two more pet hates. The total joy of the AirCurve is that it works like an old-fashioned ear trumpet - its cunning swirly shapes magnify sound in the most impressive fashion. If you take the iPhone out of the AirCurve, it whispers along to itself in iPod mode in a chish-chish, not very audible fashion, like one of those annoying people on the Tube who are playing music you can only hear the worst bits of. But put the phone into the AirCurve, and suddenly you can hear everything. All without a single plug or wire. And it's really pretty, too! Genius.

The wonderful serendipity of receiving this the day after yearning for it has almost convinced me that the Secret is finally at work. I've got everything a girl could ever want - plus a bunch of socks and a phone trumpet. Thank you, universe, thank you. So now it's just a question of time before the Louis Vuitton bag gets here. I'm ready.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Holiday Help

For all those who are on their own this bank holiday, because they're going through a difficult divorce, because they don't have custody, or simply because they forgot to get married in the first place, my dear friend E has sent this little joke. Actually, I think it's one of those rather-unfair-but-still-very-funny ones, and I'd normally have more than a few qualms about repeating it (but E, don't let that stop you sending me lots more along the same lines - I love them!). For God's sake, though, it's a bank holiday, and we divorced people need all the chuckles we can get. We simply can't afford to care whose expense they're at. So, with no further ado:

Cherie Blair is touring the countryside in a chauffeur-driven car. Suddenly, a cow jumps out into the road; they hit it full on and the car comes to a stop. Cherie, in her usual manner, says to the chauffeur:
'You get out and check - you were driving.'
The chauffeur gets out, checks and reports that the animal is dead.
'You were driving; go and tell the farmer,' says Cherie.
Five hours later, the chauffeur returns totally plastered, hair ruffled with a big grin on his face.
'My God, what happened to you?' asks Cherie.
The chauffeur replies: 'When I got there, the farmer opened his best bottle of malt whisky, the wife gave me a slap-up meal and the daughter made love to me.'
'What on earth did you say?' asks Cherie.
'I knocked on the door and when it was answered, I said to them: ' I'm Cherie Blair's chauffeur and I've just killed the cow.'

Friday, 22 May 2009

Just what the doctor would have ordered if he hadn't been too pig-headed to see us

Thank God, Child Two is feeling a lot better this morning. This is not due to the concerned attentions of our GP, I should point out. When I rang yesterday to get her an appointment, I could almost hear the receptionist backing away when I mentioned the words 'Dulwich' and 'Fever'. 'Don't come here, don't call us, we'll call you,' was the message I got loud and clear. I rang back several times but they were obviously hosing the place down with disinfectant. Finally, the doctor rang me at 4pm and told me to alternate Calpol with Neurofen. Thanks, but even Mme Bovary the cat had suggested that the day before. He then said I should double all the dosages and this, finally, has done the trick and Child Two is now in the happy position of being slightly bored with lying in state on the sofa watching CBBC. I hope her liver is ok.

What I really should have done is simply take the divine Lulu's advice, and administer hefty doses of this:

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Tag lag

Eeeek! I've just noticed that the lovely Rosiero of Alcoholic Daze tagged me yonks ago while I was swanning around Florida with the divine Disney 7. If I'd had half a brain, I could have combined my answers with the tag from Jennifer at Alpha Mummy. But I don't. I hope you don't feel neglected, Rosiero. Please put it down to jetlag and my general rubbishness at getting round to things. I'm sure you'd probably let me off doing it again (and everyone could probably just about live without my answers) but, in fact, I am waiting to get a doctor's appointment for Child Two, who is languishing upstairs in her bed with a very high temperature and a selection of swine flu symptoms which are pretty much straight from the NHS Direct 'don't panic, it's only a pandemic and loads of people have died' page. So answering some soothing questions will take my mind off things nicely....

Rules of the meme

Respond and rework

Answer questions on your own blog

Replace one question

Add one question

Tag 8 people

1. What are your current obsessions? Swine flu! No, no, don't think about that ....well, probably my gorgeous iPhone which, like any new love, has its own tricksy ways which I'm trying to negotiate. For instance, if I change the password to see my on-line phone bill (incidentally, downloading emails in Disneyworld cost me £219!!!) I then can't send emails from my phone. Go figure.

2. Which item from your wardrobe do you wear most often? All my Uptown Jeans are in the wash together, a big mistake, akin to having the President, Vice President and leader of the opposition (do they have one in the US?) on board Airforce One at the same time. I don't know how I allowed this to happen. Luckily, I spent a fortune in Jigsaw only yesterday buying what a friend described as 'another of your draggy cardigans' - in this case, a long, linen, waterfall number, which I optimistically hope will cover up the dodgy bits while enhancing the whole, and making me look two inches taller into the bargain. I think this will take over in the temporary absence of the Uptown Jeans team.

3. What's for dinner? Gawd, a good question. Sainsbury's fire-eater chicken is out. Not sure what Child Two can swallow, with her barbed wire throat. Neither Child likes soup. Mashed potato?

4. Last thing you bought? The Jigsaw draggy cardigan. Oh, all right, I bought two - the off-white and the mid-blue. But very useful!

5. What are you listening to? Downloaded Tracy Chapman from iTunes. Brings back memories of Sri Lanka with Mr X, and the train up to the tea plantations, with little children running along behind us, waving, and the fields of tea, in every shade of green, spread out like huge patchwork quilts over the billowing hills.

6. What five items could you not leave the house without? Keys, lovely iPhone, Maybelline Shinilicious lip gloss (much more reasonable than Juicy Tubes and better in my view), book - currently White Tigerby Aravind Adiga for my book club, if it was just for me it would be Kate Morris's Seven Year Itch, probably a child or two and a handbag full to bursting with totally essential rubbish.

7. Favourite holiday spots? Actually I love my back garden.

8. Reading right now? NHS Direct Swine Flu owners' guide.

9. Four words to describe yourself: acute, anxious, author, attractive (well, a girl can hope).

10. Guilty pleasure? Worrying, loving, eating.

11. Who or what makes you laugh until you’re weak? This post by Nicola had me in stitches. Also Laura and Lulu.

12. First spring thing? The cat trying to eat my daffodils.

13. Planning to travel to next? The doctor's surgery!

14. Best thing you ate or drank lately? Had some of the new Cadbury's choc peanuts the other night - a bit disappointing. Best was probably from my gorgeous Orla Keily box of chocs - the double chocolate truffle was yuu-uum.

15. When did you last get tipsy? A little bit last night, trying a new Sicilian Chardonnay from Sainsbury's in honour of Inspector Montalbano from the fabulous series by Andrea Camilleri - well, that was my excuse.

16. Favourite ever film? Still Some Like It Hot - sublime in all ways, though I nod to Rosiero's choice of Tess of the d'Urbervilles, very sexy.

17. Care to share some wisdom? See my Reunion post yesterday - love is all you need.

18. If you could be someone famous, who would you be and why? You know, I really don't think I'd swap with anyone. I'm quite happy in my own little way. I've got my girls, my writing, my job, my house and my True Love - pretty good going I'd say. And I don't get papped looking like death.

19. What did your last text say and who was it from? "Purrrrrrrrrr".

20. What is your favourite animal? Mme Bovary, the best little catty in all the world. I do love her so.

The eight people I am tagging are:

Are We Nearly There Yet?
Family Affairs and Other Matters
Diary of a Desperate Exmoor Woman
Some Mothers Do Ave Em
Mummy Has a Headache

Wednesday, 20 May 2009


I had some really serious, and some not so serious, stuff to blog about today - all kinds of twinkly, sparkly stuff about the wonders of the blogosphere and the odd frisson of nasty worry over Child Two, who has suddenly developed a temperature ....but instead, I'm going to make you sit down and watch this:

Don't be put off by the bit saying 'Full length movie' - it's not a movie, it's just a couple of minutes, and it'll make you cry hot blurry tears and feel full of fuzzy love for all man- and creature-kind. It's just adorable.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Ad break

Am I the only person to find the current Muller yoghurt TV and radio ads quite disturbing? I'm fine about them all licking the lid of life, in fact I rather like the gusto, even though it might be a bit insanitary (we in swine flu afflicted Dulwich are very concerned with hygiene at the moment and actually, if you're coughing or have the least bit of temperature, could you please wash your hands before touching this blog, please? Thanks). Yes, it's all very well, but does that lady really have to keep singing, 'I've got my cherry'? There could easily be children listening. And, ahem, should she really be that happy about it?

While I'm in advertising mode, a little not-quite-ad for Sainsbury's. In the Sydenham branch the other day I got carried away into 'trying something different today.' Yes, it happens to the best of us - the slogans worm their way into your brain and, before you know it, you've put two lots of Southern fried chicken into your basket for a fiver. I served them up to the treasures today, only for Child One to spit out a great mouthful. 'Arggg!' she said for a few minutes. When she could speak again, she said, 'Mummy, is this chicken supposed to hurt?' Once I'd taken a mouthful myself, then found a tissue and got a glass of water, I said to her in a hoarse whisper, 'nonsense, darling, it's delicious.' But seriously, Mr Sainsbury, is this a joke? I checked the ingredients and there was no mention of chili, but that chicken is seriously hot. And not altogether in a good way.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Miss Popular

It's very odd, but ever since I got my iPhone a month ago, I have suddenly realised what it is to be in step with the rest of the world. You see, as a rebellious second child, I have spent my whole life not-quite-conforming, sometimes on purpose, sometimes by accident. Take my school career. I hated sport, I refused to do homework that wasn't interesting, I cheated in tests because I couldn't be bothered to do the work, then, when I finally got to primary school, I got drunk and went out with boys while everyone else was learning latin. Obviously I then went on to smoke behind every possible bike shed and continued to do so for years in the face of opposition from the entire planet. Other naughtinesses went on, but I won't mention them in a family blog, even a broken family blog. Now, in staid middle age, I've not only got divorced, but have chosen to do so in Dulwich, where even raising your voice with a spouse is So Just Not Done.

With the iPhone, I seem finally to have joined a club. It's popular, it's trendy - even Zac Effron has one, for goodness' sake, in 17 Again. The uber Mommy US bloggers in Disneyland had them, need I say more? There are ads for them on the telly the whole time. Then, in Sainsbury's today, I saw a whole row of iPhone-friendly appliances lined up, for docking, for playing music, for ironing shirts, not quite that. But still. It's a strange feeling for me to be able to buy something so easily, I'm so used to my phone chargers etc being obsolete as my mobile is so unhip. I picked up a gleaming white dock thing and admired it. Only £34.99! Naturally, I had to have it. Erm, just a little snag ......a yellow label under the price said it all. 'Sold out.' Of course! That's the price of being in the swim.

Technorati Profile

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Normal life

It's always a deep joy to discover that I don't come from the most dysfunctional family on the planet. I'm truly indebted, again, to the lovely Laura from Are We Nearly There Yet Mummy? for introducing me to a website which has given me fresh hope for my gene pool. Come on, now, take my hand and come with me .... sneak away from cooking the Sunday roast for your nearest and dearest, have a little look, and savour every moment. Yes, yes, we are normal! By comparison, anyway ....

Monday, 11 May 2009

Playing Tag

I've been tagged by the wondrous Jennifer Howze from Alphamummy at the Times. Here are the rules of the meme: Respond and rework. Answer questions on your own blog. Replace one question. Add one question. Tag other bloggers.
Here goes:

1. What are your current obsessions? I'm trying to get obsessed with Twitter, but seriously failing to see the point. Ok, it's like short blogging. But I'd rather blog long. Otherwise, it's the same old same old obsession - True Love. Sigh.
2. Which item from your wardrobe do you wear most often? At the moment, my Uptown Jeans from Boden. Was thrilled to be asked where they were from during my Disneyworld jaunt. As comfy as a pair of opaque tights, and doing quite a reasonable job of compressing the flab.
3. What was your favourite childhood meal? Chocolate peanuts. Plus ca change.
4. Last thing you bought?Went to Westfield yesterday with my lovely friend R, who introduced me to Uniglo. Why have I never been there before? Bought two lovely slinky T-shirts for £19! Amazing.
5. What are you listening to? Lily Allen, The Fear. So not me!
6. If you were a god/goddess who would you be? Venus, goddess of love. Would like nothing more than to waft around all day in strategically placed wisps of gauze cavorting with rufty tufty Mars.
7. Favourite holiday spots? Sweden, Italy, weekends in North Wales with lovely friend C.
8. Reading right now? When Will There Be Good News? Kate Atkinson. Just finished Wetlands by Charlotte Roche for my book club, yuck is so not a strong enough word.
9. Four words to describe yourself. Determined, dreamer, depressive, diverting (I hope)
10. Guilty pleasure? Aren't they all?
11. Who or what makes you laugh until you’re weak? My children, my friends, the Disney 7
12. Favourite thing to do? Snuggle
13. Planning to travel to next? North Wales - can't wait.
14. Best thing you ate or drank lately? Pomegranite mohitos.
15. When did you last get tipsy? Last night.
16. Favourite ever film? Some Like It Hot
17. Care to share some wisdom? 'Whether you think you can, or whether you think you can't, you are right' (Henry Ford).
18. Song you can't get out of your head? Pussycat Dolls, Jay Ho
19. What one object would you save from a housefire? Ebony elephant from Sri Lanka.
20. What is your aim in life? To be happy - and get a UK publisher.

So, who to send this to next?


2.English Mum

3. Rural Villager

4. Got your hands full

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Keeping up our standards

All right, Dulwich has got the highest incidence of swine flu in the whole of the UK, if not Europe, possibly the world, and there's hardly a soul to be seen in the village, but really, ladies of SE21, even if there is a lot on our minds at the moment, there's no excuse for forgetfulness about our apparel. Times of crisis or not, it always pays to have a quick peek before leaving the house, even if you're just popping to the supermarket. Someone tell my neighbour, please!

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Oh my God!

My lovely friend Laura from contacts me, breathless, with the latest on the epidemic ravaging Dulwich: 'I phoned NHS Direct to ask about swine flu, but all I got was crackling.'

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Seen walking through Dulwich Park this morning ...

I'm indebted to the ravishing Lulu from for this one:

Utter swine

I was looking forward to a full day's slobbing out, er, feverishly writing up a travel article on my wonderful Disney jaunt , when the first text arrived yesterday. 'Alleyn's school closed - seven cases of swine flu!!!' After countless others in the same vein, I gave in. I had half expected to encounter it in Florida - standing outside Cinderella's castle with ten thousand strangers all wearing sombreros and imitating Snow White's friend Sneezy seemed about the best way to catch a pandemic that I could think of - but, as unlikely as it seems, I arrived home from panic-stricken America only to find Mexican swine flu is rampaging through my beloved Dulwich instead.

Though my treasures are not at the affected school, which is called Alleyn's (their complex house point system seemed a bit too Hogwartian for my liking when I was looking at schools three years ago), they are in a nearby school. And both have friends with brothers or sisters at Alleyn's. Eeeek!

So it was a lethal combination of terror and idleness that made me turn off my alarm and pull the duvet back over my head this morning. Admittedly, Child One had already been in at 6.30, shouting at me to get up because we were late for school. The cherub said she had misread her clock. Later I nodded off during a Pirates of the Caribbean dvd, and was accused me of snoring. Moi? As if! It's just a bit of a snuffle, you understand. And many thanks to lovely Digital Outlook for sending me it for answering their questionnaire on something called BluRay. Do I know what BluRay is? Er, no I don't, but the children want it desperately, so it must be good slash prohibitively expensive slash completely impossible for me to install or operate.

It's been so lovely seeing the treasures again after my trip away, and the flu is giving them plenty of quality time with their Disney goodies. I wore myself out blundering around a dimly-lit branch of Hollister in a mall near Disneyworld buying them incredibly hip T-shirts, only for them to scrap ferociously over possession of my Disney 'lanyard' instead, a choice purple security pass cord emblazoned with Tinkerbells. They are also very taken with my germolene pink mouse ears (my present from Mickey, sob) and love the little pin badges that clip to the lanyard. We saw grown men poring over great folders full of these pins in Florida, and you're allowed to march up to anyone wearing pins in the park and demand to swap (and cast members have to say yes).

Oh well, I suppose it'll keep them occupied, as we may never be able to venture outside again. There were lots of concerned mothers photographed yesterday outside Alleyn's, looking both gorgeous and anxious in their best Juicy Couture (I imagine Question Air in the Village has been completely ravaged by yummies getting ready for their close-ups on the News At Ten) but today the streets are absolutely deserted. I hope the Red Cross are reading this, as I could really do with a large parcel of essential supplies, including bread, milk, aftersun lotion and, of course, a large Louis Vuitton handbag, anything in the epi leather range will do. Thanks!

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Happy Ever After

It all started so well. After a fantastic dinner at the Flying Fish restaurant, seven tired Mummy Bloggers tottered off to bed for our first night at the five star Disney Beach Club in Florida and, on my pillow, I found not only a flannel cunningly twisted into the shape of Mickey's iconic silhouette but also a lovely pink set of ears just for me - a present from Mickey himself! I decided it had to be a sign. He'd seen my blog, and decided to whisk me away from the madness that is my life. Part of me was charmed by his impetuousness. The other half simply thought, well, it's about time!

I admit I was a little surprised the next day, when Mickey had the perfect chance to make his move. The other brave bloggesses screamed their heads off at the Tower of Terror and I stayed on terra firma instead. It would have been the ideal moment for Mickey to wander past casually, and hand me into Cinderella's carriage (I was, of course, fully prepared to shove her out onto the pavement, which was by now seething with happy holiday makers turning interesting shades of shrimp in the 80 degree heat). I waited for a sight of those trademark red spotty shorts, but nothing doing.

'He's just pacing himself,' I thought, as we whizzed through days of slightly surreal, child-free fun, taking in the amazing wave beach at Typhoon Island, eating for Britain at the Earl of Sandwich cafe, risking life and limb on the escaped dinosaur ride and even meeting up with our US blogging counterparts, the uber-powerful Mommy bloggers.

There were moments when we seemed so close, Mickey and I. During the stunning fireworks display over the Magical Kingdom, I truly felt the phrase Dreams Can Come True was directed specially at the two of us. Then, when our amazing PR guide Sarah, who picks her way through the Disney maze like a dainty Theseus negotiating Knossos, took us to the Grand Floridian spa for massages, I knew my mouse prince was finally ready to make his declaration.

The Grand is about as unlike your image of Disney as could be - a truly deluxe hotel, complete with white sand beach which is not so much raked as French manicured, complete with vast swimming pools and a restaurant serving crab cakes to die for. I had just enjoyed a fabulous 50-minute Swedish massage with Mary, and was feeling boneless and gorgeous, though admittedly my hair was a little gloopy from the vitamin E oil, when I spotted Cinderella's carriage, at last, parked outside a darling wedding chapel, complete with white ponies and just about enough white-wigged footmen to make life bearable (4). This is all part of Disney's bespoke wedding service, and quite obviously organised just for me. For a photo, see Jane's lovely blog at

I was ready to wave a regretful goodbye to the wonderful blogging group which has been such a joyful virtual hen party over the last five days, and take off for my new life with Mickey, when the horrible truth dawned. He just wasn't coming after all. I waited as long as I could, but the lure of another enormous and delicious lunch wore me down and I left without him.

I was baffled - where had it all gone wrong? We were designing our own T-shirts the next day in Downtown Disney when I found out. I selected Cinderella, with the words Happy Ever After, and my blog name, Dulwich Divorcee. A concerned Disney cast member (they are never called employees) took me aside. 'Mickey and divorce don't go together,' he told me sorrowfully.

Aha. So that's it. Now I know that it was never really meant to be with me and the mouse. Though I am resigned to life outside the Magical Kingdom, I shall leave Disneyworld with a tear in my eye. Mickey Mouse, if you're reading this, thanks so much for all the good times over the past few days. I shall remember them always.