Friday, 26 June 2009

London mourns MJ

Check out London commuters mourning Michael Jackson in their own special way:

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 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!

Friday, 12 June 2009

Slipping through my fingers

I have the loveliest Fridays in the world. I drop the cherubs at school, walk round the park with a friend, have an art lesson, then go on to Pilates. Today I also had a mummy's lunch with three friends.

So why did I wake up in tears?

It was partly that, in a dream, I conjured up a little dress that Child Two used to wear when she was about 2 and a half (my favourite age). It was a beautiful little pinafore dress, in soft corduroy, in a shade of celestial blue so gorgeous I've never found before or since. On the front it had 'In the Garden' embroidered in navy with two little flowers. She looked adorable in it.

Seeing that dress again in a dream chimed with a beautiful recent post by Rosiero about her daughter, Kay, having her last day at school, which she tied in with the song Slipping Through My Fingers from Mamma Mia. I deliberately didn't watch the clip, knowing I would end up in tears, but the mood of melancholy seeped into me anyway. My little girl in the blue dress is lost forever, now a different person and on the brink of adolescence. That would always have been the case, no matter what happened between X and me, but I have ripped up so much of my own volition that now, I cannot share my memories of that little girl in the blue dress with anyone.

Another part of my dream featured a single friend, who often joins me and the girls on outings, who this time went into the most spectacular strop at having to watch their ballroom dancing lesson. Another friend, who has Way Too Much therapy, says that in a dream, all the characters are, in fact, representations of yourself. Was I projecting my own boredom at watching the children's lessons? Actually, I really enjoy going to all their dancing classes as I chat relentlessly with other mummy friends, but it made me wonder.

All week, I have had ridiculous, unfounded nagging worries about leaving the iron on/front door open/side gate unlatched. At Pilates, the teacher asked me if I was stressed as my shoulders were up by my ears. Another friend brought up the question of Scarlet Women and I spent a long time berating myself for my actions three years ago - though I do tell myself there were mitigating circumstances. Then I discovered today I had made a really stupid mistake in an article (sorry, Linda!!). Not something I would normally do.

What is going on? Am I sliding down into depression again (I am usually the last to know)? Or is it just the guilt? I think I need a holiday. And not, I suspect, the nine-week, school-free stretch looming ahead. Or, maybe, just maybe, I should stop being so self-indulgent, pull myself together and count my many, many blessings more thoroughly this time

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Why men don't write advice columns

Ouf! That was all a bit heavy yesterday, wasn't it, with the Mummy Wars? Here's a joke from my lovely friend C to cheer us all up:

Dear Roger,

I hope you can help me. The other day, I set off for work leaving my husband in the house watching the TV. I hadn't driven more than a mile down the road when the engine conked out and the car shuddered to a halt. I walked back home to get my husband's help.

When I got home I couldn't believe my eyes. He was in our bedroom with the neighbour's daughter.

I am 32, my husband is 34, and the neighbour's daughter is 22. We have been married for ten years.When I confronted him, he broke down and admitted that they had been having an affair for the past six months. I told him to stop or I would leave him. He was made redundant six months ago and he says he has been feeling increasingly depressed and worthless.

I love him very much, but ever since I gave him the ultimatum he has become more and more distant. He won't go to counselling and I'm afraid I can't get through to him anymore.

Can you please help?

Sincerely, Sheila

Dear Sheila,

A car stalling after being driven a short distance can be caused by a variety of faults with the engine. Start by checking that there is no debris in the fuel line. If it is clear, check the vacuum pipes and hoses on the intake manifold and also check all grounding wires. If none of these approaches solves the problem, it could be that the fuel pump itself is faulty, causing low delivery pressure to the injectors.

I hope this helps,


Monday, 8 June 2009

Guilt tripping

Huge hoo-ha about working and non-working mothers over at Alphamummy, with the slightly peculiar notion that those of us who aren't in the office 24/7 are living lives of gin-soaked misery. Potty Mummy and English Mum have written excellently on the whole issue, so I won't rehash it all, except to say I think it's woman's old enemy, guilt, at work again. Ever since we were fitted up by Adam and his naughty old snake back in the garden of Eden, we women have been taking the blame for everything.

I've noticed that Child One, at 13, has suddenly got guilt - she frequently says, 'you're trying to make me feel guilty/I feel so guilty' when I ask her to do simple things like clean up her room. This wouldn't have happened a year ago and Child Two, two years younger, is still immune.

Once girls and women start feeling guilty and responsible, they are very easy to manipulate. They will do almost anything if you tell them they 'ought' to - that it's their responsibility or duty. I know this, because Child One will now tidy up if I approach her this way - I did it once, but ironically I then felt so guilty that I won't do it again.

Women are programmed to try to make everything work, to help their employers, to do their best for their children. When they feel defensive and guilty about the sacrifices they are making, though, they will attack - not employers or children but, most likely, other women. This is my theory about the Alphamummy piece and I'm sticking to it. The author feels guilty because she is not at home for her children, so she has a go at stay-at-home mothers instead. Does it make her feel better? Probably it just gives her something new to feel guilty about!

I've tried various options myself and find it's impossible to get the balance - either I work and see that my children feel, and are, neglected, or I stay at home (economic circumstances permitting) and feel resentful that I am denied an outlet in the wider world. There is absolutely no easy way, and too much choice just seems to equal more guilt.

Two things sum it up for me - the first comment left on the Alphamummy article, which reads something like, 'if you leave work, your colleagues won't miss you - but your children do.' The second was a line from Decca Aitkenhead, in her recent profile of Clive James in the Guardian, saying that on their deathbeds, not many men wish they had spent more time at the office.

A lot of women have no choice, however, and have to work, and work very hard, to support their families. We shouldn't attack them - and they shouldn't attack us. Ladies, let's call a truce!

* On another note, I feel very guilty - of course - that I didn't make it clear that the printer I was raving about last time was actually loaned to me by HP, so that I could review it. I think it costs something like £2,000 so there is no way I could ever actually own one myself unless (please, pretty, pretty please) the HP people take pity on me and let me keep it. It is lovely, though.

* And read about my staycation in Margate and Ramsgate on The site is a wonderful resource if you're thinking about summer holidays, and is run by the fabulous Linda of

Friday, 5 June 2009

A Lidl Bit Spoilt

All right, I admit that, ever since my return from my Disney exploits (and I promise I'm not going to tell you more about them, really!) I've been just a tiny bit spoilt. I've now just about given up expecting a buffet breakfast to be set before me when I totter downstairs of a morning, but I have become all too dependent on Waitrose's jolly primary-coloured Ocado vans delivering delicious tomberries to my door.

Yesterday, I decided all that had to stop. It was time to go back to Lidl.

The first thing I realised was that you so have to be in training for the Lidl experience. I had forgotten all its quirks. It was boiling hot inside (no aircon) and the lighting was beyond Cell Block H cruel, in fact, it was actively vindictive, for a woman of my years, ahem maturity, ahem lack of botox. Luckily, there was absolutely no-one there I knew, but in these credit-crunchy times, you can't be too sure any more. I've heard rumours - no doubt untrue - that someone looking a teeny tiny bit like my dear friend Dulwichmum has been spotted in close proximity to the Peckham Lidl. I don't believe it myself.

Anyway, I always seem to get the same trolley, the one psychotically intent on destroying as many ankles as it can ram itself into, and most of my energy was devoted to containing its rampages but I did notice that there were large signs over almost all of my usual staples (chocolates, roasted almonds, parmesan cheese, dishwasher tablets) saying they had won various consumer prizes - the dishwasher tablets, for example, were recommended by Which?, the chopped tomatoes had topped a Prima poll and the salami was heartily endorsed by Horse and Hound (no, not really!).

I was a little miffed that all my favourites have been discovered and even wondered whether they'll sell out - until I got to the check-out, and discovered that I'd left all my bags in the car (again!!). The only boxes around had tiny sides, so everything fell out. In the car park, the trolley anti-theft device kicked in abruptly before I got to my car, meaning that I couldn't shift the thing an inch, and had to get the bags out of the car, take them over to the trolley, fill them and then pack the boot, all while being watched by a large Dobermann who'd been left in the car next door and was being driven wild by the tempting aroma of prize-winning salami. Gah! They'll never sell out. To wressl with Lidl is way too much hassl.

In other news, we're loving our HP Photosmart printer, which is about as unLidlike as you can get. It's sleek, top of the range, and works beautifully thus far, though we haven't put it through its paces extensively. Despite my fears, it was very easy to install and connect, and doesn't need a wire to be connected to the computer - though, with my hatred of visible technological devices, this doesn't mean that it's been liberated from the computer corner. The HP booklet says optimistically that you can put the printer in pride of place on the kitchen table!! No, no, no. It's staying in the corner the printer always goes in.

Mysteriously for such a sophisticated beast, it has an integral fax machine. This seems like such an old money idea, rather like a spaceship having a horse and carriage attached. Does anyone send faxes any more? I remember the breathless excitement when the office I worked in got a fax - years ago. But now?

The scanner is quite another matter. I had braced myself for complicated extra installation and was reluctant to use it, until I looked it up in the instruction manual (a last resort, obviously) and it said 'to scan, press Start Scan button.' I did and, blimey, it scanned! Whatever will they think of next?

There are various other things you can do with the printer, like downloading greetings cards and printing mugs, and we will get round to them all. For the moment, though, one of our greatest excitements is to print off perfect lined paper. For some reason, Child One and Child Two are always desperate for lined paper and I never manage to buy it. Having a machine that prints it out for us is almost as exciting as having a chocolate factory next door. I said ALMOST!

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Never too early to start ....

This is a simple ahhh, or perhaps OMG! moment, courtesy of my lovely friend C, who lives Abroad and whom we all miss a lot ....just click on the link:

Monday, 1 June 2009

A moo approach

IT strikes me that perhaps I have taken a slightly 'glass half empty' approach to the cow pictures I showed you over the weekend.

It's true that the cow looks like a bit of a sitting duck, to use a worrying cross-species metaphor, as she waits patiently with her poor head stuck under the fence. But who is to say that she is not enjoying the attentions of her male admirer, as he sneaks up behind her? Perhaps he is not even sneaking at all, but is saying loudly to her, 'listen, love, all right, I don't quite have the right tool to pull you out, but I do have something here that might take your mind off things until the farmer gets here ....' And maybe, maybe, she is mooing back the equivalent of, 'oh goody, how clever of you to come over and cheer me up.'

A few male friends have certainly commented that, were they to find themselves with their heads stuck under a gate, they would consider someone coming along and shagging them as 'a result.'

I do want to be an optimistic sort of person. I want to believe that even poor cows stuck in tight corners can have lots of fun. I think the trouble with this picture, for most women observers, is that the cow has very little choice in what's going on behind her back. Though at a pinch I suppose she could always sit down suddenly.