Monday, 14 April 2014

The Fake Aunts: BREAKING NEWS

Some of you might remember (come on, wake up at the back there) that I'm part of a folk duo, generally referred to as The Fake Aunts. Today, something very exciting occurred. So here are The Fake Aunts* to tell you all about it:

*(AKA me. Trying not to sound too schizophrenic. It's not working, is it?)

So, we are The Fake Aunts. Which is something of a misnomer, what with us not actually being aunts. Or, at least, we weren't, when the band first got together. We are now, which puts something of a downer on it. Expect a rebrand to The Very Authentic Aunts any time soon...

Anyway, after that dreadful opening, what we wanted to do was to let you know about Some Stuff Wot We Wrote (and sang, and played the guitar really badly in). Which, terribly excitingly, you can now get on amazon.com. (That's the American version of Amazon, but apparently even us remote British people are allowed to access it and buy things. Which is very good news.) Once we'd finished falling off our own chairs with the excitement of it all (not to mention the magnum of champagne we downed in celebration), our thoughts turned to Telling Everyone We'd Ever Met Ever about this Stuff Wot We Wrote. And they weren't interested. So we thought we'd turn to random strangers instead.

Basically, there are two strands to The Fake Aunts. As follows:

Strand One. We write about and sing about nice, whimsical folky stuff. Lots of wistful laments about unrequited love, that kind of thing. A good soundtrack to relationships which are going wrong, pets which are being put down, bins which aren't being collected. That kind of thing. The album's called What We've Not Got, and here it is: http://www.amazon.com/What-Weve-Not-Fake-Aunts/dp/B00ICZJ72W/ref=sr_1_2?s=dmusic&ie=UTF8&qid=1397500298&sr=1-2&keywords=The+Fake+Aunts

Strand Two. The album is called Clitoris. It's 'Explicit'. We figured if that wasn't enough to get people interested... In this album one of us lets all of the mad thoughts which are trapped inside her head fall out in the form of a collection of songs about clitorii, saggy tits and Des Lynam. (The other one of us bravely goes along with this madness and makes them sound far more beautiful than they have any right to.) It's... eclectic. And probably not one to play to your children. Or parents. Or anyone who's sober, basically. Here it is: http://www.amazon.com/Clitoris-Explicit-Fake-Aunts/dp/B00ICZJ6XM/ref=sr_1_1?s=dmusic&ie=UTF8&qid=1397500336&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Fake+Aunts

We'd LOVE (in an almost carnal sense) for you to click on either one of the two links above (dependent on your Myers-Briggs personality type) and go and have a listen to the little free fragmenty bit that you get on Amazon (in which we might almost sound okay). Then, if you're really brave/henpecked/drunk, you might even want to go and buy one or two of the tracks. And that's great, because that will keep us in enough gin to create the next ode to an OAP celebrity with an awesome moustache. Finally (Mum... Dad... people who owe me money), you might actually decide to leave us a lovely Amazon review telling us how brilliantly lovely we are, and how much you love to listen to songs about getting your genitals caught in zips. And that will really, really make our day.

Much love and many clitorii (well: two, actually... we're not quite that odd),
The Fake Aunts xxx

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Who needs sticky backed plastic anyway?

I'M STILL HERE! Slightly odder (no surprise there), slightly skinnier (hooray!), slightly less lacking in sanity (but of course), but still here. And apparently I have a - quite woefully neglected - blog. Hello blog. Hello blog readers. I've missed you all very much.

There's been a whole heap of things going on - remind me to tell you about the recent spate of thefts chez us (seriously, if Mr Jamie visits you any time soon you need to strip search him at the very least on his way out) at some point. However, this particular post is all about Beth, me, and all the reasons I never became a Blue Peter presenter.

I picked her up from nursery the other day, and was handed a long strip of cardboard and a paper plate.

'These are for you to make her Easter bonnet with her. We need it back after the weekend.'

'WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT?'

'Yes, it's an opportunity for some parent-led learning.'

'Is it fuck. Have you seen my crafting skills?'

(I obviously didn't say the last bit, that was my internal monologue alter ego. She's much cooler (and braver, and less lacking in fearful respect for authority) than I am.)

Needless to say, no weekend crafting was done. On Monday they reminded me again. 'Have you made her Easter bonnet yet?'

'Listen, I have something to confess to you. I am crafting-inept. We have no crafting materials whatsoever in our house. This is why I pay several zillion pounds for Beth to come to nursery and do crafting. I CAN'T DO THIS.'

They took pity on me. 'Here, take these. Just don't tell the other parents.' A Pritt-Stick and assorted fragments of cloth, tissue paper and ribbon were handed to me. I eyed them warily.

'And what does it need to look like?'

'It really doesn't matter. The idea is that it just provides an opportunity for the parent and child to do an activity together.'

BECAUSE I AM STUPID, I TOOK THEM AT THEIR WORD.

The next morning Beth and I arrived back at nursery with her 'Easter bonnet'. (Inverted commas very much justified.) I made a point of not meeting the eyes of any of her nursery workers as we handed it over. Bonnet making was complete, Beth was delighted with her (entirely self created) creation, and I'd even remembered to bring the Pritt-Stick back.

And then I arrived at nursery to pick her up tonight.

And saw THIS:


Easter bonnet making epic, epic fail. I ask you. Do they look like they were created by 3 year olds? I think not.

Beth's in the picture because she was so delighted that her 'Easter bonnet' had been placed at the front. (I can't blame the nursery staff: I'd have done the same in their position.) Let's zoom in and have a better look at it, shall we? Prepare yourselves...


And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you make an Easter bonnet. If you are me. And Beth. 

Creative Mother of the Year Award? Send it this way. Anyone got any creative creations that can beat that?

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

How To Do Legoland



Yes, I know what you're thinking. Me? In a child orientated theme park? Surrounded by hordes of other small children? Is there enough gin in the world for that kind of scenario?

And, I'll be honest, all of those thoughts were very much in my mind as Mr Jamie (on a school inset day), Beth and I piled into the car yesterday and set off on the hour or so's drive to Legoland to meet my mum. Any activity which requires me to be in a child friendly environment is very much not playing to my strengths. However. I do, believe it or not, love my children rather a lot, and the thought of how much they might potentially (and, having paid the no-two-ways-about-it EXTORTIONATE ticket prices, I hoped 'potentially' was going to be rather more 'definitely') enjoy it had driven me to what I can only describe as an act of madness on my part. And so off we went.

And you know what?

It was flipping BRILLIANT. Brilliant, pretty much without reservation. Believe me: no one is more startled by this than me.

Driving home, running over the day, I realised how grateful I was for all the online blogs and forums featuring Legoland which had allowed me to plan out our day in military detail. (You can take the girl out of the workplace...) And so, in the interests of giving something back, not to mention providing another opportunity to feature The Best Photo Ever (more on which later)... here are my Legoland Top Tips For 2014.

(And yes, Legoland experts, feel free to laugh roundly at me, having visited once, attempting to provide any kind of expert insight. Well, let's just call these Tips From A Once Visited, Still Slightly Bemused, Amateur.)

1) Go out of season. On a Monday. Not in the school holidays. If you do nothing else, do this. Yes, I know, it's a bit shit for those of you who can't take holidays during term time. Believe me, I know - Neil's a teacher, so there was no chance of him coming along yesterday. But the difference it made (based on everything I've read) was astronomical. We walked STRAIGHT ONTO every. single. ride. Consequently, my interaction with other random small children was minimal (I won't mention the small child climbing up the inside of the slide in the Duplo playground... let's just say I don't think he'll be doing that again :-) ) and my children's enjoyment of the day was maximum. We will never be going back again... unless it's on a Monday in March.

2) Plan your day. We'd elected to tell Mr Jamie and Beth in advance what we were doing, which meant they could scour the website in forensic detail and pick out their must-do-or-I-will-DIE rides. It probably didn't matter quite so much given there was no queuing for anything, but it did mean we could prioritise certain areas. Legoland, for anyone who isn't already aware, is BIIIIIIIIIG.

3) Leading neatly on from the last point, if you're in any way in two minds as to whether you should take a  pushchair... DO IT. Beth is 3.5 now and more than capable of walking for an extended period, but she is a) lazy, and b) difficult to reason with. The pushchair was extensively used, to cart around not just Beth but also all of the stuff we'd somehow managed to bring with us. Leaving it when it comes to going on rides is no problem - there are pushchair dumping zones all over the place. (If you're as absent minded as me you may well end up leaving it in one of these areas for several rides' worth of activity, before your mum dares to ask whether you'd deliberately left the pushchair behind... had she not, it is highly likely Legoland would have obtained a new pushchair (and a picnic lunch!).)

4) Take a picnic. We ate ours watching the 12pm pirate show (recommended - the kids loved it - although get there 20 minutes + early to get a good seat) and it was very handy not having to shop around for something to eat. Not to mention bank-account-pleasing - snacks later in the afternoon came to nearly £10 for 4 of us - ah, the power of a captive audience.

5) Take copious photos. Mr Jamie and Beth have enjoyed looking at ours almost as much as they did the day itself.

6) Don't forget about the less popular activities. Building Duplo towers on an 'earthquake simulator', building Lego Heroes, Miniland and the AWESOME Star Wars Lego exhibition were all hugely popular with my two, and pretty much deserted when we were there.

7) YOU WILL GET WET. This, actually, is an utter understatement. YOU WILL GET ABSOLUTELY BLOODY SOAKED. Legoland clearly enjoy having a laugh at the expense of the adults in the party... so even those rides you think surely can't have a water based theme (an Orient Express train ride, anyone?) feature random Lego models squirting water at you. (Beth found this hilarious and laughed like a drain throughout. Other, less random children may be slightly more alarmed.) We came prepared for this and had a change of clothes for all four of us... and goodness knows they were needed.

8) Assuming you've done the sensible thing and purchased your tickets via 2 for 1 vouchers, Tesco Clubcard vouchers, etc, it is well worth having some cash put aside for your small children to visit one of the many shops. Yes, they're inevitably over priced. But the range of Lego they have is (as would be expected) outstanding, and watching Mr Jamie today (on his second inset day) playing non stop with his new Star Wars spaceship (built, by himself, before I even had to open my eyes this morning), has seamlessly extended our Legoland experience into a second day and ensured he has a lasting reminder of the day. (Although that arguably came in the form of The Best Photo Ever...)

9) Legoland in March closes at 5pm, and so we left shortly before 5 and headed just down the road to Loch Fyne in Ascot - about a 5 minute drive away. Very child friendly, but equally not child themed, so we could enjoy some decent, nice tasting food in a proper restaurant and DRINK WINE while the kids coloured in, mute with tiredness. Exactly how I like them.

10) And finally. And finally. I am not one for spending out vast amounts of money on theme park 'sundries'. Particularly the photos that you get after you come off rides, heinously overpriced at £10 at Legoland (although I believe there is a 'photo offer' you can choose to purchase should you want to buy more than one). However. Just occasionally, an on ride photo emerges which is so utterly, utterly flipping brilliant that the £10 you pay seems like a small outlay compared to the hours of entertainment it gives you.

Ladies and gentlement. I give you... Mr Jamie, on the pirate log flume:

Photo: is going to suggest that no small child, ever, has pulled quite such a brilliant face. Bravo, Mr Jamie, and bravo the log flume at Legoland. 'I thought I was going to die Mummy. Can we go on it again?'

The. Best. Photo. EVER. For those of you who are concerned about his wellbeing... don't worry, the ride was immediately followed by this conversation (as I squeezed water out of every last item of clothing that I was wearing, and wondered quite how one dried off one's pants in Legoland):

'What did you think of that Jamie?'

'To be honest Mummy, I thought I was going to die.'

'Oh. So you didn't like it then?'

'I loved it! Can we go again?!'

And we did. Again. And again. And again.

So, so, very wet.

In summary: an absolutely cracking day out, best summed up by Beth as we left and drove out of the car park that evening.

'I love Lego. Oh, I LOVE Lego. Bye bye Legoland. See you on Sunday.'*

*she is deluded

PS Because I think one is supposed to declare these things these days... no, of course Legoland didn't pay for me to go and visit them. Like any children's activity would encourage the presence of Mr Jamie and Beth. All tickets were purchased with my cold hard overdraft cash and all thoughts, comments and soggy pants are entirely my own.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

A Letter To My 22 Year Old Breasts

Dear Breasts,

I just found a photo of you, aged 22, in all your glory.

I MISS YOU GUYS.

Seriously, where did you go? Well, obviously I know where you went. South, mostly. For warmer climes, no doubt. It's understandable.

But when I look back on you now... 10 years ago... oh my goodness me. It's true: you don't know what you've got until it's gone. Or given into the call of gravity. Quite how you defied the natural laws of physics in such a way, goodness only knows. I should have known it was too good to last.

Not, you understand, that I've mistreated you. I've never taken the call of women's lib as encouragement to throw my bra into the fire and set you free. Not me. (Not least because I didn't really fancy the two inevitable resulting black eyes if I tried moving around sans bra.) No, you've always been gently clad in scratchy lace, polyester and two steel wires. (Funny, when I write it down like that it doesn't seem quite as appealing as I always thought it might be.) Encouraging your defying-gravity ways.

I'm not sure when you lost your 22 year old shine, pertness and wonder. You might possibly have retained it for another two or three years past then, until suddenly you had two small mouths attached to two shouty sucky things launched upon you in quick succession. (I wouldn't moan about it though. You should see what my vagina has to say about babies...) Faced with that kind of assault, who can blame you if you - well - deflated.

Oh, and then there was the on off on off on off FOR TEN WHOLE YEARS weight loss/gain. A harsh choice between spherical globes of beauty (and a fat arse) and hanging sacks with their bottoms filled with lard (but pert butt cheeks). It's a difficult one.

There was a time when you guys were REVERED. Revered, I tell you. By me, at least. And I don't think Neil has had too many complaints. Now though - well. I'll be honest. I look at you, and I want to weep. Weep for your innocent, unadulterated youth. If the 22 year old you could see the you of today... well, it's just as well I didn't shatter your dreams like that. Denial is a marvellous thing. Even for mammaries.

And so, Breasts, I ask this one thing of you. Please, whatever you do, don't continue the next 10 years in the same rapid state of decline. It's a terrible thing when you start to physically recoil from parts of your own body. And it's not like my children aren't going to need enough therapy as it is. Nipple leg warmers are vastly overrated so please, stay where you are, and think strong, gravity-defying thoughts.

You're going to need them.

Best,
Me

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Shit Pants

'Mum?'

'Yes Beth?'

'Where are your shit pants?'

'Um... what?'

'Your shit pants. Where are your shit pants?'

'My what pants?'

'Shit pants.'

'Pardon?'

'Shit pants.'

'I don't understand.'

'Your SHIT PANTS, Mum.'

'My pants?'

'YOUR SHIT PANTS.'

'I DON'T UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU ARE SAYING.'

'SHIT PAAAAAAAAAANTS.'

'I. DON'T. UNDERSTAND.'

At which point she glared at me, gave a dramatic sigh, and turned her back to leave the room.

'Fine. I get them for you.'

I waited. She returned. Brandishing in one hand...

'Here you go, Mum. Your shit pants.

Or, as you and I might refer to them... an eye patch.

And no. Quite why she thought I needed an eye patch for work... nope, no idea.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Maternal instinct

When I went to pick up Beth from nursery on Tuesday, I had the following related to me by one of her nursery workers:

'So, today Beth's been playing Mummies with one of the staff.'

'Oh, that's nice.'

'Yes... To be honest, we're a bit scared about what she might be like as a parent.'

'You and me both. What did she do?'

'Well, first of all she told Kelly that she was the baby, and that she had to lie down in bed and go to sleep RIGHT NOW.'

'Sounds like Beth.'

'And then she started talking to Kelly, who didn't answer, because she had been told to pretend to be asleep. So Beth went up very close to her face, and started shouting: "YOU GET UP RIGHT NOW AND LISTEN TO YOUR MUMMY OR I WILL NEVER FEED YOU EVER AGAIN." '

'Goodness.'

We must never let her breed.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Of Beth

Who is rapidly pushing her way past Mr Jamie when it comes to producing blog-worthy material. I always thought having a child who produced as much blog material as Jamie does was a one off... but apparently not.

Yesterday I picked her up, as I do usually, from nursery. She was, by Beth's standards, relatively pleased to see me (this meant I got a hug, as opposed to a 'I staying at nursery. You go away', which is rather more typical of her), and came over to put on her coat before we had her handover and then filed out past the other children who were sitting down ready to listen to their story.

'That Harry Mummy.'

'Oh. Okay.'

'He wearing a blue top.'

'That's lovely.'

'LOOK, Mummy. Look at his blue top.'

'I'm looking, I'm looking. It's a lovely blue top.'

'Bye Harry. Bye bye Harry. HARRY! BYE BYE!' Poor, harangued Harry finally looked over and acknowledged Beth. 'Harry, you want a kiss?'

'No.' I didn't blame him.

'I give you a kiss anyway.' And she strode over and proceeded to throw herself into an attempted snog with the unfortunate Harry. He, desperate to escape, turned his back on Beth. Beth, not deterred even slightly, enthusiastically snogged the back of his neck before turning and walking back to me with the rather threatening retort to him: 'I see you tomorrow'.

Slightly speechless, I walked her out of the nursery.

'Mummy, Harry my boyfriend.'

'Oh good.'

And Keira... Keira my girlfriend.'

Good grief. Lock up your sons - and daughters - parents in the local area. Beth is on the prowl...

In an unrelated, but even more brilliant Beth anecdote, on Sunday I was upstairs in my dressing area trying on a dress I thought that I might wear for the work event which is currently taking over my life, and which finally goes ahead on Friday. (Such a shame I can't blog about work - the blog material it's been producing is outstanding.) The main criteria for the dress was that it had to be non-slut-like. (That's the technical term there.) Pleased with the results, I turned round to Beth, who was watching me closely and somewhat suspiciously.

'What do you think, Beth? Shall I wear this for my big work meeting on Friday?'

She eyed me with utter disdain.

'That not a dress. That a top.'

Probably not, then.

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