Wednesday, 25 May 2016

If you're going to have a baby, read this first

Because mealtimes in our house are never a) normal, b) relaxing, or c) conducive to finding your dinner particularly appetising, on Saturday lunchtime Jamie launched into the following:

'Mum, if you're about to have a baby, you need to make sure you go to the toilet first.'

'Um... okay. Why?'

'Remember, you told me. After you have a baby it really hurts to have a wee. You said so.'

We were all a bit nonplussed.

'I won't ask what it was about your dinner which made you start thinking about giving birth, but yes, you're right, it does hurt.'

At this point, Beth decided to join in the conversation.

'And, Mum, you should also have the toilet before you have a baby, because otherwise YOUR BABY MIGHT FALL DOWN THE TOILET.' Mass hysteria followed this proclamation.

'It's unlikely, but yes, I suppose it's a vague possibility.'

There was a brief - wonderful - pause in proceedings, before all hell was unleashed, and my two children decided to create their own list of absolutely everything they thought someone would need to know if they were planning on giving birth any time soon. If you're planning a baby... save yourself some cash and don't bother buying yourself a parenting manual... just work off the list below:

  • Make sure you go to the toilet before you have a baby (see above).
  • Don't whinge while you're having the baby. Even if it really hurts.
  • Don't throw your baby.
  • Don't hit your baby over the head with its car seat.
  • Don't leave the baby at the hospital.
  • Don't taste your baby's poo.
  • Don't give your baby wine or crisps.
  • And, most importantly... don't put your baby back in your tummy.
In eight and a half years... this is apparently what I have taught my children about parenting.


Monday, 23 May 2016

I don't like children

My weekend was extremely full of small children.

This is not a good thing.

You see, here's the thing. I just don't like kids.

Let me rephrase. I just don't like almost all kids. (And I don't like the word 'kids', either, and shall revert to using the word 'children' instead, forthwith.)

Obviously, obviously, Mr Jamie and Beth are the notable exceptions. I am clearly heavily biased, but they are barking mad enough to make me convinced that they are absolutely marvellous.

But children who aren't Mr Jamie and Beth?

Nope. Not so much.

(Now, if you're reading this and you happen to know me in real life... don't worry. Your children are perfectly tolerable. And yours as well. Except for yours, who definitely aren't.)

Before I had children, well meaning acquaintances told me that my stance on all things snot and noise would change the moment I popped out my own. 'You'll immediately turn into a hybrid of Mary Poppins and The Pied Piper and immediately see the error of your ways', was the general gist.

Well: no. I'm sorry, but I didn't. (That's a lie: I'm not sorry at all.) The delight of most people when faced with a small child is an absolute mystery to me. They smell. They shriek. They emit bodily fluids from every orifice. They wear their food. They can't construct proper sentences and have no interest whatsoever in yaks, pink champagne and Des Lynam. In short, we have absolutely nothing in common and I refuse to be drawn into this ridiculous conspiracy that small children - other than mine, natch - are in any way, whatsoever, cute.

Absolute bollocks. I can say, hand on heart, that I would rather be faced with a room filled with blue cheese than I would a room full of small children... and, knowing my fear and loathing of all things blue cheese, that is really saying something.

Back to the point.

This weekend, I had the good fortune to attend not just one, but TWO parties filled with children. I know. My cup floweth over.

Mr Jamie was very worried about me. 'Are you going to be okay, Mum? You don't like children, and there are going to be loads of them there.' I gritted my teeth and assured him that I would be fine.

I think part of my problem with small children - particularly en masse - is the horrendously low standards a large number of people seem to have when it comes to their children's behaviour. When your marker of success is if your child hasn't bitten every other child at the party... then we have something of a discrepancy between your expectations and mine.

Somehow, I got through both parties... accepting somewhere along the way that, alright, I suppose it wasn't all about me. (Always upsetting when it isn't, mind.) Mr Jamie remained incredibly solicitous and steered me away quickly from any small child which strayed in my direction. (Quite what he thinks I'm going to do with them, I don't know, but he's probably right in that we shouldn't hang around to find out.)

Monday morning, we were walking through the school playground. Beth was, as per usual, joined at the hip to her best friend and was telling her about her weekend. Remember: this is Beth. When I say she was 'telling', what I really mean is, she was 'shouting at a pitch and volume which could likely have been heard by all local residents in a 2 mile radius'. I was walking a few paces behind them, along with a number of other parents and carers, none of whom I knew particularly well.

'So I went to not just one party, but TWO parties, and my mum had to come too, and it was awful, because do you know what? She HATES KIDS.'

I fear my invitation to join the PTA may somehow have mysteriously got lost in the post...

Friday, 20 May 2016


Ever so occasionally, Beth's own particular brand of madness leads to almost - dare I say it - a moment of genuine inspiration.

Such an occasion arose one evening, when I found her in the hallway looking somewhat pained.

'Beth, what's up?'

'I'm trying to make myself need a poo.'

'Um... why?'

'So I can fit some more cake in.'

I hate to admit it... but the girl's a genius.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Shit like this does not happen to normal people

In the world of most normal people, I imagine their morning routine once they've left the house goes along the lines of: get into car, drop children off at school, get back into car, drive to work, arrive at office/factory/farmyard and commence day's activities.

My life is rarely this simple. I've already shared with you my rainy day school drop off. On yet another suitably ridiculous morning, I had to stop off at Tesco having dropped the children off at school. (No tampon had made contact with my face in the playground this time around, so I was already counting it as a success.)

Now. It is well documented that I do love my ridiculous shoes. I mean, when you're lacking in coordination, why walk around in a sensible pair of comfortable trainers designed to help you remain upright... when you can put on a pair of 5 inch stilettos and end up in the gutter instead?

On the day in question, I was wearing a pair of particularly difficult shoes. They were the kind of pair which, had they been a dog, you'd have immediately booked them in for a series of puppy training classes in order to teach them how to behave in public. But, much like a puppy, they looked unbelievably gorgeous and like they couldn't possibly cause you any issues. And thus I persevered with them.

Arriving at Tesco, I grabbed my bag and made for the travelator. Distracted by a flurry of emails on my mobile phone, I had almost reached the top floor... when I realised we had a serious problem.


Yes, my difficult shoes had decided to cause havoc, and one of the two (metallic, hot pink - they are utterly beautiful) stiletto heels had only managed to become wedged in one of the narrow slots between travelator panels.

I would like to say I remained completely calm, but we all know that would be a lie.

I panicked like I'd never panicked before.

'OHMYGODOHMYGOD I AM GOING TO DIE.' Due to the earliness of the hour, the travelator in both directions was entirely deserted. Even the grumpy security guard who was usually at the top of it was missing. 'WHO IS GOING TO SAVE ME IN MY HOUR OF NEED?!' I was inches away from the top of the travelator... I was going to be sucked into travelator oblivion and mashed into tiny little pieces...

... or, alternatively, I could just take my foot out of my wedged stiletto and walk to freedom.

Yep, so, immediate panic over, I managed to not entirely lose the plot and work out I was being an utter idiot who could simply step out of her shoe. Which was all good; but then I had a new crisis to deal with.


I can honestly say that, at this point, I was actually contemplating whether it would be better for my foot to have been mashed rather than my beautiful shoes. All sense of poise and dignity entirely vanished, I grabbed one side of my stiletto and pulled... and pulled... and pulled...

... and, no more than an inch from the top of the travelator...


And a small crowd had gathered to watch the crazy lady wrestling with her shoe on the travelator.

Tried to style it out and walk away with my head held high.

Fell over.

Welcome to my world.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Rage. I has it.

Startling though it may be to hear, ever so occasionally, I get ever such a little tiny bit wound up.

I know. With such a stable, laid back personality as mine... it's a wonder, right?

It's also true to say that not all of my rants are rational.

But Oh. My. Goodness. Me.


I was listening to a song in the car on my way home the other day. Unfortunately for me, the car, and the passing commuters, as I had a hire car for the day I couldn't plug in my phone and lose myself in my usual Lloyd Webber/Sondheim fusion. (Once a musical theatre student...) Instead, I was forced to listen to Radio 1. (Well, it was either that or Radio 2... and at the point I start listening to Radio 2, I might as well give up on listening to music entirely.) (Well meaning people keep telling me that I'm wrong to feel this way, and that Radio 2 is actually quite good these days. In response to their feedback, I gave it a go. No. You're wrong. It isn't.)

Now, I will be the first to confess that usually, with the myriad of inane thoughts racing around my head on any given day, I am a self proclaimed Does Not Listen To The Lyrics, listener. However. Turns out, if the lyrics are horrific enough, they break through even my unhinged stream of consciousness.

And thus it was, on this particular afternoon, that the voices in my head screeched to a grinding halt... when this particular 'musician' attempted to rhyme the words:






Me?! Me?! ME?! As in, rhymes with 'bee', 'see', and 'three', 'me'? In what FUCKING INSANE world, you crazy, lyrics of a mad person, musician, did you think it would be okay to rhyme ME (that's MEEEEEEEEEEEE) with DAY (DAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYY). You can't just start pronouncing the word 'me' as 'may', just because it might then fit in with the theme of your song? I mean, what happens next? We start rhyming the words 'dog' and 'cat'? 'Love' and 'hate'? 'Orange' and 'antidisestablishmentarianism'?


No, I have no idea what I've achieved with any of the above either.

Friday, 13 May 2016

Owl Juice

Even by her standards, Beth got confusing recently when she came into the lounge and asked me for some Owl Juice.

'Some what now?'

'Owl Juice.'

'All Juice?'

'Owl Juice.'

'Owl Juice?'

'Owl Juice.'

Having repeated the phrase 'Owl Juice' so many times I was in danger of losing my own mind, I asked her to show me what she was on about.

She took me to the fridge, opened it and pointed defiantly. 'OWL JUICE.'

Can't argue with her logic.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

The Post Office

About a year ago, my best friend James came to stay. James is a male, slightly camper (if such a thing were possible) version of me. I would say we get a bit hysterical when we spend any amount of time together, but I'll be honest, I'm not actually sure that 'hysterical' goes far enough. (In an unusual moment of generous free publicity (which isn't centered around me), he's also about to open in what promises to be a fricking awesome production of Parade the musical. If you like your evenings filled with incredible tunes, staggering talent and uncontrollable sobbing... then you should book tickets immediately.)

Right. Back to me. Or, more to the point, back to Beth. So, the thing is, when James and I get together, chaos tends to follow. This has always been the case, right back to when we were co-habiting drama students, on our way up to the Co-op for another bottle of petrol-cheap Soave... clad only in our dressing gowns... We basically epitomise class.

And then we throw Beth into the mix as well.

On the morning in question, we were Doing Chores. For some inexplicable reason, I quite often save my more onerous chores up until James is with me, either to distract me from the boredom, or to simply increase the possibility of it all going horribly wrong... I can never be quite sure.

Amongst other things, we had to take a trip to the post office. Beth begged to come with us. Her idea of a great day out is frequently perplexing. Nevertheless, we agreed she could join the post office trip, and off we set.

On this particular Saturday, the post office was woefully short staffed, with the queue snaking back almost to the door. Fortunately we weren't in a rush, and Beth and I settled in to wait while James disappeared to the card shop next door to purchase some birthday cards which needed to be urgently sent. (Part of our friendship centres around our shared philosophy: why complete a task today which can be put off until you're right up to the wire and in a cold sweat about it.)

After about 15 minutes, James returned. The queue had moved infinitesimally slowly in his absence; we'd made it past the end of the sandwich fridge up to approximately the Scotch eggs. Embracing true British spirit, no one queuing was doing anything so anti-social as actually talking. Bar the murmurs of the solitary post office clerk as she dealt with each customer in turn, all was silent.

And then.

In what must have been a split second decision - leaving me absolutely zero opportunity to grab her and sit on her - Beth took matters into her own hands.

Stalking out of the queue to the front of the line, hands on her little hips, she stood centre stage and positively screamed at the poor, overworked post office clerk, not so much breaking the silence as smashing it to smithereens.


When James and I are not the most embarrassing people in the room: you know it's bad.

Fortunately, her outburst didn't result in the lynching I feared, and instead in a room full of smothered laughter from people who were probably slightly relieved that Beth had simply voiced what we were all thinking.

I decided not to make eye contact with the post office clerk as we posted our overdue birthday cards. And, to be on the safe side, have never been back in that particular post office since.

Mortification: thy name is Beth.


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