Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Breaking news

I have a new bra. It fits. My breasts do not fall out.

I know. It's a very, very odd state of affairs we find ourselves in.

Briefly on solid ground, back onto more planes tomorrow. Blogging will resume once I've stopped being strip searched.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Picnics

Are they a dying art? Discuss.

(I was tempted to end this post there. Reminds me of my English Lit GCSE, when we'd been studying To Kill a Mockingbird, and lived in fear that we'd open the paper to find the question: To Kill a Mockingbird. Discuss.)

Anyway, reason for asking is that Neil, Mr Jamie and I had something of an impromptu one yesterday. (That's picnic, not GCSE, in case your attention span is as poor as mine.) I demanded we had quality 'family time' (in other words, we all go out and watch Kathryn spend money. Preferably Neil's money, if I can get away with it. Well, I think it's important that Jamie learns about the intricicies of economics at an early age.) and so we all went over to Chichester ("I am NOT having family time in Portsmouth.").

We'd vaguely planned to get something to eat, what with it being lunchtime, and Neil became quickly distracted by the magical cupcake shop, as recommended by Lorraine. Despite his conviction that cake would be a perfectly adequate lunch for us all, I felt obliged to play the role of responsible adult (alright, alright, you can stop sniggering now) and told him I would go to M&S and purchase Healthy Stuff. Albeit the far more appealing Very Expensive Healthy Stuff, which is far nicer than bogo standardo (does anyone else use the strange suffix of adding an 'o' onto each word in the phrase bog standard? Or is it just me and my dad? It's just us, isn't it? We also refer to the dishwasher as the discowurbler. I have no idea why. Pirton does strange things to the inside of your head.) Healthy Stuff.

VEHS and cakes purchased, we met on the grass next to the cathedral. Which sounds romantic, but then you have to realise that Mr Jamie leaping all over your head is not necessarily conducive to heavy petting. (I love that I have managed to insert the phrase heavy petting into a blog post. I now feel a desire to get it printed on a T shirt.)

And then we had our picnic. VEHS: chargrilled chicken, marinated prawns, peppered hot smoked salmon, salad and fresh fruit; followed by cakes: weird red one, less weird yellow one and BRILLIANT strawberry one with glitter on the icing and secret strawberries hidden at the bottom. (You are right Lorraine. They are amazing. We thought of you!) The sun shone, the wasps stayed away and we looked like a Proper Family (as opposed to a family consisting of Mad People - which, let's face it, is the reality).

The fact is though, that Neil and I have been together for nearly 10 years (How?! How has he put up with me for all this time?) and I'm fairly sure that this was the first picnic we'd had together. It couldn't solely be down to my fear of slugs. Such a nice, economical way to eat out, plus enjoy the English sunshine at the same time. Can it be true? Are picnics a dying art?

It was only afterwards, when I checked the receipts (supermarket spending alive and well) - I am very guilty of never ever checking the prices of anything I buy, which I sadly cannot afford to do - that I realised we'd spent over £20 on our 'cheap' lunch. Perhaps not quite so economical after all. But lovely, and made up for Jamie following it up with a total meltdown in Waitrose. (Waitrose, of all places. If it had been Asda I don't think anyone would have batted an eyelid.) I am proud to report that I can now join the ranks of all good parents: "Right, that's it, I've had enough, we're going to sit in the car." And that's what we did, allowing Neil to stay and pay for the shopping. Astute timing, Mr Jamie. Still, next time I might attempt my dad's alternative solution for supermarket tantrums. There are several witnesses who assure me this is true: Helen kicked off one day in Sainsbury's, so my dad picked her up and put her into the chest freezer. Apparently she shut up almost instantaneously. Definitely worth a try, methinks ...

Friday, 24 July 2009

The longest day

This might be it. It feels bloody long already. Not helped by me inexplicably waking up at 6am and failing miserably to get back to sleep, due to excessive excitement about ... well ... life, really. Ironic, given life so far today has been utterly mundane.

Neil is in bed. Damn his sleeping ways. I am ensconsed in the lounge with Mr Jamie. Who, thus far this morning, has undertaken the following:

1) Attempted to straighten his hair. With my GHDs. Screamed when said GHDs were removed from his grasp.

2) Covered his face with strawberries. Screamed when a strawberry fell on his leg.

3) Covered his body with porridge. Screamed when he realised the porridge was fresh out of the microwave, ergo very hot. (Before you report me to social services, I had added cold milk first, and thus far he's displaying no signs of severe burns.)

4) Requested his jeans were put on. Screamed when they were.

5) Requested (loudly) his jeans were taken off. Screamed when they were.

6) Screamed constantly as I attempted to put his top on.

7) Screamed even louder once the top was in place. Screamed for twenty minutes, in fact, until I saw the light and took it off.

8) Hit me round the head with his blankie. Screamed when he was put onto the naughty step.

9) Screamed when I took him off the naughty step.

10) Lay on my lap and silently screamed as I forced him to watch Big Brother. Well, if the naughty step doesn't work as a punishment, this is what we have to resort to.

The good news is, he's now stopped screaming and is wearing sunglasses carrying a plastic tray of bricks around above his head. (I predict more screaming in - ooh - all of 30 seconds, when said bricks leave tray and land on his head, no doubt breaking his sunglasses on the way down.) The bad news is, it's only 17 minutes past 9 and already I feel a pressing need to run round the house in circles, throw sharp objects at wall and imbibe large quantities of gin.

There you go. Sunglasses are now broken. Lens is in Mr Jamie's mouth. Lens is now being removed by me. Screaming has now commenced.

Such a long, loooooooooooooooong day.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Rice

Packet rice. It's incredible, isn't it? It's my new found discovery, and I can't get over it. How do they get the rice in the packet? How do they cook it and make it not go bad? How do they think of all the interesting flavours? How do they create a MEAL IN A BAG for less than two pounds. And what's more - unlike the ubiquitous Pot Noodle - it even tastes quite nice.

Amazing, that's what it is. Bloody amazing. And I'm obsessed. What's more, I'm proud of my obsession. Go populate supermarkets. Go purchase packet rice. Go cook it in your microwave for TWO MINUTES (I'm serious, that's all it takes) and go experience the taste sensation it truly is.

Packet rice. Love it.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Stupid planes

Arrgggh. Arrgggh and gah and arrgggh again.

It appears to be that time of year when I have to do the very thing I avoid all year, and travel on planes. Stupid planes. I fear them mightily, although there is no rational reason to do so. Most of the year, I get away with driving like a maniac in my car (see, I told you there was no logic), but every summer I am required to bite the bullet and fly to various random and remote places in order to do my job (before you get jealous, I'm talking the likes of Leeds and Glasgow here).

Given my inability to act like a responsible adult at any point in my life, it's no surprise that plane journeys and the events surrounding them are usually fraught with chaos for me, and anyone else who is unfortunate enough to come across me. There are many examples, but probably my trip to Helsinki in the summer of 2006 tops them all. I promise you that everything I write below is absolutely - regrettably - true:

It was June 2006 and I was 6 months into my current job and required to go to Helsinki for a Group HR meeting (I know, control your excitement). Obviously, this would involve flying (it's a hell of a long way to walk), but that was something I'd have to live with.

One of the most annoying things about flying to Helsinki is the fact the flight leaves Heathrow at 7.30am. When you live many miles from Heathrow, this takes a hell of a lot of planning and organisation to get there on time. Not, it could be argued, my greatest fortes. Working backwards, I knew I had to check in by 7am, so I probably needed to leave home by 5am to get there on time. That's what I'd done previously and it had worked fine.

Unfortunately, I hadn't accounted for the fact we had reached Holiday Season. Thousands of desperate holidaymakers, all fighting to reach the airport and get out of Britain. Consequently, the roads around the airport were blocked, and 7am was ticking ever closer. Eventually I reached the airport, having pre booked parking. Could I find the pre booked parking area? Could I fuck. Stopping just short of dumping the car in the middle of the road, I found the nearest - and most expensive - airport car park in the vicinity and shot off to try and find the bus to the terminal.

Arrived at the terminal: 6.55am. Should be fine, just so long as there are no ... fuuuuuuuuuuuuck. Queues. One huge queue, in fact. For international departures. Snaking right out the doors of the airport. In any other country in the world I would have tried to push in - but we are British, and queuing's what we do best. Fact.

By the time I reached the check in it was 7.10am. Attempting to brazen it out, I put my suitcase onto the conveyor and slapped my ticket down in front of the BA staff member. "I'm terribly sorry, your check in has now closed." "But it can't have, I have to get to a work meeting." (I know, I was sounding like one of those maniacs you see on the Airport/Airline programmes.) "I'm afraid check in closed at 7am, you should have been there for then." "But it's not my fault" - bring on the tears - "I was in a car crash."

I know. Straight to hell. I have no idea what made me say it. I was bloody convincing though, 3 years' of acting training being good for something at last. And it worked: immediate sympathy, arm round shoulders, glass of water proffered. "Look, don't worry. We can't get you onto this flight but we'll try and transfer you free of charge onto the next flight at 10.30am." Wonderful. Brilliant. Thank you. I am a bad, bad person.

Usually, I don't think there would have been any issues with transferring me. Unfortunately, it materialised that the cultural event of the year was occurring in Helsinki. Ergo, every last flight out of Heathrow was full. I was sat in a holding area with various other incompetents requiring transfers: desperate businessmen, separated families, small children and random old women. Finally, the announcement was made: "We are extremely busy today and there are almost no spare seats." Nooooo, I'm still new at this job, I can't fail and go home and tell them I've cost them £300. "We will be accepting two passengers on this flight, Mr blah blah blah and Mrs Kathryn *****. Please board immediately."

Oh thank god, thank god, la la la la la. I leapt like a leaping thing onto the plane, ignoring the other potential passengers' trauma and resentment, and immediately fell asleep. It's a stressful thing, all this lying.

Arriving at Helsinki Airport I traipsed through the terminal, wearing (as usual) entirely unsuitable shoes, and limping where the strap of the shoe had cut into my foot, leaving a trail of blood. Attractive, no? After twenty minutes or so of waiting at the carousel it became quickly apparent that my pink suitcase had gone somewhere else entirely - and it wasn't Helsinki. Further investigation revealed that both myself and the other transferred passenger had had our bags left ... in London. Talk about karma.

Finally arriving at my hotel - sans bag - I phoned the Helsinki office to tell them I was running late (understatement of the year) and asked the friendly hotel staff for directions to the nearest shop. Sweat soaked, flight worn, dribbled on (I was sleeping, okay) clothes, no toiletries and no hairbrush do not a good first impression make. They pointed me out the door and I wandered off, still wearing the entirely unsuitable shoes.

I'd only been walking for a couple of minutes when a random man pulled up in a car next to me and got out. Looking around, there was no one else in the vicinity. Great. I make it to Helsinki and I get gang raped and kidnapped. Is it any wonder I don't like travelling? In a very friendly voice, he asked me whether I'd like to have dinner with him that evening, and could he come back to meet me at my hotel. I pointed vaguely in the direction of a random building (hoping he might be foolish enough to believe I was directing him back to my hotel) and ran - as much as I could in the stupid shoes - back to civilisation.

Kidnapping experience over, I realised I had got impressively lost (no surprise there). In the boiling 30 degree heat I had wandered off path, and now appeared to be walking down the side of a dual carriageway. Surely not? No, I was. I'd missed my turning and walked straight up the slip road onto the dual carriageway which blocked my way to the mall. Quickly reversing, I made it over to the shops at last - only a 40 minute detour, on what should have been a 10 minute walk.

The rest of the trip continued much in this vein. I made it to the dinner and meeting, my bag turned up at about 3am (I was less excited about it then than I think I might have been if they'd waited to tell me until the morning) and I headed back to the airport the following day, in a taxi belonging to a mad Finnish man who wanted to talk to me in depth about Britain's water infrastructure. In English, thankfully, although to be honest I think I'd have made about as much sense in Finnish.

Managed to catch my plane home but arguably wished I hadn't, having the good fortune to be seated behind an elderly gentleman having trouble keeping the contents of his stomach down. This caused almost untold excitement amongst the air hostesses, who ran up and down the aisle yelling "he's used up all the sick bags, does anyone have a bag, DOES ANYONE HAVE A BAG." Yes, and I bloody well hope it's coming back with me this time. No, he cannot be sick in it. Now get me home.

So there you go. This is why I am not a recommended travelling companion for anyone who likes their trips away relaxing. Lies, missing baggage, kidnapping threats, vomit and random conversations about water infrastructure. Chaos, I tell you. Chaos.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Not really a real post, really

My life has gone peculiarly quiet, and none of you took up the challenge to dare me to do interesting stuff, so I'm back to sitting writing about just how boring I am. Well, that's not entirely true, for I am amazing and odd (very odd) and very very interesting - but it's just that nothing of specific excitement has happened recently.

Some random thoughts for you:

Why are pink envelopes so much more exciting to open than white ones? (I have just done this.)

Do size zero people actually exist? (Because, you know, zero is nothing ... I've over explained it, haven't I?)

Why will nobody buy my house? (I know, it's the naked dancing.)

Can babies eat cats? (Whole, through repeated licking. I should stop Mr Jamie, but I think the cats think it's entertaining.)

Why has a very small circle of plaster fallen off my kitchen ceiling? (There is no appendix to this statement.)

I will leave you to puzzle, while I go and attempt to un-trap my foot from underneath the pile of Harry Potter books which have inexplicably fallen onto it.

Monday, 20 July 2009

New shoes

Jamie has new shoes. At bloody last. For reasons unknown, my child had developed an entirely irrational phobia of shoe shops. Which troubles me greatly. Perhaps he is not of the Wallace line after all?

Unfortunately, Jamie - unlike most phobics - does not demonstrate his phobia by simply sitting quietly and shaking, or even running away from the source of the fear. No. When Jamie is scared, Jamie likes to shout. A lot. And very, very loudly.

The first time this happened, I suppose it wasn't entirely unexpected. I think he was around 12 months old, and when you go from being able to run/crawl/roll around with naked feet all day, to being expected to walk with several grammes of dead cow on your feet - well, it's a shock to the system. We went to the shoe shop, Jamie cried a lot, I forced some shoes onto his feet, decimated my Visa (seriously, how can something so small be so unbelievably fucking expensive? I don't spend that much on my own shoes!) and we rapidly left the premises, much to the relief of the other customers.

The thing is, he was much smaller and ergo far more controllable back then. Now? Well, it's a totally different story.

I first became aware that Jamie needed new shoes about 8 weeks ago, when I realised his angry shouting every time I put his shoes on his feet was due to the face that I was having to bend his toes double to do so. I thought about explaining to him the pain/beauty shoe ratio (which every woman with a shoe fetish will recognise only too well), but decided it was a bit too early to be getting him into S&M. That can wait until he turns 2.

So, when James was down a few weeks ago, I announced to him that he was going to fulfil his godfatherly duties and accompany Jamie and I shoe shopping. I'm not quite sure why I ever thought this would be a good plan. James and I are not reknown for our ability to remain calm in a crisis. Result: screaming Jamie, traumatised shop assistant and hysterical James and I. No, not hysterical with tears, hysterical with laughter at our utter inability to complete any task without causing mayhem. Once he'd finished screaming, Jamie simply looked at us in confusion.

Following this episode, we battled on for a few more weeks with the morning 'squeezing small feet into even smaller shoe' debacle. Jamie loves his shoes, so I think he thought this was just some mean trick I was playing on both him and his shoes. Eventually, we reached breaking point. And so, on Saturday, with a far more sensible accompanyee in tow (thank you Michelle!), we hit Clarks.

And you know what? It went okay. After an initial bout of tears and shaking, we managed to bribe Jamie out of his pushchair, and into a new pair of shoes. Admittedly, it involved the production of half a packet of Tescos lemon and raisin pancakes, a dummy, my finger and a lot of excessive praise. He likes praise, does Jamie. Like mother, like son ... But, half an hour later, we managed to leave the shop, sanity intact and new shoes firmly on Mr Jamie's feet. (For the record, the excessive praise worked. He's now obsessed with them, and keeps pointing his feet out in front of him and gesturing at them, yelling "shoes, shoes" to all and sundry.)

The trouble is, that's not the end of the saga, is it. Another 8 weeks and we'll be back in exactly the same position. Anyone fancy a trip to the shops ...?

Friday, 17 July 2009

I dare you

I'm a bit worried blogging may be starting to take over my life. Last night was a case in point:

As you may be aware, last night it rained. A lot. It started early evening, while I was sitting upstairs attempting to calm Mr Jamie out of his frenzied excitement and into something even vaguely approaching sleep. One of the benefits (ha!) of having a Velux is that when it rains heavily you feel like you're in a tent. Well, in a tent with nice comfy beds, running water and no leaks. Which is exactly how I like my tents.

Anyway, the rain got heavier and heavier, reminding me, in my post-Davina-workout state how minging and sweaty I was. (Attractive, no?) And it started to occur to me how nice it would be to go and have a nice cool shower. Better still, how nice would it be to go and shower outside. In the rain. Naked. And, as an added bonus - something interesting to write about for my blog!

So, having finally got Jamie off to sleep (I didn't particularly want him to observe his mother dancing naked in the garden, I suspected potential scarring for life), I went downstairs, removed all clothes, and announced to Neil what I was about to do. Entertainingly, he didn't even look surprised, more resigned. I suppose when you live with me you get used to this kind of thing. He walked me to the back door looking suspicious: just in time, I realised his ulterior motive, to lock me out there. Which would also have been quite funny, but rather cold. Sensibly (for perhaps the first and last time in this particular escapade), I took the back door key with me.

And so Neil watched, as I ran out into the garden, naked as the day I was born (well, apart from some black sequinned flip flops on my feet. Dancing in the rain is no doubt marred considerably if you happen to step on a slug in bare feet whilst doing it) ... and I danced in the rain. Brilliant. There is something almost indescribably nice about stepping out into the cooling rain and dancing around - oh, and knowing that all the neighbours will probably be traumatised. Hell, that's why we need to move.

So there we go, an example of the things I do to bring entertainment to my blog readers. (Although, let's be honest, it's highly likely I would have done it anyway once the idea had come into my head. I am quite odd like that.) The trouble is, now I've gone and raised the bar for doing interesting (or simply bizarre) things with my life. And I can't at the moment think of anything which is quite on a par with dancing naked in the rain. So come on people, tell me what you'd like me to do and I will totally do it. Dare me dare me dare me!

Thursday, 16 July 2009

End of the week

Working a four day week is a beautiful thing. I've been doing it for over a year now, and the concept of having to return to a two day weekend causes me to break out into a cold sweat. Because Fridays are brilliant anyway, aren't they - and a Friday when you don't have to work? Well, that's like finding Des Lynam naked in your bathtub.

Just before you start to feel jealous, let me take a moment to remind you that, while I may have Fridays 'off', I do spend them looking after Mr Jamie. Which, in reality, means I work just as hard as I do on Monday-Thursday, but have to put up with someone sitting on my lap every time I go and have a wee. Thankfully, in my job you can use the toilet alone. Not sure if that's replicated everywhere.

I'll admit to breathing a sigh of relief that we've reached Thursday. This morning was a particularly difficult start, accompanied as it was by the remnants of too much wine in my head. Out, bad wine, out. Alice and I had reverted to our usual Wednesday evening pattern (it's only fair to make it a Wednesday; if it was a Thursday only one of us would be going to work with a hangover), in theory rehearsing as The Fake Aunts, but in reality consuming our own body weight in wine, covering topics of discussion with a scope of diversity from my lesbian tendencies to Sandy Balls (no more, no more!) and laughing until small amounts of wee came out. (I'm speaking for myself here, and in no way speculating about the state of Alice's pelvic floor.)

If you are yet to experience the wonders of The Fake Aunts - well, you're missing out, we're very good. At some point we might get organised enough to set up some kind of My Space type thing so you can hear what we sound like, however I wouldn't hold your breath on that one. You'd be better off just booking us and hoping for the best. To give you an idea, I like Alice's description of our act (shamelessly stolen from an email she sent me, which I'm hoping she doesn't mind me replicating below):

"So, in our act, we will be bringing our own sofa, wearing gimp masks, sparkly shoes and hats and the one of us who can play an instrument will be lying on the floor while Mr Jamie runs around going "aaah"? Did I miss anything?"

She didn't. It's true. That is us. We rock.

Anyway, post Wednesday night joy came Thursday morning agony, as the evil wine in my head contrived to maximise my usual morning/Thursday/ongoing incompetence. I really shouldn't attempt to handle electricity by myself, managing to burn my hand on both the breadmaker and my GHDs by 7.20am. I would have ranted and raved and thrown things at them, but as they're my two most favourite electrical items in the world I gave them a reprieve.

So there you go. Three day weekends. Woo. And Sandy Balls is NOT a real place. Probably.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Return of the Velux

I knew it. Talk about tempting fate ...

Last night, Neil and I went up to bed about 10ish (Mr Jamie, incredibly, miraculously, was already asleep). Lying in bed, we debated the merits of having it opposite the Velux as opposed to under it. (I know, it's a crazy life we lead.) My argument was that, despite the benefits of waking up without a pigeon on your head or a mouth full of water, you did get slightly less of a breeze on this side of the room. Which can be nice in the summer months.

Neil then came up with some mad scientific reasoning by which he hypothesised that, were the Velux to be open slightly wider, we would get more of a breeze. I disagreed: although in theory a wider window means more air can get in, the angle of the Velux would then displace the breeze down towards the floor, rather than directing it straight at us. (I told you we were exciting.) Neil, of course, is a man, and a man who likes to take action at that. He therefore felt the need to spend the next 20 minute constructing some complex mechanism involving my pyjamas (without me in them, thankfully), the bookshelf and the exercise bike. Having done this, the combined weights of the exercise bike and bookshelf meant that the pyjama legs were pulled taut, and hence the Velux was forced open on its very widest angle. (For everyone who speculates about our bedroom antics - this is the reality.)

Proud of his work, Neil returned to bed and we gazed in satisfaction at the shackled Velux. For about five minutes.

And then the rain came. Not just rain, but gusting wind and crazy sideways leaping water. The tethered Velux jumped around, dragging the bookcase and exercise bike across the floor and whipping my pyjamas free. Most of the storm ended up in our room, until Neil performed a dramatic leap and attempted to shut the Velux, which by this time was having none of it. Eventually, we compromised, and left it half open, hiding under our duvets from the elements.
This morning, I awoke to find a lake on the bedroom floor. I kid you not. A lake. Underneath a suspiciously guilty looking Velux. Walking over to shut it, I found myself flat on my back in a pool of cold rainwater. Looking up, I could have sworn it smirked.

And so, my friends, a new era begins. We may have lost the battle, but we will not lose the war ... In the meantime, thank god for laminate flooring.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Am I boring you?

I'm boring myself, a bit. I've fully intended to blog over the last few days, but absolutely nothing of interest has come to mind. I've deliberately attempted to place myself in precarious situations (a trip running - yes, I know - and an attempt to park in The Smallest Car Park In the World) but nothing doing. As a result, blog entries have been somewhat thin on the ground.

It's now Tuesday though, so like it or not I'm posting anyway. Just don't expect any incredible revelations.

Stuff which has happened:

1) The Velux is no more! Ma-ha-ha-ha. (That was intended to be an evil laugh. I'm not sure it translates well onto screen.) Before you accuse me of failing to tell you about an excitingly dramatic moment, the reality is slightly more mundane. I didn't smash it in a fit of pique with a pitchfork (which I just happened to have conveniently at hand in the corner of the room. I mean really, who doesn't carry a pitchfork around with them these days? Such a versatile tool.), neither did it become washed adrift by excessive rain (most of which probably fell on my face). No, instead Neil responded to my moans (no no no no no, absolutely not what you're thinking) and moved our bed to the other side or the room. (What can I say. My husband is obsessed with moving furniture.) So, my arch nemesis The Velux, your midnight games of soaking me and bringing random wildlife into my bed shall be no more. Ma-ha-ha-ha. (Unfortunately, I suspect The Velux will still have the last laugh. Neil, in his wisdom, has now placed the TV directly under it. Expect tales of electronic explosions from a bedroom near you shortly.)

2) I felt poorly. And ended up in bed by 7.30pm on Saturday night. Good life.

3) Our estate agents demonstrated yet more incompetence. Having finally reached the end of our contract (16 weeks and counting), during which time they'd achieved the grand total of 3 viewings, I emailed them to tell them we would be terminating our relationship with them, due to their utter ineptness at arranging viewings, plus their poor levels of communication with us. I sent the email on Saturday. As yet, we've had no response ... Oh the irony. (I will not be quite so crass as to mention their name, but if you happen to wander past our house it's displayed for all to see. Avoid them like the plague.)

4) I ran out of money. This is becoming a disturbingly recurring theme. Ironically, it's something which has only started since I made a pledge to start saving. This may be an appropriate time to reinstate the evil laugh - or otherwise sob hysterically.

5) Mr Jamie - well, he's a loon, isn't he. His most recent thing is referring to the phone as the Hiya. He collects up the toys in the morning that he wants to take to nursery: "Duggy (dummy), Arnda (Panda), Oogle (Oogle, obviously), Hiya (Neil's old mobile phone)." Clearly, he is not going to be of above average intelligence. Or, let's be honest, even hit the 'average' mark. Mad biting half speaking baby that he is.

That is literally all I can think of to write. God, I must go and have some more adventures. The Famous Five must have been bloody knackered, thinking up new things to do all the time so Enid Blyton could write books about it. "Can we just have a quiet beach holiday this year, Julian?" "You know we can't, we've got to go along to that deserted lighthouse where the naked angry drug smugglers are waiting for us with their pet monkey." Poor old Timmy the dog.

Friday, 10 July 2009

I had a baby!

Calm down, it's okay, you haven't missed anything. I did indeed have a baby, but it was about 21 months ago. Hence the presence of Mr Jamie, loon that he is.

I have, however, been inspired by a fellow blogger. If you haven't read her blog already you should do: it's very good and can be found at the top of my list of blogs on the right. (All of which are also very good. But then you know that already, right - most of you are the ones writing them!) Anyway, she has just done a most beautiful two part post describing the birth of her baby a year ago. It's a properly lovely read, even despite the fact you're unlikely to have ever met her you should absolutely go and look through.

What it has done, is inspire me to retell the story of Jamie's birth. Bad luck. If you were unfortunate enough to see me at any point in the year following, you will already have had this imparted to you in graphic and lurid detail, and will most likely wish to look away now. For the rest of you - well, this is what happens when you're me and try and do something as exotic and giving birth. Result: Carry On Childbirth.

It all started off pretty well, which I think is probably a result of my OCD fear of being late for anything. Due date, 7am: contractions start. Perfect. Few more hours of this and I'll have a baby. It's a piece of cake, this giving birth malarky.

Next day, 7am: contractions start. Hmmm, sensing a theme here. No one told me that once the buggers started, they might sneak off for a bit. When you're me, and something as simple as going to the supermarket induces hysterical excitement, two days' of almost giving birth had me in a bit of a frenzy. Which resulted in minimal sleep. Possibly not my brightest plan.

Thursday, 5am: decided I was bored and fancied a trip to the hospital. Calling on the lovely Zoe, who was ever cheerful even at that sadistic time of the morning, we made the short drive over to the hospital. Well, at least we did once Neil had taken half an hour or so to shave his beard off. He's a man of such opportune timing, my husband.

Arriving at the hospital (Chichester, natch: "I am NOT giving birth in Portsmouth" - as loudly proclaimed to my GP), we found lots of lovely ladies who make their careers out of looking up ladies' front bottoms. And a few midwives as well. I took the opportunity to strip off from the waist down (any excuse) and insist they looked at mine. "2 and a half centimetres dilated." What? "But that's what I was when I saw my midwife two days ago." Seriously, what the fuck had my body been doing since then? Taking up a sideline in S&M?

Despite being lovely, they wouldn't let me stay at the hospital; more to the point, they wouldn't give me any drugs. ("But that's the whole reason I got pregnant!") Instead, they suggested a walk around Chichester. Don't get me wrong, Chichester's a lovely city. But were the people of Chichester truly ready for me and my contractions? Time to find out.

After an hour or so of terrorising Chichesterians with loud shouting (me, not Neil) and Cornish pasty eating (Neil, not me), Neil suggested something to take my mind off the pain. "Let's get on the train and go home." Brilliant. Just what I fancied doing. A nice train journey during the morning rush hour. Still, it might entertain the commuters.

So, that's what we did, got on the Chichester to Havant train and watched an entirely packed carriage clear completely in response to my angry "I'm in labour and I'm on a FUCKING train" shouting. Quite a talent.

The next few hours are a bit boring, so we'll skip over them. We got home, I watched DVDs while Neil had a sleep: because he was tired, bless him. It must be terribly hard work, all this beard shaving and Cornish pasty eating.

In between quite a lot of hideous agonising pain, and Neil snoring, I insisted on a few more trips to the hospital. Not quite as easy as it sounds when your husband doesn't drive. Vetoing the train, we went to and from the hospital about three times in various taxis, with various overexcitable taxi drivers. Each time: arrived at hospital, revealed front bottom, told only 2.5 centimetres dilated, sent out of hospital ("but what about the FUCKING DRUGS?!"), returned home. Angered by my front bottom's incompetence, I took myself out into the back garden and sang The Wheels on the Bus to myself to distract myself from contractions and entertain the neighbours. Neil hid.

By this point, I think we'd reached about 2am on Friday morning - so that would be, ooh, nearly 72 hours since first contraction. Enraged, I told Neil we were going back to hospital, and this time I was GETTING THE FUCKING DRUGS. Oh yes.

Taxi duly arrived (by the end of the process, we'd have racked up nearly £200 on taxi fares. Driving lessons would have been cheaper), we got in, and the cheery taxi driver asked me where we were going. "Hospital please." "Bit early to be going to work isn't it?" WHAT? Is it not obvious, by the time of the morning and the size of me, why we might possibly be going there? Reluctantly, I spelt it out for him, expecting him to start muttering about fines payable for giving birth in the back of his cab. Instead, he nearly jumped out his seat with excitement. "Oh my god, oh my god, that's amazing, I've never had a woman in labour in my taxi before." I'm not surprised, if this is your reaction. "Can I telephone through to the rank and tell them?" Yes, if you must. "Lads, lads, I'm doing a drive to the hospital, I've got a WOMAN IN LABOUR!" He shot off like a man possessed, reaching the hospital in less than 10 minutes, as opposed to the usual 20 minute drive or so. If this didn't bring on childbirth, nothing would.

Back up to the ward, front bottom out, 2.5 centimetres dilated. "Go home." Not this time, sunshine. "Noooooooooooooo, I can't go home, it hurts, I want DRUGS. I'm not leaving this room without them. 72 FUCKING hours." Bullying tactics worked. I got my drugs and loaded up on diamorphine.

Ohhhh, diamorphine, wonderful stuff. Immediately, I stopped caring I was in labour. Instead, I started rapidly fantasising about Carol Vorderman, lovely woman that she was, with her consenants and her vowels, la la la Carol I love you. Neil, selfishly, didn't share my enthusiasm for Carol, and told me to go to sleep. Just because he didn't get any drugs.

Four hours later - front bottom still stuck at 2.5cm dilated. Stupid front bottom. Neil got sent home but I was permitted to stay and have more drugs. La la la la la.

Again, the next bit is all a bit boring. Stayed on the ward all day Friday, refused to speak to anyone, got in more and more pain, shouted at a random member of public trying to be nice to me, went out into the corridor and started banging my head on the wall and screaming (I'm not joking) in an attempt to make them bring me more drugs. Guess what? It worked! Not only did I get more drugs, I got a private room! (I suspect there had been a petition.)

We were now in the early hours of Saturday morning, and I'd had a hand up my front bottom approximately every two hours, to no avail. Finally, some lovely midwife stuck her entire forearm up there and managed to somehow achieve 4 centimetres. Woo hoo, labour ward here we come!

More lovely diamorphine - what with the drugs and the low lights plus excessive exhaustion it was a bit like being out clubbing. Probably. At some point they got Neil back, they also decided that since my front bottom was so incompetent they'd put me on a drip, and give me an epidural. Didn't really care by this point: they could have put me on a podium, and given me a tattoo. Up for anything, me.

Despite their loveliness, the hospital staff didn't seem to be all that experienced at putting in drips. Three times in a row they managed to hit the wrong vein, and we ended up with blood (that'll be my blood) literally spurting up the walls (no exaggeration, regrettably). Neil got traumatised and had to go and sit down and have a cup of tea. Well, he was exhausted, had shaved his beard off, and had a man cold. Traumatic times.

Another boring bit (although great for me given it coincided with no pain - epidurals rock) which involved me lying on a bed and chatting to Neil in more detail about the Carol Vorderman fantasy. No wonder they wouldn't give me any more diamorphine. After four hours it appeared I was now ready to have a baby. Marvellous, only 100 hours or so and my front bottom finally got going. You'd never think I was so promiscuous, the reluctance of the thing to open up. So much for my allegedly 'really accessible cervix' (as quoted by the nurse who did my first ever smear test).

Pushing a baby's head out of a considerably smaller hole is fucking knackering. It took me an hour and 20 minutes, which seems like a long time but I suppose is only around 1% of the labour to date. 100+ hours, for fuck's sake. I insisted on being entirely naked (well, what else), shouted at Neil and told him I'd had enough. A normal Saturday night then. Neil and the midwife gushed excitedly about how the baby was "turning its head round, having a look around". My response: "well make it fucking stop, it fucking hurts!" Pretty sure Jamie's first aural memory will have been some kind of obscenity.

Anyway, you'll be pleased to know it all eventually ended (as will this post). Jamie came out, they told me he was a boy, we all breathed a sigh of relief, lots of mank fell out my front bottom, they gave me The Best Toast In The World (anyone who's given birth will know what I mean), I had a bath and was shipped off to my private room. Neil, bless him - well, he was exhausted wasn't he, with his man cold. So he went off for a little sleep and a rest at home. During which time he managed to entirely collapse our bed. Now I'm not saying that sounds suspicious - but really!

So there you go, I (finally) had a baby and we all got to hang out with Jamie as a result. I loathe and despise children but Jamie is fabulous and amazing and utterly rocks my world. And I bet that taxi driver is still talking about me.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Totally aimless, unmotivated, and lacking in direction

Might have been what my school report had said, were I not a straight A* student (no, it's not a made up grade, you cynical disbelievers, it's for Really Clever People) and depressingly geek-like. Instead, it's an apt description of me at precisely this point in time. I am sitting on the sofa (brown, leather, as opposed to terracotta, fabric), wearing jeans and a blue jumper, having eaten some cashew nuts and sweetcorn for tea (an interesting diet, I'll grant you) and restrained myself to only one glass of wine (necessary, after last night's fabulous excesses). I have the laptop on (obviously, I'm not writing this through the power of my mind - although that would be impressive) and the TV is rambling on in the background. Neil and Mr Jamie are asleep in bed, and I now find myself in the unenviable position of being unable to make a decision about the rest of my evening. Or, even, be motivated enough to do anything at all.

It's not been an entirely unproductive day. I got up, dealt with a lingering hangover (out, demon wine, OUT), took Jamie to nursery, took Neil to the station, took myself to work. Answered emails, participated in the senior management conference call, put together some disciplinary paperwork. Took my assistant out for lunch, attended an employment law conference, travelled the wrong way up the M3, turned round, travelled the right way down the M3, went back to work. Answered more emails, locked up the office, took myself home collecting Mr Jamie en route. Made milk and toast for the aforementioned small child, washed the loft floor (don't ask), bathed and pyjama'd small child, put him into bed and encouraged him to go to sleep, which he eventually, gratifyingly, did. Hugged Neil, created cashew nut/sweetcorn/wine extravaganza and subsequently consumed it, wrote 1,500 words of my novel. Checked emails, checked Facebook ... and came to a grinding halt.

8.50pm is an indecisive time of the evening, I have decided. (I know, what hilarity.) It's still slightly too early and depressingly indicative of 'I have no life' to go to bed. It's a bit late to start any exciting new activities, if indeed I could think of any. There is shag all on TV (selfish Channel 4, putting Big Brother on so stupidly late so that people like me with no life at all are unable to view it. We are precisely your target audience!) and I have exhausted all internet sites I may conceivably access (at least those which don't involve the spending of money. No, I'm not talking about online porn, you perverts.). Which leaves me ... well, totally aimless, unmotivated, and lacking in direction.

Anyone want to come round and entertain me? No? Well, in that case, I'll feed the cats, tidy the lounge, fight with the dishwasher of doom (may expand on this at a later point), procrastinate a bit more - and then go and snuggle in bed with my boys. My life may be a bit pathetic, but I love them both very much. See. I've gone all twee on you. Told you I needed to get out more.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Get off my breasts

Bra fitting's an odd occupation, isn't it? I don't know anyone who finished their GCSEs and set out with an ambition of becoming a bra fitter. Well, maybe some of the boys. Or the lezzers. (I'm not being prejudiced against lesbians. My best friend is gay, so it's highly unlikely. Hell, I even thought I was one for a while. I'm not. But lezzer is a very, very funny word.)

I think this topic is likely to be top of my mind because that's just where I've been. Bra fitting, not playing with lezzers. For clarification, it was my bra being fitted, not me fitting a bra to someone else. That would be a crazy thing to do, all hell would break loose, I'M NOT TRAINED! Seriously, how hard can it be? Wrap a tape measure round someone's rib cage, stare at their breasts and yell out a number and letter. A bit like bingo, only slightly more specialist.

Anyway, being reknown for my ill fitting bras I thought I'd go along and see what I should actually be wearing. I opted for good old M&S ("these are not just any breasts ... these are M&S breasts") and was greeted by a tribe of old ladies, brandishing tape measures. (Why are all bra fitters old? Is it some kind of post-retirement programme funded by the Government?)

I'm now an old hand at bra fitting, and know that it is very important NOT TO TAKE YOUR BRA OFF while the fitter is in the room. I nearly caused my first ever fitter to pass out when she entered the cubicle and found my nipples bouncing in her face. Anyway, this time all went smoothly, and I was pronounced to be a 34DD.

Yes! I am! I know that already! That's the size bra I've been buying! So WHHHHHHHHHYYYYYY are my breasts always falling out?

She had no answer for that.

So, on the plus side, I am a 34DD. Sounds kinky. On the down side, bras in this size don't actually fit me. Which somewhat defeats the point of going for a bra fitting ...

Would anyone like to measure my tits?

Monday, 6 July 2009

Twitter

I don't get it.

Is it only me? I mean, I rebelled from submitting to the lures of Facebook for the best part of a year, thinking I'd hate it. Then I joined and have barely logged off since. And a lot of people I know seem to rave about this Twitter malarky. So, I thought I'd give it a go.

I did that back in March, and was instantly so bored that I stopped. This weekend, I decided that I simply had to improve my attention span, and logged back on. It's a few months on, things will have developed, people will be more interesting ...

No. They're not. Even signing up to the 'things' (I have no idea what they're actually called) of famous people hasn't inspired me to become obsessed (for a start, Des Lynam isn't on there. So what's the point?). And, although the people I do know on there are all very nice and interesting - I already get to know all I want to know about them by being a Facebook Addict (TM).

So the only interesting person left on there is me. And if I'm only reading my own 'thing', isn't that just the equivalent of me writing every thought I have onto a screen? Which, even by my standards, is completely mad.

I'm not giving up quite yet. I will return on there at some point to write down some more of my interesting thoughts. And read them. And then ... then what happens?

Clearly I have to face facts. I have turned into some elderly woman who loudly berates all new forms of technology, telling everyone how much better it was in the old days. But it WAS better. And Facebook is totally Top Trumping Twitter. So nuuuuuuuuuuurrrrrrrr.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Didn't we have a lovely time

No, not in Bangor. I've never been to Bangor. Well, I don't think I have. But I do know the song. (That's private school for you.)

Jaaaams has gone home now, but we had a time of wonder and hilarity. I ate my first oyster (yes, really. I was scared and it felt like the remnants of a cold blow job. But tasted surprisingly nice.), we drank far too much champagne and scared and annoyed everyone we came into contact with. Probably. We also played a lot of Scrabble and I explained to James how tennis works. Given these were special Kathryn rules, it's likely he is probably still rather confused. I am not known for my sporting prowess. After three days of shopping, lunching, laughing, singing The Shouty Song and behaving like lunatics it's time to return to (my own special version of) normality. And, thanks to the removal of James' cheese of doom (I demanded he took it on the train back to Scotland with him. Apparently the other passengers were less than impressed.) my fridge smells vaguely sanitated again. Stinking cheese notwithstanding, I miss you Jaaaams, come back soon.

The trauma of James' departure was tempered slightly by me and Neil Being Posh yesterday. (No, not the Spice Girl. That would be odd and kinky even by our standards.) I took Neil to Claridges for his birthday and we indulged in Afternoon Tea. Which is glorious and well worth doing. We ensured we ate our money's worth by abstaining from all food during the day, as a result of which I think we may have set a Claridges record for the number of plates of sandwiches consumed. (Neil reckons he could have done twice the amount by himself, it was only me telling him to behave which made him abstain.) But go, be Posh and eat beautiful beautiful food. If I was a bit richer ... well, I'd be very full of sandwiches.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Velux rage

Living with a Velux. Sounds nice, in theory. Alas, the reality is something quite different.

We got the Velux fitted when we had the loft extension done, and decided to position it over our bed so we could lie in bed and watch the stars. Ahhhh. Lovely. V romantic.

NO. Romance has been the last thing on my mind since that bloody Velux made its way into my life.

The trouble is, I suppose Neil and I are partly to blame. If you keep the Velux tightly shut then you are unlikely to have any problems. You can look out and admire the view, but - and this is key - nothing can get in. Unfortunately, we both subscribe rather too fully to the school of thought of plenty of fresh air at night. A nice cool breeze so you can burrow down under the covers. Lovely.

As a result, I reguarly find myself waking from a deep sleep to discover I'm in the middle of my own personal hell, or at least that's how it feels at the time. I've taken to waking up yelling and thrashing my arms around, in an attempt to preempt whatever new Velux related crisis I'm going to be required to face now. (Neil tells me such behaviour is not attractive. I don't know, I reckon it could have appeal to certain fetishists.)

Water is predominant in such scenarios, but it's by no means the only problem. In recent months I've awoken to find a pigeon sitting on my face (or at least that's what it felt like: it was actually balanced precariously on the opened, horizontal Velux), and had a cat jump onto my stomach (fortunately it was at least one of ours. Still quite startling though when you're not expecting it.).

You do get used to being rained on, so I'm not about to start moaning about that. Last week though, I thought we'd hit new heights when I woke up, felt the rain, reached to shut the Velux - and was faced with a torrent of water which had gathered on the horizontal pane, cascading off and straight into my open mouth. Funny in retrospect, v annoying (and damp) at the time.

And then we have last night. Bearing in mind I may arguably have consumed too much wine pre-bed (but hell, what else is new?), I awoke in the early hours with some concern to find that my bottom felt somewhat - well - wet. Surely I hadn't got that stupidly drunk that I'd actually weed in my own bed?

Thankfully - no. To be honest, I think I might have been better off if I had - at least wee is warm. No, the reality was that I was now lying (along with Neil and Mr Jamie) in a bed which was, quite literally, sopping wet. A thunderstorm had passed over Havant, and the evil Velux had given it free access directly into my bed. Resulting in said bed turning into a bath. And a cold bath at that.

The bed linen and mattress will dry out, of that I have no doubt. So will my dignity and Mr Jamie's pyjamas. But the Velux? Well, my friends, the war is well and truly on.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Bouncing off the walls

Can't ... sit ... still ... too ... much ... excitement ... can't ... breathe ... JAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAMS eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

And calm.

Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

Calm.

YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRGGGHHHHHHHHHHHH!

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