Monday, 11 October 2010

Are you there, God? It's me, FK.

Dear God,

As you know, I've been to Mass for a few consecutive weeks recently, so I think that I may have banked enough points to ask for a few things.

God, please may I grow some willpower? This evening I became one of those women. I went to weekly Weigh In at Slumming World and have lost 1/2 pound. Yes, that's 8 whole ozs. So, dear Lord, why can't I become someone with some will power?

And God - please let me learn to keep my temper and not snap at people at work. Via Office Messenger. As if I don't have enough 'noise', what with email and SMS bulletins and voicemails and, and, and. Now, when I'm rushing to get some meaningless shit together for a meeting which I'm supposed to be chairing and had forgotten about, I get an annoying flashing orange tab on my monitor.

Flash. Flash. Still here! Flash. And it's usually someone moaning on about something. 'FK, so and so won't do the wotsit on the do-dah, blah blah blah.' The office equivalent of dinner lady playground duty with a tugging the house coat. 'Miss! Miss! Cynthia Pringle won't let me play with Tiny Tears... Miss, Miss!'

Sorry for the shit earlier, God, didn't mean to swear. Although you've probably heard worse than shit today, haven't you?

And God, when I stand up in church and ask for help and donations for the Christmas Bazaar, please stop people visiting the church lobby and dumping all of their sh..., sorry God, their rubbish which they appear to have been saving ALL YEAR instead of recyling. Why do they leave an opened plastic bottle of hamburger relish (Best Before April 2007), in the Bottle Stall box? And why, when I ask for empty jars for the jam and chutney, God, do they leave jars...but no lids?

I know that you're really busy, but could you stop me feeling sorry for myself when my son's Facebook profile shows his 'Home Town' as my Ex's place of residence? 100 miles away. And when he lists my Ex as parent, but there is no mention of me?

Finally, God, please throw some patience my way. I get so frustrated with so many people. People in traffic jams, shop queues, across the kitchen table, on conference calls. People breathing too loudly or eating with their mouths open (Husband and Son respectively, as you know, God). I get frustrated waiting to pay at Tescos, at the library, walking along the street behind a dolly-day-dream daudler. God, I think that patience is the thing I want the most, can you make it happen, please? I will need some help, God, willpower would help.

Which reminds me, God, please may I grow some willpower?.....

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Knock, knock

Right. I'm going to sound very boring, middle aged and middle class in this post. But I...just...can't...bear it any more.

Halloween is almost upon us. Once upon a time, this would have involved white sheets pinned over my hair, talcum powder on my face to give a ghostly pallor and an evening at the Brownies' fancy dress competition.

And maybe the odd Sainsbury's toffee apple, if Mum was looking the other way.

But now? Now we've adopted the traditions from the States and we've all gone Halloween crazy. Back in August, I saw the season's first orange plastic pumpkin shaped 'Trick Or Treat Collecting Bucket' for sale in the local petrol station. Not only was it £5, it was the size of a small orange.

Why the hell would I pay that for a scrap of plastic in which I could fit just a couple of fun sized Mars Bars and a mini packet of Sweethearts?

And I know I sound a kill joy, but I really don't agree with Trick or Treating here in Middle England. It doesn't have the fun, family atmosphere embraced by our friends over the Pond. Over here the evening takes on the cheap air of greed and E numbers, as kids far too old to take part in the whole thing slosh on a bit of fake blood and traipse from house to house, screeching and shouting all evening.

These days I have to start considering several issues, weeks before 31st October.

Qs 1. Do I let my son go trick or treating with his friends, without adults? Worryingly, this question first arose when he was eight. The answer has generally been no.

Qs 2. Do I buy in sweets for trick or treaters? If so, how many?

Qs 3. Do I answer the door and give the goodies to the little ones? I always feel like the Childcatcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. It feels odd as an adult, a stranger, giving sweets to pre-teens dressed as tarty witches and slasher film victims.

A few years ago, I visited a South African friend at Halloween. I thought he was a miserable old codger after I'd rung the doorbell and he leopard crawled across the hall floor, opened the door slowly and whispered 'Get in! Get in before They see you!' Obviously strangers knocking on the front door and being greeted with sweets and smile was not the accepted practice in Jo'burg.

So this year I think that I'll turn the TV up loud, won't answer the door and will eat all of the sweets myself. Husband will come home and find me with cotton wool stuffed in my ears and slumped on the sofa, surrounded by the empty wrappers of Refreshers and Chuppa Chuppa lollies. Perfect.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

'FK of The A4174'

During my three hours in the car each day, to and from work, I've been listening to some audio versions of a literary classic - LM Montgomery's 'Anne of Green Gables'.

Then 'Anne of Avonlea'. Then 'Anne of the Island'. Swiftly followed by 'Anne's House of Dreams'. I'm now on 'Anne of Ingleside'. I think. Or it could be 'Rainbow Valley'. They're all pretty much the same.

I'm addicted. These books are the literary equivalent of snuggling under a soft, warm duvet in a twilit room with the rain beating on the window outside and an unwrapped Chocolate Orange in one's hand. Absolute bliss.

Whilst listening, I've been able to switch off from work, family, church, school and Slumming Girl diet demands. The stories are quite dated, and some of the language is a bit flowery. And I do admit to snorting my coffee when the narrator spoke of Anne and her friend looking after the baby for the afternoon 'in an orgy of girlish love making'.

Over the past few weeks, I've spent over forty hours of travel time with Anne and her chums and the manly, sexy Gilbert Blythe (sigh). I'm a sucker for these types of books. Before I was 10, I'd read all of Laura Ingalls Wilder's 'Little House' series. Even the lesser known 'The First Four Years' and 'Farmer Boy'. My hero is Jo from Louise May Alcott's 'Little Women' books. Or Katy from 'What Katy Did'. Or Caddie Woodlawn.

I yearn for their times of good old fashioned values and delicious sounding food. Plum duffs, molasses toffee, vanilla fudge, raspberry cordial, currant wine.

(Wonder how many 'syns' I'd have to note on my food diary for a plum duff......just checked Slumming Girl online syns count. 'Sorry, no record found.' I'm guessing it would come in at 500% of my daily allowance).

I'd get to grow my hair long (the obligatory plaits would sort out my old problem of looking like Dougal from the Magic Roundabout when my hair grows longer than a few inches). I'd run around barefoot. I'd eat maple syrup and snow. And apple cobbler (what?). And peppermint balls.

I'd be able to teach school after just a year of college and then could give up work and let a man look after me as soon as I got married. I'd wear a corset to give me my hour glass figure.

I'd go to church on Sundays. And would have no hoover. I'd have to walk everywhere. I wouldn't be able to spend quiet hours on the toilet after too much curry. There would be no curry.

Forget it.

I think I may have exhausted the genre of late nineteenth century North American literature for pre teenaged girls. Time to move on, grow up and get back to the present. I wonder if Nigella has written her autobiography yet?

Monday, 4 October 2010

Countdown to Christmas

Wow, it's Monday already, where did the weekend go?

I'll tell you where it went - into 25 jars of mincemeat, 10 jars of chutney, 50 Christmas chocolate cookies (I love Nigella), 2 speeches after Mass, 40 photos on a collage display, 1 row with Husband and 3 hours on the toilet.

Yes, dear friends, the church Christmas Bazaar season is upon us again and I have signed up for another year as chief organiser and stress monkey.

I made the mincemeat and chutney and covered the jars in paper and raffia etc etc etc.

I put together a display of photos from last year's Bazaar, to show everyone What Fun one can have at the event and stuck it in the church lobby.

I tried to rally the troops after the Saturday and Sunday Masses with a rousing speech about putting something back into the community, having fun and making news friends. 2 people out of a possible 200 signed up. Ho hum, little acorns and all that.

I offered to go and collect some boxes of donations from an old lady who lives in the cathedral mews. Trying to back my stupid hulk of a BMW (not my choice, borrowed pool car), through ancient gates and between narrow arches whilst being watched watched by a bunch of tourists wasn't a great idea when I was having a hot flush and a hormone rush.

And so followed the argument with Husband. 'FFS!' I shouted 'I bloody hate this bloody car.' 'You need to calm down,' commented Husband helpfully. I can't repeat what I said.

To cheer me up, we went into Bath for one of the best and hottest curries I've ever eaten. Of course, being me, I ate, ate and ate. Unfortunately I've been on the Slumming Girl diet for a few weeks so couldn't cope with the excess.

Hence the 3 hours in the toilet. Oh well, at least the curry didn't show up today at Weigh-In.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Memories are made of this...

In her most recent post, This Mid 30s Life mentioned childhood memories related to food. I commented that all of my childhood memories are about food. Mostly sweet food. And not being able to get enough of it.

'FK, do you really need to eat that?' my poor mum used to sigh (and still does, when she thinks she can get away with it). My mum and I are of the same build, with the slight difference that hers includes will power and mine doesn't. Resulting in quite different body shapes.

Anyway, some of my food memories...

Food: My Early Years

Aged 3: Mum had just finished the elaborate icing for my great-gran's 80th birthday cake. I pulled up a chair and stood at the island unit to gaze at the snowy glaze of inch-deep royal icing. I stuck in my finger and crammed in a few mouthfuls before I was caught.

Aged 4: I developed my food Spidey senses to clamber on to the side units and reach the top shelf where my perfect hostess mum kept the after-dinner mint crumbles. Bliss.

Aged 5: When eating something perfect (i.e. any form of cake), I used to walk backwards and forwards, humming to myself. I ate too much Devil's Food Cake (Betty Crocker recipe, the book was food porn) and, after treading the boards of the sitting room once too often, threw up. What a waste of cake.

Aged 6: After my sixth birthday party, I smuggled one of the greaseproof paper 'Going Home Bags' upstairs to bed and fell asleep whilst eating a lollipop. I can still remember my despairing mum pushing my head over the bathroom sink the next morning and attacking my sticky hair with a pair of kitchen scissors. 'You. Are. Such. A. Greedy. Girl.'

Aged 7: Mum must have become fed up with her younger daughter's obsessive sweet tooth. My elder sis was never a problem. In fact, at the time, Sis reminded me of boring Mary, Laura Ingalls' elder sister in Little House on the Prairie. So well behaved, I bet she never stole her baby brother's sweet Farleys rusks from the top cupboard shelf.

Anyway, Mum banned all sweets from the house. She was desperate, but surely she must have known it would never work.

I found 5p on the pavement after school one afternoon. After a brief debate with my conscience, I popped in to the sweet shop on the way to the bus stop. Sis refused to have anything to do with the whole operation and waited outside. Later that night, we were tucked up in bed when she announced that she 'couldn't bear lying any longer' and went downstairs to tell Mum and Dad about my terrible sin.


I clearly remember lying in bed, the blankets pulled up to my nose, waiting for the inevitable summons. Sis scampered back in to her bed and told me that The Parents were waiting for me. I slowly made my way downstairs, head hung low. 'You know what we wanted to talk to you about,' said Dad. I nodded. 'And you know what you've done wrong? And you won't do it again?' I shook my head. Dad scooped me on to his lap and gave me a hug. I looked up and caught him shaking with suppressed laughter.

On my return to our bedroom, Sis seemed disappointed with my reprieve. I was smug. I'd had sweet cigarettes and Hubba Bubba AND extra hugs from Mum and Dad.

You see - sweets and happy times. The perfect combination.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Broken dreams

Yesterday I was supposed to take delivery of my spanking new company car. I'd been waiting for it for 6 months. SIX MONTHS!

I'd ordered an Audi A3 Quattro, so that I could pretend that I was Alex Drake, the crime fighting side kick to Ashes To Ashes hero, Gene Hunt. I'd buy Husband a camel coat and leather driving gloves and he'd shout, 'Fire up the quattro, you dozy old bint!' I'd raise my eyebrows and would run gracefully in my spike stiletto heels to the driver's door.

Well, we know that it wouldn't really be like that, as I'd twist my ankle on the way out of the front door, or have to change into my driving shoes whilst sitting on the edge of the boot. Yet, I could dream.

But no. NO! It wasn't to be. The Audi dealer called yesterday morning to tell me that my beautiful car had been stolen from the delivery depot the night before. And that the waiting time for a new one is now nine months. NINE MONTHS! I should have shouted that I could have a baby in that time, but we both would have known that was unlikely - the Audi dealer bloke could probably tell that just by my voice.

Anyway, the company car man rang me today to say that the police haven't managed to find the car (you don't say), it's a gonner. I'll have to pick something else from stock or re-order and wait.

'What's important to you in your choice?' he asked. I managed to stop myself from waffling on about paint colour, seat pattern and number of doors. I spoke about the need for a four wheel drive, 170bhp and engine size. Acceptable stuff, I think. I veered off into asking for satnav and 'a connection thingy for an i-pod' but managed to pull it back with my request for an auto-dimming rear view mirror.

I'm now waiting for the call back, probably to tell me that my delivery of a 900cc Austin Allegro is on it's way. That will teach me to have ideas above my station.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

A foreign exchange

Recent text exchange between sisters in Moscow and Bristol:

Moscow sister: Have been cheered up by the realisation today that since we got back here I've lost 8 lbs. Does that make me shallow? x

Bristol sister: Not at all, it could have gone the other way, i.e. chocolate! I joined Slimming World on Monday. 'Gail has lost half a pound! Give her a round of applause everyone!' Am not joking. I could have poo-ed that.

MS: Isn't that why one always weighs oneself after going to the loo in the morning? To take advantage of off loading?

BS: Yes but unfortunately these days I have to off load whenever the urge and opportunity arise. I have started to be forced to use the facilities at work. And not even a secluded disabled toilet for comfort! I have been known to trawl across several floors before finding a totally empty Ladies for my sole use.

MS: It's when you start carrying a handbag sized air freshener that you need to worry...

BS: Ooh, can you buy such a thing? That may change my life. Would certainly open up more avenues and opportunities.

MS: You can. I know because Husband's mum has one...

BS: Do you think Mum has one too? Do you think it will happen to us? Am already wearing slim/discreet panty liner which I think may be an incontinence pad. It's a small step to carrying my own air freshener.

MS: I was hoping it was just a joke, not all ladies of a certain age. But now you mention it...Oh, i so don't want to grow old(er)

It's good to know that the thousands The Parents paid towards our convent school education was money well spent. I don't think that you'll find ANY spelling mistakes in that lot.