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.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

The tale of my Brother and the Cow Pat

I'm struggling to think of a subject for my post today so have decided, randomly, to write about my brother and his wilderness years.

My bro, B, has a very successful career and a beautiful fiancée but it hasn't always been so. A few years ago, I moved back with my parents, post divorce, at the same time as B. My poor folks had finally considered themselves free of their kids but realised that they were mistaken when their 30-something daughter, 20-something son and four-something grandson moved back home.

The Parents coped admirably and tried to get on with their lives in the midst of their troublesome children. Part of this approach involved going on as many holidays as possible to absent themselves from the family home.

It was on one of these occasions that my brother experienced his Week From Hell, a week that has been committed to the annuls of family folklore.


B was working in Bristol at the time, 20 miles away from home. As he couldn't afford the tax and insurance for his car (and therein lies another story), Mum had kindly said that he could borrow her car whilst she was away, so that he didn't have to rush for the bus.

'Excellent,' thought my bro on the Monday morning, 'A few extra minutes in bed'.

Unfortunately, he took a few too many extra minutes and arrived late for work. In a rush to find parking near the office, B squeezed the car into a tiny space, (my brother is An Excellent Driver) and rushed off.

In his haste, B hadn't noticed that the back wheel of the car was parked a couple of inches onto a double yellow line. That evening, he left the office and walked back to where he had parked the car that morning.

No car.

With a sinking heart, B realised what he had done, made some calls and was told that the car had been towed. He was also told that it would cost £120 to release the car from the compound. Plus an extra £20 for each day that the car remained uncollected.

Did I mention that my bro couldn't afford car insurance? And not only could he not afford insurance, he couldn't afford to release the car from the compound.

In fact, he couldn't even afford the bus fare home.

He decided to hitch-hike and started to walk the 20 miles. It began to rain. It began to pour with rain. He had no coat. Strangely enough, not many drivers wanted to stop for a bedraggled and soaking 6 foot tall bear of a man walking along a speeding dual carriageway.

He was finally picked up 10 miles from home and, as soon as he was dropped at the house, made his way to bed.


B woke up with a sore throat and raging temperature. The stroll in the rain had done for him. He went back to bed.


After waking with a minor dose of the flu, B hauled himself out of bed. Late.

He had missed the hourly bus at the nearest stop, so decided to take a short cut across the fields to a different bus route. He was sweating and shivering and probably not in the best of spirits as he stumbled across a cow pasture.

I imagine that he wondered if the gods were truly against him as he tripped on a hummock of grass and fell, face first, into a large cow pat.

Covered in manure, he decided that the day probably wouldn't improve and returned home to bed.


Reader, I'm sure that you haven't forgotten that the car compound clock was ticking - Mum's car was still trapped and the bill for it's release was growing by the day. To make matters worse, our parents were due back on Saturday.

Something had to be done.

B called his best friend, Tommy T, and, with a rising sense of hysterical panic, pored out his woes. Gallant Tommy offered to lend him the release money and to drive him up to the compound in Bristol that afternoon.

All thoughts of work were pushed aside by this point - the day would be spent getting the car back.

The pair drove to the compound and Tommy paid the fine. B finally saw light at the end of the tunnel. His life was back on track, he thought to himself.

Until he realised that he had left the car keys at home.

The compound was about to close and there was no time to return that day. B went home and to bed.


Release Day. B found the keys, hitched up to Bristol and paid the car bail. As he drove home, he was full of the joys of a beautiful late autumn day in Somerset.

The clouds lifted, the sun shone, birds sang and it was Carnival weekend. B and his new girlfriend would be partying all night. The Parents would return home, unaware of the trials of the week and all would be right with B's world.

That night B's girlfriend dumped him for gallant Tommy T. The Parents returned the next day and bawled him out for leaving the house in a mess. The following Monday, he received a court fine for unpaid car tax.

The Week From Hell.

PS - I ran this post past my brother to check that he was OK with me using his sorry tale as blog material. His additional comments below:

'As a post-script, I'd probably add that on the Monday following 'Hell-Week', I was low enough to attempt smoking for the first time.

Having spent £1.35 (yes that really is how much they used to cost) that I'd managed to scrape from various coat pockets on a packet of 10 Embassy No.1, I opened the pack and (knowing nothing about smoking lore) held the packet upside down as I removed my first smoke. Imagine my surprise when the other nine came with it, and all of them sank to the bottom of the puddle over which I was standing......... '

Tuesday, 21 September 2010


Today I'm wearing a new dress and have just realised it makes my boobs look like they are in a hammock. Unfortunately, it's an eBay purchase, so I can't send it back.

My boobs seem to have a life of their own. They are a recent development, so I don't think I'm naturally busty. They are just fat. Two large mounds of fat. Think of a double helping of school dinners mashed potato, served using an ice cream scoop (remember that?), and increase to a 72 font.

It comes to something when a 'super curvy' blouse from wardrobe for big 'n busty sufferers, Bravissimo, doesn't do up. I brought a dress from there last year which made me look like I'd been swaddled. Like a large baby Jesus. In sky blue silk. Not a pretty sight.

I remember, years ago, watching a buxom victim of Trinny & Susannah being bundled into a Rigby & Peller dressing room and ridiculed for her poor bra choice. Apparently the unfortunate bra gave her a three tier bosom: original boob layer, under-boob recoiled fat layer and top stomach layer. 'Poor cow,' I thought, 'How did she ever let herself become THAT?'

Eight years and a triple bosom later, I've also started to grow a double stomach, which is an interesting development.

But let's not go there, girlfriend, am here to talk about my amazing boobage.

Soon I'll dispense with my 34FF (measured last year, so have probably grown exponentially with my stomach), and will starting using a Baby Bjorn type of construction. Much easier than fighting with a triple fastening when I can't even see past the boobs to my hands.

I'll just sling those puppies into a baby sling and off I'll go.

Am going to Google patents pending for Boob Slings. This time next year, I'll be a millionaire!

Monday, 20 September 2010

Pay later...

The new school term has started and the clock is ticking down to the beginning of my term as Chair of the school governors for our local primary school. I've been a governor for about 18 months and, back last September, agreed to become Chair this October for a year, if no-one else stepped up.

Of course no-one else has stepped up. They're no fools.

Back in 2009, agreeing to do this was rather like buying a sofa with nothing to pay for the first 12 months. A gradual feeling of doom descended on me as the academic year progressed. A year of watching, via email, the current incumbent struggle through teacher appraisals, parental complaints, resignations and resource gaps.

As this summer wore on and the email frenzy increased, a feeling of panic would bubble up each time I opened my Hotmail inbox and I'd gulp down hysterical laughter.

And now the first full meeting of the new academic year is a couple of weeks away and I remember nothing, NOTHING, from the detailed and prolonged handover which the outgoing Chair has given me.

Why, oh why have I got myself into this situation? Again? My sad and desperate need for validation, that's why. I was flattered into it, like so many stressful jobs in the past.

'FK, I think you'd make an excellent chairman/bazaar organiser/support manager/PTA helper/scone maker/kid's club chair/fancy dress coordinator...'

'Really?' I simper, 'How nice of you, of course I'll sort out 20 Christmas stalls and clean the Santa outfit/take on 36 direct reports and do quarterly reviews/bake 120 scones by Saturday/cover 100 tampons in silver foil for bullets in ammo belts.'

I've recently started having a recurring nightmare of myself at the end of the December term. I'm sitting on the floor of the deserted school hall, surrounded by the scattered pages of a ruinous Ofsted report and draped in a Father Christmas beard and cloak in dire need of a dry-clean.

I'm rocking slowly backwards and forwards and, if you lean closer, you can hear me softly keening the words, 'Special measures...special measures....special measures'.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

I've started so I won't finish

My exercise regimes over the past decade:

2001: Dancing at the Redback (Australian bar), Acton, West London

2002: Weekend dancing that the Redback, plus daily trips to the gym

2003: Occasional dancing at the Redback. Daily trips to the gym.

2004: No dancing. Some gym trips but have started to notice the way my bits wobble and I don't really like it.

2005: Time to give myself a stiff talking to. Twice weekly personal trainer sessions. Occasional swimming.

2006: Nothing. At. All.

2007: Ditto. Apart from one morning of Davina's Power of Three. Hideous.

2008: Time to give myself a stiff talking to (sound familiar?). Occasional trips to the gym. For about three weeks.

2009: Oh, what's the point?

2010: Why, why, why?

I need to dig up some will power from somewhere before I have to be lifted out of my deathbed by a fire crew using a crane and some heavy duty cutting equipment.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Pride comes before A Fall

I spoke to my dad this morning - he and my mum are on holiday with friends in France and apparently my mum has 'had A Fall' on the beach, (once you're over 40, you don't fall over, you 'have A Fall'). She's fine, thank goodness, just a 'bruised ego', according to Dad.

This put me in mind of the great Falls of my life. Falling Over/Having A Fall is a family trait. Dad fell over last year when my son took him off to show him his den in nearby fields. Dad fell into a river and Husband arrived home to find the contents of our first-aid kit strewn across the hall and Dad bleeding in the toilet. A swift trip to the Minor Injuries unit followed. We have a loyalty card there, so it wasn't all bad news - free sterilised swaps and an extra stamp towards a bottle of Dettol.

A few years ago, pre second marriage, I'd started a new job and was quietly on the hunt for a new man. I had a new cream trouser suit, (slimmer and younger then), a new briefcase and excellent high heels. At the end of my first day, I left the office and clocked a 10/10 parked in a spanking new BMW across the street.

I caught a glimpse of myself in the office window. I'm not a vain person usually, (am well aware of my physical faults), and can honestly swear that this is the first and only time I have ever thought to myself, 'I look really hot today. I bet that guy thinks that I look really hot Perhaps he'd like to ask me out.'

Sadly, God overheard and didn't agree.

I was so busy admiring my reflection that I didn't notice a large crack in the pavement. I tripped, flew and landed spread-eagled across the pavement. My briefcase opened and files scattered across the road. I lay still for a few moments, contemplating the pain in my knees and the existence of a higher being.

I'd love to write that the 10/10 jumped out of his car and ran to my aid. Unfortunately, this was not to be the beginning of a great romantic episode with a new father for my poor neglected four-year old. The bastard stayed in his car, staring firmly at the road ahead.

I scrabbled around for a bit, clutching the knees of my torn trouser suit and stuffing crumpled papers back into my briefcase and then stumbled, half crouching, around the corner to my car. My ego, though dented, lived to fight another day. The suit did not.

I won't go in to the details of later Falls. The torn ligament on the ski slopes, the humiliating ride in a wheelie office chair across the packed lunch canteen after I slipped on a pea and broke my ankle. I won't tell you about the fall up the cathedral steps after a christening, when I was wearing a mini skirt. Or the time I caught a heel in my wide legged trousers, stumbled and took out several dividing walls of office pods (although the domino effect as the dividers crashed down was quite impressive).

No, I think I'll leave it at that, as God knows he has won and, although I may continue to Fall, I have not worn a cream trouser suit since.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Menopausal blues

I've been feeling really old recently. Turning 40 last year wasn't so bad. Turning 41 in June was a shock to the system. Particularly as it coincided with me being diagnosed with going through the early menopause. What fun. Just at the time I was about to go back to the fertility clinic to try again with another round of injections, inductions, in-whatever else they could think of.

Ho hum. At least I had an explanation for the hot flushes, headaches and truly incredible mood swings. A couple of months of HRT later and I'm feeling more human. Still partial to the odd low key tantrum, kilo of chocolate and mooch about feeling sorry for myself, but generally OK.

It was our son's 14th birthday this week. He's now as tall as me and I was brought low the night before by memories of the smell of his baby hair and the final realisation that I will never have that again. A couple of hours of mooching ensued.

Husband pulled me out of it by telling me that, if he was granted one wish, it wouldn't be for a baby. He would wish that I would feel better about all of this and enjoy our life together, just as it is. As he's been as desperate for a baby as me, that really struck home and I've started to feel better.

Of course, the fact that we've booked a couple of ski holidays for next year has lessened the blow.

Monday, 1 March 2010


It was our wedding anniversary yesterday, so naturally we spent the day cleaning the fridge and oven. I'm ashamed to say that I did indeed buy the drill for Husband. He followed the advice of Cat's Whiskers (see previous post comments) and went for Le Creuset. And jelly beans.

But it's not all bad - we were spring cleaning in preparation for Husband's parents, who are coming to stay this weekend. They'll be looking after the Son for a few days whilst we go skiing. Yes, dear reader, I ditched the idea about skiing in half term and on Saturday, Husband and I fly out for a week in France, sans kid.

All excellent stuff, but it does mean that the house has to be PERFECT before the In-Laws arrive. Well, it does according to Quality Assurance Standard BS900015731354878421, (also known as Daughter-In-Law Benchmark Standard) which states that 'The Wife must prove that all living standards are of a measure equal to or higher than those provided when the Husband was in the care of the Mother-In-Law.'

Look it up, it's true.

Actually, my MIL is fantastic and I love her. I love her particularly as she put up with my appalling behaviour during a holiday in Australia a few years ago. A holiday which she and my father-in-law paid for (flights and all). We forgot to mention that I was mid fertility treatment and in the throes of a forced menopause (don't ask). I'm sure that she thought I was a Mary Poppins DIL before then. Two weeks of mood swings, tantrums and sulks showed her that I was NOT practically perfect in every way. Oh dear.

Although she was understanding, it took another year and a week in the Lake District when I was a very good girl, to show her that I was almost normal and her poor son (nicknamed The Chosen One by his long suffering sister), was not trapped in a loveless and abusive marriage.

Anywho, back to my point. The Great Spring Clean is almost complete. We've used every Lakeland product which had festered unused in the utility room cupboard and the kitchen is now sparkling as much as the new (safety) pin currently being used to stop my Gap blouse gaping in some inappropriate places.

Time to start on Son's bedroom. If you don't hear from me for a few days, send in a search party.

Monday, 22 February 2010

In sickness and in health

It's our wedding anniversary this Sunday.

We don't do Valentines, but we definitely do wedding anniversaries. I still can't believe my luck in finding and marrying Husband, so love to celebrate each year. However, I have absolutely no idea what to buy Husband this weekend.

Year One: For out first anniversary, Husband made me (yes, made) a photo album, covered in the same material as my wedding dress and filled with our best wedding photos. (This was no mean feat, as I looked like Jo Brand in most of our photos).

Year Two: For the second year, I brought him dinner and a night in a superb hotel a few miles away.

Year Three: Tiffany earrings and a sexy number from Myla. (Can't remember what I got for Him, as all rational thought left my head as soon as I saw that white ribboned box).

Year Four: I brought him a digital key ring filled with photos from our life together. Ah, cute. (See Year One for similar comment about Jo Brand lookalike photos).

Year Five: We treated ourselves to a week's ski-ing. Child free.

And so, to Year Six. What to do...what to do? I've mentioned a double stacking cake carrier and he has dropped subtle hints about a cordless drill with built in spirit level.

God, why don't I just skip to suggesting a Stannah Stairlift and incontinence pants for him and a one way ticket to Switzerland for me?

Sunday, 21 February 2010


My son has had six weeks to complete a history project on Samuel Pepys. It was supposed to be four weeks, but the teacher gave his class an extension as he 'wasn't going to be around to mark it'.

Since when do teachers give thirteen year olds a fortnight's extra time for homework? The old bats at my school seemed to live for the occasions when some poor pupil hadn't finished her homework. They rubbed their hands together with glee, whilst calling the offender up to the front of the class for the ritual convent school humiliation.

Anyway, I digress. Six weeks to complete a 'project' which in modern educational speak means a brief Powerpoint file on the meatier highlights of the subject's life. Some stolen snippets from Wikipedia, a couple of jpegs thrown in, a cursory snoop by spellcheck. Job done.

Well, not this time. I was determined that Son would do the job properly and marched him down to the library a few times to research, the old fashioned way. I made him come with me to work, so that he could spend a day trapped in the office, writing up his notes. I hoped that this would serve a couple of purposes:

1. Force him to sit and do his homework with no distractions.
2. Make him realise that, if he continued his education in this slap dash, teenaged manner, he too would end up stuck behind a PC in an office, wondering where it had all gone wrong.

Satisfied that my maternal duty had been fulfilled, I left him to it.

So, taking into account the draconian measures I'd been forced to adopt before my son wasted his WHOLE LIFE before it had even begun, I was suprised to see that yesterday morning, a mere two days before the work was supposed to be handed in, he had hardly started.

I did what every sane mother could do. I left the house, walked into the town and nursed a couple of coffees whilst reading Red magazine for a couple of hours. I returned, refreshed and ready to do battle. I fully expected the usual drama to be played out in our kitchen:

ME: You have got to start taking this seriously. You can't just drift through your school life, trying to make people laugh and being popular. You can't get by in the grown up world with just a firm handshake and the Queen's English.

SON (Gazing into the distance, just above my right shoulder): It didn't seem to do you any harm. Relax. I'll be fine.

ME: Don't be cheeky. Look at me properly. Do you think that I grew up, wanting to be an I.T. manager? I don't care what you do, as long as you try your hardest and use your talents to your full potential.

(Husband reminders me later that Son's talents are, in fact, making people laugh and generally being popular).

In fact, Son greeted me at the door to tell me that the homework is finished and asked me if I'd like to check it for him.

I spent half an hour reading the project and realised that it's excellent and that, if he doesn't get an 'A', I will have something to say to his tutor.

I really don't know what the moral is behind this story. Relax. It'll be fine.

Friday, 12 February 2010

You don't bring me flowers anymore

It's Friday evening and I'm still in the office, working late. Again. I've just spoken to Husband. I think that my dinner will be in the (imaginary) dog. I'm really tired, it's been a long week and we're working on a fault which apparently can't be fixed. Am feeling slightly hysterical. But, as one of my guys just pointed out, it's situations like this which define a team. Or some such rubbish.

So, it's Valentine's Day on Sunday. Husband and I have agreed that we're doing NOTHING as it's a ridiculous frenzy generated by the card industry and blah blah blah blah blah.

Of course, what Husband doesn't realise is that, if I don't get a card, he is a dead man. What am I saying, forget that, if I don't get flowers, he is a dead man. We've been married six years and this is the first time he's mentioned St Valentine's Day in this jaded and cynical way. What will be next? Our wedding anniversary? My God, my birthday?

It's because I've been working late, isn't it? It's because he's been at home, helping with homework, cooking dinner every night, washing the kitchen floor and hoovering the cat. He's normally very good at role reversal (apart from that incident with the Ann Summers fireman's outfit), but perhaps it's all gone too far. Perhaps it's time to go home and buy some flowers.

Right, am off to retrieve my dinner and make amends. Have a great weekend.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Take my breath away

The excellent Trish at Mum's Gone To has tagged me for a meme about important songs involving childhood memories. As Trish says, it's all about trying to work out how old we are by the songs we mention.

Well, as this is the first time I've been tagged, I wanted to give this some consideration and spent most of the weekend trying to conjure up my early memories linked to music. Sorry, can't do it. Perhaps this is because we were force-fed Radio Three and modern jazz as kids, but probably because all of my important childhood memories are linked to food. What a surprise.

So, I've reached into the depths of my truly embarrassing collection of teenage memories...and have pulled out a real corker.

I'd just turned 17 in the summer of '86, (there, have saved you doing the maths) and spent three fantastic weeks travelling around France and Italy with twenty other co-ed sixth-formers and two very patient teachers. Let me paint the true picture of what I was like, at Just Seventeen. I'd attended Catholic schools since the age of four. I had two very Catholic parents who lived in fear of my sister and I being Led Astray (with good cause, as later came to pass. But that's a story for another day). I'd never had a boyfriend. I had plenty of friends who were boys. But no Boyfriend.

Anyway, the trip was perfect. Sunny days in vineyards, warm evenings in piazzas, Florence, Assisi (Catholic school, after all), Venice, the Massif Central, the lot. All the time, flirting for my life, with T. T was the Naughty Boy. Of course he was - when you're 17, Good Boys are dull. Naughty Boys are forbidden, exciting, dangerous and off limits.

So, I spent three weeks trying to get him to notice me, without success. We returned home. In one last attempt to win the man of my daydreams, I convinced my parents that I had to hold a 'reunion' party at ours before the start of the new school term. T arrived. Queue more flirting. He laughed at my jokes. He complimented me on my new perm. Finally, finally he was noticing me.

The night wore on, the party was drawing to a close. For God's sake, T, make a move, notice me, notice me! He pulled me to one side and asked for my number. This was really happening, the culmination of my summer campaign, this was it, don't mess it up, don't mess it up FK...don't do or say anything stupid, just give him the bloody number.

I smiled up at him...and farted. Yes, dear reader, in my excitement, I broke loud and triumphant wind. Panic farting had never happened before, and has never happened since. Well, what was a girl to do? I gave him my phone number and we both continued as if I had not just made a total tit of myself during the Most Important Moment of My Life.

He pretended to write the number down and left.

I hoped that I had just imagined it all. Even when he didn't call, I convinced myself that he'd just lost the number. I continued to dream.

Now, I wish that this was the end of this sorry tale. Alas, no. We returned to school in September and I think T also may have convinced himself that IT had never happened and he asked me out. I had a second chance. We went to the cinema to see Top Gun and sat a discrete distance apart - no hold handing, no yawning and surreptitiously stretching an arm around me. Perhaps T was worried about another wind outbreak.

We left the cinema in the late summer evening, the strains of Berlin's smooching ballad 'Take My Breath Away' still in our heads. We got the bus home. He walked me to my door. He moved in for the kiss...

Have you ever clashed teeth whilst trying to kiss? It's really, really painful. More painful than biting your lip or stubbing your toe. More embarrassing than farting. Well almost.

I can't remember the details of the moments which followed. I think my fragile teenaged brain just thought that enough was enough, this chick had gone through too much searing embarrassment for any girl, it was time to shut down.

We didn't go out again. I don't think we even talked again. Luckily, I realised that T wasn't for me when he snogged my best friend at another party the following weekend. I think he was just proving to himself that he wasn't a totally useless kisser.

Well, that's why I told myself every time I heard that annoying song after it remained at Number 1 for weeks that autumn. 'On this endless ocean, finally lovers know no shame.'

Oh, Berlin, how wrong you were.

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Mirror, mirror on the wall...

I have to write quickly this morning and finish this before Husband arrives home after taking our son to meet his dad for the weekend (Son's dad, not Husband's dad. That would be a more pleasant and less stressful experience for everyone). I'm supposed to be clearing out the spare room, not lying around in bed, reading OK and Hello magazines, drinking coffee, then getting up at 10, using all the hot water and wandering around the house, thinking about tidying up but instead surfing the net for summer holidays we can't afford.

It's a beautiful day. The sky is the light royal blue of my old convent school uniform, the garden is glistening with frost and is absolutely freezing. Perfect. Just the sort of day one shouldn't spend sorting out the spare room. Actually, there are two spare rooms but I can't face them both.

The bed is covered in the debris of our not so recent ski trip. Yes, the clothes are clean but they need to be sorted. I have to decide whether we do need 4 packs of playing cards, 6 travel cushions and the Crap Cars Top Trumps which seemed a 'must buy' item at the airport.

But the real problem lies with the 'summer wardrobe' which also needs to be addressed. It's time to admit that I'm really not going to fit into those size 10 denim shorts from 2002. I'm not even going to fit into the size 12 bikini from 2005. Yes, I'm on a diet but really - a size 10?

I absolutely loathe doing the Charity Shop Sort. The clothes lie in suitcases and vacuum pack bags, reminding me of failure in so many ways: my incredibly lax attitude to money (so many clothes too small, never worn), my abandoned exercise fads (there's a bag of Sweaty Betty gym gear, still with labels intact) and my steadily growing waistline (size 10, size 12, size 14, size SIXTEEN?? What the hell?).

We're on a low fat, low carb healthy eating kick at the moment. Husband was dismayed to step on the scales on Day One (24 hours down, only the rest of our lives to go) and realise that he's now the heaviest he's ever been. I didn't tell him that I weigh only five pounds less than him. As happens so often in my forty-something life at the moment, I snuggled deeper under the duvet, my inner voice screaming, 'Just how the bloody hell did that happen?'

It's time for change, for the sake of my bank balance, my sanity and my marriage. Husband is fantastic and loves me as I am. I'm not sure why, as I was a size 10 when I met him and we're both suprised to find me, six years later, regularly throwing clothes around the room before a night out after finding that the dress which looked passable on the shop hanger doesn't look passable on a size 16 with massive boobs (I never try anything on in shops, as this breaks my First Commandment: Thou shalt never look at thyself naked or undressed in a mirror).

Anyway, Husband is just pulling up outside, so I'm off to run upstairs, throw clothes around and look stressed so that he thinks I've been trying on those denim shorts again and will forgive me for doing bugger all whilst he's spent three hours in a car taking my son to meet my ex-husband. Isn't he lovely?

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

We'll be singin' in the rain

A few days ago, we attended a training course for campsite stewards. For a VERY popular festival which takes place nearby at the end of June most years. (Forgive me being slightly cryptic, I don't want to be sued here).

Our local primary school supplies volunteer stewards each year, in return for a substantial contribution to our PTFA fund. These placements are in great demand and you have to be in the parents' Circle of Trust to be invited.

This has never bothered me in the past, as I had no desire to return to the festival after my toilet experience of 2003. I won't go into detail, you just need to know that it involved sunglasses, me being drunk, a portaloo, lots of wet wipes and an early exit from the festival. It all taught me that I was too old for these shenanigans. A brief return to the genre at Camp Bestival last summer just reinforced my decision.

So, I'm not sure how Husband and I ended up sitting in a sports club hall for three hours at the weekend. I think that I was touched that we were asked and that someone had considered us in their summer plans. Something like that. And we would be mad to turn down free tickets to the main music event of the year, wouldn't we? Even if we had to walk around a campsite for a few hours, wearing a fluorescent tabard and a smile. It would still be worth it. Right?

Er, not sure. There were fifty of us locals, all of a certain age, all linked in some way to local schools. That was the only thing we had in common. As there was so much information to disseminate in a relatively short space of time, the trainer had hit upon the excellent idea of splitting us into twelve groups and asking us to present on certain topics.

You need to bear in mind that the majority of the delegates had not presented or spoken in public before. This made translation of the important messages a little difficult, but here's what I learned:

1. The busy time for campsites is arrival and exit times.
2. It sometimes rains. Bring wellies.
3. Interact with the Public. Smile. (This may be my biggest challenge).
4. When someone is shouting at you, don't look them in the eye - it may turn to violence.
5. Disability means that some people may be in wheelchairs.
6. If someone has a heart attack, radio for help before filling in the Incident Form.
7. Learn the hand signals. (This one resulted in us signalling Attention, Medical Emergency, Fire and Violence to the tune of The Village People's 'YMCA'. A truly surreal moment in a surreal morning).
8. If you find a lost child, 'Don't touch 'em, right, don't touch 'em. You can ask for their name, right, but don't touch 'em. Just ask them their name and ask them where their parents are to'.
9. If someone is suffering from sunburn, put them in the shade.
10. If you are escorting a vehicle through a crowd, don't walk in front of it. It may run you over.
11. If you see an unattended fire, smaller than a waste paper basket, stamp on it with your foot.
12. If the fire is bigger than a waste paper basket, you may need to call the Fire Brigade.

There didn't appear to be a test at the end of the training, just biscuits. So I guess I'm in. See you all in June. I'll be the one in the fluorescent tabard, scowling behind the toilets.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Five o'clock shadow

This evening I noticed that my cleavage has started to 'crepe' and I pulled a hair from my chin that could have doubled as a pastry brush. Just what the hell? Now I don't have to worry just about my weight. Oh no, I have a whole host of lovelies coming my way.

My mum is sixty-five and looks fifty. Her mother is ninety-six and looks eighty. The maternal genes have drunk from the fountain of youth. When I was ten kilos lighter, friends of my mother would mistake me for her. Although it did cross my mind that I should be disturbed that I was mistaken for a sixty year old, I took comfort in the thought that I would still look that way when I was approaching seventy.

It was not to be. My sister, who won't mind me telling you celebrated her fortieth a while ago, has never dyed her hair. Ever. As far as I know, she doesn't have to book extra time for a waxing session. She can stick to a diet, (probably due to our early training - my mum was an Eighties convert to the F-Plan diet - we were the only pre-pubescent kids I knew who ate bean sprouts). Sis is stacked with the maternal genes.

It appears that the only thing I inherited from my mother is the family gene for male pattern baldness, which translates in females to polycystic ovaries. Super. Everything else is from my dad's side. The under active thyroid gland. The early twenties acne. The odd migraine here and there. Oh, and the Eyore-isms and general propensity to look on the dark side of life.

When I'm recruiting at work, I'm now able to look at CVs (well, the ones of those people who ignore the latest guidelines against including age. They're just showing off) and remember, quite easily, what I was doing the year of the candidate's birth. As an adult. I was already working when these bloody people were born.

How did that happen? One minute I'm making a total arse of myself over some teenage boy, the next I'm considering the options of waxing or bleaching.

In the old days, rather than take a handbag clubbing, I'd stuff my money and lipstick in a fag packet and tuck it in to the top of one of my stockings. These days I could probably fit a whole duty-free box of 200 Marlboro Lights under one boob.

Which reminds me of another thing. Stockings. I tried some on a few weeks ago, in a vain attempt to bring some sexiness back to my day. One glance in the mirror at the garter belt biting into my stomach showed me that I was trussed up like a joint of beef. The offending article was quickly removed and I vowed never to look at myself naked again with my contact lenses in.

I suppose that's a positive side to growing old. My eyesight will get so bad, I won't be able to see the moustache, the boobs skimming the floor or the three inch beard. Ignorance is bliss.

P.S. I just had to come and edit this quickly. As I saved the post, Google helpfully popped up an advert for permanent hair removal.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Let sleeping cats lie?

Yesterday we got up at 05.30 (yes - ZERO five thirty) to start our new exercise routine. As we both work long hours and still want to eat and talk to our son, we decided it would be good to get the 30 minutes of pain out of the way at the beginning of the day.

I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that 60 seconds into the routine (boxercise: whaaaat?), I was retching over the toilet. I like to think that my blood sugar levels were out of kilter (the medical term) at that time in the morning, which makes me sound like the over weight, hypochondriac that I am. And before you comment, I'm certainly not pregnant, just very unfit.

This morning, I stayed in bed and drank tea rather than throwing up. I can't tell you how much I love my bed. It has an electric blanket and my husband in it - two of my favourite things in the world, perhaps not in that order.

Anyway, after Husband left, the cat kept me company and we both crawled out of bed at the last possible moment, just before the point when we were really late - me for getting ready for work and for waking up the Boy, and the cat for more sloping around on every comfortable surface in the house. I can't really blame him - we shut him in the garage for 24 hours by a mistake on Tuesday, and he still hasn't forgiven us. I'm trying to make it up to him - hence allowing him to sleep on our bed.

Actually, I'm lying and trying to create an impression that I'm a well ordered woman who keeps a pristine home and never allows her cat to sleep on her bed. This woman certainly doesn't have muddy paw prints on her favourite duvet cover that won't wash out, even at 60 degrees. I'm not that woman, and the cat sleeps with us every night (unless locked in the garage), shoe-horning himself into any available space and driving a wedge between me and Husband, literally. I woke up at 02.30 (yes - ZERO two thirty) this morning to find the cat's head next to me on my pillow, staring at me silently, his eyes reproachful, as if to say 'Don't think I've forgotten Tuesday night'. This was too freaky even for me, and I chucked him off.

There's nothing worse than a cat who takes liberties.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010


I haven't updated my blog since I started a new job last September. The job itself is going very well, but if I could type whilst sitting in traffic jams, this would be the most active blog in the world.

In fact, I'd probably also have time to speak to my friends, update Witter and send constant posts to the BBC News 'Have Your Say' site. My husband, (a closet Daily Mail reader, I'm sure), comments on news items regularly and has spent many a happy hour ranting with the rest of Middle England. I've just taken a look and the latest post on there is from the user 'Slightly to the Right of Genghis Khan'. I'm not joking.

Anyway, apart from parking on the local ring road every rush hour with the rest of the South West, I have been spending the last few months working hard at becoming a Better Person.

This has involved becoming a school governor and organising our church Christmas bazaar. You are reading the blog of the woman who was on Page Three of the local Chronicle during the first week of December. Pictured standing next to the parish priest. Holding a tray of cakes. Now, does it really get any better than that? I am the love child of Mother Teresa and Linda Snell of The Archers.

Not content with the halo already growing around my head, I parked a car for someone who was on crutches AND gave a lift to an old lady stranded on ice. How can I move on from those heady heights?

My son would probably say that charity begins at home and that I should give him a break from the nagging and negotiations that now count as conversation in the morning...'You've lost it again? Well, where did you leave it? Do you think that we're MADE of money?..'

My husband would ask for more waxing and less wailing...'I'm so fat...I can't bear it anymore...I'm the BEFORE picture on the Hannah Waterman fitness DVD...'

January is the time of staff performance agreements (thirteen down, three to go), so it's time that I set myself a Specific and Measurable objective. How about this one?

By the end of 2010, 80% of my customer base will agree with the statement 'FK is a better wife and mother'
1. I will shut up sometimes
2. I will make my son eat at least 1 of his 5 A Day
3. I will keep my beautician appointments and will not complain about the pain

Actually, I forgot the Realistic and Achievable parts to SMART objective setting. Scratch out Deliverables One and Two and the second part of Three. I need to leave myself something to aim for in 2011.