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.