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.