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.