Monday, 24 March 2014

The Seven Ages of Mam

I got to thinking recently (it's an unusual event and one that I thought deserved a post) about the life cycle and the way things change and move on as one generation passes and the next one moves up to take over.  I'm not sure what brought out this philosophical streak in me; it might have been all the recent publicity about the centenary of the First World War, it might have been the realisation that my mum is becoming more and more frail as time moves on or it might just have been my children getting arsier and more know-all with every passing day.  Perm any one from three.

Somewhere in the midst of all this unaccustomed (and frankly exhausting) mental effort, I recalled Shakespeare's monologue "All the World's a Stage" and this is where the offspring comparisons begin.  

How many years is it since my two were tiny - 'mewling and puking in the nurse's arms'?  Oh boy, I was Queen of my Kingdom (erm, sort of) back in those days.  I ruled the roost, I made the rules and I elicited unconditional love from my children.  I was the shining sun in their world.  Honest.

Me and my boy on his 1st birthday.
Lawks my hair was a lot redder in those days!

The smiliest baby ever!

Then the years flash by and we meet 'the whining schoolboy, with his satchel and shining morning face, creeping like snail unwillingly to school.'

Smiling as it was his first day at school.
Don't be fooled.  He screamed daily for
the next three weeks :(

All of a sudden, you're not quite as omnipotent as you once were. Other people's mums are "fun" and "cool" and "make brilliant cakes" and your crown begins a slow slide...
Moving on, you meet 'the lover, sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad made to his mistress' eyebrow'   Oh yes!  They discover the opposite sex.  Let joy be unconfined!  Having navigated the terrible twos you now find you are at the mercy of the terrible teens. They are heaving with hormones, mortally embarrassed by the fact that you so much as breathe and imprison themselves in their bedrooms, where they spend time cursing God for giving them the oldest/stupidest/uncoolest/most unreasonable parents in the northern hemisphere and, like it's NOT FAIR - Josh's parents let him stay out till 4am/go clubbing in London even though he's only 14/provide loads of booze for his parties/let girls stay over...WHY ARE YOU SO DUMB?  The crown has now slipped to cover your eyes, which is probably just as well as it may prevent you seeing just how little your daughter is wearing when she leaves the house.  
Gawky teen

Grumpy teen
At this stage of the game, you are subject to quiet exasperation and mild disinterest.  The crown has now descended far enough for the bloody thing to strangle you and you wonder why having children ever, ever seemed like a good idea.  When you voice this opinion, your offspring (who thanks to a tsunami of hormones have grown 3 feet taller than you overnight) smile pityingly and pat you on the head as they make for the fridge to eat planned meals one, two and three that you thought would see you through till the weekend.
   (And now Blogger has thrown the formatting out.  I hate it.)

Then the light at the end of the tunnel (and this time, it's not an oncoming train). They give the impression of turning into grownups and we meet ' The soldier...full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard...',  At this point, one of them has taken the Bard literally and sprouted a fine beard.  In fact, he was sent home from school to shave more than once.  Herself has become very aware of facial hair and spends hours plucking, waxing and generally engaging in massive deforestation efforts.  She is also mighty sensitive to the mention of hair, viz this recent conversation:-

Daughter: I can't go out looking like this! (voice rises hysterically - points to top lip).
Mother: You look fine - honestly!
Daughter I've got a MOUSTACHE!!!!  (Sobs in despair)

The situation was not helped one jot by the Shah deciding a little levity was in order and shouting "fuck me, it's Freddie Mercury!" the next time she entered the room.

Beardy Boy                                                                              
Not my daughter.

So while they are in the prime of life and, these days look like this...

 and this

The Shah and I find that we are rapidly heading downhill and 'In fair round belly with good capon lined,' (ahem - which one of us would that be, Shah?) not to mention shifting 'Into the lean and slippered pantaloon, with spectacles on nose and pouch on side; his youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide for his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice, turning again toward childish treble, pipes and whistles in his sound.'  

I'll leave you with a quote from my son who gave me a kindly look recently and patted me softly on the shoulder.  "The thing is mum," he said smiling, "you're just old and mad."

Monday, 24 February 2014

Explicit content - 400 Fannies....

So where was I?  Suddenly (and much to my horror) I have realised that it's over a month since I managed to write anything on my poor, dessicated blog. Over the past few weeks life has been (for no particular reason) like an explosion in a WTF factory (and once again I tip my hat to Auntie Gwen for the loan of her fine rhetoric).  Work has been ridiculously busy, the Shah and I have been like ships in the night and the highlight of my evenings has generally been falling asleep at about 9pm.  Yay me and my thrilling existence.

So I was blundering about, vaguely thinking up things to write about when the ideal topic fell into my lap. So to speak.  Ahem.  I happened to visit a great friend who is always good for a laugh.  We met at ante natal classes and our kids grew up together, so we've developed the sort of shorthand you only have with friends you've known for over 20 years (yikes!) This time, the conversation turned to the presents she had been given for her recent birthday.  

Before I go any further, I should point out that my mate is a Sexual Health Educator and does a sterling job going into many local schools and running their sex ed programmes for them.  So it's safe to say that there is nothing she don't know about every nook and cranny of the human body and no question that she ain't been asked in one of the anonymous question boxes she invites kids to use in her lessons.

So I admired the personalised iPhone case with a picture of her dog on it but then she suddenly jumped up and said "I almost forgot to show you this!" With that, she delved into an Amazon box and produced a glossy, grey book entitled....) are you sitting comfortably? (I wish I hadn't said that).....


No, I'm not joking and, just to prove I'm not joking, here's a photo of it.

The premise of this (extremely strange) book is that an artist invited 400 women of all shapes, sizes and persuasions to come along and have their bits cast in plaster.  He made the results into an exhibition.  If you feel like taking a look, the link is here.  As the website claims, "it's not vulgar, it's vulva!"

Hmmm, no shit, Sherlock.

I had a quick flick through and, let me tell you reader, there were some sights to behold.  Although I am not an ardent student of the female pudenda, I can say that there are things in that book that look as though they belong in a Ridley Scott film.  Alien, probably.  Others that resemble those fancy mushrooms you find in high-end supermarkets - all strange gills and weird contours.  And as for the piercings.....they brought tears to the eyes.

Flaps away, girls!

Some of them made me wish I hadn't eaten quite so recently.  Others made me wince in wonder when I saw just how many piercings the female anatomy can accommodate.  Don't these people clank when they walk?  If not, why not?  How do they get through airports without setting off all the alarms?

These and sooooo many more questions.

Visit the website - have a browse.  I dare you...

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Return to slender...

It's the time of year when the air is filled with the tinkling sound of resolutions being broken right left and centre.  I am feeling uber-smug at the moment because my decision to have a 'dry' January has so far held out for 15 days.  Yay me!  The Shah announced that he would join me.  Approximately 10 minutes later I heard the distinctive sound of a can being opened and the Shah wandered into the sitting room clutching a tinnie of Fosters.  Yes - he had already "forgotten" about it.  Hmm.

I am going to be well tested at the weekend though, because we will be celebrating a significant birthday for the Shah.

Unfortunately, he is the world's most difficult person to buy for so he has a motley assortment of gifts awaiting him including (drum roll please) a MANKINI!  Yes - a lime green one just like Borat wore in the eponymous film. And this - for the uninitiated or just plain unaware is what a mankini looks like:-

He'll love it.  Honest.

Son has written the label on this lovingly chosen gift which reads "Better get down the gym if you're going to carry this off, Dad."  Which brings me on to my next New Year's resolution - lose weight.  I don't need to shift much but I'd be happier if I were about half a stone lighter (7lbs or just over 3kg for my foreign friends who don't have any truck with this Imperial measurement nonsense).  Frankly, I'm hoping the lack of alcohol will sort it out.  I mean how crap can life be?  No drink and no food?  You're having a larf.

The Shah agreed that this would be a good idea and, once again, decided to join me (he has since been away on business and phoned every night from a different restaurant, so I'm not holding my breath).

Anyway, very soon we won't be able to afford food as we've realised we have to get the whole roof of Crap Cottage replaced which, knowing our luck, is going to cost zillions.  Just to cheer me up, the Shah produced this recently:-

I don't know if you can see what he inscribed into the top but yes, it's Crap Cottage Pie!!

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Pussy Riot - Scenes from Christmas

Hello chums and a very happy New Year to you all.  I hope you've all had a wonderful time over Christmas, clasped to the bosoms of your respective families.  I'm afraid that I am once again in need of catharsis and so, I am taking the liberty of sharing some scenes from Christmas at Crap Cottage with you:-

Christmas Eve
Mama’s flat.  I have arrived to collect her so that she can come and spend Christmas with us.  She has had a short power cut due to the massive storms we have been having here in the UK over the past week. 

Mama:  Well, we had a power cut and I can’t bear waste.  Points to a pile of carrier bags.  I investigate.
Moi:  Erm, what’s this lot?
Mama:  Just a few bits from the fridge and the freezer.  I can’t bear waste.
Moi: OMG.
Mama:  Yes, well...I can’t bear waste.  Did I say?

I investigate further.  The bags contain a mountain of epicurean delights amongst which I count two lettuce leaves, 5 baby new potatoes and a pint and a half of milk.  Oh and let’s not forget the quarter bottle of Sainsbury’s medium white wine.  No siree.

Christmas Day 
The day passes relatively uneventfully.  The only tiny fly in the ointment comes courtesy of mama’s love for our cat.  A love which is reciprocated. 

This is Paddy:-
As you can see, he is a fairly unremarkable (and pretty stupid) ginger and white moggy.  Despite his lack of neurons and fairly grumpy nature, he is much adored by us all.

Mama spends many happy hours mauling  stroking the cat and he is very happy with the attention.  However, mama’s failing memory means that she cannot, for the life of her, remember Paddy's name.  Consequently, she refers to him as ‘pussy’ most of the time.  This causes my vile and feral children to snigger wildly and me to cast them evil glances which they (naturally) ignore.

So we had the usual round of “ooh – look at this lovely pussy” (smirk from children), “What a pretty pussy!” (mild sniggering from children) and so on and so on.  However, on Christmas Day it all came to a head.  Like this:-

It is the evening.  We have eaten and drunk well and given and received lots of lovely presents.  Even Paddy has had a gift – a glittery gold collar to go with his ginger fur.  He is fairly unimpressed by this as he would have much preferred a leg of turkey but he is sanguine.  And here is the evidence:-

The whole family is lolling around in the living room, including Mama who is on cat watch.

Enter Paddy.  Mama, who is stone deaf much of the time can, bizarrely, hear the bell on his collar from the next street.  She tries to attract his attention.

Mama: Pussy!  Pussy!  (gesticulates wildly.  Children snigger loudly).

Paddy knows which side his Whiskas is buttered and jumps up onto her lap.

Mama:  Ah!  Good boy!  Look – I've got a lovely, sparkly pussy!

I hear strangulated guffawing noises coming from the children.  Son is lying on the floor in the foetal position sobbing with laughter and attempting to shove a cushion into his mouth.  Daughter is hanging upside down off the sofa, trying to turn her face away whilst mouthing the word “vajazzle” at her brother.  Even I can’t hold back the laughter.  It falls to the Shah (uncharacteristically) to behave like a grown up and admire Mama’s lovely, sparkly pussy in the way she intended.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Scenes from a family...

It’s that time of year when we are like ships in the night as we all head off to our various Christmas parties and office outings and collide only in the rush for the bathroom the following morning, pink eyed and wild haired.

So has it been this week and, now that the son also has a proper grown up job and commutes up to London every day, and daughter is home from Uni and has basically turned feral, it’s even worse.  Like this:-

Scene 1
The kitchen of Crap Cottage.  The Shah and I are battling for access to the milk in the fridge.  The Shah has not got bags under his eyes so much as feckin’ great Louis Vuitton trunks.  He has wisely obeyed the law which states “He who drinks and snores, sleeps in the spare room”.

Moi: So what time did you get home last night?
Shah:  Er, (looks shifty) about 1?  (This is known as ‘testing the water’.  The Shah regards questions like this as tricks designed to catch him out.  Which they often are.)
Moi:  Hmmmm, where did you go?  I’ve forgotten.
Shah: A Lebanese restaurant off Wigmore Street.
Moi:  Did you have a good time?
Shah: (enthusiastically)  Yep, great.  I danced with the belly dancers!
Moi:  Oh my God...
Shah:  And someone grabbed my phone and took pictures!
Moi:  FFS.

And here, chums, is the photographic evidence of which he spoke. Note the wide-ass grin on the mush of the Shah.  Note the woman in the foreground holding her face in horror.  Nuff said.

Scene 2
Our bedroom in Crap Cottage.  It is early one morning.  The Shah has once again been out until all hours the night before and once again obeyed the spare room law.  Marital relations are cordial.

Moi:  Is son up?
Shah:  That b’stard!
Moi:  Whaat?
Shah:  He woke me up last night!  (Heinous crime)
Moi:  How?
Shah:  He texted me at quarter to one in the morning! 
Moi:  (tones of disbelief)   He texted you from his bedroom?
Shah:  (outraged) YES!  And then he rang me!
Moi:  He rang you?!  What for?
Shah:  To find out why I wasn’t answering his text.  Fuckrrrrrrr!
Moi:  LOL!!

Scene 3
It is morning.  Son has been out the night before.  I know he is a big boy now but there still exists the rule that he has to text if he intends to stay out all night, otherwise I fret.  I’m his mother, it’s my job.  Anyway, son’s bedroom is empty at 7am which disturbs me and leads to the following exchange of texts:-

Me:  Please reply when you get this to let me know you are okay.  Very unimpressed....

Son: Sorry. Was on the first train home at 5am but fell asleep.  Just woke up and now I am in Havant*.  I’m having to get the train back.

It took him another two hours and an extra £16 to get home.  Not happy!

Scene 4
My mother’s flat.  I am visiting to take her shopping and out to lunch.  Mother is out to lunch in more ways than one.  I wrote earlier this year about her bad language here and, reader, things have not improved one jot.

I enter the room.  Mama does not see me as she is absorbed in trying to force her purse into her handbag, and struggling.

Mama:  Go in!  (struggles)  Oh go in!  (struggles a bit more) GO.  IN.  (gives one final, fruitless shove).  Oh well, fuck you.

Scene 5
I am at work.  My phone rings and the display shows my mother’s number.  I pick it up with great trepidation just as it goes to voice mail.  I leave it a couple of minutes and call back.

Mama:  Oh it’s you!  I just tried to ring you but I got a girl’s voice saying something.  Couldn’t tell what the hell she was on about, so I hung up on her.  Silly cow.
Moi:  Yes, that was me, mum – it was my answerphone.  It was my voice you heard.
Mama: (shocked)  It didn’t sound a bit like you!
Moi:  Oh well, never mind – what can I do for you?
Mama: (in tones of drama)  I’ve got no electricity!
Moi:  Oh dear – what’s happened?
Mama:  The lamp won’t turn on!
Moi:  Hmmmmm, Try the light switch on the wall.
Mama (sighs dramatically)  Oh okay – wait a minute. 

She drops the phone on a hard surface, practically deafening me and I can hear her shuffling across the room.  A distant, muffled voice shouts “fuck!”  Eventually, she returns.

Mama:  Yes – it’s fine!
Moi:  Well I expect it’s just that the bulb in the lamp has blown.
Mama:  Well it’s chosen a bloody funny time to go – just as I want to use it!
Moi:  Sigh.....

And I expect there is plenty more to come...

Happy Christmas one and all and thank you for reading my blog over the past year!
CQ xx
* Havant, for the benefit of my foreign readers, is on the south coast of Britain and is over 50 miles from where we live.  Haha!

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Jollies in Jaipur

So here we are on the final leg of our journey.  By pure chance, we had chosen to see Jaipur last.  We arrived following a long drive from Agra, via Mathura and Vrindavan which I wrote about previously, feeling a bit jaded.  Our guide was a young guy called Sanjay who spoke the best English of all our guides and had the kind of sarcastic sense of humour that went down a treat with the Shah et moi.

Jaipur is called the pink city because, in 1876 when the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) toured India, the King of Jaipur ordered the city to be painted pink as it is the colour of welcome.  It is now illegal for the outsides of any building in the old city to be painted any other colour.  

We had heard good things about this place before got there - various friends and contacts who had visited and lived there, raved about it and we were not disappointed.  We stayed in a small boutique hotel that had been in the owner's family for generations.  It was beautifully furnished with antiques and had the most attentive staff, bizarrely attired in military uniforms.

The gates to the old city

There is just something about the atmosphere of Jaipur - it was still teeming and busy but somehow just a bit less frenetic than Delhi and less tacky than Agra.  The Rajasthani people dress in such vivid colours, the wild pinks and ochres and cyans are a feast for the senses and it seems impossible to feel sad or down in the face of their cheerful disposition despite the inevitable crushing poverty.

Spice Boy

Snake charmer!

On day 2, our guide suggested we visit the Amber Fort.  'Hmmmm' we said as forts are frankly 10 a rupee in India and we felt well and truly fortified after seeing the various offerings in Delhi, Agra etc.  But we were persuaded. 

The fort is somewhat outside Jaipur and driving towards it, I suddenly noticed this incredible building at the top of a mountain.  The walls went on for so long, it looked like the Great Wall of China from afar.  There were red blobs moving slowly up towards the mountain top but we were so far away, I couldn't tell what they were.  The driver dropped us at the bottom of the mountain and Sanjay said the magic words - "So, how would you like to get up to the top?  By car, on foot or by elephant?"  No contest!  He led us deftly to the head of the queue for elephants (it's amazing how the crowds part for a good guide who knows his way around and is familiar with all the sites you visit).  

The red blobs turned out to be the cloths on the elephants which take punters one way only, up the mountain - not down.  You stand on a raised platform - no guard rails - don't be silly - and the elephants approach.  They know exactly what to do and they shuffle into position alongside the platform.  They each have a  seat on their backs and you hop nimbly (ahem) aboard and the Mahout gives the order to giddy up or the Hindi equivalent.

Unfortunately, Blogger has now taken agin me and won't let me add captions but you can probably tell that the bottom photo is the view from our elephant and the other two are the elephants patiently waiting for their next fare.  Our Mahout was fascinated by this weirdo visiting Coconut* and his Gori** wife and spent the entire ride facing us, rather than the direction we were going in, chatting to the Shah in a mixture of dialects.  They seemed to understand each other perfectly well and luckily Pinky the elephant knew where to go without guidance, which was just as well really.

The Amber Fort - when we hopped off Pinky at the top - proved to be absolutely gobsmacking.  You all have to promise me that, if you ever get to Jaipur, you will make the effort to go there.  The Jaipuri Royal family still lives within the fort (the current King is 15 years old) and their palace is the only building in Jaipur which is permitted to be any colour other than pink - it's a beautiful golden yellow colour.

As ever, the architecture was stunning, with walls inlaid with precious gems, mother of pearl and silver:-
The photo above shows the palace of the royal family.  It's in the wrong place in this post but Blogger is a piece of sh1t and won't let me move it without deleting everything else I've written :(

The silver vessel above is the height of a man.  there are two of them on display and when the King visited England for the coronation of Edward VII, he took both of them with him, filled with holy water from the Ganges, as he refused to drink anything else.

Finally, I have to show you the Palace of the Winds.  This extraordinary building is incredibly high but only one room deep.  The royal ladies used to sit behind the screened windows and look down on everything going on in the street below.

Next time, we'll make sure we are able to stay in India for Diwali (the Hindu Festival of Light).  The city was being decorated as we left and looked stunning with every street and every building festooned with swathes of tinsel that glittered in the daylight sunshine and tiny lights which glowed at night.

Below is the house which was across the street from our hotel.  Some people just can't help but take things a bit too far!

* Coconut - I refer you to my previous post - a term I use for the Shah because he is brown on the outside and white on the inside.
** Gori - an Indian slang term for a white woman.  A Gora is the male equivalent.