Tuesday, 28 December 2010

The Post-Christmas post

My previous whining about the Shah's inability to purchase a decent Christmas present here clearly stung him into action and I am happy to say that he totally outdid himself in the gifts-you-would-die-for department this year.  I'm not going to swank on about them because there would be nothing more annoying.  The only thing I will mention is that I have finally, finally, after years of begging, been given the complete box set of Frasier.  I am a happy,  happy woman and have so far managed to watch 12 episodes in one evening.  Would have been more, had I not been interrupted by teenagers in search of a mother with a pulse.

Meanwhile, I managed to jump onto the tail end of the BMB Blog Hop while wiping tears of laughter from my chops after the latest episode - the one where Eddie stares at Frasier non-stop....you had to be there really......

Friday, 24 December 2010

Ok Brian - you're forgiven

I wrote recently about Amazon and how I used to work for their current MD, Brian McBride and how they've never let me down blah blah.  As I wrote it, I had this little, sneaky feeling that I was tempting fate and, sure enough, my biggest order became a victim of the recent weather and got stuck in Scotland (note to BMcB - I'm reliably informed that at least one of your distribution centres is out in the middle of Scottish nowhere - not even close to Dundee airport where nobody goes - so shift it!).  It then made it as far as Warrington where it lingered for two weeks being "processed".

Finally, having given up all hope, it arrived this morning, in the nick of time.  I was uncommonly grateful.  Paddy thought otherwise and showed his disapproval.  Like this.  

Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas from the house of madness...

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

It's Office Party time!

Aah – office parties I have known....I could get quite misty-eyed about some of them – if only I could, ahem, remember them.

This year’s was a select affair – a bunch of us went out for a meal – don't get me wrong, it was highly enjoyable and really nice to sit down with colleagues and NOT talk about work for once but it was a pale and insipid creature compared with parties now lost to the mists of time and legend.

Most of the best Office Christmas Parties took place in the money-rich 80’s when the cash flowed and nothing was more important to the powers that be than to show their appreciation to their hard-working, hard-playing, high-maintenance staff.  Usually, they were held in hotels and just the change of location from home turf gave endless scope for misbehaviour.  If you could manage to remain remotely sober, you would have seen every clichĂ© imaginable taking place in front of your eyes as senior managers skulked behind pillars with secretaries and pissed-up, predatory, high-ranking women (there were only a few, most of them ball breakers) goosed the post boy.

There would be the inevitable disco where at least one wag (usually Keith from Engineering) would feel it necessary to request ‘Staying Alive’ and then give it his best John Travolta, complete with stomach-churning pelvic thrusts.  Sadly, Keith is desperately unfit and, after a few struts and twirls the audience can  see the damp patches growing under his arms and the rivulets of sweat trickling off his brow and being caught up in his over-sized moustache which he hopes makes him look like Tom Selleck.   As if this were not attractive enough, Keith also begins to pant heavily as the physical effort takes its toll but, unable to back down now and lose face, on and on he goes, strutting like a maniac, trying desperately to keep up with the music but gradually falling a couple of beats behind. 

To distract from his distress, Keith undoes his tie, pulling it slowly and (he hopes) lasciviously from round his neck.  Even he realises that using it to mop his brow would be deeply unsexy so, instead, he ties it around his head like a bad-boy bandana.  By now, his fellow drunkards have formed a ring around him on the dance floor and are clapping to the beat and shrieking their encouragement.  The music pounds relentlessly on.  The DJ can see that Keith has done his job for him and got everyone on their feet and he is not going to let the moment go.  He segues seamlessly into ‘You Should be Dancing’.  Keith is hovering perilously close to cardiac arrest and wondering how much longer these Bee Gee eunuch bastards can warble on for.  He is really struggling now and wishing to God that, if it has to be the bloody Bee Gees, couldn't that spotty little shit behind the decks flip to ‘More Than a Woman’ so that at least he could grab Sally from Accounts and get her onto the floor to share his pain and cop a feel into the bargain. 

Meanwhile, the crowd is sensing that Keith is flagging and they are having none of it.  They redouble their efforts, whooping wildly to encourage him.  Suddenly, all Keith’s dreams come true.  Sally from Accounts joins him of her own accord, undulating across the floor towards him.  She is a little heavier than Keith recalls, large bosoms oozing out of the sides of her ambitiously low cut taffeta ball gown but what the hell?  He smiles a wolfish smile and pulls her towards him into a firm embrace.  Sally recoils slightly as several pints of Keith’s sweat are smeared from his shirt to her dress (borrowed from her best mate and she was hoping to get away with a dash of Febreze to save on the dry cleaning bills).  Sally and Keith then embark on a jive, each twirling the other and getting further and further out of time and more and more dizzy. 

The finale comes when Keith, unable to cope any longer with the physical exertion, the overload of alcohol and the dizziness, vomits copiously during a complicated spin.  It misses Sally but, as she screams in horror and tries to run, she trips and slides across the floor of the disco on a slick of chunder.

You may think the above is just the further workings of a twisted mind but, let me tell you, I went to a legendary office Christmas do where all the above happened pretty much as I have written it. Thank God this was before the era of camera phones.

At one of the best Christmas parties I have ever been to (thrown by the same company) the cabaret was Bob Monkhouse.  Oh yes, you may mock but he was the consummate professional, had clearly taken time to research the company and the individuals in it (no mean feat as there were several hundred people there) and cracked in-jokes and was generally hilariously funny.  Just about the best stand-up act I have ever seen and I’ve seen most of them before and after they became famous.

But then the recession bit and companies began to economise and ‘make do’ with a pared-down offering, usually consisting of drinks and nibbles in the office  with the lights turned off after 9.30 and someone’s tape recorder offering some crackly disco music or, if you were really unlucky, Pete from Despatch who fancied himself as a bit of a DJ and yep, Pete, you really were only a bit of a DJ.

After one such, I went to collect my coat, only to find it in use as, ahem, a shall we say “resting place” for a tired, emotional and lonely couple who were taking refuge in each other’s arms.  And elsewhere. 

Did I wrench my coat from underneath them bawling “give me my feckin’ coat back you dirty bastards and I’m sending you the dry cleaning bill?”  No, reader, I did not.  I saw who was involved and took her coat instead.  Then I wore it into work the next day and waited for her to ask me for it back.  There is sense in sobriety!

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

In which I get a good night's sleep

I woke up the other morning a few minutes before the alarm.  Satisfying on the one hand to wake naturally – less so when you realise that it is set for 6am.

As I stirred, I felt a foot gently caress mine.  “Aha!” I thought – the Shah is getting frisky!  I turned my head to glance lovingly in his direction (Ok “lovingly” is a bit of an exaggeration.  Actually a shed load of exaggeration.  More like “fuckoffingly”) and almost fell out of bed in fright as I saw – not the Shah’s dusky features crumpled up in front of me – but the beautiful smooth olive skin of my daughter.  My spluttering woke her up.

Me:  What are you doing in here?
TD:   Mummy – I just wanted to sleep in your room.

Klaxons immediately sounded in my skull.  One word gave it all away. And that word was  MUMMY.  Never in the field of teenage terrorism has one fifteen year old uttered the word “MUMMY” without it indicating extreme emotional blackmail and manipulation.  The conversation continued.

Me:  Did you strip your bed last night?
TD: Er, yes
Me: and you ceebs to put clean sheets on it, huh?
TD: um, sort of
Me: Gotcha. Where's Dad?
TD: (sniggers) In the spare room

Nice innit?  I sighed the weary sigh of one resigned to her fate and staggered out of bed and downstairs.   Some time later, I staggered back up again having attempted to feed the cats in the meantime. 

I have to digress here a bit because one cat (Paddy, the Ginger Minger) has begun to communicate his feelings about food very clearly.  Food is very close to Paddy’s heart but he is picky and it is impossible to predict what will find favour with him on any given day.  One day you can bung down a bowl of Whiskas and he acts like Mr Creosote on speed.  Give him the same thing another day and he lets you know he thinks it’s shite.

The way he does this is to stand some distance from the bowl, sniffing the air disdainfully.  He then offers up dirty looks which I ignore.  Because of his lack of success in the ‘looks that would fry a lesser mortal’ department, he approaches the bowl and looks closely at the scran on offer.  He then proceeds to scrape the floor with a front paw, just as he would if he were digging a feline latrine in the garden.  I have even gone so far as to ask the Vet what this is all about.  She laughed uproariously and said she hadn’t a clue and he was probably letting us know what he thinks of the low-quality slop we try and give him.  Well, those are the words that came out of her mouth while written all over her face was ‘who do you think I am, the cat whisperer or perhaps Desmond Morris, you dozy cow?’

Anyway – back upstairs, the Shah is arguing furiously with his daughter (how unusual).  She is refusing to get out of bed, he is attempting to get dressed, by which I mean cramming himself into a pair of black trousers which probably fitted once upon a time.  He had hurt his finger playing football the night before (and no, he doesn’t play in goal, so go figure) and was finding it difficult to do them up.  His daughter meanwhile, was utterly disgusted at the sight of several yards of furry brown stomach on show and let her feelings be known which was a good thing because at least it got her out of bed.  The Shah tried once more to sort his clothing out, huffing and puffing and turning an odd mahogany colour in the process.  Eventually, he stopped trying to do his trews up (trews!  Ha!  Another word I haven’t heard in aeons – a bit like  ‘slacks’ – boy am I dating myself here!) Then he started to dig furiously in his trousers (sorry – TMI) and make exasperated noises.

“WTF are you doing?” I asked in a meek, wifely way.

“I’m, I’m trying to sort out my, um – oh what d’you call them?  PANTIES!”  quoth the Shah as I screamed with laughter, imagining the Shah clad in a pair of frilly unmentionables.   Unfortunately, the image stayed with me the whole day, but I didn’t feel I could share it with anyone at work for fear of starting unhealthy rumours.

PS - I thought I might add a picture to this post to liven it up a bit.  Take my advice.  Do NOT Google 'pictures of men in frilly pants' ahem.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Well I'll go to the foot of our stairs...

That was of the less meaningful sayings of my childhood in the chilly north.  Never did quite work out what it actually meant but it was a useful all-purpose phrase, used to express surprise, disgust, wonder, amazement or all or none of the above.  Being born and raised "oop north" I've been a long-time Corrie fan and I couldn't let this week go by without a mention of it's 50th Anniversary.  Even Victoria Wood likes it ....

It's just a shame that Blanche isn't still around to give us a few of her bon mots!

Te-ra Luvvy!

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Dear Santa....

I'm not a greedy person, neither am I particularly materialistic – I believe it is wholly wrong to be owned by ones possessions.  However, just very occasionally, I lust after something really nice, really special and given the Shah’s parlous track record in the present-buying department I guess it might be time to air my ultimate wishlist...

The Shah has a well known aversion to holidays, but who couldn't enjoy themselves in one of these? 
A mere snip at only £54,000.

If that didn't fit the bill, a replica Batmobile would surely liven up the school run...
Loose change should cover it at £120,000.

Or (keep buying the lottery tickets) a watch like this (slightly more reasonably priced).

I wrote last time about the wig and the nails and had a phone call from Son at Uni who had read it and was laughing hysterically.  Come to think of it, they could still be in the old dressing up box in the garage.  If I manage to find them I promise I will post a photo of me (or even better the Shah!) wearing both.

Back in the real world, I might ask for a Wine Rack for Christmas to hold all the alcohol I am going to need to see myself through.  Sadly, I know that this is what I am likely to receive.  

Baps made of Booze - the Shah would be in heaven!

Monday, 29 November 2010

Why I hate Christmas

Oh great!  It’s that time of year again!  Well, if you’d just landed from the planet Retail, you’d have believed that it’s been that time of year since around the end of September.  I’m talking about Christmas...

Over the years, I’ve tried so hard to like Christmas, to get caught up in the ‘Good Will to All Men’ shtick , but I have to confess that, after several gazillion years on this planet, it’s defeated me.

I grew up in a family that was not only more religious than the Pope but which also made church mice look like lottery winners – not a good combination for a child hoping for great things from Santa.  Even though that wasn’t a time for the ludicrous materialism that kids now enjoy, my friends always seemed to come back to school in January telling tales of groaning stockings and bulging pillow cases at the end of their beds on Christmas morning.  I would usually quickly invent some mega-toy then, caught up in my deceitful web, have to devise a convincing lie as to its whereabouts when they came home to play after school.  They rapidly became suspicious of the-dog-ate-it/my-brother-broke-it etc.

As an adult, more so as a married adult, I have found that Yuletide celebrations have been laid at my door for years on end.  I went through a phase of trying very hard to effect the perfect Christmas for everyone – lavishing carefully chosen gifts on a largely ungrateful family; stressing myself to the nth degree to produce a gourmet meal while the children whinged about not liking the stuffing/Christmas Pudding/Bread sauce, you name it; my mother whinged about the children’s manners; my brother routinely arrived 2 hours late without apology or explanation, thus fecking up my meal planning and the Shah played the Hindu card, claiming (conveniently) not to understand any of the fuss.

At the risk of blowing my own brass instrument, I would also like to add that I am a genius shopper for Christmas presents.  I run lists all year.  Stand near me from January to October and declare an interest in an item and you will most likely find it in your stocking come December.  I have an elephantine memory for wish lists; so much so that people have been known to cry “gosh! I’d forgotten I ever wanted one of those”....come to think about it, maybe that’s not such a good thing and I could have saved myself £££ over the years, had I let sleeping dogs lie on that front.

The Shah, however, as I hope he would be the first to admit, is shite at present-buying.  Be it Christmas, Birthdays or Barmitzvahs, do not look to him for any kind of inspirational gift-giving.  Allow me to elucidate.  There was the famous time that he claimed my birthday presents had failed to arrive because Amazon had let him down.  Now, I have dealt with Amazon for donkey’s years and it has never once let me down.  Also, in another life, I briefly worked for Brian McBride, now the MD of Amazon UK and he was a really good bloke and I am quite sure that he is down in the depot, wielding a tape gun with the rest of them if there is the slightest likelihood of a delay in my deliveries, so I was a little suspicious to put it mildly, especially given the Shah’s atrocious track record in this department.  When the parcel finally arrived, I could see from the receipt (the Shah has never quite got the hang of the gift receipt idea) that it had actually been ordered ON my birthday....ahem. 

Then there was the Christmas that we foolishly invited some family members to share our day.  I was full in the mania of attempting to create the perfect Christmas, especially as the children were quite small at that point, and had fashioned a table centrepiece from some wood, holly, candles, ribbons – all the usual crap.  Rellies arrived.  “Oh we don't need that!” they cried, spotting my lovingly-crafted if slightly wonky decor.  “We’ve brought this!” and they produced a massive square candle with about 73 wicks which they plonked on the table, my creation having been peremptorily sidelined.  I wanted to cry.

That was the year that the Shah really excelled himself with the Santa act.  For some reason (and he has never been able to explain exactly why) he decided that a good, nay a GREAT, Christmas present for me would be a lime green afro wig like this….

 and a set of witchy false nails, attached to witchy false fingers, like this….

I seem to remember (but only hazily) that I drank my way through that Christmas until all my woes took on a lovely, rosy glow.

Then there was the Christmas that we bought the children a trampoline.  I insisted that the Shah (unwillingly accompanied by my brother) set the thing up in the garden at around midnight on Christmas Eve, fondly imagining the delighted faces of our offspring the following morning.  There were a few hurdles to over come:-

·       It was about -5ÂșC
·       It was sleeting like a bastard
·       The Shah was pissed
·       My brother was pissed off
·       It was dark and the torch batteries were low

Naturally, being a man and being the Shah, the Shah didn’t bother with a minor consideration like reading the feckin’ instructions.  So he and my bro started attaching the springs to the frame and the springy bit.  Because they were doing it all wrong, the tension became harder and harder as they went round.  Eventually, the inevitable happened and the Shah managed to rip one of his fingers wide open with a sharp metal hook.  Oh fab.  There was me, half cut also, trying desperately to steri-strip this finger which was bleeding like a stuck pig.  Meanwhile, the Shah was simultaneously trying to hold his hand up in the air to reduce the bleeding and hold his head between his knees as he was feeling faint.

Come the morning, the children were lukewarm in their appreciation.  It turned out they had heard the commotion and the incessant swearing and had got up out of bed to witness their lovely “surprise” being fecked up by the Shah and their uncle.  Oh goody.  Another successful Christmastide.  So, it’s fair to say that I don’t approach Christmas with very high expectations.

I’m a bit behind this year and did my first Amazon order only a couple of days ago.  It won’t be delivered until mid-December.  I warned the Shah of same, knowing full well that he hasn’t given Christmas a single thought as yet.  “Uh, what?” was all he had to say.

I don't hold out all that much hope for this year either.

Friday, 19 November 2010

I do!

Hooray for Prince William and Kate Middleton!  How noble of them to finally drag themselves up the aisle in order to boost a flagging economy and cheer up the huddled masses queuing round the block to buy their Daily Mail Souvenir Wedding Editions, china commemorative mugs and poorly printed t-shirts (a bargain at £19.99 a pop).

Whilst we don’t yet seem to be indulging in the kind of hysteria that surrounded Charles and Di’s nuptials, there is no doubt that this will occupy some sections of the press for months to come.  Let’s face it, there’s only a limited window for this event to dominate our every waking thought, so you can’t really blame them for trying to make the most of it.

It seems incredible that, in the space of a generation, we have moved on so radically in our attitudes to the Royal Family.  Back when Charles and Di got spliced, there was intense media speculation (albeit couched in euphemistic terms) as to the virginity of the blushing bride.  Now, we are all quite comfortable with the knowledge that Wills and Kate have been at it like rabbits for years on end.  And why not – at least they’ve had a chance to get to know each other which is far more than his unfortunate parents were allowed.  As someone remarked on Have I Got News for You last night, this year would have marked the 30th anniversary of Charles and Diana’s marriage and the 37th of Charles’s affair with Camilla.  BTW, just what was Camilla thinking describing the news of the engagement as ‘wicked’ to a reporter who caught her on the street?  Was she intending to follow it up with ‘Yo, dat Katie is like a sick mutha, innit?’ Or maybe ‘Now I is not de only Royal Ho’.

BBC Breakfast News yesterday took itself off to the Royal Derby factory or Royal Worcester or somewhere where they had warehouses full of pre-prepared wedding paraphernalia, just waiting for a final date stamp and a bit of a dusting off.  The Creative Director was interviewed and was clearly thrilled with her 15 minutes, bless her.  She was asked about whether they would print ‘Kate’ or ‘Catherine’ on their products.  “Oh, it will be Catherine,” she breezed, smiling from ear to ear. “Although we were a bit worried about the WC aspect.”

Laugh?  I nearly choked on my organic, hand-milled Granola and Yak milk.  Feck me!  The woman has, in one sentence, managed to reduce the whole of the Royal Wedding to toilet humour.  WC?  FFS!  Now every time I go to the Ladies in a restaurant or cinema, does she seriously think I will be struck by our patriotism in putting the Royal initials on the door of every khazi?   An object lesson in the need for media training, if ever I saw one.

After this little nugget, the presenters asked people to contact them with details of any Royal Wedding memorabilia they had.  What soon became clear is that the cupboards of Britain are stuffed with heaps of dusty crap.  WHY would someone keep a Charles ‘n Camilla mug with the wrong wedding date on it?  Apparently the confusion arose because the date of the wedding was changed at the last minute.  Was it?  Gosh, that event has adhered so firmly to my memory, ahem.  In fact all I can remember is catching a nanosecond’s worth of the TV coverage and a reporter saying in worried tones that, far from the massed hordes of screaming Royal groupies that were expected, the whole of the south of England had sighed a collective “meh” , turned over and gone back to sleep.

Then Mildred Mills-Boon from Milton Keynes rang in to say that, when Charles ‘n Di got married, she had collected a range of milk bottle tops with their faces printed on them, pressed them flat and still has them stuck into an album.  Unfortunately that still makes me laugh so much that I could barely type the words and you were almost treated to a paragraph detailing how Mildred collected milk bottle tops with Royal faeces on them….

Perhaps we could have a competition for the naffest Royal Memorabilia?  The trouble is America would win hands down.  We happened to be in the US on the first anniversary of Diana’s death – a time when the events around it were still quite shocking for the majority of us Brits.  What did we see on a giant hoarding?  An ad which read “Get your Diana Anniversary Beanie Doll here!”   So appropriate, so respectful!  You could almost imagine it was sold with a side order of a heap of tangled metal and a dead boyfriend doll.

Meanwhile, the tacky souvenir roadshow rolls on.  Apparently there is a revived market for copies of Kate Middleton's engagement ring - the one which once belonged to princess Diana.  How many brides will be tripping down the aisle this summer sporting copies of Kate's dress, Kate's ring, Kate's hair style, Kate's wedding makeup....Don't you think you'll be sick of it all before long? 

I do!

Monday, 8 November 2010

The Clear Out

It’s impossible to miss the current trend for paring down, clearing out and divesting ourselves of all that is unnecessary, cumbersome and gratuitous in our lives.  Frugal is the new watchword for our times.  We are all now upcycling like mad, not to mention reducing, reusing and recycling.  Greed is no longer viewed as good – it still exists, it’s just greed for vintage stuff now which makes it somehow more acceptable than greed for new goods.

I’ve done as much as the next person in cutting a swathe through the piles of hoarded crap, secretly carting mountains of slightly Shah-soiled clothing to the local charity shops.  Indeed, the Shah is an accumulator par excellence.  The other day, I unearthed an old photograph album and the kids were leafing through it – roaring with unkind laughter at their parents’ 80’s haircuts and fashions.  TS came across a photo of the Shah, (young, slim and dark of hair) and made some unkind comments about waistlines and wrinkles and Grecian 2000 and then said, “hold on a minute – see that shirt Dad’s wearing in the photo –he’s got it on today!” And sure enough, the same old polo shirt, now not holding its shape quite so well (for which read ‘stretched to fit’) and somewhat faded in colour but undeniably the same item as was in the photo, was taut across the torso of the Shah. 

My boy was disgusted.  “How could you?”  he berated his father.  “That bloody shirt’s older than me!” (He wasn’t wrong).  But the Shah knows no shame where clothing is concerned (or where hoarding is concerned, or anything else for that matter.)  What the children view as an embarrassing predilection for skanky old clothing, the Shah sees as a parsimony to be applauded and encouraged.  If he wants to come out anywhere with me on a weekend, his outfit has to be examined first and I am likely to remark “oh good, got the gardening clothes on again have we?” such is his love of baggy, shapeless trackie bottoms and 20 year old polo shirts.

I meant it when I said he knows no shame.  He is one of those lucky souls who trolls through life, completely unconcerned by what others think of him.  I feel I should illustrate this trait with a vignette or sixty two. (Oh God, there are so many, where shall I start?)

Let us backtrack a few years to a Summer Ball.  This was an eagerly anticipated fundraising event in aid of the PTA at our kids’ school and it was serendipitously held at a hotel which was literally round the corner from where we then lived.  The Shah took this as an immensely good omen and laid his plans accordingly.  Sadly, there were some people on the PTA of whom the Shah was not particularly fond – the husband in one couple in particular – let’s call him William.  (NB the Shah has just read this over my shoulder and suggested that Willy would be a better name....you see what I have to contend with?)

Anyway, we were all tarted up and about to leave when I found the Shah rummaging through the kitchen cupboards like a man possessed.  “What are you doing now?” I asked, impatient to leave.  “I’m looking for a bottle,” came the reply as if it was entirely normal.  “Er, what for?”  I asked.  “Why, I’m going to spike that tosser’s drink,” quoth he and finding a small brown medicine bottle (God knows what had been in it before) he filled it with vodka and happily slipped it into his pocket.  From then on, he spent the entire evening, (while getting drunker and drunker and consequently less and less subtle) cack-handedly attempting to slop half a gallon of voddie into William’s glass of wine.  William (who was of much more temperate habits than the Shah) easily avoided his clumsy attentions. 

Thwarted, the Shah turned his attention to the disposable cameras that had been put on each table, the better to capture the revelry.  By this time, we had reached the Disco stage of the evening and the dance floor was heaving.  One of the other parents there was a tall Scotsman who was sporting a kilt.  Never having seen or spoken to this bloke before, the Shah decided it would not only be a good idea, but wholly acceptable to shove said camera up said kilt and try to take photos of whatever there was to see.  This guy was presumably as drunk as the Shah as he didn’t seem to be in the slightest bit bothered by this drunken bum and his ridiculous antics and laughed happily as the Shah staggered about the floor, cannoning off the other dancers, waving a camera around with about as much efficiency as Inspector Clouseau..

Some weeks later, having staggered home on the evening, holding each other up and screaming with laughter, I found the camera and took it to be developed just for a laugh.  Every picture was a blur of swirling colours – not a discernible image in sight.

In the continuing spirit of the clear out, I chucked the photos away.  Perhaps I should have binned the Shah as well!

Monday, 1 November 2010


The last thing I said last night as I went off to bed to the Shah and TD was 'don't forget to re-set your alarm clocks'.  'Oh yes,' they cried confidently.  

I'm now sooo tired, I can hardly see to type.  The reason?  At 5.15 this morning, I was woken up by the Shah lumbering around the bedroom.  He tried his best not to wake me (all together now, aaah!) but kept tripping over things in the dark and muttering oaths under his breath.

'S'funny', I thought through a haze of exhaustion, 'he must be getting the first train.'

Eventually he stumbled off downstairs and a short while later, I stumbled after him.  'I thought you were asleep?' he said accusingly.  'WTF?' I replied in a ladylike manner. 'Why the hell are you up so early?'

'Um, I thought it was 6.15' sez the Shah producing the puppy face.

Is there such a term as spousicide?

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Can't buy me love

Well done Wayne!  Your pathetic posturing and pouting stroppiness has, at last, resulted in Manchester United selling its soul to your agent and doubling your (already obscene) salary.

I’m just wondering how on earth you go about spending £50,000,000 over 5 years?  Given that he’s already said to have a net worth of £33 million, don’t forget.  And that’s not counting Coleen’s earnings which seem to emanate from being the, er, wife of a footballer and not a lot else.  Let nobody fool themselves that we would have heard of the lovely Coleen had she not hooked up with the distinctly un-lovely Wayne at an early age.

Isn’t it also staggering how many people are prepared to trample all over their principles (assuming they had some to start with) once a few pound notes hove into view?  Wayne has allegedly told his wife’s family that most of what they now enjoy (a large house, a lavish lifestyle and vicarious fame) is due to him.  This may well be true but it’s hardly gracious, is it Waynio?  His wife’s family are said to have been the guiding force in ensuring they stayed in the North West and rejected even more lucrative offers from the likes of Chelsea and Real Madrid, both of which were apparently interested in securing the talents of Mr Rooney.  Ironically, it looks as though those talents are currently on the wane (pun entirely intended).

It would have been an interesting scenario, had Manchester City managed to interest Wayne in joining them.  Had he been foolish enough to even consider this move, he would undoubtedly have been putting his own, his wife’s and even his baby son’s lives in considerable danger.  You may think this is a dramatic over exaggeration but that would be to underestimate the fervour of the average Man U fan.  To them, this would have been a betrayal of the highest order and it is said that the authorities took seriously the graffiti found scrawled across a Nike poster which read “Join City and you’re dead”.

I can only hope that this disgraceful episode which casts Alex Ferguson and the Manchester United Board in just as poor a light as Rooney, enables the general populace to wake up to the fact that greed is not good.  There are hints that, despite their fanaticism, the fans are beginning to tire of Rooney who seems to be all mouth and no trousers at present.  Banners reading “Who’s the whore now?”   have been on show at matches and a large mob went round to his house to “have a word” when this whole fiasco first erupted.

Rooney has admitted that it may take a while to regain the trust of the fans – those fans to whom he signally failed to apologise once the new deal was done.  Well one way might be for him to make substantial donations from his new salary to say, his local hospital which is no doubt under severe stress from the current spending cuts – that might be a start.

But despite all this, there will be those who continue to idolise him.  So the message seems to be this:-  Disrespect your wife, your family, your team,your fans and your boss.  Obtain a super-injuction to prevent repellent details of your repulsive behaviour emerging.  However, ensure that multiple press leaks 'just happen' and that you are photographed shopping for toys for your baby son in an entirely cynical attempt to manipulate the press and the truth. Then effect a rapid U turn and smooch up to the Manager you defied at a photo call.

I have been to Old Trafford twice.  Both times TS and I were given tickets by a friend for the “posh seats”.  There is nothing quite like it – as a nominal Man U fan (where I grew up in the North West, everyone supported Man U and anyway, I fancied George Best) there is nothing quite like the atmosphere they generate – they really go for it – guards of honour as the players run onto the pitch, sonorous announcements such as “Welcome to the Theatre of DREAMS” all of which is greeted by 75,000 people yelling their heads off...it was amazing and I’d go back tomorrow.  However, to get back to my point, there we were, me and TS who was aged 10 at the time.  Man U were playing Chelsea and someone in our posh bit made the mistake of cheering Chelsea on at one point, little realising we were seated next to the diehard fanatics of the Stretford End.  As one body, the whole lot turned round, pointing their forefingers aggressively and chanted “FUCKING CHELSEA RENT BOY, FUCKING CHELSEA RENT BOY!”  in our general direction.  I didn’t know whether to be upset that TS had heard this rant or that he didn’t ask me what a Rent Boy was....!

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Woss garn on?

I've come home from work.  The Shah is at home (unusually).  He is opening the accumulated post that has been gathering dust in the hall for ever.  

And shouting at it.

A Building Society statement?  'Bastards!'  A renewal of his subscription to The Economist?  'Fuckrrs!'  Two identical letters from Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs?  '*&^%£$@*!'

There is also the biggest television I have ever seen in my life sitting on the kitchen floor.  What looks like a stand for said TV is beside it.  It is clearly not a new TV - it is a bit dusty.  WTF?

I follow the sound of cursing and come upon the Shah, red-faced and harrumphing.  He waves some sort of bill at me and, all of a sudden, his facial expression changes to one of an idiot savant.  He offers me a toothy smile and whines "Secretary?" with a ghastly, ingratiating smirk across his chops.  I make a dash out of the room before I can be trapped into this nightmare.  I mean WTF x 2?  Does he now expect me to deal with all his mail like a feckin' Secretary while he is cutting a swathe through the Midlands all week?  Er, yes he does.  As if.

A little later, I ask about the TV.  "Oh yes, that!" he says as if it is something of such minuscule consequence that he had quite forgotten all about it.  Adrian's moving house and he doesn't want it, so he's given it to us."

This is undoubtedly a generous gesture.  However, I'm sure there are certain Health & Safety recommendations regarding how far away you should sit from monster tellies and, in Crap Cottage, I think we may end up having to sit in the garden just to view the damn thing safely.  

Needless to say, TD is delighted, declares the whole thing "sick" and demands that the Shah give up shouting at the mail and set it up for her.  This he does with some alacrity because he too is v. excited by giant tellies as only a boy can be.  It is massive - 50".  Mind you, even I have to admit that the picture is amazing (HD or some other term I have no comprehension of) but that Sue Barker's wrinkles are much worse than I thought.  We sit and watch a programme on ancient buildings or something similar for a while.  This allows the Shah to indulge his passion for Malapropisms.

A shot of an ornate coffin fills the screen.  "Oh look," says the Shah with great excitement.  "There's an oesophagus..."


Monday, 4 October 2010

My Gap Years

We've done it!  We have finally disgorged our first born, chucked him out of the nest and palmed him off on an unsuspecting University.

He has had around a month to sit about admiring the wallpaper in between his summer job ending and Uni kicking off – his Uni seems to be the very last on the planet to get going – so you might imagine that, in between the socialising, the relentless facebooking and the chauffeuring duties we have demanded of him, he might have given a little bit, just a teensy weensy bit of thought to the adventure ahead.   Don’t be daft.  In that time, he has been fun to be around, helpful in carrying out the odd favour, driving his sister around, fetching her from school after late-finishing rehearsals or netball matches and genially referring to himself as the “house husband”.  Boy, am I going to miss that extra pair of hands to nip out for a carton of milk or some cat food.  And the relentless facebooking has meant that he has been able to make contact with many other prospective Undergrads and has ready-made mates before he even arrives.  His preparations, however, have differed somewhat from some of his peers.

One girl has been so excited by her impending freedom that her facebook status has been a countdown day by day for the past month...28 days till Uni!  27 days till Uni!  Needless to say, my son and his new chums think such a blatant display of enthusiasm is the uncoolest thing on the planet.  On Saturday, when I suggested he might like to think about maybe, just maybe, gathering up some of the clothes and other kit he wanted to take with him, his response was “Yeah, I suppose I could throw some shit in a suitcase.”  He then proceeded to stay up until 5 o’clock in the morning, sorting out the paperwork he has had a month to assemble.  Insurance?  What’s that then?  The Shah ended up arranging it for him (very grumpily) that evening.  I was despatched to Tesco to buy heaps of well, just stuff (I won't bore you with the details.)  I tramped around, smiling grimly at all the other harassed-looking women, marked out as mothers of Freshers by the disinterested-looking teens slouching along three steps behind them.  The women were all trying to look and sound bright and interested and saying things like “look – those are nice tea towels – why don't we get you a set of those?” and the response from the inevitable teenager was the inevitable grunt.

Eventually, it all came together.  We loaded up two cars (why did we ever get rid of the people carrier?) and set off.   Happily, he has chosen a Uni not a million miles away so we were there reasonably quickly.  Bloody hell!  Have Halls of Residence changed since the days of the Shah and me?!  I didn’t go to Uni but I went straight into a Nurse’s Home which was almost Victorian in its set up. I had a tiny room with a cupboard and a sink in the corner and a lovely view over a humming generator.  There were three bathrooms to serve a corridor of approximately 40 rooms –showers that only ever seemed to run cold and baths that nobody cleaned out.  The kitchen was revoltingly Spartan and everything always felt slightly sticky.  It was pretty much pointless keeping anything in the fridge as it just got nicked and it was impossible to tell which one of your 39 neighbours had done it.  The one pay phone (no mobiles in those days) was always hogged by a scrawny girl called Val who spent hours sobbing down it to her boyfriend back home.  The Shah, by contrast, messed up his University application to the extent that he arrived in Wales with nowhere to live and spent the first two weeks camping out on the floor of the Sports Hall until he could sort out a room in a shared house.  Compare and contrast with the student accommodation that is today’s offering.  Our boy is sharing a flat, within a Hall of Residence (are they even called that these days?) which consists of six ensuite rooms with a large, communal kitchen.  The kitchen features 2 labelled cupboards and a drawer for each room, a large fridge and a gigantic freezer, built in oven and all the little extras like a toaster and microwave supplied along with cleaning equipment, ironing board etc.  His room has more cupboard space than our bedroom at home, internet connection, a full length mirror, you name it.  He is in one of several blocks arranged around a central green which features an attractive duck pond.  At least he pronounced it “sick”.  Had he said otherwise, I might have been tempted to smack him one. 

It all seems a million miles from the days when he had to be physically peeled off my leg every morning and dragged howling like a banshee into his Reception class, lunchbox in hand.  His  academic career has not always lived up to expectations – he was the only boy in his first school to have his own behaviour book which had to be signed by the teacher at the end of every lesson.  I have already mentioned his ignominious school experiences, so I won’t go into them again here, but somehow those years which appeared, at the time, to stretch before us forever now seem to have gone by in the blink of an eye. 

But whilst the Shah and I might be able to rationalise it and (eventually) get our heads around his moving on, his sister is feeling the pain much more keenly.  Their sibling rivalry notwithstanding, she adores her brother and hates being what she calls an ‘only child’.  One of her closest friends is in the same boat and they spent yesterday evening texting their woes to each other. 

And so I move into my Gap Years.  Right now, there is a huge gap, a yawning chasm where my funny, handsome, sarcastic (he is his mother’s son after all) boy used to be.  It feels strange – he’s been away from home before for a couple of weeks at a time but this is obviously different.  He says he is coming home in three weeks for a party, but I wonder if the attractions of Uni life might prove too much and he might “ceebs” it after all.

You've come a long way baby!

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

The Name Game

I had intended to write a piece decrying Jamie Oliver for calling his unfortunate son Buddy Bear Maurice.  But I actually quite like Jamie Oliver – he seems to be a what-you-see-is-what-you-get type of guy, few airs and graces and is clearly passionate about what he does.  And he produces nice books and recipes that work.

So I thought I would let him off – which was big of me, I’m sure you will agree.  Besides, if I’m going to write a(nother) really narky piece, I’d rather concentrate on the real irritants of the world – Bob Geldof or  Bono or George Michael, for example but Bob’s choice of names for his daughters is just silly, I have no idea what Bono’s kids are called, assuming he even has some and George Michael, well, ahem, he is unlikely ever to have any.

And anyway, if you just Google “stupid celebrity baby names” the search engine, in its majesty, presents you with 166,000 results which is slightly worrying.   And when you start to browse through some of those names, you come up with “Pilot Inspektor” (son of Jason Lee and Beth Riesgraf, whoever they may be), and “Reign Beau” (daughter of Ving Rhames –er, who?), not to mention “Speck Wildhorse” and “Moxie Crimefighter” – yes, both real and belonging to the son of John Mellencamp (80’s singer) and the daughter of Penn Gillette (the talking one out of Penn & Teller) respectively.  What the hell is wrong with these people?  What’s wrong with a good old fashioned Mary or James?

It gets better worse.  Imagine having to live with the moniker “Jermajesty”.  You would if your dad was Jermaine Jackson.  Or try “Audio Science” or “Diva Muffin” (which sounds vaguely obscene).  Some bloke called Robert Rodriguez was either fixated with the letter R or simply devoid of all imagination when he chose Rocket, Racer, Rebel, Rogue and Rhiannon for his kids’ names.  So what next?  If his wife has a tough pregnancy he could go for “Reflux” or maybe “Regurge”.

And then there is the celeb who went for O’shun for her presumably longed-for baby.  If she ever gets pregnant by accident, she could always try O’shitt for its sibling.

But perhaps the names “Whizdom” and “Bow-Ty” take the bis-kit?  Or maybe the prize should go to a guy called Rob Morrow who eschewed all fancy nomenclature and simply called his kid “Tu”.  I'm guessing he's American because why else would you name your child after a line of clothing in a supermarket?  It's the equivalent of having twins and naming them Florence & Fred 

 Let’s hope the poor mite never auditions for a part in Annie...

You're calling me WHAT??

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Cat woman...

I came across this today...it made me laugh and it's just so true.  Any of us can be in the foulest mood, in the midst of a rancid argument with any one of our parents/children/siblings and as soon as a cat enters the equation, we are reduced to soppy, dribbling creatures.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Daddy Dearest...

In contrast to the mummies so frequently seen on the school run, or clustered around the gates anytime after 3pm, the school run Dad is a much rarer animal.  Not possessed of the soft heart of the Mummy, he can cheerfully dump and run, leaving little Cameron/Lexi sobbing into the voluminous skirts of the teacher on duty and scarper for the 8.15 to Waterloo without so much as a backward glance.

Dads don’t have a great deal of patience with the school run and the delicate nuances of female competition.  They prefer to bulldoze their way up the pavement, yanking a near-hysterical child behind them and tough tits if you’ve forgotten your show and tell for today and left your lunchbox at home.  If you're lucky, he might stop off at the newsagent and buy you a packet of crisps and a family sized bar of fruit and nut to keep you going.  As soon as you crack that open at lunchtime, half the class reaches for an Epipen and the dinner ladies become hysterical.

Even worse is the Dad who is late and decides to try and drive right up as close to the school as possible.  One such got caught behind a friend of mine who was trying (pretty unsuccessfully) to reverse her car into quite a tight spot.  It took her two or three goes and, once he was able to get past, he stopped his car alongside hers, lowered the window and yelled “you stupid f*cking woman” at her for precisely no reason at all, other than he reckoned himself because he was a newsreader on some feckin’ dismal little satellite channel that nobody watched and a giant tosser into the bargain.  So, naturally, he was far too important to wait for someone else to park.  We consoled ourselves by reassuring each other that his wife was thick and his children were fugly.

We have already encountered competitive dad who, on the school run as on Sports Day, is inclined to turn up in a tracksuit and the very latest Nike trainers.  He jogs on the spot whilst waiting for the gates to open and insists that Ben and Ella run home, even though it's pouring with rain and Ella turned an ankle in Gym earlier on today.  He hares off through the puddles, splashing anyone too slow to get out of his way with a cry of "It's only rain - you won't melt!" as Ben and Ella trail miserably behind, trying not to look at their school friends steaming past in the Mercedes 4x4, making big L's with their thumb and forefingers and mouthing LOSERS! through the window at them.

Weekend Wally is the divorced Dad who picks up from school on a Friday night.  With no idea at all what to do with his offspring while their mother is re-enacting scenes from ‘Cougarville’  in All Bar One, he relies on forced jollity to get him through.  He is inclined to greet Joshua with a hearty “Hey BUDDY!” and Lottie with “how’s my little Princess today?!” which makes both children cringe and blush.  Minutes later in the car, Josh receives a text from the class bully, Troy.  It reads “Ur dad is a spaz and a gaylord”.

At one time, my kids attended the same school as a certain now-famous TV chef.  Of course, he wasn’t famous in those days and he never once roared “school doesn’t get any tougher than this” as he let his kids out of the BMW on the double yellows in the morning. 

Dads also have little regard for the rules.  Viz the Shah who, at our kids’ first school, took on the role of Santa at the Christmas Fair with great gusto.  Needless to say, he was totally politically incorrect and allowed, nay encouraged, children to sit on his knee and/or give him a hug.  I was living in fear of his being branded a Plastic Paedo* but he was having none of it. 

It was probably just as well that it was deemed to be too onerous (ie sweaty in that beard) for one person to do the whole shift, so there would be an interval in the proceedings and someone else would take over.  Who should volunteer but the Shah’s mate Jim?  Nothing funny about that until you find out that Jim is actually Jewish.  So (as he delightedly recounted to a Board meeting the following week) there was him (Jewish) and the Shah (Hindu) sharing the Father Christmas robes at the very Christian school’s Winter Fair.  The Headmaster didn’t seem too bothered, not a single child commented on the fact that the morning shift Santa had acquired a deep tan from somewhere and, in case you're wondering, a Plastic Paedo* is a sorry excuse for a real one.  Sorry Shah!

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Back to skool...

Ah, it’s that time of year again, when we head back onto the school run with death in our collective hearts.

Believe me, those of you who are either male or child-free, there is no arena so competitive as the school gate and it has been the downfall of many a knackered mummy who has (ahem, like my good self on occasion) turned up to drop off or collect, still in her pyjamas.  In fact, the school gate is positively tribal.  One practised glance at your fellow mummies and you can tell precisely which tribe they belong to.  They come broadly as follows:-

Cashmere Kate
The Cashmere Kates are usually tiny in every sense of the word, blonde and pretty in a cream-and-pink sort of a way.  Kate is always immaculately turned out and her clothes are expensive and classic, if not particularly trendy.  Kate never swears or uses vulgar language.  She is inclined to brush her hair and renew her lipstick before hubby arrives home. She drinks Earl Grey out of a china cup and saucer (never a mug!) and usually wears pearls.  She never raises her voice to her children or on any other occasion.  There is generally a vapid little smile on her lips.  She has an O level in Home Economics and another in Art.  She married well.  She is oblivious to the existence of...

Ballbreaker Belinda
Belinda has a job in the City, a massive mortgage and an Architect husband who can’t keep it in his trousers.  She is convinced he is shagging his latest PA.  Added to this, Joshua keeps calling the bloody Australian Nanny (what’s her name again – Charlene?  Raelene?) “Mummy”.   She strides down the road towards school, dragging Joshua behind her, ignoring his wails whilst clicking away on her CrackBerry with her free hand.  The sodding nanny should be doing this but the cow is hungover again.  She has no idea how it all ended up like this.   She has no time at all for Cashmere Kate but secretly envies...

Earthmother Ellen
Ellen has long, curly hair and freshly-scrubbed features.  She wears lacy layers or vintage nighties as dresses with wellingtons with a strawberry print all over them.  She cycles to school on her old fashioned ‘sit up and beg’ bike with a large pannier on the front, containing a Jack Russell puppy.  The children (Gaia, Atticus and Tertia) are hauled along behind in a three man buggy.  On very rainy days, she grudgingly drives a Toyota Pious, sorry Prius.  She always has dirt under her fingernails from the Organic Allotment.  She never shaves her armpits and is inclined to publicly haul one massive, leaking boob from the depths of her vintage lace layers and plug it into a beatific baby, quite unabashed.  Circling fathers find her either gross and slightly unwashed-looking or thrillingly sexy.  She has absolutely nothing in common with...

Susan the Social Experimenter
There is normally only one of these in any school and that is generally considered to be one too many.  Her children are given old-fashioned names, but not trendy ones, just bloody awful ones like Prudence and Gwendoline.  Her 11 year old daughter is still made to wear Doodles and Jelly shoes and Susan frowns upon little girls who wear jeans and shorts as they’re so unladylike.  They do have a television, but it’s just a little black and white portable and they only use it on special occasions like the Proms or a royal wedding because the picture's quite fuzzy really and the only way to get it clear is for Keith to stand and hold the aerial all the time.  Instead of watching TV, they play Grandmother’s Footsteps and What’s the time Mr Wolf?  Susan is sneakily proud of the mobile phone she bought second hand (for emergencies only).  It is 8 inches long (not including the aerial) and weighs 10lbs.  She truly cannot understand the likes of...

Gym Bunny Jenny
Jenny and her ilk are always dressed in the latest designer gym duds.  She is perma-tanned and fearsomely toned because she spends literally all day at the local David Lloyd, where she works out like a demon and then indulges in a tough sports massage.  After this, she meets a few of the girls in the Restaurant for lunch where they vie to see who can chase a lettuce leaf around a plate the longest.  She has had a bit of work done but would rather die than admit it.  Marcus must never find out!  She is terrified of losing him and (more to the point) his hedge fund manager salary.  She has given Marcus two adorable daughters – Poppy and Saffron – but knows he is desperate for a son.  She would like to have another baby but the potential effect on her 37 year old waistline gives her night terrors.  She looks with pity upon...

Average Eva
Eva is in the middle.  Middle class, middle aged and muddling along.  She does her best with two unruly children and a largely absent workaholic husband.  She works four days a week but would love to cut down to three, if only they could afford it.  She could do with losing half a stone or so because she drinks more than is strictly good for her but hey, what the hell?  If someone gave you the bottle of wine it doesn’t count and if someone else pours the glass, that doesn’t count either.  Consequently, she and her friends spend a lot of time pouring for each other.  She is constantly harassed and downtrodden by her children who inform her that every meal she produces is “like, puke innit?” and refuse to lift a finger around the house sighing “ugh, effort,” when asked.  She wishes she had Jenny’s body and Ellen’s insouciance but knows she will never have either and the bloody cat’s brought another mouse in.

There was one famous occasion when a friend and I went to watch our sons play football for the school. We got to the ground only to find that the newsreader Mark Austin was there – and jolly handsome in the flesh too – because his son was on the opposing team.  Blimey!  Poor bloke hardly saw any of the match, because he was constantly surrounded by Cashmere Kates vying for his attention.  And he was charming and didn’t tell a single one of them to “feck off, I’m here to see my boy play” which I would have been tempted to do.

There are probably more mummy types than this but I feel quite exhausted by this lot.  Watch this space – the Daddies are coming!

Monday, 30 August 2010

Contemplating Canada

We have recently returned from our first visit to Canada.  You have to understand the Shah’s general aversion to holidays to appreciate quite what a stunning piece of breaking news this constitutes... This post is a bit late, but life has intervened (by which I mean A level results and the ensuing fall out which I have already bored you with), so I'm a bit out of sync.

Anyway, as it happens, the Shah has a great many relatives in Canada and we divided our time between two sets of cousins, one lot based in Toronto and  the others in Montreal.  All of them, without exception, were unbelievably hospitable and went to endless trouble to drive us around, sneak the Shah onto Golf courses he shouldn’t have been playing on, and generally show us a good time.

I think I (well all of us) had lazily assumed that Canada would simply be an extension of the States and we couldn’t have been more wrong.  It has a totally different feel.  It’s relaxed and so much calmer without all the constant gushing and jingoistic oratory so often present south of the border.  This may sound petty, but one of the most refreshing things was that nobody, I mean absolutely no-one commented on our accents.  Given that we didn’t see (or hear) one other English accent while we were there, this was an oddity.  In the States, you hear English pronunciation all the time, but they are still fascinated by it (or at least they pretend to be).  Even hardened New Yorkers have followed us around shops in a truly unsubtle manner, gawping with their mouths open every time we spoke to one another.  It became like having our very own stalkers.  And there’s only so many times you can smile and agree when someone tells you that you “talk real neat” and exhorts you to “like, say something”.

Anyway, we had a completely fab time and saw all the sights:-

Niagara Falls,
To get an idea of the scale, take a look at the tiny people top right...

Did you know you can take a boat ride out to the base of the Falls (so much better from the Canadian side) and get thoroughly drenched and deafened, not to mention awed by the sight and sound of nature’s full force?  Well, you can and it's amazing!

The CN tower.  Impressively and scarily high, complete with a glass floor for the brave to walk on – surprisingly the Shah wouldn’t be persuaded onto it – and with a revolving restaurant atop it.

Took in a baseball game cheering on the Toronto Blue Jays who won because Jose Bautista is some sort of demi god in the world of Baseball.  It was fun to go to but, to be honest, it still reminded me of a grown up game of Rounders.  The best bits were when the players chucked balls, t-shirts, gloves etc into the crowd.  Imagine the squawks from Health & Safety if we tried that here!

And we travelled a bit further afield to Montreal, where we sampled delicious Poutine
Yum Yum!
Unfortunately, although I spent some hours trawling the net, I was unable to come up with a picture that didn’t make Poutine look like someone had yarked their cookies all over a plate.  I promise you it is a lot more delicious than it sounds (a plate of chips covered with gravy and curd cheese) or looks, er like someone has, well, y’know...

On to Quebec City 
(beautiful and charming but irritatingly French) where you can buy all sorts of unusual cadeaux
Dead bear or a nice wolf skin anyone?

and the capital, Ottawa which features a miniature Houses of Parliament accurately modelled on our own.

The Shah and I are firm believers in introducing our children to different cultures and enabling them to experience diverse sights, sounds, flora and fauna.  So it was heartwarming to realise that TD had, indeed, been observing the local wildlife at play in its natural habitat viz this conversation:-
“Hey mum, I saw this really cool bird this morning.  It had, like, a red quiff and blue stuff coming out of its bum...”

Mind you, the Shah and I were no better when we gasped at a black squirrel in a Toronto garden, only to be informed by our bemused hosts that the North American squirrel is, erm, black and they are about as common as our grey squirrels..doh!

Possibly only one small down side was the Canadian love of the slogan t-shirt.  Three of the worst we came across (all being worn by people in the street) were:-

For my next trick I will require a condom and a volunteer”
“You looked better on Facebook”
And the quite gross “well, I’m no Gynaecologist but I’ll take a look...
They make “ I'm with stupid” look positively cerebral.

That small complaint apart, we loved Canada and can’t wait to see more of it.  Although we felt we had travelled around quite a lot, when we looked on a map, we had covered about a quarter of an inch....better start saving now.