Friday, 30 April 2010

The Perfect Face...

So, a recent study by Dr Michael Lewis at Cardiff university has apparently shown that mixed-race children are biologically stronger and deemed by their peers to be cleverer, more successful and more beautiful than those of ‘pure’ blood (ooh, is that the sound of Adolf Hitler spinning in his grave?)

As you may well have gathered by now, our kids fall into the mixed category and were both delighted with the news of their supposed superiority.  TD’s reaction was to thank me sweetly for getting together with the Shah.  TS, on the other hand, received the news with an exclamation of “sick!”  Then as he brushed past me, “out of my way, honky.”

It’s extraordinary how times have changed so quickly.  When the Shah and I were first an item (yikes, all of 22 years ago!) mixed-race couples were still an oddity to many people.  Strangely enough, we experienced most disapproval from elderly Asians who would stare and mutter under their breath as we passed them.  Mind you, white people were no better.  We were told (by both sides) that any children we had would be ‘social outcasts’ and wouldn’t know which “side” they belonged to.  This makes me laugh even today.  As I type, my daughter is sitting at the dining room table with 4 friends, supposedly doing some homework, but actually just nattering the way that teenage girls do, hooting with laughter intermittently.  There is TD (half Indian), her friend S (half Swedish), C (half Chinese) and I (half Irish).  Amongst her and her brother’s other friends are Italians, Pakistanis, Argentinians, Russians and Portuguese – and that’s just the ones who spring easily to mind – there are no doubt others that I have forgotten to include.  And anyway, our kids are admired by white people for being brown and admired by Indians for being pale – it’s win-win for them.  If you don’t believe me, look at Aishwarya Rai, Indian megastar with her milky complexion and golden highlighted hair...

It’s extraordinary how, in the space of a few years, attitudes have swung 180°  By the time we had our second child (TD) and had moved into our first proper house, we found that we had neighbours of our age who mirrored us; Indian wife and English husband.  Unfortunately, TD developed the habit of shouting “Daddy!”  at any of the wife’s brothers who happened to be visiting but it kept the street entertained.  We have now moved towns and, today, the couple at the back of us are Indian and English, as are next-door-but-one and two more couples further down the looks as though we might be taking over the world! 

It may sound facile, but the rise of the mixed-race could easily be helped by shows such as the X Factor and Britain’s’ Got Talent as such a large number of the hopefuls performing are clearly ‘half and half’ – think Leona Lewis,

JLS, Diversity (there’s a clue in the name...) all of which helps mixed race people become more the norm.  Who knows, it may even help our country cousins accept people of colour – they seem to struggle in some areas.  In fact, the worst racism we have ever encountered was in a Welsh pub.  We had booked to eat there (by phone, so they hadn’t seen us).  When we arrived – the four of us plus Irish Granny – our booking had been mysteriously cancelled (scratched out of the book so hard with a biro that it had made a hole in the page) and, although we stood patiently at the bar for some time, we had suddenly become invisible.  Eventually, we just left.  There seemed little point in trying to reason with such ignorance. 

The irony of the whole event was that we had gone there to sample their curry night, but they didn't seem to get it.  Pillocks.

Monday, 26 April 2010


When life is getting me down, there are two places I commonly go to for succour (before I dump on my closest girlfriends that is...).  If the source of my depressed state is the children, I may visit Mumsnet and take a look at the chat forum on Teenagers.  This way I can comfort myself that mine may be sarky and narky but at least they are not out mugging old ladies and having underage sex whilst mainlining Heroin.   The other place I go to is the very excellent FMylife website which, if you haven't yet discovered it, is a place for anyone to bemoan their lot in life in a few brief sentences.  Every entry has to start with “Today...” and end with “FML”.  The posts are pretty diverse and range from the utterly gross e.g. “Today I woke up very sick and home alone.  An intense feeling of nausea came over me.  As I was rushing to the toilet, I collapsed onto my hands and knees and puked violently.  After spewing my stomach contents all over the floor, my arms gave way and I fell face-first into a pool of my own vomit. FML” to the quite unfortunate:- “Today I saw an elderly man fall in a crosswalk, so I jumped off my bike to help.  As I helped him across, the light turned green.  At that point I noticed that my phone had fallen out of my pocket in the street and was run over by several cars.  I then watched across a 6 lane street as someone stole my bike. FML” via the unbelievably ill-fated:  “Today, I have a potentially life-changing job interview.  The left side of my face is so swollen it makes me look like a chipmunk and I can’t stop drooling.  FML.”

Unfortunately, my entry for FMylife would prove to be too long and ranting and would go something like this...Driving home from work on Friday night, I passed the pub at the bottom of our road which has tables outside.  Resplendent at one of the tables I spied the Shah and his friend and colleague, Adrian.  This is what passes for ‘working at home’.  I try to give him the benefit of the doubt and tell myself that he will a) be home soon and b) be home sober but I know in my heart that neither is true.  This means that I will be on taxi duty for TD who wishes to be transported to Badminton for 7pm, picked up two hours later and taken to a sleepover, several miles in the opposite direction.  End result?  I get to finally sit down at 10pm, by which time the Shah has been snoring like a grampus on the sofa for hours on end.  Eventually, he opens one eye and asks me if we should get a takeaway.  I crisply reply that I have eaten thanks, and perhaps he might like to enjoy sex and travel?

To compound my ill temper, I woke at 6am on Saturday - body clock obviously still fully in work mode.  Finding that I was roasting hot and unable to move in the bed was a bit of a mystery – but was fairly quickly solved by craning my neck to discover that there was a collective 11kg of cat pinning the duvet to the mattress – one either side of me.

So I lie in bed for 40 minutes, waiting for blessed sleep to drown me again but no luck.    All I can hear is two varieties of purring.  The feline sort – they have twigged that it must soon be breakfast time and the Shah sort, which is an altogether less pleasant experience.  This sort of “purring”, known in our family as “Oh God, can’t someone shut him up?  Mum, put a pillow over his face,” generally occurs on the sofa and after the ingestion of many, many pints of lager.  Later, he announces that he has to be at “the game” by 11.30.  “What game?” I ask with a creeping sense of betrayal.  “Er, Hockey,” sez he like I am a 24 carat moron.  “You told me it was the last game of the season last weekend...”  deathly silence.  “Oh did I?” (shiftily).  Feckin’ brilliant.  We both work full time so, given that the fabric and environs of Crap Cottage require more attention than your average newborn, every minute of every weekend is precious.  Rage meter rising.

So clearly it is now down to me to collect TD who has already asked to be taken to yet another friend’s house (oh yes – several billion more miles in another direction) to do some homework project.  On the way back I stop off at the supermarket.  Not only is it rammed, there are only something like 25% of the tills operating and queues of furious customers look likely to lynch the management who keep making facile PA announcements apologising for the delays and assuring us that they have “all our checkout trained staff working”.  A blatant lie because two checkouts close just as I approach them.  I get home at around 3pm, having had no lunch, to find that there is nobody at home to help cart in a hundred and twenty quid’s worth of shopping.  Just as I have carried in the last bag, the Shah appears from his match which seems, mysteriously to have taken 4 hours to complete.  “Hello!” he greets me warmly.  “How are you?”  I think I may have mentioned in a previous post that the Shah’s alcohol intake is directly related to the degree of memory loss he experiences the next day, so let’s just say that his welcome is not exactly affectionate.  Nor can I be arsed to repeat every single conversation, relay every social arrangement for all of us or discuss how our respective weeks have gone because WE HAVE DONE IT ALL BEFORE.  Cue the Shah’s famous puppy face.

Saturday evening sees us out with our good mates, The W’s and the H’s.  Only five of us rendezvous at the restaurant because Mr & Mrs H (whose lives seem to run on an eerie parallel to ours) have had to flip a coin to decide who goes in search of an errant teenager.  Mr H lost the toss but turns up in time for a beer.  On to the cinema to see The Ghost a good film and a gripping one with a stonking performance from Olivia Williams as usual but one in which Ewan McGregor seems strangely out of sorts.  I am concentrating on not losing the plot (literally, you understand) when a familiar purring sound begins next to me.  The Shah appears to have snuggled down for the night and my elbow bounces off his upturned gut a few times until he struggles upright again.  This process is repeated every twenty minutes or so throughout the film.  As the final credits roll and the lights come up, I turn and facetiously enquire of him if he would like me to tell him what it was all about.  The Shah protests that he was only asleep in the beginning “because it was a bit slow”.  Outside the cinema, he dangles the car keys in front of me whilst working the Crufts look.  I ask if he is having a larf?  I have spent the entire weekend in the car because of his drunken shenanigans but, somehow, this feckin’ puppy face always fools other people.  “Aaah, bless him,” croon the others.  Bless him?  Feckin’ BLESS HIM? FML!

Thursday, 22 April 2010

An age-old problem

I can’t quite remember what prompted this memory (see?  It’s started...) but I was talking to my mum the other day about memory loss - probably because this is at the forefront of her mind these days – when she remembers. (Sorry mother!)

Mostly, she is able to laugh about it and this reminded me of a time in my life when I spent eight loooong weeks working on an old people’s ward in a local hospital.  In those days it was referred to as a Geriatric Hospital (now it would probably be couched in much less bald terms) and my ward was for “Psycho-Geriatrics” (ow! I flinch at the lack of political correctness – how namby pamby we have become!)   What this broadly meant was that all the incumbents were irreparably confused to a lesser or greater degree.  For a nineteen-year old (as I was at the time) this was a pretty major shock to the system.  I had no idea that old people could be so, well, revolting – in every sense of the word.

The physical side was a particular challenge.  Most of them had to be helped with dressing themselves and several would nip around during the day, stealing clothes, stockings, underwear – you name it – and secreting it around the ward.  We would ask relatives to name precious items but, all too often, Edna ended up wearing Dora’s blouse because there just wasn’t enough time to sort everything out for everyone.

We grew to dread Wednesdays because Tuesdays were Gooseberry Day.  I will leave you to imagine why Gooseberries on a Tuesday might have an effect on Wednesday...but let’s just say it, ahem, involved a great deal of mopping and disinfecting.

Then there was the issue of keeping the ladies entertained all day – not easy and (it was a different world back then) they spent hours staring at the TV or simply babbling to themselves, some of them rarely making it out of bed.  Like Irish Mary who could entertain you with totally lucid stories of her life in the Emerald Isle to the point where we wondered what the hell she was doing in a ward like this.  Then she would weep and say “and now I’m pregnant, you see.”  Mary was 84. 

Florrie was another dear old thing who gazed into space while keeping up a monologue, day in, day out.  It was a sort of stream of consciousness – a narrative of her life – and it always involved children.  “Me and the baby, we’re going down the shops, me dad give me ‘alf a crown fer the shoppin’.  Me and the kids all goin’ down the town...”etc etc  On the day that a nun arrived with a busload of Primary School kids to sing Christmas Carols to the old folk, we thought Florrie would be the ideal audience.  After all, she loves kids, doesn’t she?  The children gathered nervously around the end of her bed and sang Silent Night in reedy voices, some of them had recorders – it was adorable.  Florrie was unusually sleepy and appeared not to notice their presence.  We hauled her up in bed.  “Look Florrie!” we cried “The children have come to sing to you!”

Florrie opened one eye and glared around her.  “Children?  Children?  Nasty little bleeders – they take out their wotsits and play wiv themselves y’know.” And with that, she closed the eye and went back to sleep.  I will never forget the look on the poor nun’s face (or the colour of it) as they children shrieked with naughty laughter.

Emily was more of a Psychiatric case than some of the others, we were told.  She had refused to speak for some years and, consequently, it was very difficult for any of the doctors to assess her mental state.  She sat in bed, frowned for England, accepted food and drink but said nothing, nada, nowt.  We used to chat to her as we were sorting her out, or feeding her, just because it seemed so unfriendly not to.  Anyway, it was supposed to provide them with mental stimulation, right?  Then one day, the logjam broke and, presumably tired of my teenage prattle, Emily SPOKE!  I was absolutely gobsmacked and ran to tell the Ward Sister - a gargantuan Jamaican woman who referred to all of us as "child".

"What's the matter, child?" she enquired kindly as I hurtled into her office.  "It's Emily - she SPOKE!" I burbled in my excitement.  "Good Lord above child!  What did she say?"

"Er, she said 'You stupid bastard'..."  I blushed.  Sister's roars of laughter shook the building.

Of the ones who were mobile, Jessie was a real livewire.  Foremost amongst the light-fingered, she would go on the hunt for food, raiding the other’s bedside cabinets in search of a biscuit or a piece of chocolate.  All accompanied by her ceaseless chant of “buggerbuggerbuggerbugger...”  Because she kept herself so well occupied “visiting” the rest of the ward (and munching her way through their treats) she tended to be one of the last to be dressed and often wore her hospital-issue nightie until mid-morning.  This was like a hairdresser’s gown and did up behind the neck, leaving a long opening down the back.  She wore nothing else underneath, and we grew inured to the sights we saw as the ladies wobbled around the ward, nighties akimbo.

One day, Jessie decided to make a break for freedom and nipped down the stairs and out of the ward block.  Our ward was on the first floor of a Victorian building, opposite an identical building which was the nurses’ home – the two being separated by a path and a bit of scrubby grass.  We were alerted to Jessie’s absence by the yells of the nurses coming from across the way.  Being one of the youngest, I was sent off to capture the escapee and found myself legging it up the path in hot pursuit of Jessie who was moving at a surprising speed.  Every nurse in the universe appeared to be hanging out of the windows yelling “Go Jessie!” at the absconder while “buggerbuggerbuggerbugger...” floated back to me on the wind.  I almost lost her because my progress was hampered by hysterical laughter, both at the surrealism of the situation and by the sight of the back of Jessie’s nightgown flapping in the breeze and her bare buttocks flapping in time with it.  Eventually, I caught up with her and she came with me like a lamb, still muttering under her breath.  Once we reached the ward, she took my hand and kissed it.  I was touched by this little show of affection.  Then she bit it.  Hard.

Wasn’t too bad – she had no teeth.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Knitty Nora

Do you remember the Nit Nurse who used to come round school and give everyone the once-over to see if you had any “visitors” as they euphemistically put it?  Known to all children as “Nitty Nora, the biddy explorer” Anyway, that has nothing to do with this which is actually about my revived interest in (and untapped skill at) the gentle art of knitting.

At my place of work, there are hundreds of pregnant women.  No, I don’t work on a Labour Ward, that’s just a wild exaggeration.

But there are a few and, as it turns out, there is a risky tradition that anyone who would like to can join in with making a blanket for a first baby.  The idea is to knit loads of squares (well, diamond shapes really) that will be sewn together.

Now, I learned to knit as a child – it seemed to be the thing that you did back then.  I was never much cop at it (another disappointment for my mother) but I recall making a few nice scarves for dolls and teddies.  I also learned how to do “French Knitting” which involved wrapping wool round 4 small nails which my dad had tapped into an empty cotton reel or, if you were really unlucky, some well-meaning aunt or grandmother would give you a French Knitting set for your birthday.  WOW!  You would cry – thanks!  (For nothing).  These sets inevitably tried to out-posh the homemade variety with an evil-looking wooden doll with bits of Medusa metal poking out of its head in place of the small nails.  Actually, this was a damn sight more frustrating than a good old cotton reel because it took twice as long for your knitted cord to emerge from the innards of said doll.  Anyway, all this incessant winding and looping produced a long cord of stocking stitch which was completely and utterly useless for anything other than a pyjama cord.  Or to top yourself with through the total boredom of it's production.

But back to babies.  “The pattern’s really easy,” says Alice who is organising this and is clearly a veteran knitter, bringing various hand-crafted, hugely complicated-looking items into the office to show us.  My heart begins to sink a little.

So I take home a good-sized ball of soft white wool and (huzzah!) manage to find my mother’s ancient knitting needles which she passed on to me years ago and which, for some reason I have never thrown out  - even though I can’t have knitted anything since I was under 11.  But it’s amazing how things come back to you – like swimming breaststroke or schoolgirl French – even when you haven’t tried them for aeons.

So I manage to cast on – result!  Alice has already told me that she can’t knit at home any more because her husband can’t stand the sound of the needles clicking.  The Shah doesn’t object to the needles (probably because progress is so slow there is minimal clicking) but he gets a bit crabby at having a constant, whispered soundtrack to his evening which goes, “knit two, purl six, knit two together, yarn forward – whaat?  Fuckit!”  as I find I am completely unable to knit without talking myself through the whole snail-like process. 

Unfortunately, the next thing that happens is that Paddy (ever keen to sit on me and make bread with his paws and express his great love with 100 decibel purring) sees the wool and (despite being a knitting virgin) immediately turns into a ravening beast, overcome by wool lust.  Quite apart from not wanting the whole lot to end up as some sort of spaghetti mess, it strikes me that it’s not exactly hygienic to have a large ginger tom trying to shag the wool you are turning into a blanket for a newborn.

So, after several such episodes, I resort to loud screeching at Paddy (more irritation for the Shah) and follow up with poking him hard with the blunt end of the needles whenever he comes near.  Bizarrely, this does nothing to assuage his infatuation – it seems only to inflame him further.  The only way to get anything done in peace and with some sort of nod to basic hygiene standards is to shut myself into a room alone (thus providing peace for the Shah as well) and try to concentrate whilst porky boy scratches at the carpet outside, and headbutts the closed door, howling piteously.

But friends.....look what I made < glow of pride> < Further glow of disbelief>

Monday, 12 April 2010

And they're off!

For the first time in living history, we actually got the first three in the Grand National!  Unfortunately, the Shah, TD and I were in the Midlands at the time, paying a visit to the Outlaws and had left TS at home, ostensibly to do some revision.  His only other occupation this week has been caring for the spawn of Wags and footballers at a local kiddie camp.  He has rated his experiences as follows:

Day 1:  Arrives home in a towering rage and announces that the Camp Leader is not only camp (ha ha) but is also a "bell end" (shut your eyes, mother).  Day rated "total f*cking shit".

Day 2: Camp Leader still camp and now a "knob" as well.  Day only rated as "Shite" - improving.

Day 3: Following a stern talking to from his loving Mummy, he has now learned the art of avoiding Mr Bell-End and appearing to be busy and enthusiastic at all times.  Day rated only as "shit."  Better still.

Day 4: He has obviously settled in well.  Likes the kids but despises fellow workers bar one.  Day rated as "all right".

And so on and so on.  Consequently, he was home alone and, by his own account, rolling on the floor screaming at his horse (Black Appalachi) as it was overtaken by mine (Don't Push It - yay Tony McCoy!) at the very last minute.  And I only chose that horse on a whim because 'Don't Push It' sounds like something I might say on a regular basis.

So, anyway, he was feeling a bit bereft at having nobody to share the good news with so he rang me as we were en route home to share the glad tidings. Poor old TD was furious - her horse fell late on - and she earned none of our massive £29 winnings.

Well, whaddya expect for £2 each way?!

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Less than Ideal

The fact that it has taken me almost a week to produce this report should tell you what the Ideal Home was like....

Actually, that’s a wild exaggeration – the truth is that I've had the week off and have abandoned all pretences at blogging in favour of shopping during daylight hours, sitting in the garden and reading the paper or papers.  I adore newspapers – I wanted to be a journalist when younger but my parents put a stop to such idiotic ideas -  a move which undoubtedly saved my life, given what the culture of Fleet Street was said to be like in those far flung days.  So nowadays, I content myself with buying several during leisure time and devouring them sneakily.

However, less rambling – more reporting!  The Shah and I sailed up to the nice man blocking the entrance to the Red car park underneath Earls Court and the Shah wound down the window.  Before he could utter a word, Signor Jobsworth snapped “Ees fool” and walked away.

“We’ve booked,” bellowed the Shah in return at which Signor J made a finger gesture which may or may not have meant “in that case, please drive on, honourable sir.”  The Shah, just to be on the safe side, returned the gesture and, honour satisfied, we carried on down the ramp to the parking area.

Emerging into the daylight again on foot some minutes later, we discovered that we were then expected to undertake a mile long trek round to the front of the exhibition hall to gain entry.  This set the Shah into a very bad mood and he swore and grumbled all the way round and complained about his knee hurting from hockey and I made all the right noises and held his hand and reiterated what a lovely day out together we were going to have.  The Shah simply bared his teeth at me.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” I asked, confused.
“I was smiling,” replied he, shiftily.
“No you bloody weren’t, that was a grimace.  You’re worried about how much today is going to cost you!”
“No I’m not,” whined the Shah unconvincingly.

We had to collect our pre-booked tickets and that whole process was a shambles.  Eventually, having repeated my postcode half a dozen times to the lady behind the counter who was either very thick or very deaf (guess which I favour), we obtained some printed tickets and were allowed in. 

I won’t bore you with every stall and every item we came across – mainly because there seemed to be quite a few less of them than in previous years – an effect of le credit crunch?  Dunno, but it all seemed to be a bit of a weird mishmash of the cheap and nasty and the ludicrously expensive with not a whole helluva lot in between.  For example, on the expensive front, we had a mini marina in the middle of the hall, complete with Sunseeker craft moored in it.  There was also a preponderance of bi-fold doors, solar heating systems and gigantic hot tubs – big enough to be sectioned off so that you could sit in one end with the spa jets on (and a telly that popped up from within the walls) and swim in the other end with a wave machine on.  But who in their right mind pops down to the Ideal Home to purchase something of that magnitude?

At the other end of the scale, there were the ubiquitous small kitchen items being demonstrated by wild-eyed, sweaty men with voices hoarse from a week’s worth of hawking their wares to a dead-eyed public.  We headed for the so called ‘Gadget Zone’ (an area which had a magnetic attraction for the Shah).  We passed one exhibitor who was having trouble getting anyone to stop and listen to his shtick, and his bitter voice floated after us: “Enjoy the mop demonstrations,” he yelled, “there’s 17 of them!” And Reader, he wasn’t exaggerating.

The whole place is arranged in various Zones and we mooched through them in a half hearted fashion, the Shah clutching his wallet as if his life depended on it.  Eventually, we reached the Garden Zone, that being one of the few places he might feel comfortable laying out a few shekels.  Apart from the people watching (WHY bring your 92 year old Granny along in a wheelchair?  You might think it’s a nice day out for her, but you’re pushing and you can’t see her face...) this was the area that gave us the best laugh.  Aside from the repellent thatched cottage-type sun rooms, lovingly crafted from orange wood and then given 25 coats of hi-gloss varnish, we found Garden Ornaments, the like of which we had never seen.  

Who, for example would like (or has the space for) a life-sized bronze stallion, in a ferocious rearing stance?  Well someone obviously wasn't deterred by the £2000 price tag, because it bore a large red SOLD sticker.

If your purse was a little smaller, you could always have gone for a charming (ahem) pair of pixies, frozen forever in a game of leapfrog like this?

Or perhaps a large baboon is more to your taste?

We escaped without spending very much money at all, much to the obvious relief of the Shah. My friend Madame Marmite, whose blog on the life of returnees from La Belle France I commend to you wholeheartedly, has suggested that next year I ditch the Shah and take her.

Sounds like a plan!

Monday, 5 April 2010

Easter Schmeaster

From the above, you may have deduced that I am struggling, nay battling with the teeth-grinding trauma of an Easter en famille.  In fact the only Family member whom I find remotely bearable at the moment is TD and that’s because she is slumming it in some castle in Bath with a friend and friend's parents and friend's Godfather who owns said castle and is therefore not here to harass me.  She is doing it by text instead.  I have been on the receiving end of countless missives, lauding the splendour of her surroundings and comparing same unfavourably to the hovel that is Crap Cottage. “This place doesn’t have a garden,” begins one text and I start to feel sorry for her; “It has GROUNDS!” and my feelings of sympathy ebb away faster than a rip tide.  Can’t wait for her to come home and rub my nose in it some more.

Yesterday I am forced to spend rather more of my “leisure” time than I would normally choose with the Shah.  We head off to the garden centre (again) and spend yet more hundreds of £££ in our brave attempts to make the concrete jungle outside Crap Cottage look a bit more inviting.  The Shah has developed (yet another) highly irritating habit.  In the space of two car journeys, he has done it to me twice which is twice too often.  It always occurs just as you are attempting a manoeuvre which requires judgement and concentration – for example, reversing into or out of a parking space.  All of a sudden, the Shah throws his hands in the air and emits a loud shriek.  I slam on the brakes and scream “WHAAAATISIT?”  at the top of my voice, imagining that I have reversed over a passing Pensioner or slammed into a Toddler.  It turns out that he is simply imitating someone’s shocked reaction to something, or reliving a bit of a film, or singing along to a song on the radio – perm any one from three.  After the second such occurrence, I offer to “chop his bollox off” if he does it again and he, in return, offers me the wounded puppy look, at which he excels.

Meanwhile, mama is in residence.  Mama is grumpy and resentful.  Grumpy because she is old and has the types of aches and pains associated with age and resentful because she is deaf.  In short, everything is wrong.  She has also resumed an old habit which is Giving Advice on Child-Rearing.  You can imagine how well this is received. If she begins a sentence with “Well, if you ask me,...” I am inclined to rush from the room before yet another lecture starts and I say something we might all regret.  On the plus side, she is steadily working her way through a mountain of ironing.  On the minus side, she complains about every article she irons because it is too big/small/wrinkled/damp/dry blah blah blah. 

Yesterday evening, an uncle phones.  Have nice chat with uncle and hand phone to mama.  Walk into family room where TS is glued to his laptop.  “Have you noticed,” he observes, “Every time someone rings to speak to Granny, she starts the conversation by slagging you off?”  I suddenly realise that he is right – bloody nerve!  Then she falls foul of him by announcing to uncle on phone (who has clearly been asking after her beloved grandchildren) “I don’t like beards”.  Now, my Princeling treasures his designer stubble and is proud of maintaining same and never venturing near a razor since I bought him a £6.99 beard trimmer from Chavco.  He is mighty unimpressed by mama’s pronouncements.  More so since she almost wrestled him to the ground in her attempts to make him watch the Boat Race on Saturday.  I have no idea why she is so attached to this dullest of dull events  - only slightly duller than the Shah’s addiction to Grand Prix races which I like to call “Men Driving Round in Circles” or Athletics which I like to call “Men Running Round in Circles” or Scrapheap Challenge which I like to call “Shit”.

Today, we are off to the Ideal Home Show at Earls Court.  It is many, many years since the Shah and I have darkened its doorstep and I can only take this year's willingness to attend on the part of the Shah as some sort of mellowing process in his old age.  Or dementia.

There will, no doubt, be a full match report later this week once I have recovered from the experience.  (I use that term loosely, you understand).