Friday, 22 April 2011

Shoot the Easter Bunny!

Oh great!  It’s the school holidays again!  Huzzah!

Because my kids are no longer at an age at which they need constant supervision and/or entertainment, I had somehow assumed that school hols and all their inherent horrors would now pass me by.  And they would, if it were not for the parents who are utterly incapable of dealing with a bored, fractious child in any kind of constructive manner and whose idea of a sensible activity is to take Harold and Maud to the supermarket at mid-morning the day before a major Bank Holiday.  As any fule kno, this is the time when, traditionally, the whole of the populace behaves as though Armageddon is nigh and descends upon Chavco with fire in their bellies and death in their hearts.  You do have to wonder at people like these – they have clearly never read the String Bag and Octopus Guide to Parenthood, which I reproduce below.

I have to say that I didn’t write this (I wish I had).  Someone sent it to me when TS was a small baby – one who refused to eat, sleep or do anything else one might reasonably expect of a newborn.  It still makes me laugh today although I think it paints a somewhat rosy view of the minefield that is parenthood.

I am currently engaged in writing an updated version relating to guiding teenagers through their formative years.  It’s taking longer than anticipated as I have to allow time for sobbing and rocking in a corner.


1.  Women:  to prepare for maternity, put on a dressing gown and stick a giant beanbag down the front.  Leave it there for 9 months then remove 10% of the beans.    Men:  to prepare for paternity, go to the local chemist.  Tip the contents of your wallet onto the counter and tell the Pharmacist to help himself.  Then go to the supermarket.  Arrange to have your wages paid directly to their head office.  Go home.  Pick up the paper and read it for the last time.

2.  Before you finally go ahead and have children, visit a couple who are already parents.  Berate them about their methods of discipline, lack of patience, appallingly low tolerance levels and how they have allowed their children to run riot.  Suggest ways in which they might improve their children’s sleeping habits, toilet training, table manners and overall behaviour.  Enjoy it - it will be the last time in your lives you will have all the answers.

3.  To discover how the nights feel, walk around the sitting room from 5pm to 10pm carrying a wet sandbag weighing approximately 8-12lbs.  At 10pm put the bag down; set the alarm for midnight and go to sleep.  Get up at midnight and walk the floor with the bag until 1am.  Put the alarm on for 3am.  As you can’t get back to sleep, get up at 2am and make a drink.  Go to bed at 2.45 am.  Get up at 3am when the alarm goes off.  Sing songs in the dark until 4am.  Put the alarm on for 5am.  Get up, make breakfast.  Keep this up for 5 years.  Look cheerful.

4.  Can you stand the mess that children make?  To find out, first smear Marmite on the sofa and jam onto the curtains.  Hide a fish finger behind the TV and leave it there through the summer.  Stick your fingers in the flower beds and then rub them on the clean walls.  Cover the stains with Crayons.  How does that look?

5.  Dressing small children is not as easy as it looks.  First buy an octopus and a string bag.   Put the octopus into the string bag so that none of the arms hang out.  Time allowed for this - all morning.

6.  Forget the Mazda MX-5 and buy a Sierra.  Buy a choc-ice and put it in the glove compartment.  Leave it there.  Take a 20p piece.  Stick it into the cd player.  Get a family sized pack of chocolate biscuits.  Mash them down the back of the seats.  Run a garden rake along both sides of the car.  There.  Perfect.

7.  Get ready to go out.  Wait outside the loo for half an hour.  Go out of the front door.  Come back in.  Go out again.  Walk down the path.  Walk back up it.   Walk down it again.  Walk down the road for 5 minutes.  Stop to minutely inspect every cigarette end, piece of used chewing gum, dirty tissue and dead insect along the way.  Retrace your steps.  Scream that you’ve had as much as you can stand until the neighbours come out and stare at you.  Give up and go back home.  Do it all again later.  You are now just about ready to take a small child for a walk.

8.  Go to your local supermarket.  Take with you the nearest thing you can find to a pre-school child - a fully grown goat is excellent.  If you intend to have more than one child, take more than one goat.  Buy your week’s groceries without letting the goats out of your sight.  Pay for everything the goats eat or destroy.  Until you can easily accomplish this, do not consider having children.

9.  Hollow out a melon.  Make a small hole in the side.  Suspend it from the ceiling and swing it from side to side.  Mush a Weetabix up with warm milk and attempt to spoon it into the swinging melon by pretending to be an aeroplane.  Continue until half the Weetabix is gone.  Tip the rest into your lap, making sure a lot of it falls on the floor.  You are now ready to feed a 12 month old baby.

10. Always repeat everything you say at least 5 times.   Always repeat everything…..

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

In Salou-brious

First up, I apologise for the ridiculous title of this post.  It was just irresistible.

This is the final word on the debauchery of Saloufest (incidentally, if you follow this link, you will find the following instruction:-  "Do not settle for second best- join the other eight thousand students who live and breath for one week a year!"  Hmmm, not an English graduate then?)

I thought I would share this with you because it made me laugh.  According to TS, the worst aggression shown all week was their chants of "we are red-brick - you're a f*cking poly" to rival Unis.

Not exactly ASBO standard, huh?  

Friday, 15 April 2011

Oh no, not my baby...

I like a good wallow in self pity and am currently referring to myself as Cinderella, on the grounds that the Shah has enjoyed a well-documented holiday working trip to Las Vegas, TD is shortly off to Berlin and TS is on his way home from a Hockey tour to Spain.  I get to stay at home and be sensible.  (ish).

Being a bit distracted by work and just life in general, we probably didn't pay too much attention to the details (or lack of) supplied by TS about said tour.  All we knew was that it was a University sports festival - he would be playing Hockey every day and I think both the Shah and I thought what a good thing it was for him to do - lots of sport, lots of fresh air etc.  Yes, he spent considerable time and money hunting down fancy dress outfits before he left  - even to the extent of raiding the old dressing up box in the garage for his Fireman Sam outfit, but that's all part of lads on tour isn't it? Oh stupid, stupid parents.

We were quite oblivious until someone brought an article in yesterday's Daily Mail to our attention.  Featuring pictures like this:-

and this...
and this...
and this...

You can read the whole article here if you have a strong stomach.  Because I care for the sensibilities of my readership, I have omitted the photo of the lad in mid-vom in the street....lovely.

He is now on his way home and questions will be asked!  All I can say is that there is no feeling quite like examining photos like these hoping against hope that you cannot spot your own child in them.  (we couldn't, thank God.)

Stop Press!  TS has just arrived home, looking unexpectedly healthy (nice tan) and very cheerful.  Unfortunately, all the Freshers were attacked with hair clippers on day 1 so his barnet now looks like this...
(not my son - he won't let me take his photo)

According to him all the press reports are wildly over-exaggerated.  Ahem.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

The wanderer returns

So I am on the motorway, on my way to the airport.  It is a beautiful day. There is bright sunshine, there is birdsong, there is joy in my heart.  The Shah is coming home.  I have checked online and I know that his flight landed a few minutes early - he has not been the victim of some dreadful accident/plane crash/alcohol-induced multiple organ failure and he has clearly not won a million dollars and buggered off with a Las Vegas stripper, so all is right with the world. My mobile rings.

"Where are you?" says a voice, sounding rather tetchy.
"Er, not far away - the traffic's a bit heavier than I thought it would be," I reply in my best soothing voice.  "You ok?"
"Airports put me in a bad mood," replies the Shah inexplicably.  "Come up the ramp - I'm waiting at Departures."
"Can cars go up it?" I ask
"No - only taxis - it'll be fine," comes the reply.  I should point out now that "It'll be fine" is a well-worn mantra beloved of the Shah - usually employed when he is about to embark on some action which is ill advised/utterly stupid/illegal/impossible.

A little further along, I approach said ramp. There is a barrier over it and there are two blokes in high-vis jackets manning said barrier. There is also a sign which reads "Authorised Vehicles Only" in large, unfriendly letters.  I phone the Shah.  He answers sounding even tetchier.  I explain.
"Oh, just drive up it anyway," he says impatiently.
The Shah gives a growl of irritation.  
"I'm heading to the bit signed "Passenger Drop-off" I say and hang up.  Unfortunately, the rest of the world is also heading to the Passenger Drop-off, so I queue for a bit and try not to catch the eye of any of the machine-gun toting Police who are swaggering around the joint.  Eventually, I manage to park and ring the Shah once more to tell him where to find me.
"WHAAAAAT?" he bellows, sounding out of breath and thoroughly infuriated. 
"Come out of the terminal building and turn right.  I'm parked just along there."
"Fuckrrs!" bawls the Shah.  "Send you all round the feckin' houses, just to come down one level..."  just then, I spot a familiar figure stumping along in the distance.  Funny how you know someone so well, you don't need to see any detail - just their gait gives them away.  He reaches the car and I open the boot.  A gigantic pile of school books, uniform, paper, pens, sports kit and general detritus is revealed.
"WTF?" The Shah's nose is beginning to develop little beads of sweat*
We try to balance his suitcase on top of the mountain of crap.  It slides straight off.  At this point, I start to laugh.  This is not a good idea.  The Shah's visage has gone a strange mahogany colour and I fear he might have an infarct on the spot, so I stop laughing. Luckily, the Shah also sees the funny side, and we spend the next 10 minutes humping suitcases around in and out of the car giggling helplessly.

So we are on the motorway.  It is still a beautiful day.  There is bright sunshine, there is birdsong, there is joy in my heart.  The Shah has come home.  In my head, I have a rosy little vision of us having lunch in the garden...some french bread, still warm...some Brie...Salami....olives....a bottle of wine maybe...a lazy afternoon.

The Shah's voice breaks into my reverie.
"You couldn't put your foot down a bit, could you?" he asks, patting my hand vaguely.  "Only I need to get back for the hockey tournament..."

The only sound to be heard is that of my bubble bursting.

*This is a  peculiarity of the Shah - his nose sweats before the rest of him.  If you ever meet a grumpy-looking Indian bloke with a sweaty nose, you know who it is.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Shah update

There has been communication from Nevada, USA where the Shah is currently lolling working hard at a conference.  Due to the time difference which is -8 hours, it is tricky finding a time for any of us to speak to one another when we are not variously in bed, at work or playing poker concentrating hard on riveting speakers.

Eventually I receive a text.  It read as as follows:-

 "Soz ddnt call. was in middle if (sic) poker tourny - bummer. Finshd 12th out of 206. missed out on prizes.  hope ur kping well xxx"

Oh 'poker tourny' eh? So much for "No really, it's going to be quite hard work this conference..." and just WTF is 'hope ur kping well' supposed to mean?  It sounds like something you would shriek at a deaf maiden aunt, rather than the loving and intimate discourse between two people separated by several thousand  miles.

Later that evening the phone rings.  Some garbled roaring emanates from the handset.  TS rolls his eyes and chucks it at me sighing "it's dad" and resumes his in-depth analysis of re-runs of the Cricket World Cup final blaring from the TV (for which read a glassy-eyed expression and a bit of drool appearing at the corner of his mouth whilst his right hand paws feebly at a laptop).

I take the handset.  "Hello?"  There is some crackling and echoing and a noise that sounds like the McLaren wind tunnel going full pelt.
"Gwaouihsdouenaoidlcv" says the handset.
"Can't hear you!" I chirrup to hide my mounting irritation, for I know what the next word will be.
"fratopdlenmwes SKYPE" bellows the Shah.
"I can't remember my Skype id" I sigh.
"Feckbolloxshite adollaraminutefromthehotel" bawls the voice on the other end.
"Ah, that's better!  Stand still and I'll be able to hear you perfectly."

We manage quite well until the Shah begins to gesticulate wildly during a description of his helicopter ride through the Grand Canyon at sunset, causing the signal to falter again, at which I begin to zone out a bit as I look out of the window at the rainy, grey windswept garden.  He moves on, cracklingly, to an account of the Cirque du Soleil which was laid on for their entertainment after the opening day of the Conference.  I realise Corrie will be starting soon.

You can go off people.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

The Prodigal Son

So far, so much as expected for Mother's Day.  My beautiful daughter's card is handmade, colourful and full of writing inside telling me how much she loves me and treasures our relationship.  It is quite the lovliest thing and made me well up.

My beautiful son's card is, ahem, somewhat different.  It is very pretty and looks like this...

Inside, it says "To wish you a happy Mother's Day and let you know just how special you are".  Aaah, how lovely, I hear you sigh, your eyes misting over.

Unfortunately, he has underlined the word "special" and written 'lol' beside it.

The inscription reads 'mum - sorry about the faggoty card but the other choices were even worse xx'

Made me laugh out loud!  Wouldn't it be boring if they were all the same?

Friday, 1 April 2011

Peace, perfect peace

In my house tonight, the only sounds are low purring and the crackle of a log fire.  Yes.  I don't care how warm it is, I will have a log fire with the windows open if necessary.

There is no TV, no music, no burping or farting, no bickering or fighting, no catcalling or grumbling.  No bleeping of mobile phones or computers.  It's bliss.  The reasons for this are:-
  • TD has gone for a sleepover with her two best girlfriends. I have to pick her up at 8.30 tomorrow to go shopping for a prom dress *gulp*
  • TS has mooched off to the pub with his mate from Argentina.
  • The Shah departed for Las Vegas this morning for a conference.
Yup, you read that last point correctly.  The Shah has gone to Las Vegas for a conference.  I have to say that, as euphemisms go, that is a pretty good one, even by his standards.  Unfortunately, my job being akin to the ninth circle of hell at the moment, it didn't occur to me to ask why he had to depart on a Friday morning for a conference that begins on Monday, until last night.  I won't bore you with his answer, mainly because it was so woolly and unconvincing that I have already forgotten it.

And - how sad is this - he asked if he could bring us anything back.  TS requested an ipad2 - cue hollow laughter from his parents.  TS rattled off a long list of MAC makeup which is apparently much cheaper in the US.  All I could think of?  Ziploc bags.  Feckin' ZIPLOC BAGS. 

What is the matter with me? 
(That was a rhetorical question, by the way).  Oh, and I know the TV is on in the photo but it's an old photo.