Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Catch up...

So chums, what to tell you?  It has been a busy old time at Crap Cottage so I thought I would offer you a little vignette of the past 10 or so days - the (paltry) highs and the (plentiful) lows.

Let us begin with matters Fran├žais.  

Or should that be Fran├žaise?  Yes, we have had our French Exchange girl to stay for a week.  She was absolutely delightful and very easy to have around but gawd is it hard work having someone else to think about for a whole week?  I mean someone whom you cannot routinely and affectionately hurl abuse at in the way you do with your own husband/kids.  To have to think about providing proper meals at regular heures....meh. the girls were very different.  The visitor was only 16, but had a 20 year old boyfriend which left our daughter agape.  She seemed not to be a party girl but spent hours every evening Skypeing her boyfriend and family.  Happily though, and much like Trish at Mum's Gone To ... when her son entertained "a Frenchie", the entente was pretty cordiale.  One of the other girls on the Exchange who was also 16 apparently had a 25 year old boyfriend which led to me overhearing my daughter saying earnestly, "If I wanted to go out with a 25 year old, my mum would go ballistic!"  How well she knows me.  Maybe this is a cultural thing?  My daughter and her friends viewed it as "practically child abuse" - perhaps my mate Madame Wylye Girl can help explain?

Having one extra was not that hard if I'm to be honest as the house is like a feckin' traveller camp at the best of times with sundry teenagers coming and going at all hours.  When we bought Crap Cottage, one of the overriding factors in choosing it was its central location and proximity to public transport for the kids.  What we didn't factor in was that it is just as central for every other bugger's kids as well.  Nowadays, the Shah and I have just given up and he has learned not to blench as scantily-clad 17 year old girls stroll through the kitchen, casually raiding the fridge as they go, making cups of tea and leaving a trail of tiny scraps of lace underwear, vertiginous heels and makeup wipes all over the house.

In other news, work is reaching the end-of-term crescendo.  You can tell that people are becoming slightly hysterical as we hurtle towards the apocalypse that is the End of Term Assembly.  Here are two examples:  this first one was found pinned to the staff room noticeboard...

For our second example, I offer you the coffee mug I very, very nearly gave to a candidate who had come for interview for a very senior position...

Wouldn't have minded but he looked like the back end of a bus.

Meanwhile in the great outdoors, the Shah has been minded to survey his estate in this good weather and to clear the vegetable patch in the process.  Last Autumn, I planted a whole packet of carrot seeds hoping that they would over-winter nicely and we would have a decent crop come the Spring.  Here is Mother Nature's bounty - photographed with an apple next to them to provide a sense of scale (i.e. paltry)
As the Shah came in, brandishing the fruits of his labours, he met his son who eyed the pathetic, weedy offerings and said "D'you know what Dad?  It's a good job you're not a subsistence farmer in Ethiopia - the whole family would have bloody starved by now."  He may have a point.

Toodle pip!

Sunday, 18 March 2012

The difference between boys and girls...

And here, Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a neat illustration of the difference between boys and girls, courtesy of Mother's Day.

Here is my daughter's card.
It is hand-made and there is a beautiful, loving message inside.

Compare and contrast with this TOWIE-like* offering from number 1 son...

And here is the message inside it...

I'm afraid I've super-sized it so that you can read the scrawl.  I'm hoping to shame him into producing something better next year.

Oink oink, flap flap...

*For my non-Brit readers, TOWIE stands for 'The Only Way is Essex' which is a "dramality" show - pretty much the equivalent of Jersey Shores or The Hills and no, I have never seen a single episode of any of them...and I'm proud of it!

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Erotica cream and other stories

That got your attention eh?!  I assure you, dear readers, that headline is not just some spurious attempt to bump up my hits (although every cloud and all that – geddit?) and there will be more of that later.

This week, I am back on the theme of the vagaries of parenthood.  There comes a time in every parent’s life when the dreaded words “Mum, can I have a party?” assault your ears.  And so it came to pass.  After endless weeks and months of nagging, and whining and “like EVERYONE else has had one,” the Shah and I were finally worn down and agreed to a Gathering* rather than a full-blown party.  This was to take the form of a belated 17th birthday celebration for our daughter and (more nagging, whining etc) numbers were set at “around 35 people”.  We weren't stupid enough to think that this would be the case, but hoped we might get away with 40...and some of them had to leave early anyway as, like all good social butterflies, they had other parties to go on to.

Now God knows the British teenager has a terrible reputation and we did not intend to see any of this:
Or this:

going on in our kitchen, so certain ground rules were laid.
  • Limited alcohol would be supplied and none of the hard stuff.
  • Certain areas of the house would be off limits
  • The Shah and I would be present but would confine ourselves to our  bedroom and would be out like rats up a drainpipe at the first sound of any breaking glass, violence or other impropriety.
  •  She was to warn the immediate neighbours – she did and they were both fine about it – even psycho woman who lives over the back.
  • Yes, some of them could stay but I wasn’t having the house turned into a knocking shop.
  •  No drugs.  At all.
We removed all our own alcohol from downstairs and stashed it in our room (slightly worrying to see just how much we have, lol).  Breakables and precious items were likewise put away.  And then it was all systems go.  We hoped we had thought of everything and lay nervously on the bed, trying to watch Graham Norton on a tiny, crappy TV that kept buzzing and had a rubbish picture whilst keeping one ear open for trouble.

The Shah unhelpfully put his earphones in while I sprang up to peer anxiously out of the window every time the doorbell went and boy, did it go.  It is fair to say that we both learned certain things from the experience. 
  • When the sounds of slurpy kissing were heard on the landing outside our door, followed by a boy’s voice saying, “hey, shall we find somewhere....?”  it turned out that a loud cough can come in very handy.  Footsteps receded downstairs rather rapidly.
  • It’s not terribly comforting when one of your daughter’s best friends sticks her head round the door to say hello and thank you and adds “I think you guys are really brave...”
  • It’s also not comforting to hear someone calling your daughter and shrieking “we need toilet roll!  NOW!”
  •  Your blood runs cold when your (slightly the worse for wear) daughter stumbles into the  bedroom at 11.30pm to announce that the Police are at the front door and would like to speak to us. 
It turns out that Psycho woman (who really is monumentally odd) had complained that there were people “singing in the garden”.  So rather than come round and knock on the door and ask us to keep in down a bit, she called the Rozzers.  We had the classic good cop/bad cop scenario – hulking, unsmiling male and warm, fuzzy female.  We registered our disgust and agreed to get everyone indoors.  And frankly, if that’s all they were doing, then I am damn grateful!

About 12.45, we called a halt and the remnants shuffled off amidst a chorus of “Thanks for having us!” – really, it was all so well-behaved it was embarrassing.  The clean up the next morning was humungous.  It’s amazing how much mess an extra 40 people tramping through your house can make.  I had to wash the kitchen floor SIX times.  Yes SIX.  After the fifth wash, the water looked like this:-

Along with the butts of a thousand fags, we also found a large number of these

dotted around the garden.   We were puzzled.  “What are they?” we asked the ragged remnants who had slept over.  “Oh, they’re for filling balloons,” they chorused – and there were plenty of flaccid balloons lying around.  And then we found the box they came in.

I'm a woman of the world.  I haven't led a particularly sheltered life.  But you know the really shocking this about this?  It was the realisation that they had actually been using the little gas capsules to blow up balloons, not to discharge whipped cream all over one another.  Teenagers of today!  I ask you....
*A Gathering is a smaller venture than a party.  But do not be fooled; there are sub-divisions to Gatherings and you can have small, medium and large.  Guess which we got lumbered with?