Wednesday, 25 November 2009

A Tale of Two Kitties....

We are a cat loving family. Every so often, our daughter develops a yearning for a dog, whereupon I wait for a rainy day and suggest she goes out for a lovely long walk in the woods. Naturally, this suggestion is looked upon as evidence of advanced senility on my part (actually pretty much anything I say is looked upon that way, but that's another posting.) This is the point at which I remind her that dogs need walking, every single day two or three times, whatever the weather. Bye- bye Fido and bloody good riddance. So, we stick with nice, independent felines. Okay - they occasionally catch a few little mice but at least we don't have to spend hours scooping turds out of the garden, so I reckon it's a trade off I can manage.

Our cats are called Paddy and Jim - that's Paddy top left. A shot which captures all his congenital stupidity quite nicely, I think. Somehow, Pads has become an ace hunter and we went through a nasty patch recently when he worked his way through the contents of a local rat nest, bringing the offspring into the house in various stages of dismemberment. It's alarming to realise, on your way back from the loo, first thing in the morning, that you have somehow stepped over a headless rodent corpse, laid out lovingly on the carpet at the end of the bed.

Anyway, I digress. Let us go back a couple of nights. I was utterly knackered, so retired to bed “early” (by which I mean around 10.30) hardly early but it was as soon as I could escape the clutches of the family. I was just snuggling down to a wonderful, dreamy sleep when I became aware of what I shall politely call a rumpus downstairs. There was shrieking, banging, and language most foul. Most of the language seemed to be emanating from the rosebud lips of the Shah who appeared to be uttering “YOU FECKIN' CAT” swiftly followed by “GET OUT OF HERE, YOU B*ST*RD” at several thousand decibels. The shrieking noises could be traced to two sources, viz Teenage Daughter (laughter) and Teenage Son (hysteria). Thumping footsteps drew nearer and the TS (all 6 foot of big beardy boy) threw himself on my bed squealing like a girl. I patted him on the arm and tenderly enquired as to his welfare. “What’s up with you, you big poof?” I murmured in a loving, maternal way. “There’s a RAT downstairs,” babbled he. “Go and ask Dad if he needs me to come down,” I soothed. TS trots obediently off downstairs. I hear the Shah’s response quite clearly through several inches of solid brickwork. “DON’T YOU DARE DISTURB YOUR MOTHER – YOU KNOW HOW TIRED SHE IS.” Hmm – mission accomplished, Shah.

So I tiptoe downstairs to find TD sitting on the dining table, laughing hysterically whilst trying to do some Maths homework, the Shah brandishing a broom and the TS waving a mop about in a limp wristed manner. All the furniture in the sitting room is out of place. Paddy (the donor of the rodent)having chomped all the offspring, has now brought Mum or Dad home to visit but has lost interest and curled up in a handy basket, attempting to go to sleep. This action (or lack of it) seems to have enraged the Shah even more than actually bringing the rat into the house. Rattus Giganticus is currently resident behind the tv. Paddy looks bored. I climb on a chair ('cos it seems the sensible thing to do) and not a minute too soon as the rat makes a sudden break for freedom and shoots out from under the telly and onto the Shah’s foot. The Shah commences a highly impressive St Vitus’ dance as a result which reduces the entire family to weeping hysterics. Bear in mind that all the while, he is keeping up a running commentary, consisting mainly of words that begin with the letter F...

The Shah and Rattus dance an impressive Paso DoblĂ© (sp?) which results in Rattus G. leaping up onto the sofa and careering over the top of it while the TS attempts to mop it up somehow. It then dashes under the dining table while TD and I scream like the girls we are. Into the family room and behind the computer. TS kindly informs TD that it is “crapping itself with fear – all over your homework” Paddy strolls after it looking mildly quizzical. Rattus squeals unpleasantly. Paddy becomes a little more animated and makes a half hearted attempt to pick Rattus up in his jaws. Succeeds. Is overcome by lassitude and opens jaws. Ding Ding! Seconds out - Round Two.

This entire flipping drama consumed over an hour and a half. 90 minutes of my life that I will never get back again. 90 minutes of sleep that I could badly do with. Eventually, Rattus made a break for the back door, whereupon both cats sprang to life and roared after it.

And the consequence was:-

TD never finished her homework.
I got no sleep
TS exercised his rodent phobia
The Shah is considering auditioning for Strictly.

Saturday, 21 November 2009


It's that time of life - we are in possession of a teenager who will be Uni-bound next October. Consequently, we are in the process of viewing various educational institutions – the Shah and I are dead keen and the Teenage son is somewhat less so. The weekend in question, we are heading off to the south coast. TS is unwilling, surly and hungover. The first off-putter was the communication from the Uni in question which stated in aggressive capitals that THERE IS NO PARKING ON CAMPUS. This means that we have to drive to a station several miles away where we know we can park, and dump the car there. It’s then two trains to our destination. Arrive at the station for the Uni. Traipse through the underpass from the station. Look for the massed hordes of helpers/students/lecturers/anyone that we met at Reading the week before. (BTW Top marks Reading Uni – fantastic Open Day – brilliantly organised). It’s like the Marie Celeste. There’s a great deal of red brick in evidence. Have to quell the urge to turn round and get on the next train back. TS voices my thoughts by asking “can we go?” before we have so much as set foot inside a building. The Shah is meanwhile irritating the life out of me because his enormous hangover (acquired on a massive drinking binge on Friday night with his friend Adrian and which meant that I had to go out at 10.30pm to collect TD from her friend’s house while he snored on the sofa) has led to a total memory wipe-out and I am having to repeat every conversation we have had for the past week and reiterate every social arrangement from now until Christmas. It’s one of those house-hunting moments – you know, when you go through the front door of a house and within 10 seconds you know you’re never going to buy it in a million years, yet you feel that, just for the sake of good manners, you have to go through with the charade of pretending to look interested for the minimum time possible....ho hum. So, we attend a History lecture which is actually v.g. Thence to Politics lecture in theatre that is at 100°C before it even fills with people. Politics lecturer lurves the sound of his own voice and quacks on for 50 soul-destroying minutes during which the Shah does his best (and most attractive) impression of the Trevi fountain in sweat.

By now, we have all lost the will to live in a big way, but can’t leave because a) we are in the middle of a row* and b) we are near the front and the exit is at the back, so it would be more obvious than an obvious thing – the educational equivalent of shrieking “Nul pwa” in a bad French accent. Eventually we manage to break out, along with several hundred other sweaty souls, head for the station and home sweet home. Somehow, I don’t think we’re going to be Brighton-bound.

*That's a row of seats, not a full-blown Domestic although, with us, either could be possible.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

All things to all men

Teenage son comes slouching home from a hockey match.
"Did you win?" we ask
"Nah" comes the reply, "we got rinsed"
"Oh well never mind."
"I scored though,"
"And I got Man of the Match!"
"Yay! Well done"
"And Dick of the Day"
"Oh, er great..."
"Oh, and I got sent off too..."

Monday, 16 November 2009

The sad news...

...of Edward Woodward's death has just broken.  I well remember my mum and her friends swooning over Callan in the 60s and 70s.  He was a fine actor and the subject of one of my favourite jokes.  I hope he wouldn't mind my repeating it here.
Q:  Why does Edward Woodward have so many 'd's in his name?
A:  Because if he didn't, he'd be called Ewar Woowar.
Rest in peace, Ewar Woowar.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

And the Benefit is ...

Popped into Boots today to buy some vitamins in a futile attempt to compensate for the Shah's life of excess. Now, you know those women you occasionally see in Department stores at the beauty counter, sitting awkwardly on a spindly-legged stool, being "made over" by a spindly-legged assistant? Don't know about you, but I always have a secret snigger at their fate - being painted up in front of the whole world and unkind individuals like yours truly.

Well, there am I, perusing the £3.75 Lip Glosses in the 17 section (17? I wish) when I am approached by a young lady who looks me up and down and, with a somewhat strident South African accent, asks me if I know about Benefits.

"Have you never heard of bag lady chic?" I reply indignantly. "And anyway, the Shah works extremely hard to keep me in £3.75 Lip Glosses and would not dream of drawing supplements from the State." The South African one laughs uncertainly and explains that Benefit is actually a superior brand of maquillage and would I like to spend '5 minutes' (oh yeah) perusing some of it? Without waiting for an answer, she grabs me firmly by the arm and leads me to - horror of horrors - a spindly-legged throne, indicating that I am expected to perch on top of it.

By now, ashamed of my gaffe, I feel honour-bound to hop on. There follows a lecture on the many and varied (and, according to the SA one, uniformly wonderful) products that Benefit has to offer. The skin balm is dabbed on with a little sponge and I am invited to inspect the effect in a worryingly large mirror. Have to admit that it is pretty good and am thus lulled into false sense of beauty. Next, comes a little pot of strident pink cream. Recoil in horror. SA laughs a special tinkly laugh and tells me that "this is what a very well known celebrity uses all the time for that dewy look". Am about to reply that if I wanted to look like a horse-faced midget, I probably would have done something about it by now, but bite lip. Cream is smeared, sorry - smudged - over chops and out comes that mirror again. Some florid old bint gazes back at me. Begin to feel urge to self-harm.

"Now how about a little lemonade?" shrieks SA. I croak my gratitude through desiccated lips. "Ha ha," she tinkles - "No - this is a type of eye shadow - it's really good for eyes that go a bit red.  LIKE YOURS." I begin to wonder if someone who hates me very much is paying this woman. More smudging takes place. Out comes that mirror. It's a miracle! Florid bint is transformed! Into rubescent Panda. Am in despair. Fully expect battalion of friends to march past, with 'eyes right' any minute.

I begin to look at my watch and adopt "oh shit, is that the time, I've got to go" type body language. Am ignored. Finally, SA produces small palette with a flourish. "Do you do much with your eyebrows?" she trills. "Um, no, not really," I stammer. "I thought not," is the stern reply. After much painting, the famous mirror reappears one last time. Hold breath. Look in it. The Bastard love child of Danny La Rue and Bet Lynch leers back at me. "Oh great," I murmur, weakly, "that's really lovely," whilst looking around for pins to stick in my eyes.

Weakly accept half a dozen "recommended" products (average price £20 apiece) and place them in basket. Slide away, muttering about further shopping to do and cravenly secret them on shelves dotted around store. Keep two most favoured products. Go to till. Expected outlay of £6 for vitamins is suddenly transformed into expenditure of £61.

How do I explain this to the Shah?