Friday, 28 November 2008

An Award!

How extremely excited I am today. An award! Haven't won anything since I won a packet of Jelly at the Over 60's Club in Great Tey, Essex in 1968.
A massive thank you to Hadriana AND to Exmoorjane who have both given me the same award. How enormously kind of you. Am thrilled to bits.
Have spent some time being unsuccessful in getting the award onto my blog.
Cut, paste.
Copy, paste.
Copy, cut, paste.
Copy award onto document. Paste onto Post. Nope.
Cut award onto document. Paste onto Post. Nope.
Cut and copy award onto document. Copy onto Post. Nope.
Paste onto copy and cut on the post. Nope.
Taste and sloppy and piste on the post. Pope.
So, as thrilled as I am to have award, am now Confused and Fed Up. So am going to get up and leave computer as have Very Little Patience left.
Will go shopping. And will hope that some Angel of Blog will come to my aid and tell me, in words of one syllable, how a Blogger of Very Little Brain like me can collect my Award. And I will thank that Angel profusely. And at length.
Right. Going. Have to buy string, flute music book for daughter, and three birthday presents for children's friends. Oh, and tabasco sauce. Ours has disappeared. Vamooshed. Along with the DVD of The Holiday. Do you think they went off together?
See you later.


Tuesday, 25 November 2008


At Mass this Sunday we crept in late (girls night, just got back) and sat on the crap seats at the back. They are crap because one's back becomes unbearably hot due to radiator right behind the seat, and one person at the end of the bench has to sit with head constantly bowed (looking very holy) because, inexplicably, there is a lectern stowed there, forcing the devoted one to lean forward 45 degrees in a prayerful pose.
We settled down to the usual quiet cacophony of 'Shhh.'
'Will you be quiet and sit down.'
'Take your coat off if you are hot.'
'Leave your coat on if you're cold.'
All spoken with skill and dexterity of experienced ventriloquist; through side of mouth, with sharp expulsion of air, and minimum of sound. I am a master, or rather, mistress of this skill.
Kick off with a Resounding Hymn. My husband sang Very Loudly. He didn't really know the tune, but had a really good go.
We stood, sat, knelt, and did all the right things. Only a limited amount of Bottom Scratching (why do boys need to have a good scratch in public?) and Persistent Whispering going on.
Then it was time for the sermon. We settled ourselves down. Children swinging legs and picking noses. Their own. My daughter and I noticed an utterly sweet little girl, a couple of rows ahead, asleep on her father's lap.
'That is so sweet,' whispered my daughter.
'You were like that' I tell her. She looks at me and you can see her thinking.
'Oh,' she says. And does that little shrug she does when she's pleased.
We sit and listen.
Two rows down, where the little girl is asleep, the father slowly gets up, turns around and grins maniacally at all of us. We grin back. Not really getting the joke. He lifts the little girl high into his arms, and does the 'Excuse me, sorry, so sorry,' thing all down his row. We all look. He gets to the end and starts up towards us, still with the rictus grin. We all grin back, our facial muscles starting to ache.
Then we see it.
His entire left trouser leg is soaking wet. And steaming.
He staggers past us with little girl slowly waking up. With his grin still plastered to his face, now red with exertion and embarrassment, he sidles past us and out of the door. I try to show him my total support and sympathy in my returning smile. I hope I didn't look horribly scary, like Matron in Carry on Nursing. You know, all pursued lips and mascara.
We looked at the door from time to time as we heard signs of a cleaning up process going on outside.
'Look darling, let Daddy wipe his leg.'
'Yes, we will change your pants but Daddy needs to make his trousers less wet.'
It was fascinating. Just a little more fascinating than... golly, what was the sermon about?
Back came Daddy. We all craned our neck to see what he would be wearing.
The same. But just a little less steamy.
A huge, Europe shaped gash of damp all over his left leg. It had even seeped round the back. Child with bare legs and clean pants. We know because she didn't like the colour. We heard through the door.
He grinned some more. We grinned back.
Down the row he went. Sorry, Excuse me, so sorry. And sat down.
And cuddled his little daughter close.
What a hero.
I love being a parent now. Because you get men like that. Totally there for their children and totally up for all the embarrassment that goes with parenthood.
Just like my husband.
My Hero.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Girls Night Out

Had a ball on Saturday Night. Went out with the girls. Drank champagne. Drank cheap red wine. Went to a Thai restaurant and laughed too loudly. Drank more champagne. Went back to my friend's house with two other friends. Laughed too loudly. Went to bed. Shared the room with my darling friend A. We chatted for hours. Laughed too loudly.
In the morning we all made scrambled eggs and smoked salmon with bagels and ate it together on a huge bed. In our dressing gowns. Bliss.
We laughed and laughed. Too loudly.
My girl friends. These are friends who know my history ( yes, they know I was sick in a bag and it wasn't a sick one). Friends who have held my hand during heartbreak, child birth and the Chippendales. Friends who only have to glance up and smile and I know they have got the joke. Friends who Know Me.
You know, I really love my husband. I really love my children. They are my life. But how I love to be with those friends who make me laugh like a drain, eat like a horse, and, on occasion, drink like a fish.
I am always knackered after a girls night. Need to get home and rest. Need to clock in to my family and restore myself. Need to be back.
But, oh, the silliness of the jokes and the easy nonsense of our conversations. Knowing and being known.
They are the third side of the triangle for me... family, friends... and Girl Friends.
Thank you, my friends. You know who you are.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Shopping with Mother

This is what it should look like. Bright eyed children, gazing at produce. Mother with her shopping gloves on. Small basket over her slim arm. A perky little coat with twin set and pearls.
'Nearly done!' Mother would say. 'I just need some meat for Father's dinner.' And off they'd troop into the friendly butcher's, to get a lamb chop for Father.
Mother's basket, with just three or four items in it, would easily take the lamb chop, neatly tucked into a brown paper bag.
Home again. The shopping a joyful trip, with kind grownups and clean streets.
Right. So back to now.
Three tired children. And me. Bloody freezing. Cross adults everywhere. Youngest child doing that...'Mummy, I need a cuddle.'
You must be bloody joking. I am carrying fifteen carrier bags. Yes. Plastic bloody carrier bags. Forgot Organic Rustic Saintly Recyclable Use Them Again And Again bags. They are sitting on my kitchen table, along with my sense of humour. Another child needs the loo. The other wants to buy a totally unsuitable game for horrid little console. Comes up with reasons to buy said game.
'It's cheaper if you buy it today. ' (Why?)
'My friends have it.' ...And?
Daughter is freezing as she has come out without coat.
(Before we leave... has everyone got their coats? 'Yyeessss, Muuummmmyyy.')
Lugging carrier bags up hill and dragging youngest by arm, am plagued with guilt of not making this outing 'nice' enough.
Plan to get home ASAP and plug children into telly while I put the kettle on and sink a couple of mugs before getting tea.
Have to collate huge pile of toys by the front door, all bagged up ready for 'Christmas Fayre' tomorrow. (Mothers have dragged enormous black bin liners crammed full of toys, and left. Smiles on their faces as they realise how much space they will have now. Until the Christmas Fayre, when their children will buy enough crap to fill said bags twice over.) Must make labels for each toy and have Bright and Cheery notices telling every one we are a Toy Stall. Bit bloody obvious, isn't it?
But... will then make lovely tea for children and they can have it in front of fire in sitting room. Crumpets. Cake. Ooh, chocolate brownies made for Christmas Fayre... will they miss a couple?
I cheer up.
'Come on, darlings,' I say, 'cheerfully'.
Stunned, they look at me. Where is Bolshy Mummy gone? Daughter smiles up at me.
'I love you, Mummy,' she says, grinning her heart wrenching smile.
'Love you too, darling,' I tell her.
And hugging my ten bags (eldest two offer to take some) I turn us round and walk us towards the car.
Extraordinary how the thought of tea and fire can cheer.
Home we go.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Not a Good Day

We had a horrid day yesterday.
Doris, one of our chickens, got totally shagged by Cocky Bastard, our new cockerel. He left her, half dead, on the cold, wet grass and then carried on eating last night's leftovers right next to her.
I went out after breakfast to feed the 'girls' as we call our chickens. My children were reluctant to come with me as they were getting a tad frightened of Cocky Bastard as he can be quite fierce. (Poor girl feeding chickens while we were away leaned over to put food into chicken house, and Cocky Bastard jumped on her back and PECKED HER HEAD).
Out I went, whistling quietly to myself, treading over the large amounts of sheep poo (see last post) when suddenly I saw poor old Doris lying on her side. I threw myself through the door of the chicken run and rushed over to where she was lying on her side, looking thoroughly dead. When I picked her up I realised immediately that she was still alive. Just. I took her in, and with the help of my middle son, we made her as comfortable as we could in the utility room.
Out I marched into the garden again to see what the hell I could do with Cocky Bastard. I was Very Cross. And, indeed, very sad. I look after those chickens day in and day out. We all do. And in return, they give us their lovely brown eggs and make such comforting noises, rather like old ladies in a jumble sale. (Any one who has chickens will get this. Anyone who doesn't will probably stop reading
My husband, at a children's party (10.30 on a Sunday morning, I ask you) was still not back.
We kept watch over Doris for the rest of the morning but she wasn't looking good at all. When my husband got home I dragged him to Doris' sick room and made him examine her. I needed to know if we should put her out of her misery. To my relief, he reckoned we should keep her warm and see what happened. I left him with a straw, trying to get some water into her beak. Successfully!
Well, then it all got horrible. Husband and I both agreed that Cocky Bastard was not only a menace, but potentially quite dangerous. Our youngest son is barely taller than Cocky, and it would have been awful to have him pecked in the face or eyes.
And so we Disposed of him. Cocky Bastard. Horrible, horrible, horrible. Felt simply Hitler-like but could not risk him either killing other hens, or hurting small children. My children were really upset too. We had to try to explain it but death is so very final and so very grim.
And then, after lunch, we went back into the utility room to see that Doris had died.
There was a full blown burial service, with my husband leading the prayers. I have to say that even though I was Most Aggrieved, I did get the giggles when he said, 'Dear Lord, please welcome Doris into your heavenly kingdom...' I struggled with the hysteria and managed to look quite solemn.
Now it is the next day. I told people at my pre-school this morning but they didn't really get it. Why should they? Not many of us go round disposing of chickens. So this afternoon I needed to get it off my chest and into Blogland. Hope you guys will still drop by even though there is a chicken killer on the loose.
And guess where my son is being taken to this evening for a friend's birthday treat...? Bloody KFC, that's where. Talk about rubbing my face in it.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Sheep in garden

Catchy title,eh? Problem is that its true. The school at the end of my drive (incidently my children's primary school... brilliant for commuting, hell for lending milk, bread, suitcases - dont ask) rang me yesterday at 2.29pm, just as I was about to have a well earned lunch, having tidied the kitchen.
'Mrs G?' asked the very polite tones of teacher/friend Mrs H.
'Mrs H?' I answered.
'There appears to be some sheep in your garden.'
In case you were wondering, my garden is visible from the school office.
'Oh,' I said.
This has happened before. I am quite used to sheep in my garden.
With some resignation I put on my boots and went to see the damage. Mrs H was right. There were sheep in my garden. About twenty five of them. They looked so sweet in the afternoon sun, snatching away at my lawn, shitting and wee'ing in that purposeful way they have. Got to be purposeful about something, I suppose, if you are a sheep. Not much else to do.
One hour later, I had located and rang the owner of the sheep. I had built a wall of bikes, prams, sandpits (portable) and bits of wood to keep the sheep in the garden round the back of the house. There was a slide, put sideways, to block another way out through a gap in a hedge. I had artfully placed a huge piece of metal (bloody heavy) across another potential exit, and was having a congratulatory cup of tea, when I saw 25 sheep heading up the drive.
'Christ,' I thought. Not more sheep.
No. Not more. The same. Escaped. Bloody Houdinis, the lot of them.
Ran like a mad woman, waving arms and legs, shooshing them back down drive. Through the exit from whence they had escaped. Put detritus back to cover hole.
Went back to finish tea.
Not long after a man with dog arrived to take said sheep away. I took him round to the back of the house to get the sheep. Empty. Gone. Vamooshed.
'Bollocks,' I said. A faint Baaaa was heard. We both ran round the back of the house, leaped over the slide, put sideways, to block that exit,(remember?) and stood panting in the sun. There were the sheep, all in a neat woolly row, big rumps facing us, carefully eating their way through my juniper hedge.
'Sorry 'bout that,' said the man.
'Woof,' said the dog.
'No problem,' said I.
He whistled to his dog, who immediately barked and started to crawl towards the sheep like Daniel Craig in Quantom of Solace. Haven't seen it yet but surely he must do it somewhere in the film. Spies always do, don't they?
The sheep, instantly alerted, opened their mouths and baa'ed their heads off, at the same time as haring it off down my drive. Hopefully for the last time. The man tipped his hat (honest, I am not making this up) and left. The sheep were nowhere to be seen. Or the dog. Man sauntered down my drive, turned the corner and was gone.
'Well,' I thought.
And they say country life is dull.
Could have fooled me.
Texted my friend and told her about 25 sheep in garden.
She texted back. 'Most people count sheep when they are asleep.'
Ah, that's it, then.
It was a dream. Thank god for that.
But how does that explain the photograph?

Monday, 10 November 2008


It's happened. I knew that it would. Hell and damnation.
My husband suddenly, out of the blue, likes Sudoku.
You see, I like Sudoku. And as any half intelligent being will tell you, only ONE PERSON CAN LIKE SUDOKU PER HOUSEHOLD.
For the last few years, since the VERY FIRST SUDOKU in the Times, I have been doing it. I have spent hours and hours pouring over the Fiendish on the last page of a popular broadsheet, (now conveniently sudoku sized).
Give me a Fiendish, or now the Super Fiendish, and I am a happy girl. Nice hot fire, drink in hand and a good sharp pencil (not HB. More like 2B).
My parents have a good ploy. They are both Sudoku mad. They photocopy (!) the sudoku page each morning and then they both have a lovely time doing it at their own pace. They have sharpened pencils at the ready. I tell you, it's a way of life. Both are happy. Both are content. It works.
Now, one of the biggest crimes anyone can commit in this house is to
Do The Sudoku When They Didn't Buy The Paper In The First Place.
There is nothing worse than arriving in the sitting room, fire all warm and glowy, children all in bed, supper sizzling nicely, than to find said sudoku Done. Not good. What is just as bad is to find Husband sitting by fire with said sudoku, Filling It In.
This has now happened not once, not twice but three times. I am not a Happy Bunny.
I am going to have to hide the paper. I refuse to give in and buy an awful little book full of sudoku puzzles. They are just not the same. They are Not Good. The only suduku for me is the one on the back of my broadsheet.
So, darling husband, here's the thing... you do my sudoku and I will go into your greenhouse and EAT ALL YOUR TOMATOES.
There. That should do it.
Now, where is my pencil?

Thursday, 6 November 2008

You're It!

You've been tagged... it said. Oh, I thought. What the hell is that? Is it the Blog Police? Will I go to Blog Prison? Or do I win a Blog Raffle?
None of these! Phew.
Instead just have to write down some random things about myself.
Six things, I think.
So, here goes...

When I was twenty eight I was in a relationship that was 'not good'. It really needed to be ended, but I couldn't do it. While in this quandry I realised that I was pregnant. I went through pregnancy howling with sadness most days and unable to see any wood for the trees at all, as the trees crowded out any sanity I might have had.
On 2nd June 1989, my darling son was born. From the very moment I saw him, all wrapped up in his little blanket, I just knew who he was and, finally, who I was. We grew together, my son and I. We did it alone. And then one day my husband came into my life. Now we do it together. And it's grand.

When I was little I longed to be married, with 4 children, lots of chickens, and a couple of cats. Now I am a grown up, and am married with 4 children, lots of chickens and a couple of cats. How cool is that?!

About twenty years ago I taught a little girl who had a terminal illness. I loved her to bits. She would come up to me in the classroom (she was eight years old) and ask me if I loved her more than the other children in the class. What could I say? Yes, of course. She died at the end of that school year. I think of her a lot. And in my little box of treasures, I have just one of the many pictures she drew for me, with 'I love you, love Annie,' written inside a big red heart.
I love you too, Annie.

I was proposed to once by an ex-boyfriend. He filled his bedroom with flowers and had little notes everywhere with references to marriage and weddings and all. I got very confused with all the notes and the flowers, especially as we had split up. Finally I got to the last note.
Marry Me, it said.
There he was, face all lit up with happy expectation... I heard the biggest NO inside my head. And what did I say?
'Oh, well, that sounds lovely...' In typical fashion, I didn't want to break his heart, and so thought I would make it easier by not saying no immediately.
Needless to say I broke his heart slowly instead.

I can play the piano. I had a go at Grade 8 but A' levels got in the way and I stopped the exams and just played for the hell of it. Every school I have taught at think I am better than I really am, and I am clobbered with teaching music, playing in assemblies, and generally doing stuff I am not quite good enough to do. But I struggle on, and get away with it because I LOVE music and LOVE the way children get music.

I was once sick into a lady's hand bag on a plane. I never told her.

I was once sick on my friend while on one of those teapot swirly things at a fair. We are still friends.

I love taking photos. I spend ages lining up a photo, getting it absolutely right, taking it, and then printing it out and having it stuck up on one of my kitchen cupboards. Everyone who comes to my house goes from cupboard door to cupboard door looking at them all.

I was once madly in love with a ski instructor. He was from Vienna. I was twenty. On our skiing holiday I would dream about him when not in one of his lessons, and blush madly when I was.
Then, last winter when I went skiing with my darling parents (my father still skis and is 81 - he is my hero) I saw my old skiing instructor, in the same shop as me. I smiled at him and said hello. He said hello back, and I explained that he had taught me years ago. He was sweet. And just a little boring. We shook hands and said goodbye. And I very quietly and gladly laid another ghost to rest.

That's it. Me in a nutshell. Equal proportions of heavy and light. More than 6. Got carried away with different vomit stories.
Will have to think about who to tag. Do I have enough Blog friends to do this, I ask myself. Blogger No Mates. Thats me.


Oh. My. God. Yesterday it really happened. What we have been waiting for. For one year, two months and two days.
Our Ofsted Inspection.
Slap me vitals, as they used to say, inexplicably, a few hundred years ago.
There was me, fresh back from Spain, have I put the washing on, are my children in clean underpants, goddamit, this sports bra is hell to wear but the only clean one I have... when out of the blue (actually not blue. Blue is the colour of the sea as we sat and sipped our ice cold beers and watched our children play, blue is the colour of the sky, blue was the colour of my daughter's laughing eyes as she came up for a hug. THAT was blue) came a text from my friend/colleague already at work to say OFSTED ARE HERE! WHERE ARE YOU?
In my car, on the way. That's where I was. Thinking of washing.
So down went my foot on the accelerator and I rocketed along the road, all thoughts of holidays and washing ripped from my thoughts.
All I could now think of was
Got there. Ran like a stag to our Pre-school building and fell through door.
Kind, sweet woman (fifties) standing there with her briefcase looking terrified.
The Inspector.
Crikey, I thought, looks like a Sweet Shop lady.
I shook her warmly by the hand and told her how glad I was to see her and how long we had waited for Ofsted to come. She looked surprised and pleased in equal measure.
We had a wonderful day. The children were as lovely as they always are. The staff worked their socks off. They always do. Another safe, loving, warm, fun morning for every single one of us. Our Sweet Shop inspector turned out to be shit hot and firing on all four cylinders. Just goes to show that looks aint everything.
Midday came. The parents arrived to pick up their children.
The inspector went off to write up her findings. We sat around, waiting for her
to return with her Judgements. Rather God-like.
All of us pretending to be relaxed and happy. All of us shitting our pants. It felt like a lifetime. It was half an hour. Then we saw her walking back across the playground. We quickly whipped away the chocolate box we had opened while we waited (I had 12) and cleared all the wrappings off the table. And tried to look normal and professional.
She loved us! She talked about us in such warm and positive language that we felt a bit overcome. We didn't get the top top level. But near as dammit. What mattered is that someone in the know came to see us, and really 'got' what we try to do, which is be a place where children can play and learn, where they are safe and loved. Full bloody stop!
And she got that.
So today we are all beaming.
Now, what shall I do today? For the last year, two months, and two days I have been preparing for Ofsted. Now what?
Important things first. Finish those chocolates. And take this bloody awful sports bra off and put on my nice comfortable one.
And then... the world is my oyster.
I know... I. Shall. Blog.
This is the life!