April According to my Phone

Much as I love my iPhone for its strokeability, the lack of an SD-card means that memory space is of a premium (especially when you’ve not got a computer to clutter with stuff instead). I’ve had to make some hard decisions this month…and have deleted Facebook from my phone! I thought it was bad enough losing Candy Crush Saga. It turned out that had nothing on Facebook.

All for the sake of random pictures that will never be looked at again once I give up on the phone. So here’s a selection of the photos I sacrificed Facebook for:

20140430-163650.jpg
The day we all chose to wear peach.

20140430-183042.jpg
Noodles was fascinated by Iggle Piggle’s tiddle In the Night Garden.

20140430-183235.jpg
Teddy felt the love at Grandma’s house.

20140430-183421.jpg
Noodles enjoyed the fountains at Granary Square in London.

20140430-183615.jpg
Den in the woods.

20140430-183838.jpg
Boo popped up on Pinterest.

20140430-184052.jpg
‘Peek-a-boo!’

20140430-184146.jpg
Frozen ruled at the Oxford Street branch of the Disney Store.

20140430-184254.jpg
I had a merry night out.

20140430-184353.jpg
Getting in and out of the bouncy castle at the Princess party was neither easy nor dignified. But it was funny to watch.

20140430-184534.jpg
Boo happily got stuck into her Easter eggs…

20140430-184641.jpg
…Mind you, she did have several to get through.

20140430-184756.jpg
We then ate more chocolate at dinner (via the medium of individual soggy-belly chocolate fudge cake).

20140430-184940.jpg
Boo and Husband fed a baby lamb.

20140430-185034.jpg
Boo and I played in the hay shed.

20140430-185249.jpg
Noodles got hold of my phone and went selfie crazy.

20140430-185412.jpg
Boo ate blue ice cream.

20140430-185619.jpg
I put a sage plant by my sink to ward off spirits (along with coriander, thyme and parsley to ward off bland dinners).

20140430-185749.jpg
The car passed its MOT…and the engine warning light is no longer permanently on!

20140430-190131.jpg
I ran for four and a half minutes without stopping to walk (or dying!) – a major achievement for me.

Hmmm. Overall, I’m not sure it was worth the loss of Facebook. I think I need a better phone. One where I don’t have to make such tough decisions.

Advertisements

Life’s (S)not Fair

April has been National Poetry Month. I’m very much not a poet. However, what follows is a poem I wrote when working as a teaching assistant and my class were working on Cautionary Tales. Having tried to encourage my little group of delinquents kids to write about their most disgusting habits, I went home inspired. It is the only poem I’ve ever written that I’ve not been totally embarrassed by. And it’s been stuck in my head for the last 11 years (apart from parts of the last verse, which I couldn’t remember at all). It’s probably for the best that I don’t write poetry more often. Lines of prose don’t have the same ability to haunt me, thankfully.

If I had a picture of the boy I caught in my class plucking the most ginormous bogey out of his nose and wiping it under the school desk I would have posted it here. But I still retch at the thought of it, so it’s probably best that it’s an image only burned onto my memory rather than a memory stick!

Aren’t kids just adorable?!

The Cautionary Tale of Englebert Rose. Or Life’s (S)not Fair.

There was a young boy called Englebert Rose
Who all day long would pick his nose.
His mum would yell ‘Bert, cut that out,
Or else you’ll find your brains fall out!’
But still that vile child carried on.
He didn’t care if brains had gone.

At school he used to scare the teacher
With mucus from his favourite feature,
And if caught hungry before lunch
On his bogeys Bert would munch.
And still that vile child carried on.
He didn’t care if brains had gone.

And then one day Bert held aloft
A piece of bogey, mushroom-soft.
A woozy feeling in his head,
It wasn’t snot – it was brains instead!
But still that vile child carried on.
He didn’t care that brains had gone.

Finally Bert could no longer think
Or speak or laugh or eat or drink.
No longer the same boy, Englebert Rose,
Yet still his finger roamed up his nose.
Yes, still that vile child carried on,
Unable to know that brains had gone.

Until that is the fateful day
When our poor Bert got carried away.
Round empty skull his finger did prod
‘Til nose-picking neurones became dislodged.
His finger – and brain chunk – slid from his head.
With that last poke young Bert was dead.

Apoplectic

I’ve tidied today. Picked up other people’s stuff as well as my own and either put it where it should be or in the bin (if that’s where it should have been). This has included toys, papers, toys, receipts, drinks bottles (left on the sofa), cereal packets, crisp packets (also left on the sofa) dirty knives, books, toys, crockery, more papers, bags, toys, clothes and toys. I’ve swept up crumbs, wiped down surfaces and washed up.

And then people came home…and dumped their crap all over the places I’d spent my day tidying.

20140429-210523.jpg

Carrier bags dumped in the hallway, coats, bags and food dumped on the sofas, crumbs and spilt soup and dirty knives strewn on the kitchen worktop, dishes placed on the side – not in the sink or draining board – the dregs of the meal not tipped away. Mugs with tea dregs in the bottom, staining the white china brown. The butter left in the wrong place.

My day’s efforts vanished – POOF! – in a cloud of Wotsits dust.

20140429-211443.jpg

Life is short, people. And yet there I am, my day disintegrated into nothing. And not because I’ve done nothing, but because nobody respects the things that I do. And yet, if I didn’t do them, people would notice then and moan. From where I’m standing it’s lose:lose.

With both children in bed, I start to tidy around the lounge (again!).

‘Don’t. I’ll put the train set away,’ Husband offers, sat on the sofa, football on TV, iPad in hand ‘…at half-time.’

If he can multi-task two media sources at the same time, why not tidying and football?

‘You relax,’ he instructs me. Instead, I know that as he’s offered to tidy away the train set that is all hell be picking up, so I return Boo’s school uniform to her room and then settle down.

The trouble with waiting for half time is that it involves sitting through football. But as there’s nothing else appealing on our limited available channels I decide to let it drop.

Half time and Husband does indeed pick up the train set. Unfortunately he packs it wrong, leaving the massive crane to last so the lid won’t shut on the hamper.

‘The lid won’t fit now,’ I point out.

‘Yeah, but I’m not going to tip stuff out to re-do it,’ he says out as he balances the lid on the top.

No, I will.

He then goes and places the hamper in front of the overflowing toy box.

‘It doesn’t belong there,’ I point out, highlighting the massive space in the alcove shelving where the box obviously lives.

He pushes the box 99% per cent of the way there. And then leaves it.

20140429-213219.jpg

And the train set was where it stopped too. He didn’t follow it up by putting Noodles’ ride-on car away, or returning the stray pirate to his ship or picking up the bottle of bubble stuff or train ticket lying on the floor. No, that’s for me to do.

When I finally keel over (quite probably from a stroke caused by another dose of apoplexy) I wonder how long it will take them to clear away my body. And whether it will actually get a proper burial, or whether I’ll just get shoved into a corner, in front of an over-flowing toy box.

Parallel Universe

20140428-172423.jpg

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but George Clooney and I got engaged this weekend. Look how happy he is. I haven’t stopped smiling either, although my left arm is starting to ache from the size of the diamond I’m now carrying it around. But still, no pain no gain.

Obviously this didn’t happen in this universe, which is why the jealousy focus is much more on Amal Alamuddin right now. But in some parallel universe many light years away (or maybe just in my head) there we are, holing up whilst the ‘world’ goes crazy and women everywhere sob into their pillows.

I know he said he would never marry again, but my acerbic wit and ability to swear like a trooper in Italian to the paparazzi won him over. Plus, there will be no interest whatsoever in anyone taking my photo in a bikini whilst I languish on the deck of his luxury yacht. Those telescopic lenses are expensive – no pap wants theirs broken by the sheer hell of the images they’re trying to photo (ie my backside) and no one wants to be put off their breakfast with grotesque pap snaps.

I’m never likely to be confused as his daughter/niece either. His carer in years to come, maybe, but I can cope with that.

Obviously this wedding business is going to require a lot of work. I mean, who wants Angelina Jolie as a maid of honour?! In going to have to become a fan of the liquid diet for the next few months (and I don’t just mean of the alcoholic variety – maybe Gwyneth can offer me advice on macrobiotic juicing, if not marriages).

Obviously in this parallel universe you, my blogging friends, are real-life bosom buddies, so you will all be invited to the wedding. We’re thinking Italy, so make sure your passports are valid. Top secret invites will be in the post/delivered by dove shortly. Please keep all details top secret, otherwise we will have to have you shot you may be involved in an accident.

Anyway, I shan’t go on…at least until Hello! ask me for further details and an exclusive photoshoot. Ah, the hardships of a Hollywood life.

(Now, I don’t suppose anyone knows the way to whatever particular parallel universe it is that I need? In the meantime I’m off for some soggy alone time with my pillow.)

Ripe to be Ripped-Off

I’m not looking forward to tomorrow. MOT day for the car. A day where an inanimate object I’m predominantly responsible for has to undergo a test. A test that I don’t understand on any single level.

For me, cars are roadworthy if they:

a) Are shiny* (on the outside – the interior usually looks more akin to a cross between dumping ground and rubbish bin. I didn’t know banana skins turned to green powder until I cleaned out the driver-side door pocket the other week. Yuk.)

* Actually, by ‘shiny’ I mean you can see out of the windows. Shiny makes a better impression though, and is surely going to dazzle a mechanic into passing the car without any further prodding, right?

b) Start when you put the key in the ignition. Getting A to B (even with the engine warning light on permanently) is sufficient in my world.

c) Aren’t driven by dicks. For some reason this isn’t covered by the MOT. A mechanic should be able to write a car off on sight of the person handing it over that morning. It’s definitely a flaw in the system.

Instead, someone is going to look at my car, find (probably expensive) fault with it and then give me a whopping bill for fixing these, until that point, undetected death-traps-waiting-to-happen…which I can’t quibble with because I don’t understand enough to know if I’m being ripped off and couldn’t fix it myself even if I was.

20140427-205343.jpg
So many options for ripping me off.

That last part is vital to my MOT misery. Even the bits I know need fixing before the test, I can’t fix.

For example, I knew the windscreen wipers needed changing. That the driver-side blade was hanging on by the merest of threads when I drove home from Manchester in February was a clue.

How hard can it be, though, to change some wiper blades. I mean, they’re on the outside. I’ve worked out how to add not only petrol, but also oil and windscreen wash and they both need me to pop the bonnet. (I can’t tell you how long it took to work out how to do that the first time I needed to though! The Krypton Factor would have been less challenging…and less messy.) Comparably, the wipers would be a doddle. Right?

Wrong.

Merrily I tripped my way to Halfords on Thursday. Because Noodles isn’t great with shopping and parking back home is a nightmare I decided to walk, with Noodles in his buggy. NOT taking the car was a mistake.

I was confronted with a plethora of wiper blades and a flip chart of options. ‘Shiny silver car’ wasn’t one of them. I was going to have to think about this.

Right, I drive a Ford. That much I know. I’m sure it’s a Focus. I flipped to the right sheet:

20140427-213702.jpg
Oh.

Too many options. I started to doubt myself on whether it was a saloon or hatchback (hatchback?) and the year (the 02 in the number plate is for 2002, isn’t it?). I couldn’t get an internet connection on my phone. I couldn’t find any staff to ask. Hell, I couldn’t even find the rear screen wipers.

Eventually I left with what I thought were the right blades. £65 lighter of pocket, Noodles grizzling in the buggy.

Now just to fit them. It didn’t bode well when I took the first blade from the packet. It was decidedly shorter than the previous one. The previous one that I couldn’t figure out how to remove.

I looked for instructions on the packet. They looked like this:

20140427-214732.jpg

Now, I was late to smartphone consumerism. I don’t know what to do when confronted with such a square. I looked instead at Bosch’s website. It looked like this:

20140427-215059.jpg
Not much help then. Even when I found the English version and a video to help I was still none the wiser.

I was going to have to ask my dad. Grandy, after all, is of the generation of men who can turn their hand to anything.

Anything, apart from fitting windscreen wiper blades. He managed to snap the first one.

‘I don’t think it’s the right size,’ he added in his defence.

And so it was that this morning, after washing and waxing the car (incase my hunch ever turns out to be right) I headed back to Halfords. Where I stood in line and waited. And went to check the flip chart again to see if I’d really messed up in a really divvy, embarrassing way. And waited some more.

Finally a man boy of about 16 asked if could help. Surely he wasn’t even old enough to drive!

Never underestimate the young. Within 30 seconds of seeing my car he’d established that I had bought the WRONG BLADES for the driver and passenger side. The rear wiper I’d got right – HOORAH! – and with a flick of the wrist he had it fitted.

Back inside he didn’t even bother checking the miniature flip chart. He just compared the length of the old blades with the new ones. Why didn’t I think of that? Oh, because I couldn’t get the old ones off either. And because I’m a slave to a list.

Blades exchanged and £5.98 fitting paid for, the car was then sorted within another 30 seconds, my new teen best friend using a sleight of hand last seen used by Dynamo.

‘How do you do that?’ I cried.

‘I get paid for it, so I have to be fast,’ he replied.

I still think he could get into the Magic Circle with such a trick.

And tomorrow will be more of the same, only more acutely and the exchange of a lot more money. Today has been a demonstration in how tomorrow is unavoidable.

Wish me…and my car…luck!

At least the car’s polished and shiny. How can it NOT pass?!

20140427-225251.jpg
It looks road-worthy to me.

How I Met Your Father

20140426-164343.jpg

Dear Noodles and Boo,

Following Date Night last night, I’m feeling in a generous mood towards Husband for a change. So when Daily Prompt wanted to know the magnetic forces of fate that brought me and your father together I thought I’d jump on board and remind myself of my mistake tell our little tale.

The year was 1997. I was studying Psychology with the Open University and part of the course I was on required a week at summer school. I plumped for Durham (as it was the furthest option away from home) and set off for a week of lectures and experiments and excessive drinking not offered by the nature of distance learning.

It’s scary turning up somewhere alone, not knowing anyone, but that first night, in the bar, I got chatting to a group on the same course. A single parent to Eve and Indy at the time, I was introduced to a tall, dark-haired man who, it was pointed out, just happened to be a single-dad. Okaaaay. Awkward. There weren’t any fireworks of attraction and I don’t think we spoke much that evening. We were both doing the same course, but as so many people were everyone had been split into two groups and he was in the other one to me. We were both staying in the same building though.

The next morning in my group we became both student and human guinea pig, taking various listening tests to explore how the brain processes information. It turned out I was rather good at dichotic listening. I claimed it was because I had twins that I could process different voices at the same time. In actual fact I’d quickly worked out how to tweak the dials on the headphones.

My partner for the morning was a lecherous and smarmy bloke in his late-20s who managed over the course of the lesson to turn me off completely with his politics (complete Tory Boy – a complete no-go) psychological preferences (Freudian psychoanalysis? Don’t even get me started…) and far-too-close-for-comfort standards of physical proximity.

At break time Tory Boy was at my side like a limpet, trying to dazzle me with his psychological insight into God-only-knows-what. I was too busy scanning the crowd, looking for an escape route to listen to what he was saying.

And then I spotted him: the dad from the night before.

‘Oh, excuse me. I’ve just seen someone I need to talk to,’ I said to Tory Boy, before sidling up to the dad.

‘Sorry to interrupt, but…save me!

For the next 10 minutes he was my knight in shining armour, rescuing me from bigotry, misguided beliefs and and over-familiar hand. Besides which, he was nice and rather pleasant to look at.

Over the week we kept bumping into each other at breakfast. Tinky-Winky had just been sacked from the Teletubbies because his ‘interpretation of the role was not appropriate.’ We discussed how it would impact our children not to have Tinky-Winky in their lives. (Although, obviously T-W’s suit was just filled by another actor. One less inappropriate, I guess. I now can’t get the image of Tinky-Winky flicking v-signs and dry-humping Noo-Noo out of my mind.) I learnt that he had a daughter a year older than the twins, that he knew my home town quite well as he had step-family there, that he was a nice guy…and definitely not Tory.

Into the week I admitted to some of the people in my group that I liked this man. They tried to set us up on a river boat cruise. He wasn’t having any of it and sat at the other end of the table.

And then on the last night he made a move. I invited him to pop by the next time he was in my area and we swapped numbers. I didn’t really expect him to get in touch.

But a couple of weeks later I got a phone call. Watford were playing Norwich, could he pop by on the way past? That’ll be 17 years, an exchange of wedding rings and two children ago.

I never did complete my degree with the OU. But it still changed my life.

With love,

Mum xx

Date Night

20140426-121331.jpg

It’s not often Husband and I get to escape the house together – just the two of us, sans enfants. It should be easy to do. Grandy is an ever-ready on-site babysitter after all. But as he’s always here he has to put up with the dramas of having small children in the house on a permanent basis just the same as us. To then flee, leaving him to wrangle two children into bed (or just leave them up trashing the house playing, which is more his style) seems unfair. Damn and blast the parental guilt of inflicting your children onto others.

But last night we escaped. Grandy had been off work all week, so had the stamina to handle the constant demands that are part of any game invented by Boo. Both Husband and Grandy had been to watch the snooker in Sheffield yesterday too, so I was could justify a turn at being a normal person allowed out in public.

So, as the rest of the family tucked into fish and chips, Husband and I changed into something more presentable, free of chocolate stains and pockets stuffed with precious finds, and tried to sneak out of the house. It didn’t work – we left to Noodles’ howls as he clocked that we were leaving without him.

Ahhh, to be out and not ever-alert to child-killing dangers. What the heck do we say to each other?

A request of waiters and waitresses everywhere: you see that couple who’ve clearly been together for so long they’ve run out of stuff to say? Bring on the alcohol ASAP! It helps. A lot. As the fuzzy warmth of the first glass settles in things flow more easily.

Normally, on a good day we’re ships that pass in the night, me tied up with all things child-related, he busy with ever-increasing work demands, both of us happier to chat to others online than to each other face-to-face. On a bad day we’re more like war ships, primed to strike at the merest hint of provocation.

But alone (save for the waitresses and the rowdy party of 8 at the next table) and merry on wine and good food, we find that we do still like each other.

Half a bottle of wine is hopefully not enough for Husband to forget our discussions points tonight. To get the windows sorted as soon as possible (which will then mean I’ll have to redecorate the bedroom and bathroom – aw, shame), to take the kids out for a whole day next weekend so I can get on with slapping some base coat onto the dining room walls and ceiling, to book a holiday for the summer. My bet is that I’ll be angling for at least two of the above to still happen the next time we go out together. But I can hope.

By the time we could drag the meal out no more, having an inadvisable coffee that would make me feel queasy and unable to sleep later (wouldn’t it be better to offer cocoa at the end of s meal?) it was still only just past 9 o’clock. (Note to self: next time DO order a starter. The unnecessary calories will be worth the extra time to the evening.) Arriving home Noodles and Boo were indeed still up. Boo had apparently been trying to organise a pretend party. Complete with balloons. The lounge was trashed. (Second note to self: NEVER let Boo have control of the house as a teenager when going on a date night. Not unless you want to come home to a real house party in full swing, the sort that requires calls to the police and becomes Facebook legend.)

Ah, back to normality. Life had transformed back into its pumpkin incarnation. Oh well, it was nice to have a go in the glass slippers for a couple of hours.