Dream Homes #5: Cool in the Pool

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Those of you with too much time on your hands astute enough will have noticed that I was missing a Property of the Fortnight post on Saturday.

This was mostly because very little property-related action happened despite being sat at my desk for four hours. Thunderstorms had knocked out our internet and with all of our systems being web based there wasn’t much we could do…

…except watch as a group of French performers set up a stage outside our door in preparation for a 2.30pm burlesque performance. As you do.

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And there I was thinking Morris dancing clowns were scary!

Luckily a) I’d gone home by 2.30 and b) ‘burlesque’ to the French isn’t all nipple tassles and undulations. A friend ‘lucky’ enough to catch the show described it as ‘two blokes dicking about – all a bit weird really.’

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Yeah, sounds like I missed a real treat there.

After the arduous morning we then had an evening of team celebration with a barbecue and Pimms at the bosses’ house. The morning’s clouds had given way to a beautiful blue sky. Great food, just the right amount of booze (I’m not vomiting on this boss’ cream carpet!), cute children running around, all the more lovely because they weren’t my children who a) are more prone to whinging/having complete meltdowns around strangers’ houses and b) would have ensured that I very much wouldn’t have relaxed. Infinitely wiser to leave them at home. Besides, it gave Husband a chance to catch up on some childcare duties, in lieu of his World Cup shenanigans.

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The only thing that could have possibly made it an even more perfect evening would have been the use of a pool (except for the part about having to wear a swimming costume in front of colleagues). But it’s why this week’s property of the week (brought to you today because I’ve been catching up all day in the office) is:

The Willows

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Not only is there a pool but this 5-bedroom property has wings, one of which dates back to the 18th century. Who wouldn’t want to refer to the east wing?

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Plus there are more rooms than you could shake a stick at. A boot room to keep all the filthy footwear out of the way, utility room for hiding away the laundry mountain, music room room for (well, in our case) letting the very much non-musical children bash away at the piano without disturbing anyone else in the house, never mind the neighbours and a snug for hunkering down in, on top of all your normal rooms. Having tried to watch TV over the din of Noodles’ iPad game, Teddy’s happy squealing and Husband’s phone this evening a variety of bolt holes sounds like a genius idea to me.

Then there are other smaller features, such as the window seat in the master bedroom – surely an ideal reading nook?

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And the his n hers sinks. Oh, to not have to deal with Husband’s stubble-in-the-toothpaste-blobs! They could all very much keep to his side.

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And how could Boo and Noodles not absolutely adore the garden?

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Even without the pool they’d be in raptures. With, for the two weeks of warm English summer, we’d be the best parents ever!

Mind you, we would also be guaranteed to be second home to all the neighbouring kids for the duration of those halcyon days.

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Plus my grandma lives just across the road and she can be ‘variable’ at best. Living so very close by may not be the wisest of moves. (She’s taken to bursting on my aunt on more than one occasion to deliver some home truths in the past, and here she wouldn’t even have so much of a walk! And to be honest, people can say what they want about me behind my back, but I’m not so keen on hearing it for myself.)

Oh well, it looks like I’ll be sticking to the paddling pool in the back garden. But never mind. It still seems to go down well enough with the kids. I’m pretty sure occasionally I can still pull off best mum ever…if only because they’re not old enough yet to know better.

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Through the Keyhole

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I’m sure there are certain places I should be banned from. For the sake of my thighs McDonalds et al should be on the list. Nativity plays, because I always cry unashamedly, even when none of my own children are involved. And country pubs when I’ve not eaten enough (see #7 for further details of that one!).

Dancing changing rooms on exam day should probably be added to the list.

Actually, dancing changing rooms on exam day may very well be added to the list.

But it was Boo’s first ballet exam this morning. She was fine. I was nervously excited on her behalf.

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As we arrived the examiner was already sat at her desk. One of the first girls to go in hadn’t shown up. Neither had the pianist! The teacher was increasingly on the brink of a breakdown. The girls practised their petit jêtes whilst us mums looked for signs of loss of circulation due to over-enthusiastically tied shoe ribbon.

The pianist arrived flustered (thanks to a delayed shoddy Sunday-service train). The examiner was ready to start. The other girl still hadn’t arrived. It was decided that Boo and her partner would go in first.

The girls filed in. Poised. Smiling. Wands aloft and toes pointing. ‘Good morning, Miss Bone.’ And the door closed behind them. Eek.

Except there’s a keyhole that allows for the tiniest of peeks into the studio. How could I resist?

Sadly Boo was on the wrong side of the room. I stood to move away…and clunked hard on the doorknob. So much for being secretive! Remind me never to apply for a job at MI5: I’d be the world’s worst spy! (I’d also definitely not be nimble enough to get through any laser traps, I’d look ghastly in a Lycra catsuit whilst doing so too, and at school I couldn’t even be trusted to learn how to wire a plug properly, so bomb disposal might not be my forte either.)

I went and sat back down and twiddled my thumbs whilst slowly the teacher recovered in the corner, the other girl finally there and ready to go in next.

But the keyhole was calling me. The part of the exam was underway where they dance around the room. My chance to see Boo totter past. I kicked myself for wearing my glasses rather than contact lenses, the frames getting in the way. Damn and blast.

But – and WordPress, here I sort of blame YOU – I thought ‘Ah, a picture of the keyhole could make a suitable shot for the Container photo prompt. The secrets of the exam contained to the dance studio.’

And here’s a tip: if you’re trying to take a photograph in secret always ensure the flash is switched OFF!

Needless to say I hadn’t. A bright flash! Argh! I whipped the phone away and captured a shot of my leg instead as it flashed again.

Would the examiner have noticed? Could the flash have bounced off the mirror and distracted the girls? Worst: would the examiner say something to the teacher, thus black marking me forever? Could I claim it as a one-off flash of lightning?

Needless to say, I scurried back to my seat and deleted all evidence of my photographic attempt. Best just to keep sat on my bum.

So I’m sorry, Boo, if I managed to upset your examiner any more than she already was. I’m sorry if she missed your most fantastic footwork, wondering what was going on behind the door. If it’s any consolation, I’m sure you danced beautifully and dazzled her even more than my camera flash. Next time I promise I’ll keep sat in my chair and I won’t try any clever photography for the sake of my blog.

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However, I can’t promise I won’t mess things up for you/embarrass you on any future occasions. Best you just get used to it. And I promise it’s never done in malice. Although it just won’t ever feel like that. Sorry.

The Ugly Bug Bawl

Dear Spiders et al

I think I’ve been pretty patient up til now, but I’ve had enough. I can’t take your constant presence in my life any more – particularly on these summer days, be they hot and humid or wet and muggy. It doesn’t really seem to matter whatever the weather, you’re always there. And enough is enough.

Could you please decide where you would like to be: inside or outside! I’m pretty sure that you’d prefer it outside. You’d have to take your chances with birds and other predators, but you wouldn’t risk death by vacuum, Nutella jar or being trodden on. (I’m looking at you in particular on that one, slugs – I accept that it must be worse for you to meet a sticky end, squished by a giant Python-esque foot, but it’s really never pleasant for me either and you do such a good job of surprising me with your presence it’s always too late.)

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I would be pretty much happy to leave you to get on with catching and eating each other outside. As it is I’m wary of any sort of bush as there’s inevitably a web running across it with a damn great spider sat in the middle. Or a host of aphids trundling along stems and leaves. Or gnats swarming en masse ready for their pound of flesh.

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I’m happy to stick to wide open spaces for my own personal space. I don’t need to shove my head into bushes and trees. A patch of grass, or even paving, that’s fine. Much as I don’t go swimming with sharks and have thus far found that they’ve completely left me alone, if I don’t intrude on your patch, I don’t expect you to intrude on mine. And as such, although I’m happy to sacrifice pretty much all foliage for your use I’d appreciate it if you could leave the plastic chairs and play equipment alone. If it’s man made then it should be considered out if bounds.

But mostly, for the love of God, please please leave the house to us. Apparently you’re never more than three feet away from a spider. No kidding! From the webs that hang from the coving, the shelf by the kitchen sink, from door frames, in the fireplace and under tables, you are literally everywhere.

I mean, thank you for getting rid of flies and all, but if they went into the garden then couldn’t you too? Instead of lurking under the skirting board and in the kitchen cupboards and crawling from bedding. I mean, seriously, what’s wrong with you? Creep up on us like that and you’re just asking to be crushed. Can that many of you really be suicidal

And we know you must be laughing at us as you make your way across the wall or ceiling towards us. Always TOWARDS us. You know we’re thinking ‘You’re going to fall. You’re going to fall RIGHT ON TOP OF ME! Right on top of me WHILST I SLEEP!!!‘ Even though we sort of know you’re not. Unless we’ve looked up ‘spider horror stories’ on Google. Then we’ll be 100% convinced you’re just waiting to fall into our open, slumbering mouths.

I was once told that you spiders have to stop walking as they make their way across the floor/wall/ceiling/bath tub because you can’t both walk and breathe at the same time. But I don’t buy it. More like you can’t walk and taunt us at the same time.

Does it feel like I’m picking on you, spiders? Believe me, I’m not. You silverfish, with your preference for kitchen skulking and your wriggling ways can go away too. And slugs, what is it with our house? On a wet night you’d think we were the epicentre for a zombie slug apocalypse – masses of you slowly zoning in on our house. Possibly they’re truly the undead souls of Slugfest 1997, in which a tub of salt and the drunken antics of my parents and the neighbours left our garden the scene of a slug massacre, I plead my innocence on that one, so please now leave us alone.

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I honestly think you should take your cue, all of you, from bees and butterflies. They don’t want to be trapped inside a house. As soon as they’re in they’re gasping to get out again. That’s just as it should be. Although a heads up, you guys – and flies too – no matter how’s my times you bang into it you’re NEVER going to get through the invisible force field that is glass.

Oh, and although it’s too late now, I’d like to clarify that I was trying to help the flying beetle type thing out of the patio door rather than into the web of that spider. I’m really sorry. The spider must have thought it was its lucky day having home deliveries made for lunch, but I really didn’t mean it to be that way. If it’s any consolation your death looked quick, if not painless. That spider was onto you like a shot! But then again, if you’d just stuck to being outside I wouldn’t have tried to help you out.

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I’m really not going to change my mind on this matter. No matter how many times I’m subjected to the over-excited shriekings of Jess on CBeebies, I won’t be swayed. ‘Feelers out. What’s about?’ Believe me, I really don’t want to know!

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But what I just want to do is to be able to open a window and let some air in without the invitation extending to any and all bug life. In the words of Johnny in Dirty Dancing, ‘This is my space, this is your space.’ Now, GET OUT OF MY SPACE and stop putting spiders in the corner!!!

I’ll let you continue to have complete access to all campers however. There is nothing so hideous as waking in your sleeping bag to find yourself joined by all manner of six-legged life forms, but at the same, those who can’t be bothered to have paid for walls as part of their deal on holiday have really just brought it on themselves.

Bugs, you’re welcome. Now, do we have a deal? (Please say we have a deal!)

Kind regards
(at least for now – fail me on this and it will be WAR ON BUGS!)

GSM

The High Street Obstacle Course

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Ah, King’s Lynn. So important in the Middle Ages that they gave us not one market square but TWO.

Unfortunately, what they didn’t need back then were parking spaces. Damn it. Because now not one, but BOTH market places are little more than car parks.

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Not quite the same, is it?

Plus, the market has to go somewhere. Which is, even more unfortunately, right down the middle of the sodding street. We’re NOT Portobello. We’re NOT Camden. We’re just a little market town…but let’s put the markets in the MARKET PLACES.

And it’s not even just the market stalls. Running the gauntlet of the High Street is increasingly just NOT FUN because of all the crap they put in the way. And I like shopping. But not like this. Today I had to contend with a toddler-filled buggy and:

1) A continental market.

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It’s not even market day, which makes it all the more annoying.

The paella was very nice though. Although it was far more than I’d normally eat for lunch, thus meaning the market will be a contributing factor in making me FAT. Not good.

Charity muggers.

Note there is no photo of the chuggers. I wouldn’t dare slow my pace, let alone stop, lest I have a pamphlet thrust into my hand and my bank account details taken from me before I have time to ask ‘Hang on a minute, weren’t you working for Scope the other week? How come the WWF is now your passion? Do you actually care about the charities you work for or are you only in it for the money?’

3) Buskers

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And more so than normal at the moment since the town’s music festival is on. Which seems to mean any man with an instrument thinks we want to hear him play. From the reaction of the squeezers-by, no one was really that bothered. Still, at least the scary-ass Morris dancing clowns have gone.

4) The world’s ugliest bandstand.

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And if we’ve got to have an ugly bandstand, can’t we at least put the buskers on it? Let them all slug it out Hunger Games style on the bandstand and let the winner play. Mind you, my money would be on Juggling Jim, but mostly because he wouldn’t be – isn’t – afraid to use his guitar as a weapon.

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Cat Stevens meets Katniss Everdeen.

5) A random advertising car.

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No idea what it was advertising. And again, no one seemed bothered. Except I was bothered by it just being there. GET OUT OF THE WAY!!! Go fun yourself, indeed.

6)Teletubbyland. Apparently.

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Thanks to the EU we’ve just had these installed. Aren’t we lucky?

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Are you sure it was an EU initiative and not these guys who were responsible for our new pavement-hogging installations?

7) Perspex boxes.

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Why sell your gold, buy e-cigarettes and have your middle-aged lady-beard plucked in private behind closed doors when you can do it surrounded by glass in the middle of the street?

Oh, and the irony is, that whilst the streets are choc full of tut, a lot of the shop units are empty. EMPTY!

People keep saying that the high street is dying. If you want to keep the high street alive let people walk down it unobstructed. Don’t ram it full of THINGS meant to make it more interesting but actually that just get in the way. Make it EASY, not into the shopping equivalent of an obstacle course. Because nothing had me desperate to beat a retreat back to the internet to tend to my spending needs than today’s obstructions.

By the time I got home I was ready to howl as much as Noodles. Still, at least it makes Husband happy as I didn’t spend money. You don’t think it’s all his idea, do you?!

There Was a Young Woman Who Swallowed a Lie

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There was a young woman who swallowed a lie.
An abject lie about her thighs.
Perhaps she’ll cry.

There was a young woman who read all the mags.
What a drag to read all the mags.
She read all the mags to quell the lie,
The abject lie about her thighs.
Perhaps she’ll cry.

There was a young woman who adopted each fad.
To feel more glad she adopted each fad.
She adopted each fad as she read all the mags.
What a drag to read all the mags.
She read all the mags as she swallowed the lie,
The abject lie about her thighs.
Perhaps she’ll cry.

There was a young woman who ate nothing but soup
Oh and bits of goop, but still mostly soup.
She ate the soup as she adopted each fad.
She adopted each fad as she read all the mags.
What a drag to read all the mags.
She read all the mags as she swallowed the lie,
The abject lie about her thighs.
Perhaps she’ll cry.

There was a young woman who ran every night.
What a sight as she ran every night.
She ran every night and ate nothing but soup.
She ate the soup as she adopted each fad.
She adopted each fad as she read all the mags.
What a drag to read all the mags.
She read all the mags as she swallowed the lie,
The abject lie about her thighs.
Perhaps she’ll cry.

There was a young woman who swallowed some pills
It made her ill to swallow the pills.
She swallowed the pills as she ran every night.
She ran every night and ate nothing but soup.
She ate the soup as she adopted each fad.
She adopted each fad as she read all the mags.
What a drag to read all the mags.
She read all the mags as she swallowed the lie,
The abject lie about her thighs.
Perhaps she’ll cry.

There was an old woman who realised
There never was anything wrong with her thighs.
She realised so stopped taking the pills.
Stopped taking the pills, no longer ran every night.
No longer ran every night and ate more than just soup.
More than just soup, no longer tied to the fads.
No longer tied to the fads she burned all the mags.
Wasn’t she glad to burn all the mags!
She burnt all the mags and spat out the lie,
The abject lie about her thighs,
And just bought a bigger size.

* * * * *

Thank you, Little Miss Menopause for inspiring this post.

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Sorry I didn’t manage to squeeze in Boom Boom, Ain’t It Great To Be Crazy.
LMM is a blogging genius and I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for her at the upcoming BlogHer awards. This one’s for you, LMM.

The Wheels on the Bus

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The wheels on the bus go round and round.
Round and round. Round and round.
The wheels on the bus go round and round all day long.

The driver on the bus goes ‘No more room.’*
‘No more room. No more room.’
The driver on the bus goes ‘No more room,’ all day long.
(*’Unless you can single-handedly wrangle your toddler and fold up your buggy and lift it onto the luggage wrack that’s already filled with someone else’s suitcase.’)

The mum on the bus manages the impossible.
Manages the impossible. Manages the impossible.
The mum on the bus manages the impossible, whilst the driver pulls away.

The toddler on the bus goes chatter chatter chatter.
Chatter chatter chatter, chatter chatter chatter.
The toddler on the bus goes chatter chatter chatter and ‘WHEEEEEEEE!’ as we go over the bridge.

The oldies on the bus go ‘Tut tut tut.’
‘Tut tut tut. Tut tut tut.’
The oldies on the bus go ‘Tut tut tut,’ even though they ride for free.

The people on the bus all dash to get off.
Dash to get off. Dash to get off.
The people on the bus all dash to get off, but the buggy’s in the way.

The contents of the buggy spill onto the floor.
Onto the floor. All over the floor.
The contents of the buggy spill onto the
floor, whilst the toddler runs away.

The mum on the bus says ‘Sorry, sorry, sorry.’
‘Sorry sorry sorry. Sorry sorry sorry.’
The mum on the bus says ‘Sorry sorry sorry,’ all day long.

What Have We Learnt From the World Cup?

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Phew. It’s over! With Germany lifting the Jules Rimet trophy tonight the proliferation of all things Brazilian (well, ok, nearly all things Brazilian) is over. Until the 2016 Olympics at least.

Now, due to my aversion to all things football I’ve successfully managed to avoid an awful lot of men running around on grass, falling over and biting each other. However, with Husband having been there and ALL THE SODDING SPONSORS and their adverts jumping on the bandwagon I’ve still (allegedly) learnt stuff about Brazil, football and humanity, some of which is probably, definitely not true, a lot of which I didn’t need to know. Nevertheless, I’ll still be sharing this nonsense with you. You’re welcome.

It’s beyond hot.

Even the Brazilians thought it was stupid to be hosting the championships there due to the heat and humidity. Qatar in four years time will be fun then. Well planned, FIFA.

You don’t want to be around when a Brazil match ends.

Thanks to a delay in his flight to Salvador, Husband found himself arriving in the city at the same time as crowds filed out of the bars after the kick-off match between Brazil and Croatia. Thousands of fans filled the square around their car, so they were forced to go around the back, via a walk up a hill. Whilst they climbed another solo tourist was ahead of them and the first to meet the surging fans…only to be set upon and mugged! Husband and his mate (as far away from have-a-go heroes as it’s possible to get) turned on their heels and legged it down the hill and back into their car, whilst the driver requested security.

Not a great start.

It’s hard to know when it’s ok to hit children.

Although the only trouble Husband experienced was on his arrival, one bloke he met told him how he’d constantly been hassled by groups of small children, their hands in his pockets looking to pinch whatever they could. Which brings to bear the question: is it ever ok to beat a child off of you?

Not met a deadline? Upset the majority of your host nation? Never mind, carry on and try to distract everyone with a party.

Admit it, you’ve been there: a deadline’s looming and you know you’re not going to meet it. It’s an awful feeling, isn’t it? Imagine how it felt for the organisers then to have half-finished projects littered around the nation. It seems they weren’t so bothered actually. Stick a screen up and nobody will suspect a thing right? Have a nation upset that you’ve spent money on a football tournament that would be better spent on healthcare, infrastructure, the war on drugs? Distract them with a party and a team that’s progressing through the tournament.

Clearly they’d been inspired by Frozen: ‘conceal it, don’t feel it, don’t let it show.’ The reach of Elsa’s ice powers knows no bounds.

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It IS possible to score goals.

7-1 in the Germany v Brazil game? No excuses for nil-nil games any more. Seriously, how can a game that often ends in no result have people’s devotion. Never mind the losing teams, it’s the teams that fail to score who should be instantly disqualified in my opinion.

It’s all about the music and dancing.

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From M&M’s pool party to KFC’s boy undetered by the cooling of his takeaway fried chicken, the samba drums are going to get to you.

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Husband would disagree though. He didn’t experience any samba. Breakfast-time drinking and prostitution though seemed to be more of a pre-occupation for some. You don’t see THAT in the adverts.

Fast food in Brazil must be calorie-free.

Well, either that or there’s a disconnect between the products the sponsors are pedalling and the lifestyles they’ve used to promote it. Because surely you can’t have a diet of McDonalds, KFC, Pot Noodle and M&Ms and still look and good shaking your stuff in a thong, no matter how many feathers you wear on your head to distract everyone.

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Still, at least thanks to Listerine we know they might die of coronary heart disease, but at least they’ve got minty fresh breath.

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All of this I only know second hand mind you, having not stepped a foot into Latin America. Husband thinks that I would like Rio and has PROMISED to take me sooner rather than later. I’m holding him to this. Hopefully I’ll stumble across more samba and fewer 9am prostitutes than he did. Whilst I wait I’ll need to get my backside into better shape. I’d better start eating the Maccy D’s then, I guess.

In the meantime, men, put your balls away. From the noises that have emanated from around the house over the past month it’s been quite a show, if you’re into that sort of thing. But personally, I really won’t miss it.

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