For Christmas Sake

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure that last time I checked it was still October. That month slap in the middle of AUTUMN. Venture into the shops though and you’d be mistaken that you’d fallen asleep for 6 weeks and had woken up as Christmas was here. Fairy lights and baubles have started to appear. Signs  and shop windows declare the looming imminence of Christmas in a way that would make a host of angels on a hillside look subtle. In M&S I heard staff discussing the need to put a poster up of David Gandy in his pants though, so it’s not all bad.

  
But at the same time the shelves have been cleared of practical things you might actually want to buy in favour of the Christmas gift set.

Last week I was shopping with Noodles in Mothercare. (By “shopping” I actually mean following Noodles up and down the aisles until he decided we could eventually go home.) The store was festooned with festive decorations: tinsel, fake presents, clothes with Christmas puddings and snowmen on them. Simply stepping across the threshold I got Noddy Holder tinnitus: “IT’S CHRIIIIIIIISTMAAAAAAAS!!!”

And then I heard it…the sound of Jingle Bells!!! The store was already playing Christmas music!!!

“Oh my God,” I said to an assistant. “I can’t believe you’ve got Christmas music on already.”

I expected her to roll her eyes at the prospect of having cutesy kids Christmas tunes played on a loop for the next two months. Personally I was already starting to twitch on her behalf.

“Yeah, but it’s the season, innit?”

Well, here’s the thing, world of retail, it’s really not! I’m lucky to get 6 hours undisturbed sleep, not 6 weeks. I may be sleep-deprived but I’m definitely sure it’s still October and thus very much NOT the season.

  
Don’t think we see what you’re doing too. We see you sneaking rolls of Christmas wrap by the tills in late August. We realise that September brings the first sightings of the Roses selection box. We know that the second you whip the school uniforms away the day the schools go back (which is beyond annoying as it’s only then that you realise that you’ve bought the wrong size/the knees in the trousers have failed survive the playground/they’ve already lost their jumper and need a replacement) the Christmas onslaught is going to begin in earnest.

And here’s the thing, retailers, we’re not stupid. We know when Christmas is. It’s the same every year after all. Those who want to get organised can do so just as well without the decorations going up before the leaves on the trees have turned brown. We don’t need the gift sets out until December because those things are only bought as panic buys for the great aunt you only see once a year/Secret Santa purchases for the colleague you don’t know very well/donations for the school fête. None of those purchases happen until they really desperately need to, so none of that stuff needs to be given precious store space until December. Put your Racing Grannies and lavender drawer sachets away for now and let us carry on as normal.
 

I haven’t needed an inflatable hipster beard so far this year
 
Ditto the food. Are people really stock-piling frozen sausage rolls and turkey? If they are, how come Christmas Eve is a battleground of supermarket shopping. That’s when you need the abundance of Brussels sprouts. Not now.

And Mothercare…please please don’t get the kids uber excited about Christmas yet. It’s like starting a long car journey and telling them we’re nearly there as we back out of the drive.

Kids know what toys there are. They’re also greedy and fickle. We know, retailers, that you are also greedy and have a lot to gain from force-feeding images of all the wonders Christmas can bring. But have some sympathy for the parents. There’s nothing worse than thinking you’re organised with gifts hidden in the loft by October only for the Number 1 Item of Desire to change on 23rd December. And if you do insist on luring our kids into really really really really really really wanting whatever’s the top of your let’s-shift-this-shit marketing campaign, for the love of God make it readily available and in plentiful supply. Toy frenzies might make good news stories, but they make for miserable Christmases.

  
It’s too late for this year. But have a thought before 2017, retailers. Let us have an autumn. We’ll still buy just as much tut by the time Christmas rolls round, but we might be less inclined to turn into the Grinch about it all. Plus, Mothercare, Noodles got so excited about your fake presents he destroyed two of them hoping to find goodies inside. Good luck having any left by Christmas.

It’s not hard: just hold back on the Jingle Bells in October. The David Gandy poster can stay though.

  

Another Side

Ok, a confession: I have another blog. (Another two, actually…but this isn’t the post for talk of memorable meals.)

I gave up on this blog for a bit because life became not very funny as we waited for Noodles to be diagnosed with Autism. There aren’t many puns to be had out of a cycle of assessments. And chuckling about public tantrums wasn’t so funny when the child in question was doing so because the world was just being one big struggle.

By the time we finally got his diagnosis this March my head was whirling. I realised I was going to have to decide how much I’d want Noodles to be shaped to conform to the norms of society versus the way he truly is (which is stubborn, single-minded and brilliant – in a lot of ways I wish I could be more like him rather than him more like me). So I started a blog to sort my head out. Thus Living With Edges was born. (BTW Noodles became SP – my Square Peg in a world of round holes – and Boo became Amy, because she said that that’s what she would be called if she had a choice.)

It’s more niche than things here, but some people found me and I have a little band of followers. Im not posting here to boost that number; I don’t expect follows or even for anyone to give it a glance. 

But at the same time, in light of Mental Health Day, my last Edges post was about the realisation that I perpetuate the stigma attached to mental health issues through inaction. (I told you it’s not a giggle-fest over there.) But if I want mental health issues to have acceptance they have to be normalised. And so I thought it was important to post here too: just to say how amazingly proud I am of Noodles.

  
It’s not always easy, but at least we have a better understanding of his issues now and so we’re trying to find a way that suits him as an individual and us as a family. It takes a lot to be different, but he does it with style. 

Kitchen Wars: GSM vs the Rebel Appliance

Once, in a kitchen not so far far away:

“I think I’ll get a new fridge at the weekend,” Teflon Man announced last weekend.

In fairness, our fridge has become increasingly broken for about 5 years. First the water filter stopped working, then the ice cubes, then the freezer and then the top two shelves of the fridge. The freezer has now started to smell of death! 

Needless to say, TM hasn’t bought a new anything. He hasn’t even been anywhere near Curry’s website. 

As ever I’m disappointed, but not surprised.

The other appliances, however, have clearly overheard the conversation and are standing firm alongside their about-to-be-abandoned comrade and have formed the Rebel Appliance!

First the dishwasher went on strike. We’ve only had it about a month, inherited from my mother-in-law in exchange for buying her a house last year. A month is just long enough to get used to having it; to marvel at the joy of not having a sink perpertually full of dirty dishes and the way the glassware glistens. Except then the dishwasher decided that pumping water at any sort of pressure was a job too far for it now we’re back to washing things by hand.

Dishwasher, you’re an arsehole.

The trouble with hand washing is complicated by the fact that the sink is also blocked somewhere and takes an eternity to drain, thus leaving a gradation of grease around the sink after a session with the pans. This is not due to any solidarity with the fridge though. This has always been the case (either due a bodge of a plumbing job on installation, or possibly a ghost baby).

Sink, though, you are an even bigger arsehole.

The cooker is also on the fridge’s side and has started the long slow road to non-function by degrees. This week the smallest hob stopped working. With no reasoning behind it, it just decided to stop. 

The cooker was also inherited from mother-in-law’s house move, replacing one so old it had guess marks rather gas marks and pans had to be balanced so precisely due to the worn away pan stands they could have joined Cirque de Soleil. 

I loved having a new cooker so much! The ability to know that things are being cooked at the right temperature and with oven doors that actually click shut! (The old ones had to be held closed with a briefcase of bricks!)

At least my old cooker used to ignite! New cooker, you too are an arsehole!

The microwave will also spontaneously set itself on a timer loop, the digital display going crazy of its own accord. At least I can unplug it until it’s needed. But it’s still being an arsehole.

I fear it’s also only a matter of time before the toaster and iron join the ranks of the Rebel Appliance. 

Just as long as the washing machine doesn’t defect I think I can cope though. Although don’t let the appliance alliance know my weak spot, otherwise I’ll be wringing out pants in the bathroom sink by the end of the week and nobody wants that!

I thought household appliances were meant to make life easier. Ours are just further additions to The Shit I Have To Put Up With. 

There are some upsides to a broken fridge though. If the wine won’t stay chilled you just have to drink it all in one go. Is “the fridge made me do it,” an acceptable excuse for alcoholism though?

But never mind, Pixar will hopefully be hot on my heels for a future animation where kitchen appliances get feelings and fight together against being sent to the dump. I hereby claim copyright in the hope that they’ll pay me enough for me to afford a new kitchen with non-rebellious appliances. Which, after all, is probably more likely to happen than TM finally getting round to buying a new fridge!

Falling 

According to my emails, it’s official: coat season is here. 

  
At 8.01 am it was on its way; by 9.46am it was here! Ah, coat season. I always thought it was autumn, but my primary school education has failed me in other ways (The Great Fire of London didn’t wipe out the Plague, King Harold wasn’t shot in the eye with an arrow, ‘i before e, except after c’ is wrong more often than it’s right…) so it’s no surprise really that the Autumn Days, that we’d sing so passionately in assembly, should apparently have been called Coat Season Days.

Either way, I’m not a big fan of autumn. Maybe it’ll be better if is re-branded as coat season. In which case, maybe I should try to put a positive spin on it.

Crisp cooler days

  

The sun is shining, but you don’t melt in the midday sun or fail to sleep at night because it’s too goddamn hot.

Except

Those perfect fall days are few and far between. Mostly it’s wet and dark and cold. Bleugh. It’s not coat season; it’s HAIR FRIZZ season!

  
Oh, and there are all the jobs that haven’t been done to the house  over the summer (like draft-proofing, leak-sealing, central-heating installation and new windows). The prospect of another cold, draughty, damp winter looms large.

The evenings draw in

The kids will go to sleep earlier as it’ll actually be dark at bedtime, thus we can indulge in peaceful evenings, rather than convincing them that it’s reasonable to expect them to go to sleep whilst the sun is still up.

Except…

The morning’s get darker too! Rousing a sleeping child and getting them accept that it’s reasonable to have to get up for school before the sun has risen is the most depressing parental fight of them all.

Back to School

Yaaay! After six weeks of child/work juggling in extremis, combined with bankruptcy after every family day out, the kids are back to being somebody else’s problem for 6 hours a day. Family start talking to you again, free of the fear you might ask them to babysit for an eight-hour shift/entire week of the holidays. 

Except…

With school comes homework. The second most depressing parental battle of all. With added maths.

Autumn TV

As soon as the first leaf turns orange and falls to the floor it’s time for elimination TV. Yaaaay! Whether it’s a bunch of bakers in a marquee, a glittering of celebs on a dancefloor or a group of annoying twonts in a boardroom, I’m in! 

  
Except…

Did I mention the kids still won’t go to bed? Try avoiding the spoilers before you get to watch on iPlayer on your phone. Argh!

Conkers

Who doesn’t love a shiny conker? Especially kids. Move over, Pokémon – let’s collect them all!

  
Except…

You end up with a house festooned with shrivelled conkers. And all that leaf-rummaging is just going to end up in a concealed dog poo-related incident, you just know it!

No More Bikini Body 

Yay! We can finally exhale (and stop exfoliating for that matter!). We no longer have to pluck and wax and colour our white bits orange. We no longer have to exist on lettuce and stomach crunches. Oh blessed relief! Bring on the mashed potato!

  
Except…

Christmas is coming – or should that be party dress season? – and this goose is getting fat. But who wants to eat lettuce when it’s 12°c out?

Autumnal Dressing

Ah, sleeves, I’ve missed you! Free from the possibility of armpit sweat, bingo-wings are once more under wraps. Literally. And cute ankle boots – so much more comfortable than summer sandals. The end of thong-rub* has got to be a good thing.

*The flip-flop kind, obviously. It’s been a long time since I subjected myself to the other sort.

  
And let’s just take a moment to appreciate opaque tights! Concealer of stubbly legs and cellulite! Pick a high enough dernier and suddenly everyone can have a thigh gap!

There is no ‘except’ with this one. Maybe that’s why fashion has rebranded the most disappointing time of year as Coat Season. Get a great coat and it covers so many sins. Although not the frizzy hair. But we can work on that.

I wonder if anyone else will fall for it?