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? 

Neither Seen Nor Heard

Wee Willie Winkie runs through the Net,

Facebook and Twitter posts parents can’t forget.

Daily Mail comments, vitriol and spite

“Thank f*ck the kids are back at school

We hate them in our sight.”

Six weeks of school holidays can seem like an eternity for parents, but more so it seems that the elongated experience of having children in the public sphere is just TOO MUCH for certain sections of society. Mostly the intolerant/ignorant/self-centred sections who can’t bear anyone other than other people just like them within their space. Since Brexit, these voices now believe it’s ok to be more intolerant/ignorant/self-centred than ever. Thus the holidays has seen an increase in belligerent voices bemoaning kids these days and poor parenting.

  
My heckles started rising following a report on The Pool on the rise of pre-emptive apology packs parents are increasingly handing out on flights, should they have the audacity to have a small child with them. Because, apparently, small children shouldn’t be allowed to mix in confined public spaces with grown-ups who may not like small children (even if the parents have had to pay an adult fare in order for their child to have such a luxury as a seat to themselves). It’s unacceptable for children to fidget in their seats (even though, actually, 100% screen time isn’t all it takes to keep a small child entertained for 8 hours and the amount of space on an aircraft is clearly too little if a toddler’s feet can spoil the day of the person in front of them) or to make a fuss because their ears hurt. People (who certainly didn’t deserve plastic bags of earplugs and boiled sweets) threw their dummies from their plane seats as the holidays wore on.

And you didn’t have to leave the country to anger the child-hating contingency. Just taking a child out was enough to envoke wrath. Daily Mail writer, Tess Stimson, felt no shame in snapping at a disabled child in a restaurant for banging a spoon on a table. The restaurant appears to have been the last hope saloon for those having a bad day, which made it ok for her to lose her rag…but then not for it to be ok for the kid’s parent to react.

Back in Victorian times children were preferably seen and not heard. These days it would seem people would prefer it if they didn’t have to be seen either. The very hell of ankle-biters getting in the way on public transport or in shops or in cinemas or restaurants. As Tess puts it, “If someone can’t control their child, they should leave them at home with a babysitter.” As though kids run amok 24/7 or parents can predict when/where/how things might go pear-shaped. That’s certainly not how I’ve ever experienced it. But for the sake of sparing the intolerant the experience of being near a child should they kick-off it’s best they just stay indoors attached to their technology?

Except then it’s wrong that children should be so attached to their phones and tablets when what they ought to be experiencing is the outdoors. Preferably the outdoors of the 1950s…in an Enid Blyton book…as though time travel into a fictional realm is ever an option for keeping the kids occupied in the holidays! Ever feel like you can’t win?

  

…far away from any adults who could be offended by the children’s chewing.

A poor mum in my local Morrisons couldn’t win yesterday. Her 3-year-old son was yelling that he wanted a lolly. Without losing her cool she stood her ground whilst also managing to keep her baby calm in its pram. “You’re doing a great job,” I told her as I passed, having had bad experiences in the very same shop myself. But at the other end of the store people were tutting and commenting.

“Well, that’s made sure I never have kids,” some blonde twenty-something flounced.

“Makes you wish for ear defenders,” the check-out woman snarked.

“Actually, I think the mum’s doing great,” I replied. “It’s not easy when they kick-off, but she’s not giving in. That takes some doing. I say good for her.”

“Oh God, the last thing she should do is give him a sodding lolly,” the checkout woman conceded. 

“Even if it means standing her ground despite the screaming. Yep.” And on behalf of that mum I had a big smug smile on my face as I left the store. 

God, I love people changing their tune in the face of reason!

  
Thankfully for Tess Stimson and her child-despising ilk they can breathe a sigh of relief that kids have gone back to school (although now they’ll grumble that the traffic’s so much worse around the time of the school run!). Maybe, with all this spare time, free from the tyranny of other people’s children and all the energy expended complaining online, they should take a look at the adults around them. The ones who get drunk on airlines and the ones who insist on having their chairs reclined for the entire duration of the flight; the ones on trains who have to take up four seats even though they’re alone and the ones who encroach on personal space with their manspreading; the ones who refuse to grow up and clog up the queue on the Dumbo ride at Disney (seriously, it’s a kids’ ride – move over to Orbitron); the ones who bowl down residential streets at 2am steaming drunk and screaming obscenities and the ones at 6pm in family restaurants who insist on loudly calling each other “c*nts” (I winced typing that, but not as much as I did standing next to them with Boo at teatime on Bank Holiday Monday). 

Old enough NOT to be clogging up the queue, even as a mouse!

Wherever you look there are annoying idiots clogging our streets. But because it’s a public place, they’re allowed to be there. Just the same as kids are! Either we all shut ourselves away in fear of grating on somebody’s nerves, or we suck it up and deal with it when somebody’s being an irritant. Kids aren’t born into this world as fully socially-functioning beings, and neither will they ever be if we don’t let them out…even if sometimes that doesn’t go so brilliantly well.
Those who still can’t abide the way parents today pander to their “gremlins” (to quote from a comments thread) might be best to ensure they cram everything into the hours of 9am and 3pm for the next seven weeks. Those people will still be intolerant/ignorant/self-centred muppets though, so if they could provide little ‘apologies for being a knob’ packs to dish out to all those potentially offended with their bigoted views, that would be appreciated. I look forward to receiving my bigotry-blocking earphones. 

Enough to Make You Weep

Boo’s class have been reading Ted Hughes’ The Iron Man. ‘Not to be confused with the film,’ the teacher warned. So Boo told me off when I suggested we watch The Iron Giant. To prove my point (i.e. the teacher was referring to Tony Stark in a robot costume not minor violations* from the story arc by the 1999 animated adaptation – *I would guess, I’ve not actually read the book) I bought The Iron Giant from HMV.

‘Aw, great film,’ the cashier enthused (possibly as a result of his customer training). ‘You’re going to cry though.’

‘Err, yeah. Without a shadow of doubt.’

But then I am the sort of woman who cries at the SMA ‘You’re doing great’ advert.

At bedtime we put the DVD on. An hour and a half later I was crying like a baby. 

  
‘I go. You stay. No following.’ 

Oh my God, robot – you’re slaying me!

So, The Iron Giant is up there with the saddest kids films ever…which is probably pretty much comparable to the list of all time saddest films ever, except for the addition of Beaches. But which other films make my shortlist? Well, I’m glad you ask. (BTW, the order I list them in is the chronological order in which they first killed me.)

E.T. (1982)

  

The first time I remember crying at a film. Everything I watched up to that point had had a happy ending and yet there E.T. was breaking my heart. I felt as though I was the only one wiping away my tears as the credits rolled. It turned out my family was just heartless. Seriously, how did they not cry?!?!

Charlotte’s Web (1973)

  

As a ‘treat’ we got to watch Charlotte’s Web one morning at primary school. The whole school in the assembly hall, sat on the hard floor, our crossed legs going numb as we watched Charlotte save Wilbur’s bacon…and then die! And then hundreds of baby spiders hatching out and being adorable. Who thought that was a good idea?!?! It’s bad enough welling up in the isolating darkness of a cinema, but in the barely dimmed gloom surrounded by 200 other kids, well it’s not good! 

Mind you, it neither stopped me from eating bacon or freaking out at spiders, so maybe I wasn’t all that traumatised. I do still have an aversion to movie projections in school assembly halls though.

Watership Down (1978)

  

Arent talking cartoon bunnies meant to be cute and fluffy? So, it was a huge shock that the film was so brutal and scary and did I mention brutal? And then it made my eyes wet. I never want to watch it again.

My Girl (1991)

Oh my God. They killed Thomas!

  
And then they forgot his glasses! Still I couldn’t see out of mine for the tears.

The Lion King (1994)

I first saw this as a teenager, in the cinema, with friends. I was sat next to the boy I fancied. Trying to be cool I stifled the tears as Simba vainly tried to nudge his dad back to life before curling up in his paws. 

  
And then I glanced over to find the boy sobbing like a baby. And that’s when I realised that people do cry at sad films. So I cried like a baby too.

Dumbo (1941)

I was never all that bothered by Dumbo as a child. It didn’t feature a princess, the bit where Dumbo has the drunk dream was a bit scary-crazy and bullying is never nice. Really it wouldn’t have really registered as a film of note…until I saw it as a parent.

And there Mrs Jumbo was, caged and separated from her son, but still rocking him with her trunk and singing Baby Mine whilst all the other mums cuddled up to their little ones and my heart splintered into a million pieces.

  
Now I can’t bear to be in the same room when the scene is playing.

PS. Whilst searching for the above image I also came across the next picture. Damn you, Internet, my heart just broke again.

  

Bridge to Terabithia (2007)

 
Not a film to watch when pregnant. I blame my hormones for the uncontrolled crying over our post-cinema meal and the hour-long journey home. I’m not sure what Teflon Man’s excuse was!
 
I’ve only watched it the once. I’m scared that if I see it again I’ll not be able to stop crying again. But I’m also scared that it won’t have the same impact and the memory of those tears will be spoiled. Which is a shame as I did really love the film.

Or maybe I could just watch the start and then Leslie won’t die. Yes, that’s what I’ll do – I’ll save her by not watching the second half. Leslie needs to live forever.

Up (2009)

Five minutes of gut-wrenching feels. Thanks, Pixar. I cried here:

 
…and here:

  

…and here:

    
…and here:

 The rest of the film? Meh. But those five minutes? Sublime sadness. 

Toy Story 3 (2010)

Say no more. If you didn’t cry at least once* during this then your heart’s made of stone and I’m not sure why you’ve even read this far when you and I clearly have nothing in common.

  

*I cried several times, obviously. The incinerator scene was only the tip of the iceberg really.

  
Yep, that bit got me too. *Sniff*

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (2010)

Over the course of the Harry Potter franchise many many characters died. Dumbledore’s funeral left me in floods, the death toll after the big battle in Deathly Hallows Part 2 was harrowing (although possibly not as harrowing as the steamy Harry/Hermione scene hallucinated by Ron in the woods in Part 1 – ick!). But the death that left me reeling the most was that of Dobby.

 
Why didn’t they just use some magic to stop him from dying?!?! Wizards, you failed us. 

Frozen (2013)

It’s par for the course for Disney to kill of a parent (although I guess the narrative of traditional fairy tales has a bit to do with that). But increasingly they’ve been going in for total  patricide (see Tarzan, Cinderella and Big Hero 6 for further proof, although I guess Snow White, Peter Pan and Mowgli set an early precedent for parentless main characters – Fantasyland would really be more appropriately named as The Orphanage, to be honest). So maybe I should have seen it coming, I should have been prepared. But nope – because despite our experiences we’re conditioned to believe that Disney equates to fluffiness and songs and happily ever after, forgetting that there can only be light if there was once darkness. And so it comes like a sucker punch every time. So I didn’t expect the ship to sink. I didn’t expect the king and queen would die. Like everyone around me, I was floored by the scene with Anna and Elsa say either side of the door, both helplessly lost and grief-ridden.

 
  

But surely you’d have to have a heart of ice not to  be. 

Cinderella (2015)

Disney again showing that they’re the experts in packing the grief into 2 hours of kids’ entertainment. Take one perfect, beautiful, loving family…and then KILL THEM OFF!!! 

 
So, boom, Mummy goes…and I cry. Then dad…and I cry. Then the king…and I cry. And then I cry at the happy ever after end, just for good measure. I was emotionally wrung out by the time stepped out into the light of the afternoon. 

It’s half term next week and I’ve sort of suggested a trip to the cinema to Boo and Noodles to off-set the agony of shopping. Except now I’m scared. Life is being enough of an emotional wreck at the minute, I’m not sure I can handle cinematic stresses on top. The Moomins should be a safe bet though right? Nothing happens to the Moomins, surely! 

  

Please let nothing bad happen to the Moomins, otherwise I can’t be held responsible for my reaction. If there’s a tsunami of tears reported across Norfolk next week at least you’ll know why. Could somebody pass the Kleenex?

The Ego Has Crash-Landed: The Degeneration of a Night Out with How-Old

It’s a bank holiday weekend, so it was deemed a good idea to have a (selected) staff night out. Eating is always a great idea. Drinking with banging music less so. I’m at the age where a top tune comes on and the realisation strikes that everyone else is dancing ironically. I hate those people.

So, faced with a queue to get into a shitty bar where once again I wouldn’t a) recognise the tunes and b) be able to hear the conversation, I called it a night and bailed. (The joy of not needing a taxi! Town might be shit, but it’s my town.)

So, instead of indulging in overpriced drinks served by someone I could’ve feasibly given birth to, I’ve come home to a hot toasted muffin (who needs cheesy chips?) and solace in How-Old.

Up until tonight I was loving the app. When you’re 40, but ‘analytics’ put you at 27 it’s going to be your new bff.

  
27?! I’m taking it!

Ok, in group shots it’s less generous. None of us came out favourably in our works picture.

  
Poor old Shaz didn’t even merit facial recognition!!!

And to be honest, sometimes it’s off by a mile.

  
A) I was hoping to compare myself with my sister.

B) the ’75-year-old’ in the picture is a kid!!!

But, I thought, as I headed out the door for some fraternising with the youth of the town, how will staying up past my bedtime affect me? Alcohol and late nights are not my friend!!!

At the start of the evening I was judged to be an optimistic 28.

   

Waiting in the queue for said saddo bar the ironic-I-swear-and-yet-I’d-probably-be-better-off-NOT-pouting-cos-of-wrinkles drunk selfie aged me by 6 years – I was now 34.

 

My friend is actually younger than me by several years though, so ouch!

Still, I was definitely feeling more than those 34 years as I waited in line very definitely without the need for ID amongst a throng clutching their driving licences. 
What I didnt quite expect was the end-of-the-night shot. Walking home and climbing into a darkened room suddenly made me 81!!!

  
Which probably says more than enough about the effects of two shared bottles of prosecco and more vodka than is wise. I wonder what my hangover judgment will be, or do I really really not want to know?!?!

Footprints in my Heart

Some people come into our lives and quickly go, while others stay and leave footprints in our hearts and we are never the same

Today was meant to be a happy post. The second part of Paying it Forward. I was meant to feel all elated, having spread unexpected happiness and joy. How very un-British. It was meant to be awesome.

It wasn’t.
A friend is dying.

I ugly cried into Teflon Man’s jumper. I then spent the morning trying not to cry at my friend, instead trying to be terribly British and stiff-upper-lipped, and strong for him as he sat in his chair, a yellow shadow of his usual self. All I wanted to do was puddle into a pool of tears. I’m rubbish at being British. But he was being so pragmatic and accepting that it would have been self-indulgent to sob about all that’s now not to be. So we cracked lame jokes that fooled no one. But there are no words.

His body is broken and my heart is in pieces.

He’s already using the past tense. 

The Pay It Forward biscuits can wait until next week. Today is for my friend, whose footsteps will forever foxtrot in my heart.

  

Water World

If the Gluestick family was to have a motto it would have to be:

If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. If it IS broke probably still don’t fix it because it will just lead to other things.

And not good things like, ‘Great, we’ve got the new windows in but we’ll have to redecorate!’ or ‘That’s central heating installed, let’s redecorate!’ or ‘The kitchen re-model looks amazing, let’s get the oven installed and enjoy our Pinterest-worthy lifestyle!’
No. More like ‘It’s about time we redecorated the living room. Oh, look, the plaster’s come off with the wallpaper and look at that gaping hole in the floor through to the cellar after pulling up the carpet!’ (True story.)

  
Yep, we’re always best off just leaving things alone and then living without forever. Things like a dishwasher or tumble dryer or central heating. (When we tried to get that one fixed they told us our whole system had been installed the opposite way to conventional systems and it would therefore cost double to fix. We left it. Warmth is so over-rated.)

So this week we had to decide whether or not we could possibly live without hot water as the immersion heater broke. The look on Teflon Man’s face told us that would be a no. 

I could have just called up the favourite plumber from work. Reliable, capable and not a rip-off merchant, it could have been sorted by the next day. 

But, no. Because Grandy is a hands-on sort of bloke he could get it sorted himself. Although not that night because the big chain DIY stores assume that no one uses such out-dated methods of water-heating (they have a point) so no longer stock immersion heaters. We know this because Grandy spent the evening trawling the big chain DIY stores and explaining to staff that it’s like a giant kettle element that goes in the hot water tank, when his request met with blank stares.

But, by the next evening he’d managed to track down a new immersion heater. It only took a visit to five specialist plumbing merchants. (I didn’t even know our town had five specialist plumbing merchants.) 

It wasn’t that easy though. 

For one thing, a washer was missing. Sort of essential, the washer. So it was back to the specialist plumbing merchant. Actually, it was back to three of the specialist plumbing merchants. It turns out washers aren’t held in stock, but have to be ordered in specially. I’m not sure whether it’s because of space issues, what with them being small flat rings of rubber, or the cost implications of holding stock of any quantity of a product that retails at 34p per unit.

  
Sheesh.

Luckily someone had ordered in a washer, but Grandy managed to negotiate it for himself. 

48 hours after We’vegotnowatergate we had hot water again. Grandy then discovered that actually the new immersion unit had contained a washer all along – it had just got stuck to the bottom of the box.

But we also had a bigger problem. But of course.

Venturing into the cellar to turn the water off, Grandy couldn’t help but notice that the pipe connected to the mains was leaking in the cellar. Well, it was hard not to notice as it was a) spurting quite vociferously and b) had partly flooded the cellar.

‘I’m not fixing it tonight,’ he announced. As the flood was draining out the front of the house and, pfft, it’s not like we actually use the cellar for anything other than storage of crap we’d otherwise need a skip to get rid of because none of us are either dwarves (the ceiling’s quite height-limited) nor keen to hang out with spiders (and potentially a ghost baby) we weren’t that concerned. We live with probably hazardous electrics and a gas oven that was hooked up in the dark ages, so on the list of The House Could Probably Kill Us subterranean flooding wasn’t a particular emergency. We all shrugged and went to bed.

Actually it took another two days to get the flood sorted. Make that two days, one baffled Chinese man roused from his Saturday morning lie-in so Grandy could turn the mains water off (except he couldn’t because you need a special tool to turn it off, so make that one baffled Chinese man roused for no reason) and many many many swear words. At least it’s merely seeping now, rather than spurting, which in our world is as good as it gets.

Perfect time then for the kitchen sink to become blocked then.

 
That’s  after the application of sink unblocker. Looks like the wrench will be coming out again tomorrow. May God have mercy on our souls!

  

Bad Vibrations

I wake up to rumblings. Not Teflon Man snoring, but rather the engine of the Number 6 bus to Hardwick Sainsbury’s waiting to pick up prospective early-morning shoppers from outside our house. The bed literally vibrates. And not in a good way. As if anything that happens before the alarm could ever be a good thing. Worse, it started at 6.51 on Saturday with the 505 to Spalding. 6.51am! On a Saturday! WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK?! 

What’s especially concerning is that I sleep in a back bedroom so those vibrations are literally reverberating throughout the house.

Mercifully it’s not a permanent set up. The local bus station is being re-vamped. Which in itself is no bad thing. In my early twenties the thing that depressed me most about being back in my home town was the hell of the bus station. The ugliness of the design – just bleugh. Although at least it matched the souls of the travellers, with their mosh pit mentality when it came to boarding as though they were, en masse, queue-phobic. 

Nearly 20 years later the Council have come to the same thinking as me. Although, whereas I’d have simply employed someone to herd them into queueing pens with cattle prods the Council decided that a reconfiguration of the stops would suffice.

But nothing comes without a price, and our price is putting up with the relocated temporary bus stops on our doorsteps for 3 months. 



Three months! That’s approximately 91 rumbly rude awakenings. And, to be honest, I take to mornings badly enough as it is. After 3 months of rattling starts it’ll probably be best if no one talks to me until at least 11.30am. And then, only if bringing me food or coffee.

Worse, the engines aren’t turned off for any stop between around 7.30am and 8.00pm. That’s approximately…not so quick bit of maths…5,304 times my house will shake and my nerves will fray before they move back to the shiny new station in June.

Lets just accept that I may not be accountable for my actions at some point. And I am willing to use this blog as evidence for my defence in court if need be.

*  *  *  *  * 

I doze off at night to further rumblings. Not the buses this time, but angry words through the walls and ceiling as Eve and her boyfriend bicker their way through another disagreement.

Yelling, swearing, doors slamming, objects crashing. More reverberations, this time with added recriminations. Ah, just what’s needed when trying to settle the kids down to sleep.

You would hope the situation would be temporary – that they’d sort their differences out and learn to argue in a more mature, less volatile way…or at least argue in the same passive-aggressive way that the rest of us use to battle things out. Surely it’s got to be better to have bite-marks on your tongue than cracks in the walls? (Cracks in a relationship, however, come whichever way you slice it, it seems.)

*  *  *  *  *

Meanwhile I’m tired yet tense and wishing that the house would stop shaking. I know it won’t last forever…but I fear you might find me sitting on a pile of rubble where once our house stood waving a white flag before then.