Category Archives: Family Life

Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head

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I don’t know if you have noticed but it has been raining a lot lately? Anyone? Anyone?

Well of course you have! And so have I. Notice is hardly the right word. More like constant drizzle peppered by exciting and dangerous bouts of Armageddon. Mixed with more hail and then odd mini-hurricane.

Getting to The Job That Never Lets Up has been challenging, to say the least. Today, for example, I got up at the un-Godly hour of 5am – this is necessary because a) Sussex is sinking therefore I have to drive uphill all the way and it takes longer b) Bob Crow has not yet been assassinated by the members of London TravelWatch so cannot be trusted not to call a wildcat strike over the lack of pork scratchings available in the staff vending machines and c) SouthEastern trains simply stop working if so much as a badger’s pube drops onto one of their tracks. Since I am at the somewhat rural end of the line, the badgers have no truck with “badger tunnels” under the railway and insist on dropping their trolleys and depilating their striped behinds wherever and whenever they like. So the trains don’t run. Cheers Brock!

Anyhoo….so got up, splashed water half-heartedly about my person, jumped in Keith (my Mini – named ‘cos he’s bang tidy) and headed up the A21 only to be blocked by a fallen tree somewhere around Bewl. A swift swerve off down the lanes and around the back of Goudhurst to score a crafty “in from the side” was a bold but ultimately fruitless move – the road was further blocked by the river splurging its entrails everywhere.

Finally got to Tonbridge via Aberdeen and the East Coast and managed to sling Keith into a handy passing ditch – marked out car park spaces having disappeared several weeks ago so one simply has to pick one’s chosen rut in the overpriced concrete and hope for the best. I kid you not. So I got on a train.

After a scuffle and a bit of a set to with the guard who wanted to evict me mid-eyeliner from First Class (entered stubbornly because I was buggered if I was going to stand all the way to London), we agreed that he was a Knobjockey with a capital K and I am quite clearly a menopausal old bat. After that, we actually got on quite well and ended up having quite a good chat ūüėĄ – El Guardiola loves gardening and doesn’t know what’s happened to respect and common courtesy these days. After what I called him in the heat of the eyeliner moment, frankly I have to agree.

Anyway – eventually got into work so that made me today’s super trooper – please send medal and gold star in the post! Settled down to the normal tense politics and inter-departmental strife and then – get a text “Don’t cum home!!!” from a well-meaning if slightly over-dramatic friend.

Eh? Who? What? Oh….I’ve still got half a biscuit left. These were the initial thoughts that limped across my tired brain. Then the fog cleared and I realised it could mean only one thing…trouble ont trains.

Several hours later, having established that yes, there is quite a bad storm going on in Ye Olde Sussex and yes, there are trees down on the main line and no, it probably won’t be sorted out by tonight or by 5AM tomorrow when this unhappy experience expects to repeat itself groundhog-stylie …. So….Here I am. In a cheap hotel. Alone and with only a stale Pret yoghurt for my tea.

One has to ask…is the Government aware of this hidden distress behind their inability to hire Joe the River Dredger? Granted my house is not knee deep in watery sewage but there are many forms of personal misery and this exhausting attempt to commute each day is one of them. Are the politicians aware of the families forcefully separated this evening by the economic need to turn up to work while the means to get there continues to erode daily? Have they ever had the “Late again Stratton!” eyebrow raise from their superior as I slope in still swapping my flatties for heels at just before 11am? The raise that says there’ll be no raise this year. Or bonus. Or family holidays therefore. The hidden cost of flooding.

Will it only be when Westminster itself and many sleepy members of the House of Lords are 6 inches deep in water with a coating of kebab fat on top that anyone will begin to act?

Who knows? I’m honestly too tired to think about it. I know there are many much much worse off than me and I do sympathise greatly – it must be terrible to see your assets and possessions slowly ruined by the creep of water but….come on people! This is me, for Chrissakes!! I don’t do struggle and difficulty – I only do comfort and ease. I’d be the first to evacuate to the nearest spa in any form of emergency. Especially if it looked like it might mess up my hair. Manning up in a crisis relies very much on personal coping limits. Mine are, admittedly, lower than the average.

All I know tonight is that staying in a hotel without the Man-Hog or the Mini-Pigs is dead boring. Abandoning Keith in a station furrow feels very wrong and I want to report myself to ChildLine for Mini-abuse. And eating stale yoghurt as my main meal of the day is utter pants.

Humph.

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Wake Up and Smell the Holiday….

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In a life filled with work and family responsibilities, it is easy sometimes to forget the simple things. The down times that make all the hard work worthwhile. The reasons why you wanted the mortgage and to build a family of your own in the first place.

These past few days have been a rediscovery exercise. An interlude of fun and relaxation in the hustle and bustle of daily life when I have tried to stop and smell the flowers. Not actually, obviously – I mean, no-one has time to do that!

It began last Friday when I gave up the day job for a couple of days to head back to my sailing roots. I was asked to help out with the launching and display of the Team GB yacht entry into the Clipper Round the World race 13-14. Being there on this gorgeous new racing yacht plumped slap bang in the middle of Trafalgar Square – an amazing sight – was a privilege and an absolute pleasure. I spent two days meeting and greeting thousands of people who crossed that famous London square and introducing them to my love of the boat, the race experience and the legacy of sailing that catches all who take part and never lets go. Four years on from my own exciting voyage across the Atlantic, my enthusiasm for it is still undiminished, although two whole days of smiling and chatting has left me with lock-jaw and a need for Botox around the crow’s feet. I would leave with this year’s crew to set off around the globe on this mad race in an absolute heartbeat, if only I could. Ah! Jealous? Me? Abso-bloody-lutely!

Anyway. Having had that lovely catch-up with old crew and Clipper pals, including the brave and wonderful Rachel about to set off for a seven month sojourn in Switzerland before joining me back here for our Coast to Coast walking challenge next April (!), I moved on to some even older friends and a lovely Sunday in the country.

I have known these two particular good buddies since the heady days of our times together in investment banking in Canary Wharf. Many a lunch hour was whiled away setting the world to rights over curly fries and a bottle or two of fizz – would be totally frowned upon in these days of austerity and belt-tightening but in the mid-90s it was all completely normal behaviour.

Without them, I would have been an even worse employee than I have eventually turned out to be! They saved me, nurtured me, made me a better person and we will be – I have no doubt – lifelong friends. Babies, annoying and inconvenient health issues and my stubborn refusal to lie down and live quietly will never affect our close bond. We meet rarely, owing to geography and intruding life, but when we do it is as if we have not been apart in the interim. We can, literally, talk for England.

So having finally got our diaries synchronised, we all met up close to our home in Sussex at a bizarre and eclectic pub called The Bell at Ticehurst that we had been recommended to try. As it turned out, it is a great pub with a friendly atmosphere but, sadly for us, not a marvellous restaurant for a big group of chattering people. The quirkiness of the staff and surroundings palled quite quickly when faced with cold plates, wrong orders and slow and eccentric service. The men folk that accompanied us to lunch returned bemused at having had to pee literally into a trombone – an experience the Man-Hog described in excruciating detail later that day. Ew. Nevertheless, it was a lovely – if expensive and slightly weird – day with our friends and we shall just have to re-group at a better researched venue next time!

The following day was family day. A fab, sunny morning meant it would be rude not to hit the beach in some form. That beach turned out to be Deal in Kent. Via a brief stop in Sandwich. It was a treat to be out with the kids all day. I call them kids but, of course, one of them is not really. I sometimes hyperventilate at the thought of the Teen’s impending adulthood – come November she can legally get locked in at a pub without me! So these days spent all together are all the more precious because of their rarity and their approaching end. How much longer can I realistically expect her to hang out with her old Ma? Burying your Mini-Pig sibling up to his neck in beach stones will not appeal forever – although when he is annoying her it is ALL she wants to do!

A flying visit to the Isle of Wight by ferry and some exciting Colin McRae driving in the Mini ended our travelling days out – they know how to do a cream tea on that island. Devon and Cornwall – beware!

Some final shopping with the Teen and a sprinkling of CVs around neighbourhood in her continuing search for the Lesser Spotted Saturday job completed a relaxing and enjoyable week. Tomorrow I go back to work – ugh. But just for a while there, it was nice to do – and think about – practically nothing at all…..

ūüôā

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It’s a Funny Old Game….

It has been a strange few weeks here at Pig Central. Having never really been at home for more than a week at a time during the whole of my adult life, I suddenly found myself thrust firmly into a weird new world of family life – together with inordinate amounts of unexpectedly free time.

Firstly, let me say I have enjoyed it. I have loved being here to make breakfast for everyone. I have really loved being here when the Mini Pig gets home from school: that fresh air smell that fills his hair and the increased noise level from the minute he enters the front door – precious moments. I have laughed aloud at the Teen and her mates as they loll around snacking after college and telling me all the gossip and funny bits. I have even enjoyed the slightly bemused by it all presence of the Man Hog – all day, every day. We’ve had a lot of fun and too many pub lunches – in between the barbed banter!

What I have realised however is:

A) Staying at home will, in my particular case, lead to diabetes, morbid obesity and eventual death. Fact. All I do is bake. Endless buns, brownies, batter-based goodies and all manner of sweet homely treats. Fantastic, some would say. But this is far from the truth. There is no consistency: said baking veers wildly from the sublime to the completely inedible. It’s anybody’s guess how some of it will turn out. I’ve produced a bun whose surface was not unlike the face of Barack Obama – go figure? Maybe a dodgy oeuf? Who knows? I’ve also produced a batch of brownies that were so hideously vile the Man Hog actually retched as he tasted one. When it’s good, I devour more than I should. When it’s bad, I devour it anyway because no-one else will and it would be a shameful waste of ingredients if it went straight in the bin. This has to stop. I must step away from the baking. And the eating!

B) If I continue to stay here, I am well and truly under the Man Hog’s feet. I inadvertently perch in “his” corner of the sofa. I tut openly when he sneaks in from the garden for a round of Hobbit-Second-Breakfast toast. I am in the kitchen cooking or ironing something when he wants to wash his shoes in the sink (a filthy habit I knew nothing about until now). The home, at least during daylight hours, has been his personal fiefdom for over ten years now. And he wants it back. Sans moi!

C) I simply cannot afford to stay at home. I see too much that needs to be done: repainting the ancient crumbly windows or, failing that, replacing same crumbly windows; a new kitchen; a complete garden overhaul; painting everything inside and then buying/making/stealing the necessary soft furnishings to go with….the list goes on and on. The Man Hog scoots away like a whipped puppy with his tail between his legs when I start any conversation with “Do you think you could just…..” I find myself chasing him from room to room with my prioritised snagging list while he harrumphs and insists he needs to check the oil in the car. The iPad glows a sickly red with the sheer strain of all the bookmarking I have done on the John Lewis and Dulux websites. I had less time before now to notice the endless decay that accompanies owning an old house but now…I see it all. It’s a little bit like Steve Austin, the bionic man….it is a house barely alive. But Gentlemen –
we can rebuild him. Or knock the bugger down and start again? Actually….put that on the snag list: New house.

D) I have discovered I’m unable to relax and am therefore not very relaxing to be around. After years of work, deadlines, ego massaging and deftly managing my own usually very limited time I now find this lack of structure means I simply cannot sit still. We went on holiday right at the start of the redundancy and that was fine – away from home I cannot meddle or control or tidy and so all is well. Back home: all bets are off. I’m literally driving the family bonkers – I think the Man Hog may even have developed a slight tic.

E) I actually need to work. The most soul-searing and honest thing that has come out of all of this is that I truly do love my family to distraction, but….without a job I am rootless. Surplus to my own requirements. Pointless. I truly like going to work and most of the time, I’m quite good at it. Staying at home – it’s a really tough job fraught with constant decision making and the potential to fail at the most basic of tasks.

So I have taken another job – a tougher one than the last and for less money, with longer hours, sporting an unknown group of people to try to win over. Daunting? Yes! Scared? A bit. Swap it for permanent retirement? Not on your nelly!

Call me a monster but I have come to the conclusion that I am a better wife, mother, friend, sister or whatever I am simply for going to work. It’s what I know. It’s what I do. It’s my function, my contribution, my commitment to the life we have built. More importantly, it’s what the family knows I do. It defines me for myself and for them. Without it, I am genuinely uncomfortable. So I’m off to do it all again – with the family’s blessing.

And……hopefully…..I’ll relax!

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Urgent Need to Push Back

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I am looking for a new job at the moment and – boy – have things changed since the last time I dated recruiters way back in the late 90s.

I don’t know if it is the anonymity of on-line recruitment ads but something seems to make it OK for these agents of job selection to descend into utter drivel when describing the various roles on offer. Perhaps it is just me getting old and crotchety but honestly? I am up to here with their bullcrap already and I’ve only just started the process.

One of today’s particularly special on-line ads includes a job whose key criteria isn’t a firm command of the Queen’s English or years of valuable experience but “a sense of urgency”. Really? I have that when I need to pee but I’m seeing a doctor about it. No-one has ever expected me to exude it from behind my desk. Sounds awful.

Come to think of it, I don’t actually know how one would display urgency while sitting down? Should I crease up my forehead to indicate inner urgency in action? Wouldn’t I just look like I have a severe case of irritable bowel?

I’m intrigued by what this phrase actually means in a work environment. Does it mean grabbing one’s computer mouse in a swift ninja-like move before double-clicking furiously for no apparent – yet clearly urgent – reason. Or frantically taking down super fast telephone messages before the caller has had a chance to actually state their business? “Get on with it, caller, it’s urgent!” Should I sprint, bearing said message, into the principal’s office, fire it into his face then back heel out as swiftly as I entered? Or do I just shout “Yes sir! On it!” each time he utters a single word? Hmmm. I don’t think I fully comprehend this particular criteria.

Similarly with this one. The “ability to push back”? WTH? I can push around, push forwards, push through, Pushy Galore and Push in Boots – do they count? Push back has vaguely disturbing sexual connotations which have no place in a job ad. Laid back. Comatose. Static. These I do with ease. But “push back”. I have no idea what that means.

So, dear recruitment people, please please please dispense with phrases found somewhere up your own back passages during a pushed back lunch hour. They’re not helping anyone and frankly just make me want to click with a sense of urgency on to the next job that makes more sense to me.

Please also refrain from over-using the words “meticulous”, “pro-active”, “can-do” and “polished”. No-one is all of these things all of the time. You cannot, for example, have a sense of urgency whilst remaining polished. The sprinting delivery of messages alone would mess up my hair and is not conducive to the smooth application of eyeliner. Neither can you push back while remaining pro-active – that’s basically going nowhere and sitting on the fence isn’t it? Surely you’re paying me too much to be so indecisive?

Here’s a draft of a job ad I would like to see:

Person wanted who is not a complete numpty, has no emotional problems or nervous tics, doesn’t eat smelly food in the office and actually wants to turn up to work. Someone who likes a pint when work is finished on a Friday night and is a good giggle at the Christmas do. Someone who gets on with it, doesn’t whinge and realises what’s what. Someone with common sense and a right good belly laugh. A person we realise is here predominantly because we are paying you and who has no unrealistic expectations of Utopian employment or Elysian fields. An all round good egg. Please send CV.

There. Honest. To the point. I’d apply. Wouldn’t you?

Photo credit: http://jobsandcareersmag.com

Gandhi and the Mental Middle Finger

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“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” Mahatma Gandhi

My son is a legend. Seriously. He should get a medal, an award or some sort of formal recognition. There should be a national holiday in his name. On that holiday, everyone can choose to ignore anything they don’t wish to hear that is said to them. Everyone may adopt selective deafness and persistent apologising. No-one needs to worry about modifying their behaviour. National Ignore Day will have been born. Hallmark will probably make a card you can buy for that. Or they’ll simply ignore it??

The Mini Pig is not so mini now so I sometimes have to be cross with him. It is allowed. The puppy dog eyes no longer tear up when I am forced to mildly tear a strip off him. He no longer cuddles as much as he did when he was little so I won’t miss those so much when he withholds them after I tell him off. For the same thing. Again. And again. And again.

Is it me? Is it too much to have asked for – ooh – going on two years or more now for him NOT to drop his used boxers and clothes in a heap shoved behind his bedroom door? Am I unreasonable to ask him NOT to have lights in two rooms plus a TV, PlayStation, PC for Facebook and my iPad for Lord knows what purpose ALL switched on at the same time? The poor leccy meter is dizzy with the amount and speed of revolutions it is expected to make of an evening. I am positively hyperventilating at the size of the bills it decides I should pay!

Mini Pig has heard the nice requests. I know he has because I sat him down for those.

He has heard the firm but still fair plea to his better nature (global warming for the leccy usage, rats and dust allergies for the tip that is his room, mum’s time and energy spent cleaning up after him and in fruitless nagging). I know he heard because I sat him down with the Man Hog present as a witness for those ones.

He has heard the stern and not remotely amused threats of property removal from his possession. He has witnessed me physically carrying out those threats. He has absorbed my screaming ab dabs like a parched sponge and stoically accepted he needs to find some other entertainment until I deem him punished sufficiently enough to return the goods. Having previously secured his solemn promise to do what I ask.

And then he ignores me. Legendary.

How many times can one over-stressed woman ask a boy to change out of his uniform after school so it does not end up with whatever that night’s meal is all down it? Vanish is great but until they invent “Miracle” or a tree that grows new school shirts overnight there will still be hints of stainage and I can’t have that, OCD about it as I am.¬†How often can one small almost teen say sorry so convincingly and then KEEP ON DOING IT!!! AAAGGGHHH! *pause for necessary deep breathing and ohm noises*

Yet if the Man Hog and I happen to be chatting about anything to do with him or his sister or anything mildly of interest from behind closed doors an entire floor away, young Bat Flaps can hear all that OK! If I go into the kitchen and stealthily ease open a cupboard for a sneaky Malteser, again from a whole floor away, there he is! Like a starving rabid dog with the hearing of a hungry hawk. If I’m wrapping a present locked away somewhere with seven doors between me and him, he’ll tune his sonar into the rustle of paper and come looking for the source.

Nothing actually wrong with the hearing then. Nor the brain functionality – passing all tests with flying colours at school. Well, except for DT but he has small hands – it’s not easy making a shed with those. Be fair.

How do you get through to someone whose capacity to ignore you is greater than your patience to deal with him? How do you handle a kid you love more than life, but who is without a doubt sticking his mental middle finger up at you?¬†I am trying to be all Gandhi about it – slowly, slowly catchy monkey, patience is a virtue, he’ll get it eventually and all that. But the slowness is more likely to send me head first into a vat of sloe gin before he ever conforms.

I am seriously considering some form of training. Apparently for gun dogs and guide dogs, they reprogramme the dog’s brain during a four week breaking session. It involves a lot of lemon juice up the snout and a bit of ear pinching, I believe. But I would do that – if it meant he would listen to me, do the very small things I ask like “Rinse your toothpaste spit, please” or “Please don’t leave your shin pads under the cushions so I get goosed every time I sit down“. If it meant he would eat all his meals from a bowl on the kitchen floor too (less food on the clothes?), well there’s a bonus right there.

Now then……who’s got the number for a decent Dog Whisperer? Whoever it is, I bet they won’t whisper quite like me. At the top of my lungs with a wooden spoon at the ready to carve out my own eye sockets from the sheer frustration! Maybe I should just go the old fashioned route – a hissed directive and a sharp poke in his little porcine buttocks with a cattle prod? No?

OK, so……Any other suggestions before I sell him for medical experiments? I soooooo would, you know.

Quote credit to: http://www.brainyquote.com

Picture credit: http://www.punjabigraphics.com

Snoring, Boring and Foot Fetishes

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So I haven’t written a blog in a while – apologies to any who may have missed my inane ramblings. There is therapy available on the NHS and you should probably take advantage of that.

Here’s the thing. I read somewhere that most general chit-chat and drivel bloggers such as myself get to around a year or so of blogging and then start inhaling the fatal smog of ennui, lethargy and deflation. Having been all puffed up with ourselves and our witty twitterings, we then discover that we’ve promptly and – in my case – quite unexpectedly run out of steam. Or the desire to write. Or the time. Whatever. The cold hard fact is we’re blog-blocked and it is nigh on impossible to get started again.

That has certainly been my experience. Somewhere around Oktoberfest 2012 – when most sane people were drowning in beer and oompah-pa – I began imbibing the salty liquor of my own stale ideas. I began, in essence, to bore myself. Neither a hurdy-gurdy man nor a glut of men in lederhosen could drag a blog post out of me.

“How can this be?” I hear you cry. “Such wit! Such talent!” Well yes, dear reader, obviously *rolls eyes*. Yet despite believing all my own press AND having an ego twice the size of Rosemary Schrager’s pre-jungle left thigh, I had hit a blog wall and HAD NOTHING MUCH TO SAY!! *cue horrific screaming and folk everywhere hiding their heads in their pinnies*

Distraction from this disturbing realisation occurred in the form of home improvements – multiple and far too expensive. The world famous WOM room is now fully operational at around the cost of a small LearJet. We experience severe dehydration and inertia every time we actually light the 11.5KW woodburning stove. We heat not only our home, but most of the village as we have to open all the windows in order to get rid of the smell of our own roasting flesh. It can linger so. Banners have appeared on lamp posts screeching “No Public Incinerator in Our Village!”. Sooooo dramatic. Many otherwise productive hours have been lost in warmth-induced comas and partaking in several jolly long and surprisingly intimate talks with the Man-Hog over a glass of rapidly mulling (of its own accord) wine. TV or noise of any kind that does not suit me has been banned from the WOM. The children enter and feel compelled to converse – using the real and proper Queen’s English instead of grunting. I think they secretly like it – all that undisturbed parental focus? Got to be character-building. They’ve even had their friends round to hang out in the WOM – subject to special permission.

One unexpected and truly exciting benefit has been the dearth of slugs coming up through the ancient and crusty floorboards – or the 2013 home improvement project as I like to refer to them. Yes, tis true. Lamentably the slugs do not like this newly tropical sitting room and have decamped somewhere else. I fully expect to find a coven of them lurking in the somewhat cooler utility room planning a sneak slime attack on us for ruining their fun. Ugh.

On the family front, further distraction from the Big Issue of blog-constipation was to be had in the form of Teen Pig, Man-Hog and Mrs Pig’s birthdays. Followed by a couple of significant milestone ones in our wider family in December. Too much carousing and general whoopee around such moments resulted in a severe case of gout/trench foot/trotter-rot in the Man-Hog and his inability to wear shoes. Anti-Crocs in any form as we are – truly a footwear abomination whose inventor should have been drowned at birth – the poor old MH has been slapping about in flip flops throughout most of the recent cold and very wet weather. Feet that were merely sore are now also chilblained, purple and sporting slightly beveled edges. If you thought he had gone hippie, think again. I can assure you there is nothing remotely zen about him. The only part of being a hippie he would embrace would be the free love aspect and, frankly, by the time he’s lurched in his awkward lopsided gait- cussing and sweating – towards you, you will want to charge him for embracing anything – bugger free! All I know is the fallout of such foot flinching was me forced to attend a festive dinner dance without him – any attempt to shoehorn him into his dress shoes would only have landed him in hospital – and as a result I was the self-styled victim of far too much rum and way too many Jaegerbombs without the aid of my warder to carry me home. The hangover was legendary – even for me. I have been told I lay catatonic in the WOM for almost three days. Excellent role model and citizen. Not.

Christmas and New Year were a blur of flu, bronchitis, sickness, missed events, events we wished we’d missed and ones we somehow managed to completely forget about altogether. Various folk came of age, failed to act their age and in my case, denied age even as a concept.

So – that was then. Now what’s old pigletinapoke blog going to do in 2013? Shut down? Or continue? And does anyone except me really care? We shall see. I shall be checking the stats on this highly boring yet “momentous in its mere appearance” post to see if anyone out there still reads it after my prolonged absence. And just as a teaser, my next post will describe in excruciating detail just how ridiculous my working life has become. Until the next time……..

 

The Weight-Loss to Home Improvement Correlation Theory

For the past few weeks I have been doing the Cambridge Weight Loss Plan. This was all sparked by my friend Sue – now forever know as “Non-Starter” for her immediate abandonment of the idea in the first week! – who thought we should both drop a few bags of sugar from our hips before the start of the new netball season. I gamely went along with it. I did not weep at the thought of twice – nay, sometimes thrice! – daily shakes or freshly-shat slurry masquerading as low-calorie soup. Nor have I moaned at the consumption of more lettuce leaves than a hutch full of fat lardy bunnies. No, stalwart that I truly am, I have just got on with it.

Five weeks in, the Man-Hog has just noticed that I slip easily through doorways and have to avoid storm drains more carefully these days lest I descend through the bars into the low-calorie soup below. Relief then – at least the old fella doesn’t need new specs just yet. Possibly a nursing home specialising in slow cognitive decline? But not new specs. Money saved – KERCHINNNNGGG!

Which is just as well really as I appear to have spent the national debt of Greece in a flurry of home improvements which appear to be directly correlated to the number of pounds I have lost. 15 DIY projects on the go at the last count. The main thrust has centred around creating the “WOM Room” as the Teen Pig has named it. WOM stands for “waste of money” – her principal beef being me squandering her potential inheritance on unnecessary structural alterations and the DFS sale. Such naivety! She doesn’t yet know I plan to blow every last bit on fast living and hard liquor before I shuffle off this planet. She’ll work it out eventually.

On Friday night, I sat in the WOM room for the first time, leaving barely a dent in my new cushions, lighter by degrees as I am each day at present *smug smile*. The WOM room is not yet finished – there’s still the installation of a ludicrously expensive woodburning stove, and the purchase of a decent reading lamp and a set of cast iron tongs to tweak my logs with.

Incomplete as it may be, this is no WOM. This is most definitely womb for me. No TV noise. No beeping of phones. No yelling. No mess and general stickiness. Come to think of it, no reason to be in here unless I invite you! The rest of the family have their own spaces for doing all the things they like to do. All I have ever had is the bed (sad) or the loo (sadder). This, then, is a proper, grown-up room for me to read in, listen to music in and have jolly mates round to. The stove will warm my seemingly permanently frozen cockles, heat will drift up the stairs and hopefully lower my gas bills releasing more money for shoes.

The House of Pig is slowly coming together. Mrs Pig is shrinking altogether. Non-Starter Sue has lost no weight whatsoever. Everyone is happy. Except the Teen worried about her own personal poverty following my clearly imminent demise. Selfish moo. But I do have to thank her for the WOM/womb idea – without those Pigs there’d be no blogs at all really.

Alas Poor Washer, I Knew Him Well…

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Alas, I am awash with washing. Piles of the stuff lurking in every nook and cranny of the house. Staring at me reproachfully as I bravely try to ignore and rise above the trauma that is my washing machine and tumble dryer both going kaput on the same day, within an hour of each other. I wish this was a tragically romantic tale of white goods love played out in the utility room; that in the end, after years spent together, Tumble simply couldn’t continue living without Washer and shuffled off her electrical coil to join him.

Unfortunately I think it has more to do with their mutual chokings on gargantuan-sized helpings of the Man-Hog’s Calvin Kleins. Exhaustion and eventual mechanical death brought on by the sheer volume (and sweatiness) of Chelsea and FC Barcelona footy kits. The used socks alone are enough to induce coma in the strongest kitchen gadget, let alone poor old frail and past-its-best Washer.

It’s times like these that my passion for all things John Lewis borders on stalking. I avidly pore through their website, lusting frantically (and frankly unrealistically) after the shiny mechanical washing problem-solvers they have on display there. Having made my choice and licked the screen picture in delight, I lurk around their free delivery page, waiting for the perfect slot to come up for me to meet the green-liveried delivery man who will restore my much-missed laundry life. Not to mention that whole “Never Knowingly Undersold” thing they have going on. I love that tag-line so much I have been known to drop it into conversation in All Bar One on a Friday night after work. It’s a life mantra actually – I’d never knowingly undersell myself. Ever. Overegging and clinical arrogance is probably nearer my mark.

So I sit and watch now as the clock tick-tocks its clicky little tune towards my 2PM-9PM slot. I won’t be there to receive my new utilitarian family members – no silver-tongued delivery spiel coming my way due to work commitments – but have instructed the Man-Hog on pain of death to call me the instant they arrive. After a week without tub-rub, rinse and anti-crease cycles, I am frantic with the need to hear him load over-ripe towels into my shiny new drum. I ache for the ripping sound of the lid of the washing tablets container. I close my eyes and sigh – ecstatic as I imagine the glug-glug of the fabric softener into my pristine new dispenser drawer…..and then there’s the drying to be done….oh my!

Really must get out more!

Photo credit: http://missionsite.net

John Lewis PLC and the “Never Knowingly Undersold” are used purely for entertainment purposes, neither the author nor this blog has any official association with the company whatsoever. So don’t sue me. Please.

Parenting: Old Navy Stylie

We have a favourite film in our house – well, at least the Man-Hog and I do. It is “The Bounty”, the 1984 version starring Mel Gibson and Anthony Hopkins. The Man-Hog admires all the stiff upper lips of stout, loyal serving men (not so loyal as it turns out) in difficult circumstances and, of course, the ripe Polynesian women. I covertly ogle the young and as yet untainted-by-booze-and-unfortunate-rantings Mel Gibson from behind my firmly gripped cushion, replete in all his fine-fettled youth and breeches-clad glory. Mmmm.

Anyway, moving swiftly on. The film has many excellent lines and we quote them to each other (because we are sad) and have most recently started using them on the children (because it amuses us).

For example, a whingey-whiney complaint about insufficient pasta content in the week’s dinner menu can be met with “Your comments shall be noted in the log, sir.” A protest against demands to tidy their rooms shall be parried with “Filth, sir! Filthy, Mr Christian! Still filthy! Look!” and the like. Long journeys are not to be negotiated – we have family in the deepest North after all – and complaints are countered with “Around the Horn is the easiest way, the better way, and that is how we will go. Anything more?” as we turn our heads creepily slowly to face them, slitty eyes piercing into their developing skulls and with a firmly overinflated sense of our own superiority.

We’ve stopped short of making them dance for 15 minutes daily under pressure from Social Services, and the only grog on board the good ship “Prancing Piglet” is that consumed by the Man-Hog during a particularly tense episode of “The Real Wives of Orange County”. (He wants one, I am NEVER going to be one.) Nevertheless, the spirit and culture of the Bounty such as seamanlike behaviour, discipline etc. and the Prancing Piglet – more like ill-disguised sarcasm and¬†grog in times of stress – appears to be working. The children are responding and I hope to issue promotions to Lieutenant shortly.

Such¬†parenting ethos does¬†mean that high¬†standards need to¬†be maintained at all times. I’m just off to check the bathroom floor for errant socks and discarded boxer shorts. If I find any, someone will be walking the plank. And I don’t mean taking the Man-Hog out for his daily stroll.

Over and out.

Photo credit: http://filmous.com

School’s OUT???

The Teen Pig has finished school. Finished. Done. Finito. I’m still reeling with the shock of it. Other than a quick drive-by for an exam or two, school has officially ended. I feel like someone came along and dumped my impending old age on my doorstep without even the courtesy of a cheery note. When did this kid get so big? How is she almost ready to face the world of work and start paying her own outrageous mobile phone bill? Time has crept up and found me hopelessly unprepared for such adulthood in the house.

To be fair, the kid is going on to college for a couple of years, so I’m not in my dotage and slippers just yet. Around our part of the country, the Year 11s have to depart school and head to specific Sixth Form Colleges. Hers happens to have spawned such famous worthies as Stella McCartney, Eddie Izzard and Jo Brand. Which is fitting as the Teen is well-dressed, a little bit camp (for a girl) and always very funny. I wish her and all the other Year 11s the very best of luck as they finish those final exams and forge ahead into a summer of utter sloth before the seriousness of A Levels begins in September. Here are a few pics of their last day in which they were actively encouraged to dress up and behave like the toddlers I clearly still think they¬†are.

Costumes included: zombies, traffic cones, cupcakes, the entire Jamaican bobsleigh team and a¬†whole gaggle¬†of Where’s Wally girls – all running amok on school property. An excellent end to a defining era.

The six Avatar girls, including the Teen, took the prize for the Best Costume at the Dress Up Day. Impressive make-up and kudos for sporting lycra all day during the British summer.

Braver still however is George here, courageously rocking the Sucker Punch look and not even in an ironic way.

The Black and White Swans were out to show the others how to strut – en pointe no less! And no, that’s not camera¬†red eye. Such was Hannah’s commitment to the theme, she¬†wore red contact lenses for the day!

A tearful¬†goodbye to the Form Teacher they have had for the past¬†five years. ¬†I’m sure his classroom will be a whole lot quieter now! I can almost feel his shoulders relaxing.

Has anyone noticed that my Teen has her mouth open¬†in every picture? I told you she was noisy. This one……well, aaaaggghhh! to you to.

And finally….a group shot of some of the friends forever at the after party. You go guys – good luck in whatever it is you are going on to. Make Mummy proud!