A Valentine Ditty from She Who Gets None. Ever.

Image

Valentine’s Day, as you know from previous postings, is somewhat of a let-down in the House of Pig. The Man-Hog is a conscientious objector to the one day per year he can be openly and mushily romantic. Every year I suffer the hideousness of being Britain’s Most Unbeloved. Well, I’ve had enough. So I thought I would write my own Valentine poem for all those women who, like me, expect and get nowt!

A Pig Scorned…

Roses are red? Sent by lovers in bliss.

Sod the flowers!” Says the Man-Hog. “I’ll just give her a kiss!

But roses are pretty! “Nah, expensive and boring.

I’ll make us some chips, that’ll send her heart soaring.

Roses are romantic. “Pfsh. A total waste of money.

After all of these years, she knows she’s still my honey.

They tell her I Love You. “Such piffle! No Way!

She gets to live with me – what more can I say?

So before all those florists start counting their chickens

The Man-Hog’s determined to slim down their pickens

He won’t buy a bloom, nor a choc, nor a ring

You can’t tell him when to buy or say anything!

But the last laugh’s on me – Love’s Most Unfêted –

Off to Valentine’s dinner with one I once dated!

Suck on that, Man-Hog! Eat chips by yourself.

Next year I suggest you buy every bloom on the shelf.

(OK so I am not really going on a date with an ex but – come on! – I have to do something to shock him. It’s either this or a well-placed defibrillator.)

Poem by Pigletinapoke i.e. ME!!

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

Gandhi and the Mental Middle Finger

middle-finger

“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

20130108-225005.jpg

 

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.

Kicking Up A Stink

Dear Fragrant (But Not In The Good Way) Office Colleague

I have tried with much heavy hinting to encourage you NOT to invade my personal air space with your undeniably stinky home-made broths of a lunchtime. You have failed to acknowledge any such hints, despite each being as subtle as a blunt trauma injury, and continue to perfume – though this is hardly the word – the general desk space with your evil fish and spiced muskrat potions. Your tenacity in the face of such blatant sarcasm would be admirable, if only you were not such a fan of all things rank-smelling.

Please, for the love of fresh air, stop! My newly washed hair, clean clothing and olfactory organs can no longer take such a sustained daily assault on their persons. The office microwave has developed a permanent aroma of rotting wildebeest. Clients entering the office are struck speechless for several minutes as they try not to gag in the warm chilli fug that summarily greets them before I ever can. Delivery men leave the room retching into their handheld walkie-talkies, unable to re-mount their mopeds effectively until the waves of nausea have passed. Enough is enough.

Worse still are the used plastic containers left unrinsed and pungently reeking in the kitchen sink. At least if you are going to make such god-awful smells, have the decency to keep them temporary during lunch, not continuing throughout the rest of the afternoon too. Entering the kitchen is akin to diving headlong into an overflowing landfill of sardines.

Consideration for your fellow workers costs nothing and will ensure you don’t receive the lemon-and-lime-flavoured condoms in the Secret Santa at Christmas. Maybe an air freshener or ten? I have tried wearing a peg on my nose but my clients think it odd and have been known to withdraw their patronage. Your fetid food odours are therefore bad for my business as well as damaging to my environment.

Let this be an end to your fart-tastic brews and perhaps, if you feel the need to always spice up your lunches, you could eat outside of the office? I will even pay for that to happen. Anything. Just go already.

Yours sincerely ( and I do mean sincerely)

Someone Who Wishes to Remain Cotton-Fresh

Photo credit: http://mideats.com

Alas Poor Washer, I Knew Him Well…

Image

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!

It Was Only Money…

 

A little something I wrote to amuse myself while the stock markets continue to play havoc with my working day!

Todd’s head shook in disbelief as he watched. Had it really taken so little time, so few seconds, for the numbers on-screen to bleed from the healthy blue lake of profit to the sinkhole of dark, red despair that now reflected back at him? He reached a forefinger into his collar; tugging, loosening, desperately trying to dampen down his hysteria and regain rational thought as his mind struggled to accept that his entire portfolio – his whole net worth – had just sunk without trace in front of his eyes. His palms were clammy; beads of sweat broke out on his forehead. His hand fluttered uselessly over the keyboard: uncertain; unguided; unable to do anything to change the horror of what he was seeing. The nightmare, it seemed, had actually happened. The thing he feared most had come to pass. He felt utterly helpless in the face of such brutal loss. His useless hand sank back to the desk and he in turn slumped back in his seat; his other hand covering his eyes, shutting out the blinking red disaster that was his life. His thoughts flashed  wildly: what would he tell Ruth – his wife, his love? A forlorn and fleeting hope: was this some sort of computer glitch? Then epic dawning that there was no way out of this. No happy ending, no golden retirement fund, no paid-off mortgage and childrens’ trust funds. No well done back-patting and a sense of smug self-satisfaction. He was forty nine, a father of two, and his financial world had collapsed. No home; no money; no security. Nothing. He’d bet the farm – including the parts he didn’t yet own – and had lost the lot.

He rose shakily from the chair, burdened by a ton of concrete failure strapped to his shoulders. Unnoticed by most, one assistant did pick up on his pallor, his hopeless demeanor and zombie-like stumble away from his desk. She glanced up at him as he passed, wondered vaguely if he was OK but then resumed her personal call, gum rotating slowly in her mouth as she languidly discussed the relative merits of heels over flats for her night out.

Todd’s slow progress sped to a faltering run. Bile rose within him in waves, propelling him forward and away from the cruel sea of red numbers he had just witnessed. He slammed out through the office door and into a hexagonal hallway. Wooden portals to other firms stared in blank indifference to his entrance. He flew through the door directly opposite into an austere white bathroom where he only just made it to the cubicle on time – throwing up and up, his stomach heaving and retching its sorry contents out in sympathy with his wretched situation. Snot and tears flowed in equal measure down his face as he allowed the fear to overwhelm him at last and gave in to the sheer horror of it.

Slumped down beside the toilet, his chin smeared with his own vomit, he tried to stifle the painful sobs wrenched from within him. He knew it was over. He was finished. He was a useless, careless, reckless bugger and he’d got his comeuppance. Serves him right. Arrogant arse, thinking he would be the one to get the golden goose. A weird tingling down his left arm matched a sudden crushing pain deep in his chest; his breathing rapid, shallow. His jaw tightened and clenched. Something worse was happening, infinitely worse. His last thought before his over-stressed heart spasmed its last: It was only money…

 

The Prom Dress, The Paracetamol and the Patience of a Saint

Image

I don’t really do femininity. I love being a woman and am comfortable in my own skin but I’ll admit there are certain aspects of being a girl that have completely bypassed me. Pink in any form, for example, is neither pretty nor acceptable within a 50-mile radius of me. Flounces, frills, frippery and finery leave me completely cold. I am partial to a nice shoe or handbag, but that is about as far as it goes. I don’t wear much make-up, I rarely bother with perfume and yes, the stubble left languishing on my barely-can-be-bothered-to-shave legs is occasionally responsible for the scarring on the Man-Hog’s calves and the tears in his manly eyes.

Hence the past few months have been a trial to say the least. The Teen has a prom to go to in July. A rite of passage must in the Teen’s social calendar. It all began back in February when said Teen announced it was going in a long dress and “Oh, by the way…” you’re buying it, Mum. Hours spent searching the internet (instead of revising for one’s GCSEs) resulted finally in a dress that the Teen thought was acceptable and I didn’t think looked like she’d gone on the game. We agreed on it, I ordered it on-line, slapped down my credit card details and that was supposed to be that.

Of course not. How silly of me. I should have realized once the email arrived from the very perky and completely unintelligible Nancy Lee “confirming order for dless in plurple size ate”. This was the first clue that all was probably not what it seemed. The second clue was that the same dress appeared on multiple similar websites – something the Teen had failed to mention. My only comfort was that I had paid through PayPal on-line and was therefore hoping that my fears of fashion fraud were unfounded and the site was entirely reputable.

How naïve can one 45-year-old non-girly woman be? Three months on and with no delivery in sight, I sat on-line for over an hour waiting for a live 24-hour chat operator to be with me shortly. As the clock ticked towards the second hour it was clear the operator was not live. In fact, dead was probably nearer the mark or at the very least tied to a chair with a sock in her gob because it was clear that no-one was coming to the party to chat with me. I hung up and then sent a frustrated email to my old friend Nancy Lee, also to the address on the website and to one random email I found on my receipt from PayPal. You guessed it – nil response from all three. The end result was a complaint raised with PayPal and a reimbursement of my money. That was the good part.

The bad part was the Teen frothing at the mouth as July is around the corner and she had no dress. Pressure was mounting from her prom date who had apparently bought a tie in “plurple” to match her Chinese creation that was now never arriving. I had no choice – I had to take it shopping. Next to pink dresses and daily skin care regimes, shopping has to be my least favourite activity. I would rather mud-wrestle multiple Chinese chat room operators in a live on-line paddling pool for days on end than go shopping.

Probably not best to choose the day following the riotous, amusing yet completely pointless Netball Awards night, then. The day when I woke up with a hangover and a mouth like the just-raced crutch of Usain Bolt’s lycra shorts. A day when all sensible people except me were lying horizontal until their heads stopped pounding, their nausea faded and someone had produced a hearty fry-up to aid their recovery. Not me. No. I was on a train to London in 30 degree heat, rattling with paracetamol and sweating hideously. Oozing the smell of last night’s Chinese into the garish seat cushions and cursing all things oriental that had brought me to this point. The Teen was attempting to jolly me along with a proposed route plan for which shops we would visit first. All I wanted to do was lie down quietly in a pool of my own sick. Not only that but I had to suffer the wholly inappropriate chirpiness of the Man-Hog and the Mini-Pig who came with us as far as London en route to visit the Science Museum. My only comfort was that during their trip they might actually find a scientific answer to the god-awful gaseous gut explosions which seem to accompany any hangover I have these days. To anyone who was on that train with us, I can only apologise.

London. Sweltering heat. A tumult of Jubilee fetishists and early Olympic tourists to add to the usual summer contingent of gigantic Middle-Eastern women piling en masse into Selfridges. The Teen forged ahead in search of fashion Nirvana. Me – I weaved tearfully behind her through the make-up counters, trying desperately to escape Sandra from Yves Saint-Laurent who wanted to pounce on my ageing skin and rub me free of blemishes. I told her exactly where to stick her Touche-Eclat and I sincerely hope it hurt when she did.

Three stores, seven dresses and a nervous breakdown later, we had bought a dress. It was not plurple, it was pleacock-blue. Actually very nice if you like all that girly crap. But by then I was slumped into a corner of the changing room, gibbering slightly with eyes rolling like a maddened horse. Not one person offered me a medicinal gin and the Teen showed even less empathy by demanding I sit up straight and take some mobile phone shots of her in the dress. For the love of God, why? Did she not realize I was one vapour attack away from A&E?

But thank the Lord! – the dress is purchased. And it was 20% off day which was a bit of a result. As we were leaving London accompanied once again by the Man-Hog and the Mini-Pig fully scienced up and having displayed what I firmly believe was the patience of a saint, the Teen casually mentioned that her date for the prom is quite challenged in the height department and she didn’t want to tower above him, so could we go again next week and look for some flattish shoes? Grabbing her by her pink and flowery shirt, I pulled her across the train table and hissed “Don’t…even….think about it!” through gritted noodle-stained teeth. I think she’s got the message.