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 blogging world has taught me that there is very little sleep out there. It has taught me that having children was never going to add to anyone’s rest and relaxation, least of all mine. There are many out there – right now – struggling to persuade babies, toddlers and geriatric parents to go back to sleep. I, however, am not one of those tonight. No – tonight I am a victim of an unfortunate but surprisingly prevalent condition. Extremely Annoying Respiring Husbands Are Irritating Repeatedly (EARHAIR).
EARHAIR takes many forms. My Man-Hog, alone, has several variants. You may recognise some of them though I cannot list them all – their number is legion:
This minor irritation usually occurs in the first few minutes of EARHAIR, before the snorer has yet had a chance to settle into a proper rhythm. I think toothpaste or its mint flavouring has something to do with it. First the snorer inhales gustily through fairly clear nasal passages but then decides (because they are ANNOYING – grrrr) to exhale through the pursed stuck-together-with-unwiped-toothpaste lips with a loud *POP*, followed by the back of the throat click as the exhale is completed. Sometimes there is a double-click as the tongue mysteriously rises to the roof of the mouth and down again like Excalibur from the lake. Bearability Scale: Irritating as nettle itch but not worth stabbing him yet. Unless you want to.
This, as the name suggests, is EARHAIR happening around 40 minutes after lights out. It is a rising crescendo of chest and nasal wheezing which mimics, quite well actually, the mating call of a lion with chronic tonsilitis. The only way to stop it is a swift blow to the clavicals. Sometimes this can stop respiration altogether, depending on the savagery of said blow, but I’ll tell you how to resolve this in a later blog. Or maybe I won’t. Bearability Scale: Not yet a divorce-inciter but getting close to the wire. Requires earplugs or a change of room.
Elks R Us
This is the deep sleep, rapid eye-movement phase of EARHAIR. The sprouting bushy King of them all. This is a 2AM foghorn waking all in the house except the snorer. That sod sleeps on throughout. Elk Phase must involve some form of sonic block – how else can the bugger still sleep? Why Elk? Well because it must be similar to camping al fresco next to an elk giving multiple birth to breech babies without so much as a TENS machine. Deep drafts of air are sucked in to vibrating nasal tunnels, followed by a short pause then the long, low, resonant exhale so bass and drawn out a note it makes Pavarotti sound like a choir boy, the Elk is a raging beast of a snore. There is no cure. Only death by self-smothering or moving house without telling the snorer are the coping strategies and even then, you’ll still hear it – it will haunt your dreams with its moose-call. Bearability Scale: Un-bloody-supportable.
So there we are. I’ve tried to give a little insight into the private hell endured by EARHAIR victims such as myself. When your baby wants to play all night, or your aged mother wants toast at 3AM despite scoffing most of a suppertime shepherd’s pie already, spare a thought for us. We don’t have wakefulness, but we have EARHAIR. And it’s getting worse.
I’m addicted to the movie “Calendar Girls” – an oldie but goodie. My daughter and I chuckle away at the same funny parts no matter how many times we see it. I’m a huge fan of Julie Walters so there’s that added bonus for me too.
For anyone who doesn’t know the film, its the true story of how a group of women from a Women’s Institute (WI) group in Northern England rally together to produce a radical semi-nude calendar to raise money for facilities at a local hospital where the husband of one of the women unfortunately died. The idea of anyone in the WI getting naked in public for any reason was very shocking at the time.
There’s a line in the film where one woman asks another: “Annie, what is the point of the WI?” and Annie answers “Enlightenment, fun and friendship!” This got me thinking about women like me (if there are any!), who are not sure about the whole jam and Jerusalem thing but who do enjoy the idea of sharing experiences and making friendships. I have therefore hatched an embryonic theory – could blogging be the Virtual WI for us women?
I sat down to think about it. (Yes, I know I should be cleaning something or reading to the children, but those who read this blog regularly know that it is, in fact, the kids that bring ME up not the other way around, so sshhh) And I wrote my fledgling ideas down:
Lady-Blogs such as myself laugh, cry, empathise, educate and learn much with blogging and reading blogs of like-minded people. There is a vast array of subjects and issues discussed on blogs all over the UK and the world. The traditional WI talks are intended to enlighten in the same way. Virtual WI wins, however, as you can skip blogs focused solely on the history of bee-keeping or beets if they are not your bag. Imagine having to physically sit through an hour’s presentation on “Tissue Boxes Through the Ages”? Not for me, sorry – I’d rather click and go!
Blogging is something we do that is just for us. Our bit of “me time”. We feel comfortable amongst a group of people with a common interest. It is somewhere we can “go” with our ideas, get feedback, involve others and pass on the benefit of our experience. The traditional WI does much the same thing, except you have to go out in the rain (ugh), or stress to get back from work/picking up the kids etc. to go sit in a drab hall. Virtual WI just happens to be more convenient, at a time to suit, easily accessible (unless your broadband provider lets you down) and you can usually find a subject that suits your mood or interest, rather than being pigeon-holed into what’s on offer that night.
I particularly like the friendships, camaraderie, support networks and the way different personalities and points of view blend together. And I have laughed my socks off at some of the blogs I have read. Virtual WI is fun!
There are the events such as the recent CyberMummy which, whether you like the idea or not, had more than a touch of the WI meeting about it. It’s nice to bring Virtual WI to a physical manifestation. (And then go away again!)
As bloggers, we pour out our thoughts to those who are, initially, strangers but many of whom come to be dear friends over time. The friendships made face to face at WI groups work the same way, but such geographic and social diversity is tough for them to achieve. Virtual WI coverage wins hands-down here. It also has the advantage that you don’t have to see or deal with those who have unfortunate eye-tics or who are not quite your cup of tea every week. Excellent news.
There is a “doing good” aspect to Virtual WI in the same way as the traditional one. Whether its helping you network to grow a home-based business, offering free advice to those in need based on your own professional expertise, or simply promoting a charity or fund-raising event to a wider audience, there is so much that can be achieved through word of blog at the Virtual WI. It is also, by its nature, able to focus towards the things YOU think are important, rather than causes and issues chosen at a remote national level which you may or may not agree with.
TRADITIONAL VS. VIRTUAL WI – WHICH ONE IS RIGHT FOR ME?
I’ve always thought that there would come a point where I would join the traditional WI – partly to escape that “empty nest” feeling I feel will come to the fore later on when the kids have left, and partly because I assume I will give up work at some point and will need something to get me out of the house so I don’t machete my long-suffering husband into tiny pieces (Hang on: does this count as a craft project? Hmm, maybe not.) I am not so sure now that I can blog and be blogged that the moment will arrive.
I’m also slightly intimidated by the traditional WI. In addition to craft projects and cake-baking (at which I expect to be crap anyway), it seems today’s modern WI has taken things to a new level. Their website expounds on some rigorous philanthropy and women’s activism particularly in areas like maternal care, poverty etc. This is great and very admirable but, between you and me, I don’t have the strength. I’m not sure this forceful modern WI fits with me, being a bit of a wuss and lazy to boot, or with the traditional reasons women like me would join it in the first place.
So, in conclusion, I think the traditional WI are missing a trick here. Instead of focusing on small groups of worthy ladies of a certain age in draughty church halls, sipping tepid coffee while wielding hand-made flyswatters decorated on an international theme, they perhaps should be broadening their membership and ensuring the WI’s survival by engaging on-line: the Virtual WI. Listening to women of all ages, the subjects they talk about, experiences they share, how and why they help each other. Witnessing good old-fashioned enlightenment, fun and friendship in action.
Getting naked for a calendar is not so radical out here in the Virtual WI – its what we do with our thoughts on our blogs every day. In my opinion, here lies the future for women like me much more so than trying to fit into an apron-clad scary women’s empowerment movement. I, for one, am not looking for that – all I really want is a bit of fun and a jolly network of mates. Perhaps that way of thinking is too simplistic, but the Virtual WI I’m seeing in the blogging world embraces it and allows for the way modern women like me can and want to come together: it fits with our lifestyles, doesn’t involve any lobbying of MPs (unless you want to) and most particularly no hateful plum jam.
Anyone else out there want to join my Virtual WI? New members welcome and you don’t have to bake a bloody thing if you don’t want to.