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A Valentine Ditty from She Who Gets None. Ever.

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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

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.

I Don’t DO Valentine’s Day….

Yes, the Man-Hog has asserted himself once again. The latest is: “I don’t DO Valentine’s Day”, said with gusto and a firm smack on my rump. He continues: “I won’t be told when to tell you I love you. I’ll tell you when I want to tell you, as I have done for the past 25 years.” Yes, dear, so you tell me every year.
What he fails to understand is the shallow nature of my desire to be fêted on this seemingly ordinary February day. It is not about love itself, it’s about the visual manifestation of that love to others; the one-up-manship of appearing to be most beloved of someone in a public place – in my view, at least.  Valentine’s Day is the one day he can display as much mushy sentimentality as I want. Anonymously, if that’s his bag. In fact, anonymously works for me too – mystery and romance, what better combination? Yet every year, I am doomed to be the only one sitting here at a desk bereft of any flowers, chocolates or cards bearing smudged question marks written by nervously sweaty mystery hands. It is my own fault, I suppose, for having married at birth. Romance for the majority of my life has been left to the one man on the planet that refuses to engage, leaving me exposed to the pitying stares and smug contentment of those with less recalcitrant, more publicly demonstrative soul mates. Bugger him. I shall do as I do every year and drift for a minute into the misty past, a time when one Valentine’s Day in particular stands out amongst all others……

I met J while in my last year at school. I was too young for the Man-Hog at this stage with our now-not-important-at-all age gap and so, while we were friendly, we were not – ahem – romantically involved. So I dated a tiny bit amongst my peers, and J was the chosen one for a while. Not a romantic on the surface, he did have an inner Cupid. He worked every weekend washing up pots and pans in a restaurant kitchen for a mere pittance. As Saturday jobs go, it was pretty low on the cool ranking scale. Almost as bad as my own spent in the staff kitchen of a local mental hospital. Part of my duties was delivering meals to nearby wards on an erratic electric trolley. Food that had to be passed necessarily through metal grills to the staff; entry to the wards restricted to nurses wearing chain-mail and who were dab hands with a dart gun. Not your average depressive or dementia patients, these. No, these were ones that even the prisons couldn’t handle – that threatened to bite off your nether regions if you so much as breathed near them and, given the opportunity, actually would. If I even so much as heard a bang or a muffled scream from behind the grills, I would drive that Benny Hill trolley so fast in the opposite direction, any lasagna left on board soon became mince milkshake. Anyway, lousy teenage jobs aside, J and I met whenever he could afford the two-stroke or whatever it was that fired his motorbike up enough to make the 5 mile trip to my house. Each time, he would bring some of his hard-earned wages, usually in 50p pieces, and we would place them reverently in a jar to save towards the Holy Grail of our fledgling relationship – the moment we would actually go out together in public and have a meal.

Valentine’s Day 1918 dawned (no, not really, but it was a long time ago) and the pop-pop-fizz of the boyfriend’s motorbike was heard at around noon. J came dressed in trousers, not his habitual jeans, and wearing a shirt. I thought he had been arrested and was off to court, but no. He encouraged me to leave off my Dexy’s Midnight Runner dungarees (terribly fashionable round our way at some point in the 80s – I blame Bananarama) and don a SKIRT and SHOES, both borrowed shamelessly from my older sister’s wardrobe. He then took my hand, led me solemnly to the garden, wrapped the brimming jar of 50p pieces in a towel and proceeded to smash it with a hammer. Quite why this was necessary bypassed me, since the jar had a perfectly good lid, but I suppose it was his inner Cupid going for the grand gesture. We had managed to save £28.50 as I recall. With this heady sum, we headed for the train to London and to that gastronomic enclave that was the Aberdeen Steak House in Covent Garden. J was positively bursting with pride as he pulled out my chair, beating the waiter to the punch. He then proceeded to order for me – I had been momentarily struck dumb by his sudden manliness and the sheer amount of red velour coating every surface in the restaurant. We ate steaks, drank a glass of red wine each (wow!) and stared into each other’s eyes whispering sweet nothings for over 2 hours as the waiting staff no doubt ached to pelt us with stale profiteroles.  Talk about feeling like a million dollars. There was even a sunflower, my favourite bloom, produced from his unfamiliar jacket pocket at the start of the meal. I felt like the only girl in the world that night, as special as a special thing in Special Land. He had worked for that money, bore the chafed and reddened knuckles to prove it, had saved it up and then proudly arranged this special evening – in public, in front of everyone. Aside from wearing a hat that said “She’s Gorgeous and She’s With Me!” there wasn’t much more he could do to display his innermost feelings that night.  Aah. Young love, eh?

It was THE singular most romantic evening I have ever had, bar none. Despite that, we were not to be. Sadly, J and I split up when the tax ran out on his motorbike and they simultaneously suspended the bus route that would have brought us together in the middle. Such hurdles were insurmountable at sixteen. I also discovered a George Michael look-a-like at around the same time and, fickle floozy that I clearly am, was all too willing to be consoled for many hours by “Careless Whisper” serenading me in the very uncomfortable front seat of a red TR7. That didn’t last long once I discovered that George Michael expected me to blow-dry his hair every time we went out. He took longer to get ready than I did. Ew – manly, NOT. So, I bumped into the Man-Hog at a party not long after and the rest, as they say, is history.

Happy as I have undoubtedly been, Valentine’s Day since then has been somewhat of a let down to say the least. No matter how much I sulk, cajole, bribe, scream, shout or deny conjugal rights – nothing has ever materialized on this one day of the year. It is not to say the Man-Hog is not romantic – he can be extremely and I can honestly say that I don’t doubt for a minute that when he says he loves me, he means it. It is just that he refuses to do any of those wonderfully romantic things on this particular day.

So how do I deal with this? Mature and responsible? Nah – childish and pathetic, of course! Following his announcement yesterday, I asked him how he liked our sofa. It’s great, he said, why? Because you’ll be sleeping on it until I decide otherwise. Suck on that, Cupidless One.

Resentment is a wonderful thing. Stored resentment over many years is even better – it’s the gift that just keeps on giving. He’ll be paying for this in so many ways!

Photo credit: http://dadcando.com

How Low Can You Go…..

For two things you must forgive me today. The first is that this is the second blog post in 24 hours, so there is clearly some form of crisis going on. The second is the word in the above picture, the reason for which will become clear later in this monologue.

Today has revealed that new lows can still be found, even at my great age. The first clue that this was going to be THAT sort of day came when the Man-Hog bounced jauntily out of the bathroom in his natural state (and what a state) and flung himself bodily across my supine body still lying in bed. This was no fit of unbridled passion, dear friends. No – this was the Man-Hog demonstrating that romance, passion, love or whatever that funny bubbly feeling in your chest actually is has finally, and forever, left the building. His words, uttered in a fairly sexy (for him) rasp, were: “Hun, can you look at the spot on my bum? Does it have an ingrown hair in it?” Of all the things a man could say to a woman after spending the night together (albeit the billionth one), this was not what anybody wanted to hear. He somehow couldn’t understand my sudden leap from the bed squealing, running at impressive speed for one so recently horizontal and subsequently slamming the bathroom door. He is blaming it on my hormones. Aaagggh!

Having hidden the tweezers lest he be tempted to ask me to prod, I ventured sulkily downstairs in my PJs five minutes later to be greeted by the Mini-Pig boy: “Mum, I can’t find my PE kit.” I sighed heavily and trudged into the laundry room to search for the offending items. The girl-child wandered into the kitchen meantime in search of school tights without gaping holes in them (there are none) and for whatever her reasons, uttered a sentence I only half-heard from the depths of the ironing pile but which contained the word “mucus”.  Mini-Pig boy – clearly more delicate in disposition than the rest of us – immediately gagged, retched and regurgitated his recently devoured Coco Pops. Still, another heavy sigh wrenched its way out of my chest, the place where the Love Bubble used to be, as I trudged back to the laundry again to fetch the mop. Clearly this is not a word to be used in his earshot within an hour of any mealtime. Forewarned now.

Keep in mind, people, this is all before 8.30.

Man-Hog despatched to visit sister to bore her with botty-spot issues, vomiting Mini-Pigs thrown onto school coach, I was finally able to get dressed and go off to work. The train journey managed to soothe my frazzled nerve endings and, never one to be down for long, hope rose within me again. It was not to be. Halfway across the one-way street housing my office building, a black cab driver flew around the corner at break-neck speed straight towards me. With an adrenaline-fuelled Kanga skip I managed to make the kerb by the skin of my teeth. Bad enough, you would think, until Taxi Neanderthal then screeched to a halt, reversed backwards like he was going for the drifting World Record, and proceeded to berate me for not looking where I was going. I pointed out that I had been halfway across a one-way street – there had been only one way to look before crossing and he had probably been in the next town at that point, the speed he’d been going. This was clearly not the right thing to say. He let fly a volley of words I haven’t heard since Bristol Rovers versus Crystal Palace away back in 1980-something (although I can clearly remember chanting Charlie Nicklas is a Horse’s Arse! I was young, what can I say.) I kept calm and merely directed Caveman-For-Hire to his copy of the Highway Code. To his credit, he was rendered speechless. He then waved a dramatic fist at me  and zoomed off in a flurry of London dust and old fag ends. Miserable old git.

All in all, it’s been a poor start to the day. Boss is at a funeral (bound to come back grumpy), been promised something from a jar for tea (oh joy) and the office is out of biscuits (for the love of God, why?). There’s a great line from the 1993 Mrs Doubtfire film that sums all this up. Robin Williams says: “Did you ever wish you could sometimes freeze frame a moment in your day, look at it and say “this is not my life“?” Well, that’s me. Thinking seriously of going back to bed. Call me when the love is back in the room.

Quote reproduced from http://IMDB.com

Picture credit: http://icouldcrybutidonthavetime.wordpress.com

Non means No….

I have just returned from a few days with friends in the south of France. We had a lovely time, despite truly British – dare I say Scottish – weather.

One of our jaunts out took us to the port of La Rochelle. I have fond memories of this place, having spent a riotous four days there in late 2009 on stopover prior to departing for an insane yacht race with ten other boats all the way to Rio de Janeiro. Good times – well, the bits I remember anyway.

Returning to La Rochelle the year after my return from Brazil with the family on holiday, I was mortified to be met with a hug and an effusive welcome by the proprietor of the port’s only Irish Pub – he apparently remembers me downing impressive quantities of some shocking cocktails called After Eights and thereafter dancing on the tables accompanied by other slightly inebriated sailor-type companions. It was not one of my finest parental moments – being displayed in front of my children – but they were so “Meh” about the whole thing that I believe I got away with it. Phew. Note to self: Must learn to lead children by example…..

But – staying on point – this visit included a mooch around the shops with our friends, where the children were amused to come across a series of Mr Men books written in French. The one that tickled our funny bone the most was “M. Non.” Just that – Monsieur Non. We fell about laughing on reading it, as we all immediately identified the elder male Stratton in the character – he who was browsing in a model-making shop at the time (because sensible people stay home and make models, not gad about the globe in glorified tin cans for the fun of it).

My husband – now M. Non forever more – is, let’s say, one who errs on the dark side. Not wholly negative, but not completely positive either. A planner and procrastinator. He’s most definitely a “No, but…” person when discussing ideas, people, concepts etc. whereas the rest of us are much more “But, yes…” He’s a “Can’t”, not “Let’s” person.

(Note: This “Non” does not, however, extend to bottles of French wine, for which he demonstrated much more “Mais oui!” this weekend than was good for him. Since his only failing here was to get louder in proportion to the quantity of wine consumed, this is a minor issue, although our poor friends may need to consult ear specialists this week as they recover from having us to stay.)

This inherent negativity has led to many clashes en famille as being with M. Non can somewhat limit spontaneity, creativity and simple learning through childhood (and adult) experiences. My son, for example, is protected from hurting himself with too much gung ho launching off walls and scaling of trees etc., by M. Non. He would say it is health and safety awareness, but I would argue that our son could also be less dexterous, less able to problem-solve and more cautious than he would otherwise be if allowed to experience more. My daughter is prevented from certain fashion choices and from experimenting too much with her hair. M. Non says non. But is that stifling her creativity, “cramping her style” or just his fatherly way of protecting her from peer ridicule?

It’s hard to know. I am a different animal altogether. I fight M. Non on many fronts myself. I believe in having a go, pushing boundaries and accepting the consequences as they happen. Not necessarily thinking about those consequences in advance. If I had, I would not have even been dancing on tables in La Rochelle, or scaring myself silly trying to manhandle a 68 foot bath-tub across the Atlantic for six weeks. “Non” is not a word I use much at all, unless we’re talking about tattoos or piercings on my daughter’s beautiful teenage person. That’s not so much “Non” as “Over my dead and rotted body.” Me and M. Non are, for once, in agreement on these issues.

But I do have to concede that without M. Non’s practicality, forward-thinking, hazard avoidance and foot-putting-down-ness then myself and the kids would teeter on the edge of potential disaster much more often than we do. While I find all that flying by the seat of my pants stuff terribly exciting, I do accept that it does not make for great parenting. Many meals and much of their formal education would be missed as we windsurfed our way across to the Canary Islands or trekked cheetahs in remote jungle bush, if their parenting was left purely to me.

So, here’s a tribute to the M. (and Madame) Nons of this world – those who we may moan about and rail against, but who keep us safe, love us enough to stop us doing too many silly things, and give us the secure base from which to leap into the unknown prepared and protected as much as they can manage and arrange.

Without my own M. Non, Madame Oui-Oui-Oui here and the little Oui-Ouis would not be the happy, healthy little unit we are. More time would potentially be spent in A&E than out enjoying ourselves. We must appreciate him and all he does (without the loud bits, obviously), even when “non” means no.

(She says, sneaking off to have a go at base-jumping before her ancient and creaky knees seize up altogether and/or M. Non finds out!! Just kidding, M. Non, honest?)

(Photo credit: http://broken-tv.blogspot.com)