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 😄 – 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.
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.
Apparently Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat (big old goosey porker – he’s being dispatched to Weight Watchers first thing in the New Year). The working year is drawing to a close and as usual, the last week is dragging by like a snoozing grizzly on an Evostick sled. Is it only me that finds the last working week pre-Christmas a complete waste of time?
I am sitting here busily working out excuses for avoiding the “Outer Office” Christmas do tomorrow. They’re going to the Playboy Club. In God’s name why would I want to go there? Unless it was their intention to play “Whack a Bunny” complete with huge rubber sledge hammers or “Pin the Flick-Knife on the Bunny” then honestly, the experience leaves me less than thrilled. Of course, the Outer Office is 99% male, hence the venue choice. The only other female in the Outer Office has a cough similar to a crack-smoking homeless man and is currently eating something packed with Echinacea and Peruvian mouse droppings to try to cure herself before tomorrow’s party. It smells like rancid Chilli Con Dog Poo. Frankly, I’m just not up for any of this. I feel a stomach flu coming on that will render me unable to attend. Sorry Bunnies!
The trouble is, I am just not feeling festive. I’m not miserable, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not feeling….Christmassy. This is so not like me – I practically AM Mariah Carey in a too-short Santa outfit warbling for all I’m worth as people cover their ears and weep silently. I’m not sure if it is the internet Christmas shopping I did as opposed to the usual racing around the streets style. Has the disengagement left me feeling a little….disinterested… to be honest? Could it simply be that the kids aren’t little any more and buying for them is a) supremely expensive, b) technology or fashion-based – ugh! or c) no fun now that “The Myth” has been dispelled. It just seems like another job to have to do – all the jolly jingles and George Michael replays in the world are not lifting me into my usual Christmas mode. Nothing was helped by the Man-Hog being a complete plank and using our joint account debit card to buy my presents. Internet banking reveals all – I now know precisely what is under the tree, where it came from and how much it cost. There are no surprises to be had except, possibly, me running away to become a Playboy Bunny on Christmas Eve just for shits and giggles.
Is it just that the usual trials and tribulations of life have not yet suspended normal service? The unseasonally stormy weather has wreaked havoc with Crumbly Mansion, for example. The roof is leaking in a running total of five places so far. The new roof. The one that cost us thousands to replace just over a year ago. That one. The wind has also managed to seek out any tiny pinprick in the ancient windowframes and send gushing torrents of water into them. We fall asleep to the dulcet sound of plips and plops splopping into strategically placed plastic cups. Like a half-arsed glass harp. So tempted to empty them into the Man-Hog’s vibrating Snore-Chasm but then I remember I am supposed to be in love with him. This holds me back – just. This morning, Mini-Pig announced he has managed to lose his entire PE kit two days before the end of term – grrr! Not a small loss – we are talking the entire contents: astro boots, rugby shirt, shorts, socks, the lot. A mere £100 or so to replace. He’ll be cleaning chimneys and taking out the rubbish for the next fifty years to pay that lot off, the little blighter.
The Texan boss tried to enthuse me with his alternative Christmas do involving steak with green butter sauce followed by a theatre trip. The play, the 24,606 performance of The Mousetrap, was actually great and the acting was fantastic. However, having pre-filled his useless cowboy tum before the performance, the Texan proceeded to snooze his way through it, complete with head-bobbing and the odd “What?” at the top of his voice as I elbowed him continuously in the ribs. Great! Either I’m the most boring companion since Eastenders’ Ian Beale or too many years working together has bred the sort of comfort level that indicates that I would think slumping into an afternoon zed is perfectly all right and not at all rude!
But, dear friends, all is not lost. There are ten days to go and work finishes tomorrow. Next week I shall begin to wrap said internet presents as well as gaudy tinsel around various bits of my body. I will drape twinkly lights from the soon-to-be-released-from-school Mini-Pigs and attach baubles to anything that sticks out horizontally on the Man-Hog. Wine will be mulled, pies will be minced and with any luck, the famously irritating Stratton Christmas spirit will wake from its slumber and get on everyone’s wick. Because all I want for Christmas……..is me. Enjoying it again.
Watch this space. x