SO I’ve put my dogs on sharemydoggy.com, a supposed free site that cost me £40 to join. It’s either get time away from my pets or rehome them. We have two dogs and a cat, and a tortoise, and some birds, and a couple of fish tanks. Sometimes I suggest we move house and don’t tell the pets so they are forced to find us, like in the film The Incredible Journey. Hopefully, at least one of them wouldn't make it.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my labrador, miniature dachshund, and cat-reincarnation-of-my-grandmother, but add them to my three children and husband, and not a single second goes by when someone doesn’t want something from me.
If the cat isn’t attacking my toe at 4am for breakfast, my husband is, and not just to be fed. If one dog isn’t barking, the other one is. The little one only wants to eat the big one’s food. The big dog wants to eat all the food. You have to referee every meal time with lemon spray and a whistle.
No one wants to feed the cat because it bites as soon as it sees the food come out. The tortoise clomps around in the night, sounding like a burglar, forcing me downstairs where our lack of curtains means the moon falls on me, naked and armed with my daughter’s ukulele, like a crazed but musically advanced cave woman.
The love birds compete with the radio,dogs, and my constant laments of 'You’ll be the death of me’, while over it all the children sing songs from Grease 2 in terrible loud and out of tune American accents. “I wanna coooooooooooooool, rider. A cool cool cool cool rider!” wails the six-year-old, as she thrusts her pelvis across the floor like a mini Michelle Pheiffer.
They used to be such sweet girls. Now when I’m out and about, people ignore my beautiful daughters and my lovely big dog. Instead they all coo and marvel at the dachshund. “Oooooh look him, he's so tiny and sweet.” (Their voices get higher as the sentence goes on).
This exclamation is followed by them kneeling down and patting themselves, hoping she’ll hop on for a cuddle (would you?). I like to wait until she’s licked them a couple of times before I say; “I wouldn’t let her lick you on the mouth like that, she like to eat poo.”
You know how you can buy coffee that has been passed through the bowel of a golden monkey, to make it tastier and more exquisite? Well my dachshund only likes her Pedigree Chum after it’s come out the back end of a Labrador.
She also refuses to wee or poo outside. She prefers to do it on something soft, ideally my jumper, the new sofa or the children’s beds.
So blogger Zoella has had to half the price of her advent calendar from £50 to £25. £25! has the world gone mad? As a kid, I was lucky to get a card advent calendar, and I’d have to beg for one with chocolate in.
Now you can get candles, home accessories, perfume, and gin advent calendars. What next; tiny leaping lords, dancing ladies, milk maids, geese laying eggs, French Hens (probably only available from Waitrose), and a partridge in a pear tree hidden behind the gold plated windows?
Why does everything have to get bigger and better and more expensive? My middle daughter came home in tears this week because she was the only girl in her class who didn’t have a cola scented pencil from Smiggle.
Smiggle, for those not in the know, is an overpriced kid’s stationery shop selling brightly coloured tut that breaks within moment of getting it home.
I swear Smiggle scents the shop with crack-laced Fabreeze. My kids are drawn in like their legs don’t belong to them. Sadly, the wallet belongs to me, and I won’t be sucked in by their sweet, sweet pina colado erasers. It’s an utter con. I want to refuse my daughter, but I don’t want her to be the one kid in the class without a Smiggle pencil. She doesn’t even like the cola scented pencil, but that is the one everyone else has, so that is the one she must have too.
I told her to be a maverick and buy a raspberry scented one. She told me if she did that her life would be over (she’s not at all dramatic).
The problem is, it’s not going to stop at a pencil, is it? Next it will be a coat, or a bag, and soon, to remain cool, it will require things that I can’t buy her from shops. I know this because it happened to me.
When I was about her age my best-friend/only friend of six years told me “I’ve made some new friends, but they don’t want you to be in their group, so I’m not your friend anymore. From now on you are not allowed to sit next to me or play with me at break, or talk to me, ever.”
She was my only friend and I loved her. That lunchtime she skipped off to take her place among her new group, while I sat on the bank overlooking the field and realised I didn’t belong anywhere. All the Smiggle pencils in the world wouldn’t have helped me. My second-hand coat from Oxfam with someone else’s name in the collar probably didn’t help me either, nor my utterly uncool love of poetry that long battle with (highly contagious) ringworm.
I joined the Geography club, just so I’d have somewhere to be at lunchtime, other than standing alone, watching my old best friend play with the cool girls and wonder what was wrong with me.
SO another Halloween has been and gone. Trick or treating is an odd concept. We tell our kids never to accept sweets or lifts from strangers or to go into unknown houses, apart from on the 31st October, when we tell them to dress up, knock on potential abductor’s doors and demand candy.
Teenagers, who’d not even bothered to dress up came knocking on my door demanding sugar hits. They were too cool to even say ‘trick or treat’. I fobbed them off with out-of-date, lunchbox sized ‘Soreen’ malt loaf, then turned off the lights and hid under the windowsill to eat Haribo stolen from my children. I must have looked like Golum from the Hobbit as I held jelly rings up in the moonlit and declared them ‘my precious’.
One of my friends made gingerbread bats to hand out. Inspired, I made a bath of dough to roll and cut out with the kids after school. My youngest ate almost all of it, unbaked. It was seven minutes of ‘stop it, wait, not like that, give it to me, don’t lick that spoon, careful it’s hot, why don’t you listen to me, fine, I give up, don’t blame me when you die from salmonella'.
I always swore I wouldn’t be like my mother, who said all the above to me when we baked together. I used to wish she’d slow down and let me do the messy bits. I can remember sitting on the side licking the wooden spoon (which I never got salmonella from) and wishing I’d had more involvement, vowing I’d be a nicer mum, yet I’m exactly the same with my own kids.
In my head, when imagining a baking session, I see us laughing and dabbing flour on our noses as we roll out dough in matching aprons, while in the background the radio plays ‘Let it Be’ and we all join in for the chorus.
In reality, I take over all the mixing, measuring and stirring, zapping out any possible fun, we all end up crying and my husband comes home to inedible coal coloured biscuits, four sobbing girls and the smoke alarm beeping. ‘When it’s brown it’s burned, when it’s black it’s buggered’ I lament over the charred remains, just like my mother does.
SO Building work remains ongoing, and we still have no radiators. I told the husband to go and buy a heater or I was leaving him. He obviously hoped for such an outcome because he bought the cheapest one in the shop. All it does it blow out cold air, noisily.
It’s so chilly in my house me and the girls go to bed at 6pm just to stay warm while the husband claims it’s ‘fine’ and walks round barefoot in shorts.
The latest project is trying to remove white paint from the corrugated plastic roof in the sun lounge. The husband sourced the product and left me and the painter apply it, claiming it’d take five minutes.
Three hours and a migraine later, we were still no closer to getting on an even coat and the paint remover had removed the prints from our fingers. At least I can commit a crime without being caught – like murdering my husband.
We took the kids to see Blondie at the Brighton Centre last night. With their usual, incredible timing, all three claimed to feel sick and tired before the warm up act had finished and demanded to go home. The lights were too bright, the noise to loud.
I claimed to not hear them as Blondie walked on stage, like she owned it and burst into ‘One way or another’. I decided then and there that one way or another, I was not leaving until she’d finished. Two of the kids pulled their scarves over their ears and scowled, while the youngest fell asleep on the floor.
A woman next to me, doing out-of-time, aggressive head-banging sneered “I just don’t know how anyone could fall asleep when Blondie is playing.” I said, “She’s six years old” then enthusiastically pogo’d into her and spilled beer on her.
My dad first played me Blondie when I was seven years old. I still remember the picture on his vinyl record, the way I stepped on his feet as we danced, how we sang the lyrics back and forth to one another “Uh oh, uh oh, what are gonna do?”
Blondie was a gift from him to me. I cried as she played our favourite song, and wished he were there to share the moment with me. He’s not dead or anything, it’s just, since we went to see Bob Dylan and it was awful, he refuses to go and see old people still trying to rock it.
But Blondie was amazing. I could not believe she was older than my mum (no offence mum) as she strutted up and down the stage on massive wedged trainers and a cape that said “stop f**ing the planet”. Forget the saying ‘when I’m old I shall wear purple’ – when I’m old I’m going to dress like Debbie Harry, she’s beautiful, inspiring and captivating. 72 and still killing it. There’s a lesson to be learned there. Join an awesome rock band, wear bin- bags as dresses and don’t have kids perhaps?
I packed mine off to school the next day yawning and moaning, spelling homework not done and hair still in yesterday’s plaits. Am I a terrible parent for it? I don’t think so, nor do I care. We made a decision to spend money on memories, not materials this year. I’ll remember Blondie forever, and so will my children. Even if they didn’t like it, the relief at it finishing will be remembered with fondness. That’s how I feel about family camping trips.
We had parents evening this week and none of the teachers said anything too bad about them. All three of them need to improve their maths. It was suggested that I do more at home with them. I’m rubbish at maths, and said as much. I also said I don’t think math’s is that important. A sense of humour and war time spirit are the best life tools.
Sadly, the teachers did not agree with me, so I’m going to get the girls a maths tutor. I’ve managed to persuade them it will be an exciting adventure – like in a Famous Five book, where the maths tutor turns out to be a thief, who steals Quentin’s secret magical formula plans and runs off with them through a secret corridor behind a fake wooden panel.
Do I feel bad about lying to my kids? Only a little bit. Soon they are going to grow up and lie to me about where they were, who they were with and what they were doing. I need to make the most of being able to pull the wool over their eyes. I like to think Blondie is the first of many gig’s we’ll go to together, but I’ve a feeling they won’t want to be seen out with me in public pretty soon.
SO, nosy neighbours keep knocking on my door wanting to see what building work we are having done. We bought our house from a semi-famous local artist, who used to teach at Longhill school. Ex-students often stop by wanting to reminisce. To annoy me, my husband ushers them in and says, ‘Welcome! My wife would love to give you a tour’.
“The hallway is just the same!” they exclaim – well obviously, it’s a hallway. Then they go round each room and tell me what used to be there, as if I care. All of them seen slightly affronted I’ve painted over the olive-green walls and dark blue ceilings. I tell them they could recreate the look in their own homes if they like it so much. On their way out, the rook through the skip to see if I’ve thrown away any of his paintings. (I have).
I’ll miss having a skip outside my house. It’s such fun to frolic on the drive. I can’t wait for the house to be finished though. I’m tired of workmen. The electrician my builder hired took one look at the brand-new circuit box we’d paid and arm and a leg for and said, ‘Blimey love, what Mickey Mouse cowboy fitted this?’ It’s exactly what the electrician who fitted the brand-new circuit box said about the one he replaced.
Never in my life has a man come in my house to do a job and praised work done before. The insinuation always seems to be that I’m a simple woman who didn’t know she was being taken for a ride. My thoughts? If I know enough about electrics/plumbing/building to know it was not being done right, surely I could do the work myself – negating the need for a tradesman.
I’ve learnt the correct thing to do while being ‘mansplained’ to (a man explaining something to a woman in a way that is patronising because he assumes that a woman will be ignorant of the subject matter) is shrug, try and look simple, and offer to make the tea, while they tell me how a plug works.
Women don’t knock another women’s work. When I was being stitched up after the birth of my second child, the midwife didn’t look at my previous scar and say, “Crickey love, what butcher did this?”
I wish my husband was better at DIY so we didn’t need workmen, but after that time he tried to stick on a new rear-view mirror, and ended up smashing the windscreen, I decided he was a lost cause. The only way to make him do jobs is to get him angry anyway. If wound up correctly, he starts wiping the kitchen sides, sometimes he even cleans the floor. He doesn’t use a clean cloth obviously, that would be helpful. When the cleaner comes she must look at the kitchen and think ‘Crickey, what Mickey Mouse person wiped this?’
When she comes this week, she may wonder why the house smells like the oil-powered Big Lemon Bus. It’s all my mum’s fault. On a recent visit, she told me my eldest brother just got a log burner and it’s much shinier and nicer than mine, because he cleans it with vegetable oil.