Saturday, 24 June 2017

Bat out of hell...

Well it's a fun packed weekend in store for the husband and me.  I know it's hard to believe, but I am a massive Meatloaf fan, so as you can imagine, when word reached me that there was going to be a new musical based on Bat out of Hell, there was no stopping me.  I bought the tickets that long ago, that I'd almost forgotten doing it, and it wasn't till Miss R mentioned it a couple of weeks ago that I remembered.  And boy, have I been a complete pain in the neck since then.  Singing the songs, reminding myself of the lyrics (as if that were necessary, the words are imprinted on my brain) and hardest of all, deciding what to wear.

Now.  If I were somewhere between 15 and 25, this would be easy.  Faded ripped jeans and a lot of leather fringing with massive hair.  Get a little older, say, up to 40, and it would be black skinny jeans, over the knee boots and a leather jacket, albeit without the fringing perhaps.  Unfortunately, I fall into the next category (40 to dead), so have to put a little more thought into my Meatloaf apparel.  And it's summer, which means that anything black is not particularly wise, especially as we are 'going on' afterwards for dinner.  Before you start worrying about the effect that eating a large meal after 11.00pm can have, let me reassure you that I have booked tickets for the matinee. Not very Rock 'n' Roll admittedly, but I don't cherish the idea of mainlining Gaviscon through Saturday night.

I think I have settled on some cheeky black and white checked trousers (ankle grazers, so erring on the side of cool I think) which I will top with a sleeveless black t-shirt with some serious zippage.  I know I will probably sweat like something which ran the 2.50 at Ascot yesterday, but hey, not every box can be ticked, ladies.

To be honest, never mind the clothes, I'm more worried about the state of the house when the husband and I return on Sunday afternoon.  As you all know, the minute mum leaves the house, all electrical appliances (washing machine, dishwasher, iron) cease to work, and I know that there will be piles of stuff everywhere.  As both boys are in residence along with daughter number one who has come to dogsit the boys (Percy and Reg, in case you're thinking I'm slightly mad sorting out a sitter for two 6', car-driving males) the piles of stuff are likely to encroach onto the hall, making opening the front door difficult, if not impossible.

So back to Bat out of Hell and a few predictions....

As the husband and I drive up to London tomorrow, we'll joke about 'Paradise by the dashboard light'.  

He'll get lost several times, which will elicit 'For crying out loud!' from me.  

In the interval, I shall say something about the show being brilliant, and he'll agree, saying 'You took the words right out of my mouth'.

At the end of the evening, he'll say that he's enjoyed the show and the meal, and there's just one thing which would top the whole night off, bearing in mind we're staying in a posh hotel for he night.

Well girls, as track number five on the album tells us....

'Two out of three ain't bad'...



Friday, 23 June 2017

When I was young...

While driving to Binland yesterday for another morning of flogging wheelie bins to the businesses of Oxfordshire, there was a man being interviewed on the radio about International Handstand Day, which just happens to be tomorrow (that never came up on my Google calendar.  Can't imagine why). As I turned into the car park, I said out loud, 'I used to be able to do a handstand when I was younger', and this set me thinking.  What things did I used to be able to do, which I now can't, and why....

Handstands
So I used to go to an acrobatic class on a Friday after school, and could do a most passable handstand.  I could even walk several yards on my hands.  Somewhere between primary school and the menopause, I have lost the ability to do either.  Mind you, who at 53 wants to be standing upside down, with the stomach and derriere obeying the rules of gravity?  I would imagine that even if I could still walk on my hands, I probably wouldn't be able to see where I was going, if you get where I'm coming from.  There is also the issue of knickers.  At my age, I don't tend to wear a baby blue leotard like the one I wore when I was little, and there's no one (Bridget Jones, take note), I repeat no one, who wants to be privy to what I wear under my skirts (especially on a Monday when I may have overindulged over the weekend and am going for comfort over style).

Rubik's Cube
At the age of 18, I could complete a Rubik's Cube in less than two minutes, along with every other girl in my sixth form.  Now?  No chance.  I can do one side, at which point frustration gets the better of me, and the damn thing gets thrown back to whichever child of mine had it, so that they can complete it in less than two minutes.

Tree Climbing
Living where we did, this was an obligatory skill, as Miss R and I were always in the woods, making dens and setting fire to stuff.  Growing up makes you too careful, so no more fires in the wood (unless it's a specially prepared fire pit at a glamping site).  The tree climbing is also out of the question now, because I don't want to ladder my opaque tights nor do I want to show anyone my drawers (see Handstands) 

Food
Marmalade, Battenburg cake, Christmas pudding and trifle were all detested as a child. Fast forward fifty years, and if I could have sherry trifle on a permanent drip, that would be perfect.  If only this one had happened the other way round.  I certainly wouldn't have had to diet for around thirty years of my life, that's for sure.

Games
Yo-yo - used to be good, now useless
Catapult - I did have a very precise aim (took Miss R's front tooth out when she was 8). Now too frightened to pick one up, in case someone sues me.
Colouring Books - I spent hours with my coloured pencils when I was little.  I see that colouring books for adults are very fashionable now.  You wouldn't catch me with one though, as I never quite perfected that whole 'not going over the lines' thing.  

Diving
As a kid, I used to love diving off the side of the swimming pool.  After a particularly embarrassing attempt at a dive in Spain several years ago, when my bikini bottoms headed south, and my top headed north, I decided that until I went back into a one piece, then diving was on hold.  Of course, it didn't help when I surfaced after the dive as I completed it with something similar to a gymnast's finish.  Arms stretched out in the air, whilst saying 'Tah-Dah', in quite a loud voice, much to the amusement of the sunbathers around the pool.

I don't know when it all goes wrong - when handstands and yo-yos make way for shopping at Tesco and fat-free yoghurt.  But perhaps, while everyone is out this afternoon, I might come home and have a practise at doing a handstand.  

How hard can it be......


Thursday, 22 June 2017

Feeling hot, hot, hot...

I don't know about you, but I have had enough of this hot spell we are having at the moment.  Now I love the sunshine and the heat, but these last few days have really knocked the stuffing out of me.  If only we had a paddling pool which I could lower my overheated body into, then I would be marginally happier, but unfortunately because my children are now aged between 19-26, I can't really justify having a Peppa Pig Pool in the garden.  My neighbours might assume that I have grandchildren on the way, and I can't have that, can I?

Yesterday, as the mercury soared, I moped around the house, going from the fridge (which is my favourite place to stand at the moment) to the shower, from the sofa to the kitchen but nowhere was cool enough to sit down.  So I did what every normal woman would do, and decided to clean the house.  Well, I figured if I was going to be wandering around the house aimlessly then I might as well be pushing the Hoover (other vacuums are available). 

So I started in son number two's bedroom, as he has an electric fan. Wandering around the room, turning the fan so that it pointed towards me, I picked up, threw away, hung up and folded.  By the time I had got his room to a state where I was happy to remove the gas mask, the sweat was running off me like a river.  I managed to do the lounge and the kitchen, before collapsing in a sodden heap on the sofa, arms and legs spread like a star to avoid any parts of my skin touching another.

The only upside was that at least parts of the house looked presentable.  This lasted for exactly seventeen minutes and thirty three seconds.  This was when sons one and two and the husband came home.

'What's for dinner?' asked son number one.

Oh for goodness sake, if they thought I was going anywhere near an oven, then they had another thing coming.

'Chicken Fajitas', I said forcefully.  'I'm not doing anything else, so you can cook it yourselves'.

And surprisingly, they did.

I shall have to try that approach more often...


Wednesday, 21 June 2017

The spirit of radio...

Miss R and I hit the airwaves yesterday morning.  We were guest presenters on the Mid Morning Matters programme on Marlow FM, a local radio station serving a community of around a thousand people (on a good day).

We get invited to come onto the show every now and again ostensibly to talk about the things we love and hate about living in Marlow.  It's a bit of a secret, but I haven't lived in Marlow for almost thirty years now, so probably shouldn't even be on there.  But as I spend as much time there as many of my Marlow based relatives, I think I just about get away with it.  The time between our appearances is probably just enough for the DJ to forget just how terrible it was when we were on last.  He never learns and always seems very excited when we are on.  It's either that or fear, I haven't quite decided yet.

So for the past couple of weeks, Miss R and I have been discussing which topics we should throw out there for the poor unsuspecting listener.  You'll note I use the word 'listener' in the singular?  I am more inclined to think that my estimate of the people tuned in is far more realistic than that of the eternal optimist who runs the show.  So at 9.15 yesterday, I swooped past Miss R's work and we drove down to the radio station together.  

The station is completely run by volunteers, and is based in the middle of a children's activity centre.  Whenever we are there, we are guaranteed to see hordes of unruly children being rounded up by middle aged women in sensible shoes, all of them wearing identical baseball hats in case they get separated. Well, I suppose you can't be too careful when the centre is made up of a stretch of river and a free standing climbing wall.

The studio was the hottest I have ever known yesterday.  It's hard trying to be entertaining when you're doing a passable impression of a human watering can, and we were only allowed the fan on when the music was playing, just in case the audience thought we were bringing the show to them from the confines of an Apache helicopter.

So sitting down in the studio, cans on (DJ speak for headphones don't you know) and microphones adjusted, the DJ had just started playing a record when Miss R threw her hands up into the air and proclaimed very loudly that, 

'Bugger.  I've left my notes at home'.

And so it was that we free wheeled through the next two hours and covered many topics from sharks to schnauzers and cycling to Tom Kerridge.  As the time wore on and the studio got warmer (all that hot air I expect) all I could think off was stripping off and dunking myself into a pool somewhere.

As I said to the DJ just as he was taking a swig of his coffee, 'Naked radio presenting.  It's the way forward'.  Well that's as may be, but I would have serious concerns about the children looking into the studio from the climbing wall.

They'd never listen to the radio in the same way again...


Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Rabbit hole...

I am going to now say what all of you are thinking and are too afraid to say.  

IT'S TOO BLOODY HOT!!

If I was a wax crayon, I would have melted into a slimy blue puddle by now, but as it is, I am sticking to chairs, desks and worktops, carefully peeling my skin away from the tacky surfaces to avoid leaving a fresh layer of skin behind, leaking through every item of clothing I wear, and wincing every time someone pats me on the back where there is a small patch of sunburn.

The dogs have turned into ornamental rugs with the heat, refusing to walk anywhere, choosing instead to sprawl with all four legs stretched out.  This peaked yesterday evening when I brought their food over to them.  Percy couldn't even be bothered to stand to eat his, and just dropped his head into the bowl, where it stayed till it was all gone.  I could see Reg eyeing him up as he did this, probably wondering that if Percy died, how much food would still be in there.  I am having to walk them at 6.30am and 9.30pm, these being the only times when I can coax Percy out of the house.

Talking of walking, where I take the boys has got incredibly overgrown over the last few weeks, and there have been times when I've lost one of the dogs, or had to resort to using the compass on my phone to locate the position of the gate leading home.  The husband, listening to me griping about this, said that he would go round the paths with the strimmer, and generally make things easier for me on my walks.

Well I headed over there yesterday morning, and he had done a fantastic job. The once skinny paths were now wide avenues, and I walked towards the Rabbit Field admiring his handiwork.  Now he had warned me that when he had strimmed the Rabbit Field paths back, several large rabbit holes had been exposed and I should be careful when I went round for the first time.  

So suitably advised, I watched very carefully where I was going, until I chanced upon a particularly neat looking rabbit burrow.  Taking a closer look, I could see that some care had been taken to make the entrance to this burrow immaculate.  The grass had been cropped very shortly, but not by rabbit teeth looking at the shredded grass around the outside of the burrow.  It would appear that the husband had very carefully trimmed the long grass with his strimmer, making it look extremely smart.  I'm not too sure that the rabbits inside would have been too keen on him removing their one defence against a fox, but I expect the increased breeze would have been welcome last night.

I was extremely impressed with his dedication to the job in hand, and was wondering whether this skill might open other career opportunities for him.  I know that Mrs H (she with the miracle performing Beauty Salon) is always looking for therapists who are not too worried about doing the more 'personal' treatments.

It's either that, or a career in topiary...


Monday, 19 June 2017

Lazin' on a sunny afternoon...

I expect, that like me, you are all waking up this morning regretting not going to look for the factor 30 which you last used sometime in 2014.  Sunshine, the weekend and alcohol are not the best bedfellows for us lily white Brits, and it doesn't matter how many times we turn a lovely shade of lobster, we never seem to learn.

Take yesterday for example.  A beautifully sunny Sunday with not a wisp of air around  to give you momentary relief. Daughter number one and I were bikini-clad and stretched out on the sun loungers, like a couple of lizards on a rock. It was so hot, that I said to her that I doubted that I would last more than five minutes unless the wind picked up a bit. And then I had a great idea.

Heaving myself from the sunbed, I trotted upstairs and brought down son number two's electric fan.  I then grabbed an extension lead, a chair and after some military-style manoeuvres we eventually managed to get the fan ideally placed to waft some breeze over the two of us.  It was perfect, and we congratulated ourselves on our ingenuity. And then daughter number one reminded me that son number one also had a fan upstairs, so she grabbed that one and after a few minutes, each of us had a fan pointed up our bodies cooling us down.  Daughter number one said that we should call this 'pro-bathing' as it definitely showed commitment to a cause.  

And here's where the trouble started I suppose.  The breeze masked the heat on our bodies (a bit like blowing on a pan of peas to stop them boiling over) so after an hour or so, we had probably achieved what all of us Brits do on a sunny day, and had 'overdone it'.

It looks like the weather is going to stay like this for a few days, and I would imagine that if the temperature stays as high as yesterday, then I am going to spend most of my afternoons either under the garden sprinkler, or sitting in the car with the air conditioning on.  I spoke to a couple of friends yesterday en route to water the vegetables clinging to life in my allotment, and both said that although they were loathe to say it, it 'really was too hot'.  I had to quietly agree, but wouldn't say it out loud as the last thing I want is to have to turn the heating back on and get my thermal vests out of the airing cupboard.

So what with yesterday also being Father's Day, I had a houseful of family here, all pushing and shoving to get into the one square meter of shade in my back garden.  As the day wore on, we were all sitting around the garden under various shrubs, umbrellas and large hats, like an oversized human dot-to-dot, and conversations were held in very loud voices.

They all eventually went home, and after another vegetable drenching,  I settled down for a spot of Sunday night letching with Poldark.  No scything this week, but many opportunities for silent gasping at Captain Ross The husband also enjoys this, but definitely not for the same reasons as I do I feel.  He says he likes the scenery.

Maybe we do watch it for the same reasons after all...



Sunday, 18 June 2017

Blue is the colour...

What is it about men?  You spend hours getting ready, wearing good supportive drawers, neat makeup, a pretty dress and a pair of wedges and not a comment is made.  Sun comes out, and I don a four year old bikini, with heavily padded top to aid non existent bosom, and baggy pants which do nothing to hold back the ravages of time and gravity, allowing my stomach and derriere complete free rein, and all of a sudden, I am the most beautiful thing the husband has ever seen and he can't keep his hands to himself.  

Don't worry ladies, I didn't let the side down - apparently a flip-flop has several more uses than I'd originally thought. So for three glorious hours, I lay in the sun like a heavily oiled Blue Whale, knowing (and it's a fact) that a sun tan makes you look thinner.  It would have helped if I'd turned over and done my back, but that's the thing with the British Summer. You never know how long it's going to last, so I never waste time doing the bits that I can't see. From the back my legs probably look like a generous slab of Cornish Blue, whereas from the front, they look like a pair of highly varnished table legs.  

Talking of bliss, there were no kids at home for most of the day yesterday, so the husband and I decided to do something which we rarely do (not that, remember the flip-flop) and we got completely pickled on some cider he'd brought home a couple of days ago.  This cider was one I'd not seen before, and was called Red Dog, which was quite fitting after yesterday's sun bathing marathon.  I'm just glad that both sets of neighbours were out for the afternoon. I'm sure that if they'd been in, then there would have been a knock at the front door with a polite request to 'keep the noise down to a dull roar'.

So today is Father's Day - I was very prepared this year, which makes a change, and presents and cards are wrapped and written for my dad and the husband.  Later on today my dad, his partner Miss C, and Miss R and Mr B (her rather lovely new chap) are heading over here for a barbecue.  

The husband, like most men, is very possessive over his gas barbecue.  It doesn't seem to matter how many times I tell him that it bears no resemblance whatsoever to a caveman cooking a hairy mammoth steak over a fire, he won't be told, and he refuses to let anyone have control of his tongs and basting brush.

As we all know ladies, barbecuing falls into the Blue Job category.  This list includes two other jobs. Lawnmowing and the taking out of bins each Tuesday.

Don't get me started on what's on the Pink Job list.  It would be easier to tell you what's not on it.

Barbecuing, lawns and bins,that's what...


Saturday, 17 June 2017

Back for good...

Son number one returned from university yesterday.  For the last time. Four years of living in a squat, swigging Frosty Jack and not getting out of bed in any hour which only has one digit have finally come to an end.

Anticipating his return, I had completely cleared all my washing, wanting to give him a clear run with his.  There was an ulterior motive to this of course, as the last thing I wanted was for him to say that he 'hadn't done his washing because there was one dirty tea towel in the washing machine and he didn't want to mess up my domestic activities'. Mmm...fat chance.   So I left home yesterday, leaving a house so tidy that it could have been in an estate agent's window.  Lady H (she with an eye for a cobweb) had been on Thursday, so my house was positively sparkling.

Coming back after work, there was a delivery on the doorstep.  A damp cardboard box which was slightly battered at one corner.  Peeling back the soggy cardboard I realised it was the 'established vegetable plants' which I had bought for the bottomless pit which is my allotment.  Having lost yet another round of seedlings to pesky varmints, I thought that if I bought some larger plants, then perhaps the thieving vegetarians might be a little deterred.

Well these plants didn't look much bigger than the last casualties, but they had been lovingly wrapped in wet newspaper and thrust in a plastic bag, so the least I could do was plant them.  Fast forward two hours and I resemble Pigpen from Peanuts and have a blister on my hand the size of a walnut.  Three beds have been dug over (again), three beds replanted (again) and the runner bean plants have been replaced for the third time. I know I've said it before, but we have spent that much money over there that the husband and I could eat out every day for the next month and not even scratch the surface.

So as at 6.00 yesterday evening, I had sweetcorn, cauliflower, leeks and onions.  When I go over to water my leafy babies later today I am just hoping that they will still be there. I said to the husband that if this new lot of plants don't survive then I am going to tarmac the allotment and stick a bench on it with a plaque on the back which will read, 

'In memory of Mrs G who hated this place with a vengeance'.

So plants in, watered, and bathed with a liberal dose of organic bug deterrent, I staggered back to the house.

My drive was full and sons one and two and daughter number one were home.  My previously sparkling house now resembled the squat son number one had left behind, with bags spewing dubious contents across every flat surface. Son number one was still in that 'happy to be home' stage, where he wanders from cupboard to drawer, dreamily saying things like 'aaah, glasses', or 'oooh, cutlery'.  Obviously he has been swigging from bottles and eating with his fingers for the last few months, so some re-training on how to behave when in polite society might be required.

Looking round the Bring and Buy sale which was previously my kitchen, I decided that there was only one way to get through the next few days, by which time most of the unpacked bags and boxes would have made their way to the garage, where they will reside for the next three years before the husband finally relents and takes it all to the tip (if daughter number one's stuff is anything to go by).

'Alcohol anyone?'



Friday, 16 June 2017

Hand in my pocket...

Apologies for depriving you all of my normal early morning bleatings, but yesterday was crammed from dawn to dusk.  

I was going to write about my trip to see The Red Shoes on Wednesday night, but something happened yesterday morning which has to take precedence over this.  To be honest, I still haven't got over the shock.  Let me explain.

I have fallen foul of the scourge of the dressing gown pocket.

Picture the scene.  I'm heading downstairs after my early morning cup of tea, and as well as my mug, I am also carrying my mobile, a hairclip, a spare pair of socks and a piece of foliage kindly left behind on my bedroom carpet by Reg.  I also had four towels and two bathmats which had to go downstairs.  Now any normal person would simply do all this in two journeys, calmly and efficiently taking everything downstairs where it could easily be put in the right place.  I prefer a different tack, not being prepared to do in two trips what I can do in one.

So I crammed everything I could in my dressing gown pockets (including the mug) scooped up the towels and mats and headed down to the kitchen.  Dumping the dirty stuff next to the washing machine, I started removing the contents of my pockets.  Well I wasn't surprised to see the mug, mobile phone, hairclip, socks and foliage come out, but further investigation in the aforementioned pockets revealed that I had obviously been collecting bits and pieces as I wafted around the house in the mornings and evenings.

The first thing to come out was a 50p piece.  There is un unwritten (and unspoken actually) rule in this house that if I find money, then it's mine to keep.  Next came three bits of a mauled dog chew.  Not a plastic kind of chew, but the gluey hide stuff. Let's face it, I have been wandering round with bits of dead cow in my pocket for the last week or so.  Next up?  Three screwed up tissues, a receipt from the Post Office, a pair of tweezers (these are like gold-dust, and should be appropriated on every occasion), and a pair of knickers (don't ask).

But the best was saved till last.  Fourteen bits of chewed up flower pot. Percy and Reg love flower pots, and after the initial chasing round the garden fun has worn off, they simply decimate them.   After I trod on these several times, I have learned to pick them up as I see them and pop them in the bin...or not as it would seem.

So I have officially reached the age where I can pick something up from the floor and not actually make it to the bin, having completely forgotten where I was going and what I was going there for.

Great. I'm so looking forward to what's coming next...



Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Open up...

It was back to the local torture chamber yesterday.  This would be the one with the tray of shiny pointy instruments, the dodgy glasses and the mouthwash which looks and tastes like what is left in the saucepan after I've strained the sprouts.

Yes, it was back to the dentist yesterday to start the work needed to give me back my smile, because for the last six months I have had a smile like a row of bombed houses after a contretemps with a corn on the cob.  

So lying back in the dentist's chair, I prepared myself for what was to come.  You might recall that I have spoken about my dentist before.  He actually has a sense of humour, and is the most gentle of dentists I have ever had the fortune to know.  Lying in the chair with my head at a 45 degree tilt to the right, a pool of dribble forming on my shoulder while three separate pieces of metal probed, sucked and poked, he chatted away about sunshine, Tuesdays, roast chicken and colour swatches (for my tooth, and not curtains or upholstery.  Not too sure I'd want a paisley molar).  Pausing, he laid one hand on my shoulder.  'How are you doing down there?  Alright?'

Now we all know that conversation is nigh on impossible at the dentist's, unless you are walking into the room, or leaving it.  I grunted something unintelligible back at him,  and he nodded, and told me I was 'doing really well'.

So how the hell did he know what I was implying from my grunting?  Was it 'Just fine thank you', or was it, 'I have been sitting here for half an hour while you talk nonsense.  I have a numb tooth, a soggy shirt collar, and your dental nurse has a body odour issue which is very apparent when I am tucked into her armpit.  My mouth has been open so long now that my jaw has started clicking furiously, and I'm frightened that when you're finished I'll never be able to close it again, living the rest of my life resembling The Wide Mouthed Frog'.

Deep breath...

It took about five hours for the numbness to wear off.  The husband was at home when I got back, and he said to me that 'as the worst was now done, I should be smiling'.

Oh I would have loved to, trust me...


Tuesday, 13 June 2017

My ever changing moods...

Something very strange happened when I woke up on Monday morning.  For the first time since working at Binland, I wished that I had booked yesterday off as a day's holiday.  I was feeling a little bit miffed, and harrumphed my way around the piles of detritus lying around.  It's usually at this point that I start muttering under my breath, so it was just as well that the husband and son number two had left for work as they might have been surprised at the extent of my swearing.  

As I'd been up since 5.30am (how I love having a husband who likes to 'beat the traffic') it left me with some extra time, so I pounced upon the delivery which had turned up late on Sunday.  This parcel contained four dresses, bought with the hope that they might be suitable for work.  Pulling out the royal blue one, my heart soared at the beautiful colour, and I wriggled into it.  My mood plummeted once again as I couldn't get it anywhere near my ample hips, and it was a size 14.  Next dress was a grey one, and I approached this with a bit more caution.  But lo and behold, it fitted beautifully, AND this was a size 12! Yah-boo-sucks to the royal blue dress, and once again, my mood was lifted.

As I was coming back downstairs, I noticed that the lid wasn't on the linen basket properly.  As I got closer, I realised that this was because it was so full, the lid had been perched on top of the dirty clothes like a wicker beret.  Picking up the basket, I trudged downstairs, muttering yet again about how us girls have so much crap to deal with.  So washing machine on, it was now time to walk the dogs.

Opening the gate into the meadow with the sun shining and the wind whipping up a frenzy, I breathed the fresh air in and felt really happy.  And why wouldn't I be?  I love a man who just happens to love me back.  My children stick to the straight and narrow (most of the time).  I have great friends and a once-in-a-lifetime family. I'm healthy, and I love my job.  All in all, lots of reasons to smile.  The black shadow which had been perched on my left shoulder evaporated with a 'poof' and I strolled through the long grass counting my blessings.

And then, out of the corner of my eye, I watched Percy drop and roll into the largest pile of green fox poo seen to man.  Screaming at him like a fishwife, I sprinted across to him and dragged him off.  I now had exactly twenty five minutes to walk him back and clean him up before leaving for work.  With my hand inside a nappy sack, I groped at the filthy collar and clipped him and Reg onto the lead and strode home, dragging the two of them behind me.  As we got to the gate, Percy decided to shake, which meant that from my knee to ankle, I was now covered in it too.

So clothes changed, dog washed, I headed off to work still feeling like I was going to explode.  As I rounded the last corner, I was faced with a yellow Mini with black stripes. 'Oh please be called Bumble', I said under my breath, smiling.  And then, as it passed me, I saw that it was towing a tiny trailer carrying a large, pink ceramic pig.

Now that's something you don't see everyday.  By the time I got to work, I'd got the hysterical laughter under control and was ready to face the day with a smile.

My mood had been up and down more times that a whore's drawers yesterday morning, but at least it ended on a smile...


Monday, 12 June 2017

Too much...

I've had 75% of my children back home this weekend.  How do I know this?  

1.  There's no food in the fridge
2.  Every glass is missing
3.  For a short time, there were phone/laptop leads hanging out of every kitchen socket
4.  The husband hasn't stopped smiling

The only one missing was son number one.  How do I know this?

1.  The bathroom cabinet door is never left open

The girls were back for the weekend because we were celebrating my god-daughter's 21st birthday and a big party had been arranged on Saturday night. The plan was that daughter number two would drive the five of us there and back, as she had to get up and revise for some up and coming exam.  But what actually happened was that all of us started necking Prosecco at around 6.30, peaking around 9.00pm when daughter number two realised that she had gone past the point of no return with regard to getting behind the wheel. 

Having spent the next hour trying to book a taxi, we were almost reconciling ourselves to the fact that we might have to walk home, as all the taxis were booked.  Listening to daughter number two slurring down the line about where we needed collecting from, I'm not too surprised that they all said they were booked.  Eventually, we managed to lure daughter number two's best friend from her bed, and clad in pyjamas, she came and collected us all, pouring us out onto our drive at around midnight.

I was rather afraid that a hangover might have been on the cards yesterday morning, but obviously, the copious amounts of headache pills I took before bed did the trick, so when the husband suggested a morning at the Stoke Row Steam Rally, I was up for it.  

Have you ever been to a Steam Rally?  I have never seen so many people wearing corduroy, and  there were many middle aged men stooped over various contraptions which seemed to make a lot of noise, but not much else.  Having said that, there was one gentleman who stood proudly next to his steam engine gesturing to the light bulb which would fleetingly light up every so often.  Was I impressed?  Well, no not really.  It didn't even have a dimmer switch for heaven's sake.

One of the things which the husband likes at these events is the lack of vegetables, salad and fruit.  We had already decided that a sausage bap was on the cards, and these were polished off within half an hour of arriving.  We then managed a couple of Mr Whippy cornets (dogs too) and the husband finished his gastronomic morning with a hog roast, complete with a large slab of crackling.

When I suggested that it was time to leave, his lower lip stuck out, and in a reedy little voice he said, 'Oh no...do we have to?'  Taking him firmly by the hand, I walked him back towards the car while he dragged his feet and grumbled slightly.  'We can't afford to stay here a moment longer', I said.  'If you eat any more crap, I'll never get you behind the steering wheel'.  (We were in my Mini again, which takes no prisoners on the space front).

So it was back home for the compulsory Sunday afternoon nap, and then we polished off the weekend with a McDonalds. Never mind not being able to get into my car for work this morning, even my extra large Harvest Festival Knickers (all is safely gathered in) are looking unlikely.

It's back on the lettuce today...oh great.  I love lettuce.....
  

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Not fair...

I headed over to Marlow yesterday morning for the normal Saturday breakfast.  It was a small gathering as the Mother, Miss R and Mrs Jangles had all had better offers (not difficult when you look at the fare on offer at our venue of choice).  So it was just me, my dad and his partner, putting the world to rights over a couple of crapuccinos (this is not a typo in case you're wondering.  The coffees are really that bad).  Unfortunately, I made the schoolgirl error of bringing up the subject of the election, which gave my dad free rein as to 'what he'd do if he was in power' for at least half an hour.  Needless to say this involved moving anyone who wasn't law abiding to somewhere like Alcatraz, where they would basically be allowed to do what they liked within the island's confines. 

The only location which I could come up with was the Isle of Man.  I went there once and it rained all day which I understand is a common thing throughout the year, so maybe the inhabitants would be quite keen to give up their soggy island to the ne'er-do-wells of this country.  Not too sure where they'd choose to live though.  And what about the TT race?  I can't imagine that being held around the streets of London, can you?  Or perhaps we let the TT race continue, and give the riders points for any law breaker which they manage to wipe out.  A bit like Pac Man...

So anyway, back to Marlow.  It's the Regatta this weekend, with a fun fair, stripy blazers and pretty frocks.  The only thing missing are the boats which were evicted several years ago, really removing any need to dress up and head for the river.  But you know what us Brits are like... Traditions have to be kept to hand down to the next generation, even if that tradition is just a lukewarm Pimms regurgitated on the grass after three consecutive rides on the Waltzer.  I'm speaking from experience here. 

The fair was a massive event in my mid to late teens, and I can remember so clearly the misery on a Sunday, when the fair left town.  It all looked so glamorous with the loud music, candy floss machine and the rides which divested you of your loose change (and stomach contents on occasions).  Miss R and I used to walk up and down the path between the rides, sashaying in our new Miss Selfridge dresses and shivering, because wearing a cardigan was not cool. Our stilettos would sink in the grass, and there would be oil smudges up the back of our legs from the dodgems.

Of course, you reach an age when all you see are the out of date confectionery, the deathtrap rides, and a rather fat lady wearing a too small push up bra which gives her the appearance of one big bosom in the middle of her chest. This lady is usually holding either a gun or several darts, so it's never a good idea to give eye contact.  The glamour is gone, only to be replaced by flat shoes, a money belt and a fold up waterproof, just in case.  

You also know (and this advice is always imparted to your children) never to go on the rides on the first night when they are half price.  I always had a vision of Waltzer Wayne alternately looking at his newly erected ride and his upturned palm, in which would be two screws and a bolt.

Life lessons my friends.  Life lessons....


Saturday, 10 June 2017

I go to sleep...

So another week limps to an end.  

Since Wednesday night, I have managed to squeeze in around three whole hours of sleep. The first night's lack of snoozies was down to the pain I was in after Swing Dance Club, and meant that I was roaming the house looking for various pain relief lotions and potions. Turned out that everything was in son number two's bedroom, the one room which I am afraid to go into after the sun goes down as I am sure it harbours bacteria which could wipe out an entire country if put into the wrong hands.

After my sleepless night, Mrs S commented on my bloodshot eyes as I walked into work that morning.  By 11.00 she was offering me matchsticks, and it was with great relief that I headed home at 1.00 where I crashed onto the sofa with a trashy mag and a cup of tea.

And then it was election night.  Now I am not a particularly political person but for some reason I always stay up and watch the results as they come in.  It started with the election of Barrack Obama some years ago, and since then, I have armed myself with the remote control and a mug of tea and steeled myself for the unfolding dramas.  So there I am on Thursday night, banished to the dogs' bedroom.  I told someone at work yesterday that I went to this room as there is a television in there.  'Oh.  Do they like watching television then?'  Of course I then had to explain that this used to be daughter number two's bedroom, but as she has now moved out, the dogs have moved in.

As I waffled on about this, for some reason, I came out with the fact that 'the dogs prefer the radio anyway'.  I really don't help myself sometimes.

So back to Thursday night.  I don't know why they start the election results programmes so early on in the proceedings.  By 11.00 there were a couple of results, and then nothing but waffling by various pundits for the next two hours.  I dozed off and then woke up again around 3.00 when I watched the rest of what was unfolding.  The strange thing about being awake in the middle of the night is that I always feel hungry.  Actually, not just hungry, but ravenous.  I can normally quash this with a mug of tea and a digestive, but Thursday night demanded more.

Which explains why at 3.30am I was tucking into two slices of jammy toast with a wedge of cake on the side.  I had also considered some salami but decided it might be pushing things a little too far having that in bed.  Just my luck, the Gaviscon would have been in son number two's bedroom as well.  

At 7.00am as I was getting ready for work, I had to remind myself not to have any more breakfast and it was a very bleary eyed bird who wandered into Binland yesterday.  If you remember, yesterday was Master B's last day at work, and as I walked into my office, he thrust a box of chocolate muffins and some truffles under my nose.  'Help yourself to goodies', he said.

Breakfast?  What breakfast...




Friday, 9 June 2017

Down on my knees...

It was back to Swing Club for the husband and me on Wednesday evening. For any new readers, I should clarify that this is the Oxford Swing Dance Club where we are learning to Lindy Hop, and not an hour's fumbling in a dark room with Derek from the Bowls Club.

So for the last four weeks, we have been concentrating on the Charleston, the dance of choice for the Bright Young Things of the 1920's.  I did at one point wonder if there were any dances which were more appropriate for Faded Old Bags, but unless you include chair aerobics done in time to a Vera Lynn medley, I don't think that there is anything else on offer.  

So the husband and I danced with different partners for an hour (ladies rotate anti clockwise to ensure that everyone gets a go at dancing with a chap as some weeks there is a definite shortage of gentlemen), and then there was time for a short break.  This involves a cup of tea and a custard cream, far different to the champagne and cocaine which the BYT's would have had.  Mind you, some of that might have loosened the old legs up a little which would have been useful for the next part of the evening.

This is when the teachers take us through a popular dance of the time, usually danced alone, but in rows (think 5-6-7-8 by Steps and you'll get a good idea of what I mean).  This week, we did a manic Charleston routine, complete with black bottoms, Savoy kicks and grandma's knees (more on this later).  We waved our arms around (this is where the term Flappers come from - I think that Bingo Wings are probably a modern day version), and this middle aged bird flung herself into it with gusto, while the husband sat it out and watched.  He says it makes him happy to see me having fun, but I have a dreadful feeling that one day footage will materialise of this night.

So after an hour of this, I slipped off my dance shoes and we took ourselves off home.  It wasn't till I tried to get out of the car that I realised I had a problem.  My poor feet, never good at the best of times, might as well have fallen off as they were about as useful as a one legged man at an arse kicking party.  The husband and I limped into the house like a couple of octogenarians  and the husband claimed that finally, Swing Club had broken him.

Back to the grandma's knees then.  I now have these permanently after Wednesday night.

They go beautifully with my pensioners ankles...


Thursday, 8 June 2017

Working man...

As some of you might have guessed by now, I have a most unladylike job.  I sell bins for a living, persuading the businesses of the home counties to stick their waste anywhere other than in a hole in the ground.  So although it's not ladylike (heels, slap and frocks are not required) I suppose it's very worthwhile, which is a good thing.

For the past two years, I have been working with Master B in the sales office.  You may remember him as the one with odd music tastes, strange tattoos and a penchant for cat food (tuna-based meals for one - not good in a room the size of the average airing cupboard).  Sadly, Master B is off to pastures new, abandoning Master P and me to the highs and lows of trade waste.  

Yesterday, it became apparent that that Master B was clearing his desk out.  How did I know this? Well, most of the desk's contents were reverently laid out on my desk in neat piles, and when Master B saw me looking at it all with that one raised eyebrow look which I have perfected so well (years of practise with four children) he said to me, 'I thought it might come in useful'.

Let's discuss what his interpretation of 'useful' is, shall we.

First of all, there was a heavily stained drinks mat.  It had the company logo on it I think, although it was hard to tell as it had more rings than Saturn.  This was pushed to one side as I already have a lovely drinks coaster which Master P bought me, which claims that 'I love Prague'.  I've never been, but it's safe to assume that its similar to Krakow, so I'm happy to go along with the protestation of love.

The next item was a stack of forty three A5 envelopes, all addressed to Master B - we use these to encourage customers to send back their paperwork more quickly.  Now I have my own envelopes, as does Master P, so yesterday I carefully Tippexed Master B's name off the envelope, replacing his name with 'FAO The Sales Office'.  Well I couldn't just chuck them into the recycling bin, could I?  I hate waste...

The last item, but the most worrying of all, were four strips of very bendy wood, the kind which would make a very satisfying 'thwack' if you hit them against the desk.  Now not only do I have any idea where they came from, but I don't know what possible use they could have.  Perhaps they might come in handy when breaking in the new salesman?

Not to worry, other than the envelopes (which I am sure will never be used as they now no longer reach my demanding standards) the other items were filed away under 'R' (for Rubbish, so straight into the bin). Of course, it could just as easily have been filed under 'C' (Crap), as the final destination would have been the same.

Talking to someone about the job vacancy yesterday, Master B was asked what the commission was like.  'Well', he said.  'It's not all yachts and champagne you know'.  

So true, but it has been a lot of fun working with him...



Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Ebony and ivory...

When we had that hot spell a couple of weeks ago (summer?) the thought of getting the hair dryer and straighteners out to tame my unruly mop was not a pleasant one.  'Oh, I'll just leave it curly', I thought.  'How bad can it be?'

So here's the thing with naturally curly hair.  It takes commitment.  Once you have decided that the curls are in for the day, there is an element of washing and application of product, after which, you have to wait a couple of hours to see what the end result is. I daren't take a hairdryer anywhere near my hair if I am going au naturel, as I will resemble Crystal Tips (see below)
As you can see, this is not the best of looks.  So having waited the obligatory two hours, the end result is what you are stuck with for the rest of the day.  As the time crept up to when I would have to leave for work, I stared at my hair in horror.  The bits that I could see which had previously been straightened to within an inch of their life looked like frizzy rat tails. whereas the rest of my hair, ie, the bit round the back, looked like a sheep with dreadlocks. It was also a completely different colour to the front.  I resembled Limahl from Katchagoogoo (as below)

There is an explanation to this.  When your hair is straight, you can get away with just having half a head of highlights done.  Any gentlemen reading this right now, I should explain that it is the top half, and not the left or right side.  The whole Cruella de Vil look was never one I'd like to adopt....

So yesterday I was back at the hairdressers to have a full head of highlights done.  The stylist was very tactful, and neatly laughed away my concerns of resembling a 1980's pop singer (let's face it, she didn't have a clue who I was talking about - I have fillings older than her).

So three hours later, I was a blonde bombshell (bomb site would probably be more accurate) and as she fluffed my locks, I mentioned to her the trouble I was having with the side bits which were insisting on staying straight.  'Have you tried braiding it?' she asked.

'Braiding?'  I asked, 'Don't you think I am a little old for that?'  Well apparently not, and she suggested a couple of plaits from the side, pinned over my ears, and falling loosely to my shoulders (these are her words, and have no bearing on my hair whatsoever).

Now I'm not sure that I could rock the whole Swiss Heidi look, but I am always open to suggestions.

Now where will I find a goat....



Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Three stars...

While out walking my two dogs this afternoon, we chanced upon the very regal looking German Pointer who lives over the road from us.  He is a magnificent beast called Otto, and there was a bit of argy-bargy between the three of them as we don't tend to bump into him often.  As they are all from German descent, I like to imagine that the three of them could carry on a good conversation.

Here's how it might have gone...

Otto: 'Afternoon peasants'.

Percy: 'Good afternoon Mr Otto.  How are you today?' (Percy knows his place and treats Otto with deference.  The fact that Percy is only as tall as Otto's left testicle has some bearing on this)

Reg: 'Awriiiight Ginger?'  This would have been said in his best Catherine Tate 'bovvered' voice.  Reg likes to think that an Essex drawl is cool on a gingham cravat-wearing Miniature Schnauzer from the Home Counties.

Otto: 'I'm not ginger, it's Liver Roan I'll have you know, although I like to call it Chestnut'.

Reg: 'Yeah, whateverrrr...'

Percy: 'So Mr Otto, have you had a lovely walk?' Percy likes a quiet life, and since Reg arrived has learned how important diverting attention can be.

Otto: 'Marvellous, thank you Percy.  My human took me to the woods where I found lots of new and exciting smells'.

Percy:  'That sounds lovely Mr Otto.  Reg and I have been to our human's allotment to see whether anything survived the night'.

Reg: 'Yeah, I chased a rabbit into anuvver allotment and peed over someone's strawberries. I'd like to see their face when they try them wiv a bit o' sugar'.  (Cue for rolling around uncontrollably on the floor while all four paws clutch sides)

Percy (raising eyes to the sky): 'Apologies for my brother Mr Otto.  He's very young, and not educated in the ways of polite society'.

Otto: 'Amusing name you have there, young Reg.  Is it short for anything?'

Reg: 'Dunno.  But my humans sometimes call me 'you little bastard' or 'scrounger'.  Does anyone ever shorten your name?  Like Ot?  Or do they just call you Ginger?'

Otto: 'I  am  not  ginger, Stumpy.  You should learn some manners when around your elders'.

Percy at this point starts looking around for an escape route as it's all going to kick off.

Reg: 'Face...? Bovvered...?  I might be stumpy now, but I will grow a bit more.  And guess what?'

Otto (bored now):  'What?'

Reg: 'You'll still be bloody ginger....'