Thursday, 26 September 2013

Airhead

I am regarded as an airhead. The scantiest mishap is used as corroboration against me. There was that time, for instance when I found I'd carefully soaped a block of butter in the washing up bowl (this was not my fault: the Vicar had slipped it into the butter dish while it waited in the queue of dirty dinner plates). The time when I decanted a hot tray of oven chips into the laundry basket (perfectly excusable; oven and washing machine sit side by side); the time I sent my son to school with an unfilled sandwich, poured orange juice into the cafetiere and the occasion last night when I poached two eggs in a waterless pan. 'Couldn't you smell the burning?' asked the Vicar incredulous.

It's true that if I had properly marshalled my faculties I would not have left the car keys in the door all weekend or opened smalltalk with the Bishop with an account of a neighbour's breast implants. And it affects me as much as my family when I visit Budgens to buy bread and forget to buy bread.

What my detractors don't realise is that these confusions are the result of a furious intellect. Like all mothers I have the mental scope of an oligarth. While assembling the school lunch boxes I am simultaneously clocking the number of baked beans left in the tin in the fridge, assessing the rain clouds bulging over the sheets on the washing line, mentally scanning my wardrobe to effect the transformation of the 8-year-old into a Tudor peasant for school history day and conjuring opinions for the Vicar on the 'theology of place'.

When, on frigid mornings, the school rings to complain that my children have arrived without coats I point out that my brain has spent the dawn hours tussling the opaque login of Parentpay, diagnosing the brown growth blooming on the kitchen vinyl, outsmarting the patient-proof telephone menu introduced by our local surgery and improvising an emergency definition of an isosceles triangle.

A mind sagging beneath a burden of digits - the children's current shoe size,  three month's worth of impending birthdays, the eleven-year-old's next hospital date, the Vicar's blood pressure readings and the latest price-per-litre at the three local petrol stations - cannot be expected to focus reliably on domestic trivia. I am explaining this to the 11-year-old who has found her sock drawer full of mens' Y-fronts. 'You wouldn't even remember to put your shoes on to walk to school if I didn't remind you,' I tell her, and I have a brief, awed vision of how the household would disintegrate without me to mastermind it.

Then a familiar stench silences me. I've confused the oven knob with the grill and the smoke alarm joins in the wails of anguish at the charred lumps that were to be our supper.

Are there any other airheads out there? If so, congregate companiably here and tell me your finest moments.

24 comments:

  1. You have just described an average day for me! This week has been particularly bad, the primary school phoned me yesterday at 9am to ask me to drop in youngest book bag (which I'd forgotten apparently), I remembered at lunchtime & dropped it in with apologies, the school secretary said not to worry as my daughter had already told her I forget everything within 5 minutes - and they all had a good laugh about it!

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    1. I wish you went to my school! At scouts they make special allowances for me because I'm always the one who forgets to fill in the forms and pay the money.

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  2. Do airheads have air fingers, making them brilliant at the air guitar?

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  3. My absolute worst 'airhead' incident ever was the time I soothed my chapped lips with cuticle remover. The area above my top lip lost its skin and for a month I had to wait at the school gates sporting what appeared to be a red Hitler-style moustache.

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    1. I find that oddly comforting. I once mistook Anusol for my face cream and that was a devil to get off before Sunday Mass.

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  4. Oh yes! the keys to house have frequently spent the night in the front door, bought everything at the store instead of what I went for, read the same book 3 times because I couldn't remember if I'd read it, forgot which hospital my eye doctor worked at and searched the other hospital. The list is endless.

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    1. It's consoling, isn't it, to be in such large company. At the dentists yesterday I nipped to the loo while the anaesthetic kicked in and clean forgot which of the myriad treatment rooms I'd emerged from so blundered upon several patients.

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  5. I once drove home from eldest son's school with his fruit salad (proudly made in class that day) on the car roof. Miraculously it survived the journey. Sadly this type of event is not unusual! (anon rach)

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  6. Just today, a mere 3 house ago, I returned home (after being at work all day) to find the front door wide open - a burglars paradise with a laptop and iPad sat side by side on the sofa. Thankfully my guardian angel must have been working hard today - no damage done. Of course I blamed my son, he was the last one out after all. And en yesterday, another airhead moment - my weekly shopping delivery arrives with 6 bags of 6 apples instead of the usual 6. No frantically searching for suitable apple recipes! Great post as always :)

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  7. I can easily join this club. When shall we have our 1st meeting? I will bring the wine. :-)

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  8. I, of course, never have airhead moments (except about an hour ago when making an apple crumble, and I used 175g of butter instead of 75g then had to spend ages doing the maths to increase the ratio of the other ingredients). However, I know someone who couldn't fathom where the load of laundry she'd put in the washing machine had gone, until hours later she found it in the oven. Another time she rang directory enquiries, who asked 'name please'. The number they provided sounded strangely familiar, but it wasn't until she dialled it and heard her own answer-phone message that she realised why...

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  9. Oh dear. I have recently become aware of a similar theme in my own life. I remonstrated with my critical daughter last week about how Yes! The Bug was totally capable of barbequeing a pair of shoes without any input from her (I meant drawing, obviously). And this morning I put my iphone in the toilet. But I did manage to get 9 party invites amended to a preferable day for all of the guests and into school before closing time, as well as 3 very loud boys to a party intact and with the correct gifts, despite the lack of a phone or a 3g facility. So all in all I'm a genius! And so are you...

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  10. Your blog always makes me laugh. I recently put our electric kettle on to boil on the gas hob and couldn't work out where all the black smoke was coming from. I regularly ask people what their names are and then immediately forget but am too embarrassed to ask again so spend years trying to avoid situations where I have to call them by their name. I have also been known to turn up at Heathrow for a flight from Stansted. My 5 year old told me recently I had a rubbish brain because I forget everything "and I told my teacher that"...

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    1. I so empathise with the name thing! I bet you've never forgotten any of the essential ingredients required for raising a son, so any lapses on the side are perfectly understandable.

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  11. Oh Anna, you have totally made my day. I'm crying with laughter not just at your post and the replies, but at how similar they are to me. The list is endless, I have to say, but one of my favourite is my incredible ability to always, without fail, not remember to retrieve coffee cup/cake/baby's bottle/book from car roof that I have plonked there whilst needing a free hand to put baby/child/bags in car. The funniest time was when I left a cup cake on the roof of our car, made by my best friend who is the most amazing baker. I drove all the way home (15 mins) including up a very steep hill, and got home to find the cake still sitting there, looking at me reproachfully. Thankfully my friend has a huge sense of humour and thought it more a criticism of her baking skills than my scattiness. PS Can I be the Secretary of any society we set up?

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    1. Another wondrous careful driver! I couldn't even keep our roof box attached to our car roof with my driving! You sound just the sort of person I'd enjoy meeting, so you can be chair of our club and have one of my Bendicks Bittermints.

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  12. I do love your writing Anna Tims..... my head's full of helium and the silly voice and lack of common sense gets me into all kinds of trouble - last August I locked my self and Little A out of the flat for the whole afternoon - I had no phone, nothing, Little A had just come out of nappies.... it took me hours to realise that the nursery around the corner had Younger Dad's phone number..... but in that time I had mentally folded clothes, done the washing, and thought of the next five year plan (not really). X

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    1. I could spend hours mentally doing those chores. It's actually doing them that I find too challenging.

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