Showing posts from December, 2011

Round Robin

It's that time of year again! The carols, the fairy lights and the round robins dropping like bricks into the peace of family life. Christmas newletters are a literary challenge that I've never attempted, yet to which I have admiringly aspired. The ingredients are pretty straightforward: list the triumphs of your children and the traumas of people noone else will have heard of and season liberally with exclamation marks to make the plod through your engagement diary sound exciting. And so here, presented with requisite smugness, is my first attempt at communal Christmas cheer: Our year began, as usual, on Jan 1st. I lay under the duvet thinking: 'Goodness, do I have the energy to face 2011?!', but as usual my wonderful children revitalised me. They came and lay on my face and trumpeted a salute to the dawn on their new plastic recorders.  Both of them are very musical. Small son has mastered F Sharp on his instrument and we're hoping he'll branch out into B f

Saturday is Mammasaurus Day....

in honour of  Mammasaurus . Before you ask, this is not me! My nails are frayed zigzags and rimed with coal dust and manure mulch. And I'll only touch lager. She'll know who she is, however, and, although I've never met her, judging by her jazzy digits, she must be an invigorating festive companion. What on earth is in that glass anyway? Suggestions here, please.

Morning Glory

It is breakfast time and, as usual, I am late. Also as usual the cat pungently evacuates while I am making the lunch-box sandwiches. I pad outside into the freezing half light and scour the litter tray with the leaky garden hose and I return, soggy slippered, to the loaf. The second cat emits last night's dinner, poised acrobatically on the rim of the litter tray and the litter tray capsizes, flinging cat, turd and rolling wooden pellets all over the kitchen floor. The children descend. They squabble over the last slice of white bread and over who should lever the toast up out of the Dualit. The Vicar hurries in. He wants to know what he could thrust down the finger of a rubber glove to make it stiff. I hand him a carrot. The children begin battling over the single unscarred desert spoon. The Vicar wants to know what he could stick down the rest of the Marigold to make it into a fist. I hand him a knot of carrier bags. A cat leaps onto the breakfast table to sample Rice Krispie

An Unbending Woman

The former Sunday school teacher asks me, after Mass, if I can touch my toes. She swoops effortlessly and taps the ends of her polished boots. She's a year older than I am. I put down my hymn book and ease myself over. Unfamilar strings twang sharply in the backs of my legs and there's a slight cracking sound that causes the sideswoman to look up. My finger tips judder to a halt just below my knee caps. The sideswoman comes over. She too swoops and taps. She's six years older than me. Both of them start bending and stretching at the top of the nave, triumphing in their pliant sinews. I try another heave and make it as far as my ankles. I am depressed. Two years ago I discovered that I can no longer do forward rolls. The former Sunday School teacher can. She proved it last summer in the churchyard. I daresay the sideswoman can too, but I am feeling cross so I don't offer her a platform. There is one thing I can do and I offer to show them behind the vestry curtain, b

Christmas Music

Bibsey  has commanded me to reveal my favourite Christmas song. Truth to tell, my heart sank a little. I risk losing cherished subscribers when I expose my musical preferences, and if I were to disclose what I listen to whenever I put up the Christmas tree I would undo two months of effort to present myself as an edgy Woman of the World. Moreover, since festive song has been piping me round the supermarket aisles round here since late summer, the old favourites have lost a little of their lustre. I feel a bond with Bibsey, however, for she admits to being almost as much of a domestic slattern as I am. So for her sake I give you one that reliably thrills me:

Saturday is Caption Day....

over at Mammasaurus . My rescue cats have been surprisingly merry since they moved in to the vicarage. Not quite sure why. All caption suggestions gratefully received.

The Curse of the Road

I like to keep the language pure in the vicarage. It degenerates occasionally when the Vicar loses his keys, but the children have developed a range of wholesome culinary curses for use in extremis. 'Fromage frais!' yells my daughter when Ribena streams across her homework, and 'Fudge!' or 'Fried fritters!' if we can't find the remote control before 'Strictly Come Dancing' (NB: strange how they all start with 'f'). My efforts, however, unravel on the road. 'Bugger!" said my then two-year-old when she grasped the wheel of her new Little Tike car. I erupted. 'I have to say it,' she replied reasonably. 'I'm driving!' White Van Man, advancing mercilessly down a narrow side streets, provokes from me adjectives that would make a docker blush. Three-lane roundabouts,  unexpected filter lanes and anything involving the London North Circular turn me loud and foul and empurpled. My mother friends, contrastingly, sing al

Tooth Fairy

Something has unsettled me since we moved to London. It's not so much the fact that my nine-year-old now felt-tips tattoos on her forearm, or the inventive things that local youths can do with a steak knife. It's not even the pungent  knotted sacs that swing from the lower branches in our local park. No, the thing that has most unsettled me is the unreliability of London tooth fairies. In our provincial days, when teeth first started tumbling, you could count on a quid beneath the pillow. The blood, the gore, the anguish were washed away by the certainty that fairy gold could be translated into a bumper bag of Haribos next morning. Perhaps two recent house-moves and the sheer number of teeth have overwhelmed the magical benefactors. For now my children place their shed pearls doubtfully amid the bedding. 'Of course, the fairy will come!' I assure them with a conviction I do not feel. Last time I placed a Post-it on my laptop, reminding the fairy to drop by, but she

Saturday is Caption Day....

over at Mammasaurus's blog. Think of a witticism... and flaunt it here. All suggestions gratefully received.


I am facing a Night Out. I've had two of these in the year since we moved to London: Dolly Parton live with a visiting vicar and chicken korma with the ladies from the choir. But this night out is different. It's in the city centre with a glamorous ex-colleague, whom I've not seen in the decade since we bore babies. And I am worried. I am worried about the parting from my friendly tartan sofa rug and my Primark slouchers. I am worried that every outdoor garment I possess is made of tweed or pilled wool. I am worried that I will not manage opinions on the Greek bail-out and the obesity crisis with an intellect shrunken by Balamory. And I am worried that the Vicar will forget to put the bins out. Above all, though, I am worried that I am so worried. I pull on my edgiest cable-knit and I buff up my spectacles and I am a scuttling woolly figure reflected in shop windows. But when I breathe the thick brothy air of the Underground I am energised. I stride to the ticket barrie