Showing posts from February, 2012

A Leap of Faith

Breasts dangle from the door lintel. Hair explodes from the walls. I can buy a hatchet to embed in my head and a polyfoam carrot disguise. The assistant is harrassed. A small cross boy needs to be a Gruffalo. A small cross girl insists on the BFG. And, cramming the fancy dress shop, is a multitude of stressed parents, all cursing World Book Day. I take fright at the frenzy and I hasten home. I can't craft and I can't sew but, armed with three J cloths and a paper doily, I shall magic my doubting daughter to Alice's Wonderland. This is an entry for the 100 Word Challenge on the theme of 'A Leap of Faith' at Julia's Place

A DIY Guide to the Middle-Classes

I wonder sometimes what I am. I have lived the last decade on an inner city council estate, amid Oxford academia, in a remote country town and in London suburbia. In the first we were, with our relentless consonants and sagging bookshelves, regarded as aristocrats. In the second, as the 'squeezed middle'. In the third, as city sophisticates and now, sometimes, isolated in my tweed amid the Ralph Lauren and the hoodies, I feel myself a bumpkin. Class should no longer matter. Nowadays, for most of us, it's more a question of perception than birth. But the perception matters. My daughter battles to adjust speech, habits and dress to blend in with each new environment; the political parties compete to woo the amorphous throng they deem Middle England and Melvyn Bragg has started a television series on class and culture. The British, he decides, no longer define themselves by class, but by the music they listen to, the books they read. I listen to Dolly Parton and Beethoven.

Saturday is Caption Day....

at Mammasaurus . This photo is by popular request after the Startling Fact about my father that I divulged yesterday . The least you can do, then, is be witty about it! PS The lager in the foreground is mine. My Dad would never be so unladylike!


Once upon a time an amiable, rum-drinking blogger called Kateonthinice was commanded to answer eleven personal questions, publicly, in the middle of the blogosphere. This she did with deftness and dignity. At the very same time time, a long way off, Melksham Mum was grappling a more fiendish task. She was required to disclose twelve 'fun' facts about herself, then answer twelve set questions, while remaining all the while witty and entertaining. This she too did with deftness and dignity. But there is a sting in the tail. Both were then obliged to devise questions of their own and swivel the spotlight onto a dozen blameless bloggers. And both have pounced on me. I am honoured and I am excited, but I am also alarmed for journalists are not accustomed to providing answers and readers are probably not very interested in wading through them. Eleven fun facts about Me 1. I love violent rain. When the heavens open I dash out and prance round the garden until I am exhilaratingly

The Flip Side of Virtue

The Vicar tells the congregation that Lenten sacrifices make us nicer. The surrender of favourite indulgences grants us time and energy to expand and explore our life and nature.  I am persuaded and I am inspired. I resolve to give up lager and Bendicks Bittermints and watch my Being blossom. That night the Vicar is out of humour. He is silent over dinner and scowls at the water glass where the red wine should be. I point out that Lenten sacrifices make us nicer. He stares. ‘You said so,’ I remind him. He sags. ‘I was,’ he mutters, ‘talking bollocks!’ This is an entry for a 100-Word Challenge on the subject of 'Flip Side'. See more offerings at Julia's Place NB This incident is, of course, almost entirely fictional!

Bad Hair Day

'So, are you doing anything exciting this evening?' 'No.' 'Doing anything exciting this weekend?' 'No.' Pause. 'Have you got anything exciting planned for the holidays?' I hate hairdressing salons. I hate the perky questions distorted by the water sluicing my ears. I hate the magazines that are lobbed into my lap with 101 cures for cellulite and the tales of mother-in-laws' kinky relations with household appliances. I hate the black overalls that advertise the white dust blizzarding from my scalp. And I hate being confronted with my own decomposing reflection in a spotlit mirror. Give me a dental surgery over a pamper parlour any day. Dentists don't expect you to make small talk while they're drilling a molar. There are no mirrors in dentists' lairs. And my dentist has earned my grateful allegiance: he told me that I have very high-quality saliva. Twice a year, though, I slide shaggily into a faux leather chair in our l

Saturday is Caption Day....

over at Mammasaurus . Please help celebrate the beauty of youthful romance in the box below. Fortnum & Mason wedding list available on request.

The Various Uses of Rubber

I have ordered a new pair of wellies from Amazon for the daily walk to school. My current hardly-at-all-old pair has developed a fissure along one toe. I only noticed this when I was wading along the stream that flows brownly past bobbing Argos bags en route to the afternoon pick up, and I was not pleased. They are a glamorous pair with pink spots and white swirls, bought to ease my daughter's pain in ackowledging a wellie-wearing, stream-paddling mother in public. I now distrust wellies with spots and swirls, so order a safe-looking green pair. Better to be waterproof than glamorous. Royal Mail gets them as far as my door, thrusts through a 'Sorry you were out' card, and promptly loses them. Amazon is sympathetic and dispatches a replacement pair. This also makes it to my door and again a card is left. This time I decide to pick them up in person from the Royal Mail depot. The man behind the glass screen makes off with my delivery card and probably has a cup of tea and


Happiness, I once thought, as I peered from my spinster flat at my neighbour's washing line, must be hanging a man's Y-fronts alongside your undies. The visible confirmation of romance. Now my washing line sags with undies large and small. Family intimacy exhibited in the vicarage garden, and it still gives me satisfaction to behold the array. But happiness? I distrust happiness. It is a fleeting, unsustainable thing that eludes those who clutch at it too closely. I am content with contentment. A sense of fulfilling and fulfilment. The comfortable consciousness of worth and good fortune. An absorbing book and my sofa rug is a nightly contentment. A newly-scrubbed sitting room a rarer one. An adequate income, good health and banana bread. The knowledge that my children are sleeping under nearly-clean duvets upstairs while the Vicar cooks me Thai green curry. That is contentment. The trouble with contentment is that it can drift into smugness and then into apathy. Occasiona

Feeble Sunshine

Sahdandproud , Random Pearls of Wisdom and  The Voice of Sarah Miles  have bestowed upon me the February Sunshine Award. I don't like sunshine in February; I like snow, and I have to say that as memes go this one is pretty daft. But it's impolite to ignore a kindly tag, especially from a man like Sahdandproud who can craft Margaret Beckett out of a potato. Before I can claim the honour, I have to answer the following probing questions. Hopefully the revelations therein will bring sunshine into your chill, dank February. Favourite colour: Depends, doesn't it. In a herbaceous border, blue, obviously. In my wardrobe, green. Or sludge. Favourite animal: Cat. Or it was until my tabby weed on the guest room duvet. Seal then. My collection of fluffy toy seals won me my place at university. Favourite non-alcoholic drink: Er, water. Facebook or Twitter: Twitter. Gossip in 140 characters is a still-evolving art form. Favourite number: 54. That's the age at which, by m

Mother Love

I fear sometimes that I do not love my children correctly. When they are asleep I am suffused with maternal longing. When they are at school the house is incomplete. But often, when they are clamorously with me, I endure rather than adore them. Bickering over who gets to sail the seas in the laundry basket; amnesia over basic vowel sounds in school reading books; rejection of anything green or vegetal in my nourishing dinner-time gloops, and a mysterious inability to flush the lavatory, subdue my proper sentiments. Half an hour after their school coats are flung across the hall floor, I skulk in the spare room craving their absence. This cannot be right. Other bloggers write paeans to their babies, love leaking from every line. When, in motorway jams, I ponder solemn tributes to my own pair, flying foodstuffs kill off my inner poetry. It worries me. I would bore through a volcano for my children. I would brave a burning house and ride a tsunami if it spared them pain. But the dai

Small Talk

The question 'So what do you do?' is, The Guardian tells me, an offensive, boring and predictable way to launch conversation at gatherings. I can see the problem, but a ban on it removes vital social ballast. 'Can you still do handstands?' is an alternative that I've tried occasionally, but people tend to smile and edge away. Predictability is desirable among strangers. Now my social life is impeded by a further taboo. A casual acquaintance is battling severe depression. 'How are you!' is a frivolous greeting as we wait twice daily at the school gate for we both know full well that she is drowning, but a solitary 'Hello' seems abrupt. 'Lovely day!' won't do either for it's dark as pitch in her world. But silence, when you're wedged close, is only acceptable between intimates and strangers. And so I've worked my way through her wardrobe, admiring stray garments to fill the gaps and I longed for the season to change so I could

Disturbing Secrets

Oldersinglemum , having revealed her inner being on her blog, desires to know seven of my secrets in order to earn a 'Tell Me About Yourself; Your Blog is Great Award'. And  Motherventing ,  Sahdandproud  and  Random Pearls of Wisdom  have tagged me to do something called 7 x 7 which also requires seven secrets plus seven blog posts that I have particularly admired. I definitely do not have enough secrets to go round all of them. Most of my secrets are secret for good reason. I am, however, prepared to disclose the following, provided that they go no further than the worldwide web: 1: I once did a bodyguard training course which obliged me to carry my large male trainer over my dwarfish shoulder and to be carried down a riverbed over the shoulders of eight different men. They said if I hadn't been there they would have used a log. 2: I am writing alternating paragraphs of a spoof  Mills & Boon bodice-ripper online with my brother and am in terror of penning the i

Alter Ego

My friend Caroline rings me. She's very excited. 'I saw your alter ego on telly!' she exclaims. I am intrigued. I ask Caroline what my alter ego was doing. Imagine, fleetingly, a model on a catwalk  - my alternative self, half a foot taller and with a few of the creases ironed out. 'She was explaining the history of lavatories,' Caroline says. A few days later I find an email from a long-lost mate in Worcestershire. It tells me that my 'identical twin' was on television recently. Studying lavatories. At church, one of the Ladies Who Does the Flowers bustles up. 'I've been meaning to tell you,' she pants. 'There was a lady who was on TV who is the spitting image of you!' 'Was she talking about lavatories?' I ask and she nods, thrilled at  glamour-by-association. My brother, meanwhile, mentions that his old university friends, who haven't seen me for twelve years, have marvelled to him that my double was promenading across t