Showing posts from July, 2013

How to Pack

It baffles me the panic people get into when faced with holiday packing. There is indeed a science to it, but it's a science that's easily mastered and I, who have been studying it for a quarter of a century, can now clothe four for a fortnight in less than an hour. Things that seem obvious to me, however, have clearly been missed by most of my acquaintance, so here, for the benefit of all, is my cut-out-and-keep guide to holiday preparations. 1: Locate the cat bed that, three times a year, doubles up as a suitcase. It's advisable to give it a vacuum for moustachioed thermals can cause discomfort. 2: Extract from the dirty linen basket all the must-have wardrobe items that you forgot to wash before departure. This operation should be undertaken discreetly.  3: Fling said items plus all other necessities in a pile. For best results this pile can be begun the night before to give you more time to appraise it. 4: Remove from the pile approximately a t

Time Out

'Bet you're looking forward to the summer break!' says the lady in The Co-op. I smile with improvised serenity and sag under the weight of the lager I'm stockpiling. This last weekend of term has given me a foretaste of the six weeks ahead. Idyllically we grouped in the garden, my children and I. The sun was shining, the barbecue smoking and the hammock swaying under the apple trees. And my ten-year-old: threw stones at her brother and broke his front tooth. cracked the back of his head with a carefully-aimed swingball swipe. jabbed a streak of mascara into her left eyeball. warbled of lust and bondage outside the vestry wall. The eight-year-old: flattened his sister's limited-edition Lucozade bottle tipped her skull-first out of the hammock. piled a stash of illicit sweet wrappers under my geraniums. made resonant remarks about female biology as parishioners passed the garden gate en route to the Sunday service. I, meanwhile, have spent my weekend m

Facing the Music

My daughter has always held tyrannical opinions on in-car entertainment. In the early days she would clamour for her Sing-along Nursery Rhymes cassette when Desert Island Discs was about to begin. She has vetoed my Dolly Parton collection in case pedestrians should hear when the windows are down and today, as Aled Jones wafts us along the M25 with my favourite funeral hymns, she insists that he is extinguished so she can make her own music. 'Sticks and stones may break my bones but whips and chains excite me!' she bellows from the back seat. My shrill of horror intrigues her. 'What's so bad?' she asks, genuinely baffled. Intuition tells me that this is one for the Vicar, lying prone in the passenger seat beside me. 'Say something!' I hiss, but the Vicar is evidently formulating his next sermon for he doesn't seem to hear. I am just improvising an answer involving circus ring masters and fairground rides when I glance in the rear view mirror and noti

Finding Fulfilment

I have long held the suspicion that I am not fully woman. My make-up basket consists of two lipsticks, a jar of Vaseline and a pair of illuminating tweezers, lately donated by a concerned friend. I would far sooner browse manure blends at our local aggregates depot than try on diamonds at Asprey. My secret giddy pleasure is removing the lavatory cistern and watching the ballcock rise and fall and any fashion catalogues that make it to the vicarage are employed to wedge the truncated marital mattress in place along with two four-packs of Heinz Beans. A survey has now confirmed my fear. The sisterhood, it reveals, spends £13,000 in a lifetime on beauty products in order to feel better about itself. Plucked eyebrows, a manicure, perfectly styled hair and new underwear are among the twenty favourite methods to promote self love, according to the Ready to Glow campaign. And hairless legs are essential. With dismay I realise that my life lacks all of these. It's been eighteen months