Showing posts from October, 2013


There is little that I would not do for my children. I would scale bridges if it shielded them from harm... I would hurl myself from an aeroplane... Climb to the highest tree tops... Wrestle warriors... And battle freezing rapids... I would even, if it came to it, endure public humiliation... My children, alas, are less resolute and both balk at overcoming fearsome challenges for my sake.  My son is powerless to take on the chaos in his bedroom... My daughter flees in the face of the washing up...  And neither has the stamina to confront a vegetable... But today... weeks of sleepnessness have shrunk my temper. The cats flee before me and the Vicar, wounded by unaccustomed sharpness, seeks refuge in his study. I berate the children for their failings and shut myself in the sitting room for a sulk. As the door inches open I ready myself for battle. And in come two wary figures. One drapes me

Dressing Down

'You cannot do this to me!' shrieks the 11-year-old. I reverse out from under the bed and find her brandishing a hairy brown banner. On closer inspection, it turns out to be my favourite Sunday skirt. My daughter sees the sentiment in my face and blanches. 'Mum,' she says in more patient tones. 'I'm doing this for you. I'm putting it in this pile here.' I am performing the solemn annual ritual of retrieving my winter wear from under the guest bed and stowing my summer clothes in its place. Ordinarily this is a task I enjoy. Summertime I find stressful with its pressure to haul a bronzed and hairless body round beaches and barbecue parties. I have to start my annual hunt for the iron when my summer cottons emerge from hibernation. In winter I can vanish comfortably into wool which, even after a season in a zipper bag, hangs in biddable clumps without need of intervention. This year, however, my daughter has appointed herself supervisor of the proceedi

Family Time

It is Sunday lunch in the vicarage. Because it is the one meal in the week that the whole family eats together, the table is laid in the dining room with place mats and matching crockery and a lighted candle beside the ketchup bottle. The Vicar says grace, we take our seats and conversation begins. The 11-year-old, 'What planet are you from, Mum! Potatoes aren't vegetables, they're carbs!' Me: 'Trust me, they're vegetables.' The 11-year-old: 'How can you say that something that just pops out of the ground is a vegetable! It's a carb.' The Vicar (diplomatically): 'They don't just pop out of the ground. Mum worked very hard digging them up.' The 8-year-old: 'Who do you think's the prettiest girl in this room?' The Vicar (diplomatically): 'Both of them!' The 11-year-old: 'What? You're saying mum's pretty! She's middle-aged!' The 8-year-old (singing): 'Mama do the hump, do the hump hump