I need Mrs Tiggywinkles contact details

Beatrix Potter made the role of Washer-woman seem like a delightful job, ideal for all manner of women and woodland creatures.  All you needed was a mop cap and some bubbles and you were laughing.

She made doing the laundry into a fun task that everyone thanked you for doing.  She even pressed the items: she was a true professional.

However, I need to say that Beatrix Potter was a fucking liar.

I have never been thanked for processing the billion load’s of washing that gets generated by my ungrateful family each week.  They appear to think a washing fairy takes the dirty clothes from where they have been thrown, and magically makes them clean, ready for you to put away.  Or as my children do, throw on the floor and trample until I scream at them to tidy up whereupon they deposit the whole lot back in the washing basket for me to wash again.

I don’t even get to wear the cute hat. As I said, that Potter woman was fibbing.

I have tried to allocate some of this to the kids to do, and I’m sure you can imagine the delight with which they approach these tasks.  My eldest daughter loves ballet and does several hours of classes a week, which cost a small fortune. When she informed us she wanted to do pointe classes too, I negotiated that in return for us paying, she would be in charge of sorting and putting away the clean washing.

She has been having pointe classes for nearly 6 month’s and I have had to remind her every single time to sort things.  This is usually met with the sort of reaction I’d normally expect if I’d asked her to go without her phone for a week.  The amount of huffing she does is probably enough to affect global warming.

When the ignored clean washing pile reaches the sort of proportions that warrant it’s own postcode or at least a location tag on Instagram, I usually just end up doing it myself.  It’s the job around the house that I hate the most.

Then there’s the hanger scavenger hunt around the bottom of wardrobes and down the back of the headboards, so I can at least pretend that they will put the freshly washed items actually in the wardrobe.

I have seriously had enough.

If I could afford someone to do this for me I would, but as a housekeeper is out of my price range, I’ll have to resort to woodland creatures.

So, DO you know Mrs Tiggywinkles number?

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Are you still eating Christmas food too?

Since our Christmas dinner, nearly two weeks ago, I can’t remember eating a meal that didn’t involve at least one component culled from a Tupperware container in the fridge.  It’s like a cross between jenga and Mr Trebus’s dream house in there.  Small villages could probably live off the contents for a month before considering where else to get sustenance.

Most meals since Christmas have been forraged from the fridge like Ray Mears finding an ant colony.  A bit of this, some of that, cheese, mince pie, more cheese: you get the idea.  Cold leftovers have kept us fed for what feels like forever.

When we do cook something, it’s always some bizarre combination of foods.  Prawns, home made chilli sauce, left over vegan Moroccan tagine, and some nachos, was my husband’s dinner the other night.  I opted for a simple, nutritious meals of jacket potato, cheese and BBQ sauce.  I have truly reached the zenith of slobdom.

My son has manfully worked his way through a jumbo pack of digestives and a wheel of Camembert as an after school snack, and my daughter’s are having leftover mash, with leftover onion gravy, leftover red cabbage and a veggie sausage for dinner.  We are all getting fed up of this and the children are Revolting (and also revolting – I blame the sprouts).

The Celebrations mountain however was conquered quickly and with little complaint, I noticed.

So are we the only family living off cling filmed plates?  I acknowledge that some of the sell by dates may be 2016 but it all smells ok.  Ish.

My eldest daughter shoved a large pot of double cream under my nose earlier and asked if it smelt too off to eat.  As I have no wish to be stuck at home clearing up vomit, I said that the fact she refused to sniff it herself was answer enough.  She poured it down the sink, saying that we shouldn’t tell Dad as he’d have been convinced it was still edible.  We both agree that after the incident with the pesto, it’s best not to ask him. Let’s just say, that just because it’s still green doesn’t mean it hasn’t developed it’s own ecosystem.  It was no longer a health risk to eat it, more an act of bacterial genocide.

So, we are now reaching the point where health and endurance meet and tonight I am going to clear out everything.  Plus it’s bin day tomorrow, and we overslept for the last one so I really need to get it done before I’m forced to take it to the tip myself.

But before I get on with that, we’ll have one last Christmas meal. Moroccan tagine and mash.  A match made in heaven; or more correctly, a match made in December.

Growing old gracefully

*scroll* *scroll* *scroll*

Nope.

*scroll* *scroll* *scroll*

Still nope.

*Scroll* *scroll*

Yes!!

This is an actual example of my filling in an online form and trying to find my year of birth.  It appears that I am not just old, my year of birth actually needs an archaeological excavation just to find it sometimes.

This realisation of my advancing age has been a gradual process, with many little flag’s that suddenly catch your attention.

For example: I recently had to pick my son up from a school carol singing gig at a local retirement village.  It was all swanky apartments, pretty grounds and with an extensive gym.  The residents all seemed fit and not the elderly cohort I had imagined.  Then I saw the sign “exclusive living for the over 55’s”.  Over 55’s?!  That’s, barely a decade away!  At 55 I’ll still be funding my children through university (or prison – we’re hoping for Uni, obvs).

Is 55 considered elderly?  Does that make me Middle aged?  Do people humour me when I join in with the youngsters.  Fuck.  I just used the word youngsters, un-ironically.  There is no hope.  Bring on the beige nylon slacks.

I mean, I guess technically I am in the middle of my life, so does that mean middle aged?  Surely half-aged would be better?(which my autocorrect just changed to half-arsed, which I unfortunately am not.  I am most definitely full-arsed).

Where was I?

Oh yes, middle aged.  I certainly don’t feel middle aged, apart from my knees, in my head I’m still 15.  In fact my fashion sense is remarkably similar to what it was 30 years ago.

At what point does my usual dress become inappropriate?  Is there a maximum age when badly applied black eyeliner, chipped black nail polish and a nose stud becomes more than just odd, and ventures into the realms of eccentric?  Over the Christmas break I went through my wardrobe.  It was starting to resemble an entrance to a goth narnia, hopefully complete with a depressed Mr Tumnus and the Thin White Duke as the snow Queen.

80% of my clothing is black, with the rest being grey, navy and a splash of blood red.  My usual work attire is black opaque tights (fleece lined ftw!), shapeless black sack dress and black boots.  Occasionally I’ll dig out a black skirt and top, and on happy days I’ll add my red shoes.

I have been informed that outside of work I dress like a 15 yr old emo boy.

Is this appropriate to wear in middle age?  Should I retire my DM’s and invest in a pair of court shoes?  What should someone in their 40’s, and beyond, wear?  Most of the online fashion blogs aimed at this age range, present the usual theme  of youthful but demure.  They are full of beautifully presented women who look casual yet current.  The common denominator is a distinct lack of washed out black band t-shirts.

How can we now define middle aged when the majority of us lived through the punk and rave era, or spent sweaty evenings in mosh pits?  We can’t be considered the same as the middle aged women from our youth?  Those women were products of the post war years.  Mostly Pre the sexual revolution, and the coiffured hair and twin sets they wore in the 50’s were the same as they wore in the 80’s and indeed now they are 80.

So does that mean that the clothes of our youth are the acceptable fashion for our middle years?   I can’t wait for the cohort after me to start donning rara skirts and global hypercolour t-shirts to go to Waitrose.

Maybe we need to reassess middle age for each generation.  In fact does middle age actually start at mid-life?  To be honest we all know people for whom middle age started around 23 and by the time they are 50, it’s like they have never been any different.

Bizarrely enough I spent a vast amount of my 20’s dressing like a middle aged woman.  I had a responsible job, and was younger than most of my colleagues so felt I had to dress in an older way to be accepted.  Then my 30’s were the time of bootcut jeans and long sleeved t-shirts: aka the Mummy uniform.

It’s only since I turned 40 that I’ve actually started dressing how I want.  Unfortunately I’m several dress sizes bigger than I’d like, but I have chosen between my arse and my face and I can live with it.  Just don’t tell me I look bloody old, or I might cry.

In the past few years my hair has been long, cropped into a pixie cut, purple, red, pink, black, and varying washed out shades and lengths in between.  I have more confidence in myself than I ever have, although still not as much as I’d like, and have less regard for other’s opinions of my appearance.

In fact for the first time in a long time, my mental image of myself align’s with the outside I present to the world.  I am happy to go against the flow fashion wise, and by doing as I please with my clothes and hair, I am returning to the way I dressed when I was young and carefree.  A psychologist would have a field day with this.  Maybe I am subconsciously trying to find a place where I am my true self and am using clothes as a way of achieving that.

Maybe being middle aged for me means reassessing my position in the world, as I become invisible to those younger than me.  It’s a real shock to realise that this really does happen, and maybe that 15 year old in my head has decided to rebel.

Growing old gracefully?  I’d rather not, thanks.

QofT

High School INSET woes

I have three children.  Two girls and a boy.  Two children at high school, and one still in Primary.  I also work part-time: School hours, four days a week, 48 weeks a year – after annual leave.

I am extremely lucky that I have employers who let me juggle my hour’s during school holidays and are willing to excuse my occasional calls from school to take one of my offspring to A & E again.

All in all I am usually able to arrange my hours to cover the majority of the School holidays with only occasional use of childcare clubs.  It has to be occasional use, as a) it costs more per day than I earn, b) the kids hate going (even though we only send them to the ‘nice’ club), and c) my eldest is technically too old to go.  She is 13, but the club we use are happy to have her as she is good at helping with the younger ones, so they take the money and turn a blind eye.

But the best laid parenting plans are dashed by those blasted INSET days.

With my children attending two different schools, the five days allowed never coincidence.  Plus they always tack them onto other holidays when there are no holiday clubs open and the goodwill of my bosses is stretched thin.  To be honest, INSET days are a bloody nightmare.

So, what do I do?

My only option is one I am not comfortable with, to be honest.  My son is only 9 and so I rearrange work hours, call in favours from other mums (I’m probably seriously in the red with some of them, sorry!) and basically just have to be there with him.

My daughter’s are 12 and 13, and in years 7 & 9 in our local high school.  Technically they are old enough to make their own way to and from school, but the 3 mile cycle is ‘too scary’, or it’s too dark/cold/wet/hot to walk, so I chauffeur them both ways.

My girls are not what you would call Street wise, although we are working on it and they are a lot better than they were a year ago.  But at 12 & 13 they are still probably too young to be left at home alone for an entire day.  But that’s what I’m having to do today, and indeed have done for a while.

I hate leaving them alone, and keep in regular touch by text, but it’s a difficult decision.  I trust them to behave and they are both competent cooks, and sibling spats not withstanding, I know that they will be fine.

But how do you reconcile the feeling of letting your children down, with the need to work?  I have a husband who works long hours who will try and take up the childcare slack, but ultimately it’s up to me.  I appreciate that this sounds like a 1950’s sitcom, but when we had children it was agreed that he would earn the money and I would stay at home with the kids.  Now they are older his work is such that the flexibility I enjoy is not a possibility for him, so it’s still up to me.

So today is an INSET day at my daughter’s school and again I have left them asleep in bed while I take my youngest back to school and I return to work.

It sucks being in this situation, but what else could I do?

The real new year’s day

Today is the 2nd January 2017.  2017!!.  The day after new year’s day. The day before we go back to work and school, and for me, the Real new year’s day.

Forget yesterday with the hangover and lack of sleep.  The Sunday TV schedule which you can’t predict as the Radio Times only goes up to new year’s Eve.  The fucktonne of Celebrations and Wensleydale lurking in the house.  Today is the real new year’s day.

Why? Well for a start the chances are you had 7 hours sleep and didn’t go to bed feeling like you were on a particularly vomit-inducing theme park ride.  You have a list of things to do and the energy and enthusiasm to tackle them.  Unlike yesterday, you actually feel like a motivated human being.  Damn, just feeling human is an improvement on yesterday.

Today is the day to start those resolutions, and ‘get on’ with things.

So, what am I doing?  Housework?  Ironing?  Food shopping?  Nope.  None of those.  Today I am starting my new year as I mean to go on, by spending the day having fun with my family.  Ok, watching the family have fun – there is no way I’m donning a harness and shimmying up a plastic wall.  But my husband and children love it, and actually a day spent watching my loved ones do the thing’s they enjoy: watching the happiness and sense of achievement on their faces, is good enough for me.

I spend so much time worrying about stuff and rushing from one place to another, that I hardly ever just stop and enjoy life.  Between School runs, work, cooking, cleaning (don’t snigger, I have been known to wield a duster), and general stuff, I rarely ever get time to just be me.

In the past few months I have tried to make a bit of an effort, and spending an entire weekend alone in a foreign city was a wonderful way to slow down and live life at MY pace, answering to no-one.  This writing malarkey is another enforced time of self care.  A time to sit quietly and just think and express my thoughts.

Just recently, especially with the news of people being taken from this world in their prime, it has brought a sense of my own mortality to the fore.  If I’m lucky, I’m halfway through my allocated years.  44 years have slipped by while I was busy looking the other way.  I need to ensure the next 44 don’t pass me by so easily.

I need to be more aware.  Enjoy my children while they are young and before the crush of adult responsibilities starts taking hold.  I need to do things for me: I cannot be all things to all people, all that does is provide everyone with a thin scraping of my time.  I need to give more, but in fewer directions.  And one of those directions needs to be me.

This year I will be more selfish; although not in a ‘me first, fuck you’, type way.  More that I need to put my feelings higher up the list, rather than keeping them in last place.

So this ‘new’ new year’s day, I am being present.  Enjoying my family, enjoying the day, stopping to enjoy the view.

Although your new year may have started with nausea and a lingering sense of shame, there’s no reason to feel you’ve failed before you have even begun.  Today is the real new year’s day.

Happy New year!

Again.

New year. Old me.

It’s January 1st and so it is customary to make a resolution or two.  Thinner, fitter, soberer, calmer, more organised, more friendly, more proactive.  Yep, I think we all have written that in a diary on 1st Jan for as many January’s as you’ve been able to remember.

I’m aware that all of those are excellent plans but as usual I’ll have failed many of them by bedtime on the 1st.  In my case, thinner, soberer and organised: and it’s barely mid afternoon.

So this year my resolution needs to be more practical.  Focusing on something I have a real desire  to change.  I live a fairly charmed life.  I have a home, health, family, a job, and post-christmas, a seemingly endless supply of cheese.  I really am a lucky girl.

But as always the need for more is clawing in my gut, and making my self esteem plummet.  What am I doing with my life?  I’m half way through this existence (I hope) and what have I got to show for it?

Of course those that know me will launch into a pythonesque parody of acknowledging my despair, whilst simultaneously telling me of all the good things I do have.  So I’m aware that my maudlin ramblings are only possible as I don’t actually have to worry about the serious stuff like food, warmth and health.

However, the fact remains that I do need to do something.  I do need to extend and challenge myself.  I need to do something for me that will tax my brain and give me a creative outlet.  Anyone who has heard me sing knows that That is not an option, and to be honest my skills lay in other things.  If only I could make a living out of sarcasm and thinly veiled abuse, I’d be laughing!  Although probably I’d be the only one.

So a few wise friends have suggested that I try my hand at writing. Obviously I kind of do that as my job, but not as a creative outlet.  I have little imagination so fiction would be traumatic for all concerned.  So fact’s appear to be the way forward.  Facts, humour, sarcasm and possibly even some sense.

Hence the resurrection of this blog.  Five years since I last posted on it and it seems the right time to try again and get into the habit of writing regularly.  I nearly put daily there, but we all know that isn’t going to happen!

So a regular blog about stuff.  That’s my new year’s resolution.  Hopefully this time next year I’ll have several hundred post’s and maybe a greater ability to put word’s on electronic paper.  Just don’t expect me to see 2018 in with thinner thighs and no hangover.  Let’s keep this in the realms of reality, eh?!

Memory almost full

When I was a child, I was always considered to be quite bright. I learnt to read by the age of 3 and was writing by 5. I did well at school and college, and as an adult had a succession of good jobs.

I could pick up almost every new thing that was thrown at me, and it was only dis-interest that made me occasionally fail to grasp the new.

I’ll admit it, I was smug, and perhaps acted more than a little superior. But I’ll leave others to comment on that, some of my old school friends still talk to me, so maybe I wasn’t that insufferable.

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But, just recently, I’ve noticed a change.

Perhaps its nearly 10 years of motherhood dulling my senses and filling my synapses with trivia and Fimbles lyrics, or maybe it’s a combination of less self absorption and a new need to learn skills, which I haven’t been asked to do in several years. Possibly it’s related to my advancing age.

But I’ve recently become aware of a distinct limit to my mind. Whereas before my capacity for storing and understanding even concepts was seemingly limitless, now I can sense a grey edge beyond which I can’t go, an outer limit to my understanding where politics, mathematics and science hover, with their intricacies and meanings lurking just out of my grasp.

The older I get the more I realise how little I know.

By that, I don’t mean that all along I’ve been scraping my knuckles on the floor and saying ‘ug’, but, that after all that time in my twenties when I was easily hoovering up information, I now appear to have hit a block.

Maybe it is, as Paul McCartney recently sang, that my ‘Memory is almost full’. Perhaps my inability to pick up the nuances in an argument are because i have run out of space for my brain to process it. Possibly those years of learning the answers in the trivial pursuit box (as I’m a bad loser, and in the years since i learnt the majority of those facts , I remain UNDEFEATED. *takes a bow*), have filled up the finite capacity of my brain to the extent that it can’t take much more.

And if so, is there a way of downloading all of the dross so I can be selective with my info this time.

The more I read the views of other bloggers, and posters on the internet the more I understand that I can’t compete. Their knowledge of grammar, politics, feminism, history, just pretty much everything leaves me feeling like the dumb kid in the class.

I now have intelligence envy. No longer do I merely lust after a smaller bum and thinner thighs, now I want a bigger brain and to understand concepts that the big girls in the common room are discussng.

Recently my husband and I sat over dinner and discussed the new police commissioners. I set out my thoughts and with less than 30 words he completely knocked my 6th form politics out of the water. Not that he knew he had done this, but his insight into the history and far reaching powers of these posts made my thoughts seem inconsequential.

So, I don’t know quite how to progress. Will more learnng expand those grey edges of my mind, or will I just jam up the already crowded space.

Maybe I have forgotten how to learn and form rational opinions, and maybe by being aware and actively seeking out information will reteach me and expand my mental horizons. Or possibly I’m destined to continue putting the coffee in the fridge and the milk in the cupbard and forgetting the proper word for Apple.

I’m not sure how i ascertain what the future will hold other than by living it – trying, failing, suceeding, tryng again until one day i hope I will finally understand the difference between rom and ram,

In the mean time I will be conciously trying harder to understand difficult topics, in the hope that I can stretch my memory muscles, and feel those grey edges receding.

In fact I’ve just remembered I have a memory training book under a pile of junk next to my bed. I bought it when I had similar concerns a few months ago.

But, as if to prove a point, I forgot to read it.

QofT

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