Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Come fly with me

It’s now just under five weeks until the Other Half and myself head off on our hollybobs. We booked it in January, having decided that after our traumatic year we deserved a break. Small Person is staying with her father, adding to the burden of bad-mother guilt that I carry with me everywhere, and I am therefore on track to enjoy (in a guilty way, obviously) my first child-free holiday in five years. Holidays with small children are possibly the least relaxing undertaking I can imagine, apart from holidays with my mother of course. And I haven’t had one of those since 1994. Historically, myself, the Ex, Small Person and my sister and her family would decamp to an apartment in the Canary Islands for a week or two of increasingly-frazzled parenting, bored children and cheap red wine. And when I say decamp, I’m talking every possible child-related accessory and beloved toy imaginable, crammed into protesting suitcases and flown to sunnier climes to be variously lost, broken or ignored. My sister and myself would invariably spend the entire holiday catering to every whim of our respective husbands (now thankfully both Ex) and children, whilst said hubbies relaxed and chatted amongst themselves about how refreshing it was to get away from it all. Except what we’d really done was brought it all with us. A relationship that struggles at a level of contact that equals two hours together in the evening and endless dull weekends is never going to flourish when subjected to 24-hour togetherness and a confined space. Some spectacular rows erupted, my own personal favourite being one which kicked off as we were packing to come home one year. The Ex became irrationally obsessed with not packing the case to it’s full capacity due to his conviction that the thickness of a t-shirt pushing against the lid would cause the contents to explode mid-baggage-transfer, showering a foreign runway with dirty laundry and a particularly horrible pair of man-sandals. We hissed at each other through gritted teeth (not in front of the children...) for a full thirty minutes, and travelled home in stony silence.

So, the forthcoming Mexican extravaganza is the Holy Grail of holidays for me. A fortnight of five-star luxury awaits, interrupted only by some pampering and hopefully a bit more luxury. The forecast down Cancun way is positively sizzling and we have hard liquor and a Jacuzzi in our room, so the outlook is sunny. In order to immerse myself in this decadence however, we have to get me across the Atlantic, and given that I like flying about as much as Mr T does (although this is the only thing we have in common) it’s not a prospect that fills me with joy. The Other Half is currently pondering the exact dosage and frequency of Jack Daniels that will allow him and our fellow passengers to travel in comfort, spared from my hysterical wailing and potential to run up and down the aisles in a frenzy of unfounded terror. About three weeks before I travel I tend to start having anxiety dreams, and by the time I arrive at the airport I’m in a state of low-grade terror that can only be alleviated by Rescue Remedy, Heat magazine and beer. Not necessarily in that order. I just can’t shake the conviction that by stepping onto a plane I’m signing my death-warrant. My mind helpfully runs through every aircraft disaster film I’ve ever seen - Final Destination, Alive, Airport '77…..) and I have been known to simply sob gently for the entire duration of the journey. Interestingly, if you ask the cabin crew to sedate you they just sort of laugh and wander off to trowel on more coral lipstick and sneer at people’s shoes. Trust me when I say that you never, ever want to be sitting near me on a plane. I’m the wild-eyed drunk person who clutches the armrests and mutters “we’re-going-to-die-we’re-going-to-die-we’re-going-to-die” for an hour before collapsing into a bourbon induced coma, only to screech awake at the slightest hint of turbulence in order not to miss an opportunity to be hysterical in the company of complete strangers. On a flight back from Gibraltar last year (that runway is WAY too short and ends abruptly at the sea – not good….) a friend employed the interesting technique of distraction by way of poking me gently on subjects that infuriate me. I ranted all the way home in a gloriously bad mood. However, I’m sure the prospect of a ten-hour monologue from me on a range of subjects from people who whistle to women drivers to the Bedingfield family to the Da Vinci code (don’t get me started) and any number of others in between doesn’t fill the Other Half with joy, so maybe we won’t consider that a serious option.

And it’s no use trying to placate me with statistics and facts – it’s my irrational fear and I’ll wallow in it if I want to.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Family Ties

I’ve just had a very random memory of my father, drunk as a lord, dancing to “Because I got High” in an Essex dining room at a New Years Eve party about three years ago. This is remarkable only in the choice of music – my father, when inebriated, becomes the life and soul of the party – as long as his every whim is catered for that is. Petulance is never far away – an argument started at one family gathering when, despite our best efforts, we were singularly unable to identify a song he was insisting was by Elton John (or “that fat poof” as my father likes to call him. He was personally affronted when Elt came out, and has since been observed in front of the telly as a concert was being screened, listening but looking at the ceiling as he can’t bear to look at him….), which after a bitter and protracted argument turned out to be “Sultans of Swing” by Dire Straits. That particular evening also featured his (frankly terrifying) rendition of Marilyn Monroe singing Happy Birthday Mr President, which still has the power to make a friend of mine wince at the memory when reminded.

Christmases at the family seat in Wiltshire are niggle-by-numbers in our family. Every year, the decision-making process over who will sleep where is kicked off round about September time, as my stepmother struggles with the logistical nightmare of up to ten adults of varying tolerance, four small children, two very nervous cats and a four-bedroom house. I’ve slept, variously, on a sofa bed in the dining room, on a sofa, in my brother’s bed (sans brother, I hasten to add), and once, memorably, on a lilo in my sister’s room. Small Person has shared a room with every member of the family at some point, and is often to be found wandering the landing searching in vain for a parent. At some point during the festivities there will be:

1) A discussion regarding the infiltration of society by the homosexual element. At some point my father will play his trump card “Gays? Sads, I call ‘em”, while the rest of us roll our eyes and talk amongst ourselves.

2) A spirited game of MasterQuiz, an interminable low-rent precursor of Trivial Pursuit, during which my little sister will complain viciously that she always gets the Geography questions and it’s just not fair.

3) Accusations of cheating levelled by my father at anyone who might participate in any game with him, usually engendered by someone else getting two answers right in a row, while he is consistently asked questions which assume a level of interest on his part in Eastenders/Pop Idol/Eastern European political processes since the Second World War.

4) A helpless fit of giggling at the table involving my sister and myself, which serves only to irritate everyone since we are in our thirties and therefore old enough to know better. My sister’s crowning moment was during a family game of Scrabble, when, struggling with a troublesome letter, she asked in a loud, steady voice “Is quim a word? Q-u-i-m, quim?”. Bless her.

This pattern is repeated without deviation, year after year, and we love it. Days are spent glassy-eyed with boredom by the fire as the permanent cricket commentary emanates at ear-splitting volume from the TV, and my father snores, oblivious, in the corner. Any unapproved programmes (ie, everything apart from cricket) are watched huddled over the tiny portable black and white TV in my sister’s room. My stepmum will at some point dance alone in the hallway to a Rod Stewart cassette, fired up on brandy and festive cheer. A cat will escape, be captured, escape, be recaptured and confined to a bedroom, whereupon someone will unwittingly leave the door open and the whole process will begin again. We eat too much, drink too much, moan about the washing up and have a thoroughly good time. I know we’re not alone in this family routine, but believe me when I say that it’s just about the only normal thing about us. Really.

The Other Half is even now rehearsing in order to deliver his “I’m very very busy over Christmas for the rest of my life, honest” speech in a convincing voice. He’s not getting away with it though.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

No pain, no gain. My arse.

My deep-rooted aversion to phyisical exercise was ingrained in me from an early age. I was born in the early seventies, and grew up in a time when it was still acceptable for schools to browbeat and humiliate pupils who, like me, were so laughably unathletic that climbing a flight of stairs was a test of co-ordination. It's a far cry from today, when school sports days are awash with political correctness - let's all hold hands and smile and not forget that there are no losers, just people who are talented in other areas....whereas at my school my abject failure in the egg-and-spoon race at age six had my class teacher hopping up and down with rage on the sidelines, tearing at her hair and berating me in front of the assembled and largely indifferent parents. The pinnacle of my sporting prowess (a fiercely fought and well-deserved second place in the spacehopper race aside - thighs of steel, even as a five-year-old...) was my near-drowning in a school swimming gala. As I thrashed wildly in the deep end, my head ingloriously stuck between the lane ropes, the lifeguard threw himself into the pool in a show of bravado unmatched before or since, and my mother sighed and turned the page of the Woman's Own she'd brought with her to pass the time. In fact, it's safe to say that throughout my formative years, I was probably hit by more sporting equipment than I utilised. Still, I fared better than Caroline Goodson, who at the end of Sports Day in 1979 got lost under the tarpaulin laid out as part of the obstacle race and was nearly trampled to death in the end-of-We-Are-The-Champions-type frenzy as the headmaster came over all Ron Pickering and bellowed "Away you go!".

I feel somehow justified in blaming this utter lack of sporting ability on my upbringing. My mother would no more exercise for pleasure than she would turn down a large gin and tonic - in her day if you wanted to lose weight you did it the proper way, by careful application of starvation and amphetamines. Add to this that Saturdays in mine and my sister's youth were spent eating pub lunches and mooching disconsolately round a succession of beer gardens waiting for our parents to remember us and get us home in time for a nice furious bitter row before bed and it's no surprise that by the age of ten, although proficient at fruit machines and jukeboxes, I was nobody's candidate for the District Sports team.

During my early twenties, I briefly became obsessed with step aerobics. I went three times a week, and never minded that while everyone else grapevined themselves into a hernia, I was invariably at the back of the hall trying to figure out how to get my feet to do that without breaking my neck. The teacher was an ex-professional dancer, and in some classes it was unclear whether we were exercising or auditioning for West Side Story. Since then, myself and physical exertion have been strangers - unless walking to the pub counts? However, largely motivated by the fact that since we've been together nearly two stone has somehow morphed from the Other Half's body onto mine, I've taken up running again (I flirted with this briefly last year - trained for the Race for Life, swore to keep it up and promptly resigned my trainers to the back of the cupboard the minute I got home), with some people I work with. For "people I work with" read: someone who regularly runs with someone who's run the marathon, someone who's actually run the marathon, and a couple of other people who are terrifying in their motivation to be faster than me. So for the last three weeks I've been entertaining the good people of my part of England, lumbering round the block like an asthmatic carthorse while lithe, barely panting colleagues sprint ahead, chirpy encouragement streaming over their sculpted shoulders as I sweat hopelessly towards an impending coronary.

Still, it does have the attraction of allowing me to be extremely smug at people who don't bother to exercise. And I'll take the power of lording it over my colleagues over the ability to breathe without fainting any day.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

What a way to make a living

When I think back, it seems to me that I may well have had the most chequered employment history this side of Keanu Reeves (is there ANYTHING he won’t appear in? Does he have conversations with his agent that go along the lines of “look, Keanu, it’s a little different than anything you’ve done before. You’ll be playing a priest with a history of serial murder and porn film distribution, who’s now set up an orphanage and is trying to stop a major Columbian drug cartel from buying the building and turning it into a training school for teenage assassins….that ok?”. …. "Uh, sure. Can I just sort of look blank and deliver my lines with all the emotion of a coffee table? Cool.”). Anyway, back to me. I left school at 16, having realised that I was just too lazy to even contemplate doing my A levels. My first job was with a firm of accountants. It was very provincial indeed……we used to have to wait until bang on 5pm to tidy our desks, and weren’t allowed to leave until one of the partners said it was ok. Realising that it was sort of like school, and also that regrettably I wasn’t very good at sums (I got sent on a course in London and got 3% on my test paper at the end of it. Not a very auspicious start.), the firm and I decided to part company . I then embarked on ten years or so of varying and sometimes seemingly pointless jobs. I joined employment agencies on a couple of occasions over the years, and was sent on any number of hilariously menial assignments. I’ve worked in a jam factory, where the evil bitch of a supervisor sent me off to the anchovy paste department…..mmmmmm. I’ve plucked turkeys, graded potatoes (standing on the back of a tractor, chugging up and down a field throwing mangled toads and rotten potatoes at the other slaves), packed university prospectuses (that one was particularly galling – if I’d been bothered to study I’d have been at university by then; instead I was in a warehouse on an industrial estate in rural essex, packing these brochures in the company of other dropouts, the socially disadvantaged, and in at least one case the criminally insane), and bent bits of plastic to make display cases. I spent ten weeks working for a joinery firm, putting together display cases for video game consoles in the company of some of the biggest potheads I’ve ever met. We spent most of our days giggling like drains and eating many, many biscuits. I got trapped behind a load of glass unit doors as I was so stoned that I stood in an alcove and counted them towards me – who knew that twenty solid glazed cabinet doors would be so heavy, or could cut off that much oxygen? I spent two years working in the madhouse that was the Benefits Agency in a VERY rough Essex town – we were advised not to put our real names on our name badges, as in the past people who had had their claims turned down had traced the staff member through the phone book, and burned their house down……I’ve also been a motorcycle courier in London – that one was vastly entertaining in a dicing-with-death-on-a-daily-basis sort of way, and worked as a barmaid in a fabulously rough biker pub. Now I find myself in a fairly responsible position in a slightly respected (among the old and mentally infirm) travel company, and I’m really not sure how I got here. I live with a constant fear that one day I’ll be found out….particularly after a few days off. Instead of enjoying my time away I live with a constant low-grade paranoia that in my absence my boss or the IT department will have trawled my PC and found all those emails giggling about the boss’s frankly ludicrous hair or whether or not our suspicions about one of the managers having been a hooker at some point are ever going to be proved right. I suspect I’m not alone in that “I’m not qualified/motivated/sane enough to have this job” feeling – how many of us are coasting along, doing the bare minimum and funding our weekend beer habit, while constantly worrying that on some not-too-distant Monday morning we’re going to find the contents of our desks in a cardboard box on Reception, along with a threatening letter from the IT director about all those chain emails and pictures of naked fat people we’ve happily spent our days forwarding.

Well, that wasted half an hour. Surreptitious surfing for pictures of funny roadsigns, anyone?

By the way, and for reasons I'd like to keep private, have I mentioned that and it's mirror site are a marvellous read? Well, I have now. Jason, you sad, sweaty,hopeless, hairy born-again virgin, I hope you can live with yourself.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Just another spastic Monday

Today is rubbish. Proper rubbish. I had a patchy night’s sleep again…. I must hold the record for broken nights – Small Person is nearly five and has slept through the night since she was nine weeks old. I, however, haven’t slept through since I was five months pregnant. It drives me mad and seems to be an irreversible thing. Admittedly I “slept” on Friday night, but that was after a great deal of beer and some light violence in town. Nice. So anyway, back to the Monday morning from hell. I was doing excellently – Small Person was up, had been nagged through her breakfast, and we’d achieved clean and tidy and full school uniform in time to go through her reading books before we left the house. I was even organised enough to have labelled her wellies and umbrella, as it appears to be monsoon season in south-east England. So, off we went, all secure in the knowledge that we’d cracked the Monday morning thing. We arrive at school bang on time at 8.45am, and in my head I’m already thinking ahead to my schedule once I arrive at work nice and comfortably just before 9am. As Small Person clambers out of the car and starts to wrestle with her umbrella, we have the following conversation:

Me: “Where’s your book bag?”

Small Person: “Mummy, you forgot my book bag”

Me: “It’s your book bag. Why didn’t you bring it?”


Me (gritted teeth, happy sing-song voice, conscious of other parents’ bad-mother radars lighting up like Christmas trees at this exchange): “Come on darling, let’s get you into class”

So now it’s all sliding rapidly out of control, like a nightmare elephant/roller skates/steep hill scenario. I’m mentally calculating exactly how late this is going to make me, and wondering if anyone will notice me crawling to my desk on hands and knees in an effort to remain undetected by my boss. So I smile manically at the teacher, explain the situation and leg it back to the car. Ten screeching swearing gesticulating minutes later (I know it SAYS thirty miles an hour but please, I’m in a hurry here…….) I’m pulling up back at the school with the offending book bag. Back into the classroom, big smile and a cheery wave. At this point I notice the pile of envelopes on a table with dinner money in them. My internal monologue switches from that’s-it-I’m-done-I-can-go-to-work-now to oh-FUCK-IT-I-forgot-to-do-the-dinner-money-she’ll-starve-and-the-police-will-come-to-work-and-arrest-me-and-I’ll-be-on-the-local-news-and-she’ll-be-taken-into-care-and-grow-up-mentally-scarred-and-end-up-a-drug-ravaged-mother-of-twelve-on-a-sink-estate and I turn on my heel and sprint back to the car to get my cheque book. As I skid into the classroom for the third time in twenty minutes my trousers are splashed with mud from the puddles in the playground, my hair is frizzing up like Diana Ross (that’s Miss Ross to you..) in a sauna due to the pelting rain, and lovely Mrs Clifford is developing the fixed smile of someone who is witnessing a nervous breakdown at close quarters and trying to decide whether to humour me or call an ambulance. I scribble out the cheque, and even as I visualise my desk shining like a golden beacon of sanity in the midst of this utter disaster, I find myself embroiled in an in-depth discussion of Small Person’s homework. How much is there to say about a picture of a daisy that she scribbled in five minutes yesterday afternoon because she wanted to watch Little Mermaid 2? Apparently, a great deal. After an appraisal of said picture that would have had Brian Sewell wincing at the pretension, I make my escape. I finally dropped into my chair, wild-eyed and panting, at 9.15am, and my boss hadn’t even noticed I wasn’t in on time. Which is a dilemma in itself – should I be pleased at getting away with it, or slightly concerned that I’m so insignificant I can apparently come and go as I please without fear of reprisal?

Suffice to say, Small Person will now be carrying her book bag around like a double-dealing diplomat smuggling nuclear secrets…..I’m going to handcuff the fucking thing to her wrist, and if she doesn’t like it she can damn well go out and get a job and start contributing something to this household.

Note to any social workers who may stumble across this – I love her really. She’s ace.

Friday, April 15, 2005

We'll always have Rome

The worst photograph of me in existence is one that was taken of me in 1983, in front of the Trevi fountain in Rome. There’s me, my sister and my mum, all captured in what looks like a group seizure, but what was in fact the act of each throwing a coin in the fountain. My mum assured us this was a guarantee that each of us would one day return to Rome. I’d have been better off if it was a guarantee that at some point in the very near future I’d stop dressing that badly. Admittedly I was only ten years old, but thanks to what we’ll euphemistically refer to as my “chubbiness”, coupled with my truly appalling even by eighties standard dress sense (a rope belt cinched as tightly as possible round a pot belly apparently just makes you look even fatter – who knew?) and a hairstyle that would have Donald Trump gasping with disbelief, I actually look like a little old lady on a coach trip. Nice. The hair was an issue for most of my childhood – it was only when I hit secondary school that I realised that normal pre-pubescent girls don’t have hair that would make Gloria Hunniford’s stylist weep with frustrated envy. Glance through the school photos that include me, and from the age of about seven onwards (prior to this my mother was satisfied with tortuous bunches and ponytails that by the end of the school day left me feeling like I’d spent the day with my head in a vice), I stand out amongst the serried ranks of normal kids like Liberace at an alopecia convention. I can only assume that my mother had at some point been thwarted in her attempt to become an internationally-acclaimed hairstylist to seventies porn actresses, and had instead turned her attention to me. Sunday nights were spent having my ears burned by the scary orange hairdryer in front of Songs of Praise. Monday through to Wednesday mornings were filled with the sound of Silvikrin hairspray sizzling on the curling tongs, as ever-more elaborate arrangements of waves, ringlets and a suburban-Essex take on the Farrah Fawcett Majors flick were forced onto my recalcitrant and resolutely uncooperative hair. And she wonders why I spent 3 years in my early twenties with dreadlocks, and didn’t even own a hairbrush. Ha.

Incidentally, the mere mention of this photo has the power to render the Other Half helpless with laughter (why did I show him?? Why?).

Darling, we’ll always have Rome…….

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Windmills of my mind......

So last night, we’re sitting on the Other Half’s marvellously squishy sofa, watching telly. All normal, nothing to see here. At some point during the evening’s programming, there’s a (very) random reference to Skimbleshanks the Railway Cat. All of a sudden it’s as if I’m channelling Pam Ayres – I’m helplessly reciting the first verse while the Other Half looks on with that combination of pity and horror that you never want to see on the face of someone you love, particularly if it’s you that’s put it there. This happens to me all the time, and is part of the reason for this blog. At any given point on any given day, my brain is endlessly generating reams and reams of pointless information, triggered by anything I might see or hear. The reason I know the poem about the fucking cat (yes, I know Pam Ayres didn’t write it, however she is responsible for the deeply marvellous “Spare a Thought for Hedgehogs”) is that we once had to do something cringy and self-conscious (the details of which fortunately escape me but I know there was a piano involved…..) with it during a drama lesson in the third year at school. This worries me. I’m thirty two years old, for crying out loud – why do I need to be blessed with almost total recall of something that happened nearly twenty years ago? I find this particularly galling as (although I really don’t need to) I can’t remember what I did yesterday, or where I’ve put the piece of paper that details term dates at Small Person’s school. You’d think my brain could run some sort of rudimentary filtering system but no, apparently it’s more important that I can remember that we once rubbed kiwi lip gloss into Lee Piggott’s hair during a quiet moment in an English lesson in 1987 (he was endlessly entertaining in a passive sort of way), than whether or not my daughter should today be receiving a formal education. It happened to me again this morning – someone sitting at the desk behind me mentioned a surname, and before you can say “just lie down on the couch, madam” I’m frenziedly Googling in an effort to confirm my suspicions that there was a character with that name in obscure eighties camp-as-christmas film “Earth Girls are Easy”. Turns out it was Wiploc not Diplock, but you see what I’m up against here.

Fortunately the Other Half is as mental as me, altho he’s loathe to admit it. As far as I see it, a man who systematically sponges down the shower while he’s still in it, and thinks his obsession with the vertical blinds in his house (apparently they must be closed in a certain direction….who knows which one…..I always guess) is perfectly normal is hardly in a position to comment on my hoovering fixation or my strongly-held personal belief that the best place to store important documents is in the bread bin.

Trust me, we’re a match made in heaven.

You know what I want to eat right now? Toffo’s.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Other people's business

Here at work, we have a spurious department known as "Facilities". I say spurious, as it's sole purpose (as far as I can make out), is to monitor really really important stuff such as the use of the welfare room (an overly-warm, windowless pit of despair where those lacking the imagination to think of anywhere else to go during their lunch hour go to reheat last night's dinner and gaze blankly at the local news on the telly while trying not to notice that bloke who's in there every day and still can't figure out that nobody wants to hear him eating); where the plants are positioned and, most importantly, the fridges. Every so often, a very important missive from said Facilities department plops into the inbox of everyone in the company, to berate us on the state of the fridges that are lavishly provided in order that we don't collectively expire from eating slightly warm cheese sandwiches. Today's was exhorting those who have forgotten that three week old lamb casserole or whatever, which is now gently rotting at the back of a shelf, to clear it the fuck out RIGHT NOW. Not in those exact words, obviously, but the obsessive-compulsive busybody who uses the "Facilities" tag to treat us all like children is not a person to be crossed. This is the same person who was observed only a few days ago wandering up and down the office bashing aircon vents with a spoon, muttering and twitching. Issues, anyone?? At what point does a person become so obsessed with controlling their environment that they are unable to restrain themselves from mailing everyone in the company to remind them that, when heating soup in the microwave, they should cover it with a plate to avoid spillage? Or to patrol the various floors of the office sniffing out those who dare breach the "no hot food at your desk" rule, and spraying them with air freshener. I kid you not - that happened to a friend of mine about 3 weeks ago.

Sometimes I worry about how much I worry about this stuff. At the moment there are about 4 really important things I ought to be doing; instead I'm posting a rant about an email about a fridge.


In the beginning.....

First of all, a word of explanation.

At school, when I was little, we had music lessons. At any given point, to mounting excitement, we were allowed to "choose" an instrument to torture. That's to torture and not of - it wasn't that sort of school. All the bigger, pushier kids (those with the richest parents - was a private primary school and fiercely competitive but more of that another time) always ended up with the really cool instruments - the kettle drum, the really fucking huge (and slightly sinister but again, more of that later) recorder, or the absolute apogee of late-seventies british music lesson cool - the glockenspiel. Whereas me - a bit fat, lavishly Mum-styled hair (remind me to expand on that another time) and more than lacking in self-confidence, invariably ended up with the D-flat chime bar. Basically a flat bit of metal screwed to a cylinder thing, with a hitting stick. When struck, the thing emitted a sort of mournful off-key boink noise.

Story of my life.

So, off we go. No idea where I'm going with this, or even why. I have so much weird, utterly random stuff floating around in my head at any given time that I thought maybe putting it down might at least allow me enough free headspace to a) do the job I'm paid not a great deal for (altho to be fair at present my working day consists of seeing whether I can break my own personal surf-the-internet/see-how-many-folders-on-the-network-I-can-access/do-a-search-with-keyword-"salary"-and-figure-out-how-much-the-people-i-hate-here-are-earning-so-that-I-can-hate-them-more record) and b) enjoy my life/relationship while sparing the long suffering Other Half from the hours and hours and hours of endless navel-gazing and guilt that he currently wards off. That said, I'm determined not to bore the arse off myself and anyone stumbling across this by wittering on endlessly about you know, like, stuff. Lord knows there's enough wanking going on out there without my bad self-psychology adding to it.

Today has been fairly momentous. Small Person enjoyed her first full day at school. This was more a test of my dammit-i-refuse-to-cry-and-look-like-a-lunatic-in-public powers than her resilience - she's been in daycare since before she was two and currently regards the world as a series of 9-5 working days during which any change of routine is a respite. So jaded for one so I've spent the day imagining all sorts of graphically hideous scenarios (I personally wet myself on my first day at school owing to lack of cutlery so was dreading a call from the school insisting that I either supply them with incontinence pants or feed her at home) ranging from fights over pencils to the whole of Year 1 chanting obscenities at her in the playground. Fortunately it appears that once more my Worst Case Scenariometer has been in overdrive, and she merely favoured me with a withering look when I picked her up. My question "what did you do today" was greeted with a sigh and "I can't remember", delivered in a tone that suggested that in her head the response was "For fuck's sake, mother, I've had a tough day. Do you really think I can be arsed recounting the entire thing to you so that I can assuage your working-mother guilt by letting on that actually I had sort of a good time? Hardly...."

She's not even five.

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