Friday, September 30, 2005

And the winner is.....

....Stef the Engineer. And before Crash starts complaining, I'd like to remind him that he's already seen the picture. Stef seconded the pirate suggestion which is what I'm going as. I'm sure there should have been more grammar in that sentence, but never mind. And while we're on the subject of grammar, could someone please explain why the possessive apostrophe doesn't count when saying "its" as in "the dog sat in its basket". Or does it count? I need to know.

Anyway, Stef; if you care even remotely please email me at and a glorious blurry photo-of-a-photo will be sent to you by return. Oh, and I'm the one in the middle and I really was only ten, despite looking about seventy. And may I take this opportunity to a) thank everyone for their suggestions and b) promise to post something interesting next time.

Don't say I never give you anything.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Surly Girl Needs You.

This one is for everyone. Regulars, lurkers, whoever it was that got here by Googling "Gloria Hunniford Hairstyle" (incindentally that post also explains the siginificance of Rome. In relation to me I mean, not as the home of the figurehead of the Roman Catholic Church or anything). Basically anyone who stops by for whatever reason, whether you like it here or not, you need to help me.

Next weekend brings a celebration for Crash and Donna's fortieth birthdays. It also brings four words guaranteed to strike terror into my very soul: Fancy Dress Pub Crawl. I have horrible, scarring memories of coming second in the Fancy Dress Parade at Pontins in Plemont Bay, Jersey in 1979, dressed in my bee costume from the school production of Noah (David Jarmaine shone as God, whilst the Giraffes are to be commended for an understated yet accomplished performance). Since then I have determinedly not done fancy dress. This time it's different however, as even the Other Half is dressing up. So, the pressure is on, and that's where you come in.

What in the name of David Hasselhof am I going to go as? Please bear in mind when making suggestions that this will involve twelve hours of drinking plus walking between pubs, and that any proposed costume must take into account that I am over thirty and have fat legs. Also, this is a competition, and the winner will receive a photo of me in Rome in 1983. It will cheer you up for the rest of your life, believe me.

Cue no comments whatsoever and a hastily cobbled-together bee costume. Don't let me down now.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

21st century, anyone?

I've just got back from an appointment with my dermatologist. The appointment was in a clinic that's reserved for specialist non-hospital services such as, well, dermatology or physiotherapy and the like. It's also the centre for out-of-hours non-emergency treatment (however that's defined). Presumably some of these cases are of a sicky sort of nature as there was a notice sellotaped to the bin which read "please do not put vomit in this bin". Now I'm all for asking people not to vomit in the bin - it's unhygienic for a start. But asking people not to put vomit in the bin? Eh? Where are they holding it until a bin hoves into view, their pocket? So there we all were, studiously not putting vomit in the bin and doing surreptitious checking-out-the-other-people-in-the-waiting-room. There was a nun doing a crossword (two down, died for our sins. J-something-S-something-something-S. Hmmmm), a very smiley lady of the sort that means you expend all your energy on not catching her eye lest she tell you all about her cats or her daughter or her hysterectomy; and a couple of sturdy moustachioed old ladies in Very Thick Coats. We were joined by a middle-aged couple who sat at the back of the room. My favourite part was watching everybody look sharply up in surprise when the male half of this couple farted very loudly indeed, then quickly look back down at their six-month-old Woman's Own when they realised what that noise had been. My least favourite part was the look of abject horror and the loud remark "Well I don't want to be examined by him" from one of the sturdy old ladies when a black doctor appeared in the doorway and called a patient through. I hope she was examined by him, and I hope she found it very unpleasant indeed, the nasty bigoted old witch.

Makes my blood boil. Oh, and we're having a competition later.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Oh, just ignore me.

Today I am living up to my nom de plume. I am surly. I am also tired, grouchy, irritable, grumpy, cross and a little bit poorly. It's the worst sort of a little bit poorly - an indefinable not-quite-rightness that is making me want to cry/sleep/kill (not necessarily in that order). It's one of those day when the little things that don't really matter that much get blown out of all proportion in my mind and upset me. The only solution is to go out tonight with the Other Half and have a thoroughly good time. Fortuitously, that's exactly what we have planned, so that's alright then. Except I don't know if I'm in the right frame of mind because I sort of know that the thing that's annoying me this afternoon will hang around like a moody teenager, glowering and scuffing its feet until I acknowledge it, whereupon it will immediately cause a prickly sort of conversation that I hate because I come off all moody teenager (that or consumptive Victorian brave-in-the-face-of-private-and-unappreciated-torment girl). Hopefully in the interim glittery shiny things will happen and cheer me up.

I'm irritating myself now. Carry on.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

She looks like a sugar in a plum...

....plum plum. It was that sort of weekend.

After a Friday night out with Crash and Donna which left us richer to the tune of a tin of evaporated milk, a story guaranteed to put me off chocolate spread for life and the knowledge that we danced very badly indeed in a brightly-lit and almost empty pub, we headed off to deepest Wiltshire bright and early and a bit hungover on Saturday morning. Arriving before anyone else, including my father and stepmum, we set the tone for the remainder of the day by heading to the pub for a relaxing pint before the hoards descended. The pub was hosting a wedding that was in gloriously bad taste (the bridesmaid's dress had a great big bow on the back and the toothless balding man in the cheap suit turned out not to be the requisite innapropriate uncle but the groom, a fact that he amply demonstrated by holding the bride's bottom very firmly while shoving his tongue down her throat) that I could have watched all day. Our presence was required however, so we wandered back and were greeted by Australian Sis and Controlling Husband. Now, CH seems on the surface to be a very nice man indeed, although there was a little too much old-school servile behaviour on display from AS for my liking. I'll reserve judgement though as it was hard to get much of a handle in what he's really like. He's Australian by way of Kosovo and as such his English, particularly when trying to translate drunken banter between people who've known each other for thirty-odd years, is still a work in progress. This led to him being really rather quiet and sloping off to bed early, so we'll see.

As for the rest of the visit; well, it had everything you could wish for. We drank for twelve hours solid and my father fell asleep before he could even eat his dinner. This may have been related to his student-like enthusiasm for drinking everything he could lay his hands on, including some Kosovan brandy that he was swigging from the bottle like a chav with an alcopop. At one point the table next to his recliner had a glass of whisky, a glass of red wine and a glass of cava lined up so it's probably no wonder that shortly before dinner we were drawing straws to see who got to wake him up. After dinner all thoughts of the traditional whining through the washing up were put aside as the Boney M vinyl was cranked up and Woodlands was witness to the triumphant return of the Impromptu Hallway Disco, which ran until the record player broke and no amount of shining a torch on it while sort of poking it a bit would cajole it back into life. Fifi Sis' Other Half regrettably failed to wire up the karaoke mikes he'd helpfully brought with him so we satisfied ourselves with wailing along to some dreadfully bad covers CDs that he'd purchased from a petrol station (under the impression that they were just a bargain at six quid for twelve CDs) and lurching around a bit. When the party broke up slightly we retired to the living room to talk loudly over the sound of my father's laboured drunken snoring as he'd once more collapsed open-mouthed into his chair. I suspect that it would have been a much later night but the Other Half (mine) expressed his desire to go to bed (we were on a blow-up bed in the living room) by simply lying on the floor until the penny dropped. On the subject of the Other Half, he was the victim of a particularly nasty case of middle-of-the-night confusion of the sort that renders it impossible for you to find your way out of a dark room as someone has turned it inside-out while you were sleeping. Desperate for a wee, he did two laps of the living room barking his shins and becoming increasingly panicky before finally locating the light switch and making good his escape. The light going on didn't wake me up though, as I had wisely legislated for it by drinking far too much wine. Regrettably this rendered me bratty and irritating before knocking me out, for which I can only apologise to the long-suffering Other Half.

After a random early morning conversation in which the Other Half and I decided that we were going to give it all up and run a pub instead, we found ourselves on an outing to the local park to amuse Fifi's eldest Minx. I was missing Small Person horribly by this point and was more than ready to go home. However, the park was so random that I'm rather glad I stuck around. Eldest Minx had already told me the way to the park - you go back past the other way and then along, apparently. She only fell over three times on the way, so that was alright then, and the park was something of a curiosity. There were the usual swings and play equipment, but at the opposite end there was a plantation-style house which appeared to host the park in its front garden. There was also a folly and a burial ground, so all in all more sinister than friendly, in my opinion. Fifi and her Other Half decided to get some Sunday papers so we accompanied them to the shop. The walk there was akin to a walk round Royston Vasey and things didn't get any less weird when we arrived at our destination. The Other Half was keen to purchase a revolting squeezy skull with bugs in it that had been making him and Fifi's Other Half (for crying out loud somebody suggest a shorter name for him!!) giggle like six-year-olds since the previous afternoon (FOH had bought two for his nephew and they made me feel proper sick) and of course the papers had to be bought. Hindering this transaction was the presence in the shop doorway of a very odd dog indeed. It appeared to be a cross between a Springer Spaniel and a walrus (waniel? spalrus?) having very short legs and big flippery feet and it stared relentlessly at Fifi which unnerved her no end. I could have stayed there all day reading the notice board (home hairdressing from five pounds [no perms]) and watching old men buying Deep Heat but I had to get home and it's a three hour drive so we reluctantly headed back. On the walk back to the park FOH told a fabulous story detailing the time during his school nativity play when Sister Hildegarde, on becoming concerned at him missing his cue (he was Joseph, complete with dressing gown and talcum powder in his hair), ventured backstage and found him in an ante-room off the wings teaching the shepherds how to masturbate. Marvellous.

And there was pineapple fridge cake and me and Small Person ate it all when we got home. Sorry. Oh, and there were lots of pre-teen hookers in the park and their friend looked like Fred West in a wig. And Unsuitable Terry was very funny indeed, in an unexpectedly good way.

I'm tired and therefore this post has been long and rubbish. That'll teach you.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Something for the weekend?

This weekend features a rather large family gathering. Since it's at my father's house and my mother is not involved it will be more like this than this. At least that's the plan. Joining myself, the Other Half (no Small Person as the Ex is a selfish twat), Fifi Sis, her Other Half and the Minxes, Younger Sis and Unsuitable Terry and my father and stepmother will be Australia Sis and Controlling Husband. This is where it could get interesting. Controlling Husband is of the sort that demands a strict information filter on the part of Australia Sis, as evident in her reluctance to disclose that either Fifi or myself had new Other Halves following our respective marriage breakups last year. Quite how Fifi was supposed to conceal the existence of Smallest Minx during any subsequent get-togethers was the subject of much speculation. Australia Sis and Controlling Husband have been given the only spare room with more than one bed (even though it would be much better suited to, say, a couple and their two small children) as CH "doesn't like them to spend a night apart". I rather suspect that the presence in the house of not one but two scoundrels who have tempted wives from their marital bonds may have more to do with it - perhaps AS' moral welfare is thought to be at stake, what with the presumed-on-CH's-part midnight prowling and all. When AS visited on her own last year there were daily two hour phone calls from CH, in which he demanded step-by-step details of anyone she'd come into contact with that day as reassurance that her trip had not been an elaborate cover-up of her real intention to spend her holiday entertaining a succession of anonymous men in the Gatwick Travelodge. It's a bit of a worry. And this weekend is the first time that most of us will have met him, and I'm just not sure how it'll pan out.

And there had better be Pineapple Fridge Cake or I'm really going to sulk.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Mind yer beeswax.

There's a baby in the office today. You know the routine. The person that everyone erased from their memory the moment the "You're Having a Baby!!!" balloon floated out of sight down the stairwell on their last day turns up six months later, exhausted and with unbrushed hair and yesterday's shirt buttoned up wrong, lugging a tired miserable baby who can't figure out why Balamory isn't on this morning. Colleagues, both close "friends" and that odd woman from Accounts who smells of biscuits and cat, flock to ooh and aah over the squealing chubby monster while the hapless mother bravely fields questions that range from the mildly intrusive ("so are you still breastfeeding? how many months is that now?") to the downright personal ("so how long did it take for that vaginal tear to heal?"). And for some reason, if I venture to within fifty paces of someone else's baby, I become fair game for a little light interrogation myself. As the Other Half and I both work for the same company, although on different floors, our relationship seems to be the preserve of the entire workforce. We are routinely asked (often by people we don't actually know that well) about how our divorces are going, whether we'll be living together soon, how he's getting on with Small Person etc. It's also a regular occurence, particularly when I'm within brooding range of someone else's child, that someone will blatantly enquire as to whether we'll be procreating anytime soon. Aside from the fact that it's nobody else's business, I often wonder what possesses someone to ask something so intimate. What next? Will I be expected to send a round-robin email detailing our sex life? Put something on the bulletin board regarding our underwear selection that day? Click "forward" and copy the entire company, from the Board down, in on that email conversation we just had about the weekend?

In other news, there's a family gathering this weekend. It's an emotional minefield - more later.

I'm hungry.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


Well, you asked for it (well, Urban Chick did anyway, but I think she might have been drunk at the time), so here it is - a potted history of my family. You might want to go and have a wee first, or make a cup of tea, as this may take a while. And you might get to the end of it feeling a little uncomfortable, or maybe sorry for us. Don't - it's such a well-worn story now that it holds no emotions, and I'm not out for pity. Cash donations are always welcome, but pity ain't.

It all started in the late sixties. My mother and my father were still married to each other (in my mother's head this is still the case, in whatever weird parallel existence gets her through the day. She announced at lunch a couple of months ago that it would have been their forty-fifth wedding anniversary that day. They've been divorced for thirty-seven years but hey, who's counting? If I had stayed at school I'd have been there for twenty eight years this year. It's that sort of thing...) and my brother was born. He was followed by beloved sister Fifi, and then along came me in the early seventies. I was what's euphemistically known as a band-aid baby, in that I was supposed to glue my parents' marriage back together. However, me being me, this didn't happen. Not even a bit. When I was two, my father ran off with the Avon lady, in a terrible middle-class cliche. Said Avon lady was married with a small daughter at the time. Not to be outdone, my mother hooked up with the Avon lady's now-ex husband, and the fun began in earnest. I'm not entirely sure how much of this was known to any of the parties at the time; did my mother already have, ahem, knowledge of Avon lady's husband even as she was getting it on with my father? Did any of them know about the other indiscretions? Was it all a big jolly liberated seventies wife swap? Of all the possibilities I like the last one the least. Uurgh. So, as is the nature of these things, decisions had to be made. Between the two couples there were four children, with another on the way (happily gestating away inside the Avon lady). This is another part of my history that I really don't understand, particularly as a mother myself. There ensued a process that in my mind took the form of picking teams for netball. My father ended up with my brother, sister Fifi and the impending new addition. My mother gained me and the Avon-lady-ex-husband's daughter. My brother was seven, Fifi was five, I was two and a bit. My soon-to-be-stepsister was four. So the adults, satisfied with the arrangements, all went off and set up home and got married, and concentrated on raising the kids with an eye to minimising any damage caused by the events of their early years. Well, my father and the Avon lady did anyway. My mother and stepfather chose to either tell me, or to simply let me believe, that my father and stepmother were my uncle and aunt, and that my brother and sisters were my cousins, with my stepsister being my only "true" sister. We used to get together at Christmas and on a couple of other occasions throughout the year - lord only knows how that worked as far as the grownups went - a lot of polite small talk I expect. In addition to this familial obfuscation, my mother and stepfather set about drinking themselves into a coma at every possible opportunity. As their relationship worsened, so our evening and weekend routines evolved until my stepsister and I were cast in the role of peacemakers, endlessly placating and fruitlessly refereeing drunken rows. To this day I can't sleep if there's noise, only because part of me is still listening to make sure an argument doesn't break out. I first heard the "c" word aged seven, when my stepfather burst into my room in the middle of the night to tell me I couldn't go and stay with my school friend because I was a spoiled little cunt who thought I was better than him. We weathered Christmases in which the only salvation was that my stepfather would pass out at four pm, and social gatherings where we were lucky to arrive home alive, such was the frequency of drunk driving. I have a vivid recollection of sitting in the back of the family car with my stepsister, as my mother complained bitterly that the car had broken down. My stepfather was unconcious in the passenger seat, having rounded off the evening at a schoolfriend's parents' house by collapsing backwards over a low wall, knocking it down and taking a garden bench with him. It transpired that the car was fine - my mother was simply so drunk that she was pressing the brake instead of the accelerator. Armed with this helpful knowledge, she changed feet and drove us home. This and a thousand other horror stories that I won't bore anyone with now mean that I'm fairly sure that stepsister and I drew the short straw....

So, here we are. The Surly family tree contains a father who I don't call Dad, a stepmother who has been more of a mother to me than my natural mother despite never living with me, a stepfather who I haven't spoken to in nearly twelve years, a mother who I couldn't even begin to describe, a brother, a sister, a stepsister and a half sister. My stepsister is everyone else's stepsister as her father was married to our mother, and her mother is married to my father. My half sister is everyone else's half sister, as she shares a father with me, my brother and sister Fifi, and a mother with my stepsister. My mother and stepmother are sworn enemies owing to my mother's treatment of my stepsister when we were small. My stepfather has apparently gone a bit churchy in his old age. My mother is mental. My brother and half sister are the only children who haven't been through some sort of therapy, giving all the parents a better than fifty percent strike rate in officially fucking their kids up.

It's a wonder I've turned out so normal, isn't it?

Monday, September 19, 2005

Ahoy, me hearties...

....and shiver me timbers. Avast, if it ain't Talk Like a Pirate Day again, then I'm not Cap'n Surly of the good ship Oh Bollocks, It's All Gone Wrong Again. Talking like a pirate be good for the spirit, especially in shops and meetings, so splice yer mainbrace and weird out your friends......


Normal service will be resumed tomorrow. Probably.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

What's in a name?

I had a conversation with a friend on Wednesday in which she questioned my description of myself as a single mother. In my personal opinion, that's exactly what I am. I'm separated from my husband and soon to be divorced, so I'm not "married". Although I have a partner in the steadfast and under-appreciated Other Half (sorry hon), we don't live together and as such he has no "parental" responsibility towards Small Person. Don't get me wrong; they get on like a house on fire and he's becoming more than adequately adept at handling the convoluted logic that only a five-and-a-bit year old can bring to a discussion. I have no doubt that, in time, we'll become a solid family unit while also allowing her to recognise her father's role in her life (such that it is). For the time being, however, it's fundamentally me and her. As such, I have no problem whatsoever with describing myself, should the necessity arise, as a member of the much-maligned sorority of the single mother. At this, my friend looked positively horrified. "But you have [insert Other Half's name here]!! So you're not a single mother. (Helpfully, in her mind..) It's not a good thing, you know".

There's a deep rooted belief among the middle classes in Britain that there exists a sub-class of teenage girls hellbent on becoming impregnated, with the belief that an ever-constricting school uniform holds the key to a golden land; lavishly decorated with free accommodation in the guise of the almost stereotypical council flat, generous state handouts and a lifetime spent watching Trisha and smoking fags. These girls, in some dinner party perpetuated almost-myth, lounge endlessly around in a world that those (generally) more fortunate perceive as a utopian existence - no crying babies, no sleepless nights, no worries about the future. I have no doubt that, in every layer of society, there are parents who care so little about the welfare and prospects of their hapless offspring that they are oblivious to their needs. However, I suspect that the harsh realities of single-parenthood on state benefits is enough for even the most near-sighted of individuals to warn their peers that it's really not all it's cracked up to be. I know it's the hippy in me that believes this, and am sure that others may disagree - well, each to their own opinion.

As for the label, I have to say I wear it more with pride than shame. Why would I not - the most important part of my status is surely "parent" rather than whether I share the burden in a formal setting. The Other Half has been a revelation to both of us - he has resolutely not had children of his own and this caused more than its fair share of heartache over the years in his previous relationship. We have agreed that our mutual future holds no more small people and I am coming to terms with that. However, with each day that passes the relationship between him and Small Person strengthens and it's a joy to behold. He freely admits that he's very relieved to have skipped the whole puking-wailing-napalm-nappy phase, and that things may well have been very different for us had I had more than the one Small Person lurking about the place. As it is, he's experiencing things he never thought he would - Sunday morning cuddles in bed, great big sprawling unconditional hugs (although he gets those from me too), messing around in the park; all in all, the sheer joy and unbelievable frustration that comes with guiding someone through the part of their life when they need you the most. And he does a fabulous job.

And as for the "easy" life of the single mother - believe me when I tell you it's no more glamorous or relaxing than the life of any other parent out there. Since arriving home at 5pm, I have: unpacked two overnight bags - one that I took to the Other Half's, one that Small Person took to her Dad's; put a load of washing through the machine, hung it out and put another one on; cranked up the heating in an effort to ensure that uniform and PE kit are even vaguely dry for tomorrow; supervised maths homework (but that wasn't too bad since it involved Smarties - I'm a firm believer in practical learning, especially if chocolate is involved); made a toasted cheese sandwich and cajoled same down Small Person's neck; done dinner note, dinner money and payment for childminder; almost completed a job application (for myself - apparently we don't send children up chimneys any more - can't think why); bathed Small Person and supervised teeth and wees, read another chapter of that accursed book and composed this post. There's another load of washing about to finish, and the dishes to be washed. Then I can collapse, safe in the knowledge that tomorrow holds more of the same, with the added joy of a day's work and the Other Half's anniversary appointment with his neurologist.

Ah, the sweet smell of exhaustion. I wouldn't have it any other way. Except I would, obviously. There'd be less work and more new shoes.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Racial tension, with lashings of ginger beer

Since I started reading the Magic Faraway Tree to Small Person at bedtime, she's been waking up crying during the night. I presume it's nightmares, but since my daughter fiercely guards her emotions it could be anything. She's a mystery to me - an open, affectionate, loving child who absolutely will not discuss things that upset her. Maybe it's born of me and the Ex splitting up last year, or maybe she's inherited his emotional firewall. I sort of hope it's the first one - she's inherited his feet and his family chin and I think that's enough to be going on with. So any trauma, from restless nights to school-based fears, is approached with such caution that it generally takes about ten minutes for her to even understand what I want to know, so veiled are my enquiries. And the further we get into that bloody book, the more I recall from my childhood that Enid Blyton, in addition to her breathtakingly bad grammar, was more than a little bit racist - the Three Golliwogs, anyone? Lots of tales of how stupid, lazy and unpopular with local residents they were. Shame on you, Ms Blyton. I also seem to recall that she hated children and played tennis in the nude (although I'm fairly sure the Faraway Tree doesn't contain any naked tennis scenes. At least not unless they're integral to the plot). I'm fully expecting to have to skip some of it and to be honest that would be a blessing as it's not nearly as good as I remembered. Bah.

In other news, I just had the sort of meeting that starts off all facts and business, then degenerates into gossiping about kids and shoes. I love that sort of meeting - it's my favourite sort.

How professional.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Things that make you go grrrr

Which, in my case, are far to numerous to mention in full. Today's though, is the alarm on my mobile phone. In my head, I was born to a life of ease and luxury and would drift through eternally sunny days on a cloud of joy, laughter and servants. Small Person would be irreproachably well-behaved and the Other Half would buy me shoes every day. However, the reality is somewhat (ha!) less glamorous. I am therefore woken every weekday morning at 6.55am by the aforementioned alarm.

I have suddenly realised how poncey my writing style is so far. Sorry.

Anyway, the alarm. It's a sort of boingy, squeaky, bouncy electronic noise and it makes me want to bite something. So every morning I side-button it three times before dragging myself out of bed and facing the day with a snarl smile. And it drives me potty. The problem being that the other alarms are even worse. There's a crap salsa one, a crap tweeting one, and a really crap low-rent disco one. Of course, the obvious solution is to go and buy an alarm clock, but that would a) require some effort on my part and b) give me one less thing to moan about. Suffice to say that when the mistake concerning my circumstances is rectified and I'm living in glittery pink splendour, with toblerones and woo-woos being delivered hourly on silver trays by Robbie Williams/Colin Farrell/Martin Clunes dressed only in very small pants, I'm going to build a raft out of lolly sticks, set the fucking phone on fire and give it a Viking burial in the bath.

That's it, I'm done. Carry on.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


I'm beginning to feel a little concerned at the "coincidences" that are making me paranoid about the insect world's intentions towards me (now there's a sentence I never thought I'd write). Following on from last week's unidentified green-crickety-not-a-cricket-spidery-not-a-spider thing on Small Person's ceiling, hostilities have increased. The other morning a wasp fell out from behind the bathroom mirror (I of course immediately checked for very flat nests/portals to other worlds etc) and landed in the soap dish. There are always little tiny scrunched up piders in the corner of the living room ceiling and, owing to the necessity of leaving the light on in the loo all night so that Small Person can go for a wee without fear of being eaten by the Beast from Beauty and the Beast ("but he turns out nice Mummy, so I do like him"), said smallest room looks like the home leg of the Ugly Bug Ball by daybreak. Despite this we've lived in relative harmony with our six-legged friends. But tonight, it got personal. Small Person had finished her bath and had been read Chapter Three of the Magic Faraway Tree, in which Jo, Bess and Fanny (why do I not check these things before committing to the next three months of saying that name every night? Why?) once again failed to actually climb the fucking tree, preferring to instead arse about in the woods with three biscuits each and no need to be home until bedtime. I eventually ran myself a bath, intending to have a bit of a soak before the Other Half arrived from footie stinking, sweaty and in need of some tea. All going well so far, until I returned to the bathroom to find a very large, very dead daddy long-legs floating limply in my lovely hot bubble bath. And it had even left me the tap end. Bastard. Now, this is where I began to feel, well, watched. There's no pretending a daddy long-legs isn't in the room with you - they sort of blunder around making a weird fizzing sound, with no apparent purpose other than to freak people out. Except there absolutely hadn't been one anywhere in the flat (I would have known as Small Person would have done theatrical weeping and trembling, pointing with shaky hand and exclaiming in a querulous B-movie voice that "there's something scary there...") and all the windows were pretty much shut. Setting aside the notion of a very determined daddy long-legs shoving its way through a crack in the bathroom window, tongue poking out of the corner of its mouth with concentration, it all seems a bit odd. So, admitting defeat, I let the bath water out. So now I have the corpse of a gert big insect sprawled inelegantly across the plughole and there's no shifting it. And I just plain can't pick insects up unless it's through fifteen layers of kitchen paper - I'm always vaguely terrified that despite the padding I'll feel that sort of meaty presence and I'll never sleep again.

So, what to do? Write it off as coincidence, or trawl th'internet in search of an insect exorcist (insectorcist?)?

In other news, Small Person was playing in her room this morning listening to her Bowling For Soup cd. She's pretty much learned the words now, and sang with impressive clarity the line " I got drunk, had sex with all your friends..."

I'm sure everyone will appreciate how proud I am. Especially her teachers.

Ten things

1. I am scared of the dark.

2. I have fifteen piercings and five tattoos.

3. The people I love the most are also the people who make me laugh the most; my daughter, my Other Half and my beloved sister Fifi.

4. I can ride a motorbike but not a horse. In fact I am scared of horses. And cows. And goats. And geese.

5. I've lived at twenty different addresses, and was once homeless for six weeks.

6. I adore the music of Barry Manilow. Seriously.

7. The things I'll never tell anyone are the things I need to say the most.

8. I love shoes.

9. I never loved my ex-husband.

10. If I came to your house and you made me a cheese sandwich I couldn't eat it. If I made myself a cheese sandwich at your house it would be fine. Shop-bought sandwiches are, for some reason, acceptable.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Oh yes.

Over on, they run a question of the week. A couple of weeks ago it was wondering what the worst thing was that people had done to their siblings. The resulting avalanche of horror stories made me sort of glad that Small Person is, and will remain, an only child. The only normal thing about my family was the intense loathing my stepsister and I felt for each other. There was the usual low-grade bickering that ran incessantly, and apart from sharing the cupboard under the stairs to escape the au-pair, we were locked in hostility. When we played hide and seek she would invariably hide in my toybox. I would then sit on the lid until the screams became faint through lack of oxygen, letting her out in time to pretend I hadn't done anything when a parent came to investigate. She retaliated by making me stand on a stool to turn on my bedroom light, then pushing me off it. Hard. On one occasion I persuaded her to let me cut her hair (she's eighteen months older than me and should have known better - she was twelve at the time). She has very thick, very curly hair, which I cut (with scissors not clippers) into a giant curly mohawk. My mother went absolutely postal, and sis had to wear a banana clip in her hair for about three months. One summer day, playing over the Rec, David SomebodyorOther weed in an empty coke can and left it on the bench under the oak tree. We then announced a race, with the winner getting to drink the coke (it was a very hot day). Cue my sister legging it frantically across the field, while five other kids ran elaborately slowly behind her. She only managed one mouthful, but it was worth it for the look on her face. Car journeys to see grandmothers elevated tensions to the point of all-out war should a foot, elbow or possession stray across the hotly-contested no-mans-land of the back seat armrest. Four hour journeys were punctuated with cries of "Mum! Mum! She's got her FOOT on my side", until slaps were administered to legs and all sweet privileges withdrawn. When staying with my brother and sisters (I thought they were my cousins but that's a story for another time), my stepsister and I had to share a double bed. This necessitated the intervention of a rolled up blanket (that I think was called Harry - am sure Fifi Sis will correct me if I'm wrong) which was placed down the middle of the bed to avoid either of us being kicked to death in the night. All in all, your average sibling relationship. We occasionally colluded - endless games of Monopoly, turning her bedroom into an assault course, looking at Simon Brown's willy round the back of the pub (we were six and eight, so that's alright then). But generally, we were lucky to even tolerate each other. So, based on this evidence, and the fifteen gore-streaked pages of posts over on, I really do think that a solitary childhood with imaginary friends and nobody to ever play board games with is probably the least damaging solution.

In other news, it was pointed out last night by the singer of the pub-rock covers band Dr Rox that the Other Half and I do, officially, rock. We knew that of course, but our shambling drunken singalong to their version of Maiden's Two Minutes to Midnight sealed the deal.

Will we never learn?

Friday, September 09, 2005

Make it stop..

A little gift from me to you. Today's annoying song playing on a loop in my head (and in the head of the poor girl sitting opposite me since I mentioned it to her) is "Uptown Top Rankin" by Althea and Donna. There. Now you too can sit there sort of tunelessly humming it for the rest of the day.

Apparently these things are known as earworms. So now you know.


Thursday, September 08, 2005

Anxiety junction

I had a very strange dream last night which has made me think about the impact that blogging and the accompanying is-anyone-reading-this anxiety is having on my soul. I started out on this as a release for the mental snowstorm that passes for my brain. It was a forum for my own little peculiarities, in order to give me and the Other Half some peace from my incessant nonsense. And, had I not given in to my own narcissistic ways and acquired a site meter and hit counter, I might still be blogging in peace, safe in the assumption that about three people are reading it regularly with any number of random strangers popping in and then buggering off again. I try to write well, and wish I didn't care whether anyone was listening or not. However, apparently I do care. A lot.

In my dream, the BBC website had shortlisted the top five blogs in the world, and mine was at number three. Number three! I excitedly posted the news, along with a link to the web page officially announcing it. And then the comments started. All my lovely regular commenters (and the not-so-lovely ones, but we'll leave Dave and his fascinating fossils out of this), trying tactfully to point out that the Surly Girl in question was in fact some bint from Glasgow who ran a cookery blog, despite hating cooking. It was very funny too, as everyone was swift to point out. I awoke at 4.45am, with Patroclus' final comment etched behind my eyelids: " my opinion, the time has come to accept that we like the other blog better. Everyone, let's head over to".

Add to this the time I spend reading my regular blogs, commenting, going back to see if someone's commented on my comment, checking my own comments and responding, checking my stats and posting, it's no wonder I haven't got time to do any work.

Is it just me?

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


Seeing as it's Wednesday, and I am therefore bored and dispirited after the weekly three-hour meeting in which nothing is ever resolved, today's post is only a little one. Small Person woke up at 4.20am as a result of a bad dream, and I couldn't get back to sleep. So, add tired to the mix and it's probably a good job I don't have access to anything sharp (all potentially dangerous objects were removed by my colleagues long ago). Small Person is, apparently, finding it tough to adjust to the rigours of Year 1, and this manifested itself last night in a breathtaking display of attitude and back-talking. If there had been any passing gipsies I would unhesitatingly sold her to them. We had a long chat about respect and manners, and once she'd stopped screeching and calmed down, things improved. As the Other Half pointed out, it's a good job I've got her through the week at the moment, as the Ex would undoubtedly have lit another rollup and let her get on with it. I'm a very Victorian parent....

In case anyone wants to go and have a look here, the fifth photo down is quite an interesting one. And I like this from yesterdays Borowitz Report.

How dull I am today.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Days of wine and roses

Ah, the neighbours. This lunchtime they were happily sitting together on their patio having a friendly drink. As I write, they are engaged in a particularly (even by their standards) vicious row. Tonght's recurring theme is Mr DDF's assertion that Mrs DDF is, beyond any reasonable doubt, an arsehole. He is particularly keen that she understand this, and is bellowing it at her repeatedly lest she may mishear and think he is telling her how much he loves her. Interspersing the spirited cries of "you're an arsehole!!", "you're an arsehole!!", the old favourite "why don't you just die?" is naturally included. I can't tell you what her response is to this, as she's simply making a high-pitched shrieking noise and repeatedly slamming the back door. I live in a mental home. Last week I was convinced that Farting Man had died upstairs and left a bath running, as his overflow had been running continuously for two days. I was reassured of his fine physical health on Friday morning when, on the stroke of seven (and I mean on the stroke. He's like the bloke with the ship's cannon on his roof in Mary Poppins) he let rip with a magnificent aural display of flatulence. Eerily, his morning routine mirrors mine and it's more than a little unnerving to hear him sloshing around in his bath above me as I'm having mine, or, worse, weeing while I am. I say eerily, but the thought has just struck me that maybe he's crawling around up there like Christopher Ecclestone in Shallow Grave. And on Friday night I was banging on my bedroom wall with a large book at 11.45pm in a snarling, weeping frenzy in an effort to get Stephen Hawking to switch the fucking thing off and let me sleep.

This evening, the Other Half is off schmoozing some Chermans at a Very Nice Restaurant. I had soup and toast for dinner. How impossibly glamorous. I've spent a futile half hour trying to order BT Broadband because I am sick to death of the ridiculously clunky dialup connection I have, only to find that my dialup is so clunky that I can't even download the computer checking thingy. I fear a global conspiracy - that'll teach me for denouncing the Da Vinci Code as a pile of badly-written shite.

In other news, there was a bug-related incident in Small Person's bedroom this evening. I don't know what it was but we stayed well away until the Other Half arrived and swiftly dispatched it. The reason it's notable is that nobody has any idea what it was. It was green, but it wasn't a grasshopper, despite having great big elbowy legs. The Other Half thought it was a pider, but it didn't have enough great big elbowy legs. And it was green. It put me in mind of Granny Cheshire's pond and water-boatmen, but if it was one of those it was seriously off track. So, does anyone have any ideas?

Nothing scary though, thanks - I have enough mental health issues as it is.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Would you LIKE any desserts today?

Myself and the Other Half went out for lunch today. We spent last night out on the town with our respective friends (in which the barman at the Swan outdid the barman at the Black Horse's pentagram in the Guinness top by presenting the Other Half with a pint sporting the anarchy symbol), and he played footie this morning so we agreed that a great big roast dinner was just what the doctor ordered. We chose a nice pub on the outskirts of town, arriving at around twelve thirty. As soon as we were inside, things took a turn for the weird. It took us five minutes to be seated, mainly because the girl who showed us to our table was so lethargic that I suspected she might actually have been nodding out on smack. Honestly, it was embarrassing - at one point I found myself in an odd sort of shuffle on the stairs for fear that I might overtake her, so ponderous was her progress. We sat down and looked at our menus among the sort of cacophony that suggested feeding time at the zoo. Doesn't anyone just talk any more? The volume was so loud that we had no choice but to raise our voices in order to be heard, so the whole meal was spent bellowing at each other in a comedy manner. Our waitress, sorry, server, was master of stating the bleeding obvious, and also of the entirely superfluous question..."Can I get you any main courses today?" thanks, we're just browsing...."Can I clear those plates for you now?", no thanks, we'd rather sit and look at dirty plates, if that's ok with you? Her pinnacle of ridiculousness came when I was paying the bill with my card. She put the transaction through the till, and placed a pen on the desk. Unable to help herself, she helpfully advised that "there's a pen". I bit the insides of my cheeks very hard indeed, and the Other Half had to leg it. I'm all for the improvement of the service industry, but surely there are limits? Oh dear, I've turned into my mother.

In other news, the Ex remains a complete twat. I could treat you all to a futile, angry rant about the latest lack of reason and understanding, but frankly it bores me so I'll spare you. If I ever get my hands on a chainsaw, however, you can read about it in the popular press.

Oh, and hon? That gravy did go down my front. I was just too ashamed to admit it.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Verucca Salt

Following on from my assertion yesterday that I won't be buying any more shoes, I've spent the morning Googling in an effort to track down a pair of trainers. They're Buffalo skate trainers, black, with pink flames. They are beautiful and I must have them. I've found them on one site, but they didn't have my size (it's six, in case anyone has a pair lying around that they don't want any more). There's another site I could get them from, but I can't get on it.

None of this is important, of course. There are all sorts of things that are more important than this. But dammit, I want those trainers.

I am basically a very shallow person. It can't be helped.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

It's a rich man's world...

...regrettably, I am neither rich, nor a man.

I'm having one of those slightly panicky days where I check my bank statement and add up all my outgoings, compare the result with my income and hyperventilate. I do this only occasionally as it's, well, a bit scary really. Today's panic-option is to move; my flat, although reasonable enough in terms of rent, costs me a fortune in council tax and utilities, owing to its size and number of draughty, ill-fitting windows. I've just about got in credit on the gas, but once the heating goes on I might as well give the HR department British Gas' bank account details to pay my salary into. Thing is, this town has more dodgy areas than you can shake a stick at, and I actually don't want to move - the thought of uprooting Small Person once more is more than my guilt can bear. I've just been turned down for a pay rise and, regrettably, all rich relatives remain in excellent (if slightly batty) health.

So, the remaining option is one that causes me pain. Namely, to stop spending all my wages on beer. I've just given up the fags again, which will help. But lately we've been out eating and drinking up to three nights a week, and last month I spent a staggering four hundred quid in random cash withdrawals. Ouch. As the Ex is busy at work at the moment, I'll have Small Person five nights a week which should also help cut back on the going-out spends. I just wanted to go on record and say that I really, really fucking hate being a grownup. I'm rubbish with money and resent not being able to buy shoes when I want. Actually, I blame shoes....a large chunk of money also goes each month towards the loan I took out in order to pay off my credit cards.

And I'm getting a mortgage next year?

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