Thursday, April 27, 2006

Keeping your poop in a jar*

Last night involved a trip out to see the mighty Hayseed Dixie live.

For those who aren’t in the know (and you should be), they’re a four-piece band of good ol’boys who play country/bluegrass covers of rock songs. In dungarees. Sounds rubbish, is in fact brilliant. After twenty minutes or so (and buoyed up by a marvellous support set from Mary McBride [she did a track on the Gay Cowboy Movie soundtrack, you know]) the place had an air of Southern Baptist Tent Revival, and you can’t say fairer than that on a Wednesday night in East Anglia. Even I managed to enjoy myself, despite the fact that I was a) driving b) tired and c) in a mood so foul that Elton John in a full-fledged hissy-fit would have apologised and backed off. Going to see a band in a small venue requires endless patience and steel toecaps, neither of which were in my possession. After an hour of standing perfectly happily(ish) in a pretty good spot, I felt moved to tap a man on the shoulder and point out that as I am only five foot five and he was six foot four, it wasn’t really fair of him to shoulder through the crowd and stake out a place directly in front of me (so close that my nose was pressing into his jumper, and that is Never Good) so far into the evening. To his credit, he was extremely gentlemanly. Up until the point when his Dad got into a fight in the pit, that is. It was one of those nights – and there was me in the middle of it – stone cold sober, tired and with the thought of a 6am run hanging over me. I think I did rather well, myself. I didn’t join in the fight or anything.

And so to the car park. Which goes something like this:

Pay your ticket fee at the pay station. Repair to car. Bulldoze car out into endless queue of almost-stationary cars attempting to exit multi-storey. Refuse point blank to give any quarter to anyone unlucky to have arrived back at their cars after you and who is now attempting to exit their parking space and join the queue. Rail helplessly at the man in front of you who insists on letting people out. Ask him rhetorically (he can’t hear you, you know. And even if he could, he wouldn’t care) why he can’t grasp the simple logic of the situation – if every car lets another car out, and each car is only moving a car-length at a time, I WILL NEVER GET OUT OF THIS FUCKING CAR PARK AND I HAVE AN EARLY START, DAMN YOU!! Sulk. Inch forward, tortuously. On finally reaching the ground floor where the exit barriers are, become aware that people are stopping at the barrier and then getting out of their cars and going to the pay station. Launch a futile, invective-peppered rant against people who are so stupid that they thought it was better to get themselves back to their car faster and then hold up everyone else who had done it the right way round. Arrive at right-hand ticket barrier. Watch incredulously as man at left-hand barrier exits his car and heads for the pay point, ticket in hand. As the red mist descends, borne of tiredness and frustration, wind your window down and involve your partner in a double-barrelled fusillade of abuse against ridiculous, low-browed halfwit who doesn’t understand the basic premise of a car park. This might sound something like:

Me (incredulous): “What the FUCK are you doing?!!”

OH (five pints of Red Stripe and no tea): “YOU FUCKING COCK! YOU RETARD! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!!”

Me (sarcastic, with an edge of violence): “Did you miss the part where you’re supposed to pay for your ticket before you go back to your car? How stupid are you?!”

Man at Pay Station (polite, slightly bewildered): “Everyone will have to do this. We’ve all been in the queue so long the tickets have expired and you’ll have to pay another fifty pee. Look…(gestures at man in front of us failing to get the machine to accept his ticket). Sorry..”

Me: * breaks eye contact, winds window up, orders OH out of the car to pay the extra on the ticket *

Still, live and learn, eh?

* A touching love song with the lyric Keeping your poop in a jar/Until you come back so I don’t forget just what you are/Yeah, I’m keeping your poop in a jar. Best sung en masse, with the crowd waving lighters.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Feminist, Shmeminist

There was a magazine article over at the beeb today regarding the increase in classes offering to teach the (ig)noble art of pole dancing to those who might be interested.

The views expressed in the article and some of the resulting comments made me angry enough to mail my two-pennorth to the website*. I wasn't the only one by any means - the article had a huge response, and rightly so, in my opinion. In the body of the article there was the usual reactionary response from the feminist brigade (or at least someone purporting to be speaking under that banner), banging on about prostitution and exploitation, and bemoaning the fact that women are seeking to "normalise" this activity, and, in turn, "perpetuate a culture of prostitution". Um, hello? I really, really cannot subscribe to this point of view. The thing that struck me the most was that the feminist viewpoint seemed to rail strongly against a woman who said that the classes had boosted her confidence and made her feel sexy. Now, I may have missed the point, but isn't true feminism about empowerment? What exactly is wrong with a woman choosing to increase her sense of self and perhaps enjoy her sexual side in a more fulfilling way, by a method of her own choosing that is acceptable to her and that she feels comfortable with? Isn't the very act of doing so a feminist statement? As long as the classes are freely available for individuals to choose to participate in, or not, what on earth is the issue?

I'm not suggesting for a minute that prostitution is acceptable if it's undertaken without choice. Exploitation is wrong*. But a room full of giggling thirty-somethings bruising their inner thighs to a soundtrack of Christina Aguilera before going home to show their other halves a good time (or just to giggle with their mates over a glass of wine or three afterwards) - well, where's the harm? Judging from the response, it's rash generalisations in angry-wimmin speak that set the cause for equality back much farther than allowing freedom of choice to those who are lucky enough to have the benefit of it. Why not concentrate on the truly exploited - draw attention to those who really have no choice in how they live their lives, rather than barking out pointless soundbites that only serve to reinforce stereotypes of hairy-legged, dungaree wearing, right-on sisters.

Now, where did I leave my perspex-soled mules? Only he'll be home in an hour and I need to perfect my routine to "Steamy Windows", otherwise I won't get my housekeeping this week.

* Competition time! Which comment was mine?
** But I like dirty films. How to reconcile?

Sunday, April 23, 2006

I never said I was normal

You lucky, lucky people.

Because we now have broadband, which means that I can now upload pictures in less than the thirty minutes it used to take me on my 31 kbps dialup, I can torture you with a journey through Strange Looking Men I Have Had Crushes On. This post was already mooching about in the back of my mind, and following my shock admission on Wyndham's comments, and the discussion on the comments over at Spinny's place that degenerated into "which Blackadder would you shag?", I've decided to come clean. If you're of a nervous disposition, or are eating, you might want to click away now. For the braver among you, join me now as we explore the darker recesses of my psyche.

1. Ed "Stewpot" Stewart

Ah, the late seventies. Fashion wasteland, TV graveyard and scene of my first celebrity crush. Those of you around my age will remember the tagline "It's Friday, it's five to five, and it's Crackerjack!". Cue half an hour or so of hyperventilating schoolchildren, Bernie Clifton and his comedy ostrich, Crackerjack pencil and pen sets and the dreamy hosting style of our Stewpot. I was only about six or seven, yet would sit transfixed as the over-coiffed, beige-clad emcee guided boy scouts through games that involved plunging their faces into blancmange and then rice krispies to retrieve something-or-other (with predictably hilarious results), thrust cabbages on hapless contestants in the gladiatorial arena of Double or Drop, and just plain exuded something that I didn't understand, but that spoke to my soul*. See also (briefly) Tony Blackburn, who I used to listen to on my black transistor radio on Saturday mornings, and who played "The Piper" by Abba for me on my eighth birthday. True, I'd written in with my own request, and he didn't read out my joke, but I loved him anyway.

2. Bernard Bresslaw

As I said over at Wyndham's, what's not to love? Cheeky, gormless Bernard was a stalwart of the Carry On films. Carry On films are of course crap, but the British love them anyway. Somehow the combination of godforsaken, rainsoaked sets, Barbra Windsor's tits, some deeply, deeply suspicious "comedy" and Sid James' gravelly, filthy laugh conspired to engrave itself in the heart of the nation. Or something. Anyway, about five years ago, I suddenly realised that Bernard Bresslaw was hot. We'll say no more about it. Let's just move along, shall we? There's nothing to see here. Except Bernard the Hottie. Oh, alright. You can gaze at him for a little while longer. Mmmmmmm....


3. Michael Palin

Whether he's trekking the Sahara, going around the world in eighty days, or simply leaping from tree to tree as they float down the mighty rivers of British Columbia, Michael's the man for me. In everything he's been in since Monty Python (and especially in the Holy Grail), he's been the epitome of older totty. Articulate, funny, avuncular - somehow I can't quite reconcile what everyone else sees with my secret fantasy of a four-way with him, John Cleese and Eric Idle. While Terry Jones watches, dressed as a woman.


Moving on....

4. John Goodman

I'm not sure what first attracted me to John Goodman. Was it his effortless portrayal of an overweight, henpecked Midwest family man? His mastery of the comic genre with the triumph that was "The Flinstones"? Maybe it was his piano-playing and the way he studiously ignored the complete absence of plot in "King Ralph". Whatever. All I know is that, when it comes to the sort of man I'd like to drink beer in a biker bar with, before heading back to his tenement apartment to make dark, awkward love among the cockroaches and dirty plates, John Goodman is at the top of my list. Oh. Along with number five, that is. Not that I'd do them both together or anything. One at a time would work. On separate occasions, obviously. What do you think I am? Some sort of slut, or something?

5. Jason Lee. But only as Earl Hickey

I've tried to understand what makes Jason Lee so sexy when he's playing a badly dressed, balding trailer-park loser with a handlebar mustache. I have failed. I mean, on the surface there is nothing to like. Lumberjack shirts? Timberlands? Stonewashed jeans? No thank you. But somehow, it all combines to make Earl the sexiest loser on the planet. And it's not even him, per se. I've gone back and watched Almost Famous, which features Mr Lee as a member of fictional band Stillwater, with the sort of long haired seventies guitar hero looks that would ordinarily have me drooling. And here's the thing - not a flicker. Not even remotely attractive. But as Earl? I so would.

And so would you, ladies (and pooves). Don't try and deny it.

6. Martin Clunes

Jug-eared, big-faced and a little bit sinister-looking, he may not be the obvious choice. But believe me, he is hot. About three series into Men Behaving Badly I suddenly realised that I didn't fancy Neil Morrisey any more - no, Martin Clunes was The One.

I'd still do him as well. Even taking Doc Martin into consideration. I'm not fickle, me.

7. Jack Black

One word: Sexy.


Don't try and dissuade me on this one - the lady's not for turning. I can't justify it so I'm not even going to try. This short, fat, frog-faced little man is the best kept hot secret in Hollywood.

Watch School of Rock and tell me I'm wrong. I dare you.

8. Rowan Atkinson. But only as Blackadder series II

Now, I know I'm not alone on this one. It's probably the hardest one of all to deconstruct, because anyone who has seen Mr Bean knows that Rowan Atkinson is emphatically not knicker-dampeningly attractive. But put the man in tights, a codpiece and a ruff, add a beard that would have Noel Edmonds weeping in futile envy and bang! Sex on legs. Maybe it's his insouciant, arrogant air. Maybe it's the chemistry between him and Queenie. Maybe it is the tights. Whatever it is, it bloody well works. Woof!

So, there we have it. Eight members of a cast of, well, loads. Except I couldn't be arsed to upload any more pictures. Those not pictured here include Bill Oddie, Terry Scott (but only in Terry and June) Sergeant Cryer off of The Bill, Gene Wilder, David Essex and Barry Manilow. The human mind is a strange and oft-disturbing place, and for the sake of all your sanity, I think we'll leave it there.

Don't have nightmares.

* I may have overstated this slightly.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Send me to my room. Now.

This afternoon at work I did a childish thing.

I went to the drinks machine to get the coffees in. The measure of how interminably dull a day is in this place is the number of times various people leap up with a cry of “I’ll get the drinks in!”. On a really uninspiring day, even I can be seen having a good old gossip with the lovely ladies at the other end of the office under the pretext of hunting and gathering refreshments for parched colleagues. In order for you to understand just how bored I have to be to do something nice for other people, please consider the startling statistic that, in the five years I worked for my last employer, I made the tea precisely twice, and I spat in someone’s the second time because he a) professed his astonishment that I was making tea again only three years after the last time and b) complained that the first one I made him was rubbish.

So anyway. This afternoon. Bored. Bored with wrestling with budget figures that Not So New Boss Anymore completely failed to provide before swanning off on a Caribbean cruise. Bored with not eating any chocolate. So bored that I was even bored with reading blogs. You know that saturation point you reach where you’re thinking I Just Can’t Look at Another Blog Without Screaming and then you’re all ooh! I wonder if anyone has replied to my comment on [insert your blog name here]? And you spend the whole afternoon trying to do some work but failing because by now your mouse hand is genetically predisposed towards firing up IE and browsing your favourites list even as your brain screams no!! I am turning to mush and besides, you’ll get the sack if you don’t stop surfing and do some work!!


So anyway, off I schlepped, tray in hand, to get the drinks in. Pressed my nose enviously against the glass of the vending machine and drooled a bit over all the horrible, overprocessed things in it that taste so good but that I Cannot Eat. Read the months-old notices on the bulletin board. Again. Contemplated setting the fire alarm off (just for fun. You know).

And then I saw it. The last plastic cup for the water cooler. I didn’t need that cup. I was getting hot drinks. I knew full well that if the springy cup-holding thing is empty you can’t have a refreshing cold drink. No. You have to wait for someone to come up from the post room with more cups. Except if you ring the post room and nobody is there, you might have to wait for ages. Or you could go down to the post room yourself. But it doesn’t help, you see. Because if nobody is there, you still can’t get any more cups. For ages. So there some hapless colleague might be, thirsty and bereft of cup. It would be a dreadful thing to take the last cup and put someone in that position, and of course I would never do such a thing.

Instead, I licked my finger, rubbed it round the inside of the cup and put it back.

See you in hell. Wheeee!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

If it's not public, it's not humilitation

Exercise sucks.

Anyone (yes, I mean you, Donna) who has been with me since the beginning of this bloody blog will already be aware that I hate exercise. Spookily, that post was written almost a year to the day ago, and heralded the last time I tried training for the Race for Life. I wouldn't ordinarily put myself through voluntary physical exertion, unless the prize was Robbie Williams, some baby oil and a large coffee cake (I'm not being kinky - I'd eat the cake first), but it's in a good cause and all that. I first ran lurched round the 5km course in 2004, after one of my best friends guilted me into taking part by being diagnosed with breast cancer. She's perfectly alright now, which may explain why, after wholeheartedly committing to doing it again last year, I took part in about three training runs and then cried off on the grounds of having a luxury holiday in Mexico instead (it's all in last June's archives, if you're the sort of person who likes reading about other people's holidays. I'm not, personally, but whatever gets you through the night). See? I've always been the caring, giving Surly Girl you know and love today.

This year, for some reason, I've agreed once more to sweat my way round a park in a red-faced, unlovely heap in the name of Cancer research. I'll be hitting you up for sponsorship at some point - I reckon that if you all pledge 10p per mile I might just raise that tenner this year. It struck me fairly recently that, given that the race is in July and that I've spent the last eighteen months emphatically not giving up smoking, I perhaps ought to, you know, train a little bit. It's at this juncture that I have to offer my apologies both to the Other Half for making him sort of walk-slightly-fast alongside me for thirty-five minutes as I gasped, sweated and generally made a meal out of jogging like an asthmatic walrus with a wonky flipper, and to anyone in my local area who had the misfortune to witness it. That thing? The wobbly thing you could see? That was my belly. Sorry about that.

Still, I made it home and will be going again on Friday morning and (lying through my teeth at this point) Sunday. and then (again with the lying) three times a week until I can run 5km without needing resuscitation at the end of it. I am celebrating my new-found impetus to get fit with a giant can of Stella (you can take the girl out of Essex...) and would kindly ask you all to remind me every so often that I DON'T SMOKE ANY MORE. That way, hopefully, these chest pains won't come back and make me worry about drinking lager.


Tuesday, April 18, 2006

In which I continue to moan petulantly about my own good fortune.

I am suffering from keyboard dyslexia.

This blog is currently being indifferently thrown together via the magic of the Other Half's ThinkPad. Ooh! A ThinkPad! Look - it has freaky Buck Rogers in the Twenty-Fifth Century fingerprint recognition and, um, some red bits and..

....and all the keys are about an eighth of an inch to the left (or the right. Or either) of where they were on my old laptop. This is irritating me, as I am retyping every other word. Literally. "Retyping" just came out as "retyoing". "The" becomes "htw". I'm thinking of giving it all up and relaunching as one of those terribly clever sub-Vic Reeves' Big Night Out blogs where everything is all angular and off-kilter and very, very smug. Think it'll suit me? If nothing else (or "wlwa", or "elwe" as that (or should I say "rgar") just came out) it'll take my mind off the noisy fucking neighbours. Hoovering at this time of night. Bastards. And only yesterday afternoon I had to go out onto the pavement and scare the living daylights out of two teenage girls who shamelessly stole the "Keep off the Grass" sign from outside the house. It doesn't belong to me or anything, and personally I could care less if they get their kinky little Asbo jollies from nicking small rectangular signs from outside other people's houses, but it was worth it for the satisfaction of watching Errant Teenager #1 being totally humiliated as the sign steadfastly refused to be pushed back into the topsoil and instead disintegrated, resisting all efforts to sort of prop one bit against the other. I stood there for a full five minutes, as she went redder and redder and Errant Teenager #2 got more and more uncomfortable and tried not to run away. Don't listen to the kids, people - getting old and curmudgeonly fucking rocks.

Anyway, I must be off. Only, balloons don't paint themselves as the Floating Head of Death, and if I'm going to go to all the trouble of tapping on Mr Thumpy's bedroom window with a long stick at two o'clock tomorrow morning, I need something to accompany the recording of me intoning "Don't keep running up and down the stairs, or Mummy and Daddy will be killed in a car crash..." in a scary, portentous voice.

Fucking neighbours.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Everybody needs good neighbours....

....yet still we end up with randomly irritating ones.

On the day we moved in a strange, pale woman with a wall eye and very bad teeth indeed wandered through our open front door* to "have a look at the kitchen floor". I was a little taken aback, to say the least. Fortunately she is at the other end of the row, and is on "Avoid" status owing to her scary husband (he looks like if Boycey off of Only Fools and Horses was on crack. And was a serial killer), and her ginger son ("ooh, they've got a little girl, Jason". Cue slight increase in the fervency of Jason's mouth-breathing and a mental note on my part to never let Small Person out of my sight if their car is outside the house), and my utter, unfounded conviction that at some point there will be a double-murder-suicide round there and our road will be featured a lot on the evening news.

We have also learned that "town house" is a posh way of saying "terraced" (to be fair, we knew this already), and that, on being asked about the soundproofing quality of the party wall, site managers will lie through their teeth with the fingers of both hands crossed behind their backs and waffle on for ages about modern build quality and technological advances in the study of insulation. This of course means that we spend pretty much every minute between the hours of seven am and midnight listening to the people next door, who number anywhere between four and thirty-seven, thundering up and down all of their stairs like a Weight Watchers class on a group outing to the chippy. The chief culprit is a small boy of around three years of age who has come to be known as Mr Thumpy. His is a very particular style, which owes a lot to the Incessant Thudding school of noisy-neighbourliness. Little bastard. I hope he trips on his fashionably baggy Gap cords and falls the whole three flights, breaking both his thumpy little feet and fracturing his shriek.

That aside, we absolutely love it here. Apart from the weirdos, the loud people, the building site over the road, the parking issues (now resolved. I was even polite), the fucking-over we got from the mortgage company (apparently "twenty-eight days after completion" translates to "whenever we fucking well feel like it" in terms of taking our first payment), the broken boiler which necessitated a three-hour trip through the life and times of the boiler man (more on that another time), the breathtaking speed at which we're haemorrhaging money and the fact that I can't decide where to put the toaster, it's a beautiful, beautiful house and I wouldn't change it for the world. Moving in with the Other Half has been blissfully smooth and me, him and Small Person are already forging a happy, comfortable family life together. As she said this morning, she's lucky to live with someone she loves that isn't her Daddy, but is one of her parents. Brought a tear to my eye, it did. Even the Ex, who brought her home on Saturday and saw the place for the first time, remains rational and cheerful.

Oh dear. It's all a bit too good to be true, isn't it? Never mind - bring it on. Nothing can phase me at the moment. I'm all uncharacteristically cheerful and optimistic. Watch me crash and burn...

* It was only open because we were moving stuff in. Bloody cheek.

** Obviously, as a mother myself I don't mean this. I'd settle for an accident which, although relatively minor, makes them rethink the logic of living in a three-storey house and move somewhere else, leaving me free to vet potential new occupants and scaring away everyone bar middle-aged, childless librarians*** .

*** Who will, knowing my luck, turn out to have sexual proclivities that would make a Conservative MP blush and who will haunt us night after night with the moans and wailing of kinky librarian sex.

Friday, April 07, 2006

One Wedding and a Webmarshal

It's beginning to take over my life, you know.

Not content with blocking half my favourites list on the grounds of being dirty and rude (that's most of you, I'm afraid. Dirty, dirty people), Webmarshal has now decided to randomly and arbitrarily block Blogger, or comments, or neither, or both. So, since I don't have any interweb at home for another week or so, please be aware that normal service may be interrupted, or stop completely. If this happens I won't even be able to comment on anyone else's blog, so please continue to assume that I am being a moody cow and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.

In other news, we are off to a posh wedding tomorrow. We get to go all day and have the free champagne and everything, so think of me at about 5pm UK time tomorrow - I will be the one in the crumpled linen suit, with bare, dirty feet because my new shoes have given me blisters, sobbing gently into a vol-au-vent with mascara halfway down my face because weddings are so beautiful and why won't my divorce come through and isn't it all so romantic and can we get married? Can we? Next week? And then I will become convinced that the Other Half is only comforting me because he doesn't really want to marry me and I will sob harder and then start a fight with a random stranger on the basis that she was flirting with my boyfriend and I will be sent to wait in somebody's car until apologies can be made and I can be driven home, lolling unconscious in the passenger seat with my head wobbling on my neck like a special and when I wake up in the morning I will have feelings of shame and fear and spend the day apologising for things that I have no recollection of but that nonetheless lurk in the shadows of my memory leading to vague unease and increasing self-loathing.....

On second thoughts, I might drive.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Can't you just read quietly?

The problem with playing with children is that it's so boring.

I know this only adds to the Interminable List of Reasons Why I am a Bad Mother, but it really can't be helped. Unless you are below the age of eight, or mental, children's games are dull. Except for Barbie, who can be dressed up like a crack whore and shot in a Fisher Price drive-by, that is, but that one makes Small Person cry so we don't play it any more. Yesterday evening heralded abject pleading from Madam for me to play with her, with an endless stream of suggestions that made me want to sell her to a passing gypsy* in order to get some peace. Hide and seek? Sorry, Mummy has a sore back. Twister? See hide and seek. Lego? Sorry, Mummy is crap at Lego. Aha, cries Small Person triumphantly! Hungry Hippos! You can put it on the footstool, Mummy, and then it won't hurt your back!


So there we were; Small Person quivering with excitement like a fat girl at a buffet, me smiling through gritted teeth and singing songs from the Sound of Music in my head to keep me in my Happy Place. Hungry Hippos, for the fortunate among you who are unfamiliar with it, is the shittest game this side of Put Your Hand In the Blender Until Everything Goes Red. Four plastic hippopopannuses, a squillion little plastic balls and a loud, ratchety noise that makes you want to rip your ears off and set fire to them. A game can last for anything from ten to thirty seconds (it isn't big on strategy), and therefore must be played over and over and over again until one or more participants flays themselves alive by way of a diversion.

Still, it passed the time until Arguing About Whether It's Bedtime Or Not.

* Obviously I would never do this. I love my daughter with every fibre of my being. Besides, I'd get more on eBay.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Miserable Cow

My back hurts.

I am not one of those people who "suffers" with their back. But now, after a week of carrying heavy things, assembling flat-pack furniture through gritted teeth and standing around in pubs* I have turned into one of those people who hobbles stoically about, offering a wan smile and assuring any enquirers that I'll be fine, really, even as they mutter "malingerer" to themselves and skip gaily off in an effort to demonstrate that they are fine. Bastards. My current gait is a cross between Mrs Overall from Acorn Antiques, and Brad Majors at the end of Rocky Horror as he totters about in unaccustomed high heels. Nice. It hurts when I sit down, when I stand up, when I lie down, when I walk, even when I moan about it.

Somebody slap me, please. I'm boring myself.

* What?? We had no telly.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Thoughts on living in a three storey house

Bungalows are underrated.


We came to this conclusion about ten minutes after picking up the keys. That aside, the house is absolutely beautiful. Under the stern guidance of Captain Bligh the Other Half, we have unpacked everything, run the gauntlet of Ikea (twice), built all our flatpack (some of us had to build flatpack through gritted teeth with our sort-of-mother-in-law, but it was fine. Really) and spent an inordinate amount of time in the pub. All in all, a success. Small Person is so delighted with her new bedroom that she has skipped ten years and is currently a reclusive fifteen year-old who consistently refuses to leave her room and goes into a monumental sulk when it is suggested that she might like to come and "spend time as a family". So it's all good.

On the downside, we have no internet at home for another fortnight, so I will be back in slightly abridged form (stop cheering at the back) until such time as I can spend four thousand words ranting about why I hate my new neighbours. Anyway, I'm off to catch up with you all. I wonder if anyone will notice that I'm back?

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