Reasons to be Cheerful. One, Two, er…

I am on two missions.  Buff up, and cheer up.  I fervently hope the latter will come as a natural by product of the former, as acheiving just one of these threatens to be an Herculean effort.  I’m not saying I’m a lardy-arsed inertia-prone misery-guts.  However, I probably enjoy a white bread-and-butter Pringle sandwich more frequently than the next man and am definitely inclined towards over-indulgence on the red wine front and the occasional crabbit moment.  I still enjoy a rare puff of a Silk Cut and frequent the gym on a less regular basis than when I was, say, 21.

In other words, I’m thin but definitely unfit and a bit grumpy.  I noticed my poor health recently when labouring up the ludicrous hill to my parent’s house.  Mum was beaming joyfully and chatting away with zero ill effects from the 2-in-1 gradient hike, whilst I – a full thirty-hummannahummanna years younger, had a face like a wet beef tomato and sounded like a potential candidate for The Smoking Family of Chewin’ the Fat fame.  Time, thought I, to dig out the gutties.

The urge to ‘cheer up’ stemmed directly from the painful sting I felt on hearing possibly the most hurtful comment ever directed my way.  Obviously, the exact phrase has been trumped on many prior occasions; during various nights out, flat-mate squabbles, sibling disputes, bank teller run-ins and so on and so forth.  But this came from my beloved Boy and thus cut right to the marrow…

Having whipped up one of my many culinary delights and staggered, exhausted, through from the kitchen clutching the stodgy offering with a tight-lipped smile and a sweaty glow, I placed the dishes at each setting and went to plonk my aforementioned not-too-lardy arse down next to Boy.

“I don’t want to sit next to a Tired Old Mother”, Boy says.


Inordinately upset by this comment, I picked up my plate (I’m not bloody leaving dinner after all that effort) and ate  in the kitchen.  Henceforth, I vowed, I must be a youthful, rosy-cheeked and bubbly mum.  I will wave at everyone we pass in the street with whom we have had even the most fleeting of prior contact; I will sing songs as I cook in the kitchen, not swear like a navvy on crystal meth; I will hug my children at each and every opportunity, tickle them till they pee their pants and store vast reservoires of patience in my echoing brain.  For knowledge is an impediment to cheeriness and my memory banks of Radio 4-acquired facts on uses of a dead horse (seriously), ISA management and what Nick Clegg eats for breakfast (fags, wasn’t it?) shall be wiped.   The resultant cavernous space can then be filled by the names of every child in Boy’s year at school, their mothers’ names, their fathers’ names and – where relevant – their siblings’ names, plus what those children  want for their  birthdays.  Also included in my new, Good Mum Factoids will be the requisite arithmetic for correctly calculating lunch money, the birthdays of Husband No. 1’s direct family and  their offspring, and where I put the ruddy passports.

Or to put it another way, this Autumn I will be mostly attempting to get better at breathing, and at remembering mum-ish things.  Boy will no longer refer to me as Tired Old Mother but will chirp happily about his ‘cool mum’ from his position at the front – not rear – of the morning class line-up.  He will sport shiny shoes that fit, a toothpaste-free jumper and maybe, yes maybe, carry a  packed lunch in his crumb-free schoolbag.

Failing all that, I’ll be hitting the running machine at the gym sporadically until Christmas looms close enough to become a legitemate excuse for all non-festivity-related movement to cease, and I will double my dinner-time Merlot intake to create the illusion of joyful ebullience.

And I’ll still know at least four uses for a dead horse.


Could Do Better

So tonight was ‘Meet the Teacher’ night (WITH WINE!) at the primary school (the Boy started this August).  As my son’s nursery teacher is a hapless creature wrenched from her 20+ years as head of the nursery to be dumped into the main school to juggle – in this case – thirty Primary 1 children, I’ve already Meeted her when B attended nursery.  In fact we once had quite an interesting supermarket aisle conversation prior to her receiving the news about her move from nursery to primary 1, during which she told me how much that would p*ss her off (I paraphrase).  I am therefore aware of how reluctant a primary teacher she is and have decided she’s bitter about it.

My principal goal tonight, after snatching desperately at a glass of wine (council-provided alcohol doesn’t count towards Before Thursday Drinking stats), was to find B’s homework during the classroom tour (cue Mission Impossible theme).  It’s the second piece of homework he’s ever been given and he’s lost it.

“I put it by my bag and then it was gone”.

“Were you perhaps supposed to put it into your bag?” (See how I’m wise to the nuances of 4 year old boy chat?)

“Yes, but that was boring and I wanted to be quick.  Then I lost it and I didn’t tell Mrs ____ because I thought she’d be angry.”

“Well, not as angry as she’ll be tomorrow when you go in and tell her you not only haven’t done your homework, but you’ve lost it.”

“Aren’t you going to Meet the Teacher tonight, mummy?”  (Did I tell him that?  I now strongly suspect he heard me swearing about it to Husband No.1 in the kitchen).


“Well good. You can tell her and get my homework.”

And the sad thing is, I did.  And I remained pathetically mute when Mrs___ dropped casually into the conversation the comment, “Yes, B and I regularly have words”, in front of all the other parents…!  I became very aware that none of them had wine glasses in their hands.  But what about?!  What’s he done?!  He never told me you’d had words!  He said he thought you’d get angry but you always look angry!  I thought ___ was the naughty boy!!  Everyone says so!

In truth I said nothing. I slid sheepishly to the back of the circle and wandered off to find his gym bag which was missing from his cubby hole.  Apparently it didn’t have a name tag on it.  Found it, and ha!  It does so have a tag on it.  Didn’t bother pointing that out but crept out of the side door and home with this small triumph nestling warmly in my gut.  Or maybe that was the cheap wine.

Oh god, did I leave my wine glass on B’s table?

Japanese Flag Week Cometh

What a bloody week.  It’s been spent in a PMT-induced state of suppressed fury, with all the inherent side-effects and add-on symptoms; perhaps we can call these ‘plug-ins’ (ho ho ho).  This week I’ve had one of those particularly pronounced episodes that leaves you feeling like a total lunatic. So, as we all have different ‘plug-ins’ that come with PMT, I’ve decided for therapeutic reasons and for the benefit of anyone lucky enough not to be unfamiliar with the experience (men), to list a few of mine. Enjoy.

BOLSHINESS:  My friends and family may question whether this isn’t a permanent state but while I’m always prone to moments of bolshiness, at these times it’s more like a constant buzz beneath the temples.  Similar to those folk who experience the ‘hum‘.  A bit like Dante’s varying circles of Hell, bolshiness is the first level you reach before encountering the Snarling Bitch (see below), and tends to manifest itself in a fairly calculated and lucid nastiness.  Take the thirty-something twat riding a bike on the pavement who had the cheek to growl at my son after nearly knocking him off his scooter.  Had that encounter occurred in the past week, he wouldn’t have got a lame, mumsy telling off; he’d have got a biro through his spokes.  Let’s see you flip me the bird from a crumpled heap on the pavement, you ignorant toe rag*.

SNARLING BITCH:  She steps in when you breach the veneer of bolshiness through what I deem to be exceptional ineptitude or rudeness.  If you hesitate a fraction too long before answering what I perceive to be an urgent question, or ask me to find something that’s lying in plain view on the mantelpiece, or fail to wave your thanks from the dizzying heights of your Chelsea Tractor driver’s seat when I let you pass despite it being my right of way; all of the above will provoke the Snarling Bitch and you can bet the fury unleashed will be far in away out of proportion to the misdemeanour in question.  Poor Husband No.1 got broad-sided by her today when he didn’t respond effectively to a mild kitchen emergency (of my making).  Having put a pile of side plates on the electric cooker and turned on the wrong ring so they cooked to burny degrees celcius, I then confidently picked them up to suffer second degree burns as the bottom plate seared into my skin then exploded in shards all over the kitchen.  Standing with my red mitt sizzling beneath the kitchen tap and my free arm waving dictatorially at H no.1, I barked cleaning-up orders at him like a wounded Sergeant Major.  He battled bravely with the painful inertia of a blinding hangover but was overcome by the desperation of the situation, till he was left staring miserably at shards of red hot stoneware strewn around his feet, a melted Tesco bag clutched in his hand.  This was enough to let loose the Snarling Bitch, who evicted him from the kitchen with a “Pah!” and some other language no husband should hear from their wife, two labours or not.

HASTE:  As in the above scenario, there will be an expectation that tasks will be undertaken quickly. In my case everything, including speech, is performed in haste.  Not with speed, which could suggest efficiency.

HOUSEHOLD INCIDENTS:  E.g. the plates and the burns.  I also have shins that suggest I’ve spent the week shutting my legs repeatedly in the car door and no idea as to the cause of these florid bruises.  The range of ‘incidents’ is pretty varied too, going all the way down from near-Accident and Emergency experiences to finding four litres of milk on the bathroom shelf this morning.

DRINK:  Screw ice cream. What’s that going to do except make me even more bloated than I feel already?  What I need, as soon as PMT sets in, is a vat of red wine I can swim laps in.  The demon Drink sat on my shoulder this past week, dribbling bilious temptation into my ears each evening till I wound up sucking frantically on the neck of a wine bottle.  Knackered Mother is kind enough to provide eloquent recommendations for a good tipple but I’m afraid this past week the deciding factor has been bottle proximity. Come to think of it, perhaps the ensuing inebriation is linked to all the mysterious lower leg bruising…

So, chaps.  If you’re new to the whole PMT trip and your partner is displaying the above symptoms concurrently, you can perhaps breathe a sigh of relief in the knowledge that it will all soon pass. Alternatively, she may actually be a murderous sociopath with a drink problem, in which case I humbly suggest you get the fuck out of Dodge…


* In a happy epilogue, I saw the same cycling arsehole walking along the pavement towards me this week, sporting a bandaged wrist.  I do like to think he fell off his bike.