Stop right there! Before we go any further…

GPs baffle me.  Not the terminology they use – I’ve got some books and I know how to Google – but rather the awesome  capacity they have for condescention, superiority and supercilliousness.

I’ve lived with medical students and it was little short of terrifying that these idiots would, in the space of a few very short years, find themselves making life or death judgements regarding a small child or somebody’s helplessly infirm granny.  To a man they were beer-soaked buffoons incapable of operating anything more complex than their belt buckles, in whose blunderingly incapable hands you would no more place your health than you would trust it to a poorly-trained cocker-spaniel wearing oven gloves.

But regardless of this youthful ineptitude, by the time you encounter those crashing incompetents in their own little surgery rooms, they have not only passed some exams and (probably) killed a few folk in Accident and Emergency, but have also morphed into the most patronisingly condescending know-it-alls and developed egos bigger than Staffordshire Hospital’s mortality rate.  During the same period, it transpires their poor opinion of the general public has merely shifted from ‘bloody people coming between me and the student bar’ to ‘bloody people coming between me and the wine bar’.

We do have one deceptively genial little GP in our local practice but his superiority complex is merely disguised behind a jaunty bow tie and some David Dickinson half moons, to lull you into thinking he’s a jovial eccentric, not a spite-ridden megalomaniac with a chip on his shoulder about not being a surgeon who couldn’t care less if you lived or died as long as the prescription he writes for you gets him a good lunch from the drugs rep.  My friend calls him Doctor Loop-de-loop.  And, delightfully, Dr Loop-de-loop has been the gentleman most interested in my contraceptive needs.  Oh joy.

On my first check-up after having my second child, Dr Loop-de-loop drew me into an uncharactaristically (for me) emotional conversation about how I was coping with two kids and even managed to make me cry a little (not exactly an arduous task when confronted with any mother to a newborn).  Having established my fragile state, lack of libido and tendency towards depression, he then prescribed a contraceptive pill different to my old one.  Suspicious as ever of drugs rep influence on the change, I asked whether there were any side effects.

“Nothing out of the ordinary”, was the helpful reply.

A few hours later I had read so many horror stories in so many forums from women bemoaning the effects of this pill on (a) their mental states and (b) their libidos that I deduced it to be an unwise choice for me.  I ignored the prescription and Husband No.1 and I  continued to get off at Haymarket*.

At my next visit to Doctor Loop-de-loop, on an unrelated matter, the subject of contraception reared its ugly head again.  His Groundhog-day obliviousness to previous appointments means he often begins conversations that have been held before and rarely consults patient notes, or else he’d see that I’d spurned his prescription and was still in danger of expanding the gene pool through irresponsible copulation.  So, not checking the notes or remembering about his prescription, he asked afresh what form of contraception I was using.

“Er…condoms”, I lied, hoping to end the discussion.

“Well, there’s a word for people who use condoms you know”, says he.

“Er…parents?”, I guessed.

“Parents!”, he answered delightedly, ignoring my anticipation of his punchline, “Would your husband like a vasectomy?”

I doubt it, thought I, wondering if he’d meant that to sound like an offer.  But before I could form a suitable answer, Doctor Loop-de-loop launched into what I can only describe as the most jaw-dropping discussion I’ve ever had with a member of the medical profession.  And I’ve broken bones in Italy.

“Well, just a word of warning if he does”, he began, ready to earn his nickname.  “If he does, make sure you tell no-one in your family.  NO-ONE, I say!”

I found myself unenthusiastic about where this conversation might be heading; I only came in with an ear infection!  But I couldn’t help myself.  During his pregnant (excuse the pun) pause, my eyebrow raised involuntarily and I let out an inquiring, if slightly strangled, ‘hmm?’  Shit.

“Yes.  Keep his vasectomy between yourselves.  You’re a young, attractive lady.  I’m sure you still have a social life.”

Er…no.

“So, just imagine the scene; you go out one night, perhaps you have a little too much to drink and you meet a flattering young chap and, well, one thing leads to another and you find yourself in the family way.”

Sorry?

“So you and your husband talk this through, decide to raise the child as your own – an admirable decision but there, you see!”

There?  What do I see?!  What’s happening?!

“Your whole family know the child isn’t your husband’s!”  This last sentence was uttered with some triumph.

What?!!

“So if he does have a vasectomy, keep it to yourselves.  That’s my advice.”

“Right. Hang on”, say I, “I stepped in here with a sore ear and in the space of ten minutes you’ve given my husband the snip, got me pissed in the local whereupon I’ve picked up some random bloke, shagged him, got myself up the duff, agreed with my hapless and seedless husband to keep the child and raise it as our own, whereupon the entire family shun us because they know it’s a bastard.  And all because of that Vasectomy Party we just had to throw.  Well, I don’t think that’s on, Doctor Loop-de-loop, in fact, I’m quite sure  this kind of advice is rather frowned upon by the BMA.”

Of course, what I actually said was, “Um…well, I thought perhaps…the coil…?”

And so I left, with a pamphlet, and a niggling sense of undeserved shame.

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*For those of you unfamiliar with the phrase; ‘Getting off at Haymarket’ is a euphemism for the withdrawal method of contraception, Haymarket being the penultimate station for many trains into Edinburgh which then terminate at Waverley.

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…

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* 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.

The Mumpreneur Party Circuit

During my unpleasantly acerbic years of teenagedom, I recall taking the mick quite unrelentingly out of my mother upon hearing that she used to attend Tupperware parties. Such bourgeoisie mundanity sounded like a fate worse than death; nothing so tedious awaited me in my future exciting, go-getting career-girl lifestyle.

Hmph.

It’s two months since I swapped career-dom for housewifery and I’ve already attended a Pampered Chef party, a Body Shop party and a Silver Experience party.  More loom on the horizon.  And these signify an upturn in my social life of the past five years.  Back in headier times I could spend hundreds of pounds in a single weekend – all on transient produce that lasted at best forty-eight hours – and I didn’t stagger home with kitchenware, or extra make-up and jewelery (at least not intentionally).  Nowadays, I spend a quarter of that amount on one of these ‘Mumpreneur’ parties, imbibe no more than a bottle of wine and wake up to a useful or luxurious souvenir and no hangover.

Great stuff.

Er…NOOOOOO!  Terrifying! Until lately, I’d managed to live through moving to the suburbs, marriage, labour x 2, (these are not necessarily in chronological order), rearing two children without major incident/hospitalisation/nervous breakdown (well, none that couldn’t be treated with something wet, red and served at room temperature) and not one of the aforementioned events caused so much as a ripple in the mirror of illusion that was busy reflecting my inner self back to me as a shiny twenty-four year old capable of dancing non-stop for twelve hours in a body-con dress. Obviously I don’t wear lycra and/or spandex anymore (except perhaps saggy leggings) but that didn’t stop me deluding myself that I could if the whim took me.  I no longer dance much either, Boogie Beebies notwithstanding, but boy, that inner self assumed I could still shimmy with the best of the Bright Young Things should the occasion arise.

The bell has finally tolled, though, and today the procurement of a stoneware baker, Summer Shimmer bronzer and Mexican silver earrings attest to my middle-aged motherhood more effectively than a pair of sensible shoes and a Ronnie.  I’m on the Mumpreneur party circuit and it’s only one step away from mum drinking coffee round the kitchen table in her headscarf, spunking the housekeeping on Betterware.  I can no longer hide from the fact that I have, in fact, Grown Up.

Hmph again.

The next Mumpreneur party invitation I receive is going to be rolled up with something illegal and smoked…