Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Breaking the rules

After giving Nobby such a hard time for breaking the rules of ‘What Is Acceptable To Say To Your Wife (if you want to keep the family jewels intact)’, I have now shamefully broken a rule myself. And this set was written down so there’s no excuse.

In fact, it seems we are all at it at the moment. Pickle has also joined in the rule breaking fun, although I am struggling to admonish him because I am not sure how to explain to a six-year-old the reasons why you can’t French-kiss your Mummy. I told him I’ll remind him about it when he’s 16 but he really didn’t get it, as he squirmed about on my lap and tried to snog my face off while I attempted to chuck him off. I only invited him to give me a hug and he tried to slip me the tongue, what is he like?

But I know he for one approves of my own contravention, though. Because what I did was cut his hair myself. Now this was quite high on my list of ‘Things I Will And Won’t Do To My Children’ which I compiled shortly before Poppet was born. Somehow I got it into my head that there were things I remember from my childhood which I deemed unsuitable to do with my own offspring. Just shows what I know though, doesn’t it? I mean, just how fast does hair grow? Pickle needs a trim about every 6 weeks and while we had a brilliant kids salon in France with comfy chairs, pretty hairdressers and best of all, individual television screens which guaranteed he’d sit still and not risk losing his ears to the scissors, I have not yet found an equivalent here in Budapest. I don’t even know how to say ‘haircut’ let alone ‘watch out he’s a wriggler’.

However, after 2 months without a cut the poor lamb resembled a choirboy with a bowl-cut and drastic action was required. And besides, he asked me to do it after catching sight of himself in the bathroom mirror one night and wailing ‘I look like a girl!’ I didn’t comply straight away though and this is where Poppet jumped on the band wagon and broke the rules – by going at his fringe with her craft scissors. You know when the kids go all quiet upstairs and you’re not sure whether to panic or send up a silent thank you and put the kettle on? Well I discovered them a little bit too late to save any more than a centimetre of his fringe but at least I had a place to start for the rest. So I confess, dear reader, I attacked him with the electric trimmers again (remembering to put the guard on this time so I didn’t shear him like a sheep) while he sat on a high stool watching Thomas The Tank Engine. It wasn’t too bad a job in the end, I am happy to say, and his ears are now visible once more. Although Nobby did have to send him back to get rid of the rats tail down his back that the towel had been covering.

Well nobody’s perfect. That’s my only excuse and I’m sticking to it.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008


Nobby’s missus: a woman barely awake. But we can revive her, we have the technology…

Yeah, well, I’m not sure we do. Two intravenous coffees and a large bowl of sugary cereal was still not enough to get my eyes sufficiently open to squeeze my contact lenses into them before the school run this morning. Sure we may be able to fuse honey and nuts to dried and flattened pieces of corn but today I needed something more. Luckily nature had the answer, although not in the form I expected. I tried the lavender oil and the half hour yomp round the park with the dog but I was still pretty much a zombie as I trailed back to the car. What did it was the pervading smell of dog-poo throughout the vehicle from the turd I somehow stepped in on the way. I doubt it will catch on but it kept me unavoidably alert the whole way home trying not to breathe through my nose.

So can you tell that Nobby is still away then? My late nights are a combination of taking advantage of having the TV clicker all to myself, being able to surf the web without being chastised for keeping him awake with the tippy-tapping, and the irrational conviction that every sound the house makes after 11pm is a knife wielding murderer sneaking through the kitchen window for a wee stab-athon. Couple that with an early morning visit from Poppet who had had a nightmare about one of her classmates and voila! Zombie Central. The only good thing was that Poppet could just climb in Nobby’s side of the bed instead of me having to get up and take her back to hers, but then I had to suffer the relentless ‘is it time to get up yet?’ ‘how many minutes till we have to get up, Mummy?’ interrogation until she fell back to sleep.

Anyway, here I am back in front of the computer having stopped myself from parking it on the couch by deciding to launder all the loose covers. I may have created another job for myself there because it wasn’t until one load was in and I was stripping off the next batch of cushions that I saw the label saying ‘dry clean only’. Since when did ‘washable covers’ mean dry cleaning them? Does dry cleaning actually count as washing? I can’t wait to see how this one turns out. But after 8 years without a wash other than the occasional ‘spot cleaning’ I think any result will be better than their current look. I didn’t really notice it all that much until we were getting ready for company on Sunday. It’s the first time any new friends had been round to the house and suddenly my couch just seemed really scruffy to me. (Not sure what kind of signals that admission must send to any family members reading this, it never bothered me when you’ve been round!) Oh, incidentally, I have a new strategy for dealing with weekends with small children without the aid of a husband. You arrange a tea party for a bunch of little friends late on the Sunday afternoon. The kids are thus angels all weekend in anticipation as they know you might cancel it if they mess about! Of course you have to put up with the constant ‘are they coming yet?’ from the moment they wake up on Sunday morning but it’s a small price to pay for them actually helping with the shopping, bringing things in from the car, tidying their rooms and spending a blissful hour in the kitchen together making biscuits. Why on earth didn’t I think of this before? And by rights you gain every excuse NOT to clean all weekend because it’ll be a wreck by the time 8 additional skunks have been through there. But of course if it’s the first time some people have been there you may see your furniture in a whole new light. I think I feel a shopping trip coming on…

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Less bored...

Nobby made a poor start to the day by uttering one of the Forbidden Phrases from The List. You ladies will know what I mean; that unwritten, unspoken (and unfinished) list of Things One Should Never Say To Ones Wife/Girlfriend If One Wants To Retain Sexual Privileges. Of course, being male, he probably doesn’t actually know what he’s done or how much trouble he is in for violating The Rules, unless he’s decided that his work is done towards the survival of the species and he can now manage without his scrotum and its contents; standard punishment being to have these ripped off.

By rights, he should have a vague inkling of what I’m talking about, having slipped up in the past with such classics as

‘What have you been doing all day?’

‘That’s an interesting top/skirt/suit’, and

‘Oh, you’ve put your tracksuit trousers on; are you feeling fat?’

Today’s gem was ‘I’m amazed you haven’t lost a wing mirror yet’ while we were driving down the narrow track to exit our residential area. I took a deep calming breathe, after all, it is a typical scenario: instead of concentrating on my achievements – successfully swerving round a pot hole resembling the Grand Canyon and thus saving Sharan’s suspension from further injury – he points out my shortcomings i.e. narrowly avoiding a concrete lamp-post which happens to be directly opposite said chasm. I have to say, if my driving is so scary he can jolly well walk to the tram stop in future.

Still, it alleviates the boredom, dunnit? I have to say I have had some success finding other outlets than chocolate biscuits and DVDs. Tiggy is extremely pleased to be getting extra walks since I started taking her along the wooded ridge nearby where we never bump into anyone else so I have no guilt wearing my ipod while we walk. The only drawback being when I scare her by spontaneously bursting into song. I just can’t help it – music is for singing along to and I can’t be expected to remember that any unfortunate soul overhearing my performance can’t hear the music or backing vocals that I can. I completely forget that I probably don’t sound like Betty Boo outside of my own head, it’s probably more like Scooby Doo.

But anyway, I inadvertently put a stop to my performances this afternoon whilst following Roses example and taking my energy out on the garden. I was going great guns with the secateurs and the front steps were looking a lot nicer without all the ivy growing over them and the job was progressing even better accompanied by a bit of Fleetwood Mac (showing my age again, ahem). Until it all suddenly went quiet in my headphones. No, not premature deafness… I’d snipped through the wire.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008


I am finally admitting to it; I’m bored. I know I should be having the time of my life exploring my new environment and indeed I have found Tescos very diverting, but there is only so much excitement I can muster over being able to buy Branston Pickle and chocolate Hobnobs for the first time in four years and I think the novelty is already wearing thin. Despite my dubious title of ‘Housewife’ I do not actually feel any marital obligation to these four walls, I never promised to dust, polish and vacuum before any kind of congregation, and as my Dutch friend pointed out, is this really why I spent four years at uni getting a degree? I had high hopes for the school committee meeting yesterday but to be honest it was a slight let-down. It seems there is already a bit of a clique in place of people who helped in previous years and all I am required to do is ‘raise awareness and encourage other parents to contribute stuff to the decorations, food and activities.’ Yawn. I needn’t have even taken my clip-board.

So funnily enough I added another few quid to the phone bill afterwards with a long call to Rose. And she’s bored too. To her credit she is at least taking some of her energy out on the garden, to the point where she has very few trees left and shrubs pruned to within an inch of their lives. But like me she is also finding herself on the sofa more often than not with an episode of Friends, a coffee and a packet of something high-fat, high-carb and smothered in chocolate. Oh dear. She even admitted agreeing to an outing that I know she would never normally have considered in her right mind, which had me reaching for the wet kipper. Although I’m not sure which one of us to slap first, I am hardly in a position to criticise. I just agreed to stay in to receive the broadband internet installers tomorrow, any time between 9h30 and 15h30. That’s pretty sad, unless I am going to use my 5 hour confinement to sparkle the house up, do all the ironing, trim the hedges and lawn and generally make Anthea proud. I seriously doubt it. If Anthea turns up she’ll just have to park it on the crumb-covered sofa, help herself to a Hobnob straight from the cellophane and keep quiet during Ally McBeal.

Pickle is also bored. It’s his new favourite phrase and he uses it several times a day, especially at bedtime. At which point I say, ‘Good! You shouldn’t have a problem going to sleep then!’ But I happen to know he’s just doing that parrot thing that children do and repeating something he’s heard someone else say – I overheard him playing with Nemo’s friend Dory the fish on the Nintendo the other day. It’s one of those pointless yet strangely kid-enthralling games where you have to baby-sit the character and come up with stuff for it to do. Guess what Dory’s favourite phrase is when she’s not getting enough stimulation? ‘I’m bored.’ Unfortunately Pickle now substitutes it for ‘I’m hungry’, ‘I’m thirsty’ or ‘I’m tired’ as well so I have to guess what he really means. Maybe he knows I’m bored and he’s trying to stimulate me?! Spooky.

By the way, if you want proof at how bored and boring I am, in case this ramble hasn’t been enough, speak to my sister. The last conversation we had ended up discussing the finer points of our respective new vacuum cleaners. True, it was interesting to discover we have independently selected the same model of Dyson despite living thousands of miles apart, but I never foresaw us both getting excited over how the ‘click’ it makes when you’re extending the tool arm sounds like you’re cocking a rifle. Having said that I think the idea of taking a gun to the housework is pretty appealing whatever mood I’m in. Bam! Bam! Bam! Goodbye washing up, so long dusting, ‘asta la vista ironing.