Friday, 28 October 2011

The adventures of Clem and Aspers - The train

Sometimes through work you meet someone who is right up your street.  Meeting Jo was exactly like that, we clicked straight away, and have been friends now for over a year.

Jo has recently moved to Newcastle to do her M.A so we haven't seen each other for a couple of months.  We talk on the phone most nights however it's not the same, so we planned a day trip to Edinburgh. Its especially special because the date for said trip is 3 days before my birthday.

So today is the day, logistically we've planned this with military precision and gone over the plans with a fine toothed comb.

THE OVER PLANNED PLANS
  • Jools to make a selection of 'luxury sandwiches' containing 'luxurious fillings' and made with 'high class' bread/buns.
  • Jo to provide other 'buffet items' namely 2 scotch eggs (full size, party/fun/mini scotch eggs will not be tolerated). Other 'buffet items' are at the discretion of Jo.
  • Jools to join the 10.00am train to Edinburgh at Darlington Station
  • Jo to join same train only at 10.35am at Newcastle station
  • Neither party to miss said train
  • Both Jools and Jo to provide a selection of bottled real ale, for journey/day out.
  • Jools to provide a small discreet bottle opener
  • All items should be well packed for easy transportation around Edinburgh
  • Jools and Jo to refer to each other as a)Jools and Jo b)Ju Ju and Jo Jo and c) Aspers and Clem throughout the day.
As you'll no doubt agree there is nothing in the above plans that would cause anyone too many problems......

So at 9.57am Phil pushes me out of a moving car in front of the station and knowing I only have 3 minutes to get to the platform I attempt a weird run/skip through the station weighed down by my handbag, the picnic bag (luxury bread is very heavy) and trailing my mac along the filthy floor. Amazingly I make it thru the complicated barrier onto the platform just as the train is pulling in.

I know I have to be in carriage C so instead of getting on at the right carriage I panic and get on at coach H.  This is particularly stupid for two reasons:
  1. It is clearly much easier to walk down a train platform that to walk through 9 carriages of a busy train.
  2. Walking through 9 carriages with a satchel, a huge bag, full of enough sandwiches to feed coaches H-C, and a mac which inexplicably keeps wrapping itself round the arms of the seats and dragging me back is not only painful to me but to the 71 unsuspecting passengers who I essentially hit over the head with a bag full of cooked meat and bread.
I make it to coach E (sorry, my apologies, dreadfully sorry, oh your poor head, duck! etc.....) only to be met with a sealed metal door.  The train is now moving and I have no idea how to get through to make it to coach C.

I stay very calm and speak to the man who is stocking up his refreshment trolley, 'Good morning my dear fellow, I can see that you are pre-occupied stocking up your trolley with value for money snacks and beverages, please can you advise how one gets through the sealed metal door to allow one to reach Carriage C, oh and please can I purchase one of your four finger kitkats for the bargain price of £2.25'

I'm lying. I basically scream at the poor man.  'I'm in coach E. I need to be in coach C. It's through that sealed door.  Is this a train or the sodding Crystal Maze.  Get that door open now, I'm meeting my arsing friend at Newcastle on coach C'

He says 'You can't go through there, you'll have to 'dismount' (when did anyone last use that word) at Newcastle and enter the other half of the train. 

I take a heavy multigrain bap, (filled with finest yorkshire ham and pease pudding) out of my bag and club him repeatedly over the head until he is dead. I then steal all his kitcats and cans of beer and take a seat in the nearest carriage.

Not really. I just sit down and text Jo:

'Am on train however I have an issue. The seats are in coach C, tried to walk thru from coach H and I can't! Coach C is on a totally different train, attached to this one but still different....I have been advised to get off at N'castle and remount same, yet different, train'

Jo replies:

'HAHAHA REMOUNT THE TRAIN!!!. Look for me then, I have a suitcase sized bag with a photo of carrots on the front. I am also wearing tartan'

I assume Jo is winding me up. UNTIL I SEE HER ON NEWCASTLE STATION.  I know its Jo, why wouldn't I, however to the unknowing general public she looks like a hungry, scottish terrorist. She is indeed carrying an enormous bag of food, with a photo of carrots on the front and she's wearing a tartan scarf pulled up around her face.  Between her knitted beret and the scarf, only her eyes are visible.  On a busy platform she is sat alone in the middle of bench. Quite frankly I'm not surprised.

Instead of me getting off she gets on and we spend a couple of minutes cuddling and looking inside of each others bags.  We must look confused as a man with a fleece and a badge approaches us. 

We explain that we can't get to the other train and laughingly say 'can't we just sit in first class'  HE DOESN'T SAY NO!  What he does say, pointing down the train is 'Ask her, she's in charge'

At this point a woman with a neat haircut and even neater moustache appears.  'Can we sit in first class' we stutter under scrutiny from her monocled eye, 'We haven't time to move to the other part of the train'.  For a mad moment we both think she's going to agree.....then she pulls herself up to her full 4ft9 and barks,

'You've got 3 minutes, now MOVE.......'

So move we do.  Clearly the alternative is to face a firing squad.  When we finally arrive at Coach C, we find that something horrific has happened!  We're in the quiet coach!

REASONS WHY BEING IN THE QUIET COACH IS A BAD IDEA
  1. We'll have to talk in our inside voices. Based on the fact that neither of us actually have inside voices, this is likely to end in tears (loud, noisy, wracking tears)
  2. We have with us the worlds largest picnic which is wrapped in tin foil, which is going to be noisy to open
  3. When I laugh I do a sort of 'onk onk onk' kind of sound. Jo does more of a grunting noise. If we're laughing at the same time we going to sound like some kind of horific goose/pig hybrid
  4. It seems 'quiet coach' ettiquette to look round and fall into a revered silent when anyone enters as sits down.  As I am not a sodding owl I find it hard to do the polite head spin.
So we start to lay out the picnic on the pull down trays, its not ideal, it fact its disasterous. Should this train crash we're more likely to be suffocated by falling food than the actual crash.

THE FOOD ON THE PULL DOWN TRAYS
  • Sensations 'firey chipotle' middle class crisps
  • Edmame beans/peas with separate compartment of rock salt (useful in a heavy frost)
  • Pepperdew peppers stuffed with goats cheese and steeped in oil (gets everywhere, could swim the channel after eating one)
  • Full sized scotch eggs (eat cold or deep fry for 10 minutes, 10 bloody minutes,  you could deep fry an entire human in that time)
  • Houmous
  • Couchillo mini 'borrower' sized olives, marinaded in garlic and crack
  • Sushi with too much wasabi and not enough soy (oddly enough I had a single chopstick in my bag, so wasabi/soy mixing was possible)
  • Cured meats (chorizo, salami, serrano ham) N.B entertaining when Jo spent 5 mins chewing a piece of serrano ham which turned out to be a piece of plastic laid in the bottom of the tray.
  • Tasteless Mango (tasteless for the simple reason it was actually melon)
  • Grapes
I can almost hear you wondering what you would wash such a decadent feast down with. I'll be honest I'm starting to wonder the same until Jo reachs into her bag and brings out the most beautiful thing I've ever seen.....A BOTTLE OF PORT.  Now granted its only a small bottle of port but its nonetheless a glorious sight.

So there we are, speeding up the northumberland coastline, eating our buffet and sipping on a quality port from paper cups.  This, dear reader, is well and truly, the life.

At some point on the journey something strange happens to Jo, she regresses into a child and starts asking none stop questions. I am on this day out to get away from my children with their endless questions. Why is she doing this to me?

A SELECTION OF JO'S QUESTIONS
  • Why are those olives so small, were they picked really early?
  • Where are we?
  • What does 'chipotle' mean?
  • Whats that mini mountain thing in the sea
  • Why does the port bottle make that sound when you open it.
While I am considering the answers she starts on a new vein.  She starts inexplicably treating me like a secretary.  Should anything be of interest, she demands  'text that to me'.  I do that for so long, then I take the back off my phone, sharpen the edge and slit her throat with it.

The rest of the journey is fairly quiet..............


NEXT:  Edinburgh: the sights, the sounds and a pigeon eating a crisp.........

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Our day out without the children Part 1 - the journey

Saturday mornings in our house are wonderful. I pop on my apron and whip up a full english breakfast, Phil pulls on his hand knitted jumper and walks the dog into the village to collect the papers and the boys sit down (after refusing TV or xbox time) with a glass of milk and play a board game or do a jigsaw. Once Phil's back with the papers, and we've eaten our breakfast we sit down and plan a full day of wholesome family fun.

Then I wake up.

(Incidentally I wake up because a can of deodorant has just bounced off my forehead, apparently thrown by Joe because Syd has woken him up by stealing his duvet and hitting him over the head with a football boot and has chosen to hide next to my side of the bed).

Phil leaps out of bed and grabs them both forcing them back into their respective bedrooms. I find him in the garage five minutes later with a pile of wood, that he apparently plans to use to barricade the boys into their bedrooms for the following week to teach them a lesson. I'm concerned about the manic glint in his eye so I give him the dog and tell him to go for a walk and calm down.

After I've hidden all the power tools/hammers/nails/wood/gaffer tape I go back indoors and find that peace seems to have been restored. The boys have made their own traditional breakfasts. Most parents would be concerned about their choices. Not me, I don't bat an eyelid.

THINGS THE BOYS OFTEN EAT FOR BREAKFAST

Pot noodle
Chicago town pepperoni pizza
Fish fingers
Tomato sauce sandwiches
Cup a soup
Cheese on toast
Nan bread
Tinned spaghetti
Super noodles
Ice pops

By the time Phil returns from his walk, Joe has left to go to the Newcastle match so things are fairly peaceful and Phil suggests that we have an afternoon out. We decide that in the name of economy we will go somewhere on the train (Phil has worked for the railway since pre-privatisation so we get free train travel) and debate whether or not Newcastle is a good idea.  We remember that Newcastle are playing at home so we decide to go to York.

Breaking the news to Syd doesn't go well. He cries, he screams, he begs, he pleads. Apparently going to York on the train would signal the end of his life as we know it. (thankfully he doesn't go blind however who knows if its around the corner)

 We try coaxing him (you can have an ice cream), we try threatening (goodness knows what Santa would think), we try the divide and rule tactic (I'd expect this behaviour from Joe, but not you, you're the clever one), and we're about to go for the direct approach (Shut up whining you're coming) when the phone rings.

Its my Dad. I attempt a conversation however Syd has reached a level of begging that wouldn't seem out of place in a Dickensian work house, so I briefly explain that I can't speak right now, why I can't speak right now and say I'll call back.

Within minutes my Dad calls back. At this point you're going to quickly realise how amazing my parents are.  They offer to have Syd for the day, drive us to the station, tell us to have some lunch and drinks and give us some money for cocktails and all because we work hard and we deserve time alone together.

WHY MY PARENTS ARE AMAZING

On a daily basis they: Give Syd his breakfast, take him to school, pop to the supermarket for anything we need, pick Syd up from school, bring him to our house, do any ironing that's in the ironing basket(my mam), do any jobs that need doing around the house/in the garden (my dad), hang out our washing, hoover, make the boys snacks......

The list is endless. I know that they read my blog and they're going to be embarrassed reading this about themselves, but they really deserve that praise. They are wonderful.

So half an hour later, we're at the station waiting to get on the train to York. Its strange at first, we look at each other and wonder what to say.  We're both used to shouting at children and we have no children to shout at. Should we shout at each other, just so we're back in our comfort zone. Phil stands up and walks towards the platform.  I run after him, smack his bottom and threaten to remove his TV privileges for a week (Its dangerous Philip, this is no place to run around!)

Anyway the train comes and we get on. The train is packed however we find seats immediately, which seems strange.  After the train has set off we realise why those seats are empty. They are directly opposite the toilet.  Apparently it seems this train is full of people who, the previous night, have eaten a lot of curry and drank a lot of cheap lager. I'd imagine the toilets in a prisoner of war camp were more hygienic. Aggie and Kim would have a sodding field day.

There is a continual queue for the toilet, and its starting to smell like an incontinent buffalo has been let loose in there.  To add insult to injury, no one closes the door. Meaning Phil has to keep reaching over and slamming it shut.  This causes all the pensioners in the carriage to jump and look around if a gun shot has just gone off. Phil spends the entire journey slamming the door and apologising to people.  I spend the entire journey with my face inside my top breathing in my perfume and wondering how acceptable it would be to vomit onto the floor between my feet (It couldn't possibly make the carriage smell any worse)

I beg to move however Phil refuses. 'We're almost in York' he keeps insisting. He's been insisting this since we pulled out of Darlington Station.

Finally we pull into York station. The combined weight of the train has dropped by 16 stone as in 40 minutes, approximately 139 passengers have had a poo in the toilet right next to us. We stand up and make our way to the doors. I forget that I have no children with me and loudly say 'Which side are we going to get out on....lets all guess'.  Actually quite a lot of people get excited by this and start to guess. So I organise them to stand by the side they chose.  Once it pulls in, the winners all cheer and the losers all boo.  Phil is pretending he doesn't know me and I'm considering a career as a Sunday School teacher.

We've just been let loose in York, with no kids and beer money................

Oh Lord.

Monday, 17 October 2011

A dignified return to work

I think I've already mentioned on a previous blog that I have been off work, unwell for 12 days. Today is the day I am due to go back to work. I'm not starting til 9.30am so I have time to take my time and get ready slowly.

So I arrive at work at 9.25am ready for a 9.30 start. I've made a real effort to look smart.  I've even done understated/glamorous make up.

The car park is packed so I park (illegally) at the end of a row, snugly tucking in beside a mini cooper. I have just enough room to get out of the car, and open the back door.  On my back seat I have my laptop in my backpack and my handbag. Unknown to me, my handbag is leaning against the back door so as I open the back door my handbag falls out and dumps the entire contents on the floor, mainly under my car.

I pick up my bag and say 'oh dash the contents of ones bag seem to have fallen under ones vehicle' or words to that effect.

I consider moving the car so I can bend down and pick them up however the contents are scattered under both wheels so I'm going to drive over my stuff.

THE STUFF I'M GOING TO DRIVE OVER
  • My phone
  • My precious bottle of pepsi max
  • My toothbrush
  • My mirror
  • My 'pucka pad'
  • My marvellous 'false lash' mascara
  • My dirty slut lipstick
  • My vaseline
  • My sandwiches
  • Both my 'red or dead' glasses and my 'jasper conran glasses' (worn dependant on mood)
The only option open to me is to get down on my hands and knees and retrieve my belongings. I attempt to lower myself between the cars however there is no 'wiggle' room so I do what I have to.

I stand adjacent to both boots, drop to my hands and knees and crawl between the cars. The only way I can get the things out from under the car is to lie flat on my front and make 'trawling' motions under my car.

It's surely now past 9.30am and here I am laid on my front in the car park.

(I need to point out that this isn't one of those beautifully paved car parks. This car park is dirty and oily and basically the last place you want to be laid on a monday morning)

I do a quick inventory and realise I only have half of the things I dropped. I'm still missing my phone which is obviously the most important thing. I have a little think and realise the only way I'm going to get the phone back is to back myself in, feet under the mini, then lay down full stretch and edge myself forward. So that's what I do...

At this point I'm under the mini up to my knees, and under my car up to my neck. It would just be my luck if the mini owner returned and reversed over my legs or if a car thief with a fancy for a car that looked similar to a skip pinched my car and reversed over my head.

I'm so entertained by this thought that I lay on the ground face down and laugh. Bear in mind:
a) This is my first day back
b) Ten minutes ago I was beautifully turned out
c) I'm now essentially laid in a car park trapped under two stationary cars

Then it happens! I manage to grab my sandwiches and my phone, with the same hand..The notepad is also within reach of my other hand. Now any normal person would realise that driving over a notepad wouldn't do it too much damage. 

NOT ME!!!

What I do, is point my toes and edge myself forwards further under my car (on the upside should someone choose to steal my car now they will only crush my spine and not my head).

I reach the pad and drag it towards me. I now have most of the treasured possessions so I can go into work. Which sadly isn't that easy. Standing up isn't an option. I'm really not in a position to do so!  What I need to do is somehow turn myself round so I'm laid between the two cars.  I try it and its fairly successful.  I try to ignore the gravel burns on my face and continue turning. 

Banging my head on the wheel puts me off. I'm panicking now and consider calling 999, however I'm not sure if I need the police, an ambulance, the fire brigade or all three.  I lay under the cars for a bit longer and have a rethink. I try wriggling again and low and behold I manage to end up between both cars.

Triumphant I stand up. (Whacking my head of the mini's wing mirror as I do so - a minor problem at this stage). I pick up my belongings, put them back in my bag, pick up my laptop bag and head into the office.

For some unknown reason I seem to have wiped from my mind the 25 minutes I have spent laid on my front in a car park under a car and I confidently saunter into the office. I'm looking forward to seeing my colleagues and I expect they'll be pleased to see me.

As soon as my boss  sees me she grabs me (lovingly) and takes me to the ladies. She sympathetically asks me how I am. I tell her I am smashing. Then she asks me the killer question.

'Since you've been poorly have you lost the motivation to take care of your personal hygeine'

At that point I spot myself in the mirror. I'm smeared with oil,gravel, and mud, all that is visible are the whites of my eyes.

I'm delighted I went for a dignified return...................

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Reasons why two children are more than enough for anyone

Today Syd is bored and driving us mad. He doesn't want to bake (he normally does), he doesn't want to play cards, and we can't even tempt him into having a little nap, In fact it looks like he's going to be a complete nightmare all day.

At 12 noon I come up with a genius idea. I'll text Syd's best friends mother and ask if he's free on the afternoon. This way he can come to the south park with us and Syd might not whinge all day. So I text:

Me: Is Nathan free this afternoon. Its very likely I will kill Syd if I can't find something to keep him occupied
Ellen: YES (can almost taste her desperation), how soon can you pick him up.

So 45 minutes later we turn up to pick Nathan up. I'm almost expecting him to be sat on the kerb waiting for us (his mother seems as demented as us) however she brings him out, throws him in the car, runs back in the house and barricades herself in.

Phil pulls away and we're instantly intrigued by their conversation.  I'll try to re-enact it for you.

Nathan: I know that Theo isn't lying. He is going to Rhys's house on Wednesday. That's the bit I believe
Syd: Oh, before you start, you don't need to tell my mam and dad about the 'incident' with Luke, I've already told them.

THE 'INCIDENT' WITH LUKE

Luke apparently pushed Izzie over, then he pushed her over again. She fell on the floor and got back up and it annoyed Luke. That was at playtime. When they went back into class Luke grabbed Izzie and said to her 'I'LL SEE YOU IN HELL' The teacher overheard Luke and as a result Luke is now in detention for a week. (I can tell Syd and Nathan are a little bit impressed by Luke's Maverick behaviour)

So back to the conversation (where Nathan believes that Theo is going to Rhys's)

Syd: I believe that too.
Nathan: What i don't believe is what Rhys has told Theo
Syd: And what is that?
Nathan: Rhys has told Theo that he has got to a new level on Grand Theft Auto.
Syd: *whispering* I'm not meant to play that but I sometimes play Grand Theft Auto 'I V'.
Nathan: Rhys said he is at the level where they get to have 'S.E.X'
Syd: S.E.X?
Nathan: Yes with nudity
Syd: Oh, that means no clothes.....at all

At that point we stop the conversation and try to get them interested in looking for blue cars. By the time we arrive at the park the boys are quiet and I've counted 27 blue cars.

We get out of the car and get into the park The dog goes mental, the boys go mental, me and Phil wonder if we might be mental, yet still we persevere...

Phil starts to play football with the boys! At this point I have two concerns

1) Phil is nearly 49.  Is running around a field like a maniac not asking for trouble?  I am only 36!Am I really ready for life with a Stannah stairlift (who am I kidding I've wanted one for years) and a husband who is the subject of an 'appeal' (Help send Phil to Texas to have his spine replaced with a titanium rod)

2) Phil is in goal. The two seven year olds are trying to score past him. Suddenly Phil turns into a Paul Robinson/David Seaman hybrid seeing off any ball they try to put past him. The boys are almost in tears. I pull him to one side and tell him to let a few through! Fixing me with a steely glare he tells me 'lifes not like that' and continues to destroy their confidence!

Once I've dragged Phil off the field (I am Spartacus) and repaired the boys confidence (he's just an old man with a point to prove) we head off towards the lake to feed the ducks.

WHY THE FEEDING OF THE DUCKS ISN'T SUCCESSFUL

As we approach the lake it becomes apparent that Phil is hanging back and panicking slightly. Perhaps his recent athletics have caused his joints to crumble so he can no longer walk properly however I notice he seems to be frisking himself. I ask him for the bread and he confesses that its still on the kitchen table.

By this point Syd and Nathan are at the lake and surrounded by what seems like hundreds of avid duck feeders. When I look around I'm actually grateful that Phil has forgotten my mouldy white sliced.  You can tell we're in the posh end of town from what people are feeding the ducks.

WHAT PEOPLE ARE FEEDING THE DUCKS
  • Olive flatbread
  • Sundried tomato ciabatta
  • mozzarella and pesto foccacia
  • vanilla brioche
  • petite pain de chocolate
Tempted as I am to jump in and rescue the posh bread I distract the boys by pointing out the swans.

'Look at the swans' I exclaim 'who do you think owns them, she's very important and we do exactly what she says'

'You', says Syd sarcastically....I pick up a goose by the leg and knock him out with it.

OK, I lied about the goose.....

I try again.

'Who rules our country'

Answers range from:
  • Barack Obama
  • Lord Sugar
  • A german shepherd
  • Grandma
  • That Swan
I give up at this point and we go back to the car.

Back at home, Syd and Nathan harass the dog, play on the xbox and eat their tea. It's almost time for Nathan to go home so I suggest that before he does we light the fire lantern I've had for a while. Both boys are completely delighted with this idea....

What happens next is far from delightful. We all stand in the garden. The boys are past themselves with excitement. Phil holds the top of the lantern while I light the tiny flammable square.  We all taken our places round the lantern expecting it to fill with air, as all the other lanterns we've had have done. We wait, and nothing happens. The boys hold on, waiting for it to take off, until Nathan points out the part of the fire lantern in front of him is actually on fire!

WHAT WE DO NEXT!
  • Send Syd and Nathan to the back of the garden
  • Worry about how flammable the husbands clothes are
  • Realise they are quite flammable when his sleeve catches alight
  • Worry when husband lets go of punctured fire lantern and it sets the fence alight
  • Be grateful that Syd and Nathan have learned about the great fire of London and know how to set up a line, to keep bowls of water moving along
  • Put out Phil/fence/fire lantern
  • Beg Nathan not to tell his mother how close to becoming a human fireball he actually came
  • Vow to check to Nylon content of everything we wear from now on
  • Realise that things from the pound shop cost a pound for a reason
  • Be grateful we stopped at two kids having almost burnt Syd's best friend alive
  We responsibly take Nathan home (throw him from a moving car in front of his house) and go home to relax.

We've a foster carers application that needs filling in....

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Be careful where you put your fingers

Tonight I've had a conversation with Phil about ways I've embarrassed him in the past. He mentioned one that I'd totally forgotten so I'm going to tell you about it. I expect that you'll feel for Phil after reading this. I do too.

So imagine a Sunday afternoon at a retail park. We've come for 3 things. A coat for Syd - easy peasy, sorted within 5 minutes of getting there. A replacement of 'The Stone Roses' by the Stone Roses (This is our 3rd copy, we've worn the first 2 out) and a pair of keeper trousers for our goalkeeper son, who was 13 at the time.

This one wasn't as easy as the first two. We visited 3 sports shops and they didn't do keepers trousers. The fourth shop we went into had the trousers we required.  We picked out the trousers and Phil took them to the counter, with Joe and Syd in tow. I hung back and started playing with the footballs in one of those big metal baskets that hold them.

NOTE: For the purpose of this story I need you to understand exactly what these baskets look like. You've all seen them, they're circular and made of criss crossed metal, they come up to about waist height and contained within are footballs/basketballs/rugbyballs. The only place you'll ever find them is in a sports shop.

So, Phil's in the queue with Joe and Syd waiting to pay for the trousers, and I'm playing with the balls in the big basket. Now any normal person would leave it at that.  If you've read anymore of my blog you'll realise we've already established that I'm far from normal.

I get bored of playing with the balls and look for Phil and the kids, they're still about six from the front of the queue so I start playing with the basket the balls are in. 

At this point I should let you know that since I was young I've always wondered what I can fit my fingers/hands into.

 I look up and they've only moved one place in the queue, so i start messing around with my middle finger and one of the gaps in the basket.  I get it in to the bottom of my nail, which is impressive to me. I pull it back out and check their position in the queue.  They're fourth now, I'm happy with that.

I have another play about with the balls but I get bored fairly quickly. The metal basket is much more interesting. I start again with my little finger....easy as pie, it pops in and out with no effort. I move to my next finger,and once again its fairly painless. They're still 3 away from the checkout so I decide to give my middle finger a 'good go'. 

I test it out at first, I can get it in past my first finger joint, so I push a bit further, it's starting to hurt a bit now but I feel like I've committed myself to this so I give one enormous push and lo and behold I'm in knuckle deep.

I wont' lie to you, I'm over the moon with this, and to top off my joy I realise Phil and the boys are getting served. Ready to leave, I go to pull my finger out of the basket and realise its stuck fast.. I try to wriggle my finger free and realise that it's going nowhere. If this was a one off I could tell Phil that this was a complete accident and he'd understand. I daren't tell Phil because this is not a one off.

REASONS I CAN'T TELL PHIL

1) We'd only been going out for a couple of weeks and we went into town for some bits and pieces. We were in Boots and Phil bought some blades for his razor and some shave gel and went to pay while I browsed around.

I picked up a toothbrush holder and had a look at it. It was really nice, porcelain and pretty. I took the lid off it and wondered if I could get my hand in it. Why wonder when you can try, which is what I did.

So what I did is formed my hand into the smallest fist I could manage and forced it into the toothbrush holder. I was impressed that I'd got my hand in so I went to take my hand out and realised it was completely wedged in.  Just then Phil reappeared. Please remember that we had only just met, I could hardly wave my hand at him and shout,

'Look what I did'

I really liked him and this could spell the end of our relationship. Who, two weeks in, wants to find their new girlfriend with her hand wedged into a toothbrush holder.

So I did the only sensible thing. I concealed my hand inside my jacket and left the store with him. Thankfully no alarms went off. However the situation wasn't resolved. Yes I was out of Boots, however a)I had effectively just stolen a toothbrush holder and b) It was still wedged on my hand.

We wandered round town with Phil trying to hold my hand, I couldn't let him as I'm sure he'd be alarmed to find my hand firmly wedged inside what was effectively a mug. We dropped into Yates for a quick drink and I managed to smash the toothbrush holder against the toilet wall, finally freeing my hand.

I dropped the broken bits into the sanitary bin and didn't tell Phil the truth for about 4 years

2) We'd taken Joe to the pictures. He was about 6 at the time and I was pregnant with Syd. The cinema had big comfy recliner seats and drinks holders with a hole in the bottom, perfect if you had a cone of popcorn or pick and mix.

 As usual I got bored, so while the trailers were on I started messing about with the  drinks holder. Before I realised what I'd done I'd forced my hand through the hole in the bottom of the drinks holder. Once agian I tried to stay calm until I realised my hand was completely stuck in the hole. I tried to free it but it was completely stuck fast. At that point I realised I had to tell Phil.

Anyway to cut a long story short, Phil spent 20 mins sat at my feet spitting on my hand, trying to free it while Joe hung round my neck convinced his mammy would have to stay in the cinema forever. NB Phil freed my hand 20 minutes in and didn't speak to me for 3 days.

So to return to the sports shop here I am with my middle finger wedged in the basket. No amount of pulling is helping to free my finger and to my horror Phil and the boys are walking towards me.

'All done' says Phil, jovially, and they all walk off.

I contemplate dragging the basket with me, so I try to pull it, bugger, its fixed to the floor.

I have no choice, I need to confess.

'Phillllllll', I hiss,

No response

'Phil' I say,

They're moving away from me

'PHIL' I shout.....

I'm that panic stricken not only is my finger swelling up now, my head feels like it's inflated to three size its normal time.

Thank the lord they've heard me. They come back and Phil grabs my hand and tries to pull me along and I see the look on his face when he realises I'm attached to the basket.

He says something along the lines of 'oh you delightfully eccentric girl, yet another humourous incident where you have trapped something in a hilarious place, you really are a delight' (what he really said is 'Not again, you ridiculous tart, how many more times, you mad cow)

So here we are, my finger is trapped, Joe is laughing hysterically, Syd is crying hysterically, I'm hysterical because Phil is threatening to tell the staff to call the fire service, and Phil is clearly very p'd off. He must be annoyed because all of a sudden he just grabs my finger and drags it free.

No one speaks on the way home.

I still bear the scars

I daren't tell Phil I got my finger stuck in an vinegar bottle last week.

Friday, 14 October 2011

A day out on the bus.

I haven't mentioned it, but I've been off work poorly for a week and a half now and the sight of the four walls are starting to drive me demented. In fact I've got into the habit of having a daily hoover challenge. Basically I empty the drum before I start, then I hoover the house from top to bottom, some days I do curtains, one day, interestingly I hoovered the walls!. Once I'm finished I spread news paper out in the utility room and empty the drum again.  Then I decide whether its more or less than the day before.  Then I realise how pointless this is and repeatedly hit myself in the face with the hoover pipe until I lose consciousness.

My mam has obviously noticed that I'm at a bit of a loose end so she phones me to tell me that her and my dad are taking me to town 'on the bus'

I should explain that since they gave my parents free bus passes they're never off the bus. I dread to think what they're costing the council in petrol. Every time I ring them they have to ring me back because they are 'just getting off the bus' or 'just getting on the bus'. I don't know where they go, I've stopped asking. Maybe they go nowhere, maybe they just sit on the bus and travel the region.

What I do know is that 90% of things my mother tells me start.....

'We saw (insert name of your choosing) on the bus and he/she was saying........'

Maybe the bus is just like some giant mobile social club for the over 60's. They never go anywhere, they just get on and off buses, passing on random bits of gossip about gout and bladder surgery and divorce.

Anyway I am being taken to town on 'the bus', so I drive to theirs (yes I know) and park behind their car (I know, I know). I knock on the door which opens immediately (this leads me to believe that they've been waiting behind the door).  Apparently my dad is cross because I'm late so we've missed the 10.08 and will have to get the 10.18. I'm not sure what happens on the 10.08 that doesn't happen on the 10.18, perhaps they have a buffet service or on-board bingo or David Dickinson drives the bus but my Dad doesn't look happy about missing it so I keep quiet.

My Dad gives me my bus fare before the bus comes and I realise he's given me £1.50, so I try to give him some back and am utterly horrified to learn that he's given me the right money.  They only live 3/4 mile from the town. I could have parked my car for that!!!

Anyway on the bus my mam makes us look ridiculous by making us sit on the 3 little pull down seats as you get on the bus, so I'm sandwiched between them. I feel about 7, I'm not sure if I should be holding their hands. I go to ring the bell when we're nearly at our stop and my mam stops me,

'Your Dad always rings the bell'

Jesus. I'm 36 and I'm not allowed to ring the bell. I feel like ringing it out of spite but I'm scared my mam will slap my legs, or I won't be allowed an ice cream in town!

So off the bus we get and we head to a hotel where my parents go to for coffee. I get wrong immediately off my mam for calling it 'gods waiting room' under my breath, but in we go.  We find a seat and its lovely. The waitress delivers teas and coffee's to tables on a little trolley dressed up with doilies. There are white linen table cloths and when our tea comes, in comes in lovely little teapots, with an extra pot of boiling water and some lovely oatey, crumbly biscuits.

There are workmen milling about at the other side of the tearoom as the hotel its attached to is currently being renovated following a fire a few years back. I hear the waitress talking to another customer explaining that later on there's going to be a planned power outage while they do some testing, however I'm not really listening, as my mother is telling me something scandalous that she'd heard on the bus the day before.

We must literally have been in there for 5 minutes, I haven't even started my oatey biscuit when the entire place is plunged into pitch darkness.  Now this bears testament to how British we really are.  No body bats an eyelid (or if they do it's too dark to see), people just continue their conversations.

So here I am in a quaint tearoom with my parents drinking tea and chatting IN THE DARK!!!. This is not really how I saw my morning panning out.  Why are they not alarmed, are they used to this? Is it just like the war?  The waitress comes past, shouting merrily 'don't worry you can all see your cups'. Which is true I suppose. I half expect her to lead us into a rousing chorus of 'roll out the barrel'

A man gets up and feels his way to the toilet. I presume the toilet is also in pitch blackness as there is a loud crash and he comes back out muttering, I'm only pleased that its too dark to see the front of his trousers. Being drenched in urine is never attractive.

We finish our drinks and feel our way towards the exit where we pay the waitress by torch light. Just as we we are leaving an old gentleman starts singing a song about someone called Paddy, sitting in a dark corner with his tail hanging out.  At this point my dad ushers us out into broad daylight and back to the bus stop.

I really need to get home anyway, I need to hoover our mattresses.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Parent related madness

Hello, I'm back. Blogging about something that is likely to see me in the mad house. My parents!

I should explain a little bit about the situation. I'm 36 years old and the only child of Marie and John. They're a smashing couple, loved by all, good friends, good neighbours, generally a pair of good eggs.

Unless you're their only child!

Before I explain why they're driving me mad I'll give you a couple of example conversations from them both.

MOTHER

Mother: Do you remember Gloria, used to live down the street from us
Me: No
Mother: Oh you do, her daughter was the dancer, fell off her bike and broke her leg
Me: Not really
Mother:Her son went to prison for stealing chickens from the back of the dairy
Me: Can't say it rings any bells
Mother: You used to play in the park with her neice Joanne, lovely red anorak
Me: Yes I remember her
Mother: Then you must remember Gloria she dyed her hair red for Charles and Diana's wedding
Me: Oh yes. I know who you mean. Why?
Mother: She's dead.

FATHER

Father: Did you mean to hit the curb
Me: I didn't hit the curb
Father: You parked closer than you meant to though
Me: I didn't
Father: No wonder you need your tyres replacing every year
Me: I parked that perfectly
Father: If you say so dear

So, the reason I'm utterly demented is not only because of the the above conversations, but because they have an apparent inability to retain information.

I tell them things and they seem to forget them immediately. Yes I know they're pensioners, but don't let that fool you, they've been doing this to me for at least 15 years.

Everytime I visit them my dad asks 'do you want a coffee?' My dad is a complete coffee fiend and thanks to the machine we bought him a few christmas's ago, he makes damn fine coffee. In my lifetime my dad must have made me at least 500 cups of coffee. He knows I drink my coffee black and with no sugar, however everytime he offers to make me one he asks the following questions...
a) Do you want milk in it
b) Do you want sugar

How many bloody cups of coffee does this man have to make me before it sinks in. I'm beginning to think he's doing this just to send me over the edge.

This is where his partner in crime steps in. My mother laughs at my dad with his coffee disrememberance, however in reality she's just as bad.

This week I have made an appointment with the doctor which I mentioned to my mother on Monday. She seemed to be listening, however who knows what was going through ther head (she watches far too much loose women).

On Tuesday she phoned me...

Mother: Julie when are you at the doctors
Me: Same as when I last told you, Friday at 9.20
Mother: Oh that's right

On Wednesday I pop round for coffee (Do you take milk/sugar..ARRRGGGGHHHH), (When's your Doctors appointment ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH)

Thursday I try to avoid them, I do well until the phone rings and I forget I'm screening calls and answer it.

'Whens your doctors appointment'
I hang up immediately, find the sharpest knife I have and slice the words 'FRIDAY AT 9,20 AM' into my face.

Actually I do neither, I politely reply, Friday at 9.20am. I also send a text to them both

'Friday at 9.20. Black, no milk, no sugar, why didn't you give me up for adoption'

I immediately recieve a reply.

'We tried.....'

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Voice of the beehive

Today was odd from the outset. Phil and Syd had already left for the day when there was quite a lot of commotion coming from the bathroom, we were either being burgled by someone in boxing gloves, the dog was attempting to master the art of using the toilet or something had upset Joe (my money was on the latter) 

Minutes later Joe bursts into our room fully dressed, head down and charges towards the mirror. He is muttering under his breath and doesn't so much as look in my direction. After looking in the mirror his muttering intensifies to full blown ranting, peppered with a bit of mild cursing.  He is facing away from me however I can see the focus of his agitation seems to be his hair, he is pulling it and tugging at it brushing it this way and that. He'd had his hair cut the previous evening so I can't understand what is upsetting him so much. (It looked alright the previous evening)

 I say his name a couple of times but he acts as if he hasn't heard me. I obviously need to get to the bottom of this.

So he's muttering and swearing and I have literally no idea what on earth is going on with him.  I say his name and he ignores me, so I shout his name.....

'JOE!!!!'

He slowly raises his head and turns round, and I finally see the reason why he was so distressed.

DURING THE NIGHT HIS HAIR HIS HAIR HAS FORMED INTO A MASSIVE BEEHIVE!

All of a sudden the swearing and the distress seem completely understandable. There on top of his head, is what can really only be described as a beehive.  The front is swept fashionably to one side however the crown is a good 4 inches high giving him the look of a giant human torpedo. I turn away to compose myself (laugh hysterically) and then I turn back towards him and tell him I'll sort it out.

What follows is 20 minutes of swearing (me), screaming in pain (him) and more hairspray than is good for anyone.  Nothing makes a difference. If anything I have teased the beehive to a good 6inches now, he wouldn't be out of place as an extra in heartbeat.

I suggest that he wears a hat for school which doesn't go down at all well.

I text Phil for advise:

Me: Disaster! Woman at hairdressers hasn't cut Joe's hair right, hair has now formed into giant beehive. Dunno what to do

Phil:  Take a photo?

Bloody useless!  The only solution is to call the school and tell them he'll be in late and take him back to the barbers and demand they cut it properly. So that's what I do!

School: Hello Pupil support

Me: Hello this is Joe's mother, Joe will be late this morning because its highly unlikely that his enormous bouffant hair will fit through any door in your school

School: Oh dear. Have you considered offering him as an extra in Heartbeat?

Me: Yes I have. I'm taking him for an emergency beehive-ectomy. I will bring him to school once his hair has returned to a normal height.

School:  Thank you and if you wouldn't mind could you take a photo...

(I told them he had a headache and would be in once it had gone. To be fair by this point we both did, so we had a cheeky glug from a bottle of calpol 6+, just to cheer us up)

So I return him to the barbers. As we enter (Joe needs to duck to allow his 'hive' through the door) the shop grinds to a halt. There is a stunned silence til someone starts to hum something by Dusty Springfield.

Anyway it transpires the woman who cut Joe's hair is currently on trial (she should be), and it would seem that although perfect at the front and back she has overlooked the crown. We accept their complimentary haircut and goodwill chubba chup lolly and I return Joe to school.

All this by 9.30am.  I only have one regret.

I didn't take a photo.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

There's something about Phil

In the spirit of a blog I'm using this blank computer to screen not only to tell you about recent events but also to make room for some more clutter in my head by clearing out some of the old resentments.

Anyone who lives with someone knows that spending all that time together leads to a couple of niggles about the other person. I'm sure my obsession with candles is quite annoying. (previous comments include: 'Good grief, are we trying to contact the other side' and, casually in front of guests 'who are we sacrificing tonight?)  It's really not that bad, it lends atmosphere, and you don't need to put your heating on.

So I'm going to list the main things that really annoy me about Phil. Don't worry, I'm not going focus on the trivial. These will be real issues that, were I a weaker woman, could result in the downfalll of our marriage.

1.  THE WAY HE SNEEZES

I understand that some people have louder sneezes than others.  My cousin for example just squeaks, a tiny little mouses squeak, where as I'm a fairly standard, Achoo, Achoo kind of girl.

When Phil sneezes he can be heard in the next street!  Now you think that's an exaggeration, but it's actually a true story.  A few years back, in Morrison's we were talking to a woman who lived in the next street, the one that backs onto us.  Before you thinking I'm cheating and her garden backs onto ours. It doesn't.  We're talking about a good 10-12 houses away. Anyway, this woman, (who we had previously socialised with, no doubt in summer, when Phil's hay fever was playing him up causing him to sneeze).  Who we're talking to asks if Phil has had cold. When we looked puzzled she explained. She'd been hanging washing out and had heard Phil sneezing.  She'd heard him sneezing!  THE WOMAN WAS PRACTICALLY HALF A MILE AWAY. 

Not only that he doesn't always cover his mouth, he claims that sneezing creeps up on him so rapidly he is unable to move his hand the great distance to his mouth.  That coupled with the overly flamboyant WAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHOOOOO is enough to make me want to smother him with a mansize kleenex.
 
Oh, and just for information he can sneeze quietly. When Syd was a baby and we'd just got him to sleep he'd sneezed quietly. I've also seen him control his ridiculous sneeze at a funeral. Which proves to be that he is only sneezing the way he is to get attention.


2. HIS UNNATURAL DISLIKE OF THE RAIN

I have a lot of hair. An awful lot of hair. When it gets wet in the rain it holds the water, similar to a sheep, however there is only so much water my hair can hold (I'd guess at 2 litres)  After 5 minutes in heavy rain, my hair collapses under the pressure which has the same effect as dumping a large bucket of water over my head. I'm literally drenched, water dripping off my nose, make up like Alice Cooper, basically disastrous.

Phil however has a number 1 all over his head, (I mean he has a number 1 haircut, not wee in his hair) which means very little hair. He also doesn't wear make up (a blessing really). And when we go anywhere he normally wears a waterproof jacket. I'm normally in a cardigan (which also holds the water, similar to the hair).

So based on the above information, you'd think, should it rain, it would be obvious who gets to use the umbrella. NOT SO!. Given that Joe plays football every Sunday from Aug to May, and we live in the North East we encounter a lot of rain, and heavy rain at that.  At the first sign of rain, Phil's waterproof is fastened up, and his heavy duty golf umbrella is up. He also sneakily moves away from people. This is because he doesn't want to share his umbrella.  I can literally be stood soaked from head to toe in a pool of water and Phil is panicking that his glasses might get wet.  Sometimes his jeans get wet from the knee down, which quite frankly a worry. What if he gets cold, it might bring about a bout of sneezing.......


3)  THE OVERUSE AND SHORTENING OF STRANGERS NAMES.

If we meet someone for example a personal banker who introduces herself as Lindsey, an estate agent called Steven or a shop assistant called Nigel within minutes of meeting them Phil slips into 'best mate syndrome', treating the person like he's been best friends with them since infant school.  'Good idea Linz',  'Lovely house Ste',  'Cheers Nige mate'. He thinks he's being friendly, however in reality, these people are frightened! This is a man they've literally met seconds earlier and he's carrying on like they're downing sabucca's on a stag do.
Example conversation with shop assistant in Comet.
Asst:  Can I help
Phil: (clocking name badge): I wonder if you can Beverley. We need a new hoover
Asst: Well, have you considered a dyson......etc etc
Phil:  Ok Beverly I'll just check with my wife.  Jools what Bev was saying......
Me:  *Cringes and hopes we can just leave*
Phil: So Bev what would you recommend.

At this point 'Bev' is looking at me, and looking like she's considering calling security. She no longer knows if we really want a hoover or if we're swingers and we're trying to pick her up. We leave before Phil starts calling her 'B' or 'Bev-laaaa' or 'the Bevster'.

Horrifying.

4)  HIS REFUSAL TO BLOW HIS NOSE.

OK, so this one is common sense
1)  Get cold
2)  Get blocked up nose
3) Realise you can't breathe properly through your nose.
4) Get a hanky and blow your nose.

However imagine if Step four looked like this.

4) Decide that blowing your nose doesn't 'sit right with you', you haven't done it since something (god knows what!) put you off as a child. Instead you decide to form torpedo's out of tissue and shove them up your nose.  Then you will breathe through your mouth, not caring that you sound like a walrus in a state of sexual excitement.  No matter how thick with snot your nostrils become you will not blow your nose. 

(No doubt Phil has got this cold from allowing his socks to dampen in a recent torrential downpour.  Hopefully  once the sneezing starts he'll clear some of the backlog.)

There are some more however thats all I can handle for now.......

A medical mystery

So the routine on a night goes like this. We have tea, Joe disappears into his room, to sacrifice goats or whatever it is he does that leaves it in that state and Syd's allowed some x-box time. Once x-box time is over Syd goes up for his shower, gets into his pyjamas and comes back downstairs where he's allowed half an hour with his earphones on watching his DVD player.

Doesn't that sound straight forward? Well, generally speaking it was until lately. The first time it happened was about a week and a half ago. Phil asked Syd to turn off his DVD, which he did, however he seemed to be squirming on the sofa, in what looked like a bit of discomfort. I asked him how he was and he told me he had tummy pains, and judging by his actions he no doubt did.

Awww the poor little love didn't feel well, the best course of action seemed to be snuggling him up in a blanket, cuddling him in and rubbing his tummy, we even put an episode of the Simpsons on to cheer him up and distract him. It seemed to work because shortly after the Simpsons finished he was sound asleep and ready to be carried to bed.

The next morning everything was fine, all aches and pains seem to be forgotten, so we just put it down to it just being one of those things, most 7 year olds get tummy aches from time to time.

So that night, when it was time to turn the DVD off, the same thing happened, the colicky pain, the squirming.  Some mothers at this point might have clicked however this wasn't like Syd so once again he was snuggled up, this time with a warm drink but no Simpsons, and cuddled until he fell asleep. Phil didn't agree, he thought I was being taken for a ride and so he sighed and rolled his eyes every five minutes or so, so much so I think he was in real danger of his eyes getting stuck in the back of his head.

Again next morning, no mention of the previous nights tummy ache, another one off, it must have been.

That night, when it was time to turn the DVD off, the same happened, now bear in mind that this was a child who merely an hour ago was involved in some kind of extreme combat with his brother, that involved Joe swinging Syd round by one leg. And now we have a child who is squirming and whimpering with tummy ache. Phil took me to one side and lovingly advised me 'my sweet wife, you have a full and loving heart, that see's only goodness in people, however I believe the young chap is taking advantage of your beautiful soul' (OK, what he really said was 'get a grip Jools, he's taking the p*ss)

And so followed a good half hour of protestations over the alleged tummy pains, with Syd at one point claiming that he could feel something moving in his throat which was contributing to his nausea.  During the ensuing discussion, Syd fell asleep.

The next night we were ready for him, the mythical tummy pains were no match for us, we would stand strong and not give in.  DVD off, time for bed etc etc.  Syd took his earphones off without any fuss, stood up, again no fuss and started to walk towards the stairs.  Two steps in and he stopped abruptly and put his hand out to steady himself. Apparently he felt dizzy. We sympathised, but continued ushering him to bed, at this point his knees buckled slightly and he was overcome by a bout of 'weakness'. I nearly buckled at this point however he of the rolling eyes, glared at me so I made soothing noises but didn't give in.

Again no mention of the dizziness until that night, however the mild bout of dizziness had intensified to a very worrying level.  Syd now was unable to walk in a straight line, he staggered like he was onboard the titanic, the short journey between the sofa and the kitchen saw him weaving, uncoordinately, banging off furniture and walls.  Occasionally he would stop, hold his head in his hands and look about like a startled rabbit, before continuing.  Many more protestations followed, Syd even suggested a visit to hospital (the following day instead of school) to find out what was causing these mysterious nighttime maladies. We declined his kind offer and Syd staggered to bed.

The following two nights saw worsening levels of dizziness, however the third night brought with it a strange deterioration in his condition. Everything he looked at was upside down. Apparently the floor was where the ceiling should be, and vice versa. Phil told him that the only known cure for 'childhood reversed night time vision disorder' was sleep. He was baffled (so was I), so he gave in.

Miraculously the following morning Syd's vision had returned to normal (praise the lord), so off he went to school.

We were almost disappointed that night when he fell asleep watching his DVD, his nightly illness had become almost as entertaining the soaps.

The following night however saw a return of the tummy pains, nausea and the worm that lives in his throat (Yes really!), by this point we didn't bat an eyelid, and the little boy who cried 'worm' went to bed.

One more night of dizziness ensued, so dreadful that crawling was the only option, and then it happened, he came up with the most inventive, yet beautifully simple condition ever.

HE TOOK HIS EARPHONES OFF AND WENT BLIND!

The following 5 minutes were worthy of an award, I doubt Kate Winslet could have topped his performance.  He felt his way around the room before stopping in front of me, and feeling my face to identify who it was who was talking to him.  The whole thing was completely ridiculous, I half expected Lionel Ritchie to come out of the kitchen singing 'hello', or to wake up the following morning to a clay bust of my head on the coffee table. Anyway we harnessed up the dog and she guided poor blind Syd to bed.  The following morning his sight had returned, another miracle.

I'm sorry if you think I'm cruel to laugh at a 'poorly child' however I think this exchange of text messages between me and my mam best sums up how predictable the whole thing has become.

Mam: How's things

Me:  Fine. Syd went blind tonight before bed.

Mam: Oh dear. Did you cook that chicken.

Some might say she'd turned a blind eye!

The problem with pies

Yesterdays stew went down a storm.  I'm from Darlington in the North East, so it is a stew. If I was a bit posh/from Surrey.. I'd call it a casserole, or a casoulet, or a tagine. I'm not which is why its just a stew.  Last night we ate it inside giant, homemade yorkshire puddings. The yorkshire puddings where on plates, we might be in the north east but we're not that primitive (we even used cutlerly - plastic but hey, we're hardly royalty). We ate our fill however there was still an extremely large pot of the Stew left.

At this point I feel its important to advise you off the content of said stew. Lean cubed beef, onion, carrot, leek, turnip, parsnip, garlic, oxo cube, worcester sauce, tomato puree, boiling water and the secret ingredient (you're expecting me to say a bay leaf, or some chopped thyme), a good pinch of heroin (cheers everyone up).

Anyway back to the stew (I was lying about the heroin) This morning I realised that in the name of not wasting food, I would do something with the 4 gallons of stew that were left. I whipped my bero book out, and knocked up a big ball of short crust pastry and made a pie with the left over stew.

I placed the lid on the pie and picked up the dish in order to knock up the pie. For those not in the know, knocking up the pie does not involve my husband doing something unsavoury, it simply means cutting down, along the edges of the pie, til the discarded pastry drops off, and you have a neat edge.

At this point I looked at the heap of discarded pastry. I had a fancy to roll it out and fashion the words PIE, then clag it to the pie lid with egg, however Phil (the husband), noticed the glint in my eye and addressed it in his usual charming manner. I paraphrase but he said something along the lines of 'please, my beautiful wife, your pie is already a glorious example off rustic homebaking, I am desperate to taste your wares, so be a love and pop it in the oven'. (We all know that what he really said was 'Don't start p*ssing about with faffy leaves, just put it in the sodding oven)

So 20 minutes later the pie was ready, we ate it, and it was very nice.

The eldest son, Joe, aged 15 had gone to Newcastle with his friend 'Mouse' (I'll explain at some point), at the crack of half eleven, and at 7pm he called to say he was back in town and would be home shortly.

He arrived home, dressed like someone who has fallen into a jumble sale.

NOTE: Eldest son considers it acceptable to wear very tight polo shirt (ralph lauren polo - costs the same as a small house in Wakefield - saved up for it himself), strange pair of mustard coloured trousers, massively baggy crotch (suggesting a full nappy concealed within), hanging off his arse, tapering to tight, legging style legs with elasticated bottoms (useful if contents of full nappy drip down legs, will not end up in ridiculous shoes), ridiculous espadrille style shoes, would not look out of place in Miami Vice, worn with no socks. Whole ensemble leads to creepy, swaggering style walk (presumably because a) t-shirt too tight to breathe b) trousers about to fall off ones arse leaving one naked from waist to knee c) shoes likely to fall apart if put on the ground with a normal footstep)

So, in he swaggers, and I ask him if he wants any tea. Apparently he's spent £18 on costa/starbucks hot chocolates and is therefore not hungry. He does however advise me that he may be hungry later.

He then receives a phonecall which he leaves the room to take. Believe it or not at that point, I have an overwhelming urge to clean the living room door. I clean it quickly and check it feels clean by pressing my ear against the door, and am quite frankly shocked to realise I can hear Joe's conversation.  It seems he has arranged to walk into the village with Mouse who needs to visit the shop. I stew on this (no pun intended at all, really )  One hour later I tweet:

'Baked steak pie for tea. Big son wasn't hungry. He's gone out. If he comes back with a shop bought pie, I'll smash his face in'

Violent as that may seem, I was joking. Surely Joe wouldn't pay for rubbish shop bought pie when there is a wholesome home 'BLOODY' baked pie at home.  I chuckle to myself, knowing that there is simply no way he'd spend his hard scrounged money on plastic pies.

Then as if by magic jumble sale Joe appears. I ask him if he'd like some tea, he surely must be hungry. Just before he answers, I notice he has gravy up his nose.

'No thanks, I've had a couple of CO-OP pies'

My knuckles still hurt.