I’ve Fallen off the Wagon

So there it is; the demise of my fitness is nearly complete. To re-cap 2017 was the year I re-sculptured my body and overhauled my cardiovascular system. I entered 2018 with a robust; muscular heart and arteries you could whistle down. I was an acheiver and could legitimately tick the ‘I do moderate exercise five times per week’ box without clenching my bum cheeks. Speaking of which when I did clench them; two firm orbs would be revealed; not that I looked…in a mirror…with a mirror…and a smile. My bingo wings were less dinner lady and more Caitlyn Jenner’s first unveiling. Even my ‘wobble’ (extra chin) which I inherited paternally along with dry skin and tiny cankles was reduced. Confidence levels relatively high I sashayed into the new year with further plans for physical endurance and personal acheivement.

2018 however didn’t pan out quite like that. In fact it could be described as roller-bladings over cobble stones in a tutu with no pants on, or juggling with puppies wearing Freddie Kruger’s gloves. Either way it’s kept me on my toes; and perhaps in retrospect that was quite enough exercise without actually visiting the gym! I did manage a walking challenge for charity in the summer and from that point on I developed an unhealthy obsession with excess eating and chilled white wine served with ice. I blame the heatwave; long summer nights listening to music under the trees whilst the kids made memories in a cheap 3-ring paddling pool until dusk. Where Kettle crisps and hummus replaced actual meals, and every night I’d produce a top-notch ice-cream cone with a variety of sprinkles before practising my Lambada and recalling the more deviant details of my first holiday abroad; Majorca 1988…

To be honest it’s standard for me to be fatter in the summer; why oh why the Lord does this to me I’ll never know. I mean right when I want to get my milk-bottle thighs out he adds podge and usually a fine rash from the heat. It seems a little unfair considering I’m Baptised, Confirmed and used to sing a ruddy decent Alto in the church choir for many years before turning to fags and cheap liquor. Anyway I accept this curse and usually adapt my warm weather wardrobe by becoming a hippie; layering, chakra bracelets, flip=flops with black painted toenails that sort of thing. That way I maintain an allure of still being in shape whilst working wishy-washy, flouncy clothing with an ethnic twist…up there for thinking down there for Bangra. Then before you know it I’m back in 80 denier’s with an a-line skirt and boots fooling the world like my Patchouli oil don’t stink, anyway I digress…

So it came to pass that my 10 classes a week at the gym fell to 6 then down to 4. As if to highlight my utter failing a whole bunch of my contemporaries at the gym continued (almost on purpose) to maintain their enthusiasm for what now seem a ridiculous number of classes per week. Furthermore they began to restrict their diet, clean eating and all that, weighing everything they ingested and performing complex mathamatical equations to ensure success. Rising like skinny, toned goddesses from the cheesy chips I still coveted they could calculate the macros I’d eaten that day, just from the the tension in the seams of my leggings. Whilst they were upping their kg’s, I’d purchased a pair of elastic-waisted trousers from Primark and considered an ISA to save for the Bariatric bed I’ll no doubt require in my lifetime. At this point it was autumn and life was simply about baked potatoes and early nights plus I’d also discovered Aldi’s cheap chocolate which wasn’t playing in my favour. Heading towards Christmas I’m now only attending one or two classes per week and the likelihood of me cancelling one or the other is quite high; depending on the Mother appearing brandishing a bottle of mulled wine and either child requiring a bath. So I’m now in a period of acceptance. And will trade henceforth on my ‘kind face’ and cheery disposition.

However my goals for 2019 are perfecting a ‘crab’ and achieving the ‘splits’; so watch this space…

The Righteous Brothers were wrong; no melody is ‘unchained’.

I find myself lingering upon far-reaching, cosmic thoughts of late. Pretty sure it’s the impending menopause; I haven’t bought my purple jumpsuit just yet, but I’m perfecting some acerbic comments and my ‘tut’ / eye-roll is ready to go. Only recently I attended a concert and heard a piece of music played that means a great deal to me. It’s a classical piece that both in the ‘second batch’ of my children were born to…literally.

I can still recall straining through the contractions to shout ‘play it a-f*ckin-gain, get to the good bit; the good bit, the rousing bridge with minor chords, the crescendo bit, ffs come on the ring of fire is here…’ and to give Daddy his due; he got it spot on.

I’ll not dwell on how a deaf/mute with no hands could have done it faster. Or if a dog had taught a hawk wearing boxing gloves to achieve it they’d have expected less praise…I digress.

Anyhoo; it occurred to me whilst sitting within touching distance of the violin soloist (in a white suit, skinny, spotty and balding; a full house) who was caressing my soul; through my ears that a celestial chain reaction was taking place.

Delving deeper I imagined all the micro-links and chains that connect all our sensitive and highly personal mini-life experiences via musical notes. And that’s another thing; think of all the compositions of music; within all the genres that are created from just, seven musical notes. (on a piano at least) . The major and minor chords, blends of sharps and flats, limitless combinations each timed to perfection. The layout of which evokes a myriad of different emotions; as we mentally link faces we love, nostalgic scents and touching memories.

I mused at how our brain extracts all the emotional data pumped into us through our senses and simultaneously marries it all up. Then formulates a magical algorithm that produces a physical effect. It does this on a second-by-second basis and each time it’s slightly different; as more and more intimate detail is added and must be calculated and re-calculated. Andall of this happens faster than a heart beat and without us knowing.

So it came to pass that on this evening as I listened to this highly emotive piece of music; I felt the hairs on my arms stand to attention, my heart pound in my chest and tears fell onto my cheeks as I replayed the unfettered joy of being handed a perfect baby. The sheer desperation I’d felt after battling through a pain only a woman whose given birth can imagine. A bittersweet pain; mixed with fear and hope that ended (thank God) with elation and relief.

Though I sat next to my eldest child who was born via a c-section, where no music was played and I was under a general anaethetic. A little one born too early; who was not growing and was given a chance of survival weighted against her, I squeezed her hand and gave silent thanks, safe in the knowledge that the symphony was now richer than ever.

Note to self: must buy some Tena-lady pads and a bag of Strawberry Bon Bons.

A Celebration of Life…

Who doesn’t love a birthday?

Particularly your child’s birthday. A celebration of the day you endured pain, nothing short of the sort of medieval torture one might see on Horrible Histories. That beautiful time of the year that appears annually and robs you of a couple of hundred quid, your peace, time and a triangle of hair around each temple (thus also robbing you of the simple ponytail until it’s recovered).

The run up to which includes sourcing their greatest toy desires, organising a party, writing and handing out invitations, literally feeling your blood pressure rising as you hand over your debit card over and over again. Collating responses to said party invites, wrapping gifts, attempting to write memory-making words in a card that you must, must, fucking must remember to add to the sparse memory box you keep forgetting to add to.

You must confirm numbers, buy cakes, one for school and one for the party, pat yourself literally on the back for firing off the job of party bags to the venue; thus you cannot be held accountable for. Buy new outfits for the birth-day, the actual party plus siblings, guilt all available family members into helping then ship everything required to the venue whilst still exhausted from getting up at 5:45am and coercing birthday child back into bed several times until the will to live appears a dim and distant memory.

Then clear up expensive paper, painstakingly applied to stupidly expensive shit they’ll only toss round the house; potentially chipping and/or scratching furniture, up off the floor whilst inwardly groaning at one’s growing carbon footprint. Kow-towing to cries for a ‘fun’ breakfast then apologising wholeheartedly to the nursery staff who must then contain a 4 year old experiencing an early sugar rush combined with ‘it’s my bloody birthday-itis’.

You must remember EVERYTHING. All the stuff; you know the stuff that must be remembered on such a day…updating social media, bringing the tangle teaser (single-most important thing after the humble ‘wipe’), additional shoes (they don’t match, but fuck it, at this point you don’t give even a tiny shit) and the phone charger; lest you shouldn’t have full charge for all the pictures.

At this point you must greet each parent and child, take leave of a gift; unless in my case the birthday girl has already wrestled it out of a surprised parent’s hands, ripped a few strips off the wrapping then got bored and tossed it in the opposite direction. You must watch all the children, calm any in-fighting, observe who goes in and out of the toilets, ensure everyone has their share of the party food, keep plastic cups topped up with squash and prevent any flame/hair related incident during the big sing-off.

Finally you must find everyone’s shoes and coats and say goodbye nicely whilst smoothing down frizzy yet vaguely sweaty hair (mine) and dolling out party bags and squashed slices of cheap cake. After this it’s round up your own consignment of owned children; all their stuff including a huge pile of gifts all half opened and slightly battered and toss them all, giving no shits, whatsoever into the back of the car and drive your brood; higher than a chav on E back home.

Here you must continue with an ever-diminishing level of patience (after all the birthday’s pretty much done and normal service can now resume) until everything’s back in the house. Then wash the sweat, tomato sauce and icing off your precious children’s hands and face and supervise a tired teeth clean with a growing tension which is causing a small tick in one eye (yours not the childs).

Next a lot of telling off will ensue as you battle like a Spartan in a Colesseum; attempting to get children who are by now whining about tummy ache and are equally prepared to ‘take you down’ if you prevent them taking a noisy/light-up toy into bed.

At approximately 11pm it’ll all be over and you’ll be congratulating yourself with a well-earned glass of something alcoholic then picking through which presents you’ll be saving to hand out at future parties for the next 12 months.

Until next year….

Bucket List Antithesis… ‘The F*ck-it List’

A life is enriched by many things; family, friends, experience and twice-cooked chips.

A new on-trend thing to do is to create a ‘Bucket List’; where you list all the things you would like to do/experience before the Grim Reaper arrives with his body rake.

This began as something one would do if unlucky enough to know that your time on earth would be cut short but has now become an excellent way of simply ‘taking stock’. To look at your life experience to date and consider all the things you’d like to ‘make happen’ before your time is up. I mean what better time to collate wistful ideas for mind-blowing encounters, adrenalin-charged events and vacations to exotic climbs than when your healthy enough to carry them out? That’s right whilst you still have fully workable arms and legs and enough iron reserves to get off your ‘long time dead’ arse and take the plunge, go for it!

I mean who doesn’t want to think that their one time on earth will be as diverse, culturally rich and jam-packed with seven shades of ‘amazeballs’ shit as humanly possible?

However, on this occasion and for the purposes of this piece I’ve decided to write my antithesis to the traditional Bucket List; The ‘F*ck-it List’ so here we go…

1. Pubes – f*ck it; let them be. I’ve written this delightful prose to help you to understand my feelings post-40 about ‘Area 51’ of a woman’s body.

Pubes are your friend, a gift from God

Like a hairy bikini they protect your ‘mod’

Like tumble-weed on a windy day

Please accept that they’re here to stay

Created for a reason we have to succumb

They’re here to cover your front bum.

I think the genius of this poem is in its simplicity; the writer (me) is simply asking you to embrace, accept and love your pubes rather than spend the rest of your days in a constant battle to tame them.

They cannot be tamed; it is a game you will lose and it will cost you time, money and pain. GIVE IT UP; I’m giving you permission.

2. Aspirations – f*ck ’em they’re just a massive pressure. Let it go, stop dreaming and focus on the here and now.

The job you currently have, ‘it’ll do’. The place you live, ‘it’s alright’. You’re other half, ‘beggars can’t be choosers/you made your bed…’ Delete your social media and only buy Bella magazine. See, the pressure’s off!

3. The perfect body – f*ck it, that takes serious dedication, abstinence and pain.

Accept the one you’ve got, buy a size bigger, stand up straight and smile. Think ‘teeth n tits’, wear Spanx and voilà you’re working it!

4. Seeing the World – f*ck that!

Download Google Earth and trot the globe from the comfort of your armchair. Add chocolate and wine to really enhance the experience. Plus you’ll be lowering your carbon footprint into the bargain…everyone’s a winner, including the planet.

In short; make some plans but make them realistic (like a Silver-grade Haven caravan through The Sun newspaper token scheme). Because endlessly focusing on luxury this and high-brow that can only lead to misery.

Let’s re-focus on the simple times of yester-year when life was less complex and contentment no more difficult to attain than adding Spam chunks to a packet of Super Noodles.

Oh you’re very welcome 😁

It’s Life Jim; but not as we know it…

Dear God life is complex these days.

And apparently everyone is responsible for everyone and nobody is really responsible for themselves.

And if someone says they’re fine, they might not be and we should all be talking about everything with everyone in case we miss something.

And we’re all endlessly sharing everything about ourselves; right down to our inner most thoughts/demons/fears and we should want to listen to everyone else’s.

Though we can’t be sure that smiles are genuine or ‘I’m okay’s’ are real ‘okay’s’ and that’s okay because ‘it’s okay to not be okay’ even if you’re not okay enough to be honest about how okay you really are. And all of this is leading to a melting pot of emotions spilling over like the Magic bloody porridge pot and we’re all going to get burned…it’s almost catching.

How do I really feel? Am I being honest with myself?

Is my friend whose laughing like a loon and is sporting a perfect eyebrow today whilst regaling me with her intention to try the Spicy chicken wrap at McDonalds (don’t it’ll burn your face off) actually planning her own demise?

And how often do I ask her if she’s really okay before she is not longer okay and is in fact really pissed off with me for being a Debbie Downer? (Apologies to all the Debbie’s out there; I realise you could sue me for defamation of character on account of name/emotion slang association but fuck it I’m on a roll).

At this point in life we’re all fearful and it’s getting worse.

There’s enough genuine fears; an actual sociopath is the President of the US, our NHS is being administered ‘end of life’ drugs as we speak and you can’t visit parts of sleepy Wiltshire for fear of being poisoned by Russian henchmen.

And we have to censor literally everything that comes out of our mouth for fear of offending someone.

Gender is complex. Sexual preference is complex.

What we eat is beyond complex, political and is now touted as one of the leading contenders for a climate catastrophe.

We should all be supporting minorities; even though there are now a trillion of them rather than 3 or 4 back in the late eighties. And each of these minorities are now being handled with kid-gloves and backed by some agency set-up or other and are apparently more deserving of benefits and rights than the rest of the world who came before it was fashionable to take each passing whim and make it a life choice.

I’m not talking about the clear-cut cases. The world certainly has to evolve and there have been well needed changes in the way it’s now deemed appropriate to behave. But it’s the frilly offshoots I’m struggling with. And the lack of understanding from those staunchly determined to be some standalone. Those micro-versions who endlessly complain even if we mistakenly say something that might upset their delicate sensibility. Not to mention the sense of injustice and lack of fairness in the way us ‘normal’ folk are now treated in comparison.

Perhaps playing by the rules is now outdated?

Should I continue to take responsibility for my actions and health (that’s right, don’t make me responsible for your obesity, smoking habits or any obscure and expensive treatments you might require to become a Unicorn whilst some are waiting an inordinate length of time for a mammogram)?

Continue working, paying my taxes and not engaging in risky behaviour?

You know the balanced life I was brought up to cultivate; where I appreciate that I can’t have it all and I don’t feel the need to rebel, sue someone or make it my life’s work to convert the masses or make someone pay for my need to be ‘different’.

Yes, I get it that for some they can’t help being different. But they will also have to understand that different is what they are, and as such will have to adapt; though fully entitled to be who they are; live the way they wish, they must also stand in line to wait for help with the rest of us.

To those who have come to this Country to seek asylum. You are welcome but you also must adapt and play by the rules of this Country. You must work and pay taxes and then you’ll be entitled to the benefits available. I don’t agree with Burkha’s or other forms of dress that ‘hide’ you. You should be as visible as anyone else. And you have absolutely no right to oppose other members of our society’s way of life; if you’re offended turn away. If you can’t live with it. Move on.

To travellers; I applaud you keeping to the traditions of your Romany ancestors but have some respect for others. The land you set-up upon, the rubbish you produce, the way you appear to swoop in and create havoc then feel aggrieved that you’re less than welcome.

To religious groups; there is room for all. Stop being offended by each other; you’ve each no more right to practice than the other. Your Gods are your own; if you had sufficient faith in them you’d not be threatened by anyone else’s.

Also if I’m to believe you all there must be more than one God, just sayin…

To the beauty industry; no matter how much you’re forced to peddle that everyone is beautiful there will always be those who are more so. Model’s are such for a reason. Yes I’m very glad to see more realistic shapes for size appropriate clothing, I’m all for choice but let’s get a grip of the fact that professional photo’s of a short, dumpy girl with thin hair and a squint wearing a couture gown is not going to sell it. For the love of God (whoever’s I couldn’t care less) let’s all ingest a healthy dose of reality.

To everyone; you can’t be everything.

There are limitations; we’re all subject to them. Genetics has made you a certain way; men are generally physically stronger than women; sorry that’s a fact. Only women can have babies. End of.

Some people are intelligent, others creative, some can sing or dance and though dedication, training and the luck of the bloody draw can help to achieve this though not everyone can be everything.

What you can be is kind.

You can be responsible for your actions and supportive of your fellow man. You can sample all life has to offer yet be introspective enough to decide you’re not good at something and give it up; without reproach, guilt or blaming society at large for conspiring against you.

“It’s not fair that I’m not allowed to make an album because I’m tone deaf, have a lisp and have no sense of timing; I’m being discriminated against.”

Let’s bring back pride.

And understanding, acceptance; maybe even a bit of making do!

Just be the best you can be. And recycle, reduce your consumption of meat, plastic and consumerism…and that’s all encapsulated in ‘be kind’, to those you meet and the planet upon which you reside. And to yourself.

Finally post #mentalhealthday it is indeed good to talk; though we’re not responsible for everyone’s mental health.

What we are however responsible for is how we behave and it’s impact on those around us. #itsokaytonotbeokay #bekind

Flying Solo…

You never forget your first holiday without your parents. Mine was the school PGL trip to the Brecon Beacons; there were many other ‘firsts’ too, some more magical than others. Lucky for you I shall regale you with them…

1.    I had my first kiss.  

To the raspy strains of Joan Jett; ‘I love Rock n Roll’ in a corner of a vast room at the ‘mansion’ during the last night party, Melvyn made his move.  It had been on the cards; much eye-contact, a playful though painful punch on the arm (all cornerstone moves of the 12 year old pre-mating male) and an irresistible offer of a lick on his ‘Sherbet Dib Dab’, yeah I had it coming.  Once the light’s were dimmed (i.e. they’d pulled the curtains) he made his move.  I recall the internal struggle of whether or not to lick my lips.  They could be dry; if only I’d followed up my Spangles with a mouthful of Tizer.  Suffice to say in an instant he was upon me like a blue bottle on jam.  The messy mouth-on-mouth action of pre-teens intent on using the ‘washing machine’ method of kissing; round and round we went.  I should have known from his lisp that it would be a watery affair.  It was not pleasant; to endure or I’m sure watch.  On the plus side he did manage to dislodge a bit of meat from my back molar so all was not lost.

2.    I rode a horse.  

Down a rocky stream. Trying not to cry.  I’m not exactly an ‘animaly’ person anyway but had still been excited about the idea of riding a pony; I’d even pictured myself ‘cantering’ daintily in a velvet jacket and white silk scarf.  I had not been expecting, the rain or the terrain.  I mean seriously why take a bunch of novice teenagers with hormonally-induced Tourette’s on horseback down a stream.  Even the horses appeared to be whinnying ‘what the fuck?’ Yet still they took a picture of me for the magazine.  Perched high upon my giant beast; at least 30 foot off the ground, my white knuckles, tears and snot not entirely saying ‘happy day’s I still did my best to smile.  And this was before the ‘descent’.  Not the film though this was just as horrific.  After the stream, I’d finally relaxed enough to unclench my thighs and my spasm-ing buttocks and enjoy a mini-canter along a flat field.  I even smiled at my latent equine abilities and gave my horsey a little pat and word of encouragement.  At which point one of the boys, not Melvyn; he too was crying, shot past the regimented line of riders singing ‘Champion the Wonder Horse’.  With his helmet bobbing under his chin; which even I knew was not the regulation way to wear it and neither foot in a stirrup he was followed swiftly by a red-faced stable hand.  With all of our horses spooked there was a little dance of hysteria where I clung to the neck of my horse praying.  Unfortunately there was worse to come as a sharp decline back into the farm appeared on the horizon.  With hail upping the ante, forty horses with the whites of their eyes showing, bearing forty petrified riders literally skidded down the bank…I’m not ashamed to say there was a minor continence accident on my part and very probably a few others. 

3.    I went sailing. 

With the wind in my hair and the brightest yellow anorak in the history of time I boarded the boat with much trepidation and excitement.  I’m not going to lie within 3.5 minutes I discovered my sea legs had been metaphorically amputated and the green of my face did nothing to enhance the look of my anorak.  Whilst clinging to the mast I had time to re-think my plan to work aboard a cruise ship.

4.    I learned how to canoe.  

It was the only sunny day of the trip so with smiles all round we boarded our little vessels. After the long, boring informative talk we’d received; during which I nodded off, still tired after a night of cackling girls giggling at seemingly fucking everything I was grateful to receive my oar and begin my imagined trip down the Amazon river.  All was going well and I was handling the canoe like a pro; however I quickly discovered I was pulling to the right.  Slightly behind the others and despite my, by now, frantic paddling I was drifting to the right faster than a tory turtle.  I now found myself stuck in six foot reeds and completely hidden from the view of any potential rescuer.  Quickly my killer instinct didn’t kick in and I found myself sobbing and shouting ‘help me, for the love of all that is holy help…’ (tiny embellishment there). 

With my peers and several teachers speeding past with the wind in their hair and much laughter and tomfoolery, I imagined this might be my demise.  Left to die in the reeds in a canoe.  I began to accept my fate; much like Rose on that bit of debris that she pushed Jack off in the film Titanic.  I mewed ‘help’ then found a whistle in the pocket of the regulation cagoule we’d each been given.  Bastards if I’d had my yellow one on fucking NASA could have seen me and radioed for help.  Then I saw him.  My saviour.  The Geography teacher; quite a hottie in retrospect striding towards me on the bank.  Thank you God; I whispered.  I presumed at this point he’d board a boat and paddle out to get me; yet he kept on walking, nearer and nearer to me.  He had a bright white aura around him as he literally walked on water to come and save me.  I knew in that time that God was very real and my church going days totally worth it (even though in truth I was only there for a crafty fag after and a sip of the wine), as he arrived at my side and said something I’ll never, ever forget.  “Get the hell up Jones, why are you just sitting here?  There’s only six inches of water underneath you; and stop bloody crying.”  FFS.

The undeniable highlight of my flying solo experience was the bus ride home. Here I ploughed through the rest of my contraband sweets like the pre-diabetic chubster I was. Well that was until Melvyn attempted round 2 of the Zanussi challenge. Suffice to say ending our three-day relationship was the last ‘first’ before Dad arrived in our Cortina…

 

The Bedtime Routine

As if the tea-time routine were not enough for one poor soul to bear; after the verbal diarrhoea of repeatedly pleading for cooked food to be consumed and hydration levels be topped up there’s yet another soul-destroying task to be endured before ‘me time’.  Yes, yes I know we’re supposed to bathe in the glow of our love for the little cherubs 24/7, 365 days per year since we’ve been so blessed to receive one from God, delivered by his almighty (and jolly painful) hand, but ‘newsflash’ that ain’t the case.

You see parenting is a double-edged sword. A minefield of seemingly limitless responsibility combined with shelving your human rights between the hours of 6 and 9 on a daily basis for many, many years.  Strangely despite this no parent would change things; so go figure!  However, we can’t be expected to not rant, whinge or cast dispersions on our front-bottom offerings in the meantime.  Nobody got time for that. 

Therefore after leaving an apocalyptic mess in the kitchen one must ascend the stairs with food-spackled children and begin ‘THE BEDTIME ROUTINE’; a title fully deserving of upper case.  Firstly the ‘big cleanse’. Sometimes a bath or shower or ‘wash, posh and dosh’ (as my sister calls it).  Whilst I attempt to separate my two to complete this quickly and efficiently it never seems to happen.  Generally one or the other needs ‘a big poo’ and refuses to go to the downstairs toilet preferring instead to sit and narrate everything else happening in a voice borrowed from Brian Blessed.  I quickly lose count of the amount of times I say these phrases:

“Get on the toilet then and quiet now please.”

“Get on the step, come on; hands.”

“Have you wiped properly; front to back?”

“Put your hands in the water; both of them, fully in, go on…”

“Leave the tap alone, stop it, just leave it alone until your hands are soapy.”

“Come on move rub them together, you’ve not made any foam, rub them together.”

Get off the toilet now, I know you’ve finished.  And stop shouting please.”

“No leave the tap on now, get the soap off, leave it on.”

“Put your pants back on.  Well get them out of the shower.  Put them on.  Not that way, they’re front to back. Just put them back on right now.”

“Turn it off; it’s spraying everywhere.  Don’t block the tap.  Just take your hands out.  Out.  Off.”

“Flush the toilet please, and please stop shouting.  You are shouting, now stop it.”

“Here dry your hands.”

“I’m not being mean. You’re disturbing the cows in the field.  Ssh.  Now wash your hands.”

“Oh for God’s sake why have you put the towel in the sink; it’s soaked?”

“It’s not funny. Come over here, dry your hands again.”

Wash your hands.  Did you flush?  I asked you to flush.  Look.  It’s not flushed; it’s still there, winking at me.”

“Right stand still while I wash your face.”

Your hands need soap, look they’re covered in food, paint and now possibly poo.”

“Get off your sister’s step please you’re eight.”

“Get off it, you’re tall enough to stand at the sink.  Have you washed your hands properly?  Let me smell them.”

“Get on the step, here’s your toothbrush now brush your teeth properly.”

“Wash your hands again they don’t smell clean and stand still so I can wash your face.  There’s no soap on it.  It can’t be in your eyes.  It’s just water. Stand still and stop shouting.”

“Brush your teeth not the tiles.  Look there’s paste everywhere.  Right now I’m going to do them.”

“There’s your brush get yours done too please.”

“It is your brush. She hasn’t used it.  Look I’m using hers, it’s in her mouth right now.  Now get on with it and stop shouting.”

“Right your done.  Go into your bedroom please.  Your bedroom.  Go on…”

“Have you finished your teeth?  You can’t need another poo…well hurry up, then wash your hands; again and stop shouting I’m  not being mean, for the love of God we’ve been in here for 20 minutes already!”

After this ‘joyous’ experience it’s cajoling into pyjama’s that invariably they ‘don’t like’, ‘are not comfortable’, ‘look stupid in’.  Like Kevin Spacey in ‘The Negotiator’ I will spend an inordinate amount of time I’ll never get back to persuade them to put on whatever I’ve put out for them whilst wondering if securing five million dollars and a private jet to take them to Rio might just be easier.  At this point; I’m usually sweating, have a mild sore throat and the unpleasant realisation that whilst they continue to live at home I’ll always have a fat belly on account of all the Cortisol my body is releasing. Now I must convince them with a nurturing, kind voice that television at this time is not a good idea and that pre-bed wind-down must only involve a book, soothing maternal voice and a cuddly toy.

“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO BLOODY TELEVISION I SAID.  I KNOW I SAID BLOODY, I’M AN ADULT, IT’S ALLOWED.  I CAN SAY SWEAR WORDS AD INFINITUM UNTIL I KEEL OVER AND DIE BECAUSE I’VE EARNED THE RIGHT AND PAID IN OVER-INFLATED MORTGAGE REPAYMENTS, GROSSLY UNFAIR COMMUNITY CHARGES AND NO CAREER ADVANCEMENT WHATSOEVER IN THE LAST TWENTY SHITTING YEARS. YES I  KNOW SHIT IS A SWEAR WORD AND HERE’S ANOTHER GET THE FUCK INTO BED SO I CAN READ YOU A WONDERFUL BEDTIME FABLE ABOUT WOODLAND TWATTING ANIMALS BEING FRIENDS, FORAGING AND FROLICKING IN THE TAX-FREE HAVEN OF THEIR FOREST LAND.  OKAY?”

Best of luck Mummy’s…sleep well.

Sweet Dreams.

Goodnight X