Review – Morrison’s Supermarket Restaurant.

Cutting to the chase; it’s ace.  The car-park is vast and has afforded way more than the average number of minority spaces with additional square footage.  The pointless ‘turnstile’ doors have been replaced with a vast opening to allow quick and easy passage for the bargain-hunting thrifty.  Through the doors and immediately right and there it is.  Invariably quiet; plenty of empty tables, bright and fresh paintwork with padded chairs in faux-Farrow & Ball colours and several friendly hobo’s enjoying a chippie tea.  We’re well versed.  Hell we love it here!  Grabbing a tray we prepare to load up with carton’s of juice, fruit bags, hot beverages and a red number; proof of our hot food order!  The Mother usually likes scampi though of late has had a hankering for sausage (leave it there), I only ever want the fish & chips with ‘mushies’, then pizza and nuggets with chips and beans. At this point we’ll hand over under a tenner.  That’s fucking right; ‘under a tenner’!  It’s daylight robbery but in this case quite refreshingly I feel like the consumer is ‘doing over’ the conglomerate giant!

Nestling at our favourite table; by the window perusing several life forms picking out plants in a temporary ‘poly tunnel’ in the car park.  Here we settle and the 8yo positively rejoices in the responsibility of collating the cutlery and ‘free’ condiments!  Following suit to all responsible parents I’ll keep the 3yo amused by ‘flash carding’ and teaching her to count in French (aka watch Peppa Pig on my smart phone).  At this point The Mother and I will take our first sip of latte.  It’s a short-lived yet sublime moment usually punctured by the 8yo realising she needs a wee and the 3yo smelling somewhat-less-than-fresh.  Still 10 minutes later after the usual debacle in the ‘disabled toilets’s’ we’re back, yes my latte is now only tepid but I’m safe in the knowledge that I can have another with pudding!  The food arrives quickly enough to applaud but not so fast as to cause alarm. My fish is fresh from the surf as is The Mother’s scampi…the chips are adequate and the mushies to die for.  I’ll decant at least 7 sachets of Tartare sauce which is in keeping with Piscean law then open a further 32 sachets of mayonnaise for the children.  Whilst openly salivating I’ll then mop up the inevitable spillages of juice (‘ffs don’t squeeze’…) run back to the till to buy another whilst marvelling at how quickly a queue can build.  Then return slightly out-of-breath to an unrecognisable 3yo coated liberally in bean juice.  At this point I’ll think ‘fuck it’ and commence operation ‘chow down’ on my now lukewarm dinner.  The best bit is still to come.  Hang on to your hats…

After dinner we move on swiftly to pudding. And Morrisons do puddings; proper stodgy and ‘spongetastic’ served with non-lumpy, yellow custard.  Hot ‘pud’s’ of yesteryear that leave The Mother and I with the grins of our 10yo-selves back in the day.  ‘Roly Poly’, jam or syrup sponge, chocolate or bread & butter pudding, fruit pies or crumbles enough to make Greg Wallace cream in his Chino’s.  These cost £1.  Yes, you read that correctly.  If you buy an adult meal with a FREE children’s meal and the FREE bloody drinks and fruit bags…you can also get a bowl-full of your sugary past for a quid!  Seriously.  What. The. Hell. Is. Not. Love???  The food is cheap and fresh; not unlike a school dinner, and served by similarly built women, wearing hair nets and bearing a greasy smile. I feel safe in Morrissons.  It provides for all my family’s ‘belly-lining’ requirements on a budget. I can only assume now you’re informed I’ll see ya there!!

Toddler Life.

Oh these balmy warm evenings; how you make me feel like shit.  The guilt I feel that I haven’t got the paddling pool out, haven’t barbequed the kids nuggets or toasted marshmallows over a (safe) firepit.  Social media increasing the pressure, solidifying the guilt.  The best I’m managing, within the constraints of a 24/7 three-year old with endless tantrums, is a pot of bubbles after school.  I manage more at the weekend when I coerce my poor Mother into coming with me; essentially guilt-tripping her with my harassed and tear-stained face and pleading eyes.  Then we’ll do a ‘lovely day at the park’, a ‘picnic by the river’ or sully the National Trust with my out-of-control toddler and her far-reaching scream.  Everything starts with such good intentions; smiles and rose-coloured glasses firmly over my dark-circled eyes as I boil eggs and butter bread.  Whilst contained within the house (i.e. on lock-down) the 3-year old will fake me into forgetting the depths of her tantrum capabilities by sitting quietly.  I’ve come to realise this is merely ‘gathering strength’.  Perhaps she should make the bloody picnic and I sit quietly and ‘gather’ the Herculean strength I’ll require later to haul her flailing four stone body off the floor and stagger back to the car.

 

Having some sense we usually pick a vast open space; a place she can run and jump and frollick, like the spring lamb on mind-altering drugs that she is.  There’s always a moment.  A moment in time when I watch her tumbling blonde curls as she runs and my heart swells at the sight of her huge ‘tic-tac’ grin and she proffers me a flower and says ‘for you Mama’.  At this point I normally note the tell-tale brown stodge on the bottom of her sandal and know she’s walked through something she shouldn’t have.  Then upon leaning down to remove the ‘shit-flop’ it’ll be obvious she’s curled one out herself which will also need dealing with.  This will usually happen just as the picnic has been lovingly arranged onto the outdoor picnic door.  Next she’ll not sit on the bench properly; simply refuse.  Instead sitting precariously in a crouched position, refusing steadfastly to eat anything other than crisps or cake.  Invariably I’ll not relax for the entire lunch;  just waiting for her to tumble backwards onto the ground, so I forgo cake and instead have a two ‘Rennie’ chaser. 

 

The sun also ruins my life.  For children require sun-cream and sun-hats, glasses, visors over the car window, cotton-mix clothes that cover yet keep them cool. The 3-year old won’t wear a hat, or glasses, pulls the visor off the window and attempts to hurl it at me; whilst I’m driving.  Sun-cream is usually accepted,  then vigorously rubbed off; on whatever I’m wearing. Then there’s my constant UVA/B monitoring which kicks in at about 18 degrees; less if there’s no cloud cover.  “Water? Drink some water, come on have a sip of water, why did you throw that?  It’s all dirty now, right now I’ve got to wash it in Milton at home.”  “She looks red Mum, do you think she’s overly red?  Is she red because she’s hot, or is she burnt?  Christ, she’s burnt, she’ll have sun-stroke too won’t she?  Water? Come on darling. OI, DRINK SOME BLOODY WATER CHILD.” 

 

Calming down I’ll apply more cream, then begin the soul-destroying ‘hat on-retrieve hat off the floor-hat on’ routine as we make our way to the park.  The park is square and surrounded on all sides by a fence; I fucking love it!  I can relax here; particularly if she’s sipping water and keeping her hat on…

 

It’s not even Summer yet; note to self – must pick up a gallon drum of ‘Kalms’…

Anxiety & Silver Linings.

I am a very lucky person.  Not necessarily in the way most people would think.  I’m not rich, don’t drive a fancy car, live in a biggish house but one which is soon to get much smaller.  My career has never really taken off, I’ve not taken any ‘bucket list’ holidays and I’m on my second divorce.  However my lucky resides in my ability to see ‘silver linings’ in virtually every situation.  Obviously there are limits to this; and thank fuck I’ve never been tested in that regard.  But I see myself as extremely lucky. I would give myself a 7 for looks; a good 8 when I’ve put in the effort for a night out (with a good wind behind me and at the most fortuitous time of the month).  My body has never really let me down.  It’s housed and nourished four babies, never required long-term medication and despite several diversions into ‘Anxiety Avenue’ I’ve managed to come through it with positivity and hope.  Most of this I put down to ‘silver linings’. 

 

When something goes wrong (not talking terminal illness or accidental death here…) there is always a ‘silver lining’; even if it’s simply a lesson learned.  When fully ensconced in a two-year period of anxiety; where my body was literally taken over with a myriad of unpleasant and scary symptoms my silver lining was ‘but I’m thin’!  I literally couldn’t eat; my throat was so constricted I found it difficult to swallow.  I was hungry; I wanted to feed my body, I would then spend hours upon end, looking at a buttered piece of bread with the few tiny bites I’d managed with both sadness and fear.  However I looked hot as hell in my skinny jeans!  I was devoid of muffin top, my tummy flat, toned and my waist whittled down beautifully.  That was my silver lining.  Now pipe down any anorexics of bulemic’s, I understand and respect that your problem is different to mine but frankly I’ll not allow my story to be censored by every other mental health experience. 

 

When I struggled to go out with the children; fear of extreme vertigo which would take me over at any given time I stayed in.  We made a den with furniture and blankets and I’d go under there with them and play.  I used focusing solely on them, in that moment to work through palpitations, muscle twitching and extreme fatigue. This was my silver lining.  Each and every night of those two years was spent reading every self-help book the library could provide and sleeping.  I was rested and well read; silver lining?!!!

 

As my journey progressed and I considered my progress to ‘solve my problem’ slow I upped the anti; taking up a Reiki course.  During this I received free Reiki (silver lining…normally 30 quid-ish a pop!) and sat amongst and befriended people I would never usually come into contact with.  I heard their experiences; refined my empathy and compassion whilst essentially still remaining me; light-hearted, irreverent and mischevious.  I was empowered through taking this time to heal myself, learning a new skill and inviting in the Universal Life Force that runs through every single living thing.  This course proved to be a marker in substantial improvement in my symptoms.  To-date I still lay hands upon my heart and solar plexus chakra’s before sleep and recite the Reiki mantra as I remember it:

 

“Just for today; do not worry.  Just for today; do not anger, Honour your parents, teachers and elders, Earn your living honestly and Show respect for every single living thing…”

 

A sterling psalm to live a good life by. 

 

A turning point was also investing time to study Homeopathy, Bach Flower remedies and even Health Kinesiology.  I say ‘study’ in fact I just paid to see several practitioners who proffered their expertise; for a fee! Of these I can now confirm that Homeopathy is a giant pile of poo.  Though the old chap I saw for many years and paid heartily to landscape his back garden including a very handsome Pergola was extremely kind and caring.  However the tiny ‘pillules’ I took with such reverence did absolutely fuck all.  Healthy Kinesiology was if nothing else, extremely funny.  Well, apart from the 35 quid I forked out.  And to be told I was ‘sensitive’ to Cod, Raspberries and a whole list of other weird and wonderful things, by a woman with a questionable hairstyle as she touched both a box of vile’s and a pulse-point under my knee.  Yeah; totally not falling for that shit; and no I won’t pay to have your window seat upholstered in Laura Ashley fabric. Bach Flower’s the jury’s still out on.  I’ll still turn to Rescue Remedy during times of stress to ‘comfort and reassure’; yes I know it’s probably just the drop of brandy…

 

I was nearly 18 months down the line and whilst the physical symptoms had practically gone I was left with something much worse.  Intrusive thoughts.  A particularly insidious and emotionally damaging pitter-patter of fear-based worry.  Negative scenarios played out in glorious HD and at full volume in your head.  Prescriptive fear; carefully cultivated to affect you most.  I mean you thought of it; you know what will cut the deepest.  Mine was death.  Illness, both my own and more particularly my children’s.  I only had to hear a news story that fitted.  Or be told of another’s symptoms and my very clever body would immediately join the party.  My Father being diagnosed with MND was particularly difficult in more ways than one.  So I once more had to search for a different source of help.  This time I turned to counselling.  Yeah, this didn’t work for me; and I tried more than one.  In fact I can honestly say I ended up judging the person sitting in front of me and thinking I could advise myself better than they could.  I felt that way each time; not entirely sure what that says about me!  Silver lining, I saved money and gained personal empowerment!

 

The final leg of my journey involved two things.  A book which changed my life.  And a lady Hypnotherapist I saw only twice. The book is by Dr Claire Weekes; Self-help For Your Nerves.  In desperate times if provides a wealth of practical advice and guidance.  When not so desperate; many a giggle at it’s war-time sensibility. “Do not startle a sensitive woman.  If this occurs remedy with sugary tea and smelling salts…”  Okay that’s heavily fabricated but you get the idea.  Do not be put off.  It’s an incredible book and her teachings regarding anxiety are invaluable and DO work.  A chance conversation whilst washing my hands in a public convenience led me to contact a female Hypnotherapist and two sessions with her and I finally had an understanding of what triggered everything off.  I can’t speak with any authority about Hypnotherapy only that I was relieved to be told I wouldn’t actually be hypnotised (I literally feared being coerced into humping her hearth rug then appearing on You Tube).   Instead I sat comfortably on a chair and listened to her voice and she took me on a journey.  During this journey she asked me questions and I answered with the first thing that came into my head.  Don’t get me wrong whilst trying desperately to concentrate only on her voice my mind was still wandering and I constantly questioned if I was ‘doing it properly’. 

 

Whilst on this journey from birth to the present day I became aware of many points in my life which were traumatic to me.  Small things to others perhaps, but pertinent to me and the type of person I am.  Little things blew me off course.  Bigger things took me in different directions to those that might have been better suited to me.  And so life goes on.  We deal with each chunk at a time.  We assume it’s done and dusted.  We shelve trauma, file away little upsets and are unaware that at some point our messy cupboard of life experience will need a clear out.  Perhaps anxiety is a way of doing that.  We’re drifting too far off course.  A tidal wave will then sweep in and toss us off the tranquil boat we were sailing on and we must battle to get back on board and trust that we’re now travelling in the best direction for us.

 

The ultimate silver lining to Anxiety; certainly in my experience, is that an ‘episode’ usually precedes an exciting life change and positive movement toward something better.  As if the brain has to shake up the mind and body; toss in some upheaval, instability, fear and reawaken you in preparation for the next phase of life.  I have learned to never turn Anxiety away; instead I welcome it in, see it as a meaningful test of my mettle and relax into it’s ‘trial by symptom’.  With each and every Anxiety examination that I endure and pass fear has dwindled and what I came to realise was that Anxiety without fuel (fear) is merely a transient unpleasant bodily sensation or sudden intrusive thought.  It’s ironic how since I’ve unlocked my secret to dealing with Anxiety; the knowledge that it’s an irksome irritation to be dealt with periodically, as opposed to a hideous monster of doom, that it seems to bother me less and less. 

 

Though I can recall instantly my first encounters and how my desperation to rid myself of it played straight into the depths of Anxiety hell.  For Anxiety is a slippery fish; you’ll feel the need to deal with each and every symptom separately; a battle to be won.  And with each victory, a new adversary will present itself, always playing upon your worst fears and so it will begin again.  Another symptom to be fought and defeated.   My secret is this.  Remove fear.  Invite it in.  Surrender yourself to the heart attack and untimely death you fear, goad it, stand up tall and say ‘come on then, hurry the fuck up I’m bored of waiting so get on with it, I’m ready, bring it on!’. With those words the fuel is removed.  A fire cannot keep burning without fuel.  Our bodies cannot function without fuel.  And Anxiety cannot overtake us without fuel.  Remove the fear. 

 

I have no medical knowledge, my words will not resonate with everyone’s experiences.  I’m simply sharing mine.  Thanks for reading.

Outdoor Shenanigans…

Who doesn’t love an outdoor event? Add in music, ‘a bring your own picnic’ and a summer’s evensong and I’m there!  Many moons ago was my first go… ‘Jools Holland & friend’s’ (which frankly included me!) at Attingham Park drew me in like a bluebottle on jam. My sister and our respective husbands were extremely excited and spent much time beg, borrowing and stealing (ok, mainly stealing) lots of outdoor comfort furniture.  We had a super little fold-out table with mini-benches either side. Blankets for knees (I  was envisaging myself sipping a cheeky ‘Lambrusco’ under the stars listening to a slow number; my other half holding me tight as Jools’s masterful fingers caresses the keys and in turn my heart…), citronella candles and sparklers for some high jinx and tomfoolery at the end of the night!  Next food; all the old faves, Scotch eggs, Pepperami, cheese and silverskin onions. All packed into a borrowed, vast and expensive Cool Box. Several bottles of wine and beers for the boys completed the ridiculous haul  we then attempted to carry across a huge field on the evening in question.

 

My late Father was kind enough to ferry us there and back.  I can only imagine what he thought as all four of us staggered away under the weight of seven shades of shit.  No matter!  The atmosphere was electric and we soon felt quite at home amongst seasoned outdoor eventers who had erected mini-gazebo’s; strewn with bunting and topiary trees framing the entrance.  Finding a place to pitch ‘ourselves’ was not easy given that the place was  already heaving with the squiffy well-to-do’s and their micro Yurt’s!   Squashing ourselves centre stage; halfway between the action and the outdoor bogs, the lads then spent an inordinate amount of time attempting to ‘unfold’ our compact and very complex seating for the night.  My sister and I did what we could to help; supped wine, laughed heartily when fingers got trapped or the top of buttocks exposed, offered pointers and secretly wished they’d hurry the fuck up.  Eventually it was done, slightly askew and not quite what we’d imagined, but who cares we’ve got our little plot for the evening and after dressing the table with booze and food we were ready for partayyyyy!

 

Getting all of us sat at the table was a feat of contortion and endurance. Feeling determined we eventually manage it but are painfully aware we look like hippo’s hunched over a pre-school desk.  No matter!  The drink is flowing and the opening act is just kicking off.  So as the sun begins to disappear behind the pines, we light the candles and the excess drinking begins in earnest!  A short time passes and it appears that everything is now funny!  Stuff that’s normally not funny at all; is now hilarious on a scale I’d never imagined.  Glancing down; through my good eye, I’m a little shocked to see that 2 bottles of wine are empty, and the one I’m currently sloshing on the table as I refill everyone’s plastic cup is also nearly done.  Food!  The lovingly packed picnic is now being upended unceremoniously onto the wet table top and we descend upon it like a pack of hyenea’s on a lamb shank.  Time appears to have speeded up;  it’s now dark, Jools is still hammering on the ‘old Joanna’ and our party of four is ‘trollied’. Oops!

 

At this point I’m suddenly aware of a pressing feeling in my nether regions, so with our arms linked me and my equally twatted sister set sail across the field in the direction of the demountable toilets.  Wow our little plot for the evening has grown; we now have a vast space around our rickety seating, WTH?  Could it be that our neighbours are giving us a wide berth?  Fuck ’em.  Casting a raised eyebrow around the field I’m suddenly feeling ‘hot-to-trot’ and brimming with an alcohol-induced confidence.  Sashaying in time to a radical Sax solo we begin connecting with the posh bastards in the marquee’s.  Waving and calling out; all teeth and hair it’s clearly time to bring me back down to earth.  So as my foot connects with an unexpected rut in the grass I find myself on my ‘ass’.  I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anyone laugh as hard as my sister at this point.  Pretty sure she didn’t need to use the facilities after.  The ‘ladies’ were at this point utterly rammed, with post-menopausal Range Rover driver’s bearing jaunty silk scarves and riding boots.  So holding our breath we enter the men’s domain.  Empty.  Good old cock-wielding, crop spraying menfolk, no mess, no fuss, no bother!  With my sister holding the door to the vast, square room on bricks I then pick a trough and squat.  In no time at all we’re out and heading back to the boys!

 

It’s pretty dark now; dark enough for us not to see the contempt on the faces of those who are sitting relaxing in canvas chairs watching the show.  Staggering through the crowd we find  the ‘boys’ in a vast clearing, lit by candles ‘pogo’ing’ for all their worth (only vaguely in time to the music). Look at all this space! We enter the fray and join in, pausing only to ingest yet more booze and the occasional cocktail sausage; I don’t remember bringing those?  Soon it is over.  Time to clear up, ship out, bugger off home.  We’re totally drunken and it’s dark.  Quick as a flash the field is deserted; we then attempt to re-fold the picnic seating and pack up what’s left into the Cool Box, the lid of which is ‘MIA’.  Weaving back across the field we spot Dad sitting and waiting patiently on the side of the road, ‘tutting’ he puts all of our sullied crap in the boot and drives us home. 

 

The next morning like four extra’s from ‘Waking The Dead’ we surveyed the damage.  The fold-up table is buggered; coated in candle wax and bearing several black holes where someone (we’ve) stubbed our fags out and the expensive Cool Box is lid-less.  We sit staring at the selection of ‘borrowed’ items whilst double-dipping unrefridgerated prawns in mayonnaise and literally taking our life in our hands.  Still we agreed upon one thing; ‘what a crack-a-lacking night that was’!

Thursday’s child; is badly behaved and will be the death of me.

So a seemingly simple trip to collect the 3-year old from Pre-school, then 15 minutes later the 8-year old from The-school descends into madness.  In essence it became a complex, frustrating, mentally and emotionally draining strategic nightmare; not unlike a trip to the summit of Everest with only a Matalan puffer jacket and fingerless gloves for protection. 

I’m increasingly concerned that Pre-school are dishing up Amphetamines as a post-lunch ‘snack’, as my whirling dervish 3-year old literally, (Usaine) bolts past me and out of the door at 3pm.  I then wrestle her coat, lunch bag and nappy bag, plus frankly useless art work and I’m forced to run after her.  Running and me don’t mix. Like oil and water or money and my purse.  But run I must as she’s already turned the corner, and despite having only been released into my care 24 seconds ago I’m already on the back foot, literally. I catch up with her and then begin the fruitless act of telling her to hold my hand.  An act I would liken to bitch-slapping myself in the face repeatedly.

 

We’re in the playground; a nice square area with only 14 hiding places.  That’s right, 14.  I’ve surveyed the area, mapped the space and located all blind spots and hidden exit’s. Tossing all her stuff onto a bench I then proceed to find the ‘dead centre’ of the playground; from here I can see all of the playground and at least part of the 8 hiding places.  It’s best placed to enable me to look normal-ish whilst shadowing my toddler with my eyes alone.  You see I like to think I’m a relatively relaxed person but have learned over my 25 years of parenting that I’m best not to be startled.  So it’s imperative that I don’t lose sight of said child.  Once I had an eyelash in my eye, and very nearly lost my shit as excessive blinking and watering prevented me from being hyper vigilant.  My status as nice and easy going Mother of two at the school was completely fucked, as a packed playground watched me mentally unravel as I attempted to locate her.  In short she was standing 2 feet behind me and my reaching out and grabbing a passing child by the cardigan didn’t go down well.

 

Still today is another day.  And most people will have forgotten that by now.

 

The sun is shining and I even manage small talk with other Mummy’s whilst watching my extremely cute 3 year old circumnavigating the space laughing like a loon!  This is however the calm before the storm for the playground will get busier. So continuing my vigilance I pray either for rain; the masses at least will stand under the shelter, or an early finish for the 8-year old.  God hates me so neither happen. 

 

‘She’s fucking gone!’ I didn’t say it out loud thank God, as she’s still just there; but has squatted to examine gravel with a friend.  I’m hoping the gravel is really bloody interesting.  I have her in my eye-line and can continue to look normal amongst my school yard Mummy’s. ‘Ball’s’ she moved on and I’ve just heard her reckless and frankly stupid ‘gravel worshipping’ friend suggest ‘hide and seek’? My worst nightmare is coming true and the older one will be out in mere minutes….

 

I’m now forced to leave my post and semi-run after her claiming; ‘honestly, she keeps running off I just can’t…..’ in the direction of any perplexed Mummy’s face.  With the door to Class 3 opening I know I must now keep that and the toddler in my sights; for I must nod to the teacher to enable her to release the 8-year old into my care.  Christ the fucking protocol at this school is mind blowing…

 

She’s out, and the 3-year old is now hanging off the bike racks.  Excellent she’ll do this for ages.  Feeling smug I relax and greet the older one properly; even happily accept the 3 bags, coat and cardigan, letters, envelope asking for dinner money and her greying Lemur that is frankly a health hazard.  Big mistake, the 3-year old clearly sensing I’m now loaded down both physically and emotionally makes a run for it in the direction of the gate out.  8-year old who I’ve already completely ruined for life and is now as utterly neurotic as myself is now screaming like a banshee and running full-pelt across the playground after her.  Hang on; this might be fortuitous?  Parents and children scramble out of the way to enable the 3 of us clear passage whilst offering piteous looks in my direction.  It’s okay.  I get it and you’re right.  However, my anxious nature will always win and I’ll never be one of those relaxed Mummy’s that chat for 30 minutes straight then glances round for their children like Maria Von Trapp in legging and a ‘Next’ tunic.

 

The 8-year old has caught the 3-year old; by the hair.  Both are now screaming and I am dodge-balling the late entrants down the narrow path to catch them.  Judgement is now hanging in the air like the smell of wet-dog.  Dumping what amounts to a huge pile of school-y stuff on the ground I separate them forcibly.  Wow, the combined noise of berating, screaming and the 3-year old kicking the fence from her position face-down on the path has now caused a headache I’d happily end with a hammer.  A kindly Mummy has now brought the rest of 3-year old’s stuff including her frankly naïve artwork and is negotiating with her to get off the ground.  I’m re-picking up the rest of the stuff and desperately hoping this kindly Mummy will help me; also a Mummy, to deal with, ‘my’ yes I fucking know, ‘my’ child. 

 

The toddler is now holding her hand (honestly I could cry…) and we’re walking calmly towards my battered Volvo.  Seriously I can see it.  We’re so close.  I even manage to unlock it and whilst engaging the kindly Mummy in conversation about baked potatoes; which I’m seriously not concentrating on, I even manage to toss everyone’s shit into the car.  And then she’s off; the 3-year old that is.  The car park is busy and she’s now dashing round the little maze of paths in front of the car.  This is fine, I can handle this.  Kindly Mummy needs to kindly bugger off now though;because the potato conversation is dead and I’ve still not completed the school-child-home transaction.  So I stand and watch once more.  It even turns into fun, the 8-year old running after her, big grins and happy noises…still here…I half-watch all the other children following their guardians towards their respective vehicles.  They get in.  They drive away…I’m still here.  Eventually it’s just us…and the teachers who are now leaving school and no doubt wondering what the hell we’re still doing there. 

 

Eventually I’m irritated and demand in a calm-low-‘I’m perfectly in control’ voice’ “Right in the car please girls.”  Nothing.  No-one’s batted a bloody eye lid.  I venture once more and open all the car doors as if to reinforce the request.  Bugger all.  I attempt to scoop up the toddler…she weighs only a couple of stone less than me and so other than re-igniting my sciatica it was unsuccessful all round.  Despite this and with only a couple of Mummy’s now watching the circus I try again, repeatedly.  The 8-year old is  helpfully narrating the entire scene at full volume..and then it is over.  The 3-year old gets up, dusts herself down and walks to the car, gets in and helpfully sits back to enable me to put her seat belt on.  I slam the door shut and stagger round to the driver side, cradling my temple and mentally yanking my ovaries out through my ‘hoo-har’ and tossing them into the neighbouring field of cows….FML.

The Mini-Festival (The E.L James version ‘I was 50 Shades of Twatted.)

I’m not known for being hip, cool or happening.  In fact I’m more known for being dependable, responsible and anxious. So I was bang up for a local mini-festival in a bunch of cowsheds only 10 miles from home.  I was totally on board with digging out my ripped Top Shop denim skirt and doing some serious layering with ethnic-style scarves, bangles and donning a flowery head band.  Yes, I acknowledge it doesn’t have the kudos of Woodstock or Glastonbury but it will still be totally radical and wild. The Mother is coming to babysit at home; kids in their own beds, on-tap hangover help for the following morning; tidy!  I’ve even managed to secure a lift there with my eldest daughter.  Nothing can go wrong.  I envisage myself and my partner-that-was; ‘cutting loose’, ‘making shapes’, ‘getting bang at it’ in a hayloft.  Making sweet love under the stars to the drone of some local teenagers screaming through the only four chords they know, tipsy on life, love and feeling ‘young’ again…

Anyhoo…ten minutes before leaving we receive a call to say that we can’t bring our own alcohol (at this point stashed in a ‘Teletubbies’ mini back-pack) but no matter; we’ll drink on the way there and leave the rest in the car and shell out at the bar for the rest of the night. Still hip, cool and definitely happening.  After waving off The Mother and children I crack open my first can of ‘Speckled Hen’ which is the post-40 iteration of ‘Blue Wkd’.  Knocking it back, we take to the back roads in a ‘Corsa’ that should have been scrapped at least 10 years previously with a scratchy CD on full bore. 

If at this point I could have drifted out of my body and gazed down upon myself supping on strong, brown beer like my life depended upon it; I might have had a stern word with myself.  A serious chat about responsibility and alcohol.  Perhaps labouring the point that you don’t need to get drunk in order to have a good time?  After all it’s neither big nor clever getting leathered in your forties.  The sort of chat I would normally reserve for my adult children.  But I’m fully stuck in my own body and at this point I’m having a really good go at re-living my youth so ignoring the brown stains on now saturated denim skirt I crack open another can!

Turning the corner we come to an abrupt halt.  A horse box has turned over in the road; how fucking inconvenient I think…”Oh dear I hope no one’s been hurt?” are the words that come out of my mouth.  It is quickly apparent that all is well, other than external forces intent on ‘ballsing’ up my festival plans.  So it comes to pass that we end up sitting in the car watching what can only be described as a circus, as several farmers with tractors attempt to ‘right’ the box.  During this time I manage to sink a further 3 cans of ‘Speckled Hen’ leaving me feeling bloated, windy and in dire need of a wee; Oh and pissed of course!  With several farm Collies frolicking in the road and Farmers of differing sizes (each seemingly intent on showing most of their hairy buttocks) making a piss poor attempt at clearing the road, it is entertaining to say the least. 

Now able to continue to the venue we very quickly arrive in a scruffy car park then wave off my daughter. She serves up an angry doughnut, scuffing up the hard core in an attempt to get away.  I suppose given that the 20 minute journey had taken an extra hour and her boyfriend was waiting at home, and they had a ‘free house’ it is understandable. Two gangly teenagers then relieve us of 20 quid and we’re advised to finish our booze and walk up the country lane to the ‘festival’. 

“It’s very quiet.”

“Well we’re in the middle of nowhere.”

“But it’s a music festival?”

“Yeah but it’s the first year they’ve held it, Glastonbury was probably a slow burner…”

Upon rounding the corner there are several bohemian-looking gypsy folk playing various home-made instruments by the light of a fire pit.  This is more like it!  With a stirring in my nether regions I’m quite drawn in by the drumming and a tall, thin guy bearing Salvidor Dali’s moustache and a lascivious grin. The drunken reprobates draw us in; I’m utterly trollied at this point, the fresh air has apparently ignited the alcohol in my veins and I’m swaying with bulging eyes and reaching out for a drum.  At this point I apparently think I’m Phil Collins and begin bashing away, closing my eyes to really connect with the beat.  My partner at this point is clearly not drunk and most definitely not impressed.  In hindsight he could clearly see this bunch of delusional druggies for what they were and the sight of his wife (at the time) with another man’s ‘bongo’ between her legs was too much for him.  But with a band kicking into life in a nearby cow shed and Mr Dali giving me the eye I was proper into this bizarre little gathering and didn’t want to leave.  I even accepted a sup on some vile substance in an unmarked bottle from a girl with dreadlocks….wtf was I thinking of?!  So after a good tug on my arm and ‘the look’ I was dragged away and I then attempted to follow my thoroughly pissed off other half in the direction of the music.  Unfortunately at this point I was struggling to stay upright!

It appears I am as drunk as Paul Gascoigne on the way to the shops in his dressing gown, so my anxiety does what it does best and kicks in.  Shit; my legs are not working properly?  The right side of my brain starts screaming that “I’ve been ‘spiked'”; the revolting concoction I accepted minutes earlier, is,  as we speak winging it’s way through my system poisoning me.  Soon all my organs will shut down and I’ll be found a flower bed nearby, having not only shit myself,  but also died.  What if Mr Dali is watching me from afar, biding his time, waiting for me to pass out so that he can twiddle with my bits and bobs?  The left side of my brain should of course be telling me that 4 cans of 5% vol beer downed in less than 2 hours might also have the same effect but unfortunately it’s being shouted down by the highly dramatic right side!  With the other half having flounced off to ‘get a beer’, I find myself ‘crabbing’ or stumbling sideways into a ‘flower bed’.  Here I spend what feels like hours in the dark trying desperately to input the pin number into my mobile phone.

I’m freaking out at this point.  I am alone, sitting in the dark; my fingers and legs don’t work.  If I keep really still I can still just about focus but this is the extent of my current control over my body.  Suddenly I’m in; to my phone that is and I then manage to stab away with my floppy digit and eventually call my daughter. 

“Hello”

“J*shhhh come geh meh?”

“Mum?”

“J*shhhhh mah lone, come geh meh peashhhhhh.”

“Are you okay Mum?”

“Come geh meh peashhhhh J*shhhhh….is darhhh, mah lone, spiked noh walk?”

“Mum I’ve only just got home, do you want me to come and get you?”

“Yehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, pleashhhhhhhhhhhhh….”

“Erm. Okay. Don’t move.”

“Ahhhhhhhhhh lub youuu…I cah moooo….drin spiked…my die….?”

“I’m on my way….she’s drunk, bladdered, I’ve got to go and get her, yes now…I know I’ve only just got back, what can I do?  I know she’s too old for this shit; but what can I do….?  I’m going to get her….yes really….”

Suddenly my brain (both sides) are alerted to a more pressing problem.  It appears my bladder is now straining at the seams, 2,000 ml of beer which is ready to be offloaded and my usual control has apparently gone out the window.  So with the agility of a sloth in calipers, I attempt to pee in the bushes.  The net result of which is wet shoes, wet pants and a wet handbag.  I’m suddenly concerned about the time; my daughter; she might be trying to find me?  So looking through my good eye I manage to focus on the gate through which we came, as a pair, only half an hour earlier.  Right I reckon I can make it….if I try.  So I stand; adjust my soiled handbag and begin the long stagger across a massive and now deserted concrete pad.  Where are the gypsies who poisoned me?  The fire pit, instruments and massive selection of bongs?  It’s like it was all some weird dream…

Like a member of the Elite Special Forces I’m taking one or two steps forward then hitting the ground as my legs give way and the world begins to swim before my eyes.  Resting for a few seconds in between each bout to  adjust my damp skirt, re-drape my 7 scarves and gather my faculties, I then continue.  Under a harsh industrial light I make slow and steady progress towards the car park praying there’s no CCTV and my shame isn’t being recorded.  With only a couple of feet to go I sense I’m no longer alone.  Whipping my head round I see my (ex) partner standing above me;  a look of humiliation etched onto his face and sipping red wine like a massive gay.

“Where are you off to?”

“Jesshhhh is come f’me.”

“What now?  We’ve been here less than an hour?  Come on I’ll get you a baked potato you’ll be fine.”

Suddenly I’m bathed in the headlights of a car; thankfully it’s Jess.  The look on my eldest child’s face as she helps me into the back of her car will haunt me forever; a sad mix of disappointment and disgust.  This was clearly not my finest  hour.  So with a face like a ‘smacked arse’ my partner also gets into the Corsa of doom whilst chuntering about ‘a waste of money’, and we begin the 20 minute journey home.  With my face pressed into the back seat and no thought for hygiene; I’m hardly in a position to be fussy am I? I’m then forced to endure every bump and adverse canva the country roads have to offer with a rising bile in my throat. 

My ‘piece de resistance’ is vomming, after a high velocity ‘speed bump’ straight into a Boots the Chemist bag I find in the back of the car.  She was not happy;  though the brand new lipstick and eyeliner were good as new after a wet wipe.

Still life is all about experience.  I learned that 7 scarves is too many, even at a festival, a denim skirt can retain odour even after several washes and that festival’s are not nearly as fun as I’d imagined.

 

A Trip to the Beach – Part Two

“Hey guys; we made it!”

Oh Dear…Mummy 2 looks strained.

“The toilets at ‘Ma-hunk-cliff’ Coop should be fucking condemned.  If I’d had a petrie dish, Bunsen burner and dippy dippy thing I could have recreated Small Pox in there.  3 kids, 2 soft motions and a record breaking nappy weighing about 2 stone and I need a bloody drink…”

With that thought in mind we wrestle several chavvy Sports Direct bags, 5 kids and The Mother down onto the beach.  Upon hitting the sand the kids scatter.  In opposing directions.  Without wishing to put a dampener on their child-like enthusiasm and pent-up energy particularly after a long journey I scream ‘COME BACK’ like a mentalist before dragging each one back to our patch of sandy heaven.  During this time Mummy 2 has pinged open the pop-up tent and has tossed everyone’s coats and bags into it, Mother is perched on her canvas chair and a mug of Prosecco is presented to me!  “Marvellous…”

The weather is now glorious; my favourite kind, sunny and bright with a light wind.  And thankfully no need for sunscreen, peaked hats with a neck-guard and added UVA protection, hourly hydration regime of 100ml per child and later on a sleepless night whilst I monitor their resting, night-time temp alternating between the fan on and off as I keep a close-eye out for Sun Stroke.  No today is just right! 

My Mummy Barometer is now sensing a little storm on the horizon as the older three have come over all competitive about their personal ‘area’ of sand in which I’ve suggested they build a Medieval village within fortified walls to include a turreted fortress, moat with drawbridge access…or similar.  Not wishing in-fighting to spoil both the day and my first chipped mug of Prosecco I take the largest spade and with a dynamism I didn’t think I possessed dig their bloody moat’s for them. 

“There.  If you had deeds for your patch of land that would be your boundary fence….and no I’m not replacing any friggin panels, painting it or stopping the kids lifting them up to collect a ball.  Now sort ya shit out I’ve just driven 80 miles to make ‘this’ happen…”

Back on the rug; with the questionable stain I was supposed to wash last year, I chow down on lime-flavoured ‘Dorrito’s’ smothered in humus with olives and feta and am suddenly utterly sure I’ve never been this content…

“He’s squashed my….”

“I didn’t…she…”

“I saw it; he walked too close to…and it fell…and he…then she….so they….”

In this case the main issues are Mummy 2’s, we tend to alternate.  I do what any good friend would and continue to enjoy my moment whilst she stomps off to separate her warring offspring and my 8 year old helpfully narrates the entire debacle at high volume. 

“What flavour are these crisps?”

“Lime, Mum.”

“Lime?  As in the fruit?”

“Yes.”

“Fruit-flavoured crisps?”

“Yes.”

“Bloody lovely; they’d be crack-a-lackin with a G & T!”

There she blows…

With Mummy 2 back and peace resumed in the medieval village our contented chatter continues with the opening of the beige snacks.  Like flies around a discarded doughnut the kids are back and are defiling the humus by dipping their savoury eggs then licking and re-dipping.  “Ew gross…” says the 3 year old who clearly has more intelligence than I give her credit for; but apparently she’s referring to the fruit crisps, a masticated mouthful of which has now been deposited back in the bag.  “Ew gross…” says The Mother. Ffs.

Still the sun is shining and with a crowd of gathering Seagulls we plough on with the picnic luncheon whilst the kids also attempt to greviously harm the aggressive birds with well-aimed sausage rolls; which as we all know is like pissing into the wind.

Post lunch and it’s time to take the children down to the water.  That’s right it’s ‘paddle hour’ and this time it’s my turn.  After all the rules of coming to the beach are; a castle of sand must be made, a dune must be rolled down, toe dipped in salty sea and the foot-well of the car must be partially filled with sand until the pre-Christmas hoover out. 

“Come on kids!”

Walking into the breeze with the sun on my face and the chubby hands of 2 toddlers once more I’m transported to my happy place.  A place where I am simply an offshoot of Mother Earth; embracing nature whilst I nurture all of God’s children and…

“Fuck!”

“Mama?”

“What is it?”

Oh the curiosity of small children…at this point I’m very careful not to scare the little ones or to counter their wonder.  It would be wrong to inspire fear or blight the very moment a future Marine Biologist might be spawned…I mean one day I might say… “I can recall the day as if it were yesterday…when young…whoever…was introduced to her first jellyfish…and the rest as they…is history”. 

“Don’t fucking touch it; it’ll kill you, get away, get away…run girls….run……”

And with that I run towards the sea yanking two distressed toddlers their bare feet dragging in the sand.

Moments later and with the sun sparkling on the waves that lap at the sea shore all 5 of the little darlings are frolicking in the sea.  Their tinkling laughter filling my heart with joy.  Glancing round I then clock one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen in my life to-date.  And will probably ever see again.  With the pop-up tent having been whipped up by the wind, Mummy 2 is now running (I say running…) across the sand with her hair trailing behind her and a frenzied look on her face.  At this point I lose my composure a little and instantly regret my leisure trousers and ‘comfortable’ pants.  ‘Thank God that’s not me!’ I think to myself whilst wiping the tears of my friend’s distress from my eyes.  That is until this hunky bloke comes from stage left and literally rugby tackles the pop-up tent to the ground, seemingly giving it a couple of good hip thrusts to make sure it’s down. Oh now look at Mummy 2; see how she fawns over him, look at her twiddling with her hair, throwing her head back to laugh…I mean what is so bloody funny? Life is cruel; that could have been me….

Minutes later and a very red-faced Mummy 2 with a roll of canvas under one arm has arrived to watch the darlings frolick.

“Say nothing.”

“What has been seen cannot be unseen.  One question: Was he hot up close?”

“Forties, balding and wearing Crocs.”

“Nice thrusting action though…”

“Crocs love….he was wearing Crocs.”

So with the another beach law ticked off the list we round up the darlings and head in the direction of the dunes where some rolling must take place. Which it does. Though it is not entirely successful and now 2.5 of our combined offspring are crying with abrasions to their cornea. So with The Mother waving for us to return we usher the kids back to camp and pack up. Knowing my 2nd part of the day is looming I whistle a happy tune whilst attempting to un-pop the tent. Yeah this is not as easy as it sounds, I even find myself glancing round for the croc-wearing tent wrestler of earlier. But he’s playing with his children whilst his wife soaks up rays from her deck chair. I find myself musing that she doesn’t deserve him and imagining him cooking…naked…whipping up a roux with an enormous….

“Struggling love?”

And my daydream is broken so wiping the dribble from my chin I accept a hand from Mummy 2 (not like that! I’m not quite at that stage!) and we get the job done. So with everything back in the car plus half a tonne of sand we make our way to the Fish and Chip shop!

Entering the shop we face a wall of heat; what’s left of my foundation is now sliding off my chin. I’m seriously wondering if the Menopause is waiting for me at a table like the Grim Reaper with his cock out. With the draw of fresh haddock, cooked to order hanging in the air we usher the gang to a table and operation ‘where the fuck are you sitting’ commences. Ten minutes later all 8 of us are not only red but also sweating but at least we’re seated and happy; I’m shitting you, 2 kids are crying!

With The Mother organising the troops the orders are in and we’re soon heads down in grease and carbs; lush! At this point I’m called upon to open not 1 but 13 sachets of mayonnaise which the kids rejoice in squirting over their food and each other. Laughing like loons at the fart-like sound of each squeeze we’re in danger of being forcibly removed for behaving like chimps on speed. And frankly given that I’ve handed over 20 quid for what is essentially their tea that ain’t happening.  So with various ‘personally tailored’ punishments hanging in the air like a pungent trump the kids finally stop twatting around and eat up.

Never in my life have I been more glad to leave an establishment and suck fresh air into my lungs. Battling out the door as a party of 8 with a pushchair and various bags was akin to the last mile of a bloody marathon.  Just the pre-journey piss stop in the local public convenience to navigate before strapping the brood back in the and heading home. Hooray!

Jesus Christ the smell of urine is practically visible in the air. And there’s a queue. Where else would you stand in line to breathe in particles of piss and risk contamination by fanny? It takes nearly 20 minutes to empty 5 bladders and go through the soul sapping ritual of washing hands. At this point I’m desperate to get back in the car; I’m ready for home, yes even the twisty turny journey of doom…

With ‘Goodbyes’ all round, kisses, ‘love you’s’, ‘and you’, ‘yes and you’, ‘I said YOU…’ we finally buckle up and head home.

Another cracking day at the beach…until the next time guys!!