Wednesday, 26 December 2007

A Real Christmas Cracker

I'd love to actually tell you that Christmas in the Mildew Household, with the addition of Charles Parnsip, was a total disaster, but, actually, it went fairly well.

Mr Parsnip is more excitable about Christmas than a bag full of monkeys on Ecstasy and so went around jumping out on me and daughters #1 and #2 shouting maniacally, 'It's Christmas Eve!!' until #1 turned to him with such disdain that he visibly withered. #2 entered into the general theme of things, though, and carried on where Mr P had left off. It became a bit of white noise to me in the end...

Christmas Eve was a family oriented evening. Mr P had devised a game of charades for us which included such beauties as 'The Muppets' Christmas Carol' [mine]; 'The Nine O'Clock News' [#2's, who suffers with mild dyslexia] and 'If I Said You Had a Beautiful Body (Would You Hold it Against Me)', [put back in the hat by #1 who was suddenly stricken with an abnormal attack of embarrassment).

We then sat down to a game of Buzz. Buzz is a family quiz game for the PS2 which has hand held buzzers, coloured option buttons and it's a game of knowledge and speed. I suffer with an excellent general knowledge of trivial facts which is a sign of a mis-spent youth in pub quizzes, playing strip Trivial Pursuit, and devising Rugby Club Charity Quizzes in my capacity as Social Secretary during my Muscat days. So, no matter how hard I try to NOT win, in order to let aforesaid daughters win, my natural instinct to get it right takes over, and +300 points comes my way...

Unfortunately, this is where the fun ends...#2 is the most competitive creature I have ever come across and takes the hump immediately, berating us vehemently if we press the right answer one millisecond before her and thus get awarded the points. It got to the point where she was so angry with me (in the lead by a long chalk, even after the other contestants were allowed to take pot-shots at me and take my hard-eared winnings) that she stalked off to her bedroom with her thumb in her mouth and hid behind my old skanky double mattress which is waiting for the Local Council to take it away...

It took cajoling and then threats from #1 for her to remove herself. And believe me, when #1 starts threatening, you don't want to be around for the fall-out.

We debated whether to walk to church for Midnight Mass, but we were all dropping, and added to this, it was heaving down with rain outside, so we decided to hit the sack fairly early...

After repeated warnings to the girls NOT to wake us before 6am, as there was NO SANTA CLAUS, I woke up at 6.30am to a quiet household. OK, I thought, I shall go and have a cuppa, see if Sir Matt Chingduvé is online and shoot the breeze with him - after all, I had prepared everything for the day: all the veggies were sorted out; the chicken was oiled and stuffed; the crap had been cleared from the dining table and the plethora of presents I had received from work had been opened so as not to cause presentism between the daughters.

Sir Matt was not around. I sat there, staring at the fairy lights around the French doors, the lights on the tree and the presents under it.

Nothing was happening.

So, I decided to clatter about a bit and turned the radio on - low, mind you - in the hope that the murmering, dulcit tones of Aled Jones would rouse somebody.

Nothing. Still.

I was starting to feel a bit like a brass knocker on a lavatory door. Where was everyone? Where was the excitement of Christmas Day?

At 8.30am, #2 daughter sleepily roused herself and plodded downstairs, thumb still in mouth, wondering what on earth was going on. 'Happy Christmas!!' I exclaimed, excitedly...'Mphmphm Harumphem,' she replied...

After ten minutes, Mr P surfaced, also bleary-eyed and tousled. #2 yelled, 'Guess What?' 'What?' we both chorused. 'It's Christmas Day!!' She had woken up, and with that yell, so did Mr P.

Well, we had to wait and wait and wait for almost teenage #1 daughter to surface from her pit. By ten o'clock, #2 was like a cat on a hot tin roof, desperate to open her presents. At this point, to stop her brains exploding from her ears and her head spinning round reminiscent of The Exorcist, I allowed her to disturb #1. This was probably a very bad move, in retrospect, as #2 returned, limping and in the wars. #1 was not a happy person being woken up from her reverie, Christmas Day or no.

And so the present unwrapping ensued. #2, who can be quite anal like my good self, put all the presents into individual piles and enforced the rule that we had to open a present in turn. It was taking forever. #1 suggested that we just get stuck in and open our gifts there and then. We agreed and a flurry of torn wrapping paper, bows, tags and ribbons quickly filled my once clean carpet.

The rest of the daylight hours were spent mainly in the kitchen for me, preparing an enormous roast dinner. I am not an especial dab hand at this meal, much preferring to do something exotic to a dead fish (as opposed to a live one), but I feel I excelled myself, particularly as #2 actually had seconds.

There was only one interlude where it all felt a bit too much for me. Whirling and dancing my way around the kitchen, bumping drawers shut, sharpening knives, regulating heat settings, I heard #1 shout me from the bathroom. 'Muuuuuum!' I heard. 'Can you come here please?' Oh flippin' 'eck, I thought, What does she want now?

She had the grace to look very sheepish...She had blocked the upstairs lavatory. With something not very pleasant, and not something one wished to see or smell prior to eating. The water was up to the rim of the bowl, and I stared in dismay, wondering how on earth I was going to sort this out, not possessing a plunger of any description. After repeatedly leaving it to settle and having another flush, and noticing an enormous lack of Mr P who had hidden in a neighbour's outhouse, I attacked the S-bend with the loo brush and plunged. My beautiful velvet dress suddenly felt wet as a sloosh of icky water shot up my arm and between my fingers. I retched uncontrollably as #1 got a fit of the giggles in between profuse apologies...

It quite put me off my dinner...

There were further, minor incidents, such as #1 troughing out on chocolate cake which, due to its ingredient of palm oil, caused her to blow up and her face to resemble a Red Snapper, and the vintage port whose cork had rotted and which had to be seived through my brand new stockings in order to remove the sediment and cork bits which were simply not palatable. A somewhat pointed question regarding my sex life which left me gasping for breath and which I refuse to divulge here, and there was also the visit from the ex who was graciously allowed into the living room to see the girls and who resembled, on Christmas Day, a tramp going to a funeral. Nice to see him make the effort for a change. Normally he just looks like a tramp in every day garb.

So, a success all round I would say! I am quite looking forward to New Year's Eve when it will all start again and by Wednesday, when I return to work proper, I shall, no doubt, be glad of the rest.

I hope your Christmasses were as uneventful as mine...

PS. I have been told to inform you all that Mr P's Yorkshire Puddings were fantastic.



Saturday, 22 December 2007

Agnes The Snob

I have to admit to both our readers to being the most terrible snob. I can turn my nose up at those whom I deem of lesser social standing to me at times, and am able to form an almost instant assessment of these characters by gauging their attitude, stance and [in]ability to string a coherent sentence together. I am unfortunate enough to live near a town in the North West of England which appears to attract the most illiterate, unwashed descendants of the apes one could ever have the misfortune to meet. Generally, I avoid this town like the plague...but I work in it, and thus work with its denizens.

Most of these people work in the warehouse sorting the medicines and toiletries. If I need to visit the warehouse for products so I can image them, the women glare at me and zoom past in their forklift trucks threatening to impale me on the tines and the men undress me with their eyes. It is rather disconcerting and although I could stay there for hours marvelling at the sight of massive stocks of shampoos, conditioners, creams and, my personal favourite, Cocodamol, I scarper as quickly as possible.

An indicator of their mentality was the 'Quit Smoking' initiative introduced by the company last year. The offer was 50% off all Nicotine Replacement Therapy items, which actually brought the prices of some patches and gums to below the price paid for an NHS prescription. Initially, it was bandied about that the NRTs could be collected from different branches upon sight of ID cards. Then the CEO realised that as they already nicked the stuff from him at the warehouse and fenced it on the streets, why should he pay carriage on the items and lose out even further?

So the point of collection remained at Head Office. The staff were then informed of the initiative...And all hell broke loose! Instead of seeing it as an incentive, these pikies decided that it was a breach of their civil liberties and all downed tools and threatened to walk out...A strike...just because they had been offered the chance to extend their lives by a few years. This has come to be known as 'The Pikey Mentality' in our neck of the woods. Po' White Trash will probably be more familiar to our American readers!

I am a smoker myself, as I have admitted on more than one occasion, and so every two hours, or whenever our web developers have left me a gibbering wreck, I stalk down the full length of the HO to the designated smoking area. The trek to get there, and the concomitant exercise sort of negates the effects of the my head at least...Most unfortunately for me, I always seem to get there at the same time as warehouse staff are on their breaks. The tiny smoking area (outside, under some corrugated plastic, next to a compressor which kicks in the minute I stand near it and makes me jump out of my skin) is then crowded with pikies.

Now, when enraged, I can swear like a trooper. I can also use big words, too, not needing to intersperse my sentence with blasphemous modifiers every ten seconds. They can't. Take a simple sentence such as 'I am going into town this evening' and suddenly from their mouths it becomes, 'F*ck, I am f*cking going into that b*stard f*cking town this f*cking evening'. Seems like an awful lot of hard work to me, actually. And knowing how lazy they are, it almost feels as though they are compensating for their dilitory work ethic by making their mouths work ultra hard.

The other day, I was standing by the bin, having the legs whipped from underneath me by the howling winds which came around the corner and warehouse were crowded into the area on their break. A huge, fat woman was eating a meat and potato pasty and talking at the top of her voice. Meaty slop and pastry flakes were spat around everywhere with each aspirated palative and expletive. I don't know how much went down her throat, but I bet she was still hungry afterwards...The sight was so ghastly that I stubbed out my cigarette forthwith and went back inside. It had not been pleasant.

I know one of the warehouse staff girls. I don't know her very well, but she has decided to make me her best friend. I don't want to be her friend as she taps me up for money the minute she sees me and like the sucker I am, I give it to her. The last time it happened, I gave her £20 which was passed to her in the toilets. I told her to fill her car up with petrol, get herself sorted out and give it back to me when she could, after her payday. As I turned to go, she grabbed me and growled, 'Give me a f*cking hug, you little f*cker'. Well, as terms of endearments go, that's right at the bottom of the list for me. And nor did I want to hug her...she had admitted previously that she hadn't had a bath for over a week and needed one. Indeed...

The next day, I saw her again. She was carrying a packet of cigarettes [mental note to self, £20 - £4.50 = £15.50...hmmm, that's not much petrol]. Every day, she had a new packet of fags. Obviously my money hadn't filled her car. It had filled her lungs. Two of her paydays passed, then a third, and then I got brave and asked for the return of my money. If looks could kill, I would now be six feet under. Ridiculously, I felt obliged to offer her an excuse as to why I wanted the money back, and cited Christmas, presents etc. A week after my debt was settled, she demanded to know exactly what I had bought with the money.

Is it me?

I am much more careful on my fag breaks now. I know that between quarter to the hour and the top, it is likely that one of the shifts will be there. I ensure that, desperate as I may be, I will not have a cigarette until five past the hour. It is a form of discipline to me.

And it is helping me cut down, I guess...

Monday, 17 December 2007

Lies Will Get You Nowhere

I have had the pleasure of my daughters’ company this weekend, which is always a never-ending whirl of picking up, tidying, nagging, cooking and answering difficult questions, as our two readers well know. And this weekend was no exception to the rule.

It started when Mr Parsnip was entertaining daughter #2 with the recently released DVD of Transformers on the television. As I pottered around, in a totally foul mood, having spent a day of hell at work where everything, but everything, conspired to go wrong on our website, I could hear her barrage of questions being fired at him. To his credit, he didn’t do as I do and threaten to place masking tape firmly over her mouth, but answered her calmly and informatively. She was in safe hands, so I knew that I could head off for a bath and wallow in my own self-pity, anger, and let my cares soak away with the bubbles.

The bath was idyllic. I had my candles lit, had performed all the incantations necessary to hex our dreadful web developers and was settling down to play out some confrontations in my head where I always won, got things sorted out and earned a massive pay rise. However, good things don’t always last, and I suddenly heard #1 snarl at #2, Don’t ask her! Leave her alone!

I sighed, wondering what was on its way.

#2: Mum?
Me: Yes?
#2: What is masturbation?
Me: ::thinks:: Oh Gawd, not again.
Me [after deep reflection] Well, it’s when you play around with your bits.
#2: Eeeeeewwww. That’s DISGUSTING…

It got rid of her. I discovered later that she had addressed the self-same question to Mr Parsnip who had bottled it completely and told her to ask her Mother. I guess I would have done the same if roles had been reversed, though…

Now, some of you may realise that I work for a large pharmaceutical group. We have pharmacies and depots across the UK but I work at the Head Office and am privy to all sorts of freebies, which come to the Marketing Department. We currently have a bit of a deal going on with Durex, the makers of all things mucky, who, in turn, have a deal going on with Anne Summers, which is basically a soft porn sex shop. In order to woo us, these suppliers send us samples to take home and use accordingly…

A kinky nurse’s uniform came in, replete with jaunty cap and stethoscope. It was in a size 10, and as I am the slimmest person there, and it fit, I was told to take it home and give it some use. Well, it was utterly hilarious, sent Mr Parsnip a strange shade of crimson, and a hiding place under lock and key was sought before the girls descended.

But I had forgotten to hide the cap…

As I shouted to the girls to lay the table for dinner from the kitchen, where Mr P and I were enjoying our evening banter when I annihilate him with big words, #2 came in wearing aforesaid cap and asked from where I had procured it.

After I had picked my jaw up from the floor and tried to re-pop my eyeballs back into their sockets, I stammered that it was a sample from work, out of a children’s gift set. #1, who is more on the ball than Frank Lampard, ripped the cap from #2’s head, checked it out and read the label, “Anne Summers”. Her face suddenly reflected mine [cf. eyes popping and jaw dropping]. The fact that she knew about Anne Summers disconcerted me somewhat, though, I must admit.

Me: It’s just from work, that’s all. Nothing else. Stop it. Leave me alone. I am a really nice person, honestly…
Me: Look, you know I get lots of free stuff from work, and you know that because you have just been on the receiving end of perfumes and jewellery, so give over. I was given this because there is a bit of a collaboration between Anne Summers and Durex and us. That’s all. So stop.
#2: What’s so bad, Mum?
Me: Nothing’s bad at all, darling. Erm…erm…ahem…It’s just that some couples find dressing up a bit of a turn on and things get a little…erm…fun in the bedroom, shall we say…
#2: What do you mean?
Me: Well, it’s called role-playing.
#1: Like kinky Doctors and Nurses, you div! [snarled at #2]
#2: What’s role-playing?
Me: Well, it’s when you dress up and pretend to be somebody else and act, sort of…
#2: OK. I’m Doctor Who!
Me, Mr P, #1: Raucous Laughter…

We fell about laughing. It dissipated what was one of the stickiest situations I have ever been in. #2 couldn’t really understand our hilarity, and considered if we were laughing at her meanly. We weren’t: I know from my own stand-point, that my laughter was verging on the ‘relieved hysterical’, and I’m pretty sure Mr P felt the same…

Later that evening, #2 confronted Mr P about his family, whom she has not yet met. Her own paternal grandmother fell pregnant with her father outside of wedlock and as her cousins on that side are also born out of wedlock she is very familiar with the somewhat antiquated term, ‘bastard’ and uses it as frequently as possible, in context.

Mr P informed #2 that his mother had been proposed to by his father within a week of them knowing each other [which is so romantic it makes my heart leap!]. Her father, though, would not countenance this at all, as she was very young, and denied her the marriage until her 21st birthday. Consequently, they married a week after that momentous day.

For some odd reason, the fact that Mr P’s mother had got married at a young age rang warning bells in #2’s head and she rounded on him stating:
So! You’re a Bastard, then?

Well, after he, in turn, had picked his own jaw off the ground, he rejoindered that, No, he was not ‘a bastard’, and that his parents were quite happily ensconced in a legal wedding before he had become a twinkle in his father’s eye.

She looked disappointed. She mentioned the word a few more times and gave up, knowing that she was pushing it a bit too far. She knows it is used out of context as a swear word, but also knows damned well that she can get away with it when it is used correctly. We had a very subdued #2 who would have had great pleasure referring to Mr P as well as her cousins and her father as ‘a bastard’.

I, personally, call him this anyway, when he hasn’t cleaned the bath out after him, but that’s by the by…

I realise, in retrospect, that I need to get my house in order better so that I don’t have to face these uncomfortable moments. But I also realise that, if I did, what would I have to blog about?

I hope you can both rest on your laurels knowing that it is I who takes the rap…

Friday, 14 December 2007

Young Love...

Every night, I ask my daughters how their days at school have been. #2 generally just dismisses my question with an OK, fine thanks, which is enough to satisfy me, but #1 launches into a blow-by-blow account of who has affronted her, who has fallen out with whom and who has committed the cardinal sin of looking twice at her geeky boyfriend. For a 12 year old, she is having an awful lot of trouble with this young man, whom she believes doesn't appreciate her, doesn't understand her, and puts computer games before her needs. I'd like to tell her that this is life, get used to it, but I don't want to shatter her illusions of hearts and bells and romance just yet.

To be honest, I think 12 is rather young to be 'in lurve' and exchanging gifts of over £30 in value this festive season. I know I will be lucky to get a bag of tea lights and a card from her, so for this spotty oik to be on the receiving end of some designer fragrance irks a little.

I was a rather reluctant High School girlfriend if truth be known. I would occasionally be asked out by boys, consider it briefly and then refuse resolutely, preferring to 'concentrate on my studies', being the gurlie swot that I was then. Sometimes, though, I felt obliged to bow to peer pressure and would spot a chap who appeared to be able to string a fairly coherent sentence together and get one of my friends to ask him out for me (this was the way things were done at my school).

One particular chap, Russell, was a bit of a favourite of mine at the time and indeed, only a few years ago, we did have a brief fling which was great fun while it lasted. He was witty, good looking and we attended the drama group together every night. I also did all my chemistry experiments with him in class, and as we were both as dreadful as each other, we had some rather hair-raising experiences, which seemed to me to be as good a reason as any to have him as my boyfriend. Best friend was duly despatched to ask him out on my behalf and returned to me nodding her head. I was quite chuffed. At least, for the next two hours until I got cold feet and decided this wasn't meant to be.

Best friend was nowhere to be found to dump him for me, so I bit the bullet and marched up to him.
Russ, I declared, I'm really sorry, but I don't want to go out with you any more. The look of bewilderment on his face was astounding.
But I'm not going out with you, anyway, he replied, still confused. I don't fancy you.
Ahahahahaha! I cackled. It was only a joke! I was just testing you out.
Weirdo, he responded.

Best friend got a whip-lashing for deceiving me. Her plaintive cries that she knew it wouldn't last just didn't ring true to me...

A few weeks later, Keith invited me to be his girlfriend. Keith was a very handsome older boy who was a leading light in the drama group, and I felt quite privileged that he had picked me to be his current squeeze. I accepted quite readily, thinking this would all be fairly easy - no commitment, see him at drama, and bask in the glory of having such a good-looking boyfriend.
What I didn't bank on, was that, as he was older than me, he expected me to be seen with him outside of school and do the proper boyfriend/girfriend thing. Anathaema to my soul.

He invited me to town with him on the Saturday and arranged to meet me outside the Superdrug where the bus dropped off its shoppers. I was really not a happy Agnes about this at all, and felt sick to the pit of my stomach all through the bus journey. What made it even worse was, on the return journey, he tried to kiss me, much to my extreme horror. I swerved my face as quickly as possible and heard Keith lip-smack to thin air. He didn't look pleased. He then stretched out one arm behind me as I sat next to him like a coiled spring waiting to go off. I turned to face him, caught a glimpse of his arm pit and realised that he shaved under his arms.

Oh No! No way! I was NOT going out with a lad who shaved under his arms. That was Just Not Right. At All. I still had four stops to go before my village, but that was four stops too many to sit with this person. I stood up, rung the bell, and garbled as I retreated, Sorry. Don't like you. Go away! and legged it...That was a lucky escape.

My first serious boyfriend came when I was nearly 16. Just before I was about to sit my O'level exams - you know, the ones your parents really, really want you to pass because they are the start of greater things to come? The ones which you really shouldn't screw up if you can help it? The ones my teachers anticipated I would pass with all As and Bs?

Serious boyfriend threw my head into a whirl and all studies went out the window. He was 21 to my 16 and came from a very well-to-do local family: Daddy was a popular GP and Mummy was a senior sister at the local maternity hospital. It was my dream to have a doctor related to me so I could ask all sorts of interesting questions such as, Why do I have cellulite? How do I get rid of these spots on my chin? Do you recommend liposuction on teenagers?

Rob studied and lived in digs at Liverpool University, so I had my first foray into student life at quite a tender age. Spending nights in a houseful of drunken adults was a bit of an eye-opener for me and I was somewhat confused by the importance placed on building a curtain of beer cans for the living room and getting told off when I crushed my cans. Most of the time, all I wanted to do was hole up in his room and try out the latest Jackie Collins techniques on him. He was cool with that for a bit but then the lure of drinking, fishing and rugby would beckon and I would be left pent-up, frustrated and vowing to read Pasternak from thereonin.

O level results came and went. My parents refused to speak to me all summer due to the dreadful grades I 'achieved' and Rob and I split up because his mother deemed me too stupid to be his girlfriend and advised him to get rid. I was a bit cheesed off by this, knowing that she had only got a handful of qualifications during her lifetime and she was on the receiving end of a fair few hexes for many years to come. Particularly when, much to her horror, I served her in our local shop where I worked on a Saturday and purposely short-changed her. She didn't have the backbone to query her change and left rather rapidly. At least she would have been able to inform her best beloved oldest son that his former girlfriend really was thick as she couldn't give change from a pound coin correctly.

I didn't care. I bought myself a Mars bar with the money I pocketed and thoroughly enjoyed it.

So, in retrospect, I guess #1 has all this fun and games to come and even if it cannot be considered character-building, at least she might do as I do and blog about it when she is old enough to realise that there is a world outside of MSN on the computer. As she's a bit of a silly girl, though, I shan't hold my breath.

I don't know. Teenage love, eh? Excruciatingly painful at the time, but what a laugh it can afford you when you revisit it as an adult. Give me Pasternak any day...

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Dog-gone Lucky Escape...

As days go, it's not been too bad on the Mildew-madometer. Traffic was monstrous coming back from a town 13 miles from where I live and what should have taken 25 minutes took 1 1/4 hours, having negotiated 19 sets of traffic lights, all of which were on red. Desperate for the loo when I got in, I ran to my bathroom to do the necessary and, whilst in mid flow and reaching for the loo paper, a whopping spider revealed itself to me, right next to my left thigh. I let out a highly unladylike squawk, fell off the toilet in fright and just about managed to 'contain myself'. Aforesaid spider is now cruising through the Cheshire sewage system on its way to the River Mersey. Divine retribution, I say...

However, sh*t doesn't always happen to me, so sometimes my blogability dries up. I know that none of you want to know about the good things which happen to me, such as finding a tenner in a coat I was just going to throw out, or missing a huge lump of dog poo in my path, so I hold off until things decide to go belly up. But it did come to my attention that I still have a few disastrous dates to tell you about and one that sticks clearly in my memory is a double date with Brian and Wilf.

To clarify, Brian was the official date, and Wilf was his dog. He refused to go anywhere without Wilf, as Wilf was a psycho Rescue Dog and couldn't be left on his own without his personal psychiatrist, for fear of tearing the house apart.

Now, for those of you not in the know, I don't 'do' dogs. I don't like the way they are wet and 'panty'; I don't like their smell; I don't like the way they lick their genitals and then your face; and I certainly don't like the way they try to hump my leg, hip, or my youngest daughter. However, I was feeling in a charitable mood and offered to entertain Wilf as well.

To this end, I chose a pet-friendly pub as our meeting place, and agreed to wait outside in the beer garden for the two males about to make my acquaintance. Brian had informed me that he was 6'3" (Goodo! I can wear my heels again!), 52" chest, 42" waist, and built like a scrum half. This all appealled. I don't like skinny, small blokes, as to me, they just cry out 'Pathetic'. I want a Manly Man: someone to watch over me, attempt to tame me (no chance, really!) and make me feel all gurly-femme...without calling me 'cute' (another post beckons...).

So, I had really gone to town this day. I was super slim at this time: for the Kookai readers amongst you (Linda?) this meant a size 1. I was wearing my new jeans, a rather slinky psychedelic yawn top and a fantastic bright blue suede jacket I had procured for a fiver from our local TK Maxx. I felt good. Indeed, I felt really good, until this tall, fat bloke attached to a dog on a lead rounded the corner of the beer garden and introduced himself to me. At that point, I felt the life blood leaving me.

Ever the optimist, though, I introduced myself gaily, attempted to be nice to the dog, in the manner of a confirmed bachelor who despises kids but can see that the only way into the pants of his latest squeeze is to coo and goo over babies, and offered to get the round in.

He readily accepted.

We commenced our ice breaking. I learned that his limp was due to a near fatal accident when he was a World Famous dragster driver (I am not actually sure he didn't say Drag Queen, to be honest); that he had been madly in love with a gorgeous, successful blonde; that he had built his own mansion with his bare hands; and that the blonde had gone off sh*gging with another bloke and he had left her everything. But he was Not Bitter. No...

I listened attentively, as much as possible, but couldn't help my eyes dropping to the 52" waist, which hadn't defied gravity and had slipped to the belly region. I also couldn't help noticing that 6'3" was a bit on the optimistic side. Wilf was starting to look the better bet...

I was pretty hungry by 6pm and suggested that we had something to eat. For a man as large as he, he demurred, stating that he ate like a bird. Soup, then? I suggested. No, no, nothing for me. I am fine...

Well, I was getting rather bored sitting in the bitter cold beer garden, the only place where I was allowed to smoke, and so I suggested that we adjourned to my house, pre-warning him that I kept a marble rolling pin in the house in the event of any monkey business, which I was certainly not afraid to use, Wilf or no Wilf. He accepted readily and followed me back to my place.

Wilf got out of the car as we arrived and ran straight across my back garden, yelping, yapping and tearing around the rabbits' pen. For once, Lambert (Lambert & Butler, after my brand of fags) had met his match. He generally terrorises Norman and Ollie the cats, whilst his brother, Butler, mildly watches on, but this time, Lambert was petrified himself. So, I took umbrage and booted Wilf. Nobody, and no dog, terrorises my bunnies without a kicking...Luckily, Brian was still getting himself out of his Land Rover and oblivious to the carnage going on.

Upon our entrance in the house, he announced that he was ravenous and could eat a horse. This confused me. Surely, only 15 minutes ago he had said he ate like a bird and didn't want anything from the pub? As I am always a gracious hostess, I dragged out all sorts of vegetables from the fridge and set about making a Pav (pronounced Pow) Bhaji, which is a red hot Hindu vegetarian curry that I learned whilst living in Oman. Brian advised me that he liked his curries as hot as Hades, and as I have a mouth and stomach like asbestos when it comes to spices, I took him at his word, launched in two birds eye chilli peppers, replete with seeds, and an over generous dollop of pav bhaji masala. It was enough to ignite the Olympic Torch.

While we waited for the curry to cook, Brian decided that Wilf needed some exercise (to defacate, really) and set off. Hang on a minute, I thought, this is a poop scoop zone. No dog is going to leave a great big dollop of turds for me to stand in whilst pegging out my washing - Norman does that for me, any time he feels like. So, I banned them from my garden, armed them with a plastic bag, and told them not to rush back. Even though Wilf had only been in the house for ten minutes or so, I could smell dog. I could taste dog...and worst of all, he had shed all over my lovely new carpet. I was not a happy Agnes at all.

When Brian returned, I dished up, we ate up and sweated profusely, and he started to reveal that he was completely skint, hence why he hadn't bought a round nor had he wanted to eat at the pub and was looking for someone to care for him. Alarm bells started going off in my head. No wonder, during our MSN chats, he had been so keen to hear all about my work and what I did, my financial status etc. Here, I had a classic example of a sponger. And I didn't find it endearing. Not One Little Bit.

To be perfectly honest with you, it was when he started bleating that he really missed smoking proper cigarettes rather than roll-ups and asked could he try one of my L&Bs that I took the hump. Too many dates of mine have stated that they want a non-smoker, then approach me for a date - me who trumpets it quite brazenly that I am a smoker and proud of it, and then they scrounge the cigs from me. It's enough to make you want to spit! Fags are now over 20p each in the UK, which is daylight robbery as it is. But I am not having some dole-ite nicking them off me to boot!

I did what all sensible women do in a crisis. I texted a dear friend, asked them to issue a state of emergency by phone and got rid of him and his rotten hound.

The next day, during my daily MSN to Sir Matt Chingduvé, I moaned about the pong of dog in the house and how bloody miserable this rotten internet dating lark was. Sir Matt was as sympathetic as ever, and offered to stick some rotten fruit up Wilf's backside for me, but I refused. I try to avoid cruelty to dumb that ruled out Brian, too.

Brian was my last ever internet date. It put me off, physically and mentally and I withdrew from every single dating site thereonin. For that, I must thank him profusely. He preserved my sanity...

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Never Send a Man To Do A Woman's Shopping


It's a day of many flavours: some people spend the day in bed; some go out into the garden; and some wake up and decide what to do depending on their mood.

After a disappointing morning consisting of a lack of kinky boots in the post for Agnes, a lack of anything exciting in TK Maxx, an utterly wasted journey to find Stinking Bishop cheese, and getting my backside handed to me at Scrabble, things mainly got worse.

I think the turning point was the Scrabble. I could say that I had a poor run of letters. Indeed, during the first few turns I had nary a vowel to my name. Marque, Marquees and Ozone killed me off though, and I was comprehensively beaten. Agnes (like the rest of the Mildew clan) is quite competitive. Although Agnes loses to me at Scrabble more than she would like, winning today provoked such a visible euphoria in her, that I felt, all in all, it was worth it to suffer the gloating I would surely now receive.

As Agnes gave me her best grin, the finger and thumb formed an L on her forehead. "You'll have to go round like this for the rest of the day now," she proclaimed, chuckling.

So, in addition to signing the scorecard indicating I "had my arse kicked", I had to go out to the
to get a pair of tights, a face pack and some wine. I added some headache tablets to the list as all of Agnes's dancing and singing was giving me motion sickness and a mild buzzing behind my eyes.

Into the car I sloped as Agnes went off to have a 'long victorious soak'.

The local village shops have always annoyed me. There is parking outside the shops, but invariably this becomes a traffic jam at busy times with people stopping to "just pop in" and causing mayhem in their wake. Apparently 3pm on a drenched Saturday afternoon is just such a busy time. Indeed, it seemed that the entire village had turned out just as I had arrived for my few essential supplies. You remember the list? Aspirin, Tights, Face pack and Wine. Good.

I found a spot to park at the very end of the parade of shops. The last spot. Gratefully, I reverse parked into the space and jumped out of the car. As I walked towards the cash machine I cast a sideways glance into the launderette. A lone man was visible through the part-steamed windows. Hugely obese, he sat with his back against the industrial dryer fishbowl windows. A baseball cap perched tenuously on the back of his head, his tattooed arms resting on his prodigious belly and shovel-sized hands supporting his chin as he stared thoughtfully into space. To what was he going home? I wondered as I hurried past, collar turned up against the foul weather. Probably a crisp butty was the later reply from a still good-humoured Agnes.

As I stood under a leaky gutter and drew out some cash from the hole-in-the-wall, I planned my visit. Pharmacist for everything except the wine, then Tesco. Back to the car, then back home to present the no doubt still-gloating Agnes with a mud face pack and a non-laddered pair of tights.

The warmth of the air-conditioned pharmacy was a welcome respite from the howling gale and torrential downpour outside, but only for a moment. It seemed as though the entire village had not only come down here to shop, but all needed the pharmacy. The queue was a mile long. The in-store radio was playing music even the Cheese Police would be offended by, and a group of spotty teenagers were crowded around the lipstick and skincare section giggling to each other as they primped and preened themselves with free makeup from the samples on display. The staff were harried and disinterested and everyone was wet and steaming, and judging by the look of them, suffering from some ailment that was, without doubt, contagious. I walked around the shop, studiously avoiding the most diseased, looking for tights. Couldn't find them. I huffed and puffed near the teenagers, looking over their shoulders at the display, searching desperately for anything looking like a face pack. No joy. I then did what every good Englishman does under these circumstances. I queued.

Time passed, my life slipped away, and idly, I listened to the voice of the bright young woman broadcasting on Pharmacy FM. What qualifications are required for this job I wondered? Doubtless she would be sat in a warm comfy studio somewhere. The lone girl behind the counter was giving an elderly gentleman loud and sagely advice on the use of an anal cream. She looked about 12 and I watched as she spoke to him in a calm and even tone, giving application advice and warning against him putting his fingers near his mouth afterwards without washing. The rest of the people in the queue were unmoved, each in their own little world. Probably hoping to God that something would strike them down so that they wouldn't have to queue any longer and listen to the dreadful George Michael singing about his Last Christmas. Oh why couldn't that just be true?

Eventually, I made it to the front of the queue. "Do you sell tights?" I asked.

"No." The answer was delivered with no apologetic look and my ire rose.

"What about face packs?" I rubbed my hands against my cheek as if that would somehow help illustrate what they were. She just looked at me with a look clearly reserved for what she believed to be idiots.


I asked for my aspirin.

"Have you ever taken these before?" the girl enquired.

I was mildly annoyed at this point, and briefly considered saying "It's f*cking aspirin. What do you think?". Instead, out of a mild and masochistic curiosity, I said "no". This is why I lose at Scrabble. I am that stupid.

So now, with the Parsnip-Anger-Meter hovering at around 4, I walked out into the rain again and went to the local supermarket. Agnes had mentioned that the Co-Op sold tights, so in I strolled. I found the tights within a few minutes and then spent a further 15 minutes wondering what a denier was, and whether 15 of them was good. White, Tan or Black? Long or Medium (no 'short' option, which I found odd...). I picked up what I thought was right, and wandered down the aisle.

Pausing at the shower gel/toothpaste/hair dye section, I had a quick look for face packs. None. However the Saturday part-timer, a snotty youth of indeterminate age, looked up and gave me some Co-Op customer care.

"Looking for anything particular mate?"

"I'm looking for face packs." I did the face rubbing thing again (big mistake - don't ever do this) and the lad grinned lasciviously, glancing at the tights in my hand.

"Oi Dave!" he yelled to his colleague at the other end of the aisle. Needless to say the entire shop was now privy to this conversation. "Do we sell face pack thingies?" His grin threatened to split his face and he nodded at me, clearly believing I was about to rush home, don a pair of 15 denier, almost black tights and cover my face in mud. Anger meter = anger meter +2, and I considered smashing my fist into his face. Were it not for the legal repercussions, I would have had no restraint.

Dave sniggered, shrugged and shook his head.

As I stood in the lengthy queue that had clearly migrated from the pharmacy to the Co-Op and as I left to walk out into the pouring rain, I decided that Tesco would be my last stop. Wine. I needed wine.

The Tesco shopping experience was much better. No face packs, but plenty of wine. The queue, however, had been following me and was now beyond the guide ropes and down one of the aisles. One of the sales assistants piped up, saying to me that the self-service tills were just as fast for those who didn't need cigarettes or contraceptives, and as I fell into neither of those categories, I hurried to the lone empty machine.

Unfortunately, Lady Luck was on the toilet, and I was underneath. One man made it to the machine before me, and I stood dutifully behind him, smiling smugly at the queue and the jealous looks being fired my way. It looked like I was going to make it home whilst still on solid food.

I was wrong.

The gent in front of me had a hand basket crammed to the handles with stuff. Slowly and ponderously, he placed his basket on the side and began to read the instructions on the screen.

"SCAN YOUR FIRST ITEM AND PLACE IT IN THE BAG". Even I could read the instructions on the screen from six feet behind him. He paused, held up a bottle of urine and asked the assistant, "What do I do with this?"

"Just scan it sir and put it in the carrier bag."

He nodded slowly and placed the bottle in the bag. I stood there and watched as the queue for the human tills went down, but not in proportion to the shopping in the basket of the man in front of me. The same assistant walked up and smiled brightly. "It might be quicker if you went over there," she said, indicating the now non-existent queue.

Anger meter = anger meter +3.

Back in the car, I glared at the tail-lights of the moron parked two inches from my front bumper, squeezing into a space that only existed in his tiny bereft-of-intelligence mind. I turned my headlights on, hoping against hope that the bull-necked, shaven-headed thug would pull forward a few inches to let me get out. I was still out of luck.

Furiously turning the steering wheel back and forth, I eventually made it out of the space, glaring at him from the safety of my car. If I had possessed a shotgun, murder would have been added to GBH for me that day. Maybe not murder though, maybe manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

As I sit here typing this now, I feel the anger has totally dissipated. Writing is definitely cathartic, and in this instance Agnes, you were right.


Naughty but Nice...

Another meme crosses my path, this time from Karen

Here are the rules:
1. Describe your earliest memory where this memory is clear, where clear means you can depict at least 3 details.
2. Give an estimate of how old you were at this age.
3. Tag 5 other bloggers with this meme.

My earliest, vivid memory revolves around a day off play school when I was about 3-4 years old due to being sick. I seemed to suffer with tonsilitis on a permanent basis as a youngster, and only got better once the rotten things were removed when I was 14.

This particular day, I was well on the road to recovery and thus, exceptionally bored. Play school was boring, too, but at least they served really nice blackcurrant juice there which my mother refused to purchase. I had retired to my bedroom upstairs armed with my dolls and simply couldn't be fagged making Tiny Tears wee so I could change her nappy again. As my brother had also shaved her head and drawn tattoos on her backside, it was difficult to feel much love for her any more - I am rather fickle with my love...

My bedroom furniture included a deep drawer dressing table. If I needed a boat or other form of transport for my dolls, the clothes would come out and a deep drawer fitted the bill perfectly. They were also watertight.

As I was sick, in my egocentric state, I assumed other things in my life weren't too chipper either. And that included the cat, Tibby. Tibby was one of the most vicious felines you could ever have the misfortune to cross, but that didn't stop me attempting to make her love me. Admittedly, I often went about it the wrong way, but my intentions were good.

So, I went on a Tibby hunt and to her great fear, found her, tucked her under my arm and manhandled her upstairs. There, she shot under my bed, hissing and growling and waiting for the next instalment in her own personal nightmare. It didn't take long...

I plodded downstairs, armed with the drawer, filled it with water and took it back upstairs. I then returned downstairs and got my medicine from the fridge and a teaspoon. If I was sick, Tibby was likely to be sick, too, and therefore required some medication.

Tibby was dragged from under the bed, bringing half the carpet with her as she embedded her claws into the pile and was unceremoniously plonked into a drawer of freezing cold water for her bath. Despite the raking she gave me, I held her down firm, and started to 'wash' her. She didn't like it, and my hands were getting a little bit sore from the gashes, bites and the blood dripping into the water. This confirmed it for me: she was definitely ill and required urgent medical treatment.

As I reached for the pseudoephedrine (great for making crystal meth, folks!) she returned to her own corner of hell under the bed and I undid the bottle cap. Back out she was dragged, clamped under my arm, and a teaspoon of bright pink medicine forced into her wailing mouth. Bad move, Tibby - keep your mouth shut around a bored child.

At this point, my mother burst in to the bedroom to spoil my fun, Tibby saw her chance of escape and a bottle of Sudafed went flying as I jumped out of my skin at the roar of, "WHAT ON EARTH ARE YOU DOING TO THAT BLOODY CAT?!". My insistence that Tibby had caught tonsilitis from me didn't wash with Mother, I got the hiding of my life and was forced to stay in my room until my father returned from work.

Not only did Mother inform my father, she also told my older brother who is a peaceable, tree-hugging, hippy animal lover if ever there was one, and he came in to give me a rare kicking. I retaliated by battering him with my vandalised Tiny Tears.

Tibby and I never saw eye to eye after this incident and to get her own back, she took to lying in wait for me as I walked past her and raking me with her claws. She was always too fast for me to catch again so I just hexed her in my head.

They say only the good die young. Tibby was 17 when she snuffed it...

I shan't tag anyone for this meme, but be my guest to continue it should you wish.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Bored to Tears...

I stumbled across a strange little website (it's probably massive, actually) called Jyte this morning whilst attempting some research. (I honestly wasn't trying to find the website Matt and I encountered once where a white woman was taken by two black men from both ends. That research was over and done with long ago...) Jyte appears to be a type of polling/claim forum where one uploads a statement and waits for visitors to agree (thumbs up) or disagree (thumbs down). This particular statement claimed that people who say they are bored are, in themselves, boring. I have heard this many a time from the ex who fires it at daughters #1 and 2 when they want him to entertain them and he wants to watch the rugby; thus I have always deemed it to be of the ex's making.

However, to find that somebody else thinks this, too, was a bit disconcerting. You see, I have a terribly low boredom threshold at times. And the trouble is, when I am bored, I become either very constructive, or very destructive, depending on my mood. Many a time, the ex would return from one of his boozy nights out and I would have mooched around the villa, wondering what to do with myself (no TV, only pirate videos, and dark at 7pm) and suddenly the paint on the walls in the living room had changed colour (constructive); the furniture had altered position to become more symmetrical with the marble pattern on the floor (constructive); or his underpants and socks had been cleared out (destructive).

I am actually able to tell when my boredom limits are about to be reached. I become a bit restless, narky and then suddenly, as if a switch has been flicked on, I am completely disinterested from thereonin. This happened to me quite vividly whilst studying for an accountancy A level at night school, and continued whilst studying for the professional Taxation exams through a former employer, years ago. I have claimed ever since that accountants must have had either a charisma bypass or a frontal labotomy in order to do their job.

Charles Parsnip asked me one night if I felt that my life was fulfilling, and I replied that, yes, I found it very full and very exciting. And that was sort of true. But it's the little things in life which I can find unutterably dull, such as explaining for the nth time to daughter #2 who has interrupted a film 200 times in the first five minutes wanting to know the ending that I have never seen the film either, So. I. Just. Don't. Know. Please. Shut. Up. (She is now on her guard that when I tell her to be quiet through gritted teeth, the masking tape is about to come out. And she really doesn't want that...)

When these things happen, the switch flicks instantly. And I am then officially bored.

I think a lot of people without a technological bent would find my job very boring - indeed, my work colleagues have now labelled me the Geeky Freak which came about because I knew how to create é by pressing ALT 0233. And I was only trying to help one of them write Michael Boublé for her Secret Santa list. Ingrates...So, whenever a techie question comes up, there's a piping chorus of Ask The Boring Geek! Thankfully, I am pretty quick with the acerbic come-backs so they are left in no doubt that, boring my job may be, when it comes to put-downs, I leave my geekery far behind!

I do, however, find many minor aspects of my day deadly boring. Such as when my work colleagues analyse the latest goings-on in a dreadful soap opera called Hollyoaks, or when they are discussing which Z-list celebrity has got herself knocked up with another equally untalented Z-list celebrity. I also found, yesterday, talk of how the Secret Santa presents would not be recognised by putting the present in a bag, within a bag, in a black bin liner, with printed labels (so nobody could recognise anyone's handwriting), left in the stock room and the boss alerted by secure transmitter via Interpol deadly dull...At the time, I was attempting to run some link checks on our website in the hope of finding massive errors so we could leave these particular web developers and take our business elsewhere. Listening to the cackling, giggling, whining and Carol singing left me so distracted and drained my IQ so rapidly that I stalked out of the office for an illegal cigarette. I say illegal because I had only put one out about 15 minutes previous and a second in that space of time was taking the p*ss somewhat. Well, the boss wasn't in...

Other things which bore me are receiving credit card bills, final demands, and cold calls from salesmen desperate for me to change my internet service provider. Because they bore me so much, I decide to have a bit of fun with the latter and feign interest, let them run right through their spiel, making encouraging Ooh-ing noises to them and then inform them right at the end that I don't possess a PC. This really angers them and some, you can tell, if they were in front of me at that point, would probably give me a couple of black eyes. Ah well, such is life.

Conversations I have endured which have made my eyes glaze over have generally happened on internet dates and which I have shared with you on many an occasion. However, my mother can talk a glass eye to sleep, too, when she gets on to her favourite topic of What Are We Having For Dinner? This starts just before breakfast, continues through the muesli and toast, onto elevenses and right up to lunch when the decision is finally made, the meat brought out from the freezer and left to defrost on the work top. The debate then focusses on which vegetables can accompany aforesaid meat, what time dinner will be served, and will it be ready on time. Let me just put you in the picture here: this little scenario happens every day. And it happens even more when she has decided that I need some company so she is stopping with me for a few days. I generally feel the life blood slipping away from me and inform her that I will be eating Ryvita as I am on a diet and she can therefore help herself to whatever is in the house.

So, does my low boredom threshold make me a boring person? I'd like to think not and consider that I simply find the mundane doesn't fire off my synapses like it does for others.

Well, if I am being honest with you, outlining all these dull, ghastly things has now bored me. So, I shall head off and go and do something less boring instead. Like rearrange my collection of empty cat food cans or watch some paint dry. Don't let yourself get bored and become destructive like I do. Telephone a car showroom and ask for the specs on all the sports cars, arrange lots of test drives and then reveal that you are only 16 and haven't yet passed your driving test. It'll set you up for the day...