Friday, December 29, 2006

The boys are still happily enjoying their presents. Video-games are all-absorbing! Meanwhile Super-Spouse got a new computer game from the boys, a book from me, and a book from my parents – so for much of the time, all has been quiet upstairs, and I’ve had downstairs to myself. I’m not complaining! Indeed, I borrowed a book about Mother Teresa from the local library, and it has been very pleasant to sit and read quietly without disturbance. You’d be amazed at how quiet our house can be!

Ocarina-kid's vocabulary continues to amaze us. He's only 8 years old. Just before Christmas he confided in Super-Spouse that he was “struggling to contain himself”. The other day, he wanted to know what “consecutive” meant. And then, when he was phoning a school-friend, he turned to me and calmly asked, “how about a little privacy, Mum?” In other words, buzz off!

If his vocabulary is as good as, or better than Viola-Kid's (who is reading books a good 2 years ahead of his age), then our eight-year old's vocabulary must, by inference, be as good as the average 12 or 13 year old. Scary! His class-teacher last year said that some people were all-rounders, whilst others were strong on language or numbers. Ocarina-Kid is clearly strong on language!

In the circumstances, you’ll be relieved to hear that he still believes in Santa (whilst accepting that Santa puts all purchases on Mum’s credit card), and the tooth-fairy. (The fairy visited our house last night, and this means we’re one tooth closer to Ocarina-Kid having enough big teeth to start the saxophone! Even when he has the teeth, I fear his fingers might be too small for a good while yet.)

Viola-Kid has been getting to sleep very, very late this holiday. I don’t know what causes him to stay awake even when he went to bed later than usual. However, he beat his all-time record this morning – I had to waken him just after noon! I don’t think he’s twigged that he actually missed breakfast altogether. We had sausage, beans and toast - if anyone asks, it was brunch!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Yesterday (Saturday) saw me setting out bright and early with Ocarina-Kid to fetch his new glasses from the optician.

We also paid a cheque into the bank, and bought potatoes and carrots from a city centre supermarket, since Asda didn't have any at 1.45 am yesterday morning.

Yes, I did say 1.45 am. I left the house at midnight to do my weekly supermarket shop. Asda was going like a fairground. It was only j-u-s-t thinning out when I left at 1.45 am, and I'd had to queue long enough at the checkout before that! The poor shelf-stackers couldn't get their crates down the aisles for shoppers. I was sorry for them!

Anyway, I got to bed at 3 am and got up at 8 am, so we could go into town smartish and get it over with. Which we did.

I hadn't been home long before Cello-Kid asked (politely) if we could go and buy an internet adapter for their Nintendo DS consoles. "Where?", I asked. There was no way I was driving to Braehead shopping centre, because it would be mobbed. So, to be fair, he phoned round all the video game shops in the city centre. Found an adapter, and arranged for it to be kept aside. What did we do yesterday afternoon? Back to town by subway, to collect the adapter. Three happy boys, one exhausted Mum. I snoozed for most of the evening. Trying to put a clean duvet-cover on Ocarina-Kid's duvet, I was so ham-fisted that SuperSpouse told me firmly to "get a grip". But that was just the problem - I couldn't get a grip. I was sleepy, and uncoordinated, and my arms ached. I'm sure Christmas isn't meant to be so exhausting.

This afternoon, we went to see "Happy Feet", which was a frivolous piece of nonsense but raised chuckles all round. Now, SuperSpouse has had his own evening nap, prior to doing whatever he and the boys need to organise. I was temporarily shut in the kitchen to keep me out of the way. Sadly, I had already "made" my Yuletide log. (Asda made it, whilst I butter-iced and decorated it.) So, I phoned home to fill in the time.

They're bringing my father from his stroke rehabilitation centre to my brother's house for Christmas lunch tomorrow. I hope it goes okay. It's four hundred miles away, so I won't be there! In the New Year, they plan to send my father home. Doubly incontinent, for a 76-year old woman to care for 23.5 hours a day - because he allegedly doesn't meet the criteria for a nursing home. As Mum said, he has had six mini-strokes, has only one kidney and no pituitary gland, has prostate cancer and double-incontinence. What criteria do they need?!

And I'm four hundred miles away, unable to do much to help because I am a full-time working mum with a husband and three young kids. The trouble is, society has changed. When you married young and had your kids young, and didn't go out to work, then you had more time to look after your elderly relatives. I married later, had my kids much later, and work 9 to 5. I have to - we'd be on benefits otherwise!

Friday, December 22, 2006

My car had its MOT test yesterday. The old lady passed with flying colours. I took the car back to park it in Govan, went to work on the Subway, and did a little shopping after work before heading home. Time to relax? Goodness, no! Five minutes later I was tearing across to the University Library to renew a book that was already a little overdue - then rushed to Toys 'R' Us and Asda. The car was running fine.

Today, I needed to take the car to town so I could go to the osteopath after work. The car made it to the Clyde Tunnel approach. Someone "flashed" me in, so I released the clutch ...

Eurghh! Ahem! Splutter!

Silly me - I must have been in too high a gear. But no - it did it again, then again. By this time I was IN the tunnel. It was snap-decision time. I decided to go to the Wizards of Finnieston rather than to work, and it was my good luck that the car spluttered and coughed but didn't stall until I turned in down the lane where the Wizards live. Even more good luck was to follow. It was the coil pack - they had a spare one - and it was fitted in ten minutes flat. Is that lucky or more than lucky?

I tell you, it's a good thing I did my Christmas shopping using public transport this week - or I could have broken down in the middle of the Braehead Christmas parking nightmare. As it was, I got to work half an hour late, somewhat stressed and ready for a cuppa, but otherwise okay. Made it to the osteopath, and am home, trying to relax.

Relaxation? What's that!

My own letter to Santa included wishes for:-
  • Peace and quiet
  • Nae quarrelling
  • A tidy house

Please, please, dear Santa, if I can just have those three things ...

A propos of the Wizard of Finnieston, you might be interested to know that there appears to be a Piano Wizard there as well as a Citroen Wizard. Check this out!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I'm spending my days rushing between work (gotta finish that project this week or else!) and chasing Santa. How I wish that guy would stop putting things on my credit card!

This evening, I took two little boys shopping for Big Brother's present - we went to G4 in the Buchanan Galleries.

"Why can't we go to Braehead in the car?"

"Won't get parked."

Pause. Thoughtfully, "It was easy when we could go to Toys 'R' Us - but now he's too big ..."

So, with minimum protest, we took the Subway. Not too many people on the train, not too many people in Buchanan Galleries. No-one told the boys off for fiddling and playing with all the interesting gadgets on display.

Home again, chased the boys to get ready for bed - and wrapped all but one of the presents lying hidden in odd corners. That one needs batteries ...

I've pondered what Santa will be delivering, and I've updated my shopping list.

NOW! I might spend 15 minutes planning this research paper! (At 23.15 pm? Now you know I'm crackers.)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

About 50 cards and 4 wrapped gifts later ... I got to bed at 1.30 am this morning. That's the spirit of Christmas ...?

Enjoy this story that a friend sent me:-

The Weight of a Burden
A lecturer, when explaining stress management to an audience, raised a glass of water and asked, "How heavy is this glass of water?"

Answers called out ranged from 20g to 500g.

The lecturer replied, "The absolute weight doesn't matter. It depends on how long you try to hold it. If I hold it for a minute, that's not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you'll have to call an ambulance. In each case, it's the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes."

He continued, "And that's the way it is with stress management. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won't be able to carry on. As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we're refreshed, we can carry on with the burden."

"Before you return home tonight, put the burden of work down. Don't carry it home. You can pick it up tomorrow. Whatever burdens you're carrying now, let them down for a moment if you can."

Author Unknown

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Church this morning, a last choir-practice before our Big Event this evening, then home to lunch.

"Mum? Are you doing anything this afternoon? Can we go to the pictures."

Snarl. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr! I wanted to go to Braehead to start getting the 22 Christmas presents remaining on my list. Indeed, I was going to go, and there wasn't time to go to the pictures. (Apart from his having been to France, Xscape AND LaserQuest in the past nine days.)

I went to the bus-stop (to avoid the parking problem). Waited 25 minutes - no bus, just loads of football supporters. Went home, disconsolate.

I am happy to announce that I bought about half of the gifts, online. I still have to go to work (yes, boring, I know), go and hear Cello-kids school Christmas concert, go carol-singing at an old folks' home, do some research (ha-ha! just when?) and keep the house going. Quite when I'll finish the Christmas shopping is a moot point.

But tonight - yes, TONIGHT, now that I've seen the Christmas Carol Service to a successful conclusion - I have to write those Christmas cards. And I have to write the annual circular letter first. 'Scuse me, folks ...

(Did someone say something about going to the cinema? Not this side of Christmas.)

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Our kids ought to have signs on their bedroom doors. A bit like car-parks, only in their case, it's

Pay and Convey

Superspouse says we must be the only taxi-service that pays the passengers before they get out at their destination.

On Thursday morning, Cello-Kid (having cost something over £300 for a French shopping weekend with the school) needed more cash. We shuffled around what we had and sent him off with what he said he needed. But as he got out of the car, he announced they were going out that evening, so he'd need still more. Right, fine. I don't think I've even been told where they eventually went!

And this is the first year that we're finding Christmas outings are costing Megabucks, not just the odd quid here or there. What with Xscape snow-boarding last night, and tonight Laser-Questing then McDonald's, there seems to be no end to it all. And that's leaving aside anything the younger boys are invited to. They're low-maintenance by comparison!

Last night, Cello-Kid innocently asked if I was doing anything today, as he wanted a haircut. Spluttering over our spaghetti, SuperSpouse and I exchanged knowing glances.

"Well, there's Ocarina-Kid's optician's appointment, Viola-Kid's orchestra practice, picking up a prescription, rushing to the jeweller with a broken ring, dropping off a present at one of the godmother's, ferrying two boys to a Sunday-school party, and buying one secret-Santa gift and three gifts for the church gift service ...and cooking tea. No, I can't say I've got much on. Not so as you'd notice, or anything ..."

I've done the recycling project with Ocarina-Kid (we made night-light holders out of a cereal packet, jam-jars, aluminium foil, newspaper and sequins), and now it's his bathtime. Then I have to start writing Christmas cards.

I had a good research-based day yesterday, but it already feels a long while ago...

Monday, December 11, 2006

From: PseudoSupermum
Sent: 10 December 2006 21:48 PM
To: Helpdesk (Traidcraft)
Subject: Christmas cake - help!

If I ordered a cake tomorrow (Monday 11th), is there any chance it would arrive before Christmas?



(Panicking Mum!)


From: Helpdesk (Traidcraft)
To: PseudoSupermum
Sent: Monday, December 11, 2006 10:43 AM
Subject: RE: Christmas cake - help!

Yes you will get it before christmas.


Help Desk


Phew! I can breathe again. Three cheers for Traidcraft.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

  • Cello repaired.
  • Mother Teresa biography borrowed from local library.
  • Emailed Traidcraft to see if I can order a cake online and get it before Christmas!
  • Rest of Christmas? Don't ask.
  • Other tasks? Oh, come on! It's only a day since my last blog post ...

Friday, December 08, 2006

Earlier this week, I drew a chart - showing me all the things I had to do this month. My middle boy took one look, and was mighty impressed.

"Ooh, Mum - a Mind Map!"

I've gone one further - it's now a beautiful Word document with lots of text boxes, colour-infills, and lines. But how am I getting on with the tasks?

  1. Cello-Boy to France. Just saw him onto the coach, so that project is now underway.

  2. Younger boys to pantomime. One panto down, one to go. We took my Singaporean colleague to see the panto at work. She found it surprisingly "interactive". Yes, that's Scottish panto for you! They yelled and bawled at all the right places and some of the wrong ones.

  3. Car. Still got to get the lock fixed and the MOT booked.

  4. Special church service - nearly all sorted. I just need to find a biography of Mother Teresa tomorrow, preferably at the local library. Don't ask ...

  5. Music - still a few lessons to go before the Christmas holidays. And now, a cello to get fixed. The sound-post collapsed inside the instrument. I could do without this!

  6. School - recycling project for no.3 son.

  7. Research - er, just when do I fit it in? Conference paper to write by the end of the year, too.

  8. Christmas ...

Groan! Let's try again.

  1. Christmas - cards, letters, presents, tree, other ornaments and decorations, bake cake, supermarket shopping, Christmas lunch and tea, Santa's wishlists ...

  2. Nervous breakdown - on hold until the new year. My horoscope this evening warned me not to overdo things, or I'd collapse under the strain. So, let's get this straight - one-twelfth of the British population are going to take special care not to overdo things. Would that be around 2% of the men and 2% of the women in the country? No, can't be right. 4% of the men, surely ...
Image from, as I have no idea how to turn a word document into a pdf or jpg.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Culinary Chaos in the Cook-house

It's sad, isn't it? Some kids have a Jamie Oliver, a Nigella Lawson or a Gordon Ramsay for a parent. Lucky them! If the domestic goddesses were electing a new member to join them, I'd be an instant reject. It's not just that I don't LOOK the part - I don't COOK it either.

It's a miserable, wet, dreich Scottish Sunday afternoon, but Pseudo-Supermum decided to spoil the family. She'd cook toad in the hole, followed by a real rice pudding. (They haven't tried rice pudding since they were toddlers, so it didn't seem unreasonable to invite them to try it.)

The Toad rose. The Pudding flopped.

The recipe told me to bake in a very hot oven (230 C or 450 F) for 10-15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 140 C or 275 F and bake for a further hour or so. Well, I needed the cooker to stay hot for the Toad, so I pre-heated the top oven to the lower temperature and transferred the pudding after 15 minutes. Wrong, wrong, WRONG!!! It was nowhere near done, an hour later. Really not done another 15 minutes after that. And only just done 15 more minutes later.

Ocarina kid pronounced, with childlike logic, "Well, I don't know what you did to it, but you're rubbish at it." True. He had a yoghourt for his honesty.

The annoying thing is that I used my all-time favourite cook-book - the one I trust most. I've just consulted the pudding rice packet. It tells me to heat the oven to 150 C or 300 F, and bake for 1.5 to 2 hours at the one temperature. That's somewhat different. I think I went wrong by moving from hot to cool oven, rather than letting the oven cool down to the required temperature - which would have kept it hotter for a good bit longer. So the rice didn't have a chance to soften at the outset.

As for Super-Spouse's shopping trip? It went like a dream. Apart from, "I saw you'd forgotten potatoes, so I bought some." You can guess the end-result. We had quite a lot of spuds at 9 am this morning, but we have a whole lot more now ...

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Writing a shopping list for someone else to follow

You know, it's not easy. SuperSpouse offered to do the shopping for me tomorrow. I re-wrote my shopping list to reflect the aisles more closely. And then annotated the list to say exactly what I meant. So, it ended up a bit like this:-

  • Eggs –10 or 12. British, as our chickens vaccinated against salmonella
  • Bread – 4 loaves, medium sliced, anything that’s special offer on multi-buy!
  • Beefburgers, 12 Bird’s Eye original. NOT quarter-pounders
  • All Brain Crunchy Oatbakes – money-off voucher attached!!
  • Big pack of something whole-grain for boys – NOT silly little pack of gimmicky sugary junk cereal!

Have you ever heard of a husband rest-room? Take a look at this link, from the Far East. Sounds cool, doesn't it?

I can't wait to hear whether my list was helpful or bloody infuriating! Meanwhile, I have this big diagram with all the stuff I think I have to remember to do this month - leaving out work, and normal household/ family routines. No.2 son's eyes lit up. "Ooh, Mum - a MIND MAP!" I've obviously gone up in his estimation...

Friday, December 01, 2006


My poor parents are having a tough time of it at present. Dad's still in hospital after another stroke. Mum has been managing a house-move by herself. The buyer of the family home wanted her out by today, or he threatened the sale was off. (That gave her just 2 weeks to finish packing and arrange all that a move entails.) Then he said he'd give her another week if she paid him £5000, cash. Yeah, right! He didn't get it.

Mum is stressed to the max - and this is the woman who copes admirably with anything and everything. Her sister has been staying with her this week, thankfully. But at the end of their long and difficult day, they had a meal round with my brother and his family - then Mum fell asleep in her chair. Poor thing!

Meanwhile, back in Scotland - a woman drove into the back of me this evening. She went through a red light and hit my stationary car. The only good thing is - my car escaped virtually unscathed. (At least, I've only inspected it in the rain in the dark, but there's just a tiny bit cracked beneath the bumper.) You should see her bonnet, though.

I'm knackered. SuperSpouse is just back from a concert some miles away. Time for a spot of supper, then bed.

Next week, things get even more fraught - the carers are on strike at Cello-Boy's hall of residence, so he has to commute to school each day. It could get hairy, trying to ensure everyone is at the right place at the right time. And fulfilling work obligations is merely one of the conundrums to be faced!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

I'll start where I left off - with Cello-Kid's cake.

So - the harmony teacher was leaving, and suggested all the kids should have a cake-baking contest. The fact that half of them live in residence, not at home, didn't seem to have occurred to anyone. Could they ALL have made cakes in the residence kitchenette this evening? Precisely.

We baked our cake late on Sunday night. I froze it.

This morning (Tuesday), I got a phone-call - very early.

"Mum - you're going to kill me!"
"Try me."
"See, that cake we baked?"
"Well, the teacher isn't leaving after all, and ...."

After a very hectic day today, I bought a large jar of strawberry jam on the way home. Before I went out again this evening, I sandwiched together the two halves of the now-defrosted cake. And took it to the residence, so it could be taken to school tomorrow.

On top of that cake is a piece of kitchen-roll, with the words, "I was conned!" (Or, in Glaswegian, "Ah wiz conned.")

You have to see the funny side of it, though. The teacher who was leaving suddenly had a Damascus moment, realised he was going to miss the kids too much, and changed his mind. He's apparently now going to spend his time commuting between his OLD job and his NEW one. I presume both always were intended to be part-time, or he'll never sit still.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Stressed to the max!

I have only two observations to make. You know those buns I made for the school "home-baking" stall?

What did my darling family bring back from the Christmas Fayre? A pack of 12 Traditional Fairy Cakes from Sherwood Forest Bakeries, sell-by date 3rd March '07. Clearly just as fresh as the ones I'd baked ...

This evening I was playing at church, so at 17.40 I started to get ready to go out.

"Oh, Mum! We're having a baking contest for our music harmony teacher." (Eh? Yes, right!) "So could you nip into the supermarket and buy a packet of quick cake-mix so I can make a cake?"

At 7.56 pm on a Sunday, Morrisons were closing. Pausing only to note that there was a nail in my front tyre which might mean a flat tyre in the morning, I drove home without a quick cake-mix.

Supervised the making of a cake from scratch, cooled the two halves and froze them. To be dealt with.

You've absolutely no idea the chaos I am surrounded by. And that's nothing to the chaos in my head. It is 21.58 and I have at least four hours' research to do, but I don't somehow see myself lasting until 2 am. So - er - if I have to get a flat tyre repaired, AND go to the osteopath, AND go to the orthdontist, AND get to work for 1 pm (not possible), AND work until 8.30 pm tomorrow night, what are my chances of getting that abstract written for the Bristol conference which takes place after Christmas...?

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Thursday saw me getting all my work totally up to date, so I could fly down to visit my family in Norwich with a clear conscience on Friday.

I had choir-practice on Thursday evening, nipped in to the supermarket for baking ingredients, and arrived back home in pouring rain. Got a neighbour to babysit while I ran the babysitter home. Baked buns for the school Christmas Fayre, and a cake for the family. (My sons set great store by the fact that their mum does real “home-baking” for the stall, rather than raiding Iceland at 8.45 am. Who’s the sensible mum, though? Not me!)

Rang my mother from the airport on Friday morning to learn that Dad, who has been hospitalised for 6 weeks already, had just suffered another mini-stroke, the day before his 80th birthday. There would be no birthday meal at our local restaurant - medical permission was cancelled!

The next 24 hours passed in a whir. I visited Dad twice. The second time, I had to persuade my sister to stop at a garage for oil, or we’d have been stranded in deepest, darkest Norfolk in the middle of the night. Her car took nearly 3 bottles of oil - I shivered at the thought of what might have been!

Every time I see my Dad, I'm painfully aware it could be the last. Yesterday evening I tucked him up in bed and kissed him goodbye - the wheel turns full circle. Is it REALLY all those years since I was the one being tucked up at bedtime?

(It's hard to believe that it's 45 years since he tucked a three-year old up in bed after having demonstrated, practically, why it wasn't a good idea to drink orange squash then milk in close succession. You try mixing the two together, and see if its very appearance doesn't turn your stomach! Of all the bedtimes, the funniest occasions stick in one's memory. Another vivid memory is his bedtime stories - of Esmerelda and the flying carpet, or the wicked witch who disappeared when a little boy got all the villagers to throw water at her.)

Saturday evening - I should be at a concert. I’m too d… knackered! I did the supermarket run and am about to do my nails. That’s my idea of indulgence. It's rather sad, isn't it?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A better day

It was necessary to get to grips with new blogging software at work, as we're adopting, as opposed to - which I've used for several years now.

I created a new weblog for experimental purposes. Introducing ... Multi-taskers Anonymous.

I hasten to add, this is just a trivial blog while I get the hang of wordpress. It's not the one I'll eventually set up! I just want to compare functionality, ease of use, and what all the different tabs and buttons do.

I phoned the outdoor sports shop first thing this morning and got them to leave aside a bigger jacket - so I was able to pick it up at lunchtime. No.2 son is ecstatic. It's plenty big enough - the sleeves are actually too big, but he'll grow into it. And it has a removable fleecy lining so he can wear it in the summer as a rain-jacket, too. Success!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Ever had a Bad Shopping Day?

Honestly, I wasn't even Christmas shopping. I was just getting a few things in my lunch-break.

  • I needed an 80th birthday present for my father, who has been in hospital over a month after suffering a stroke. Mother told me he needed jog-pants. I found some, perfectly suitable. Bought them, and some other things to make the parcel more exciting. Then went on my next errand.
  • A waterproof, cosy winter jacket for no.2 son. He is 10. The choice was a jacket for 9-10 years, or 11-12 years. The latter looked much too big, so I took the former.

Back to work - where I cried at the thought of my father, a retired school-teacher and minister, reduced to shuffling around in jog-pants.

And eventually, home at the end of the day - to discover that the 9-10 jacket is too tight. I'll have to take it back. Bother!

  • This evening I nipped into Asda to buy a birthday card. Surely I couldn't get that wrong! But I did. I found a lovely card, not humorous, just tasteful - after all, you can't buy a jokey card about getting old, when someone is in a stroke rehabilitation ward - however, it wasn't until I got home that I realised I hadn't got an envelope with it. And it wasn't a cheap card. My fault, of course, but the till assistant didn't notice either. Annoying as this is, it seems a bit drastic to drive all the way back to to Asda at 10.20 pm, to claim my envelope. I've found one that j-u-s-t fits, so that will have to do, unless Super-Spouse can find something better.

My horoscope didn't say "this hasn't been your day" - but it might as well have done!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Don't you just love wet Sunday afternoon shopping outings?

I'm afraid I don't! However, it was necessary to buy a new lunchbox, so out we went, and came back with a nice Doctor Who one. Along with sugar-free flavoured spring water, cheese chunks and cheese strings for no.1 son, who is realising too late that there are dietary restrictions when you get an orthodontic brace!

Someone show me a website with "healthy, sugar-free snacks for people who wear braces", please!

Talking of dentists, let me give you a piece of advice. If you're attending an osteopath for neck tension, do NOT go straight from the osteopath to the dentist. I had to have a filling replaced. Reclined in the dreaded chair, opened wide for the injection, and - Zing! (or should that be Ping!?) Every last ounce of tension returned, just like that, all at once. Do I feel better for going to the osteopath this time? No, I don't. But I've learned a valuable lesson.

image from

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Stressful times ...
Things aren't going too well in our house at the moment. Or should I add, it's not what's going on in the house, so much as what's happening to the people who live there.

Overstressed, I flung a wooden spoon into the washing-up bowl last night. You wouldn't think that would hurt either the spoon or the bowl, now would you?! Luckily, it wasn't hard to replace a bowl. The lady in Asda looked at me kind of strangely when I told the new bowl solemnly that it was about to go into a battle zone ...

But I can assure you that it looked me in the eye and assured me that it was more than equal to the task. And strode forth bravely, without a care in the world. I'll have to stick to flinging dishcloths, in future. (I still have memories of my mother being so enraged at Dad that she flung a wet dishcloth at him. Scary stuff! I had such a traumatic childhood.)

Further web rage!

Just who does "Maria McGinnis" think she is, to be advising me, "Make yuorself more attractive to others". [Yes, she did say "yuorself".] Maria - take a piece of advice from me, now. Make YUORself more attractive to others and go get a life away from sending futile spams to clog up the internet. Or throw YUORself off the nearest high-rise building!

And it gets worse. Later the same day, Lois Roberts tells me summer is almost here, so I must "be raedy", and Cary Allison tells me three times over that I should "Watcht he pounds disappear". AAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagh!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Web Rage!!!!!!!!!!!!

Don't you hate them? The spam emails that announce, "We can help you lose weight!"

(or wieght or weiht or weigt or any other misspelling that enables them to dodge your spam-blocker)

THEY don't know me. THEY haven't even seen me. THEY don't know whether I want to lose weight, and frankly, if I wanted to lose weight then I'd sort it out all by myself. Not with THEIR help. So someone, somewhere sits there assuming that we all want to lose weight and will therefore open their stupid spam.

There should be a way of bouncing their infuriating, unhealthy spam back. Preferably down the senders' throats. And if they choke on them, well, they deserve it!

When, oh when will someone devise a way of ensnaring spammers and dealing with them in an appropriate way?

Meanwhile - let's have another chocolate, enjoy life a little and not be made to feel guilty for indulging ourselves!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Our middle son is a hypochondriac - or should that be, just a humbug!

In twenty-four hours, this fit, healthy child with an equally healthy appetite has had:-

  • a cough

  • a headache

  • sore eyes

  • sore legs

  • a pain in the chest

  • a failed attempt to throw up!

I don't think he understands about "the boy who cried 'Wolf!'", though we do. Are we going to rush to the doctor? Probably not. Are we not giving him enough attention? Well, I'm pretty sure we pay all three boys plenty of attention.

So - watch this space. My cure for all ills is either an indigestion tablet, or a spoonful of Calpol - or an early night. He got the early night this time!

Friday, November 10, 2006

I'm a convert!

To what? I've visited an osteopath for the first time ever, today. Wow!

Years ago, when I was expecting the boys, I was bothered with carpal tunnel syndrome. It never totally went away, but up until fairly recently, it hasn't been much bother. Waking up with numb, tingly fingers became normal. The aching arms were a bit more bothersome, but it wore off quickly enough once I was out of bed and moving around. And the pins-and-needles feeling was only really triggered by carrying a heavy bag - or a laptop! (That was easily solved - I got a case that I could wear as a backpack.)

However, recently my fingers have been numb, tingly and burning nearly all the time. My arms have ached more. I've even resorted to pain-relief. And, eventually conceding to myself that it wasn't going to get better unless I did something about it, I went to my GP, who promised to refer me to the orthopaedic specialists at our local hospital.

The National Health Service is a wonderful facility, most of the time, and if you have a crisis, they really rise to the occasion. But for non-emergencies, you can wait for ages.

Speaking to a colleague the other day, she recommended her osteopath. I phoned up yesterday, and got an appointment today. I do believe she has made a difference already. I may not have carpal tunnel syndrome, but extreme tension in my neck and shoulders. Indeed, this may be causing my tension headaches, too. Whatever the cause - I'll be going back - oh yes, I'll be back!

I have some simple exercises to do at home meanwhile. If it helps as much as the treatment helped, then I won't forget to do them.

Oh, happy days ...

Sunday, November 05, 2006


SuperSpouse is out all day today, too. And the two bigger boys are due back from their respective sleepovers any minute now. That left me and Ocarina-Kid to our own devices all day.

We went to church. We came home, and I made soup. (Yes, made it. From scratch.) Supervised homework while the soup simmered, then went back to the kitchen to liquidize it. It is too easy to knock the on/off switch. Guess who did it? With scalding hot tomato soup. It went everywhere, including my own bare arms.

We went swimming after lunch - I think Ocarina-Kid enjoyed having Mum to himself for a change. All was calm and peaceful, until ...

Both boys are home again - within 60 seconds of each other. And the bickering started immediately.
Give me strength!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


It was just a normal Saturday ... only with more in it. SuperSpouse was out all day, so this is what I did:-

  • Glasgow to Paisley for Viola-Kid's orchestra
  • And home again, to do the ironing
  • Glasgow to Paisley to collect Viola-Kid, with the other two along for the ride
  • Paisley to Milngavie to collect Cello-Boy's prize book from the bookshop
  • Milngavie McDonalds. Before you accuse me of being a Bad Mother, think of what you'd have done to feed your kids in the middle of a day like this!
  • Milngavie to Partick for Viola-Kid's guitar lesson
  • Partick back home to pack bags for the older two to go to sleepovers
  • Glasgow to Paisley to deposit two boys in different parts of Paisley
  • Home again. Prepare casserole in 10 minutes flat, and stick it in the oven
  • Guzzle pork casserole. NB this is Real Food prepared from scratch by my own fair hand
  • Back to Paisley with SuperSpouse and Ocarina-Kid, for a fireworks display
  • Finally, home again. Got Ocarina-Kid to bed then opened a text-book. By this time my headache was so bad that I just took strong painkillers and went to bed. I slept like a log.

Image source acknowledged with thanks

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!! Would you believe it? Remember that Ocarina kid messed up my car door a couple of weeks ago? And I bought that replacement lock, cost £148 (non-returnable), only for the blasted lock to sort itself out a week later, before the ordered replacement even arrived?

Well, guess what? He has gone and done it again. I could scream. You should have heard me scream. Actually, that's untrue. In good, middle-class maternal style, I just told him he was a very naughty boy - and asked how many times I was supposed to tell him before he'd remember what he was told. But inwardly, I screamed. Silently and with deep pain.

I think I'll leave it a week or so before I go running to get my new £148 lock fitted, just in case it sorts itself again...

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween - we've never been guising before.

Monday. A whole day stretched before me, with three appointments and an evening duty at work. Manageable? Why ever not!

  • Cello-Boy’s tooth extraction turned complicated – 50 minutes and a lot of skill by the dentist.
  • That meant I had five minutes to get to another part of town for my own doctor’s appointment. We arrived late. It didn’t matter – the doctor was later. Then I was referred to go and get blood samples taken. That was another hour down the tube!

Ah, well. We came home, Cello-Boy took Calpol and chilled in front of a video, and eventually I went and got a nice big tin of tomato soup to have for lunch.

  • Time to go out for his doctor’s appointment. That surgery is very high-tech. You log yourself in, and get advised electronically if the doctor is running late. He was estimated to be 18 minutes behind schedule. It was somewhat more than that.

Which is how I found myself returning home through the Clyde Tunnel at 4.30 pm, knowing I had to be at work at 5 pm. I dropped Cello-Boy off home with the rest of the family, and drove off to the underground.

  • I was under ten minutes late to work – not bad.

Home again by 9 pm, when I had tea then spoke to my mother on the phone. (They’re talking of sending Dad home from hospital. He can’t feed himself, wash himself, go to the bathroom … and mother is 76, organising a house-move all by herself. Send him home?)

Oh, I forgot. I also put a load of washing through, and did a bit of ironing and a couple of sewing repairs while I was in the house in between appointments.

“Did you phone the TV arial man? Why not?”, Super-Spouse asked this afternoon. Super-Spouse is under a lot of stress just now, so we’ll forgive him this indiscretion!!! Pseudo-Supermum feels quite stressed, too. Must be catching.

Images thanks to and

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

What do you do for a fancy-dress party that is strictly NOT a Halloween party? The boys couldn't think of any film or TV characters, until finally this morning I presented them with an ultimatum. The party is tomorrow. Decide NOW or you won't have a costume at all!

"We have light sabres", commented my youngest. Bingo! They would be brown gowned Jedi.

SuperSpouse instantly found a website telling me how to make the gowns: . The website owner is a genius - I made TWO gowns for under £9.00! And who is this inspired person? All I can tell you is what the banner says:-

" - The Projects of Steven DeGraeve"

No research has been done tonight - it's now 11 pm - but We have fancy-dress costumes!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

On Monday, I found myself in the park with six boys and a couple of baseball bats.

To be honest, they admitted themselves that they weren't much shakes at baseball. However, there's a little Jack Russell dog callled Jake which hangs around our neighbourhood. (The boys say he's a stray, but he wears a natty red collar and is in no way malnourished or uncared for.) Anyway, Jake played with the boys in the park. They threw sticks for him. They hung on branches and shook leaves - which got him very excited indeed. Then they played hide-and-seek, which interested him a lot less but gave them a lot of amusement. I took a book to read, but didn't get past the title-page. It was good to see them all having fun.

There's no further news about my Dad. Mum spoke to a nurse last night who said they weren't sure he had dislocated his shoulder (Excuse me? But you did an x-ray and manipulated the shoulder?). They thought he might have an urinary infection and had given him antibiotics. Mum was dubious about that, too. Waiting for news is worse than anything, because you are so powerless!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

My Dad (with my oldest nephew)

My father blacked out at 6 am this morning, and dislocated his shoulder as he fell. Already frail, his mobility is much impaired, suggesting another mini-stroke has occurred - we won't know more until the hospital doctors have assessed him in the morning. I'm in Glasgow - my family is in Norfolk. I was only down there a fortnight ago, and am booked to go back in five weeks. Who knows whether I'll be making another trip between now and then?

I'm not in the mood for blogging, but I wanted to ask for readers' thoughts and prayers for the next few days.

Thank you.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

You see this innocent-looking cooker? Butter wouldn't melt in its mouth, surely?

Well, that's what you think. Appliances in our house have minds of their own. Every morning, before breakfast, we put the boys' lunchboxes on the stone-cold cooker and get the packed lunches put together.

Today, however, my dressing-gown cord caught on the left-hand knob. A little later, there was a strange smell. I put it down to the sausage-roll that SuperSpouse had got out. (I'd noticed it was a day past its sell-by date, so I threw it away.) Viola-Kid had a lunch-box which I had just noticed was looking a bit sorry for itself - and within minutes it went from this ...

... to this, on the under-side.

Guess what I spent my lunch-break trying to replace? It's hard when a child is ten. All the kids' boxes were too babyish. Finally, I found an adult one and proudly took it home. Fortunately, he liked it. Yippee!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Family Fun!

We visited Kelvinhall Art Galleries today - the first time since the refurbishment. I thought I'd just post a few pictures of what we saw. My phone camera didn't do justice to the Spitfire suspended from the ceiling in the main hall, so I'll leave that to your imagination.

Pseudo-Supermum has also cooked, washed and baked today. But right now, she's going to throw a hissy fit if those boys don't Tidy up their Room before music practice and bedtime ...

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Sick kids! Cello-Boy went back to school on Wednesday; he was bored of being at home. I think he's on the mend after his gastro enteritis.

Viola-Kid still has the end of his coughing virus. Most of the time, he doesn't cough at all. Occasionally, though, he coughs and ends up vomiting. Very occasionally. It happened at the swimming pool, and he got carted off to the first-aid room. This led to:-

  • The first-aiders recommending him to see his doctor (I know from my own training that this is what a first-aider is expected to do);
  • The class teacher wrote me a letter saying he had been very sick and was still troubled with his chest infection;
  • The child himself gave SuperSpouse to understand that he practically fainted in the water and had to be got out;
  • Clearly, everyone expected me to do something.

We went to the GP yesterday morning. He declared that after a month, the virus has probably almost burnt itself out, but that in a week we should go for peak-flow testing just to rule out asthma. But since Viola-kid doesn't cough at night, it doesn't seem very likely. Neither does he wheeze. (Cello-kid was asthmatic as a toddler, so we do have three years' experience of what it's like.) So that's the story up-to-date. Watch this space!

MEANWHILE, Ocarina-kid lost his third tooth yesterday and wanted me to take a photo of it. A good Mummy would post it on her blog, I suppose, but I drew the line at taking photos of tiny teeth.
The tooth fairy nearly forgot her duty last night, though, which caused a spot of difficulty in the morning. Luckily, she seems to have taken the tooth away - but I can only assume that we must have disturbed her before she put the pound coin under his pillow. We found it down in the dining-room instead.

It's a miserable, rainy autumnal morning - one for which the Scottish word "dreich" was made.(Pronounced "Dreech", with the "ch" being the same as the end of the word "loch" - a hissing sound at the back of your throat.)

Nonetheless, the washing-machine is crying out for more laundry, so I'd better oblige. Wouldn't you think that my modern, all-singing, all-dancing machine would be capable of sorting the washing, loading it, emptying the pulley of the previous wash; as we all know, we modern women have NOTHING to do now we have so many appliances to do it all for us...

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Thanks to the American Family Physician for this image.

As you'll realise, it isn't that easy finding a picture of gastro-enteritis suitable for a normal, run-of-the mill blog!

Let's make one thing clear. Today was not going to be a nice day. It's one of the busiest days in my working year. So, when I woke up worrying about Cello-Kid, convinced he would be in hospital by the time the day was out, I also knew a tension headache wasn't far away. I took medication to work with me - but didn't have time to stop and TAKE it.

Right. So the day progressed, until by lunchtime I (a) knew that Cello-Kid had indeed been taken to hospital (NOT the one for Sick Kids, as thirteen is deemed to be too big to be a kid any more), and (b) had a truly splitting headache all to myself.

Since someone was with Cello-Kid and there was nothing I could do, I simply had to stay at work and get on with the job. I barely had time for lunch, but I owed it to my colleagues to eat something - it lessened the chance of me getting irritable later. However, having left the department to get some lunch, I found I had left my painkillers back in the office. Couldn't go back for them, or someone would have stopped me and asked me for something. They always do.

Dashing into Boots, I found a magical new painkiller - Syndol. It has paracetamol, codeine and doxylamine succinate (never heard of it!) to relax muscular tension. It doesn't contain aspirin or ibuprofen, which I cannot take. But - it worked!! Better than anything I've tried before. This is a breakthrough. I smiled my way through the rest of the afternoon, and got home shattered, but sane.

Cello-Kid came home a little later, shattered, but mercifully just a little off-colour. So there is no emergency. We've arranged cover so SuperSpouse can stay off work for a couple of days, and life will stagger on. Only one problem - I'm wide awake, but I really can't face doing any research. I've had too much to think about today.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

A visit down to see my family has left Pseudo-Supermum in turmoil.

It was my nephew's christening, and I went down from Scotland to Norfolk, to play the organ at the service. The service was lovely, the baby behaved himself beautifully, and even the weather was on its best behaviour. We all enjoyed the reception afterwards, too.

So far so good. My father is becoming increasingly frail, and I noticed a difference since the last time I was down in June. My mother is preoccupied and anxious about selling the family home, as the new bungalow is almost ready for them to move into - but there aren't enough people interested in buying the old one. It's a wonderful old house - hard to see why it is proving so hard to sell.

They drive each other mad! This is nothing new, but it doesn't make for a harmonious household. Father was very happy to see me, but sad in the realisation that he might not see me many times more. It was heartbreaking.

I stayed for three nights then travelled back home again. Cello-Boy is feeling off-colour, and had been to the emergency doctor. He went to his own GP today, and has to phoned her up tomorrow if he's feeling no better. That's a bit worrying, for a boy of just 13.

I did two loads of washing before bedtime last night, and another before work this morning. SuperSpouse had done some ironing, but I don't think the washing-machine did its all-singing, all-dancing super-sorting, heavenly-hanging, fancy-folding and perfectionist-putting away routine while I was away. It obviously missed its mummy.

Then when I got to the underground this morning, there was some kind of problem. There must have been, because trains are usually very frequent - and we ended up waiting ages then cramming ourselves in like sardines.

See why I'm in turmoil?

While SuperSpouse and his friend try to clear out a virus from his PC, I've got the boys to bed, done an online supermarket order, taken the home-help home, folded laundry and hung more. I haven't done any research and at 11.45 pm, it's too late to start. (That's why I'm blogging - it takes less intellectual effort.)

Granted I needn't have watched Super-Nanny with no.2 son, but a girl's entitled to some relaxation, isn't she?!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

You know, my washing machine is amazing.

This morning I watched as it emptied the pulley, folded everything neatly into piles, then hung up a fresh load of washing. This afternoon, it went upstairs, collected the dirty laundry, sorted it and put the coloured wash through, pausing to give the detergent dispenser a thorough clean before starting the wash. (I once saw a quiz to determine whether you were a slattern or a perfect housewife. I only avoided being a slattern by being able to tick the box for cleaning the detergent dispenser. But I digress.)

This evening, it collected still more dirty laundry after the boys' bathtime, once again sorted it then loaded the machine with a white wash. At some stage it will take down the morning pulley-load, and hang up as much as possible of the afternoon and evenings, before settling down to a final coloured wash before bedtime.

Oh, I'm so glad I have a washing-machine to do all this for me. Washing takes no time at all. Leaving me time to cook lunch, bake and ice a birthday cake, and supervise music practice before organising bath- and bedtime!

Any minute now, Super-Rev will phone (alias, my father). I just have time to down a coffee before that...

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Sneakily enjoying a little bit of peace while the guys are out, I decided to update my blog. What should I really be doing? Updating my PhD chapter, that's what! (To be honest, there isn't really time to open up the chapter and gather my thoughts, so it's hardly worth starting until later on tonight.)

Ocarina Kid is now eight! And he's just started piano lessons - a "real" instrument now. He sat next to his piano teacher and anxiously said, "I don't think I'm going to be very good at this". Of course, he's doing fine anyway.

Viola Kid went to the string training orchestra for the first time today - and I think he rather enjoyed himself. He has a new friend, too - the boy sitting beside him. That's encouraging.

Meanwhile Cello Kid went back to the orchestra to say hello to his old cello teacher - they were gratifyingly pleased to see each other - and now he's out with SuperSpouse, his brothers and two friends, enjoying a film as his 13th birthday treat. The big day is on Monday - a teenager at last. In a few minutes I shall go and join them at Pizza Hut for the celebration meal. I didn't fancy the film, but I want to be part of the celebrations that follow! And we have a friend (whom he met at the aforementioned string training orchestra) coming back with us for a sleepover tonight. Cinema, pizza, a sleepover - and a new webcam - what boy could want more?

Friday, September 08, 2006

Do you ever wake up and KNOW it's not going to be your day?

Fed up with a soul-destroying project at work (90% finished - and I'm 90% done in) - I really DIDN'T need a colleague from another department to come and pour a bucket-load of negativity over my already bowed head the other day. So yesterday, a bear with a sore head would have been a more amenable character than me. Nonetheless I had a cup of coffee and just got on with things.

What happened, then? A senior colleague from another department came in and rattled my cage some more.

I toyed with the idea of taking a half-day's leave and removing myself from the premises before I went to bits. But - I didn't want to sacrifice half a day, and believe it or not I still want to see that project finished. I won't rest until it is.

Anyway, I had already booked today as a day's leave, so that was a small oasis of calm on the horizon.

Last night, I got back from choir to find Viola Kid still coughing. He coughed himself sick. I cleared up, got him off to bed, and THEN had to bake Ocarina Kid's eighth birthday cake. Done - finished at 11.30 pm.

Today, I had Viola Kid for company - I'd planned a quiet study morning in the university library, but I didn't dare send Viola Kid to school in case the school office tried to phone me and demand that I bring him home again. And I can't have my mobile on in the library. Viola Kid had a great day, painting models. He wasn't, to be truthful, very ill at all.

So I've sorted and washed and hung out washing, been to the pharmacy, written a letter, made a few phone-calls, iced a cake ... played for a wedding, cooked tea, taxied Cello-Boy to Boys' Brigade and back, supervised two lots of practiceand three gettings ready for bed, fetched in the last load of washing off the line and put some more in the machine ...

I'm off to have a bath then collapse into bed. SuperSpouse is out at a meeting (followed by Valuable Drinking Time) - and I'm afraid I'm too done-in to wait up for him this time.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Gum-boil? Abscess? Is there any difference?

Small-Fry had one over the weekend, whatever it was. It seemed to clear up yesterday, but I thought we'd better get it checked out with the dentist today.

Viola-kid woke, still coughing - but I couldn't deal with a trip to the dentist and a trip to the doctor in one supposedly working day. So I went to work, and phoned the dentist. (Maybe we'll fit in a trip to the doctor tomorrow.)

Then phoned Super-Spouse, who I thought was at home this morning, to tell him about the appointment. No Super-Spouse. After phoning seven times, I apologised to my boss and went to pick up the invalid from school myself. Once in the car-park near our dentist, I phoned home one last time. Success! Super-Spouse turned into a knight in shining armour and came to take the invalid back to school again after his appointment. Nothing needed doing about the abscess, but a filling was replaced in the neighbouring tooth. And that was that.

I hurtled back to work, pausing only to make a quick coffee - no time for lunch - then went to the meeting that I was hosting. I must be getting old - all this rushing around isn't good for me.

Tomorrow, I think, is a slightly calmer day. But I do have a meeting with my supervisor at the University, so right now I ought to be working on my Chapter. Excuse me .... I'll just go and make a cup of tea first ...

Friday, September 01, 2006

Poor Viola kid! He's got the cough that Superspouse took round Europe this summer (Glasgow - Hungary - Glasgow - Germany - Holland - Glasgow) then gave me. And now it's Viola kid's turn, so I have to concede that he wasn't a happy bunny this morning.

He had cough medicine. He had Calpol. He had toast (not his usual cereal) for breakfast. And he really didn't want to go to school. I don't think he believed me when I assured him that colds always feel worse first thing in the morning then improve once you've been up for a while.

Before I went to work, I went and bought cough-sweets. Then left for work.

I am informed that almost instantly, the invalid perked up remarkably, and indeed had a good day at school. It is mean and horrible of me to imagine that he might have been exaggerating his ailment for my benefit...

Okay, I'm mean and horrible. Not a supermum, and certainly not a Yummy Mummy (yuck!). Reader, what kind of mum are you?!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

As of 29th August, my car was paid for. So - why does it choose now to develop lots of irritating faults?

Well, granted the radio has turned itself on and off intermittently for years. Sometimes it plays a note of a tune, or one word of the announcer's introduction, then goes off again. Sometimes it plays a whole movement of a symphony without turning off. Citroen did once send the radio away to get it checked, found nothing wrong, reinstalled it, and it behaved perfectly for a few months - then started its antics again. I can live with it. Or without it, depending on its mood.

The indicator started playing up more recently. The lights blinked when required, but the sound went "kerplinka plinka plink" on and off every journey until Sunday evening when I started up; then to the accelerated sound of "kerplink, plink, plink", there was a tiny puff of smoke behind the steering-wheel. Then it behaved itself. Eh?

Add to that the new development last weekend: smoke coming from the front windscreen heater vents. Initially I thought it was dust, as this was the first time I'd used the heater since spring. Wrong! It worsened. I phoned the garage on Monday, and the man reassuringly said that the indicator must be shorting out behind the dashboard.

I took it in today. Now I have a new indicator stalk, and the indicator only kerplinks when required.
I have new spark-plugs - the first since the car was made, 110,000 miles ago. The bill was very reasonable, but not small.

However - the radio is still a mystery, and as for the smoke belching from the dashboard? Not smoke but steam mixed with antifreeze. I have a leak in the heater matrix. Right. Hopefully the liquid sealant will have sealed it, but if not, we're looking at a big fat repair bill.

So - I finish paying for the car and move on to paying to keep it going ...!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

This image is from I was posting a blog entry for my church choir and decided that August flowers would brighten things up a bit. Having done that, I thought I'd post some here, too! I'm ashamed of my own garden. Apart from a few fuschia and some geraniums, it is a dead loss - and the weeds are truly taking over the flower-beds. I need a micro-gardener for my micro-garden. Don't know where to start looking for someone reliable who won't charge an arm and a leg for their services ...

Having spent the evening planning music for the next few Sundays, it is way too late to start being a recycled postgraduate. So - we may as well have supper and an early night for a change.

I'm shattered. So is everyone at work; we've all worked so hard on the summer project, and we're not done yet!

Monday, August 21, 2006


Every so often, some moron dumps their rubbish in the narrow access lane beside our house. No-one else seems to do anything about it - so I phone the refuse department and arrange for the uplift of this junk. And - sooner or later - it is collected. I must have done this half a dozen times in the past two years.

I got back from vacation to find another load of junk, so I phoned again, and was told it would be collected within 3 weeks.

However! This evening I caught an inebriated neighbour lifting it all out to the pavement (sidewalk) in front of our houses. Now, the local hooligans will take great delight in smashing the rubbish and strewing it across the pavements, street and generally round about. They may use it to smash car windscreens. Irritating.

I phoned the refuse department again. Oh yes, I was told, the refuse men came to collect the rubbish but it was in a private lane, so they don't have to do anything. You do.

But it is not our rubbish! Seemingly it's still our problem.

Well, I protested, an inebriated neighbour has just put it all out on the pavement, so now it is in the public street - please come and take it away. I don't intend to remonstrate or argue with inebriated neighbours! (I don't know any other neighbours with this problem, I hasten to add. But this person was definitely not sober.)

Then I went round to explain to the very sober and respectable neighbours next-door, why the rubbish was all over the pavement. As I walked round to their house, I noticed a brick had been lobbed through their car windscreen. Nothing to do with the heaps of broken furniture on the pavement, I hasten to add - but it's indicative of what bored youths will do on a long summer evening.

Walking BACK to our front door, I noticed that a whole crowd of youngsters appeared to be getting into the boarded-up block of flats further down the road. We're all owner-occupiers up our end of the street, but these were dreadful rented properties. They're due for demolition and new, smart properties will be going up in their place, so I suppose it doesn't matter if the kids get in - but I know fine well they'd retaliate if they thought I reported them, so I'd better not ...

PS I'm happy to acknowledge this lovely image of a grumpy woman ("Rosie the Riveter", no less); here's the source:-

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Further to my rail-travel rant - I am a grumpy, frumpy old woman today. Yesterday, I wore my turquoise and white print summer skirt from Bhs, with a plain turquoise tee-shirt from M&S. I felt good about myself.

Today, I wore a white sleeveless Asda shirt with the same skirt. Same shoes, same handbag. It was chilly, so I added a thin white cotton "cardigan" on top. The blouse makes me look fat. The shoes suddenly do nothing for me - not with this particular outfit - and I was horribly aware that I just looked middle-aged and dreary.

I have to smarten up tomorrow, or I might as well go out dressed in a black bin-bag and really look a sight. I'd attract more attention in a bin-bag, I suppose ...

Image from

I only want to attend my nephew's christening!

Yesterday lunchtime, I went to Queen Street station to ask about cheap returns to Norwich. You thought we had a national rail network in the UK? Think again! Queen Street trains mostly go north or east, not south. So the ticket office computers don't get details of cheap Virgin offers going south. (There I was, fondly imagining that all ticket offices got the same details - how naive of me!)

Ah well, what's a lunchtime for, if not queuing up to find out about tickets? (I had a paper refund voucher I wanted to use, or I'd have done the whole thing online - but could I find anywhere in my computer to post that refund voucher??? There was no alternative but to deal with a real human being.)

Today lunchtime, I went to Central Station to ask about cheap returns to Norwich. There are oodles of options, but no Apex, no cheap returns - yes, I know it'll be the September weekend, but I'm booking a month in advance. Doesn't that count for anything?

At the weekend, it was going to be just over £70 to fly down. Today, I discovered it would be £67 to take the train. It takes more time, but I get more time to read on the train, which is actually a good thing. However, it doesn't seem very cheap to me!

I got back to my desk after lunch with five minutes in hand. I rang the travel agent which I believed my workplace had a business account with, and explained that this time, I wasn't booking on the work account - I just wondered if they could check a railfare for me as a private individual.

- No, sorry - they don't do business accounts any more. ["But I'm asking as a private individual ..."]

- And they don't act as an agent for rail tickets, either.

Aw, shucks. Back to Central Station tomorrow, I see. The airfare has gone up over £20 since the weekend in any case.

I want to read the Grumpy Old Women book. And then the Grumpy Old Men book. Forget reading up in advance about the menopause - I want to know what it's going to be like on the other side of it!