Friday, July 20, 2012

Life in the Bus Lane

I was glad to catch up with my partner-in-crime, the fragrant Mrs M, last week. She writes a weekly round-up over at The Mad Mackerel and I mentioned that her latest post had left me slightly disappointed.

      "I was waiting for something to happen," I said.
      "Like what?" she said.
      "I don't know," I said. "Just something."
      "But nothing happened last week," she said by way of explanation.
      "Couldn't you have made it up?" I said. "Some people might be living vicariously through your column. Like... well, not me, obviously, but... other people."

Mrs M is a card-carrying member of the music press and I know she has an impossibly glamorous life and I wanted some of it. I wanted to bathe in the reflected glory of her rock star associations. I wanted to drink bourbon and thrash about in mosh pits (whatever they might be) instead of rushing for the school run and trying to get the kids to eat their broccoli. 

And then, over coffee this week, Running Mum - she of the fabulously manageable hair - mentioned that she had been shopping in Zara and that the sales assistants looked right through her. She supposed it was because she was a good twenty years older than all the Bright Young Things leafing through racks of Fashionable Attire. (I can only assume that their sales assistants are just rude, as the store apparently caters for the 18-34 age group and RM is only a smidge over the upper limit. Not that you'd know. She looks like a teenager with her perfect skin and petite frame and is quite hip for an old bird.) Anyway, things got worse when she dropped her water bottle on the shop floor and went up to the till to report the mess. 
"I'm afraid I've made a bit of a puddle," she said.

All of which has led me to one question:


I'm awfully afraid it might be. And I'm not sure I want to get my kicks second-hand and become invisible in shops. So I am damn well going to squeeze every last drop out of my middle age before I need a walking frame and incontinence pants. Starting now...*

*Well, in a minute. I've just got to make the dinner and bath the baby, fold the laundry and stick the hoover round. And then I'm ready for life in the fast lane. Instead of the bus lane.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Lost Art of Kissing

I've been thinking a lot about kissing this week.

For the purposes of research (don't ask - but not for the reason you might think) I have finally started reading Fifty Shades of Grey. Am I the only woman in Britain that isn't turned on by it? I am so distracted by the appalling writing that it quite gets in the way of the... ahem, important business. And the most important part of the important business, is to my mind, the kissing. And so far, it is dreadfully disappointing.

I like kissing. In a world where sex has lost its mystique and become the common currency by which all things are sold and measured, kissing seems an almost more intimate expression. Sadly, The Husband and I don't do much of it any more, certainly not of the lip-lock kind. 10 years on and 5 kids later, we tend to stay safely in "peck-on-the-cheek" territory. 

Anyway, back to that book. There is an eternity before the hero first kisses our heroine - page 77, to be precise - which of course is a good way of keeping us in suspense. Her agonizing wait includes the immortal line: "My heartbeat has picked up, and my medulla oblongata has neglected to fire any synapses to make me breathe." Good Lord. When he finally gets around to it, he "lunges", "grabs" and "yanks" and then their tongues meet "in a slow, erotic dance that’s all about touch and sensation, all bump and grind."

Hideous. In its prosaic ugliness, it reminds me of kissing spotty Darren from youth club when I was about 14. Darren's understanding of "erotic" was to whirl his tongue around mine for about three minutes, like the spin cycle of a washing machine. I shudder - and not with desire - to think of it. But then, of course, I had nothing to compare it to. Was Darren any good? Were we doing it right? Where does one's nose go? 

It was not until years and years and years later that I experienced The Kiss To Which All Other Kisses Will Forever Be Compared. 

The kiss that did it for me - and did for me - was, quite simply, shattering. He bit my lip gently and my resolve dissolved. I felt the centre of me contract and collapse. That kiss took all the breath from me and with it all my reasoning.  The truth shifted and with it my co-ordinates, all my absolutes. I was left sweet and ragged. My response was so visceral, I shudder - with ravenous desire - to think of it. 

Darren and E. L. James take note. Agnes de Mille summed it up, without the bumping and grinding, when she said: "And then I did the simplest thing. I leaned down and kissed him....and the world cracked open."

Wednesday, July 04, 2012


I dream of the perfect morning.

I wake gently in the arms of the man I love. We drink strong coffee silently in the sunshine, on a verandah overlooking the sea, in the middle of a Cornish summer. The only sounds are the waves breaking on the beach, the gulls overhead... perhaps Byrd's Vigilate playing softly in the background.* There is a basket of warm croissants on the table, an ice-cold bottle of fizz, some rolling tobacco, the newspapers. I am tanned and lean, with brine in my hair and no bunions, wearing a very fetching vintage 1930's kimono. He looks at me with his heart in his eyes... and (this is critical) doesn't need to speak.

Today, I woke when Madam clonked me in the eye with her elbow when she rolled over in the single bed we share. Wearing a black shapeless t-shirt dress with my daughter's dribble in my hair, I made a banana sandwich for Number Four and fished odd socks from the dirty laundry basket for Number Two. The Teenager proceeded to run me through the flaws relating to time and logic and other plot anachronisms in the Terminator trilogy, movie by movie, while I fashioned packed lunches from bare cupboards. The Husband said he'd make me coffee and promptly forgot, and then cooked the sausages for tonight's supper for his breakfast, while whistling "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" and promptly set the fire alarm off. 

Spot the difference...

*(it would have been Tallis' Spem in alium, but I have just been told it appears in the tale of Mr Grey and that's quite a different dream altogether.)

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Ruining of This Mother... In Praise of Gin

It's not often I can be accused of being au courant - I have made it my life's work not to run with the pack, but rather to saunter without care down a meandering path of my own choosing.  This is partly because I took a very wrong turning about 30 years ago and have never found my way back to the Right Track. A little like the infamous report in the Daily Sport some years ago, which claimed a double decker bus had been found on the moon. A spokesman for London Transport apparently said that "the driver must have taken a left at the Elephant and Castle."

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Black Lace and Promises

For days I kept wondering when the lady with the trolley was coming with supper. It slowly dawned on me that I am now the lady with supper and I needed to get back in the kitchen if we were going to eat anything that doesn't come out of a tin. Actually, that is a bit mean. The Husband also knows where the freezer is. I couldn't resist a smile (or was it a smirk?) when Number Three said: "The best thing about having you home Mummy, is that we don't have to put up with Dad's rubbish cooking any more..."

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Home At last

I am writing this at my kitchen table.

It's been a funny old day. In fact it has been a funny old month. It is exactly four weeks ago today that Madam and I were whisked off to live in the concrete jungle that is the John Radcliffe Hotel in Oxford.

This morning we were told that all being well, we would be liberated this afternoon.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012


Brace yourselves... they've got it!

Madam has systemic JIA - Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis.

Tonight we are back on a drip to receive a massive dose of steroid. Tomorrow we will begin a six week course of oral steroid which should bring down the joint swelling, diminish the pain and settle the fevers.

It is such a relief to finally have a diagnosis and to learn that her condition is treatable and manageable.

But best of all, it means we are coming home...

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

The Kindness of Strangers...

Saturday was quiet, broken by a visit from The Husband and the boys. Otherwise it was unremarkable, still no fevers. In fact Madam spent a lot of it sleeping. Although she was obviously greatly improved - the rash had disappeared and the joint swelling was going down - but I couldn't get too excited. She still seemed so fragile and as the Cardiac Consultant said, "we've been here before..."

Sure enough, she woke on Sunday morning with a temperature. By mid-afternoon, after a visit from my parents which she slept through, the fever had spiked again. With Monday's ward rounds, the investigations into the ULI resumed and this week we are mostly proceeding down the rheumatological route. Low grade fevers continued. More bloods were taken. The hunt continues...

I was invited to have an aromatherapy massage on Monday afternoon, laid on by Rosie's Rainbow  Fund - a charity set up by the family of Rosie Mayling. Rosie had spent several months at the John Radcliffe suffering from vasculitis, before she tragically died at home from a fatal pulmonary haemorrhage a week after being discharged. The fund provides all manner of support to children and their families who have to undergo lengthy hospital stays and it seems Madam and I fall into that category.

And if that wasn't lovely enough, today a complete stranger gave me five cigarettes today when she saw I had run out. I had been saving my last cigarette as long as I could before reinforcements arrived with supplies at tea time. I decided that I would not smoke it until there was an emergency. When I woke this morning and went to make my first illicit coffee of the day, the lights on the machine did not come on. Quelle horreur, the fuse had gone. Actually, I didn't say it in French. It was definitely an emergency.

So I went downstairs to the ground floor lobby, only to find that the cafe was not yet open and I had to buy a revolting nescafe out of a machine with my last bit of change. I sat on my favourite bench and lit the cigarette. It was heavenly, but zut alors! (I didn't say that bit in French either), I knocked the lit end into the rubbish bin, which immediately caught fire. Smoke began to billow forth so I was forced to throw my coffee into the bin to put out the blaze. And in the process I dropped what was left of my last cigarette into a puddle. And I certainly didn't say "Oops" in French.