Tag Archives: humour

Patience is a virtue……

……I definitely don’t possess.

I’ve been trying so hard. I’ve been patient waiting for the planning to go through (it still hasn’t, but I am zen-like and not allowing it to bother me), I have been patient waiting for builders quotes (some are really quick and others not so much). I have been calm during the return to school and I have only lost it once (when T was demonstrating typical Teen Brain behaviour). I have been trying hard and winning, mostly.

On Monday, I was likened to a caged tiger.

I went into the office early to get ahead of myself as Mondays are always my busiest day, catching up on enquiries from the weekend and any issues from Friday, when my colleague covers for me. I logged in and immediately my computer told me I had to run an update. No choices, no “run later” option or exit button, I had to do it. One of my bosses arrived about half an hour later and it was still running. I had a bit of a moan and he sympathised. I made us a coffee (my second) and I opened some post. Forty-five minutes later it rebooted – hurrah! – and I was all set to get started. Then, it said “installing updates, this will take some time”. Not may take some time, WILL take some time. As if forty-five minutes wasn’t long enough. The other boss arrived so I made another coffee; listened to the radio, did the Pop Master quiz; went to the loo – again. I think I must have been making my frustrations very well known (I was pretty wound up knowing that there was going to be even more emails to action as I had now been waiting nearly two hours to get going) because when I walked – maybe that should be ‘stalked’ – over to the franking machine my boss told me I was like a caged tiger. I had been pacing around a bit, I had been huffing and puffing quite a lot and there had been quite a bit of arms-thrown-up-in-the-air-in-disgust at the ridiculously slow increase of the “percentage complete” figure. I know I’m not the most patient of people. I know it’s a failing. But, when 99% of your job is done by computer and said computer is out of action it is VERY frustrating – there is nothing else to do. I hate doing nothing, unless I have chosen to do nothing and even then I can’t do it for long. But, I guess neither of my bosses have ever witnessed this before and, although I was technically doing nothing on their time, they were finding it highly amusing. Anyway, after 2 hours and twenty minutes of waiting, I was able to login and get started. Only to find that the poxy update had buggered up one of my email accounts and I couldn’t access it. Arrrggggghhhhh. As Mondays go, it was not the best.

Yesterday was fine. I was working from home and apart from having to move into the dining room because the office was bloody freezing, I had a productive day.

This morning, I felt like I was back on track and even the internet connection seemed to be behaving when the radio stopped playing. Then the wireless symbol on my laptop went orange (I hate that colour). This is not an unusual phenomenon as our internet connection is pretty hit and miss even when you are sitting right next to the router, so I wasn’t overly worried. Then I noticed how quiet it was.

Why was it so quiet?

Ah, the fridge freezer wasn’t making that weird groaning noise that it makes. This wasn’t just a Wi-Fi issue. This was a Power Cut. Again, this is not unusual for our village. There is a local Facebook group (that I am no longer part of because – did I mention this before? – I am no longer on Facebook) that has 100 comment long posts about Power Cuts – we have them almost weekly and sometimes a few short ones in the space of an hour. So, again, I wasn’t too worried. Stupidly, and I do this every bloody time, I got up to make a cup of tea! Doh! Picked up my phone to look at my personal emails. No signal. Huh. No problem, it will be back on soon.

Twenty minutes later and nothing. This is unusual, they normally only last a few minutes.

OK, I’ll read my book for ten minutes and then it will be back on.

Ten minutes later, nothing. By now, I was getting pretty wound up and the caged tiger was prowling again. I couldn’t even check if this was an actual Power Cut as I had no connection to the internet. Then, I remembered – my work phone is on O2….maybe it would have a signal where my EE phone didn’t. It did! Hurrah. I made it into a hotspot and got my laptop connected up to it. Answered the emails that had come in and then checked the Power Cut Checker website. It was an ACTUAL Power Cut! They had turned the power off so they could do some emergency repairs caused by the high winds last night. Annoying, but at least now I knew. It would be off for some time. No more emails to do, so I made the executive decision to nip out and run the errands I had planned to do at school pick up time. So off I went.

I had no sooner left the village when my phone bipped to say that our security camera was back online (it runs on the Wi-Fi) meaning the power was BACK ON. For god’s sake. Should I turn around like the conscientious person I am and carry on working, or just keep going? I kept going. I returned some stuff to one shop and then I went into the pound shop for some washing up liquid  – and came out with £12 worth of other items. What is it about pound shops? I can’t ever just go in for one thing and come out with one thing.  Anyway, I digress. I could write a whole blog post on that subject alone.

I got home and the power was indeed back on and when I checked the Power Cut Checker website it confirmed it was back on for good (or at least until the weekly mini cut that we will almost certainly get). Hurrah.

What both these episodes have highlighted is two things: I am not patient (we already knew this) and we rely massively on electricity. I’ve just finished reading a novel set in the early 1800’s and I do wonder if I would have found living in that era less frustrating. If I had to go back in time, leaving behind all the convenience of life in the 21st Century, I would undoubtedly be a nightmare to live with. But never knowing the “joys” of technology and electricity, if I had been born into that time, would I have been less impatient? If I had to hand write everything, wait for a reply, walk everywhere, live life at a slower pace, perhaps I would not get so wound up. Or maybe I would have this trait regardless of what period of time I lived in, and as a 19th Century lady (I would probably more likely have been in service rather than being waited on, but this is a “what if” and we don’t have to be realistic) I would have fired countless ladies maids for being too slow to button my dress up. Ok, we need to stop right there: the idea of wearing dresses is a step too far, even in a “what if” scenario.

Let’s just say, this week has done nothing to help my goal of being more zen-like but I just have to accept that sometimes life will conspire against me. Next week will be better. Positive, see? That’s me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Working Practice

As you know, I work from home the majority of the time. I’ve got used to my work space being my work space and doing the hours that suit me and getting other stuff done around working. I am conscientious enough to do the hours I need to do whilst managing to do the washing, school runs, etc.

K has been told by his line manager to work from home more often as they don’t want to pay his mileage. Great news for him, as his daily commute to whichever office he has to go to is well over 100 miles each way. Not fun, especially when the M25 is involved. Not such great news for me.

While I have the benefit of working out in the office away from the main house (I’ve made it sound very grand, it’s not: it’s a room off the back of the garage but you can only access it from across the garden. So, far enough away to allow the feeling of being in a work space and away from distractions in the house, and the children know that when I am out there I am working and they should only really disturb me if it’s important. Like: Can they have something to eat? Can they go out with their friends? Can’t I smell that the house is burning down?) K has to work in the dining room. This is fine, but when I go in to make a cup of tea for myself or check on the washing or pop to the loo or answer a knock at the door (the only reasons I go back into the house) he is there. I feel obliged to make him a cup of coffee. He NEVER offers to make me one. I feel resentful that he is sitting there and must have heard that the washing machine has clicked off. In fact, sometimes, I will come in and he has opened the door and nothing else – the washing is still in there waiting to be taken out and hung up.

K has two modes of working. Full on, nothing stops him, don’t try and talk to him, busy busy busy, no time for lunch, et, etc. OR, chatty, wanting to talk about stuff to do with the extension, shall we pop to the kitchen place down the road, what are you having for your lunch (it’s 10am, I have no idea!), have you emailed so-and-so about such-and-such, I’m just going to take the shed apart and build a new one (OK that’s never happened but he has serviced his bike and other random things).

It’s REALLY annoying, mainly because his work mode isn’t the same all day. Not even the same in the space of one hour. Sometimes he can start off the day a bit “can’t be bothered” and if I am not busy I start to get thoughts that maybe he will offer to collect the kids from school or take me out for lunch, and then BAM he’s into Full On Crisis Mode and I have to shuffle back to my desk and forget it all.

Take today, for example. WARNING: ranting ahead. He came back mid-afternoon (while I was out picking up A and friend) as he was out on site and didn’t want to trek back to the office afterwards. He was able to drop off an iPad that he’s sold on a Facebook selling network on the way home. He was able to make himself a coffee and a sandwich. He wasn’t able to wipe down the worktop or open the windows to let some fresh air in (I’m a bit of an open- windows-at-all-possible-times freak) or to take the washing in from off the line (probably just as well as I have a system – don’t ask). He barely had the time to say hello or to ask about my day. In fact he didn’t. I gave up trying to talk to him. A while later he came out to my office to show me some brochures he’s been sent with doors and flooring in. I gave him short shrift – I had work to catch up on after picking A up. I went into the house again later with the washing (all nicely in layers in the basket so that each person’s washing is together to save time putting it away – which each person has to do themselves, I hasten to add. I’m not a maid. Glad you asked?) and he was MAKING HIMSELF A CUP OF COFFEE.  He showed me a nice kitchen in one of the brochures. I took the washing upstairs. I came down and he was SITTING AT THE TABLE DRINKING HIS COFFEE. “Nice cup of coffee you’ve got there”, I muttered, very sarcastically (I’m not proud of my behaviour). “Oh, would you like a cup of tea?” he answered, all surprise and shock. “That would be lovely, if you have time”. (Again, not proud). “I’ll bring it out to you”.

I am still sitting here 40 minutes later. No tea. He appears. “Did you still want that tea? Sorry a complaint came in and I had to deal with it”. See? Full On Crisis Mode, means NO TEA CAN BE MADE. THERE IS NO TIME.

What I am worried about most is that, if and when the extension gets built, “we” have plans to refurbish the office a bit and make it a proper home office that we can all use. I’ll say it again – that we can all use. All of us, in one room, working together. Me and him during the day and me and him and *gulps * the kids when they get home. All of us!

I will have to endure the very loud telephone voice. The huffing. The muttering about “w***ers” and “f***ing idiots”. I will have to endure the very annoying thumping of the mouse pad – he won’t use a traditional mouse as he’s not old-school. (Maybe, I should be relieved as the clicking could possibly be worse than the thumping.) I will most certainly have to be in tune with which mode he is in and adapt my thinking accordingly. I’m not sure I am up to the challenge.

Maybe they will miss him at the office. Or maybe that’s why he was told to work from home?

Wish me luck.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally….Facebook Free

I’ve been holding off and holding off. I’ve made excuses like “I’ll miss seeing this person’s posts” or “I need it to keep up with Book Club”.  The problem with it is: it gets under your skin. You start by ‘just looking’ at specific things, but then before you know it you’re liking things and then your friends who don’t even know the person whose thing you’ve liked will see that you’ve liked it and how odd is that? It gets to a point where all you see is that someone you know has liked something from someone you don’t know. And then before you know it you find yourself throwing your hands up in the air and screaming at the screen “FFS, why do I need to see that X has liked that thing by Stranger Z?”  or words to that effect.

Anyway, today I had a message from the lovely people at Facebook to say that the Groups App is being discontinued and after a few more weeks will be no more. I have managed to keep away from the main event by using the Groups App to look at For Sale groups and Book Club. When that goes, I can see that I will just end up with my hands in the air an awful lot and saying ‘FFS’ all the time. Not Good.

So, I have taken the proverbial bull by its pointy bits and I’VE DEACTIVATED MY ACCOUNT. I’ve set up a WhatsApp group for the lovely Book Club ladies so I am still in the loop – hoping they will all be kind enough to humour me. I’ve created a new profile under my work email and a pseudonym so I can still manage the work Facebook page and I have left. I’ve left! I’ve actually bloody done it. The kind people at Facebook have told me I can come back whenever I want (when hell freezes over) and they will continue to allow me to be invited to stuff (gee, thanks) and I can still get messages – frankly, anyone who needs to contact me and doesn’t have my number should be ashamed of themselves. (I have hastily gathered together people’s numbers that I didn’t have previously, while hanging my head in shame at my neglect).

So, no more FFS’ing at a small screen while wondering why I can’t be stronger and JUST STOP LOOKING.

I’m not saying it’s wrong. It’s just wrong for me.

 

The results are in

I know at least one of you (probably only one of you, in fact) is dying to know how the list-less holiday went. Well, I can happily report that we didn't forget anything crucial, we didn't have any disasters and we all lived happily ever after. K had a brief moment of not-quite-but-nearly-panic when he realised that the boot of the Mercedes is considerably smaller than the one in the previous car (S-Max) and that we might struggle to get everything in (we did, struggle that is) but we got in the essentials (clothes, cool-bag, bodyboards) and it was All Fine, until the repeat performance for the return journey when he wasn't quite so calm as there was no option to leave stuff behind.

Not having a list (or lists, or lists of lists) was liberating. Packing at 10pm the night before travelling was interesting. Repacking the next morning  - the mini suitcase I had opted to take was causing no end of distress to the car boot-packer so I had to resort to the only (tiny) holdall that was left (everyone else had already nabbed the bigger ones the night before)  - was slightly unnerving but I actually only wore two-thirds of the severely downsized pile that I ended up taking, so lesson learnt for the next holiday (in 18 days and, yes, I AM COUNTING).

Not having a list of must-see places or any sort of itinerary was inspired, because it meant that the 2 days of solid rain we had didn't spoil any plans, we just had to go along with it and make the most of the lovely sunny days we had. The only planning we did was to look at the forecast the night before (still not a cast-iron guarantee but we had to base it on something) and think about where we would like to go. I had a mental list of possible places and the house we were renting had a whole host of leaflets for days out, so we had no shortage of ideas. We managed to see all of the places we wanted to see – Durdle Door, Lulworth Cove, Kimmeridge fossil beach (a wave-cut platform, actually, not a beach, as I was informed by the soon to be year 11 GCSE'er) and Studland Bay. All beautiful. All made me fall in love with the UK coast all over again. All made me wonder why we ever think about going abroad – until it rained again.

One thing I did remember to take was my camera. K bought me a camera for my 40th birthday and has berated me ever since when we go to places and I don't have it with me. I've got so used to using my phone camera and instantly "sharing" my snaps that the camera just gets forgotten. But, as part of my 'going off grid' plan for the holiday I decided that if I took my camera I wouldn't be tempted to go online and share stuff and subsequently get caught up in what the world at large was up to. Another winning idea. Apart from checking the weather app (for what it was worth), keeping an eye on emails (you never know when you're going to get 20% off something you had no intention of buying) and looking at directions, I haven't really used my phone that much. And since we came home I have uploaded my photos onto the laptop and I've really looked at them. They are now in an album which I have added to my Google Photos and I can look at them whenever I want to. And they're far better than ones I take on my phone – no filters, no messing about. Just really good pics.

It has to be said, sitting on a beach while your, thankfully much older, kids are messing about in the sea or laying around listening to music, is very relaxing. Being able to tell your, thankfully much older, kids that there is no more food and that the "loos are that way – see you in a minute" and not being met with any complaints is quite nice. Being able to walk down to the local shops from the house your renting, with your husband, while the kids are still laying around in bed in the morning is quite nice. Mainly because they aren't there to nag you to buy twice as much food as you need and they can't complain about what you have bought because "they should have got up and come with us" (no! please don't!). I know I keep saying it, but the older they get the more and more I like them. Don't get me wrong, they can still be very annoying (teenage brains letting them down on the remembering stuff front; A hitting a sugar low around 4pm and crashing in the mood stakes; not to mention smellier feet than I ever imagined; and not going to bed til really late) but they are also really good company and actually quite interesting and knowledgeable (wave-cut platforms, etc). Being away with them is quite easy and er, hmm, I quite like them. Being told by someone you think the world of (you know who you are) that they are "a credit to you" makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside and pretty proud of myself. Yes, you heard it right. Proud of myself. I'm even starting to almost like myself as a parent.

So, all in all being list-less was a winner. The holiday was great. Coming home not so much, as it always heralds the return to normality with work looming on the close horizon – even having a whole weekend to get used to the idea didn't really help as it was 2 days of torturous thinking about Monday being only 2 days, only 1 day, tomorrow… and it's here. But I have started my countdown on the lightbox – only 18 days to go! No lists, no plans, no suitcase. Just a few clothes, my camera and, this time, my bike. And off we will go.

 

 

Parents Evening, Parade, Pasta and Panic

It’s been a busy few weeks.

We had A’s first parents evening at her new school the week before last. You know, the really hot week with the hottest day since the year 1802 or something ridiculous (I know it wasn’t 1802 but I’m allowed to be silly, it’s my blog). Yes, well that was the day of parents evening. It’s not the most fun hour of anyone’s lives, I don’t imagine, but it was not only not fun – it was also VERY hot. OK so we’ve established the weather conditions, let’s get on to the actual content. Well, it was all very good indeed. As we have been told many times before by many teachers, A is well behaved, polite, conscientious and produces very neat work. She also appears to have a personality which is a relief. She does like to chat in class from time to time and she doesn’t always listen but other than that words like “superstar” and “pleasure” were bandied around quite a lot. The meeting that made me most proud was with her PE teacher, Miss W, who praised her to the point of nearly making us both cry (me and Miss W, not me and K) for being determined and pushing herself to do stuff that makes her scared. Bravo that girl. And bravo Miss W for making the very valid point that she does not need to compare herself to ANYONE else, only herself. I bloody love that woman and wish she had been MY PE teacher twenty years ago (ha ha!).

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Last weekend (not this one just gone, the one before) was Armed Forces day in our local town. T was taking part with his Police Cadet group, alongside Army Cadets from a local school, Marine cadets and Sea Cadets from the local area. They had a parade to begin with which made my eyes a bit misty. There’s something about a military band and people in uniform that makes me feel very emotional, so to see my son involved was pretty special. The rest of the day comprised of the cadets competing against each other in drills/uniform inspections; a climbing wall challenge; and, my favourite, a tug of war!

T’s group did very well in all events but particularly smashed the tug of war. They have a secret weapon in one of the lads who is built like the proverbial brick s**t house and was, needless to say, a very useful anchor man. The other lads and girl got really stuck in and thrashed the other teams, losing just one round out of nine.

The final part of the day was the announcement of the winners, and we were thrilled that T’s group won the overall competition. With only 7 of them attending it seemed like they were a bit thin on the ground but they didn’t let that stop them and, for the first time in the groups’ history, they came home with the trophy.

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Last week was enrichment week at the children’s school. T was not taking part as he went off to Wales for his geography field trip, but A was able to choose from a number of activities that school had arranged that they could do, supposedly to “enrich” their lives. Being as most of the trips were circa £20 plus a go, I politely suggested to A that she maybe chose one trip (pointing out that she had already been on the London Eye, she had been to the local zoo more times that she can remember, etc) and that she look at the activities going on in school for the other option. They have a year group sports day one day and geography field trip on another so she only had to decide on 2 days activities. She opted for the National Portrait Gallery and the in-school Masterchef day. She enjoyed the gallery trip but was slightly freaked out by the Run, Hide, Tell leaflet she was given in case of a terrorist attack, and slightly disconcerted by the boy in her group that insisted on holding her hand whilst on the underground! He was scared apparently. But the highlight of the week has to have been Masterchef – for her and us! – she made such amazing food. They were given a list of ingredients to take and a recipe sheet when they got to the food tech room, but then were left to their pwn devices to follow it and make their meals. We had dough balls with garlic and herb butter (much better than Pizza Express), followed by ricotta and pancetta ravioli, followed by white chocolate eclairs for dessert. It was all outstanding. (The pasta was so great it spurred me on to use the machine I bought on a whim a few months ago – A and I produced some pretty good tagliatelle together on Saturday evening). She was pipped at the post to the prize for her dessert but she was up against some year 8 and 9 students so she deserves to feel very proud.

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This morning I got to work quite early and got cracking on the weekend’s emails from the miserable buggers who buy our stuff our lovely customers. I was on the phone when a text pinged up from K asking me to call him urgently. As soon as I finished my call I rang him back as this is highly unusual! A had called him in a panic – she couldn’t get through to me (as I was on the phone) and she needed me to drop her PE kit off at school as she had forgotten it. Um. Er. Sorry, I am at work. For some reason, although I have been doing this job for just over 6 years, and I have been going into the office one the same days for the last 12 months, somehow everyone forgets and expects me to be able to drop everything and rescue them from their forgetfulness. I texted her to this effect, but slightly less aggressively, but basically saying tough, you will have to suffer the consequences. Literally, their punishments are called “consequences”, ranging from a C1 for minor misdemeanours (forgetting a book, or a pen, or their name) to a C5 – Saturday morning detention, and the same for homework misdemeanours but prefixed with a H. I sat waiting for the explosion of a text that I was expecting to get back at break time. Luckily, for both of us, the lovely Miss W said that she would “let her off” on this occasion as she had such an unblemished record (she hasn’t received a single C1 since the start of the school year – thank god she has that chatty personality as she could be on the way to being a bit of a swot) but on the understanding that she DID NOT TELL A SOUL. I bloody love Miss W, did I mention that earlier?

We spoke in length in the car on the way home – well, I spoke and she said “I Know!!!” a lot – about how I HAVE A JOB, and I GO TO THE OFFICE on certain days and if we could perhaps just go with a blanket rule of “if you forget your stuff, you take the punishment” we will all be a lot happier. Well, I will as it will mean that I don’t spend hours feeling like a complete and utter tool for refusing to drive a 10+ mile round trip to drop something off.

Remember the proud moments and the pasta. And breathe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Political Protest

I’ve never had very strong political leanings, in fact none at all really. My parents didn’t really talk politics when P and I were growing up. My dad used to mutter about “that bloody woman” referring to Margaret Thatcher but I think really only because he didn’t like her manner more than disagreeing with her actual policies. I don’t remember any heated debates about politicians or who to vote for and if I ever asked Dad would joke (but mean it) that that information was between him and the ballot slip and basically it was none of my business.

When I was a teenager I went through a phase and joined an anti-vivisection movement (BUAV) and wore T-shirts, bought cruelty-free make up and toiletries and wrote letters to politicians. I quickly grew out of it when I realised that I could never take it that step further and go vegetarian or go on a march/demonstration – just too fussy an eater and frankly a scaredy-cat. I also got a job and had other things to take up my time – boyfriends, the pub, etc.

As an adult I have always voted. My parents did instil that in me, and my Nan to some degree – the old “women died so you could vote” thing, which of course is totally spot on and I would encourage everyone to use their precious right. In fact, K had never voted until we met and I think I shamed him into it. He is also from a family where politics were rarely discussed and he was probably too busy clubbing to give it much thought. Then he met me and he stopped clubbing and became a bit more sensible, bought a house, started voting, that sort of thing.

Although I have always voted, I have never really had a strong sense of purpose or real need to change things. Obviously, there have been things in the past that I have thought were not the best ideas and I do keep relatively up to date with current affairs. For example, I know who the current Prime Minister is, and I understand the basic differences between the parties. But I didn’t go to uni, where a lot of my contemporaries gained their political leanings, and I have never worked in the public sector or had to claim benefits (for which I am very grateful) and I know I live in a bit of a bubble. I’ve talked before about my aversion for the “real world” and all the horrors it can hold and I am a self-confessed ostrich with my head firmly in the sand when there is stuff I don’t want to know about. And I can be a bit near sighted about issues, really only seeing how things will affect the world within my bubble. Please don’t misunderstand, I have empathy by the bucket load and I feel plenty for people on waiting lists, people with housing issues, people working in the public sector for crap money, people caring for relatives, I can go on. But my voting in the past has been probably quite narrow-minded. And I feel a little embarrassed by that. The truth is, I just don’t know enough.

The impending General Election that will take place tomorrow has me in a quandary. I don’t know if it is because there are so many contentious subjects at play: Brexit, terrorism, the NHS crisis, the education system, etc; whether it is because the children are older and this feels more about doing it for them; or if I am just getting older and more worried about stuff. But I have looked at more info for this election than any ever before. The EU referendum was a no brainer for me as I work for a tiny company trading in Europe and selfishly I would like the business to survive. This election is far less cut and dried for me and I am worried about making the wrong decision. My Twitter feed is full of anger towards Teresa May and pleading with me to vote for the other bloke (I’m kidding I do know his name, Tony something?) but I follow a lot of actors and writers and they are notoriously left-wing so I can’t really make my vote on that basis. I have tried to find unbiased, truthful viewpoints. I know you are probably sniggering at my naivety. Unbiased? Truthful? I do know this is an election, with politicians, right? I have read the leaflets, read the pertinent parts of the manifestos; I have taken quizzes  – no, not on Facebook to find out what the colour of my eyes means about the career I should have –  actual quizzes based on the actual party manifestos, and what have they told me? Nothing. Big fat nothing. It turns out I am undecided – oh really? It seems I actually want someone who is cross-party, someone who will pick out the bits I agree with from each party and say “hey you, vote for me, I will make everything all right.” Sadly, I don’t think there is time.

So, what to do? Not vote? Not an option. Vote for the lesser of the 2 evils? (let’s face it there are only really 2 options). Throw away the vote and go Green? Show some throw-back loyalty to my first every boyfriend who is running for parliament for the Lib-Dems for the first time, bless him. I really don’t know. And there’s no point asking me tomorrow because remember, it’s between me and the ballot paper. I envy those of you with clear minds, either based on your jobs or your past experiences or your upbringings.

What I would like to do is go back to my fifteen year old self and tell her to get an opinion, find out information, ask questions, maybe even go to some events. What I want is to be able to talk about it with my children so that they get some ideas about it all. I can’t be the only parent who struggles to explain it to their children? If I can’t find unbiased, useful info then how can I expect them to? I know we can read the manifesto’s and the leaflets but in reality how much of that stuff will actually happen? How many of the promises will fall by the wayside when they realise that it simply won’t work? How cynical do I sound for someone with no political leanings?

We will know in the next 36 hours or so who is going to be running the country for the next 4 years. And, frankly, I am worried.

 

 

 

A lump in my throat

I’ve just waved K off as he heads off to Germany for a week. Well, 5 days and 6 nights to be precise, he will be back next Friday, but it feels like a week. Since we moved in together 17 years ago, we have never spent more than 2 nights apart. Neither of us has ever been inclined towards holidays away with friends without each other, even if we had the means. We’ve always wanted to go away together, and since having the children this has been a given. I’ve had weekends away, he’s had work trips away, so this trip has made us both a tad unsettled.

I need to explain. We’re not a lovey-dovey couple who can’t bear to be apart. We don’t shower each other with overt displays of affection. We just like being together. We like being at home in the evenings watching a bit of TV and chatting about stuff. We like spending time with the kids (why else have them?). We just like it that way. Of course we have time apart, we both have friends that we see (me more than  K as his friends are dispersed far and wide) and we do go out separately, but more often than not we are together. I often joke with friends that I would only miss him if he wasn’t here because I would have to put the bins out (in fairness it was one of the things I thought of when I knew he was leaving on a Sunday – “but it’s bin night!”) but in reality he does far more than that. He makes me feel grounded and he stops me worrying so much about stupid stuff and he makes me laugh. When he’s not here it just doesn’t feel right. And I can pretty much forget about sleeping.

K is nervous about the trip for different reasons to me. He hasn’t been abroad with work before. He hasn’t flown alone before. I usually organise trips (apart from last summer holiday) and take the blame when it all goes wrong. This makes him sound useless and a bit pathetic – he’s not, he is more than able to sort this and he has made all the arrangements necessary. He’s just not confident that it will all work out. He’s a bit apprehensive about the itinerary while he is away – mainly because he doesn’t have one. He is unsure what format the trip will take and he doesn’t know if there will be any communication issues, as he doesn’t speak any German. I’ve assured him that their spoken English will probably be better than his (let’s face it, he’s a brummie) and for him not to worry. A has given him the phrase “My name is K…” in German as a little bit of help. I suggested a name badge.

Making stupid jokes is the way we (in our family) seem to deal with nervous moments. I think it’s so that the subject matter seems less ominous. It doesn’t mean we don’t care, it’s just our way of saying “hey don’t worry it will all be OK” without actually saying it (because we are not American).  Here’s a case in point: K developed a rather unfortunate lump on his neck a few days ago and has had to get it seen to by the doctor. She diagnosed a boil (sounds very 1950’s) and prescribed a steroid cream. T’s immediate response was to refer to it as Susan. This has now stuck firmly in all our minds and we now say “Susan’s looking better” rather than “your boil is not too bad”. It’s mainly due to relief that the lump was nothing more sinister and therefore we can be silly about it. I was rather disappointed that my comment of it being where his bolts had been removed was overtaken by the Susan comment, but you can’t win them all.

An email K received from his German colleague last week confirmed the hotel booking and the plans for collecting him from the airport. It was signed off with “we look forward to welcoming you to our house”. Of course, we said this was surely due to a Google Translate issue and that they meant “to our company offices/our place/our town”. Then, we saw the hotel booking was for bed and breakfast. Still no big deal, as no doubt they will be taking him out for food each night rather than expect him to sit alone in a hotel restaurant (for K this would be almost preferable to having to be sociable). And then, it hit me. “Welcoming you to our house” might mean exactly that and he could be dining “chez nous” as the French would say (I have no idea what the German equivalent is). Unfortunately, the kids overheard our conversation and we now have an ongoing joke that he is going to be having selfies with Helga and Wilhelm, the directors lovely kinder, while eating home-cooked bratwurst and sauerkraut. Even his Auntie S joined in when we saw them last weekend. I was slightly perturbed by his Uncle D’s comment of “watch out for the lady-boys”. K reiterated that it was Germany he was going to not Thailand, and we have since put it down to a slip of the tongue; we think he meant to say “lederhosen”.

Joking aside, we will all miss him massively while he is away. A has sneaked a letter and cuddly Panda toy (his nickname) into his suitcase, T has been giving him way more hugs (i.e. more than one) than usual and I have found myself looking at him a bit longer than I normally would (i.e. more than a few milliseconds). He has promised to FaceTime and asked if I would like him to bring back a bottle of Gin from duty-free (did he even need to ask?) so it’s not all bad. The week will soon be over and he will be back with us: annoying us with his singing, farting and general nonsense. And it will be fab.

 

 

Re: the title of the blog piece. Whenever I am a bit stressed, I get the sensation of having a lump in my throat. I first had it when we were planning our wedding and after weeks and weeks of being convinced I had throat cancer and would not make it to the wedding day, I finally plucked up the courage to see the doctor (funnily enough, the very same one that diagnosed Susan) and she gently asked me if there was anything big going on in my life, with a quick diagnosis of a stress-related phantom ‘lump’. It comes and goes at certain times but is never more apt than when waving K off this lunchtime. A true lump in the throat moment.