Tag Archives: humour

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.

Home Alone

Don’t worry, this isn’t a film review about small blonde boys running amok, scaring off incompetent burglars. I’m talking about me. Again.

It is the Easter holidays and I have worked for the first two days and now I have a glorious (regardless of the weather) 12 days off (including weekends). K is off for just slightly less time. We don’t have much planned; we’re not going away. I am mostly looking forward to not rushing up – I don’t like to lie-in but anything past 6.30am will do me fine, thank you very much. I am looking forward to not having to sit at a computer all day. I am looking forward to some walks and maybe some bike rides and perhaps a day-trip to the coast.

The kids, on the other hand, have made it very clear that they are cramming as much time with their friends into these first 2 days as is humanly possible, as they will be stuck with me and K for the remainder of the holidays. They haven’t said it out loud, but I can tell. I asked them both to ensure that all homework is done before the close of business today (no I didn’t use that exact phrase) so that we don’t end up with frantic, last-minute panicking ruining our break. A spent most of yesterday doing all of hers and has free time today to go out with friends. T’s response was “but I only have these 2 days to see my friends…..” (and then I am going to have to spend the rest of the time with you, you boring old woman, and you are going to make me do ‘family stuff’ and I will be bored, so no, I am not going to do my R.E. revision, are you mad?)  It’s the unsaid words that are the loudest.

I love that my kids have friends that live close by and that they have a safe environment to go out in and that they are free to do as they like (within reason) most of the time. T has spent most of his free time lately going for long treks through the local woods with his friends, undoubtedly annoying dog walkers and wild animals. A pops out with a friend, they come back here and giggle in her room. It’s lovely.

But, I see friends with younger kids going to the Zoo, the Farm, the Park and I feel a bit wistful. I used to love going to the Zoo. I still would love going to the Zoo but might look a a bit odd on my own. I suppose I am forgetting the horrendous trips where it started raining and we had to dash back to the car, or when someone spilt their ice-cream all over themselves, or the time at the Farm when my friend’s child slipped over in pig excrement (this wasn’t just poo it was Excrement with a capital E) and we all stood horrified not knowing what to do with him. Or the time when we went to the seaside and A fell over at the waters edge and I HADN’T TAKEN A CHANGE OF CLOTHES (*) so she spent the day in her brothers thankfully very long hoody in lieu of  a dress. The list of nightmare events while attempting to enjoy ourselves is never-ending. But, I forget all those when I see my friends pictures of little faces beaming at lambs, or baby elephants. I remember the time when T held a rabbit for the first time and the look on his face and him whispering to me how soft it was still makes me want to weep. And the time when A wanted to feed the lamb but was too scared so we did it together and she held my hand while I held the bottle and we laughed at how hard it was to keep hold of it, even with 2 of us doing it. I wish I had enjoyed those moments a bit more. I wish I recalled those moments more than the ones with sick involved.

As much as I would love more of these moments, I am not going to force my kids to spend the next 12 days solely in my company. We will have some days out where we will be on our own together, just us four. But, it wouldn’t be fair on them to stop them going out and seeing their friends. I am sure K and I will have plenty of Home Alone time and that is quite nice too, especially as it is guilt free alone time, i.e. we haven’t ditched the kids at my mum’s or taken time off during term time to have a day off on our own – the kids are off out doing their own thing, having a great time, and so we can too. There are definite bonuses to having children old enough to fend for themselves, who like to be left to their own devices sometimes (most of the time) and who, when they do spend time with us, are good to chat to and nice to be around (most of the time) and who are less likely to puke down themselves, fall in mud (or excrement) or into the sea.

So, although I may be feeling wistful at the ever-changing, teenager-centric, world I live in and remembering the rabbits, I do actually quite like it how it is now. For now.


(* a lesson I never really learned from and still see as one of my biggest mum-failures. T had to once borrow a pair of pants from the well-stocked boot of my friends car when he had a slight accident on a day out at the farm – the same farm as the pig poo episode but on a different occasion.)

“Flu”, festivities and Faith

On Christmas Eve eve K began to feel slightly unwell. I put it down to a bit of tiredness and slight hangover from my office Christmas do the night before (a brilliant night out which we both thoroughly enjoyed). But by the time we went to bed he was coughing and feeling achy. He had a flu jab earlier in the month so I pronounced that it couldn’t be flu and that hopefully he would feel better in the morning, with a muttered but still audible “you’d better not ruin Christmas”. I’m not unsympathetic; I don’t like anyone being ill but I don’t pander to it and I reserve the right to being a bit pissed off if he had ended up being in bed all over the festive season. He’s not a shirker; he will generally go to work even when he is at death’s door but he does tend to feel a bit sorry for himself and make everyone know that he isn’t feeling well.

Anyway, moving on, he didn’t feel any better on Christmas Eve morning but insisted that we still go ahead with plans to see my brother and his family, but that he would not be joining us on our planned walk to the pub in the next village. We went anyway and it was very nice. My brother and I haven’t been in a pub on Christmas Eve together since circa 1997 and it would have been a lot more full on than the half a lager that we had this year. But it was nice to get out and get some fresh air and the kids didn’t moan about the length of the walk too much – I think it was the lure of cake when we got back to our house.

Christmas Day dawned and he was a trooper and we had a lovely day with Mum and Dad here. He didn’t eat all his Christmas Dinner but it would have probably over-faced anyone who had been slightly under the weather to be honest. I don’t hold back when it comes to Christmas Dinner. But he did use the fact that he hadn’t eaten all of his dinner as proof that he was “clearly not right” and mentioned it several times over the following 24 hours. By Boxing Day he was feeling pretty much back to “normal” (I obviously have to use this term loosely) and, as we had a chill out day planned, by the evening he was feeling ready for a day at his brothers house, with the 4 hour drive it involves, the next day. Another lovely day was had by all. The journey home was eventful with A getting a nose bleed 20 minutes in meaning a stop at the services to clean her up and stop the bleeding, and then feeling sick 20 mins from home meaning a stop at the side of the road until she felt better (a biscuit from one of the three – yes, three – boxes we had received from K’s mum helped). And then the festivities were over.

So, on to Faith*. Boxing Day morning mum called and after the initial chat, she said “What about poor old George then?”. In my near-constant state of unawareness (and because I hadn’t had chance to look at Twitter yet) I hadn’t heard that George Michael had died. I have to confess to a small gulp and a forcing down of some leakage from my eyes. I refer you back to my blog when David Bowie died and I recall that I was rather disdainful of the outpourings of grief and people ringing in sick to work because they were distraught. I didn’t feel distraught but I did feel a pang of sadness that someone who had been such a massive part of my teenage years and who had adorned my bedroom walls for several years was no longer here. I haven’t followed his career much since Listen Without Prejudice (still my favourite album of his and Mothers Pride never fails to make me cry) but I still feel sad that he has gone and think he was sorely undervalued with people making too much of his sexuality and his so-called misdemeanours. He had a wicked sense of humour which people took as arrogance but you only have to watch the clip of him and James Corden doing the first ever carpool karaoke to see how self-deprecating he was. It’s only since his death that his philanthropic deeds have started to come to light, proving me right and that he was a good bloke who messed up a bit (who hasn’t?), with his gifts to people in need and many unpublished good deeds. Very sad indeed.

Today, I am back at work and if it wasn’t for the fact that I only have today and tomorrow before another 4 days off I would be very, very fed up indeed. As it is, I have just had a cup of tea made for me by the boy and a slab of Christmas cake made by the girl and all is well in my world.

*I haven’t made the link for you between GM and Faith because quite frankly I shouldn’t have to. Ok, Faith was his first proper solo hit – you can’t count Careless Whisper because he wrote it years before, and credited Andrew on it so that he would have equal shares of the royalties. Because that was the sort of guy he was.


The art of letting them down gently

A is not interested in boys, yet. Of course, I say “yet” because it goes against the laws of nature to suggest that she will remain disinterested until she is 22, although I think K would like it very much if this were the case. (I am also making a great assumption here that boys will be her choice of romantic interest in the future – who knows? – but let’s go with it for now). Apart from a moment when she was about 4 when she picked up a copy of a magazine that I had lying around and told me to “look at the picture of this man, Mummy, he’s soooo handsome” (it was Ryan Reynolds. The girl has taste) she has not been remotely interested in boys in her class – smelly, stupid, or basically they are like siblings as she has grown up with them. She has boys as friends; she had one very special one who she used to talk about like he was her soul mate but he sadly moved away at the end of year 5. She gets on OK with boys – she has a brother and this helps her not to feel awkward around them, I think. Although, I have a brother and I still feel awkward around most men so not sure that actually has any bearing n this whatsoever….Anyway, you get my point – boys can be OK but mostly they are annoying and idiotic and irritating (is she wrong?)

I wondered when she started at secondary school whether this would change and she would start to make romantic attachments.

I can remember vividly the moment I noticed boys as Boys and not just boys. It was a friend of my brothers at secondary school and he had his ear pierced and was basically, in my eyes, drop dead gorgeous. Of course, I was just P’s little sister with the short hair cut and the awful A-line skirt and there was no way on earth he would ever see me as anything else. But this was actually the point. I really only ever had crushes on completely unobtainable boys – I think it was a way of keeping myself safe from rejection. If you are never, ever likely to get noticed then there is nothing to lose. You can suffer in your unrequited love from afar with no fear of discovery and the inevitable humiliation. It was only when I left school, got a job, started going to the pub and found the bolstering power of a couple of vodka’s that I started to be more realistic and put myself out there (that sounds wrong, I don’t mean it like that!) a bit more. I was always the one to end the few, very short relationships that I had. I think I enjoyed the flirting more than the actual “going out” bit!

Anyway, enough of me. Back to A. So, I have been waiting for her to mention names in more than just a “god he’s so annoying” way, but nothing. Which is great. Please don’t think I WANT her to be into boys yet; I don’t actually want her obsessing or being distracted by it all, but it is going to happen and I’m just bracing myself here. But today, she came in from school and after the usual “how was your day” (me) and requests for food (them), enquiries into homework (me) and assurances that it is all in control (them) A confided that she had felt a bit awkward in French. Apparently, a boy that sits behind her in class has been shamelessly flirting with her since they were put in a set together but has always kept it at that. Until today…..when he upped his game and asked her to go out with him. And her response made me feel chuffed. She told him that she was sorry but she liked being friends with him and didn’t want to ruin things by agreeing to be his girlfriend. He made a typical boy response of “oh, well, I was only joking anyway, so that’s fine” and they both laughed it off. Top marks to her for being so quick thinking and kind and not laughing in his face or pretending to be sick while shouting “NO!! What the hell are you thinking of?!!!” I am sure she will have other offers over the coming years (I am biased but she is lovely – inside and out) and I hope she will let them all down just as gently.

Until she is at least 22.


Music and monkey leg

On Monday night A was part of her house choir for House Music at the Alban Arena. I’ve not been to this event before as (funnily enough) the boy doesn’t do singing. Unless it’s in a piss-taking way of the music I like to listen to. What an evening! I didn’t expect it to be as brilliant as it was. I had heard it was a great event but was a little sceptical based on previous experiences of Recorder assemblies and Guitar performances at Junior school. this was a whole different league. Some really good singers, some good musicians and a standout performance by the Staff Choir (with a side-splittingly brilliant rap section by T’s maths teacher). A’s choir did really well and she sang with her usual wide smiled enthusiasm. The evening was all the more enjoyable as it featured two of my favourite songs – It Must Be Love by Madness and Hey Jude by The Beatles. The best part of the evening for me was the collective reactions from the students when their houses were on stage – the noise and the shouts of encouragement were deafening.

Today T and I were back at the fracture clinic with all fingers crossed for the cast being removed. And it’s off. Apart from an offensively smelly foot and disgustingly flaky skin on his leg it looks great. It’s also INCREDIBLY hairy. So hairy it looks like it belongs to a different body to the other leg. It’s basically the leg of a gorilla (not technically a monkey as in the title of the blog but I claim poetic license). But frankly I couldn’t care what it looks like or how bad it smells (not now as it was, of course, cleaned the moment we arrived home and will be soaked in the bath for at least an hour this evening). All I care about is this ten week long logistical and at times painful nightmare is over. He needs to take it easy for the next 2 weeks and use his crutches but in 4 weeks time we are expecting him to be discharged from the clinic for good. Hurrah. I have to confess to feeling a tad emotional about it all. I still can’t think back to “that day” without getting a little bit wet-eyed. I haven’t really allowed myself to imagine the day when the cast came off as I’m such an err-on the-side-of-caution person that I only imagine the worst most of the time. It’s such a relief and it may seem that I’m being overly dramatic but hope that those that know me well enough know that “drama Queen” is not really my style. What is my style is normal, run of the mill, plodding along nicely and broken legs and full leg to thigh casts don’r really fit in with that. This is also not all about me as it’s T that has had to deal with the worst of it all. But I feel his pain so much and hate when either of my kids are hurt of unwell. It’s just not how I want things to be. So, hurrah, hurrah, hurrah!

Roll on this time next week when we will be cosied up in our little mini-break (I’m not allowed to call it a holiday) cottage with the log-burner going and my little world will be as close to back to normal as it can be.




Swimming, peacocks and envelopes

Three things that have made me smile today


I’ve been for a swim before work. Yes, I know I seem to be coming up with some new exercise or diet thing every other week but this one MIGHT actually take off. On the days when I am not doing the school drop off I have decided to leave when the kids go and do some lengths at the pool at the hotel down the road and then get to the office or back home to start work. I really enjoyed it this morning and can feel muscles that haven’t been used for a while so that has to be good.


We have had the radio on in the office as usual at work today and Jeremy Vine was on at lunchtime – we normally turn over as he makes us all rant too much normally. Today (among other things) he was interviewing some people about the suspected killing of a village peacock called Pat. The whole 15 minute long section made me nearly cry with laughter. You had to hear it to get it, but trust me, for someone that lives in a village where complaints of crowing roosters (is that right?) and rampaging cows this was genius radio.


I had a customer send me a very ranty email (to be fair a lot of them are ranty but this one was particularly ranty) with no full stops in the entire 10 line long email. She was complaining that the free envelopes she was expecting with her order had not been sent. And she expressed this over 10 lines. She used the word envelope at least 20 times and I got the gist that she wasn’t happy. Luckily I know my ink (sad but true) and know that the envelopes are in the pack with the free paper and suspected she just hadn’t looked properly. I sent her some polite advice. While waiting for her reply she has become quite real for us in the office – we have been imagining her cats that she lives with, what they are called and the slippers that she wears. She has since emailed again, apologising for her error and praying that I will reply soon as she is really very sorry. I might leave it a few hours before I reply. Cruel? Me?

God, I’m easily amused.