Archive for February, 2010



O is gurning. This is not a new thing. I do have many pictures of him with his face pulled into various unedifying shapes. One noted example looks as if his face is stretched out with a coat hanger.
But this new gurning – this is an advanced, more disturbing phase of hideous face-contortion and is coupled with the need to repeat the following two phrases over and over again in a strange slowed-down monotone:

1. Chicken, chicken, chicken…[repeat to fade]
2. I’m going to smack your bottom until it is red

The second phrase in particular is wildly infuriating when repeated for the twentieth time in a row. There are variations – ‘I’m going to smack the television’s bottom until it is red’ – and so on.

I am praying that the phase is short-lived. It feels like I’m living with a singularly challenging changeling. I am trying to be calm and unruffled, but can feel the irritation rising. The war of attrition is on and I am scoured by the abrasive horror of the gurns. How will it all end? *weeps*

Ah well, school’s back tomorrow…


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>Notes to self re Pancake Day 2011…

>1. Do not attempt to make pancakes on a gas hob whilst wearing a woolly poncho. The smell of burning wool will put you off pancakes for life.

2. Remember that your smoke alarm is as highly strung and sensitive as a thoroughbred racehorse and will emit piercing shrieks every time you open the kitchen door to hurl another slightly charred pancake at your offspring.

That is all…

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>The Cat’s eye

>We’ve been to the vet again this evening. The Cat has uveitis in her left eye and has been shuttled back and forth from the vet’s since May last year with poorly eye-based traumas. It seems we are getting to the end of the road with treatment and we’re on the final roll of the dice before we have to bow to the seemingly inevitable step of our brave kitty having her eye removed to save her any more pain.

O came with me to the vet’s tonight. He likes coming – he croons to the Cat whilst she wails in the car, he brings his toy puppy who often gets a bandage and he loves to look at the poster which details (and when I say details, I mean details) the varying consistencies of rabbit poo. Tonight after the solemn appointment with the vet, we were getting back in the car.

O: How many lives do cats have? They have nine, don’t they? How many lives will the Cat have left when she has just one eye?

Me: She will have one. Really cats just have one life, but people sometimes say they have nine. What they mean is that cats have nine chances to get out of tricky situations.

O: We only have one life, don’t we?

Me: Yes, just one. (I always get a bit twitchy at this point in this type of conversation).

O: It’s a long one though. Mummy, I don’t want her to have just one eye. I don’t want the vet to take it out. She will be sad, she’ll look funny, I don’t want the vet to take it out…

At this point, O dissolved into sobs and could not be comforted. His sobs joined the cries of the Cat who was sat in the passenger seat in her box. It was rush hour, it was rainy and dark. I gritted my teeth and drove and tried to both soothe the Cat and think of reassuring things to say to O to calm his tears.

It was a fraught journey. When we got home, I took O upstairs along with M and we spent the next fifteen minutes on the PC, looking at cats who only have one eye on an American cat rescue site. It was quite therapeutic for all of us.

I don’t want the vet to take it out either…

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>I’ve had to come upstairs to bed to rest my head. I’d just enjoyed an episode of America’s Next Top Model (don’t judge me!) and then to instil a sense of balance into my viewing, I started watching the Horizon documentary which explored the troubling concept of infinity. I lasted ten minutes and then fled from the television, chased away by the mindblowing horror of a googolplex. My head is seriously woolly from being at a critical appraisal course all day – I am dazed by confidence intervals, P-values and absolute risk ratios and the googolplex has sent me over the edge. How can a number be too big to be written out because there isn’t enough space in the universe?? *cries*

It took me back to an earlier time. My little sister used to drive me crazy when we were small, asking me ‘why does the universe never end?’, usually when we were supposed to be going to sleep and she had tired of lighting up the bedroom for the googolplexth time with her annoying GloWorm. The only way to get her to stop was to leap upon her and thump her hard until she begged for mercy. Once we had grown up to be mature and reasonable sisters, the taxing questions stopped and I stopped thumping her.

Sadly, it appears that the fascination for this type of question has passed onto her nephew, as O is also fond of the infinity-based question and is always trying to ascertain what the largest ever number is and what is beyond the edge of the universe and how can the universe never end and how long would it take to fly to Jupiter….and on and on and on…

I try my best to answer, but can feel the edges of my brain frying as I too wrestle with these big questions. I wonder, would it be too cruel to subject his five year old brain to the concept of the googolplex or should I blow his mind with the power of this savage number? Perhaps it would give me breathing space. Alternatively, I could just send him round to Auntie K’s house with his list of questions and exact a sweet revenge…

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>It’s reet foggy here in West Yorkshire tonight – a proper pea-souper, thick and ghostly. Me and O were driving over the hills on the way back from Granny and Grandad’s and it was a wee bit scary. We were listening to the ‘Best of the Doors’, grooving to Roadhouse Blues and trying to follow the white line as we ploughed through the gloom.

O was doing his usual backseat driving – ‘accelerate, Mummy, foot down, turn left here, don’t forget to indicate, it’s 30 miles an hour, straight on…’ – and rambling on in that delightful way five year olds have.

O: I like the fog. It’s like being in outer space in Cosmic Quantam Ray. I’ll be Robbie Shipton and you can be Allison. Turn here.
Me: OK, what shall we do? I am turning.
O: You drive the spaceship and I’ll do some backflips like in gymnastics. Jack at gymnastics has got two mummies. That’s strange. Can you see the wall? I can.
Me: Well it’s unusual, but think how nice it is to have two mummies when having one mummy is fantastic.
O: Yes, you could have more snuggles and more toys. I think it would be nice to have two mummies. But we should keep Daddy as well.

As we drove home through the miasma to the apocolyptic strains of ‘The End’, I pondered this new familial set-up, but was jerked out of my reverie by the Eureka-like cry from the backseat:

“Maybe Granny could be my other mummy!”

I think M might have something to say about that…

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>The joy of….bubble baths

>Before O was born, I used to love to soak my cares away in a big, deep soapy bubblebath. Such a cliche, but it was the one thing that could clear my frazzled mind, ease niggly period pains and generally put my little world to rights.

After O was born, luxuriating in the bath was not generally an option, but I’d take my opportunities when they arose, even having the odd 3am bath when the nights were long and the baby was wailing. I’d like to say these nocturnal baths were as mentally soothing as before, but sadly I think it would have taken more than a bubblebath to sort my post-natal head out…

After the bombshell of breast cancer, I suppose I needed the power of the bubblebath more than ever. It is typical of the general crapola of cancer that even the pleasure of the soak was often denied to me. When I’d had my surgery, I couldn’t submerge in the bath for ages as everything needed to heal and I had a nasty infection that took forever to clear up. For those with a strong stomach, I still have the super close-up photos that the district nurse took of my nasty wound. It is not for the faint-hearted. Moving swiftly on…

On the upside, during chemotherapy the healing powers of the bubbly bath really came into their own. The hideous bone aches were eased and the sickness abated whilst I lay like a zombie in the foam, quietly admiring my hairless parts (sorry TMI) and hoping that the need to shave my legs would last forever – yeah, right! I had never realised the liberation of dunking my head under the water though – there was one good thing about being a baldy.

Radiotherapy was not good for baths. I spent most of that month slathering my poor bosom in aqueous cream. It was not a good look, especially not with the granny bra, but I could have swum the channel no bother.

And now – long, lazy bubbly baths are once more the order of the day. I’d like to say that I light the scented candles, have the fluffy towels warming on the radiator and have glass of chilled white wine on the side of the bath as I wallow in decadence. Sadly, the reality is more mundane. Last night, I had a dinosaur’s tail sticking into the back of my head, was sat on a Gogo and two plastic aliens fell on my head. This whole sorry display was witnessed by a plastic model of Top Gear’s Stig, who silently glares at me through his visor from his position by the taps.

I wouldn’t go back to those pre-O days of mindless soaking though – life is so much more fun with The Stig and his gang of plastic friends…

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>Last night I spent a freezing and fruitless half hour sat next to our back door, holding a cheesy chicken cat treat and trying in vain to coax the Cat to stick her head through the catflap…

Please let me explain. The Cat is eleven and is familiar with the concept of ‘catflap’. However, the swaggering tom who has moved in next door is also au fait with the concept and is taking full advantage of this fact by coming into our kitchen and swiping my poor girl’s meaty breakfasts. My elderly neighbours who are very fond of the cat (mine, not the swaggerer) told me that Netto’s had a special magnetic catflap for sale. This magical device would stop Swaggering Tom from sauntering into my kitchen but allow ingress for the Cat as long as she wore a magnetic blob on her collar (red velvet, diamante – meeee-ow!).

I treated my best mate to a Netto trip and purchased the catflap. There is a whole other story to do with kindling at this point, but I will hold back. Once purchased and returned home, the catflap was then passed to my beloved, M, to fit in place of the normal catflap. This was done, although he did make a point of telling me how difficult it was and how it took a VERY LONG TIME. I did not bite – the Cat is a family pet and we all have responsibility for her happiness and well-being.

The Cat went out. The whole family waited with bated breath for the Cat to return, triumphant through the sexy new catflap. She did return – and proceeded sit outside, peering through the little window, wailing at the catflap whilst poking it with an ineffectual paw and then wailing some more. O was quite distressed, then in the manner of small boys the world over, envisaged a terrible scenario where the Cat would never come home again and would get eaten by foxes. I think he may have had thoughts of a new puppy to replace The Cat at the end of this doom-laden saga.

We coaxed and pleaded and pushed the Cat (M stood outside in his slippers trying to force a reluctant cat through a catflap is a very amusing image) but to no avail. She would not poke her neck with the magic blob anywhere near the catflap mechanism. O wouldn’t go to bed until I’d assured him that the Cat would be safe and not eaten by wild beasts and thus my lonely vigil with the cheesy chicken treat began.

Of course, I cracked. The Cat knows which buttons to press (but not how to get through a sodding magnetic catflap) and in this respect is very much like O when he does not want to do something. A show of wailing, followed by stubborn glances, followed by stomping off in high dudgeon ensured that I opened the door and allowed the Cat to bypass the catflap.

The flap has been in operation for two days. So far the Cat is holding firm on her protest and has not yet entered the house through the magic catflap. I am running out of ideas on how to break the deadlock and I know M will go bananas if I ask him to refit the old one.

If anyone is reading, please take pity on me and tell me how to teach this old cat new tricks…

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