Crime Franchise

I have lost all interest in cooking, because it is boring and unrewarding and no one eats it properly because they are entitled. I am oft heard to say:

JUST YOU WAIT UNTIL YOU REALISE NOT EVERYONE’S MUM COOKS OTTOLENGHI FOOD LIKE PRACTICALLY HALF THE WEEK YOU LITTLE INGRATES and they are like:

So you keep saying. Where are the biscuits?

It’s very wearying. They sniff disdainfully at my Claudia Roden’s lamb and pear tagine and shove away their lasagne (because of the cheese, the Dreaded Cheese) and choke back tears at the sight of Gail’s poppyseed bloomer (‘those black things are DISGUSTING’), and one kid won’t eat pasta (I suspect as a ploy to help me differentiate him from the others, such is the scarcity of individual motherly attention round these parts), while the scabby-faced Otis prefers crisps and popcorn to actual food and mostly they all cry a bit if they are given carrots. Tonight, kids, do you fancy a little something from Nigel Slater? Weeping. How about the River Cottage cookbooks? Shriek. Honey & Co? Trembling all over.

Vegetable-wise, they accept cucumber and broccoli if there is some sort of dessert-deal to be had afterwards- like, eat the head of these broccoli trees and you can get an oreo ice cream thing, you hard-bargaining uncompromising buggers. They agree to rice and couscous but not quinoa or bulgar wheat, and I’m like WHY? Did you discuss all this in the babies’ waiting room in heaven?

All you anglo saxy babies, hear this: There are certain carbs and grains that just won’t ever be acceptable, even though you will have never tried them before and they are exactly the same as all the other grains and crabs in effect. DON’T TRY THEM. FEAR THEM INSTEAD.

Tonight, I have decided that I will fight against my urge to just eat re-presented eggs at every meal, and have decided to brave the freezing cold and take Otis – the Miraculously-Still Growing Otis who has managed to keep on developing into a normal-sized child on a diet of stolen Halloween sweets and babyccinos – and we will make Jamie Oliver’s ricotta cannolini, which is fiddly but is like diving into a cheese and tomato bubbling pasta lake OF YOUR DREAMS. So I have to go and get creme fraiche which, owing to my hasty spelling and autocorrect is now listed on my phone to-do list under tins of toms and mozzarella as crime franchise. So I am apparently intending to go up to Waitrose to purchase a Crime Franchise. Which would be awesome and more fun than cooking endless rejected meals and tidying up other people’s stuff.

This morning, in fact, case in point, etc etc,  we had a drama because Casper couldn’t find his shoes. There is a place for the shoes, and it is by the front door, and it makes a lot of sense both intellectually and by the laws of common sense and basic physical laws to take your shoes off when you come inside and put them in the massive box filled with black school shoes. Then you know where they are when you are heading out, amiright? But no! NO NONONONONONONONONO nonononononono! Putting them there would be too SIMPLE! Too easy! Too drama-free! What you can do instead, and they frequently do, is to put them behind toilets and under strewn towels and firmly under the couch and behind doors and deep into the dusty dressing-up box and under beds and in the freezer and it’s only ever apparent that one shoe is missing when it is 3 minutes past the time you were supposed to run out the door. And I could even handle this if it wasn’t accompanied with wailing and kicking things angrily and the accusations of sabotage and theft and general malfeasance. This morning was the same, and Casper went from room to room, eyes heavenward, incoherently but loudly cursing his brothers who had DONE SOMETHING WITH MY SHOE and kicking walls and occasionally crying a bit or making some sort of frustrated screaming sound, all of which I ignored except when I couldn’t any longer, and went mental a bit and got all shouty and narrow-eyed and unhinged and told him

ENOUGH!

and looked under the sofa-cover and there was the bloody shoe ALL A BLOODY ALONG. So we get to school, late, and he turns to me and says

Mum can you please go back and get my cello? I forgot it and I will get a yellow card if I don’t have it

and I say NO. Suck it up, fella. I hope you get a yellow card AND detention, you unreliable shoe-putter-awayer with a potty mouth and a cranky morning temperament with some sort of inability to lift up sofa-covers with suspicious-shoe-shaped lumps beneath. 

That’ll learn him. Except, of course, it won’t.

And in other news of the children, one of them had a banding test at the amazing secondary school that he will get into in any case because of the sibling policy. He did a test to determine which group he should be in – A, B, C or D. I was confident he would be ok because he is a mathsy kind of guy, so the strength of that might bring him out of the C and D bands, because who knows what kids lurk in the C and D bands. The smokers, probably. Anyway, he came out of the test, we went off to buy posh bread from the Dusty Knuckle which only Mark and I will eat and he told me that he had to write a book review of a novel he had read. And he said that he didn’t think he had ever read a novel, so he wrote about Gary Larson cartoons.

OH NO MIDDLE CLASS FREAKOUT

Here they are, seeing Santa in November:

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And the smallest patchy-skinned member getting a proper old school haircut from the Cypriot barber:

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And another kid, eating artisanal bread for realz:

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Gary Larson, though! *dies*

 

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Head, My Head

It hurts, because last night we went to Taverna Do Mercado for some sort of port and wine-pairing dinner because it seemed like a great idea for a Tuesday night. GET OFF THE COUCH! Turn off Empire, get some heels on and get down to Spitalfields for some portuguese tapas and unrelenting stealthy wine-refilling from the generous staff. There was quite a lot of octopus and mackerel and cuttlefish on the menu which made me sad, though the chatty Italian woman opposite me was really much sadder because she thought she had signed up for the suckling pig dinner, and to find out that it would be a festival of pig’s ears and gross sea creatures instead of the lovely flesh of the baby pig was clearly a disappointment indeed. So I didn’t want to make a fuss after she made a fuss, because who wants to be that wanker who upsets the set dinner? Not me – so I just told the waitress that while I wasn’t *allergic* to seafood, I just really hated it SO MUCH. Even stock? she asked. Yes, even stock. Though, true New Zealander that I am, I finished my tiny protest by saying actually, it was all fine, because New Zealanders know that complaining makes you WEAK. I assured her I could just pull out the massive bits of repulsive fishy things bobbing about on the shared plates and I could sniff everything first in case of horrifying fishy juice leakage and she seemed satisfied with that.

So I just ate quite a lot of garnishes that may or may not have touched seafood-juice and bits of bread that people gave me because they felt a slightly irritated pity and I tried to get over myself. And of course the never-ending wine was quite helpful for making things feel a bit better. So we went for it and we wobbled home, me on my stupid heels which had worn down to the silver stumpy bit and the babysitters laughed at us and we went to bed a little bit ashamed and now there are minions in my head doing some scheduled roadworks with drill hammers.

This is Gaby, who may or may not have been bored by my winey conversation:

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Making things feel slightly worse is that our one remaining fish was bombarded with half a tub of fish food from the heavy-handed Otis a few days ago, and while the fish itself seems oblivious, his water smells like poo and death. I thought it was, perhaps, an actual bit of poo that may have been left under the couch or behind the door stinking up the corner of the living room, because that *can* and *does* happen in our place, but it was just a rotting tank. So I scooped out the fish, the mysterious deathless tiny fish and thought about cleaning the tank but then I thought NO MORE! I hate that fish and his tank and it is going to go to the bins and the fish, the mysterious deathless fish can go and live in the Serpentine. Mark walked in and stepped over the blackened stinking tank and I told him of my plans to release the mysterious deathless fish into the wild and he looked at me with sad eyes and said

But he might not make it

And I was thinking – Dude, you kill deer and pigs. On purpose. You were a butcher. You killed sheep and cows in the meat works. Why the sad eyes for the lone fish? He’s a battler, for sure, but he is also boring and personality-less and brings no joy into the family, only decay. Also his tank is not very stylish and obscures our Petra Borner print (apologises for obvious self-promotion here, but it had to be done). So he’s going to go, leaving the nest as it were, just as soon as my head stops banging and the sweats calm down.

More On Rot

Meanwhile, overcome with rotting pears and half-eaten apples, I made a Dorset Apple Cake. This is an example of when rot is #winning:

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And here is a photo of a cheese truck, with the eldest gulping a hot chocolate on a Sunday-Let’s-Run-Away-From-The-Others date. See the pre-teen ‘tude? It’s going to be harsh for us, having one sulky teenage boy grow into another sulky teenage boy, all wearing hoodies and trying to get away with never washing their hair and with such unrelenting sass coming from their once-baby-mouths:

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Anyway, cheese is quite clearly the answer for me in my current state. As is the whole fish disposal thing. Wish him luck in the Serpentine – it’s a tough world out there in the Royal Parks. It’s been real, mysterious deathless fish. Go well.

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The Donald Burns & Spending Le Cash

So, the baby has some sort of creeping leprous rash on his face and I suspect it is because I only feed him chocolate croissants and leftover American Halloween sweets. He looks cute until you get close and then you kind of back away…it’s the curse of being the last of a big bunch of babies, where your mother knows what she should do re: nutrition and age-appropriate film watching and regular cleaning of small bodies, but she no longer really cares about all that periphery. In return, he gets a lot of love and good-natured cussing competitions with his brothers. This morning Barnaby and Otis had a kind of 8 Mile rap battle cuss-off, but with no swearing and no Eminem. It was like:

Otis: You’re Queen Elsa. Ha! (delivered with surprising sass – kind of like how Cookie Lyon from Empire would have spat that out to Annika just before whupping her ass)

Barnaby: You’re a brown piece of furry toast 

And on and on and on, back and forth until Otis ran out of sophisticated insulting come-backs and instead hit him with these enthusiastic, slightly nonsensical but nevertheless linguistic triumphs of the made-up preschool variety:

Otis: Well, you’re a RIBBER FROG/PO-COCK/WITCH CAREBEAR

and so Otis took that round. In fact, all the rounds – Witch Carebear kind of acing it.

All this was my background noise while I was trying to find a park this morning so I could get the eldest to the orthodontist. When you arrive at the nice St Johns Wood orthodontist surgery, the upstairs is all very nice, but the NHS kids get sent downstairs to the basement where it is like a secret dental factory den of shame where it is clear the policy is the shit-toothed kids must be kept out of the sight of the well-heeled north Londoners. It’s all a bit cramped and sad down there, with nothing on the TV but a blue screen saying something like Radio Hastings will start at 11am. It’s like they just don’t care much, which is pretty sad, especially as the kids down in the NHS Dental Basement of Shit Teeth And Pain have enough to contend with, sporting as they do giant massive wonky tombstone teeth that need painful wiring and various gaps that you could poke chopsticks through. Anyway, mustn’t complain, because the NHS is awesome and looks after us and I love it.

What Else Do I Love Right Now? 

  1. Majestic Wine, because we had a party for Bonfire night and they have all this excellent prosecco which isn’t prosecco, but even more stylish yet significantly cheaper, and when you buy 12 bottles you get two crystal champagne flutes for us to break fairly soon.
  2. Bonfire night parties. Look at our Guy that we made! See how he coquettishly thrusts a polyester-clad leg out and cocks the other in a very Victoria Beckham-esque best-angle-what-makes-me-look-slim photograph manipulation-type scenario! And his ham-fisted hands in which to grab the nearest pussy and flammable hair and the smuggest face which was only hours away from being burnt off. And the party itself was fun and full of slow-roasted lamb and butternut squash and massive homemade sausage rolls. There were some admiring murmurs towards my colour-coordinated bookshelf and for a minute I felt I had made it as a believable adult in charge of various people and animals and stovetops. It was a win, as I believe they say. img_1782
  3. Reasons to buy street food. We went to Druid Street market so that Mark could *look at Japanese knives* but really my plan was to visit Monty’s Deli and to buy £6 hotdogs and drink really strong gin and tonics on a street with lots of bearded men and their girlfriends on a Saturday morning. Here the kids are, a few less than usual because, you know, babysitting each other is surely a perk of big families. They are posing with nonchalance, not knowing or caring that we were in fact about £60 poorer after eating/dropping the hotdogs and rejecting the vegan brownies:

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And barefoot, on a cold day, splashing about in water and FREAKING OUT the English:

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4. Obviously, Halloween and pumpkins and generally this time of year. It’s not offensively cold – it’s more about artful outfit-creation and the enjoyment of novel warm coats and socks and pub situations. These eejits spent about 100 of our good English pounds on these pumpkins which they carved and then cut themselves and then bled. I do not dress most of them, may I just hastily point out. This is all their own work:

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5. Skincare what is el cheapo. Have you heard about The Ordinary? It’s very cheap but magical, apparently – it makes you very young and beautiful in a few weeks and only costs about £5. I threw myself into the entire regime with gusto, and I got a little bit pink-faced and nearly raw on the cheeks, but I think that’s what was supposed to happen. Whatever India Knight says to do, I kind of do. So if you see me at Waitrose or at school drop-off or something looking like a tiny raw-faced naked mole rat, then you know it’s The Ordinary working some kind of heavenly trick.

7. H&M raids. I went to two sample sales over the last two weeks: Mary Katrantzou for a silk top and a tunic and Erdem for a massive glittery brocade skirt for millions less than at the shops, but still at prices that required shifty sleight of hand with multiple bank cards and  general creative payment trickery, but then you go to H&M on the way home and buy this for £29 and you realise this polka dot frilled viscose shirt is actually The One. Keep that on the DL though, ok?

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Restoration and Consolation

Everyone has been so kind. And I have been allowed to talk and whinge and cry and get cranky and I feel ok – so thank you to everyone who said something or provided cake or delivered flowers or took a kid away for a day. I wonder now whether I have been a little bit harsh about people – a bit cynical, a bit quick to decide that they would be unkind about me having another baby, and so

SORRY WORLD! You aren’t all awful people! Lots of you are ACE!

So now I feel uniquely qualified to tell you what kind of things work when someone is having an Awkward/Traumatic/Sad Situation like I did.

Cake

I got a lot of cake – homemade brownies, Hummingbird cupcakes, a whacking great big box full of Ottolenghi shizzle – financiers, friands,  passionfruit meringues, prune and chocolate tart, carrot cake, a mousse thing – it was like God himself sent down tiny heavenly edible buttery baked angels. Honestly, while it probably cost about £500 and I’m now 2kg fatter, it was worth it.

Lasagne

Someone gave us two nights’ worth of lasagne. It meant I could ignore the nagging, unrelenting, boring question of what we were going to eat, and instead, I could turn the oven on, lie on the couch under a ripped whiffy blanket and watch Ghost with the children.

Patrick Swayze

He kind of needs a special separate entry here, because when he dance-walks around NY looking for his killer, trying to protect Demi Moore and to tell her he loves her through the medium of longterm-couple-wordplay (Ditto! DITTO!), and, of course, whenever he does ANYTHING in Dirty Dancing, my soul is soothed, loins afire, my heart beating wildly from the Patrick-lovin’. Swayze as tight-pants-distraction is mind-glowingly effective therapy. David Bowie in his codpiece in Labyrinth would work well here too.

Other Gifts, Tokens, Etc

I don’t want to sound like a mercenary wanker here, but I was very happy to receive posh hand cream and a book. Gift-wise, the last two weeks have been better than my birthday and Christmas combined. LOOK HOW FAR I HAVE TO GO TO GET TRINKETS!

Friends

Obviously. This is the big one. In a sweeping, loose categorisation, I will include the kind and anonymous commenters who said they were sad and sorry, to the neighbours who gave me a street-hug, the eye-contact steady and fast as they let me tell them that I was ok, to the friends who messaged me one way or another in acknowledgement. To the friends who let me explain what a molar pregnancy was while they visibly paled and patiently shifted their overloaded shopping baskets from arm to arm in the confectionary aisle of Waitrose, to those who ate (more) cake with me and let me talk. Those who took a kid or two. The kindness of so many people was very healing, and the most lovely thing in all this was that people weren’t pretending something horrible hadn’t happened, and I was very grateful for that.

Getting Back To Normal With Excellent Women

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Last night we had dinner at the Dean Street Townhouse with most of the women who are in our bookclub. In that group, one had just flown in from Australia, one from Milan, one from New Mexico. One was just back from directing The Pet Shop Boys, one was about to launch an ethics programme for the NHS, one was about to screen her documentary about Sydney gay hate crimes in the 80’s, one was here for a commercial shoot, one was leaving early to feed her new baby and to prepare for her psychotherapy patients in the morning, another is jugging two jobs and is my cake-sister. To be in the company of brilliant, creative women who know each other well, who have witnessed all those things that matter, even if they are small and stupid and mean not much in the end – to have people to bear witness to it and to care – well, that is the most restorative and consoling thing of all. I am so grateful to my hot-flushed HRT-wielding, loud, cackling, brainy, kind friends.

I wrote a different kind of thing on a similar topic on Ben Starling’s blog last week. You can look it up if you have any appetite for musings on the way women share stuff.

Leather Goods & Outfit Triumphs

I also bought a new bag, which cheered me up a lot. It perfectly matches that Yves Klein Blue polyester second-hand sweaty dress I am wearing in the photo, with big seventies fluted sleeves and the distinct whiff of the overexcited overheated armpits of a lady who doesn’t get out much. That whole outfit was a masterclass of stealth thriftiness – £4 earrings from the V&A sale, an old H&M necklace which looked a little Lara Bohinc-esque but totally was not, and a leopard-print tuxedo jacket which was £9 in the Zara sale years ago.

So that’s it really – my recommendations for dealing with people who are a bit shaky and sad. Buy them sugary confections, be kind, take them out for coffee, show them men on film sporting clinging trou, and love them.

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I Think We Have Been Here Before

So it’s Saturday at 1pm and I am in bed. I am staying here all weekend, in fact, because I have been told to. It’s been a shitty week, and while part of me wishes I was one of those people who were elegantly discrete, the kind of person who holds things back and won’t engage with broadcasting everything, a person who deals with things privately, well – I’m just not one of them. And so here we are again.

How Birthday Weeks Start OK

It was my birthday on Monday and I turned 39. The day before we booked a babysitter and drove to Bicester to have brunch together and go shopping without childish interruption. I got a pair of Church’s oxblood ankle boots because they made so much sense – after all, pregnant women in winter are best in cheap maternity jeans and a massive jumper with shoes and coats and bags doing the talking. And low heels means you won’t fall over and tear your softened ligaments. Here they are, and here is me, driving home and probably still complaining a bit about how I could still feel the breakfast at Le Pain Quotient creeping up my oesophagus thanks to those pesky pregnancy hormones:

On my actual birthday I got a bit sulky because no one in my family said the words ‘Happy Birthday’ and no one gave me a card or presents. I got up, had a shower, made everyone pancakes, waited, gave people the Meaningful Eye but…nothing.  I stood at the head of  the table, clapped my hands like a teacher, told them all off for forgetting and had a little weep in the bathroom. I really was only after a little effort – badly wrapped chewing gum would have been fine – just a weak little ‘Happy Birthday’ hug would have done, but no. I attempted to shame them by asking what they usually get from me on their birthday and they said:

Ah, well, we get presents and cards on the bed in the morning and then we get our choice of breakfast and a party  with friends later and you make us a cake and we have balloons and we get to choose dinner…

Yes, I said. All that is what I do for you because I want to show you that I love you and I want you to feel special on your birthday. And I gave them the Meaningful Eye again and let the matter rest. But not really, because it worries me how these boys are going to grow up into kind and thoughtful adults who cherish other people and who get a sense of the joy of giving. Like, HOW? Not this way, Jose.

So bruised heart but in good boots, we took off to The Providores for turkish eggs and tamarillo smoothie, and S and I had a quick look at the Mulberry sample sale, then the Georgia O’Keeffe exhibition at the Tate and later Mark and I saw the Bridget Jones movie where we held hands and thought of babies (him) and labour (me). It turned out pretty nice except for my fears for the children’s future partners and the kindness (or not) of their souls.

But Then This Bit

On Tuesday we went off to St Mary’s for the first scan of the baby, which should have happened on my birthday but I was too busy at the Tate with Georgia and so I rearranged. We got into the room and the lovely sonographer smiled and I pulled down my jeans to the bikini line because I am a seasoned pro at this. I saw a baby on the screen and I told her I was glad to see there was only one and she said that she really had to concentrate, and that it might all take a bit of time, and we could talk to her later. We shut up, watched the screen, waited, and she turned to us and said the baby was sick. The neck was too thick, the brain looked abnormal, the placenta looked very wrong, the heart was damaged, the lungs were filled with fluid, the sac had too little fluid, the whole body was swollen. She said it looked like a chromosomal problem. She said that we could talk about options later, but that if I chose to carry on with the pregnancy, there would be health implications for me. Then they put us into the next room (for non-bullshit’s sake let’s just call it the Crying Room) with low couches and boxes of tissues and it was kind of obvious where all this was going. I didn’t cry, because I really didn’t want to.

The next day we had another scan at Queen Charlotte’s and it was confirmed that this was a partial molar pregnancy, which means that two sperm fertilised one egg, and the collision of too many chromosomes had made a sick and dying baby. The consultant said termination was the right thing to do, because the baby wouldn’t live for many more weeks anyway in utero. I still didn’t cry because I still didn’t want to, but then they sent us into another one of the Crying Rooms with bloody boxes of tissues and then I started properly. And didn’t stop for a few days.

So yesterday I had a termination at 14 and a half weeks. The surgery carried a little more risk that usual and so I consented to a blood transfusion and hysterectomy if the bleeding didn’t stop. Everyone was very kind, especially when I cried being wheeled into surgery and after I woke up. And then later. It was quick, and painless, and now I have to get my hormone levels down and not get residual cancer. And then of course I have to think about not having another baby, because even though six is mental, I want another baby. I know I was a bit unsure about this one, and I could only really see the reasons why it was all too absurd, but bigger than that is the fact that we have capacity for another, and we have already chosen to have a big family, and we aren’t quite yet done. And perhaps I need to stop apologising for that.

I KNOW THAT I ALREADY HAVE FIVE AND I AM VERY THANKFUL AND SO NO ONE NEEDS TO SAY THIS TO ME.

At the end of my first week of being a 39 year old, I am no longer pregnant, I am bleeding, I am empty, I am sad, but I am ok. We all are.

 

 

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Another Bad Idea

So, you know that thing when you have five kids, and a dog, and you think vaguely that it would be quite nice to have another baby, and so you are a bit casual about contraception (i.e. coil removal) but you just don’t get pregnant and then you think it is because your eggs are old, and you are old, and so is your husband, all of us all Too Old, then you get quite used to the idea that the former fecund and youthful ripe-like-a-bursting-pomegranate juicy you is actually just a dried up floppy bag of stretch marks and ruined boobs, and then you find out you are pregnant? You know that feeling?

Just me, then.

Apparently, there will be a sixth kid born to this elderly and overrun family on April Fool’s Day. Surprise! It turns out that human biology still works like it is supposed to, even if it is a little sluggish and tricksy. And I am a bit worried, and a bit embarrassed. It’s all a bit noticeable now; cocktail consumption shrunk to nil, jeans won’t fit, gut protrudes, and everything smells so, so bad. The worst things are:

bacon

burnt toast

clean laundry

cigarettes

pillowcases

perfume

people

onions

And food is no longer my friend. I get hungry all the time, and desperate, eating-in-the-middle-of-the-street desperate, shopping bags cast asunder, baguette ripped open, butter  opened and spread all over it by my fingers, ham slapped in the middle, sinking into the bread like a starving dog. Then immediately I feel like my insides will burst from the pressure. My stomach is repulsed by the food-intrusion and the metallic taste takes over and I make ugly faces from the biliousness of it all. Burping. Eyes closing at 7pm. Cranky and weeping. No vomiting though, just a feeling of perpetual hungoverness. And shame; because

  1. I have enough children already.
  2. The planet! The PLANET! I’m taking too many resources and using too much water and emitting too much gas!
  3. The other children will have less of us to go around and they will feel neglected and will have to spend many years in therapy.
  4. Mark. Poor man. He should be retiring on a boat somewhere or something.
  5. My career. My poor, poor career. The one that hasn’t started yet.
  6. Where will we all fit? Can six children sleep in triple bunks in one room? How traumatising for them. We will have to move back to New Zealand so they can have more room to grow and run. So what if we will be in the car all the time.
  7. People think we have so many of them for cultish religious reasons, and that’s embarrassing.

The jokes shame me too. The one about not having a TV, and the one about Mark not knowing how it happens yet. The football team thing. The jokes about vasectomies. The way that people tell us that if it is a girl, it will be worth it – meaning, probably, that if it is another boy we should bury it in the back garden. The concerned, kind faces from people who are worried for my mental health. The terrible domestic workload that another baby will present. The dog – how the dog should probably go, because we will all crack under the pressure that taking the dog out for a daily stroll will take on us. And the little hints that, well, it is early days, and the pregnancy mightn’t be viable, anyway.

So, it’s pretty much agreed FROM THE WORLD THUS FAR that this is bad news, and an all-round Bad Idea.

List Of My Other Bad Ideas

  1. My mullet haircut at age nine, though I think I can put some responsibility onto the walk-in, no-appointment necessary cheap hairdressers in Whangarei that I was taken to for the fateful cut. Puberty kicked in almost immediately, the short bits became massive curly side-wings, like Princess Diana’s hair when it was at its most bouffant, though with long silken strands hanging down my back. Almost impossible to grow out. Such a bad idea, that one.
  2. My law degree. Should have volunteered at a radio station. Learnt how to tell stories and broadcast them to people. Law was only good for making me feel a bit out of my depth. And for sending me into debt.
  3. Forgetting to get a proper job. Thinking that one would come to me because I was a bit awesome. This is a terrible idea. I should have chased one when I was young and unencumbered. Also should have been less arrogant.
  4. Trying my hand at product development. Money = firepit.
  5. Accepting that fishtank from Fiona.  The remaining brown tiny boring fish still hasn’t died. It’s like a wet cockroach who weathers inconsistent feeding, bangs to the tank, constant Pokemon on the telly. He should have been floating belly-up years ago.
  6. Eyebrow plucking. They are wonky and weedy and sad-looking. I am destined to colour them in for the rest of my life.
  7. Dressing in secretary suits when I was 14. Mum and dad showed us home videos from the 1990’s when I had luxurious afghan-hound lampshade-shaped hair and massive glasses and inexplicably, I was wearing a turquoise linen skirt suit. I also remember a banana-yellow one, a brown one, and several suits in shades of green. I am sure everyone else was wearing flannel shirts and jeans in the manner of Kurt Cobain. I have no idea where the secretary dressing-up idea came from. Precocious eejit.

You see? Full of bad ideas. And the mean neighbour had a shouty fight with me about my appalling children and my terrible parenting and so we called the police. She was very cross because, over the summer holidays, the kids were variously:

  1. playing with a ball outside out flat
  2. playing on the stairs outside our flat, opening up one of those fake fossil things where you dig and smash it to get it open
  3. playing a game where an old nike shoe was tied to a string, and they lowered it up and down over the stairs outside our flat like they were fishing
  4. playing the our communal garden and running around.

These things, she said, have driven her over the edge and it is my fault because I am extremely bad at controlling them. And during this shouty, dramatic, upsetting street-fight,  I’m was thinking OH MAN JUST WAIT TIL YOU SEE THAT I’M GOING TO HAVE ANOTHER UNCONTROLLABLE KID – PROBABLY A BOY. She’s totally going to go postal and throw rocks or something.

 

Anyway, in the meantime, this uncontrollable kid turned three:

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And my hair went right:

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It’s the little things, eh.

 

 

 

 

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Tooth: A Tale of Joy and Sadness

Today, one kid went to secondary school, three kids went to primary school, one husband went to work, two parents are in the jungle of Borneo watching orangutang and fireflies, the dog is back on the couch after his ‘special time’ with Rich The Amazing Dog Sitter, and the baby has been eating honey straight from the squeezable jar. All back to normal then, and not a moment too soon.

We spent a few weeks in Northern Cyprus with my mum and dad in a villa surrounded by mountains and starving cats who broke in and stole our food and feral dogs that ate my father’s shoes. Cyprus was hot in a way that felt scary, the heat a skulking predator just waiting to burn you up and turn you limp and lifeless and useless for anything but lying down and whinging a bit. It burned our skin badly, pretty much on day one, mostly because I forgot how the sun is supposed to function. The kids got shoulder blisters and new freckles and yellowy tans with intermittent heat rashes. I got some sort of nipple-sized yellow blister from an unidentified insect bite right in the middle of my reddish wizened chest and big teenage spots from the sunscreen. Ned got a smashed head from falling onto a rock, while Otis bashed his wonky tooth (again) on a porcelain plate and Noah broke his massive front adult tooth in half while climbing up into a waterslide on a two-storied gulet. Snapped off so close to the pulp, in fact, that it makes you feel a bit nauseous just to look at it.

Snapping Your Adult Tooth In Half – The Easy Way

We were on a boat trip around the bays of Kyrenia and we had all our teeth intact – always a good starting point:

The captain had stopped at a bay for a swim and cranked up the waterslide for the kids. It  started at the top story of the boat and ended up at the bottom, spewing kids out into the sea with a mighty watery propulsion. The kids lined up and took turns whooshing down the slide into the Med, swimming back around to the ladder, climbing up to the top story of the boat and doing it all over again. Later, when everyone was done, the captain turned off the water, closed the slide with a plastic lid and the kids swam and jumped off the boat. Another boat pulled up and started a weird, raving foam party which sent everyone arse over tit.

A while later we hear screaming and peer out into the water to see three of my kids paddling to the ladder, ranting about Noah and his teeth. Noah was swimming along desperately behind, with blood all over his face and a big horrified rictus grin, his tooth snapped in half like some sort of bad joke.

Once they stopped screaming, they told us that they had all been climbing up inside the waterslide and sliding down it on some sort of idiot boyish renegade mission until some water got flushed through the slide which pushed Noah onto his face with enough force to break his tooth and smash his mouth up. Once the bleeding stopped the captain upped anchor and drove us around to another bay while Noah sat there with his head in his hands, refusing even overpriced ice cream, such was his tooth-related despair and general discomfort. It was really horrible and typically embarrassing.

Then The Miracle Happened

At the next bay, Mark went snorkelling and dived beneath the boat and found the half tooth at the bottom of the sea. I’ll let that sink in:

AT THE NEXT BAY!

Like some sort of unfeasible tooth reunion miracle. It was a mystery, until we figured out that the tooth was probably caught up in the slide and was spat out into the next bay where Mark found it. It seemed to be a perfect fit when placed next to the wounded remaining tooth shard. So it was very precious, because we thought it might be able to be reattached and it was, in any case, a Miracle Sea Tooth and needed to be put into a safe place. So mum says

“Lets put it in my pill box – it’ll be safe there!”

And so we did.

Then the Tragedy Happened

The following morning, my mother opened up her pill box and there was nothing inside. She couldn’t remember if she had eaten the four pills and the tooth shard, or whether Otis might have eaten the four pills and the tooth shard, or even if the starving cats had used their cat-hands to prise open the box and eat the pills and the tooth shard, but WHATEVER, the tooth shard (and the pills) were GONE. The Miracle Tooth Shard was miraculously given, and then taketh awayth again. As were the pills, though no one – not the cats, Mum or Otis, seemed to suffer any side-effects.

And now Noah has some off-colour filling which will fall out repeatedly, so I am told, until he is a man, and then he will need root canal situations.

Here is North Cyprus and Ruins and Things

The villa pool overlooked by Five Finger Mountain:

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Bellapais Abbey:

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Dirty faces:

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Famagusta old town with mum and dad lookin’ fine (though hot):

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Cistern:

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The ruins at Salamis:

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Kyrenia market:

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Alagadi beach rockpool situation:

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Icons at St Barnabas Church:

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Beachside churchy-cave:

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A small boy in bloomers:

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Til next year, then.

 

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