Everyone is a little bit mad with me

The children are furious with me, because I have banned them from any screens today and I am making them sit at the table and finish their homework. The reason for the discipline is because they cannot walk down the road without playing “Who’s Got The Lurgy?” which is a kind of frenetic homemade wrestling kicking violent tag, which sees them running in wide arcs away from each other, and often into frail pensioners or onto the ROAD where enormous vehicles miss them by not much. It is all hijinks and scallywags I say (and bruised old people), until one of the children gets dead, spread out onto the road like so much damson jam with chunky butter all through it. I tell them that being dead on the road won’t be much fun, but still the Lurgy game follows us where ever we go. Any lull, any moment where they can regroup, and BAM they start shrieking and careening all over Queensway/the airport/Marks & Spencers wine department/Staff Only areas, frothing at the mouth and shaming me. So they are in trouble, and they are really mad, and I can hear them plot against me.

Their plan goes like this: At 5pm, I have been invited to watch their Purple Paper Pirate Puppet Show (their alliterative strengths come from me, but not their violent games’o’stupidity), which is apparently an actual show, with Barnaby as Art Director, Noah as Producer, the other two in some sort of overworked and underpaid intern role, where they are responsible for making tickets and cutting out pirate shapes. The tickets this morning were  addressed to me. But now, I am officially Uninvited. They are maliciously very busy coming up with people to invite whose names rhyme with ‘Jodi’ so they won’t have to deal with too much ticketing admin, but I will still feel deeply hurt and snubbed. So they are at the homework table, loudly putting forth names like ‘Rodi?’ and ‘Modi?’, imaginary Preferred Mothers who don’t ban the iPad or force them to write holiday diaries like their Real Mother Who Sucks.

But they don’t know the power I hold. Rodi and Modi won’t come to see the play, because they are badly-named imaginary mother substitutes who couldn’t come even if they felt like sitting through fifteen minutes of unintelligible nonsense, because they aren’t real. There is only me – mean, still cranky about the public shaming, but actual flesh and blood, and the only non-performer in the flat. SUCK ON THAT, SMALL IRRITANTS! You’ll be laughing on the other side of your small faces when you realise no one else exists! This Audience Of One won’t be trifled with! Ha.*

So, there is more. On Sunday, we went out to Whiteleys to look for second-hand books and to get something for dinner. We left the dog outside, the gate shut, water out, etc etc, knowing the dog likes to stand at the top of the stairs and survey the passersby, getting a few pats now and then, barking a bit for effect when another dog or squirrel dares to get too close. We ended up eating at Pizza Express, so got home a few hours later. There was a mean note stuck to our gate:


And I’m like WHY ARE YOU ONLY BEING MEAN TO ME? The dog is only 50 per cent mine. There’s a dad too, and he is perhaps also a discRACE oF ANY DAD’s, if you were applying the same standards. So whoever is watching me, all spooky stalker-like, is not seeing Mark. I carry the full weight of the bad-dog-owner burden. Then we had to think who had caught Magic roaming the streets, searching for bins to rummage, not once, but twice. Unfortunately, it is quite a few of the neighbours. They did leave a phone number, which I made clear to Mark that I couldn’t ring, because I would just start crying at the outraged mystery neighbour, so he tried, but they aren’t answering.

So we thought we could fix their spelling and leave the note on the gate, or we could give devil-eyes at all the neighbourhood until someone cracked from the terrible devil-eye pressure, but then Ned wrote this note which should read “No Burglars” but actually reads “nobogls”, and illustrated it with a kind-looking burglar whose arms are outstretched, desperate for a conciliatory hug. It is a work of genius – it is an unintentional shaming note of neighbourly LOVE, peppered with vowels which could mean anything, from “You Can Bugger Off, The Dog Is From Cold Nova Scotia” to “I’m Really Sorry About My Crapness At Caring For Animals”. It has been stuck on the gate since Monday morning.


Jesus would totes approve.

*Sia, Miley Cyrus and Hozier have similarly uninvited. I have no idea what they did to the kids.

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J.O.B – A Slacker’s Lament

Amazing! I just paid £66.00 to wordpress and now you will be able see my really short, lame videos that you could see on my instagram account for free. You guys are SOOOOOO lucky. I could summaries my occasional videos thus:

Short, boring, lots of background noise, messy kitchen utensils littering the backdrop. Sound quality a bit rubbish. Maybe the kids doing something recognisable, but maybe, equally, probably not.

But onwards, onwards into the media world I keep boldly going, like a super internet girl with greying hair and a permanent crick in her neck from always looking down at my phone. With knickers on over my tights, and dungarees because WHY NOT? I’M ONLY NEARLY 40.

Here is a teaser, a sweet taster, if you will. Casper and his class went on a school trip to Pizza Express in Baker Street last week, and spent the morning wearing paper hats, aprons, and making margarita pizzas. Truly, what a wondrous school trip that must have been. And so he came home, full of pizza-making bravado, and wanted to make the whole family some pizza, because he knows how. Noah was kind of disgruntled, because years ago, he went to an after school cooking club, and he came home with a pizza for us all to share which had some sort of horrendous olive, ketchup, tomato, jam and honey mashup going on, and so they both had a smallish tussle over the pizza-making origin rights. So they compromised, and we all made the Jamie Oliver base recipe, and they took turns bringing it all together. See:

It’s important to note here that we don’t always wear much more than our knickers when we cook. It’s a very warm flat. And that we like to sing the wrong words to “Oliver!”. And that we probably didn’t wash our hands all that well.

Then we had two birthdays in a few days, one kid turning ten, the other kid turning five. We had a joint birthday party at a climbing wall, to save making two cakes and two lots of party bags and all the stress and yelling that always accompanies the terribly humourlessness of trying to be a Pinterest kind of person, and here we are, the first photo of all of us in about a year, looking kind of over-it. And I don’t know what my hair is thinking, really, I don’t. Ned is a bit annoyed by the whole thing, so scared of the climbing wall that he stayed out with the baby and I and waited for his guests to finish with his birthday party climbing wall instructor. He found the whole thing a total drag. And we turned up half an hour late after the instructing had begun, with the 12 assembled guests wondering if we had died en route. It was really just the cake making us late, as we drove to Ladbroke Grove while it slid on its nougat and rice bubble chocolate layers, my fingers firmly clenched into vulnerable icing-free sponge layers, swearing under my breath and hating everyone.


Here is the cake – J.Oliver version, and then mine:



And anyway. It’s now the holidays, and so my thoughts turn to jobs, and how I can get one really fast and legitimately leave the flat in the morning and have somewhere real to go, for an actual reason. I’ve been getting a bit itchy for some money and a job and a future, and thought I should clean up my LinkedIN profile and start looking for jobs.

What I Learned When I Went Looking For A Job 

1. LinkedIN Shows You Up As A Bit Of A Loser

It turns out, when one starts down that deep, dark, twisted, low-self-esteem-engendering wormhole, luring you with the promise of tailored jobs and a community of ‘peers’, that every mofo you find yourself connected to has an MBA or equivalent. And while you were pissing about in the lost years, thinking you were young and you had time and it would all be ok in the end, because of your clear natural intellect and your wit and your excellent way with multiple brooch-application, those other buggers actually had some sort of gameplay and now they are all like, Head of Marketing for Europe and the US and whatnot and you are most definitely not.

2. LinkedIN Pretends You Are Employable

So LinkedIN compares and contrasts you with more successful people in your network. That hurts a bit. Then, LinkedIN hurts your feelings further by offering up job applications for actual qualified people, but you think LinkedIN means you.

There is a list of these suggested jobs, and you may well be onto your second flat white and be very excited by the caffeine-high and the prospect of all these jobs that your great buddy LinkedIN reckons you could do. And you agree with LinkedIN, because you did do very well in your English exams when you were 15 and you did write a really great essay in 1999, which so brilliantly contrasted and compared Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein with William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience, and you got like an A- or something, and so, yes, LinkedIN, your algorithms are right! I certainly COULD BE AN EDITOR AT THE BBC! LinkedIN also suggests you look at the Penguin Publishing jobs, and there are Senior Editing positions there, and there are marketing jobs paying £90k, and it is all so terribly overwhelming until you realise that LinkedIN is LYING TO YOU.

These jobs aren’t for you. You can’t get them. It is pretend, you fool. Besides, you have a baby sticking his finger into an electrical socket and who’s going to do the washing-up if you go galavanting about to interviews in ill-fitting officewear circa 2004?

That is what I learned.

So, before I stick my head in the oven, a la Sylvia Plath, here’s a photo of a salt beef bagel.


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Really awful amounts of voms

Oh yeah. So much vomiting, from everyone in the flat, except for the adults, and the dog, who have remained mysteriously unscathed. So much late night shrieking, followed by padding little footsteps, through the door, into the living room, onto the only place we have a floor covering, the Turkish rug we hauled back from Kas, where there have been projectile vomits like you wouldn’t have thought possible. Which gets really tiresome, really quick, and you forget to be particularly nice to the kid, the pale, sweaty, shaking kid, and instead you shout STAND STILL DONT WALK THROUGH YOUR VOMIT WHY DIDNT YOU USE A BUCKET GROSS THIS IS AWFUL PAUSE THE TV PLEASE AND PASS ME SOME PLASTIC BAGS REALLY FAST

and then you retch a bit. And you want your mum to come and help you do this thing because it seems unfair that you two are the only adults. Just because you are old, you have to clean up sick. And not even Magic, he of the I Eat Baby Nappies When I Have The Chance school of dog-thought, will come near. And how do you get it out of old Turkish rugs? I tried vinegar and baking soda, because it felt instinctively like the right thing to do, but I am not domestically-inclined in any way and I rubbed it in and then put a towel down and hopped on it for a bit, then thought nothing of it until Mark was searching for the TV remote under the couch right next to the place where the children like to vomit and said he could smell sick. I was like whoa! really? and my eyes went all wide and surprised and then I thought no more of it because the cleaner comes on Wednesdays. Man, I am slovenly and unskilled. And then we thought it was all over. Two weeks into the dual vomit/coughing fever thing, which every single day saw me at home with at least one feverish pale child, failing to do much comforting except for the occasional walk-by pat on the head, because I have an odd intolerance for weakness, even if you can’t help it and you are four, and I thought it was over. And then yesterday we get through the school gates and Otis starts a big coughing fit and then chokes and opens his mouth and a steady stream of weetabix comes out like a totem pole with steam. All over his buggy and wool jacket and I’m wiping it all off with wipes and feeling sick and hoping no one will notice the FILTHY VOM I AM ELBOW DEEP IN. And wishing I could go to a desk, in an office, with a small pot plant and sharpened pencils, with a computer and a short list of jobs to work through,  with a little lunch break and perhaps some office banter (maybe a tiny email flirtation with someone down the hall) and then I would not only get paid, but I would be clean and germless.

So, anyway, bad news on the fringe-front. After spending a quarter of a million pounds at Aveda, and bleaching my baby regrowth and being taught how to blowdry it back into a quiff, and gluing it there with mousse, two people have asked me why I have cut the world’s finest fringe into my hair. One of them said she loved what I had done with it – it looked different somehow – I thought she was referring to the cut and colour but then she said my new fringe looked lovely.


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It just grew that way after falling out a LOT, and I am doomed to look like a cheap, old imitation of Carly Binding from Truebliss. My beloved hairstylist from Aveda assures me that when it grows back more, my hair shall fall lushly like a many-follicled Rapunzel, though he puts mascara on his beard, so who knows if he is telling me the truth.

And then, lastly, on Sunday, Kerry and I ran in a 10k race and we are supremely awesome, getting in at 58:30 and only weeing ourselves the tiniest bit. We both said that our wombs were falling out, and would need swift readjustment in the loos, but the complimentary flapjacks were lovely and Mark and the kids came to watch just as we hit the finish line and my eyes watered with the love of it all. Here we are:

10423287_10153134628112577_8807576248544605469_nKerry is in the white shirt, though she said she’s quite happy to be that other girl, as am I. Shoutout to that other girl with raven hair and no accidental fringe whatsoever. It was fun, and I felt justified to buy a ready-made moussaka that evening, owing to my runner’s fatigue and displaced womb.

Sorry for the vomit talk.

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Happy New Year, all!

We came back from our Christmas break in Devon, where we swam and ran and ate a lot of duck and ham, and where we all wore a fair amount of polyester with varying degrees of happiness about it:


Santa didn’t bring any toast for Ned, real or otherwise, but he did bring a £4 Spiderman lunchbox which turned out to be the most favourite present ever. Not so much the Robot Dog, who lies discarded under a bed somewhere, sometimes emitting a robot dog howl of loneliness and neglect. And while Santa did bring Ned a Creepy Hand, which was so pointedly requested on his Christmas List, Ned says it’s the wrong kind of Creepy Hand. So, you win some, you lose some.

We went to the Christmas morning church service in Tawstock for the third year running. Last year the Vicar dressed Otis up as Santa and he was taken up to the pulpit to illustrate a message from the sermon – this year, Otis was too loud and so we had to go outside and slip on some gravestones instead. Casper also couldn’t resist kicking his feet against the pews while the Vicar was talking, and they all couldn’t stop singing rude words in loud falsetto during the carol singing, so they all ended up outside, one by one.




Please excuse the dummies. Dreadful things.

We took the kids to a beach near Appledore, which was bleak and cold and nothing was open. Then the dog ran away on some farmland, chasing livestock and causing Mark to run after him, over hill and dale, calling Magic’s name in vain, followed up by Casper who loves a drama. They all disappeared, and I was convinced that they would all have heart attacks – the sheep, Mark, the farmer when he saw a big stupid dog chasing the animals in contravention of the strongly worded sign at the gate. And the soundtrack to Benny Hill would’t stop playing in my mind, and though I knew it was not funny, well, it was kind of funny. Finally Mark returned, a muddy, tired looking Magic tethered to him by Mark’s belt, a look in his eye like a teenager caught on a stowaway boat to Calais with her teacher lover, who knows it all very nearly happened and whatever it took, it was worth it for those few moments of unadulterated dirty fun. We all jumped in the truck and skulked away, not meeting anyone in the eye in case it was the farmer with a rifle, looking for the owners of the runaway dog who may or may not have ran his sheep into ditches.

Before the dog did a Fenton:

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The cold.

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There were animals at the cottage where we were staying, and on the first morning we helped the cottage guy to feed his animals, and the kids collected eggs from the hen. They wouldn’t eat the eggs though, once they realised that the egg came out of a chicken bottom and that it was speckled with chicken poo. The animal-feeding novelty only lasted that first day. Soft city kids, eh? See Magic below, really wanting to chase those goats off a cliff:

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Then we came home to a living room smelling of pine and a floor carpeted in sharp drying pine needles and so many boxes of chocolate liqueurs. Really.

Then we had a party on New Year’s Eve which started at 5pm and included 11 kids. I forgot to eat much actual food, and midway through a game of Name That 90’s Song at about 10pm I realised that a steady stream of other people’s champagne could do funny things to your vision, and so I threw myself into bed without much of a farewell to all the guests and I was done, fast asleep until morning. The party carried on until after 2am, for those who can handle their festive tipples. It was a little bit embarrassing, my early and lame exit at my own party, although word is that no one really noticed I had gone.


Here I am, before it all turned blurry:


There are two things to pint out here. Firstly, I have unintentional two-tone hair. That regrowth is the worst I have ever had. It makes me look like I am wearing a mousey skullcap on my head. Secondly, about a year or so after I have a baby, my hair falls out a lot, then it grows back and leaves a little Friar Tuck fringe of new growth. I have quite a luxurious new tiny fringe, with thick, brown small tufty hair looking like I intended to have it. I cannot work out what to do with it. I think it needs to be blow-dried into hiding. Here it is again, in a photo where I am comparing my baby self to my old, now-self. I am almost embarrassed to show this, now I have pointed out my fringe difficulties:



Sometimes it lies flat against my head, sometimes it looks like I have attempted to flick it jauntily to the side. It is ruining me.

I am going to see Ronan next week, the Aveda hair guy who will no doubt have some genius plan involving bleach. Wish me luck.

And Happy 17th Wedding Anniversary to this guy. He defended my right to wear age-inappropriate slick-look cotton coated dungarees yesterday, with kindness, enthusiasm and integrity, and once again, I thought he was a little bit awesome.


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You can all come back, now. Please.

Look! It’s Robert Smith from The Cure! Really, it is. Both of those tiny, fuzzy, completely blurry little men are actually him, with huge hair and adult-emo-alarming makeup, in a kind of comfortable post-workout hoodie and bovver boots, singing The Love Cats and Friday I’m In Love with the current band line up, and we are primly sitting in the circle at the Hammersmith Apollo, politely clapping along like your gran might do, kind of amazed and overawed because it’s THE CURE down there! On a Thursday night! In Hammersmith! And you didn’t know they were going to play! You thought you were going to see scientific comedians make jokes about scientific things! Which they didn’t, by the way, but that was fine, because they did talk about alchemy and the Big Bang Theory and what it is like to be photographing Saturn and they did some live algebra, which made me feel claustrophobic and panicky, as well as some detonating of things on stage and some terrible, terrible rapping by an American neuro-scientist husband and wife team, who should (quietly) go back to the lab and leave the rapping for the rappers, and we learnt about botflies and sloths and statin drug-testing and watched a clip of a man who spoke space languages, gifted to him by aliens via lasers. So, basically, I know more than you do about science, and now I am REALLY MUSICALLY COOL AS WELL. Deal with it.




So, if London continues to be so cool, and giving, and full of unexpected treasures, as well as have really good window displays, really great new buses and appropriate seasonal temperatures (more on that later, but I’m looking at you, Southern Hemisphere), then why have you all left? Eh? EH?

We’ve had a mass exodus of friends, mostly scurrying back home to New Zealand, mostly for good, a few are bound for Dubai and one lot to Melbourne. Eight sets of friends, all over a two week period, with the two who have gone “just for Christmas” actually actively  looking for ways to go back for good. Gah. It’s enough to make you think that they all know something you don’t. And so I’ve been a bit lonely, and have had to fill the void with food, sample sales, gingerbread houses, laughing at the children and nativity plays.

Someone should really have taken the dog with them, though, right?

Here’s a manifesto, to convince you all to come back.

London: Why Leave?

1. It’s quite often full of free, fun stuff, plus famous people.

Here are street-performer bubbles and the Tate and the Thames and a stretch of sandy mud, just perfect for mudlarking on. Dig a little through that lot, avoid the anaerobic anthrax just waiting to be unleashed, find some Roman relic, and pat yourself on the back for doing free stuff in a free city. Seriously. Cheap and educational. Plus, one of the guys in our square plays football against Stella McCartney’s team, and last week, at the prize giving, Cameron Diaz gave out the prizes at our local pub. IT’S PRACTICALLY A MOVIE SET HERE.





Here are three of us, atop a ferris wheel in Marylebone, after school a few weeks ago, really liking the free Santa visit and the candy floss and the hot chocolate, and wondering if we will ever get into the Chiltern Firehouse to maybe see Cameron Diaz or some other such ‘sleb, because I like that sort of thing:


2. There’s a zoo.

Here’s the zoo! Not free, but you can buy a membership and hang out there all the time. The sadness of the zoo never really leaves you though. That’s a melancholic scene if ever I saw one – outside the new tiger enclosure, not seeing the tigers.


Luckily the children are shallow and can beam maniacally on cue:


3. You can go to Portobello Market whenever you like and gorge the children on crepes:

They become small, sophisticated men-o’-the-world who can eat international street food while squatting on a dirty pavement. Looking homeless, without socks.



4. Roman stuff is very relevant:

The kids go to school just off the Edgware Road, which used to be a forest where Queen Boudica was attacked, or something. In AD 60, according to my rudimentary googling. WHICH IS REALLY COOL! And then school asks you dress up like a Roman and they give you olives and grapes to eat, and you learn some Roman fighting moves and sing a song about Romans, and underneath your feet are some actual Roman roads. Apparently, Roman Day was as fun and as hotly anticipated as this guy’s birthday:


5. The place where you go and get your Christmas tree turns out to be your great grandfather’s farm, once upon  time. 

Yes. This one is hard to explain. But it turns out that Crockford Bridge Farm, just outside of London, where we have been going to for years for Halloween and Christmas and for picking your own strawberries and for days out in the Surrey countryside, is where my mother’s father’s father was born. They owned it, for a time. That weird land/family/ancestry link thing! Imagine the oddness of finding that out. Here are the kids at the farm, writing wish lists for Santa, walking through the (ancestral) forest and visiting him in his warm cabin.







6. Christmas makes a bit more sense:

The spicy gingerbready warm cosy Christmas thing DOES make more sense than a BBQ with some crayfish, a sweaty head from the polyester Santa hat from The Warehouse and a sunburnt swim. I’m not knocking a summer Christmas, I wouldn’t dare – but the seasonal appropriateness here is pretty nice.

More photos which don’t fit my nonsensical list:

Here is Ned’s Christmas wish list, dictated by Ned, written out with care by Barnaby. It’s an excellent list. Especially the (real) toast.


Photos of the kids for a community art project through the school, looking a tiny bit mugshot-esque:


Gingerbread houses from IKEA for £2.50: Thanks be to God, they actually worked this year. No one cried.

My peppermint bark. Ugly to look at, delicious to eat for breakfast:





And a lovely dancing angel at the nativity:

Merry Christmas everybody. You can come back home, now. Please.











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An assortment of not much

I have been running! With Kerry, faster and faster, and we are going to run in a race in January and it is all very exciting. Two weeks ago, running along Bayswater Road in the dark at 6:20am, I fell over and did this:

That’s a hairy knee:


That’s an elbow and forearm (Instagrammed and filtered for your viewing pleasure):


And no filter:


Have you ever seen a bruise more spectacular? Several friends suggested arnica, but I was like NO WAY, CRAZY LADY! I was all about letting this bruise come into full, painful flower, so I could dazzle everyone with my awesomeness and high pain threshold, and get some sympathy and attention while I was at it. You got to take it where you can get it, frankly. So I was at a Parent Council meeting last Thursday, and I was pushing up my sleeve, talking quite a bit about ways to get the community involved in the school, and kind of gesticulating with my damaged arm, wildly, pathetically, and no one was noticing, even though under the fluorescent lights my arm was fifty shades of grey and purple and yellow, and so at the end of the meeting, I pointed it out to the Council.

Have you seen my bruise, everybody?

And they were all like, yeah, you put it on Facebook and Instagram. And then I thought that maybe I could do with a job.


That’s an excellent drawing of an anxious skeleton that Ned did, and I post it here to show his skill with a pencil, but also to show the inner state of my mind when I remember that I turned 37 in October and I forgot to carve out a career for myself other than having babies. That was never the plan, and now I am getting a bit too old to be a coffee girl on a documentary set or an intern at a newspaper. So I went running this morning, and I was thinking about the day ahead, which is mostly about wiping things clean, and wondering why I was such a short-sighted fool, and where my ambition went, and actually, why I didn’t ever really have any in the first place. And then I thought about my failings as a parent, and then I had to run faster to exorcise the anxiety skeleton that was threatening to EAT ME.

I don’t know. It’s a very privileged, middle-class, boring non-problem to have. In any case, Kerry and I ran 5.41kms in 32 minutes, so something worked.

Other Things To Worry About

I have a sun-damaged bit of skin on my nose and I will have to have that bit biopsied and then cut off, and have stitches and a scar. Which is hard for a terribly vain person. And four of our friends are returning to New Zealand and Australia over the next two weeks, and you think OH NO! WE SHOULD LEAVE TOO! and the panic rises up and makes you a bit sweaty. And yesterday a lady told me off for not watching Otis as he unsuccessfully tried to squeeze his head through some railings.

There has been a lot of rugby on the weekends over the last month, and that has made for many cranky parental fights and small children getting in between the tv and the couch and much shouting and solo parent outings and much, much resentment. It all culminated in a game last weekend at one of the many farewells we have been attending, where the early part of the evening was spent in a pub, in a room, with all eyes on the screen. I cannot even fake it. I was all about the prosecco and the food, refilling glass and plate with alarming speed. I don’ t think I spoke to anyone, not that anyone would have been able to tear their eyes away from the match. Here is me, many glasses down, many yorkshire puddings down, playing with my phone and singing softly to myself, making shapes with the food with my teeth, crying a tiny bit and wondering if I should show my bruise at half time:


There’s a whole roomful of lonely, right there. So hours later I ended up outside, in the cold, in a tshirt, next to a teepee, doing a slight sway and telling the smokers that I REALLY REALLY admired them all. It was a bit embarrassing. There is probably some sort of lesson here, about sport, and prosecco, and wearing jackets outside in the autumn, but I am not quite sure what.

Here are shots of the children stuffing their faces on the streets of W2:




Hot chocolate, crepes, and spanish chocolate and churros (an alarming chocolate theme, I notice). Casper has been getting into lots of trouble at school for his distracting behaviour, mostly  tickling other kids and dancing at inappropriate moments, with an afternoon of Tourette’s style compulsive shouting out of the word “PIZZA!” thrown in. And so I take some comfort from that fact that, even though we have some “issues” to deal with, they do eat and sleep, although it may be a little heavy of the cocoa side of things. Still, take it where you can get it, as I said before.

And here is Otis, climbing through a tunnel, carrying off a scarf expertly and nonchalantly. I think we can all learn something from that guy.


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Teeth and Police

There have been dramas, exceeding the bad haircut variety. Mostly, dramas involving the sweet baby, for which I am eternally sorry and horrified.

But FIRST! We went to Wales to see our friends and sample welsh cawl and go deep underground into a mine. On the way, about an hour away from the hotel, the truck started to lose fuel and there was a smell of diesel and the back window got all greasy. We pulled over and had to call the RAC, and while we waited, the boys played some sort of feral roadside war game involving polluted damson berries and sticks. It looks bucolic, but it wasn’t. Every time a huge fast lorry went by, and we were swayed by the vacuum, I thought we might well die by the roadside, like a badger. A family of badgers.

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But then, thanks be to the RAC Man’s clever way with the tightening of a Very Important Nut and some really expensive diesel from his emergency diesel tankard, we were on our way to get artful photos of bridges and to the cawl, which was hearty and delicious and life-affirming.


We went to the Big Pit, which is a truly excellent name for a big pit, down to through the mines and into the museum and through the old was house which was stylish in an institutional sort of way. And there was a proper canteen with the most excellent, rib-sticking, proper food. I had faggots and mushy peas and so many chips, with barabrith and teacakes after. The faggots hinted of liver.


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The plan on Monday was for us all to go to a National Trust House, but as we were checking out of the hotel, Otis had an accident. He fell over in the hotel carpark on his face and Casper fell on top of him and his front baby tooth got pushed up inside his gum. OH YES. So we spent the day at the A&E and I felt very sorry for the terrible life Otis has had thus far, with mirror accidents and baby tooth horrors. It was bloody. Meanwhile, there was pumpkin-carving for the others which was painless and autumnal.


Here is Otis at the A&E, looking a little bit like his mouth REALLY HURTS and he doesn’t trust anyone anymore:


So that was regrettable. It seems we wait for his poor, lost, confused tooth to either come back out again, or for his gum to grow over it. Really.

So then we had another thing. Last Monday it was an inset day, so I had all of the kids and the dog and we had to walk him, so off we went to Hyde Park. They always moan about going out and the retrieval of shoes and jackets is a painful endurance exercise, but we finally made it and we played around for a bit and then it started to spit, so we wandered back. Barnaby and Noah were having some sort of their usual pushing over fight, which I ignored, and kept on making my way through the paths to the gate that leads to our street. Finally, Barnaby runs up to me and says Noah is on the ground somewhere crying, because Barnaby pushed him over a bit too hard. I tell Barnaby to go and sort it out, to apologise to Noah, and to bring him back. He runs back to him, but Noah is really mad, and kind of angry at all of us, and starts sulking and falling behind. We get to the top of the path, wait for Noah who has been winding his way through the trees, slowly and sullenly, and then, I can’t see him anymore.

So we all turn around, and look for him, and yell for him, through the now-solid rain, but he has gone, girl. So I take us all to the Pirate Park cafe and ask for the parks police number, I call them, we wait, they find him 10 minutes later, he gets brought to us in a police van followed by a cop car, details are taken, Noah looks kind of half embarrassed, half smug, we go home, all the while me telling him that walking off is a massively bad idea, no matter what kind of fight he has got himself into, and no matter how mad he feels.

And then, I get a call from social services.

Very concerned about the incident, the social worker wanted to know exactly how it had happened, blow by blow, and she said that as it had also happened in 2012, would I like some support with this? And did I give my permission for her to look at Noah’s school and health records? Permission granted, of course, owing to the fact that I have nothing to hide and I am not someone who actually needs any help from social services. REALLY, THANKS BUT NO.

So I had an internal freak out, despairing over how scary all this actually is, and then the phone rings again and it is the Westminster Council asking me to answer some questions about how happy and satisfied I was about their contact with me. So I say that actually, I am really upset and feel threatened by the police referring me to social services based on my dreamy 8 year old kid wandering off in our local park, and that when this kind of thing happens, it makes you feel very exposed and frightened, and that it made me feel that asking for help from the parks police was actually the wrong thing to do. I said that it seemed to be a rather heavy-handed way to deal with the matter, and I would be disinclined to ask for help again, fearful that I would suddenly come under scrutiny from the authorities again.

Am I wrong here? Does this seem completely horrible and awful? I know that this kind of approach may well help some kid who isn’t being cared for properly by their parents, but HOW ABOUT SOME COMMON SENSE?


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