Dear People Who Work Away From Home,

I know you sit there at your desk tip-tapping at your computer feeling accomplished in ALL the productive work, you have managed to squeeze in BEFORE your lunch break. Your hair smells lovely. Your coffee is hot and fresh. Your desk is ordered.

I write this as the toddler smears dribbled biscuit onto my iPad, my hair smells like baby-sick, my coffee is cold and has a wrinkly skin floating on the surface – I’m certain; I’ll get radiation poisoning if I re-heat it for the 11th time.
I bet when you walk to the bathroom – you don’t have a toddler wrapped around your leg who’s snot is leaving silvery snail trails down your calf. I am sure you sit in the mediative stillness of the cubicle pondering what you will have for lunch, maybe plan your witty response to a colleague’s email about the boss, or think about the novel you are reading on your commute.

I use the bathroom as a trio – one offspring on my lap, the other talking to me whilst standing no more than an inch away. I eat half chewed leftovers shoved in my mouth whilst washing the plates. My witty responses are saved up for the cold callers on the phone – but half the time it’s only a computer and the rest of the time the humour is lost in the culture divide.
The last novel I read was Twilight……..
When you speak on the phone you can listen, absorb the information and remember what was said. When I am on the phone – the kids leap out from nowhere like screaming kamikaze ninjas leaving me confused and unable to even remember who I just spoke to – let alone what was just said.

I fear, I may have early onset Dementia. When I walk into the kitchen carrying a basket of dirty laundry, the washing machine is in front of me WITH it’s door open and I STILL have to turn around and retrace my steps – in order to remember why the HELL I entered the room in the first place. When I need to fill in a form, I have to ask not only the day BUT what month it is. There are days I forget to shower, brush my teeth or hair and get out of my P.J’s.

I even forgot to feed my three year old during my 40th Birthday BBQ. I’d forgotten to feed myself too for that matter, but with all the bubbly flowing, the lack of food in my stomach only enhanced my buzz. My mum spent all the following day, trying to convince me, that A. I am NOT a terrible mother and B. My daughter would’ve eaten the sweets from the piñata anyway. In an attempt to console me further, mum reminded me of the MANY times her and dad would leave us in the car parked outside the pub with the windows cracked, a packet of crisps and a can of coke each. Whilst they got pissed and drove the precarious country roads home.
Before you start calling the Social Services on my behalf – I am from a time and place where this was pretty much the norm. We were not the only kids locked in cars like the cocker spaniel. There would’ve been at least half a dozen other car-loads of children high on caffeine and sugar with their little faces pressed up against the windows, tongues hanging out in 30 degree heat. In fact, things like sending your five year old out alone to purchase a packet of fags and as much beer as they could fit into their Mickey Mouse backpack was perfectly fine too. But I digress….

I used to be a Nanny and after having my own children. I started out treating my home like my work place and began doing all those little anal-micro-managing things my employers LOVED me doing for them. However, it seems my own children did not fully embrace nor appreciate having their dinosaur collection alphabetised. They would put the Allosaurus back where the Zephyrosaurus belonged and what seemed like a good way to spend an hour to put right in paid employment – became a massive chore at home for free. So needless to say I just shut the door on the various tangle of messes found in each room. The kids and I are basically living, eating and sleeping on the upstairs landing now – but it’s all about that vital quality time together.

I am reminded of a high powered employer of mine who developed M.E and had to give up work in banking. She hand a Nanny and a Maternity Nurse and she still felt the need to run her home like she ran her career. It was a nightmare place to work. In the mornings, the children didn’t know if they should clock in or cuddle her, she would schedule in “Mummy-Time” with her three month old. She would inspect the children’s freshly ironed clothes for creases. Near the end of my extremely brief employment, I found myself (the ultimate professional) ironing creases IN just to infuriate her. And to think I was headhunted by Madonna – and turned her down no less!

So because I used to be a Nanny. You may ask yourselves “What’s the problem?” Firstly, my employers had housekeepers, it wasn’t my job to clean – so no child in my (professional) care ever chewed on the toilet brush, or got inexplicably tangled in the vacuum cord, or had Mr Sheen squirted in their ear. Whilst working an average of ONLY 60 hours a week, I was getting at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night – I also had weekends off to do WHATEVER I wanted AND sometimes that was only moving from the sofa to pee and answer the door to the pizza guy.
Finally and more importantly, they weren’t my kids, so I didn’t have the emotional turmoil of wondering if EVERY tiny little thing I did, was gonna fuck them up and they’d end up boiling their neighbour’s head in a slow cooker or worse go on Britain’s Got Talent with their own Mother as their sob story.

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Nonna’s Pasta

Despite ALL the “Copy-Cat-Pasta-Making” my children will NOT eat “Mummy’s Pasta Bianco my Mother-in-Law gives me the same pasta – which can’t be bought from that super handy Tesco-dude who delivers my weekly food shop with a cheeky wink and always so eager to chat about how CRAZY it is that my Pitted Black Olives have been “Substituted “with CAPERS?!?!? (Oh how he laughs………whilst I imagine him choking on an olive). I buy the exact same Parmesan cheese from the very guy she buys it from. I go to great lengths to grate the cheese in the same way Nonna does it. I EVEN leave a little cooking water in the bottom of the pan to keep it moist JUST like she does.

BUT my children refuse to eat my carefully prepared pasta because it’s NOT Nonna’s pasta. Finally after some considerable thought, I think I may have answer. The other day, Nonna was drizzling a little extra virgin olive oil over the pasta before serving – like she taught me to and I caught sight of her olive oil and it looked a strange colour – it’s a darker brown and smells a little musty, if I’m honest. But that could be the whiff of the Parmesan cheese getting muddled in because the ONLY way I can get near the oil is when it’s already on the pasta.

That woman has been hiding that bottle of oil from me all these years – like it’s her deep dark secret. the other day, I attempted to get close enough to have a good look at the oil, to see what made it so frigging special and the diminutive 4 foot 82 year old ACTUALLY shoved me out of the way. She said she was merely “trying to stop the peas from boiling over” – but I gave her a knowing look which she returned with a WAY too innocent look that wasn’t fooling no one. The more I think about what could be in that oil the more I think it’s linked to her complaints that my children are “Too Skinny”.

Those with Italian parents will know oh too well that to be too skinny, means you could be morbidly obese and you would still need fattening up. In fact, you could die of starvation even whilst sitting at the dinner table actually eating! Seriously, If you don’t eat quickly enough the Grim Reaper takes time out of his busy schedule and travels all the way over from African countries where people die of starvation and knocks on your door and he’s not returning that copy of Barney the Purple Dinosaur. He’s coming to cart your half-starved-fat-arse off to where scary things are like The Devil, The Lupo, and places where you don’t get offered food the minute you walk into someone’s house.

My children are short for their ages, they are always going to be short – I come from a long line of shorties and my partner is Sicilian (enough said…..well maybe not….let’s just put it this way – the Mafia comes from Sicily and I would hasten to guess that all those theories of why it formed like poverty for an example could be just a cover for a simple case of -“short man syndrome”).

So my kids are not going to grow taller if they eat more. They are ONLY going to grow wider. But according to Sicilian Grandparents apparently food and lots of it, can overcome things like ones genes. Now back to my original hypothesis which is this – I reckon the old dear is lacing her olive oil with highly addictive and incredibly calorific Corn Syrup!!! That super sweet stuff that made all those Americans start having to buy not one but two and let’s face it sometimes three seats on a plane. The evidence is pointing to the oil and THE only way I can confirm my suspicions is to steal a sample and get it tested at a lab. Now all I need to do is devise a cunning plan to get close enough to her oil hiding place. I’m gonna sleep on it……..

That Elf (Part Two)

That “Helpful” Elf has changed all the radio stations in MY car. Apparently, I must be informed of the traffic reports every 15-F-ING-minutes or we may end up in HUGE GRID LOCK despite the fact, we have no business driving in London (unlike the little Elf) but it seems, he has not only forgotten that it’s MUMMY’S car, but also that MUMMY is NOT a Black Cab Driver. In fact, far from it – I sometimes need to stop to check my Google Map when trying to get to The Town and I’ve lived here for 15 years.

My three-and-three-quarters-daughter is now shouting “OH, DADDY!” Every time ‘Let it Go’ is rudely interrupted by reports of a broken down lorry inside the Dartford Tunnel. Secretly, mummy is pleased that Miss nearly-four is using the U rated version of that phrase. Since Mummy let a little F-Bomb slip the last time and all of a sudden Mr 19 months could say “TRUCK”. It does sound like another word entirely but surely it’s ONLY because he’s just started to learning to talk and I’ve heard boys particularly can get their T’s and F’s mixed up.

I now have the delights of Terry Wogan chatting about T’Pau and hip replacements on BBC Radio 2. Mummy would like the Elf to know that she may be “Middle-aged” but she is by no means ready for Terry Wogan. No offence to Terry Wogan fans. Don’t tell anyone, but I did happen to know ALL the words, to all the songs and they seemed to have REAL, ACTUAL MUSIC rather than all those whistles and beeps the kids are listening to these da…………..Oh, it’s happened, I’ve become my father. One week with Wogan and the Traffic Reports and I’m complaining about the roads and the rubbish the “kids” listen to these days. Anyway, I’ve gotta go….I’ve run out of Barley Sugars see ya xxx

The Types of Parents often seen at Soft-Play.

My Life As A Series Of Status Updates

Germ-Phobic mum is recognised by the four pumps for each hand of anti-bacterial gel from the nearest dispenser, she carries wet wipes in her back pocket and her eyes dart wildly as she searches for children with snotty noses so she can snatch her crawling baby away before they get within sneezing distance. Normally, she wouldn’t dream of bringing her child to such a germ infested place but she is part of a larger group celebrating her niece’s birthday party. She is certain despite
her best efforts in approximately 24 hours little Penni-Cillin is going to show symptoms of illness but she has Barn-Doc on speed-dial and Amoxicillin on stand by.

Potty-training mum has been holed up in the house for two weeks. She mistakenly thought soft-play would be a safe option as the first outing for her toddler wearing “Big Girl’s Pants”. Everyone has at least one sock with…

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An open letter to Zara Clothing:

Dear Zara,

I am a size M in Next, size 12 in H&M, Size 12 in Tesco, Size 12-14 in Top Shop, Size 14 in River Island, size 12 or 14 in Oasis, Size 14 in Primark. I even fit into some size 10 clothing depending on the cut. BUT I am NOT a XL in anyone’s language, so you can take your “OH!-Look-at-us-we-are-all-just-SO-SUPER-skinny-and-have-NO-titties-or-butt-and-we-survive-on-a-sniff-of-celery-stick-once-a-week-clothing-size-guide.” and shove it up your boney arse!

Xx My Life as a Series of Status Updates

The Invisible Woman.

The Invisible Woman

It’s official, I am “Middle-Aged” I turned 40 last Summer. But it wasn’t the huge FOUR ZERO candle on my cake, or the massive party I had, that alerted me to this fact. It was something that has been subtly creeping up on me for the last five or so years that has made me FEEL Middle-Aged……Or rather what has NOT been creeping up on me – and that is attention from the opposite sex.

From the age of around 17 (when my double A boobies FINALLY decided to make an appearance!) I’ve had wolf-whistles, double-takes, drinks and numbers offered, wedding rings hidden from my sight, cheesy chat up lines, flowers, love letters, guys beating the shit out of each other, songs and poetry written about me. Don’t get me wrong – I wasn’t the tiny-titty version of Jordan. Most young women would have experienced the majority of the above and some women even more examples of male attention. But as the years have passed, I’ve received less lecherous leers from Lotharios and more in the way of eye-contact avoidance and SILENCE.

Even when I gained A LOT of weight around the age of 26, I still attracted attention from men – but it was from men who preferred more woman for their money – so to speak – not that I was actually charging men for the pleasure of my company.
I almost wish I had been, because I’d be living invisibly in my mortgage free house by now. But no and unfortunately the bank manager can actually see me and even come looking for me, so this invisibility thing is not even something that I could work to my advantage.

There are times I whimsically reminisce back to those heady days when I was around 21 and the lengths to which men would go to just to chat to me. Now I’d have to be screaming blue-murder whilst being assaulted by a stocking-headed robber BEFORE any male glanced my way and even then it’d be iffy – what with the increase of criminals carrying knives and guns. Some guy may give me a quick look over and realise getting stabbed or shot for an old bag may not be worth it. See now, I was referring to my actual handbag, the one being ripped from my grasp during this potential robbery and you went and ruined it, by thinking I was referring to myself! We are not all immune to this ageist mind-set.

After breast feeding my two babies the recommended 6 months each and losing roughly the 3 stone, I gained and then lost for each pregnancy. I realised my body shape had changed so significantly over the years (going from an A cup right up to an H!!!!!) that I thought I’d pop into Marks & Spencer and get measured for a bra.
The lingerie assistant was a VERY experienced member of staff with a number of years fitting all manner of misshapen, disfigured and frankly abnormal breasts. She was lovely and reassuring. I felt safe as we stood facing each other in the tiny dressing cubicle and she asked me to remove my most recent sized bra.

Nothing could prepare me for the reaction she gave when I unclipped the fastening and removed the “scaffolding” surrounding what could be blamed on bad genes, my dramatic weight gains and losses, breast-feeding, spending most of my teenage years actually not wearing a bra and basically approaching old age. The woman’s eyes widened and I witnessed them drop as my boobs were “released” to their natural stance and she did the kind of sharp intake of breath – I’ve heard plumbers do when they first see a mess of pipes that are gonna take a lot of time and energy to put right. The evident shock of what she saw, brought tears to my eyes. As soon as she realised, she’d dropped her professional mask briefly, she quickly regained her composure and briskly exclaimed “Don’t you worry love we have a ‘Special Way’ you can place your bust into a bra that can give you that added confidence”.

And since M&S don’t do those cosmetic “Up-lifts” offered in most clinics based on Harley Street; I watched with interest as using a series of pulleys, mechanical hoists and some good old fashioned kneading, she placed my deflated air bags into my new bra. I walked out of there with a spring in my step and a little bounce in my boobs. NONE of it noticed by a single male of course – but fuck ’em I now have tits that look great in a bra – and if I took it off no one would notice anyway.

That Elf

There is this little Elf that does stuff when I’m not looking. I will refer to this creature as a “He”. But I HONESTLY 😉 wouldn’t have a clue of his…..or her gender because I’ve never seen him……..or her. I think this little mystical guy thinks he’s being helpful like those elves in that story about the shoemaker. But I would have to politely disagree on some occasions and forcefully disagree on most.
The Elf tidies my Tupperware container cupboard, he likes to put the small clicky-clacky air-lock containers inside the medium sized ones and then those inside the biggest ones, so when I’m on the set of my television studio kitchen and the cameras are rolling and I’m “talking to camera” on my COMPLETELY FICTITIOUS cookery show; I have to pull out all the neatly stacked and lined up plastic pots which topple over at the slightest touch, and un-click each lid four times on the each container in descending size order JUST to get to the smallest one.
Now my viewers don’t wanna see that and we all know imaginary camera crews don’t come cheap – Er, well they do – BUT they certainly don’t like waiting round whilst I’m click-clacking, and clack-clicking numerous pots, they start shuffling their feet and rolling their eyes as if to say “come on we haven’t got all day!”
Those precisely ordered plastic vessels are sent flying because the container I need is always at the back on the cupboard behind 14 years of accumulated plastic.
I’ve got a public image of professionalism to maintain. Mrs Figment-of-my-Imagination doesn’t appreciate burning her onions whilst waiting for me to dig my way through Tupperware before I can present the next stage of my carefully devised and informative culinary series. Mr Product-of-an-idyl-mind is watching his TV and all he can see is my arse poking out of a sea of old take-away tubs.
That little fellow also feels the need to move the spoon holder from the left of the cooker to the right of the cooker. I dutifully move it back when I see he’s been up to his old tricks BUT when my back is turned it’s back in the WRONG place again. I get the odd bit of fantasy fan-mail and my devoted viewers find my FOUR-LETTER rants about the spoon holder as most unnecessary and not becoming of such an excellent chef. One writer even accused me of trying to “Compete for ratings with Gordon F- ing Ramsey”?!?!? I had to make a public apology and everything – it wasn’t my finest hour. Now I wouldn’t dare going into the Elf’s WORK SPACE and start “organising” his Elf related stuff. I’d respect the place he spends 95% of his time and know that he may have it set up just the way he likes it, messy cupboards and all. In fact, I would know that Tupperware container cupboards are SUPPOSED to be messy – that’s why they have doors on cupboards so you can’t see the mess. I would appreciate all that fabulous work he does and feel that to “help” could be seen as a bit annoying at best and a possible comment on my shortcomings at worse. And ANYWAY – I have a extremely successful IMAGINARY cookery show so I MUST be doing something right.