Friday, 29 March 2013

The Slippery Slope

Instead of Chick Chat Sunday it’s Chick Chat Good Friday.  Why?  Because I won’t be here on Easter Sunday!  Tomorrow I’m flying off to Les Arcs in France for a week’s fantabulous skiing.  Mr V is opting out (again) on the grounds that he’s lost interest.  Absolutely nothing to do with creaking knees or a dodgy back.
            ‘So what would you like me to fill the freezer with?’ I asked my husband.  ‘Steak and kidney pies?  Lasagnes?  Cod and chips?’
            ‘Nope,’ Mr V shook his head.  ‘I’m eating super healthy stuff while you’re away.’
            ‘Okay,’ my pencil hovered over my shopping list, ‘so we’re talking salads?  Tins of tuna?  Salmon?  Nuts and seeds?’
            ‘Buy me a large carton of milk and a box of Crunchy Nut Cornflakes.’
            ‘And what else?’
            ‘You’re going to spend an entire week eating cornflakes?’
            ‘What, as in breakfast...lunch...dinner...nothing but cornflakes?’
            Mr V frowned.  ‘Actually make that two boxes.’
            I chucked my pencil down.  Ah well.  He won’t starve.  That’s why God invented takeaway shops.
            Dolly the cat will be going to the local cattery.  She knows something’s up.  She’s looking at the suitcases with eyes as round as saucers.  Likewise the pooch will go to the kennels.  She’s an old hand at reading the signs and the suitcases immediately saw her tail between her legs and a look of resignation.  Why can’t Mr V look after them?  Well would you entrust the care of pets to a man all set to survive on cornflakes for the week??!!
            The suitcases are almost packed.  All that awaits is a snowy adventure.  That said I hope it will be a safe adventure and free from iffy moments.  Like the time I fell down a crevasse and hysterically demanded helicopter rescue before my husband risked life and limb pulling me out...only to fall down another crevasse himself.  Or the time we went skiing in Italy, did one last run before the chairlifts closed, ended up in France and had to take a three hour taxi drive back to our hotel at a cost of two hundred Euros.  Or the time we again got lost, ended up doing an off-piste black run which resulted in legs like jelly and an overwhelming need to consume a stiff drink or six for shock.  That’s the only time in my life I’ve ever been hopelessly drunk.  I can still remember watching the road going up and down and loudly warning others to wait for the big waves to pass.  But I’m 99% sure nothing is going to go wrong this time.
            Which reminds me.  Did you know old skiers never die.  They just go downhill...


Sunday, 24 March 2013

A Fine Romance

My daughter has been dating her boyfriend for a little over a year.  Personally I think she’s too young to be so serious about a lad, but there you go.  The two of them are currently love’s young dream and can’t wait for the weekends to see each other.  Things were very different in my day.  When I was 15 I too was madly in love with a boy.  Although this particular male had four legs, a mane and tail and when we kissed I’m pretty sure no tongues were involved.  Also my daughter is very attractive whereas I just wasn’t.  Which is probably why she has a boyfriend and I didn’t.  In fact my daughter is lucky in that she is never short of admirers.  Indeed, only a couple of nights ago a lad popped up on Facebook Chat from two summers ago.
          ‘’Ello, zis is Antoine ’ere.’  Okay, he didn’t type it like that, but he’s French, so I’m just trying to set the scene.  ‘’Ow are you?’
          My daughter said she was fine thanks and politely asked how he was doing.  Which brought forth gushing chat about much he missed my daughter, how he couldn’t stop thinking about her, she was the sun, the moon and les ├ętoiles
and any chance of popping over and staying during the summer holidays so they could continue a fine romance?  Eleanor was aghast.
          ‘Mum?’ she called out.
          ‘Yes?’ I replied.
          ‘How do you politely tell somebody to go away?’
          ‘I have absolutely no idea.’
          ‘Well what did you do when you were dating somebody you weren’t bothered about?’
          Was she kidding?  I just never had this problem!  It was hard enough trying to bag somebody you could refer to as my boyfriend never mind courteously tell them to clear off.
          Of course the skeptics might say that Antoine was merely trying to butter my daughter up in order to have a free jolly in England for the summer, but actually this isn’t the first time he’s attempted wooing my daughter from French shores.
          Meanwhile there is a small matter of GCSEs coming up and I really would prefer it if Eleanor focused all her energies on passing a few of them.  Which reminds me.  A mother said to her daughter, ‘How did the exam go today?’  The daughter replied, ‘The questions didn’t give me any trouble.  But the answers did.’

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Boiler Blues

Every year our boiler decides to pack up.  And always in the winter months.  If our boiler had a personality, I would describe it as bloody minded.  Why else would it have us raiding our thermals from the depths of the wardrobe in order to stave off the shivers from snow on the ground, or gale force winds, or minus temperatures?  Because …excuse me for saying this…it’s a bitch, that’s why.
          Over the years Bitch Boiler has played up, cut out, only heated the hot water, then only heated the radiators, and then finally refused to heat anything at all.  Last time around the engineer gave BB a new circuit board which coaxed her back to life.  But was she grateful?  No, instead BB heated the house to warm, then warmer still, hot, hotter, boiling hot and finally meltdown.  Twiddles to her thermostat brought about zero response until, in desperation, I took to the fuse board.
          BB’s most recent problem was to make a sound like a jumbo jet taking off in the utility room which sent the pipes in the airing cupboard into a total tailspin.  Every five minutes the hot water tank made noises like an out of tune orchestra.  British Gas are always ace at sorting out BB’s problems (until next time around), so much so that we’re on first name terms with the local engineers.  There’s Joe who likes tea with no sugar and Barry who likes coffee with three sugars.  Our pooch particularly likes Barry because he always puts his coffee mug on the floor not realizing that beagles not only eat anything but drink everything too – especially coffees with three sugars.  But now we have a new family member to also watch out for.  Dolly the cat.
          ‘Ah, what a sweet kitty,’ said Barry.  Until Dolly pounced on his ankle and bit hard.  ‘She’s just having fun,’ Barry said through clenched teeth.  Whereupon Dolly turned her back on Barry, dived into her litter tray next to Barry’s tool case and did the biggest…well we won’t go into detail.
          Suffice to say BB is once again doing her stuff and Barry recovered from his faint.  Which reminds me.  A boiler engineer was called out by Buckingham Palace to heat the Queen’s kennels.  The boiler engineer was half way through the job when the police arrested him.  Why?  Because he wasn’t Corgi registered…

Sunday, 10 March 2013

How to not get a good night's sleep!

My husband hasn’t had a particularly good week.  A lot of driving about, long hours and a distinct lack of sleep.  And as is so often the way when life is super busy, you hit the pillow only to find the brain in overdrive.  Sleep – the very thing you crave – doesn’t always happen. 
            Mr V needs noise in order to sleep.  I’m the opposite.  I need silence so thick and heavy you can hear the proverbial pin drop.  Which doesn’t make for a restful night with my husband.
            In order to solve this conflict of noise and silence, Mr V goes to bed with a radio and headphones.  He plugs himself into Talk Sport and is gone within seconds.  At some point during the night the earphones and my husband’s head part company and invariably creep (the earphones, not my husband’s head) across the divide where they rest upon my pillow emitting a tinny racket.  This disturbs my sleep and drives me ever so slightly nuts.  To say I’m a crosspatch in the morning is an understatement.  I have vaguely wondered if crosspatch quilts were derived from furious sleep-deprived spouses spending their wakeful nights sewing.  But I digress.
            Over the years we have attempted to resolve our respective sleep issues by getting bigger beds.  Married life with Mr V started out in the bog standard 4’ 6” double bed.  One year later it had been shelved for a King size five footer.
            ‘Isn’t it lovely having extra room,’ said my husband as he star-fished out.
            ‘What extra room?’ I asked, hugging the edge of the mattress.
            In time a house move occurred.  Fantastic – a huge master bedroom!  I wasted no time in sourcing a bigger bed.
            ‘Ooooh, look!’ I drooled at pictures of bespoke seven footers.
            ‘Don’t be daft,’ said my husband, ‘Queen size will suffice.’
            I must confess, changing all the sheets on a large double bed is not something I look forward to.  Try shaking a six foot duvet into its quilt cover single-handed.  It’s a task that leaves you hot, bothered, and muttering silent oaths.
            Meanwhile Mr V still persists in star-fishing out leaving me perched on the edge.  And as for my husband’s bedtime radio, I can honestly say I hate the contraption with a passion.  Take last night.  Mr V’s headphones had gone AWOL.  For once they weren’t on my pillow.  He felt all over the bed but couldn’t find them.  So what did he do?  He listened to the radio without headphones.  But being that he needs NOISE to go to sleep, he turned the volume up.  As my husband tumbled blissfully down the corridors of sleep, I rose to the surface in a total panic.  What the hell was that?  Male voices were everywhere.  Had we been broken into?  Were there burglars in the house or, I gulped, this very bedroom?  Breaking into a muck sweat – which was nothing to do with hormonal hot flushing – I flicked the bedside lamp on and then grabbed it ready to bash Mr Burglar’s brains out.
            Which was how Mr V awoke to find the room flooded with light and his wife, wild-eyed and snarling, brandishing a B & Q lamp.
            There was a mildly happy ending.  Mr V discovered his headphones at the bottom of the bed.  The wire was in a total tangle.  I left him unknitting the jumble and took myself off to the spare room.  Is this the only way forward for a decent night’s sleep?
            Which reminds me of the insomniac who went to the doctor.  ‘Doctor, doctor!  I haven’t slept for days!’  The doctor looked at his patient and said, ‘Try sleeping at night.’

Sunday, 3 March 2013

It’s a Teen Thing...

Yesterday evening was bemusing.  Why?  Because I found myself on a double date with my daughter and her boyfriend.  This all came about because last week Eleanor informed me it was her anniversary.
          ‘Anniversary?’ I repeated.  Had she, at some point, secretly married?  Given that she’s not quite 16 years old, surely not.  ‘What anniversary?’
          ‘I've been dating M for a whole year.’
          Well congratulations.  But in my day if you had a boyfriend you didn’t celebrate going-out-together-anniversaries.  But apparently I’m way behind the times – as always.  These days teenagers celebrate not just going out together for an entire year, but in some cases going out together for a full month.  Particularly when some of them chop and change boyfriends at a phenomenal rate.
          ‘So,’ I furrowed my brow, ‘hypothetically speaking, you could even have a weekiversary?’
          My teen rolled her eyes by way of response.  ‘Can you give me a lift?’ she asked.
          ‘A lift?  When?  And where to?’
          ‘A lift to the restaurant of course.  Saturday.  To celebrate our anniversary!’
          ‘But I’m going out myself on Saturday.’
          ‘Well can’t you forfeit?’
          ‘But it’s my ANNIVERSARY!’
          Geez.  I have always tried to compromise where my children are concerned. A little bit of what they want, and a little bit of what I want.  In this case we both wanted to go out.  And on a Saturday.
          ‘Okay.  In that case you’ll have to come to the same restaurant as us.’
          My daughter looked horrified.  ‘You’re joking.’
          I wasn’t.
          My daughter prepared for the event like a bride.  A trip to the beautician where eyebrows were shaped and various parts of the body waxed.  Then off to the hairdresser where her hair was curled into a zillion tumbling waves.  Next a visit to the nail bar for a manicure and polish, before finally slithering into new dress, shoes and perfectly accessorised clutch bag.  She walked into the restaurant looking like a million dollars.  Which was only right considering she’d practically spent that amount preparing for the big event.
          Mr V and I followed Eleanor and M into the restaurant.
          ‘Your family table is here,’ said a bowing and scraping waiter.
          ‘No, no, no!’ my daughter protested.  ‘We have to have a table somewhere else.  Preferably a good mile away from the parents.’
          And so it was that Mr V and myself found ourselves at one end of the restaurant while my daughter and her boyfriend settled down to gaze at each other across a distant candlelit table.  They instantly began to bill and coo like a pair of turtle doves.
          How lovely, I thought.  How romantic.  I looked at my husband.
          ‘Do you remember when you used to look at me like that?’
          My husband’s eyes met mine, before diverting to the menu which he gazed at adoringly.  ‘Ooh, beef medallions.’
          ‘I thought you were worried about everything being horse meat in disguise?’
          ‘Not here,’ he stroked the menu lovingly.  At one point I thought he was going to kiss it.
          My eyes flitted across the restaurant.  Eleanor and M were holding hands across the table. I could see them deep in conversation.  I tried to lip read but unfortunately I’m a bit myopic when it comes to distance.
          ‘So,’ I turned back to Mr V.  ‘How about some romantic conversation?’
          Mr V put down his menu.  ‘Manchester United won against Norwich today.  Four nil.  Cracking.  And I’m warning you now Debbie, next Tuesday the boys are up against Real Madrid, so absolutely no interruptions okay?’
          ‘You once told me my eyes were like limpid green pools.’
          ‘Rooney scored a brilliant fourth goal.  And Van Persie’s back injury seems okay now.’
          ‘Do you like my dress?’
United hardly broke sweat re-establishing their 15-point cushion at the top of the Premier League.’
          ‘That’s thrilling.  Can we talk about something else?’
          So my husband talked to me about mortgages instead.  Offset ones.  And money.  And how to save it.  He’s very good with money.  So am I, but more so at spending it.  Although I did demonstrate a major bit of money saving flair when I splurged on a new car a little while ago.  I bought a Micra.  Fantastic at pootling around town economically.  Does umpteen miles to the gallon, and thanks to technology and carbon footprint wotsits and clean emission thingies, the road tax is only thirty pounds a year.  Thirty pounds a year.  The fact that I recently forgot to renew the road tax and was fined forty quid is neither here nor there.
          Which reminds me.  A man was driving behind a lorry.  Suddenly he had to swerve to avoid a falling box full of nails and tacks.  Seconds later a policeman pulled him over for reckless driving and tacks evasion...