Tag Archives: Decorating

A Painter Pictures A Thousand Words

16 Aug

Sometimes I look back over my day and think, well that was 24 hours of what’s left of my threescore year and ten I just wasted; but today isn’t one of them. Today I painted my downstairs hall; washed and hung out and brought in again to the final value of pi; made breakfast, lunch and dinner; cleaned up after breakfast, lunch and dinner; went to the chippy to collect the dinner; paid bills at the bank; walked the dogs; and a hundred little jobs besides. Admittedly, I delegated some of those jobs but I know the hall painting and shoving stuff into the machine to the final value of pi were mine.

The re-decorating goes on. I like painting and I dislike wallpapering so a lot of the re-decorating i.e. all of it, involves painting over wallpaper. Let its removal be the next man’s problem, because it certainly isn’t mine. So long as the wall looks good, who cares if it’s going to take a blow torch and a pitchfork to strip the old paper? My walls look goooooood. Not all of the walls in the hall: the side going up the stairs doesn’t need decorating because no holes were made in it, nor unsightly brown plaster left for me to cover up. Besides, it took me six years to finish that bit and I’m not painting over it again five minutes later.

I can’t take credit for the colour: that’s the Hub’s department. He has a great eye for colour (the left one); he once took a photography course and was the only person ever to achieve 100% on the colour test. Don’t ask me what was involved in the test because I never listen to him so I wouldn’t know; though I did hear ‘100%’ and gave him a pound as a reward.

When we were choosing paint, he liked Pebble and said it would match the wallpaper in the hall; I didn’t like it but I remembered why I was a pound out of pocket and bowed to his superior judgement. And he was right again. It looks gorgeous and he’s so annoying. We couldn’t have got a closer match if we’d taken the wall in to B&Q (or was it Homebase?) and asked them to mix the colour for us.

I am being taken out to lunch tomorrow or I would be painting the woodwork. It’s just as well because my hand is cramped from holding a paint roller all day.

I do apologise that this post isn’t particularly funny or interesting; could it be that I’ve lost my power? Perhaps my power is in the clenched fist that is my right hand and decorating is sucking the life out of it…? A nice house or an amused audience? I’ll have to waste tomorrow thinking about it. Threescore year and nine and 364 days to go….


The Writer’s Island Prompt this week is ‘inception’. We could have referenced the movie but I haven’t seen it and have no idea what it’s about, so I can’t. This is a poem of two halves. It was supposed to be a poem of the first half but as I was writing it I realised that it was out of date, so I added the years and the second half. I am not satisfied with it and I will come back to it at some point, but I’ve been working on it for three days and I’m not getting anywhere.

Quandary: From Inception To Resolution

our parents won’t let us marry.
Solution: a small acquisition.
Inspiration: no contraception.
Retribution: a wedding reception.

Seventeen – Mrs Teen – Mama Teen?
No way; no baby for me;
just lies and deception:
a fake miscarriage after the marriage.
And divorce after that.
I don’t miss marriage;
I have my cat.

our parents want us to marry.
I’m thirty: the clock is tutting.
But that’s so in the past;
we might not last.
If he gets ugly, old and fat
that will be that.
I’ll buy my folks a cat.

Smotherly Love

11 Aug

It’s all a matter of perspective:

For me, fatigue + aches + sleep problems = CFS/ME. 

For the doctor, sleep problems = fatigue + aches. 

Tory Boy is absolutely fine and just needs a regular bedtime and a regular getting up time.  Funny how a child accepts from a stranger what he won’t hear from his parents.  See what happens when that child leaves the care of his doting mother?  Hysteria on the part of the woman who gave birth and lost her waist to him.  I wasn’t gaining a son, I was losing the ability to fit in to a size eight.  Oh, alright: twelve.

My son’s health is of secondary concern to me now that I’ve had the best news I’ve had in years: I’m getting my new kitchen & bathroom in September!  The Hub’s veiled threat to the council to call in the big gun (our MP) obviously did the trick because the prettiest lady and the handsomest man I e’er did see arrived at my house yesterday to give me the news and help me choose colours.

I was walking the dogs when they called and the Hub faced a dilemma: he couldn’t get hold of me by phone so should he send them away or choose the colours himself?  Deciding he would rather live with my displeasure than with broken legs, he chained them to the sofa and was debating the relative merits of speckled over mottled and light beech over dark beech when I got back.  He is my favourite person in the world – after the council’s golden couple, of course.

He was my favourite person, until he started casting aspersions on my approach to housewifely duties: I was washing the floor last night and he asked me why I was bothering when I was going to have a new one in six weeks.  Plaster cast, anyone?


The Best-Laid Plans Of Mice & Mothers

9 Aug

I had this whole week planned:

  • Monday, clear the hall, especially the corner where we think Jimmy Hoffa is buried.  It’s been so long since we moved anything that it’s entirely possible there’s more than one corpse under our junk. 
  •  Tuesday, scrub the woodwork and walls prior to painting, if by ‘scrub’ I mean ‘lightly wipe as fast as possible with a damp cloth because it’s the dullest part of decorating and if I did it more often I wouldn’t need to paint so often.’ 
  • Wednesday, get Tory Boy to paint the ceiling because he’s taller than me and he offered. 
  • Thursday, paint. 
  • Friday, recover.

All plans are subject to change, of course; and change they must.  I have to break up my day today because I am at last going to own a girlie bike – one of those things with no long bar to fall on and a basket on the front for my shopping or dogs, like the wicked witch in The Wizard of Oz, but without the bad skin. 

I was once complimented on my skin.  I was eighteen at the time.  I even know the exact date: 14th August, 1982.  I was on a plane to South Africa with my Mum, and an Afrikaaner sitting next to her told her what beautiful skin I had, unlike South African girls of the same age.  I was thrilled at the time but now I wonder if it wasn’t just a little bit creepy?

I am getting the bike from a woman in church; she was asking if anyone wanted it and of course I said yes because I have wanted such a bike for years.  I have been bobbing along all happy at the thought of fulfilling another dream, when I suddenly realised the truth of the adage, ‘Be careful what you wish for…’  I have to ride the thing home.  I have to ride a bike.  I have to get on a bike and ride it.  On the street, in front of people and cars and nasty dogs and with no helmet or – worse – ability: I haven’t ridden a bike in 32 years, and even when I did I wasn’t very good at it.  No wonder Miss Almira Gulch was grumpy; she probably had a dream come true.

Think of me after two this afternoon, crying because I fell off my bike and bumped my head and scraped my knee and crashed into a car and fractured my leg and hit a wall and grazed my beautiful skin and broke my neck and couldn’t care for my family any more and and…

…Just had a calming cup of Earl Grey and I’m back.

As well as collecting the bike (fingers crossed I don’t fall off but then it will be harder to ride it with my fingers crossed and I might fall off; what to do?  What to do?) we need to visit the launderette: this morning I am re-washing the washing that I have already washed because it smells like washing smells when it takes five days to dry, so I am going to dry it at the launderette and walk the dogs while I’m waiting.  It rains a lot here in Stockport in summer.  It rains a lot in winter, too, but we don’t mind so much because we are wrapped in central heating and the telly is good and our wet washing dries on the radiators.  Not a good look but nobody visits in winter because they’re wrapped in their own central heating, watching telly and if they’re not, their clothes are too wet to wear and they can’t visit anyway.

That’s one day’s delay; I suspect there will be more because Tory Boy is – rather selfishly, I feel, because now I’ll have to paint the ceiling myself – ill.  He started feeling unwell on Friday but he went to Birmingham on Saturday to visit a friend who is studying nursing.  He got a lift there but was almost immediately put to bed because he had a temperature.  At one point it reached 41° and the bevy of student nurses caring for him in the house considered calling an ambulance, but he began to cool down.  He staggered back by train – how ridiculous is this?  £19.45 return to Birmingham by train or £18.45 one way?  No wonder we all avoid public transport if we can – and fell into bed, sleeping all day. 

I came downstairs this morning to find him asleep on the couch.  Having slept all day, he couldn’t sleep last night, especially when I started snoring.  He came downstairs to get away from me (a common reaction, I find; and not just when I’m asleep) and finally dozed off around dawn.  He has now gone back to bed.  This kind of thing has been happening since he started uni and I’ll be honest: I’m a little bit frightened.  This is how the Hub started, with cold sweats, hot sweats, fatigue, aching joints, fluctuating temperature.  I’m scared Tory Boy may contract CFS/ME.  I can just about cope with the Hub having it for the last fourteen years and probably the next fourteen, but I can’t bear the thought of my son having it, and at so young an age.  At least the Hub lived a bit.  A lot, actually, which is how he ended up sick in the first place.

Tory Boy, do your mother a favour: listen to your father and take it easy.  More importantly, listen to your body.  You don’t want to upset your mother, do you?

 upset mother cartoons, upset mother cartoon, upset mother picture, upset mother pictures, upset mother image, upset mother images, upset mother illustration, upset mother illustrations

What A Good Wife Am I

26 Jul

I had to laugh at this headline:

Slimming specialist keeps on growing.


I forgot to tell you that I finished painting the downstairs toilet; pale gold and mushrauve (actually pebble, but it’s a cross between mushroom and mauve).  It looks very nice and now our downstairs throne is fit for a queen.  I once heard someone say that the Queen must think the world is paint-flavoured because everywhere she goes has been freshly decorated in her honour.

As soon as the Hub has a good day he’s going to tile behind the sink; it’s not a big job.  I might help him and add another DIY skill to my growing repertoire: I know to unscrew the switch plates and paint/paper behind them; to take off all fittings; to strip, fill and sand a wall; to cover the toilet in cling film to protect it (if only I had remembered to uncover it again before using it…).  I slap on a pretty neat tin of paint and I can still make dinner for a family of four afterwards.  Now, if I could only learn to cook without everything tasting like cinders then I really would be Superwoman.


Do Housewives Dream Of Electric Feet?

20 Jul

I broke a door and now I can’t pee in private. You may recall that I am decorating the downstairs toilet. These DIY projects of mine go on for weeks, months and, in the case of my hallway, six years (and when I finally finished papering it you could see the join because the wallpaper that had been up for four years was a different colour from the new paper because it had acquired four years’ worth of dust & dirt).

I finished stripping the paper in the toilet a fortnight or so ago. Because I have decided to paint it – no more patchwork paper in the fiddly corners; just slap colour on with a roller – the Hub insisted that the myriad holes must be polyfilla-ed and that and the mould must then be sanded off.

Did I mention the mould? The paper that was up in the toilet was the expensive self-pasting vinyl kind. We bought four rolls for £2 at a car boot sale years ago and considered that we got a real bargain until I put it up and discovered why they sold it so cheaply: the expensive self-paste was expensively mouldy and left patches of black dots all over. We covered them with as many pictures as possible but a room the size of a coffin decorated with gilt mirrors and old Apartheid-era signs and original artworks begins to look like a stately home-wannabe desperate for attention. But there they stayed, because I wasn’t decorating the loo again until we all either developed Sick-Building Syndrome or became bored with the pattern.

The pattern won me round (pink fleur-de-lys and plague blobs are so last-millennium) and the Hub insisted we sand off the mould marks just in case. Not wanting to be infected, I delegated that job to Tory Boy (the child wants to enter politics: he’s obviously already sick). He did that and the business with the polyfilla and I was all ready to paint until the Hub reminded me that I had to strip the paint off the door and skirting boards. You know, there are times when I really dislike my husband. His argument was that seventeen coats of paint is enough for any door, particularly the way I slap it on (and sometimes forget to remove the paintbrush hairs that stick to it). I countered with the old it’s-great-insulation-at-no-extra-cost chestnut but he doesn’t like chestnuts so that was how I found myself spending five boring hours in a lavatory (not for the first time, until I discovered cranberry juice).

It was pretty tedious work until I remembered Glee and my MP3 player. It wasn’t so bad then, and I also had the distraction of the ancillary soundtrack of the smoke alarm going off at regular intervals; Spud’s frequent complaints that ‘This is getting really annoying now’; the Hub’s constant interruptions with cups of tea, bottles of water and desktop fans; and his tv blasting like The Who at Glastonbury because he couldn’t drown out my singing any other way. Loud and out-of-tune is the price my family pay for clean doors, I’m afraid.

Ah, yes, the door: I made a real effort to strip the paint properly because it was easier than listening to a lecture on My Life In Paint And The Value Of A Good Strip from the Hub. I almost suffered third-degree burns from a large bit of paint that fell on my big toe – that’s the last time I wear flip-flops to an informal re-decorating party – but I had the presence of mind to pour the bottle of water on my foot. Then I realised I was standing in water, holding an electrical appliance that was still switched on. I quickly threw toilet paper into the puddle to soak it up; congratulating myself on yet more presence of mind, it occurred to me that not only was the paint stripper still switched on, but I was now knee-deep in kindling. Fortunately, the Hub called me for lunch just then and nothing focuses my mind like the promise of food, and I turned it off.

The Hub had assured me that stripping the door of paint would be a quick job but you know what? It wasn’t. Probably because I did a Hub Job (do it well; do it right; do it carefully; develop ME and never be able to do it again) instead of a Tilly Bud Job (do it fast and don’t mind the mess because you can always cover it with a picture, a mirror and an Apartheid-era sign and still be on the couch in time for chocolate).

It was coming up to six o’clock and I was thinking of my dinner but I was only 80% done (on one poxy door) when the stripper decided enough was enough and the nozzle on the end suddenly folded over on itself. I had been at it so long that the metal had softened so much it crumpled like a husband in an argument with a menopausal, chocolate-deprived wife.

One shower and one pork chop dinner later, I felt recovered enough to let the Hub leave the room to use the facilities…and that’s when he discovered that five hours of being blasted with a ray gun has left us with a warped toilet door that refuses to close no matter how nicely we ask it.

Which proves that I was right and the Hub was wrong: eighteen coats of paint and an insulated toilet = one laughing housewife with an empty bladder and a Hub not wearing an electric paint stripper as a tail.

Sons And Mothers

12 Jul

I am so happy with my boys: they are staying out of my way.  Number One Son is officially Number One Son because he has sanded the walls of the downstairs toilet so that I can paint them, and he has offered to do lots of little jobs in the house that desperately need doing but which the Hub is too unwell and I am too busy or too uninterested to tackle.

Number Two Son is also officially Number One Son (I don’t have favourites; they irritate me equally) because he has collared another free holiday and even as I type is arriving in Devon for a five-day break with his friend and his friend’s Mum. 

What mother could ask for more during the school holidays?

Ooze Update

1 May

I’m still feeling rough but at least I’m only having to blow my nose once every fifteen minutes instead of fifteen times a minute.  Who knew there was that much mucus in one woman’s body?  My right eye has opened up again but aches; my left eye won’t stop crying.  I can hear in one ear now.  I hate colds! 

There are benefits, however: today, I am going to be leafleting in my area for my local Conservative candidate.  We are in a strong Labour ward.  I am confident that I will escape physical abuse from outraged socialists because they won’t want to catch my germs.  Would you risk punching a snotty nose?  Me neither.

I had a nightmare last night: I was taking a writing and wallpapering class on a winter beach and everyone was mean to me.  I slunk away with hunched shoulders and they all got swept out to sea by a freak wave.  Do you think it’s a message?   I should lose interest in politics and everyone will vote Conservative?  You never know.

Sorry if I am a little incoherent: I didn’t sleep well.  Not just the nightmare and nose gunk; the last thing I did before turning off the light was listen to a dramatisation of Daphne Du Maurier’s The Birds on Radio 4.  No sign of Tippi Hedren, but there was an over-protective husband who was too unwell to work and determined to protect his family no matter what…then the Hub came to bed.  No wonder I had a nightmare.

Sweet dreams, dear reader.



Short Post Day

12 Apr

Thursday I painted the lounge walls; yesterday I cleaned the lounge carpet; the dreaded dusting was done on Wednesday; today I will put back all the crap the Hub won’t let me chuck: that will cover enough floor that it won’t need cleaning for another ten years.  The room will look sparkling clean; or it would, if we could see it behind the stuff.  



Yesterday’s prompt was to write about the thing you didn’t choose, the road not taken, etc.  I’m not much given to what if?s or regrets, and I had to force this senryu out:


Human Nature


I chose to yield to

one who loved me.  A good choice. 

I resent it still.



Gotta go – crap to cart.



Paint On Your Wag

9 Apr

I’m not really a WAG, of course, because I’m not married and having an affair. I am a W; I could be an A, I suppose, if I was a WAM (Wife and Mother). But I have definitely not been a Girlfriend for twenty-eight years, because I became a fiancée three months after meeting the Hub.

I hate the term ‘WAG’. Forty years after feminism and women are happy to be appendages still. It seems to be a career choice these days, when you speak to teenage girls. I love being a wife (on a good day) but that’s not my defining role.

Another term I LOATHE is ‘cougar’. Why is there no equivalent male name for dirty old men picking up very young women? Oh, yes, there is: meal ticket.

Do you struggle from time to time, dear reader, with my pun-forced rambling preambles? This one is my way of saying that I painted the lounge yesterday. Our house was re-wired in January and I am pleased that it has only taken me three months to get around to covering the evidence (dirty great holes in the wall filled in with dirty brown plaster).

It was a fairly quick job because we like the decor in our lounge and we went with the same colour paint; the bottom half is papered and doesn’t need changing so it was a case of just slapping it on with a paint roller. The worst part of the job is the preparation: the Hub has taught me well, curse him. Empty the room, clean the walls, take down the dado rail, yawn, yawn yawn. The paint job itself was only about three hours. The Hub was supervisor and general get-in-the-wayer until he was banished upstairs. He is good at decorating and it pains him to watch me botch it. I knew he would linger to comment when I had to ask him to take the lid off the tin but I shouted at him and he went away, shaking a sad head. We both know he just doesn’t have the energy to decorate, however, unless we stretch it over a couple of years, so it falls to me. I’m getting to quite like it – the results, anyway – but I hate the clearing up. That will take a week or two because today I am as stiff as my dear old Nan (residing in the same place as my dear old Mum). It took me an hour-and-a-half to thread 34 curtain hooks and re-hang the lounge curtains. Thank goodness for left-overs! No cooking tonight: butter some bread and we have bacon butties for me; sausage butties for Spud; disgusting sausage butties for the Hub – some German stinkers that come in a vacuum pack. At least they’ll cover the paint smell; the problem will be later: all I will say is it’s a pity sometimes that we don’t have separate bedrooms.


napowrimo – the image refuses to be copied but I think you know it well enough by now to picture it.


Today’s prompt is so convoluted that I can’t be bothered explaining it but it is begging for a nonsense poem to be made from it. I will just mention that I have to use any twelve words from a list of twenty-four, plus bits of previously discarded poems. I have done that, if you count the ‘and’s and ‘the’s I haven’t used over the years, but my first revision cost me four of the listed words. This is an early draft because I haven’t had time to revise it; if you come back tomorrow it might be different.


Beware the Octopus


When an octopus fusses you’d better hop to it;

don’t do what he says and you’ll certainly rue it.

Dance like a marionette, ’til your limp legs flap

if you’re lucky he’ll give you an eight-legged clap.

When he’s in a good mood, ask for a massage:

trust me, a sublime time will passage.

Heed me, however: if you don’t coddle him

he’ll befuddle and addle you, push to the brim

your good-nature. You’ll look pale in jail

as you tell your sad tale.

He’ll never email; he’ll never post bail.

What a mug you will feel as you sip from your jug;

no campfire, no rug, just a crack to your lugs

from your too-friendly cell mate

but, alas, it is too late:

your usurped home holds Big O

and you don’t quite know

how you’re locked up for fraud.

He had you over-awed

and was seemingly harmless

but knew you were gormless.

Now he’s living the good life –

and, what’s worse: with your wife.


It’s Christmas – Official

10 Dec
Which one is the angel?

Clue: Not the one on the right.

We put the tree up last night.  It was surprisingly quick – only three hours this time.  Odd really, because, for the first time ever,  Tory Boy wasn’t here to help <pause for Mother’s weeping>.   He is busy with end-of-term essays and end-of-term parties. 

The Hub and I put the tree together while Spud finished his homework.  The tree is six feet tall and about that wide at the bottom.  It has branches that have to be individually attached, and each of the branches has about twelve pieces, so it’s lovely and thick.  We bought it at a car boot sale one June, a couple of years ago.  The seller had only used it once and couldn’t be bothered with the hassle.  She was asking £12 and the Hub knocked her down to £3.47, which was all I had left in my pocket.  It was a real bargain. 

Once the tree was up the Hub draped the lights, after much discussion over how many sets of the seventeen we own we should use.  The Hub: three.  Me: all of them.  As far as I’m concerned, when it comes to Christmas lights, more is more.  We settled on four.  Spud came down as we were negotiating and remarked, ‘Now it feels like Christmas: Dad’s shouting.’

After the lights came the tinsel.   The Hub reckons there is an art to draping tinsel – it has to look like snowfall.  Pink and red and gold and blue and green and purple and silver spangley snowfall, but snowfall nonetheless.

Finally, it was the decorations.  We have decorations going back to our first married Christmas in 1985.  We have all of those the children made over the years, and a couple I have made.  We have them from Germany, Kusadasi, South Africa, Disneyland and the States, including an official White House one; we have little paper decorations and some made from seeds and some from plastic.  We have expensive baubles bought at bargain prices that the Hub believes will be family heirlooms one day, assuming I haven’t brained him with them by then; we have cheap but pretty ornaments bought in the after-Christmas sales; we have some that were gifts.  We have them bought from all over and made from all kinds of materials, but the one thing they all have in common is that they each come with a happy memory; and as I unpack them and we put them on the tree, I bore the boys with the story of each one.   They don’t know it now, but one day when they have inherited them, they will bore their own children with the stories, and smile at their own happy Christmas memories.

The missing link:

A Tilly Bud Family Christmas

1 Dec

Do you think I'm a little under-dressed?

It’s the first of December and I’m in the holiday spirit.  We woke up this morning to discover Jack Frost had replaced the mild(ish) but wet weather with ice and the car was frozen to the driveway.  Therefore, I thought I would start this month with a description of our Christmas.  It is always the same, only the gifts change.


January 2

Take down the tatty remains of the Christmas decorations.  Store in Christmas boxes, Christmas sacks, Christmas bags and Christmas suitcase for easy identification in the loft next December.

January 3

Hit the sales (only 356 shopping days left to Christmas).  Queue for two hours to get into car park.  Buy nothing except the one available unbroken half-price tree decoration.

February 3

Weep over credit card statement.

March 13

Tilly Bud’s nagging finally coincides with the Hub’s first good day of the year and Christmas decorations are returned to the loft after standing in the upstairs hallway for two months.

NB Now that we have had loft ladders fitted, the nagging is reversed and the Hub insists I drag my lazy backside up there and put away the decorations that I wanted down in the first place.

September onwards

Christmas adverts start on telly.  Ignore them while applying sun block for Indian summer.  Ignore the Hub complaining, ‘I hate Christmas, I do.’  Complain to everyone else I know about how Christmas comes earlier each year but don’t mention the suitcase full of presents we already have stashed away.

Fourth Saturday before Christmas

Begin watching Christmas movies on Saturday afternoons to get in the festive mood: It’s A Wonderful Life; While You Were Sleeping; Sleepless In Seattle; Terminator 2 (if you’ve been present at some of our Christmas Dinners you’ll get the connection); and the greatest Christmas movie ever made: A Muppet Christmas Carol.  Begin boasting to harrassed friends about the suitcase full of presents we have stashed away that means our Christmas shopping is complete before anyone else has even started.

December 1

Make list of Christmas cleaning jobs.  Stretch out on couch to recover, watching a naff Christmas special on tv.  Start hinting to the Hub that we must get the tree down from the loft.

December 11

Get tree down from the loft.  Put on cheesy Christmas music to get everyone in the mood.  Argue about cheesy Christmas music.  Erect tree.  Argue.  Dress tree with lights and tinsel with boys.  Take boys off tree.  Take lights and tinsel off tree.

Watch the Hub dress tree with lights and tinsel in the correct manner.  Sulk.

Share decorations equally between family.  Spend ages arguing about who has the most/least/best/yuckiest decorations.

Collapse exhausted into bed.

December 12

Clear up yesterday’s mess.  Accidentally vacuum half the tinsel left dangling after yesterday’s fist fight over who has the most/least/best/yuckiest decorations.

Christmas Eve

Lunch time: take flowers to Dad’s grave.  Miss him.

Ten minutes after lunchtime: open the first bottle of wine/tin of chocolates/box of biscuits.

Send excited children to bed on the one night of the year they want to go at six p.m.  Spend next eight hours telling them, ‘Santa won’t come until you go to sleep, darlings.’ (Translation: ‘Get to sleep now, you little brats; we’re knackered!’)

Cook turkey and other meat; prepare vegetables.  Stay up till two a.m. to welcome Santa.  Go to bed, leaving on all lights to deter burglars without a Christmas spirit.

Struggle to sleep.  Wake up every three minutes hearing noises that indicate burglars.  Wake growling Hub to send him downstairs to check for burglars.  Have huge argument with the Hub who not only refuses to go and check for burglars but turns over and goes back to sleep.  Lie awake until six a.m, listening for burglars and worrying about the waste of electricity.

Christmas Day

Six-O-Three: woken by the excited chatter of two children raiding their stockings.

Six-O-Five: recover from winding caused by excited children jumping into bed to demand we all go downstairs for presents.

Six-O-Seven: set up video camera to tape every magical moment.

Seven-O-Seven: finally accede to the Hub’s assertion that it might be Tilly Bud’s camera, which he knows because he bought it for her, but trust him, he knows what he’s doing and can set it up perfectly well, thank you very much; and stop that sulking, you misery, to which children add, Yeah, Mum.

Seven-O-Eight: film delight on boys’ faces as they enter Santa’s grotto (temporarily set up in living room).

Seven-Fifteen: start unwrapping presents, taking turns so that everyone sees what everyone else has got and thanks can be given and received.

Ten-Fifteen: finish unwrapping presents.  Make traditional Christmas breakfast of toast so that everyone has a stomach lining before inevitable munching of Christmas goodies begins.

Ten-Sixteen: send exhausted Hub to bed for a few hours.

Ten-Thirty: everyone not sleeping, dresses.  Boys disappear to their rooms to play with their new toys, leaving Tilly to clean up.  Tilly stretches out on empty couch with Maltesers and one of her new dvds, ignoring mess.  Thinks about starting dinner.  Snores.

Two-Fifteen: wake Hub to give his stomach time to prepare to eat large Christmas dinner.

Four-Fifteen: eat large Christmas dinner.

Rest of day: rest.

December 29

Discover unticked list of Christmas cleaning jobs tucked down back of couch.  Discard.

January 2

Take down the tatty remains of the Christmas decorations.  Store in Christmas boxes, Christmas sacks, Christmas bags and Christmas suitcase for easy identification in the loft next December.

January 3

Hit the sales (only 356 shopping days left to Christmas).  Queue for two hours to get into car park.  Buy nothing except the one available unbroken half-price tree decoration. 

I Clean, Therefore I Am Knackered (Part One)

9 Nov

I had a busy Saturday.  This might sound like an ordinary statement with which to begin a blog, but busy Saturdays are not my normal thing.  Laying around thinking about doing the ironing is the usual extent of my Saturday activity but, having finished the painting in Tory Boy’s room, I had to put everything back.  Even so, I might not have bothered if it hadn’t been for catching Spud donning an oxygen mask for the climb from his door to his bed.  The boy doesn’t help himself: yes, I had thrown in everything from his brother’s room, including a full dustbin which TB had neglected to empty before heading off to uni six weeks ago, but Spud added to the mess by unpacking when he came back from his visit to TB.  By ‘unpacking’ I mean ‘unzipping the case and throwing the contents onto a pile that reaches dangerously close to the light bulb so we dare not switch it on.’

I thought it best to give Saturday over to returning TB’s stuff to his room.  It took me seven hours and the only help I needed from the Hub was the injection of a rawl plug which I had accidentally pulled out when taking down the shelves.  I put the shelves back up; ditto the curtain rail; wall-mounted a plug extension (TB is a mucky pup and all sockets have to be above slob level for fire safety) and a lamp; and alphabetized his many thousands of books.  Not bad for a woman who can never find the mute button on the remote.  The Hub is starting to worry that I might be able to manage without him after all (i.e. dump him for a pretty boy with no tool skills).  He doesn’t know it, but he is quite safe – I still can’t cook anything harder than beans on toast without my human panic button by my side.  To be strictly accurate, I’m the human panic button and he’s the off switch: a firm shake of the neck and a stern talking-to and I remember that I like burned sausages, after all.  Well, not so much like, as have gotten used to over the years; but it amounts to the same thing – carcinogens and chips for tea, with a dose of hysteria for flavour.

TB’s room now looks wonderful, and I hope he likes it enough to visit us at least once this academic year.  He phoned on Friday to say that he might visit because his mates had bailed from taking part in the fifteen-hour NUS-planned bar crawl (tabloid photograph, anyone?).  I’m slightly relieved because I would be so ashamed to find a picture of my son urinating on a cenotaph that I would have to kill him or put him up for adoption, and possibly both.  It will never happen, of course because, crazy cook and her slapaday man notwithstanding, we have brought him up better than that.

Saturday came, but no Tory Boy.  He had said he would phone if he was coming; he didn’t.  We are so used to him surprising us, however, that we all expected him anyway.  Spud got back from the match and asked if his brother had arrived.  He didn’t believe our ‘no’ and scoured the house for him (TB likes to jump out from cupboards; frightening us all into heart attacks is his favourite way of showing his love).  No TB to be seen (there are times when that sentence is a relief, don’t you think?).  We thought he must have gone on the bar crawl after all, and scoured the Sunday papers for pictures of him with his knickers around his ankles, but there was nary a one.  I posted a message on Facebook that I was sad that my son had not come home, and he phoned thirty minutes later to tell us that he had not, in fact, been boozing, but had knuckled down to thinking about starting one of his three 2,500-word essays that are due in a couple of weeks.   He has promised to visit in two weeks’ time, and mother was very happy with that, because it means she can go into his room every day for the next fortnight and enjoy the neatness while it lasts.



More tomorrow, when I will share my recovery strategy.

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