Down with the kids…

imagesI am finding it increasingly difficult to understand a word my children say. I feel I am probably not alone in this and so here it is – my guide to navigating the minefield of conversation with your children:

– “Basically”: Well, basically, this word adds basically no value at all to any conversation and basically does not refer in any way to the fundamentals of anything at all in the true sense of the word – put basically it is basically a conversation filler and no self-respecting kid’s sentence is basically complete without it.
– “Like”: This is of the same ilk as “basically” – to be clear it does not mean a comparison is intended nor is it used in a verbal sense. It is totally (totes) meaningless as in “she was like talking to me when she like basically fell off her chair”. You will note the combined use of “like basically” often separated by the “conjunction” “er” as in “she like er basically fell of her chair”. On no account should these linguistical gymnastics be attempted by anyone over 20 as you run the very real risk of being laughed at very hard by your children – totes humiliating. By the way I am not going to comment on the use of “totes” suffice to say that it is one of the most irritating aberrations of the English Language and has a similar effect on me as nails down a blackboard. In fact this habit of adding an ‘s’ to perfectly good words is something I find particularly offensive.
– “Banter”: My elder son’s language is peppered liberally with this word at the moment. Everything is “banter”. Well everything that is except the time he spends with me apparently. “Banter” is so pervasive at his school that in fact one child has self-styled himself as the “Archbishop of Banterbury”. “Banter” seems very much to be lads-speak and is often accompanied with lots of “mate” and general back-slapping and jostling.
– “Ledge”: This has absolutely nothing to with any sort of shelf but is, of course, short for “legendary”. Along with “totes” and “awks” this is yet another example of abbreviating words which does make you wonder whether our children struggle with pronouncing any words of more than one syllable. As above, everyone is a “ledge” except for me who is apparently “the worst mother in the world, ever”.
– “Innit”: A corruption of “isn’t it” which is most often used rhetorically at the end of sentences and seems to serve no purpose whatsoever other than to annoy the adult who is engaging in conversation with a child.
– “Sick”: Think total opposite and you’ve understood the meaning of this word. For the medically-minded be aware that a child will never use this word in any sort of health context.  Like “ledge” this word is unlikely to be used in referring to an adult or parent.
– “Cheeky Nando’s”: I have to confess that I find this one of the most baffling of expressions and even my son could only come up with “er like er basically” when asked to define it. As someone who has always found Nando’s to be nothing more than a glorified version of KFC, it is hard for me to understand the attraction of a “cheeky Nando’s” but I guess it’s all part of banter.

There are two other peculiarities of kids’ speech worthy of mention: the pseudo-Australian rising of the voice at the end of every sentence as if asking a question when no question is intended and the complete disregard for the letter “t” in any word – e.g. “butter” becomes “bu…er” and “gutted” becomes “gu…id”.

So there you have it – simples. A word of warning though – it is not at all cool to try and join in with your children in this language usage. If you casually drop the word “banter” into your conversation you will either be met by silence/tumbleweed moment or utter ridicule. LOL (that’s “laugh out loud” by the way not “lots of love”).

Ten reasons I suspect I’m not going to win “Mother of the Year”


  1. I am openly happy to see them go back to school at the end of the holidays. I liken the anticipation to that I felt in the run-up to Christmas when I was a child. I am positively jubilant and am completely unable to empathise with those who bang on about how much they are dreading the end of the holidays and how they are going to miss their children hugely blah, blah blah. To my mind they are one of two things: liars or delusional.
  2. I have manufactured an incurable and deadly allergy to glue and paint to prevent any attempts at “messy play” in my house. Anyway, isn’t that what schools are for? But painting and sticking is fun isn’t it? No, it’s not and frankly depriving my children of this extra dimension to their childhood is not going to keep me awake at night.
  3. I don’t iron any of my children’s clothes – I fold. I fold very well indeed. Folding is a much under-rated skill which I have perfected over many years of iron-shirking. I don’t like ironing and spending hours sweating over an ironing board is pointless if the person you’re ironing for a) doesn’t notice your effort b)couldn’t care less whether their clothing is creased c)has spilled something down the front of ironed clothing within 2 minutes of dressing. As for ironing underwear…come on, please – surely your time can be used more productively?
  4. I don’t do nametapes. Well, actually strictly speaking that is not true. At the start of my mothering “career”, I painstakingly sewed on scores of nametapes – pricking my finger on the needle countless times, accidentally sewing the item to my trousers on more than one occasion and wishing constantly that my children had shorter names and that I had married someone whose surname was one syllable of two letters.   I gave up sewing on nametapes years ago and moved on to “iron on” nametapes: I refer you to the point I made above – I don’t iron. So now, I employ a much easier method – permanent marker. Not the neatest, I’ll grant you, but marvellously quick and most effective.
  5. I have started buying mashed potato rather than making it.   This slippery slope into culinary laziness started innocuously with buying ready-made fishcakes and chicken nuggets and now has insidiously spread to buying mashed potato and even, on occasion, ready-to-microwave vegetables. I am not proud of this and I can almost hear the gasps of horror from the more wholesome amongst you. The bottom line is this – I hate peeling potatoes and my mash is always lumpy and either too sloppy or too stodgy. Life is too short to mash especially when someone else can do it much better than you at a reasonable price.
  6. I would often secretly prefer a glass of wine and a flick through Facebook than reading a bedtime story to my children. I don’t believe I am alone in this but perhaps alone in admitting to it. I know reading to children is vital and I do sometimes enjoy it but frankly there are some days when I am ready to lamp Peppa Pig and the rest of her porcine family. I do find a few medicinal sips of wine before reading “Peppa Pig” does help with these irrationally aggressive thoughts and stops the urge to jump up and down in muddy puddles until Peppa et al are completely soaked and begging you to stop.
  7. I don’t like watching kids’ films or cartoons. So as not to be mean-spirited, I do, on occasion, sit down with the children to watch a film. Most recently, the Minions movie – all I can say is that the parts which I did not sleep or text through were mind-numbingly terrible and I simply can’t understand why my children found it so hilarious and then compounded my misery by shouting “King Bob” endlessly for days afterwards. Watching the Minions movie was two hours of my life that I can never get back.
  8. I don’t let them win games. Well, I do sometimes but often my competitiveness gets the better of me.   Does it matter if I win “Ludo”? Somehow it does seem to. I love Scrabble and there is no way that I am going to let my children win even if it is Junior Scrabble. Pathetic I know. The only game which I couldn’t give a toss about is Snakes and Ladders which is without doubt the most painful, excruciatingly dull game ever invented and when forced to play, I wish fervently that my opponent gets to 100 without encountering any snakes but landing on every ladder opportunity just to stop the monotony.
  9. I get shouty in supermarkets. Everyone else’s children seem to be behaving absolutely fine. Mine, on the other hand,turn into demented lunatics playing their own version of “Supermarket Sweep” at the expense of any old ladies or food products which are in their way.   I get shouty; they behave even worse; I threaten something I can’t possibly carry out – eg no television ever ever ever again; they ignore me.
  10. I wouldn’t give them my last Rolo. Actually this is not strictly true – I would give them my last Rolo as I don’t like Rolos much but I certainly would not give them my last fizzy cola bottle. No way. I know that I bang on about sharing at least 20 times a day to the children, but sometimes I don’t want to share. The last fizzy cola bottle is one of those occasions.  Anyway, sweets are bad for their teeth, right?

A Letter to Boys 1 and 2 …

Dear Boys 1 and 2

We’ve “successfully” reached the 6 week mark of the summer holidays…3 more to go and so far we are all largely unscathed.  However, I thought I would just make a few observations which could help the last 3 weeks go even more smoothly (if “smoothly” is the most appropriate adverb)  than the last 6 weeks.

  • If you wish to beat the c*** out of each other, be my guest, but I would appreciate it if all fighting takes places out of sight and out of earshot.  We all know that it will end in one of three ways: Boy 1 injured and crying, Boy 2 injured and crying or Boys 1 and 2 both injured and crying.  Since the outcome is inevitable, I would be grateful if you could only report back to me if life or my property is endangered.
  • Please could you refrain from tormenting your younger sister any more than is necessary.  I understand that baiting her is good sport but over the last 6 weeks she has turned from a fairly well-adjusted individual to someone who screams at the sight of an ant and who becomes a gibbering wreck at the mention of a sha….rk even when we are at least 500 metres inland.
  • Please stop “liking” my pictures on Instagram.  This is frankly narcissistic as most of the photos are of you and secondly, it is not exactly smart to “like” my Instagram photos when you are on an “electronics” ban – I am no technological wizard but even I know that in order to “like” my photos, you have to go on-line, for which you need access to any one of the electronic devices from which you have been expressly banned.
  • Please don’t tell me to “chill” or “stop being so stressy”.  Such vernacular has a polar opposite effect on me.  Those very words make my blood pressure rocket and the probability of rage quadruple.
  • Please don’t ignore my every word all day as if I do not exist and then insist on speaking to me when I am on the phone. I cannot work out why you are completely unable to respond to any of my questions/requests throughout the day but as soon as I am temporarily unavailable, suddenly you wish to speak to me with the utmost urgency about something which is always of very little consequence – along the lines of “can I have a snack?” – why are you asking me now…you don’t normally ask, you normally just help yourself?  Why does the appearance of the phone at my ear suddenly turn you from monosyllabic to positively loquacious?
  • Nothing awful will happen to you if you don’t look at a computer screen or a TV for a whole morning or afternoon, or God forbid, both – I promise you.  It is not, as you maintain, Boy 2, “child cruelty” to keep boy and screen apart.
  • Please please could you brush your teeth…just occasionally.  It literally does take 2 minutes.  I don’t understand your antipathy to such a simple task which takes you so little time but means so much to me.  Boys, you are prepared to spend hours getting the contours of your hair exactly right, so why not your teeth? Believe me, you will thank me in a couple of years time…girls don’t appreciate a lack of oral hygiene.
  • I understand that a bit of competition is healthy but you two take it to a whole new level.  Even the simplest of tasks become a mission for one of you to outdo the other.  What makes it all the more annoying is that you ask me or your father to referee/judge every little “competition” – quite apart from the fact that I don’t care or want to be involved, this is an impossible task as whatever the outcome,  the results mirror those in my first point although sometimes, thankfully, without injury incurred.  Boys, you’ve just got to “chill”….see, how annoying it is???
  • Lastly, this morning you educated me on another of your incomprehensible expressions – giving someone a “shout-out” on Instagram.  Apparently, you give your mates a “shout-out”on Instagram to tell everybody how wonderful they are and how much you appreciate them/their friendship etc.  Lovely sentiment.  Where’s my shout-out? Forget your M8s for one second and tell everyone how gr8 your mother is and then you and everyone else can “like” that to their heart’s content.

I expect you won’t read this – Boy 1 because it is in the form of a letter rather than a text/email and Boy 2 simply because you are yet to appreciate that enjoyment could possibly be gained from reading…but if you chance upon it, then despite the above, you are both wonderful boys with whom there is never a dull moment.

Much love Mum x

We’re all going on a school residential trip…

Today my elder son has gone off on his school residential trip to Newquay.  As he set off at 5.30am, I have to admit to a few pangs of anxiety but also excitement for him.  I remember only too well my first school residential trip to Streatley (although I was only 7 at the time) – we ate loads of sweets, wore our cagoules all day despite scorching sunshine and had a field trip song which we sang endlessly on our return – well, until Graham in my class swore at the familiar first strains of the song – “not that b***** song again” – overheard by the headmaster… an error that I am sure Graham has never repeated.

So back to my son’s trip.  The build-up has been going on for weeks – who’s sharing a room with whom; who’s sitting next to whom on the coach; should he buy a KFC or a McDonalds at the service station on the way down; does Lucozade count as an energy drink (banned apparently) and so it goes on.

My role, as usual, has been to ensure that he is provided with suitable clothing and footwear and to pack his Lordship’s bag for him.  I have carried out this task with my normal sunny disposition, a minimal amount of complaint – just the odd muttering under my breath.  Of course, as to be expected, my son has fully appreciated my input and has been unable to stop thanking me for all I have done.

The kit list provided by the school has though presented a few issues.  I have tried to follow the instructions to the letter and hence have packed accordingly 7 pairs of underwear and 7 pairs of socks.  I have done this in the full knowledge that 6 pairs of underwear and 6 pairs of socks will return unworn.  We were asked to pack black bin liners so that the boys can put all their dirty washing in a bag to bring home.  Well, I am fairly certain that I shall be able to use those very black bin liners for their original purpose on his return as I have placed them in a side pocket which since he suffers from that all-male congenital condition “man eyes”, he is very unlikely to see let alone open and use.  I did point the side pocket out to him and the black bin liners and he asked me to write “black bin liners” with a Sharpie on the pocket – I declined on aesthetic grounds and anyway it won’t make a blind bit of difference (I refer you back to congenital “man eyes”).

The kit list also gave rise to Deodorantgate.  I am not thanking the school for this.  The innocuous  “wash bag containing – toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo etc” has unleashed a whole new beast in our house – Lynx “Africa”.  I have so far avoided having to buy deodorant for my son – having judged it not yet necessary but since it was on the kit list my son with an uncharacteristic regard for detail and obedience told me that he had to have some.  I duly bought his first deodorant but forgot to tell him that less is more.  Consequently our house (and its occupants) are now gasping under a cloud of heady (read “headachey”) and intoxicating (read “choking”) eau d’Africa.  Personally “Africa” is not what springs to mind on inhalation unless we’re talking part-hyena with giraffe dung or something.  Anyway, teachers who were mad enough to volunteer to go on this trip with my son, beware the morning (and evening) spray – it’s powerful stuff.

As for the toothbrush and toothpaste, this has become somewhat of an obsession with me – I must have said to him at least 40 times this weekend – “don’t forget to brush your teeth” .  Who am I kidding? There is no way that toothbrush will see the light of day over the next week let alone the meet the toothpaste.  Anyway, it’s not as if my son brushes his teeth religiously when he’s home – if I’m brutally honest, despite my threats, he probably only brushes them on average 2.2 times a week.

Anyway, I hope he and his friends have a wonderful time – I know they will, the trip looks amazing.  He won’t care if he’s wearing the same underwear every day and I’m not there to care and anyway if he does, less washing on his return for me.  Silver linings….

The Brits – an out of body experience

Yesterday evening I spent two and a half hours in a parallel universe.  Last night was the annual music industry bean-feast  – “The Brits”.  I’ve never watched “The Brits” live before and it was a smorgasbord  of entertainment – not necessarily for the right reasons –  of a sort that I have rarely seen and certainly never expected: in equal measure both very amusing and downright confusing.

First up, which cool and current presenters were hosting? Of course, stupid me, there is only one duo who fits that bill – Ant and Dec (BTW – Ant is the one with the dark hair, sort of looks like an ant?) – who else? Don’t misunderstand me, I love Ant and Dec but I’m a 42 year old mother of 3 whose most recent concert experience was Bryan Adams – The 30 years after “Reckless” tour.  I would love to have been there at the production meeting which decided that they were the right choice of presenters.  I mean come on, their music credibility could never recover from their PJ and Duncan days.  Perhaps it was some sort of ironic statement choosing them – so ironic that it will have been lost on 99.9% of the TV audience and 100% of those actually in the O2 last night.  As they bounded around the stage like demented garden gnomes, I have to admit to being quite surprised that at no point did any one of the music stars there shout “I’m a celebrity get me out of here”.

Equally bizarre was the choice of award presenters.  Who on earth came up with the increasingly extraordinary selection of people to give out the awards and I can’t decide whether putting Jimmy Carr with some underwear model at least a foot taller than him was genius or just wrong.  And John Bishop…at that point I thought I must have accidentally sat on the remote control and turned channels to some comedy satellite channel on permanent repeats.  But no my eyes were not deceiving me, he really was presenting an award at our premier music awards which is supposed to be reaching out to a global audience.

Having shared out the awards (which incidentally I thought looked like creepy rag dolls) more-or-less equally between Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith – one for me, one for you, another for me, another for you – the rest of the evening was geared towards performances by two totally unBRITish artists – Kanye West and Madonna.  It was during Kanye’s performance (most of which the TV gods deemed too sensitive for our ears and muted accordingly) that I knew I was in a parallel universe.  Fortunately, it would appear I was not the only one as the entire audience looked on baffled apart from his adoring wife and Taylor Swift who was dancing somewhat strangely as though she was listening to something utterly different to the rest of us.  It was certainly a “performance” – I’m just not sure of what? I did like the blowtorch things (a frisson of danger?) – although the operators appeared a little trigger happy and they seemed to run out of gas half way through. Watching Ant and Dec try and rationalise Kanye’s performance after was nothing short of surreal – kangaroo testicles and critters are one thing, but this was way outside their remit.

And then, the finale, a golden moment of television which has already been watched and re-watched by millions (if not billions) worldwide – Madge’s little “moment” – CapeGate.  Come on, Madge, surely you know never to work with children, animals and capes? Perhaps the most astounding thing about her tumble was the fact that she dropped the mic and the singing stopped – yes, she was singing live! Cynics and conspiracy theorists might reasonably postulate that the entire incident was planned to prove that she does not lip sync and is a true professional.  Whatever actually happened, I admired her getting up and carrying on and all the crass gags about her age, hip replacements etc from certain media quarters were to my mind rather pathetic and predictable.  I am however slightly concerned for the safety of whichever backing dancer becomes the scapegoat for CapeGate – I’m not sure that Madge is one to take her humiliation at her first Brits for 20 years lightly.  I am fairly confident that he/she won’t be working again in the foreseeable future.

And so the show ended, leaving me – and I’m sure I’m not alone – thinking that any moment now I would wake up and it was all just one of those hallucinogenic-feeling dreams in which all the boundaries of what is normal and rational are transgressed. If there was any atmosphere in the O2 it certainly did not translate through the TV – tumbleweed – but perhaps the audience’s response throughout was less lukewarm and more a form of shell-shock at what they were witnessing.  It was a night of the bizarre, fire, the dire and strangely, admire – respect to Madge – she sure knows how to ensure all the morning papers’ headlines are about her.

The Great Homework Conspiracy

IMG_4378There has been a lot of debate in my sons’ school about homework – its role, its value, the amount a child of a certain age should do etc.  I know where I stand on this issue.  Homework is a valuable tool in helping children to work independently and to reinforce learning in the classroom.  For me the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages and I’d far rather my child was spending time reading or doing maths for an hour after school than watching endless Stampy Whathisname videos on YouTube or having mindless, inane chats online with kids with whom they’ve just spent the whole day.

However, there is a caveat.  There is another whole field of homework which I am less keen on – that which is designed to highlight the inadequacies of the parents and divide mothers/fathers/random relatives into three main groups – “The Can-and-Will-Dos”, “The Can’t-but-Will-Try-Dos” and “The Can’t-and-Will-Not-Dos” (The Can-and-Will-Not-Dos” is a very small minority group who irritatingly could do but rather breezily choose not to – “too cool for school”).  What am I talking about?  I am talking about all those homework tasks that are ostensibly set for the children but are in fact set as some sort of test for the parents – which I inevitably and somewhat regrettably (for my children) fail on an all too regular basis.  Call me paranoid but I think there is some sort of conspiracy at work to foster parental competitive spirit and an almost Darwinian battle for superstar parent supremacy.

Let’s take the last couple of weeks in my children’s school lives.  First up, my middle child had “Roman Day”.  Nothing makes my heart sink more than the email landing in my inbox informing me that one or other child has got to find a costume to wear to school because it’s role play time.  I know I sound like a miserable old goat but how many people have actually got gladiator, Julius Caesar or whatever Roman outfits hanging around the house?  “Make one!” I hear you cry.  Just the mere thought of making a Roman costume is enough to send me into a hot and cold sweat  – my sewing lessons ended very abruptly at the age of 11 when I was dismissed permanently after breaking the sewing machine three times in one lesson (actually something I am rather proud of if the truth be told).

No, making it is not an option for me – to be honest, arts and crafts generally are one of my weaker parenting skill sets.  For me, the only option is good old Amazon and the inevitable plethora of Roman Costumes being hawked around precisely for all those poor parents like me who would otherwise be an utter disgrace to their precious offspring.  Even with a particularly tasteful Roman Soldier costume that looks like it would combust if even shown a flame, my son is not satisfied.  Apparently he needs footwear too.  Sandals….in January.  I draw the line at this – I tell him that he will have to wear his (admittedly bright blue) Crocs.  He looks mortified and plumps for his school shoes as a very much last resort.  I’ve failed him of that he makes sure I am aware.

Roman Day is hotly followed by “making specialised cells” homework for my eldest child.  Again this is some sort of hidden testing of my parental abilities I’m sure. First off, my son is 10, nearly 11, and I’d much rather at this age he was learning the properties of such cells and drawing diagrams than being tasked with making 3D versions of said cells from whatever material he wishes.  Inevitably, my son chooses to make sperm cells along with every other boy of his age in a single sex school.  No other cell was ever really going to get a look in was it? He informs me of this task, I immediately get “the fear” and then he promptly leaves it with me with the nonchalant suggestion that he might do them in plasticine or papier-mâché.  Well, I don’t do papier-mâché.  Full stop.  A way-too-advanced technique for someone who can barely use a ruler to draw a square.  So plasticine it is – which, of course, has to be bought because funnily enough my 10 year old son hasn’t really played with plasticine for the last 5 years.

Sperm cell plasticine test – passed – I think (although not without much debate about the length of the sperm “tail” and where to put the nucleus).  I dare to breathe a sigh of relief…but oh no, too soon because into my inbox pops the next test of my parental skills – the baking test!  My favourite! My baking offerings, in the past, have always been rather conspicuous by their absence.  Frankly, the boys have never been that bothered and there always seem to have been countless other mothers keen to showboat their baking masterpieces, so I’ve just sort of slipped under the radar.  This approach does not work with my daughter.  No, not only does she insist that “we”(and I mean “we” in the loosest sense of the word) must bake for the cake sale but also “we” must enter the cakes “we” make for the cake decorating competition which the school is so kindly running alongside the cake sale.  Incidentally, the cakes must be decorated with a nod to her school house (Mars) and include a full breakdown of their ingredients for “health & safety”.

So “we” make the cakes badly, “we” decorate the cakes badly, “we” photograph the cakes for the competition, “we” take the cakes to the cake sale and then I can’t be sure but I’m fairly certain that my daughter buys back the very cakes “we” have baked at a vastly inflated price.  OK, I know, I know,  it’s all for charity.

As I sit here writing this, I am eagerly awaiting my next mission (should I choose to accept it).  Half term is nearly upon us and I’m quite sure that with all that time off when we are supposedly twiddling our thumbs, the schools will have concocted something fairly spectacular for the children/actually the parents to do.  Before I am roundly attacked for my lack of enthusiasm and support for my children’s endeavours, I ask you just to think back to the last time your child was supposed to make something at home for school – who made it? How many minutes attention did your child give the task compared to the hours you put in?

Sort it out…

Another year, another load of wrinkles on my face and the likelihood of me being Prime Minister is fading fast.

Fear not, just because I probably (definitely) won’t reach those dizzying heights, it does not mean that I can’t dream about what my agenda for change would be.  I’m not going to bother with all the things that really matter to people – health, education, housing etc – I’ll leave it to those in power to deal with those issues – but I shall concentrate on the rather more minor (indeed some might say irrelevant) issues which affect (annoy) me and my kin. So this is what I want sorted (said in a “Phil and Grant from EastEnders” voice):

– Store/Reward Cards:  what could possibly be wrong with them you ask?  Nothing – they’re a great idea but there are just too many of the b***** things.  My purse is unable to shut – not through any great personal wealth, just a million reward cards.  It goes one of two ways for me depending on whether there is a queue of people behind me at the till – either I have to conduct a full and thorough search of every pocket in my wallet and my handbag to locate the correct reward card (only attempted when the queue is less than 2 people) or I don’t bother looking and accept the receipt, nodding vigorously when told that I can bring the receipt with me next time and have the points added to my card then – come on, does anyone do that? Surely, in the age of phenomenal technology someone can produce one card that stores all the reward points for various shops on it. I’d have a go at creating one myself if my technological expertise extended beyond endlessly recreating new passwords for various sites for which I have forgotten the original one.

–  Self-service checkout tills:  one word – scrap! They don’t work and nowhere is this better demonstrated than in one of my local shops where the self-service checkout till is manned full-time by a member of the shop staff – self-defeating rather than self-service.  Add to this that “unknown item in the bagging area” makes me feel irrationally violent and more pre-disposed to self-harm than self-service and it seems quite clear to me that they were a crap idea (like the taxi lane on the M4) and should be quietly but swiftly removed.

– Recycling/bin collections:  I know this won’t make me popular with environmentalists but if I’m really honest I yearn for those days when I could just dump everything in one bin.  As it is, I spend (waste? bad pun) time every day debating (internal dialogue ) whether such-and-such is recyclable and if it is which particular recycling bin should it go in.  Then there is the “should I rinse it?” issue and the constant low level anxiety that you’ve got it all wrong.  As for the food waste bins, I’m sure I’m not the only one who regrets, on a twice weekly basis, overfilling the kitchen caddy and then having to transfer it to the outside bin without it splitting all over me and having to revisit all of the last week’s meals.

– Too small parking spaces: when I am out and about and not worrying about my refuse issues, this vexes me hugely.  Multi-storey car parks have become a minefield of worry and questions – “If I get into that space, will I be able to get out again?”, “If I get into that space, will I be able to get out of my car?”, “If I get into that space and out of my car, will I be able to get back in my car when I return?”, “If I get into that space, will the person parked next to me be able to get back in their car?” and so it goes on.  It’s high time that we accept that cars are bigger now and scrub out the old lines and get one of those little wheely things that draws white lines and make parking spaces bigger.

I know what you’re thinking, she’s always moaning.  What about something positive?  OK, well here we go – if I were elected to serve, then these are two programmes I would put in place for the benefit of the people of this country:  Firstly, free watches for all builders, plumbers and tradesmen with a free course on telling the time and the importance of time management.  9 o’clock means 9 o’clock not 12 o’clock or even 9 o’clock three days later.  Secondly, an admittedly niche proposal,  which came to me this morning as my daughter started back at school  – I would initiate a free hairdressing scheme for all mothers of girls for the all important “school hair-up” – how can I be expected to compete with those who spent their childhood years plaiting horses’ manes?

Right, that’s enough of power that I’ll never have.  What what your agenda be?