Pointless Update

Reunión Furby I

Reunión Furby I (Photo credit: alvarezperea)

Update on my “pointless” list – a kind reader has given me my first (and last) onesie – fortunately for me it does not have novelty headgear too – but all the same it is a onesie probably best described as resembling a snow leopard.  Now I love the person who gave me this onesie but I can confirm that I look more than faintly ridiculous in it and I definitely look like an overgrown giant baby (not my favourite look).  One thing I had not appreciated before I owned such a must-have garment is how flipping hot it is inside one of these onesies.  I started to sweat profusely within about 5 minutes – a sweating snow leopard in a babygrow – not a pretty sight!  I have to admit to being slightly fascinated by the speed with which these onesies are flying off the shelves this Christmas – who (apart from my friend) is buying them? Imagine if you were an alien arriving on earth for the first time and you were greeted by the sight of giant babies wearing all-in-one, furry, faux animal outfits – I’m fairly sure if it was me, I would turn right round again and return from where I came, very disturbed by the sight I had just witnessed.

On the subject of Christmas shopping, I am also very distressed at the return of that hideous creature the “Furby” – who thought it was a good idea to bring it back for this Christmas season for god’s sake?  To add insult to injury this ugly, little monster retails at well over £50.  Sometimes I really do think I live in a parallel universe to everyone else.  I get Peppa Pig (regular readers will know I am actually a little partial to a bit of Peppa Pig) but Furbies – they are wrong, all wrong.

I’m on a roll now…one last bugbear (bah humbug!)…football kits for kids.  My boys support Arsenal.  I know nothing about Arsenal – a deliberate ploy to prevent me from ever having to discuss football leagues with my children or worse go and watch matches with them.  An aside, the only thing I find vaguely interesting – actually rather pleasing in an odd way – is that the Arsenal Boss is called Arsene – almost poetic.  Anyway, my problem is very simple, premiership football teams change their football strip (home and away) every season so I am forced to buy new football strips every season too.  These football strips are not only deeply unpleasant to look at but they are also extortionately expensive.  In my view, these premiership teams are committing daylight robbery by hiking the prices of these kits way beyond their value because we poor unsuspecting parents, ever keen to encourage our offspring into supporting a team, are forced to buy them on an annual basis (last year’s strip is so passé) in order not to embarrass poor little Johnny in front of his mates.

So there you have it, rant over for the day.  You could be forgiven for thinking I complain about everything.  Well I do, I guess, but only with good reason, and actually those who know me will testify that I can be nice too!



Sugar and Spice and All Things Nice…

Male and female gender symbols based upon work...

Male and female gender symbols based upon work by User:Edbrown05 on the English Wikinews project. Original file was/is here. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Let’s get one thing straight, I adore my boys – I really adore them but I don’t get them. if I’m perfectly honest, as one of three girls myself, they are like little aliens to me most days. Occasionally I get one of those breakthrough moments when I think I’ve finally understood them and then out of nowhere, one will cross the room and nonchalantly kick his brother for no other reason – that I can fathom – than he can.  I know what you’re thinking – there really isn’t very much to understand: boys are not complex.  There is a lot of truth in this and I have lived the last 9 years of my life according to the maxim that boys are very much like dogs: feed them, water them and exercise them and all will be well with the world.

My two boys are very different in character but they also share common characteristics: the ability to wind the other up incessantly and the ability to wrestle any time, any place (preferably in a supermarket aisle in front of a tutting crowd of people without children and smug MOGs (Mothers of Girls).  For a while I put this insatiable desire to be in physical contact with each other in some way 24/7 (usually in some painful-looking, totally unnatural wrestling hold) down to watching too much TV and particularly the ghastly WWE wrestling to which my elder son appears addicted (no, before you ask, I don’t let him watch it, but he’s clever, he’s cunning and he seems to find a way to outwit me…), but I don’t think this is the case.  This is just the nature of boys.  For the first five years of motherhood, I watched my boys with a growing sense of horror – what had I created?  Rough and Tumble, they call it, no **** – that’s putting it mildly.  Sometimes I can barely bear to watch and I am constantly amazed that they never seem to really hurt each other (well, not too badly). I don’t really intervene much these days, I let them work it out.  I am resigned to the fact that this is how boys operate – it’s King of the Jungle stuff and I am not going to pretend to understand it. The fighting aside, I love my boys totally and I can only hope that the fisticuffs they indulge in now with each other will recede as they mature otherwise I shall be spending an increasing amount of time visiting the local nick.

I have to admit that due to the unruly behaviour of my boys on occasion (NB understatement), I did at times really question my mothering skills.  I had deliberately ignored the Gina Ford route with mine – I realised very early on that I had already failed by her standards by 7am as I had not pulled up the black-out blinds, changed baby, had a shower myself and eaten my toast and marmalade. I didn’t think that feeling a failure so early on every morning would be particularly good for my confidence levels (which we all know are not exactly rocketing in the early days of motherhood). I found myself naturally gravitating to other “MOBs” (Mothers of Boys) because they understood that there was no way my children were going to sit at a table for half an hour, colouring, gluing and sticking (not unless they were able to do all those things to each other or one of my more prized possessions).

Then suddenly three years ago, I found myself with one foot in each camp – I had a little girl. Over the last 3 years, it has become obvious – it’s not about nurture (well at least not largely) but it is nature.  I have done nothing to encourage her in any direction different to the boys but she naturally loves pink, plays with dolls, dresses up, watches me put on make-up in a rather disconcertingly fascinated manner and basically behaves in the stereotypical “girl” way. I have to add that at the moment she is proving an awful lot easier than the boys at that age.  Yesterday, she had a playdate and I did absolutely nothing for 2 hours whilst these two adorable little girls dressed up, tottered around in little heels and played “Mummies and Babies” (where’s the Daddy you may well ask?! Is this a sign of the times?).

The biggest relief to me with a foot in each camp is that it is not my mothering skills that are at fault – they are as good or as bad as the next person. No, the simple fact is that boys and girls are fundamentally very different from birth and I would wager that boys are harder work in the first ten years of life (although enormously rewarding too) but I am under no illusions that come the teenage years, all those hours of my little girl watching me put on make-up and tottering around in my shoes is going towards creating the horror of “teenage girl”.  I know at that point I shall probably be  saying to my boys that they were hard work when they were younger but that their sister’s behaviour now is a whole new ball game and I shall be looking back fondly at the days of my “rough and tumble”, uncomplicated boys.  However, for now, there is truth in the old ditty that girls are “Sugar and spice and all things nice” and boys are, well, fabulous, physical and sometimes just a little frustrating!


Pointless (TV series)

Pointless (TV series) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I decided this afternoon that I would compile a list of the things which I think are entirely pointless.  What is the point of this you may well ask?  Well there is no point, it is in itself pointless but it will almost certainly make me feel better!  I guess it is along the lines of my “things I find irritating” list  – I am hoping perhaps that by expressing these pointless things, I might at some point be able to focus on slightly more important matters like world peace etc (or perhaps I will just find another list of things to compile).  So here it is and please feel free to add as you think appropriate – one caveat – this list is by no means exhaustive but is merely a snapshot of what springs to mind as utterly pointless.

  • wasps – what or who actually benefits from the existence of wasps?  I have wracked my brain and come up with absolutely no-one or anything. They contribute, as far as I know, the sum total of nothing to anyone’s life.  Quite the opposite in fact, they detract from the quality of my life, particularly from enjoying lunch al fresco on one of those rare days in this country when the sun peers from behind the clouds.
  • various body parts – to be precise I am referring to tonsils, appendix and male nipples.  I can honestly say I have never heard anyone, or in the case of nipples any man, say “thank god for my tonsils/appendix/nipples – I would never have survived without them – it was touch and go and thanks to them I pulled through”.
  • “Onesies” – please someone explain to me why any fully-grown person would want to dress themselves in an adult version of a babygrow?  What could possibly be attractive or remotely appealing about looking like an oversized baby.  To be perfectly honest, I actually find “onesies” rather creepy.  I reserve particular distaste for novelty “onesies” – is it not bad enough that an adult thinks it is appropriate to dress head to toe in one piece of material (because it so so cosy) without adding novelty ears/antlers or whatever?
  • Parsley garnish on restaurant food – don’t get it.  Who eats it?  I have never seen anyone eat parsley garnish.  The first thing everyone does is remove it to the side of their plate.  I don’t have a problem with parsley per se but just its use as a totally pointless addition to a perfectly good dish of food.  The only reason in my mind ever to garnish with parsley is if you were trying to cover up a rather unpleasant plate of food or one where presentation is rather lacking.
  • “Baby on Board” signs in the back window of cars – am I the only person who finds such notices so smug, irritating and pointless that it has the opposite effect on me – I actually drive closer to the car displaying the sign rather than keeping my distance and I find myself feeling irresistibly drawn to swearing more than any mother of 3 of a certain age should do decently.
  • Celery – the most pointless foodstuff of all time.  It tastes revolting and adds absolutely nothing to anything.  Apparently you lose calories eating it but that just has to be one of those urban myths designed to make you feel better about something so pointless in the same vein as being really sick in pregnancy  is a sign of a strong pregnancy – seriously?
  • Limbo dancing – don’t get me wrong, I like dancing, in fact I like it a lot.  However, I fail to see the point in bending backwards progressively to a more extreme degree in order to get under a horizontal bar.  Why?  What does it prove except that some people are more bendy than others?
  • The recorder – how many world famous recorder players can you name?  None.  I rest my case.
  • Bus timetables – buses never arrive on time so why is it helpful to know when a bus should have arrived but didn’t?
  • Teaching children to say “thank you” – “aha, strange one” you are thinking.  I am not saying that gratitude is unimportant – quite the opposite – but that trying to teach our children to say “thank you” is a pointless way of expressing it.  Saying “thank you” is clearly counter-instinctive for humans as this can be the only explanation as to why it appears to be the hardest thing of all for children to learn.  If only our ancestors had dispensed of this customary way of expressing gratitude, I could have saved an awful lot of time and energy saying to my children after nearly every utterance, “What do you say?  What’s the magic word?” – in my case I reckon on average 20 times a day for the last 8 years. Compared to algebra or the like, it is hardly a difficult concept to grasp but I have yet to meet a child who has mastered this simple response.
  • Non-alcoholic wine – completely self-explanatory, I think.

That’s it for now.  I am going to help myself to a glass of wine, weighed down with a high alcohol content, and ponder the pointlessness of spending time compiling a list of utterly pointless things.

Stationery Fetish…

A Post-it note is a piece of stationery with a...

A Post-it note is a piece of stationery with a re-adherable strip of adhesive on the back, designed for temporarily attaching notes to documents and other surfaces. Although now available in a wide range of colors, shapes, and sizes, Post-it notes are most commonly a 3-inch (76 mm) square, canary yellow in color. A unique low-tack adhesive allows the notes to be easily attached and removed without leaving marks or residue, unless used on white boards. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have to admit that the title sounds a lot more exciting than the reality.  The only “Fifty Shades of Grey” I’m afraid that you are going to get from my blog today is fifty shades of grey writing paper.

I was having lunch today with some girlfriends and it was a conversation we had that has sparked this blog piece – I, or to be more correct my friends and I, are stationery fetishists ( I hasten to add that I mean fetishist in the dictionary meaning of “someone who has an excessive and irrational commitment to something” rather than any sexual overtones).  I wouldn’t have ever described myself as this until I realised that in fact I am not alone – far from it, there are loads of us out there: people who really love stationery and most particularly shops that sell stationery in all its shapes and forms.  I am not just talking about the Smythsons of this world – luxury stationery – I get more satisfaction than I should from looking at the more humble stationery displays in WH Smith.  Who needs a Mont Blanc pen – all I want is any fine point ballpoint pen with turquoise or green ink (my personal favourites)?   I find it almost impossible to pass a fine display of stationery and not buy something for which I have absolutely no use at all.  I recently bought a huge stash of multi-coloured post-it notes despite already owning at least 10 pads of regular yellow post-it notes – totally superfluous, yes, but you can never have enough post-it notes (or at least that is how I justified it).

I think my “obsession” with stationery has its roots in my childhood when I had a writing case with lots of different coloured writing paper and a fountain pen with different colour inks – I loved that writing case or more accurately its contents.  Of course in the era of email, letter-writing is on the wane (shame) but perhaps all this has done is feed my stationery fetish. Admittedly, I am less likely to be found salivating over different coloured writing paper nowadays, and much more likely to be found eyeing up yet more box files, multi-coloured wallet files, highlighter pens and the ultimate for any stationery fetishist – card: white card, black card, thick card, thin card, shiny card, even glittery card (as described to me in hushed, reverent tones today by a friend).

I recently went to a stationery superstore called “Staples” – this is basically like a child being let loose in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory: row upon row of stationery delights, organised pleasingly by use, colour and quality.  As previous readers of my blog will know, as I have aged, I have developed a rather unhealthy obsession with Robert Dyas (that’s a shop not a Hollywood film star) and the only way I can describe “Staples” is that it is to stationery what Robert Dyas is to homeware.  Even the name is inspired – “Staples” – suggests that you, the consumer, is “fixed” (in my case read “fixated on”) their store, unable to drag yourself away from the seemingly endless permutations of stationery ware.

Enough. The only reason that I feel able to even write about this little stationery-loving quirk of mine is that today I realised I am not alone.  How do I know this – well today 5 seemingly normal women actually discussed their love of stationery seriously for a good ten minutes – it was all very therapeutic, in the vein of “hello, my name is … and I love stationery”.

Back to life, back to reality…


40. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am 40.  You may have been slightly concerned by my blogging silence over the last two weeks but rest assured nothing awful has happened to me as a result of reaching this milestone birthday – no, in fact, quite the opposite, everything is totally as before and it has just taken me a while to recover from all the celebrations.

I didn’t expect anything earth-shattering to happen and I have to admit that actually I’ve rather enjoyed the whole “40” malarkey.  So far I pronounce 40 to be “fine”. If I’m honest, I feel a sense of gravitas which was definitely not there at 39.  Indeed, I feel like this is the start of something rather than the end of something. A bit like new year’s resolutions, I have decided that my forties are my decade for finally achieving something professionally.  I feel a new sense of confidence and assertion. I guess I feel much less concerned about what others think of me – I don’t give a ****.

However, despite all this slightly concerning self-analysis, reality has been prodding at the edges of my newly-reached 40-ness. I was brought back to earth with a jolt 2 days after my birthday when I received in the post an invitation to go for an ultrasound screening for”dangerous plaque build-up or blockage” in my arteries. I have never received such an invitation (if one can call it that) before.  Clearly, when you hit 40, alarms sound on every database in the country and suddenly overnight I have entered a whole new group of people – those at risk of age-related disease. I’m not sure I am so keen on this side of being 40.  I do feel that whoever it is that sends such “invitations” might have the decency to leave a respectable period of time between the day on which I turn 40 and the issuing of the “invitation” – may I suggest a couple of months at least rather than 2 days.

Secondly, despite my new found assertiveness, I still find myself unable to request that those working in customer services whom I’ve never met before call me “Mrs….” rather than by my christian name.  This may sound slightly ridiculous but this is one of my bugbears – the customer service agent who starts his conversation on the phone with me by asking “Can I call you…christian name…” – I want to shout” No you bloody can’t” but find myself meekly saying “that’s fine” and then wincing for the next 20 minutes when he/she prefaces every sentence with the repetition of my christian name. I know many of you are probably thinking that I am being utterly pathetic and trivial but I can’t help it, it just infuriates me and I promised myself that when I hit 40, I would “just say no”.

Thirdly, on a more serious note, I have had my bank account and my Facebook account hacked into and even a new bank account fraudulently created in my name.  Nothing like this has ever happened to me before and it has been a real eye-opener.  I could now bore on for Britain about internet security – I won’t but suffice to say it has been a total pain in the neck and I could cheerfully strangle (in a manner of speaking) whoever it is that has caused me this first real test of my forties. Last night, when I discovered my Facebook account had been accessed, I decided to take a new approach and take it as a compliment that someone wanted my identity so much that they have decided to be me!  I am being flippant, of course, and it has been a total bore having to secure all my internet activity and accounts again.

I’ll leave the last word to my 3 year old daughter.  When she is asked how old her mother is, she replies (and this is after relentless training on my part), that she will be 4 at her next birthday and I am 4 with a 0 on the end – now that doesn’t sound too bad, does it?

Final Fling before Forty…


Gangnam_Style_PSY_28logo (Photo credit: KOREA.NET – Official page of the Republic of Korea)

So in exactly 12 hours I shall be 40 – apparently I was born at ten past two in the morning.  Seems as good a time as any. I have to admit that at the moment – and that is key – I am rather enjoying this “turning 40” malarkey. My husband and I held a big 40th birthday party on Saturday evening – enormous fun and proved all the important things to me such as I am not too old to drink ridiculous amounts, to dance all night, to stay up until 3.30am and not be desperate for my bed (this final one was, I feel, my greatest achievement as increasingly I do find myself nodding off at an embarrassingly early time in the evening – usually with the first bongs of the 10 o’clock news (am I the only one who finds these incredibly soporific?))

However, it is all too easy to be lulled into a false sense of security when partying hard at our age – you can still drink, you can still dance, you can still do really stupid things (like on Saturday evening, paddling in the pond at 2am and downing shots) but you can’t handle the next morning and the hangover.  It is all too easy to blame it on the kids – have to get up early, have to get breakfast and try to function as a parent – but this is just rubbish – in fact, the truth is, you can’t handle the hangover because you are no longer 21 and your body is not designed to withstand the pressures of a night for a 21 year old.  Nature is so cruel – she lets you believe you can still do it, you swan around feeling omnipotent and invincible (helped along by numerous glasses of whatever your tipple is) and then it all comes crashing down the next day.  Not only do you have to suffer the physical effects of your excesses but also the humiliating realisation that things that you thought were hilarious the night before are actually not that befitting of someone approaching middle age.  There really isn’t anything that would make a group of young people cringe more than the sight of fifty odd people in their late thirties, forties and fifties doing the “gangnam style” dance. It seems to me that it is crucial at 40 to only have still photography at any party where you are in danger of thinking that dancing in a certain way is cool or hysterically amusing because the idea of having such poor taste on film is really too much to bear.

It reminds me of when I was picking the music for my party and my friend’s son was helping with the “technical side” – my friend and I got slightly carried away by a rerun of 80s and 90s  classics such as “Pump up the Jam” and “Ride on Time”.  My friend’s son watched in horror at the demented dancing of his mother and her equally demented friend and shook his head in disbelief as I tried to explain how this music was the forerunner of what he listens to today and it was mould-breaking etc.  I could tell he wasn’t buying my philosophical approach to the impact of 80s and 90s music on the substance of the music of today’s youth. I guess the only consolation is that in 30 years time, I’m sure he will be having a similar conversation with his children about how innovative and ground-breaking the music of 2012 was. Anyway, regardless of his horror and complete incomprehension, I am not embarrassed to say that both those tracks were played on Saturday night and were floor-fillers!

So next time I write, I shall be 40…I am not expecting much to change except perhaps a sense of relief that the waiting is over!