My phantom pregnancy…

A pregnant woman

A pregnant woman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am back in the “office” and rather gratifyingly my clients seemed to have missed me.  The week started well largely because Monday signalled the end of half term and a return to sanity.  I muddled through the week until Thursday when my sense of humour was tested to its full.

Let me explain.  Thursday started innocuously enough.  I did some exercise – yes, I know what you’re thinking…that doesn’t sound that innocuous considering that I am the girl who dresses for exercise when I have absolutely no intention of exercising in order to appear as though I have been exercising.  Confused?  So am I a lot of the time.  Anyway, that morning I had actually been exercising and in order to maximise my post-exercise smugness, I wore my exercise kit for the rest of the day.

That afternoon I went to a meeting with a friend as part of my class rep duties.  At the start of this meeting, I was introduced to someone who is helping us with a class party.  I was still attired in my exercise clothes (arguably not that suited to a meeting).  The man to whom I was introduced seemed rather fascinated with my stomach – or at least that was where his eyes were focused (makes a change, I guess, from another part of one’s anatomy!) and he said hello and then said something on the lines of “Who’s been eating lots of chocolate then?” – yes, I kid you not, this was his opener.  Those who know me well will attest to the fact that I am very rarely lost for words…on this occasion I was literally struck dumb.

First reaction:  what the…? Second reaction:  I must be wrong, he must mean something completely different. Third reaction: surely not…he can’t mean that…perhaps he does mean that.  No worries, he soon clarified what he actually meant by digging himself into the most extraordinarily large hole with the immortal words “Oh sorry, I thought you were pregnant!”. Yes, you read that right, he did say that and not for the first time in that few minutes, I was once more left entirely speechless.

Let’s face it, you wouldn’t really take the pregnancy option with a complete stranger unless you were fairly confident that they were well into the gestation period, would you? It’s not the kind of thing you want to get wrong, is it?  By my reckoning, that would make me at least 5-6 months pregnant…I don’t know who was more mortified  – me or him when the error of his judgement was pointed out to him.

Suffice to say, the best thing to do in such circumstances is laugh and hold your stomach in ad infinitum – both of which I have been doing since Thursday last week.  It must be said that this little  incident could not have had worse timing as Friday signalled the start of a weekend in France for me, my husband and some friends and that weekend clearly meant swimwear horror.  I didn’t let it put me off and in fact I just milked it all weekend…”eating for two”, “need to put my feet up in my condition” etc.

However, every cloud has a silver lining and mine came on Friday evening at 3.30am outside a french nightclub.  As I sat outside the club waiting for our taxi,  I was approached by a man (in front of husband) –  a good-looking man in his mid-twenties I should add.  He asked me if I was tired as I was sitting down and I replied that at my age, 40, (and in my condition!), tiredness was an occupational hazard if you dared to go anywhere after midnight.  He looked genuinely surprised and said he couldn’t believe I was 40 and had thought I was 29 tops. OMG, distended “pregnant” stomach immediately forgotten as I basked in the ultimate (although clearly ludicrous) compliment.

I of course related this to my friends in the taxi with great glee – divine retribution, I thought, for the earlier horror visited upon me on Thursday. My husband and my friends were less convinced.  They pointed out the obvious (which I was trying to ignore) that it was 3.30 am, dark outside and the man in question was almost certainly wearing a very strong pair of “beer goggles”  Thanks guys!


Queuing for Muse @ Teignmouth - 4th Sept 2009

Queuing for Muse @ Teignmouth – 4th Sept 2009 (Photo credit: tj.moore)

Queue: chiefly British, a line or sequence of people or vehicles awaiting their turn to be attended to or to proceed (Oxford Dictionaries Online)

Queuing is an integral part of the rich tapestry of British culture. We know how to queue, how to behave in a queue – in short we are masters of queue etiquette – quetiquette for short. Some people of other nationalities appear to have a somewhat confused understanding of quetiquette. By the way did I mention that I am holidaying in France at the moment?

So because I am so public-spirited, I thought I would enlighten those who appear a little unsure of the basic rules of quetiquette – below are the cardinal rules if you want to queue successfully.

1. Join the queue at the end. This may seem blindingly obvious but it is extraordinary how many people think it acceptable to join half way or worse push in towards the front. We Brits have a word for such people – queue-bargers. If you should fall foul of this very basic rule then expect a lot of tutting and cries of “this is a queue you know”.

2. It is perfectly acceptable to listen in on others’ conversations in a queue. It is totally unacceptable to look as though you are listening to others’ conversations. One of my favourite queue occupations is constructing plausible lives for my fellow queuers from snippets of overheard conversation.

3. The very nature of queuing means you are closer than you might like for an extended period of time to total strangers. Be careful not to be a space invader. The merest accidental touch/bump of a fellow queuer must be accompanied by excessive and effusive apologies.

4. Conversation whilst queuing is a potential minefield and should only be with the full consent of both parties. Just remember that if you say the wrong thing, there is no quick exit and in addition, note point 2. It is advisable to keep to safe topics. In the case of conversing with the British, safe conversational topics are the weather and of course the finer points of the art of queuing.

So there you have it. Keep to these quetiquette rules for successful and socially acceptable queuing. Of course these are just the cardinal rules, the art of queuing has many other more subtle nuances which take years to master. I must dash now as I have a queue to join (at the end) for a ski lift to take me up a mountain on my non-skiing skiing holiday or my après-skiing holiday as I prefer to call it.