Pressure

UNDER PRESSURE! Yes, thank you, David Bowie and Freddie Mercury, I am, indeed, “under pressure”. It’s like you wrote that song for me! (You didn’t, I know. You released the song in 1982 when I was, um, not even born yet *coughnottrue* so how could it be for me? Unless you were both soothsaying wizards…? Oh please let that be the case)

Anyway, must stop chatting to dead musicians, it does nothing to maintain my veneer of sanity. Surely another symptom of feeling “under pressure”? C’mon, we all know the signs, repeat after me: sleeplessness, anxiety, irritability, general angst, doom, tragedy, fecklessness, really bad personal hygiene, and finally, raging harpy.

Or that could just be because it’s Tuesday. Tuesdays are bogus.

Whatever’s going on, feeling “under pressure” is not great. And there’s that nagging kick in the guts that, hey, you’ve only got yourself to blame. Yes! Well done, me. You could’ve said ‘no’ to various projects, you could’ve chosen a quiet life, you could’ve tolerated a million different unpalatable situations, all in the name of avoiding that damn pressure.

Woo! Doesn’t that sound like a big ol’barrel of sweet’n’sticky FUN?

Actually no, I love my life, wouldn’t change a thing – I guess what I’m trying to address is that, at some point, as I get older and more withered and inevitably wiser, there must be some tried and tested ways of dealing with this crap, which don’t involve scuttling back to bed and using my duvet as a shield against the world.

Currently, I employ two different methods of coping: COMPLETE AVOIDANCE and SORTING IT LIKE A BASTARD.

Complete avoidance is more commonly used, I’m sad to say. This can involve:

  • hoping the pressure source goes away
  • waiting for someone else to deal with it
  • combination of the above
  • going back to bed

Whereas sorting it like a bastard takes a bit of chutzpah. And there are days when the chutzpah is more easily summoned. Seriously, they should bottle that stuff, I’d buy it. The other day, I sorted a LOAD of stuff, like a great big bastard, and it was great.

Today, not so much.

So what I’m after is, I think, validation. Is it OK to say ‘sod this for a bag of chips’ and go back to bed? Or should I suck it up and deal with it and at least attempt to sort it, even if I don’t achieve ‘like a bastard’ levels of attainment?

How do you cope with being UNDER PRESSURE?

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Christmas

I  just started writing a post about how much I dislike Christmas. It may have contained the phrases ‘f***ing Christmas’, ‘Christmas can f*** right off, the bastard’ and ‘f*** off jingle bells’. Then I deleted it.

Because I thought, if I publish this, people will think I’m some curmudgeonly old harridan, screeching ‘Bah humbug!’ at orphans and gifting lumps of coal to my loved ones. And I don’t want people to think that of me… even though it’s true… 

Just the other day, I told a parent in the playground that I don’t let Moo buy into the whole Santa Claus crap (because HE’S NOT REAL) and the horrified look on her face – while strangely satisfying – gave me some indication as to just how low on the Scrooge-scale I’d sunk.

So before I ruin the festive magic for my precious daughter forever and forever, I’m going to list what I LIKE about Christmas instead.

Mince pies. YEAH. Literally the BEST thing about this godforsaken holiday season. From November onwards, roughly 75% of my nutritional intake comes from mince pies. And I don’t fully understand what they’re made of, either. Pastry? Good. Brown stuff? Good. Icing sugar dusting? Good. Oh wait, there’s booze in them too? GOOD.

Hands up if when you were a child, you thought the ‘mince’ bit referred to actual minced meat, rather than mincemeat?* Oh just me then. Dammit.

Presents. Everyone likes getting presents, and if you say you don’t, you’re a liar. Anyone who says, ‘Oh I don’t want anything, don’t get me anything this year,’ is LYING. Presents are great. You can totally gauge how much someone loves you by determining how much they’ve spent on you, and by how many presents they’ve bought for you.

‘Oh, you’ve only bought me four presents? Wow. OK. This is awkward. I’ve bought you six presents, plus stocking presents, plus a surprise extra, plus vouchers because I wasn’t sure what else you’d like, plus a bottle of wine which doesn’t count as a present, really, even though I’ve wrapped it and concealed it with your other presents. Hmm. I guess I love you more than you love me! Merry f***ing Christmas.’

See? Competitive present buying can be fun AND indicative of whether a relationship is dead in the water, so useful too.

Note: if you buy me a scented candle, then I can only conclude that you don’t know me or love me at all.

Alcohol. Yay, sssChrissmuss! Where’s m’gin? Happy mmm… No don’ wan’ breakfssst first. Gimme booze. Cos s’CHRISSSMUSS, fusssake. Oooh, mincepiesss! …Zzzzzzz

Standard behaviour.

Santa2

Bastard.

And I guess that’s pretty much it. Not an extensive list, I admit, but definitely representative of the finer things in life, namely food, expensive gifts, and, um, alcohol. All wrapped up in a sparkly festive bow. Hooray.

Never let it be said that I’m not open to change, however. Maybe this year my frozen heart will thaw. What do you like about Christmas? Extra points if your list is shorter than mine…

 

*according to Google, mincemeat traditionally contains beef, or venison. SO CHILDHOOD ME WAS RIGHT. Victory!

WAHM

So if like me, you’re not totally au fait with all the hip new acronyms that the youngsters are using these days, let me enlighten you somewhat: WAHM stands for Work At Home Mother. Slightly different to a SAHM, though in my opinion, that’s still bloody working, and a MILF, which I won’t go into here (ask a youngster).

And, yay! I am now a fully-fledged WAHM. That’s right, Moo is in full-time education (gotta love that full-time education), business is good, and I am now definitely a complete WAHM, with a laptop on a crowded dining room table and everything.

But what does a typical day for a WAHM look like? Well, everyone’s different, no two days are the same, blah blah. This is what I get up to – try not to spit bile with jealousy – and remember, take everything I say with a liberal pinch of the white stuff*.

7.30am Morning has broken, and it’s damp and cold and dark, dammit. Now I have become a slave to the school run (a singular delight. I jest, of course. It’s utterly direful) the mornings are generally a whirl of force-feeding my daughter breakfast, choking on a cloud of dry shampoo because I didn’t have time to shower, hiking through driving rain and endless hordes of soggy commuters to get daughter to school, and then trying to get back home before anyone notices that I’ve put my jeans on back to front.

9.00am Time to start work! For those of you unaware of my new status as Businesswoman Extraordinaire – I have business cards, so it must be true – early this year I set up a theatre company with another lady called Monkey Trousers Theatre. We write, produce and perform an original theatrical sitcom for families. It’s doing rather well so far. In fact, our last shows sold out and we’re confident our next one will as well. So there’s plenty to prepare for – making props and costumes, marketing and PR, rehearsing, learning lines, organising staff, etc, etc. Which is why I spend the next few hours checking out what my friends are up to on Facebook (and feeling faintly annoyed that they all seem to be having way more fun than me).

11.00am Tea break! (One of many. In fact, assume I’ve already had five tea breaks, and will have several more over the course of the day. You know what, just take it as read that I have a tea break every ten minutes or so. Being a WAHM is just one long tea break)

IMG_4461

11.15am Back to work! Seeing as most of my work is actually writing, I am on the computer a lot. And it stands to reason that I’ll need to use the internet, for, um, research and stuff. Having a blank Word document open while you chat on Twitter is absolutely working from home.

12.00pm Lunch break! Hey, if like me, you work from home, you can catch up on last week’s Doctor Who while eating, and then congratulate yourself for not being glued to social media throughout your lunch break! Winning!

1.00pm Check emails! And social media too, obvs.

2.15pm Nap time! A power nap is essential to bolster a WAHM’s flagging energy in the afternoon. All the doctors say so.

3.00pm School run! Well, look at that – it’s school run time again. Where did the day go? Crikey, that Word document is still blank… I’ll save it anyway, I’m sure my ideas will flow more freely once I open it up tomorrow…

4.00pm Parenting! Ah yes, once Moo is home, I am in full-on parent mode, so no time for work, ha ha. I mean, clearly I still need to check my emails and Facebook and Twitter, I can do all that on my phone, whilst I’m parenting. Easy. Anyway, she’s been intellectually stimulated at school all day, it’s totally OK for her to crash out in front of a DVD, right?

8.00pm DAMMIT I FORGOT TO GIVE MOO DINNER

And that’s pretty much a typical day for a classic WAHM like me. Any of this sound familiar? Or do any of you lovely WAHMs actually do some work?

 

 

*Salt. Obvs I mean salt. What were you thinking? Deviant.

Monkey Trousers

Sometimes in life, you have to take a chance. You have to, like, grab the bull by the horns – AS DANGEROUS AS THAT ACTUALLY IS – and just DO something about your own, like, personal satisfaction and well-being and stuff.

So that’s what I’ve done.

I’ve only gone and started up a business. YEP. A business. You may call me a ‘business woman’ now. Although I don’t have an item of clothing with shoulder pads yet. Or a Filofax. BUT IT’S ONLY A MATTER OF TIME.

The business is a theatre company called Monkey Trousers Theatre. We perform original plays for children. Our first few shows are scheduled in for the 4th and 5th of April. Just typing that has sent shivers of nerves through my stomach walls. D’you know what – IT’S FINE. Performers are SUPPOSED to get nervous. It’s OK to be slightly pooing myself about this sort of thing. It’d be worrying if I wasn’t.

But there’s a lot more riding on this. I formed Monkey Trousers Theatre with a like-minded friend because we both needed a job and we both really wanted to do something that we actually enjoyed doing. Acting, writing, puppeteering (oh yeah – we have PUPPETS). Such fun stuff, that we do because we LOVE it. But how to make (a small amount) of money (but really, anything is GREAT) from it? And that’s how Monkey Trousers Theatre was born!

So it’s about self-worth, it’s about making a bit of cash, it’s about bringing format theatre to the children of Bristol (lucky, lucky things) and it’s about doing something I ultimately enjoy. MAGIC FORMULA, RIGHT?

There’ll be plenty more updates as time goes on. There’ll be more photos of me dressed like this:

Say hello to my cheese

Say hello to my cheese

…and – I’m sure – more angsty blog posts about how FREAKING HARD it is to run a business. Especially because there’s so much that I don’t know yet. And I don’t have a Filofax.

Meanwhile, follow us on Twitter here @monkey_trousers

and on Facebook here Monkey Trousers Theatre

and check out our (work in progress) website here monkeytrouserstheatre.com

Please spread the word, share the joy, and revel in my embarrassment at being dressed like a crazy drag queen.

Thank you all kindly…X

Death

Of all the questions I was slightly dreading Moo asking me – which includes ‘how did I get made?’ and ‘can I have some Lelli Kelly shoes?’ – I reckon this one is the worst: how do we die?

Um. Aargh. Erm. Ack. How do we die? HOW DO WE DIE?

You can only be truthful in these moments, right? And by truthful, I mean, proper truthful, not just ‘parental’ truthful, a caveat which allows me to claim that peas are made out of cake and that Father Christmas/the tooth fairy/Justin Fletcher are actually real. So, I have to talk to Moo about death. I have to have one of those chats. Yay!

As keen as I am to protect Moo from some of the nastier aspects of this world, I know that she’s going to be exposed to the horror of it eventually. I guess my job is make sure that she can deal with the information effectively, and not let it scare her, or emotionally cripple her, or make her explode, or something. Therefore, being properly truthful is the way to go. ‘How do we die?’ she asked me. And also, ‘what is dying?’ She seems fairly certain that after dying, she would ‘come back’. Erm, no. Doesn’t work like that, Moo. I can’t say to her that we go to heaven, or to a special place in the sky, or an eternal soft play cafe with infinite strawberry milkshake on tap, because I don’t happen to think any version of that is true. But what can I tell her? The alternative is scary, even to me. We just cease existing? For ever and ever? No wonder religion is such a winner with vast amounts of the world’s population. Death is some scary shit.

I try sticking to biological fact. ‘Our brains stop working,’ I say. ‘We stop breathing. Our bodies don’t work any more.’ I attempt to keep my language simple enough for her to understand. But this is a three-almost-four year old girl who has only just discovered that everyone has a skeleton inside them. She’s assimilating and processing brand new information daily (hourly, minute by minute) on a massive scale. How on earth can she be expected to comprehend that our bodies just… stop? One thing I read somewhere once (it seems my memory is in real danger of just bloody stopping) is that you should NEVER describe dying as ‘just like falling asleep’. I mean, wow. Moo would NEVER GO TO BED, EVER AGAIN. As helpful a description that may be, it is fraught with complications. See also: resting. Resting implies a cessation of that rest. A temporary respite from the ravages of life. Again, just no. Nothing temporary about death. Am I cruel in wanting her to grasp that fact almost immediately? My rationale is that the sooner she realises this, the easier it would be.

And then, ‘how do we die?’ This is the killer question – pardon my terrible pun. ‘There are lots of different ways,’ I reply. ‘You could be very, very old. Or very, very ill. Or you might be in an accident.’ I resist telling her about war, Ebola, avalanches, cancer, murderers, rogue asteroids, escaped lions, falling trees, zombies… the list goes on. The list frightens me. Every second of every day is about me keeping Moo safe from all of that stuff. I somehow maintain my neutral expression. Moo is thinking about what I’ve said. I love her thinking face. I can practically see the cogs whirring as she processes my words. Then she asks me the very worst question of all.

‘You’re not going to die, are you, mummy?’

And I say, ‘Nope. Never.’

How do you deal with the Big Questions? Have you talked to your children about death?

Keep Dancing

This is why I love Strictly Come Dancing and I don’t care if you judge the heck out of me:

The hosts. It’s currently hosted by Claudia Winkleman and Tess Daly. Claudia Winkleman and Tess Daly are two women. TWO WOMEN. Apparently, this is, like, the first time in FOREVERRR that two WHOLE women have presented a BBC Saturday night prime time television show. And – guess what! – the sky HASN’T FALLEN DOWN OR ANYTHING. It’s all rather marvellous. Previously, it was Tess Daly and what appeared to be Bruce Forsythe, although it is my suspicion that he died years ago and they continued to use his pickled, leathery husk out of fear that the sky might fall down, or something. Well, BBC, in your face. Claudia and Tess are great. Sure, Tess still gurns prettily at the camera and struggles to competently deliver some of the cheesiest puns, but she’s a brilliant foil to Claudia’s deadpan wit and seems way more comfortable with that than she ever was when Sir Bruce clasped her in his sepulchral arms and whisper-spat ‘it’s nice to see yooooou’ in her ear. YAY CLAUD AND TESS-TESS.

The celebrities. OK – ‘celebrities’ is used very loosely here. They’re ‘familiar faces’, with the occasional ‘who the heck is that’, and at least one person you thought was someone else but turns out it’s been That Guy From Masterchef all along. But who cares? The uber-famous would be boring. We see them all the time, doing uber-famous people things like getting their photo taken in airports and being caught in the newsagents with no make-up on. I like the ‘familiar faces’ because they’re more REAL. It could be US on that dance floor, stomping around and sticking our bums out and being told we have ‘good musicality’ when there’s nothing else constructive to say about our dancing skills. The ‘familiar faces’ are warm, supportive, humorous, humble, and generally very lovely. By the end of the series I am unashamedly in a little bit in love with all of them. And then the TV show is over, and we only ever see them in their blah-blah day jobs again, and the love has gone. But that’s SHOWBIZ, amirite?

The judges. Superb. I bloody adore Len. He can be my granddad if he wants. Bruno is as mad as a bag of frogs and knows it and doesn’t care. And why should he? He’s fabulous. As is Craig. I think it’s a real credit to him that he’s deemed to be the ‘nasty’ judge BUT is still so respected and liked AND he has a WICKED sense of humour. Love him. And I’ve been a fan of Darcey B for an absolute age; the lady is a legend. All four of them KNOW WHAT THEY’RE TALKING ABOUT. They’ve spent a long time in the business. They exude just the right amount of seriousness and utter pantomime for the show to function as a whole. We will, however, brush the Alesha years under the carpet and never mention them again. Ahem.

The dancers. Man alive, do these people work hard or what? I am continually astounded by the amount of sheer, physical energy the pro dancers pour into each show. I used to think the dances were choreographed by other people (I guess… choreographers?) to take the pressure off, but no, IT’S ALL THEIR WORK. They train a lot. They are so fit. They have to wear the most ridiculous outfits in the entire universe AND YET it kind of works. Oh, and by the way, I was at a wedding in London recently and two of the pro dancers were there as guests. In real life, they are very tiny and extremely handsome/pretty, and I am slightly disappointed that we weren’t treated to an impromptu cha-cha-cha BUT I partook in a ceilidh AT THE SAME TIME AS THEM, so you could say, I have danced with two of the pro dancers from Strictly Come Dancing. You could say that, you definitely could.

The atmosphere and the camaraderie. Oh, to be part of the show must be a wonderful thing. Everybody looks as if they are having THE BEST time. Yeah, it’s a competition, but I always get the impression that they all GENUINELY SUPPORT each other and want each other to do well. The things I appreciate the most are that a) everybody starts off as complete ballroom dancing novices, and b) even if you have had experience dancing (say, as a member of a pop group) that doesn’t necessarily guarantee that you will ace this discipline. Everybody has to train hard, nobody slacks off, whatever their age, body type, ethnicity, gender, etc. And because it’s such a great leveller, they feel part of a group of contestants, rather than individual competitors. I think that’s what I’m trying to say. You know what I mean, right? Oh, whatever, it looks like SO MUCH FUN, y’know.

The glamour. Hey guys, it’s me, right? I don’t do glamour. I’m not a sequins-kinda-gal. I’m pretty sure I’m allergic to that much fake tan/hairspray/make-up. It’s all so fake. Yeah! I know! I’m not pretending that’s even a clever observation, because it’s not. Strictly Come Dancing is all about the artificiality of a certain style of expressive art, and it quite unreservedly relishes that. It has to – it wouldn’t be the same otherwise. But for all the panto and glitz and fakery, what I love about it is that all of it stays in the ballroom, where it belongs. Nobody advocates wearing an obscene amount of sparkly bronzer in their day-to-day life. Nobody advocates wearing an alarmingly slashed spider-web wisp of a dress unless they’re being whirled around a dance floor. In the training montages, we see dancers and familiar faces alike looking sweaty, greasy, tired, and bit minging. Then they are transformed for the show. Because it’s a SHOW, it’s THEATRE. Hooray!

I think I’ve extolled the virtues of this television programme enough, for now. I could go on for a very long time about how much I love it and why, but you will more than likely want to kill me fairly imminently, and that’s not nice.

So, tell me – are you with me, or against me? Is Strictly your thing, or does it make you come out in hives?

Screen Time

I think like any parent, I’m concerned with the amount of screen time Moo has at home. When I say ‘screen time’, I mean time spent watching TV, or DVDs, or on the tablet playing games, and when I say I’m ‘concerned’, I mean I thought about it fleetingly the other day and thought ‘ooh that’ll make a good blog post’.

So here it is. This is a comprehensive account of how much time Moo spends looking at a screen on a typical weekend day. I chose a weekend day because she’s at preschool most of the week and I’m pretty sure they don’t just sit all the children in front of a three hour film and then nip off down the pub. Also we had NO PLANS this last weekend (what social life, gah) so if Moo’s screen time seems a bit heavy then IT’S NOT FAULT HER FRIENDS DON’T WANT TO HANG OUT WITH HER.

Saturday 13th September

6.46am Moo gets up and comes into bed with me. It’s still the middle of the night (anything before 7am is the middle of the night) so I pass her my tablet and drift back into a fitful doze whilst listening to the bloody Numberjacks solving some nonsensical problem, the numerical bastards. SCREEN TIME: 1 hour 14 mins

8am We get up. I throw breakfast at Moo while she watches Milkshake on channel 5. She decides she doesn’t like Milkshake any more so I spend the next hour trying to decipher what she does want to watch on iplayer. There are A LOT of TV programmes on iplayer. I skip around the channels, and eventually assume she’s watching a BBC4 documentary about John Betjeman (her choice) but when I look up from my phone (a blog post about my screen time would be HORRIFIC) she’s stuffing grapes into her pyjama bottoms. SCREEN TIME: 1 hour, off and on

9am Get washed, get dressed. Usually when I’m in the shower she plays on my tablet in her bedroom but today she’s lining up her dinosaurs and making her dolls dance for them. This could be quite disturbing if I thought about it too much but I haven’t had a cup of tea yet, and there’s no milk in the house, so I resist psychoanalysing her games and drag her to the shop to get some groceries. SCREEN TIME: nil

10am – 12pm Ah the leisurely thrill of a Saturday with NOTHING TO DO. It’s a lovely day so I feel I ought to take Moo to the park, but I know I have some writing to do and I’m itching to get on with it, so I turn the TV on and ask her what she wants to watch. She requests Disney’s Cinderella on DVD, which surprises me because it’s old, quite boring, and there are no wisecracking fairies in it (Tinkerbell is a current favourite, dear god). However, she sits quietly for at least an hour while I draft and redraft and edit. Then she gets bored, and me and my laptop are suddenly the MOST EXCITING THINGS IN THE UNIVERSE. I spend a less fruitful hour showing her pictures of herself when she was a baby and explaining that yes, she was cute, and yes, mummy does look very tired in all those photos. SCREEN TIME: 2 hours, ish

12pm – 2pm Lunch time. Fractious. The TV’s on but no one’s watching it. Moo is scribbling on a chair. ‘Are you scribbling on my chair?’ I ask her. She replies, ‘No.’ This is a blatant lie. I get cross. She gets upset because I’m cross. I get her some paper so she can scribble on the paper and not my furniture. She draws a picture of me being cross. I feel very bad. I envisage a future where Moo is in school and only ever draws pictures of ‘mummy shouting’ and ‘mummy with angry eyes’ and we have lots of earnest talks with concerned teachers. I get ready to take Moo to the park. SCREEN TIME: TV is on but as background noise only

2pm – 3.30pm Going to the park is a mistake. This is obvious to me straight away. The playground is full of hipster parents, all laughing and jolly and completely unruffled by their angelic children. By contrast Moo is quite feral. I take her to a less populated area and we play treasure hunt for a bit. This is enjoyable until it becomes clear that Moo’s idea of treasure is someone else’s discarded crisp packet, or a bird’s manky arse feather. I want to play Let’s Sit Quietly And Look At The Clouds but she runs to the playground and immediately picks a fight with a small boy on the slide. The boy’s father gives me a look: part pity, part suppressed horror. I mutter something about Moo being ‘tired’ and grab her bodily. We exit the park. SCREEN TIME: nil

3.30pm – 6pm This time of day is always pretty murky and dreamlike, due to both Moo and I being at the end of our tethers and dealing with it in totally different ways. At some point during this time, I cook dinner, wash up, tidy up, text the boyfriend to bring gin and cake when he comes round later, tidy up again, scream into a cushion, tidy up, and run the bath for Moo. The TV is on, it’s background noise, I don’t care any more. SCREEN TIME: who gives a stuff

6pm – 6.30pm Bath, bedtime stories, bed. SCREEN TIME: nil but only because I can’t stand In The Night Garden

TV, I love you

TV, I love you

TOTAL SCREEN TIME: yeah, quite a lot

CONCLUSIONS: I’m not fussed by how much screen time Moo has, quite frankly. I know it looks like a lot when I write it all out like that, but there is a lot of the day when the TV is on and no one’s watching it. It’s there, it’s noise, it’s a momentary distraction if something needs doing (the tidying up, the endless tidying up). To be honest, I’m satisfied that Moo gets a good balance of outdoor time, screen time, book time, playing time, and (MOST IMPORTANTLY) sleep time. I watched a lot of TV when I was growing up and I think I’m all right. I think. Shurrup.

Are you concerned by how much screen time your child has?

 

Scrabble

You might have gathered by now: I am quite faddy.

That’s FADDY.

YES IT’S A WORD. The red squiggly line of doom may have just appeared beneath it as I typed but the WordPress dictionary is BOGUS – it doesn’t even recognise the word blogger, for cryin’ out loud.

And faddy IS a word, I just checked it on the internet, and the internet doesn’t lie.

It means, like, to be susceptible to transitory whims, innit. Case in point: me and loom bands.

I have not made a loom band in WEEKS. I was, yer honour, totally susceptible to that transitory whim.

But my NEW fad (and there is ALWAYS a new fad) is: online Scrabble (otherwordgamesareavailable).

YES FOLKS. I am currently crushing on Scrabble.

Scrabble is GREAT, right? I mean, I’m pretty good at it, so I like it and think it’s great. But objectively, it is GREAT. It expands your vocabulary. It forces you to think (always helpful). It exercises your competitive muscle – which, in my case, it could be argued, is a BAD thing, but those people beat me in a competition and they’re dead now.

I am a terrible loser. Me throwing a Monopoly board across the room after a particularly unfruitful game (for me, specifically) is part of family legend. No one plays Monopoly with me any more. I don’t blame them. I am a sore loser, and I admit it.

With Scrabble, though, I have a damn good shot at winning. I know words. I know lots of words. And I’m learning new words and RETAINING them in my brain, so I can use them in future games and WHIP THE ASS off my opponent.

Did you know, for example, that BEAUISH is a word? Well it is. The red squiggly line of doom is there again, but SUCKS TO BE YOU, WORDPRESS, because the Collins dictionary says BEAUISH is a word and it scored me a lot of points.

Also, WAQF is a word. WAQF.

Yes. WAQF.

WAQF.

It’s a word, a real life word. I looked it up. It’s an ‘inalienable religious endowment in Islamic law’, yes siree. It’s also a BLOODY GOOD WORD to get in Scrabble, especially if you hit a triple word score.

WAQF. Go figure.

It helps, as well, to memorise a lot of 2 and 3 letter words for use with deadly accuracy when you haven’t got a motherfricking clue what else to put on the board. ZA, ZO, QI, QIN, JA, and JO have helped me out rather a lot in recent weeks. I don’t even know what they mean. I don’t care, as long as I’m winning.

Anyway, I’m enjoying this current fad more than I can express, namely because I am victorious on fairly frequent occasions and it’s a great way to avoid doing any actual writing, because I can fool myself that it’s ‘educational’. Haha (also allowed).

Hoping IOABIFN is a word

Hoping IOABIFN is a word

OK, the downsides? Like I mentioned, it’s seriously getting in the way of me doing any real writing (as well as housework, socialising, parenting etc) and it’s best not to play anyone you actually know, because my boyfriend challenged me to a game and then he won, the git, and now he’s on my Kill List and I’m really gutted because I like him A LOT.

Yeah. I’m a terrible loser.

But this is just a fad, it’ll go away soon… right?

Oh and in case you’re wondering, my best word (so far) is REINDEER for 122 points, and my best game (so far) is 450 points.

Are you a Scrabble fan? And can you beat WAQF for most random actual word ever?

Birthday

WARNING: introspective blog post ahead. Only read if you are not averse to intense navel-gazing and amateur soul-searching. For those who do press on: GOOD LUCK, SUCKER. 

So, it was my 36th birthday last weekend.

Yes – YES – I know what you’re thinking. How can I possibly be 36 years old? With this youthful and vigorous demeanour? With this smooth, unblemished complexion? With this wholly juvenile and lowly sense of humour?

Well it’s true, I’m afraid. I’ve grown up a bit. I am 36 now. Not old, by any means (though the notion of being in my ‘late thirties’ is strangely HIDEOUS) and despite in recent years being resolutely against celebrating my birthday, I have decided that actually, y’know, birthdays are quite fun. I had a lie-in, I had tea and chocolate cake in bed for breakfast, I had brunch with family, I had fro-yo with Moo and boyf, and then posh dinner in a posh place with my lovely boyf later that evening. S’all good, right? Birthday FUN.

And birthdays, y’know, are also a time for reflection.

There is the ‘OHMIGAAAAWD ANOTHER YEAR OLDER IS THAT A GREY PUBIC HAIR’ reflection.

And the ‘I really thought I’d be CEO of a multinational biscuit company by now’ reflection.

And don’t forget the ‘Wow, this is actually the future, where are all the flying cars’ reflection.

But, really, I do think I am learning stuff all the time. When I was 18 there was a vague assumption that by this age, I’d have it all sorted by now. HAHAHAHAHA. Oh, foolish, naive, teenage me. Now I’m thinking: is there ever going to be a time when I have it all sorted? And if I don’t, is that OK?

I can’t decide if I’m becoming more laid-back, or more intolerant. Or both.

I saw a man wearing skinny jeans the other day. My initial, instinctive thought was: ‘crikey, that man really should not be wearing skinny jeans’. Then I thought: ‘hang on – what the heck – he can wear whatever he likes, just like I can wear whatever I like’. AND THE NEXT DAY I BOUGHT A CROP TOP. Live and let live, if it’s not hurting anyone, yeah?

Starting to notice that my body can’t take the same level of calorie-battering that it has done previously. I still eat cake. Biscuits. Chocolate. PASTRIES, oh my. But I’m mainlining vegetables on a regular basis. I miss the healthy stuff if I go without for too long. Yes that’s right. I MISS VEGETABLES. My eight year old self is aghast. I’m also increasingly aware that I should be exercising more. Working on that motivation. Years of sluggishness are hard to undo.

Generally, am very content. ‘Course, there’s stuff I would change in an instant (millions in the bank, world peace, biscuits for all, flying cars) but on the whole – what I’ve got is good. Pretty darn good. I am lucky. I am lucky, to have what I have, to be who I am. Must remind myself of that a bit more, and instil something similar into Moo.

These were just a few thoughts that careered around my head-space over my birthday weekend. Some of it went deeper, but I don’t want to scare you. I think the image of me in a crop top will be disturbing enough.

For the record, no greys down there. Yet.

What life lessons are hitting you as you get older? Your wisdoms, PLEASE.

Wobbly Nipples

And on a more light-hearted note…

Moo is a very gregarious little girl, and loves talking to everybody, which I usually find endearing, but not on a recent visit to our local shop.

We were standing in the queue, waiting to pay, when an older lady started talking to us. I’m always happy to let Moo do the chatting. She’s way cuter than I am, and generally much less misanthropic. I only had half an ear on their conversation until, in reply to the lady’s question, ‘And what have you been doing today?’ I heard Moo pipe up with ‘Tickling mummy on her wobbly nipples.’

I think I did what they call ‘dying inside’. Good times.