Political Shamblings – Clegg v Paxman

It’s happened – they smell a weakness.

It all started when the beard came in for me. Maybe the (curiously sticking out in every direction but down) fluff covers up the full strength of the sneering upper lip. But it seems that now Russell has done his barnstorming, rollicking and let’s face it (and I am a little bit ashamed to say it) darn right sexy Jeremy Paxman interview. Nick Clegg has, like a boy in the playground, tried to get a little kick in on the class bully now that a bigger boy has pushed him over.

You can almost feel his thrill at being able to touch the once untouchable, with a wonderful little whinge on his radio show about how he sneers at them and gets paid loads more than they do. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/nick-clegg-condemns-sneering-newsnight-presenter-jeremy-paxman-8926307.html

picture on nick clegg on LBC - to illustrate a blog on his comments on Jeremy Paxman

‘Yes I wouldn’t actually say this to his face obviously..’

Unfortunately though, his dismissal of Jeremy’s claim to be involved in politics because he didn’t vote, simply reinforces my perception of just out of touch most politicians are. What needs to be repeatedly hammered home to MPs – is that though we might vote for you it’s probably because we are voting against someone else to try and avert an even worse outcome. Truthfully we don’t feel represented by the vast majority of you, even when we vote for you. The fact that he has been open about choosing not to vote and actually explained how he felt doing it  – might actually help everyone out there who feels frustrated and fucked off and knackered by the whole rigmarole of party political bollocks and ‘calm down dears’ and the routine demonisation of the poor and unemployed – to hang on in there and keep sticking that X on the paper no matter how disenfranchised we feel because the alternative doesn’t make you feel any better.

And are we really supposed to feel sorry for you because someone was little bit mean to you in an interview? We see the parade of you of Newsnight and personally if I was trying to interview you I’d probably be mostly tempted to punch you in the face rather than just say ‘oh come on’ a few times. Most of you try so hard to tread the party line and not make mistakes that you don’t actually say anything at all. We don’t know you or how you feel about anything. Is it any wonder that people feel that you are all the same – you don’t show us anything that is different. Is the fact that someone needs to harangue you to try and force you to actually say something (anything!) that you might actually believe in, so frustrating for you that you need to try and undermine the person who’s doing it.

And you know what, I really am a terrifically lazy person who is easily distracted by a nice cup of tea and a biscuit. But lately I have signed petitions, written a letter to my MP and now written this.  For me to feel forced to wade in with poorly researched comments and a paltry grasp of the facts, things must be terribly broken

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Chanelling Ripley – or – How to Get Rid of a Mouse When You Have Kids

As anyone who has read my cats (they are just waiting for their owners to die so they can eat their kidneys) blog will know – I am not quite at one with nature. So the (v amusing) yelp of fear that came out of my husband the other night when he saw a mouse did not fill me with joy. It was wandering around the kitchen floor and appearing to have a one mouse party in the kitchen detritus that is fermenting under our fridge.

I am not the most confident person around small animals – rodents in general are just a bit scampery and toothy. I like animals when heightwise they comfortably come over my knee, they just seem more predictable somehow. As I’ve also banged on about before, I  have bit of a thing against monkeys as well. It’s the small hands – I can always imagine them scrabbling into my room at night to strangle me in my sleep. What really no one else?

So what do you do when you have a mouse – obviously Google! And it would appear there are many options of mouse removal. But not all of them work with kids.

  • Poison – Not an option for us. Not only because of the children who will eat anything, literally anything. I worry about owls eating the dead mice and also dying (I realise this is a stretch in South West London). Plus if they die in your walls they stink for days.
  • Mouse traps – We have nowhere safe to put them as the gap under the fridge is too small. And though mice like cheese so do both my toddlers. Plus I’m not that keen on the idea of disposing of a dead mouse or indeed having to despatch an injured one. I have lived this long without killing anything larger than a mosquito and I hope to continue to do so.
  • Sonic repellers – Heard v good things from friends about these but reviews online are a bit patchy. Bit of a risk for something that’s quite expensive.
  • Humane traps – we went for these and chose these ones from Rentokill. Designed like a little box with a lid that closes when they tip the balance of the box.

The first night it tripped but no mouse. The next morning it had tripped again. Now my big learning about this whole affair – is that though mice are obviously really small, like really, really, really small  – they appear to weigh nothing at all. They also make no noise or even move despite being picked up and wiggled around. I know this because both my husband and I picked up the box to check it this morning we both did not realise there was a mouse inside. This meant that when I decided to reset it with both my kids in the kitchen it was quite a surprise when a mouse covered in what can only be described as its own urine and excrement leapt out of it at waist height and scampered across the worktop.

The oldest child thought this was the most exciting thing to have ever happened to him. The littlest went absolutely ballistic. The mouse did what I want to do in the face of toddler tantrums and hid in the smallest darkest place there is – behind the radio in the corner of the worktop. There are not many things in my life I’m completely proud of (children aside who are obv just perfect enough without being irritatingly so), but my actions in the face of what will now forever be known as ‘Mouse Crisis’ were genuinely fucking awesome.

Step one – Remove extremely emotional children to a chair off the floor.

Step two – Grab a towel (previous google research had indicated a towel thrown on a mouse will keep it still and then you can place a suitable mouse trapping vessel over it) and have the towel to one side while you..

Step three – Create funnel of things within grabbing distance creating a path back into the trap. Wiggle something in at the other end of the radio until they run back into the trap.

Step four – Have congratulatory dance of joy with older toddler whilst simultaneously comforting still sobbing ‘ma-ha-ha-ouuuuse’ small toddler.

Step five – Pack up family in car go to local park. Find a rough(ish) area. Arrange children a safe distance away and then let it run free. Do not release it into your garden – I am not a naturalist but I’d give a fair stab that that’s where it came from in the first place.

Step six – Remove mouse excrement from kitchen.

Yes I grant you that a mouse in unfamiliar territory, covered in its own fragrant combination of urine, poo and peanut butter (bait) will probably last about two minutes. But it will at least be two minutes with the scent of wilderness (oh ok and urine, poo and peanut butter) in its nostrils.

I have surprised myself by how I dealt with everything. In the past my considered response to that situation would have been a fair amount of shrieking, calling for back up and letting the mouse run off while I ran in the other direction. But that’s one of the good thing about kids is that they push you to be stronger and braver than you really are. And the best thing about it, the thing that makes me really happy is that my children now basically see me like this..

Sigourney Weaver and David Attenborough combined

Me on a fucking good day.

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Cooking on Gas

Bless me reader for I have sinned; it has been two months since my last blog. I am fairly certain that this kind of behaviour can have you excommunicated from the mumsnet blog network (there are obviously many other beauteous parenting blog networks around) to wander the wilds of the internet alone with the only hope of online interaction from a random DIY forum or a liked business page on facebook. Even my parents called me up today to whinge about the lack of blogging lately – and they only started texting circa 2009.

There are some reasons for being so crap. I’ve been busy, unwell with the most persistent cold in the world and lots of work stuff to do. But mostly I’ve just been feeling a bit sorry for myself. There has been a much diminished pool of bonhomie and I’m afraid that what I had I used up on my children, and so there was nothing left for you. It takes effort to do all the funny voices and comedy songs that get me and my children through the day (by the way any song  that ends with the line ‘..and comes out of my bummy’ is a big success.  It covers the essential toddler comedy basic – poo! and rhymes with tummy / yummy / scrummy etc making it easy to slot at the end of all food based musical rib ticklers. You can have that one – think of it as a make-up gift).  Don’t feel too bad though, my husband got very little Happy Me either and I’m not sure what I can give him as a make-up gift – maybe a blowjob but then what would I get him for Christmas (only joking – obv it’s his birthday).

Lots of people blog for support and to share their problems – and that’s brilliant if it works for them. Whatever you need to get through the day is great. But when I feel shite I retire to my bed like a Victorian lady though I guess it’s unlikely she’d be watching New Girl on 4oD on her laptop.  Personally I blog when I’m happy – yes I might be talking about the breastfeeding damage but it’s normally at the point when the nipples have just about starting talking to me again rather than when they are actually hanging off.

So from the fact I am blogging again you can take it that I am feeling much more myself. This has coincided with the return of Strictly. Don’t judge me too harshly. This is how reality TV used to be.  When programmes like Faking it left everyone including the viewer feeling better about themselves rather than cheap and tawdry. It’s a joyful sparkly thing (well apart from Bruce – and no it’s not an age thing it’s a Bruce thing).

But the main thing that got me writing again – the thing that reminded me why I started this thing in the first place – is that my best friend just had a baby. I haven’t even seen him yet because she lives too far away but the fact he is here and the photo updates I get make me happy. That’s the wonderful thing about babies. Yes they cause a whole shitload of trouble, mess, noise and worry but they are also the most joyous and transformative thing you can do and life would be a whole lot more boring without them.

On a totally unrelated note I saw this the other day. No this is not the promotional poster for the next Saw movie – this is apparently entirely suitable for a child’s play centre. I’m not sure which bit I like the most? Maybe it’s the eye & mouth nipples, or the fact that bowel gets pointed out with its own extra special arrow. It could be the that they really, really? thought the groin was the best place to put the heart. But after careful consideration, I think that my favourite bit is that whoever made it, got just too confused about which eye to name so they just left both labels blank.

strange picture

Guaranteed to give your kids nightmares

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Who’s the Daddy?

Being a dad to a tiny baby is a thankless task. Everyone will ignore you. Visitors and family will only focus on the baby. Health professionals will only care about your wife and baby. Your baby will much prefer their mum – they have the tits you see. You will also be fiercely compared and judged by your partner’s friends and NCT group. Don’t get down about it – it’s a fact. And so I have written some general advice about how to be as productive and as little of a twat as you can.

Firstly do some reading, but not the dad chapter in ‘What to Expect’. Read these two books instead:

Home Game: An Accidental Guide to Fatherhood by Michael Lewis (the guy who wrote Moneyball)

Night of the Living Dad by Sam Delaney

They are funny, short, easy to read and most importantly – true.

Then from me:

Go on a baby stag
If like the majority of people you were living together before you got married – a stag do is basically an excuse to have a party with no responsibility, old people or children before the actual wedding party. Neither the stag or the wedding – above and beyond being a lovely celebration – actually mark the fact that you are significantly changing the way you live your life the way a stag do used to. Having a baby though is when the shit gets real. You will have literally no social life for the first 3 months of your baby’s life at least, and from now on in there will never be a completely guilt free night out. Trust me looking after any age of child with a hangover is not pleasant. No one is saying go to Prague in a gimp suit for 3 days but you may as embarrass yourself on the dance floor one last time before it officially becomes dad dancing.

MAN UP!
I have no idea why all spies are not women. After the first night of sleep deprivation most men under interrogation would be blubbing every secret they knew like Chunk faced with a blender. This is not the time for man flu or any other kind of ‘I feel a bit tired and I fancy a cuddle’. My (normally reasonably sensible) husband came down with and whinged about! sinusitis two days after I gave birth – ‘eeerrrm.. I’m sorry I must have misheard you did you say you gave birth out of one your nasal cavities. If that happened and only if that happened do you deserve sympathy at this current time.’ He had to call his mum in the end to drive him to A&E for antibiotics (due to Boxing Day medical provision).. A&E. Yes, you may feel steamrollered and mental and knackered but so do we and we actually did the birthing thing so I’m afraid you must expect no sympathy and be able to self medicate. But at least you can feel a certain Daniel Craig smugness in your stoicism.

Always be at the birth
I have no idea why this is even raised in public debate again. Probably because some pain in the arse male doctor somewhere questioned the neccessity, probably the same one who sets the targets for natural birth rates. Yes you will feel useless, uncomfortable and contribute very little. But you need to be there. You, to be frank, did this to your partner – face the consequences. Give yourself a little job, it doesn’t have to be much – passing the cup of water or the gas and air pipe and try not to be too irritating. Because you know what this stuff is fucking hard and a little bit dangerous and if something did happen and you were not there – you’d never be able to forgive yourself. Plus even if she says she’d rather have a doula and her sister with her, if you miss the birth it will be bought up in every fight you ever have… forever.

Do not become obsessed with jobs
Yes mowing the lawn is technically productive. But it is also a bit of mind space and basically a diversion from the baby. You may not feel an immediate bond with your baby. We admit it newborns are weird and you have no idea what to do with them but guess what we feel a little bit like that too. The bond will always come through caring and spending time with the baby, even if it’s just holding them while they sleep. It’s the time you put in that lets you really get to know your own tiny strange little thing.

Buy many box sets
You will both have very little social life for the next while. There are now 3 people in your relationship. No it’s not – ‘you, your partner and your baby’.. it is ‘you, your partner and TV’. Films are too long for sleep deprived people – 40 minute episodes for during the week and hour long ones for the weekend when you can push the boat out and even have a takeaway and a beer too! Get comfortable, get slobby, get your tracksuit out. Trust me you will like it.

Embrace the wardrobe
If you are having or have had a baby girl – this is probably the first time that you have entered into the female clothing realm with anything other than bemused indifference or occasionally (depending on who’s wearing it) an appreciation of something small. Now however you are making the decisions – no one is expecting you to master colour blocking – but you do need to be able to dress your child so they look functional and normal outside where other people will see them. This requires you to learn the basic difference between between dresses and skirts and, even more complicated leggings, trousers and tights.

Do not be smug
Do you like being good at things? Did you ask more questions than your wife at NCT? Step away from the information sources. You do not need to be better at this than your partner. She will probably be massively hormonal, vulnerable and maybe even a little bit mental after giving birth. What she doesn’t need is someone second guessing or desiring to show off just how much better you are at this than her. Congratulate yourself that despite this obviously irritating personality trait, someone liked you enough to allow you to impregnate her and instead concentrate on being nice and supportive. And you never know she might even let you do it again.

Oh and if you could look a little like this while you do all this, that would be great.

Chris Hemsworth and baby

Chris Hemsworth – it just works on so many levels. I’m sorry I’m so shallow.

Feel free to add people – what advice would you give?

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Double Bloody Gs

I am in supermarket checkout queue. With children. (not right now obviously, I am painting you a picture of the other day). I suddenly see the 3 year old appears to be fascinated by the checkout lady. Quite a lot of the Sainsburys teenage staff sport that scouse brow thing – and the caterpillar on face look can normally be quite diverting for the toddlers but n0 this one is middle aged and fairly normal. The only po..ssib..le thing is that she has a very short haircut and dark colouring which has led to the vaguest suggestion of a moustache.

I look between the two – his confused expression and her quite scary customer service handling skills and try to head it off at the pass. ‘Say hello to the lady’. He just looks at me perplexed. I continue to talk at all and sundry throughout transaction to leave no conversational gaps, I am manic and sweating. I have payed, we are saying goodbye hurrah! we have succeeded. ‘Really a ‘lady’ mummy, *one more glance**a loaded pause* not a man?’ comes piping loudly out of the ball of truth on legs that is a standard toddler.

Fuck, shit, bollocks.

I spent most of my teenage years being mistaken for a boy (a badly judged haircut, serious braces and a small weight problem that left any growing buds much more like moobs that boobs) and know know how shit it is. But with sheer genius the checkout lady stood up in front of entire queue and shouted ”Man’ darling? These are double bloody Gs love – you can’t buy these!’

I think I love her.

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Travelling with kids – looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue

First things first – some apologies are in order. My already sporadic blogging has been even slower lately because I have been on holiday. Or to use its other post baby name – going somewhere else to have even less sex and sleep than I already have at home. Hurrah!

baby's legs kicking in a swimming pool

Holidays are great… once you get there!

It’s still good obviously being away – mostly because you are away from the guilt of constantly feeling like you should be doing something. Working, cleaning, doing phonics (which is apparently ABC on acid youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ffeZXPtTGC4 seems to suggest ), organising childcare, reorganising childcare, trying to see friends, failing to see friends, exercising, not eating cake, etc.. Even me, who’s simple mind finds it pretty easy to switch to that Homer Simpson mode where he skips through the happy land of cake, can occasionally feel guilty about the increasing mound of washing up now that the dishwasher has decided to die. But holidays are time away from the nag list in my husbands head (if you remember he is the putter in my household) and that is good for all of us.

But most of the trouble with kids and travelling is generally down to the whole process of getting there and back. My best friend took two children under the age of three to Canada – apparently the way out was the worst day of her life and the way back was the second worst.

I have only done short haul flying or driving holidays with my two dudes but I thought I would share the potted history of things I have learnt with you.

If you drive, try putting them to bed in the car and driving late – you can sometimes get four hours under your belt – whine free! – listening to your own music, and not Peter fucking Pan again. This tends to work best under the age of four. After that it’s the most exciting thing they have ever done ever and the least pleasant thing you have ever done.

If you are not rolling around in money like ourselves in the Blunderbuss household then flying means only one thing – budget airlines.

The one big thing I have learned is that Easyjet and Ryan air are not one and the same when it comes to travelling as a family. So I would bear in mind the following costs and pointers in addition to flight costs when deciding who to fly with. For ease of typing I am shortening the airlines to RA and EJ (am presuming this is ok with you all.)

Infant charges – one of my favourite things about flying with babies is that they charge you for having them on your lap – presumably this is for the air they breathe seeing as they aren’t allowed bags and don’t even print them their own ticket. RA charge £30 and EJ cost £20.

Luggage – Smart packing matters when travelling with babies – especially when you pay per bag. Easy jet charge £15 per 20KG bag Ryan air charge £15 for a 15KG bag – you can book a bigger bag but it costs more.

Baby items – RA allow you to bring one baby item i.e. carseat, travel cot, pushchair. EJ allow you two. **

But the big thing – the most important thing! – is that RA do not allow priority boarding for families – if you want to have a cats in hells chance of sitting together and avoiding the seating scrum (where it looks like someone just tossed a bottle of St Tropez at the cast of TOWIE) you have to pay for speedy boarding. I do know the RA philosophy about keeping things totally stripped back to keep costs down and if you need extras then the individual pays for them but not allowing families to sit together doesn’t just punish the family involved it punishes everyone else on the flight.

In conclusion – I’m not saying that Ryanair are definitely evil but it is wholly possible that Michael O’Leary may have cloven hooves for feet.

By the way Ryanair are hardcore about not allowing you use the toilet between getting on the plane and take off. I find though they will break this rule if you wave a baby covered in poo from neck to ankle right in their face.

Final tip – anything, is allowed when travelling – bribery, treats, presents, not strictly speaking medically required calpol, having a little cry, going to the toilet and pretending you need a poo so just so you can have a little break for 5 minutes… anything!

** By the way – I am not employed or have anything to do with either airline – I think this is all accurate but it could change at any time. Do check out the details yourself if you are basing any decision about who to fly with on anything I have written.

Easyjet
http://easyjet.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/5552/session/L2F2LzEvdGltZS8xMzcyMjUxNDkzL3NpZC9DaG1xQ0l0bA%3D%3D

Ryanair
http://www.ryanair.com/en/terms-and-conditions#regulations-tableoffees

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Feminist Guilt (or how to be a nice bitch)

I am a lady (albeit in the loosest sense of the word) and generally I’m glad of the fact. Yes there are many downsides – childbirth, periods, constant ongoing battle to moderate body hair but at least during puberty you are less likely than the malekind to get a raging erection if you sit anywhere near the rear wheels on a bus to school. I think girls probably ride the hormone heavy puberty roller coaster just as wildly as boys, but luckily it’s all tucked safely and invisibly away in our training bras and pants.

But one of the downsides to being a lady is the whole being a ‘bitch’ thing. As it’s such an easy label to stick on pretty much any kind of outspoken female it gets a lot of use and I worry a little about it. I read a really interesting blog a while back about mean girling (women hating other women) by a very clever and successful female writer Liza Palmer and whilst reading it pretty much agreed with the whole thing – you can read it here if you like. But since then it’s been fermenting and whirling and guilting around inside my poor excuse of a frontal lobe. You see – though overwhelmingly I feel women should be more united. You just have to read any feminist popular culture for a bit before you get a bit frustrated about the importance placed on small scale issues like heels and lipstick and how this divides people up – and there is nothing more that the media loves than a feminist quarrel about female image and looks and sex so the whole thing gets massively overblown helpfully distracting us from the little things, like you know, wage differentials.

At the same time I look at the basis of the blog – the ‘Hollywoods 20 Most Hated Celebrities’ where Gwyneth Paltrow came first and Jennifer Lopez second whilst Chris Brown rolled in 20th and how this indicates a worrying women hating women trend and think that maybe the focus here is a little skewed. I’m fairly sure if women were given a sheet of 20 celebrities including Chris Brown and asked to rate them in levels of vileness, that most people would put him top – he is after all a total shitbag.  And to be honest isn’t Chris Brown a singer not an actor?? So to sort of come into the survey at all is maybe a small victory. But you just have to look at the FHM hottest women survey – I try not to myself you can get side-boob blindness after a while – it basically has a strong tradition of people winning that were on the cover at the time they do the announcement for voting.  People (particularly voters in the FHM sexiest women survey) are pretty straightforward people and quick fluffy questions get quick fluffy answers based on the last bit of media tat we read/saw/listened to.

Women already tend to have so much guilt we traipse around with – ‘Am I a failure as a parent if I work’, ‘Is my career a failure if I don’t’,  ‘Am I failing my family/partner if I choose not to or can’t have kids’, ‘Am I a failure if I have post natal depression… want plastic surgery… can’t be arsed to clean the house… etc , etc, etc. Generally the answer overwhelmingly is no – but it doesn’t stop us questioning ourselves about it way too much.  So maybe we should stop berating ourselves quite so much for finding certain people a total pain in the arse. Has anyone seen the Jenny from the Block video – it is fucking irritating, mahoosively so.  Jennifer Lopez has also been in 3 of the worst films I have ever had the misfortune to sit through – Maid in Manhattan, The Cell and Wedding Planner. She’d probably come up near the top of my list too if I was asked for a survey.  

And you know what – I don’t think I need to like all women individually in order to like women in general. And aren’t we wonderful – boobs are just great! Just as I know for a fact that all women don’t like me. I also don’t like all men or even all animals (particularly monkeys it’s something about the little hands). We all have our flaws or strengths that chime with people or don’t and that’s what makes the world a more interesting place.

I definitely agree that I think the media portrayal of women is massively concerning and that men are judged much less harshly for actions than women are. We ask these women questions that would be rude to ask anyone – about their sex lives, their fertility, their attitude to just about everything – and then judge them for their answers however they pitch it. After all we demand perfection in our female superstars but everybody has a different view of what perfection is so they are probably a bit fucked before they even start. Men on the other hand get away with being ‘flawed heros’, ‘troubled geniuses’, ‘cheeky chaps’ much more when in fact they are probably mostly just wankers.  

But at the same time I don’t think I can guilt trip myself for not popping out to buy Gwyneth Paltrow’s recipe book. I’d rather get the Marian Keyes one where she talks about how cake helped make her happy – because she speaks like me and to me much more than Mrs Paltrow ever will however immaculate her English accent is (and it really is very good).

Liza Palmer’s blog signs off with ‘We have to be the women we want our daughters to be’ – I agree with this. I want my daughter to be clever, kind and strong and I need to work harder on this. But I also want her to be funny and naughty and take a joy in ridiculing the ridiculous in this world wherever she finds it.

 

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