12 Jun 2013

My best friend's kid is a dick, but worse...

...she has nits!


Warning:  I guarantee this post will get you scratching.  

We first experienced the joys of head lice a couple of years back.  And you never forget your first time, do you people?  Our first born had finished her first year at school and we were on Italy on holiday.  I was on mat leave with no.3 and Ben is a freelance, so we were able to take a mortgage payment holiday and bugger off to Tuscany for a whole month.  We hired a very remote 16th century stone farmhouse miles from any civilisation.  There was a mini-market, naturally (I'm not Laura Ingalls Wilder after all, a girl needs her wine and chocolate) but it was a 30 minutes drive down the most frightening, winding treacherous mountainside track I've ever nearly shit myself over.  There was a 300ft sheer drop, albeit a very picturesque one.  If you did plummet to your End of Days you would at least enjoy the stunning vista of endless olive groves nestled at the bottom of the valley.  Should a local drive past in their pick up truck, all you could do was brake to a stop, stay exactly where you were with your eyes closed tightly, as they screeched past at a suicidal speed. As you can imagine, after one trip to the Supermarket and back again, we swore not to do the journey again until we were actually leaving the country.

I dye my hair.  Brown, black, red, orange and sometimes all at once.  Smothering my head in chemicals occasionally gives my sensitive little bonce a little itchy rash and normally all I have to do is lay off the hard stuff for a while and all is well.  So after I had been itching furiously for about 3 weeks, I was at my wits end, yet I still didn't even suspect nits as the kids hadn't been itching.  Plus kids get nits, not adults.

Picture the scene, we were sitting on our terrace, sun baked and happy.  I had prepared a feast of prosciutto, fromaggio, breadio and fruit (I may have made a few Italian words up, it's all in the accent though, don't you know) .  It looked so idyllic I even took a photo of the food.  The stuff of holidays, sweet bliss.  As we were all tucking in to our mid day feast I happened to glance across to daughter no.2 and notice a live insect crawl out of her hair and down onto her forehead!  The brazen little fucker!  (The louse not my daughter).  A couple of seconds later..... THE DAWNING.   THE HORROR.  THE SHEER REPULSION.   The nitty penny had dropped, I jumped up and rummaged through her hair to find a whole colony of full grown little buggers merrily enjoying their British feast.  On searching my other daughter and insisting that Ben search me, we realised that the entire family (except the baby who didn't have any hair, the lucky thing and Ben - likewise) was infested.

Not being able to face the drive down to the shop, I took my husband's hair clippers and shaved the lot of us bald, one at a time.  Every last hair on our heads was removed, like Demi Moore in GI Jane.

OK, so I didn't but by God I almost wish I did.  Ben was sent down to the mini-market and 3 hours later each of our heads was covered in a thick black coal tar.  What followed, as many other unfortunate parents will know, was days of combing, screaming and crying (and that was just me).  The tiny village shop was only stocked to sell fresh bread, bottles of wine, milk and that type of thing.  The nearest pharmacy was another hour's drive away, on top of the squeaky bum ride down the mountain.  Over the next few days, on the advise of the locals, we tried olive oil and more combing.  Mayonnaise..... and more coming.  Coal tar shampoo... and more combing.  We were greasier than a KFC chicken bucket.  Fortunately, some friends from home were coming out to join us for our final week (the fortune was ours not theirs).  We managed to get a message to them to bring a suitcase full of industrial chemicals to kill these little bastards once and for all.  I bet they couldn't wait to come on holiday after that piece of information.

We didn't get rid of them entirely for another month or so.  That's the nits not the friends (you really have to watch sloppy grammar don't you?).  We learned the hard way.  Every fortnight or so now we have 'nit check night,' where after a bath and hair wash, the children get to stay up late watching cartoons whilst I pick away through their hair wit a NittyGritty comb, wiping the forensic evidence onto a white tissue and then studying the contents of the tissue with my purpose bought pocket microscope.  I kid you not...  And so far, no re-infestation.

PS.  I was going to call this post  'Once bitten, twice shy' but my friend's kid really is a dick and really does have nits.  The fact that she has nits just confirms her dickishness.  I am so not letting my kids anywhere near hers.  Eurgh.

PPS.  It could have also been called 'Nitaly' as that is what we renamed our Tuscan adventure.  But again, you wouldn't know about that dickish kid.

PPPS.  You're wondering why she's a such a dick, right?  She's whiny, irritating, got a face like a slapped arse, rude, unappreciative, ugly.... and you can put up with all that if she's your own.  But she's not.  And now she's got nits.

Holy Shit

One of the main reasons we moved away from London was to live in a town where all the schools are 'good' or even better 'outstanding', or at worst 'satisfactory'.  Not words you might think to describe a school by unless of course you have children and you have done your homework and studied the OFSTED reports of every school for 15 miles around you.
Before children you might describe a school as 'convenient' or 'brick built' or 'cute' even, but as soon as your first child has squeezed out of your lady flaps, the Secret Club start discussing OFSTED reports.  It turns out that the £272,000 you paid for your darling little London terrace, 10 minutes walk from a zone 3 tube station is now as appealing as pair of skid marked pants.  Your house is slap bang in the WRONG catchment area.  Not only does your local prospective London school have CCTV and 24 hours police surveillance, but the OFSTED report says it's 'under special measures', which basically means it's shit and that by the time your child starts in the school nursery at age 3 and half, she is going to enter a war zone.  You are left with two choices, either enroll her in a tots self defense class in early preparation, or move.

Then it dawns on you, THAT'S why all the house prices were so inflated elsewhere: it's because they're near to the only highly sought after, (and indeed fought after) decent school within a 20 mile radius.  So 'moving' actually entails leaving London for the quaint and quiet burbs, but at least you'll be able to leave your child at the local school gates, knowing that not only will they receive a decent education that day but they won't be stabbed in the eye.

The trouble is, most the schools in my little town are 'good', but one is 'outstanding' so where does every parent (read mother) fight tooth and nail to get their child into?  The 'outstanding' school of course.  A peculiar survival instinct takes over your brain and smothers every logical or carefree thought, your heart is telling you that your child MUST go to the best school in town, they must be given the best chances in life.  NO MATTER WHAT IT TAKES You simply can't let the other people's kids get further ahead than your child in life.  Except it turns out that your closest school, which happens to be the 'outstanding' one is also a CHURCH SCHOOL.  By Jesus's Holy Mother of Fucking Christ, you're going to have to start going to church.  Are you actually prepared to do this for the sake of your child's education?  Yes, people.  I am ashamed to say I answered yes to that question and I am now a secret church goer.  I'm a fake Christian.  Or a fakestian.  Better known (in the hushed voices of the coffee shop) as a pew jumper.

This is how I found myself one Sunday morning (when I should have been eating bacon sandwiches, nuzzled next to my children in our king sized bed as we all watch CBeebies together) standing in a draughty church, mumbling along to a hymn.  Me!  Tess Harrison.  Who's only religion to date has been to worship at the altar of the Debenhams Blue Cross Sale.

Ben made his thoughts on the subject very clear.  He was not even going to pretend to like God, he wouldn't even nod politely if he spotted God across the street waving frantically.  He wouldn't step foot near the church and plumped for the weekly Tesco shop instead.  So it was all down to me to take on the challenge of Jesus loving.  I thought I would try it for a week to see how I got on.  The kids shuffled off into Sunday School in the hall next door to the church with a sweet old lady called Margaret to do colouring and eat biscuits whilst I stayed behind, under the watchful eye of GOD.  As it happened I enjoyed almost a whole hour of complete peace and quiet.  OK, so I had to stand up, sit down, find the page, murmur some words prayers, but most of the time I was able to zone out and relax.  Occasionally my eyes wandered around the congregation and I would spot another highly likely pew jumper.  Proper pew jumpers play the game very well.  There are unspoken rules:

1.  You don't talk about fight club pew jumping.  You NEVER talk about pew jumping, even to your cousin's best friend's dog who lives in the Outer Hebrides.  You certainly can't blab about your deceitful worshiping to the next person who asks you how you are, which as you can imagine is on on-going concern for me.  You definitely certainly can't blog and tweet about it. (Oh...!) Proper pew jumpers will take their secret to the grave (buried in the church yard if you're that good).

2.  In order to look genuine, you must volunteer for everything like a good Christian would.  This may involve cooking sausages at the church BBQ, attending church walks, hoovering the church halls from time to time,  taking the occasional Sunday School class, hosting meetings at your house, delivering prayer cards around the town.  Endless... the work involved in running a church is endless.  And you must volunteer to do it ALL.  The irony is that you may end up more involved in the church than a regular Christian person.  Guilt will kick in and you will end up over compensating for your lack of religious belief.  I wouldn't be surprised if the Vicar herself started off as a pew jumper and got so involved a cakes sales and hosting Bible meetings that she's actually roped herself into being Top Dog!  I bet she doesn't believe in God.

3.  Longevity.  A transparent pew jumper will go to church for approximately 6 months.  As soon as the Vicar has presented the letter of recommendation that your child is churchy enough to attend the 'outstanding' school, then the obvious fakestian disappears never to be seen again.  This is actually harder than you might think because you will have a diary full of cake sales, church fetes and meetings that you've signed up to.  Christians are savvy little souls and know exactly how to ensure 'bums on seats'.  A clean break is a very tricky manoeuvre to pull off.  Indeed, I would say impossible.  Unless you fake your own death, or move town.  I have sniffed out many an inferior pew jumper who has tried to slope off out the backdoor from god's party, but they always end up 'showing their face' a couple of months later for the nativity play, or the church anniversary lunch.  I have now been going to church (as seldom as I dare) for FIVE YEARS! I haven't held a job for as long as that.

4.  Your church attendance will become stressful because you must hide your dirty secret from all your non-church going friends and work colleagues.  I imagine it's like having a love affair.  You can't let on to anyone what you've been up to, you must hide all traces of evidence, always look over your shoulder to see if anyone has spotted you going into the hotel church. You must get very adept at making up excuses for what you did at the weekend.  Here are some suggestions you are free to use:
  • I buried the family dog (If you have a dog you must remember never to mention it again, if you don't then you need to quickly invent a name, breed and personality for it).
  • I was bed ridden with genital herpes (this should stop any conversation right there and then)
  • I prancercised
  • I'm having an affair (preferable to the truth)
  • I most certainly did NOT go to church.  Why would I?

Now if there's anyone reading this that genuinely does love Jesus, then good for you.  Seriously, I am very much of the belief of live and let live.  I respect all religions and I am even quite envious of people who follow a religious belief.  I'd love to have faith.  I'd love to know where I was going when I carc it, at least I'd get back to sleep at 3am when I'm awake in bed wondering what the hell it's all about.  I think some religions have some very sensible rules like 'Don't kill your neighbour's cat' and 'Respect your elders' and 'Don't eat pork if it's been sitting around in the hot sun in a smelly Moroccan market for hours on end'.  Hell, I married a (technically) Jewish boy and I even ended up staying in a Buddhist monastery for a week:

Reader:  "Fascinating stuff Tess, were you travelling round the world at the time?  Nepal?"
Tess:       "Hemel Hempstead" (Junction 8 of the M1)

4 Jun 2013

What's the worst that could happen?

The truth is I think I've always been an anxious person. 
So when the doctor asked me "Do you think you've always been anxious?" I had to wonder.  "Well nooooo, surely not" I scoffed.  Doesn't everyone have an endless stream of mind chatter like little voices constantly arguing with each other?  No?  They don't?  Oh.  Just me then (and possibily the other 9.2% of the British population also suffering from anxiety disorder).

I come from a very stable family and had a very happy home.  OK so my parents did pretend to ring the Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang every time I misbehaved which sent me into screaming panic attacks.  It is true that my brothers' favourite game was to hide around the house and jump out on me screaming and pointing like the alien Donald Sutherland in the final scene of the 1979 classic Invasion of the Bodysnatchers.  I too would scream in helpless anguish like Nancy in the film.  Except I wasn't acting.  It is also true that my parents were incredibly forgetful, disorganised and late for everything, especially when it came to retrieving me from social functions.  Once I stood outside Brownies at 8pm on a Wednesday winter evening, waiting for my parents to collect me.  Finally the caretaker from the school who was on his way home noticed me and had to begrudgingly unlock the school again to go back in and call my parents from the school office to remind them that I had been waiting for two and half hours in the drizzle and somebody needed to retrieve me.

Likewise when I was 13 I went to Spain for a month to stay with my best friend and her family who had just emigrated.  It was the first time I had ever flown on my own and I was very nervous and intimidated by the whole process.  On the return journey I trotted excitedly through the arrivals hall looking for my welcoming parents' faces, anxious for their warm comfort after my grand adventure in the big wide world.  "I bet they can't wait to see me after all this time" I thought.  Two hours later, I stood alone in the arrivals hall, my shoulders slumped all my hopes of a happy reunion dashed.  A little tear started to trickle down my face.  A stranger noticed my distress at being abandoned and kindly gave me a coin for the payphone so that I could call them and then another pound for a fizzy pop and a muffin whilst I waited.  "We thought it was tomorrow, your plane" announced my mum breezily as she arrived 4 hours late to finally reclaim her offspring, as if the airplane company had decided to change their flight schedule just to mess with her day.

I got lost in the local indoor market when I was about 6 years old.  A kind old lady responded to my sobbing and took me to the market office, where they sat me in a plastic garden chair with a packet of Jelly Tots and made an announcement over the tannoy system that a small child wearing flares and a tank top (no doubt my brothers' hand me downs) was waiting in the office.  My tears dried and I began to feel safe, saved even.  An hour and 4 more announcements later my Mum finally walked into the office.  "I was in the queue at the veg stall and I didn't want to lose my place" she explained.  "But Mum I've been here ages" I whined in protest.   "Well yes" admitted my Mum, "I decided I might as well finish all the shopping as you were safe in here, and then I had a very quick cuppa at the tea stall".

The irony is of course, that now I am a busy working mother of 3 I find myself following in my mother's footsteps.   History is repeating itself.  Or if it's not history then it's some gene that is missing in our family lineage - the one that deals with calmness and organisation.  Though I have yet to leave a child stranded at an airport... but there's plenty of time for that.

But surely this is all very 'normal'.
Isn't it?

Doesn't everyone lie awake at 3am with sweaty existential angst?  Wondering why the hell I am here?  How long will it be until I die?  Who am I supposed to be?

Isn't everyone terrified of tsunamis?  And not especially keen on big waves either, if they're honest?  If you owned a flat in Brighton for example, wouldn't you have planned your escape route in great detail, the one which involved smashing the window of the local motorbike shop to steal a scooter, so that you could make your Hollywood style get away over the hills to a high and safe refuge point?  Actually, it still bothers me how I'll get the Scooter to start without any keys.  I expect they leave some behind the till or in the staff room.  Surely they all have keys as the bikes must be taken out on test runs.  Oh shit balls, what if they're locked in a safe?  Oh God... I need to work out this plan better.   Ah, no I don't.  I've moved, I don't live in Brighton anymore.  That must be why I moved.  It's way too stressful a place.

Haven't you thought long and hard about the best way to jump out of a moving car should the situation arise?

Or if your train derailed and crashed over sidewise, how you would avoid getting squashed by the fat knacker in the seat next to you and make it to the escape window?

I am a Worst Case Scenario kind of girl.  Ben bought me the book Worst Case Scenario Survival handbook for a laugh.  He honestly thought I would enjoy the pocket sized joke book.  I do, but I use it as an indispensable companion for every journey I ever go on and NOT for amusement.  Because in my mind what the hell would you do if you were struck by lightening, lost in the desert, charged by a bull or attacked by a shark.  Holy shit balls, these threats are real.  We need to be prepared, people. 

I even fear talking on the telephone and actively avoid using it a altogether where possible.  I fear I may actually hear out-loud the nonsense that is spilling uncontrollably out of my own mouth.  This is a problem I have even when faced with the challenge of a normal face to face conversation.  A simple verbal human exchange, how hard can it be?  Well bloody hard if you're like me.  I find myself starting well, then at the first sniff of a pause I panic and my mind chatter takes over and I take off on a tangent...

Social Acquaintance (SA):  Hi, Tess. How are you?

ME:  Great, yes, thanks.  Well OK actually... well I dunno, you know, the usual normal stuff I guess.  Just trotting along like every one else.   Getting by.

SA (looking a bit awkward and sorry they asked):  Oh......?

ME (beginning to panic about what we should now talk about):  I've got a bruise on my boobs!

SA (a little suprised and embarrassed at the extra information):  Oh......?

ME:  Yeah and a massive hang over because I went out on Friday night..., (realising that it is now Tuesday), Yeah it takes me ages to get over a hangover these days... (realising that I went to the pub with some other friends not including this one) Well, it was just a a few mums in the pub, nothing big or anything, in fact I don't know if you know any of them, there's this woman I barely know actually and, well it was quite boring so you wouldn't have even wanted to go.  Not saying that you did want to go because I expect you had something else on, but you know what I mean.   And anyway I thought I should cycle home to save money but as soon as I got onto my bike, I fell straight off the other side.  Jane - not the Jane you know, a different one who I know from somewhere else, said "You're not going home in that state on that bike" and packed me off in a taxi.  A fiver it was just to come down the high street.  Anyway I didn't even know you could bruise your boobs, ha ha ha ha ha.  The handle bar banged me right in the chest.  Do you wanna see?

SA (backing away now, wishing they'd just smiled and walked by):  Well actually, I've... got to... do this thing.  Bye.

I end up spending lots of time on my own just to avoid embarrassing myself in social situations like these.  And this was just a "hi, how are you" conversation.  Why didn't I just say "Fine, thanks - you?".  I'm sure there are better ways to deal with every day life.   NORMAL PEOPLE must learn these ways.  Maybe I wasn't at school that day.  Maybe my parents forgot to take me.  On the other hand, in my mind it's FAR more important to know how to survive if you become adrift at sea than it is to hold a social pleasantry.   You're not going to pack a bullet wound with a little small talk, now are you?

When I lost it

It may not come as a complete surprise that after my third child I went totally do-lally, had a bit of a mental breakdown and ended up on a double dose of that well loved anti-depressant Citalopram.  "Oh that, I hand that out like Smarties" my GP friend once told me.

The final straw was after a long weekend in which my in-laws were visiting.  We had all gone out for a pub lunch for a nice Sunday family meal so that I didn't have to bother cooking, and they were well fed for their car journey back up to York.  It was a lovely idea in theory, except I was still struggling with breast feeding.  That's an understatement, I was finding breast feeding so hard that even to attempt sticking my boob in the little blighter's face I had to be in my arm chair by my bedroom window (the one with the comfy arms), baby stripped down to her nappy (to avoid her falling asleep) and propped on my Breast Friend.  10 deep breaths ...... and then the latch on.   Toes curled in agony.... wait for it, 10 more deep breaths.... and relax the shoulders, release the grip on the back of my poor baby's neck!  Just a minute.  Back up.  Did you say....?

Yes I did, my Breast Friend.  A large piece of foam that clips around your middle (I wouldn't call it a waist for at least another 18 months) and all for the small sum of £45 of your finest pounds.   Day light robbery I hear you cry, but this baby's life depended on it.  If I didn't have my Breast Friend, the baby wasn't being fed.  With baby no.2, it came on holiday to France with me.  Once I had packed it into my suitcase I could fit very little around it, just a few size 18 maternity vests stuffed into the whole in the middle.  And some bottoms, I wouldn't have gone around in a vest only, showing the French and his wife my vagine (my French for vagina).  We were a large group of 6 couples, all with children.  All of the mother's could whop out their boobs anywhere and everywhere to feed their babies of course.  But dammit, I struggled on much to the cruel amusement of my so called buddies.  They would wait for me to go to bed (at about 9pm!) and then take turns to wear my Breast Friend balancing their beers on it.  The bastards.  If I hadn't have been so hormonal I might have found it funny too.  In a kind act of solidarity my husband Ben decided that he would wear it every time he cuddled the baby "to support his back".  Kind act my arse, he was taking the Mickey just like the rest of them.

On learning from this and other similar experiences of how unportable my Breast Friend was,  I'd decided that the pub gastro dining room was no place to take it even if I could bear the conspicuous nature of it.   2 hours later we were dangerously close to feeding time.  Little did my boobs know that the service would be slow, the in-laws would linger for coffee and the time would tick by so quickly that as soon as my daughter's eyes pinged opened I knew we were on a countdown to melt down.  Hers and mine.  We said our goodbyes as quickly as we could, bundled the 3 girls into the car and drove home at break neck speed.  OK, so we didn't.  You can't really do stuff like that with 3 kids in the car.  You can't even get into the car at break neck speed with 3 sets of seat-belts, various teddies, arguments and 'I'm hungry' comments (despite the fact that they were just leaving a restaurant - on a full stomach).

As we pulled into our driveway the baby was screaming her little lungs off.  My boobs were on the point of explosion and my anxiety level was through the roof. "We are minutes away from feed time my little bird", I pictured myself running indoors, stripping off and clipping on my dear old Breast Friend.

Just then I noticed the other car in our driveway.  Friends. Getting out of the car now.  The mocking friends we'd holidayed with in France.  The exact friends who were so apt at feeding, one of those lucky cows who had no difficulty what so ever feeding.  She could even strap on her baby in a papoose and wander round chatting at parties with a cocktail in one hand and a canape in the other, whilst the baby noshed happily away at her boob. 

That was it.  The breaking point.  Where I felt I just couldn't cope any more.  The tears fell.  Actually some of them got stuck in the lines of snot that came pouring out of my face.   I was a wet and snotty emotional wreck, with burning hot boobs.  I refused to get out of the car until everyone (except the baby had gone away).   So heads hung, they all trooped off in the direction of the park.

That evening I apologised to the friends.  They'd come bearing gifts, good wishes and even better - my favourite lemon drizzle cake.  Home-made and absolutely delicious.  I fed the little one with a rock hard ball of a tit and fell asleep exhausted, as did she.   When I woke, my bed was drenched in sweat, I could barely move my limbs and my busta was burning hotter than ever.   Mastitis.  Dear old mastitis.  The nasty bitch.  Just when you think you can't struggle with breast feeding any more, mother nature knocks you out with one final left hook.  Mother nature?   Surely something like this wouldn't come from one of the sisters?  It has to be Father nature, this one.

I would never wish mastitis on my worst enemy.  It's the closest I've felt to death.  Over the phone the doctor diagnosed me and said a prescription for antibiotics would be waiting for me first thing in the morning.  My mum was going to collect it, as I physically couldn't get out of bed.  That night Ben slept in with the baby and I was told to rest.  I was so weak and cold that I couldn't call out for help to put extra blankets on.  It took me 2 hours to summon up the strength to crawl to pull up the quilt from the bottom of the bed. 

My Breast Friend was redundant after that as I could never really work up the quantity of milk back into my mammies that my little girl needed so I abandoned the boob altogether.  I don't mean I left it behind in Tesco car park and drove off, I just left them both in my bra to shrink down and down to the floppy spaniel's ears they are today.  Instead the kitchen surfaces became cluttered with sterilizers and bottles and formula milk cartons and my doctor diagnosed me with a hefty dose of post-natal depression and so here I am.  I've enjoyed a warped sense of reality ever since.  I've always been a little odd, eccentric some might say batty, but the great thing about selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors... is you don't really give a shit either. 

I have found my new best friend...

I LOVE this woman.  What a fabulous place the world would be if we all Prancercised.  I urge you to try it today...

Blowing the lid on parenthood

I'm actually just a nice person just struggling through life, just like everyone else.  In fact, I'm no ungrateful madam, I appreciate that I have much more than many others.  I am indeed privileged, by my  'class', by my colour, even where I was born.  In the lottery of life, I pulled out 4 of the winning 6 numbers.  Pretty good.

The trouble is by simply just 'being' I seem to be making a dogs dinner out of most things.  I'm in serious danger of being arrested, ostracised by my own family, shunned at the school gates, fired from my job, black listed on eBay, divorced by my husband and worst of all - kicked out of weight watchers.

It wasn't meant to be like this, at least this isn't how I ever thought I would be.  I thought having children would only enrich my life.  I thought I would be able to shape them, teach them or at the very least dress them.  I thought they would worship and adore me and want to be like me.  I'd be like a mother duck with my cute little ducklings waddling along behind me.

No one really tells you the truth about parenting.  It's like a Secret Club.  It's so appealing to try'n get into the club, but when you do you you are greeted by the knowing look from other parents, the look that says 'Welcome you fool, how long will it be until that smile is wiped off your face and you realise that the only thing holding this club together is our joint despair'.

Parenthood is like being in a London Underground station during the Blitz, except instead of fleeing from the danger of bouncing bombs,  you've carried them down there with you in your thousand pound Bugaboo and now you can't get back up the steps.  Your 3 little doodlebugs are whining away in your ears whilst up on street level the childless ones go about their business in blissful ignorance. They are heading off to work having woken up at 8.30 and leisurely showering before wandering out the door.  Not a clue that they are £800-£1000 a month better off for not having to pay for childcare. After work they'll perhaps go to the cinema, or browse in a few shops before heading home to please themselves with another 4 hours of peace and quiet.

But oh the fools, during these wonderful minutes of self pleasing and silence, their mind wanders and they begin to feel lost - if only they had a child to nurture, a little version of themselves who they could play their favourite Beatles tracks to, or take them to see the latest Pixar movie, which is secretly for your own enjoyment.  They begin to fantasize the perfect dream of parenthood.  How nice it would be to buy that cute little mini-me outfit for them, to turn the office into a white washed nursery with just the odd little wooden toy on display.  They'd do things differently, their kids would behave perfectly, just like them.  How could they not?  They certainly wouldn't be like their brother or sister's kids, who get spoilt with so many toys, most of which is plastic tat which has over taken their home. The clueless helpless childless ones imagine feeding their children on organic home grown vegetables, no packets of quavers passed to the backseat of the stinking cess pit of a car for them. Tut.

An oh how that thought grows and creeps like a vine filling every crevice until at last, here they are in the Secret Club.   Now it's time to give them that knowing look....