23 Jul 2013

Happiness is a warm puppy

In my little country town, I've noticed several mums at the school gates are showing off their puppies.  And I'm not talking bazookas, lady lumps or jubblies.  It would be most entertaining if they did, but sadly I don't think that would happen. 

There have been 4 new dogs in as many weeks.  They get far more attention and cooing than the newborn babies.  What's going on?  Surely they couldn't be a fashion accessory?  The new Orla Kiely scarf perhaps?  In the UK we've seen the cast of Towie, the cast of Made in Chelsea, Pixie Geldoff, Kelly Brook, Billie Piper, Coleen Rooney, all sporting fashion pups.  But somehow I doubt that the average White Company wearing mum of this town wouldn't want to model themselves on Gemma Collins.

No, I think this is a middle aged thing.  A middle aged mum thing to be more precise.  More along the lines of Sharon Osbourne and Oprah.

These mums all have children who are growing up fast.  9 year olds and above.  They have children with their own opinions, with their own agenda on a Saturday and Sunday.  They no longer want to drag round Tescos with mum, they want to hang out at the skate park with their friends, or go round each other's houses and play on the wii.  It's all very natural and all good development towards eventual independence.  But what about the poor mums who are left behind?  I think they're feeling the empty nest syndrome early.  Where's the unconditional love?  It's now developed conditions such as do you give them enough pocket money and enough time on the ipad?

I think these puppy clutching mums aren't so barking after all.  Dogs sound far more appealing than growing kids and here's why...

1.   Dogs want to be with you as often as possible, not with their friends.
2.   Dogs don't want to sit on the computer all day.
3.   Dogs aren't too old to be cuddled and never too old to sit on your lap.
4.   Dogs don't argue back.
5.   Dogs are so excited to see you when you come home from work.
6.   Dogs don't need clothing, or the latest trainers.
7.   Dogs will do anything to please you.
8.   A well trained dog will obey all your commands.
9.   Dogs will eat whatever you put in front of them.
10. Dogs don't care how bad you look and aren't embarrassed to be seen with you.

As wise as he is beautiful, Johnny Depp was once said "The only creatures that are evolved enough to convey pure love are dogs and infants".

So, am I going to get a cute little puppy to love and worship me back?  Am I hell, I've had enough picking poo off the floor for one life time, thanks.

17 Jul 2013

The anxiety of choice

I've got a sicky feeling in my stomach today and an anxious knot deep inside my chest.  I've had my regular SRI Citalopram dose this morning, but it doesn't seem to be helping today.  Last night's conversation with my husband is weighing heavily on my mind, body and soul.  This is how it went:

"OK Tess, are you concentrating because I'm going to show you how to use the new smart telly" announces Ben.  Yes we have finally entered the 21st century and bought a 40inch, flat screen, HD smart tv.

"Isn't it just the same as the old one but a bigger picture?" I inquire naively.

"Well that's what I thought" says Ben, "but actually it's much better than that, we've got 4OD, BBC iplayer and loads of apps.  We've got a movie app with thousands of films to watch.  We can almost get rid of Sky Plus now because we've got a giant library of films, tv series, catch up........."  I stop listening and my heart starts to sink as he taps away at the remote control which is bringing up page after page of viewing material.

"But all I need is Sky Plus, so I can continue watching my recordings of Mad Men and One Born Every Minute" I objected.

"Well you can still watch those, but you can also watch whole series of other things like Dexter and 24 Hours in A&E, Come Dine With Me and there's thousands of movies organised by genre." enthused Dan as if all his dreams have come true.  I however began to pale.  Normal people would be delighted by this wealth of choice but I find it over whelming.  I suffer from choice paralysis and have to avoid certain cafes and coffee shops that demand too many decisions.  "Just a normal coffee" I like to order in Starbucks to the bemused glare of the Batista.  Or if I'm in a cafe I find it's quite reasonable to ask for 'A tuna salad please'.  But no, those days of simplicity are gone.  What follows is a long complicated list of choices which leaves me cold.

'Cos, rocket or baby leaves?'
'Uh, leaves'
'Cous cous, pasta, quinoa or Bulgar wheat or rice?'
'Oh, er, the first one'
'And which three things off the board?' says the cafe lady waving her arm towards a blackboard that is literally covered in lists of vegetables, shoots, nuts, dried fruits, egg, capers....  With a blur of white chalk in front of me and a long hungry queue behind me, I read out the first three off the list.
'And which two seeds?' continues the cafe lady.  This is getting unbearable.  I go blank.  I can't think of a single seed.   It's like I'm in the final round of Family Fortunes so to avoid blurting out a random sub conscious object, like 'sperm' I say 'No seeds, thanks'.  But the torture isn't over yet.
'And dressing?'
'Yes please'
'You choose' which is met with an 'How dare you ask me, that's not part of my job' stare.  And finally, thank the Lord,
'Tossed or drizzed?'
'TOSSED!' I cry with relief.  But by now I feel like screaming and what's worse I've ended up with a hideous mish-mash of pig swill.  I'm never going to enjoy it now.

Back in the sitting room .... the truth dawns on me.   TV viewing is one of the very few areas in my life where I can be in control.  I like having a list of shows to 'get through' but even better deleting them off the Sky planner once viewed.  Tick.  Done.  That's another thing dealt with, thank you very much.  Ooh the sweet satisfaction of it all.  My memory planner page is 91% free and I've been working on getting that figure up for a few weeks now.  All that's left are a couple of Modern Families and a Britain's Next Top Model, one day I could be 100% free.  If I can cram those in whilst Ben's at football then I WILL BE IN FULL CONTROL OF MY LIFE.  Imagine the joy, the freedom, the sense of accomplishment.  But not now, thanks to the smart bastard tv.

"We'll never get though the endless lists of stuff, Ben.  There's not enough free time in life to view all that.  By the time the kids are in bed and we've made and eaten dinner, there's only about an hour and half left before bedtime.  And even if we try to get through it all, they'll just keep adding new stuff" I despair.

'But the idea isn't to watch everything.  It's a library.  It's a choice."

"I can't cope with it all.  Yesterday I conditioned my hair twice just so I could finish the bottle off and throw it away.  It gave me a good feeling to throw something out that was used, finished, spent."

'But now you need to buy another bottle of conditioner.  You're not making any sense' retorted Ben frustratedly.  "We can't get the old telly back now.  I've taken it down the tip'.    Ben made it clear taht the conversation was over, so I sloped off to read my book in bed whilst he stayed downstairs with the mean machine.  When he came up to bed an hour later I asked,

'Well, what did you watch?'

'I couldn't decide' confessed Ben, 'It took me all this time to flick through all the apps.'

9 Jul 2013

The Dinner Party Catastrophe

A bloke Ben plays football with invited us both to dinner, along with another couple called Maz and Adrian who we'd never met before.  After the evening's events I don't think we'll be seeing them ever again either.

I really dislike dinner parties.  No, I hate them. They're too formal and they make me feel very uncomfortable.  I would prefer to have my tea at home and then meet the couples down the pub for a few drinks, a far more relaxed environment where conversation could flow naturally and you can wander around the pub at will, disappearing off to the loo if you get stuck in a boring conversation.   I just don't know how to behave at other people's dinner tables.  I always feel like I'm pinned to the chair with a spotlight on me (imagine the set of Mastermind).  Something as simple as how to hold cutlery becomes an stressful ordeal, and just how far down the stem of a wine glass should you hold without it becoming precariously top heavy?  Do my nails look clean?  Am I chewing too loudly?  This amount of social etiquette does not equal fun for me.  Eating is one of life's greatest pleasures - spoilt by dinner parties.

Saturday's dinner did not start well.  First I fell off the side of my shoe.  I really can't walk in high heels.  Or stand, it turns out.  As I stumbled a big splash of red wine sloshed all over the pristine white tiled floor.  To add to my dismay, moments later their King Charles Spaniel came padding in and immediately jumped up at my dress and started sniffing my crotch.  I had to nudge her away with my knee whilst pretending to be delighted to see her.  The stupid snatch sniffing mutt.  Our host Olivia whisked the dog up into her arms, from where she started trying to lick me.  "She's so cute" I fakely enthused and planted a big kiss on top of her soft white head.  A big red lipstick kiss.  A big red lipstick kiss on her snowy white furry head.   That would not come off, no matter how much I tried to rub it.  I stained the dog with my lipstick.  And then I smeared it all over her head whilst trying to get it off.  Olivia stiffly laughed the incident off, but I could see that she was not happy.  I was mortified.

The now red headed dog safely shut into the conservatory, we took our places at the table.  The conversation that usually crops up first on a night out in my world, is who is looking after your kids, how much are you shelling out per hour and let's get to the bar quickly as time's-a-ticking.  Both Maz and Adrian and our hosts Jeremy and Olivia both have live in nannies.  Olivia explained that whilst they were living in Hong Kong, they had a Filipino helper who lived in a room the size of a toilet and was paid £5 a week to cook, clean, shop and look after their children.  They got so used to her help that they simple couldn't imagine life without live-in help now.  So they have Marzena, a Polish girl.   "She's so wonderful that we can come in from work and say hello and goodnight to the children then disappear out again to have a coffee together and a catch up together." bragged Jeremy.   Meanwhile, the poor cow Marzena makes the kids' tea, washes them and gets them into bed.  Then she makes dinner for the adults and disappears out the way to her room as soon as they return to eat it.  I don't get this style of parenting.  Why bother having children?  Not even Mary Poppins did all that.  Not to mention poor exploited Marzena, who probably has family of her own to look after in Poland who she'd been forced to leave with a relative so she could look after some idiot, selfish, lazy-arsed British woman's kids.

Then to top it all off, Maz and Adrian agreed that they couldn't do a thing without their Czech live-in nanny Pippa.  Horror of horrors they revealed that Pippa was expecting her own baby with her English boyfriend.  They said that they were so desperate not to lose Pippa, that they'd hired her her own nanny!  THE NANNY WAS GETTING HER OWN NANNY!  Mental.  Completely barking mad, these people live in a crazy arsed world.

The fantastic thing about having a baby sitter who has her own home to go to, is you have a fabulous excuse to leave the party early.