Monday, January 22, 2007

Ballet / Twat.

Saturday morning. An unreasonably early hour.

I am sitting in the draughty ante-room of a Church of England–owned Village Hall. From the main hall, behind closed doors, comes the sound of classical music and frantic foot-falls.

It is Favourite Daughter’s ballet class. I am surrounded by a dozen or so Mummies discussing the relative merits of various forms of child discipline. And the general usefulness –or otherwise- of Men.

I have opted-out of this debate, and immerse myself in my newspaper.

An opinion-piece suggests that a contestant on a recent reality show is in fact not racist, but is merely stupid. So that is O.K. then. The inference is that only university-educated middle-class wankers actually know how to be properly racist, and that anyone else who has a crack at it are not privileged enough to do it right. What with racism and stupidity being mutually exclusive and that.

Fucking hippies. With some irritation I cast my newspaper to one side and look about me.

I notice that there is another Man in the room, about my age. He does not look happy, and after a moment leaves the room to –I assume- get something from his car.

From the main hall I hear ‘Oooh-be-doo, I want to be like you-hoo-hoo’. For the two-dozenth time I try and recall a National Ballet production of the Jungle Book. I cannot. But tap my foot anyway.

The Man returns, brandishing a Man Bag.

Fucking hell, I think.

He unzips it and produces a laptop-computer. Oh. It wasn’t a Man Bag. It was a Laptop Bag. Is that better or worse?

Powering-on said laptop, he begins to earnestly tap away. Occasionally glancing around to make sure everyone can see that he owns an expensive computer, and is a person of such importance that he needs to use it now. There is a whole forty minutes until the end of his daughter’s ballet class. Valuable time. Time a gentleman of his stature cannot waste.

I try and ignore this Master of the – well, not Universe but perhaps Village Parish – but am consumed with curiosity. What with not being able to read the newspaper because it makes me cross and not being able to partake in Mummy conversation of this variety-

Random Mummy: ….And do you know, the odd occasion Brian DOES do the washing-up, he does it so badly I have to spend half-an-hour yelling at him afterwards pointing-out all the things he’s done wrong. I mean, I could do it MYSELF in that amount of time!

-for obvious reasons.

Perhaps he’s checking some important emails, I think to myself. Really time-sensitive ones. (Fucking hell. ‘Time Sensitive’. Even being near this man is turning me into a cunt.) I mean, really urgent ones.

I examine his laptop for evidence of one of those PCMCIA GPRS cards. Nothing. Upon reflection, I find it unlikely that this Village Hall is a Wi-Fi hotspot. They don’t have heating for goodness sake. Besides, the owners have a direct line to God. An internet-connection without-the-wires would surely be a secondary consideration.

Ruling-out any online activity, I can only assume that Master of the Village Parish is so dreadfully important that he is actually working on a Saturday and is preparing some sort of PowerPoint presentation for a meeting he has this afternoon.

Yes. That must be it. Blimey. And he finds the time to squeeze-in taking his daughter to her ballet class. What a gent.

I shift my chair a little, so as to better shower this man with my gaze of new-found admiration. From my new vantage point I can actually see the screen of his computer.

I should have known.


Fuck me, I think. Do you know how much a pack of cards costs? Jesus, I knew I was going to have a bit of time on my hands so I bought a newspaper. It cost £1.40.

No-one gives a tepid shit about you or your fucking WANKY two-grand computer you hopeless hopeless FUCK. I myself possess a laptop-computer. And do you know what? I have never felt the need to use it in a public place. Do you know why? Because I am not a CUNT. If a person were to pull out their cock and begin vigorous rubbing their wilted miniscule genitalia they would be arrested before they had chance to lovelessly dribble their watery grey useless spunk down the front of their Next casual slacks. And yet TWATS like you get to walk free.

I rather miss Enchanted Dad. He was nowhere near as tiresome as this gentleman.

Saturday, January 20, 2007


I am At Work. Some time ago.

I have The Flu.

The phone rings. I look about for a bit. No-one leaps to answer it. Bugger.

Me: Support.

Bonkers Woman: Windows is broken.

Me: [Pause]. How can I help?

BW: I’ve told you. It’s broken.

Me: I’m afraid I’ll need a little more than that. What EXACTLY has happened?

BW: Well it doesn’t work obviously. Why do you think I’m calling? Don’t you know? YOU put it on.

Me: Well, not me perso- [SIGH]. What is it you are trying to do?

BW: I have been writing a letter. I have printed it. And now I just want THIS to go away.

Me: You mean Word. You want to shut it down.

BW: Isn’t that what I just said? You must pay attention young man. How much do I pay you?

Me: Pay me? Nothi-[sigh]. Again. Tell me EXACTLY what is happening.

BW: Well. I go to close it. Click on the thing to close it. A box I don’t want comes up. I don’t want it so I click Cancel and around we go. This has taken half my day. It doesn’t work. This computer. With your Windows thing.

Me: [Long pause. I try and think about nice things. Like me not actually inventing Word and not being held personally responsible for its quirks.] You are trying to close a Word document?

BW: Well obviously. Good God young man, do you know what you’re doing?

Me: Mmmmm. When you click on the cross to close the application, do you then get a small window asking you if you want to save and giving you the options of ‘yes’, ‘no’ or ‘cancel’?

BW: Obviously. Can I speak to your supervisor?

Me: Mmmmmmmm. One moment. Do you keep clicking ‘cancel’?

BW: Well of course. WHAT ELSE WOULD I DO?

Me: Have you saved it?

MW: Do not take me for an idiot.



MW: Mmmm. It seems to have fixed itself. Goodbye.

The Flu is very pressing, and I make my excuses. I go to the Chemists.

Me: I have The Flu. I require your best medicine.

Fat Chemist Woman: You don’t have the flu.

Me: [Taken aback] I bloody do.

FCW: Do you have a fever?

Me: Well. I’m quite hot.

FCW: You’ve got a jumper on. No wonder.

Me: Look. I’m not well. And I’ve not had much sleep. I just want to get through the day. I need some medicine. What have you got for The Flu?

FCW: Paracetemol.

Me: Is that a joke?

FW: The joke is your pretend illness. You are just like my husband. You’re about as ill as I am.

Me: Look…

FCW: Do you want the pills or not?

I go back to my office.

With my pills.

She was fired a month later.


Thursday, January 18, 2007


I am at work.

Having a cigarette with a man I have known for one week. And have instantly liked. This is not an everyday experience for me.

Instantly Likeable Man examines his cigarette.

ILM: You know, you can accidentally start a fire without even thinking about it.

Me: Mmmm.

ILM: I mean. If I were to pop into the kitchen leaving a lit cigarette in the sitting-room, the house would instantly burst into flames.

Me: Mmmmm.

ILM: Now. On the other hand. If you want to intentionally start a fire …..

Me: Mmmmmm.

ILM: It takes bloody HOURS.

Me: Mmmmmm.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

I Am Not The King Of Pop.

New Years Day.

I am a bit tired. During a New Years Eve spent babysitting in complete sobriety, I am struck with an attack of insomnia so acute that I have only had two hours sleep out of thirty-six waking hours and feel significantly worse than I would have had I been on the lash.

It is late morning. Favourite Son appears to be marginally more exhausted than I but has so far resisted any attempt to lull his 20-month old brain to sleep for his mid-day nap. He still requires this nap.

I recall his infant months, when I was a student-type and at home a lot. We would retire to bed at about eleven-ish and he would drink his bottle with head resting in the crook of my arm. I would feel his tiny heartbeat at the side of my chest slow, and listen to his breathing match mine as he fell asleep with his infant skin pressed against my own not-quite-so-infant flesh. I ‘occasionally’ nodded-off myself.

It was quite nice. And was ALWAYS successful.

I know, I think. We’ll give that a try now. He’s knackered and God knows we both need the sleep.

As I lay him – clad only in nappy – in the centre of the double bed, bottle in mouth, he looks delighted.

Favourite Son: [Of course this is all a guess, but I’m fairly sure I’m right] Come on. This is the fucking life. This has got to be ten times bigger than my bed. Here comes the duvet. Superb. Christ I can barely breath it’s so heavy. I am over the moon. I might actually sleep now.

I remove jeans and shirt and begin to clamper in bed next to him. He gives me a weird look I have never seen before.

FS: What the fu-

I slip my arm behind his neck and pull him close to me, pulling the duvet over both of us. His eyes simultaneously display confusion and panic.

FS: What sort of fuckery is this? Micheal twatting Jackson. I don’t cocking think so.

He does several 360 degree rolls, falls off the bed and crashes to the floor.

I peer down at him, reflexes numbed by lack of sleep.

He is lying on the floor, drinking his milk and staring at me fiercely.

FS: I would rather lie, without my pyjamas, on the floor, on top of a framed picture that for some reason is decorating the floor rather than the wall, and have my nap right here than get involved in any of your touchy-feely mullarky my good man. Gentlemen do not touch each other without their shirts on. They just don’t. For God’s sake man I’m not a child anymore. I’m nearly two now. I’m closing my eyes and when I open them I expect you to be gone.

I sheepishly scoop him up and put him in his own room. And then get dressed, resigning myself to the weird all-over-body-wobble of the proper non-sleeper.

Some time ago I mentioned the day I realised he had ceased being a baby and had become a little boy.

I hadn’t realised it was a little thirteen-year-old boy.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Hell's Kitchen

The funniest thing about the whole incident was the frying pan.

I walk into my local off-licence. The one conveniently located at the end of my street, one-minute and thirty-seconds walk away from my front door. I am feeling a bit twitchy.

Troll Woman behind the counter looks rather excited.

Me: [Gesturing at the shelves behind Troll Woman] Could I have that small bottle of bourbon please?

Troll Woman: Eee. Bit of excitement down your street. Someone telt us there’s Fire Engines and that.

Me: Yes. I know. Could I please have that small bottle of bourbon? Please.

TW: Du ya knaw whese hoose it was? The fire?

Me: Yes I do. Could I pretty please have that small bottle of bourbon?

TW: Aye. Whese then?

Me: What?

TW: Whese hoose is on fire?

Me: Mine.

TW: Eh?

Me: It’s out now. Could I please have that small bottle of bourbon? Please.

TW: Aye. You’re joking.

She notices the soot on my hands.

TW: [Wide-eyed] Everyone all reet? What aboot the bairns?

Me: Didn’t even wake. Could I please have that small bottle of bourbon?

TW: Aye. What happened?

Me: Look, could I just pleas- [sigh] I accidentally set the kitchen alight.

TW: [Suddenly strangely maternal] Ye daft bugga. [With complete lack of sympathy] Good start to the New Year. Bit of excitement for yu thun?

Yes well. There was nothing on television. Look. Could I please just have that small bottle of bourbon?

TW: Aye.

One-minute and thirty-seconds later I return to my home. I notice that although the firemen had left big boot-prints on the steps up to my front door, they had had the decency to wipe them on the way in and had not tracked any dirt into the front room.

There may have been lives at stake, but good manners cost nothing.

I glance at the new smoke alarm that the fire crew fitted whilst they were here and then pour myself a large drink. I pace about in a distracted manner for a while.

After a minute or two I brace myself. I walk back into the kitchen and survey the damage. It is then that I notice the frying pan.

Clean on the draining board.

After regarding the flames shooting up the wall, after giving instructions for the emergency services to be called, after turning the electric cooker off at the power point on the wall so the situation would not worsen, after sealing the door of the kitchen with me inside so the flames would not reach the rest of my house and my sleeping children, after – stupidly - tackling the fire myself and briefly making it worse, I did this:

Amid thick black smoke and the still-glowing embers of a potentially catastrophic kitchen-fire, I calmly washed a dirty frying pan that was languishing next to the sink without even realising I was doing it. So that the soon-to-arrive fire crew would not think we were slobs.

I put the pan back in the cupboard.

I look again at the smoke damage. Tired Mam joins me. She looks around.

Tired Mam: I’d only just cleaned-up in here.
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