It takes a village …


… to raise a child, or so they say. It’s an African saying, according to good ole Wikipedia, and usually evokes images of benevolent pie-baking granny types, cheek-chucking aplenty, neighbourly interest and the communal good. But what if your village is …da da daaaaaah … the village of the damned?

Yes, indeed. What if the advice is unwelcome, the comment judgemental, the interest intrusive? What then? Cue the spooky violins as camera zooms in on pregnant woman clutching small child by hand as she tries to outrun malevolent hoardes of shuffling zombies brandishing copies of ‘The Contented Little Baby’ and attempting to thrust poisoned dummies in her child’s mouth.

All right, all right. So I got a bit carried away. But you must know what I mean. It’s all those strangers stroking your pregnant tum without invitation. It’s the scowls you get if you’re spotted drinking a glass of wine. It’s being told that you should have started solids by now! It’s the tutting that your child is too warmly dressed – or not dressed warmly enough (cos it’s always one or the other, sometimes both). It’s the man in the queue in M’n’S who told me, robustly, that I should bite my baby son good and hard because he’d just bitten his twin sister. ‘Go on! Hurry up and do it now! Quick or he won’t understand. Do it so it hurts, mind!’

I’m pretty sure you all know what I’m talking about, but if you want to read a truly brilliant post on the subject, let me direct you towards my good friend Mom-101 for her take on The Village.

And then I’d like to hear your experiences of this kind of thing and, more importantly, your comebacks. (Lurkers, delurk! Yes, that’s you I’m talking to!) Cos, y’know, I never did think of the right thing to say to that stupid biting man. Maybe that makes me the village idiot…

I have some advice for Jeremy Paxman

This would be the scene round at my place except, instead of ‘Did you threaten to over-rule him, Mr Howard?’, it would be, ‘Have you done your Geography homework, Oh Beloved Son?’

I think Paxo should have threatened NOT to let Howard go on the computer until he gave a satisfactory answer. That’s what I did.

Oh – I think the book might be back in the shops now (see below). I’d be very obliged if you’d go in and ask (even if you’re foolish enough not to buy one), then report back to me!

Belly art! WTF?

How about this for the woman who has everything? You can buy a kit to make a cast of your pregnant tum as a souvenir of the experience. When I heard about this, my first thought was, ‘Messy!’. My second was, ‘I wonder how long it takes, cos what would you do if you needed a wee while it was drying?’. My third was, ‘Well, there’s no way you’d catch me doing that, but there again, you’d never catch me having bronze casts made of my children’s first shoes either. Each to his/her own’.

But then I actually saw this.

Now, say you went to visit someone and this was hanging on the wall. Would you know where to look? You’d have to try not to stare. But as the same time, you wouldn’t want to look as if you weren’t looking. Frankly, nothing in your education would prepare you for it, would it? And say your hosts offered you a tour of the house? I’d be worried about what else was lying in wait for me.

If you think that’s mad, though, take a look at these:

They’re kits you can buy, rather along the lines of face painting, to bedeck your bump. At first glance, I thought the one with the henna tattoo was a nasty case of stretchmarks. But I mean, honestly! Could you be arsed? Could you reach? And if someone else had to do it for you, wouldn’t it tickle?

It’s all part of the trend for ‘In Yer Face Pregnancy’ which I think I may just explore in greater detail any time soon. Not sure where it’ll take me, but I expect the words: Demi, Vanity Fair and Lycra will come into it.

Why the internet is …


I’m sure it won’t have escaped your notice that the internet is pants at the moment. Blogger is pants. E-mail is pants. Google is pants. Sitemeter is enormous pants. Why is this, I ask myself, in a luddite kind of a way? Well, perhaps it’s the awful weather. Or sunspots. Or global warming. Or even aliens messing with our electrical thingy wave stuff. (I’m an expert, you can tell.)

Personally, think it’s the spam.

Whatever the reason, there’s an awful dystopian, fin-de-siecle, apocalyptic, apres-moi-le-deluge (add your own adjective here) kind of a feel to it.

I gaze, dull-eyed and uncomprehending at my screen as error message after error message after virus warning appears, and behind it all the steady trickle of emails offering me jobs in HR in Greece, low-rate mortagage deals, Russian brides – mine for the asking, stock-market tips that will guarantee my future wealth, cut-price meds from Canada.

Go away, all of you and never darken my inbox again!

For a positive spin on this I turn, as ever, to Yaxlich. What lovely manners that boy has!

Let them eat cake!


Now, Jane Asher is known as a particularly nice, straight-forward, feet-on-the-ground kind of woman. People I know who’ve met her all say so. But she didn’t half raise the bar as far as cake making goes! Remember the days when a round sponge sandwich with jam in the middle and white icing on the top was perfect acceptable? Now – thanks to her – replicas of the Parthenon in Royal icing have become the norm. Which is bad news for a domestic dunderhead like me.

I know I seem fixated on cake – and not in a good way – but when you’ve had as many cake-related disasters as I have, well it becomes a touchy subject. But I’ve learned to live within my limitations. Since everything I bake turns out heavy, I stick with heavy – banana bread, carrot cake, flapjack, brownies. If I attempted a Victoria sponge, it would still come out like flapjack. And it was in this spirit of realism – albeit misguided – that I thought I’d make brownies and ice them like dominoes so I could lay them down the centre of the table at the twins’ 6th birthday party, kind of like a dominoes game.

What was I thinking? Imagine how long the table was to accomodate 30 kids. Estimate how many brownies I had to make. Marvel at how long that took (not to mention icing the blasted things). Guess what time I got to bed that night. Finally – how long do you think it took for the whole conceit to be dismantled?

Jane Asher – grrrrrr!

Come on – ‘fess up to your shameful, over-the-top efforts that you wish you’d never started.

One does one’s duty … or at least 60% of it


There I was, all relaxed, virtual elbows on Stuart’s lovely kitchen table, munching on a bacon sarnie, minding my own business and just enjoying the craic (in the nicest possible way) when he up and tagged me with a meme! Just like that!

Actually, to be fair, I wasn’t minding my own business at all. More like butting in at every opportunity. But five more things not many people know about me. FIVE? I had enough trouble coming up with the first lot. Frankly, neither of me are that interesting. So I went on bended knee to Brother Moobs, hoping for a plenary indulgence, but he wasn’t having any of it. God! That man can be harsh! So I’m offering a compromise. Three new facts plus a link back to the last lot. Can’t say fairer than that, can !? (Which reminds me of a joke, but I’ll tell you that later.)

So here we go. As they (almost) say in the House of Commons, I refer my Right Honourable friends to my previous reply. And in addition:

  • One of me once made scrambled eggs for Viola, Duchess of Westminster.
  • Neither of me have ever eaten Kentucky Fried Chicken.
  • The BBC2 six-week series, The Madness of Modern Families is starting on Tuesday 16th at 8.30. Okay – some people may know that already. But I bet they don’t know that one of me appears in the show, plus one of me’s husband and two of me’s friends!

Oooh! I think that almost makes five. If you space them all out and wrinkle your eyes up a bit. Not as interesting as yours, Stuart, I’m afraid. But to make up for it, I’ll tell you that joke now.

‘Doctor! Doctor! I can’t say “f”, “th” or “t”!

‘You can’t say fairer than that, then.’

Sorry