The Remains of the Day

All over for another year. I have a house littered with crumpled wrapping paper, truly obscene amounts of chocolate, approximately 5 pounds of (slightly overdone) turkey, and a liberal scattering of plastic play-food. I am now in a position to inform you that a chunk of pretend cheddar taken hard in the sole of the foot is hard and bitter festive agony. I also have a broken laptop (I expect you heard my heartbroken wails from your house) and utterly non-performing email, so my Christmas has been singularly internet-free; I have just fought my way past towering heaps of malevolently sharp junk in order to locate the old and unreliable PC in the cold office.

Harry had a marvellous Christmas, and is highly delighted with both his kitchen and his playhouse. John also seemed to enjoy himself, and has spent several days scoffing and drinking inordinately.

 T.S. Eliot

Journey of the Magi

A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times when we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities dirty and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wineskins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

Say Hello & Wave Goodbye

Half of me is thinking ‘ Thank crunchie it’s Friday. I feel significantly better now, no doubt due to the good vibes coming down the internet. Lets get the week of the toxic tissues over with.’

The other half is thinking ‘Shit! I’ve lost 5 days just sat here dribbling! And this cough can fuck off already!’

I am now officially Behind With Christmas. Which would be fine if it were just us, but gathering to trough at HFF Mansions on  Christmas day will be: Self, Hubby & Toddler, My Mum & Dad, John’s Mum & Dad, John’s sister & husband, their two children, and (possibly) the Delightful Doctors Next Door. None of whom I feel a desperate desire to impress, but I do need to put in some serious spadework between now and Wednesday (in the case of the tissues littering the bedroom floor: possibly literally), as I have a thing about having a clean and tidy house on Christmas Eve.

Anyway, sod all that. I need to tell you about the best and loveliest thing that has happened all week. Harry and I were watching TV in bed at 6.30am this morning when Hubby returned with hot drinks.

Hubby: “Hello!”

Harry: “Hello!”

Clear as daylight and totally distinct. Of course, he wouldn’t say it again. I never got around to telling you that back on the 2nd December I was carrying him out of a room containing the Piddle, and they all chorused “Bye-Bye!” and waved.

I replied “Bye-Bye!” and waved.

Harry said “Bye-Bye!” and waved.

I think the stunned silence and the rousing cheer that followed – the Piddle knew of his speech issues – may have alarmed him, because he’s not said Bye again, either, and I was beginning to think we had all imagined it. But no! He speaks! In fact, it’s quite possible he said ‘Cake!’ during the Bliss coffee morning in November, (mostly because everyone told us he did!) but we didn’t hear him, so it totally didn’t count. I haven’t had 16 months off work in order to miss his first bloody word!

And I really, really must stop saying fuck. I know very well he’s listening now, and it’s only a matter of time before he parrots me. But I can’t give up bugger. I just can’t. But I’m going to try hard in the New Year to eliminate audible fucks. So to speak.

Anyhoo, the lovely Katie tagged me for the 99 things wotsit, so here it is. As per usual, do have a go if you like.  And apologies again to Aphra, who tagged me absolutely months ago, and I have yet to compile the post in question. Been planning a vacation potentially at www.cruiseoffers.co.uk to knock out one of my 99 right now. Mea culpa.

1. Started my own blog – If I lie and say no, will it damage my credibility for the rest of it?
2. Slept under the stars –  Yes. Due to monstrous transient poverty, I slept rough on a bench in New York – in company with a mildly lecherous Aussie in similar straits, as I recall. It was a funny old night. We were on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, and about 4am a peculiar chap came along and stood leaning on the rail a few yards off, looking over the river. Fair enough, I thought: it’s a famous view. And then he started having a wank. I was all for quietly pretending I hadn’t noticed, but my Australian friend was having none of it. “He’s having a what? A WANK? Hey! Hey, mate! You having a wank?”  Umm. Not any more, I don’t think.
3. Played in a band – OMG, I wish. Have played the guitar for 22 years, and I’m still Kum Ba Yah standard. Worse!
4. Visited Hawaii – No.
5. Watched a meteor shower – Yep, lots. Also, Hubby is an astronomy geek.
6. Given more than I can afford to charity – Any charity donation is technically more than I can afford, and it has been that way on and off for years.
7. Been to Disneyland/world – No. I’m saving that particular nightmarish treat for when child is older. I heartily dislike Mickey Mouse.
8. Climbed a mountain – under my own steam? Alas, no. By horseback and donkey, ahem!, yes.
9. Held a praying mantis – I want to say yes, but I can’t remember when.
10. Sung a solo – My solicitors advise against.
11. Bungee jumped – Only lottery-level financial inducement would work.
12. Visited Paris – Driven through it, but never stopped. Hubby has taken other women there, though…
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea – I get seasick on damp grass.
14. Taught myself an art from scratch – I tend to dabble at every known handicraft at least once. Currently trying to woodcut a house sign. By ‘currently’, I mean ‘this decade’
15. Adopted a child – no.
16. Had food poisoning – probably. I’ve certainly done enough groaning.
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty – God, no. The window at the top is tiny. I flew around it instead, much nicer.
18. Grown my own vegetables – My mother and MIL do, so I steal theirs instead. No point duplicating effort, and we are on sticky solid clay up here.
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France – No. And you’d be hard-pressed to see it elsewhere.
20. Slept on an overnight train – No.
21. Had a pillow fight – Yes. It can hurt when it’s proper goose feather, too!
22. Hitchhiked – Not in this day & age.
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill – once, when I was 16 and serving in the local pub kitchen. I was also off work for 7 weeks following 2nd miscarriage, during which I went away for the weekend (with a snoring mother. Not restful!) but I was a long way off well.
24. Built a snow fort – Yes.
25. Held a lamb – oodles of the little buggers.
26. Gone skinny dipping – No. But I don’t think there was a single Young Farmer’s AGM where Hubby didn’t throw himself naked into the water.
27. Run a marathon – HA HA HA!
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice – No (sob).
29. Seen a total eclipse – No. I was abroad during the last UK one.
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset – Um. Really, is there anyone who hasn’t seen both?
31. Hit a home run – Wossis?!
32. Been on a cruise – see 13.
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person – Yes.
34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors – Don’t quite know where to look.
35. Seen an Amish community –  No.
36. Taught myself a new language – I wander around clutching my phrasebook, generally.
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied – Blimey, no. It’d take millions. But I’m not unhappy about it.
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person – no.
39. Gone rock climbing – Yes.
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David – No. Sigh.
41. Sung karaoke – see 10.
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt – no.
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant – no.
44. Visited Africa – The northern bit. Would love love love to do the safari bit, too.
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight – I have done abroad. Never in the UK, it’s too bloody cold.
46. Been transported in an ambulance – Personally, no. I have driven behind them a distressing number of times though.
47. Had my portrait painted – A couple of times, but only as a child.
48. Gone deep sea fishing – see 13.
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person – Yes. And Katie is spot-on about the security. I saw a nun given a warning… and then her second flash-photography offence actually resulted in her being frogmarched away. I still can’t believe I saw it. A nun being frog-marched out of the Sistine chapel.
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris – No.
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkelling – I have snorkelled, and didn’t much like it. The water was so choppy I kept breathing it, I kept colliding with the precious coral-reef (very much to our mutual damage) I kept walloping other snorkellers with my flippers, and I was terrified that the boat ride back from the reef would be as horrific as the ride out. Lovely fishies though.
52. Kissed in the rain – I expect so.
53. Played in the mud – Enthusiastically.
54. Gone to a drive-in theatre – No.
55. Been in a movie – No.
56. Visited the Great Wall of China – No.
57. Started a business – Not yet.
58. Taken a martial arts class – I’m musing over the body combat class at the local gym. Count?
59. Visited Russia – No.
60. Served at a soup kitchen – No.
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies – Wasn’t a girl scout.
62. Gone whale watching – Despite oft-professed dislike of sailing, yes I have, and it was fabulous. It was off Boston and the catamaran was a lot more stable than everything else I could see in the harbour touting for business, although other people were sick & I wasn’t. Smug.
63. Got flowers for no reason – Buying or receiving? And there is always a reason. Stopping for petrol is a reason. Seeing them at half-price is a reason. If it means ‘Bought flowers just because they look nice’, then yes, all the time. Hubby bought me roses, once, when we first went out. From a florist and everything. Since then I’ve had the odd bunch of garage-specials. I tell myself it’s the thought, really, isn’t it?
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma – My nervous system had a bit of a Tony Hancock moment on my first ever blood donation, and pulled the consciousness plug. I now donate vicariously through Hubby who is a donation STAR and has just had his 25th pint silver award. He has enormous veins, and they usually cry with joy when they see him “Lovely! We’ll get the TRAINEE to have a practice go on you!” Poor man.
65. Gone sky diving – There might not now be enough money left in the post credit-crunch world to bribe me into this.
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp – If I visit Poland, I will make a point of getting there.
67. Bounced a cheque – I blush to report that I have. It was 1993, I was a student, in lots of trouble and debt, and had already used the Wallace and Gromit stickers (blush again) that the cheque for less than two quid (the bank was being evil) had purchased. I contrived to forget about it – except that I never did, and still feel rather guilty about it.
68. Flown in a helicopter – Yes.
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy – Several, lovingly, carefully. Then let Harry at them. Rip rip rip.
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial –  No.
71. Eaten caviar – No, don’t much like fish unless I’m sat in a mediterranean harbour restaurant under an oleander tree on a warm summer night. Then, a nice steak of shark or tuna – nothing bony – would be just divine. I can almost see the little twinkly lights over the other side of the harbour and hear the waves running up the beach. I want to be there so badly I can sense it. But even in fantasy land I’m worried about how the hell Harry would cope with the flight and what about babysitters?!
72. Pieced a quilt – No.
73. Stood in Times Square – Yes.
74. Toured the Everglades – No.
75. Been fired from a job – Disappointingly, No.
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London – Yes.
77. Broken a bone – I think I bust a rib in a mosh pit once. It hurt for weeks.
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle – No. Unless I was being inattentive to roadsigns.
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person – No.
80. Published a book – No.
81. Visited the Vatican – Yes.
82. Bought a brand new car – No.
83. Walked in Jerusalem – No. Or ran, jogged, or hiked.
84. Had my picture in the newspaper – a few times. Never with the moniker ‘WANTED!’ attached though, so it’s fine.
85. Read the entire Bible – not the entire thing, no.
86. Visited the White House – No.
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating – Yes to both, but not the same animal from beginning to end.
88. Had chickenpox – Yes.
89. Saved someone’s life – Only my own.
90. Sat on a jury – Never been picked, and I quite fancy a go.
91. Met someone famous – I once had lunch with Terry Pratchett.  But please don’t ask me to elaborate, in case I am obliged to expose myself as a self-serving half-truther. I am pretty oblivious to celebrities in mufti, and regularly walk past superstar actors in Stratford without noticing until my friends dig me in the ribs. They all drink in the Dirty Duck on Waterside if you’re interested in that sort of thing.
92. Joined a book club – Not my thang.
93. Lost a loved one – A few.
94. Had a baby – Yes, a stunningly nice one.
95. Seen the Alamo in person – Nope.
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake – Nope.
97. Been involved in a law suit – Nope. Bored now.
98. Owned a cell phone – SERIOUSLY?
99. Been stung by a bee No. I’m kind to bees, particularly bumble bees. I am a merciless exterminator of wasps.

House of Pain

The world was a brighter place on Monday morning. Clear sunshine. Birds trilling. Festive cheer. Tra la la. Tis the season, etc.
By Monday afternoon, it was clouding over in the HFF household. A small cloud labelled Ache had perched above Hubby & I.
By Monday evening, the respective storm clouds of Temperature, Every-Muscle-In-My-Entire-Body-Hit-By-A-Car, and Headache had loomed, in an unmistakable here-to-stay fashion.

I didn’t sleep Monday night, because I was 38 degrees+, and mildly hallucinogenic. I also had time to re-discover a fact I had completely forgotten – at least, since the last time my antibodies gave me a roasting. I get appalling bladder urgency with high temperatures. Like, Run, Wifey, Run! Oh….. too late. Mum! Fresh pajamas! Muuuuummmm! Oh… she’s not here, is she? She’s steering clear of our germs. The omnipotence that is a household Mother is now… me.

Hubby spent virtually the entire of Monday night awake, blaming the caffeine content of cough drops – highly remarkable, considering he is virtually a dormouse in human form – meandering from sofa to bed in desultory fashion. Tuesday eventually dawned, and may have been the longest day in history, ever. I don’t remember a single sodding thing about it, apart from dawn-to-dusk CBeebies, and the fact that Harry was becoming distinctly poorly by the afternoon. Tuesday night – last night, so I’m told – began for me at 5.30pm when I announced to my suffering Husband and child that I must seriously either lie down or fall down, and went to bed, taking my splitting headache with me. I was now a proudly simmering 39.5 degrees, and hallucinogenic enough to chew the entire side of my inner cheek off, under the impression it was… food. Or something. I’m not sure.

A carelessly-clonked woodburner door (Grrrrrr!) awoke youngster and scored him an upgrade to our bed, leaving Hubby to seek shivery solace in the spare room at 10pm – down the Pennine Way that is our upstairs corridor, nicely out of earshot. By 10.45, I was woken by the heat coming from the incandescent radiator that was our child. 40.4 degrees.

Panic. Febrile convulsion territory. If Harry has a convulsion, I will never be the same again, God, do you hear me? Strip child down to (dry) nappy. Yell for Hubby. Yell for Hubby again, hurting my pounding head. Yell so bastard loud that the dogs start barking in sympathy. Stick head out into corridor and yammer at top of voice. Twice. Guuurgghhhhggmmmpphh? Wassamarra? CAAAAALPOOOOOL! Hubby arrives dazed, clutching dosing syringe. Child is re-dosed. Sits under ceiling fan with goosebumps all over his poor little body whilst parents (both 39+ and also shivering in the breeze), watch him in worried fashion for the next hour, whilst his temperature gradually drops to low 39s.

Attempt to doze. Child coughs and wakes. Discovers he still feels as horribly ill as when he went to sleep. Screams hoarsely at high-pitch in protest. Lather, rinse, repeat, until 7am.

Another listless, dry-nappied day in front of CBeebies, taking a few – worryingly few – sips of juice. Pops 40.4 again. Trip to GP. Soothed ref: convulsions, apparently either kids are prone to them – 38 degrees is enough to set them off – or they’re not. Child not currently too dehydrated, but we are urged to push fluids if hospital IV is to be avoided. Cue repeated parental proffering of enticingly-arranged satsumas.

I have bowed to the inevitable and cancelled the drink I was meant to be having this evening. I cancelled the Piddle Fancy Dress Christmas Party that I was hosting tomorrow afternoon. I cancelled the curry I was meant to be having tomorrow night. I cancelled the Baby Christmas party we were supposed to attend on Friday afternoon. I am still holding out hopes for other Baby Christmas party at our house next Monday.

The Piddle have COMPLETELY MADE ME CRY and badly exascerbated my already fucking dreadful head, which no drugs are even touching, by positively refusing to let me leave the house to drop my mince-pies, a pass-the-parcel and a secret santa gift to the new venue. Under no circumstances. No. Apparently they have all decided to hold another Christmas party in January, complete with festive fancy dress, so that Harry does not miss out. Cannot tell you how teary this makes me, because I am still 38+ and therefore, silly.

Which brings us to the here and now. Child is in his cot, wailing sleepily every 20 minutes or so, requiring parental patting, juice-offering, temperature-taking, bed-clothes-adjustment, and mummy-boob. Of which there is precious little to be suctioned, currently. There is now a mattress by the side of his cot, as he overheated far too much sleeping with me, even without bedclothes, last night. I would go to bed now, whilst John watches evening TV and does Harry-duty, and try to get some rest, but my head howls in pain when I lie down. There’s a big dude in there with a whacking great lumphammer, and he hates me.

The oxymoronically loveliest part of the hell that has been the last 3 days, is the way that the Mummy-arms, and only the Mummy-arms, can alleviate child’s misery. He is not normally a particularly affectionate child – far too busy clambering into trouble, generally – but he has barely moved from my lap since Tuesday morning. Except, of course, for when I sneezed HUGELY, and frightened him half to death. At which point, the only thing that could quell the roars of overblown febrile terror and the indignant glares shooting in my direction from the corner of the room to which he had scrambled… was the Daddy lap.

I signed up for this. I totally did. The whole baby/motherhood deal. Nursing sick child. Sleepless nights. Gut-churning anxiety. All of it.

Didn’t expect to be ill myself at the time. With ill spouse. Can I have another look at the rules, please?

Vapour Trails

I have neglected you, and I’m highly apologetic. Let me tell you why.

The Christmas cards are all written, with stamps on.

The Christmas pudding is made and steamed, complete with inserted shiny coins. Beware, all ye with loose teeth…which would, in fact, be me.

The Christmas tree has been hubby-hauled downstairs, and wifey-erected.

tree1

The tree is 40 years old – at least – and every year requires increasingly intensive reconstructive surgery with BBQ skewers and sticky tape. It is the tree we had all through my childhood, and when  my mother – who can be a ruthless culler when the fit is on her – chucked it out a few years back, I lovingly rescued it. I also pounced, aghast, on most of the decorations that were also being unsentimentally ejected. The lovely light set was so old (1950s?) that the electrics were a hot bet to ignite the house, so I carefully removed the 20 little glass lanterns and wiggled them gently onto a more modern set.

lights

They do dislodge and fall if given sufficient persuasion, so it’s fortuitous that there’s no-one living here whose newly acquired ambition is to knock seven shades of entertainment out of the new twinkly green thing in the corner.  

It’s probably also a good job that Harry’s eye level is low, because perched wonkily atop the tree is an ancient wifey Christmas childhood nightmare treasure.

robin1    robin2

We can’t seem to capture the underlying macabre quality of this avian horror. It has sat on my Christmas trees for over 30 years, however, so it is staying – despite its mildly disturbing appearance.

Continuing with the tree motif, I have baked some tree decorations with nice shiny bits in the middle – melted boiled sweet, in fact.

biscuit

They taste… exactly like biscuit-and-boiled-sweet when eaten – which is why they are on the tree and not in my belly.

Picking up the belly topic – I am attending the gym, and, now I have sorted my iPod out, not hating it. I actually quite enjoyed the last trip. I have, inexplicably unfortunately, through eating junk, put on two pounds. No-one can get in their own bloody way like I can. I also only went once this week, as the gastro bug is hanging on in there and making itself felt from time to time; the tummy cramps are annoying, but the farts truly are spectacular. Hubby and I are virtually leaving vapour trails, and I can barely make out the TV this evening. Hubby has suffered a relapse today and has actually agreed to visit the GP in the morning.

My bottom was having an unusually quiet day on Wednesday, so I took it to see The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain at the beautifully re-vamped Birmingham Town Hall. Now, before you mock (how very British of me to expect you to mock the ukulele, yet not the farts…) I should perhaps say that I do actually own a banjo. I can’t play it frightfully well at all, mind you, but I do rather like little 4 stringed things. I particularly like to hear a big bunch of them playing Anarchy in the UK, Smells like Teen Spirit, Blue Christmas, Wuthering Heights, and the Theme from Shaft, among delightfully diverse others. The hall acoustics were sublime (not even a hint of twang, merely clearly ringing melodies), the musicians patently consummately talented, the set list highly appealing, and the atmosphere beautifully relaxed and jolly. I had the rare pleasure of a night out (ummm… I think, perhaps 2… or 3? since last Christmas) combined with not having the worry of leaving some poor sap to be screamed at by my child, as John had met my offer to take him to hear ukuleles with a level stare. I struck lucky with his refusal here, as my best friend’s kind-of-almost-sort-of-nearly-I-don’t-quite-know-how-to-describe-it-coz-it’s-complicated chap is not only a wondrously lovely bloke, but also eclectic enough to appreciate weird stuff, and was keen enough to cheerfully put up with me for the evening in exchange for Ukuleles. I thoroughly enjoyed my evening, which doesn’t happen often, and came home raving that I Must Go Out More Often For God’s Sake. And I really should. If I say it often enough, it may just happen.

Taking Harry to Bungo’s Barn the next day for a bit of soft play didn’t really qualify as going out. But it did feature the delightful sound of a child emitting a noise like a steam engine at full pressure when it’s mother finally caved after the umpteenth demand for a leg-up into the cab and inserted a 50p piece into Scoop.

bob_builder

Bless.

To continue with my list of why my evenings have been spent not-blogging excuses: I have spent the last 4 nights wrapping up gifts.

tree

Losing the scissors. Losing the sticky tape. Losing my temper. Losing the end to the sticky tape. Finding the sticky tape, pulling viciously at it, and succeeding only in ripping off a thin streamer of sticky malevolence. I even bought the decent branded stuff – Sellotape, no less! And it’s still shit.

I have made a draught excluder to block off the unholy gust wailing under the living room door. In doing so I was careless with the sewing machine foot, resulting in a shattered needle and a sliced left index finger. The sliced finger meant that constructing my budget festive wreath (with holly liberated from MIL’s garden) was an experience that transcended prickly, as the thin cotton I was using to tie the bastard stuff to the wreath kept finding the cut, from which I had cleverly removed the plaster. Ouchie.

wreath

I have pickled 2 large kilners of onions  (and made onion soup with the outer layers) in a triumph of false economy, due an accidental over-purchase. Lots of people become stressed while hauling a supermarket trolley thrashily occupied by a screaming child down the veg aisle, but only I react by purchasing 3 bags of onions in absent-minded error. Feel free to correct me if you have had an inadvertent vegetable purchase though, I could do with a laugh. As I say, I have pickled them, but very badly, due to the fact that they sat in brine for the 4 days it took me to go out to the supermarket again and buy pickling vinegar. I keep opening the jars and sniffing nervously, whilst John repeatedly enquires with interest if I have ‘eaten one yet?’ Perhaps if we do, it will kill of whatever strain of evil bacteria is currently inhabiting our tummies here at Hairy House. 

And to finish off: here is Harry (16months) wearing a 12-18 month coat that is so enchantingly enormous and furry that it makes him look like a 1980s Russian plutocrat.

harry11harry-21harry-31

Nom nom nom.

Wishlist

Well, the overall consensus seems to be that blogging doesn’t appear to have too many divorces to its discredit. Either spouses are fully consulted, show little or no interest, or the blogger is careful not to offend the blogee, at varying editorial cost to themselves.

So, it’s only me that trit-trots over the collection of hairy hammers that form the Hubby-toes, then!

Ummm. Have I just done it again?

Well, I think I can get away with it with impunity today, as he is currently curled up asleep on the sofa, snoring melodiously, having spent a fair chunk of last night patrolling the house trying to shake off the tummy cramps that have plagued us for days. I haven’t had a belly like this since returning from a stupendously dingy Caribbean hotel in 2006 (abdomen cramps are now colloquially known in Maison Hairy as Dominican Tummy) – after a few hours of groaning, the pain recedes completely and the world looks rosy again; cue opening of fridge for major grazing and making up of lost time. Another few hours down the line, however, and the Tummy reasserts itself. John’s innards are rebelling worse than mine, and once Harry’s persistent screams (also a bellyachy boy) scored him a 4am upgrade from cot to parental bed, disappeared downstairs to walk it off.

Hubby and Harry were chipper by breakfast, and it was my turn to feel temporarily rough as old boots again. We all ate an enormous family lunch with gusto at 12.30 (someone else was paying!), but by 3pm Hubby was at home shivering under a blanket. By the end of Top Gear at 9pm he had patently recovered hugely, and was able to take on the role of primary sympathiser when I damaged yet another of my (seemingly all moribund post-pregnancy) teeth whilst chomping a carrot for tea (in a vain attempt to even up the calorie intake from lunchtime). I have diagnosed yet another Piddle-imported virus, albeit a more subtle variety than the green-bogey-busters we usually get. There is, however, nothing subtle at all about the farts that we are all three emitting, virtually continuously. I can barely make out the TV.

But despite the fact that I am now officially commited to cooking Christmas dinner for the family, I am in a cheerful mood. My Christmas shopping is very nearly complete. I have this evening beaten off a hoarde of disappointed bidders in order to purchase the only blue wooden kitchen set currently for sale in the UK – it is last year’s model, and new ones are like hen’s teeth.

 kitchen1

It has bled the Hubby wallet rather more than I anticipated, but given that he’s just blatantly spent money we don’t really have on yet another bloody Nikon, he couldn’t really complain.  Had he got to the delivered package first, I suspect the new item would have merged seamlessly with his other camera gear – much like a friend of ours whose sixth horse looked so conveniently identical to her fifth, that her partner continued unaware of the imposter. Caught red-handed, Hubby bleated plaintively that he was going to sell the lens part on at a profit (hah!) and actually, darling ‘it’s for YOU, really’. 

I already have a Christmas list. It has certain items priced for babies (Estee Lauder’s Beautiful, please, Harry. Daddy will pay!), for in-laws (Stephen Fry’s America book), for parents (ice-cream maker) and for Hubbies. This:

rolf

 for instance, I would very much like on my bedroom wall. It hasn’t a hope of hell in getting there anytime soon, as I am typing on my new laptop, and have just spent over 200 quid on gym membership. Nevertheless, a girl is entitled to a wish-list – particularly when the Hubby has a vaguely dodgy track record when buying off-piste. But it seems that even a much-hyped list is no insurance against being bought expensive cameras that are only nominally and spuriously yours.

Still, the festive mood is definitely almost upon me. The fabulous Famous Grouse adverts are back on TV, and everytime this comes on TV

I get so pathetically excited at the prospect of a new Wallace & Gromit film that I damn near wee myself. 

I probably need to get out more.

Parity

It’s a double-edged sword, this blogging business. Truly.

Despite being a long-time reader of Julie’s wonderful site, it never actually dawned in the dessicated pellet I term my brain that there might be… others. How I managed to miss checking out her sidebar for all that time, I really dunno, but there you go. I only properly discovered the big old blogosphere pond earlier this year – and promptly jumped in with both feet, wittering happily away as if I’d lived here years.

Had this monumentally pleasing discovery been at an earlier time in my life, my blogging material could have been rather wider in scope. Two uteri. IUI. IVF. Miscarriages a plenty. Pregnancy teetering on edge of disaster. NICU. SCBU. I was infertility content-rich! My misery was simply jumping up and down to be spread around a little.

My timing has been inauspicious – I formally joined you all in April this year, replete with baby. Still traumatised as buggery-fuck by it all, mind you, but nevertheless, I was indisputably a little way past the nail-biting stuff. I was sufficiently conscious of this potential paucity of my personal contribution, to title my blog The Hairy Farmer Family, thus widening my legitimate subject-target to all three of us.

Now: at 16 months old today, Harry is not yet in a position to lambast me for putting photos of his runaway dumps on the internet. He will no doubt hold me accountable for these numerous breaches of his privacy before he reaches his majority, but for the present, my maternal bloggy treachery is blissfully unknown to him.

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On the other hand, the Hubby can read just fine.

He can’t write frightfully well. During the mid 1970s, his primary school considered teaching children to form their letters properly and consistently to be over-conformist for the little darlings. His handwriting, put bluntly, is shocking.

And that’s just the kind of statement that winds him up when he sees it in print. You see, Hubby doesn’t appear here in a rounded dimensional format. I recount snippets here and there as and when they please – or amuse – me. I’m not the bloody BBC. I do not have a constitutional obligation to appear impartial and emotionally unattached to either side of the argument. When I tell you that Hubby has useless handwriting, I do not feel a moral urge to insert a disclaimer telling you that, whilst his numbers aren’t always legible – even to himself –  they are always sodding right, because the man is a mathematical natural. But it would probably seem to Hubby  – and doubtless will when he logs on tomorrow morning, despite my caveats – that I have simply dissed his handwriting  – and consequently, of course, his intellect – to the entire internet, albeit my small and extremely select (hello!) corner of it.

In short, he feels he often comes off badly on here, as I naturally tend to cherry-pick the juiciest episodes in our lives to blog about. You will be aware, of course, as you are presumably a regularish reader (hello!) that, in this corner of rural Warwickshire, a juicy topic has to be defined pretty loosely. An interestingly musical fart could easily make the cut, some days. There’s not a whole lot happens to me. I don’t have a paying job. I don’t actually see all that many people who aren’t family or other mothers. So, when your Hubby, who began driving farm vehicles so young that his short little legs (NICE legs, ok? Grew up to be sexy legs!) couldn’t actually reach the pedals, drives smack into a bloody ditch one morning, and has to ring the wife in order to be towed out… well, you can’t really blame the wife for thinking she has struck bloggy gold for that week. I have, like Lady Bertram, formed for myself a very common-place, amplifying style. I am fully aware that this blog will not win me the Journalistic Golden Pen Award – because any clever joined-up thinking I might once have possessed departed along with my placenta – but it’s mine and I love it. I love the friends it has made me. I’m excited by the friends it will make me in the future. I value the words I read in return.

However. I appear to keep getting into deep domestic wifey shit about what appears here. Offence has been, occasionally, taken. I read my good friend May’s recent posts with awe. Not, on this occasion, purely at her erudition – although she is, as ever, a profoundly talented writer – but at her subject matter also. I could not get away with writing thus, I feel. I do not even dare to comment, in fact, just in case I transgress badly.

Now, before I stir the situation up even further, let me assure you that Hubby is far from a Controller. Although vaguely irritated by the hours I spend blogging and blog-reading (hours that could more profitably, he thinks, be spent having wild monkey sex with him) he is generally a genial, extremely laid-back chap – who, moreover, laughs at my jokes, rips the absolute piss out of my mistakes, and pays my unforgivably high credit card bills with quiet resignation. Our marriage has admittedly taken some telling hits since the birth of our child – and that’s a whole other post I’m not sure will make it to Publish – but in essence, when not savagely hissing parenting or abrupt departing reproductive advice at one another, we potter along together beautifully. But blogging niggles him.

In the past, I have suggested unto him that he is far too damn touchy, and to start his own sodding blog if he wants to control his public image, and how he is perceived by my tiny band (hello!) of readers. I’m not going to put an update on the bottom of every post, detailing the specific items (Harry’s actual height in relation to growth centile charts was a good recent example) that I have apparently got completely and unforgivably wrong. This is my patch of internet, where I blather talk. I will not self-censor. Bugger orrff!

Except… it isn’t that easy, is it? No-one likes being made to appear at somewhat less than their best, particularly by someone you love. If Hubby wrote or uttered something that put me in a bad light, offended me, or did not do proper justice to my wifely talents and abilities, I would most likely have a spectacular attack of the sullens. I’m vain enough to like hearing myself talked up – although untalented enough to ensure it hardly ever happens.

I have to admit, after some mulling, that he does have a fair point. The poor chap isn’t able make a single minor gaffe around here without me making maximum internet capital out of it, and, short of hijacking my comments column, he has no right of reply. In short… it’s not particularly polite of me. 

So, whilst I am in the mood to take notice of spousal angst and print retractions, let me say that John gets particularly gets hot under the collar when I suggest, through comic implication, that he is a hapless or unconnected father to our son. Neither could be further from the truth. There is an enormous amount of mutual adoration and Hubby makes significant sacrifices – my credit card bill and his own business profit margins are good examples – to ensure that Harry has the best quality time possible with both his parents.

Hubby is, in short, a fabulous individual who has had the questionable luck to have married a girl (yep, 34 next birthday, just go with it, yes?) who likes to write – but lack of material has rendered everything fair game.

Now, I’m not quite certain where all this is taking us. I would happily offer the Hairy one an occasional guest spot in order to write about our lives from his perspective – and he would doubtless decline. Authorship is not his metier at all, although he has become a reasonably faithful reader of much of my blogroll. So I expect I shall continue to wind him up in passing now and again – although my sense of justice tells me that I probably need to round his character out more on here. It’s not fair of me to let you keep on thinking that I’m the funny, talented, clever one. Cough. 

But I’m very curious, so I’m asking you… how do your partners view your blog? How do they feel about having their quirks and foibles revealed? Do they mind? Do you hide your virtual tracks? Or edit your words before hitting Publish?

Tell me all.

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