Whenever the red mist descends upon me, I remember an article that Stephen Fry – a talented lad – once wrote for The Listener about losing his sock. I haven’t lost my sock – on this occasion, at least – but my personal DEFCON is fast approaching pushtheredfuckingbuttonandtohellwith’emall.

‘I am angry. I am really angry. I am so angry I can barely go to the lavatory. I am fuming. I don’t think I’ve ever been crosser. If you poured boiling jam down the back of my neck, set fire to my trousers, defecated on the back seat of my car and forced me to stare without blinking at the cartoon of myself that accompanies this article I couldn’t be more furious. Hopping mad about sums it up.’

I’ve managed to empty my bladder, but it was touch and go for a bit.

I fought my way into Coventry during the rush hour this morning for an appointment with my consultant. She gravely thanked me for sending her my back-to-front heart report, and told me that I definitely do need a laparoscopic exploration. I nodded expectantly, waiting for her to announce why she had summoned me back to her clinic instead of simply noting the whole peculiar heart-thing and rescheduling my (postponed-because-of-said cardiac-weirdness) operation.

But there was nothing of the sort forthcoming. She merely started to write out another surgery form, identical in every way to the one she wrote out last September… when she cheerfully bunged me on her laparoscopy waiting list.

I furrowed my brow. She’d forgotten – evidently – that we’ve already driven round this particular roundabout.

I had been scheduled for the knife on the 1st of February – and made that fact clear in every piece of correspondence. I had only agreed with her secretary to postpone the surgery (this was during Consultant’s extended holiday: I was the first case upon her return) because – and feel free to call me cautious – I had thought Consultant might like to be aware that my abdominal arteries and veins are probably somewhere fairly unusual. Her secretary had assured me that she had spoken to her, and simply re-scheduling the Lap was not an option: she wanted to see me in clinic. Furthermore, it has only been by utilising a judicious mixture of furious complaint and wheedling charm that I am not waiting until the end of April for today’s appointment.

I toyed with the idea of remonstrating loudly about the pitiful miscommunication, the complete waste of her time, my time, my diesel, a morning’s childcare costs, and five months of my dwindling amount of child-bearing life, but I couldn’t see much actual benefit in it. I’ve always been a firm believer in making the person cutting your belly open (whilst driving a camera up your fanny) like you as much as humanly possible.

So I sat schtum, and grimly waited to be handed another form. ‘Her list’s only a couple of months,’ I thought. ‘You can cope with that. Cool blue oceans!’ or some such shit.

She stopped scribbling away and looked up.

‘Last time you were here we spoke about your weight. (We did. She told me it would be good to lose some. I agreed. I know an anaesthetist well. I know how tricky it can be to knock out fat people safely. I am totally on board with the losing-weight-is-good concept. But I… didn’t. She hadn’t seemed quite rabid enough about it, I suppose.) Now, before I put you on my waiting list, I think we need to get your BMI down.’

‘Wh… what?’

‘Just hop on these scales, please. I’ll take a kilo off for your boots.’

They were kind scales. Even in my boots, I weighed 4lbs less than I did 3 days ago standing stark naked, having squeezed out every drop of pee I could.

She stabbed around on a BMI chart and merrily announced that I would only have to lose a stone before she would accept me for surgery. Or, to put it another way, I’d only have to lose a stone in order to return to exactly where I was last September, when I weighed exactly the same as I do now.

I’m never wearing this skirt again. It obviously does nothing for me.

‘It’s only a stone!’ she said, evidently noting that my features had clouded over. ‘But you need to get down to at least 88kg please.’

She tucked my surgery form firmly back into my folder, ignoring my outstretched paw.

‘Give (secretary) a call as soon as you lose the weight; she’ll find this form in your notes and put you on the waiting list straight away!’

I thanked her through gritted teeth, and marched out of clinic.

And came home.

And examined a BMI chart.

Her chart must have been as kind as her scales, because 88kg is still a BMI of 32 and unless I insist on using her set of scales again, I have to lose two stone, not one.

I am now a sobbing, angry, frustrated, premenstrual fat woman with a growling empty stomach.

Do Not Approach.

You’ll Never Know, Dear, How Much I Love You

Last night, I stayed up until nearly dawn writing a report that was 5 times longer than I’d originally envised it, detailing Harry’s… quirks… for his new nursery staff at School Fabulous (© May). I’m hoping his more adorable qualities will become self-evident to them, because I haven’t had space to talk about those. It’s… kinda long.

John and I took him to meet the staff there today (he banged his head three times in 30 minutes). There are four nursery staff, and currently only 3 other children doing afternoon sessions, one of whom we already know. It is, you will not be surprised to hear, a special school, catering for children aged 2 to 19, all of whom have special educational needs.

School Fabulous is a pretty cool place. Sensory garden, light room, soft play centre, hydrotherapy pool, huge indoor sand pit, areas for every type of play I can think of, and a playground strewn with Exciting Stuff. There are speech therapists, physiotherapists, nurses and nursing assistants, all visiting on-site.

The school is well-known throughout our county, as… THE special school. How can I put this? There’s a lot of parking for wheelchairs. There’s lots of kids wearing head protectors. When I tell friends who haven’t heard about Harry’s lack of speech that he is starting there, they all look mildly horrified and blurt out a variation on ‘Why, what’s wrong with him?’ before hastily re-modelling their faces into Kind Concern and I’mSureHe’llComeOnVeryWell fervent nodding.

What I feel about that generally depends on how much I like the friend.

What I feel about his admission, following a panel meeting, is huge, profound relief. I sat and wept writing my long, pitifully long list of the things that Harry does that, taken as a whole, make him such a challenge to parent. I’d never held the collective weight of every single one of our difficulties in my mind before then, and I’d not realised quite how many minor troubling issues I had been hoping he would grow out of.

Whih is absurd, really, because Harry is making very discernable progress, if not in his actual speech, then certainly in his communication. Either his comprehension of our speech has taken a  leap forward, or his newly-acquired skill of nodding has motivated him to integrate with us more – perhaps both.

This morning, on a whim, I asked him to say the word ‘Tesco’ (Yeah, yeah, I know. Of all the words to pick. We were outside!). And he tried! He’s never mimicked a sound on request in his entire life. I think he either hasn’t hitherto understood what ‘say’ (i.e. ‘Harry say it’) meant, or his brain just can’t retrieve and reproduce memorised speech-sounds accurately yet. Again, probably both. I’d most likely have had no luck had I asked him to mimic any sound except T or D, which letters begin most of his babble, but he definitely sat there having a go at repeating ‘Te…Te…Te’ after me. 

I floated into the shop. Which was some achievement considering the scales registered an all-time personal worst for me this morning – why, yes, that does include pregnancy OMFGlalalalaHalpHalpHalplookattheprettyweather. Looking on the bright side (I will, consequently, have to move out of the way of the GODDAMNED SUN) I have re-joined my old gym, and will shortly be gymming and swimming Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons while Harry is in his new nursery, just around the corner. My health, sadly, desperately needs these 7.5 hours a week devoted to improving its host.

I am planning to keep him at our local mainstream nursery on Friday mornings, and extend his session over lunchtime. We will be financially better off all-told, as his new nursery place is fully funded on account of his specific need, and I will be paid a mileage allowance for taking him there.

Which brings me to the only part of this that makes me really bite my lip and think about the whole Holland thing again. I don’t have to take him myself if I don’t want to: Harry is entitled to free transport there and back, as it is a needs-based placement. Although I would not even remotely consider the option at present, the school would arrange to deliver him door to door.

In their – short – Sunshine bus.

Lord Lucan

The cervical screening agency have, presumably, been firing out my reminder letters to… someone. Judging by the plaintive tone of the letter I eventually received from my practice nurse, they must have been sending me exploding-speculum howlers.

I dutifully made an immediate appointment and bowled up on time, feeling virtuous. Our practice nurse is an old acquaintance and we were chatting merrily right up until she cranked open the speculum and went in search of my cervixes. Cervi. Cervices. Whatever.

There are a handful of medicos – lucky people! – that have had the opportunity of becoming reasonably au fait with my cleverly different

uterine didelphys construction: practice nursey is one of them.  A seasoned professional in any case, and veteran of several Voyages with Bow, Rod, Staff and Speculum along the Wifey reproductive bits, she had the forethought to prepare two vials, and two scrapy-things. And that’s where her carefully-laid plans went agley, because it seems that things downstairs have… really changed.

Bless the woman: she was down there an age. A 2010 age is about 15 minutes, I think.

Unflustered yet struggling, she gave me a running commentary of her difficulties with my recalcitrant cervi, during which time her complexion moved several shades towards Hard Labour and her neatly wound bun came several straggles nearer to Through A Hedge Backwards.   

She said it’s a good job she absolutely knew there were definitely two to begin with.

Apparently, one of them has fucked off.

Instead of a neatly-presented duo, I now have an enormous cyclops-like cervix (“It’s definitely had a baby, that one.”) that pops cheerily into view whenever the speculum is opened – and point-blank refuses to move outta the damn way and let its smaller sister have her share of glory daylight. The sadly concertinaed state of my innards following Harry’s bazooka-like launch to Infinity and Beyond, plus internal scar tissue that no longer sits pertly in its proper place, contributed to make my left-hand cervix a far more accomplished hider than the average great train robber.

I DID wonder why locum GP had seemed so nonplussed last Spring. Philogynae didn’t seem to have a problem during his delve about, but he was packing more sets of stirrups than an OCD hoarding John Wayne AND he had a natty array of pube-scorching floodlights AND a handy foot-rest half-way up the wall AND a stout-hearted assistant.

‘But they used to be together!‘ she cried mournfully, after yet another failed rummage. ‘I could see them so clearly! They were unmistakable!’

Poor woman. I did my best to be helpful and encouraging, particularly mid-smear when she was utterly flummoxed as to which side Cyclops actually resided.

‘Give it a prod!’ I urged her.


‘Right hand one!’ I announced.

It gave her a frame of reference, at least, but no glimpse of my lesser-spotted cervix was to be had 

She gave up in the end, on the premise that she felt she had prodded me about more than enough, and both her scrapy-things (which have become extra scrapy of late, I noted) were covered in blood.

‘I never thought I’d not be able to find your cervix!’ she said, shaking her head over the paperwork. I resisted the urge to pat her shoulder.

‘Never mind,’ I said, as I opened the door to the backlogged waiting room. ‘I’ve lost worse things.’


Following a Comedy of Unfunny Stuff, I now have an appointment on the 25th with my Consultant – who has seen my exceedingly peculiar (ME? Quelle surprise!) cardiac report and, by the sound of it, has officially Had Kittens. She wants to See Me In Clinic.

Way to reassure a girl.

So, I expect there will be No Surgery For Wifey until Consultant has hurled me through a CT scanner – which is a pricey piece of kit and awfully popular with the cerebrally Catastrophically Unfortunate at all hours of the night and day. Hence, I am not expecting any exciting imaging action anytime soon and I’ll then have to wait for surgery all over again.

Did I mention I was 35?

Grim Resignation

Today, I am 35. I am half-way through my three-score-years-and-10 officially alloted (hah!) lifespan.

Naturally, I am handling it gracefully.

I am chewing on the furniture in wild-eyed desperation, casting myself into gloom with painfully cliched self-interrogation. What have I done? What have I achieved? How much time have I gone and bloody wasted?  Etc, et-horribly tedious-c.

John, correctly deeming us to be stony broke, has retrenched in his spending this year. My memories of previous birthdays are foggy – encroaching age, I expect – but I don’t think his 2010 stance actually entails a particularly large shift from his 2003, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 approach. Farmers, even flush ones, are notoriously reluctant to spend money in the high street, but I’m not bitter which fact I knew when I married him. 

Harry bought me a card – I insisted, and took them both shopping a-purpose yesterday – but John has written me one of mine, and I can’t actually see that he’s paid me for it, either. As he is my business’s de facto financial backer, they are all, technically, his cards anyway. I’m not sure if that makes it better or worse.

I am, it has to be admitted, vaguely miffed about the absence of present from Harry. John claimed defensively that I didn’t like the ‘Mummy’ mug Harry bought me for Christmas, and that I was scathing about it. Perhaps I was, a little. I opened the wrapping to find the exact same mug he had bought me the Christmas before, and I hadn’t liked it much then, either.

I feel I should choose Harry’s personal shopper a little better in future.

But, before you all sharpen your commiserating commenting pencils and drop me into the domestic doo-dah, I AM shortly being taken out to dinner. Ho, yes! Just as soon as Harry stops his daily post-nap apocalyptic meltdown, we are off! I am putting my foot down!

We are taking Harry to tea at Frankie and Benny’s on the A46 Evesham bypass.

What? What? The kid likes trucks! And pizza!

And it’s not all doom and gloom, despite my best efforts. My mother took Harry & I out for a cheese & crisp sandwich lunch at the garden centre – I’m really not making this up –  and it was actually very nice.

Mum and Dad weighed in with a delightful Emma Bridgewater teapot and mug which I have been hankering after; my friend J, who is really a very sweet girl indeed, bought me some pretty jewellery, and the dark-haired loveliness that is May (and the fair-haired different-type-of-loveliness that is H) sent me beautiful flowers. I’m not sure if the message she put in the card or the message she put with the flowers made me teariest; the day promptly sailed much above the average.

So. That was today.

Tomorrow I shall hopefully tell you all about how my illustrious innards sent yet another medical professional screaming into the night.

It will not be for the – cough!areyouhearingmeDad?cough – squeamish.

You know you’re silly parents

when your absolute crowning ambition, the pinnacle, the reward for your hours of enthusiastic demonstrating, the niftiest thing that would make you both the proudest parents in all of Christendom, 

is for your toddler to master the Pink Panther Slink.

And you know you’re truly returned to the bowels of the spirit-crushing machine that is the NH bloody S when they postpone your surgery, then make you an appointment next week instead, then get confused about your appointment, then lose your appointment, then deny all knowledge of your appointment, then give your appointment to somebloodyone else, then finally offer you a consolatory replacement appointment in 3 fucking month’s time.

I’m back in the bloody saddle, alright.

Stick People

I drew three stick-people for Harry to colour in. One had trousers, one (in best gender-stereotypical fashion) had a skirt, and the third was half the size of the other two, like so:

I asked him to draw Daddy some Wellie boots, which he did.

I asked him to draw Mummy some gloves, which he did.

I asked him to draw Harry’s eyes, which he did.

Then I got bored and asked him to draw Mummy’s boobies.

He drew them smack bang in the middle of John’s face.

John looked at me questioningly.

‘We… left the door open?’

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