COCFOC

I was chatting to the wondrous May last night on Facebook about this and that, and during the course of the conversation, I expressed a dissatisfaction with the hackneyed and cliched slang-status of Pissing MySelf Laughing. PMSL, I opined, and ROFL, were passé. We needed something else.

‘I once fell off a chair laughing,’ May mused.

‘I once choked on coffee laughing,’ I brooded.

Choked on Coffee. Fell off Chair. COCFOC was born.

You heard it here first.

*makes shooing motions*

Go viral, little acronym! Go viral!

Can’t I Use My Wit As A Pitchfork?

Hello! Anyone still here?

I was last seen making a wedding cake. Happily, the cake itself was munchable, consumed at a gratifying rate, and thus I wasn’t precisely displeased with it… yet vaguely grieved that the finished article had not turned out exactly according to the picture in my head. In my aesthetic defence, not very many wedding cakes are A) constructed to withstand a 100 mile journey in the back of my car and B) made without a single structurally bracing currant/raisin/sultana.

P1070410

The weight of the cakes militated against a trial-stacking of the tiers with all the icing damage risk inherent in that process, so I didn’t realise quite how zigguratty the middle tier was until I actually got there and… yeah. This is interesting to no-one except me, correct? It was edible. Everyone important seemed pleased. Call it a B-minus pass!

Harry and hotels mix badly in our imagination, so  we towed the caravan down and stopped in Wellington Country Park. I’m not much of a one for forest campsites, generally – my primeval lizard hindbrain likes to spy predators coming early – but this was a collection of In The Night Garden-like sunny glades, which was really very pleasant indeed. Our particular pitch boasted a fallen tree, which served Harry as boundary marker, climbing frame, racetrack, horse, garage, and balance beam. Entry to the adjoining park was free to campers, and Harry certainly had our money’s worth out of everything.

Highly recommended for active Smalls, but take either a packed lunch/bank loan for their cafe.

The wedding was lovely. Just lovely, lovely, lovely. I felt so privileged to be there and we had simply the nicest time. Harry was, broadly speaking, quite well-behaved –  although his single episode of screaming, spitting, kicking meltdown, during which he was escorted (‘Mind your backs, folks!’) to the quiet front garden, did manage to rather discombobulate some of the older children, one of whom asked me, wide-eyed,

‘Is he… OK? He looks like he’s about to be…’ she backed away a little, eyeing his retching, lawn-punching little body with barely-suppressed horror, ‘really sick!’

It’s fair to say that Harry’s behaviour has taken a distinct dive again recently; linked uncleverly to some unusually late and disturbed nights. I’d forgotten quite how tricky it is to subdue a small yet resourceful Ultimate Fighting Champion angry toddler into a car seat. My specs were 10ft behind me – in the road – where he’d kicked them off my nose, he had an iron grip on both the door frame and the car, his feet were drumming all over my face and chest and God help me if I strayed within reach of his teeth. I used to get this on an almost daily basis, and while I am enormously thankful that his communication skills – and hence, his temper – are so much improved of late, I was depressed to discover that he’s now 6 months more developed in strength and cleverness. I’m worried that one day soon, I may not actually win.

The school holidays are a mere week away, and I was curled into a tight ball of misery at the thought of EIGHT long weeks of NO School Fabulous. Jesus God. What to do? What to DO??

Answer: bugger off, get a job and let some other poor sap worry about it.

In answer to the prayers of both my husband and the Hairy Exchequer (synonymous), I am going back to work. In what has been termed the laziest career move ever, I am going back to my old job part-time, except it isn’t actually my old job because the original organisation went bust earlier this year (my foreseeing this inevitable event was a core reason for staying on maternity leave forever) and has now been bought by a chap with whom I always got on well. The industry playing field has shifted substantially because of this liquidation, but the goalposts in terms of my role are in the same relative position, so I am hoping it won’t be too much of a shock to my poor 3-years-off-work system.

I am being deliberately vague because A) the (tiny) industry in question is inextricably meshed into local and regional politics as well as B) being a focus of the local media – who, thanks to the MAD awards, know exactly who I am, and that I write this blog. I have no intention of writing anything defamatory about the clients – even in the unlikely event of my wanting to: I have read Dooce, thank you! – but I am a little squeamish of the thought of sitting in a meeting with a bunch of awfully professional suited chaps who have been reading eye-popping details about my undercarriage.

You know how it is.

I am officially Not Sure how the childcare thing will work out this side of September, when Harry settles into 15 hours a week at pre-school. I have pulled him out of the local daycare centre for various cogent reasons, so Mum is having him 2 days a weeks for the short-term and John’s mother is having him for at least one day a week; I can also get work done during the evening when John is home. Of course, that thing called Harvest is rapidly approaching and will trample over absolutely everything time-wise. We’ll figure it out, I expect, and New Work understand very well about Harry and are happy to be flexible.

I am still playing happily with my stationery business, and it keeps me nicely in pin money (unfortunately, I spend great-big-knitting-needle money. Harry has expensive tastes, you know.) although I will likely never set the world alight with it. I am off to a fete tomorrow and spent most of Monday in a Birmingham hotel getting quite ridiculously excited over a preview of my new Christmas stock. Don’t groan!

How does one end blog posts when one hasn’t precisely finished, but one actually wants to go to bed? Ah. A fullstop. Like this>.

I have less than 3 minutes before I have to go out

The tortoise is being a stroppy teen.

The chiropodist who was meant to deal with my hard skin… hasn’t. I am minorly wounded instead.

I had a deeply unpleasant experience with my fridge-freezer delivery men last Friday.

Project Potty has been abandoned, much to the profound relief of all protagonists. We all love Pampers.

Harry’s birthday card is in the post:

I have until approximately dawn on Thursday to make this lovely Lady & Gent a wedding cake. It currently looks like this.

Eeeep!

Updated to add:

Well played, period! WELL PLAYED!

Way on High

*portentously*

I… have been on a jolly.

Another one! mutters John.

It’s true: I’ve been putting myself around a little more of late. I went to see May earlier this month, I’ve been to see Ukuleles, I’ve been out with friends for a curry, I’ve been to see Crowded House, I am off to the RSC tomorrow night, and I have just spent the entire weekend in a collection of damp fields straddling the Welsh/English border, happier than a naturally well-disposed piglet in first-quality poo, at Hay on Wye literary festival.

I realise that this may not be an event with which everyone is on first-name terms, so I shall pinch some newspaper quotes, simply because I am feeling awful tired and rather reprehensibly lazy. The Los Angeles Times rather nonplussedly states that “The small market town of Hay is an unlikely setting for one of the world’s biggest book festivals… a literary extravaganza that is now firmly established as the biggest book event in Britain… In fact it is the unlikeliness of the location that makes the festival so glorious”. The Guardian thinks that “Hay hoovers up the best writers published in the world. This has over the years, created a self-reinforcing phenomenon: they get the best, and so the best want to come.”

Prominent politicians litter the turf as thickly as authors, comedians and musicians; with the exception of the odd ex-President (in particular yesterday’s interview with Pakistan’s Pervez Musharraf) the security is superficially non-existent and the artists mingle freely with the crowd. Henning Mankel was supposed to be appearing, but has a current engagement – in more than one sense – that he can’t exactly excuse himself from. Ron Prosor, the Israeli Ambassador, was likewise expected and has, unsurprisingly, sent his apologies. We nearly bumped into Ed Miliband; Nick Clegg is expected later in the week.

Hay audiences are famously amongst the most intellectual in the world. Then I turned up, and the mean average IQ slumped a little.

Actual built accommodation is sold out years in advance, so Shannon – whose inspired idea this whole jaunt was – and May (these ladies, incidentally, speak more languages between them than the inhabitants of Babel) and I all converged on an enormous pre-pitched tent in this picturesque fold in the hills, toting an array of sleeping bags and widely divergent footwear. 

John has been wetting himself laughing at the thought of me in a tent; he reluctantly handed over his pristine and (supposedly) polar-suitable sleeping bag with a grumble about it really being far too good for a tent-hater like me and that I was bound to be ridiculously hot and that I should really take the ancient and cobweb-thin one instead.

I was not ridiculously hot. It was Wales. It was Spring. There was rain. We were, all three, perishingly cold, as well as managing to somehow end up lying on our respective zips after struggling womanfully into the unaccustomed straight-jackety confines of our sleeping bags (a voice in the dark from May’s corner of the tent, stoic but with a frisson of aggravation: ‘I feel like the Very Hungry Caterpillar.’) atop comparatively comfortable but comically undulating airbeds. 

You would have laughed at us. We were laughing at us. And despite the cold, and even despite the chokingly bad chemical smell in the portaloos, we had a thrillingly good festival. I kept phoning home to say hello to Harry (who would snatch the phone and utter a brief Errro! before droppping the reciever like a hot poker and rapidly beetling off) and enthusing wildly to John ‘I am having SUCH an amazing time! You would HATE it here!’

Because – it’s maybe not everyone’s cup of tea, but maybe you would have liked to have been there. I watched a multiplicity of wondrous drawings climb effortlessly from Quentin Blake‘s pen, and it was Good. We all went to see Kazuo Ishiguro (ostensibly being talked with, but given that the chair was John Mullen, he was actually talked at) and his phraseology was exquisite and it was Good. I went to see David Mitchell speak about his latest book and was charmed and captivated – ironically, much beyond my words – by his passion for language, and it was Very Good. We all watched Giles Coren (a distinctly more attractive chap in the flesh) get mildly hot under the collar, and it was Good. May skipped off to see Ed Byrne whilst Shannon and I stuck it out with a discombobulated Beth Orton and it was Strange. And Good in places. 

Then there was the tent interlude.

The next morning, surrounded by a fair breeze and increasing sunshine I listened to Sir Peter Stothard talk about his new book – I bought it, he signed it – and was reminded just why it is that my classics degree was not, in fact, a big fat waste of my time. I then scurried back to ensure that a copy of Aliens Love Underpants was dutifully inscribed to Harry – a huge fan of the Underpants trilogy – by illustrator Ben Cort. 

May and I inserted ourselves carefully into the thousands-large audience for Lord Robert Winston – a personal hero of mine – in order to faciliate my rapid emergence and gallop towards the bookstore where he would be signing books afterwards. By virtue of my Olympic-standard use of the Wifey Elbow I managed to be the first adult in the queue. I greeted him in admiring and overwhelming awe (sans vowels, again. Must work on this.), had books signed for Harry and myself, and had a brief chat to him about what a lovely bloke David Attenborough was. May was then obliged to shepherd my quivering form for a coffee – we all drank helluva lot of coffee – whilst I clucked happily and patted my bag of books. 

In fact, the weight of our respective book bags was becoming tedious; I spared a thought for Shannon, out combing the 39 bookshops of Hay on Wye (population: 1400) and now, doubtless, in dire need of a sherpa.

The unremitting high-interest of the lectures couldn’t last. I went to see Janet Todd discuss the new edition of Jane Austen’s collected works; she read large passages from her juvenilia and unfinished novels with which I was already fairly familiar – so, most unusually, I nodded off. I think people noticed. My bad. Mea culpa. etc. However, May and I finished off in electrifying and enchanting style hearing the incredibly engaging David Mitchell discuss the magnificence that is Cloud Atlas, quizzed, alas, by the garrulous John Mullan who had a most unfortunate tendency to remind me strongly, on a number of levels, of Alan Partridge.

And then it was nightime on Sunday and the three little girls had played away from home for quite long enough. Boooo. I managed to capture May and bring her home with me for the night, as well as subjecting her this morning to an over-crowded Stratford Upon Avon, John’s rowing on the Avon and an ebullient toddler – who timed his ascension of the potty-throne for his shockingly smelly morning dump to mid-breakfast perfection – before waving her off on a train back to London. 

I am now absolutely tuckered out, but with a towering pile of new books perched promisingly by the side of my bed and a steely determination to return, because there was very much more indeed that I would have lovedlovedloved to see, hear and do during this festival.

I’m going back next year. With heated caravan.

Riddle

If a tree falls over in the woods hCG level falls below 5 and there is no-one to hear it no blood loss, then does it make a noise have I actually, properly, fully miscarried yet?

I stopped bleeding almost immediately after my scan: I did not lose any further clots. My HCG, by now, will be nothing.

Oi! Clever people! Over here! What happens to the pregnancy sac? Does it hover about in there like a determined gatecrasher, turning a huffy back on the designated cervical exit, until my next period? Or do I magically re-absorb it? It seems you can still be a learner, even on your 4th miscarriage, your 5th pregnancy, and your 6th baby.

I’m… ok. Just ok. Not my chirpy self. I am mithered about the ubiquitous array of Worrisome Stuff with one or two Irksome Added Extras; I’m still giving a fair imitation of SleepyMcSleeperson, plus I have an ominously swollen tonsil this evening… but the feet are still moving forward, I am taking a little more time in my day to relax, and I have lost three pounds this week.

A small ‘Yay!’ would be appropriate to crow aloud about this last item, as it was Difficult… if you are sat alone, and feel like crowing, that is. If you’re on the bus, best not, eh?

*************

Corymbia lost her beloved husband this month. She has young children left fatherless.

Twangy’s much-wanted and adored baby had no heartbeat this morning.

Sadness.

What Are You?

If you are going to be rendered unwell, are you most likely to

A) have a clear diary in which to groan at leisure,

B) have a ticket to a special event which you are keen not to miss, or

C) have a ticket to a distant special event, for which you have arranged to stay with friends.

.

In pre-visit dialogue with your kind and understanding friends, are you most likely to reveal that

A) You have the most dreadful snoring problem that you do hope won’t keep them awake,

B) You have simply poisonous wind which you do hope won’t induce vomiting incommode them too much, or

C) You are likely to lose your pregnancy in their house.

.

During aforementioned stay with friends, are you most likely to need a loan of

A) Money,

B) Clothing, or

C) Opiates.

.

During debilitatingly heavy bleeding and cramps, are you most likely to

A) Take to your bed and cease to function,

B) Take the manufacturer’s recommended dosage and operate on limited service, or

C) Take a little more than the manufacturer’s recommended dosage and take no notice. Pain is weakness leaving the body.

.

Apart from your reproductive system, is the body part most likely to be causing you added anxiety and concern your

A) Skin,

B) Bowels, or

C) Heart.

.

During the loss of your 5th pregnancy and 6th fetus, are you able to comfort yourself with

A) Chocolate and bed rest,

B) Alcohol and daytime TV, or

C) Neither, because you must start a savage diet and also own a toddler with a busy schedule.

.

Would you be most likely to miscarry

A) At the weekend,

B) During the week, or

C) On Mothering Sunday.

.

Mostly ‘A’s

You are a delicate, lovely flower.

Mostly ‘B’s

You can tough it out against adversity.

Mostly ‘C’s

You are a leathery, hardy veteran and prime agricultural marriage material to boot.

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.

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