Pigs Have Been Flying

Harry rapidly morphed from his usual flailing bundle of energy into a poorly boy yesterday evening, with a streaming nose, temperature, cough, diarrhoea (which he had, previously, finally, been free of for 4 days) and hoarse little squeak. Which is nothing out of the ordinary, except that we are in a major swine-flu hotspot – all the surrounding villages have cases in the schools.

We dutifully consulted the NHS Direct website and read that under 5s showing symptoms should be anti-viraled – it seemed a little extreme, but we nevertheless undertook the tedious rigmarole of contacting the out of hours services – the arranged callback came 2 hours later than promised. Honestly, you’d think there was a blasted pandemic, or something.

The doctor was spectacularly vague and contradictory, telling us firstly that it was impossible to say over the phone whether he had it or not (WTF?) and anti-virals were only being used as preventatives, not treatment (WTF?) and would only stave off an inevitable re-infection in any case because flu’s floating about invisibly everywhere in the atmosphere (WTF?) but we could totally have some anti-virals if we really wanted them (WTF?). Now, a combination of the fact that it was the wee small hours by this point and Harry was bawling like a lost and heartbroken calf must have meant that John and I misheard and/or misinterpreted some of this ludicrousness – but we both spoke to the chap, and we both came away feeling clear as mud on the subject.

Harry scored his usual sickness-upgrade to the parental bed, where John endured his share of the frantic cuddles, wet kisses, kicks and delighted gurgles for about 20 minutes before decamping grumpily to the spare room. I put up with about another hour of Harry rampaging, baby elephant-like, around the bed – and then the room – before returning him quietly to his cot, taking pity on the subsequent meltdown, bringing him back into bed, watching him deliberately take giggling aim and thump me, twice, and then taking him rather more briskly back to his cot where he gloomily subsided into sleep until his usual 5.30am wake-up.

And he’s been happy enough today: toastie-hot but paracetomoling back down sub-37, and toddling around the place as usual. After lunch, which he picked at, I carted his protesting yet exhausted little frame upstairs for a nap. After 10 minutes the row continued unabated, so I went in – steadfastly ignored his uplifted arms – sat down in the rocking chair next to his cot, and bent down to fish his teddy from underneath my feet where he had been forcefully hurled.

cot & chair

I straightened up, and immediately a vaulting child crash-landed into my arms.

Harry had (astonishingly, given his 79cm height) thrown one foot up over the top and heaved the rest of himself effortlessly over, clearing the top by an appreciable margin and flinging himself bodily at me. I was going to cuddle him, come hell or high water, apparently. I sat there stunned and squeaking, whilst he – accurately assessing my preventative incapability – instantaneously carpe diem-ed, and quickly beetled head-down out of the room and back downstairs.

This is a complete arse.

John is all for leaving the side up and waiting until Harry actually hurls himself out and to the floor – all that way below – before tackling the problem, on the dubious premise that he may not bother to do it again if I’m not there. I politely advance the opinion that this idea is crap on toast. Harry is more resigned to sleep than he used to be, but there is no way on God’s earth that he is going to stay put and go quietly to sleep when toys! floor! drawers! are beguiling him seductively from the far side of now-obsolete bars. They’ll have to come down this evening, and the long, weary process of encouraging Harry to put himself to bed (that sensible grown-up thing that Mummy can’t quite manage herself all the time) will have to begin.

I re-started his nap in the car this afternoon, before carrying him upstairs, fast asleep,

toy wall

and attempting to limit the injurious nature of the drop.

Of course, I then arrived downstairs to find that the tortoise was also having a try at plummeting Certain Badness


so that’s something else to worry about – as well as the fact that my American in-laws arrive a week on Friday. Without wishing to actively invite puzzlingly derisory or kindly commiserative comments about my erratic housekeeping: my one guest bedroom, although furnished on a budget of about sixpence (and possessing curtains that I cut too small


and had to cunningly rescue) is kept vaguely respectable at all times

bournville room

bournville room2

but the others look like this

 garage room

 and this

 champagne room

respectively, and All Must Be Tidy & Clean before my feisty and cleanliness-worshipping SIL hits UK soil.

And lastly, because I must go and DO Stuff, Harry clearly indicated to us yesterday – rather earlier in life than most boys do – that he’d quite like a puppy, please.



Fright Night

Well, I dunno about you, but even I’m depressed by this blog at the minute. Shall we change the record?

The sun is out, and this always cheers me up no end. We all went into Stratford shopping this morning (Stifle your gasps. I was taking John whiskey-tasting in order to buy his belated birthday bottle. The man had incentive.) and we had an ice-cream each; Harry managed to consume the lion’s share of both of them. Not bad for a child who didn’t much like the stuff last week – today, it was like feeding a large and highly opinionated baby bird.

There are a number of things I should really do instead of being sat here. Top of the list is clean the blasted tortoise hutch out – the computer is right next to the frowsty thing, and the fumes are choking me. I imagine Marina isn’t too chuffed, either. The chicks need a bigger enclosure making. I am supposed to be painting an old table with roads and associated gubbins for Harry to drive his cars on. The ‘lawn’ needs the gaps seeding. The steps need digging. The dishwasher needs emptying. The office needs tidying setting fire to. Every room in the house has a bargain assortment of detritus thickly strewn across the floor. I have an engagement to party to attend (Alone! Knowing only one-half of the couple in question! Social nerves!) this afternoon, for which I have forgotten to buy a gift, and friends coming for dinner this evening, for which I only have half my ingredients. I think they are coming to stay, so the spare room will need the bed excavating from mounds of outgrown baby clothes and toys. The lawn needs mowing.

I think I need staff.

Or a cattle-prod up the arse. Either would work.

Antonia has been posting about ghost stories this morning. I love ghost stories. I have the psychic ability of a sack of spuds – which is to say, not much – and yet I think I still managed to see one once. I’m not sure. It was a while ago, and I’ve told the story so often I can’t remember which parts I’ve actually embellished.

I used to be the administrator of a small, 22 bed geriatric hospital in a local market town. The building was a 1899/1900 workhouse infirmary, a long, narrow, two-storey building with old-fashioned nightingale wards at either end.

workhouse infirmary

You could stand with your back to one end wall, and look through numerous double glass doors all the way along a hundred feet or more of corridor to the other end of the building, providing the patients didn’t amble into your sightline. The wards were downstairs, the physio department and my office were thinly populating the enormous second floor.

One winter evening, about 5.30pm I left my office (the furthest sticky-out piece of building in the photo) and crossed the corrider to the staircase, noticing that the physio department (at the other end of the corridor, out of photo-shot to the left) was shut-up and the corridor was dark. (At 5.3opm in England, in winter, it is black as arseholes.) I was downstairs for a minute or two before leaving the light and bustle of the wards, returning up the dimly-lit staircase, crossing the corridor, and stepping back into my neon-strip-lights-galore office. As I walked away from the stairs, something caught my eye and I glanced down the dark corridor towards the physio department. I didn’t actually break stride until I was two steps into my office.

I stopped. I backed up and leaned my head out into the corridor. Blinked. And began to walk down the corridor in search of the – I assumed – wandering patient I had briefly glimpsed at the far end of the – dark and deserted – corridor. I got half-way down the corridor – I’ve told you how dark and deserted it was, yes? – and it suddenly dawned on me that A) this was weird, B) I was walking down a veerrrrry long dark and deserted corridor from the comparatively light into the bloody dark, C) lots of people die in workhouse infirmaries and geriatric hospitals, and D) I was a big, fat, hastily-retreating wuss.

I scarpered back downstairs into the light and noise and went in search of the Alzheimer’s Wanderer patient who had a habit of breaking bounds and having a mooch about. She was placidly eating her tea. Everyone, in fact, was present and correct. All the patients. All the staff. There was no-one upstairs except me and my… thing that I saw. A dim, human-shaped figure glimpsed briefly from… 80 ft away? Barely counts, really, does it?

My Dad did rather better when he was a young man. He used to work in a building in Birmingham that had been bombed at one end during the war, killing the night watchman who was on patrol on the top floor, watching for incendiaries. The building had had its end wall re-built afterwards, reducing the original building footprint size significantly. All the draughtsmen used to regularly hear the sound of footsteps crossing the now-abandoned top floor. The footsteps could be clearly heard walking directly over their heads – before continuing straight off the modern end of building, onto the non-existent part of the ceiling that had been demolished 20 years before.

 It’s not the bump in the night that gives you the fright,

It’s two holes in the head and the absence of light.

Or something.



  • That sound you hear? Me touching lots and lots and lots of wood. Do not giggle.
  • Yesterday, I saw my counsellor. We discussed Harry, Harry, Harry, Harry and the Very Bad and Worrisome whole Wanting To Hurt My Own Preshus Self thing. Felt, as always, calmed and soothed afterwards. I am going back a little sooner than usual to explore ways of mentally embarking upon a journey towards a second (actually fifth, but you get my drift) pregnancy that does not leave me feeling guilt-racked – before we’ve even got going – about sentencing a fetus to an worryingly indeterminate stay inside my now proven Not-Exactly-Grade-A uteri.
  • Ethics of deliberately creating a life when you know very well that your faulty internal housing might choke it half to death and expel it early. Like, umm, last time. Dodging of bullets, etc. Discuss!
  • It came as a slight shock when she began to talk about which obstetrician I might usefully be referred to this time around, and mentioned that the Professor of Obstetrics at my regional hospital is a Riskiest-of-High-Risk-Pregnancies specialist. I am so used to being the only specialist on my idiosyncratic anatomy that I tend to think that I’m on my own with it. Which in many ways, I am, but I can’t deny that the prospect of buttonholing an eminent chap (I’ve googled the shit out of him already) who might manage me a little more aggressively this time around was… pleasant. If there is a next time, of course.
  • In related news, my period started Tuesday, exactly 2 hours after I wasted a pregnancy stick. This did not surprise me; not only did I have an unco-operative internal pH thing going on during my LH surge, we also missed the boat on the whole introduce-sperm-to-egg process. On the crucial evening John visited the pub with a mate and although he returned, as ever, keen as mustard to perform, this did not actually prevent him from rapidly falling unconscious asleep without having given of his all, so to speak. Given that I am far too fat to be even half-way comfortably pregnant currently, this was not a disappointment to me, but Hubby seemed displeased about it. I am currently having crampybastardshittyfuckcramps; they are obviously fighting for money in there again.
  • Hubby had, incidentally, got tipsy at the pub with an-embarking-on-divorce-proceedings pal, who is now sporting a brand new pierced ear, his first tattoo and a chunky studded belt. He has also just bought a motorbike, and is stoicly propping up the local pub bars chatting up the beer flossies. Bless the man.
  • I went to bed earlyish last night, exhausted and with racking period pain. I woke up at 2am having bled all over the sheet. Nice.
  • Apropos of the too-fat-for-pregnancy thing, I got on the scales last night, got into bed and promptly burst into tears. I have lost exactly nothing after more than a month of conscientious 3-times-a-week gym attendance. I am, admittedly, aware that I have not been eating at all healthily – a long succession of cakes and sinfully buttery-creamy meals I have cooked for friends – and that my thrice-weekly torture has actually prevented me from gaining the stone+ that I thoroughly deserved to, but still… depressing. I am eating up assisting John with the the last of his birthday cake


and then The Diet begins. I am only 4lbs off my heaviest-ever-including-pregnancy weight.  This is dreadful.

  • Harry’s Speech and Language Therapist came on Tuesday, had some useful suggestions for us, and seemed pleased that Harry has acquired – intermittently – a second word last week: ‘Out!’ He uses it to demand release from his highchair, although often also reverts simply to his generic ‘Iss! Dis!’ while struggling frantically with the straps. (We are still getting plenty of excited ‘Gis!’ despite the fact that they totally made him cry when they honked and ran at him this week.) She is chasing the Integrated Disability Service – that’s how it looks in my head, by the way – again to come and assess him. 
  • I have a boil-type thing in my ear, and it’s making my life miserable, particularly when I’m trying to sleep on it. I can’t see what’s happening – although feeling plenty – so I asked John to take a peer inside, with a view to lancing anything that presented itself. He recoiled backwards, emitting loud ‘urrgggghs!’ Useless.
  • I have still not bought John the whisky he requested as a birthday present, because I can’t be bothered to drive, park, visit the big off-licence, and pay for it with his money whilst toting a grabby-mine-giveitme-wantit toddler. Bad Wifey.
  • Harry has had a waily evening so far, which is a good indicator that he is going to go on to have a disturbed and screamy night. I’m guessing he’s under the weather, possibly with a gripy belly. I am upset by the fact that he is statistically likely to be experiencing pain, nightmares or is scared of something and cannot communicate these things to us at all. It hurts to know he has a comfort need I can’t fill properly.
  • Why, why are there no hexagonal/octagonal used summer houses on Ebay, within 30 miles of here, that no-one apart from me is interested in bidding on? I want one NOW. TODAY. Kthx.
  • The tortoise desperately needs cleaning out; the chicks are also getting off-puttingly smelly and need shifting into bigger quarters in the garage. These are tomorrow’s tasks. I will also have the insanely-heavy-periods-sufferer perk of putting Harry into the creche at the gym for an hour in the morning as usual – and sitting downstairs with coffee and a book.
  • Small Yay! for menorrhagia.

‘Our Day Out’ by Hairy Farmer Wifey, aged 33.

Family days out are as rare as rocking-horse poo when you’re a farming family. So Yippee for the Royal Show, coz it’s nominally an agricultural affair, hence the Farm Approves. Hubby needed prodding a bit in order to be keen, as Bluetongue restrictions have rather impacted the livestock element to the Show this year, but I was mad keen for a day trip, any day trip, particularly as I managed to bend my car around a signpost yesterday and have been sad about it. Sayonara tailgate, back screen, and several hundred quid. Ouchie.

Anyway. Off we jolly-well trotted this morning, only an hour behind schedule. I may as well tell you that Hubby is the world’s biggest irritant when HFFamily depart on holidays or outings of any type. His normally easy-going personality morphs worryingly into that of a demented sergeant-major with particularly troublesome haemorrhoids. Even when he is exhorted to silence, I can easily pick up his radiating vibes of frustration that Goddamit, she’s still packing and it’s gone 8.30am!, and I’m usually stressed as all buggery before the car is anywhere near leaving the drive. Naturally, given the pressurised circumstances, I tend to under-perform and forget things. Like my suitcase of maternity clothes at 5 months pregnant. I’d committed the heinous crime of falling back asleep this morning after he left for work, so when he came back for breakfast to find Harry and I both snoring, he was a tad sniffy, but we did eventually bowl off down the road.

We encountered some terrier-racing first, with an endearing little chappie who thought that, as he’d made the effort to catch the bloody lure, he’d better hang onto it.


Then I encountered a mullet of such wondrous splendour that it reduced me to a state of shock and awe. I almost couldn’t focus the camera.

There was showjumping too, but I was dragged past that by my hair.

I spotted some rocking horses, and stopped to enquire the stupendous price.

All of a sudden, the stand seemed to get a bit packed with chaps toting Nikons with rather bigger lenses than ours, and I realised that we were stood squarely in the way of Charlie’s missus.

Camilla eventually managed to edge her entourage around behemoth, and trooped off intrepidly towards the horse arena in her best shoes.

Then we wandered past the cutest piglet ever

and the strangest animal haircut ever

before sitting down to our picnic lunch. Which is when I missed my handbag. Re-tracing of steps proved fruitless, and I couldn’t decide what I preferred to think: that someone had nicked it or I’d been stupid enough to put it down somewhere. John calls my collection of handbags ‘the ferrets’ for reasons known only to himself, and it was becoming apparent that my Fesnyng had become a pretty man down.

Half an hour later my cards were cancelled and I was beginning to get properly snivelley about the ferret’s contents. Pictures of Harry saved on my mobile. The bloody car keys. The entry tickets from our first-ever date. Hubby remarked bracingly that if I was a good girl for another 6 years, he might take me on another one.

We called friends of ours whom we were supposed to be meeting in any event, to break the glad news that they were now taxi-ing HFFamily home as well. Plans to extract Harry’s car seat from John’s locked (but thankfully, broken-booted) car were made. There was a brief further deterioration in our sanity levels a little later on when Hubby mislaid his mobile for a few minutes, but it eventually turned out that Harry was sat on it, looking innocent. 

I attempted to cheer myself up with a trip to the pig arena, as I do like pigs muchly,

but eventually came to the conclusion that a cup of tea was the only possible restorative.

And on the way to the NFU tent, where we had shamelessly ligged already, John’s mobile rang. The ferret was found! We scurried over to lost property and I peered anxiously inside: all present and correct. So thank you very much, farmer-type chap who handed it in but wished to remain anonymous. I am thinking exceedingly nice thoughts about you. These nice thoughts are only marginally dented by the fact that you told the lost-property minion that you had carried it across the showground in a Holstein carrier bag, because you were too ashamed to be seen carrying such a girlie item.

Fair enough.

He’s from Barcelona

Readers from any country unlucky enough not to be TV-syndicated 1970s British comedy (no no, really, you’ve missed out…) will most likely not understand this at all. I do apologise.

This morning I glanced at the packet in which Harry’s new bath boats arrived, and spotted a fabulous typo.

This made me extremely nostalgic for a bit of Basil, and I have felt strangely compelled to include gratuitous clips for your viewing pleasure. Bizarrely, I could find no decent short clips of Manuel being walloped. Shame!

Changing the subject, Work have left me a phone message saying that they Would Like To Talk. I expect they would like to know when I’m going back to work. If they have hopes of this, I feel they may be due a dashing.

Why should I let the toad work

Squat on my life?

Can’t I use my wit as a pitchfork

And drive the brute off?

Ah, were I courageous enough

To shout Stuff your pension!

Philip Larkin; Toads

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