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 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.

Gender Roles

I saw this Meme on Molly’s site this morning, and thought I’d have a quick rummage in my photo folder to see what mine would be. It’s a peach, so I thought I’d share it.

Go to your sixth picture folder

Select the sixth picture

Tell the story behind the picture:

My 30th birthday: I held a quintessentially British Tarts and Vicars Party… except I asked everyone to switch genders. I felt I needed a laugh. 

Now, the reaction of the common-or-garden British male to the prospect of wearing a dress can vary widely. I found that practically every point on the scale from ‘Disturbingly Enthusiastic’ to ‘The Lady Doth Protest Too Much’ was represented.

One of John’s oldest pals simply didn’t come because he was so horrified by the entire concept of coming in drag. Another chap dutifully turned up in the requisite short skirt, but looked so painfully unhappy I was worried all night that I’d upset him forever. My closest male friend, who errs on the shy side with new acquaintance, turned up in the most fabulous costume – but I distinctly caught wind of an undercurrent of cripplingly acute embarrassment.


On the flip side: the three gentlemen pictured here dived joyously into drag faster than rats up a drainpipe. I am married to the hairy one (wearing my old skinny clothes! Although, in my defence, I only ever wore the top with black trousers, and the skirt was scissored off an oriental dress) in the Tina Turner wig who is reaching out to tweak the other chap’s boob.

And in case you’re wondering, I dressed as a pimp.


I’m useless about these taggy things – I get them, I think nice warm things about the tagger, and then I forget to actually do them. Both The Surprise of Unfolding and WishingWaitingHopingPraying have kindly tagged me for this one, so here goes. If you feel like a go yourself, do feel invited to do so.

1. Where is your cell phone? Umm. Good question. Pass me a phone and lets find out!
2. Where is your significant other? Snoring on the other sofa. GnARk! HrRAark! SnNARcKK!
3. Your hair color? Dark brown. Peculiarly, the wifey locks have gone rather darker since pregnancy.
4. Your mother? Short. Feisty.
5. Your father? Tall. Sweetheart.
6. Your favorite thing? Babies don’t count, yes? Laptop. Bed. Contact Lenses. Food.
7. Your dream last night? Distressing, but utterly forgotten after child had trampled on my head for a bit. Almost certainly strange and surreal.
8. Your dream/goal? Still flailing about aimlessly without one, thanks. A small tribe of healthy children would be ever so lovely – but just as we are is good.
9.The room you’re in? Lounge. Warm! Nice…
10. Your hobby? Cake decorating, sewing, playing the guitar badly, photography, blogging. And I wither and die without my books.
11. Your fear? Flying. And drowning. Airport ’77, Titanic and Das Boot do not constitute a good evening’s viewing for me.
12. Where do you want to be in six years? My own business would be nice. As would size 10-ness.
13. Where were you last night? Sat right here, vegetating.
14. What you’re not? Patient. Good with money. Meek.
15. One of your wish list items? A new wallet. My MIL bought my current one 5 years ago, and the card slots are still so sodding tight, they give me Visa Wrist from all the tugging.
16. Where you grew up? Warwickshire.
17. The last thing you did? Drove to Chipping Sodbury to Nom Nom Nom on a tiny baby.
18. What are you wearing? Black jeans and a top in quite an odd shade of green.
19. Your T.V.? An ailing behemoth with legs like an oil rig. Hubby lusts after a bigger one, but is reluctant to unbelt for it.
20. Your pets? A fat spaniel. A thin collie. 3 goldfish. 1 young tortoise. 7 hens. 3 geese. 
22. Your mood? Unusually placid, apart from some degree of bladder urgency.
23. Missing someone? Nope.
24. Your car? Land Rover Freelander with several funny (i.e. ominously expensive) noises.
25. Something you’re not wearing? A watch. Haven’t owned one for years.
26. Favorite store? Mothercare. I still adore the fact that I shop there.
27. Your Summer? Fuckin’ soggy.
28. Love someone? Several someones.
29. Your favorite color? I want to say red, but I appear to live almost exclusively in brown.
30. Last time you laughed? I laugh all day at Harry. He has squarely hit the Mischievous Monkey stage. And Hubby made me snort with laughter in the car earlier, but I can’t remember why. I shall ask him when he stops snoring.
31. Last time you cried? Watching the news this week. It’s such a beautiful planet – covered with the evil that men do.

And speaking of news – the American election is nearly… nearly! over. Those of us not directly involved (although we’re fairly invested in a Democrat result here at HFF Towers) have suffered excessively from the media overload. Our election campaigns are fabulously short affairs – a couple of months is generally considered ample. Really, you should try it! And WHAT is with all the queues to VOTE? How large are your electoral wards? Our village hall generally has tumbleweeds blowing through. 

I have a busy week ahead. I am organising a coffee morning in aid of Bliss, the premature baby charity this coming Saturday, It’s one of those things that could go badly astray catering-wise – I could get 15 turn up, or I could get 50. I really dunno: people say they will come  – deserving charity, friendship, conscience, yadda yadda yadda – and then forget. I’m charging 2.50 (Pounds. I can only find a dollar and a euro symbol on the keyboard. Meh!) for tea & a slice of cake, and having a vague stab at a raffle, too. Hubby is, unsurprisingly, keenly offering to dispose of left-overs.

I need to clean the house before embarking on this manic and mammoth baking session.  I spent the weekend wielding a hired carpet cleaner that left me completely exhausted and numb-fingered, but I have to admit that (after initially disappointing results, followed by hugely exceeding the detergent dosage and extracting most of the pile through over-use of the brushes) the carpets are most spectacularly improved. I now live in fear of spillages on my pristine, fluffy golden acres, and Harry’s nappy-free time has been summarily cancelled for the duration; although, in truth, it has lately merely consisted of the Benny Hill-like footrace around the room between the squirming removal of one nappy, and his determined evasion of application of another. It’d be beyond hysterical to watch if it was happening to some other mother. Being the one roaring incoherently with indignation takes the edge off a bit.

Hubby’s oft-expressed gloomy prediction of being shuntled out to live in the garage has never been closer to fulfillment. It’s not just that he comes home admirably filthed – he also has a (thoroughly blokish, and not entirely endearing) zero ability to spot potential leakage from glasses, dinner-plates or babies, resulting in his being perpetually surprised by the overspill. Danger! Danger!


If you are passing, do drop in. I promise to only try to sell you one strip of raffle tickets.

Funny Peculiar

The very nice Sam tagged me a little while back for 6 quirky things about me. Compiling the list has not been difficult; merely a challenge to edit, as the list of my oddities is rather long.

1) My hatred towards drivers of BMWs and sport motorbikes is unrelenting and fierce. I almost wish I had one so that I too could behave like an immortal selfish dickhead. However, anyone reading this who owns either of the above is formally permitted to co-exist with me on the road, because blogosphere denizens are special.

2) I am extraordinarily hard to please in the pillow-firmness department. Essentially, only a house-brick with a thin layer of foam will do.

3) I drank oodles of milk during the first six months of Harry’s life, as I was truly convinced – still am! -that it would make my boobs refill quicker than drinking water. Less molecule conversion work, you see. [Sounds Off: Insane laughter from Hubby] 

4) I own – and occasionally play – a banjo. Also a guitar. Those are the nights in which Hubby retreats behind two closed doors and cranks the TV volume up.

5) John is driven wild by the fact that I rarely finish any hot drink, although mightily enjoying the first 5/6ths of them. I have a dim childhood memory of a burst teabag and the resulting horrifying mouthful of tea-leaves.

6) I have two uteri. The full Didelphys monty.

It just don’t get quirkier than that.

Now, I’m always a bit diffident about tagging others, mainly because I’m far too nervous, and also because I’m sure you’ve all been ‘it’ already. If you would like a go at out-performing me in the zany, do feel personally invited to have a crack. You will, though, need to have a very freakishly strange bodily oddity in order to eclipse my didelphys. Anyone want to share…?

You’re It.

The lovely Brenda has rashly said she would like more Hairy Farmer Family info. I shall duly bore you oblige!

1. What were you doing 10 years ago?  

Back living with Mum & Dad (bliss!) paying off a monstrous credit card debt, and accordingly having no social life to speak of. A dedicated smoker of Marlboro Lights, and nicely slim. Bah.

2. What 5 things are on your to-do list for today?  

Today is almost over, but I can tell you about tomorrow: find a copy of this week’s Stratford Observer with cute photo of Harry in; return my faulty microwave to Tesco; buy budgie sandpaper and cuttlefish for my tortoise; finish my belly dancer scarecrow; post a cheque for Harry’s swimming lessons. Am only expecting to achieve numbers 1 and 4. I have low expectations of myself these days.

3. List some snacks you enjoy.

Might be easier to ask which ones I don’t enjoy. Chocolate rules pretty supreme here, I feel. And puddings. I also really enjoy a handful of frozen peas, coz I’m weird.

4. What would you do with a billion dollars?  

Would just have to give some away. Kingdom of heaven, the eye of the needle, the camel and all that jazz. Not that I would be strong enough to resist the usual minor trappings of obscene wealth… houses cars, horses, personal fitness guru, someone to do my bloody cleaning, etc etc. More specifically, I would like piano lessons from Jools Holland, guitar lessons from Nick Drake (whom I would naturally resurrect for the purpose), Raymond Blanc as our personal chef, a custom-made rocking horse from seasoned Warwickshire oak for Harry’s birthday, a custom-made Liz Cox changing bag, and a new hairdryer coz I think mine’s about buggered. In addition to all of this, I would be obliged to spend several million more than I needed to in buying up the surrounding countryside for John to gleefully farm because Felix Dennis only lives a stone’s throw away and would keep outbidding me in order to grow his Forest of Dennis. Hairy Hubby would also rather like some shiny new tractors. He went to a cereals show yesterday and returned home all brochured-up and wistful.

5. List the places you have lived.

Birmingham, South Warwickshire, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Worcestershire.

Birmingham I don’t remember. The three south Warwickshire houses have all been utterly delightful. Worcestershire, not so much. Newcastle, we had slugs in the sink.

6. List the jobs you have had.

After acquiring an ancient history degree, I was pretty limited in career choices; hence I never made one, and drifted aimlessly instead. I’ve done everything from journalism to pushing mortuary trolleys (occupied) but essentially my background these days is sales and account management.

7.List the names of people you want to know more about:

Please consider yourself the new It!

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