While children watched the box by night,
All seated on the ground;
The mother of them all came down,
And fury shone around,
And fury shone around.

“Dear God!” said she, for mighty dread
Had seized her troubled mind.
“Do none of you have any sense
This mess I always find
This mess I always find”

“To you, just staring without thought
Plonked seated and just fine
And crisps and Coke cans everywhere
And this shall be the sign,
And this shall be the sign:”

“This time it has now gone too far
You’ve pushed your luck once more,
I’m not clearing up this mess -get it
Cleaned by the count of four
Cleaned by the count of four

Thus spake the Mother and forthwith
Appeared a shining throng
Teenagers praising Dad on high,
Who said they’d done nothing wrong
Who said they’d done nothing wrong

“Fuck that” said she with screaming voice
Head swollen now and rounded
You clear this up right now or else
You’ll be forever grounded
You’ll be forever grounded

And so it was with much poor grace
They did get up off their bums
And the moral of the story is
Don’t play Dads off against Mums
Don’t play Dads off against Mums


 Another Ode, this time to my sister,  a connoisoeur of doggerel generated by the family.  I think she enjoyed it – she was in tears as is her usual emotional state when anyone says anything nice about her.

It is bizarre how non-tactile we are as family members. I am less likely to kiss her in greeting than an old work colleague. Even the children screamed with amazement the first time we did it (about 10 years ago). But it doesn’t mean we don’t care about each other. Just we weren’t brought up in a household that ever said ‘I love you’ or any other sentimental guff.

We had a turbulent relationship during our teens – she was out there, getting in to trouble with my parents whilst I was a few years behind and getting away with much much more. Oh what luck it is to be the younger child. But since we both left home and didn’t have to live together under the same roof we recognise each others strengths and rely on them. And get on really well.  So, of no interest to anyone who doesn’t know her no doubt, but herewith a tribute to my sibling.

Ode on the Occasion of Kate’s 50th Birthday

And so it is that we are gathered,

On this auspicious date

To celebrate with wine and food,

The youthfulness of Kate

For aging isn’t something

That Kate cares much to do

She gets fitter, better looking

Than she was at twenty two

In childhood she seemed older,

Taking care to be so good,

And organising friends and me

Into a cycling sisterhood

Being sensible was her hallmark,

So she couldn’t believe it when,

She saw the film Pollyanna twice and

The girl broke her leg AGAIN.

From Scotland then we moved toWales,

She went straight to grammar school,

Where slowly but undoubtedly she

Started to be cool

My friends would tell me wide eyed tales

Of my sister’s latest antic

Of boys with bikes or bus or truck

No wonder Mum was frantic.

And moving swiftly on from then,

She left home at seventeen,

A gap year then to Uni

Where her Dad and Nain had been

Although English was her subject

Her forte seems to be

Making friends who’ve lasted through the years

From both home and from Uni

And then the world of work did call

With Marconi her first job

From training into personnel,

Or HR, sorry Rob.

Her loyalty and diligence,

And increasing expertise

Ensured her working life was full

As she moved around with ease.

In her twenties and her thirties

She seemed to have it all,

Enjoying country life indeed

From Kent to Dunstaball

An endless round of social whirls

With friends both far and wide

They spent their time just having fun

And learning how to ride

And of course that’s something she still does

The only family member yet

To win not one but two great big

First place red rosettes

As teens she’d sometimes slap me

“Just because I can”,

But she’s been a rock to lean on

When the s*** has hit the fan.

As an aunt she has been perfect,

Giving time, and love (and gifts)

The children all adore her

(No I’m not taking the pi**)

You are loyal, you are caring

You put others before you,

You have insight, sensitivity

And you know what’s right to do

You are modest, self-effacing

Well organised and smart

And now you seem much more relaxed

Since someone stole your heart.

So now please raise your glasses

And let’s really celebrate

The wonderful woman that she is

My elder sister Kate

Through thick and thin

This Ode was written as I had been asked to give a speech at a good friend’s birthday. I find an Ode probably easier rather an actual speech, so delivered this.  I make no apologies for the language as it is entirely appropriate.

Ode on the occasion of Mo’s birthday

Twas a cold cold dark November day

A fair few years ago,

When a mewling pukin babe was born

And her parents called her Mo

Her childhood wasn’t fairy tale,

But had plenty that was good,

And something we’re all glad you got

Was your mother’s gift with food.

She set off to find her fortune,

Seventeen and full of wishes

Bizarrely, went to Denmark

Her employment; washing dishes,

Back home again in Glasgow

She took nursing to her heart,

It was the uniform attracted her

She’s always been a tart

Not satisfied with standard stuff,

She specialised in mental

But nonetheless she qualified

And nursing paid the rent –al

She met a man called Stuart

And soon became his wife

And best of all had Hollie

Her favourite gift in life

Not long moved down to England,

The marriage – self destruct

But luckily her friends were close

And one she starts to fuck

Gerald brings her round to meet us

And it goes without a hitch –

At last he’s brought a girl I like,

A swearing, drinking bitch

My children want her as their mother,

Coz she’s fun and fab and wild

And she cooks like Gordon Ramsay –

That’s attractive to a child

She’s organised our holidays,

Our walking witches tours

Taking time and lots of research

To keep us on those moors.

She has a gift, a way with words,

She makes the mundane fun,

In fact I think we all enjoy

Her facility with tongue,

We’ve shared some beds, we’ve shared much booze,

I really can’t be keener,

On the sparkling, witty kindest friend

With her wonderful demeanour

She’s marvellous, magnificent,

She’s everything we wunt

The best that any girl could be-

A complete and utter cunt.

I cannot bear people who try to patronise others by using incomprehensible jargon. Especially when it usually covers up their own lack of understanding of what is going on. So herewith my list of phrases that I find particularly annoying, although I am sure there are plenty more that can be added to the list!

Top Ten Annoying Business Terms Translated in to Real English

  1. Going forward ; in the future/from now on
  2. Big ask; something that may involve working past 6 pm
  3. Stakeholder management: ensuring everyone is “bought in” to the project so the finger doesn’t point at you
  4. Bought in: convincing people your idea is a good idea so that they can share the blame when the shit hits the fan
  5. Empowerment :  the futile delegation of meaningless decision making by a boss to try to make you feel more important
  6. To action deliverables: to do your job
  7. We are on the same page; I have no idea what you just said but I just want to move on
  8. Indicative: complete fucking guesswork
  9. I hear you : I don’t give a shit what you think.
  10. Scope that out for us : Just shut up, fuck off to a room and come back when you’ve thought it through a bit more.

And one that I actually like:

  1. Al desco:  eating by your computer

Embarrasing moments

July 1, 2012

We all have them. Those times when you realise you have just done something incredibly stupid. Usually accidentally. Even at my age  I still blush like crazy when I make a fool of myself. Not if I am doing it deliberately of course, for the laughs, but when I realise I have said something seriously  inappropriate or fallen over (as I am prone to do – see posts passim). That rising tide of humiliation sweeps over me.

And I relate for you here my most embarrasing moment of all time. It wasn’t when I was kneeling in front of a standing  patient to feel the hernia in his groin and I had to hold his erection out of the way. It wasn’t the time I discovered the guy I had spent the whole evening with and brought back to my room only had one arm and I hadn’t realised. Nor was it the time I told a really good friend that his girlfriend was completely wrong for him and he replied he’d married her the previous week.

No, it was summer in the 70s. I was wearing my floaty Laura Ashley dress, bare legs and long hair. I was walking around the southern edge of Russell Square from our flat near Great Ormond Street to the hospital on Gower Street and had just reached a small road that I would need to cross. An MG sports car turned off the square and in to the road in front of me . He stopped to let me cross. I gaily stepped out in the sunshine, smiling straight at him and lifting my hand in thanks.

Whereupon I fell down the open manhole directly in front of his car. Scraped all the skin of the front of one of my shins and saved myself from completely disappearing down in to the sewers by virtue of my waving arms being caught on the edges of the hole. The driver rushed out of his car.  I pulled myself  up at lightning speed and he asked me if I was alright. ‘I’m fine, I’m fine’ I chirped, absolutely mortified at what had happened. I rushed back on to the pavement. ‘Shall I take you to the hospital?’ he asked. ‘No, no, honestly I’m fine’. Red as a beetroot, I ran round the corner simply  on adrenaline. I looked down. My dress was soaked with blood. My shin was screaming and raw –  the peeled skin sitting in a concertina-ed lump on my knee. My underarms and ribs ached where they had caught the edge of the manhole. The blood poured from my leg. The pain was intense. A waiter from Pizza Hut came out and gave me a load of serviettes which I stuck on to my shin as if it were a shaving nick. The blood just kept on coming and the tissues couldn’t cope.

It did eventually stop of course and I wasn’t physically scarred, but that moment is etched on my memory forever. And it only occurred to me a couple of years ago that of course he wasn’t actually stopping for me to cross the road. He had stopped because there was a fucking great hole in the road. Which, in my usual non-observant way, I hadn’t even seen.

Testing friendship

June 29, 2012

I count as friends those people that I would not hesitate to ring at 2 a.m. if I needed help. Admittedly I did this to my manicurist last year when completely off my face, but that was a mistake. And one of which I have no recollection. But she does. And tells me actually I rang twice. And the iphone call list doesn’t lie. But apart from that, I think that it is a useful yardstick to measure friendship by, and I hope they would feel able to call on me in the same way. After all, friendship is meant to be two-way. So it got me thinking of my

Top Ten Things That Make

a Female Friendship Real

  1. A friend is never jealous of you, only happy for your good fortune/great dress/new job/new boyfriend..
  2. A friend will always interpret everything you say or do in a positive way. A friend will always assume the best of you. A friend doesn’t keep a tally of things they have done for you and what you have done (or not) in return
  3. .There is no awkwardness with friends no matter how long since you were last together or last spoke
  4. A friend will tell you when you are being stupid/selfish/unreasonable and you won’t hate her for it
  5. A friend understands that husband/family may have to take priority and doesn’t hold it against you
  6. A friend sticks up for you when others slag you off
  7. A friend is able to make you laugh even when the shit has hit the fan
  8. A friend will tell you when your bum looks big in that if you ask
  9. A friend won’t slag off your partner even if they think he’s a twat because they know you don’t think so. (They will agree with you if you say he’s a twat, but they won’t say it first.)
  10. And a friend is still there (usually with a bottle of something) when the complete twat you were so in love with dumps you

Labour itself came as a bit of a surprise. Well, to be frank so did the conception. After an operation for a twisted ovary I’d been told it was unlikely I’d conceive without assistance (medical assistance I mean – obviously I wasn’t expecting an immaculate conception) so we threw caution to the wind and bingo I was pregnant the next month. And technically married to someone else, but that’s another story. I will never forget sitting in the bathroom seeing that little blue line appear. Holy fuck. Wasn’t expecting that.

I’d always said I would give up smoking if I were pregnant. I loved it so much I could never give it up just for me, but realised I couldn’t inflict it on an unborn baby. But driving to work that morning I had half a cigarette. I felt so guilty smoking once I knew I was pregnant I didn’t tell anyone until years later. Ridiculous really as up to that point I’d been smoking 20 a day -including the 6 weeks when I hadn’t realised I was up the duff.

Pregnancy wasn’t my favourite time; an old heart problem woke up and I had fortnightly visits to the hospital. One of my best friends was due two days after me and she rang to say she’d had her baby early. I was livid. Jealous. Pissed off. And assumed that meant for sure I was going to be two weeks late. But that evening, sitting on the settee doing the Sunday Times crossword there was an almightly pop as my waters broke. He wasn’t due for another two days and I hadn’t even packed a bag. We had no baby clothes or anything. My husband couldn’t drive and the hospital was down in South London as we’d only moved to Ealing two weeks earlier. An ambulance would only have taken us to the closest unit and I certainly didn’t want that. So despite having been drinking brandy and not having passed a test, the father-to-be got in to the driving seat of my company XR3i to take me to St George’s. It wasn’t the most relaxing of journeys but we got there.

15 hours and about 300 contractions later I would have rammed the ‘beautiful object to focus on’ down the birthing guru Shelia Kitzinger’s throat if she’d been there. I was offered an epidural and would have happily plunged the needle in to my own back if I could. I’d done it enough times for other people in the past. The anaesthetist did his stuff and the bliss was indescribable. Contractions without the pain. 22 hours in to hard labour the baby went in to distress so all systems go to get him out pronto. The room filled with doctors; some for the birth, some for the baby, some for my heart. One high forceps delivery later a very blue baby arrived with the cord round his neck. No rush of maternal instinct from me – I just wanted the paediatricians to rescucitate him. Meanwhile I opened the sutures for the obtetrician sewing me up. They offered to take him to the nursery overnight (those were the days!) and I willingly said yes. I just wanted to sleep. Well, the first thing I wanted was a diet coke and some toast. Which I then threw up. The husband was despatched to get ‘some of those gro-bag things’ for the baby to wear and had to make his way home on public transport as he had no qualified driver to sit with him in the car.

Parenting did not come naturally to me. Or at least not the parenting of small babies. It was just terrifying. Well, the first one at least. I had no idea. At all. I didn’t enjoy those first weeks and months. Too much responsibility. No let up. No chance to send it back from whence it came. How on earth do single parents do it? Luckily my husband was easy with babies and he saw us through those broken nights and screaming days.When baby cried and I had fed, changed and tried to put him down to no avail, I too would be in tears. I don’t know how my husband coped. I didnt. I couldn’t get up and dressed and out of the house before 2pm. Every time I tried to do anything the baby would want feeding. Or changing. If husband was 5 minutes late getting home I had panic attacks that he was under a tube somewhere and I would be left with this baby to look after alone. The very thought filled me with fear and dread.

a natural

So I give you my

Top Ten Things I Didn’t Know Until I Was A Parent

  1. Despite incredibly busy hospital dotcoring jobs working over 100 hour weeks, I didn’t know what tired was until I’d had continuous months of broken nights
  2. I didn’t know what responsibility was until I had to care for someone helpless 24/7
  3. I didn’t know the sheer force and volume that breast fed baby shit can be generated at until I was cleaning up the back of his head after a particularly explosive episode.
  4. I didn’t realise how little I knew about parenting and how easy it had been to criticise others until I had to do it for myself.
  5. I didn’t know how to appreciate a night out properly until I couldn’t have them
  6. I didnt appreciate what I put my parents through until someone did the same to me
  7. I didn’t realise toddlers really would pick up dog shit and try to eat it
  8. I didn’t realise I would be able to walk out of the house and leave the front door wide open as I would get so distracted by the children.
  9. I didn’t know how badly run a meeting could be until I joined the PTA
  10. I hadn’t anticpated spending an entire boiling hot summer’s day at Disneyland dressed only in a zipped up cagoule and a pair of underpants as I’d had to remove all other clothing and dig a cagoule out of the boot because a child vomited all over me as we pulled up in the car.

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