Monday, 29 September 2014

New Car Causes Marital Strife

Mr Disgrace has a new car.  This is nothing too unusual.  Since I met him 8 years ago, he's had four cars in total.  There was the Polo, which he used to cane along the M6 every day on  a two hour commute, until it started emitting clouds of black,burnt cheese scented smoke and ground to a halt en route to a wedding one day.  Then there was The Mighty Mighty Passat, which was an ugly silver tank of a thing with a previous owner who used to regularly kick it, by the looks of things.  Then some sort of ancient Saab which also broke down spectacularly, and after that a little Honda Jazz; a car so uncool that we were the only people under the age of 60 in the UK ever to own one.  I liked the Jazz.  It was so reassuringly slow.  It never broke down and always got us there and back, and was just the right size for a little family of 3.  Also, nobody ever wanted to steal it.  There you have it: the perfect combination of functionality and crappiness.

The boys say goodbye to the Jazz

So, the other night, he drove his new car home, and he and Small Disgrace were immediately all over it, practically salivating, and bezzing around the Close, music blaring.  I stood on the doorstep, sulking.

"Come on, hop in, lets take it for a drive," said Mr Disgrace.  I reluctantly humphed into the back seat and sat there scowling and pulling my collar up so my mates wouldn't recognize me, in the style of a truculent teenager being dropped off at a party by her dad.

Now, admittedly, it's quite smooth.  And it's got some fancy screen thing that pops up and says things on it (don't know what - I can't drive), and it's very spacious.  But it can fuck off.  Because it's an Audi: An absolutely giant, black Audi A6.  And those, much like big black BMWs, are the mark of the wanker.






Reasons it annoys me:

a) It's longer than our drive.
b) It looks a bit like a hearse.
c) The headlights give it a cross face (yes, this is how I judge cars.  Don't start).
d) There are only 3 of us in our family, and we are all short (yes, husband - short.  Not average height, no matter how much you try to convince me).  We really don't need the extra room.
e) Every time I look out of the window, I keep thinking some cheeky smug git has parked on our drive.
c) It's just...it's just not the sort of car that a family of Disgraces should own.  

Our family is rubbish.  Rubbish.  We are not a power family.  Our child does not go to 4 different extra curricular activities.  Our house is a mess.  Chickens occasionally wander in and out of our lounge, passing comment on Double Your House for Half the Money.  Also, I had to take a calculator to Aldi yesterday to make sure our weekly shop didn't go over 24 quid and bankrupt us, which I don't think makes us nice-car-worthy, does it?  And we generally like pottering along in our "who gives a crap" state.  Don't we?  Don't we, Mr Disgrace?  I thought we did, anyway.

It's just a bit...show off-y, I think.  A bit "look at me."  I try to voice this to my husband:

"I just don't think it's really 'us', you know," I say.  "We're not alphas.  We're...we're charmingly eclectic."
"But we're getting better at life and stuff."
"Well, a bit.  But, we're the Disgrace Family.  We're supposed to be disgraceful. Not the owners of the wankermobile.  What next?  An Aga to cook the fish fingers in?  This is not going to be good for blog material."
"Well, frankly darling, you've been scraping the bottom of the barrel for a while, what with the nice new bathroom and our son not being a git since he was two.  Ha - we should probably have another baby just so you've got something to write about."

Thin ice, Mr Disgrace.  And for that, I shall be wearing my frostiest knickers to bed tonight.

He does have a point though.  Small Disgrace is an easy going, well behaved delight to parent (albeit a total weirdo still), our new bathroom is gorgeous, and if you were to look in the kitchen right now, you'd see empty work surfaces and a fully stacked dishwasher.  We seem to have improved without me even noticing.  I feel a bit betrayed to be honest.  I'm still bumbling about, cocking up and muttering about taking down the establishment, while Mr Disgrace has become a proper grown up.  How am I supposed to damn The Man and save The Empire* when my husband is driving a grown up car and wearing head to toe Boden?"

He tells me we're still the same really.  Things haven't really changed that much:  "It's OK babe, we're still a little bit crappy.  Don't worry.  After all, we'll always have the giant ants nest."

True.  we'll always have that.  That is a comfort.





* 90s teen movie reference. If you don't get it, I'm afraid we can no longer be friends.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

When time goes too fast

I was recently sent a link to this video that Fairy have made called The Softest They'll Ever Be:


It didn't quite make me cry, but I'm pretty sure that if the child in the video was a boy, I'd have been inconsolable.  This is because I've just spent several weeks with my baby back at home with me during the school holidays.  I always forget how well we rub along together.  During the holidays when it's just the two of us, we get up to all sorts of adventures.  OK, many of them involve not leaving the house, and quite a few of them involve scraping the chicken poo off the patio whilst wearing our wellies and pyjamas (um, at 2pm. Don't judge), but we still manage to have a lovely time.  I've especially enjoyed all the cuddles that he's still not quite old enough to resent giving me yet.  It reminded me of our time together before he started school - when we'd have adventures in the morning, then cuddle up in bed together for a nap in the afternoons. Errr, I mean, he used to have a nap and I clearly did a lot of housework and balanced the household budget and cleaned the mould off the bath mat and other worthy, housewifely things.  Yes.  Who said anything about sneaky naps?  Not me.  Oh look, isn't that a squirrel?

I do miss those cuddly days that seemed to go on forever (and not always in a good way).  I had PND when my son was a baby, so I don't really look back on the baby years with the same fondness, but I do recall that he would only ever sleep on me during the day, so I spent much of my time reading on the sofa with a warm, cuddly baby snoozing on my chest, and very occasionally, I do wish that I could turn back time just for a little bit to experience that again.  Oh, I do miss my boy while he's at school.  I really really do.  Maybe I should home school him, then I'd get to see him all the time.




At least, that's what I was thinking and feeling until about 3 days before autumn term was due to start when I opened an email from Rory's school informing me that school would be closed for an extra week due to building work being unfinished.  WTF, SCHOOL?  Are you KIDDING ME?? Some of us were on a SLEEPS COUNTDOWN until the start of term, you know.  Are you trying to send us all around the nobbing twist?  There is LEGO all over my MOTHER FLIPPING HOUSE here, OK??

School finally re-started yesterday.  Here's the boy about to set off for his first day in Year 1.  




The Lego is back where it should be, I can crack on with some work in blissful, unadulterated silence and nobody else is eating all the crisps.  Bring on the fudging trumpets.

I still can't wait for my 3.30 cuddle though.









Sponsored post






Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Why I am not a fashion and beauty blogger.

It looks loads of fun being a fashion and beauty blogger.  It seems to involve testing out lots of nice smelling face gloop and pretty make-up and being photographed looking gorgeous and wearing nice clothes, many of which you have been sent for free.  Surely even a lazy hot mess housewife like me could get on board with that?  But no.  No no no no no, I can't.  Here's why:

1. Apparently, it's all down to how you accessorize.
I don't even know what that means.  I think it has something to do with putting your shoes on.  I put shoes on every day.  But apparently, a pair of muddy, battered trainers with holes in the soles or the flip flops that half the decorative buttons have fallen off or any other footwear item that is destined only for the bin doesn't count.  Alas.


2. My beauty product reviews would all read like this:
"This moisturiser smells mildly of socks and seems to be bringing me out in a bit of a rash, but I'm still going to use it until it runs out because I can't afford to buy another one yet.  Until then, please squint slightly in my presence so as to give a pleasant, blurred effect to my skin, and try not to inhale through your nose when close to my face."

3. I have no clothes.
Well, obviously I have some clothes.  But since I chucked in my full time job to look after the Small One, I've had no money to spend on clothes.  My wardrobe has got progressively smaller and more comedic over the last 5 years as items have worn out beyond repair and been thrown away.  I am now down to a pair of jeans that are a bit too tight for comfort, several tops, all of which require a different sort of bra underneath to the ones I have left, a few summer dresses and skirts in various states of disrepair and a Very Nice Coat, which makes me look like a tramp who's robbed the cloakroom at Claridge's because I was cold.

4. There are simply not enough bohemian looking walls for me to be photographed against in my area.
Disappointingly, most of the walls in my town are bog standard, which just doesn't cut it in the world of fashion blogging.  There is a row of garages around the corner from my house, which are covered in some pleasingly distressed paint in a very on trend shade of teal.  I have had to pose against this wall for a magazine article I wrote in the past and felt like a right tit with people gawping at me and the photographer.  But anyway, is one bohemian wall really enough?  I think not.  I'd constantly have to Photoshop it to make it a different colour.  And while we're on the subject of Photoshop, I certainly can't be arsed with using it to erase my dark circles or to fake a thigh gap.  Since when was a thigh gap even a thing anyway?  Having one sounds like absolutely no fun and certainly wouldn't tie in with my deep interest in ordering curries and eating muffins.

My one and only foray into hipster wall posing

5. I have terrible hair.
My hair is something to behold.  It manages to combine being very thin with a lot of frizziness.  It will not go straight, but nor will it curl in a sensible fashion.  It basically looks as though someone has sprinkled a bag of pubic hairs over my head and run off laughing.  Picture the reviews:
"Tried new shampoo.  Hair still looks like pubes."
"Was sent sample of conditioner.  Pube-like quality of hair slightly less wiry than usual."
"Serum fail - hair now like moist, oily pubes."
"Wore hat. SCORE."

6. Accidentally dressing like a character from a 1980s sitcom:
One morning, feeling the need to look a bit more put together than usual, I abandoned my jeans and my husband's hoodie for this nice, classic skirt and, I don't know, some sort of plain top, I would assume:


So far so good.

I had to go into town to pick up a couple of things.  It looked a bit breezy outside, so I threw on a nice red mac and a hat and went on my way.

Half way to town, I realized that my hat was a beret, and with the skirt and the red coat, I was possibly looking a tiny bit too French.  And not French in a chic, well groomed sort of way.  More in the stereotypical onion seller sense.  Felt a bit self conscious and embarrassed, but it was too chilly to remove the coat or the beret, so I carried bravely on my way, brazenly ignoring all funny looks directed my way.  I was utterly convinced that I could style it out until I remembered that I needed to buy a baguette.  A fucking baguette.  Walked home brandishing my baguette, dressed like a character from 'Allo 'Allo.

"Pssst.  It is I, LeClerc," said some joker, as I crept past.  Everyone's a bloody comedian these days, aren't they?


So that is why I'm not a fashion and beauty blogger.  Essentially, I'd be crap at it and a complete embarrassment to myself.  Or maybe it would be inspirational for everyone else who's as hopeless at getting dressed as me.  Maybe I should actually set up a blog for it so we can all have a good old laugh at my expense and feel better about ourselves and our bad hair and bog standard walls.  Who's up for it?

Friday, 1 August 2014

Fun Games for Siblings to Play

I've been inspired by this post from Mumsnet about how siblings torture each other this week.  It made me remember my childhood with my little brother, Rob.  It also made me very glad that my son is an only child.

My brother dropped into my happy, civilized world like a scud missile when I was just short of four years old.  Unimpressed is an understatement.  I immediately set about finding ways to be mean to him that might just sneak under my parents radar.  Reading on, you might be forgiven for assuming that I was a troubled, malevolent child, but I wasn't.  I was just a pissed off big sister, and from what I can work out, it was typical sibling behaviour.  Here's some of my best games (and some of my friends best games) to play with a younger sibling.  Enjoy:

1. Spelling - Step 1: Discover that 'shit' is a naughty word that you must never ever say.  Step 2: Immediately spell it out with your one year old brother's alphabet blocks and leave it for your parents to find.  Step 3:  Blame him.  Step 4: Get massive bollocking from parents who, funnily enough, do not believe that their baby is a sweary infant prodigy.  Step 5: Cry in room and write 'Robert is a bum shit' on a bit of paper in teeny, tiny writing and hide it under the carpet, safe in the knowledge that you have still won.

2. Dares - Do this on the first day of the summer holidays while your mum's getting showered and dressed and you're supposed to be watching Why Don't You in your pyjamas.  Start small - "I dare you to put an ice cube in your pants" and the like.  Remember that you are quite safe here as younger brother is only 6 and therefore can't come up with any good dares at all.  Progress to daring him to run outside and wiggle his bare arse at next door.  Then dare him to eat a spoonful of Marmite.  He is 6 and your bitch, so he does it.  Then he vomits copiously.  Half dressed mum is apoplectic with rage and you have to stay indoors all day even though it's sunny out as punishment.

3. Jungle Torture - This one was actually my best friend's sister's game.  She used to use it to torture us when I came round for tea - probably because we were the most irritating pair of children ever to live.  It would involve us walking slowly up the stairs while she gave a running commentary and did bad stuff to us: "It is night time in the jungle," she would say as she turned the lights out.  "look out for the TROPICAL STORM" she shrieked as she emptied jugs of water over our heads.  "The giant spiders want to catch you and eat you..." (cunningly set out sellotape trap in style of cobwebs) And, "YOU ARE ABOUT TO BE ATTACKED BY WILD ANIMALS" she yelled, as she threw armfuls of teddies at us, cackling madly.  Don't know why we didn't just stay downstairs, to be honest.

4. Walkie Talkies - My parents bought Rob and I a walkie talkie set for Christmas one year in the hopes that it might foster a loving sibling bond.  I mainly used mine to inform him that he was a wanker from various hiding places.

5. Car Wars - "MUUUU-UUUUUM, HE'S ON MY SIDE." Surely anyone with more than one child must be familiar with this back seat battle cry on long car journeys?  I took to taking my school ruler with me in the car and measuring out an equal space for each of us, then using it to mark out the dividing line between the spaces.  If his elbow accidentally ventured into my territory, I kneecapped him with the ruler.  Simple concept.  Fun for all.

6. Bike stunts - This one's from my husband:  "Yeah, there was the game where we all used to make our little brothers lie down in the middle of the Close and then we'd try and jump over them on our bikes..."  He also told  me about another game, but it's unprintable.

7. Knightmare - Inspired by the amazing kids TV show of the same name, this is how Robert and I spent many a summer evening:  I'd blindfold him and put a bucket on his head (bucket essential for authenticity) and direct him around the garden.  "Walk forward...sidestep to your left...and again...and again...walk forward...bit more...bit more...(evil grin)...bit more..." until he walked straight into a thorny bush and got all tangled up in it.  Ah, the 1980s.  Such an innocent time.


I do hope you've all been inspired.  Do feel free to leave a comment with your sibling torture games below.  I'll be seeing Rob at Christmas and I'm sure he'd love to play them with me...


Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Shiny and New

This week, I've been challenged to come up with a list of things that make me feel brand new.  If you know me well, you'll know that I usually feel that old beats new every time.  I love things with history - houses, clothes, decorative bits and pieces - I like my things second hand, a bit battered and full of links to the past.  But I have to admit that sometimes there are occasions when new beats old.  On with the list:

1. New socks and pants.  Is there a better day in the calendar than New Socks and Pants day?  There is not.  Throwing out all substandard underwear and replacing it with shiny, new stuff is somehow extremely satisfying.  If only every day could be a New Pants Day.

2. A new coat of paint.  Whether it's on your walls or your furniture, it makes a massive difference.  sometimes you want a bold colour change, other times you just want to cover up what has become known as 'child ectoplasm marks' in this house (the tidemark of grubbiness that trails all the way along the wall at child hand height on the stairs).  I finally finished re-painting our kitchen chest of drawers yesterday after a month of paint stripping, sanding and swearing.  Now my friends can enter my kitchen without wondering which filthy squat I sourced my furniture from.  So that's something.


3. New bottle of wine.  Pull out the cork and savour the sound of the first "glug glug glug" as you pour it into your glass.  Need I say more?

3. A new school year.
 There's something about September that's so full of possibilities.  New uniforms, new bookbags, new teachers.  My son has a very promising looking teacher this year.  He's young, male and seems to be a lot of fun from what I've seen, so I have high hopes.  I'm also mildly apprehensive, as my husband and I have discussed at length whether we fancy him or not.  I have visions of Rory turning up on the first day and announcing that "MUMMY SAYS YOU'RE NOT HER TYPE, BUT DADDY RECKONS HE'D BE UP FOR IT IF HE WAS A WOMAN."  This will be karma as I used to get loads of these comments when I was a teacher; "MY DAD RECKONS YOUR BOOBS AREN'T REAL. WHAT DOES HE ACTUALLY MEAN?" possibly being the least appropriate.

4. New stationery.  This goes hand in hand with the new school year.  Who remembers making special trips into town at the end of the summer holidays to buy a new pencil case and a geometry set that you never used?  Better still was the year I did my PGCE.  I needed to buy ten ringbinders as a matter of necessity.  Ten.  Imagine the satisfaction.  Rory is just starting to appreciate the joys of new stationery as he's completely fixated on colouring in at the moment and has got a shiny new set of felt tips, which he's obsessed with keeping in the correct colour order in the packet.


If you are similarly afflicted with a love of new stationery, head over to the brand new Ryman Stationery website to feed your obsession, or tell them what makes you feel #brandnew.




Sponsored Post 

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

How to do the summer holidays when you're skint.

It's the last day of the school year today.  I told myself that I'd spend today doing all the little jobs and bits of housework that I won't be able to get done for the next 6 weeks.  Yeah.  Or, I could fanny about on the internet with This Morning on in the background.  I'll leave you to make your own mind up about which option I've gone for.

Now, all over Pinterest and those genuinely good parent blogs with ideas and recipes and nicely groomed children, I've been seeing summer holiday bucket lists for the last few weeks.  They're crammed full of wonderful, fun things to do and places to go to with your kids.  I say that's all very well if you a) have some money and b) you can drive.  I can't drive and a quick check of my bank account reveals that I have approx 50p to get me through to August, and the situation isn't going to improve much after that, lets be honest.  So here's how the boy and I will be spending the summer holidays:

1. Doing housework.  Kid's so bored most of the time that he thinks this is fun.  Or maybe he considers it a novelty because I do so little of it.  Anyway, he likes nothing better than whipping around the furniture with the Mr Sheen and a duster, so he can crack on with that while I make headway with the Pimms.  Yesterday, he followed me outside while I was hanging out the washing.  "If you're a really good boy, I'll show you how to peg out the washing on your own during the summer holidays", I said.  He actually hugged me.  Parenting: I have nailed it.


2. Hanging around various local parks like a pair of hobos.  "I don't care if it's raining. Get on that swing and don't get down until you've enjoyed yourself.  IT'S FREE."

3. Ditto the library.  We will be there, borrowing all the books and scouting for colouring sheets.  And thanking God that the boy is now too old for Rhyme Time, because, lets face it, Rhyme Time is shit.

4. Being in the back garden.  STOP THE PRESS: We have finally had our hazardous patio fixed.  This means that in order to get our moneys worth (because I banned Mr Disgrace from doing it after he ballsed it up last time, and paid someone to do it instead), we are going to be sitting on that fudger until November.

5. Going on nature walks. Why doesn't my child ever want to go on a nature walk?  Why?  I want to do a nature treasure hunt and make a picture out of the stuff we find and complete a tick list of insects and birds and all that jazz.  Whereas Rory's one ambition is to walk to the One Stop Shop and buy a Wham bar and an overpriced Spiderman magazine.  FFS.

6. Walking to the One Stop Shop to buy a Wham bar.  Every Day.

7. Filling in a holiday diary.  In a fit of ill-judged enthusiasm, I spent 2 quid on a scrapbook the other day, so that the small one could record all the wonderful things we're going to do over the summer (such as cleaning the toilet and walking to the One Stop).  This is only going to lead to entries such as this one in his school writing book from October half term:


Translation: "I went to Wetherspoons with Evie."  Because he did go to Wetherspoons with me and his mate, Evie and her mum (for breakfast - it was nice actually).  He also went to the theatre and an art gallery during that half term, but obviously they slipped his mind when writing up his holiday news at school.  And why not?  I mean, is there a more appropriate place to take a child than a budget pub?  Christ.  Add this piece of writing to the various other bits he wrote about me over the year ("my mummy is lovely, she has lipstick", "my mummy lets me wear her make-up" etc) and his teacher obviously has me down as a vapid, looks-obsessed trollop who doesn't let her kid stand in the way of a trip to the pub.  Would not mind but I only own ONE lipstick and it's down to the point where you have to scrape it out with your fingernail to smear it on.

8. Going to Wetherspoons.  Hey, it was such a hit last time, lets do it again.

9. Making stuff from Mister Maker's Giant Box-O-Crap.  None of which will even slightly resemble anything that Mister Maker has ever made.  In fact, most of it will look like a cereal box with one pom pom and a pipecleaner sellotaped on top.  And I will not be allowed to throw any of it out, ever.  Which is great, because what my rubbish house really needs is a load of falling apart yoghurt pot creations strewn all over it.  It will set off the shabby chic theme a treat.


10. Colouring in.  Thank God for colouring in.  Rory's obsessed with it at the moment, and I'm counting on it to get us through the rainy days.  I've been joining in too, and I tell you what - it's saving me a fortune on therapy bills.

Now, just before I go, can I please get a "HELL, YEAH" and a fist bump from the internet?  Because I've made it through the whole of the first school year without my child being late once.  Amazing.  Truly.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

THE TRUTH IS A LEMON MERINGUE: Celebrating Children's Book Week with Heinz

It's Children's Book Week this week, which we're only too happy to celebrate in the Disgrace household.  Mr Disgrace and I love reading and, fortunately, Small Disgrace seems to have inherited our book addiction and is often to be found whizzing through his school reading books or begging for a story.  He's had a bedtime story since he was a baby, and we've been through all the classics from The Very Hungry Caterpillar, through Thomas the Tank Engine (oh, that phase seemed to go on forever. I would happily have dropped a bomb on Tidmouth Sheds by the time it was over) and everything that Julia Donaldson has ever written.  He turned 5 last month and is currently very into Roald Dahl, Michael Rosen and his most recent obsession; the Mr Gum books by Andy Stanton.



We gave him the first book for his birthday and ever since then, not a day goes past without him shouting "THE TRUTH IS A LEMON MERINGUE" at every opportunity.  I only hope his teacher has read the books too, or she's going to think he's a bit strange.

Now, Heinz and Tots100 teamed up to hold a competition for Children's Book Week.  You have to use a tin of Alphabetti Spaghetti to spell out your favourite childrens book quote and photograph it.  Small decided immediately that we would have to spell out 'the truth is a lemon meringue'.  And then he informed me very indignantly that he'd never tried lemon meringue pie, and what was I going to do about this?  This is very remiss of me, as lemon meringue pie was a Sunday pudding staple in my house in the early 80s, so we set out to rectify this immediately.  Aprons on and into the kitchen...


An hour and a half and a lot of stickiness later, we had a perfect lemon meringue pie (thank you very much, flying ants, for holding off while we were baking this masterpiece).  Rory tried a piece and announced that the truth definitely is a lemon meringue.  Just as I suspected.

Then it was time to get elbow deep in Alphabetti Spaghetti while we dug out the letters to make our quote.  Here's what we came up with - what do you think?