Sunday, 27 January 2013


Selling our flat has been a rather push-me pull-you undertaking, one that has involved the wrong paint, a brand new rug and dog poo...

The long winding road to SOLD began during the initial weeks and months of 2012; every room, crack and crevice was cleared of clutter - including a rather dusty 1970's coffee percolator - then shipped, and dumped in bungalow-sized containers labelled 'glass', 'plastic', 'cardboard', 'clothes'. The percolator was abandoned on a wobbly trestle table in the rain. I hope it found shelter in an antique shop, made good and over priced for resale, or now proudly displayed in a museum cabinet of note. Sadly, it's probably rubbing shoulders with soiled nappies and rusted spoons in landfill.

Then things went quiet....

June. The porch and path were re-tiled, and a brand new front door fitted and painted - I'd chosen a medium teal but an altogether different colour was mixed, applied, and our street - every other door a blue, red, or black - had to contend with a brilliant lilac entrance. As anyone - potential buyers, the postman - would run a mile from a door that remotely resembled the portal to Justin's House, I requested, nay demanded, that the builders repaint it. This time, it was coated in a-sort-of-teal-but-really-it's-blue colour. Why can't paint shops mix the correct shade?

Then it went quiet again....

October. The boiler stopped working. Once. And. For. All. There was no way a potential buyer would accept the old boy in its current stuttering state. Hands in pockets, a new boiler was grudgingly purchased. But hey, we had a warm home, viewers would be flocking in (or not) from the cold.

A brief pause....

Last week of November. In a freak flurry of spontaneity, we viewed a few properties that needed some work, placing an offer - after a second viewing - on a light, spacious three bedroom home we really felt drawn to. But our flat wasn't yet on the market. So the local estate agent was promptly ushered and hastily instructed.

Now we were rolling....

December. In one week shelves and spots were removed from walls, files and books boxed, carpets cleaned and the lounge, kitchen and Little A's bedroom repainted in neutral colours - not a whiff of lilac in sight. A feature wall of duck egg blue and cream flowers was added to detract from the rigorous amount of caramel brown in our bedroom. I dressed our bed properly with throws and cushions, and purchased a green rug - brightly woven with caterpillars and carrots, and according to Little A, a cabbage girl - for Little A's bedroom floor.

And our home was ready for sale.

No pause.

January. The first three Saturdays in January were spent foraging for a new burrow in Croxley Green and Rickmansworth. Our highest tally, I think, was nine viewings in one day. The offer on the home we had our hearts set on fell through in a very dishonest way. Post major disappointment, and to add injury to insult, the very same agent showed us around another property where I had an accident involving a ladder (said estate agent is now being sued). Back at our place, viewers arrived in all shapes and sizes; couples, single men, retired women, parents hunting for an investment, and the guy who wanted to construct a dubious ramp for his feline friend from Little A's bedroom window...

Then, last weekend, when we thought we'd exhausted our search, we inspected a home that had just come on the market at a great, within budget, price. It was proportioned well enough and had potential for an attic conversion and extension at the back. Younger Dad and I made knowing eye contact - it was the one - and without hesitation, made an offer there and then. No second viewings, we wanted this property. The very same day our estate agent phoned with a decent offer on our flat. On Monday morning we accepted, and that afternoon our offer was accepted too...... sometimes, things really do happen for a reason. (the chain, only small, had better not fall though).

And that was that. SOLD, subject to contract.

And the dog poo? Well don't tell Younger Dad, but after a viewing, I found a nasty brown smear on our hallway carpet. So much for the shoes off policy.... yuk.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Rude Word

It happened a little over a week ago. Little A was having some quiet time in her cot. I was slouched sloth-like on the nearby futon - the cover in dire need of a clean (toothpaste gets everywhere) - reading a book and trying to ignore the fact that the passing time was anything but peaceful. This was noisy time...

So Little A was role playing with an assortment of in-house cot teddies... There's Mother and Father and Kitty Cat and Rowena. It's the game she usually plays, and I give her cursory glances as I turn the pages of my novel, settling into the thread of the plot as my daughter mediates a dispute between her furry family....

"Be quiet you silly buggers!" 

Now that word commands my attention. I sit up, decidedly unsloth-like, alert as a meerkat, shocked at the words spilling forth from Rowena's stitched mouth.

"Pardon? What did you just say?"

"Be quiet you silly buggers."

"We don't say the word bugger. Where did you learn it from?"

"Saffron at nursery said it."

"I don't think she did. That's not a nice word."

"Silly buggers. Silly buggers. Silly buggers."

"Little A, I'm warning you..."

"Are you going to put me on the thinking cushion mummy?" She asks, her eyes goading, full of mischief.

"Don't tempt me Little A," as I wrestle every muscle intent on pulling 'the poker face' into a smile. This, I realise with eagle eyed clarity, is when a mother undoubtedly needs botox.

I'm treading on a knife's edge here. I mustn't laugh. I cannot collude with the rapscallion's behaviour. Secretly though, I'm on her side. This is hilarious. I love the way she articulates bugger with such phonetic roundness. And where did she learn it from? Not me surely? Soap hasn't been within an inch of my mouth apart from the aftermath of the ladder incident - but that was just a one off, a rogue island amidst a daily sea of well mannered diction...(honestly)



And after a tearful stint on the cushion that-must-not-be-named, Little A apologises for her rueful choice of words. And then there was no more of that word. 

Until yesterday teatime...

Little A was playing witches and mermaids with a plastic IKEA knife and fork as I finished the scraps from her sheep-cow-pig themed plastic plate.

"Silly buggers," she mutters under her breath.

"Er, Little A, what did you say?"

"It wasn't me mummy, it was the sea witch."

"Really? I didn't think forks could talk."

"And it was my little finger too," waggling a small digit at me.

Little A smiles at her cleverness, her fait accompli at having accused both a fork and a finger of language most foul.

And I am stumped.

Do I draw attention to her words and make a meal out of it with sessions on the thinking cushion? Or do I just ignore it?

Calling upon all mothers, how do you handle the situation if your wee innocent bairn swears?  

I apologise for the language used in this post, it was Little A, not me. I have since added soap to the shopping list. And Younger Dad thinks she may have picked up that word from Granny of all people - Cussons for her next Christmas....

Monday, 14 January 2013

NEVER Trust Estate Agents

"Would you like to view the boarded out area in the loft?"


"I'll just lower the ladder then..."

Bernard, the estate agent, opens the attic door and lowers the ladder into position. No one checks to see whether the joints have correctly secured in place, it is presumed the ladder is solid, fit for ascending into the headier regions of this home. Besides, as Bernard reminds with vexing salesmanship, there's already been a steady stream of potential buyers who've safely climbed into the roof.

This attic has been partially converted. From the floor, I can make out wooden beams and storage space and a lone, high wattage strip light. I place one trainer on the first rung, gripping the frame with both hands. Behind me, a concerned little voice makes its self heard...

"Be careful climbing up the ladder mummy."

"Don't worry, she's absolutely fine," Younger Dad says reassuring Little A.

One foot in front of the other, pulling myself up, neck craning, the loft interior reveals its secrets rung by rung; I can see more storage alcoves and the angled crossing of beams.

I reach the middle.Then. SNAP. The ladder collapses in two. Without any time to comprehend what is happening, I fall to the floor landing on my back, banging my head against a cupboard. But it's my left leg that takes the brunt - it's entangled in the fallen heap of metal. Apart from a faint hint of the prickly electricity of pins and needles, my lower leg is numb from the knee down. Later, Younger Dad tells me how my left leg shot forwards through a rung as the ladder gave.

Shock. Total shock.


...And then the tears. Big, fat distressed tears.

The ladder is promptly removed. Bernard is frozen, pale-faced. Little A cuddles my shoulder as I writhe, clutching my left leg, on the in-need-of-a-serious-rinsing cream carpet. Younger Dad is worryingly asking where it's hurting, he thinks I've damaged my back.

But I'm quite oblivious to the caring attentions of Little A and Younger Dad. My eyes are focused on the black coat and white mop of Bernard. If it wasn't for the fact that I'm currently horizontal, I might have given into a visceral urge to return him a left hook. But of course, I don't - I couldn't - my exterior is far too polite for such a gut response. I imagine clocking his expressionless face one instead.

Sensation eventually reignites my left calf. With adrenalin flooding every cell, I'm able to stand. On both legs. Phew. Nothing broken. Bernard offers a tepid mug of tap water, muttering some kind of apology. And then? In the best of British, we carry on with the viewing. I'm not keen on the downstairs living space, the rooms lack the fluidity required for a family of three. And the pencil thin garden? Well where exactly would we fit a swing?

When we leave Bernard behind, the tears reappear with amplified flurry. I feel strangely embarrassed by the accident, the kind of humiliation I might have felt if I'd publicly fainted. I'm clearly still in shock. I've also decided that Bernard is plain bad luck - this is the second viewing with him, the first - another house we loved, placed an offer on but consequently lost - left a bitter taste on our tongues; Bernard, with the slipperiness of a blackened banana skin, wasn't the slightest bit transparent as to the sold or not sold status of this-much-desired property - he kept us hanging on for over a month....until he finally mentioned in passing that it'd gone to the vendor we were competing with, the one with no chain.


At home, the adrenal glands abate, leaving pain and swelling in their wake. When I sit down, my coccyx reminds me where I fell on my back, the purple blue hues of bruising appear above the knee, my calf and foot are stiff - ligaments and muscle feeling very hard done by. Pain killers are promptly administered.

As I say goodnight to Little A, she advises me with the straightforward concern of a doctor who's seen it all before, 'not to hop on my left leg.'

The following morning I'm invited to play a game she's named estate agent dragon.

I politely decline, offering TV instead.

Linking up with The Monday Club.


Thursday, 10 January 2013

Finding The Feminine

There are malignant forces that claw and trap and rebel. Forces that disturb a primary necessity to flourish and protect and flow.

I am sat in the rotting boughs of an old sycamore tree in the back garden of my family home. The branches bend like the brittle arms of old men, imprisoning me in a cell of flaking bark. I wrestle, kicking myself free from the strangle hold of taut wooden knots. Outside, nature wages tyrannical war on the people. Many fall into a waking sleep, aligned with the dark side, united by a physical mark on the right wrist - a black, etched symbol of a sagging web that faintly resembles a shuttle cock resting on its side.

Over the fence, there are a handful of chosen women - a small army of Macbeth witches, of which I am one - our quest to unite and liberate the earth from this unnatural invasion. I am able to fly possessing a strength that enables me to save an untouched rabble who hold onto each others limbs as I head our misfit squadron through claret soaked skies. When we land some are seduced, physically taken and branded by the zombie army. A wise woman instructs on the whereabouts of the last remaining openings unsullied by the enveloping darkness - these are sacred pit stops hidden beneath the soil and clay where I must refuel, bathing in restorative golden energy, before joining the other witches in a final bid to rescue the planet.....

And this, would you believe it, was a vivid dream I had two days before the New Year, a culmination of days and days of sleeping and resting and sleeping and eating. The fact that I was also reading Caitlin Moran's HOW TO BE A WOMAN may have filtered into my unconscious, influencing the nocturnal landscape. But this dream has set the tone for this year.... and my personal quest is a search for, nay recovery, of the feminine. Two years after battling with birth trauma, I still haven't become fully re-acquainted with my physical self, a large part of my psyche remains floating in thought. With the sharp force of a revolutionary guillotine, Little A's birth severed any meaningful connection between my mind and body.

So 2013 is the year of the feminine.

But what do I mean by that? Well for one, ripping up the to-do lists, letting myself off the hook, being more in-the-moment, resisting the urge to put myself through the mincer of achievement, allowing vulnerability a voice, treating my still-in-shock body with a lot more reverence - which can only mean plenty of bubble infused baths; I think I'll save the downward dogs and detox for a later date.  

I really want this year to be as ungoaled as it can be, although I do have two aims up my sleeve which are an extension of 2013's big theme...

THE NOVEL. I would really love to complete a first draft of my adventure into lengthy fiction this year but if this doesn't happen, so be it. Life should be about contentment not pressure. FOUR GIGS - that's the novel - will swim in the dynamics of female relationships and sexuality. Anyway, as writing it will surely be a fascinating process, I've begun a new blog, FOUR GIGS, to track my progress - I felt I needed a separate space, one where I can really vent my frustrations - I don't really swear on this blog - I need a place for expressing a lexicon of words like gosh, crumbs, oh bother, drat and double drat!

BREATHING. Yes, that simple act of inhaling and exhaling. Re-learning to breathe properly is a sure fire way to fully inhabiting my limbs again, and effectively managing in-the-red stress levels - I am moving this year after all. I have always been by default a shallow breather - made worse by Little A's birth - plus I'm mildly asthmatic, so becoming very aware of my breath should help lay a solid foundation for building the rest of my well being on. In fact, it was Older Single Mum's fabulous new blog The Healer which gave me the nudge, the impetus to befriend oxygen again.

Let 2013 be lazy and full of cake!

Interpretations on my dream are most welcome....  

Monday, 7 January 2013

100 Word Challenge - Slapped

I found Charlotte doubled over next to a grave coating humiliated snowdrops in sticky bile, thick yellow drool hanging from her pale bottom lip.

"Char, what is it? You okay?"

She placed both hands on her stomach, cautiously straightening her back.

"Chrissy, got a tissue?"

"Here. Have this."

 A chilly gust slapped my cheek as Charlotte wiped her mouth.

"Chrissy, I can't keep it in any longer, I have to go to the police."

"WHAT? You said you'd do WHAT?"

"Found it so hard to tell you Chrissy."

"Tell me what?"

"I WAS THERE when he threw himself on the tracks."

A chilly gust smacked my other cheek.

I'm linking up with JB47's 100 Word Challenge. This week's prompt was... You said you'd do WHAT? ...

This is part of a wider story. You can read the other instalments in the series here.

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