Woman flu

Woman flu is the complete opposite of man flu. It is knocking back Lemsips like tequila slammers and cracking on with the joys of life regardless. My hubby is helpful, as guys go, but I fantasised that my mum was here hoovering; playing games with the children; cooking; decorating the house for Halloween and trick or treating in  the wind and rain with baby boulder strapped to her back (my son) – well maybe he wouldn’t be on her back. This is what I did this evening while feeling like a shivering, aching, coughing mess. I knew Mum would have insisted I sit in front of the fire like an old granny and not move a muscle. Hubby, on the other hand, regards my being ill as a nuisance in a long line of nuisances in the daily grind. He put baby boy to bed and our daughter, while I cooked. The only thing he could say when I presented to him a new ‘starter’ that I had cooked for the first time followed by jacket potato, was to complain that I had given him too much. “Have you had another Lemsip?” he snaps in annoyance at the inconvenience of my illness. I do love my husband but sometimes he can be a complete wanker.

Earlier, As my daughter, son and I went from door to door dosing up on sugar, we soon ended up in a big trick or treat crew. I had a flashing pink thing on my head that made me look like Medusa (It was effective and kept my son entertained as he played with it). One of our neighbours had really gone to town with music, an eeery path leading to somewhere not very inviting. Some of the Mums chickened out but I was up for a scare. I momentarily forgot my baby son was on my back as I made my way down the spooky passageway to a very haggard old woman standing behind a table with a tin of sweets. As I took the sweets (for my daughter) I felt hands grab my legs and screamed. As I turned to go (laughing at this point as it was only my neighbours) I came face to face with an Eminem lookalike in a white mask. I screamed again, “Dont worry about him, thats my husband” said one of the Mums. However it was unsettling as he continued to stand there not saying anything. He only unmasked momentarily to take a drag of his cigarette. As it started to rain my boy made it clear we had had enough, so with my daughter muttering that she didnt quite have enough sweets (when in fact she had more than enough) we rushed home. We had to join the queue to get in the house though as a line of trick or treaters had formed a queue patiently waiting for my grumpy husband to get his arse in gear and come up with the goods.

Once home, the doorbell was ringing more often than the Pink Windmill but it was loveky to hear my daughter chattering to all the other children at the door, who all know her by name despite being several years above her at school and even in secondary school. It gave me a comforting sense of community and that, in our experience, Halloween is another excuse for kids to get together and have fun….there is no harm in that at all (except maybe a little bit bad for their teeth).

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Cbeebies, Cweenies, Cteenies

Dear Director General of the BBC,

When you are not too busy fending off criticism from Savilegate, you may want to help us parents preserve the innocence of our children a little longer past 6 years old. Please could you replace CBBC with two channels – one for ages 5 – 10 and one for ages 11 plus (so that the channels are a bit more in keeping with what is deemed age appropriate for primary school children and secondary school children). I have a 6 year old daughter (nearly 7 as she constantly reminds me) who is too young for Cbeebies. She says, I quote, “Cbeebies is for babies” and this is a sentiment occupied by most of her contemporaries. She is, at times, too young for some programmes on CBBC. When I to and fro from the kitchen to the living room of an evening preparing dinner, I see CBBC programmes vary from Shaun the Sheep, Arthur and Scooby Doo (all fine) to Tracy Beaker, The Sarah Jane Adventures and Young Dracula, which, in my opinion, feature topic areas and life issues that should have a 12 certificate.

A friend of mine does not allow her daughter to watch CBBC and I feel I maybe should have followed suit but there are quite a few programmes on CBeebies that bore the pants off my daughter, but entertain my 11 month old son (In the Night Garden is a good example) so I feel it is difficult to find a happy medium.

I don’t remember experiencing this problem when I was a kid as there was no such thing as a children’s channel, just an age appropriate time-slot. The older kids got to watch the later programmes and the younger kids (at bed by 6 and 7pm) had their earlier slot watching the likes of He-Man and She-Ra. Saturday mornings were the best for kids TV and from memory I don’t remember programmes similar to Tracy Beaker or Young Dracula – it was more like Count Duckula, the Littlest Hobo and Rude Dog and the Dweebs.


I dont mean to be a frumpy old bag harking back to ‘the good old times’ of children’s TV but kids are growing up too quick now and I think a lot of that has got to do with poor TV scheduling. I dont have Sky, I just have freeview so my daughter relies on the BBC and CITV for her viewing and I just think these channels have lost their way a bit and need to do some market research with kids and parents to sort out their scheduling and the types of programmes they air.

Rant over!

(as for TV past watershed, If, like me, you dont like talent contests, period dramas and reality shows, then you are fucked…..in fact I dont even know why I am  paying my licence).

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London calling….

First day of half-term and…..deep breath…..embarked on an expedition to the Museum of London with baby and buggy in tow and 2 of my daughter’s ‘boyfriends’ aged 6 and 4 (not on my own I hasten to add – their Mum was with me). It would be best summarised as a crash course in crowd control and how to assemble and disassemble a child’s buggy in seconds while being elbowed at all angles by commuters trying to get on the escalator and on the tube. At times I wished (for ease) that my baby would just collapse down with the buggy too and then just spring back again once the narrow passageway/ stairs or escalator had been successfully negotiated….’flatpack baby’.

I also got a tiny glimpse into what it is like to be in a wheelchair. Everyone else takes the quick and easy route but you are the one ‘token’ person that uses the ramp or lift that takes an age to get to, no doubt cost a fortune to install and made a lot of builders grumble when constructing it. You then re-enter non-wheeled society at a meeting point that took them seconds to get to whereas it took you at least 5 minutes. The most ridiculous excursion was the lift to get from the platform to the footbridge and then back down again. My baby boy found it fun though. I lost count of the number of times I heard a female robotic voice today saying ‘going up’…..’going down’….’going up’….’going down’. I wouldn’t mind if you got an orgasm somewhere in the middle of this pattern to break the monotony.

Baby changing tends to be combined with disabled toilets, which is another interesting combination. It attempts to be all things to all people but of course the design of it fails. The baby change unit was miles away from the nappy bin, which was located next to the disabled toilet. I couldn’t leave my baby’s side while he was on the change unit so lobbed the used nappy over to the bin at the other end of the room by the loo and was pleased when I hit goal. As I reached to get something from the buggy I set the hand dryer off, all the while keeping one hand on my baby’s tummy to stop him rolling off.

The big kids were fun too. Oblivious to the traffic streaking through the city they cavorted around on the busy pavements tripping up grumpy London commuters and making myself and my friend holler like a pair of old fishwives. We finally breathed a sigh of relief when we got onto embankment, away from the roads and then we could let them run free like a pack of dogs safe in the knowledge that they wouldn’t get squashed. The youngest (aged 4) was interesting in an entertaining way. If he didn’t like where you were heading he just froze to the spot so that my friend had to do some serious negotiating to get him moving again. When we were at St Paul’s he then refused to walk over the cracks in the pavement so all hopes of getting to Waterloo station before night-fall evaporated.

London never fails to entertain and the best observations dont cost a penny. A police boat zooming at break-neck speed along the Thames followed by the RNLI captured the kids attention as they walked along the river. They danced to the eclectic tune of an Eastern European busking band as we walked along an underpass and discovered MC Hammer after watching some seriously cool break-dancing near the London Eye.

The Museum of London, like all museums in the city, is free to enter. It was brilliant and displays the amazing history from the capital’s Roman origins under the guise of ‘Londinium’ through to the bubonic plague, the great fire (the current project theme at my daughter’s school) and of course, the WW 2 blitz with very moving accounts of people who lost loved ones. As you watch the films of the devastation, suspended above your head is a replica of the dreaded doodlebug bomb. The city’s heritage is rich.

As night fell on London, it felt like the Olympic games had never happened because, regardless of what cultural event moves in and out of the city, there will always be buskers, beggars, skateboarders, break dancers, traffic, grumpy commuters and cracks in the pavement. Its a city for everyone.

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I blame it on lack of sleep..

After ranting yesterday about my wallet going walkabout, what did I find this afternoon….Yes you guessed it. In a hoovering frenzy, I bent down to pick up my daughter’s PE kit and there it was sitting on top. What the fuck was it doing there?

After school pick-up I feel I need a pack horse to transport the amount of luggage I accumlate from the car to the house. Friday was particularly bad because it was half-term (hence the PE bag) plus I had the usual baby bag and a load of shopping. I just didn’t have enough hands. So, I decided in my wisdom to consolidate everything – hence my wallet ending up in the PE kit. As I was doing this I was thinking at the time “I must remember that I have put this stuff in the PE bag”.

A night of next to no sleep put paid to any hope of remembering anything apart from my name on Saturday. I must have walked past her bright pink PE bag a dozen times while I frantically searched everywhere for the wallet and then got busy cancelling a card that was sat in my corridor inches away. GRRRR how frustrating. Its gonna take 5 – 7 days for my replacement card to come through at a time when I really need it for half term. At least days out will be restricted to a budget as I will have no other means of payment except cash.

I also wasted at least 10 minutes of my life getting a librarian to issue new cards – double GRRRRR. Is it possible to get alzheimers in your thirties. If not maybe I will be the youngest sufferer ever.

It really is worrying how lack of sleep can affect your brain’s ability to process simple tasks. Not long after I had my first child, I was sat in my car at a roundabout for what seemed like half an hour trying to recollect the rules on who gives way to who. I could actually feel my brain trying to find the right card in the neurological equivalent of a rolodex. It was having trouble locating the card marked ‘passed driving test 1997’ – it felt like hold music should be playing – either that or the engaged tone. All of this delayed thinking was interrupted by a car horn behind me. To which I flicked the international sign for go fuck yourself and decided to wait even longer just to piss him off. Its not the ‘baby on board’ sign that should be put on display in a car, it should be ‘Caution: sleep deprived mum behind the wheel, back the fuck off’.

Anyway I am delighted to be reunited with the my wallet even though it hadn’t travelled far. It felt like I had lost a limb, I felt temporarily disorientated when I couldnt find it. We all do the ‘keys, wallet, phone’ check when we leave the house and it is very difficult to leave the house minus one of these items (particularly your keys…duh). It knocked me out of kilter for the rest of the day ( particularly as I had lost my brain too).

I am looking forward to a time when your phone, keys and wallet will be replaced by, say, one of your fingers and that all you will need to pay for an item/ unlock a car/ call someone is your fingerprint. I think that was in a film – although I can’t remember which one? (surprise, surprise).

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Trick after oodles of treats

So today I shouldn’t have got out of bed. After crawling into bed at 1am after my son’s all-night party (not bad for 10 months) I decided to adopt the ‘controlled crying’ method and leave it for 15 minutes for going in to settle him. I looked at the clock and planned to go in once the 15 mins had passed – I never got to that stage. Either it worked and he settled himself or my body just passed out. Not for long though because it was party time again between 4 and 6am. The reason? Another cold and lots of coughing poor chap.

So I got up after feeling I had never really been asleep and embarked on the Saturday morning routine of preparing for my daughter’s trip to Saturday Theatre school. I pack the change bag for my baby boy, check I have enough money for the car parking and….wait…where’s my wallet? Once you have checked all the usual areas panic starts to set in. Time was running out and I still couldn’t find my wallet. Like most women (I believe) I keep lots in my wallet so its a right pain in the arse if it gets lost or stolen.

After dropping my daughter off I realise that I have indeed lost it – great this is my Halloween ‘trick’. The only place I could think of where it may have gone astray was a playzone about 40 mins drive. I called it and they checked for me to no avail. So either someone found it and scarpered with all my loose change or it is still lying undiscovered somewhere. It’s my fault. So determined am I to cram everything I need into one bulging change bag that some things end up balancing precariously on top of the bag.

So debit card cancelled, no means of topping up my mobile so cant make calls (even though I topped up a few days ago but a few calls to 118 118 drained me.) The only other thing I considered important was my library cards so have ordered replacements. I have learnt the hard way over the decades not to put anything valuable in your wallet (or anything that is a pain in the arse to replace). I have lost count of how many wallets I have lost in various different scenarios:
– putting my wallet on a burger king tray and then tipping the entire contents of the tray in the bin
– paying for a wurlitzer ride while the gypo spins me and my friends around (clever tactic as my wallet flies out of my hand…..no doubt into the hands of another gypo).
– stolen at least twice

The day finished with a Halloween party in my village for the kids which turned out to be a great (but cold evening). Best competition had to be challenging the kids to eat doughnuts without licking their lips. I didnt win the pumpkin carving competition though – despite drawing the crowds of kids with a row of Cadburys Screme eggs jammed in its mouth.

Trick or treat I love Halloween.

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She’s a perfect 10 – but she wears a 12

…baby keep a little 2 for me (Beautiful South lyrics, in case you are too young or too old to remember!). The theme for today’s post after a week of chocolate guzzling followed by starve and swim (I could create a new fad diet) is… body image.

Earlier while enjoying an M&S ‘dine in for £10’ meal (slightly more upmarket than a Mcdonalds Happy Meal – it really is great value though main meal, side dish, dessert and bottle of wine for a tenner) my husband commented on the new shape of Christina Aguilera. “You remember Christina used to be rifle thin”, “Yeeees…” (I reply with what might be detected as excitement at the thought that a well-known celeb may be…..big dramatic pause followed by drum roll…FAT!) “Well she’s huuuge now” (he said while making the same gesticulations he uses when describing a very large and old tree trunk – he is a tree surgeon hence the above average regularity of discussions about tree trunks in our house). He brought up some crap story where a journo with nothing better to do had listed a before and after shot of Christina (The journo isnt that stupid as I couldn’t resist the temptation to scroll down and measure the accuracy of my husband’s decription). See The Sun story.

I have to say she looked stunning. I said “She’s not fat she’s curvy in a very Marilyn Monroe-esque kind of way”. At which point my husband detects that he may be stepping on to dodgy territory and quickly backpedalled fast, “Yes she’s curvy, just right…that’s what all women should be like……dont know what they’re going on about.” At which point I did a Marge Simpson impression “Hmmmmm” while staring at him. He then (rather cleverly) changed the subject by saying, “Do you think I am getting fat?” (My husband is the kind of guy that has to hunt for fat to pinch – yet eats chocolate and crisps almost every time he pulls into a garage for fuel – NOT FAIR.)

Back to body image, Lady Ga Ga recently made a stand against comments on her weight by posing semi-naked at all angles so people could judge for themselves (See Sun story …yes The Sun again!) Its sad that celebrity women feel the need to do this – damned if your thin and damned if your fat. The same is true walking along the street – women are their own worse critics. I would just like to say that this is getting fucking boring. If you are technically obese then yeah you may want to cut back on food for a while. If you get short of breath getting to the top of your stairs, then you might need to work out a little, but other than that JUST LET IT DROP…. ……. …. But in reality….

It is not possible for me to get up in the morning without checking my reflection (mainly my butt) to see if it has ‘grown’ a little overnight. How sad is that?

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I stopped at Ten

Yes I cracked and munched and munched until I got to ten and then my willpower eventually kicked in. Time of the month is approaching. Skin ain’t good, feel crap about my body and I find myself returning to Paul Walker’s website to drool and find out what films are coming up.

I stopped following him on Twitter a year ago, when I discovered that he had got a bunch of admin staff to do his tweets for him. He has obviously realised the error of his ways as @RealPaulWalker has tweets straight from the horse’s mouth along with re-tweets from Twitter accounts with beautiful profiles (surprise surprise). I am excited that another Fast and Furious film (6) is in the making. I am also a bit miffed I found out so late in the day – filming in London, of all places, finished last month. So hopefully it will be in cinemas by next Spring.

There is a good clip behind the scenes of F & F which is a bit of a giggle – http://www.mobli.com/tyrese/14800837/pray-for-there-was-a-shooting-on-the-set-of-fast6

Expect more car porn, boob porn and boy porn – I hope its good but can they really pull it off again for the 6th time??

Short one today because I am a tad knackered. I also had a swim earlier to repent my chocolate guzzling behaviour and it felt good. Also makes me feel a bit sleepy in a kind of post coital way.

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Hurry up Halloween!

Every third week in the month I have a mad chocolate addiction. The week preceding my period (sorry guys) is the week when my body has a hunger that can only be satisfied by guzzling copius amounts of chocolate, particularly Cadburys. It has to be done and I hate doing it because I am convinced I can feel my body start to wobble as fat is applied for every ounce of chocolate I consume. My response is to not eat much else in an effort to restrict my calorie intake – healthy I am not.

This dreadful week clashes disastrously with preparations for Halloween. We take it very seriously in our village to the extent that, for one night of the year only, it is our job to feed every single kid in the village with sweets (I don’t think anyone has a proper dinner on All Hallows Day or whatever the ‘official’ title is).

So, I take advantage of the special offer that seems to be repeated every shop you set foot in “Only £5 for a tin of Celebrations/ Roses/ Heroes or Quality Street” (I would be interested to know if this deal is available all over the UK as well as the South East) Every year this deal seems to coincide with the run up to Halloween and Christmas. Its almost as if there is a national crisis of surplus chocolate that needs to be disposed of before the New Year – kind of like a chocolate harvest.

I bought a tin, took it home and put it in the top cupboard. I can still reach the top cupboard by standing on tippitoes so I don’t know what I am achieving by putting sweets and chocolates there. At least I have to slightly stretch my midriff every time I grab a treat for myself or the kids.

The tin started talking to me form the cupboard and before long my will power cracked and ravaged the tin. I can’t just have one or two or three – I eat them so quick I lose count. Maybe there is a slight pause, but not enough of one. So, I endeavoured to buy another tin the next day that I WOULD NOT open (It is important to add that tin number 1 still had quite a lot of sweets in it – I am not a complete glutton). So, while filling up with diesel (and checking out the police bike cop filling up at the next pump….although he didnt take his helmet off so a bit tricky…..plus I thought it was illegal to keep your helmet on when walking into the shop…..guess its ok for a cop)

I purchased another tin and congratulated myself on not going anywhere near it on the way to work. It was on the way back that proved a problem “open me” tin said. I’m afraid I did although paced myself a bit this time – just had a few….they were tiny sweets anyway.. I felt better by telling myself that if i strung all the sweets that I had just eaten together they wouldn’t even make up the size of one cadburys dairy milk bar.

So now both tins are in the top cupboard with slightly depleted quantities and I am going to test my willpower by saying no more. If I crack, I will tally up each sweet and keep a record of it on this blog as we count down to Halloween (a bit like Bridget Jones and her daily record of calories consumed and cigarettes puffed).

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Thanks for reading. (Whoops – all this talk of chocolate has given me an appetite – 1,2,3,4,5……)


Planning and Poetry

Last night I promised an update on our little village’s planning saga following my husband’s return from the meeting in the Church. All sounds a little bit ‘Vicar of Dibley’ with a packed church of NIMBYs wanting a say in where 100 houses should be located. Everyone was given a pair of dots (green for yes and ….. yes you guessed it…..red for no). They then placed these dots on a map of the village.

We are self confessed NIMBYs. We back onto a field with uninterrupted views of the countryside and lots of sky – we are very lucky considering our heavily populated island. Forgive us, therefore, for wanting to preserve the bit of green out back. We also live on a council estate, one of three estates in a small area (hard to imagine isn’t it?) One the one side there are lots of fairly ugly post-war houses built to accomodate families bombed out of London. On the other rolling fields, trees, a bit of a wasteland/ hunting ground for owls and buzzards and the odd pylon. This field, like many others surrounding our village, is owned by developers keen to cash in on the local authority target to build 100 houses in the area over the next 5 years.

At the meeting a lot of red dots were placed on the field near us. However, there were a few red dots on the other option. I don’t envy the people trying to put together this ‘neighbourhood plan’ as you can’t keep everyone happy. What I resent is the short-termist thinking of our successive governments. For example, two schools in neighbouring villages were closed down in the past decade. Yet within the past few years, more and more families have moved into the area following an increase in housing. What a surprise, the schools are now oversubscribed and class sizes are bloated as a result. Doh! They seem to think its OK to dump housing down like they are playing The Sims with no thought on infrastrcuture.

Anyway it looks likely that the conclusion will work in our favour. The council don’t like putting social housing amongst existing social housing developments for fear of creating a ‘ghetto’ (“Too many low income people in one area is bound to cause trouble darling”). Snobs in the village, however, prefer it that way – “at least we can keep an eye on them when they are all together, God forbid we have a mixed population across the village”. Yes the class divide is still as strong as it ever was in Great Britain – particularly in the rural South-East. I will let you know the result…

Changing the subject completely, I aim to get my daughter in bed by 7pm. I could count on one hand how many times I have managed to achieve this during the Autumn term, in fact, the whole year. Tonight she was a ball of enthusiasm and did  everything she was asked without any protest (thanks to some harsh words about her behaviour last week). After completing some work on maths and English (we bought those books that ‘support’ the curriculum at home) she started talking about poetry writing, as her class is currently learning about poetry. The subject is the great fire of London and they are learning about adjectives to use in their poems. Lots of sparking and igniting going on. My daughter said she was struggling a bit and I wanted to help her out before school the following day (although it was 7.30pm already so bang goes the rule on bed by 7pm). I dug out one of my old poetry books in the hope that she would be inspired by poems such as The Jabberwocky by CS Lewis and The Listeners by Walter de la Mare (I think!). She was engrossed and then started writing a couple of lines herself about fire. I was amazed how it quickly went off on a tangent about poos and loos but she was enjoying herself so if toilet humour gets her inspired so be it.

It made me wish I had appreciated my school days more, because in my case, once you have analysed and assessed the text for an exam, it is rare that you pick it up again for pleasure. If I returned to the classroom now I would have enjoyed the experience so much more. But Im glad my daughter is enjoying school….I think it has come along way since the state system in the 80s and 90s. I just hope Michael Gove doesn’t cock things up again – I don’t believe the Torys have a good track record when it comes to education.

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Shameless Shoplifting

We don’t look like the Shameless family you see on Channel Four. We are probably a couple of notches above them on the Great British social ladder. However, I have to confess to some shameless shoplifting today.

I was in the delightful Waitrose (the supermarket of choice for the Duchess of Cambridge who has been spotted exiting Waitrose). I am no princess and it is rare for me to set foot in Waitrose. The only reason is because I need biodegradable nappies and Waitrose are the only supermarket in our area that stocks them. My preferred supermarket, Tescos, do not stock them and have recently ceased online sales too. Why?

Most supermarkets encourage you to use your own bags or purchase a ‘bag for life’ hessian thingymijig’ to ‘save the planet’. If, God forbid, you forget your re-usable bags you have to request plastic ones and the cashier usually makes you feel very guilty about this. So its OK to use, on average, 5 ‘pampers’ or ‘huggies’ nappies per day each taking 100 years to bio-degrade thus clogging up the landfill sites significantly but its not OK to use, on average, 5 plastic carrier bags every week, that take much less time to degrade? Every child that uses a disposable nappy until they are potty trained generates (roughly) 3650 nappies – how many children are in the UK? Therefore how many nappies need to be buried in landfill? – you do the maths. So Tescos, Co-op, Asda, Morrisons, Boots, Superdrug – if you are serious about the environment then START STOCKING BIODEGRADABLE NAPPIES!!!! Pampers and Huggies – please spend less time coming up with pretty pictures and union jack flags on your nappies and more time looking into getting rid of all the plastics that take so bloody long to degrade – its not difficult is it?

Sainsburys have come up with their own brand of biodegradeable nappy and I recommend as well as Naty nappies.

Now I have climbed down from my soapbox and I have explained why I was in Waitrose, I will finish the story. I put a few more items into the basket (fruit, couple of ingredients for supper, trick or treat sweets, kids biscuits and a couple of toiletries). When I got to the till it came to £50 – for 2 shopping bags!! I sighed and reluctantly handed over my card. My bank were even more reluctant to pay the bill and after the 2nd DECLINED slip spewed out of the till the cashier recommended that I go to the bank and check I had enough money in the account (how very kind of him to offer me advice). He also asked if I had another card but I am not in the habit of using credit cards so that was not an option. Yes was extremely embarrassed and felt the whole of the shop staring at me (maybe they weren’t but it felt like that). An assistant took my bags away and said that she would keep them for me until I returned at which point I just wanted to get out of that bloody shop and fast. I glanced down at my baby boy who was completely oblivious to the shenanigans. As I was leaving, I noticed that he was chewing on the baby shampoo bottle that I gave him earlier to keep him amused but forgot to put it on the conveyor belt. Now, here’s the shameless bit. For a nanosecond I thought of turning around and returning it, but I thought Fuck it! I felt a little bit guilty about it (but also a little bit good). What a bad mother to encourage her 10 month old son to shoplift.

On another note, My husband has just come back from a village meeting to discuss a neighbourhood plan so that local residents have a say in the location and planning of future housing. Will talk about that in my next post.

I am blogging every day for Unicef. To support my campaign, please visist the Unicef fundraising website.