Wobbling the right muscles and jangling outdated British culture

I have been walking like a cross between John Thaw and John Wayne today after having strained muscles right the way down my right hand-side trying to get my new bike on its centre-stand. I struggled to even pass various bits and pieces from the front car seat to baby boy sat behind me because of all the twinges (the usual back seat demands…..Mummy I’m thirsty, Mummy I’m hungry….I can’t find my toy car aaahhh!). Of all muscles, my right hand side is not the place that needs ‘work’. What will it take to pull muscles in my thighs and buttocks? That’s the bit that really needs some tightening, as emphasised when I ran to the bank (to pay in a cheque) while my husband sat on double yellows …. Running is a great way of focusing attention on the wobbly bits because they can’t help but wobble. I am not a runner, so wonder if I started, would my wobbly bits eventually Wobble off? It’s worth a try…

Daughter is at a sleepover today at a friend’s gorgeous house…..however they are camping in the garden. Her Husband makes his money selling billion dollar floating gin palaces, so they have lots of nice stuff. They are Canadian, so they are friendly and talk to us and are happy for our daughter to socialise with theirs. (apologies to any wealthy British families I am about to offend by this statement, but…..) I have yet to meet a wealthy British family who are happy to socialise with a family whose joint income is less than a child’s private school bill. But Canadians (and many other nationalities for that matter) are completely unaware of our ridiculous class system and, as a result, do not uphold the unofficial screening process before commencing friendship (house, car, schooling, accent). 

Us Brits could learn a lot from other countries, Nigel Farage take note.

This blog is for UNICEF.

Thanks for reading. 

Motivating a mule, marvelling at Mazda

Still struggling with the education battle. I want to look round an alternative school, hubby doesn’t. I wonder what it will take for him to consider other options, it’s got to the stage where I am actually willing bad shit to happen at the school to prompt him to grant his permission. I mentioned this to Mum and she commented that I was not the only woman in history that thinks up an idea and then has to wait for the man to adopt and claim the idea as his own before proceeding further, until then they are as stubborn as a mule with its feet set in concrete…..gaa! why do we have to dance to these male tunes all the time – drives me crazy ( and is very bad for my libido). I am one week away from growing armpit hair and burning my tiny bras – although not sure what that would achieve, but you get my drift.

As usual I am seeking solace in a book, this time it is a chance discovery in the school pta shed (I claimed it as a perk of volunteering – so did baby boy, who found a Boeing 737 toy going spare). The book is called ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ by Elizabeth Gilbert. It has sold over 6 million copies and is recommended by critics and celebs alike. Although sometimes I want to slap the author round the face and say ‘pull yourself together!’, I enjoy reading her travelling experiences (particularly as I am not well travelled) and the times when she broke down in tears on the bathroom floor (because it’s nice to know you are not the only one who loses it…..except I like to be in a slightly comfier situation). So if you want to read how one woman heals her wounded soul from the dents absorbed by pressured western life and a series of less than ideal relationships, then look no further.

If an alien had looked at our school this morning, it would have seen all the children and teachers looking up at the sky as if searching for something while clutching taped together cereal packets. After a few minutes of this, everyone walked back into the classroom – very bizarre behaviour indeed! The only way I knew something had happened was when my car lights automatically switched on as they would at dusk. While pupils were measuring temperature drops and deciphering bird movements, my good old Mazda was proof the eclipse had happened despite the sky being as thick as pea soup in clouds.

This blog is for UNICEF.

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Free the robots

It is 10pm and I have baby boy sat next to me chattering away about superheroes, monsters and dinosaurs. He has a cold that is particularly snotty and not conducive to lying horizontal so is far happier sitting upright on the sofa…moments ago he was snoring. 

I have spent most of this evening firing out messages to all available childminders and nannies in the area as I have been offered the job. So now the reality has hit home that both children will need to be cared for from 7.30 til 6, with school and pre school inbetween. I want to try and keep them together if possible hence the search for a local childminder. If they could also take the dogs out and run the Hoover round the house that would be great too, as I am not fancying spending my weekend as Mrs Mop. I’m not OCD but I can’t quite bring myself to leave the cleaning until the point where I need to ‘muck out’ the house.

Because it will fall to me, I am under no illusion that just because I will be working, my other half will pick up more of a share in housework. No, I am a woman therefore I must do EVERYTHING. 

Maybe by the time our children are our age there will be robots to help or women will be emancipated from all assumptions of domestic duties….no I think robots are more likely..

This blog is for UNICEF.

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Swiss mummy

A Mum looked at me across a table of Mothers Day presents we were wrapping for the school fundraiser, after she had completed her morning shift on the minimum wage at a pre-school. She looked exhausted but still had the patience to fulfil my baby boy’s requests as he was grisly with a cold as well of the needs of her own son.

She said, ‘My only worry used to be what shoes I should wear to walk to work over the Waterloo bridge. Now three children later, I won’t be sitting down for the next 10 years’. Brilliant! Reading this back, it may appear as if she is referring to the long-term side effects of childbirth, but she was really talking about motherhood.

Fitting work in around the kids turns you into a Swiss Army knife but without the mechanical continuity. At some point the late nights trying to reclaim some downtime catch up with you and no sooner the children are in bed, you pass out too.

But the feeling of exhaustion is always diluted by happiness, a sleepy happiness that you have the chance to be a Mum in the first place and all it entails.

It’s just all the other shit that modern day society expects you to do alongside motherhood that makes it exhausting. 

As one of my mugs states, ‘a woman’s work is never done so why start?’ I say, ‘get a man to at least finish it for you, or do 50/50’. I think things have improved but things have also worsened too.

This blog is for UNICEF.

Thanks for reading. 

Ignorance is catchy – a school trip that divides opinion

Tomorrow, I am assisting with crowd control of 60 plus country primary school kids on a visit to a school in East London. The schools have established an informal partnership to benefit from an exchanging and sharing of norms and values amongst the children. A kind of educational town mouse country mouse. I completely get it.

But some parents from our rural school don’t…

One girl has been withdrawn from the school because her mother believes London is ‘dangerous’.

Another mother has asked that her daughter does not take part in the element of the trip where the children visit a Sikh Temple, because she believes that ‘white children going to a ‘mosque’ will be the targets for terrorists’. This is what she said to me assuming that I would share her views. I chewed off half my face and managed to say in response ‘I think you are over-reacting’.

Judging by the School Managers’ response to this mother, her email of complaint was not the only one received.

Even though these views are in the minority, they still exist, which is shocking. Is it the result of UKIP? The Daily Mail? Too much time spent in a predominantly white society? A lack of education? The ignorance that discriminatory views publicised in the mass media breeds? Whatever the reason it is inexcusable and represents an issue in our society that can only begin to be solved by the next generation.

Which is why school visits like these are vitally important.

This blog is for UNICEF. Thanks for reading.

A womans job…

So have just been offered an interview with my old job from a decade ago, but now with more responsibility and more money. I have to go for it for the sake of my marriage health and our financial health but it saddens me that I will have to miss out on two full weekdays at home with my son together with the ‘top and tail’ hours I get either side of pre-school. In life, particularly with children, time is precious and in the early years especially because it doesnt take long for them to lose that innocence and morph into a streetwise, wise-cracking teen-like character overnight.

He has another year and a half to go before school so still quite a chunk of time to miss out on.

I remember when I returned to work when he was 9 months and crying as I handed him over to the nursery.He was fine, it was just me. Mums work regardless, its when they do the other less important work that brings in the money that emotional attachments, responsibilities and duties are maxed to the limit. Female emancipation means just doing more and more. A friend once said her brain can only hold the equivalent of an armful’s clutch of laundry and that a few dropped socks are inevitable if you get too ambitious. I can relate to the dropped socks.

My mum recently gave me a mug with the words ‘ a woman’s work is never done so why start’?

This blog is for Unicef. Thanks for reading.

Christmas on the front line

Sorry for the missed blog post last night, I was busy returning to my childhood with my friend at Olympia like the two pony mad youngsters we were and in many ways still are. We had a selfie taken with showjumper John Whitaker, which was a bit weird as we felt we were standing next to the sculpture of a jumping God rather than a Northern man, he wore the expression of someone who considered publicity to be a necessary evil. I cant blame him, plus it helps the macho male image if you are a little bit reluctant. I like the strong, silent type.

However, I have a strong, nagging type. I asked him to do two things for Christmas (get the children’s FC presents). He didnt have to think about family, friends or even me (as I bought myself my own present from him). So here we are on the 19th December with half a present for baby boy (a train but no track) and a present that appears to have disappeared through the Bermuda Triangle of eBay purchases. It is cutting it rather fine to panic buy an RC RNLI boat if ‘it doesnt arrive by Monday’. I refuse to help him on this one, like a child who needs to learn the hard way, if he knows I wont save the situation then he will have to pull his finger out.

And they say women have to wait until at least 2016 before they can engage in frontline combat (a marine said the main reason was that women lack ‘the killer instinct’. I’d like to see him try his luck if he failed to get a child’s Christmas present on time…

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.

Ironing put a few porkies

You know there may be light at the end of the dark tunnel of sexual equality when you buy your husband an iron so that he can do his work shirts and he gets excited about it.

I bought it partly out of guilt because I accidentally broke his old iron. He had it poised on the board ready for action, then I just clipped the board with my hip as I breezed past (he wasnt in the room), the iron fell to the ground and ‘ping’ went the plastic as I broke the iron his mother bought him when he first moved out of the family home.

Of course I did what any women would do, having rendered it unfixable with one glance, I pieced it together and positioned it exactly as it was on the ironing board (with the power turned off of course) and sat down in front of the TV. When he returned he picked it up (before he turned it on – i wouldnt let him electrocute himself) and the iron promptly came apart in his hand. He was none the wiser and I successfully managed to keep the wool over his eyes.

There are times when this strategy has back-fired on me (such as repairing a cigarette burn in the car upholstery of his precious hot hatch after a girls night-out only for him to say the following day ‘where’s the fag burn gone?’..Doh!

The ‘biggie’ was told by his best man at our wedding, when I completely pretended that the engine had gone for some strange reason other than a ridiculously low oil level (I topped it up after the big ‘n’ went so he would be none the wiser).

You’d think after 17 years  he would have cottoned on to me by now…….bit s far so good.

This blog is for Unicef, thanks for reading.

A revival of the sexes

Why do men do most of the driving?

We passed gorgeous vintage cars on their way to the Goodwood Revival, most of them were being driven by the men, with the women looking glamorous swathed in fox furs and rouge lipstick. All of the men appeared to have a semi-serious, semi-smug expression on their face depicting their awareness of their presence as part of the privileged few who can afford to own, maintain and drive the best of automotive history.

Initially, my ‘girl power’ kicked instinct kicked-in as the men drove past in…..droves, but then I was doing the exact same thing, albeit in the far less glamorous environment of the pick-up truck on our way to collect a boat for repair. I enjoy being chauffeur driven as much as I enjoy driving. The only time I dont enjoy driving is when my husband is a passenger. He is on the same level as a driving examiner, without the politeness. He is so critical that I instantly tense and drive in anticipation of his criticism, which affects my concentration levels. Sometimes I am lucky and he falls asleep, but this doesnt happen enough as he is rarely relaxed enough when I am behind the wheel. Yet he seems to ignore the fact that I have had no insurance claims, while he has has had many and I have beaten him karting every time.

So, I prefer to think that the Goodwood Revival women were letting the men drive, in much the same way that they would let their child push a trolley in a supermarket……

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.

The worst type of charity?

I think private schools should only have charitable status if at least 50 per cent of their children receive significant subsidies because their parents do not have the income level to support boarding fees. These would be children who would benefit from a boarding school environment. There are a couple of schools in my area that offer this but nowhere near enough in my opinion. I mentioned to a mother that I was thinking of applying for one of the schools if my daughter proved academic enough, but she said ‘they have a lot of children from awful backgrounds though dont they’. I replied that a school where everyone can benefit is more desirable than an environment that perpetuates a bubble of privilege and upholds the segregation of social classes that continues to plague this country.

 If the vast majority of independent school parents were honest, they would admit that one of the prime reasons for sending their children to private school is so that their child mixes with the ‘right people’, it also helps them access more exclusive social circles. Most private schools have bursaries and scholarships that spare the offspring of aristocracy and upper middle ‘nice families’ of the state system. It is shocking that these schools have charitable status when they are, first and foremost, a business, taking facilities, teachers, modern curriculums and the best higher education opportunities away from the masses for a privileged minority that get a better access to the top jobs in this country…….and these institutions are ‘charities’.

I wonder if the MPs that upheld the decision on the charitable status have children in state schools?

I think not.

This blog is for Unicef. Thanks for reading.