Wednesday, 29 February 2012

The Proposal.

Two years and two months ago The FH proposed (Boxing Day to be precise). It was more like a drunken conversation that got out of hand than an official proposal, but, unfortunately for him, my mother was in the room, so he had to go through with it.* 

Today, we are no nearer to setting a date today than we were the day we met. And with today being the 29th of February, and all about woman being forward, I stuck this on the fridge as a gentle reminder.

Him: Is this you asking like?
Me: No, you already did that. This is me nagging.
Him: Your nagging has got a bit fancy hasn't it?
Me: Well wedding nagging is  a whole new level.

This banter continued till Little O piped up

Little O: If you and Dadda get married who will look after me?
Me: You'll be there
Little O: (pulling a horrified face) I can't be there while you actually get married!

The conversation ended due to a small baby emptying a stomach-ful of milk into my cleavage. But I have actually made a mental note to ask O tomorrow what he actually thinks getting married entails as he may be confusing it with something else. Maybe he's seen something he shouldn't have on the TV and asked the nearest relative "What are that man and woman doing?" and thinking on their feet they've replied "getting married?"

So, it looks like I'm set to continue with the world's longest engagement for a little while longer. I'll just keep pinning wedding ideas on a virtual mood board and, you know, putting the lottery on, and you never know some day... 

I know its great to have a partner you find sexy and I love the fact The FH is confident, funny and a little bit cocky, but I can't help thinking if I'd got one of those boyfriends you can boss about, a quiet one, I'd be married by now!

*Actually, the next morning, when heads were no longer sore, I did get a lovely proposal, but I keep that moment close to my chest. That ones just for me, not for the blog.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Over-heard on a hill...

Walking through the woods this weekend I overtook two elderly ladies as they hobbled down the hill, walking sticks shaking against the gravelly path. This is what I over heard one lady say to the other:

"Well, it says on Facebook they are back together!"

Brilliant! Facebook: social networking for the over-70's. I'm off to my Twitter account; that's where the young people hang out!

I like to think they were talking about their peers...

"You know, Jim, who used to work at the corner shop as a delivery man, nice chap, always says hello and Mary, the floozie from the flower shop. Had lots of husbands that one. Well, the other week they were effing and jeffing in the street, pots and pans flying everywhere. We were sure it was all over, but this week they've gone public on FB that they are back together! "in a relationship" it says."

"Eee they're always off and on those two, and, I'll tell you something else, she's always on Facebook, you know, flirting, flirts with everyone on there you know, always "Liking" things. Always. Don't know how she finds the time..."

Or perhaps it was just a glimpse into my own future; but by then we'll be living in houses made out of Facebook and eating Twitter for breakfast!

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Pets and the legacy they leave

I'm not an animal lover.I don't try and hide it. I struggle to tolerate my friend's pets. I do that stiff jerky thing if a cat jumps on me. My skin physically shrivels if a dog licks me. And I don't understand how people get all hot and bothered about an episode of Frozen Planet.

However, I grew up with animals.We've always had pets. And there have been moments when I think I might have actually liked them. Only Like though. Let's not get carried away,

Anyhow, shortly after Christmas one of my parents' dogs died (old age), she'd had a good innings and apart from her ear piercing bark, as dogs go, she was OK. This led me to think about pets and the legacy they leave behind them. Foxy Lady, you big ginger, malting pooch, this one's for you.

My parent's have a big terraced house. When we first moved in (I was two) and for the next 5 years, the top floor was a junk floor, to be "done" when they had the time or money. This top floor was Merlin's floor. Merlin, a male black, half-Persian cat, who my mother had got before having kids or meeting my Dad. This black cat would spend its time stalking around the piles of boxes and useless crap that was left up there to be forgotten about. I don't remember him ever coming down, not even for food, but I'm sure he must have. Occasionally, bored, me or my sister would say "Let's go find Merlin" and we'd creep up there, crawl along the dusty floorboards, weave between the  cobwebs and stake him out. He'd flee at the first glimpse of a chalky limb or dusty pigtail. Eventually, Merlin moved out. Apparently he had also been dwelling at an old dear who lived over the road. When she decided to up-sticks, Merlin jumped into the removal van too.

The Gerbils
"They're all boys" we were told.  The arrival of these new pets coincided with my infant school doing a project on pets. Pupils were picked to bring their pets into school for a week (only ones which lived in a cage or a bowl, of course). I got picked! We took them in on a Monday and by the Wednesday my parents had received a phone call asking them to come and the collect the four gerbil we had sent in, as well as the 16 baby gerbils that had appeared over night. Not 4 male gerbils after all.

Cuddles The Hamster
I don't really know who that little girl was who asked for a hamster for her birthday, but I'm pretty sure she had a couple of friends who had hamsters. Anyway, I got one, One who spent its whole existence eating and plotting his next escape. Until the final escape mission, where he squeezed his fat hamster arse under the kitchen units. And that's where he lived. And died. We never saw him again.

He was our first dog. And there is something different about a dog to other animal pets. They are harder work, they need more thought, more care, more looking after, but they give more back... So they become more like one of the family.

Bobby was a big black, shaggy mongrel. He looked like a black Labrador who'd had a bad perm. He had huge brown eyes which peeped out under a shaggy fringe. He would terrorise any one who walked past our house; pouncing onto the sofa with such force, growling, barking and snapping at the innocent pedestrian, his gnarly teeth slammed against the pane, the white of his eyes popping out their sockets. "One day you're gonna go through that Bay Window" my dad would say. And one day he did.

Walking him was a nightmare, me and my sister as teenage girls would often struggle to control him as he tore into any other male dog  who dared to cross our path. If you were stupid enough to let him off the lead he was gone. Many a time I returned home with an empty lead, as did my brother, sister, mum and dad. When we were younger we went for long family walks on the moors. Bobby was in his element here. It was the only time we ever took him out in the car. So if he ever got chance, he would jump into the car and refuse to come out; 3 grown men and a lead couldn't pull him out of there, once he stayed in for 3 hours. People would knock on the door and ask us if we knew our dog had been left in the car, our standard reply was "you try and get him out".

He was also great at escaping, he nudged open sash windows with his nose, used coal bunkers to jump  7 foot walls and went rampaging about town, his final stop was the butchers, where he'd sit outside till they gave him a bone. As a teenager, I was often walking to and from school or hanging out with mates when a streak of back whooshed past "Hey Fran isn't that your dog?"  friends would say. Then they'd ask why I wasn't going after him "because I'll never catch him," I'd reply. Once, when were on a family day trip, he made on of his infamous escapes; we returned home to an empty house and an open window. Unusually, night fell and he hadn't returned. Morning sprung and he was still gone.We feared the worse... But three months later we found him the other side of the bay window, licking the pane, as if he's only been gone a few hours.

His finest hour was in his final years when on a Summer's day he made one final escape, Finding him gone, Dad headed down to the butchers (at this point he would forget about the rampage and head straight there), not finding him sat outside, he headed to the beach, the coast guards hadn't seen him. He returned home with an empty lead once more. That evening as dusk fell on our sleepy town, and a summer day drifted into darkness, a black, shaggy haired dog, sporting streaks of grey, slowly plodded up the middle of the main road, with a procession of 8 cars behind him. These cars were rolling along at 5 miles an hour and been following him up from the beach, Bobby oblivious, plodding along as he finished his last adventure,

In junior school I befriended a girl whose parents ran a cattery. One of their rare Persian breeds had been impregnated by a local Moggy. The result  litter needed shifting to a good home. We took one in, but that cute little, fluffy kitten turned into a narky, scratchy, hissy cat. Eventually, she decided that her Aristo-cat roots were too good for us common folk and moved in with a lady who lived in the big houses over the back.

A beautiful cat; like her namesake, black, elegant and proud. Unfortunately, she came to an untimely death after to drinking the water out of my brother's tropical fish tank. Apparently, the water in tropical tanks is poisonous. Who knew? Not Cleo.

Muffin was Cleo's replacement, she had big paws to fill. However, after Bobby's death my parents got a spaniel (Izzi) who was partial to a good, old-fashioned cat chase. Muffin made it quite clear, if the dog was staying, SHE was not. So she got off the kitchen table, left through the back door and took up residence in the yard. For 10 years she never came in the house. She would mee-ow at the window when hungry and we obediently fed her, otherwise she prowled the high courtyard walls, out of a spaniel's reach.  Ten cold winters (including 2 big Freezes) and never once did she come back inside. Until this year, when her old frail, feline body let her stubborn will down and she reluctantly sought solace of a roof and a Rayburn stove. Once more, her weathered paws strutted back over the Threshold. Her fur matted, ears ripped, eyes sunken and body hunched. Now she wistfully looks through the pained window at her beloved back yard.

Foxy Lady
Named so because mum got her as a rescue dog and she she was so thin and scrawny with a ginger coat she looked like a fox. On walks she would prance through the long grass and startle walkers, as for a brief second they thought they had seen a fox. She was soon fattened up and then looked more "corgi" than fox, so the "Lady" in her name became more apt and that is what she was known as. Apart from my brother, who thought it was a stupid name, so was the only one who continued to call her Foxy. She was as tough as old boots, loving, loyal and very protective. She had lived on the streets, survived a car accident and was riddled with arthritis, but even in her later years as soon as she was out the house she would be prancing through the long grass again.

A black cocker-spaniel. The only dog my parents have had since a puppy - therefore, she gets away with murder! Named Izzi because mt parents drove through a Blizzard to get her. She's a pedigree, therefore has already had one operation and is on medication for her eyes, ears and heart! I think she's more trouble than she's worth; but try telling my Dad that - he's wrapped around her little black paw!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Apparently I'm goofy...

The other weekend we took the kids to an adventure, outdoor play area on the edge of a local forest. We've been there many times; in spring to catch tadpoles, in summer for picnics, autumn to rustle among the leaves and in winter to get a Christmas Tree. But all the kids want to do there is play on the big red train in the play area. So, I know the park pretty well; we've exhausted the equipment.

Whilst stood shivering in the wind, I watch The FH on a small "wobbly bridge". (This bridge is about 30 cm off the ground. consists of stepping stone slats that wobble when you stand on them). He makes it to the third slat and wobbles off.
"Did you do that of purpose?" I ask. The FH ia a PE teacher, he doesn't fall off. And besides, I'm sure I've crossed it before. It's easy.
"No. It's hard," he says.
Obviously I think he's winding me up. You know, one of those bloke jokes: I'll get on it all cautious and nervous, when really its easy, therefore I look daft. I'm on to him. There's no fooling me.
"Yeah right" I say cockily, climbing on. I
I'll show him, I think. I'll run across really fast.

I got to the third slat - really fast. then fell off - really fast. I was going so fast, I didn't wobble off and land of my feet like him. I flew off, landed on my knees first, then toppled off and landed on my back, my foot was tangled in something, whilst my other limbs were waving in the air, a beetle stuck on its back.

The FH was laughing so much he nearly pissed himself. He was laughing so much he couldn't even come to help me up. He stood there, his whole body shaking wiht laughter, whist an old dear, abandoned her grandchildren, to run over and help me up. Her efforts were unnecessary, as I bounced up as quick as lightning to convince the whole gobsmacked park I was fine, embarrassingly brushing myself down, romoving a twig from my dishelvelled hair,

When I got to the FH, he put his arms around me "Oh I do love you" he said STILL laughing "You are goofy though."
"Thanks for your help by the way" I replied, glowering at him.
"Sorry but its was just the image of you trying to get up from the fall gracefully, whilst your arse was hanging out the back of your jeans. I couldn't shake it."

Later on, in the car on the way home I  replay this and turn to him disgruntled "What did you say I was?Goofy?
"Yeah Goofy." he replied confidently, then catching the look on my face started to retreat "You know, what do you girls call it? Kooky"

(For you Americans, "Goofy" can be loosely be translated as a "Goofball", for the Brits translate as "Clown". I think "Kooky" translates internationally as weird.)

The next day I discovered us "Goofy" people can't strike matches. The gas cooker ignitor needed replacing so I was using a match to light the grill. I don't like using cigarette lighters as I usually burn my thumb. I switched the grill on and struck a match. Fail. Tried again. Fail. I tried to strike a match against three different boxes of matches, three different brands,but not one lit match. In the end, I lit a match using the cigarette lighter and stuck it under the grill. Whoosh! I'd left the damn thing on.

Singed Eyebrows; the mark of a goofy woman.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

A Blog Trilogy: His First Christmas

This is Part 3 of a trilogy - if you dared to miss part 1 and 2, click on the links below...

Part 1 -   A Blog Trilogy: The Last Weekend
Part 2 -   A Blog Trilogy: The Baby

Part 3

I was recovering really well. (Too well?)

Things were running smoothly. (Too smoothly?)

Well it was only matter of time...

It was the day before Christmas Eve and in our little household we were ready to go. "Two more sleeps" yelled Little O, punching the air as he jumped out of bed. There was one or two presents to wrap, the odd chocolate orange to buy and... well... that was it! We were actually organised.

Which was quite good really, as I was feeling a bit ropey. My c-section wound ached suggesting I'd overdone it the day before. "Feet up today" I decided  But having made myself a nest on the couch I also became aware of that tingly, shaky, jittery feeling that creeps over you when you are coming down with something. The FH, who had his first night night in months planned (he was combining head wetting, Christmas and Birthday celebrations in one) was also feeling a bit off colour. And when he suddenly cancelled it, mid afternoon, I concluded: "That's it we've both got flu"

I festered on the couch, them moved myself to the bed at 6pm. I only emerged  to request a hot water bottle and a second duvet cover. The FH sulkily polished of a couple of cans with some painkillers. At 11 pm I got out of bed to go to the loo, only to realise I was in so much pain I couldn't actually walk. We rang NHS, but in between phone calls I got dramatically worse, was in agony and extremely hot. Nonna arrived to take me to the walk in centre, as The FH, who was slightly inebriated and couldn't drive,  could stay with the boys. However, when she arrived I was paralysed with the pain so between them they decided to phone an ambulance.

"An Ambulance?" I though aloud, aghast, in bed sobbing and writhing. Tiny Leo next to me, sleeping, as good as gold.  I was mortified. The only way I saw myself to be inside an ambulance was unconscious or with a limb falling off.

The blue lights arrived and the paramedics appeared at my bedroom door; one tall with a moustache and a jolly nature, the other small and bald with glasses and a hidden agenda.

As the Jolly one checked me over, the small one quizzed The FH on how much he had drank and reminded him they were the last ambulance this side of  Teesside. Clearly a mum of three paralysed with pain isn't as important as a bloke who's drunk himself daft and got in a fight.

Anyway, I was deemed unwell enough to be taken to A&E and carried to the ambulance. I felt the curtains twitch in the street and was sure the old man across the road would be saying "I told her she was overdoing when I saw her pushing the buggy yesterday." as he peered from his bedroom window, shaking his head to rid himself of that unnecessary wisdom.

Nonna and Leo were also coming too... The small paramedic was in the front, the jolly one in the back. Nonna holding Leo somewhere behind me - apparently baby car seats are not a legal requirement in ambulances, even though Nonna may disagree as she told me later she was an breath away from a panic attack as every time they went round a corner she feared him b eing flung from her arms into the gas and air unit.

The jolly paramedic did my obs, and  wrote the time on the board, "12.05 - It's Christmas Eve! Who hoo!"he exclaimed. His celebrations fell flat around the ambulance.
"Yes. Woo" I replied. Whilst Nonna didn't bother to answer and the small paramedic grunted something about real emergencies from under his steering wheel.

They were about to offer me some pain relief, but realised they couldn't because I'd had codeine "Remember when we did that before?" The jolly one chuckled, the woman went unconscious and stopped breathing!" He said to me, grinning.
"Oh Lord!" I thought "If I am at death's door - my life is in the hand of the chuckle brothers"

There's something unnerving about an ambulance ride.  Inside they look like a toy replica of the ones on casualty. The cold, sterile metal dominates the atmosphere. And the ghostly absence of windows sets your nerves into overdrive as your other senses fight to pinpoint your bearings. But they fail. You just lie there feeling overwhelmed. Helpless.

 At the hospital they wheeled me into an A&E cubicle and left me in the hands of a cocky A&E nurse who was like the smiling assassin; a wide grin on his face and a concoction of needles hidden behind his back. On his way out the jolly paramedic wished me a Happy Christmas and apologised for his colleague's behaviour.
"No problem" I told him "Next year I'll make sure my leg's falling off."

So there we sat in A&E, early hours of Christmas Eve, Mum holding Leo (still sleeping, still good as gold), me lying uncomfortably in some strange outfit The FH had wriggled me into before we left (maternity leggins and a shrunken nightie). We didn't have a mobile between us, but we did have a Sainsbury's carrier bag with some nappies, a pack of wipes and a reindeer sleep suit for Leo. Nonna made a list to pass the time; a list of things to do on Christmas Eve. But as time ticked on, and we moved further into The Eve, we saw that list become more and more unrealistic.

In-between me feeding Leo, we opened the curtains and people watched. This is who was on A&E on Black Friday 2011: Tracy who had two teeth knocked out and her nose broken; Norman the drunk, wandering round wearing nothing but a hospital gown back to front; Albert who had collapsed for no reason at all so though he better get checked out; and Sandra who just wanted everyone to leave her the fuck alone.

I was seen by a charming Junior Doctor at around half two. At which point he decided I needed to be seen by a surgeon on the Maternity Ward. Mum, under my orders, reluctantly went in search of a phone, a taxi and her bed. I was whisked off to post-natal and an hour later got the hard hitting news they were "keeping me in".

Ever the optimist, I presumed it would only be till they could discharge me in the morning, but no, they needed me there to pump me with antibiotics. My temperature was hovering just below 40 Degrees, my pulse rate 160 and the scar looked like it had been pumped up with red paint! They gave me and Leo our own room and left me there to sweat it out.

In the morning, the midwife on duty told me it would be very unlikely I would be let out today. The poor woman then had to watch me have a break down, as I lay in my bed  hiccoughing and snorting between sobs she handed me a tissue and said "I'll leave you to cry it out". I think I made her feel a bit uncomfortable. So I wouldn't be able to put the kids to bed on Christmas Eve, I couldn't make Reindeer Dust, put out Snacks for Father C, or wrap up the final presents watching Olly Murs and his Gran play Christmas Songs on 4 music. My plans had been scuppered.

So Christmas Eve came and went, The FH visited, but I banned anyone else from coming. I was too miserable. But I did ring them to sob, hiccup and snort down the phone. The hospital's very expensive TV and Phone suppliers had given free calls to in-patients over Christmas, it was a small comfort.

At 9pm on Christmas Eve I was reviewed by a doctor. This said doctor decided to perform a mini op during the review and lance my infected scar! MY GOD. Put it this way - gas and air was needed. Imagine a very painful spot that you've tried to squeeze, one that made you grit your teeth and your nerve ends tingle. Imagine that pain. Pinpoint it. Then times it by ten thousand and you're close. It was grim; puss sodden padding flew around the room, I huffed and puffed on the gas and air, the midwife "eughed", the spectating junior doctor cringed and Leo, who hadn't made a whimper until now, bawled his eyes out. Happy Sodding Christmas Eve.

In the morning, I discovered the lovely midwife, who I'd had a breakdown upon, was campaigning to get me out. Despite her best efforts, my blood tests showed the infection had increased, not dropped, so I was staying. Christmas carols played on a rolling CD, the ward staff adorned cheap party hats and the daily menu had a swirly font and a holly border on. But, otherwise. it was another day in hospital.

My Christmas dinner arrived with a warm glass of white wine and a small, lonely cracker. I ate it in silence, sat on my hospital bed, Leo, oblivious, snoozing in his cot.

That was it. That was how me and Leo spent his first Christmas. Sulking on Ward 17. It seemed our family had become complete, but unfortunately separated on the one day we wanted to be together - a bit shitty, but I suppose the only Christmas present that mattered  this year was the safe arrival of my third son, who was an absolute angel the whole time. His tiny presence kept me sane and it would have been truly horrendous without him there, tucked under arm. And I do have one nice Christmas memory to take away...

...Two little boys, running down a hospital corridor, one wearing a Santa's hat  the other in red skinny jeans, my fiance catching sight of me, up on my feet, Leo in my arms.  Two little boys running to their Mum, carrying a stocking each; one for me, one for their baby brother. And my fiance smiling from ear to ear "There she is!"