Household Tips #4

Child labour.

It’s important as a parent to teach your children self-sufficiency. No one wants them returning, after they’ve flown the coop, with a pile of washing and a petted lip. No one wants to see them starving or malnourished for want of being able to rustle something wholesome up in the kitchen.

It’s vitally important to get the balance just right. The schools here actually issue the wee sods with ChildLine’s number. It hangs on the kitchen noticeboard. ParentLine’s number is pinned beside it, is slightly bigger in red type and is not a random phone number.

Neither number has ever been used yet.

As I said, vitally important to get the balance just right.

With that in mind, honestly, no other reason, I’ve attempted to ensure that my brood can cope for themselves.

My own parents did this for me so it was not quite such a shock to my system when I learned that toilets were not self-cleaning. That flushing in and of itself, while effective for elimination, did not clean the toilet. Who knew?

By the time I was in my teens I could pretty much make a meal for eight while reading a book. Burnt a few, right enough, if I was at a really exciting chapter. Tip:- place burnt side face down on plate and don’t cry or take a strop when your brother calls you on it. Just tell him to cook the feckin’ sausages himself next time.

I was definitely more of a Mary to my sister’s Martha but she never learned how to hang wallpaper and cut into corners first with your paintbrush before tackling the walls. I like all that shit. That and learning to use a jig-saw and various other power tools that were way more fun than a washing machine.

I don’t think my parents used me at all. I think they let me have a go. Some bits I let go. Like ironing. It was shite. Still is. Hate that odd-shaped appliance although it’s not unlike a sander and I’m quite fond of that.

Now, none of my kids have shown any penchant for power tools and they’re not too keen on household ones either. But I feel obliged to force them to at least become acquainted with which end’s up.

This is particularly important when using pots. How humiliated would they be if, when having their own guests round to their immaculate homes, they didn’t know their erse from their elbow or a saucepan from a frying pan?

I was horrified, as were each of my kids, when, in their first year of high school, they were taught how to make Empire biscuits during obligatory Home Economics. Quite impressive, till you learn that they opened a packet of digestive biscuits, spread some jam on one, iced its partner and topped it with a jelly tot.

Meanwhile my crew were all, ‘Can I make spag bol, Miss?’

No, that’s a lie. Most of them were. One, in particular, whose sole purpose in the kitchen, despite my best efforts, was to find out where I was currently planking the goodies, (never hide chocolate biscuits in the tumble dryer), came late to the cooking experience when he started a high protein stint that involved scrambling only the whites of eggs. Flinging six egg yolks at a time in the bin I discovered. Smacked him one on the arse for that. ChildLine was not involved.

Balance, you see. ParentLine was keen to learn about children’s worst excesses at that time. He was very gullible. Once argued with his teacher that the singular of sheep was shoop. Had to be right. His dad had told him. Goose, geese. Shoop, sheep. Oh, how we laughed! He did too. Years later right enough.

So, child labour. Raising weans. Got to get it just right. At least until the schools stop issuing ChildLine’s number. Or ParentLine is invented.


Some child labour, unlike this image, is actually education.



Being very rational

Being ultra reasonable

Being pragma-matter-of-fact

Being super stoic

Being awful sensible

Blowing raspberries at

Ideas half-cracked.

Gotta be the mama

Mature most days

Gotta be the wise old chick

Gotta be the ballast

In the boat afloat

Gotta be the balance

In the act.

Wanna be the fool

Who doesn’t give a feck

Wanna be frivolity

In flight

Wanna be an eagle

On the wing

And shite


Who are bugging


Watch their step

For this weekend

I just bloody well might.


For Science – ll

Earth date:- 6th March 2015

Last night was not one of Spain’s finest moments although I venture to suggest it will not be recorded in the annals of history by any of its contemporaries and only noted here. Their loss. In attesting to these findings I have duly taken note that the bouquet of the Spanish wine consumed was most pleasant, the taste on the palate equally so and that the requisite two glasses were consumed with ease.

This initial experiment proved to have positive beginnings when I succeeded in being asleep shortly after ten o’clock. Men In Black (version something) failed to hold my interest although I was impressed at Emma Thompson’s vocal impersonation of a Venusian in heat – at least, I think that’s what it was.

Unfortunately, for the purposes of the previously outlined experiment, it also has to be noted that I was awake again just after twelve, paid heed to the time, fucked a little under my breath and promptly fell asleep again. This was of short duration when I was awakened yet again just after one a.m. by my son ringing the house phone to request admission to the lab as he had forgotten his keys.  An unusual occurrence. Not the keys. The fact that the door was locked. It has become the habit over the years for last one in to lock up. This has resulted in the front door sometimes being left open all night. But not last night. I will not deduct marks from Spain for that particular awakening as it was not the fault of the country that my son is a plank.

As I write it is now coming up on two a.m. My go to drink at the moment is water and I will now attempt to catch the sandman’s coat tails before he pisses off entirely for the night….. to be continued.

Bloody hell! * 5.30a.m.

Geezabrek! * just after 6

Giving in – time up, anyway.

Spain will now unite with Italy in the lasagne stakes, a necessary addition to the dish, although one that always breaks my heart a little when adding to the sauce.

Apparently, cherry and damson are not conducive to uninterrupted sleep.

Earth date:- 26th March 2015

My findings are proving inconclusive and elusive. (Bugger! Rhymes!)

It should be apparent to anyone with an eye for detail that monitoring the experiment now entitled ‘Fucksakesletmesleep!’ has not been high on my agenda. I have failed to keep notes and have even failed to drink the requisite number of glasses per evening to substantiate any claims that might possibly have been made were I a more diligent scientist, advocate of homework or indeed drinker. Stephen-my-man-Hawkings must be birling at the lack of adherence to task and would, I’m sure, give me a rollicking for such neglect. (I’ve heard he likes a good swally. But that might just be a rumour. Started by me.)

Being someone who never gives up without a fight I have decided, this evening, to try again. I’m only doing this in the interests of my marriage and the now too often vacant space that lies to my left. (Well, when I’ve not sprawled there in my apparently neverending quest for more space, a better bit of bed and someone to fling a leg over.) The shadows evidenced on my husband’s face and the haggard look on mine as I cover the smudges of a morning are testament to the fact that sleep is ever elusive and fucksakeswhatsgoingongoodgriefgodalmightycharliebrownI’mdyinghere is now my favourite catch phrase – shortened, of course, to the aforementioned experiment title.

I am now of the opinion that my vitamin D levels are back in the toilet pan again and only a massive dose of unadulterated sunshine will see me right.

In exactly one week’s time I will be on holiday for two weeks and there had better be a sun shining high in my back garden. I have painting plans of the garden furniture variety and a couple of sun loungers calling my name. Pick me, pick me, I hear them cry from the garden shed. (Need to paint that fecker too.)

At precisely 2.30 p.m. – Earth time – I shall don my painter’s apron atop my scientist’s coat, open a bottle of red, splash some paint hither and to and test for road worthiness one of the two petulant loungers. And there had better be some fucking sunshine around, sunshine. Or there sure as hell will be plenty of wine.

I will bloody sleep again. ‘As god is my witness.’ ‘But I’ll think about that tomorrow.’

Right now, I’ve opened a Spanish number again. Got to give science and countries another chance, I think. So does Stephen. I’ve heard. Slainte, mark ll!




For Science. Slainte.

In the interests of maintaining an upright position beyond four o’clock in the day it is necessary, after a certain age, (for me, anyway) to take some measures that may facilitate this aim. As a proponent of scientific experimentation to determine cause and effect with some accuracy I am about to undergo a series of tests that may affect my blogging capabilities.

It has come to my notice over the last year or so (it takes me a while to see patterns emerge) that my ability to sleep right through the night is now a matter of unrecorded history, merely living on in my memory and those of my family who can attest to previously witnessing the strains of my dulcet snoring at odd times throughout the night, proof, I dare to hypothesise, that I must have been sleeping.

Not being a proponent of early nights, I have laughingly called ‘bedtime’ any time I felt like it. Ridiculously low hours of sleep have previously not been an issue and added, I like to think, an edge to my humour throughout the day, being as how I haven’t always necessarily been in full control of my mental faculties. My excuse, sticking to it, although yet to be proven.

However, when problems arise, requiring answers, I turn to science as one possible means of exploring the wonders of the body and the mind in the belief that some bugger surely has investigated this before me. They have. But they’re them. And I’m me. So I’m testing for myself. I was good at science. I’ve got this.

I have taken copious notes on the problem (even written some poems about it. During the night. Can many scientists say that? Didn’t think so.)

The problem, as outlined, will require looking at from several different angles. I have, in fact, already studied one or two. And dismissed them as not scientifically proven.

This week, tale-end of, I will be drinking wine before bedtime while watching movies. I found it somewhat helpful last night and only woke three times during the night. Marvellous dreams recorded for future poems. Bonus.)

Tonight I will be experimenting with one Baron Saint Jean, ‘a smooth and mellow red wine with cherry and damson flavours’, hailing from the Spanish heartlands. Not one of my usual go-to countries for red biddy but I’m prepared to experiment in the furtherance of science.

Someone’s got to do it.

Last night’s Australian offering, ‘a deep ruby colour with a nose of raspberry and strawberry with spicy pepper and cloves’ may have helped a little in the insomniac stakes but I am a little concerned that the addition of spices may have done little to alleviate the problem entirely. And, who knows, may even have exacerbated it as can be the case when ruby murrays are indulged in before slumber. * Note to self, I am not from the east end of London.

I shall be researching various fruit combos from varied parts of the world to ensure a full bodied range of experience to experimentation ratio. Notes will be taken, dreams or absence thereof recorded, some songs may be sung but only if really pissed.

I will, of course, pursue other avenues and intend to take this matter as seriously as any scientist who can’t sleep through the night. But, I am working from the premise that a good bucket at the weekend sometimes has the ability to knock me out cold for lengthy periods that I will call sleep.

Please bear with me in these hazardous times as there may be groundbreaking results. I feel relatively confident that I can do this although I haven’t ascertained whether other noted scientists, apart from myself, have gone this route. ( I got excellent marks in biology. Chemistry was another matter. And physics, well, let’s just say that it was beyond my capabilities. But I’m pretty sure that I write better poetry than Stephen Hawkings. That fact has not been checked. So I could be wrong. But sometimes I make facts up. It’s a teacher thing. I’ve heard. Also not proven.)

Wish me luck as I venture where vintners have never gone before and where science has seriously let us down.

I will attempt to maintain decorum at all times, keep to regulation uniform (well, I’ve still got my nurse’s dress, that’ll do fine) and optimise results by having a control. Two glasses shall be the rule (of thumb) and, as I’m not driving to work these days, I feel confident that I shall maintain an upright position without any intervention from law enforcement.

Further updates will be notified. Probably in poetry.

Some sacrifice may be required and Lent is out the window.