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Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Sound and Fury, Signifying Nothing

What’s not to like? I’d asked.
Well, plenty in the event.
A fairly disastrous weekend ensued with plenty of, er, emotion expressed over at GrandParental Towers, an expensive lamp in shards, and lots of rain for us.
There was certainly no need for a hat.
My mother meanwhile is contemplating Anger Management courses.
F9 apparently all but colluded in his own kidnap at the zoo and …
Ho hum. ‘Never Again’ is my new oft-cited phrase of choice. I imagine it’s ringing round the walls of GP Towers, too, only louder and more often.
I’ll say no more. Only I do.
“We agreed the matter was over!” bellows F9 when I bring it up. Again.
The lamp, the not-quite kidnap, the bickering.
Not hiding the veruccas.
Small crimes which I am used to but which the generation gap magnified nastily.
And, give me strength:
Mentioning, gulp, my blogging.
I had been reckless enough to indulge in hope – fule – that all would go swimmingly. Not a mistake I’ll make in future.
That the blogging is out and the URL exposed (“Oi 'ate Countrylite!”) forces conniptions by day and nightmares by, well, by night.

My brother was over from Paris ten days ago. He’s a journalist there and works endless 12-hour days. Weekends are for wimps. He can’t believe how cushy we have it.
“Your rush hour is at five!” he wheezes. “Five! That’s lunchtime.”
When they visit, the sun always shines in Englandshire; well, not at Christmas, durr, but. So his daughter, C7, assumes that English life consists of playing catch, poking inefficiently at the barbecue and drinking Bloody Marys in the garden. Would that she were right, but perhaps if there was indeed a little less of the latter there would be a corresponding little less jungle to attack. I’m busy avoiding it now.

It having galumphed enthusiastically from vicious winter to high summer while I was turning round to put something in the freezer, I am now reminded of how unattractive the summer version of me is. A little jaunty toe nail varnish is not enough to counter-balance bitten legs, nettled legs, brambled legs, brambled arms, ivy’d arms, hot panicky face, hair strewn with brambles, ivy and random leaves. Trashed muddy finger nails. Hands puffy and throbbing from nettles. Guess whose garden is taking some tackling? Next stop is June, when hayfever kicks in. My cup runneth over. No wonder the wine winks.
And then we go away for a weekend and it pours down: where’s the fun in that?

My brother has been air-lifted by the SAS from Albania; he has covered the second Iraq war; been in recovery from Black Swamp Fever in a Pakistani field hospital; photographed gross devastation at Phuket following the tsunami wreckage and that of New Orleans and yet, when he saw F9 setting off with worrying confidence on his bike to the park round the corner, he winced and said, “Mil, do you think that’s safe?”

I went through the motions of thinking about it, nearly indulging in a hearty show-off fest of how This Village isn’t Like That but loathe to tempt fate (lorry: small mad boy; escaping horse on a mission: small boy, still mad; paedo: small boy; rushing stream: you get the picture). So I mumbled into the washing up (all those tomatoey glasses) and told some reassuring lies and woke at 4 in the morning wondering not for the first time about just how slack a mother I am.
Capital city children such as C7, are certainly more micro-managed. C7 requires staff (East European) to convey her to and from school, and whilst country lite children might strike the city savvy as yokel with their tree-climbing knees and ability to set up a game of rounders in 3 seconds flat, they have an enviable independence and I’m not contemplating yet, having them subcutaneously chipped. We launch them onto a wobbly bike, and take good luck for granted. Besides, I’m far too busy considering Products to be sitting in the park, with the alibi of a book so my children don’t connect my presence with the truth of covert spying.

I have already exposed a distressing dependency on, and unsavoury interest in, household items (Dysons, irons, ovens, doors etc) and so it will come as no great surprise to find that recently I have been obsessing over floor cleaners.
Not Dysons, silly! No, ones that work.
What’s more, I am expecting efficiency from items costing less than a tenner. It’s called belt tightening. Although my belt is quite tight enough and leaving marks on my tum. That’s called greed.
I fell for a rather gimmicky number in a rubbish shop. It’s triangular and black and you plug it in to charge it and then it ferrets in and around and under and purrs along the wooden floors in busy circles. It’s partly because the dog hates the hoover, a rare bit of Venn Diagram we share with each other, and mainly because I’m far too lazy to bother unwinding the cable just for under the table.
Besides a gloriously stout chap with sticks was so loved-up by his, clutched gamely under a porky arm and clearly worth the resulting battle with stick-management, that I just copied him and bought one, too. A marketing person’s dream. Big Boy had seen it on QVC (no, I don’t understand either) and was squeaking with joy at having located them. Having no decision capacity myself, apart from for the wrong thing, his pleasure was enough for me to follow suit.

So I took it home which is when I found that it was missing both a vital part and the instructions, so I had to drive back.
And the second had a non-working charger so back I went again.
The third one is obviously sub-standard as I have to prop up the charger to ensure it connects, but I just cannot face a further return journey. That way the thing stops being cheap and becomes steeped in petrol guilt.
It whirrs more loudly than in the shop, very attention-seeking, and Lolly still jumps up and down in her dim way, expressing disapproval at my suburban attempts to deal with her fur debris and with F9’s crumbs, and there is a polite silence drawn over cleaning the wretched thing out which seems all but impossible. The instructions peter out at this point, as does my interest, scant as it ever was.
Moreover, it’s only when I’ve spent 45 minutes (to save 30 seconds of cable winding), in inept Wand Operation that the boys barge back from the park (not crushed by tractors or half way to Thailand at all) scattering careless grass clippings all over My Nice Clean Floor that I realise what a massive waste of time this whole housework shambles is. Not that this is a truth which had eluded me before, it's a flat old football of spoilt discontent I've kicked around on many an occasion, but the full horror was crystallised as metaphor for my life. The merry round of drear repetition. Even so, I found myself twitching for the Dyson. The Dyson and the Sauvignon.


Frances said...

Bravo, Milla!

You thoughts are wise, and your words ... they are beyond compare.


WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

Forget the Dyson . . . just give in to the winking wine. We are all doomed to be bad mothers I have long ago resigned myself to paying for the kids future therapy - a good way of salvaging my conscience.

Oh derrat there was a brilliant book where a mother constantly obsessed as to what was going to happen to her child - her name, or her daughter's name was Chloe . . yeah yeah not much help . . . actually maybe kids should pay for our therapy . . . all that worrying . . .

Pipany said...

Wine does wink Milla, you are quite right though I had never thought it through before. Darn it for its insinuating and flirtatious manner says she who has a sadly still wine-free household at present and misses the naughty nature of the red beverage.

What a pain that your precious weekend ended thus. It always does though doesn't it, the rarity of the event being no reason apparently for little ones and larger ones alike to get on and allow you to enjoy the moment. As for the blog being outed - having some experience of this myself as friends keep letting me know I am discovered. I'm thinking perhaps to live without the friends as I need the blogging for my sanity!!!! xx

LittleBrownDog said...

So much to comment on as ever, however firstly, am so sorry to hear your much-looked forward-to visit to London was impaired by rain, almost-kidnappings and broken lamps, etc.

Firstly, the brother. I, too, have one who's been there and done that only bigger, better and braver than I could even contemplate, so I can sympathise (although yours is probably nicer than mine). As for 12-day weeks, I thought France lead the way in family-friendly working with the shortest working week in Europe - or did that all grind to a halt when Sarkozy stepped in with Carla Thingy? Possibly not for ambitious journos, though - I wouldn't know. Would much prefer to be poking inefficiently at a barbie and downing Bloody Marys somewhere in the Cotswolds(and can't the dishwasher cope with the tomatoey glass?) As for micromanaged kids, I think yours are probably much better off with their wobbly bikes and brambly knees.

Also, did Lolly come back from dog prison without needing to be totally restyled?

Elizabethd said...

Wine talks and laughs too...Blackberry wine by joanne Harris?
What a pity that your weekend had such a finish.

Ernest de Cugnac said...

Milla - "... a rare bit of Venn Diagram we share with each other ...".

What a gem of economy and depth!

Woozle1967 said...

Rolls eyes heavenwards!! I know there's an emoticon (sp?) for this but just love to say it anyway!!!

PS - am stamping my foot (the good one) that you met up with CCA and I live NEARER!!!!!!! Eyebrow is now raised in anticipation of meetup with yourself and LBD.... sod the housework - ladies that lunch is sooooo much better.x

LittleBrownDog said...

PS Milla - I've just clicked on the label Dyson to discover it was almost exactly a year ago you penned your last ode to the grey & yellow vaccuum cleaner so beloved of the middle classes. Do you think perhaps it's a cyclical thing and there's something about the longer days of the end of May that bring out the Dyson in you? Just wondered.

CAMILLA said...

Hide up the Dyson Milla (loathe hoovers).... concentrate on the red stuff.

As to blogs, the namesake comes up on CL now and then when I tap in my said town, oh bother.!


Expatmum said...

Blimey - that was a bit of a stream of conscience, or is it consciousness?
I have just posted a bit about Dysons, but another variety. Having hard wood floors doesn't really merit the vacuum variety I feel.
And yes, my city kids are on a tighter leash than their suburban friends, but that's mainly because said suburban friends keep telling me how unsafe the city is. Then every time there's a child abduction, it happens in the burbs!

nuttycow said...

A stream of consciousness indeed ExPatMum. I could hardly keep up. My main points:

1. drink more wine
2. country living is always better for children that the city
3. housework is dull. Divy it up between the kids.

Edward said...

A bit late to the party, dear girl, but another top blog as usual. I did wonder about the succession of strange devices, each in slightly differently-damaged packaging, that were littering the house, but I was too kind to enquire. Too kind, and too worried that I might be co-opted onto a decision committee.

elizabethm said...

I am a bit behind the game as usual here but gather in my slow way that the grandparently care was not troublefree.
Inevitable really.
Am powerfully in favour of kids taking risks and falling off things and being allowed to disappear off into the woods. Would probably be reported to Social Services nowadays.
As for blog being outed, I am still in reasonable hiding (husband and children and immediate family know but only Ian and YD regularly read). My real fear is of work colleagues knowing as my palpable garden obsession would remove my last shreds of credibility.

KittyB said...

Ah, howay, lass, I turn round to put something in MY freezer and you post not one but two blogs. Not fair. And my wine doesn't wink, it beckons 'come hither' in a Sawyer-from-Lost way. Or maybe a Tripp Darling way - do you watch Dirty Sexy Money? I'm in love with an old man. OH dear.

@themill said...

Great blogging as always Milla, but doesn't Lolly clear up F9's crumbs?
And have you discarded the all singing all dancing Meile?

sea-blue-sky & abstracts said...

My dog hates the hoover, but not as much as the.....ironing board!!!