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Tuesday, 5 August 2008

c ya

One of the more interesting things about having children is, no, not catching glimpses of what they might become (though for the terminally bored, F9’s going for world domination, unless prison claims him first; while at some stage in his future T11 will be spotted leaving the country, hopping along in one sock and doing his tie as he runs, a hundred weeping women in his immediate past and a clutch of irate fathers and husbands and sisters in hot pursuit, Rrrraaouuuooh!), not that – yawn – not them, but what they show you of yourself.
For, let’s bring it happily back to ME: oneself is always far more interesting.

So, E and I both hurl the hot potato of F9’s more troublesome traits back and forth.
“Straight down the distaff,” E will say in a ‘that’s that’ sort of way when F9 is to be seen maundering round the garden singing tunelessly and talking to the grass.
“Pure spear,” I’ll shriek when F9, fierce and proud upon the floor, roars his little face red. No doubting paternity there, methinks.

Over the years, E has had to own up to a certain genetic baton passing made gloriously apparent with regard to the strange trouser choice replicated in F9.
Not E’s fault, perhaps, that Leisure Pants are thus dubbed, an item which have become, entre nous, A Leisure Pant or, if bold, A Golfing Slack.
My, how we laugh.
No trip to M&S is complete without a collapse section up against the cargo pants. (It's one thing, Kitty B, lamenting A knicker, involving a mere scrap of over-priced material, but for one thing, when did pants as trousers slide across the Atlantic unannounced, and for another, something that size should warrant the plural.)
F9 favours bizarre black slippery things of a sporting nature. Truly hideous, particularly peeking beneath the swish of a fetching dressing gown, where they are designed to upset, and inherited from someone or other in a bag of mixed stuff – someone who clearly doesn’t like us much.

And sadly, though I choke to do so, I will admit that I do find it the tiniest bit hard to say sorry. As does F9.
The difference being, however, that I have so little to practise on.
For I am simply rarely wrong. Else I would say it, natch, the S-word. Of course I would. While F9, being so much more like his father, resides in Wrong Land for a hefty proportion of his waking hours, but still he will not assay it.
“Suh,” I say, “Try it, Suh-ohh-reee.”
His lips purse and his eyes gleam.
He would argue that blue is pink long after the cows have sauntered home. And God knows, sometimes I find myself convinced. His sense of permanent utter rectitude is exhausting.
Pure spear.

T11 apologises all the time, a rolling alibi to stuff he has done / might be doing / has up his sleeve to do. A child to get away with murder, but with a smile.

Other than that, my only flaw is not liking soup, although I am dutiful at dinner parties and conceal my distaste in a clatter of busy spoon-work. Therefore, I decided to grasp the nettle of this particular failing by making some myself. For lunch, then, we have eaten recently (to the point of over-dose, actually) abso-bloody-lutely the most delicious Gazpacho ever. Delicate, but punchy, it could – and does – make one squeal with excitement, and is rivalled only by the memory of one on a dusty hill in Spain. And that’s probably only fond recall.
I am now, officially fault-free; although wary of looking another tomato in the eye.

One of my many wise moves is refusing to resort to txt-spk. Up with which I will not put. It confuses spell checks and it’s just not nice. Full sentences R Me, and Churchill would approve.
I made adhering to this a condition of T11’s mobile phone ownership: the pitiful pissing in the wind of one desperate to cling to an idea of authority, and I thought - fool - that his obedience was secured, by the evidence of his texts to me. Commas, apostrophes et al. But in a swift scuffle over his bill, I had an outraged rummage through his outbox and found it appallingly full of “l8rs” and “c u at da park 4 tnnis” and and “g2g brb.”
You can just imagine what a painful falling of the scales that was. How hard I had to sit down, gasping. By night I have been catching up on “The Wire” locking into new and random crib-talk (where ya'r'at, bro, yo? most def) and bracing myself against floodgates of swearing, such as render my own attempts mimsy. And now, by day, g2g!
A friend said that when her son texts “dear Mother,” it is mere prelude to demands for cash.

The children might well want to spend all da time at da park, but this is not the stuff from which interesting diaries are built so, it being the holidays, we have had a few days out to places like the Cotswold Farm Park, the sort of place I panic that they have grown out of, clinging embarrassingly to their tender years, but where, once there, all of the children can run off for hours and we mothers can sit and chat.

A few of us agreed to meet at Mrs Northern Posh’s immaculate country cottage and travel in convey, re-distributed to save a car. On this particular day, either I was early (unlikely), or I had got the time wrong (spot on), but I walked up Mrs NP’s pristine front garden (last encountered here) to find a window open and her in full shout at her children. I tipped my head sideways for a good listen.
“Get the fuck off the fucking sofa,” she was yelling. “Shoes on. Now! F’fucks’ sake!”

Ah, how it does a soul good to encounter another so fully out of control, and rapidly approaching meltdown.
I rang the doorbell immediately, thinking it only kind to let her know that I had heard, rather than make her fret either way. Or, worse, hope, that perhaps I hadn’t.
“Problems, love?” I asked. Then, “That sofa’s a bit of a mess.”
We laughed.
Her face was not slippery with the rage I had heard, but its normal smiling self despite that her woeful offspring had dared to bounce on newly-plumped up furniture. Well really. Does it get much worse than that?
Mrs NP wishing to return to a pristine house (something that remains in the realms of impossibility for me) because her parents (fuss-pot, thin-lipped variety) were coming to stay had been idiot enough to try to effect just that. This is not my world, not with half a fireplace and several random buckets on the floor of the sitting room it’s not, but I nodded nicely and felt her pain.

We bumbled in, out, up and down the perfect path, packhorses bearing picnics and rugs and cool-boxes of grub, suntan lotion and fleeces, plasters and wipes. We were, after all, travelling a good ten miles and might be away til four.
“Is that everything?” she asked, her mind not what it was.
“Fucking children?” I reminded her.
“Shit,” she said.

Our other friends were waiting. Chatting at the end of the drive. Car doors open to cool the interior, and irritate passing motorists. I frowned.
Just – what – was – going – on!
As expected, one of our number was impossibly, easily, glam, but the other one had morphed most terribly into a sudden enigma. The capacity to surprise is important, but – the but is big. Heavens I’m not judgemental, but no friend of mine wears that!
For S had turned up in the oddest of garbs. No make up, for starters, and trussed into a strange pinnie-type frock (wholesome), fashioned, moreover, from gingham (gingham!), and bringing horribly to mind Mother Burrr.
Looking for all the world like a well-plumped up sofa, the sort on which no children had carelessly frolicked (tending as she does, towards the traditional build, despite the constant dieting, bless). Moreover, being enviably rich, that apron pocket would be full, and she would dip her paw in ceaselessly all afternoon, a fruit machine of pound coins doled out in obedience to her son’s eternal desires for cokes and ice-creams, toys and sweets, desires to which the rest of us are deaf.
Nothing like a mother who doesn’t know the rules and is clinging to the youth of her third child.

(Although that afternoon I did weaken and bought F9 a squadgy cat. He was being so very sweet. There’s something about a terrible child with skew-whiff hair and fistfuls of fur that softens my heart.
“What are you calling it, sweetums?” I asked, a fiver the poorer, my purse mewling in sorrow.
He replied.
I misheard.
“Oh! Toffee! How sweet,” I trilled.
“NO. Toughie,” he growled. He pinged ToffeeToughie’s nose with peremptory masterfulness: a man in control of his charges; I could learn a thing or two, sharpen up my pinging. “I need bullets,” he said, “For my gun.” He slung the cat in his pocket.)

She normally works full-time all suited and booted does S, and clearly harbours barking thoughts as to what constitutes At Home Mom wear when out on crazy days with our children.
J should be in Vogue, Mrs NP scrubs up fine when she puts down the F word and forgets her sofas, and I was in what I am sadly proud to call my groovy gear. Since this consists of 4-year old Capri pants from M&S you may form your own opinion just how Down With Trinny and Susannah I might be. I fear that Hot Chick is not inscribed through me like a stick of rock. But it sure as hell ain’t there, S, in Mother Burr, so think again, dear girl.
I took a step back, fearful of contamination. (Mother Burr for the temporarily bewildered and enviably unaware, is mother to Li’l Burr, forever wise and calm and tidying up.)
It raised serious questions: it’s not just what it is but what it might be – just what else is in that wardrobe of hers, what shocks lie ahead? A headscarf? A tartan-lined Mac? Slacks? A slack?

“Are we ready to go?” S asked sensibly.
Sartorially misguided thus, like a trucker from Leeds taking the piss, and beautifully in charge, S suddenly resembled a TV version of our joint mother ushering three unlikely siblings, the glamorous J, me and the swearing Mrs NP.

Which of her own parents, I wondered, claimed that particular hot potato, their anxious faces pressed against a window pane, aghast, while studying a sturdy S frolicking on the lawn.
“No, no, not gingham, darling, gingham’s on your side of the family.”
Pure spear.
Most def.

Soz (see! I can say it! teehee) gtg 2 Spain. L8rs.