25 February 2008

A Total Eclipse of The Wallet

It wasn’t that I was intentionally deceiving my husband so much as the optimum moment to tell him I’d just frittered away hundreds of pounds on a whim of fancy hadn’t yet presented itself.

It was all the shop assistant’s fault anyway, her hand slithering through the changing room curtain every two minutes bearing another fabulous silk shirt or tummy disguising belt or cowl neck jumper I simply had to have. I tried so hard to resist, telling her at least once that I really shouldn’t before handing over the emergency credit card.

Fortunately, my sister was with me. Keen to share her extensive experience in the field of smuggling illegal shopping past her own Purchase Prevention Officer, I listened intently to her genius plan.

When we got home, I’d distract Accountant whilst she commando rolled down the hall, scaled the stairs and dived under the bed, taking all my bags with her. It was simple but highly effective. Accountant lapped up my sudden interest in corporate taxation.

Confident I could go out dressed as a dry roasted peanut and Accountant wouldn’t notice, I wore my new outfits without fear of discovery. Whilst such disinterest could be upsetting to some, it has paved the way for all manner of illicit acquisitions to come and live wish us: new bedding, a rug, cushions, a fridge freezer; a baby.

After a week, I began to wonder whether he really needed to know. He’d made such a fuss when I bought a new pot plants for £2.99, my guilty little secret could well pop something.

Eventually, an opportunity arose during a long car journey. Encouraged by the fact both his hands were busy steering the car and therefore unavailable for throttling, I bit the bullet. “Sweetheart, I have something to tell you” I said gravely enough to suggest I’d done something truly terrible. This strategy had worked well in the past when Accountant was so grateful I wasn’t about to leave him to live with a new toy boy, that he barely heard me telling him I’d just emptied the joint account.

“What is it?” Accountant asked, his grip tightening on the steering wheel.
I considered the best way to begin. “You know the emergency credit card?”
“How much?” he asked, shattering my big build up.
“£100?” I offered to a sharp intake of breath.
“Times two” I whispered.

No reaction. “It was a woolly jumper emergency. I was really cold” I whimpered into the prickly silence filling the car. Accountant remained focused on the road. I was beginning to feel slightly scared so snuggled deeper into the murky depths of my new cowl neck.

“If you needed some new clothes, then that’s fine Sweetheart” he said sweetly.

My mouth fell open as I digested his approval. I couldn’t believe it. My one true chance to max out the credit card and I’d missed it. Much like a total solar eclipse, I doubted very much that I’d be seeing the opportunity again in my lifetime.

21 February 2008

Blind Fear

“Just calm down” my dad said shaking his head. My teeth chattered by way of acknowledgment.

“Why do you get yourself so worked up?” he muttered in bewilderment as he pulled into the doctor’s surgery car park. It’s a question my father continues to ask me whenever I have one of my little episodes and, as I keep telling him, I can only blame the parents.

Checking my eye balls in the overhead mirror for the twentieth time, I hoped blindness wasn’t imminent. When my eyes had first started to itch thirty minutes before, I hadn’t thought much of it, continuing to write birthday cards whilst giving them the odd rub. When they’d started to feel peculiar, I’d gone to investigate. Stood in front of the mirror, I watched two swollen bloodshot eyes widen in horror.

Within seconds, my emergency doctor’s appointment was booked and my parents were on their way to perform counselling. As I sat on the bottom step praying in tongues, I scurried back and forth to the mirror to watch the redness spread across my eyeballs. Each visit crazed me further and by the time my parents arrived, my eyes were clamped shut, too scared their horrified reactions may send me over the edge.

I should have remembered that many years experience has left them highly adept at playing down my latest life threatening discovery and pretending everything is fine. More than happy to go along with it, I let their nonchalance calm me for a moment before running back to the mirror to work myself up again.

To help me gain some much needed perspective, my parents told me a story about a girl, who upon waking from her teenage slumbers, had removed her nightie to find her torso had turned blue. Alone in the house, she ran from room to room, mirror to mirror, appraising her organ failure from every angle. She was discovered by her parents an hour later, rocking at the end of the bed cuddling a Good News Bible. It was her father who had suggested it could be dye from her blue nightie rather than congestive heart failure. Yes, the girl might have been me.

Then there was the time something bit that same girl’s bum on holiday. Something that had been laying in wait under the sea as she’d taken a reluctant swim. She watched in alarm as a blotchy rash spread across her cheek. Surprised that she didn’t die immediately, she gave herself an extra week to live, monitoring her bottom at half hourly intervals over the course of the next seven days.

Exactly one week later, the doctor was called to her bedside following the onset of fever and aching. As she provided extensive details of the attack and her envenomation symptoms, he announced she had a virus and went on his way. She remained unconvinced that the doctor had taken her probable box jelly fish bite seriously.

Whilst I appreciated my parent’s efforts to demonstrate my melodramatic tendencies, it wasn’t until the swelling started to subside whilst sat in the surgery waiting room that I finally accepted that I might not lose the sight in both eyes after all.

My doctor prescribed an anti-histamine for my allergic and over reaction. I was happy as could be until he mentioned they could flair up again.

04 February 2008

Teaching An Old Chick New Tricks

Chickie has two party pieces.

1. Eyebrow Push-ups
2. A choice phrase triggered by the words 'excuse me'

We first heard it when Chickie was returned to us by certain family members after an overnight stay. It was all the more shocking for the fact that these family members have never sworn. So when Chickie began using the 'f' word, it was hard to imagine them looking anything other than appalled. However, they seemed highly delighted with the speed in which Chickie had grasped their new expletive.

Admittedly, it was quite amusing and I may, or may not, have practised it with Chickie daily, to the point he no longer needed the trigger to perform on cue. Friends were treated to free demonstrations and the nephews simply loved Chickie's naughty new word.

Of course, when he told the doctor, it was less funny.

And then my Mother in law, who informed me very seriously on my return home that Chickie had just told her that he farted.

Emergency talks were held to discuss how Chickie might be reformed. Pop Pop was deemed a suitable alternative and is slowly being introduced until the 'f' word is phased out completely.

02 February 2008


Are you dehydrated?” enquired the dolly behind the Chanel counter.

“Erm... I don’t know?” I answered, thinking that I must be if she was taking the trouble to ask.
“Are you usually this colour?” she leaned down for a closer look. Leaning backwards to her forwards, I enquired as to what colour that might be.

“You have heightened colour in your cheeks” she informed me seriously.

“Oh!” was all I could reply. Normally I’m sallow shade of jaundiced so was quite pleased to have a ‘rosy glow’ for a change. The look on her face made me realise it wasn’t a good thing as she bent closer still and declared ‘dryness’ be added to my growing list of complexion problems.
I’d only popped over to grab a face powder, hoping to point, pay and spend the rest of my day posing with my little white Chanel bag.

As she began dabbing colour corrective products onto what I now appreciated was a flaky, red face, I was scared. Her precision painted talons lightly clasped the powder puff which was flitting around my face like a bluebottle. She shook her head and reached for corrective powder No 2. My uncooperative face peered over at my friend who was smirking back; enjoying my impromptu makeover and associated line of questioning immensely.

“What are you using on your face at the moment?” the shrill tones of Ms Coco asked disapprovingly. Flustered by the intense scrutiny, I tried to remember.

“Erm, Max Factor foundation and lots of concealer?” I offered, hoping that this was acceptable.

“Hmmmm. You do moisturise everyday don’t you?” she enquired like a distrusting headmistress.

“Yes. Yes, of course” I confirmed enthusiastically, hoping this would redeem me. I could tell she didn’t believe me. No doubt reasoning that nobody this far gone could be putting in the necessary skincare regime hours.

“Well, I think this one does wonders. What do you think?” she asked, handing me the mirror and beckoning my friend over to agree with her. My matted face looked back, every clogged pore highlighted splendidly by the fluorescent lighting. I lowered the mirror to see my friend’s face peering back; smirk still firmly in place. I wondered if there was a corrective powder available to wipe it off.

“Yes, that’s fine” I whimpered, handing the mirror back. With a ‘confidence shattering’ spring in her step, she fluttered over to the till to ring up her sale.

Clutching the purchase to my slumped body plus the three free samples she’d thrown in out of sympathy, I decided no white paper bag was worth it. I trudged out of the shop, vowing to drink eight bottles of water before bedtime and to really moisturise every day.