18 May 2009

Turf Wars

Accountant huffed past me, scowling and sweating heavily. He glared ahead as he dumped his 15th wheelbarrow of turf onto my wellied feet. I could tell he was beginning to hate me. And I was beginning to hate gardening, despite an enthusiastic start and the stirrings of a curious crush on Alan Titchmarsh.

Perhaps Accountant had been right. Laying a whole new lawn over the weekend may not have been one of my better ideas. Unwilling to accept that that could ever be the case, I’d ignored him, badgering him relentlessly until he broke. My victory was short lived when he informed me that I’d be laying it alone.

So I spent everyday working the land - digging, excavating, stamping, levelling and raking then re-raking in readiness for the Bank Holiday weekend. When Chickie slept, I raked. When Chickie went to playgroup, I raked. When Chickie went to bed, Accountant dug and I raked.

Twenty hours of hard labour and hands that would never look womanly again and we were ready.

As I surveyed the 27 squared metres of levelled mud, the 4ft high piles of turf and my husband’s retreating silhouette, I did wonder what I’d been thinking. It definitely hadn’t looked that hard on Groundforce but then Alan was a skilled professional and they had featured his lawn laying in fast forward.

Upon unrolling my new green carpet, my spirits wilted further. Rather than the lush, thick bowling green grass I’d expected, I found a sad looking offering, yellowing and smelling of something familiar.

Whilst Accountant barricaded himself in the house, I plundered on. One hour and four squared metres later and I decided a call to the garden centre was overripe as was my, now steaming, lawn.

Me: "It's yellow and smells funny"
Penny at the Garden Centre: “What does it smell like?”
Me: “Horse poo”Penny at the Garden Centre: “It shouldn’t smell like that, that means it’s fermenting and won’t root. You need to bring it back”
Me: “Marvellous”
I knocked on our back door, which Accountant had thoughtfully locked. I watched his peanut shaped head poke through the curtains which he’d also closed.
Me: “We need to take the lawn back”Accountant: “@#;!in& b@#%!** hell!”

That was the last time I heard him speak for a while. He didn’t speak at all as he began reloading all the grass he’d previously unloaded back into the wheelbarrow and then into his car.
He didn’t speak much this weekend either as he trundled back and forth with his wheelbarrow piled up with all the new grass.

On Sunday evening, my green (literally) fingers ached and everything else hurt but I had one last thing to do before I could rest.

Collapsing next to Accountant on the sofa, I poised myself.

“Sweetheart” I began, “I’m sorry.” Deep breath. “You were right.”

It had taken ten years, but it had finally happened and Accountant couldn’t have looked smugger.

14 May 2009


“It’s time you earned some money” declared Accountant as he peered at me from over the top of his spectacles and our bank statement.

If it hadn’t been for the boiler breaking down and then the washing machine chasing me across the kitchen whilst on its rinse cycle, I wouldn’t have had to sit there watching my face droop in the reflection of Accountant’s glasses.

And now I had to get a job to pay for boring things I could neither wear nor eat. The injustice.
What could I do that would fit around Chickie’s hectic social life? I did some research and presented my findings to Accountant.

Referring to my notes, I began. “Well, apparently there’s a newspaper round up for grabs in Wallace Avenue?”
He shook his head, continuing to look at me expectantly.
“What? I said.
“Well? What else is there?” He nodded down at my A4 pad.
“That’s pretty much it!”
From his face I could tell he’d expected more.
“I thought I’d run for Prime Minister next year, when I’ve got more than 2½ hours available a day and fewer childcare issues? “

Later that evening, as I paid for my lotto ticket online, I racked my shrinking brain for some money making ideas. My friend worked the nightshift at Sainsbury’s but, as a result, didn’t sleep for two days a week.

“You just don’t sleep at all?” I squealed when she’d first told me.
“Nope” she nodded at her one year old, solely responsible.
“What, not at all?”

Whilst I admired her endurance, I knew I was made of more delicate stuff. After eight hours sleep every night, it took a good thirty minutes for me just to be able to open both eyes at the same time.

“How about selling stuff on ebay?” my other friend suggested as we mulled over my predicament.
“I’ve got loads of Chick’s old clothes I could start with!” I enthused, stroking my chin as the idea took shape.
After eight hours taking over 300 photographs of Chickie’s old clothes, I liked the idea much less but I was committed.

Whilst Accountant sat on his laptop downstairs, I began uploading my photos on the old laptop upstairs. It took ages.

Bored, I took a little peek at some of the stuff for sale.

“What you doing?” Accountant shouted up to me, no doubt sensing danger.
“Just selling stuff on ebay” I shouted back.
“Good” came the reply.

I flicked back to the photo upload but nothing had happened. Then back to items for sale. Vintage jewellery to be precise.

There was a nice brooch. And a lovely bracelet. A small bid wouldn’t hurt. Accountant never need know. I clicked on ‘Confirm Bid’, for the bracelet. And the brooch.

And then ebay emailed Accountant, downstairs, kindly re-confirming my bids.

10 May 2009

Contented Little Baby

Following years of intensive research, I’ve devised a recipe which, whenever Chickie is scheduled for public display, I whip out and follow precisely to improve my chances of presenting a happy, well-balanced show bambini.Be warned though, if any of the quantities are altered in anyway, it can become a Recipe for Disaster.

That’s why I was less than pleased when Chickie spent the thirty minutes he should have been power napping, vigorously protesting on his bedroom floor. An hour later, a red eyed Chickie was scraped off the carpet and bundled into the car ready for delivery to his friend’s house.

Recipe for A Contented Toddler – Guidelines Only
Makes 1 Portion
Ingredients1 toddler (wash before use)
1 full tummy containing 2 pieces of honey on toast (crusts removed)
1 punnet of red grapes (cut in half)
4 mild cheddar sandwiches,
1 portion of Spaghetti Bolognese
Plenty of fluids
1 poo
12 hours of high impact activity to include 30 minutes trampolining, 40 minute brisk walk, 1 hour tantrum, 20 minutes water play, 1 hour cycle ride, 30 minutes arts and crafts, 1 hour digging, 7 hours debating
30 minute power nap at 11am
5ml Calpol (if teething, windy, snotty)
1 threat of ‘if you show me up, your Batman gets it.’
1 promise of ‘if you’re a good boy, you can bounce on daddy when he gets home from work’1 knackered mummy

TIP: AVOID carbohydrates

Instructions: Approach arrival at any play date much like you would Airport Customs.

1. Nothing To Declare.
Toddler has followed the recipe to the letter and smug mummy can sit back and relax whilst eating all her hostess’ chocolate fingers, safe in the knowledge that poppet is good to go. Satisfaction levels will be further enhanced if other toddlers in attendance haven’t followed the recipe and their misbehaviour then highlights your child in an even more favourable light.
2. Declaration on Arrival.
You admit failure to get toddler to follow recipe, which you blame on factors outside of your control such as tiredness, colds, immunisation (delete as applicable). However, you’re absolved from any judgment as you were humble enough to declare that you got it horribly wrong. Toddler can’t be disapproved of for assaulting and battering others, as they’ve now got a bona fide pre-existing excuse. Mummy still allowed chocolate fingers.
3. Smuggling.
Only for the bravest of mummies. You and poppet both know that the recipe has been breached but mummy keeps quiet, unleashing her child, in the hope that their increased adrenaline levels will see them through. A risky strategy that can end gloriously or hideously. Mummy only allowed chocolate fingers in the event of happy ending.

Being a wuss, I went for Option Two and, before my friend could even ask how we were, she had the full low down on Chickie’s naplessness. Free of all responsibility, I toddled off to find those choccie fingers.