Sunday, 29 November 2020

Thanks targeted advertising. You win. I've bought a fire pit.

 Is the new ‘fancy a pint?’ going to be, ‘fancy a pint and a three-course meal?’ 


I don’t think anyone can financially sustain that level of socialising, can they?

 

So, I, along with anyone else who has a scrap of garden in a tier 2 area with a desire to see someone outside their immediate family between now and 2034, have bought a fire pit.

 

I have images of lounging around outside, wearing Scottish isle knitwear, sipping something mulled I’ve made from scratch, chatting away with (up to 5) friends, their faces illuminated by the flames of my picture perfect fire in our beautifully tended autumnal garden. 

 

The reality is, there’s nowhere in the garden we can really light it that won’t be so close to you that you’ll end up with third degree burns. And on top of that, when the children have finally decided to go to sleep, it’ll be so late that by the time it’s lit, it’ll be time to put it out again. 

 

This has 999, there’s plumes of smoke coming from my neighbour’s house, written all over it. 

 

On top of that, our youngest is still self-isolating, and has taken this time to fully embrace a heady mix of full on Christmas and the joys of being on summer holiday. 

 

What this looks like in reality, is that every window is covered in festive drawings of Santa, fir trees and baubles. From the inside this has blocked out most of the light. From the outside, it looks like a collage of SOS notes hastily written and celeotaped up in the hope that someone will save whoever is being held here against their will. 

 

As if that isn’t oppressive enough, Alexa is blasting out non-stop Noddy Holder, and it’s not even fucking December. 

 

In contrast, he has insisted that we put up the gazebo and sun loungers in the garden, where he eats his lunch reclining in the drizzle and wind. 

 

If I could have told my 2019 self that this would be our life a year on, I would have laughed into my second pint, which I’d just bought with ease at the bar from our local. 

 

I know things will get easier, or more normal at some point. But I’ve kind of forgotten what that looks like. 

 

I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to hug anyone in the future without asking, ‘are you OK with this?’ beforehand. 

 

Or look at someone in the supermarket without a mask on and view them as more naked than if they were cruising the aisles with their nob out. 

 

I don’t know whether our children will ever be able to erase the term ‘social distancing’ from their day-to-day conversations with their mates. 

 

Or if we’ll be able to do a presentation at work without groaning when saying ‘next slide please.’ 

 

There is so much unpicking of the new social norms, that I don’t know where we start to be ‘normal’ again. 

 

But for now, the new normal is going to be learning how to build a shit hot fire. 

 

And trying not to set the gazebo alight in the process.

 

Deep breath peeps. 

 

Let’s crack on with this week and all the adventures it holds. 

 

 

Sunday, 22 November 2020

Still doing this then, are we?

 Mate. 

Like, this year. 


What the fuck. 


The last time I wrote the blog was on my son’s sixth birthday back in April, when I wondered how long this might go on for. 


OH, HELLO NOVEMBER WITH NO END IN SIGHT?!


We’re mid-isolation for said son, as a kid in the afterschool club tested positive. 


He openly scoffed in my face when I suggested home-schooling, and I overhead him chatting to his best buddy on the phone, telling her how he was planning to eat cocopops and play on Roblox for the next ten days. 


Which, to be quite frank, wouldn’t be the end of the world, as we all try to desperately work from home.


The thing is, Lockdown part 1 was all, I’m going to start running on the empty roads, Houseparty my mates (errm- remember Houseparty?!) and book online shops months in advance to make sure we don’t run out of bog roll.


Lockdown part 2 is deffo the shit second album. I’m half a stone heavier, have the patience of a toddler and have adopted a can’t-be-all-that-fucked attitude to almost everything. 


I’m assuming I’m not the only one feeling this, but it’s often hard to tell when your interactions with the world mainly consist of perving over insta influencers houses or chatting to the guy up the road in the newsagents. 


I just feel like I need a rocket sized dose of motivation fired up my arse to get a bit of balance again


Or something less painful.


Get those fucking trainers on. Learn to cook a curry from scratch. Watch something other than Corrie on the telly. 


The other day I was so keen to leave the house and have a change of scene that I turned up for a smear test ten days early. 


TEN DAYS. 


I didn’t even get right day, wrong week.


That was a conversation I don’t want to have to repeat with the hot young receptionist as I repeatedly shouted ‘SMEAR TEST’ through the intercom  as he couldn’t understand what I was saying through my masked voice.


So yeah. Not really where we thought we’d all be at the moment, physically, mentally or otherwise. 


But it’s Monday tomorrow. 


The starter of all things new day.


So deep breath, and let’s home-school the fuck out of tomorrow while holding down a full time job. 


COME ON!

Sunday, 26 April 2020

Becoming a human worry doll...

My son turned six today. 

For him, he had a ball. 

His favourite two things are minging around the house, and hanging out with us, in that order. 

So that’s what we did. 

Which is lucky.

As the other choices were pretty limited, anyway. 

I queued up in the ASDA car park, 2 metres apart from all the other shoppers, waiting to be admitted to buy his extensive request of party food. 

It was a fantasy list of everything a six year old would eat if there were no rules, no boundaries, no parents to say ‘you’ve got to be fucking kidding me,’ under their breath. 

Coke. Cookies. Fairy cakes. Sausage rolls. Crisps. A big cake with smarties on top. Donuts. Haribos. Ice cream. Chocolate buttons. Fanta.

I bought the lot. 

It was a diabetic coma in a trolley. 

We’d also bought all the gifts he’d asked for, which were surprisingly modest in comparison to his banquet.

It including worry dolls, so he could tell them what he was fretting about, put them under his pillow and have them disappear by the morning, which completely broke my heart. 

See, I don’t know how to answer half of his questions. 

Some are tricky…

I don’t know how guinea pigs say sorry to each other.

Or why blueberries aren’t called blackberries, when some are more black looking than actual blackberries.

I don’t know how Rebecca Rabbit manages to do all the job she does in a day.

Or why your nails grow faster in the sunshine.*

I don’t know why mixed fruit squash tastes nice, but if you mix orange and mango squash together yourself, if tastes revolting.

I don’t know any of these things and lots more besides, but that’s OK. I say I don’t know and he’s also OK with that. 

It’s the other tricky questions that are harder to not know.

The ‘when can I see my friends properly?’

‘Will I go back into year one at school?’

‘Will we be able to go for a pizza after swimming again soon?’

‘Are we allowed in the park in the summer holidays?’

‘When can I see Nanny again?’

It’s those questions I can’t answer. But that doesn’t seem adequate. When you’re little, you look to your parents as the holder of all knowledge. 

If they don’t know it, it’s probably not worth knowing. 

But this shit really is worth knowing. We all want to know the answers. 

Yet we have no idea what the future holds. What the world will look like when all this is over, if indeed there is such a thing as ‘over.’

I’ve purposely stopped watching the news, the ignorance of not being plugged in brings a bit of relief.

There’s a day by dayness to everything at the moment. Like we can deal with what’s in front of us, that hour or afternoon or week, but the long-termness is just too much for our brains to cope with. 

And when we do, a lethargy takes over to protect us. A tiredness. Like hibernation. 

But other days, or hours, or minutes are shrouded in optimism.

Seeds start to sprout (YES! Who isn’t a wannabe Charlie Dimmock in lockdown?)

Bird song seems louder. 

It’s possible to cycle down the street without feeling like you’re going to be knocked down by oncoming traffic. 

The world is continuing regardless. 

While we are home.

We can’t answer many of our children’s questions right now, but we can squeeze them a bit tighter. 

Be that worry doll for them.

So they won’t need them anymore.  

* Apaz your nails grow faster in the sunshine as our body produces more vitamin D in daylight, which is important for nail growth. So that's one question answered anyway...








Sunday, 19 April 2020

Specialist homeschooling subject- Neighbours

Usually when the kids go back to school after the holidays we all exhale a silent breath of relief, children included.

We’d have had fun, but are all quietly craving a bit of normality, a bit of routine.

There is the Sunday night panic to find everyone’s school uniforms, PE kit, quickly rustle up the homework that’s been requested in a letter scrunched up in the bottom of a book bag.

There’s the Monday morning race to get out of the front door before the school gates are shut, and then calm.

Quiet.

Followed by a day of sharing an office with grown ups that I look forward to seeing.

Of being surrounded by different four walls from those at home.

Of buying an overpriced Panini in a café and enjoying a coffee without someone instantly needing me to find a grey pair of pants that are the only things that they can possibly wear, otherwise they are definitely not getting dressed that day.

For example.

So, how the fuck are we supposed to do anything different tomorrow to convince the kids that they are, in actual fact, ‘back at school’?

What can change to differentiate from ‘holiday at home’ to ‘school at home’?

 I have the impending sense of doom as Monday fast approaches.

My five-year-old already gleefully tells me how much he loves homeschooling, as he ‘barely learns anything,’ which I think is a bit of a tough review.

It’s the familiar back to school fear that I used to get after a long breezy summer holiday.

But this time, it’s not because I can’t remember how to hold a pen properly.

It’s the thought of my two children looking at me like I’m a total idiot, as I attempt to understand what it is they are actually meant to be learning.

Up until now they are under the misguided illusion that I know stuff.

That if they ask a question, which they do ALL THE TIME, that I will know the answer.

But that mask is slipping.

Oh how the mighty will fall as they slowly realise that I don’t remember or, for that matter possibly knew in the first place, half the stuff an eight and a five year old are now learning.

However, if they do want to learn anything about Neighbours between the years 1988 - 1999, then I am here as their Master and will happily impart all my knowledge, which I can confidently say, is extensive. 


Sunday, 12 April 2020

Hacienda all weekender anyone?

Week three.

Jogs done- numerous at an increasingly slow speed because…

Wine drunk- at least a bottle a night due to…

Constant conversations that start with-

 ‘Can I have…?’

‘Do you know where xxx is?’

‘Have you seen….?’

‘Can you make me…?’

‘I’m vegetarian now, can I eat xxx instead of xxx?’

‘I can’t sleep in my bed, can I sleep in yours?’

‘Can I watch….?’

Child- ‘MUUUUUUUMMY!’

Me- ‘What?’

 ‘MUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUMMY?’

 ‘Yes?’

’MUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUMMY?’

 ‘WHAT IS IT?’

‘Just checking you could hear me.’

Beginning at approximately 6am and not stopping until bedtime.

The days feel busier than ever, but with very little achieved.

Just surviving.

The house looks like it’s been burgled.

I can’t understand how we’re generating so much washing.

No-one seems to change what they’re wearing, yet there still seems to be at least two loads of washing a day.

It’s Easter holidays, but other than a total lack of home-schooling and a daily screening of ‘Hop’, very little seems to have changed.

I’m painfully aware that we’ll never get this intense time together with the kids again.  Thank you Facebook/ instagram memes for the reminders.

I do want the kids to look back on the lockdown weeks (PLEASE LET IT BE WEEKS) as some kind of adventure, instead of one long bollocking.

But Christ on a bike, I sometime feel like my brain is going to explode if I can’t even have a wee without someone under the age of nine hammering on the door, desperate for the loo right that moment only because I’M IN THERE.

And then the kids go to bed.

The house is quiet.

And a new level of mum guilt creeps in.

How I’m one of the lucky ones.

I know that.

I know it every Thursday, when we stand outside our house clapping for those who are putting their life on the lines everyday to save lives, to make sure we’re safe when they might not be.

I know this when I queue 2 metres apart to go into ASDA and speak to the woman at the checkout, who’s being breathed on by hundreds of shoppers that day.

I know this when the guy drops off our veg box in a mask and gloves.

I know our only real challenge, right now, is to stay at home. That’s it. It’s that simple.

So the other day, we got a load of beetroot in our veg box.

I’m no chef at the best of times.

I roasted a couple.

My husband dutifully ate one, the kids were not so complementary.

I texted my neighbour to see if she’d like any, to which she responded, she loves beetroot so much she’d eat them until her wee turned pink.

So I left some outside her house.

And a day later, she left us, in return, the most delicious beetroot pie, as a thanks.

As I saw it on doorstep, I had a proper snotty nosed weep.

The complete selfless act of sharing her pie with us.

That night we all ate without complaint.

Not one ‘I don’t like this, can I have something else?’ from anyone.

Social isolation feels like a daily pendulum of frustration to guilt to gratitude and back again.

But the good bits, the bits where you find yourself laughing at some shit your child has said.

Or have a quick Facetime with an old mate.

Or someone smiles at you in the supermarket queue.

Or you have a massive fucking happy cry because the Hacienda are doing an all weekend stay at home houseparty on-line and you close your eyes and you’re back in the 90s with a tie dyed top and Shelly platform shoes.

All those moments are golden.

We’re getting through this.

We’ve done three weeks already.

Cheers to that winners.













Monday, 6 April 2020

Only two weeks. ARE YOU SHITTING ME?


How can it only be two weeks since we were all told to stay inside and the schools closed down? 

It feels like months. 

Our previous life of wandering freely and carelessly now feels like a dream, like someone else’s life.

Remember when we used to nip out to the pub for a swift one? 

Or go out for an impromptu pizza just cos why the fuck not? 

Oh, and can you recall the good old days when we could watch a film at the pictures instead of on Netflix?

I can.

Of course I can.

But in the same breath, I can’t.

Not really.  

This new way of living has quickly and efficiently become the norm.

I saw a friend and her family out the car window as we were on the way to the shops.

We pulled over, wound down the windows and all of us shouted manically out of the car at them from the other side of the road.

Hollering enthusiastically, shouting over each other, the four of us desperately tried to have a face-to-face conversation with people other than our immediate family.

That’s one thing that’s really come into focus over the last fourteen days.

What a loud family we are.

How we all have an opinion on absolutely everything.

And how my children talk, constantly.

There is noise.

All the time.

Like every waking second.

Not even just waking, it transpires.

The kids also talk in their sleep, which was a joyous revelation, as everyone has now taken to piling in the same bed since lockdown.

Before this all happened, I thought of myself as someone who craved company.

I couldn’t imagine working all week in solitude. I need to be around people. I need the buzz of conversations. I need human contact to feel alive.

But I should have been more specific.

It wasn’t human contact I needed.

It was adult conversation.

What I would give for just two minutes peace.

I’ve started running.

I’ve turned into that guy.

I’m a fucking cliché and hate myself a little bit for it.

But this is survival.

I just need the occasional twenty blissful minutes of uninterrupted, painfully slow jogging, listening to music other than George Ezra, and allowing my mind to decompress.

I had, on my first ‘run’, started thinking how this would be a fantastic opportunity to get fit.

To really embrace a new way of living.

To slip back into my pre-wedding figure, and emerge from the lockdown as a svelte, younger looking butterfly.

Lockdown was going to be a chance to launch Anna 2.0.

I now realise how wrong I was.

The occasional jog around the park is counterbalanced with the end of the day thank fuck bottle of wine.

I’m going to roll out of this house, a bloated wineaholic. 

But, as we walk past the the recycling bins in the park for our hour of exercise, I realised I am very much not alone.

Hang in there, this wasn't anyone's plan, but it's the plan now and we're adaptable, brilliant woman. 

We're all over this shit. 

Let's just make a pact to not judge anyone's recycling box....