Monday, 30 March 2020

Has it only been seven days??

If I could go back to that carefree woman of two weeks ago, who was perusing through clothes she didn’t need in charity shops, laughing with colleagues at work and leisurely cruising the aisles of a fully stocked supermarket...

 I’d shake her and shout- SEE YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS, SQUEEZE THEM THAT BIT HARDER. 

LOOK THEM IN THE EYE AND TELL THEM YOU LOVE THEM. 

THEN GEN THE FUCK UP ON EVERYTHING FROM LONG DIVISION TO PHOTOSYNTHESIS. 

Because everything is about to change. Everything. And you will need to know this shit. 

Why? 

Ooooh. You just wait.

The announcement comes. We should stay in our homes. We often do of a weekend anyway, so what’s the big deal? This will be like wet play at school, just going on for slightly longer. Right?

See, I thought home schooling would be a bit of a stretch, but hey, I’m an intelligent woman. I have challenging conversations with grown ups regularly at work. I’ve managed to balance writing two novels with family life. How hard can this be?

Oh stupid, naïve woman of this time last week. If only you knew.

Day one- my husband is looking after the kids, while I attempt to work in the bedroom. 

We’re not yet on full lock down and the builders are still working upstairs on the never-ending loft conversion, which seems to mainly involve drilling loudly and consistently. 

My husband is in the front room, wearing a hi-vis jacket on the five year olds insistence, because ‘that’s what my teachers do,’ apparently.

I’m sitting on the bed with the laptop on my knees, trying to position it in such a way that I can have a zoom call without any of my colleagues seeing the mountain of washing in the background. 

I hadn’t even heard of zoom a fortnight ago. Or Houseparty. Or how to do a WhatsApp three way call. 

Day three and it’s my turn. 

Now, to all the teachers I was ever a dick to at school, I am so fucking sorry. You are heroes. Every single one of you. 

Trying to do anything with a five and an eight year old is tricky at the best of times, but trying to teach them anything at the same time is near on impossible. They both want to do different things, alternatively their shared interest is getting on each other’s tits.

So I do what any sane thinking person would do, and buy the last remaining trampoline in the whole of East Sussex, to be delivered as quickly as humanly fucking possible.

By day four, we’re getting into a bit of a rhythm, at least between 9am- 9.30, as we watch Joe Wickes with the rest of the world wide population. 

Lunch is a big deal and can take anything up to an hour and a half. 

The only thing the five year old really responds to is the story time one of his wonderful teachers records daily and posts on line for them to watch. She’s like a sorcerer. I can’t get him to sit still long enough to finish a sentence. She starts to read and he’s chin resting in hands, mesmerised for a full fifteen minutes. 

By Friday, I give myself a hearty pat on the back and a massive glass of wine. Done. 

Until the reality dawns on me. It’s the weekend, and it’s going to be exactly the same, except Joe Wickes isn’t live streaming.

The thing is, the penny hadn't really dropped that being in social isolation would mean that we would be with each other ALL THE TIME for potentially months. 

I attempt to reassure myself that in times of change, it’s amazing how we adapt,.

I remember when the smoking ban was first introduced when we were all semi-professional smokers, and we were all like, they can’t do that. That’s an outrage. If we want to smoke inside, that’s our right.

Where as now, it’s incomprehensible that we’d walk into Pizza Express and someone would be sitting inside with a fag on. 

'Socialising' has quickly taken on a life of it's own. 

Beers in the pub have been replaced with group chats on Whatsapp. Playdates with Facetime meet ups. Classrooms with zoom meetings of children excitedly shouting over each other. Pictionary with school friends you haven't seen for forever who drop in via Houseparty is now a common occurance.

We're all learning how to connect again. Just differently. 

But for now it also seems vitally important that we find a way to manage the noise we let into our lives and into our brains, through all the countless sources of information, while we're working out what the fuck we're doing. 

Be gentle on ourselves. 

And on our families. 

We’re all going to have melt downs. 

Our kids are going to miss their friends, their teachers and the structure they’re so used to in their lives. 

We're all trying to figure out how this shit works while all living within four walls.

Attempting to work, to parent, to teach, to cook, to clean, to maintain relationships with our friend and families without all killing each other.

But we’ll all get through this. 

And when we do, how much are we going to enjoy that first sunshine pint in a beer garden?

A long walk on the beach.

A trip to the cinema to see some awful Disney film that the kids are desperate to see. 

And a bear hug with all those we love and for now can only tell them on a screen.

Now, that is going to be worth the wait. 










Sunday, 12 January 2020

Hello Sunday nights...

Sunday used to involve a gentle session at the pub, a roast and a few pints. Maybe a walk, nothing too strenuous.

More of a stroll.

A womble.

Followed by shit telly, beige food and bed, ready to start the week with a moderate hangover and no-one to worry about other than myself.

WELCOME TO SUNDAY NIGHTS NOW.



That’s two loads.

Two more to go.

I have no idea how we generate so much fucking washing as a family.

There are four of us, and the youngest is half my height and refuses to wear anything other than a grey tracksuit which makes him look like a mini version of Rocky, so it’s not him.

My life is now one long washing cycle, pairing odd socks and trying not to shrink school uniforms in the tumble dryer.

Oh- the tumble dryer. My second love after the kids.

The only luxury item I bought when I was given the advance on my book

Not a Vivienne Westwood dress. Nope.

Or a snazzy new radical hair cut. Not for me.

Or a reinvent yourself tattoo of some motivational quote. I don’t think so.

A FRICKING TUMBLE DRYER.

So if you’d excuse me, I now have a date with a series about a psycho serial killer and approximately four hundred pairs of individual socks to match up.

Hello Sunday nights of the future...


Sunday, 5 January 2020

Happy Xmas (War is Over) vs Agadoo...

Things I’ve learnt over the Christmas holidays...

A revolving disco lightbulb is fun for about 30 seconds. Not two weeks. Definitely not forever. The kids refuse to take it down in their bedroom and its like going into the Ministry of Sound circa 1997 every time I walk in with a load of clean washing.

One child owning a Mi-mic, which not only amplifies their voice, but gives it a B movie horror film effect is annoying. Both kids having them is fucking ridiculous. Luckily they have to be charged up. And I’ve hidden the adapters.

A Christmas CD is just for Christmas. Maybe New Year at a push. But no-one needs to wake up to the sounds of Happy Xmas (War is Over) at 7am on 5th Jan. I thought the Black Lace CD was bad, but I’m now missing listening to Agadoo on repeat. I never thought I’d say that.

There are a finite number of episodes of Lego Friends on Netflix. I know. I’ve watched them all at least four times. Seeing a new one fills me with the same excitement as watching an unfamiliar episode of Friends.

The period after New Year should be one of winding down and routine. Of getting back to normal. Of finding places to store presents and discreetly taking old toys to the charity shop. Booking in to have a loft conversion done two weeks into January MAY seem like a good idea at the time, but having to then pack up a lifetimes worth of shit including GCSE books, boxes of letter from long-forgotten French exchange students, DVDs when you have no DVD player, videos when NO-ONE has a VHS player, is never going to be relaxing.

Indoor guinea pigs are noisy. And smelly. And when they have to be relocated into the front room to make way for all the other shit that has to come down from the loft, this will involve watching the telly with the constant disruption of squeaking and rustling. The floor is covered in sawdust and the sofa is littered with tiny hard pellet poos from where the children have been sitting watching Lego Friends with them on their laps, feeding them the green parts of their lunches.
Not to mention the smell. Did I mention the smell? I’M LIVING IN AN INDOOR FARM.


INSET days on the last Monday of the school holidays are just cruel.

Dry January is a myth.

So Happy New Year lovely people. May it be filled with lie ins. Hangover free wine. And children who repeatedly tell you how eternally grateful they are to have you as their parents.

PS I realise the last time I wrote the blog was when I was whinging about how long summer holidays were. 

PPS I vow to write it more often.

PPPS and not just complaining about holidays. Although Easter can be a bit of a ball ache, now I come to think about it...




Saturday, 10 August 2019

School holidays go on for HOW LONG??

School holidays.

We’ve been hanging out for them for weeks.

Looking forward to not bollocking the kids to school.

Not having to remind someone to put their shoes on, brush their teeth, find their book bag, look for their coat.

Bliss.

It’s going to be one long sunny walk in the park, filled with laughter and sharing stories, finding out what’s going on inside their little heads, making memories, walking in the park. 

Did I say walking in the park?

Hang on, what’s this?

The house is a tip?

Everyone’s losing their shit because we ran out of Cocopops on day two?

How’s about the cinema. Everyone loves the cinema. I was only allowed to go there on special occasions and birthdays when I was growing up. Nope? Not interested in that any more? And when did I start to list shit I was ‘only allowed to go to on special occasions and birthdays’?

The sunny park that we’ve always loved is now boring? It’s boring now is it? Is it possible that we're all actually driving each other fucking mental after week one?

Is it? 

IS THAT WHAT'S GOING ON?

How did I forget this from last year? It must be like childbirth. The moment it’s over, your brain cancels out the trauma or you’d never do it again.

So, deep breath. Five weeks to go. A lot of that in a tent. That’s going to be fine. Fantastic even. Gulp.


Here goes…