Confessions of a School Caretaker

All I ever wanted to be was a wife and a mother. Call me old fashioned but I totally bought into the whole ‘homemaker’ vibe. However, fate had other ideas and when my then husband became ill. I had no choice but to work part-time to makes ends meet. One of my jobs was a school caretaker. Yes, school caretaker! Not all school caretakers look like Argus Filch!

Some are 5ft 1″, brunette and wear Reeboks innit?

The school was purpose built in 1939, just before the second world war broke out. The Anderson shelter wasn’t dismantled and filled in until the 1980’s. That’s one of the things I loved about the place, it’s history.

When I started working there in 1995, it had hardly changed at all since it was built. Part of my job was to maintain an ambient room temperature which is sort of impossible when you have menopausal staff who are shivering one minute and flinging off their cardies the next. Nightmare!

Although most of my work was mostly done around school hours, sometimes I’d nip down to do some gardening and it was a joy to listen to the children singing nursery rhymes. It was hard to believe that one day those little angels would become moody, acne-ridden, angst filled arse-holes, like I was.

The downside to the job was having to deal with vandalism..

Each Monday morning I’d apprehensively open the gate and hope that the local louts hadn’t been up to their usual tricks of kicking in fence panels, or worse, smashing in windows. Once, I found an old mattress and some used condoms behind the shed.

The. Dirty. Bastards.

Shagging someone on a stained mattress in the grounds of a nursery school?

Classy, no?

The empty cans of Tesco Value lager gave some clue as to the level of ‘chav’ I was dealing with. That said, at least they were using condoms so I suppose there was some degree of intelligence in there.. After a minute of intense effing, I snapped on several pairs of Marigolds, scooped up the offending ‘joy bags’ with a shovel and marched across the playground in the direction of the bins. As soon as I got home, I plunged my hands in disinfectant. The council came and carted away the mattress of shame and we planted the area with prickly shrubs as a shag deterrent. Only a complete idiot would risk puncturing his clackers on that lot!

My strangest find were some photographs of a lady that I found scattered over the grass one morning. I couldn’t go around the neighbouring houses knocking on doors asking who they belonged to cus, well, they were a bit saucy, innit! I decided to take advice from the head teacher, who almost choked on her Polo mint when she saw the lady resplendent in her suspenders and DD peep-hole bra. She concluded that it was best to deny all knowledge of them and fed them through the shredder.

Sorted.

One of the cutest moments was when I was changing the paper towels in the toilets and one cute little boy held out his painting to me and said. ‘Hold this, Mrs lady, I’m going for a poo!’

Just wonderful.

Originally, the school had three intakes of forty children a year but nursery classes being opened within nearby primary schools meant that numbers started to dwindle. The council took the decision to close the school when the intake dropped to 25 saying that it was no longer financially viable. Despite a petition put forward from thousands of people, many of whom had attended the school themselves, the council pressed ahead with it’s plans to close and on a summer’s day in July 2005, after 66 happy years, the nursery closed.

Nurseryedit

Happy memories of the nursery at Christmas circa 1940’s

During the big ‘clear out’ the head called me into her office and showed me some of the log books she’d found from during the war. Everything was written down. The nit nurse was mentioned a LOT. But one entry stood out to me the most. It simply said, ‘The children had their tea in the air raid shelter’. Imagine that?

I felt emotional as I stood looking round the empty building on that last day. A building which for so many years had been full of life and laughter. The walls, once adorned with paint (and dried pasta), were now stripped bare and there was an echo to the room that only comes with emptiness.

As I walked through each room, I could hear children’s voices (not literally, I’m not that bonkers, yet) I could hear their squeals of joy as they sped around on the trikes and the ear-piercing shrieks as they shoved each other over on the playground. I heard the rumble of the prams and the shrill sound of the teacher’s whistle. I saw my eldest running with his egg and spoon on sports day looking as camp as a row of tents with his floppy wrist. I saw my middle son sat there with a tea-towel on his head – picking his nose through the ENTIRE nativity play!

Good memories..

I was a good caretaker. I was proud of what I’d achieved and having a touch of OCD came in especially handy when it came to locking up. There were no unlocked doors or windows on MY watch, ever! However, it did take me about an hour to do my checks and re-checks…

With a heavy heart, I closed the gate for the last time and I allowed myself one last look before another chapter in my life closed.

I doubt that I will ever find a job like that. I loved every second of it. Going to work in the morning was never a chore. I loved the building. I loved the people I worked with. I loved how I ended up on the annual school tea-towel, standing there with my tiny broom and enormous arms poking out of my head..

The building sat empty for quite a while. The privets became overgrown and the cherry blossom leaves blew around because I wasn’t there to pick them up. It was sad to see. Then one day I noticed that the privets had been cut and a shiny new sign was in place of our old one. It had been bought as a private day nursery! I TOTALLY love that the building still knows the sound of children’s laughter. A new chapter in it’s life and long may it continue…I am proud to be part of it’s history.

A pity they let the old punishments die. Was a time detention would find you hanging by your thumbs in the dungeons. God, I miss the screaming ~ Argus Filch ~ Miserable git caretaker in Harry Potter

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The Great Escape

Garden Spid (531x800)blogIt’s commonly known that the only fears we are born with are the fear of loud noises and the fear of falling. Any other phobia is learned..

My phobia of spiders can’t have been learned from my parents as neither were afraid of them. However, I do remember my brother screaming like a girl at a One Direction concert at the sight of the teeniest one on his bedroom wall..

So I’ll blame him.

My earliest memory is when I felt one crawling around in my nightie. Long story short, I screamed the place down, My mother ran in and mashed it into the carpet. Hello, phobia!

Every time I screamed at the sight of a spider, Mum would storm in, grab it with a piece of bog roll and fling it down the toilet. With each flush, I felt a pang of guilt that a life had been ended because of my irrational fear. At least Dad used to liberate them back into the garden.

Spray it. Swot it. Annihilate it. That was Mum’s motto.

Rumour had it that my mother had had a bit of an unfavourable experience with an Alsatian once and it made her intolerant to anything with more than two legs. Also, she couldn’t be arsed coaxing insects into glasses when Corrie was about to come on. No live pause in those days!

But karma is a bitch because one summers day, Mum had been gardening and she’d kicked her slippers off in the garage. Task completed, she went to put a slipper back on and was stung on the toe by a startled bee who’d crawled inside. We heard her shout ‘YOU LITTLE SOD!!’ (which instantly put us kids on the defensive) and then she went Chuck Norris on it with the other slipper. My mother would have had a shit load of apologising to do before she got to go through those heavenly gates, eh?

But THE incident which still leaves me cold is this..

Tarantulas first came into my life in 1987 when ex-hubs bought one after his father had died. Despite being phobic, I didn’t have the heart to argue. Sadly, after a few years of trying to cope (and the knowledge that females can live for 25 years) my anxiety got the better of me and hub’s brother adopted her.

THANK FUCK FOR THAT!

Fast forward to 2007 where in a cruel twist of fate I discovered that the new man in my life had FOUR of the bastards In his BEDROOM!

I had a choice. I could either put as much distance between him and his crawlies as possible or I could try to conquer this phobia once and for all. Again, I tried but despite my best efforts, the anxieties crept in and the paranoia of one of them escaping and suffocating me in my sleep terrified me. Obviously I wasn’t the spider’s biggest fan but it was a sad day when I saw that one had joined the choir invisible. There was no chance of me putting my hand in and fishing it out but I did feel a twang of sadness that this little creature’s demise.

We lost another after we moved house. The shock of being carted about may have proved too much for it or maybe it was a male who had simply come to the end of his life as they have a significantly shorter life span compared to females. My bet was the years of trauma on having to see OH’s arse peeking out from under the duvet had finally seen it off?

By the time we had The Boy we were down to two spiders (in tanks) still in the bedroom. I piled books onto the lids to thwart any attempts at escape and slept with one eye open. All was well. As well as it can be in a room with fucking arachnids, that is. Except that OH didn’t quite close the lid properly one night and I woke up to the sight of a couple of tarantula legs doing the can-can through the smallest of gaps. I was rendered motionless with fear. My WORST nightmare was coming true…

It was ESCAPING!!!

Before long, there were SIX legs poking out and I broke all kinds of world records getting out of bed. I grabbed The Boy out of his cot and on last glance before slamming the door shut – the cheeky sod was legging it along the bookcase. The spider, not my son.

Hysteria kicked in and I kept slapping my face to make sure I hadn’t actually died? I was on my own, with a baby, and OH was stuck in a meeting miles away so I phoned the only other spider appreciator that I knew.. ex hubs!

The spider was now at large in the bedroom but EH strode in there like Bear Grylls. Granted, he almost trod on him as the spider was the same shade as the carpet, but he captured him and bunged him back in his tank. For this, I am eternally grateful for him and his lovely partner for coming to my rescue.

OH got the bollocking of his life when he got back home..

I named the spider, ‘Cooler King’ after Steve McQueen’s character in the Great Escape because, as escapes go, it’s up there with the very best.

I don’t know if it was the excitement of the escape or the shock of coming into direct contact with OH’s dirty undies but Cooler King didn’t live much longer before scuttling off into that big old web in the sky. The ultimate escape, bless ‘im.

Having faced my worst nightmare (sort of) I’m not as scared of them as I was but I’d probably still die if one dropped onto my face.

Not to mention the dreams I occasionally have of spiders escaping from tanks…

Hopefully, this post wont give YOU nightmares?

mumturnedmom

Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now..

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I was crap at PE. Not only was I crap at it, but I hated it as well. I hated everything about it down to those horrible scratchy pants we had to wear. Having been blessed with the coordination of Frank Gallagher after a few hours in the Jockey, it’s safe to say that sports were NOT my forte!

This post sums up my sporting achievements and woes (mostly woes) throughout my school life.

~ Infants ~

Lets face it, It’s OK to be crap at PE when you’re five.

GymnasticsOnce a week we went down the local drill hall to do gymnastics. The smell of feet was overwhelming along with the whiff of sick where someone had barfed up their Spam fritter after doing a forward roll. Mum bought me a black leotard, which I spent a lot of time extracting from up my bum! My one and only BAGA award was for a near perfect bridge. GO ME!

~ Juniors ~

The ante was upped in the juniors. Suddenly sport got serious and we were placed into houses, like in Harry Potter, only, shit. I was in yellow house, so in Potter world that would be Hufflepuff..

Rounders – The rounders kit came out and we were picked in teams. Fully expecting to be crap at it, I amazed myself by not being totally crap.

For every few miss-hits, the bat would connect with the ball and I would wallop it across the road. I even managed to win my team a game or two which ensured me being picked by choice the following week instead of being picked last, which was the norm for me.

Things were relatively bearable until we moved across the other side of the city. It was a new house, new school, new people and I was a walking mood, having just started my periods. The new school was big on sports. It had a massive brag cabinet with trophies and row upon row of team photographs (with some hilarious hairstyles) taken over the years.

Dance – All legwarmers and leotards with a really annoying teacher who fancied herself as Lydia (the dance teacher) from Fame. We didn’t pay with sweat. We paid with detention. She soon realised that I looked shite in a leotard and was about as coordinated as a fly after it’s been blasted with Raid.

HockeyI knocked a girl’s tooth out the first time I played.

JavelinI gave myself a nasty clout round the back of the head first throw and nearly impaled one of the teachers with the second.

High JumpSpent more time face-planting the safety mat than I did in the air.

Long Jump –  First (and only) attempt required first aid.

HurdlesAfter knocking them all down (and bleeding all over the PE instructor) it was decided that my talents did not lie in hurdling.

Shot-putt – Hand to eye coordination issues nearly rendered a fellow pupil unconscious.

100 metre sprint  –  Feeling thoroughly dejected by this point, I found myself back on the track (plasters on both knees) with the PE teacher (lets call him Teach for simplicity) shouting ‘For crying out loud, just run when you hear the bang, OK?!!’

Teach fired the starter gun and I ran like my mother had just caught me with one of her fags. Seconds later I was rolling around on the ground trying to get my breath back (I genuinely thought I was dying) when he sprinted over in his obscenely tight tracksuit bottoms and slapped me on the back saying. ‘1st place! You’re in the athletics team!’

I momentarily basked in the glory of actually winning something. But as Mozzer from The Smiths so eloquently puts it…

I was happy in the haze of a drunken hour But heaven knows I’m miserable now

Because within a short time, I found myself racked with anxiety as I was loaded onto a bus on route to the local athletics stadium to run for my town and county.

I didn’t want to be in the athletics team, truth be told. I was agoraphobic even then and the thought of running in front of hundreds of people had me dry heaving for weeks before the events. In his infinite wisdom, Teach put me down for the 4 times 100 metre relay race as well as the 100 metre sprint because, well, he was a bit of a twat. I was still having baton issues in the practice runs before the race. Hadn’t I already proved that I was rubbish at relay?

In the event, it was a fumbled baton exchange. On seeing my team-mate sprinting towards me (all red faced and jowly) I assumed the position, stuck my arse out and prayed that I wouldn’t drop the sodding thing. Somehow I managed to keep hold of it and pass it on to my teammate. I think we came fourth and I can’t remember where I came in the 100 metre but it’s safe to say I didn’t win or even come a close second. Teach (NOT a happy bunny) was sulking away in his X rated track suit.

The euphoria of my sports day win had turned to a misery worthy of a Smiths song. Here was something that I was genuinely good at but my useless brain wouldn’t allow me to take it further without sending my anxiety levels through the roof. So I gave up.

It isn’t just about confidence. It’s about having a brain that doesn’t cope well under pressure. All my life, this is how it’s been. Maybe if I’d have persevered I would have found a way to cope? But the truth is that I didn’t even enjoy running because I was self-conscious of my Brad Pitts and the fact that I wasn’t allowed to run in my cardi.

High School

My sports life consisted of a series of excuse me notes (thanks to Mum), a near drowning incident, a nervous twitch every time I heard a starter pistol and a phobia of batons for life.

Nuff said?

Creative Commons Photo Credit ~ ‘Pete’

mumturnedmom

You Want To Put That Camera Up My What?

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I saw the gastroenterologist on Monday and gave him my list of symptoms that I’d typed up via a Word document. Mr Gastro was most impressed with my graphic descriptions. “Well described!”, he said. I preened a bit.

‘Are you thinking cancer?’, he asked. I answered truthfully, ‘Yes!’.

Mr Gastro then ordered a colonoscopy.

At the mere mention of the word, my bum cheeks involuntarily clenched and my bum-hole snapped shut faster than a Venus Flytrap. You see, I’d consulted Dr Google a few (hundred) times leading up to the appointment so I knew exactly what it entailed.

Mr Gastro told me that he doesn’t think it’s cancer. I told him that while I appreciated that he was trying to put my mind at ease..both my parents had cancer. Dad’s being the aggressive kind which saw him trundling along the conveyor belt in the crematorium within six months of being diagnosed.

He didn’t try and fob me off with IBS. In fact, he never mentioned it. He thinks my symptoms require a closer look and by closer look, it means shoving a camera up my bum.

He proceeded to tell me what he thinks it is. Which is that my bum and stomach are ‘not communicating with each other. Typical, even my insides have social interaction issues!

At this point he told the nurse to make it a combined colonoscopy and gastroscopy. Basically, a camera up the chuff and one down the throat in the same appointment, folks.

If the tests come back clear, he will refer me to a specialist to sort out the ‘communication’ problems.

So I’ve been issued with some preparation (stuff what gives you the shits) and I have to wait a decade for an appointment to come through, as there is apparently a huge waiting list. I’ll probably die of old age before I get one. Or the Tories will have killed off the NHS in which case, I’ll have to flog a kidney to sort my bowels out.

In the meantime, I am tormenting myself with the gloom and doom from off the net…

Colonoscopies aren’t the most pleasant (or dignified) of procedures. You have to eat a special diet two days before the test and then you drink the preparation and wait for the world to fall out of your backside. Not looking forward to that, truth be told, but at least I’ll briefly be able to get into those skinny jeans I bought in a moment of denial last year.

No doubt I’ll be made to wear one of those ridiculous gowns that make you look like a complete twonk. Incidentally, I put one on the wrong way for a gynae examination and ended up flashing my minnie to a corridor full of old people. The nurse frog marched me back into the cubicle before one of them had a coronary.

To say I’m anxious is an understatement of massive proportions. They’ll be no need for that preparation because I’ll have shit myself dry with worry by then.

I’ve had procedures done before. I’ve been under GA twice and had umpteen people poking around in my insides. I’ve had an emergency C section and given birth TWICE, all without fear but now I’m a wimp and I blame the menopause because when my oestrogen buggered off, so did my bottle!

A colonoscopy involves a thin flexible tube being coaxed around the bowel. It allows them to see what’s what and you can watch it on the monitor if you wish…

Er, no ta.

I’d rather watch the box set of Geordie Shore, without sedation.

It can find ulcers, polyps, inflammation and tumors. It is the most effective way to diagnose cancer of the bowel.

My Googling sessions have advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages are the numerous people who say ‘colonoscopy? Walk in the park! Didn’t even know they’d been in!’ He he.

The disadvantages are the people who, for whatever reason, have had the experience from hell and feel the need to put the fear of God into everybody else.

There will always be these stories, not just to do with colonoscopies, but with most things. There are risks with this procedure but there are risks with all procedures. My dad’s misdiagnosis’s shook my faith in doctors but maybe I should focus instead on the fact that they probably saved the life of my youngest son who had to be born via emergency C section because I was bleeding internally, my eldest who had a testicular torsion and my middle son who was hospitalised as a baby with gastroenteritis. Mum’s cancer was caught early. My dad was extremely unlucky but I do have more to be thankful for than not.

I rationalise that given my symptoms, it’s probably wise to go through with it. Chances are it’s not anything sinister but leaving it to chance isn’t a risk I should be taking given my family history.

So I have to find a way to keep myself relatively calm over the next few months until it’s all over. My coping mechanism is to find the humour in the situation. Tell a few crap jokes. (ha ha) Also, I make no apologies for talking about matters of the arse because I think that we don’t talk about it enough. We get embarrassed about bum stuff and that costs time and ultimately, lives.

If you haven’t already guessed, I’m bricking it, and I’ll probably have talked myself out of doing it by the time the appointment comes. So I need people to tell me to stop being such a silly cow about it.

I’ll tell myself it will all be OK. I’ll wear the silly pants and try not to die of embarrassment when the air that’s been pumped into my bowels explodes in the consultant’s face. Another perk..

When I saw Sara’s (Mumturnedmom) prompt was calm, it reminded me that I must try to be as calm as possible or I’ll end up running out of the hospital still wearing my paper pants and flashers gown.

Going for an Eartha Kitt ~ Jim Royle

mumturnedmom

What Not To Buy The Menopausal Woman This Christmas

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In the spirit of the season, I am imparting my menopausal wisdom onto the male of the species so that they may not only survive Christmas, but gain valuable brownie points by not buying something totally crap for their hormonally challenged other half.

If your significant other is going through the *whispers* change of life, then read on, this post is for you.

If she isn’t at this stage of life yet, read for future reference. You’ll thank me!

Jewellery

Steer clear of chokers if, like me, your beloved has acquired an extra chin. Or two.

Lingerie

Us women know how you men love to wander through the lingerie department on Christmas Eve. It adds a little frisson of excitement with the added bonus that you just might get your leg over this festive season if we neck down enough mulled wine. It is Christmas, after all!

Reality check..

The skimpy bits of string modelled by anorexic looking dummies will most likely not translate as well onto your other half’s posterior. Thongs (bum floss) should only be worn by those with a functioning bladder.

Perfume

You’ll still be in an hypnotic trance brought on by the sight of all those bras and knickers as you stray into the land of the orange people (the beauty section) whilst looking for the exit. The combined scents of the perfume section are just about to put you in a coma when you have a brainwave…

“I know, I’ll buy the light of my life her favorite perfume – the delicate floral one she’s worn for the last thirty years”

Alas, due to hormonal changes, that perfume now smells like fox piss and will continue to do so until her hormones settle down again.

Cautionary note…

My dad bought my mother some Tweed when she was going through the menopause in the 1980’s. I now associate that smell with flying plates and slamming doors. I get flashbacks whenever I smell it.

Anti-Ageing Products

In the name of all that is Holy, DO NOT buy the menopausal lady anti-ageing make up or skincare products. You might as well write “Merry Christmas, you old crone!” on the gift tag.

We all buy it but you’re not supposed to know that. It’s our little secret.

Body Hair Removal Appliances

My OH asked me if I would like an “all singing, all dancing” body hair removal thingy for Christmas. I replied, “Yes dear, if you don’t mind spending the day at A&E having it surgically removed FROM YOUR ARSE!!!”

We might be turning into Sasquatch at an alarming rate but we deal with this in the beauty salon (if posh) or the bathroom with a Bic (if not). It’s our secret.

However, it is perfectly acceptable for women to buy their middle-aged OH’s nose and ear hair trimmers…

Stuff what requires AA batteries (or a small generator)

As you wander up the high street clutching a carrier bag containing naff slippers and a bath bomb, you spot a well known British multinational retailer company specialising in sex toys and lingerie, and think, “Ah ha!, I will buy my sweetie pie a little something to ‘blow out the cobwebs’ as it were.

Problem is that, being a bloke, you’re bound to buy something totally inappropriately sized for a woman who’s squeezed out babies the size of, er, Wales. So your ‘purse’ sized one will pail into insignificance compared to the seven inch bad boy she’s got stuffed in an old boot at the back of the wardrobe.

Get out of there, now!

No, don’t stop to look at the French maids outfit! (or the pretty girl serving behind the till) Your good lady is hormonal (bordering on psychotic) and more likely to strangle you with it than flick a feather duster around in it.

Kitchen Knives

Not a good idea for a woman who’s bang out of oestrogen.

Anything from Poundland

No.

Books

Steer clear of murder mysteries – don’t want to be giving her any tips.

Petrol Station Goods

Rest assured, if Schnookums rips open the wrapping paper on Christmas morning to find an ice scraper and a Magic Tree (or cheap equivalent) you’ll die.

A Onesie

In my opinion, the onesie is the worst fashion crime since the shell suit.

Hot sweats, malfunctioning bladders and general insanity make the onesie a no go area for menopausal ladies. “Eh-Oh!!” for sure or “soggy bottom” as they say in the Great British Bake Off!

Ped-Egg

You would only buy this as a gift for somebody you truly despise.

This year, I asked OH to have Alan Titchmarsh gift wrapped for me, complete with wellies and trowel. In return he can have Wendy James (Transvision Vamp).

Windy doesn’t have quite the same allure as she did in the 80’s (when OH was spotty) whereas Titchmarsh has aged like a fine wine and can still lay a decent patio.

I hope my little what not to buy guide helps to keep the yuletide A & E free.

Just to add that this isn’t representative of all menopausal ladies, so don’t panic! Some are total Goddesses. Sadly, I am not.

The one thing women don’t want to find in their stockings on Christmas morning is their husband.~ Joan Rivers

Image Credit Via Flickr

The Flip-Flop Saga

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The car was packed with the usual 1970’s beach paraphernalia – picnic hamper, deck chairs, blanket and windbreaker. We, that is Mum, Dad my brother and I were on our way to the beach. We were almost at our destination when I happened to glance down at my mother’s feet and saw black fur where her shoes should be.

There were a couple of possibilities..

a) She’d bought along a cat, though this was unlikely as she’d gone off cats since one had the audacity to use the dining room table leg as a scratching post.

b) Her toe-hair was seriously out of control.

Unlikely, as my mother was posh (ish) and didn’t do toe-hair. In the end I went with the most obvious conclusion that she’d unknowingly committed a most heinous fashion faux pas.

‘Mum, why are you wearing your slippers?’ I piped up from the back seat. She looked down, said a word totally forbidden to us kids, then had a go at us for doing her head in – thus making her forget to change into her sandals.

When I say slippers, I mean 1970’s slippers.

Like these only in black.

images slippers

I look at these slippers and I’m instantly transported back to the 70’s and Barry White making sweaty love to my mother via Dad’s massive HiFi speakers.

After giving us a bollocking she ordered Dad to do an about turn – which he wasn’t having any of as we were almost there. He told her she’d have to buy a pair of flip-flops from one of the seafront shops.

Now for us kids.. flip-flops were part of the holiday experience. We had a bucket, spade, a pair of flip-flops and the promise of an ice-cream if we behaved. Tall order as were were little gits, but it gave us the incentive to try.

I loved the flick-flacking sound the plastic sandles made as I flipped across the sand.  I did my mothers head in with my incessant flick-flacking. Once they were on they stayed on for the rest of the holiday. They always seemed to go missing once back home. Bit mysterious, that. Or not.

Mum wasn’t a flip-flop kind of woman. She worshipped at the temple of Dr Scholl – only they were back in the caravan..

Despite the risk of amputation via the toe-post, I’d always preferred flip-flops. A lot of the girls at school had Scholl’s. I’d tried Mum’s on once when she was distracted by Corrie but they felt heavy and didn’t have the same satisfying tone of flick-flack as the flops.

So, my father was dispatched into a shop and he came out with a pair of canary yellow flip-flops. By the look on Mum’s face you’d think she’d been asked to clean out the gent’s bogs without Marigolds. She flung her slippers in the boot and put the flip-flops on.

After we’d set up camp on the beach she had a cup of tea – chained her way through a few Silk Cut’s and after a while she finally stopped glaring at the flip-flops. And us.

In those days deck chairs were for the oldies. No fancy kiddie chairs like we have today, I should coco! If we were lucky we had a blanket to sit on or an old towel but no trip to the seaside was complete without taking half the beach back in the gusset of our swimwear. Add to that a cup of lukewarm squash, a cheese sandwich (literally) and some soggy crisps because some div (probably me) had knocked their drink over. At some point Dad had given into our relentless mithering to be taken for a walk along the beach. Ma and her flip-flops came along too.

It was all going well – a proper picture postcard moment – until we came across some quick sand. To cut a long story short, Mum got stuck and Dad had to haul her out in a most undignified fashion. After a couple of tugs, her feet were freed but they came out minus a flip-flop.

The beach had claimed it in an act of retribution.

Obviously, saying  ‘As soon as we get back, these sodding things are goin in the bin!’ invoked the god of flip-flop’s wrath.

So let my mother’s lesson be a warning to you. Never diss the flops!

We probably shouldn’t have laughed as hard as we did but kids tend to laugh at stuff like that. She wasn’t in any real danger and in any case, Dad was on it faster than Usain Bolt off the starting blocks. The only real danger was that I might actually have wet myself laughing!

Of all the holidays we’ve had that day has always stayed with me. My childhood, as far as my family was concerned, was a happy time. As the years went by and after a few glasses of wine I’d remind Mum of the day she went to the beach wearing her fluffy slippers and she’d laugh after giving me the obligatory playful slap on the wrist for being a cheeky cow. Now she’s gone and the memory is bittersweet, yet it never fails to make me smile.

I just feel sad because she can no longer share it with me.

Ultimately I feel blessed to have memories like this and there are plenty more where this came from. Mum may be gone but her legacy is one of love and laughter. I can’t look at a yellow flip-flop or mule slipper without smiling.

The highlight of my childhood was making my brother laugh so hard that food came out of his nose. Garrison Keillor

Image Credit Flip Flop

Photo of 1970’s mule slippers used with the kind permission off a bloke from Ebay.

mumturnedmom

 

You’re So Vain (you probably think this post is about you)

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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder but my idea of beauty differs greatly from that of the media.

Facelifts, Botox injections, teeth whitening and veneers are becoming common place for women these days and for television presenters of a ‘certain age’ it’s expected if they want to keep their jobs. Seemingly women have a shelf life, as opposed to their male counterparts, who’s only other requirement is a pulse. Men can go on presenting into their 80’s but women are put out to pasture on Radio 4 where they can still be heard but not seen.

The message from the media is that old is not beautiful.

As Catherine Tate’s ‘Nan Taylor‘ would say, “WHAT A LOAD OF OLD SHIT!!”

Women are becoming completely obsessed with their looks, desperately trying to eradicate the effects of time for fear of being replaced by a younger woman.

But what is beautiful?

The media portrays surgically altered and photo manipulated women as beautiful and as a result women are aspiring to be something that’s unrealistic.

Bigger boobs, smaller waist, thinner nose, bigger lips, smaller piss flaps, thicker hair, whiter teeth and muff styling – anything to change their appearance.

The result of continually going under the surgeons knife is something that wouldn’t look out of place in Madame Tussaud’s – only the really shit looking waxworks which look nothing like the celebrities they’re meant to be.

Then there’s these two…

I was stunned to read about the ‘Human Barbie‘, Valeria Lukyanova.

Er, what’s going on here then?

There is also Justin Jedlica ,dubbed ‘The Ken Doll” by the media, who has had 140 plastic surgery procedures in the last 15 years including 12 implants in his torso that mimic shapely arm and chest muscles.

According to him his body modification comes from a place of artistic creativity, not a mental illness.

Not deluded in the slightest!

If I was to come face to face with one of these creepy creatures, I’d presume that I’d been mixing my household chemicals again, or that I was actually dead and this was karma paying me for snapping the leg off a Barbie in 1978.

Recently Valeria claimed she wants to live only on light and air.

As you do..

In recent weeks I have not been hungry at all; I’m hoping it’s the final stage before I can subsist on air and light alone.

No, that’ll be the final stage before you die, but I’m sure you’ll look just fabulous in your coffin!

Normally, I’m a ‘whatever floats your boat’ person. If celebs want to take the risks with their looks, it’s tough false tits when it goes wrong but these ‘dolls’, especially the food dodger with her “food nihilism” and her message that surgery is the essence of beauty is alarming. They have a fan base, no doubt made up of perverts and impressionable girls.

For the good of humanity – load her and all the other ‘dolls’, including Ken with his fake pecs, into a rocket, light the boosters and fire em off into space before they have chance to reproduce.

Why in the name of Cher would anybody want to look like a doll? I had a Holly Hobbie once but I don’t want to have freckles tattooed on my face and wear a bonnet!

I’m not sure what alarms me more – the fact that people choose to do this to themselves or that unscrupulous surgeons are willing to exploit what amounts to mental illness. I am all for corrective or reconstructive surgery when it’s about quality of life, but this is insanity.

Celebs will go to extraordinary lengths to hold onto their youthful looks.

Mrs Beckham for instance, is rumored to be using a facial which involves bird poo.

Go sit on Blackpool prom with a tray of chips, Posh – you’ll be graced with more bird shit than you’ll know what to do with!

What’s so wrong with wrinkles anyway? They certainly haven’t done Dame Judi Dench any harm. She is proof that older women can be naturally beautiful and desirable.

I’m hardly Waynetta Slob when it comes to my beauty regime. I do try to look keep myself presentable but a twice weekly exfoliation and tash control is about as radical as it gets.

I’m growing fond of my lines. They show I’ve lived.  Many people don’t live to see their first wrinkle and at 44 I count myself lucky.

And I’m not totally against a little maintenance work here and there. Helen Mirren has had a subtle face and neck lift. The look is natural and in keeping with her age. She’s not trying to look 18 again.

I’ve grown up watching my mother trying to fend off time. She spent that much money on creams and potions, I expected a sympathy card from  L’Oreal when she died.

Her self esteem plummeted as she aged. She didn’t do age. She wasn’t comfortable with it. She’d get stroppy when we playfully ribbed her about it then she’d flounce off upstairs saying, “Sod the lotta yer!”

She had these amazing brown eyes and never looked more beautiful than first thing in the morning before the make up went on. She despised her wrinkles but I loved them, partly because I’d helped to put them there – especially the furrows in her brow.

I prefer natural beauty – amazing eyes and a great smile do it for me.

Maybe if society appreciated older women more, Ma would have been more confident with her looks.

My mother was a beautiful woman, she just couldn’t see it.

Lets take a look at these crows feet, just look
Sitting on the prettiest eyes
Sixty 25th of Decembers
Fifty-nine 4th of July’s
You can’t have too many good times, children
You can’t have too many lines
Take a good look at these crows feet
Sitting on the prettiest eyes

~ Prettiest Eyes – The Beautiful South

Image Credit

This post is part of  Mumturnedmom‘s linky.

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Some Mother’s Do Ave Em

Mother’s Day is coming. It’s the day where grown children dust off their old dears and take em to a garden centre. Or the pub.

As a society, we pay homage to our mother’s – acknowledging their sacrifices of body and mind. Body because the average mother’s stomach looks like a deployed airbag once it’s housed a couple of babies. The bigger the baby, the bigger aftermath. Trust me, I know!

Mothers will declare that they love their stretch marks because they remind them how lucky they are to have been blessed with children. Mothers wears these battle scars with pride. But occasionally after having consumed the best part of a box of Shiraz, they can be found slumped over an old photo of their teenage selves sporting crop tops and single chins.

They jab at the picture with a Wotsit and slur, ‘Thash uhsed to be me!’

Mind because all mothers succumb to insanity at some point.

Like millions of mothers, I’ve woken up on Mother’s Day to cards being thrust in my face, alongside cremated toast, anaemic looking tea and flowers that look suspiciously like next doors tulips.

Cards such as this one where I’m depicted as a svelte looking Princess and for some reason – blonde.

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For a while I was on a pedestal. This would change.

They mutated into teenagers – that’s why it changed.

I was turfed off my pedestal to make way for Nintendo, Cricket and South Park.

One memorable Mothers Day, my middle son kicked open the bedroom door and presented me with his card and a mug of tea. He was older by this time and the tea had evolved into something actually resembling tea.

I noted that there was nothing from my oldest child.

My ovaries shrivelled a bit.

21 hours of utter agony giving birth to him – complete with enema, intermittent vomiting, a seriously pissed off midwife who was bearing the brunt of a staff shortage, three stitches, having to walk like John Wayne for the next two weeks and the MOTHER of all haemorrhoids which to this day still gives me gyp. Miffed doesn’t begin to cut it.

My stretch marks flamed bright red (like Harry Potter’s scar when Lord Volderface was close by) and my Farmer Gile started itching like a bitch – always does when I’m stressed.

Nostrils flared, I flounced downstairs in my dressing gown and fluffy slippers to unleash Mothergeddon on my first born.

I plotted my revenge.

I would refuse to wash his cricket kit. Let him wash his own sodding jock strap. Ha!

And never again would I drive him around to deliver his papers because he was late and in danger of a docking of pay.

Then I heard the front door open and close.

A few minutes later, he walked in and placed an envelope on the mantelpiece. He looked shifty. He looked very shifty.

One solitary word on the envelope.

Mother

I opened it to find an untitled card with a old fashioned lady on the front.

I looked inside and this, dear reader, is what I saw.

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His dad was walking past. He glanced at it and casually said, ‘You’re dead, Son’.

It was half way through Mother’s Day and the Co-op had sold out of cards – so he’d improvised. Bless ‘im.

Once my eye stopped twitching –  I saw the funny side.

All I ever wanted to be was a mother and if I leave this world having accomplished only that, I’ll die happy.

 

To Mother’s everywhere – I salute thee.

Mother’s hold their children’s hands for a short while, but their hearts forever. ~ Unknown

If I Were

Saw this on Starring Stella  It seemed like fun so I thought I’d join in.

A month ~  I’d be July.
A country ~ I’d be Wales  – tidy.
A time of day ~ I’d be 8.50 am. School drop off time.
A sea animal ~ I’d be a hermit crab
A direction ~ I’d be North because Northerners are ‘ard.
A liquid ~ I’d be gin
A gemstone ~ I’d be ruby – like my eyes after too many gin’s.
A tree ~ I’d be a Christmas tree.
A game ~ I’d be Scrabble – 14 points.
A famous painting ~ I’d be The Lady of Shalott
A flower ~ I’d be a daisy
A kind of weather ~ Being menopausal, I’d be unsettled.
A musical instrument ~ I’d be a harp – pluck yeah!
A piece of furniture ~ I’d be a rocking chair
A colour ~ I’d be green
A means of transportation ~ I’d be a mobility scooter
An emotion ~ I’d be worry
A fruit ~ I’d be a lemon
A sound ~ I’d be laughter
A vehicle ~ I’d be a 1980’s Ford Escort wiv furry dice & as many K-Tel compilation tapes as can be crammed in the glove compartment.
A place ~ I’d be a lagoon
A taste ~ I’d be tomato sauce
A scent ~ I’d be bleach
An animal ~ I’d be a seagull and do a chip dive on Blackpool Prom, opposite Harry Ramsden’s.
A random object ~ I’d be a TV remote and annoy people by going missing down the back of the sofa.
A body part ~ I’d be nostrils
A song ~ I’d be ‘The Lunatics Have Taken Over The Asylum’. The obvious choice.
An item of clothing ~ I’d be flip flops

If you fancy a bash, link up yours on City Girl Gone Coastal

Confessions of a Cleaner

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Once upon a time I was a domestic engineer, in other words I was a cleaner!

Cleaning wasn’t the most glamorous job I’d envisioned having, but it paid some bills and put food on the table. I joined a company and they gave me the job of cleaning a warehouse, (mainly offices and bogs), by myself! So, er, go me!

Apologies if you don’t like the word ‘bog’ but in this case it’s apt. Particularly for the Gents!

I was issued with a tabard, (a most unsexy uniform worn by workers in the catering, cleaning and healthcare industries, in case you didn’t know), pleas for a protective suit and face mask went unheeded, though my supervisor did grant me extra air fresheners and rubber gloves.

The worst part of cleaning is the toilets. It’s a SHIT job, literally!

I had a big sign made up so the Neanderthals would know when the toilets were out of bounds because I, the FEMALE cleaner, was in there cleaning…obvs! Mostly they obeyed the sign which allowed me time to do my thing with the mop and VAT of disinfectant.

But it was in this latrine most foul that my eyes were opened to the depravity of the male species.

Being a sister, wife and mother meant that I had loads of experience with unidentifiable organic life-forms and general man-pong but this was in a different league altogether. We’re talking Biohazard level 3!

Arming myself with two cans of Pine Fresh, (one in each hand), I’d walk up to the Gent’s door, kick it open with a swift boot from my size 4 slip-on and call out..

“YOOOO-HOOOOO, ANYBODY IN HERE”?

Occasionally someone would fart, (man-code for yes), so I’d hover outside wafting a duster about until they exited the room. Then I’d slap the “DO NOT ENTER, CLEANING IN PROGRESS” sign on the door and wade in blasting both cans of air freshener simultaneously, a bit like Lara Croft (if Lara Croft was like Nora Batty)

This ritual was necessary for me to be able to work in that room without falling into a stench induced coma. For those of you who have never cleaned professionally, (specifically toilets), but who do have teenage sons..well, you know that smell when you walk into their bedroom first thing in the morning and you nearly die from the fumes? Well multiply it by, ooh erm, a million and you might get the idea.

Monday was the worst day to clean the Gents because they’d all been on the lash the night before with maybe a curry or a dodgy kebab on the way back from the pub….OK, I’ll leave it there! The graphics are burned into my memory but I’ll spare you!

Removing The Sun, (open at page 3), or the Daily Sport, (open at any page), from at least one of the cubicles was a daily occurrence. There were normally copius amounts of bog roll strewn on the floor, chocolate wrappers and half-eaten pies. Yes PIES!!!

Who the hell eats a PIE on the toilet???

BARF-A-RAMA!!!

On one occasion I prodded open a cubical door with my mop and saw a vending machine cup on the floor and next to it was a page 3 lady with large breasticles pouting at me.

WARNING!! IT GETS EWWWWWY!!

On closer inspection, the cup was a third full of some transparent liquid and what looked to be a PUBE, floating in it. I’ve seen some sinister looking stuff drop out of the vending machine but never that!

By now you have probably exceeded the maximum on your Vom-o-meter and I apologise but I exceeded mine on day one of the job.

Mums, if you have little boys at home, take a good long look at their innocent little faces. Hold them close to your bosom and savour the moment because in a few years, they too will turn into creatures capable of such foul deeds. I’m warning you, as is my duty.

Then there was the time when the door burst open and in strutted a young man who proceeded to whip Mr Winky-Dinky-Do out into the urinals.

The sign was clearly on the door and I was standing in the middle of the room… I’m small but I’m not a Borrower!

Standing there leaning on my mop, I said, “Oi, didn’t you see the sign on the door?”

He winked at me, (with the eye on his face), and said “Yeeeah, I don’t mind if you don’t, I’m bustin!”

I think I’d been flashed…

Didn’t quite know what to do with that so I Iaughed at him, which was possibly not the reaction he was after!

Nope, this kind of cleaning isn’t for the faint-hearted. You need a certain kind of attitude (or the ability to develop one) and it helps enormously if you have no sense of smell.

My claim to fame is that I came across some graffiti one day that said “I’d sh*g the cleaner”! It’s not everybody who can claim fame on the loo wall. Well classy!

Of course they could have been referring to the previous cleaner who was about 60. And male.

Who knows?

If you see a miserable cleaner, you now know the reason why. Pity them because they’ve seen some bad stuff, you know? If you see a smiling cleaner, they’ll most likely be high on a concoction of tranqs and disinfectant!

“Golly, I just love cleaning toilets”. Said no cleaning lady ever.

Image Source

This post is dedicated to Sheerie, as promised. xXx