Sunday, 30 November 2008

Stir-Up Sunday

So, it's here at last, the First Sunday of Advent, or Stir-Up Sunday, as it's sometimes known, so called because the traditional opening prayer of the Mass was:

'Stir up Thy might, we beg Thee, O Lord, and come'

It is also the day on which, each year I am helped (I use the term loosely) by this lot to make the Christmas cake.

Sadly, I seem to have lost the recipe I have used for the last twenty-odd years, so this year we have tried a new one from here and apart from a slight mishap with the ground almonds, everything seems to be okay. This recipe uses sherry. I can't abide sherry, so I have replaced it with a good dollop of Cointreau. I'd like to say I had it in, but we tend not to keep alcohol of any description in the house, for obvious reasons. Whilst Stella may remain his favourite tipple, the Father of This Lot is not particularly fussy, and regardless of what it is, if it has fermented, he'll drink it!

I'd like to tell you that all the uniforms are washed, dried and ironed, but I'm not a liar. You may have been vaguely aware that the Manchester Derby took place today, so obviously, my laundry session had to wait until it was over.

Instead, I thought I might go to Tesco to pick up the remaining ingredients for the cake which I also wasn't allowed to bake till the full time whistle had gone.

Football Fanatic: NOOOOOO!!!! Not Tesco!

Me: Why not?

Football Fanatic: You went to Tesco the other week before an early kick-off and they got beat by Arsenal.

Plan C, then. I was, much to my delight, allowed to clean the kitchen, since apparently during a match at Everton two seasons ago, in which United were 2-0 down, I cleaned the kitchen and they came back to win 4-2. It worked anyway. United have got another three points and I've got a sparkling cooker and fridge.

So that was Stir-Up Sunday. The cake's in the oven, the candles are in the Advent wreath and the Father of This Lot's in the Mare and Foal.

Just like any other day really!

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Thursday, 27 November 2008

Options Evening

Here's the thing.

Given the strange Christmas present circumstances I find myself in, I reckon I have two options:

1. Rant, rave and bang about a bit. Get a taxi to town (she was right - it wouldn't fit on the bus) and stand in a very long refund queue. On return of cash, spend the best part of a day getting all the right presents, queue up to pay and get a taxi home because by then I will have lost the will to live and will be unable to face getting a bus.

2. Make myself a nice cup of tea. Sit down, and ponder on the fact fact that I have five healthy kids, all of whom will find Christmas Day far more exciting than if we had stuck to the original plan. Wait until my preferred shopping period of well into Advent, and finish the present buying myself.

I choose Option 2.


I find myself choosing Option 2 (well, the thankful-for-five-healthy-kids-so-does-it-really-matter bit) quite often these days.

Quite fitting, really, for Thanksgiving.

And anyway, if, on Christmas Day you fancy a game of darts (that's a few arrers to you, Ttony):

....or a spot of baseball practice:

......then you'll know where to come, won't you?

(Only do try and dodge the clay pigeon rifle as you're coming up the path. I don't know whether the house insurance will cover it).

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Now, Where Was I............?

......oh, yes - I was pond-dipping in almost frozen water when my phone rang.

Me: Hello?

FF: It's me. I can't find the coat, and they haven't got any of the stuff on the list.

Me: What do you mean they haven't got any of the stuff on the list? I checked it all on the internet lastnight.....

FF: But they've got MUCH better stuff than what's on your list. I'll just get what I think shall I?
Ciao for now!

Me: NO! You will NOT get what you think.....Hello?......Hello?

I hadn't gone much further when she rang again.

Me: Hello?

FF: It's me.......if you buy 'Bullseye' and the pasta and pizza utensil set you can get 'On the Ball' free! Don't you think that's mint?

Me: Do you mean 'Bullseye' the television programme?

FF: Yes!! You could be Jim Bowen!!!

Me: No. DO NOT BUY 'Bullseye'!!


Me: Because it involves darts. I draw the line at darts. Just get the stuff on the list.

FF: MUM! You're so boring!

Me: That's as maybe, but I have no intention of spending Christmas Day in Casualty, thanks.

Twenty minutes later:

Me: Hello?

FF: MUM! Wait till I tell you what they've won't believe it!!

Me: I don't want to know what they've got. JUST GET THE STUFF ON THE LIST!!

FF: But Mum, they've got remote control fighter aircraft!! Can you imagine the hours of fun........?

Me: This is the last time I'm going to say this. I do not want you to buy anything that is not on the list AND I ESPECIALLY DO NOT WANT YOU TO BUY ANYTHING THAT FLIES!!!

FF: What about the darts?

Me: No darts.

FF: But Mum, I've bought them now........

At this point I heard some background conversation, obviously directed at the Football Fanatic:

'I'd better go and get you a trolley for all this lot, or would you prefer the 'Collect by Car' service?

FF: Mum?

Me: Yes?

FF: If I get a taxi home, will you pay?

Me: Why can't you get the bus?

FF: I don't think I'll be able to get these massive boxes on the bus......


FF: The Clay Pigeon Shooting set, the Baseball Launcher and the dartboard with cabinet........

I really will not blame you if you don't believe a word of it.

I wouldn't believe it either. If I didn't live here.

Monday, 24 November 2008

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time.........

I don't do Christmas.

That is a complete and utter lie.

Obviously, in a Catholic household that is stacked to the rafters with kids, someone has to. And we all know where relying on the Father of This Lot would get us, don't we?

What I meant to say was I don't do Christmas in September, October or November. In fact I don't usually even mention it until we get into Advent. (WELL into it, if I've got anything to do with it, but I digress).

The department store which (foolishly) employs the Football Fanatic was having a one-day 20% off sale last week. Add to that her 20% staff discount and the 3 for 2 offer on all Christmas gifts, toys and games, it was, quite frankly, an offer I couldn't refuse.

Unfortunately, the one-day-sale clashed with my school trip day, so I couldn't go.

It was decision time.

Should I miss out on the opportunity of getting most of the Christmas presents at almost half price, or should I......horror of the Football Fanatic to get the presents for everybody ON HER OWN WITH NO ASSISTANCE??

It was a tough one.

I thought long and hard.

And finally.....I succumbed. ('Mum, how hard can it be? What could possibly go wrong?')

And so, on the morning in question, we set off in different directions.
Me, to the Arctic wastelands, and she to town..........with a list.

Re-living the events which led to this post has quite frankly worn me out, so you'll have to wait till tomorrow for Part Two.

But before I go, I must admit to being quite dismayed at some of the comments I got on yesterday's post. Some of you seemed to think that I had MADE UP the biretta/beretta comment by the Football Fanatic.

Would I lie to you?

Ask yourselves, in all honesty, living with this lot, do I need to?

I PROMISE YOU, she really did say that!

And for anyone who didn't get it, this is a biretta:

....a cap worn by the Roman Catholic clergy, mainly abandoned sometime around 1970, when we went over to the new style Mass......

.....and THIS is a beretta:

......a handgun usually featured in gangster films.

Actually, Fr. J thought it was quite funny.

But then, he adores the Football Fanatic. Has done since she was a little girl.

It comes of never actually having to live with her, I expect.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

A Very Catholic Post

If you are not one of my handful of Catholic readers, I suggest you look away now.

As you know, I do my best to be as ecumenical as I can. I'm all for this one flock and one shepherd business - just ask the Monday morning Methodist Bible study group.

But when Fr. J, (a post Vatican 2 priest if ever you met one) sings the Kyrie, Sanctus and Agnus Dei from the Missa de Angelis, preaches from the pulpit and rounds off the Mass with 'Faith of Our Fathers', well, you just can't beat it, in my opinion.

I sang all the way home. When I got there, I said to the Football Fanatic:

'I'm telling you, if he carries on like this, he be rooting in the back of that wardrobe and dusting that biretta off before Advent Sunday'.

To which the Football Fanatic replied:


Too much Al Pacino and not enough Bing Crosby, if you ask me.

For nostalgic Catholics:

and for Working Mum:

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Thursday, 20 November 2008

Up On T'Moors

Today I have accompanied Year 5B on a school trip to Castleshaw, a picturesque little valley nestling within the Saddleworth Moors.

I think I can say without fear of contradiction that you have only experienced a similar feeling of cold to that found on the Saddleworth Moors in winter if you have previously holidayed in Anchorage, Alaska. Or possibly Lapland. You get the picture?

And quite whose bright idea it was to take a party of 26 nine-year-olds pond dipping and fell-walking in November, I have yet to establish.

But I will!

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Sunday, 16 November 2008

From My Inbox

Call me a bad housekeeper, but I never remember to delete the texts on my phone until it bleeps at me and flashes 'Memory Full'.

Well today, I have done it without being bleeped at. And now I wish I hadn't, because on reading them, the full knowledge of the sad life I lead has engulfed me.

Let me explain.

Whereas the Football Fanatic receives texts which say:

'Hi beautiful. Fancy going out tonight?'


'Was that you on the telly on MUTV?'

or even

'D'ya wanna swap your 2 Celtic tickets for 2 right behind the bench?'

mine are more likely to say:

'What's 4 tea?'


'I'm in the taxi now. Will you stand at the door with the money?'

And it doesn't end there.

The Fixer and The Peacemaker get texts saying:
'Going ice skating on Sat. Wanna come?'
'R U playing out afta?'

The Singer gets:
'Meet me on MSN in 10. Something really good to tell you'.

Even The Noise had one saying:
'Do you want to come and play with my new puppy?'

So purely for your entertainment, I will record here for posterity some of my text conversations with my nearest and dearest:

Fixer: Wats 4 tea?
Me: Shepherd's Pie.
Fixer: Yuk!
Me: Would you rather have a roast beef dinner with all the trimmings?
Fixer: Yes please!
Me: So would I. But tonight it's Shepherd's Pie.

Most of the Football Fanatic's texts are to do Often she texts from the match. Such as:

'There's been a goal at Old Trafford. You'l have to wait till the next commercial break to find out which way it's gone.....'

If it's an evening match she shows no regard for the fact that I might be otherwise engaged:

'Do u want me to ring when it's over?'
Me: No thanks. Two phone calls and six texts during the New Catholics meeting was quite enough thanks'.

And then there's the ones from the Father of This Lot. Quite often I text him at night while he's at work to see how he is. His replies often feature his colleague Carlos, a Spanish vet, otherwise known as 'that stupid Spanish b*****d'. For example:

Me: Are you ok?
Him: I will be when I get out of here. That stupid Spanish b*****d's slowing the line down again'

'That stupid Spanish b******d doesn't know his a**e from his elbow'

And they say romance is dead.

Actually, there is one that I have saved which says:

'Jackie, you know I love you. It's not my fault you don't believe me'.

Yes, well, the jury's still out on that one mate. In my opinion, actions speak louder than text messages.

But the prize for the top text has to go to the one I got the other afternoon from the Football Fanatic. In response to one of my numerous 'Where are you?' messages, she replied:

'I'm locked in a Range Rover outside a crack house in Cheetham Hill...'

I THINK she was joking.......

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Monday, 10 November 2008

Just Sitting Here.......


.....why there is a pair of pink spotty knickers hanging from one of the hall lights....

....why every single one of the fourteen kitchen cupboard doors is open....

....why nobody in this house bothers with me unless I am on the phone or in the bath, when I suddenly become the most exciting person on earth.......

....why, despite the fact that I seem to do obscene amounts of washing and ironing, nobody ever has anything to wear......

....why, when I discovered the Football Fanatic scrabbling under her bed in the dark and asked what she was doing, she replied, 'I'm looking for the tomato sauce'....


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Saturday, 8 November 2008

Saturday Is (No Longer) Baking Day

This morning I got up very early and baked a cake.

This afternoon United lost 2-1 to Arsenal.

Guess what I won't be getting up early and doing on Saturday mornings in future?

I think the Football Fanatic has calmed down now.

Well, the banging's stopped...........

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Guest Post

Happy Birthday Mum!
Do you think we'll beat Arsenal on Saturday?
Love from
The Football Fanatic
x x x

Happy Birthday Mum
Shall I start the singing off?
Lots of Love
The Singer
x x x

Yo Mum!
Have a great birthday
I'll fix it for you!
Love from
The Fixer
x x x

To the best Mum in the world!
Have a fantastic birthday!
Lots of Love and kisses from
The Peacemaker
x x x x x

To My Mummy
Have the best day in the world ever!
Lots of hugs and kisses from
The Noise

x x x x x x x x
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Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Half Term, Take Two.....

.....proved surprisingly quiet, given that The Noise was involved.

I have to say that, despite all my misgivings, we had a lovely week together.

The Noise proved to be exceptionally helpful around the house:

Didn't seem to mind doing the boring stuff:

Made all the cakes for the Trick or Treaters herself, icing them in colours which, even if I described, you would have trouble believing:

Went on a few of these:
 travel around various parts of the region so that I could spend inordinate amounts of money on what can only be described as useless junk.

And now she is back doing this:

And I am missing her dreadfully!