Saturday, 28 March 2009

Domestic Blitz

With Easter swiftly approaching, I felt again that primeval urge........ spring-clean.

A quick trawl around the internet will find you numerous sites advertising 'spring-cleaning checklists'. You can, if you so desire, print them off and carry them round the house, presumably in your apron pocket, ticking off items as you go.

Sadly, they're not much use to me, being full of instructions such as:

Dust coils at back of refrigerator


Clean filters above cooker hood

Anybody carrying out a quick casing of the joint here would realise I need a more basic list, such as:

Scrape baked-on yoghurt from plasma screen TV using a flat-bladed knife....


Discard and replace all rabbit-chewed items, including bedding, shoes and various soft toys....

or even

Actually ENTER teenage bedrooms with a view to cleaning, rather than standing at the door thinking 'Dear God, whatever did I do to deserve this.......'

Anyway, I've made a start. And as I sat surveying what I had accomplished lastnight, I had to admit, it didn't look half bad.

Now, I just need to find a way of keeping this lot locked out till Easter Sunday............

My legs look pretty good on this one, don't you think?

Sunday, 22 March 2009

It Didn't Look That Big in the Shop....

After a ridiculously busy two weeks I felt in need of a little cheering up.

I had been eyeing a large mirror in the window of the charity shop, which, I decided, would look perfect in the loft, and, undeterred by the chest of drawers fiasco, I went in and bought it.

It took two assistants to get the mirror out of the window, and it quickly became clear that I wouldn't be able to carry it on my own.

I nipped back to get The Fixer, and we set off. The fact that we had to be rescued by Jim next-door-but-one will give you some idea of the size of the mirror.

We hauled it up to the loft between us, propped it up and took a step back.

The Fixer: God, Mum, it's MASSIVE! Why do you always have to buy the biggest thing in the shop?

Me: Do you think your father will notice it?

The Fixer: Maybe not, if he comes home REALLY REALLY drunk............and if he's been struck partially blind in the Mare and Foal this afternoon..........

In other news, we are now officially a house made up entirely of double figures.

The Noise is ten today.

Happy Birthday, Little One.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Second Sunday of Lent

Whoops! Should have posted this yesterday!

Today's first reading was the story of Abraham and Isaac.

A couple of years ago I bought The Noise 'The Jesus Storybook Bible', which, if I had my way, every single child in the world would own.

When I read her today's story from this Bible, I cried buckets. Every time I have read it since, I have cried buckets.


It's a story I've heard a thousand times. It's never made me cry before. Am I going soft in my old age?


I cried because The Jesus Storybook Bible makes a connection that had never occurred to me.

It explains how Abraham and Isaac walked up the hill to the place where the sacrifice was to be made, Isaac carrying the wood for the fire on his back. It explains how Isaac did exactly as his father told him to do, without asking any questions,and without complaint.

And then, at the end of the story, it says this:

Many years later, another Son would climb another hill, carrying wood on His back.

Like Isaac, He would trust His Father, and do what His Father asked.

He wouldn't struggle or run away.

Who was He?

God's Son - His only Son.

The Son He loved.

The Lamb of God.

That's why I cried.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

It's What Saturdays Were Made For

In an attempt to keep the Sundays of Lent slightly more holy than other Sundays in this house, I decided to see how much housework I could get done today, rather than spread it over the whole weekend.

I was slightly hampered by the fact that United were playing in a FA Cup quarter final, and as you know, on match days, I am not allowed to wash, dry, iron, bake cakes or go to Tesco. And if you don't know, don't ask. It's not worth it, and it will lower your assessment of my sanity considerably.

Anyway, aided and abetted by The Fixer (everybody else having suddenly remembered previous appointments, homework and promises to go and see Nana) we did manage to get through copious amounts of cleaning - including the Manchester Centre for Bacterial Excellence, otherwise known as the kitchen floor.

And since on match days I am allowed to clean the stove, everything is now sparkling clean for Sunday.

Oh, and United won 4-0 and got through to the semi-final.

Who am I to mess about with the laws of the universe?

Did anyone spot the deliberate mistake in the picture? Go on, have a closer look.

Yes, you guessed it. This picture gives the impression that the Father of This Lot helped out.

Fortunately, I managed to find one of how he really spent his afternoon.........

Roll on Sunday!

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

You're In The Army Now!

I got this in an e-mail and thought you'd like it:

Life in the Australian Army.....

A letter from a kid from Eromanga to Mum and Dad.

(Eromanga is a small town west of Quilpie in the far south west of Queensland)

Dear Mum and Dad,

I am well. I hope youse are too. Tell me big brothers Doug and Phil that the army is better than workin' on the farm - tell 'em to get in bloody quick smart before all the good jobs are gone!

I was a bit slow at settlin' in at first, cos you don't have to get up till 6am, but I am enjoying the lie-ins now. All you have to do before brekky is make ya bed and shine ya boots. No bloody cows to milk, no calves to feed, no hay to stack - nothin'!! You have got to shower though - but it's not so bad, 'cos they've got hot water and even a light to see what you're doin'!!

At brekky, you get cereal, fruit and eggs, but there's no kangaroo steaks or possum stew like Mum makes.. You don't get fed again till noon, and by that time all the city boys are buggered 'cos we've been on a route march - geez, it's just like walking to the windmill in the back paddock!

This one will kill me brothers Doug and Phil - I keep gettin' medals for shootin' !! I dunno why, cos the bullseye's as big as a bloody possum's bum, and it don't move around and it don't fire back at ya like the Johnsons did when our big scrubber bull got into their prize cows last year. All ya gotta do is make yourself comfortable and hit the target - you don't even load your own cartridges 'cos they come in little boxes, and you don't have to steady yourself against the rollbar of the roo shootin' truck when you reload!

Sometimes ya gotta wrestle with the city boys, and I have to be real careful 'cos they break easy. Only one at a time as well - not like wrestling with Doug and Phil and Jack and Steve all at once like we do at home. Turns out I'm not a bad boxer either - it looks like I'm the best the platoon's got. I've only been beat by this one bloke from the Engineers - and he's 6 foot five and 18 stone - and as ya know, I'm only 5 foot seven and eight stone wringing wet - but I fought him till the other blokes carried me off to the boozer.

I can't complain about the army - tell the boys to get in quick before word gets round about how bloody good it is............

Your loving daughter,

Sunday, 1 March 2009

First Sunday of Lent

Prayer of 'Letting Go'

That I may let go of grudges in order to forgive
That I may let go of past hurts so that I can be healed
That I may let go of judgments in order to accept
That I may let go of self-pity in order to be compassionate
That I may let go of greed in order to give to those in need
That I may let go of negativity in order to be positive
That I may let go of blame so that I can affirm
That I may let go of hate in order to love
That I may let go of control in order to serve

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Pancake Tuesday? Surely Not....

I cannot believe the speed with which Lent has approached this year.

I've still got Christmas decorations waiting to go up in the loft.

It used to be months from Christmas to Lent - not days like it is now.

Perhaps my advancing years have something to do with it.

Anyway, having prepared a very nice tea, followed by a pudding with custard, my kitchen has now turned into this:

...and looks like remaining so until the batter runs out.

And anyone who has got the time to do this:

........should come and spend a week in this house.

That would sort their prioroities out.

Please don't try to contact me. I shall be on a mission wandering round the house looking for any spare chocolate to eat before midnight.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Exasperatedly Yours, Manchester

If I could have got near this computer yesterday I may well have written a post entitled
'Thank God it's Friday'
which would have summed up my half term holiday week - kids, extra kids, rabbits, my mother.....the list goes on.

If I had more than two minutes to spend here now, I might write a post called
'Run, Rabbit, Run',
in which you would realise, if you are familiar with the wartime song, why my sympathies lie firmly with the farmer and his gun, gun, gun.

Instead, and since I only have two minutes, I shall relate a small, but exasperating vignette of my day.

Naturally, it involves the Father of This Lot.

Him: Right - I'm watching the football later. If you want to go shopping, you'll have to go early. That's if you want to go.......

Me: Let's see. There have been upwards of seven kids here all week. They have eaten us out of house and home. If we were Jewish we wouldn't have to search out crumbs, because there aren't any.

Him: I'll have to pick the car up from the garage. Back in a bit.

An hour passed. And another.

I rang him.

Me: Where are you? When you said 'back in a bit' I assumed you meant the five minutes it takes to drive home from the garage....

Him: I'm just helping out...I'm taking signwriting off a's quite good actually - there's a machine a bit like a paint stripper.....

Me: Spare me the details. Hurry up - I've got to get something for tea......

Him: Right. I'll be about an hour.

That was at half past one.

At twenty five to four I rang again.

Me: Let me guess......the Mare and Foal?

Him: No, actually......The Cotton Tree......

And to think I was wondering only yesterday what to give up for Lent........

Sunday, 15 February 2009

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

Oh yes......trying to ascertain what on earth the Football Fanatic had been doing all morning.

FF: Mum, what's the panic? I've got twelve missed phone calls and three texts from Ryan.

Enter Ryan, stage left.

Ryan is a good friend of the Football Fanatic.

Ryan lives with Jack. Remember Jack?

Well, not 'lives with' obviously. Shares a flat with.
Actually, at the moment shares a villa in Spain with, because that's where they've both gone to open a new nightclub, but I digress....

(Yes, Jack's still around. And don't be fooled by the fact that he's living in Spain. He nips back to watch home matches and take the Football Fanatic out with alarming regularity).

Back to Ryan. Ryan knows a lot about police procedure. He's been in a lot of police stations.

Put bluntly, Ryan likes a good fight. Not a dirty fight, you understand, just the lager-and-testosterone-fuelled Saturday night sort of fighting that young men have indulged in for generations.

Ryan uses a police van on a Saturday night like other people use a taxi home. In fact Jack was once heard to say that if Ryan sees a Tactical Aid Unit in the city and he's not in it, he feels like he's missed out.

In short, Ryan knows how long it takes to give a witness statement.

Text 1 (11.30): Are you out yet? How did it go? Ryan

Text 2 (12.00) What's going on? Are you still in there? Ryan

Text 3 (12.30) WHERE ARE YOU? I've been arrested, questioned, charged and out on bail in less time than this....

The Football Fanatic maintained that she had just been talking to the policeman.

Talking him to death more like. For an incident which took approximately two minutes, the poor policeman was required to write EIGHT A4 SHEETS of paper, which was her account of what had happened.

At one point, she drew him a floor plan. Not a floor plan of the hotel where the incident took place, but a floor plan of the department store, outlining where everybody works, how everybody is inter-related and probably who fancies who.

About an hour into the interview, another police officer actually came into the room to check whether everything was okay. The poor officer taking the statement was probably so dazed at this point that he wanted to shout 'HELP ME' but couldn't actually form the words.

Obviously, I cannot write the entire transcript of the interview, but here are a few little gems:

PC: Had everybody had a lot to drink?
FF: Well, I don't know about anyone else, but I hadn't. Not at £8 for a vodka and coke, anyway. I'd had two drinks. I think I've still got the bill actually says a single and a double, but everybody tasted it and we all agreed there's no way that was a double.....

PC: So what happened then?
FF: Well, I went in to get Karen and Sheila.......Sheila from Shoes, that is, not Sheila from Menswear......and I told them what had happened but no-one believed me, so I explained the whole thing again and then Sheila said 'Come on, our Emma, get your coat'.....because Sheila's Emma's mother.....did I already tell you that?

PC: It takes quite a lot of force, you know, to push someone down a flight of stairs.......
FF: Oh no. Not those two. They're only about seven stone each.....which by the way, is my target weight.......

PC: And then?
FF: Well, I knew it was bad because she was lying there at the bottom of the stairs and her leg was at a funny angle, and so was her arm. But I'll tell you how I really knew it was bad......when she fell, her dress flew up and she had black knickers on....and there's no way she would have carried on lying there with her knickers showing if she hadn't been really hurt........

Shall I carry on?

I thought not.

But you get the picture, don't you?

I can honestly say that Bootle Street nick have never been more glad to get rid of anyone in their entire history.

Jack came home from Spain for her birthday and spent the next two days shaking his head in disbelief at the amount of drivel she had actually come out with.

In the end though, we did come up with a positive slant on the situation.

In the event that the Football Fanatic ever does get in trouble with the police on a Saturday night, they will radio her name through to the desk, and a sergeant with a modicum of common sense may well radio back:

For God's sake, don't bring her in.
We'll be here three weeks.

Friday, 13 February 2009

'Ello, 'Ello, 'Ello. What's All This Then?

Well the winner by a country mile was A, or

'Why The Football Fanatic Spent Her Birthday At The Police Station'

so here it is.

I've noticed we've got a few new readers, so for their benefit I feel I must point out again that the Football Fanatic, whilst highly intelligent, is alarmingly lacking in common sense.

(If you stick with this blog, this will probably become more and more apparent, as age does not appear to be wearying this trait).

Oh yes. She eats a lot. And talks a lot. Please keep this in mind, as it is rather pertinent to the story.

A few weeks ago, the Football Fanatic attended a staff 'do'. Dinner Dance, actually, at a rather posh hotel in town. During the course of the evening, a fight broke out. I say fight - it was more of an all-out brawl, fists flying, furniture flying, the works, which culminated in two sisters being pushed down a flight of stairs by a person who shall remain nameless, as this whole post is probably 'sub judice' and I am more than likely in imminent danger of being had up for contempt of court or similar in the very near future.
Anyway, the only witness to this sordid event (because she happened to be coming out of the Ladies Room which was near the staircase) was the Football Fanatic, who was subsequently called into the police station to give a statement.
Police Officer: Hello, I wondered if you could come in and give a witness statement this morning?
Football Fanatic: This morning? Well....I suppose I could.....but can you tell me how long it will take? It's my birthday, you see, and I've got to meet someone at dinnertime and after that I've got a surprise party arranged that I'm not supposed to know about, obviously.....
Police Officer: It won't take long. Half an hour at the most. Is eleven o'clock ok?
So, off she went. I did offer to go with her, but she was adamant that she'd be alright on her own. I told her to ring me as soon as she'd finished, which by my reckoning would be about half past eleven.
As you have probably guessed, half past eleven came and went. So did quarter to twelve........and twelve o'clock.
Where on earth could she be?
Ten past twelve....quarter past twelve......
By this time I thought she was in a cell somewhere and that I would be getting a call soon asking me to come and pick her up.
Finally, at half past twelve, the phone rang.
'Hello? Mum? It's me'
'What in God's name have you been doing all this time?'
Part Two tomorrow.......sorry, but there's a houseful of kids, plus two extra, plus rabbits, plus the Father of This Lot.......and I genuinely haven't got another minute to spend at this computer. At the moment, my cup not only runneth over, but is in danger of becoming a flash flood.

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Cast Your Votes!

Here's the thing.

I have several things to tell you, but a very busy day ahead. (See C, below).

So, I thought you could vote for which story you wanted to hear first. (Though why you would want to hear any of them remains somewhat of a mystery).

Here's the choices.

Would you like to know:

A) Why the Football Fanatic spent most of the morning of her birthday at a police station......

B) Why there are a family of rabbits living in the front bedroom, causing The Fixer and The Peacemaker to sleep downstairs for the last two weeks so as not to disturb them.........or.........

C) In the light of B above, what on earth I am going to do with the two friends The Peacemaker has invited for a birthday sleepover TOMORROW.............

It's up to you.

Vote A, B or C.

Calls will cost 50p from a BT landline. Charges from mobile networks may vary.

Lines will close at midnight.

If you want me, I'll be cleaning.


Thursday, 12 February 2009

The Number Twelve

I think twelve must be a very important number.

There were, after all twelve tribes of Israel, and twelve apostles - whom, we are told, will eventually sit on twelve thrones judging said tribes.

Twelve months of the year, twelve signs of the zodiac, twelve labours of Hercules.....the list is endless.

Today, twelve is important in this house because it is the number of years The Peacemaker has notched up.

Twelve on the twelfth - which does after all, only happen once in a lifetime.

Twelve is also important because it is the age at which you are allowed hair straighteners of your own, and no longer have to sneak about using other peoples hoping that your mother won't notice.

(Hair straighteners are the things which mothers buy in desperation after a particularly fraught week when they have completely forgotten the importance of the number twelve until the day before and cannot think of anything else to get).

Happy Birthday to The Peacemaker.

May you have a lovely, peaceful day!

(Unlike your particularly fraught mother who is now off to buy ingredients for a cake and a box of revolting, not-a-trace-of-nutrition chicken dippers which you have specially requested for your birthday tea).

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Rest in Peace, Mrs. Fox

'Mrs. Fox', (Angie) was a regular commenter on here until last year. Then she got cancer, which she called 'an elephant in my living room' and which she wrote about here.

I just found out from her friend Liz's blog that Angie died just before Christmas.

Mrs. Fox (left) and her friend Liz from Mabel's House

In her own words:

'I won’t pretend that there aren’t moments when I feel angry, but I try very hard not to give into them because there are people in the world who have much harder lives than mine.
There are people in pain, without homes, without food, without family or friends. I have a beautiful life, surrounded by warm, loving family and friends. I have a husband without equal who fills my life with laughter and unconditional love.
My life is good and I thank God for every second'.

Eternal rest grant unto her O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon her,
and may she rest in peace.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

How Do You Measure Up?

Now, bearing in mind that I'm talking about furniture here, if a man says to you:

'Have you measured it? Will it fit?'

Do you assume he means:

a) have you gone and stood in the place where the piece of furniture is to go, got a tape measure out and measured the space


b) have you worked out some form of simultaneous or quadratic equation involving length, breadth and height, applied Pythagorus' theorem, thrown in a few logarithms, multiplied the whole lot by 3.142 and taken away the number you first thought of?

I thought so.

Let me explain.

A week ago, I was strolling through the antique market when I spied the perfect chest of drawers for my bedroom. I should point out here that my bedroom is in the loft, reached by the continuation of the main staircase onto the top floor. Admittedly, there is a slight turn in the staircase, but as I don't buy bedroom furniture very often, I don't usually think about it.

Anyway, my beautiful chest of drawers was duly delivered and was left in the hall, where it stood waiting patiently for the Father of This Lot to arrive, take one look at it and announce:

'That won't fit in the loft'

I ignored his comment, mainly due to the fact that I had measured said chest of drawers, stood in the loft and measured the space. There was acres of room.

Anyway, yesterday, The Fixer and I found ourselves at a loose end and decided that we would 'do it ourselves'. We took all the drawers out, lifted the frame onto the loft stairs....and got stuck.

There were various shouts of

'Back a bit'


'To me, to me'

and more than once

'Ow, mum, geddit off me foot'

before we finally admitted defeat.

Unfazed by this, I said:

'Never mind kiddo. Your father will do it tomorrow. He is fantastic at getting things round corners'.

Because he is.


So when he arrived today, he was despatched to the landing to move the drawers. He said:

'I knew when I first saw that thing that it wouldn't go in the loft. But...just to keep you happy....'

It wouldn't go in the loft. He started going on about angles and other boring stuff, and I may have been heard to mutter something along the lines of:

'If the landlady at the Mare and Foal asked you I bet you'd get it in the loft'

To which he replied:

'If the Angel Gabriel came down and asked me, I couldn't get that thing in the loft. The only way that will go up there is if you cut it in half'.

The Fixer and I looked at each other. Without a word, she knew I was giving her the nod to go and get her father's chainsaw from the garage. Sadly the Father of This Lot knows us only too well and said:

'Don't even think about it. And don't ask me if I know anyone who can take the bannister out either, 'cos it'll cost about three hundred quid to put back'.

Damn. That was going to be my next question.

So, I had to admit defeat. Can you imagine my distress?

Obviously, it couldn't stay on the landing, so I had to put my beautiful chest of drawers in.....The Singer's bedroom, a nightmare of a place if ever you saw one, where it now rests, surrounded by David Tennant posters and housing a purple portable television on its beautifully polished top.

I could spit.

If I weren't a finds-joy-in-all-circumstances, unselfish, generous-to-a-fault-with-my-furniture Catholic mother, that is.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

By Way of Explanation....

....and in response to all your very kind comments and e-mails wondering whether I have actually shuffled off this mortal coil, I've not. (Obviously).

But I thought you might like to know what happened, so I'll be as quick as I can:

1. Watch in disbelief, in the middle of December, as all the words and icons on your computer screen sort of slide off into the corner...

2. Ring a friend of a friend, who diagnoses the problem as a 'bloodhound virus', which after much technical terminology appears to mean that the computer is as dead as a dodo.

3. Frantically attempt to justify splashing out on a new computer two weeks before Christmas.....

4. Fail miserably.

5. Try not to think about the fact that none of the Football Fanatic's university work, the Singer'sGCSE coursework or the thousands of retro pictures that you have spent years collecting are backed up.......

6. Suddenly remember that somewhere, towards the back of the hall cupboard, is a dusty laptop...

7. Search the house from top to bottom for the CD which will connect the dusty laptop to the internet.

8. Fail miserably.

9. Wait TWENTY THREE days for a replacement CD from the internet service provider.

10. Finally receive CD, insert into CD drive and wait...

11. Realise that said CD is never going to connect you to the internet if you sit here messing with it for the next hundred years.

12. Do ten rounds with TalkTalk engineer in to the outside world........

I feel I should point out here that our connection is not as good as it used to be (I know how it feels) and is prone to going off without so much as a by your leave. So, if I go AWOL again in the near future, you'll know where I am.

I absolutely had to post today, because we have a birthday in the house.

The Football Fanatic is twenty today.

Well, chronologically she is twenty. In reality, she informs me, she is 'twenteen', a word which the Urban Dictionary defines as:

1. the new age for a person who doesn't want to lose being a teenager once they hit the age of twenty!

2. The age between nineteen and twenty-one. Twenteen is used when the birthday boy/ birthday girl is not excited about no longer being a teenager and feel like if they mask the age behind a false definition, the pain of getting old will lessen.

And on that basis, I reckon I'm about for-teen and three quarters.

Give or take a few weeks.