Monthly Archives: October 2003

The following morning at breakfast we discovered another quirky feature of the countryside life.

On a weekend away in the countryside Una Guardian discovers the problems of being made to feel like a single mother while your husband stands idly by.

The weekend was an unmitigated disaster from start to finish and it was one which had started with such promise. Adrian, or the insipid one as I like to call him, tried to disturb my plans for a successful weekend away right from the offset. Earlier in the week St. John and Matilda had called me up, well Matilda had called me, St. John is lovely and all but he’s more of a doer not a thinker, Matilda is the one who plans their lives. St. John and Matilda are so parochial it’s unbelievable they live only three hours outside London but you’d think they had chosen a compulsory wilderness. I mean they don’t even have a dishwasher for God’s sake. My mother has been on at me for weeks now to stop “taking the lord’s name in vain” in my column, she doesn’t understand what it is like for a career girl in London these days. People like me have to swear just to be noticed. She doesn’t understand me in the same way Matilda doesn’t, Matilda doesn’t understand that it would be impossible to be a proper career girl in London without a dishwasher. And the way she went on about having to arrange the Bed and Breakfast for the nanny? God (there I go again) you’d think she was about to suggest that the nanny sleep in the same house as us. I mean really? Considering what the insipid one did to the last one!

Our first argument surfaced when we stopped for my first smoking break. Yes folks I’ve started again. I blame Adrian, he suggested the other day that I’ve “piled on a few pounds” – I haven’t – and that was all it took. So considering we have a policy of not smoking on our children we stopped by the road to smoke and Adrian suggested that we change over driving duties. He really just doesn’t understand does he? I mean how am I supposed to look after the kids and drive at the same time? He certainly won’t look after them will he? And we can’t have the nanny with us she has to take the train to stop Adrian from looking at her all the time and not concentrating on the road. Anyway I get my way eventually, he’s grumbling that if I’ve got so much on my plate then I should delegate more to the nanny. Well she can’t do my smoking for me can she Adrian? I can’t order her to go down to the gym and work off the pounds for me can I Adrian? Although I do order her down to the gym to work off her own blubber, I can’t abide fat people raising children, goodness knows what kind of impression it would give them.

So to keep up with what I had been saying to Adrian I examine the kids and check to see how they are enjoying their educational toys that were given to us by those lovely people at www.toysrus.com I’m not sure that they are impressed with them to be honest. I think that’s the problem with education it doesn’t interest the kids at all. But there was no way I was going to let Jeremy, or Bronwin as I’ve increasingly taken to calling him – what were we thinking when Adrian named our children, play with his Nintendo Gameboy Advance – I mean St. John and Matilda would think we were common.

After we arrived we spent an afternoon running around different shops in the village including one which sold antique doors. Matilda announced that for dinner we would also be joined by some of their neighbours, Sebastian and Nelly. These guests were an absolute disaster. They have a new baby and you know what that can be like. They never stop talking about the poor child, and I think they’ve trained it to cry at key points when other people are telling interesting stories about life in London, Guilford and the surrounding environs. I mean who brings a child to dinner anyway? We sent Jeremy and Lucy off with the nanny like any decent human being would do. Apparently Sebastian and Nelly think it’s acceptable to bring up a child without a nanny. Well maybe it would be if you didn’t move in certain circles but really one has started to believe that Sebastian and Nelly might be seriously downwardly mobile.

The following morning at breakfast we discovered another quirky feature of the countryside life, Sebastian and Nelly returned for breakfast with their baby. Apparently all dinner invites to neighbours now come with an invite for breakfast the following morning so despite having gone home after dinner they were coming back for more. Just as we were discussing this strange custom and the possibility of it taking off in London, Lucy came into the room complaining of a pain in her shoulder. Both of the kids had been sleeping on the floor on airbeds and Lucy’s hadn’t been inflated properly by St. John and now her shoulder was hurting. To her credit the nanny found the number for a 24-hour-call-out osteopath in the area and we were instantly hurtling off to seek his advice. Despite us being the only patients he was going to see on a Sunday we still had to wait 15 minutes. Although initially I was thinking this unfortunate it was in fact quite the opposite. Bronwin, or Jeremy as the insipid one likes to call him, noticed that this osteopath didn’t have as many certificates on his wall as the one back home in Guilford did. And when Bronwin, my little 10-year-old wunderkind, quizzed the call-out osteopath about this he agreed that he didn’t have as many qualifications as our usual osteopath and that in fact he could do some harm to my poor little Lucy. Thinking back on it now I should have never trusted somebody that a nanny could find in a book for goodness sake. As my mother always said, “By recommendation or not at all, and a book is not a recommendation”. It’s a saying that has always stuck with me and perhaps it will stick with you?

The journey back home was not a pleasant one as it was very hot in the car and the air conditioning unit had broken down. Adrian kept shouting at me that I was supposed to have fixed it by taking the car to the service station but he doesn’t seem to understand that it would have been impossible for me to get back to the house. What does he expect me to do take a bus? Only Adrian would have bought a car from a company with a service station south of the river, not even taxi drivers go there.

Once we got home, and Lucy had spent an hour at a London osteopath that she didn’t like because the man smelt of sherry, I decided that the poor kiddiewinks had had quite a horrendous weekend and that I would spend some quality time with them myself. So for a break I sent the nanny back to Guilford to clean the house. I always feel guilty when we go away for weekends because we don’t go and vist the Guilford house, but knowing that the nanny had been in and spring cleaned the place would make me feel a little better about it. Adrian has snivelled off to his club, and with any luck won’t be back until after I’ve gone to sleep. I’m sure he won’t mind me telling you all of this as he takes another sort of newspaper that I don’t care to mention here. So as I write this I’m doing the motherly bit of looking after the kids, I plonked them in front of a Disney Classic which are now available 2 for the price of 1 from our lovely friends at www.amazon.co.uk and am enjoying a glass of the old vino while I write up this account of my weekend for all you lovely people. And my message for you all this week is this: Looking after children isn’t that difficult, because if my nanny can do it then anyone can.

As the man moved past Simon’s seat, Simon extended his leg and the man tripped over it.

A man on the train was pointing at an advertisement with his umbrella and a drop of water fell from it onto Simon’s neck.
“If I shot him with the gun I have in my pocket,” Simon thought, “would anybody notice? Would anybody care?”

He thought about this for a moment and decided that about seventy percent of the people in the carriage would notice and about twenty percent would care. He would probably be the only person who would think it was reasonable.

He wished that he had an umbrella so that he could pretend to accidentally prod this man as he left the train and then say “Oh, I’m sorry.” This phrase generally allows you to get away with anything. The phrase, in Simon’s opinion, was not quite strong enough to let him get away with murder though, so Simon didn’t shoot him.

The man with the umbrella stood up as the train pulled into Vauxhall Station, Simon remained seated. Revenge would be worth being a couple of seconds late at getting off of the train. As the man moved past Simon’s seat, Simon extended his leg and the man tripped over it.

Afterwards Simon would always have problems convincing people that if he had been wanting to kill the man he would have just used his gun, after all there was no way that Simon could have hoped that the man’s umbrella would stab him in that way. But there was something in the smile that Simon couldn’t hide from his face that always made people doubt that he was telling the truth.

Well, okay, so it was my fault.

I would like to take this opportunity, aka today’s article, to apologise to those regular readers who have missed Monday and Tuesday’s articles. While I would love nothing more than to take the blame for this turn of events I would like to have the record show that it wasn’t my fault.

Well, okay, so it was my fault. You may, or may not, know that the articles are prepared some time in advance and that there usually is a good bit of slack in the system. But the main problem is that the slack is only on paper. I generally write these articles on paper and then type them up before uploading them to the site.

Sadly for us all I left a pad of paper which contained this weeks articles somewhere in Sussex last week. Which meant we were all denied our articles. But, I thought, never fear! I shall go and rescue the articles from certain death. And so I set off. It was a long and tortuous journey, but in the end I was rewarded with finding the pad of paper.

THE END – Seemingly.

But the story doesn’t end there. Once I was ensconced in deepest darkest Sussex I needed to type and upload the articles. Simple you’d think, they have computers even in the home county’s. Some people would even claim it’s almost as sophisticated as London out there. But I digress. They do have computers which are attached to the modern internet and everything, but in my haste to go and find the lost pad I had forgotten one very important thing. My password.

I couldn’t upload the articles, so I asked the web hosting service to send me a new password – which they kindly did.

THE END – Seemingly.

But the story doesn’t end there. Once I had asked them to send me the password I discovered that my internet service provider has been having e-mail delays due to some kind of nasty virus that’s going round this time of the year. So although my new password was winging it’s way to me I couldn’t actually read it until Wednesday. So here we are finally caught up. Please read the previous two articles, you can find them in the archive or here (article 1 / article 2).

THE END – Actually.

“Wow,” Steve thought, “this is uncomfortable.”

Steve called over from the shore.
“Why are we here again?”
“I just like it okay?” He was talking to his girlfriend. He didn’t mean to be critical. But that was just his conversational style. Most of the time she didn’t mind. But when something was important to her or when she was in a bad mood it bore right thought her.

But today was not like that. It was important but it was also his day. She’d been plotting it for months. A day of sex on the beach. It was a day that was all about him.

It had all started with his diary. So she had a vice. Was that so bad? Everyone had something. And so what if hers was reading other people’s diaries? She walked closer to him.

“So, isn’t this romantic?”
“Well. It is getting dark, I think twilight is romantic.” She said with an effort, when he really meant, “are you freaking kidding me? There’s sand, and ticks, maybe even some moths, disease and probably used condoms from all the losers who think it’s romantic to have sex on the beach.”

If her unconscious had been able to hear that she would have mentioned that people who have sex on the beach probably don’t stop to have safe sex and that any condoms there are probably washed on shore and are most likely the direct result of the water board, which he works for, not having put the pipes out far enough. But she wasn’t so she didn’t. Instead, she said, “come and lie next to me.”

They both lay down after Steve carefully checked the sand.

“Wow,” Steve thought, “this is uncomfortable.”
“This,” though Louise, “is less comfortable than I thought.”
“Look,” said Steve, “Why are we doing this? Because if it’s your fantasy then I’ll go through with it but otherwise I’d rather not.”
“What?”
“No, look, I’m sorry, I’ll do it.”

Steve started some of his incredibly predictable moves. Louise pushed him away.

“What? I thought you wanted this? I thought you loved sex on the beach?”
“Well the drink.” “Oh.” “Anyway? How did you know that?”
“You must have mentioned it.”
“No. I never did my friend would have laughed at me.”
“Oh.”
“So? How did you know?”

Start finishing up your drinks now please.

“Start finishing up your drinks now please.” It’s the common call of bartenders, and bar staff everywhere. And it doesn’t make any sense.

We all start finishing our drinks the minute that we start them. It’s a universal thing. The problem is that they’re including the word “start”. They’re actually adding words which aren’t necessary. Which seems an odd thing for people who tend to spend as much time as possible subtracting words from their sentences. “Time Gentlemen please.” See, there are only just enough words in that sentence. Well actually this common version of the call lets women off the hook at one fell swoop. Which is why you will often see women arguing semantics with bartenders at closing time.

Britney, Beyonce, Christina? Madonna!

So I’ve been trying to think of some way to encourage the uptake on my calendar idea (see previous article for details: click here). I think modern way to get things accepted is to hire some kind of celebrity to help me advertise. My first thought, was to go for somebody from the world of pop. That way I’d be able to get my calendar idea to appear more light and fluffy instead of all stuffy. Maybe, I thought, they could create a song which extolled the virtues of the calendar through the popular medium of song.

Well it was worth a shot. But who would it be? Britney, Beyonce, Christina? All of them seem a little “flash in the pan”. What we need is some kind of star quality that’s in for the long haul. Madonna! That’s it. She’ll be perfect. Especially when it comes to convincing the Catholic church, well Madonna worked for them last time. “Hey everyone we’ve got this new calendar, it’s really good, it’s an awful lot like the Roman one, but don’t worry about that. We’ve looked into it and it’s really great. Oh and by the way, if you don’t believe us Madonna will be appearing soon and she’ll whack a few stigmata on you for your troubles.”

Anyway I think if I can get Madonna to get a private audience with the pope this week I might be in with a chance. It would seem that the current Pope has gone completely mad. At least that’s what I thought. He’s has named more saints in his reign as Pope than all the other Popes combined. This, I thought, was probably just a sign of his own dementia and whatnot. But the other day I suddenly realised what it probably was. In the last 1000 years there have been 124 popes (and 23 anti-popes*) but only 5 of them have been made Saints. He’s trying to get himself canonised.

He probably got the idea from Margaret Thatcher, no I’m not kidding. By the time Thatcher came to the throne it was generally considered unacceptable to create hereditary peerages. But she wanted one. She wanted it bad. So she made Harold Macmillan a earldom. He became Lord Stockton (the title is now held by his grandson). Which meant that when she retired it was more acceptable for her to be offered a hereditary title of her own. Which she was. Now that Dennis has died you may be surprised to learn that Mark “what I was just wondering out here in the desert? No those aren’t arms behind my back – well they are arms but you know, not weapons” Thatcher is now Hon Sir Mark Thatcher, Bt.

So that’s what the pope is up to I reckon. He’s out for the sainthood. He’s practicing his card tricks right now. Surely if he can get a good one in, in front of one of the more doddery cardinals he’ll believe it was a miracle? Surely. Anyway so this is my big chance. If he thinks his legacy is going to be assured by being one of the millions of Saints he’s created then he’s going to be sorely disappointed. If he wants a new legacy he needs to get all the Catholics to sign up to my new calendar.

So that’s it I’m strapping a halo to Madonna as we speak, and I’ll be parachuting her in the first chance I get.

*Antipopes don’t come before the pope (like antipasta) but they are like pasta made out of plastic.

The woman down the corridor is speaking very loudly.

The woman down the corridor is speaking very loudly. He has a right mind to go and have words. But he doesn’t. Of course, “Can you stand this woman?” he says, as though he’s talking to the guy at the next table but secretly hoping that he doesn’t answer.

He does, “She’s alright.”
“Doesn’t she annoy you?”
“No. I’m deaf.”

Neither of them say anything for a second.

Then the deaf guy says, “I’m reading your lips.”

Terry looked nervous.

Terry looked nervous. He had every reason to, he’s given up smoking which was reason enough to make anyone look shifty, he’d just been given a pint which was enough to remind him how much he missed smoking and he had just told his wife he wanted a divorce.

“Well you can pay for your own pint then.”
“Oh yeah. Sorry.” Terry put too much money on the table.
“So why do you want a divorce then?”
“You don’t look very upset,”
“Why? Should I be?”

Julia crossed her arms and did something with her eyes which let Terry know she had a secret. A secret that she thought Terry wouldn’t like. A secret that he was just about to find out about.

“I don’t know,” Terry said, “I thought you might… You might… have feelings for me.”
“For you? For you? You’ve been sleeping with my sister for three months Ter, and you think I hae feelings for you.”
“Well we’ve been married for a bit.”
“Yeah…”
“And we was… courting a while before that.”
“Yeah…”
“And that sorta usually means feelings.”
“Maybe to other people Ter. But not me. Not us.”
“Anyway. I’ve got myself someone.”

There it was. He had known it was coming, but he had a secret of his own.

“Yeah. I’ve known about that.”
“What?”
“Yeah. It’s Mike Wassisname innit.”
“Mike Barry.”
“Yeah that’s him.”
“So I figured. We’ve both sorted ourselves out now. Maybe it’s time to finish things properly.”

He was saying it. And it sounded good, but she had that look still. He hadn’t deflated the look.

“So it’s not because you want to marry my sister?”
“No! Not now! I mean. I suppose it’s a possibility in the future. But not now. This is not about that it’s about tidying things up.”
“Yeah. Okay. I believe that. I’m ready to be cut loose from you Ter. Give me a divorce.”
“Wait a minute.”
“What?”
“What’s the thing?”
“What?”
“There’s a thing.”
“What?”
“Look I haven’t been with you all this time without picking up a few fings. Firstly, I know there’s a thing. And secondly I know you’re dying to tell me what it is.”
“Sarah’s already married. She’s continued to see him the whole time she’s been with you. He’s found out about you. He’s forgiven her. She’s going back to him. They have a child. And she’s going back to him.”
“I need a cigarette.”

It’s a cheese and wine party not a cheese and cheese party.

One half of a phone call…

“It’s the only language they understand.”

“Yeah. It’s because they’re Baptists.”

“What? It’s a cheese and wine party not a cheese and cheese party.”

“Tell them we’re boycotting it.”

“look it’s the only language they understand.”

“But I’m doing it for the principle not just plain avarice.”

Leon-Battista Alberti.

One of the Italians has found a boyfriend. The other one is sadly missing hers. So they both have boyfriends now. Which is handy because it means that Pete and I are safe from the perceived agents of disaster.

Ah the long distance relationship. An exciting prospect at the outset, but after a couple of days the novelty probably wears off. The lad in question is a young man from Scotland, he’s half Irish too just to add to his mysterious Celtic genetics. Throw a few extra Cornish genes and he’d have the set (if you ignore the Welsh – which you do at your peril if you’re Anne Robinson).

But he lives in London now, and studies with my brother. He came back to the flat with the Italians and Pete and decided (as people will often do when they’re drunk) to buy some property. Man, it has often been said, is nothing without a bit of land to call his own. It’s just a shame that the particular piece of land he wants to buy is that which is just above my roof – the upstairs flat. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind the lad, in fact he seemed thoroughly pleasant. But the reason I was upset about him moving upstairs was that in my mind I had already married him off to the Italian he was cuddling. I had them living in a small farm somewhere outside Rome, cooking spaghetti every day and watching movies.

And who knows it may still happen. In a few weeks he’s on the return exchange, he may get to drinking a few beers, and he may get to thinking about land again, and this time the land might be in the country that invented perspective* and who knows he might even gain some.

* Leon-Battista Alberti