I don’t know where to start really. I’ve actually been quite legitimately busy for the last two days. Usually I just sit round on my arse pretending to be busy and making up stuff to write about so that I can feel like I’ve been tremendously industrious, when in fact I have mostly, as my children so succinctly put it: ‘been living in la la land’. Now I have real things to write about I am slightly nervous.
I did make a list though didn’t I? That might be a good place to start. Let’s take it from the top:
Ah, yes! This all came about because the children are very keen on eating boiled eggs and soldiers for tea. Whenever I ask them what they want for tea, which I try not to do very often because the results invariably begin and end with the words ‘chicken’ and ‘nuggets’ in close proximity to each other, the second result is usually boiled eggs with soldiers.
The weird thing is that they don’t actually like the boiled egg bit very much. Neither of the girls will eat the yolk at all, so they eat egg white with toast, which seems highly unsatisfactory to me, but they like it. I think they enjoy the ritual more than anything else. In fact they enjoy hitting their eggs so much that I actually bought them egg cups of their own after they took a socking chunk out of one of my pale blue Nigella ones and made me cry.
The thing that gets me when they have boiled eggs is the fact that they’re so useless at it. They are totally clueless about the etiquette of eating boiled eggs. Now, I don’t seem to recall having any difficulty at all with eating what was known in our house as ‘dippy eggs and soldiers’, dippy because you dipped your soldiers in them, not because they made you mental (thanks Edwina). It was all very straightforward, and we just got on with it. You hit the top of your egg with your teaspoon a few times, sliced the top off with the edge of your spoon, removed a little shell and whacked your soldier in it. Bob was your Humpty and all was well with the world.
My kids can’t do that. The first time they had them I patiently demonstrated upon an egg in a Delia like, domestic and highly practical way. I asked them if they knew what they were doing, they assured me they did and then they beat the shit out of their eggs, using their spoons like some Ninja weaponry and ending up with what was effectively scrambled egg with bits of shell in it, sore arms and nothing to show in terms of edible produce. Since then I have demonstrated the art many times, including the enjoyable denouement where you trick your amazed and gullible relatives by turning the egg shell upside down in the egg cup and inviting them to hit a ‘new’ egg, knowing full well that their spoon is going to plummet into nothingness and you will be Loki, the god of hilarious egg type pranks.
They love this idea, just as they love the idea of boiled eggs in general. Can they achieve it? No, they can’t. I remain utterly perplexed. I sat there watching them on Monday night thinking: ‘Have I bred a generation of idiots who will go on to breed even more idiotic people?’ I got quite depressed. Then I decided to blame the schools and have laid the blame squarely at the feet of the educational experts and their ‘dumbing down’ strategies. I felt a lot better after that and treated myself to a biscuit.
It may also explain other failures on their part to grasp the simple childhood concepts that we all used to sail through with aplomb in the nineteen seventies and which now leave my children gaping like stranded fish. These include:
- The operation of a spud gun
- Parachutes for dolls, furniture, stupid pets and members of your immediate family
- The ‘hilarious’ nature of the Carry On film genre: ‘But mummy, I don’t understand why that man is dressed as a nurse? Why is it funny that he’s wearing socks in his bra? Why is that man pinching his bottom? Mummy? Mummy? Why have you turned over?’
- The concept that if you do evil things quietly you’re much more likely to get away with stuff.
- The failure to grasp the simple concept of a practical joke, i.e. that you don’t tell the person you’re about to practice it on all about it beforehand.
So, boiled eggs. Back to the drawing board.
Jason, as you may know, apart from being keen on being The World Poker Champion, would also like to be an evil genius. His evil genius role model has always been Darth Vader. On Sunday night the kids came out of the shower and for some reason decided to line up on the landing like nine pins in order to dry themselves. Oscar was facing a painting we have of Darth Vader leading his troops into battle with the Death Star looming in the background (Clearly not one of mine), and getting terribly excited. I started dirging away at the Imperial Death March for him, and the girls joined in. At this point he was so excited that he started leaping up and down and doing his own version which involves him shouting ‘DAAAAAAHHHHH DAAAAAAHHHHHHH DAAAAAAHHHHH’ very loudly and off key for several moments and then making lovely sucky inny outy type noises for the Darth Vader breathing noises. Jason was near to tears with pride and joy when he heard him. His son is finally coming into his true inheritance and will indeed one day be the Dark Lord of a vast empire stretching over billions of galaxies. The only thing that could possibly make him happier was if he combined that with being the natural heir to Jeremy Clarkson. It was an emotional moment for us all…
Mowing The Lawn:
Whilst I was getting the kids ready for bed on Sunday night Jason decided that he had to mow the lawn. We didn’t get back from my mum’s until seven, but there was no denying him his right to mow, and off he set with the Flymo and the strimmer, looking pissed off and self important all at the same time (it’s a skill). He sweated and huffed his way about for about an hour and came in, ruddy and knackered and needing a stiff sit down and several cups of tea.
I asked him why he didn’t leave it for me to do one day in the week when Oscar is at nursery, but apparently it turns out that he holds my mowing prowess in low esteem. I have been informed that I am, and I quote ‘rubbish’ at mowing the lawn. I am extremely hurt by this criticism of my mowing ability. It is one of the few household jobs I actually like doing. I love the smell of the grass and the mindlessly repetitive nature of the job. I particularly like it because it’s quite dangerous which means that the children can’t help me, and they have to stay indoors, pressing their small noses up against the French windows and looking wistfully at me with some kind of power tool. It’s very peaceful because with all that racket from the mower you can’t hear them howling to be let out.
Anyway, there I was thinking I was quite good, when it turns out that I am crap. Apparently, according to my venerable husband, Alan Titchmarsh’s right hand man, I don’t take my mowing seriously enough, which leads me to produce shoddy workmanship.
I know this because we had to have an hour long, in depth discussion after his throwaway remark about me being rubbish, to establish just how rubbish I was and how come he’d never said it before. We never got to the how come he’d never said it before, because when the words ‘shoddy workmanship’ passed his lips I flounced out in a huff and went to make a cup of tea. I am deeply, deeply hurt by his accusation, and one weekend when he’s out pretending to be an elf and sharpening his plastic sword I’m going to mow that bloody lawn like it’s never been mowed before. It will be a revenge mowing and it will win prizes on Gardener’s Question Time when I send in a picture. So there…
Saj’s Fashion Call:
Saj complained that my summary of her and her activities makes her seem shallow and that I must do something to rectify this immediately. I cannot vouch with hand on heart that Saj is kind to old ladies and animals, although she is very sweet to my three, delightful children. She did however do me proud at the weekend. When I was taking time out from worrying about what I was going to say to The Modfather, I spent the rest of the time worrying about what I was going to wear. Saj suggested that I hot footed it down to Primark and take advantage of their splendid offer of skinny jeans for six quid. She said that it’s what all the rock chicks are wearing this year. Consequently I did that very thing and wore them yesterday night.
I wore them with my 1920’s vintage top that my Gran gave me and I did look very rock chick indeed. I spoiled it a bit because I wanted a little bag to put my purse and phone in. I looked at all the rock chickette offerings and didn’t like any of them. In the end I plumped for a Charlie and Lola rucksack from Boots for a tenner. It has a picture of Lola on the front and the legend: ‘I will not ever never eat a tomato.’ I love it. The kids think I am the coolest. The rock contingent weren’t impressed. I was though when I realised I could get my sandals into it. I wore my four inch patent dominatrix heels, and then when it came to the mosh pit, I whipped them off, stuck my comfy sandals on and grooved the night away. I bet Kate Moss does that too when there aren’t many cameras around.
Silly man on a mobile:
Ah! Yes! Right in the middle of the gig yesterday, may even have been during a very noisy rendition of Eton Rifles (I was telling this to my dad and he thought I said Elton Trifles. Excellent!), a guy got his mobile phone out, presumably to try and take a picture of Mr. Weller (and in actuality to take a picture of the backs of several hundred people’s heads), but when he got it out of his pocket it rang. He put it to his ear and just kept screaming: ‘Hello! Hello! I can’t hear you! Hello!’ at the top of his lungs. It never occured to him to actually move to somewhere quieter, or to hang up the call. He was clearly a bit mental and just came across like Dom Joly with his oversized mobile in the Quiet Zone of the Dome. Awesome. I laughed so much I nearly missed the next song.
Old Mods who never die
Last night’s crowd were a very mixed bunch, clearly, because I was there for a start. There were the youth of today, but there were also people who were obviously die hard Wellerites who had been there from the get go. The odd thing was that many of them had resolutely refused to move with the times in terms of fashion and were firmly sticking, clinging and unpleasantly adhering to their Mod roots for better or worse. Often worse, it has to be said.
A Weller haircut only suits those with preternaturally thin faces really (and whether they even suit those is a matter of hot debate amongst some of my friends), but they really don’t do anything for someone carrying a few stone more than is wise and who has decided to grace the whole thing by wearing a casually tied silk scarf round their neck, just to highlight the head and shoulder area. It’s hard to describe the effect, but there was one man who looked like a hamster hiding in a pashmina. It wasn’t really the effect he was going for, at least one would hope not.
Famous people who aren’t famous but look like they should be:
Last night at the gig Paul and Jackie managed to spot a few local celebrities in the crowd. They kept saying things like: ‘Oh look! It’s x who does y! How exciting.’ This made me realise that my encyclopaedic knowledge of O.K. magazine is clearly not going to stand me in good stead in these situations, because I had absolutely no idea who they were talking about. Mainly, it has to be said because many of these people were of the sporting fraternity. It was however, quite disappointing not to be spotting stars (apart from Andy that is, and as he was who I was there to see anyway that one was rather like shooting fish in a barrel).
I decided to while away the time before the gig proper spotting people who I thought might be famous. There were quite a few people who really looked like they should be famous, or at least know people who might be famous. I pointed these out eagerly to Paul and Jackie who just looked at me with blank faces and clearly thought I was bonkers. I however, am very excited that I have created a sub category of social strata, people who look like they should be famous. It’s these people they should get to audition for Big Brother. If they already look the part it can’t be that hard to arse about in a hot tub and play dares in front of a load of hidden cameras. Hurry people. Real fame awaits you. I might start my own casting agency.
The World of Men’s Tailoring:
All the time I was worrying about what to say to Mr. Weller about, I had no problems with Andy at all. We got talking about the world of men’s tailoring. It is something he is quite knowledgeable about. I love good tailoring. I drool over pictures of Ozwald Boateng suits. Obviously I can’t afford one, and I’m a girl, so that’s a bit of a bummer. I have tried in the past to influence both my ex-husband and my now husband into the glamorous world of tailoring. They weren’t keen. Jason in particular is a man who loves his nylon shorts. Nothing will part him from those shorts. And, as I said to Andy, it is a sign of my deep and abiding love for the man that I endure those shorts, because ‘endure’, is exactly the right word to describe how I feel about them.
Andy on the other hand is an afficionado of tailoring and spent several happy minutes telling us about how he gets his clothes made by Gieves and Hawkes and William Hunt. He even has proper trunks for his clothes, one of which has a stand for his iron, so he can press all the creases into his trousers properly before going on stage. He did, it has to be said, look very dapper last night, and because he is a bass player, and therefore can lounge about moodily on stage whilst making plangent guitar style noises, he doesn’t have to get quite as hot and sweaty as everyone else when they’re feverishly leaping around wielding their axes etc.
I bet he’s really glad he never took up a career as a drummer. High fashion tailoring and drumming just don’t pair up together at all neatly. There would be tears before bedtime when a twenty minute drum solo ruined the lining of his best jacket. It just wouldn’t do.
This conversation has inspired me, and I have decided that when I am insanely rich I am going to go and see Ozwald and plead with him to make me a suit, or even a fleet of suits. I don’t want to go through a sex change or anything. I could be the next Bianca Jagger, as long as the children promise not to wipe ketchup on my cuffs. I’d have to be so insanely rich someone would press them for me, as I don’t care how exciting the world of suiting is, I am not, not ever, never doing my own ironing. There are limits.
Pete Paphides Being quite important but eternally scruffy
Another thing Andy and I were talking about last night was Lampeter, the university where we met. It was quite a coincidence that he met up with me last night, because also at the gig was a guy called Pete Paphides, who also went to Lampeter. I explained to Paul and Jackie that Pete was a shortish, squattish, eternally scruffy bloke with huge shambolic hair and frightening black Uncle Fester sweaters who loped around uni at the same time as us. I never knew him to speak to, but with only a thousand students, you do tend to know who everyone is, what they like for dinner etc, because word gets around fast.
After we left uni, Andy went on to become famous and so did Pete. Pete used to work as a journalist for Time Out, as I found out when we lived in London and used to subscribe to the magazine. One day I was bimbling around flicking through the covers and came across an article about Pete going swimming in Hampstead ponds complete with photographs. It was easy to recognise him. He was the only man going swimming in Hampstead ponds dressed as Uncle Fester.
Anyway, Andy informed me that Pete no longer works for Time Out, but is in fact The Times Music Critic. This is quite an important job, and he was there last night, doing that very job and interviewing Mr. W as we spoke. This was one of the reasons why poor Paul and Jackie didn’t get to meet him, so I hope it was a good interview. Apparently he still dresses like Uncle Fester. I looked him up on The Times website today and it is unclear what he was wearing beneath the chin line, but I would like to bet it was an overlarge, ravelly black jumper. His hair was still the same, and his hair always matched his jumper, so it’s got to be true.
So! Two people I went to university with are now ‘famous’ or at the very least ‘successful’ in their chosen field. Even the Scourge of Christendom has an uber powered job in marketing and he is a Scourge (albeit a hugely gifted and talented one. For an ex-hairdresser he got the highest first in the history of the University and it’s been going since 1822). What? What? What? am I doing with my life? Lampeter is clearly, despite all appearances to the contrary (i.e. the fact that they would take you if you only had your Brownie, ‘Safety in the Home’ badge) a hot bed of creative talent. I really need to pull my finger out now and write that bloody novel.
I’ll do it after ‘The F Word’ and a nice, relaxing cup of tea…