“Sinus,” the Award-winning Snail.

Today, MM comes to you in snail form. Call me Sinus, the blogging snail. I am sliding aimlessly around the house with my eyes poking out on sticks. My head is my shell – a football full of snot teetering dangerously above my field of vision, wobbling heavily and threatening to make me keel over and sink like the Titanic every time I move. A blanket of fudge has set up home between my brain and my skull, and is slowly expanding – or so it feels. My upper teeth are rearing at the bit, in a desperate attempt to bolt from their paddock and charge out to pastures new. Welcome to the weird and wonderful world of chronic sinusitis, which reduces happy bloggers to gibbering wrecks.

English: The white-lipped snail (Cepaea horten...

Sunny Sinus, alias MM, creeping up the stairs.  (Cepaea hortensis). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

However, in this world of mucosal morosity, there is a little light shining. I recently got a lovely note from Scripting Happiness, telling me that she has nominated me for the Sunshine Award. My first reaction was to grin – even snotty snails need recognition as much as the next man. My second was to feel a huge stab of bloggery angst, pull on my bad-girl-WordPress-blogger-hair-shirt and feel as guilty as Smelly Dog did when she ate the blackcurrant tart with Murphy the cat.

You see, I’ve had lots of nominations from other lovely bloggers, and although I said thank you, I never posted about them. Please accept my apologies – I really, truly appreciate being appreciated and I love you bloggers right back (although I’ll keep my germs to myself). But if I answer my backlog of awards now, I’ll have to batten down the hatches and dribble mucus on my keyboard for weeks on end.

So here is what I suggest. Awards generally ask you to write ten things about yourself, so I will put ten things here about myself.

Then I’d like to twist the award rules slightly, as I should then nominate a number of blogs. The problem is that there are so many, I’d feel awful about limiting my list. So I’m going to ask YOU to present YOUR blog in the comments section. Yes, YOU. I want this post to be a “get up, get down groove, move and get to know each other’s blogs post”. Deal?

Ten random facts about MM.

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1. I transform into Sinus the Snail on a regular basis because of bad facial plumbing. But you already know that.

2. I firmly believe that the best things in life are free, and that people look in all the wrong places for happiness. Most often it’s sitting right in front of you for the taking, in the form of a beautiful view, a good belly laugh with your children, or a stomp in the leaves.

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3. I want to be a writer when I grow up. I want to write stuff to make big girls laugh out loud on the train when they’re travelling alone so that they make other people smile too. But I don’t know when I’m supposed to grow up.

4. I am addicted to salted peanuts. I did give up, for six months, then someone put a bowl of them on the table and all those peanuts got together and pleaded for me to eat them. Honest.

5. I once chased gypsies along the main road wearing nothing but my bikini bottoms, and screaming like a banshee. They ran faster than me, and they had the bag containing my clothes and my car keys.

6. I love singing Mahna-Mahna from the Muppets, and I can’t listen to choirs singing without getting goosebumps and bawling my eyes out.

7. I once hid behind a curtain and scoffed petits fours with Miss Tahiti. We had great fun, but I was on look-out duty because she wasn’t allowed any of the stuff on the buffet. That’s what you call girl power.

8. I have worked as a trouser inspector. I inspected, but there were no men inside them.

9. When I was in my early twenties, I gate-crashed Richard Branson’s birthday party in my VW Beetle by mistake. He waved very kindly and ushered us in as PF muttered “Who’s that prat?”. I remind him who that rich prat was every time I top up his Virgin mobile card.

10. I have discovered a whole new fabulous gang of friends since I entered the wonderful world of blogging, and would like you all to know what a difference you all make to my day. Yup, sappy, but true.

Now it’s your turn!

Photo Challenge: Unexpected.

I couldn’t resist this challenge! There are so may things out there that catch my eye for their incongruous nature. Sometimes nature creates a heart from a tree stump. At other times, an old gate hides a funny little man with a flame hairstyle and a padlock nose. Turning down a corridor in an abandoned buildings, you can bump into the Grim Reaper guarding the door to the next floor… here are a few unexpected sights that Candide Canon and I have come across on our travels.

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The Secret Diary of a Smug Married.

Bridget Jones is back. She has apparently gone full-circle, and is now Mark Darcy-less once again. The question is, am I going to read a third serving of Bridget?

I really don’t know. I remember loving the first two books. Then a few years and three births later, I picked up the first book again, and realised that my initial sympathy for the misunderstood, nicotine-addicted bachelorette had not only waned, but had been replaced by a sneaking desire to slip into the pages and stick her oversized knickers over her head. After a day knee-deep in toys, trying to deal with the laundry equivalent of Vesuvius whilst a newborn baby mistook my nipples for chewing gum, a wailing, incontinent two-year-old clung to my shins and my five-year-old cut up the magazine I had bought in a feverish moment of optimism two months before, the last thing I needed to read about when I had five minutes barricaded in the loo was a singleton wino whining because she was alone with a bottle of wine and the TV remote.

Many years further down the line, I must admit that I am curious to know what kind of mother Bridget became. Did she finally realise how lucky she had been to be able to fall out of bed after a full night’s sleep and have a shower without a posse of screaming under-fives trying to batter the door down? We will never know. Not only is Mark Darcy dead (no more Colin Firth for the next film, sniff), but the novel starts when Bridget is 51 and widowed; we will never see Bridget testing the water as the Smug Married she detested so much. So without wishing to step on Helen Fielding’s toes, here is an extract from “The Secret Diary of a Smug Married” – an example of what really happens after being swept off your feet by your personal Mark Darcy.

Tupperware advertisement featuring a Joe Stein...

Wonder Woman, the ultimate Smug Married, admiring her stolen collection of Tupperware Trophies. (Photo credit: State Library and Archives of Florida)

  FRIDAY.

6.15 a.m. Dream involving a beach, a book and a huge Italian ice cream interrupted by two-year-old peeling open eyelid and saying, “Bekfust.”

6.30 a.m. Test pain threshold by stepping on Lego brick in the dark. Track down reluctant school-age offspring hibernating under quilts. Stagger downstairs. Trip over cat. Find coffee jug. Cat bites foot. Pour coffee. Cat bites other foot. Feed cat. Drink coffee.

6.45 a.m. Husband appears, requests specific item of clothing. Establish that said garment is still in sodden, wet ball inside washing machine. Make secret wish to transform into hybrid of Adriana Karambeu and Martha Stewart who wakes up with perfectly toned body, brushed hair and perfect make-up, and always finds the right lids for her Tupperware boxes.

7 a.m. Step on bathroom scales, see with pleasure that weight is still “LO”. Push scales lovingly back into place, vow never to change the batteries again. Run downstairs and polish off remaining pain au chocolat on kitchen work top. Congratulate self for altruistic act, thus ensuring that thieving, bulimic cat will not be sick on floor and children will not argue at breakfast table.

7.45 a.m. Leave for school with eight-year-old, five-year-old and two-year-old. Spot Wonder Woman carrying cake box. With sinking stomach, remember promise to make cake for infant school cake stand.

8 a.m.  Kiss child number one good bye. Buy Wonder Woman’s overpriced organic carrot cake as soon as it arrives on Junior school cake stand.

8.15 a.m. Drop off child number two at infant school. Cheerfully hand over home-made carrot cake. Magnanimously inform teacher that you are available to accompany children on school trip to local fire station. Teacher declines and expresses delight at unexpected mass of mothers ready to make time for school activities. Roll eyes. Explain that line-up of firefighters is somewhat more attractive prospect for 30-something mothers than traipsing to library in pouring rain. Recommend giving priority to mothers who may decide against attending further winter swimming pool sessions to dry and dress 25 shivering five-year-olds in five minutes.

8.20 a.m. Leave school having secured place on school trip.

1950s Modern Kitchen, Automatic Dishwasher, 1953

“…and Mummy’s left enough room for you too, unless you go and wash your hands NOW”. (Photo credit: classic_film)

8.30 a.m. Clear collateral damage from breakfast and emerge from kitchen to find two-year-old recreating M&M’s scene from E.T using cat food and enthusiastic family feline.

9.30 a.m. Switch into professional person mode and work on laptop as two-year-old remains miraculously quiet in corner.

10.30 a.m. Discover reason for offspring’s silence: Little My has thoughtfully illustrated and coloured each page of sibling’s library book. Play figurines and fight with daughter over casting Prince Charming as broom-pusher and Cinderella as heroine on horseback.

11.45 a.m. Realise that PF’s sodden clothing is still waiting in machine. Drag into back yard, hang it on the line. Hide underwear behind sheets just in case neighbour has underwear fetish.

12.30 p.m. Open fridge. Regret self-satisfied purchase of healthy stuff for lunch at supermarket instead of the chips and pizza seen in other mums’ baskets. Stare at phone and will it to ring with invitation for calorie-loaded lunch and bottle of wine. Phone remains mute. Push salad to back of fridge. Eat fish fingers and pasta with Little My.

1 p.m. Attempt telephone conversation with insurance company. Reassure person on other end of line that it is not her you are telling her to stop picking her nose, but your two-year-old.

1.15 p.m. Cuddle child to sleep.

1.45 p.m. Awaken dribbling into pillow beside snoring child.

3.45 p.m. Lift head from work, realise that child is still asleep and siblings will be released from class in 20 minutes. Recognise sound of rain on window. Run outside to get soaking laundry, put in washing machine on full spin. Wake up two-year-old with cheerful “Let’s get dressed!”

4.10 p.m. Arrive at school to collect children with red-eyed, triumphant child wearing Fairy Queen costume, rain coat and Wellington boots. Nod head modestly at congratulations for wonderful cake with fingers crossed behind back. Make mental note to ask Wonder Woman for recipe incase anyone asks for it.

5.30 p.m. Homework vortex. Faced with suspicious face of oldest child, acknowledge inadequate mastering of rocket science (aka primary school maths), and agree that sub-standard mother trailing meagre literary excuse for University education cannot understand said subject of genius. Invite child to consult the Oracle, aka his genitor, on his return from the land of the living.

6.30 p.m. Return of family silver back. Cook dinner with a little wine (wine in glass, not in dinner).

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The Tooth Fairy’s husband (Photo credit: obscene_pickle)

7.30 p.m.  Write letter to Tooth Fairy after epic tooth fairy fail on previous night : “Dear Tooth Fairy. Mum is sorry about last night. She swept up my tooth with the bread crumbs by mistake. But it was a pretty tooth. If you want it, Mum says it’s in the wheelie bin.” Consider asking Tooth Fairy’s husband to brandish magic wand at crack of dawn for a change. Decide against this: karma may bite Tooth Fairy on backside if husband interprets the notion of waving magic wand differently than intended.

8 p.m. Argue over choice of film. Wish self was Bridget Jones alone on sofa with bottle of Chardonnay and TV remote.

10 p.m. Throw self headfirst on bed in dark yelling “Geronimooooo!!!!!!!!!”. Find bed surprisingly lumpy. Bed says “ouch” and giggles. Make mental note to check if children are hiding in bed before repeating exercise. Feel like smug married. Enjoy.

10.30 p.m. In dark, husband enquires about item of clothing. Realise that it is still in sodden ball  in the washing machine.

Evicting Mr Merlot

As she walked past the cupboard under the sink, she heard his muffled call. Clear to her, yet imperceptible to others. Laura opened the cupboard and obediently pulled out the bottle. Her brain registered satisfaction as the cork popped and the velvet red remedy tumbled into the stemmed glass.

Mr Merlot – as she had baptised him in a heated, one-sided argument with the wine bottle one evening – had been her companion since Vincent stormed out in anger, dragging Emily in his wake and leaving her in a terrifying silence. Her friends had long since fled, leaving her with two-faced Mr Merlot: her best friend, and her worst enemy. He anesthetized her pain and gently creaked open the flood gates retaining her sadness. He was like her; he hated to be alone, and refused to return to the cupboard until he was spent. So she gratefully drank up his company, right down to the bottom of his bottle-green soul.

Laura winced as she remembered Emily’s hot, tearful face against hers, the day Vince had left. But the judge had ruled that she wouldn’t get her daughter back until Mr Merlot disappeared from her life. She pulled the doctor’s card out of her pocket and inspected it as she sipped at her glass. It was battered at the corners, just like her.

Raising her glass to the kitchen, she silently admitted that she was dependent on the bottle – just like she had been dependent on Vince before he left her. When Laura had stepped off the well-worn rungs of the medical career ladder on to the homemaker’s wheel, she had never intended to stay there for long. She surfaced fifteen years later, and looked up through her domestic haze to see her husband teetering at the summit of his career.

He became increasingly distant until that fateful evening. She had fled to the garage, opened a bottle and methodically drained it in an attempt to forget his words.

“Take a good look at your life,” he had bellowed, glaring at her across the dinner table. His fork remained suspended in mid-air as his eyes locked on hers. « You’re useless, woman!”

She had merely offered up a wry smile in response, telling him: “If you wanted something useful, you should have married a Swiss knife.”  Karma promptly bit her on the backside – he fell in lust with a young medical student from Zürich with DD cup appendages, legs up to her armpits, a Ph.D and a tubal ligation.

Laura was startled out of her thoughts by a movement in the hall, then realised that it was her own reflection in the mirror. She put down her glass and approached with a combination of curiosity and fear – when was the last time she had looked in a mirror? She had avoided looking herself in the eye for too long. Her hesitant fingers traced the length of her cheekbones, then slid her hair neatly behind her ears. The mother in the mirror was tired, but not beaten yet. Deep in her mirror image’s green eyes, she saw life. And her daughter.

A sudden wave of resolve carried her back into the kitchen. Flinging open the kitchen cupboard, she opened and emptied the bottles. “I’m not useless,” she calmly informed the last bottle. “Goodbye, Mr Merlot.” She laughed out loud as the blood-red wine gurgled down the drain, then pulled the card out of her pocket and strode purposefully towards the phone.

Photo credit:  dontshoot.me!

 Note to my regular readers: I have signed up to “Tipsy Lit” in the hope of widening my writing horizons, meeting more bloggers and testing my limits in writing fiction. This post is  my first contribution. My choice of topic is unfortunate given the title of the blog, but it’s what came to mind when I read the challenge… Find the prompt and more entries at http://tipsylit.com/.

In Defense of the Passion Killer.

Onesies holding hands and waving on MM's washing line.

Onesies holding hands and waving on MM’s washing line.

We love to hate them. We berate them and revile them. Yet we’ve all got one hiding in the wardrobe somewhere – that one item of leisure-/under-/sleepwear that makes our other half go spare. Yes, today we’re going to talk about passion killers, which are still very much alive and kicking lingerie-clad butt.

Those of you who have been following the blog for a while know that MM has kept one foot firmly anchored in her youth, so you will not be surprised to learn that my wardrobe also harbours a grown-up reminder of my childhood: my lovely, warm, terry towelling onesie – aka union suit, sleep suit or footed pyjamas.

My onesie and I go together like ramma lamma lamma a ding gadi dinga dong, like ketchup and chips, like Shrek and Fiona… or in PF’s eyes, like salmonella poisoning and sushi. The poor man rolls his eyes every time as he realises that he has drawn the short strawer in the drawer draws.  When he claps eyes on it, his face falls – imagine Brigitte Bardot greeted with a pair of mink-lined suede slippers and a plateful of coq au vin on her arrival home.

On chilly winter nights, I sometimes wriggle it on. I instantaneously become a tellytubby – just add a pair of 1980s wobbly antennae, and I’d be taken on by the BBC in a flash. It is a real onesie complete with feet, meaning that I can lope around the house like the BFG without getting cold tootsies.

Robert negotiated with Gladys, but to no avail: she’d only consider giving up on the onesie if he threw that stinking pipe away. (Photo credit: x-ray delta one)

Here are its advantages:

  •  It is warm and comfy, and reminiscent of a cosy, reassuring childhood.
  • No draughts get in, unlike skimpy, feminine night attire with little spaghetti straps (which is very pretty, but about as heat-efficient as dressing a giraffe in a hand towel).
  • The poppers down the front are the ideal protection from the dreaded handus mannus, a common predatory species that roams at night, preying on innocent women as they sleep.

It also has disadvantages:

  •  It gets PF mad and he sulks.
  • It doesn’t have a hood to keep the cold out of my ears.
  •  It was designed by a man for a man, so the lack of strategically placed poppers is the cause of long-winded negotiations with Mr B, aka my bladder, in the middle of the night. Like having to decide against drinking before you drive, an uninterrupted night’s sleep in a onesie entails the sacrifice of any ritual bedtime bucket of herbal tea/bottle of wine (delete as necessary).

At this point in proceedings I can already hear some readers of this blog howling in protest and clamouring their support for the long-suffering PF. I would argue that the alternative to sleeping in the same bed as a wife masquerading as Yogi Bear is the sobering prospect of ice-cold female feet on male shins. Things could be worse, too: I have yet to acquire the matching bed socks, fluffy slippers, horn-rimmed specs, rollers and hairnet. And if I really wanted to be mean, I could add an avocado facemask and two slices of cucumber for good measure.

I freely admit that a onesie is not the most appealing attire. But let’s face it, “attractive” always seems to go hand in hand with “uncomfortable”. So it is par for the course that comfortable clothes are about as pleasing to the male eye as King Kong modelling the latest line in G-strings from Victoria’s Secrets. I have concluded that comfort and attractiveness are fatally and diametrically opposed, which kind of links up with the saying that we have to suffer to be beautiful.

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Maurice had complained about his wife’s fluffy bedsocks for the last time. (Photo credit: photos.juliechen)

Lastly, onesies make for safe sleep, particularly when combined with their household textile alter ego, the flannel sheet. Confused? Let’s extrapolate. I once spent a night in a friend’s guest room. The waterbed had been kitted out with delicate satin sheets -irrefutably the ultimate in sosphisticated kip equipment. I was shortly to discover that my host had pushed the boat out in more ways than one – every time I rolled over I was tossed in three-foot troughs. Forget the Moody Blues: the hair-raising night in white satin that ensued was along the lines of Géricault’s “Raft of the Medusa“, but solo and dressed in M&S satin pj’s. I slid across the deck like a walrus launched across an ice-hockey field, grasping desperately for a grip on something as the night lit up with the spectacular storm of static electricity.

Now compare this with the honest simplicity of a onesie and flannel sheets. The flannel locks tight with the onesie, the heat stays in the bed, and hey presto: velcro effect. Welcome to the wonderful world of double-sided flannel-tape. You can sleep, toasty warm, in absolute security.

In conclusion… we love to hate the passion killer, but it’s not said its last word just yet. Comfort, nostalgia, warmth, safety. I rest my case. Embrace the passion killer, my friends.

For those who want more of almost the same, dig in the MM’s archives for the underwear drawer conundrum, entitled “Slingshots and Parachutes”, and a description of handus mannus in the highly scientific study, “Nesting and migration in the lesser spotted boob”.
 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Habit.

The Weekly Photo Challenge asked for pictures of our habits, so here’s one of mine: Playing with Playmobils. Admittedly, (and luckily for my kids) I don’t do it every day.

Little My recently informed me that she had grown out of her Playmobil house. I protested hotly; she saw through all my lame excuses and kindly told me that if I wanted, I could keep it in my bedroom. I did. Partly because she may want to continue playing with it one day, and partly because… well… I enjoy creating alternative scenarios and taking photos of them.

PF was amused to find me playing quietly there after lunch today – the ideal occupation for a Sunday afternoon inside as the wind wails around the house. Here are a few of my creations over the years, depicting true life in Playmobilia (as opposed to the politically correct stuff our kids churn out). Hope you enjoy them.

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