Weekly Photo challenge: Bridge

As I went past the playmobil mansion this morning, Mrs Playmo appeared at the window and waved an impatient claw at me.

“Oy, MM, there’s a photo challenge, and Mr Playmo and I want to take part!” she gabbled. I put my eye to the window of her mansion and peered in.  The WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge page beamed out of her computer screen.

“You remember our visit to London? When Mr P and I went off to visit on our own? With our picnic?” (I did. They got totally drunk, and Mr P took lots of inappropriate photos of his wife pole-dancing at the top of Big Ben.)

She sighed nostalgically and took a gulp of rosé before clicking her mouse and stabbing a claw at her collection of photos. “Can you upload this one for me please? A talent scout might be out there somewhere”.

So here we have it: A toy box take on the theme of bridges. With special thanks to Corentin W, the architect of the Lego bridge.

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Father Christmas and the Big Girl Knickers.

Mrs Playmo sporting her Big Girl Bustier with her pal BF, aka Badass Fairy, who flies in her Big Girl Knickers because flying ain't for sissies and skirts get wrapped round your ankles.

Mrs Playmo sporting her Big Girl Bustier with her pal BF, aka Badass Fairy, who flies in her Big Girl Knickers (because flying ain’t for sissies and skirts get wrapped round your ankles).

Dear Father Christmas,

I haven’t been to sit on your knee yet this year. I hope that you have been weight training regularly, because even if I’m a mere slip of a girl at my corrected aged of 12 (4+7), I’m still a tad heavier than all the other little girls who sit on your knee in your wooden chalet.

When I saw my eight-year-old student last week, I informed her that I knew where you lived, and that I was going to sit on your lap again before Christmas and tell you what I would like to find under the Christmas tree. Her eyebrows plummeted downwards, and she looked at me with an embarrassed smile. “Uh… but you know, Father Christmas doesn’t exist. It’s the mummies and daddies who give the presents, you know,” she said, stroking my arm to soften the inevitable blow of disappointment.

Of course, I stuck up for you. If J.M. Barry’s theory for fairies had held true for Santa, you would have been a goner a long time ago, despite MM’s desperate clapping. I heard on the radio this week that children now stop believing in you earlier and earlier, and that the average seven-year-old has already acquired a soberingly grown-up attitude towards Christmas. The irony of this is that it’s all your own fault – by coughing up the goods requested on the letters you’ve been sent, you’ve signed your own death warrant. It’s cruel to say, but it’s the mean team in the fruit bowl – Apple, Orange and Blackberry – who give our little ones access to the dark side. Internet makes them grow up much faster than their parents did. It makes their adult life so much longer, and their memories of the magic of Christmas so much more short lived.

I have been a very good girl this year. So what would float MM’s boat for Christmas? Forget the technology – unless Playmobil bring out a mobile phone. Nor do I want any Febreze Fairy paraphernalia – I’m still trying to convince my family that they too can use my magic wand, aka the toilet brush. So please feel free to give the vacuum cleaners, food mixers and sundry other “time-savers” to those men who mistakenly believe that their wives will feel loved when they unwrap the latest in Cinderella technology.

MM with her magic bog brush wand, drawn by Rugby-boy.

MM with her magic bog brush wand, drawn by Rugby-boy.

I remember that I asked you for a Bugatti last year, and you grinned and said that you would see what you could do. Then you quietly opened my emotional underwear drawer behind my back, and put in an old classic of lucid lingerie. A special pair of kecks I refer to as my Big Girl Knickers.

We are all very different when we strip down to our emotional underwear. My usual everyday emotional undergarment is the no-nonsense cotton Marks & Sparks tanga – ideal for a bit of banter, discussing recent events and watching the news. But this year was going to demand a much more elaborate model, and you knew it.

When the shit hits the fan and MM has to strip down to her emotional underwear, the G-string is generally her default programme. The emotional G-string category is designed for those with all the resistance of a chocolate radiator when faced with the merest whiff of stress or sadness, whose emotional undies immediately shrink and get painfully stuck in the most intimate part of their anatomy. A baby squirrel forgetting its lines at the school play is enough to set off the immediate crumpling of MM’s face, making her look like the bonnet of a 2CV after a head-on crash with an articulated truck as she desperately seeks a tissue in her pocket and ends up blowing her nose on a crumpled supermarket receipt.

I have always admired those who adopt the full-length Edwardian corset in emotional situations. They slip it on, lace it up and appear in dignified form to the world, their feelings carefully tarpaulined under a satin sheen, giving a sleekly elegant cover to the ugly fight occurring beneath. Then there are the camouflage boxer-wearers – the no-nonsense undies that say things the way they are, without excessive frills or nonsense. These are the people who remain stoic, and wipe away the occasional rogue tear behind dark sunglasses.

Germaine amazed her friends by the fact that she never cried in public. Little did they know that below her dress, she sported the ultimate in emotional constraint underwear technology.

Germaine amazed her friends by the fact that she never cried in public. Little did they know that below her dress, she sported the ultimate in emotional constraint underwear technology.

And then, at the back of the emotional underwear drawer, there is the Pandora’s box that I always hated to open. I heard its occupant coughing sternly in there sometimes, and reacted by hastily burying it under a thick layer of Marks & Sparks faithfuls and closing the drawer. Meet MM’s Big Girl Knickers, to be pulled on in all GUE’s (Grown Up Emergencies). Those emergencies when crying is not an option, because I will set off a chain reaction with lots of other emotional G-stringers just like me. We are the emotional equivalent of Pringles, because once we pop, we can’t stop.

This year, my new Big Girl Knickers meant new Big Girl Attitude. Taking myself on first, to be able to take on the rest. I pulled them on and wore them to try out Dry January, then to take up running. Then I kind of got to like them, so I took to wearing them more regularly rather than hiding them away.

Wearing my Big Girl Knickers over my running tights is the closest I’ve ever got to being Wonder Woman. To those who could swear that they saw tears on MM’s face this year, the official version is that it was because of my Big Girl Knickers – I pulled those buggers up so high at times that the resulting emotional wedgies brought tears to my eyes.

But the result is there. Those Big Girl Knickers are here to stay. Along with the changes they have brought. So bring on the next pair, Father Christmas.

A very happy Christmas to you all from MM and Mrs Playmo. Thanks to you all for helping to keep us sane and smiling this year.  

The Story of Evil Git and the Surprise Car Colectomy.

It is Wednesday morning, and MM is sitting at her kitchen table between the chocolate chip brioche and the Nutella pot with a face longer than a queue for a One Direction concert. She is holding a coffee in her hand, but is dreaming of a big tub of Ben & Jerry’s and a cuddle.

MM should have woken to the sound of her favourite church bells in BFF’s home in the Alsace, where she was going to squeeze her pals in her arms time and time again, see her children blend happily into the group of friends they have had since they were at infant school, and get out into the vineyards with BFF to set the world straight, eat chocolate cake under the wild cherry tree and admire the autumn colours. She had even planned to run with Starman, a pal who shares the running bug.

There are times when MM needs creature comforts.

There are times when MM needs creature comforts.

But Evil Git had planned otherwise. Who is Evil Git, you ask? Come over to the story corner, children, and take a seat. I will do my best to tell this story in my best Joyce Grenfell voice. PN, please stop playing with Linda’s new frilly bed cap, and put that wine and those midget gems down before you throw up in the Playmo box again. Are you all sitting comfortably? then I will begin.

Not so long ago, it was Saturday morning, and MM was on a roll. She was organised, for once, and was ahead of schedule in preparation for PF’s return from Lemur Island the next day. PF is a biologist, and specializes in running off for “business trips” with female colleagues to exotic islands in the middle of nowhere…. Yes, that’s right, PN, that means he gets to play in the mud with his friends, catch crabs, drink beer on the beach, climb up extinct volcanoes, take photos of his bikini-clad colleagues swimming with turtles, watch sunsets, and share his packed lunch with lemurs. Then he returns home with a big smile and bits of smelly, dead crustaceans that he leaves on the kitchen window sill to dry.

As MM strode across the car park towards her trusty Albal, she counted her blessings.  Beautiful blue sky and autumn colours, check. Upcoming arrival of PF and a birthday meal, check. Holiday with friends in the Alsace the next day, check. Life was good – in fact, eerily too good to be true. MM knew perfectly well that the stars were therefore aligned for something to go wrong. And it did. Throwing her shopping bags on the passenger seat, she turned the key in the ignition and was surprised to hear Albal’s engine clatter noisily. She switched the engine off, opened the bonnet and peered in, expecting to find a drunken Jamie Oliver jiving with Nigella Lawson and an entire collection of saucepans. Nowt. Zilch. Nada.

I’m so sorry I left you outside….

So MM checked the oil, checked for disconnected piping, returned to her seat and reverted to kindness, stroking the steering wheel as she apologized to Albal for leaving her on the car park in the dark with no more than the lingering smell of Friday night’s pizzas for company. Starting the engine again, MM bravely attempted driving a few meters in the hope that Albal would roar back into life, but her trusty steed merely clattered again then wheezed asthmatically. I reversed back into my parking slot like a bad-tempered hermit crab and called for help in the form of Bigfoot, our resident mechanical engineer. His eyebrows furrowed, and he disappeared beneath the car. “Have a look at that, Mum”, he said as he wriggled his huge frame back out into the open.

Lying on the floor amongst the dog poo, gravel and leaves, I had a superb view of Albal’s underbelly… and the hastily accomplished visceral surgery carried out by Evil Git, who had taken a saw to the car and carried out the automobile equivalent of an emergency colectomy. In a nifty but relatively neat intervention, he had removed an entire section of the car’s digestive tract and left Albal disembowelled on the tarmac. No wonder she was feeling off-colour.

I felt the disappointment well up, quickly followed by hatred. Now, children. Here comes the cheesy part of today’s story. Hatred is an emotion that MM keeps carefully locked away, because it tends to destroy everything within reach. On Emotion Road, when Hatred hears his neighbour Disappointment whimpering on the pavement, he stomps out of his front door, slams it hard and goes off on a seek and destroy mission. He stamps on the flowers planted by Hope, pees in Optimism’s bird bath, and scribbles angrily over the clearly defined rules on Common Sense’s wall. Then he knocks on the doors of Sarcasm, Self-Pity and Anger before returning home and slamming the door, leaving Positivity to cry with Common Sense on the doorstep. Bad Hatred.

MM's reaction on seeing the state of Albal's underbelly.

MM’s reaction on seeing the state of Albal’s underbelly.

However. Hatred and his horrible henchmen didn’t get much airtime because within hours, MM’s gang of pals here had called to offer a lift to the shops, comforting messages, a car to pick up PF from the railway station, and otherwise salvaged MM’s day. However, If I ever find Evil Git, I will still apply Mrs Playmo’s suggestion to tie him to a chair in public and stuff my pet pythons down his Y-fronts until he has coughed up every penny he has for charity. Cos that’s the way we roll.

Anyway. Back to our story. Another car had suffered at the hands of Evil Git too, so MM called the Gendarmerie. They turned up quickly, and in a very NCIS turn, they whipped out a brush and collected the fingerprints on the bottom of the car door. MM was sorry to disappoint them with the news that they belonged to Bigfoot. They confirmed that the catalytic converter had disappeared – apparently they contain precious metals including platinum, so a few nights of sawing bits off cars can be a very lucrative and addictive business. No shit, Sherlock. This got MM wondering whether Gollum’s ring was actually made of platinum filched from Hobbit cars parked overnight in Middle Earth.

MM spent the afternoon spent filing a complaint with a Gendarme, and gave him a withering look when he enquired why she was holding a pair of trainers in her hand (the answer being that MM’s car had been transformed into a hairdryer on wheels, the gendarmerie is 6km from her home, and silly MM had forgotten her pocket helicopter).

Mr & Mrs Playmo were very sweet and offered to rent me a car whilst Albal was in hospital having her digestive tract repaired. Unfortunately, it was little too small for a family of five and a 28kg golden retriever.

Mr & Mrs Playmo were very sweet and offered to rent me a car whilst Albal was in hospital having her digestive tract repaired. Unfortunately, it was little too small for a family of five and a 28kg golden retriever.

MM’s insurance company were not convinced that MM had not asked someone to steal part of her car two days before she went on holiday, and told her she would have to cough up part of the bill. To no avail, MM pointed out that she had already been the victim of Evil Git, and did not wish to be the victim of her insurance company as well. She added that although her children were being very mature about their holiday potentially going down the pan, the insurance company had the means to make it better for them if they so wished. Translated into basic language, their reply was “Tough luck. Next time, upgrade your cover from ‘bells’ to ‘bells and whistles’“.

So hello house, goodbye holiday. At least I now know that Albal produces luxury, platinum-flavoured farts. Classy bird.

Mr Playmo’s Post Scriptum.

Mrs Playmo told me off this morning. A shrill voice cut through the darkness of the bedroom and split my eardrums. “Oy, MM! Get up and get summat posted on your blog! I’ll be the laughing stock of Playmobilia if you don’t get a shift on!”

I crawled from the warmth of the quilt, stumbled across the bedroom and peered through the window into Mrs Playmo’s mansion. She was tucked up in her double bed beside Mr Playmo, clutching an oversized mug in one hand and a kleenex tissue in the other. The sulfurous glare she launched in my direction would have stopped a testosterone-packed grizzly dead in its tracks.

“Here, I’ll even give you the photos. Just do it, okay? Now off you go, I’m having a lie in. Thanks to you, I’ve got a cold.” I considered telling Mrs Playmo that when I’d told her to chill out, I wasn’t expecting her to take my advice literally and indulge in a snow bath, then decided against it.  “Oh, and yes please, we’ll have some fresh coffee and croissants. Ta muchly.” With that, she disappeared under the quilt.

Mrs Playmo's "Orange Weather Alert".

Mrs Playmo’s “Orange Weather Alert”.

I didn't expect Mrs Playmo to interpret my suggestion to "chill out" quite  so literally.

I didn’t expect Mrs Playmo to interpret my suggestion to “chill out” quite so literally.

So without further ado, here is the Mrs Playmo update. The conclusion of the intricately woven web of deceit Mrs Playmo wove throughout the month of January is that happily, all’s well that ends well.

Mr Playmo did indeed take a break – but neither he nor Mrs Playmo expected things to go so far. Here is Mr Playmo’s story…

“After hearing of Genevieve’s escapades with Eric, I wrote her a note telling her that I needed to get away and deal with a raw, animal need to hide away and lick my wounds. But as a vicar, it is difficult to find a place where nobody can find you – I’m always tracked down by my parishioners. Particularly that awful Shacklebottom woman, always wanting to repent for the umpteenth time before she runs off with someone else.

P.F’s camera bag had been left beside our Playmo mansion, and I climbed inside and revelled in the comforting darkness as I tried to make sense of what was happening to me.

I fell asleep, and awoke to the sound of waves. When I climbed out of the camera bag, I fell and got a faceful of sand. Standing up, I saw what happens when you take rash decisions: karma bites you on the backside. I’d wanted to distance myself from Genevieve’s exploits, and ended up marooned on an island somewhere off the coast of Africa for three weeks on a self-imposed boy-only trip with PF. 

Coconut trees stretched along to my right, and waves lapped the beach. PF’s business trip appeared to involve spending most of his day digging holes in the mud, and the rest playing around with lemurs, swimming with turtles and taking pictures of bats the size of seagulls. Genevieve was right when she said that those humans may have knees that bend, but they’re still very strange.

Sunset over Mr Playmo's island in the Mozambique Channel.

Sunset over Mr Playmo’s island in the Mozambique Channel.

Mr Playmo was flummoxed by the size of the bamboo shoots.

Mr Playmo was flummoxed by the size of the bamboo shoots.

Mr Playmo admiring the sea from a shipwrecked coconut.

Mr Playmo admiring the sea from a shipwrecked coconut.

I climbed on a beached coconut and realized that I would have liked Genevieve to be there with me. She would have hoisted herself on the back of one of those fruit bats and hiked a ride – she’s one strong-minded woman. Her only failing is her penchant for rosé and Tupperware, which she thinks I haven’t noticed. She may not be perfect, but then again, who is, and who wants perfect, anyway? What defines perfection? If she does pole dance, as that Eric said, maybe I should go and check it out. That makes her one perfectly original vicar’s wife.

Back on the plane, I planned my romantic return. PF was no help in this – he said that MM was impervious to all the usual romantic stuff and that he’d given up years ago, as apart form Playmobil figurines, the things that made her smile couldn’t be bought – like hearing someone fart at a funeral, reading in the bath, photographing a beautiful sunset, rubbing wet paint between her fingers or seeing red swirly things under her eyelids after she’d rubbed her eyes. In comparison, Genevieve wasn’t as complicated as I thought.

So when I got home, I gave Mrs Playmo a bouquet of Chupa Chups and asked her to show me her pole dance. She agreed, wiping her nose on her sleeve, and yanked her underwear into place.

I must dash now – we’re going to admire one of those sunsets P.F. told me about. But first we are off to deliver a plateful of laxative chocolate muffins for Shacklebottom. We’ve decided it’s time she loosened up a bit.”

One of those sunsets that PF told us about.

My eternal thanks to the patient PF, who agreed to take Mr Playmo with him to the Mozambique Channel, and made the day for a gang of children who were delighted to see a grown-up taking pictures of a Playmobil sitting on a coconut.

 

Day 12: Small Pleasures

Mrs Playmo enjoying the small pleasures in life with Smelly Dog, whose head appears to make a very good impromptu slide.

Mrs Playmo enjoying the small things in life with Smelly Dog, whose head appears to make a n excellent makeshift slide.

Day twelve’s walk started off quietly. Mrs Playmo and I were still shell-shocked from recent events, and the subdued, mellow sunlight bathing the vineyards seemed to echo our state of mind.

After a few hundred meters, Mrs Playmo asked why we were being so mopey. We were, she argued, wasting precious time. “Life’s there to be lived, honey-bun!” she chirped before scaling Smelly Dog’s leg. She clambered dangerously along the furry backbone, a female equivalent of Indiana Jones on the roof of a train, and hoisted herself on to Smelly Dog’s skull. Sitting between the two floppy ears, she yelled “Yeeeee- ha!” and pointed into the distance before pulling hard on them and bellowing, “Onwards, and forwards, my faithful steed. To infinity… and beyond!”

I had a sneaky feeling that she had combined John Wayne, Napoleon and Buzz Lightyear in her head. As far as I was concerned, she looked uncannily like Alice astride the Bandersnatch, with a truckload of attitude and a black corset. She attained the result she had hoped for: I laughed.

Letting go of Smelly Dog’s ears, she slid down her steed’s nose and landed neatly on her feet, her face flushed with pleasure. “Ta – daaaah!” She eyed me from head to toe, sniffed and added: “C’mon. You might have given up the rosé, but your muffin top is still drooping for Britain. Lets walk.” So we did.

For those who are new to the blog, check out this post to understand what this is all about.

Day Four: All Roads Lead to Roam.

"Mrs Playmo sold the incriminating evidence to the local ecologists. Marcel the mechanic was going to stop burning those tyres in the countryside sooner than he had anticipated."

“Mrs Playmo sold the incriminating evidence to the local ecologists. Marcel the mechanic was going to stop burning those tyres in the countryside sooner than he had anticipated.”

… or to Rome. Or in our case, yesterday, to roam in Roman ruins in and around Nîmes.

“One small step for Mrs Playmo, a huge step for Playmo kind, hey?” I joked as she stumbled along the Via Domitia in her little red dress. Mrs Playmo was nervous, and did not seem to appreciate the singularity of walking on a real piece of Roman road, lost in the French countryside.

“I’m not interested in visiting your Roman Papadum,” she snapped.

“It’s an Oppidum, not a Papadum, Grumpy”, I answered. “Who’s eaten your porridge this morning, anyway?”

Mrs Playmo explained with a glitter in her eye that she had a VIM (Very Important Meeting) with Laurelle Leef, President of the regional Underground Ecological Movement. By selling yesterday’s compromising snaps of Amanda Shacklebottom’s secret riverside rendez-vous, she would not only make herself a bit of extra cash, but could finally sort out the problem of drying her washing on the same day that Marcel burned the tyres behind the village garage. The chance viewing of two lovebirds in the bush had quickly become an ecologically sound way to kill two birds with one stone.

On our arrival at the meeting point, we were instructed to hide in the bushes (this explains the blurred pictures; unlike Mrs Playmo, my paparazzi skills are limited). Laurelle Leef viewed the contents of the memory card on her iStone (an ecological version of the iPhone) and paid up, satisfied that she would now be able to put a stop to the acrid fumes that Marcel sent into the air.

Mrs Playmo hooked her handbag over her shoulder and sashayed back down the Roman road, a noticeable spring in her steps. ‘Now let’s go to Nîmes and find ourselves a Roman lion tamer dressed in leather”, she chortled. “Is there a Chanel store anywhere close?” she enquired, thumbing her way through the wad of 100 euro notes and stashing them away. She patted Amanda Shacklebottom’s handbag with affection. “I want to buy myself the matching shoes”.

If you are new around here and don’t have a clue what this is all about, please read “The Great Outdoor Playmo Challenge“. Yes, I am crazy, and yes, I’m happy this way.

Day Two: Open-Air Pole Dancing

"Open air pole dancing"

“Open-air pole dancing.”

It is somewhat paradoxical that the outdoor exercise part of my dry January Challenge takes Mrs Playmo and I through numerous local vineyards. Mrs Playmo asked me to hold her dog’s lead then stripped off, placed a feathered hat at a rakish angle on her head and proceeded to practice her pole-dancing techniques on a vine shoot, singing an off-key “You can keep your hat on” that would make Joe Cocker turn in his grave.

She confided on the way home that she sneaks off on Friday nights whilst Mr Playmo is asleep to work in the sleazy joint down the road. It pays for her Tupperware party addiction and her (equally secret) rosé consumption. But don’t tell anyone, or she’ll be struck off the board at the local WI.