Category Archives: random

In pursuit of other people’s bodily excretions

In an unexpected and unappealing twist to dog ownership I found myself last summer chasing my dog around a park trying to extract a bloodied sanitary towel from within her jaws.

They say that you cannot know abject, white-hot, week-later-wince-inducing humiliation, until you have tried and failed, while wearing Birkenstocks, in a very public arena, partly made-up of stoned teenagers, to repeatedly throw yourself upon a small white fluffy dog gripping a menstruation device. And I think that they might be right, about the humiliation bit.

Good King Karma stitched me up like a kipper.

It was one of those balmy summer days in the city and my children were behaving within the parameters of irritating but not loathsome, so I decided to get a bit ‘Swallows and Amazons”, pack a picnic, don some gingham and head for the park.

The little blighters were looking sun-kissed and beautiful, the smell of early barbeques wafted us along our walk and our new hound Moxie was looking resplendent in her neon pink collar and lead.

 

Little people chased ahead looking for daisies in the grass, while I brought up the helm, stylish wicker-clad picnic bag slung over my shoulder, thinking – Hot damn I have this mother thing down.

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(Little old me, looking so cute, smelling like roses, I’d never do anything really nasty)

As my fluffy white hound gazed up at me adoringly, I draped my pink lead around me like a colour pop necklace. It seemed we were also managing to embody the modern manifestation of the special prehistoric bond between dog and humankind. The complete family unit, at one with nature and our environment.

That was until our dog disappeared into the public convenience. And my pastoral bubble of midsummer bliss burst.

She shot out of the latrines like a rocket with what was immediately, and unavoidably, identifiable as a well-used sanitary towel clamped about her chops.

My children, keen to ensure that no one in the park missed out on spectating this exciting situation, were loudly screaming, shouting, gesticulating and debating ‘what is that thing.’

Fleetingly I considered walking out of the park and establishing a new identity abroad. But then I did what any mother would do and told my children to run after the dog and get that thing out of its mouth.

Despite some new and truly imaginative threats and bribes the blighters would not be bought. And so the chase began. After twenty minutes of my life that I both wish to forget and will never get back, I positioned myself within metres of the fluffy beast.

Utilising ninja distraction and misdirection I pounced in a dramatic, and completely unsuccessful, double tumble manoeuvre. As I gazed at the sky above I could hear the sniggers of the chicken-chowing stoned teenagers watching me from a bench nearby

Irritated I decided to take their obvious preconceptions about me, mad dog woman and bad parent, and raise them several notches of weirdo.

And so it was to my surprise, and that of my children, that I paused in my pursuit of the dog to declare in a fake Scouse accent: “It’s the ultimate test of dog ownership boys. Pursuing a dog with a USED sanitary towel in its mouth. No gimmicks, no special effects. It’s just you, the dog and the pad.”

I could tell that they were impressed. By happy chance it was at this point one of yoof’s own friends turned up with a dog on a rope. Gnawing through its leash in a nanosecond said hound lunged at Moxie prompting her to immediately release the pad. I then had the pleasure of watching a bunch of stoned teenagers playing chase the bloodied ST. Definitely better as a spectator sport.

Next week: The red hot race for a fully-loaded nappy

 

 

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Moxie

The LOVE BOMB hit. And she is the business. A small fluffy Cavamalt called Moxie arrived on Valentine’s day 2016 and since then we are all about the love. The love she has for us, the love we have for her, the love she generates in others. This love in turn giving us a little more of, you’ve guessed it-the love feeling.

The husband, who never wanted a dog, caught singing her a personalised version of “you are the sunshine of my life.”

The grandmother, appalled at the prospect of canine bacterial infection on her grandchildren, proudly showing her friends photos of Moxie kissing her cheek.

The school kids that have adopted her outside the school gates. In particular one Mum who said to me recently: “We live in a flat and we can’t have a dog. But we feel that we have a share in Moxie. We look forward to petting her before and after school and we talk about how she has grown and what a great jumper she had on that day etc. So thanks.”

As I’ve said before: “If you can’t love a puppy in a Christmas jumper then you might as well pack up and prepare for death.”

Here she is. Moxie. Her name means feisty, adventurous, intrepid and daring. She is all these things and more. She is always up for a jaunt out, she loves snuggling by the fire, she is the guardian of family mental health.

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Little things

Sometimes it’s good to slow down, think simply and notice beautiful things.

My garden after a bit of rain.

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A feline legacy

Early on in our relationship my husband and I set off for a doomed romantic break in Paris. The inklings, that this might not be all candlelight in Montmartre, were flagged up early. He announced that instead of staying in a room with a rose petal-covered levitating bed at a contemporary romantic gem of a hotel, we were instead borrowing the flat of friends. This, on the proviso, that we looked after their cat and fed it cancer medicine twice a day.

After five minutes in the flat I watched the face of my beloved start to swell and blotch, nose running, tears streaming, constant sneezing. It became apparent both that I would not always find this man alluring and that he had developed an allergy to cats.

What ensued was the most ridiculous of holidays. We stayed in a hotel but spent our mornings and late afternoons travelling to the flat to give poor Mog her medicine. The entire holiday itinerary was dictated by our feline friend. I should have bought one of those T shirts: I went to Paris and fed a cat cancer pills.

And so you might think it a queer choice to buy a kitten ten years down the line. But hope burns eternal and our small people were desperate for a family pet. My husband felt a dog was too much hard work, I felt a fish wouldn’t give us the requisite warm feeling.

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So a small black fluffy bundle made it’s way into our home last November. I had not told my children that he was coming and when they opened the kitchen door and found this little bundle, enveloped in a giant plush bean bag, latterly known as the womb, they could not believe their eyes. One declared it the “most exciting day of my life. I feel like I am in a dream.”

All three children sat down and gazed in awe at the small feline creature. After a lengthy debate, google search and reference to various literary works, my eldest child instructed everyone to put down their colouring pens, water bottles etc and prepare for a show of hands. It was a moment that called for gravitas. They solemnly voted and the name Sooty was chosen for the kitten.

Niggling at the back of our minds was my husband’s allergy but the hope was that he might acclimatise to a cat. We had told the children that the kitten could only stay if their Dad was able to tolerate him. We even had a back up plan that he could go to a lovely local family who adore cats if it didn’t work out.

But after 24 hours all seemed to be going well. My husband was still breathing with relative ease and there were no outward signs of any major reaction. Another upside was that the kids skipped out of bed in the morning, rather than the normal half hour of cajoling, in order to spend time with kitty before school. With photos printed out of our new addition my kids were able to show their teachers and classmates the new member of the family and my son made plans to do a live ‘show and tell’ session that Friday. My middle girl was planning how soon she could get the kitten to sit on the end of her bed and sleep with her throughout the night.

They threw balls of wool, dangled toy fish and did everything in their powers to entrance their new friend. She spent most of her time hiding under the dishwasher. Every hour Kitty’s water was replenished and I had to hide the packet of dreamy treats to stop the children from overdosing her on cat goodies. They took it in treasured turns to feed her.

Then, 48 hours after she arrived, my husband awoke in the night to say that his breathing was becoming very laboured. He was in sufficient pain that he could not sleep. That was that. It may sound harsh but when we realised Sooty had to go we wanted it to happen quickly.

When the kids got up I had to tell them that they needed to say goodbye to their kitten because he was going to have to live somewhere else. More heartbreaking than anything was the fortitude of my middle child, the real pet lover of the household. She carefully gathered up all of the toys that they had bought him, with their pocket money the day before, because she thought this might, “make Sooty feel more at home in his new house.”

It was a very quiet walk to school. My friend, who so kindly agreed to rehouse kitty, suggested that the children might find it useful to go to her house after school and see him happily established in his new home. The thought behind this was made kindly and with generosity but the reality was brutal.

I watched my children watch other kids going wild with joy and delight over their new kitten. We fell silent as they excitedly discussed renaming Sooty to something else. I hadn’t expected this and hadn’t prepared them. “Tonight he is going to sleep in my room” said one of the children. I saw my middle girl blink back tears and I felt as though I had trampled all over her tender heart.

He was with us for a short time but he left a big impression on our family. The total trust and responsibility of caring for another living creature is a big thing to experience at any age. It is a lesson that my children will never forget.

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There’s a rat in my kitchen

They say that until you inhale the feculent stench of putrefying rat right up your nostrils, you cannot truly feel that you have teetered on the abyss of olfaction. And I think that they might be right.
“And just how long might this aroma last” I gingerly enquired of Rat Man, whilst clasping a lime, basil and mandarin Jo Malone citrus scented white linen hanky to my mouth.
“That all depends on the size of the body, the ambient temperature and the absorbency of the surface it is resting upon,” said the voice of pest experience, looking sadly at my hanky.
And that particular question has yet to find a distinct answer. Visitors to my home no longer gag on entry but we still do keep at least four windows open throughout day and night, wind and snow and several storm warnings.
This is probably the key lesson learnt from our recent vermin tempest. Never agree to putting down poison to kill these home invaders. It will work and they will die, but almost certainly within the confines of your home and almost certainly just outside of reach of any vermin captor, bar a £5000 structural excavation exercise.
It has been a testing time. A few months ago one of these malodorous mammals was spotted in the kitchen. My hopes that this was a socially ostracised beast and lone invader were quickly shattered.
The basement of our home, AKA the receptacle of all household items without an obvious, immediate use, was packed to the gunnels and only entered infrequently when we needed a light bulb or to flick the fuse box. But upon entering it didn’t take long, only a quick google search of rat pooh for confirmation, for me to realise that we were in a state of invasion. (My middle daughter has also queerly become quite obsessed with googling rat pooh.)

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(I have included a picture of a hamster in a blanket eating a carrot because, until it becomes strictly necessary, I’d refrain from googling pictures of rat pooh)

In times of crisis I can be impulsive. A rat infestation was certainly one of those times. I googled rat eliminators London and called the first number that came to hand. I was assured that a rat expert would present himself at my house within the next four hours.

I answered the door to a man trapped in a Dickensian time warp. He bore an unmistakable resemblance to the animals he had spent so many years tracking to kill. A pinched white face of dead eyes, narrow yellow, almost brown, teeth gnarled to sharp points, and a low slung, thinning Friar Tuck hairdo, informed me that he was the answer to my dreams.
Friar Tuck’s thinner, dirtier, and less genetically gifted brother, strolled through my house with the frays of his jeans flapping on the ground. After a perusal of the sodden rodent latrine in my basement he came up the stairs and looked very surprised to be asked to take off his shoes. I explained that, short of levitation, there was just no way he hadn’t trodden on rat pooh and piss, and I wasn’t keen for this to be spread throughout my house.
He responded by slowly running the palm of his hands down the soles of both shoes and then lifting them languidly to his nose and inhaling deeply.
“Nothing there” he said, as I tried to stop myself dry heaving.
He returned to the basement with his kill gear, this time donning a pair of plastic gloves. After removing bodies, faecal matter and laying poison and traps, he sat down to fill out the form and receipt for his services. I could see what was going to happen. Internally screaming I searched increasingly frantically for a pen. It did not come in time.
“Please sign here” said Tuck, proffering me his pen from his latex encased hand.
I signed and then poured bleach and hot water on my hands for the rest of the day.
Clearly I would never have wanted to see Tuck again even if had been professional but his fate was sealed when I spotted he’d put mouse traps down for the job that i had clearly articulated was a rat problem. “They’ll still work,” he promised.
I told him that I was talking about rates the size of small dog and that there was no way that was going to be effective. We parted company and latterly I managed to secure a refund.
And so, like a hero in a moving eighties action film, rolled in Rat Man two. Here was the acceptable face of rodent control. A chap who seemed far less likely to be found Morris dancing in a loincloth made up of the tails of his past conquests.
Rat Man two, as he became moderately affectionately known within the family, was pleasant, professional and normal. A couple of steel no return rat valve traps later and the rats are having to find other drains to make home. The smell of the final body is ebbing away and spring bulbs are pushing their way up through the earth. What a scene of North London pastoral bliss.

 

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Rocking the Rolser

I must address one of the most pressing issues facing fashionable women of a certain age in Muswell Hill. Old women’s shopping trolleys. There is no doubt that the jury is out on the merits of the portable shopping trolley, but in a post-pram world who is the idiot? The lady with the rolser or the lady who repeatedly pops to the shops for two items and returns with six heavy carrier bags, limited blood suppply below the wrist and mild to moderate lower back pain?
I had always considered these perambulating bags to be the preserve of the Nora Batty generation but in a curious, and seemingly localised phenomenon, the well-dressed, fashion savvy sisters of Muswell Hill are rocking the Rolsers in their numbers.
My initial reaction of horror gave way to curiosity and in a recent shocking development I found mysef buying a cheapo version of the Rolser from Ikea. Three weeks have passed and I have not left the house with my wheelie wonder. The implications of it’s first public outing are building in my mind. I truly feel that once I physically cross the threshold of the house and go into the public arena with this trolley it will mark a seminal physical and pyscological moment of my life. The abandonment of vitality, child-bearing capibilities and spontaneity and an ushering in of papery hands, wide fit shoes and receding gums.
I have asked my fashionable rollster toting mum mate to accompany me on my virgin voyage. I think it may have to be a night time excursion by way of a public hostelry. So if you see a pissed woman on the Hill, erratically wheeling a shopping trolley late at night, please give me a wave. It will boost morale and soften the blow of impending old age and death.

Aplogies for the hound’s long silence. I got temporarily absorbed in a couple of projects but I am now straining at the designer leash to release random ramblings.

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When is a pouffe not a pouffe?

Lovely moment in Primrose Hill this weekend. Entering a rather chi chi interiors shop, with a pram, a six and seven year old, we were eyed querulously by the lavender cardigan-adorned man working there.

I quickly told my little people not to touch anything in this Aladdin’s cave of delicate, priceless trinkets.

“But can I touch this,” asked my wide-eyed three-year old, pointing at a rather splendid footstool.

“Of course you can touch it darling. It’s just an old pouffe,” I replied unthinkingly.

AArgh

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French posh innit

Lovely moment driving by Ally Pally and spotting a ladies hairdresser named ‘Cheveux.’ I love that someone still thinks that by translating the word ‘hair’ into French it somehow elevates the salon into a sophisticated, go-to destination. I just managed to stop myself from going in and asking for a rinse bleu.

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Lest

There are an awful lot of people using the word Lest.

(I know that I should put this on twitter but I am not twittering yet.)

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