Not suitable for people with irony deficiency and
cannot guarantee nut-free

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Expedition Blighty

The Blighty family are off on an expedition OOp North, to visit Lovely B, Mr B's cousin who lives near Newcastle. Lovely B has screwed down all the furniture, hidden the silver and padlocked the explosives cabinet. We all have our wetsuits packed as we will be going boogie boarding in the sea. Risking hypothermia in this way has become a family tradition.

When I went upstairs to pack, I got distracted by this book. I know some of you are fascinated by the Mitfords. They were certainly an interesting lot, and I adore Nancy's novels but some of her siblings' politics were decidedly iffy. There are some jolly photos of Diana and Unity with their great friend Mr Hitler. Oh dear.

I have also been staying up way beyond my bedtime watching this. Do you know it? It's trashy and yet such fun. A model dies, and comes back in the body and with the brains of a female lawyer, but with the model's fashion knowhow and streetwise smartness.
Now try to behave yourselves while I'm away. I know it's hard. Of course the Blighty family will be behaving impeccably at all times. Even when their extremities go blue.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Colour Me Beautiful and Other Things I find Worrying about my Wife

Good evening, Mr Blighty here. I have been entrusted with the drafting of this post under the Bloggers Spousal Delegation Act 2010. I trust you will find this post clear and easy to follow. I can assure you that it is compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights (I have been taking extra care in that respect following the controversial Clamping of People Walking Too Slowly in Urban City Centres Act).

Very occasionally (when she has been reading one of those women's magazines at the hairdressers) Mrs Blighty will ask me if after 11 years of marriage the mystery has gone from our relationship. I can quite confidently say that on the contrary, the mystery only deepens. Particularly the mystery of what on earth is going on in Mrs B's head.

As I am currently on holiday from my highly demanding and important job of keeping my semi-colons under control, I have been able to observe Mrs B's activities from close quarter. I have come to the following conclusions:

a) she is as nutty as a fruit cake with a side order of extra nuts;
b) she spends a lot of time talking about ironing but never actually doing it; and
c) she still has no real understanding of the best way to load the dishwasher.
When I pointed out her shortcomings on this latter point, her response further revealed her lack of expertise in this area - even if I could get it up there, it would not lead to cleaner dishes and would definitely breach Elf and Safety legislation.
Let me illustrate further the mystery that is Mrs B.
The other day I was sitting at the computer checking developments on my latest exciting piece of drafting, The Recycling of Dentures for Old Age Pensioners Act, when Mrs B rushed in from the library waving a book at me and shouting, "Come on Blighty, help me do my colours, I can't work out whether I'm light and warm or soft and clear!"

At that precise moment she looked quite pink and over-excited but I felt it would not be in my best interests to point that out.

Mrs B explained it was all to do with skin tone and she needed to decide what her's was. There were pictures of various celebrities illustrating the different types. "But don't you dare say I am like Judy B***dy Dench!" warned Mrs B. ( Mrs B always refers to the ubiquitous Miss Dench in these terms, on the grounds that Miss Dench is in every single film ever made and is always the same; personally I think Mrs B is jealous that Judy gets to play M in the Bond films and so meet that Craig bloke Mrs B seems to find so personable).

After prancing around with different coloured scarves and demanding whether they lit up her face and brought out her eyes (on stalks??), to which I answered "I suppose so" each time, she stumped off upstairs "to do the ironing". After about 10 mins she reappeared, waving her paws at me and trilling: "Look, I've painted my nails and they match my necklace and this vase". I dutifully took a picture before pointing out she was going to find it a real pain carrying the vase round all day. Mrs B then announced that I did not know anything about fashion and swept off further to contemplate the ironing. Another thing which mystifies me about Mrs B is her approach to gardening; her lack of enthusiasm ("But I did gardening last year, surely it's not time to do it again?") is matched only by her lack of success. She was disgusted to find something had been eating the leaves of her hosta. There were dark mutterings about "those damn deer". Any deer better steer clear of Mrs B for a while. Unless it wants to end up in one of her "nourishing" stews.

Meanwhile anything Mrs B hasn't planted or "nurtured" (I use "nurture" in the loosest possible sense) flourishes with amazing, unstoppable vigour.

Mrs B got very very cross when this Miracle Gro thingie would not work. I found her in the most dreadful pickle trying to attach it to the hosepipe. I tried to calm her down by pointing out that the blue matched her nail varnish. She gave me a withering look. I thought about suggesting she tried spraying it on her chest, but she had the secateurs in her hand at the time.

I suggested a look at the trees at the bottom of the garden might calm her down. The beauty and majesty of nature and whatnot.

But what really did the trick was a little drink of this very fine wine. Mrs B and I drink only the best.

During her latest library visit Mrs B also sourced a couple of relaxation tapes for Boy 1. For some time now he has been doing the Dance of the Seven Bedtimes, coming downstairs to complain he can't get to sleep as he has been lying there for all of 3 mins/ it's too light/dark/the thread count in his sheets is not high enough, he needs silk pjs/his pillow needs spraying with lavender water etc.

"Rest and Sleep" is particularly hilarious. Each evening the house now echoes with a hypnotherapist lady saying in a monotone " Do you know how many muscles there are in your eyelids?" Sometimes you can catch Boy 1's abrupt reply of "Who cares!". The tape is doing the trick, however: he apparently lies in bed constructing unhealthy fantasies about how she is a serial killer before falling peacefully asleep.

Finally can someone please explain why Mrs B keeps leaving this brochure where ever I look? I have promised to buy her a leaf blower, what more could she want? Ah, the mystery that is Mrs B!

Note from the real Mr Blighty, this post was in fact drafted by Mrs Blighty masquerading as me. Further proof that she is nuts.
Further note - the above note was in fact drafted by Mrs B masquerading as......oh shut up

Sunday, 15 August 2010

A game of two halves

The other night we went "en famille" to the England v Hungary football match at Wembley Stadium. First I was quite shocked that I had agreed to go. Must have been when I wasn't paying attention. But then I was actually excited.

I have only ever been to one professional football match before in my life, and that was when I was 13 and on a German exchange week, staying with Uschi Langenbeinen who was chronologically the same age as me but in every other way at least 10 years older. We went to see the home team Leverkusen play. (Leverkusen is an industrial city near Koln, most of the city worked for the big chemical company Bayer). Uschi spent the match practising snogging with her boyfriend Boris von Bratwurst and I spent the match practising smoking with my friend from home, Lizzie Dingle. By the end of the match Uschi had an impressive love bite, I had gone green and Lizzie's hair had got singed twice. But enough of these reminiscences of my jeunesse dore.

Mr B explained that it was a "friendly" match. That does not mean they are all cuddly and happy and then their mummies give them chips and ice cream afterwards; no, it means it doesn't count towards any tournament but they still want to win. And Mr Capello the England manager would be trying out his players. And the hardcore England fans would boo any player who was in the World Cup, to signal their disapproval of their Disastrous Performance. (copyright every English newspaper, TV channel and the man down the pub).

We went by train to Wembley. We enjoy a train journey.

I liked this Communist Russian style statue at the train station. This is in a nearby town, traditionally a very wealthy commuter area. This must be the only member of the downtrodden proletariat ever seen in the People's Republic of StockbrokerVille.

When we got there, there were lots of people, but it was very well organised. There were police and police horses. They must have heard about Blighty family outings. Our water bottles were confiscated in case we turned them into missiles but we were allowed to keep a huge pair of heavy binoculars. Strange.

We were in something called the Family Enclosure. It makes sense. You don't want rough, uncouth, noisy groups prone to senseless violence,verbal outbursts and unpredictable lavatory requirements anywhere near quiet, reformed professional football hooligans who have come to watch the football in peace.

Just look at this frightening pair. I gave them a wide berth. Scary. ( What's that Mr B? Oh, are they? Thought they looked familiar).

The architecture was impressive. We went up and up this immense escalator.

The pitch looked enormous to me. Fancy running up and down that for 45 mins each half, er, 90 mins in total. Made me feel tired just looking at it.

Lots of seats. Over there was a mini brass band that lead the chanting. More about chanting later.

Boy 2 wants me to point out that there were about 72,024 people there that night. Boy 2 has more to say: "First Hungary scored and then I wanted my money back and I wanted to go home, and I was very cross and sad and the linesman needs glasses because that goal was sooo not over the line and I got itchy pitchy and had to eat 7 biscuits and it was hopeless we had lost and Daddy said it is not over till the final whistle blows and I did some clapping with Mummy - clap clap, clap clap clap etc INGLUND! - and Mummy was really into it, so embarrassing - and then......Steven George Gerrard scored and we all stood up and cheered and it was brill..... and then.....Steven George Gerrard scored again and it was brill and I always knew we would win and what a great night and Mummy jumped up and down and shouted at Gerrard "Take your shirt off" and Daddy told Mummy to sit down and behave otherwise she would lose a star on her star chart..."

Boy 1 wants to add " it was fun, they booed whenever an England player who had been in the World Cup got the ball, and they booed Rooney when he went off and he had on red boots, and Frank Lampard had blue boots and Joe Hart the goalkeeper had white boots and all the Hungarian players were called Zoltan, and then we went home on the train and it was dark and we went to bed and no bath, yay."

Mrs B here again. I would just like to add that the whole cheering thing is very cathartic and tremendously enjoyable and the only reason I wanted Gerrard to take his shirt off was I was worried he was overheating after all that exertion...

Photo from Metro website

Friday, 13 August 2010

Something for the weekend Mrs B?

A very nice lady called Kate raised an interesting question about my last post, where I mentioned buying my boys purses. I now realise that in America and possibly Australia "purse" is what women carry their most vital possessions around in - credit card, phone, lipstick, handcuffs, welding kit. She imagined Boys 1 and 2 tripping along with little designer bags over their arms, Boy 1 with a Mulberry Bayswater and Boy 2 with a Hermes Birkin, for example. You see, here in England we call "purses" "handbags". For us, "purses" are what you put your money/small change in. What do you people call them? Change purses? Bill folds? Condominiums? Eggplant?

That terrible old know-all Oscar Wilde went on about two nations divided by a common language. He does have a point.

I know in America "pants" are trousers; here "pants" are knickers, underwear. I am always amused that Americans talk about "pants suits." And I think "suspenders" in Americaland are what men use to hold up their trousers; in England these are called "braces"; suspenders are what people use to hold up their stockings/liven up their marriage/wear when playing Dr Frank N Furter in the local am dram production of "The Rocky Horror Show".

The best example of the US/Anglo language mismatch I ever witnessed was during a conference for lawyers from all over the world. Someone asked an Amercian lawyer what she would be wearing to the dinner that evening. "A sheath" she replied. The entire British contingent collapsed in very undignified squawks of laughter. Much to the bemusement of all delegates from other countries. Eventually when we'd picked ourselves off the floor, blown our noses, tucked our shirts back in and put our glasses back on, we explained that in England "sheath" means, er, a condom. (No, nothing to do with condominiums).

So you see ladies, purse sounds weird. But it could have been worse. Much, much worse.

Images from Wikipedia of Tim Curry and Monica Bellucci

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Mr Blighty is in Da House and Da Village

Mr B never tells me too much of his movements, are it were. I am informed on a strictly need to know basis, usually at the last minute. I used to fantasise that this was because, rather than being a government lawyer sitting in an office all day drafting laws about financial products, dredging in the Thames or off shore banking for low income families, he was in fact a highly trained M15 (or M16 can never remember which is which) operative, sort of like Daniel Craig with a law degree. And glasses. And less muscles. And a better understanding of when to use semi-colons.

But the truth I am afraid is less exciting. He does not tell me his plans too far in advance in case I plan home improvements for him to do. Or make him stay with Grandma Whacker (where she gets him to do home improvements).

So, to my surprise, he is now on holiday. Not in the office. At home. Here. With me. Till September.

It's nice and yet....

It's hard to get used to having him around, I feel like those wives whose husbands have retired. Already, only 2 hours into his hols, he gave me some interesting insights into how to do the washing up better. Bless.

The other day he came to the supermarket with me. Which was sweet, and yet.... he kept disappearing with the trolley, each time I tracked him down to find him looking at the car magazines, or soy sauce, or cat food. We don't have a cat. Although less boisterous than the boys, he was harder to keep track of - I can tell where they are by the shouting, crashing noises, old ladies flinging themselves out of the way of the trolley and giving me black looks and muttering about parents are to blame.. Also I can shout at the boys, which I enjoy.

And, as this week the boys are doing a cricket course I had planned a little trippette to a high end retail discount outlet called Bicester Village, in Oxfordshire. Which I like to do sans Mr B. And his calculator.

But you can't keep a Blighty from a shopping trip. Mr B agreed to come with. I did my best to prepare him emotionally. I explained there would be shops, consumer goods, use of plastic, and general debauchery. If he was very good I would even let him have a coffee.

Bicester Village on a very rainy day

Mrs B locked onto target. Jeez,woman, get your highlights done! Or go brown. Two tone is not cool! And what's with the anorak? Ok, yes, it was raining, but where's your Burberry? OOh, you don't have one! OOh!

Window of N Peal Cashmere, nice tiger!

All very fancy schmancy, Mr B complained there was no Primark.

Dresses were tried on in DVF, the tweedy looking number was particularly hideous. The wrap dress was the best, but I already have similar (cheaper) dresses! The one in the middle was very geometrical - education value for boys and their maths??

A jolly time was had, despite the rain and the pervading smell of DRAINS. Yes, drains is the new thing - Grandma Whacker, Anne-Marie http::// Bicester Village all are having drainage issues, er, problems. There is nothing like the smell of sewage to add that delightful frisson to your high class shopping experience! Bicester, you need Grandma W, Mr UnSpellableski and their sticks, they are good workers, they just need a nice sit down, a nice cup of tea and a nice read of the Daily Mail once a day.

When we got home I bewundered our purchases, as the Germans almost certainly don't say.

Discounted top from The White Company, I have been obsessed with LPC's standalone top since first I saw it on her blog. I do mean her shirt, not her actual top..

Purses for the boys from Cath Kidston, as Boy 1 lost his last purse (my purse) on a school trip to Cadbury Chocolate World he now tells me; we are doing pocket money in an attempt to instill financial responsibility; would I like pocket money too? HaHa, Mr B, Ha Ha; and candles from Penhaligon, and apron for me to turn me into Stepford Wife!! Mr B splurged on big important pants, £5 from Ralph Lauren, for sleeping in. I got Boy 1 similar pants from The White Company. So they can both sit round in their important pants and do male bonding and stuff.

So that's it. But don't worry, today Mr B gets his own back. We are going with the boys to Wembley to see England play Hungary at football. I'll definitely need a Burberry for that.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Mrs Blighty's Nooks and Crannies

YooHoo, we are back from Grandma's!

Went as well as could be expected. Small hiccup when Boy 1, incensed by Grandma eating his chips in a restaurant, flumps about so much he ends up toppling onto the floor face first with his chair on top of him. Cue desperate maternal flutterings, application of ice to bruised face, wailing, tears, runny nose, the works. Meanwhile Boy 2, ever the opportunist, quietly polishes off the disputed chips.

Grandma also had a problem with her drains. (Glamour as always with Blighty, eat your heart out Ivana Trump!) One day we came home to find Grandma (aged 80) and her Polish neighbour Mr UnSpellableski (at least 85) with the covers off the manholes, happily poking around with sticks. Such a lot to look forward to in later life, ladies, can't wait! I should have got a picture for you but without AromaVision you wouldn't get the full experience anyway.

Look at this little chap we met while at Grandma's.

One day the boys got it into their heads they wanted a dog. I suggested we start with a guinea pig. We went to look at them. Boy 2 was particularly desperate to get one there and then. This one was too young to leave his mum. Of course by the next day all had been forgotten. Phew. Mr B said no way, he was NOT having a guinea pig in the house. Maybe a dog one day. A small dog with strong nerves.

Before I went to Grandma's I carried out Operation Hanger. I found Hanger Heaven in TKMaxxxxxx (my spiritual home).

I also swung by Crooks and Grannies (I have re-named it Grannies to reflect its normal clientele). Look, a Faux Fuchsia temple dog, all by himself. A small dog with strong nerves. Perfect.

I liked these ones too.

I have also embraced false roses (foses??).

The silhouette thingie is supposed to be me, it was done years ago, can't think where, Grandma found it at her house. There is a lot of artistic licence going on. My hair never looked like that, long and wavy. It is as straight as , er, better not write that, don't want to be sued...

These are real flowers, Mr B gave them to me this week for our wedding anniversary. 12 years. 12 long years. 12 long, hard years - ok Mr B, that's enough.
Meanwhile I push on with the educational quotes. I have finished Double Drink Story, the book by Caitlin Thomas about her life with Dylan. To summarise, they went to the pub a lot, got drunk and fell over. I admire her stamina. She must have had the constitution of an ox. She had 3 children with Dylan, and after his death, went to live in Italy where she got together with an Italian chap. In her late forties she noticed she was putting on weight around her middle, a doctor diagnosed swollen something or other, she did lots of frantic exercise like riding to lose the weight, yes, you guessed, she was pregnant and had a son.

I liked the inspirational message above, on display at the cricket pitch where Boy 2 played cricket this weekend. "Unacceptable" - that's telling them, now I'm scared! Boy 2 didn't want to go to cricket and put up quite a fight, but shot himself in the foot a bit by shouting " I don't want to go to tennis!"

Boys 1 and 2 have been working on their own motivational material. They got the Nintendo Wii back (which has spent more time confiscated than being played on, due to anger management and florid language issues ). Boy 1 penned this helpful aide memoire - they have been warned that it's 3 strikes and then the thing gets sold on Ebay. Remember, if the red mist descends, say "Machete" 5 times. Why "machete"? Should I be worried?

Monday, 2 August 2010

Brace Yourself Grandma Whacker!

Me and Boys 1 and 2 are off to Grandma's for a few days. We have packed our bags. We travel light. Our luggage is compact and elegant.

OOPS! You weren't meant to see the real luggage situation!

Departure preparations are not going too smoothly. Boys very over-excited. I have already had to confiscate one deflated beachball (being used as "wig" by Boy 1), phone, camera, and Boy 1's Ipod thingie; also the man has turned up to fix the broken tile in the bathroom; he has had 2 months to do this but decided to drop by today, and of course he would like a cup of tea (milk and one sugar) and now seems happily settled in for the morning.. I expect we will leave some time in early September..
Mr B gave a serious pep talk:
while at Grandma's, no shouting, arguing, use of bad language, sulking, whining to be taken shopping!
That's me covered, wonder what Mr B said to the boys.
It is Grandma's birthday while we are there. We have some presents for her. I went all fancy with the ribbon.
So no posts for a while I am afraid. Grandma is lo-tech.
But don't worry, we have all the essentials covered and will be dressing for dinner.