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

Monday, 30 May 2011

Mrs Blighty's Inner Strength

People often ask me what gives me the strength to keep going, when the going gets tough.  They say to me,  "Mrs Blighty, what gives you the strength to keep going, when the going gets tough?"

Right now the going is just a little bit tough: instead of being in the United States of Americaland as a judge on X Factor Who's Got Talent Celebrity Bootcamp Get Me out of the Dragon's Den, I am here facing a week of  those little blighters my beloved Boys 1 and 2 on parole from the young offenders' institute  hols from school and having to keep them from breaking the furniture motivated and inspired with educational activities.

So how do I keep centred, calm, in balance and grounded in these circumstances?
The answer is: murder. 

I explained this with a happy grin to the lady standing next to me at the library the other day.  She quickly moved away.  Can't think why.

But it's true, in trying times I take refuge in novels and DVDs featuring murder and other torrid crimes.

Here's some I read recently:

" A Field of Darkness" is the first of three novels featuring WASP outcast Madeline Dare and in this one she sets out to prove her cousin was not involved in the murder of two girls years earlier.  It's good, but I like her second book, "The Crazy School" best.




"The Last Fix" by K.O. Dahl is one of those Scandanavian detective novels.  This one is Norwegian and as usual features a depressed detective ( this one talks to his goldfish) and his mixed up sidekick (relationship issues).  The success of Henning Mankell's Wallander has led to an influx of Nordic detectives onto the bookshelves.  I prefer Arnaldur Indri├░ason's Icelandic Inspector Erlendur -  he is marvellously miserable.


 "From The Dead" features Mark Billingham's detective, Tom Thorne.  He's quite depressed, has relationship issues but no goldfish.  Thorne gets to go to Mijas and Puerto Banus in Spain so I guess Billingham is already thinking about the TV adaptation.

And now some DVDs:


Hmm, Silent Witness.  I watched half the first episode and I am sorry, personally I find this a bit pants.  It insists on spelling everything out VERY CLEARLY in a very BBC sort of way so the viewer cannot fail to get what's going on :
Scene 1

Military helicopter crashes.
Top pathologist : " I can't believe they said it was pilot error when they don't yet know the cause of the crash."  Cue atmospheric music.

Scene 2
Government Minister attends scene of crash and says to Press:
"We believe it is Pilot Error."
Scene 3
Top Pathologist (getting angry) says: "  I can't believe they said it was Pilot Error when they.. etc etc

Mrs Blighty nods off for a bit, goes to make a cup of tea, fills in her tax return etc. before catching up with
Scene 28
Top Pathologist (angry and emotional and really doing Acting on full throttle):
" When a crash happens it's only too easy to push responsibility down the Chain of Command and say it was Pilot Error, particularly (pulling out all stops and going for Major TV Acting Award) if the pilot is not in a position to answer back as he is DEAD.." Cue dramatic music etc etc.

Actually, as I type this I realise I have in fact enjoyed Silent Witness tremendously, but for all the wrong reasons.  My enjoyment is increased by a quick read of the plot synopses on the DVD case:
"Nikki clashes with DCI Whatnot ...."
"Harry tangles with a Russian oligarch.."
"Harry....clashes with the police..."
"Nikki clashes with Zambian police.."

What a lot of clashing ( and a bit of tangling)!  Excellent! 

And I do so love "clash".  Have you noticed it is only ever used in the newspapers or in plot summaries?  When was the last time you asked your hubs, "How did work go today dear?" and he answered, " Well, I clashed with my boss first thing but....."?



"A Touch of Frost" - this was more like it.  I have always liked Frost as he wears an anorak and a pork pie hat and has a boss called Inspector Mullet who always gets involved on a case if there is any chance of a TV appearance.  Frost is based in fictional Denton, a town near London.  I love the episodes where there is a psychopath at large and young policewoman/dog handler/nun/nurse etc decides it would be a great idea to go for a midnight stroll in Denton Woods.. "What do you mean, you saw Amy/Suki/Immaculata/Wendy going into Denton Woods?"


Among all the murder and mayhem, I read "Talking About Jane Austen in Baghdad", as I heard a piece about it on the radio.  It's the real life email friendship between a BBC journalist (Bree, married, 3 young children) and May (an Iraqi academic living in Baghdad after the toppling of Saddam Hussein). As I am horribly nosy, I loved reading the emails between the two women and getting a view into both their lives.  It's also very clear that May (and so I assume many of the Iraqi middle class) resent the invasion and hate the ensuing chaos, bloodshed, militia groups, tribal score settling and lack of basic amenities like power, petrol and rubbish collection,  and actually found life much better under Saddam...

But don't worry - I have got myself a far more soothing read for tonight...



All book and DVD pics whipped from Amazon - did you guess??


Friday, 27 May 2011

All Normal Chez Blighty*

Boy 1 ready for some disco action
Dahlings! A quick post while I have the chance - Boy 1 is at yet another disco and Boy 2 has (illegally) reconnected the Wii and I am pretending I haven't noticed...

This time the disco is at the girls' school - St Britneys.  When Boy 1 learnt the venue, he nodded sagely and muttered, "Enemy territory."  Should I have asked Mr Cameron for a spare Apache, for air cover?  What if the mission goes wrong and Boy 1 goes native, and is found years later on the netball court, wild eyed and covered in hairclips, bangles and glitter?

Highlights of this week have been Boy 1's new cricket bat and cricket wheelie bag, and Boy 2's wounded foot - caused by an attempt to scale his wardrobe one night after lights out, for reasons known only to Boy 2 and assisted only by a rickety chair. Result - terrific thump, wailing, school attendance wearing one school shoe and one bright red Croc and mad hoppy-skippy walking (to emphasise the incredible pain and amazing braveness of the Afflicted One).

This is so totally rad and happening, Boy 2 like totally owns this look and rocks it like majorly
The combination of the new cricket bag and the foot incident really made me wonder about the Blighty gene pool. Picture the scene: I decant Cricket Boy and Hoppalong Cassidy from the car after school; Hoppalong gets to the door first but wobbles at the threshold; Cricket Boy, fresh from a cricket match where his team triumphed over the Weeny Tweenies under 5s, pushes past in a manly, sportsmanlike way, his new cricket bag slung over his shoulder; unfortunately he has not worked out that the bag is wider than the doorway.....so he wedges himself in the door and practically knocks himself out, and narrowly avoids bringing down old Hoppalong who is tottering behind him...
I didn't help by dissolving into mad laughter but really...what a pair! !
 Is there any hope for those two I wonder?**  Could they perhaps play Thompson and Thomson in a Tintin adaptation?

This is wider than the door apparently, it should have an Elf and Safety Notice on it and so should the door frame

My handydandy calendar which has funny quotes for each day (and quite frankly is getting on my nerves with its relentless jollity) featured this the other day:


I like a challenge so I whipped up a cake -  yes, Mrs Blighty, Having It All.  But I had a chocolate fudge icing malfunction - it was so runny, not only did it run off the cake but the top of the cake started to slide off the bottom, in sinister slo-mo.  You never see Nigella's top sliding off her bottom, as it were. (Although no doubt some tapes will surface at some point).


And of course,  the main news is that, having managed a few days at school, the Boys are now on holidays AGAIN.  You know how fashionistas do that "Cost per Wear" calculation - if you buy a dress which costs £800 and wear it 10 times it only costs you...er....(but why not buy a dress that costs £10 and wear that 10 times and it will work out even cheaper???)...well, I hate to think of the Cost per Wear on a Daphne4Boy$ uniform...but don't worry, I am doing my best to bring the cost down by forcing Boy 1 to wear a blazer whose sleeves now stop just below his elbows... I tried to do the same with the PE shorts until the music teacher took me to one side and explained that there wasn't a part for a falsetto in the school choir...



* I have to thank Debs for this title; Debs is a loyal and witty commenter, who made me laugh by commenting recently that everything seemed "normal as usual" in the Blighty household.
** Should Boy 1 take up the double bass?  I have to come clean and fess up to similar door width/turning in corridor/  misshaps with a cello in my yoof..

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Rubby and Chest

Not Mrs Blighty! From Hello.com
Dahlings, I do apologise for the lack of posting.  I have been prevented from Telling All due to a Super Injunction  - Mr B****** obtained a court order stopping me from publishing details of our relationship and family life, including our d*****  p****** .    But the gagging order has now been lifted, following a further hearing at the High Court where I represented myself and gave an exhaustive 4 hour presentation, at the end of which the judge woke up and ruled no one was the slightest bit interested and he now wanted lunch.

So on I go, doing freedom of speech and whatnot.

Now we all know small boys move in mysterious ways, and Boy 2 is no exception.  If he decides something is called something, that is what it is called, despite all evidence to the contrary and despite the entire world calling it something else.

For example, rugby, that game played in winter, the object of which is for boys to get covered in mud and mothers to get hypothermia. Boy 2 insists it is called Rubby.*

And now Boy 2 has joined Daphnes4Boy$ Chess Club.  He maintains it is called Chest.

He is very keen on Chest these days.  I can't actually play, but Boy 2 has been teaching me.

He expertly took me through each piece and how they move:
"And this Mummy, is a prawn."
"Er, sweetie, they are pawns, not prawns. Prawns are a kind of seafood, like shrimps."
"Yes, they are small like shrimps, they are shrimpy, that's why they are called prawns."
"Darling, they really are pawns."
"I call them prawns".  End of discussion.

Oh well, I am just thankful that Chest and Rubby don't get combined, if you see what I mean.

In other news, Boy 2 has to do the dreaded English Speaking Board exam.  He has to recite a poem learnt by heart, read a passage chosen from a book and give a talk on an object or game
Boy 2 has chosen a bit from "Mr Gum and the Power Crystals" by Andy Stanton

I have already suffered through the English Speaking exam with Boy 1.  Fairly traumatic due to Boy 1's refusal to learn his poem properly, and the deliberate substitution of the wrong words (mainly butt and willy). But we managed. Just.

So, no worries, I will just recycle Boy 1's talk again for Boy 2. 

Now what was it?  OOh, I did visual aids and everything, I remember now!

Ah. The talk.  It was on Chest.
And the different pieces.
Including prawns.

Maybe time for a rethink.




Good posture is important when giving a presentation



No, not like this Boy 2!

* These days I am watching a lot of cricket matches, I feel just like Liz Hurley watching old Shane Warne, she wears slinky jeggings and a little corsety top, I wear 3 jumpers and Boy 1's cagoule; at the end of the match Liz puckers up and gives old Warnie a kiss; I chase Boy 1 round the field trying to get him to give his nose a good blow...

Shoptastic

Unlike Daphne, my hair is naturally this colour..
Wearing my new spotted silk scarf from Phase 8 and leopard print belt from Zara
Dahlings, I really feel I have been neglecting my role as deranged marsupial style icon to the masses.  One cannot just leave it to Daphne Guinness.  But recently I have been sooo occupied with riot control, kettling and star charts that I have scarcely had time for matters sartorial.  Do forgive me.

Things have not been going that well on the clothes front. Remember the terrible skirt I bought on-line (now safely returned to the Big Warehouse in the Sky)? Well I have experienced another Nasty On-line Buy - ("Nob") - yes, I have had to invent a whole new word to cover this recurring nightmare. I present my latest Nob.

Dress X- Small from Gap, shurely shome mistake, which explains why I am doing the Monty Python Mr Gumby stance.
Nobs - will the nightmare never end?
 Last week I went for a little light shopping with two Mummy friends. We hit up the local Happy Valley Shopping Centre.

Of course, union rules provide that no mother of male children can pursue retail activities without buying some sort of sporting equipment for said male child.   So we found ourselves in the Sports Shop discussing the merits of size 4 bats versus size 3, octopus grips, knocking in (isn't this what got us into the union in the first place?) and oiling your bat.
Look at these prices - but these are for adult cricketers who take it Very Seriously

  

I wondered whether I should get one of these hats - who knew Philip Treacy sold off the peg numbers like these? 
 

Things hotted up when we went into House of Fraser.  Look at these shoes!  When did shoes get so high? And so fetishistic?

These and the shoes below are Kurt Geiger

The leopard and red ones are very understated I feel, for Minnie Mouse

Look close - these are bugtastic

The result of a plot between orthopaedic surgeons, insurance companies and personal injury lawyers?

The girlfriends and I had a laugh trying on lots of clothes and coming out of the changing rooms in fits of giggles - it was like being a teenager again...  I did not buy anything except for the spotty silk scarf I am modelling in the first pic in this post.


But you can't keep a shoptart down - this week I popped up to London and had a toddle round Oxford Street, ending up in Selfridges.  I spotted this chap by the Creme de la Mer counter, probably about to spend the fee from his latest movie on a pot of skin serum.
Mr Clive Owen

He looked at me with ill-concealed lust  failed to register my existence and so I had a good peruse of the OPI stand and bought this orange polish from their Summer 2011 Texas range.
  
On the right is the OPI polish, on the left  a polish from Accessorize in Starlet, cheap as chips but my goodness, it stays on like a dream


When I had finished annoying the OPI ladies by putting the polishes back in the wrong place (nail polish, bringing people together) and walked back past the Creme de la Mer counter Mr O was still there - bless, either he was lurking, hoping to talk to me or there was some terrible shortage of premium unguents for Hollywood A listers.. He was very tall, tanned and striking, in a dark suit.  But I just know he wouldn't have Mr Blighty's drafting skills...


I faced the ever hectic MAC counter at Selfridges and bought a lipstick called Vegas Vamp.

I hear that lipstick sales are up, an indicator of economic downturn; hear that Mr B? I am not spendthrift, I am an important economic indicator...

I like MAC - they don't take themselves too seriously.  I picked this lipgloss up a while ago - it's got a pic of Cruella de Ville on it, a true style icon indeed, though not dog friendly..


A few other things winked at me and asked me to take them home:
  
Orange belt from Zara

Dress from H&M - I took Piglet and his knitted vest from Winnie the Pooh as my style inspiration
  
Silk dress from Zara

 In fact it was only Mr Owen who did not to wink and beg to come home with me.

Just as well.

He would have hated my moisturiser.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Droopy Peonies

We are currently suffering from a nasty case of droopy peonies here at Blighty HQ.

Perhaps I should re-phrase that: my peonies have gone all floppy.  Look.


I must admit I am not really a gardener.  I find it annoying: things won't grow where they are supposed to, and then pop up where they are not meant to be.

And you do a couple of hours weeding, and bingo, you need to do it all over again before you've even had time to get the dirt out from under your fingernails.

Guerrilla pansies, surviving against all odds




No idea what this is but I haven't killed it yet


And the grass. In the summer months it needs mowing every week. This gives rise to the Blighty HQ mowing ritual:
Mr Blighty: I really ought to mow the lawn this weekend.
Mrs Blighty: (pausing briefly to remove her head from her crisp packet) Yes dear.
Mr Blighty: But it might rain. 
Mrs Blighty: It's not raining right now.
Mr Blighty: It looks like there could be a light drizzle.
Mrs Blighty: No, that's just bits of crisp hitting the windows.
Mr Blighty: I haven't really got time to do it now, it's almost lunchtime.
Mrs Blighty: I think you can just about get it done before lunch, dear, it's only 10.15.
Mr Blighty: Well, if it's ok with you, I'll go and do the lawn then.
Mrs Blighty (settling down with the newspaper) Yes dear, what a marvellous idea, DEAR.
Exit Mr Blighty in direction of garden shed.
4 minutes later Mr Blighty re-enters kitchen.
Mr Blighty: Slight problem - I've just realised that Toad is in the Ascendant with a Half Crescent Bagel, while the outlying Moons of Bathmat are orbiting the...
Mrs Blighty: JUST MOW THE BLOODY LAWN!.....
Mr Blighty (in hurt tone): I was just trying to explain that the mower won't start...
I know what this is, it's a...wait a minute, I know this one...

The other thing about gardening is that Grandma Whacker is always being encouraging about it:
Phone rings, it's Grandma.
Grandma: Shall I bring you some rulywumpos and some climbing fingbottles for the terrace? I won't if you don't want me to.
Mrs B: (thinking to herself: Christ, that's the last thing I need) Oh Mummy, how lovely but no thank you, I don't think I'll bother this year, they didn't do very well last year.
Grandma:  Are you sure?  They would look so jolly in pots.
Very bad photos of a muntjac deer in our front garden ( and lovely shot of our bins too).  Muntjac are originally from Asia and started off in a zoo at Wooburn Abbey in the 1900s, escaped and then spread all over the place; they are called ASBO Bambis  - (Anti Social Behaviour Orders given to delinquents)  - they look cute but are very destructive, eating plants, saplings, and they make odd barking noises particularly late at night
Mrs B: Yes, it's not worth it, last year I completely forgot to water them for 4 months which wasn't really a problem as the deer had already chewed off the shoots, and the Boys' Ultimate Tennis finished off what the deer missed, and then what with the slugs, the greenfly and the mixup with the watering can and the weedkiller...
 Grandma: I''ll bring them then...in fact I might get a few hundred more and bring in a lorryload of topsoil.



No idea what these are either but have vague memory of buying them in fit of Garden Centre Madness



 Anyway, I have hiked up my peonies with a stick and some twine.  (Made my eyes water a bit).





Wonder whether stick and twine would work on Mr B and the lawn mower?

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Discotastic

Boy 1 attended his school disco last night.  This highlight of the Daphne4Boy$ social calendar includes girls (or grils as they are known in our house) from two local girls' schools, The Katie Price School for Young Ladies, and St Britneys.  It is an established myth among the Daphne boys that the Katies are total babes while the Britneys make the school dog look good; I have already given a stern lecture to my boys about kindness and not making horrid comments like this, but this silly folklore persists.  I feel sure the Britneys will have the last laugh and will no doubt break many a former Daphne's boy heart in later years.


The build up to this event was quite something.  A few days ago Boy 1 requested that his favourite shirt be retrieved from the bottom of the laundry basket, washed and ironed.  It's got a sort of Miami Vice vibe to it.  Bound to impress the girls.


Then, a couple of nights ago at the dinner table Boy 1 announced that in Science that day they had done " Pollination and (pausing for effect and then in over-enthusiastic tones)..Fertilisation."  "You know, Mummy, mammals, er, like humans, and Mr Grummidge drew a big picture on the board of a penis and testicles and we all giggled and....."

"More pasta anyone?" I squeaked.

Boys 1 and 2 looked at each other conspiratorially and then Boy 1 said, " I'm going to get the Big Book of Sex" and shot off into the other room.

Now, I am worried on at least 2 fronts:
  1. the timing of this biology lesson seems a bit unfortunate, what with the disco and girls being there and all, we really don't want any pollination;
  2. what the heck is the Big Book of Sex?  And have Boys 1 and 2 being telling all their schoolmates that they have such a book at home and have their schoolmates told their parents and do they think we have a copy of the Karma Sutra hanging around the place or some sort of scary manual thingie ? (if we have it's news to me, though we do have a DIY manual which I find quite exciting....)
Boy 1 reappeared with this. It's a jolly book to explain things to children which has been lurking on the bookshelf for years and which the boys have never taken much interest in.
Though they do like these pages, which I agree look great fun. 
I asked Boy 1 if  I should get him a space hopper to take to the disco and he got VERY CROSS.
I do wonder if this book has affected them at a tender age and if they will forever be doomed to need a minimum of 20 ballooons before they can .....or the opposite - what if they can't even walk past a partyshop without .....?.right, I'll stop now.


On the night of the disco we had a last minute panic about what trousers to wear.


And  Boy 1 took a shower.  I feel we have moved into teen territory.



Boy 1 swiped Mr Blighty's deodorant, I am not quite sure to which bit of himself Boy 1 applied it, the other day I saw him rubbing it on his wrist.  Apparently all the boys in Y5 (9-10years) are obsessed with Lynx deodorant, to such an extent that asthma attacks in the changing rooms are up 100%.


Mr Blighty collected Boy 1 from the disco when it ended at 9pm.  I could not get anything out of Boy 1 about what had happened.  But later Mr Blighty told me that Boy1 had confided that he had danced 56 times, 28 times with a girl called Catherine. Later enquiries reveal that "dancing" means holding hands and jumping up and down on the spot.

Well, this is all very unsettling stuff.  But I am pleased to report Boy 1 is back to normal today.

Here is me trying to be all Homes and Gardens with an little blue and white arrangement in the living room.



And here is Boy 1 with his own decorating finishing touches: an improvised pingpong table with a net built with cereal packets.  If you overcook your return of service, Mummy's ornaments are toast.


Maybe if I play pingpong with him again tomorrow, he will tell me more about the Big Book of Sex...