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Thursday, 30 September 2010

Sayings of The Girl part 234

The Girl is spectacularly messy, which I try not to make a fuss about but I am beginning to insist she picks up after herself. It’s like pulling teeth. Yesterday she constructed a shanty town in the living room – consisting of huge piles of cardboard boxes and cushions. It wouldn’t matter so much except that she and I are currently staying in Broadstairs so I can keep an eye on dad. The house is small so I seem to spend most of my time picking stuff up off the floor.
After I admired the town I demanded she tidied up the living room floor. She sighed and said, ‘Do I have to?’ ‘Yes’ I said firmly and came back to check a little later to discover she’d done absolutely nothing. It would have been easier to pick it up myself but as we all know this starts a pattern and ends up with you asking your hulking teen to empty the dishwasher, only to be greeted with a shocked stare as though you’ve just ordered said teen to run naked down the High Street.
‘You’re so messy!’ I snapped helplessly at The Girl. She considered this. ‘Moles are messier.’
Moles? How did moles come into this?
‘Moles can’t see very well. So they never remember where they put stuff so their houses must be in a terrible mess.’
You can’t argue with logic.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Making a Meal of It

Yesterday afternoon I heard shouting, swearing and crashing noises in the kitchen. Was Gordon Ramsay cooking for the Queen? Or Marco Pierre White gutting squid for a state dinner? No – it was The Boy making lunch: pasta with tomato sauce.

I found him in the kitchen, crashing about, ten saucepans littering the work surfaces, moaning and clutching his head. ‘What happened?’

‘I banged my head on the saucepan and slipped on an onion.’

It was difficult to see how he’d banged his head on a saucepan since they’re kept in cupboards at knee height. At my confused look he explained sheepishly that in frustration he had hit himself over the head with a saucepan. Ah right. ‘I’m trying to make tomato sauce’ he grumbled.

I suggested a can of tomatoes would be a good idea. He put on the pasta. He heated the tomatoes. Then he decided he’d give the onions another go and chopped them into large lumps. After a few seconds he started crying and swearing. ‘My eyes are watering and the lumps are too big. Why didn’t you tell me to fry the onions first!’

‘You didn’t ask’ I said tightly. He got out another saucepan and I showed him how to fry onions. I could hear Husband’s voice saying: ‘Don’t bloody do it for him.’ I ignored it – he was in a nice clean office with grown-ups and not a tantrummy teenager. ‘Do I have to keep stirring it?’ The Boy huffed. Then he decided to add some garlic and spent a good fifteen minutes trying to peel it but his nails weren’t long enough or something. Meanwhile the pasta was overcooked and clinging to the bottom of the saucepan like those rubber bands in massive bundles, collected by thrifty types. I snatched the garlic, pulled off the skin and showed him how to chop it.

‘Euggh! Now my fingers smell of garlic!’

Christ – this was turning into some Japanese endurance test. Taking a deep breath I told him to tip the garlic into the onions, stir and cook for five minutes, and then add it all to the tomato mixture, taste it and add salt and pepper.

‘Stop stop – you’re going too fast for me!’

Finally he tipped the tomato pasta mess into a dish. I was going to suggest he grated some Parmesan over it but was worried his brain might explode. How does he manage to get his trousers on in the morning?

Monday, 6 September 2010

The Funeral

Twas the night before the funeral and all through the house
Relatives huddled to drink and to grouse
The suits and the dresses were hung up that night
While sis and I grumbled our hair looked like shite.

Yes - the night before the funeral, was a bit like a surreal version of Christmas – mum and dad’s small house heaving with relatives and children. Irish uncles were plonked in the living room exchanging ribald stories about ‘this feckin’ idiot’ and ‘she became a nun’ all fuelled by copious amounts of whisky. ‘They all look like Father Ted’ said Husband in wonder. The Boy looked like he’d been put through a car wash he was so fluffy and clean. 'Dad won’t let me wear his pants' he grumbled. The Girl was bathed and pj’d and she too was moaning that 'daddy brushed my hair TWICE.' Normally her hair looks as though she’s been brawling with a giant hedgehog.
The following morning sis and I rushed back from the hairdresser r (‘Going anywhere nice? To a funeral.’ SILENCE), the black car arrived and we all piled in to collect mum from the undertaker. Then dad panicked about not having flowers for mum’s coffin. I thought about a similar situation on my wedding day. I’d paid £15 for each corsage and within five minutes dad managed to sit on his. So on the way to the Registry Office dad rushed into a florist and had a rose plus a bit of greenery pinned to his suit – all for a fiver. Mum pursed her lips and contented herself with rolling her eyes and muttering ‘eejit’ under her breath. Now I was watching dad choosing roses for his wife’s coffin.
At the crematorium everyone was waiting. I saw my dearest friend who’d schlepped down from London, and took her hand to come in with the family. The service was short – I read a eulogy to mum and then sat down shakily. The Girl was weeping silently and I cuddled her and fussed with a tissue. ‘I’m crying like a grownup mummy’ she explained. ‘So water comes out of my eyes but I don’t make lots of noise.’ Then the blue curtains whisked shut and mum’s coffin slid silently into the crematorium. We were ushered outside to look at the flowers, and then my sister and I had to receive a line of guests. I started to feel seriously sorry for the Queen – what do you say? My level of conversation was reduced to: 'Are you coming to the wake? Yes it is a shame' and 'Who are you exactly?'
I had to shake slippery hands with several ageing representatives of the Legion of Mary. One elderly lady gripped my hand and said: 'I hope she’s in heaven before the devil knows she’s dead.' Er – me too. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw The Boy playing with The Girl who was telling everyone: ‘I have a granny but she’s dead.’
On we rolled to the wake where everyone was starving. I sat next to my motor mouth Auntie V. Kind, but obsessed with gossip and dieting, she started on me at once. ‘Do you have a diet sheet? I’m trying to get my daughter on one – she’s the size of a feckin house.’ I explained that I didn’t have a diet sheet and wondered how I could tell her politely that she was probably projecting her own body issues onto her daughter. Realised I couldn’t. And that I didn’t care. So I went and ate three sausage rolls instead. Auntie V looked at me with the amazement of someone who has always regarded food as though it were a pipe bomb.
I’m wearing mum’s pearl bracelet and one day I’ll pass it on to the Girl. Dad is surrounded by friends who have promised to keep an eye on him. Life goes on. But I’m still waiting for something to hit me.