Birthday – Week 23 of the 52 week short story challenge

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I can remember every moment of your birth-day – and that of your younger brother who was considerably bigger than you but slipped out with an ease and speed that caught the midwife on the hop. More of him another time.

Before you were born I had two miscarriages. I wasn’t sure if I could carry a pregnancy to full term; if I would ever know what it felt like to hold my child in my arms, to watch him or her grow into an independent person.

So when we got to the thirteen-week scan and could see your little heart beating, your Dad and I (and your Grandma) finally dared to hope that our dreams might come true. They didn’t do scan pictures in those days but your Dad had come prepared and was allowed to take photos of the screen.

We christened you Parsley. After Parsley the Lion, a character in one of our favourite children’s programmes – The Herbs. It wasn’t until the twenty-week scan that we found out that you were a boy and you became Robin. Robin Goodfellow. Robin the Hooded Man. His friends are more than fond of Robin. All our hopes and joys were invested in you.

This pregnancy was different.  All the symptoms that had been missing in the previous two pregnancies were there; the nausea, going off certain foods, craving other foods – especially cod in cheese sauce and crunchy cornflakes with strawberries.

You don’t like fish.

We went to National Childbirth Trust antenatal classes. All first-time parents, all nervous and full of questions – except for the immaculate health visitor with the designer bump and gorgeous husband who was planning a water birth at home. She knew it all – and she made sure that we knew that she knew it all.

Fast forward to the day before your birth-day. Things felt different. I started fussing and nest building. The labour bag was packed and unpacked a dozen times and when my waters broke – luckily after we had been shopping at Sainsburys and put it all away – we phoned the hospital and were told to come on in.

You were in no rush though. Your Dad and I spent most of the following morning trudging round endless hospital corridors in an effort to get labour started. It was more diverting than lying on a hospital bed and feeling uncomfortable. The words of our antenatal teacher rang in my ears. ‘Keep upright as much as you can and let gravity do the work for you.’

The nurses on the ward would have preferred me flat on my back and well-behaved because they kept losing me.

Our consultant – who bore a striking resemblance to Maggie Smith – turned up at half-past two in the afternoon and although she smiled, we could see that she was slightly disappointed that you weren’t likely to make an appearance before she clocked off for the day.

We went into the labour ward around six o’clock that night. You were on the way. I tried to remember all the things our teacher taught us. Then I got told off. I was doing the empowering grunting thing. ‘Don’t waste your energy screaming – grunt and push.’

The midwife told me I was frightening the other mummies with my Neanderthal noises. I ignored her and carried on. Gas and air made me bold. Your Dad grinned and got the odd whiff of gas and air.

You gave us a bit of a fright when you finally emerged at half-past seven (in time for Coronation Street according to Grandma). Your APGAR score was low because you had managed to wrap the umbilical cord around your neck – not once, nor twice but three times. Liberated and unwound, you pinked up nicely and let out a yell. The midwife let go of the end of the cord and – according to your Dad because I was out of it by then- it flick-flacked around and sprayed the ceiling. Tennessee Chainsaw Massacre apparently.

Your Dad had you to himself for the first hour of your life. The midwives weren’t happy that all the placenta had come away so I had to go to theatre and have a ‘scrape’ under general anaesthetic. By the time I came around  I was back on the ward with you and your very proud Dad.

I never drink full fat milk and I’m not enamoured of egg sandwiches but these were offered to me and nothing ever tasted so good.
Your Dad went home to bed and I tried to sleep. You were in a cot beside me and I kept one hand on your head all night to make sure you were real and no one could take you away.

We had to stay in hospital for three days; I had stitches and you were jaundiced. It was torture because we lived so close to the hospital that I could see our house. Every night your Dad stood out in the garden and shone a torch so I could see he was thinking of us. I knew that.

We escaped on the fourth day and I can remember lying on our bed at home, feeding you and devouring Kentucky Fried Chicken. We were told to get you out in the sunshine to get rid of your jaundice.

You got sunburn – the yellow turned to pink and your ~Dad went out to buy a sunshade.

We didn’t do too bad for new parents; we only forgot you once. I’d strapped you into your car seat and left you at the top of the stairs for your Dad to bring down and put in the car. It wasn’t until he started the car that I realised something was missing. You slept through the whole thing so I don’t think you were mentally scarred.

Our theme song was ‘Kooks’ by David Bowie. You came to live in a lovers’ story. We hope you haven’t been sorry.

The antenatal class met up again six weeks after you were born. We shared our birth stories and showed off our babies. We tried not to look smug when the golden couple turned up with their screaming baby (and not very pretty). The water birth at home had to be abandoned and she was rushed into hospital for an emergency C-section. All that expense! Unlike her baby, the mother was very quiet during our catch up session. She looked rather unkempt and her husband’s tee-shirt had sick marks on the shoulder – just like the rest of us now.

So the birthdays came and the birthdays went. You were a left-hander and you skipped to school because you loved it so much. A prodigious reader;I had to buy two copies of each Harry Potter book when they came out because you didn’t want to wait till I had finished it. I always finished first but you said this was because I didn’t have to go to school and lose valuable reading time.

Senior school followed primary school, and we were told that you were officially a National Gifted and Talented Youth.  You made your own path – avoiding games and PE as much as possible  – but you were a very strong swimmer which made up for it. When everyone else was wearing an extremely short school tie, yours was a more respectable  – and acceptable – level because you didn’t care about such things.

You had your group of friends and parents’ evenings were embarrassingly wonderful for all of us. Dad helped you with your German and I dredged the depths of my mind for my GCE French. The maths and sciences were beyond me.

You aced your GCSEs and went onto college to do your ‘A’ levels. I panicked when we didn’t get a call from you after you got your results. I had visions of you throwing yourself into a canal in despair because you hadn’t got A stars.

I shouldn’t have worried. You sauntered in and showed me your results. All A stars. What was the fuss about Mum?

University was a foregone conclusion. So was your first-class honours degree in Chemistry and now you are studying for a PhD with a long title that I can never remember. Something to do with amino acids.

You are a teacher. A mentor. A scientist. You also mix a mean cocktail and know how to have a good time. Your knowledge of politics astounds me and I value your advice (and your cocktails). You are a bit more of a dedicated follower of fashion since the school tie days.

We don’t see that much of you because you are a hundred miles away and have your own life to lead but you know that you have surpassed our expectations and that we are very, very proud of you.

Robin Goodfellow. Robin the Hoodied Man. His friends are still more than fond of Robin.

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2nd Person Perspective – Week 20 of the 52 week short story challenge

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This is for you. Leeroy, Ray, Chris, Nicky, Sarah, Kim and Mark.

In ten years of residential social work I came to know hundreds of children and young people.

The actual list is a very long one.

When I started work as a twenty-one year old volunteer in a small group children’s home, I was very naive.

I learned about bullying.

I learned that the abuse of children didn’t just occur within families.

I learned that whilst telling the truth was important to me, it wasn’t important to others who were older and in positions of power.

I met you Leeroy, and I won’t forget you. You were a small ginger-haired boy whose mother was too confused by her mental health issues to look after you. Plucked from your familiar but disorganised home and thrust into a huge, rambling house full of loud and angry children. You might just as well have had ‘victim’ printed on your forehead.

You bore the brunt of the fury of a family of six children. They aged from four to fourteen and had been taken into care due to their parents drug and alcohol dependencies and chaotic lifestyle. They were very protective of each other and had quickly learned to store up grievances to tell their parents when they visited every other Saturday afternoon.

Their parents were quite happy that their children were in care. They had no food or clothing bills to pay, no having to get up to take the children to school and no responsibility – which left them free to drink and party – provided that they were sober enough to turn up once a fortnight for the visit.

Although I was only a volunteer, I did my best to look out for you when I was in the house Leeroy.

I couldn’t be there all the time though, and I would often arrive to find you in tears having been set upon by your tormentors. I complained to the manager. He was too afraid of the family and their parents to do anything.

In the end I phoned your social worker and told her what was going on.

Of course there was no mention of the bullying in the log book – a work of total fiction.

Your social worker listened to me and a foster home was found for you, possibly because it was easier to move one small victim of bullying whose mother couldn’t fight for him, than to challenge the warped but effective dynamics of a family who had learned to manipulate the system so well.

You were eight years old then and you would be a grown man of forty-four now.

I never found out what had happened to you; I got a real job in another children’s home after three months of being a volunteer.

This job couldn’t have been more different. The home was modern; purpose-built to house up to sixteen boys and girls. The staff – including the officer-in-charge – were young and enthusiastic.

I was allocated two boys  – Ray and Chris – to ‘keywork’. You were rather scary Ray; coming up to your sixteenth birthday and about to move into the ‘Leaving Care’ programme which would see you moved into a bedsit and kitted out with the means to look after yourself. The material means that is. You were always very volatile Ray and whilst I learned quite quickly that you were also easily distracted, I found myself on the receiving end of your anger too many times. I tried to form some kind of a relationship with you but there had already been a family who rejected you and too many earnest key workers by the time we met, and there was a collective sigh of relief when we sent you off into the big bad world.

Oh but Chris, you couldn’t have been more different. You had started at senior school; a sweet-faced tubby boy who could have been another victim if it hadn’t been for a strong and united staff attitude toward bullying. Like Leeroy, you had a mother who couldn’t cope with life and you had been brought into care in order to relieve you of the responsibility of looking after her.

My job was to teach you how to play, to be less serious, to focus on your own needs and to leave others to deal with your mother’s demands.

Whilst Ray taught me about violence and aggression Chris, you reminded me that children in care need to be given the opportunity to be children. We had fun. We went to the Isle of Wight on the ferry, and spent the day on the beach watching the boats and eating sandwiches and ice cream. I introduced you to the library and to Roald Dahl.

I read ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ to you and your two roommates – into the early hours. You didn’t want me to stop and stayed awake whilst the other two were snoring. When I finished the book and left the room I found Ray and another older boy asleep in the corridor outside. They had been listening too.

You did well Chris; at school and in the foster home that we found you. We were never encouraged to keep in touch though, in case it prevented you settling into your new life.

It was one aspect of the job that I found hard.

Turn the time forward ten years; my husband and I are in an electrical store looking for our first CD player. My husband is talking to the manager – who looks a little familiar. Tall, slim and immaculately dressed.

Chris.

Chris who found it much easier to recognise me. Chris who is now the manager of this store, a husband and a father of a baby girl.

So proud of you Chris.

Completely humbled by the fact that you are so grateful to me for doing my job.

And you gave us a very good discount on the CD player.

Nicky, you were the never to be forgotten enigma. A strange boy who had come home from school one day to find that his mother had died, in front of the TV with an empty whisky bottle by her side.

One of the few real orphans I had ever looked after. You were quirky; you had suitcases of your mother’s clothes that you couldn’t be parted from. You were bright – too bright for some of the staff – and I had some of my most challenging moments with you.

Five sets of foster parents did their best to give you a home, and each time you came back to us, more angry and confused.

Officialdom shut the home down, together with several others, and one last set of foster parents had to be found for you. They were almost as quirky as you Nick, and they seemed to be dealing with your behaviour quite well.

I moved on with my life.

I qualified as a social worker and got promoted.

My new workplace was an observation and assessment centre – short-stay allegedly – and with education on the premises, and a secure unit.

Not long after I’d bumped into Chris in the electrical shop, you turned up at my new place of work.

A new admission they said. You might remember him from your previous place; his name is Nick. He is odd.

So you were sent to us because no one knew what to do with you. There were no other foster parents for you now that you were a six-foot seventeen-year old – who had an interest in hairdressing and whose personality had achieved full-blown camp. I found you delightful.

You were no easier to deal with; age and experience had given you to ability to wind up staff and other young people alike. You went through social workers like a dose of salts – especially the young and newly qualified who thought that they could make something of you.

Only you could do that.

You left us after a couple of months and moved into a boys’ residential home that specialised in settling those who were leaving care.

Years on, and the manager of that home is being prosecuted for abusing boys in his care. I would lay money on it that he didn’t try it on with you Nick.

I came across several Sarah’s over the years, but you were the most important Sarah to me.

Neither you nor Kim were easy to look after but then I always tended to have more empathy with the young people who presented a challenge.

Together with Kim, you came to my engagement party, and were extremely elegant in posh frocks and hats at my wedding. Friends and family were asking who you were and how I knew you both. I didn’t tell them you were looked-after children. You were far too composed and assured for that.

You had become friends.

I have no doubt that you sorted out life for yourselves.

Mark – you marked the end of the line for residential childcare for me.

You were so damaged at ten years old, that no end of therapy and one-to-one work could make a difference. We spent time together; we cooked, repaired an old rocking horse, went for long walks and I read bedtime stories to you but nothing I did could break through.

The other staff tried but found you impenetrable. Some of them blamed me because it was easier than admitting defeat.

I took a great many kicks and punches from you and one day it was all too much.

I was married to a man who loved me and hated seeing the split lips, the bruises, the black eyes.

It was time for a change – because I had to admit that I couldn’t help you – and because I had someone who cared about me too much to see me hurt myself anymore.

I’m sorry Mark.

I remember so many more of you from those ten years of working in children’s homes.

We laughed together; and we cried. We went to Butlins and giggled at the wrestling and the knobbly knees contests. We camped in the New Forest and got soaked, played Spotlight up at the Sports Centre and on one memorable occasion all sixteen children I had responsibility for absconded.

Ah, but fifteen of you came back before midnight, so we watched unsuitable TV and cooked fish and chips to celebrate.

From you, I learned how to deal with my own roaring boys.

How to let them know that they were loved – even if their behaviour was horrible.

I read them bedtime stories; we went to the beach, we camped out and got soaked.

My own roaring boys are in their twenties now and to me at least, seem to be quite well-balanced and confident.

So thank you; Leeroy, Chris, Ray, Nicky, Sarah, Kim, Mark – and all the others who touched my life.

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Bless my Kith and bless my Kindle(s) – Part 1

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Kith comes from the Old English  “knowledge; known, familiar country; acquaintances, friends.”

I love reading.

Anyone in my family could tell you how much I love reading.

Hub, Uni Boy and Gap Boy have all been known to make less than kind comments about the number of books in our house – to be fair to them my books have taken over the house somewhat.  There is no more room on the bookshelves and strategically placed book towers earned my humble home the title of Haemorrhoid House (full of piles – geddit?).

I have always loved reading and from an early age, could be seen with my nose stuck in a book, a magazine or newspaper, or even a cereal packet when all else failed.

The discovery at age eight years that I was very short-sighted meant that I could move further away from the printed page courtesy of my pale blue NHS spectacles and not spend so much time rubbing my weary eyes.

I read my way through the small local library; I moved from having two library tickets to four,  and finally to eight – the maximum number allotted to junior readers.  On wet and miserable days I  would often be found choosing the second set of eight books mid afternoon.

My brother unwittingly introduced me to the delights of Willard Price and his seemingly endless ‘Adventure’ series.  Very obviously aimed at boys, the exploits of Hal and Roger Hunt were sheer escapism for a girl from a council estate in the South of England, who had never ventured further than Bournemouth to the West or Hayling Island in the other direction.

Because Enid Blyton’s books were banned from the library, I had to use my pocket-money to buy paperback copies of ‘Malory Towers’ and ‘The Twins at St Clares’. Luckily, my best friend at primary school was also addicted to them. Her father was the principal at the local tech college, her pocket-money and her collection were both larger than mine, but as we were the only Blyton fans in our class, the financial disparity  between us didn’t seem to matter.

I don’t mean to imply that my classmates were reading more highbrow literature than us,  or that Lizzy and I were limited purely to the Blyton catalogue.  We had already read our way through Austen and Bronte to Zola – well maybe we skipped a few booka here and there – whilst our schoolmates were content with the colourful pages of Bunty and The Beano.

Because my mother insisted on good manners and speaking politely, as did Lizzy’s parents,  we were both considered ‘snobs’ by many of our peers.  Sometimes I would lapse into colloquialisms for the sake of a peaceful school day but the strain of having to remember where I was would often lead to a slip of the tongue  and my mother’s disapproving frown.

Mine and Lizzy’s prior knowledge of boarding schools was non-existent; we truly believed that we were deprived because we hadn’t been sent away to some marvellous educational establishment  near the sea where midnight feasts were the norm and lithe young women played lacrosse and rode horses.

It was this fantasy that led me to nagging my parents into letting me enter the exam for a place at a private senior school.  I dreamed that – although it wasn’t a boarding school – it might have the Blytonesque elements that appealed to me more than my current school. Perhaps my mother’s desire to move me away the glottal stops and dropped aitches of my peers played an important part in this too.

I passed the exam and was kitted out in a uniform which included a pale blue polo shirt and navy culottes for games. The whole uniform had to be ordered from a particular store and was very expensive but just like St Clares, we wore felt bowlers in the winter and straw boaters in the summer. I didn’t stop to think how my parents were going to afford all this additional expense or the fact that the school was two bus rides away from our home.

The school lunches were wonderful.

I liked the art teacher.

I got very sick on the bus journeys.

The snobbery I encountered from my new schoolmates confused and confounded me.

I cried.

I cried a lot.

How could I have gone from being a ‘snob’ at one school because I read books and spoke politely, to being ‘common’ because I came from a council estate and my mother sewed blue braid onto a cheap black blazer instead of paying out for one that cost five times as much?

I missed Lizzy too.

After six weeks of endless crying and travel sickness, it was decided that I should leave.the school for the sake of my health, and go back into local authority education.  I didn’t want to go back to my old school; Lizzy had left and so had my favourite teacher. I felt embarrassed and unable to admit that I had made the wrong choice.  My mother got me into another school but my final year of primary education was not a happy one.

Like a small but very hungry bookworm, my thirst for knowledge and escapism knew no bounds – until I got into my teens and discovered other forms of entertainment. Even then I found time to read and the travel sickness disappeared almost magical once I went to senior school – which was just as well as my next school was on the other side of town too.

The long bus journeys  provided the ideal environment for uninterrupted reading; my satchel usually contained more lightweight material than the books that the school syllabus recommended.

In my early teens, romantic and vaguely historical paperbacks were my daily diet. The prolific Barbara Cartland fuelled my adolescent dreams; I knew that they were trashy, formulaic and only a teeny step up from Mills and Boon, but I could lose myself in them in much the same way that the stories of Darrell and the Twins had done when I was younger.

Real romance pushed fiction into the background and my mother’s influence and encouragement caused the rebel in me to emerge like a stroppy butterfly from my awkward teenaged chrysalis.

I carried ‘The Little Red School Book’ in my satchel together with contraband copies of ‘Oz’ and ‘Fat Freddy’s Cat’. It was only my ability to hand homework in on time and the kindness of a teacher who understood that this was just my anarchistic phase, that kept me from expulsion.

She sent me off to drama classes at the local tech as an outlet for my histrionics, she encouraged me to work my way through Shakespeare, and thereby diverted me from being the naughtiest girl in the school. I fell in love with the poems of Robert Frost. Thank you Mrs Skett.

I even took my English Language ‘O’ level a year early – and passed well.

Lizzy’s father left the tech college the same year that I started there in order to take my ‘A’ levels. I hope it was a coincidence. New literary doors opened up for me; Thomas Hardy, James Joyce and Chaucer’s very naughty Wife of Bath. Ibsen, more Shakespeare and the discovery that I had a strange talent for writing rhyming couplets – not always printable!

I continued to read anything and everything I could lay my hands on and stuff into my bottomless student bag. I had left the satchel – stuffed with half-empty rough books covered in doodles – in the waste paper bin when I left school on 13th May 1975. I wish I’d kept it now – it was a good satchel and I could probably sold it for a small fortune on eBay.

There have been times in my life when reading has been the only available option; the late stages of pregnancy, illness, accidents, waiting rooms and green rooms, my bed, my sofa, someone else’s bed or sofa. I worked my way through crime novels when I was pregnant and had a Harry Potter reading competition with Uni Boy as each new book was released. My consumption of autobiographies reached epic proportions, crossed referenced with more salacious gossip from the glossy magazines, and latterly the Internet.

Although I can recall my childhood memories with great clarity ,together with  audition pieces and poetry, social care legislation and adult protection policies, I also have the facility to forget the endings of my favourite books, so that I have shelves of novels that I can read and enjoy all over again.

That doesn’t stop me buying new books however.

My set of Terry Pratchett novels is much cherished, together with several books by Maureen Lipman.

Nor does it prevent me from browsing through musty second-hand bookshops for dog-eared tomes, their margins covered with some other student’s scrawl.

The men in my house have put their collective feet down regarding my library.  Every now and then I am subjected to a book cull; a box is packed up and taken off to my favourite musty bookshop. I stay in the car for fear of going in and buying more books than I have contributed. If I dare to object, Hub very gently reminds me that there are three large boxes of books in the garage that have been sitting there since we moved into the house sixteen and a half years ago.

The men in my house thought that they had found a solution.

They bought me a Kindle.

More of that in part 2……..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Christmas is only eight months away’

 
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The work top is an essential part of any kitchen.

My new kitchen work top is black with sexy coloured glittery bits in it. I can have Christmas all year round in my new kitchen especially when the pretty blue lights under the units and near the floor are on.

I have had two phone calls and three letters reminding me that my new kitchen is being delivered next week, to blow up the blue balloon and tie to my gate (the party will be later) and make sure there is a space 2m x 3m to store the stuff in until my builder is ready for it.

We are SO ready for the new kitchen.

We know that we will be eating takeaway off paper plates for a couple of weeks and that personal hygiene and clean clothes may fall by the wayside when the water is off.

We have broken the news to Gap Boy that he may find himself separated from the PC when the power is off – Minecraft battles may have to wait.

Uni Boy and Bezzie Mate are staying away until the new kitchen has been installed.

Scoobs may spend the next couple of weeks wuffing and whining at the strange men who will be demolishing part of the house and rebuilding it again (I hope).

This afternoon I got a call from a six year old (well maybe ten – okay then a sixteen year old ) work experience girl who had issues with her fs and ths.
There ‘as bin a nerror at Haitch Q apparently. My kitchen has been ordered – bu’ sum1 forgot tuh order yer worktop. Sumfing muzt ‘ave gonn wrong sumwheh – dunno wot ‘ appened, or oo didit but it woz sum1 ‘ere – not sum1 at the shop.
Enough of the junior jargon – they are going to supply us with a temporary work top until my sexy work top arrives, then my builder will be coming back to take out the temporary one and fit the new one.

At no cost to us.

Well, that’s a relief then!

Today we have been mostly clearing out the Krappy Kitchen.

Hub and I are dirty and dusty, and now I am disheartened too.

GB has thudded down from his bedroom every now and then to bark at the dog (who is wuffing a lot because he feels insecure), snarl at me and Hub and tell us what a lousy job we are doing.

Go on then GB – set us a good example to follow – thought not.

His one contribution to Operation Chuck It Out so far has been to take his clothes mountain out of the bathroom and dump it on his bed so that we could swap over some bookcases and books (our upstairs bathroom is a very dusty but literary place).

I really should not have chosen basic black to wear when sorting  out dusty but much-loved books.

On the plus side, I have found many favourites that I thought I’d lost – and have now purchased and installed on one of my Kindles – I can’t throw books away though and the charidee box looks rather sparse.

I was given a medicinal sherry to cheer me up after the phone call – I had to hand the charmless teen over to Hub before I said something extremely rude to her.

Spit that gum out!  Spit it out NOW!

It wasn’t so much the news that she was imparting; it was the lethargic ‘so what’ manner with which she delivered it.

I could almost see her examining her cuticles with disinterest as she dropped the bombshell on me.  I wonder if they drew lots in the office as to which of them should break the news of their incompetence to Mrs Angry?

Who the hell orders a kitchen and forgets to order the work top?

Doh.

Easter is over but I am still one Hot, Cross Bunny.

Fingers crossed that I have my kitchen for Christmas – only eight months to go.

Milk and Alcohol – but not this morning

It is Sunday and the sun is actually shining.  Hub and I have most of today off together – he’s on a night shift tonight – and the boys are most definitely out for the count.  Time for the To Do list.

Get up – done that.

Check on Uni Boy  – out on the razz with his mates last night.  His bedroom door is firmly closed this morning and the outside light has been turned off – I assume that he came home in one piece then.

Breakfast – ran out of milk last night so no whiskey porridge this morning then. Fruit juice, toast and Marmite, and a banana.  Ate that.

Wake Lovely Hub  – and examine those bruises.  I had to take photos of them last night to send to his paintball mate – who is responsible for two of the bruises.  I think Hub got his own back though. Had to take another one this morning because it’s developed a wonderful range of colours – and put it on Facebook for him – does this count as a wifely duty?

Put last night’s wet towel in the wash – it was forgotten in all the excitement of taking the photographs.  We’re down to two in the downstairs bathroom having thrown one away last night because it was no longer effective and I remembered exactly how many years ago I bought it.

Tidy up College Boy’s detritus in the kitchen – he was getting up just as we were going to bed last night.  There is evidence that he ate the kebab we bought for him.  He’s not very good at throwing empty things away; I often find empty fruit juice cartons replaced in the fridge or a tub of butter that isn’t any more.  This morning it is just an empty carrier bag, the stiff white paper that wraps up takeaway food and a few stray shreds of lettuce.  Doesn’t go well with toast – in the bin.

Shower – well I will when I’ve finished this – and I’ll remember to do something with the towel when I’m done.  Must remind Hub about hanging up the new blind that we bought over two weeks ago to replace the current one that has two settings – up or down.  Still he put the toilet seat back on its hinges again so it doesn’t fall down unexpectedly.  Not an issue for females but decidedly unsafe for bleary-eyed boys.

Get dressed – by this time Hub will have finished his breakfast and we can escape the house for a while – oh the joys of Sunday morning food shopping!  But we have hungry teenagers with expensive and fluctuating tastes who makes us feel guilty (Uni Boy) or just whinge (College Boy) if the right food isn’t in the house when they want it.  Must buy some new towels while we’re up there.   Don’t need flowers at the moment because Lovely Hub bought up Tesco’s stock of freesias and the house smells gorgeous.  Why is it that Tesco is the only place I can find freesias?

Lunch  – by the time we get back and unpack everything we will both be starving.  Highly unlikely that either son will be awake or offer to help if they are.  College Boy will lurch down in tee-shirt and boxers demanding food.  Uni Boy will emerge at some stage with his dressing grown elegantly draped around him to inform us that he’s having a shower and don’t use the water – please.  Ooh – scrap that.  He has just popped his head round the door to announce that the sun had the temerity to wake him up and he’s starving because he hasn’t had anything to eat since yesterday lunchtime – no wonder he’s so skinny.  Advised that his Dad will be coming down to get breakfast shortly so he only has a short window of opportunity in our tiny and hideously impractical kitchen, he smiles beautifically and says he’ll only be using the oven.  Yeurgh!  Oven-cooked food and it isn’t even ten o’clock yet.  Apparently he and his chums don’t eat whilst out boozing because the food is too expensive, its grim and it ruins the effect of the alcohol.  Should I be worried? Well – he is a scientist after all so he knows all about cause and effect..

Clear out the office – we were supposed to be devoting the whole day to this but due to my talent for procrastination we’ve ended up with an afternoon.  the office is our spare bedroom upstairs.  It houses my PC and the work laptop and it’s usually where I write and do my duty shifts.  I go in there to wake up and check my emails, Twitter and Facebook in the morning, or if I want to escape from noisy boys.  It is my oasis but it is a very cluttered and dusty oasis at the moment.  After our spectacular team work at clearing out my Dad’s bungalow, Hub and I decided that we should work our magic on the office.  The realisation that there are several defunct pieces of computer hardware hanging around in there, a pile of objects and books that were dumped there temporarily over a month ago when College Boy had his party, and – deep shame – files of notes from my first degree – which I took in 1988 – the year we got married.  There really can’t be anything social-work related in those files that is still relevant today can there?  Probably.  Anyway, there are two huge bookcases in the room that are not housing the books that lie around our house in disordered heaps.  I have two Kindles now – one for audio and one for reading but I still can’t resist the smell and feel of a real book.  I know that we will both feel better when we’ve cleared out the office but the prospect is lying over both of us like a big dark cloud.

Take stuff to the tip – provided it’s still open when we finish – otherwise it can go in the garage till tomorrow when Hub wakes up from his night shift.

Dinner – left over takeaway from yesterday – yay!  For Hub and I at least – we have been known to make a takeaway last for three days (I did last weekend) whereas the boys demolish all in front of them leaving only scraps and dribbles behind.

Ironing – this will be accomplished during ‘Wallander’.  I find that the dreary greyness is a suitable backdrop to ironing.  To be fair my ironing pile has diminished considerably since Uni Boy learnt how to iron and decided that my ironing didn’t meet his meticulous standards (Yay!)  College Boy’s clothes spend most of their time in heaps either on or under the bed (we bought him a double when we redid his room a couple of years ago – he has a small area to sleep in now) so there won’t be many of them to iron.  I like Wallander a great deal – although I wish they’d put the lights on occasionally.  I don’t actually mind ironing either provided I have something decent to watch on TV.  I sit on the sofa, ironing board now cleared of OU books and at its lowest setting, unironed clothes in a pile on one side and laundry crates ready to be filled on the other.  The fan is on, both uplighters are on so I can see what I’m doing, I have the remotes, my mobile and the house phone by my side and something to drink – thirsty work this ironing stuff – wonder if Uni Boy would make me a cocktail – or two?)  Once all this is accomplished I am perfectly content.

Hub to work – so I’ll have to remember how Wallander ends so that I can tell him when he calls me at eleven o’clock to say goodnight.

Remember to go to bed – I have a tendency to lose track of time when Hub is on a night shift and this isn’t helped by my nocturnal boys – who having slept on and off all day today will be full of beans when I am flagging.  I have book-related things to do tonight and stuff to get ready for work tomorrow.  We have a new colleague starting and I have to be in early to blow up some balloons – I made a banner before I left on Friday. Life is about beginnings and endings – we have to do them properly.

Tomorrow  – I will be up at six to prepare my whiskey-infused porridge – Hub has just returned form the local shop with the milk.