Sunday, November 30, 2014

The toilet seat's in the sink

On Friday evening at about 10.10 the phone rang. I am old enough to dread late night (late for me) phone calls so I answered it tentatively. It was Elder Son.
'Oh hello.'
'My train gets in at 11.20.'
'... what?'
'Did you get my message?'
'Oh right, well, the train gets in at 11.20.'
'... tomorrow morning? Or tomorrow evening?'

Elder Son had asked earlier in the week if there'd be a bed for him if he came down (he was going to the rugby in Cardiff on Saturday with friends) and I'd replied yes but hadn't heard from him so assumed he was staying in Cardiff. I really should learn not to make assumptions where my children are concerned. 

Husband had already gone to bed while I'd stayed up late (10.00 pm) to watch Not Going Out so I tiptoed upstairs to tell him. 
'Does he want us to pick him up?'
'I said I would.'
'Do you want me to?'
'No, it's all right; I'll do it.'
'Are you sure?'
'Yes,' I shrugged nobly. So he turned over and went to sleep. And I went back downstairs muttering to myself, 'He was supposed to insist.'

Not the best game of rugby (Wales v South Africa) but finally the right result. And Husband volunteered to pick him up when Elder Son rang later in the evening to say he was on the train back to Swansea. (after being put right by me, 'You should have insisted,' and by Younger Son's shock, 'You didn't let Mum go to the station on her own at that time of night, did you?')

This morning it was back to the station again for Husband and Elder Son and then home to continue to prepare for the arrival of Daughter and family and the start of their live-in. Husband's main job was to repair the sparkly downstairs toilet seat. This involved taking it apart and scrubbing it - in my washing-up bowl.

Elder Son remarked that daughter-in-law would have had a fit if he'd done that at home. I shrugged again. I have become immune both to Husband's actions and germs.

But I will buy a new washing-up bowl. Today.

Friday, November 21, 2014

The trouble with lies

I grew up believing my parents were married but separated and that my father worked in India. At some point, quite late on, my early teens I think, my mother told me in a roundabout way that, in fact, she had never been married. I was a naive child and had never thought to question the things I was told, a situation that I suspect today's children would find hard to believe.

Discovering that lie, which had been the basis of my life up till then, threw everything into doubt. The Indian doll allegedly from my father, the £5 note my mother said my father had sent for me when I passed my 11+, how could I see them as anything but fabrication put into place to help maintain the story?

But now I wonder.

Husband's family history research has shown that my father did indeed spend time in India so it is possible he brought home a doll for me. And he might have sent me a reward for my first academic success: he was a barrister after all; maybe he thought I had inherited his brains.

He might actually have thought about me once or twice in his lifetime, not as a nuisance that shouldn't have happened but as a child of his. Not enough to want to meet me but maybe a little more than one of his neatly filed and finished-with legal cases. I'll never know. He, my mother and my grandparents, the only people who could have told me, are dead.

That's the trouble with lies: they undermine truth.

Good and bad service

Today I returned a £9 t-shirt to Sainsburys. As I didn't have the receipt I couldn't have my money back but had to exchange it. In its place I bought a £22 jumper.

Then, when I'd finished shopping I discovered that 'my 'branded shop today was £10.74 cheaper than Asda,' meaning I'd saved £10.74, which when added to the original £9 almost makes £22. Which means, if I'd bought and saved just a little bit more, I could have had my jumper for nothing.

That is what it means, isn't it?

Sainsburys is, like most reputable shops, good when it comes to exchanging items. Not so The Range as I discovered when I tried to swap a curtain track that was too short for a longer one.
'Do you have the receipt?'
'No, I'm afraid I couldn't find it.'
'Then you can't exchange it.'
'But I only want to exchange it for a longer one. I'll pay the difference.'
'Without the receipt you can't.'

The only way I could make the exchange was if I took in a copy of my bank statement proving my purchase. For goodness sake! 

I got home and penned an angry email to The Range. That was last Friday and I've not had a reply from them.

Then I found the receipt.

Once again I drove across town and presented the curtain track and receipt to Customer Services at The Range. 
'I'd like to return this, please.'
'Is there anything wrong with it?'

I had a full refund and I will go elsewhere to buy a replacement track. And I will write another email to the Head Office telling them I won't be using their shop again.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A celebratory day!

Yesterday morning Husband said, 'As it's your birthday I'll put on some deodorant.' What more could a girl ask for?

Anyway I had a lovely day. The rain kept off long enough for us to enjoy a walk - and the odd jump - on the beach and then Husband cooked me a super dinner. I received lots of cards and lovely presents - including 4 boxes of Maltesers - and Younger Son and Nuora made me a Malteser and chocolate finger cake.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

On being a single mother (for a week)

One of the women in Zac's went into labour in the early hours of last Monday (3rd). I'd agreed to go and look after her 18-month-old while she was in hospital so at 2.30 am - when Husband had finally heard the phone ringing and woken me - off I trotted. I thought I'd be there 24 hours, 48 at the most. I came home yesterday evening - 8 days later.

I'd forgotten how wearing it is to have a constant shadow especially when that shadow didn't like to go to bed in the evening until past my bed-time. But even worse than caring for a toddler was coping with a coal fire. My granny, who kept our home fire burning until she was in her 80s,  would have been ashamed of me. I'm afraid my language deteriorated slightly. I fear Toddler's first word may be 'crap', in which case I shall deny all knowledge. 

It is pleasing to know that, though I may have let down my granny, Great-auntie Vi, who could swear like a trooper, would have been proud of me.

With no internet access and mobile reception intermittent at best and seeming to depend on which way the wind was blowing I felt cut off and in danger of being swallowed up by the world of Mr Bloom, Mr Tumble, Mike the Knight and the inhabitants of 64 Zoo Lane.

Over on Facebook I listed a number of firsts for this last week; the list included burning my finger with a cigarette lighter. I hope that is now explained. Next on the list was being chased by a gang of swans, geese, ducks, seagulls and coots. It had seemed a good idea to take Toddler and the old bread to feed the birds on a nearby lake. How was I to know they would surround me and try to take the bread out of my hands? No amount of squeaking or saying, 'Shoo! Shoo!' while backing away deterred them so I ended up flinging slices of bread in the air and running. (By the way, Toddler was parked in his pushchair at a safe distance away in case anyone from Social Services is reading this.) 
Next came shopping at Lidl. It seemed appropriate, given that I was living on the east side, to pay a visit to the supersaver store. I managed to resist the cheap Belgian seashell choccies but gave in to the freshly-baked Tiger loaf, which was delicious.

Taking Toddler back and for to hospital (on the west side of town) to see his mum gave me plenty of opportunity to call into home for an occasional shower and brief respite when Husband took Toddler out in the pushchair. I could not have survived this week without Husband who is a truly wonderful and generous man. I'm also very grateful to Wendy and Vincent who stopped by on Saturday evening to give me a break.

On my forays home I usually remembered to pick up clean underwear but, at the end, had to wear the same knickers for two days. Shudder. I thought about taking Toddler to playgroup but couldn't face it knowing I was wearing old knickers. 

That was the final thing on my list but I should have added 'driven around with a banana on the roof of the car.' 

And as for being a single mum, especially those without family support, well, I don't know how they do it. 

I had a car, which at least allowed me to get around but, and here I'm going into rant mode, the number of parent and child parking spaces is woefully inadequate. Without wishing to sound disablist, if you're disabled there are plenty of reserved parking spaces everywhere and I'm sure there are more parent and children than disabled. In the whole of the hospital car park - the inadequacy of which is another rant in itself - there are just three spaces for parent and child parking. If you've ever tried to get a baby in or out of a car parked in a normal space you'll know how hard it is. And I know they don't encourage child visitors in hospitals but there must be times when it's important or unavoidable. When I was sitting in the queue slowly moving around the full car park I saw three families struggle getting out of cars.

If I had any energy left I'd start a campaign.

And in the midst of all this Younger Son and Nuora came home from Malaysia (good) and Wales lost to Australia (bad).

Still now things should return to normalish as I only have to visit Mum and children most days for the next two weeks and that'll be a doddle!