Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Feeling Tetchy

I was catching up with the week’s news this morning and read something that caused me to snort with derision and inelegantly spit out my mouthful of tea. Richard Williamson, the Holocaust-denying Bishop at the centre of the recent wrangle at the heart of the Vatican (don’t you just love him already?) thinks that having ideas of their own causes women to get distracted. Sisters, banish those pesky thoughts that crowd your brain! You won’t be able to concentrate on preparing dinner otherwise. Yes, you blinked and missed a time lapse – it’s circa 1356, not 2009. Frankly, what distracts me is people spouting a load of old b*ll*cks, particularly when they dress it up as spiritual wisdom. I’m not suggesting that his abhorrent views on the Holocaust are any less worthy of choking over your cup of tea – far from it – but I was already aware of his stellar contributions to that debate. I shouldn’t have been surprised at his views on women – after all it’s not often that you hear some spouting anti-Semitism and then coming over all enlightened on other matters. I had a great business idea this morning, too – perhaps I should gratefully pass it on to my husband to deal with. Only no, I can’t, because he’s in Germany all week for work. How will I cope? Funnily enough I’ve been re-reading one of my favourite novels, The Edible Woman, this week; it’s so wittily subversive without ever becoming preachy or hectoring. Maybe I should send a copy to the Bishop.

The other bunch of people who’ve incurred my wrath lately – in a lesser, but still very irritating way - are celebs who are apparently persuaded that what the world needs is more of their spiritual insights, or, perhaps, more practical advice on how we can mange our drab little lives. I’m thinking of Gwyneth and her helpful website Goop, earnestly encouraging us to ‘nourish our inner aspect’, with lots of tips about ‘incredible’ therapies. The word incredible appears a lot in the book reviews, as well - example ‘Tolstoy’s incredible mind amazes me’. Bet he can rest easy in his grave now. I’m also thinking of those otherwise inoffensive people in the domestic sphere who are apparently persuaded that we need their very particular take on bringing up children, or stuffing a Christmas goose for 20 and making your children abandon that silly present opening, (you get the impression that presents are for the lower orders), in order to help you prepare the feast while singing carols in harmonies. I was really disappointed to walk into my local bookshop before Christmas and see that even the apparently sensible Sarah Raven had succumbed. Surely she doesn’t really need the money? Is fame really that corrupting, so that when your publisher/agent/whatever earnestly tells you that the public are gagging for more detail of your perfect domestic life, you actually nod your head seriously? Just tell us how to stuff the bloody goose. Of course, my argument totally collapses here, because I do actually buy this stuff, proving that there is of course a market for it, but then I immediately feel conned, so I’m basically conducting a ‘yeah but no but yeah but’ debate with myself. I do hereby promise, though, that when I become an A-lister (not sure on what basis, exactly, but I’m sure I can think something up), I won’t tell you all how to have the perfect family Christmas without even any staff to help you. Oh, but you’ll be missing out on so much …..

It’s probably just me; I’ve always hated bossiness and can spot it a mile off. Plenty of other people seem to love it; there are many women around in my neck of the woods who, recession or no recession, seem to spend huge amounts of time attending Aga cookery demonstrations, or interior design lectures, etc. I bumped into one of them last week in the chip shop of all places (well, it was Friday). She looked absolutely mortified to be caught out there. The joke was on me though – the chip shop man called me by my first name (how? I don’t remember telling him!), and then helpfully told me, in a ringing voice, that the off licence across the road was doing a great deal on two bottles for the price of one. Great – now I’m outed as a prominent local alcoholic, as well as being on first name terms with the proprietors of the local fast food places and a bad mother with poor nutritional standards.

Which brings me on to say – if you ever drink, and you have children, then stop. Right this minute. Otherwise you risk having a night like mine the other night; weaving my way slowly to bed, then waking at 3.00 am with a pounding head and the sinking realisation that the tooth fairy had gone out on the tiles, the hussy, and had forgotten to put a pound coin under youngest’s pillow. I staggered downstairs, freezing to death of course, only to find that while I had notes and coppers in my purse, there wasn’t a shiny gold coin anywhere. A quick rifle through my husband’s pockets and wallet didn’t bring any to light. I had the bright idea (there I go again, Bishop Richard) of raiding eldest’s money box (sadly not the first time this has happened). But instead of sensibly taking the money box downstairs, I decided to open it in his room, and naturally dropped it. It made an almighty crash, coins dropped everywhere, and the poor boy sat bolt upright in bed. I’ll have to start a savings account to pay for his therapy in years to come; he was slightly taken aback to find his mother breathing alcohol fumes over him and stealing his pocket money in the small hours.

33 comments:

pinkfairygran said...

Oh shame on you, stealing poor son's pocket money... now what would the Bish think of that I wonder... or the AGA-loutesses of your village. Added to the fast food business and the alcohol consumption you are doomed, bound for ostracisation, sending to Coventry. Lucky you... I just act like a reclusive madwoman, it has the same effect! Loved the blog, thanks for the read. Will be back!

ChrisH said...

Really, Suffolkmum, what are you like? Reeling across your children's room in the dead of night to fuel your offie and chippie habit?! Look forwards to the next episode!

Exmoorjane said...

This is just choice! Perfect gorgeous writing that had me nodding and laughing and then doing both at the same time!
I haven't even dared look at Bloop - I just know it would send my blood pressure soaring....
Yes, oh yes, to stupid celebrities - who are of course, not people but 'brands'. Mind you, would I chuck all principles to the wind if the cheque was large enough? Er, yes sireee, show we where to sign (though not sure anyone would want to see MY Christmas preparations).
And oh yes, oh yes (reprised) to tooth fairy issues. This forlorn character has become a bit of a joke in our house - she is either profligate (littering fivers with largesse - er, no coins in purse) or blithely forgetting altogether because she was out on a bender. YOu simply can't get the fairies nowadays.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Great post, SM.  Loved the idea of you pie-eyed whilst stealing from your son's money box - how naughty is that!!
Could this Bishop be the same cloth that featured on Sunday Morning (can't remember the name of the program). I just remember spitting out my tea also when he said how the Bible preaches that women should stay at home etc etc, blah blah blah. And he genuinely believed it should happen that way. Planet what?

CJ xx

muddyboots said...

l promise not to rant but l remember at my convent school the priest telling us mere girls that we were only put on the earth to be mothers **** l walked out *** oh gawd the tooth fairy, yes.

Cait O'Connor said...

Wonderful SM. From start to finish, & I am with you all the way.

Pondside said...

Been there - and there is no discernable scarring on son's psyche, so yours may be alright too.
Thanks for the laugh - I needed that. All you can do when faced with the craziness of people like this bishop is to laugh - and then fight back by speaking up.
This was a good one!

Faith said...

Oh that is so funny - God forbid, he'll find you at Easter next, in his room, with chocolate all round your mouth!

I've been to ONE aga demo and the chip shop lots of times!!!

pinkfairygran said...

Thanks for the comments on my Three R's blog.... a bit of self-publicising here, but I have another blog as well,and as mentioned in the common room, I blogged yesterday about travellers and a rather vociferous parrot!

LittleBrownDog said...

Chuckling at your tooth-fairy admission! At least you can console yourself that you're better than me - the "tooth fairy" once forgot to visit three consecutive nights AND had to raid the money box (but at least she left £2). Know all too well those chip-shop moments (still, I'd rather be on first-name terms with the man from the chippie than the doubtless pinched-nose, primped and powdered lady from the Aga demo. Hey, forget the stuffed goose and give 'em all battered savaloys next year.

bayou said...

Hello SM!
Luckily, I can now comment on blogs and will use it. I did enjoy reading your blogs whilst, I must confess, it is hard work for me, being not a native speaker. But I can agree on all of it and the comments: you have a fantastic writing style and I enjoy reading it! About this bishop denying that a holocaust has ever happened, I have to say that I was especially upset about the pope's reaction, rehabilitating him and afterwards pretending that he did not know what it was all about. Does he hide behind his senility now? But I was also confused to see plenty of comments in the German media (which I find good) and never heard anything on e. g. BBC, but then I could have missed it...(we don't have British newspapers over here).
I do hope, you stay in the flow of sharing your thoughts with us and I do hope it does not turn again into the "not able to read" phase which I am in for the time being.

KittyB said...

Sarah Raven - if I lived at Sissinghurst, I mean - SISSINGHURST! I would do no more than float around in a Laura Ashley dress and straw hat with a trug all day. No time for those perfect-life books. So - now I want to know, who lives at Perch Hill?
Tooth Fairy - yes, has been financially embarrassed in our house too lately. Had to visit neighbour in pyjamas to beg a £1 coin rather than out the Tooth Fairy as a bogus night-time breaker-and-enterer.

Milla said...

you drunken slapper, you. My but you've got feisty in your time away, SM, I do love a bit of rage. Great to see you back. And, as for Gwenny, I won't even start, but lead you gently to another prompt for snarling - an ancient TV prog I saw by mistake being Gary Rhodes' idea of Christmas entertaining. Let's just there were about 19 components in the STARTER. Nuff said.

Fennie said...

Lovely scene! From what I remember youngest (who is now the proud Mum) would have negotiated rates on that £1! She also managed to have very little money in actual cash but to squirrel her funds away in a variety of savings accounts. Needless to say she always won at Monopoly. Hoarding her funds, buying nothing except Old Kent Road, and then descending like a fury when everyone else was bankrupt to seize all their property and win the game!
But well done you even to remember the tooth fairy!

Pig in the Kitchen said...

oh dear, your life seems to have taken a nosedive into Trashville. chips, alcohol, innebriation and theft from a minor.

I'm not sure this is the family blog I once thought it was.

and maybe that bishop is right. if you were barefoot, pregnant and senseless at the kitchen sink, you would not have ruined your life in this way.

tsk.
Pigx

Maddie Grigg said...

Love it!

HER ON THE HILL said...

GOD, don't get me on the subject of celebrities - and I can't open the newspaper now because I get indigestion with the number of 'gurus' telling me how to live my perfect life. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!!!!!
And do I care how Whatsit spends his or her perfect Sunday? No. And it's all highly unbelievable anyway.
I'm going to have to check out Gooop now just to annoy myself and get all tetchy too!

Yep, Tooth Fairy often has a long holiday in our house. She then has to write a letter explaining her absence. Seems to work.

Love that final image, you drunken lush, you!!
xx

Frog in the Field said...

This is a great post, I love it.
I agree with all you say, I too was caught in the chip shop, but being a Frog of very little brain, I forgot my money...no problem Frog said the owner, drop it in next time...how embarressing !

Tattie Weasle said...

You had me laughing so loudly The Boy had to check in on me _ I dared not say why as he is overtly fond of his piggy bank and I hate to say it but I do raid when short of a bob or two - I hasten to add I do reimburse him!

Marianne said...

Thanks for the laugh SM. Having a bad day, so it was good to be taken out of myself by your tale of drunken child robbery. A short of Mother Christmas in reverse, after all, if they believe all that it's probably a relief to find it's only you at the bottom of the bed!

Woozle1967 said...

Am SO glad you are back blogging! You had me giggling in no time - visions of drunken mum ferreting on the floor for dropped coins, mumbling apologies, hair dishevelled (although I bet you were perfectly groomed!); swigging wine directly from the bottle (!) with chips hanging out of the corner of your mouth!!!!!! Wonderful.xx

Jude said...

Oh dear, nearly choked on my full fat greek yogurt,freshly picked orange and local honey, gosh, that sounds good doesn't it?? We all take our own daily chores for granted...I remember vividly, the angst of such adventures as you've just written about. I wonder if the children ever remember or do we just fill our memories with unadulterated guilt...
Thank you for visiting.
ps. I wish I could fill my blog with wonderful words like you and not so many photos.

elizabethm said...

I used to raid my children's piggybanks for visits to the chip shop. They were lovely piggy banks too, the proper ones from natwest where you collected all the piggies up to Sir Nathaniel. Bugger to get into.
I have had to not read the bishop news. I get too cross. I am pretending he has eloped with the holocaust denying historian.

Kitschen Pink said...

I thought being distracted was just part of the female condition. I am constantly distracted. I still get everything done though. Perhaps as a man, and a single man at that, he has no conception of what a woman can achieve when in full sail and juggling. It is our greatest strength that we can be distracted ...and carry on with what we were doing. t.x
(ps. last I heard fish was healthy...)

Rob Clack said...

Fantastic post! Wonderful! Stealing your son's pocket money and drunkenly dropping the moneybox!

btw I recommend a glass of water before bed. The alcohol (I'm sure you know) is a diuretic, so you pee more than you need to, then your hangover is worse because of dehydration. I keep a small bottle of water beside the bed.

Sally's Chateau said...

I have friends who are rather vague as to where the recession actually is and then others who are feeling it very badly, the former irritating me beyond belief. Do I want to look at Bloop and feel queasy ?

Preseli Mags said...

That really made me giggle! Such a brilliant post. I loved the bit in the fish and chip shop and the tooth fairy/money box debacle made me laugh too. (I haven't read The Edible Woman, but am going to rectify that ommission, if only for the sake of the fabulous title.)

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Jan said...

Good reading your posts always and hope more coming!

Exmoorjane said...

Just seen your comment on Elizabeth's blog - you simply HAVE to go to Blackden. I still have shivers running down my spine about it. To meet Alan Garner and see the place in which he wrote all those magical books was one of the absolute high spots of my life. Griselda is a force of energy too and a quite incredible woman. You'd love them both.

tim relf said...

Great tooth fairy story.
I once remember, as a child, Santa being a little tipsy (OK, let's be honest here, totally blotto).
I look back v fondly now on the drunk Mr Claus - so don't fret too much, I doubt if your son will be scarred!

Pam said...

Loved your story.I've also been caught out with a shameful vice.Someone told me a good way to give up smoking was to put the cigarette butts in a jar and inhale when the urge to smoke became too strong, reinforcing what a filthy habit it was. I became so desperate I tried to fish out a decent sized butt and my hand became caught in the jar.Didn't want to smash it and incur stitches - must have looked amusing the mighty effort and panic involved.Neither the bishop or the perfectionist ladies would have been the least bit impressed at my "fall into Trashville" as someone put it. Haven't smoked for twenty-five years now.Given up for good.No-one knew the tooth fairy in our house in those days was partial to the ciggies! For every tooth fairy with a chip hanging out the corner of her mouth, there's one busting to fly out the window for a smoke!

zchrive said...

IS VERY GOOD..............................