Tuesday, 3 May 2016

TO A HUSBAND WITH NO SENSE OF SMELL

My husband has a condition called anosmia. This means he has no sense of smell. 

For the most part, this works out pretty well for me.

For a start, I never have to buy scented sanitary towels. (Although why any woman needs a scented sanitary towel, unless she has a) neglected to change her sanitary pad in, like, two days, and also happens to be in a fucking heatwave, or b) recently noticed her vagina is exuding a pyroclastic flow of green slime, is beyond me.)  


Ditto any other feminine hygiene products. 

But there are downsides to having a husband who can't smell.

For example, deep down, my husband believes there is no such thing as a bad smell. He prefers the idea that bad smells are simply figments of my imagination, originating in deep-seated neuroses and hysteria. So, if I say, "Darling, the living room is redolent with the smell of shite", or, "Did you happen to tread in a bunch of dog shit when you went to get those logs from the garden and then smear it over the carpet like some FUCKING FUCK?", he'll usually mutter something about PMT under his breath.  

PMT? Moi? As if!!






Another phrase he won't tolerate is "I think I can smell gas." 

This is what would happen if I said I could smell gas: I would be hustled into a locked attic like Bertha Mason in Jane Eyre. Anybody asking about me would be told I'd suffered a rapid and catastrophic descent into madness and been sent to the countryside.  (And all this because I once called out an emergency gas engineer when the actual source of the gas smell was some dead flowers.) So what! Sniffer dogs get it wrong four times out of five, and they still get given biscuits. I didn't even get a fucking thank you.

But the worst aspect of my husbands anosmia is that when it comes to the thing Chanel describes as the sexual allure of a woman's scent, I am beyond fucked. Whilst other women need do nothing except ovulate to be at the peak of their deliciousness, I have to work it in other ways. All of which are a gazillion times more challenging. In other words, if I want to play mummies and daddies, I can't just waft the womanly bouquet of my armpits about the place, or douse myself in pheromones and then twat about Paris on a motorbike in a flesh-coloured catsuit, like Keira, or climb up a silk scarf ladder in full evening gown through a fucking skylight into some surreal Parisian landscape, like Charlize, oh no no no, I have to rely on, wait for it, The Way I Look!! And this after three children. And one good night's sleep. About eight years ago. Ha ha ha ha ha! *laughs grimly into the long, lonely night, like Bertha Mason in Jane Eyre*

On the bright side, I can fart whenever I like. Which is bloody excellent news. 


















Wednesday, 20 April 2016

LARRY THE CHIN HAIR

My eleven year old has become obsessed with the question of lady whiskers.

MY lady whiskers.

I catch her standing in the kitchen doorway staring at me as I cook dinner. She looks decidedly queasy.

"You ok?" I say. "Something wrong?"

She is staring directly at my face. Clearly, my face is the thing that is wrong.

"It's a stubble isn't it?" I say, finally.

Her concern over my chin hair has become routine. Terrified that I might be morphing into a saggy-breasted peri-menopausal Gandalf, she has taken to scanning my face for deviant follicles. I give my chin a quick sweep to reassure her.

"Nothing there", I say breezily.  "I plucked them this morning!"

I see her gag and little, and figure that "plucked" is one of those words, (like "moist" or "Michael Gove"), that tends to revolt people.

"It's underneath. In the middle!" she says, with rising hysteria. "It's sticking out loads. It's totally black".

"I can't deal with it now!" I say, a little shoutily. "I"m cooking dinner."

Afterwards I feel bad for raising my voice at her.  I have already embarrassed her enough this year by posting pictures of my armpits on Facebook during an outburst of feminist defiance.



"It's still there mammy", she says, as I'm settling her down to bed later that evening.

"I'll sort it in the morning", I say. "I promise."

"I want to do it now", she says. "Please."

I hand her my emergency tweezers. As she bends over me, I can smell the rhubarb and custard bath bomb her best friend bought for her; the more grown-up smell of chewing gum. I can see the concentration in her eyes, less blue than they once were; a serious, sea-green colour now. I am painfully aware that she is projecting all her anxieties about growing up onto my chin hair.

"It's gone all curly" she says, after a couple of frustrating attempts. "It's literally worse than before! LITERALLY!"

"Adele had a beard", I say. "When she was pregnant. Loads of women have facial hair. It's totally natural."

I want her to know facial hair doesn't matter half as much as she thinks it does - that you can be totes awesome WITH facial hair. (Although, granted, maybe not a humongous chevron moustache like our old neighbour Barbara, fucksakes). Above all, I want her to know that the people who love you, will love you anyway.

"There" she says, completely ignoring me. "I got it out for you."

She offers me the tiniest brown hair.

"What shall we call it then?" I say.

"You're super gross!" she says.

"Larry" she says, a few minutes later, whilst I'm scratching her back.  "That's what Adele called her beard."

"Larry it is then" I say.


Thursday, 3 September 2015

DAISY, DAISY

It's been a while since I blogged. The reason, dear readers, is this: 


DAISY. (No relation of Kiss lead singer Gene Simmons, in spite of the tongue)

Yes folks. A couple of months ago, we acquired a dog. A two-year-old boxer called Daisy, whose role was to shake our family out of its iPad-induced inertia, and get us out and about. Like the von Trapp family. But with poo bags.

But what we hadn’t quite accounted for was the sheer magnitude of Daisy’s walking habit.  
 
The fact of the matter is that Daisy likes walking.  Daisy like walking more than Lord Sewel likes to wear orange bras and leather jackets whilst snorting coke off the chest of a prostitute. Daisy likes walking more than Gwyneth Paltrow likes to give her nether beard a good old steam clean. Daisy likes walking even more than she likes the smell of asshole, which, my friends, is saying something. All of which means I now spend seven hours a week walking Daisy, when I could be blogging, in addition to the other three or four hours I spend walking her on weekends, with the family. Who now loathe me. 

But it’s not just the walking. In fact, the other day, following an epic walkathon around the village (think Reese Witherspoone in the film 'Wild'),  I experienced a renewed sense of purpose that lasted for at least several minutes! So, you see, the walking is almost invigorating. No, when it comes to Daisy, the straw that breaks the camel’s back, or in my case, the increasingly obvious dowager’s hump, is the extra cleaning.  The hallway, once a welcoming reception area with original feature tiles et al, now has the kerb appeal of a fucking squat. And every time we leave the house, which is never for longer than a couple of hours, we return to a river of glistening dog phlegm, the remnants of what was once an elegant Edwardian front door, floating through it, post-apocalyptically.



The front door. Absolutely fooked.

And then there’s also the smell that greets us on our return.  The smell of Daisy's separation anxiety. A putrid, gamy smell underscored by what can only be described as a lurid bass note of fear. Or, as Shakespeare might have put it were he to come round for a cup of tea, "Christ love, this is the rankest compound of villainous smell that ever offended nostril". 

"Get a grip Daisy!" I say, grabbing the mop, which I may as well wear around my neck on a chain, like old folks do with spectacles. "We were only gone for three bloody nanoseconds!" 

She looks up at me lovingly, her whiskers festooned with chips of vintage anaglypta wallpaper, the masticated remains of period skirting boards glued to her lip.

"Oh what's the point", I say, patting her head. 

On the plus side, the kids secretly love walking into the woods with her, even though they weep with a kind of biblical hysteria whenever I ask them to pause 'You Tube'.  They love, too, the deranged lopsided way in which she runs, and then runs some more; the excitement she demonstrates if you show her a ball; her ridiculously cute outsized tongue. And as a family we have gone to wild, remote places that we would never have usually gone to. Dunes. Forests. Mountains. Abandoned quarries. In short, she has forced us to see the world through a dog's eye, as a place of joy, and wonders, and immense possibilities. And for that I cannot thank her enough.

And if it means fewer blog posts while I get used to everything, then so be it … 


Monday, 27 April 2015

HOUSE OF PAIN

A contagious strain of hypochondria is sweeping through our house, thwarting all attempts at physical activity.

The ten-year-old points to a cluster of tiny spots on her forearm and informs me she is allergic to sunlight. Her eyes shimmer with the kind of longing I recognize from my own teenage flirtation with exotic maladies.
“I don’t have ANY allergies”, says the five-year-old, developing a pronounced limp as she approaches us. “But the back of my knee hurts a lot.”
The five-year-old has acquired a range of issues that affect her mobility.  The back of her knee is a total bastard, but there is also an itch under the nail of her big toe, and a surface scratch on her calf, which reminds her of the vulnerability of human flesh.
“Such a drama queen”, says the ten-year-old.
The ten-year-old has a short memory. Last year, she was THIS close to putting “crutches” on her wish list for Father Christmas. Also, those who don’t have to walk anywhere, i.e. amputees, paraplegics, and the wheelchair-bound, still give her the hump.

Pitiful grunting noises now accompany all trips to the kitchen, whilst those familiar with the TV series Ninja Warrior will know what I mean when I say that the sounds my daughters make as they go upstairs is EXACTLY the same sound Ninja Warrior contestants make when they scale Mount Midoriyama.
“Why can’t we get an elevator already?” protests the ten-year-old.
“The word is lift”, I say, pointlessly. “Elevator is an Americanism.”  
“Me and Annie are getting houses with glass elevators. Like the ones in shopping malls”, she says, lingering over the word 'mall'.
Annie is one of my daughter’s best friends. She and my daughter hope to commission an Olympic-sized swimming pool filled with jelly beans, which not only says a lot about their attitude to exercise, but confirms my suspicion that 'Water Babies' was, in hindsight, an even bigger waste of money than baby yoga, baby massage, and FUCKING. MONKEY. MUSIC.
"Carry me mammy!” wails the five-year-old, languishing on the third step.

This is a photograph of somebody else's daughters. Obviously. 
I worry that they get it from me. When I was a teenager, I watched a film called The Man With Two Brains, in which Steve Martin’s character falls in love with a living brain stored in a jar of liquid, with which he communicates telepathically.  I longed to be the brain-in-the-jar woman. The brain-in-the-jar woman never had to endure the ritual humiliation of rounders. The brain-in-the-jar woman never had to stagger around the yard like a penguin, thanks to constantly twisted ankles. The brain-in-the-jar woman never had to adopt the posture of a hunchback to conceal her height. Nobody ever looked at the brain-in-the-jar woman and thought, “OMG. A gigantic hunchbacked fucking penguin.”

But I digress. 

The fact is that nowadays, I’m definitely more committed to the idea of exercise and wellbeing than my family. 
“Why don’t we do some of the Wales Coast Path?” I say to my husband, as we are on a family holiday in West Wales recently.  
My husband looks at me with a blend of horror and bewilderment, as though I have suggested we douse ourselves in urine and go on a naked looting spree of nearby historic towns.  The girls, who are sitting on the sofa salivating over You Tube images of The Person With The Most Verrucas Ever, look up from their iPads, stricken.
“I was awake all night. I didn’t sleep until it was light”, says the ten-year-old. “This is the MOST tired I’ve ever been.”
“My pants has gone up my bottom”, wails the five-year-old. “It’s REALLY ouchy!”

The situation is so dire that I have capitulated to getting a dog, which we pick up this weekend; an energetic two-year-old boxer called Daisy, who promises to be the cure for our collective hypochondria.  Inspired by the dog’s infectious energy, my daughters will shun their iPads in favour of hopscotch, skipping ropes, and ball games. (Although when I say ball games, I don’t mean hockey. Hockey sticks contain an iron core forged in Hell. Hockey also has the effect of turning girls into cold-blooded handmaidens of Satan. It’s true.) No, when I say ballgames, I mean donkey, or piggy in the middle.

I test my theory out on the ten-year-old, as we are walking home from school the other day.
“Are you looking forward to going for walks with the dog?” I say, hopefully.
“Yes. But only when my ankle’s better”, she says. "I think I twisted it." 
“Owww”, says the five-year-old, from behind.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

VIGILANTE LYCANTHROPE

Did I tell you the one about the werewolf, the cul-de-sac in suburbia, and the courting couple?

Well, the story starts one weekday evening, back in the Eighties, with my mother furiously attempting to rid the lounge window of the coating of dust produced by the crematorium opposite.

“Ych a fi” she says, her face like a cat's bum. “No self-respect.”

I follow her gaze to the lay-by outside the cemetery gates, where two teenagers are busy sucking each other’s faces off in the front seat of a green Ford Cortina. I am almost fourteen at the time – but my experience of open mouth kissing is limited to the time Great Auntie Maud launched her tongue into my mouth thinking I was her dead husband, the great big lezzer - so I lean into the window to get a better view.

“They’re only snogging”, I conclude.

For my mother, however, there is no such thing as “only snogging”. Snogging involves EXACTLY the same level of risk as eating your dinner straight off the toilet seats in Castle Gardens where the tramps live, or injecting yourself in the face with pure, molten AIDS. It is also signals that you are probably *said in a low whispering tone audible only to bats, god, and The Neighbours* "LOOSE".  

“God only knows where you’ve come from”, she says, shaking her head at me.

She turns to the window to attack the dust again, but the scene from the car is too much for her.  Already, first base has given way to second base; to a degree of teenage flesh-mongering and upper body fondling that is, frankly, unpalatable. 

“David! You need to do something!” she yells. 

My father hurries into the lounge, the look of guilt on his face suggesting he has been indulging his all-time favourite pastime of standing in the hallway, staring into the middle distance.

“Get rid of them”, she says, pointing at the Cortina. “It’s disgusting!”  

Ten minutes later, my father reappears in the lounge, this time wearing the white laboratory coat he wears to work. This if baffling enough as it is, but the fact he has accessorised it with a BIG FUCK-OFF WEREWOLF MASK means that for a few long minutes, nothing in the world makes any sense. 

“Why are you dressed like that?” says my mother, finally. 

“I tried the vampire one”, says my father. “But this one looks better with the coat."

The werewolf mask, gifted to us by a cousin who runs a fancy dress stall in Carmarthen, is an all-over latex hood, with wrinkled cadaverous skin, a muzzle that is matted with stage blood, and lifelike strawberry-blonde hair backcombed to within an inch of its life. In a certain light, you'd be forgiven for thinking, "What in the name of cowing fuck is Bonnie Tyler doing in that lab coat?" 

My mother is as yet unconvinced. "It’s getting dark though”, she says. “You won’t be able to see properly with that thing on. Just knock on the window and tell them off!”

“I’ll be fine!” he says. “It’s just a bit of fun!”


Werewolf mask

Bonnie Tyler mask. (Image by Jack Mooney)

We watch from the lounge window as my father emerges from the back lane that runs the length of our houses. He looks in our direction for approval, before crossing the road towards the cemetery.

“He’s going to trip on the paving”, says my mother. “Bloody idiot.”

Meanwhile, things are stepping up a gear in the Ford Cortina. The boy in the driver’s seat is covering more ground, though when I say ground, I mean tits. My father creeps towards them along the cemetery's perimeter walls. When he reaches the nearside of the Cortina, he ducks down. Knocks on the driver’s side window. For a moment, nothing happens. Maybe the mask isn't good enough. Maybe they’re both thinking, “Bonnie Tyler looks like absolute fucking shit tonight.”  But then, in the next instant, the girl’s jaw drops, her pupils spread. She looks like the guy on the bridge in The Scream - but with a scrunchie. And although I can’t remember the boy’s face, I do remember the panicky revving tones; the lurch of the chassis as it stalls; the way the car finally hurtles past our window towards the junction.

“Bloody well done”, says my mother, when my father lets himself in through the back door.
"Sweating buckets", says my father, tearing the hood off. 

His shoulders are angled downwards, hinting at dissatisfaction. I can tell that he’d wanted them to see through the whole vigilante lycanthrope routine and recognise it as a sidesplitting example of suburban pranking.  

“I’ll have to wash it. I don’t want the rubber perishing”, says my mother, grabbing the hood from him.  
“It was funny though, right?” says my father, looking at us.

We nod. Because we love our dad, and he IS funny. In a what-the-fuck-are-you-doing-now-you-absolute-mentalist kind of way.  

“The look on the girl’s face was priceless!” says my mother. “Priceless!”

My father draws my mother towards him. Within seconds, they are frenching it, playing tonsil hockey, snogging; celebrating their moral victory with an ironic pastiche designed to introduce the notion that the proper context for snogging is, in fact, the kitchen, under a twitching fluorescent strip light, in front of your appalled children. Obviously.  

Either that or the teenagers have given them ideas. 








.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

M IS FOR MILDREDS


And here's another thing:

The NATO Phonetic Alphabet.

What the fuck's that all about?

F is for Foxtrot? Are you kidding me? Last time I did a foxtrot was, oh, I dunno, NEVER. Which was about the same time as I popped over to Lima. So how in god's name am I supposed to remember it?




The other day, I come up against the same old problem when I review my security details with the bank. Suffice it to say that I end up having to spell out my maiden name, place of birth, and first school, phonetically. My mind goes blank. Not blank per se, but only capable of recollecting words that are fruity synonyms to describe a) taboo body parts, b) shagging, and c) excretions. I am like Kermit The Frog introducing the Letters Of The Day on Sesame Street, but with Tourette's.

The first letter I have to spell out is M. The correct word is Mike, which should be a cinch, seeing as Mike is a mate of mine. Unfortunately, it is the polar opposite of a fucking cinch. Even everyday proper names, such as mat, mug, and monkey, vanish from memory. Literally all I can think of is the word 'mildreds'. Which is old-fashioned vernacular for bosoms. Big old-lady bosoms. If I'd stopped at mildred, as in 'George and Mildred', it might have been okay. But no, I say 'mildreds'.

There is this awful deathlike silence. The customer services representative, or as I prefer to call her, Little Miss Judgy Pants, says nothing, although what she's really thinking is, "I'm obviously speaking to a child, so could you please go and get a grown-up." Meanwhile, I'm thinking, "You too will have mildreds one day. Ha!" Later, in the same conversation, I opt for 'Groin' to signal G, 'Roger' to signal R, and weirdly, because it has no sexual connotations whatsoever, 'Yeoman' to signal Y, which is a word you'd only normally use if you were a) Hilary Mantel, b) Hilary Mantel, or c) Hilary fucking Mantel. (Whose mildreds are incidentally colossal.) For the most part however, I just pronounce letters over and over, in the hope that a double whammy of shouting and repetition will suffice.

N and B are my particular bete noires.

Another conversation, a couple of months ago, this time with an NTL representative, goes like this:

Me: Sorry ... I can only think of the word balls … sorry ... yes, B as in Balls. (This is a little white lie, as I am also able to summon up the words Ballache, Boner, Blowjob, Breasts, and distressingly, Bukkake.)
Her: Balls? (Why she has to question it is baffling. Maybe she thinks I say 'Paul's'. As in something that belongs to Paul. Which would be mind-bogglingly left-field.)
Me: Er … yes. Balls.

She titters slightly, which is reassuring, and means that we end up bonding over the weird randomness of the phonetic alphabet. I tell her about the fact that I am only able to recall a mixture of sexual swear words, or obscene profanities.

"There's a word for that!"she says, laughing. "But I can't remember it!"

Later, after a whole three minutes research to find the word she's talking about, I find something else. The Fucknetic Alphabet. Which is similar to the Phonetic Alphabet, but uses very bad words, and has nothing at all to do with NATO.

Personally, I'm not sure what I think about The Fucknetic Alphabet. Part of the problem with remembering the regular phonetic alphabet is that deep down, I prefer to choose my own words. Take  'G is for Golf' as an example. As far as yours truly is concerned, 'G is for Golf' is an abomination. An affront to the letter G. Also, in the context of the words that precede it, namely Delta, Echo, and Foxtrot, all of which have an esoteric, trippy quality, 'G is for Golf' is incongruous, ill-chosen, out of place. You may as well shit in someone's ears.

(I'm cool with most of  these G words. Especially glacier, which is very National Geographic. And gag, which has comic potential. Although if you ever say gnome to show off your mastery of the silent G phenomenon,  you're a twat.)
And so it would be with The Fucknetic Alphabet, which, in an attempt to overcome accent or language barriers, only permits use of commonly-used swearwords, such as A is for Ass, B is for Bastard, C is for C*nt, etcetera. Mildreds don't count. Neither does Bukkake. Boo!

One solution to the problem might be to offer people a choice of themed phonetic alphabets, according to popular areas of interest, for example, tea, cats, stuffed toys, class A drugs, yodelling, ukeleles, the usual suspects, with the added option to customise lists. Sure, it would have an impact on staffing levels at call centres, but on the plus side, it would be fun, and there would be far fewer administrative errors.

In the meantime, if anybody knows whether the word Yeoman has any sexual connotations, do keep it to your bloody self. Thanks.






Friday, 30 January 2015

ONCE UPON A TIME ON A TRAMPOLINE

As you will know by now, I'm a self-confessed scaredy-cat.

Slip roads, space hoppers, rounders, and checking voice mail, all give me the willies, as does the line: It puts the lotion in the basket. And don't get me started on that feathered monstrosity from the Seventies, Emu. But now, following a recent visit to Bounce Below, a disused slate cavern featuring suspended trampoline nets, I have to add trampolines to the shit list.

I should have known better, of course. Anything that describes itself as “offering a degree of physical challenge” is not for me.  But, as we are on a family holiday at the time, and there has already been an awful lot of visiting national monuments, a trip to a subterranean playground seems in order.
ABANDON ALL HOPE, YE WHO ENTER HERE
We make our way to Llechwedd Slate Caverns, boarding the underground train to the trampolines.
“This is the actual old mining train”, I say, reading the leaflet. “It’s Victorian.” 
“OMG. We’re not in school!” says the nine-year-old, shooting me one of her famous, withering looks. 

Three giant nets, hung at different levels, linked by walkways and slides, greet us on our arrival at the cavern. My son runs into the centre of the net, squealing with joy.  My daughter follows him, as do our friends’ children.
“I’m coming”, I say, stepping forwards.
My foot sinks into the net, as if it were quicksand. A queer melting feeling travels up my legs to my solar plexus.
“It feels weird”, I say, turning to my friend. "Not sure I can move!”
"Think I'm getting used to it!" says my friend, bouncing off gleefully. 

Somehow I make it back to the edge of the net. My son tells me he wants to use the slide to get to the bottom trampoline.  The ‘slide’ is a chute made of rope. The main problem with it is that it appears to be vertical. In fact, if you were to ask anybody to describe the slide's main characteristics, they would say it was a) vertical, b) vertical, and c) FUCKING VERTICAL. I’m guessing it would be a cinch if you were, say, Father Christmas, or a bag of laundry, but that’s it.
"I want to see if any other children your age go down first”, I say.
“He’ll be fine!” says a supervisor, listening in.
Seconds later, I see him on the bottom trampoline, 50ft or so below, with my friend’s husband, waving excitedly.

But as I'm working up the courage to join him, a massive teenager bounds towards me. He jumps up and down like a fucker. Like somebody has given Zebedee crystal meth. The net tips away from me at a sickening angle, like an anomaly opening up in the fabric of space. I crawl on hands and knees to the edge. Meanwhile, the rest of the kids have climbed to the top trampoline. I figure I can make it to the walkway that takes me up a level instead, if I just stick to the edges.

“Is the chute the only way of getting back down again?” I say to the supervisor, when I get there.
“Yip, but it’s easy! C’mon. Get up there!” he laughs.
The supervisor is like some kind of norse god. Admittedly, he is not the type I usually go for, but the thought that he may see me as a palsied old lady, run to seed, is distressing. At the very least, the absolute fucking least, I want him to think I’m capable of mind-blowing sex moves. I clamber up the walkway, sucking in my butt cheeks, wondering whether I have what it takes to become a survivalist.
“It’s AWESOME here!” says my daughter, when I reach the top. 
I bounce a tiny bit and say “Wheeee!” 
(I say bouncing, but what I really mean to say is 'bending my knees to create the illusion of bouncing.') I have already knocked the dream of becoming a survivalist on the head.

Five minutes later, a whistle blows, denoting the end of our session. The others throw themselves down the rope chute like it’s nothing.
“It’s easy”, says the supervisor, when I am The Only One Left. 
“I can’t”, I say, my legs dangling into the chute.
“Cross one arm over your front. Cover your nose with the other hand.”
I literally don’t know what he’s talking about. I am the kind of person who gets confused trying to do the actions for the Heads, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes song. Also, why you need to cover your schnoz is beyond me. I think it may have to do with the possibility of it getting caught in the rope, and coming the fuck off. Eventually I master the actions. But the fact that I now have no way of holding on to anything, except air, deepens the horror of what is already a bastard of a situation. The only way it could get any worse would be if Emu appeared out of nowhere, and whacked me down the chute with his cock. I mean beak.
“I can’t move”, I say. “I just can’t let go."

The supervisor confers with another supervisor. They take so long over it I get a distinct sense that this has literally never happened before. “See mam, I AM special!” I want to shout.
Eventually, they decide to close the entrance to the one-way walkway and let me use it as an emergency exit, which means clambering down the walkway, backwards, bum cheeks first, as onlookers wait patiently behind the cordon. I look like Bridget Jones sliding down the fireman’s pole, broadcasting her ass to the nation, but without the firming Magic Pants.

The kids are waiting on the train with our friends.
“You said you’d do it”, says my son, turning away from me.“You’re a CHICKEN!”
I am pathetic and ridiculous. I have a huge comedy ass. Worse, I have let my children down.
“It was kind of funny though”, says my daughter, piping up suddenly.
"The best bit was when everybody was waiting for you!” says my son, laughing now.
We laugh all the way to the reception area.  Ha ha ha! Ha ha ha!

“We can go on the underground Victorian mine tour after lunch, if you want”, I say hopefully, a little later.
The prospect of a gentle educational activity fills me with so much joy I could weep. It’s just as well there’s no Art Gallery.
“There’s a LIVE slate-splitting show!” I add, still emotional.
The kids look at me as if I’m completely mental.
“OMG! No way!” they say in unison.

Emu. Puppet or predator? You decide.