Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Camping - the issues.

It is with some trepidation 'THE CAMPING TRIP' looms. We are going with 4 lovely families and I am sure it will be lots of fun (non-sarcastic).

However, as with any activity involving grown-ups with mortgages, their children and travel there are ISSUES. What we say and what we are thinking are generally poles apart.

Said: The campsite looks nice B, thanks for booking it. How much do we owe you.

Think: What the fuck is that. A lake in the middle of the campsite. A busy road to the left. So, not only do I have be on constant guard in case the children are abducted by some predatory paeophile; there is a huge likelihood they will be either be drowned or run over by the end of the weekend. Fucking brilliant.

Said: So, anything your kids DON'T eat?

Think: Please GOD will they eat the food prepared by other parents and pretend they like homemade as much as shop-bought. Please, if (when) we do visit a pub, will they behave as though having lemonade and crisps is a HUGE treat reserved for birthdays and holidays only.

Said: Hope the weather is good.

Think: It's bloody Norfolk in May - it will either be pissing down in which case we're out of there faster than you can say M11; or, by some miracle, it might be sunny, therefore too hot for the children to sleep in the tents. They'll all be crotchety and fighty and tearful the next day and I'll have to start on the gin EARLY in order not to argue with husband.

Said: How much booze are you taking? Oh, just enough for perhaps a G&T in the afternoon, if it's sunny; couple of glasses of wine with dinner; something for round the campfire later.. what about you two?

Think: Holy shit, what if we run out of wine. Shall have to have stash of red wine in the tent as may need to get totally rat-arsed before sleeping on the ground. Then all our friends will know we drink MUCH more than them. Oh dear.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Monday, 18 May 2009

I often wonder what happened to Muhammad Ali.

Lets go - to Bahrain, 1992. Me, newly qualified dolly of trolley. Resplendent in my peach 'hatlet'. I'd hoped to have a photo but can't find.

One afternoon my doorbell rang. On opening - a slight figure, smiley face, eyes twinkly and kind.

"Madam, my good name, Muhammad Ali. No, not heavy weight champion of world. Houseboy. Are you in need of houseboy madam... cleaning... ironing?"

Indeed, I was. So it came about that Muhammad Ali would attend Flat 13, Bu Hamood Building, Exhibition Rd for 2 hours twice weekly to do whatever it took to bring semblance of order and hygiene to my life.

Logistically, this wasn't difficult. I was in the country for 8 days out of 28 and the kitchen was only ever used for the making of cups of tea and the chilling of duty free's cheapest. Muhammad, enterprisingly, found other tasks to fill his time. Arranging my bras by unknown criteria - age perhaps. Leaving Dhal in the fridge, hurrah! Gradually, just as he brought physical order, he began to assume responsibility for my emotional life. Thus, it was Muhammad Ali who sat at the end of my bed on return from 10 day Singapore/Melbourne and broke the news that (then object of misguided affections)..

"Captain Ibrahim, Miss Clare, he is a bad man. I have seen him visiting the apartment of Miss M......"

Aaarghh. M. French. Famous for eyes of Bambi (8 coats mascara, apparently). Infamous for wearing stockings and suspenders while the rest of us battled our way through life in BHS American Tan tights. As tears welled, for the removal of doubt, he took my hand and imparted in a low voice...

"Miss Clare, I am very sure he make f#cky-f#ck with that lady". Er, thanks Muhammad, I kinda got it the first time.

As he immersed himself in mine, I, too, politely enquired of his life. He was Keralan, married, a father of two. One of his children he had never seen - she had been conceived on his last annual trip back to India. Even my 24 year old bimbo-head full of nonsense realised he was not a simply a young man working his way around the world to 'widen his horizons' or on a 'gap year'.

Muhammad was far from home because he wanted his children, both born and unborn, to have better food and shoes and books and a house. He explained that, being from a farming background, there wasn't enough work for all of his brothers and their familes. Therefore he had chosen to come to the Persian Gulf to work, in order to send money back for everyone. His sponsored main job was nightwatchman and, rather than sleeping during the day, he worked as a houseboy for whoever would employ him.

One day, I came home to chaos. Muhammad hadn't been. The flat was as I'd left it. Tea bags, pizza boxes, towels on floor, remnants of bottle of perfume smashed against wall by me in a recent hissy fit of 'woman scorned'. I never saw Muhammad Ali again. I could vaguely recall him telling me about a 'walkman' he'd been given that he feared would lead to accusations of theft. Sadly, I assumed he'd fled or been deported. I wondered for a long time but had no way of finding out - any queries to 'the authorities' would have been futile and perhaps led to more trouble for him.

Regrettably, I never told Muhammad Ali of Kerala what a good man I thought he was.

I still visit Dubai at least once a year to spend time with my best friend and my two beautiful god children who, as a family, always conduct themselves with respect to everyone around them. However, now, as then, there are still hundreds of thousands of workers (labourers, domestic servants, hotel staff) from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, the Phillippines, Thailand, Sri Lanka who work and live in conditions ranging from acceptable to appalling.

Now that I am a parent, I am amazed by the women who leave behind their husbands, children and safety to take jobs as 'housemaids'. Imagine the utter agony of feeding, bathing, tucking in someone else's children into bed with a story whilst desperately wanting to smell your own little one's hair, to bury your face into their necks. No kissing away tears, no tickles; just a constant dull pain of longing. Is there any greater sacrifice? Probably, but I can't thing of many others so unsung. Selfless acts of heroism in a ridiculously unfair world.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Utterances Imagined

Debating the various options while booking flights for a girly pink glittery weekend escape with some friends, my husband texted me:
"After all, you are too old to travel in Economy" Hmmm. Compliment? Insult? You decide. I couldn't.
Reporting this on twitter, Mrs Trefusis pointed out that it was probably one of the top 5 things a woman would like to hear. Here are some more.
A List of
The BEST THINGS Husbands and/or Boyfriends
(oh, are they mutually exclusive)
Could Say. But Don't.

  1. Your bum looks tiny in those jeans, you should get them in every colour.

  2. Here's your tea & toast darling, and the papers. Why don't you stay in bed, I'll take the children to the park for the morning.

  3. You're so rubbish at loading the dishwasher, from now on, it's my job.

  4. Oh, is Cindy Crawford the same age as you.. I always thought she was MUCH older.

  5. I'm just ordering some computer manuals from Amazon, why don't you have a look and order anything you want.

  6. Don't worry darling, it's perfectly normal for a woman of your age to stare at very handsome young men.

  7. You're right, shiny gold strappy sandals aren't quite right with that outfit, you should try to find some slightly matt gold strappy sandals. And matching clutch, obv.

  8. Oh, sweetheart, you look like you've got a terrible headache. Try to get a good nights sleep.

  9. I find those very toned, flat stomachs so unwomanly.

Any more..... ?

Sunday, 3 May 2009

I'm it!

Have been 'tagged' by MTFF and Katherine to answer the following. Anticipate yawnfest but it's all good practice for this blogging lark which seems to be, in essence um... talking about myself.

1. What are your current obsessions.

Realise have obsessed for 28, yes TWENTY-EIGHT years over weight. Loss. Gain. Whatever. Bane of women's lives. My 5 year old's current obsession is much more interesting. He is collecting empty Monster v Aliens yoghurt tubes. He washes them when empty and sellotapes them above his bed. A yoghurt tube installation!
Makes me pine for babyhood when he was tiny mouse in bib and highchair being fed Petit Filous from mustard spoon.

2. What item from your wardrobe do you most wear.

Sunglasses. Big silly ones mostly. Good for hiding tears/crows feet/hangovers. Have bad habit of using to control hair in form of alice band when windy. Nuff said.

3. Last dream I had.

Turgid. Pornographic. Maybe it will return tonight.

4. Last thing you bought.

Stripy tunic top in French Connection. The sort of thing my mother would say 'ooh you could make it for a fraction of that'. She doesn't actually say it out loud anymore but I hear her.

5. What am I listening to.

On my ipod, the new Lily Allen album.

As I write this, The Wire/24 coming from Husband's office.

6. Fave holiday spots.

Not holidays but places I will always love are: Fiji (sister's wedding); Mud Brick Cafe for long lunch (Waiheke Island, Auckland NZ) My best friend's house in Dubai; Koh Samui in 1995 prob awful now; Marylebone High St, London ( when newlywed lived above Afghan restaurant in nearby Paddington St)

7. What are you reading.

The White Tiger but it's dragging if am honest. The Secret of Scent by Luca Turin. A post by mrstrefusis inspired me to dig out old Uni text 'Contemporary American Poetry' which is so old the UK purchase price on the back is £1.75 (for a book, not half a coffee!) Revisiting Adrienne Rich. Frank O'Hara. Denise Levertov.

8. 4 words to describe you.

Generous. Resilient. Funny. Wicked.

9. Guilty pleasure.

Trashy Magazines. Perfume. Stinky cheese. I occasionally 'forget' to turn off Jeremy Kyle in the morning.

10. If you were god/goddess who would you be.

A mixture of Circe & Aergia

11. Who/what makes you laugh until you are weak.

Best friend only has to say 'my darling... lets consider our options' and i'm off. Guinea pigs crack me up.

12. Fave spring thing to do.

Cook roast lamb for family and watch them eat it all up with gusto. And rosemary gravy.

13.When you die what would you like people to say about you at your funeral.

She was a young soul until the end. With very shiny hair.

14. Best thing you ate or drank lately?

After 10k run, Ham Hock Terrine, Seafood Linguini, bottle Sancerre and & half bottle Chateauneuf du Pape tasted pretty damn good.

15 When did you last go for night out?

As night follows day, long liquid lunches become evenings out.

16. Fave film ever.

Gone with the Wind. Definitely was corseted heroine of bodice ripping yarn in former life.

17. Share some wisdom.

You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

18. Song you can't get out of your head.

Lily Allen - Fuck You.

19. Thing you are looking forward to.

First thing tomorrow, seeing children's faces, as they crawl into bed for a cuddle.

20. What cosmetic artifice can you not live without.

Full warpaint. Most days.

Perfume. Always.

RULES of game. Respond & rework. Remove one question & replace with one of your own.
Pass to six other people (only have 3)

Really should know better

Little Brown Bird


Razor Kitty