Monthly Archives: February 2005


I must confess (blush) that on these occasions I had this recurring fantasy of a tall, dark, handsome frenchman crashing into me betwixt the champagne and the gin, sending my miserable bottle of Chateau Paintstripper smashing into a thousand pieces. Horrified at such a ‘faux pas,’ TDHF then insists on paying for a replacement bottle. ‘Which wine was it, Madame? Chateau Plonk??!! Ah mon Dieu! Madame, you cannot possibly present that to your family at Sunday lunchtime. What would your husband think of me? Let me…no, no, I insist.’ And he proceeds to present me with the most expensive bottle in the place. Thus presenting me with an even worse dilemma. Do I tell him what I really want it for? And, given the price, do I really want to use it for…? Or do I take it to be a message from the Almighty that I have a spirit of pride and stinginess and that nothing is too good for…..Aaagh!

Sometimes it’s hard being an INFP.

Quick correction here

I’ve realised that my mention of ‘Je t’aime’ blog may have given you a slightly misleading impression as to my age. I’m not THAT old. Given that I was in the 5th and 6th form back in the days of scarce pocket money and vinyl records. Plus that record player was extremely rickety. In any case, our collection had been handed down to us by ‘old girls.’

Wibblethorpe and Jack the Lass – can you explain why you’ve both paid so many visits to my blog over the last couple of days? Not that I don’t feel honoured, you understand; I’m just curious as to why the sudden interest. Unless of course you’re representatives of OffBlog making a spot inspection. 😉

The slime monster’s days are numbered, I’m pleased to report. Managed to get through church yesterday with the aid of a puff (of inhaler) beforehand and a handful of Fishermans Friends during. Then having studiously avoided coughing into either hands or tissues (the resultant action must have made me resemble our cat trying to bring up a hairball), I got to communion and completely forgot to intinct the wafer, thus spreading my germs to all and sundry, (for that read half of centre aisle right – average age 70) Oops!

Let’s hope that the composition of your average communion wine includes a generous dash of oraldene then. Drifting off on a tangent, it’s only since we moved back to the UK that I’ve learnt that communion wine is classified as ecclesiastical supplies, and is bought in specially. At my previous church whoever was down on the rota for that Sunday had to supply a bottle (or two) from their own store. I spent many an hour agonizing over the selection in our local Auchan superstore. For those of you who’ve delved into the subject – there’s a subtle moral and spritual dilemma here. Do I splash out on a bottle of piffly appelation controlee high quality stuff, bankrupt myself in the process, yet have everyone marvelling at my good taste? Especially as any leftovers were used up in the post- service coffee hour. (No, don’t worry – only the unconsecrated wine was used for this). Or would this be – horrors – setting a precedent that others would be forced to follow? On the other hand, were I to bring along some cheap plonk – aren’t I running the opposite risk; of being seen to devalue the significance of this solemn and sacred occasion……HELP!!!! Of course Mr Miff was no help whatsoever here, as he flatly refused to let me sneak anything out of his carefully managed cellar.

I bet you they don’t cover this one on the Alpha Course!

Well I never

I’m amused to learn that I’ve viewed a ‘controversial film.’ ‘Les Choristes,’ no less, seen through a haze of Benylin, and unlike most people in the UK without the help of subtitles. Which is probably just as well, as it meant I missed most of the ‘rude bits,’ which have caused it to fall foul of the censors in America and the UK. See Hence children under 13 will be unable to watch it in the States as will those under the age of 12 here, unless accompanied by an adult. Call me an old fuddy duddy, but I’ve seen far worse in some of the stuff younger kids are able to watch over here. Not to mention the films they’re officially barred from viewing but do nevertheless!. And as for the ‘reform school louts,’ they appeared positively angelic compared to some of the little darlings I’ve enountered in our nice, well-heeled corner of the Home Counties. I’m inclined to agree with the woman cited in the article, who reckoned that the reason American children wouldn’t be seeing the film was not because of the content, but because they wouldn’t want to watch anything with subtitles.

Ah well, any publicity is good publicity. There’s nothing quite like a bit of controversy to have people rushing to the box office. (Memories here of our 5th form classroom and whipping the infamous ‘Je T’aime’ off the rickety record player at the approach of the member of staff on duty. ) Happy days.


In the study with the menfolk, as Ms Miffy and friends have taken over the other room. Little M is chatting on msn, as usual. Mr Miff is playing Metal Gear Solid, wearing headphones, thank goodness.

Still no sign of the folk who were meant to be widening our drive. They were supposed to start the job on Tuesday, turned up on Wednesday morning just as I was on my way out with the dog, announced their intention to make a start, and as promptly disappeared. I’ll admit, I did have a horrible thought; suppose they’d started work on the wrong drive? They couldn’t be that stupid, could they? Especially as we’d given them a guided tour of the garden the other week. Well, cross fingers (tch, Miffy) so far we’ve not had a crowd of angry neighbours beating a path to our door, so I think I can safely assume that no work whatsoever has taken place. Which in a way is just as well, as Mr Miff has now changed his mind about what we want done, and has plans for replacing the gravel path in our back garden with some nice red tiling (in the tradition of the best gardening makeover programmes) and to make a new path to go round little Miff’s skateboard ramp. Thus ensuring that you can wind your way across the lawn to the garage at dead of night without treading in something the dog left behind. What with that, and half the patio being taken up by the cat’s run, I’m beginnning to wonder if there’ll be any garden left the way we’re going.

Taxied up to the doctors this morning, and walked back, (30 mins brisk trot). Not my usual GP, but another newish one. I’ll forgive her for looking only about 16, as she was very helpful, and kitted me out with an inhaler. Not that I really think I’ve got asthma. I reckon the breathlessness is in part due to the cold spell, and that it’ll vanish once the slime monster has taken itself off to bother someone else. Still it’s worth trying, I suppose. Even if my first efforts have proved a bit of a disaster. Plus in view of the fact that practically every cold I’ve caught over the last year has moved down to my chest, they may be able to give me something to help with this when next winter starts.

Had a quick puff when I got back, and a quick breather before sallying forth with the dog. The snow and the cold doesn’t seem to bother him much. I’ve been angling to buy him a coat (he’d look so sweet in his own little fleece), but this has been firmly vetoed by the rest of the family! I’ve been looking at too many dog sites, that’s my problem. Interestingly, I found out through one of them that what I think is Miffdog’s granny has died recently.

To return to the subject of procrastination – no progress has been made on the assignment front. (I fully expect to find a flurry of comments about this when next I log on!). On the other hand, things have moved forward on another mini, very mini, project I’d taken on on someone else’s behalf. This has been quite a challenge for me, as I hate speaking up in public – generally finding that what is crystal clear in my head comes out scrambled by the time it reaches my mouth. Hence I was quite surprised to find at a meeting the other night that my proposal was accepted. I’d honestly been expecting some opposition. In the event there was none. In a way I was almost taken aback. Part of this is maybe due to the sense I had (probably totally unfounded) that what I was proposing wasn’t being taken entirely seriously. It’s hard to describe, but it reminded me of the ‘amusing’ item you sometimes find scheduled at the end of the news. Benevolent smiles all round, and I felt as if I’d been given a metaphorical pat on the head. Gold stars all round. Will I ever be taken seriously? I swear, I’ve visions of myself staggering into the old folk’s home in 30 years time on my walking frame and still being treated as the ‘baby!’ Ah well. Could be worse.

On the other hand, to return to my ‘beanstalk’ venture of a few entries ago – things are moving, and the reponse to my original suggestion has been pretty positive. I might need a few more GO FOR ITS in a couple of weeks time, just to keep me focussed.

Noticed someone reached my blog through googling ‘teen sleepovers.’ The mind boggles.

The slime monster is on his way out

I hope. This last fortnight hasn’t quite plumbed the depths of March ’02, (named ‘The month that time forgot’ in family tradition), but runs it pretty close. I speak as one who only an hour ago heaved the now vomit-free dog’s blankets out of the washing machine. Yes, even the dog has been off-colour. Mr M and I have bought up half the town’s supply of Benylin, whilst I’ve been stuffing antibiotics down my throat as fast as is physically possible. Which may account for why I’ve finished the course a day early. ‘Take one capsule 3 times a day at regularly spaced intervals’ seems pretty straightforward when you’re fuzzy headed and decorating the sink with Jackson Pollock type creations courtesy of ones bronchii. 6.30 a.m – 12.30 pm – 6.30 pm, 12.30 am….easy! Thus spake Ms Grade Four (or was it Five?) CSE maths 1975.

Still they worked a treat. There came a point last week when even the prospect of standing upright won out over yet another afternoon spent watching daytime TV and I rose from my sickbed, raring to go. Then again, my recovery could be thanks to Ms Miffy, who walked in on one of the TV sessions, and uttered an anguished cry of "Oh Mother, REALLY! How could you!" Fearing atrophy of the brain on my part, she produced a DVD of ‘Les Choristes,’ ( a Christmas pressie from a friend in France), and demanded I watch it. You try an hour and a half’s worth of French with no subtitles allowed. It certainly takes your mind off your troubles.

As did a quiet day this last weekend. It was only my second day up and about, but I was glad I made the effort to go. Doing the Stations of the Cross with what seemed to me to be an arctic blast whistling round the convent chapel concentrated the mind wonderfully. (Mental note: Should I ever go on retreat there, remember to pack a hot water bottle!).

Tangenting here. Is there such a word? Noticed that someone on SoF has started a thread on procrastination*. Now procrastination is my middle name. In fact, I have it listed as a hobby on my SoF profile. And to judge by the response to the thread, many many folk share it with me. Why do we do it? Why put off ’til tomorrow what we should do today? A classic example with me is my seeming inability to complete any task unless I’m working right up against a deadline. My writing is a case in point. The times I’ve dithered around, finally scribbled something at the last minute, sent it off, looked at it again a few days later and thought "Aaaggghhh! What rubbish is this?" And realised how much better it would have been if I’d only left it to stew for a while before pressing that ‘send’ button. This happened last week, with a short article for the church magazine – which I knocked off in just half an hour. Admittedly I had had some sort of rough plan tucked away ‘up there.’ And as I was ill, it was a case of ‘now or never.’ But still.

And generally, I get away with it. Like last week. I was notified by the organisers of a competition I’d entered last year. As usual, procrastination nearly won the day. I was scribbling away at my entry between Christmas and New Year, when I’d had 6 weeks in which to plan the wretched thing. In the end it became a matter of pride, "I’ve started so I’ll finish,’ and then having written it, it seemed a pity to waste it, even if it was unlikely it would arrive on time. I’ve been justifying sending the piece, " It’s all good practice," and making excuses for myself, " This sort of publication isn’t really my thing, anyway." Imagine my surprise to hear that although I’d not won, I’d been commended. It’s rather more than I deserve.

Staying with the subject , and now that I’m getting over the lurgy – what about the little matter of my college assignment? Last one of the unit. The unit I’ve now spent nearly 15 months doing. Ahem! Procrastination, thy name is Miffy.

* You know you’re a serial procrastinator when even the prospect of filling in your self-assessment tax return appears more attractive than the task in hand.

Famous last words

Or how are the mighty fallen! Mr Miff took to his bed yesterday morning. I managed to keep going, only to admit defeat and collapse in a heap in front of daytime TV ( I NEVER watch daytime televison normally) this morning. In fact, in the space of a few hours I watched more than I’ve done in the preceeding 6 months: a programme which seemed to be about pregnant rhinos and giraffes, Euro family exchange, (a British and German family swap homes, jobs and schools). This included the keeping of the other family’s ‘house rules,’ so Mrs UK found herself doing all the household chores after a hard day at work, whilst the German kids discovered that in the UK, children cook as well as Mum. Surprisingly enough – the one exception to the ‘housework is for the wife only,’ rule was the cleaning of the bathroom and toilets ; this was a regular chore for the German teenagers. Mrs UK seemed quite alarmed at this – citing the danger of her innocent offspring being exposed to dirt and germs. IMHO, your average teenager’s bedroom harbours worse dangers than this. Maybe hers were the exception that proves the rule!

An unexpected highlight was being able to watch Ellen McArthur sailing into Falmouth. 🙂 And probably rendered all the more inspiring by being viewed through a happy haze of Benylin and Day Nurse. At the moment I’m never sure what will come out whenever I open my mouth; a squeak or a croak. (And of course, that’s always when folk decide to phone me!). Finally crawled out of the house this afternoon to Sainsbury’s to get the wherewithal for the required ‘substantial packed lunch’ for T’s homeward journey tomorrow. I hope he’s had a good time, despite the coughs and sneezes.

Nasty fright earlier. Ms M came in in tears. She’s managed to drive her car into the back of another one. Thank goodness neither she and her friend were hurt. Luckily they were only going at 10 mph at the time. But the bonnet is in an ‘interesting shape.’ I gather the other vehicle, a people carrier – received a tiddly scratch to the bumper. They’ve exchanged details, and we await the phone call. Meanwhile, I’ve been asked to break the news to her father. I don’t think he’ll be overworried; the main concern being the dent to her confidence. She’s done a few longish journeys, but what she’s lacking is regular everyday practice. As she says to me, she’s trying so hard to drive safely. She’s needing the car for an interview next week. And she was also planning to drive to a friend’s some 40 miles away, in order to be able to ferry folk to and fro from a party, knowing that without her there’ll probably be far too many people crammed into the other car.

In the midst of all this, I’m fending off phone calls from Ms Miff’s brother, worrying about transport to bowling this evening. I arrange a taxi for 5 pm as requested. He then decides that’s too early. I phone and change the booking. The doorbell rings and I open the door to the mother of one of his friends, who says she can offer the boys a lift after all. I call the taxi firm yet again. They’re not exactly thrilled – especially as the specially requested espace is already waiting outside our house. I dash outside and tell the driver about the cancellation, just as son and friends saunter up the road. Of course they can’t understand why I’m telling the taxi to go away again. Meanwhile, friend’s Mother has been left to the tender mercies of Miffdog inside the house. Poor thing – it’s the first time we’ve actually met, and she’s greeted by this wild-eyed, dishevelled, croaking creature (and that’s just me!), babbling about car crashes and seemingly incapable of any degree of domestic organisation. This is the same lady, who’s just agreed to let us whisk her son off with us to America in the summer. She must be wondering about the wisdom of such a decision.

We survived

Just. My session last night was interrupted by a call to attend to our next door neighbour, who’d thrown up on the rockery. Little Miff sensibly poured any remaining drink down the drain; still it was a shock to realise just how much folk had drunk – and this was only two hours into the party. Poor M was later found snoozing it off on the skateboard ramp,where his little friends had considerately arranged him. Fearing pneumonia as well as alcohol poisoning, I got them to put him somewhere warmer and more comfortable indoors. Son hovered solicitiously. He was all for leaving him.; his theory that M would be right as rain after a couple of hours and that his folks would suspect nothing was touching, but wildly off beam. Touching, too, I suppose that they can’t imagine that way back in prehistoric times, Mum, (who tucks herself up into bed at 10.30 pm with a cup of cocoa), too ‘had a life,’ and knows that there are times when honesty is the best policy. So we called step Dad, who arrived with reinforcements just as his offspring was throwing up into the dog’s toybox for the umpteenth time.

So, on they went. The girl who’d helped me hold up M’s head returned to her interrupted snogging session in the hallway. With upstairs being a no-no, except for little M’s exchange student , I only then started to realise that the popularity of the (tiny) downstairs toilet had little to do with leaky bladders! Love Will find a way, I suppose.

To do folk credit – we had no complaints about noise from the neighbours, people left on the dot of 11.30 as promised, and little Miff and the others staying over made a good stab at clearing up. Result, we were all ready to go to bed (with mugs of hot chocolate – and in the case of the unlucky few, night nurse capsules).

Well, we survived then. Mind you, it still worries me that that lot can get through what they did in so short a time. Thank goodness, too, I held out against my other half’s gripes about me being overcautious and non-trusting and insisted on a ratio of 1/3 alcoholic to 2/3s non alcoholic and stopped him sneaking anything extra into the shopping trolley. The reckoning being that as it’s inevitable that folk would bring their own drinks anyway – d I certainly didn’t want to be responsible for the consequences. (At an after school event last year, one of the Year Tens fell through a greenhouse roof!) My approach is – don’t get paranoid, but expect the worst, and with luck, you may then be pleasantly surprised. As I was, by some of the youngsters, who silliness apart, turned out to be not too bad at all once you got to know them. Including little Miff, who once he saw that Mum wasn’t going to be ultra embarrassing, showed more maturity than he’s done for ages.

So, back to my three invalids. Yes Mr Miff is completing the trio of sniffers and sneezers started by T and Mstr Miff. T has gone to bed; the others are languishing on the sofa in front of the Superbowl. We ladies are made of sterner stuff!

Saturday night’s

alright for fighting…over the downstairs toilet, judging by the banging and crashings coming from it a moment ago. Yes, it’s that time of year again – little Miff’s birthday party. We’ve 22 15 year olds rampaging about the ground floor and garden. I’m on guard duty downstairs, Mr Miff upstairs, (to ensure that the entente doesn’t become too cordiale.) Ms Miff’s room is padlocked – with her precious A-Level coursework folder and birds safely inside. She has sensibly fled to a party in darkest Surrey. Wish I was with her. Our lucky guests include a fair few of the French exchange students. I only hope our lot doesn’t lead them too far astray.

I’d better dash. Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye…. 🙁

Friday night

…and Maison Miffy is still standing. Little Miff and cronies are disporting themselves at the school disco…minus one of their number. Poor T, little M’s French exchange partner, having been struck down by the dreaded lurgy, is tucked up in bed upstairs. The poor soul obviously didn’t wrap up warmly enough for the open-topped bus tour in Oxford yesterday. Result, I was called to fetch him home from school this afternoon. He’d tried to brave it out this morning, leaving armed with Day Nurse and clutching a handful of Pierre Lapin tissues. (Yes, those were the only ones I had. Oh, the shame!) For a while we thought little Miff was due to join him; he arrived home at lunchtime drooping visibly. Luckily he seems to be made of sterner stuff than T. So, quick change of plan. Mr M dropped the animals off at kennels, whilst I sped down to the chemist to stock up on yet more Day and Night nurse, Benylin, another thermometer, (ours was last seen years ago; I tend to rely on the hand on the forehead method of measuring temperatures myself). Emerged with all this, plus an extra hot water bottle in a fetching shade of purple. I refused the assistant’s offer of a co-ordinating floral cover. Doesn’t quite go with the image. (Although it would certainly look good with the Peter Rabbit hankies).

Talking of medicines; wasn’t treacle once used as a purgative? (Can any nurse wibbers help me out here?) Ms M’s in the middle of baking a chocolate cake, courtesy of The Farmhouse Kitchen and it seems to be one of the main ingredients, along with vast quantities of butter.

Now, do you remember my mention of ‘Mission-Shaped Church’ a few weeks ago? And my pleas for moral support should I be seen to dither? No, you don’t ! Never mind, I forgive you. Anyway, you’ll be glad to know that I WENT FOR IT at the meeting, have had a response far better than I’d ever anticipated, and am now cautiously edging my way up the beanstalk. I’ll keep you posted.

Vaguely along similar lines, I seem to have been drawn into a project on the Fairtrade front. Now is this procrastination or calling, I wonder? I’ll never get my current course unit finished at this rate. Yet the two are not unconnected, she says mysteriously. Again, watch this space.

Entente Cordiale

Should you see a group of French school students rampaging their way round Oxford tomorrow morning, please be nice to them. Yes, even as I speak the coach containing little Miff’s exchange partner and umpteen others is making its way out of the airport. Touchdown time here is 9.30 p.m. We are ready for them (I think). Maison Miffy is unaturally clean and tidy; Flylady would be proud of me! As long as she doesn’t inspect our bin area, where there are enough black bags full to keep Biffa busy for weeks. Most of these emnate from Mstr Miff’s direction. Yes, his room is spotless. (Hint, Smudgie, don’t give up hope ;)) Long may it last! To Saturday at least. I’m not going to breathe until after the last guest at little M’s 15th party has departed. As with Ms Miff’s 16th several years ago, we are going to move anything that’s remotely of value upstairs, lock all cupboards that can be locked and hide the keys (I’m still finding those to the china cabinet after Ms M’s 16th) and install a padlock on Ms M’s door. When there’s nearly 2 years of A Level Art Coursework and college portfolios at stake, you can never be too careful. Dog and cat are spending the weekend at kennels. Come to think of it, little M would dearly like Mum and Dad to pass the weekend there as well, but that’s not happening!

Right, I’m off. If you don’t hear from me within the week, send out the search parties!