Tag Archives: humour

10 Ways to Deal with an Impending Empty Nest

I have been reading the “How to write a tolerable blog and get people to read it” instructions.

Apparently is advisable to include photographs in your blog because people prefer pictures to words on the whole, or something like that. This is a bit of a letdown for someone who mainly does words, but I do in fact do pictures sometimes as well. I mainly do pictures of three types of things:

1) Things I see in Cornwall which stand out. For example, a set of chairs with tennis balls rammed onto their feet or  some enormous graffiti scrawled neatly across a wall, clearly by an offended middle aged lady: “SHAME ON YOU, EMMA POST”.

2) Other things I see in Cornwall, specifically people with notable faces/headgear/pets/troubling appendages.

3) Days out in Cornwall and its environs, with a particular emphasis on finding ways to have an entertaining time in a county where not much happens on a day to day basis.

Recently, I have been doing a lot of number three. This is because (I am rather embarrassed to admit) I am experiencing ante-empty-nest syndrome. In roughly two months I won’t have any children any more. They will both have packed their spotty kerchiefs, tied them to knobbly sticks and set off into the world to seek their fortunes. This is, of course, an excellent thing and one that children are supposed to do, and it never once occurred to me that I would be the sort of mother who would metaphorically tie an apron round her waist and stand in the doorway weeping into a clean linen handkerchief. But.

Anyway, I have come up with some recommendations for ways to deal with impending nest emptyage. here they are:

1. Hang around waiting for your cat (or someone else’s) to look a bit stupid and immortalise him doing it.

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2) Become a pedant. The pigeon’s WHAT?Image

3) Buy some stick-on googly eyes from Wilkinson’s and find places to stick them that result in puerile merriment.

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4) Buy packets of rubber ducks and follow the same procedure as above

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5) Gather some lovely friends and take photos of yourselves in establishments with shiny cutlery.

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6) Buy paper suits from Poundland and try them on.

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7) Stay in cheap hotels and hide behind things

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8) Write deeply unsuitable words in unsuitable places

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9) Try hula hooping in the Pound Shop

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10) Explore the possibilities of moustaches

11) If all else fails, put a blanket over your head.

I hope that helps.

Girl meets boy.

Son 2 just inherited nearly £3000 for being 18.

Eighteen must surely be one of the worst possible ages to inherit some thousands. When you’re 18 you think you know everything, you want everything, you are hormonally disrupted, prone to alcoholic excess and have the foresight capacities of a gnat with short term memory loss.

Son 2 would say something along the lines of “speak for yourself” if he read that. Only he would phrase it in a more witty and entertaining way. And he would be right. I am speaking for myself.

I was a total dick when I was 18. I was sort of like a rabbit or a badger. No, not a mammal; more of a moth or a daddy long legs. I certainly wasn’t a primate of any kind because they are curious creatures, and mammals can learn things. I was the kind of creature that would fly around, do some mating, eat stuff then bang itself against a window/light bulb for 17 hours and die.

I inherited £6000 when I was a crane fly/moth combination, and £6000 was a lot then. The man who worked in Midlands bank offered me his boat when I went to pay it in. Nowadays they offer you ISAs. I should NEVER have been allowed to be in charge of £6000 and my parents knew it. They made some enquiries and discovered that the only way they could prevent me from getting my hands on it was to declare me insane, and they just couldn’t bring themselves to do that. They should have. They should have clubbed me over the head or fed me sleeping pills until I was 30 so I couldn’t make it to the bank. But no. I turned down the Midland bank man’s offer, and instead I did the following things:

1. Bought myself a double quilt

2. Bought a 1920s black lace dress, some ankle boots and various other vintage apparel

3. Bought a massive ghetto blaster

4. Lent hundreds of pounds to various dreadlocked wasters and never received a penny of it back

5. Bought a motor bike

6. Bought an ambulance and gave it to a bloke with a name like a 1930s gangster

7. Got exceedingly pissed

8. Moved to London and lived in a squat

9. Took speed

It was all gone in less than a year and all I had to show for it was a taste for Special Brew and Merrydown snakebites and an ex-boyfriend who I left because he didn’t like me going to the pub in case boys looked at me and refused to accompany me on a world tour.

So I was in London living in a series of squats and receiving the occasional letter from the ex-boyfriend who was a bit jealous that I was having a more phenomenally amazing life than he was in Cornwall. I wasn’t having a more amazing life than him, but it was dead easy to expand a visit to an Anarchist bookshop and a chat with a man with a splendid beard into a deep involvement in political activism when there’s 300 miles between you and the Internet hasn’t been invented yet.

So we began a sort of letter-based Battle of Alternativeness. I wrote to him about my arrests and protests and squat parties and whatever, and he wrote to me about being in a band and hanging out with some travellers who’d moved to Cornwall from somewhere up country and held mental drinking sessions on a bus which they’d entirely splattered in paint. I later discovered that these drinking sessions involved building fires out of tyres and other detritus, placing armchairs in the middle of them, seeing who could sit on them for the longest, and eating puppy poo.

So it was I came to encounter my first travellers in their own habitat. A couple of years earlier, I’d been watching the news with my ma one evening, not paying much attention to a story about ‘the convoy’ and how they’d been trundling around being disapproved of, getting evicted from places and generally smelling, when Ma had suddenly said, “You’ll never run away and join the Peace Convoy, will you?”  I was about 15 then and had no idea about anything apart from eye liner, ankle boots and a massive sense of unfocused dissatisfaction, so I looked at her in the way that 15 year olds look at their parents when they speak, and humphed some sort of “of course not” response. But she knew. She must have known.

So when I next visited Cornwall to grunt at my parents, I met up with the ex-boyfriend who was very keen to show off his excessively cool new acquaintances in whom I had so little interest that it was pretty much a vacuum of interestedness – a minus-interest. But he insisted, so I got into his car and drove with him through the desolate wasteland that is the old mining district of Cornwall, feeling progressively more depressed with each clunk and clank of rock against exhaust as we jerked our way up to a rocky precipice upon which was parked this old bus.

The ex-boyfriend was as enthusiastic as a puppy dog. He knocked on the bus door and someone from inside yelled some sort of consonantless sound effect which presumably meant, “do come in”, and he pushed the folding door open onto some darkness, some mud, a pile of boots and some steps.

The bus windows were mainly painted over, so it was hard at first to see in the gloom, but I followed the ex-boyfriend up the steps where we kicked our boots into the pile of others and walked onto the bus in our socks. There were three or four people lurking in the murk, but nobody spoke or seemed particularly bothered whether we were there or not. One of the humans seemed entirely unconscious, another semi-conscious with his eyes open, and two were sentient but had been away from school the week they did social skills.

Ex-boyfriend had clearly been exaggerating in his letters, just as I had been; he’d raved effusively about the hilarity of the bus’s inhabitants. I had obviously caught them on an off day, but we bravely endeavoured to uphold the traditions of social intercourse and chatted about London, Hackney, the squatting scene and whatever. All these topics of conversation were met with mild impatience by the only female inhabitant of the bus, a plain girl with short brown dreads and a lot of brown clothing who had clearly been everywhere and done everything already, and done it in a much more laid back and cool way than I had. She, for example, had never made the mistake of attending a squat party enthusiastically. No fucking way, man. Enthusiasm was a sure sign of a novice alternative type. Real ‘types’ would only ever do things nonchalantly and with visible derision. I was such a twat.

The other sentient being in the bus was a wiry male with big curly hair illuminated dimly from behind by the light leaking between the paint sploshes on the windows, making it impossible to make out his actual face. He was wearing massive, filthy trousers that seemed to be made up of about 5 ragged pairs all stuck together with grease creating a leathery trouser life-form independent of his actual legs. The male in question was drinking his way steadily through an extensive supply of Special Brew and only spoke to make sarcastic comments and laugh derisively.

This may well have been the most horrible visit I have ever made to anyone in my entire life – before or since. The atmosphere was so oppressive that it felt like I was breathing moulten lead; everything I said was met with low-level scorn, and the ex-boyfriend seemed to think everything was dead cool. I was desperate to get out of there. My friend E will recognise the horrible feeling. This was my first ever experience of the horrible feeling that was to become absolutely familiar as I became more and more embroiled in this world where everyone preached community while stabbing each other in the back.

The significance of this story? The significance of this in not just that it was my first ever encounter with the traveller existence that for some unfathomable reason was to become mine for the next ten years or so; the real significance is that the horrible curly haired man I met and despised that day on that bus has now been my husband for 22 years.

Oh, and our second son who has just turned 18; he’s putting two-thirds of his money into a savings account for university and taking his girlfriend out for dinner. He will probably never understand why I am so proud of him.

Proof that women are definitely funny

I see what happens. Yes, I thought as much. A blog is the same sort of thing as a yogurt maker or a Remington Fuzzaway; you get all excited about it for a while and write frenziedly for a few days but then your brain gets all caught up with buying train tickets, thinking about mayonnaise and whether to hoover the hairs off the sofa or just wear clothes the same colour as the cat, and you forget all about blogging. Your blog ends up in the dusty bit between your chest of drawers and your bed, or left unused in a kitchen cupboard with a bit of food residue welded to it.

Either that or you have a crisis of confidence after watching Grayson Perry’s analysis of middle class taste and realise that you are just as boring as everyone else in the entire world so why should anyone want to read anything you have to say anyway? You may just as well post pictures of otters and cats with annoyingly spelled words added to spoil the cute.

So I need a kind of testcard thing to use while I am thinking about domestic appliances and filling in forms and not doing blogging. Remember the testcard? It was a picture of a wholesome girl with Alice in Wonderland hair grasping a piece of chalk in a decisive sort of way and playing noughts and crosses with a spooky toy. At least that’s how I remember it. She used to appear in all her menacing innocence on the TV at night and her purpose seems to have been to prove your TV wasn’t broken when you turned it on and there weren’t any programmes. I need one of those. Some sort of testcard thing to prove your Internet isn’t broken when I haven’t posted any blogs.

Instead of a picture, I think I might just post conversations that have amused me in real life or on Facebook. Testcard banter. Yes. I will. Here’s one that happened a while back. I liked it:

T to H: Who is Eva Mendes?

L:  Was she in Dad’s army, or is that the one that did the thing. The thing with the other one?

H: The one that used to be married to that woman that owned the hairdressers, y’know, the one that was married to thingy’s brother down the road. That one.

L: The one that ran off with the sailor, or the one with the prosthetic head?

T: The one with the prosthetic head, I think. And the gran with the doughnut shop.

H: The one with the limp. And the Labrador.

L: Yeah her. I snogged her once.

L: Before she had the scooter.

H: She used to do the Avon.

T: I heard she died. Of the aids.

L: I heard she had a fancy man in Haverfordwest, but that he won £250 on the lottery and took up with a cult.

T: I heard her sister used to pick bilberries and ram them down her cleavage .

H: She used to wash her hair with fairy liquid.

H: My gran used to call the Avon lady ‘Titsolina Bumsqueek’.

L: She used to water down her orange juice when visitors came.

L:  There isn’t a like comment big enough to say “I want to marry you”.

T: You can’t marry people because of their grans.

L: On the contrary, if they have rich and solvent grans who might die intestate, you most definitely can.

T: They might die of intestate cancer.

L: My gran died of plague and of watching the horse racing.

T: My gran died of deciding England is shit because it has no snow. And weaving.

H: The orange juice wasn’t her, it was her mother. Don’t get me started on her mother.

L: Her mother had very cheap knickers. I saw her emptying a machine at the laundry once.

L: You know, her mother, that lived in the flat near that other flat?

H: My gran died of sellotaping her toes together to fit in her sandles. And having buttery hands.

L: I had a hamster that died of too much giggling.

T: I had a wasp that died of disappointment.

L: I had a disappointment that died when I discovered Youtube videos of 1970s children’s TV.

H: I had a turnip that died of anxiety.

L: I had a bath that emptied all of its own accord.

T: I had a neighbour who leaked sap.

H: I had a shelf that hated me.

L: I once wrote a poem that contained an allegory about J Edgar Hoover going vegan.

L: I had a sock that sighed.

T: I knew a woman who kept her hair in a box.

H: I watched a film once. It was OK.

L: I once cycled somewhere I didn’t need to go and had a sit down.

T: I once stroked a weeping hippopotamus.

H: My great uncle invented drinks.

L: I once consoled an elf whose political career had ended in infamy.

T: Before I was born my mum participated in a minor revolution in Warwick.

H: I have a bag for sale: £8.

L: I had a breadmaker that went feral.

T: The man next door collects slug halves.

L: I bought a gourd that looked exactly like a career.

T: My aunt was a wart charmer who believed tambourines were the percussion instrument of the devil.

L: My last dream was televised.

T: Twelve people came in my room last night and carried off my cotton buds one by one.

L: My epitaph will be the face of a bemused child.

H: I once broke a fall by (accidentally) placing my hand on Cilla Black’s tit.