Monday, 22 August 2016

The L Bomb

When I last spoke to you dear people, I had just begun my foray into the uncertain world of dating. And with all the enthusiasm of a kid going through the autumn/winter Argos catalogue (I still get excited thinking about the possibility of getting a Mr Frosty for Christmas). Everyone was telling me to enjoy being single, to play the field, to make the most of my freedom. And the idea was exciting. At first. But what I didn't realise was that online dating is a bloody minefield, littered with liars, players and dick heads.  And that, while some men can behave like prize twunts in real life, when hiding behind the safety of a screen they can really go to town on the dickheadedness.

Tinternet dating is not for the faint hearted. Or insecure. Or anyone who hates rejection. You're judged on your looks (I had a message from someone who said "You're way out of my league but can I speak to you on the phone so my personality shines through?". Bless.) and rejected on the basis of a big nose, bad haircut or a shit photo. I should know, I ignored people because their faces were a bit too long or they had Transformers posters on the wall behind them). That alone can be crushing enough. But when you've been chatting to someone who suddenly buggers off without a bye nor leave, or led right down the garden path by someone who paints themselves as Mr Perfect from Keensville when they're actually Mr Knobber from Bullshittown, it all becomes quite boring.

I did have date which was fun and with a really genuine guy. Who was weeks away from moving to the other end of the country.  Really. But that was about as successful as it got. So, with one day left of my subscription I was quite happy to email my deets to the local nunnery and resign myself to a life of getting up at 4am to praise the Lord.  And then I got a 'wink' ( a equivalent of a Facebook poke). I didn't intend to wink back. Honest guv. But something made me think  "Fuck it, why not?". The wink turned into a message, the message turned into a phone number, which turned into a date for the next night. And the rest, as they say, is history.

I'm not the type to gush. But prepare yourselves for some serious gushing. *Those with a sensitive digestive system should look away now* I never really understood what all those sappy Instagram posts were about; what people meant when they said they'd 'just clicked' with someone. Until now.  There actually is someone in existence who ticks all my boxes - who makes my stomach flip just thinking about him, who I fancy the absolute pants off, who makes me belly laugh because he's so daft, who I have a ridiculous amount in common with and who is literally the male version of me. And I'm 50 types of awesome which speaks volumes about how shit hot he is! I want to be with him allllll the time. There's nothing about him that makes me want to punch him; I can even tolerate eating with him without wanting to shove the plate up his arse and the cutlery up his nose. And that's never happened before, believe me.

We've spent every possible day together, talked about the future, met the kids - all the stuff which should be scary but has felt as natural as taking off your bra after a long day.

And to think I'd all but given up, that's what makes this all the more perfect. All those clich├ęs about finding love when you stop looking for it, all that shit is actually true.  And so I find myself in a permanent state of happiness, walking around with a daft grin on my face, waiting for texts like a lovesick teenager and looking forward to whatever comes. Which reminds me, I'd better email Sister Josephine of the Holy Order and let her know I've changed my mind..

Saturday, 16 July 2016

The (nearly-halfway-to-80-year-old) single girls guide to dating

Let's face it, nobody wants to find themselves single at nearly 40. Nobody. But sometimes life doesn't turn out the way you thought it would and, after literally decades of being either married or in long term relationships, I find myself on my own. Well, apart from 2 kids, 5 cats and 2 guinea pigs, but you know what I mean.

After a period of sadness for what had gone,  followed by 'Shit. What now?', and then acceptance that - hell, I'm not a bad old stick ready for the scrapheap just yet, I've decided that sitting around waiting for life to just happen around me really isn't the way to go. And so the time has come to write a new chapter. A new chapter in the form of a dating website. Now, I know what you're thinking because I admit I thought the same once upon a time. But the truth is, I'm a single working mum; my days of being able to drop everything and go out on the manhunt are far behind me. They say dating is difficult enough in your 20's, but when you're near the end of your 30's it seems about a daunting prospect as throwing yourself from the nearest cliff. Add to the mix a significant amount of baggage and, well - you get it. Having tried Plenty Of Fish and quickly realising it was a breeding ground for sleazebags, liars and dickheads, I thought I'd sign up for one that you have to subscribe to. For a better class of sleazebag. Dickheads with money, if you will.

The first challenge came with writing my profile. You literally have to sell yourself. Which means no listing your hobbies as 'cleaning the cat trays, standing on Lego and shouting "Teeth! Shoes! Teeth! Lunchbag! Shoes!" like a demented fishwife for an hour in the mornings'. Then came finding the right profile pictures, or - more specifically - finding ones that didn't make me look like I felt (of pensionable age and knackered).  So I did my roots, dug deep into the Facebook archives and got snap happy. Writing my 'About me' bit was easy if I'm honest. I haven't got to this age without learning a few lessons about what I DON'T want from a relationship. I was very honest. I didn't want to be messed about, lied to or to waste my time with someone who's got one foot in the relationship and the other halfway down the road. I made it clear I wasn't interested in hook-ups, hoping to whittle out some of the sleazier creatures out there. More on that later.

And so my profile went live, with a mixture of excitement and papping myself at what I was letting myself in for. But I have to admit, it's been a hell of a lot of fun! So far I've had an offer of a holiday to Barbados, a shopping trip to New York (obviously I politely declined, not least because he was 4ft 3" and looked like Roland Rat) and an invitation to be someone's wrestling partner. Seriously. Yes, there are have been chancers who are just looking for a quick bunk up, but they've been relegated to the 'Blocked' bin. As have those who've just sent "Your stunning". But not before I've quickly fired a message back saying "*You're". Well, if I didn't pull them up on their grammatical errors it would keep me awake at night and I can't have that.

Who knows where this chapter will go? If  all I find is a few mates to chat to, great. If I find true love and a future with someone perfect for me, even better. I've chatted to several really decent blokes with offers of dates in the pipeline which, again is both exciting and terrifying.  But I won't know unless I try. And it's given me a much needed boost to my fragile self-confidence, reminding me that I do still have a lot to offer the right man. #loveyourimperfections.
So while I never knew the troubles of dating in my 20's (does he like me? will he call? does he fancy me?), I think I can sum up dating at 39 as 'So are we doing this or not? Cos I've got shit to do'.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Parking wars

Now, let me just set the record straight before I venture any further: I don't profess to be the worlds greatest driver. I've been known to leave the handbrake off in Aldi carpark and, by the time I got back to my car, it had found its way so far backwards that cars were having to drive around it. And let's not forget when I reversed angrily off my drive after a row with my then- husband and went straight into a lamp post. (Although I would like to forget screaming "DO YOU WANT A PICTURE?!" at my neighbour when they gawped at my stupidity). But there are some proper morons on the road. There are even Facebook groups dedicated to people who park like they're either a) blind or b) have stolen then abandoned said car before legging it.

I've been surrounded by examples of rubbishy driving and parking over the years. My dad, even in his earlier years, has always been a pensioner when it comes to driving. Never going above 50mph, taking 3 hours to pull out at junctions for fear he might cut up the car that's 2 miles further down the road, that sort of thing. I'll give him his dues though - when I was learning to drive he agreed to take me out in his car to practice, despite me ageing him 30 years when I pulled out in front of car without looking.

Speaking of white other half is exactly the opposite of my dad. He drives like a 17 year old in a Go-Kart, although I suppose if I had a BMW Z4, I'd be a bit lairy too. He told me he tazzed off a garage forecourt the other day so fast his back end (the car, not his actual bum) span round. All I could hear was my mate Vicky saying "It's late, you're tired, you're showing off and it's time to go to bed!". When I'm in the car with him I don't know what to deal with first - the white knuckles, the squeaky bum, or the raging travel sickness. Five minutes in the car with him is what I imagine the training fighter pilots have to go through to get used to G-Force speeds.
And my ex-husband took nine, possibly ten - he can't remember - attempts to pass his test. Enough said there.

But the other day, whilst cleaning the bedroom windowsill I saw THE most extreme example of crappy driving. So crappy in fact, I don't actually know how he/she managed it. Looking down the street I saw what appeared to be the back end of a car. In the air. As it was time to retrieve The Beasts from their educational establishment, I set off to investigate. Leaving the house I bumped into my next door neighbour who was coming home from walking her dog. "Do you know the number for the non-emergency emergency services?" she said. Took me a minute to decipher what she meant, and I twigged - "Have you just seen that car?!". She told me she'd just popped home to get her camera - an indicator of modern society if ever there was one!
As I got closer I saw what can only be described as a car, nose to the ground, with it's rear perched on top of a wrought iron fence. The driver was nowhere to be seen, having no doubt spontaneously combusted with the shame. The car was surrounded by a gathering crowd taking photos on their phones, which made me feel a bit less awkward about doing the same. On the way home from the school run my daughter and her friend just HAD to go and see the spectacle. And of course, I just HAD to go one further than the other rubber-neckers and get this snap:

Certainly puts my handbrake misdemeanours to shame eh? And just to put the ironic cherry on the top - the fence the car is delicately perched upon belongs to....*drumroll*... a driving instructor!!!

There must be scientific calculation that is able to explain this seemingly impossible manoeuvre, because I'm damned if I know how they managed that act of vehicular gymnastics. If anyone is able to shed some light on the matter, please send your answers on a postcard to Freepost 'I drive like a dickhead'.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

It's beginning to look a bit like the run-up to Christmas..ish.

It's here! The 1st of December! You are now formally allowed to get excited about Christmas! I have a bit of a reputation for being a bit 'bah, humbug!' about the festive season, which isn't entirely justified. It isn't Christmas per se that I dislike, more the silly buggers that get excited about it in May. I can't be doing with the 'only 209 sleeps til Christmas!' gubbins that litters my Facebook newsfeed, and talk about how many re-mortgages you've had to make to buy your little princess her tartan unicorn with 9ct gold horseshoes, and Sylvanian Families Buckingham Palace.

I do like Christmas, honest I do. Very little can beat the look on The Childbeasts faces as they came downstairs on Christmas morn. The Daughter was so excited she was shaking like a pigeon in a cattery. I've been trying to remind her of this as the big day approaches, because her behaviour has been dreadful and she currently deserves nothing other than a Satsuma and a smacked bum. Our threats of no presents have fallen on deaf ears for months now, so today I brought out the big guns: Santa called. When I say Santa, I mean that I rang my mobile from the home phone. I'd reached my limit of tears, tantrums and smart-arse retorts, so while The Husband was trying his hardest not to drown her in the bath, I put my evil plan into action. As my phone flashed up 'Santa Claus' (along with a 'Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer ringtone for added oomph), I went into the bathroom saying "I don't know how he got hold of my number but look who's ringing me!", and showed her the phone. She immediately burst into tears and shrieked "I already know what he's going to say! I'm on the naughty list, I know it!". I partly closed the door and stood in the hallway, talking to Santa in my most earnest sounding voice.. "Yes Santa, I understand...I know Santa, I'm disappointed too..", whilst relishing the hushed anticipation coming from the bathroom and trying not to laugh.

I had to recant our conversation, word for word, spinning a web of lies involving Santa being able to see everything and having a magic phone. And yes - it did work! Her behaviour this evening has been exemplary, with the odd reminder that Santa will be ringing back in a week to check she's behaving herself.  While I sit, smugly thankful for the results that lies, bribery and deceit have had, I am suddenly struck by a horrifying thought - what on earth will I do when she no longer believes in Santa?!!

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Divine intervention.

As religion goes, I'm a 'live and let live' kinda gal. As long you don't either a) ram it down my throat on my own doorstep or b) shoot someone for saying that God is a woman, I have no strong feelings either way. I can completely understand how some people find strength in faith, just as I can see how others need definitive proof of something tangible in order to believe.

The Childbeasts attend a church affiliated school, but this is more to do with its reputation than it's religious orientation. I don't have a problem with them attending worship, or studying religion, and The Daughter does seem to be growing up as a believer. Well, mainly when she wants something. A few weeks ago she came back from the grandparents with an acorn, and on this acorn she'd drawn a smiley face. As she often does, she got the urge to destroy it by taking the top bit off (which I liked because I thought it looked like a little acorn hat). The Husband said no, that he thought it would ruin it. But away she went and wrenched it off anyway. And then started sobbing because it had wrecked it. "WHHHHHHHHYYYY?!" she wailed, "Why did God let me do it?!" And as we stood, aghast and wondering how on earth it had become the good Lords fault, she looked to the heavens and her little mouth began to whisper. "Erm, Jenny?" The Husband said, laughing, "are you praying for God to fix it?" Casting us a dirty look, she flounced off and threw Mr Acorn with the rest of the broken crap she's accumulated.

That incident reminded me of how, when I was young, I would pray really hard if I had lost something. There would be a bit of bargaining going on, of the 'if you help me find my French homework I promise I'll never say 'bugger' again' kind. Which, to be fair, quite often worked. Although how much of it was down to God helping me out rather than me tearing my room apart, I'm not sure.

But after an experience in Matalan (of all places), I may have to reconsider my religious perspective. As I was paying, the Jamaican woman in the queue next to me patted me on the shoulder and said, with a sympathetic look on her face, "Trust in Jehovah" and walked away.  I could perhaps have understood this divine intervention if I'd been drunk in the middle of the day, swearing and offering the other shoppers a fight, but I was only buying a cat-print snood! Does Jehovah really have such a strong opinion on cats? Or snoods? Either way, she seemed to think I needed help from the Lord. I think I might have to get The Daughter to pray for me. And possibly donate my snood to charity.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

What's in a word?

My name is Kirsty and I love words. All of them. Everything about language fascinates me; how we learn to speak and write, how our brain makes associations and applies grammatical rules to form new sentences, how words can be used to evoke all kinds of emotions from anger to joy. Of course, while the right selection of words can have consequences ranging from the hilarious to the catastrophic, the wrong words can be just as effective..

The Daughter has always been articulate and frequently - although not always intentionally - funny. It's the things that she gets wrong that make us laugh the loudest and hardest, and that makes her the most furious! From her weather-orientated bloopers - "Look outside! It's shittering it down!", to her culinary blunders - "This bubonic sauce (balsamic vinegar salad dressing) is actually quite nice", her little funnies have earned the name 'Nennyisms', which have become all the more poignant since she learned the written form. Since then, her quaint little turns of phrase have taken on a whole new dimension, as she writes letters to her friends, and leaves us little notes...

Boyface has started to follow in his sisters footsteps, although it's the pronunciation of words he struggles more with. He would gleefully shout about the "church cock (clock) and "fags (flags..I hope) on the park". I'm sure I've given my parents the same sort of laughs over the years though; they never let me forget about the time we were driving through a place I called Birminghamshire. And I do remember being very literal in my pronunciation of words when I was younger. I pronounced Penelope as 'Penner-low-pee' and Parade as 'Parradee'. But despite my own somewhat shaky introduction to the English language, I am now a fully paid up degree holder who loves to read and write. And so the next time The Daughter is playing with a pair of Lego Ninja Turtles nunchucks and says "I know what to do with these gymnackers!", after I've finished wetting myself laughing I will tell her she has a bright future ahead. And that if she ever finds herself in Birminghamshire, she should look out for the church cocks and the fags on the park..

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

The lowest form of wit

Someone told me a while back that children don't really understand the concept of sarcasm until they're about eleven (my smart-mouthed daughter is only 6 so I'm reserving judgment on that, but let's run with it..). If this is true, I pity any child that comes into contact with myself or The Husband, because sarcasm is what we do. We both graduated from University with degrees in Sarcasm and General Ridicule (him with 3rd class, me with a 1st - natch).

Our own kids are subjected to this relentless wisecracking on an almost daily basis. Sometimes they go with it, answering with a weary "Oh you are silly daddy.." (it's always him because he takes it too far) and a pitying shake of the head. Sometimes it riles them to the point of hysteria, and I have to step in because I just can't bear the tears. But sometimes, it's just too much to resist and we go wading in to battle, side by side in our mission to wind up the offspring.

Like tonight for instance. On emptying The Daughters lunchbox I discovered that, yet again, she'd taken the cheese out her sandwich and essentially just had bread for lunch. In our quest for a sandwich filling she will actually eat, we've gone through pretty much every variety of meat and cheese that Asda stocks. And so, whilst buttering the bread for tomorrows sarnies, we saw this as a prime urine-extracting opportunity. "If you don't like this cheese," The Husband began, "I don't know what we're going to do because we've tried all the others". "Why, what is it?" The Daughter enquired. "Well, I've milked all of the cats and...". "DADDYYYYYY!" she shouts, knowing that silliness is imminent. Well, it was just too much to resist; I rolled my metaphorical sleeves up and joined in. "You know how 'Cathedral City' is spelt c-a-t...?" I asked her with a knowing raise of the eyebrow and BOOM!  The fish bit the worm and I reeled that sucker in!

It's when it's other people's kids that the problem arises, and The Husband in particular can't seem to resist winding up our daughters tiny dinner guests. the boy from down the street came round at the weekend and the kids sat watching 'Monsters Inc.'. The Daughter - being an almighty show off - announced "I've seen 'Monsters University". Not to be outdone, the little lad said "I've seen 'Monsters University too!". And The Husband, doing what he does best, said "I've BEEN to Monsters University - that's where I got my degree". The poor kid didn't know what to think, but I bet the rumour is already well on its way around school that Jenny's daddy went to a cartoon university.

In a way it's a good thing that kids can be so easily wound up; it's not going to be half as much fun when all we get for our efforts is a smart-arsed retort. Sarcasm may be the lowest form of wit, but it's also the most enjoyable!