Bubble Gum


We walked home from school tonight and one of H’s classmates was eating a Screwball. Her younger sister also had one but wasn’t getting on with it very well, so passed it on to H. She happily stuffed her face until she got to the bottom.

“Mummy, there’s a hard bit in here” she advised me. The penny dropped, it has been a long time since I’ve had one of those. “ah… it’ll be bubble gum” I answered, knowing the delight this would give H as she had never tried it before.

I was right. Big smiles. She got it out of the bottom of the plastic container, and started to chew.

“I really want to blow a bubble with it mummy!” she excitedly said.

Have you ever tried to explain how to blow a bubble with bubble gum? It isn’t like you can pick it out of the mouth of the person chewing it, show them, and give it back. So you have to explain, describe, demonstrate. It’s hard.

“errr… you stretch it across your tongue and stick your tongue in it, and errrrr take your tongue away leaving it sticking to your teeth and then blow?” I attempted. Not good. It almost flew out of H’s mouth.

She looked at me resentfully. “that didn’t work”

See, part of me hates this six year old mentality which means that as soon as you get something you have to be able to do everything with it. I’m sure it took me years of perfecting how to blow big bubbles with my Bubble Yum Bubble Gum (and measuring tool which almost certainly came free with Look In or The Beano in approximately 1981) – and even then it was with several packs at the same time for maximum bubble width.

Nevertheless, we persevered. “really stretch it in your mouth, make it nice and flat” I tried to explain. H stretched it really thin.

“I don’t think this will work” she advised. She was right. It didn’t. I told her to keep chewing. “But I want to blow a bubble!” she said with a bit of the stroppy sevens anger she’s developing at the moment.

“make it flat like a pancacke… errr…. stretch it out. Poke your tongue into it” I started, already defeated. It wasn’t going to happen.

“OH LOOK! TV!!!” distraction technique still going strong here, aged six and three quarters. The next thing I knew, she was sat watching tv pulling the bubblegum really really thin like a piece of string. Oh, and she dropped it on the carpet too… it was soon binned.

Later on at teatime she told Shaun about her new ‘thing’. “Ask daddy how to blow a bubble” I smugly said, knowing that while we could all do it without thinking as we’re old and well experienced in such matters, describing it is really not that easy at all.

“Well,” started Shaun “you stretch it across…” and so he pretty much repeated exactly what I said, with a little more detail. H looked at him. “that makes NO sense at all”.

So, dear reader, how would you describe to your child how to blow a bubble with some bubble gum? Bearing in mind I doubt she’ll have any more for a very long time… (I hope)

Post-Brexit Comedown.



I admit it, last Friday I felt really quite depressed. The initial stage of ‘what on earth happens next’ and over a week later and nobody really seems to have a plan. Then Cameron resigned and I wanted to cry which is weird as I can’t stand the bloke and I’m not a Tory. Thank goodness for The Last Leg on Friday evening to bring a bit of sanity back to it all.

A week on and I’m feeling much calmer about things. Perspective. We haven’t done anything apart from some quite important bits:
• I joined the Labour Party.
• Shaun got a free Tastecard with his CSSC Membership
• I signed up H to the Tottenham Juniors Supporters club. Has to be done.

So now the scary stuff is coming out in the press, politics are imploding and something is going to happen which may or may not trigger a general election and more stress. The In or Out buddies are back to being a part of their own parties again and didn’t want to play with each other really anyway. Oh, and all the parties have fallen out with each other too. It’s like a game of pass the parcel gone wrong, where the person doing the music wins the prize in the middle.

We watched Gogglesprogs last night. H was watching the section on the Referendum. “Mummy, they told a lie” she informed me. I asked what. “Well, they said that young people voted to stay in, and old people voted out”. I confirmed that this was in fact the truth, and not a lie at all. “But you’re old mummy” she responded. Ho hum.

H and I have talked a lot about things from the last week. Mainly because on our afternoons after school I’m checking the news. It’s an interesting time to be almost seven and learning about the world, especially now she has her own opinions.

Where does the result leave us three? I have no idea. It has certainly made us think. This country feels like a confused place at the moment. When we’re not all arguing hate crimes are on the rise, it feels like everyone is angry at everyone right now. It isn’t pleasant. I hope things become pleasant again.

Shake It All About



If only it was as easy as the hokey cokey, eh?

The EU Referendum happens tomorrow, and it is possibly the oddest thing I’ve experienced in my life. It isn’t one-party-one-view. I find myself siding with people I wouldn’t normally side with, for example. Watching the BBC debate last night Ruth Davidson came across really well and quite frankly, you’d never hear me saying something like that in a regular political debate. Sadiq Khan too (though you would get me agreeing with what he says).

The other side just seem to say things which make no sense to me. I’ve tried to find sense in both sides, to find things that would make me want to understand, but nothing makes sense by leaving the EU – to me.

Let’s rewind to the London Mayoral campaign. I collected all the leaflets to read through, to see if anyone made sense to me, and ultimately Sadiq Khan did. I feel like you have to read everything even if your gut feeling is you’d disagree to know exactly where you are. Then again, I was brought up on a Lib Dem background with a dad who did that every time an election came up – he had so many reasons for not voting for parties, but always weighed up every argument. (I’ve only just realised this as I write)

So here’s the EU Referendum. The weirdest of things when the Wandsworth Conservatives In are canvassing outside the station and you walk past because they’re Conservatives, even though you’re in. The Wandsworth Conservatives Out haven’t been – maybe they’re saving their energy for tomorrow. I have mastered the art of the dismissive hand signal while still being polite, my own ‘shake it all about’, perhaps.

One thing that isn’t really mentioned much in this debate is Gibraltar – this is the UK and Gibraltar voting. Imagine if we voted to leave? They’d be a bit screwed, wouldn’t they? Then again, I had this weird vision that it would be neck and neck until Gibraltar came in, swinging the vote to Remain in the dying minutes – a bit like when the Ukraine won Eurovision this year with the new voting system. God, imagine if Leave won? We’d be stuck on null points for the forseeable future…

Here’s another thought. Should I be buying my Euros for our Paris break in August? Could the pound end up worthless if we leave? (heaven forbid) Should I be planning ahead like this, worst case scenario? Nobody can really answer that one…

I’ve tried to avoid putting proper serious political things on Facebook, and only silly things because mostly we all need silly things to keep our spirits up, right? So here’s Rhodri’s one which made me chuckle.

Rhodri Marsden misinformation

Look, whatever you do tomorrow, vote. I don’t care which side you’re on – just make your voice heard. You’ll only have yourself to blame if you don’t like it. As Gaby Hinsliff on The Pool said:

If you’re still stuck, close your eyes and imagine that it’s now Friday, June 24. Imagine you didn’t vote, and have now woken up to find the rest of us voted Out. So long, Europe. What’s your gut reaction?

Sometimes We’re All Just Little Islands

It has been quiet on here. There is lots to talk about but I don’t have enough time to talk about it. But here I am with a bit of time.

Today is Father’s Day. It is also my 13th Wedding Anniversary. The first time a dad-related thing has happened on the same day as something else. In October it’ll be ten years this year since he died. I frequently feel sad H will never meet her Grandad, but happy I can talk about him and know that he’d love the fact she loves history (his favourite subject).

I’ve been thinking too. I know we’ve become cut off from lots of things in the last year – I see pictures of groups of friends having meet up’s that we don’t get invited to. It’s fine, and I don’t expect to be invited anywhere by anyone, but it has made me think. Really, Shaun, H and I are in our own little bubble, our own little island. Sometimes we get off and join the mainland, but mostly we’re in our little world. I’m not complaining about this – it’s how things have panned out and that’s that.

I’m reading Brix Start-Smith’s book at the moment, and she mentions how many “vagina friends” she has. As in, how many people, if she had an issue with her down-belows, she would happily phone up and talk to about them. It has got me thinking – as really, I only have Shaun. I’m very much of that ever-so-British nobody would actually want to know anyway. I just can’t imagine phoning anyone up to talk about having a period for three weeks or any other issues. I may have spoken about it in the pub after several glasses of wine (in the hope they’ll forget afterwards, I guess?). But it isn’t something I could bring up in sober conversation.

Then again, I wouldn’t expect a conversation with anyone else about those parts of the body – about anything too intimate. I’ve had to go over some really personal stuff and have talked about it with friends but it feels like I’m taking over the conversation when it starts as there’s so much of it the words tumble out of me, I trip over my talk as there are so many tangents to it all. Then I run away. Again.

I worry H will be like me. Stays on that safe little island. My little island is somewhere I forget about bad stuff when it has happened, as it’s safe there. Shaun still doesn’t quite get how I can forget some of the stuff but I guess just goes along with it these days.

But I encourage H to talk. To say what makes her angry, to laugh with her when she makes up a joke as she seems to have an amazing sense of humour. To make sure she isn’t me. I am me, but I’m part of my family, and in turn my family are part of their family before them. If there are problems, they’re part of us. H isn’t going to inherit those problems. Those problems didn’t make it onto the island, you see.


Carbon Monoxide Part Two



So, we left things a few weeks ago in the aftermath of what *could* have happened, but fortunately didn’t. Which gives you time to think about stuff, as you do.

Last night I asked Shaun to go through all our paperwork, and something which I think might be pretty massive came to light – our last gas safety check was done in February last year.

In rental properties they’re meant to be every twelve months. Ours was done FOURTEEN months later.

In other words, had it come to light two months sooner, things could have been sorted by now (they’re still not, but it looks like we’re getting central heating – IF we stay here). It would have been two months less of breathing in those evil fumes without realising.

So I’m kind of starting to have slightly angry thoughts right now, while waiting for our annual raise here (which they’re late telling us – surprise, surprise). So I’m starting to look at buying houses to get the hell out of here now, as I’m not sure whether it’s crap letting agents or crap landlady woes going on here. All I know is something wasn’t done when it was meant to, and as far as I can work out, nobody gets into trouble for not doing it. I’m done with letting other people be responsible for these things, if they can’t even get their dates right then what hope is there? I’d rather just do it all myself, and with a part buy part rent we should be able to – even with my old age.

So then there’s the fact we could have died. Just a little matter like that. Supposing something bad had happened. What would the fallout have been, had it come to light that they were late with their gas safety check? It doesn’t seem to be easy to find information to find out what would happen, more what they should be doing.

We’ve already started looking at other rentals too, but so far they seem much smaller than what we currently have – but we’d be happier. But do they want us? Who knows… it’s the waiting game now (which means it’s possible). But the last house we saw, he had the heating on – it was lovely and warm. He has instant hot water. I repeat to myself, why on earth are we still living here?

I don’t like doing grown up very often. I’m probably setting a terrible example to H, and in turn I’ve probably had a terrible example set to me by my mum (as I’m pretty sure my dad did all this stuff). It’s all SO stressful isn’t it? Too much to think about and too little time.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?


In January this year we all got a bit ill. Dizzy, and in Shaun and H’s case, some sickness thrown in too, although I thought H’s might be an ear infection. I thought mine might be too, so made sure to put drops of coconut oil in our ears as I’ve heard it helps, and I wanted to avoid antibiotics and most importantly not miss any work.

It didn’t shift though. But I’m busy. We had loads of after school things going on, and loads of real life other stuff so I muddled through as you do, until all of a sudden it appeared to be April.

Our Letting Agents called and said we were due our annual Gas Safety Check, which I was too busy to think about scheduling, plus I felt dizzy and occasionally sick. Most mornings I dizzily staggered to the train, thinking about going to the doctors, although it almost always subsided by the time I got to work.

I got the check organised anyway. After checking a few things he asked to go into the loft, and came back down instructing us not to use our heater.

Our heater is crap, you see. It’s one of those awful hot air ones – with vents in the wall upstairs and downstairs where the heat goes out. Very 1970s I suspect.

The flue which leads from the boiler and the vents in our house had come away in the loft, which meant it has been leaking – and we’re talking carbon monoxide here.

The penny dropped after a while. We’d made arrangements to go out so did our usual too busy to think about it kind of day and it was only after really thinking about it, and having one of those “ohhh… ” moments that it started to hit home.

So you start with the confusion. Then once the heating has been locked off, you suddenly realise you don’t feel dizzy any more. Then things start making sense. You feel a bit less jumbled in the head too. It’s like some kind of weird clarity. Then you get a bit angry and upset about it. Because, let’s face it, carbon monoxide isn’t something we choose to expose ourselves to.

Then you have the moment you realise why your child may have been sick all over your bed that time, because our bedroom is right next to the loft.

Then you start to kick yourself a bit because HOW did you miss the signs? Oh, that’s right. Because we were working, we’re busy at work and just put it down to a virus. One that hadn’t shifted in four months.

Then you get a bit upset too. See, when you asked the boiler man “what’s the worst case scenario” you meant just to get it fixed, but he answered with the brutally honest “death”. Fuck. But you didn’t really register that at the time.

So the landlady is getting it sorted. We’ll either get a replacement flue. If that happens we’re moving out. We’re never going to live in a house with this type of heating ever again. It’s rubbish and it doesn’t work very well anyway. If we get central heating we’ll put up with the disruption for a week because it will be better, it will be a good thing. However, it costs a lot more. But in my mind it gives this house more value – plus it will be warm.

Then I kick myself, because it would never have crossed my mind to get a carbon monoxide detector put in the loft, because I didn’t think. Neither of us did. The fumes have to go somewhere.

So, if you happen to have the awful hot air heating which comes out of vents, please please please get yourself a carbon monoxide detector in the loft as well. Because the worst case scenario doesn’t bear thinking about. We have a detector, but it’s downstairs next to the boiler itself.

Now You Are Six and a Half


I haven’t written her a letter in a long time. Seeing as Shaun is upstairs ironing and H is in bed, I will. Unless he finishes, as he hates me typing.

Dear H,

You’re funny. You still think you’re a mini-me, and your sense of humour is brilliant (so mine must be too, right?). The amount of raised eyebrows I’d give you when you say something which may be a bit cheeky are suddenly getting the same raised eyebrows back from you as a response, complete with a cheeky grin. It cracks me up.

I love how you’re reading Harry Potter, David Walliams and David Baddiel books, the younger me would have approved a lot, were it out to give approval to such things. You finish reading a book and start it again, such is your enjoyment.

You do think you’re a bit more grown up than you are, and while it’s great to see this new-found wanting to do things to help, I’m not quite ready for you to do some of the things you want to. Your logic still isn’t quite there – as shown when you went head-first over the small wall outside our house. I have a unique ability to blank out anything which I’ve found traumatic, so don’t remember a lot about it but fortunately another mum from school was there who confirmed that yes, you just went head-first over the wall, landing on your head. You bumped your back in the process, I’m not sure how.

We’ll work on that. You did me proud at swimming, when your teacher had all eight of you in the class (as the other teacher was ill) and got you all swimming up and down the pool, and you did over 400 metres, something you had never done. That was something you achieved in your own right, didn’t compete against anyone, and you all kept going. It was wonderful to see and made me so proud. I may have then gone on about it many times afterwards to anyone who would listen.

So now you’re reaching your last full term of Infant school, and in less than a month we’ll find out that you’ve got a place at the Junior School that all or most of your class will go to. Including you. You’re fine, more than ready. Not nervous any more after having popped in there a few times for fairs and uniform sales, you’re excited now. This next term will be even more exciting as you start to have visits to get to know the school.

You’ve just done two terms of street dance classes at school. Given you really don’t want to perform (I do keep asking if you want to do drama classes or anything else like that but you’re dead set against it), the fact you stood and did a dance routine in front of Year 1 & 2 made me proud too. You did it, although we’re not doing it any more this term as we need to cut back on your activities after school – we’re all tired.

Ah, Shaun’s finished his ironing, so I’ll leave it there. Keep it up, keep being you. Don’t change, but if you do change make sure it’s even better than how it currently is. Keep smiling, and you’ll keep me smiling.

Love Mummy x

Explaining the News to my Six and a Half Year Old


H’s school tend to watch Newsround in school time, so I wanted to be prepared after the horrible events yesterday. So I asked if she’d heard about the news.

She hadn’t. She heard something on the news in her childminder’s car this morning, mind.

Damn, then that leaves it to me to explain. How do you explain that out there are people who want to create a society full of fear and hatred towards others? And that to a point, they’re succeeding because people are scared?

So I told H about it in me-speak.

That this group of people who like to cause trouble have been doing it again. That they’ve bombed the airport in Brussels and a Metro Station, and unfortunately people have died. That they want us to be scared, that they want us to live in fear. But that actually, we don’t have to be scared. If you get scared, they’re winning.

(and at this point I think how scared I am that I could be anywhere in this world with my daughter and something could happen, but the actual chance of it happening is slim, but I still look into how much it costs to move to Mars as it might be safer there)

Because that’s what it boils down to. Protecting your children.

I always said I wouldn’t live in London when the IRA were blowing things up, but at least they gave warnings. Then they moved on to Manchester. But I always said that. I moved to London in 1997. I would occasionally travel on the DLR and see those buildings after the bombs in the docklands as they slowly got rebuilt.

But you can’t run away. You can’t bury your head in the sand. You can’t share the fear. Because here’s a six year old who is becoming more aware of the world around her and what’s happening.

A complete tangent, but in the seventies I was terrified that my mum would be killed by the Yorkshire Ripper. (my mum was not a prostitute, okay) But the way the news reported it and because of my young age, in my mind it was about people dying because of this scary man who attacked random women who was getting closer to York.

So my fears make me want to be as honest to H as I can be, without scaring her.

I asked her if she understood everything okay, and did she want to ask any questions. She replied “did the other people get to work okay?”

Which is the kind of question a six year old would come out with when being told something like this, and really not getting it. Which is okay, as I don’t want her to ‘get’ it just yet, just have an understanding.

As if by magic, Newsround has just come onto CBBC. Thank goodness for programmes like this which make explaining these things to H that bit more straightforward. I’ll be buying First News next week too.


Growing Up



H and I chatted today about growing up. About how she’s getting bigger and older and her body will have changes. Actually, her body is already having changes – she uses a lovely little roll-on deodorant by PitROK which I was given at Blogfest which works a treat.

About periods.

Handily, I’m having mine at the moment, so carry my little Vinny’s Mini Tampon case in my jeans pocket, so showed her some tampons. Explained it all, and how a period happens.

“So if the egg isn’t fertilised…”

“What does fertilised mean, mummy?” (I didn’t think that one through)

I told her I’d explain with the context of a chicken, which was enough of a distraction we could just get on with talking about periods instead and completely forget about that f-word.

“So what if I never get one?” she quizzed. I told her it’s unlikely she would miss out, and actually may well be like me or her nana and have them at a younger age. She seemed happy with that while a little bit of me broke inside. (my mum was seven, I was nine. H is six and a half)

She seemed fairly content with the fact it’s normal, that she’ll almost definitely get them but she won’t know when and that her general body changes will be when she knows things are changing. I hope. But I hope not soon.

Which makes me wish I’d had a chat like this with my mum back when I was the age when you can understand things like this. I knew nothing about periods. I remember sitting on the loo and my mum opening the door telling me “oh, I think you’ve started your periods” when I apparently had, being given a large brick type pad to wear that weekend in my pants. I didn’t have a clue what it meant or what it was about, or that it was even happening, it all just felt really awkward.

“What are these?” she asked, as she picked up my box of tampons on the stairs. (don’t worry, they don’t live there, they were making their way from my work bag into the bathroom cabinet) and I reminded her again. “Ohh THOSE” she said, knowingly.

It’s almost like I don’t need to broach any kind of subject along these lines any more, it’s like she thinks she’s an expert, she has as much knowledge as she’ll need for the next few years, and I can put my feet up for a bit.

It’s like she’ll now just casually drop into the conversation in restaurants “well that’s BECAUSE YOU HAVE YOUR PERIOD!” or something. A bit like the time I did a wee and she congratulated me on it being a big one.

I guess my lack of tact is really rubbing off on my daughter…

Because Relying on a Six Year Old Will Never Work

H was off school on Tuesday, and one of the things which I constantly repeated to her was to drink water as that would make her better over time.

We sent her into school with a note to pass on to her teacher, asking that every time she needed the loo, she be able to go due to her problem on Tuesday. (she went to the toilet seven times at Rainbows on Monday, and that was in an hour and a half)

She forgot to hand her teacher the letter. She forgot to drink water. She went to the toilet TWICE all day.

Fast forward to today. H goes home with her friend after school on a Thursday and it hasn’t been a problem up to now as she did tennis club as an After School club. Her teacher had mentioned it to the office, who had called me before pickup time and I’d confirmed that was the arrangement. I also pointed out she had a letter in her book bag.

H’s teacher never got my message and was reluctant to let H go. That was until H piped up “OH! I’ve got a letter in my book bag!” and handed it over.

I swear, relying on my daughter to pass anything on like that is slim. But then why would I expect her to? She’s six. I wish our school had a better way of passing on information, important information that is. If there is, I don’t know what it is.

All I know is relying on a six year old to do what they’re asked is something which appears to be quite a challenge. Roll on Junior school….