Before I start I will have to write a disclaimer. Dogs mentioned in this blog bear no resemblance whatsoever to the gorgeous twin set and pearls that are Pugsy and Ted Godwin-Crowhurst. If I don’t put this in, my friend Lorna will hunt me down and probably hurt me. With sharp things. So there you have it, Lorna, put your pitchfork back in the shed until the next time I commit an inadvertent canine faux pas!
The festive season is fast approaching and, as usual, I’m seeing far too much of the inside of various capital city hostelries. Against my will, obviously, dragged there kicking and struggling (to get out of my coat) while silently mouthing “Mine’s a gin, Jock!” as I am manhandled to the bar. Sit down before you fall down. Good advice, never forgotten.
Anyway the point is I would like to pay homage to the humble London pub. I have lately spent time in The Burlington Arms (does a nice scotch egg, bar staff slower than sloth on Mogadon), The Harp (handy for the station when Network Rail decide to play 7-card rummy all evening instead of running a train service), The Windmill (dark, seedy, strangely exciting) and a particular favourite lunchtime haunt of mine – The Market Tavern. This last is pretentiously posh and not really a pub at all but a holding pen for beautiful, delicious smelling people who have got fed up waiting in the queue for Burger & Lobster and are getting royally tanked up instead. “Bugger the lobster!” they scream into their Tanqueray martinis. Cruel – but then if you don’t want to eat it I can see how you might consider that as an alternative, given the price you pay for them. Lobster love not to be undertaken lightly however – there are still the nippers to consider. And I’m not talking about the side dish of little prawns.
The thing is….the thing IS….these pubs each have a charm of their own and remain true to the spirit of “public house”. Not everyone’s home is the same and it is this individuality and stubborn disregard for the majority taste that makes these places so great. Where would we be without a collection of photos of Princess Margaret and some faux cacti on the windowsill? Who doesn’t want harlequin patterned curtains because the fabric can be bought in bulk and the design doesn’t show the phlegm? The Tavern even has velveteen sofas. Pretty convinced they wouldn’t mind if you slipped on your comfy trousers and watched an episode of Corrie from them. So long as you smell delicious.
Whereas….the local joints in the village and surroundings where I live are…well, as I said to a mate, they are dire. One which shall remain nameless – a particular favourite of several friends of mine – smells constantly of nursing home wee. Another has been painted in a shocking shade of clotted cream, rendering it so dazzlingly uninviting and operating-theatre-bright that I wouldn’t go in there even if I had just had Botox pumped by concrete mixer into every inch of my face. Not to mention the locals sitting there harrumphing into their mulled Guinness with faces on like pugs with piles. I’ve heard of overbite but surely your lower teeth should not gurn their way up to your eyebrows?
Something is lacking in Sussex when it comes to atmosphere and ambience. We’ve tried lots of places and – sadly – it is a county-wide issue.
So, if you’re looking for me, I will be mostly drinking in the smoke this festive season. Places where you can meet a giant bloke called Tim – a good sort with half an arm, an army career under his belt and a great line in Irish jokes. Or Sheila – 94 if she is a day – who has been drinking in the same pub for about 40 years and can tell you how every bit of sticky floor came to be there. Amazing people.
Sussex – you need to man up and get your act together. Having the nation’s monopoly on old black-beamed boozers is not enough. Come to London and have a look – it’s all going on up there, you know. Cheers!!
In a life filled with work and family responsibilities, it is easy sometimes to forget the simple things. The down times that make all the hard work worthwhile. The reasons why you wanted the mortgage and to build a family of your own in the first place.
These past few days have been a rediscovery exercise. An interlude of fun and relaxation in the hustle and bustle of daily life when I have tried to stop and smell the flowers. Not actually, obviously – I mean, no-one has time to do that!
It began last Friday when I gave up the day job for a couple of days to head back to my sailing roots. I was asked to help out with the launching and display of the Team GB yacht entry into the Clipper Round the World race 13-14. Being there on this gorgeous new racing yacht plumped slap bang in the middle of Trafalgar Square – an amazing sight – was a privilege and an absolute pleasure. I spent two days meeting and greeting thousands of people who crossed that famous London square and introducing them to my love of the boat, the race experience and the legacy of sailing that catches all who take part and never lets go. Four years on from my own exciting voyage across the Atlantic, my enthusiasm for it is still undiminished, although two whole days of smiling and chatting has left me with lock-jaw and a need for Botox around the crow’s feet. I would leave with this year’s crew to set off around the globe on this mad race in an absolute heartbeat, if only I could. Ah! Jealous? Me? Abso-bloody-lutely!
Anyway. Having had that lovely catch-up with old crew and Clipper pals, including the brave and wonderful Rachel about to set off for a seven month sojourn in Switzerland before joining me back here for our Coast to Coast walking challenge next April (!), I moved on to some even older friends and a lovely Sunday in the country.
I have known these two particular good buddies since the heady days of our times together in investment banking in Canary Wharf. Many a lunch hour was whiled away setting the world to rights over curly fries and a bottle or two of fizz – would be totally frowned upon in these days of austerity and belt-tightening but in the mid-90s it was all completely normal behaviour.
Without them, I would have been an even worse employee than I have eventually turned out to be! They saved me, nurtured me, made me a better person and we will be – I have no doubt – lifelong friends. Babies, annoying and inconvenient health issues and my stubborn refusal to lie down and live quietly will never affect our close bond. We meet rarely, owing to geography and intruding life, but when we do it is as if we have not been apart in the interim. We can, literally, talk for England.
So having finally got our diaries synchronised, we all met up close to our home in Sussex at a bizarre and eclectic pub called The Bell at Ticehurst that we had been recommended to try. As it turned out, it is a great pub with a friendly atmosphere but, sadly for us, not a marvellous restaurant for a big group of chattering people. The quirkiness of the staff and surroundings palled quite quickly when faced with cold plates, wrong orders and slow and eccentric service. The men folk that accompanied us to lunch returned bemused at having had to pee literally into a trombone – an experience the Man-Hog described in excruciating detail later that day. Ew. Nevertheless, it was a lovely – if expensive and slightly weird – day with our friends and we shall just have to re-group at a better researched venue next time!
The following day was family day. A fab, sunny morning meant it would be rude not to hit the beach in some form. That beach turned out to be Deal in Kent. Via a brief stop in Sandwich. It was a treat to be out with the kids all day. I call them kids but, of course, one of them is not really. I sometimes hyperventilate at the thought of the Teen’s impending adulthood – come November she can legally get locked in at a pub without me! So these days spent all together are all the more precious because of their rarity and their approaching end. How much longer can I realistically expect her to hang out with her old Ma? Burying your Mini-Pig sibling up to his neck in beach stones will not appeal forever – although when he is annoying her it is ALL she wants to do!
A flying visit to the Isle of Wight by ferry and some exciting Colin McRae driving in the Mini ended our travelling days out – they know how to do a cream tea on that island. Devon and Cornwall – beware!
Some final shopping with the Teen and a sprinkling of CVs around neighbourhood in her continuing search for the Lesser Spotted Saturday job completed a relaxing and enjoyable week. Tomorrow I go back to work – ugh. But just for a while there, it was nice to do – and think about – practically nothing at all…..
Airports are strange places. Dislocated islands populated by all the nations of the world brought together for a short time in a false sense of camaraderie. An ever changing montage of sizes, shapes, colours, accents and behaviours.
Take the lady of African descent seated two rows in front. She chews gum for three beats then scratches her nose for one. She’s been doing it for an hour. Is she allergic to the very gum she masticates with such enthusiasm? Every now and then her head drops to reveal an unexpected bald patch on the top of her head. She traces her hand across it periodically leaving me to wonder: which came first? The bald patch followed by a concerned-to-be-balding hand? Or an involuntary head stroke tic leading to a gradual wearing away of her hair?
To my right is the shifty dark-haired gentleman who has just been turned back at the Air France gate. I overheard the word “standby” followed by a derisory laugh from the airline attendant. Clearly he stands nowhere, let alone “by”. He is left tapping his knees with a nervous set of fingers while he awaits a similar rejection from the British Airways staff who are already wise to him. How did he get through security without a boarding pass? He is the man from nowhere going nowhere. I fear he may be here some time.
Then there’s the so obviously British business suits. The ones with ties still tightly fastened for the flight who insist on queuing just in front of the doors a good forty minutes before boarding. They glare directly at the staff and defy anyone to try to board before them – even the unaccompanied minor waiting patiently to the side of them warrants a tut and a curled lip.
Poor love. There she perches atop her purple Trunki, wild-haired and hollow-eyed. Is she the unfortunate commuter ferrying between two estranged parents? Is she visiting grandparents who dislike her father and his presence in her life – the father who I watched drop her off at the airport and leave her in the care of a complete stranger?
Who knows what people’s stories are? We are all baggage in the end, waiting to land and for someone to claim us. Just passing through this airport island on our way to the real world again.
As many of you know, I have taken a new job back in the smoke and – so far, so good. I have already had a great bonding dinner with the other girls in my team – lots of wine and cocktails somewhere in the Kings Road, a missed last train home and some rumours of a 4AM finish for some of them? My lips are sealed……
I am slowly working out the company dynamics and trying to blend in while still being at the “haven’t a clue” stage of company knowledge. I have also broken two secure password thingamajiggas that has confounded the IT chappy, spilt coffee down a colleague’s shirt just before his lunch with a client and tripped over my own heel exclaiming “Sh*t!” in front of the Chief Exec and his guest. So, all good.
The downside to it all is the hours. There are many of them. All spent at my desk in London. All spent away from the family. Many more hours than in my previous job. Such is life – I’m happy to be in work and, to be fair, the hours have all been necessary and not just pfaffing about. I cannot complain.
Last night I managed to give myself a break from late night commuting and booked into the newly refurbished Café Royal Hotel which re-opened its doors in Summer 2012. Just off Regent Street, the hotel couldn’t be more convenient and – all credit to them – they have done a spectacular job of it. The lobbies, staircases and quirky Art Deco lifts take you back to a bygone age in the Café’s heyday. It was like entering an episode of Poirot for the evening, watching the needle pointer curve over the halfway mark as the ancient-looking elevator ascended through the floors. Polite and penguin-like staff are EVERYWHERE. You cannot move without someone wishing you a good evening or safe travels. Eh? I just walked here from down the road. No matter. If they start to gather in the hallways in groups just punch them gently out of the way. It’s the hospitality industry, they’re used to it.
Once inside the rooms, however, all thoughts of penguin-punching vanish. The world and its demands fades away as you take in your sumptuous surroundings. There is apparently a selection of more “blokey” style rooms – Mansard they call them – all wood panelling and musky scented but I didn’t get to see those on my short tour. No matter as I am, in fact, a girl. Yes, its true and not a cross-dressing version of me. So I had booked into a Portland room – beautifully furnished with every modern convenience, according to the brochure and with walls cloaked in smooth stone. Sounds odd but it really works and you feel…..safe, sort of cocooned for some odd reason.
Un-flipping-believably, I was upgraded. No bog-standard Port-a-potty room for me. Oh no. I was to be the jammy-bugger one-night owner of a fabulous junior suite! The place was bigger than my house. Ri-di-cu-lous. With its own sitting room, kitchenette with coffee machine and a bathroom big enough to hold the cast of Les Mis, it wasn’t half bad I can tell you. I could have moved the family and a couple of stray dogs into it, no trouble.
I struggled a bit with all the electronics – I am challenged in the techy department as we know. Having stupidly stripped off my dress first, I tried to shut the drapes by button and instead managed to open the sheer curtains and give the offices opposite a wonderful view of me in my bra and knicks at the naked window. Sorry peeps. Not intentional.
Having ducked down behind a pink leather chair, I fumbled my way to the perfect curtain state and then tackled the lighting. This is all at midnight, dear friends, several rums up and with thumbs that would not respond to direct instruction. The lights, I finally discovered, worked by simply stroking them. *As do I – note to Man-Hog.* How marvellous. But best of all was the B&O TV which, if you get your thumbs to behave on the controls, turns to face you wherever you are in the room and booms its little movie-playing heart out through fab surround-sound speakers.
Having tried out all the nice smelly bottles of goodies in the bathroom and resisted raiding the mini-bar, I finally decided to hit the hay. In a bed the size of Africa. It was H-UUUUUUU-GE. I felt like a hobbit in a B&B. Supremely comfortable and with Frette linens – aaaahhhhh. You fellow textile fetishists will understand. It was an absolute pleasure to starfish inelegantly and still have room to roll over three times and not fall off. I’m getting me one of those beds. And a punchable penguin to say good morning to me on demand.
Considering its central location, you honestly couldn’t hear anything from the streets outside or from the hallways. It was actually a shock when the alarm woke me up this morning. After a dip in the marble bath which was more like swimming than washing, I got myself dressed and regretfully left this oasis of calm and opulence. Back to reality tonight alongside the Man-Hog, snorting, wheezing and gurning his way through the night altogether far too close to me and in a bed nothing like the one at the Café. Ah well. Marriage is a blessing.
If you get a chance and you’re up on a theatre/shopping trip sometime, try the hotel. There is a restaurant and bar, and a soon-to-be-ready spa and gym. For one night of crazy, over-the-top pampering and quirkiness, it’s well worth the price tag. Don’t ask the price first, it has no truck with economic decline and will only spoil it for you! Enjoy!
Café Royal Hotel
68 Regent Street
London W1B 5EL
Ph: +44 20 7406 3322
Photo Credits: All my own
It has been a strange few weeks here at Pig Central. Having never really been at home for more than a week at a time during the whole of my adult life, I suddenly found myself thrust firmly into a weird new world of family life – together with inordinate amounts of unexpectedly free time.
Firstly, let me say I have enjoyed it. I have loved being here to make breakfast for everyone. I have really loved being here when the Mini Pig gets home from school: that fresh air smell that fills his hair and the increased noise level from the minute he enters the front door – precious moments. I have laughed aloud at the Teen and her mates as they loll around snacking after college and telling me all the gossip and funny bits. I have even enjoyed the slightly bemused by it all presence of the Man Hog – all day, every day. We’ve had a lot of fun and too many pub lunches – in between the barbed banter!
What I have realised however is:
A) Staying at home will, in my particular case, lead to diabetes, morbid obesity and eventual death. Fact. All I do is bake. Endless buns, brownies, batter-based goodies and all manner of sweet homely treats. Fantastic, some would say. But this is far from the truth. There is no consistency: said baking veers wildly from the sublime to the completely inedible. It’s anybody’s guess how some of it will turn out. I’ve produced a bun whose surface was not unlike the face of Barack Obama – go figure? Maybe a dodgy oeuf? Who knows? I’ve also produced a batch of brownies that were so hideously vile the Man Hog actually retched as he tasted one. When it’s good, I devour more than I should. When it’s bad, I devour it anyway because no-one else will and it would be a shameful waste of ingredients if it went straight in the bin. This has to stop. I must step away from the baking. And the eating!
B) If I continue to stay here, I am well and truly under the Man Hog’s feet. I inadvertently perch in “his” corner of the sofa. I tut openly when he sneaks in from the garden for a round of Hobbit-Second-Breakfast toast. I am in the kitchen cooking or ironing something when he wants to wash his shoes in the sink (a filthy habit I knew nothing about until now). The home, at least during daylight hours, has been his personal fiefdom for over ten years now. And he wants it back. Sans moi!
C) I simply cannot afford to stay at home. I see too much that needs to be done: repainting the ancient crumbly windows or, failing that, replacing same crumbly windows; a new kitchen; a complete garden overhaul; painting everything inside and then buying/making/stealing the necessary soft furnishings to go with….the list goes on and on. The Man Hog scoots away like a whipped puppy with his tail between his legs when I start any conversation with “Do you think you could just…..” I find myself chasing him from room to room with my prioritised snagging list while he harrumphs and insists he needs to check the oil in the car. The iPad glows a sickly red with the sheer strain of all the bookmarking I have done on the John Lewis and Dulux websites. I had less time before now to notice the endless decay that accompanies owning an old house but now…I see it all. It’s a little bit like Steve Austin, the bionic man….it is a house barely alive. But Gentlemen -
we can rebuild him. Or knock the bugger down and start again? Actually….put that on the snag list: New house.
D) I have discovered I’m unable to relax and am therefore not very relaxing to be around. After years of work, deadlines, ego massaging and deftly managing my own usually very limited time I now find this lack of structure means I simply cannot sit still. We went on holiday right at the start of the redundancy and that was fine – away from home I cannot meddle or control or tidy and so all is well. Back home: all bets are off. I’m literally driving the family bonkers – I think the Man Hog may even have developed a slight tic.
E) I actually need to work. The most soul-searing and honest thing that has come out of all of this is that I truly do love my family to distraction, but….without a job I am rootless. Surplus to my own requirements. Pointless. I truly like going to work and most of the time, I’m quite good at it. Staying at home – it’s a really tough job fraught with constant decision making and the potential to fail at the most basic of tasks.
So I have taken another job – a tougher one than the last and for less money, with longer hours, sporting an unknown group of people to try to win over. Daunting? Yes! Scared? A bit. Swap it for permanent retirement? Not on your nelly!
Call me a monster but I have come to the conclusion that I am a better wife, mother, friend, sister or whatever I am simply for going to work. It’s what I know. It’s what I do. It’s my function, my contribution, my commitment to the life we have built. More importantly, it’s what the family knows I do. It defines me for myself and for them. Without it, I am genuinely uncomfortable. So I’m off to do it all again – with the family’s blessing.
I am looking for a new job at the moment and – boy – have things changed since the last time I dated recruiters way back in the late 90s.
I don’t know if it is the anonymity of on-line recruitment ads but something seems to make it OK for these agents of job selection to descend into utter drivel when describing the various roles on offer. Perhaps it is just me getting old and crotchety but honestly? I am up to here with their bullcrap already and I’ve only just started the process.
One of today’s particularly special on-line ads includes a job whose key criteria isn’t a firm command of the Queen’s English or years of valuable experience but “a sense of urgency”. Really? I have that when I need to pee but I’m seeing a doctor about it. No-one has ever expected me to exude it from behind my desk. Sounds awful.
Come to think of it, I don’t actually know how one would display urgency while sitting down? Should I crease up my forehead to indicate inner urgency in action? Wouldn’t I just look like I have a severe case of irritable bowel?
I’m intrigued by what this phrase actually means in a work environment. Does it mean grabbing one’s computer mouse in a swift ninja-like move before double-clicking furiously for no apparent – yet clearly urgent – reason. Or frantically taking down super fast telephone messages before the caller has had a chance to actually state their business? “Get on with it, caller, it’s urgent!” Should I sprint, bearing said message, into the principal’s office, fire it into his face then back heel out as swiftly as I entered? Or do I just shout “Yes sir! On it!” each time he utters a single word? Hmmm. I don’t think I fully comprehend this particular criteria.
Similarly with this one. The “ability to push back”? WTH? I can push around, push forwards, push through, Pushy Galore and Push in Boots – do they count? Push back has vaguely disturbing sexual connotations which have no place in a job ad. Laid back. Comatose. Static. These I do with ease. But “push back”. I have no idea what that means.
So, dear recruitment people, please please please dispense with phrases found somewhere up your own back passages during a pushed back lunch hour. They’re not helping anyone and frankly just make me want to click with a sense of urgency on to the next job that makes more sense to me.
Please also refrain from over-using the words “meticulous”, “pro-active”, “can-do” and “polished”. No-one is all of these things all of the time. You cannot, for example, have a sense of urgency whilst remaining polished. The sprinting delivery of messages alone would mess up my hair and is not conducive to the smooth application of eyeliner. Neither can you push back while remaining pro-active – that’s basically going nowhere and sitting on the fence isn’t it? Surely you’re paying me too much to be so indecisive?
Here’s a draft of a job ad I would like to see:
Person wanted who is not a complete numpty, has no emotional problems or nervous tics, doesn’t eat smelly food in the office and actually wants to turn up to work. Someone who likes a pint when work is finished on a Friday night and is a good giggle at the Christmas do. Someone who gets on with it, doesn’t whinge and realises what’s what. Someone with common sense and a right good belly laugh. A person we realise is here predominantly because we are paying you and who has no unrealistic expectations of Utopian employment or Elysian fields. An all round good egg. Please send CV.
There. Honest. To the point. I’d apply. Wouldn’t you?
Photo credit: http://jobsandcareersmag.com
Valentine’s Day, as you know from previous postings, is somewhat of a let-down in the House of Pig. The Man-Hog is a conscientious objector to the one day per year he can be openly and mushily romantic. Every year I suffer the hideousness of being Britain’s Most Unbeloved. Well, I’ve had enough. So I thought I would write my own Valentine poem for all those women who, like me, expect and get nowt!
A Pig Scorned…
Roses are red? Sent by lovers in bliss.
“Sod the flowers!” Says the Man-Hog. “I’ll just give her a kiss!“
But roses are pretty! “Nah, expensive and boring.
I’ll make us some chips, that’ll send her heart soaring.“
Roses are romantic. “Pfsh. A total waste of money.
After all of these years, she knows she’s still my honey.“
They tell her I Love You. “Such piffle! No Way!
She gets to live with me – what more can I say?“
So before all those florists start counting their chickens
The Man-Hog’s determined to slim down their pickens
He won’t buy a bloom, nor a choc, nor a ring
You can’t tell him when to buy or say anything!
But the last laugh’s on me – Love’s Most Unfêted -
Off to Valentine’s dinner with one I once dated!
Suck on that, Man-Hog! Eat chips by yourself.
Next year I suggest you buy every bloom on the shelf.
(OK so I am not really going on a date with an ex but – come on! – I have to do something to shock him. It’s either this or a well-placed defibrillator.)
Poem by Pigletinapoke i.e. ME!!
Picture credit: http://www.justourpictures.com
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” Mahatma Gandhi
My son is a legend. Seriously. He should get a medal, an award or some sort of formal recognition. There should be a national holiday in his name. On that holiday, everyone can choose to ignore anything they don’t wish to hear that is said to them. Everyone may adopt selective deafness and persistent apologising. No-one needs to worry about modifying their behaviour. National Ignore Day will have been born. Hallmark will probably make a card you can buy for that. Or they’ll simply ignore it??
The Mini Pig is not so mini now so I sometimes have to be cross with him. It is allowed. The puppy dog eyes no longer tear up when I am forced to mildly tear a strip off him. He no longer cuddles as much as he did when he was little so I won’t miss those so much when he withholds them after I tell him off. For the same thing. Again. And again. And again.
Is it me? Is it too much to have asked for – ooh – going on two years or more now for him NOT to drop his used boxers and clothes in a heap shoved behind his bedroom door? Am I unreasonable to ask him NOT to have lights in two rooms plus a TV, PlayStation, PC for Facebook and my iPad for Lord knows what purpose ALL switched on at the same time? The poor leccy meter is dizzy with the amount and speed of revolutions it is expected to make of an evening. I am positively hyperventilating at the size of the bills it decides I should pay!
Mini Pig has heard the nice requests. I know he has because I sat him down for those.
He has heard the firm but still fair plea to his better nature (global warming for the leccy usage, rats and dust allergies for the tip that is his room, mum’s time and energy spent cleaning up after him and in fruitless nagging). I know he heard because I sat him down with the Man Hog present as a witness for those ones.
He has heard the stern and not remotely amused threats of property removal from his possession. He has witnessed me physically carrying out those threats. He has absorbed my screaming ab dabs like a parched sponge and stoically accepted he needs to find some other entertainment until I deem him punished sufficiently enough to return the goods. Having previously secured his solemn promise to do what I ask.
And then he ignores me. Legendary.
How many times can one over-stressed woman ask a boy to change out of his uniform after school so it does not end up with whatever that night’s meal is all down it? Vanish is great but until they invent “Miracle” or a tree that grows new school shirts overnight there will still be hints of stainage and I can’t have that, OCD about it as I am. How often can one small almost teen say sorry so convincingly and then KEEP ON DOING IT!!! AAAGGGHHH! *pause for necessary deep breathing and ohm noises*
Yet if the Man Hog and I happen to be chatting about anything to do with him or his sister or anything mildly of interest from behind closed doors an entire floor away, young Bat Flaps can hear all that OK! If I go into the kitchen and stealthily ease open a cupboard for a sneaky Malteser, again from a whole floor away, there he is! Like a starving rabid dog with the hearing of a hungry hawk. If I’m wrapping a present locked away somewhere with seven doors between me and him, he’ll tune his sonar into the rustle of paper and come looking for the source.
Nothing actually wrong with the hearing then. Nor the brain functionality – passing all tests with flying colours at school. Well, except for DT but he has small hands – it’s not easy making a shed with those. Be fair.
How do you get through to someone whose capacity to ignore you is greater than your patience to deal with him? How do you handle a kid you love more than life, but who is without a doubt sticking his mental middle finger up at you? I am trying to be all Gandhi about it – slowly, slowly catchy monkey, patience is a virtue, he’ll get it eventually and all that. But the slowness is more likely to send me head first into a vat of sloe gin before he ever conforms.
I am seriously considering some form of training. Apparently for gun dogs and guide dogs, they reprogramme the dog’s brain during a four week breaking session. It involves a lot of lemon juice up the snout and a bit of ear pinching, I believe. But I would do that – if it meant he would listen to me, do the very small things I ask like “Rinse your toothpaste spit, please” or “Please don’t leave your shin pads under the cushions so I get goosed every time I sit down“. If it meant he would eat all his meals from a bowl on the kitchen floor too (less food on the clothes?), well there’s a bonus right there.
Now then……who’s got the number for a decent Dog Whisperer? Whoever it is, I bet they won’t whisper quite like me. At the top of my lungs with a wooden spoon at the ready to carve out my own eye sockets from the sheer frustration! Maybe I should just go the old fashioned route – a hissed directive and a sharp poke in his little porcine buttocks with a cattle prod? No?
OK, so……Any other suggestions before I sell him for medical experiments? I soooooo would, you know.
Quote credit to: http://www.brainyquote.com
Picture credit: http://www.punjabigraphics.com
So I haven’t written a blog in a while – apologies to any who may have missed my inane ramblings. There is therapy available on the NHS and you should probably take advantage of that.
Here’s the thing. I read somewhere that most general chit-chat and drivel bloggers such as myself get to around a year or so of blogging and then start inhaling the fatal smog of ennui, lethargy and deflation. Having been all puffed up with ourselves and our witty twitterings, we then discover that we’ve promptly and – in my case – quite unexpectedly run out of steam. Or the desire to write. Or the time. Whatever. The cold hard fact is we’re blog-blocked and it is nigh on impossible to get started again.
That has certainly been my experience. Somewhere around Oktoberfest 2012 – when most sane people were drowning in beer and oompah-pa – I began imbibing the salty liquor of my own stale ideas. I began, in essence, to bore myself. Neither a hurdy-gurdy man nor a glut of men in lederhosen could drag a blog post out of me.
“How can this be?” I hear you cry. “Such wit! Such talent!” Well yes, dear reader, obviously *rolls eyes*. Yet despite believing all my own press AND having an ego twice the size of Rosemary Schrager’s pre-jungle left thigh, I had hit a blog wall and HAD NOTHING MUCH TO SAY!! *cue horrific screaming and folk everywhere hiding their heads in their pinnies*
Distraction from this disturbing realisation occurred in the form of home improvements – multiple and far too expensive. The world famous WOM room is now fully operational at around the cost of a small LearJet. We experience severe dehydration and inertia every time we actually light the 11.5KW woodburning stove. We heat not only our home, but most of the village as we have to open all the windows in order to get rid of the smell of our own roasting flesh. It can linger so. Banners have appeared on lamp posts screeching “No Public Incinerator in Our Village!”. Sooooo dramatic. Many otherwise productive hours have been lost in warmth-induced comas and partaking in several jolly long and surprisingly intimate talks with the Man-Hog over a glass of rapidly mulling (of its own accord) wine. TV or noise of any kind that does not suit me has been banned from the WOM. The children enter and feel compelled to converse – using the real and proper Queen’s English instead of grunting. I think they secretly like it – all that undisturbed parental focus? Got to be character-building. They’ve even had their friends round to hang out in the WOM – subject to special permission.
One unexpected and truly exciting benefit has been the dearth of slugs coming up through the ancient and crusty floorboards – or the 2013 home improvement project as I like to refer to them. Yes, tis true. Lamentably the slugs do not like this newly tropical sitting room and have decamped somewhere else. I fully expect to find a coven of them lurking in the somewhat cooler utility room planning a sneak slime attack on us for ruining their fun. Ugh.
On the family front, further distraction from the Big Issue of blog-constipation was to be had in the form of Teen Pig, Man-Hog and Mrs Pig’s birthdays. Followed by a couple of significant milestone ones in our wider family in December. Too much carousing and general whoopee around such moments resulted in a severe case of gout/trench foot/trotter-rot in the Man-Hog and his inability to wear shoes. Anti-Crocs in any form as we are – truly a footwear abomination whose inventor should have been drowned at birth – the poor old MH has been slapping about in flip flops throughout most of the recent cold and very wet weather. Feet that were merely sore are now also chilblained, purple and sporting slightly beveled edges. If you thought he had gone hippie, think again. I can assure you there is nothing remotely zen about him. The only part of being a hippie he would embrace would be the free love aspect and, frankly, by the time he’s lurched in his awkward lopsided gait- cussing and sweating – towards you, you will want to charge him for embracing anything – bugger free! All I know is the fallout of such foot flinching was me forced to attend a festive dinner dance without him – any attempt to shoehorn him into his dress shoes would only have landed him in hospital – and as a result I was the self-styled victim of far too much rum and way too many Jaegerbombs without the aid of my warder to carry me home. The hangover was legendary – even for me. I have been told I lay catatonic in the WOM for almost three days. Excellent role model and citizen. Not.
Christmas and New Year were a blur of flu, bronchitis, sickness, missed events, events we wished we’d missed and ones we somehow managed to completely forget about altogether. Various folk came of age, failed to act their age and in my case, denied age even as a concept.
So – that was then. Now what’s old pigletinapoke blog going to do in 2013? Shut down? Or continue? And does anyone except me really care? We shall see. I shall be checking the stats on this highly boring yet “momentous in its mere appearance” post to see if anyone out there still reads it after my prolonged absence. And just as a teaser, my next post will describe in excruciating detail just how ridiculous my working life has become. Until the next time……..
For the past few weeks I have been doing the Cambridge Weight Loss Plan. This was all sparked by my friend Sue – now forever know as “Non-Starter” for her immediate abandonment of the idea in the first week! – who thought we should both drop a few bags of sugar from our hips before the start of the new netball season. I gamely went along with it. I did not weep at the thought of twice – nay, sometimes thrice! – daily shakes or freshly-shat slurry masquerading as low-calorie soup. Nor have I moaned at the consumption of more lettuce leaves than a hutch full of fat lardy bunnies. No, stalwart that I truly am, I have just got on with it.
Five weeks in, the Man-Hog has just noticed that I slip easily through doorways and have to avoid storm drains more carefully these days lest I descend through the bars into the low-calorie soup below. Relief then – at least the old fella doesn’t need new specs just yet. Possibly a nursing home specialising in slow cognitive decline? But not new specs. Money saved – KERCHINNNNGGG!
Which is just as well really as I appear to have spent the national debt of Greece in a flurry of home improvements which appear to be directly correlated to the number of pounds I have lost. 15 DIY projects on the go at the last count. The main thrust has centred around creating the “WOM Room” as the Teen Pig has named it. WOM stands for “waste of money” – her principal beef being me squandering her potential inheritance on unnecessary structural alterations and the DFS sale. Such naivety! She doesn’t yet know I plan to blow every last bit on fast living and hard liquor before I shuffle off this planet. She’ll work it out eventually.
On Friday night, I sat in the WOM room for the first time, leaving barely a dent in my new cushions, lighter by degrees as I am each day at present *smug smile*. The WOM room is not yet finished – there’s still the installation of a ludicrously expensive woodburning stove, and the purchase of a decent reading lamp and a set of cast iron tongs to tweak my logs with.
Incomplete as it may be, this is no WOM. This is most definitely womb for me. No TV noise. No beeping of phones. No yelling. No mess and general stickiness. Come to think of it, no reason to be in here unless I invite you! The rest of the family have their own spaces for doing all the things they like to do. All I have ever had is the bed (sad) or the loo (sadder). This, then, is a proper, grown-up room for me to read in, listen to music in and have jolly mates round to. The stove will warm my seemingly permanently frozen cockles, heat will drift up the stairs and hopefully lower my gas bills releasing more money for shoes.
The House of Pig is slowly coming together. Mrs Pig is shrinking altogether. Non-Starter Sue has lost no weight whatsoever. Everyone is happy. Except the Teen worried about her own personal poverty following my clearly imminent demise. Selfish moo. But I do have to thank her for the WOM/womb idea – without those Pigs there’d be no blogs at all really.