Posts Tagged ‘family’

I found my husband in front of the computer the other morning, slightly hysterical like Michael J Fox in that episode of “Family Ties” when his character Alex P Keaton took diet pills to stay awake all night. And don’t tell me you don’t remember that episode. It’s a capital C Classic.

He had been woken shortly after 3AM by the unmistakeable thud of a small body hitting the floor. Sure enough, Mr Justice had fallen out of bed but then had immediately leapt up and started running around the house. Which just confirms my theory that my children are a little bit like the SAS – armed and ready to run riot 24/7. By the time my husband had rounded up Mr Justice and put him back to bed, he himself was wide awake.

So when I got up a few hours later, I found him caffeinated up to his eyeballs and staring at the computer screen. The minute he saw me,  he bombarded me with information about land values, negative gearing and the amortisation of fixed rate mortgages during a period of stagflation (not to be confused with ‘stag fellation’, which we both thought was an amusing pun until we googled it. Trust me: Don’t. Do. It.).

The long and the short of it is that he had been house-hunting online. It is a little-known fact that we have been trying to find an investment property in the country. Little-known, perhaps, because just writing that made me feel a little unclean, like I’ve become some fat-cat real estate mogul, feeding off the fat of the land, suppressing the masses, yada yada yada.

But listen, it’s all for a good cause. No, really. My mother is about to be made homeless and we’ve been trying to find a win-win situation for one and all where a) my mother has a roof over her head; b) we have somewhere nice in the country to visit on the weekends; and c) we make a sound risk-adjusted investment in our futures with a positive net-present-value of assets and… (*yawn*)… I think I actually fell asleep as I typed that last point.

So on this particular morning, my husband drove the Love Bus in the heat to the town of [Littleton] to meet a real estate agent who was somewhat refreshingly dressed in shorts and driving a car that didn’t cost more than the house he was showing. And before the day had ended, with a little more caffeine in his system than is perhaps medically advisable and no further sleep under his belt, my husband had bought my mother a house.

Now, you might think that I should be a bit little concerned about the circumstances of his purchase (my mother certainly might be if she reads this post) but you see I trust my husband 100% when it comes to these things. He understands The Criteria.

When it came to buying a fridge, we both became obsessed (obsessed!) with the “twist’n’serve” ice functionality. We wouldn’t even consider any fridge that didn’t have it. Of course we’ve ended up “twisting’n’serving” only about once every two months, and friends we’ve shown it too have been disappointingly non-plussed, but that’s not the point, people!

With house-buying, it seems to have been All About The Kitchen. With our house, affectionately known as The House That Ate Paris, the kitchen is very much its heart. It doesn’t matter how we rearrange furniture for parties, everyone usually ends up sitting or standing around that little kitchen of ours. Which often results in me trying to prepare food and drink in 100-clowns-inside-a-mini-type circumstances. Not to say any of my friends are clowns, I should add. At least not professional clowns. 

Anyway, it turns out this house has a charming little 50s kitchen, plus “some other stuff” – the details of which my husband was a little vague. Which is a bit concerning considering his father bought their family home without realising it had a pool. True story. At least it was a pool he later discovered in his new back yard and not, say, a uranium mine or a Today Tonight news team. 

And so we’re about to become the kind of people to own Investment Property. And, to be honest, this is something that doesn’t match my loose and not-particularly-well-researched socialist views about how Land should be For the People and how there should only be Owner/Occupiers and Council Accommodation and Cool Student Houses Where Everyone’s Drunk (which, I believe, is where I picked up this socialist ethic in the first place).

“Now that we have a Real Estate portfolio,” I asked my husband. “Does that mean we have to buy one of these special books with plastic sleeves so we can show it everyone?”

“Sure,” he replied. “And we can pull it out at dinner parties and say stuff like ‘Ah, yes, and this one here is my collateralised debt obligation security…'”

Uh, okay. It frightens me sometimes that my husband even knows those kind of words. 

In a fit of insecurity, I wrote to MM asking him if he and his good lady wife KC still liked us now that we’d become Landed Gentry. And his reply? A telling silence. 

I think I understand how Rupert Murdoch must feel, purveying his empire all alone in his ivory tower. Still, even if nobody wants to be our friends any more now that we’ve officially Sold Out by Buying Up, we’ve got a new kitchen to go and sit (or stand around) in from time to time. Now if only we can manage to persuade my mum to buy a fridge with twist’n’serve….  kitchen

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Somehow I managed to fall in love with – and subsequently marry and have children with – a man who did not share my taste in books. Yes, my husband simply refuses to read any fiction published after a very specific date which I  believe to be somewhere around mid-July, 1959. He has, however, conceded that he has some interest in reading “Lucky Jim” by Kingsley Amis one of these days, claiming it was published in the early ’60s. However, when I wikipediaed it, I found out that it was first published in 1954, thus proving that his Cut-Off is iron-clad. 

Anyway, this was all an interesting lesson for me about how we can’t get everything out of the one relationship and why they invented Book Group (see “In The Good Books” for more on that merry band of women in my life). And in any case, I have been lucky enough to collect enough friends over the years to complement the many different facets of my personality. I have Sparkly friends and Sane friends. Silly friends and Soulful friends. Coffee-Scones-and-Double-Cream friends and Long-Afternoons-Drinking-Cheap-Fizz friends. And I love them all. 

And then I have “The Cousins”. On my dad’s side of the family, there are eight of us who have been putting on Cousin Christmas Spectaculars and sharing in-jokes since we were in nappies (some of us are still in nappies but I ain’t sayin’ who). Somehow, however, the Cousin Thing in my life has been kept largely separate from my Friends Thing. Perhaps it’s because, whenever the two worlds meet, all my male hetreosexual friends try to crack onto my cousins – both the boys and the girls. What can I say? We’re one hell of a good looking family. 

Recently we had a mini Cousin Get-Together because one of my cousins was in town with her brand spankin’ new fiance. Some last-minute scheduling problems meant that this get-together converged with a spontaneous BBQ we had put on for some other dear friends of ours. As I was introducing everyone, I realised that they already knew each other but just not in the flesh. Why, there I had three of my regular blog commenters all in the same room – “mystery v”, “MM” and “KC” (although, I should hasten to mention that MM and KC have been married for over a decade and have managed to have a relationship outside of my blog, their son being overwhelming proof of this). Luckily, mystery v’s new man “Imaginary D” had been exposed to enough of my blog to appreciate the exchanges of knowing “Aaahhhs!” and cries of “Boobalicious!!” that followed. 

And so we all sat around my kitchen table for some hastily-thrown together food, cheap fizz and lively conversation. I realised I was in safe hands when I was able to exclaim “Bloody Haemophiliacs!” without anyone judging me too harshly for such a random and tasteless joke. And certainly, once my “Rock Cousin” arrived, things shifted to a whole new level. At one point, there was muttering in one corner about “www.cousinswap.com”, which nobody involved in its conception seemed to be able to explain to me. And then later, there was even talk of “www.cousindump.com” which I think was a website that helps arrange certain scattalogical services to be performed by a distance blood relative but I can’t be sure. Best not dwell too long on such things, really. 

In any case, I was well pleased. Some of my worlds – virtual and real, family and friends – had successfully converged for a pleasant afternoon of spontaneous silliness. As you would certainly hope would happen when some of the family you love and some of the family you’ve chosen meet… Perhaps that’s what http://www.cousinswap.com was all about?

Whatever the hell it is, we here at NDM Central raise our glasses of cheap fizz to friendship! And to cousinship! And lazy Saturday afternoons! May the three often converge…

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Personally, I blame it all on having read Orwell’s “1984” at too young an age. To put it plainly: my fear of rats makes The Pixie’s brief bout of galeophobia look like shark-fancying (see “All At Sea“). My fear helpfully extends itself to mice, too –  if only because I have no way of distinguishing them from rats. Apparently you can tell by the width of their tails and the number of nipples they have, but since I’m really not planning on ever being that close to one to actually do any measuring or counting, the distinction is still completely lost on me. 

So when Genghis Cat casually sauntered in with a live mouse in his mouth early the other morning, my reaction was less than mature. If someone were to ask for the transcript of that moment it would read something like “Eeeeewwwwweeoooooooo aaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh Farrrrrrrrk!”. Which truly represented exemplary role-modeling in showing my children how to deal with their fears.

Upon hearing this profoundly pithy exclamation, ol’ Genghis dropped the mouse, which limped as quickly as it could under the fridge. Genghy then proceeded to sniff vaguely around the “Dust Baffle” area and, realising that there would be enough biscuit crumbs under the fridge for the mouse to live off for a year, he wandered off with the distinct air of someone whose work here was done. Panicked, I immediately rang my husband at work for advice – replacing more traditional telephone greetings with a strangled “Faarrrrrkkkkk!”. My husband calmly and quickly came up with a plan of action for me. 

“All you need to do,” he said. “Is move the fridge, grab the mouse, put it in a plastic bag and then take it outside and drop a brick on it.”

Now let’s just run through that action plan step by step:
1. Move fridge
2. Catch mouse
3. Put mouse in plastic bag
4. Drop a brick on it

Shuh! Like any of that was going to happen. Well, maybe I could have done Step 4 but without completing steps 1-3 it would have been as pointless as, well, dropping a brick on an empty plastic bag.

Luckily, my husband pretty much realised his plan wasn’t going to work the minute he’d presented it to me. My reaction no doubt had something to do with this realisation – again, that transcript would have read something like “Uh, guh, guh, guh, can’t, uh, do, uh, it, aaggghhhhhhhhh.” Under normal circumstances, he would have advised me to leave the house with the children for the day and then sorted it out himself after work. But the problem was that on this particular day, I was picking my husband up from the city and we were all driving straight off to a special holiday destination for a few days. And if the mouse stayed and died under the hot fridge in the hot weather, it would have effectively turned the house into one giant Dutch Oven. Clearly something had to be done and I wasn’t the person to be doing it, blubbing like a baby as I was.

In two words, the answer was Uncle B. 

Now, the definition of True Friendship is being able to call someone with a mouse-in-the-house problem before 7am. KT – wife of Uncle B – answered the phone in a cheerful manner – or as cheerful as someone whose children habitually wake before 5:30am can manage. But because Uncle B was still sleeping (having worked til midnight the night before) she immediately offered her mouse-removal services instead, fearless girl that she is, and was there on my doorstep with her children less than ten minutes later. 

Immediately, KT set to work. She bravely approached the fridge, while I rather less bravely put a closed glass door between me and any mouse action – although, in doing this, I cunningly claimed to be “nobly protecting” KT’s very curious daughter, Cyclone Bella. Since the fridge was too darn heavy for her to move it by herself, KT instead rocked it slightly, and then proceeded to poke the injured mouse with a long stick for ten long minutes. Which got me wondering about how when we say things like “more chocolate and champagne than you can poke a stick at”, it suggests a glorious abundance of something, whereas “more injured mice than you can a poke a stick at” doesn’t quite have the same happy overtones. Because if it was a matter of “want to” rather than “can” when it came to poking those injured mice, the desired number would definitely be NONE. Which is not the case with the champagne and chocolate. Although I would obviously prefer to consume them than poke them, stick or no. Which is all just a good example of the little mini-breaks of the mind I go on when facing my greatest fears. 

ANYWAY, after all that brave poking of the stick, KT had to admit defeat and went home to wake up her husband. Once she’d returned with Uncle B and he was on the job, KT and I were both free to go hide in the front bedroom with the children – and with that bedroom door firmly shut and a story tape on the stereo, we created ourselves a kind of Disney Bubble which could not be penetrated by the mouse’s (or Uncle B’s) screams back in the kitchen.

Less than five minutes later, the Dreadful Dead had been done, the corpse had been disposed of, and I was making suburban hero Uncle B a Very Strong Coffee Indeed. And because he’d had to get down the microwave from on top of the fridge in order to move it, I took the opportunity to give the microwave a good wipe inside and out, plus the top of the fridge, before he put everything back. Which just shows that the mouse didn’t die in vain and from such adversity came a nice clean microwave and fridge top and the reminder of how lucky I am to have such Great Friends.

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