Thursday, 13 March 2008

Closed for Essential Maintenance

The Boyfriend currently lives, astoundingly, exactly one hundred miles away door-to-door (he has measured. He is a bit of a maths geek. He likes graphs. He is not unlike Rainman.)

What is even more astounding is that far from being a source of friction, sadness or even mild upset, the long-distance arrangement is working quite wonderfully. It is less of a 'I don't care how you get here, just get here if you can' situation and more of a 'Thanks for coming, see you again some time' set-up. Pretty perfect for me.

It became a source of comment at a the latest pow-wow at Nanna's house.

"So then, when do you think The Boyfriend will move down here so you can be together?" Nanna excitedly asked me. Grooooooooan.

"Urm, never?" I offered up, hopefully. Frowns all round. "Three nights a week does me just fine". More frowns. Oh dear.

Sober Auntie informed me that, in her opinion (did I ask for it?) if I was satisfied with only a part-time arrangement then he quite obviously isn't the one for me. It is hard to take advice from a woman whose sole intention for her two boys- both of whom have only a hair and a whisker on my years- is to marry them off so they can live happily ever after amen. "I'm not being funny or anything" she followed it up with. No, you are not funny, I thought. And why is it when somebody is blatantly being "funny" they try to cover their tracks with the phrase, "I'm not being funny"? I can still tell that you are being judgemental, you know.

"Auntie" I began, in my most patient voice, "We tried to be together all of the time, but I couldn't stand the smell of boy in my flat and the fact that we could never find room in the shopping budget for an extra carton of tomato soup, because he doesn't like it. Tomato soup is my favourite." You can give as many complex reasons as you like as to why cohabitation often doesn't work out... more often than not though, it is the little things that buck the bronco. I now seem to unconsciously equate living with a boy with having to eat copious amounts of sicklycarrot and coriander soup, and I don't like carrot and coriander soup- hence the displeasure. I refuse to believe that my reasons are trivial.

"So no ring on the finger just yet then, eh?" Nanna smiled. I didn't want to further spoil the mood by explaining that The Boyfriend thinks that putting a ring on my finger as a bit of Friday night kinky pleasure. He is not a traditionalist and certainly does not have marriage on his mind. Neither do I, actually. "No, not yet" I grimaced.

What I really wanted to say was that he is really good at sex and so what more reason do I need for part-time love than that, marriage/cohabitation/living within at least a ten mile radius or not?

In addition, I secretly thought, this part-time arrangement is particularly rewarding at the moment because I have shut up shop for essential maintenance. Lovely as the peak district is, the lack of Brazilian waxage facilities are currently far out-weighing the scenery. Right now I have a more hair than a chimpanzee. Nobody wants to cuddle up to that every night (although for the forseeable future, The Boyfirend will indeed have to put up with it for a maximum of three nights a week). Even the hairdressers in these parts leave a little to be desired. Fresh from the salon yesterday and feeling quite good, Verbose Auntie- whom (in)conveniently lives just across the road now- exclaimed, 'Oh wow! Did you do it yourself?'

Pass the carrot soup.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

My Mum

My mum is the most inspirational person I know.

I feel I should blog this in late homage to the fact that quite recently it was Mothering Sunday, and the day went by marked solely by the delivery of a 'Happy Birthday Mum!' card (Tesco really should mark their card sections more clearly) and a £2 scratchcard on my part.

In my defence, it would have been a bloomin' good move if the day ended £250,000 richer than which it began- although I am acutely aware that the prosecution is ready to pounce and point out that the pickings were indeed quite slim i.e. very unlikely. Still, there was hope for the short while that it took her to gently rub away the metallic silver mask hiding those potentially life-altering symbols, and what greater gift is there than hope?

Mama was born with Cerebral Palsy. I readily and openly confess to being incredibly ignorant of the condition, but I reckon this is more to mum's credit rather than to my detriment- growing up it was quite simply never, ever an issue.

She is the younger twin to The Lovely Auntie, whom is entirely able-bodied. Out popped The Lovely Auntie in the delivery room, but t'was a while before Mama followed. And thus her tiny body starved of oxygen whilst she waited quite patiently for the out of Nanna's homely womb. This inaction altered both her limbs and the course of her life forever.

Not once have I ever heard her wonder, though, 'why me?'. Every second of every day her body is riddled with pain. As a child- and to be honest, sometimes even now- when I have needed to rest my weary head on her bosom I have never just been able to listen to the beat of her heart. You can feel her muscles constantly flexing and then flexing some more. The tension in every part of her body. She can be self-conscious about the barely-there awkwardness to her walk, and the shaking of her hands when it comes to picking up a drink in the pub. But I'll be damned if her physical disability hasn't made for a more empathetic, caring, strong-willed, unaffected and downright funny woman than all of the other females, males, mothers, fathers, friends, sisters, brothers, daughters, sons, friends and foes out there. She is one heck of a woman.

I offer this information for the change it has brought to the way I face the world each day. I have been instilled with the notion that absolutely nobody worth knowing will ever put me down, and for those that do? I just pick myself up, dust myself off, and start all over again. Don't let the Bastards get you down, she tells me.

When she, and then we, found out about The Affair, we took mama's lead. After all, it was her marriage that was lying in tatters, and that came secondary to any pain Baby Brother and I felt about the betrayal to us as their children (although, I will begrudgingly admit, it is hard even as a 'mature' adult in her twenties not to make it all about 'me, me, me'. They are my parents!). She called the shots, and we followed her lead.

When she asked for half of everything, and was told that actually half of nothing was... well, nothing, she put her marriage before the opinions of everybody around her and said 'Do you know what? This is MY husband, and OUR problem. This will be sorted MY way'. I was so proud.

It takes one dedicated, strong woman to go back to a cheating husband, when that is only the beginning of the problems and everybody around you is telling you just to get out. She learned that they were in debt, serious we-have-to-declare-bankruptcy-debt. But she faced every issue head on. It has been The Worst Year Ever for the whole family, especially as I moved back home not so long ago in a pay-rent-or-give-it-a-go-as-a-writer-with-no-overheads initiative. Hence, following them to our New Life in the Peak District.

But with a mother like I have got, and the example she sets to me with her every move, I wouldn't rather be anywhere else.

Except maybe the Maldives.

Monday, 10 March 2008

Thumb and Forefinger

In the living room this morning I experienced one of those lazy Sunday morning am-I-really-awake-or-am-I-having-some-sort-of-freakish-dream moments over my Krispies when I bore witness to Craig David, of making-love-everyday-but-Sunday fame, creating the base for a Millionaire Shortbread on national television. Not even an obscure freeview channel, but proper, grown-up, Normal Telly.

I suppose for those of us whom presumed that the only reason Mr. David paused for breath and forsook yet another buxom squeeze on the day of the Sabbath was to go to church and repent for aforementioned illicitliaisons (after all, you can go out wearing white, but you will only come home wearing black where he is involved...) were quite surprised when it transpired that the saucy little love-making machine actually gets down and dirty with bakery items on the Christian holy day. Tasty.

So in the spirit of the programme, I too indulged in some kitchen antics today, inspired by the antics of Craig to learn how to make pastry. Mouthwatering, buttery, flaky to the touch pop it on your pie pastry. It was all that rubbing between the thumb and forefinger in a light but bracing manner that persuaded me.

In light of The Affair dad took it upon himself to undertake my mission to puff-dom (being his Straight Child this was particularly exciting) as his own by sitting reading The Sunday Times in his favourite armchair chair and yelling through instructions to a very frustrated, purple faced and flour speckled me in the kitchen. Particularlyhelpful, if you make allowances for the fact that my only distraction from all the kneading and rubbing and flour-sprinkling was then an overwhelming urge to twollop him one with my rolling pin.

The highlight of the cookery session, which lasted all of of twenty minutes (is that all? Can we make something else now? Why is there such a mess?) was replicating the thumb and forefinger rubbing in front of my nipples a la Nigella Lawson on latest cookery series. Dad didn't find that part funny. Prude.

So, maybe on Monday I'll google a new recipe for pastry-filling, and on Tuesday buy the ingredients... and then find some fillings for my pies on Wednesday... and Thursday... and Friday... you get the picture.