Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Size does matter...

I fear my blogs are way too long.

Monday, 29 December 2008

Happy Monday

Hurtling through the Cornish lanes this afternoon, late for an optician's appointment and screaming along to 'Livin' on a Prayer', I heard a thunk. Definitely metallic and coming from the rear of my old, yet trusty Fiesta. I pulled over, leapt out, and retrieved my exhaust from the middle of the road. Bugger.

I was rescued by my friend (yes, I do have one...) and delivered, in true Superwoman style, to keep my appointment at Specsavers. If you were in Falmouth High Street this afternoon and saw a distraught woman being thrown from a moving car, fear not; I'm bruised, but still alive.

My optician said: "Okay, let me get this straight: you're studying for an MA, bringing up two teenagers on your own, and you spend most nights falling asleep at the laptop. You've just handed in three massive portfolios, organised Christmas and lost the exhaust on your car. And you claim to be suffering from frequent unexplained headaches?"

I tried to explain that the exhaust wasn't technically lost, as I knew where it was, but she'd lost interest by this point.

Suffice to say, my gorgeous friend and I spent a jolly hour trying on new specs and generally shocking the sombre, male staff:

"What about these lime-green glasses? Do I look shaggable in these?"

We chose a sexy red pair, reminiscent of an old TV advert: a secretary sits being her beech-pannelled desk straightening a pile of documents. The rest of her workspace is clear. She stands up and smoothes out the non-existant creases in her tailored grey skirt. The crisp, white blouse she's wearing was freshly ironed that morning. She glides forwards and slides her bottom onto the corner of the desk. She reveals long, smooth-skinned legs. As she leans forwards, there's a glimpse of red lace, a shadow between her creamy breasts. She lowers her head slightly and gazes over the top of her red, narrow-framed glasses. Tilting her head slowly, she pouts at the camera. This is one hot momma.

Well, those are my glasses! I can't do much about the boobs, but by God, I'll be practising the faces. Watch out, boys - grrr!

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Almost definately completely unsure...

My self-imposed deadline is up: I must now definitely decide my options for next term. I say definitely because I've made seventeen different decisions already this holiday, and then changed my mind...

I'm not completely thrashing about naked in the paddling pool; I've almost definitely dismissed Script and Business Writing, so that just leaves three choices to be funnelled into two: Novel, Non-Fiction and Features.

Crafting the Great British Novel has been my secret yearning since discovering Janet and John on a faded, vomit-stained carpet in infant school. Just to clarify: I was on the carpet, not Janet and John - I think I may be dangling my modifiers or misplacing my participles, but it's late, so please forgive me; you know what I mean.

Anyway, a semi-okay novel bearing my name would be cool, but, alas, unlikely; statistically speaking, the chances of being published are as slim as a coke-snorting stick-insect.

Non-Fiction is a different kettle of water; if you have a book idea and you want your name on an uncreased virgin spine, then this is your pathway to publication. Unfortunately, the one idea I managed to squeeze out, after hours of pulling constipated faces, has already been done...

Writing Features is my third possible choice. I've left this one til the end because I don't really know what to say about it - possibly because it's such a huge and varied subject area, or possibly because I actually missed the introductory session last term and I really don't know what to say about it...

To do, or not to do: that is the question...

Friday, 19 December 2008

It's all in the timing...

It's hard enough to drag my sorry arse out of bed when the sun is shining, but it's damned-near impossible to do in the middle of a December night. My alarm this 'morning', reverberating round the house like an air-raid siren, almost sent me into cardiac arrest; the time was five-thirty, and even the sparrows were still tucked up their sock-lined nests. I made the tea, let the dog out and even smoked a ciggie before I could persuade my eyes to open.

And the reason for this early escapade? Was I trying to smuggle a virile young man out of the house before the kids woke up? Oh, if only... No, my eldest son was desperate to squeeze in a coffee before leaving for an operation at Treliske.

Hospitals are a fantastic source of amusement (if you're not the one going under the meat cleaver, of course). One patient in particular had us lolling (anglicized verb derived from Latin textspeak LOL; it means to laugh heartily). He strode through the corridors, chest puffed forwards, shoulders back, arms swinging. You couldn't help be impressed until you spotted his flabby, lard-arse bouncing out of his open-backed hospital gown.

Anyway, I digress: an hour had passed and Matt was quietly awaiting the pre-med. We'd seen the nurse, the consultant and the anaesthetist. The forms had been signed. A fetching red name tag was adorning my son's wrist and the Magic Cream was busy numbing the backs of his hands.
All was quiet except for the occasional flap-flap/giggle-snort as Peek-a-Boo Man paced by.

A gravelly, yet vaguely recognisable male voice suddenly said:

"Mum, I dink I'm darting a dold."

I swung around and there was my boy, wet-nosed, eyes glazed and puffy.
"You can't be starting a cold! You're having a nose operation in -" I checked the clock, " half an hour! You won't be able to blow your nose for a week!"

My son lowered his gaze, fiddled with his sodden shred of tissue, "Dan't help it."

The consultant was re-called. He laughed - laughed! and said no problem - no problem? We should just re-book for the spring.

This is the second attempt at having this operation done; the last time, we had to cancel because Matt was laid out with the flu. D'you ever get the feeling that somebody up there is having a laugh?

Monday, 15 December 2008

I blame Aristotle.

Something weird is occurring; I seem to be developing an attitude. And not a pretty one at that. You see, all my life I've been a People-Pleaser. If anybody needs anything doing, I'll oblige:

"Yes, of course I'll have your child overnight/sort out your problems/walk your dog/clean your house/lend you money/give you sound advice." And, what's more, I'll put myself out and manage it all with a smile on my face. I'm just a single mum: I have nothing better to do, after all.

Last week, I took my boys for pizza. We waited half an hour for the wrong order, nobody would serve us drinks, and the waitress became shirty when I followed her around trying to arrange desserts. The old me would have smiled, "Oh, it's okay. Don't worry. I can see you're busy."

The new me stomped across to the Manager and let rip about the ineptitude of his staff and establishment:
"I'm so sorry, Madam; the college across the road is having an Open Evening. The extra customers have taken us by surprise."
"That is hardly my problem, nor a surprise; the Open Evening is an annual event. After ten years' of trading opposite the college, you should have the forethought to liase with them, and staff these premises accordingly."
My kids were glued to their seats, eyebrows in their hairlines and eyes zinging around on springs.

It's the closest I've ever come to having a tantrum, and boy, was it fun.

Friday, 12 December 2008

Yippee doo dah!

It's done!! The massive portfolios, which I thought I was gonna die writing, have been handed in! On time! How's that for a bargain? Fifteen thousand words of dialogue, argument and analysis. For a whole week, I sat at the laptop typing, deleting and printing. I spilt coffee, lost computer files and swore. Loudly. I re-typed, re-edited and re-printed.

I spent three days wearing the same pyjamas, and even by my scuzzy standards, that's gross. God alone knows why I was even in pyjamas; I had no time to sleep.

I was under no illusions in September; I knew this course was gonna be tough, but I didn't imagine it was gonna be such such a ballbreaker. And I'm not even a bloke.

I can honestly say that this is the hardest thing I have ever done -and we've only just finished one term! I'll be on my knees, and the kids'll be in care by next September...

Somebody remind me: why am I doing this course?

Thursday, 11 December 2008

The Dating Game

This follows on quite nicely from yesterday, I feel. Now, I've been single for a while. I'm independent and relatively competent. I have my own power tools. I do my own DIY. Usually with a slight Sara-esque quality, but hey! My bookshelves have character; they remind me of slightly pissed, jolly old men as they lilt slightly to the side. And I like wonky. Honestly.

So I don't actually need a man, but I would quite like one. Once a week for a couple of hours would suit me just fine. Oh, to be able to say: "Darling! It's your turn to put the bins out!" or "Sweetheart! Pop up into the attic and find the Christmas tree!" or "Beloved! Mow the lawn!"
I'm not mean; I wouldn't make him do everything, just the jobs I hate. It could even be two men on a job share - I'm not fussy, you know.

But men don't tend to do things for nothing; they want things in return. In my case, it's usually a Mummy figure. For some weird reason, I seem to attract men with deep-rooted psychological problems: men who need a Mom to chase the bogeyman away. It must be me; I must be giving off some bizarre vibe, but I'll be buggered if I know what it is, or how to switch it off.

Yep! Strange men and dogs - they love me. And that's why I'll be staying single...

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

The camera never lies...or does it?

For those of you that know me, you're probably wondering about the photo... I can hear you muttering, 'Who's that babe? Looks nothing like the old dog I was chatting to yesterday...'
Well, it is me, or more accurately, it was me. Five years ago.

My friend Sue and I were both going through divorces at the time and we decided to treat ourselves to a girlie make-over and photography session. Bit like therapy, but with feather boas...

We had a superb evening and came away with a new-found confidence: 'We are still gorgeous; we will shag again.' So much so, that we found ourselves seduced into buying super-duper, de-luxe photo portfolios. At super-duper, de-luxe prices...

A week later, mine arrived and I could hardly contain the excitement as I tore off the wrapping and yanked at the protective cardboard box. I'm positive I was drooling a little as I lifted the leather flaps.


Our wonderfully tasteful, ever-so-much-fun, confidence-boosting photos were fantastic. If we'd been lesbians wanting a loving reminder of our meaningful relationship. But we weren't. And we didn't.

Now admittedly, we knew we were taking our shirts off, slipping down our bra straps, and posing with silk drapes tucked under our armpits, but neither of us realised how kinky it would actually look.

Not exactly the kind of thing I could upload onto a dating site, now, is it?

Sunday, 7 December 2008

I'm even starting to hate the dog...

"Mum, where's my Tae-Kwon-Do kit?"
"Can you help me with my homework, Mum?"
"Sar, can you come help me clean my house?"
"Can I borrow your strimmer?
"When you go shopping, can you pick me up some stuff?"
"Mum, my trousers need mending."
"I need some money for Christmas dinner tomorrow!"
"Can I borrow your car, Sar?"
"Is my PE kit clean; I need it for tomorrow."
"Can you pick me up from basketball tonight, Mum?"
"Mum, can Joe stay over at the weekend?"
"Mum, will you buy me some beer?"

Nooooooooooo! Bugger off! Leave me alone! I have coursework to do!

Everybody wants something from me. Mostly at the same time. It's driving me insane.

Even the bloody dog hassles me for stuff; three times a day, he moans and whimpers, and plonks his head in my lap and nudges my hand until I give-in and take him out for a w-a-l-k. Every time I go into the utility room, he follows me and blocks the route back into the kitchen. As I try to skirt around him, he dodges in my way again. I walk around him on the other side, and yep! you guessed it; he's under my feet again. Ever tried playing dodgeball with a bloody dog? And the reason for this impromptu sidestep? Doggy biscuits. This is a canine way of saying, 'This is where you keep my grub - where's my Bonio? Woof! Slobber! Wag! Biscuits!'

Doesn't sound too bad, I grant you, but I visit the utility room approximately sixty-four times a day.

Why can't they just leave me alone?

Friday, 5 December 2008

The Joy of Kids

My sixteen year-old son wanted a moped for his birthday. I hate bikes with a passion; they are unsafe blah blah. My son wanted independence blah blah. You know all the arguments, I'm sure. So, we compromised: he got his moped; I got a stomach ulcer.

Last night, he went to a mate's house. "I'll be home by ten, at the latest."

At five past ten, I was clock-watching. At ten past ten, I was imagining all the reasons why he might be late: bike trouble; abduction by aliens; dead in a ditch. At a quarter past ten, I was ready to call out the paramedics (for me). So, I broke the cardinal 'don't-suffocate-me' rule, and I rang him.

"Where are you?"
"Still at Aiden's house. Why?"
"Because it's gone ten o'clock. And you're not home. Have you any idea what that's doing to my blood pressure?"
"Oh, God. Sorry. We got into this deep conversation about parents, and I was just telling Aiden what a wonderful Mum you are. Are you very angry?"
"Well...no...I can't be now, can I?"

You see, contrary to popular belief (and some wise-assed medical myth) the umbilical cord is never actually severed. It just stretches. A lot. Mums feel everything their child feels. Honestly. Their pain is your pain; their misery is your misery; their nits are their own, however. I don't know if Dads feel this connection; I've never known one stay around long enough to ask.

So, we stress about our kids; we experience their anguish; we take the backlash when they've just been dumped, or bullied, or annoyed. What do Mums get out of this deal, I hear you wonder? That's easy: grey hair, frown-lines and a nervous disposition.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Getting Laid...

Oh, the ongoing saga of my non-functional heating system...I won't bore you with (all) the tedious details, but a different engineer turned up at half-past six last night, looked through the holes in the floorboards, and shook his head.

"Sorry, love. I'll need to lift loads more floorboards, and it's too late to do it tonight. I'll be back first thing in the morning!"

Now, where have I heard that before?

By half past ten this morning, I had three upstairs rooms with walls, but no floorboards; they were all stacked on the landing. The engineer shook his head (again) and scratched his chin.

"Sorry, love, but I don't think this is a heating problem; I think it's the bath that's leaking. I'll put the floorboards back; you ring for a plumber."

"You are a bloody plumber! And you are not leaving this house until you find that bastard leak!"

He gave me a look, scratched his bum, and carried on searching.

By one o'clock, I had heating. There was a leak. In the original cupboard.

By late afternoon, I went upstairs to change into a bikini; I had heating and boy was I gonna enjoy it. I opened the bedroom door. And swore. Loudly. The laminate flooring, which I had spent most of the summer laying, was in pieces spread out across the floor. I am tempted to get him back to 'make good' the damage, but how many days will I waste sitting inside waiting for him to return? I am old; I probably don't have that many days left...

I gingerly lifted a laminate-puzzle piece, and peeked inderneath. Well, at least he had put the floorboards back...

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

It's a Joke!

Have you heard about the new sexual position featured in the Kama Sutra? It's called the Plumber's Position: you wait in all bloody day, and no bugger comes.

I returned home yesterday evening to find water pissing through the living-room ceiling. After grabbing towels and pans, I figured the leak was spurting from a heating pipe, and rang for an engineer. He eventually arrived - mobile phone pressed against his ear obviously placating an irate wife or girlfriend - emptied an upstairs cupboard, literally tore up some floorboards, and decided the problem couldn't be fixed until tomorrow (today). He turned off the boiler, drained the pipes and drank his coffee. "I'll be back first thing in the morning, love."

It's now half past four in the afternoon, and yep! you've got it: no bugger came.

We've been twenty-one hours without heat or hot water. I am not a happy bunny. The house is arctic, and my hair is lank. Evert time I ring, the receptionist repeats the mantra, "He's on his way, love."

If he isn't here by five o'clock, he'll be drinking his bloody coffee through a straw. From a hospital bed.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

shh! I have a secret...

Yes, for years, i have engaged in a dirty, sordid activity; I have been ashamed about my behaviour, and have hidden it furtively. Well, the time has come when I need to come clean, and admit to my addiction: my name is Sara and I'm a fan of Chick-lit. There, I've said it aloud. What? No lightening bolts? No angry mob outside my door? How disappointing...

Now, in the great scheme of literary works, Chick-lit is right at the bottom of the pecking order; I think it rates slightly higher than a prostitute's phone number scribbled on a grubby table napkin, but I'm not entirely sure. It's one of those phrases that seems to send perfectly normal people into a state of animated distress: "Me? No! Christ! Never! Bloody hell! No!"

My argument is this: sometimes, you want to put on a posh, designer dress, meet your stockbroking buddies, and book a supper table at an exclusive restaurant. Sometimes, it's life-enriching to discuss art, and attempt to identify the various nuances of flavour in your coq au vin.
And sometimes, you just want egg and chips in front of the telly.

Chick-lit is exactly that: egg and chips in front of the telly. It's easy; it's quick; it's comforting.
Never before, in the history of literary fiction, has a heroine been able to 'pull a face' or 'roll her eyes' with such meaning. I just love it. And as the pace of life increases, more people will be turning to light fiction for escapism and relaxation. These days, nobody has the time nor the headspace to labour through Hard Times.

I urge you all: come out of the closets; stand tall; be proud. March with me, Chick-litters; together we will change the world.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Well, you'll be pleased to know that the dreaded chest infection turned out to be strained muscles due to too much coughing. Not too embarrassing, then...
My work is up to date - finished at two o'clock this morning. How's that for dedication? Two minor problems remain, however... I am sooo cross-eyed with sleepiness today that I can't make conversation; even the most mundane, 'hello! how are you, today?' exceeds my energy levels. I can only nod or shake my weary head, and hope to God that I'm not agreeing to anything I might later regret...
The second problem is, of course, that my 'up to date' status has now expired; eight pages (the next four story stages) are awaiting my eager attention. Sigh. It was great while it lasted...

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Misery, woe and essays

Not a great way to start my blogging introduction, but I am ill; I have some Godawful flu-like virus, and I feel like shite. My lungs are screaming for antibiotics, and I just want to cry.
I can't even take to my bed and feebly cry out, "Tea...Mummy needs fluids" because
a)my teenage sons wouldn't hear my croaks above the blasting of Metallica coming from their room, and
b) I have stories to write. Stories that should have been finished by now, I might add. Stories that live in my head but refuse to be transmitted to paper.
Feeling sorry for me yet? Damn!
We have a twelve point story structure to follow, and I need to compose parts one and two. Now. I have the plan, and the characters. I can even hear the dialogue in the head, but actually that could just be the result of a high temperature... yet the words won't come.
I give up; I'm going back to bed, pulling the duvet over my head and refusing to move until Friday. I think I may have man-flu...