Hoist by my own summer petard

14 March

My iPhone has a speaker button on it, which means that I don’t always have to put it to my ear. If I like, I can just leave it on the desk and shout at it. Apparently that’s what people do.

But it’s not something I really like doing because I don’t altogether trust it. So I try it out with Mr Young this morning when he rings me to let me know what time he’ll be home.

We have a somewhat stilted conversation because I’m not really paying attention to what he’s saying; I’m too busy wondering if I’ve got the volume right.

“Are you all right?” he says, his disembodied voice coming from somewhere (where though? I still haven’t worked it out. It’s like magic) in my phone.

“Yes,” I whisper. “Why?”

“Hello?” he says, “Are you still there?”

“Yes,” I shout.

“Oh,” he says. “It’s just that you sound a bit distant.”

“Do you mean literally or metaphorically?” I ask.

“Well, both, come to think of it,” he says.

I press the speaker button and go back to normal phone mode.

“Is that better?” I ask.

“Oh yes,” he says. “You’ve stopped shouting now.”

“I was on speaker phone before,” I tell him.

“Ah, I see” he says. “You haven’t really got the hang of it yet, have you?”

He sounds irritatingly smug.

Mr Young and technology are like the nerdy best friends who sit together at the front of the class.

18 March

Mother’s Day – as usual I get a ‘surprise’ breakfast in bed from Lucy and Harriet (Tom is in Bristol; just as well, as his last MD breakfast was a raw ‘boiled egg’. Although that’s a bit unfair. He was only seven at the time.)

I say ‘surprise’ partly because I’m in a 'quotes' sort of mood, and also because it’s not really a ‘surprise’ as I’m already sitting up in bed in my best 'silk' dressing gown awaiting my special MD tray when they come in.

I have daffodils (in a vase, not to eat. Like I say, Tom isn’t here this year), and French toast with fresh strawberries and blueberries, plus orange juice and coffee in a cafetiere.


After lunch, we go over to see my own mother. Harry has made her a Victoria sponge with fresh cream and blueberries. It is a thing of beauty on its glass cake stand. Lucy drives, and I sit in the back with the cake next to me so I can hold on to it during the journey.

Unfortunately, I forget as we negotiate a roundabout, and the cake lurches sideways; icing sugar scatters, in a rather beautiful pattern, across the seat, and a lone blueberry performs a graceful arc, then disappears.

When we arrive at my parents’ house, Lucy notices her freshly decorated back seat.

“Mum!” she shouts. “Look at that mess!”

“It’s only icing sugar. It’ll wipe off,” I say, soothingly.

I don’t like to tell her about the fugitive blueberry that has presumably fallen down the seatbelt hole. Do blueberries rot in an offensive way? Hopefully, even if they do, that new car smell will cover it.

We find a spare blueberry in the fridge at my parent’s house, so symmetry is restored to the decoration, even if the icing sugar covering is a bit sparse.

Ideally, I’d like to end this entry with a charming analogy about mothers and icing sugar, i.e. a mother’s love is like the icing sugar on the cake of childhood, but even I’m nauseated by this and I usually love a good analogy.

As far as I’m concerned, they’re right up there with 'quotes'.

20 March

The sun has started shining which means I am due for my annual attempt to cross my Wardrobe Rubicon.

I have a plan, which on paper is very clever; as soon as it starts to get cold – around September time – I get out my Winter Clothes. As soon as it starts to get warm – around now-ish – I get out my Summer Clothes. Doesn’t it sound brilliant? Doesn’t it sound like something that would make Gok squeal You go, girlfriend!

It’s really not. Really, really not. Basically my grand Seasonal Wardrobe Rotational System is two grubby plastic boxes left over from a long-ago Sainsbury’s online shop – see? Even Sainsbury’s didn’t want them – stuffed full of t-shirts and sandals, with a hopeful couple of too-small pairs of jeans just in case I miraculously managed to lose weight during the winter months. (Yes, that’s right – those winter months that involve those notoriously low-calorie festive celebrations. This is the sort of fantasy world I live in.)

There’s no neat folding involved. No tissue paper and lavender bags. Just sad little bundles of creased material and sandals with broken straps. It’s so depressing.

Anyway, the sun’s been shining for a few days now, and so I’m going to have to ask Mr Young to get the boxes down from the top of my wardrobe so I can take out all the little creased bundles and stuff in all my winter clothes instead.

Naturally, as soon as I do this, the sun will stop shining, early morning frost will appear, and weather forecasters everywhere will be scratching their heads over the mysterious drop in temperature. It happens every year. It’s the Seasonal Wardrobe Rotational System syndrome.

Damn my own organisational skills and their fiendish effect on global warming. I am hoist by my own petard.

21 March

Lucy’s new car is distinctively very small, red and shiny. Over-excited by having a daughter who can drive me about, I ask her to take me on the weekly gin run to the corner shop this evening (only an inch left in the Gordon’s bottle – if that isn’t a household in potential crisis, I don’t know what is), and rush across the road to get into the passenger side of her very small, red and shiny car.

“That’s not my car, Mum!” she calls from further down the road, getting into her actual very small, red and shiny car.

Not so distinctive after all, then.

I have the same trouble with Mr Young’s car, which is one of those silver four-wheel drives that populate carparks everywhere. Many’s the time I’ve waited patiently by the passenger door of our car, only to have him call crossly at me from three rows away.

“It’s nothing like mine!” he’ll say. “Look at it!”

It is, though. It’s big and silver with four wheels.


22 March

As Harry is home for the Easter holidays, the house is getting a spring clean. Not because I’m forcing her to do this – oh dear me, no!

It’s because she loves cleaning and tidying. This housework gene did not come from me, much as I’d like to claim the credit. This is an entirely mutant gene (contrived little joke here about mutant jeans being the ones you can’t get past your knees? No, maybe not.).

So far, she has re-organised the basement, and plans to do the kitchen next.

For the next few weeks, therefore, I have a cleaner and a chauffeur. This ought to be where I find a comfortable chaise longue and hire a bronzed grape-peeling attendant.

But it’s going to have to wait until I sort out the Seasonal Wardrobe Rotational System crisis. Once again, I am forced to acknowledge the hoisting of myself by my own petard. Which comes from Hamlet, apparently, and means I’ve blown myself up with my own bomb.

Also, apparently, petard is derived from the French word for breaking wind. So I guess, this means that my SWRS is a means of exploding myself with my own fart.

Is this literary research a pathetic attempt at procrastination? I think so. Or do I?

I’ll muse on that while I just recline on my chaise longue…