Well, as far as excuses for not keeping up with a diary, this is a bloody good one. I didn’t tell you about the pregnancy, and the agonizing labour I had to endure, and finally, the beautiful new baby girl I’ve been fully occupied with over the last two months.
Yes, Nancy has been very distracting indeed. I’ve barely had time to think, let alone stop complete strangers in Waitrose to ask them where the soya sauce is just so that I can show them pictures of my new grand-daughter.
Mr Young is just as smitten and has acquired a whole new facial expression whenever Nancy arrives that involves a very special crinkly soft smile, and an actual Grandpa twinkle.
He has never had a Mrs Young twinkle. Never.
Harry and Jonny are proving to be extremely skilled as parents, and Nancy is already sleeping at all the right times and doing all the things a baby should be doing. Harry is even managing to dress herself, clean her home, cook meals, shop and finish entire sentences on a daily basis, which I am very impressed by, because it took me a good six months to achieve that after Lucy was born.
Come to think of it, I still struggle to do most of those things on a daily basis.
Determined not to be outdone on the skilled parenting/grandparenting front, I have sent off for two second-hand books on how to be a brilliant Granny from Amazon.
However, although there’s plenty of (slightly grubby - tear-stains? banana? red wine? chocolate? poo?) pages in each book, the gist of both is simply a stern message that a Granny should never interfere and a reminder of the words to a lot of nursery rhymes, none of which I ever remember singing to any of my children.
We mostly jumped up and down a lot to Madonna and Elton John, and even then I forgot most of the words.
Sorry Elton. Sorry Madge.
In other news, Mr Young has finally started renovating the bathroom.
As I have explained in an earlier entry – because it is a subject close to my heart, although no one else’s - it's a sad old thing, with the yawning gaps between grout and tiles that are so scarily wide it’s hard to relax during a candlelit bath in case a skeletal hand emerges accompanied by a ghostly cackle.
And then there’s the ever-expanding crack in the bath panel which Mr Young had to wrench apart fifteen years ago in order to re-attach the overflow pipe after a spectacular leak brought the kitchen ceiling crashing down. Ah, such fond memories! Such a huge increase in our insurance premiums!
The old bath is now out and to my great surprise, has a name written in large capitals on its belly. (Belly seems appropriate to me, although I don’t suppose it’s a plumbing term.)
Yes, apparently, our bath is called Brian Hill.
I’m not stupid. Obviously, I know he's not really. I know that this just means our bath was earmarked for delivery to a Mr Brian Hill, who presumably once lived in our house. However, once Mr Young removes the panel, and this name is revealed – in the same way that a field is ploughed and an old burial site discovered – I feel a quite emotional attachment.
Currently, Brian is staying in the spare room until he goes to his final resting place. On a skip. His replacement, the usurper, is skulking in a cardboard box downstairs in the front room. I feel so guilty now about the fancy new central tap arrangement and the stylish square corners. At least the new bath doesn’t have a name.
(If it did, it would probably be Sebastian, or Tarquin.)
I’m going to do my best to form no emotional attachment whatsoever with this new bath.
Or maybe I could just light a candle in honour of Brian.
I think that would be enough.
In other other news, we are in Paris for the World Cup, by remarkable coincidence, and had been researching English bars where we can watch the final in case…just in case…
Never mind. It’s the next best thing to actually be in the capital city of the country in the final of the World Cup, and we are both practically French by the time the final whistle goes.
I don’t exactly know the words to La Marseillaise, but I know the melody and I la-la-la along just as enthusiastically as I did when I was bouncing Lucy, Tom and Harry around to Crocodile Rock.
And this time I’ve got red, white and blue stripes painted on my face thanks to our waiter, who has also given Mr Young some special French World Cup sunglasses to wear.
It’s all very noisy and very Gallic – people are shaking hands instead of high-fiving, and blowing horns and waving flags.
We send everyone a video of ourselves and the crowd celebrating when it’s all over.
“I bet mum’s crying,” Harry texts back, which is a bit unfair. Even though I am.
Come on, it’s an historic moment!
It would have been better if England had been playing though. Even if we’d had to hide away in a British bar somewhere.
In other other other news, my fan base is clamouring for news of the release of my next book; Yesterday Upon the Stair. Apparently, she can’t wait to read it. And I have to say, it is pretty good. So, in due course, I’m going to be publishing it on Amazon, once I’ve got a cover I’m happy with.
I’ve also got a collection of short stories, which, I have to say, are also pretty good. (My goodness, ego, you’re very full of yourself today, aren’t you? Someone clearly had their Weetabix this morning.)
Personally, I like reading short stories; like Forrest says, “you never know what you’re gonna get”.
But some people like to start at the beginning, get to know their characters, go through all the oohs and ahhs and well-who’d-have-thought-it? of a full-length novel and would never touch a short story.
So if anyone’s got a suggestion, email me at email@example.com – it would be most warmly received.
I am assuming, anyway. Unless the suggestions are of a non-constructive nature, in which case, probably not so warmly. More on the cool side, edging towards cold, frosty, icy. There’s a whole Thesaurus out there, let’s face it.
In other other other other news… no, I’m KIDDING! I’m a brand new Granny, so of course I’m going to talk about Nancy again!
She’s probably learned to do something amazing just while I’ve been writing this sentence. Like smile, or hold up her head, or develop another dimple or chin. That’s what babies do.
They're not like us, scattering perfectly good brain cells to the wind and sacrificing skin to the God of Gravity.
Ruby is slightly puzzled and protective, and definitely curious. There’s a new member of the clan, but it’s the same size as her so she’s not sure whether she’s boss of it or it’s the other way round yet, so she’s waiting for guidance, and is spending most of her time looking out for dangerous pigeons whenever Harry feeds Nancy.
Nowadays, all the stuff around for babies is so much better in every way.
For example, I had three children under four, and my only means of transporting them was via a wayward double buggy with a frame that was, I believe, constructed entirely out of metal tubes reinforced with lead.
It had cunningly designed brackets that locked into place until they decided not to, on a whim, usually half-way round Sainsbury’s which always resulted in concertina-ing
two wailing infants stiffly side by side, while Lucy ran off and helped herself to Smarties, and disapproving customers gathered to mutter about social services.
Harry and Jonny have a buggy that could have come out of Mary Poppin’s bag. It does everything except the ironing; even then, if I asked really nicely, I expect it could probably flatten out a couple of tea towels without too much trouble.
It’s a pram, and a car seat, and it faces front and back, and it’s a buggy, and it tilts up and down, and there’s a handy rack at the bottom, and a brake, and it’s just so light-weight! I can push it with one finger!
And clothes? Don’t get me started. Oh, too late, here I go... Those ghastly Ladybird and M&S ‘fashion’ ranges. My children have been scarred for life; they look at old photos now and then at me with accusing eyes, but it wasn’t my fault, kids. It really wasn’t. That’s all we had, in those days. It honestly was.
Yes, I admit, me grinning away in the background with my shoulder pads and perm didn’t help matters, but then that was a cross that every young mother had to bear in those days, so I’ve got my own emotional traumas to cope with, ok?
Mr Young is away in Jersey at the moment on a sales trip. Harry has taken Nancy to Baby Sensory (Nancy has a very full social life; baby massage, swimming, beach trips, coffee mornings, play dates. I think my three just stared at the ceiling until they were old enough to go to Mothers and Toddlers.)
So it’s there's only me and Ruby, and we’re bored and hot.
I say to Ruby; “Don’t tell Daddy, but I’m spending the night with Brian in the spare room.”
Ruby looks baffled (her default expression) which I pretend is outrage to amuse myself.
I’m going to miss Brian when he’s gone.