Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Home is where the Gin&Tonic* is


(*There are no hearths in Singapore.  But there ARE gin&tonics, and balmy nights in which to enjoy them...)

The children went back to school today – happy, happy days – and so normality has returned.  Unfortunately, *my* normality is rather more stressy than your average lounge-about-at-home person’s, and my inability to properly set an alarm clock didn’t help get the new school year off to the best start.  GETUPGETUPGETUP, interspersed with magnificent amounts of headless-chicken behaviour, and then discovering that the Girl had gone back to bed AND gone back to sleep… I’m getting a bit stressy just thinking about it.  But all’s well that ends well  (except, or course, when it doesn’t end well, but with a phone call from the nurse’s office and a request to come collect your child and his headache from school…  Deep breaths, tomorrow is another (child-free, hurrah) day.) 

This must mean, of course, that we all survived the hideous, gruesome flight home, with its many transfers and few opportunities to sleep. I had bought these blow-up-cube things which you stick in the space in front of your kids’ seat – they’re called First Class Kids, which even my children scoffed  at (particularly the Boy – “That is meant to be a first class seat?”) – and you look like a total wally as you inflate it from the overhead air vents, but! They were pretty much fabulous and the children stretched and slept and only kicked and punched each other (and me) occasionally, which frankly, is akin to First Class  as far as I’m concerned. (No such stretching or sleeping for me, but I had the joy of telling the bitch air hostess that one of my children had pissed the seat, and the consequent look on her face had me chuckling all the way through immigration.) (No, I haven’t been paid by the blowy-uppy-cube people, alas, but if they want to send me some cash, I have spent about $500 on school-uniformy stuff today – school uniformy stuff which is in addition to the entire school uniforms I bought before we went away) so any donations very welcome.)

Speaking about being fleeced, I got nagged into bringing the ungrateful offspring to Kidzania the other day (we still had ELEVEN days of school holidays left when we got back).  If you’re ignorant of these things – and for your own sanity I hope you are -  Kidzania is a big indoor play area, where kids get to play at being grown ups.  They open bank accounts and go work in photo-copying outlets or fast food joints in the hope that some day they might save enough money to bring their own kids to over-priced play areas.   It costs $58 PER CHILD to get in, and the best thing of all is that children under 8 are not allowed to go in alone, so you, the horrified parent, have to spend an extra $35 to accompany them.  For this you get… not a thing.  (Actually, that's not quite true.  There is a "Parents Only" room, where you can buy yourself the most miserable cup of tea imaginable for $4, and then sit with other ashen-faced parents, all wondering what they're going to have to sacrifice from next week's grocery-cart to pay for this lunacy.)  Apart from that designated Zone of Bewilderment, “Parents not allowed!” signs hang all over the place, so instead you stand alongside the 80-minute queue with your unmanageable almost-4 year old, while her older offspring race around shrieking and complaining about the queues.  Why are there queues?  Because, silly, only a handful of kids can work in 7 Eleven or Pizza Hut or the Strip Joint* at any one time, but – for reasons I still cannot fathom – about 128 continue to patiently line up outside,  desperation etched on their teeny hopeful faces. Throw in the Singaporean penchant for rules and inflexibility (“Queue BEHIND the line!” “CANNOT leave the queue!”  “CANNOT pee in the queue!” etc) and really, you have the makings of a particularly unpleasant day.  Bizzarely, however, the kids loved it – nothing gets them going like learning how baby formula is made (Yes!  I swear!) – and so now *I* am queuing to work in 7-Eleven to pay for the next promised visit.  (To balance this out, I dragged them to the island’s best value venue the next day, after which they all slept for about 15 hours.  THAT is my sort of place.)  

Right.  I must go eat dinner.  I will leave you with this, my favourite photo of, well if not all time, then definitely the summer. Where was it taken?  Why, at a bare-knuckle boxing match of course!  (Why, how do you spend your summer Sundays?)  Who is that screaming in the background (to the right of the referee)?  Why, the Girl of course – who, as my Textpat spouse put it so beautifully, “Looks like she’s about to jump in and rip that motherfucker’s head off herself.”  I love this photo.  It sums the Girl up so brilliantly.  (Incidentally, if Kidzania ever open a crowd-control unit – which surely they must – she would totally nail that job.)

(*There isn't really a strip joint.) 

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

10th Century Rape, Rats and Lezzer Shoes. (How was *your* summer?)

The thing about summer holidays is that WEEKS whizz by and suddenly it’s nearly Time To Go Home and you realise that the thing which has been niggling at your brain – apart from your children, who don’t so much niggle at it as CHEW AWAY AT IT DAY AND NIGHT – is that you haven’t updated your blog in months.  (Practically.)
So here, a précis.
Summer ups:
Fresh Irish air.  Although I’m the first to admit that there is a very fine line between fresh air and fucking freezing air.  (It’s a line I’ve been walking for 6 weeks now.)
Empty, windswept, beaches.  (Alas empty because rain is being swept along them by the wind.   Nothing however that an umbrella and a bonfire can’t sort.)
Friends, and their spare beds.  And their spare gin.  (Thank you all.)
Parents and sisters who swoop up children and mind them, without expecting too much anything in return. 
This book, which distracted me from London Shopping.
This conversation with the Boy, re Vikings:
“What is plundering?”
“Stealing everything you can.  Including people.”
“Really?  You can steal people? Why would you want to steal people?”
“For slaves.  You steal them then you own them.  But usually the Vikings only stole women.”
“Why?  Men would be much better slaves than women.”
“You think?  I think men would complain too much.  But they stole them to make them have their babies.”
“You mean they sexed them?”
“Yes.  They sexed them.”
“But the women didn’t want to be sexed!”
“No, they didn’t.”
“But how can you sex someone who doesn’t want to be sexed?”
“I suppose if you’re much bigger you just force yourself.”
“But... That’s terrible!  Why would you want to sex someone who doesn’t want it?”
“EXACTLY.”  
The Girl on roller skates.  A baby giraffe on ice. (Hilarious for me – for her, not so much.)
Summer downs:
FOUR WEEKS OF 24/7 CHILDCARE. (I did get a week alone in London, which redressed the imbalance somewhat, but next year I’m negotiating two weeks AND heavy-duty tranquilisers AND minimum wage.)
My sister’s dog – incredibly sweet and ADORED by the children, but once you’ve seen a creature gobble up a bowl of your child’s sick, you never quite see it in the same light again.
A migraine. On the Girl’s birthday.  (Thank you to my sister who rescued me from where I was kneeling in a puddle of my own tears, whispering at the children to pleasekeepthenoisedown, then helped me de-package the 27kgs of Cadbury’s assortment, light six candles, and call it a Birthday Party.)
Nits.  On the Girl’s birthday.  (Also On the Girl’s Head.) Discovered more or less at the exact time as I was thinking that I could FINALLY slope off to bed.  Instead I sloped to the shop, bought E100 of Agent Orange and spent the evening nuking the fuckers.
Rats.  Apparently we’re getting our money’s worth from the pest control people in Singapore.
Cats. I get daily updates from our helper about the latest feline frolics – none of them sweet or funny or amusing, WHICH WASN’T THE CAT-OWNERSHIP DEAL AT ALL.  Yesterday’s missive – “cats fighting with a stray in the kitchen, what should I do?”  (Tempted to say “lock the doors and leave them to it” but fear she might take me literally, and we’ll arrive home in a few days to a rancid smell and rotten clumps of fur wedging the kitchen door shut.)
Middle age.  This summer I found self gravitating towards hideous (BUT SO COMFY!  LIKE WALKING ON AIR!) granny sandals on at least three occasions.  (Ok. I didn’t so much gravitate towards them as actually buy them. I got home the first time and the Baby asked me if they belonged to our helper.  Which should have been the warning I needed, but did I heed it?  Did I hell.  (LIKE STEPPING IN TO A CLOUD! MY FEET SING FOR JOY!))
This Coming Thursday.  Which of course might not be a summer down, but I suspect the worst.  Me.  Three children.  Two 8-hour flights.  Back of the bus.  A four-hour layover at midnight.   
But!  I will not be downhearted.  I have my lezzer sandals to keep me strong, and cats and rats to look forward to.  

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

A Blanket of Vomit. (Or: Why you should always listen to your children.)

We made it to Ireland in one piece.  The first leg of the journey was as close to horror as you ever want to get – if you want nightmares (or to feel better about your own shit parenting life) have a look here;  I have vowed to never  speak of it again.  The second leg was fine(ish), however – apart from my leaving a bag in the terminal, and later leaving an iPad on the plane, both of which triggered major security alerts (“STEP OFF THE PLANE MA’AM”) and then we had 6 days of jetlag, which never sounds that bad, but OH CHRIST.  Despite all this, I spent the first couple of days here glowing somewhat with self-pride  - I managed three kids on an international flight ALONE – but that has now worn off, replaced by the exhaustion of domestic drudgery. (Cook, wipe, wash, launder, repeat.  It’s endless.  Just think of all the driving of my children around I could be doing!)    
However, I cleverly booked all the kids into various camps this week – because if I have to do endless cleaning, at least give me peace and quiet in which to do it – and off we set yesterday, and I dumped them, weeping and furious (them, not me – obviously) and went and had breakfast and fifteen mugs of tea, and bought some emergency winter clothes, and then it was pick-up.  Today I decided to forgo the breakfast and the fleeces, and maybe just have a walk through the glorious Dublin streets, soaking up the culture and the irreverence and the gorgeousness.  So obviously when the Baby was whingey this morning and announced she was feeling “a bit sickie” I totally ignored her because OBVIOUSLY SHE IS LYING. But guess what?  SHE WASN’T. I found this out when we were standing in the middle of the camp sports-hall and she vomited all over me – head to toe (literally;  my hair was soaked, and the vomit went all the way down my new hand-wash-only jumper, along my be-jeaned legs, into my fur-lined [now fur-clotted] boots.)  And I just stood there, surrounded by parents and coaches and children, all normal reactions (such as Run To The Bathroom, or at least Hold Her Away From Me) frozen.  And then she did it again, but this time INTO MY FACE (thence down the inside of my jumper, OHGOD) and all I could do was whimper HelpMeSomebody.  (Somebody was the Girl who fished out a few tissues from her pocket, bless her traumatised heart; everyone else stood staring, aghast – understandably.)  And then I carried our soaked selves to the car, where we sat in puddles of sick for another 50 minutes while I dropped the Boy to his camp (UGHTHESMELLTHESMELLI’MGOINGTOPUKE) and returned home.  Gone were all notions of walks and culture and gorgeousness, replaced by disgust and horror, and also disbelief that I used to wear a blanket of vomit quite regularly, and not want to scrub my skin with a brillo pad. 
And now it’s time for pick-up, and I suppose I really should wake the Baby up and take her manky clothes off her.  The thing is tho, the longer she wears them, the less laundry I have to do. Sometimes it’s the little things which make a summer holiday.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

In which I feel like St Francis of Assisi. Without the kindness bit.

Bumper animal edition today!

First, the death:  poor little Pink Red, the world’s most beloved hamster (for the first week, then ignored and subjected to much eye-rolling for the rest of his short life).  One minute he was racing around his cage, hanging upside from the bars as was his merry little wont, frolicking in recycled paper and droppings, the next... “Mummy, come quick, Pink Red is DYING!”  The Baby got it wrong, however; he wasn’t so much dying as quite dead.  That didn’t stop her from poking him and laughing and playing and fetching her dolls to line up and take a look;  nor did it stop me from being swayed by Facebook opinion that he was probably just pretending – apparently,  hamsters play possum (ironically enough) when under great stress.  Two points to note from this:  firstly, if it looks dead and smells dead (and has poo coming out of its bum and a glassy dead-eyed stare), it probably is dead.  Secondly:  if anyone or anything in my house gets to pretend to be dead because of stress, IT IS ME.  (I’m practising the glassy stare as we speak. The poo, not so much.)   Anyway, the Boy came off the school bus and was greeted with News Of The Death, and took it quite badly (poor Pink Red – his life of abandonment sandwiched between two bursts of intense masterly attention), and we had a funeral, and the Boy shed tears and had his own quiet half-hour of graveside contemplation.  (He also made a tombstone, spelling not only the deceased’s name, but his own, incorrectly. Which somehow feels fitting.)

Next up – monkeys!  Yes, my furry little garden-dwelling friends, the ones who spend most of their time working out how to dismember me.   The came a step closer to their goal yesterday when they CLIMBED INTO THE BOY’S BEDROOM.   I’d like to say that in the Fight or Flight event, I chose to fight – for myself, my children, the cats – but instead I started to shriek and shepherded all living things within arm’s reach into the nearest safe room.  Bear in mind that I hadn’t even seen the creatures;  I’d sent the Boy up to his room to fetch socks (Come ON!  You’re late! We’re late! GO!) and next thing I knew he was at the bottom of the stairs, sockless, and before I could even raise my voice he cut in with “I can’t get my socks because there are two monkeys in my room.”  Which, let me tell you, as excuses go is a pretty good one.   So I shrieked and shepherded, and shrieked some more, while our fearless helper bounded up the stairs and flung them both out the window by the power of her stare alone. (Or something. Anyway, she did what I didn’t, which was Rid The House of Monkeys.)

And THEN, as if that wasn’t enough drama / trauma for one day (the Boy can’t even speak of it;  all he’ll say is that “They just sat there.  Watching me.”) last night found me shoe-horned onto the kids’ $100 Ikea sofa watching some sort of crap on NetFlix when I noticed something saunter across the living room floor.  IT’S A RAT!  I screeched at the Man.  Don’t be ridiculous, it’s too big to be a rat, it was one of the cats, he scorned. 

Alas, I was right.  OH GOD. 

So I pegged it upstairs to get (a) the cats, and (b) the baseball bat, and both were equally ineffectual;  the baseball bat, because WHO KNEW rats were contortionists?  And the cats, because WHO KNEW they are such utter pansies when it comes to rodents?  They basically shrieked in fear and skiddadled back up the stairs, where, as far as I know, they have remained ever since.  Anyway, long story short, we got the rat out of the house, using a (bendy) broom handle and an open sliding doors, and that, as far as we were concerned, was the end of it.  (Apart from the lingering HORROR, obv.)  Until this morning, when the Girl skipped in at 720am and gleefully told me that “there’s something swimming in the pool”.... And OF COURSE it was the poor athletic rat who, we summise, had raced out of the house, full of Fear Of The (Bendy) Broom, straight into the pool, where he had swum for 9 hours straight.  And so, despite having tried to end his short disease-ridden life not half a day before, we rescued him.  And with a squeak  - Joy? Gratitude?  Fear of flying? - he soared through the air into the jungle.  (Where hopefully he’ll be eaten by the damn monkeys, thereby killing two pests with one stone.)

Next up:  The Trauma That Was The Apartment Handover.  (I’m telling you folks – it’s a laugh a minute here.)

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

A bag of hair, and other tales

It has been SO LONG since I posted a blog (on this site;  I’ve been religiously posting twice weekly  over here) that even my own father has commented on my absence.  (This is a man who has been known to distractedly eat a platter of chicken wings, and then remark they were “a bit chewy”; “Did you overcook them?”  Pause, to allow the full ramifications of his actions to settle, then:  “THEY WERE MEANT TO BE COOKED???”  So, you know, he’s not given to paying 100% attention to things.)   Anyway, I’m sorry.  Mea cupla etc.  Except not, actually *mea* culpa, but rather the culpa of life and house-moves and parenting small people, and a DEATH IN THE FAMILY. (More of which anon.)
So anyway.  Like long-distance flights with children and childbirth, I have put The Week From Hades into a closed part of my brain, and am struggling to remember anything more than the most horrific points.  It started off badly enough (which you can read about, concisely, here if you so desire) but then it just got worse and worse, and honestly I felt like I was losing my mind.  I recall thinking at one point (deliciously self-indulgently) “I’m not sure I can do this any more” – as if I was running back-to-back marathons (or even having to clean my own house, GOD FORBID.)  The movers were fairly inept, and there was much sitting around waiting for Lady to give them directions (“Maybe you could, you know, carry a few boxes out to the van?”), and when at 930pm they still hadn’t finished moving all the boxes into the new house, I may, just slightly, have gone a bit shouty and ordered them all to LEAVE NOW.  And so we (“we”, meaning the 3 children and I;  the Man was suffering his own sort of hell in a posh hotel in Japan.  “But I wish I was there helping you!”) all went to bed in my room, camping on whatever unpacked bit of cushioning we could find, and no one could sleep because of “the dark” and, later “the light” and, variously, “the quiet” and “the noise”, and there was much bed cushion-swapping, and they were a tired and cranky bunch the next day.  And I was a tired and cranky Lady who still had to give minute instructions to the unpackers (“JUST UNPACK FOR THE LOVE OF GOD”) and then, about 3,000 hours later, It. Was. Done.  (Well, sort of. In a not-really kind of way. But it’s as done as it’s going to be this side of the summer holidays (which have already kicked off for the Boy, and which see me, ALONE, dragging the three of them, ALONE, to Europe, in two weeks. ALONE.))
So.  Overall it’s fabulous to be in a house, with an upstairs and a garden and a back gate, and A POOL*.  The kids have about twenty things they can do at any one time, and if there is any bitching&moaning about Being Bored, the Bitcher&Moaner is sent to their room, which is upstairs, where bedrooms should be, and so we cannot hear a thing.  There is outside seating (with overhead fans which sound as if they are about to break free and decapitate us) and a playroom and our bedroom is big enough to swing both cats (if they ever deign to come out from under my bathroom sink, where they took up residence on day one, and have barely left. They did venture out to the garden one morning last week, but one of them met the neighbourhood bully, which scared the shit out of her (literally) and the other ate a lizard and spent the rest of the day vomiting.  So both seem to have thrown in the Towel of Adventure and are staying put on top of the spare toilet rolls, where nothing, other than a desperate TP-seeking claw, can harm them.)
There are a couple of things which are not entirely fabulous. We have monkeys in the garden, which I was alerted to on the first morning when I got home from School Run 1, to find the Alpha male sitting in the garden eating a banana handed to him by the Alpha Boy. The entire troupe made an appearance yesterday evening as we were finishing lunch, brazenly walking along the garden wall about 6 feet from us, and giving us a total Fuck You glare. (Then they sat eyeballing us for a while, sending telepathic messages to the Boy to Give Us Food.)  I like the idea of monkeys – nature and jungle and wild etc – but the Wild bit of that ideal worries me somewhat.  I’m too young to have my face ripped off!  (Actually, I am probably just the right age for such an event;  there is a decent amount of saggery allowing probably for total facial removal, but not so much that there wouldn’t be any challenge for them at all.)
Also, there is no internet (I know!  I feel like I’ve stepped back into the 80s - a feeling propounded by the house’s hideous bathrooms and kitchen) and the phone connection is very weak (we’re in the Singapore version of the Yorkshire Dales) so unless I schlep self and my ancient laptop to a Starbucks, I am basically removed from civilisation.  (Greetings from Starbucks, btw.)
On the plus side, having no internet means that when I do have internet, my blog feed is AWASH with weeks’ worth of fabulousness.  (Which reminds me, if there is any amongst you who is not familiar with this blogger, (a) get familiar quickly, and (b) buy her book.  (I say that, all authoritative, while in fact I have (SHAME ON ME) not bought her book myself.  I have tried, dammit, but it’s just not sold here.  And Singpost will either lose or steal it, and I want a real book, not a downloaded one.  Some books deserve holding, and I’m sure this is one of them.))  And I am almost weaned off the black hole of Facebook, which can only be a Good Thing.
But having said that, I have just spent my entire free two hours on the damned Facebook, and now I have to run to collect the Baby.  Usually I’m not terribly excited about having to collect her, but today is different; today she had Show & Tell, and brought in... A BAG OF HER OWN HAIR.  I can’t wait to see how that went down.
I have to run.  The Family Death will have to wait. 

(*Quite teeny tiny and more like a tarpaulin stapled into a deep hole and then filled up with tap water, rain, and the desperate tears of Lady.)  

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Woe and Goats.

I can almost not bear to look at the blog and see when I last posted something.  Last month?  Last year?  I am busy (I know, we are all busy), but also generally sweating too much to touch a keyboard, I might get electrocuted or something.
Anyway, one of the many things I am busy with (apart from this – both the blog and the cowering under tables [truly, it is quite embarrassing, as evidenced by the time I took a mid-day nap and I was in a deep sleep when the fucking planes decided to somersault past my windows and before I knew it I had leapt out of bed, run through the apartment and hugged the nearest child AND the maid to me.  WEARING ONLY MY KNICKERS.]) is organising our house-move, which takes place in two weeks, and which will be a solo venture, as I have kicked the Man out of the apartment for travelling on business too much.  (He responded by getting on a plane and going to... somewhere – Korea, I think - for a week.)  
Back home – “home” being anywhere that is not Singapore – house-moves are stressful because you have all the crap you’ve accumulated, and you have to open cupboards which haven’t been opened since you stuck a load of boxes in them the day you moved in, and ARGH the carpets need cleaning because the children haven’t learnt that you can pause Netflix and then go to the toilet.  Here – different kettle of fish (horrible rusty kettle and mean, snapping piranhas.)  Basically you have to give the property back to the landlord in better condition than you took it. That deposit of two months’ rent he took off you a couple of years back?  He’s spent it.  (Truly.  No escrow accounts here.) So he’s a bit peeved to have to pay it back, and will do WHATEVER IT TAKES to avoid doing so.  It is all deeply stressful. (Also, beware cheap foldy-up kids’ chairs which cost $2.  They, and their sticking-out-of-the-bottom-sharp-nails are both a false economy, and the enemy of wooden floors everywhere.)
So with this on my mind – the "weathered" floorboards and the cat scratches and the walls which look like they’ve been riddled with machine-gun fire (when in fact it was just a few paintings which we couldn’t quite work out where to hang) – I promptly crashed into my neighbour’s car while parking my own this afternoon.  Have we spoken about cars here?  Cars – and houses – are the reason Singapore is the most expensive place to live in the world.  They are RIDICULOUSLY expensive.  (You lot look at property porn;  here, we get our tissues out and log on to English Auto Trader.)  You know the way in London you see someone crawling around at 10mph in a Lambourghini and you think What a Twat?  Here, you think – Fucking hell that car cost $2m, what a Twat. So anyway, my neighbour drives a beautiful, shiny, brand new RANGE ROVER, which hasn’t a scratch on it.  Hadn’t.    Sigh.  (There followed much texting with my Textpat wife about WHAT WILL I DO?  - because I was hoping she’d say – Oh it’s fine, there’s this magic wand you can get which will fix it straight away – but there isn’t, and she didn’t.)
AND THEN, to add to the general woe, I fell off my bicycle, and the Baby was strapped into the back, so she fell too, and there was a couple of seconds before we fell when I thought – I’m about to fall and there’s nothing I can do about it except try to take the weight of the bike and the baby on my ankle.  Which I did, so now I am LAME. (The Boy, incidentally, would agree with that in his most whole-hearted faux-American way.)
On the plus side, I made this for some school thing for the Boy: 

(Which is the face of a goat) And so successful was it (it’s not really, I know, but the Boy is urban and has no clue what a goat is meant to look like) that I have now been commissioned to make a snake.  A SNAKE!  The effing goat took about 6 hours, a snake – I don’t even know where to start.    I also made this:  

which is Paneer in a Butter-Tomato sauce, and is the sort of thing that Angels write songs about;  and clearly I took the picture from the book, but in fact my dish looked just like that (not as nicely presented, obv).  I don’t have the wherewithal to give you the recipe now, I’ll do it next time.
Oh, and there was also this, which is the Baby and friend looking at an aquarium. Except it’s not an aquarium, it’s THE SEA.  (I guess it hasn't all been busy-running-around-stressy-crashing after all.)

Right.  I must go and pack boxes and crash modes of transport and generally make my day deserving of a very large drink come 7pm. 

Oh, and if anyone has any clues about Getting Boys To Listen, or Encouraging Girls To Read, I’m all ears.  
Oh II.  THIS.  The funniest thing on the internet today. 

Thursday, 21 April 2016

The body of a child, the head of a walrus.

Just when I thought the school runs couldn’t get any worse, they did.   I now have an additional 22km leg, which is hideous, although not without its moments of amusement:

I should point out that this car was the only one involved in this accident.  Actually, I’m not even sure that you can call such fuckwittage-ness an accident - there has to have been some element of intent involved.  How else would you get your car up onto the central reservation of a highway – backwards?  (You can also see me being scathing about it over here.)
Otherwise,  nothing else of any interest is happening here.  I am driving driving driving the live-long day (7am-920am;  130pm-245pm;  then usually some sort of late afternoon child-ferrying), about which you will have to take my word is even more dull for me than it is for you.  (Today’s whirling ball of stress was spiced up by a forgotten – and crucial – gym bag, so off I went, a dutiful little parenting lamb, spitting nails and muttering to myself, and worrying people in cars nearby who could see me yelling and banging the dashboard with my fist.)
So you can understand the MAJOR excitement yesterday when my textpat spouse dragged me off to the Singapore equivalent of Costco – I was *this* close to crying off, zombified as I am these days and unwilling to do ANY MORE DRIVING (this place is as close to Malaysia as you can get without finding that the government has slipped a couple of million into your bank account – or, more likely, taken it out) but she lured me with the promise of cheap groceries and European produce, and SHE WOULD DRIVE.
Reader, it was wonderful.  We oohed and ahhhhed and caressed things, and instantly signed up, and then piled our trolleys high with such items of wonderousness as this:

And this:

I concede that this isn’t such a big deal really – oh look, a large supermarket which sells stuff – but for me, starved of grocery-novelty, it is HEAVEN.  (I have just had the cider and it was the sweet Somerset nectar of the Gods.)   
By the time I got home from Round II of my new favourite game, Is My Arse Now The Same Shape As the Car Seat?, a large sea was falling from the sky and we were all wet and cold – or close to cold as you can get when the temperature has plummeted to a chilly 27° - and I found myself thinking wistfully of the crates of instant Cup A Soup I had poo-pooed in Singaporean Costco Eden. So instead I made my own, which took 20 minutes, and was so good I finished the lot.
Just when I was starting to think that maybe, on balance, it wasn’t the worst day I’d ever had, I brought the Baby to the doctor where a sweet, quiet, similar-aged deigned to pick up and use her abandoned sticky plaster, and the Baby screamed at her with such vehemence that both the girl and her mother got quite upset and when the abuse continued - through my mouth-clasping hand - they actually got up and left the surgery!  And if that wasn't enough SHAME AND HORROR, she later asked a boy at the taxi stand if "you is wearing a mask, or is you just weird-looking?"  
He wasn't wearing a mask.
And not for the first time yesterday I wished that I could just lie down on the ground and go to sleep.

20 Minute / Almost Instant Cup A Soup

(This is basically carrot and lentil soup.   Which is not to be knocked, as it is a thing of delight and wonderousness.)

You need:  (for about two large bowls / four cups /one distended stomach)
  • Some oil – olive / whatevs
  • Clove of garlic, crushed
  • One carrot
  • Four handfuls of dried red lentils (I’m starting my own measuring system)
  • About 1 litre of stock (whatever you have)
  • Squeeze of lemon.
  • Handful of fresh coriander (optional)

Heat the oil, and add the crushed garlic.
When it’s starting to sizzle grate the carrot directly into the pot.  Stir well, add a splash of stock, and leave to bubble for a couple of minutes.
Add the lentils and the rest of the stock.  Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for about 10-15 mins, or until the lentils are soft. 
Puree with a machiney thing, mash with a mashey thing, or leave as is.  Add a squeeze of lemon and chopped coriander, if you have it.
THAT’S IT. 
Eat with an accompanying bottle of cider, while Googling "ways to temporarily mute small children".