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THE GRADUATE

As much as it pains me to be nice to young people, I shall admit that hearty congratulations are in order for Daughter No.1 and her rather fabulous coterie of friends who all got their university results this week. Bunch of swots that they are, they have all passed with flying colours. I have two things to say to you all.
1. Your degree is commercially useless.
2. Get a job.

Here is an appropriate song from Cliff Richard, (who has cleverly been enbalmed prior to dying). And before you start complaining, I'll have you know that this is cutting edge congratulatory entertainment from 45 years ago. 

YOU CAN'T CHOOSE YOUR FAMILY...

...which is a crying shame because I would have no hesitation in nominating Judge Judy and Paul Anka as the global ideal grandparents. I learned all my parenting skills from Judge Judy. It's zero tolerance all the way and tough sentencing measures. Obviously, you can't spend your whole life screaming at people, so Paul Anka provides a nicely balanced counterpoint for drinking wine and a jolly singalong.

ANOTHER JOB BITES THE DUST

Unsurprisingly (see post below), Daughter No.2 has finally told Snotty Knightsbridge Mother (SKM) to shove her job (and her attitude) right up her arse. The straw that broke the camel's back was the moment when SKM invited a friend over for coffee and decided to show off by speaking to the nanny like shit. Oh dear. Not a good idea when that nanny happens to be one of my daughters. Very upset about it she was, too. We already identified a few weeks ago that SKM would be trouble, but life is full of difficult people so you might as well learn to deal with them sooner or later. Difficult is one thing, but downright rude is quite another. As far as I'm concerned, once you've crossed that line, all bets are off. Don't you agree?

Amazingly, Daughter No.2 didn't flick her the bird and walk out. Instead, she spoke to SKM, told her that her behaviour was unacceptable and the job was shit, and gave her 7 days notice. I am very proud (and a bit shocked) that she has taken such a mature attitude. Had it been me, I would have handed the stinky little baby back and said something along the lines of 'your problem, bitch'. SKM has even asked Daughter No.2 to stay until she finds a replacement. I'm watching this unfold with great interest, and looking forward to the day my daughter moves out. At that point, I shall go and pick her up myself and mention to SKM that her grotesque and sordid little shennanigans are posted up all over the internet. Oh, it's the little things that make one so happy.

THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE

Daughter No.2 is currently working as a live-in nanny for a wealthy family in London's swanky Knightsbridge. She has no childcare qualifications and decided to go into the nannying business merely as a rouse to live somewhere really expensive. Her charges are a 6 year old girl and a 3 month old baby. Amazingly, the baby is still alive and the little girl has not called Childline. I am very impressed with her tenacity, seeing as she's only being paid about 50p a week. We call the wife SKM (Snotty Knightsbridge Mother).

Is it just me or do rich people tend to be the meanest bastards in the universe? She has to get up at 6am and doesn't knock off until about 8 in the evening. On the upside, plenty of entertainment is provided by the couple in question. He's a macrobiotic weirdo and she hates his guts. Better still, SKM is clearly having a torrid affair. Daughter No.2 got back unexpectedly early after the morning school run and walked in only to discover the wife in the kitchen, in her bra, snogging some random bloke. How's this for an excuse: "Oh! I spilled something on my blouse and had to take it off." A likely story, m'lud. I suppose that bloke was an emergency doctor doing a quick examination of your tonsils with his tongue too.

THE TEENAGERS ARE NO LONGER TEENAGERS.... (well, almost...)

Teenager No.1 is now in her final term of university, where she has been studying the bottom of a wineglass for the last 3 years. It's gone rather well, actually, and she can hold her drink brilliantly. Teenager No.2 did not go to university. She thought better to concentrate on being fabulous, seeing as she couldn't give a shit about things like a career and would far rather focus her efforts on swanning round the shops and getting through as many boyfriends as she can. I have to say that I am very pleased with the way both of them have turned out. TN1 will turn 21 in a few weeks, and TN2 will be 20 a month after that, so I suppose I shall have to dub them something else now. I'll have a think about it and get back to you.

A WORD A DAY KEEPS
WILL SELF AWAY

Will Self is convinced that nobody knows any good words except him. The rest of us are consigned to the nearest dustbin of ignorance for failing to regularly use words like borborygmus and nidorosity. If you fancy improving your vocabulary while expending zero effort, why not sign up to Word Of The Day and have one delivered straight to your inbox.

LEFT: Will Self's writing room. You would have thought his mum would tell to tidy up a bit, wouldn't you?


Everything from here down was blogged prior to my re-emergence in April 2012...

LEARNING THROUGH OSMOSIS

I notice that Teenager No.1, currently in her final year of A levels, has learned how to revise while lying in bed with her eyes closed. 'Are you asleep?' I burst into her room, screeching like a harridan (bear in mind here that it's 11.30am and she is purporting to be on "study leave").  The lump in the bed stirs under the covers. 'No. I'm revising.' I pull the covers back. 'Oh, I see,' I say sarcastically. 'So nowadays, revising for History involves an iPod and Heat magazine.'

INFANTICIDE

I am on the verge of killing Teenager No.2. Having flunked her GCSEs, she is now in college, hating every minute of it, and making sure to give me as much grief about it as she possibly can. Every day she comes home, gives me the evils, then stomps around the house, refusing to speak. She can be found either lying around on the sofa watching teenage drivel on Sky, or lying around in her room glued to the internet for hours on end. What she won't do however, is lift a finger to help, or attempt to do anything constructive with her life. It is driving me insane. While I was away recently, she announced to The Husband that she's going to drop out of college. Instead of giving her a rocket, he said that she could do exactly that so long as she got herself a job first. And guess who has to sort that out for her? Well, whoopie-do. Of course, when it came to putting together a CV, Teenager No.2 realised that she didn't actually have anything to put on it qualifications-wise, so she gave up on that too. Last night, my patience finally snapped, and I told her in no uncertain terms that she could bloody well stay at college until she came out with a certificate. THEN she could get a job, but not before.

Anyone would think that I had told her that she had to cut her own arms off. Three howling hours later, she emerged, red-eyed, from her room, and went back to giving me the evils and saying how I didn't understand anything. By the time she went to bed, I had just about calmed down. Fast-forward to today, and she's just got in, gone stomping off upstairs to her room and slammed the door. Give me strength. I could very easily just sling a few things in a bag and leave home. I bloody hate it here.

WHAT THE BLOODY HELL IS THAT?

My car is in the garage at the moment, falling apart at the seams, a bit like its owner I suppose. I have been give a courtesy car in the meantime. It's grotesque. A hateful little Fiat Panda 4x4, although why anyone would want to try and make a 4x4 out of a pile of shit like that is anyone's guess. Teenager No.1 (who, incidentally, somehow managed to pass her driving test first time and is now whizzing around under her own steam), came home unexpectedly from school today. Trudging up the stairs (I live in my bedroom) all I could hear was her shouting 'What the bloody hell is that thing on the drive?' I gave her the usual withering death stare rather than bothering to try and communicate with a 17-year-old. She sneered back at me that it was all I deserved, and said that it would bring her joy to know her mother was being forced to drive around in a turd-brown wheelie bin.

WHEELS ON FIRE

Teenager No.1 has her driving test on Monday morning, and bloody hell, don't we all know about it. I feel as though I have been taken hostage and forced to sit in the passenger seat by a ranting terrorist. Three hours I was in the car with her yesterday. Three torturous hours of sheer hell, listening to her screeching at me that she 'knows what she's doing'. The bay parking isn't going so well. Now, me? I can park a car on a bloody sixpence, mate. I learned to drive in central London where, frankly, it was survival of the fittest. None of this country roads and no traffic nonsense. We're talking fist-shaking, log-jamming, get-the-fuck-out-of-my-way-or-I'll-shoot school of motoring.

Washing my hands of the whole thing, I dug deep and paid for a 2 hour lesson for her this afternoon, the first hour of which was supposed to me a mock driving test. And guess what? She failed. Ha! Smart arse. At long last, she came through the door displaying something that looked suspiciously like humility, mumbling something about how it's all my fault, and if she'd been allowed to spend five thousand pounds on driving lessons, she might have stood a better chance. 'Whassup?' I asked, trying not to gloat. She responded with various teenage mumbling noises, some of which went along the lines of 'went through a red light' and 'almost hit another car'.

'Almost?' I said with a flap of my newspaper. 'Then you're obviously not trying hard enough.'

UNIVERSALLY CHALLENGED

I am in that weird semi-world that happens when you wake up one morning and realise that a bird is about to fly the nest. Teenager No.1 is going through the process of picking out a university. It seems her number one priority is to get as far away from home as she can. Thus, we have been schlepping up to see York, ditto for Bristol. While looking around the halls of residence it suddenly occurred to me that, in a few months, she'll be leaving home. And I very much doubt that she'll ever be back. Except to deliver festering laundry.

Now, you might think that I would be running around the garden with a bottle of champagne, whooping for joy, but you'd be wrong. Teenager No.1 is a supreme being. She is toxic in her wit, unashamedly vitriolic, brilliantly sarcastic, and mixes a mean martini. Quite what I'm going to do without her here is too awful to contemplate. I have therefore decided to become a mature student and sneakily secure myself a place at the same Uni.

ONE SMALL STEP FOR MAN

That's it. Teenager No.2 has officially left school after 11 years of sheer hell (for me, that is). Being the youngest in her class, she is still only 15 and has a head full of air. I dread to think what her results are going to be when we pick up the gruesome truth in August. Seeing as her college place is dependent upon these results, things could all get pretty interesting. She's the kind of person that just totally doesn't see the point of school, because all she wants is a rich husband, a big house, three dogs, two cats and a pink car with a glove compartment big enough to fit in lots of bags of sweets. Oh well. You can't say I didn't try.

LIFE ON EARTH

Hello, good evening, and welcome to Teenager No.1's cesspit. In tonight's episode, we will mostly be finding festering mugs of half drunk tea and coffee, mouldy lumps of pizza crust, fusty clothes that could walk around on their own, and several as-yet-undiscovered organisms. Before you dare to enter, I have just one thing to say: be afraid... be very afraid.

To boldly go where no hoover has gone before... the teenager's lair.


PAINTING BY NUMBSKULLS


I hate decorating. It always seems like a good idea at the time, but then you look up after a day and a half and see all the mess you've made. Teenager No.1 decided that she 'deserved' a new look in her bedroom, what with her about to move onto A levels and all that. She wanted something calm and tranquil - whites and creams, swishy layered curtains, a bit Kate Moss in a minimalist New York loft apartment. 'Uh-huh,' I nodded understandingly. 'Yep. I know exactly the look you're after.' So off she went to stay with friends while I do a Changing Rooms number on her personal space. Well, forget it. I made a start on it, and now it's all in such a state that I've slammed the door on the whole thing and told her to finish it herself. Bloody kids. I dunno who they think they are.

Incidentally... I was forced to go to Ikea on Saturday. I've never been to an Ikea before. Sure, I've heard of them, but never been. Absolute bloody nightmare. Stinks of Swedish meatballs on the inside, and stress fags on the outside where all the people (who go there for a day out with their screaming snotty kids and eat meatballs) have to spark up the second they're on the downward escalator. I didn't understand any of it and had to have a lie down when I got home.

EGG TIMER

Teenager No.1 has announced that she officially finishes school in 3 weeks. Eh? But it's only April! Apparently, they get 3 more weeks of rubbish lessons from their mainly shit-for-brains teachers, then aren't expected back except to sit their exams, which are then marked by PG Tips monkeys somewhere between now and high summer. Naturally, I am mortified. The peace of my daytime existence will no doubt be smashed to smithereens and I suppose the usual trail of gangly teenagers will start using my house as a hostel again. I don't understand where all those years have disappeared to, nor why some women decide to have another baby just as the eldest is fledged. Thank God my eggs are shrivelled.

BREAKDOWN

Had a brilliant day on Saturday. Teenager No.1 had a complete breakdown over the hair straighteners (lack of) when she found her sister had left them at a friend's house. She became properly hysterical, shaking and crying. It was quite possibly the most entertaining thing I have ever seen in my life, perhaps with the exception of when my husband fell of that ladder.

SELL THEM ON EBAY

I'm having to seriously grit my teeth to prevent myself from disposing of Teenager No.2. She's mooning about like a wet weekend and appears to have forgotten how to communicate with real words. Trying to reason with her is like seeing yourself in one of those Channel 4 documentaries about people with horrible grunting kids. I'm wondering if I should change tactics. Currently considering adopting the method of that ex-Marine on Fat Club or whatever it's called. Whenever I want to say something, go nose to nose and scream it into her face. The only trouble is she's bigger than me. Much bigger. Maybe I'll continue leaving the Post-It notes.

BIO HAZARD

I made the terrible mistake of going into the teenagers' bedrooms this morning. When any of my stuff goes missing, they are my first port of call. Today it was my phone charger. I should have left well alone or gone out and bought another one rather than subjecting myself to the hell-on-earth that is Teenager No.1's lair. It looks like she's been burgled. Disgusting is not the word. I backed away and shut the door fast before any of the resident viruses escaped.

POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE

During my recent escape, I'd not been gone 48 hours when a distress call came through indicating that things were already falling apart. The husband had an indicent with Teenager No.2. I won't bore you with the details. Let's just say that it involved a crime reference number. Naturally, I didn't answer the phone (there's something wonderfully insane about watching a telephone ring repeatedly) so I got all this via text message. Funny how it's often the small things that make one so happy.

FARTING SMALL MEN

Sarah of norf London is currently trying to raise two teenage boys. One won't get up for school despite her cunning hidden alarm clocks and the Nazi lamp she angles to shine directly into his sullen face. Their only pride is in farting, eating crap and beating each other up. Behold, the new generation of men.

POETIC JUSTICE

Following my previous posting about stroppy teenagers refusing to go to school, the Almighty has intervened with a suitable come uppance. Yes, the elder has just experienced that all time top ten trauma moment of The Bad Haircut. Went off to the hairdressers (what have I said about taking your hair to the village butchers?) and came back an hour later red-faced with shock. Had she not been trying desperately not to look like a woos, I suspect she might have been in floods of tears. The look on my face must have said it all as I tried to suppress a smile and reassure her that it would grow back, eventually. Her sister was less sympathetic, pointed at her head and laughed like a drain. She's gone to school this morning with hair extensions.

BAD ASS MOTHERF****R

Teenager No.1 woke up in badass mood this morning. Didn't want to go to school. Feigned some cancerous coughing noises as though that might get her the day off (yeah, right), and gave me the evils when I told her to haul her sorry arse out of bed and go learn something. I have a feeling she may have told me to fuck off, muffled through crumpled duvet of course. I may be small, but I'm quite powerful when riled. I intend to hack into her MySpace page this morning and upload her passport photo then go up to her room and hide all her make-up. That'll teach her to mess with badass mother.

HOME ALONE

Fifteen year old daughter (the one who thinks Cornwall is hell on earth and she should be allowed to stay at home on her own instead of coming on family holidays - I'm old enough, she claims, giving me a withering death stare) went to a party last night and didn't come home. We finally traced her to a house a couple of villages away. Husband picked her and a friend up from outside a shop, looking like a couple of vampires that had slept, or not, under a bush. The pair of them stank of Barcardi Breezers, fags and armpits. During the debrief I insisted on when they got back, it transpired that the house they had left behind was completely trashed. Carpets ruined. Rivers of teenage vomit in the dining room. Furniture broken and speakers blown up. 'Where were the parents?' I demanded. (Like I care.) 'On holiday,' she said. I rest my case.

IT'S ME OR THE KIDS

Teenager number one has turned into the exorcist. She screams blue murder at her sister while her head spins around and green vomit sprays out of her mouth. Husband says he's going to get one of those plastic bottles and fill it with stones, (like you see on It's Me Or The Dog), then run into the room and shake it at them really hard whenever they start on each other.

ARRANGEMENTS

If there's one word that makes my head spin around like a woman possessed, its arrangements. I spend more hours than I care to mention sorting out other peoples' lives. Yes, okay, they're my kids. I spent most of yesterday driving around trying to find two that were supposed to be at my house before their mothers turned up and lynched me.

CHIP OFF THE OLD BLOCK

I regularly indulge in a bit of property porn. Gazing lustfully at expensive houses in the paper is one of my small pleasures. Elder teenager looked over my shoulder and told me to make sure we got one with high enough ceilings for me to hang upside down. Smart arse.

AUTUMN WATCH

Sitting in front of the gogglebox last night, a glorious BBC trailer for Bill Oddie's Autumn Watch danced across the screen. Flocks of birds sweeping through the flaming evening skies, wild deer picking their way through a forest of falling leaves. Teenager number one looked up from her Fetish magazine. 'Urrgh,' she said. 'I bloody hate wildlife.'

GIVE ME STRENGTH

As if I don't have enough to juggle, teenager number two has decided she's now a vegetarian. Not only are dead animals off her menu, she has also taken to scouring labels for odd animal-based ingredients. Like she's ever taken an interest in anything before. Why now? Why food? Yes, of course I respect her decision and am now grumpily making alternative dishes for her alongside the roadkill casserole for the rest of the family, but it's just one more demand on my already over-stretched life, isn't it? I don't know how many times I've explained it to her, if we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made out of meat?

POPCORN POLITICS

Is anybody else listening to all this crap about how stressful it is to be a kid these days? Hello? So here we are, with a load of rude, disrespectful little shits cluttering up our environment, being told 'oh, the poor things have too many school tests and not enough love.' Bring back national service, that's what I say. And corporal punishment. And castor oil. My parents used to beat seven bells out of me and made me live in a rat-infested attic and it didn't do me any harm, did it? We should make interfering politicians raise their own children on the national average wage. Then we'll see who's stressed.

THE INVISIBLE MOTHER

I'm treated like some kind of insignificant blob in my house. My teenagers shuffle around complaining about everything in the world, ever. And when they're not moaning, they're fighting. One day it really got to me, so I just got in the car and drove away. I sat by a local reservoir contemplating how easy/tricky it would be to drown oneself, smoked a dried up old fag I found at the back of the glove compartment, calmed down, then went home an hour later. Nobody had even noticed I'd gone.

SUMMER HOLIDAYS (2006)

It would appear that my house as morphed into an unregistered youth hostel. I keep finding lanky teenagers slouched around who I've never met before. They eat everything in their path and grunt at me. I try to play it cool, grunting back instead of forming real words. Getting to the PC's a bit of a challenge. They all swarm around it for most of their waking hours, doing God knows what on MySpace and setting up mass bitching sessions with a further 300 reprobates online.

Cornish Pastime: The week long jaunt to Cornwall was ill-advised. The teenagers were spitting feathers at the prospect of being stuffed into a 3x2" fisherman's cottage with no electricity. 'It'll be fun!' I told them. (Particularly as I had checked myself into a rather nice hotel some distance away from the rest of the family.) Teenager number one did nothing but moan about how crap it was. 'I hate Cornwall,' she said. As punishment for being ungrateful and spoilt, I made her go mackerel fishing. She stood there for the duration, dressed in various Top Shop layers and sporting an enormous pair of Jackie-O shades, sulkily flapping a fishing rod while giving me the daggers. On balance, I'd say it was worth it.

The husband and I escaped to the pub, saying we needed to find stamps for the fictional postcards we pretended to have. Forty-five minutes later we were rumbled. I saw the two teenagers in the reflection of the mirror behind the optics. 'Look out,' I warned him, 'It's the fuzz.' Before they could lay into us about what bad parents we are, husband said, 'Hi, kids. Wanna drink?' They tried to order a diet coke but he was having none of it. 'You don't want to drink that. Try a Cornish speciality.' I'd completely forgotten about snakebite. Inspired.

Talking of family holidays, got a call from a girlfriend waiting for a plane to take her and my three Godsons ('The Godawful Sons') to France. She was drunk. Not surprisingly, the kids had been fighting since 5am, including throwing cups of tea at each other in the airport. Family holidays, eh? Why do we do it to ourselves?

EMO ANGST

My thirteen-year-old announced that she is now officially an Emo. For the uninitiated, that means Emotionally Involved or somethintg like that, and is several steps on from the lesser Goth category. I have been assured in sage tones that she's only going for the look, and that she won't slash her wrists, dye her hair purple, smoke (drugs, presumably), or set fire to herself.
    She did, however, require half the contents of my bank account this morning to go to the shops and buy some Emo attire, which she then intends to change into and hang around in the freezing cold with her friends, looking all emotionally involved. Still, I guess it beats mugging old ladies. Unless they have that planned for later.

CHINESE WATER TORTURE

To my mind, the worst thing about raising kids is the incesssant bickering. Last night, we had World War Three over a hairbrush. It's enough to drive a saint to drink. Not that I've ever been much of a saint.

OH, COME ALL YE FAITHFUL

Standing in the stinky-socks school hall, watching a makeshift stage full of snotty-nosed kids being prompted through the most rudimentary and mundane of story lines, I was mindful that this was the very last nativity play I would ever attend where one of my children stoof proudly and sang the joys of Christmas in front of a tearful parental audience. The only thought ringing through my mind: thank fuck for that.

GRANDCHILDREN

My elder daughter hates kids. She says so. Regularly. 'I bloody hate kids, so if you think you're getting any grandchildren from me, you can think again.' I congratulated her on her wise choice and told her that even if she had, she could find another babysitter because I'd be having a face lift in Palm Beach.
    She babysits for the rich people next door. He's a gynaecologist. We call him 'Clive with the six inch steel proboscus'. They've got two kids, one about 3, a boy, (blurgh), and the other about seven, a girl. The boy kid still wears a nappy. My daughter got in the habit of ringing me whenever the said kid had filled his pants, so I stopped answering the phone. She now just ignores it and tells him to get back into bed. Awful, isn't it? Mind you, for four quid an hour, I reckon I'd do the same.

NOBODY TOLD ME IT WOULD BE LIKE THIS

If somebody had told me what having children really meant, I might have run screaming to the nearest Bupa hospital and demanded they remove my ovaries. Whoever said they get easier as they get holder obviously wasn't in possession of all the facts or was a long-term drug user.

In a moment of sheer madness I decided to forge for myself a secret world which I could inhabit on the side. It does not include husband, children, or the daily drudgery I have in my other existence. The general theory is that, when the freeloaders have left home and I have buried my husband under the patio, I might actually have something of my own that resembles a life. Thus Crash Test Mummy was born. Welcome to my strange and meaningless world.