Thanks for that

19 Dec
A few of my favourite things

A few of my favourite things

Back in the eighties Liza Minnelli sang a song with The Pet Shop Boys about losing her mind. As a young child, I remember being particularly baffled by the lyrics:

“The coffee cup – I think about you.”

Must have been a pretty special coffee cup, I thought. Of course, now I see it as part of a bigger song about lost love.

It’s nearly Christmas and I’m not losing my mind. This is a first – I’m one up on Liza at the moment. But had it not been for the good fortune of the last half of this year, then come Christmas Eve I would probably have been tap-tap tapping at the entrance of the Maudsley Psychiatric Hospital asking if there was room at the inn.

Instead I am here, at home, playfully sending texts to my husband with a devil-may-care attitude when he asks how I am going to survive on £2.65 until January 6th. I am feeling very fine though, because I’ve bought the kids their presents, and I have a stash of smoked salmon in the fridge. What else does one need at Christmas?

“We need to eat around Christmas day, and you haven’t budgeted for things like petrol, cat food and your bikini wax. ”

(Thankfully my husband has never cared about my bodily hair, but I am looking forward to diving into my parent’s hot-tub on New Years Eve, which admittedly sounds more swingerish that it actually is. I am depilating for my daughter. She is horrified by my hairiness, and the feminist in me would usually say “Oh, to hell with you. I’m not called Squirrel Nutkin for nothing you know.” But I am kind, because I remember the embarrasement I felt as a teen standing next to my mother – Surrey’s answer to a Woodstock stalwart – at the local swimming pool).

“Budget smudget.” I say to my husband, helpfully. I am so over money, because we don’t have any. We never have. But we have a hell of a lot more than many people and for that I keep reminding him that we must be extremely grateful. My gung-ho attitude is not convincing though.

No doubt he’ll be reading this later to see that I’ve painted him as the responsible realist in the relationship, which of course he is. To lift his spirits and help him forget my £2.65 remaining balance, I have compiled a list of things that have made me happy over the year. Hopefully some of them (the re-emergence of my tits, rehab etc…) are things that have contributed to his happiness too.

  • Insurance: It’s a marvellous thing. We were burgled, I left my mobile phone in the bottom of a very wet bag, and I lost my keys in a multi-pocketed Parka. The fact that I had insurance for all of these things made them a lot cheaper to replace.
  • Reading “How to stay sane” by Philippa Perry, psychotherapist and wife to Grayson Perry, a longtime crush of mine. I recommend to anyone who occasionally thinks of running away from everything.
  • Rehab – sadly my husband and not me because I could have done with a lengthy break from life. Yes, he needed time to sort his shit out and so did I. We were lucky that his health insurance paid for his treatment. It didn’t solve everything, but no one thing ever does. But it has helped us to see what the problems are.
  • Nitty Gritty combs. Expensive to lose (and a couple have fallen through the gaps in our floorboards), but not pricey enough to insure (see above.) Having spent the best part of my annual salary on wholly ineffective head lice lotions, it seems that fastidious combing, folks, is the only way forward. You may baffle at the metal nit comb appearing on this list, but believe me, when you spend hours in front of CBBC with squirming children and a head full of oleaginous mites (look at a nit under a microscope and you’ll vomit) you want results. It is boring. It requires skill. It requires a firm hand and an even firmer voice “If you don’t stay still while I comb then Christmas is off.” Yes, when people ask me what I spent most of 2012 doing, I will reply “combing.”
  • My tits. They came back. Well, sort of. I lamented their decline and rapid fall last year when I stopped breastfeeding. And then slowly they made a reappearance in the late summer, along with my love handles. I’ll happily keep both if I can’t return one without the other.
  • Paid work. Admittedly, I’ve earned enough in a year to pay for George Osborne’s anal bleaching, but it feels good to be back in the trainer saddle. Up until recently I was solidly changing nappies, scraping congealed porridge off the floor and answering teacher’s calls from my daughter’s school telling me she’d be in an altercation, but the type of work I prefer? The stuff you can invoice. Clearing gunk off surfaces is what I do on top of other things now, and as a result the domestic duties don’t feel like such a grudge anymore.
  • My pelvic floor. Again. I have written about it in the past like it’s a badly worn out clutch. Now, it’s had a bit of work. I’m not saying I don’t occasionally wet myself (key in front door, refusing to turn is always a danger point) but things are noticeably better. I have been doing my exercises on the loo to stop peeing mid flow. I think I’ve located my core muscles, and I regularly practice the ‘squeeze’ while at traffic lights. I can’t do them without pulling a face, but that’s a small price to pay.

I may be foraging for sticks and mushrooms come Christmas Eve because we have nothing for lunch, but I’ll keep this list in my head. If I were writing a thank you card to Father Christmas (which would be frankly creepy, but who else is able to provide a sack load of good when I don’t believe in God?) then it would go something like this:

“Thank you for signing me up to Direct Line even though I accidentally said yes to content insurance because I couldn’t understand the salesman; thanks for my tits – I was actually alright without them in the end but at least I haven’t had to throw out all my best bras; thanks for rehab – even though I wasn’t there, I feel I benefitted as much as my husband. And thanks for books, the occasional morning shag, and dry knickers.”

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2 Responses to “Thanks for that”

  1. charlottestamper December 19, 2012 at 1:14 pm #

    Great post, as ever. I’ve just ordered the book! 🙂

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