My biceps are hiding from me

Oh, it has been too long! But I am back, newly-shorn and tinted, and I have much to tell.

1. I have changed my mind about having any more children. There is no real point in me listing the reasons, because everyone in the whole wide world has already come to that conclusion, well-ahead of me. On Saturday, in a fit of post-face-painting fatigue, I reasoned that being pregnant and then having another small boy to carry around/wreck my stuff/make me yell would be a bit awful, and, in any case, I simply CANNOT FIT ANY MORE SCHOOL PARAPHERNALIA ONTO THE PUSHCHAIR. It is perilously close to capacity as it is. When I turn left, bags and drink bottles and handbags and muesli bar packets topple to the ground, I pick them up, I turn right, they topple into a pissy black puddle, the boys cry, I yell, taxis beep, the police slow down to a crawl and eyeball me sinisterly. I may have turned a mothering-corner. Of course, my period is late. Ha ha hahahahaha! Ha. Ahem. Will keep you posted.

2. I am in a Summer Wardrobe Sartorial CRISIS. Everything I wear makes me look 48. My exposed upper arms have become lumpen, and not just when lit from above. My printed Marni skirts look like traditional Alpine dress, and my vintage frocks have lost their irony. Wearing belts to emphasise my waist just makes me feel tired and I scramble to take them off.  And I only have Birkenstocks or Converse to wear, because my feet are too wide for brogues, as per The Youth, while wedge sandals on the school run look a little bit like I am pretending to have a job to go to. I am struggling to find the elegance and appropriateness in 30 degree heat.

3. I have made peace with the fact that my youthful aspirations to become a TV presenter have come to nought. I have been waiting to be spotted by someone for years. I was that woman lingering by random TV crews reporting on high street closures/tube strikes/TB vaccinations who wandered back and forth, sighing loudly and looking directly into the camera. I auditioned for things and was a very, very successful extra in Shortland Street, dressed in men’s running shorts pretending to be exercising. But no one ever took the bait. Best I let that one go, along with the mastering of a foreign language and basic maths.

4. Face-painting. On Saturday, it was the Summer Fair, and I was the Chief Face-Painter. It started at 11:30am when I painted Noah into quite a good tiger, blended nicely and convincingly with decisive black stripes. Then it became an unholy blur of demanding 4 year olds, and their mothers hovering, watching, getting a bit cranky when the lines went wobbly or when the glitter fell onto their coats, until 4pm sharp. Four and a half hours of unrelenting creative output, with only a burger and one pasteis de nata to keep me going, thrown at me by a friendly bystander who could see that I was weakening. But the kids were merciless, the line was never less than 10 deep, and they ALL HAD SIBLINGS.

“I want to be Spiderman!”

“A pink kitty!”

“A butterfly!”



Then came the cool girls, dressed in Disney polyester princess frocks, who, always one step ahead of the rest, stylishly changed tack.

“I would like a swimming dolphin on one cheek, and an orange unicorn on the other, please.”

“And I’ll have what she’s having.”

All fourteen of them. Do you KNOW how much it crushes your tailbone to paint tiny bloody unicorns on short people’s faces for HOURS and HOURS? How you want to lie down to correct the misshapen curvature of your twisted body, but the screaming children and their stern parents won’t let you? Getting up for the one wee-break saw me hobble in an very ungainly manner to the children’s loos, knees unyielding, back aching, hobble hobble hobble, getouttamywaysmallcharmlesskidsIneedtheloo, cranky and sad.

And I have never touched as many little faces in one go in my whole life. They were variously fidgety, snotty, tickly, impassive, bored, droolly, impatient, beautiful, awkward, smooth, Black, Arab, Asian, Antipodean, European, English, West Indian, fluffy-haired, bald, scratched, smooth, and dirty. I started off being chatty, asking their names, but I got bored of that quite quickly, and just held their chins and told them to look into my eyes.

LOOK INTO MY EYES IF YOU WANT TO LOOK LIKE A TIGER, SMALL FELLA. MY EYES ARE OVER HERE! OVER HERE! [Manhandles chubby little face into correct painting position]. I swear they averted my eyes because some small unconscious part of them knew that if they looked at me, really closely, they would be peering into DECAY. Older person’s decay. Broken capiliaries, wrinkling, eye bags, dried up nose skin, open pores, veiny eyeballs, wandering browhairs, patches of psoriasis. They knew they were glimpsing DEATH, and wanted no part of it. Like when you go to the optometrist and they hover closely over your face and you just LOOK AWAY for fear of seeing frightening inner-nostrils or missed bits of facial hair they forgot to shave. It’s a metaphor, man, a metaphor, and the kids just got it. Either that, or they were all simply ADHD.

And there was only one good sponge, and two pointy brushes, without which you can’t do the unicorn horn very convincingly. And the other ladies kept stealing my pointy brush, but I couldn’t really say much, because it was all for charity.

I was a total wreck afterwards. I got the shivers and had to go to bed at 9pm. It was FIERCE, and we raised £116 and one American dime.


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10 Responses to My biceps are hiding from me

  1. Jo says:

    Oh my God, best ever. This rivals Zadie Smith, seriously mate! Big respect to you. xxx

  2. Belinda says:

    Oh, this is very funny, one of your best. But unfortunately not to Felicity who repeats over and over again “I want Fireman Sam”. So off to You Tube now for Sam.

  3. Anna says:

    Brilliant! Loved it! Brightened up my day tremendously! Thanks!

  4. louise says:

    absolutley love it jodi lol xxxxx you was a fantastic face painter. xxx

  5. Jane says:

    Is it inappropriate that I have been in convulsions of laughter due to the spiel about kids peering into your decaying face?!! Oh dear, you are younger than I, and so much more beautiful, so perhaps it is the awkward laughter of recognition and denial that has possessed me. At any rate, you are brilliant, and I miss you. I was going to write that you shouldn’t spend 7k to visit NZ, but now I am so glad you are 🙂

  6. One of those moments when you thought, sod it, I wish I’d just written them a cheque for £120 and had the afternoon off?

  7. Alexa says:

    Stumbled across your blog…and LOVE it… Very entertaining, made me giggle. Which is what i so needed right now. Can imagine sitting for hours on end painting little snotty kiddies would be particularly painstaking … and only enjoyable for perhaps the first hour… if that!

    (even if ya do love painting… there is only so much patience one can have… so kudos to you!)

    I do hope for you – that aunt flow comes a-visiting very soon for you, fingers crossed!

    Thanks for the 5am cheer up 🙂 Alexa

    • theharridan says:

      Aunt flow did come, and I was duly bummed out. I was in denial about my fifth-baby-desire. But now, I am embracing it. Babies as so excellent, as you will soon find out! Exciting!!!

  8. redfox says:

    You are very funny and I enjoy reading every newest report from bedlam. No picture of the newly shorn, tinted results?

    • theharridan says:

      Thank you. I am jealous of your animated photos. No pic of hair, because it is embarrassing. My tinted eyebrows are eyelashes are jolly good though. I will post a pic just for you. Soon. If I find the camera, get the wide angle lens off, find the right lens, etc etc.

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