At 44 and a half, I feel I have reached peak adult. Not for the money-stuff, of course – my eyes prick with panicky unspilled tears and my heart-rate quickens every time Mark suggests we ‘do a budget’ or ‘speak with the accountant’ or ‘go through the bank statements’, but for all sorts of the other things.
I remember fondly the days of battling with toddlers and dogs and pregnancies and school runs – what larks! I may have whinged about those pressures then, but they were much more fun than this new world of worry. Admittedly it did sometimes feel overwhelming when I was doing my factory-line of babies thing, and I remember longing for sleep-ins and some time off on a Saturday on my own for a bit to clear my head, but now the children are all old and distancing themselves from me and I can only barely recall those days where everyone around me had a mouthful of missing teeth, tiny clothes, unmarked skin and speech impediments. Mark cannot say ‘wasps’ properly, but that’s just not the same thing at all.
The list of grownup worries now looks like this:
- Housing. Apparently the council would like to crack down on bad landlords who overcrowd flats with too many people. Now, you don’t have to know much about me to know that we have ourselves overcrowded our flat with too many people. We only have ourselves to blame for doubling our number of kids since we moved into our flat many years ago. To be fair, though it lacks rooms, it is still a big Victorian basement with square footage that might well make your eyes water. Probably not, but it is certainly bigger than many other flats we have thought about relocating to over the years just because they have more bedrooms than we do here. So word on the street is that, if the council follow through on its crackdown of greedy landlords, we might have to find somewhere else to live. This is not a lovely predicament because we are a part of our community here; we have a lot of square feet, we have a massive communal garden out the door, the kids all *walk (that’s code for ‘take the bus’) to their local schools, the rent is pretty cheap, and it is Home. So we wait, we panic, and we try to think of alternatives.
- Like trying (and failing) to get a Mortgage. This has been a recurring problem because we are both self-employed. We have a house in New Zealand but that’s irrelevant when you speak to a broker here. Even though I am one interview away from getting a real job at a Proper Company with a good salary, benefits an’ all (probably, fingers crossed, who knows, yikes, wish me luck, etc etc), we look terrible on paper. But we have found a house that I cannot stop thinking about. It is in Wembley which requires some thinking, because I only know Wembley for the IKEA there and it isn’t a very pretty drive. But apparently it’s not all motorways and industrial roundabouts – there’s a whole lot of big lovely ’30s houses just waiting for me to sandwich my boys into. And affordable IF we can use the collateral from NZ. But I don’t know how, and if it is possible, or who to talk to, and so we are in a housing funk.
- Mattress Woes. Mark decided a long time ago that our delightful warm, sinky-inny soft, cuddling memory foam mattress must go because it hurts his back. I said no, dude, it’s not the mattress! Don’t take my mattress! But he did anyway. We had to go into a showroom and lie down on a lot of what seemed like identical beds, and Mark played along, turning over and bunching up his pillows and I was like ‘this is embarrassing and they all feel the same – aka HARD like a hospital trolley’ but I had to pretend I was feeling something. Anything. So I said I like soft, but Mark said he liked hard. Meanwhile, Remi wet his trousers on the floor of the showroom from too much complimentary apple juice and I had to clean it up without making too much of a fuss. I told the salesgirls that baby pee was ‘practically water’. I had to strip him of his pants entirely and he wandered around the showroom, bottom half out on display, surrounded by soft expensive furnishings. And so whaddya know, Mark last week came home with a sharp knife and cut up our Old Faithful memory foam dreamy lovely comfortable mattress into squares and got his rubbish guy to get rid of the bits. Oh, how I hugged those mattress foam squares tight! (I didn’t, because they actually had taken on some odd discolouration and a crumbly texture near the edges which may have been years of bodily fluid which turned my stomach) but I was sorry to see them go. And now we have some sort of Terminator Mattress. Agressively organic, with too many springs (2200, apparently) and made up of layer upon layer of hemp and cashmere and something else and something else and it is high. Too high. It does not suck me into its embrace like the old mattress. It rejects me with its hard bigness. I lie on it and feel no give. No loving me back. Meanwhile, Ding Dong scrunches up his pillow like he did at the practice showroom, turns over and snores just as loudly as he ever did.
I went to France! I went to France, drank rose outside cafes in village squares, ate cheese, went on a cooking course, bought light blue faded mongrammed linen napkins, and watched the Jimmy Saville documentary on our last night. The flea markets were cheap and unbelievable – see below for a little vintage tablecloth action – the shutters pretty, the wisteria purple and fragrant. It was a Francophile’s dream:
Here’s a photograph of me and my new lady love, Angelica G Lamour. A beautiful burlesque artist from Prague with a truly magnificent embonpoint who happens to be my cousin’s lady love too:
Otis hunting for easter eggs in ripped trou:
Remi on the way back from a party in the park. he peed his pants but we had no backup, and so opted for the old ‘t-shirt tied up like a part of shorts’ trick:
And lastly, a photograph of that curly-headed fluff ball Remi after falling asleep on the swing: