Gross things: a list

Sometimes, when you live with a bunch of people who are small and a bit prone to filth/lax hygiene, you get hit by gross stuff. A barrage of parasites. Here’s a recent unfortunate list – most, though not all, happening to me as well as affecting a good chunk of the rest of the family members:


nits (x2, possibly still current)

stomach bug throughout half the family (featuring vomits and unmentionables)

cold sore on lip

back rash (mysterious, still present, halfway between an eczema splodge and shingles patch)

ear ache/strep A/tonsilitis

mice infestation

constant cupboard moth infestation

silverfish in the bathrooms (constant)


athletes foot


Most of these things have been resolved/slathered in oldish creams from under the bathroom sink, though a few stubbornly remain. Like this morning, I got up with Remi at 6ish to find Ned, the Perpetual Early Riser, telling me that he has seen a ‘dark shadow’ run from under the couch back into the kitchen. I wish a ‘dark shadow’ was a mystery but we all know it’s yet another interloping mouse. Apparently they have a new lot of babies every 21 days so it’s like this race to track them down and extinguish them before they take over your kitchen entirely.

The worst of all these modern-day plagues is probably the mice, followed by the worms, then the nits. I found out I had a head full of nits the evening after returning from a day at Soho Farmhouse. I had been lording it up there, swimming in the lovely pool and using their towels and sitting close to people in the sauna and then having the longest lunch amongst Chipping Norton’s finest media types (there were a LOT of them and they all didn’t seem to have proper/pressing jobs on this particular Friday and it did leave me scratching my head in wonderment though that could have been the nits) and then I came home to discover my poor old scalp was a louse playground. Nay, a louse breeding ground. Cue the tiny nit combs and oil treatments and a general feeling that we were all a bit unclean. Remi, of course, was Patient A. He had fat bold lice and the very worst see-through hair the exact color of the nits and lice as well as curly knots which don’t comb out that well. He ended up with a hair cut with George the Barber and now all his curls have gone along with the lice. I think they have gone anyway. My eyes can’t quite manage the strain of checking like they once could.

He was thrilled with his haircut. ‘Thrilled’ isn’t a word I use often but in this case it is a perfect choice. Also ‘chuffed’. It was like his real self was a boy with shorter hair but he just hadn’t known it. He smiled broadly the whole way and checks in the mirror in the morning to make sure the cut is still there. He gets worried if you ruffle his head in case it somehow brings back his former knotty bonce. He is also, in the photo above, sporting a faint leftover eyeliner moustache from World Book Day outfitting the day before.

In other news

Barnaby has a tattoo. I have mixed feelings about his tattoo.

I booked flights for our summer holiday which turned out to be horribly stressful as the flights kept going up each time I looked and the flight times get worse but I didn’t have a credit card with which to buy the tickets and so I just had to witness the brutal increases. A credit card did eventually come in the mail (that’s a whole other story about balance transfers and Martin’s Money Savers) and I came home late from work and felt the ticket-purchasing was critical to be done late on a Thursday night rather than on a day where I could be rational and calm about it and I ended up booking us flights home at 7am in the morning. This means a lost day, a terrible night-before, a shocking early morning transfer, and general discontent. I did this because of the Flight Purchasing Pressure. I would add this particular pressure to the emotional burden of women’s work. Mark doesn’t get involved in this kind of domestic chore thing. He did look up from the TV when I directly (loudly/aggressively) addressed him once I found out my booking error but his only contribution was to tell me he thought I said the flights were really cheap and he doesn’t want to fly home that early. No one engages in the boring hours of bloody flight searching but I SHALL EAT MY HAT if they don’t all moan when they have to get up at 4am the last day of the holiday.

Emotional labour is taxing.

Speaking of tax, how has our new-found allegiance to not-spending going, I imagine you asking?

Not very well. If there was some sort of ‘out of ten’ ranking awarded to people based on their new-found not-spending habits, I would give myself about six out of ten, ten being still blowing money like there’s an infinite supply, and one being like abstemious prudent people – the kind of people with apps that track their spending and ISAs and even weekly envelopes stuffed with cash that equate to exactly what they need for the week and once they run out they simply stop spending – the same people who use everything in their freezers and cupboards and who do a weekly delivered shop via Tescos rather than constantly run up to Waitrose from cremant and bacon and who go on shorter holidays in off-seasons and who borrow books from the library rather than buy and who do not buy Batsheva dresses from ebay on a bored whim. So I’m a six but I used to be an eight so I think that’s progress by anyone’s estimation.

I don’t buy coffee out anymore and I tell the children they must not steal any of my coins because they are very necessary. I try to cook up what we have in the fridge, drink less in the week, haven’t seen the inside of an uber for a month, and I returned a Solange Azagury Partridge cherry red lip ring because I thought the £150 would be better used on food. I fret about the accounts constantly and have anxiety dreams every night. I cry a bit more than I used to. Mark says YES THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT’S BEEN FREAKING ME OUT ALL THESE YEARS and I feel much kinder towards him and his tax-related stress wrinkles.

The lapses have steadily crept back in however and I am somewhat ashamed about this week’s excesses. A beauty treatment that shall not be named ended up costing me more than I had budgeted for, and I am also off this morning to get my silver roots turned back into golden blonde because the silver hair is threatening to take over my head. I accidentally ordered a game of Linkee from the evil Amazon because it felt like a fun thing to do, and I paid for a backgammon board because Barnaby said it was a good game to learn. I went out for pizza twice this week, bought a round for old friends accidentally (because sometimes it’s just the thing to do) and we stumbled upon a local quiz at The Mitre pub on Tuesday and bought wine and chips. Obviously, I bought tickets to Malta. None of this is helping.

In other other news

I have given up on intermittent fasting because it makes no difference to the girth of my arms. I am instead eating kefir yoghurt in the morning to make sure I have outstanding gut health. I am also stopping my run midway to do five pressups on various park benches in order to address the upper arm girth. Last night I split a shirt because the arm girth stresses out my seams. I imagine this is some sort of perimenopausal as-yet-unconnected symptom.

Ned had a birthday:

Spectacular World Book Day efforts and a magnificent video of the children helping their dad butcher, mince, label and vacuum-pack the deer he shot last month:

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3 Responses to Gross things: a list

  1. rose says:

    THANK YOU!!! Really sounds like you all are doing terrifically well. And there were enough crumbs to entice mice. Rodents are NOT fun and I would encourage looking into professional removal/prevention. Probably costs same as snake removal near Brisbane and equally worth having some one ELSE do the job.
    Malta sounds divine even if requires a 4am rising. Have them all sleep in their clothes (but not shoes). Keep your earplugs in that whole day.
    Best wishes and appreciation for the photos and especially the video. WHERE did that baby go so FAST?! You make such wonderful babies and clearly are raising super adults for the future. Thank you again.

    • theharridan says:

      Thank you! It’s so lovely to hear from you and it is always just so encouraging to hear your enthusiasm and engagement. It keeps me going!

  2. I also have mice. But none of the other things, for which I am grateful. And I share the flight-booking pressure problem, so you are not alone.

    If you keep going up two financial numbers every month, or even up two then back one, within six months you will be one of those frugal organized people with apps and envelopes of cash for the week. Then you can turn your blog into a smug account of how you raised six boys on some ludicrously small number of pounds per week and drive the whole internet out of its mind with jealousy and/or admiration.

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