To clothe or not to clothe

So there we were one evening, on holiday in Spain, on our fifth bottle of wine (ouch) chatting to the chap that owned the farmhouse we were staying in and he recommended a really good beach down the road.  He said that a small coach picked up and dropped off in the car park every 20 minutes or so and that the waters were calm and crystal clear and you could swim with fish.  It sounded perfect.  I have two young boys and they swooned at the idea of swimming with fish.  So two days later, off we went.

20 Minutes into our journey through windingly beautiful mountain paths and tunnels, we arrived at the beach.  Two Euros each got us on the coach and we were transported down yet more windingly beautiful mountain paths towards the beach.

What a sight.  It was truly beautiful.  Calm waters as promised.  Crystal waters as promised.  Two restaurants – nice surprise.  Not at all crowded – suited me.  Little parasols and sun beds that you could hire for five Euros each – a little dear – but hey, we were on holiday.  We made ourselves comfortable, got our goggles on and headed to the delights of the ocean.

En route I noticed a few naked boobies – that’s okay, I thought, a lot of people in Spain sunbathe topless.  (Must have to cover those nips up with loads of sun cream though eh-?)  I also noticed that a lot of these women had forgotten to put on their bikini bottoms.  There was an array of waxed, shaved, Brazilian and Neanderthal.  It was only then that I had a good look around and noticed that a lot of the men had their todgers hanging out.  I had to sit down.  I had to sit down and get a good look.

Using the excuse of getting used to the water, I sat in the pebbly surf and surveyed the area around me.  Clearly the beach was a mix of both clothed and unclothed people, of all ages and all sizes.  However, most of the women had very good bodies and most of the men were very well endowed.  Not that I’ve seen a lot of naked men you understand, but I have viewed the odd ‘adult movie’ and I can tell you, if all else failed, these sun worshipping men had potential careers in the adult film industry.  It was interesting that our landlord had failed to mention this interesting fact about the beach – but then I do like a good surprise.

My boys seemed not to notice except for when the younger one pointed at an elderly gent, willy dangling close to his knees and shouted “Look Mum, look at that man’s big willy!”  The shame.

My husband and I are not naturists – don’t get me wrong – I enjoy a good walk in the woods but I tend to do this fully clothed.  Nor, am I one to flaunt my body.  I do have the body of an 18 year old, but I keep it in the fridge.  (Thank you Spike.)  I am also not a pervert but I will confess to thoroughly enjoying looking at all the different bodies, shapes, sizes, poses, and most of all confidence.  Because they were, all very confident.  And I envied them.  I’ve never had confidence when it comes to my body.  I’m more bouncy castle than buxom blonde.  If I ‘had it’ then I would most definitely flaunt it – no doubt about it.  I can completely see the attraction of not wearing any clothes on the beach.  Such freedom.  (Although I do worry about where the sand gets to…)

Sadly, God chose to bless me with appetite as opposed to attractiveness.  If there was a large hole in a ship and it was going down, I would be very handy in stopping it up.  If I was travelling with a group of friends and we were kidnapped by cannibals – my friends’ chances of survival would be greater as surely, I would be the tastier, more fulfilling option.  So, in terms of body ‘performance’ – I do have my plus points.

Although finding these naked specimens on the beach was a surprise, it did not detract from the enjoyment of the beautiful Mediterranean ocean and indeed, we swam with and even fed the fish.  They were almost frenzied by a slice of bread – on piranha scale – and at times it was intimidating.  However, it was no more intimidating than standing next to a beautiful woman with a size 30 inch waist, tiny little hips, 32DD boobies and the most beautiful all over tan.  Sigh.

In order to continue my study of the human body, we visited the same beach three times in total whilst we were on holiday and were never disappointed.  On the last day I took my binoculars.  There was a small ship on the horizon that needed a good looking at…


Guilty pleasures

When is it no longer acceptable, as an almost 41 year old woman, to have a crush on a pop star?  And I don’t just mean that I swoon whenever I see a photo of him, I mean I am truly smitten.  His voice takes me to places I haven’t been in years and I have, in my daydreaming moments, planned a life with him.  I have it all worked out.  Sadly it does not include my current family but you know, I’m sure we could work out some kind of timeshare scheme whereby I get to see whoever I want whenever I want.  I’m not greedy I just want what I want.  What’s wrong with that?


I say ‘pop star’ but he’s so much more than that.  He’s indie/rock and he’s… well, he’s, he’s, he’s lush, really lush.  And his voice is so emotional and vulnerable I just feel he needs looking after and hello, I just know we’d be perfectly matched, in every way.


I feel completely immature, ridiculous, air-headed, pathetic and if I’m honest, slightly embarrassed.  But I can’t help myself.  If it was acceptable for soon to be 41 year old women to have posters up all over their bedroom, I would be enveloped from head to toe in Nate Ruess.  He’s the lead singer of the band Fun and I think I love him.  Google him.  Do Images first and then Wikipedia him.  I hope you’ll be pleasantly surprised. God, if he had been at school the same time as me – I would have died every day just looking at his face.  I’m glad he wasn’t because if he was and if he’d had a girlfriend then I’d be in prison now serving life for first degree murder.  The bitch wouldn’t have stood a chance.


I think he’s fab, I really do.  When I’m cooking and everyone else is doing their own thing i.e. TV, PC, DS, DVD, and all the other abbreviations that people occupy themselves with these days, I close the kitchen door, turn up Nate’s sultry tones and I sing along like there’s no tomorrow.  Occasionally I dance.  You’ve heard of Dad Dancing, this is SO Mum Dancing that even I’m embarrassed.  But I think f*** it, and I get down.  I used to be able to dance, I really did.  I still have rhythm but for some reason when I do those really cool moves that Beyoncé does (oh yeah baby – you better believe it), I just look like a deranged fat woman on speed.  It’s not pretty.


This brings to mind the fact that my eldest is having a sleepover for his birthday next Saturday evening.  I have threatened to dance in front of his friends and he is worried, seriously worried; he’s not entirely convinced I’ll do it but I am his mother and he knows me, so on a scale of 1 to 10, he is currently at 10.  It doesn’t get any more worrying than that.  There’s nothing I like better than humiliating myself in public.  As Oscar Wilde said, “Children begin by loving their parents; after a time they judge them; rarely, if ever, do they forgive them.”  That’s what I’m hoping to achieve next week.  That’s on my List Of Things To Do.


So, if you’re as sad as me then please have a look at Nate.  (Not that you need to be sad to listed to Nate – au contraire.)  Listen to the album Fun – Some Nights.  I would add that I am not at all affiliated with the band or its production company or any of that stuff, so there is nothing in it for me.  I’m simply sharing a bit of love.  A bit of Nate love.  I also love the New Radicals’ only album Maybe You’ve Been Brainwashed Too – I have literally torn the arse out of this album – I know all the lyrics, all the instruments and I sound exactly like Gregg Alexander when I sing.  Ok, so maybe that’s a slight exaggeration but it is a really cool album and so sad that they only made the one.  They’re another band that should have received more attention than they ever did.  The album is wonderful, every single track, but my all time favourite is the last one – Cry Like A Church On Monday.  When everyone is either tucked up in bed or snoring on the sofa with the TV on too loud, and I have my headphones on and am on my fifth, sixth or seventh glass of wine, this song does it for me.  It is simply beautiful.  And, I’m really good at singing it, really good.  Although I normally only sing it when everyone’s asleep so it is only my opinion.  So far, no-one has died whilst I have been singing it and I take that to be a good sign.


So, I’m 41 going on 15.  Seriously, I am almost an embarrassment to myself.  But I think I’ve earned my stripes.  And if I want to be in love with someone who is younger than me, if I want to dribble over their album covers and sing their songs when the world has gone to bed, no-one can stop me.  That is my guilty pleasure and it is mine, all mine.

No Jumping

This afternoon, in order that I could have a few hours to myself to recreate my CV, my husband took the children swimming at our local sporting village.  Also, I had just been upstairs to put on my swimsuit and was so nauseated by the image in the mirror (I’m not entirely convinced it was me – there were body parts I simply did not recognise), I decided I shouldn’t be seen in public.  I felt bad not going with the boys but the fact was that I would be doing them a favour by not exposing my fleshy bits to the outside world.  (Thinking about it, I’m starting to see the benefits of a burka.)  So off they went all excited and chatty as I waved them goodbye from the front door.


A few hours later they returned with slightly wet hair, big smiles and a bag of chocolate buttons.  I was of course happy to see them but it was the buttons that brought the biggest cheer.  Yippee, chocolate!  A woman can never have enough.  Licking my sticky fingers we sat down and started chatting and I was shocked to learn that at the swimming pool, you are not allowed to jump in.  My five year old had been standing on the edge and had launched himself into the water when my husband was politely instructed not to do that please.  Not to do what?  Display this rather rotund belly in public?  No sir, please do not allow your child to jump into the pool.  Really?  No jumping?  Yes sir, health and safety.  Health and safety?  He was speechless.  I was speechless, which is in itself a shocking occurrence. 


I can understand no running around the edge of the pool – one could fall and hurt themselves.  I can understand no bombing – one could jump on an elderly person or small child.  I can understand no smoking in the pool – at nearly £10 a pack you’d simply be wasting your money.  But no jumping into the water?  Really?  What else is it there for?


When I was a kid we jumped in.  We actually ran, yeah ran, and then jumped in.  We didn’t die.  We saw other people jump in.  They didn’t die.  When my husband was little he jumped from diving boards that were 12ft. high.  He didn’t die.  Years ago you were allowed to wear a snorkel and flippers in a public swimming pool.  What fun!  You could be a deep sea diver searching for lost treasure.  You could be the Man from Atlantis (obviously with the help of a snorkel otherwise you could well have died if you didn’t come up for air).  A couple of years ago my eldest saved his money and bought himself a snorkel and flippers only to be told that he was not allowed to use it at the public swimming pool.  Why?  Because there weren’t enough lifeguards and he would need constant watching.  What?  Why?  Surely it’s the kids in the deep end without a snorkel that you should be watching, the ones that are clearly battling to make it to the side without drowning.  (Where are her parents?!)  What has gone wrong with our society?


Did you hear the one about the bar staff who wouldn’t let a customer carry a tray of drinks because he/she had not been health and safety trained?  Then there was the one about the charity shop who said they could not sell knitting needles for health and safety reasons.  Yo-yos were banned from a school playground.  Footballs were banned in the playground unless they were made of sponge.  There are so many.  I could go on but I’m getting so angry I’m in danger of finishing this bottle of wine.


For goodness sake, the authorities turn a blind eye to dogging in case it takes away someone’s human right to sexually express themselves in a way they feel fit ,and yet swimming pools in Bournemouth a few years ago were told to stop lending inflatables to families who hadn’t brought their own, because they couldn’t guarantee they’d be free of bacteria.  But it’s okay to take your children for a walk in the woods on a sunny afternoon and accidentally witness two men shagging a woman on all fours whilst wearing nothing but her birthday suit.  Hello!  Is anyone out there?!


Our children have less freedom today than they’ve ever had before and the little freedom they do have, we seem to be constantly losing control over.  What we did when we were younger, kids would never be allowed to do today – and if you do allow them a little more freedom than is the ‘norm’, you are portrayed as an irresponsible parent.  They are so wrapped in cotton wool that when they do accidentally hurt themselves it becomes a major issue and only a colourful designer plaster will do. 


I let my youngest, who is five, light candles with matches – under my supervision of course.  He’s burnt himself a few times, I won’t lie – very minor injuries, no scarring, mentally or physically.  (I can just imagine Social Services warming the engine as I speak.)  However, he has total respect for matches and fire and he is well aware of the danger they pose.  He does not go near a match without asking me first – he wouldn’t dream of it.  And if I say no, then it’s no.  He knows he needs supervision because it’s dangerous.  When my husband was his age he was playing on bomb sites in the East End – often setting fire to them just so they could wait until the fire brigade arrived.  What jolly japes..!


I realise we have moved onwards and upwards and there are things that are no longer appropriate for children today and some of them I agree with.  However, if we’re going to give them a childhood, let’s make it an interesting one, let’s make some of it ‘on the edge of your seat’ stuff.  Safe and supervised ‘on the edge of your seat’ stuff.  It teaches children a lot about themselves when they are given a little more freedom – it helps them make choices for themselves.  They won’t always make the right choice but hopefully they won’t make the wrong choice twice.

Why is there egg in my fish pie?

Wine used to be my friend.  We used to get on famously.  She’d be the first person I’d speak to when I got home from work.  We’d stare lovingly at each other, caress each other and then slowly move closer until we were one.  She made me happy.  Without me, she had no purpose.  Without her the nights were so long.  But things have changed.  Suddenly she tires me, almost instantly.  I feel a little nauseous when our lips meet.  But I still feel as though I need her and even though I know I’m going to feel a little ill.  I continue to test myself though, just to make sure I haven’t made a mistake, I haven’t just dreamed it.  Slurp.  Cold.  Fruity.  Dry.  Delish.  The evening looks better already…

Five minutes later, and the novelty has died off.  WTF?!  When did that start to happen?  And more importantly, why?  Who said that could happen?  Why deny me that one small pleasure?  It’s not like I treat myself to anything else.  I’m not an alcoholic.  I’m a social drinker.  This is what I do to slide into the evening, to shake off the day, to go from Manager to Mum.  I know that strictly speaking children and alcohol should not go together, but nor should caramel and salt and hey – look how well that works.

Sod it, I’m going to persevere.  Life without wine – what would be the point?  Some of the most romantic evenings I’ve had with, my husband have been fueled by copious amounts of wine.  Some of the bravest conversations I’ve had with my boss have been triggered by several bottles of vino.  She is my friend and it doesn’t matter how sleepy she makes me I am going to continue to try and rekindle that old, familiar relationship.

Also, she often makes me more tolerant.  For years I have been cooking fish pie.  For years I have been putting capers and egg in it.  For years my family has loved it and eaten it.  All of it.  And then tonight, “Why is there egg in my fish pie?”

“There is always egg in your fish pie.”

“I don’t like it.”

“Eat it.”


“Because it’s good for you.”

“But I don’t like it.”

“You’ve always eaten it, eat it now.”

“There’s been egg in my fish pie all this time?”


“How could you?  Why didn’t you tell me?  You tricked me!  I hate it!”

He leaves the table and runs upstairs.

Normally I’d shout, run after him, tell him off, drag him back to the table, threaten him with locking him in the cupboard.  (Joke.)  And make him eat his dinner.  I am in charge for God’s sake.  He’s five, he needs to know this.  Instead, I take a long sip, gaze out of the window and watch the soft rain falling on the decking and the magpies eating the last of the stale hot cross buns on the lawn; I turn to my ten year old and ask “How was your day today Sweetie?”  And all is well with life.

He’ll come down eventually and eat the last of his cold fish pie WITH egg.  And me, I’ll be on the sofa watching some drivel on TV before I put them both to bed, maybe on my second glass.  Relaxed.  Calm.  Smiling.  Catastrophe avoided.  And all is well with life.