Saturday, 28 February 2015

Babies, beaches and more babies.

Baby update.  She starts nursery next week! Holy moly. That light at the end of the tunnel just got a whole lot closer.  Just two mornings a week, so hardly opening up a whole new world for me, but still.  Two will become three, will become five, will be boarding school before she knows it.  (That’s what she gets for coming out with this, after months of us yearning for a full sentence from her:  “YOU NO COME MY PARTY!” Any slight, and we are NFI’d. “Me have party.  Big party.  Big Amow-Woof-Woof party.  Dada come.  Yaya come.  Deddie come. MAMA NO COME.  Mama MEAN.” )
In other news, we fled Singapore last week, three hours’ drive  up the Malaysian coast.  So, if you live in London (and managed to find a time of day with no traffic, and a route with no road works) it’s a bit like you driving to... Poole?  Weymouth?  Anyway, somewhere coastal and beachy.   Which is, I think, where the similarities end. 



(Listen, if I can’t show off on my own blog, where can I do it?)  Of course, because we had children with us, it was less Paradise, more Paradise Lost.  The usual refereeing and cajoling and berating and trying to work out the best sleeping arrangements, and cut feet and insect bites and sunscreen in the eyes etc.  Also, the most atrocious table manners I’ve seen outside of the zoo’s Orang Utan enclosure.  But still, LOOK AT IT:


(If you want to know why we moved to Asia, that is why.)

Much excitement when we got home – not least because we’d had a return car journey devoid of any vomit – to find that these little balcony dwellers (aren’t nests amazing?  How do they do it? I’ve got hands and opposable thumbs and I can barely make my bed*):



Had turned into this: 



I must admit to having gotten a teeny bit choked up.  Little babies!  But then I got a grip and called the nursery to confirm the Baby’s start date.  AND THEN, giddy with the whiff of FREEDOM I went online and looked up jobs.  But it turns out that I am good for nothing, and so I did something equally optimistic, and loaded a few books onto my Kindle. 

First up:  Elizabeth Is Missing – about an old woman losing her marbles who spends a lot of time shouting at her daughter.  Hmmm.

(*Theoretically speaking, of course...) 

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Happy Chinese* New Driving Licence (*sort of)

Happy (Chinese) New Year!  It’s sort of great having another go at New Year resolutions – because I really didn’t do too well at the last ones.  Two weeks since my last post?  Ridiculous.   What could I have been doing with my time? 

Well, mostly I was driving hither and thither, as usual, and when not in the car I seem to have been queuing.  Also, shouting.  There has been a lot of queuing and subsequent shouting the past couple of weeks.   (Which reminds me - a warm thank you to the manager of Universal Studios for those complimentary fast passes.) Oh, and studying the Highway Code – I had my driving test on Monday.  (You can only drive on a foreign  licence for a year here, then you have to convert it to a local one.)  It’s simple enough – a multiple-choice exam on the rules of the road – but the logistics involved in getting it done would make you bleed from the eyes.  In fact the entire morning  - as outlined below - was one of deep, traumatising stress. (By way of background - the test was at 1030.  Registration was at 1015. I was aiming to get there before 930 to take the mock test beforehand.)

850 – Put test centre address into Google, and set off.
915 – Arrive at test centre address.  Slightly puzzled to find self at a factory.  Security guards puzzled too.  Also amused.  Get directions to the other road with basically the same name.
925 – Pull in to housing estate to ask for directions.
926 – Ask someone else.
927 – And again.
928 – Give up and revert to Google.  Goole basically says Why didn’t you TELL me it was THAT street, and we set off.
940 – Arrive at test centre, park in test centre car park.
942 – Ask Information Desk assistant [so many misnomers in that title] for assistance in topping up cash card (needed to pay for new licence.  Test centre rules – No cash.  No cheques. No credit cards.  No debit cards.  Only option for me was $50 on the car-parking card thingy you keep in your car. Top up is done at most petrol stations or small shops.)  Assistant unable or unwilling to assist whatsoever.  Is confused about mere existence not only of cashcards, but also petrol stations or other commercial outlets.  Also, looks bewildered to be approached by a stranger asking questions.  
942.30 – Start to mildly hyperventilate.
944 – Back into car and off to find a petrol station. Get caught in a one-way system just outside the test centre which brings me straight onto the highway. Curse loudly.
954 – FIND ONE!
955 – Back into car and to find a petrol station which does cashcard top up.
956 – SHOUT LOUDLY AT SELF AND AT TRAFFIC
1000 – FIND ONE!
1003 – Breathe deeply and head back to test centre.
1008 – Arrive at test centre. Car park full. Car park “assistant” tells me to park at “government car park”.  “Where is that?” “Out there,” he says, gesturing towards the road. 
1009 – I head “out there”, and find self back on the one-way road leading to the motorway.
1009.30 - SCREAM LOUDLY AT SELF AND SECURITY GUARD AND TRAFFIC
1010 - Perform illegal U-turn. Hope no-one looking out of Test Centre window.
1011 – Find street parking.  Parallel park like a mofo, then reach for street-parking coupons.  Remember that had made a mental note to self to buy more street-parking coupons,  and then ignored said mental note.  SCREAM AT SELF. Smile and wave at concerned passer-by.
1012 – Set off to find another car park.  Sob slightly.
1019 – Give up and just park on side of the street.  Do something very illegal, which may or may not involve reusing old car parking coupons  I find under my seat.
1021 – Jay walk.  Also illegal. 
1024 – Arrive, panting, sweating, and shaking, at test centre.
1026 – Try to explain predicament to stony-faced test centre “assistant” then start to get slightly hysterical.
1027 – Sit down. Breathe.  Curse. Breathe some more.
1030 – Start test.  This is easy! I am nailing it. 
1032 – Computer breaks down. Look around. Everyone else going hell for leather. Karma is not biting any other single person on the ass.   
1033 – Go looking for assistant.  Nowhere to be found.
1034 – Sit back down and stare at frozen screen.
1035 – Apologise, mentally, and belatedly, to all those people I have shouted at in past week.  Pray to the Gods of Driving Tests.
1036 – Assistant appears! Prayer is a wonderful thing.  Shouting is not.
1037 – Restart test, and skip through it, because I am a very excellent studier of road rules.
1045 – 98%!  I ROCK THIS SHIT.
1047 -  Take queue ticket  - C58 - for licence conversion and sit and wait.  Screen shows C41, A33, A34.
1130 -  C42 has disappeared from screen.  Now on A66, A67, A68. Try the prayer thing again.
12.10 –A93, A94, A95.   Put on mean mummy face and go find someone to shout at.
12.15 – Leave test centre with receipt for new driving licence.   


Moral of the story?  Shouting is better than prayer for getting shit done. 

Thursday, 5 February 2015

The Baby

Toddlers are totally insane aren’t they?  This isn’t exactly news to me, but the sheer magnitude of the insanity is more obvious the third time around – possibly because when the Boy was 2½ I had an 8 month old to deal with, and when the Girl was that age I had (HORROR) a newborn. (And a 4 year old. HOW DID I DO IT??)  Now I have a small crazy person who exists in an orb of craziness containing only herself.
Here she is – proof of the dementia:

That photo wasn’t staged, by the way – she hissed until I passed her the teeth and popped them in all by herself.  (She’s been hissing – and spitting – ever since she saw Jurassic Park last week*;  seems that the large spitting dinosaurs made quite the impression on her.)  Then she wore them for two hours, drool running down her face the entire time. (Also, that photo, teeth aside, isn't very flattering.  She is really quite cute.  We just have to remember not to put her in the Boy's scraggy old pjs and to brush her hair occasionally.)
Like all the best mad people, she likes to collect things - in this case, cats – stuffed, plastic, paper, wooden – and carries as many as she can around with her at all times. They are all called “Am-ow”, the name solemnly declared after protracted thought.   "Am-ow" is actually her favourite word. We play an after-dinner game, whereby I ask the kids three questions (eg: What would you eat for your last dinner?  What will you be when you grow up?  Who do you love more, Mum or Dad?), and to these questions, every single time she answers – deadly serious – “Am-ow Woof Woof.” The other kids then shriek with glee and the Baby stands up in her high chair and takes a bow.  It’s fucking hilarious.  
Her madness comes into its own at bedtime – when, unsurprisingly, she refuses to go to bed until the others are  going too.  This, I think, is at the root of her very being:  she thinks she is one of them – older, calmer, in need of less sleep.  So I lie on my bed reading bedtime stories at 730pm – half an hour after the Baby’s bedtime - the Boy snuggling on one side, the Girl on the other, and the Baby sprawled on top of me, wriggling unceasingly, cackling manically and periodically ripping pages out of the book.  Then we have the great Go To Bed Charade, where the Boy and the Girl pretend to go to bed, and I whisk the Baby off to her room, zip her up into her bag (inside out and backwards), tuck her in with her retinue of cats, and begin the process of... emptying her room of everything in it.  She’s very polite about it – sits up in bed pointing at objects, banishing them for the night. “Aaaaaaaand... DAT! Da, Mama.  Aaaaaaand... DAT!  Da, Mama.   Aaaaaaand... DAT!  Da, Mama.”  (She is nothing if not well mannered.) Then, once the room is suitably empty, she lies back down, pulls the blankets up over her face, and whispers to all of the Am-ows; when I go to check on her later on, she’s lying there, still under the blanket, a halo of stuffed cats encircling her.  It’s very sweet.  
I’m tempted to wish that it continues for as long as possible, but I think that only a 2 year old can get away with it.  Any older and it stops being funny and sweet and becomes... troubling. 
Anyway.  All this because it struck me today that she is now the oldest youngest child I have ever had.  That teeny speck of light in the distance? That is the end of the tunnel my friends... I am both jubilant and a little bit sad.   


*What?  Jurassic Park is TOTALLY appropriate for a 2 year old. It's the 4 and 6 year olds who've been having the nightmares... 

Sunday, 1 February 2015

One. (But at the same time, Middle-Aged. It's very confusing.)

It was our first anniversary of moving here a few weeks ago – an event which passed by, not unnoticed, but unmarked, simply because the Man was away and the children were not.   Since then, in between driving the kids all over the island, random doctor’s visits, and entertaining my mum, I’ve been giving some thought to how I feel about being here.  (Better late than never, right?)  The good news is that overall, I like it, particularly the following:
The sunshine.  Yes it can get overly hot, yadayadayada, but knowing it’s going to be sunny everyday is FABULOUS. Also, when it rains, you can be fairly sure that it’s not going to last for 37 days’ straight and wash away most of the houses around you.  (But if it did, it’s be warm flooding.)
Outdoor life.  Living in a decent climate enables you to gently kill – as oppose to frantically try to murder – parenting time. These are some of the suggestions we bandy about when faced with the horror of A Full Day With The Kids:  Splash park? Beach?  Botanic gardens?  Cycling? Picnic?  Zoo?  Riverside? Jungle walk? And then having decided what we’re going to do we get up and DO IT.  (Well, eventually.)
Great roads.  I saw my first pothole last week and it was sorted by the time I’d dragged the Man out to see it, less than 24 hours later. (This might seem quite a strange, and possibly middle-aged (ahem) observation, however, if you’ve ever lived in London you will appreciate just how underrated a smooth road-surface is.)
Going for a swim in your tropical pool after school v. schlepping to Clapham Fucking Common every single day. (Aka - no more losing toes to frostbite/trench foot.)
Related to the above, your small children turning into merpeople.  (Albeit merpeople with water-born skin diseases – see below.)
Singaporeans do not, in general, tend to flock to the Arts.  And so last-minute tickets to the theatre and concerts are fairly easy to get.  (Not that we’ve necessarily done any flocking of our own, however it’s good to know that if the urge ever arose, we could do it.) 
Oh god, how haven’t I mentioned live-in-maids yet?  LIVE IN MAIDS.
And by default - because some other poor soul is wrestling the kids into the bath - a gin & tonic on the balcony at sundown.  Northern European balconies in February have nothing on their Singaporean counterparts.
Baking with yeast!  None of your 2 hours’ rising time nonsense here.
I have forgotten what a runny nose looks like on my children.  Which is fairly incredible, considering that just over a year ago I would barely have recognised them without a trail of slime on their upper lips. 
Shops selling – with a straight face - stuff like this, which always amuses me NO END:


And things I don’t love, so much
Doing anything which involves bureaucracy or someone vaguely official.  AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH. Just as well I have experience dealing with recalcitrant toddlers or we would have no bank accounts, electricity, internet, or phones.
Ach, the expense.  Even coming from London, and even a year later, it still catches my breath.
The logistics involved in putting together a semi-decent grocery haul. (See also “Expense”, above, and “the Drivers” below.)
We really are very far away from anyone who isn’t also in Asia. And flying with three feral creatures just isn’t conducive to bridging the family-and-friends gap.
Singpost.   When you post things to go abroad here, you have about a 50:50 chance of them getting there.  (Mind you, you can be pleasantly surprised sometimes - I posted a birthday card to my god-daughter in London last September, which she got!  Admittedly she got it LAST WEEK, but still.)
The drivers.  For some reason when Singaporeans get into their cars, it seems that all traces of decency and consideration are wiped from them.  (Not so long ago I had to get out of my car at traffic lights and go knock on the window of the driver behind me to ask him to remove his car from where it had crashed to a halt, on top of the back of mine.  He stared straight ahead and refused to look at me. Like, you know, it was normal for his car to be essentially humping mine, and that I was the weird one.)
More often than not you have to be a total bitch to get even minor problems sorted.  (See also the example in “The drivers”, above)
Singaporean newspapers: awful awful awful.
Singaporean Radio: ditto.
Having to shout at your children Every. Single. Mealtime  to PUT SOME CLOTHES ON .
Clothes shopping.  Who knew that polyester was the fabric of choice in the Tropics?
Shoe shopping.  There’s something undignified about the way shoe-shop assistants gawp when they see my majestic European feet.
Random tropical kiddie inflictions.  “We” (the Baby)  are currently experiencing water worts.  (They’ll go away in about a year, apparently. Until then, her new nickname is Lumpalicious.) 
Frizzy unmanageable hair.  (God damn all the Singaporeans and their beautiful, humidity-proof, locks.)

And really... That’s it.  Yes I know that there are question marks over censorship here, and the justice system is somewhat... strict.  BUT.  I am old and cranky and only getting more so, and as such these things do not bother me unduly.  If I had to narrow it down, I’d say that the only thing I truly miss about London – apart from my friends, obv - is the Sunday newspapers, and Radio 4 droning on in the corner. 


OH GOD I AM SO MIDDLE AGED.  

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Tea AND crisps AND newspapers. I'm almost in heaven.

Excitement – and by that I mean near-hysteria – levels in the house are at an all-time high at the moment.   
First of all we have this:


Which is about 1/10th of the amount of gifts brought by my mum who is - joy! - visiting. So as well as having their beloved grandmother here (note to all grandmothers out there:  to ensure undying love of your grandchildren, give them Doritos and 7UP for breakfast while you’re minding them), the kids have IRISH JUNK FOOD also.   (I must admit to being pretty excited about this myself).
We also have these –



PROPER ENGLISH WEEKEND NEWSPAPERS!  (And look – it’s Esther from Recipe Rifle on the cover! [No need to explain yourself to me, Esther; anyone who enjoys playing with children is either (a) lying (b) insane or (c) being paid]) The Guardian remains unopened because I’m keeping it for this weekend.  (Pathetic, I know.)
Less excitingly for me, we also now have this:


Which is one half of the Furby Horror Show*.  If you’re fortunate enough to be ignorant on this matter, they are electronic pet-type things, not unlike Gremlins, but FAR more irritating. In fact they appear to be the creation of a very troubled mind indeed.  I think – although my limited experience on this does not so far back me up – that their behaviour changes the more they’re attended to;  in which case perhaps we have the faulty ones?  The faulty porn star Beavis and Butthead ones?  They seem to say little other than “Oh YEAH, Oh YEAH Baby”, and then snigger in a disturbing 15 year old male sort of way.  There is no Off button.  They fall asleep eventually,  but only if you put them on the balcony with a large cushion over them.  They can be quite cute if you put them facing each other, but within 3 minutes they’ve reverted to sniggering and panting like cheap hookers, and occasionally demanding food. It  goes without saying that the children LOVE them, cart them about everywhere, and leave them in unexpected places to cackle at me when I least expect it (the car;  the bathroom cupboard;  under my desk).  I am demented by it all.  
(*The other half was hidden away somewhere soundproof, and now we can’t find him, and I suspect the batteries have run out, so he cannot moan / thrust out his pelvis for help.  HUZZAH!)
And so I have been retreating to the kitchen more often than usual, despite the heat and the humidity and the lizards (one leapt out of a cupboard at me last night, frightening the life out of me.)   During one of these hideouts I happened to combine a drawerful of slowly-dying red peppers with my favourite easy dinner turn-to, and - Ta-Da! - a new easy dinner turn-to was born. 


Pasta with Red Pepper and Tomato sauce.
You need (for 4)
  • 4 peppers (red or yellow),deseeded and roughly chopped.
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped (or crushed)
  • Generous splash of olive oil
  • A few basil leaves (not a deal-breaker if you don’t have them)
  • 2 tins of tomatoes (whole, chopped or pureed)
  • Splash of balsamic vinegar
  • Pasta, to serve.  (Any type, and shape, any amount.)

Place a generous glug of olive oil in a large heavy pan, add the garlic and a couple of the basil leaves (if using).
When it starts to sizzle, add the chopped peppers. Stir well, turn down the heat, cover, and go have a cup of BARRY’S TEA while sitting on the balcony, feeling nostalgic for the sleet and damp of home.
Once you’ve got that out of your system – about 5 minutes – return to the peppers, stir, and add the vinegar.  Let it sizzle, then add the tomatoes and basil. 
Raise the heat, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and cover.
Go have half a block of Irish cheese and three packets of crisps, then go for a run / vomit. (Or not.)  Either way, after about 10 minutes, make your pasta, then drain, and add to the sauce (you want to give the sauce between 15-20 mins to simmer). Which you’ve taken off the heat, of course.
Mix well, and serve, with or without parmesan.

Actually, don’t limit this sauce to pasta;  it’s great with almost anything – eggs & warm tortilla wraps;  cold on hot buttered toast;  atop roast potatoes – or even better, eaten alone, warm, and topped with grated parmesan.  (Alone, that is, apart from four sinister robotic eyes watching your every move.)


Monday, 12 January 2015

Let sleeping birds and bees lie.

The kids went back to school today.  *DEEP THANKFUL SIGH*.  I am exhausted. The week passed in the usual blur of shame, poverty and frustration, with a few FaceBook photo opportunities thrown in for good measure, so that everyone – including me - can see what a fun, energetic, harmonious family we are.
I asked the kids last night what their highlights of the week were.  Once I got past the groans and the moans, and the Boy’s  assertions that there were NONE, this was what they came up with:
  • Watching The Incredibles while eating a tube of Pringles
  • That bit in Indiana Jones 2 when the man gets his heart ripped out
  • Computer time (the Boy)
  • Sleeping in Mummy’s bed (the Girl)
  • Wearing pyjamas all day
  • Eating all that sugar in the cafe (Oh, if the woman who screeched at the Boy is reading this – FUCK YOU)

So - not the beach, or the zoo, or the science zone, or the indoor play area, or the Botanic Gardens, or the water park, or Universal Studios, or any of the other money-burning and brain-bleeding activities we went to?
  • Oh yeah, University Studios.

Speaking of which, the kids got more of an education than they – or I – were expecting yesterday.  Driving home from the water park the Boy started asking about my sister’s marital status.
Boy: So is Uncle B her husband?
Me: No, they’re not married.
Boy: Oh. (Pause) So how do they have a baby?  Did they just kiss without being married?  Are you allowed to kiss without being married?
Me: You don’t have to be married either to kiss or to have a baby.  (Inwardly: What are you talking about?)
Boy:  Seriously?  You can just kiss and have a baby any time you want?
Me:  WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?
Boy: When you kiss, that’s how you get a baby.
Girl:  Yes.  You kiss and kiss and the seed goes into your tummy where the egg is waiting and then it hatches a baby.
Me:  No. That’s not how you get a baby.  (OHGODOHGODOHGOD) 
Boy: So how do you get a baby?  Not from the seed in your mouth?
Me:  The seed to make the baby is in your penis, you know that.  
Boy: And then you put the seed in your mouth and kiss the girl, right?
Girl:  Who lays a baby.
Me:  (JESUS CHRIST!)  No.
Boy:  Well WHAT THEN?
Me: The seed goes from your penis into the woman’s vagina.  (PLEASE LET THAT BE THE END OF IT.)
Boy: HOW?
Me:  The. Man. Puts. His. Penis. In. The. Woman’s. Vagina.
Boy:  
Girl:
Me: Ahem.
Boy:  (TOTALLY AGHAST) SERIOUSLY???
Me:  Seriously.
Boy:  But.... WHY?
Me:  To make a baby.
Boy: But... Why can’t you just take the seed out and put it in the vagina?  Why do you have to put your penis in there too?  (He is almost in tears at this point.)
Me:  Ask Dad.  He’ll tell you all about having a penis.
Boy
Me: (Sudden awful thought) Oh, and Freds?  No talking to other kids about this, ok? 
Boy: (Totally disgusted)  NO WAY!


Well.  I think that went well, don’t you? 

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

2015, and all that (already)

Hello!  And happy 2015! So, where were we?  Ah, yes, it was New Year’s Eve.  And then it was New Year’s Day, and I decided to abandon my Caring For The Sick duties for an hour or so, and headed out with our driver (I know!). About an hour into my  Peace and Quiet – about which I was taking my sweet time - his phone rang. He barked some Bahasa waffle into it, and hung up.  My husband, I mused aloud, wondering where I am?  No, he responded - it was the villa manager.  They need the car urgently because one of the kids had an accident and needs to go to hospital. 

Well, that was not at all stressful.  For the next 25 minutes one part of my brain was hoping that the statistics, stacked against me as owner of 60% of the children, would fail, while the other part berated me for, by default, wishing ill on my nephew and niece.  Common sense kicked in tho', when it dawned on me that of course it was the Girl who’d fallen or tripped or bashed herself in the eye with a bat. Without wishing to put her in a box, if she was put in a box she’d fall out of it and break a tooth.   As it turned out, I was right – she’d tripped and split her chin, and so I got straight back in the car and off we crawled through the deeply annoying Bali traffic to hospital.

We left the next day, the sick and the weak and the injured, and climbed aboard an Air Asia flight over the Java Sea to Singapore.  The plane shook and bounced around like a tin can, and I swear, every single person on board held their respective breaths for the entire journey (except for my children who demanded apple juice, and fought over the ipad, and all announced bursting bladders at precisely the same time as the seat-belt sign was turned on, etc).  And then – phew – we were safe and sound, and HOME.   (Say what you will about sterile Singapore, but when you’ve spent what feels like 80% of every day in another Asian country sitting in unmoving traffic on roads made from spit and sawdust,  it is somewhat joyous to get back here.) Santa had been and there was much initial excitement (which in retrospect was more likely a bed-time procrastination technique), however since then, and in line with a recent Onion-esque headline, 100% of children are totally ignoring their Christmas presents.  (Actually, what it should read is: “100% of children are more inclined to bicker and fight than deign to glance at their Christmas presents”). 

And now the Man has buggered off to London for TWO WEEKS (in his defence he’s not just going to London for a jolly - he’s going skiing in France for a weekend too) and the kids are still on The School Holidays Which Will Never End, and the Baby has decided that as she’s suddenly all lanky and skinny, it’s time she joined in the intra-sibling violence.  

However.  It is not all hideousness.  Some light relief in the form of the Boy, when, at the weekend, atop a tall building and looking down I remarked that I had the willies, he responded:  “Don’t be silly Mum, you have the vaginas.”  And then there’s always parenting mortification to distract one from Holiday Hell.  In the lift today, a nice (I thought) lady asked me what floor I wanted.  7 please.  She pressed 6.  “What apartment are you in?”;  I told her.  “Oh, you’re directly above me.  You’re children are very... lively....”  “Ah, yes”  I smiled, and rolled my eyes and grimaced a bit, in a conspiratorial, aren’t-they-shocking sort of way.  “Maybe you should get some furniture.  It sounds as if you don’t have any.”  “Really?” “Yes, it sounds very... empty. And energetic.”  “Oh.  We have furniture.  Generally they’re jumping on it. Or pushing each other off it.”  She didn’t laugh.  Thankfully, the World’s Longest Lift Ride came to an end, and she stepped out, shaking her head, and saying “So very lively.  More furniture I think.”  

And then when I got in to the apartment I discovered that a bird had gotten into the Boy’s room and shat all over it, and I found self wishing that we didn’t have any furniture, or at the very least none in that particular room.  Also, somewhat bizarrely, the Boy REFUSED to accept that it was bird-shit, insisting instead that it was melted chocolate. Because, you know, it’s so much more likely that melted chocolate dropped from the ceiling and splattered all over his room, than that a poor stupid bird managed to get through the half-inch window-space, crap everywhere, and then squeeze out again.  My parenting day ended a couple of hours ago with a game of backgammon with the Boy, and further humiliation. (He's six. He learnt to play YESTERDAY. He clearly cheated.)  


Ah, it’s good to be home.