Thursday, 26 March 2009

Be still my beating heart

The Apprentice is back! Oh how I have missed it. The utterly pointless and totally unconvincing bravado, the odd haircuts, the curiously childish ineptness (we are going to clean luxury cars - bring the cans of oven cleaner!) and the bitching. Oh. My. God. The bitching.

I hate to say it but this programme invariably makes me ever so slightly squirmingly embarassed to be female. The boys may tear each other to shreds in the boardroom but at least they pretend to be team players for a while. The girls start having at it with the sharpened cutlery before they have even started the task! And they don't just bitch and backbite, they whine too. I am female and have worked in business for over 20 years and I have never, ever met anyone who approaches work like these so called high fliers. Maybe I have just been lucky.

Or maybe these people aren't real. Maybe Sralan has a secret farm somewhere in the depths of Essex where he breeds contestants for The Apprentice (he probably has a lucrative sideline in mind-buggeringly awful contestants for The X Factor too - you are not telling me those people are real either). Perhaps in some quiet little English lane, tucked away from sight, if you listen carefully you can just hear the plaintive calls of Sralan's livestock: "I am the complete package!" "I am totally ruthless and totally focussed" "There is no point in coming second" "I am not here to make friends. If you stand in my way, I will destroy you!" Makes you wonder whether the ones that get fired end up as cat food.

Roll on Wednesday night!

Tuesday, 24 March 2009


Wow. Who knew that toast was such an emotive issue. There seem to be two camps with very firm views on the thorny issue of "how hot do you eat toast?" It warms my heart though to know that I am not alone and Jaggy, I am delighted to be one of the founder members of TSFLTCBBBBYCGMBOTWSS. Although I must confess when I first read your comment, I sort of read that acronym as "The Flabby Bottoms". My paranoia, I suspect (and the after effects of loading a LOT of butter onto properly cooled toast). By the way, how do you cool yours? I take mine out of the toaster and then sort of stand the slices on end, leaning against each other in an arch-like formation (means you can't have less than 2 slices at a time, but then why would you want to?) Okay, enought toast.

I am delighted to announce that spring really seems to have actually arrived here in blustery Edinburgh. The daffodils are properly out (and being blown about by the traditional March winds) and the grass needs cut. Even better, the evenings are getting lighter - as I type, it is 6.40pm and there is still a bit of daylight left! Woo hoo! We even managed to get out for a walk on a couple of evenings last week, returning across the fields in the gathering dusk, being elegantly divebombed by the local bat colony.

Today was even better. Today I got up at 6am and shuffled through to the boys' room. First Born was, as always, the invisible filling in a tightly rolled sausuage of duvet. Second Born was sprawled in his bed alongside his collection of stuffed rats and a guinea pig (also stuffed, thankfully). I poked him gently and told him the weather looked nice outside - the sun was just rising and even our mundane suburban street looked lovely and rosy in the light. He agreed it looked nice so we both got up and got dressed and went out for a run.

You heard me, we went out for a run. Not a big deal for SB who is comprised of equal parts india rubber and whippet but quite a development for his old mum who has not really been running since last summer and that whole not-dealing-with-life-very-well episode. And it was hard. I am out of practice and hideously out of shape. I had to walk a fair bit and SB amused himself by running backwards, doing the Ministry of Silly Runs and chattering away 19 to the dozen. I concentrated on breathing and remaining upright. We covered about 2.5km or 1.5 miles in old money and it just about killed me. But I am going out again this week weather permitting. I remember how much I enjoyed running when I could go out for 5 miles or so and I want to be that person again.

Oh and I have signed up to volunteer at the Edinburgh Marathon again this year, hopefully at the finish funnel. So if you know anyone who is running, tell them to look out for me and say hi. I'll be the one with the bags of jelly babies (I know how to make myself popular!)

Sunday, 22 March 2009

An eventful weekend

This has been, in the history of weekends, one of the best ever. Virtually flawless. Yesterday was Husband's birthday. He is.......old enough now that I will not state his age to the internet. Suffice it to say he is now, even more so than before, the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything. Moving on. I got up on Saturday morning and brought Husband up a cup of tea and a rum truffle from the batch I had made the night before. My Husband could probably survive solely on rum truffles and is perfectly happy to eat one before breakfast. Or indeed for breakfast.

I was accompanied by children bearing cards and gifts, mostly of the edible truffle-y kind. You can never have too many truffles or too much whisky apparently. Husband was delighted with the cards and the envelopes which had been richly decorated and sent "Humpty Post". What, you don't have Humpty Dumptys delivering mail in your house? How odd.

I then handed over my presents which were a pile of John Pilger and old World in Action documentary DVDs (I may not have to speak to Husband for about 6 months now) and more importantly, a penny. An Alexander III silver long cross penny to be exact. Husband is a bit of a history buff, especially Scottish history so I thought he would like to own something that old and I was right. He was sitting at almost midnight last night examining his penny under the USB microscope I got him for Christmas and establishing that it dated from 1280-1286 and had been minted in Aberdeen. Mind boggling that something that small survived all those hundreds of years and ended up in our living room.

The morning was rounded off nicely by the opening of the boys' school reports which were encouragingly positive. They made us read the highlights out loud to them. Ego maniacs in the making, both of them.

The rest of Saturday was pleasantly lazy and not much happened of note. Oh, except I was accosted at one point by Second Born in the kitchen. He sidled in looking nonchalant and asked me how I liked my toast. I said buttered and he said no, how do I actually make it - what setting on the toaster do I like? I answered his queries, pretending hard that it was perfectly normal to be quizzed on my toastual habits by an eight year old with a large reporter's notebook and a coloured pencil.

In the evening we went over to my sister-in-law's house and had a wee family gathering to celebrate the birthday, indulging in the ritual consumption of chinese takeaway and cheesecake.

Sunday morning dawned - Mother's Day - and I was ambushed (eventually - there was a fair bit of scuffling and sotto voce discussion downstairs first) by the boys and Husband bearing gifts. I got breakfast in bed. Toast! Prepared exactly how I like it! How did you know?! (For the record I like setting 2 on the toaster and the toast has to cool down before it is buttered. Can't stand toast with the butter all melted in). And tea, and - full marks for creativity here - Mother's Day Abernethy biscuits. Which look like this:

Thos innocently smiling icing faces did not save them from being cruelly dunked in a hot cup of tea later! Yumm. I also got cards - a brilliant one from the boys which wittily referenced the scene of devastation that is their bedroom and which was also, of course, delivered by Humpty post. I also received a lovely card from Husband, the contents of which I am keeping to myself but the envelope for which I will share because it gives such a pithy and precise insight into life in the Loth household:

You should be able to click to enlarge that, but in case you can't, the whole envelope reads: "To Mum, please can we visit the toyshop now? Please? Can we? Can we? Is it time yet? Are we nearly there yet? My socks are about to run out! This doesn't fit me any more! Mum! Mum! Mum! Where are you? Am I allowed to eat these? What's for dinner today? My leg's sore! Have you seen my microscopic piece of Lego? Can you take me to buy another piece of Lego? Have you seen my library book? What have I got for breaktime snack? Can you take me to Steven's party? Why are you sitting down with that cup of tea???"

That man's a genius, I tell you. Oh, and I also got a brilliant Mother's Day present (organised by the aforesaid genius): a DVD of series 1-6 of Still Game. If you are not Scottish, this will probably mean nothing to you - it's a Scottish sitcom that grew out of a Scottish comedy sketch show and is one of the few things on TV that reliably make me laugh out loud. You non-Scottish readers across the Atlantic can try out your interpretation of Scottish dialect skills on a sketch from the original show if you like - set phasers to Malky!

And now I am off for a cup of tea and some more Abernethys. Or maybe Husband can be persuaded to open that box of Black Magic he got...............

Friday, 20 March 2009

I am perplexed

Since crossing to the dark side and changing to part-time work, I have been slowly (very slowly) working my way through a long, long list of tasks I have been meaning to attend to for years months ages. Things like getting the torn upholstery on one of our couches repaired, preferably before the repeated impact of pounds and pounds of pre-teen boy launched from a height and at speed kill it off for good.

Another one of those tasks was to get a painter arranged to come and attend to the exterior woodwork on the house - window frames and so on - which is showing signs of wear and tear after a number of Scottish winters. I got in touch with the painter (my neighbour over the road's brother - always use people who come recommended!) and he will be coming shortly to give our wee but n' ben a facelift. Part of the deal is that we supply the materials, which is why the other day I found myself in the unfamiliar surroundings of a paint shop, waiting for the chap behind the counter to come back with my 5 litres of Hickson Decor Exterior Woodstain (Red Cedar).

I don't hang around in paint shops much, being domestically challenged in most areas, including home decorating. I passed the time by gazing absently at a large display showing all the paint colours available in some professional range of paint I have never heard of. And I became more and more puzzled. The colours available were........esoteric. I am sure the last time I was in B&Q, yellow paint was called things like "Sunflower" or "Buttercup" and blue was "Cornflower". None of the paint in this shop was called "Sunflower". They did however have "Apple Smiles". I am guessing green?

However, there was also "Tablecloth". What colour is Tablecloth? If my dining room is anything to go by, that would be a tin full of dark green oilcloth, stained with ketchup and Pritt stick residue. It can't be that, surely. And if Tablecloth is confusing, how about the cheery tones of a tin of "Quench the Gloom"? Does anyone seriously go into a shop and voluntarily buy a couple of litres of "Quench the Gloom"? Hey, maybe it's paint impregnated with Prozac. Feeling down? Lick your skirting boards when no-one is looking!

But none of these shades really did it for me. The colour that I decided I wanted was right there in the middle of the display. In the unlikely event that I ever get round to decorating my house (see unfinished list of tasks above) I want this colour for my living room, purely so that if anyone says "I love the new look - what shade is that?" I can truthfully say "It's Tethered Dog, thank you for asking."

EDITED TO ADD: I'm not making this up, honest!

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Judge Loth: I am the Law

One of my (many) character flaws is a slight tendency to be just a wee tiny teensy bit judgmental. I might not voice my condemnation out loud (I am judgmental, not stupid) but I will surely be thinking it. I try hard to curb this trait seeing as how it is (a) unpleasant, (b) hypocritical and (c) likely to get me a good kicking if I open my mouth at the wrong time.

One of the things that brings out my judge-y holier-than-thou tendencies is parenting. Other people's parenting, obviously, since I am clearly perfect in that respect. As well as being a 5'10 size 8 platinum blonde with an IQ of 195. Ahem. Anyway, I am acutely aware that the one thing you really really really should not get all preachy about is the issue of how other people raise their kids. I do not doubt that my own lax attitude to things like tidiness, access to DVDs of old episodes of Red Dwarf and the consumption of fresh vegetables would constitute neglect verging on child abuse to some folks, whereas my strict views on bedtimes and lack of TV sets in bedrooms would be viewed as Victorian, verging on fascist, by others. My kids, my decision and I try hard to apply the same rule to others.

I try. I really do. But usually sometimes I fail. Like yesterday on the bus home. I was on the top deck of the bus and two or three seats in front of me was a little girl, maybe 3 or 4 years old, and her mum, who to my jaded eye looked about 15 but who was probably early twenties. The little girl was a fizzy, fun ball of blonde hair and excitment at being ON THE BUS!!!! Mum was busy texting. [Not judging, not judging.]

Little girl was showing her "baby" (the alarmingly lifelike doll she had with her) to everyone and was showing baby the sights of Edinburgh out the window. Mum was texting. [Not judging, not judging, she has probably had the monologue from the child since before dawn.]

Little girl starts to sing "The Wheels on the bus" (the other passengers visibly melt at the cuteness) and asks mum to help with the words. Mum is texting. [Not judgi.....well maybe just a NO. Not judging.]

Little girl decides to stand up on the seat of the swaying, rocky, constantly moving double decker bus so she can see out of the window whilst singing and holding baby. Standing. On a seat. With nothing to hold on to. Mum says "Gonnae sit nice?" Little girl ignores her and stays standing on seat. Mum carries on texting. [OK, starting to feel a wee bit judgy round the edges....]

Little girl carries on singing etc whilst still standing up on the seat (if you have ever actually been on the top deck of an Edinburgh bus, you are cringing now. You generally need at least three hands with which to hold on to the rails if you want to avoid being flung through the front windscreen). I am cringing, visualising the precise part of the metal rail along the seat right in front of her that the little girl's face will hit if when the bus driver slams the brakes on. Mum says "Gonnae sit nice?" again. Twice. And still does nothing when the little girl continues to ignore her. Other than texting, obviously.!!!! JUDGINGJUDGINGJUDGINGJUDGINGJUDGING!!! And I am still in full-on preachy mode in my head when I get off the bus and walk home. And not just because in my head I can imagine the legal claim Mum will probably try to make against the bus company blaming the driver when Little Girl eventually does fall and smash her teeth out on the seat in front. Gah.

PS Go and read XUP's comment on my last post. I cried laughing and felt guilty for doing so the entire time!

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Aural torture

Woo hoo! Looks like I have got many floors available to camp on if I ever get to Ottowa! Now if you could all make sure that those pesky airlines don't go out of business all over the place so that it doesn't cost us one of our children's kidneys to get to Shangri-La Canada, I'll be all set. Frankly I'll go anywhere if I am promised people to blether to coupled with beer and eggs. Throw in poutine and I'll move in with you. You have been warned.

Anyway, back to that title. I am suffering from a terrible affliction at the moment and I figure you lot out there can help me with it. As I think I have previously mentioned, at the time I go to pick up the offspring from school, Radio 2 is playing oldies (most of which don't actually sound that old to me which is, I know, a sign of old age in me more than anything else). The other day I had been happily singing along to something - it might have been "Smells Like Teen Spirit" - and when that ended on came.......I can hardly bear to type it...........*deep breath* "Seasons in the Sun" by Terry Jack or whatever his name is.

Until Katie Mellua was invented (I say invented because I don't think she is human. I think she was grown in a petri dish somewhere as some twisted experiment) I was firmly of the view that Seasons in the Sun was The Worst Song Ever Created. Now, since Katie came along, there has been a challenge to that title and I haven't quite worked out who is ahead (or behind) in the contest. It doesn't really matter because hearing Seasons in the Sun still makes my teeth hurt and my toes curl and everything else clench and I immediately have the urgent desire to open up my skull and scrub my brain with bleach. I don't like it that much is what I am saying.

The trouble is it has been in my brain now for about three days and if it doesn't leave soon, I am going to break something or hurt someone or leave teethmarks in the steering wheel of my car. Which is where you come in. Tell me I am not alone. Tell me there are earworms of songs that do this to you too. Tell me what they are because believe me, no matter how awful they are, I would rather have them in my head than SITS. Thank you.

Social whirl or what

Thank you for all your lovely, warm, vomit-related comments on the last post. (That's warm comments, not warm vomit. Although come to think of it....). I might have known I couldn't outgross my readers, veterans of the puke wars all of you!

FB recovered in 24 hours flat and has been fine since. The rest of the week was uneventful and the weekend even more so. Oh, apart from the blizzard which appeared out of nowhere on Saturday morning and swamped the daffodils bravely struggling to surface in my front garden. (Snow? Out of nowhere? I'm looking at you Mary G!) In true Scottish form the snow lasted for an hour or so and then melted to slush and general squishiness.

The highlight of my weekend was going shopping on my own to buy slippers and a disposable camera for SB who is off on his first overnight, away from home school trip. This explains why three sleep deprived members of the Loth clan could be seen this morning at 7am in Waverley Station, watching a pack of identically dressed schoolboys, including our own hyper 8 year old, ricocheting off the walls and frightening the pigeons (and Edinburgh pigeons take some scaring, believe me.)

So SB is in York tonight and, I have no doubt, having a whale of a time. FB is actually kind of worried about being on his own without his brother so we decided to all go out for dinner. I arranged in advance with a pizza restaurant that we would take our own dairy-free cheese for FB, due to his milk allergy, and they confirmed there was no dairy lurking elsewhere in their pizzas. Oh, and in case you were wondering, yes, people do look at you slightly oddly when you hand your own block of cheese and a grater to the waiter in an Italian restaurant. You're welcome.

The pizzas looked fab when they arrived. Mine looked especially good as the chef had got confused half way throught and forgotten what pizza he was making. This led to him putting on the toppings I had ordered followed by another set of toppings I hadn't (rocket and fresh parmesan. Yum.) The waiter was profusely apologetic and inordinately grateful to learn that I would not make a fuss and would, very graciously, agree to getting twice as much topping as normal on my pizza. I pride myself on being very forgiving in such matters.

Sadly, although the whole bringing-our-own-cheese thing worked, FB had an allergic reaction to something anyway (we suspect it was the ham - cooked ham very often contains milk. You are all learning so much tonight!). It was bad enough that we had to cut the meal short and bring him home. I did nip out to try to buy some Piriton for him, but with no success. I therefore settled for repeatedly kicking myself for not having brought some with me. I'm getting lax - there was a time I wouldn't go anywhere without anti-histamine for FB just in case. Clearly I can't let my guard down yet.

Back home, FB was quickly mollified with buttered toast and a mug of milk (all dairy free, naturally) and an episode of Red Dwarf we deem slightly too "adult" in theme for his younger brother. (Now that FB has had sex education at school, he is very matter of fact about such issues). So basically he got a bit of pampering to pander to the kid and make up for the allergic reaction thing, and at the same time he got to feel like a grown-up. In other words, he was very happy. We then put him to bed, both Husband and I chatting to him for a while before leaving him alone. As I said, tonight is the first night that FB will have slept on his own since SB was born and he is actually kind of worried about it - he really doesn't like being alone at all, and not just because there is no-one to talk at to. Hopefully he will not feel the need to come into our room at 3am for a chat about the finer points of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (another recent discovery of his).

And you Ottowa bloggers - eggs and beer for breakfast? Seriously? That sounds excellent! You are however clearly lacking in worthwhile topics of conversation! At your next meeting, the topic should be: "How to rig the lottery/rob a bank/organise an internet scam so that Loth miraculously comes into a couple of million pounds and can buy that Canadian bolt-hole she has been lusting after." I am expecting great things from you. Go to it.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009


WARNING: Subject matter not suitable for the squeamish. Seriously, you have been warned.

Well, it's been an interesting week so far. The weekend was remarkably laid back, with lots of hanging out and reading and not-doing-very-much. (I will get out into the garden to continue the tidy up. Sometime. Scout's honour.) On Monday I picked the boys up from school as normal. I also acquired an additional boy, as First Born's friend Cookie Monster came with us to let his mum go off and deal with an urgent errand. First Born was delighted by this but was also a bit quieter than normal, claiming he didn't feel too great.

He confirmed that he was indeed not well when we got out of the car at home and he proceeded to vomit violently, spectacularly and profusely all over the driveway. Huh. Well, I suppose it could be worse, driveways are easier to clean than say, beds or hall carpets after all. Ah but wait, he managed to throw up into the side pocket of his school bag at the same time. That takes talent. Or something.

Anyway, I had to throw lots of buckets of water down the driveway to try to get rid of FB's undigested lunch and then ..........clear out and scrub the side pocket of his bag. Whilst breathing through my mouth and thinking hard about something else. Thank goodness for Febreze, is all I can say.

FB continued to be sick during the night, usually with no warning (we suspect his dyspraxia-type issues mean his body gives him very little warning of such things) so clearly he was not going to school on Tuesday. I stayed home with him and we watched episodes of Red Dwarf had some quality mum/son time. I was again grateful for my new job which lets me take the day off and make up the time later.

So that was the first half of our week - typical of the unpredictable fun of parenting. In fact, I would hazard a guess that if you have managed to read this post without any nausea or queasiness yourself, then you probably have children too! If I am right in that, can you also tell me at what age you can be sure you will no longer have to scrape someone else's stomach contents off the carpet?