Monday, 31 August 2015

Tiny Shorts

Lady in tiny shorts
You look out of sorts
At this family fun park
Full of rope swings and chipped bark

You pose to show off your physique...
From painted toe
To buttock cheek

There is no doubt that you look buff
But surely if you wore enough
Cloth to cover up your bum
Your children could play with their mum

But instead you give them to the nanny
Who can race the kids without showing her fanny

Friday, 28 August 2015


"Push through your bottom" the midwife said
As I lay panting on the bed
"Push, push, push! I can feel the head!"
"SO CAN I!" was my reply...

"Now push, now wait....
no more pushing until you completely dilate."

"Now push, then pant in measured spurts
And I know Mrs Kent your vagina hurts

You should listen to me, I am wiser and older
Must you bite your husband on the shoulder?"

"Push, push, push, just one more try!"
There was a rip, and a slip, and a baby's cry
A girl, a daughter!
A hug, and then
"I am never doing that again."

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Stinging Nettles

Nature: out to get you
Overgrown stinging nettles
You have no fragrant smell or petals
All you are is bouquet of pins
Pricking my ankles and hurting my shins

The reddened bumps begin to rise...
And then you sting me on my thighs
How is it that you have mastered
Getting through clothes? You spiteful bastard!

I'll have to change my running loop
Or turn you into nettle soup

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

The Truth About Camping

It is our first camping anniversary.  A year in which our family has gone from borrowed tent to ownership, and from zero accessories to a camping box that contains a collapsible colander, a magical cookery set that fits into something the size of a saucepan and no less than 6 torches.  We are converted, and fully committed.

And whilst I may be a convert, I'm certainly not evangelical - you won't (yet) catch me signing up for two weeks in the wild or even a weekend on a site that has a compost toilet and no showers.  Having recently read a blog that made me vomit in my mouth a little bit thanks to its earnestness ("you really must buy merino under layers for your children"), I thought I'd bust some myths and reveal the truth (ok my truth) when it comes to camping.

Camping is cheap.

This is a LIE.  Unless you're camping in your back garden and subsisting on tap water, foraged

A money pit with a view...
blackberries and stolen apples, camping will cost you money.  When you first buy a tent you think "ooh, isn't this the life, we'll invest £400 now and reap the rewards for the next 10 years".  Then you realise that pitch fees can range between £15 and £50 per night.  And that you have to buy good sleeping bags.  And a cooker.  And implements that are easily transportable.  And chairs.  And these things occasionally break or fail which will cause you to spend more money.  Watch your cheap weekend spiral into profligate spending as you realise that a. your mattress has a hole in it or b. your food has gone off thanks to an un-forecasted spell of sunshine and a lack of ice packs on your part. 

Camping is easy.

The 'lap of crap'
This is also a lie.  You try packing a car in the vain attempt to prove that you can fit all of the stuff in that you've had to buy without caving in to buying a trailer or a roof box that fits surprisingly little in it, despite the fact that it is the length of your car.  We haven't bought a trailer yet, but given the last time we camped I had a 'lap of crap' - that is, a bag full of stuff that didn't fit anywhere else - it's on the cards.

Then try to put up a tent.  Together.  My husband's tactic was to first put the tent up with one of his friends, which meant that when we went camping as a family I had no idea what was required.  The same went for when we had to take the damn thing down and pack it back into its slightly-too-small bag.  It was one of the least laid back holidays we have ever had.  On the plus side, it has probably worked wonders for our marriage as several trips later we are expert in the art of tongue biting and compromise.

Camping is great for kids.

Now *that's* a family walk
This is true.  Our children have cycled through forests, swung on rope swings over streams, had amazing adventures and made new friends*.  It's the main reason that I enjoy, and recommend,

*Under no circumstances say to your children "Why don't you go off and make some new friends?"  It's like one of your friends pointing out a group of mums on the playground and saying the same thing to you.  These things just need to be left to happen.

Camping is about getting back to nature.

Oh - deer!
Yes and no.  One the one hand, we have woken to deer looking at us in the adjacent field (and been woken up by them eating outside our tent at 3am which is slightly less idyllic), enjoyed proper fresh air for days on end and had our routine dictated by the weather - not our watches.  We have felt the sun on our backs and walked in grass that glitters with the morning dew.  We have observed starry skies and been soaked to the skin as Mother Nature unleashes buckets of water on every man, woman and child.  I am certainly more relaxed for spending time outside of our normal four walls.

On the other hand, the sites we have selected always have 'facilities' which have ranged from club houses, pubs and play parks, to swimming pools and shower blocks that come with hairdryers. We have also had day trips to water parks and been out for a curry during one of our recent breaks. Hardly Bear Grylls (but then even he has been known to stay in a hotel...)

Camping is healthy.

Given the diet of the average camper seems to consist largely of barbecued meat and alcohol, I'm putting this down as a LIE.  No nuts and berries here my friends.

Camping is fun.

The sound of a tent being unzipped at midnight.
Photo (c)
Aside from the fact that your children will argue no matter where you take them on holiday (or how you holiday), that you will always forget something crucial (but never the beer), that other families never seem to be having the sense of humour failure that yours is (until you hear another dad shout "we ARE NOT having another day like yesterday!), and that any sound in the middle of the night is equivalent to the Vulcan Bomber flying overhead, this is absolutely TRUE.  We'll be going again soon.

Like this?  You might like my book - Reasons to be Cheerful, Part One - find it on Amazon here:

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Children Stop Fighting!

Children - please stop fighting each other!
Daughter - you should love your brother
Son - stop winding up your sis
There really is no need for this!

Must you sing the Clas Olsen ad...
Until it drives her completely mad?
You tumble, tussle, yell and shriek
And we've only just begun the week!

If this goes on, we won't survive
The summer hols, which is why I've
Booked Holiday Club for you again
You can have fun, and I can stay sane ;)

Like this?  You can find more of my poetry at 

Monday, 10 August 2015

National Trust

If this summer holiday
You feel it is a must
To pack your kids into the car
And visit a National Trust

I'm duty-bound to warn you
It won't be like the ads
Full of Boden Mummies
And earnest, smiling dads

You won't glide around the gardens
I'm smiling because I'm hiding from my children...
at Basildon Park NT
In a state of familial bliss
Your children won't marvel at nature
What will actually happen is this:

One of them will say "boooring"
And "I can see that statue's bum!"
And "This place smells of dog farts"
You will pretend not to be their mum

It will probably rain on your picnic
And your child will lose a shoe
Then get a splinter in their finger
Then announce "I NEED A POO!"

They'll probably drop their ice cream
Then try to eat it off the floor
Or leave a sticky handprint
On an antique painted door

And the kindly National Trust staff
Will never, ever shout
But you know that they are thinking
"Get those bloody children out"

You'll shout out "Put that cup down!"
And "don't sit on the chairs!"
"The piano is NOT FOR TOUCHING!"
And "no running on the stairs!"

All you wanted was a day out...
And all you did was moan
The trick to visiting the National Trust
Is to go on your own

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Shirtless Man

Image credit: here 
Shirtless man
I know it's hot
But I cannot
Share your belief that it is best
In summer to reveal your chest...

I have to ask would it really hurt
When you're on the street to wear a shirt?
Your brazen display of hair and nips
Is enough to put me off my chips!

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Fights with Tights

Now *that's* a ladder!
Tights that are too small
According to the packet I'm not too tall
According to the packet I'm not too wide
But the tights that have been stuffed inside...

Do not fit me, in the way they should
They're from John Lewis - they ought to be good!
With every move, the waistband slips
Eventually stopping just on my hips

The gusset now sits by my knees
Who the hell is designing these?!
I attempt again, heel and toe
To coax them up my leg but no

They're somehow twisted, the fit is not right
You bloody cursed, stupid tight!
I hoik them up as I lose my rag
Then ladder the front, and they start to sag

They're supposed to be "10 denier - nude"
But in actual fact my 'look' is screwed
I'll have to go bare legged today
And hope I don't scare children away

So if by some chance we should meet
When I am walking down the street
And I blind you with my lily-whites
Please don't blame me - please blame the tights

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Radio Ga-Ga - Why the BBC Matters to Me

I have always loved the radio, from the thrill of taping the Chart Show using the 'play' and 'record' buttons on my old Steepletone radio / cassette recorder, to the joy of appearing on Zoe Ball's Breakfast Show in the '90s and winning - yes winning - tickets to an England vs Cameroon friendly at Wembley thanks to my bizarrely detailed knowledge of Stavros and Mrs Merton.

Photo courtesy of clearanceaisleltd
- yes you can still buy these!
Imagine my delight then when a man appeared at my door a couple of weeks ago asking if I wouldn't mind taking part in a radio survey.  It turned out he worked for RAJAR (the radio version of gaydar?) who were conducting a survey on listener habits.  I wondered if it was at all linked to the recent announcement that Apple is 're-inventing radio' and the push to change the BBC and signed myself up.

Ritual de lo Habitual

What I discovered is that I'm a creature of habit when it comes to 'tuning in' and also a massive fan of the BBC.  Radio 2 is the first thing that goes on for its family-friendly start to the day and tunes that remind us that the music we once believed to be 'cool' is  now considered retro... 

Once the kids are packed off to school it's over to 6 Music for a dose of hip-hop, indie and rock that makes me wistful, joyful and causes me to either leap, rock-out or do the running man in the kitchen - I mean, what else were kitchen floors made for?  

Four play

If I'm in the car, then I'll probably tune in to Radio 4.  Oh Radio 4 how I love thee..... I initially started listening when I worked at Microsoft as a means of genning up on business news courtesy of the Today Programme and James "Knock-er-tee" Naughtie - why won't he pronounce his name as it is spelled?  Imagine how much more fun his life could become!  After a while the incessant baiting of, and arguing with, politicians became too much but I have stayed loyal to the channel, thrilled at the ability to hear the most incredible feats of human endeavour and some of the most thought-provoking stories thanks to Prof Jim Al-Khalili's Life Scientific and Jenni Murray and the Woman's Hour team.  

Radio 4 has taken me into the cab of one of the very few female driving instructors in India, introduced me to the awesome Prof Kate Jones (leading bat scientist and funniest guest I have heard), helped me understand (a bit) financial markets, and most recently, made me cry at the moving conversations captured between ordinary people by the Listening Project.  

Perfect Peace and a children's mosh pit

When I really need to concentrate, Radio 3 goes on - no lyrics to invade my work, just interesting music that lulls and stimulates my brain.  I was inspired to give it a try after visiting my childhood next door neighbour's house - we were a bloody noisy family to live next door to; too many children spread across too great an age range in too small a space.  As I stepped inside with my then newborn daughter I couldn't believe the tranquility.  In Yvonne's kitchen was a crossword on the table and classical music coming from the radio.  It was amazing - I'd always envisaged soundproofed walls to keep out our din but no, here was a light filled space of calm just a wall away from the equivalent of a children's mosh pit.  Classical music is magic.

Trumpets and tonguing

But what of Radio 1?  I left there long ago, turned off by Chris Moyles and music that I found too kiddie-pop for my indie tastes.  But then I happened to tune in randomly to Scott Mills one day and discovered Innuendo Bingo.  It was featuring a clip from a Radio 4 programme about trumpet playing - with a particularly emphasis on the optimal tonguing and fingering technique - I spat water across the dashboard as his studio guests spat water over one another.  Puerile?  Yes.  Funny?  Absolutely!  I have been back more than once since and the Greg James "Going Home Song" is now a family staple.

The BBC has something for every aspect of who I am: curious, serious, focused, passionate about music and every now and again (ok, very often), downright childish.  And as a parent I love the fact that not only are their stations advert-free, but when it snows, I can share the joy with my children that is tuning in to your local station to find out if the school is closed - oh the suspense as Andrew Peach from Radio Berks reels off the list of schools and oh the shrieks of joy as ours is called out!  Whatever happens with funding, I sincerely hope that BBC Radio continues in all of its current brilliance - life would be much poorer without it.


My radio love affair - in true Craig David style we did it all day Wednesday!