Category Archives: Humor

Join Me in More Parental Confessions

Sign that says "Confessions Booth"

While browsing through some of my past posts I came across one I had written in 2012 – Three Parental Confessions. In there I confessed to three times where I felt I had fallen a bit short of being the perfect mother. I now need to unburden myself of a couple more such incidents, and give you the opportunity to confess too.

French Lessons

When my son started secondary school three years ago, he was doing just fine in all of his lessons except French, where he really struggled. I spent a lot of time trying to help him with his French homework, but he just couldn’t grasp any of it. In the end I was just doing the homework for him and he would copy it into his book. I told him that at the parents’ evening, I would speak to his French teacher, and see if there was any extra help they could give him. He didn’t really want me to do that; he said that he had already decided he was going to drop French after Year 9 when he picked his options, so there was no point. I insisted that there was a point because he still had to do French for two and a half more years until he could drop it.

When the parents’ evening arrived, my son and I walked over to the French teacher’s table. As we approached, she had a huge smile. Before I had a chance to tell her about his struggles, she said “I’m SO pleased you’ve come to see me because I want to tell you how well your son is doing in French!”

Toy of teacher at desk

“Really?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said, and went on to tell me how he was grasping concepts that the rest of the class weren’t, and how he was much more advanced that she would expect from a year 7 student. I sat there lapping it up, a little confused, but delighted.

Finally she pulled out a book. “I’ll show you what I mean,” she said. It was his homework book. She began leafing through it, showing me all the pieces of homework I had done, saying things like “Look at this! 10 out of 10! Nobody ever gets 10 out of 10 for this,” “And look at this, I didn’t expect anyone to understand this so quickly!”

After the discussion we had just had I felt far too awkward to say “Oh I see, no, I did all that.” So I just sat there smiling, saying things like, “Wow, that’s great! I’m so pleased!” and “Wait, why is that one only 9/10? Let me see that.”

As we walked away my son said “Good job mum, telling her how much I’m struggling with it.”

“It doesn’t matter,” I told him. “You’re dropping French after Year 9.”

Raffle Prize

On one occasion when my kids were at primary school, we went to a quiz evening at their school. My son was 8 and my daughter 11. They were also doing a raffle. The raffle tickets were sold at the start of the evening and the draw was at the end of the evening. Those who won were able to go and choose whatever prize they wanted from the prize table.

I bought three strips of tickets, one each for me, my son, and my daughter. When it came to the draw, one of my son’s numbers was drawn. “Ooh, what are you going to pick?” I asked him.

Used raffle tickets

“I’m going to pick the travel game!” he said, and began walking up to the prize table while people applauded him. I tried to let it go, I really did. But I had seen the travel game earlier and it was one of those rubbishy little sets that quite clearly came from the £1 shop. He almost made it to the table when I couldn’t take it any more, I leaped out of my seat, ran up, practically shoved him out of the way and grabbed the case of beer instead. I’m pretty sure there were a few shocked gasps from the other parents who had all witnessed my behaviour.

As we did the walk of shame back to our seats I muttered to my son “I’ll buy you a travel game, it’s just that this is worth much more.” I like to think I was teaching him something about value. In case you’re wondering, yes I did buy him a travel game, and no I didn’t enjoy the beer; it was too tainted with my guilt.

So come on, fess up, what parenting mistakes are you ashamed of? You’ll feel better if you share.

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Photo credits:
Confession booth sign
Toy teacher at desk
Raffle tickets

The Wrong Bowl

Four coloured bowls on a kitchen counter

Our four lovely cereal bowls on the kitchen counter (mine is the red bowl)

I’m rather prone to accidental crockery breakage. The consequence is that our kitchen cupboard is full of random mismatched half-sets. I pretend it’s a style choice. A year or so back, when we were down to two cereal bowls between four of us, I went to buy some replacement bowls. The rather lovely bowls you see above caught my eye in Matalan (for those of you in the US, Matalan is something like the clothing and homewares sections of Target).

I couldn’t decide which colour to go for, and then came up with the fabulous idea of getting four different colours, so that we could each have our own colour bowl. I was thrilled to bits. I arrived home and proudly showed them my purchase. Everyone agreed that they were indeed very lovely cereal bowls.

Right, I said, Who wants which colour? No fighting now!

They looked a little confused, and I’m pretty sure there were some sideways glances between them. Unperturbed, I turned to my son,Ok, well because your special plate when you were little was yellow, I thought you might like the yellow bowl? Yes?

Um, ok,” he said.

I was a little disappointed by the lack of enthusiasm, but carried on. I turned to Neil,I don’t know why, but I just thought of you for the green one, is that ok? I smiled broadly at him.

Fine with me! He said, clearly feigning some enthusiasm to please me.

Just two bowls left, who would end up with which one?Right, I said to my daughter, Do you want the purple one or the red one?

I really don’t mind mum. Ok, there were definitely some sideways glances now.

I ignored the glances. Well I really like the red one, I said, So if you don’t mind, I’ll have the red one, and you have the purple one?

Sure, whatever.”

I was a little perplexed by their reactions. I checked again that they all liked the bowls, and they assured me that they definitely did. Oh well.

The next day I caught Neil eating cereal in the red bowl. MY bowl.Oops! I said, You’ve accidentally got the wrong bowl! Yours is the green one, remember?

Oh, er, yes, sorry.”

Over the next several months, there were many more oopses from me, not just with Neil, with all three of them. Oops, you’ve taken the green bowl out, let me get you the yellow one…, Oops, the red bowl is in the washing-up, but I haven’t had any cereal, who was it?, Oops, yours is the purple one remember? I couldn’t understand it. How hard was it to remember a colour?!

And then one day, after a particularly harrowing morning of three bowl errors, it hit me…

Words saying NOBODY CARES

Nobody cares about the colour allocations! I sought my son out for confirmation, Tell me honestly, do any of you care about the bowl colour allocations?

He shook his head, No.”

Not at all?

Not the tiniest bit.” He hesitated, then took a deep breath, Why does it matter what colour one we use?

There, he had said it. Wow. They weren’t a bunch of numpties who couldn’t remember their colour. I was the numpty for thinking it mattered. I guess they didn’t want to hurt my feelings by telling me outright, so they left it for me to figure out. It just took me a really long time. I was so set on the idea that we each needed to have our own colour bowl that I hadn’t even considered there might be another way of doing it. A random way, where it doesn’t matter which one we use. I had to laugh at myself for being so slow to cotton on. And I’m now laughing at myself for suddenly realising that there is a life lesson in this post; I thought I was just writing about bowls.

I wonder why it might be that allocating colours mattered to me, but not to anyone else. I’ve always felt like my life is fairly chaotic, and I think I try to bring in little bits of order where I can to compensate, so maybe it’s that. Or maybe my head is still in the zone of thinking my kids are little, because I’m pretty sure you’d have a colour allocation with small children. Or maybe something else. Since that moment of revelation I’ve stopped trying to enforce the colour allocations with them, but I can’t get past it for myself. I still always feel a little disappointed when I see them eating out of the wrong bowl, especially if it’s the red bowl, because the red bowl is MY bowl damn it!

Next time I’m buying four bowls of the same colour.

I’m not convinced however that I’m alone here, so please help me by voting in the bowl poll below…

My Daughter’s Cake on TV, Plus, What the?…Ewwww!!!!

Ewww gif

The reaction GIF relates to the second item on my post today. You’ll see.

Couple of things for you today. First up, last Friday, a cake my daughter made appeared on the BBC’s “The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice”, in their failed bakes section. Yep, our motto is – if you fail at something, don’t hide it away, put it up for public ridicule! We’re highly delighted by the appearance of her cake on the show, as I’m sure you will be too when you watch it. Here’s the clip:

Next up, and let me make it perfectly clear that is second thing is in no way whatsoever, whichsoever, or howsoever, related to the first thing. Have you heard of the UroClub? It’s been around for a few years apparently but I hadn’t heard of it until I was unfortunate enough to encounter it on my Facebook timeline. At first I thought it was a joke, actually I’m still hoping that it is, but I have a horrible feeling it isn’t…

Apparently, not having anywhere to pee while you’re on the golf course is a big problem. It turns out that running off to pee in the woods is frowned upon (well I wish someone had told me sooner, not that I play golf, but I mean in general). And so some bright spark has invented a golf club that you can pee into. Yes really. Or that men can pee into at least, so far there thankfully isn’t a female version. The top half of the club is a hollow tube with a screw cap on the end. It even comes with a handy clip-on privacy towel to cover over your crotch area. They describe it as discreet. Discreet? I don’t think so, it’s bordering on obscene. Here it is in action:

Uroclub being usedAnd here are the instructions from the website:

Uroclub instructions

I can’t help noticing they’ve missed out quite a vital stage in the instructions, the stage that would go in between step 2, and step 3. I’d like to see a golfer doing that part discretely; hands fumbling around under the towel. Well I wouldn’t ACTUALLY like to see it, but you know what I mean.

The website tells us “The UroClub™ is intended to eliminate anxiety and any feeling of uneasiness on the course” Right, because peeing into a tube while people are standing around watching, waiting for you to take your shot and wondering why you’ve just clipped a towel over your crotch, is totally going to make you feel at ease. The website also says “Imagine, giving the appearance of taking a practice swing, while both privately and confidentially, you are able to relieve yourself without any embarrassment” Wait, so now they expect you to be swinging it while you’re peeing too. Really, I would rather see someone go off into the woods to pee than this. To clarify again, I wouldn’t ACTUALLY like to see it.

And here is the link to the website itself in case you can’t quite believe it and want to see it for yourself https://www.uroclub.com/ and if you really want to see more, you can seek out the commercial for it too on YouTube. I did.

Have you seen any surprising inventions lately? Or have you tried to bake a cactus cake that didn’t go to plan and was subsequently shown on national television?

RIP Victoria Wood

One week ago today I posted my Victoria Wood challenge skit on here, and today she died. A mere 62 years old. Obviously I’d been thinking a lot about her lately, so I felt more personally affected by the news than I might otherwise have done. I’d been watching a lot of her old sketches over the last few weeks and remembering what a big part of my comedy-appreciation formative years she was!

As a little tribute, I will share this skit of hers from 1988. How many celebs can you spot in the audience?

So long Victoria, thanks for all the laughs…

The Prime Minister’s Wee Wee

Blue dinosaur in snow

This isn’t me, but it could have been if someone had challenged me to dress up as a blue dinosaur and run through the snow (which is no more random that some of the other things you all suggested)

Don’t worry, this isn’t a post about the Prime Minister’s tax affairs. No, yet again I’m prepared to make a fool of myself in front of my blogging audience for the sake of…what AM I doing this for the sake of again? I’m sure I had a good reason. Anyway, yes, it’s time for another one of the challenges I was set by you guys at the end of last year. This one came from Pete Denton. He suggested that I vlog a Victoria Wood style skit about recycling…er…sure, that’s a perfectly normal thing to do and..er, really easy…gulp. I actually wrote the skit in my head very soon after he set it, but it’s taken me this long to get up the courage to record and post it.

I’m not sure if Victoria Wood is very well known outside of the UK – she’s a British comedian who has been on TV since the 70s. I was particularly a huge fan of hers in the 80s, but she carried on doing plenty more after that too. She’s done a mixture of sketch shows, stand-up comedy, sitcoms, theatre, as well as drama, and has covered a range of different characters and styles, so it’s quite hard to define what would be a Victoria Wood style skit. One of the things she does in her stand-up routines is become different characters and just tell a story about something as that character, so it’s that kind of thing I’ve gone for. I don’t actually think the end result is anything like any of her stuff, but oh well, you can at least appreciate my bravery in giving it a go right? Especially you fellow introverts. I know I love to do a bit of acting, but this is somewhat out of my comfort zone.

Well here goes…


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photo credit: Loch Ness Monster via photopin (license)

Do You Know The Man They Call Frank?

Crown

At the end of last year I asked you all for suggestions/challenges for fun frivolous things I could do this year, which I could photograph or video to show here. Not content with seeing the earlier torturous time I went through writing and recording myself reciting a poem for Jilanne, Frank from A Frank Angle challenged me to write and recite a poem for him. Just to add a bit of zazz (that’s a word right?), he specified that I need to dress up like the queen, and impersonate her while reading it. I could have ignored his request, after all I hadn’t promised to do ALL the challenges I was set. But Frank’s request was different, it was a request that I do this for his birthday, which is today, so I could hardly refuse!

I’m not sure I can pull off an impersonation of the queen (I certainly can’t pull off an impersonation of a good poet!), but working on the (probably unjustified) impression I have that Americans think we Brits all sound like the queen anyway, I’m just going to use my own voice. There are some limits as to how far I’m willing go in making a fool of myself around here. I get some marks for the costume though right?

Happy birthday Frank!

Is This Hat Ridiculous Enough Carrie?

Vanessa in a colander hat

If you missed my last post because you were Christmasly absent, you still have time to enter to win a prize! In short I’m asking people to suggest silly, frivolous things I can do over the year, and show on my blog. Carrie Rubin suggested that I count the new year in down from 10, and then finish with a tuck jump, wearing a ridiculous hat.

Well ok then! Here is the video of me doing that – for obvious reasons it had to be done in one take, so it’s not…erm…COMPLETELY perfect. First the video starts from me counting 9 not 10, secondly I seem to be having trouble holding up the right number of fingers as I count down, next my tuck jump is rather pathetic, and finally my son interpreted in his own way my request that he throw a handful of sparkly stars over me at the end. But at least it was fun, and that was the objective!

If you want to join in, and be in with a chance of winning, you have until 15 January to do so, pop back over to the previous post and leave your suggestion in the comments there (but don’t forget to leave a comment here first about how hilarious you found the video, not for my benefit you understand, just so that Carrie feels her suggestion was appreciated! Yep, that’s the reason, for Carrie’s benefit, I’m fine, but she needs that kind of reassurance you know).

What fun have you had so far this year?

Three Things Wot I’ve Been Doing Lately

123

Thing Number 1 – Struggling to Travel on the Train

Every few weeks I need to take the train somewhere for my job. Lately I’ve had issues…

  • A couple of months ago I threw my train ticket away in a bin outside St. Pancras station. As soon as I threw it I remembered that I still needed it for the final leg of my journey. Unfortunately it had dropped down through the rubbish, so I had to stand outside the station picking my way through the rubbish bin to retrieve my ticket. Not my finest moment.
  • A couple of weeks ago, at Paddington station, I was just about to go through the ticket barriers to catch a train to Bath when I realised that I couldn’t find my ticket. I retraced my steps and found it in the Costa Coffee shop, on the floor, slid under the stand where you get milk, with just a tiny corner sticking out. If it had slid another inch under I’d have never found it – how lucky was that!
  • Last week, at Holloway Road tube station, I got stuck in these ticket barriers:

Tube station ticket barrier

It turns out you can’t just follow the person in front right through without waiting for the barrier to close and reopen again. I don’t want to talk about it.

Thing Number 2 – NaNoWriMo

Yes, in November I did NaNoWriMo – I think everyone knows what that is, but just in case, it’s National Novel Writing Month, where you aim to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. I did it once before. This time I didn’t quite reach the 50K words, I did around 42K, but I was really happy with what I achieved. I needed to do quite a bit of reading research for this which I should really have completed before November, but didn’t, so the majority of my November NaNo time was spent reading rather than writing. Within the 42K words, I have the framework for the whole thing, I got to the end of the story, and there are lots of places throughout where it says things like “Write this bit here”, “Expand this bit”, “Write about that here”. So the bones of it are all there, and I’m happy with that.

Thing Number 3 – Getting Crafty

A while back, a work colleague announced that she was organising a Christmas craft fair for early December, and asked if anyone would like a stall. Well of course I jumped at the chance, what a great opportunity to show off my crafts! Something was niggling at me though and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, and then it dawned on me – I don’t actually do any crafts (incidentally, I’m also really excited about the opportunity I have coming up to show off my motorcycle stunt skills…wait…oh crap).

So I bought a selection of cheap unfinished plain little wooden and card boxes, and some wooden hanging leaves, and decorated them with paint, pressed flowers, and beer bottle caps. Here was my finished stall from last Saturday:

craft stall

Did I make my fortune? No. Did I have fun? Absolutely – I really enjoyed decorating the boxes, this was mostly done over November, which you’ll remember was also the month I was trying to write a novel. I really don’t have any artistic/crafty type talent, but I was pleased I managed to do SOMETHING to put on the stall.

EDIT: Neil just reminded me of the other bit to the craft stall story, not sure how I forgot this bit – soon after I had set it up all lovely (as above), and the craft fair was well underway, I decided to quickly nip over to another stall, in doing so I tripped over the tablecloth on my stall and dragged it, along with ALL the boxes, onto the floor, and I fell amongst it all. There was a big crash. I don’t want to talk about it.

What about you? Do you ever volunteer to do something and then realise it was a mistake? Do you save beer bottle caps in case they come in handy some day? Do you ever get stuck in ticket barriers?

 

Is Your Attention Span in Need of Attention?

I was commenting to someone recently about how short my attention span is, and how consequently I often have trouble following the plot of movies if they’re any more complicated than a rom-com. My mind wanders off somewhere else, and then…er…then…what was I saying? Something about cats was it? Or milk, yes I need to buy some milk. No, movies! Anyway, I decided to create a little comic strip to illustrate what it’s like to watch a movie with me, so that you can see what poor Neil has to put up with (you’ll probably need to click on the picture to make it bigger so that you can read it) –

Vanessa comic strip

Anyone else have this same trouble?

By contrast, here is a really cool video of somebody who has a super long attention span. In 1977, At the age of 18, this guy video’d himself interviewing his older future self, and then waited 38 years to film his older self replying. It’s really worth watching, very poignant in places. It’s 3mins 58secs long.

How’s your attention span? …Hello? You still there?

The Worst Poem in the History of the World Ever Ever Ever…for Jilanne!

A long time ago, some of you may vaguely recall we played the Five Truths and One Lie game. As with the previous time I did this, I offered a prize of a poem written and read out by me for the winner. Boy did I end up regretting that. After the deadline passed, I randomly drew one of the names from those who guessed correctly, and the winner was…wait for it…wait for it…oh right, I’ve already told you in the title, Jilanne Hoffman! Congrats Jilanne!

And that’s when the trouble started…

I felt totally uninspired to write any kind of poem. That’s ok, I thought, I’ll leave it for a bit and come back to it. So I left it for a bit, came back, still no inspiration. I wrote a blog post about something else instead. As the weeks passed, I kept thinking about it and worrying about it, I kept telling myself to stop being silly, I’m not a poet, I’ve never claimed to be, nobody is expecting some incredible work of genius poetry. Just do SOMETHING Vanessa!

But the more time passed, the more I felt that the poem had to be really good to justify taking so long, and I therefore felt more and more stifled in my ability to write it. I put up two more blog posts, I apologised for not having done the poem yet. I stressed some more about it.

A few weeks ago I decided it was getting embarrassing, I couldn’t write any more blog posts until I did the poem one, and I didn’t, and weeks passed, and I didn’t do any blog posts. I barely showed my face around anyone else’s blogs for fear of being asked about the winner’s poem. And then this past weekend, it suddenly struck me – nobody cares! I was getting myself into a state over something that was just meant to be a bit of trivial fun. Anybody who may have cared a bit at first, has long since moved on.

So I forced myself to just throw something down on paper yesterday (or actually on screen), thrust my phone at Neil, and said…

“Neil, video me now, we’re doing this in one take, it’s terrible, but let’s just do it!”

“Sure. Is that what you’re wearing?” (For the record, men, nothing good ever came from that question).

“Yes, I’m wearing my squirrel onesie, ok? I will add a string of daisies round my head to make you happy though. Is that better? Does that make you happy?!”

“Um…yes…you look er…great Vanessa…I’m just wondering though, and this is only a suggestion, but-“

“JUST FILM IT!”

And he did. It’s not pretty, it’s not funny, it’s not clever, but it is finished!

Sorry Jilanne to have given you such a lousy prize, and for it to have taken so long. Now can we all just move on and pretend this never happened?

Oh you might still want to know which one was the lie. This one was the lie:

2. When I was about 22/23 I went out shopping with my slippers on, and didn’t notice until I was in the shopping mall, and so quickly popped into a shoe shop to buy an emergency pair. I spent rather too long browsing, and after a while was approached by two policemen who spoke to me in kind tones, smiling and glancing at my slippers, telling me it was time to go back to the centre. I wasn’t quite sure what centre they were talking about, but I eventually managed to persuade them that I didn’t need to go back to any centre, and had simply made a footwear error!LIE!

If you want a reminder of what the other, true ones, were then you’ll have to go back to the original post.

Do you write poetry? Have you ever got yourself into a disproportionate state over something silly? Have you ever thought that a squirrel onesie and a daisy headband was a good fashion choice?