Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Be careful what you wish for (2)

I suppose it was inevitable that the week of my twins 16th birthday would be so busy I had to split this into two, but what I didn't expect was that it would last for a whole week. That only used to happen for the "big" birthdays  of 18ths and 21sts, but apparently 16 is the new 18. I was asking myself why the hell anyone would want to grow older more quickly, but then I remembered what it was like to be that age. God, it was good and bad and fantastic and awful and exciting and frightening and well, simply wonderful.

So Monday arrived and we had a reasonably low key start since the twins are still off on study leave - although with only exam to go between the two of them, there was hellish little studying going on. They seemed pleased with their presents and I headed off to work. 

Mildly disappointed at the lack of flashers gathered outside, I was greatly comforted by the fact that I was heading for a nice, easy three day week. Why did I think that, really? Three day week, yes, nice and easy, not a chance. Within an hour of starting the week, I had to deal with a complaint which had been sent to the Care inspectorate.This is the first - and hopefully only - complaint we have ever received and it really wasn't what I needed this week.  I wouldn't have minded, and have often thought an unannounced inspection or even just a visit would be a good opportunity to prove that we don't just put on a show for the regular visits and that we operate to the required standards at all times. I did, however, mind getting a complaint on this occasion as it did not come from a current parent, but from someone who had decided not to send their child to us. Not that she could have anyway, as the waiting list is too long. The Inspector, though, was absolutely fine and I think all went well. She told me at the end that as the complaint had actually been ANONYMOUS, they wouldn't be able to respond to the complainant, but would send me on their outcome. Honestly, if someone has a genuine complaint or concern, you would think they would be keen to know the outcome, rather than just bloody mischief-making.

When I returned home from work, then I was probably not in the best of moods to receive visitors, but receive them we did, including what is becoming a mandatory appearance by the local constabulary. Thankfully, though this was Bobby dropping in for a coffee and to give the twins their present rather than an official visit. It does worry Siggy quite a bit that he no longer reacts when he arrives home and finds a police car outside, as it is normally either community council stuff or Bobby introducing another colleague to a somewhere to get a coffee whilst out and about. Even the neighbours have stopped walking their dogs or finding an urgent need to put out their bins when a cop car arrives.

Siggy had made the mistake of working form home all day and had used the brilliant sunshine as an excuse to do a bit of bush trimming at lunchtime. By the time he was finished work and the various visitors had arrived, the back garden looked suspiciously like a lawnmower repair shop and the twins, as part of their birthday present, were being taught how to mow the front lawn. This meant Siggy had to get to work too, not really what we wanted to be doing as he explained to me several times later.

I'd just like to pause at this point, having re-read the paragraph above, to point out that everything in it is literal. There are no euphemisms in it at all. 16th birthday or not.

All in all,the birthday itself passed off without a great deal of incident or excitement, but we then had the out-and-out fixation that followed on the big 16th party. This lasted all week and never have I had to witness such angst about who should be invited, who shouldn't be invited, who was coming, who wanted to be encouraged more to come and what to wear. That was just the boys - the girls are another story altogether and I have seldom been so pleased that I only have boys. Anyway, for Monday, the guest count was sitting somewhere around the dozen mark, which seemed about right for a 16th birthday party in the house.

Tuesday saw Gordon sit his last exam - Accounts - and also saw the guest list grow to about 18, as they remembered they needed to count themselves and one or two were at the accounts exam that Gordon felt he "needed" to invite. Apparently this was necessary as they would go in the huff in they weren't invited and Gordon wanted to avoid upsetting anyone. Apparently I am not "anyone" so upsetting me by inviting people we have all agreed are "undesirable" was not seen as an issue. It wasn't an issue, according to Gordon, because they wouldn't come anyway (he had heard they were going somewhere else before he invited them). I asked if they had said they wouldn't come when he invited them. "No," he replied, "they're thinking about it and might come here rather than the 18th they were going to." I gave up.

Wednesday. Guest list count now 22.The 2 undesirables had declined, but it was though that Donald should be allowed to bring a few friends. in accounts speak, outgoings = -2, incoming =+6, nett position +4.  

Wednesday also seen me taking my life in my hands and going to boot camp at the rugby club. This is meant to be a fun, but tough, fitness session and I had agreed to go to it with Phoebe (Toni was invited too but as she is running loads of Zumba sessions every week just now, she doesn't really need it). I had been reassured by some of the rugby mums that they had been and it was indeed fun but tough and overall a good workout. It also helped that that first session was free. As it turned out, they had got it half right - it was tough. I am still waiting for the fun. Mind you, perhaps I didn't make the best start by wandering around the clubhouse and talking to various people wondering when the session started. When it was pointed out to Pheobe and I that the session was down next to the pitch and had already started, we went outside and were quite surprised to see a group of about 20 going through their paces whilst be yelled at by a pretty tough-looking guy in full combat fatigues.

We jogged gently down to join and I was immediately pounced upon by Gavin, one of the second XV and a coach for the club. I say "pounced upon" but don't mean that in a physical sense - yet. All he did was congratulate me loudly on making it along so that Stevie - the guy who was running this because he the SAS thought he was being too hard on them - knew my name right from the off. Well, they might as well have painted a target on my arse from that moment forward.Every single drill seemed more and more complicated and Stevie didn't seem to care that I had came along without my bracelet or my watch on, so how was I supposed to know which way was left and which way was right?

"Run." "Jump". "Run backwards." "Crawl." "Carry the man next to you on your back." "Jump" "Run". "Lift those weights" "Dodge."

I though I was going to die. You may have noticed the "Carry the man next to you on your back" bit. The man next to me was Gavin. Gavin the second XV player. Gavin the second XV player and coach. Gavin the bloody 15 stone plus second XV player and coach. He was a gentleman though. He didn't shout too much when I was trying to carry him  - you'd think he'd carry me, but no.

"Change Over, One Left"

"Thank God," I thought.Now Gavin would have to carry me. I turned around to get carried a bit but Gavin had disappeared. Next thing I felt was another huge lump landing on my back and screaming "Go" into my ear. I went. I'm not even sure who I was carrying, but I know they were even heavier than Gavin.

"Last change. Three Right"

I had given up. I had no clue what the second bit meant, but it was later explained to me that it mean I had to move three people down the line in a the direction of my non-existent bracelet - I can only tell my left from my light with the help of the useful visual clues of my watch and bracelet, but because I didn't have those clues, I was too slow and ended up as the carrying every time rather than being carried. Thankfully, the next partner I had turned out to be Pheobe. Not a second XV player Pheobe. Not a coach Pheobe. Definitely not even close to 15 stone Pheobe. And since I got to carry her AGAIN, not a kind caring, considerate friend Pheobe. Wait until next week. I'm wearing my watch and bracelet and I'm carrying no-one. 

I have made arrangements to make sure I don't get caught out the same way next week. I've told Siggy he's coming too and that way I know there someone much slower than me there and if thinks there are any circumstances that may lead to me having his 16 stones plus on top of me then, well then he can forget having his 16 stone plus anywhere near me for a very long time!

Thursday. Mild pain in thighs and knees, but can still walk and generally breathe with only mild pain. Guest list; incoming:+2; outgoing:0; nett position:24. Peter had remembered another 2 names who should be invited or his girlfriend might be upset. Note: Mum no longer anywhere near as high on priority list as girlfriend. I am both gutted and pleased. Gutted because it makes me feel a wee bit old. Pleased because there is hope that one day, he will be someone elses problem. I know that one day may be years and years hence, but can now live in hope.

As I hadn't actually died as a result of boot camp, and with a rather extreme degree of optimism brought on by the combined effects of now being off work for a long, long weekend and the idea that boot camp will make me drop two dress sizes before my holidays, I went for the even bigger torture that is a wardrobe clearout. This was achieved relatively quickly and the only real problem was that I broke one of the plinths (whatever they are) on my chest of drawers, so i left that out for Siggy to fix. You'd think I'd asked him to repaint the Forth Road Bridge the way he went on about, but to be fair he did get it fixed whilst I was out with Toni and Pheobe for a drink to completely negate the Boot Camp efforts from the night before.

Here's another strange thing. Siggy pointed out that when Jesus managed to feed five thousand people using just a few loaves and fishes and miraculously had dozens of baskets left over, they hailed it as a miracle and put it in a book. Why, he asked, did we not have the press around clamouring for pictures of the Miracle Of The Wardrobe. Having weeded out a bit, I had produced five black bin bags of clothing to dump -although we will give to the Scouts who are collecting Cash4Clothes money for their funds - and yet, according to Siggy, the wardrobe remain full. What an idiot. I had to show him the spare hanger I had when I was finished and he just can't understand my logic that, as I now have a spare hanger, I need a new outfit to put on it. Men!

Friday, or P-36 hours as Mission PartyPartyParty would have it. Legs now completely on fire and thighs screaming in pain. Guest list; incoming: +4;outgoing: 0; nett position: 28. Apparently one of the twins invited guests - we'll just call him "S" - had asked if Donald could bring some girls as well as "all of the girls in my year know me, so I have no chance." True though that may have been, I was now concerned that I appeared to be organising a party which involved a degree of pimping for the less successful boys in the twins group. Who was I kidding? I wasn't organising anything, i was just paying for it. 

Paying for it meant that Saturday arrived with a whirlwind of issues to deal with with. Most importantly, my legs seemed to have been extinguished and I could now walk again. Guest List Final Count: Incomings: +4, outgoings: 0; Nett Position: 32. Apparently there were some others  who had asked if they could come and the boys didn't like to refuse. I shall say no more on that.

Siggy made an early exit. 8.30am early to be exact. He had conveniently volunteered to take Scott to day 1 of his two-day football tournament leaving me to run around getting in all the food and drink for the party, but I had an even greater trauma to deal with before that.

Dappy, the mad cocker spaniel, appears entirely incapable of shedding any of her winter coat except in the living room, which has began to look like it has a black carpet when really it is just discarded dog hair on laminate. She therefore was booked in to be groomed at 8am, because he had to leave at 8.30, Siggy had left this take to me as well. Dappy was bounding around as happy as could be when she found out there was an early morning car trip on the cards and even better when we were taking Siggy's bigger car as she had even more space to bounce around in. She was still this happy when I drew into the driveway of the groomers, which is actually run from the groomers home. I put Dappys lead on her and she scrambled over me to get out the car, excited as ever to be somewhere new. 

Except it wasn't actually somewhere new. We had been at the same groomers about a year ago and as soon as her paws hit the ground Dappy froze. It was like having a statue of a cocker spaniel with me as she sat resolute and refusing to move.I could see the curtains twitch as the groomer had obviously see me arrive and so running away wasn't an option. I pulled Dapply along on her lead and but all this meant was that she became more like a stute of a seal as hse lay as flat to the ground as possible and hid her paws underneath her body. I dragged and dragged her until we got to the door, at which point she did stad up, but wrapped herself around me and hid behind my legs.

The groomer was impatiently sympathetic. By that I mean that she told me it was fine and not to worry, she was used to it, but she did keep looking at her watch and encouraging me to get Dappy in as quickly as possible. I left her there, shaking and unhappy in the stirrupy-thing (Dappy, not me) and the groomer assured me she'd be fine and she would muzzle her if need be.

I returned just after 10am to find a shorn Dappy in major huff and a groomer who did very little to make me believe that "she was fine, really." Perhaps I should have asked her about the scratches on her arm and the teeth marks on her hand, but I was in a hurry and anyway, she chose the job, not me.

Next stop was the cash and carry for pizza, cake, crisps, drinks, etc for the party. Bobby, in what I thought was a nice gesture to help, had volunteered to come along with me and this was appreciated when Siggy wouldn't be there to do the lifting and shifting. Now, I'm not in any way ungrateful, but what is it with men and impatience? It's like driving with a constant commentary and really, if I wanted that I'd just tape Siggy and play it on a loop. 

Thankfully, when we arrived, Bobby buggered off with his notebook to take note (I guess that's what note books are for after all) of prices for stuff for a future course he is running and he needed an idea of pricing as they have asked for catering as well. The cash and carry is fairly big, but not big enough for me to avoid him the whole time,although I did clip one old woman's ankles and almost had a nasty accident with a display of laptop accessories when i had spotted him almost turning into the same aisle as me. I should have known to stay away from laptop accessories as I knew he might need some after his dog (yeah right) spilled a cup of coffee over his laptop.I really, really tried to be sympathetic when I heard that. Honest.

Got to the checkout and was then forced phone Bobby as, as is any man's wont, he was nowhere to be seen when he was needed. He eventually turned up and had only the one case of drinks and I had a trolleyload, so I really was glad of the help. At first.

"Why do they need to check your trolleys again on the way out?" "Why cant they make all the wheels on the trolley go in the same direction?" "You'd think they would have a lower bit of pavement to save you bumping the trolley down" (They did but it was five yards away and I wanted the fastest possible route back to the car to get him to shut up) "Wish that bloody driver would make up his mind where he's going to park" "My God, you could have got a bus in there sideways in the time it's taking him"

I was, you may have guessed, pleased when we got to the car and Bobby could stop commenting on every little thing in the 50 or so yards he was left in charge of the trolley.

I began to pack the car and realised that, genuinely, all bloody men are the same. As put each thing in the car, Bobby viewed it as his manly duty to rearrange it for me. I didn't see that putting a case of beer - heavy and hard though it may be - on top of the three catering sized pizzas - soft and squidgy though they may be, but if it made him happy to rearrange things, who was I to argue. I did think that squaring up the pizzas and other boxes into nice straight lines did smack a bit of a place somewhere towards the far left of the autistic spectrum but didnt say anything.Well, not much anyway.

And so we faced the journey home. Bobby doesn't understand me the way Siggy does. Siggy knows that "I know the way back" means "I kind of know where I'm going but I'll just talk a lot and check with you every so often but you dont really need to answer or express an opinion" Well, I think Siggy understands that but as he is the self-confessed world's worst passenger and never lets me drive, I can't be sure. I can be sure that I was glad to drop Bobby off though.  

In fairness, though, I have to thank both Bobby and Pheobe for coming along to the party and keeping Siggy and I company in the garage whilst 34 (I didn't even ask!) teenagers marauded around the house.

Now I know that you all want the juicy details of the party but I have to be honest and say that we didn't see much in the way of juicy detail. We pretty much left them to get on with it and only nipped in every half hour or so to make sure there were no major traumas and I have to say that the kids generally behaved really, really well.

OK, it was noisy, the music was awful and one or two of the girls did seem to be a wee bit squiffy, but no-one was sick, nothing was damaged and if there were any tears on the stairs, we never seen them Honestly, do kids these days really know how to party.

Oh, there was one incident involving a girl climbing out of a skylight window whilst two blokes had their hands on her bum. But that was me so it doesn't really count, does it? Just to explain, we were in the garage and Siggy went to do one of his regular patrols when he found out that we were, in fact locked in. Thinking it was a cunning ploy by the partygoers to stop us interfering, Siggy call all three of our boys (Scott had been banished to my mums earlier, didn't want his tender mind corrupted by anything that might have went on) and of course received no answer. Determined not to let them get the better of us, I volunteered to climb out the skylight and unlock the door from the other side. Even with the receding pain in my lower limbs, I was able to get on the back of the couch and grab on to the sides of the open skylight. As Siggy will tell you, though, I have absolutely no strength in my arms  - he has learnt this over years of asking me to help manoeuvre furniture, carry in shopping (well, groceries, proper shopping isn't a problem for me) or generally assist with any task where I have to hold stuff for a long time. I get giggly and did so again as I was hanging from the sides of the velux. Next thing I knew, at least two hands were shoving me up by the bum and through the skylight. The skylight faces into the conservatory and the sight of me appearing suddenly out of the garage roof must, Im sure, have served as a very effective warning about the evils of drink and drugs  to the open-mouthed teens sitting in the conservatory at the time. In the end, it turned out that they hadn't locked us in, it was just that the handle, which Siggy was supposed to fix, had broken again. Anyway, they knew then not to mess with us and all passed off very well.

I should just say for any parents of attendees of the party who may be reading this that you can all be very proud of your offspring as they were all very polite and well-mannered with us around. I'm sure they are not always that way, but we could genuinely have no complaints about them. Actually, maybe we should be disappointed at their lack of invention when it comes to parties, but they have plenty of time to learn!

Hope you all have a fantastic Jubilee Holiday. After last week, I certainly need it.

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