Friday, 27 January 2012


Class differences are rife in parenting. For a start, you only call it 'parenting' if you earn over £20 grand a year and have money to invest in Keep Calm and Eat A Cupcake signs. Middle class mums pander to the every need of Millie, Francois and Hericlitus, following them about as they reach 'developmental milestones'. Meanwhile, the rest of the world drag their children around behind them while they argue into their Nokias, occasionally stopping to give them a well-deserved kick up the arse.

It's typically superior of the middle class to imagine they're doing things right and the underclass are ill-bred swines who create the devil's spawn. The middle-class mothering mafia might think they've got the edge with their tupperware and Ugg Boots, but just look at their progeny - flinging babyccinos around and running amok in art galleries, wiping snot on the Rothkos. Just because they have tangled hair and applique Boden tops with cute pirates on them doesn't mean they're not odious little shits. Meanwhile, if you're called Jayden and have a mini Celtic strip and an alcoholic Dad who owns a samurai sword, you're a menace to society. It's not fair.

It's time we stopped vilifying working-class children. Remember when David Cameron made all those speeches about Britain's families opening their curtains and going to work? Forget it. There's a lot to be said about not having a job and being around to look after your kids. Big families, lots of support, time to go to the park. So what if the baby's eating a Twix?

I think the middle-class and the working class need to work together and form a new wave of tolerant, enlightened parenting, which gets the balance right between over-attentive fawning and outright neglect. Working class people can teach the middle class to give their kids loads of sweets, put them on the bouncy castle and stop worrying so much. In turn, the middle class can teach them about dental health, Twitter and amusing Emma Bridgewater tea towels.

When this cross-cultural parenting is done right it's a joy. One of my heroes is a mother who wouldn't be seen dead fondling the heart-shaped silicon bakeware at John Lewis. My son has a friend at nursery who we'll call Lee. I invited him to my son's birthday party, and because I'm so hopelessly middle class I thought maybe she'd show up with him and hang around for a glass of wine. But no. Instead he turned up with his granny, who gave me a Toy Story bag, said: 'if he has any accidents, here's a spare pair of pants,' and fucked off. Three hours later, Lee's ma rocked up, hungover to buggery, with a lovebite the size of Canada.

And do you know what? Her son was the most charming and well-behaved boy at the party. Now THAT'S the way you do it.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Occupation: Piss Artist

It might surprise people who read this blog, but I am a writer by trade. 'By trade' makes it sound like I have a van, or at the very least a dungaree pocket containing a spanner, but no. (Actually, perhaps writers should have vans, and take out adverts in the Yellow Pages. 'Sebastian Faulks- Complex Plot Devices While U Wait'. 'Joanna Trollope - Gas Safe Registered Aga Technician' etc).

Anyway, I wish there was a degree of legitimacy to being a writer but there isn't. Unless you're famous or you stand about all day waving a big fucking quill, nobody knows. So you'll just have to take my word for it that I once wrote some books that are at #19,567,984 on the Amazon list. Also, once, in 1997, the Independent on Sunday proclaimed that I was genius. I had the clipping, but NOW I CAN'T FIND IT. Oh well. If you're one of those people *Dennis Norden face* who likes to spot writers in the street, look out for the unkempt fat people who are crying on a park bench. That's us. Or it might be a tramp.

Being a (not very successful) writer is weird, and a source of endless strife. Really, we should get proper jobs and just give up, but we don't. I scrape a living from words, but nobody can really call themselves a writer in casual conversation, even if they've been published, without sounding like a pretentious, cretinous turd. This leads to a perverse state of embarrassment, to the point that you may as well work in an abbatoir. You almost talk yourself out of it. When I was stressing out a couple of months ago, my own mother suggested I get a job at a cheese shop. 'But I'm...a writer,' I stammered. Even I didn't believe it when I said it.

When you've got kids, writing becomes an impossible dream, unless you have an understanding spouse with an inheritance, a large family or an army of helpers. There's no way you can write a synopsis for that elusive bestseller when you've got a chimp hanging off you bollocking on about Balamory. Sitting around making things up seems like a ridiculous indulgence, especially if there's no cash guaranteed at the end of it. You also need time. Lots and lots of time. Time to examine your metaphorical belly button fluff. Time to let your mind unspool, like the multicoloured wheel of doom on your laptop. Time to sit on a park bench and cry and share a bottle of White Lightning with a man called Nobby.

But maybe time's on my side. The other day I registered my son for school. It was a weird feeling. Part of me was sad. Part of me was yelling 'YEAH! BETWEEN THE HOURS OF 9 AND 3 I CAN DO ONLINE GAMBLING AND WATCH REPEATS OF COACH TRIP!'. One thing's for sure - once he's at school I'm going to have to either write myself out of poverty, or get that job at Cheeseworld. (Or both.) So I've had some ideas and I'm writing them down and I'm going to get back to number #19,567,983 on Amazon if it kills me. And if that doesn't work, I'm going to become a plumber.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

In 2012, I will drive my family into a wall.

Is it 2012? *checks Busy Mum Calendar with laminated pockets, cutesy font and the inevitable bird on it*. Yes, it is. In that case, my new year's resolutions are as follows:

1. Be the best I can be. At eating.
2. Get more sleep.
3. Write a novel.
4. Learn to drive.
5. Learn basic Romanian in order to converse with husband's family
6. Become a rock star, finally.

Although learning basic Romanian will not be easy (Este ca o rapita in buzunar sau esti multumit doar sa ma vada?*) the thing that scares me most on this list is learning to drive. I'm 40 this year and my inability to drive is becoming more and more shameful. If I'm going to be a fully functioning mother, then surely I have to be able to command a large vehicle and park it on the ziggzaggy bit outside school, narrowly avoiding the shins of the lollipop lady. I'm going to have to drive to the houses of my son's friends to pick him up after an evening of looking at And I need to take my tank to the supermarket, load it up with huge packs of toilet roll and crates of wine, then crash it into a bollard. To be a grown up mum - a proper capable mum - I need to know how to drive. I will also require two bumper stickers - one with 'Mum's Taxi' on it, and the other bearing the legend: 'MY OTHER CAR IS A BROOMSTICK'. Isn't that the idea?

But the whole thing gives me sweaty palms and a mouth like furry dice. By learning to drive, I believe that I'm technically signing up to murder my family in the grizzliest manner possible. I have no spatial awareness and I get my jumper caught on door handles. I've never had any sense of left and right. And I'm very easily distracted. To sign my name on a provisional licence may be akin to signing my own death sentence.

Then again, you see some major eejits driving cars - people who need a lie down after choosing their lottery numbers. That should make me feel better, but it only makes it all worse. Even if I'm the best driver in the world, the Jensen Button of Sainsbury's car park, I still might bump into a four wheeled lunatic. This seems like too much of a risk to take, especially as I will be one of those drivers who has to switch off Ken Bruce's Popmaster in case a particularly tricky question about ELO sends me careening into the central reservation.

The other thing I've failed to tell my husband, who is ever hopeful that I'll drive his sorry arse home after a night on the booze, is that I have absolutely no interest in it. I would rather learn how tripe is made, or visit a factory that makes paperclips. Hell, I would rather learn Romanian. And as they say in the motherland, 'Nu ti-a pus lingura intr-un cazan care nu se fierbe ai.'**

* Is that a turnip in your pocket, or are you just pleased to see me?
** do not put your spoon into the pot which does not boil for you