The Emperor’s New Clothes


I read a very interesting piece the other week about women being the ones who bear the mental load of a family with children; the assemblies, the playdates, who doesn’t like bananas, the whereabouts of “that shirt I wanted to wear”, dishwasher salt levels, fridge supplies. I could go on for pretty much forever and most men probably won’t have a clue what I am talking about but I guarantee that most women, regardless of whether they are in paid or unpaid employment, will.

I think that the bearing of the mental load is particularly evident when considering the Summer Holiday. With the warmer weather you could be forgiven for starting to think about getting away. That is, if you can get through all the emails about GDPR to consider it. Whilst I am thrilled that anyone I have ever shopped with and people with whom I have never shopped are deeply concerned for my privacy and are exceedingly tearful at the prospect of us parting company, I am delighted that my inbox will no longer be filled with rubbish. I have therefore done what everyone else has done and that is to gleefully delete every single email begging me to stay in touch. I digress. We are planning on having a holiday in the Summer. I have booked a week in the Lake District as we have not been there before and Man of the House wants to go on a looooonnngggg walk with The Eldest Childerbeast. I booked and advised Man of the House of the dates. Now given that I bear the mental load in our house, I guarantee that it will not really be discussed in detail again until much nearer the time, save for requests for items of clothing to be bought or to check that general administration of said holiday is on schedule.

When we get to the date of the holiday, Man of the House will get up, shower and enquire as to whether we are all packed. He will then announce that he needs a clear run (i.e to be child free) so that he can Load the Car. Loading the car seems to be a big event in the male holidaying calendar. And I suspect it is because packing for the holiday is not. The planning involved in getting five people and a dog ready for a week away is a daunting task indeed. Not only do I need to get clothes for five people for a week, packing for all weathers, I also need to consider their potential ailments and how to deal with them, whether including a particular t-shirt/jumper is likely to cause offence to the wearer, whether we have sufficient numbers of pants and socks, how far we are likely to be able to travel before someone will need feeding/to be sick/a wee, and of course, there is the Hound.

Now I have no objection to being the one of the two of us to do this – Man of the House is not exactly sitting and contemplating his navel whilst I stockpile suncream. However, ’twas ever thus. Even when I worked full time for pounds sterling. And that seems to be the case for most of my female friends. For example, I have a friend who I hope is currently enjoying a holiday with her family. She and her partner both work for money. And yet it was she who was doing the washing to get ready for holiday and she who packed. I can’t think of one of my female friends who wouldn’t.. There must be one, but I am not sure who it is. Slightly off tangent, but same point – one male friend announced that he had just cleaned the whole house for his wife. I queried as to why it was for his partner (both partners work for money), as presumably, he also resides at the family home. He didn’t really have a answer. I know I didn’t.

Of course one of the things about packing for holiday with children is that you end up taking very little for yourself. If you’re going to have to do all of the packing and end up taking bugger all to wear, you might as well take one nice item. So I think, girls, it is time to treat ourselves and I have found just the thing. Pre GDPR and popping up in my timeline the other day was an item of clothing that was termed “a swimming costume”. I believe that these are two too many words for the item concerned as you can see for yourself here: https://www.wolfandbadger.com/uk/veronica-swimsuit-with-open-back-nude-mesh/.  If unclear from the photograph, it is crafted in nude mesh so it would appear to give the illusion of the wearer being completely starkers. But don’t worry, there is a modesty panel to cover a tiny portion of your lady parts to save your blushes. Everything else, I’m afraid, is very much on display. But that’s okay because it is a swimming costume. Honest.

Before you poo-poo my suggestion, claiming that you neither have the figure of the model in the advert, nor the ego of someone who I have heard on the grapevine this week tells everyone that they don’t have a profile picture because they’re so attractive that they want to be known for their work rather than what they look like, I think you should re-consider. Once all of the running and screaming has piped down, picture the deserted beach. A mere snip at one hundred and twenty five pounds for a week. And takes up no room at all in a suitcase. Have a think about it.


The Thigh’s the Limit


The other week my daughter (who is the length and build of a racing snake) commented that her thighs were fat and they should be covered up.  She’s eight.  And she’s not overweight.  Still coming back from the stratosphere after last week’s Cartastrophe,  I explained to all three of my children that hips, thighs and bottoms are very important, as not only do they hold your entire body up to permit you to move about, they also help to keep all of your internal organs in the right place.  I spoke at length about how important it is that these parts of your body are strong, and looked after, and in order to be strong and looked after, they need to have a food source and also some muscle to them which involves exercising, because they have the weight of whole body resting on them.  Who knows if they were listening to me?  They probably weren’t given that they kept asking me to move out of the way.  However, I spoke to Sister B earlier today and she said that Niece (also the height and build of a racing snake and aged eight) had made a similar comment whilst poking her thighs.  This displeases me intensely.

In an entirely unrelated conversation, a couple of weeks ago a friend revealed to me that at the age of forty she was “going to get the legs out.”  Rather than it being her issuing me with a warning to run for cover as she was about to strip off, she meant that she was wearing (woo-hoo) a dress with a short skirt.  Now when I say a short skirt, I don’t mean a bum-skimmer.  Just a perfectly decent and acceptable skirt above the knee.  She had decided that she was not going to hide her legs away anymore.  So after forty years of keeping them under wraps she has unleashed them.  And they are perfectly lovely legs, which I am given to understand carry her about without any difficulties and have been known to run occasionally.

Inspired by the latter conversation and enraged by the former, last week,  I purchased a pair of shorts.  I can hear you wolf whistling now.  And I don’t mind telling you that partly because I wanted to show my daughters that thighs without that ridiculous gap are normal and nothing to be ashamed of, and also because I too have spent forty years covering my legs up, I had all good intentions of wearing them.  They’re not short shorts.  Whilst I strongly believe that you should wear whatever the hell you like, as far as I am concerned, no matter how good my legs may or may not be, short shorts are only for anyone under the age of thirty and Kylie Minogue.  It is to my (and that of Man of the House’s) eternal chagrin that I do not fall into either of those categories.  Plus my legs are quite fair indeed; unlike Kylie’s, they are translucent rather than transcendent.

Of course, just by making a purchase, it is not as easy as all that for a woman to wear a pair of shorts.  Men buy shorts, put shorts on, and they’re good to go.  It’s like swimming.  Men think to themselves “oh I fancy a swim, I shall take my shorts, a towel and a pair of goggles and make my way to the local swimming pool.”  It should be that easy for women, but it isn’t.  Women think “oh I would like a swim.  But do I want to go through at least an hour of hair removal before I am fit to be seen in public? And where I am going to find this hour undisturbed so that I may gather my array of tools in order to shave, pluck and wax so that people will not gasp in horror or faint when I disrobe?”    So I had to commence on the task that is not dissimilar to painting the Forth Bridge.  Ladies of diminutive stature be grateful because whilst those of us on the taller side may be able to reach some things on the high shelves, not only do we continually bang our heads on the cooker hood, it also takes us bloody hours to shave our legs.  Deary me you don’t know how lucky you are.  So after a geological age, my leg hair was dealt with for at least twenty four hours.  I could have got the shorts on and the legs out there and then.  But I felt that it would be unkind to everyone, and especially unkind to the Hound who can only see in monochrome, not to do something about the glare.

I decided to set about dealing with this issue with some fake tan.  I first had a fake tan only a few years ago.  Man of the House had said “why don’t you have a fake tan before we go away?”  Thinking to myself “Blimey, if he thinks I need to have a fake tan, I really do need to have a fake tan” I immediately booked myself in to a beauty salon.  Someone stood me in a shower cubicle stark naked apart from the tiniest disposable pants in the world (me in the pants, they were professionally and appropriately attired for the task) and advanced on me with a spray gun.   If I hadn’t have given birth to three children when I couldn’t have cared less if a brass band had been in the room, I might have felt a tinge of embarrassment.  As it was, I barely flinched when I was asked to put myself in all number of ridiculous poses, which the therapist confidently assured me was to achieve the much-vaunted all over glow.

This year I thought that I could probably manage my legs myself. I had been advised by a friend that one should moisturise one’s legs prior to application of the fake tan to ensure even cover and no streaks.  I placed a towel on the bed, myself on the towel, moisturiser on my legs and then the fake tan.  I lay down to let it dry and closed my eyes.  That was a mistake.  I woke up to a little face next to me at the side of the bed, for whom a promising career in the diplomatic service awaits: “Mummy why are your legs orange?”  She should have looked more carefully.  They were orange at the front and stripey at the back.  A wash did not improve them.  So I am afraid that the shorts, and my not very subtle point about thighs are going to have to wait for a few days until the legs aren’t streaky and I can spend another eon shaving them.  By which time Summer will be over and I can retreat to the comfort of my jeans.  Thank God.





Photograph from tumblr.com



I have been absent for the past few weeks for no other reason that I have been struggling to get my shit together in order to be able to write. I read an article about dispensing with the idea that you will have the time to sit and write for any period when you have children, and that you just need to write in the inbetween.  So here I am in the inbetween.  This morning you find me inbetween the Walking of the Hound and the Hoarding of the Food.  By the time I finish writing this I will probably be inbetween the Duvet and the Pillow.

Solicitors or rather, attorneys, are in the news again this week.  Turns out that President Fart’s lawyer did not pay over an enormous wadge of cash to the other side without his client’s instructions to do so. What an huge surprise that was.   It has made me think once again about the rules by which solicitors are (quite rightly) governed, those in other professions who are not, and those to whom it would probably not make a difference either way.

For the past four months I have been attempting to buy a new car.  I contracted to purchase a new car in January to be delivered at the end of March.  I agreed a price, I signed a contract and paid a deposit.  My first red flag should have been having to ask for a copy of the order form a fortnight after they had taken the deposit because it had not been sent to me.  Red flag number two was that the order form was dated the day that it was sent to me and not the date that the order was placed and the colour (very important) was wrong.  Red flag number three, hearing absolutely nothing at all between receipt of this form in January until I chased at the end of March to ask where the car was, that being when it was meant to arrive.  The email response I got at the end of March was a red flag to a bull.

Apparently the dealer had some good news.  After speaking to Head Office they could confirm that my car was going to be built in a fortnight.  It should be ready for the end of April or early May.  I was unsure as to why this was good news in that it was being built two weeks after it was meant to have been delivered.  Some email to-ing and fro-ing went on, but essentially the position was that I could either like it or lump it and my distinct impression was that they didn’t really care which.

A fortnight later I received another email.  In summary; the car should be with the dealer within a few days, it needed to be registered before the end of April or the price might go up, and could I send the money over?  I asked for information such as the date the car was expected to be with the dealer, why the price would increase when I had contracted to buy a product at a price, and the requirement for me to send the money now when they did not have possession of the car and I had not seen it.  I did not consider any of these requests unreasonable, but that is not how they seemed to have been received.  I said to Man of the House that I expected that if a man had been having the same conversation they would have thought of him as a firm but fair negotiator.  As a woman, I expect that they just thought of me as a bitch.

So bearing the above and my own profession in mind, I wonder if I may put a hypothetical conversation to you.  For the avoidance of doubt, I would never treat or ever speak to anyone, not even the world’s most ghastly person (if a solicitor refers to someone as ghastly or beastly, they are really very horrible indeed) like this.

Imagine I am acting for you on your property purchase of Buckingham Palace, upon which you instructed me in January, with all parties aiming for completion by the end of March.  This timescale fits with you getting started on the double-glazing over the Summer so it is all done and dusted ready for the Autumn.  This also suits Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as she has a couple of family weddings coming up and she wants to be settled in her new abode before it all kicks off in May.  After hearing nothing from me since January, this conversation is taking place at the end of March.

Me: Good news, I think with a bit of luck and a following wind I might be able to complete in a fortnight.  Can you send over the money ready for completion?  It’s probably peanuts to you so you don’t mind do you?

You: Completion was to be for the end of this month. You haven’t been in touch since contracts were wrong in January when I asked to see a copy of the contract, parts of which were incorrect.

Me: [hands over ears]: Lah-di-dah…… so could you send the money anyway on the off-chance I’ll do it?  And can you send me my costs as well because it’s really important for me that I get my bill in for the end of this month even if I haven’t completed.  And by the way, if you don’t send the money before the end of this month the purchase price and my fees are likely to go up.

I was opining as to how the conversations would go for solicitors in other areas:


Client: Wasn’t there a deadline for submitting that to the Court?

Solicitor: Deadline, schmedline.  I’ll work to my own timetable, thank you.


Client: (4am).  I really need you here to advise me.

Solicitor: I’ll see you at 9am and not before.  Sweet dreams.

Private client:

Client: Is my Will ready to sign?

Solicitor: It’ll be ready when I’m ready to draft it.  If you die, you die.

If any of these were true I am sure that the SRA would be on it faster than me on a box of unattended After Eights.  And there are bad solicitors as in any other profession, otherwise the SRA would have had no need to strike off a solicitor who head-butted the other side (both litigants in person for the purposes of that matter) or investigate a firm where one solicitor sent what the judge investigating referred to as “breathtakingly rude correspondence” which included a letter saying “You will get nothing then.  Goodbye.” .  Of course some people do act out of character (the barrister acting for the solicitor struck off for administering a Glasgow kiss said that the stress of the case caused his client to behave in such a manner).   But it strikes me that rather like my Flybe debacle last year (see Fly Maybe blog) some people either just don’t get it, or worse still they get it and just don’t care.

So what do I do?  Headbutting would seem to be rather over the top.  I was going to write to their CEO and explain so they can try and put it right for the next customer, but that could cause someone to directly lose their job, or at least have a very unpleasant meeting with management; I don’t want to do that to anyone, particularly when the failings seem to be both systemic and endemic. And why should I care about their business when to all intents and purposes they do not care about mine?  When I mentioned where I was getting a car from to a neighbour this morning, entirely unprompted, they guffawed loudly and voiced an entirely uncomplimentary opinion. A complete stranger asked me in the showroom if I thought they were any good and when I said not she said that she had found it to be so awful that she was never going there ever again.  Perhaps I don’t need to do anything.  I think I’ll just never go back.





Photographs courtesy of scred and stux on Pixabay