Sunday, 29 December 2013

The One With Bob Monkhouse

As many of you know I am a comedy nut. I have lived, breathed, written, performed, watched, listened to and studied comedy since I was a kid.

One of my earliest memories is of my Dad passing off two classic Morecambe and Wise gags off as his own; the paper bag trick and the almost compulsory urge to say "he won't sell much ice cream going at that speed" every time we heard a siren go past. 

Living, as we do, within earshot of the local hospital, I have said this to the boy ever since he was baby. This led to an awkward moment at nursery when, in the boys learning journal, they had written that when he picked up a toy ambulance he said it was an ice cream van. There was a note to discuss the difference with him. I told them not to worry as I knew why he'd done it.

I've literally never been so proud.

So this brings me to Uncle Bob. 




I loved Bob Monkhouse and his comedy. 10 years ago today he died from prostate cancer, so to commemorate this I have written an article for the British Comedy Guide all about the great man. 

It's been a great honour and privilege to do so and I hope you enjoy reading it.

British Comedy Guide - Bob Monkhouse Remembered 'Bob's Your Uncle'

"They laughed when I said I was going to be a comedian. Well, they're not laughing now."

We miss you Bob. 

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

The One With Christmas in July

There's only 14 sleeps left and it'll all be over.

I'm talking about the big C word.

Yes Christmas! With a fortnight to go things are really hotting up in the run up to the big day. Yet how many times do you hear people say?

‘It'll soon all be over.’

Or,

‘Lets get Christmas out of the way first.’

Or something similar and frankly quite negative.

I on the other hand adore Christmas and never want it to be over. The lead up to it is particularly exciting and my favourite time of the year.

So starting my run up to Christmas in the summer, by being invited to the Tesco Christmas in July launch of their seasonal lines, was a special treat.

Off I went to fancy London to an even fancier 5 star hotel, The Westbury Hotel, which was a beautiful setting (and had Molton Brown hand wash in the loo's – always a sign of quality) to immerse myself in festive fun. The fact that it was 30 degrees in the shade and Andy Murray was in the semi finals at Wimbledon that day didn't deter me.

Walking into the room I entered a winter wonderland. Now I love Christmas but even I had to take a sharp intake of breath at the sight that greeted me. 



These are actually made of meringue 


There was everything you could ever wish for,  decorations, toys, gifts, beauty even Christmas touches for the garden and of course food! Lots and lots of food, which is where I gravitated and pretty much stayed for the whole morning.














Gifts in food are big this Christmas, as well as food where a lot of the hard work has been done for you and you just need to add the final touches at home. This ham with oranges, which serves 20 and you cook in a bag then add the fruit, fills the kitchen with gorgeous festive smells. It tasted yummy too. Oh yes there were samples on offer. 




Or this baking brie where you add the fruit topping.



All the buyers were very knowledgable about their area of food expertise and as you can imagine I was very keen to stand and chat to them for as long as possible, especially when they had samples to taste. Or get all over you. I'd only been there half and hour and somehow I managed to tread on some pate. It's a skill being as messy as I am.

I have to say all the food looked amazing and in the next two weeks it's the busiest time for stocking up the larder, the fridge and freezer for all the roasting and feasting that lies ahead. 

Hoping hubby isn't reading this I fully intend to get him this continental meat platter, which comes with the wooden board, as a stocking filler but what I really wanted to get him was 
the Italian prosciutto 10 months matured ham, which not only comes with it's own stand but it's own carving knife and an instruction DVD! Seriously! 


Unfortunately it was out of my price range at £75 and I'm probably too late to order it in now anyway. However every year hubby and I promise ourselves we're going to buy a 'comedy ham' for Christmas - you know the kind of thing - the sort that looks like Tom is going to chase Jerry with it - with a leg end to hold and a massive white circle of bone running through it. 

This beauty may well be on our Christmas list next year!





Desserts are big this Christmas too, which is a bonus for me. I can just about knock up a trifle but, although I pride myself on being a reasonable cook, if it doesn't start with an onion I'm lost, so I often buy in a dessert.

These boozy jellies flavoured with Bucks Fizz, White Russian and Strawberries and Champagne are perfect for a dinner party with the adults on Christmas Eve after the children have, eventually, gone to bed.



For Christmas day itself this Morello cherry and dark chocolate parcel would be a stunning alternative to a Christmas pud. 



I pretty much concentrated on the food area but in the other areas of the event the styling was wonderful, either pure white winter wonderland or the red and white of Scandi Style, which I have to say is my favourite.






The feel was very traditional with a twist, the twist being that the stylists take on gingerbread houses was to construct them from old fashioned biscuits. The kind that I remember from the 'Family Circle' tin at Christmas. So we had custard creams, nice and jammy dodgers made into elaborate fairytale houses bedecked with red and white striped candy cane roofs. 








I would love to try and replicate this look at home, but I fear my 'styling' skills are more of a case of hope over any actual skill. If I did manage to get my house looking 'on trend' what the boy didn't destroy, the cat would wee over, so I'll be leaving the biscuit houses to the professionals but I have gone all red and white Scandi this year which is so effective but simple to do. 




Some bloggers had brought their children with them to the event, which was lovely to see but extremely brave. My boy would've have trashed the place in 30 seconds flat, and it was a big room!

All in all I had an amazing day out thanks to Tesco. Re-visiting all my notes and pictures this week has certainly got me in the mood for my Christmas food shopping.

If you want more inspiration for Christmas ideas then visit  http://www.tesco.com/christmas and have a very Merry Christmas. 








Monday, 4 November 2013

The One Where It All Comes Out

The boy has been constipated.

There's no way to dress it up, the poor little fella has been bunged up.  

The situation got so bad that, the other Saturday, he got worse and worse until about 5 o'clock he refused all food and was doubled up in pain.

One of his library books is a Hairy Maclary story which has a character in it called Bottomley Potts.

"Mummy my Bottomley Potts is hurting" exclaimed the boy and my heart melted at his pain and his sense of humour through it.

He hadn't had a poo since Wednesday afternoon so I had a fair idea he was constipated but I called NHS 111 anyway and actually had a good experience, (not something many Mums shared when I posted on Facebook). They noted down all the symptoms and said someone local would call in the next 2 hours. 

In fact the local hospital called back straight away and asked us to come down to the Out of Hours surgery as soon as we could. So we bundled the boy in the car and anxiously sped off.

The hospital is only a 3 or maybe a 4 minute drive away. It's no time at all, especially when there's no traffic about, as there wasn't on a Saturday teatime, so in what seemed like an instant we were there and checked in for what could be a long wait.

No sooner had we arrived though, coats off and a corner of the waiting room found to make camp, than the boy crouched down in a familiar position.

"What are you doing darling?' I asked, knowing full well what he was doing. 

"Nothing" came the urgent, red faced and strained reply. "Go away Mummy. Look over there" 

Toilet training is still an on going process and although the boy will wee for England on the potty he won't poo, so thank the lord I'd not gone al fresco with the pants up to the hospital, and had the foresight to put a pull up on him just in case. 

"Are you doing a poo poo honey?"

"No!" 

From the smell he quite clearly was. 

He then stood up, happy he'd finished his task, trumped loudly and exclaimed,

"Ah that's better!"

You couldn't make it up could you! 



Friday, 25 October 2013

The One With My Gums and a Posh New Toothbrush


Sponsored Post 

This post is an entry for Mumsnet Blogger Network Challenge sponsored by Oral-B, promoting healthy gums. Get tips and advice on www.oralb-loveyourgums.com


There's lots of health and well being issues they don't tell you about when you become pregnant. Mostly embarrassing things about going to the loo, or not being able to go to the loo, or not being able to reach when you've been to loo.

Stuff you, unfortunately, have to find out for yourself .

One of the things that never seems to get mentioned is that, during pregnancy, you can develop gum disease. In fact between 50% and 70% of Mums-To-Be experience what the NHS call

Hormonal changes during pregnancy, which, can make your gums more vulnerable to plaque, leading to inflammation and bleeding.


Basically gum disease.

And even after pregnancy 1 in 2 of all adults suffer from gum problems, which is the major cause of tooth loss. A frightening thought. As I get older I can get on board with dying my hair to cover the grey, using face cream for my wrinkles and taking cod liver oil for my aching joints but I draw the line at false teeth!

I only found out I had gum disease when I was carrying the boy because I was recommended by my dentist to go and see a hygienist. In my naïvety I wondered why ladies get free dental care when they are expecting.

I was soon to find out why!

Given the state of my gums, which bled when I brushed and were starting to recede in places, the hygienist and dentist were very strict with me about my dental routine in the future. Not just flossing but proper Interdental brushes to get between the teeth, alcohol free mouthwash morning and night and brushing for two minutes with an electric toothbrush.

I have been a good girl since then and kept up the routine but it's easy to let it slip now and again. I know that my 2 minutes was sliding back to more like the average of 42 seconds that adults in the UK spend cleaning their teeth instead.

So when the chance came along to try out the Oral-B Triumph 5000 with SmartGuide I wanted to give it a go. 




The reason being it times your full 2 minutes brushing for you with a whizzy Smart Guide gadget that shows you how long to brush each quarter of your mouth for. 





It also tells you if you are pressing too hard on your teeth and gums and adjusts the speed and pressure accordingly by using the Triple Action Pressure Control System.

It's the gaps between my teeth that capture food particles and cause plaque but this brush gives a really deep clean and gets in all those hard to reach places.

Over the last two weeks I've been using the Oral-B FlossAction brush head, one of the three brush heads the toothbrush comes with, along with Oral B Pro Expert Premium Gum Protection toothpaste, and I've been noticing a much deeper clean on my teeth and fresher feeling in my mouth, especially in the mornings. Always good when you've been up all night with grumpy 3 year old who's full of cold.




Although my boy is too young to use this brush at the moment he loves the smiley face on the Smart Guide and older children are going to be encouraged to brush for longer because of it too.

There's 5 brushing modes so you can choose what you need, when you need it. After all your teeth don't feel the same everyday, it depends on what you've been doing, eating or drinking. I've been using the daily clean mode mostly but there's a deep clean which gives you a 3 minute brushing time, which is good for a weekly cleanse. Then there's a sensitive setting for when it's been one of those days and your mouth feels like it's done ten rounds with Amir Khan. There's a massage mode for the gum equivalent of a back rub with some soft lights and sweet music and finally a whitening setting for those nights when you've
been on red wine with dinner followed by a coffee, gone to the bathroom looked in the mirror and frightened yourself because your teeth were grey?

All in all this is an amazing piece of kit. It's a pretty hefty investment to buy it in the first place but the whole family can have their own brush head, with you all using the one main base unit, so you only need to buy this and not a separate electric toothbrush each.

The brushes last 3 months so a pack of 4 for £17 will last you the year and makes each one £4.25, which is more than I'd pay for a toothbrush but then you are getting a much better clean than a manual brush. It feels like it does when my hygienist has done my clean and polish and given me a pat on the back for keeping up my regime.

When I saw her in September she told me I no longer showed signs of gum disease. My persistence had worked and I had stopped my gums receding. I was delighted but it had taken nearly 4 years of hard work to stop the rot, as it were, and put a smile on my and her face.

Now I've got my Oral-B Triumph 5000 with SmartGuide smiling at me every morning and evening my hygienist will be smiling even more the next time I see her.



Tuesday, 22 October 2013

The One with The Mental Health

When it comes to health I always find there are two topics that send people scuttling away into a corner of embarrassment. One is sexual health and the other is mental! 

Mental, mental chicken oriental.

Mental. That's mental! You're mental you are!

Insults hurled across playgrounds, and some places of work, since time began.

Will we ever get rid of the stigma of "mental health"?

October is mental health month. We all have mental health but we rarely think about it or consider it. It's just there.

Until it goes wrong.

In exactly the same way we don't always consider aspects of our physical health, until something hurts or twinges.

Or breaks.

In the depths of the various levels of depression I have experienced over the years there have been times when I have felt broken. Physically and mentally broken.

In pieces. 

Telling a person with depression or mental health issues to "pull themselves together" is no more useful or constructive than telling a person with a broken leg to "get up and walk you lazy cow"!

You have to let things heal before they can strengthen and that healing can involve all kinds of different things, including taking pills. 

If I took a tablet everyday for blood pressure or thyroid who'd bat an eyelid? Why is taking medication for a mental health issue any different or more embarrassing than taking one for a physical health issue?

Yet it is, isn't it? Or maybe it was? 


In recent months I have posted two Facebook statuses on my depression and the medication I take for it. The responses have blown me away. Not only have people been supportive but they have shared their own mental health issues and if they take medication too.

As I tell the boy on a daily basis "It's fun to share!"

And you know what, it has been. Telling people I have depression and I take medication for it has been one of the most liberating things I've ever done.

I refuse to hide in a corner. So I talk about it. Because talking about it helps me heal and it, hopefully, stops the rest of the world being embarrassed and treating mental health as something we don't mention. 

Because that's just mental, isn't it! 





Saturday, 7 September 2013

The One With the CCTV and the Gin

We had no gin in the house. Believe me, this is a crisis beyond belief. So I took the boy off to the supermarket to get some.

He loves a trolley adventure does the boy and we did need other stuff too. Tonic, lemons, ice... no honestly it wasn't just a desperate middle aged mother on a gin run. Promise!

The boy was being very good, helping me put things in the trolley and pushing it nicely and not just ramming it into random people's ankles, which was a pleasant change.

We got to the the booze aisle and I was scanning the shelves for a special offer when a little voice said,

"Mummy, can I have a cuddle?"

It may be foolhardy of me but I have a policy of never denying my boy a cuddle, wherever we may be, so I bent down to embrace the little fella.

"Look it's Mummy." he said and pointed upwards. "Wave Mummy." 

The drinks aisle has CCTV cameras and TV screens for security and there we were, up on the big screen, having a lovely Mummy and boy hug, with me clutching a bottle of cheap, own brand gin in my hand and waving it at the camera like a drunk Aunt at a wedding, doing the bending down dance with a toddler.

Bearing in mind at this point my trolley only contained, tonic water, beer, wine, some chocolate and a child's toy, which we needed as a present for a birthday party, I looked like the kind of Mum who only looks up now and again to sling her kid a new Moshi Monster and a packet of buttons, whilst she drinks her "special medicine"! 

Hello, social services.

I do hope those CCTV pictures aren't recorded for training purposes or that's going in the Christmas party blooper tape for sure. 

God I'm classy! 




Friday, 30 August 2013

The One With Thomas and Something Nasty

As you know potty training has finally gone into full swing here in the Randomhousehold. 

The boy has decided he will now do wees' on the potty but, to quote Pirate Pete's potty book, "he's finding doing a poo much harder".

That's ok. We can live with that. It's a letting go thing. I've read it's quite common. I'm just excited that he'll do anything at all. So excited in fact that I have employed some top comedy parenting skills and taught him to say 'ta dah' when he rises triumphantly from his potty after doing a wee. 

It's a sight to behold! 

Lemon Cake Lady suggested he add a bow or some showbiz jazz hands as well, but we don't want to completely, and quite literally, take the piss do we! 

Today however we had a breakthrough. The boy was out in Nanny P's garden when he asked Grandad Atu for the potty. A rarity in itself, as he normally waits for us to ask him if he needs to go. Unfortunately the boy couldn't wait and by the time Grandad had got back he'd curled one out on the path.

But hey it's a start! He didn't ask for a nappy and he 'let one go' to coin a phrase. And at least this time he hadn't started moulding it like some organic, hippy Play Doh! 

You see the other day I went to empty the potty of wee in the bathroom and came back to be presented with Thomas the Tank Engine looking a bit grubby,

"Thomas has fallen in the mud Mummy" said the sweet voice of the boy as he presented me with the train "He needs a wash down"

"Honey what is that? Where did you get mud from in the lounge? Oh my god that's not mud is it? It's poo!"

The boy had obviously done a teeny, tiny little poo after his wee whilst I was out of the room, scooped it up and pressed it into the wheels, fender, firebox and funnel of poor old Thomas the Tank Engine! 

Not so much 'Thomas, he's the cheeky one' as 'Thomas, he's the shitty one.' 

I quickly ascertained that he hadn't put his fingers in his mouth and then performed not so much of a wash down as a mass clean up operation of boy, carpet, sofa and train. 

We then had a long talk about about how we don't play with poo and poo isn't mud. It's poo. And poo is dirty with lots of germs that can make us ill. So don't play with it, you cute but rather poo obsessed boy. 

God bless the Dettol wipe is all I can say. 

Much like life, it's amazing how a little bit of shit can go such a long way isn't it!