Monday, 31 December 2012


And it's rare frockage from me and
dinner-suitage from him. We felt we had
to dress up for a New Year's Eve blog post.
2012 is almost over, and the internet is stuffed to the brim with retrospectives and reviews, Best Ofs, Worst Ofs, Love-Offs, and Eff Offs.

Any attempt by me to put together some sort of ‘highlights package’ of my family’s year fills me with the terrible fear that I might effectively be sending you a New Year Round Robin letter.*(You know the kind of thing: ‘Of course, Porscha gained 6 A* A-Levels and is now studying astrophysics at Harvard, and working at an orphanage in Mozambique over the holidays, which is so typically big-hearted of her’). 

But, as is customary as the New Year beckons, I have stopped for a moment and made like a shoplifter (taken stock).

So, here are a few, random, end-of-2012 thoughts that make me glad to be still fighting the good fight:

  • My daughter is healthy, and she’s happy in her new school. We’ve been a bit wiped out by the hormone storms, but we’re taking surfing lessons and starting to ride the waves. (Apologies for this metaphor, but that’s what happens at Christmas when you were up watching Point Break at 1am). Her weight is under control, her emotions a little less so, but I just can't adequately say how proud I am of my unpredictable, sweet, unique teenager.
  • My son is ridiculously entertaining. He’s an exocet missile of fun and mayhem and will be blasting off from nursery to school at the end of 2013, God help them.
  • My husband is still here, and I know he always will be. However, I'm not sure that his lovely fuzzy beard (which makes him look like ‘Lego Indiana Jones’ Dad’ according to my son, or a homeless Nick Faldo according to me) can be relied on to remain.

And as for looking ahead to the New Year?

I know 2013 will be full of uplifting highs and inescapable lows. For all of us. Here’s to the giddy joy of hitting the heights. And here’s to someone sending us a file in a cake so we can at least have a go at escaping. (Although when you’re trying to escape from some of the problems caused by Prader-Willi Syndrome, a cake probably isn’t the best idea. I haven’t thought this through...)

Finally a resolution I’d like everyone to consider adopting. I obviously can’t seem to shake Keanu Reeves out of my head, because the line is stolen from Bill, or Ted, or whichever adventurer it was who said it: 

Be excellent to eachother.

Video is Sam Lightnin' Hopkins - Happy New Year

Sunday, 30 December 2012


Damien is dead. We flushed him down the toilet. My daughter announced solemnly that Kitty, Damien’s 'wife', had kissed him just before we scooped him out of the tank with a net. “It was like she was saying goodbye...” she explained. If she’d have had a violin, she’d have started playing it.

We bought the fishtank for her birthday last year, and she loved it. As the months have passed, however, it's plummeted down her popularity chart. (She even recently expressed a desire to put it on ebay to make room for a doll's house). 

It intrigues me that the smoking embers of her fishy interest have been rekindled into fiery fascination by Damien’s dramatic death. I say ‘dramatic’, but ‘drifty’ or ‘floaty’ would be more applicable.

So having rediscovered fish-love, my girl asked if we could head to our nearby aquatic superstore to get a Damien II. I giggle every time I think of this new fishy fellow’s Omen-like name. I’m resisting the temptation to magic marker 666 on his side and add a hanging nanny ornament to the aquarium.

Damien II came with a female companion (both of them a variety of fish called dwarf gouramis). So far, they are settling in well with Damien’s widow. The man who sold them to us assured us that two females and a male are a good combination. My husband nodded, dreamily, and I kicked him.

Did I mention that the aquatic superstore does really live up to the 'superstore' part of its name? In fact, I’d call it an amazeostore, purely and simply for the fact that it has a random, giant creatue by its entrance. A shark, you might think. A manta ray? An octopus? A goldfish? 

Nope. A gorilla. 

Video is Jerry Goldsmith: Omen II Music

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Saturday, 29 December 2012


There was a slight mix-up on Christmas morning. I can’t understand how it happened. A couple of Santa’s presents were wrong.

My daughter has a theory: she thinks The Big Man “went to Tesco and didn’t write it down right on his shopping list”.

Luckily, it didn’t upset her. A teenager with Prader-Willi Syndrome can magnify small, unexpected problems into huge, overwhelming ones, but in this case this didn’t happen. 

She’s just written this letter to Mr Claus. And it’s pretty reasonable, although I do detect an undercurrent of passive aggressive disapproval. 

Dear Santa

Thank you for my Tom[’s] Midnight Garden book and thank you for my Tom[’s] Midnight Garden DVD, but you makermishtake [sic] because Santa I wanted Goodnight Mr Tom book and Goodnight Mr Tom DVD because that [is] what I wanted for Christmas.  But it don’t matter Santa because I buy it with Tim’s money and I like Tom’s Midnight Garden anyway. 

Love from Josie xx

For some reason, when reading this, I feel as though it has an unwritten ending of: 
“P.S. So stick that up your chimney, you stupid bastard.”  But maybe that’s just me.

Song is Otis Redding - Everybody Makes A Mistake

Tuesday, 25 December 2012


Christmas peaked quite early.

On Sunday, various members of our family popped round to Mum and Dad’s house to drop off a few pressies and consume excess food (the latter as part of the pre-Christmas overeating training regime). Mum asked me if I had any footage of that “Gang-bang” thing my daughter did in the school show. My three nieces’ astonished double takes were a joy to behold. “Gangnam, Mum, GANG-NAM Style, for God’s sake!” I told her, before asking if she may possibly have used that expression whilst telling her friends what her granddaughter had been up to recently, and if so, had she heard of a social services SWAT team turning up at the school gates?

Christmas Eve (always my favourite part of the festive season) saw our two children attend the church nativity service, followed by us taking our daughter out for the now traditional “Night Before Christmas Curry”. The smallest, wriggliest offspring was packed off to Nanna and Grandad’s for an hour while our girl sat with us in the Indian restaurant and ploughed her way through a chicken tikka (and a spoonful of her dad’s spicy dhansak sauce). She was brilliantly, sparklingly, happy: chatting away at full speed and jumping from subject to subject in huge, random, leaps. I couldn’t stop beaming at her, catching my husband’s eye and exchanging grins with him.

We headed home, picking up our over-excited boy on the way, who had apparently been let loose on Nanna’s electric bath chair seat. If she ever gets a Stannah stair lift, I think he might actually demand to move in. And then, before we knew it, it was time to put out a mince pie and carrot for Santa and Rudolph, and wrangle the kids to bed.

Christmas Day was always going to be a little more effort. My husband’s four days on/four days off shifts happened to fall slap bang on Christmas this year, so he had to head off for work in the early hours. I managed to supervise the opening of presents without the kids coming to blows, and was going great guns with the turkey, when we had a slight hiccup. I turned on the waste disposal in the kitchen sink, it made a burping sound to better any human Brussels sprouts-fuelled effort later in the day, and water and potato peelings began to fire upwards from the plughole.  Having picked them out of my hair and eyebrows, I opened the cupboard door under the sink to discover water pouring out of a pipe. We had a leak, a back-up and possibly a blockage. 

I plonked the kids in front of the TV and switched on a recording of The Snowman to keep them out of the way for half an hour, returned to the fray, got out a stack of teatowels and got on my hands and knees to reach in and mop up the giant puddle of mucky water. When Mum & Dad arrived, at around the time I was due to be putting on the roasties, they were greeted by the site of me half-in/half out of the cupboard, with my big fat behind waggling in the air (topped off by a plunging portion of builder’s bum). The soundtrack to this was the angelic strains of “Walking In The Air”, accompanied by Muttley-style incoherent growlings and mutterings echoing out from under the sink. This is a festive image they can never unsee.

But it takes more than being peppered with high velocity peelings to put me off my stride. The calming influence of my unflappable mother kept me on an even keel, (as did the life-saving existence of a working sink in our utility room), and a perfectly acceptable Christmas dinner was served up a mere 30 minutes late. What’s more, my daughter, the one with an insatiable appetite, didn’t go off the deep end at the delay, probably because she was nose-deep in distracting presents.

I’m now drinking a large Snowball. I’ve got my feet up. My husband is home and has been chased round the house by a small boy wearing a Sonic The Hedgehog woolly hat. My daughter has only just gone to bed, after dancing for more than an hour to Christmas songs played on her new Hello Kitty CD player. There’s a placcy bag over the kitchen taps to remind us not to turn them on and flood the floor again - and at some point I must call the plumber.

It's been a great day. Not perfect, obviously, but that would be far too dull, wouldn't it? Hope yours was imperfectly happy, too.

Song is The Pogues - Sally Maclennane (The...ahem...Peel session version)

Tuesday, 18 December 2012


It took several weeks of rehearsals, and some superhuman effort not to spill the beans.

But my daughter, who normally reveals any secret she’s told in world-record time, kept schtum about the big surprise in her class’s song in the Christmas Show.

And lo, it came to pass, that her and her five classmates lined up with pieces of paper spelling out C.H.R.I.S.T.M.A.S. and launched into an excruciating lesson in rhyming from Sir Clifford of Richardmus.

It was Cliff’s Christmas Alphabet song, which I had been warned about. It starts: ‘C is for the candy trimmed around the Christmas tree, H is for the happiness with all the fam-i-lee’ and goes downhill from there. But, you know how it is -  even a Cliff-denier like me will put up with top of the pap songs when they’re performed by a bunch of children with with huge grins on their faces, especially when one of them belongs to me.

As the verses continued, their smiles got wider. The big ‘reveal’ was coming. Mid-song, the music suddenly changed, the volume was pumped up high, that familiar driving drumbeat echoed around the hall, crunchy synths kicked in, and it all went Gangnam Style.

The audience let out a huge, actual ROAR of delight. The teenage troupe’s festive version of Korean rapper Psy’s huge, hit song saw them subsitute “Ooh, sexy lay-dee” with “Yeah, Merry Christ-mas”, and of course let out a triumphant shouts of “Wuppa SANTA STYLE!”.

My daughter and each of her classmates wigged out good and proper, doing those ridiculous and irresistable “I’m disco-dancing and riding a horse” moves.

The song, I realise now, must have been used up and down the land this Christmas, in shows and pantos. 

But last night, none of us saw it coming. And it was a blast of sheer delight.

Video is Psy - Gangnam Style (live). I'll admit the roar from the crowd in the special school hall yesterday wasn't quite as loud as this concert in Seoul.

Related post: Cliffhanger

Sunday, 16 December 2012


Things I learned today:

  • Getting urine out of a mattress is a rubbish way to spend your Sunday morning. Soap, water, a hairdryer and Febreze, if you're wondering.
  • Having a song dedicated to you on the radio while you're scrubbing a mattress doesn't half cheer you up. Even if the song is Paul Nicholas singing Lady In Red*
    *I never asked for it, for God's sake! What do you take me for?
  • The best way to make a four-year-old stop being naughty is removal of pudding privileges.
  • The best way to make a 14-year-old with Prader-Willi Syndrome stop being naughty is to take her home from Nanna's for half an hour just when her baby cousin is due round, and only take her back when she promises to be good. Food privileges, of course, cannot be tampered with for any reason. You simply cannot use threats of removal of food as a punishment for someone who is constantly hungry. It's just too cruel. Besides that, you'd never hear the bloody end of it.
  • Deciding not to send Christmas cards and making a silly video instead is fun.

Happy Christmas!

Video is my own Christmas Message 2012. The music is Rolf Harris and Rick Parfitt - Christmas In The Sun. The man responsible for making me aware of its existence is the legendary @Beany_. He was the same chap who dedicated the aforementioned Paul Nicholas song to me on the Charity Shop Classics internet radio show today. But I'm trying not to hold that against him. 

Wednesday, 12 December 2012


The sound of The Tweenies' Christmas Album is blasting out through our house. My daughter is approximating the tunes and jigging about in a festive manner. 

At this time of year she normally has an attack of the collywobbles, sparked by the nagging thought that perhaps she hasn’t been good enough to make Santa’s Nice List.

I was convinced the levels of worry would reach supersonic levels this December after recent displays of unprecedented boundary-testing. The triple whammy of teenage hormones, emotional immaturity, and a stubborn streak a mile wide, have seen a late surge of crosses in the Naughty Column. When was she going to have a contrition meltdown?

The answer came the other day. She buried her head in a notebook and began to write. An hour later she presented me with a two page Apology To End All Apologies.

“We’d better get this to Father Christmas,” she told me solemnly.  “Quickly.”

Dear Santa,

I do apologise about my behaviour last week. I am really sorry about reading at midnight and later. I am really sorry about not listen to my Mum and staying awake all night. I was really upset because dad hit my bed but not me, Santa.* I do not have enough space on the page and I would like to tell you more about my behaviour, Santa...

...I am really sorry for getting up for a book at midnight to put in my schoolbag and my Mum and Dad was mad at me. And Dad chucked my Princess Magazine in my bag. I am really sorry about not listen to the teachers at school and Mum and Dad was absolutely livid indeed at me.* I am really sorry about my silly behaviour, Santa, and very sorry about sillying behaviour at school.

lots of love from J.

I am really sorry about being naughty girl before Christmas. Am I on the nice list for Christmas? Will you tell me I am a good girl for Christmas on the video Mum has got on the computer like last year?

lots of love from J again.

I am really sorry for doing.

lots of love from J.

*Her Dad did indeed smack his hand down on her bed in exasperation at one point during the Night Of The Long BooksSocial Services please note the BUT NOT ME bit.
*I am now adopting ‘absolutely livid indeed’ as my phrase of choice to indicate all levels of irritation or anger.

So, what do you think? My conclusion is that she should be completely forgiven for any misdemeanours. If you don’t think this is the fulsomest of fulsome apologies, then you will be forcibly fed cold Brussels sprouts until you agree.

Video is Johnny Cash - Folsom Prison Blues. Yes, I know it's a stretch, but I had to make up for the following tune...

Song is The Tweenies - Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

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Sunday, 9 December 2012


I’ve just had a bit of a row with my daughter.

She snuck onto my computer while I was unloading things from the car. This wouldn’t necessarily be a huge problem - the worst she usually does if my attention is diverted is print off 50 copies of Hello Kitty colouring pages. This time, though, I’d stupidly walked away without logging out of my Amazon account, which meant that my girl and her trigger finger were able to discover the Buy Now With One Click button.

Put it this way: I wasn’t actually planning to order a Kindle version of My Secret Garden.
“WHY did you buy this without asking? You haven't even GOT a Kindle!” I yelled, searching frantically to see if the £1.98 digibook was just an apéritif. Images of £200 Dr Beats headphones started to flash before my eyes.

Luckily, the damage to my bank balance remained minimal. She had ordered several DVDs and books, but luckily these were ones that she had meticulously entered on her Santa list, so I was planning to get them anyway. Not that I told her this. I said I had just cancelled all her purchases, and she would have to wait until Santa came to see if she would get what she wanted.

We talked further. I wasn’t at my most patient. 
“I’m sorry, Mummy, I didn’t know I was buying things,” she said. 
“Well, I think you did, because you pressed the Buy Now button, and I know that you can read those words perfectly well.”
“I’m not very happy, because you haven’t listened to me very well today.”
“And you’ve answered back a lot.”

She stomped off. The next thing I heard was her reading out aloud, very POINTEDLY, from the library book she’d brought home from school. It was a chapter called ‘I Get So Moody’ from a book called ‘Me And My Feelings’. The story involves a girl telling her friend how her mum has shouted at her ‘for nothing’.  It actually then goes on to relate how the girl admits to her pal that she'd been really moody, had lost control, and didn't blame her mum for shouting. Did my daughter read this bit out? Did she my arse. She just made sure the 'SHOUTED at for NOTHING' was HEAVILY EMPHASISED, and shot me a few meaningful glances over the top of her glasses. 

She's just gone to bed. With a big, happy smile on her face. I'm now grinning, too. Somehow, somewhere along the line, this little saga seems to have ended up with me being firmly put in my place. Me and my bloody feelings.

Video is Arctic Monkeys - Mardy Bum

Sunday, 2 December 2012


I told my husband last night if he buys me a 'onesie' for Christmas, I'm divorcing him.

He then wondered out loud if there were any ‘joint onesies’. “There probably are," he replied to himself. "They're probably called 'twosies'. Can you get different ‘joins’? Like where you share the head hole? Or perhaps you’re joined at the hip?” 

This put a twinkle in my eye. “I think you might be looking at the ‘specialist’ market there,” I surmised. “I imagine they’re probably joined at the ‘groinsies’.”

We ended the night with a giggle, which was an appropriate way to round off a day that had glowed from start to finish.

It was our son’s 4th birthday. He dressed as Batman, played with toy knights, got a NERF gun his hands were too small to fire, but got round the fact by stripping to his pants, running around the house, and asking his sister to shoot him. She really liked this game.

The Boy Wonder had a party for his pals from nursery at a little kids café.  This place has the honour of being so small, friendly and well-run that it is the only soft play area premises I can enter without losing the will to live.

Parties always need a little bit of extra planning when you have a child with Prader-Willi Syndrome. A quick word in advance and a food handover before festivities began ensured that my daughter was presented with a plate containing low-fat substitutes for the cake and ice-cream her brother and his friends were allowed, but she wasn’t.

My girl, aged 14, thought long and hard about whether she wanted to sit at the party table with the four year olds, or at the next table with the adults.

“I’ll sit here, Mum,” she said, sliding into the seat next to me, unpacking the bag containing her Helly Kitty notepad, Hello Kitty pencilcase, and Jessie J biography. Yes, yes, I know what I said about this latter monstrosity a while ago, but she had a) been armed with a good working knowledge of the Amazon website, b) had saved up her pocket money, and c) had displayed a persistence you just wouldn’t believe.

When her brother gave out the party bags at the end, she was given the job of handing out balloons. We made a fuss of her for being so grown-up and helping look after the little ones. Her chest puffed out with pride. Mine did too, or that might have been my new bra.

Today is my birthday. I didn’t feel like I needed any presents: they kind of all came yesterday.*

If you are planning to deliver any presents today, please note this last sentence is meant in a purely figurative sense.

Song is Marvin Gaye & Kim Weston - It Takes Two. Thank God, after the Cliff debacle.

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