Friday, 31 December 2010

The memory of sleep

(Now there's a poetic title for you. Lyricism and chat about lady bits and poo. Where else can you get that tantalizing combo, eh? Eh? I'm waiting...)


There's a question that all new parents fear. Such an innocent sounding little inquiry, thrown out casually by every family member, friend, and total stranger. Yet it has the power to reduce anyone with a baby to a weeping, desperate, pathetic creature, with a paranoid conviction that the questioner is out to mock and distress them.

"So is he sleeping through yet?"

Shut up. Shut up. Shut up you total bastards.

Just for the record, no. No, Lumpy isn't 'sleeping through'. And, by the looks of it, he won't be until he's at least 18, so don't ask me again until then. Or I'll have to rip your arms and legs off, then flush your limbless torso down the toilet.

At this point, I am reasonably convinced that I'll still be being woken up at 4am by Lumpy demanding BOOB when he's 47 and a bank manager. Which is a very weird, disturbing, and generally wrong thing to think (my son will never be a bank manager). But that's what extreme sleep deprivation will do to you.

Lumpy is now six months old. Six months and two days, to be exact. I was going to write a post in celebration of this glorious milestone, but I was too busy wandering around bumping into walls and having fights with my own feet. Anyway, according to the rancid vat of knowledge that is the interwebs, six months is the point at which most babies learn to sleep through the night. Unfortunately Lumpy hasn't worked out how to google yet, so he doesn't know this. Either that, or it's a vicious lie put about by evil people who should be hunted down and made to eat their own keyboards.

Lack of sleep was the thing I was most afraid of before having a baby. The responsibility, the pooey nappies, the lack of freedom, the steady haemorrhaging of money and eventual bankruptcy, all of it paled into insignificance in the face of not getting my eight hours a night. I do not handle tiredness well. Back in the days when the only thing to wake me up at night was a borderline obese cat with claw retraction issues climbing over my head, I used to get very, very twitchy if it looked as if I wasn't going to get those eight hours (and that cat found itself catapulted from the duvet and into the cupboard doors on many an occasion). Remarkably, I have refrained from throwing Lumpy anywhere thus far, and I have actually coped reasonably well. In that I haven't murdered anybody, or killed myself, yet. Though both have been threatened repeatedly, usually at three in the morning (my lowest point, when the world seems a cruel, dark, nasty, smelly, sleep-free place where the beasts of despair do dwell and gnaw upon my saggy, baggy eyes. I'm a bit melodramatic then, as well. Just a bit.)

I also know we really don't have it that bad. Lumpy rarely cries in the night, making so little noise, in fact, that house guests are usually convinced he sleeps all night through, and must think my haggard look is a trendy fashion statement - a bit like the heroin chic of the 90s. He's just restless, grunty, whimpery, wiggly. Enough to wake me up, anyway. And then, once he's awake, nothing will really get him to settle down again but the BOOB.

There was a point when Lumpy was only waking up once, at about 4.30. This was actually quite survivable, especially as he also seems to have inherited the lazy git gene, leading to a love of lie ins. But that has changed. Now he wants a chat at half midnight, two, 4am, then some more times. It all gets a bit vague after 4am. Whether it's his teeth, his age, or the fact that he's an evil genius sent to torture us into revealing all those Russian government secrets we are privy to, I don't know. Most likely the latter.

So I'm putting him on eBay. I'm hoping some government will buy him as an instrument of 'enhanced interrogation'. I'm telling you, waterboarding ain't got nothing on this baby.

Am not evil geniuz. Reallys.

Am cutes. Cutes cutes cutes.


Monday, 20 December 2010

Overheard today at Cowley Centre...

(yes, I can't keep away from the place)

A group of young ladies, surrounded by shopping bags, sheltering from the snow and taking the opportunity for a quick fag. As Lumpy and I slid past, one of the more voluptuous members of the group, with her hair in a very fetching side ponytail, was heard to declare:

"It don't matter what I do. I can put me hair up like this, put some nice make-up on. Whatever. Don't matter. I'll always look like a chav."

Now that's self-awareness.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Snow. My. God.

We had a little sprinkling of the white stuff here today. Being a confessed Christmasophile, I naturally love it when frozen fluffy matter drops from the sky, but delightful though this seasonal snowfest was, it had rather awkwardly decided to happen on a weekend where we had to do stuff and be places.

First off, we were meant to be going to London (they don't usually let bumpkins like us there, so we have to sneak in up the Thames wearing fake moustaches). Unfortunately the snow had blocked the river as well as all the roads, so there was no chance of us attending the party (which was possibly lucky, as we've sort of forgotten how to behave at parties, being generally encrusted from head to toe in baby regurgitate and only able to talk about the consistency of Lumpy's latest poo. We get a lot of invitations, as you can imagine).

But, even more pressingly, we had to rescue a turkey. Well, not rescue it, exactly, but grab it, shove an apple up its arse, and stuff it in an oven, before ruthlessly eating it to death with a group of our closest friends. And that turkey was currently a 45 minute drive away on certain-death inducing snow roads from hell. But Mr Badger, like the brave turkey-collecting superhero that he is, laughed in the face of this suicidal mission, strapped on his thermals, and threw himself into the blizzard. Actually, it wasn't really snowing that much when he left, but by golly it started coming down pretty soon after, and it wasn't pretty. Well, actually, it was very pretty, but that's not the point. It was darned dangerous. And he managed to hunt that turkey down, grab it, shove it in the car boot, and get both himself and the aforementioned foul safely back home, in order to be roasted to within an inch of its life.

So then I had to do my bit. I gave Lumpy what may well have been his final feed, before donning ski jacket, wellies, and woolly hat, and casting myself upon the snowy wastes. Destination: Cowley Centre.

Oh yes. Cowley Centre. Where I was going to attempt to buy all of the other early Christmas dinner essentials, like sausages wrapped in bacon, an organic sprout tree (they have to be on a tree. That's the rule), enough mince pies to sink a battleship, and emergency packs of frozen roast potatoes, just in case ours went pear-shaped (all sorts of freakish things happen in our kitchen, including potatoes transforming into fruit. The turkey'll probably end up looking like a wombat. Just you wait and see).

Knowing what a chav palace Cowley Centre is, I feared that this mission could be just as suicidal as, and pitifully less successful than, Mr Badger's turkey hunt. No doubt we would all end up eating turkey twizzlers, deep-fried sprouts, and Dairylea cheese slices. And our friends would never talk to us again, or want to come round to dinner, and we'd be social pariahs for the rest of our lives and never get to leave the house again, meaning Lumpy would grow webbed feet and be only able to talk in squeaks and grunts through lack of social contact.

The scene outdoors was desolate, with only a few other brave souls sinking up to their knees in snowdrifts and falling off the kerb into the path of sliding buses in their desperate attempts to reach Iceland and the wonder of fifteen different varieties of moulded frozen pig products in a plastic sack for just £1.99. But I was heartened to see that the driver of this glorious specimen of chavmobile had made it out and safely to its essential destination. The pub.

Check out the spoiler on that baby. Rwwwoooooaaaaar.

Somehow I got to Cowley-a-rama, and, even more miraculously, managed to find everything on my Christmas dinner essentials list (as well as some really-not-essentials, such as raspberries and blueberries. My concept of seasonality seems to go out of the window at the first whiff of death-by-snowdrift). Thank the lord for Co-op and its middle-class leanings. Witness the haul in all its glory and utter unnecessaryness:

I rapidly realized I was going to actually have to carry all of the crap that I'd bought back through the ever-increasing blizzard. The Badger residence, in all its snowy glory, has never looked so welcoming.

And I was delighted to see that we now had a ski slope rather than a set of stairs. Now, that'll impress the visitors.

I was, of course, welcomed with open arms and much rejoicing by the rather more sensible members of the household, who had opted not to venture out of the house.


Oh hi, boob lady. You get that milks I ordered? Now moves your frozen selfs away from me. Iz colds.

PS: Apologies to any readers living in countries where you get proper snow. We are quite aware of our British patheticness at getting so very excited over a couple of inches. Humour me on this one. Or humor me, if you prefer.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

A very badgery Christmas

I like Christmas. Really quite a lot. To the point where I start obsessing about it around mid-October: composing gift lists, looking up recipes, composing seasonal playlists (best Christmas song eva? Easy. Pogues, Fairytale of New York. Epic.), plotting guerrilla decorating raids, wrapping myself in tinsel and hanging baubles off every appendage - that sort of thing. I suppose this obsession must stem from my childhood (and sister badger is similarly mental about the festive season, going into palpitations over the merest whiff of a warm mince pie and starting to sob if she hears the opening chords of The Snowman). I'm not saying we were spoiled, but we did get a lot of presents. And my parents may have spiked the turkey with happy pills. And let us lick the brandy off the pudding instead of lighting it. Who knows? Whatever the reason, December 1st-24th is an EXTREMELY EXCITING TIME FOR ME.

I get so worked up, in fact, that the day itself can hardly hope to live up to all the hype. I mean, how could it? Even if a live reindeer burst out of my Christmas pudding and starting pooing beribboned presents all over the living room, it still couldn't quite justify my months of build up. After all, once you're past the age of twelve, you start to realize it is just another day, albeit one on which you try to eat yourself to death and go bankrupt through excessive present buying simultaneously.

Which is, of course, why I decided to have a baby. Because it's all about the kiddies, right? Seeing their happy little faces as they realize that that Father Christmas dude was totally fooled by their pretending to be good, and brought them all of the noisy stuff they've been demanding for the best part of a year. And they give you a great excuse to go completely over the top and get childishly excited, even when they're only 5 months old and have absolutely no idea what's going on.

And so I declared that we needed to get our tree at the first opportunity, which translated to the first weekend in December. I demanded a real tree, because nothing says Christmas better than a steadily dying fir in the corner of your living room. We went to Blenheim Palace, which is only about 20 minutes away from us, as we'd heard tell that their trees were dipped in Christmas magicness and guaranteed to fill a house with 100% more Christmas cheer or your money back. And, my, we got a beauty. Which I then proceeded to cover with every piece of sparkly tat and tinselly ridiculousness until it's branches were sagging and you could hear the poor thing whimpering for mercy.

"No more. Please no more! Have pity on my firry soul!" (if trees could talk)

And then it was time to introduce Lumpy to the tree, who we had Christened Norman, because he is a Nordman Fir (have you noticed we have a habit of personifying inanimate objects? Isn't it cute? What? No? Oh.)

Now, you must excuse the exceptional crappness of the pictures that follow. I was alone in the house at the time, and had to juggle Lumpy with one arm, while attempting to take pictures with my iPhone. This was not easy, as my child has eight limbs, at least. I was clearly actually impregnated by an octopus and not a badger without noticing. Don't say that hasn't happened to you before.)

First signs were positive. And then... Well, you'll see.

OMFG. A tree. A treeeeeeee!

Bauble!! Baublebaublebauble! Flap flap flap.

Ohhhh, this sparkly stuff look interesting.

Me just have closer looks.

Mmmm, is tasty. Nom nom snarf snarf urrp.

At which point I dropped the phone and ripped the tinsel from his snapping chops. And thus Lumpy narrowly avoided getting tinsellitis.*

(*This last joke was shamelessly stolen from my friend May. Who is a comedy genius.)

Monday, 6 December 2010

Spa-ing partners

This weekend I got to go on a spa day. A whole day. In a spa. Without Lumpy.

It was rather nice. And rather weird, at the same time.

As you know, we're already pretty keen on baby abandonment. But thus far, this has been a evening affair - the cinema or dinner, a couple of hours at most. (Actually, I lie - I ran off for most of a day when he was only a month old to try on wedding dresses and drink champagne. But, hey, the hormones are crazy at that time. I wasn't responsible for my actions.) Anyway, for the sake of narrative consistency, let's just say that this was the first time me and my firstborn had been separated for a whole day. But man I needed a massage. Because the last time I was booked in for a massage was the 29th June, and we all know who decided to go and get born that day. Selfish little ratbag.

We were due to hit the spa on Saturday. Of course, on Friday evening it started snowing. Quite heavily and determinedly. The world was against me. I was doomed to never, ever get a massage again in my life. And I like being oiled and rubbed all over by a stranger. It's one of my favourite things (try and guess the others. Go on. Try. Yes, that's right! Have you been reading my diary?)

I wept and wailed and tried to book a snowplough. Then I went to bed, resigned to my fate.

And in the morning there was rain. Glorious, massage-giving rain. So I threw Lumpy into Mr Badger's arms, grabbed my getaway driver (Grandma Badger) and hotfooted it to the spa, where I proceeded to swim lengths underwater and roast myself in the sauna (making the facial-doing lady exclaim, 'well, you're a rather high colour, aren't you?' before patting me on the arm and advising me to 'relax and drink lots of water' in a concerned way. She probably thought I was an alcoholic. Oh, to be an alcoholic!). I got my massage, which was so lovely I almost cried when it ended. Lunch was an eat-as-much-as-you-can buffet (they're definitely called that, not eat-as-much-as-you-like. The competitive element is essential). And I ate as much as I could. Oh yes. Including a plate of desserts with chocolate fudge cake, strange whipped creamy stuff, fruit salad, chocolate sprinkles, meringue and fruit compote all mingled together. Now that's detoxing for you.

After lunch we luckily had nothing more taxing than a manicure and pedicure to go through. On the very rare occasions I get either of these procedures I am usually very boring, especially in the hand department. In fact, I don't think I've ever had anything other than a french manicure, which is basically cheating as it just looks like you have nice nails, rather than vampish sexiiiiiie nail varnish. So, in my temporary madness, I decided to go for bright red talons (or finger stubs, rather, as I am an incurable nail nibbler). And with that fateful decision I was reborn as a Jessica Rabbit-esque vixen. I will never step out of the house again without blazing red fingertips, a strapless sparking evening gown, full slap, and a bouffant red wig.

Eat my glamour! Rwooooooaaarrrrrrrr! And they match the couch! What more could a girl want?

Lumpy is, of course fairly petrified of this new version of his mother, but hey. He'll get used to it.

The best fun of the day, of course, was boob related (isn't it always?) Mr Badger had been left with a vat of expressed milk to sate the Lumpy-beast's insatiable appetite, but unfortunately no one told my boobs that they had the day off. I trotted off to the changing rooms when an embarrassing eruption was imminent, and was relieved to find them empty. I hid in a cubicle and strapped on the old pump. As soon as I had fired it up, a hen party descended to change into their robes and slippers. At first they were screeching so much that the 'whoooommppfff, whoooommppfff' of the pump was not really audible. But then they started to notice.

'What is that?' one said. 'Can you hear it?'

I filled one bottle, and switched off to change to a new one.

'Oh, it's gone.'

Whooommppfff, whooommmpppff...

'I think it's coming from in there...'

'Could be the air conditioning.'

'Do you think it's some sort of life-support machine? Dialysis or something.'

'It's definitely coming from in there. Do you think someone's in there? D'you reckon they're alright? Hello? Are you okay? Hello?'

'Maybe we should break the door down...'

I had hoped to lurk in the changing room till they'd gone, but at this threat of force I decided to stop pumping and make my grand entrance. With as much dignity as I could muster I slid back the bolt and emerged brandishing my bottles of farm fresh boob juice.

The hen party stared, slack jawed. I pushed my way through them, head held high, stifling the urge to moo.

There's no such thing as embarrassment when you have bright red nails, you see.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

In praise of white van men

On my many rambles with Lumpy (which have been made far more eventful by the current Arctic temperatures and chilly white stuff that keeps falling from the sky, helping to add a sense of thrill and excitement to the experience. Will Mrs Badger slip on some ice, land on her arse, and let the pram roll into the path of an oncoming juggernaut? Stay tuned to find out!) I have noticed a strange phenomenon. There is one type of driver who never fails to stop and let me cross when I'm waiting at the side of the road. And, unlikely as it may sound, that kind, gentle, thoughtful breed is the White Van Man.

The White Van Man is a much maligned species, and usually I am one of the first to malign them. Pre-baby, they seemed to do their utmost to mow me down whenever I dared step off the pavement, being too busy stuffing their faces with cheesy Quavers, reading The Sun, scratching their arses, and ranting about immigrants to look at the road. But now I have a pram I am suddenly a queen to them. If I dare to even pause briefly at the kerbside, they screech to a halt, waving me and Lumpy across with a subservient bow. No other drivers do this. Ordinary cars, zoom past, braking only to wind down their windows and spit at us. But the White Van Men cannot pass a woman with a pram without forcing them to cross the road in front of them.

I have pondered long and hard about why this may be. Is it because my post-baby body is suddenly irresistible to these hot-blooded males? Perhaps the van-dwellers have a strange fetish for gargantuan thighs (I'm storing my milk fat there, all right?). Or it could be that my generally unwashed state has lead to the release of powerful pheromones that can penetrate white van windscreens, paralysing the poor dears with paroxysms of lust. Or maybe (and, not to do my gorgeousness down, but I think this may be the more likely reason) these men, despite their general air of loutishness and excessive testosterone, are smuggling sentimental little hearts underneath their stained t-shirts and sweaty overalls. Struggle though they might, they just cannot resist the sight of an ickle babba. Bless.

Strangely, when I have Lumpy in the sling, they never stop, no matter how pathetic I look as I wait at the side of the road, being splashed with filthy puddles and breathing in noxious fumes, or how cute Lumpy is, with his woolly hat and red little nose. Perhaps they think I'm a mutant freak with two heads, one astonishingly giant, one bizarrely small (Lumpy's being the big one, naturally), and cannot wait to get the hideous vision out of their eyeline, slamming their foot on the accelerator in horror. Or maybe they just reckon I'm a middle class tit with dangerous hippy leanings.

It's the latter, isn't it?

Exhibit A: irresistible to White Van Men, awwwww coochie coochie coo.

Exhibit B: die on the pavement you pinko leftie two-headed freaks.

Friday, 26 November 2010

More conversations from the Badger Sett

Guest post by MrLumpyBadger

SCENE: Mr & Mrs Badger watching "Russel Howard's Good News" on BBC3. A very heartwarming 3 minute short is shown concerning "Dogs for the Disabled" featuring a very cute golden retriever, and a ... well, a Disabled.

Disabled Girl (on tv): ... He's my best friend ... I love him ...

Mr Badger: Of course you realise he'll be dead within 12 years.

Mrs Badger: NOOOOOOO! That's AWFUL! You can't say that!


Although ... she'll probably be dead by then too.

Oh why does this woman abuse me so?

So I iz sitting in me buckets, tryings to relaz after a hard dayz droolings, as is any gentleman's right. I hads a couple of complaints. First offs, water iz not deep enough. I likes to drinks my baths, and recentlies, no matterz how fars I put my feets up, still cannot get mouthes under waterz. Alsos, massage I ordered not been delivered. But stills, was trying my best to relaz, despites these irritations.

And then this womans come along (she sez she iz my mothers. I haz som doubts). And she putz this on Lumpies headz. And larfs. And larfs.

Then she gets photo-making-box, to record Lumpies shame and publish to the worldz. No picturz, I sez. Leave me in peas! I deservz privitsy. But she ignorz.

I makes stupid things fall off.

She putz back on.

She iz idiot, I thinkz.

I iz movings out. Soon as I escapes buckets.

Monday, 22 November 2010


Lumpy has been teething for, oh... 15 or 16 years now. The first decade or so wasn't too bad - lots of drooling, a bit of finger chewing, nothing we couldn't handle. Then it started to progress. The whole fist was in the mouth, and then both fists (a trick he learnt from his mother, who had a cabaret act entirely based around this skill in the 1930s), till we began to fear our son would be left with nothing but gnawed-off stumps on the end of his arms. This was accompanied by a veritable deluge of saliva, which could soak though an outfit (and any surrounding furniture or unfortunate bystanders) in about 42 seconds.

Witness my drool and quake, feeble earthlings!

Mmmmmm, tasty fist. Ang ang annnnnng.

And then it actually started bothering him. This generally manifested itself as a steady, low gaaaaaaaaaaaahhhuuuuuugggghhhooohhhhhhhhwaaaaaaaaaagffffff sort of a noise (through the filter of two fists, of course). It wasn't crying exactly, just the registering of a constant grumbling complaint, as if steadily penning shirty letters to the Daily Mail about these immigrant teeth and how they keep coming over here and invading our Great British gums. We bought him every type of teething toy and implement known to man, from Sophie the poncy French giraffe (apparently 9 out of 10 French babies are given one of these. The tenth one gets a wildebeast moulded out of Camembert, the poor little fucker) to a moose with mouthable antlers and various plastic aquatic creatures you can put in the freezer. None elicited much excitment on the part of Lumpy, or seemed to provide much relief. Nope, the double fister was the only thing fit for the job (and yes, I intended that to sound as rude as it did).

And so, as in many situations in the past, we turned to drugs. We took to slathering his chops with liberal amounts of teething gel, which seemed to shut him up for a few minutes at least. Whether this was due to the analgesic relief, or just because it was something that tasted a bit more interesting than bloody breast milk, who can tell. Unfortunately, we now seem to have created a little addict, as every time I let the Calgel tube pass in front of Lumpy's eyes, he starts to flail and grab for it, in desperate, crazed withdrawal. Which is exactly what we dreamed of for our darling son.

And, as I cave in to my (almost) five-month-old junky, and rub the sweet opiate around his mouth, what do I feel poking through those tender gums? Absolutely nothing. After centuries (at least) of grizzling, and drooling, and fist-munching, and a bit more drooling, and then some additional grizzling, there are no teeth in evidence whatsoever. Either they will all just pop out at once overnight, and I will wake to a be-fanged monstrosity in the cot, ready to munch my nipples into bloodied scabs (when Lumpy was about 10 days old I actually dreamt this happened, so am particularly phobic of this occurrence), or it's all a big con, and he will remain a gummy droolbag into his mid-forties.

Better buy some shares in Calgel, either way.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

A spiffing weekend in the country

Last weekend we took a big risk. We tried to recreate our wild, crazy, decadent life BL (Before Lumpy: a time now heavy with myth, rumour, and downright lies), by embarking on a country-house weekend with a gang of merry, young, and (most essentially) unchild-encumbered friends. This is something we did a lot BL - renting a place somewhere as near to the sea as possible, filling it to the eaves with wine and delicious foodstuffs, and proceeding to laze about and talk bollocks from Friday to Sunday, with occasional forays to the pub or into the sea.

From the moment I got that positive test, I'd wondered whether we'd ever get to do this again. In fact, just a couple of weeks after getting up the duff, we went on one of these weekends down to Devon, and it had been a rather difficult few days. We hadn't announced my delicate condition yet, and in order to avoid being instantly found out I had to pretend to quaff vast amounts of alcohol all weekend. For, in my former life, I was such a commited lush that if anyone saw me drinking anything less than 40% proof, they'd immediately smell a rat. And a very pregnant rat at that (which are particularly stinky, let me tell you). We considered going down the 'I'm on antibiotics' route, but there are several doctors in the group, who would undoubtedly have insisted on a full description of my symptoms, the drugs prescribed, and possibly an in-depth physical examination. And so we did an emergency supermarket run, and bought up all of the non-alcoholic wine and beer that we could find. Supermarkets sell alcohol-free alcohol! Who'd have imagined it? And, more to the point, who'd want to drink the bloody stuff?

Because, believe me, it is truly, utterly, foul. It is just wrong in so, so many ways. The red wine, for example, tastes like mouldy ribena, and doesn't even manage to look like wine, instead resembling aenemic gnat's blood. This makes it rather difficult to pass off as real wine, and since the beer is helpfully labeled "ALCOHOL FREE - NO FUN HERE GUARANTEED!" in large flashing letters, I was pretty much stuck with the white 'wine'. Which is a cheeky little number with overtones of urinal and a punchy finish reminiscent of having a live herring forced down your throat.

But all of the wine's failings in terms of taste, smell, and appearance pale into insignificance when you consider its one major flaw.

There's no bloody alcohol in it.

So there was I, trying not to grimace as I sipped at this rancid (pregnant) rat's piss, valiantly pretending that it was actually a crisp young Sauvignon or a tantalizing white Burgundy, while attempting not to vomit everywhere. And however much of the godforsaken stuff I poured down my neck, I did not get even slightly pissed.

What fun that weekend was.

So, as Lumpy's internal invasion progressed, I started to wonder whether we would ever get to enjoy one of these debauched weekends ever again. Who knew what this little wriggly alien would be like, once he'd burst out through my stomach (that's what happens, right? My memory's a bit blurry on the physical dynamics of the whole thing). What if he was one of those non-stop screamy babies? Or what if I went properly barmy afterwards, and couldn't be allowed out in public? What if we became total baby bores, incapable of discussing anything except poo, vomit, lady bits, and placenta lasagne?

All this has happened, of course (except for the screamy baby bit - the Lumpster has remained almost preternaturally cheerful, despite his parents, who are, like, soooo embarrassing).

But then a friend who had been off shooting lions in Africa (or possibly saving babies, one or the other) was due to return, and much feasting and debauchery was required to celebrate her survival. I cunningly jumped in and offered to find a house and arrange the booking, so that people wouldn't be able to arrange something without inviting us. I had a quick search of the interwebs, and almost immediately came across this place. It looked perfect - and was in the absolute middle of nowhere, so no one would be able to escape.

Surprisingly, everyone seemed quite keen to come along with us (ha ha, the fools!), so I booked it up, and sat back to wait for the previously placid Lumpy to transform himself into a snarling, wailing hellbeast, just in time for the weekend away.

And so the weekend arrived. We drove down early on the Friday, following the extraordinary directions with increasing disbelief and mild concern. We drove down a no through road, marked 'Works Traffic Only', and then arrived at a barrier. After some mild arguing between the Badgers, I jumped out and pressed the button. A phone inside the booth began to ring. I looked back at the car, then slid the glass aside and picked up the receiver.

"Yes?" came a disembodied voice.

"Er, we're going to Ower Quay Cottage," I said, glancing nervously at the security cameras, half expecting a platoon of armed guards to come swarming from the surrounding woods and shoot us to death for no good reason.

"OK," said the voice. "Do you know the way?"

"Yes!" I confidently declared, because I am stupid.

We didn't know they way, of course. And proceeded to demonstrate this fact by driving through the barrier, ignoring the turn that we were meant to take, and heading straight into a large car park filled with men in yellow jackets who examined us quizzically. We made a circuit of the car park in a calm, surveying manner, before finally heading down the road we were meant to take. We had to wait at another barrier, which magically opened automatically - no doubt because the disembodied voice was sitting in a watchtower somewhere pointing and laughing at us.

We continued down a long and winding road through a forest, occasionally passing strange industrial apparatus behind high, barbed-wire fences. It started to rain, and I merrily informed Mr Badger that the road we were on would soon become an unmade track. Which it certainly did.

"Well, it'd be a good place for a murder," said Mr Badger cheerfully, as the track suddenly took an eccentric route directly across a field. We had to swerve wildly to avoid potholes and rabbits, and rabbits stuck in potholes, and potholes stuck in rabbits (honestly). I had to get out of the car again, to open a gate, of all things, and then, as the rain became a constant sheet of water, we bumped our way along a final track and up to the house.

We sat in the car for a minute, gazing through the steamed up windscreen at the blurry building ahead of us.

"I think we've come on holiday by mistake," I said, before sending Mr Badger out into the rain to unload the car, while me and Lumpy stayed inside, in the dry, like sensible people.

He eventually returned with an umbrella, and we were persuaded out. And, my god, I fell in love with the place pretty much immediately. And with views like this literally right outside the front door, who can blame me:

This was after the sheeting rain cleared up, but still. Even through that, it was pretty bloody awesome. And it had its own peacock. How cool is that? From now on, I shall demand hot and cold running peacocks wherever I go.

I spent the next couple of hours merrily skipping around the different wings, showing Lumpy around our new house, while Mr Badger looked worried in the background, wondering if he'd need to call in the police to evict us on Monday morning.

By the time the others finally found their way through the wasteland, past the middle of nowhere, and back out the other side, it was pitch black outside, and little Lumpy was already tucked up and snoring in bed. Which was obviously an ideal introduction to the wonders of babies for our child-phobic friends. Much merriment and feasting commenced. The next morning, Lumpy was up bright and early to charm all comers with his bingo smiles and copious amounts of drool.

And so the charm offensive continued. There was barely a squawk of protest all weekend - from Lumpy or anyone else. At naptimes he went immediately to sleep without a murmur, and stayed asleep for a good two hours at a time. He even managed not to puke up over anybody for almost 48 hours. And so the weekend carried on much as such weekends always have - there were long yomps in the countryside, which turned into even longer yomps due to a complete lack of any sense of direction in any of the walkers; creative dinners, involving many roasted beasts, cheeses of various types, and unidentifiable root vegetables; a mere hogshead or two (per person) of booze, supplied by our resident alcy... I mean sommelier to the stars and purveyor of fine wines (JockWino! hunt him down on Twitter and relentlessly follow him!); copious talking of bollocks; and ill-advised swims in the icy, murky waters by the more certifiable of the party (some of whom decided to stay fully dressed, which was probably wise, if somewhat foolish looking).

And through it all, Lumpy was a delight, laughing uproariously at even the lamest of jokes and never hogging the port. He was not the burden we had feared, but a veritable boon. The perfect houseguest, in fact.

By Sunday afternoon, as everybody got ready to head back to the big smoke, even the most loudly anti-baby amongst the group had declared that Lumpy was actually quite cute and they may consider cancelling their sterilisations at some point in the future.

All this has led me to believe that Lumpy is a total show off. Because the minute everyone else had left, and we were alone in the house, he showed his dissatisfaction with the lack of an adoring audience by immediately vomming all over me. Then that night he squawked and squealed and generally grizzled all night long, driving his sleep-deprived and ever-so-slightly hungover parents to near distraction.

So we're moving into Ower Quay permanently, kidnapping all our friends, and forcing them to live with us. It's the only solution, really. And the peacock needs us.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Boom boom boom boom boom boom boom

We took Lumpy to a firework display, because babies love loud bangs and noisy, thronging crowds better than anything. And if he's going to achieve his ambition of becoming a mad scientist, he's going to have to get used to explosions and lots of screaming. Start 'em early, is what I say.

For this adventure we dressed him as a badger. Of course we did. All the better to increase the trauma and embarrassment of the entire experience:

It may not actually be a badger costume, I admit. It could be a zebra. Or a humbug. With eyes. But let's just say it's a badger, okay? He's the spawn of badgers, and is thus a badger. And doesn't he look pleased about it.

**Pause while Lumpy attempts to wrestle control of the keyboard...

halp!!11!! saaaave me frm thes peple,plllzzzzz... they is crayzees,,.

Sorry about that. Got him chained to the radiator again now. On we go.**

So we trussed little Lumpy up in his badger suit, slung him in his sling, and took him to a muddy field where people were setting things on fire. We ate some hog in a bun, with lashings of crackling (mmmm, delicious crispy pig skin. Can't beat it.) Mr Badger viciously refused to enter Lumpy in the children's fancy dress competition, despite the fact that he would clearly have won. C'mon! It's a baby! Dressed as a zebra badger! What says Halloween better than that? He'd have crapped all over those witches and pumpkins (probably literally).

But no. Mr Badger was more interested in the Beer Tent. Make of that what you will. I'm saying nothing.

And then Mrs Badger spotted the tombola.

Mrs Badger has a bit of history with tombolas. As a child, she was eerily lucky at these thrilling games of chance, with the winning tickets somehow magnetically attracted to her sticky little hands. Tombola organizers would quake at her approach, knowing that she would clear their supply of prizes in one fair swoop, emerging from every roll of the barrel with her arms full of chocolates, perfume, bottles of spirits, and other items entirely suitable for seven-year-old girls.

Mrs Badger may not have played a tombola for several years, but she was sure the luck was still with her. Surely such a gift never departs its possessor. She strode straight up to the stall and laid two pounds upon the table, then picked her six tickets from the barrel.

And, lo! The very first one she opened was a winner. Ha! She looked with pity at the stall holders, and cast her eyes over the selection of prizes. Which would be hers? That fine bottle of malt whiskey, perhaps? The radio-controlled blimp? The diamond necklace? Probably the lot of them! Ah ha ha haaaaaa.

She unfolded the next ticket. Not a winner. Oh well. Then the next, and the next, and the next. No more winners. But never mind. That first one would surely be something truly magnificent. The tombola-winning magic was still with her.

The stall holder took the ticket and went to find the prize. And returned with this:

In case you're not familiar with pointless tat, this is a pair of rose-scented coathangers. Because normal hangers are just not smelly, padded, or floral enough.

Mrs Badger's delight at this wondrous prize is clearly evident in the photo below. Along with Mr Badger's raging alcoholism, and Lumpy's general disapproval of the whole business:

And then there were some fireworks, apparently. But we were too busy exclaiming over the coathangers to notice them.

Speaking of tat, is this not the most disturbing thing you have ever witnessed in your life? It will haunt my dreams forever. Why?? Why, I ask you?

Friday, 5 November 2010

Smear campaign

Somehow I managed to get through the whole process of pregnancy and childbirth without ever having anyone poke around in, or even have much of a look at, my lady bits. As my epic, moo-intensive birth story explains, by the time we got to the hospital things were at such an advanced state that the midwife merely flashed her eyes at my undercarriage before running for her catcher's mitt.

I was pretty pleased with this situation, not being a fan of having strangers (or even fairly close acquaintances, to be honest) rummaging around my nether regions. But a few weeks ago I got a letter from the doctor, telling me that it was time for a smear. Well, hurrah, I thought. I've dropped a baby out of there. How bad can a little speculum be?

So off I skipped to the doctors, ready for a good scraping. My doctor (the same one I scared with my jazzy nappy liners) is rather headmistressish, and frankly quite petrifying. Just the sort of person you want coming at you with various proddy and scrapy things while you're naked from the waist down (and while we're on the subject, why does being naked from the waist down feel so much more naked than actually being completely naked? This surely defies the laws of physics in some way. I must consult Stephen Hawking about this at the first opportunity).

After bumbling about doing something lengthy and incomprehensible on the other side of the curtain while I was lying in my hyper-naked state, the headmistress-doctor finally graced me with her presence, and lost no time cranking my bits open and having a good poke about.

"Hmm," she said after some protracted jabbing. "I can't find your cervix."

"Maybe it's fallen out!" I chirruped, because I like making jokes while people are in between my legs. And, you know, it might have fallen out. Nobody had looked, after all. It could have slipped out when Lumpy bungeed out of there. A lot of stuff did seem fall out around that time, as far as I remember.

The doctor ignored me, and proceeded to insert her entire hand and most of her forearm up my vee-jay-jay.

"There it is!" she proudly declared, after a few minutes tickling my tonsils. And then celebrated her discovery by giving it a good scraping with a sharp and scrapy thing.

"Well, no wonder it was hiding," I would have said, if I hadn't been going "eeeeeeeeeeyyyyyyaaaaa!!! Stopscrapingmycervixwiththatscrapything pleeeeeeeeeeasssssssse!!"

And I only get to do this every three years. Life is just so unfair.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

What Little Girls Really Want

guest post by Mr Badger

In my years of solitude before "getting together* with" Mrs Badger, I was asked to be a Godparent to the newborn child of a good friend from college, who I shall call Dr Plant.

"For goodness sake why me?" I cried in genuine horror that I should be trusted with assisting the emotional well being of a tiny little boy. (Oh how we laugh at that level of commitment now!)

"Because you're single and therefore have disposable income that you can spend on him." came the sensible reply.

So fast-forward 10 years and I, Mrs Badger, and the eponymous Lumpy are round at Dr Plant's house with their 3 children, the eldest of which was having his 12th birthday. He is an earnest little soul, very academic and concerned about wildlife, science and the correct ordering of coloured pencils and legos. His current 'thing' is art, so he was naturally receiving lots of arty stuff like a watercolour set, an easel, paintbrushes etc. His 7 year old little sister, was squirming with unconcealed jealousy at him getting presents, but not at the content of the presents. The conversation with Dr Plant went something like this:

Daisy: "Why is he getting all this arty stuff?"

Dr Plant: "Because he likes art"

Daisy: "But he might not want everything to be arty"

Dr Plant: "What else would he like then?"

Daisy: "He might want a GUN"

* In this case "Getting Together With" means: "Becoming intimately acquainted with the jar of dead wasps that she kept in her so-called-room in the attic". I'm not even joking.

PPS - By the way, the picture is Mrs Badger showing Granddad Badger how to handle a firearm. Shoot that fish! That one, there. BANG!

Tuesday, 2 November 2010


Stumbling downstairs in my 'day pyjamas' (yes, I get up and put on fresh pyjamas. I'm not a total slob, you know), wrangling Lumpy, who was attempting to fling himself out of my arms in a kamikazee dive for the floor, I clumped over to the French doors and dragged the curtains open, to let in the glory of the grey, dismal day, in all its grey dismality.

And then I trod right in a pile of cat sick. It took me a moment to realize that it was cat sick, as I stood there with it oozing between my toes (I was in bare feet, naturally. Of course I was.). Hmmm, I thought. That feels squishy. And a bit lumpy. But it isn't Lumpy. He's still in my arms (just). I wiggled my foot around to get a better sense of what it was in, and then I looked down. Yes, there it was. Barely digested cat biscuits. Now stuck between my toes and ground nicely into the carpet.

Well, it makes a change from baby sick, I suppose.

Thursday, 28 October 2010


Some time ago, I told you about the extreme jealousy between our furry, cat-shaped babies, and Lumpy, the - erm - bald and baby-shaped baby. So extreme was this jealousy, that it led to an outbreak of violence and terror previously undreamed of in the Badger household. We are all still quaking from the results, and cannot bear to discuss them, with Mr Badger developing a violent twitch if he even hears the word 'Mog'.

But little did Lumpy suspect that he had another rival for the status of beloved baby of the Badger dynasty. This one was also quite furry, in a hairy sort of way, and, rather disturbingly, weighed as much as 500 cats (or around 4 Mogs).

What sort of freakish beast is this? Thought Lumpy, scratching his chin quizzically. I must find more out about this creature that considers itself the rightful baby of the family. And possibly eat it (we fear he may have been plotting with Mog on this front. The consequences of such an alliance are so horrifying as to be unthinkable, so we won't think about them).

Lumpy began to research the hairy giant baby beast. He discovered that its name was 'Maddie', presumably in reference to its psychotic tendencies. It had, apparently, made repeated attempts on Mrs Badger's sister's life (and yet it was she who loved it best, and spent hours tending to it). This was all very mysterious. Lumpy decided that the time had come to meet this strange rival.

So one day Lumpy went down to the place they called 'The Yard'. And there, he caught his first glance of Maddie.

It was a bit of a shock, to say the least.

Seriously, what the hell is that?

Summoning all of his courage, Lumpy turned to face his adversary, reached out a hand, and poked it up the nose.

Surprisingly, Maddie did not attempt to kill him, or even munch his arm off. Instead, she leaned in close and huffed gently in his ear.

"We should work together, small baldy person," breathed Maddie, too quiet for Mrs Badger to hear (mind you, she is slightly deaf in one ear, after that nasty incident with the snail and the cricket stumps). "Stick with me, and we could rule this family. And..." Lumpy leaned closer, straining to hear. "I can show you how to poo all over the floor."

Lumpy liked the sound of that.

But he decided to have a taste, anyway. Just in case.

Mmmm, delicious. I'll have mine fried.

Monday, 25 October 2010

The Resurrection of Terrence

Terrence lives!

After his deeply traumatic deflating incident, Terrence had taken to huddling behind a chair, so floppy with shame that he could barely stand to be seen. He was floating barely an inch above the ground and was often mistaken for a crisp packet (albeit a rather large and vicious one). The Badger family started to fear that the end was near, and soon all they'd be able to do for Terrence was fold him up and give him a dignified burial in the bin.

But then, as Terrence was fading fast, and all hope seemed to be lost, a donor was found. The emergency tank of donated helium was rushed to the Badger Sett, and Terrence's weak and emaciated form was tugged from his hiding place and laid upon the operating table (aka the floor). So feeble was he, that it only took two nurses to hold him down while the operation was performed.

In the absence of any skilled Tyrannosaurus balloon surgeons, Mr Badger was forced to perform the complicated and dangerous operation himself. With a shaking hand, he picked apart Terrence's inflation pipe (which looks a bit like a willy, now I come to think of it. But let's not add dinosaur porn to our long and shameful list of places this blog has gone that it really, really shouldn't have), and inserted the inflation nozzle. Soon, the life-giving helium was rushing in, and Terrence's eyes flickered open as he began to swell (stop sniggering at the back, there's a life-threatening operation going on here). Before long, he was starting to rise from the operating table, wrestling against his restraining nurses.

Mr Badger struggled to reseal Terrence's inflation pipe, to keep the essential helium inside, and to avoid a terrible squeaky-voice inducing leakage. In the panic that followed, Terrence broke free, and bit the head clean off one of the nurses.

Almost immediately the cheering erupted. Terrence was back!

Mrs Badger went and put her best hat on in celebration. Yes, the first best hat. That's how excited she was.

And no, that's not Mrs Badger. Don't be insolent. It's Terrence, shortly after decapitating a nurse with his bare teeth. RWWWAAAAARRRR.

Lumpy examining Terrence's inflation pipe. Rude!

And, lo, the Tyrannosaurus Rex shall bob above the baby. And there will be feasting and much celebration. (Dinosaurs, XI, 534)