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.