Thursday 18 November 2010


Right. Here is where I list further progress in novel writing via tv programmes I have watched. I have not watched a further episode of Mariella (don't worry they are all recorded on the oojamaflip and I will get to them soon). But I did just watch JK Rowling on Oprah. Inspired? You bloody betcha. She said that being at rock bottom provided her with a solid foundation. I am lucky enough to have been - or at least felt - at rock bottom in my life. It was long enough ago for me to honestly state that I have totally surmounted it and few enough years ago to be able to remember it well, if I try hard enough. So I'm already at an advantage, right? I have also purchased a much-needed laptop. This will enable me to work in front of the television whilst imbibing further inspirational ideas. See? More progress.

What else? Well. I had intended when I started this blogette, to explain my bag theory. It has helped many people whom I have explained it to, freeing them up to look at the big picture, so much so that they soon started to quote my bags back at me. Sadly, I have forgotten what's in my own bags. I need to work hard to maintain my title of Bag Lady of Bushey. Once I have sorted them out I will post on here and you too can benefit from lightening the load of your own bag by returning superflous property to its rightful owners.

Thursday 4 November 2010

Mummy on the Edge Families NW Mag Nov/ Dec 2010

How Mini-Me gets her toot after Angelina’s fluteless mission.

Gosh, it’s been a while since we’ve met. What’s happened since then? Me? Well, the little person my life revolves around aka Mini-Me has started Year 4, acquired a stepmother (I know! - But no good can come from writing about that…) and has nearly finished reading Harry Potter 6 - The Sickly Mallows; He casts a spell to force the Deatheaters to eat 127 packets of Tunnocks Teacakes each and they all throw up and die at the end – okay he probably doesn’t, but whatever. I’m not sure it’s suitable for her but she insists it’s fine and isn’t giving her nightmares and she has read and watched numbers 1 -5 innumerable times, so I’m going to save a neurosis for something more worthy.

She has also somehow coerced me into allowing her to take up the flute at school. In the mistaken assumption that instructions would be issued as to what to get and where from, I didn’t realise that I was supposed to find a flute from somewhere before she started lessons until it was toot late (Ha! Geddit?) So, I sent her to her first flute lesson sans flute. But I promised her that I would work on getting one toot suite (Ha! Never mind…) Having borrowed the teachers flute for the lesson, Mini-Me came back with absolutely no knowledge of what I was supposed to provide. However, I had done a bit of research that day so I knew what to ask.

“Do you need a straight flute or a curved flute, hmm?”

“Um... I don’t know mummy.”

I went on recommendation and discovered it was possible to rent a flute for Mini-Me from Prozone Music, based in a little kiosk inside Clarendon Muse at Watford Grammar Boys School. I promised her I would try to get one before her next lesson, with the absolute intention of doing so (but with also the absolute anticipation of my probable failure).

The evening before her second lesson, I drove to Prozone to collect the instrument I had arranged to hire at a cost of £60 for 3 months. I was instructed to bring proof of address and two forms of identification and my credit card. Hmm, I wondered, am I hiring a flute or a Kalashnikov? I got there to find that the instrument had not arrived yet. I was forced to while away an hour and a half in TK Maxx down the road and this increased the hire price to £100 by way of a powder blue cashmere cardigan at £39.99.

Meanwhile, I pondered my friend’s email containing a link to a website that offered a curved flute (for her little arms) to buy for £99. But I needed this instrument by tomorrow’s second lesson, or I would acquire a reputation! (Of what? Don’t ask.) When I went back to complete the deal I was confronted with a wadge of paperwork with caveats about Insurance and Responsibility (read Disaster, Blame and More Money). I was unable to process this probably straightforward and sensible documentation due to the swift and final activation of my anxiety reflex (doesn’t take much, really) and I caved and went home without the instrument. Yes, I felt very guilty when I arrived home from this fluteless mission. I put my hands on Mini-Me’s shoulders and explained thus: “I regret I was unable to procure you a flute in time for tomorrow’s lesson. However, I will try again and I’m almost sure you will have one by your third lesson” This elicited a look of slight disappointment but mostly pity. The look said: “My poor, pathetic, neurotic mother. How I love her.”

Anyway, the long and the short and the curve of it, is that I ended up ordering the toot from Student Music Supplies. They made a note of my precise delivery instructions (If I’m not at home, please deliver to any random flippin’ house on my street except for my immediate next door neighbour because I’d rather use Encona as eye drops than knock on her door) and it arrived just in time, the day before her third flute lesson.

Of course, the next morning I forgot to give it to her, so after I returned at lunch time from teaching my Sing and Sign class in Stanmore, it was with slow motion horror that I realised that my poor child may have had her third fluteless lesson. I ran up to the school desperately clutching the black case, begging the universe for a break. “I forgot to give this to her! Am I too late for her lesson?” I panted at the school secretary. “No”, she said, “it’s at toot-thirty!”

Info box
I ordered Mini-Me’s flute from SMS, They were really helpful over the phone and delivery was super-speedy: 01256 350 282

Prozone Music have a little kiosk at Clarendon Muse, at Watford Boys School. It’s advisable to phone the main shop in Chesham first. They were also very helpful and knowledgable: 01494 776 262.

Tuesday 2 November 2010

I have begun to fail by failing to begin.

So I started this thing how many weeks ago? And I've posted how many entries? Exactly. But well, y'know, I've sorta been writing them in my head. I write a lot that way. Especially in the shower. Or when I'm cooking. Someone needs to invent a showerproof and greaseproof laptop. I don't know why I am unable to write. Yesterday - or the day before, I wrote a very long and rambling email to my clients re the work I do for them. It was silly and probably defeated it's purpose being as it was to get people to decide what merchandise to purchase and to re-book my classes for January and being that they had to scroll down acres of my mindless regurgitation before getting to the salient points. But some of them liked it. Should I post it??

You see, now I'm writing this, with precisely no one in mind to read it. Maybe that's what I need to do. Maybe just write for myself as if no one's going to read it. Maybe that will allow me the freedom I need. But as I write this, I am experiencing self-loathing, disgust at the ugly vanity displayed by my ego at even considering that anyone would want to read anything I have to say. Especially as, right now, it appears I have nothing to say.  

I can see that I'm going to drive myself mad in this vein fairly regularly. I need to keep at this though. I actually thought of a plot yesterday (of the novel variety). I talked it over briefly with MF (for whom I need to think of another pseudonym because MF sounds like something very very rude which did not occur to me when I first came up with it but which made me cry with laughter after he pointed it out to me).

Anyway, actually I'm not reporting all progress. I am upstairs now having kissed Mini-Me (8) goodnight after watching half an hour of Mariella Frostrup on Sky Arts' The Book Show. I have to watch that programme regularly. Maybe it will be the catalyst (read rocket up arse) that I need to start writing my oevre. Also, Mariella Frostrup is so clever and attractive, with her nail file voice, and silky tan blouse, her golden light shines over drab plebs in the audience at whichever literary festival she's at. She interviews Salman, taking care to stress the correct syllable of his name and playfully chides gap toothed whassername who writes all the horsey romps about having a romantic lead who is nearing 70 and should be looking after her grandchildren. See, I've just seen it and I can't remember whom I'm talking about. Thats the problem. No memory. No tenacity. Just laziness. I mean, who else is going to attempt to pass off watching half a tv programme as progress in novel writing. Especially when attention wanders to what I would look like if I cut my hair in a bob like Mariella. And whether I could get away with wearing a bow fronted blouse like Mariella. Instead of concentrating on useful stuff like what Jilly Cooper (THAT'S IT) has to say about the perfect male romantic character.

Y'know those slot machines where you stick coins in and they fall onto a shelf which moves back and forth against an arm seemingly pushing the coins off the end of the shelf? I am one of those coins. Ostensibly being pushed by external forces and environmental shape changes... gradually... slowly... towards... the... cliff, where it will ultimately have to slip... (not leap bravely) into writerdom. Ostensibly. But not actually. In truth, it is stationary. Pressured, pushed, yet going nowhere.

Thursday 21 October 2010


With motivation from kindly and supportive MF (manfriend), I have now posted my first ever blog. It was easy. I sneakily inserted my last article for Families NW, to see if it would work. And it did. Now all I have to do is be witty and insightful a few times a week and avoid going all introspective and bloody boring and depressing. I also have to strike a balance between being funny and truthful about life etc and not revealing too much which would alienate friends, family and customers - but not MF who has said I may write anything about him and he won't mind. I think he'll just be relieved that I will have somewhere else to post my mad ramblings rather than on blackberry messenger to him.

Hmm. I also have permission from BFUF (Best Friend Uber Fashionista) to write anything I please about her. However, I'm not sure she's thought this one through. Because inevitably people we both know may (note: I'm not flattering myself by saying "will") read this and find out stuff that she may wish she never told me. Anyway. Who says it's all going to be true? Creative license and all...

Tuesday 1 June 2010

Mummy on the edge July/ August 2010

Angelina Melwani and Mini-Me float like butterflies around St Albans.  

10.30am on a Sunday in St Albans. Mini-Me, her schoolmate and the rest of their Karate class had just wowed the gathered parents with their collective ninja prowess at their Karate Grading - which is like an exam type thing where they perform routines in front of several Senseis (or teachers) in order to attain a higher level.

“Can we go now?” I asked Mini-Me when she had done her bit.

“No Mum, I want to watch everyone else and wait for the certificates and see if I got my orange belt!” Not only had I transported her there at an unholy hour on a Sunday morning, I now had to stay for the WHOLE THING just so that she could enjoy the satisfaction of her hard work and achievement.

Two and a half hours later, my eyes were wild with the desperate boredom that can only be brought on by the mandatory tedium of sitting through scores of kids and grownups –none of whom are your kid and none of whom bear even the slightest resemblance to Ralph Macchio - perform their repetitive Karate moves with home-counties-accented exclamations sounding more like polite waiters offering pizza to footballers. “Zidan Margeree?” The compulsion to leave that this instigated was paralleled only by a play I saw recently about a victim of terminal disease in South Africa. I’m sorry, but the only affinity I have with Karate involves deforesting my legs (wax on, wax off).  

Edna’s daddy (my friend’s husband) had brought along his new ipad, loaded with kids games and headphones to amuse their son, and even being allowed to stroking that while marvelling at its biscuit-like tactility didn’t cheer me up. It was only when said ipad started making involuntary noises after the audience had already had a dressing down from Sensei for creaking in their chairs too much, that I started shaking with hysterical laughter and had to go to the car to listen to Classic FM to calm down for a bit. Finally it was over. Mini-Me emerged beaming and victorious clutching her orange belt.

To celebrate (actually, because we were in St Albans anyway) we went to Butterfly World. We drove through the gates down a path flanked by grassy banks covered in  fairytale, meadowy annuals, looking much like a magical carpet of delicious sweeties in every clashing rainbow hue. A life-enriching sight to an adult let alone a dreamy child. Having glanced briefly at the website, we were all set to discover the huge, futuristic-looking Biome (“the largest walk-through butterfly experience in the world, with rope walkways, Maya caves and ruins to explore, streams and tropical rainstorms”) and instead we saw merely the site of the dome; it is - I mean, will be – huge and I can’t wait till it’s ready so we can go back and pretend we’ve gone on an eco holiday to some far-flung rainforest. But there is plenty more to do to while away a good two hours including a walk through a garden of giant flowerpots and gardening tools, that make you feel like an insect.

The current tropical butterfly house was a fraction of the size that the Biome will be but impressive enough. We tiptoed through it inch by inch, wondering at all the pretty petal-like butterflies, huge and small, floating around us. I tried sometimes to keep absolutely still so that one would land on me, and handed Mini-Me the camera so that she could capture the moment. She, however, was a whirlwind of subdued hysteria, which meant that no butterfly would land within a yard of me, let alone on me and if it did, she would have more likely screamed in terror than photographed it.  She yelped and dodged as though avoiding custard pies – nay bullets, and continued in this vein long after we had exited the butterfly house and left them inside. We looked around at the designer gardens and happened upon a wonderful quote that likened butterflies to children’s dreams un-tethered from sleep.

The next day we had to go back to Butterfly World to retrieve my glasses which some kind soul had handed in. This presented the perfect opportunity for me and Mini-Me to brunch at the Waffle House a short drive away, which I had wanted to do on Sunday (but couldn’t due to Karate torture). We shared a waffle breakfast and Mini-Me, though excited about yummy food and enjoying the scenery, set as it is in an old Mill by a river, was slightly disappointed that its cuisine was not based on Birds Eye potato waffles. As waffly versatile as they are, I’m not sure how great they would taste with maple syrup and cinnamon bananas!

This summer, as an example of positive parenting, I will be nurturing and encouraging Mini-Me’s Karate efforts by purchasing a dvd of the Karate Kid off Amazon and then letting her paint our garden fence and polish Chico, our grubby Honda Civic. Long live Mr Miyagi…

Info Box:
Butterfly World,
Miriam Lane
, Off
Noke Lane
, Chiswell Green, St Albans AL2 3NY. Adults £6, Children (3-16) £4, Under 3s FREE. Opening hours until 31st August: 10am – 6 pm.
The Waffle House, Kingsbury Watermill, St Michael’s Street, St Albans, AL3 4SJ. Located within a working 16th century watermill overlooking the River Ver. Specialising in sweet and savoury Belgian waffles. Tel: 01727 853 502. Summer opening hours 10am - 6pm.

Saturday 1 May 2010

Mummy on the Edge FamiliesNW Magazine May June 2010

I have misplaced this article but it can be found at the above link. When I find it I will paste it in.

Monday 1 March 2010

Mummy on the Edge FamiliesNW Mag- March/ April 2010

Mummy on the Edge

Angelina serves Mini-Me up a birthday of four quarters with extra cheese.

And so Mini-Me had a four-day birthday. Ever trying to compensate for what I have now coined OCAF (only-child-absent-father) syndrome, it came to pass that Mini-Me would enjoy four separate days of merriment to celebrate the day she arrived in my life to nourish it with the milk of her existence. I told her that even the Queen doesn’t have a four day birthday. Her actual birthday was a Saturday (Mini-Me, not the Queen) so the festivities commenced on Friday night when 3 teenage cousins (two 17 year old girls and one 13 year old boy) were subjected to a Bratz movie night with Mexican feast cooked by yours truly who was hobbling around the kitchen with one eye shut due to nuclear headache and tax return stress. “Oh Mummy! This is the best birthday ever!” And it hadn’t even begun.

Day 2, Saturday, was a family get together with home made cake with a Snickers model of Mini-Me on top baked by aforementioned 17 year old. Mr De Bellis, her Karate teacher came round personally to drop off her new Karate Suit, so that it would be with us in time for her birthday despite the fact that it was my own fault I’d ordered it late. “Oh Mummy! This really is the best birthday ever!!” So far, so simple.

Day 3, Sunday, I surprised her with a visit to Dinosaurs Unleashed, the new pop-up attraction in Oxford Street situated diagonally opposite Selfridges. Controversially, I will hereby admit that I am decidedly disinterested in dinosaurs and thankfully Mini-Me, while showing interest when prodded, has never been particularly obsessed with them. However, there is something fantastical and exciting (think Godzilla nightmare) about seeing a large dinosaur breathing, roaring, snoring – ostensibly living (subject to a degree of suspended reality) against the mundane and pedestrian backdrop of an office building. What’s nice about Dinosaurs Unleashed is that you can actually get close enough to look at their freakishly real eyelids, touch their skin, and watch the rise and fall of their “breath” which is a totally different experience to watching a show from a stationary seat. One dad even dangled his child’s head Michael Jackson stylee in the rubber jaws of the T-Rex (not recommended – talk about traumatised for life!) Apparently, we saw Diplodocus, Triceratops, Stegosaurus, Velociraptor, T-Rex, but I remember them as the Spice Saurus’: big saurus, horny saurus, spiky saurus, small saurus, scary saurus, and another saurus, and another saurus, and another saurus and another... “Oh Mummy! I’m so happy! Thank you! This is the best birthday ever! You should write about this in Families Magazine!!” And I did.

So, moving on to Day 4 of the epic birthday weekend. Monday, quarter past four. Instant message from Best Friend Fashion Buyer on my new BlackBerry: “Just got promoted!” My reply: “Congrats. I in Watford Pizza Hut on own with 14 midgets. About to top myself.” By now, suffering from serious OCAF Birthday Fatigue I was seriously regretting my promise of a party for her school pals where I would pay £7 a head for the privilege of them making their own dinner. They sat and fought over peppers, olives and onions. I hadn’t had the forethought to ask parents about food no-nos so I nixed the beef and pepperoni thinking it would be safer but forgot to nix the ham so there was a moment of mild panic when I telephoned a parent to ask if it really was okay that her Jewish daughter was building a structurally sound tower of pork on her pizza. Due to aforementioned OCAF BF the thought of buying a cake and having to cut it up into pieces and wrap each individual one and put it in a gift bag was actually making me heave. So I had the genius idea of buying two packets of iced fairy cakes from Tesco Local and piling them up artfully on cake-stand. I dredged a snowy layer of extra icing sugar on top and lodged some candles in here. No cutting or wrapping, I simply chucked one at each kid while they were queuing for the Ice Cream Factory. I managed to survive an hour and a half on my own in a restaurant with 14 adorable bratz whilst resisting the urge to run and lock myself in the toilet until it was all over. And Mini-Me was, of course ecstatic. Because it really was “The very best birthday EVER!!”

Angelina Melwani runs Sing and Sign baby signing classes in Harrow, Bushey, Stanmore and Rickmansworth. More info at

Info box:
Dinosaurs Unleashed, Parklife Oxford Street, 455 – 497 Oxford Street, London W1K 6DE. Nearest tube Marble Arch or Bond Street.
Open from 10am – 6pm until April 30th 2010.
Tickets available at the box office or in advance. Adults £16.50 Children £12 for a 90 – 120 minute session depending on time of visit.
More info and games and activities at

Pizza Hut offer make your own pizza parties for £6.99 a head. Mini-Me had hers at the Watford Dome Roundabout branch (telephone 01923 680 055). They last one and a half hours and generally take place on a weekend morning but each branch will have their own availability.

Friday 1 January 2010

Mummy on the Edge- FamliesNW Magazine Jan/Feb 2010

Mummy on the edge tries not to pass on long-standing homework anxiety to Mini-Me and makes a New Year’s Resolution on the way.

Mini-Me’s homework is getting weightier in quantity and required quality. And I am feeling the pressure. The latest assignment was a project on Victorian Schools which we – I mean SHE - forgot all about – until it was mentioned by my friend, another mum, in passing. This left us – I mean HER – 2 and a half weeks to complete it, instead of the 4 weeks that we - I mean SHE - should have had.

It was time to take affirmative action. Which meant not spending half the available working time on the following pencil-related activity: 5 minutes: lecture on not using a pen for homework because it always turns out messy, despite the fact that she has been told repeatedly with near Joan-Crawford-wire-coat-hanger clarity that all homework should be done with a pencil, NOT a pen. 10 minutes: looking for a pencil, despite the fact that she has precisely a zillion of them. 4 minutes: looking for a sharpener (ditto). 1 minute: sharpening the pencil, 2 seconds: the lead breaking because she’s dropped the pencil several times, 1 minute: re-sharpening the pencil, 5 minutes: looking for a less-pointless (har har) sharpener that didn’t con its way into our house via a party bag. That’s over 20 minutes used up without writing a single word. According to the homework guidelines that Mini-Me brought home in her first week of Year 3, homework shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes. So we are – I mean SHE is behind before she’s even started.

We needed to re-asses the use of time and allocate minutes more effectively.
So, while at the pound shop picking up padded envelopes (£1 for a pack of 6!) I also bought some auto-poppy pencils. (Plus a pot of pickled peppers! Amazing what you can get there…)

“What did Victorian children do at home mummy?” Mini-Me asked me that evening.
“Well,” I answered thoughtfully, “they had to keep their house very, very tidy.” Mini immediately skipped off up the stairs to clean her room and I was left wondering how I could milk this thing. Could I also tell her that Victorian children helped their mothers empty the dishwasher and washing machine and vacuum the interior of the car?

So for two weeks, spurred on by her tyrannical Victorian schoolmarm mother (just to give her a realistic experience, you understand,) Mini-Me spent an hour and a half every evening reading several books and scanning websites. She diligently wrote and illustrated sections of her project on Victorian school punishments (finger-stocks for fidgets – fantastic idea!) equipment, clothing and Other Stuff. Sentence by spidery sentence, she worked her way through the project, with an admirably fastidious commitment to putting things in her own words that sometimes turned up-side-down what she meant to say.
It seems harsh but I just feel I have to train her from an early age not to turn out like me. I mean, look: I was supposed to email this article this morning and I’m writing it this evening! I have come to feel inured to this sick feeling at the pit of my stomach, always knowing that there is something I need to have done. It is an inheritance I would be eternally grateful not to pass down.

I can still feel the itch on the end of my nose that I couldn’t scratch myself, because my hands were soaked in wallpaper paste, while working with BFFB (best friend fashion buyer) on a joint primary school project on Astronomy. While our classmates were diligently writing, heads down, we wasted all class project time farting about with balloons and papier maché with the vague and doomed intention of making a moving model of the solar system. Because it was hilarious fun. Needless to say, we didn’t finish it. At the last minute, we changed the subject to Astrology and copied most of the information from an article from my older sister’s ancient Jackie annual.

Anyway, by the time it came to handing in Mini-Me’s project, I felt like I had taken part in a BBC Three reality show called “The most impatient parent in the world”. Any minute I could be kidnapped, locked in the conference room of the Watford Travelodge with Mini-Me and a psychologist, and made to watch video-footage of myself in our house, barking about pencils and dishwashers. What an ordeal. And what a relief that it’s over. Hopefully, both Mini-Me and I have learnt our lesson. Our New Year’s Resolution is to start our homeworks the very day we get them. So I’m going write next issue’s article RIGHT NOW. Happy New Year.

Angelina Melwani runs Sing and Sign baby signing classes in Harrow, Bushey, Stanmore and Rickmansworth. More info at