Friday 9 December 2011

Angelina & Mini-Me go to see Swan Lake in Watford

A moonlit night in Watford...

Resplendent in her favourite smart dress which raises its skirt like a tutu when she twirls and JUST fits her (this may have been its last outing) 9-year-old Mini-Me was hopping around with excitement in the lobby of the theatre in anticipation of her first live and non televisual ballet-watching experience: Swan Lake in Watford. One might have thought she would be put off since she was actually told she was unsuitable for Ballet by Miss Julie, her teacher of a few years ago when she was just 5. But excited she was (-even though it was nearing bedtime). 

"They look like dolls!" whispered Mini-Me in my ear as the curtains went back to reveal the troup of sinuous- limbed dancers from the Russian State Ballet of Siberia in pretty costumes, indeed. Their tippie-toes tickled the stage, and charming as it was to someone who has only been to the ballet once in her life (albeit at L'Opera in Paris and totally, enthrallingly breathtaking in a way that was impossible at
Watford Colosseum)  I couldn't resist staring instead at Mini-Me's delighted face as she witnessed this perfectly gratifying introduction herself. Some 25 lithe dancers attempted to captivate us with their pretty pirouettes, gravity-defying leaps, and dreamy pas de deux, however I couldn't help but feel that their style was somewhat cramped by the size of the stage and slight out of sync-ness of their collective moves. But actually, what do I know? Not a lot, as it happens.

Thankfully, we had quickly
googled the plot beforehand so we sort of knew what was happening. Classic case of mistaken identity with Prince Siegfried accidentally promising his heart to Odile the wrong swan, condemning Odette, his true love to possible lifelong misery and/ or suicide. It probably would have been a good idea to purchase the programme but being the tightwad single-income single-parent that I am, the gist was good enough. Apparently, Swan Lake has alternative endings depending on who is presenting it and we speculated what would be in store at the end of this production

SPOILER ALERT Well, it ended with the Prince Siegfried and his nemesis the Evil Sorcerer both drowning in the lake during their ensuing fight. Leaving Odette to pick up the feathers and carry on swanning around without him. How sadly familiar, these days. We exited the theatre into a vibrant-blue, full-moon-lit sky that was an eerie and magical echo of the lake scene backdrop.

We came home and Mini sat in the kitchen warming her hands around a cup of milk while I loaded the dishwasher.

"Thank you for taking me to see Swan Lake, Mummy."

"You are very welcome. There's no one I would rather have gone with."

"It's a shame the Prince made a mistake, Mummy"

"He was a bit of an idiot really, wasn't he?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well, he should have known that whatserface wasn't his true love; he shouldn't have just promised his heart away like that. I mean, really! Some men can be quite stupid... Were you hoping for a happy ending, darling?"

Mini-Me nodded sleepily.

"Me too." I sighed, closing the door of the dishwasher and pressing ON.


Incidentally, while googling "pas de deux" to make sure I vaguely made sense I happened upon this totally awesome video on youtube. Made my insides go funny, but watch it. It's amazing - especially if you forward to about 3 and a half minutes in, (if you don't have time or patience to watch the whole thing).

Wednesday 7 December 2011

Angelina & Mini-Me do Disney - Families NW Nov Dec 20111

My edited version of this article appeared in Families NW Magazine in November December 2011
Angelina and Mini-Me do Disney.

“Shut up, legs! Behave yourselves! I know you are aching but this is DISNEYLAND!!”

This was merely the first rung of Mini-Me's advance up the ladder of self-parenting, propped as it was, against a crumbling wall of mothering built by me.

Somehow, Mini-Me and her edge-teetering mother had made it to the hallowed grounds of casa Mickey Mouse. In a world where one could conceivably change the name of this column from “Mummy on the Edge” to “The Next Set of Stupid Things She's Done” this was quite an achievement. For a start, I used Tesco Clubcard Vouchers converted to Airmiles on special discount offer to purchase the Eurostar tickets. I spent an inordinate amount of time checking out all the offers advertised on the website and on the telly. The best advice offered was that “the fun starts the minute you tell them”. In that case, do we actually need to go, I wondered.

After further research, it quickly became apparent that staying at a Disney hotel would end up costing me an arm and a leg (and about half a kidney). So instead, using a cashback website, I located a clean, newly built budget hotel just one stop away from the Disney RER (rail station) and right next door to a HUGE shopping mall housing a LARGE Auchan supermarket where we stocked up on grapes, poulet-thyme and bolognaise flavoured crisps, and other snackettes for me to secrete in my backpack; Mini-Me dragged me (practically screaming) away from the lingerie sale rail which featured bras by good French brands like Aubade and Chantelle (not that I still deeply regret not buying lovely French underwear at remarkably low prices).

I had booked the Disneyland tickets online using a 4 days for the price of 3 offer. Four days seems like an awfully long time for one to torture oneself for the sake of the happiness of one's child/ren but I had this ridiculous idea was that I would try very, very hard not to bark HURRY UP!! all the time, as I do at home. This was a gift to my lovely princess Mini-Me (which would hopefully include this Christmas and maybe her January birthday, if I could manage to milk it for that long), so if she wanted to stand still for 20 minutes outside the toilets, admiring some minor Disney wall frieze detail, while ride queues lengthened from 2 miles to 4 miles and summer turned to autumn, she could do so with neither threat nor sarcasm from her mother. I would not chevy her along in order to do things in a more time efficient manner. And if we decided that enough was enough and we didn't really need the last day, no problem. We could instead go back to Auchan and spend the morning foraging for pretty bras in a 32D! In any case, a lovely Oyster lunch was definitely on the cards while waiting for our train to go home from Gare Du Nord. [except I got the time of the return Eurostar wrong and we had to leg it from Disney to Gare Du Nord]

We dropped off our luggage at the hotel and got to Disneyland at about 5ish. It closed very late so we had plenty of time to wander around a bit and then catch the first parade. Mini-Me found a spot behind a tall lamp post, next to a tall girl. Her head peeping round from behind the lampost, Mini-Me's eyes were wide with glee when the characters made their way around the circular road in front of our patch of pavement and I swallowed a sob, just observing the wonderment on her face. Then in pigeon French I asked the tall girl if Mini-Me could please stand in front of her. She looked at me as if I was mad and said “Non!” Indignant, I continued in my terrible, wrong French that belied my grade “B” A level: “Please miss. You are very, very fat and she is very, very tiny!” Again, (somewhat offended) “Non!” Mini-Me was happy enough and quite embarrassed of me. But I finally lost it and in one deft, two-handed movement I shoved the tall, mean girl to the left and slotted Mini-me in and said “Thank you! You are very very beautiful!”

We weren't going to make another mistake later on for the weirdly named Fantillusion light-up parade. We found a seat on the pavement about forty minutes before it was due to start. By that time our legs were aching badly enough for our bottoms to find the cold, hard ground exeedingly comfy. We sat, while crowds swarmed around us. And sat. And sat. Mini-Me yawned. We played I-Spy. We shivered. We breathed in third party cigarette smoke from the mummy of miscellaneous nationality sat beside us with her son who was absolutely beside himself with fatigue-induced delirium. It was about 10pm and he desperately wanted to go to bed. But he was going to enjoy Fantillusion (whether he fanted to or not). There is so much more to tell you that won't fit within the confines of this space. Please visit my blog to learn more about weird European haircuts, disgusting Disney food, queueing to meet characters and how I tortured Mini-Me by making her go on the Tower of Terror! (But don't visit the blog if you work for Social Services...) Happy Holidays!

Goofy had an attitude problem.

Mini-Me peeking trying to get a peek of the parade.

What my castle will look like after I've sold the rights to my life story.

Me posing in un-purchased Mini-Mouse Ears with the price and security tags still attached: Mini-Me, do you think we should buy these ears? They will only lie around the house making it a mess won't they? The joy of the ears will be spent once we get the home as will the 18 euros (can't actually remember the price) they cost. What do you think? Shall I buy them????
Mini-Me: No, Mummy. You are right, don't buy them.

This is self-explanatory.

This and below are inspiration for how I'm going to decorate my new house, once I've bought one.

Here I go again

This post is dedicated to inspirational Becky and Judy; day-brighteningly gorgeous Anita Lake-Benson; lovely, lovely Nathaniel's mummy on Thursdays and these two very well turned out mummies I met at Beautiful Sonal's Shriya's 1st birthday party.

Here I go again. Idly making commitments that I will only break but need to make to drag me from the bleakness and ensure I live my authentic life [inspired by awe-inducing Oprah (- living authenticallly, not having her life, obviously)]
I hereby commit to writing a post at least every two weeks (and trying for every week but I can't possibly write that, can I? Becky does it every day!) There. That feels gooood. And this counts as one. But what good is a blog that mostly navigates the routes of my brain that cause me to not be cussed  to write in it? Does this make it a) introspective and not a little boring or b) apparent that the writer is up her own cuss.  [(I'm borrowing from Handsome Clooney's Mr Fox here because I haven't given enough thought to the morality of swearing, like in real life, on a blog which I promote in a magazine called Families and eventually to my mummies who come to my wholesome classes with their babies (but this blog is nothing to do with that - this is the dark side, obviously). Like: should I plonk the words "sex porn" in the introduction in order for parental filters to shield the blog from little eyes - namely Mini-Me's?)]

In the last issue of Families NW Magazine they published my piece about taking Mini-Me to Disneyland Paris. I'm so crap that I haven't even put that on here yet. It was the November/ December issue. It is now December.  And I'm even crapper because at the end of it, I said something like "Hey, I have so much more to tell you but there's no space here, so check out my blog [I'm such a hepcat I have my own blog which looks like cuss by the way coz it's got hardly any pictures because I can't remember how to put them on.] and you'll hear all about bad European haircuts, queue jumping, French bras and the Tower of Terror and disgusting food.

And actually I had got to thinking: Well 'snot so bad, see. It's alright that no one really reads the blog, because then they won't see that I'm full of cuss and at at the same time so cool that even making a promise in print in an actual MAGAZINE will not make me get off my cuss and DO SOMETHING.

But then lovely Anita Lake-Benson actually asked me about the blog so she could go online and read what I had written about Disneyland Paris. She cared enough to read it! Even though I had not (and still have not) written it! And was suitably outraged when I told her so. And strangely, I was deeply moved and heartened by her blessed outrage. And Nathaniel's mummy also mentioned that she had enjoyed my Families article and gone online and ACTUALLY READ the blog and quoted back something that had made her laugh.

It is always really flattering when someone tells me they have read my articles. It's mostly people I teach, to be fair, because I actually distribute the magazine in my classes. So it's possible that they are being polite and massaging my ego because they know me well enough not to want to induce a mental breakdown in a class that they have paid for (it states quite clearly on my Ts&Cs that I don't give refunds). But on this occasion that I'm going to tell you about, I met two people I had never met and who didn't know me at all. I was performing my special talent that I'm not going to promote within this blog because it has nothing to do with it at Beautiful Sonal's Shriya's 1st birthday party and two mummies asked me where I teach and my name. And when I told them they said, "Oh you're not the Angelina that writes Mummy on the Edge are you?! We ALWAYS  read you; you're really, really, really funny" (I'm paraphrasing - this was back in Spring/ Summer so maybe it wasn't so many "really"s) And I threw my head back and said "YES, YES, YES I AM - the very same Angelina!"

Carrie Bradshaw eat your cussin' heart out.

Sunday 16 October 2011

Mummy on the Edge Families Magazine
September October 2011

Mini-me gets her ears pierced.... nearly.

Mini-Me sat on a stool in Anna's Jewellery shop quaking nervously as Classic FM played a foreboding science-fiction theme tune – Star Wars or something. “This is dramatic music, Mummy.”

WE had decided that SHE wanted her ears pierced. Spurred on by my constant reminders of the existence of a pair of barely-visible-to-the-naked-eye diamond earrings with her name on. When piercing day finally arrived, (having been postponed variously due to swimming lessons, fear of pain, etc.) these would be taken out of hiding (if I could remember where I had put them). And if she didn't want teeny tiny diamonds, I could easily re-gift them to any number of recipients amongst our family and friends. Oh, don't look at me like that: it's not really blackmail.

The eponymous Anna was a mature Trinidadian woman who wielded her piercing gun with an air of experience and not a little panache. “It won't hurt.” she reassured Mini-Me, “Just a pinch!” (“Like that”, I helpfully demonstrated on her hand - “Ow!!”) No anaesthetic? A trifling matter. I was an instant convert to the Who Needs Anaesthetic When You Are a Mature Lady Of The World Who Knows What You Are Doing? camp. In direct opposition to the Go, Whippersnappers With Anaesthetic and Unique Simultaneous Left And Right Piercing Action, at Claire's Accessories, Even Though Due Entirely to Personal Mid-Life Insecurities, It Freaks Me Out That Many of You Were Born In The Nineties camp.

“Well,” Mini-Me reasoned somewhat apologetically, (after having black dots penned onto her ears by Anna and flinching behind clenched fists each of the five times she had approached clutching the piercing gun,) “I just don't think I'm ready, Mummy.” By now you could tell, despite her sterling efforts to hide it, Anna was slightly peeved; partly because she had opened a sterile pair of pink sparkly earrings but mostly because she was having to cope with an over-familiar, first-name using (and casual observers may have noted: slightly demented) mother who was now drawing comparisons between Anna and the child's grandmother as though doing that would reassure Mini-Me. Anna suggested we go for a walk. (I think she meant, “Get out of my shop.”)

“How about a luxurious, creamy, yummy milkshake?” I offered. We were in Islington, off Chapel Market and just across the way was Shake Gallery, an art and gift shop with a cafe at the front serving all manner of fruit/ jar/ chocolate bar concoctions. “ANYthing you want. ANY flavour. To help you relax. And then, if you feel like it (because it's really completely up to you, y'know) we can go back and get your ears pierced.” No, not bribery: encouragement! Mini-Me chose something with bananas and peanut butter and chocolate. I shared it with her.

We traipsed back up the road to see Anna but we were only halfway there when Mini Me decided once and for all that she really couldn't go through with it. Okay, I sighed, and did not push any further. We carried on walking and looked at the plant stall in the market. I was admiring some Jasmine when I noticed quiet and heavy tears streaming down Mini-Me's usually ever-cheerful face. “Its alright,” I said, “you don't have to pierce your ears today, okay?”

“But I don't want to upset Anna!” she quietly sobbed. Of course, it was all my fault. “Don't worry about Anna!” “But she'll be disappointed!” More tears. What had I done? It was time for damage limitation.

I squatted down at her level and looked her in the eye: “Listen,” I said. “She's not your flippin' grandmother. She's a lady who owns a shop. She'll survive the disappointment. Probably happens to her all the time. They are YOUR ears. NOT mine, NOT Anna's, not anyone else's, just yours. And if you don't want to pierce them, it's nobody's business (-no, not even mine,) but yours. You have nothing to feel bad or guilty about and I'm sorry if I put you under pressure. In fact I'm very proud of you for making your own decision about your own ears and expressing yourself very clearly. It's a very important skill to have and I would do well to try to learn that from you.”

Talk about driving the poor kid bonkers. She beamed and nodded and I wiped the tears from her face with the extra tissues I'd stuffed into my handbag from Shake Gallery. “Mummy, I think you're just the right mummy for me.” “Yes darling, and you're just the right daughter for me” I said, unlocking my blackberry and googling the nearest Claire's Accessories.

Tuesday 5 July 2011

Kids wall art stickers available this week at Lidl.

In a bid to pass on my addiction to the purchase of pseudo-useful crap from various sources, I hereby give you this link where you will see cute wall decoration stickers for kids' rooms available this Thursday at Lidl for £4.99. Bargain! I bought some wall stickers from M&S last year for Mini-Me's room. They were surprisingly easy to stick up and at time of writing are still on the wall, even though the painted wallpaper underneath is bobbly.

Monday 4 July 2011

Mummy on the Edge - Families NW Magazine July/ August 2011

“Run like the wind! Keep running!! Follow the signs to GATE 57!! I'm behi-i-i-i-nd you!!!!” It was a scene from a movie. There I was, Angelina (Jolie?), in hot pursuit of Mini-Me (that little girl in Kick-Ass?) My sight never left her pony tail bobbing in the throng, her green rucksack, the pink leather strap of her well-worn sandals and the sound of her feet tap-taping away from me on the hard floor. Faster and then slower and then faster I chased; up escalators, down stairs and up more escalators, bumping into people, leaping over suitcases, calling “Excuse me!” to jostled victims I left in my wake. Wheezing and sweating, the surroundings blurred past me as I wished I hadn't provoked a delay at airport security by forgetting to put the brand new Chanel under-eye concealer (it's not really a liquid is it?) in the clear bag.

The staff waved us through the gate and outside but there were two planes! I grabbed Mini-Me and sprinted (actually staggered) across the tarmac, straight to the one that looked the most likely to take off without us, which I soon found out was the wrong thing to do as the stewardess scolded me for not following the painted lines on the ground. I didn't care. Mini-Me and I flumped, separately, on any available seats, hair clinging in sweaty clumps to our skin. We had made it.

Now, after all that drama, I can hereby confirm that the enjoyment of a holiday, weekend break, anything at all, increases exponentially with how close one comes to missing it. This is highly scientific. There is a life lesson in there somewhere and I'm damned if I don't take the opportunity to teach it to poor, little, ever-grateful Mini-Me. We were on our way to a very decadent weekend break in Italy to visit friends who have their own wood-fired pizza oven in the gardens of their house in the hills where we would invent and make our own pizzas. Mine was gorgonzola, garlic spinach and chilli. But Mini-Me's was the best: pineapple, strawberry and marscapone, drizzled with honey. We ate yummy scrummy gelato on the beach,eking out every bit of pleasure from the brief weekend. We had never been to Italy before and usually when we go anywhere (even two nights in the Lake District) Mini-Me starts to get homesick. This time however, seemed to be different. “Mummy,” she said, “I could live in Italy!” I think she read my mind...


Back in Blighty, it was a confused Sunday. Where to go and what to do? I raised my head to the heavens, shook my fist and asked “Whose side are you playing for today?” A sunbeam broke through the clouds while a barely audible rumble of thunder made its presence known. An ambivalent answer. Mini-Me just wanted to ride her shiny new bike (acquired with intelligent use of Tesco Clubcard Points) on the green outside our house. But I dragged her out with my sister to the Grimsdyke Manor Open Day in their pretty grounds in Harrow. Mini-Me and I cannily avoided the tents selling bits of stuff and instead started to queue for 20 minutes for a cream tea. To save her boredom, I sent her down the way to listen to the brass band (“Don't go and see it – it's too far away, okay? Just stand where you can hear it!”) while I continued queueing and then after 2 minutes began to worry that I had made a bad decision and that maybe 9 years old wasn't the right age to send her out of my sight at a busy event. (What is the right age, anyway?) Thankfully, she did come back. “Wow mummy! That band sounded amazing!”

I bumped into a lovely Sing and Sign mummy (I always do) from last year with her new twin babies who asked me to save a space for her in September. My sister parked herself at the cooking demonstration upstairs in the impressive, beautiful and historical house which possibly once belonged to Gilbert. Or maybe Sullivan. One of them, I think. Or to someone that knew one of them. I could tell you had I continued with the guided tour of the house and gardens once the downpour started. We caught a few minutes of Morris Dancing before trundling back to the car in the rain which, it seemed, we were fated to do that day. Five minutes after we got home, the sun was peeping through. I love these types of fetes and fayres. It's nice to spend a few hours somewhere local and still have the time and energy when you come home to watch your kid cycle happily round the block in the fading sunshine.

If you would like to catch up on very ancient Mummy on the Edge columns from 2006 onward (!) and read more of my vacuous ramblings between issues, visit my blog, and leave me a message. I would love to hear from you.

Angelina runs Sing and Sign baby signing classes. More info at

Info box (if required):
Other local events:
Thursday 7 July 2011
Teddy Bears Picnic
- King George Recreation Ground, Bushey. From 12pm to 3pm. I'll be there doing Sing and Sign, too!

Sunday 17 July
Fun Day in Canons Park: Donnefield Avenue entrance to Canons Park, Edgware  London HA8 6RH. 2 – 5pm Website:

Sunday 28 August to Monday 29 August
Harrow in Leaf Show, Harrow Museum and Heritage Centre, Pinner View, Harrow  Middlesex HA2 6PX. 12 noon - 6 pm. Admission £2 accompanied children under 12 free.

Everything is bull excrement. Part 1

I have this theory, you see, that everything is bull excrement. Obviously there are some exceptions. But on the whole I really believe this to be true. Especially in terms of politics and media. This post is the first in a series of occasional justifications of this theory and merely contains links related to Ed Rubberband's performance of last week.
A post from the reporter that interviewed Ed Rubberband last Thursday about the Teachers's Strike
Charlie Brooker in The Guardian on the same subject.
The video itself on Youtube. A must watch.

Wednesday 29 June 2011

Free Theatre Tickets for Kids (do they deserve them??)

Kids Week in the West End have just announced that bookings open on the 12th July. When you buy an adult ticket to a performance between 12th - 26th August, you can get a kids ticket free. There are also some workshops available (for example learn a routine with the cast etc.) I have never taken Mini-Me to The Lion King. If I manage to remember to book it on the 12 July, and if an adult ticket is not prohibitively expensive, and if I haven't booked a place at camp for her already, that's what I'm aiming for.

The last time I took her to see something major was one of the last performances of the Sound of Music at the Palladium. It was fantastic. As we glided (glid?) up the escalator at Oxford Circus tube station, Mini-Me was singing The Hills are Alive and talking about how excited she was and the lady in front of us turned around and told us she was in the show playing one of the lead nuns!  However, Mini-Me's lasting memory of the day turned out to be the shock of seeing her mother slumped on a chair struggling to stay conscious and feeling like the life force was draining out of me, while an ambulance was called! (No, it was not boredom - more like excruciating embarrassment, actually). Anyway, obviously, I lived to tell the tale but don't need to because she brings it up every flippin' two weeks or so. I'm hoping that if I take her to see the spectacle that is  The Lion King, the joy we experience will supercede the drama of raindrops on roses so that she never speaks of it again.

Right. I have a zillion work emails to reply to. I'm going to do that now. In a minute. In a sec. I must not watch the dross that is Desperate Housewives. But of course I will. I must do some zapping. But of course I will not...

What is that noise outside? Is it my new Portuguese gardener diligently making up for lost raintime? Or psychopathic neighbour doing something damaging with a chainsaw?

Tune in for the next instalment to find out...

Wednesday 22 June 2011

The miracle, life-changing product has arrived.

I got the Adonia! Last Wednesday it came and I ripped the box open to find just 3 of the 5 attractive metallic boxes I had ordered. I swiftly emailed the customer service people, (mentioning that I would be writing about the product and Adonia's customer service) and they promised to forward the outstanding two units.

So, I smeared it on my arms and legs and face (and a few other places) and discovered that a) it smells nice, b) it has a pleasing, easily absorbed texture and c) it won't last long. Let's wait and see...

The parcel also contained a large glossy colour brochure full of other Adonia miracle products. I started browsing disinterestedly but by the time I had finished I had inadvertently stoked the embers of my latent desire for useless crap. I wanted and believed EVERYTHING. I am the SUCKER of all SUCKERS. Bring it on: eyelash growing serum, fat reducing serum, wrinkle filling serum. Serum serum serum. Is there a serum that will clean my toilet.? No I'm not talking Harpic. Like: can I spray a special tonic that will vacuum my carpet by osmosis? Or imagine a spray that could spray in your cupboards that would unfold and re-fold and rearrange their contents? It cannot be beyond the realms of physics to do this. It just takes someone with vision to make it happen...

Monday 13 June 2011

Up and running

It's still morning and I have uploaded 2006 - 2007 Mummy on the Edges. 2008 - 9 to follow later. It's fun for me because I haven't read them for years and am enjoying them as though someone else has written them. I hope you, the hypothetical reader enjoy them too.

Thursday 9 June 2011


So. My sister told me about this cream that she read about in the Daily Mail. (I don't read the Daily Mail so I hadn't heard about it.) It reduces hair growth. It's called Adonia Hair Reducer and the reviews are good. She said it had sold out everywhere and that Harrods has a 10,000 long waiting list! TEN THOUSAND! So I googled it and found the official website (here) which boasts some official looking research papers but no actual pictures of the respondents. And I don't think there were that many respondents. In any case, there's not that much out there on the web but I did read a few independent reviews which said it works.

The website said it was in stock so I ordered it. I ordered 5 (yes, five) tubes because it was buy 3 and get 2 free. And I figured my sisters would want some. And my mum who had chemo last year and cannot use any thing harsh on her skin. (This Adonia stuff is made of plant oils.) The website says it will take 10 to 18 days to arrive at my door (depending on customs at this end - I mean Customs and Excise, not religious customs, or social customs!) Actually, will I have to pay duty or something?? I actually don't care. If it really does reduce hair by up to 40% in two weeks and up to 70 % in four weeks then it is worth it. And even if it reduces it by 25 %, that's something, right? I will keep this blog updated with my progress on the Adonia Hair Reducer front.

I've also been using the Boots Smooth Skin machine which I purchased in December. It's good. But  dreadfully laborious. Which is okay if you are a very organised, meticulous and methodical person. But if you are bloody lazy like me then it helps if your situation is loaded with a high degree of desperation to make you do it (which mine is). I was fairly meticulous up to the point where I went abroad with The Piton for 5 days and acquired a tan. (You can't use it if you are tanned- it is IPL laser type thing.) While I was out there, I hardly need de-foresting which was a wonderful, wonderful thing because I had more fun. But then when I came back with a tan, I did not continue with the zapping and stuff grew back. So I have started zapping again, in the last two weeks. It is working but it is a drudge to do large and hard to reach areas. And I cannot be arsed to do my arms. At the moment I would say I resemble a character from "Where the Wild Things Are." So bring on the cream!

When I told her that I had bought 5 tubes she shrieked "Five tubes!! But you don't know if it works!! And it's out of stock - you won't get it!!" She calmed down when I told her it was buy 3 get 2 free. And I don't care. One has to speculate to accumulate. Or to do the opposite of accumulate as regards to superfluous hair. If The Piton was here I would ask him what the opposite of accumulate is. But I won't disturb him with such trivial and idiotic questions while he is journalisticating in troubled territories. He's so clever and brave. And I'm so shallow and thick.

Now. I have loads of work to do. I also have to write my Families article by tomorrow. Which I will do. But I'm sitting here typing this, which sort of feels like work, even though it isn't. Is it stealing, if I take away from this session a feeling of undeserved personal well-done-ness in order to cushion my true sense of failing and uselessness and guilty lack of achievement?

Sunday 5 June 2011


Well. Having just read all previous posts (last one being in FEBRUARY!) and noticed that I started the last two with "Ok" and "Right", I just made the decision to start this one with "Well". Hmm. what will it be next time. Ah: "So"! (I'm not racist - one of my best friends is Chinese... That was terrible).

Well. Again, I feel tempted to tell you that it's night time, Sunday the 5th (very nearly Monday 6th) June. But I won't because you will already know that. I'm just going to change the font.

There. That's better isn't it? The Piton (formerly and mistakenly known as MF) AKA Wikepeter is away in Tripoli playing NewsStud and not here to drive me mad, ergo is doing it remotely by not being here. No that's not fair or true. He doesn't actually drive me mad much any more. Quite the opposite. Keeps me sane and anchored to the rockface we call life.

So I promised him I would write. He agreed to let me read his near decade-old book proposal if I made an earnest promise to write. So I'm trying. I wrote a paragraph last week, or maybe it was the week before. And I wrote an email to my Saturday students yesterday. I know you're thinking (or you would if you, a reader, existed) "Email? Does that count as writing?"

Well, it was a long and detailed email. God, they must think I am nuts! It was all about how I had to change the dates a bit again so that I can spend a fun two-night weekend at a country house with Piton and our kids (his boy and my girl. Not "our" kids, if you see what I mean) for his friend's 40th birthday, along with uber-people invitees. Most people in my situation could have invented a perfectly plausible excuse for this thus maintaining a facade of sanity. Like: My Grandma died (which she actually did but I won't use that as an excuse to cancel a class). Or A Family Wedding. Or A Family Tragedy. Or more plausibly: The hall is not available that day due to a death/ wedding/ tragedy/ scheduled gas leak. But no. I had to tell the truth. In a way that quoted the need to take advantage of "stepping stones of happiness" and "rainbows over valleys" and the fact that sometimes, for many people, life is like "clinging to a dinghy by one's fingernails in a sea of misery". I'm using quotation marks even though I'm not sure if these were the actual words and I'm too embarrassed to go back and read what I wrote in order to copy and paste. Anyway. You get the picture. I'm supposed to be teaching them baby signing, not trying to play with their psyches. Jeez. I don't know how I'm going to face my Saturday class this week...

Maybe this is why I have to start writing properly. Otherwise it will come out in other, ever more mortifyingly shocking ways. Right. Now I'm supposed to be zapping but it's too late. Tomorrow is another day. Instead I will make a hot chocolate and read a bit more of The Pregnant Widow. I must finish that damn book and return it to the library. And renew it tomorrow. I'm so sick of seeing it lying around. And to write, you have to read. Those called "They" are said to say.

Goodnight. x

Wednesday 4 May 2011

Mummy on the Edge - FamiliesNW Magazine May/June 2011

(Please pardon the dollar signs - this was written whilst on hosl in Texas and I can't be arsed to change it :))

Angelina and Mini-me enjoy high tea  not  at the Ritz.
It seems nowadays you can't scroll down your inbox without 17 discount offers jumping out to tempt you. I have become virtual-coupon queen and signed up to several sites which promise to save me money and enhance my life. Let's see, at first look this morning I've come upon teeth whitening, hair straightening, wine tasting, Argentinian barbeque, laser hair removal, fish pedicure, country house weekend and race car driving. All suitable mother-daughter activities in ooh, about 10 years but nothing for right now.

BUT I did find what I was looking for a few months ago. It was Mini-Me's birthday and I wanted to take her somewhere special and memorable. We both love food and theatre and I thought I could combine the two with lunch at the Japanese restaurant Benihana, where they chuck knives and ingredients around and the food, magically prepared mid-air, lands on a grill in front of you where it is cooked to sizzling perfection. (Yes, I have been watching too many cartoons on Boomerang with Mini-Me). This was working out pricey however, and I wasn't sure that it would hit the spot, birthday wise. Perhaps, I thought, I could take her for a slap up lunch at the famous oyster bar at St Pancras. Then I remembered whose birthday it actually was. Aha, I thought! Afternoon tea at an uber-posh hotel in town (as in London Town, not Watford Town), somewhere achingly luxurious where we would never stay - at least not until after my oeuvre is completed and MGM buy the film rights (unlikely until at least the next decade as the opening paragraph is resting in a neurologically dormant corner of my brain - along with the closing sentence and all chapters in between). 

What could be better, I thought, than consuming teensy-weensy sandwiches and heavenly frou-frou cakes with our little fingers pointing skyward, in the company of ladies who lunch, caressed by the calming notes of muzak, sipping fragrant piney lapsang souchong grown and harvested on a romantic, misty mountain by singing angels.  I spent a few hours trawling the net for options and looked up The Ritz, The Wolsley and just about everywhere elsey. Everything was mondo pricey, in the region of $25 - $45 EACH. Hmmm, I sighed, if only there was a coupon for such a thing. Lo and behold, what should pop out of my inbox THAT VERY DAY (who says cosmic ordering doesn't work?) I bought a voucher from Livingsocial for champagne afternoon tea for two at Le Meridien, Piccadilly for the grand sum of $25. Okay, not the Ritz, but it would do. I conceded that the place would probably be filled, not by the ambient crystal titter of well-heeled ladies who shop but by clodhoppers like me, waving vouchers.

By the time we took up the offer it was two months later; its purpose had mutated from "Mini-Me's birthday treat" to "Mini-Me's post-birthday and pre-mummy-going-to-Texas-for-a-wedding-without-Mini-Me-for-5-nights treat". I've never left her for longer than a night and there were some pre-departure nerves on both our parts.  "Wow!", she gasped as we entered the revolving doors into the lobby. "Shhh. Don't sound impressed. Just belong," I instructed in reply. The Terrace Restaurant was bright, sunshiney and empty; the well-heeled possibly giddy with delight in Liberty and the rest perhaps clodhopping elsewhere. After waiting quite a while, the waiter arrived with my Champagne, Mini-Me's milkshake and our two, 3-tiered serving thingies; at the bottom of each, six finger sandwiches of salmon, egg and cress and cheese and cucumber; the middle, 4 mini scones, each the size of my big toe (I'm a size 5, since you ask) and at the top, pretty little fancies, garnished with gold leaf and curled chocolate. It all looked doll-size, but by the time we had worked our way to the top we were both slighty green.

"What's an anarchist, mummy?" asked Mini-Me after, as we worked off high tea with a pleasant mosey up 
Regent Street
under an impossibly blue sky and egg yolk sun. It was the day after the central London cuts protest and although we avoided the broken windows of Piccadilly, subtle hints that something had occurred were dotted around. A touch of graffitti depicting the "A" sign had prompted a detailed explanation but I only made a brief one before ducking into The Gap sale where Mini-Me sat in the changing room hanging clothes back on hangers for me after I had tried them on. She’s a great gal, that Mini-Me. And I’m going to keep my eyes peeled for further exciting inbox adventures that we can enjoy together now – or in 10 years time...

I found my high tea deal on Livingsocial but there is also Groupon and Travelzoo – be prepared to receive offers daily.

Angelina Melwani runs Sing and Sign Baby Signing Classes in Harrow, Bushey, Stanmore and Ricky. More info at

Friday 4 March 2011

Mummy on the Edge FamiliesNW Mag March April 2011

A few months ago, a random man knocked at my door and announced that he was Indaria Trimi-Trays which I thought was a nice name (if a little ethnically unusual for a stocky white bloke with a neck like a water butt). A few sentences later, I had deduced that he was “In the area, trimming trees” and was wondering if I would like mine seen to. It just so happened that in my back garden I had an Elder (the tree, not a grandparent) that had been growing adjacent and partly through my shed, probably thanks to some long-dead squirrel who decided it was a good idea to bury some berries, or seeds or whatever it is that begets a tree in the wrong place. I had been meaning to deal with it for ages but, what with general events of the past five years, it had never been a priority. Indaria had a look and announced that he would charge £150 to do what needed to be done. However, I had no intention of making such a generous contribution towards his sister's big fat light-up wedding so we settled on fifty squids to cut it down, treat the stump and take away the wood. I had saved the shed and allowed the adjacent apple tree more room to be happy and revel in its bountiful fruitfulness. Or something.

When Mini-Me came home from school, I was quite excited to show her the day's progress and ready to bask in her praise for being such a canny bargaineer. “Oh Mummy!” I imagined her saying, “You ARE clever to have have saved a hundred pounds while removing an eyesore and creating necessary breathing space in our sprawling wilderness.” Or words to that effect.

Well, how unpredictable and inconsistent my little cheerleader is. Far from being pleased and proud of me, her face shook with horror and disappointment (-as though I had just shown her pillowcase full of freshly drowned puppies, in fact) and said “Oh, no!! We must look after the trees mummy, PLEASE!”
I blame Blue Peter and school.

What could I do? I had to make practical reparation.

Sai School of Harrow had joined the Woodland Trust Tree Planting initiative and asked parents to bring their kids to a specially organised tree planting day that would contribute to creating England's largest new native woodland. Of course, being a can-do, self -righteous, example-setting tree lover, I jumped at the chance to calm my and Mini-Me's karma. So, to her delight, we set off one Sunday after lunch and drove to Heartwood Forest up St Albans way. A shuttle bus picked us up from the car park at a local school and ferried us to the end of a lane at the bottom of a hill (very precise location) that was flowing with mud of the exact consistency of melted chocolate. Squelch, squelch, squelch went our wellies.
Onward, dodging cow pats, we trudged up the hill, now grassy but still very muddy; the sky waxing moodier and the wind whipping our faces harder with every step. We were so high up that I swear the air was thinner and at one point, I did wonder what on earth we were doing. After a mile , noses dribbling and thighs itchy with unexpected exercise, we reached the top. Hurrah! We were greeted by volunteers who demonstrated to us how to plant a tree before trusting us with our own spades and a pile of oaks and other varieties (Elders, possibly?) to choose from. It involved digging big holes and putting in trees straight, so that the roots were not squashed and the tree would not grow wonky. Have you ever planted a tree? It was difficult but very satisfying to locate a space marked with an orange spray-painted dot, dig into the hard cold ground, jump on the spade to ram it into the soil and lever out a big blob. Mini-Me had a constant smile of pride on her face throughout the job and we got through about 3 trees before giving up, laying down our spades and racing past the soup 'n' bacon buttie stall, back down the hill. As if planting a tree wasn't enough reward for itself, we further indulged ourselves with hot chocolate and cake at a coffee shop in St Albans. It tasted all the better.

Apparently the best time for planting trees is between November and March so, if we have inspired you with our exploits, (whether or not you have environmental sins to atone for) you have just enough time to join in Heartwood Forest's last tree planting event of the season on Saturday 19th March between 10 am and 3 pm. Visit for more details or call 01476 581111.

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

Friday 18 February 2011

A new dawn a new day etc.

Okay. Here I go again. I'm tempted to write the date but I realise this is technology stuff and I don't have to because it does it for you. What's new? Loads and nothing. I'm about to take away 10p from my daughter's stash of 5p rewards (I will explain the reason for this stash later) due to the fact that it is a QUARTER PAST EIGHT!!!!! and she is not remotely ready for school having not even had her shower yet. I'm letting this blog entry do the shouting for me and will, having logged out and switched off, remain calm and collected. I will not mutter under my breath in a passive aggressive show of crossness. (I might, just a bit.)

Having written the above, I feel it is only fair in the spirit of full disclosure to confess that we are supposed to leave the house in 25 minutes and I'm sitting at the computer in my pyjamas having not even brushed my teeth or been to the loo since I woke up.


Tuesday 4 January 2011

Mummy on the Edge FamiliesNW Mag Jan Feb 2011

So, it's January and Mini-Me is a third of the way through Year 4. Now, I'm not going to take you with me on my current introspective journey of wonderment at how I on earth I reached this point, where I have sole leadership of a whole person with their own thoughts and ideas (sometimes more complete and reasoned than mine) or how I can see in slow-mo-car-crash-vision that I am influencing this person in ways that are beyond my capacity to prevent. Suffice to say, kids learn from what they see, not what you tell them. And this is becoming more apparent with every passing day: After instructing Mini-Me to amuse a friend's much younger daughter in her bedroom after volunteering myself to look after her for the afternoon, my daughter came to me, obviously perturbed, with her head in her hands stuttering “She’s touching everything! And standing on my books! And... and... I... I... I can’t cope!”. Yes, children learn from what they observe in the adults around them. So I am well aware that in Mini-Me’s case I have no one to blame but myself therefore, from now on I'm going to make a concerted effort to prevent any non-copeage on my part from seeping out from under the closed door of the loo. It's the least I can do.
I used to be the one to plug fingers in my state school ears and shout “I’m not listening I’m not listening!” when all the Speech and Drama mummies would gather around the table talking about prep schools and private schools and grammar schools and all other manner of Uber-Schools not aforementioned and homework and verbal reasoning and eleven plus blah blah blah! It ACTUALLY made me want to vomit with anxiety to the point where my brain rebelled and I decided that I would simply let nature take its course and Mini-Me would do well enough wherever she went and whatever happened. But last summer I had a life changing moment. My friend who has moved to Dubai was here for the summer and we had arranged for her little girl to have a sleepover with Mini-Me. She had enrolled her daughter in a Leaders are Readers summer school, so while Mini-Me was at the council-run Music and Art Camp banging drums, pouring rice into rain-makers and painting t-shirts, my friend's daughter was intensively studying Maths and English so as to prevent the stagnation of her brain while away from her posh and competitive school in Dubai.

So I went to pick her daughter up from North London Collegiate (the venue for the summer school) to bring her home. When I entered their hallowed grounds I felt myself gasp involuntarily. There was some kind of “aura” about the place. It was lovely. I don't even know why I thought it was lovely but it just was. I could feel myself starting to float as my body and mind became possessed by the absolute knowledge and surety that my Mini-Me was MEANT to study there (with a 100% bursary/ scholarship for there could be no other way) or in a place like it (i.e. Watford Grammar) . I made my way through the corridors of the artsy-fartsy wing which housed (I think) theatre studios and my mind pasted Mini-Me's head on to the pictures of the high-achieving acting types in black leotards and high achieving music types with flutes at their lips and harps at their hips (but I was in such a state I might even have conjured them in my head to begin with). Reader, I physically ached with longing for the opportunities I never had to be bestowed upon my child.

Well, after a term of inaction I have come to the late realisation that happy thoughts, lighting candles and cosmic ordering are, none of them going, to help Mini get into Uber-School. We are going to have to go down the extra-curricular route. This is before I've even established whether Uber-School is the right place for her. It might too intense. Thankfully, we still have time to figure that out. But after quizzing parents of Year 4s and 5s and 6s on subjects such as tutors and school choices and admissions (I've become that woman), I've come to the conclusion that it's wise to start preparing in some way for the possibility. I've been told that tutors are able to steer children in the direction of the specific school they are trying for. So I'm thinking I might actually give up lunch and central heating in favour of paying one! Before I do that, however, at risk of mutual strangulation, I suppose I could have a go myself. My sister passed down to me a lot of old books and papers from her kids who are now teenagers. Its all in a box ready for me to take it out and stare gormlessly at it. I've also found this nifty website called which contains lots of worksheets and activities. Not forgetting where you can find a maths worksheet creator.

With a little luck and a lot of patience, I might postpone a nervous breakdown long enough to see Mini-Me attain 13 A*s in her GCSEs at Uber-School (please, Universe!)