Thursday, 22 September 2011

The Pyrex dish mystery.

I don’t know about yours, but my husband is not perfect. He has a few incredibly irritating habits.

A friend told me about a British Persian (I think?) comedian who had a joke about her husband annoying her. You see, she said, it is his breathing. It is constant. In and out. In and out. We laughed at that joke because, after 11 years of marriage, some annoying habits do tend to...well, annoy.

One of the most annoying habits my husband has is his total inability to look for things. I can sort of understand his frustration, as I, myself, get really annoyed when something I am looking for hides from me- on purpose, simply to drive me insane. So yes, I get frustrated, but I don’t tend to blame other people for it.

Today, husband was preparing macaroni cheese for our older child in the kitchen, whistling to the radio. Suddenly, the whistling stopped and in a few seconds, I jumped from the noise of kitchen dishes being shoved about in a deliberately noisy fashion.

Husband was searching for a specific Pyrex dish. Of course, as soon as he realized it was missing from where it normally lives, he blamed Someone for misplacing it.  Someone must have broken it, husband suggested. Someone is usually my mother, and if she is not around- me, of course. Since I have not cooked a thing in the past few months, I was obviously not guilty. ‘I did not touch it!’ my mother claimed. 

Husband did not feel we appreciated the importance of the dish enough.  Without it, my poor starving child was not getting her macaroni cheese. The dish was the only one of the right size. It was his parents’ wedding present. They kindly ( and very generously) passed it on to us. It lasted an awfully long time, and now, it was gone. Gone! And the child was going to be very hungry and very sad. And we clearly did something to it, and now were covering up the crime.

I think, he told me, I remember you taking something to your friend Z the other day in it. I did not, of course, take any food to any friends. Husband was making it up. 

As we stood there, opening the cupboards one after another and looking in every possible corner of the kitchen, my mother quietly walked into the garden. It is here!!! We suddenly heard her call out. 

The Pyrex dish, still dirty from the BBQ we had a few weeks ago, was hiding inside Husband’s baby- the smoke-n-pit BBQ set. Since it was his BBQ, which Someone never cooks in, it became instantly apparent to all the involved parties who had, in fact, misplaced the f*****ing Pyrex dish. 

'I told you', I said, smiling lovingly, 'that it was you who used it last, and therefore you who had misplaced it.'

'No', husband said happily, 'you guys must have hidden it there! Very clever!'

Have you heard, I asked him, that the domestic violence from women towards men has increased dramatically in the UK in the past year?
I wonder why.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Need help? Get an arse pair.

I like big butts and I cannot lie
You other brothers can't deny
That when a girl walks in with an itty bitty waist
And a round thing in your face
You get sprung
Wanna pull up tough
Cuz you notice that butt was stuffed
Deep in the jeans she's wearing

Mixalot Sir, I Like Big Buts

Oh, no. My mother is going back to Baku after a few months of staying with us. That means, I will be left without my dæmon. 

'Well,' Husband announced in his usual supportive manner, 'you will just have to cope by yourself, like everybody else.'

The truth is, however, that not everybody does. In reality, every mother I know has her own ways of getting help. Some have their family living nearby, others have mother’s help or nannies coming a few times a week, or au pairs living with them. 

Au pairs are possibly the cheapest form of help a middle class yummy mummy can hope to have in this country. They cook, clean, look after the children and generally help around the house. The only problem with them, of course is that they are a live-in help. I.e. they live in your house, every day and every night. That might suit some people, but for others it can be an interesting hmm...situation.

That is what one of my mummy friends discovered when she decided to go back to full-time job and hire an au pair from abroad. 

Here you have two choices. 

You can be Azeri about it and bring a “relative” to visit you for six month, such as a distant cousin, who basically is someone you pay pennies, provide food for and basically employ illegally. Once the visa expires, you bring someone else. Or, like this friend of mine, you can go along the legal route and hire someone properly. 

The legal way with au pairs in the UK is to hire someone young, often Eastern European, someone who wants to get the experience of living in the UK and study English.

So this is what my friend chose to do. When she introduced me to her new au pair, I noticed that the girl was reasonably pretty, incredibly young and Eastern European. She turned out to be Hungarian.  One thing that I remembered most of all from her image, for some reason, was her enormous arse. It was round, perky and squeezed in very tight jeans.
'Interesting!', I said. 'So you are okay with a 20+ year old Hungarian girl (read: with an enormous arse) to move into your house and live with you and your husband? '

'Yes, why not?' My friend asked defensively. She clearly did not see the Hungarian arse as a threat. 

A few months on, we met again at her lovely big house in the countryside. A much older, not very good-looking lady was helping at the kitchen. Later, after a couple of glasses of vine, my friend started to explain the change in the house. 

The Hungarian girl had to go, she said. It just did not feel right to have such a young girl living with them. She hated the fact that it made he appear insecure or unfair. 'Look!' she said, as I started laughing, 'she really was not that good at her job!'

'Come on!' I said. 'Just confess. It is not about her being not good enough. It is about that sexy arse in tight jeans'

My friend jumped up on the sofa in excitement. ‘Well, yes! Did you see that arse???!!!!’

‘Did I see it!?’ I said. ‘I saw nothing but the arse!’ 

It turned out, the sexy curvy arse did not go unnoticed in the village. 

‘When I return from work....’ her neighbour said to her once, ‘and see your au pair walking in front of me....I just know I am home.'

My friend tried to be reasonable, but the tight jeans and the curvy arse was everywhere she looked. And- of course!-she trusted her husband. But why, she asked thoughtfully, would you make yourself vulnerable?  Why bring the temptation right into your house?

The girl was also a bit silly. You see, here is a good lesson, in case you are in your early twenties, have a peachy arse, like to pack it into tight jeans and want to learn some English by working for a family in the UK: Do not stay up late watching TV with the husband when the wife is so tired from the day in the office, she has to go to bed early. Not a good idea, my friend. Be friendly, but not with the husband. And trust me, your love for football (that makes you stay up late to watch a match) will not keep you employed.

‘So now...’my friend said, ‘I have this old lady’. Her husband was not happy, she added. He constantly complained that the new au pair is too old and did not do things right. 

'Oh, Husband walked in on our little chat. 'You don’t have your pretty au pair anymore?'

Both my friend and I attacked him like a two-headed dragon. Was she pretty? Did he think she was?!!!! Did he? Did he???!!!!

Husband sensed the danger. 'Well, I thought she was nice’, he said tentatively. 

'I bet you did', I thought, making a mental note to never hire a 20+ Eastern European au pair.

Saturday, 10 September 2011


While on holiday in Wales, I accidentally stepped on something. Maybe, it was a thorn from a plant, or a tiny fragment of a shell. I thought I pulled it out but clearly, not all of it came out. So, a couple of days ago, over a week after it had happened, the toe started to hurt. Quite badly, I have to say. 
What do I do? I asked Husband, who had a medical background. Nothing he said. He spent years in medical school to be taught that most of the things get better on their own. But I could not just do nothing, you see. The problem was the toe was so sore I could not step on it. And, because I could not step on it, I was walking like a demented crab, which in turn made my whole leg and hip sore. So I had to get the frigging thing out, whatever it was. 

Trying to dig it out did not work. ‘Told you, leave it!’ Husband said.

I went to the chemist. Help, I cried. Not only my wrist is sore from carrying the car seat with the baby, not only my ankle is twisted, not only my left breast is about to drop off...but now I can’t even step on my big toe!
The chemist sold me a few things. First, she sold me magnesium sulphate paste, which was meant to draw the nasty thing out. Secondly, she sold me some cushioning plasters to protect the affected area. And thirdly, another plaster to hold it all in place.

I got home and tried to fix myself a complicated bandage out of two types of plasters and the paste. It held on for about an hour and then fell off, leaving me still limping. Suddenly, my mother got very excited.

‘I completely forgot!’ she said, ‘I brought you some Naftalan! Put it on!’

Hold on a minute, Husband ears pricked up at the familiar word. That is just crude oil. It is smelly and disgusting and is not going to cure anything at all. It will just make the whole house stink. How could I believe in such silly witch medicine, he wanted to know.

But I was desperate. Who knows? Maybe it has some therapeutic quality after all. And if it does not work, what is the worst that could happen? I would have a stinky toe for a day.
I squeezed the paste on to the toe, bandaged it and went to bed. 

In the morning, after a shower, I looked at the toe.  A tiny black thorn was more visible now. I pulled on it, squeezed a little...and it came right out.

I texted husband at work to let him know the Naftalan magic worked. 

‘It is a coincidence!’ he said. 

‘Of course it is, sunshine’ I replied. 

Husband was annoyed. He proceeded to explain to me how there was no way! Naftalan paste could have helped me. As for me, I have no idea. It could be? that it was Naftalan that made the splinter come out. Or it might have been the magnesium sulphate that I’d put on earlier that day. It really depends on what sort of person you are, I guess. Whether you believe in magic or coincidence. Medicine of alternative medicine. Or a bit like me- slap a bit of both on and hope one of them would work. Honestly? I dont care which one did it.  I can walk again. But, just in case, I might hold on to that tube of Naftalan.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Two and a half Azeris on an English train, or about various buttons.

I am back! After two weeks of vacation with no broadband and no laptop, I feel like I have time travelled and returned, back to the future.

Travelling up to North Wales is never fun, but with a tiny baby is quite painful. To be honest, we were lucky, as the baby did not cry or have one of her shit disasters. But, with having to stop and feed every three hours, we took over eight hours to get to my in-laws.

So, being clever, you see...I decided that, actually, it would be faster and easier to go back on the train. You take back the car, I told Husband, and all the heavy stuff; and I will go back on the train, with my mother and the kids. Brave? Or stupid, I hear you think?

Well, why not, I thought. I had my mother with me, I was not alone. Also, I have lived in this country for 11 years! I commuted to and from work; I travelled by trains lots of times. No problemo!

We got to the station in Bangor and the fun started. Our coach was coach K. With nobody on the platform to ask, we had to listen to the announcements and plan to position ourselves close enough to the right coach so we would have the time to board with: a pushchair, an older child, a small but inexplicably heavy suitcase, and two bags full of treats, colouring pens, a Nintendo DS (+ 5 games) wipes and cardigans. The trains in the UK do not mess about. You might get two minutes to board, not much longer. You take the bags I said to my mother, I get on and you pass me the pushchair....we planned everything in advance and finally found where to stand for the coach K, which, just for fun, was at the very front of the train and not at the back as any logic would suggest.

Once on the train, I hesitated. I did see the letter K from outside, but for some reason, once I was inside the train, I was confused which way to turn. So I went to the right.  Walking through the connecting...whatever those are called?- bits in between the coaches, I realized my mother was taking an awfully long time to catch up with us. She finally made it through, looking completely stressed out and sweaty. 'I think!', she shouted, 'the coach K is on the other side'

Okay, I said and we turned around, pushing through with the heavy pushchair with the sleeping baby, the bags and the older child....This time my mother was in front of me and to my horror, I noticed that, instead of pushing the button to release the automatic door, my mother was trying to prise the doors open with her hands. Mama! -I exclaimed- Push the button!

The buttons were not hidden. In fact, they had bright yellow light shining invitingly through them. But to my mum, using brutal force made more sense. No wonder she was looking exhausted, and took so long to catch up with us.

After 2,5 hrs of relatively peaceful journey, we needed to change to another train. I already had a bad feeling about this part as, according to my itinerary, we only had 12 minutes to change the trains. I was, however, assured by family members that the connecting train was on the same platform. Just cross it and it will be on the other side, they said.

I decided to use the toilet in advance. Just in case. Walking through from one carriage to another, I knew there were there somewhere. But I simply could not see them. I made my way through a few carriages and back, until I finally realized that the toilets were carefully designed into a curved wall that looked like... well, just a curved wall. There were no handles or obvious signs. Just a small drawing of a lady changing a baby and another button to push. Inside, it was all about buttons. A button to close the curved door, a button to lock it...
'Don’t even try,' I told my mother who was planning to visit the loos after me. 'Honestly. Someone will catch you with your pants down as you will probably not find the way to look the door. That is if you are lucky enough to even find the toilets to start with!'

Mother decided she did not need to go after all.

But the worst part was still to come. The first train, despite all the clever buttons, was of course, running late. You have to remember we are still in the UK, after all. I stood at the door counting minutes. Please! I thought, hurry! And then- of course!-the connecting train was not leaving from the opposite platform. I did not know where the hell it was leaving from. All I knew was that I had no time left. Neither did I know the final destination of the train, which made the electronic boards with train times and platforms pointless. I had my suspicion, based on the departure time alone, that the train we needed was leaving from a platform far, far away. But it might not have been the right train.  One thing that would be worse than missing our train was getting on the wrong train.

The rest was all a blur. I saw the information button. I pressed it. it took a while for a man with a heavy Indian accent to answer. Please I begged trying not to sound hysterical. What platform do I need for the 17:13 train to Watford Junction? He only confirmed my suspicions. I had to run up the endless stairs across the bridge and down to another platform. All in less than 3 minutes. And so we ran. My mother, terrified at the sight of me running with the pushchair, kept up behind me with the bags and the suitcase, shouting at me to slow down and be careful, until I lost it and shouted back. And before you ask, yes I know they had lifts. But I had no time to find them.

We made it just seconds before the train took off.  Our hair messed up, faces sweaty, and, as we say, hearts beating in our throats, we collapsed on seats. Considering that we did manage to get back, the baby never cried even once, the older child did not get lost on the way, and the pushchair arrived in one piece....I felt that the journey went pretty well.  But let me tell you.