Tuesday, 31 December 2013

New Year's Resolutions, and all that jazz. (Why do I bother? I never keep the bl**dy things.)

Right, here goes: time for my New Year's resolutions. They won't take long, seeing as I can sum them up in a single sentence:

"Do everything differently next year, i.e. better."

Oh, and "Ignore over-active imagination", too.

It was Max who insisted I add that second resolution, but he won't tell me what any of his are – so I bet he's planning on everything remaining exactly the same. I can't say I'm surprised, but I bet other people's resolutions are much more interesting.

In fact, I'm so sure that's the case, that I'm going to go and email some of them now, to check. Back in a minute...




As usual, I was right, which is as unsatisfying as it always is. Here's the evidence:

  1. Improve roundhouse kick. Use padding. Don't kick Connie 'til aim improves.
  2. Grow longest beard in whole of UK. 
  3. Find out if wearing hat all the time is why fringe looks like pubic hair.
  4. Prove to Mum and Dad how much they favour bloody Connie.


  1. Find permanent contract after uni so don't ever have to move back to Mum and Dad's and live with Josh again.
  2. Pay Josh back for everything annoying he's ever done. Could take years.
  3. Get exposure therapy for thin hair/sticky-out-ears phobia, in case can only get customer-facing job.
  4. Prove to Mum and Dad how much they favour bloody Josh.


  1. Avoid all foods that newspapers say are bad for you. (Keep up-to-date on what those are.)
  2. Remember not to "like" every single thing on grandchildren's Facebook pages. (They don't like it, for unknown reason.)
  3. Remember not to leave comments on every photograph grandchildren post on Facebook. (They don't like that either.)
  4. Wear pants when leaving house. (Note from Molly: I added this one. The general public owe me a favour.)

Idiot Brother Robin:
  1. Show compassion in everything I do. (Think of Dalai Lama, when require encouragement.)
  2. Buy snakeskin briefcase, and sharkskin shoes. There's no rule saying Buddhists can't look sharp.
  3. Double 2013 winnings at poker.

  1. Sell house. Reduce price if necessary. 
  2. Convince Porn-Poon it will sell, and we can live it up, once it does.
  3. Disown Dinah if she doesn't stop telling people I fly Steradent Airlines every time I go to Thailand.
  4. Disown Cousin Mike for laughing when she doesEvery single bloody time. (He's only jealous.)
  5. Convince authorities to make rugby the Thai national game.

(He says his are in order of priority.)
  1. Lose the man-boobs.
  2. Find girlfriend I fancy but mother doesn't detest. Alternatively, get two girlfriends: one sexy, one not (considerably easier if resolution number one is kept).
  3. Get new job, for sane employer. (Rules out most MPs.)
  4. Drink more gin, until get new job.
  5. Get Molly sectioned if she doesn't also get new job this year.
  6. Sign up for political correctness refresher course. (Molly added this one. She's a wimp.)

The Boss:

  1. Decide whether for or against cycle helmets – once and for all. Can't spend whole life sitting on the fence: just look what that's done for Clegg.
  2. Refuse all requests for live interviews. (Molly added this one. Does she think I can't manage journalists safely by myself? Molly: "Yes".)
  3. Remind students about LibDems' broken tuition fees promise at every opportunity. I'm bound to get re-elected in 2015 if I do.

Greg says another five years of The Boss is a thought too horrible to contemplate, even if we would both be unemployed if Andrew were to lose his seat. 

"At least we'd probably get concessionary gym memberships if we didn't have jobs," he adds, when he phones to check if I received the copy of his resolutions and to find out what The Boss's were. "And we'd have tons of free time to use them, if we didn't have to bother going in to work. I'd definitely lose the man-boobs, then – and get laid."

I haven't got any man-boobs (and not much in the way of woman ones either), but even so, I'll drink to us both achieving the second part of Greg's last sentence. 

Oh, God – no, I won't! I've just read it back, and it sounded as if I meant I'd drink to having sex with Greg myself. That's a worse thought than having no sex at all. Much worse. In fact, I'm so traumatised by the idea, that I'm off to have a very large gin. And then another one, and another.

Happy New Year to all of you. Have a great time tonight, seeing out the old year, but do try to stay sober enough to avoid accidentally sleeping with anyone named Gregory Duke – or Andrew Sinclair (MP). Both may well be on the prowl.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Oops, forgot this: I made you all a Christmas card. (Am on an economy drive, hence the DIY.)

It's rubbish, but at least the thought was there.

Merry Christmas – and how a gift horse feels when it's looked smack bang in the mouth.

I am never buying Mum a Christmas present – ever again. Talk about ingratitude!

I'm trying to tart myself up, ready for this evening's festivities, when my straighteners decide to give up the ghost.

This is a disaster, because I am a victim of the manufacturers' conspiracy to ensure that, once we start straightening our hair, we will never, ever be able to stop. Not unless we want to spend the rest of our lives looking as if we've had a nasty shock – which we will, every time we look in a mirror.

Max doesn't try to shut me up by claiming I look "fine", either, so the situation's obviously worse than I thought.

I dive into the car and race round to Mum's.

"Can I borrow the straighteners I bought you last Christmas?" I say, at which Mum looks a bit confused.

She also looks extremely peculiar, as she's wearing snowflake-patterned knee socks and a tinsel hairband, so she must have got over her earlier lack of enthusiasm for the festive season. I haven't, mainly due to the state of my hair, which it'll take far more than tinsel to resolve.

"Straighteners?" says Mum eventually, after what feels like half an hour. Then, seeing my expression, she tries again: "Ah, yes, dear. Those straighteners. I'm not entirely sure where I've put them, at the moment. Your hair looks very nice, anyway, so I shouldn't worry about it."

This is an outrageous lie, which I treat with the contempt it deserves, so Mum looks half-heartedly behind the sofa cushions and in a couple of kitchen cupboards, before saying, "Maybe they're in my special drawer upstairs. You put your feet up, Molly, while I have a look."

I haven't got time for sitting down, so I ignore that instruction and instead follow Mum upstairs into the spare bedroom, where I watch as she pulls out an enormous drawer built into the base of the bed. I had no idea it existed until now, though it's far from obvious why it's so special.

I try to look inside as Mum pulls it open, but she moves in front of me, and tries to nudge me out of the way. When that doesn't work, she nudges a bit harder – and then a bit harder, as I resist – until we're almost pushing and shoving. I'm good at that, thanks to all the years I've spent watching Connie and Josh in action, and so eventually, experience pays off and I'm the winner  – which leaves me staring into the drawer in disbelief.

It seems to contain every single present I've bought Mum for at least the last five years, along with loads of other gifts from unknown donors, some still partially covered in wrapping paper.

Well, actually, I should have said every single present I've bought Mum, apart from the bloody straighteners. There's absolutely no sign of those, anywhere.

"Oh," says Mum, closing the drawer so fast that she shuts the hem of her skirt in it, and has to pull it open again. "I think I may have given them to Robin's new girlfriend, now I come to think of it. She's such a nice girl, isn't she?"

"No," I say, not because she isn't, but because if Mum didn't want the damned straighteners, she shouldn't have put them on her Christmas list, and then I wouldn't have had to spend a fortune on them – all so that idiot brother Robin's girlfriend will have lovely sleek, shiny hair when she arrives at my house in less than an hour. While I most certainly will not.

Mum tuts at my ungraciousness , and then helpfully suggests that I try a tinsel hairband like hers – which proves such a bad idea that now I'm going home, to borrow one of Josh's baseball caps. That's if any of those will fit over an atomic mushroom-style cloud of frizzy hair that makes me look as if I've been electrocuted. It's no wonder I have no sex life, is it, even during so-called celebrations?

Merry Christmas to those of you who do, anyway – unless you also manufacture straighteners. I'm going to suggest the Government deals with your irresponsible lack of product warnings, as soon as I return to work.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

The return of the prodigal wife, mother, daughter  – and senior caseworker. Metaphorical tail between her legs.

Well, I'm finally back, though for God's sake don't talk to me about oil barons – or MPs.

I'm probably not worth talking to at all, now I come to think of it, seeing as I haven't got anything of interest to add to a conversation. Life seems to have gone completely back to normal, except that it's almost time for Christmas, and nothing about Christmas could ever be described as that.

Before you know it, the whole thing will be over, though – which would be great, if Christmas wasn't immediately followed by New Year's Eve, when you're supposed to review your successes and failures over the past twelve months, and then work out how to have rather more of the former than the latter in the coming year.

That shouldn't be too difficult, given my total lack of anything even approaching an achievement during 2013. Or 2012. Or...I'm bored with this now, so I'm not going to think about New Year's Eve any more, or Christmas, either, if I can help it – which I can't, as forgetting about Christmas seems to be prohibited.

When did the shops start banging on about the so-called festive season this year? I'm sure it was even earlier than usual, which is totally counter-productive, if the effect on me is anything to go by. I haven't bought a single card or present yet, and I still haven't developed a sense of urgency either – precisely because I'm so aware that the fuss about Christmas starts too early. It makes me feel I've got forever to prepare for it.

I didn't even react when Mum mentioned the C-word when she phoned last night, to say that she's already fed up with it – until she added that this lack of enthusiasm meant that she and Ted wanted to come to our house for Christmas Day, instead of us going to theirs, as we usually do. I nearly had a heart attack at that point, and so did Max. He's still worrying about it when we get up this morning.

"What the hell are we supposed to cook for their Christmas dinner?" he says, as I'm struggling to pull my thermal leggings over fleece-lined tights. "There can't be anything left that your mother's still willing to eat, what with all the health-scare stuff she reads."

"She said they'll bring things with them, to go with whatever we're all having," I say. "She suggested what she called a healthy combination of quiche, pizza, avocados and cottage cheese. I'm not quite sure how the first two made the cut."

"Well, they'll go brilliantly with turkey and all the trimmings," says Max, rolling his eyes. "Though at least I won't have to make vegetarian gravy, I suppose. I doubt even your Mum eats that with quiche."

I consider not responding to this, in an effort to avoid annoying Max further, but then decide I probably should. Respond, I mean, not make him more annoyed. (I'm working on the principle that honesty's the best policy from now on – the "from now on" part being the crucial factor, as that means that I don't have to mention Johnny.)

"Um, I think you will, Max," I say, wincing. "Ted's given up dairy, so he doesn't want the same as Mum. He wants vegetarian sausages...with gravy. He hasn't read that article she keeps quoting about soya and its effect on thyroid function yet."

"Well, obviously neither he nor your mum give a toss about the effect cooking their Christmas dinner will have on my health," says Max, demonstrating even less festive cheer than that with which Mum is currently endowed. "I can feel my blood pressure rising, at the thought of it."

His spirits look as if they're plunging in the opposite direction as he stalks off downstairs, turning the thermostat down as he passes it, and then flicking off all the light switches that Josh has left turned on – so I'd better think of something to cheer him up.

It's a bit of a challenge, in the middle of a recession, and with energy companies doing their best to bankrupt everyone bar themselves. Especially everyone blessed with a teenager whose only contribution to the cost of energy bills is to add to them – not that I can blame Josh for the latest rise in the price of gas and electricity. I'm pretty sure we've got Ed Miliband to thank for that.

If he'd had the sense to keep quiet about his plan to freeze the cost of energy, and waited to surprise the companies with it if he gets elected – I mean when he gets elected (must try much harder to sound as if I think that's likely) – then it wouldn't have occurred to them to raise their prices in anticipation, would it?

You'd think Ed and his "special" advisors would have thought of that, seeing as I have – and I'm only a lowly MPs' caseworker. (I put the apostrophe in MPs' after the P to start with, which resulted in "a lowly MP's caseworker", which was probably equally accurate.)

Anyway, I can't sit here tinkering with apostrophes when I'm supposed to be coming up with ways to cheer Max up...and there's no point me trying to do Ed Miliband's thinking for him, either. According to Mr Beales, the unions are already in charge of that.

I join Max in the kitchen, where he's staring hopelessly at a vegetarian cookbook I bought some time in the early 1980s, when all non-meat dishes were apparently brown and mushy-looking, according to the photographs. Max doesn't seem to find those at all inspiring.

"It could be worse," I say, rather too brightly, as Max looks distinctly optimistic for all of a second. "At least Dad's in Thailand this year, so you won't have to fight him for the remote control on Christmas Day."

Max doesn't even bother to pretend to be impressed.

"Is that really the best you could do, Mol?" he says. "I thought you were supposed to have political skills."

That's number one on my New Year's resolutions list, then, isn't it? Improve my political skills. Let's hope it's on Ed Miliband's, too. Oh, and The Boss's.