Monthly Archives: July 2009

I heart ebay

I heart ebay

Well, let me first apologise for not having blogged for quite a while; I’ve been busy, but I’ve also been lazy and indulging in that procrastination I talked about not that long ago.  But onwards.

Like a lot of people I love ebay.  It never fails to amaze me some of the crap that people will attempt to sell or that some muppet, somewhere, will most probably buy it.  I’ve sold a fair amount on there myself, I had a wardrobe full of dresses I’d never worn and knew I was never going to wear so I got rid of them.  Had I have thought about it a bit more carefully I probably would have started them off at more than 99p because a lot of very nice things went for pretty much bugger all.  But so what?  They weren’t doing anything and collectively they made me a fair bit.

I’ve run out of things to sell now so I spend lots of time looking for things I might like to buy.  It’s fun.  Especially if you can get stuff really cheap, which you can if you’re prepared to look.  I’ve recently bought some tops and trousers for me and a load of baby clothes for the Popster.  That’s right, I buy baby clothes on ebay.  Second hand!  And no, they aren’t all covered in poo and sick, I’ve managed to get some very good stuff for a song.  Now, if you go to the right places (i.e. supermarkets and Primark), you can get some pretty cheap baby clothes but if you get a fair few bits and pieces it soon mounts up.  And the thing is with kids that they have this annoying habit of growing, and continuing to grow until eventually they stop growing only to declare themselves big enough to buy their own clothes.  It’s rather inconsiderate.  So, with the exception of vests and sleepsuits, I buy pretty much everything for her on ebay.

Obviously I don’t just buy any old crap in her size, I like to think I’m a bit more discerning than that but, again, if you’re prepared to put the effort in there are some real gems.  Something I can’t believe, however, is how much “designer” stuff is on there.  In a bundle of clothes I got today there’s a DKNY t-shirt and a Levi’s denim skirt as well as some other stuff that purports to be designer.  I am clueless so couldn’t tell you if it is or if it isn’t.  But I had a look and stuff like that bought new costs upwards of £20.  £20!  For a single item of babywear!  I’m hard pressed to spend £20 on a single item of clothing for myself, never mind for a baby that will have grown out of it in about 5 minutes.  What is wrong with people?  Don’t get me wrong, they’re nice and everything but there’s no way I’d have bought them if they hadn’t been in a bundle with tons of other clothes for 30 quid.

I fail to understand why people want to parade their children around in labelled clothes.  Surely it’s more important that your child is clean and happy?  It seems to me that these people are displaying their children as a status symbol, in much the same way that they do when they buy ridiculously expensive buggies and prams.  “I’ve got a Bugaboo Bankruptme”, “well, I’ve got a Silver Cross Sawyoucoming”, “oh, well we plumped for the Quinny Can’t-get-anything-in-the-shopping-basket-but-it-still-cost-an-arm-and-a-leg-and-we-had-to-buy-this-matching-rucksack-for-another-hundred-notes for our *little one*”.  It’s a competition, you know, between self-styled “yummy mummies” (vomit), who know nothing about parenting but think it’s very important to have the most ridiculous looking expensive buggy or pram on the market to impress all the other mummies.  Or make them jealous.

This makes me cross.  I seriously doubt the necessity of an “all-terrain pushchair” in the middle of suburbia, especially when most mummies rarely dare to venture out of their illegally parked Chelsea tractor other than to nip and get their nails done.  And I also doubt these all-terrain jobs are any more hard wearing that the reasonably priced travel system that we got for the Popster.  But I’ll let them get on with their shallow competitions, happy in the knowledge that while they’re ringing up I’vespentallmymoney Direct to take out an IVA or declare themselves bankrupt, I’m picking up their hand-me-downs on ebay for peanuts.

Friends like these

Friends like these

The other day I had a phone call from my friend.  “All right, pissflaps” she said, “Just a quickie.”  Inside I groaned, I always do, because this meant I had to perform miracles in computer support for someone who is utterly clueless.  And who uses the word pissflaps as a term of endearment.  She described the symptoms of her latest technological fail.  “Press F11.” said I.  Problem solved.  “Cheers, minge, laters.”  Lovely.

Now, it can be pretty tiresome when people want you to help them with their computing difficulties but in some cases I don’t mind.  My friend really doesn’t have a scooby about it despite repeated attempts on my part to teach her the odd thing.  You’d think that just by using the computer she’d pick up a few things but, no, she’s surprisingly resistant. I helped her decide which computer to buy and I put it together for her.  I was there when the man from the cable company came to install broadband and I made sure it was all working.  I’m nice like that.  So it may surprise you to learn that she’s one of my friends from prison.  And in fact I was still in prison when I went to set up her computer for her, and I used one of my town visits to go there.

I’ve mentioned before the stereotypical people I was expecting in prison and the fact that although they were in evidence there were far fewer than I expected.  But going to prison I never imagined I’d make actual friends, the like of whom I’d stay in touch with even when it was all over.  But I have.  OK, so none of them live anywhere near me and I never actually see them but the odd phone call, text message or chat on MSN or facebook is enough to know that they’re still there.  And still calling me biatch.

A lot of people came and went, the vast majority of those I came into contact with had sentences of less than 18 months so there was always a high turnover.  Although you can have a passing friendship with someone you know for 3 months you don’t really expect to hear from them again.  Maybe the odd letter when they’ve first gone home but it soon peters out, especially as most people want to forget they ever were in prison.  No, the ones I had genuine friendships with were those with longer sentences that were always there at the same time as me, some of whom are still inside.  And we had a laugh, we made the most of things, we watched TV, ate quality snacks, played cards and took the mickey out of each other.  This will sound bad (especially to Daily Mail readers) but most of the time it felt like we were at boarding school.  Not that I’ve been to boarding school but I do know people that have, and this is how I’d imagined it to be.  There was a camaraderie among us and I’m sure it’s one of the reasons why I came out with all my faculties intact.  Yes they are intact, how very dare you.

So next time the phone goes and the dulcet tones of my friend demand assistance I will happily oblige, after all it was partly her help that got me through it all.  And I’ll call her shithead.  In the nicest possible way.

Why do today what you can put off…oh sod it, I’ll think of a title tomorrow

Why do today what you can put off…oh sod it, I’ll think of a title tomorrow

I really should write down the things I want to blog about because I had a great idea earlier and lo and behold it’s gone now.  It’s one of those things that sits on the edge of your consciousness goading you by allowing you to almost remember it and then just buggering off,  never to be thought of again.  It’s still goading me right now, damn it.  This is why I have bought notebooks for that book I keep threatening to write.  Every time I remember something I want to include I shove in a word or phrase that I hope won’t be too cryptic when it comes to writing.  If only I could stop procrastinating.  I am very, very bad.

The thing is, who wouldn’t procrastinate when there are so many exciting things to do all day when you don’t work?  My days are jam packed with such fun activities as changing the baby’s nappy, hoovering the carpets, loading and unloading the dishwasher and, my personal favourite, tormenting the dog.  Or rather, being tormented by the dog.  Why does she lick my legs?  I bloody hate that.  Now, housework isn’t something I’m particularly keen on or even good at.  If I had a choice I wouldn’t do it at all.  This is why I regularly invite people round for cake and stuff because it forces me to do it.  I’d die of shame if they knew what a tip the place normally is.  It really annoys me that I kill myself one day cleaning the place only for it to have reverted back to a pigsty the very next day.  How does this happen?  I’m sure it wasn’t me.  But I’ve blogged about this before, I won’t bore you with it again.

And it isn’t the only excuse I use for procrastination although if you were to visit at the moment you’d notice I’m less exhausted looking because I’ve been keeping on top of it for once.  Because that way I don’t have time to sit down and take notes for my book.  Or do the testing I’m supposed to be doing.  Or contact all those companies for that business idea I had.  What is wrong with me?  Any one of those things could be a money spinner.  Don’t I want to earn any money of my own?  I’d love to, really.  I do not enjoy being a kept woman, I’d like to be able to pay my own way, even if it’s only a token amount.  But the routine of the day and keeping my daughter occupied and fed rather takes over, especially now she’s so mobile and requires constant watching lest she disappear up the stairs.  She’s so quick now, damn it.  So I do the cleaning when she has a nap and chase after her when she’s awake.  Somewhere in the day I need to squeeze in some exercise too if I’m ever going to fit in to my clothes, the vast majority of which are size 10.  I’m very much not a size 10 at the moment.  After all that there’s barely time to add in a peppering of daytime television and, oh look, the whole day’s gone.  Rubbish.

So this is a plea.  Somebody, somewhere, PLEASE direct a hefty kick up my arse and get me going with my book, my testing and my business idea.  If I’m successful you may even get a share of the profits or a job.  Although it’s far more likely to be a lollipop.

Super-hospital, pah

Super-hospital, pah

Yesterday saw the opening of the brand new “super hospital” next to the existing “not so super hospital” or, in fact, “very shit hospital”, Queen Alexandra in Cosham, near Portsmouth.  It’s been a long time in the making but there it is, all spanky and new with its own helipad and everything.  Doubtless, though, the multi-storey car park won’t yet be open and there will still only be 20 spaces in the car park and massive queues to get one.  And fisticuffs. (I don’t know this for sure, by the way, I’m purely speculating based on my sadly extensive experience of QA)  Now, while this used to be just an irksome reality forcing you to leave home some 4 hours before an appointment or before you were off to visit someone, it’s now a bit more of a worry.  Because they’ve moved ALL maternity services to QA now for the whole of Portsmouth.  How many babies are going to be born on London Road because of the traffic?  It doesn’t bear thinking about.

Of course, there’s every chance they’ve sorted the parking and it’s all fine and dandy (and probably cripplingly expensive).  But I’m still a bit worried about getting there.  For those of you that don’t know Portsmouth, it’s a small island city, very densely populated and with only three routes off it.  The QA hospital is just north of the island and fairly close to two of those routes.  The problem is the traffic.  There’s far too much of it.  If anything happens on one of those routes the whole city grinds to a halt.  I’ve seen it and it isn’t pretty.  So, if you go into labour in rush hour and there’s been an accident on the M275 you’re buggered.  Or you’d better hope they send you a helicopter.  Except they won’t be able to land unless you live near the common, the beach or one of the parks.  You could, feasibly, get the train to Cosham, but then you’d have to walk halfway up Portsdown Hill while you suffer a contraction every minute or your waters break all over the place.  I don’t think you’d make it to be honest.

Anyway, it wasn’t really that I wanted to talk about and I’m worried I’ve now terrified my heavily pregnant friend into packing up her stuff and camping outside QA until she goes into labour.  Sorry, Mrs B.  No, what I really wanted to talk about was the maternity services themselves which have now fully relocated to QA from St Mary’s Hospital (which is actually in Portsmouth and you could argue, therefore, more convenient to the people of Portsmouth).  Thus far I have had three babies, all at St Mary’s Hospital.  In fact, I was born there myself.  So was my husband.  So were most of my friends.  Portsmouth’s a bit like that.  Babies 1 and 2, my lovely boys, were born in 1997 and 1999 and were fairly straight forward, no worries during the pregnancy and pretty standard births.  That bit really hurts by the way.  I mean REALLY.  I wasn’t there for long and even went home the same day when number 2 son was born.  The midwives seemed OK, only one of them was scary and the only problem I really had was that number 2 son was born when their shifts changeover in the morning.  To her credit the midwife stayed for as long as she could but as soon as he was out and OK all I saw was her dust as she hotfooted it home to bed.

But then, at the end of 2007, I got pregnant with Poppy.  Or the Popster as we like to call her.  I am lucky in the respect that I got pregnant very quickly but I suspect that’s where my luck ran out because Miss P was a bit of a problem child from the off.  What a monkey.  Now, in my limited experience as a reluctant pregnant woman (reluctant in the sense that I suffer rather a lot with stupid things like migraines and swollen ankles and have a bit of a tendency to moan about it a lot) I’d noticed that things keep changing.  They change their minds every year about what you can and can’t eat, how long you should breastfeed (I think that’s until you die of old age now) and now when you should have scans.  They give you more now, it’s really quite good apart from the fact you have to pay for the prints.  Pfft.

But how, and where you see your midwife also seems to change, especially if you’ve changed doctors in the interim period.  Since it had been 8 or 9 years since I’d had a baby I’d most definitely changed doctor and was a bit bewildered by the procedure.  There didn’t seem to be one.  Which is why I found myself calling the community midwives number as directed by my doctor to try and get an appointment, only to find myself being treated in a very dismissive and extremely rude way by the woman who answered the phone.  She might as well have told me to fuck off.  Several phone calls later and I’d sorted out an appointment, with the rude woman.  You really shouldn’t ever piss off a pregnant woman because I was gunning for her by this stage.  I knew perfectly well that it was the same woman on the phone but I declared that I’d like to make a complaint about my ill-treatment from the VERY rude woman to whom I had previously spoken and I demanded an appointment.  She was suitably sheepish and even admitted it was her I had spoken to but that she wasn’t being rude.  Yeah right.  The reason I’m telling you this rather long-winded tale is that the same thing happened to my friend today.  She only has a couple of weeks left and is suffering with pain in her hands so her own midwife gave her specific instructions to call the hospital to make an appointment asap and get it treated.  The treatment she received by the woman on the phone was atrocious, she was told there was nothing they could (or perhaps would) do this close to the birth and that she was blocking the phone line for people who were in labour.  In other words, fuck off.  My friend was very upset, as you would be.  She was only following instructions.  I was upset for her, which is why I’m writing this today.  They may have a shiny new hospital to play with but it seems they don’t have the shiny new attitudes to go with it.

Anyway, back to the Popster.  At the time I was due a scan they changed how they were done so instead of the old dating scan which didn’t show you much you now get a detailed scan where, if you want to know, they will even tell you the sex of your baby.  At mine they told me that my placenta was low-lying and that I’d need an extra scan later on to make sure it had grown out of the way.  I didn’t think much of it and didn’t really worry about it.  Only when I went back several weeks later it seemed it hadn’t moved and was blocking the pesky baby’s exit route.  Arse.  The midwife doing the scan told me I’d have to have a caesarean and seemed amazed I hadn’t been bleeding.  I must say, I was pretty alarmed.  I came home, looked up the condition they’d diagnosed, placenta praevia, and was even more alarmed.  It’s not nice and can be pretty dangerous.  Great.  The hospital had booked me an appointment with a consultant some 2 weeks later (!) and this, sadly is where things became a little bit farce like, all because of a tiny typo.  You see the midwife had accidentally left the V off the roman numeral IV making it look as though I had a mild case instead of a very severe one.  Oh dear.  I saw the consultant and was a little bit bewildered.  He said I didn’t need to worry, it was only a grade 1 praevia and there was a good chance I’d be able to have a normal birth.  I was certain the midwife had said I would HAVE to have a c-section but did I say anything?  Did I?  No, of course not.  I’d kind of expected him to be looking at stills from the scan while I was there.  Silly me.

Another scan was booked for a couple of weeks later, I saw the same midwife and she confirmed that it was very serious and that the slight communication problem had massively played down my condition.  She was still amazed that I hadn’t been bleeding, and I was still alarmed.  What I should have been doing was taking it very easy.  What I had been doing was as much as I could.  Oops.  I’d even, earlier on, attempted a 3 mile run.  This resulted in much puking.  I am an idiot.  A new appointment was made with the consultant, this time only 3 days later.  Only I never made it because I ended up in hospital the day before because of bleeding.  I was 35 weeks pregnant and a little bit scared.  And they wouldn’t let me go home and made me wear very sexy anti-embolism stockings.  The mistake had been realised and now they were going to make sure I did take it easy in the hope that they could give me an elective c-section at 37 weeks instead of an emergency one at any time.  Luckily I held on.  And, for all the faults of the vile woman on the end of the phone, the staff were fantastic and I was extremely well looked after.  I had the best of everything, anaesthetist, surgeon etc.  I was just bored out of my tiny mind for 2 weeks waiting for it to happen and always on tenterhooks for an emergency.  I read books, watched movies on my laptop, even surfed tinternet a bit and watched the chavs who were outside smoking for the rest of the time.  There were loads.  Most of them were pregnant.

I had my c-section under general anaesthetic and it was horrible, I woke up groggy and in lots of pain but the morphine was marvellous.  I’ll never understand why people would choose a c-section but hey.  Popster was fine, very puffy looking, but fine.  After 2 weeks stuck in hospital I was determined to get out as quickly as possible and went home after 2 days.  Result.  Poppy will be a year old at the end of this month and I can’t believe how quickly the time’s gone.  She’s still a cheeky monkey.

Three wise monkeys?

Three wise monkeys?

I feel I must apologise if I’ve gone into any gory detail, I really am not one of those kind of mothers.  But I do feel compelled to tell my good friend Mrs B not to worry about the staff, you came across one idiot but the vast majority are great and you’ll be fine in the spanky new hospital.  They’ll look after you and baby Tiberius very well. :o)

NB The baby won’t really be called Tiberius.  Or will it???

So many scumbags

So many scumbags

There are some scumbags in the world.  Last night one or more of them broke into my dad’s garage, stole all of his tools and his 1952 Velo Solex, a kind of bicycle with an engine, his latest pride and joy.  He has an eye for the unusual, my dad, his “boat”, an Escapade, is in fact a kind of pedalo, only a bit cooler and without the swan neck at the top.  And no child sick.  I think it has a go faster stripe and everything and it’s surprisingly nippy.  He ALWAYS gets an audience when he takes it out which is, I suspect, why he has it.  His car is an MG Midget the colour of, well, diarrhoea.  MG say “bracken” but no, diarrhoea.

Anyway, the engine of the Solex wasn’t attached at the time and the thieves left that behind, as clearly they didn’t know what it was they were stealing.  Which begs the question, why bother?  It’s obviously a very old bike and you’re hardly going to get much for that, especially without the engine if by some miracle you actually knew what it was you had.  I can’t imagine a Burberry cap wearing chav larking about on it, not even in Portsmouth.  I’m worried that the bastards will just dump it somewhere meaning that the whole exercise, apart from getting a lifetime’s worth of tools, was mostly pointless and only served to upset.  And, of course, the police were no use, sending a “scene of crime officer” no doubt with “SOCO” emblazoned on the back of their jacket in CSI stylee.  Nice.  Apparently they faffed about looking for fingerprints and couldn’t find a single one.  You could argue they’d also struggle to find their arse with both hands.  Just saying.

I too had a fairly recent brush with some scumbags.  These ones were particularly blatant and less than bright.  The weather was pants, it had been raining and very windy and I noticed one day that my shed door had blown open.  I didn’t think much of it as I had things to do but later in the day I noticed some stuff had also somehow got outside the shed.  Namely an old headboard, some wood and a bike.  Now, I couldn’t be sure they hadn’t always been outside the shed, at least until I saw two hoodies walk out of my shed carrying another bike.  In broad daylight!  I couldn’t believe my eyes!  I didn’t really know what to do.  I paced a bit and went looking for the phone.  Was this enough of an emergency to call 999?  I wasn’t sure.  But I didn’t want them to get away with any of my stuff so I went to the patio door and banged loudly on it.  Shitbags 1 and 2 turned round, clocked me and legged it over the back wall from whence they came.

I dialled 999 gave the description, checked the shed to see if they’d actually got anything but wasn’t sure.  One of the quick release wheels was missing from one of our bikes but apart from that I couldn’t tell.  But about 5 minutes later I had a call, a police officer had responded and caught one of the little buggers.  How unusual!  He had a bike and they wanted to know if it was ours, but sadly I couldn’t be sure one way or the other.  And despite the fact my description matched exactly what the little bastard was wearing the CPS decided not to proceed.  Even though the policeman had caught him red-handed and he’d resisted arrest too.  I’m not a fan of the CPS.  (If you’ve not caught my earlier posts, why not?  And why I don’t rate the criminal justice system starts at Hope Springs?)

The thing is, I am very vocal about rehabilitation of offenders and passionate about re-educating the wider public to see them differently.  Most of them.  But it’s people like this that give ex-offenders a bad name.  These are the scumbags that most people imagine when they hear the word offender.  These are the scumbags that Daily Mail readers want to lock up and conveniently mislay the key.  Up to a point, even I agree.  Can they be rehabilitated?  Maybe not, they want something for nothing and don’t care who they hurt to get it.  I’m generalising but they’re not usually clever enough to avoid capture yet only get short custodial or community sentences for relatively petty crimes.  There is neither the time nor the resource available to rehabilitate offenders on shorter sentences, try as they might, and so for people like this prison becomes a revolving door.  So many things need to change, I’m working on finding some way of making a difference but I think I’ve got my work cut out.