Leaving Battersea Park


Esme: Can we have hot chocolate when we get home?

Ossie: Hot chocolate?

Me: Yes. Let’s all go home and have a hot chocolate, and a nice warm dinner, and wake up tomorrow feeling good.

Esme: Are you going to have a hot chocolate too, Mummy?

Me: I WILL have a hot chocolate.

Esme: And you, Daddy?

Ian: No, I don’t want your stinky hot chocolate.

[Ian has lactose intolerance. Lactose makes his bowels intolerable.]

Esme: Daddy, have a hot chocolate.

Ian: I don’t want a hot chocolate. Your hot chocolate is as appealing to me as poo.

Me: Would you like a cup of hot poo?

Esme: Would you like poo in a cup? Or wee in a cup?

[Esme is SEVEN now, so this subject is comedy gold to her.]

Ossie: You want a poo?

Me: We could add some hot water.

Ian: I would not like a cup of poo.

Me: Would you, could you, with a fox?

Ian: I could not, would not, with a fox. I could not, would not, in a box.

Esme: Would you like it in a cup?

Me: Would you like it heated up?

Ian: I could not, would not, with a fox; I could not, would not, in a box. I would not like it in a cup; I would not like it heated up. I do not want your poo or wee; I do not want it, don’t you see?

Me: Would you like it with a spoon?

Esme: Would you like it on the moon!

Ian: I do not want it with a spoon; I do not want it on the moon. I would not like it in a cup; I would not like it heated up. I do not want your poo or wee. Will you please just let me be?

Esme: Would you like it in a hat?

Me: Would you like it from a cat?

Ian: I do not want it in a hat; I do not want it from a cat. I do not want it with a spoon; I do not want it on the moon! I do not want it in a cup; I do not want it heated up; I do not want your poo or wee; I really want a cup of tea!

Esme: With marshmallows on top?

Ian: Maybe.

At The Fragrance Counter

Byredo counter, The Fragrance Hall, at the epitome of class and refinement that is Liberty of London.

Assistant 1: Do you need any help?
Me: Hello. I’ve come to smell a candle. Peyote something.
A1: Peyote Poem. It’s this one here.
Me: Thank you. I have a friend in New York who shares my nose for smells, and when I let her know I was coming here today, she asked me to smell it for her. Gosh, it’s lovely.
A1: I think the base notes are patchouli and amber.
Me: My friend says she imagined it smells like Johnny Depp’s balls.
A1: I’m sorry?
Me: She imagines it smells like Johnny Depp’s balls.
A1 to A2: Did you hear that?
A2: What?
A1: That Peyote Poem smells like Johnny Depp’s balls.
A2: Like Johnny Depp’s balls?
Me: Or what one would hope they smelled like. You know, if Johnny Depp’s balls really smelled as good as one imagined.
A2 (suddenly animated): It does!
Me: It really does! It’s exactly right. She knows her fragrances. And her balls.
A2: It totally does! Johnny Depp’s balls, they should put that in the description.
A1: I’ve never heard that before.
Me: Well, that’s great. I’ll let her know she was right. Thanks for your help!
A1 and A2: Bye!
A1: Johnny Depp’s balls.

Boring Small Print

It worked! This is amazing. I mean Ian is amazing. Top tip: choose a life partner who can do all the things you can’t.

Here is a URL for you, which is the new address of this blog. For some reason invented by squirrels, if I post in Blogger it no longer shows up here, and if I post in WordPress it doesn’t reach blog feeds properly. I only have a vaguely floaty idea of why.

Anyway, new URL:


And if you’re a grown-up, contact me through Facebook so that I can see that you are, and I will give you a special password.

(Posts that are not for the faint of heart or the under of age will be password-protected now, because Esme’s friends have access to their parents’ iThings and can all read and write. One of the reasons this blog went down was to give me a chance to move to WordPress and sort this out. It only took eight months, look.)

If you can’t contact me through Facebook because you hate it and you aren’t on it, then fair enough: leave a comment here and we’ll work something else out.

Is this thing on?

Ian has just spent the last few days migrating this blog from Blogger to WordPress. I have brought him tea and made soothing noises.

Migrating from Blogger to WordPress is as straightforward as moving into a new house through the letterbox, but it is DONE. I think. In a minute I will click a button and see if it all goes horribly wrong.

If this shows up in your blog feed, give me a shout.

I give up, for now

I hate doing a bad job of things, and I am doing a bad job of keeping up this blog.

I am going to put it on hold, officially, until September next year. In September next year, Ossie will start school, and I will have time. I do not have time these days. I get short bursts of time in between taking one child to nursery and collecting another from school and feeding myself and feeding them and keeping my life in order, and those short bursts are barely long enough for me to keep in text-message contact with my friends, let alone keep this up as well as I’d like to.

Because I hate this blog just sitting here neglected, this weekend I am going to remove it from public view and make it invite-only for the next 18 months. If you would like access to it as it stands, so you can sift through all the archived rubbish herein, please leave a comment with your email address in it.

(I have switched on comment moderation, so your email address will only get as far as me; it won’t show up publicly here.)

Sorry to be rubbish. I’ve been thinking about this for ages and it’s what I want to do. I like to do things properly or not at all, and I really look forward to being able to do this properly again.

x x

[Update: Your comments ARE getting through. They won't show up here on this post, but they are getting through to me. And thank you. I really wish I had time to write here every day for you all. ONE DAY.]


This morning, under a jolly new-year grey sky, Esme and I were in the back garden. We had muddy boots, vinegar, deep orange Indian powdered dye, a shovel, some baking soda, an empty bottle, and a bear.

The bear’s name is Henry. Every Friday, he goes home with a different child in Esme’s class, along with his diary, which the child must add to, with photos or pictures or etc etc.

Anyway. Esme has the bear for the Christmas holidays.

In his brief stay with the Cornwell family, Henry has slept with Ian

and shot the cat.

Today he sat around eyeing up squirrels while Esme and I made a volcano in the back garden, hence the vinegar, shovel, and everything else, which you’ve already worked out for yourselves.

I encourage Esme to question why we do things. Why do we put flour on the table and the rolling-pin? So the dough won’t stick. Why do we colour in with lightest colours first? So they won’t get stained by the darker ones. Why do we forge signatures upside-down? Because then we’re copying shapes, rather than letters. Etc.

Esme does not care why sodium bicarbonate reacts with acetic acid. Esme just wants to see coloured bubbles go WHOOSH over the top of containers, and fair enough. I chose a spot in the garden where nothing grows, and said we could dig the volcano in there. I fetched the rake.

I raked aside a layer of dark October leaves, and instantly wished I hadn’t. There was cat crap. It rolled and bobbed behind its cover of leaves like the disturbed chrysalides of some enormous, stinking and feculent species of butterfly.

(When Esme was Ossie’s age, I used to read her The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and the chrysalis in it looks so like a poo that Esme thought butterflies emerged from poo. I meant to do a beautiful, full-colour animated short of Where Esme Thinks Butterflies Come From, but never had time. I can see it all in my head, hear the flute music as the butterfly breaks free of the poo it’s been growing in and flaps into the sunshine, leaving a monstrous stench in its wake that upsets children.)

“We’re not doing the volcano here,” I said, raking the leaves back again. “This is where the cats crap.” I didn’t ask why don’t we kneel down and dig where the cats crap? because it seems wholly self-explanatory to a bright six-year-old. We moved along the garden, and I found a different, cat-crap-free spot.

“I know why we don’t do a volcano where the cats poo,” Esme said to me, unscrewing the lid of the bottle we were to bury, and handing it to me.

“Yup,” I said in agreement, because I knew she knew.

“If we made a volcano where the cats poo,” Esme went on, “it would make the cats have fizzy bottoms.”

“You should put that in Henry Bear’s diary,” I said.

She did.

Frosty Afternoon

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -

I took the one everyone else had obviously travelled by,

and it was grim, like fighting for custody of your boots with eight inches of up-ended, ravenous, Glastonbury toilet.


We switched to the one less travelled by, and it was a much better idea. Then we went home and had cake.

Happy New Year, Internet. May you choose your own paths through 2013, and may you still have your boots on in 365 days’ time. See you next year.

Progress of Sorts

Here is a photo I took today at the end of Esme’s school Christmas show. It is Ian holding a plush toy roast turkey.


1. No, he wasn’t the grand finale.

2. Who thought that the world needed plush roast turkeys? I want to be their friend.

It caused me to dig out a photo I took on Christmas Eve 1996, when I’d asked Ian to pull the giblets out of the actual cold, dead turkey in my kitchen. I was totally up for cooking it for a dozen of us the next day, but I couldn’t face extracting the turkey’s organs, neat little plastic bag or not.


Ian, who was almost certainly drunk by that point on Christmas Eve, gladly accepted the task, rammed his entire fist up the turkey, and and lolloped around the house with it impaled on his arm, singing “Hello Mr Turkey!” in falsetto. Then he did something grim with the neck. Then we all went out until about 04:00 and when I got up at 08:00 to start the Christmas roast, still wired from the night before, I put a spoon very cautiously up the turkey’s ravaged anus to find Ian hadn’t taken the giblets out at all.

I was thinking only this morning about how much more grown up/respectable/mottled/boring we’ve become over the years, and these photos are a perfect illustration.