They Might Be Giants!

I often get asked if I have children.  Must be the grey hairs, the twitch and the permanent look of despair.  But it’s a reasonable question to ask someone of my age.  Trouble is, I’m never quite sure of how to answer.  The truth is, yes!  I do.  I have 2 children.  But I tend to associate the word ‘children’ as generally being those under the age of 10.  That lovely age where they’re unaffected by life, not a care in the world other than when they can next have an ice-cream or a trip to the park.  They’re cuddly and cute and you can tuck them up in bed at night and kiss their chubby little innocent pink cheeks. Children are sweet, small little things – well in my head anyway!

My ‘children’ are 27 and 22.  They’re adults.  But to say I have ‘adults’ just sounds, well, somewhat creepy.  And the word ‘adult’ is often coupled with the word ‘responsible’. Which I just can’t quite see them as!  They’re ‘Grown Up Children’. Larger versions of their younger selves. He shaves, he has a car, a girlfriend and a job.  She has just finished Uni, has a boyfriend and a penchant for cocktails.  And they’re both still at home.  But despite being ‘adults’ according to their birth certificates, actually they’re not. What they are is ‘Giant Children’.  Because despite their size and their age, the behaviour has barely changed at all.

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IMAGE FOR REFERENCE ONLY.  ACTUALLY I DON’T HAVE GREY HAIR AND MY KIDS ARE DEFINITELY NOT GINGER!

I think it’s something about being a) still in the house you grew up in and b) still being with your sibling that makes these ‘Young Adults’ behave like – well ‘Giant Children’. Although I manage to painfully eke some rent out of Giant Child 1, it is handed over begrudgingly and with an almighty huff.  I don’t blame him.  He’d really rather be somewhere else! His size 11 trainers are scattered here there and everywhere and despite being responsible for a mountain of crockery and utensils, the thought of actually putting them in the dishwasher is incomprehensible.  And he takes up so much room!  A whole sofa!  Coupled with the discarded footwear, sports bags and inability to master how a bin works, it’s all getting rather crowded in here.  The little bundle of energy that used to tear around the house now looms large in doorways, towering above us all, dispelling wind from any given orifice at any given time (apparently this is really really funny). Giant Child 2 is less imposing, a bit more helpful and smells a little sweeter.  But being fresh out of studying, with a huge debt (thanks to ‘Just Call Me Dave’), the chance of her being able to afford to move out anytime soon is just as far off as the other one – who despite having a decent job, has no hope of getting a mortgage any time soon.

Young adults are more likely to be living with their parents than at any other time in the past 20 years as record numbers struggle to fly the nest. There are nearly 3 million 20-34 year olds still living with parents, a 618,000 leap since 1996, according to findings from the Office for National Statistics.  The “failure to launch” phenomenon means there are now millions of young adults are still in their childhood bedrooms, which seems to somehow keep them in a sort of semi-childlike, limbo state.   House prices, university debts and sympathetic parents are making this generation somewhat potbound.

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Credit: https://www.brayleinoyucca.co.uk/blog/our-ad-that-really-is-the-dogs/

By 27, I’d been working for nearly 10 years.  University just wasn’t an option for me as, quite honestly, I wasn’t clever enough.  See 5 years of school reports!  But then jobs were in abundance so I left college, went to work in a large advertising agency at the age of 18 and slowly worked my way up the ladder.  Ok I only got about 3 rungs up but the parties were epic.  By 22 I had bought a flat and by 26, I had a small child.  It wasn’t really fashionable to go back-packing round Cambodia – well not if you valued your life.  The done thing was to get on the property ladder as quickly as possible – and it was easy. House prices were reasonable and mortgages were manageable.  Sadly, my kids will probably have to wait til I shuffle off this mortal coil before they can afford a deposit for a house.  Come to think of it,  I am starting to wonder why they keep offering me cups of tea – which, now I come to think of it, do taste rather odd.

So my advice if you’ve got giant children.

  • Make sure you have a stable wifi connection.
  • Make sure you’ve got ink in the printer.
  • Make sure you’ve got wine in the fridge – ideally a small hidden fridge in a part of the house that they can’t be bothered to go to.

But also make sure you make the most of them.  Because despite all of the above, I’ll bloody miss them when they’re gone and wouldn’t swap them for anything.

Unless anyone’s got Lego Cards 043, 095 and 107.

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Hip Hip Hooray!

Well it’s finally done!  After years of wincing, moaning and not being able to wear stupidly high heels, I’ve had a hip replacement.  Right now, if I could turn back the clock, I probably wouldn’t have.  I feel sore, swollen, uncomfortable and miserable.  But I also know, that in a few weeks, I’ll be thankful that I did.  I know it’s going to take time to heal. And I know without pain, there’s no gain!  However, I was rather grateful for one thing.  The NHS kindly paid for me to have the operation in a nice private hospital not far from where I live.  Not uncommon these days apparently.  The NHS have been outsourcing joint replacement surgery to the private sector for some years now.  In fact, a recent analysis shows that NHS patients who choose to have planned knee or hip operations in private units spend less time on wards, are less likely to be readmitted and have fewer procedures that need to be re-done.  And therefore, they don’t block beds needed for acute admissions. Win win!

Another recent study showed that four of the best six places for hip operations were privately run.  By contrast, the three worst-performing hospitals for knee operations were all NHS ones. And therefore, the results have been seized on by some as evidence that the independent sector does have a key role to play in improving patient care as well as relieving the strain on our overcrowded hospitals. But they are likely to prove controversial elsewhere because of concerns that the contracts set up by Labour, under which private hospitals took in NHS patients to help reduce waiting lists, paid them far too much for simple procedures and wasted millions of pounds.  So the funding row continues to rumble and probably always will. Thanks goodness we’ve got a general election coming, eh folks??

 

'I really hate going to hospital.' 'I know. It's unfortunate you're a neurosurgeon.'

 

So back to the story.  I arrived at 8am at the rather endearingly named Holly Hospital, and was promptly shown to my ‘guest room’ by the ‘concierge’ who gave me a guided tour of the facilities.  To be honest, it was alot better than some 4 star hotels I’d paid good Euros to stay in. I got changed as requested and it wasn’t long before someone came and took me down to theatre. She was very nice.  Like a smiling assassin.  Because, despite my outwardly calm exterior, inside I was utterly hysterical despite her reassuring words that no, the consultant definitely hadn’t been drinking and yes, he’d done a fair few of these types of operations before. And in no time, I’d seen the anaesthetist and was being led, mentally kicking and screaming into theatre.

I’ll spare the details.  But it went very quickly and in no time I was back in my guest room, with a constant stream of smiling healthcare professionals, checking blood pressure, giving me drugs and generally enquiring after my well-being.  An hour later, a light lunch consisting of a freshly made cheese sandwich and fruit was served and I was given a menu to choose my evening meal.  Melon to start, salmon fillet and veg and a fresh fruit salad.  Sadly no wine list.  “For obvious reasons”, she told me.  I took that to mean that it was more to do the cocktail of medication I was on rather than a nod to a penchant for Rosé.  I had Sky TV to keep me company and at the press of a buzzer,  my assigned nurse would come scurrying in, attending to my every need.  This is all rather nice, I thought.

However, I think after a couple of days, someone twigged that neither myself, nor a wealthy healthcare provider, was paying for this treatment.  I was here courtesy of the beleaguered NHS and I’d probably hit my budget allowance.  The offer of endless cups of tea disappeared, lunch was downgraded to soup (definitely Heinz) or a sandwich, and the evening meal was whatever the chef said I could have.  And as Friday was curry night, and I don’t eat the stuff, the only other option was a jacket potato with cheese. And hopefully they could “rustle up some beans too if chef didn’t mind”! First world problems, eh?  But I mustn’t grumble.  It was still better than being on a mixed ward, and not having to listen to other patients peeing/snoring/farting/howling was a blessing.  And I’m sure those patients would have felt the same.

Which brings me on to bed pans. How bloody awful are those contraptions??!!  For a start, it seems to be a one size fits all, which is fine if you don’t have a humungous backside. Mine was pretty huge to begin with but the added addition of swelling and a pressure dressing practically doubled it’s girth.  Plus it’s made of cardboard! CARDBOARD!!  I mean it’s not know for it’s absorption qualities is it!  Nor it’s comfort. Well the first day wasn’t so bad.  I was numb and fairly dehydrated.  Day two was a different story altogether.  I’d been put on a drip as my blood pressure was rather low so when I asked for the pan again – well let’s just say I wasn’t dehydrated or quite so numb. In fact, let’s just say I was totally off target.  The nurse was very sweet and said it was perfectly normal for accidents to happen.  Well not for me it isn’t, love!  The shame of sitting in your own piddle – three times in one day – will live with me for a while!  It took an age to strip me and the bed, clean it up and put me and the bed back together again.  She smiled throughout the whole half hour debacle, chatting away, whilst I – a grown woman of advancing years – sat there wrapped in a towel of shame, smelling like a tramp!  I’ve since googled bed pans.  There are far more ergonomic ones out there which look a lot more sturdy, comfortable and able to hold a few more pints.  Maybe I had the cheaper NHS version.

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I THINK THE NURSE ON THE FAR RIGHT WAS THE ONE LUMBERED WITH CLEARING UP MY LITTLE ACCIDENT

Fortunately they had me up walking pretty quickly so I could get to use the toilet.  And by day three, I was on crutches walking up and down the corridor in my attractive hospital gown, all open at the back for the world to see.  But I didn’t care. What could be more shameful than pissing yourself.  Three times!  My dignity went years ago.  Along with non-disposable, ergonomically-shaped bed pans it seems.

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I DIDN’T HAVE THE HORN!

And on day four, they sent me home, complete with crutches and complimentary raised toilet seat, saying if my leg falls off, just go straight to A&E and they’ll pop it back on.  So long as I don’t mind waiting a few days.  So here I am, selfishly wishing the days away, knowing that time is a great healer and codeine is the best invention in the whole world. Meanwhile, Mr H is embracing nursing/cooking/cleaning duties which involves a fair amount of arse-wiping, stocking-applying, pillow-adjusting and crutch-holding.  Sadly not the type he’d prefer. But he’s doing a sterling job.

For a bloke.  Who snores.

x

 

 

Hair Today …

Hairdressers are rather like husbands.  For the first few years they do exactly what they want and you always feel good afterwards.  Then they get a bit lazy and complacent and suddenly you don’t feel so special any more.  So when that happens, it’s time to start the nightmare search for a new one.  So where do you start?  Is there a Tinder for hairdressers?  Hinder, maybe?  And how do you tell the incumbent that you’re moving on to a younger, trendier salon?  It’s not you, it’s me? And if you don’t tell them, you end up trying to avoid the area for fear of bumping into them sporting a new ‘do’.   It’s a huge dilemma – one I’ve encountered on many occasions over the years.  I knew the false beard would come in handy one day.

There isn’t a high street in the UK now that doesn’t have at least 2 or 3 salons peddling their hairs. It’s an industry that has grown steadily over the years and currently sees no sign of declining.  It was sometime around the end of the 1800s when we slowly started to see the transition from men only barbershops to salons across the civilised world.  In those early days, wealthy women were having their hair styled by their servants.  All a bit Downton Abbey.  The rest of the classes probably just used some carbolic soap and some rusty shears.

The roaring 20s saw almost 25,000 hair salons open in the US. From the 1900s to 20s, bobby pins, hair dryers, perms and hair colour became more and more popular. It was the age of Hollywood movie stars, Jazz and Coco Chanel.  Everyone wanted to look like their idols!  By the 40’s and 50’s, beauty salons became the go-to-place for the housewife to escape from their mundane lives, get pampered and indulge in gossip. Gradually, the hairdressing salon became affordable to the masses and not just the upper classes, eventually combining other beauty services to pamper and preen it’s clientele.

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“SO WHERE ARE YOU GOING FOR YOUR HOLIDAYS THIS YEAR?  BUTLINS?  OOH POSH!”

Nowadays, our high streets are awash with them.  Some part of a chain, others with quirky fascias such as ‘Hairport’, ‘A Cut Above’ and my personal East London favourite, ‘Jack the Clipper’.  But how on earth do you choose a good one?  Today it’s easier with social media, reviews and online recommendations but what’s good for the goose isn’t necessarily good for the hairy old gander.  My own personal start point is that, if the hairdresser has bad hair, quite frankly I don’t want them anywhere near mine.  They are basically a walking advert for their profession.  Like I don’t want a dentist with bad teeth or a doctor with weeping sores.  I’m also rather seduced by a cool interior.  1970’s pictures on the wall, office furniture or rubbish towels are also a bit of a sign of apathy. Not always indicative but first impressions etc.  I also like hairdressers to be honest.  If it won’t suit, then please have the decency to tell me.  A stark reminder never to show them a picture of a poodle ever again!

witch hairdresser cartoon

So on a whim, I booked into a trendy Shoreditch salon for a cut and blow. I’d read the reviews, scoured the website and gallery and wandered past on more than one occasion. I could even book online which shows both innovation on their part and total laziness on my part. Tick!  Nothing worse than booking over the phone to a fairly dopey receptionist who gets just about every part of the booking wrong.  Most annoying to find out you’re booked in next Tuesday with Cilla for a perm when you’d asked for a Saturday appointment with Donna for highlights!  That’s happened!  Anyway, I was politely greeted,  ‘gowned up’ by a nice young man and promptly offered a cocktail.  It was after 6pm so why not!  Who doesn’t love a Espresso Martini full of hair!  Anyway, a chat with the Senior Stylist and a rather nice (and faintly disturbing for various reasons) wash and head massage from that nice young man, I was set about with sprays and scissors.  Oh and another Espresso Martini or 3.  Rude not to!  They were friendly, they’ve got dogs, alcohol and nice towels.  By the end I was hair cut, half cut and £65 out of pocket!  But you get what you pay for and I’d definitely go back.

 

Probably when I’ve won the lottery!

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