Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Why things kids say put you to shame

Every year, in the first week of September, primary school children everywhere are set the same essay - 'What I Did in My School Holidays'.

And every year, without fail, I always cringe when I read what my kids have written.

One year's summer holiday recollections, for example, began with the immortal lines: "Mummy was stopped by the police for doing her lipstick on the jewel carriageway. But she said they let her off because she flirted outrajustly." (sic)

Another time it read: " Dad moved out of our house during the holidays and has gone to live in a flat in Belfast.

"He said it is so he can be closer to work but I think it is because mum snores so loudly that he can't sleep."

No matter how many day trips and picnics and treats you have laid on, the things that seem to stick in the mind of a child are the incidents you wish they would forget. And what the teacher thinks when she reads them ... well, dear only knows.

But what my youngest wrote in his exercise book this time last year deserves a special mention and an award for The Most Misleading Dispatch of All-Time.

In order for you to appreciate the sheer unfairness of it all, allow me to take you back very briefly over the events of that summer ...

I hadn't been able to afford a foreign holiday that year so instead we had spent eight weeks and a small fortune 'working the menu' at the Northern Ireland Tourist Board.

From braving the flimsy bridge at Carrick-a-Rede and fishing on the Copeland Islands to dancing like eejits at Tennents Vital and sampling wild boar burgers at Belfast Food Fest, if it was printed on a flyer or advertised in the local papers, we were there and bought the T-shirts and tacky souvenirs to prove it.

Not to mention the countless trips to the cinema to watch mindless animations and all those sleepless nights with three kids, a plague of mosquitoes and 12 spiders in a tent in the front garden.

As the holidays drew to an end and we arrived at the dreaded last day (known as the 'LD' in our house because the kids dare not speak its name) we planned a final farewell-to-happiness trip to Belfast zoo for a picnic in front of the penguins.

Partly due to the wet road, partly due to exhaustion after being a single-parent/Butlins redcoat/Royal Bank of Mum/one woman taxi service for eight solid weeks, I crashed the car on the Sydenham bypass. I'll spare you the details for fear of incriminating myself, but as a result we didn't make it to the zoo that day.

Instead, we spent the afternoon in the insurance office, then glumly set off home, stopping at Harry Ramsden's in the courtesy car to get supper.

A few days later as I was backing the first of a sky-scraper high tower of exercise books, I happened to open up Finn's English Composition exercise book. The first entry for the new term was, of course, the dreaded 'What I Did in my Summer Holidays'.

The account read thus:

"We tried to get to the zoo, but mummy crashed the car and we all cried.

" Then the police arrived and she had to do a breath test but It was ok because she wasn't drunk.

"Then I had to lend her my pocket money to pay for chips on the way home in the borrowed car.

"Then as soon as we got home mum made us go to bed early so she could watch Big Brother and have a few drinks in peace. It was terrible."



Nigella's not my cup of Darjeeling

If Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus, then where precisely has Nigella Lawson (right) landed from? Because she's certainly not of this planet.

Yes, the self-proclaimed Domestic Goddess is back, this time with a heavenly host of "super-quick" recipes and "tried and tested" tips for busy working mums.

In theory - highly commendable. As one of the busiest of busy working mums, I was desperate for a few new short-cuts. And so I tuned in, notebook at the ready, to avail of her expert advice.

There was just one slight snag. When you happen to be married to one of the richest men on this planet, (the advertising and art mogul Charles Saatchi, worth an estimated £200m-plus at last count) you're not exactly facing the same problems and dilemmas as your regular, work-a-day, "busy working mums" are ya Nigella, love? And that's where the whole concept - and my anticipation - collapsed like an under-cooked souffle.

In Nigella Express, which premiered on Monday, her suggestion for a perfectly simple mid-week family dinner was (I kid you not ...) a brace of fresh poussin, dusted with aromatic middle-eastern spices, roasted in the Aga with chunks of sweet potato.

And that was just the entree.

This was served with a chef's seasonal salad of watercress and sugar snap peas, which was lightly drizzled with a home-made dressing combining freshly-squeezed lime juice, olive oil and Japanese wasabi paste.

The Stepford Wife of Recipes then showed us the most marvellously effortless snack - perfect for using up those portions of squid you might find hidden away in some corner of your industrial sized, walk-in deep-freeze. Simply coat them in a mixture of rare spices, fry them in a wok and serve with (preferably organic) mayonnaise flavoured with freshly-grated garlic.

Finally, her piece-de-resistance of simplicity (ideal for a midnight snack) was a hot caramel croissant pudding, baked until golden and bubbling, served with a whipped cream and bourbon sauce.

My suggestion to the bosses at BBC2 - rename the series Let Them Eat Cake because this woman's about as in touch with her public as Marie-Antoinette was before she lost her head.



Dear diary, i've just met Sir Paul

Renee Zellweger, the actress who played Bridget Jones, has been spotted this week wining and dining with Sir Paul McCartney in a romantic restaurant in New York.

Here's the relevant page from her diary:

Weight: 98lb (My God: I'm obese!! But I suppose it does include a rather hefty pair of Manolo Blahnik's ... )

Alcohol Units: 14+ (lost track after the second bottle of Veuve Cliquot arrived!)

Cigarettes: None!!!!! He doesn't smoke, so "neither do I"!! Hoorah for nicotine patches - wore a whole packet facilitated by long sleeves.

Total Calories: Not sure, but I'm a vegetarian now (for the time-being at least...Look, if it snares me a billionaire then it'll so be worth it!!)

So, after two years of Singleton misery and a couple of movie flops, there could be light at the end of the tunnel!

Granted, he does look a bit like one of those ancient turtles from the Galapagos Islands.

And he is as boring as hell. But quite frankly I don't give-a-damn!!

He's loaded beyond belief and a household name so excuse me while I bathe in his reflected glory!

Oh, and mother was a huge fan of the Beatles when she was my age, so this should keep her happy and off my case for a few weeks at least.

Notes to Self:

#1: Wear big knickers next time: the place will be swarming with paparazzi so I'll need to look size zero at the most!! Can always switch to a La Perla thong when the coast is clear

#2:Read up on Amazon-RainForest/Green issues/ Landmines b4 next date



I still love you, Owen

Aaaawww ... Bless. Owen Wilson, the world's most adorable man (in my humble opinion), has had his heart broken. The misty-eyed, croaky-voiced film star whom I've loved irrationally since The Royal Tenenbaums, is recovering in hospital this week from an overdose which he allegedly took after seeing photographs in the papers of his ex-girlfriend, Kate Hudson, snogging another guy.

Ok, so I might be 20 years older than her, I don't have a perfectly symmetrical face, a successful movie career or a mum like Goldie Hawn ... but beggars can't be choosers:

I'll have you, Owen!

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