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Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Dispatches From Hell

The Ugliest Bathroom In History

And so we have just pulled up outside the ugliest pub in Bowness when Mark declares that we will indeed be staying there and yes indeed there is a nightclub in the basement but not to worry because we will be staying on the third floor, then promptly chucks our suitcases at us and does a runner back to where public houses do not post a long list of barred individuals on the front door and pseudo-divorced individuals do not have to survive a week with the lesser spotted ex-Mother-In-Law, who from here on now will be called Peggy.

Shudder inwardly and proceed to Room 25, the rather grandly titled “Ambleside Suite”. Install Peggy in prison cell single room and greet maid still making beds at three o’clock in the afternoon in ours. Try not to be violently ill when Finley reports that the bathroom tiles are “stuck on with blood” nor have a hissy fit of the most ugly kind, when kind maid advises me to open the windows on pain of death or else the room will fill with pigeons. Thank her for large pile of individually wrapped custard creams for Finley and promptly hide them in suitcase in case he is suddenly struck by the true horror of hotel and embarks on a gluten riddled biscuit binge.

Red Felt Shoes

Step out in rain wet enough to dampen the spirits of even the most ardent of Japanese tourists and consider buying over-sized translucent mac and looking as utterly ludicrous as everybody else. Decide, even in the face of adversity to maintain dignity. Drink the first of many cups of tea with Peggy and try not to bash her when she announces that Mark’s new girlfriend is a nice girl with a lovely slender figure. Feel like a bitchy heffalump as you retaliate with the news that the oh so slender teenager also has a hole in her tongue. Watch her lips purse and feel guilty for at least three seconds. Watch her posing with vicious swans on the lakeside and remember how much you love her. Decide not to be offended by her mildly thoughtless tongue. Eat in a restaurant straight out of 1970 and refuse the offer of “fruit juice” for starters. See red felt shoes I would sell my son’s grandmother for, in window of pretty shop. Resist! Get in bed at seven thirty in the evening and wonder if purgatory is also equipped with the smallest kettle in the world.

Peggy and Finn

Wake up with mysteriously puffy eyes and launch myself into a sunny day on the lake. Feel optimistic, rested and full of hotel bacon. Queue up for boat and text Richard “Good morning Richard”. Congratulate myself on brevity as texts are an open invitation to waffle and harass. Resist and find myself sitting on boat next to old lady with Amy Winehouse “do”. Catch Peggy’s eye and see her snort with withheld giggle. Both laugh silently till tears roll down Peggy’s face. Assure Finn Captain of ship is on board and yes we are near both rubber rings and life-jackets. Receive text from bonkers boyfriend announcing that “Good Morning Richard” is akin to worst kind of insult and lacks both intimacy and warmth. Snort again and feel eyes of serious sea-goers upon me. Admire gorgeous rainy views with required degree of wonder. Arrive in Ambleside. Get very very very very wet. Cannot stress enough how wet. Get back on boat and find water has crawled up pants all the way to ample thighs while damp top and outraged breasts could win first prize in wet T-Shirt competition. Take son back to hotel and defrost him. Hide more biscuits. Eat gluten free tapas (WOW!) in restaurant that feels familiar and realise I am sitting in the very same chair in which Mark proposed to me two years before Finley was born. Feel momentarily peculiar then eat lamb koftas so good they make me want to swing my pants. Get in bed at eight o’clock and watch Finn fall asleep to the boom of early doors at the nightclub. Ring Mum and giggle. Ring Richard and discuss intrinsic lack of intimacy and warmth. Agree to attend counselling. Agree to take sarcasm pill. Agree he is marvellous. Text “Goodnight Richard” following phone call and drift off to sleep counting stroppy swans.

Wake up to a chorus of pigeons pecking at the window. Don wellies and wade through puddles to Beatrix Potter museum. Love it. Debate what the sentence would be should I be found in possession of Mrs Tiggywinkles vintage linens. Decide stealing off a hedgehog goes against my morals. Watch Peggy talking to waxwork model of Miss Potter. Suppress hysteria when she tells me woman has lovely skin. Get on open topped bus to Windermere and drown. Arrive looking MAD. Eat gluten free cheese toasties (WOW 2!) in gorgeous little cafe. Try not to punch ex Mother In Law when she tells me she has warned her boys (Mark and fellow errant husband, brother Simon) not to take up with women with children because they are “more trouble than they are worth”. Ask her if she wants to phone Richard and tell him. Ask her if she wants to ring Mark and give him bashing for forcing me into the ranks of potential trouble and long term spinsterhood. Drink coffee and remind myself that she once accused me of stealing a collection of aluminium teaspoons. Find solace in teeny old bookshop. Buy first edition Amelia Jane and feel better. Take child to posh restaurant. Order flame grilled chicken for him and receive biggest paddy ever seen as reward. Chase him down hill shouting. Glare at appalled tourists in matching anoraks. Reach end of tether. Agree that yes child too may have reached the end of very wet tether and smile winningly when he tells complete stranger he hates me so much he is taking me to the police station and reporting me for being a rubbish Mummy. Feel grateful when Peggy takes charge of child. Ring Mum and describe fabulous day. Sleep. Boil half to death in hot room. Strip sleeping child down and blow cool air on his skin and wish someone would come and do same for me. Begin to feel rather fond of ugly room now brain has gone into suspended animation.

Wake up and find Mark on doorstep. Offer him mountains of individually wrapped custard creams as reward for timely arrival. Tell him his Mother is a Darling regardless of all that should never be said. Tell him hotel is so lovely the maid gave up a great job as Manager of a Mercedes Dealership in Newcastle to come and change the beds here because she loved it sooooo much. Wonder out loud what is wrong with the people of Newcastle. Agree to go on one more day trip to Grasmere “en estranged famille”. Get wet. Eat famous Grasmere gingerbread. Get wetter. Find absolutely gorgeous little house shop and refuse to listen to ex Mother In Law and Father of Child tutting at prices of beautiful objects. Buy lots of beautiful objects. Tote expensive beautiful objects shamelessly. Defend purchase of beautiful objects then remember it isn’t necessary and go and spend silly money on more. Feel better. Get in car and tease Father of Child with reckless spending mercilessly all the way home. Get delivered to Mums and skip into sanity. Feel giddy. Feel like I’ve been to hell and back in wellies and rather liked it. Wonder if all holidays are the same? Run home to de-stink house and resolve never to go to on holiday again. Put tired little boy to bed and open door to Richard. Feed him something terrible and endure impertinent insults to cooking and random hair growing willy-nilly out of nose. Feel at home again. Rather miss hotel trouser press. Rather miss Peggy.


Katherine said...

Long week? ;)

I wish we had some of that rain over here (in south Texas)!

Glad to see that you're back!

Alison May said...

Oh Katherine it was probably the longest week of my life... but also the kind of drenched fun you come to expect holidaying in England... and yes feel free to have some rain, this has been the wettest summer I can remember!x

Ouissi said...

I love the pictures of the museum ;) I also covet those shoes in the worst way possible!

Ouissi x

Domesticated Gypsy said...

Darling I'm so glad to have you back writing again! I adore the quirky way your thoughts spill over into the world... I know it's been said before... but I must say again.. You should write a book!!! And if anyone out in publisher land reads this... GIVE THIS WOMAN A PUBLISHING DEAL (that is if you want it.. I guess that matters!)
Thank you so much for sharing your intimate life with all of us... it is so brave of you... and inspiring!

Shayne said...

I can only say that I admire your fortitude Alison - I would have probably drowned the ex-MIL en route.

Gena said...

We have had many holidays in the lakes,mostly blessed with fabulous weather,however,I fear what people do not understand is that when it does rain in the lakes,it is not just rain,it just floods from the heavens! Grasmere is my favourite place in the whole world,like a little piece of heaven,and yes the beatrix potter museum is wonderful,I admire your spirit Alison I really do,a week in rain dashed countryside with Marks mother,you have such fortitude!and I just know you are still smiling!you are a good

minervabird said...

Remind me not to drink coffee when I read your posts. Was spewing on the computer screen. Thank you for a wonderful belly laugh, and glad you survived your holiday (just!?). It could have been worse...Mark could have suggested you and Peggy go caravanning together.

Anna Marie

Anonymous said...

What is wrong with people from Newcastle?????

Alison May said...

Oooh goodness I didn't mean to insult a city or it's lovely people! Sometimes my flippancy gets me into terrible trouble, so dear Anonymous please accept my apologies, I rather hoped that comment would not be taken out of context!x

Anonymous said...

Sorry my question was meant as did you know something we dont know about the people of Newcastle rather than 'what is wrong with them'. Sorry my question does look abit abrupt, I was thinking out loud. Thankyou for replying X

baringapark said...

thank goodness you are back blogging!

Anonymous said...

Oddly enough, I thought of you on Sunday while eating chocolate brownies (with icecream) at Narborough Hall in Norfolk. I think it was the flowery china that first brought you to mind.
Is there ever sunshine in that neck of the woods?

Anonymous said...

Yay! You're back. Your account of your hols is written in your usual inimitable and wonderful style - thoroughly enjoyed it. Isn't it funny how sometimes the worst holidays can also leave us with the best memories?

Sasha said...

Welcome, welcome, welcome back Alison!

And in spectacularly witty fashion, with another one of those real-life situations that we all find ourselves in from time to time, that if we saw in a sit-com we wouldn't believe! Ha ha. I too greatly admire your fortitude and ability to see the irony and comedy value in EVERYTHING - this is a true, true strong life skill I feel! (and shamefully, I am someone who has indeed got a fit of giggles at a funeral....) Also, as someone who is 'estranged' from her own mother-in-law (I am the devil incarnate and in fact don't even exist as far as my in-laws are concerned, through absolutely no fault of my own, truly!) I can feel your silent hurt and frustration whilst needing to 'keep calm and carry on'!! Indeed, there really is a thin line between love and hate isn't there?!

Love the photo's (how on earth did you resist those Dorothy click-your-heels shoes?????!!!!) but would LOVE to see those home purchases pleeeeease! I am giggling just imagining your face as you swanned around the shop flouting said items - good for you! We have to take small pleasures where we can!!

PS: I have made JAM!!!! I have told everyone within ten paces of our house, so thought I'd tell you too! hee hee

Lynn said...

I miss you when you stay away so long! I have been reading you for years. You are an amazing writer, mom, woman. Thanks for sharing your life and Finn. By the way, I bought a small dwarf rabbit and named him Finn. Don't know what that means other than I love your taste in names and your little boy. Carry on.

Ali said...

I'd have bought those shoes and left the country, child in tow. Who on Earth goes on holiday with their ex-MIL?

And unless I've missed something, which is entirely possible. I'd forget my own name some days if it wasn't tattooed to my eyeballs, this Richard person sounds like to put this politely...jerk?

Post more often woman! I love your writing style.

Alison May said...

Oh but Ali he's lovely... the way I tell 'em does rather do him a disservice...but it wouldn't do to flatter him too highly!!

As for the Mother In Law thing: I agree, it is clear I am off my head! Hope you are well Honey.x

Counting Your Blessings said...

I can't believe you really do enjoy being with them. Actually, I can't believe you even went. You're some kind of saint =) Actually, my ex mother-in-law died a few years ago and I DO miss her. I wish that I could talk to her about exhusbands boy (mine too, of course, but he acts like his dad). I would so appreciate her opinion these days! It's very unique and very precious that you and your exfamily still treat each other like family!

Blessings... Polly

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