working towards perfection (and failing)

Tag: MiL

now i am 40

my truth

I don’t have a problem with being forty years old.  I feel no different to how I felt the day before I turned forty, when I was only thirty-nine.  Indeed, I feel no different to how I felt when I turned twenty-one, except I’m now minus a left kidney and I have creaky knees.

That panic attack I had earlier in the year about turning forty seems a tad ridiculous now.

One of the best aspects about being forty is that I can embrace the older lady who lives inside me (with the skinny one, and the teenager – the arguments they have!) … that old lady is thinking she can do what she wants, when she wants.

New tattoo?  Why stop at just one?!

New piercing? Absolutely (don’t get excited, nowhere odd – just an ear again, hopefully, one day, before forty-one knocks at the door!)

A few grey hairs?  Sod it, they might look elegant and distinguished if I put away the dye and give them a chance.

I am forgetful, and I appear to have a problem with my hearing. I should probably get my eyes tested again (it’s only been ten years since they were last looked at) and I love my afternoon naps (but not how I feel when I awaken from them.)

My boobies aren’t saggy yet, but give them time. They’ll catch up with the idea of being old soon.

I stopped seeing the counsellor.  I stopped liking her and opening up about myself made me anxious.  Talking made me anxious. I was making myself feel small and stupid, and I don’t want to feel small and stupid so I’m back to locking myself away from the world and pretending that life is hunky-dory and wonderful.  But it’s okay; it’s my choice and I’m happy with that choice.  I feel comfortable in this skin because it’s a skin I’ve lived in for so long.

If people knew what I was living with they’d be horrified. I’m an amazing actress.

I’m on holiday now – no more work till the beginning of September.  It’s a fabulous perk of working in education but this year I feel it’s going to both drag and speed by, in equal measures. A part of me would rather be at work, even though I adore my time off and never want it to end. I have no concrete plans. Occasional shopping trips and luncheons with friends. I have The Vampire Diaries and Skins box-sets to catch up with, and my garden needs a through tidy.

My MiL has been diagnosed with lung cancer, admitted to Hospital and had nearly half her lung removed in the last few weeks. Speedy. She appears to have gone from thirty-ish cigarettes a day for the last forty years, to none a day.  We’re not convinced this will last.  The lung doctor told her that the cancer has all gone (obviously she’ll have regular check-ups for the next five years) and that it may not have been the fag addiction which caused the cancer.  I think she just hears what she wants to hear.

My cats are still beautiful.

Wedding Season

I don’t really understand weddings.  In the past people quietly wed in their local parish church or the registry office, with a couple of family members or close friends (or none, as was common) as witnesses.  They didn’t tend to spend oodles of money on outdoing their best friends or ensuring the entire venue was jam-packed with flowers (which incidentally, seem to wither and die very quickly.)

This isn’t to say that our wedding wasn’t extravagent.  It was, for us.  If we remove the hire of the venue and the deliciously scrummy food they provided for a sit-down meal for thirteen adults and four children, and an evening buffet for eighty guests, my dress was the single most expensive item of the day.  I wore it once and I can never wear it again (because it won’t fit … plus it needs a damn good clean.  I was a dirty bride.)  I often look back and think how daft that was.  I didn’t even look good in it.

But regardless, our wedding (and honeymoon) came to no more than a few (five-ish) thousand pounds, with the majority being the dress and the venue/food.  I liked my wedding for its simplicity.  A small intimate ceremony, followed by a small intimate dinner and later on an evening of joviality with disco and expensive bar.  I handmade our ceremony invitations,our favours and the table place-cards and I semi-handmade our guestbook.  We could have spent less but at the time we I wanted a fairly posh venue that was easy to get to for all our guests (a Marriott along one of the busiest roads in England).  Looking back I think I’d be happy to opt for a local village hall now. But then I wanted to show that I had some class …

So, last weekend BiL tied the knot with YASiL.  And it was beautiful.  The venue was rural and divine, the sun was shining, the food was tasty, the guests were plentiful, I stuttered through my reading (and have vowed to NEVER read again in front of nearly one hundred folk, most of whom I don’t know) and then got tipsy on sparkling wine (Australian).  My MiL only goofed up once –

MiL: (to Blokey) You’ve scrubbed up really nicely today; you looked awful at the last wedding we went to!
KatieF: Um, you do know the last wedding we all went to together was our wedding don’t you?
MiL: Yes, yes I do.
KatieF: *gasp* … that’s not very nice!
MiL: But true.

KatieF: Whatever … (in her head)

– and it was a truly wonderful day, which ended with fireworks.  They spent so much money on the wedding day that they requested financial help towards their (expensive South American) honeymoon as a gift.  I was a bit mean and said to Blokey that I didn’t want to give them money.  My understanding was that they’d had to pay up front for the honeymoon, so in effect giving them money is just enabling their lifestyle once they return and begin to enjoy newly-wedded bliss.  We gave them a present instead, which was vaguely linked to the Hen party in Paris but involves a trip to London.  I’m also creating two more gifts for them; I’d like to give them things they can look back on, memories of the day which they can share with other people.  I just think it’s more personal, especially from immediate family.  I do realise that they’re not me and won’t necessarily appreciate these little things I’m doing, but it just seems so much nicer than money.

If I were getting married now and not then, the only things I’d keep the same is the ceremony venue – partly because it’s my local registry office so the cheapest option, but also because it’s a quaint old building in a beautiful garden – and the maker/flavour of the cake, but a different style of cake.  I’d have a dress from Monsoon, some seasonal – but wild – flowers, I wouldn’t invite The Man just because I didn’t want to cause conflict, and I’d put together a buffet myself for my nearest and dearest and insist on people taking lots of pictures (not of me) instead of paying for a photographer (I’ve just realised that the photographer was the second biggest expense of our day; not sure how I could have forgotten that …)

I just think that with weddings we put on so much show to keep other people happy.  The day is gone by in such a blur and as a bride you rarely get to sample the delights of it.  It should be a simple day which reflects the love you share with another person.

I am the Wedding Humbug.

But no, the wedding was beautiful.  And my wedding was beautiful.  And all weddings are beautiful.  I just think we’ve lost the meaning behind the charade of putting on an event.












Tales of my MiL


You have met my MiL before. She’s the woman who attracts bitterness and negative thoughts.  She oozes food from her pores and embraces arguments with people who are merely doing their jobs.  Her way is the Right Way (and please, don’t forget it).  She sits atop a goldmine, yet cuddles her bag with a ferocious glare when it’s time to pay the restaurant bill.  She has no friends and never does anything.







Biting of tongue.


When we saw her yesterday she didn’t disappoint. She rarely disappoints.

Yesterday’s offering to the gods of Oh, woe is me came courtesy of the impending marriage of BiL and YASiL.

I don’t understand, she seethed, why we have nothing to do with the wedding.


Blokey is going to be an usher.  I’ve been asked to do a reading [whoa, where’s my comfort zone?].  What more does she want?  I later said to Blokey that if she wanted more input into the wedding perhaps she should have had a daughter. Or maybe offered to donate some of the money which just sits gathering dust in her many bank accounts.

When Blokey and I married, BiL was Best Man.  We had a small, family only, intimate ceremony so it made sense.  BiL and YASiL are inviting one hundred guests to the ceremony/wedding breakfast and BiL has asked his best friend of many (many – since school) years to be his Best Man. This wasn’t an issue for us.  Blokey doesn’t like talking in front of lots of people (the speech) and he didn’t want to have to organise a stag do (he’s not very good at coming up with ideas, coupled with our life of not really knowing how Our Kidney is going to behave) and well … he just didn’t really care.  But I think this is the MAJOR issue for my MiL.

She has this ‘thing’ about family.  Blokey doesn’t have a big family and those that do exist don’t see each other very much.  There are a lot of oldies (aunts and uncles of my beloved FiL for the most part), most of whom I’ve never met, and Blokey and BiL probably haven’t seen them since they were nippers in short trousers.  She insisted that BiL and YASiL sent them invitations and then made sure they received them.

Who does she think she is?

She’s having an outfit made for the wedding.  It’s costing her five hundred smackeroonies and a little part of me hopes that it’s truly horrendous (because I am the evil DiL.)

Nearly every year since Blokey and I have been together we’ve spent New Year’s Day with my MiL (and my FiL before his untimely death … why, oh why and please come back and all that jazz). When we get into routines with my MiL (and a routine is established after a thing has been done once) she expects it’s going to happen.  She doesn’t ask, she simply assumes.  I have worked hard to break many routines (I’m struggling with the trips to CigaretteTown in Belgium, but I WILL get there) and this year I am (we are) breaking the New Year one.  We’re going to London, to stay in a fancyish hotel near Buckingham Palace.  We know that she’s going to grumble and we’re actually scared to tell her.

How ridiculous are we?


Tomorrow we’ll be spending the gloriously sunny Bank Holiday Monday cooped up inside her cigarette-fragranced, stinky house.  And yes, we are prepared to take bets on how many minutes we’ll be there before she moans.


Time for crumpets!

oh, feck off! (getting it off my chest)

I used to think that I was the most miserable woman in the world. 

And then I met my MiL.

My relationship with her was practically non-existent before my FiL passed away.  After his death we grew closer, but I still find her very difficult and (on some occasions) can barely even tolerate her.  This sounds mean, but it isn’t.  She is a very demanding woman, not least because her days are taken up with … nothing. 

My Mumsy will celebrate 70 grand years on earth next year.  Her social life is amazing.  She’s always off on mini-breaks with her friends, she has church and related prayer-groups, she does voluntary secretarial work twice a week for her minister, toddles off to WI every month, pops into the coffee morning every week, cooks lunch for her friends when she can see they’re a bit overwhelmed with activities, goes for long walks and she makes time to fit all her children into her busy schedule (we range from 50 miles to 1,300 miles away from her).

She never expects people to do anything or be anywhere.

My MiL is the complete opposite.  She’s seven years younger than Mumsy and her social calendar (despite our best intentions and gentle nudges) revolves around seeing my BiL one night a week – and every Saturday when he takes her shopping (that’s a whole post on its own) – and having a visit from her SiL once a week for an hour or so.  Oh, she might go to see the doctor, or buy a paper, or pop into town for some things, but she has no interests and no friends. 

She is also a Scrooge (despite having money running into six figures just sitting in the bank).

Blokey does do a lot for her.  She wanted a new tellybox.  She has our old one (2004) and held out as long as she could because she didn’t want a ‘thin’ one.  Now she has no choice because her tellybox is going a tad iffy.  So Blokey spent some time researching tellyboxes and the best place to buy them, etc.  And last Thursday we took her shopping, with three tellyboxes in mind to view.  We took her to a Foodstuff & Computer Planet store and showed her two of the tellyboxes (they didn’t have the third).  She ummm’d and ahhh’d a little, and wibble-wobbled them (‘they’ll fall down!’).  I could tell from the look on her face that she wasn’t happy. 

Now, we had no intention of buying from Foodstuff & Computer Planet because we knew we could get a better deal at John Smith’s (plus a free five year warranty).  We’d taken her to F & CP because it was out of town with free parking and the intention was then to buy the telly online once she’d seen it in the flesh.  But she decided she wanted to look at the third tellybox so we got in the car and tootled off into town to fight the crowds of Christmas shoppers, get into scraps with other cars and pay extortionate city centre parking fees. 

Stupid, stupid, stupid!

Whilst in John Smith’s she spied a tellybox she liked.  It was ugly and pudgy … and CHEAP!  Blokey was looking for another tellybox so he missed the expression of pure delight upon her face as she noticed the price tag.  Oh, it’s not the price, she informed me.  I just think it looks nice.


She then wibble-wobbled some more tellyboxes and when she wibble-wobbled the one that had caused her to nearly orgasm she only tentatively touched it.  Sly old bag!  Really!  It took us a good ten minutes to convince her not to buy it.  I wanted to take her by the shoulders and shake her, that’s how angry I was with her.  Blokey put lots of effort into researching the perfect telly for her, plus he drove her to see/buy one and he’d sourced a Blu-ray player to go with it.  If it had been my mother I would have had very stern words and walked off. 

It took her another ten minutes to umm and ahh between the other two tellyboxes, with both Blokey and I praising one over the other.  They were exactly the same price but one was a Sony Bravia and the other a Samsung.  The Sony was a Smart tv (‘I really won’t use iPlayer’) and far superior.  She wibble-wobbled them again and opted for the less superior Samsung even though we’d told her she’d be better off with the other.

I think she does it deliberately.

Afterwards we went to Pizza Yummy Yum and when Blokey got out his cash to pay she said, Oh, I was going to pay! but failed to elaborate on this further by leaving her bag safely cocooned in her lap and her fingers tightly clasped together on top of it. If our intentions were to pay we would at least have made an effort to get some money out, but not her.  Oh no.

Fast forward a few days, to yesterday.  We took her to see her other SiL, her niece and nephew and their families (about eighty or so miles away).  I don’t mind doing this.  It’s the one day of the year that she sees them, and besides, I like Blokey’s cousins and they give us Christmas presents to come home with!   

Whilst talking about Christmas decorations she suddenly announced, I’m not putting mine up this year.  I really can’t be bothered.  I don’t feel at all Christmassy.  She said this with the sourest look on her face.  This is the woman who has already excitedly bought and wrapped her presents and has said how much she’s looking forward to spending Christmas Day with us.  Oh, you have to at least put your tree up, I said.  Well, I can’t anyway.  It’s in the loft; I don’t know when BiL will be there to take it down.

And that’s what it boils down to.  She feels hard-done by.  For nearly thirty-five years she had a doting husband who did EVERYTHING for her.  Now she has to rely on two grown-up sons.  One of those sons lives thirty miles away and is (to all intents and purposes) ill.  The other only lives down the road but leads a very busy life with a very busy girlfriend (who is allegedly possessive; she isn’t, she’s just very active and probably wouldn’t mind having a lie-in every Saturday with her boyfriend rather than have him get up at the crack of dawn to take his mother to Tesco.)

This worries me.  The future worries me. Her reliance on other people, her miserableness, the fact that she expects us to take her to Belgium for cigarettes (she doesn’t ask anymore, it’s just a given that we will), her snide comments and her deliberate attempts to ignore any and all advice.  If she’s like this now what does a future with possible job opportunities further afield and the joy of (grand)children bring?  Misery, that’s what. Misery and grumbles.

It all makes me want to scream.

(I realise that once written down this seems trivial; I think you have to be there and know about the tiny little things which build up and up and up and up … But thanks for letting me get it off my chest …)

Things I want to say to you (strong language, sorry)

Dearest MiL,

Fuckity fuck fuck fuck.  How dare you treat us so horridly when we’re doing you a favour by taking you to Belgium to buy your ghastly stinky fags.  How petty of you to stomp off like a hormonal whiney teenager when we remind you (nicely!) that smoking in the car is a no-no.  How ridiculous it is to make nasty sarcastic comments over something trivial said by Blokey over, and about, breakfast.

For goodness sake woman!  Sometimes you’re like a vile poisonous wart in an uncomfortable place. 

I’m sorry [I’m not] but I will not have you hurting my husband in the way that you do.  You are a manipulative, wrinkled old bag, who never thinks of anyone but herself.  Why on earth he chooses to put up with your bitterness I really don’t know, but if you were my mother [I’m very glad that you’re not] I would never let you get away with being so evil.

His illness is purely a personal vendetta against you, isn’t it?  Be honest now.  He chooses to be ill as a means of making life awkward for you.  And oh my gosh, doesn’t his wife milk it!  Tsk.  But MiL, he *IS* ill.  He is exhausted, stressed, sad, emotional, wary and (quite frankly) pissed off.  His weekends are more valuable to him than you will ever realise.  He needs those days to re-energise in time for the next relentlessly unforgiving week of full-time work and dialysis sessions and random hospital appointments that simply confuse and upset him.  Driving the three of you to Heathrow [when did he even offer; why do you assume so much?] will take approximately seven hours in total (from FlatHickTown to MiLTown, then on to Heathrow, and then back again).  That’s a whole day.  A whole day of stress and tiredness, when he needs to be relaxing. 

How many thousands do you have in the bank?  Don’t be such a fucking tightwad … taking out a bit of cash to spend on a taxi will not bankrupt you.  If it makes you feel better, take it out of his bloody inheritance. 

This is all so new for him [and for me] and yet where are your words of support and your cuddles of love?  Hmmm?  Your husband would be appalled at your behaviour.  Seriously, he would.  If you carry on being so bitter and so venomous you will start to push Blokey away.  None of us want that [although yesterday when he said, “I wish she was bloody well staying in Australia,” I think he actually meant it], but it will happen if you continue to be like this.

Oh, and one final point.  You can be as horrid to me as you want.  You can ignore me, refuse to even look at me and [quite probably] bitch about me to BiL and GiL for absolutely nothing [seriously, just before bed she was lovely, in the morning it was as though I didn’t exist!] but one day I will be the mother of your much-wanted grandchildren, and when I am I will hold ALL the cards.  Yes indeedy.  I can play your game.  And, scarily, I can play it better than you. 

I wish you an enjoyable holiday in Australia, and hope it is an experience filled with spiders, snakes and Swine Flu. 


(One day I will write a happy post, honest! In the meantime, thanks for letting me grumble!)

Never rely on the glory of the morning, nor the smiles of your mother-in-law

Australia.  Land of Kangaroo.  We’d made plans to visit this summer, despite it being a country that can only really be accessed by horrid planes.  MiLs cousin, who was more like her big sister when they were growing up, lives over there.  ‘Let’s go!’ we said.  MiL agreed. 

Except Things Went Bad last year and now the risk of a flight to the wrong side of the world is too great.  The Blokey is still having regular appointments at both the big training hospital in maC and the little hospital in ChavTown and would need to take a suitcase full of medication if we went over there.  He was ill when we went to Cardiff.  I would probably worry myself to death if he got ill in Australia.

‘You go!’ we said to MiL at Christmas.  She was hesitant, but it was only fair that we didn’t spoil her and her cousin’s dreams.  Obviously she isn’t going alone.  BiL and his girlfriend are going too. 

And thus begins my stinkingly childish whinge.

I do not want to listen to endless talk of Australia.  We are not going … the least they can do is remember that.  They could also attempt to actually do all the groundwork themselves rather than rely on The Blokey, who seems to have to constantly coax his brother into looking for flights and stop-overs.  We are not going … do it yourbloodyself.

‘We’re [MiL and GiL] thinking of spending a couple of nights in New York on the way back,’ gushed MiL.  Sorry, wasn’t that my idea?  My dream?  Did I, or did I not, say to you, ‘Let’s go to New York on the way back!”?

I suppose what’s really crushing me is the way MiL has been able to drop me, like a kid in a playground who suddenly finds a new best friend.  In this case the new best friend is GiL.  GiL has a car.  GiL only lives a few miles away.  GiL has said this.  GiL has said that.  GiL is perfect.  GiL is amazing.  And let’s not forget, GiL has a car. 

I’m not blaming GiL.  I actually quite like her, even though I tend to usually shy away from those people who have excessive personalities.  She watches naff tellybox shows about celebrities dancing on ice, or singing for their supper, or something.  MiL watches them too.  Oh, how they laugh.  They watched Mamma Mia! together and had a thoroughly good time.  They had such a good time that when MiL received tickets to see Oliver! in the West End she promptly invited GiL to go with her. 

Oliver! is my third favourite musical, ever.  MiL doesn’t know this. 

I was with her when her husband died.  I was the perfect DiL, being responsible and taking charge of various things.  I gave up every Saturday for over a year for her.  I was nearly widowed last year.  I spent a month (in total, spread over two occasions) visiting my husband in hospital and she barely even bothered to phone me and find out how I was.  I can’t go to Australia.  Or America.  Or Singapore.

(The Blokey said that if I was that upset I could go, but what wife leaves her husband at home for a month, knowing that a) he doesn’t know how to use a washing machine and b) he might get ill again?  Besides, it wouldn’t be much of an experience without him.)

Would it have hurt her to invite me to go to London to see the show?

We’re taking her to CigaretteTown in Belgium this weekend.  I swear, if she mentions Australia or Oliver! I will go mad. 

On a far happier note … we realised that we haven’t really been on holiday for yonks.  We went to Amsterdam for our honeymoon in 2006, but apart from MiLs caravan and a couple of gig weekends, we haven’t had a real holiday since we went to Austria in 2004.  So we booked one for mid-August.  It may be a bit closer to home than Australia (it’s Yorkshire), but we have a private lodge with a jacuzzi, a sauna, a hot tub, breathtaking views and tranquility.  Perfick. 

Much more fun than having to entertain two old women in Australia! 

(whinge over)


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