Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Anaphylactic shock!

You can't beat a lovely sunny day when you've got a day off.  Especially when two of your favourite friends pop over and you lay about in the garden gossipping and catching the rays.

Now naturally blonde as I am I have skin that refuses to tan. My blonde hair is coupled with the freckliest skin you've ever laid eyes on. So as we're relaxing in the garden my friends are tanning beautifully I'm cursing my mothers side for the Strawberry Blonde hair and my fathers side for the freckly ginger skin.

After a couple of hours of laying about' they look like they're part of the Jackson Five and I look like Michael circa 1997, they go home.  Much as I love them I actually hate their ability to tan so easily.

I go back inside and remember than Joe, my 19 year old has a little pot of 'tan accelerant' in one of the kitchen cupboards. I move things about a bit and find it. If I didn't already know what it was I'd be a bit worried. It's it in a tiny pot and looks like it might be ready to inseminate something, however I know what it is so I'm comfortable with it.
There's a crudely written sticker on the side that says 'Tingle Cream' I have a cursory sniff and it smells OK so I take a lovely big dollop from the pot and rub it all over my chest and arms. I feel a bit of a tingle which I take to be a good sign that the cream is going to do it's job. I'm heading back out to the garden enjoying the tingly feeling the cream has given me when I catch sight of my horribly pasty face in the mirror. Now much as I enjoy being pale and interesting I think it wouldn't harm me to have a bit of colour, facially, you know.

With this in mind I take another big dollop from the pot of tingle cream and slather it all over my face.  I'm in the kitchen at this point with the intention of going back into the garden to relax and tan. The chance of me getting anywhere near the garden diminishes by the second as my eyes start to swell shut.  I'm in the kitchen, in the house I've lived in for 11 years yet suddenly I can't see enough to get out.




I find my phone and jab at the touch screen hoping I'm ringing someone who can help me.  Apparently the Co-op bank can give me an emergency overdraft if I press 1.  I'm tempted but there's the fact that I can no longer properly breathe (I do consider pressing 1 so Phil can bury me in a vintage Westwood dress)  I have another stab at my keypad and get Domino's Pizza this time.  They ask if they can help me and I gurgle back at them.  They say 'Hello' I say ' Nrggghhhhh' They hang up.  Much as I'm probably dying from a massive allergic reaction I'm mildly irritated that they didn't enquire what base I required.


My parents pull up outside with Syd in the car.  I dash outside, much as you can when your head is 3 times it's normal size and  ask them to take me to the hospital. My mother looks irritated because at this point she's had to put up with 40 years of me being over dramatic/utterly ridiculous. I try to tell them I need to go to hospital but because my tongue is massive and I'm practically choking on it I can't make them understand. What follows is basically a life threatening game of charades.  You should try to mime the word hospital when every part of you, from the neck up, is swelling up.

Eventually they get what I'm saying.

At one point I actually think they're enjoying trying to work out what I'm trying to say. This is proof to me that they watch far too many quiz shows.

We finally get to the hospital, I get inside and try to tell the receptionist I'm having some kind of allergic reaction. She asks me my name and I just slobber all over her desk (you want to try and say JOOLS ASPINALL when your tongue is so massive that it's hanging out of your mouth)  She is obviously trained in dealing with 40 year old women with enormous swollen heads and big flobbery tongues because she presses a  bell and 400 nurses appear and dash me to 'resuss'.  (At this point I'm convinced Charlie Fairhead and Duffy are going to appear. Sadly they don't).

Once I'm in resuss they put an oxygen mask on me and cannula's in both hands while asking me what happened.  Are they kidding me? I can't see properly because my eyes are swollen shut, I've got a big oxygen mask strapped to my enormous head and my massive tongue is lolling out of my mouth like a dead slug!

I try to tell them I used tingle cream on my face to help me get a tan.  This is actually what I say:

Hff ooosed inglreem onmafay fotann ammginger avfrecks

Surprisingly they have no idea what I'm saying.  I actually said it and even I'd struggle to understand it.

Then they start to put stuff into the cannula's which seems to help. I can see again but my tongue is still huge.  The doctor who is stood next to me starts talking to the nurse on the other side of me. He's saying that if this doesn't work they'll 'put me under and ventilate me'. I'm outraged at this! Shouldn't someone ask me.  I try to tell them that I don't agree to this course of action and it comes out like 'Unt venthilay meef am fyn ow'

I'm actually surprised they didn't give me a lobotomy at this point.

Thankfully whatever they'd put into the cannula's on my hands started to work and my tongue returned to more of a normal size.  I was relaxing on the bed in resuss when they finally let Phil come in.  I was so pleased to see him and expected him to feel the same. 

Apparently not.

He took one look at my massively swollen head and said

'Hello John Merrick, I'm looking for my wife Jools'


Friday, 29 May 2015

Owning a teenager.

I've noticed lately that my previously mild mannered, sweet 11 year old has started to slam doors and mutter under his breath regularly.  I've obviously been here before with my 18 year old so I'm quite prepared for the years that are about to come.  Then it occurred to me, what about those people who are heading into the teenage years unprepared. What if they really believe that they will handle it because they remember what it was to be a teenager so they'll know how their child ticks.  What if they actually think that at some point they won't fantasise about faking their own death or slamming their head in their car door.

As a parent who has been through these years I feel it is my duty to write a guide to owning a teenager.  I hope it's helpful.


How to prepare
  • Wear everything you own within the space of 2 days.
  • When eating ensure you drop the tiniest speck of food on either your top or your trousers, this must be barely discernible to the human eye but must prompt you to change your entire outfit, including underwear. 
  • Never use the laundry basket, it is cursed. 
  • Always leave your clothes exactly where you took them off, if possible inside out. 
  • If you're out and about don't worry about stains like oil, ink or grease, your mother enjoys the challenge that stain removal brings.
  • If what you want to wear doesn't appear in your hands clean and ironed within 30 seconds of demanding it fly into a rage because 'EVERYONE ELSE'S CLOTHES ARE ALWAYS READY TO WEAR'
The experience
  • Gather up the washing from the bedroom/bathroom/hall floor.
  • Sort into loads. 
  • Treat the stains with expensive dirt zapping power spray. 
  • Realise expensive dirt zapping power spray is a waste of money. 
  • Spend 2 hours googling stain removal and applying increasingly bizarre things to stain to remove it.
  • Realise you are no longer trying to just remove an ink stain, you are now trying to remove vinegar, tomato puree and yogurt and repair the hole the white spirit burned in your teenagers favourite top
  • Try to dry 16 loads of washing by hanging them over chairs/doors/radiators/pets/younger children 
  • Spend 9 hours ironing all 16 loads of washing
  • Take them into your teenagers bedroom and hang up them up/place them neatly in drawers
  • Drag everything off the hangers and out of the drawers and drop them on the floor.
  • Kick them about a bit so they look like they've never been near an iron.


How to prepare

  • Become obsessed with a favourite food.  The more expensive and complicated to make the better.
  • Demand that food for most mealtimes.
  • Wait until your parents have bulk bought that food (ie: 32 salmon fillets/166 bags of risotto rice)
  • Go off that food.  Refuse to even look at it.
  • Tell anyone that will listen that you are forced to eat food you don't even like.

The experience

  • Ask your teenager what they want for tea.
  • Be happy when they answer 'anything'
  • Turn on the radio and cook a family favourite
  • Serve your teenager their meal
  • Continue smiling while your teenager tells you that they are 'NOT EATING THIS SHIT' and 'EVERYONE ELSE'S PARENTS MAKE NICE FOOD'
  • Overhear your teenager on the phone to Grandma telling her that they haven't been fed since breakfast


How to prepare

  • Decide that everything in your wardrobe is either 'gay' or 'shan'
  • Refuse to wear anything
  • Consider phoning childline because 'EVERYONE ELSE'S PARENTS BUY THEM DECENT STUFF'
  • Blame your parents because you didn't ask to be born.
The experience

  • Think about what you would pay for a t-shirt.  Double it and add £35.
  • Ask your partner how much he spent on fuel for the car in the last two months. Spend the same amount on a pair of jeans.
  • Spend 6 hours trailing round sport shops while your teenager turns his nose up at trainers under £70. Realise your £3 pumps from primark have given you a blister.
  • Rip a sanitary towel in half to put on you blister because you can't afford luxuries like plasters.
  • Come to your senses and refuse to pay extortionate amounts of money for a pair of jogging bottoms.
  • Go out and buy the jogging bottoms anyway because you're worried that your teenager is quiet because they're being bullied for their pitifully inadequate jogging bottoms.
  • Laugh cynically when you remember that you were once 'that parent' who said your child would wear what you told them to. 


How to prepare

  • Remember that your parents know nothing
  • Take offence at everything your parents say.  It is absolutely NONE of their business if you had a 'good day at school'
  • Be nice to everyone elses parents, they're much nicer and cooler than your parents ever could be anyway.
  • Slamming a door or rolling your eyes or kicking the dog/your younger brother says more than words ever could
  • Every now and then be nice just to keep your parents on their toes.  Inconsistency is your watch word.
The experience

  • Make friends with a bi-polar Rottweiler
  • Learn not to ask stupid questions such as 'how are you', 'do you want some tea' and 'I notice you're on fire, would you like me to put you out'?
  • Always assume that everything is 'NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS' and unless told otherwise you are either a 'joke', a 'clown' or a 'douche'.
  • When people praise your child's behaviour do not show them 400 photo's of your teenager, demanding to know if this is the person they mean.  When they say it is don't ask if they are 'on glue'
  • If your teenager is nice to you become suspicious and google 'how to tell if your child is on drugs'
  • Resist the urge to bundle your teenager into the boot of the car and drop them off 52 miles from home.
  • Have a recurring dream where you give your teenager up for adoption.  Start to think of it as your 'happy dream'
  • Cry whilst telling your parents what a horrible time your are having and ignore the looks that pass between them.  You know that you were a fairly pleasant teenager.

So there we have it.  A sort of what to expecting when you're expecting your happy child to turn into a teenager. 

I'm sure we were NOTHING like this.  Just don't ask my mother, I think her memory's going a bit!