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Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Panic Room

My mother visited unannounced yesterday afternoon. The school summer holidays are drawing to a close and the munchkins are a trifle bored. Max was pounding on the piano while Freya terrorised the au pair, careering about our open plan toy strewn home on her go cart. I was feeling a tad worn out and not quite my normal composed, meticulously groomed and perky self (I was shrieking like a fish wife).

Brenda was horrified by the scene, to her - image is everything. "When I was your age I was a widow with four young children, no dishwasher and no au-pair, how dare you look so disheveled, you have it all!" she scolded. "You should be praising God himself for your wealthy Protestant of a husband, and on your knees to Our Blessed Virgin Mary for your profusion of household appliances."

"Oh Mother darling" I replied. "Don't you remember, didn't you have a parlour to hide in? A panic room of your very own? Why I didn't even know there was an additional reception room in our house until I was a teenager, no children were ever allowed in! You had your own clean and private child free adult space to hide in. Open plan living is the devils own creation," I explained.

"That is indeed true" said Brenda. "And your Aunty Lou lived just up the road, we were great support to each other. In my day, all the mothers smoked to keep their stress levels down, and we took buckets of Tamazepam and would hide in the parlour for hours on end to calm our nerves... I could beat my children to my hearts content with a slipper or even a sweeping brush. Indeed, those were the days, you poor love."

I felt really close to her then, and I thought she might even embrace me. Instead, Brenda handed me a cork screw, pointed to the wine chiller, said "Damn the Scandinavians" and scurried out of the house...

13 comments:

IngeniousRose said...

Oh Dulwich Mum, I hate to take sides but Brenda sounds a scream with her benzodiazepam, wine and child free room. The perfect cocktail for a chilled life. I like her style!

debio said...

I would blame the Scandinavians for more than open plan living...

Your mother sounds a hoot!

debio said...

(Their languages have no subjunctive for starters).

I know that sounds pretentious - but then...

IngeniousRose said...

debio has a point.
Ikea instructions have caused many an argument and near nervous breakdowns in our family.

dulwichmum said...

Oh girls, I so know what you mean. Scandanavians seem to wear their body hair as some kind of badge of honour!

Frog in the Field said...

Dearest DM, the childhood you must have suffered at the hands of Brenda! No wonder you are so fragile and sensitive...I'll have a top-up please (you do owe me a drink for that embaressing moment this morning), any more olives?

Potty Mummy said...

For some reason I can hear Brenda talking with an Irish accent. Is this in fact the case, Dulwich Mum? Tell me it is, please tell me it is... Surely I'm not the only result of a repressed catholic upbringing who blogs (who needs confession when you've got blogspot?).

Iota said...

You're all at it! What do I have to do to get in with this Irish childhood brigade? It's not my fault (pout) that I was brought up in Buckinghamshire.

dulwichmum said...

Oh Frog darling,

You really are such a super chum. Would you like some tonic in that gin?

Indeed lovely Potty Mummy,

Brenda is from Dublin. Are you a recovering Roman Catholic too?

Perfect Iota,

Indeed, this was forced upon me - I had no choice! I would much preferred to have been of Argentinian parentage. They always look so terribly aristocratic!

Cherry Menlove said...

It's official, YOU ROCK!
Super dooper post, Dulwich Mum. It's one of those ones that I just loved reading. So when is your pulishing contract coming along????? Soon I hope, unless you already have one!

Cherry x

Josephine said...

Love the blog :-) I want a Panic Room! A place to hide away from the little darlings when they are in full end-of-holiday flow!

IngeniousRose said...

Goodness DM, Potty Mummy is also a recovering Catholic. We must set up a support group. It would have 3 members already.

dulwichmum said...

Thank you for your kind words Cherry, indeed my book will be published by The Friday Project in April 2008.

Sweet Josephine,

I think I shall get the builders in at my earliest convenience. Every lady needs a panic room! I shall keep my eyes peeled for some hunky builders...

Perfect IngeniousRose,

We should start a special group on Facebook!