In which I discuss chipolatas of warm dog shit. And friends. (Strictly not interchangeable.)

‘Urgh’ sums up how I feel this morning, though the sight of my two little girls caught up in their own homemade joy of illicit bike riding in the hallway is making me smile… they sense mummy-distraction as if on radar and take advantage at every given opportunity, as all mischievous children should, because riding bikes in the house is usually a big NO NO. However, this rule now comes with an added codicil: ‘…except when daddy is in hospital and mummy’s too tired to give a hoot about the really small stuff…’

One of the less pleasing aspects that I have discovered of my current lone-parenting status is my subsequent lone-pet owner status. Colin the Wonder Dog is a shit machine, despite only being marginally larger than Stanley the (increasingly fat) Cat in stature. Usually of course one can shirk the dreaded shit shovelling duties by bestowing such joyous activity upon one’s husband… but most disappointingly the loathsome task now falls upon the responsibility of yours truly. And so again I say URGH. Wrapping my hand in plastic and collecting chipolatas of warm dog shit from the garden is not my idea of a pleasing early morning activity. (Nor any other time of day, I’d like to make that clear.) Still, every cloud and all that – as yet I have managed to daintily side-step the turds that Colin hides (on purpose I suspect) in the grass, thus avoiding last summer’s particular low of inadvertently stepping in one, treading it into the kitchen, and then having to use a screwdriver (nearest implement to disinfectant-wipe-covered hand) to scrape the crap out of the grooved sole of my previously pristine white Birkenstock sandal. At the time of course I was able to lay all blame at the respective doors of my dog and husband, the latter being firmly ensconced in his role of Chief Shoveller of Shit. A year on, and I find myself willing to prance barefoot in the stuff on the streets if it meant my husband was home and healthy and happy and well. (Luckily, due to living in Portsmouth under the shadow of Portsmouth City Council, I’d have no difficulty in finding enough to frolic in. Merely venturing from my forecourt should do the trick. As I say, every cloud!)

On that note, my little ones (girls, not turds) are now clad in their swimming cossies, re-enacting the Olympics in the cushion strewn living room, which is my cue to drag my bottom from my chair and reign them in prior to that swift and shocking transformation that is known to parents everywhere and that occurs in the blink of an eye: Total House Destruction.

Before I head off to halt the THD in its tracks, I must mention friends… I love my friends. Every time I reach the stage of lonely exhaustion, I am bowled over yet again by the marvellousness of our mates. Something like this draws a clear line between true and pure friendship – whether friends whom you have known for years or those you have made more recently – and mere acquaintance. I’ve been overwhelmed by the caring attitudes and offers of help from friends whom we have had for years or friends whom we have had for only months. Just when you think you can’t go it alone, you realise you don’t have to. Out rush the friends from all corners of the earth, each holding onto a piece of a billowy parachute of loveliness, ready to pull it taut beneath you and bounce you back up to where you need to be. Thank you friends.

(Dammit. Took my eye off the THD a second too long. Bikes are in the living room and Mavis the Kitten is in the basket of one. Colin the Dog of Eternal Stench is scrabbling at the back door to signal yet another bowel evacuation and I am still in my dressing gown avoiding it all. Time to face the daily music and dance. Right in the dog shit if necessary.)

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