Tuesday 14 August 2012

In which Charlotte's marriage breaks down.

Yup, so we split up. I have been a single parent of two young children for nearly a month now.

I doubt this comes as much of a surprise to those that read this blog, nor even those that simply know us, but here we are.

I'd like to write a rip-roaringly funny diatribe about my husband and his failings, but the truth is that would be neither fair nor kind. There is no point in apportioning blame on our mutual failure to keep our family together and indeed it would be inaccurate - neither of us have behaved well.

In a rare moment of seriousness, I'd like to wish Simon all the very best for the future - a future that I hope he allows me to be a part of, as a friend. I wish him no malice at all - indeed, the very opposite. He's very funny, attractive and gentlemanly (when he wants to be) so get in touch with him, ladies.

I've never before posted a photo that isn't a cartoon or stock picture and I hope Simon will forgive me for using his and our daughter's image as the first one - but it is a happy portrait, and one - that if I'm honest - makes me weep a little.

I am gradually beginning to find my sense of humour again, and hope to regale you with more Tales From the Shit-End of Parenting soon - but in the meantime, I'd just like to reflect in silence for a moment on the last nine-years....

....Ooh - and the fact I no longer have to pick up his pants from the bathroom floor.


Saturday 23 June 2012

A Return to Blogging. In which Charlotte recaps.

I'm back. Well I haven't really been away, I've just been lurking, willing my blog to write itself, my novel to finish itself, a winning lottery ticket to magically appear in my wallet and for the ironing fairies to finally turn up.

Having satisfied myself that apparantly none of this is going to happen, I have resigned myself to the fact that I'm going to have to do it all myself.

So, here I am. Let's see. Where did I leave off? Oh yes.

I had been born, gone to school, fallen out with most of my friends, got married, had children, fallen out with all my new friends, wrote a book, fell out with my last remaining friends and was now blogging slightly manically about my delight in discovering that I had an online stalker.

Sadly I then fell out with the stalker and they are no longer stalking me.

I had been on the wagon and then clinging onto the back of the wagon and then I had fallen off the wagon and now I'm quite happily perched on the edge of it. Just enough vino tinto to take the edge off the horrors of modern day life, but not quite enough to turn me into a shreaking banshee. (Or this is the plan, anyway.)

I'd had rows with my mother, I'd made up with my mother. I'd had many, many, many, many rows with my husband and now there is a kind of weary truce. We eye each other cautiously over the Weetabix in the morning, deciding whether or not to tackle the latest irritating habit we consider the other to have developed; or whether to add it to a private mental list to be screamed as an addendum ("AND ANOTHER THING!") to the major, monthly marital argument, the biggie, the four-weekly battle, the One Where Things Get Thrown. "

The children are thriving. No major illnesses, no terrible behavioural issues. Their teachers/nursery staff report them to be clever little buggers, and judging how they manage to run rings around their father, I don't doubt it. (Me, not so much. There are no flies on Mama Castle, and I know every trick in the book. I'm not quite No Wire Hangers tough, but I'm no soft touch.)

We have added another cat to our household - a tom cat from across the road who decided that he prefered our family and just one day seemed to move in. (That was an embarassing conversation. I think I'm known locally as the Mad Cat-Rustler Woman.) Patrick as he is called is big, beautiful, dopey, adorable and massively in the shit as he has just eaten nearly a pound of fresh diced lamb which had been destined for my slow cooker for sunday lunch tomorrow. He's lying next to me now, on his back and with the kind of Christmas day look that says "I know I enjoyed it whilst it was happening, but now I'm regretting that seventh roast potato."

For now, Casa Castle is peaceful. Arabella is playing with a friend upstairs, Alex is playing with his cars and Simon, naturally, is watching James Bond.

But you don't want to hear about THAT, do you? Now we've slipped back into my life, I promise to let you know the second things start getting messy.

Judging by the row that has just erupted between the children upstairs, that could be sooner than I'd anticipated.


Monday 16 January 2012

In which Charlotte gains a stalker.

I have made it.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I have joined the gilded ranks of those involved in the Levenson Enquiry. It's true, I don't quite have paparazzi camped outside my house, but I do have my very own, very sad stalker.

They have created a Twitter account merely (it would appear) to send me badly worded and frankly boringly inoffensive tweets. They don't like me disrespecting my mother. (Hang on a second... Mum? Nah, she's only just working out how to use a mobile phone. Twitter is on the same technical level as algorithms, sat-nav and the offside-rule. I think I'm safe...)

They've worked out that my name is Charlotte Castle, and smugly published it to the Twittering world. Given that I have a blog called CHARLOTTE CASTLE and I also write books that happen to carry my name, I'm leaning towards a suspicion that they don't work for MI5. Or MI6. Or even my local job-centre. And frankly, that's saying something. (Is there a requisite walk you have to learn to work in a government role? I have never met anyone in a pseudo-civil role that doesn't walk at the pace of an arthritic sloth and with the sway of an obese and mildly sedated rhino. Also, those hips! Are they because of the walk or the reason for the walk? Hmm. Chicken and Egg.)

Anyway - what was shaping up to be an entirely depressing and uneventful January has been slightly cheered by the entrance of the person to whom we shall from henceforth refer to as: Charlotte's Repeatedly Annoying Person. - Otherwise known as C.R.A.P.

I skip smugly to bed, delighted that I have fired such passion and interest in a fellow person.

That said, I must get the cats in.


Friday 6 January 2012

In which my mother considers using her fourth gear.

(NOTE: Ma. If you're reading this, may I suggest you look away now. The below material may have a seriously detrimental effect on our currently good relationship. I did consider not publishing it, but as you would vigorously, repeatedly and emphatically agree with me, good judgement has never been my strong point. You have been warned.)

Firstly, I should say, that I've just had a superb 24 hours. My generous mother paid for a box at Harrogate Theatre and took my daughter and I to the pantomime - which this year is Beauty and the Beast. If you live near and haven't already seen it, I thoroughly recommend it.

It was wonderful to see her (she lives in France mostly) and a most enjoyable time was had by all.


Jesus H Christ, her driving.

It is only fair to inform you that I don't drive. I'm not banned, or legally blind, I just don't drive. I Don't like it. Can't do it. In fact, I was on a programme in the late 90's called 'Drivers From Hell'. I'll deal briefly with the usual questions about that below:

1. Yes really.

2. Yes once, I failed for speeding.

3. No I still haven't.

4. No, I'm not bothered as I shall win the lottery this Saturday (insert appropriate date) and shall employ a buff chauffeur who will also act as my gardener, 'manny' and yoga instructor.

I realise that it is somewhat unfair to be a backseat driver when you don't even have a license, but as the only fingernail I still have left remains embedded in my knee (I bit the others off as she negotiated a roundabout) I feel I must share.

Par example:

(Around a mile and a half down a dual carriageway entering Bradford.)

Me: Erm. Are you in second gear?

Ma: (Sounding astonished at such a stupid question.) Yes. I thought I might have to turn at some point.

I press my lips together so firmly that my mouth puckers like a cat's anus.

(Later - after around ten minutes on a national speed limit A-Road.)

Ma: (Sotto voce and with a hint of daring-do) Hmm. I might go up into fourth gear now.


Ma: (Still to herself) Or even, (dramatic pause) fifth.

Steam begins to seep from my ears and eyeballs, yet still I say nothing.

(Later - after forty-minutes of open road ahead of us and a tail-back behind us that I estimate through the passenger side-mirror, to be around thirty strong.)

Ma: I do wish that bully-boy would get off my tail.

Me: (Glancing in the passenger side mirror and immediately registering that the driver behind us is an elderly woman, in a Nissan Micra, wearing a hat) Hmmm.

My teeth clamp together, the enamel that once coated my molars crumbling under the force.

And finally, ladies and gentlemen:

(On entering the thirty-mile an hour lane, that runs through her village.)

Ma: Oh why do they insist on driving up one's backside?

Me: (For I can take no more, reader. The throbbing in my neck suggests an aneurysm and the descending red mist is not a weather phenomenon of the Yorkshire Dales.)

"Perhaps," (high pitched) "it's because you are driving at TWELVE MILES AN HOUR."


Ma: Am I?

Me: (Voice glissando's up another octave. I'm not known for self-control. This experience is on a parallel with not sneezing from under the bed when a convention of serial-killers are holding their annual 'show-and-tell' in, what turns out is, your double-booked hotel bedroom.) Yes. You are.

Ma: Oh well. I'm turning right now...


I'll leave it at that. Reliving the experience has brought me out in hives and I suspect I may need an osteopath to dissipate the knots at the base of my neck.

Perhaps I'll look into getting that driver's licence after all.


(NB. The woman in the photo is not my mother. My mother is far younger and is immeasurably more beautiful. I on the other hand, do have a passing resemblance to the dog.)

Saturday 31 December 2011

Charlotte is too drunk for The Rapture.

I am so, fucking, astonishingly BORED.

I'm on the sofa.

I have vodka.

Alan Carr is on telly.

And at the risk of disappointing my reader (Hi Mum), I'm actually not that miserable.

New Years Eve is upon me, in an hour and a half it will be 2012 and life will suddenly be shiny and bright.

Yes, okay. I'm not that drunk.

I suspect that life in an hour or so will be pretty much the same as now. I'll be poor. I'll have children. I will be a spectacularly unsuccessful author. The washing up will still not do itself. Dammit, the ironing fairies will still not visit me.

The only thing that I ask is that The Rapture doesn't happen at 12am.

It's not that I'm scared of death - being ripped from my mortal playground leaving just my rather grubby Burberry tracksuit bottoms (piss off - I got them when Burberry was still cool) and my horribly stained t-shirt (no excuse there) doesn't bother me. The liklyhood of (how the hell do you spell that? I told you I was a bit pissed) my immediate entrance into Heaven - is small. But then - Oh for crying out loud - perhaps I shouldn't have had that last vodka.

Anyway - I just paid my Virgin Media bill and if I have to go to hell now, I'll be really fucked off.

And I hoovered. Dammit.

Happy New Year. x

Thursday 29 December 2011

Auld Lang Zzzzzz.....

Ah, New Year approacheth.

I’ll gloss over Christmas which passed in the usual flurry of wrapping paper, family rows and intense materialistic disappointment (how many drawers do people think I own? I cannot line any more drawers. There are no more drawers. Should anyone have a drawer they feel urgently needs scenting with lavender, do get in touch. I can also do lily-of-the-valley and hyacinth.)

Seeing that written down, I suddenly realise that people may be trying to tell me something. I’ll try not to get really worried until I start receiving vaginal deodorant for Christmas. (Which reminds me - did anyone ever sack the marketing guy who came up with the brand-name ‘Vagisil’? Given a choice between asking for ‘Canesten’ or a product that couldn’t more clearly indicate to the handsome chap in the queue behind me that I require a balm for my candida problem, I’ll go for the obliquely named option every time.)

I digress.

New Year’s Eve - that wonderful evening when we all have to stay up till midnight. When the clock ticks its merry little way into a new date, a new world, a new hangover and a new dry-cleaning bill. When the dickheads down the street, not content with setting off fireworks every evening for seven nights each side of bonfire night; dust off their apparently endless supply of rockets and Catherine wheels and let rip for yet another night of Beirut-inspired jollity.

That most fabulous of occasions when we must all lock lips with somebody (anybody) the second a fat man in a Hawaiian shirt with a microphone, starts playing the Big Ben Bongs. The moment when, year in, year out, I am always in the loo – trying to find toilet roll and praying that the puddle seeping into my peep-toe stilettos is spilt mineral water and not the Cinzanno infused piss of the woman who was in the cubicle before me.

Those of you blessed to be British (and therefore in possession of the level of sarcasm required to laugh about that comment) will also be looking forward to the appearance of that other great holiday character, second only to Santa, that little gnome who brings us annual NYE cheer, every year. Whether we like it or not.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen. Only a few more sleeps to go and Jools Holland will once again squawk his way back onto our television.

My excited anticipation is killing me.

In fact, I am so over-stimulated by the idea of fireworks and treble-fare-taxi-cabs and over-priced drinks and Jools-Bloody-Holland, that I've decided to still my thumping heart and for health reasons, sit-out New Year’s Eve. Someone else can go into bat for me. I’m on the bench. I’m taking my ball back in. I’m hibernating.

If anyone wants me (and I'm realistic, it's unlikely) I shall be in bed, in a flanellette nightie, reading a book and congratulating myself on not having to shave my legs.

Just wake me up when it’s time for the Easter Bunny.

Wednesday 13 July 2011

Charlotte Goes Bug-Hunting.

Just when you think it’s safe to raise your head above the parental parapet, the Gods of Motherhood catapult another cowpat at you.

This week, dear reader, it’s nits.

I spied my daughter surreptitiously scratching whilst she was watching telly. Our eyes met. Mine narrowed.

“Have you got nits, Arabella?” I got up slowly, like a lion in the Serengeti approaching its prey. “You’re scratching…”

Arabella, who is not daft, leapt up and started backing away like a particularly itchy gazelle. “Er no, no scratching. Me, scratching? Not me Mummy….” She looked wildly at the sitting room door, immediately clocking the baby walker that blocked her escape.

I bared my teeth in a parody of a smile. “It’s alright” I purr, “I’m not going to hurt you.”

For a moment, I was sure I saw her consider the window and then suddenly, she darted to the left. I launched myself across the pine trunk that serves as my coffee table and in - (what is in my mind) Matrix style slow motion - soared across the room, grabbing only thin air and howled in frustration as Arabella hurdled the baby walker and scurried upstairs quicker than I could yell ‘nit comb’.

The problem is, that not only does Arabella loathe having her hair brushed, she has correctly cottoned on to the fact that I rather enjoy nit-combing. In fact I love it.

I never understood the draw of fishing. Sitting there by the side of a canal, waiting and waiting until finally you pull something out that’s not only ugly but inedible. But oh! That was before I discovered nit-combing.

The pure unadulterated pleasure you get when you snare one of the little buggers and gleefully deposit it into a jug to face its watery death! The joy when you get a Really Big Louse. A Mummy Louse. The One that Keeps Laying Dratted Eggs. The delight when you get a crop of lice, all in one comb sweep. (What is the collective noun for head lice? Answers on a postcard. I’d suggest an itch of lice but feel free to suggest your own below.)

No, poor old Arabella (wise beyond her six-years) knows full well what the next week will entail. Endless baths with her hair drenched in conditioner whilst her mummy, humming in a slightly manic fashion, drags a nit comb across her scalp, yelping in merriment each time she finds a bug.

I’m thinking of providing myself with a thermos flask of metallic tasting coffee and a round of beef-paste sandwiches to complete the experience. Hey – it’s cheaper than a rod and licence and far better than therapy.

The only problem is... er...

I'm not scratching. Promise.