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.)