Monday, 29 August 2011

In Pursuit of Smugness

Wouldn't it be lovely to be smug?  How satisfying it must feel to be so complacent and pleased with yourself that you can go to bed every night thinking nothing more than "well done me".  As someone who goes to bed every night thinking "oh well" or, occasionally, "pffff", I'd quite like some of that.

I first became aware of the concept of smugness in primary school.  Every day in assembly I sat behind the same girl in my year.  She was bright, she was keen, she excelled at netball (I, on the other hand, excelled at getting hit in the face by the ball whilst missing the net entirely), she always had her hand up in class, she didn't spend lunchtime playing perilous chasing games with the boys, preferring to stand in a circle of giggling girls, making up dances to chart songs, and to top it all off she had smug hair.  You know what smug hair is, right?  There's a girl with it in every class.  Every morning, her mum sent her to school with a perfect french plait, and every afternoon she went home, hair still in that perfect french plait and not sticking out in all directions.  My mum couldn't even do a french plait and even if she could, a) she would never have had time to do one before school because we were always late and b) I have the sort of hair that defies all attempts at restraint and gets dishevelled just by being looked at, so it would have been a futile gesture.  There is a woman who lives on the same road as me who has smug hair (shiny, perfect, straight, probably looks that way when she gets out of bed).  She is also skinny and perfectly groomed even though she has a little girl (with perfect french plait of course), a toddler and a baby.  I can't even find a pair of jeans without a snail trail of PVA glue all over them in the morning and I only have one child.  What hope is there for me?  I hate her a little bit.  OK, quite a lot.

Smugness looks like a perfect french plait.  It smells of freshly baked bread with a hint of furniture polish.  It is the sound of a child playing happily in one designated corner of the room and not breaking anything, having put the toys it was playing with before that away in one of the colour co-ordinated stacking boxes.  It tastes of peppermint tea made with freshly boiled water and mint just picked from the garden, brewed in an Emma Bridgewater teapot.  If smug was a person, it would be Annabel Karmel, or that Gina Ford cow.

My life looks like something fell off a high shelf and exploded.  It smells and tastes pretty much of Batchelors Pasta n Sauce made in a saucepan with the non stick surface coming off in flakes, and last time I tuned in, the main sound was Ringo Starr narrating Thomas the Tank Engine.

I went to bed last night having failed (as usual) to provide a mouthwatering Sunday lunch for my husband and child.  Instead, I only remembered that food was a necessity at around 6.30 (by which point most of the children of my Facebook friends were in bed according to their status updates. Gah) and produced a nutritious tea of fish fingers, tinned spaghetti and frozen sweetcorn for all. And the tinned spaghetti was from Aldi.  Having also failed to do any housework, and after the maggot in the chutney incident of a couple of days ago, I decided that I had some ground to make up, so this morning when I woke at 6.15, I decided to go in pursuit of the smugness that so often eludes me.

Fifteen minutes later I was kneading bread dough in the kitchen.  Half an hour after that I had apple compote bubbling away on the stove while the bread proved by the radiator.  Within an hour, I'd done all the ironing and the bread was in the oven.  At this point I opened the kitchen window a crack because I could see John From Next Door in his garden and I wanted the scent of freshly baking bread and apple and cinnamon to waft out towards him because last time he saw me I was in the garden getting the washing in, swearing disgustingly as I dropped it all in the mud and screaming like a fishwife through the back door at Rory to take his willy out of his Petits Filous.  Take that John From Next Door: I am Nigella Goddamn Lawson and I am very smug about it.  See how I got up before everybody else and made bread?  See how I concocted a delicious preserve using freshly picked apples? See how...oh bollocking Nora, I've set the oven gloves on fire again.

At this point, Richard and Rory came downstairs, sniffing their air appreciatively.  Rory immediately set about sitting on his potty and crimping off a massive Mister Whippy shaped turd which had the effect of killing all delectable kitchen aromas stone dead.  Meanwhile, Richard walked into the kitchen, looked about and said "It's a mess in here isn't it?"  I said nothing but have mentally added it to my list of unreasonable things that he has done for future use in the divorce courts, along with bringing me home a present of an out of date yoghurt from the fridge at work which nobody else wanted and teaching Rory to say "crack on mummy" when he asks for something.

The bread didn't rise properly and sat in our stomachs like a soggy brick.  I washed mine down with a swig of Diet Coke from the bottle then went in search of biscuits.  I give up.  I am the anti-smug.  Who wants to join me?


  1. Good morning (correction, afternoon...). My Husband is in Brussels. He does not speak french. He has an urgent thing to do. I awaiting a call from the British Consultate that starts with 'Good Afternoon Mrs Roar, yout stupid Husband has....'. Tea?

  2. Good afternoon Mrs Roar. I'll get the tea on shall I? Do keep me updated on his progress. Mine has taken our son swimming this morning, which is probably a similar level of challenge.

  3. I cracked up at "crack on, mummy". Sorry.

  4. Oh the girl with smug hair at my school was called 'Lesa' and she was even smug at the unique spelling of her name (whats wrong with Lisa anyway?).
    I let my children eat popcorn for breakfast, I'm anti-smug today.

  5. I bet these days the smug hair girls also wear those Lelli Kelli shoes (or however you spell it).

  6. Totally agree about the french plait thing. My mum couldn't do one either because she had BETTER things to do with her time than learn. Like go shopping in London and meet her Russian lover.

  7. I can't do fancy hair and neither could my mum.. Why do you think I have boy length hair! I wash it every four days and it takes 5 mins to style and that's it! Love it! I was always jealous of those smug hair girls! Even on school photo day the best my mum could do were two of those hair clips that had lace and ribbon and bobbly bits on them put on my head at irregular angles, with huge tufts of hair sticking out all over the place.. Mind you, we put hair wax on ethan's hair yesterday and it looked like we dipped him in the deep fat fryer. It was hilarious! I'm going to blog about my crap pancakes now so you can feel a bit better... X