Oh, how we laughed. But every time I saw it up on the wall, my eye was drawn to the number next to my name. 36. Thirty bloody six. I am Lisa and I am 36.
I can remember my mum being 36. She was a school secretary with 2.4 well presented children, a smart detached house, a dog and an entire wardrobe full of 'clippy cloppy shoes'. I am a sweary writer with a ramshackle house, one eccentric 5 year old, two chickens whose one true ambition is to take over the world, and a pair dilapidated of flipflops. I suck as a grown up. 36 is the sort of age that says "I have arrived as a sensible, mature adult", not "I'm just pretending", which is clearly what my husband and I are doing.
This is neatly summed up by this week's escapades:
Lets start in London, where I was last weekend for the Britmums Live conference: What do you really want to hear at 9pm on a Friday half way through the month when you're starving, drunk and 3 hours from home, which you have to return to the next day, with very little petrol? I'm betting that "Um, we've got 40 quid to last us the month" isn't it. Yet that was what my husband told me. Excellent. Adult fail #1.
I'm going to take a moment here to point out that I have had the Dogtanian theme tune stuck in my head for the entirety of last week. This is another sign that I possibly haven't improved or matured at all since I was, like, 9. I have handily provided it below so you can read the rest of the post with the soundtrack that has been in my brain during all of these activities. You can thank me later:
On to fails #2, #3 and #4: We're back home now. I've noticed for a couple of weeks that the odd wasp was getting into Rory's room even though all the windows were shut. The same thing happened a couple of years ago, and it turned out to be down to an enormous wasps nest in the roof. We didn't work this out until we came home one day to find the bedroom full of hundreds the little fuckers, buzzing angrily and displaying their arse daggers. This time, I was on to them. I phoned Richard at work to let him know that his wasp extermination expertise would be required, because, you know, that ended SO WELL last time. It was about this point that I started to notice a vague eggy smell emanating from the kitchen...or the conservatory...or somewhere. I took the executive decision to ignore it because I am completely crap at being a responsible adult.
Firmly closing Rory's door to prevent an influx of flying minions of Satan in the house, I went downstairs congratulating myself on my excellent disaster prevention skills and went through to the kitchen to knock something up for tea out of 3 mouldy carrots and half an onion (no money, remember). Hmmmm, how did that black patch of stuff get on the ceiling? Oh, and there's some on the walls. Wait, what's that moving on the cupboards? Oh. The ants are back. ABANDON CARROTS, ABANDON CARROTS, ANT EMERGENCY. At this stage, it became obvious that the ants (both normal and flying variety) were spewing out of the cracks between the cupboards like some sort of minibeast lava.
"RORY, THE HOOVER, IF YOU PLEASE."
"AWESOME! Are the ants back?""They are indeed. Now where's that insect spray?"
Now imagine an hour and a half of ant homicide with a can of Chemical Evil, a vacuum cleaner, the Dogtanian theme tune on repeat in my head (complete with key change) and a small child hopping excitedly from one foot to the other shouting "BRING ON THE KILLING." Imagine the carcasses of ants dropping in my hair and down the back of my top. Imagine the ceiling dripping with ant spray. Now stretch your imagination to its very limits and imagine that this really isn't as bad as it sounds because - hurrah - it is detracting from the sulphurous stench of doom, which has suddenly reached a whole new level of wrong.
At this point, my friend Claire turned up at the door to drop off a bottle of fake Aldi Pimms, and I could have dry humped her, even though she's a proper grown up who has a tidy house and mint growing in her garden. Imagine. Anyway, what a star.
Richard arrives home, having spent our last 20 quid on wasp busting equipment. He pulls on his patented Wasp Killing Hoodie, goes up his ladder and does unspeakable things to wasps. There is an angry buzzing noise and then blissful silence. He comes downstairs, sweating.
"What's that repugnant smell?" he asks, before I've even had a chance to tell him about the ants. He eyes my Pimms (second glass) suspiciously. Obviously I now look like the sort of useless housewife who ignores a fetid stench all day long, doesn't bother making dinner and sits around eating bon bons and drinking. I mean, obviously I am that kind of housewife, but I do my best not to look like it, plus I had slayed the ants, so I am a little crestfallen.
"I think it might be coming from the conservatory, under the floor," I venture.
At which point, Richard decides to start hacking into the floor and ripping it up. On the up side, I was right. On the down side, we now have a massive hole in the conservatory floor and the smell has reached toxic levels. I do the only sensible thing that I could do at the time:
"Wait, tell me you're not instagramming our festering hole?" shrieks my exasperated husband. Er, yes. Yes I am.
He pulls up the drain cover and pokes half heartedly about with a stick.
"What are you doing daddy?" asks our son.
"Trying to see if anything's blocking the drain," replies Richard. "Or maybe something's died under the ground and is rotting and making the smell."
He gives up on the stick and pokes his arm down the drain and has a feel about.
"HAVE YOU FOUND ANY DEAD, ROTTING THINGS YET?" asks Rory, excitement back at fever pitch. "AND CAN I TAKE THIS ANT TO SCHOOL TO SHOW THE CLASS?"
I don't really know where to go from there. The cause of the smell was never found. I emptied a load of boiling hot water and bleach down the stink hole, and that seems to have worked, although I fully expect it to be a temporary solution. We still have a floor-less hole in the conservatory. I have solved the ant problem by sellotaping up all the cracks between the cupboards, which looks ace, I can tell you. I fully expect Cox & Cox to start stocking a rustic kitchen accessory range to complement it, such is its charm. As far as we know, the wasps are all dead. And we had to chuck away the carrots because I forgot to put them in the fridge while I was ant killing, so they got covered in chemical warfare. We had toast and Marmite for tea that night. Dogtanian continues to play in my head. This never happened to my mother when she was 36. This never happens to anyone else I know who is 36. Still, at least I'm really really good at colouring in.