This Is When It Sucks to Be a Parent

This is when it sucks to be a parent. In no particular order and in no particular timeline. Feel free to add your own.

When your child is once again the target of a nasty, persistent group of children who punch them to the ground for fun, and then grin at you whilst the teachers turn a blind eye,  That is when it sucks to be a parent.

When your child has done as much work as possible on a project, or a competition and worked so hard towards the end goal, and they get overlooked or a rubbish mark compared to the kids whose parent has clearly done it for them, That is when it sucks to be a parent.

When your kid tells you they feel let down by adults who are meant to care, about their safety, or their health or their well-being in general, That is when it sucks to be a parent.

When you want to go out to a really cool party, or day trip, and not have to plan stuff months in advance ensuring there is a babysitter available who definitely can make that date in x months time, That is when it sucks to be a parent.

When the children expect you to have an answer for an infinite amount of possible questions on everything as far removed as the offside rule or why someone at school called them a name and you could swallow an encyclopedia and still never have all the answers, That is when it sucks to be a parent.

When the weather is shite and the last thing you want to do at 8.30am is walk in it of your own free will whilst two small people bitch you as if it’s your fault its pissing down, That is when it sucks to be a parent.

When you are literally dying of ill health (or so it feels), you can no longer be certain that you haven’t coughed up a lung or are being sick, but the small one or worse ones, are ill too, so you have to forego a duvet day to look after them (and do umpteen piles of washing if it’s a D&V Bug), That is when it sucks to be a parent.

When once upon a time you could survive on a diet of vodka, 20 B&H, and a pot noddle and thus was a size 8, when now you have to have at least 8 cups of strong coffee to get the wherewithal to brush your hair of a morning, and cannot refuse cake, or a leftover chip, thus are a size, ahem, cough, That is when it sucks to be a parent.

When you have to make small talk with other parent’s  who the only thing you have in common with is you had sex around the same time hence why you’re in a playground, although thank god for the small group of “normal” parent’s who aren’t annoying and are as disillusioned as you, That is when it (sometimes) sucks to be a parent.

When instead of being in a kick ass nightclub, or having a lazy pub session of a Friday night, you are instead stuck listening to Let It Go, One Direction and other chart shit at a school disco, wishing it was socially acceptable to sneak in gin, That is when it sucks to be a parent.

Parent’s evening, good or bad, ditto school reports and sports day, These are when it sucks to be a parent.

Losing the beloved bear- the child’s or the class one (actually, the class one is just bollocks, no one really takes a mini break for the school bear’s diary, surely?), That is when it sucks to be a parent.

When the idea of Tom Hardy reading the bedtime story on cBeebies is meant to make up for a day of forced watching of the saccharine irritations of (fucking) Night Garden and (arsing) Charlie and Lola, That is when it sucks to be a (Mum) Parent.

Horrid Henry. The shite, That is when it sucks to be a parent.

And finally, it sucks to be a parent when you know that after the bumps, the homeworks, the disappointments, the questions, the shite TV and music they love, the ill health, the laughs and the good and the bad, before you know it, just like Mini is now, they are wanting to grow up and for you to not hold their hand or hug them in public, and soon after that they are young adults and don’t need you at all bar the odd tenner or a lift home.

That is when it sucks the most.

Why I Will Never Support the RSPCA Again

Those who follow my Instagram will have seen pics since just after we moved to our home last year of Socks, or, as he was known on there #SocksTheSquatterCat.

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One hot day in July last year, I was cooking dinner with the back door open, and the Brats were at the park with Elder. So when I saw, out the corner of my eye, something dart across the living room, I thought we were being burgled.

Luckily, after near on having a heart attack, a little meow confirmed that it wasn’t a burglar but a particularly skinny, hungry cat.

I asked some of neighbours if they knew the cat to be told it was a local cat who didn’t appear to have a home. It was often spotted roaming from home to home on the look out for a saucer of milk or a sly bit off the barbecue. It was very friendly though, and one neighbor said she thought that students had left it behind in a house a couple of doors down when they left, as the landlord had found cat food and bits when he came to clear out.

Each day, Socks- as Mini nicknamed the cat we thought at the time was a girl- would turn up, have a cuddle with the kids, pinch a bit of ham, and then go off, no doubt to the next house on the street.

Mini loves cats so we didn’t mind, but warned that Socks probably had a home somewhere so couldn’t stay.

We would, over time, get used to the little squatter, but she (now he) didn’t stay over night. We would see Socks near school, and on surrounding streets, just like most neighbourhood strays. I felt sure that it was very good as these cats are of being fed via a rub of a neighbour’s legs.

I did think she might be staying in our shed the odd time, as it doesn’t lock, but that didn’t bother me.

A few weeks ago, and Socks disappeared. It was very unlike her to not appear, and Mini was worried.

After asking other neighbours and builder’s near school who had got used to Socks turning up, and having no one see her, I started to worry too. It wasn’t our cat but I didn’t like to think of something bad happening.

So, I asked on a local neighbourhood group had anyone seen Socks, with a picture. I mentioned how Socks was a stray in the area who half the street had been feeding, but my daughter and the rest of us hadn’t seen her in three days so wanted to check everything was OK.

A few months back, Socks had fallen in a pond in a street round the corner, and that lady was concerned too, having seen her about since but not recently. She said she’d keep an eye out as did others, and someone shared my post on a lost animals site too.

Then, during my show on Radioactive, I happened to be scrolling through Facebook when I saw a lady advertise a cat had been hit by a car on our road, and to call a number. This wasn’t directed at me, but did say it was a black and white cat but male.

I couldn’t ring as I thought perhaps Socks had died- she would get scared of car noise but run under a car and into the road. Elder rang and was told the cat was OK, but had a suspected pelvis injury. She was also a he, and the next door neighbour- who we don’t speak to- had found him.

Elder said we weren’t the owners but, if the cat had no chip and would need to be rehomed once better, we would like to be considered.

The lady- who it turned out was from the local RSPCA- said she would get back to us.

This started a very strange set of events which really has put me off the RSPCA and made me question their behaviour towards animals in their care.

She rang back later, saying she had now seen the cat. She then said would Elder like to visit the local vet and check on Socks, and whilst there he could- and this was thrown in casually- “sign some papers regards his treatment being Okayed by us”.

Elder said that he felt we couldn’t do this as it wasn’t really up to us to OK anything, being that we weren’t the owners. He reiterated that the next door neighbour clearly didn’t think were were, and we thought he was a she. He did though say if the RSPCA wanted us to adopt the cat we would be interested to do so as adopted owners.

She ended the call but said we would be seen as owners as I had posted about the cat- yet she had seen this but not phoned me as I had said it was a girl cat. She also told us that the fees were already into the mid £200 area and that was just for two nights stay. This would rise after X-Rays, Anesthetic, and another nights board.

At this point, I rang the vet that Socks was at to be told they were expecting us as “owners” according to the lady from the RSPCA. I told her our situation, and she said she had not been told this.I was also told by others online who had had a cat in a similar situation that it would end up costing us well over £500, possibly up to a £1,000 if the cat had broken it’s pelvis.

Immediately after I ended the call, the RSPCA woman phoned again, and said either we agreed to pay and take “responsibility” for the cat’s injury, or they would offer him for adoption once he was better.

Elder was disgusted by this point, and said that 12 weeks of care, plus vets fees in this time would cost the RSPCA a bundle and would it not just be better to allow us to adopt him like other’s would with a stray, rather than keep telling us we were the owners.

If the cat had of been ours, I would have got Pet Insurance, I also would have had the cat chipped. BUT as I always felt Socks may have a home- it certainly had no issue being gone all night- it would have been theft to claim him as ours at the time.

Not every cat owner has Facebook or the means to advertise locally if a cat goes missing, so the fact he was never soaked through despite the horrendous weather, I felt sure he was someone’s, probably a little old ladies.

We then had to break the news to Mini, who cried herself to sleep, which was just devastating but we felt trapped. Other’s warned me that the RSPCA could very easily fine us in court for not having the cat chipped and not being careful with him hence him being run over if we went along with their request.

I was so angry, so when she phoned for the last time, again declining to acknowledge we were not the owners, we asked her to contact her boss so we could discuss her behaviour.

This call came the next day, and if I thought the first woman was bad I soon found out her boss was worse.

First up, she wouldn’t speak to me at all. I wanted to speak but she told me she wasn’t dealing with me but my partner. I add at this point I had never spoken to the other woman, Elder had, so no idea where this came from.

She was less help though, suggesting to Elder that we fed it so we owned it and was responsible. To which Elder, quite rightly said that if that was the case, the whole neighbourhood was the owner. She just ignored him.

She totally played on the fact she was aware how upset Mini was, saying if we didn’t pay up- with fees ever rising- they would rehome the cat with someone else.

To me, it was pure spite. We wouldn’t allow them to treat us as negligent, and we knew our rights, so they got nasty.

This is a charity, and it appears they would rather remove a cat from its stomping ground and get nasty than allow someone who knows of the cat to adopt it. I would question what they would do if a neighbour wanted to take in the cat of an elderly neighbour who was struggling to care for it, or if someone couldn’t afford vets bills?

I am absolutely livid that they were more interested in us paying them hundreds even a thousand pounds to them than what was in the best interests of the cat?

We all miss Socks now, as do other’s in the neighbourhood, and they have been shocked by the behaviour of people who are supposed to care for animals.

The RSPCA should be ashamed, they haven’t even acknowledged a formal complaint made by me over the situation.

All we and the neighbours did, in essence, was care for a cat they hadn’t bothered with.

If you are considering adopting from them, bear in mind you may be adopting a cat or dog who has a home it misses dreadfully.

And think twice before signing anything- including to pay them a charitable donation once a month.

We Went to a Vintage Weigh and Pay and All We Got Was a (Smelly) Dress…..

As Friday was my birthday and I have long ago told Elder that I prefer to buy my own gift, this year he bunged me cash and I was rather chuffed.

A few weeks back, we got a flyer from Oxfam Record store about a new event coming to Reading Hexagon.

It’s called Vintage Weigh and Pay, and the idea is you pay a few pounds to come in and there is rails and tables with 6 tonnes (yes, 6 whole tonnes) of actual vintage gear for you to look through. A Kilogram is £15, and you get given a lightweight bag on entry.

As someone who loves vintage, loves a bargain and had previously enjoyed the swishing party phenomenon a few years back, I decided to go along.

Vintage Weigh and Pay has a website and is linked to several social media accounts as you’d expect, showing off the previous events around the country and picking folk out who had bagged bargains.

On their site, they link to a Facebook album where they show the types of stuff they get and what you can expect to pay for it.

Spotting lots of vintage sportswear (Elder being a massive fan of vintage Adidas), Doc Martens, little sixties shift dresses and seventies fancy stuff, I was all ready to bag some serious wardrobe deals for cheap prices.

The fact it was promised as being “Grade a” in quality made me happy too- there’s nothing worse than buying a vintage piece only to find rips, holes, or missing buttons which are impossible to replace without a time machine.

Grade A means its the type of stuff that may not be classed as brand new, obviously but is in very good condition, not ready for the bin.

We decided to get there for the Early Bird 10am start, paying £3 per adult to do so. We figured that it would hopefully be less busy that early as we were bringing the Brats- in fact, Mini wanted to find some dresses and things for herself and being near on ten and still rather tall and Twiggy like, we felt she’d find it easy too.

The good thing about the event was it was in a good central location, at our local theater, right on the bus link, and with a coffee shop to boot- as it was bloody freezing! It’s also on the ground floor so accessible if you need it to be.

We walked in and there was several rails, split by men’s and women’s. There was a table haphazardly taken up by handbags and Converse trainers, and it was easy to maneuver round the room by shirts, jumpers, dresses and jeans.

To be honest though, I was slightly disappointed once I started looking through the rails.

It was more jumble sale than Vintage.

We have a shop in Reading, called Harper and Lewis. It sells some vintage but most is “re- imagining” of vintage pieces, which is fine, as they advertise that that is what you’ll get.The stuff on offer at the Vintage Weigh and Pay was cheaper, but more or less the same as the store.

When I’m looking for vintage, due to my time helping out at the Salvation Army shop and helping out Jane who ran it back then, I have learnt what labels to look for or at least what labels looked like back then. If I’m honest, I wasn’t seeing any of these labels anywhere.

The Converse for starters whilst varied in colour, were all more or less a size 5,6 or 10. They also, for the most part, sadly, looked well passed a time when you could wear them, one lady I was rummaging next to mentioned that they looked like someone had “bagged up trainers left after Reading Festival last year” and she wasn’t far off the mark. As this was what Elder had specifically come for- as per the website and album on Facebook- finding no Adidas, no Doc Martens and not even Converse in his size bar a pair that looked ready for a bin was disappointing.

The men’s stuff was pretty horrendous to be fair- I’ve seen better at my local Barnados.(That’s not a lie- I picked up a pair of true vintage Adidas Gazelle in my local one for £1.99, they are mint and I offered to pay extra!). Yes, there was rails of Flannel shirts but those can be picked up pretty easily and just as cheap in second hand stores.

On their website, they suggest they have items from across the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. Really? Not one pair of flares. Not one maxi dress akin to a disco in the 70s. No knitted sex kitten jumpers or skirts.

Copies of Denim dungarees are NOT vintage originals and were more Slim Shady than Second Summer of Love.

I know they can’t guarantee what they’ll have, but listing tables of “accessories” and finding one with handbags I probably stuck in for the rag guy in my second hand shop days was really crap to be honest.

The only person who ended up finding anything was Mini!

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She pulled out one of the few vintage label pieces I saw- a C&A knit sailor dress with Olympic rings on the pocket. Even so, this smelt revolting, and was certainly not Grade A, it was quite bobbly, but after handwashing it and using a blunt razor I managed to salvage it. She also found a later version of a swing dress, although we’ll need to find a belt as that was missing too.

Altogether, we spent nearly £37, which I thought was mental. I did think it was too much, and I was right.

Another website promise is that all jackets and coats wont cost more than £15, yet Elder was charged £19 for his. £4 may not be much but it was yet another false promise on their flash website.

To say I am disappointed is an understatement. And the feeling was shared by other’s who were vocal by the rails on how bad it was, the smell of the clothing and the fact we felt cheated.

Would I go again?

No.

I think you get better items for around the same price in second hand stores and at jumble sales.

Vintage Weigh and Pay- a total rip off that left me in need of febreeze and wondering why on earth I dragged us all out in snow so early in the morning.