Drowning not waving 10 November 2011

5:00pm Friday 11th November 2011

I’M not sure what the tipping point was.

Drowning not waving November 3rd 2011

2:00pm Thursday 3rd November 2011

One of my mum’s finest achievements was to give birth to me at the end of October.

Drowning not waving Thursday 27th October

2:00pm Thursday 27th October 2011

It’s Saturday – and my husband’s second day in bed with a cold.

Drowning not waving

9:00am Friday 14th October 2011

I’m not normally one to start a petition or protest in public, but I can see an exception coming on.

Drowning not waving

1:30pm Thursday 6th October 2011

We have just finished a discussion about whether Kellog’s cornflakes are actually smaller these days than they used to be – or is it just that 50 years ago our mouths were those of stunted five-year-olds – when my husband looks over to me and says “what are you eating?” in a tone that could wither a field of maize at 50 paces.

Drowning not waving

1:30pm Friday 30th September 2011

MY husband’s playing guitar in public for the first time ever this weekend.

Drowning not waving, the lighter side of family life

1:33pm Thursday 11th August 2011

THE BBC is definitely missing a trick when it comes to its coverage of the news.

Drowning not waving, the lighter side of family life

8:50am Thursday 28th July 2011

My husband and I are looking at each other over the dining table, both trying to keep our eyes open and feign interest in what the other might be about to say.

Drowning not waving - the lighter side of family life

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Sue Pycroft

12:16pm Thursday 21st July 2011

It’s a friend’s birthday today, and I’m going to drop off a cookery book featuring vegetable dishes to her, on my way to work.

Drowning not waving - the lighter side of family life

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Sue Pycroft

8:25am Thursday 14th July 2011

I’m having a half-hearted go at tidying and cleaning the house ready for our visitor this weekend.

Drowning not waving, the lighter side of family life

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Sue Pycroft

9:22am Thursday 7th July 2011

Six of us are sitting round a table at an annual charity quiz. This local charity is an admirable one and, obviously we all applaud the good work it does but, once we’ve got the raffle tickets over with, things start to shake down a bit.

Sue Pycroft

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Sue Pycroft

8:27am Thursday 30th June 2011

There are some real advantages in having young children to take away on holiday with you – priority boarding on the plane, an excuse to go on waterslides, being allowed to squeal out loud with delight when you spot a crab – but travelling a deux without juvenile accessories does have its upsides, too.

Drowning not waving, the lighter side of family life

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Sue Pycroft

8:45am Thursday 16th June 2011

I’m on a three-day course on writing short stories in London.

Drowning not waving, the lighter side of family life

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Sue Pycroft

12:12pm Thursday 2nd June 2011

I'm sitting in my garden on a sunny bank holiday, drinking a cup of nice strong coffee and talking to a friend on my mobile phone.

Drowning not waving - The lighter side of family life

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Sue Pycroft

1:34pm Thursday 26th May 2011

I’m not brilliant at remembering what temperature different things should be, which is why, if my husband takes a thermometer out of his mouth, shivers violently, wipes the sweat from his brow and says “aaah… 40.3 ….” he might as well be reciting limericks in Urdu for all the sense it makes to me.

Drowning not waving - the lighter side of family life

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Sue Pycroft

1:30pm Thursday 19th May 2011

I’m just six weeks away from a brief holiday in warmer climes, and the cushion – nay, small armchair – of fat around my midriff shows no signs of melting in the spring weather.

Drowning not waving - the lighter side of family life

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Sue Pycroft

1:47pm Thursday 12th May 2011

Doesn’t time fly when you’re enjoying yourself? I think, when I hear that our coalition government is already one year old.

Drowning not waving - the lighter side of family life

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Sue Pycroft

11:39am Thursday 5th May 2011

“If you pass me the bin bags,” says my husband leaning in at the back door, “I’ll do your bins for you.”

Drowning not waving - the lighter side of family life

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Sue Pycroft

12:11pm Thursday 28th April 2011

I’m sitting in a bar in a small town in Romania with a handful of journalists who have come to report on an emerging tourist destination.

Drowning not waving - the lighter side of family life

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Sue Pycroft

9:22am Thursday 14th April 2011

I’m on a short business trip to Germany with a bunch of strangers, and we’re between flights, sitting in an executive lounge in Munich airport, courtesy of our hosts.

Drowning not waving - the lighter side of family life

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Sue Pycroft

8:46am Thursday 31st March 2011

It might be a sign of advancing age or retreating patience, but I’ve reached the point where my deepest held convictions have sunk without trace.

Drowning not waving - the lighter side of family life

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Sue Pycroft

8:35am Thursday 24th March 2011

Can this country have a better potential leader than Constance Reed of Lydiard Millicent?

Drowning not waving - the lighter side of family life

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Sue Pycroft

12:22pm Thursday 10th March 2011

I’m lying in bed, waiting for the alarm to go off.

Drowning not waving - the lighter side of family life

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Sue Pycroft

1:53pm Thursday 3rd March 2011

I emerge from a dream where an animal with more than a passing resemblance to a tyrannosaurus rex has been biting my head off.

Sue Pycroft

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Sue Pycroft

3:25pm Thursday 24th February 2011

I’m sitting next to my colleague in work, while she makes the phone call. I’m too cross to make it.

Drowning not waving - the lighter side of family life

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Sue Pycroft

1:22pm Thursday 17th February 2011

Even though I’m the wrong side of 50 and pay taxes and sometimes watch Newsnight, I still can’t stop myself from taking the default position of a child of six in certain situations.

Drowning not waving - the lighter side of family life

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Sue Pycroft

12:06pm Thursday 10th February 2011

The voice at the end of the phone is my sister’s, telling me that my mother has fallen on the steps outside her house and hit her head and the paramedics are with her as we speak.

Drowning not waving - the lighter side of family life

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Sue Pycroft

11:57am Thursday 3rd February 2011

I’m standing in the queue for security at Ibiza airport. I’ve been on a whistle-stop tour of the Balearic which is notorious for its summer clubbing but in winter is as quiet as Barry Island, though a lot sunnier, prettier and with better fish and chips.

Drowning not waving - the lighter side of family life

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Sue Pycroft

1:29pm Thursday 27th January 2011

The Saturday before Christmas, at about 10.30 at night, we bought a television. It was not a decision we took lightly.

Drowning not waving - the lighter side of family life

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Sue Pycroft

8:48am Thursday 20th January 2011

My husband sits down on the stairs and takes off his shoes. He looks balefully at each sole and tuts quietly.

Drowning not waving - the lighter side of family life

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Sue Pycroft

12:09pm Thursday 13th January 2011

My heart sinks as I open the envelope and see the words HM Revenue & Customs at the top of the letter. One of the customs of Her Majesty’s government is to increase their revenue every January by asking me to slip them part of my earnings from this column. In fact, it’s not until I’ve written at least 250 words that I start to be able to pay for the laptop I’m typing this on. Up until then, my fee goes towards Trident or flu vaccines or the payment of rent and council tax on second homes that turn out not to actually exist. So as I skim the letter, I’m already as sure as damn it that it’s going to remind me that I owe them a cheque by January 31 at the latest. However, despite the fact that nothing is certain but death and taxes, even taxes can do the unexpected now and again. I stop skimming and start reading properly. It’s something to do with National Insurance contributions and changes in the dates of direct debits. Direct debits to HMRC? I don’t think I knew I had such a thing. I go upstairs and hunt for what might be a bank statement, rip open the envelope, and there, sure enough, on page 3 is a line that says 5 March 2009 with a string of random numbers and letters next to it and a donation of almost a tenner. I look up and down the page at all the other entries, and realise how poorly acquainted my current account and I are with each other. I suppose I could make the first move and start opening the envelopes and reading the statements once a month, but the relationship is doomed to failure. I can’t be doing with the tedium, and my current account can’t be doing with the suspicious questioning… go on, prove that I took thirty quid out of a cashpoint machine in Cardiff on May 3, 2010, when I wasn’t even in the area. Oh, yes, sorry, after that concert at the CIA, now I remember … I ring the number on the letter, confident I’ll get no reply while the civil servants are wading through their millions of tax returns, and someone picks up the phone almost immediately. Yes, he assures me, I’ve been paying them a tenner a month for the best part of a decade. No, he assures me, I shouldn’t have been doing so. In fact, he’s surprised I didn’t notice it back in 2004. If I’ll allow him to send me a form, he can arrange for me to receive the £700 overpayment as soon as possible. In the background he can hear the sound of what seems to be a chimpanzee, whooping with delight. That’s me. I’ll allow him to send me the form. Before the money has even left 11 Downing Street, it’s already burned a hole through my current account and is desperately trying to find a new home for itself. Is it to transform itself into a city break to Venice, or to morph into a spa weekend somewhere in the Lakes? Could it be about to become a pair of boots and a new winter coat? A small voice in one of the lesser used areas of my brain ventures that perhaps it could pay off the balance of a credit card, or even sit in a deposit account for a few months, but it’s a very small voice indeed and the rest of my faculties find this idea so risible that I’m pretty sure we won’t be hearing from it again for a considerable time. I’m about to email my husband to tell him the good news about Venice, which has been decided without my even noticing, when the phone goes. I stare at it. This could be the dentist, with news about my broken crown and bridge. Or it could be the garage, with the diagnosis on the elderly Audi’s lack of lights. Or it could be the builder, booking in a slot to repair the extractor fans in the loft. I let it ring and ring until it stops. Then, instead of beginning an e-mail, I go straight to the Easyjet site. While it’s loading, I reach for our passports and my credit card.

Drowning not wavaing - the lighter side of family life

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Sue Pycroft

10:49am Thursday 6th January 2011

Well, we’re less than a week into 2011 and already economists and MPs are warning that we’re in for a very bumpy ride indeed.

Drowning not waving - the lighter side of family life

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Sue Pycroft

11:53am Thursday 30th December 2010

My response to the prospect of ten days off work without a Mediterranean holiday to divert me – which is how I like to waste valuable household chore time in the summer – is Pavlovian.

Drowning not waving - the lighter side of family life

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Sue Pycroft

2:01pm Thursday 23rd December 2010

As we slide – literally – towards Christmas Day, many people are going to have to rethink their plans because of the weather.

Drowning not waving - the lighter side of family life

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Sue Pycroft

9:02am Thursday 16th December 2010

Are you all ready for Christmas? ask complete strangers as they serve you at checkouts or the pharmacy counter.

Drowning not waving - the lighter side of family life

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Sue Pycroft

12:16pm Thursday 9th December 2010

It’s seven o’clock in the morning, and while the rest of the street is asleep I’m slipping and sliding back and fore between the car and the house, trying to relieve the car of most of its contents before I drive away.

Drowning not waving - the lighter side of family life

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Sue Pycroft

8:48am Thursday 2nd December 2010

If you’re one of the world’s great and good, that world must seem a very challenging place at the moment.

Drowning not waving - the lighter side of family life

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Sue Pycroft

8:52am Thursday 25th November 2010

I get to work and find an envelope with my name on it propped up on my desk.

Drowning not waving - the lighter side of family life

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Sue Pycroft

12:33pm Thursday 18th November 2010

It’s quite early on a dark winter’s morning and I’m driving along a country road, heading for a business breakfast meeting.

Drowning not waving - the lighter side of family life

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Sue Pycroft

8:36am Thursday 11th November 2010

“Any idea what you’d like for your birthday?” I say to my husband, looking up from my magazine.

Drowning not waving - the lighter side of family life

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Sue Pycroft

8:44am Thursday 4th November 2010

Did you know, says my mum in a tone of voice that really belongs in Tunbridge Wells, that half of parents these days actually bribe their children to get them to read?

Drowning not waving - the lighter side of family life

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Sue Pycroft

1:13pm Thursday 14th October 2010

I’m off to China next week, on a fact-finding trade mission.

Drowning not waving - the lighter side of family life

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Sue Pycroft

1:49pm Thursday 7th October 2010

No need to buy anything for dinner tonight, says the email from my husband.

Drowning not waving - the lighter side of family life

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Sue Pycroft

11:18am Thursday 30th September 2010

So we’ve got yet another generation of the Labour party, if now-not-so-red Ed’s inaugural speech is anything to go by.

Drowning not waving - the lighter side of family life

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Sue Pycroft

9:08am Thursday 23rd September 2010

I’m at my mum’s, taking a brief pit-stop off the Welsh end of the M4.

Drowning not waving, the lighter side of family life

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Sue Pycroft

11:28am Thursday 16th September 2010

For the first time in years, I’ve chosen a late-night flight back from Greece to Bristol.

Drowning not waving - the lighter side of family life

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Sue Pycroft

3:30pm Thursday 26th August 2010

When children start to leave the nest, we middle-aged women plan our triumphant return to those distant days when our definition of anxiety was whether we could fit eight supper guests round our second hand Habitat table or who would win the Booker prize this year.

Drowning not waving - the lighter side of family life

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Sue Pycroft

11:54am Thursday 19th August 2010

Three months into my gym membership and I’ve dropped out again, ignoring the urgent messages left on my mobile to get in touch with the personal trainer.

Drowning not waving - the lighter side of family life

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Sue Pycroft

9:17am Thursday 12th August 2010

I’ve taken a few hours off work to take my son and his mate to an unmarked field on Google maps where they are going to spend two days and nights listening to band after band armed only with a bit of camping equipment and various strengths of alcohol.

Drowning not waving - the lighter side of family life

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Sue Pycroft

3:51pm Thursday 5th August 2010

It’s still early days in the second half of the first century of my life, but I think things are looking up for us nifty fifties.


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