26 Things Which are Not OK Even Now We’ve Voted for Brexit

I’m pretty sure all of this will not apply to 99% of the people reading. And I’m sure that most of you are going to be in agreement.

But even if it’s for that 1%, or just to reaffirm what is and isn’t ok (since that seems to have become a little muddy of late) here is my list of what is not ok:


  1. Abusing people for their race on a bus because they asked you to stop swearing.

2. Throwing beer at someone after you abused them on a bus because they asked you to stop swearing.

3. Racist abuse. Full stop.

4. Any kind of racism of any sort whatsoever.

5. Feeling magically entitled to ownership of and rule over everyone in your country because of an accident of birth.

6. Posting hate mail through the letterboxes of people who come from other countries.

7. Telling anyone to “go home” unless, for example, they are drunk and you’re talking about their actual home nearby, and you’re doing it to help. You should still consider adding “please” or framing it as a suggestion, by the way. Because these are basic manners.

8. Any twitter post which smugly celebrates the fact that you were squeezed out in this country instead of another.

9. Any attempt of any kind to attack other people on social media, regardless of their ethnic background, their country of birth, their political or religious beliefs, their sexuality, their hair colour, their gender, or their choice of outfit. This is STILL NEVER GOING TO BE OK IN SPITE OF BREXIT.

10. Stealing. It’s still against the law. Even if you’re stealing from people you deem not to belong here.

11. Physical violence. Yup, still against the law.

12. Making everyone else who is British utterly ashamed that we have the same kind of passport.

13. Hate-fuelled untruths.

14. Hate-fuelled untruths printed on buses.

15. Hate-fuelled untruths spouted at the remaining EU member states (you know exactly who you are…).

16. The printing of hate-fuelled lies on the front page of Britain’s best-selling newspaper.

17. Sudden hypocritical denigration of the racism caused by the hate-fuelled lies printed on the front page of your paper over the preceding few days.

18. Any attempt to maintain that austerity and the NHS crisis is to do with an influx of predominantly young, working-age people from other countries instead of a financial problem (caused in the large part by the elite from our own country) compounded by a government determined to cut taxes whilst also cutting services (pretty few of them are immigrants, too).

19. The grouping of people into “immigrants” and “British” based on what they look like.

20. The grouping of people into “immigrants” and “British” based on what languages they speak

21. The grouping of people into “immigrants” and “British” full-stop.

22. This happening:

Screenshot 2016-06-29 13.18.48


23. And this:


24. A failure to have any decent human sympathy for people fleeing war and conflict.

25. A belief in your god-given right to decide who is in and who is out – except for your right to decide whether BRITAIN is in or out, which you’ve already exercised your right to.

26. Hiding behind vacuous statements about “decent people” being disadvantaged by any other group of people who have not personally attacked them in any way. Personally, I don’t think that “decent” covers anyone who wants to discriminate racially.

27. The spreading of any agenda which does not have, at its heart, tolerance and humanity.


The Thirty Things Guaranteed to Cause a Five-Year-Old Melt-Down

I spotted and re-read The Thirty-Nine Things Guaranteed to Cause a Four-Year-Old Meltdown a few days ago (and by the way, it’s sad how often I do this. Mostly to think “Hey, I was funny!” and occasionally to think, “Ouch. How did I miss the five typos?!” The life of a tortured writer…). Re-reading it made me think about how things have changed now that R is five-going-on-six.

But actually, it partly made me think that things don’t change all that much at all. The triggers have changed, but the meltdowns are still there. Less often (partly because he goes to bed earlier now) and less long-lasting, but just as heartfelt. Because it’s terribly, terribly hard sometimes being a small boy.

So here’s an updated list – the thirty things guaranteed to cause a five-year-old melt-down. Either it’s a shorter list because he’s getting older or I’ve started to zone out when some of them happen.

Any counter-comments from other parents much welcome. Or, you know, if you have boyfriends, girlfriends, friends, etc. who are just as bad, by all means post away.

  1. He accidentally turned off his kindle.
  2. His kindle ran out before his audiobook finished.
  3. He tried to charge his kindle but the charger wouldn’t go in the kindle because it was actually the charger for Mummy’s Macbook and now it’s jammed into the squidgy casing of the kindle.
  4. He put the wrong number on a page in his non-fiction book about traffic lights
  5. He tore out the wrong-numbered page from the non-fiction book about traffic lights he’s writing and then realised he’d written on the other side of the page
  6. He tore out all the pages of his non-fiction book-in-progress about traffic lights and put them in the bin and now he wants them back in his notebook
  7. I came upstairs when he shouted not to in a muffled voice that I couldn’t hear properly.
  8. When I came upstairs I saw him in the middle of getting himself ready for bed all by himself as a surprise and I ruined it.
  9. I wasn’t that impressed with his surprise given it actually meant he had his bottom out and was lying on his bed reading a book about aliens because he’d forgotten what surprise he was doing and started reading
  10. There was no more nutella.*
  11. I had the last of the last nutella, which means it’s my fault that there isn’t any more and I should have known it was gone and got some more from the shop.
  12. It was time to stop playing with the lego.
  13. When tidying away the lego, I told him off for not in fact putting away the lego but driving all the cars up the bookshelf.
  14. He broke one of his cars trying to drive it up the bookshelf.
  15. He didn’t actually choose to play over reading a story at bedtime, he changed his mind and now he wants a book.
  16. I won’t let him read a book when I KNEW he really wanted to read a book and SHOULDN’T have let him play instead and now I’ve made him really upset.
  17. It’s five thirty in the morning and I won’t come downstairs and play lego.
  18. His seatbelt won’t go in.
  19. He told me his seatbelt wouldn’t go in and I asked him to stop fiddling with the string he’d tied to the headrest whilst trying to do the seatbelt, because it might help.
  20. He’s now got the string he tied to the headrest tangled in the seatbelt because I distracted him.
  21. He didn’t want that shape of pasta.
  22. I put the lego piece in the wrong place.
  23. He wasn’t taking the M & Ms, he was counting them and now I ruined it.
  24. He can’t go to bed because he’s still really hungry.
  25. He didn’t want a banana, he wanted something else so he’s still really hungry.
  26. I overtook the Alfa Romeo while he was trying to draw its logo.
  27. The Alfa Romeo logo is too small to see properly and he’s ended up doing a scribble on his page of car logos.
  28. He dropped his biscuit.
  29. He didn’t want another biscuit, he wanted that biscuit.
  30. It’s still bedtime.



* So this one didn’t change.

** I hope the picture is appreciated. My laptop is FULL of these because he opens up photo booth every time I leave it unattended.

How Not to be a Pushy Cambridge Mummy

As is probably obvious to those of you who’ve read a few of my parenting posts, the best way of summing up my “style” is probably “Making it up as I go along.” And I’m going to make the basic assumption that most parents do this. Nobody seriously has time for parenting books when they’re struggling to have enough clean small-boy pants for the morning and remember who’s picking him up later on.

So I basically wing it. But it’s like a swan. On the surface of it is an “I’m sure it’ll be fine” flapping about (people forget that swans flap), while underneath it all are the paddling feet of “Oh my God, I totally did that wrong.”

Beyond being afraid of the obvious ones, like the fear of turning R miserable, arrogant, unfeeling, psychotic, TV addicted, unhealthy, smarmy, angry, spoilt or so nerdy that nobody can talk to him, I have The Fear. It’s the Cambridge Mummy fear, and it’s always there under every interaction.

The trouble is, I see pushy parenting whenever I go out in this fine city of ours. Yesterday, I actually also saw a mum sitting outside Starbucks with her two-year-old, smoking whilst on the phone, and handing him rizla papers to play with. So I’m not saying pushiness is the worst.

However, when Horatio or Pandora is being put forward as some kind of a poetic genius to the store assistants of John Lewis, it makes me cringe first – and then wonder if I’m unknowingly as bad afterwards.

So here is my self-made guide on avoiding being a pushy Cambridge mummy. And remember, it doesn’t relate to anyone I actually know. I promise.

  • Don’t name your child Horatio or Pandora.
  • If too late for no. 1, work very hard on a nickname that sticks.
  • Never complain that your child is not on the more difficult reading books like some of the children, because he “Concentrates better if he’s stretched” and needs moving up.
  • Never compliment your child’s genius to another parent unless said parent is related to you and dotes on your child as much as you do (and note here, even if they are, they probably don’t…)
  • If your child is complimented by another parent, say something rude about them to take away from the compliment. Avoid doing this loudly enough for the child to hear. (This is my method, and it seems to work well. Other answers on a postcard.)
  • Don’t let your five-year-old add “apogee” to their list of tricky words for school. (OK, this was my bad. But it’s off Bedknobs and Broomsticks, so I’ve decided it’s allowed.)
  • Never google things like “What to do if my child is a genius” whilst in Starbucks and your laptop is in full view, and your child is at that point stabbing the table with a bent straw and screeching that it’s broken.
  • Don’t tell them about Oxford, Cambridge and Mensa when they are four.
  • Don’t dress them in a suit to look round their reception class.
  • Don’t decide that they have a gluten intolerance just because Gwyneth Paltrow’s children apparently have one.
  • Never tell other parents that you don’t do playing at the park, you do edu-play.
  • Don’t snigger when your child puts down an adult and is actually right. (I am useless at this one. Absolutely useless.)
  • Don’t buy all their clothes from Joules.
  • Don’t take them around Waitrose and declaim at all the high GI food they should be avoiding.
  • Don’t take them to more than one yoga class in a week.
  • Don’t insist that they count to twenty out loud (aged three) in front of your group of friends for a seriously tenuous reason based on the number of biscuits they dropped.
  • Avoid encouraging them to name their dolls after Salinger characters.
  • Don’t declare to everyone who will listen that your child has only ever enjoyed classical music.
  • Put away the rubix cube.