We’ve had this very posh plonk for nearly a year so it seemed wrong not to drink it on a night away from parental duties.
Will it be drunk on a yacht whilst bikini clad babes and six pack toned hunks parade their assets whilst listening to the latest funky house beats from a French DJ spotting a man bun and ray bans?
No, it will be drunk lukewarm from plastic wine glasses in a standard double hotel room (bought through Groupon of course, we’re not made of money you know) whilst watching the Chase and Pointless. Why I hear you ask? Because that’s how we roll, it’s time to wind down, and quite honestly we’ve forgotten what it’s like not to be asked for cheese and juice every two minutes.
Gone are the days of bikini clad yacht posing (although if I’m honest I’ve never done it, the closest I ever got was having a cup of tea on the ferry to Bruges). This is reality, and I’m good with that.
Secret Agents might not all have the same ability as Ethan Hunt climbing an 828m tall building, or the je ne sais quoi of Mr Bond emerging from the sea in ridiculously tiny trunks (I may have re-wound that moment back a few times to check where the beach was, obviously), but we all know they’re out there somewhere doing super top secret stuff to ensure the safety of the nation and to prevent the likes of evil chair wielding cat strokers.
Usually Secret Agents are 21 and over, but what if the information and intelligence gathering duties were passed over to the likes of toddlers? “What?” I hear you cry, well read on and you shall discover why toddlers would make great secret agents.
1. Anyone who owns a toddler in this current day and age will know that they seem to be born with built in technology and swipe intelligence. Whether it’s a phone, a tablet, a tracking device, a radio transmitter, or a Single Digit Sonic Agitator, the kids are all over it.
2. They have supersonic hearing especially when the word chocolate, sweet or anything remotely unworthy of little ears is uttered.
3. Toddlers have the ability to fit and hide into the tightest of spaces. They are best at doing this in busy social situations, any clothes packed sale rails, signs, and doors are a preferred choice of camouflage.
4. “Awww look at her, look at her wittle chubby chops, she’s soooo cute” BOOOOOOOM! You picked the wrong toddler to get all cutesy with. Cute kids, what a way to lull the enemy into a false sense of security.
5. Deadly poo and farts with the incredible ability to empty a room in t-minus two seconds. How a small person can make a stench a farty pig would be proud of is beyond belief.
6. Nocturnal ability. Night or day, who cares when you’re a toddler, if you want to have a tantrum about a toy helicopter at 4am in the morning then who cares because you’re a toddler and time means sh*t. Night missions, no problem.
7. 20/20 eyesight. The unbelievable ability to spot a toy/sweet/chocolate/train/aeroplane/parent eating chocolate (delete as necessary) from miles away.
8. Fluent in a number of languages, primarily English with a smattering of gobbledygook.
9. Courage, I’m not talking the Lion from The Wizard of Oz courage, I’m talking the no fear when jumping off the top of a table/chair/climbing frame/stairs/bed (the list is endless) kind of courage. This also relates to the courage of not giving an actual damn, for example asking a lady why she’s sat in a wheelchair and why that man’s so fat (cringe).
10. And finally the constant questioning, oh god the constant questioning *grabs wine and takes a glug*. If there’s one thing toddlers are sh*t hot at, it’s asking questions…all of the time.
Imagine the scene
In a room a suspected drug lord is sat across from a intrigued toddler.
Toddler: “What’s a drug lord?“, “What’s a drug lord?“, “What’s a drug lord?“, “What’s a…”
Suspected drug lord: “Somebody please stop this kid!”
Toddler: “Are you a drug lord?“, “Are you a drug lord?“, “Are you a drug lord?”
*The suspected drug lord shakes and wipes the sweat from his brow*
Toddler: “Are you a drug lord?“, “Are you a drug lord?“, “Are you a drug lord?“, “Are you a drug lord?”
Suspected Drug Lord: “YESSSS, someone shut this kid up, I confess, YESSSSS I’m a drug lord!”
The struggle is real, being an over questioned parent, not a drug lord obviously.
So there you have it, toddlers would make pretty valuable additions to the secret service no doubt about it. Although you’re not having mine MI5, I’ll put up with the questioning, chocolate/sweets radar, and atomic farts for a little while longer, you can have Mr Bond back.
Like many little girls, Belle was always the Disney princess I aspired to be. Beautiful, intelligent, thoughtful, and kind. Let’s not forget that amazing dress and the fact she got her Prince Charming in the end (Well after a miraculous shave and a crash diet).
So did I turn out to be the beautiful, intelligent, thoughtful and kind Belle? In a word… no, although I’d like to think I’ve mastered the thoughtful and kind element. The other two aspects are very much debatable.
I didn’t get the big swishy dress, but one thing I did manage to do was bag my very own Beast Prince Charming, and I’m happy to report he has much less fur and less bitey teeth. He’s pretty crap at timekeeping and I’m relatively sure he has a mild to medium form of narcolepsy, but all of that aside he’s definitely a keeper.
Life is good, but bloody hell it’s hard and certainly not the fairytale I dreamt of as a young girl. That said I can’t help but wonder what Belle would have been like after she had been married to the Beast for five years with two little mini Beasts in tow.
So in true Disney style below is my interpretation (with a bit of a Yorkshire twang) of Belle’s song with a more realistic angle. Feel free to sing along.
Little house, in a quiet village
Every day like the one before
Little house full of whingey people
Waking up to say…
There goes the toddler waking up, like always
The same old whines and moans to yell
Every morning just the same
At 6am mini beasts came
To see a poor tired parents frown
Good morning Belle
Good morning Daddy, er I mean Beast
Where are you off to?
Aldi, I need to pick up some strong coffee, nappies, wipes, milk and bread.
That’s nice. Can you get me some sandwich meats for lunch? LITTLE BEAST!! Stop poking me in the head
Look, there she goes
The lass is strange, no question
Dazed and distracted, can’t you tell?
Never part of any crowd
Cause her head’s up on some cloud
No denying she’s a mummy now, that Belle
How is your family?
How is your wife?
I need….a Greggs
That’s too expensive! *What Greggs?!
There must be more than this abysmal* life!
*Ok so abysmal is a tad extreme but I was struggling to find something to rhyme
Man at the Library:
Good morning. I’ve come to return the kids book I borrowed
Man at the Library:
Yes I’ve read it to them at least a hundred times and they still aren’t bored yet. Please tell me you’ve got something else?
Man at the Library:
Not since yesterday
That’s alright. Ok then we’ll borrow this one (After an argument with toddler over said book as it’s not the right colour or size)
Man at the Library:
That one? But you’ve read it twice!
What Charlie Cooks Favourite Book? Yes it’s my favourite, I like doing all the voices; my pirate and knight are especially impressive.
Man at the Library:
Well if you like it all that much, it’s yours
Really? What actually free? What’s the catch? I mean do you need my email address or something so you can constantly spam me?
Man at the Library:
No catch, I insist!
Nice one, ta very muchly!
Look, there she goes, that lass is super human
I wonder if she’s feeling well
She seems a little snappy
Because her nose is in a nappy
She needs to be an octopus that Belle
Ewwww…isn’t this disgusting?
It’s my least best part of being mummy
Here’s where I see the bogies
Crusting on my newly washed leggings
On both my knees!
Now it’s a wonder why her name means “beauty”
Her looks are fuelled on Zinfandel
But behind that zombie plod
I’m afraid she feels a fraud
Very distant from the rest of us
Group of mums:
She’s struggling like the rest of us
Yes, normal like the rest of us is Belle
The next part is traditionally sung by Gaston and Lefou, but for the purposes of this it shall be sang by the beast and Trevor (yes I totally made that up) his best friend.
Wow you look knackered Beast. Are you tired?
I know, yes I’m exhausted. I’m always working, the kids are non-stop and Belle does not stop nagging at me
Oh dear, it doesn’t sound like the fairytale it used to be
I know I still really love her but she just seems to have lost her mojo
Does she not still have that flouncy gold dress?
No she mostly lives in snot and food stained clothes and never wears matching bra and knickers.
But she was…
The most beautiful girl in town? She was but now she has more hair on her legs than I ever did
That bad huh?
Yes well since she had the kids I’ve been put to the bottom of the pile
Go on then tell me about it
Right from the moment when the kids were born
The trouser kisses were just shelved
Although I must agree
She makes a nice hot tea
So I need to re-woo and de-hairy Belle
Group of mums:
Look Beast it’s hard to be a mummy
Hey Beast it’s hard to be a wife
Give her a chance, she feels like screaming
It’s not the perfect mummy kind of life!
She’s shoving cake in
You need some wipes!
It’s real life
There’s too much poo!!
Woman 2: …
…They smell of hamsters
There must be more than this abysmal* life!
*Once again, a bit harsh, and purely for rhyming slackness
I’m so proud to call lovely Belle my wife! (Even if she does look a bit of a bugger and nags a lot)
Life as a mum can be a little stressful
Often a challenge not to yell
I used to be quite slim
Pass the tonic and the gin
It’s super being a mummy
Bar the wobbly wibbly tummy
Yes I do love being a mummy…..it’s just swell! (Well most of the time)
The closer we got to the studios, the nerves were starting to kick in, but before I knew it I saw the sign. We had arrived at Elstree Studios. The driver stopped at the security booth, and they directed him to studio nine where Virtually Famous was being filmed. Once the driver stopped outside the studio, we were immediately welcomed by one of the very friendly assistant producers who ushered us to our dressing room. En route we walked past the very funny Romesh Ranganathan, both Rich and I did that telepathic ‘Did you see who that was?’ look to each other. Got to play it cool and all that. Hang on wait a second, rewind a bit, our own dressing room? Did you say our own dressing room? You know I’m just a mere girl from Yorkshire who boobed tanned her baby right? I don’t deserve my own dressing room, I just thought I’d be sat straight in the seats to watch the show. But if you insist, we shall happily oblige. Not only that, we got fed! One way to win me over is with food, especially if it involves duck and dauphinoise potatoes. If Carlsberg did nights out. Food devoured, I took a little trip to the ladies (but more for a quick nosy around). In the room next to us was the comedian Russell Kane, and when he said ‘Alright?’ all I could manage to utter was a quick ‘Hi’. The only way I could describe my awkwardness, is in comparison to Perry of Kevin and Perry fame, well, apart from the Kangol hat and ape like arm swinging. I was starting to realise I wasn’t as good at ‘playing it cool’ as I’d always said would be if I met a celeb. As nervous as a pig in a bacon factory, yes, cool as a cucumber, nope.
A bit later one of the assistant producers came to take us for a look round the studio to give us an idea of where we’d be sitting and what would be happening. Cue inevitable photos of me posing in the studio. My first experience of a TV studio, and I was going to be a part of it. Oh balls, now it really was real.
Back to the dressing room and a bit more time to kill pre showtime. Bugger it, I’m having a Mars bar. One Mars bar, a bottle of water and another nervous wee later, it was time to be seated. We got escorted into the studio, and the previously unoccupied seats were now full. Holy shiitake mushroom! I was then mic’d up (whilst people watched wondering ‘who’s she?’, ‘why she being mic’d up’, etc). The main thoughts running through my head at this point; ‘Aw bab is it too late to pull out?’, ‘Can they hear me speaking?’, ‘Will people think I’m a cockwomble?’, ‘What will I say?’, ‘Do I have any duck and dauphinoise in my teeth?’
Mic’d up and seated, the warm up guy got the audience really going (I guess that’s why he’s there), and everyone was enjoying themselves. It didn’t take long before I started to forget the real reason why I was there. The panellists and guests were all introduced and it was time to role. Lights, camera, action.
I’ll try not go into too much detail because you can see it for yourself, but as part of the show Mark from MIC was asked to identify a few objects. One of which was a Pot Noodle, to which he remarked something along the lines of ‘It’s some type of wartime rationing food’. So another one of the panellists said ‘That was my staple diet at uni’, so Mark responded with ‘Ew which University, Leeds?’. As a girl from Leeds/Wakefield I thought I could mention it somehow as a bit of a joke. The entire time I was having an inner monologue argument with myself which sounded something like this, ‘Yeah I’ll say something funny about it just for a laugh, no actually I won’t, well I suppose I could, it might make people laugh, no no I won’t I don’t want to look like a tool’. Argument resolved, I’m not going to. Then before I knew it Kevin McHale questioned ‘Where’s Gemma Colley?’, the cameras all panned my way, and everyone’s eyes were suddenly on me. Aw crap! Cue a bumbling rabbit in headlights. ‘So Gemma, can you explain why you’re here?’. Just to clarify I can’t really remember a great deal of what happened or what was said. It was all a bit of a whirlwind. But this I think is something along the lines of what I said, ‘Hi, yes well I got a spray tan for a wedding, went home and went about my daily duties, had a Pot Noodle because I’m from Leeds, and that’s what we do.’ Oh god, I said it! I thought we had this discussion, and we agreed we weren’t going to say it you absolute dimwit! To make matters worse I’m pretty sure I saw some tumbleweed pass through the studio. Well done Gemma, you do look like a cockwomble afterall. I could almost feel my husband want to melt into his seat and I wouldn’t blame him. He wasn’t the only one. I spent the remainder of the show hoping they were going to say ‘Gemma that was crap, let’s do it again’. They didn’t. All I can say is I hope their editing team are good and have plenty of canned laughter at their disposal. I’d also like to thank my hubby for making a very valid point, what if they totally edit out the Pot Noodle bit with Mark, then as a result I’m just going to sound like a complete knob jockey randomly declaring to the world I eat Pot Noodles because I’m from Leeds. I can officially say this isn’t the case. Don’t get me wrong I have enjoyed the odd one in my life, but it’s not a regular thing. So if you happen to watch the show whenever it gets aired, I hope this may explain my odd remarks and douchebag appearance, that’s if they don’t completely edit out. I shall be watching through my fingers accompanied with a huge glass of wine.
After the show we were lucky enough to attend a bit of the wrap party and enjoy a few well needed drinks. We even had a chat with the very lovely Russell Kane, this time managing to string a few sentences together, and not a Perry in sight. It must’ve been the Dutch courage. A couple of G&T’s later, and in the mindset that I probably won’t get another opportunity like it, I did the thing I always said I wouldn’t do if I met someone famous, and here is the evidence; Yup, I did the ‘Can I have a picture?’ thing. They were all troopers, and more than happy to oblige.
With photos taken, our car had arrived to take us back to the hotel, it was time to leave the professionals to it. What a great night we’d had, but it was time to get back to the hotel, and to reality. We decided a drink in the hotel bar would nicely round off the evening, but £12 for one cocktail? You’d get three cocktails for that where I live. So the tight Yorkshire lass in me opted for a Baileys and milk. Back in the room the inevitable happened…..kettle on, PJ’s on, brew made, and rugby league on the TV. You can take the girl out of Yorkshire, but you can’t take the Yorkshire out of the girl. The next day (after an epic lie in until 9am, and a lovely full English breakfast) we did the tourist thing and went for a quick look round Westminster, at the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, and had a shufty round the impressive Tate Art Gallery. I remembered seeing a Barbara Hepworth display and saying proudly ‘She’s from Shakey Wakey our lad’. A little bit of home in the big city. Tourist mode up and time to go, we enjoyed our last chauffeur driven trip to Kings Cross to catch our train.
We had a great time in London, so I want to say a massive thank you to Talkback for such a great and well organised experience. Thank you for having us, hopefully I didn’t balls up your programme too much. All will be revealed when it’s aired.
A few hours later we were home, and most importantly, back to our beautiful boys. I know it was only a night, but by Jove we missed those little buggers, even if we knew the next morning we’d be up at 6am listening to ‘Mummy, Daddy, get up, it’s morning time. Let’s go downstairs’. Bye to lie ins and private loo visits, hello to umpteen nappy changes, and constant questioning, ‘Why mummy? Why? But why though?’. Mummy mode fully activated.
As much fun as we had in London, I wouldn’t trade my fart, poop, bogey filled life with the boys for anything else. Don’t get me wrong though the odd child free romantic weekend away would be just delightful (Hint hint Richard if you happen to be reading this).
So, there you have it, that’s what went down in London Town. One thing I do know is I’ll never look at a Pot Noodle in the same way.
*UPDATE* By the way you can see Virtually Famous on a Tuesday night at 10pm on e4 or on Friday night at 11pm on channel 4. I think my probably embarrassing performance is the last episode.
Two weeks ago I was in the big smoke, or London as most people know it.
The hubby and I had a rare Friday night away. A stark contrast to the usual feet up on the sofa, glass of Aldi’s finest Sparkling Marlborough (don’t knock it, it’s the best trust me) in hand, PJ’s on, and Gogglebox on the TV, kind of night we’re used to.
On the back of my recent mishap (you know the one, involving the spray tan, baby, and 5 o’clock shadow), I was asked if I’d like to be on a show called Virtually Famous. A comedy panel show on e4 discussing videos/clips etc. from the Internet. Having seen it before and finding it very amusing, I was more than happy to accept a bit of inevitable fun being poked out of me. All in the name of comedy of course, and in exchange for a trip down to London. After all we’ve got to take advantage of these rare offers in life when they come.
The producers were incredibly helpful and sent me a very thorough timetable with train times, and pick up times. Pick up times? You mean we don’t have to spend most of the day underground staring at coloured lines on a map trying to figure out where the hell we’re going? Woo hoo!
When we arrived at Kings Cross I was expecting a regular black cab, but instead there was a black Mercedes with blacked out windows, plush leather seating, and a very smart driver waiting to take us to our hotel.Well bugger me, I could get used to this. I was in my element in the back of that car seeing the sights and people of bustling London. Kudos to anyone who drives round London. My goodness, it’s so busy and the small gaps between cars you sometimes have to get through. I’d definitely be in squeaky bum mode all the time, especially driving a car that probably cost near enough £50,000. I thought I’d done well getting round the city loop in Leeds. It would seem not.
After about 40 minutes of people watching in the bustling city, we arrived at the DoubleTree Hilton in Westminster. We thanked the lovely driver, wished him well then ventured to the reception, to be welcomed by a warm cookie. It doesn’t take a lot to win me over, but Hilton, you had me at ‘Hello Madame, here’s a cookie’. We were issued our room cards and went to our room. The room was lovely, simple, but effective. Not a jumparoo, random toys, potties, nappies, or a baby/toddler in sight. Just a massive bed (undisturbed sleep and a lie in until 9 am, get in), and a chance to have a wee and shower without being stared at. Woo hoo! A bit of time to chill time before showtime.
As we had a couple of hours to kill we decided to go for a bit of a walk and see a few sights, but more importantly to get a bit of grub. The concierge also advised us there was a Co-op up the road if we needed anything. Co-op? In all honesty I was expecting him to say a Waitrose based on the suaveness of the hotel and surrounding area. But hey if they’ve got a decent bottle of plonk and a tub of Pringles, then who gives a damn. Our hotel was literally round the corner from the very impressive Burberry offices. Very Sex and the City (wrong city, granted but the UK version at least). There were even a few very attractive models hanging around too considering it was London Fashion Week. London was truly living up to our expectations.
We found the Co-op and made a purchase of hair gel (for Rich, he forgot his) although they only had the dodgy sort that teenagers tend to start using when they go for that oh so ‘attractive’ hedgehog look, a mini bottle of wine (a bit of Dutch courage of course), a tub of Pringles (night-time nibbles for later), and a cider for Rich (Dutch courage for him too, he’s got an embarrassing wife to handle and to ensure she doesn’t make a tit of herself).
Next on our mind, food! We had considered ordering room service to take full advantage of getting ready in good time in the comfort of our room, but we stumbled upon a lovely little eatery called Saporis. It was an Italian which primarily sold pasta, sandwiches, salads and carvery. It was incredibly reasonable for London prices too (I’m from Yorkshire, were renowned for being tight, or as I put it, I love a good bargain. There’s no crime in that). I had bolognese. It was beautiful, plenty to eat and so tasty, possibly the best I’ve had before. Rich had the carvery, plenty of meat, veg, gravy, and the holy grail, the Yorkshire pudding. The atmosphere was great, we had a family from New Zealand on one side of us there for the rugby, and on the other a cute elderly Spanish couple. If anything it had Rich and I testing our Spanish vocabulary. As a result we discovered we only really knew how to say ‘hello’, ‘goodbye’, ‘please’, and ‘two beers please’, I think we require some practice.
With our stomachs incredibly satisfied, we headed back to the hotel. A chance to get showered, dressed, make up applied and hair styled all without ‘Mummy, where’s my tractor’?, ‘Mummy, what you doing?’, ‘Mummy, what you putting on your face?’ all whilst having my leg tugged upon, snot being wiped over my clothes, and frantically getting two kids, bathed, dressed, and read to before the babysitter arrives.
Dutch courage swallowed, bodies showered, make up applied (just me of course), and dressed (no bogies attached), we were good to go. Cue the obligatory ‘this is how we looked at the start of the night’ selfie.
I’d also like to explain my husband has a tendency to not do ‘serious/normal’ face very often. God love him. Saying that I have my special moments too. There’s plenty of evidence of this. It’s true, we’re definitely made for each other.
Our posh chauffeured car turned up at reception (getting used to this treatment) ready to take us to the well known and prestigious Elstree Studios. This one had the added bonus of Haribo sweets and bottled water too. Amazing stuff. If I get a taxi at home, the best offerings they have is a pre chewed piece of chewing gum, and a sticky seat, nice! On the way we passed Buckingham Palace, so had to do the touristy thing and take photos, mostly done at speed, but still incredibly impressive nevertheless. Not that the hubby saw much, he can’t seem to get into a moving vehicle without nodding off. Whilst driving through London, as daft as it might sound I felt like a little kid in a sweet shop. All those beautiful buildings and houses like the ones I’d seen on Mary Poppins as a little girl, and those sites and place names I’d heard of and wanted to visit. Most of my Australian friends know London like the back of their hands even though they live the other side of the world. I felt like a true tourist, and boy did I love it.