My Secret Man

I’ve been happily married to Stressed Husband for 23 years now. Well, I say happily but there’s something I should tell him. I have a secret and…it’s another man.

NTM secret man edit

It all started about two years ago when I first noticed him standing there on my local high street. In fact, I literally bumped into him while I was rushing about getting the weekly shop and remember how my heart skipped a beat. I’d been looking for a guy like him for what seemed like forever.

I marvelled at how intelligent he seemed– so powerful. There were days when I’d see him surrounded by a group of people, each one enthralled with what he had to tell them… he had women hanging on to his every word. I didn’t approach him at first – it seemed wrong. I thought he was too good to be true.

Until one day, I woke up and knew I had to talk to him. He was all I’d been thinking about and I knew I wouldn’t be able to focus on anything until I’d seen him…spoken to him. But what if he wasn’t what he seemed? What if he just looked the part but couldn’t actually do the deed I wanted him to…needed him to so badly?

I knew Stressed Husband was beginning to wonder why I didn’t text or call him during the day like I used to. But I just couldn’t.

And so the secret meetings started. Every time I left him I felt elated – I couldn’t wait to call my friends immediately and excitedly tweeted about my happiness and then… my daughters found out. I decided to sit them down and explain everything, very calmly. They understood and promised not to tell their dad… I felt more guilty than ever.

Seeing this other man has been costing me a fortune and I’ve been hiding the joint bank account statements, worrying that if Stressed Husband notices the regular cash withdrawals he’ll start to question me.

What’s worse is that I’ve found out my daughters are talking about this man and have even said they want to visit him too! I’m going to have find another way…

So now I’ve invested in some hard-core screen protectors for me and my girls. The fabulous Cell Phone Guru on the high street won’t be seeing me again and Stressed Husband need never know our Special Relationship. But ladies, if you’ve got any cracks that need attention…he’s amazing and worth every penny!

Fone 2




Q: What is wrong with this picture? (Apart from the crimes of fashion)


A: It’s a class full of 10 and 11-year-olds smiling in a school photo 
(OK, maybe not all of them, but you get the idea). It’s a rare sight these days, but back in the late Seventies we’d never heard the term ‘SATs’ and if we were tested on anything, we were mostly unaware and were probably clueless as to the outcome.

What does SATs mean to you? Stopped At The Supermarket? Sorry About The Stain? Yeah, we’re not sure either, but what we do know is, we enjoyed a childhood free from academic pressure and we didn’t come out of it too badly. One of us the child of European immigrants, the other the daughter of ‘cockney sparrahs’ who were raised in Notting Hill in the days when the area was known for its slums and violent gangs (waaaaay before it became the bankers’ paradise it is today).

Grammar wasn’t generally taught other than ‘a noun is a naming word; a verb is a doing word’ (or ‘werb‘ as one of our teachers, a mature Sri-Lankan lady, pronounced it – that’s why we remember it so well!). We couldn’t have told you what a ‘fronted adverbial’ is (still can’t), but we knew the correct way to use an apostrophe (most of the time…no prizes for spotting a mistake on these pages, bright sparks.)

Fast-forward to the 21st Century and we’re all stressed out about levels or grades or whatever fancy new dreamed-up word they’re calling it these days. Actually, in our house, it isn’t SATs that’s causing the most angst – we just tell Son B to do his best and try not to worry about it. It’s more Son A’s secondary school homework assessments that are the bane of our lives – so structured and so frequent and so connected to streaming, they’re a constant source of meltdowns. And what for? Last weekend The Times included a feature called How To Unlock Your Child’s Genius Without Being A Pushy Parent, in which it referenced ‘futurist and author’ Peter Ellyard: according to him, it’s estimated that 50 years ago children left school knowing about 75 per cent of the information they would use in their working lives; today it’s about 2 per cent. So what exactly is all this testing about?

Surely it’s not good for them. And it’s not just our children who suffer…

Blurry 3

Spare a thought for their teachers, who are in turn trying to keep up with constant educational changes and feeling under pressure to meet their own targets, as well as staying up well past their bedtime to mark papers. On top of this, many are being encouraged to act as social workers at school, while enduring verbal – sometimes physical – abuse in the classroom. Remember, these people are our friends, neighbours, sisters, brothers. They’re all someone’s daughter, they’re all someone’s son.

Oops, sorry, seem to have effortlessly segued into John Farnham’s Eighties hit The Voice there. Perhaps we should leave the last words to him. (It’s our guess he knew what was coming in our education system – the clues are there. Hit it John…)

John Farnham

We have the chance to turn the pages over
We can write what we want to write
… before we get much older

We’re all someone’s daughter
We’re all someone’s son
How long can we look at each other

Down the barrel of a gun?

You’re the voice, try and understand it
Make the noise and make it clear, oh, woah
We’re not gonna sit in silence
We’re not gonna live with fear, oh, woah

This time, we know we all can stand together
With the power to be powerful
Believing we can make it better

Ooh, we’re all someone’s daughter
We’re all someone’s son

Don’t believe us? Check out the video – we reckon these parents are arguing over how to tackle their kid’s homework (“I don’t UNDERSTAND it,” the woman is clearly yelling, while her husband rants, “And what makes you think I do?!” It turns nasty, so the child is swiftly removed (by Social Services?) and the line-up that later appears in the background – well, these are the school dinner ladies, admin staff and the caretaker, surely?


Party Pooped!


It starts just after Christmas in my house: no sooner have the baubles been packed away and the last of the crackers pulled, Son B’s little voice informs me, “It’s my birthday soon – let’s make a list.” And for the next four months (yes, his birthday’s in May, for gawd’s sake!) there will be a running commentary on what he might like (the list changes every week), what we should do and who to invite. I’m left scratching my head, trying to explain patiently how it’s not going to be possible to buy a 3D printer, or create an LED-spattered roof terrace accessed from his bedroom, or dig a trench in our patch of a garden so we can have a sort of Ninja Warrior meets The Cube competition, “cos that’d just be so cool!”.

Pah! I know I shouldn’t say it, but my heart sinks every time, and it isn’t just because birthdays are a blinding reminder that my ‘baby’ is growing up faster than Jack’s beanstalk. Part of me just hankers for the old days when a bit of jelly and ice-cream would suffice. Maybe it’s a throwback to my Seventies childhood, but we just didn’t do big bashes back then – and the generation before us was even more rudimentary when it came to parties. My poor sister spent her 10th birthday blowing out the candles of a hastily made cake, while our mother was upstairs, giving birth to me (sorry sis!).

Maybe I’m just scarred from Parties Of The Past. There was karate party for Son B’s 6th (it’s always Son B; Son A’s never been fussed about celebrations). The company had come highly recommended, but for some reason sent a hapless 16-year-old along on the day to host a party of 20 kids on a sugar rush in a sports hall. Poor blighter, I’ve no doubt he had a black belt in karate but no one had prepared him for the boredom thresholds of children, so after a few ‘Hi-yaaahs’ and high kicks he soon ran out of things to entertain them. I panicked when he enquired with a haunted look in his eyes: “I’m only booked til 3, right?” when actually he had another hour-and-a-half to go! We ended up bailing him out with musical chairs and a very odd version of pass the parcel. “Never again!” we sighed afterwards.

The following year we smugly went for the tried-and-tested (but hugely expensive) gym party. We gave a sharp intake of breath, but reasoned it would be worth it not to have to entertain the kids ourselves. What could possibly go wrong? This time the party fell apart before it even started. Just as we’re meeting and greeting and scattering balloons, an unknown mum comes over with a lad (who’d basically invited himself), slaps a tenner in my hand in lieu of a card/gift, then starts – very audibly – to lay into another mum, snarling and issuing threats because her kid had offended her boy in the playground the day before! She stormed out, leaving us with a sobbing seven-year-old and his equally shaky parent. At least her boy had the decency to look embarrassed. The party was memorable for all the wrong reasons.

So, call me old-fashioned, but this year I’m not getting sucked in. A nice cake (must remember to order…) a few carefully chosen presents (quick look on Amazon…) and a friend round for the afternoon. Anyway, I’ve already warned Son B we’re going to have to play it low-key this birthday if we’re ever to afford to have the Space Station party with the 1:2:1 with Tim Peake next year…

While we’re talking feeling pooped about parties, we think this little comedy sketch sums the whole kids’ party thing perfectly. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

We love these funny mums and you can find out more about their hilarious goings on here on Facebook 

We’d love to hear about your most stressful, funny or nightmare kid’s party, so that we don’t feel all alone so please, do feel free leave us a comment. Thank you! x