Posted in comedy

The Village Shop

‘Kids! Get your wee bums down here.’

My mum shouted in her Glaswegian accent.

My little sister and I ran down stairs to be met with my mum holding a ten pound note. She waved it around and asked us to go across to the village shop for bread, milk and toilet roll. Boring things.

The highlight of the village I grew up in had to be the local shop. A Mecca for renting videos and buying penny sweets. I loved the village shop, it was great. All you had to do was ignore the rumours of the toenails in the quiche and it was a beautiful shopping experience. Something I’ve tried to erase from my mind was the time I was sent to the shop to buy mushrooms and the shop keeper woke up the sleeping cat who was using the mushrooms as a bed, shooed her away and blew the cat fur off them.

We’d often go in there with one penny each and take a ridiculous amount of time choosing between a strawberry shoelace, a cola bottle or a mini marshmallow. We were easily pleased. Back then we used to think ‘Our Mummy is so generous’ in retrospect I now realise what a genius move that was, and a stingy one at that.

The sweeties I always begged for were pink Bubbalicious bubble gum. We were never allowed bubble gum, it was banned in the Passeri household and for a very good reason. We could barely keep it in our mouths. I lost track of the amount of times I had to have it cut out of my hair.

The local shop was run by Mrs E, she was a lovely old lady. Thick jam jar glasses, long tartan skirt and one brooch too many on her jumper. She knew everything and didn’t care who she clipped round the ear, it was in the past, people didn’t mind back then. I was convinced I saw a mouse in the living room, I was terrified so I asked Mrs E if I could borrow her mouse trap (standard village banter).

Once we’d finished with it my mum sent me over the road to return it to her and to bring back some tomatoes for our pasta that evening. I handed back the mouse trap that was in a white paper bag and said that my Mum had asked for tomatoes. Mrs E was such a resourceful woman and couldn’t bare to see a perfectly good paper bag go to waste, so she put the mousetrap back in it’s drawer and put the tomatoes in to the paper bag. The bag that had only seconds ago had a mouse trap in. A used mouse trap I might add. She was a very thrifty lady but was hardly going to win awards for hygiene. Even as a kid I knew this was madness. I handed over the money, said bye to Mrs E and ran across the road back into the house and explained to my mum what had happened. I had one hand on my hip and the other flying around in the air for extra dramatic effect. Spot the mini Italian. I relayed the event to my Mum as if it was the hottest gossip to have ever passed through the village. Which it certainly wasn’t. In my opinion the juiciest gossip was that 3 couples from the posh end of the village were swingers, the evidence was that all the kids looked the same and that the parents were tired in appearance and smug from all the swinging.

Back to the ten pound note that was being handed to us. This is a moral conundrum – do we do as we were told or do we abuse her trust to live out our child like dream. Tricky one. Guess what we did? We went absolutely berserk…The world was ours. I was 9 years old, my little sister was 5 and we were in possession of more money than ever before, not too much money to know what to do with, oh we knew alright. I was going to buy pink, sugary Bubbalicious bubblegum and lots of it! We ran across the road to the shop.

Paper bags were filled with sweeties we were never normally allowed. The ones that Mrs E needed a ladder for. Chocolate mice, pear drops, strawberry bon bons…the delicious albeit forbidden list went on. We even got Mrs E to put in a few blue sweeties, these were another strictly prohibited thing in the Passeri household. My brother is Autistic so all those colourings and E numbers send him wappy and my little sister and I were a little bit nutty (not a medical term). The whole time Mrs E kept asking

‘Are you sure your mum said all the money was for sweets?’

Shit. We’d been rumbled.

I pulled my little sister to one side and whispered ‘listen, we have to get something else to make it look more realistic, she knows mummy would never let us have more than one sweetie each.’

My little sister nodded in agreement. We shuffled back over to the counter, I did my best grown up voice and said ‘we’d also like to purchase 2 carrots and a bin bag.’

‘Okie dokie sweetheart’ we’d got away with it! Part 1 complete. Part 2 was a little more complicated, we had to explain this to our mum.

My mum told us that this crime would send us to prison and we should pack a bag before the police arrive and take us away. We burst into tears. As a bargaining tool we said she could have all the sweeties, including my beloved Bubbalicous bubble gum. She thought for a moment before agreeing to the offer, took the sweets from my hands and phoned the police man and said it was okay. Phew, that was a close one.

 

Posted in comedy

Glitter In All The Wrong Places

‘Miss, erm, oh this is a weird one’

I’m in the Doctors waiting room. I then hear the Doctor nervously call out a strange sound before coughing awkwardly, cueing me to assume it must be my appointment time.

I should probably start being more assertive and insisting on people saying my name properly. I’m getting quite fed up of people’s response to hearing my name being ‘Can I just call you something else?’

‘No you bloody can’t’ is what I should say.

I went through all of university answering to and being referred to as either Laz or Owawa.

Anyway, I digress. Doctors surgery. In I go…

‘Take off your tights and knickers, then lay down on the bed’ says the Doctor, bluntly.

‘Ooh very forward of you, I normally have to be bought dinner before that.’

I thought a pre – smear test joke would be appropriate. She did not laugh.

I did as I was told. I took of my tights and knickers before manoeuvring myself over to the paper topped bed. Shuffling with my knees together to preserve my modesty.

I was then instructed to put my feet towards my bum and open my legs. I knew I looked like a chicken on a baking tray. To make it even more glamorous she then lowered a light over me.

There was a slight pause that felt 10 years long before she said:

‘Oh, Miss Passeri. You’ve certainly made a lot of effort’…’You’re very, erm…sparkly’

A wave of horror came over me as her words began to make sense.

No. No. No.

I then remembered.

I stared at a poster on the wall about the importance of getting enough fruit and veg. The art work was beautiful, the words so profound, the font was perfection. Anything to take my mind off my shimmery ‘cookie’ (this is the bit where I’m going to reference a previous blog post. It’s what all the bloggers do. Sex education blog).

So, here’s a bit of an explanation. I got up late that morning, jumped into the shower and slapped on some body lotion. I did all of this without my contact lenses in. I’m blind as a bat without them in. I’ve even been known to get on the wrong bus and all sorts. I have two body lotions. Both coconut scented, one is normal, one is shimmery for party time. Guess which one I grabbed. Party time was not appropriate for this setting.

You’ll be glad to know I have since binned the sparkly one, I am a  grown-up after all.

So, that’s the reason I’m in a Doctors surgery, legs open and sparkling away. It was all over in a couple of minutes. I got dressed quickly, grabbed my bag, avoided eye contact and headed for the door whilst mumbling an embarrassed ‘Thank you very much.’

I got the door, desperate to leave. So desperate in fact that I actually broke the door handle. It came off in my hand.

‘I bet that happens all the time’ I said to fill the space.

‘No, never’ said the Doctor.

I handed her the door handle and escorted my glittery self as far away from her as possible.

Several months later I was walking through town doing some shopping when I saw someone I recognised but couldn’t think where from. I gave them a big smile and a half wave as we walked past one another. A few moments later I worked it out…it was the Doctor who performed my sparkly smear test. Surprised she recognised me with my clothes on.

Smear tests are bloody important, all females should go…just don’t do what I did.

In all seriousness, if you’re old enough to have a smear test then you have to go. Don’t be stupid and avoid going.

There’s a young woman Called Megan that I know. she is only 23 and has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. It’s so important to keep going for check ups and being savvy about your body. She’s currently undergoing chemotherapy. Here’s her Go Fund Me page, any help for her and her sweet little girl would be greatly appreciated.
https://www.gofundme.com/bravetheshavewithmeg

Go for your smear tests, sparkly bits or not, go!

Posted in comedy

The J Cloth Incident

“Mummy! That lady has got 4 bums”. My brother shouted at a ridiculous volume whilst pointing enthusiastically at a woman, who did indeed have 4 bums. Her shorts were so tight that her arse looked like a pair of festoon curtains.

We were in Flamingo Land, our favourite place in the whole world. Also known as the place parents take their kids if they are too skint to afford Disney Land. Flamingo Land has it all, a funfair, a zoo and a circus. Everywhere you look there are ice cream vans, parents arguing and kids screaming excitedly as they are flung around on the rides. The one thing we didn’t experience were queues. My mum was very smart and did the genius, albeit, illegal thing of taking us off school for a week. It was in the past, things like that were fine then. Flamingo land is in North Yorkshire and people would only go for a day or a weekend. Not us, we’d stay a full week and love it. My favourite bit was choosing our mini box of ‘posh’ branded cereal each morning. The stuff of dreams. I remember sitting in my pyjamas watching telly the morning the news announced the death of Princess Diana. I was more concerned that my brother had eaten my mini box of chocolate cereal.

We’d go to Flamingo Land every year for a week and the remaining weeks of the year were filled with me bragging and showing off about our holidays to anyone in my presence. I’ll be honest with you, I mainly went for a monkey called Albert who lived at the zoo. We’d watch Albert for hours at a time. My poor mum must have been bored stiff. We’d been visiting Albert for years and years and watched him change so much during that time. We’d observed him sniff his mate’s bums, seen him get a monkey wife (Victoria) and we even ignored the rumours that it was a different monkey every year. I loved Flamingo Land so much that I made a 9 year old family friend cry (I was also 9 at the time, I’m not a monster). He’d recently got back from the Canary Islands with stories of his travels. I stared him out for a while before crossing my arms and saying ‘Yeah but did you make friends with a monkey?” He had not. He went home and begged his parents to take him to Flamingo Land. They were a posh family, they wouldn’t take him.

It was all going great until my little sister and I had a near death experience. We ran towards a helicopter ride, we argued on the way there about who would be the pilot. I’m 4 years older but she’s scary so she won and got to be the 5 year old pilot. A truly horrifying concept. As a kid she was terrifying. She’s a grown woman now and I’m reminded the word to use is ‘sassy’. The Flamingo Land staff came round to check all the kids were secured in the rides safely before pressing the start button. They got round to our carriage and realised our safety door was broken. Instead of telling us to go into another helicopter carriage they decided to tie us in using a J cloth. Even as a kid I remember thinking “Well, this seems fucking stupid, surely it’s a joke” But oh no, it was happening. The ride started up. We went higher and higher. The helicopter carriage turned to one side, my side with the metal door, and then tilted the other way…the J cloth side. Oh shit. Shit indeed. J clothes shouldn’t be used to stop kids from dying. My sister and I started screaming for help as we felt the J cloth begin to rip. We looked down at my mum and screamed ‘Mummy! Help us!’ She couldn’t hear us and just smiled and waved. Chilling. I still to this day have no idea how we didn’t die. Whenever I’m shopping for grown up things like scented candles or cleaning products and I stumble across J cloths I shudder at the memory, can’t bring myself to buy them and would much rather use an old sock to clean my shelves.

I recently went back to Flamingo Land, just for the day. Good news, Albert is still there. For some strange reason people kept calling him Tony.

Posted in comedy

Sex Education

Once upon a time, a spotty teenage boy with a flat face confessed to having a massive crush on the school tart. They started going out. This was big gossip. They were known as ‘Bucket and Spade’ …do you get it? She was a tart and he had a flat face. I still laugh to this day. Surely for ‘Bucket and Spade’ to have a happy, healthy relationship then they had to be equipped with all the facts on the ‘birds and the bees’. Luckily, this loved up pair didn’t have to wait long to be educated…today was ‘sex education day’. We were all so excited as we looked at the blackboard and saw the words ‘LETS TALK ABOUT SEX’.

Our form tutor who we all said was ‘kinda fit for an old bloke’ looked like he was on the brink of suicide.  He cleared his throat “Right kids” he croaked. “Shout out slang words for your genitals and I’ll write them on the board.” Brave, brave, stupid man. He began visibly sweating as he wrote the word ‘minge’ on the board. I also looked like a complete twat (coincidently, another word that was shouted out) when I said “In my family we call it a cookie”. I got the fright of my life when I first saw the Cookie Monster from Sesame Street. I still remember the image clearly…he was on a bright pink kids swimming costume.

‘I’m the Cookie Monster, I eat cookies!’ I ran out of the shop screaming. This genuinely still keeps me up at night.

When we were little we used to have a satellite dish for Italian television. One day we were watching a cartoon when an image appeared on the screen of lots of naked people in a jacuzzi. They were having a ‘grown up party because they are in love’ as my mum described it to me. My little sister, brother and I ran upstairs to my mum shouting “Mummy, Mummy there’s a man on the telly eating a ladies cookie!” My mum later explained what had happened to my errant father. Instead of acknowledging the problem with the satellite dish and what his poor little kids had seen he was just very irritated that he couldn’t get it on his Italian satellite dish.

In his thick Italian accent he kept saying “Which channel? I missed this, what time and day?”

I’m sure he’s a massive fan of high speed internet, purely for this very reason. No longer will he need to wait weeks between episodes of ‘Jacuzzi Orgy’. He’ll be able to binge on every single episode whenever he likes…including a soul destroying Christmas special. All online.

My sex education growing up didn’t just come from middle aged Geography teachers and accidental Italian porn. There was a boy at school who had experienced everything. We all thought he was amazingly grown up and cool because he had a dragon tattoo and a moustache. Looking back the tattoo was awful and the moustache needed work. One day he gathered a few of us in the playground to pass on some vital information….this is verbatim by the way…

”Last night I was fingering this bird.”

“Oh my god, who?!” a little short lad excitedly asked.

“No questions!” said moustache boy.

He carried on, all of us looking on in awe.

“All of a sudden I started rubbing this little thing on the outside and she went wild for it.”

He had discovered the clitoris, and in that moment had become a legend in our town. If only he had passed this horribly worded information on to more men, I’m sure they would find women nagged them less.

Despite a plethora of educational sources in my past, ‘Grown Up’ Ilaria is still as confused about sex as ‘Little’ Ilaria ever was. This was never more evident than the time I was working as a Creative Practitioner in a school and was unexpectedly asked to cover the PSHE class. The class with the ever changing name. When I was at school we called it ‘Citizenship Class” then it changed to PACE (no one knew what the hell that stood for). The class that teaches you to write a CV, wash your face and basically to not be an arsehole.

This week was supposed to be sex education week (yes, it really can all be covered in a week, apparently). My anxiety levels soared. WHY ME? I am not equipped to deal with this. My main advice would be “Listen kids, don’t do it till you’re 35” followed by “It’s massively overrated and never, I repeat never worth the expensive knickers and certainly not worth the wax.”

Instead, I walked into the class of virgins and introduced myself as Ilaria (not Miss or Mrs, I was desperately trying to make them think I was cool). I told them very earnestly that they could ask absolutely anything and that no one would laugh. This was a lie. I got them all to write down their burning questions onto little scraps of paper and pop them into a hat. This was so they felt able to ask questions they’d be too shy to otherwise ask.

This would’ve worked beautifully if the little sods didn’t put their hands up and say “That’s mine!” after I’d read them out.

Question 1 – When you grow boobs, how many do you grow?

Answer – usually two. What am I saying? Always two.  We’re humans, not farm animals.

Question 2 – When you get down there, which hole do you put it in?

This question needed answering with care. There are a few factors to consider but the main point is – it isn’t pick ’n’ mix.

I couldn’t bear to read out a third question, instead I just played an educational video from my childhood. He might be terrifying but he sure knows how to write and perform a catchy tune. Teenage pregnancy is high in this country and in all honesty, I blame this guy. Everybody, meet ‘Johnny Condom’.

Posted in comedy

The Sexy Chicken Book

“This train is for York. Please have your tickets and passes ready.”

Mother’s day, an audition in London or a party in another city. These things sound nice don’t they?

Wrong. They fill me with dread. I don’t drive so this involves getting the train. The train filled with mental people. Mental people who want to tell me things.

For example. I get on the train from Manchester to York to visit my family. I’m mentally preparing myself for my Mum’s lasagna. I’ve got a bag of washing stuffed in my suitcase for her to do as soon as I get through the door, she loves it.

I see a tragic looking man approaching me. The key here is to avoid eye contact. This tip is crucial. He sits down next to me. He sighs loudly and then tells me about being made redundant. It’s a long winded story. Why me? There is no advice I can give him. I just say “Oh shit” and then “Maybe view this an opportunity to spend quality time with your family.” He answers back with “My mum’s dead, my wife hates me and my kids have disowned me.”

This man has an answer for everything.

He says I’d be more appealing if I wore tighter clothes. I’m beginning to see why his wife hates him.

I glance down at my watch, only an hour and 10 minutes until I will be in York.

He carries on talking about his shambles of a marriage.

I glance down again at my watch, 45 minutes to go.

My mind wanders to looking longingly into my Mum’s well stocked fridge. That isn’t a euphemism. I’m not an animal. The woman just loves a well stocked fridge. Shelves upon shelves of goodies just waiting to be turned into delicious dinners. She’s an amazing cook but is clueless when it comes to portion control. The words ‘average sized serving’ mean sod all to her. It’s more of a challenge. It’s as if she reads the portion advice and thinks “Bollocks to that.”

Her worst nightmare would be to know that someone was in her house and hungry. In all honesty no one has ever, ever left her house without being deep in a food coma. She is the original feeder. Not a feeder in the kinky sense like I’ve seen on so many documentaries. Always Channel 5.

Channel 5 has a lot to answer for in terms of shaping my once naive, innocent mind.

Back to the over sharer sat next to me. He opens up his leather satchel and pulls out a book. Phew, he’s now reading a book. This must mean he isn’t going to try conversing with me anymore. I look at the front cover and my blood runs cold. This man has gone from a depressed over sharer to a full blown nut job, a mentalist. I won’t go on because I’m not quite sure of the appropriate politically correct term. I’ll tell you what the book is and then you can decide on his title for yourself.

It’s a picture book of women in latex clothing strangling chickens.

The book has so many pages and his eyes widen each time he flicks onto a new one. He’s been gleefully looking at the poor chickens for several minutes when he turns to me and says “What do you think of this one?” I look down to be met with the image of an old lady holding a whip in one hand and an unhappy chicken’s neck in the other. I still, to this day have no idea what the right answer is. If anyone knows then please get in touch. I just say “Ooh, I really need a wee.” I shuffle out of my seat, trying to make the least amount of physical contact with what I can only describe as one of life’s unfortunates.

I go to the bathroom, lock the door and take a long hard look in the mirror. Why does this keep happening? This is not a one off, the week before a woman told me all about her divorce from the ‘Hairiest Arse in Leeds.’ The day before that a man in a woollen suit showed me building plans for a conservatory he was planning to build for his wife and asked me which one she’d like the best. I felt like saying “I don’t know your wife, I don’t care and your suit is shit.” I didn’t say that though, of course. I instead opted for “The second one looks nice. Beautiful suit.” He smiled contently and said “Thank you sweetheart, you’ve made my day.”

My main issue was the fact he was wearing that god awful suit in the height of summer.

Still, it takes very little effort to make someone smile. If everyone did that then the world would be a happier place.

Right, I’ve been in this toilet long enough. Everyone will think I’m having a shit. That’s much more believable than hiding from a man with a chicken strangling fetish. I pointlessly wash my hands and head back to my seat.

He’s gone.

There’s a note on my chair and a KitKat. I eat the KitKat first then turn my attention to the note.

Priorities.

The note reads ‘Thank you for listening to me. I’m going to leave my wife. Take care’.

Chilling.

My first thought is “Why did I eat the KitKat so quickly?” I love KitKats, very underrated. My second is “Where on earth did he get that book from?” Asking for a friend.

In conclusion, my top ways to make sure no one sits next to you on public transport are:

1. Act mental – Note, this will only warn off normal people. The more mental you are the more the crazies will think ‘Yes, she is one of us.’ Use your own judgement here.

2. Avoid eye contact by instantly becoming fascinated with a loose bit of thread on your clothing or the dirt on your shoe. Anything to stop you from locking eyes with the nut job approaching you.

3. Always carry around strong smelling snacks – I’d recommend a garlic, tuna and red onion sandwich with a side of boiled eggs for extra effect.

I hope these tips work better for you than they do for me. Or, just learn to drive.

Posted in comedy

Me And My Recorder

“Carry on like that and you better pray God’ll help you young lady!” shouted my Glaswegian mum as I tickled my younger sister until she was sick. Literally sick.

I didn’t have a clue what she was talking about. I annoyed her so much with my constant and frankly, idiotic questions that in the end she got me a kids Bible. I read the whole thing in one sitting. I loved it. As soon I had read the last page I ran downstairs and said “What great stories mummy but do people honestly believe it? You can tell it’s all made up”.

Having said that, I still used to pray before I went to bed, mainly for a glittery pink pencil case. I prayed every night for a week and when I didn’t get one I immediately dismissed the whole idea of God. I gave him a chance and he blew it.

The following anecdote cemented my thoughts on the whole God thing.

I used to play the recorder, I use play very loosely. What I mean is I used to blow violently into a recorder and expect a round of applause. I was terrible at it. For want of a better phrase, I was totally shit at it.

Knocking out classic tunes such as Hot Cross Buns and Three Blind Mice all sodding day was never going to make me even an average recoderist. Everything I played sounded the same.  A constant blend of squeaks, an assault on the ears.

I was so bad that in primary school my favourite teacher looked straight in to my innocent, big brown eyes and said “Ilaria, you’re not very good at this, practise all weekend, play for me on Monday and we’ll see if you’ve improved enough for the nativity play”

Challenge accepted.

I practised like a mad woman for the next few days. So much that I needed to up my asthma inhalers. My mum was not a fan of my ‘music’.

The grown – up me would think “Well sod this” and throw the recorder away and have a gin. The little Ilaria was determined, blinded by the world and partially deaf to the feedback and hints to just stop. Stop Ilaria.

“Listen love, you’re more of a drawing person”

“No mummy, this is what I do now” I insisted.

“I’ll get you some lovely new colouring pencils this weekend” said my mum with desperation in her voice.

No! Im a musician now. I have been set a task. I must master the recorder. I will conquer the recorder and you will not stand in my way by tempting me with noiseless past times.

“But Ilaria, you’re awful at it, love.”

That’s the great thing about my mum. She’s always honest. A big fan of tough love. The woman does not hold back. She has pink hair and a sharp tongue.

In short, never ask her if you look fat in something.

I was momentarily distracted when my mum said we were having spaghetti for tea. But only for the amount of time it took to eat two bowls of spaghetti. That’s right I said two. The days of me inhaling multiple bowls of pasta are sadly/thankfully in the past. My love for the recorder is also dead and buried.

The second the plates were cleared I was back to my recorder playing a hideous, albeit, original  rendition of O Come All Ye Faithful. Being an asthmatic this was a terrible thing to persist with. The recorder has never sounded shittier than when played by an asthmatic kid with a point to prove. I’d like to blame it on my asthma but the harsh truth is that I’m just not musically gifted. I have skills in other things like falling over, eating all the crisps and letting down my parents. These are skills that sadly couldn’t be utilised in the nativity Christmas show. The show really lacked for those things I feel.

I went to bed on Sunday evening feeling out of breath and excited. Surely my favourite teacher would see how hard I’d tried and realise how much the school nativity needed me and my recorder? I knelt down by the side of my bed with my palms together and an earnest look on my face – I’d seen it in all the films. I’d perfected it. I prayed for everything to go my way. Please God,  please. I’ll be your best friend and invite you to all my parties. I really pulled out the big guns. My birthday parties were great. He wouldn’t be able to resist.

Monday morning arrived. I was extra chirpy. A final practise on the recorder, peanut butter on toast eaten and off to school I went. I saw my favourite teacher. Moment of truth. This was the biggest moment of my life to date.

I took a deep breath and played what I considered to be a beautiful rendition ofCome all ye faithful.

I waited.

My favourite teacher looked at me, her grey curls falling over her face.

She’s going to say yes…

“It’s a no Ilaria, you’re not good enough for the nativity play. Maybe next year.”

“Are you kidding?! I turned down colouring pencils for this!”

She shook her head “Sorry Ilaria. You can play the triangle instead” said my formerly favourite teacher.

“The triangle? The sodding triangle?!” I shouted.

That’s it, I thought. God, consider yourself uninvited to all of my birthday parties. Find alternative plans for every October 2nd until I die.

My once favourite, now most hated teacher looked horrified.

And that’s when I secured my ticket to Hell. A special kind of Hell that only little girls who exclude God from their birthday parties go to. It’s not as bad as regular hell, but its still pretty bad.

Posted in comedy

Fat Sarah

I haven’t always been the suave city slicker that I am today. I grew up in a tiny village filled with characters, a farm and a duck pond. The village seemed to exist in a time warp. A vibrant tapestry of the weird and wonderful.

Everyone in the village used to speak like the kids from the film ‘Bed Knobs and Broomsticks’, you know that film where the little boy’s knob makes the bed magic?

One end of the village was lovely, the other end was a whole different story. We lived somewhere in the middle. We ate Quinoa and liked art but were a bit skint. My mum did the big shop at ‘Kwik Save‘ and I thought we were dead posh because everything in our trolley matched.

Every front garden had a mattress in it for the kids to jump on. I still to this day have no idea what they all slept on.

Their school packed lunches made me green with envy. Four bags of crisps, a can of Coke and chocolate spread on white bread. I nagged my mum every day for the same pack lunch and an alfresco jump on a worn out mattress. I was usually met with a “Quit moaning you ungrateful sod”. The lemon and rosemary chicken salad she’d make me just wasn’t what 8 year old Ilaria longed for. I wanted cheese strings and lots of ‘em! Their breakfasts, on the other hand, were not something I desired. Most of them had chewing gum with a side of passive smoking whilst we all waited for the school bus.

One of these ‘chewing gum kids’ was also the smelliest kid in my class. She wore a t-shirt that said ‘My friend went to Disneyland and all I got was this stinking t-shirt’ I remember thinking how perfect that was for her. One day I said “I like your t-shirt”. I discovered sarcasm very early on, it just took me years to get good at it.

Side note – the percentage of crossed eyed people seemed very high in our village, this I feel was mainly due to inbreeding.

The nicknames still make me laugh. There was a lady simply named Fat Sarah. Straight to the point.

Accurate.

One sports day she turned up wearing a bikini and a grass skirt, sarong thingy that was shoved firmly up her arse. Not a great look if your name’s Sarah…certainly not a great look if you’re referred to as Fat Sarah. Every time she cheered her nipples almost fell out. I couldn’t take my eyes off her which resulted in me coming last in almost every race that sports day. My mum would say “Don’t worry love, look, you got a sticker saying you tried your hardest”.

In all honestly I hadn’t tried at all. The sticker should have read “Try harder next time Ilaria and Fat Sarah, wear a more supportive bra and stop jumping”

Fat Sarah took a shine to our family and wouldn’t leave us alone. She’d always bring her two kids. They somehow managed to survive on a diet of popping candy and adult television.

Her son didn’t know how old he was because Fat Sarah refused to buy him a birthday present, he never had school shoes but always had a new bike. I’m glad his priorities were in order.

I desperately wanted his life!

Popping candy and telly with swear words seemed so much more fun than vegetables and homework. Having said that, her kids did grow up to be racists so I assume my mum was right all along.

Fat Sarah was such a character, I’ve often thought of looking her up on social media but I can’t remember her surname. Or maybe her name really was Fat Sarah…her parents must have had incredible foresight. “I’ll name my child what she will become”. That idea could really take off. There would be too many slutty Stephanie’s though. School registers would suffer the most;

“Prick Tease Chloe”, “Grab ‘Em By The Pussy Donald” and “Gets Aggressive When He’s Had a Beer Robert”.

In a time before mobile phones, and common courtesy in this case, Fat Sarah would be very old fashioned and knock on the door all the bloody time. It was like being under siege in your own home. One Sunday afternoon my sister and I spotted her from our playroom window as she came up the garden path. We took unnecessary action. We ran to the front door with our hands on our hips and said “Our mummy said you’re not to come round here anymore” .“Yeah and that we don’t like you very much”.

Looking back on this as an adult I realise how mean it is, but I have this theory, you see. My theory is that you can get away with anything providing you are under the age of 10. Im 29 now so I have to behave myself.

She was gobsmacked. She turned on her calloused heels and headed back down the garden path towards the skanky end of the village.

Fat Sarah we’re sorry!

Fat Sarah, I take it all back. The grown up Ilaria would love a cup of tea with you…in a well ventilated room.