Authors: Sam Holden
Growing Pains of a
Sam Holden is the pen name of an author and
journalist. He lives in Wiltshire with his wife and two
novels are partially
based on his experience of (briefly) swapping roles with
Praise for Sam Holden
'A very very funny and often touching account of
one man's struggle to try and run Planet Home. This
book should be compulsory reading for every bloke
who wonders what his wife is making all that fuss about
– and for every woman who has wanted to kill that
'This book actually made me laugh out loud and I
stayed up way past my bedtime to finish it! A funny
and different take on parenthood, well paced, with
believable characters and perceptive insight into the
chaos that often surrounds young children.'
'It is a hilarious read and so true to life, it should be
compulsory reading for all husbands.'
'Laugh out loud'
Also available by Sam Holden
Diary of a Hapless Househusband
This eBook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorised distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author's and publisher's rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.
Published by Arrow Books 2008
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Copyright © Sam Holden 2008
Sam Holden has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs
and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
This book is a work of fiction. Names and characters are the product
of the author's imagination and any resemblance to actual persons,
living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
This electronic book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher's prior consent in any form other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser
First published in Great Britain in 2008 by
Random House, 20 Vauxhall Bridge Road,
London SW1V 2SA
Addresses for companies within The Random House Group Limited can be
The Random House Group Limited Reg. No. 954009
A CIP catalogue record for this book
is available from the British Library
This book is for
SAMANTHA DE MELLO, TAMSIN EVANS,
CARLA FILMER, RACHEL HOLLAND &
Tuesday 25 December
Oh frabjous day, callooh, callay, it's Christmas. Glad
tidings of joy etc. etc. And what a fun day it's going to
be. The highlight will undoubtedly be Sally's mother,
who I haven't seen since Easter last year. That, I recall,
was something of a disaster, culminating in Jane and
Derek, Sally's parents, hotfooting it out in a huff. Sally
has made me promise to behave, but it will be difficult.
Although it ought to be no harder than a regular
Sunday lunch, cooking Christmas lunch is always
uniquely stressful. Perhaps I've been too ambitious with
the menu, but my God there's a lot to do between now
and two o'clock. The only reason why I'm up so damn
early is because I'm so wired about it, and not because
I'm doing what my mother did. She would put the
turkey in the oven at this sort of time in order for it to
be perfectly desiccated by lunch. You could take a
mouthful of breast, and feel all the moisture in your
body drain. By the time you'd had your fourth
mouthful, you needed to be reconstituted as if you were
powdered human being.
I suspect I'd be a lot more chilled if it had been a
vintage year, but it really hasn't. This time last year,
things were looking so good. We had a fat pile of dosh
in the bank, thanks to Sir Roger + Sally's job going well
+ me actually doing all right as a househusband = life
couldn't be much better. Last Christmas was brilliant
(and not just because of the lack of Jane and Derek),
and when I twiddled the snapped wishbone over my
head, I wished that our family would always be as happy
as it was then.
So much for bloody wishbones. Cursebones, more like.
Thanks to one defective immersion heater and an
insurance policy that covered us for everything barring
defective immersion heaters, the money went as quickly
as the flood that greeted us when we returned from two
weeks in Portugal. There was not one part of the house
that the water hadn't permeated, and we considered
knocking it down and starting again. All our stuff –
books, clothes, electrical equipment, pictures, you name
it – was ruined. It took six months to sort out the mess,
and even now, the house still has an unwholesome air of
damp, while our bank account is now completely arid.
Peter and Daisy took it badly, not least because we
ended up living in a succession of B & Bs, friends'
houses and rented houses, none of which were ideal.
They missed our house, their toys (most of which are
now in landfill), and were all too aware that Mummy
and Daddy weren't exactly in the best of moods. As a
result, I indulged them, and gave in to their every whim.
This was a mistake, a big mistake. By the time we got
back home a few weeks ago, Peter and Daisy had
become the most spoiled, whiny children imaginable.
They're so bad that they'll soon need ASBOs. Daisy has
developed a violent streak, and insists on biting and
scratching her brother whenever she can. Peter,
meanwhile, is ludicrously demanding, and if he doesn't
get what he wants he goes into full tantrum mode,
rolling around on the floor, kicking and screaming etc.
I was going to take him to a psychiatrist until my mother
told me I was the same – 'typical Holden man'. On
reflection, perhaps Peter's similarity to me
for going to a psychiatrist.
I'm also worried about Sally. Ever since the Great
Flood, she's become somewhat taciturn. She's also had
a few problems at work, some of which she can tell me
about, and some that she can't – wretched secrecy! The
ones she can tell me include being passed over for
promotion and having her department 'downsized',
and I can only speculate as to the others. There was a
point in April when she was terribly upset about
something, and all she could say was that it was too easy
to forget that her job involved people's lives. I asked her
if somebody had died, and she said that it was
'somebodies', and even though it wasn't her fault, she
still felt responsible. Until that point, I thought there
was something glamorous about Sally 'working for the
Government', but now I just think that it's a nasty little
business for nasty little people (not her of course). I
want her out of it, and I've told her as much. But what
will we do for money?
Right, I must get on. Christmas Day! Hooray! Fuck, I
Have just discovered that we have no turkey. Turkey is
still at the butcher's, from where I should have picked it
up yesterday afternoon. This is a major disaster. Almost
worse than the Great Flood. Why didn't the bloody
butcher phone me? What was the point of him taking
down my number when I ordered it? Fuckityfuckpoo.
All we have is a 4lb chicken in the freezer. That will have
to do. And God knows what Jane is going to say. Perhaps
I should roast her instead. Unpleasant image of mother-in-law
stuffed with chestnut stuffing. Still, there's
enough meat on her to keep us going for weeks.
I don't know whether that's merely the worst Christmas
Day I've ever had, or the worst Christmas Day anybody
in the world has ever had, including Dean Martin, who
actually died on Christmas Day. What will have to suffice
for the moment is a list of what went wrong:
1. The lack of turkey, as mentioned. Sally wanted to
kill me, but I mollified her by saying that was a
picnic compared to what I wanted to do to
2. Daisy bit Peter so hard at breakfast that she
actually drew blood. The poor little chap now has
deep sororal indentations on his right forearm.
Naturally, it took Peter some two hours to
recover. Daisy was shut in her bedroom, which
made her apoplectic. Sally disapproves of such
punishment, but I said that as I was cooking, I was
in charge. 'Do you want to shut me in the
bedroom as well?' she asked. Not a bad idea, I
3. Ensuing row with Sally. Slammed doors, car
engine started, ran out and begged her to stay,
she said she was only driving off to clear her
head. She's been doing a lot of this recently.
4. Phone call from contrite Sally 10 minutes later
informing me she'd had a puncture on the main
road and could I pick her up? Bundle children
into other car and collect her. Spend 30 seconds
attempting to loosen the wheel nuts before
admitting failure. Get back home, and call the
breakdown people. Line engaged. Decide that I
will call back later. Car is far enough off the road.
5. Arrival of Jane and Derek. Instant bollocking for
not removing Jane's coat quickly enough. Want
to tell her that I would more readily remove her
6. Everything OK (ish) until LUNCH, at which Jane
was livid at the lack of turkey. I tried to bullshit
my way out of it by saying that I didn't really
approve of the way that turkeys are reared, to
which Jane responded that this was another
example of the 'pathetic sensitivity' that my
generation showed to animals. 'It's free-range
this, organic that – what's the world coming to?'
Cue row between Jane and me about animal
husbandry, which was only terminated by Jane
announcing that her 'turkey substitute' was raw.
Did I eat everything raw, even chicken? She
would contract 'salamanella', how could I feed
this to her?
7. Jane was right. I chucked the whole chicken into
the microwave (much to her disgust – 'We'll get
nucleated') which resulted in it being utterly
dried out and tasteless.
8. Daisy and Peter behaved atrociously during
lunch, which naturally earned much opprobrium
from Jane. 'So much for the "househusband"
experiment.' It's hard to quantify quite how rude
Jane really is. At least Derek just sat and got
quietly pissed. I expect he does that most meals.
I decided to copy him, which wasn't a great idea.
9. 'Couldn't you have put something a little more
generous than 10 p's in the Christmas pudding?'
10. 'Why aren't you standing up for the Queen?'
11. 'We decided not to give you a present this year.
We helped you enough after the flood.'
12. 'Do you have the receipt?'
13. 'Don't these children ever behave?'
14. 'It's a pity the rain's so bad, otherwise you could
take them for a walk.'
15. At 5.30 a knock on the door. Two policemen,
grim faces, which caused instant sobriety. 'Are
you Samuel James Holden?' Heart went
thumpity-thump, brain went fuckity-fuck. What
could it be? 'Are you the keeper of a green
Citroën estate, registration number . . .' Turned
out the car wasn't far enough off the road, as a
juggernaut had clipped it, which in turn caused it
to swerve into the other lane, narrowly avoiding a
minibus full of disabled children, but not
avoiding the bank, into which the lorry (which
apparently contained turkeys – I could have
grabbed one!) ploughed, blocking both lanes
and thus causing a massive tailback. Turns out
I'm being charged with 'leaving a vehicle in a
place of endangerment', for which Sally was so
apologetic, for which I felt livid, and Jane accused
me of being a criminal.
16. After that, I drank a lot more.
17. I don't remember Jane and Derek leaving.
18 I now feel hung-over and dried out, like the
Roll on the New Year. Happy Bloody Christmas.