This place is lit up like a castle, and other grown-up phrases

I recently had a significant birthday, which kinda took me by surprise, because I thought by the time I got to this milestone I would have grown up.
Trying to remember what my parents were like at this age is hard. As a child, even a so-called grown up one, you are so self-centred you can’t see anything from anyone else’s point of view.
Only now, with an electricity bill the equivalent to the GDP of a small country, do I realise what Dad’s beef was when he stormed around the house snarling “this place is lit up like a bloody castle” and turning all the lights off.

A barn without a door

Where you born in a bloody barn?

And while I’m on the subject, what’s with leaving the doors open all the time? It doesn’t matter that you are coming back into the room in half an hour’s time, my ankles are bloody freezing now.

Some of the stuff I can remember is the things I thought grown-ups should do, the things I was determined I would do once I crossed the shining threshold into grownupness.

What you say you will do
In the 70s, my mum’s favourite chocolates were Black Magic, and Dad bought her a box at Christmas, Easter and on her birthday. I don’t know how, but she made them last ages, starting with the Liquid Cherry and finishing up with the Hazelnut Cluster weeks later. Not me, I vowed. When I am grown up, I will buy a whole box of Black Magic chocolates and eat it all to myself, all in one day.
And why you can’t
Calories. Fat content. Fear of cholesterol levels. Deep-seated guilt. And the fact they don’t make old fashioned Black Magic anymore and I can’t be doing with a truffle.

What you say you will do
Call in sick to work and go to the beach. You can’t do this at school. You need a parent and a note and a way of getting to the beach. But when you work, you can just tell them you’ve got flu and have a free day off – why not do it every month?
And why you can’t
You just don’t. The obligation – to your colleagues, to the faceless monolith that pays your salary – is too strong. And there is the nagging feeling that you are jinxing it somehow. The irrational idea that by taking a day off you don’t deserve you will not get the time off when you do need it. This is total grownupness

What you say you will do
Stay in the house, on the settee and watch TV all day.
And why you can’t
Your back will seize up with all the inactivity, the children will need feeding and you need to get up to sign for the Tesco delivery.

What you say you will do

Here comes the dawn – how bad do you feel? (

Stay up all night. Bedtime is for boring losers.
And why you can’t
It makes you feel shit. That horrible cold feeling in your chest when the sickly light of dawn filters through and you realise you have to be in work in an hour. The days it takes for your body clock to sort itself out. Shudder.

What you say you will do
Rejoice every evening and weekend. When I stayed on to do my A Levels, a lot of my friends got jobs (or went on YTS schemes. This was the 80s). Whenever they moaned at how they dull it was, how they hated it, how much better school was, I bridled. When you are in education, it never leaves you. There is always another book you can read, some more notes you can write up, a bit more revision you can do. When you work, your evenings, weekend and holidays are yours alone. Joy.
And why you can’t
Education is interesting. Work isn’t. Work is riven with office politics and fear, learning about Napoleon isn’t. You are never free of work, you spend all evening checking your work emails, all weekend worrying about your Monday morning meeting.

An old box of Black Magic chocolates

I can remember what every single one of these beauties tasted like

What you say you will do
Lose weight easily, as all the food in the house will be food you have bought. It will all be carob-coated rice cakes and baked potatoes, not chocolate cake, Tizer and frozen pizzas.
And why you can’t
Because when it comes to buying your own food the last thing you bloody want is a carob-coated rice cake. What you want is a whole box of Black Magic chocolates.


4 thoughts on “This place is lit up like a castle, and other grown-up phrases

  1. Speak for yourself, a carob-coated rice cake was the stuff of my childhood dreams. OK, YOU’RE RIGHT, WHERE ARE THE CAKES?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jo Rodgers says:

      Ah, Hadge, you’re the exception that proves the rule. You really would buy a box of chocolates and eat it all to yourself in one day.


  2. I love your blog!
    My dad was one for moaning about everything from the phone bill to the volume of a cupboard door closing.
    They didn’t have much electricity in castles though, their candle bill must have been huge!!
    I also think that the child situation makes a lot of difference to the feeling of grown-upness. I don’t have any and I’m far from grown up … still fat though 😉


    • Jo Rodgers says:

      Yes, moaning about how long you’ve been on the phone – my dad did that too! One thing I don’t find myself doing now. And yes, once you have children you have to grow up a bit. You may not want to but you don’t have much choice.


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