Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Stop, Look and Listen

We parents tell our children lots of things we think they need to know. "Never trust a man who wears a ring on the outside of his gloves", for example.

Sometimes they ignore what we say ("keep the noise down please").

Often they do the opposite of what we say ("it's Saturday tomorrow, try and sleep in late").

And occasionally they know what we're going to say before we say it ("time to go out, have you been to the toilet?")

Some parents have an annoying habit of telling their children that "things were better in the olden days". This is of course untrue, not least when it comes to government road safety campaigns. No offence 1970's Alvin Stardust, but I'm not sure the sight of you wearing a monkey on your head and giving us a serious look was ever going to deter anyone from walking out in front of a car. In fact quite the opposite, might I suggest.

But whatever you tell your kids today, and whatever they hear, tell them to watch this ...

Saturday, 8 November 2008

November Tears and Fears

Tonight we'll go to the bonfire party where I used to go as a child. Big G will be with us so we can hang on to one child each in the crowd.

Last year was so different. He was working away as usual, so I took the children on my own to the fireworks display in the quaint northern village where the children's school was. We went every year, in a big dark field up the hill from the church, where you were never very far from a sheep. In the car park field, wardens waved torches and wheels got stuck in the mud.

I found my friends - a small group of lovely mums from school - bound by the emotional bonds of small children growing up together. We used to meet for coffee and share the ups and downs of our lives. The kids ran around with their little mates, thrilled to be out in the dark and having hot dogs for tea. I remember the heat of the bonfire, the sky as it lit up and the smell of smoke as it drifted over the woods, blending in with the rain clouds on that cold November evening.

That night was 2 weeks before we were due to move back down south. Perhaps it was the loneliness, the exhaustion, or the fear of saying goodbye. Perhaps it was just overwhelming self-pity because my friends were all with their husbands and mine was so far away. Whatever the reason, I started crying and couldn't stop! Luckily it was dark and luckily there were arms to hug me and friendly faces to listen while I wept.

I can't believe a year has passed since then! I'm really looking forward to tonight.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Bump, Bump and Bump

Today my daughter fell off the monkey-bars and sprained her leg, so she limped home from school weary and whimpering and had a long soak in a hot bath. Later I accidentally nudged her off the sofa and she banged her foot and started crying.

My son got hit hard on the chin at lunchtime with a tennis racket which has left a sore, lumpy bruise. He came out of school looking tearful and wobbly. He held his tears in until he got home, then he let go and they trickled quietly down his soft pink cheeks.

I felt sorry for the boy so I reached down to pick him up. I wasn't standing up straight properly and sprained my back. I think it's time to declare this day way too dangerous, and go immediately to bed.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008


My little boy came down for breakfast.

Me: "Guess what, Obama won!"

Boy: "He WON? Yay! Can I go and wake Daddy up to tell him?"

Me: "Yes, but eat your cereal first"

Boy: "Can anyone in America be president?"

Me: "Yes, if they are clever enough and work very hard"

Boy: "I'm going to live in America when I grow up. I'm going to be president. And I'm going to be a Dad too, of course."

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Old Rivals

The taxi driver who took me to the meeting from the train station is a Liverpool fan.

The taxi driver who took me from the meeting back to the train station supports Everton.

The fact that I found this out without asking says a lot about the place (and no, I can't take credit for this photo)!

Monday, 3 November 2008

Ticket to Ride

Tomorrow I'm going to Liverpool and back in one day. The Beatles have absolutely nothing to do with it, but I do like this photo. I am slightly miffed that as I zoom to Liverpool and back I'll be passing my old friends in Cheshire on the way, without getting off the train to say hello. Oh well, can't be helped.

So now I must blog off and search for something vaguely suitable to wear for a meeting. I'm kind of looking forward to some time sitting still in one place and reading. I hope it's warm and empty on the train - cold and crowded will ruin everything.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Betty Marathon

When I first met Big G, he raved about this arty French film he'd just seen, called Betty Blue. "I'd like to see that", I said. Almost twenty years passed, and on Friday night I finally got to see it.

We snuggled up under a blanket on the sofa - candles lit, full tummies from a late dinner - it was lovely. We watched the film in all its fleshy, romantic, hedonistic, quirky, obsessive, rambling, subtitled cult-classic glory. Divine.

An hour and a half passed and the story was still going strong. Two hours, and no sign of an ending. We started yawning and made some tea. After two and a half hours, we popped out the DVD to check the running time: 2 hours, 58 minutes. Clearly we've lost our movie stamina over the years, so we turned it off, went to bed, and watched the last half an hour yesterday.

I do recommend Betty Blue, but don't watch it if you are easily shocked, the nervous type, or in any kind of a hurry.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Halloween in a Hurry

Yesterday I broke my pledge to blog every day until my birthday, but hey, nobody's perfect.

In the last few years - when I worked from home and had a bit more time on my hands - I started to plan halloween activities weeks ahead. This year, by contrast, I only started thinking about it on the day, as I left work.

3pm: Made a couple of frantic phone calls to rustle up at least one friend with no plans

3.15pm: Dashed to Waitrose to buy 2 pumpkins, some vampire teeth and treats

3.45pm: Picked up the kids from Grandma's and drove home, responding to a rapid fire of halloween-questions on the way

4.00pm: Big G and the kids started carving pumpkins and looking for candles; I dug in the fridge for a speedy supper

4.30pm: Up to the bedrooms to negotiate costume details - it was a very cold night - and emerged with one witch and one ghost

4.45pm: Wrestled torches off excited children so they could concentrate on speed-eating

5.00pm: Found face paints, wiped food from mouths, applied white and green accordingly.

5.15pm: Drove back to town to pick up only available friend

5.45pm: Gladly accepted Big G's offer to take the 3 Trick or Treaters out. Dedicated the following hour to and tidying up and answering the door to ghouls and skeletons

And so it went on ... full speed ahead ... we eventually got the kids to bed by 9pm when we got them down off the ceiling, high as kites on sugar, excitement and e-numbers.

Ah, parenting - it's so relaxing.