Thursday 29 May 2008

How I Met Mr. GoneBackSouth

July 1989. I was weathered by late-night cramming for exams and too much beer, trussed up in Doctor Marten boots, red lipstick and an attitude the size of Peru. Soul II Soul and Guns N' Roses were rocking the UK and Margaret Thatcher was ruling it.

Clutching my student exchange work-permit, I boarded a plane to America with my friend, affectionately known as Has Anybody Seen My Organizer? We argued all the way to JFK - we were ready for a summer adventure and he wanted to go to Boston because he'd heard it was cool; I wanted to go to South Carolina because I wanted to spend the summer on the beach.

Upon arrival in Boston, we checked into the youth hostel. With no plans, no jobs and nowhere to live, we hung about. Soon, word spread that the movie theatre up the road needed people fast - Batman was about to open and they were expecting a stampede. Tom, the Manager, opened the door to 8 smelly but eager British students. We all marched in to ask for jobs and he hired us all. We put on white shirts, black elasticated bow-ties and red waistcoats (that matched my lipstick). The boys sold and clipped tickets, the girls served food, drinks and candy. We got to see lots of free movies.

We fooled around and made the place our own for a few months, leaving our customers wondering if they'd suddenly been transported to England by mistake. We quickly adopted bad American accents, purely for popcorn-serving purposes, so we could ask "you want budder on that?" There were mice in the corn sacks, a creepy guy on projectors and relentlessly sticky floors ... but it was a good job. Has Anybody Seen My Organizer? and I made friends with a lovely American guy at the movie theatre, who I shall call BassBoy. We lost sight of BassBoy over the years, which I regret. He was a good friend.

BassBoy had a tall, good-looking friend with a golden tan and deep beautiful eyes: Big G. He was Boston born and bred. Sensitive and shy with a whale-sized passion for music, Big G would meet BassBoy after work so they could go out and party. We became friends. One warm dark night, some of us sneaked over a fence and through a forest to swim in the reservoir near Big G's home. We perched on a rock in the deep deep water under a huge black sky, fish brushing against our toes, and we shivered in the breeze and the knowledge that we weren't meant to be there. We bonded that night, Big G and me, dripping wet and giggling under the stars.

I flew back, moved to London and sent Big G a postcard. He wrote me letters and I wrote back (no email then). In February 1990 he visited London for a week. He came again in July, we looked into each others eyes, and here he stayed.

Cup-Tag Cop-Out

Oh Lehners, Lehners, Lehners. You are a very nice friend to tag me in my last post, but I'm going to have to call upon the "Can't-Be-Tagged-Twice-In-One-Week" rule of Blogdom. And if you won't accept that, then here's another excuse: I have a story to tell tonight that I promised to Daryl, and if I'm farting about taking photos of my cups (and my favourites are all in the dishwasher so I'll have to wash them first and everything), I won't have time to write it, and then I won't be able to sleep. And anyway I don't know where my camera is. Actually the dog ate it. Okay I haven't got a dog, but I haven't got a camera either. I know, I know ... lame, spoil-sport, kill-joy. Hate me if you must.
Now, onto my story ...

Tuesday 27 May 2008

Tag Revelations Before Lunch

Retired and Crazy tagged me after my last post, so now I feel compelled to reveal 6 things you don't know about me. As I'm at my sister's house with 5 kids and no other grown-ups, I had better be quick. However they're old enough to entertain themeselves (aged 6-14) so I can afford to be ever so slightly neglectful. Here goes, in a hurry:

1. I attract road speed traps like some people attract wasps

2. I am a brunette with a fleck of grey (covered)

3. I met my man in an American movie theatre

4. Some of my friends think I've borderline OCD; I think I'm borderline misunderstood

5. I'm notoriously late unless I make a superhuman effort

6. I love Starbucks marmite and cheese paninis, but have switched from latte to Americano (there was way too much dairy going on)

I may get round to the business of tagging 6 other bloggers later (or I may not). Off now to make rolls for lunch ...

Friday 23 May 2008

Sleepy Heads

I went upstairs to look at the children.

First the boy. He's 6 and wants to grow up NOW. He's sleeping hard, worn out after 13 hours of non-stop activity. He's had bed hair all day, and now it's even beddier after sleeping on it still damp from the bath. He's lying on his side, high up in his cabin bed like an infant king. One skinny leg with scabby knees is out and over the blue monster duvet. His free arm hugs the cub that's been his smelly bed-mate since he was born, and he holds on tight to the last surviving scrap of baby-blanket. His lovely full lips are open, drooling a bit on the pillow, doing that pretend sucking thing that he does in his sleep. Perhaps he's dreaming of the warm, snoozy baby milk years.

Next the girl. She's 8, and veers from toddler to teenager and back again. Her beddy teddy is lying on her chest, watching me through the dark with round black eyes, protecting her while she sleeps. She lies on her back, arms thrown wide in pink nightie, on pink pillow, under pink duvet. She was swept away by an enormous yawn as she settled down, insisting "I'm not tired" as her eyes closed. Her face is round like the moon, picture perfect with wide-apart eyes and long, long lashes. As a baby, she turned her head from side to side as she stirred in her sleep, and she still does sometimes. With a murmur and a sigh, she dreams of fairies and kittens and Daddy coming home.

They seem so grown up sometimes and so young when they're asleep. Sometimes I'm afraid to go to bed; I sleep so heavily and I don't want to leave them alone - even if they are just down the hall. I wonder how much of our quirky little life in 2008 they'll remember when they're big. In their slumber, some of it is being filed into their brains' long term memory, some into short term memory, and some is going straight to the shredder.

Monday 19 May 2008

Reasons to be Cheerful, Part 3

Yes, yes, I've been listening to Ian Dury on YouTube. So here are 3 of mine:

(1) That Life gave us Bowie, Lennox and Mercury ... and ears.

(2) That ye olde hobbies of writing a diary and to pen-pals have fused together in an electronic explosion of magical marvellousness and meetings of minds to spawn the blogosphere. Hooray!

(3) That my daughter didn't see what I found in her wellington boot tonight: a large, hairy, squashed spider. Death by socked foot. I'm surprised she didn't feel it.

Sunday 18 May 2008

Bowie Plays Brazil

Today I stumbled upon a blog by a British guy in Brazil. He's got a video up of two of the greatest artists, David Bowie & Annie Lennox, singing a tribute to another great, Freddie Mercury. The video is awesome and at the end I got a chill down my spine and started crying (long day ... time for bed). Bowie is so spectacularly good; he sang the soundtrack to my life as I was growing up.

And as for the British guy in Brazil ... well I may be wrong ... but he seems to me like a genuinely lovely, big-hearted poet who's been through some serious sadness, and might appreciate some warm positive vibes from all you kind and caring bloggers out there.

Goodnight x

Thursday 15 May 2008

Digging Rights

Today I caught myself wondering, "maybe we should get an allotment?" Then I quickly sprinted to the sink, splashed cold water over my face, gave myself a quick slap and vowed never to entertain such mad thoughts ever again. Doing a sloppy job of maintaining a low-maintenance garden is enough gardening for me.

Nevertheless, back in the 19th century the Allotment Act declared that an Englishman has the right to grow his own carrots, whether or not he owns any land. All these years on, hidden behind the leafy hedgerows and down the lane, men, women and children in wellington boots and waterproofs are still cheerfully growing carrots on land that doesn’t belong to them. And potatoes, raspberries, beans, tomatoes, garlic, onions, apples and flowers too.

I know a family in Cheshire with an allotment, and my children have 'helped' them make a scarecrow, chase chickens, throw stuff on the bonfire, dig random holes, that sort of thing. Every time we visit we come away with a box of fresh eggs ... my friend is gracious enough to wash off the straw and poultry poo first.

Tuesday 13 May 2008

Eye Have Amnesia

When I looked in my diary this morning, I set my phone alarm for 3.10pm, to make sure I didn't forget my 3.15pm appointment at my new opticians. I did of course forget, but my forward-thinking alarm-setting got me there safely.

In another uncharacteristic display of forward-thinking, and knowing that I would never remember the type of contact lenses I wear, I had put an old contact lens packet in my bag to show to my new optician. "I wear these", I declared, thrusting the packet towards her. "They're soft monthly disposables".

"Great", she smiled, peering at the small print through her specs, "only you're supposed to change this kind every 2 weeks". I made that face where you frown, look sideways and bring one index finger up to lips tightly pursed in thought. Hmmm. Apparently I used to have monthly disposables, at some point changed to fortnightlies, and then forgot all about it and carried on wearing each pair for 4 weeks. Der. No wonder I had sore eyes.

Excuses made, we got on with the tests and eye-related paperwork. Then it was time to put my glasses on. "How long have you had these glasses?" she asked with no warning, catching me off-guard. "Oh about 3 or 4 years" I blurted, in a panic. "Actually no, I was still in London, so it might have been 10 years. Actually, I have no idea". And I still have no idea - I've completely forgotten.

To make my eye-test amnesia ordeal even worse, the optician must have forgotten to brush her teeth today. Or perhaps she forgot that if your job involves putting your face 8 inches away from someone else's face and breathing on them whilst wielding bright lights and optic cameras, then it's best not to eat smelly food for lunch.

So anyway I left, got in my car, made sure I remembered where I lived, and turned the engine on. My phone rang. It was the optician. "Oh hhhhhello", she breathed (luckily it wasn't a smellephone) "you've forgotten your glasses case, will you come back for it?" I didn't go back straight away, but I've put it in my diary so I'll remember to go tomorrow. If I remember to look in my diary.

p.s. Today I was given a home-made (and therefore extra tasty and nutritious) award by Dumdad ... how utterly girlish of me to grin and blush so ... it made my day!

Monday 12 May 2008

Not an Unusual Weekend

The girl was out-numbered by 3 little boys on Sunday. She wanted to play families; they felt like riding their bikes. She wanted to make a school for teddy bears; they insisted on riding their bikes. She wanted to have an ice cream picnic; they relented for a moment, scoffed it down before it had a chance to melt, and then carried on riding their bikes. The girl gave up and came inside to watch TV.

Friday 9 May 2008

Where Are They Now? On My Doorstep!

In April we had a birthday party at home for our 8-year old. The bell rang so I opened the door, and there stood my old History teacher, Mrs. S. She was dropping off her granddaughter. I gushed oh-hello-agains; she politely pretended to remember me.

Mrs. S was a combustible dragon of a teacher, breathing hellfire and brimstone into every lesson. And I mean that in a good way. She brought History to life. She awed and inspired us teenage kids, usually sleepy after a big stodgy lunch and too many late nights watching 'Are You Being Served?' The class trouble-makers were crushed, and we had to pay attention or pay the consequences. I loved her lessons.

I remember Mrs. S being in full theatrical flow one afternoon, bellowing her lesson about some bloody battle or queen-slaying king; captivating us, gesticulating wildly, jet black hair bobbing up and down in agreement. There was a storm outside and the thunder and lightening made her story even more dramatic. Suddenly she stopped and froze. She stared motionless out of the window at the rain pouring down from the heavens, and the class froze too. Nobody moved. Silence. And then she said, "Damn, I've left my washing on the line".

Thursday 8 May 2008


It's good to be back in the blogosphere. I stopped because I needed to clear some of the backlog of administrative shite that was giving me headaches, like a never-ending upheaval-hangover from hell. I made some headway during my blogless evenings. Changing town, job, home, school (and leaving my friends behind) all at once (with a husband working abroad) made me feel quite wobbly and fragile for a while; more jellyfish than great white.

And speaking of sharp-toothed predators, I met a real bull shark recently. She is a 32-ish Londoner with size zero waist, silicone DD's and muscles. Her long wavy hair bounces and floats like seaweed; she has lips like rose-buds, and eyes to drown in. I don't mind being around drop-dead gorgeous women, in fact we had a good laugh to start with. But when she noticed my unsuspecting husband and started pulling her blatant man-hunting limpit routine on him, several times over, right in front of my eyes, it all went a bit salty sour.

Anyway it's all forgotten now (grrrr).

Tuesday 6 May 2008

Moon With a View

Hello. Is there anybody out there?

Big, stormy mama Jupiter and her bright little moons hang out together, just like a proper family. The moons face their planet and circle her at different speeds, her tides and gravity steering their course. Just like a proper family.

My son is 'doing' Jupiter at school. He taught me that Jupiter has 63 moons. I looked for them in cyberspace. Apparently, humans have given them names. Lo is volcanic and covered in sulphur; Europa is icy and covered in water; Ganymede is the biggest moon we've found so far, and may have an ocean beneath its surface.

My daughter is 'doing' Neil Armstrong at school. Tomorrow she wants to take in a photo of his footprint on Earth's only moon. Why didn't we name that one too?