Monday, 30 July 2007

Mother of a brown boy

To Chicken Shed Theatre on Friday night to see the immensely powerful Mother of a Brown Boy. Moving. Sad. Bold. Beautiful. Thought provoking and tough. Inspired by the short life of a 19 year old, it chronicles his mother’s story and her grief at his life cut short. More powerful for me as a friend of the mother, and her son. It never was going to be an evening of light entertainment: this is political theatre. More disheartening is the fact this isn’t just one mother’s story: it has a wider relevance for our melting pot society with the-ever widening gap between the haves and have-nots.

The balance of the piece is in the stunning craft and sculpture of music, movement and multi-media. You can catch it in Edinburgh this week, on the Sky arts channel (4.8 at 18.30, 9.8 at 15.30,19.8 at 10.15), and hopefully on tour later in the year

Friday, 27 July 2007

Its oh so quiet here...

It's oh so quiet. Except for the gentle hum of the dishwasher, the whirr of the washing machine and the brain-splitting screech of the tumble dryer. Not forgetting the wails of the Little One now her American ‘cusins’ have departed (albeit temporarily). ‘Who have I got to snuggle up wiv now?’ Err that’ll me then. Guiltily I feel it’s been a relief to have a break from snuggling. And, although I’ve been busy on mass catering duties I have enjoyed the brief respite from not wearing a not-so-small-child about my person. Now every towel, flannel, and tea towel in the land is either being washed, tumbled, or is sitting patiently in a colour-coded pile. Ahh the beauty of a having a gaggle of girls to stay.

Moan as I may (that’s my prerogative), like the dustbin lids, I am a tad sad tonight. At the quietness. And boringness without my American Outlaw, the Loud One, the Evil One, plus The Suffolk Smiler. It’s just the Lids and Me. He-who-must-be-adored is, as per, out saving London. But I was pleased He managed to be home a little more than normal. But not as much as you’d think considering his sister travelled half way round the world to see him. Having the family of He-who-must-be-adored to stay is a rare treat for me. He feels neither need nor desire to do the family thang. Though I’m sure he enjoys seeing them. Much as I love them I find it annoying to have to shout (often) like some kind of swat team: ‘DROP THE DISHCLOTH AND MOVE AWAY FROM THE SINK’.

More worrying is the sneaking feeling that it’s catching …we were no sooner back from dropping them at the dripping train station when the Tween and I, with subconscious communication, had a mass clean attack. The house has now lost that bomb-zone look. Hence the creaking machines. I was sorry for the Out-laws standing at the station. With cases. In flip-flops. In the freezing pissing rain. But then again, I can’t feel too sorry for a family that live where the sun shines all year round, where they have no need for raincoats, jumpers nor closed-in shoes.

So, some respite tonight from mass catering. We had leftovers. Then remembered we’re on rabbit responsibility. Doodles and Leopard, I think, were pleased to see us, especially when we gave them some fresh green stuff. Bit worried about the forecast for the Rabbit-owners. In Scotland. On a campsite. Hmmmm tad damp perhaps?

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Hi ho hi ho

Apologies to all my readers (yes you two know who you are) for the delayed updates: have been a tad rushed off my feet. This is holiday time! Luckily today I am up early for work. A bit of peace I hope and some small respite from catering.

Boy does it get hot in the kitchen when you’re mass catering. In-between peacekeeping the dustbin lids! We’re busy having fun with the outlaws who arrived from Hawaii on Saturday. Sunday we had huge numbers of outlaws for lunch plus Supersis’s outlaws as well – you know what she’s like any bandwagon…

I love having a full house. Especially the outlaws - after such a long gap. Am just a tad concerned about my American brother-in-law whose continuing existence I am beginning to doubt. He hasn’t been over since 2001. Am praying he’s not under some Hawaiian patio.

Think gorgeous boy has struggled a bit this week being surrounded by two sisters, three female cousins, four if you include yesterday, mom and a couple of aunts.

Sunday’s giggles came from sink watching: a new social phenomenon. As I’ve previously suggested the family of He-who-must-be-adored have a keener attitude to housework than my side. A social gathering provided a constant and steady procession of He’s family fighting to get to the sink. Dare I suggest they are a tad more comfortable clearing than doing that social interaction thang?

Monday we were London tourists. Being tourists in London, we got very wet, damp and miserable, before getting squished and dried out on the rush hour tube home. Hmmm. The Great British unwashed public. Delicious!

Yesterday we chilled at home and with nowhere to go the weather was obviously fab, with a whole four minutes of sunshine. With nothing better to do the dustbin lids managed to fit in a water fight to cool down from all that sunshine and before the rain came again.

One of my many favourite nieces invited me onto Face book last year and I’ve hardly had time to get back on. So was pleased an invitation winged its way to my inbox this week from a long lost work colleague. It was even better to discover an even older (ha ha) colleague who was last seen about four years ago waddling away with a new baby. I log on and there she is having conceived, carried and delivered another beautiful sprog. Delighted. But am still getting over the confusion of my friend down under who I tired to add as an old neighbour, as these days you can’t just be friends. I now see that we used to work on Neighbours together. Sadly, I’ve never been to Australia but am impressed my talents can spread so far.

As my sister-out-law travelled half way round the world to visit me I left her babysitting whilst I trooped to the minor ops clinic yesterday. To have a mole removed from my neck. Whilst awake. Obviously. The injection was a bit of a pain in the neck. In fact the whole experience was a bit toe curdling. As I lay there curdling my toes and wringing my hands I decided it was best to close my eyes as the red-hot wires came towards my face. Pleased to say it didn’t really hurt. Just a bit warm. However hearing your own flesh being singed wasn’t the best experience of my life. Then the smell made me open my eyes. Weird to see black smoke arising from one’s own body and unfortunate to have the smell of burning flesh, my own burning flesh, entering my nostrils. A small sticky plaster later and I was away. Today my neck feels a little bruised and I have a black scab, which looks exactly like ….the mole that used to be there.

Off to work we go...

Sunday, 22 July 2007

School's out for summer

Hoorah. Glad term is over as was starting to lose humour with the junior school. I wrote a note giving permission for Gorgeous Boy to play out with his broken arm. But still they excluded him from having fun: Health and Safety. He’s miserable from spending the last week in other classes whilst his peers traipse off for fun. Do they understand anything of children at all? At least they re-issued his end of term report with an improved grade. So it comes as no real surprise that Ofsted said the school could do better.

So summer hols. And it rains. And it rains. And now the real work begins. Word got out about the pet holiday scheme. Day 1 of the hols and we have agreed to rabbit cover. Hope it’ll take the pressure off getting our own little bunnies for a while. Phew.

Operation clean up this damn house finally got underway. Sadly, not in preparation for a move: just catering for visiting out-laws. My attitude to housework is a tad more relaxed that the family of He-who-must-be-adored. I asked ‘when our offspring look back what will seem more important, that their childhood was happy or the kitchen floor was clean?’ ‘Obviously’ He said ‘the floor’. He jokes. Me hopes.

To give me more cleaning time I e-ordered the shopping from Tesco. The packing was lacking. What was I most in need of? A bottle of wine. What arrived in smithereens? A bottle of red wine. I hadn’t got round to washing the hallway floor so I wasn’t bothered that the dripping box made it look like a bloodbath. The worst thing to have below a smashed bottle of red wine? Breaded products? They were not in a good state. And I sent back the children’s juices with wine engrained round the rim. What I didn’t notice till the driver left was the soggy box of Tampons. Of the super-absorbency kind. They certainly do what it says on the can!

Despite my efforts, the house looked tidier, but wasn’t much cleaner. I knew I was being a nag when the Little One told me ‘I know there are no house-work fairies, as they are all busy collecting teeth.’ I was relieved when He-who-must-be-adored came home and did some of his man magic on the windows. Have decided if we ever get round to moving I’ll look for something really small, with self-clean or wipeable surfaces.

To save even more time Supersis did a mercy dash collecting extra bedding from here there and everywhere. There are now temp beds in every available spare space. I’d like to think it all looks rather cosy and friendly. Shabby is another word.

Yesterday was the last day of freedom ‘til September so thought it’d be good to get a new bikini, unencumbered by the dustbin lids. Should have followed my instincts and gone back to bed with a book. Not only have I left it too bleeding late for any kind of choice, the non-smoking non-stop eating has had a big impact on the size of my chest. It was hard getting a bikini when I was at comic proportions. It’s now gone from epic to freaky. The sales assistant that tried to get me into a gigantic effort was clearly mistaken. A freaky fit it is. The bikini is not 'of the moment'. But it is secure. No fear of falling out of that structure. Just as well seeing as we are holidaying with Mr Smut himself, (who has already called to congratulate me on the porn-star proportions). What I must remember is it doesn't matter how much you spend on bikinis an odd bod is an oddbod.

My Forensic friend is a true friend. She used my depression as an excuse for retail therapy and turned up a while later with a number of new bikinis for me to try. Even with her not insubstantial chest she was shocked at my growth. So now I am the lucky owner of two bikinis. One of which is for sitting very still in. Which is just perfect for my holiday intentions.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

The Big Smoke

No am still not smoking – bar that one v. drunken evening but glossing over that…

Something kinda weird’s going on. For over a decade He-who-must-be-adored has begged, cajolled and pleaded with me to give up the ghost of London living and move to pastures greener. Personally have never had any such desire nor need. Why drive long distances when you can live within a stone’s throw of everything. Bar greenery. Greenery? Preenery has always won hands down for me.

And Animals.

Animals? Painimals! What’s the point? More so since having the dustbin lids – who needs extra bods to cater for?

But that was the old me. The Me BEFORE we spent a week looking out on a big fat green fix, caring for animals, collecting fresh eggs and generally being at one with nature. Of course I don’t miss bully boy Grumpy George Goat. Yet my marriage gave me a good grounding on his type so he with the big horns and stampy foot was easy enough to suss out. I paid lip-service to his position and fed him first. That kept him quiet long enough to sort the others out. Though I’d never turn my back on him. Those horns are huge.

Am also sad to see the back of the blonde dog. Even if her thinking herself human was a bit trying. In hindsight (such a wonderful thing) giving her bar-b-q left-overs may have contributed to her rejecting dog food and wanting to sit up at the table with us. But Supersis is home (Hurrah) so too goes the blond dog.

Do I thank or bemoan my country cousin who let me housesit? Ever since we hit London all I can think about it moving to pastures green. Have I had too much fresh air? We were v busy but would that cause my attitude to age three decades in a week? It was just pure bliss to see green from every window. And London is just so….London like.

Returned from work today to find a transit van parked in my drive. Confusion reigned as I racked my brain for some forgotten arrangements of works. After five minutes a chap in an EDF t-shirt came and told me the van was his. Get this: he said ‘the police told me to park here’. My response to his bollocks was not something of which I am proud. But you could safely say I left him with no illusions as to my thoughts on his parking and bare-faced codswallop. He drove off at high speed. Of all the cheeky bloody London chappies I’ve ever met, I think he takes the biscuit.

Talking of which, now I’ve got all that extra time in the mornings, Gorgeous Boy with the broken arm appears to be working me overtime. He can’t do socks. Or shoes. Or chopping of own food. Or even deciding what food he wants. Or generally much in the way of anything helpful. You don’t realise just how independent 9 year olds boys usually are. Not sure if it’s the sympathy vote he was going for last night or if it’s something altogether more grown up… Youth club: often he goes in his uniform, or if I beg, a clean t-shirt. Last night the hair was gelled. The ‘special’ trainers were out. And a smart (of a branded sportswear fashion) clean outfit was chosen. Off he trundled. Grinning. Obviously no information was forthcoming but I’m working on it. Shoe time in the morning might be a good moment for a grilling.

My Tweenager is nearly a Teen. Her first pair of heels have been purchased in anticipation of the major life-time event. Hopefully she’ll have practiced before her birthday to lose the funky chicken walk whilst reducing the danger of breaking a limb. Had a brief chat with her about the vague possibility of a move. She can’t see beyond the local bus map. Her combination of heels and a push-up bra make countryside seclusion seem something of a grand idea to me.

The reality of having to tidy this house in order to sell it probably puts a move into no-brainer territory. Unless I get some superydoopery Mary Poppins energy from somewhere and do that spic spot thang. We can but dream.

Saturday, 14 July 2007

To the Manor Born

Much as I love the idea of home farm the reality is somewhat disappointing. Despite extensive planting at home, our crops have so far yielded two pods giving exactly 10 peas. I’d say it’ll be a while before Tesco need worry.

It is also safe to say that much as we love living the country life, animal husbandry doesn’t come entirely naturally to me and He. Three days in and we are improving. Seeing the blond dog roll about in horse poo seemed a low point, but worse was her stench after being locked in for an hour whilst we shopped. This morning we were brave enough to let the chickens out. A regret when it was time to put them back. The attempts of me, He and two offspring were nothing if not pathetic in trying to shoo six of the little cluckers back in.

But the real joy of staying here is the big calm green fix you get from every window. And the peace. Except when the geese are hungry. Watching the horses and sheep in the big field gambolling about. Pure bliss. But only because we are just play-acting, and we don’t have the stress of a mortgage on a place like this.

Friday, 13 July 2007

What's normal anyway?

Normal service lasted a day. Back to Chase Farm Hospital on Tuesday: Gorgeous Boy hurt his arm at School during morning break. They gave the standard response: come back after lunch if it still hurts. Being a good boy he waited ‘til after lunch to tell them that it really hurt. So to casualty I go, stopping briefly to pick up the Little One plus a slight detour to let the blonde dog out.

Only an hour in Triage before heading to x-ray. No stress at all, sitting there hoping we don’t catch a Super-bug, and trying to persuade the Little One not to touch anything. At all. Only another hour to wait before seeing the break went across both bones in his left arm. No stress wondering would I make it to Northaw in time to feed the animals, and remember to collect the Tweenager and blonde dog from N13? Fortunately we got A+ service from the kind doctor who sped us through to get plastered, albeit temporarily. He-who-must-be-adored gave up saving London for some animal rescue – and thank goodness he did as 20 minutes late and the whole of Hertfordshire got to hear the hungry cries of the ducks and geese. We shan’t be late again.

As if the day wasn’t long enough the Little One decided this was the night she would leave her tooth out. But she couldn’t get to sleep for all the excitement. It was like Christmas Eve all over again. Unfortunately, Gorgeous Boy heard me asking He-who-must-be-adored for change for the tooth fairy. That cat is now out of the bag. In some senses a relief as the Boy was convinced tooth fairies stuffed old teeth up the noses of very small babies?

Every cloud…the boy’s broken arm has given us time off from the usual after-school ferrying so we have slightly more time to enjoy our country fix playing at Hudson and Mrs Bridges. This house is much larger than we are used, and even the Tweenager has taken to texting me. The low point so far was getting Georgeous Boy out of bed to show us old fogeys how to switch the new fangled telly on. The high point is the thought of being able to hide away in one of the many rooms and quietly read.

No such luck yet though. Back to N13 yesterday to finish off the Tweenager’s bedroom – the interior design project of the century, and only under slight pressure before overseas visitors arrive next week. In between throwing desk’s up two flights of stairs and humping wardrobes across the room, we head to the Junior School to take Georgeous Boy out for lunch. Having an arm in plaster is making him somewhat less cheery than usual. Pushing him over the edge is the Junior school’s refusal to let him in the playground. Sitting outside the office with an equally plastered Year 3 female is not his idea of fun. Worse, he remembers being plastered in the Infants and being allowed out. I have questioned the school and await a response. Worse, school’s can no longer administer medicine, so I have to turn up at lunchtime anyway to give painkillers. After hearing the Little One cough all night last night we decided to keep them both home today and let them sleep in. The plan was the catch up would put them both in better moods. The best laid plans….

Monday, 9 July 2007

Normal Service has now resumed.

Or as normal as it gets. Had a bit of a hiccup after that treatment. Usually, my ‘psycho-mommy-moments’ are rare. For a short while that became my norm. Moving swiftly on, I note Chase Farm Hospital is on special measures for failing to meet standards on super bugs. Great. That’s where I was treated and where I await a return visit for some other internal interference. I wonder is not breathing whilst in hospital buildings an appropriate course for infection control?

Supersis has abandoned me again for warmer climes. Me thinks she nearly gets the hint to not leave the country without me. The dreaded vomit bug delayed her departure. But only for 24 hours - apparently you can't do bowl-patrol on a plane. Something to do with all that extra security. While she swans about in a sarong I am left holding her hairy beast: the blonde dog, who thinks it beneath her to go in the rain to do her dos.

And, as if the day isn’t long enough, He-who-must-be-adored additionally agrees to a 10 mile round trip to the beginning and end of our day to do a Dr Dolittle: caring for 11 goats, chickens, ducks, geese and rabbits. He-who-must-be-adored forgot he’ll be off saving London, as per … Leaving me, with all my spare capacity to deal with dustbin lids and other animals. I shall, as they say, be watching my back: George the Grumpy Goat is a force to be reckoned with.

I used to have a pathological fear of all things furry. But I got over it when I had the dustbins. Then we started the dog holiday scheme. Two weeks involves just enough poop scooping to get the doggy thang out of their systems. Am hoping the biggest upside to living in a country pile for a week, apart from the fact we'll be living in a country pile, will be getting the ‘let’s move out’ thang from He-who-must-be-adored’s system. Every cloud…

To the Tweenager’s school last week where it seems Me and He-who-must-be-adored could not be seen in close proximity to her. At any time. Except of course for the ride home. T’was as if we had some kind of superbug.

Thankfully, Gorgeous boy grows ever more gorgeous. He made me detour to chase some rainbows the other night. And some fab weird weather stuff we saw too. Pity he’s not so enthusiastic about school. Think it might be too female an environment for his liking: he is already eying up an all-boys senior school. Without wanting to appear like the pushy parent, I was saddened by his report – the teacher assessment gave zero literary progress over last year. The boy maintains he works hard. So to school I go. Again. A call today says there’s been some sort of oversight in updating his grade. In a report bemoaning a 9 year-olds attention to detail? Is this the standard we have come to know and love?

My Little One lost her first tooth. Though not quite lost as she carries it about in a little bag, ready to show it off at a second’s notice. Whether there is interest or not. And, it didn’t so much fall out as was pulled by He-who-must-be-adored. He couldn’t be doing with all that hanging on by a thread business. The innocence of the moment almost vanished when someone said a first tooth is worth twenty quid. That’s serious inflation. If the Little-One ever gets round to giving it up we shall see. Let’s hope the tooth fairy isn’t too busy or worn out to remember to actually swap the damn thing for whatever dosh happens to be about their Elfing person.