Parenting, profundities and humour

Hard Drugs… — February 1, 2016

Hard Drugs…

Well that got your attention.

This entry will probably disappoint those searching for my seedy past. Which doesn’t really exist.

No this is a post about Eldest. And before you call Social Services he doesn’t use mind altering substances either. Well unless you count sugar. And Toxic Waste. Look it up if you don’t understand that.

This weekend Eldest turned twelve. It is not much of a milestone. Well only in as much as any year is a milestone in a child’s life. And that of its parents.

And then today I was queuing up in Boots for yet another large bottle of Calpol. 6+ Calpol. And the pharmacist asked me how old the child was who was going to use it. In case I didn’t understand the name 6+ Calpol… I replied that he was twelve. And he retorted that in that case I could give him actual pills of paracetomol. And I realised 12 is actually a milestone year. He no long needs to take his pain relief in liquid form via a large, squeezy syringe.

I nearly burst into tears. Right there in Boots. Rather embarrassingly. I still bought that Calpol. As Middlest and Youngest are, well, younger. But still, a bit of me died.

Parenting is like this. There are little things that you do routinely for what seems like years. And then one day you realise that you are no longer doing them. At least for one child if not all of them.  And further, you don’t really remember the last time you did do it. It just stopped at some point. And even though you realise this it keeps happening with the same child and with subsequent ones too. It cannot be anticipated. These things just stop. On a random Tuesday. It is only in hindsight that you notice.

Some of the things are a relief. Like bum wiping. And nose wiping.

Some are heart breaking. Hand holding. Bedtime story reading. Getting goodbye kisses at the school gate.

And some are surprising. Like no longer providing pain relief in liquid form.

Ah Eldest. Where did the years go? It is a cliché. But it is true. Time flies. And before you can blink that sweet baby is as tall as you and wears shoes two sizes bigger.

He will always be my baby though. My sweet, sweet baby. X


Music… — December 10, 2015


Recently I made a discovery.

I am becoming increasingly tired of Steve Wright in the afternoon. His radio show does not appear to have evolved much. I used to listen to him on Radio One as a teenager and the format on Radio Two isn’t much altered. Only he is now over 50. And I am over 40. And it no longer works. To my mind.

In desperation I searched in the glove box of my car. I was in that hour and a half of school pick ups and needed music.

Under the CDs of party songs for kids, nursery rhyme compilations and audio books (Dahl and Walliams mainly) I found a dusty CD. It was called Music of the Millennium. I sincerely hoped it meant the last Millennium…

I didn’t remember purchasing it. I didn’t recall putting it in the glove compartment. So I stuck it on ‘shuffle’ and gave it a go. Anything was better than more ‘factoids’.

And I am glad I did. In the manner of all good mix tapes it took a  meandering stroll through my musical history. As the first instantly recognisable strains of my favourite band of all time came over the speakers I knew I was in for a sing along nostalgia fest.  Bohemian Rhapsody. So many memories of drunken renditions. In mate’s lounges tanked up on McEwans Export, at work’s Christmas parties, at Karaoke and other places too numerous to mention. Not my favourite Queen track (which would be too hard to pick- it depends on my mood although Seaside Rendevous always makes me smile and These Are the Days of our Lives always makes me cry…). But certainly the most iconic.

Next up another favourite. One of my ‘go to’ artists. Probably because my dad liked him and had Goodbye Yellow Brick Road on double LP. In that time when LPs were works of art. Again not the track from Elton I would have picked (which would probably have been Roy Rogers- the most melancholy song in the known universe) – Candle in the Wind- ruined for me forever by its overly sentimental remaking on the death of Princess Diana. But still in its original form a classic.

Into the Eighties next. Every Breath You Take…A love song to end all love songs. Perfectly capturing the intensity and overwhelming’ness’ of my first love affairs. The claustrophobia of early teenage romances. The jealousies. The uncertainties. The insecurities.

In a weird ‘shuffle’ moment we went winging back to the 70s and my childhood. Stayin’ Alive. The furore of Grease and Saturday Night Fever when I was around eight. If you hadn’t seen Grease at the cinema 13 or 14 times you weren’t up to much in my school playground. To be honest most of it went over my head. I didn’t see Saturday Night Fever until a few years later. I didn’t really enjoy it. Except for the music. Perfect disco tracks. Still floor fillers today.

Next on, two tracks for which I often risked battery wear down using the rewind button on my Walkman. That personal cassette player was my most prized possession. I never went anywhere without it. I spent a great deal of my 4th, 5th and 6th form years walking. Between my house and boy friend’s. To school. To clubs. I was always listening. To something. Risking being run over.

Purple Rain and In the Air Tonight. Both favourites. For me accurately capturing the raw emotion I was feeling after the break up of my parents’ marriage.

Prince  (or whatever he is now known as) has always been a secret favourite. Purple Rain – messy, shouty, complete with guitar feedback- I love it. And actually this probably is my Prince song of choice.

I can clearly remember the first time I heard the Phil Collin’s track. Sitting in my ex boyfriend’s lounge one Christmas. He must have been given the album as a gift. It sounded as desolate as I was feeling. Those incredible drums startling me half way through.

The only thing missing from this compilation to totally capture that time in my life is Bruce Springsteen- specifically I’m on Fire- ‘It’s like some one took a knife, baby, edgy and dull and cut a six inch valley through the middle of my soul’- it seems almost sacrilege to me that Bruce does not even appear on the list…

And others followed as I drove and then sat in my car…Bon Jovi, university head banging, Blondie, watching Top of the Pops with my brother, U2, sixth form, George Michael, all grown up from his Wham days making beautiful music… and on.

Just as I was about to leave the car to trudge up the hill to collect the off spring a final track started up. Wuthering Heights. Ah my, now that was an anthem of some of my friends and me. Mostly sung by and in a lake. Weird. Odd. Like us. I didn’t really want to get out of the car. I played it later to the kids. They agreed. Weird.

The compilation also contains tracks that are not really up my alley. A lot of 60s. A lot of 90s. I suppose they had to. It being songs from the last Millennium. And so like all compilations there are bits I love and bits I find a bit meh and bits that get me reaching for the Skip button. Now such a thing exists. I could have done with that on my Walkman when playing Now That Is What I Call Music 4.

But in a kind of unique moment in time, just on that random Tuesday afternoon, in the banality of the hours between 3 and 4.30pm, my car CD player’s shuffle function decided to take me on a walk down memory lane.


Old(er) Friends… — September 17, 2015

Old(er) Friends…


Recently I went to the 50th birthday party of a very dear, and clearly quite old, friend.

His partner, another very good friend, had had posters made up of him at various stages of his life. As I looked at these pictures, a couple of which I had supplied, I struggled to understand how we had all found ourselves in this room celebrating this particular milestone.

It seemed like yesterday when I was in my second year at Uni and he was a regular Sunday morning (OK afternoon, well certainly after the Waltons, we were students after all) visitor to our shared house, helping me with the crossword. Until he told me the answer to a clue was ‘Spabcharge’ and I, gullible as ever, believed him. I have never lived that down. Or let him help me with a crossword since.

I took Eldest and Youngest (Middlest was at the Cub Scout B(ring) A G(rown up) camp with Daddy (he was the nearest we had to a grown up)). And before we went to the venue I sat them down and explained that they might hear rude words. Or things about mummy that shouldn’t be repeated. To paraphrase the famous film ‘what happens at the 50th birthday party stays at the 50th birthday party’. I think they got the gist.

They were both tired but Youngest went to sleep in the corner on a sofa (much to the hilarity of my old friends who gleefully remarked that she must take after me) and Eldest was determined to carry on and allow me time with these people, some of whom I hadn’t seen for years.

I was grateful to them. It was really fabulous to catch up with my old house mates and role playing mates and sailing mates.

And it was good for the kids to see me for an evening not as their mum but as a person with history and a life before they appeared in the world.

And I guess it is true that although we all look older, with greyer hair and more wrinkles, none of us have changed all that much. It is so so easy to slip back into those habits of 25 plus years ago. The stock phrases. The nick names. The idiosychronicities we were famous for. The mickey taking. Inside we are all still 20.

These friends were with me at a pivotal moment in my life, when I was living independently for the first time, really finding out about myself.

And I am glad they are still in my life.

Although I wish the birthday boy hadn’t tipped an entire pint of beer over my jeans….. Still it will be a talking point at his 60th….

You Have Memories to Look Back on Today…. — September 13, 2015

You Have Memories to Look Back on Today….


I quite like Facebook. I used to use it for shorter versions of these blog entries. I post less nowadays as a result of musingsponderingsandrants but I still get pleasure from hearing other’s news.

It is also my main platform for sharing this Blog and so I could not really do without it. Well I could but then no one would read anything I wrote except for my handful of loyal followers (thanks to you lovely lot), and those stumbling upon me accidentally.

I have a lot of family and friends who I see too infrequently and I feel closer to them than I would if FB didn’t exist.

I have found handymen and wasp nest killers and cooker repairers from heart felt pleas on its walls.

Others I know successfully sell second hand items through it.

And actually the most lovely thing about it is the snap shot it gives one of one’s life. Nearly daily, because I was such an avid poster, I get a notification that I have ‘Memories to look back on’. In fact I am such a prolific poster that when I tried recently to order one of those ‘My Social Books’ for my time on the site I could not get it under the 500 page limit.

I always look back on those memories. I don’t usually share them because who else is interested. But I gain immense pleasure from them.

Today I was reminded that last year Middlest and Eldest were both away overnight (I have no idea where!) and husband and I took Youngest for her first Chinese restaurant meal. And had a ball.

Two years ago my friendly dashboard spider gave me a fright.

There were pictures of Eldest in Year 4 dressed as a Celtic warrior. It backed up my recent musings that he was by far the most grown up of all my children at that stage in school. Youngest has now just started Year 4 and has no where near the same knowing look in her eye.

Four years ago I had finished knitting Jesus.

And five years ago I was bemoaning how hard it was to cook a curry whilst doing reading with Eldest, avoiding Middlest’s toy cars whizzing by, dressing a dollie for Youngest and avoiding a balloon pig occasionally floating over the hob.

I can remember that moment very clearly- although I have no idea why we had a balloon pig- beacuse I had been reminded of it. I would probably never have thought about it again with out that timely reminder from good old FB.

And so I am glad I was a prolific poster. I am glad I wrestled my inner demons, who worried I was boring everyone to death, and just wrote anyway. I am glad I wrote about the every day, the mundane, the humorous, the annoying and the heartfelt.

For now I have this record of my day to day life since 2009. A most welcome, almost daily, little package of memories which make me go ‘Oh yes I remember that’. It is an on line version of a diary but with pictures.

And it makes me think that I still need to post some little snippets, despite the longer record of current life contained in these blogs. For else I will lose that lovely package of history.

FB has its detractors but for me it has definitely got this right. Thanks.

Are we nearly there yet? — August 16, 2015

Are we nearly there yet?

Today the kids and I were faced with a long drive to the in laws. We are unfortunate enough to be at least a four hour drive away from three of the four ‘sets’ of the kids’ grandparents. Before you ask it’s complicated.

One set are in the South West and therefore in reality at least 5 hours away. The other two ‘away’ sets are in the North East and I have done it in three and a half hours with a tail wind and no roadworks or average speed cameras. Today it took six, a combination of incessant rain and Friday traffic.

Before we left the kids had their usual argument about which DVDs to watch in the car. As I have three kids and two DVD player holders Middlest has to share. He can share with either of the other two. But of course they never want to watch the same DVD, or they all want to watch the same DVD at the same time. If there is a way to fall out about it they will.

Anyway once I had donned my light blue peacekeeper helmet and sorted it all out (I think I threatened to leave the DVD players behind, or did I threaten to leave the kids behind? Either way it worked) we departed.

The radio doesn’t work when the DVD players are on. They seem to interfere with each other. And I have still not unpacked my CD collection since the house move and so I had a choice of Def Leppard or The Wheels on the Bus collection. As such, once Def Leppard had gone round twice, I had plenty of silence and traffic jam to consider how it was when I was young.

We did a lot of train travel as a kid. But also plenty of long distance car journeys.

My first recollections are of the bright green Ford Cortina. Three door. Rear windows of a triangular nature which popped open rather than rolled down. No air con. No radio.

My mum was quite enlightened for the time. We had four point harnesses attached to some part of the car’s innards. We had a cuboid block of foam to sit on so we could see out of the tiny windows. She had covered them in hand made fabric cases, mine was an orange, yellow and brown seventies flower concoction and my brother had a blue and white stripe toweling  type material. He used to dig little tunnels in his foam so that under the cover it looked a lot like an ants’ nest.

We drove quite often from Mersyside to the South West to visit grandparents and for our annual hotel holiday in South Devon. The trips were interminable. My dad had recorded some music onto tape for us to help pass the time. Our favourite one had Play School’s Bang on a Drum album on one side. And for some, probably educational, reason The Carnival of the Animals by Saint Seans on the other. Yes it is classical music aimed more at children than the norm but still, no words, nothing to sing along to. Low on entertainment value, certainly after its first airing.

Due to having to use a portable tape player which ran on the largest cylindrical batteries available we were not allowed to use the rewind or forward wind buttons. As the batteries ran out. So once the fun of Bang on a Drum had been had we were subjected to the opposing side in order to hear it again. I think the other tape had Peter and the Wolf on…..that was even worse. I still can’t listen to The Swan without picturing the M5.

My mum was a master of car word games. I Spy, pub bingo, The Minister’s Cat, I went to Market and I bought. We played all these a lot. But I guess even her patience must have run out at some point on each journey as I remember a lot of watching rain drops roll down the windows and playing the ‘raindrop racing game’ in my head.

I did a lot of staring out of the window to combat my horrendous travel sickness. There was a metal potty in the car just for me. And so I could never read or do puzzles or the like. Even with the window staring I was often ill. On an interminable trip to Kent from Mersyside I was sick about 14 times. This was in the days before the M25 so I am not even sure how we got round London but I do remember it taking a very long time…..indeed.

My brother eventually built up quite a collection of Pocketeers (see above). They helped him pass the time. But not me, too vomit inducing.

Sometime after we moved south we transferred to our first Fiat Mirafiori. PHF181T. This had a radio. But it was permanently tuned to Radio Four. I remember the rebellion my brother and I led during our teenage years to be allowed to listen to the chart show on one Sunday evening drive home.

There were some memorable incidents. One of the rear windows my mother was finally persuaded to pop open for us on one boiling hot drive which then promptly fell out onto the service station car park floor. My brother flapping his jumper out of the car window (this must have been in the Mirafiori days) to get rid of a strangely  colourful bug and then letting go. And my dad then sprinting across all the lanes of the motorway from the hard shoulder to retrieve it. Can you even imagine any day when that would even be possible now without being flattened? My brother and I sitting on those foam cushions on the roadside to eat our picnic and being joined by a gaggle of hungry geese.

But generally we were bored. Witless. Even so I don’t remember bugging my mum much. What compliant children we were. That bit of the M5 where it splits onto two levels was always a sign that we were nearly there and it could never come soon enough.

So I have very little sympathy for my kids’ DVD squabbling. They don’t know they are born. Seriously.

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