Parenting, profundities and humour

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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