Tuesday, 30 December 2014

God bless us, everyone.

How to combine an anecdote about my parents climbing into bed with us on Christmas morning, going to see some French Canadian acrobats with beards and banjos who throw axes at each other, some skating at Somerset house, a Christmas party for a much-loved, retiring head teacher, making a video with 26 kids in my kitchen, wrapping 73 presents, going to a concert at Wigmore Hall, to the theatre to see Horrible Histories, to the flicks to see Paddington, and lots of drinks parties, into a gigantic catch-up mega-blog?

I don't think I can, so suffice to say it's been an eventful few weeks which has kept me from blogging but here I finally am, sitting at the kitchen island on my laptop, watching the wood-burning stove devour a couple of logs, drinking Nespresso from the machine Eldest just bought us for Christmas, and in lieu of inspiration here are some titbits...


It's tradition in our family for the boys to bring their stockings into our room on Christmas morning to open their presents in front of us. We coo and ah and take photographs and express surprise at each gift they unpeel, which is totally genuine on Husband's part because he's had no hand in it at all, and totally fake on mine since (cover your eyes here if you're under 12 years-old) I buy and wrap everything. In this case all 42 things because each boy received 14 presents. Some of them are on the prosaic side, I'll grant you, such as chocolate or socks, but others are much more glam, such as CDs or books, and that's BEFORE the main present which is sitting under the tree to be opened later. Which is how, once other rellies are included, I arrived at that figure of 73 presents wrapped in total. And by the way, to save my back from total festive meltdown, I wrap them all at the ironing board while watching It's A Wonderful Life...

And I don't know why my parents climbed into our bed this Christmas morning, I guess it's because they like to watch the present opening too and there aren't any chairs in our bedroom. They took Husband's side. He had to perch over on mine. We were squashed. We looked like the four grandparents from Charlie and Chocolate Factory. Eldest took a photo. And I would include it for you here to laugh at because we all had Santa hats on and looked ridiculous, only I didn't have any make-up on at the time, it being so early, and I wouldn't want to frighten the horses. Or you.


Timber! is the name of the thing with the French Canadians with the beards and the axes that we saw at the Southbank yesterday. They do acrobatics and stuff. I liked their arms, the men's arms that is, there were a couple of chicks in the show too but I really didn't notice them quite so much, I was too distracted by the arms, lumberjack arms, big ones, like hams. I like arms. Did I say? We took the boys. Last year we saw something there called Folds, which was acrobatics with paper and which defies description. To be honest the memory of Folds kind of leaves the French Canadians with axes in the shade. The shade of a big tree. Possibly a Redwood. Even if they did have lovely arms, and played banjos. 


Every year we go skating just before Christmas and I think someone will end up in A & E. A friend of mine went with her niece last year and some maniac skated over the little girl's hand and severed a tendon. Blood all over the snow-white ice. For someone with a vivid imagination (me) and an almost constant sense of impeding doom (also me) skating is not a relaxing occasion. Think about it, we strap boots to our feet, which have murderously sharp thin blades on the bottom of them, and then slip about on a glass-like substance with little or nothing in the way of preparation, talent, or instruction. God knows how we don't all kill ourselves. At least Eldest didn't come with us this year, we had a ticket for him but he had to go to work. As Youngest put it "And he's the one who's the maniac, Mummy!" Too true.


A week or so ago I was going to write a blog called Dancing With Tears In Our Eyes, something a bit familiar there for the older reader, like me, who found that their formative and developing years coincided with the 80s. We threw a party, you see, some parents and former parents from the boys' old primary school, all of us 80's throw-backs to a leg-warmered man, for the much-loved, retiring head teacher, and it was a bitter-sweet occasion. Sweet because there we all were again, the class of 2000/1/2, those of us who met through our children at the school gates and forged life-long ties, hugging and chatting and laughing together again, and bitter because it was the last time we will all dance together like that (like idiots, that is) in that school hall with that beloved head teacher. There were musical tributes and speeches and a little film that I and some other parents made in my kitchen, from when I invited some pupils and ex-pupils round to share their memories. Twenty-six kids took part in all and the resulting film is on Vimeo if you want to click the link there on the top right of the blog and watch it. Anyway, as I say, we danced the night away, and there definitely were some tears in some of our eyes.

Twin Peaks

Eldest and I have been staying up late watching the Twin Peaks box set I bought him for Christmas because I somehow managed to miss it in the 90's and thought it was high time I caught up, and he is a David Lynch fan. Can someone please explain just what is the matter with that lunatic director? Oh and I also finally made Eldest watch American Werewolf in London with me. It stood up surprisingly well. And do you know Rick Mayall is in that movie? When we googled him he co-wrote it as well! Talk about 80's throw back. Dear old Rick.

God bless us

And finally there has been all the usual Christmas stuff that you and your families will have been indulging in too: food and drink and telly and theatre and games and music and whatnot. Husband played Christmas carols on his euphonium as my mother and I drunkenly sang along, the boys jammed almost co-operatively on their guitars, Middle One played a bit of piano. I shopped and cooked and wrapped and lit the fire and made everyone watch A Christmas Carol again, and felt tearful when Scrooge lifted up Tiny Tim onto his bony old shoulder and the little crippled child exclaimed: God bless us, everyone! Freeze the frame. End Christmas. Re-set the whole jolly lot for next year.

Love E x


Here's our table set for Christmas tea. I thought it looked rather like something from Ideal Home. Good job there's no sound on a photograph and you can't hear the arguing in the background and me just out of the frame there shouting that it's definitely not my turn to take out the rubbish. Again. 

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


Wednesday, 10 December 2014

The quiet coach.

Saturday and I'm going to York for the day to surprise my mother because it's her 75th birthday. I have to get to King's Cross for bang on 10.00 am. 

Middle One comes downstairs for breakfast. He has just had a whole week off school with tonsillitis, but he seemed completely better the night before. 

"My face hurts," he says, clutching his face, "a lot."

Husband walks into the kitchen. "Eldest has done something to himself," he says, "he is writhing around on the bathroom floor."

"What has he done?" I ask. 

I am sorting out my train tickets and trying to track down my Oyster Card in the bottom of my handbag.

"Somehow he appears to have impaled himself on his door handle as he went from his bedroom to the shower," says Husband. "There's a door-shaped mark on his body and he's broken the skin."

I leave my handbag and go up to Eldest. He is indeed writhing around on the bathroom floor, clutching his side and complaining that he feels sick. I look at the wound. 

"I think you should go to A & E," I say, "in case you have done some damage inside that we can't see."

I go back downstairs and start stacking the dishwasher.

"I'm in agony," says Middle One, "I've just googled it and I think I have a secondary infection."

"It sounds like a sinus infection," I say, leaving the dishwasher and walking over to Middle One, "you had better start taking those antibiotics. I won't be here, I'm afraid. I'm going to York." 

I write out a list of when he should take the antibiotics and then a separate list for when he can take the painkillers and how to alternate between ibuprofen and paracetamol. 

Youngest goes to school. Husband takes Eldest to A & E. Middle One goes back to bed. I go up to his room with a glass of water and the tablets and a hot honey and lemon drink and then I finish tidying up and head for the Tube. 

When I get to King's Cross I ring Eldest as I'm walking across the concourse, and just as a loud alarm starts to go off with an accompanying even louder announcement.

"How are you!" I shout above the sound of the alarm, and the even louder announcement.

"Please ignore this alarm!" says the announcement.

"I'm okay!" shouts Eldest.

I go into Pret A Manger.

"This is a practice alarm!" says the announcement.

"What did the doctor say!" I shout.

"It's bruising and muscle damage!" shouts Eldest.

"Would you like anything else?" says the girl behind the counter, as I pass her my smoked salmon sandwich.

"Pardon?" I say.

"DO YOU WANT ANYTHING ELSE!" says the girl.

"Yes, a phone call would be nice, or a text, and do you have any miso soup?" I say.

"What?" shouts Eldest.

"Nothing!" I shout back.

"I have to rest!" says Eldest.

"Pardon!" I say to Eldest, "there's an alarm going off!"

"Yes!" says the girl.

"One miso soup as well then, please!" I shout.

"No action is required!" says the announcement.

"I'm going to stay at home today!" shouts Eldest.

"That's a good idea!" I shout back, "you haven't had a day off since the beginning of September, and you have worked evenings and weekends, you are very tired."

Eldest says nothing. I think.

"Is that all?!" shouts the girl.

"No!!!!!" I shout back, "it's absolutely not!"

"Well at least you will be there with Middle One so he won't be by himself!" I shout to Eldest.

"What!" shouts Eldest.

"Never mind!" I shout.

I hang up and head for the train. I have to walk the whole length of it because I have booked a seat in coach B. 

It's the quiet coach.

Love E x