Saturday, May 31, 2008

Compound words

We have just been back Down South, visiting friends.

Friend's daughter aged 8 to The Terminator 'We're learning compound words at school, that's a word made up of two words'. 'Like what?' asked TT 'Waitrose' giggled friend's daughter. Friend's son aged 7 'I know one, popcorn! Do you know any?' to The Terminator 'Yes, arsehole.'

I've started saving up for a Swiss finishing school for him as an alternative to a Young Offender's Institute. A lot of polish is going to be needed for that rough diamond.

Keep on running

On Monday I went for a 3.5 mile run. My target is to complete the Great North in under 2 hours this year. So far I have run it 4 times. My best time is 2 hours 9 minutes. Every year I run with one of my best and oldest school friends who lives in London, last year she beat me. I say run with but she's just as competitive as me and we run to beat our own times and each other. I had to pretend to be sporting about it but it was a real blow to my pride. No longer could I assume the faintest air of superiority when discussing our training or give helpful advice, the slave became the master and I've had to eat a lot of humble pie. I have now decided that this year is the year I am going to go under 2 hours. I'm going to cut down on wine and sweets and become a lean mean running machine. So with that in mind I went out and did my second fastest time, despite my spare tyre.
On the way, because I was panting and it had been humid and raining, I did eat a lot of these:

I am very pleased that I didn't eat any of these though:

or these:

or even these:

Monday, May 26, 2008

The School Trip

Last week I went on a school trip to a farming show with The Terminator's class. It was a fantastic show. I was responsible for four boys, making sure they didn't get lost, disgrace themselves or enjoy their usual punch-ups in public. The only one that got lost was The Terminator, who was found hanging round the neck of a golden labrador in one of the tents. No, we can't have a dog!

We had a packed lunch on picnic blankets and one of the boys fell asleep. Naturally it was very early (11.20am) as all of the boys were 'starving' and 'really hungry'. When he woke up I asked him if he was OK - he replied that his brother had kept him awake talking the night before. He then fell asleep again for about 15 minutes. When he woke up for the second time he had curled up on the blanket against me. I don't know him very well but I like him, he's very chilled and sweet tempered. He then asked me if I wanted to know the real reason he was so tired. I said if he wanted to tell me he could. He explained that his stepdad was in a mood and had kicked his bedroom door down and smashed all of his lightbulbs in his room. His mum was scared and grabbed them all and he had gone to sleep very late on the landing with his mum and two brothers. At the end of the day he gave me his phone number and asked me if The Terminator could go for a sleepover. I couldn't stop thinking about him that night, wondering what I should do. I know his mum slightly and she seems very young and out on a limb. In the morning I went and told the Headteacher what he'd told me. I really hope that was the right thing to do.

The second thing that happened that day was that another mum joined forces with me and we went around the show together. I've known her for about 4 years and always liked her, but we've never had an in-depth conversation before. She'd been made redundant and was taking May off to be with her son (she's a single parent) and she'd set up her own business to start in June. She's in sales and is super dynamic. So, her new business needs a marketer to help her and she asked me. Of course I said yes, thinking that it would be a way off in my usual slack fashion. I got home and an hour later she'd sold me into her client and had arranged a meeting for early June. Shit! I'd better get my act together..

Sunday, May 25, 2008

'What is this life so full of care...

I wish I knew how to do links then I'd put one in to the one legged vagabond poet W H Davies who wrote that. My Dad, Sean Sean the leprechaun (he's small and Irish), is always quoting it.

What a belter of a bank holiday so far. No football, no need to get up to take the boys training, no cricket matches just Lurch, Danny Boy and me relaxing. I was woken up though, at 5.38am, by Lurch bellowing 'Will you shut your beaks!' to the morning assembly of blackbirds, sparrows and starlings in the garden. He slammed the window shut and we both slept until 9.00am when Danny Boy came in for a cuddle. I'm not sure when boys grow out of that but I hope it lasts a bit longer.

We drove to the North Yorkshire moors and then to the White Horse for a sunny and windy walk. The green and white hedgerows of theEnglish countryside are so beautiful at this time of year, teeming with wild flora and fauna; speedwell blue, gorse, forget-me-nots, brambles, raspberry bushes, nettles, baby rabbits, pheasants etc so much so that it prompted me to think about Ray Mears' weekly supermarket bill. I wonder how much it is? Lurch thought that it would probably be about £10.00 because of his expertise in foraging. I think that he probably doesn't need to go to the supermarket every week, depending on the season.

I've also had time to read this morning - Then we came to the end by Joshua Ferris, what a brilliant and original book - I'm half way through and gripped. I had a long bath with a cup of tea and a superb daydream. I started thinking about eggs. I believe they are almost the perfect design - strong enough to protect when necessary but weak enough to break when required. The ideal container but what are they made of? Wouldn't it be great if you could combine them with some flexible material like rubber and replace all of the cling film in the world, how eco-friendly would that be!

As well as being the almost perfect design they are also easy to decorate:

For me the only design modification would be to make them square so that they're easier to pack, just like the new watermelon! Although I don't like to think about the genetic alterations you would need to make to the poor chicken...

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Invisibility cloak

Oh no! I weighed myself this morning and I've put on 4 pounds, that means I've got a stone and a half to lose before the Great North Run. Inspired by self disgust I've been on a 5 1/2 mile run. I ran around the village, everybody greeted me with very broad smiles, I know why. This is completely different to when I run in Leeds.

In Leeds I run with two young, fit women and guess what? Nobody notices me. It doesn't matter how red and sweaty I am, all eyes are on my colleagues. At first I found this hard to accept but then I came to view it as fantastically liberating, I can do what I want, when I want and truthfully not worry about what people think, what a relief! Lurch has been very cautious about my joy and said since my legs are my best feature it's a shame I don't wear skirts any more. He also told me that my 2004 Flora London marathon fleece and tracksuit bottoms have received several special mentions in his directional counselling. Maybe it is time to make an effort.

I think Lurch is worried I'm turning into my Aunty Babs. Aunty Babs lives in a trailer somewhere in Canada, she's El Vel's sister and is a compulsive gambler, hypochondriac and eater. She will often polish off a tub of Ben & Jerry's for a mid-morning snack. I think Lurch nearly called off the wedding when he met Aunty Babs - he said he'd never ever seen somebody with a beer belly on the back of their neck before. She also has to have a machine for sleep apnea in case she dies when she's kipping, although El Vel said she was snoring all the way back from the airport and still survived.

Bank Holiday weekend bliss

We had a lovely evening yesterday. I dropped The Terminator off at cub camp for a three night stay. I think cubs is fantastic, the boys were so excited to be sleeping in a wood. I'd spent 3 hours in the morning putting up tents with Akela, phew! The Terminator was allowed to take a cuddly toy so naturally he packed Ronaldinho, his dearly beloved giant monkey. He introduced Ronaldinho to Akela as the last of his species but stated that he had a cousin who is actually a horse as well as a footballer - is that wrong in any way?

So Danny Boy Lurch and I had a takeaway curry, listened to music, talked and drank wine (not DB, obviously!). Danny Boy decided not to go to the party but is now worried about being considered a geek (he loves history and Warhammer). His great love of the moment was going and taking beer, to a 12 year old's party!! She has swept through the mid-field of the boy's football team and is now going out with another defender so I think Danny Boy may be next. Lurch and Danny Boy are going shopping today to buy skinny jeans and converse trainers to pimp up DB's ride a bit. I've got to work as I spent so much time volunteering yesterday.

Lurch and Danny Boy have a special bond. When we lived in London I had a job that involved spending about 150 days a year travelling so Lurch was on his own a lot with Danny Boy and they really get each other's sensibilities and sensitivities. It used to hurt me when Danny Boy wouldn't look at me or speak to me after I'd been on a two week trip to Russia or South Korea or somewhere, and that's a lot to do with the decision to move up North. I do miss having a challenging, interesting job but I'm glad I've spent more time with the boys. It's also great to have some time with DB on his own, without them fighting!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A tale of two Wendys

I only know two people called Wendy. I used to work with the first Wendy. If you looked at us in the street together you would think we had absolutely nothing in common. She is 27, tall and very glamorous and skirts the fringes of WAG culture in the North. She is Louis Vuitton'd and Prada'd up to her eyeballs. As stated before I live in Cherokee land (heap big debts to deal with....), am not tall, am certainly not 27 and need a shed load of make-up for glamour these days. She and I spent four years together working on our own and we developed a pretty close friendship. I tried my best to persuade her to go to University and leave her mean boyfriend (Big Bad Baz) who pretended that he didn't have two other kids for two years. He also set fire to her car and threatened to kill her, but that's another story. She married him, had two sons and things have been pretty rocky. He offered to pay for a boob job for her and last week she phoned me up from the hospital bed to say she'd had it done and was very sore. Big Bad Baz walked into the hospital, lifted the sheet and said 'They're not very big' then went fishing overnight. Wendy said to me 'I thought it would cure everything between us but it's made no difference at all'. Lurch said not all men are the same.

The second Wendy is my lovely sister-in-law, married to my younger brother Pete. Pete is the most empathetic, supportive husband you could meet - my older sister, Clare, and I think it's because we wanted a sister when he was born so we called him Caroline and dressed him in girl's clothes for three years. Wendy is the love of his life and they have 3 kids, all teenagers. My mother, El Vel, the head of the household, the matriarch, former maths teacher and Deputy Head phoned me up last week to say that Wendy had a cyst that her doctor said was probably benign and was going to have it checked out. She phoned me again this week to say that it was bad news and that Wendy's got breast cancer, Pete is in pieces. I phoned Wendy and had to fight back tears, she sounded so brave and so so scared. We're all praying it's going to be OK and my fab friend Julia who's had breast cancer (visited her in the hospital day after having breast removed and she gave me a high five and shouted 'I've passed! whoohoo!!' when I asked her what she'd passed she replied 'the liver function test..')has given Wendy her number for night or day contact. Lurch is very upset as he's very fond of Wendy but that hasn't stopped him from stalking the web as anticipated and yes, he's now realised that men get breast cancer too. I'm going to find his obsessive self examination and nipple squeezing hard to stomach...

Raef & Didier redcarded!

I can't believe it Raef and Didier redcarded on the same night! Naturally we watched the match in this house so The Terminator and I missed The Apprentice - what happened? How could The Angel of Elegance have tumbled from his perfect pedestal and taken his 'Last Ride? How is Monstrous Michael still in there? Will have to find a repeat somewhere this week to fathom the decision.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

What was I thinking?

Why did I think it was a good idea to greet the man doing the HIP report with the words 'Hello, it's freezing, isn't it?' when I was standing inside the house?

Straight talking

Have been busy at work this week, slaving away on some interesting brands. I know it's Wednesday already but I wanted to update last weekend's activities.

Competition is often perceived to be a dirty word in the UK. I've noticed that a lot of mothers profess to despise competitiveness, until their child begins to show a real talent for something, then and only then do you see their true colours begin to emerge. Danny Boy and Lurch are not really competitive. The Terminator and I are really competitive. My family call me 'Monica' when I'm entering a quiz or a race and that's not my real name. The Terminator's favourite programme (yes, I know, it's not really suitable for a 9 year old, please don't call The Social Services) is The Apprentice, he absolutely loves it, we spend hours discussing each episode. Raef is his current favourite, not a bad role model (certainly much better than WWF's The Undertaker, signature move 'The Last Ride') I consider it to be a real bonding experience.

Anyway it was the football club's presentation day on Sunday. Last season Danny Boy, who is a defender, spent entire matches watching strikers approach him, go past him, head towards the goal and then he would chase after them. I've decided that one of the best things I can do for my children is to be honest with them, then they'll know they can always trust me to tell them the truth. Sometimes that policy is very hard to stick to, but I do try. During last season I told Danny Boy that all of the supporters and coaches could see that he didn't want to tackle anybody and that as a defender it was his job to do that. He cried, said I was really mean, was calling him rubbish and didn't speak to me for two days. This year, however, at secondary school he's started rugby for the first time and he seems to have conquered his tackling terror. Once he'd overcome his fear he started to play really well and on Sunday he won Player of the Season for the first time ever. His face! Lurch took a photo on his new camera to capture the moment.

The Terminator got nothing. I told him that it was because he was obsessed with being captain and telling other people what to do, advice not taken seriously by the rest of the team from a substitute. He took it to heart and has vowed to show them all what he can do next season. I'll say one thing in favour of competitive kids, you don't have to worry about motivating them, that's for sure. My last word on it is that I'm convinced we're born that way not made...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Dead Magpie conundrum

I saw a solitary dead Magpie on the roadside today. It made me panic. Does that mean I'm going to be really sorrowful or really happy?

How many a week, Gordon?

Now that's what I call a proper unit!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Lads v Dads

Had a bit too much Pinot Grigio last night, getting angst ridden with Lurch about why the estate agent hasn't called once and what a rip-off HIP reports are. The estate agent quoted £415 but I've found an internet one for £250 - why can't they just be included as part of a survey? Sorry, I know there's nothing more boring than HIP reports..

Anyway, I woke up feeling slightly furry mouthed and rough round the edges, not well rested for the big match. I was praying for a large footy shirt, not like the terrible tight one I had to wear last year that showed off my bra fat (or bacon back as the Dutch call it, apparently) and muffin top. Got there with Lurch and the boys, Nev asked Lurch if he'd changed his mind and wanted to play, Lurch replied 'Do I look match fit to you Nev?' then went shopping to Leeds.

The shirt was big (result!) and we had a cracker of a match 1-1, went to extra time and then penalty shoot outs. I gave it my all and played mid-field/strike - Danny Boy said I embarrassed him, was too red and sweaty and behaved like a man. Football is really a lot harder than it looks, the ball hurts when it hits you and you don't have much time to think - also when you kick the ball it doesn't necessarily do what you think it's going to do - I'm going to have to practise for next year. But guess what? Nev gave me the trophy to take home, even though I was too scared to do the penalties. Danny Boy was secretly impressed, I think, even though he didn't show it except to say I was much more competitive than the 3 other mums who played.

We got home and I started watching the FA Cup Final but fell asleep, then I woke up two hours later and everything had seized up. I'm supposed to be doing the Great North Run in October - I MUST GET FITTER!

Club tournament & presentation day tomorrow - yes I've volunteered to do teas and coffees but only for an hour. The Terminator and Danny Boy are hopeful of trophys but I've told them not to worry too much about it. Just sent them to bed and went to see Lurch who's smoking another cigar. He was wild-eyed. 'What's the matter?' I asked 'I'm aghast,' he said, 'I thought I was a sophisticated urbane man-of-the- world but your Closer magazine has shocked me to the core. I cannot seriously believe that people bleach their anuses!'. I assured him that it was a growing trend but that he'd never be able to spot a bleached anus because he refuses to wear his glasses.

Friday, May 16, 2008

'I'll be that volunteer, Sir' - Corporal Jones, Dad's Army

I've promised myself to be brief on the blog today, I can feel addiction rising!

When I was feeling particularly isolated and full of enthusiasm for New Year resolutions I read a lot of articles about happiness. Apparently loneliness causes misery and community spirit makes you joyful. I set to it.

Yesterday I went to pick up Danny Boy at 5.45pm from a cricket match against St Mydadsgotmoredoshthanyours (the boys call it that not me!) . The Terminator had cubs at 6.30. The coach was 45minutes late back to school. Danny Boy got off in a temper - he was 12th man, hadn't played and had to keep score (maths not his strong point) and they lost. Gave him usual lecture on working hard to get in team and having good sporting attitude e.g. David Beckham dropped from England squad, fought back, Paula Radcliffe's comeback from Athen's marathon etc. - felt like Winston Churchill at the end of inspiring motivational speech, Danny Boy just sulked then cheered up when he told me they were late because the coach driver had crashed the coach into a lampost and that he suspected the cause of the accident was 'intoxication'.

The Terminator was late for cubs, as I apologised Akela reminded me that I had promised to help practise putting up tents. By 8.00pm my head was pounding - no wonder the collective noun for cubs is a pack. Akela also reminded me that I said I'd do the cooking for cub camp next week - did I? when was that? I don't remember putting my name forward.. so I'm now responsible for making sandwiches for 40 cubs, at least I've avoided the sausage sizzle and overnight stay.

Got home starving at 8.15 no food in the house, Lurch smirking menacingly. I get in a temper when I'm hungry. Lurch told me that Nev, Danny Boy's football coach, had called to remind me that the 'Lads vs Dads' annual football match was on Saturday and that I was playing. Lurch has zero sporting ability, he only played cricket for the school once when there was a chicken pox epidemic, owns no swimming trunks and refers to footy as 'oikball'. What was I going to wear? Rushed upstairs to try on combo of my running shorts, Danny Boy's Bolton shirt, socks, shin pads and boots - Danny Boy is much thinner than me but same height and foot size. Came downstairs, Danny Boy looked worried, Lurch exclaimed in a broad Scottish accent 'Why, wee Jimmy Crankie you're all growd up!'. To my credit, I didn't move a muscle in reaction, knowing that if I did I would be referred to as wee Jimmy for the next few weeks. Lurch has some real talents, by the way, accents being one of them. Decided to splash out on new, flattering tracky bottoms from the brand that speaks to me and reflects my image of myself as a pioneering go-getter, yes Cherokee!

Remembered last thing that I had school governor's meeting at 2.00pm tomorrow. Went to bed exhausted and stressed from volunteering...

Thursday, May 15, 2008

'For Sale'

Yes, the sign's up! After 12 hours of decluttering and cleaning for the estate agent's photos last Thursday the house is finally on the market. Lurch is none too pleased - he'd rather stay here in splendid rural isolation but he's outvoted big time on this one - 3 to 1, in fact. He began his counter attack stealth campaign immediately by lighting a cigar and tossing down a large Scotch, that cheered him up and stank the house out.

Danny Boy has been invited to a girl's party on Friday night - he is very worried about it and says that he doesn't want anybody to rape him or make him drink alcohol. I assured him that his fears were groundless but he had heard on the school vine that Georgia Braithwaite's dad had bought some cans of shandy already. I told him that he could phone me immediately if things got hairy and I would collect him but that he should go. He's finding out more details today... his genepool mix is a strange, bewildering thing.

The Terminator has got his last optional SAT's exam today - I reminded him that 'first past the post' was NOT a measure of success after his teacher told him off for finishing in half the allocated time on Monday, he said 'I was still first, whatever.'

I shouldn't really be writing this blog, as if I haven't got enough to do what with cleaning, tidying and deodorising. My cup cake empire is still top of mind but hasn't got past the design stage yet, like so many of my wealth creation schemes. I must try to be more dynamic and driven and less daydreamy.