Are they real?

My baby boy turned 1 today. To whoever looks after the weather – thanks for getting rid of the wind and turning on the sun. We enjoyed the great outdoors on a local farm with all his baby mates. Given how shocking the weather was yesterday i had to pinch myself as I gazed  up at the perfect blue sky as my son and all  his friends whizzed along on the barrel bug ride. My son stayed the course of the day very well despite having really bad teething pains. So bad I don’t travel anywhere without our trusty bottle of calpol – he seems to spike a temperature during teething every 4 – 6 hours.

I reflected back on the day he was born, It was a Wednesday. Every Wednesday in our village they practice the church bells and I romanticise that they were ringing them for him the day he was born. I lay in bed with him next to us in the crib listening to the bells ring and thinking I was one of the luckiest people alive and what had I done to deserve such good fortune. Later that night I was woken by a creaking floorboards (I think you know where this is going). I (think) I am not a total fruit loop, but I am convinced someone was there in the room. The footsteps went to the end of the bed near the crib and then stopped. I dared to peep open my eyes and just made out a silhouette near the crib but I didn’t want to open my eyes completely for fear whatever I saw would completely freak me out. So I closed them shut again and focused on going back to sleep. Nothing further happened.

I like to think it was my granny, who died when I was 13, coming to visit her great grandson. But it could have been someone who lived in our house before – we live in a post war house built in 1947 when Britain was getting back on its feet again and many people were born in this house I’m sure.

My dad’s house used to be a pest house in Victorian times – it sits in fields outside the walls of the local town (yes the town is literally surrounded by a wall with a big house for the Lord and Lady slapped bang in the middle of the town next to the church). If anyone got a terminal contagious disease they were sent to Dad’s house to die. So if ever there was a place that would be frequented by ghosts, it would be dad’s house. I saw a ot of things as a child but then I had a habit of sleepwalking so everything got a little mixed up with that. Hence my question are they real? Part of me likes to think they are but part of me likes to think they aren’t.

I am blogging every day for Unicef. If you are able to help please visit my fundraising website.

Thanks for reading.


Running out of time

AAARRgggh deadlines, deadlines, deadlines. I feel my head will spontaneously combust if it has to remember just one more thing. Forgot the parent/ teacher meeting tonight so thankfully hubby stepped in and saved the day (yes they do have their uses!). My to do list at work is more like a wish list, which keeps getting longer. Every time I pop to the loo or for a cuppa my phone is flashing like Batman’s Gotham City hotline (if only the calls were that interesting) and my mobile is constantly beeping with friends wanting to know more about my son’s birthday party tomorrow. Why did we invent all this annoying technology that nags us? We were late for the school bus this morning so I hunted it down to the next bus stop like Damon Hill (or Jenson Button if I am being more up-to-date) and so keen was I to push pedal to metal I forgot to put my seatbelt on (very bad I know) so my car was going bananas….beep beep beep fuckin’ beep……flash, flash, flash, fuckin’ flash….”I know, I know I’ll put it on a minute” (yes I actually talked to my car) but that’s what you end up doing – talking to inanimate objects because of all this beeping and flashing and nagging.

Well finally its the end of my working day and pound in the pot for yesterday I know because I was busy being Queen of cupcakes. A very serious procedure involving carefully removing tiny little disc shaped rice paper (with a photo of my son’s favourite toy) and then laying them onto each cake with germanic precision. Regardless of my attempts they still ended up looking like a 5 year old had done them – so if anyone questions their appearance I am just going to say “My daughter helped me…oh bless”.

I was also busy last night working on a new technique with the power hoop to literally ‘pummel away my bottom’. Despite my best attempts to diet, exercise (OK well maybe not my best) my butt will not reduce in size. I was so obsessed at gyrating this hoop around my hips and bum that I noticed bruising this morning. But I was actually pleased by this…..(its not right is it).

Anyway the day finished well because my tree surgeon of a husband survived an 80 foot Oak in gale force winds. I’m sure his is crossed with a chimpanzee somewhere in his heritage..

As usual this blog is for Unicef. To contribute to the campaign please visit my Unicef fundraising site to help children particularly in the current war torn countries of Gaza, Israel and Syria.

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Teething problems

I am so tired. Baby boy is approaching his 1st birthday and his teeth are making one final push to produce a full set. This time its a molar and we are all experiencing the pain. Once again I am not sure how much sleep any of us got last night but pretty sure we didn’t get anywhere near REM.

We overslept (apart ffrom Hubby who is always up at stupid o clock). It was one of those moments when you wake up and are momentarily oblivious to how long you have slept, what time it is and where the hell you are in the routine of the week. One glance of the clock pushed the panic button “7.30!” So much to do in 30 minutes I didn’t know where to start. Amazingly we made it out of the door and daughter managed to make it on the bus. Then I was stuck in the traffic jam from hell with 3 factors all working against the flow of the traffic simultaneously: utility works, road closure because of a christmas market and a road closure because of an accident.

What I find surprising is the lengths people will go to in order to avoid a traffic jam. In the space of 2 minutes I saw 2 cars go the wrong way up a one way street to avoid traffic. One twat even attempted to go round a blind corner, flanked by walls either side the wrong way. He would have been welcomed by police the other end who were blocking the road – I bet they had a field day.

This set the one for the rest of the day – it never really got going. Things wre being added to my to do list faster than I could get things done. However I was happy to settle for the fact that, given my lack of sleep, I managed to get out of the door in the morning and hold normal conversations with adults witout cocking up. I will consider that my achievement for the day!

I hope all sleep deprived parents had a similarly successful day….

I am blogging every day for Unicef. If you are able to support the campaign visit my Unicef fundraising site.

Thanks for reading.

Powerless and Furious

Last night I was furious – such a brilliant adjective to describe anger at a deeper level. I was wtaching the news (never a good idea) and it just seemed to be one catastrophe after the other. What made me angry was watching people who have the power to make a difference responding, in my view entirely inappropriately.

First, the Gaza conflict. I am I in the minority for believing that the Palestinians need help and support? What Hamas is doing is wrong but Israel’s response is Barbaric, particularly when you look at their actions in the past. From where I am sitting Palestinians are opressed by their Israeli neighbours and an independent body needs to step in and ensure Palestinians are receiving the rights they deserve and ensure Hamas cease the rocket attacks. If Netanyahu continues this course of action then he will no doubt be the subject of a war crimes tribunal. There is talk that he is in danger of losing international sympathy – in my view that has already happenend. Why is it then, that Barack Obama appears to be supporting Israeli action? I used to like him but now I think he is a twat – If he carries on making these public shows of support, he is in danger of losing international credibility.

Second, the Church of England is looking into whether woman should be allowed to become Bishops. At this headline I just had to check the calendar to see if I hadn’t unwittingly stepped into a Delorean. Why the fuck aren’t they allowed already? Then the BBC manage to find a woman who is willing to state, on camera, something along the lines of “I believe woman have a role in society but that men should always play the lead role both in the home and in the church”. This woman was in her forties….. if that. So you can imagine I was swearing at the TV with steam coming out of my ears…..Lord knows what Germaine Greer was doing….

So I went to bed feeling fucked off and furious (wasn’t brave enough to put that in the title) and powerless. I think I would rather not watch the news from now on a be in blissful ignorance. In the meantime I have emailed William Hague in the vain hope that other people think along the same lines as me about Gaza and that the pressure of public opinion might stimulate those in power to take action.

I am blogging for Unicef every day to help children worldwide, if you are able to support the campaign please visit my site on the Unicef fundraising site.

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The diet starts tomorrow

I am sat flanked by kettle crisps to my left and sausage rolls, honey glazed cocktail sausages, potato wedges, bacon twizzlers and other finger food delights to my right. In various tupperware boxes in the kitchen are homemeade cupcakes and cookies. The fridge has a few cream filled and chocolate iced treats. Yes we had a kids party today – can you tell? It feels like an early Christmas, lots of family, lots of food. It was my baby son’s birthday party (although his birthday isn’t for another few days yet) he is a bit like the Queen – an official and unofficial birthday (the next party is specially for his baby mates).

I did attempt to mimic Mary Berry in the cake making category but my oven had other ideas. I followed the recipe on the back of the good old Betty Crocker pack perfect but it still ended up a bit lopsided. One side rose very well the other barely rose at all. The oven company who comes up with the ‘auto correct’ button will do very well indeed. It was a very tense process when I had to go through what seemed like a ritual to get the picture off the rice paper backing. On the instructions it said – “rub the backing paper vigorously on the edge of a table or cupboard until the picture starts to lift off”. If anyone had been walking past my house during this moment they would have seen me bent double rubbing a piece of A4 paper up and down on the edge of a table – like I was giving it a massage. Anyway, to my astonishment it worked. But to my horror it fell off quite quickly and landed face down on the floor (think I was a bit too vigorous) I will move away from this innuendo bingo to say that thankfully it stayed intact and with the carefulness and precision used to handle uranium, I succesfully planted it on top of my lop-sided cake. The picture was a photograph of my son’s favourite toy. “Right, now to tidy up the edges”, I said as I reached for my spray on icing complete with pipework attachments. Despite my best efforts it looked like something my daughter did when she was 2. I withheld from attempting any further work on it for fear of adding insult to injury. I decided my cake was a birdseye cake (it looked good from a birdseye view). Thankfully this was good when taking pictures of it. It went down well with my son who inhaled it.

Pound in the pot for yesterday I know. We didn’t get back til after midnight thanks to stuffing our face in a restaurant (the platter to share for starters would have been sufficient) followd by a screening of Skyfall – which was good but cheesy. I wasn’t entirely clear why Bond took that disc thingy to a a gambling house in Shanghai to get a case full of money, do nothing with it, meet up with a woman have a chat, beat up her bodyguards and then join her in the shower? It felt a bit like the director had a checklist of film ‘must haves’: car chase “check”, computer, car and watch product placements “check”, casino scene “check”, steamy scenes “check”, a moment of doubt about the world and its purpose “check”. One thing I wasn’t prepared for was the overdose on patriotism – for one moment I thought it was directed by Michael Mann – actually if they had filmed the union jack in slo mo I would have been convinced it was the work of Mann. I’m sure he suggested a few shots (M by the line of Union-Jack festooned coffins, Bond gazing over the cityscape with the flags dotted here and there, Land Rover, Aston Martin and Jaguar, the prime minister etc etc). But it wasn’t a bad way to spend a couple of hours – I particularly enjoyd the trailer “Seven Psychpaths” – more my strada.

Right, I have now eaten all the crisps – will endeavour to swim lots this week and do a bit of Zumba and cut the calorie intake in half – parties do not help the butt reduction campaign…..

I am blogging every day for Unicef. If you are able to support please visit the Unicef fundraising site.

Thanks for reading.

Spotting Spots for BBC Children in Need

As promised, I am going to dedicate my blog to day today to Spots and all things spotty. So here goes (I confess Wikipedia was used when my spot spotting ran dry).

But first…..a lesson on how not to do a fundraiser…….

My daughter went to school today wearing her spotty dressing gown and rose-spotted pyjamas. I offered to paint spots on her face but she declined as now she is in Year 2 she is “too old for face-painting”. They were raising money at school through a cake sale so I gave my daughter £10 to buy a couple of cakes and then all the change to be put in the pot for children in need. After 2 calls from the teacher and the headmaster, apparently my daughter had lost the £10 note somewhere between her wallet and the cake stall. I checked the bus company just in case it had fallen in the school bus trip. However the headmaster then rang to say he located the £10 note on someone else because he found it surprising that a child should be clutching a £10 note for a cake sale. Apparently my daughter gave it to a friend (and then forgot she had done so) because the friend said she would give her change when she wanted to buy a cake. All very suspect and don’t know quite where the teachers were to help out with the change situation on the stall. The Headteacher made me feel bad for sending £10 in (well I didnt have any change and besides whats so wrong with buying some cakes and donating the rest to charity – surely a good lesson for a child to learn?). My daughter then came home at the end of the day disappointed with no cakes and the £10 note still intact when I intended it to go to Children in Need. Quite how the school managed to raise any money is beyond me – what’s the point of wearing pyjamas if there is no fee to wear them – where is the fundraising element?

Right, now that’s off my chest… are the spots I have managed to spot:

Spots have always been quite fashionable (apart from the acne variety) In the fifties they donned jive dresses and bow ties. This fashion was also found on tableware of the polka dotted variety – Cath Kidston, Laura Ashley and Boden are some of the household names that use spots in their designs. Galleries selling art-work use spots to mark sold pictures. Twister is a popular game that uses spots. Pirates look for spots marked X. My daughter and son enjoy reading the Spot the Dog books. Easter eggs are often decorated with spots, particuraly the Cadburys Smarties variety. Spots are often used as wayfinders in large shops and supermarkets. Spots are often spray-painted on trees to mark them for felling. Some famous people are known as ‘Spot’: the dog (as mentioned before); a chicken character in the 101 Dalmatians series; the name of a pet cat in Star Trek, the next generation; a pet dragon in The Munsters; A pet dog in the Dick and Jane books: the name of the 7up mascot; the name of one of George W Bush’s dogs. Spot is an acronym of Sex Pistols on Tour and the name of a music festival held in Denmark. You find spots in various hotspots. Before google used balloons to mark spots on a map, people used old style Michelin sponsored paper maps to mark spots across the UK. Spot is New Zealand slang for one hundred dollars. USS Spot was an American submarine used in World War 2. The single point of truth (SPOT) is a term used in software engineering to reduce chances of duplication; it is also the name of an airport security technique ‘screening passengers by observation techniques’. Monkeys, birds, fish and butterflys are often given special names for either the presence of spots or for their lack of spots. Finally, Spotland does exist… Rochdale, Greater Manchester. Oh forgot to mention Mr Blobby.

Pyjamas – term originally derived from the Persian word Peyjama meaning ‘leg garment’ and was incorporated into the English language during the British Raj period (1858). This is an excerpt from Wikipedia:

In January 2012, Michael Williams, a commissioner in Caddo Parish, Louisiana, proposed an ordinance prohibiting people from wearing pajamas in public. Caddo Parish already has a law against wearing sagging pants below the waist, but Williams is pushing for a law against pajama pants after seeing a group of young men wearing loose fitting pajama pants that were about to show their private parts. According to Williams, “The moral fiber in our community is dwindling. If not now, when? Because it’s pajama pants today, next it will be underwear tomorrow.”

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The average person does not exist

Dare you to define an average person? I used to think it quite easy to box people up into their little categories but having had a few jobs working with the Great British public (I cant speak for other countries) we are all fruit loops in slightly different ways – the royal family especially included.

Everyone has a story to tell and every now and again you meet people that stand out like a sore thumb for various different reasons – but that is what makes them so interesting.

I met such a person the other day at work. He is a slightly overweight Liverpudlian covered in tats. He has bizarrely shaped facial hair and flip down shades on his specs. He his also an author and quite a good one, with several novels under his belt, a few that have been turned into films. His writing style is unique – like a really pissed off and foul mouthed Virginia Woolf using a similar stream of consciousness style. His topics lean towards the poorer end of the social class spectrum and his prose often makes you flinch but it feels real because of that. He teaches creative writing in prisons, some of the inmates no doubt inspiration for his characters. He says that characters come to him as words in his head rather than faces when writing a story and that is what gives his work depth.

I like him because he is approachable, not remotely up his arse and different because of who he is and what he writes about. He comes from a shitty neighbourhood so the odds were stacked against him from the outset to write good and do well but he did. If he was in music he would probably make a good rapper – I’m sure Eminem would enjoy his verse – but I don’t believe Liverpudlians and rap go well together….can you imagine the Beatles rapping?

I am writing every day for Unicef in the hope that some kind soul will spare £1 when they read this blog. If you are that person, please check out my Unicef fundraising site. Tomorrow, I will be writing for BBC Children in Need. This year shcoolchildren around the country will be donning their pyjamas in school with a ‘spotty’ theme and eating lots of cupcakes to raise money (my daughter included). I offered to join in but she said she would be too embarrassed if I turned up to the bus stop in my PJs – so instead I will wear something spotty and my blog topic tomorrow will be about spots and pyjamas with a link to the Children in Need website for those bloggers who can lend their support. I haven’t the foggiest what I will find to write about spots and PJs but I will give it a fair crack of the whip – I will need to think laterally that’s for sure.

Thanks for reading.