Sunday, 28 November 2010

What I've Loved This Week....

... is planning. The plan for moving 2 houses into space currently occupied by 1 quite average sized one is continuing apace. Cupboards have been emptied, the contents have been packed into boxes and transported. The boxes have then been unpacked, moved around, reviewed and left in piles. Some of them have been put in alphabetical order.

A bizarre game of musical cupboards has taken place. The contents danced round until the music stopped and each time one of them was left out. Some cups and saucers lost and are sitting on the dining table.

Most importantly of all, the kitchen drawer has been emptied.

Don't pretend you don't know what I mean. We all have one. It's the drawer where you put things until you need them or until you find their matching bit or when you're tidying away in a hurry. In there, I have found the following:-
  • one umbrella cover (umbrella lost approx 6 years ago)
  • one eighth birthday candle (son now 12)
  • several allen keys (flatpack furniture still holding, mainly)
  • one mobile phone charger (phone no longer used)
  • one bottle of Tippex
  • one tube of glue
  • approx 23 loose batteries
  • one bank card (approx 6 years out of date)
  • several store cards (some of the shops now under adminstration)
  • one as yet unidentified object (appears to be something technical, like a bolt thing, with a washer on it. Clearly important and being kept until it's true potential is realised)
I'll be honest, unless the other half was moving in, this drawer and it's entertainment value would have been undiscovered for some time yet. You see, I knew there was an upside!

I'm kidding of course. I can't wait until he's all moved in.

And I'd have done the drawer when I needed a battery for the remote.

But go on, you can tell me. What's in your kitchen drawer? I promise, it's just between you and me.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

The Enigma File

When I think wishfully about what I'd like to be, on those days where I'd like to be Audrey Hepburn or a famous writer or French or live in a lighthouse, I like to think of myself as an enigma too. Unfortunately nothing could be further from the truth in many ways. I'm a people pleaser, I like people to like me, but I try to be honest with a hefty dose of kindness. I don't take criticism very well - actually that's not true, I take it very well, straight to my heart and keep it there as a tormenting hot water bottle. I always have a sarcastic quip or a funny comment.

However, I'm an enigma about rules. I work best within them, I'm not a natural rule breaker, in fact I'm a bit of a scaredy cat. However, occasionally I just want to break them. Which is what I'm doing. I set my own rules about the blog, I'd post on certain days and about certain things and then this weekend I thought stuff that for a game of soldiers, I don't want to do that anymore.

So I won't.

Instead it's going to be like a little surprise every time you get here. You won't know if it's going to be misery or fun, celebrating or moaning, interesting or dull. I expect you're quite often disappointed anyway, especially about the interesting.

The one constant thing I will try to do is let you know which blogs I'm really enjoying. There are some truly fantastic ones out there and none of us have a hope of keeping track of all of them and I'd like to think we can share the love a bit, like in the old days. Do you hear that my lovely Lola? Just like the old days.

I do have one serious thing to say though. I'm so touched by all your lovely message of support and kindness on my post about my multiple sclerosis. It makes me incredibly proud that people have stopped to leave a comment who have never been here before, and overwhelmed too that my new "blogfriends" have taken time out to stop by. I hope you'll continue to read, and to laugh and cry along with me.

For now though, I'm off to be a French Audrey Hepburn and go and get some writing done in my lighthouse.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

All Change

I've spoken before about the fact my house is on the market. Other half's has been on the market too but after a thorough review of our going forward strategy (ie 3 bits of scruffy paper with barely distinguishable numbers on), we decided we'd advertise to rent his house out. Up on the lettings market it goes, one couple come to look round last week, and another family on Monday. Nothing heard from the first couple, the family like the kitchen, love the bathroom, happy with the rental asking price and can they move in on the 1st December?

Well then. Right. OK.

This is going to require a feat of logistical genius so enormous and so daring, you would weep with the planning. Not to mention the fact that at least one half of this intrepid couple gets stressy when she can't immediately remember where an earring is. So what we've got to do is merge the 2 households into one household. Right Mr or Mrs Maths Genius, how many times does 2 into 1 go? Yep, that's right.

Examples of conversations this week:-

"Well you can't bring that crap"

"You're going to have to get rid of some of this shit"

"If you can't make 2 small shelves work for you, that's not my problem."

"Will they have to go in alphabetical order?"

"What do you mean your iron's better than mine?"

"I'm just going to dump it."

"Where are we going to put it? No really, where exactly? It won't fit. It won't. Not with the bed. Unless you open the door and climb STRAIGHT ON THE BED."

As you can see, it's a work in progress. I can't think of 2 people who'll handle it better.

And at least you're guaranteed a comedy blog for the next couple of weeks.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Speaking from the heart

Once in a while, I’ll indulge myself. I’m not a great one for wallowing, and I only occasionally feel sorry for myself. However I do think it’s important to be allowed the odd piece of self indulgence so here goes.

For those of you who don’t know already and didn’t read my previous blog, I suffer from multiple sclerosis. I don’t say “suffer from” lightly even though I have few, if any, outward symptoms. My particular flavour of MS is what’s described as “benign” which means I’ll rarely suffer any issues directly relating to MS. It is however, the most bizarre of illnesses. It’s dangerous to try and shoehorn any mundane little aches and pains into “Oh well, it’s because I’ve got MS” – that way lies madness. I can’t begin to tell you how many times since my diagnosis almost 12 months ago I’ve been tempted to do that.

I can only tell you about the things I know, the things I’ve experienced and the things I experience now. I'll do it to ease my mind and maybe yours too. I'll do it for a reader I might never know. In posts to come, I'll talk to you about treatment I may never need and symptoms I may never have. But do you know the biggest symptom I suffer from now?


We're all fearful at times, we feel afraid for our children, our partners, ourselves. I know I'm not the only one who's scared. But I can tell you I'm petrified of the time. I worry I won't have chance to fit everything in, to do all the things I want to do, see all the places I want to see. I'm afraid there isn't enough time left for me to love my child and my partner, there aren't enough days to show them how much I care.

I can feel the tick tock of an unremitting clock, and the relentless patter of grain upon grain of sand in an hourglass.

I won't die from MS, I'll die with it, but I don't know how many good years I'll have. There's no reason why I won't have as many as you, but MS has whispered gently in my ear, asking me how I feel today. Is it different to yesterday? Is that little niggle simply that?

Last week the tick tock was just a little bit louder, a little less easy to ignore. Now though it's quiet again, peaceful.

Until next time.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

This Week I've Loved...

... not really a great deal. I've felt out of sorts, a bit fed up, and down in equal measure and consequently the blogging's been all over the shop. I've not gone round and read all your lovely posts as I normally would, I couldn't get the stupid new phone to work properly, the laptop's had a bit of a wibble and I think my knees have entered old age with me tottering along behind at an ever increasing rate.

I'm meant to be on a diet, but I'm so hungry I could eat my own feet. I went out for a drink on Friday and was ridiculously drunk at such an early point in the evening it was like being 15 again. The house is still on the market and I'm thinking of selling raffle tickets to prospective viewers.

I know this mood will go soon, and I'll be the happy, snappy, clappy woman you all love, and I promise I'll be back on Tuesday with a proper blog but until then have a look at these people:-

This week I've loved blogs:- sometimes you know where you are with a blog. There will be blogs about children, about current events, crafts or photography. And some blogs are so delightfully random that you rock up on two consecutive days to find serious discussions about censorship and humourous ones about bed-wetting. It's one of the things which takes me back over and over again to see Heather in Lapland, and I really think you should pay her a visit. Especially now, as she's about to become very famous, and you can say that you knew her way back when if you go now.

I've also come across a blog this week which is new to me, and I can honestly say it contains one of the most movingly written posts I've ever read. I'm not going to make any other comment because I wouldn't be able to do it justice, but I think it would be lovely if you could go and put your arms round Brighton Mum.

It's over to you now my lovely people, come along and make me smile. What have you loved this week?

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Tomorrow’s World, Today

I consider myself to be quite a modern woman. Despite my hankering for a time gone by, I work full time. I have a computer at work, I also have a laptop at home which is mine. I have a mobile phone. I write a blog. I use Facebook sometimes and Twitter much more.

I’m reasonably well educated. Although I left school with only 2 O Levels, (there’s another story – remind me to tell you this one. I hope you’re keeping a note – this happens a lot), I subsequently went to college and achieved another 5 O Levels (or whatever they were called then) and 2 A levels as well. I decided then I was done with education for the time being but I’m now the proud holder of a 2:1 in English Literature from the Open University, and I’m even more proud the letters BA (Hons) can legitimately follow my name.

Some technology has me baffled though. A prime example is last weekend’s shopping trip to buy a new phone for the house. For some reason known only to the initiated, mine has decided to terminate all calls after about 10 minutes. At this point, the handset dies. I know it’s something to do with the battery, I do. It’s always charging up so it’s not like I leave it languishing about. Actually, I do, but not all the time, most of the time it’s on the unit. Anyway we decided we’d go out and buy a new phone, arrived at the shop, and stood aghast at the wide range of phones before us. We decided to adopt a sort of boardgame tactic, very much like Guess Who? We wanted it to be black – that rules out this chrome bunch here and a white one. I wanted one with normal sized buttons, not the ginormous buttoned one the other half had his eye on.

Then it came to the multiple handset ones, and this is how the conversation went…

Me:   How does it work when you've got more than 1 handset?
OH:   I think you just stick them in whatever room you want to.
Me:   And what then? I don't think we can have them. I haven't got a phone socket in the other rooms.
OH:   Don't need them.
Me:   You don't need them? How do they work then?
OH:  You just put them in the room. And they sort of work.
Me:   They just work? How does that happen? Do you need to plug them in somewhere?
OH:   Don't think so.
Me:   Is there a battery bit? Do they run off batteries?

                  I tipped it upside down. There's no battery bit.

Me:   There's no battery bit.
OH:   Well you probably just have to plug them into the socket to charge. Then they ring.
Me:   They ring just because you've plugged them in? That can't be right! The kettle doesn't ring...

It carried on like this for sometime despite the intervention of a sales assistant who even now is probably crying on the shoulder of her psychotherapist. Until I saw the magic word:-

Me:   Oh look! It says they're digital! That's why it works!
OH:   So does that mean you understand it now?
Me:    Not really. But if it says digital, I can say it's that.

But do you know what would have helped even more than seeing the magical "digital" word?

Taking my 12 year old to the shop with us. God help us when we have to do something by ourselves.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

What I've Loved This Week....

... is old friends. Not of the geriatric variety although we're all of an age that's closer to cocoa than cocaine, and we're more likely to be found in a grubby little local than Whisky Mist (or wherever it is that the young beautiful people hang out.) I don't often get the opportunity to see them much any more - we're all busy people with families and hobbies and work getting in the way, so it's fabulous to see them on an ad hoc evening when a few of us are out and we can reminisce and talk nonsense to our heart's content. And we did. There was drinking, chatting, talk of children, drinking, talk of old friends, anniversaries, drinking, boyfriends, work, drinking, Gunga Din, illness, drinking, crap husbands, holidays and the startling revelation that one of us thinks they're the reincarnation of Ruth Ellis.

It's all included in a night out with me. I don't charge extra for the hangover.

Now I'm recovered though, this is what else I've loved this week...

This week I've loved watching 500 Days of Summer. Oh my goodness, there's a proper film. For a starter, the other half liked it and not just because of the eye candy. It has a great soundtrack (ie it has The Smiths in it), it's a bit of an anti love story, although it's a lovely happy ending (ish), and it doesn't star Jennifer Aniston. I've nothing against the woman per se, but you know what? Have a rest love.

This week I've loved messing about with the blog. I've changed the background, I've messed with the wallpaper, I've fiddled with the side bits and I've tried to understand what an RSS feed is. I've had varying degrees of success as you can see, and I'm still not entirely sure what an RSS feed is, but it seems as though they magically happen and I have one. Why, I don't know, and I'm not sure what to do with it either, but I'm very proud of it. Probably I'll lose it or I'll receive a bill for a million pounds but until then, it's one challenge safely ticked off. Next target:- work out what on earth Google Page Rank means and climb Mount Everest wearing just my pyjamas and my fluffy slippers. Not sure which comes first.

This week I've loved blogs. There are so many great ones and I'm coming across new ones all the time, but I still have my old favourites too. I don't mean geriatric in this case either, I mean a very dear blogging friend who I've "known" since my early days - the altogether too talented Crystal Jigsaw. She's not only a great writer (fiction and blogging), a great mum (read about the Tooth Fairy without filling up and you're a tougher woman than me), a very hard working farmer's wife and a great supporter of blogs - she also (if we're very lucky) posts pictures of puppies. Have a mooch through and you'll see what I mean - tell her I sent you. A blog that's relatively new to me is the fabulous Oh Mammy - for the foodies amongst us, there are some lovely recipes and photos (blogging makes me hungry), she'll tell you all about parenting, she'll share her views in a forthright fashion I adore, and she'll give us all a better understanding of autism. Please go and pay her a visit if you aren't already - I'm sure she'll love to see you!

So what have you loved this week?

Saturday, 6 November 2010

The One Where I'm a Mum

I think we've all got our own views on school uniform. When I was at primary/junior school I didn't have to wear a uniform at all. As I was there during the 70s, unfortunately this meant purple trousers, pink tops, hand me downs from neighbours, tank tops and hand knitted jumpers and cardigans courtesy of my mum. If it hadn't been for the late years consisting of gypsy tops and skirts I'd have begged for a school uniform. Just so I didn't look like a complete twit who was always slightly out of step with what the other girls wore, and sometimes adrift by five years or more.

Which is a lot when you're only eight.

When I went to comprehensive school there was a compulsory school uniform which, during my first year, consisted of a dark brown skirt, gold blouse, dark brown v-necked jumper, brown and gold striped tie and a dark brown blazer.

I looked not unlike a Werthers Original.

I've had my colours analysed subsequently - I'm a Winter. Do you know what colours are good for a Winter? Red - crimson and scarlet. Purple. Dark green - emerald and jade. Do you know what colours are bad for a Winter? My entire school uniform.

Still I knew my son wouldn't have this problem when he went to senior school last year. Firstly he doesn't have my colouring, and secondly because his uniform was a very simple black, white and grey. How can anyone possibly go wrong with that I thought? And it seems as though I was partly right - he doesn't have any trouble at all. When I see his friends they all seem to look reasonably OK. Well as OK as boys look - a bit rumpled, with a bit of mud on them, slightly untucked and with the tie all askew or hanging out of their pockets. Fairly standard.

So what is it with girls and school uniforms? When I read in the paper this week about all the kerfuffle at a school in Bristol I was shocked. Apparently this school has found it necessary to ban a certain make of trousers as they're too revealing, too distracting and too figure-hugging. Also the school have found it appropriate to comment that they don't suit all body shapes.

Well no sh*t Sherlock.

I've had a look at these trousers, and I can sort of see what they mean. They're incredibly nice to look at and I can see how girls of a certain age will be all over them. They'll be able to look really fashionable, they'll feel cool and they won't feel like they're wearing a uniform at all which is I suppose the ultimate aim. But the school has decided that these trousers are banned and are giving the children spare trousers when they arrive in them.

Beg pardon?

In my day, if you rocked up to school in trainers instead of shoes, you were sent home and no messing. Nobody stood at the school doors with spare pairs of shoes to hand out. How on earth can they possibly manage to do this? Do they buy the trousers in 8 different sizes? 3 different lengths? 20 pairs in each of those categories? Because unless they do, I can't see how they're improving on what they had before and the whole issue starts to take on the air of the forgotten PE kit debacle when you have mismatched socks, shorts that don't fit you, and a dirty boy's top.

So I really can't get my head round this at all. I've always thought a school uniform would level the playing field, that you ruled out the mickey taking of blouses that looked like they were made out of sofa covers. Instead it just seems to create a whole new load of problems - or is that only for girls?

So where do you stand on school uniform? Prefer the standard issue, or long for the striped trousers and flowery top freedom?

Thursday, 4 November 2010

A Sniff Back In Time

I was wandering round the supermarket a few days ago, probably looking for something like pinenuts or piccalilli as is my habit, I walked past a woman, and instantly it was 1987 again. Rather than having some sort of Back To The Future experience, or travelling in a Tardis (please note, I would love to travel in a Tardis), I'd walked past a woman who was wearing exactly the same perfume as my 19 year old self.

I've always had a bit of a nose for perfume - nothing linked to taste or sophistication, but simply being able to recognise it at first sniff. It gets much less easy nowadays, now everyone and his dog have their own signature scents, and I wouldn't know my Britney Spears from my Bobby Davro but in the olden days (which is how I refer to my youth) I was pretty spot on.

I wish I could remember the first perfume I wore but I can't. I suspect it was some Coty concoction that came in a gift pack with some talcum powder. I do however remember my mum's perfume - she wore Tabu, which I'd recognise now but it was probably discontinued around the time of all the kerfuffle in the Falklands. The first perfume I distinctly remember wearing was exactly the same as I smelled on this woman, and it was Ysatis. I first stumbled across it when one of my friends wore it and I adopted it from then on. There was of course quite some discussion about how it was actually pronounced - my friend pronounced it "whysattis", my mum went for the slightly more unusual "yistarzi" (I don't know either) and I went for "eesattees".

Still no matter how you say it, it's what it conjures up. For me, it was nights out with the girls, first dates, first jobs, falling over drunk, first heartbreak, random kisses, restaurant meals and a first wedding. And every single one of those images whizzed through my mind as though these were my last moments on earth.

I've tried other perfumes, I think it's probably quite rare to stay with the choice of your youth. I've worn Poison, Paloma Picasso, Loulou, Ghost and Beautiful, and countless others I've dabbled with inbetween, those that have slipped from my mind like a half remembered glimpse of a face you once knew. I've tried other perfumes, I've fallen over countless more times, had more random kisses and even another wedding.

I'm now almost exclusively a Chanel woman, not quite ready for No5 but building my way towards it with the baby steps of Coco. I'm a woman now, but the girl still lingers.

So come and tell me, what was your first perfume (or aftershave)? And what memories does it hold for you?

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Adoption - my story

You know I wouldn't normally write a post on a Wednesday, it doesn't fit in with my timetable. This could throw me out for a week, and I lay the blame firmly at Sally Whittle's door. I'm pootling round Twitter, innocent as you please, and I come across this post about adoption.

I was adopted in 1968, so slightly before the clearly youthful Sally, when I was about 8 weeks old. The first I knew about it was when my mum told me she's chosen me out of all the other babies and I was very special because of that because not many people could choose which baby they wanted. That was on my 5th birthday. Mine was an adoption through the local church society and because we lived in quite a small town, people tended to know about it. I remember quite vividly coming home from primary school in tears because one of the bigger girl's had told me my "old" mum was coming to get me back because my mum didn't want me any more.

Apart from that, I guess it wasn't so much of a big deal. I didn't spend a huge amount of time thinking about it but I always knew that my birth mum had written me a letter which my mum looked after for me. I didn't ask about it, or for it, until I was in my twenties. I had many fantasies of what my adoptive mum was like - I suspect lots of other adopted people do too. At first, I imagined she was a sort of princess who'd been forced to give up her baby and was desperately sad, living her royal life without me. Then I imagined she was a celebrity who hadn't been able to keep a much loved baby as she was too much in the public eye. Following that, I imagined she was some beautiful young artist type who hadn't been able to support me while she lived in a tiny little studio painting masterpieces and finally I guessed she was probably a young mum frightened out of her wits.

Not right with a single one of them.

I won't go into the details of just how far wrong I was as I believe it's important to preserve privacy for both of us. I left it until relatively recently to try and trace her, and with the help of an agency, found her in about 24 hours. We struck up a brief conversation over the phone, talked for a little time after that, but it quickly became clear I wasn't what she'd expected and she had no intention of trying to build a relationship with me. For Sally and myself, it was never about being chosen, it was about the not being chosen in the first place. And for me, it was about not being chosen twice. For a while that was hard to deal with.

But you know what? It's a little bit of a cliche, but you don't choose your family, you choose your friends. I have a partner and son who adore me, I have friends who love me, and acquaintances who like me because sometimes I make them laugh so much they cry. There are people here, on the internet, who read what I say because they like it. I'm a good person, and a happy person. Being adopted was neither the beginning or end of my story, it was a little tiny part of it that's had as much influence on me as the schools I attended, the people I've known and the work I've done.

We all have a story, but it's up to us to make the ending of it what we choose it to be.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Manners Maketh Man

At least I think they do, and it's my blog, so if you're coming at this from a different angle you're going to have to wait till the comments at the bottom. Don't go down there now, I haven't finished yet, I've barely started, come back and listen. Right then.

One of the things I love about my other half is not just his fabulous Kate Winslet impression (another story, another time), but his manners. He's one of the most courteous men you could ever wish to meet. He'll hold a door open for you, of course, but he'll also lean very slightly in front of you to push the door open for you as well. He'll always let you go first, and if at all possible he'll walk on the outside of the pavement. He'll carry shopping bags with barely a murmur, he'll pay when we go out for a meal unless I really, really fight, and he'll probably give away his last Rolo (actually I'm not too sure about the Rolo, he does love his chocolate, but you get my gist).

I think a lot of it might have to do with golf. He loves his golf, does my other half. Loves playing, loves watching. Probably dreams about it. I don't really understand golf, I don't play, but I try very hard to learn. At a push I could probably tell you the difference between a Texas Scramble and a greensome (if that's the right word) but I'd have to spend a long time thinking about it and probably need clues. But I'll never get the etiquette behind it. I don't really get why women have only recently been allowed in some clubhouses, and not at all in others, I don't understand why you can't wear jeans in there either, and I really can't get to grips with the need for pink trousers. The other half though talks about the etiquette behind golf, the manners, and the integrity and would never trust a man who cheated at golf. I think this sort of background has stood him in good stead, but is he in fact a bit of an anachronism?

On the bus the other day, the other half had stopped in the aisle to let a young woman get up and go in front of him to get off. As we both got off together, I mentioned to him how the girl must think he was a real sweetheart, and how kind he was. But he remarked that she probably thought he was just some old tosser who was holding up everyone else on the bus. I've tried to bring up my son with good manners, and hope that's still a useful attribute to have. He'll say please and thank you with the best of them, although he's not quite cracked the whole holding the door open business yet. He's also not quite got wat to say when someone thanks him for doing something. When you catch him on a good day, he'll do something wonderful, and you'll thank him, and he'll give you the most gorgeous smile and instead of saying "It's my pleasure" or "You're welcome" he'll say "Your pleasure".

And do you know what? He's absolutely right.