Thursday, 24 June 2010

Love is Like a Butterfly - sometimes you just can't catch the bastard

Flopped like a bag of oranges back from the Natural History Museum - where I sigh with dreamy delight even before I get up the steps and spend as much time fondling the walls as I do appreciating the exhibits.

But today we had butterflies.

Big fuckers too.

Worth getting really sweaty for. Really really sweaty. We were fluttering our Butterfly Explorers passports more than the damned insects were fluttering their delightful wings I'm telling you. But in England that's a rare treat so I flapped with relish.

Simple pleasures. Heat, pretty things and happy pointing children.

Also skidded round the dinosaurs at top speed - with my tour guide familiarity voice piping out -      'Alligator skin!    Troodon and oviraptor!    Iguanodon thumb spike!    Maiasaura nest!   Buggy!    Toilets!    Yes you do!'   before doubling back in rampage style to bundle into The Deep.    Very dark, The Deep.    From the Sunlight Zone - to the Twilight Zone - to the Midnight Zone...... Managed to lose 3 out of 4 children in there.   Result!

(And then the nice tourist guide turns into a neck-vein-pulsing horror film tree-monster in the shop. Why do people make fluffy octopuses/octopi anyway?)

Well - we got out eventually. Now had 3 kids. Still missing 1. She's down the road at the Science Museum by now. Boys and I didn't have enough puff to get much further than the bag checker. Decided 3 exhibitions in 1 museum was enough for 1 day. Sorry Stephenson's Rocket. Sorry Space toys. Sorry V & A Quilts. 4 kids, 1 tube and 2 trains was entertainment enough.

But back at Base Camp they still had enough energy to spend another 6 hours rampaging around my prone carcas in the garden. I was ready for bed at 7.30. (Although obviously had to look up all the cool books we'd seen in the NH Museum shop on Amazon. And then there's them e-mails......... Mmmmmmmn - blooooogggss.............. )

But enough.    Bed.    Pop-Up Butterflies book.    Cuddles.    Pretending to be asleep so that they'll go to sleep.

And sure enough.........zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.    Me that is.

But next day - there I am with my Spotters Guide to Butterflies in my paws saying 'Ooh!' alot.    The kids have moved on.    Butterflies was SO yesterday.

Minx is busy cropping and working on a photograph taken of her best friend and her boyfriend-to-be like a true Pap. Monkey Boy can do 9 steps when he's standing on his hands. Rock Godling does indeed put pasta and cheese in a paper bag for later. And Thuglet will now poo in our toilet.

Noone cares about little white eggs under a nettle leaf.

Life is fluttering by. No time to lose. Come on Mum. Time to fly.

======= W H O O O O O O O S S S H H H H ! ! ! ! ! ! =======

'Love you!!!'

'Yeah yeah. Where's the crisps?'

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Phew!!! and Hhmmmphhh!!! in equal measure

I've done it. Made it through another football club trophy family fun day. And noone died.

Nobody grabbed me and demanded an explanation for Monkey Boy's damaged trophy we graciously (scurriedly) returned. Someone else's name is now engraved on that. Outwardly I congratulated them with a warm smile. Inwardly I was cartwheeling. If my crap mending falls off - it's YOUR name on the plate buddy! I'm so mature. I'm 43. That poor proud boy is 9.

Had a slight worry when they were handing out the Under 7s medals though. The last medal had been lifted and presented and my little Rock Godling was still sitting there - bald-necked. Being the assertive and rock-solid Parent of Awe that I am, I thought 'I'll put me phone camera away then' - but then, like the Great Stupendo, the coach seemed to pull one last medal out from his sleeve and I re-raised my phone in slo-mo maternal joy - only it had skipped to alarm clock mode and while I was looking at that all befuddled, little RG had sat back down in his chair and I'd missed his grand moment. Ah well. It's not too hard to fathom why that damn phone has a great crack across the fascia. It's been hurled more often than a dodgy curry. Still, the boys had fun, we have 2 more medals to add to the tally, and we even had a genuine excuse to scarper before I felt the need for violence thanks to Minx's pre-organised 'cup of tea at Nanny and Grandad's'. There's no need to mention that this evasive tactic involved driving 45 minutes further away in the opposite direction to our house - it got me out of the Village of Hairshirt Hypocrisy without any arguments.


This pathetic little calendar scribble of a day for anyone else was a crippling clasp around my throat ever since the first text appeared. It was one of those 'this time last year events' that really try one's strength of character. Only it was really a 'this time last year was a this time LAST year' kind of a deal. This time 2 years ago was a bad time. This time last year was actually fine but the anniversary was stressful. So how long do I tear my eyelashes out at each re-run of each 'bad' time of year? There are so many sad events over the course of anyone's life and the following year's anniversaries will automatically bring emotions to the fore - but to get your stomach knotted up at these dates year after year is exhausting. It is inevitable I suppose - but the big events that were truly out of my control don't seem to hold the same vice-like grip as the shitty one's that I feel I should have seen coming. Stupid really. But maybe as each of these little boils are burst it may ease each year. As usual I just want the big magic wand to wave all my silly obstacles away.

I think this probably calls for something known as growing up. SO not ready for that!

To make up for this I would just like to share with you my first outraged 'Hhmmphhhh!!!' I've had with my usual reply to the 'No school today?' inquisition. As a rule I flip back with a 'Nah we don't bother with that' to which this time I added 'It's over-rated'. This particular shop keeper lady performed a perfect panto dame-esque back-turning and off-flouncing manouevre that would have Biggins begging for Drama Queen tips. I'm sure it was designed to make me feel small but I am so childish it just made me want to hug myself with delight, singing to myself 'We pissed a grownup o-off! We pissed a grownup o-off!'

How my children manage to get through life without dialing Child-Line is a wonder.

Having said that, seeing a friend's daughter today at the football thing - same 'school age' as my Minx - looking so pale and small and barely capable of saying 'hello' to me without obvious panic/distain just reaffirms my cheer at our Home Ed choice. Minx used to be as pale and dour. Then we set her free. She looked like a wild Amazon in comparison. Dressed bonkers, dyed hair, smiley and yes - communicative! Even with adults - gasp! Ended up running the drinks stall. (As long as they don't actually check the float against the cans distributed we'll be OK.) These 2 chalk and cheese girls used to be inseparable at school. They seem worlds apart now. Maybe Little Flower will suddenly blossom - I'm sure she will. But it just reminds me of those bygone stony grey days of school drop-off and pick-up time. It took all the 'summer holidays' time after we left school for good for Minx to thaw out those years ago. It was like someone breathed life and colour back into her frame. I remember saying to Mr GPants at the time 'We've got our daughter back!' I also remember saying this to Little Flower's mum. She said she felt the same about her girl by the end of the summer break. I think I left the conversation there.

I love the fact that the boys ask 'What are we doing tomorrow?'

I love the fact that they genuinely don't know what lies ahead.

And they're happy.

Even if the answer is 'You know - that art workshop thing'.

They're already thinking how they can turn the day to their advantage. And Rock G'ling can again wear the same filthy 'skulls on fire' top and splattered tracky bottoms he's worn in and out of bed for the last 3 days. I may still have to find socks - but they needn't match and we don't have to leave the house til midday. There's still some semi-eaten biscuits in the tin and Daddy's left-over choc chip brioche from his Father's Day Tesco's dash stash so I don't even have to make breakfast. Or get out of bed before 10.00 with any luck. Why on earth would I ever reconsider sending my beautiful savages to school?

It's worth every 'Hhmmmphhh!!!' we get.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Lazy Sunday Afternoon.......... yes I must book one of those

SKY Sports Super Sunday News Roundup

On the Pitch:

Monkey Boy's team crashed out of the Quarter Finals in penalty shoot out drama.

But the boys dun good. Coming back from an early defeat with an unbreakable team spirit. Sort of. Obviously a solid right midfield. Keeper let an easy one in. (Not listening Not listening Not listening......)

On the Ice:

Minx back on the podium with a 3rd place.

Cross about her parallel but flung herself into the rest of the afternoon's flower flinging with great aplomb. Enough glitter hairspray in the atmosphere to mummify John Barrowman. Cheers and tears in equal bursts. Gorgeous girls all gathering to cuddle and 'awww' each other as results posted up. No bitchin' - disappointments hugged and lollipopped until everybody happy again. Really wonderful bunch.

Mummy cried, hid her red nose in her coffee cup and clapped lots. Lots and lots and lots. And swapped more over-the-boot-tights technology tips with fellow sequin shepherds. This is very important stuff.

Daddy slept in the car, or listened to the Grand Prix.

Back at Training Camp:

Nanny dished out the sweeties. Grandad mowed the lawn.

Little Rock Godling and Thuglet swung and flung golf clubs at each reappearing golf ball until each was once again hedge-bound. Then, at full-time headed back indoors and unearthed record-breaking numbers of previously undiscovered dinosaur body parts and arranged them for a detailed inspection across the freshly tidied bedroom.

And that's the end of another week of sporting highlights from the Scene of the Crime. The week ahead will bring arty endeavours to the fore. Monkey boy had already expressed his disdain. Minx has shrugged. The other two don't know what day it is. Mummy is full of enthusiasm which WILL bloody rub off. And is, in truth, looking forward to Thursday - her clutch control foot's day off.

Close my eyes and drift away........

But not too far. Don't tell anyone but I kind of like my kids.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Tie Me To The Mast

Right. I'm cured.

England are crap.

Shan't get excited again.

For the one good moment in the match, Gerrard's GOAL, ITV HD managed to blip off and showed us a shiny car instead. Hopefully the fuckwit responsible was taken out and hung by his pants on an active pylon . Green's schoolboy fumbling fingers act however was shown a thousand times over. Because we all needed that forever burned into our heads.

What have I become? A moaning football blogger? Shoot me now!!!

And so I shall go back in time to my wilderness years - when I pretended that only boys liked stupid old football and found it funny when England always promised so much, suckered the poor lambs in and then gobbed on their dreams. I used to skip about the house during a penalty shoot out. I used to chuckle at the back pages. I was a most superior being. And had no wrinkles. And no lucky shirt.

And then it started calling again some years ago..... some familiar and welcoming sound drawing me back. I'd walked away YEARS ago. I'd left home - no more Grandstand all day Saturday and curtains drawn every big match. I was a free spirit. What WAS this compulsion to turn back and re-enter the fray?

Was is soppy nostalgia? Maybe hunkering down in front of Match of the Day was a weird across-the-worlds communication with my Dad? I started listening out for Charlton's scores every Saturday after he died and added their well-being to my portfolio of personal responsibilities. But would still list Chelsea first. Why? Was I still 7 years old? Was this a regression or an adulty opening up of acknowledgement for what was truly my inheritance? Eurghhh....

Or did I just like hanging out with the boys down the pub? (Was it simply my tightest shirt?)

All this is like SO not cool. I'm a tired wheezing old pants-folder now. What do I need this crap for? If I want to be regularly disappointed I just look in the mirror. I've grown out of glossy magazines - tried to buy one for my traditional birthday treat the other day and found them ALL so dull. I am very rarely impressed with films these days - give it 10 minutes and switch off if it doesn't grab me. Unshockable in front of the MTV naked grinding videos at the ice rink. Implacable in the face of other people's children's achievements. Even my famous twitchin' eyebrow doesn't raise at the sight of 10 Downing Street. I am above such cheap distractions. My god I can even do family occasions without hiding in the toilets these days. Surely I can rise above the Bloody World Cup!

But it kind of IS life and death. Football. It was the soundtrack of my childhood. It was important to the males in my family and so it held an entrance to their world. My Mum may have called me in from the garden one sunny afternoon to sit me down in front of Rita Hayworth in Cover Girl - a crucial moment in my cultural history, and educated me in the ways of Busby Berkely, Judy Garland, Fred and Ginger etc, but football was the background hum of the house. It seeps in. I still watch Hollywood musicals (and watch them - still - ie not moving a muscle) with a great big smile. I watch football with a scowl, with continental gestures, with overblown language and flying cushions. Life and death.

And that diary of matches that coincide with your own events just weaves it into your own personal tapestry ever more. I mean I have to listen out for West Ham's results now too after my brother died. Another personal responsibility. I take each defeat as an insult to his memory. I still haven't actually forgiven them for losing the FA Cup Final 4 years ago - I knew he was watching and couldn't believe they didn't make the extra effort. That was the last FA Cup Final he ever saw - and it couldv'e been HIS team lifting the trophy! Useless bastards! But if they just got themselves back up there I imagined life itself would get less shit. This is how football gets you. This is why so many men devote themselves to it. It's for their old Dad. They get to rant and scream about stuff and call the world a wanker and noone thinks it's not British. And if 'we' won!!!??? Well - old Dad is 'up there' happy - and that's a better religion than most.

The last World Cup Final was a weird one to be sure. It was the day Thuglet was born, and the day my brother died. A very odd sort of day. We still watched the match tho'. What else was there to do? Less dramatic reactions perhaps. We'll be on holiday this year when the final takes place. Which is probably a very good thing. A different scene. Cushion throwing back on the menu. (Dammit I said I wasn't going to get excited again!) Although it's usually a more civilized spectator scene than the early rounds seeing as how England won't be playing. Don't gasp at my lack of faith. I told you I'm cured!

Now my Monkey Boy's at a football tournament this morning. Set off with his Dad bright and early. No slo-mo hero shots coming out of the tunnel - more of a scramble with a clip round the ear trying to skid out of the gates, but I bet Rusthall FC (Tunbridge Wells) will have more sparkle and fizz than South Africa. They sell Refreshers at the club house. And noone there would dare chant 'eez a cunt, eez a cunt, the referee's a cunt'. At least not after I was asked to leave at Langton Green's Football Fiesta last month. And this afternoon it's back to the rink for their End of Seasons competition - Minx in action in all her pink and black shimmery glory.

This is the real stuff. Where the spectators look at their watches every few minutes and tell the competitors to stop being silly in front of their friends.

Real sport.

Kids having a laugh.

My heroes.

Friday, 11 June 2010

And Blow!

Another week dun gone. A couple more lakes of diesel dun guzzled. Another mountain range of chips dun wolfed. A smattering more of bruises..... A scattering more of brain cells..... And a battering more of my bleedin' overdraft.

We had recovered from the previous weekend's family birthday and silver wedding anniversary shenanigans, applied ourselves to last weekend's family golden wedding anniversary and birthday bonanza, and will be sleeping off this weekend's family birthday bananas amid a crumbling houseful of neglected jobs in a state of ThankFuckForThatness. The next one's at least 2 weeks away. Time to breathe. Into a paper bag if necessary. And I'm sure we can summon enough teeth-flashing for Father's Day without too much effort - it's turn-on/turn-offable nowadays. Just need to pace ourselves through a reasonable July ready for the marathon August onslaught. Our Month of Candle-Blowing Supreme. Asthma inhalers at the ready. We get the 2nd off, a couple of days free after the 9th, another few flares followed by a little break until near the end and then, come September we're home and dry. Just a civilized 1 or 2 a month again until the spring - when my teeth's antennae again start twitching in fear of the approaching icing avalanche.

Now I know I'm extremely grumpy but I just don't 'get' birthdays. Especially my own. I have to feign enthusiasm for my children's. Outside of that intimate circle I look upon anyone openly celebrating their birthday to be highly inconsiderate. What's the big idea? Why drag me into it? Surely all this melting wax could be put to better use?

There's obviously some deep-rooted psychological warp that makes me this way. People actually seem to get cross when they discover that my birthday has slipped by and they didn't know. Huh? Get happy people - one less fingernail trapped under sellotape to worry about. Having said that I'm not saying a nice stiff envelope with my Mum's handwriting on it doesn't please. It always arrives a day early (to make sure) and I usually wait for The Day to open it. Not this year though. Why be a hypocrite? There's money in there and as I've already spent it I'd better 'replace' that cash with this stuff so now we can get chips. Sorted.

Ungrateful brat that I am at least I try not to inflict it on anyone else. Minx's birthday however lasts for weeks. The build-up alone is exhausting. The execution relentless. And the after shocks last until it's Xmas (ie - September). Bless her.

But which is normal? Or which is healthier? I would probably be desperately worried if Minx behaved like me - why doesn't my precious baby want to celebrate being born??? Which would explain MY mother's retort a couple of years ago to my dismissal of mine 'Well I want to celebrate it - I WAS there after all!' (Guess my back-hand verbal volley). But on the flip I will be quite happy when she's old enough to wander down the pub with her mates without my Super-Mum input (albeit clutching the contents of a shredded pink envelope).

But all in all I can still find time to count my blessings - after all it's NOT bloody Xmas and I CAN keep it under wraps if I choose and noone's singing about babies in the middle of the shopping centre.

And I did get some nice presents. Including the book that 'Whip It' - my Roller Derby fantasy life - was based on.

Ordered it myself.

(What kind of fucked-up psyche is that?)

Feel bad now - Mr GPants bestowed many delights and presented a roast dinner on our crash-landing. And cake was distributed around the park by my friend acting on a tip-off. And all the kids genuinely seemed to want me to be happy - which I am - honestly. And I am touched by all this. And appreciative. I am.

I simply don't like fuss. I don't think it's a self-loathing or lack of worth complex or a fear of getting older. I just can't really see the big deal.

Now, much more worthwhile - but no less stressful - is the England v USA match tomorrow night. That WILL require carefully planned catering (crisps) and diary-clearing (thankfully no bleedin' birthdays) and serious butterflies-in-the-tummy build-up control measures. How now in an alchohol-free house? Mr GPants will opt for golf therapy. I shall have to resort to folding and sock-pairing. I expect there to be much car-washing and lawn-mowing and bottle-recycling throughout the land tomorrow afternoon as the nation prepares for 90 minutes of gut-crunching tension. And will it all be worth it?

Will it fuck?

And will we saddos do it all over again for the next one?

Of course.

Something over-hyped and guaranteed to disappoint time and time again. Everyone gather round. Turn out the lights. And all together now sing........ 'Three lions on a shirt.........' Now make a wish.

I feel sick as a parrot already.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

A Whole New World

My golden-skinned explorer Mr GPants is back from his adventures in the desert. Back from his misadventures on the seas (ie in the seas). Back from trying to take portraits of wilting children in 45 degree temperatures. De-steamed his large manly lens and evacuated the aeroplane food once and for all (I hope). He is now ready to focus on our finding somewhere else to live - and I sense that Dubai is no longer on the list - at least not in June/July/August/September. And we do have to live somewhere in June/July/August/September. But he has still 'had enough of this country', our grim winters, and what wiv the government stealing any money you do manage to make........(ad infin....) He has an intrepid spirit. A traveller's soul. A love of the exotic. A hunger for the sun. A yearning for culture.

Last night he clambers into bed all perky, apologises for taking so long but he's been looking at properties on the 'puter and announces in an enthusiastic tone: 'Maybe we should move to a totally different area.'

I could have pretended to be asleep. But relief that he's finally showing an active interest in moving and a spark of curiosity for his latest burst of inspiration make me peek out from the duvet:

'Like where?'