Search This Blog

Total Pageviews

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

What the Psychic had to say to me

I entered the dining room where readings were being held. I noticed the pixie like quality of the lady's face and also how she was trying to get her pasta salad eaten, make notes from the previous reading and welcome me all at the same time. Something very likeable about her.
I shuffled the tarot cards and she laid them out. I cannot recall for definite the order in which she told me things but can remember most of what she said I think.
She noticed that two of my children were very different from each other and that one was a real individual. Now I know mums are biased but I think all my children are very individual but I suspect she was talking about the thug on small legs. He is the one that we could suspect was swapped at birth as he is confident, rowdy, sport - all the things his parents and siblings struggle with. He was also huge at birth at a mighty 11 pounds and 8 ounces. Everyone in the hospital came to see this enormous delivery so he was a celebrity from the start. He is also very keen on performing and as my singer brother says he has a pitch perfect voice, we expect him to be on the stage and probably a Robbie Williams type personality to boot. I know he will get into scrapes and survive intact - he is just that sort of kid and I expect to have many telephone calls to get him out of trouble, pay bail money or whatever as he gets older. Maybe I am psychic?
Later, she was adamant that I have 3 children in all and will have no more. Full marks for that on both counts lol! She said that I was not bringing them up in a normal way and that sometimes as children that would be difficult for them as they would be different from other children. However, she reassured me that things would work out and they would benefit as they got older and escaped the tormenters in the school yard.
She went on to my relationship with my husband saying we are not always good at communicating with each other. She put this down to me having deep passions and him being very different. She tried to think of a word to describe him and I had to bite my tongue to not say "anal" but in the end she said he would be good at science and computing. Again, true and I have always had a deep suspicion of scientists and people who treat computers as if they are human beings. They say opposites attract lol. She advised that my husband will never understand me which I found very reassuring as now I can stop putting all that effort in to making him get me. Now, he can just get on with loving me whilst thinking I am totally bonkers too. Maybe that is what he likes best about me.
She said I was a giver sometimes to my own detriment. That I would listen and support others but find it hard to seek support myself and cry in my room alone. Again, spot on and demonstrated after the reading as I sat in the garden weeping quietly to myself but ensuring (or trying to Krystal!) that nobody noticed. I am like my late Mum I think - she would break her back to help others close or farther away but push aside all attempts to comfort her. And if you want to know all about the woman that was my Mum, my blogs from April and May last year cover some of her life and times.
She mentioned baking - something that connects me to Mum again. I love baking finding it a really almost spiritual experience. She said how I like to cook from scratch and that also is true.
She mentioned money saying that although I am not in a crisis I could do better with money and use some of my skills to make more. She said I was creative and that she felt my future lay in writing and probably writing articles initially.
At this point, she stated that Mum was with me standing next to me on my right hand side. She said she was with her Mum and was healthy now although she had not been at the end. Well, Mum was always beautiful and sparkly eyed but was devestated by the cruel ravages of cancer. Nice to think of her being out of all that distress and humiliation and being with her Mum who she adored.
The lady said that Mum and others in the spirit world from my family wanted me to write because some of them had tried and had not been able to achieve their ambitions due to era or circumstances. She seemed fixed on a great-grandma who had written in longhand. I found this very powerful as if my writing is actually a sort of sacred quest to put things right for a forbear. I do intend to look into this and see if I can identify the woman and her story. Complex as I have many great grandmas as I am an adopted person so it depends whether it is a birth relative or in my adoptive family. But as my birth name was Joyce, who knows? Maybe me and James Joyce have a connection - have to admit I have always wondered.
She also said that I have plenty of time left and should stop thinking that death is imminent for me. This was powerful stuff as I have only shared those thoughts with my husband. Since Mum died, I have felt very threatened by my own mortality and concerned that I do not have enough time to achieve anything worthwhile now.
She acknowledged that it is hard not to converse with Mum now but also that she is still here just not in the same way.
I think those were the major points of the reading. I did ask a specific question about my step-children. For their sakes, I won't reveal exactly what she said but again, it was very helpful and let me off the hook a bit too.
If I can release myself from all the things I brood on and worry about, those creative juices can flow.
I am determined to approach publications this week about the potential of writing articles. Might not get anywhere but the guarantee is I do nowt, I won't get owt so here's to taking action and, hey, the spirits are on my side!

Psychic Night - part two

Just after I arrived at Marigold's show home, along came the other Stanningley wives. They came en masse in a people carrier, minibus or similar. They are terrifying enough in small groups but when around 7 turn up, Dolores has no idea who to speak to first, what to say, blah blah. Quieten negative self-talk and follow them into the kitchen marvelling at clean floors and surfaces. How do they do it? Am I missing some vital gene or summat?
Marigold suggests we go into the garden and it is a relief to do so after a long hot day. We draw up chairs and plonk down our plonk. Lots of chatter and mild hysteria as people draw lots as to who will go for their reading with the psychic first.
Krystal playing Dolly Parton in the film 9-5 goes in to take notes for Winifred. Apparently this does not go down so well with the psychic. Odd that she did not see it coming lol!
We can see the reading taking place through the french windows and we speculate as to what might be being said. Lots of people are having readings tonight so I hold back till towards the end, still a little nervous.
So the ladies that lunch come out from their readings. Fertility in the group seems to be high as several new babies are predicted. Some look more pleased than others at this news. I just hope to god that she does not see another child for me and wonder how the hell these women are still managing to have sex. Not only are children one of the best known contraceptives known to womankind but with their hectic Stanningley Wives social whirl, these ladies never see their husband and partners!
By now the drink is flowing and their is much hilarity discussing topics such as careers (prostitution coming up as a family-friendly option), children's habits and also Mummy habits (really Marigold!). I feel more comfy than usual in the group. Perhaps I am starting to fit in and become part of things. I find myself delivering some one-liners that make people laugh and that is satisfying and makes me feel I do contribute something. I particularly enjoy getting to know Tallulah a bit better after lots of virtual rather than real-time contact. Sense a kindred spirit.
Krystal is parked opposite me so still not time or space to find out what makes her tick. Queenie is telling stories and laughing in that infectious way. Marigold is clearly worrying too much that the evening is going OK for everyone and rushes around supplying food and drink, trying to keep everyone happy. Lucinda impresses me again by saying really pertinent or amusing things whenever she opens her mouth. Feel sorry for Lorna who is the driver so less alcohol-induced than the rest of us. Enjoy seeing the friendships between these women, some now very close and lovely to see.
I go in for my reading and when I come out there is a lovely glass of something waiting for me. Told it is champagne and by now, so long as it continues to alcohol theme, Dolores is happy. Still sort of wish this lot did not know I went to Cambridge University as they make weird assumptions like that I might be intelligent or know a lot of thing. So I am asked as the "educated one" what a poinsetta is. I get the answer right - must write to Cambridge and tell that that I have finally proved that my 3 years there pays dividends at least in the botany department!
Suddenly, there is a realisation of time and the minibus mob take off leaving me embarrassed to be the last Stanningley wife standing. Taxi gets booked but by someone else so they phone them to say it is there and I miss the call and it takes hours for my taxi to collect me. The plus side for me and probably the downside for Marigold is that is gave us time for a one on one talk. Nice to get to know here better and she does seem such a very genuine person. Hard to believe I am nearly her Mum's age though - should have had my children sooner perhaps but that is me all over. Left sex too late, left parenting too late, left marriage too late, left bestselling novel too late. But then the psychic sort of had something to say on all those counts..... (see part three coming to a blog near you soon!)
Arrive home around 2am I think and stay up till 5am with my husband and a certain Jamaican!
Suddenly have a bit of a life back and it feels great

Monday, 24 May 2010

Psychic Night - there was somebody there!

I woke up on Saturday thinking that I had made a mistake in agreeing to attend a Psychic Night with the mummy friends. For weeks, I had was excited about it and now I was having second thoughts. I suppose part of that was that my Mum died last year and I really wanted some sort of message or guidance from her and reassurance that all is well and she is ok now.
All day, I bleated on to my long-suffering husband that I probably wouldn't go and if I did I would not stay long and perhaps not have a reading.
Husband was allowed to escape to the supermarket at some point to source new sandals for me and also the traditional bottle of plonk. Bring a bottle. I wonder what we would ask our mummy friends to bring if we were open and honest with each other - a brain, a good sense of humour, listening skills or something else? What are we all looking for from the group? I imagine answers would differ quite a lot. Back to the bottle - husband asked me what colour I wanted and I said orange or purple which confused him a bit as he was asking about the wine whereas I was focussed on my sandals. It is very easy to find shoewear so rivetting when your errant puppy has eaten through yours so you are housebound for lack of shoes!
Generous husband came with several sandals to choose from and also a bottle of decent wine. He dropped me off but I was not totally sure of the address I was going to. I do this all the time instead of planning things properly. Arrived at the house he thought it would be and then I panicked that it might not be at which point he made the sensible suggestion that perhaps I should knock on the door and find out. Scary, scary! At which point, Marigold the hostess with the mostest opened the door with that lovely smiley face of hers. A very warm welcome and much appreciated by the shrinking Dolores. Greeted Marigold's mum and the psychic lady and clung to my glass of wine. Some people have bags of social confidence. I tend to rely on glasses!
Part Two of this evening follows shortly once I have attended to the increasingly loud demands of what the psychic referred to as a a very individual child. I can think of stronger words!

Friday, 21 May 2010

Trinity Hall, Cambridge

When I got my O-Level results, my Head of Year told me I had "an outside chance" of getting into Oxbridge. He told me I would have to work very hard in Sixth Form to get the right sort of A-Level results to get in and that I might have to face being unpopular with my peers.
I knew immediately that I wanted to apply and I knew that for me, Cambridge was the only choice for me. Years earlier, Dad had made sure that I saw both Oxford and Cambridge - I wonder if he was planting a seed even then. I say this as both visits to these cities were made on the way back from somewhere else and taking us many miles out of the direct route home. I remember sitting in a really dark restaurant called Fagin's in Cambridge as a child and then marvelling on arriving at Cambridge as an undergraduate that it was still there.
After a few weeks of night-clubbing in the Lower Sixth, my Mum sat me down and told me that I would have to apply myself if I was serious about getting into Cambridge. She was at pains to stress that if I worked on the pick and mix in Woolies it would be fine by her but that she honestly believed it would never be enough for me.
So in Sixth Form, I worked very hard and got the required results. My peers did not turn on me at all as I remember. When I got my results, I remember them all hugging me and being genuinely pleased for me. I was the first person from my school to get into Oxbridge and what an achievement for my Mum and Dad who had both left school in their early teens, Mum to become a weaver in a mill and Dad to a variety of jobs before joining the Royal Navy.
The Summer period was very tense at home with me terrified of leaving and my parents probably even more worried about how I would cope away from home. I had only done one sleepover with a friend in my life and was very shy. My brother decided it was best for everyone to take me on a long holiday to France to distract me and I am grateful still for such grown-up thinking. He gave me a lovely time seeing most of France, teaching me about wine and good food and perhaps most importantly, telling me of his times at the Royal Northern College of Music emphasizing all the fun I would have at college.
It was a sunny day in October when Mum and Dad drove me down to Trinity Hall, Cambridge to start a wonderful three years there. Why had I chosen Trinity Hall? Partly because it was known as the "lawyers' college" and I wanted to do Law and partly because it looked pretty and was on the River Cam. I do remember the alternative student prospectus saying that "the ducks were nice" and that just seemed so human and down to earth. Human and down to earth I could do - then and now!
We stopped off for a picnic lunch on the way and it just felt like a normal day out with my parents. That was until Dad pulled out the Good University Guide to reassure me that Cambridge was actually a good one! The second half of the journey went quicker and suddenly we were in the city itself with Mum and Dad arguing about how to get to college. As I recall, you have to break road traffic laws to get to where you need to be. Dad as an ex-policeman was quite comfy with this idea and Mum less so.
We arrived at the Porters' Lodge and got the keys to my room on N Staircase. I remember being thrilled that my name was on the sign outside all in white calligraphy on a black board. It made it all seem very real.
Mum and Dad made their goodbyes and I was feeling OK until Mum turned back to say there was some pork pie left from the picnic if I wanted it for my tea. At that point, I almost screamed at her and sent her on her way so she would not see my floods of tears. Years later, I heard how she had cried all the way home.
We shared bathrooms between 4 rooms and I bumped into Paula as we both wanted the loo at the same time. In the first days of Cambridge, you ask each other similar questions. What subject are you doing? What school do you come from? What staircase are you on? It turned out Paula and I were both from comprehensive schools in the North, both the first from our families to go to university and both reading Law. From this, we established a friendship that remains to this day. I used to cling to Paula and she used to hate that sometimes as she had an independent streak and liked to do her own things whether going to church, rowing or doing karate. On the first night, I irritated her by saying I had not been invited to anything whereas she had. Actually, I had just not found my pigeonhole (well, to be honest, I did not know what one was) which was stuffed with the same Fresher event invitations that she had already collected. We went to a first night disco I think and I think they put on the Madonna film Desperately Seeking Susan for us too. Like Milly Molly Mandy, I managed to make a fool of myself by getting locked in a toilet. Coming out, I met Rachel who also became a firm friend. Yes, most of my best friends have a toilet connection lol.
I went to bed that first night just delighted that I had actually spoken to anyone and ready to face the next exciting day. Now as an older and hopefully wiser person, I am so appreciative that my parents had the generosity to let me try Cambridge when it must have been so daunting for them and they must have questioned whether they were doing the right thing or not. Well, that one is easy to answer. I had a brilliant time and in a way, afterwards, nothing ever quite measures up to it. I would not have missed it for the world.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Mum wasn't always easy

This post is not easy for me to write. It feels disloyal but I think writing it will help.
My mum died in September 2009 after a long tussle with cancer. When she was diagnosed, there was a period where I gave her a saint-like status thinking only of all the good things she had done, the hard life she had faced, the achievements she could be proud of.
Of course, like my guru Freddie Mercury once said "We are all a mixture of good and bad".
Mum was an amazing woman and if you read my posts from February 2009 until April 2009 (don't worry - there aren't many of them), you will see that I had a fabulous mother.
However, nobody could wound me as powerfully as Mum and I spent a lifetime trying to gain her approval. My brother once said that Mum was really good with very young children giving them magical moments and I believe that is true. However, once you started challenging her (something all children have to do at some point in order to grow up and break free), she was so very difficult. Even when I was quite small, if I displeased her, she would not talk to me sometimes for days at a time. There were slaps and smacks but I am not going to overplay those as it was the sixties and seventies when different childcare standards applied. No, it was the emotional stuff she could lay on me that I think have impacted adversely on my life. You see, I have never quite been good enough.
Growing up, I used to feel I should be grateful she had adopted me. Later, I realised that although there is no doubt I benefitted from a secure and stable upbringing and lots of love, she adopted me at least partly to fulfil her own needs and desires for a daughter. She wanted to give me all the things she did not have in the poverty-stricken thirties. It was not her fault that I was the sort of girl who wasn't interested in pretty dresses and thought bras, handbags and make-up were a complete waste of time and effort. She tried as a older mum to be so "right on". She held a tea-party when I got my first period and telephoned all my relatives to share the news of me "becoming a woman".She wanted to put me on the contraceptive pill when I turned 16 which was ridiculous as it would take me well over a decade after that to lose the big V.
So we battled and over the years, I became intent on making her proud one day. I did really well at school flying through examinations. The other children said I found it easy. I would say I found it easier but I still worked hard for those certificates. I did not go on sleepovers preferring to be at home with my head in a book or at the library taking research that bit further.
When I went to get my A-Level results, Dad took the day off work so he got the news from me first that I had got enough grades to get into Cambridge University. Mum was at the hairdressers and turned up much later. With an adult head on, I think she was so stressed about the whole thing that she booked an appointment as a distraction. When I told her the news, she burst into tears and was so happy. It must have been so overwhelming for her having left school at 13 to go and work in the mill. She had earned her Grammar School place but could not go as her brother took the King's Shilling so there was no money for her to go. Maybe, in her heart of hearts, she resented my success or the fact things were made so easy for me. She would say poignantly that to live in a place like Cambridge, she would clean and clean and clean. I knew, although I don't think she ever did, that she was bright enough for Cambridge - she was just unfortunate in being born in the wrong era, into the wrong circumstances.
I loved my time at Cambridge and it was hard balancing the two parts of my life which were so different. Working-class Dewsbury does not share much with the rarefied atmosphere of Cambridge. I came home talking a bit posh despite not wanting to do so. Cambridge was my everything and I wonder how much that might have hurt Mum and Dad who dutifully delivered me there every 8 weeks and handed over cheques to me that they could probably ill afford.
When my 21st birthday came round, I did like all the other students did and had a party at college. Mum threw a fit that she was not invited but it was a student party for god's sake. She saw it as me rejecting or being ashamed of her. She was the mistress of the long silence and the hard-faced meaningful looks. When I knew I had passed or whatever they call it when you know you are going to be handed a degree in a couple of weeks, I invited my best friend from school down to celebrate. Mum reacted to this news by telling me she would not attend my Graduation Day. This was totally devestating and it is only down to the efforts of two very good friends that I turned up for the day at all. Needless to say, Mum was down the road in a hotel getting ready in her specially bought outfit whilst I was going through agonies. She turned up fashionably late but there as if all was forgiven. Realistically, she would not have missed such a huge event for anything but that day is forever slightly marred by her antics and harsh words beforehand.
When I left Cambridge and later turned my back on any idea of a legal career, I think things were easier for Mum. She could cope with me having a "normal" job in Carlisle so we had many great weekends there together. I had a feeling she felt like she had got her little girl back.
But then 3 years later, I had the audacity to get a boyfriend and things got very rocky again ...

Monday, 17 May 2010

Remembering our wedding day 2 years ago today

Today is our 2nd wedding anniversary. Apparently, we are to buy each other paper or cotton gifts but right now, both of us are still to do so. As my husband says, being together is enough for him. As he rarely says romantic things, this is lovely to hear.
We married after ten years together. We had talked of it pretty much from the start of our relationship but I kept getting pregnant and having babies. I was determined not to walk down any aisle with a bump but realistically, by the time I did get wed, my tummy was huge anyway with no pregnancy to use as an excuse.
We got married in 2008 for a variety of reasons. One big one was that we felt if we did not do it now, we never would. Also my mum had been seriously ill the year before and it does focus the mind as to what matters. Finally, my oldest son wanted us to have the same surname as him which is a combination of both our original surnames.
We planned every detail of the wedding ourselves trying to steer clear of those package weddings that you go to where apart from the couple involved, everything is so samey. We could not get married in church as my husband was divorced. However, we were delighted to find that York Registry Office had a lovely church-like wedding room with pleasant gardens for photographs afterwards.
My mum was amazing as she did not interfere apart from offering to get a cake done for us. We would not have bothered but on the day I was glad we did when I saw a simple and elegant cake with a bride and groom on top. Dad paid for my flowers but gave me free rein on what I chose. I selected a very vibrant hand-held posy with oranges and purples. The girls attending the event were given sparkly wands with roses on. Button-holes were in red as my groom, best man and pageboy were wearing cream suits. Mum had a corsage and said she wanted it to be very fancy and so it was.
The night before the wedding, my partner and 7 year old son and best man had their stag do in a local hotel room. They stayed overnight and at one point had to come back to collect the orders of ceremony to take to the venue the next day. Partner and I took this opportunity to have a very late-night last minute consummation of our living in sin before we became official the next day.
I woke early the next day and went for my hair and make-up doing. I had already had a trial so was happy with what they were doing and very relaxed in their capable hands. My hair was put up and I had a flower in it rather than a tiara. My make up was subtle and the lady who did it said it brought out my Irish features.
I returned home where my babysitter and videographer rolled into one was looking after my excited 2 year old son and 4 year old daughter. I dressed my 2 year old thug on small legs in his cream suit and he looked stunning, like a tiny gangster. My 4 year old was in a lovely crimson bridesmaid's dress acquired very cheaply at the Designer Outlet in Hornsea.
At this point the babysitter handed my son over to my husband so that he would not see me before the ceremony itself.
I got ready but shock, horror, my wedding dress did not fit. Yes, I know I should have checked that before the morning of the wedding but those who know me will tell you this is fairly typical chaotic behaviour for me. Fortunately, I had 6 dresses to choose from having had a lovely few months ordering them from ebay. The dress that did not fit was a compromise as I knew Mum would love it. So I was secretly delighted when it did not fit and I could put my first choice on which was a detailed embroidered gold bodice with a simple skirt. The finishing touch which my husband and mum said made the outfit was a stole for over my shoulders.
As I was strutting round in my hold-up stocking and bridal bra, my Dad turned up and brought me a garter to add to the proceedings. I will never forget that moment and being incredibly touched by it. I got ready and suddenly it was time to go the Registry Office.
I was really concerned that Dad would not know how to find it but my partner had given me a trial run the day before so I was able to guide Dad and we arrived safely and on time. Dad had put white ribbon on his car and I felt like pinching myself. As an older bride, it felt lovely to be finally having my Big Day. Also to have my lovely 4 year old daughter with me and dad for the ride.
My brother opened the car door as we parked in the special spot in front of the Registry Office reserved for brides. He said the three things I needed to hear, one that I looked beautiful and two that all the guests were in place and finally my partner had turned up!
I sat nervously in the foyer with Dad insisting on taking my photograph. I sent my daughter to her Dad in the ceremony room wanting to gather my thoughts. The Registrar took us into a side-room and explained what would happen and what we should say during the wedding service. I heard the strains of Pachebel and was standing outside the ceremony room ready to go. What happened next?

Saturday, 15 May 2010

The ectasy and the agony of the soft play centre

Personally, I am not the greatest fan of soft play centres. Most of them are torture venues with most of the space signed over to brightly-coloured cushion things for children to bounce on like lunatics. I can't help thinking children would be better off playing in the fresh air and making up their own games, building dens and so on. Or maybe if I am totally honest, I just hate sitting for hours on end in cramped areas buying over-priced refreshments whilst my eardrums get shattered. Plus as someone with a fairly fixed disdain for those of the male species, I despair of forty year old daddies trying to look cool as they throw themselves down slides invented for children. One saving grace is that although soft play centres are frequented by yummy mummies who must have had elective caesareans and a tummy tuck, they are also regularly visited by slummy mummies with baggy T-shirts and huge post-baby tummies. I fall into the latter category and am always relieved to see that I am now the only one who chose to enjoy the hospital food rather than do my post-labour exercises to get a super flat belly and stupendous pelvic floor muscles. Call me strange but I would feel really silly standing at the bus-stop pretending to hold a pee and let's face it, post 3 babies, you are usually actually trying to stop weeing most of the time and don't have to pretend at all!
In my valiant attempts to make new friends, I have started attending the local soft play centre. I must admit this is better than most in that there is plenty of seating for adults, good and affordable refreshements and a clear designation between the adult and the kiddy areas. As well as a good meeting point, it is also somewhere I could happily go and curl up with a good book whilst my thug on small legs rampages to his heart's content.
Yesterday, I went to meet a mum who responded to my lonely hearts advert on Netmums. I have met her once before and we seem to get on well. Getting on well in my land means that I feel confident enough to speak and hold a conversation. I don't know why I struggle to do so but in a large group, I seem to hide my dazzling wit really well and bore people rigid. Anyway, less of the negative self-talk and on with the blog. Ingrid is a really nice lady, very bright, works for the local authority and clearly finds parenting a mix of joy and challenge just like me. She is slim too but feels able to look at the disaster zone that is me. So things are looking good and I am meeting her next week for an adults-only trip to the theatre.
Major panic yesterday was that having arranged to meet her, the Netmums group also decided to hold a meet at the same place. How would I manage this? What is the etiquette is such situations. Oh my, oh my or in my case more like oh shit, oh shit!
When I arrived Ingrid gave me a wave and Krystal from Netmums came up to talk to me at the coffee counter. Ingrid was sitting at the table next to Krystal and Lucinda so I hoped it did not look too horrendously rude when I sat down with Ingrid. Now, my brain is saying all you have to do Kate is introduce these people but then I panic as the Netmums group is now an exclusive group and maybe that would not be the right thing to do at all and what if Ingrid wants to meet me on a one-to-one and not in a group and what is she turns out to be a Tory when the others are anti-Tory. Meanwhile, I pin a smile on my face and keep talking. About two hours later and a good two hours, Ingrid leaves with her children Michael and Emily for a lunch date.
By now the Netmums group has around 6 mummies and associated children and they have moved to a larger table. I sit there trying to look unfazed and again trying to work out whether I will look like a real cheeky bitch if I now go and sit with them. Louisa takes pity on me very kindly and invites me over. I spend a hour with them more listening than talking but at least included and that has to be a good thing and a big move forward for me. Try and say vaguely sensible or amusing things and have a lovely interlude playing with Betsy, Krystal's lovely baby girl who is sporting a Gucci number in pink with white spots. At this point, the thug on small legs that is my son turns up and throws a fit that I have had the audacity to move tables without a consultation exercise with him. He comes round with a cuddle and a sit on my knee.
We make our farewells and head for the charity shop for a bit of light relief before the school run. We buy "essentials" such as a bright pink sleeping bag and a V-Tech toy. Several attempts on the tombola with my son doing his usual and winning on nearly every tickets so we return home laden with shortbread biscuits, cuddly animals and the Holy Grail.
A good day all in all. Life is beginning not at 40 but at 41 and there is life in the old girl yet and more to come.
Thanks to all the wonderful women who are giving me a chance and making me welcome

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Other Half's Birthday

Today is my husband's birthday. Needless to say, he is much older than me but not a sugar daddy regrettably. Birthdays are a fraught topic with him as he does not really buy into celebrating them at all. I have to stage-manage my own to get him to take any notice of it and it is usually my 9 year old who takes him shopping and picks the right sort of gifts for me. So most years, I end up thinking that I will treat his indifferently and see how he feels but I always relent as I like a good excuse to shop and to party. Don't get me wrong. He would let me have anything I want but I sort of have to spell it out in words of one syllable for him to get the message. Like most women, I want spontaneity and to be swept off my feet from time to time.
I don't take it personally (well, not that often) as his daughters from his first marriage regaled me with how he would give them cash or vouchers for Christmas and then wonder why they were displeased with him. He genuinely does not get it.
I woke up this morning and actually forgot it was his birthday. I remembered within about 10 minutes but that's a bit bad of me, isn't it? Of course, it bothered him not a jot. We gave him his cards and pressies. I know he loved his books because they are right up his street being about all things aviation but enthusing he just not do. He thinks "sound" is a good word to express delights of orgasmic proportions! Myself and my family are probably over the top expressively but hey, at least we know how to live a little.
However, these days I have a secret weapon in the shape of my 6 year old daughter. She loves to party and will use an excuse to put out the banners, balloons and fancy table-cloths. So tonight whether Mr Grumpy likes it or not, we will be jelly and ice-creaming it with the best of them. Happy Birthday Darling and don't worry, it only lasts for a day!

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Making music

In my continuing attempt to get a life ( I used to have one by the way but it never came out of the Maternity Ward with me), I started going to a singing class for little ones. Held in a local church not far from where I live, it provided a useful point in the week where my son and I could go and still be back in time for the school run.
Usually, around 10 mums would attend with children varying in age from newborn babies to 4 year old thugs on small legs (The latter being my lovely son).
At first Cassie who was a real-life music teacher led the class complete with proper song books with words and pictures in. Later, on her return to work after Maternity Leave, Ivy the Netmums Organiser was left holding the babies and riotous older kids.
The class took the same format every week which I always found reassuring. Firstly, we would sing the usual nursery rhymes from "My Little Teapot" to the "Grand Old Duke of York" marching the older children into a frenzy and back again. My fave bit was when the instruments came out partly as I could hide my terrible singing voice behind the racket and partly because I enjoyed how my son would always choose the drum. This says heaps about his full-on personality.
Juice and biscuits would be served with my son complaining vociferously if he got anything but the blue cup.
My son is very excitable so would often either pull my T-shirt down as if he was offering my boobs up to the assembled babies or jump on my back with his 5 stones of 4 year old weight.
The babies would lie down, sit or crawl kicking their legs in time to the music and looking amazingly content considering the quality of the concert they were subjected to.
Another highlight was when the river arrived, this being a large blue piece of cloth accompanied by a green cuddly frog. Now, this frog had a life of its own I am sure. The children and parents would bounce it in one direction and it would fly off in another. Personally, I always thought this frog was running the class.
The next game involved hiding the children's body parts one by one under the blue cloth. Toes, knees, tummies, chins and then the whole thing. Huge hilarity when they were "found" by the mummies.
After Ring a Ring a Roses and the Okey Cokey and after those of us with older children trying to negotiate a swap, we would say goodbye and get on with the rest of our lives. For me, this would mean a wander round the charity shops and a visit to Munchies. Always felt better for having the courage to attend and to do something positive. Over time, I noticed two things. Firstly, having not sung and certainly not taken part in the dancing, I got more comfortable thanks to the support of the other mums. Support can be given in very quiet ways and as I can be so standoffish through shyness, this was brilliant for me. Secondly, the songs came together better as time went on becoming sweeter. I asked my brother who is a professional (Covent Garden etc don't you know?!) singer and he said this always happens in choirs too. Fascinating.
Music Class has now come to and end. I will miss it and thank all those involved in it for adding a little something that was simple but actually also quite fundamental in getting me and my son out and about again.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

My Dad

I visited my dad at the weekend for a couple of days. After Mum's death, I think we had a period as a family where everyone was trying to work out what to do and say. How would we cope without our Director of Operations? Eight months later and things become a little clearer.
I am talking one on one with my Dad more these days. When I was a little girl, we used to wash up together and talk in this way. Or we would go up the park to walk the dog and share our news and views.
What can I say about my Dad? It would be so easy to underestimate Dad as he is to some extent a quiet man who speaks when there is something to say. When I was little, I saw him as my Dad and the one who went out to work to support us. I remember he used to give Mum housekeeping money and how he would treat her to magazines once a week. I used to devour the problem pages of Woman and Women's Own, constantly seeking then as now for wisdom and the meaning of life.
When I was a teenager, I did work experience with a solicitors' firm in Bradford. Suddenly, I realised what high regard Dad was held by senior lawyers and professionals in the city. They spoke of a sharp business brain - this was perhaps the first time that I realised Dad never blew his own trumpet even though he has plenty of cause to for a life well lived.
My Dad served in the Royal Navy during and after World War Two. Unlike his colleagues who would go on drunken rampages, Dad would ensure that he took full advantage of going to new countries, immersing himself in the culture and learning about the ways in which other people lived their lives. He spent eleven years in the Police Force in the Forties and Fifties when community policing was a very real concept. With a rebellious streak that I have only recently learned of, he walked out on the police with no job to go to when he sensed unfair treatment. With no retail experience, he bought a shop and along with mum, made a huge success of it. They did not have childcare for their young sons and this means that they worked around them with my brothers having vivid and amusing memories of that time. He also turned his hand to driving instruction when times were tight to bring in some extra pennies.
Mum and Dad adopted me in 1970 by which time Dad was working in insurance. At the weekend, Dad suddenly said to me "You know, I was the age you were when I lost my Mum". I had known that his mother had died about one month after I arrived at their home. And to my shame, I had never before put my mind to how difficult a time that must have been for him. After two years trying to find a baby to adopt, they had their little girl. However, how sad, that his Mum should die just after I arrived. There must have been some very bittersweet moments for him.
So, I realise day by day, that I am still uncovering elements of who my Dad is. My husband went out for a pint with him and told me that Dad was telling him of how he did some karaoke in the Nineties to amuse older people at a community centre. Dad has won prizes for photography and taught himself to paint and then did a course to improve his standards. He is a good singer and sings in a male voice choir. One of his claims to fame is that he once performed at the Royal Albert Hall. I suppose what I am trying to get across is that because Mum was such a full-on character, she was often my focus. It is lovely to get to know Dad better and to return to how we were before I went off to university in 1987. He is doing OK still telling me when washing up to "watch that knife, it's sharp" and still laughing although weeping for Mum still too. As he tickles my 4 year old at the weekend, I sense a continuation - memories made all the time carrying us forward and strengthening us for the future.