Come along for the ride!!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Obeying the letter of the law

As is always the case, the children managed to wake up yesterday morning far earlier than they do in the week. How do they do that?? How do their bodies know??

In a last ditch attempt to salvage some kind of lie in this morning, I had a "chat" with Annabel asking that surely she is "grown up" enough to get out of bed and go to the toilet, then get back into bed without waking one of us up to help her. I could see her little face staring at me as her brain processed what it was I was expecting her to do.

You see the psychology there?

Anyhoo, this is how things panned out this morning.

We were aware of her little footsteps pad into our bedroom this morning, before touching M on the arm and whispering, "Mama, I didn't wake you up to take me to the toilet", before leaving the bedroom and making her way back to her bed.

Bless her heart! She got it half right. Perhaps I didn't explain myself properly? To be fair, I didn't say "leave us well alone until we wake up". I just said she was big enough to go to the loo by herself. i guess she just wanted to share her good news.

And it was ten past seven so technically we'd already had a good lie in.


Friday, January 29, 2010

"I like a gi-i-irl who drinks ..."

I like to post here because (I like to think) it makes not only me mull things over, but you, the reader too.

My last post got me thinking way more than it probably should've done and, as much as I hate to repeat myself on my pages here, I am not gonna write anything original here (like I do anyway!), but ask you to re-read something that I've written before.

Joseph? Annabel?

Enjoy watching films, but remember; they're just films, they're just made up!

It's not real!!

Love who you are, not who you see in a film. You're better than they are!

Read here if you can be bothered.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

"Not everyone understands house music, it's a spiritual thing, a body thing ..."

They sure don't.

There are many defining moments in a man's life. There are the more obvious one's that occur as a young man and there are those which occur at the later stages in life, when one is a Dad, and you find out that your child couldn't give a stuff about your favourite genres of music.

Now, whether or not music plays, or has played, as much a part in your life as it has in mine, will determine how much you relate to this post, but write it I must.

This evening I was tinkering on the splinternet thingy-m'jigg, when Joseph ambles in, pulling the front of his pyjama top down to show me that he has indeed gotted changed, as requested not half an hour before. Unlike his sister, he is on the very brink of realising that the computer and the internet are two entirely different entities and he asked to look at "something" on the web. (Is doesn't take a crystal ball reader to know that he is merely delaying the going-to-bed process, but occasionally I am happy to play along with this).

Sometimes when I write, I like to do it in complete silence; other times, I prefer a bit of music in the background and tonight, I was lining up a few "toons" to loosen up to.

I tried some
Bob Marley, some Jackson 5, some Madonna & Timberlake, some Moby, not to mention some Sugarhill Gang, some Blondie, with a healthy dollop of Erik B and Rakim.

Obviously I was confident that at least one of these walks down musical memory lane would press Joseph's buttons but unfortunately that confidence was ill founded.

He asked me
for this instead.

We're looking into adoption agencies first thing tomorrow.

Well, I am!

Friday, January 22, 2010

"What a 42 carat plonker!"

It is said that you should never judge a person until you have walked a mile in their shoes. With this in mind, I owe the memory of Joan Mavis Trotter a sincere apology.

Like many others over the decades, I sat and listened to her son Derek, reminisce fondly about his “classy” mother, even though his shared memories were inadvertently painting an all too different picture of her for us, the viewer. She may very well have been the first woman on the Near Area estate to smoke menthol cigarettes but unfortunately, this alone does not an elegant woman make.

Similarly, when Trigger’s Aunt Renee explained to Del through euphemism how his mother used to “help” Freddie the Frog out after “befriending” him, Del’s insistence that “she would help anyone out - she was a very friendly woman, my Mum,” again, did nothing to change my less than glowing impression of her.

Jump forward 23 years to last Sunday and, after reading the programme blurb for Rock ‘n’ Chips, I sat down to watch with a certain amount of hesitation. Would this spoil all the incredible work the Trotters had done over the years in endearing themselves to the public? Would John Sullivan stand accused of dragging a national treasure through the dumpster for the sake of an hour and a half’s light entertainment?

Well, no actually, not in the slightest. I had thought I would watch the entire programme through a gap in my fingers; however, I very quickly warmed to all the characters and not only smiled at many of the references to days gone by, but was also treated to several ‘laugh out loud’ moments.

Finally, we were being presented with the chance to ‘meet’ characters who had died long before the first series ever made it on to our screens. And not only meet them, but be very impressed by them. How on earth do you emulate a young Del’ Boy after he was played brilliantly for so long, by David Jason? Well, hats off to James Buckley for not only carrying it off perfectly, but for not over-playing the part. In fact, everyone should be applauded for doing just that – no-one attempted to reinvent any of the individuals we all know here. Merely, they enhanced our understanding of those characters and life in Peckham in the 1960’s.

And so to my apology.

Far from being the tawdry, ‘befriender’ of men that her devoted son unwittingly portrayed her as, Joan Trotter in fact turned out to be an attractive, smart and savvy woman who worked tirelessly to support an abusive husband and her lazy father-in-law, all the while dealing with the unwanted attention and advances of her sleazy cinema boss. She handled the difficult cards life had dealt her with extreme dignity and courage.

Her brief romance with Freddie Robdal – which should ultimately be frowned upon (like her son Derek’s business activities) – was sensitively and affectionately done; she fully deserved the attention that Freddie gave to her. It is little wonder then that the child with her genes, turned out to be the kind, sensitive and considerate adult that Rodney turned out to be.

Very well done Kellie Bright. I’m sure Joan Trotter would have been delighted to have you play her as you did. You managed to inspire the same amount of affection for your character in 90 minutes as it took the male members of the Trotter clan many years.

Ok, 47.69 carats then.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

*no comment*

On extremely rare occasions, I have mentioned Jamie Bulger and Ken Bigley on these pages. I have mentioned them rarely because they are the two stories that have most disturbed me in my lifetime.

And now
this story.

I read it, then read it again.

Words fail me.

Monday, January 18, 2010

"Dedication, that's what you need ..."

Hey ho, the start of another week and I must mention one of the nicest starts to a week that I have had in quite some time.

But first, some history.

Rewind to last Monday morning and the whole school filed into the hall to be greeted not by the Head, as is usually the case, but by a VIT (very important teacher). She was taking the assembly due to the Head being indisposed. As the entire school filed into the hall, I heard some familiar music dancing out of the speakers. The VIT introduced the music as being from the "Canival of the Animals" by Camille Saint-Saëns.

The music was "The Swan", smooth, fluid, graceful.

The assembly came and went and as we filed out, she played "The Elephant", loud, heavy, pompous.

When everyone had gone, I hurried over to the CD player to listen to, quite possibly, one of my favourite pieces of classical music ever.

Fast forward to today and as the whole school settles down, the same VIT as last Monday introduces the same piece of music playing.

"Who can tell me what animal this might be about?" she asked.

Several suggestions were offered before someone hit the nail on the head.


"Aaah, yes. Fish. And what do fish sometimes live in?"

"An aquarium?"

Aaah, again, yes, an aquarium. And who d'you think had the music played in "his" honour today? None other than Yours Truly!

Yessir, the entrance music, The Aquarium, was for "Mr On A Bike" (ahem, not my real name), due to the fact that it is such a special piece for me.

After that, the rest of the day was guaranteed to be a good'un.

How was your Monday?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

"I ..... can't ..... breathe ..... "

It's like groundhog day, isn't it?

It doesn't matter what you do with your children, what you buy them, where you take them, whatever - you can be sure that a good night's sleep will effectively hit the reset button and the following day, it's like never did anything, bought anything, had anything nice to eat and so on.

"But we went to the cinema only yesterday. Then we went for something nice to eat".

"WHAT? That was yesterday!!!"

"Ok, so today we have to do a bit of tidying up together and then we can sit and play a game together".

"Tidy UP??? Oh ma-a-a-an!"

Ahem, yes, quite.

Ooh, I know - I think I'll go for a nice ride on my bike.

Like, right now!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

"All the single ladies, all the single ladies ..."

I occasionally mention the lovely, but mysterious, 'M' on these 'ere pages. I mention her just enough so as not to bore the reader, but enough so the aforementioned reader knows she exists, is real.

She is a wonderful person. Thoughtful, loving, generous and caring.

But today she did something that I'm not sure we can find our way back from. Something that I don't think can be forgotten easily. Something that all the quiet discussion, tears, honesty, can mend.

Under the guise of being, "for the children", she made me watch Alvin and the Chipmunks; the Squeakquel.

I guess one day we'll be able to discuss it, remember it, laugh about it.

One day.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

"One, two, sree, four, one, two, sree, four ... "

Looking back through some older posts, I am finding it difficult to believe it's been over a year since I wrote about trying to buy a piano (read here). Well, I say piano, but a work colleague of M's who's a pianist professional (at least, I think that's what she said), told me to consider a digital piano. They are cheaper to maintain and sound and look just as good, apparently.

Well, I found one. Actually, I found one some time ago, but something very special happened tonight that has prompted me to sit down and tell you about it.

Tonight Joseph and I had our very first piano lesson. If you took the time to read the link above, you will realise that playing the piano is something I have wanted to do for a very long time. The fact that Joseph is having his first lesson almost exactly 34 years earlier than I did was not lost on me.

Regardless, we were both excited and looking forward to the lesson. A work colleague put me in touch with a very friendly Russian chap who teaches both cello and piano at a very high level but was happy to take us on as students. His bread and butter, I guess you could say, but he was perfectly nice and very professional (offering his CRB form and driving licence so I would "know who I was dealing with").

An added bonus was that he came to our house (rather than us traipse to his) and this had the added advantage of being in familiar surroundings for Joseph. He had his half an hour (with me in the room) and I had my half an hour (with Joseph out of the room). I thought the guy was coming to an end with Joseph but I could see Joseph wanted to carry on. This was picked up on and, in his very strong Russian accent he said, "aah, I see a twinkle in your eye Joseph. you are enjoying it very much, is it right? Do you want to continue?" Of course, he did, so on they went.

I don't know what else to say other than it was bliss. All I learnt was where to find Middle C and D, crotchets, minims and semibreves, not to mention treble clefs!!!

After all this time, it was very satisfying to actually be reading music. Basic music undoubtedly but reading it nevertheless.

Look out
Yann. I'm comin' after ya!!!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

"Where everybody knows your name ..."

Have I given you my recipe for making chicken liver pâté before now?

I haven't?

*gasps exaggeratedly*

Good grief, I must give it to you. It's very easy to make, is absolutely delicious and did I mention that the recipe is appearing in this years school cook book?

(I know I didn't mention it; I just wanted to!!)

Anyway, I will give you the recipe another time. Suffice it to say that I made a batch this week, as my it was my Mum's birthday this week and her and my Dad were coming over for lunch; I figured it would make a pretty tasty starter.

And so, as the wine began to flow (only my Dad and myself were drinking), M and the Grandmother's went off with the children to ooh and aah over this and that. This left my Dad and me at the table, discussing ...... stuff. We began talking about wine (as you do) and he looked over at my depleted stocks of vino.

"Is that all you have left?" he asked, raising an eyebrow in my general direction.

As I started to answer him, he jumped out of his chair and reached up to look at a bottle which, at a guess, hasn't moved for about 3 years.

"Yes, but I try not to ...... " (too late), "move them too much". My shoulders fell forwards and he realised his mistake. He'd picked it half out of it's permanent hidey hole.

"Oops. Sorry about that", he offered, as he gently lowered it back to it's original position.

"Don't worry Dad", I replied. "Stirring up any sediment will only add to the eventual flavour, I'm sure" (Sarcasm is a good friend to me).
As much as I would have preferred him not to have moved that bottle, it did open my Dad up to telling me a terrific story, one that I can't believe I haven't heard before now.

Of course, this won't mean nearly as much to you as it does to me but for the sake of prosperity, I simply have to make a note.

Actually, apart from myself, I know there will be some old work friends of mine who now live in Australia and New Zealand, who will enjoy reading this. They don't actually know my father either but this story coupled with a previous tale I told them will once and for all seal the lid on them thinking my Dad is a vicious lunatic.

Nothing could be further from the truth, however.

Apparently, my parents went to a party thrown by one of my Dad's workmates, many, many moons ago. The host of the party happened to be a real ale fan and as such, had a cask of real ale on offer at the party. I'm not sure I've ever seen my Dad drink real ale but anyways, he decided to help himself to a pint from this revered keg. Whether or not he was doing something wrong he doesn't know; all he knows is he couldn't get anything to come out of the tap. And so, in his wisdom, he tipped the keg up at one end to help things along.

*Our survey said? Uh - uuhhhhhhhhh!!!*

To be fair, as far as sediment goes in a keg of real ale, I can sit here comfortably in front of my PC and say "now, I do not believe you wanted to do that".

At a party, however, I reckon I might just have been trying to get something out of the damn thing, as was my Dad. Anyway, out of nowhere, the partner of the host (who had supplied the ale), came over and whacked my Dad round the head for breaking the cardinal rule about disturbing a cask of ale.

HOWEVER, she wasn't aware about the even greater cardinal sin of NOT whacking my Dad round the head, whatever the reason!

Now, my Pop isn't a violent man. He is below average height. He is slim. Quietly spoken. Man, he doesn't like rude words, for crying out loud. This is not a violent man.

Regardless of this though, upon being clouted round the noggin and in his "fury" (his word, not mine), he ran to find the host of the par-tay, grabbed him round the throat with one hand and lifted him up against the wall of his own house, all the while undoubtedly spouting some nonsense about not liking his head being touched!!

Naturally, word spread like wildfire ("did you hear? So-and-so grabbed such-and-such by the throat. Had him up against the wall. Yeah, that's right, the placid fella!")

And that, apparently, is how every single one of my Dad's workmates over the years have come to give him the nickname "Boston" (short for Boston Strangler).

So there you have it. The next time you meet a bloke for the first time and he fits the description above, try giving him a firm smack around his head. If he attacks you, it's quite possible that it's my Dad.

Don't say I didn't warn you!

Cheers Pops. That was a funny story.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

A book review

I got you didn't I??

You thought I'd gone ultra lazy and was posting a second book review in a week!!!

Well, faithful reader, I am more than a little happy to inform you that you are in fact wrong. I am just taking the opportunity to let you know about one of the lovely cook books that sits 'pon my shelf of, erm .... cook books and tonight I cooked from it.

Let me think.

Freezing cold evening. Couple of plump chicken breasts waiting to for some justice to be dealt to them. What can I do??

Ooh, I know, curri-fy them, yes-s-s-s!!

And who do I turn to when I am considering adding a healthy sprinkling of garam masala to a kukkri dish? None other than the extremely photogenic Vicky Bhogal.

I'd knocked up a delicious (and more importantly, authentic) chicken curry in just over an hour.

(Actually, the curry took me 35 minutes. I spent the other 25 looking at shots of Vicky!!)

Get a copy of this book. It's got some lovely pictures in.

And some cracking recipes too!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Brrrrrrrrrrr ......

Yes, the local authorities scrimped on salt supplies.

Yes, it's a nuisance not being able to get the car out.

Yes, it's hazardous walking to and from work/school on pavements covered in ice.

Yes, it's a total pain in the backside walking up a steep, snowy hill at the end of the day with a cold 4 year old and a tired 7 year old.

Yes, it's fairly miserable fighting the cold inside the house on a daily basis.

Yes, it's working out bloody expensive lighting a fire every night.

But you know what?

It really is very pretty when it snows!

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Nothing too strenuous methinks .....

Yes-s-s-s, that's it, let's just ease ourself very gently into this year shall we?

Actually, as I write that, I realise that I haven't been keeping you up to date with the books I read towards the end of last year, so I will seek to rectify that right here, right now.

I think there's something quite romantic about my first post of the new year being a book review, don't you? Or am I doing my usual "talking cobblers" bit again? Ok, not romantic but helpful, informative even.

This is another book snatched from the shelves of the school, a book aimed at those whose ages are approaching double figures. And, as I have found with so many books aimed at this age range, it's bloody terrific.

Apologies to David Almond but I'd never heard of him before seeing this book but the picture and blurb on the back got me interested. It is a simple story which is packed full, from start to finish, of very beautiful description.

I won't spoil it for you but if you've ever fancied reading a totally believable tale of a young boy who one day, finds and befriends a "beer-drinking, chinese-take-away-eating-angel" in his Dad's dilapidated garage, then read this book.

When I read the last few pages, the hairs on the my neck and arms stood up and I stopped myself from welling up. When I had finished the last page, I wasn't sure why I'd stopped myself from welling up.

The book deserved a bit of welling up on the part of the reader and I denied it that much.

Sorry Dave.

' promise I'll blub on the next one!!