Friday, 29 June 2012

The Prom Diaries ....... Part 9.




WE ARE POST PROM! And it feels not un-entirely like being post-op, tired and a little woozy and I didn't even go to the bloody thing.

And finally I've got a handle on what The Prom IS. After months of bafflement that an American tradition has been adopted so wholeheartedly by our education system, it turns out The Prom is, more or less, an old-fashioned, very English, dinner-dance for teenagers instead of members of the Rotary Club. They even serve rubbish dinner-dance food.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

The Prom Diaries, Part 8 ...

I didn't expect to be writing The Prom Diaries, Part 8. Well, I did but it was SUPPOSED to be gorgeously sumptuous pictures of the TeenTwins and their friends sipping cheap cava from plastic glasses dressed in glamourous dresses and suitable suits next to an improbable limousine. Now there will have to be a Diary Part 9 because ....


Well, because we're really getting down to the nitty-gritty of Prom night. The who's doing what with who where and why and when. Yes, they've hired the improbable limousine to deliver them to The Prom but the getting home again is down to the individual Prom-goers initiative. The TeenTwins, having plenty, have organised, cajoled, bribed, battered eyelashes and sulked enough to get The Man to fetch them.

And they're SO good at initiative they've persuaded The Man, in our beloved battered ex-police transit van to fetch not just them but five friends too. And they have more friends, so these friends are being brought home by a family friend who VOLUNTEERED *puts away stout stick* out of the deep goodness of his heart.

When I say brought home, I mean to our home for the required after-party which is, I've been told, de rigeuer. Rather that than having them sitting in a graveyard, or a field, or the roundabout (all of which have been previously mooted as after-party alternatives). Or trawling the streets of Leeds looking for a pub or club to take them in. Dressed in Prom dresses. After midnight. At 16. Well ... 

Okay. Maybe TeenTwin1 wants the after-party to mostly be vodka shots, pizza and "bangin' tunes" (in that order) and TeenTwin2 is just looking forward to chilling out in her slippers with a cup of tea and her mates but we'll just have to let them sort that out on the night.

Note to self: Hide the vodka.

Anyway, sounds like a plan? Or it would be if anybody had any bloody idea when The Prom ends or could remember where it's being held so we could pick the buggers back up in the first place.

APPARENTLY, the gospel according to the TeenTwins (they were told in assembly) is that The Prom ends at some time between 10.30 and 11.30 "probably." Entirely helpful, I don't think. We do know that The Prom is at  Leeds United Football Club, we also know Leeds United Football Club is really quite large and has numerous entrances, exits and car-parks.The TeenTwins talk vaguely of a mysterious pick-up point as a meeting point for the journey home though on investigation it seems to be a part of the club known only to limousine drivers, and they probably call it the drop-off point anyway.

I had to go back to read a previous Prom Diary blog to find out The Prom is being held in the club's Banqueting Suite and, to my knowledge, the letter that I gleaned that from was the last official communication from the school with any Prom information in it at all. That blog is from January. Six months ago.

But The Prom, by the time I publish this, will be tomorrow. TOMORROW *shriek* and there's not a lot else we can do. The TeenTwins and friends will climb in the improbable limousine at 6.15pm and at some point as yet unknown and at some place currently unconfirmed will be met to be brought home. 

Thank god for mobile phones.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Torch, Wakefield .... (Not An Instruction)

The Olympic Torch passed through our city today and though I'm not usually one for hanging around on street corners cheering a bloke running around with a fire on a stick, I took The Boy.


The Boy was off school ill having woken up with nothing but a croak for a voice, and The Torch was setting off on it's Wakefield leg from the very end of our street so I thought we might as well have a casual wander down there, a bit of a wave and a wander home. His school class was intending to do the same further down the route and he was appalled he would miss it. Won't be many people to cheer it on round here, I thought.


At 9.15am, with the Torch's arrival still a couple of hours away, I noticed small groups of people forming at the end of the road. At 10am, you couldn't see the end of the road for people. Mmm, I further thought, grabbed The Boy and set out to find a decent vantage point among a suddenly swollen river of people.


And we waited.

The crowd now had a definite throng about it. There were people dressed in red, white and blue. Other people waving flags. There were hats, and flags, and badges, and more flags. I felt woefully under-prepared, the only thing we had to wave was a crumpled five pound note.


We waited.

Though as we waited it soon became clear that my crumpled fiver would have been the most appropriate thing to wave after all as the Olympic Games sponsors' vehicles drove past handing out balloons, free carbonated drinks and things to wave, Lloyds green be-ribboned sticks replete with advertising no less. The crowd tutted a bit, grumbled a bit and went back to waiting for The Torch.

We waved at people. We waved at the TeenTwins who were in a gaggle of their friends across the road and were busy ooh-ing, aaah-ing and clapping anything and everything that passed in that hugely amusing *cough* way that people do.

The crowd, clearly inspired by their example, decided to do the same and it would have been nothing short of churlish not to join in. So we waved at the police motorbike riders who veered about slapping out the low-fives. We waved at the bus and the people on it (or those of them not entirely terrified by the impromptu reception) waved back. We even waved at the dustbin truck and the dustbinmen also, very graciously, waved back.

Still we waited.

But then there was a mumble, a low rumble in the crowd. People were shuffling forward, pushing pushchairs into the middle of a dual carriageway with a determined look on their face as they searched for an even better view. Policemen suddenly looked purposeful and upright. Someone said The Torch was just minutes away. It was half an hour late but no-one said: "About flaming time."

Then there it was. Everybody cheered and everybody clapped and everybody roared hurrah.


Spot the Torch

And then it was gone.

Annnnnd it's gone

Everybody looked around at each other sheepishly, shuffled a bit and started heading home. Within three minutes the road was empty of anything other than a few deflated balloons and a couple of trodden on flags.


The TeenTwins and friends ran on after The Torch to follow it on it's journey through the city and a very VERY small part of me wished I could do the same because, just for one brief flicker of a moment, having some bloke running down the road with a fire on a stick was, well, exciting. But I didn't.


And because the TeenTwins and friends were suddenly gripped by the whole Torch experience, TeenTwin 2  got to meet one of the Torch Bearers, who also happens to be one of her heroes. He is Jono Lancaster and he really IS inspiring.


So hurrah for The Torch and hurrah for it's relay runners and a tut and a sigh at the attendant promotional packaging. 

Thursday, 14 June 2012

The Prom Diaries ... Part 7

It's The Prom in just two weeks time. Did you know that? I do, I know this because every other sentence uttered by TeenTwin1 or TeenTwin2 contains the phrase: "The Prom".

Two weeks to go and I am ALREADY totally Prom-med out. Two more weeks and I could be the first ever victim of Prom-Related Stress Disorder. It's been going on so long. So very, very long but now it's all but done.

The TeenTwin's dresses (the frighteningly expensive one and the still quite expensive, but not so much, one), are at the seamstresses having the obligatory last minute alterations. Footwear is chosen and in the process of being broken in (got to avoid those blisters, girls) and we're sorted for bras and bags.

And it's all paid for *turns out empty pockets* including the tickets and the APPALLINGLY expensive stretch Hummer that will deliver them in style to the Prom venue, even if it doesn't think OVER SIX HUNDRED POUNDS is enough to bring them all back home again.*Tuts*

Thank all Gods That Be we have an old, battered police transit van in which to pick them back up again *tries to avoid TeenTwin2's dirty look* I AM thinking of putting a blue light back on it's head just to give their departure from The Prom some style though because I am The Mother Who Thinks Of Everything.

And because I am The Mother Who Thinks Of Everything, we appear to be hosting The Prom after-party for a select FEW *meaningful look* of the TeenTwin's friends. Well, it was either that or them joining the other couple of hundred Prom-mers cruising the streets of Leeds after midnight with fake IDs looking for a club to take them in because that's going to work, right? Er....

But I'm not Draconian, I know you only live once so I WILL be purchasing a bottle of cider (for them) and three bottles of gin (for me) for the after-party festivities *happy smile.*

In two weeks and one day, The Prom will all be over and all I'll have to show for it is the pictures in the Yearbook (already paid for) to remember it by. 

*Surprised sad face* 

Sometimes, just sometimes, I really, REALLY wish we'd had a Prom when I was at school *sighs*

*Waits for 2015 and The Third Girl's Prom*

Monday, 11 June 2012

School's (Nearly) Out For Summer

AS the GCSEs grind relentlessly towards a close, the TeenTwins are "buzzin' mum" with barely contained excitement that they can sign out of classes for the summer term.

"No more 6am wake-ups," they crow, unutterably incapable of grasping that 6am wake-ups have always been avoidable if only they chose to go to school with bed-hair and without make-up. *Tuts*

They still have classes to attend, the last gasp of education before starting sixth form in September, but the lessons are few and far between. Some days they won't be expected in school until lunchtime and other days they'll only be there for an hour.

They are very happy about this, but me? 

In the first place, I'm going to have to explain to The Third Girl and The Boy that while their sisters are snoring in bed, both of them still have to go to school. And I will have to repeatedly explain that to them EVERY SINGLE MORNING. There will be sulking and much shoe-dragging.

And The TeenTwins? Are they going to be hanging around the house ALL day? Are they, god forbid, going to start having their friends round? They are, aren't they? *Woeful face*

AND they'll want lunch, and snacks, and endless amounts of tea and coffee. The TV will be constantly on and the laptops never shut down while they daily, for hours, wield hairdryers and straighteners or curlers practicing Prom hairstyles. And the kettle, the poor kettle, will steam until it can steam no more.

There may also be loud music on a regular basis and I'm not going to like it when they tell me to turn it down. *Mutinous look*

So I'm considering dipping my toe into home-schooling for the next six weeks of so... an alternative education system which will go some way to preparing the TeenTwins for a life beyond the classroom *virtuous look.*

I shall be running courses in How To Use The Washing Machine, Oh level Bathroom Cleaning, Ironing: A Beginner's Guide, Washing-up, Stage 2 (Not Just Dipping It In) and, for the more adventurous and scientifically minded, Weeding The Allotment, Advanced level (may contain bugs).

*Unpacks mortar board hat, twitches cane*

"Hang on, you want us to do WHAT????"

Saturday, 9 June 2012

The Importance of Balls

I only noticed today that football's European championship, Euro 2012 as they WILL insist on calling it, is upon us and I had absolutely NO idea it had even begun. The final proof surely, if it were needed, of the death of an affair that began when I was still in school.

Kevin Keegan
Gratuitous shot of a half-naked
of Kevin Keegan
I loved football once. Passionately. At school I was a Liverpool fan because it was the 70s and in the 70s, Liverpool were THE best team by miles. I could, and still can (with a bit of umm-ing and ahh-ing), name the Liverpool squad that brought home the European Cup in 1977.

My bedroom was a homage to Kevin Keegan, I had posters, books AND I even had his chart-busting *cough* single "Head Over Heels." I grew out of that kind of idolatrous passion just about the same time Kevin Keegan moved to Hamburg, but I never lost my love of the "beautiful game."

Every World Cup and every European championship since I was a teenager I have been there, not in the actual grounds (pfft), but in front of a TV willing the team, my team, on. And there's been some corking matches, brilliant goals and scintillating players. There's been a few celebrations, some tears, some heart-in-the-mouth-moments and tears, some unforgettable moments and tears. But I kept the faith.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

That Was The Jubilee That Was ...

....But not any old jubilee, it was a Diamond Jubilee. Sixty years of throne-sitting and crown wearing. Sixty years of money, privilege and luxury. But also sixty years of tireless service in a role unasked for, a role administered by an accident of birth.

I'm not entirely a fan of monarchy myself. I see the Royal family's tourist value but I also see that it perpetuates the idea of privilege by birth. But however skeptical about the monarchy you may be, you can't really deny that the monarch herself has worked all her life to promote this country at home and abroad.

I've dogged the Queen's footsteps on royal reporter assignment and stood as close to her as you can get in a small chemistry classroom filled with a hoarde of teenage boys and bunsen burners without being felled by a (no doubt ninja-trained) Lady-in-Waiting.

The Queen is small and powdered and she smells nice. She's extraordinarily polite, asks suitably banal questions and manages to successfully disguise glazing over in the boring bits. She nods a lot and smiles, graciously. She is an extraordinarily professional Queen.

As she exhibited throughout the jubilee weekend. At 84 years old, she stood for HOURS in driving rain, on a boat on the Thames, looking at other boats. She even endured the jubilee concert outside her front garden, listening to a Beatle singing "Live and Let Die" while her husband lay in a hospital bed *tuts* AND Will.I.Am. She is clearly a woman of indomitable spirit.

My favourite bit of the whole Diamond Jubilee celebration wasn't the service, the flotilla or the flypast. It wasn't even the concert, it was the bit right at the end of the concert when Prince Charles called The Queen "Mummy" and The Look that she gave him.



This weekend has, indisputably, been an example of how, when the world is just that little bit shit, the weather even shittier and the nation is in the slough of despond, one little old lady can inspire the country to hold it's head up a little higher, to wave it's flag with a bit more fervour and for all of us to think: "Yes, well actually, I AM just a little bit proud to be British."

Thank you, ma'am.
*Curtsies*


Sunday, 3 June 2012

Silent Sunday





But *shhh* this week, I'm cheating because it's been a busy week and personally, I blame The Queen


And I won't do it again *looks contrite*

Friday, 1 June 2012

"Why Are You Crying, Mummy?

"Why are you crying, mummy?" asked The Boy.

The Boy has never seen me cry. I've cried with laughter with and at him, and stifled a sob on his curly head during Toy Story 3, but he's never seen me cry. Not properly. But he came into the room while I was reading Martin Fletcher's story in The Times about the massacre of the children of Houla in Syria, The Tipping Point and, of course, I was crying.

I couldn't tell him I was crying in disgust and despair, in horror and, yes, in shame. I couldn't tell my 6 year old son that children like him, younger than him and babes in arms have been, and are being, slaughtered in Syrian villages by people; not aliens, not monsters, not evil super-villains but by PEOPLE who are really, essentially, no different from me and him.

People with arms and legs, ears and eyes. People that eat and sleep, love, laugh, cry and presumably have children of their own. But driven by a collective insanity? a fanaticism? they are committing atrocities in the name of power and politics.

Yes, I am too ashamed to tell my son that this is happening in the same heartbeat in another place, too far away to imagine in his head. I'm too embarrassed to tell him that I'm helpless, that this time mummy can't make it all better. I wish I could.

But if one mummy can't help, maybe a hundred mums or a thousand mums can. Maybe a million mummies, and daddies too, can shout loud enough to be heard and maybe then, together, we can make a difference. That's why I'm joining in with Syria: A Day of Protest at Britmums, for my protest to be heard.

Please sign the Save The Children Stop The Killing petition here






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