Tuesday, 30 October 2012

The Gallery ... Frightful

I'm joining in with The Gallery and rather aptly, because it IS Halloween *spooky woooh sound,* the theme is Frightful ...

I don't find many things frightful. The current government, the state of the world and people today *tuts* They are all frightful in their own ways but the usual frights ... Spiders? Pah, I wrestle them for fun even if it is down the plughole. Snakes? Pah, I've been wrapped in a 17 foot long python and I wore it with style.

But bats... I hate bats. They're basically mice who've learned how to use a sewing machine. And yes, I do KNOW that they're a conserved species. I would never harm a bat, I would be too bloody busy running away. Bats are the only mammals on the planet that can fly which tells you all you need to know about bats. They're weird and even the other mammals think so..... *nods wisely*

And it's not if it's an irrational hatred, they started it. Alright it is over 30 years ago and I don't suppose they wanted to be in my hair any more than I wanted them to be but, you know, BATS entangled in MY HAIR. It's not a good look..... except, maybe, on Halloween.

But this is why I was quite proud of this photo I took of some *squeals a bit* BATS ....

Alright, they were behind a piece of glass in a large display case but, you know, BATS.... if you squint a bit.

Bats, as we are all now absolutely agreed, are horrid and should be avoided at all costs but may I also suggest that moths are not just the annoying little fluttery things banging aimlessly into lights that they appear to be either....

They're ALL just Dr Who villains in waiting and that is truly frightful..... *SHRIEKS*

Check out everyone else's entries at The Gallery

Monday, 29 October 2012

The Pierced Heart ....

Last week, TeenTwin 2 got a hole in her nose and at the same time might as well have driven a stake through my heart.

Ok, so maybe that's a bit melodramatic but for the first hour after she came home with a shiny new nose stud I couldn't look at her for fear of the tears (mine). It was the culmination of a long mother/ teen wrangle that started some time ago.

"Mum," she announced one day apropos of nothing, "I want to get my nose pierced."

I didn't want her to get her nose pierced. Each to their own and all that but I don't like nose piercings. Or lip piercings, or eyebrows, chins and tongue piercings. Basically any kind of facial piercings at all. If people feel that they have to make a statement about just how alternative they are, I don't understand why they have to do something so un-alternative as sticking some metal in their face. It is total conformism, just of a different type.

And I'm sorry *whispers* but to me nose piercings always look like people have forgotten to wipe their noses clean after a violent sneeze or that they have a particularly odd spot that just won't go away.

But mostly I didn't want the TeenTwin to have her nose pierced in case IT WENT WRONG. Google, by the way, does not in any way assuage this fear. *Shudders* I gave birth to that nose, have kissed it, tweaked it and eskimoed with it for the past 16 years.. I didn't want her to make a hole in it that wasn't designed to be there. A hole that might, whatever the infinitesimally small chances of it happening are, go badly, disfiguringly wrong.

That first time we came to an "agreement." She had her bellybutton pierced instead. *Rolls eyes* And promised that would be the end of the piercings.

Three months later she her ears pierced again, next to the ear-piercings she had as a reward for passing her Year Six SATS, which of course means I must share the guilt of this sudden fascination with piercing. With five more small holes in her body than she set off with, we joked darkly about turning herself into a colander and she, yet again said there would be no more piercings.

But clearly TeenTwin 2 believes that my attention span can only maintain itself for three months at a time for three months after having her seconds done, she yet again wanted her nose piercing. 

At 16 years old she doesn't need my permission to have her nose pierced but she wanted my blessing and I was incapable of giving it. I didn't actually cling to her ankles crying "NOOOOOO" when she left the house but I wanted to.

She had it done anyway. And then she promised that she wasn't going to have any more piercings. At all.

Oddly enough I don't believe her.

But I AM getting used to this new piercing, sort of.  I have totally not asked, absentmindedly of course, whether she's got trouble with a stubborn blackhead though, to date, I CAN NOT have a conversation with her without staring at her nose.


*Surrenders title of Mummy Cool*

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Spooky Scribes: A Vampire Story

To celebrate Halloween George at ASDA are running the Spooky Scribes challenge, this is The Boy's story.

The Boy, aged six and a half.

On a dark stormy night there was a storm raging and I thought it was a bit scary and so I went outside and then a strike of lightning burst at me BOOM! And a vampire came and carried me away. I had a really good kung fu action and I kicked one right out of the window and right through the wall and one right in its tummy and it died.

So then I tried to escape but there were vampires all over the place. I kicked them in the chest so I ran outside into the misty fog and it got foggier and foggier. Suddenly I saw a man getting bitten by a vampire and he turned into a vampire too!

And then vampires chased after me and chased and chased me but then I standed and kicked one right through the door. Then I kicked the other in the stomach til my feet came out the other side and then the vampire king's guards came screaming out of the door and took all the dead vampires away.

Then I was in their castle with a flash where I saw a costume and I got dressed in it and I was a vampire and the sharp, sharp teeth worked. I bit one vampire right on the nose and bit one in the chest and then I bit one right in the ear and then I went inside and tried to bite the whole castle but it wouldn't work. So I hit the castle but it hurt my hand so much.

I bited the door down and there sitting in the throne was the vampire king and I bit him and bit him and bit him but it was no use. I tried and tried to escape but he made a forcefield around the door so I got out my two plastic swords and I threw them at the forcefield and there was a big explosion and I jumped out just in time and the big, big castle was done with. It fell down and all the vampires were dead.

I felled asleep and by magic I floated right into my bed and was hugging my penguin again.

The End.

Can you tell who it is yet?

Disclosure: The Boy was given his very stylish vampire costume by George at ASDA free of charge for review purposes. 
He MIGHT take it off after Halloween but I'm not putting any money on it.
Content and levels of gore are all The Boy's own work

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

The Gallery .... Books

I'm joining in with The Gallery and this week the theme is Books ....

I have a bit of a confession. I really am quite fond of books. SOME people *looks at my mother reproachfully* might say I have a bit of a book problem. And this from a woman who spent her working life in a library and is totally, unequivocally and absolutely to blame. *Tuts*

But really, I can handle it. It's not a problem. It's totally under control. Totally....

I mean when you have shelves you have to put SOMETHING on them. Though when you run out of shelves, there's always next to the bed and, um, under the bed ....

Of course, I don't just buy books for me because that really would be selfish and I'm all for sharing the love.

The Tween's................................................The Boy's.........................................................The Teen's
So you see, it's absolutely no problem AT ALL...

*looks shifty*


*Runs to a book shop*

Please check out everyone else's entries at The Gallery.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

The Five Milestones of Motherhood ...

Some would have you believe that the milestones of motherhood are your child's first word, their first step, the first day of school and yes, if you are that way inclined they are markers on your child's path through life but they are totally NOT the most important milestones... ooohhhh no.

Silent Sunday ...

Saturday, 20 October 2012

The Good Old Days ....

When Jimmy Savile was, finally, exposed as a predatory paedophile, rapist and serial git I wasn't that surprised. Apparently JUST like most of the UK entertainment industry *rolls eyes.*

I didn't like Jimmy Savile, never had and I always KNEW there was something funny about him. No really, I did. Though what has been discovered and is still being discovered is very far from funny. Savile, whatever else he was, was hugely popular in the 70s and 80s. All over radio and TV like a particularly distasteful rash, you couldn't escape him or his ever waggling cigar. And he made my skin crawl not because I have a sixth sense but well ... That hair? Those clothes? The bling thing? I mean, really? *Shudders*

But in the wake of vile revelations that never stop coming, there's been a whole host of other stories about what people in the public eye were doing when that eye wasn't looking, lots of dark stories of inappropriate behaviour and sexual harassment in the corridors of the BBC. And there is shock and disgust which is justified and commendable. Of course it is,

But does no-one remember what it was like in, what people have been known to call with misty-eyed nostalgia, the "good old days" ...

Being female was not a lot of fun back then. Sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour was just fun and games and a bit of banter. It's perpetrators were called "a bit of a lad"  said with a nudge and a wink. In fact there was a lot of nudging and winking all round.

When I was a teenager (I was 16 years old in 1980) I was, for a time, too embarrassed to walk past a building site because of the "Show us your tits" clarion call of builders everywhere. Builders shouted it with monotonous regularity to anything vaguely female and sometimes (because it WAS the 80s and heavy metal and tight jeans all the rage) male that passed by too.

When I was 13, I passed my Girl Guide's first aid badge by dint of sitting on the knee of the examiner, at his request, and answering one ridiculously easy question. I didn't think it odd at the time. Neither did it occur to me when I was 15 why the bouncer at the local hall would let me and my friend into all the gigs without tickets and then, after a gig had ended, backstage. At the time if we'd bothered to think about it at all we just thought that he thought we were genuine music fans. Which we were, with a passion. But not that kind.

We would go backstage in our leather and lycra brimful with enthusiasm to be greeted with equal enthusiasm by the band. This would, eventually, turn to bemusement as I started to grill them in my amateur guise of local music writer. Though I did once get led into spending a good ten minutes in a darkened room with a lead guitarist but his willingness to have a chat wilted when it became clear I really DID mean to have a chat. He ate an apple and chatted. Instead of, I suppose.

A few years later, when I was a real journalist and spent a large proportion of any interview fending off various musicians in the rehearsal rooms of West Yorkshire it rather belatedly occurred to me what the bouncer at the local music hall had really been expecting in return for our free ticket in.


But by that time of course I had been through every young female journalist's right of passage. Braving the photographers department of a local newspaper which should never be done lightly and, in 1984, shouldn't have been attempted at all unless armed with a tea-tray and hidden in a voluminous pinny.

And the local newspaper is exactly the place you don't want to find yourself in if you have issues with inappropriate behaviour, or at least they weren't in the 80s. Councillors, local businessmen, policemen and heads of the local NHS were patronising, rude, suggestive and downright foul-mouthed as the wont would take them. Though admittedly they were like that to male reporters too.

But I bet there weren't very many male reporters who had to fight off a member of the local CID if they were foolish enough to accept a lift or had to remove a local councillor's wandering hands during a discussion on local housing policy.

The 80s .. enough to drive a woman to drink,

I hope in the years since I last worked in the real world that we've all moved on and things have changed a bit. That my own daughters will be able to walk past a building site without blushing to the roots of their hair. That they can have a discussion with someone of the opposite sex without that person looking them up. And then down. And then leering a bit. I hope they will be recognised for what they are in the future they choose; bright, talented, exceptional PEOPLE. Real, all-round properly formed people who just happen to have breasts. Just as capable as a man, except a bit more intelligent and able to multi-task.

Jimmy Savile got away with what he got away with because of the climate of the time, the willingness of people to turn a blind eye and think him a bit of a lad. And I hope that, amid the genuine horror that has been felt in the wake of his overdue exposure, we won't spend all our time looking back and wondering where it all went wrong.

The "good old days" weren't that good and more than a little grubby. And I know because I was there.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

The Gallery .... Old

I'm joining in with The Gallery and this week the theme is Old ....

This picture is of my Grandma celebrating her birthday, her 103rd birthday which is, by any stretch of the imagination, old...

... but you would never have thought it.

My Grandma was very many things, she was strong, loyal, steadfast, stern, funny and loving. She had impeccable comic timing and a dry wit. She smoked (but don't tell more than a dozen), she always had her hair done, she could be quite particular and she sang music hall songs bursting with innuendo at family celebrations.

Of which they were many. She had seven children, they had children of their own, and their children had children who had in turn had children so that by the time she was 103 my Grandma was the matriarch of a family spanning four generations.

She had stories to tell, and not all of them involved Old King Cole (the dirty version). She travelled a lot, including to Australia, yet again, when she was in her 80s. She'd been in service when she was young, was an actual Sunbeam and had lived through a couple of world wars. She'd also had twins but because medical technology was what it was when she did, she'd lost one at birth.

It was one of those meaningful family moments when I introduced my own newborn twins to her and also a relief, mainly because she'd spent several months threatening not to live long enough to see them born. *rolls eyes*

In the event she lived another 12 years and saw the birth of the Third Girl and The Boy too and each one she welcomed with joyous smiles. My last memory of her, the one I keep, is of her sat in her chair, clapping her hands with glee at The Boy while he giggled at her and she giggled at him. He had done something naughty. Of course.

One hundred and one years separated them, but they could have been the same age.

This is my entry to The Gallery

Please check out at the other entries at Sticky Fingers

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Do You Want To Know A Secret ...

There is a new thing at school. Not that it is really new. It's a re-issue of that old age game of bitchiness, the one where it all starts off as a game and will end up with someone getting hurt. Possibly really badly.

This particular variation is a Facebook page called "....... Secrets" (the dots indicate the Academy's name which I am not sharing for obvious reasons) which the pupils of the not-said Academy are induced to follow to discover the deep and, predictably, dirty secrets of their peers.

It's a "thing" that has been going around the city, which has had a Secrets page to itself on both Twitter and  Facebook. So has an adjoining town though whether this phenomenon has spread to other schools and towns outside the area, I have no idea.

The basis it seems, in the manifestations I have seen, seems to be setting up either a Facebook page or Twitter account run by someone who chooses, not surprisingly, to remain anonymous. They ask followers or members to send in other people's dirty secrets and then publish them on the net for all group members and/ or followers to see. Of course the posts spread further than that as anyone can see retweets on Twitter and follower's comments made on Facebook.

"It's just a bit of fun. Everybody knows its not true," said TeenTwin2 when I saw a Facebook post that she had joined the group. She may even have rolled her eyes at my unsophisticated appreciation of modern social networking

And everyone might think it IS just a bit of fun, but the potential to cause intentional hurt is enormous. If it was a bit of fun why should the group/ account management be anonymous? If it was a bit of fun why choose only the salacious, the embarrassing and the illegal as the things to share because, surprise, surprise, every secret is about someone doing something they shouldn't have or someone doing something to someone they shouldn't have. None of which is true. Probably.

It's that "probably" that gets in the way of it being a bit of fun. There are reasons that the phrase "No smoke without fire"  is a cliche because people WILL choose to believe what is being said about people whether it's true or not.

And TeenTwin2 agreed, after I patiently explained my position* to un-join the school group that has been set up. "It's not as though I won't see what's being said," she rightly said, "Because it's on everyone else's time line."

True enough. Being a Facebook friend of friends of the TeenTwins, I've also seen what is going on too and this afternoon came across my daughter's name in one of the posts which was, well, horrible. It didn't really matter what was said, but that someone, someone unknown, had taken the trouble to say it that disturbed me most.

I am entirely grateful that I have brought all my children up not to give much of a stuff about what people think about them and that they have the confidence to deal with anonymous rumours without falling, completely, to pieces. And deal with it she did, with humour and panache *relieved face* but I'm not sure that everyone who ends up named, shamed and giggled at by their peers would or could.

And if, or maybe when, someone, anyone, fails to see the "funny side" of what those anonymous posts say about them then none of it will be very much fun anymore.

At all.

*had a bit of a rant

Silent Sunday...

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

The Gallery ... Yellow

I'm joining in with The Gallery this week and the theme is Yellow.

Yellow is not my favourite colour. It's not even in the top ten. This may be because I've been washing and ironing yellow t-shirts twice weekly for the past 12 years and I still have another four and a half years to go unless the school *crosses fingers* changes the uniform. Do they not know wearing yellow attracts wasps? *tuts*

OR it could be that through my teenage years my father drove a works van that was so startlingly yellow people used to shield their eyes when it passed by. It's good job really because it did have "Climax" emblazoned along the side. And yes I am still in therapy about that one.

But this is The Gallery and this is my Yellow...

..with added bee
And just as a word of warning while we're on the subject of yellow. If you were, for example, thinking of making Dandelion wine and picking those dandelions on, as is traditional, St George's Day, don't, just DON'T take the TeenTwins with you...

We were scrubbing them down for DAYS.... *sighs*

Please check out everyone else's Yellows at The Gallery

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Call Me....

I am mostly of the opinion that The Third Girl wants for very little in her life but for the past year she has craved two things, both of which she assured us would make her life a joyous, rainbow filled world of love, excitement and happiness. These two things are a hamster and a mobile phone.

Daily she has repeated the mantra: "Muuuum, when can I have a mobile/ hamster (delete as appropriate for the moment). EVERYONE else has got one?" Clearly as everyone else does NOT have a hamster (I know because I asked around), I wasn't entirely convinced that all her school friends were au fait with the latest in mobile technological wizardry either.

But time has marched on, the Third Girl started secondary school in September and top of the list of things to buy for the new school term was, of course, a mobile phone. Not for her sake, but for ours. I'm aware that the school rules forbid mobiles in class thank you, but she has to walk half an hour there and another half an hour home at the end of the day and, well, I just feel better knowing that she can contact me and I her if the need arises.

So for her 11th birthday at the end of August we got her a mobile phone. Not the same kind of mobile that the TeenTwins were issued with when they started secondary six years ago which was, basically, just a phone, but an all-singing, all-dancing smartphone which was the only kind she would entertain. She was mildly disgusted it wasn't an iPhone which, apparently, EVERYONE else has but she seemed happy enough.

The first day of school dawned and she refused to take her phone. "Er," I said a little non-plussed but it was the first day of school and her nerves and mine were enough to deal with without arguing over whether she should have her phone or not. She was getting a lift there and back for the first week too so it didn't seem entirely necessary either.

The first week came and went but still she wouldn't take her phone to school. It was, she said, not allowed and she didn't want to get in trouble. I explained, quite patiently and several times over several days: "All the teachers KNOW you have mobile phones on you, but if you don't start playing Angry Birds in class or take a phone-call in the middle of assembly, they turn a blind-eye" but to no avail.

And so, the all-singing, all-dancing smartphone sits unloved and unused. All day. At home.

All well and good, if she's not happy taking it to school then so be it. After all, I went through my entire adolescence and beyond without a mobile phone and, to be honest, I would have hated to be at the beck and call of my mum and dad at all times too. Mobiles back then, of course, were the size of a small, detached bungalow, needed their own satellite in tow at all times and were mostly only seen on Tomorrow's World.

But this week I got the phone bill.

It's a bill that includes my phone, the TeenTwins phones and now the Third Girl's. One of those bills that you can check usage and includes itemisation of calls and texts, it is a very informative bill. It was also twice as high as it usually is.

Once I had stopped spluttering and imbibed a medicinal bottle of gin, it became clear that the Third Girls reluctance to use her phone did not at all apply to when she was home. Making phone-calls? She LOVES doing that. And mostly to her best friend who lives a stone's throw away and she sees every single day all day too. Text messages? She must send them one letter at a time. *Sigh*

Not my daughter, oh no.
Frankly if it wasn't for having to pay the ridiculously enormous bill, I would have laughed. Really *grinds teeth*

Instead I've issued her with a piece of string and two plastic cups for intimate late night chats with the BFF in the next street, introduced her to Facebook messaging (What? shoot me) and insisted that she does start taking it to school if only so she gets used to the fact that she CAN carry it round without actually having to use it.

Oh and as for the hamster.... well, I couldn't possibly afford one of them now.

*congratulates self on keeping the house rodent-free for the foreseeable future*

Silent Sunday ...

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