Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Incey Wincey

I don't like spiders very much. I understand that we are all God's creatures. I understand that they have as much right to exist as I do. I understand that (in the main) they aren't dangerous. What I don't understand is why they are out to get me. For goodness sake, there is no man in my house. Could they not go to someone's house where there is a man to get rid of them? Do they not know that they are not welcome in my house?

There was a spider in the bath this morning. It was a big spider. It was about the size of my head. If my head was about an inch in diameter, it would have been the size of my head. But it looked at me in a very challenging way when I went to turn the shower on. It is the only thing that I do turn on in this house. Or anywhere.

Anyway, it looked at me and dared me to dispose of it. I understand Buddhist principles. I understand that I shouldn't harm any living creature. But I am not a Buddhist. I turned the shower on and swished the spider round the bath for a bit. Until I thought I was safe. Then I swished it down the plughole. I was a bit wary - had it come up the plughole to get into my bath? Was that how it had arrived? Does that mean it can swim, or did it just wade? I've put the plug in the bath, just in case.

I know it is hanging under the plug, with its bristly legs, waiting until I take the plug out.

I am going to buy a flamethrower, just to be on the safe side.

I noticed that I had my first French visitor this week. I hoped they found what they wanted. Maybe it was a representative of Belle de Jour rather than Belle de la Maison.

Au revoir!

Friday, 17 August 2007

I should have listened more at school

I was a girly swot at school, there is no getting away from it. I went to a tiny little primary school, which I loved, and I always did really well. Spelling, English, maths (stop laughing, those who know me - this is primary school we're talking about!). We had a little spelling test every Friday, and a little maths test the same day, and our teacher kept a graph for each child to show how they'd performed throughout the school year. Mine was always in a straight line, because I could spell, and I could do maths (then).

Comprehensive school was a lot different. It was HUGE. There were lots of kids there and they were really loud. And I was really quiet. (I've told you before, STOP LAUGHING. This was when I was little). So I stood out more, because in that sort of school, its not really cool to be a girly swot. At the end of my first year, my school report had a comment in it from the Head which said 'Could be a high flyer'. I bet she choked on that when I left school with only 2 O'Levels. Like I said, it wasn't cool to be clever, I'll tell you the rest of that story another time. I still learned a lot at school, and I've done lots of resits and further education, and now find myself in an almost respectable education position..

But I should have listened more at school.

Now, you see, there are huge gaps in my school type education. Not the sort of things that you learn in night school, or by distance learning. I went out with my son today, and we passed a birds egg on the ground. It was opaque white, shiny, about half the size of a hen's egg. My sons said 'What's that?' I told him it was a bird's egg. He asked if the bird was still in it. I didn't think so, because I could see a little crack in the egg and some gunky stuff at the side of it. Also, it was on the road, near the garages. Which is probably not its natural nesting place. I said no, and he asked where the bird was, I said it looked as though it might have died, because there was all that gunky stuff (Boys love gunky stuff, I'm not a sadist). He said it didn't look like a bird, I had to agree. Which is when I started to flap a little. Like a bird. Shouldn't it have looked like a bird? Even a little one?

On the return journey, we walked down our little path to the front door. My son stared at his flowers (snapdragons), and asked what that flying thing was in his flowers. I looked and told him it was a bee. I told him it was a good thing because it was collecting pollen. He asked me why it was a good thing that a bee was stealing pollen from his flowers to give to someone else's flowers. That's a good point, I thought. A bee is stealing from us. How can that be a good thing? I think it might be something to do with spreading pollen around, but I have no idea. What if I'm confused, and the damn bees are stealing from me? Is that why other people's flowers look better than mine? Because bees are stealing from me, because I don't know any better?

I need to go back to school and learn about birds eggs, and bees.

Or someone needs to give me the telephone number for the Bee Police.

Thursday, 16 August 2007

What Was I Saying?

I used to have a really good memory. In fact, I had a great memory. It irritated the bejesus out of some of my friends because it wasn't even affected by alcohol. I would go out with my bestest drinking friend, get completely slaughtered, as would he, then as we were trying to get over our mutual hangovers the next day, I would say things like "Do you remember when you flicked candle wax into my dinner at the restaurant?" or "Do you remember what you said about THAT person?", and he was always astonished that I remembered. At least for the first few times. After that, he got wise to me, and knew that if he told me something, he could never hope that I'd forget it.

Something has gone badly awry. It's no use telling me that I'm getting older. I'm not 40 yet, so don't be throwing that one at me. In the last two months, I figure to have lost 70% of my memory. And that's only 70% of the memory I remember having, it could be more than that, if I don't remember having the correct amount. In the last two months I've lost my watch because I can't remember where I put it, and think it's got thrown out with the rubbish. I've lost my slippers about twelve times, and I have to get my son to go and look for them, because I get so frustrated that I could weep at having lost my slippers AGAIN. Just this week, I've lost a loaf of bread. I remember that I bought it, because my son and I went to the shop to get some cheese bread and they didn't have any, so we bought a crusty farmhouse loaf instead, and we had about 4 slices off it, and now I can't find the rest of it.

Just how ridiculous is it to lose a loaf of bread?

I think that I've probably cleared all sorts of wrappings and boxes and everyday rubbish off the worktop and thrown the bread in the bin. But what if I haven't? What if I find it somewhere bizarre in the next two years, and I only find it then because I've had to call in the Environmental Health and they say to me "Well Tina, I think the disgusting odour you've complained about is because you have a 2 year old loaf of bread in your electric meter cupboard."

I'm worried that I'll lose something important next time. Like my house keys, my phone, my handbag,

Or my mind.

But to be honest, even my bestest friends would say that they haven't seen it for a long time.

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

School Holiday Casualties

I am off work this week. Hurrah! Hence the lack of posts, although I confess I've missed it. I'm off with my son, in his school holidays. Sadly, there have been a number of casualties so far this summer holiday. I shall run through them, for your ease of understanding

  1. My son's fish died while he was on holiday. The fish doesn't live at my house, so I needn't feel any guilt over that particular incident. He was left with his vacation block whilst son & father were away on holiday, but sadly he has shuffled off this mortal coil. Rest in peace, Homer. Join your brother, Bart.
  2. The skin on my son's knee. He was riding his bike with his father on Sunday, skidded off it on some loose gravel, and has ripped lots of skin off his knee. It is apparently a 'road rash'. Very Tour de France.
  3. A healthy diet. Normally, I eat quite well, at least for a person that lives on their own for half of the week. I don't sit and eat Frosties, like a student. I don't eat peanut butter out of the jar, like a student. I do cook myself a nice evening meal, every evening. Sometimes it will be chicken and vegetables, or fish and vegetables. In case you've wandered into this blog by mistake, the name's Tina, not Nigella. Tonight it was pizza and chips. But they were oven chips, not fried ones. And I had a banana today, so all is not lost.
  4. A vertebrae in my neck. It appears to be broken, I'm not a doctor, but it feels like it might be C2, if I were to put a label to it. I'm typing remarkably well under the circumstances I know. I'll see how it goes tomorrow. It happened when my son (8 years old, and only 7 inches shorter than me - he's tall and I'm short, just in case you think we're a family of Borrowers) sat on my shoulders to get a better look at the jigsaw we're attempting to complete on the living room floor. And then fell off, forwards, taking my head with him.
  5. Any limits as to television viewing. I'm not letting him watch unsuitable programmes, certainly not. But today, there has been a fair amount of TV. What can I say? It was raining. And we're going out tomorrow. It never did me any harm. Mea culpa.

I love the school holidays. And I love being off in the school holidays. I love being off in the school holidays with my son. This week, I've laughed like a drain. My son has an ongoing joke this week, I'll share it with you, in case he grows up to be the next Peter Kay.

Son: (waves arm furiously in the air) Pick me! Pick me! Pick me!

Me: Have you got a question?

Son: I just want to say something.

Me: Go on then

Son: You smell.

It's a riot here this week.

Monday, 6 August 2007

The medical marvel

I wished I'd had the foresight to put one of those voting buttons on my sidebar, then I could have had visitors to my blog vote for what they thought was wrong with me. Medically speaking, rather than just a free-for-all - I'm all for constructive criticism, but that's a step too far! The latest phone call to get my blood test results resulted in the proverbial trying to get blood out of a stone, henceforth to be known as "trying to get blood test results out of a receptionist". First she told me they were all normal. Marvellous!

Then she had a bit of a think about it and said that 2 of them hadn't been looked at yet. I asked if all of the results were back (they did take the proverbial Tony Hancock armful, it seemed!). She said yes they were, and told me the results she had. I thanked her very politely and put the phone down. I gave myself a few minutes thinking time, remembering what was on the form that had been requested - she hadn't told me about a couple of things. Is it maybe me, I thought? Did I listen properly?

I phoned back, asked some specifics about these 2 results. "Ah" she said. "Ah", I said in return, to be companionable. She didn't know, she couldn't see it. She'd have to talk to a nurse and call me back. In fairness, she did call me (I was a little sceptical by this time!). She'd asked the nurse, they couldn't see those results. Were they still waiting for them, I asked. She didn't know. Had they definitely been tested for those 2 things? She didn't know that either. I made an appointment with the doctor, to be on the safe side, my faith lost.

I don't have a very important job, I know that. I work for an insurance company, and I look after a team that deals with injuries on motor claims. We strive to get things right, but when we don't, the standing comment from a couple of my team is "well, it's not like we're finding a cure for cancer". And they're right, they're not.

Somehow, I expected better from the NHS.

Sunday, 5 August 2007

Educating Tina

I just watched Educating Rita on the TV. It's the first film that gave me a clue that just because I'd messed up at school, didn't mean I couldn't go back and try again. Julie Walters, I think, does the same course as I've done in the past, and when you've been there, you can see how easy it is to get swept up in the new world that you have, quite literally, at your fingertips.

What she learns, and what I learned, is that sometimes the knowledge itself isn't important, it's the choices that it gives you. You can choose to do something with your education, or you can choose not to. Because choice is the most important gift.I haven't just learned about literary criticism, I haven't just learned how to analyse a novel, a play, a poem.

I've learned about myself, I've learned confidence, I've made friends, and I've learned how to pass this gift to my son. I don't care what he chooses to be when he grows up. The best gift I can give him is the gift of choice.

Saturday, 4 August 2007


My son is going on holiday with his dad tomorrow. Just for a week, but I'll feel as though my arm has been cut off. There will be less blood shed, but that will be the only difference. He loves his holidays, doesn't care where he goes, loves playing on the beach, riding his bike, typical boy.

When I was his age, I had been to the same place on holiday for as long as I could remember. We'd go on the coach to a place on the East Coast called Sutton on Sea, We'd stay in the same little guest house,just across the road from a bigger hotel, and when you crossed the road to go to the beach, you'd walk pas this hotel and see the crab pots still glistening and wet. Then you'd climb some steep pebbled steps to get to the sea front, and all the way up the smell of the sea got stronger and more salty. When you got to the top, there was a row of beach huts, my mum and dad hired one every year, it would contain deckchairs, a kettle, a sink that was always gritty with sand. They didn't have any water, but they all contained a huge water bottle which I begged to be allowed to carry to the tap near the steps. When you turned it on, the wind would blow so hard that the water came out almost horizontally.
I've not been back since I was maybe 11 or 12, but I know that I could find my way round if I went tomorrow. It's not a very big place, I don't suppose it has the the "right" sort of requirements for a summer holiday any more. But one day, I'll take my son there.
And we'll both love it.
I can't wait for him to get back, and he hasn't even gone yet.

Friday, 3 August 2007

Click. Snooze

There is no getting away from it. I'm a very heavy sleeper. In the past, I've slept through thunderstorms, traffic noises, and once, a very minor earthquake. On occasions, my son still creeps into my bed, if the night demons have been out to get him. At least, I assume he creeps, he may leap and shout. I know that sometimes, I'm surprised to see him & wonder why I'm hanging off the side of the bed. If I'm worried then I can be awake for tortuous hours in the night. If I'm not, or if I'm just too tired, then I could make the Olympic team for sleeping.

Because of this, I've taken to having 2 alarms to get me shifting in the morning. I have a little old-fashioned alarm clock, which has no snooze facility. And then I take my phone to bed with me too and set the alarm on that. When it goes off, it plays a little trumpet fanfare. It is usually somewhere near my head. I scrabble round for it blindly, then squint at it. I get 2 options - Turn Off, or Snooze. In the past, I would allow myself 1 snooze, then I'd be up and out of bed. Recently I've discovered that with 1 simple click, I can snooze for another 9 minutes.

Whilst I've been feeling unwell, I've learned that after an hour, my phone thinks "Lazy moo. She is never getting up. I'm turning the alarm off and she can stew." In turn I've discovered that if I then set a new alarm, we can repeat the whole process.

It is turning into a battle of wits between me and my phone. I'm not sure who the smart money should bet on.

I'm also not sure how successful you're going to be if you try to wake me up to tell me that I owe you betting winnings.



Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Successes and Failures

How will I know if I am a good mother? In my job, I'm given targets that I must meet, objectives that I must achieve, tasks that I must complete. My progress is reviewed monthly, I'm given feedback. I'm told if I'm succeeding or failing. And I do the same for others. I observe them, I ask other people what they think, I ask them to give me evidence of what they've done. If I'm doing well, I'm told to maintain my performance. If I can improve, then I'm advised how to do so. And I do that for people too. So they know how they're doing.

I live on my own, my son is with me for half of the week. My own mother lives 50 miles away, my friends - the other side of town. Much of our time together is spent with just each other for company and we both delight in that. But how am I to know if I'm succeeding or failing?

Does one look for the positive? Does one mentally review progress? Yes, my son is always courteous and polite. That box is ticked. Yes, my son does as he is told, that box is ticked too. Yes, my son can spell 20 words of my choosing, that box is ticked. Is that how I will know?

Or instead, do I look for an absence of the negative? At a certain age do I say my son does not smoke? My son does not get into fights? My son is not in debt? Is that how I will know?

This morning, my son held out his hand in front of me, palm up. His finger was sore, could I see it? I told him that I couldn't see anything at all. Then I glanced up, and saw a fleeting, crestfallen expression drift across his face, vanishing as quickly as it came. But I had seen it. I asked for another look, maybe I had been looking at the wrong finger? Oh yes, I could see it now! That must be very sore. We went into the kitchen, where I have a small cupboard filled with plasters, bandages, creams, lotions and potions. Everything a mother could need. I opened the cupboard door, very slightly, and whispered "Magic cupboard, do you have anything in there for a sore finger?" The whispering was drowned out by the infectious giggle of my son, who seemed pleased that, once again, his mother was prepared to make a fool of herself, just to make him laugh. I put some cream on his finger, infections banished, the status quo restored. My son cherished.

We left the house in high spirits, the mood set for the day. My son asked if we could play a game on the way. Of course we could, that would be lots of fun. What game shall we play? We could have a quiz, he suggested, you ask me some questions and I will ask you some questions. Of course, I answer, what sort of questions would you like? About my favourite cartoon, he says. The one we watched last night, and the one we watched last week. And the week before that too. The one which has been on in the background, whilst I have thought of other things, grateful for a moment's respite, relishing the silence. I tried - I didn't get any of my questions right. And I could only think of one question for him, at which he snorted, complaining that it was too easy.

How am I to know if I'm succeeding or failing? How will I know if I am a good mother?