Thursday, November 28, 2013

What the kitchen men tell you

A new man came to measure the kitchen.

He was older but he had bright eyes, with pupils blue as marbles. He said he couldn't have biscuits. He was diabetic and he'd had a stroke a few years ago. He said the Victorians hung their doors to protect privacy; not like the modern way. He said, 'I love my wife dearly, but I'm not going to spend six grand on a granite worktop for her. I'm sorry Dorothy, but I'm not'.

I liked him.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Look, No Hands

I am spending my free time thinking about some kind of part time work and mulling over my skills. Today, I can add, Riding a bike along a riverbank with no hands,' to my CV. It only lasted for 5 seconds and took 45 years to master, but it was, indeed, a spike of joy.
It made me think of teenage boys in summer, who came riding into town, arms by their side and shoulders back. I don't know who they were now - like characters from half-remembered dream, but damn, they looked cool.
I was cycling to meet a friend (offering his career advice) and I took a safer short cut, along the banks of the river Kelvin. It's like nature's secret artery through the city, shared by yappy dogs and  walkers, joggers, prams, and the wee druggy couple who weren't having ice creams in the rhododendrons.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Zumba into 80's Timewarp.

If you thought I was at my second only Zumba class, struggling to follow the fancy moves and panting dumbly, you would be seeing in one dimension only.
Inside, I am Jennifer Beals. The pretty, Spanish Zumba teacher is happy to have such a 'natural' in her class. Yes, the 80's were a while back, but, hey, she knows I haven't lost it. We understand each other, even if her star jumps outclass mine. (Know what I'm saying, ladies?).
One day, I will mature out of my X factor mentality and learn that   we can't all be Jennifer Beals, or Subos, but we can have fun trying. For anyone outside Scotland who doesn't know Subo, you can see her here.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Time for the Actual One

I had to google, 'Time for the Actual One', to see if it was from some children's cartoon, or whether my kids had just made it up. It seems the latter. Still, I find myself saying it back to them - we all use a American 'movie trailer' accent to deliver it, and it feels strangely soothing and grounding. Try it. Time for the Actual One.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Collected Stories

My Dad is having a book launch / house party for his Collected Stories tomorrow night. I remember when he was an English teacher in a tweed jacket, who occasionally wore red satin-y shorts to play teachers versus pupils basketball in the school gym (sorry, dad). I'm proud of his work ethic and all-round perseverance. Go, Barney.

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Lost Window

The two workmen both take two sugars in their tea. The younger one smells fresh, like some kind of man deodorant. The older one coughs, and sighs intermittently. Our front door and windows are open, and the air inside the house smells of industrial adhesive.
Earlier the older one dropped a lap-top sized window and it smashed through the gutter outside and landed in the wet bark chippings of the front garden. It looks lost, out of context, like a lone robot eye, squinting at the sky.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Mother of Intention

If not the mother of invention, let me at least aim for intention. For the list of things I intend to do is so long and varied, it  taunts me and I have to argue back, just like the kids, with their, 'but, but, buts.'
I want to read more, watch more, walk more, learn more, create more, dance more, see more people. But first, I am a mother. Oh, yeah, mustn't forget, I (we) have created a couple of human beings and we're still putting in the graft. Hourly.
Another mother in the playground admitted she was, 'so lacking in ambition' and, once again, I thought: Hold on! Society only defines it that way. We are deeply ambitious that our kids get the best upbringing possible, by being there for their every need. By doing all the invisible stuff they are not aware of, but they'd miss it if we didn't, or if we left them in after-school clubs all week.
So, yes, I still hope to do so much more. And I will, when the planets are in the right orbit. Meanwhile,  did I start a novel in the last half hour? Eh, no. After weeks of intending to, I managed to  make an online purchase of two universal cooker hood filters with grease saturation indicators. Of course you wanted to know that. I bet all the best novelists have a) no kids or b) a nanny, and perhaps, c) oven hoods dripping with grease.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

A Modern Prob

Have you noticed how frequently people say, 'No problem', when the question of a problem hasn't necessarily be raised? A man came to measure our kitchen. I said, I'll get your coffee. He said, no problem. I was at the till in the supermarket. I said, I'll get my purse (fumbles in bag full of crushed tissues and half-eaten bananas). No Probs, said the checkout boy. Houston, we have a prob. Just Don't tell Lynne Truss of Eats, Shoots and Leaves.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Katie Morag on CBeebies.., definitely my new favourite children's show. Great to see a  central female character who is just like-able and human and not defined by the usual 'pink princess' nonsense. See? It wasn't that hard, people. Watch a clip here.

It made me so nostalgic for the freedom of youth I had on Islay. Such a rare and precious thing.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

A Cake-a-holic goes Cold Turkey and is Surprised


I haven't mentioned my dabbles with Low GI or Low GL eating. It stands for Glycemic Index or Glycemic Load, and refers to how fast sugar in any given food is converted to glucose in your blood stream. You may know this already.

I started aiming to eat low GI foods, not to lose weight, but because, for a few years, I have felt like a slave to sweet things. I was getting bored of needing cake several times a day. I got so crave-y and hungry. I spent weeks, months, summoning up the will power to cut back on sugar, thinking that when I did, my life would become a grey wilderness of pining. The cake section in M&S would feel like an illicit crack den.
And the most surprising thing is: I can eat low GI for 5 days a week and enjoy it. I'm at the stage of  'treating' myself at the weekends and deciding to eat anything I want, and okay, there is exhilaration and freedom in that.
But after your typical weekend of kids' parties - pizza, chips, pirate-ship cakes.., it feels like a relief to go puritan again on the Monday. Rye bread, soups, peanut butter, fruit. Slow stuff. Like putting a big log on the fire instead of trying to keep it going with newspaper: flaring high and leaving me wanting more.
My slow and steady enthusiasm for low GI  may be boring my friends. It's only been a few weeks, but I'm hoping I can walk the walk..,quietly chomping on an oatcake.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

A story inThe Scotsman

Thank you to The Scotsman newspaper for publishing my short story.  It's called Yours to Enjoy and it's about an exchange visit student who comes to stay in Scotland with an older, childless couple.