Sunday, December 06, 2015

Departments, you say?

'Mummy, I've made you a wedding cake. That's you (the pig) and that's Daddy (the Minion).'

I enjoy watching the gender differences between the kids. Tonight they were building a den together with duvet covers and small tables.

Tess: So, this is the hairdressing department (adds brush), and this is the pony ride department (inserts blue plastic horse) and this can be the relaxing department (horizontal Barbie in a halterneck).

Hugh: (with what the feck? expression) No Tess, we can't have DEPARTMENTS! It's a DEN! It doesn't have departments!

She cheerfully persisted. Eventually he conceded to a Toy Department and a Cool Things Department (inserts Angry Bird sunglasses, hair gel and air guitar). Domestic harmony restored. Tick.

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Asthma: the Unknown Territory.

Mother / daughter Selfie by Tess

In general, this has been a blog about overcoming severe illness and the gratitude that flows from that, so it feels sadly strange to document new struggles with our wee girl's asthma.

I'm aware asthma is a lamentably common illness, so I hope in just saying it like it is (for us, anyway) it'll be useful to others who are affected. I'm hardly in a position to offer advice or solace.

Ever since Tess started school, she's had a run of infections and the throat-y ones just go for her, so here she is, back on another five day course of steroids plus another new drug (Montelukast / Singulair) that has a mean list of possible side effects. She's been on the brown puffer for 4 months now.

I am finding Asthma UK to be very helpful. Any small comfort  in times of stress. As a friend said to me today, 'nothing affects you like your child's well-being being threatened.'  It makes me wonder how my poor mother bore it when I was ill for so long. Thank god I managed to get out the other side. I suppose that's what I hope most for Tess - that the condition improves as she gets older. 

Oh, the heart-melt of bringing her a glass of water to the sofa when she was ill and she said with utter sincerity, Thank you Mummy, as if I had just saved her from a bear pit. (Not a monkey pit, though- she'd enjoy that).

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Lost for Words

I have resisted recent blogging because I am increasingly bewildered by what I see as the utterly self-defeating nature of the current news events.

But today, on the day when 'Britain' may decide to go to war again, I can't just leave my blog at the previous post about a toy monkey. I mean, come on, folks: this is just madness. 

I am so against the bombing that I feel as if I belong in another world with friends who agree. How can anybody think bombing will lead to peace? It will only lead to more violence and we have to take a radically different approach, no matter how challenging that is.

I hate the way Jeremy Corbyn is being perpetually trashed for just being a principled man who doesn't want to drop bombs and seeks other ways to tackle these atrocities. I hate the way that Scotland has to join in the bombing and this was exactly the kind of reason I wanted an independent we wouldn't have to join in horrific wars.

Meanwhile, no one is taking the Climate Change summit seriously enough. And The BBC seems to be so supportive of the unquestioned main-stream, right-wing status quo. So, I'm kind of lost right now, with all this stuff.

I'll sign the online petitions, email my MP and go and get some lunch. I'm watching BBC news and I'm scunnered at the hostile Tory brawling in the house of commons. They are not even letting him speak....

Sunday, November 08, 2015

What you see, what you don't see.

I saw that I was buying a pack of 3 Microfibre cloths for multi-purpose domestic use. I did not see that Monkey would rush to claim then as new 'beach towels.'

Saturday, October 31, 2015

A Secret Boyfriend

Breakfast chat this Halloween morning.

Tess: Mum, do you have a secret boyfriend? 

I think I do. He presents the weather and he is gay. Why let that get in the way? It's the twinkle in his eyes when he talks about warm fronts and blocking highs. Gotta love Tomasz Shafenaker. Well, I do anyway.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

A relative paradise

We were at a memorial service this week for Carey Lander from Camera Obscura and it was sad and moving in equal measure. There really was so much love for her. Her fundraising for Sarcoma UK was brave and amazing too.

I'm only having time to blog to you, this slow Saturday, as my wee girl, Tess, is lying on the sofa with an acute tummy bug. When your child is ill, you feel as if everything is suspended and very little else can be 'got on' with. It's like a vigil, half boring, half reverent. 

I met a friend recently and she was commenting on how she was irked at having to change energy suppliers and she said, 'I shouldn't moan because, of course we live in a relative paradise...' and I know exactly what she means. Life is full of the best of times and the worst of times - sometimes anyway. The sheer spectrum and scale of it all - the very randomness - never ceases to amaze.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

A lovely over-bite

Ah, it's the weekend and Tess is starting to improve, on anti-biotics this time. Phew. 

I can blog about more trivial matters, like the funny compliments I got from two older women in the doctor's waiting room.

They were a mother and daughter, maybe 75 and 45, brightly dressed in 'good coats', handbags, well made-up etc. The mother had reached that giddy freedom of just saying what she thought with a twinkle in her eye.

She told me I had a great figure, (we hate you, so we do, she said) and asked me if I was an actress. No, you're a teacher? Are you a teacher? Like kids, they were excited just guessingI said it was funny, but I always wanted to be a teacher and might still apply, but for the past five years I had been a full time mum.

They nodded and cooed in glowing approval. You never get that. Then the older woman added, and you've got a lovely over-bite too, tracing her hand round her lips, to illustrate further.

Hey, at this age, slowly going grey, I'll take any compliments I can get. I've waited 47 years to get one on an over-bite. 

Is it just Glasgow or do people chat like this everywhere?

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Every Breath You Take

Readers and friends, I'm in a tail-spin, trying to adjust to the recent acceleration in asthma that our wee girl, Tess, is facing.

She's five now and  she had her first diagnosis of  'possible asthma' aged three. It had always been mild and infrequent until the last six weeks or so, when  it just feels like we're fighting ever bigger waves in the ocean.

She's had three flare-ups: one requiring oxygen masks and hospital. The other two, I was more attuned to, so we caught them earlier with oral steroids from the GP, although they still were (and are) very hard for her; and not easy for me to watch. All the episodes seem to be viral-ly triggered by a cold.

I have no experience of asthma myself. Daily now, I am walking or cycling and just marveling at the miracle efficiency of my own lungs - for the first time in my life. It's something we easy-breathers take for granted. Now I can see how achingly challenging it must be when something as fundamental as breathing is not 'a given'. Poor Tess currently has the hacking / heaving cough at the slightest walk in the street.

So we have seen a consultant and my dear GP friend is very supportive, but this week just feels like fire fighting; throwing buckets of water at a burning building, thinking What? How the hell did this happen?

I'm searching the net for info. Lots of it is conflicting. Lots of it is scary and I try not to click on those links. One asthma nurse urged me to get rid of her bedroom carpet and all of her cuddly toys.

Another doctor friend said dust allergy isn't 'dose-dependent' and because you'd never get rid of it all, don't wear yourself out being over zealous.  At least one website claims evidence on dust reduction isn't conclusive.

Almost everyone I talk to knows someone with asthma - themselves or their brother, sister, child etc. Honestly world, what are you doing to us all?

In my rash moments I want to move to the country and keep as far away from our crazy car culture as I can. I know it's not realistic for us as a family, although I pine for a sunny Mediterranean break or 3 months in the pure sea air of the Hebrides next summer.

In the meantime it's a day-by-day thing. I have to get to bed early, knowing I could be woken through the night by the heart-sink cough.

Wish us luck. She's on day 3 of big steroids tomorrow, although the doc said she may need 5 days. We'll see.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

It wouldn't take much

Isn't it weird how being under-slept suffuses the next day with a general melancholy? I think I only clocked 3 hours last night, lying awake, hearing Tess cough and ruminating on her recent asthma diagnosis. Then today, even the sight of beautiful autumn trees provokes that I'm-not-crying-but-it-wouldn't-take-much feeling.

I remind myself to count my blessings. Our friend Carey from the band Camera Obscura is very ill and is raising money for the terrible cancer she has had to endure. It seems so unfair. 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Pocket Paranoia

Is it just me, or are there other women out there who feel badly served by a lack of pockets? Call me paranoid, but I feel it's another subtle and unconscious conspiracy. 

Basically, I want to have my mobile phone on hand or 'on hip' all the time, especially in case the school phones to say one of my kids is suddenly ill and in need of rescuing (visions of a pale child sitting, crying, holding a bucket in a lonely corridor.)

I want to have my phone about me for other obvious reasons, but that's generally top of the list. The only real way to feel / hear my phone - is to wear jeans. Every day. Jeans were designed for cowboys - of course they are damned useful, but if I want to wear a skirt or a shirt, or a dress or just something other than jeans, it's a perpetual challenge to get a snug pocket for a phone.

It makes me mad. Men have suit jackets, shirts and trousers over-flowing with 'inside' pockets and ample deep pockets and pockets with button-down flaps on top. 

Women have flimsy, too-shallow, ornamental pockets. Or even worse: 'trick' pockets - things that look like pockets but are surface only - zips that unzip to nothing. Marks and Spencer, this season you are guilty.

Are we supposed to carry handbags everywhere? Are we not important enough for ample pocketing? Get it together designers. Get me some stylish, decent pockets. Let me feel you understand me. Just don't phone me if I'm in a dress. I'll miss the call.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

These Small Windows

Right now, for all of ten minutes, the wipe-clean kitchen tablecloth is wiped-clean; the bathroom is washed (though not the floor, tsk) and there are enough apples, bread and milk in the house.

I have a tiny window to say hello before running off to the school to get Tess. I know it sounds like I am not really telling you anything here - but, I guess other parents know what I mean about these rare little windows, floating up like bubbles. They are to be gently savoured, even if it is just to look out the real window on to the garden and think, ten minutes to play with. What will I do?

Oops, time to go now. More soon I hope.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Every Kind of Mojon

I've been watching episodes of Hair on BBC3 with the kids. It's a TV hair-styling competition, a kind of Bake Off for Bouffants - easy to watch while sitting down after dinner.

Luckily it has given the kids a notion of brushing my hair and Tess gives a running commentary about how she is trying to 'kwee-ate' (create) a style that will have 'pwitty mojon' (pretty motion). 

Motion  pronounced as Mojon is one of my favourite of their multi-use words. They just stick it on to anything. Right now I'm doing blog mojon, but must go off and do pick-things-off-floor-while-wondering-what-to-cook-for-dinner mojon.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Monkey's Granny owns Morrisons..,

...That's why it's yellow. 

Monkey & Co continue to take over the world, according to Tess.

It's Sunday. It's banana muffin hour.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Tolerating Sadness, Tolerating Air

I had not expected to hear the phrase 'tolerating air' this week: surely air is just to be breathed and not something to be tolerated? But indeed the hospital doctor cited it as a goal for Tess after she was admitted to A&E and kept overnight with asthma.

It was all quite sad and scary because she had to have nebulisers and oxygen tubes up her nose - she hated the discomfort of those - and generally, she cried her way through 2am, 3am, 4am and beyond. We got less than 2 hours sleep in 24. It was only the next day that she was able to 'tolerate air'.

I can't help feeling sad. Apparently something like 20% of children in the UK have asthma. The air pollution we blindly create - driving short distances, using perfumey bathroom cleaners etc, is just so endemic people forget to question it. It makes me have the odd wistful pang for country living - or at least for less traffic in Glasgow.

Anyway, Tess is on the various medications now and I am just trying to absorb it all. I love how her sense of humour managed to poke through her misery in hospital. She said daddy was late for visiting hour because Invisible Monkey The Great  (her imaginary monkey) was driving him and had to strap him in the booster seat in the back of the car.

I'm so glad to be home again. Here they are playing in the new kitchen.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Being yourself, knocking down walls and the whole universe

Readers, I am still going grey. I am growing slowly into it. The kids keep inspecting my head in a running commentary and saying, yes, there is a little bit more grey! Indoors in dim light it looks fine, I think...

Outdoors, in bright sunlight I may look as if seagulls have poo-ed on my head, or as if I have been painting the ceiling - I don't know - but I was thinking today: is self-acceptance really such a radical act? Because that's all it is, this letting-your-hair-be-as-nature-intended. I threw out my old hair-dye towels today. They looked like they were used to dry rusty railings. And tea bags.

Meanwhile, we have knocked a wall down. I'll say that again, shall I? We have knocked a wall down and we are not wall-knocking-down people! 

It's great though. Instead of a dining room and a teensy kitchen, we have a big kitchen-diner thingy. It only took us five years. Photos to follow, if you are lucky...

And finally, I asked Tess why she wouldn't go and play with Hugh today. She shrugged and replied, oh, he is just wrecking the whole universe, as if that was standard for 6 year old boys. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Head for the edge, keep walking

I just finished this book by Kate Tough, whom I met on the Orkney Writers' Course. Gee, I was impressed, mainly because I enjoyed it so much.

It was so accessible, readable, arch and true, yet I could relax because it was well-written, well-crafted and swept me along. Lots of great and subtle Glasgow references too. 

Just as well I met Kate before I had read her book, or I'd have been writer-struck. The new short stories from Janice Galloway are what I fancy next -

When she's good, she's damn good. You know you want to.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

I need Minnie Mouse ears to keep me sane

I can explain. It's been one of those days. A day of first-world problems. A day when I keep telling myself, some people have got real problems, but okay,  I'll admit it, mothering drove me nuts today.

Poor Hugh has now had a bug for over a week and just wants to fight his sister, me and every gargantuan injustice he can. You should'a let me use the red crayon! 

Earlier, I had to collect the Dyson from the repair shop (why do they deodorize it with essence of car wash?) and the mission led to scuffles with his sister, wailing in the street, vacuum-packed misery.

Later, when he was calmer, we saw a woman about my age with greying hair (no dye) and I mumbled in my self-soothing way, see her hair looks nice enough...good on her; he said, Well, mummy, I don't think you should grow your hair grey. 

Aww. I said, Why not? Daddy's is grey. He said, well, it only looks okay for a man...

Sadly, I know what he means. And yet, I'm still trying to resist the pressure to be a slave to putting chemicals in my hair every 4 weeks for the next fifteen years at great effort, time and expense. Other people might enjoy it, not me.

I came home and stuck on a Minnie Mouse hairband to do the Dyson-ing, through wails of protest that it was too noisy and getting in the way of the TV. 

They are asleep at last and I am gazing peacefully on the pristine red rug and the soft-plum sunset over the west hills of Glasgow. I will fall into bed with mattress-all-mine delight, as Nice Man is drumming in Spain, but of course I look forward to his return, free hotel soaps and otherwise. 

Monday, July 06, 2015

Getting Doon with the Mamas.

Did I tell you how much I am enjoying the Coorie Doon Project? 

What is the Coorie Doon Project? you all cry in harmonious unison.

It's a lovely idea funded by Enterprise Music Scotland where I have been invited  (as a writer-y / poet person) together with Rachel Drury (warm, talented musician person) to work with pregnant and/or new mums in Edinburgh to help them write and record a personal song for their new baby.

It's named after this lovely miners' lullaby, by the way.

The mums have been great, opening up to us, sharing their experiences. I've been telling them that their babies will be their biggest fans - whatever they come up with. Here's a portrait that our Tess painted of me. I love it, as it's filled with happy acceptance and blind adoration.

(I will have to covet this drawing when she turns 14 and everything I do will be wrong, embarrassing or both).

Anyway, I'm loving it so far and want to contribute and facilitate as much as I can. We've had influences from Opera to AC/DC.

Here's one of my favourite poems about childhood: - Small Boy by Norman MacCaig.  It's all that Having and Losing, Losing and Having. It gets me every time.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Yesnaby, Oh Yes.

Yessnaby, Orkney.
So, Orkney was quite a ride. 

I loved walking up this cliff at 10pm at night (still light) with Michael Hough and Kate Tough. ( A bit of Huff and puff with Tough and Hough?) We lay on our backs, like teenagers, and looked at the sky. 

Lots of things reminded me of being young: the smell of the sea and farmland on the wind. The way the peaty ground has a small bounce under your feet. The squeal and squawk of sea birds. Those pinky clover flowers near the shore, beating the odds: wee bobbing balls of fluffy triumph.

The Writers' Course was good, even if I didn't get as much written as I had hoped for. Mea Culpa. Perhaps I am distilling it for later. 

Our course tutors, Pamela Beasant and Jen Hadfield were supportive poetry Maters, always packing a Writing Exercise and a well-targeted Sandwich Selection. 

We saw Damien Hirst's suspended sheep at the gorgeous Pier Arts Centre (apparently local farmers wholly disapproved and, yup, I get that...). 

We loved poet, Stewart Conn. What's not to love? Is it wrong to want to hug the man?

We watched the brilliant James Runcie give a spell-binding talk on Music, Poetry and Silence, elaborating on the power of all three to guide us through this random, turbulent miraculous thing called life. 

Job done, Orkney. Oh, Orkney of Standing Stones, Gore-tex and women who decide not to colour their hair any more (my people!?)

Stromness Hairdressers, Orcadia Cuts had photos of many's a lavish 'Up Do' in the window. Never mind the Bridal Hair, I just loved the phrase Orcadia Cuts (it for me).

I will look out for my fellow course mates in future years. I'm sure they'll have more to say.

PS I'd also like to thank Creative Scotland for their help with a travel grant, greatly appreciated.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

First World Dilemmas - is there any way to go gracefully grey?

Indulge me,  dear readers, with my first-world preoccupation -  my 'problem' grey-area.

I am 47 now and have been sticking 'a wee semi permanent' in my hair for about 5 years to cover emerging grey. (By the way - there is no such thing as grey hair - only white hair mixed with dark, giving the impression of grey). But I am weary of it. It is faff and a kerfuffle and the roots come through so quickly. I forget which colour I bought and get piebald 'brassy' tones. I wreck the towels and the bathroom lino.

Most of all, it does not feel authentic. It feels like a cheat - pretending to look younger than you are.

It's gender biased too. Men look fine with grey hair and silly with dyed hair. How did they escape? I am toying with getting it coloured regularly at the hairdresser but it costs a fortune, takes hours at a time, and guess what - 6 weeks later you have a big white/grey line where everyone knows you need to get your roots done. Again.

But it's amazing how many woman gasp and say. 'Oooh , nooo, don't go grey! It' so aging!  You can't!'   Hairdressers tend to just shake their heads in silent horror. Lots of my pals colour their own hair in the bathroom, and seem to be much better at it than I am, (as they are better at baking and similar things for which I have no ambition).

I am swithering and swithering, preoccupied with the vain trivia of it all - yet still lacking in my conviction to 'go for it'. I just found this online and felt like I had found a support group. 

If I'm going to 'go for it' I have to get through the awkward 'growing out' phase, knowing that the playground mums are thinking - isn't it time you had your roots done?

Will a splash of red lipstick distract from follicular hara kiri?  I doubt it. Time will tell which way I jump. 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Pace Yourselves in the One Direction.

I'm pleased I've managed to download a free pedometer app on my phone - called Pacer, if anyone is interested. I don't have the time or the nouse to discover these things myself, but a friend-of-a-friend told me she was newly 'obsessed with it'. So I'm joining in.

I still can't believe, years on from the other side of ME, that I can walk as much as the next person. In the bigger picture, it's still a thrill and feels like a random, miraculous accident. None of my friends here knew the illness years. I still wish others trapped in ME could escape like I did.

So, it's nearly the end of May, although nobody's told the weather. Despite my new 'mastery' of apps, I am low tech when it comes to calendars. I love our  (Gruffalo) Family Organiser on the wall, with columns for each person. I get twitchy at the end of the month, wanting to flip it over to the next month, so all the new events are laid out fresh. 

Still, there is one more day to go before flicking it over to JUNE with a reassuring satisfaction -like hanging my coat on the brass peg in the front porch, or flicking off the bedside light each night. It's a kind of ah, there we go, feeling; pleasing for its small familiarity and unstoppable nature. We're all moving in the same direction, folks... the 'gither, as they say here in Scotland.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Bargain misery for only £1 !

Today I am reminded why I usually don't allow my kids to have random presents on a whim - no matter how cheap. Earlier I weakened and gave in to Hugh who wanted a polystyrene plane. Well, it' s only a pound, I thought!

Tess (reasonably) then wanted her pound's worth but couldn't find anything in Asda's 'cheap crap' section to satisfy her. I said I had a 'wee thing' at home and would give it to her.

Cut to: We arrive home. Tess decides that the Snoopy lip balm I had in a drawer was not up to standard and 'not a toy'. She falls into wails of sobbing and crying. Meanwhile Hugh's plane snaps in two on it's second  test flight about the garden. He too joins in the histrionic wailing. The combined wailing - peppered with 'it's not fair's - goes on for the best part of an hour. Quite a bargain for a £1 coin. JUST STAY STRONG. The pound shop is a bargain with the devil.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Where do we go from here?

Of course I should mention that I'm gunked by the election. We all are. 

I voted Green as they are closest to my heart, but even the SNP's success can't save us from the grim Tory plans: TTIP, more privitisation of public assets, NHS dismantling, tax cuts for the rich, fracking, leaving Europe, cutting public services and pursuing profit for the elite above fairness for all.

How is Scotland going to bear such selfish politics for another five years?

Go Nicola. Do your utmost to make us understood.

One Sunday, We Were Dancing Hippies

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Duped by Google, Twitching for a Skip, Voting and Running.

I want to take a day trip on the train tomorrow and I have spent hours, hours, rummaging through the house trying to find my family railcard. It would save me nearly 20 quid.

I keep turning to the computer, fingers hovering above the keyboard, thinking, why can't I just google it and google will guide me to it? Google will tell me where it is! The physical urge to have google save me, yet again, is over-riding my rationality.

Where, oh where are you hiding, pink rail card? I have vowed to clear out more clutter - or as much as domestic harmony will allow. Nice Man never throws out anything. Occasionally I start twitching for a skip. 

PS - I think a skip is called a dumpster in the US?
PPS - Yes, I know it is election day. I will vote and run.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Football Fans in Training let me Celebrate You All

Have I told you lately that I love you? No, I mean sorry, have I told you how I am enjoying my new part-time job with Glasgow University's Medical Research Council?

I told you that it's called Fieldwork and it's all about data and how data rules, and it's our job to collect it, honour it and protect it.

This week I had my first overnight field trip.  Ladies and Gents, we hunted that data down. We boarded our fancy mini bus with seats facing each other (with a table in the middle like they have on Scotrail), tinted windows, and a toilet (maybe not). We criss-crossed Scotland, passing farm after idyllic farm, rolling fields and forests on our way to interview our Football Fans in Training. 

FFIT is a great scheme that offers a support program for (mostly) middle-aged men who want to lose a bit of weight and get fit at their local and beloved football club.

It's MRC's job to do follow-up interviews and see how they are getting on. It's great meeting the men and hearing their stories, their frustrations and enthusiasms.

After the data collection sessions, our team went to eat in an Italian restaurant and then stayed over at a Premier Inn.  Eating late gave me insomnia so I was watching repeats of Double Your House for Half the Money at 4.00 am, as I marveled at the sheer novelty of spending a night in my own hotel room. 

I love working as a team and enjoyed the banter with the younger ones.  I hadn't got myself organised enough to download music on my phone yet, but wee Shelley let me borrow her spare i-pod (the youth, you see?) on the drive back.

As we hurtled home through the rainy Scottish night, past dark mountains, our bus glowed faintly on the inside with strips of blue light along the floor. I listened to ebullient Noughties pop and thought of our precious boxes of heartfelt data and I was happy and sleepy and high-fiving them all in my mind. In a sappy way, yes.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

In the All Night Cafe by Stuart David

I am half way through this book and loving it. I never really knew Stuart David but his like-able personality comes through the pages of his warm, witty memoir of the forming of Belle and Sebastian. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Snapshot actually killed Chaos... I'm told. Our son, Hugh has an obsession with Skylanders. It's a computer game that he has only played once - at a friend's house - but he talks about it all the time, rattling on, weighing up the goodies and the baddies in his head. Asking when he can get it. Sixty seven times a day.

When they are babies, they eat, sleep (or not) and dribble and you wait patiently to find out who they are and what their passions will be. I hadn't really expected this one. Well, I hadn't expected him to bake a cake on a few crumbs alone.

Of course there are all these sage warnings about the addictive nature of these games and I'm an old hippy at heart, wanting them to play on rope swings or with stones/sticks/whatever.

Added to that, Skylanders seems to be some kind of capitalist marketing genius where adults buy the kids a Starter Pack with a few 'free' characters, only to be plagued for the next ten years when the kids want to buy 'another' character, just because their pal did. (I hear rumours of £6? £10?)

And yet, his enthusiasm is somehow touching. Seeing his wee brain tick over, plotting, planning, rehearsing every imagined scenario on the When-I-get-Skylanders spectrum. 

My mum says I am too soft on them, and she is probably right. I am still holding off, King Canute in front of the waves. Is anyone else with me?

Meanwhile, Tess, is happy with her furry monkey. She too makes up scenarios all the time - Monkey didn't have a tutu for her ballet class, so she ate a hole in the middle of a pancake and used that. Well, of course she did.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Fairy Impressive

I can honestly say I can't remember anything I made out of Plasticine as a child.  I can safely say that I never made anything as self-possessed and impressive as this wee fairy thrown together on a whim by my 11 year old niece, Maddy. She has lots of other talents that she doesn't seem aware of. That's the beauty of being 11.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Stone Hairdressing in the Modern Age

Friends, you may know I rail against needless consumerism, especially for kids, but the flip side is when my children's pals come for play dates, I have the occasional pang of demi-guilt that the toys in our house may not match the cascade of Argos-y plastic delights in other kids' bedrooms. 

Hence I was glad to see yesterday's improvised game: Stone Hairdressing. Simply pick your favourite stone from the garden, take it up to the bathroom sink, shampoo it, towel dry it (with a facecloth) and blow dry it. Add toy hairspray and brush to finish. Praise its beauty and show it to your mother. Ta daa.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

God Help The Boy

I had a relaxed lunch in the window of Little Italy with Stuart who was just back from his globe-trotting B&S tour.

I asked him if his film, God Help The Girl was playing anywhere and he told me it was playing near his hotel in an Australian city. He couldn't get to sleep thinking that the projectionists might not be playing it loudly enough, so he pulled on his clothes - on top of his pyjamas - and walked down to ask the ticket booth girl if they could screen it at the right volume. She invited him in for a cup of tea, but he declined and went back to his hotel more able to rest. Ah, the old pyjama-under-clothes mission. It sometimes pays off.

On other matters, I am enjoying my new part-time job as a 'fieldworker' with Glasgow Uni's Medical Research Council. It doesn't involve Wellies, but I wouldn't mind if it did. There is still a lot of the island girl in me.

Well, look at the time.  We have barely had a minute to chat and it is school pick-up time already. A bien tot, as we used to say in French.

Friday, January 16, 2015

The jury is out

I love the kind of random waiting-room chat you get in Glasgow. After a week of sitting round the Sheriff Court, as a potential juror, I wasn't picked to be on the actual jury, which was fine by me.
The woman who sat beside me most of the week was warm and friendly. She said:
Oh, here, I'm glad I met you. It's fair put the time in. And, d'you know, you look dead like a women in my work - one of the psychologists. You're the image of her. And she's really high up.
We discussed always being hungry - I had sandwiches in my bag that I started eating at 10.15 am, although we were both thin. She told me that she once bought three Mars bars for a pound and ate them all. I looked surprised. I'm not finished yet! she said, adding that she ate two Double Deckers afterwards.
That's mental, I said, (worrying that I was using un-PC language).
That is mental! she exclaimed, pleased to bond further.
Her dog has it's own Facebook page

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Happy New Year, Cowboys and Ice Queens.

Well, did the rain not lash itself about today?

In my cabin fever, I suggested to the kids that we try and make a wee film, although I didn't feel particularly confident in my Spielberg aspirations.

Hugh wanted to be a cowboy and make it a cowboy film. What will you be, Tess? I asked. Western barmaids in frilly skirts flashed through my mind, but I didn't want to be gender-limiting. I needn't have worried. Can I be the spikey plant? she replied.

Seconds later, she decided she'd rather be an ice queen from Frozen. Funny that. BAFTA Scotland need not concern itself with the end results.