The Wall of Photos

The Wall of Photos

Inspiration comes in many guises and when we moved house a little over a month ago I realised I needed some from somewhere to break up the vast expanse of magnolia-painted wall in every room.  Our new house is modern, just over 6 years old, and has unusually large rooms.  If anything the magnolia makes them look even bigger.  Now, I’m not a particularly arty person, I don’t really “get” most art and while I know what I like when I see it it’s such a rare event that a lot of the time I don’t even bother to look.  On the odd occasion something does catch my eye it’s usually way out of my price range (to be fair anything over about 35p’s out of my price range at the moment) so I generally just photograph it for posterity and to see if there’s some way I could, er, emulate it.  Given that I’m completely hopeless with a paintbrush “emulation” probably isn’t the way to go.  I can draw, quite well even if I say so myself, but the problem with that is that I am painstakingly slow so anything I might attempt is likely to be abandoned long before I could utter the immortal words “can you tell what it is yet?”

Of course, I can’t expect the house to come together at the drop of a hat. Some purchases are more important than others, like new bookcases and a new sofa, and without a bottomless pit of funds I seriously need to consider what it is I want on my walls before I put anything up. Once the bookcases were up and filled, though, they kind of highlighted more than ever the huge space on the wall and this was compounded by the large screws where the previous tenants had a massive IKEA canvas hanging there.

I did consider getting a massive IKEA canvas myself but I didn’t really want a world map and nice though a London or New York scene is, I don’t have a particular affinity with either place.  Plus they’re £100 a pop.  So I was back to the idea of “nice pics wot I have seen” emulation. A dangerous idea, they could look lovely or, far more likely, I could royally bugger them up and display them anyway while having to pretend that Poppy did them instead of me.  I looked into the cost of white stretched canvases and realised that The Works (on most high streets) do very cheap ones in a huge variety of sizes.  And that’s when inspiration hit. Kind of. It was probably a bit more gradual than that.

Those of you that know me know that some years ago I had a brush with the law.  Not just a brush, really, more of a large discount hardware store’s brush department. Sorry to bang on about it but if you haven’t read it you can learn about it here. Anyway, my inspiration came from my prison cell, and no, I don’t mean having a toilet in the same place where you eat.  In my cell was a large framed bulletin board onto which we were allowed to stick whatever we wanted (within reason) and on mine I put the myriad photos my friends and family sent me of themselves, places they’d been etc.  Unfortunately drawing pins were very hard to come by and blu-tak wasn’t allowed so I stuck them on with the cheap free toothpaste we used to get, apparently an old squaddie trick, effective for a short time until it dried out and made a dusty toothpastey mess on the floor. I have a large number of photo prints and thousands upon thousands of digital photographs so I thought I’d order a load more and see what they would look like stuck to a large plain canvas or two, this time stuck with double-sided tape rather than toothpaste.  I bought two 50×40 inch canvases for £14.99 each, ordered 200 or so prints for about £15 and a couple of rolls of double sided tape.  It took many hours for Number 1 son and I to finish it but we really think it was worth it and every time you look you see something different, including a couple of duplicates we didn’t spot at the time. We’re now thinking of photoshopping Wally into one of the photos to see if people can find him!

For Jules

For Jules

It fills me with great sadness to be doing this again so soon but today I’m remembering and shedding some more tears for an old friend, Julian Ravenhall, who died unexpectedly in his sleep this weekend at the tender age of 36.  I’d known him since I was 17, he’d been my friend, my teenaged boyfriend and then my friend again.  He’s the only boy that ever dumped me (I think – I’m sure someone will pipe up and correct me) and I was devastated, I thought the world had ended.  I’m a bit embarrassed about that now if I’m honest, but at the time there was much wailing and hand-wringing and my poor bemused parents didn’t know what to do with me.  Looking at the photos of my teenaged self, with my frizzy pube-like hair and Deirdre Barlow glasses I now think he deserved a medal, poor boy. Yikes.

We met in the pub, as you do.  The Air Balloon in Portsmouth in the early 90s was the place where all the young rockers hung out, especially the underage ones like me because they asked no questions.  I must have looked no older than 12, though I thought I looked very grown up, especially as my friends and I always overdressed for the occasion, the occasion being Saturday Night.  Every single Saturday Night.  We’d often walk the length of the city to get there in silly heels to save beer money and then get horribly drunk on snakebite and black. Delicious!  The faces you’d see there were the same every weekend, everyone collected in little groups and would hang about in the same part of the pub, week in, week out.  As well as the groups though there were “floaters” who seemed to know everyone and my friends and I used to do circuits of the pub so we could take in the different groups and enjoy a drunken laugh or bit of a dance with as many people as possible.  These were sociable times.

Around the time I met Jules he and his friends used to hang about in an odd little side room away from the bar.  They were a bit of an intimidating bunch of blokes (to me anyway) and they always seemed as though they were having a joke at your expense.  They weren’t but remember I was scared of most things at this tender age AND I had godawful hair and glasses.  In spite of being a bit scared of them I liked them and often used to join them in their little room.  They almost all had “rocker” uniform: long hair, band t-shirts, studded belts etc.  Jules was no exception, he had the most beautiful long naturally blond hair and would always wear light blue jeans, a band t-shirt and a denim jacket with band patches sewn on it.  Bless.  When we first met I remember I thought he was a bit uncool with all his denim (after all, all the cool boys wore black) but somehow at the end of most drunken nights I’d end up snogging him.  I really hope my mum’s not reading this.  In fact, the reason I ended up going out with him in the end was because he was such a bloody good kisser. I really really REALLY hope my mum’s not reading this. And my husband!

Ahem.  So, for the best part of a year when I was about 17 and he was 18 Julian was my boyfriend.  I met his family, his lovely mum Sue and his stepdad Derek and they were always very friendly and welcoming.  As the youngest child, Jules was clearly the apple of his mother’s eye and he had a great relationship with Derek who he regarded as his father.  It was lovely to see because I can’t imagine 18 year old boys are especially easy to deal with.  He had older siblings too with whom he had typical sibling relationships: love/hate.  From his older brother James I received one of my many nicknames: Fifi Fluffikins.  He still calls me that now, so kind.  As a 17 year old girl I was a bit new to having boyfriends. Sure, I’d had a couple before but this time I was really keen.  So keen in fact that I changed my interests to be more in line with his.  I had always enjoyed similar musical taste but now I went all out, even liking the bands I’d not been so sure about like Thunder and Little Angels. I started walking more like he did, he always walked everywhere because he’d never learned to ride a bike.  And I had a sudden overwhelming interest in Star Trek Deep Space Nine.  And horror novels.  And Mortal Kombat which he and his friends used to play down in the arcades on Southsea seafront.  I even made my parents buy it for me to play on my Sega Megadrive. I never could quite get my head round Manga comics though.  Or roleplaying games.  But that’s just as well because there was an important rule with roleplaying: NO GIRLFRIENDS ALLOWED.  I fancied myself in love, in the way that 17 year old girls do, and so when he told me he didn’t love me any more I really was heartbroken.  It seems silly now but I know I cried for days and days.  Somehow though we stayed friends.  Not close friends exactly but friends nonetheless.  We would always have a nice chat if we bumped into each other and he would always introduce me to whoever he was with as his “ex-girlfriend” even when it had been 10+ years since it was over.  I always had a suspicion that was because my appearance had improved drastically since my frizzy Deirdre days, sorry Jules!

In recent years we stayed in touch via the magic of facebook.  He’d been a bit unlucky in love over the years and I’d often gently rib him for the fact he was still living at his parents’ house.  He would often comment on my status updates too and we’d always have a bit of light hearted banter.  Sadly I hadn’t bumped into him for a long time but only the other day he said how he’s in the local precinct every weekend so I knew where to find him.  I just took it for granted that that was where he’d always be.

Julian was a lovely guy, fun loving, big hearted, funny and generous, the boy that never quite grew up.  I can’t believe he’s gone.  Sleep peacefully, Jules xxx

A drunken Jules with Harvey in the Air Balloon. Back in the day.

This song always reminds me of Julian.  It’s my favourite song by Stone Temple Pilots and it reminds me of him because he bought me the album for my 18th birthday.

For Lizzie

For Lizzie

At 3:15pm yesterday, Sunday January 16th 2011, my friend Lizzie died aged 41 after a long battle with breast cancer.  I hadn’t seen Lizzie since before the disease was diagnosed because she moved away and I was…er… otherwise engaged (all right, incarcerated) but I can’t help but feel a great sense of loss and have shed a few tears. Tears for my friend but mostly for her children Eve and Jack, who are the same age as my boys, 13 and 11.  I can’t begin to imagine what they must be going through and though they knew this was coming that won’t have made it any easier.

I met Lizzie in the school playground of Hart Plain Infant School when my eldest son started school in 2001.  I don’t know about anyone else but I find school playgrounds filled with other “mummies” utterly intimidating.  There are a number of different types of mummies in the playgrounds I’ve had experience of and each group seems to form their own distinct cliques: pushy mummies, sporty mummies, chavvy mummies, mummies who were in NCT together and toddler groups together….the list goes on and on.  The thing about each and every one of them is that if they don’t like the cut of your jib they will completely ignore you.  It’s like you don’t exist.  As far as they’re concerned you don’t.

I don’t know what it is about me but I’m fine in any social situation except one where there is a collection of parents.  If anything you’d think it would be easier, after all we actually have something in common, children of the same age.  Stick me in a group of other mothers and their kids and I’ll clam up.  Someone will make a bit of small talk, I’ll blurt something inane and that’ll be the end of that.  It really is incredibly odd.  But not just that, generally I find that people don’t approach me in the first place.  I must have “STAY AWAY” tattooed across my forehead, possibly because of my irrational sense of intimidation.

Taking Jake to school was no different.  I’d turn up every day to drop him off and pick him up with my pesky 2 year old Josh in tow, avoid eye contact and then go home again.  Other people had made friends and I couldn’t understand how they managed it so effortlessly.  Then one day Lizzie introduced herself.  Jake and her daughter Eve were in the same class and we walked the same way home.  She also had a pesky little boy in tow and had clearly got fed up with waiting for me to do more than look at the ground every day.  We got chatting on the way home one morning and she invited us round for coffee.  I was so pleased we went round straight away.

Away from the school playground I was a different person, relaxed and comfortable, and suddenly chatting to Lizzie was really easy.  I’d always thought other “mummies” were just in the business of comparing their children to yours and were only interested in extolling the virtues of their precious darlings.  Not Lizzie.  Oh, she was completely devoted to Eve and Jack, but she wasn’t that interested in whether their reading ages were better than anyone else’s.  In fact we laughed about the child at school who’d been pushed into reading early, that child really was a precocious brat.  And her mother had bad 80s hair and a really fat bum.  Hehe.  While Josh and Jack played nicely together (a bit of a surprise) we chatted and drank coffee and ate biscuits and chatted and drank more coffee and chatted.  And I went to the loo about 38 times because coffee goes right through me.

I was delighted, I’d finally made a friend and through her I made other friends, Mel and Sandra and then Gill when the boys were a bit older.  But, I hasten to add, we weren’t a clique.  Though I’m sure everyone was probably a bit jealous of us because we were SO cool.

Mel and I were talking about our memories of Lizzie today and I’m happy to say there were so many that made me smile.  Her lemon drizzle cake.  The way she would stick obvious patches in contrasting fabric on her jeans if they got a hole in them.  Her comedy cat, a perfect circle of a thing with funny little legs poking out of its funny fat body.  It really did look hilarious and no-one knew why it was so fat when it ate the same as their other normal looking cat.  The way she always called Jack a plonker.  The way she didn’t bat an eyelid when Jack took his bottom half off and wandered around fiddling with his willy (sorry Jack).  How Eve is the spitting image of her.  And how Jack wasn’t allowed chocolate because it made him go bananas but Lizzie would always let him sniff it!

We used to take the boys to a soft play centre on some days and sit there with our bottomless cups of tea and coffee and go in and play ourselves, pretending that we were looking for the kids.  We did enjoy the massive slide.  One day I accidentally spilt my fresh cup of tea (which was piping hot) all over someone else’s child who had been playing near the table.  It had toppled off the tray as I went to put it down and I was absolutely mortified, especially as the mother of the child, someone I didn’t know, looked at me as though I was a murderer.  Lizzie offered me a great deal of support on that day, the mother and her cronies…I mean friends…had noisily gone off to A&E and we stayed behind while the boys carried on playing and I felt terrible.  Eventually we received a call to say the little boy I’d damaged was OK and the mother even apologised to me.  I couldn’t have got through that without the support Lizzie gave me, even though it seems fairly trivial now.

Oh, and our girlie weekend!  A weekend of pampering in Coventry (er, not sure why it was in Coventry) organised as a coach trip by our local paper’s (filthy rag The News) “Privilege Club”.  The four of us went, me, Lizzie, Mel and Sandra and we were allowed to enjoy the hotel’s pool, Jacuzzi and sauna plus a treatment and then have a day’s shopping in Solihull the next day.  The coach driver was a nutter, careering along the roads to Coventry and talking drivel into the microphone as he was going.  That’s probably illegal now.  How we laughed, he was a bit like a cheesy DJ that talks utter nonsense.  When we got there we were greeted by a vision of aging Brummy loveliness, whose name sadly escapes me although she pronounced it funny to make it sound posher than it was.  I seem to remember lots of giggling from our naughty little group, especially because the lunatic driver was trying to flirt with her.  We had a great weekend, lots of laughs, nice massages (Mel went for the full body one which included buttocks, the rest of us played it safe) and then our shopping trip.  The shopping trip was funniest of all and is how I remember Lizzie best.  While Mel and I were trying on “bedroom shoes” and clothes we’d never normally be seen dead in, Lizzie was buying new clothes and toys for her kids.  Even on a weekend which was just for us she was putting her kids first.

I’m really sad that we lost touch when she moved away but I am hoping to make up for it in a small way by running the Race for Life 10k in Portsmouth with Mel on Sunday 24th July 2011 in Lizzie’s memory.

You can sponsor me here:

Dreams of childhood (Part 5)

Dreams of childhood (Part 5)

School dinners.  Two words guaranteed to strike fear into the heart of pretty much any adult.  Long before Jamie Oliver came along with his campaign to banish turkey twizzlers and chips with everything, indeed long before turkey twizzlers were even invented schools across the UK were churning out good, wholesome meals to children, right?  Weren’t they?  Of course not.  Show me a man who enjoyed his school dinners and I’ll show you a man who either has no taste buds or thinks dog food is haute cuisine.  My primary school was no exception and this is something I’ll never quite understand.  My school was a small independent (i.e. fee paying) preparatory school so if anything I’d have hoped for decent meals, with a higher budget than you might expect in the infant school down the road.  But no.  They clearly put all their funds into buying that turquoise carpet in the main house because come lunch time all they had the money left for was some cheap catering sized barrels of baked beans and, well, floor scrapings by the look and taste of it.  It was nasty.

Mrs Roberts was the name of one of the…er….”cooks” that churned out some of the worst tasting food I’ve ever had the bad fortune to be forced to eat.  And Mrs Gilbert was the dinner lady, I can only remember there ever being one.  She was there the whole time I was at the school and may even have still been there when my sister attended it some nine years later.  Mrs Gilbert was lovely, despite the fact that she was charged with making sure that every one of us ate every morsel from our plates.  We weren’t allowed to go out to play until we’d finished.  This mightn’t have been a problem were it not for the fact that pretty much all of the meals were absolutely disgusting.

The problem probably stemmed from making meals from the cheapest of ingredients. For example you’d think that something like spaghetti hoops wouldn’t be a problem.  I loved spaghetti hoops when I had them at home.  But the ones we got at school were vile, the tomato sauce tasting like nothing in nature, tainted as it was by who knows what.  Metal mainly, thinking back.  I can still taste it unfortunately.  Oh and the mashed potato!  I’d seen the barrel sized vats of instant mashed potato stacked up by the kitchen door, but had never dreamed that when mixed with water their contents could be so horrible.  I can’t even begin to explain how it tasted, but it was nothing, NOTHING like potato. And yet lumpy, somehow, despite the fact there was clearly no potato within a hundred feet of it.  The custard was also lumpy.  Perhaps it was made with the instant mash powder, but just dyed yellow.  It tasted foul, too.  There was a curious white custard as well that was reserved for use with chocolate sponge which just tasted of nothing.

If we’d been offered choice in our meals perhaps it wouldn’t have been as bad but we had one option every day and if we didn’t like it it was too bad.  Very few people at the time were vegetarian but if you were then on most days, well, that was tough too.  Regardless of what we were given and regardless of whether we liked it or not we had to eat every last bit.  Even on the days when the “meal” on offer was a lump of cheese, a splat of mashed potato and several over-boiled carrots.  A nod to the budding vegetarians maybe. I’m not sure who dreamt it up but I don’t think they won any awards for culinary genius.  And I hated cheese, still do unless it’s melted.  School dinners were a living hell.  Which is probably why they stopped them all together after a few years and we all had packed lunches instead.  Much better.

Dreams of childhood (Part 4)

Dreams of childhood (Part 4)

Cor blimey, this blog is getting long! I apologise if I’m boring you but I’m trying to keep it in bite size chunks so it’s easier to read.

I’ve already described my delightful school uniform to you and when I first joined the school there were some very tasteful accessories to “complement” it. In the winter months the girls had a lovely brown hat, kind of bowl shaped with a mustardy yellow ribbon and the school badge in the centre. I seem to remember the boys had little brown caps, like Just William. But brown,obviously. In the summer months we had a straw boater with the same ribbon trim. I’m pretty sure there was lots of swearing from my mother when she was trying to sew the badge on to that one. During the summer months the girls had a bit of respite from all of the brown because we got to wear a much nicer summer dress, which had very narrow brown, pink and white vertical stripes. I loved my summer dress, especially because it meant we didn’t have to wear those dreadful ties for a while. Here’s a very fetching picture of me in the dress:

Ahhhh, look, we were getting the chairs out on The Lawn ready for prize giving. The Lawn was very special but more of that in a later post. As you know I really didn’t like my school uniform, it was about as bad as it is possible to be. Although there was one way that it could be made ever so slightly worse. How, I hear you cry? Careful now, don’t sit too close to the edge of your seat, you’ll fall off. Well, imagine if you added to the brown ensemble a hand knitted cardigan made from the finest scratchy wool. Extra thick yarn, for the best homemade effect. And why not have one arm longer than the other? All right, I’m exaggerating wildly. But I really did have a hand-knitted cardigan or three, lovingly created by my lovely Nanny. Nanny as in grandmother not childcarer, it was a prep school but we’re not THAT posh. I’ve just had a closer look at the three photos I posted of myself in Part 1 and each cardigan I’m wearing is hand-knitted. In this one it’s even pretty bobbly:

Doesn't that look lovely?

Strangely enough our school sports wear didn’t follow the brown theme at all. For gym classes in the school hall and outside during the summer we wore white t-shirts and blue shorts. Everyone wore the same, boy or girl. Our winter sports wear was a track suit of the brightest red with white adidas style go faster stripes. And the obligatory black school plimsolls of course, year round. I can’t believe they still make them today but they do and one accidental sniff of their rubberiness instantly transports me back to the school hall and games of dodge ball or trying (and miserably failing) to climb a rope. I’ve never been able to climb a rope. Bloody Jenny could though, once her leg wasn’t broken any more anyway.

I was never a sporty child, as my rope climbing is testament to, but my utter lack of ability didn’t end there. I was rubbish at (and a bit scared of) rounders. I was pretty hopeless at netball. I couldn’t swim. Indeed the annual swimming gala was always a painful experience for me given that I was one of only two children in the whole school that couldn’t swim a single stroke. I’m not sure why I was so hopeless at sports but I really was the child that was always picked last for the team. Maybe I was just too shy and pathetic to put myself forward for these things or maybe it’s because I was mentally scarred by my first ever netball lesson. I’ll never forget standing on the netball court, wearing my bright red tracksuit and feeling a touch apprehensive about starting something new with a new teacher, Mrs Oothan. All the boys were on The Lawn where they were going to play football and Mrs Oothan turned to me and asked if I shouldn’t be with them. “But I’m a GIRL,” I wailed, mortified. I mean, I know my hair was short and badly cut, but still. I grew it after that.

Although…here’s a comparison of me and number 2 son at a similar age…

Dreams of childhood (Part 3)

Dreams of childhood (Part 3)

As a child I was horribly, painfully shy. I was scared of everything, including my own shadow. Especially my own shadow. I must have given my poor mother hell because I was one of those children that doesn’t have the confidence to do anything, wants to do it but is too scared and is inevitably regretful because they didn’t. Man, I was rubbish. Luckily starting school is one of those things you have no choice about so, scared or not, I had to go. I probably cried. Actually there’s no probably about it.

School started, unsurprisingly, with Class 1. Mrs Brown was the teacher, a thoroughly lovely and exuberant lady with a shock of thick white hair. I thought she must be about 100 but now I suspect she was 40ish, if that. I remember very little of my classmates at the time although I know a large number of them were in my class with me until we all moved up to senior school. There is one girl I do remember, though, right from day 1. This girl, let’s call her Jenny (because that actually is what her name was), was very memorable for a few reasons: her red hair, her freckles, her loud voice, her authoritative manner. But she was most memorable for her broken leg and its full cast. Now, I’d seen a full cast or two before, my older sister has cerebral palsy and had operations on her legs to straighten them (or something) when I was young, but I’d never seen one on a child so young and to Jenny it was something of a status symbol.

“How did you do that?” I imagine I whispered the question.

“I was running round and round the table and I wondered what would happen if I stuck my leg out,” she told me. Impressive.

Hopefully she’s not reading but it has to be said that Jenny was incredibly annoying all the way through school. I’d like to say it wasn’t her fault. I’d like to. With her supreme self-confidence she couldn’t have been more different to me if she’d tried. In small doses she was fine, though, and she must have already been at the school when I started because I remember her showing me around the classroom on my first day, pointing out the Playmobil and Sticklebricks. It seemed huge, but I expect if I saw it today it would be tiny. Like most reception age classrooms there were little groups of tiny tables and chairs, a separate area where all the toys were kept and an enormous teacher’s desk in front of a blackboard at the front of the room. Every day we were forced to have a “nap” where we had to sit at our tables with our heads in our hands. I hated that because I was never sleepy and time stood still. I don’t remember doing any “real” work in Class 1 but I do remember drawing lots of pictures and making a sheep from cotton wool. All of our sheep were stuck up on the wall to make a huge farming scene that went from floor to ceiling and when everyone had finished they got to climb up the step-ladder themselves and stick it on the wall. Everyone except me, that is. I wanted to but I was far too scared.

Dreams of childhood Part 2

Dreams of childhood Part 2

Anyhoo.  Once I’d finally stopped marvelling at how small the world is I started thinking about the school we’d both attended *mumbles* years ago.  It was a small independent preparatory school in the Hampshire market town of Petersfield, and I loved absolutely everything about it.  I was there from the age of 4 or 5 until I went to senior school at 11 and every memory I have captures a sense of contentment and belonging, even the memories that weren’t exactly good.  There are so many things to say about the place I fear I may bore you all to death, but no place I’ve ever visited in my life since has affected me quite like that lovely old school did and it’s such a shame that, while the building still stands, Moreton House School is no more, swallowed up as it was by Churcher’s College in 1993.

This is what the building looks like today on Google streetview, it is the large cream building to the left:

View Larger Map

It has barely changed other than that the front door has been painted a different colour and the sign that was attached to the gates is gone.  If you look closely at the gates you can see the mini door within that the children used to use.  We all loved that little door, and I’m not sure about anyone else but it made me feel a bit like Alice in Wonderland.  Sad, I know.  Beyond the gates was the playground and a hotchpotch of brick and timber clad buildings that served as the classrooms and school hall.  The main building itself wasn’t used for lessons but on the ground floor were the kitchens and dining room, the “library” (which was tiny and was also where we watched episodes of such educational gems as Zig Zag) and the headmaster’s office.  Most of the main building was carpeted in a deep, richly-piled turquoise which sounds horrible but seemed awfully classy to me, especially as it continued up the wide sweeping staircase up to the Wolfe’s living quarters.  If you were VERY lucky sometimes you’d get to go upstairs and see.

Mr Wolfe was the headmaster and we were all afraid of him.  Well, I was, anyway.  I’m not sure why but perhaps it was just because he carried an air of authority, or maybe it was his hawk-like appearance with his beaky nose and gimlet eyes.  He probably didn’t really have a beaky nose or gimlet eyes, but in my memory he does.  He only taught mathematics and that was only to the oldest children in the school so to the smaller children whose only experience of him was in Assembly he was terrifying.  Most terrifying of all, though, was The Corridor that went from the main hall of the main house to Mr Wolfe’s office.  If you were ever naughty the punishment was always a visit to The Corridor.  I lived in fear of it.  For me, the worst thing that could ever, ever happen to me would be to have to stand in The Corridor to Think About What I Have Done.  So perhaps it’s lucky that I was such a goody two-shoes that I never had to, the very idea of the shame of standing in The Corridor was always good enough for me… If only I’d stayed a goody two-shoes!

To be continued…

Dreams of childhood

Dreams of childhood

My childhood is not something I think about very often, not really for any reason other than it is getting further and further  and further away.  I’m almost at the age now where there have been as many years of being an adult as there were of being a child but as I still behave like a five year old most of the time I don’t think I’ll bother letting that get me down.  In fact I’ll make a point of poking my tongue out at my dad later, just for fun.  He’ll like that.

Something happened recently, though, which reminded me of my early school days and made me remember what a happy time that was for me and how much I adored school, at least until I went to secondary school, which I absolutely hated.  It wasn’t terribly exciting, I’d been watching a chat show and Miranda Hart was on it, a comedienne/comedian/comedy actress/whatever you want to want to call her that I rather like.  While talking they showed an old school photo of her and I was surprised because the uniform she was wearing was remarkably similar to mine from my old prep school, Moreton House.  My uniform there was pretty awful, predominately brown: brown pleated skirt, brown jumper, white stiffly collared shirt, brown blazer and the mother of all hideous ties, an orange, brown, green and white diagonally striped affair.  It’s questionable whether or not dressing a child in this uniform wasn’t tantamount to child abuse , quite frankly, so I couldn’t believe there had been two schools in the UK around the same time that would have used it.

Aged 7, looking like a boy

Looking less like a boy...

"Accessorising" to match that beauuuuuuuutiful tie. Nice.

It turned out I was right, a minimum amount of googling revealed that Miranda grew up in the same town as me and attended the same prep school.  Because she doesn’t use her full surname , Hart-Dyke, any more I hadn’t realised who she was, but I remember the Hart-Dykes well because her sister Alice was in my class.  In fact I very vaguely think I remember visiting their house once but that might be a false memory as I’m fairly certain Alice didn’t like me!  I was quite excited by all this and after getting a somewhat lukewarm, unimpressed response from my sons despite the fact they like Miranda too I thought I’d text my mum with “Guess who I went to school with?!” But it turns out she already knew because her response was “Oh, I thought you’d realised.” Cheers for telling me, Mum.  I did try tweeting Miranda herself but given that she has over 80,000 followers I think she either didn’t see it or wasn’t exactly bowled over with excitement by my news. Can’t think why!

To be continued…

Ready for Christmas…

Ready for Christmas…

This morning I got up at the crack of dawn to go to the supermarket to finish all of the shopping.  Except it wasn’t the crack of dawn because it was still pitch black. Stupid winter.  My local shop is a branch of ASDA that seems to attract some pretty…er…colourful people, most of whom are one evolutionary step before Neanderthal Man. Before. I kid you not.  Indeed it seems possible that I’m the only shopper there that has noticed (and is utterly offended by) the enormous sign that advertises “stationary”.  Stationary what, I ask myself?

At 7am I’d rather hoped it would be a ghost town like it usually is first thing but this close to Christmas I wasn’t that lucky.  Today the world and his wife were there, stocking up on the same amount of food, drink and toilet roll you would need to prepare your bunker in the event of an imminent nuclear holocaust.  By Christmas Eve you can guarantee the shelves will be bare of everything. Not just the perishable food you might actually want to eat but all of the other stuff that no-one would normally touch with the proverbial barge pole. Ham in a tin.  Fruit cocktail in a tin with its single bright red, possibly radioactive glacé cherry. Fray Bentos pies (in a tin).  They do know the shops are only closed for one day, right?  Unless they know something I don’t…

Now, I’m really not a morning person, it takes me a good couple of hours to feel anything other than hideously grumpy after I’ve woken up and I can’t achieve this without at least two cups of tea.  But this morning I took the risk and left before my first cup of the day and looking back I can see this was a mistake.  Without that every teeny little thing possible annoyed me.  The woman who covered the entire cheese counter with herself and her trolley (laden with Princes’ Ham-In-A-Can of course) so I couldn’t get anywhere near it.  The six (six!) staff members who blocked an aisle while they stood around having a laugh and a joke.  The Christmas muzak blaring out at 179 decibels.  People with jaunty Christmas hats and flashing Christmas tree earrings.  The dodgy wheel on my trolley which caused me to veer right at all times.  Yes, I know I’m a grumpy cow.  But seriously, going out without a cup of tea inside me was a very bad idea.  None of those things would bother me if they happened now.  Well, maybe only a couple of them.  And at least I’m ready for Christmas now.  Although, on reflection maybe it would be wise to stock up on some tinned ham, fruit and pies.  Just in case.