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I Wake Up in Enraged…

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

Every bloody day. And if I don’t wake up enraged I wake up prepared to be enraged. There’s a downside to this social interaction. For the majority of my life social interaction meant deciding whether or not to go to the pub, which club I should join and who of my work colleagues I could interact with without breaking out in hives, or which newspaper I could read without feeling herded.

I remember when bricks came in to fashion. I despised the way people stopped having real conversations, actually interrupted them ‘oh, sorry…sorry…it’s the phone…’ to have another conversation which was somehow far more important because it was on a mobile phone.  I remember the first time I used one, I borrowed it and hid in a corner under a stairwell so that no one could see me doing this very embarrassing thing.

I was among the first ordinary people to use the internet for socialising. I had AOL on floppy disk. The one before Aol 3.1 whatever that was, I sat listening to the dial up tones and knew that in the next five minutes I could be chatting to someone in Sunderland, avoiding a creep from Leeds ‘a/s/l?’ or teasing a twit from Norwich, or even a  sheltered nerd from California who thought that Wales was in England and England WAS the United Kingdom. All good clean fun, well all fun anyway. There were times in the day when if I joined a chatroom or a forum I could actually be the only person in there for a while.  Given how few chatrooms there were this was quite a feat and soon ceased with the dawn of fixed price net access (we’d previously forked out by the minute…oh yes, one deeply addicted month my internet bill reached well into three figures).

In the early days I learned about trolls and snerts and the downsides of the next. I had my first stalker on the net, which carried through to real life, scarily. Someone who spied on my conversations and then contacted my family with twisted details of them. All very bizarre considering I wasn’t really that exciting.  However, on the upside I also met my best friend, and even got introduced to my husband on the internet.

These are the ups and downs of socialising on the net. The extra joys and facets to a social life that would never have happened before the dawn of this technology, I no longer needed to join a club, I was a member of the human race. Something I hadn’t quite banked on, besides getting to know a wider ranger of people, was the access to the news in a way I’d never encountered before. News on my terms. News that was passed to me by one source and the freedom to check it and research it and look further into it to my heart’s content. And with this ability to learn more about the world came the awakening of my social conscience, to begin really questioning motives and decisions and policies. I’m not saying I was completely passive before. If you ask Beardie he’ll tell you I’m quite passionate about the things I believe in.

One day, in the history of my internet use, I  joined twitter. I didn’t have a clue, I was twitter jerk and didn’t get it at all. I hashtagged like an idiot and bored myself silly and left it alone for a while. When I did come back to it something clicked and I realised I could use Twitter to meet people who interest me, people who like the things I like and who believe in the things that I have a passion for. I primarily thought about music and my new home in Birmingham and how I didn’t want to be isolated in these things.

What happened next has been quite interesting, to say the least. We had a recession and then an election and from that day on social networking has assisted me to understand more, feel more and take part. I feel I have some point to my passion, some grip on my anger. I can write to MPs, Lords, I can have a pop at Tesco, Cameron, hooligans, who ever it is that makes me angry and I can do these things feeling bolstered by the knowledge that so many others feel the same way. Previously I had an idea that people were angry but thought (wrongly) that they were apathetic. They were not, they just needed some way in which they felt they could make a difference. It is not in all of us to march, wave banners or publicly protest in a very visual way. I am thankful that some people are, very thankful. But so many more people now feel they have a way of expressing themselves and feel part of something very important.

Social media is there for us to utilise in whatever way works for us. It might very well be that Justin Beiber is your new god of choice but it could also be that you are frothing with anger at the treatment of Romany Gypsies, disabled people, single parents, the poor, the unemployed, the NHS, the homeless, the soon-to-be-homeless, the uneducated and broke, the about to be educated and broke, the…oh look you get me. There is an awful lot to be angry about at the moment and I suggest that you get angry or passionate, that you do something about how you feel. Buy the CD, write the email, post the blog, make a difference.

My next blog is supposed to be about how to make chicken, sausage & seafood gumbo.  Hey…food…it’s important.

Silent Sunday – Glad that Week is Over

Sunday, February 27th, 2011

chocolates? flowers? Pah!

Silent Sunday

 

Finally

Sunday, December 19th, 2010

Silent Sunday

Silent Sunday – Excelling

Sunday, December 5th, 2010

Silent Sunday

Very Funny

Sunday, September 12th, 2010

Beardieboy and I went out with our friends last Christmas and in the middle of drinking far too much pear cider than is good for either of us he declares to all that will listen that he is going to become a stand up comic. Everyone who does know him of course just grinned like pissed Cheshire cats because they know that whatever he wants to do he will do. He says that no one but me finds it hard to get along with him. I point out that it is very humorous to watch a friend jerking from one bizarre random thing to another and that it’s not quite so fun when you’re the one being dragged along by the jerking nerd beside you. And, in those circumstances, one might occasionally become a tad pissed off at being sidelined yet again for yet another crazy scheme. Now, don’t get me wrong, I find him exciting, interesting, and crazy but he’s equally an utter pain in the arse.

So, anyway…stand up comedy….

Yes, that’s how he started his first stand up comedy gig,  less than nine months after declaring his intention.  To be fair to him, in that time we’ve also done a number of music gigs for our joint project ‘Less for Murder’. Cutely named to elicit a chuckle from all those men and women who have been married 10 years or more and who feel like punching their delightful partners in the sternum every time they grin fakely at them over the Frosties.  We’ve split ourselves into so many different parts that we can barely remember what it’s like to be whole.

We did stop doing creative stuff for a while; for 3 and a half years to be precise. It was truly fucking miserable. In that time I became a compulsive crafter. I knitted, rag rugged, sewed and painted anything that wasn’t bolted down (and some things that were). Still, I felt no relief. I watched Beardieboy barely pick up a guitar and become a shadow of his former self. He was cold, distant and bereft of the things that made him who he really was and who he is is this amazing complex creature full of mystery and excitement.

We moved to Birmingham and knew we had to make changes or lose ourselves, and probably each other. We began tentatively writing music together and discovered that we worked really well together, which is mad really because we argue like absolute bitches.  Music will out, and so, it seems, will comedy.

So, anyway…stand up comedy…

He wrote his routine and practiced performing it like a man who actually wanted to be good at it. No bad thing really, because in the time between writing it and performing it, we’ve had the opportunity to see some utterly miserable stand up with notes written on hands and ill-considered topics. Anyway he practiced like he had OCD and when it came down to the moment of truth, he was very funny. Very bloody funny indeed. I cheered. I raved. But. But, inside I feel a little bit lost. What now? What if he becomes ‘a comedian’ can he be a comedian and be a musician? What happens to the music? What happens to me? Shouldn’t I be happy for him? Shouldn’t I cheer him on and put myself last? Can he be fulfilled and happy if he’s in a relationship with with someone who is not fulfilled or happy? Is it his responsibility to make me happy? It’s my responsibility to cheer him on, encourage him and fill his world with love.  Or at least I think it is. It’s my responsibility to show him I believe in him, to support and facilitate his creative outlet. Is it his responsibility to return the favour? We shall see. I’ve got a feeling my concerns will be put to the test. I have a funny feeling he’s going to be good at this comedy malarkey. Very bloody funny. Very bloody funny indeed.

What a Cheek!

Monday, July 19th, 2010

(pungent smell fills the air, everyone looks at each other and then at the dog)

Beardieboy: Gelert!

5yo: That wasn’t Gelert, it was you!!

Beardieboy: It was not me, I didn’t feel it.

5yo: Well I feel mine, they make my bottom cheeks move.

When Things Go Right…

Monday, July 19th, 2010

As some of you may know I have a beautiful au pair, the latest in a list of beautiful au pairs. Some are more beauitiful than others, this one, the last one, the one before and the next one are the most beautiful, without doubt they have definitely got prettier in recent years. I’ve had au pairs on and off for about 12 years. More off than on with working from home, and convalescing but in that time I have had more than 10 au pairs, the 5 year old has only had 3 au pairs so far. The first one was a raging disaster in some ways and great in others. She was great with the kiddo, couldn’t abide my 15yo and at one point looked at me and said about beardieboy ‘you know what kind of man your husband is…’ She was rude and moody and found a guy while over here (from Paris) and once she’d found him her role as an au pair was the very last thing she needed. After several unsavoury experiences we finally agreed to part and she returned home about 6 months early and immediately emailed me with a heartfelt apology for her rude and difficult behaviour. Yeah, um whatever, but thank you.

The second was wonderful, funny, hectic and great with kids. She was vibrant amazing and full of fun. She was only here for the summer but we loved her so much and we’ve just convinced a family in America she’d be a great first au pair for their year long contract.

The current au pair is leaving on Saturday, she’s been here 11 months and has been fantastic. She arrived homesick and miserable and looked in a state of shock for the first week but she’s grown in confidence and shines like a ray of sunshine and I love her very much as do we all. She is really like part of the family and generous to a fault. Her Christmas presents and birthday gifts outstrip anything we could ever respond with but we make sure she has all her free time, we never take her for granted and include her in everything we do. We don’t want her to go.

Her sister is here for this last week and tonight they gathered us on the sofas and told us that their parents have invited us to Germany for a weekend trip. We’d already planned to go for a long weekend next year but we’re broke and we need to save for it. We listened to their invitation and I could feel Beardie take an internal deep breathe. We’d never wish to insult anyone but we just couldnt’ afford it. As it turns out we needn’t have worried. The family have insisted on paying for our plane tickets and insisted that we must not bring gifts when we go. The 5yo ran round yelping with excitement. She’s never been on a plane.

As a parting gift I have been collecting a charm bracelet for the beautiful au pair: a chilli to remind her of the night she made such a hot chilli con carne that no one could eat it but we did drink a hell of a lot of water; a cupcake to signify all the happy hours of baking with the 5yo; a shopping bag to remind her that she single-handedly kept Birmingham’s fashion stores afloat through the credit crunch; a guitar to signify all the hours she’s had to put up with us rehearsing in the house; a pair of ballet shoes to remind her of all her dancing…and the list goes on. In comparison to the generosity of her family our gift is very small but I hope it shows her how much we care and value her fabulous contribution to our family this year. She may also make a mental note that there is no ‘iron’ charm and may well realise it’s because she’s bloody rubbish at it – you can’t have it all. I’m genuinely upset that she’s leaving and can’t give her too many hugs because I’ll just cry.

The next beautiful au pair just wrote to us asking if she must take out her lip piercing, she’s taken out four others already. We’ve told her to put them all back and that if she can’t be herself she won’t have a good time. Beardieboy thinks we’re due a crappy au pair, I hope it’s not this one.

Nest

Sunday, June 6th, 2010

My boys are up in Birmingham for the weekend. They’re 22 and 19 now and the eldest has lived in his own place for 2 years. The youngest went to live with their Dad when I moved here. Half way through his A levels at the time, it was the only sensible choice and as it turns out it’s been very good for him.

I met and married my partner, who had a business in Birmingham. Our wedding was a day filled with fun and love and went on to prompt a life altering decision to move from my beloved home.

Our Wedding Balloons

At the time of leaving Wales it didn’t seem like a sensible choice, on my part at least it felt like child abandonment. My boy had just turned 17 and was very young in his ways and close to me. I desperately wanted him to come with us but his education meant we just could not move him without putting him at a disadvantage. I made noises about him joining us after a year but in my heart of hearts I knew he would grow away from me.  He didn’t join us and he’s spent most of the last year ignoring me. He clearly still loves me but he’s making his space between us as  he moves into the next part of his life. He doesn’t respond to calls, never keeps promises to telephone regularly and frequently gets grumpy with me if I say anything vaguely motherly.

I remember his brother did something similar at around the age of 15.  Boys, it seems, feel the need to separate themselves from their parents in order that they can act as individuals. My eldest daughter on the other hand is happy to grow up in my company.

It's a Boy! and another boy, and a girl...and another girl...

I say again because when they were little I looked like a young mum, a very young mum having my first child before the age of 20.   Then as my children grew older I seemed to find my style and be an independent person. I had a busy life both as a parent and a musician. Those who knew me as the latter didn’t register that I was the former. I remember when my eldest son was 17 I took him to the pub to play snooker. A local chap who knew me socially laughed and called me a cradle snatcher. He was reddened by the realisation that I was out with my own child.

When people ask me about my children I say I have four and only two live with me. The amount of times I’ve seen a flash of judgment in response is quite striking. ‘Why doesn’t she have all her children living with her?’ ‘Didn’t her ex think she was fit to have the others?’ – I can see the thoughts flashing. I used to justify myself: My boys have left home. Now, I look in the mirror and see the start of crinkles in the corner of my eye, the spread of life across my hips and know that not only do I not need to justify myself to others but I have begun to look like the mother of my children again. Years ago I wondered how I’d handle this process but now it’s here I’m fine with it. I look at my stunning daughter with her burgeoning womanhood and I don’t feel jealous that I’ve lost my tiny waist or pert boobs, I just feel outrageously proud that I made such a beautiful young woman. I look at all my children and feel so glad that I am their mum.

June 6th 2010 I am 42 years old. I am glad that is my age because I have achieved so much already but still have so much to look forward to, watching my children make their place in the world. I am fortunate to have a fourth, much younger daughter, who at five is a reminder to me that I’m still quite young myself. Being the amazing little person she is gives me living proof, like my older children, that I can do great things. Today my boys arrived from Wales. Out my son’s rusty car came a tacky foil balloon. It says ‘Happy Birthday to the World’s Best Mum’. It’s the most beautiful balloon I’ve ever seen.

It's My Birthday

This is a Relaxing Holiday

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

Holidays are tough. If I ask Beardieboy he can never make his mind up, doesn’t want to think about money and doesn’t want to go anywhere that is vaguely organised or ordinary. He wants to feel free. Exasperated that I can’t get any straight answers from him I just get on with it by myself. After all I was a single parent for 10 years, if I can’t organise then who can?

Approximately 6 months before a holiday I begin. I start by choosing a destination. This is based on activities that are available. The more activities the better. Two years ago I had a 17, 13 and 3 year old so it had to be something to suit everyone. For anyone interested that seems to be Tenby though I’m sure Cornwall and Devon would do it too. Then I work out a budget. How much is the accommodation? Do we take a tent, our increasingly rickety caravan or rent something. Then I work out my entertainment budget. I plan to do something every single day, knowing we won’t do that but it’s important to cover all angles. I budget for two restaurant meals usually. I bid for Tesco points on eBay and get them converted to entry tickets to theme parks. I am relentlessly organised. I print out maps, buy extra food each week in the months leading up to it and on the day before I leave I make a picnic hamper. This takes whole operation takes hours of study and planning, weeks of organising and preparation. It’s my family holiday and I want my family to have a great time.

Usually about two days into the holiday Beardieboy saunters down a cobbled street with an ice cream in his hand or climbs off a nerve-shattering ride and declares with his warm shining grin, ‘This is a relaxing holiday. We should go with the flow more often, you should chill out more’.

Love is…

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

My fifteen year old daughter is, so far, blissfully unaware of my blog and my Twitter.  I say ‘so far’ because no doubt she will eventually find them and egotistically search them for any mention of her good self.  I wouldn’t like to disappoint her.

A few months ago she confessed to me that she quite liked a boy she’d met at her church group’s camp holiday last year. I was determined not to be as much of an arsehole as my dear father was and showed her genuine interest without any hint of motherly possessiveness. Now, my dear dear father wasn’t quite so easy going. My first boyfriend, at the age of 15 was a local bounder called Paul. Paul was a few years older than me, which to me meant very little but to my father it meant war. The first time Paul came to our house to take me out I came into the hallway just in time to see my dad open the door and say ‘Fuck Off!!’ before slamming it in the poor lad’s face. Parental love is a funny thing.

Anyway, so she tells me about this boy and, after bigging him up quite a bit, she slips in the fact that he’s 18. I yelped internally and later figured out a way to tell Beardieboy, who is not strictly her dad but, in the absence of her dad , does a pretty good job of standing in for a paternal grinch.

Beardieboy: Fuck Off!

Me: I’m sure he’ll be lovely

Beardieboy: la, la,la I’m not listening, la, la, la

Me: Pack it in…

Beardieboy: Invite him round to dinner, I’ll sort him out

Perishing the thought I did just that and to both our surprise he seemed like a perfectly nice boy. Very young for his age, very sweet. Beardieboy was calmed. My father, on the other hand, called me a bad mother, declared the boy a predator and told me to put my child on the pill. I smiled sweetly, went in my mother’s kitchen and muttered something about getting stuffed.

Now, they only see each other once a week and when they do it’s shopping, cinema, bowling or in our house or his parent’s house, with adults around. So I had been feeling quite comfortable with things. Then, a few weeks ago, I walked in to find them, erm, getting a bit heated. I swallowed. I made dinner and we sat at the table. He volunteered it was his birthday the next week.  I suddenly realised my little baby was dating an actual man. He may be a bit gawkish and geeky, he’s certainly not as wordly wise as my own 19 year old son, but he IS 19.

The beautiful au pair thinks all of this is hilarious, and in a very direct german way, wants to know if I’m worried he’ll have sex with my daughter. I reply by saying that, if she likes, we can talk about her parents having sex. She bursts out laughing and wanders off like I’m the funniest square she’s met in a long time.  So, you’re language skills have improved to the point of sarcasm…hmmm?

Last week, I was in the kitchen (I seem to do that a lot) when the sweethearts came in for a drink. My daughter’s face was covered in bright red blotches from excessive snogging. – remember that! I joked that I hoped she wasn’t allergic to him (I say joked, because I secretly wished that she was allergic to him. More than that, I wanted her to find him boring). I carried on being jovial, saying they’d have to keep their distance if it was an allergy.  I said it’d make having a relationship difficult. Imagine…

Mimicking someone shouting from a distance, I half shouted across the room to him: Heyyy, I really like you

He, caught up in the moment, yelled back: Heeeyyyyyy, I love you too.

I audibly choked and suddenly decided to put the kettle on.  The au pair, who’d been idling by the fruit bowl, suddenly picked up an apple and rammed it in her gob in a bid to stop herself from laughing.  A small amount of embarassed murmering took place and the blotchy couple left, sans drinks. The au pair crumpled with laughter. I just glared at her.

Me: Did you hear that? Did you hear that?

Beautiful au pair: I will help you interrupt them every 15 minutes, we can take it in turns.

Me: Ok.