The instruction is to find a fleeting moment on the street. This photo was taken during the 2006 World Cup but it could be from any football tournament (including the current European Cup): that fleeting moment every England fan thinks we really could win this time.
If this is summer, it must be spring cleaning. Yesterday was tidy up the garden time. I fought pavement weeds, re-arranged the garden ornaments (old bikes, old pots, recycling bins) and braved the grass.
Today, I spent the past hour uploading photos and writing amusing captions, and WordPress has just lost them.
We are not amused. And neither are you, because I’m not uploading them again.
For the Family Silver to appreciate in the Vault:
For the Hub to outgrow his aeroplane obsession:
For this lovely boy to crawl:
And, of course, for Christmas!
Alexandra Park was given to the district of Edgeley by the Sykes family. We can walk, fish (with a licence and so long as we throw them all back), go on the swings, picnic, play games. It’s a nice park.
Every Tuesday afternoon, a bunch of old men gather on one side of the reservoir to sail boats and ignore passersby.
Why is that an interesting thing to do? Same with remote control cars: why not drive the real thing?
I just don’t get it.
Big Tent’s prompt this week was a Wordle.
I managed to use all of the words in a poem that discusses a theme I keep coming back to.
A ship’s garbage pile
embellished by a child swarm.
Flies; debris; half-eaten food.
A prize: a mouldy loaf -
a feast for ribs, backbones,
Evidence of temporary joy:
laughter, chants, bloated pockets,
sweep skirts aside;
fearing hunger’s contaminants.
There is no welfare; no child care.
They ask no questions.
There are no answers.
As usual, it’s gone as fast as it came; the cupboards are still full and the wallets still empty. We had our usual quiet but lovely Christmas. The Hub and the boys like it when it’s just us. They get to play with their toys and sit around in pyjamas all day. I prefer a full house but I have to say I like not running around after guests and just enjoying myself.
We went to the cemetery on Christmas Eve, as usual. My Dad died on Christmas Eve, 2000. He was a lifelong smoker and lung cancer was inevitable. Thankfully, he had a short illness – three weeks from start to finish. He was 64. He is buried next to a week-old baby and that always reminds me to be grateful for the time he had. I save one flower from his bunch and we go round to the other side of the cemetery, and lay it on the grave of one of Tory Boy’s best friends, who died in his sleep at sixteen, from an epileptic fit. I look at my boy and I’m grateful he’s fit and well.
My Dad, like me, was a scouser and tormented the life out of my husband for coming from Manchester. He always teased the Hub that ‘lots of people come from Manchester but nobody ever goes there.’ The Hub likes that he had the last laugh – Dad is buried here in Greater Manchester.
We usually come home then, and crack open the wine; but this year we have a dog, so we took him for his walk to Abney Hall Park, which is just up the road from us and is famous for its Agatha Christie connection (see the link for details; this post is going to be long enough without historical asides thrown in).
The Hub and I walked around the frozen ponds while the boys went sledding, then ambushed us with snowballs. To be accurate, they ambushed me with snowballs because they respect their father too much to attack him i.e. are terrified of him, as you can see> The Hub had forgotten his walking stick so we couldn’t stay out as long as we’d have liked to, but I was ready for my wine so I didn’t mind. On the way home we saw a snowman in an unusual place: .
In the evening, I went to the Christingle service at my church, where it was my job to cut the red tape and stick it on the oranges. We were also encouraged to make plasticine animals to add to the nativity scene. Perhaps because of the wine, my animal started out as a dog and finished up a dinosaur (a rather fetching stegosaurus, if I do say so myself). The curate was very gracious and told me that all animals were welcome at the nativity, and no-one wondered at the paradox of a dinosaur worshipping at the manger. Mind you, it was a purple dinosaur; and we all know they sing songs about love.
Someone reminded me of Spud’s first Christingle service, when he was three: he started crying when the candle was lit because ‘my orange is on fire.’ This year was the first one that I didn’t have a child with me: Spud has finally outgrown it, and Tory Boy gave it up long ago. I don’t understand how they have outgrown the Christingle yet I still have to read them ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas’ before they go to bed on Christmas Eve. One of those traditions that will always be a part of their Christmas experience, I suppose. On our first Christmas together in 1982, the Hub bought me an expensive card with the poem inside and I kept it and displayed it each Christmas. I started reading it to TB on Christmas Eve when he was two, and I have done so ever since. These days, there’s a lot of messing about and joining in, especially the last line, but my thirteen year old son and his nineteen year old brother refuse to have Christmas without it.
We got to bed at a reasonable time (after midnight) and Spud had strict instructions not to get us up before seven. Adhering to the letter of the law, it was 7:05; what he didn’t tell us until much later was that he had set his alarm for 6:59.
The gift-giving ceremony was a little shorter than usual because the presents were more expensive, but there were no complaints from the crowd (hold your breath now because I am never a pretty sight in the mornings, and worse on Christmas mornings):
I was in a panic all of yesterday: Tory Boy phoned to say he wouldn’t be home until 7:30 tonight. The weather is forecast to be dreadful today and I’ve been worried sick. To take my mind off my problems, I cleaned. I cleaned and cleaned and cleaned until I was sick. Of it, that is. But my house looks lovely and I don’t have to bother with it for another year. All of the washing is dry and I am just going to iron it this morning. My turkey is in the oven and the gammon will follow. The dog will be bathed after his walk. All gifts are wrapped.
I went up to the bedroom last night to do the last-minute presents, thinking it would take about forty minutes. I told the Hub I was going to bed afterwards and his face fell; but he is understanding and he knew I was shattered, so he let me go with only a small whinge. Forty minutes! I was kidding myself. Two hours later I was nodding off over ribbon when the Hub begged to be allowed in the room. I told him to come in quickly before Spud saw anything, but the Hub hung around the door, shiftily scanning for gifts. I was irritatedly telling him to hurry up and shut the door, and I don’t mind mentioning that I was a little shrill, when the Hub suddenly told Spud to come in. I opened my mouth to shriek – and then really did: Tory Boy walked in! I have never been so glad to see a child in my life. I have had sleepless nights all week, fretting that he wouldn’t be home for Christmas. That horrible pair planned it a month ago and the weather played right into their hands. Once I had stopped shrieking for joy and hugging the boy, I gave them a good telling-off, frightening me like that. The Hub pointed out that the ratio of fear to relief was worth it, but he hasn’t been not sleeping in my bed, has he?
It’s not the first time TB has pulled a stunt like this, and he’s in danger of me not believing him in future and finding his room – like last night – full of wet washing. The best part is that Spud came to me yesterday saying that he had overheard his father whispering on the phone, ‘Okay darling; love you sweetiepie,’ and – being of an age when friends’ parents are splitting up at the rate of a banker’s bonus – stayed to listen, terrified that his father (who hardly leaves the house, by the way; and almost always with me when he does) had another woman. When he heard the Hub say, ‘Your Mum will be pleased,’ he knew his Dad was talking to TB. He had a nasty fright but that will teach him not to eavesdrop in future, and bless him for looking out for me. I think he told me about it because he needed a reassuring cuddle.
The thought did occur to me that the Hub and TB were planning a surprise early visit, but I have been so worried and they are such good liars that it flew right out again. TB will make an excellent politician, to his mother’s shame; and I would certainly never know if the Hub was unfaithful without employing Spud the Spy, because the pair of them can lie off the top of their heads and without blinking, and I believe them. What puzzles me is how the Hub got out of the front door (beneath our bedroom) and the car off the drive (beneath our bedroom window) without me hearing him; and back in again with TB. Whatever: I’m not one to look a gift child in the mouth. He’s here and I’m happy; that’s all that matters.
I would post a Christmas photo of TB but they are all the old type, taken before the digital camera was affordable. We don’t seem to have any Christmas photos for the last few years, and that’s because we always video Christmas. It wasn’t a problem until I started blogging. I’ll have to learn to use either the scanner or the Hub’s camera for next year.
Thank you for sharing my happiness today. Whether you are a regular visitor, an occasional, or just dropping by, I wish you and your family a happy and peaceful Christmas.
Retail therapy – why do they call it that? Why not call it what it is? A purse lobotomy. I hate shopping. I’ve hated it ever since our honeymoon in 1985. We went to Cape Town in winter and there wasn’t much else to do, once we’d been to the Castle and up Table Mountain. The beaches were too cold to visit, though we did accidentally stumble upon a shrivelled little fellow on a nudist beach. That was fun.
I’m a little grumpy because yesterday I had my fortnightly trek into Stockport to pay bills. I usually go in on a Thursday but went Friday instead: it was awful. Christmas season is horribly upon us. Add to that a cupboard bare of anything except a stale packet of pretzels and three bags of sugar, and I had to go grocery shopping last night. I hate shopping; and I hate shopping twice in one day squared.
I’m aching all over from walking and pushing shopping trolleys. I’m undernourished because I didn’t eat properly with being in and out. And I’m hung over with guilt for accidentally abusing my dog.
As I left the house yesterday, I accidentally shut him into the kitchen. Not a big deal for most dogs, but ours was kept locked up for about twenty hours a day in a freezing-in-winter- boiling-in-summer conservatory for the first eight months of his life, by his previous owners. As a result, he gets terribly distressed if he’s locked in. We came back to find he had scratched paint off the door from trying to dig his way out; pooped, which he stopped doing indoors once he realised we meant him no harm; and vomited, which is another sign of his distress. We stuffed him full of treats and gave him a new toy that was supposed to be for Christmas. I have to say, we are the soppiest pair of dog owners I’ve known since my in-laws; but he was genuinely upset.
I have to stop feeling guilty because Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer, says they live in the now; and Toby doesn’t seem any the worse for his misadventure – at this moment in time he is stretched out on a chair, snoring away. Just like the Hub.
I couldn’t sleep last night – I ran out of decaffeinated Earl Grey on Monday and I don’t shop until tomorrow – and I lay awake thinking of past Christmases, so I thought I would share one with you; it’s an easy way to fill a blog. Christmas 2006 was not a vintage year. We got our turkey on Christmas Eve and it showed - I have never been so disappointed in a frozen bird; it was as if that particular turkey didn’t want to be someone’s Christmas Dinner. No meat on it at all. Luckily, we also had gammon and duck, though the duck was an unpleasant surprise – so much fat on it, I know now why they don’t get cold on winter ponds. We didn’t have gravy so much as artery-killer.
Luckily, only Mum was having dinner with us that year, Dad having had the good sense to pop his clogs Christmas Eve 2000, once he heard I’d be cooking. He wasn’t so lucky the year we had 22 for dinner and I remembered everything except the setting of the table, so everyone ate wherever they could grab a seat, some inside and some in the garden (in South Africa, don’t worry); and the greedy lot gobbled it up so fast that by the time I served the last plateful (mine) everyone had finished and I sat in lonely and tearful state with the Hub. On the plus side, the washing up was done by the time I was.
We had no problems at all in getting Spud to bed in 2006: he no longer believed in Father Christmas; hooray for the death of children’s fantasies! – although he did wake up at three in the morning. He managed to go back to sleep after rummaging through his stocking, but woke Tory Boy at 5:45, to TB’s vociferous displeasure. Spud then climbed into our bed with the apparent intention of him no sleep, no one no sleep, so we gave in and were up by six-twenty. Grandma was already awake, so it was simply a matter of toilet breaks, tea all round, video camera at the ready, and then the boys were allowed into the living room to receive their gifts. Once they’d had a good poke around their booty piles we all sat to unwrap the under-the-tree gifts. That took a good two hours, what with all the squealing and ‘thank yous’ and sorting of gift wrap, bows and ribbons into appropriate recycling bags.
The Hub is a great gift giver. That year, I got stuff from the White House, including a tree decoration, pin, and cufflinks which I am going to wear every time I have on a long-sleeve blouse, if I can only find them. Unusually, no underwear, but furry socks and a large bag of Maltesers and lots of stocking fillers. He also bought me the bread maker I so desperately desired. I must be the only wife in the world who doesn’t hurl a new kitchen appliance at her husband on Christmas morning. I had wanted one for ages and I used it every day for a fortnight; then about once a month; and now it’s just another dust-gatherer on top of a kitchen cupboard. Why am I cursed with such a listening husband?
The boys bought me thoughtful gifts: Spud bought me the Take That cd I was after (I had to have a little patience but I got it in the end) and a large box of Maltesers. TB bought me a £10 book voucher and a large box of Maltesers. How I love my children, especially when they spend their own money.
I also love my mother, who bought me The West Wing. Need I say more?
Christmas dinner was delicious, reluctant turkey, oily gravy and all, and afterwards we watched a new dvd while Mum snored.
Boxing Day was buffet day; a sort of ‘all-you-can-eat’ for the greedy amongst us, with me at the front of the queue. I always do a buffet on Boxing Day because my Mum always did a buffet on Boxing Day. I set it all out on a table in the lounge and we stretch out in front of the tv we taped but didn’t have time to watch on Christmas Day. The only year since I’ve been cooking Christmas that I didn’t do a buffet was the year I didn’t cook Christmas because we were invited out. That Boxing Day, the Hub and his offspring insisted I cook Christmas Dinner on Boxing Day because it didn’t feel like a proper Christmas without my Christmas Dinner. Something to do with them missing the kitchen hysterics and burnt smell permeating the air, apparently. Happy days!
I read a story on Parentdish about a child who drew a picture of his mother in which she appeared to be a pole dancer but she was actually selling shovels, and it reminded me of a similar story from my childhood. My Dad worked shifts and when he was on nights my Little Brother would come home from primary school, wake him up, and wrestle with him. LB’s baby teeth were loose and one time when he was wrestling Dad, a couple fell out. Two days later we had a social worker on our doorstep. It seems that LB had gone into school next day and a member of staff had asked him what had happened to his teeth; LB had innocently replied, ‘Oh, my Dad kicked them out.’
Mum had a hard job explaining that away.
Despite my getting into a tizz over nothing, yesterday was lovely. Tory Boy finally arrived about two o’clock; appeared to genuinely admire his room; made fun of his neurotic mother; and ate my delicious roast dinner. I know it was delicious because there were three dishwasher loads. Dishwasher loads are how I measure the success of a meal: if I’m cooking because I have to and I want it over with, I tend to wash up as I go along and use as few dishes as possible (e.g. cook three veg together in the same pan, like sprouts, cauliflower and peas). If I care about what I’m doing, the kitchen is a mess and the utensil cupboards are bare. So, yesterday: empty cupboards/delicious food/full tummies. Tonight: sandwiches/two knives/one bread board/clean kitchen.
He has gone now <sigh> and phoned earlier to say he was safe back in his room – no train crashes, no murderers on the bus; though he did put his back out, carrying a suitcase full of student essentials (beer, wine, cheese).
I miss him already, but I’m glad to have his room back again so I can store my wet washing.