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Me And EU

29 Apr

The EU referendum is coming up; I’m feeling a little down because I’m truly undecided: I see pros and cons for in and out.  I’ve been going back and forth on this.  The top and bottom of it is, however, that I feel British, not European.

That got me thinking about what makes me British:

  • The Queen (obviously)
  • Rain
  • Queues
  • Peculiar Spellings (previous answer refers)
  • Earl Grey Tea
  • Big Ben
  • Cadbury’s Chocolate
  • The NHS
  • Polite Silences
  • Football (NOT ‘soccer’) (What kind of word is ‘soccer’ anyway?  It’s just weird)
  • Carry On Films
  • Stamps
  • Snow Panic (Three flakes?  Shut down the country!)
  • Shakespeare
  • Fair Play
  • Humour
  • Austen
  • Pragmatism
  • Coronation Street (even if you don’t watch it, there’s nothing more British than busybody small business owners clustered together down the pub, gossiping)
  • Stiff Upper Lips

None of these things help my decision, sadly – unless Europe wants to make this a republic, in which case I’m throwing the towel in and voting out.  I’m a royalist through and through and I have the stamp collection to prove it.

Tell me, what do you immediately think of when you think of Britain and the British?  Stereotypes welcome here.

 

The Last Five Minutes

14 Apr

We’re going to see Alex in The Last Five Years this week.  If you’ve recently defriended me on Facebook, then you’ve probably already heard that. 

Alex doesn’t get nervous before a show, though he will confess to butterflies. I confess to a whole swarm of caterpillars, and I sweat like they’re shedding their coats in my stomach, especially in the last five minutes before he goes on.

Afterwards, of course, I never doubted for one minute that he’d be fantastic and not forget his lines or hit a bum note or come on stage from the wrong side.  He’s never done any of those things so I don’t know why I worry.  I’m a mother; I just do.

It doesn’t help that my nerves are already jangled from the drive up to Sheffield: Snake Pass in the rain, snow or fog (it’s usually one of those three) is not for the fainthearted; I am the faintest of hearted but I’m a mother; it’s what I put myself through.

This is me before a show:

And after:  

See you on the other side.

Fed Up

11 Mar

I’ve been busy with one thing and another, none of it interesting.  I’ve also had backache, headache, hipache and – of all things – leftbuttockache.

Word has been restored but I ran out of printer ink.  I don’t know how to replace the ink cartridge, but that’s a job for the Hub, anyway.  And he’ll do it as soon as I remember to tell him I need ink.  I can’t think over this left buttock shouting at me all the time.

I couldn’t get warm last night, until the Hub brought me an extra quilt and a hot water bottle.  I’m too warm this morning.

One of the dogs was sick in the hall and I had to clean it up.  I always seem to be cleaning up after one end of a dog or another.  They both need a bath and a haircut. So do I.  I bet they get theirs first.

Don’t talk to me; I’m in a BAD mood.

I did laugh one night this week.  We went to see Alex in a new play, Not From Round ‘Ere.  Think In Bruges in the Forest of Dean.  It was a farce: new writing from student Alex Bushnell, and very funny.  Alex Bushnell had a short film play at the Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for an award, and I could see why. The play needed some tweaking, as his youth and inexperience showed in places, but on the whole it was excellent.

A strong cast (no names for you, because there were no programmes available due to a problem at the printer’s.  That didn’t help my mood) included our Alex, who played seven characters, plus a couple of voiceovers and one chicken sound effect. He didn’t have a lot of lines but he made the most of them, and his simple dropping of a walking stick onto the floor brought the house down.  Sadly, there is no film so I can’t show you; but I do hope to have a photo soon of him in a long blonde wig, cheeky denim shorts, and high heels.

I can’t make fun of him that way just yet, but here’s a video of him at Sessions: basically, student karaoke.  He was one of the last to go on so he’s very, erm, merry. The paper he’s holding has the lyrics on but he forgot he was holding it; and he’s wearing cat ears just because…

Like I said, he was slightly inebriated.

It was nice to see him in a comedy; he hasn’t done one since Lend Me A Tenor: a play rehearsed and performed in a week, at school.  Sixth formers do it for fun after exams.  Here’s a clip:

A few weeks ago we saw him in a concert of André Previn’s unused score of Goodbye Mr Chips.  Not From Round ‘Ere is running until tomorrow night. Tomorrow morning he’s doing Shakespeare for Breakfast for charity; and on Sunday he’s in a preview show of The Last Five Years, which he’ll be appearing in in April, after his week in yet another play at the National Student Drama Festival. Then he’s going to sleep for a month.  Oh no, he can’t, because in May he’s singing in a concert of Lerner & Loewe’s forgotten songs.

In case you think I’ve forgotten Wary Boy, he’s doing well but prefers that I not broadcast his activities i.e. doesn’t tell me much of what he’s up to.  He did get a very nice tattoo on his forearm this week, but I don’t know how to move a photo from my phone to my laptop, so you’ll have to take my word for it.

I’m useless with technology; I can’t use it to share news and it’s always going wrong or running out or wasting my time.  No wonder I’m in a bad mood.

Now I Get It

8 Feb

Before I begin, let me just say that this is the first time I’ve used the new-look New Post feature and I HATE it.  It’s all white space and missing or moved buttons.  Wassup with that, WordPress?

I’m in a bad mood.  I have discovered the point of philosophy, a question which has puzzled me since the summer of 2003.  That was the first year of my Open University degree.  I attended summer school in Manchester – seven minutes away from my house by train; and I chose it for just that reason, having a sick husband and two young children at home.  Plus, I was a wimp in those days. Travel alone in such a lawless country as Britain?  Forget it.

It was a glorious summer (the sun always shines on happy memories) and I had a blast, spending all of my time in lectures and learning, singing in the choir that was composed of almost the whole cohort of students, and playing Medea’s daughter in an amusing stage parody.   I was disappointed not to get two weeks, à la Educating Rita, but loved any break from my adorable family.

I attended a lecture on the piece of music which was the subject of my next assignment and it was so good, all I had to do was transcribe my notes into coherent sentences, giving me one of my best marks that year.  It’s not cheating if you’re just paying attention in class.

Music was not my best subject but Philosophy was definitely my worst.  I just did not get it.  I remember sitting in a tutorial that summer and asking, What is the point of philosophy?  The tutor looked startled and then annoyed, and he didn’t have an answer.  I rest my case.

I wish he was here now, because today I learned the answer: philosophy exists to enable desperate poets to cope with the vagaries of Microsoft.

My Word stopped working.  I don’t know why.  I don’t know what version it is.  I don’t know why I didn’t read the dialogue box that came up every day for a week or more which probably would have told me.  But that doesn’t matter because of course it’s Microsoft’s fault: it is the creator, and we always blame the creator when things go wrong.  That’s my philosophy.

I haven’t been around the blogosphere much because I’m nearing the end of phase three of my second poetry collection: the editing process.  The editing process is my favourite part: the research has been done; the poems have been drafted from thin air; I don’t yet have to brutally cut some of my favourite babies, or put out for a publisher.  All I have to do is neaten, tidy and completely re-write until I’m sort of but not quite satisfied with the work that’s already done.

I edit, therefore I am happy.

I type, therefore I am busy.

I think, therefore I am using the education the Open University gave me.

I stay at my computer, therefore the Hub doesn’t have to see me.

I lose Word and my life falls apart: what am I supposed to do with my time if I can’t edit poems?  I might have to talk more to the Hub [shudder].  What if the world never gets to read my genius because Word owns me?  

Tain’t right; tain’t fitting; tain’t proper (how I miss you, Ross Poldark; please come back to my TV and be gorgeous again).

I may just be losing it…it’s only been thirty minutes since Word said Get lost and I’m babbling like a woman who just lost her Word.

On the plus side, I now have time to read your blogs.  

Sidebar: the architecture block of the 2003 course was fascinating but the only thing I remember is how to identify columns.  To this day, I have a weird finger thing I do to remind myself of whether a column is Doric, Ionic or Corinthian. Identifying a type of Classical architecture is a totally useless skill for me to have but I love that I can do it.

What’s your useless skill?  

A Poem to Mourn a Great Loss

I miss Word.
Word has gone.
How will my work be done?
I’m editless; I’m numb.
This poem is the sum of my madness.
Return, Word, and all will be gladness.  

Now you see how good a poet I am, you’ll understand why I’m going crazy here.

No Need To Nag

15 Jan

I had an email from Facebook: ‘Today is Alex Cosgriff’s birthday.’  

To be honest, I was offended; as if I need some mindless, faceless mass to tell me the date my child was born.

Get lost, Facebook.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Uh…oh…um…nearly forgot: happy birthday, Spud.

Linda & Alex 15011996

Promises, Promises

12 Jan

IMG_0088I thought I’d tell you about two of my Christmas presents: the tourmaline necklace and emerald ring (no, it wasn’t my usual hyperbole; I really did receive a ton of gifts).

Our story begins a long time ago in a continent far, far away…the Hub was in Madagascar on business.  He was always away on business, which meant he spent half his time shopping for guilt presents for me and then only child Baby Boy.  

Browsing a huge market, he came across a stall selling precious and semi-precious stones.  He bought four for around R10 (roughly 2-3 pounds/dollars), including the tourmaline and emerald.

When he first gave them to me, he promised to have the emerald set in a ring as soon as we had some spare cash.  That was twenty-four years ago.

Life happened: we bought a house; he started his own business; we had another baby; we left South Africa; he became ill, etc., etc.  The stones languished in my jewellery box, forgotten, I thought.  I wasn’t particularly bothered; he bought the stones on a market stall – I wasn’t convinced it was even a real emerald.

Fast forward twenty-four years.  It was three weeks before Christmas.  The Hub raided my jewellery box and took the two stones to a local jeweller.  He figured that if he was getting one stone set, he might get a deal on another.  The jeweller was impressed by the emerald – rare colouring these days, apparently; and of very good quality.

The Hub was specific about the setting, because he knows I’m specific about jewellery – I don’t do big or bulky or fancy or showy.  I have a small frame and small hands and I like delicate and dainty and not too much of anything.

He went to collect them the day before Christmas Eve.  The  tourmaline necklace was perfect.  The emerald ring…not so much.  The setting was fancy; too fancy for this Hub’s wife, he knew.  He was adamant that it be re-set in time for Christmas.

It took the jeweller three weeks to get it wrong and 24 hours to get it right.  The Hub collected the ring in its new setting on Christmas Eve, packed it in a giant box to throw me off the scent, and had one spectacularly happy spouse on Christmas morning.

It took twenty-four years but the man kept a small promise he made to me.  That was the real Christmas gift.

Christmas Conversations

4 Jan

November

The Hub: What do you want for Christmas?

Tilly Bud: Nothing, really.  I could do with some new socks.  Oh, and I’ve run out of perfume.  Maltesers, of course.  A large Amazon book voucher.  And somebody better buy me the Outlander DVD or you three are going to have a miserable Christmas.  But nothing, really.  You know I don’t need much.

 

IMG_0044

 

The Week Before Christmas

Alex and I went to the local care home to join in with my church carol singing. We’re a small church but, even so, I was disappointed that he and I were the only people to show up.

Attendant: Who are you here to see?

TB: We’re here for the St Matthew’s carol singing.

Attendant: That’s tomorrow.

Christmas Eve

Here’s a conversation I never expected to have.  I was watching ‘White Christmas’ with Spud.  Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye were performing to ‘Sisters’.

TB: I can so see you and Sam doing that.

Spud: [Enthusiastically] Yeah!  I can, too.  I’ll speak to him about it.

TB: I’ve got the perfect dress you could borrow.

Spud: [Still enthusiastic].  Great!  Thanks, Ma!

*

Christmas Eve Continued

TB: Don’t let me forget the starter tomorrow.  Every year, I forget to prepare and serve the starter.  But not this year!

The Hub: I have faith in you.

 

Christmas Eve Continued Again

TB: Hub!  The dishwasher’s not working!  Argh!IMG_0095

Hub: I’ll fix it.

Three days and seven hundred handwashed-by-me dishes later:

Hub: I can’t fix it. [TB stares] Please don’t leave me.  I prefer hospital. [TB stares] But I’d rather not go to hospital. [TB stares] But we can’t afford a new dishwasher; it’s Christmas. [TB stares] Gulp.

Ten minutes later:

Hub: I bought you a new dishwasher.  It’ll be here on Tuesday.

Christmas Day

TB: Thank you, Hub, for the socks, the perfume, the Maltesers, the other sweets, the autographed photos of Cliff Richard and Chris Hemsworth, the tourmaline necklace, the emerald ring, the Outlander DVD and the twenty-seven stocking fillers.  I told you I didn’t want much; I’m glad you listened.

The Hub: You deserve it all, so sweet and undemanding as you are.

TB: [Blush]

IMG_0061

 

Christmas Day Continued

TB: Dinner!  Enjoy, my darlings.  Merry Christmas!

The Hub: Um, I don’t want to upset you but you remember how you swore you wouldn’t forget the starter this year…?

IMG_0051

Bank Holiday Monday

My brother was visiting from down south.

TB: Did you watch A Gert Lush Christmas? It was so funny.  [American readers, think redneck stereotypes

Bro [Who lives in the general area of the programme’s setting]: It’s really like that.

TB: Seriously?

Bro: Seriously. They had to close Cinderford CSI, you know; they couldn’t solve any crimes.  

TB [Walking right into it]: Why?

Bro: Because there were no dental records; and everyone’s got the same DNA.

 

Five Days After Christmas

TB: Hub!  The washing machine broke down!

Hub: I’m leaving you.*

*Not really; fear makes him babble.

 

IMG_0065

Six Days After Christmas

TB: Right, that’s my sack full of presents finally put away.  Everything was on my desk but I had to clear them to wrap Pam’s birthday present.  You know, I’ve got the feeling I’m missing something, but for the life of me, I can’t think what.

The Hub: The starters?

The Hub: Ow!

 

 

New Year

WordPress: Here’s your annual stats.

TB: Thank you, WordPress!  How did I do?

WP: 22 posts all year?  Loser!

IMG_0086

January 3rd

Friend Pam: Thank you for the lovely birthday presents!

TB: Presents?  It was just one present; the framed painting.

FP: No, no; you also gave me autographed photos of Cliff Richard and Chris Hemsworth.  Weird gifts, especially Cliff’s, but I loved the Chris Hemsworth one. Thank you so much!

*

And finally…less talking, more singing: here’s Alex with his friends, just before Christmas.

 

 

 

Vivinfrance's Blog

mainly poetry, also quilts, pictures, life-writing and the occasional short story.

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