Wednesday, 23 November 2011

To quote Bob Dylan...

The times, they are a-changin'.

Today is Wednesday and Wednesday is the day that the kids go to their dads for the night, so in typical Wednesday fashion we lost the entire morning due to a hunt for a missing shoe (as usual Secondborns left shoe) followed by tantrums from both of them (to be fair Firstborn isn't very well at the moment so I think it was feeling grotty and being hurried along by an irate Mama that did it) and by the time we left the house we were running nearly half an hour late and I wasn't a particularly happy bunny. Now that the Firstborn is walking everywhere we can go the short way to my mums through a side road with one of those metal rail maze things in it that stop cars but allow pedestrians and bikes through if they walk through the maze in the correct way. I could never fit the double buggy through it so we always had to go the long way avoiding that road but now that the Firstborn is walking with me as I push Secondborn in the single buggy it's much easier and we fit. Anyway, the route we take from the house to my mums goes through a park and we like to take our time and spot squirrels and dogs and birds and all kinds of things that get the kids excited and make me laugh and naturally, as it's such a lovely walk, I return home the same way once the kids are at my mums waiting to be picked up by their father. And I take my time, I spot squirrels and I spot dogs and I smile at the birds chattering in the trees and I must look like a right weirdo, a woman with electric pink hair in a biker jacket laughing at the trees... But I do it because the moment I say goodbye to the kids I am overwhelmed with this crushing sense of being more incomplete than I usually feel. But anyway, today is Wednesday and today I walked through the park smiling at the animals as usual. Until I passed this school kid in full uniform, aged no more than about 14 years old, having a conversation on her mobile phone which went something like this:
"No mum, no, yeah I ran out of school... No, I'm in the park now. I'm hiding mum, the police are after me so I'm hiding in [name of park] park from 'em now. Yeah I'll be home later. I dunno, summink and chips..."
And that's where the conversation faded as I had walked past her. I was just thinking to myself "back in my day we had to hide in the park from our teachers during lunch break..." when she suddenly legged it past me. I stepped sideways off the path just as a police officer ran past me in pursuit of this kid, followed by 2 more. As they reached the fenced off Bowls Green area of the park, they had caught up with this kid, unable to pin her to the ground (because lets face it, 3 burly male police officers pinning a 14 year old girl to the ground is never going to look good) they had cornered her against the railings of the green and were trying to protect themselves from her furious swipes and punches. I mean seriously, this kid was hulking out. As I walked past them one of the officers was on his radio calling for backup. Back up for a 14 year old girl. So I wandered on home wondering what she had done in order to need this much police attention at 1:45pm on a Wednesday afternoon and I got to thinking. I hate starting sentences with "back in my day..." because it makes me feel like I belong in either a Hovis or Worthers Original advert from the 90's where I play the part of an elderly Yorkshire born man in a flat cap with a walking stick and carpet slippers but honestly, back in my day things like that just didn't happen. We hid in the park from our teachers during lunch break because one of us had a lunchtime detention that they skived, usually for talking in class. And if we saw a police officer we were polite and helpful because that is the way we were raised to be. We never ran out of school during lessons, (I remember vaguely walking out of a history lesson once and sitting in the library for 20 minutes before returning and apologising but I would never have dreamed of leaving the school premises... My mother would have KILLED me!)  We certainly never did anything that would have meant that we needed to run from the law! I mean, maybe times have changed, it's been 11 years since I left school, maybe things have changed in the way kids are being brought up or taught at school or something or maybe this kid is just an exception (although it was nice of her to let her mum know where she was and what was going on, although I doubt she got those chips for dinner in the end) but I have been genuinely been left with deep sense of unease. Is it the norm these days to have school kids arrested? Is it something I should expect from my kids or is there a chance that I could possibly be able to raise them to behave better? Is it something I should work on or should I worry about what they're being taught at school? Taught by peers and friends? TV and movies? Music and games? Is involvement with the police really the big deal these days that it used to be when I was a kid? I have no idea why but I panic whenever I see a police officer, it's a deep seated fear that I've had since I was a child and I wonder if either I've been brainwashed into fearing authority or that kids these days are simply desensitised to everything, more than we previously suspected...

Either way, I'm not happy. I'm not happy with what I saw today and I'm not happy that I'm now worried that my kids will turn out to be juvenile delinquents (who will cause me to worry so much that my hair turns prematurely grey) through no fault of my own. If it's simply a case of bad parenting then hallelujah I'll be happy working to make sure I do the best I can to ensure that my kids grow up to be honest, hard working, productive members of society, but if it's something new - something developing in the minds of the human race as we as a species evolve, then how the hell am I going to fight that?!

Monday, 4 July 2011

The travel segment.

Hello children. Today I'd like to talk to you all about public transportation. Thrilling I know, please contain your excitement until after the class is finished, we can have a little Q&A after this talk so please refrain from asking questions until after I am finished.

I like trains. Not in a weird thermos, anorak and notepad kind of way but in a "huh, I'm on a train and I'm going somewhere different to where I was half an hour ago" kind of way. I like trains. They go fast, they get you to places, they're a pretty comfortable ride and they often go past fields and stuff giving you something to look at during the journey. I've been on the train a lot recently (by which I mean 3 trips to somewhere and back again, so 6 train rides in total) and everytime I do it I get all excited because I genuinely enjoy being on a train. Recently we've been introduced to the concept of a high speed train service in this little corner of darkest Kent and you can imagine my excitement when I finally got to go on one of them. (it was something along the lines of "oh cool... it's blue. And clean.") I was very impressed when it got me to St Pancras in London from my home town in a little over 90 minutes knocking an entire 10 minutes off of the original journey time. Oh I scoffed at the ways of the past, an hour and forty minutes to get there? I've just made it in an hour and a half! Oh you silly fools and your ancient ways of travel I thought to myself. I had tried saying it outloud but I was only rewarded with funny looks and mothers trying inconspicuously to remove their children from my general vicinity. So a whole 10 minutes knocked off the journey time eh? I thought I should investigate this further. Upon sitting on the train for the second journey I waited patiently for the whistle that signifies that the train can safely leave the platform and began my preparations. (I turned my ipod on and chose a play list) soon enough the train left the station and we began our journey north towards the bright lights of Londonium, City Of Dreams. Within a short time it became apparent to me that the train wasn't actually going all that fast. I could still see hedges and sheep passing me by. I had hoped that all I would see would be a green and white blur as sheep and hedges merged into one as the train shot by at terrifying speed but alas, this was not the case. The train was going the same speed as every other train in the country. The name "high speed train service" was a lie! However, 10 minutes off the original journey... Something had to be going on, so I set about investigating further in order to come to the conclusion of this mystery. As I arrived at St Pancras and began my fast march towards the underground for the remainder of my journey, my mind was ablaze with ideas. The train hadn't been going any faster that usual, I was sure of it. I was fairly certain that it had been in constant contact with the rail tracks themselves for the entire journey, so a team of super-strong train moving angels was out of the question... What could be the cause of this missing 10 minutes? I arrived at my destination and had a thoroughly enjoyable time, all thoughts of trains and 10 minutes completely out of my mind for the duration of my stay until it became time to return once again to my home land. Once on the train from St Pancras to home my thoughts returned. How was I gaining this extra 10 minutes? I had just about decided that it was a mystery I would never know the answer to when all of a sudden it dawned on me. All the while I was watching sheep and hedges slowly pass me by through the window of this "high speed train" I hadn't been noticing the stations! We were passing train stations and not stopping! This must be it, I thought to myself, finally, a clue! I stood up, a face full of excited smiles, beaming at the other passengers as I grabbed hold of this thought process as if my life depended on it. I sat back down again when their glares finally convinced me that this was one mystery that they really weren't all that interested in. I counted all of the stations that we passed. 5 stations. We waited at the stations that we did stop at for around 2 minutes each so if we add 2 minutes on to the journey time for 5 stations, that makes 10 minutes. I finally had it. This was the answer I had been searching for, this was the answer that had taken up so much of my time (3 hours) to figure out! But the train people were still lying! It's not a "high speed service" because it goes at the usual speed, it's only faster because it doesn't bother to stop at certain stations! It's not a high speed service, it's a neglectful service! I wept for the people waiting for this shiny blue train that would never stop for them. I wept for the children that would never feel excitement such as I had felt upon first boarding this beautiful work of craftsmanship. I wept and I wept but as a strong independent short person I wouldn't show those tears. I would brave it out. As I exited the train at the end of my journey I turned back and gave a brave smile. I had been tricked, I had been fooled and I was heartbroken to discover the truth. But oh... I could never hate you shiny clean blue train. You still get me to where I need to go, even if you do insist on doing it dishonestly. I love you shiny blue clean train, I love you so much it makes me ache inside. Please never leave me.

Thursday, 9 June 2011


The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from "Run" to "Hide." The only two higher levels in France are "Collaborate" and "Surrender." The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France's white flag factory, effectively paralyzing the country's military capability.

The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent events in Libya and have therefore raised their security level from "Miffed" to "Peeved." Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to "Irritated" or even "A Bit Cross." The English have not been "A Bit Cross" since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies nearly ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorized from "Tiresome" to "A Bloody Nuisance." The last time the British issued a "Bloody Nuisance" warning level was in 1588, when threatened by the Spanish Armada.

The Scots have raised their threat level from "Pissed Off" to "Let's get the Bastards." They don't have any other levels. This is the reason they have been used on the front line of the British army for the last 300 years.

Italy has increased the alert level from "Shout Loudly and Excitedly" to "Elaborate Military Posturing." Two more levels remain: "Ineffective Combat Operations" and "Change Sides."

The Germans have increased their alert state from "Disdainful Arrogance" to "Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs." They also have two higher levels: "Invade a Neighbor" and "Lose."

Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual; the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels.

The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy. These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy.

Australia, meanwhile, has raised its security level from "No worries" to "She'll be alright, Mate." Two more escalation levels remain: "Crikey! I think we'll need to cancel the barbie this weekend!" and "The barbie is canceled." So far no situation has ever warranted use of the final escalation level.

-- John Cleese - British writer, actor and tall person

Monday, 24 January 2011

Another rant

You know what really pisses me off? Smug parents. Mothers (and to a lesser extent fathers) who bombard you with parenting "tips" whether you want them or not. These parents are the ones who discuss childrens television shows based on it's educational content as oposed to it's entertainment content, they force recipes that they spent 4 hours researching and another 6 hours working out how much salt is in it down your throat, they're the ones who watch you interact with your kids and then approach you with a "hey, I saw you just then, why don't you try [insert some puritanical idealistic idea that'll never work for you here] you might find it will make things a lot easier, ho ho ho!"

Seriously. The next time someone comes up to me when I'm in the park with my kids and suggests I start picking up every leaf and twig I find on the ground because "the kids might like to play with them, they come in handy for so many things you know..." I'm actually going to swing for them. I'm not kidding. Honestly, who wouldn't look like a weirdo scouring the dog-shit covered park floor for dead leaves and shoving them frantically into their pockets while some children, presumably theirs, run around in the aforementioned dog-shit without looking where they're going?? I'm sorry but I love my kids, but not THAT much. If they want leaves then they can go into the bloody garden and get them themselves.

These smug parents are also the ones who will chatter on for 2 hours about how they only buy organic food these days because little Tarquin deserves superior foods... Now I'm sorry, but I'm a mum of two. One is 2 years old (going on 13) and the other is 7 months. The 7 month old is crawling and pulling himself up into a standing position on EVERYTHING whether it's stable or not and I just don't have 4 hours to spend scouring my home town for superior organic foods and, come to that, neither do I have the 5 hours spare it takes to prepare a 4 course organic meal. If I'm tired/busy I will make the boys beans on toast for dinner. They don't care, it's warm, it's filling and it tastes good, as long as they're eating they don't care what it is! I don't do it every day, I prefer them to have a balanced meal but sometimes I'm so rushed off my feet that I don't get to sit down until after they've gone to bed. I write this blog during their naptimes, in between doing the washing, the dishes and general tidying up because by 8pm my brain has stopped working and I'm running on adrenaline and auto pilot.

I have nothing against the type of parent thats organised and can somehow juggle a perfectly tidy house, fantastic meals and wonderful children, but I'm not like that and I don't need little "tips" about how to do it shoved down my throat. I live in perpetual mess, I eat beans on toast and my toddler ocassionally says the F word if he thinks I'm not listening and can't tell him off, but honestly, I like it this way!