Friday, March 30, 2007

Today I shall be mostly over-thinking bonnets

Last year I felt bad because for the Easter bonnet parade, I went to the huge effort of wrapping a few fake flowers around a cheap sunhat for S. I saw other parents had gone to much trouble to make wonderful confections of haberdashery and felt guilty.

This year I spent a few hours every day this week creating this masterpiece of a hat.

Am I happy? Sort of, but now I'm worried that I perhaps over-egged it. Ha ha, pun intended. This year I noticed how many parents had simply stuck fake flowers to cheap hats! There's no winning with me. I expect other parents are feeling guilty - or think I'm a woman with too much time on her hands.

They may be right!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


I shall have a surprised (but happy/hopeful) air about me for the next week or so, having seen the news about power-sharing with pictures of Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams within inches of each other, possibly #gasp# having even looked one another in the eye on occasion during their talks.

Badtime rowtine

It has been ascertained by rational minds that pyjamas are the source of all modern malaise.

We know they are evil.

Perhaps not in themselves, but what they represent. Of themselves, they seem innocuous even rather attractive, with their Thomas the Tank Engine logos and patterns. One might even imagine oneself wearing such garb and admire the smiling face of the really useful engine, while contemplating how splendidly trainy one would look dressed in them. But we must not allow ourselves to be lulled by their apparent charms, for we are on a slippery slope if we permit pyjamas. Once pyjamas are accepted, it leads inevitably to the bedtime kiss from Daddy, the horrors of tooth-brushing, the positively demonic story-telling and from thence it is inevitable that the blanket-covering and the night-night from Mummy will follow. Not forgetting the door-closing and the dimming of lights.

This is why it is imperative to resist from the first sign of pyjamas.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Let's talk about sex

I watched Davina's programme on sex education in schools a couple of days ago, and it was very interesting.

I liked the interview with the Minister, where the politician was trying to argue that the Dutch system works better and they have turned round their teenage pregnancy rates (twenty years ago pretty high, now one of the lowest in Europe. British rated 24th amongst Europe, and we were surrounded on the list by poorer countries, rather than those equivalent to our own standard of living and health provision. Shocking.) because parents talk far more openly to their children about sex. Her emphasis was on the parents and it all being about their influence and choice, rather than about providing education.

Davina had her stumped when she responded that the unembarrassable Dutch parents of today were the children compulsorily taught in schools about sex. Not just the biology but more importantly relationships & feelings as well. The Minister was actually supporting Davina's argument by mistake! It obviously really flummoxed her and caught her out. Ha!

Chop chop

If one hacks off a clump of hair (about 4 inches) and no-one makes any comment, is it because:
a. they haven't noticed, or
b. it looks so awful they don't want to mention it?

Saturday, March 17, 2007


It's been a very good week for me, in terms of doing things and mood. I feel like I'm probably acting like a normal person instead of being this slug of depression.

It may be the Spring weather, so I'm a little put-out about the colder day today and the alleged snowfall that is supposed to be coming tomorrow. But I feel jolly good, even so. I have successfully painted the kitchen and the garden is well on its way to being prettified and productive.

I feel very hopeful that the PND has gone at long last. My predisposition for PND is one in a long list of reasons I think we shouldn't have any more children. M and I are agreed on this. It's not a new decision, it's just one that I think about when someone I know gets pregnant, for example. (As a neighbour has announced a couple of days ago). I quite enjoyed being pregnant, or at least I did the first time round, and it's a bit of a milestone to think I'll never experience that again*, and now T is interested in using a potty, my baby is growing up. It's a tiny bit sad and a tiny bit liberating.

The potty is proving a small trial to me already, in that S insists on "showing T how to use it". Or is it just that's she's too darned time-management efficient to be bothered going up the stairs? Fortunately she's keeping it to the occasional sneaky wee - a poo will get her throttled! The novelty should wear off ... and if she does it again, she's disposing of the waste herself. That should put paid to the problem, I suspect.

I brought Gran over for the weekend, and we talked about her breaking in carthorses. On one occasion, a young horse was pulling the harrow when a car went by and startled him. He bolted with harrow and all, my gran running madly after him. She finally caught up with him in the farmyard to find he'd cut himself and the harrow was banged up. Gran waited in tears for hours so she could explain what had happened to the boss, but he was very kind about it, fortunately.

She also talked about how she was bullied in school. The March twins may be dead by now, but their petty cruelties and bullying is still a clear memory to her. A very popular girl who was very good at sport, called Nina, once came to her rescue and frightened them off.

I love listening to my Gran talk about the past. I can sort of picture her as she was, and she's able to convey atmosphere really well. It's interesting hearing the way she sees things and how she sees herself. She has always seemed so formidable and I'm enjoying understanding more about her, discovering her really.

*Or at least shouldn't, if contraception doing its thing properly and nothing dramatic happens.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Painted lady

Today in a fit of pique or Spring fever or something, I painted the kitchen.

Well, three quarters of it.

I should have really managed it all, were it not for having to clean & move furniture as I went. It would have made more sense to clean the oven, wash the dishes and put them away before I began to paint, but that would have put me off! I had painting energy not housework energy.

Tomorrow I have to move the food cupboard before doing the last wall, and it's a choice between taking out all the food or risking trying to shift it full and there being a clank of falling tins, a thunk of jars and a drizzle of rice all over the floor. If you know me at all, you know my choice is bound to be the latter, and the dear old vax will probably be picking up rice for days to come!

S heard a rumour I had painted the kitchen, and went to look over my labour. She came back in and said it looked no different. Yes, it does! It was dirty white walls with various stains and a filthy skirting board. Now it is magnolia. I know, I know, magnolia, paint of kings. But it was free... and it was free... and it was paint!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Digging a grave

Having fun with the children today involved digging up the garden. It's going to be a vegetable patch!

I hope. If I manage to keep up the enthusiasm and everything I plant doesn't die, as I'm not that great with flora. Unfortunately washing the children afterwards posed a few problems, as it seems the immersion has died.

Digging The Grave - Faith No More

It would be wrong to ask you why
Because I know what goes inside
Is only half of what comes out
Isnt that what its about ?
To remind us were alive
To remind us were not blind
In that big, black hole
Digging the grave, I got it made
Let something in, or throw something out ?
You left the door open wide
I know you have a reason why
That knot is better left untied
I just went and undid mine
It takes some time
And the shadows so big
It takes the sun out of the day
And the feeling goes away
If you close the door

A meme

I don't usually do memes, but I wanted to see what this one looked like when I did it.

I'm curious as to how the books for this list were chosen, because it includes more recent best sellers and some of the classics, children's literature, chick lit and some utter toss (Da Vinci Code!).

*Look at the list of books below.
*Bold the ones you’ve read.
*Italicize the ones you want to read.
*leave same the ones that you aren’t interested in.

1. The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown)
2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee) One of the books I read and re-read time and again.
4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)

11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling)
17. Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. The Stand (Stephen King)
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. The Hobbit (Tolkien)
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold) Hated it.
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. Tuesdays with Morrie(Mitch Albom)

31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)

34. 1984 (Orwell)
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38. I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)

45. Bible
Well, not all of it, but I've read quite a lot of it, it's a slow on-going project.
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)

53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
54. Great Expectations (Dickens)
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)

57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrey Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)

64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares)

68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller) One of my all-time favourites.
69. Les Miserables (Hugo)
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)

71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
76. The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)

78. The World According To Garp (John Irving)
79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)
81. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
84. Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down (Richard Adams)
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. Blindness (Jose Saramago)

90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)
93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce)

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Hitler's Canary

I read Sandi Toksvig's Hitler's Canary yesterday. It wasn't quite what I expected: the writing style wasn't outstanding or laugh out loud funny. I remember her mostly as the short one on Whose Line Is It Anyway? (many years ago now). Ah, memories of Tony Slattery, Mike McShane, Josie Lawrence, Greg Proops and that dark-haired chap that does or did Stella Street. What is his name?

It was about the occupation and resistance in Denmark during WW2: the caged bird of the title is how Denmark was derisively known, especially while they had 'self-rule'. But this ended in 1943, because of the increasingly strong underground movement against the occupying forces. The most inspiring, heartening and moreover real part of the tale is where the Danes succeed in evacuating Danish Jews to Sweden when the orders start coming through for them to be taken to the concentration camps. Less than 500 (I believe) ended up in the camps. (Of course that's horrific enough.) Not to mention that some died during the evacuation, but the vast majority out of about 7 and a half thousand people were helped to safety!

Toksvig deals fairly with this: mentioning the German commanders who looked the other way, who didn't have the stomach for the slaughter, and the treacherous Danish woman who exposed the hiding place of 80 Jews. Good and bad actions not being limited to either nationality exclusively.

The story is told through the eyes of a young Danish boy. Apparently it is based on the lives and experiences of Toksvig's own family in the war, although fictionalised in parts.

Matthew Kelly, the man from the telly

Last night I caught a brief glimpse of ITV's thriller Cold Blood, which, as a departure from what you might expect of Matthew Kelly, had him playing a jailed psychopath. I don't know whether he was any good in the role, as I was cooking creole meatballs and drinking copious amounts of vodka rather than watching, but it did strike me as quite a brave move for the man.

He's best known for presenting gameshows and there were some rather nasty allegations about him some time ago. To play a thoroughly evil character must have been a complex decision to make in the light of it being "against type" given his genial host performances and his real-life experiences of being accused of being a paedophile. (Allegations were made, but the police cleared him).

What is most memorable about Kelly was his appearance on Frank Skinner's talk show, where he actually tackled Skinner about the jokes he had made about him and the allegations. It rated quite highly on the (50 or) 100 Most Embarrassing Moments programme Channel 5 showed quite recently. Not surprisingly.

Skinner was clearly extremely uncomfortable with being called to account for the things he had joked about, and had no defence or comeback prepared. I don't think he can have been expecting Kelly to address the issue: I suppose guests are usually simply foils and expected to be "good sports" about perhaps having been the subject of crueler material on previous shows.

Skinner made himself look a complete fool (and rather vicious into the bargain) when he commented that his comedy partner David Baddiel had said Kelly's newly shaven head made him look more like a child-molester than he had previously. It was one of those jaw-dropping moments and he had completely lost the audience: silence greeted this "joke". A real instance where you might have expected tumbleweed to roll by and pins to drop with resounding clangs. Kelly just looked at him. I've no idea how Skinner recovered the show from that moment, perhaps they went to break (or brought on a clown). He didn't even take responsibility for his words as he said them (attributing the statement to absent Baddiel), so he looked a bit cowardly too. Baddiel may very well have said it, but he didn't have to repeat it, (if David jumped off a cliff, would you do it too, Frank?) and it showed he'd lost awareness of where his audience's sympathy was lying.

It's interesting to me because of notions of "fair game" and "what is fair comment?" regarding people in the public eye.

I'm not trying to say that Frank Skinner or Baddiel shouldn't have made such jokes about Matthew Kelly. I think that is probably a matter of taste.

Challenging what was said/joked about on the other hand seems quite important to me. I don't believe we should be able to write/say whatever we like in whatever terms we like, without accountability. If you can't defend it or support it, perhaps you shouldn't be saying it? But maybe just being called on it and shown that there isn't always "no harm done" is enough.

"Humour is the only test of gravity, and gravity of humour; for a subject which will not bear raillery is suspicious, and a jest which will not bear serious examination is false wit." Aristotle

It reminds me of the issues surrounding the Gina Ford ruckus, which I believe still rumbles on with her continuing to threaten Mumsnet with litigation, possibly going to court in the near future.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

More mooning

And some proper pictures by people with better cameras!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Clear as a bell.

Ding dong. [/Leslie Philips]

Fabulous clear night for an eclipse! I can watch it out of my window while blogging, and as it progresses, I'm taking some rather crappy photos of it, but hey...

I see a bad moon rising

It looks like there is a fair chance of getting to see a full lunar eclipse tonight. Just have to hope the weather is kind to me, as it's inclined to showers this evening.