Friday, 29 February 2008

Whenever I Feel Afraid

Doo dobe doo doo bee doo...

And more of the same, tra la...

And hopefully that's got that song out of my head. One of the most irritating of late, it has to be said. I'd rather be afraid to be honest. But at least I didn't have to resort to whistling.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

We Made...

A whopping £70 for The Dogs Trust. Incredible. Enough to feed a dog for about two days I reckon, the amount they manage to wolf down.

But seriously, my heart was warmed by the sheer effort put in by my son and his friend. Okay, so maybe the jams and chutneys lurking at the back pushed up the profits a little but the kids were the ones racing around school just before the evening finished cornering parents and making them buy concrete flapjacks (taste tested this morning and they proved edible...just), scones and the last minute rice krispie cakes.

Hats off to them. They were brilliant salesmen. I would have included a photo, but a plate of crumbs isn't that exciting, so here's a cute picture of a dog.

Monday, 25 February 2008

Strike Me Down

Before I start this rant I must make it very clear that I have nothing against strikes. In fact I have been fortunate enough to be involved in more than one picket line in my time.

I, along with many others, shouted "Scab!" with gusto at the poor sods who had no choice but to go through the revolving doors and keep the company going whilst us young, child-free and carefree workers threw caution and our careers to the wind. Funny how the threat of instant dismissal was never carried out though. There was, after all, a company to keep going and sacking, oooh around 50 per cent of the workers (not a bad turnout for the 90s) would have been even more reckless than belonging to the Union.

But that was then and tonight I am very cross. It is 10.30pm and I have just been wrestling around the kitchen with flapjacks that would probably do better as hard landscaping at the end of my garden. I have been trying, and nearly weeping with the sheer toil, to cut them from their tins into little squares to sell tomorrow at my son's stall at parents' evening. Nay, banging the tins on counter tops, dropping them on the floor even. To no avail.

Now, said stall was cancelled because of impending industrial action by non-teaching staff at the school. The non-teaching staff have had my full support in their fight against a lousy restructuring of pay scales that would have seen many take a salary drop of thousands and be required to work at any school with no notice and no continuity both for them and the children they support. My son has already thoroughly enjoyed one strike day, and tomorrow was to be another. The parents' evening was always going to go ahead as teachers weren't on strike. But no one would be around to provide that vital so often unseen support to the teaching staff and the parents, so all stalls, cakes and merriment were cancelled.

I saw this as a thinly disguised "I speet on your strike" from the Head. She was trying to teach by misguided implication that these naughty support staff were spoiling our fun. The fact that although parents' evening was going ahead school was cancelled for, like, the second day in as many weeks, failed to register in her tiny head when assessing the spoiled fun factor ratio. But of course all the children were ecstatic. Bollocks to cakes, they had the whole day off again!

Then, all of a sudden the council decided to 'reach an agreement' at the 'eleventh hour' (as always) meaning that (oh happy, happy day) a slip arrived home in my son's bookbag. Which I discovered at 7pm, having spent the afternoon helping my mother direct two removal men in the art of house clearance over at my Grandma's, now she has moved into far more palatial surroundings.

I digress, with exhaustion. So, at 7pm having just about put together pork chops and mash I sank back on to my perching stool in the kitchen to take the full force of the triumpant note home to parents.

"Due to successful talks between the Council and the Unions, the planned strike action for tomorrow has been called off. Therefore school will be OPEN tomorrow."

And written beside it in red felt tip pen was a big "Oh no!". And I had to agree with my son. But my sentiments involved far more swear words.

"Cakes. Lots of cakes. Now, like right now, before bedtime. Before tomorrow. Oh fucking hell."

So we made chocolate cake and flapjacks. And now I have to go to bed because tomorrow it's Rice Krispie cakes (not even at my most fatigued could I possibly screw those up) and quick biscuits, to replace the unfortunate flapjacks which I am seriously considering making into a patio. So much cheaper than paving.

And all for what? The sodding Dog's Trust. I hate dogs. And charidee events. But my son loves dogs, and has a giving heart. And I love my son. So let him eat cake, and all the other children. Even if it's revolting.

Thursday, 14 February 2008





don't you agree?

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

For My Dad

My Dad died ten years ago today. And again the sun shone with a special brilliance, just like it did on what would have been his 70th birthday.

I hadn't planned on going anywhere, just like back in November when I planned to stay in bed. I only knew I wanted to mark this special anniversary in some way, even by simply lighting a candle before bed.

But the sun shone so brightly, and it shone all day, just like it did the day he died. So I made it to the cemetery, and I stopped by at school to pick up my son on the way. It was all done on impulse. I was in the taxi and this urge just came over me to collect him and take him to his Grandpa. I have a letter to write to thank my son's teacher, who let him go without question. Even the taxi driver was respectful and sympathetic.

I'm so glad we went. My Mum said she was glad we were there. I think she finds it hard going on her own. The flowers looked so fresh and pretty in the winter light. We all sat on a bench in the glorious sunshine and told my son a little about ten years ago, a few weeks before he was born. It would have been great had Grandpa In The Sky got to meet him. I think he wanted to see his first grandchild very much, even just once, but it wasn't meant to be.

Monday, 4 February 2008

Listen To The Music

The other day I found myself enjoying some music. That means getting into it and feeling transported rather than feeling like crying.

I'm so impatient to be able to listen to music again, really listen and enjoy. Three years is a long time to live in silence. So I'm making it happen, a bit like forcing bulbs into flower by bringing them into the warm. It doesn't feel quite natural but I want to burst out, I just can't cope without music any more. Trouble is, at times I still can't cope with it.

I've been experiencing a random selection of transient musical moments in recent weeks. Songs that I try and listen to and have to turn off. Songs that I rediscover by accident looking for something else. Music that I deliberately seek out, knowing I will smile, cry, whatever. Music in my head (a constant) that I've recently started to actually find and play, to release it.

Tori Amos has proved too much, especially because her stuff for me is all tied up with past and present grief. But I still love her complexity and the way she pours herself into the piano. Bjork is a constant source of beauty and wonder. Ditto Cocteau Twins. I love the simplicity of Sufjan Stevens, and the bland but soothing Zero 7. Beth Orton, Lou Reed, Moby and Mika have all been floating around. Debussy, Beethoven and Chopin just make me frustrated I can't play the piano for any length of time, so I'm not ready for them yet. I am seeking alternative (but not so fave) classical stuff from the remnants of my memory. Satie, Faure, Prokofiev, Glass, Bernstein, Copland, Rachmaninov, (never could play his stuff properly anyway), Grieg, Schubert, Bach, Bartok.

New discoveries on the contemporary front have included Sigur Ros and Cat Power, among others I'm not so sure about yet. And that's just by messing about on itunes. I'm finding it very hard and very strange to be trying to connect with music again when I can't listen to it 'out there', outside the house, in a pub or club or cafe. More than one source of noise and I can't make sense of any of it - the conversation I'm supposed to be having, the background hum of a cafe, let alone the music that may be playing.

My friend came over at the weekend and we were playing Scrabble. I was doing rather well, with music in the background, until something I really, really loved came on. Then I couldn't make any sense of the letters. I could only listen to the music. I still won, by one point. My friend was playing upside down, to even things out a bit. My head feels like a completed Scrabble board that's been dropped on the floor.

Friday, 1 February 2008

Clucking Fantastic!

Some excellent news. Social services have increased my direct payments package to four hours a week. That's double what I was receiving before. I look forward to feeling less done in and hiding many more melons around the place.

Some more excellent news. My home support service, withdrawn without notice or explanation, is to be reinstated. I can't stress enough how important having continuity of support has been to me. The two visits a week I receive have broadened my horizons, if only to get me out to the Botanical Gardens or another local change of scene once in a while. And on days where that hasn't been possible I've been very glad just to have a cup of tea and a chat. It took a strongly worded letter (penned by yours truly - my advocate is kind of advocated out I think where I'm concerned), another letter from my CPN and a third letter from a social worker to sort it out. But sorted it is.

Even more excellent news. The shed is up (which means the scooter can be freed from the outhouse) the carpet is down in my son's room (he was freezing) and I have great plans for the garden, if not the energy or the funds. But there are ways and means of making a garden on the cheap. Scatter meadow seed perhaps. Pile up logs, acquire an old beehive and then there's those chickens...I still have a fanciful notion that keeping chickens in the urban environment will be a blast. I know you rural types are all for it, but if anyone reading has kept chickens in the middle of a city, let me know how you get away with it without a) annoying the neighbours or b) risking coming down to fox carnage mayhem or rat invasion from hell of a morning.
The picture shows how I'd like it to be. But being realistic, they'd get everywhere...probably to the local shops if I wasn't careful. So I think some sort of coop with a section of the garden for them to roam in is in order.