Friday, 29 October 2010

My Perfect Gal

Earlier this week, I was tagged by the delightful and talented HotCrossMum She challenged me to list my top ten things in my perfect man/woman.

There’s no point listing my top ten for a man, because my beloved man is smokin’ hot.  How could I possibly be limited to just ten things that make him perfect?  He broke the mould, I get a toothache just looking at him – Hi Babe, how’s work?

Luckily, I have been blessed with a large number of fabulous women in my life.  I really do have a lot of them.  From family and friends, to other mothers I’ve met through my kids, I’ve always got someone to reach out to, be it with a crisis, for a laugh, for a cry, for a moan, for a bitch, or just for a ramble about nothing.

So, this should be easy, however again, narrowing myself down to just ten things has been a bit of a challenge in itself, but here goes:

My Perfect Woman

1.       Is an honest person, no matter how hard that is.  Even when I do something stupid like wear jeggings.  Actually, especially when I do something stupid like wear jeggings.  Jeggings are bad, anything that can stretch that far should only be worn by super heroes.
2.      Loves her family, friends and handbags.
3.      Has a crush on Stephen Fry and/or Alan Rickman.  Specifically in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves.  Alan Rickman that is, I don't recall Stephen Fry in the film.
4.      Doesn’t flinch when I tell her I have to wash one or all of the three P’s out of my hair (puke, pee & poo).  In fairness, the latter two have only applied since I became a mother.  The first has been a regular for over twenty years now although it used to be my puke – sigh.
5.      Cannot tolerate any clothing made from polyester – I don’t have a problem with a bit of sweat, but when its green housed in a non breathable fabric?  Why would anyone do that on purpose?
6.      Roots for the underdog.
7.      Doesn’t care anymore that her bum probably does look big in whatever she’s wearing, except jeggings, they are an unforgivable crime of fashion.  They could even be worse than polyester.
8.     Likes a dirty big belly laugh.
9.      Drinks white wine, so when we go out, we have to buy 2 bottles because I only drink red.
10.  Thinks there’s something creepy about the way Tom Cruise is always grinning.  I’ll bet he likes jeggings.  Probably has a pair.

Ok, I did it, I’m sure I’ll realise later I could have done better, but at least I’ll have someone to ring/text/tweet/email about it.

Now, my turn.  I’m gonna tag me some bloggers.  I read you all either via Twitter, your blogs, websites or all of the above and I like your style, so I look forward to your contributions.

Jane Travers

Friday, 22 October 2010

O C Dear

One day, while at a friend’s house watching her freak out over the volume button on the TV being on an odd rather than even number, it occurred to me that lot of people I know have some funny quirks.  Some people may call them obsessions, but I’ll go with quirks because they’re not doing any harm.  I think.

One friend washes her hands constantly.  Another cannot and I really mean cannot shake hands with anybody.  Another can’t handle his pen being moved from exactly where he left it.  I also know someone who has to have their tea bag left untouched for exactly 1 minute 40 seconds in a cup of scalding water and don’t dare squeeze that thing as you remove it.  Ok, the last one is me, but what’s wrong with developing a method of making the absolute best cup of tea.  There’s nothing worse than looking forward to a lovely cuppa and then taking a mouthful of tar or worse – dishwater.

Ok, it’s possible that it is just me and my friends.  Birds of a feather do flock together after all, but my friends come from all walks of life and I don’t remember anyone, including myself, having obsessive compulsions when we were children.

Have people always developed quirks as they got older?  Why do we have them and what triggers them?  I read somewhere once that it’s our attempt to control the world we live in, or at least a little part of it. 

It would be nice to have complete control of our lives wouldn’t it?  Then we would never have to worry about all the things that keep us awake at night.

It’s not possible though.  That’s certain.  We’ve spent years basing what makes us happy on getting what we don’t have and nowadays that seems so silly.  Keeping what we already have is hard enough.

The longer I live, the more I realise that happiness is a state of mind.  You’ve got to want what you have and not waste time longing for what you don’t have.  It’s simple but true. Relinquishing control to the cosmos is obviously our best bet and sod the consequences.  Imagine the freedom of not checking the lights are turned off seven times every time you leave the house and not caring what could happen if you don't hoover your house four times today. 

The strangest thing about my friend who freaked out over the volume button on the TV was that she wasn’t even watching it.  Someone else was, but the knowledge that it was there, lurking, taunting her by being on number 17 rather than 16 or 18 made her tremble and shiver.

On the Brightside, I did get to eat most of the lovely biscuits she laid out for my poorly made cup of tea; I didn’t have to see her squeeze the bag to know she did.  Ah, to hell with it, I think I’ll switch to coffee. 

Friday, 15 October 2010

Happy Birthday Grandpa!

This week marked my Dad’s birthday.  He’s no longer with us, but I like to remember him on his birthday even though he wasn’t a fan of the day himself.   

We clashed a lot, my Dad and me, especially when I was younger.  I complained about him, argued with him, scoffed at his ideas, ignored his orders and regularly used my all time weapon against him - contradiction.  There were months at a time when if he said black, I said white. 

I wish I hadn’t.  He was a good man, his heart was in the right place and right to the end, he tried his best.  Which is the most any of us can do.

It’s much nicer to remember the good stuff.  Like how he could create a gastronomic masterpiece without a recipe.  His laugh.  His collection of hobbies from fishing to brewing beer so strong, one bottle left me a dribbling incoherent mess.  His loyalty to RTE Radio 1.  His kindness to anything with four legs.  How he gave me a bag of twenty one pound coins for emergencies the day I left home.  How he would make up a reason to drive to Dublin on Monday mornings so I didn’t have to go back to my flat on Sunday night.  How the first time I brought a boy home he was cooking dinner wearing diving fins.  His large collection of things that came free with the Sunday newspapers.  His absolute belief that you should always try better yourself with education and hard work.  The fact that on the day of his funeral, my husband drove my Dad’s car to the church and when he turned on the engine Wet Wet Wet blasted out of the stereo.

My Dad had his ups and downs with everything in life, just like everyone else.

What he did do, was leave a family behind who love him.  Who still cry for him and grapple with the pain of his loss.  Our lives are better for having known him and we all have tried harder to live our lives better since.  I wish he had known that would happen.

I miss him and I’m still trying to figure out how to live my life without him.  So far birthdays and anniversaries have been hard.  I’ve dreaded them and spent each one on automatic pilot.  This one was shaping up to be just like the rest.

On the day, I took my children to my Dad’s grave.  I don’t often take them, it feels unsettling for the kids to be there.  It had been a truly stressful and rotten day for all sorts of reasons that there’s no point remembering now, so I was highly emotional and dreading the feeling I get every time I see his name on the cold stone.

However, my youngest sat on the grave like it was the most natural thing in the world flinging stones around and trying to dismember the beautiful flowers my mother had left earlier.  My eldest wanted to give grandpa a present of a sticker; it’s now stuck to his headstone.  The latest new things learned at school were recited.  Then we all sang him Happy Birthday at the top of our lungs in the October twilight, kissed his name and said “See you later Grandpa”.  It felt so nice and light hearted to just say see you, don’t know why I never thought of it before.

So you see, on the Brightside, it’s the first time I’ve left his grave without a pain in my chest.

Maybe it can get a little easier after all.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Why the Rush?

When I was 9 I wanted to grow up so I could cycle a bike to school.

When I was 10 I wanted to grow up so I could be a Charlie’s Angel.

When I was 11 I wanted to grow up so I could eat chips every day for dinner.

When I was 12 I wanted to grow up so I could wear make up.

When I was 13 I wanted to grow up so I could babysit.

When I was 14 I wanted to grow up so I could go to a debutants ball.

When I was 15 I wanted to grow up so I didn’t have to go to school anymore.

When I was 16 I wanted to grow up so I could drive a car.

Some time after that I did grow up (more or less) and discovered it wasn’t all that great after all.

The thing is, at no point on this journey through my childhood and teenage years do I ever remember wanting to actually do the really serious stuff that goes along with being an actual grown up.

How did two 9 year olds who live near me learn how many points are in a bar of chocolate and a packet of crisps?  And why would they care?

Why do we live in a world where a significant number of little girls want to grow up to be Jordan or Paris Hilton?

Why did I have to have something as vile as Jelly Bracelets explained to me because a letter has been sent home from my child’s school banning them?  Who came up with such an idea and why are children using them – they’re abusive and wrong.

I know it’s not just me, kids are growing up a lot faster these days than they used to.

I’m finding it hard to deal with, but in this age of right here, right now instant gratification, how can we teach our kids that this is one of the best times of their lives, so slow down and enjoy it.

They’ll never again have this much freedom.  I’m not talking about freedom to come and go as you please or eat what you want for dinner.  Or the freedom to display on your wrist how far you’re willing to go with someone.  Although I would much rather my kids discover sex in the old fashioned way, as in having an actual relationship with the other person first.

I’m talking about freedom to change your name to Princess Bella Panella for the day and refuse to answer to anything else.

The freedom to ask questions like “Why are bananas?” and be taken seriously.

The freedom to believe the most important thing in the world is a Moshi Monster.

The freedom to spend the day in your pyjamas and have everyone think you’re adorable and not a lazy slob.

The freedom to absolutely believe that if your parents let you watch Camp Rock 2 your life will be complete.

The freedom to have snots run freely down your face and not care, or even notice.

I’m thinking seriously of moving to a field in the middle of nowhere and putting a barbed wire fence around it, home schooling my kids and getting rid of TV and Internet access. 

Bit extreme?  Maybe.

On the Brightside? 

A Brightside to our kids growing up too quickly.

I’ll have to get back to you on that one.

Friday, 1 October 2010

A Quarter Pound of Your Finest Please

Remember buying sweets by the quarter pound or the half pound or maybe even one eighth of a pound if you had already spent most of your pocket money and the sweet shop keeper was nice?

Pear drops, satin pillows, pips, cough drops, mint imperials, rhubarb and custard and my all time favourite – cola cubes. 

I loved cola cubes; I would suck the sugar off the outside and then nip away at the corners until I hit the heavenly reward of gooey chewy stuff in the centre.  My mother still remembers one day in her kitchen after school when one of them took her filling clean out of her tooth.

I loved them so much in my teens that I actually wrote their name on my pencil case which was one of those geometry set tins that had been dropped, sat on and stepped on so many times over the years that I could barely fit one red and one blue pen in it by my last year at school.   I still have it somewhere.

I did write Kola Kubes in an attempt to be cool, but then I also believed at the time that metallic purple eyeliner worn with electric blue mascara was cool, so obviously I wasn’t an authority on the subject anywhere other than in my own head.  In fact I once frightened an elderly man at an ATM while rocking that look.  He looked at me in a nonchalant way, and then gasped grabbing at his chest while his eyes flared open.  Poor man.

There were a number of shops in my home town that sold sweets by weight in the eighties but they’re all gone now.  However, one particular supermarket chain has gone and brought some of them back.  The sweets that is, not the shops - that would be a logistical nightmare.  They probably brought them out years ago, but I’ve only recently started digging my way out of the mountain of everything baby that I was buried under 5 years ago.

To my utter joy they brought back my beloved cola cube – oh yes – its pre packaged and looks slightly smaller than I remembered, but its back.

I was so excited that I bought 2 packets the first time.  I didn’t offer any to my mother.  Instead, I became my mother.  It’s true; the very first one I chewed took my biggest filling right out of my tooth.  Feck it! 

Boy did it hurt, but I wasn’t sure what was worse, my raw exposed nerve ending or the possibility of never being able to have a cola cube again.  Now that I had it back there was no way I was letting it go again.

My dentist was not amused, his list of things I shouldn’t be eating and drinking in order to preserve my teeth has been getting steadily longer since we first met and he seduced me into his practice with his 4 D x-ray machine thingy.  Just to be clear, that’s not a euphemism for anything, it is a very nifty x-ray. 

No more muesli, granary bread, sticky sweets, fizzy drinks, caramel, candy floss and sherbet fruits but the cola cube was a treat too far.  I swear if he attempts to add red wine to that list, he better start sleeping with one eye open, because the gloves will be coming off.

On the bright side, I have been successful in my quest to learn to suck the cola cube without biting.  It’s been a chore, but some things are just too good to live without.