Friday, 27 November 2009

Fade to Grey

I took My Girl to pre-school this morning and my first thought, as I tried to convey to her the importance of putting up her fleecey waterproof hood, was "bloody weather."  I wasn't in a particularly good mood because head lice is going around at the moment and I find it difficult enough to brush that wild hair just once a day.  To an onlooker, the daily scene of me running around the flat after her with a detangling strawberry smelling spray in one hand and a brush in the other, while she screams "No, Mummy. DON'T," might be comical.  In reality, one of us is crying with stubborness and perceived pain and the other is close to tears with stubborness and exasperation.  How the bleedin'eck am I supposed to check for lice?  And if she's got them/when she gets them, how do I get one of those stupid little combs through her hair (the NHS recommends: "with a fine tooth nit comb methodically over the whole head for at least 30 minutes").  Hahahahahaha - I can just about sit still for 30 minutes, and even then I get a break for adverts, but a 3 year old with a mortal fear of hair brushing!?  This morning, as ever, I pinned her down and gave her really beautiful, really difficult locks a once over and then tried to get her to let me fasten a pony tail so 'the little creatures don't live in your hair.'  She'd go for a small one at the front a la Pebbles Flintstone but would have none of the tie-back idea and, anyway, you can just tell she thinks that little creatures living in her hair would be pretty cool.

My grumpiness soon dissipated once I'd deposited her with wet and free-flying hair at pre-school.  My load considerably lighter for the next 3 hours, I walked home, studying the openness above me as I went and I noticed that, actually, once you get used to it, these grey winter skies are really quite beautiful.  I tuned into the Grey Spectrum and I marvelled at the bluey-grey, juxtaposed with a sort of white-grey, a touch of slate-grey, a smattering of charcoal.   And just look at the layers of cloud and the shapes they create. 

Am I deluded?  Can grey be beautiful?  Am I attempting to dress up this seemingly everlasting weather of cloud, cold, wind and rain?  Is it just a way of getting through the day/winter?  Or am I so used to detecting all those shades of brown in Weston's landscape, particularly when gazing at the seafront on a stormy day, that I can now appreciate subtleties in colour, whatever the colour?

In explanation, I grabbed my camera and darted outside to take a few snaps of grey for you.  I hope you appreciate them because I got soaked!!

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Jill's Garden

Jill Dando is something of a legend in Weston-super-Mare.  Our small-town Mercury reporter made good with a glittering career at the BBC.  A couple of years after her murder in 1999, the Ground Force team built a garden memorial to her in Grove Park, central Weston.

Yesterday afternoon, we played hide-n-seek in the blueness of her shrine and I asked myself, "What is a legacy?"

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

The Answer, My Friend ...

We're back in our favourite place, Worlebury Hill, My Girl with her Barbie - so outed - and me with my camera.   Sheltered up here, the relentless wind hardly touches us but we stop to listen to the trees waving frantically, shedding the last of their yellow leaves, lamenting as they fight to resist the gusts we've all become so used to lately.

"Listen, Lestie, what's that noise?" 

Creak, creak, moan, moan.  She opens her mouth in surprise and gasps.

"What is it Mummy?"

"It's the trees in the wind."

"No. That's not the trees!"

"Yes, it is. Listen, they're blowing in the wind.  Creaking."

"No, Mummy, it's not the trees," she looks at me as though I'm a nut and skips off in her own world.  "Can we have a party for Barbie when we get home?"  This is my fault for singing Aqua's Barbie Girl (Come on, Barbie, let's go party). I just can't help it but, in my mind's eye, instead of seeing the doll in My Girl's hand I picture the fabulous Katie Price, who is so professional and bloody minded that it's almost a relief to call her just that -  fabulous - in a #thereisaidit kind of way.

When we get home, we lay a PINK picnic blanket on the living room floor, scatter cushions and settle down to eat sandwiches, vegetable sticks, fruit and cake.  The three of us, Celeste, me and the fabulous Katie Price Barbie.


The Hello Game @ The Encampment

Your Majesty

The Bristol Channel as the sun begins to set

Sand Point as seen from The Encampment

Sunday, 22 November 2009

What's Brown and Sticky?

What's the strangest thing you'e done today?

Mine must be making a bed for Stick and kissing it goodnight.  Don't worry, we gave him a red plastic ball to cuddle:

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Toilet Humour?

The use of public loos increases forty fold once you have kids, especially when you are lucky enough to frequent Weston's Grove Park.  My Girl is now a very grown up 3 year old who insists on doing the wee-wee operation completely unaided and this gives me the perfect opportunity to take in the ambience of these toilets.  Yes, I know it's unusual to survey a public convenience but really, this place is a treasure trove of either kitsch or plain bad taste.

Happy, summery music can always be heard, often soundtracks from the 1960s, and it's very clean in here though you can smell the Gents next door and, sorry, I just have to do this:

On entering the party at Rik, Vivian, Neil and Mike's house:
Girl 1:  Ooer, smells like a gents in here.
Girl 2:  A gent's what?

                                   (The Young Ones, "Interesting", 1983)

Tacky ornaments and fake plastic flowers adorn the sinks and window ledges, in contrast to the beauty of the naturally lovely park just out the door, and there are always at least two women working here, often spotted in red aprons having a cup of tea and a fag with the bloke in the small road sweeping vehicle.  But it's the selection of photos on its walls that absorbs me.  As you wash and dry your hands or re-apply your lipstick and titivate your hair, you have the delicious company of the following peeps:

Jill Dando (local dead heroine)
Princess Diana (dead national heroine)
Will Young (gay pop idol)
Daniel O'Donnell (dubious Irish crooner)
Sharon Osbourne (feisty celeb wife and manager)
Duffy (Welsh songstress)
Captain Jack Sparrow (fictional Keith Richards with a twist of camp-foolery)
Robbie Williams (international superstar)
A selection of Playgirl male models (really rather unattractive ones with long hair)

They've won awards, you know?  Something like Public Toilet of the Year, 1999.

At the risk of being labelled a complete weirdo and/or dangerous, I sneaked my camera in, just to show you:

Saturday, 14 November 2009

No More Scooter Girl

Would you believe that, about 18 hours after posting Scooter Girl, below, The Scooter broke? I could have shared this gem of an odd twist of fate with you earlier but, you see, the story comes with a compulsory visit to the Confessional.

OK, I broke The bloody Scooter. I can’t even blame the memes.

Thursday was about the tenth torrentially rainy day in a row. Outdoors, we’d done the jumping-in-muddy-puddles-like-Peppa-Pig thing to death and, indoors, we’d completed more paintings than Leonardo, so I thought I’d have a spring/autumn clean. No-one really likes housework, do they? But I dislike it so much and do so little of it that I have to whisper the word. When I say spring clean, it may have been more like a weekly tidy up for many of you: bleaching the kitchen and bathroom, mostly, then wiping off fingerprints from the walls and doors (this for the first time ever, I must admit: the interior of our house was a criminologist’s dream, that is if Angel were more culpable of anything other than pissing me off big time) and, of course, the dreaded vacuuming.

There and then, I made a promise to myself that, when I am eventually sitting anywhere north of the poverty line, I will employ a regular cleaner and I will pay that person double the minimum wage.

The plan had been to get My Girl involved in this rare process, engage her in early training, just in case I can never afford said cleaner. An old, rinsed Flash spray bottle full of lukewarm water and a new dishcloth were her tools and she was instructed to wipe the bath clean of her multi-coloured bath crayon drawings, which I’d meant to remove in September. She did well, the kid, but her concentration waned and she very quickly succumbed to the lure of anything else at all as long as it didn’t involve elbow grease. Like mother like …..

For once determined to get on with the job, I made her a den out of dining stools and lots of pretty blankets and material and left her to her own devices.

Kitchen stripped of grease, onion skins and bacteria. Bathrooms removed of mud, dirt rings and spiders’ webs. Any other shit I would prefer not to have to look at shoved under beds, into drawers and beneath brightly coloured sarongs that double up as throws. Mission nearly accomplished. Right: the mothersuckinghoovering! Floors are what I loathe cleaning the most because they are low down and dirty and for walking all over. No-one should have to subject themselves to backache, whilst casting their eyes in a downwards motion just to ensure that floors are rid of all that crap that inevitably gathers on them, not even cleaners working for £11.60 an hour.

But what if my mum comes round? What if I get an unexpected visitor?

I vacuumed most of the lounge with Artic Monkeys blasting out some and then some more. I had to dismantle the pretty den in order to get to the floor beneath it because if a job’s worth doing…. I pulled out The filthy dirty rotten mud-caked Scooter and bits of brown fell all over my freshly vacuumed cream carpet. For Fuck’s sake! In the den, I realised, The Scooter had been resting upon her white, yes white, duvet cover (with duvet inside, obviously).

I carried the lot into My Girl’s bedroom, dropping a trail of dried mud after me, really annoyed. In her room, she had pulled out all of her clothes, again, and draped them over the floor. What IS the sodding point?!? I delved not that deeply, as it happens, and pulled out my inner petulant child, throwing The stupid Scooter across the bedroom.


“Yes, Mummy.” Butter wouldn’t.

“Come and tidy these clothes up. Now!”

She simpered into the bedroom and I left her there, not really caring whether she was doing as I asked, just so long as she was out of my road.

Two minutes later, she appeared behind me, holding The Scooter’s handlebars and front wheel.

“Mummy, my scooter broke.” ShitShitShitShitShit – snapped in two.

In the spirit of the day, I came clean, explaining that I’d thrown it in a temper because I was angry because she kept making so much mess and that I was very, very sorry.

“That’s OK Mummy. I get a new one for Christmas. A PINK one.”

Yes, my darling, you most probably will.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Scooter Girl

About 18 months ago, I went scavenging around the neighbourhood and came back with a scooter.

It's not strictly true: I was walking down my road and a few doors up someone had thrown out a perfectly good green and orange kids' scooter.  I knew of a very good home for it.

"Ah, it's got a little crack in the base but it's house-worthy. Yeah, I'll grab that and customise it."  So I put a fairy sticker on it, not very imaginative but these were from a collection My Girl and I had picked up in Glastonbury when out on a Fairy Hunt. On that trip, we also found a pretty little rag doll for 25p that she named 'Fairy' and who she still takes to bed with her.  It took me months to notice that someone had dreaded the back of her yellow hair - very Glasto, don't you think?

So this scooter was very much appreciated and I have been dizzy on countless evenings, watching her spin around the room on it like a Whirling Dervish.  Once mastered, it started coming out with us, up and down our local more-than-just-a-gentle-slope hills.  Well, mostly ridden full pelt down the hills by her and carried up again by me, of course.  And how fast she travels; lighting speed with all the agility and skill of a 14 year old on a BMX bike.  She loves it. 

Today we took it to the park, where the wheels collected mud and leaves and inspired a few tears and dirty knees (at one point she went to beat it up after having skidded on the wet ground. Temper, temper, Sweet Thing).  The little crack, however, is growing and, although I hate to spend over-the-top on new items, I think I would be willing to stretch. She gets so much mileage out of this one but I don't believe it will last much longer and what with Christmas coming up?

This is where you come in. Any suggestions for a decent on-the-market scooter for a 3 year old?  Preferably one that will last at least another couple of years?

Thanks x

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Perfect Picture Meme

Tag. I'm it!

The lovely Insomniac Mummy has tagged me. My challenge?  Ask My Girl to draw a picture of her extraordinarily pretty and intelligent Mummy and post it right here to show you rabble.

My Girl spends half her young life painting and drawing and so it was an easy ask, although I must say she does seem to be in the midst of her Minimalist Phase.

Last week I bought her her very first set of marker pens.  "What?  Marker pens, cream carpets, a cream sofa and a three year old?  All mixed together?"  I hear you scream. "You're a loony." 

It's rare I get to live dangerously these days so I threw caution to the wind and paid £1.99 for 8 Crayola Washable Markers from Wilko's and told her to "use them only at the TABLE and NOT on the floor!  And put the lids on when you've finished, please." The face on it; so happy with her new found grown-upness.  The floor is still cream, save the red wine stains, ingrained Weston-super-Mud/Sand, candle wax and baked bean juice but her butterfly top had red and brown marker pen blotches all over it.  Guess what?  It washed out. After one wash.  Marvellous.

Here's what she came up with:

To begin with, she couldn't conceive of drawing me without her
so I'm the purple one

We got separated, sort of. She drew herself on another sheet and put us side by side.
This is me, complete with sun, sky and floor.
I like that my legs go up to my neck.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

The Unfoldlings

I'm having a really good week.  All this rain has meant more time indoors and while My Girl is painting, drawing, gluing, watching CBeebies, I'm plotting, planning and doing.

I've got a brand new project, which some of you will already be aware of. I've started a blog called The Unfoldlings, which is contributing to the research stage of my latest novel and here's the description:

The format of my new novel remains undisclosed but the workings of my mind are henceforth laid bare. You, The Readers, are the Unfoldlings. Each week, I will pose new questions and I'd like you to supply answers, some of which will be incorporated into my own work. I will credit all authors but if you wish to remain anonymous, please indicate this clearly at the foot of your posting. I'm peeing myself with excitement. Are you?

And here is the all-important link:

The Unfoldlings

I really hope you can join in, I'm already having massive fun with it

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Worlebury Hill, Early November

Aka, The Woods or Our Back Garden:

Photogenic camera shyness

I continue to snap away. 
She finds a stick, turns her back and stirs. 
We eat (pretend) leaf soup, our favourite.

It's awfully kind of you but I couldn't possibly.  I'm full to the brim

The sun shines on Brean Down but not for much longer.
We miss the rain by 10 minutes.