Thursday, 28 January 2010

Kid A

This blogpost was partly inspired by my attendance at the Very Silent Disco in Weston's Dophin Square, partly by Nickie O's imaginative music appreciation through blogging at Typecast and not a little by my twitter friend @dottyteakettle's tweet earlier today, which opined "Praise be for Boards of Canada."

That statement took me straight back to St Mary's Birthing Centre in Melton Mowbray and those hours that I awaited the birth of My Little Pork Pie, stuffing a huge bar of Cadbury's Dairy Milk into my mouth for energy, rolling around on a huge gym ball, high as a balloon on gas and air, bang in the middle of that unbearable July Heatwave.

"I feel redundant," lamented my Mum, the best birthing partner a woman could wish for.

"I feel like I'm at a Festival," I shouted.

In the hours up till midnight, I coped with the flying and the contractions by texting incoherent ramblings to some of my family and friends.

"I do believe you are high," texted my brother from the Noel Arms in Langham, Rutland.

"And you, Sir, are drunk," I replied. "At least in the morning, I shall have a baby."

Radiohead's Kid A was probably offensively loud in the birthing suite.  "Everything in its right place," sang our Thom.  "Absolutely, Oh Wise One," I had to agree.

I waffled, I took in some more Entonox, I waffled some more, I turned the music up, I ate some more chocolate, I was manic.

The midwife broke my waters.  WHAT THE ????

Everything changed. Pain, intense pain. I still needed music but The Head were no longer suitable, I had to listen to something more calming, tunes that would help me to focus, help me to float. And I needed more gas and air.  We wheeled the apparatus into the adjoining room and I laid back in the birthing pool, soothed by the tones of the sublime Boards of Canada.  I drifted in and out of sleep, bobbing, until .....

You don't really need to know the rest but at 3:46 am on Saturday 15th July 2006, she was born.  My Celestial One.

My complete birthing music playlist was:

Radiohead - OK Computer
Radiohead - Kid A
Boards of Canada - Geogaddi
Boards of Canada - The Campfire Headphase.

Thank you, oh thank you, you fabulous British boys. You helped me through, you really did.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Disco Here? Disco There?

In 1984, when I was 15, I sat on a clapped out Bakers' coach with a couple of dozen other excited teenagers and some local football team or other to embark on the Weston-super-Mare/Hildesheim student exchange for a fortnight away from home.  In the main, I journeyed into the unknown with people I didn't know: most of the Priory School bunch I chose to hang around with could barely cope with remedial French, so were never going to learn German aswell.

Petra, the German girl, stayed at our house during Easter and I stayed at hers in the summer.  We had nothing in common - she was sporty and probably quite lovely, while I was bookish yet Trouble. After a week in Weston's 'Twin Town' near Hanover, we, the English contingent, waved goodbye to our hosts and jumped back in the clackety vehicle for our three day visit to West Berlin. 

At the Hostel, I had no worries about ignoring the 10:30pm curfew and persuading 2 other girls to head into the heart of the city to go clubbing for the night, whilst getting another to cover for us should it all come on top.  Looking back, it must have been my first night-club experience, one where we got completely wasted on local beer and watched transgendered dancers giving it large in a city we couldn't navigate (West Berlin in 1984: before U2 had even considered making it 'cool' ) and surrounded by a language we hardly knew.  We sat mesmerised, three English schoolgirls in Dorothy Perkins dresses, while men in skirts and leather groped each other.  It was great!

So, it's hardly surprising that, although I went out dancing about three times a week from then until the age of 18, when I left Weston-super-Mare, I never really rated the club scene here.  It was the same thing, night after night; cheap alcohol, boys on tap and lots of puking (not a noughties pheomenon, this, it's been going on forever!)  I moved to Torremolinos.

Weston just didn't do Disco!  And, 22 years on, nothing has changed ....

A couple of days ago, I got word of a Facebook Group promoting a Silent Disco, booked for the dilapidated Dophin Square area of the town, which would last the duration of one song of choice only.  "Brilliant!" I thought, "It's in the afternoon! 12:30 on a Saturday! I can take My Girl," and I confirmed our attendance, whilst alerting other Facebookers/twits/WsMums to this rare-for-Weston event.  I thought about the tune only I would dance to and that no-one else would be able to hear, flitting from Odyssey's "Shake your Body" (pure disco) to Hot Chip's "Over and Over" (which I dance to as though I'm holding a skipping rope and, therefore, it was ruled out) to Arctic Monkey's "I Bet you Look Good on the Dancefloor" (energy, pure energy).  However, for me, nothing quite comes close to those Essex boys, who were so ahead of their 80s time, Depeche Mode, and my favourtie of theirs and very probably a Desert Island Disc of mine "Enjoy the Silence."  Love that beat!  I booted up my MP3 player for me, charged up the ipod shuffle that my brother had gifted me (jam-packed with my favourite songs, bless him) for her and grabbed two pairs of headphones.

Incidently, I had a Scooby Doo moment as we were leaving the house, when I checked to see whether the headphones worked on the ipod shuffle that My Girl would be using.  I hadn't chosen a song for her; I thought any number would do as long as she could hear some music to dance to and not feel left out.  They worked and which song was playing on a shuffle selects tunes totally randomly?  Go on, guess?  That's right .... I actually looked at the machine and vocally shivered (a sort of "Urghhgh" sound).

We went down The Hill.

I had it all planned so well: get there at least half and hour early so that she can play on the slides in the middle of Dolphin Square, get it out of her system ready for the Disco, and we would even have time to grab a Cornish Pasty from Hills in the precinct.  We ate the peppered potato and meat in pastry and My Girl went off to slide, while I untangled the headphones again.   At 12:20, we went to chat to some friends with their boy and girl and chosen bakery delights.  They were also there for the Disco ("But we're just going to watch.")  Another super-Mum turned up with her baby and fella and 2 ipods or suchlike. 

We noted that there weren't many people milling about - 12:28 - although there were a damned site more than there had been 20 minutes previously.  I spotted a woman standing on her own, hands in pockets, swaying a little.  At about 12:30, we thought we heard a whistle but we weren't sure and no-one was dancing.  At 12:34, we were sure we heard another but still no-one dancing.  Maybe we should have just got on with it and danced but, well, you don't, do you?

Where were the organisers?  Where was the placard to mark the spot?  Where was the fun?

Like, I said, Weston never did do Disco.  Torremolinos on the other hand ....

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Night Night

Historically, My 3 year old has been a bit of a gift in the old sleep department. She's almost always zonked out by 7pm and is up to begin a new day about 12 hours later. Not that she doesn't attempt to get into bed with me at some point between these two posts, often leaving me with broken sleep or, worse, with a switched on brain that mulls over everything from "would that work as a plot line for a blog/book/project/poem" to "I wonder whether Lady Sov's cockiness will endear us to her even more or whether it will be the reason for her demise and early eviction?"  Still, no-one's perfect.

We were doing exceptionally well, with her rarely getting up even once during the whole night.  That was until our trip to London, when we shared a bed at my Nan's for a couple of nights and she got used to me being there, by her side.  It is special to feel the warm arms of your very own little person, the one your body, mind and energy has nurtured and is still nurturing, wrap around your neck and breath sweetness onto your cheek. That is until they decide that they'd like to lay horizontally across the bed or that your back/side/chest/stomach would made an excellent footrest.  Then, I don't know about you, but I cannot sleep, no matter how exhausted I am and, as an older first-time mum, that's infinitely.  Infinitely Exhausted.

I have no idea how she managed to persuade me but, for the past three or four weeks, I've been staying with her till she drops off.  Actually, I do know - she caught me at a weak moment one evening when all I really wanted was to have a post-story time doze and so I snuggled up next to her and we visited the Land of Nod together.  Now she won't let me go and her dropping off time has been getting later and later.

"Tonight," I thought. "This stops!"

I read her two bedtime stories, fought with her to let me brush her teeth (she won) and then explained that her cousin J. doesn't sleep with his mummy (though I think he probably does) and neither did her friend A.  Did she know why? 

"Yes, Mummy, because theys big boys and girl."  And so was she, I assured her, and she didn't need her Mummy either.

"No. I want to keep you, Mummy."  Bless.

"Mummy is just in the kitchen. I love you and I'll see you in the morning."

Then the house turned into a scene from SuperNanny.  No, it was worse than that: the house turned into a scene from SuperNanny USA.  She kicked off the covers, she screamed so that I thought the neighbours might come round, she demanded to sleep with her toothbrush (fine!  Whatever, Wierdo!), she threw her toothbrush across the room, she didn't want Fairy, she wanted to sleep in my bed, she kicked her covers off again, she wanted her covers 'back in a square', she wanted her Incredible Hulk Burger King toy, she didn't want her Incredible Hulk Burger King Toy, she wanted Fairy, she went to sleep.  The whole process seemed as laborious as digging a five foot hole then filling it in again but, in fact, from the time I turned off her light to the time the screaming and demands stopped, just 10 minutes had passed.

Done!  Now all I have to do is put her back in her own bed at 2am when she creeps into mine and when I'd give absolutely anything for a quiet life.  And for some sleep!

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Short Story - The Night Bus

I've just joined an excellent new creative writing community called Judith's Room: Where Women Write. Please check it out. And I would like to take this opportunity to thank Josie at Sleep is for the Weak for getting the community together with such efficiency and lightening speed.

Judith's Room has prompted me to post here one of my own short stories that I wrote a few months ago. And no, there are no parallels with my own life and SOM ... but a relationship with an age difference did get me thinking:

The Night Bus.

She was left-handed. That’s the first thing I knew about her. Then I learned that she had green eyes and that she’d killed a man.

She told me this on the N36 from Trafalgar Square to New Cross, the second leg of my journey home from Hither Green, where I’d just cremated my Grandfather. I hadn’t done it personally, you understand, but the pain was as great as though I had. She asked if I was alright. I told her and she stopped writing.

“What did he die of?” she asked.

“Prostate cancer,” I said.

She put the crossword on her lap and lifted her dulling emeralds to meet my moist eyes, which are brown. She’d killed her husband, she said, he’d had prostate cancer too. I started to mumble my apologies but she waved her hand as if to dismiss such an unnecessary sentiment. I shouldn’t be sorry, she said, his death had nothing to do with me. That she had been responsible for his earthly departure seemed to me to be her own dramatisation of the true events and I empathised, remembering how I had been powerless to ease the suffering of Patrick, my father’s father. I was still raw.

They had been married for nine and a half years, she said, he was eighteen years older than she. His second marriage, her first. I put her at about fifty. Vagaries of her prettiness remained but she was lived in now, like she’d seen a thing or two. They’d had no children together; she’d wanted them but he didn’t because he’d just got rid of the other two, he’d said.  She never saw his kids anymore, because they were his, never hers. They didn’t have much to do with Dad before the illness consumed him - two boys, you see, busy seeing the world or whatever it is they do. Because of his love for his boys, he refused to tell them of his decay until he became too skeletal to deny it. No, the burden of such knowledge belonged to her.

She took him on holiday to Barcelona, somewhere that he’d always meant to go. They packed clothes for four days and medicine for six, just in case. She had loathed Barcelona ever since she’d split up with her student boyfriend there twenty eight years before but it was her husband’s wish, maybe his last. They climbed to the top of Sagrada Familia, he was so determined, and she thought about all of those unfertilised eggs that had passed through her. She wanted to push him off Gaudí’s unfinished masterpiece. They walked down La Rambla but he had to pause to sit, out of breath, and she looked at that old man who she had been saddled with for too long now. She wished to run away from him, leave him helpless, his drugs still in her handbag. They travelled up on the Montjuïc Funicular Railway and she felt the weight of their secret. She imagined him trapped in the carriage as it tumbled down the vertical drop, her watching quietly from above.

On the third day, while he was sleeping under the silent fan of the pension, she got a tattoo of a snake in a parlour next to the café advertising poetry nights in Calle Magdalenas. It was her rebellion, she said, and he never knew. She could never explain why but that snake was part of her future. On the plane, on the way back, she felt the throb of that snake on her shoulder, as though it were communicating with her. She sensed that it might slink over her whole body, awakening parts that had long been neglected. The pain gave her pleasure; it was her pain.

After that, he deteriorated rapidly. She nursed him at home until the doctors suggested a hospice. Once he was comfortably installed, surrounded by his memories, she took herself off to Weston-super-Mare to sample the freedoms that would soon be hers entirely. While she flew with the peregrines at the Old Town Quarry and squashed warm silt between her bare toes at Sand Bay, his decline accelerated. Alone in the hospice, her void was tangible to him, she felt sure. By the time she returned from her breaths of fresh air, he had only hours left in this realm. His passing was a relief to both; he was liberated from his pain and so was she. Her absence had hastened his demise.

“I killed him, you see, because I wanted him to die. Because I wanted to live.”

We sat in silence for the remainder of the journey. At my stop, I got off.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Meeting of super-Mums

Wouldn't it be nice to have somewhere to meet up with other mums on a regular basis, a place that you could dip in and out of when you can or when you fancy? 

The town I live in has a fabulous Baby and Toddler Cafe every Monday, with a bouncy castle and plenty more for the kids to be getting on with while we mums and dads relax a little with a cup of tea and cake.  I have also been fortunate enough to meet other super-Mums through a book club I sometimes go to (only sometimes because I rarely get round to reading the damned book) and I've recently joined a Knitting group that has an instant therapeutic effect on me.

Where do you go?

If you could have a group dedicated to other Mums like you, what would it consist of? What would you like to talk about? Would you want a place to go with your super-Children or are you seeking a child-free refuge just for you and others of your kind?  Do you hope to learn a new skill or would you prefer to just be ...?  Evening or daytime?

I'd be really interested to hear your views on this one.

Thanks x

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Set in Stone

Walking along the road where we live today, under the Woods aka 'our Back Garden', 150 metres or so from our house, I noticed this discarded stone slab. It was divorced from the rest of the poem, as though it was sitting patiently on a grass verge, neither on the pavement nor in a garden, just waiting for me:

r Mirth
a garden
on Earth

I don't know what it had once read, there was no counterpart. It didn't seem to matter: it all makes sense to me.