Saturday, 22 December 2012


We have tonnes of Christmas books in our house and we aren't allowed to pass any on just yet, even the crazy board book about the Nativity. That's the one where the animals seem to know when Mary and Joseph are due to arrive and are capable of discussing the ramifications.

We read all our Christmas books at this time of the year, as you might expect, a lot. We all have our favourites.

Tilly's is 'Wenceslas' which is a moody traditional book with lots of blizzard illustrations. I'd be concerned it suggests a dark traditionalist edge to her character if she wasn't also completely obsessed with Father Christmas by Raymond Briggs. And anyway I suspect she likes Wenceslas particularly so she can force us to sing the whole carol every time we read it.

Paul favours the Grinch. Thankfully not because he identifies at all with the lead character. I suspect it's just because it's funny. A darned sight funnier than the film I think.

Phoebe still loves 'The Jolly Christmas Postman' which is such a classic I cannot recommend it highly enough. Although they do still fight over who is opening each envelope every flipping time. And she loves 'Mog's Christmas', my copy of which I've had since 1976 (thanks Joan and Ken).

And then there's me. Weirdly my favourite is one I don't think I had as a child: 'Lucy and Tom's Christmas' by Shirley Hughes. It is simply beautiful and I guess perfectly describes everyone's idyllic Christmas. But there is one page that gets me literally every time I read it aloud. It actually makes my voice falter.

"Christmas can be quite tiring. Tom gets very excited about his presents and rather cross.

So he and Grandpa go for a walk together in the snow, just the two of them. The sun is very big and red."

I can't identify exactly why it gets me. It's the walking with Grandpa line that makes me tearful. I do know I walked with my own wonderful Grandad many times down Burton Road. Not necessarily at Christmas, and not necessarily because I was being a nightmare (although maybe I was). But I remember walking hand in hand. So maybe it's that - simply a happy memory from such a long time ago.

And maybe it's the acknowledgement of of my own kids doing exactly the same.

Mum and Dad are coming for Christmas on Monday. I suspect my eldest might need a trip out with Grandad. Just because.

Thanks Shirley.
(Excuse the quality of the image. This is scanned from our book hence a very poor mirror image. The real page is stunning).

Friday, 14 December 2012

Moan Moan Moan

I apologise in advance for this. Traditionally it's men who can't handle illness. Man flu and all that.

But today it's me. I'm moaning.

It flipping hurts. When I swallow, talk and well just all the time. I'm wappy, dizzy, tired, hot, blah blah.

Now I appreciate in our house it is a bit different. Paul doesn't moan about anything much. If he complains of being ill he is REALLY poorly. I am much more of a lightweight. This I accept. But I just can't stand having a horrendous throat. Anything that stops me drinking, eating and talking doesn't sit too well with me. So I went to see the nurse and took Tilly too since she is still poorly poor thing.

The nurse saw me first and said things like "your glands are a little up". A little? Are you kidding me? Also "your ears are a bit red". Yep keep it coming, just a bit then. "You have a bit of a temperature". Do you fancy using another adjective to describe my symptoms? One that actual matches the pain I'm in? And the piece de resistance "your throat is just a bit red". It can't be just a bit red. It feels like it's full of razorblades.

So I considered myself resoundly patronised.

Then she looked at Tilly who she told much of the same on Monday but who now apparently has tonsillitis. At this point she said: "Ah, well since Tilly has tonsillitis there is a chance you will get it in a few days. You'll have to see how you go. You probably came a bit quick". Oh flipping brilliant.

Now I know you shouldn't have antibiotics unless you need them. I also know I am not a doctor, or a nurse. BUT SURELY ALL THE SIGNS ARE THERE? Even the pharmacist looked surprised she hadn't prescribed. The nurse basically said: you are a bit ill, go away and you'll probably get iller. Cheers.

The good news is that by gargling with warm salt water every day several times there is a slim chance I might be able to see off bacterial infection. Oh yum.

And poor Tilly has that minging medicine for ten days which will include Christmas Day. We've invested in a bag of Fruit Salads.

Plus of course if I do get prescribed antibiotics I will be having my first dry Christmas in many years...

So goodwill to all men/women. Apart from those who don't prescribe me medicine. Bah humbug.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

By the scruff of the neck

First thing tomorrow morning I will be taking the day, and what's left of the pre-Christmas run up, by the scruff of the neck:

1. Find out what the hell is wrong with Tilly and me. It can't be just a virus. It is frankly crap and we will be kicking it into touch. If I need antibiotics they better start tomorrow or I'll have to pass on bucks fizz on Christmas Day which is not happening.

2. Find and wash some clothes so that I can actually wear a pair of socks that match and the kids don't have to wear purple tights to school.

3. Actually buy the remaining loopy items from the girls wish lists including shower caps. If I have to look at the same website again I may scream. I don't have to compare and contrast shower cap patterns any further. I really am the master of procrastination.

4. If Tilly goes to school take Paul out to watch Skyfall on a daytime date (albeit and throat hurty coughy type of one) and eat pick and mix. This is the only thing we planned to do this week and still hasn't happened. If we do go, do not come back by way of yet another shop. I am retailed out and do not need to wander about aimlessly any further this week. If we don't go book a time to go and a babysitter and stop flapping about.

5. Take that flipping stuff to the charity shop so I don't have to hear the pirate ship rolling about in the back seat and the cannon going off as I drive about.

6. Buy those tickets. Johnny Marr and The Specials to be specific. See point 3. re: procastination.

7. Buy super glue.

That should do it. Night x

Monday, 3 December 2012

Present Equality

Well the Christmas letters are about to be written and we have somewhat of an interesting problem.

Our eldest daughter has a list which stretches for about a mile and a half including a selection of relatively pricey items including a Victorian dolls house, a snow-dome maker, climbing shoes and a host of other things.

On one hand it is great that she has given us lots of ideas. A few too many ideas if I'm honest. There is far too much room for disappointment.

Which one do we pick? Sods law says it will be the one that I then have to dust a lot in months to come. Which ones to ignore?  Inevitably that will be the one she really really wants and we'll start the day under a veil of disappointment.

And yes I know kids today should be grateful for anything they get. That's a lovely idea but it's hardly realistic. Show me someone who remembers a Christmas when Father Christmas got it 100% right. It's a good job no-one can actually get hold of him to complain. One year I was given a beautiful bike and I complained because it had no bell. Children all have brattish tendencies, even I am ashamed to say, me.

Anyway we've bitten the bullet and chosen the dolls house as it seems to be her big ask. It's also a big ask of us since we have to put the blasted thing together. Maybe mulled wine will help. Or maybe we'll end up putting the roof on backwards.

So to Phoebe. She, on the other hand, does not have a large list of expensive items. Not for Phoebe requests of Furbys or Vtech Innotabs. Nope her list consists of:

1. Swimming goggles and
2. a shower cap.

I kid you not.

Now anyone with kids will know the importance of parity, especially when kids are little. Not only do the presents need to be equal in number and ideally cost, but also in relative size.

You can buy one child a 6ft cuddly toy and one child an MP3 player of the same exact monetary value and the big box wins every time. Because the competition was decided the second they entered the room in their pyjamas.

So I have the option of wrapping Phoebe's shower cap in a Victorian dolls house sized box, or just guessing what she might actually enjoy receiving and hoping for the best. Whatever happens I need to go and source a shower cap or there really would be hell to pay...