Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Les Miserables

"Do you hear the people sing, singing a song of angry men, it is the music of the people who will not be slaves again..."

I am struggling a bit this morning with this particular ear worm. You look a bit daft singing rousing choruses while dropping your kids off at school.

As you will have worked out I went to see Les Miserables with a friend last night at the Showroom Cinema. We did avert disaster after a minor heart stopping moment. We'd be gassing so much we hadn't realised we were actually in the wrong screen until the page for Django Unchained came up. That could have been dodgy. With hindsight we did wonder why we'd been put in seats C9 and 10, one either side of an aisle. Fortunately our film hadn't started.

I am rather pleased I didn't encourage Paul to come with me. It's not just that particular show, but any film where the cast sing every line of dialogue is a bit of an issue for him. I'm remembering Sweeny Todd in particular (just because it's Johnny Depp doing it doesn't make it easy to listen to).

As it was I went with a friend who is clearly at least as soppy as me because she passed me a tissue during "I Dreamed a Dream" and I hadn't quite worked up to tears yet. It was "A little fall of rain" that got me most. That and the very end.

And the cast? Well there were some wonderful actors and singers. I sadly wouldn't put Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe amongst them. I'd take my hat off to them (if I was wearing one) as it looked like a complete nightmare to learn, but honestly I would have rather seen a less famous name who could really sing. But then Russell Crowe in particular has never really done it for me and good as Hugh is as an actor I couldn't quite get Wolverine out of my head.

My favourite actor was Daniel Huttlestone, a beautiful young boy with fantastic charisma. I also loved Samantha Barks once I got over how tiny her waist was.

I can't stand Sacha Baron Cohen's comedy usually (apart from Madagascar obviously), but he and Helena Bonham Carter were fantastic. I wonder whether she ever thinks "please let me be the beautiful female lead this time instead of the mad woman". Probably not - it looks much more fun being barmy.

So in summary, it's long, it might make you cry and you'll be singing the best bits for days afterwards.


Sunday, 27 January 2013

The week in summary

It's Sunday so I'll sum up my week. It'll be a short post.

1. I dressed and undressed children in and out of their flaming snowclothing once too often. I particularly disliked doing this while they hopped about on one leg in a rammed sopping wet corridor. Just like every other parent who ever dropped a school child off in winter. Roll on Spring.

2. I dragged two children in a sledge with an unforgiving rope and inadequate shoulder muscles rather a lot. They are remarkably heavier than last year. Or I am weaker. Or both.

3. The snow stopped me from seeing our friends not once, but twice, in one week. This is more than a little annoying. It's been far too long between hugs now. More rescheduling called for.

(I should point out that it's not that I dislike snow. It's just that the impact of snow can sometimes be extremely irritating. I must be getting old).

4. I started my writing for children course. The group are eclectic and seemingly quite happy to negatively criticise each other's work which is ominous.

I have developed already though. I now know what a sestina is (although I was happier before) and am confident that the word 'hubris' should not appear in young children's fiction. I also learnt I shouldn't use the word 'shard' if I ever want to win a poetry competition.

So far I am particularly fond of Don who is a very proud Grandad and makes a mean cup of instant coffee.

I have homework to do, and have to take 12 copies of it with me next Friday so everyone can read it. Shudder. I'm much more comfortable with sending my writing out into the ether to be read by internet peeps than I am watching people grimace at it over a table. Maybe they won't grimace. They might just nod politely. It'll be fine.

5. I tried to do the RSPB garden bird watch this weekend. Twice. I admit it I tried to cheat the system. But when in the first hour I only saw 2 blackbirds, 2 wood pigeons and a great tit I didn't think it was a fair reflection. In the second hour I saw 2 blackbirds, 2 wood pigeons, a magpie and 2 great tits. So that was worth the extra hour of my life then. I like to think the robin who is in our garden all the flaming time usually was on holiday somewhere in Nether Edge. Either that or he was laughing at me and my binoculars from behind the holly bush.

6. I saw two lovely friends and felt more human. I didn't, however, go out at night socially at all which was an error. To make up for it I am going to the pictures on Monday, staying in with lots of inebriated school mums on Tuesday, singing on Wednesday and seeing Attilla the Stockbroker next Friday. In retrospect this seems a little like overkill.

So that's last week.

The good news is that just like Rimmer's revision plan in Red Dwarf I have now drawn myself a coloured coded timetable to stick on the fridge. So next week's summary is bound to be much more interesting. For now though it's time to watch a terrible film about superheroes and drink wine.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Sausages and snow

It's Friday so usually I let the girls have what they want for dinner provided I have it available. Tonight they asked for pizza again (they'd have it every night) before they settled on sausages.

Like Paddington I sighed a deep sigh. Because sausages always results in one inevitable outcome. The smoke alarms go off. This happens whether I open doors and turn fans and extractors on, or not.

Of course I started cooking them nonetheless. Maybe this time it wouldn't happen.

It took approximately five minutes before I got slightly distracted and left the sausages unattended. As predicted ear splitting screeches ensued.

The girls carried on watching 'Little Princess'. It does worry me that they don't see smoke alarms going off as an emergency anymore, only a minor aural inconvenience.

I ran about cursing the fact that Paul wasn't here. He is rather taller than I am. I don't like to suggest he's better at things than me, but let's face it he beats me on height every time.

Accepting his absence I did my next usual trick of running into the hall and looking upwards at the smoke alarm as if that will help in some way. I then jumped up and down a lot with one arm in the air. Despite the fact that we have 8 foot high ceilings and I'm 5ft 4. Amazingly I haven't developed bionic legs since the last episode.

After that I ran the the top floor and tried the same trick with the other alarm. It didn't work. The ceiling is lower but not low enough and aside from banging it a few times I achieved nothing more than a sense of frustration. I considered climbing on the bed but thought better of launching myself off it at a 45 degree angle. I nearly stood on the wash basket before remembering I weigh rather more than  two stone.

I ran downstairs again then realised I should have by now removed the grill pan, which was actually flaming, from the grill. I did this and opened lots of windows and all the doors.  Typically by now it was snowing heavily.

At this point, a good five minutes into crisis, Phoebe came out of the living room and shouted "turn that off I can't hear the telly". I could just about see her through the smog. She was unalarmed.

I then got a child's wooden chair, stood on it and pressed the off switch on the hall smoke alarm. Why did I not do that in the first place you may ask. I'm no good in a crisis and I never learn that's why.

A few wafts of a child's coat later and a bit more cooking (in a frying pan this time) and dinner was cooked.

"It's ready" I called. The girls ran into the kitchen before moaning "it's flipping freezing in here! Why is the door open?"

Then we ate sausages and watched the snow. Through the slight sausage haze and firmly closed back door.

Homework - Week 1

A Six Year Old's Guide to Making Breakfast in Bed

1. Accidentally slam the bedroom door and wake the whole house up before creeping downstairs quietly and going into the kitchen.

2. Open the fridge and remove orange juice taking care to leave the door wide open.

3. Stand on a chair to reach the glass cupboard. On failing to reach select a dirty glass from the sink and fill with orange juice.

4. Throw a tea towel over the spilt juice.

5. Remove bread from the bread bin.

6. Decide not to use the toaster for fear of being told off by Mum.

7. Find butter.

8. Look for knife.

9. When you cannot locate knife use hands to spread butter onto the bread.

10. Remove the cheese from the fridge remembering to keep the door open.

11. Wisely decide not to use a sharp knife to cut cheese. Opt instead to break chunks off by hand and pile onto the slice of bread.

12. Put a second slice of bread on top of the cheese and squash down with both hands and whole body weight.

13. Carry drink and sandwich upstairs to Mum and Dad, ignoring spillages on the stairs.

14. Graciously receive praise and cuddles and watch them enjoying their breakfast.

15. Stick sticker on reward chart.

16. Ask when they are getting out of bed to make your breakfast.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

That feeling

I get this feeling in the top of my stomach. It's like a contraction inside.

After I had my babies I had the feeling a lot most days. For several months. At the time I couldn't say entirely what the specifics of my sadness were but I knew it was anxiety. Anxiety that I couldn't make everything work properly. That I wasn't perfect. I was depressed.

I did a lot of reading so I knew I could have helped myself by exercising, socialising and at the very least taking Omega 3. But how hard it is to make the slightest change when you are in the midst of depression. Fortunately for me things changed around me. My babies got older. I got more sleep. I had more space. Just time and naturally occurring changes gradually made me feel different. 

But I still get that feeling in my stomach sometimes. I have it now. This time I am not depressed. I know this time what feels like anxiety, or even guilt, is not usually that. Now it is thankfully much more likely to be too much caffeine.

But the presence of that feeling in my stomach reminds me of how tough it was. And the tip of the iceberg for how hard things can be for other people.

I am acutely aware that the time I have on my hands right now could turn that feeling into anxiety again. I have to rally against how easy it could be to to sit on my own indoors all day and do nothing. I know my own triggers and lack of communication is one of them. I know I have to get up, get out, and get talking.

This is not a sad post. Nor a worrying one. But it is one of recognition of anxiety and depression and those who live with it in their past or present.

I'm at a crossroads in my life where I could choose several paths. But the most dangerous thing for me would be to not make a choice at all. To sit down in the middle of the crossroads. So I'm getting up, brushing the snow off my car and getting a map.

Monday, 21 January 2013


I had a man round to tune my piano before Christmas. That's not a euphemism.

Put aside the fact that he sucked air through his teeth and took two and a half hours to haul it back from the precipice, we had a nice chat, during which time he suggested that age six is a good time for a child to learn to play the piano.

Now there was a time when I would have thought that was an excellent idea. Surely, as with languages, children pick things up easier younger. Now however I realise that what comes with learning something new at six is limited success and quite a bit of frustration and screaming.  My lovely aunt started teaching Tilly before Christmas and I've carried on a couple of times since - there is hope but we do have to abort after about 15 minutes for fear of putting her and me off for life.

Since being home alone so to speak (and since the piano sounds more like a piano and less like a strangled cat) I've returned to playing most days. I alternate between murdering Beatles songs (mostly ones in C major) and trying to master a piece of music that according to the annotations I could play pretty well in 1989...when I was 14. I might rub out the date on it as it's depressing me.

All this has made me think a little about my music lessons in the 1980s and 1990s. I began in junior school with a school teacher that I loved, but who sometimes diverted herself from teaching me to attend her little boy and eat baked beans from the tin.

My second and last teacher I realise now was not only important in teaching me how to play to a reasonable standard (I passed grade seven then bailed when I learnt of the amount of hours practice required for grade eight). She was also a pretty important person in my adolescent years.

I guess she was (and still is) the sort of person you'd expect to be a music teacher. That picture in your head is about right. She drove a two seater soft top sports car so she never had to anyone else a lift as she drove about with her husband. She had a beautiful old house and several cats and played the kind of music I always found very impressive but impenetrable (Bartok I seem to remember). She put on music concerts in which all her students had to play one piece at least. I distinctly remember having to play a duet with her with my right hand when I broke my left wrist as she wouldn't let me off. We used to sit on the stairs watching each pupil and waiting for our turn to torture the parents.

She encouraged me to enter a piano competition which I managed to win. It's still one of the things I am most proud of (I was about 12) largely due to it being a complete and utter surprise. She coached me through at least 5 music exams (including theory) but she also managed to coach me through adolescence a little bit. I remember regaling her with my worry for my exams, especially Chemistry. I remember her saying "well if you don't like it don't bother studying for it It won't make any difference if you fail one". She was a clever woman. Not only was she right of course (I can't even remember my results some days), I suspect she also knew there was no way in the world I could not revise for an exam and fail it on purpose. I enjoyed talking to her so much sometimes we talked more than I played during the 45 minute lesson. I can't remember what about but I do remember it being a very comfortable feeling. I see now that having another adult to talk to in teenage life is pretty important.

It wasn't all chat though. When I look at the markings she made in my music I can remember her scribbling hard and underlining things that were probably driving her a bit mad. "#!" for example or "CLOSE UP!" I don't think she ever had high hopes for me as a concert pianist.

We are still in touch and she sends me a Christmas letter every year in which she shows me she is still the same as ever and puts a smile on my face.

So maybe I'll teach the girls to play a bit. But if and when I find a teacher for them I'll be looking for a bit more than just musical ability.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Some of the good stuff

This week's positives in no particular order:

1. Billy Bragg releasing 'Handyman Blues'. I smiled, listened to it on repeat and retreated to the 1990s.

2. Finding a potential a writing course. Of course I haven't actually managed to book onto it yet but it's a step in the right direction.

3. Agreeing to finally help in school one afternoon a week partly in the hopes that I'll find out what they do all day.

4. A trip to Avid Farm shop - had a laugh, did a storytelling workshop and bought cake and hot chocolate. Always lovely.

5. Snow in the peaks beats most views in my opinion.

6. My Fair Lady with my best friend. Nuff said.

7. Writing a chapter of a children's book which I will likely self publish if I ever finish it. My daughter laughed at some of it. Although she did give it back to me at the bottom of the first page and say "is that enough now Mum?" It's nearly positive criticism.

8. Singing the first three tracks of Amy McDonald's album driving through the peaks.

9. Sledging and snowballs. I love the fact that you graduate at the Bannerdale Centre slopes. Little ones (and less brave parents) start at the side nearest the centre, bigger ones and nutters move across to the steep bit. I also love the fact that we always see people we know there at this time of year, however inevitable that is it's cool.

For those with little ones we saw someone with a baby in one of these (or similar) and it was amazing. Strapped in, stable, stayed upright while baby whizzed down little slope laughing her head off. They didn't make these in my day.

10. Lack of nits. I have checked, treated, nit combed and double checked Tilly, checked Phoebe three times, and checked and given Paul a haircut. Me? Well I'll just have to trust my husband. My head still flipping itches though.

I insist on writing down the positives. There are negatives too but they can bugger off.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Not E-ready for This

It's not often I get serious on here. In fairness it's not often that I allow myself time to think about the scary stuff in the world let alone write about it. Which isn't a very grown up attitude I suppose but it's hard to focus on your beautiful children and hopes for the future amidst a world which allows the kind of unsavoury things ours does.

The news isn't on in front of the kids in our house. We've even ensured that the clock radio alarm in Tilly's room goes off at ten past 7 and on Radio Two to ensure she has nothing more terrifying than ELO to wake up to.

It's all on my mental radar. I know it's coming. But I wasn't ready. I wasn't ready to stray beyond basic mentions of bad people (who so far in our house are pretty much all deemed to be burglars).

Touching on "stranger danger" was bad enough (I was caught off guard with a Topsy and Tim book) and goodness knows I know how important that one is. Especially since a very unsavoury encounter I had in Boots at age 11. That's Boots the Chemist not the footwear (and I should add was nothing to do with the shop itself). I didn't think you could get to Clarks the shoe shop as fast as I did that day.

We talk about violence and war if it comes up, but cover it up by mostly discussing it all with a historic bias.  I guess it's a bit like lying but it's all for their protection of course. I wonder though if I will ever think they will be old enough to understand.

So I wasn't ready to move on to the darker stuff. But clearly I'm at odds with the government approved curriculum because last week my eldest daughter (6.5) was shown a video in school that made it clear if you chat on a computer you might be talking to a bad man.

I didn't know it was coming. The first I heard of it was when she came downstairs at 9pm sobbing at the thought of a bad man being unmasked and the possibility of him entering her room. We bumbled through trying to comfort her with how unlikely it is, how we don't have chat rooms turned on (she doesn't use the relevant sites anyway) and that the imagery shown is all about shock factor to make you remember. She has slept with the light on ever since but never mentioned it again so I must admit I'm not sure the video did what it intended to. Especially since most other children in the class didn't even mention it to their parents. Good that they weren't scared, not so good that it didn't merit at least a comment at home.

So I'm investigating E-Safety and starting with you. What do you do that I don't? Our girls play on CBeebies website, Purple Mash and a host of IPad apps, all vetted by my husband. They don't google anything without a parent.

What should I do now? What comes next? Where is my rule book on this kind of thing? Gah being a parent is an endless round of brain and heart ache isn't it?

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Last Shop Standing

I don't know why I'm surprised when I watch a documentary I'm interested in and Billy Bragg appears. I should know by now. What with his new album release news and free download yesterday though it was a bit of a coincidence.

Last Shop Standing is a short film about record shops. It's full of record shop owners and a few customers, talking about their history and future. It's interesting, especially the section about reps hyping the charts, and sad as we see a shop in Chesterfield close. But more than anything it made me want to do to Record Collector in Broomhill and ask what he recommends for a Billy Bragg fan. I'd go tomorrow but it seems to be snowing and it would take a while on foot. I'll put it on my list.

It isn't scintillating and not really much of a surprise, but it is way more positive about the future than I expected it to be so well worth a view. 6/10.

My Fair Lady

I'm not sure that this review will be much use to anyone who was on the fence about getting tickets for My Fair Lady at the Crucible in Sheffield. The shows have been sold out for quite a while. I was extremely jammy and got our last two tickets by luck alone I think. All I can say is when it inevitably goes to the West End you should see it if you haven't already.

This musical is without doubt the best piece of theatre I have seen, possibly ever. Wow that's an accolade. Especially since I've seen Kenneth Brannagh twice. But honestly it was amazing. Cleverly staged, beautiful choreographed, and really funny.

I must admit I have a soft spot for Dominic West (despite the slightly dubious accent in the Wire). He was great, it must be said. But Carly Bawden was beyond amazing. At the end of "I Could Have Danced All Night" I wasn't entirely sure when the audience was going to stop clapping. Me included. It was equally touch and go when "I'm Getting Married in the Morning" finished. I spent most of the show beaming from ear to ear.

The buzz at the end was more than I have ever experienced. And that was just me as an audience member. Goodness know how the cast must have felt with yet another standing ovation - they have received them night after night.

It has to be said I am extremely passionate about this musical. I went through a bit of an obsession with musicals in the 1980s, in fact anything with music and dancing suited me (including a large number of slightly dull Fred Astaire movies). Maybe it was because they were on on Sunday afternoons and I was looking for something to fill my time, but they captured my imagination. I can sing every song of My Fair Lady (although I hadn't truly realised that until last night). I also remembered half way through last nights show that I was in a version of it at junior school. Best forgotten I think although my Dad did make me an impressive hat.

Han and I had yet another amazing Wednesday night. I'm not entirely sure how we are supposed to follow last week (Life of PI) and  now this. Oh yes we are going to try Rock Choir. I suspect the cast of My Fair Lady can rest assured we won't be nipping at their heels.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

There again?

I honestly never thought I would see the day when we went to exactly the same place for our summer holidays. Not just the same part of the country, not just the same town but the same house. But we are, and I've booked it.

A part of me is screaming "doing the same thing is really dull and the UK, nay the world, is a very big and exciting place".

But you know what another voice, one who wants to never repeat the rainy, cold, miles from anywhere yurt experience has yelled louder. It says "plenty of time to be adventurous. Go somewhere lovely with an attached play area, a shared indoor swimming pool and a short drive to a brilliant beach with trampolining and crazy golf. And the ability to drink wine with the light on."

So we are listening to voice number two, joined by three other voices who are saying "please an easy holiday with no camping", "yay let's go there again" and "look at this I've drawn a picture of Golidlocks Mummy"(the last one's not really relevant but it's what she was engrossed with at the time of asking".

I'm looking forward to it already. It's in August. Darn it.

However very excitingly we have agreed to also go to Amsterdam for a week with the family (once I sort out the girls passports) and I'm going on a sunny hen weekend to Majorca in April. Yes you read that right, I am leaving the girls for three nights. More emotional trauma about that to follow no doubt.

So I don't think there is anything wrong in doing the same again, as long as we mix up the other bits a little. I mean my family went to Sutton-on-Sea every year for quite a long time and I have nothing but happy memories about that. Especially the paddling pool and footsteps in the book shop.

There's time for safari and Ayres Rock when the girls are older. We just have to make sure we don't stick entirely to our comfort zone otherwise the girls might just get a bit bored by the Whitby Wizard when they are 15. Not need to worry about that yet though.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Time and Space

I have time. Quite a lot what with not doing very much now I've cancelled almost everything I do (apart from mothering between 3pm and 8.30am).

I also have space. The house is clean and tidy (well ish) and I've even cleared out my inbox. And since I've stopped doing the things that generate me the most emails, let's just say I'll be able to see the google mail background picture quite clearly for some time to come.

So here I am. Time to get started. But on what?

It is quite predictable that despite discussion on the matter I appear not to be using the time and space to do exercise. But it was probably to be expected.

I am going to schedule time each day to look and apply for jobs. You never know your luck. Perhaps I'll find the dream job I will enjoy that allows me to still pick up and drop off the girls and look after them in the holidays. Or maybe that thing flying about over there is a pig.

More interestingly I have the beginnings of an idea for a story or two. Just the beginnings. And I have a lot of fear that it'll be rubbish but you have to start somewhere.

It does feel like I'm standing on a bit of a precipice. If I stop to think too much about it all I feel like crying. But I should feel excited. This is the beginning of the next bit, not the end of anything.

So here goes. I am lucky to have the time and space. Now I need to use it.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Domestic goddess fail #336

It is a common preconception that to be a stay at home mum also includes doing household chores. And that you have either  a) an enthusiasm for domesticity or at the very least b) some capability.

I'm a stay at home mum. I flipping abhore domestic chores. 7 years of occasionally feeling guilty enough to do them and my skill levels in this department haven't improved.

Already clearly documented is my out and out hatred of ironing. Well obviously it doesn't just stop at that.

As you may know this week was the first week of my new life. One where I have pretty much stopped doing all the work I was doing and my girls are back at school,  There is a lot of psychological shenanigans associated with this new life that I'll bore you with another time, but for now let's say I'd run out of excuses not to try being a full on domestic goddess.

So I menu planned, shopped accordingly and cleaned the house from top to bottom, including using a scrubbing brush (yes you read that right) in the bathroom. Although you could argue that not cleaning the tiles for a year might have contributed to the need for said scrubbing brush.

I cooked a couple of semi-decent meals and a couple of terrible ones because I stupidly forgot that "no Weightwatchers, substituting decent ingredients for half fat cheese, low fat Philadelphia and cornflakes does not make for a delicious light alternative".

I did all the washing, got the freezer mended and was starting to feel smug.

One morning I saw a left over handful of Crunchy Nut Cornflakes and thought "to throw them away would be a waste" so I googled and on a whim made crunchy nut cornflake rock cakes. At least they went into the oven like that but came out a thin sheet of greasy overdone flapjack which I rolled into tubes and passed off as brandy snaps. Which of course I couldn't cook if you paid me. They are still in the tupperware, I can't imagine why.

Yesterday I tried to cook a roast dinner whilst simultaneously supervising my girls at a party. Roasting from a distance is nigh on impossible, and made worse when your other half is off out earlier than usual to try and spot Jupiter and you've accidentally bought the wrong size of chicken. The whole thing, coupled with a hormonal rage, made for an interesting half an hour which the kids seemed to manage to tune out, but Paul could unfortunately not. Sorry honey. We ended up with unappealing pasta bake.

So today I thought I'd top off my domestic week by doing my ironing, whilst listening to Desert Island Discs (I have travelled back in time and bodyswapped with my mum from 1983). I was also simultaneously rehashing yesterday's roast chicken and all the trimmings. We managed relatively unscathed so later on I got cocky and thought jam tarts would be a good idea. Just call me Delia.

On removing the tarts from the oven it was clearly a good idea to move them onto the cooling rack while the jam was still molten. 15 minutes and frostbite later I have a sore little finger and the resolve to give up baking entirely. Even the ready rolled pastry sort.

So my first week and I have fully removed the option of housewife from my career plans. Excellent. What can I remove/balls up this week?

Friday, 11 January 2013

Tilly on...minstrels

Tilly and I were talking about musical instruments, specifically the lute. I explained what they look like and was moving on to their appearance in history.

Me: Have you heard of minstrels?

Tilly: I've heard of mints...and nostrils

Me: Ha! No minstrels.

Tilly: Ooh yes the sweets.

Me: No minstrels. They were men in medieval times who entertained kings and queens and their guests by playing music for them. Because of course in those days they didn't have (I was about to say CDs)...

Tilly: Bagpipes!

Me: Erm you are probably right. I give up. Sausages for tea?

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Life of Pi

I have noticed over the years that at the end of films in the cinema people tend to quietly exit , not really talking much about the film until they get into the bar or the car park. Or maybe they ask "what did you think?" before giving sensibly their own opinion in a calm way. Maybe that's because there are so many people all herded together and no-one wants to be overheard and potentially disagreed with by them all. Maybe it's British reserve.

At the end of Life of Pi as the credits began to roll, the man next to us exclaimed "fantastic!" It shot out of his mouth like it was an involuntary reaction. I don't know if I've ever heard that happen before. But I totally agree with him. And my reactions throughout the film were less than calm, like the several bits where I jumped out of my seat and threw my water bottle underneath the seat in front. Or when I laughed out loud.

I'll be clear, I haven't read the book. Sorry. I imagine I should have. Normally when I see a film that's a book I come out thinking now I should read the book. But this time I don't want to read it. It might spoil it. That's a bit backwards isn't it?

So I had seen the trailer and knew the basics - that it was about a boy shipwrecked on a boat with a tiger.

The film is breathtaking, terrifying, life affirming and downright magical. The lead actor, Suraj Sharma, is staggering. Quite why he isn't nominated for an Oscar I don't know. Apart from the fact that he is only 19 and this is his first and ONLY film role. What a way to start a career.

My best friend and I both agreed it was the most engrossed we'd been in a film for years. And unusually for us it was the first time we'd seen an Oscar nominated film before it came out on DVD which makes us unbelievably cool.

10/10 Favourite film so far. But I haven't rated one badly yet and it's only 10th January.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Call centre hilarity

I rang Samsung about my leaking freezer. I spent a few moments explaining the situation - that it freezes in the bottom creating a sheet of ice, and then leaks water out of the bottom of the door.

The American customer service representative suggested I clear the vent out at the front of the washing machine.

I explained that I wasn't sure this would help. What with it being the freezer that was the issue.

She apologised and said in all seriousness "I did wonder how the washing machine would be freezing up".

I'll let her off. I guess you can work in customer services without knowing much about appliances. Maybe it's like when I worked in an ironmongers and knew very little about bolts. Or when I worked as a customer service manager in Sainsburys but didn't understand hobnobs.

I hope the engineer knows a little more about it though. I don't really want my ice-cream tasting of Persil.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Progress so far...

Well it's the end of day two of my new life. One where I don't have very much to do and hardly talk to anybody.

So far I have achieved the following:

1. My tax return. Dull but necessary. Declared the £2 interest on the bank account. I am that honest.
Action point: Ignore until January next year then flap about finding relevant documentation and frantically contacting bank.

2. Some electronic filing. This is a slippery slope. I may end up emptying cupboards at this rate.
Action Point: Try to ignore this as it's a rubbish use of my time. Actual physical filing would at least allow me to see the desk.

3. Started Weightwatchers. On day two I narrowly avoided eating a tin of soup that contains a third of the points I am allowed daily. I have also discovered that one Roses chocolate is one point. That's tomorrow's twenty nine point menu planned then.
Action point: Favour chocolate over soup.

4. Read the newspaper. First time in seven years. It was depressing.
Action point: Consider getting all news updates from Twitter. Just kidding. I'll use Facebook. (I am joking I promise)

5. Been to the gym and been instructed to let go of my buttocks in a yoga class. After one gym session and one yoga class I ache absolutely everywhere. Even my buttocks despite letting them go.
Action point: Go swimming tomorrow as it won't hurt so much. I refuse to go to "Aqua Zumba" though. How the hell would that work?

6. Started to possibly maybe perhaps consider applying for a part time job that I am unlikely to get. I began the form and instantly realised that I cannot recall or find any information about my qualifications and the important dates of my life that came before children. Bugger.
Action point: Find CVor create new one by talking to friends who probably remember me better than I do. CVs should cover pub quiz scores and dates of gigs right?

7. Not allowed my self time to think properly about writing. Because I'm afraid of failure and am the queen of procrastination.
Action point: Stop pissing about and think about fairies.

8. Struggled with not talking very much throughout the day. The poor yoga teacher got my jabbering full force. I suspect she'd glad she's going on maternity leave now.
Action point: Arrange days to include a chat with friends. Or ring Paul and pester him at work.

9. Discovered that our new fridge freezer is leaking and "I'm sorry but Samsung is now closed". Arses. Also have rung builder about leaking roof. Bah.
Action point: Ring sodding Samsung and take deep breaths. Pray for dry spell.

I'm sure you all feel better for reading that. I'll write something a little more meaningful tomorrow I assure you. Once I've entered a story competition where the central theme has to be hot chocolate. Not sure about this new life yet.


We watched Tyrannosaur last night. Man I badly need to watch a comedy now.

It's hard to say that I enjoyed it. It's another dark gritty Warp film, especially one with the trademark violence of a sort that is meant to make you feel extremely uncomfortable. And uncomfortable was an understatement.

It's a sad terrifying film about an abused wife and an unlikely expressionless alcoholic who becomes her friend. The acting is brilliant. The rape scene and the dog attack I could have done without. But then I always say that.

Watch it. But brace yourself.


Saturday, 5 January 2013

While we're at it...

I'll mention the books I read in 2013 too.

So yesterday I finished The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton. I can't tell you how engrossed I got in this book. And how in awe I am of an ability to write a plot which joins up so perfectly despite having so many strands and keeping you guessing the whole way through.

The Secret Keeper is a story about the investigation of an elderly actress into the secret past of her mother, all started by a murder she witnesses in the 1960s. The book jumps backwards to wartime to slowly reveal the truth and forwards to present day as she learns more. The characters are fascinating but over and above everything else it's such a good story. I can't imagine how long it took to map out the story itself before she began to write it. The mind boggles.

There are two of her books I haven't yet read so The Distant Hours is probably next.

I'll also add in here that I read Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. I read it aloud to the kids and it is quite simply the silliest book I have ever read. I'm not sure I ever read it as a child, despite it being in the book drawer (I am the fortunate recipient of many of my childhood stories although still can't find my copy of "The Boy With Illuminated Measles"...) There is space travel, an alien attack, and lots of messing about with the age of grandparents. The girls laughed out loud and I enjoyed reading it to them because of their reaction. Although it isn't a patch on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, BFG or Matilda. It is gloriously daft though.

The version we have has some unnerving illustrations by Faith Jacques which caused a little upset. Kids were clearly a lot tougher in the 70s...


Fours days in and film number 2: Chronicle.

Three college students find weird glowing thing and gain superpowers. I knew nothing about this film but based on the description I thought this was going to be a comedy. It's way darker than that.

I liked the students discovering what they could do and developing their newfound powers but for some reason it felt lopsided. Lots of time and emphasis was given over to that section yet the descent into the inevitable misuse of power wasn't given enough time in my view.

It also raised a question for me about special effects. I always thought I preferred the old ways to CGI, but watching actors obviously hoisted up into the air by their pants looked slightly comedic and out of touch with modern film making. It all looked a bit panto, whilst frankly being a bit gory at the end which is an odd contrast.

But I did enjoy watching it despite that so 7/10. Just because gaining super powers is every school boy/girl's dream.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

The girls on...the monarchy

To set the scene we have watched Mr Stink today...twice. We've also read a book which has a princess with a lady's maid in it. What follows is the sort of conversation we have in our house.

Tilly:  Is David Walliams really the Prime Minister?

Me:  No he wrote the book and is an actor. The Prime Minister is a man called David Cameron.

Tilly:  He's called David though.

Me:  Yes but it's not obligatory.

Tilly What's obligatory mean?

Me: Has to be. The Prime Minister doesn't have to be called David.

Tilly:  What does a Prime Minister do?

Me:  He's pretty much in charge of the country.

Tilly:  I thought that was the Queen?

Me:  Not really. She doesn't have much power these days.

Tilly:  So what's good about being the Queen then?

Me:  She's very rich and can have what she wants for dinner.

Tilly:  I know what's bad about being the Queen.

Me:  What's that?

Tilly:  Not being able to stop someone from pulling your trousers up for you even if you can do it yourself.

Phoebe: But I need help pulling trousers up. I can't do anything. Pants or trousers.

Hilton gold.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

This year I will focus on...

...my friends. Those I see every day and every week. And those I haven't seen in far too long.

...my family. More quality time with my husband. More one on one time with my beautiful daughters. And more family daftness. Much more.

...my writing. I'm not entirely sure how yet. I suspect through blogging, freelancing, competitions and stories just for the hell of it. Lots of them - probably very silly ones. With the main intention being to make people laugh.

... my health. I have time to do it so now is the time that my fitness has to change. Just as soon as I've finished the stilton and the large tin of Roses. And the After Eights. I have to do it because frankly this being the first thing on my brain every day when I wake up is boring me.

...moving out of the 1990s. For every ten old albums I listen to I will find another one released the right side of 2010.

So a little late I guess but resolutions nonetheless.

Oh and I forgot. I will also continue with my annual resolve to not take up Zumba. Because it scares me.

Happy New Year everyone.

Film 2013

I've decided to review the films I watch in 2013.

I'll possibly be horrified at this at the end of the year. Not least because I'll be able to add up the amount of time I've spent watching films. Before we even get to add on the hours spent watching Gok and X-Factor. But it encourages me to write, and will be an interesting record so here goes...

New Year's Day
Harry Brown - This film made me sob in the first twenty minutes, leap out of my seat at points and hide from the screen at others. Michael Caine essentially sorts out some scumbags and causes carnage. Too gruesome for me really but there is something weirdly appealing about a geriatric vigilante.

And it had Joseph Gilgun in it. Even as a drug addict.

Nuff said.