Saturday, December 23, 2006

QUITE A BUSY DAY IN TOWN

It started when I counted 49 people in front of me in the queue in Marks and Spencer food hall while I was trying to buy 5 croissants and a baguette for breakfast at around 9-30am (when I finally got to the front, I felt it necessary to be reasonably pleasant to the poor cashier as I could see the day she was going to have ahead of her, especially once stock inevitably began to dwindle and tempers began to fray later in the afternoon). Busy-ness culminated in this view of Buchanan street taken at around 3pm.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

TOP CAT

See what happens when you do a job you like? You live to 95!
Actually, I just wondered why this article on the death of one of the men us 60s kids probably spent most of our childhood TV viewing hours with, doesn't mention that most wonderful of TV series Top Cat. Although T.C. of course was the main star, I had a wee soft spot for the ever-cuddly Benny the Ball. I loved the other Hanna-Barbera stuff too of course - I particularly liked the Flintstones - probably because I genuinely believed my dad was Fred Flintstone for a while when I was wee - they kind of looked alike! I loved all the modern gadgets in it, I remember a dinosaur tin opener in one episode. It's great all this stuff is still running today, just a shame though that kids seem to prefer to watch all that Japanese shite on TV - Yu-gi-oh and the likes - Nothing really happens in them and they all shout at each other. Give me Fred and Wilma, Benny and Brain, and Tom and Jerry any day.

ALL THIS FOG


Southern England seems to be in meltdown all because of some fog - Heathrow has ground to a standstill and several hundred thousand people are facing Christmas asleep on the floor of terminal 4, apparently. But I was thinking how pretty fog can be from a photographer's perspective, many apologies to those stranded passengers who probably are struggling to see its beauty today. I found these pretty photos on the BBC today and they reminded me of this photo I took in Rouken Glen park a couple fo winters ago - I really like the tranquility of it.

GLASGOW SCIENCE TOWER


That famous tower is opening again! Apparently it is to re-open this morning. I have been desperate to go up it ever since I discovered photo-stitching because I think I could do a really nice 360 degree panorama of Glasgow on a clear day. Not only does it open today but the weather is actually fairly clear. Given the tower's less than impressive reliability since 2001 when it opened (it feels like it's been open a dozen days at most since then!) I wonder if I shouldn't actually drop everything and attempt an ascent before twelve noon for fear it might be shut for another five years by five pm! Several problems though:

1) I am working from home today as Pudge is sick so actually have to produce some work.

2) Pudge is sick so probably doesn't feel like being dragged up a tower on a photographic expedition.

3) The kids would want to come too but by the time I pick them up from school after 3pm and get to the tower it'll be dark given today is the shortest day.

4) If I did actually have some free time I should probably spend it Xmas shopping :-(

So I guess I need to leave it till Saturday at the earliest...what are the chances I will live to regret that decision? Surely they can't close it yet again without losing all their street cred? (Mind you I think I said that the last time! :-( )

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A NEW CONVERT



Marcel's been playing on my computer all evening. At first I assumed he was playing online games on miniclip as usual but it turns out he'd opened a Word document, gone onto the Internet and got the lyrics to Away in manger and was trying with Charlotte to rewrite a more modern version for his school pals. Once he finished it, he then asked to start up his own blog and uploaded it. If this (and his second posting) are going to be the standard of things to come, I await his next offering trembling with fear, though it could give me some insight into the world of a 9 year old boy, which, given I have never been one, could be useful!

BABY NAME TRENDS

Reading through the BBC online magazine today, I came across an article on babies' names. It is so true that you can usually tell a person's age by their name in this country. For example most Jacquelines tends to be in their early 40s as it was popularized by Jackie Kennedy. Then people born late 60s (other than me, of course) are called Karen, Linda or Gillian, by early 70s that had moved on to Sharon or Tracy and so on. Marcel's peers all seem to be called Adam, Ryan, Cara or Katie and so on. Charlotte's surrounded by Archies and other what I would consider old people names. Last year when checking the Scottish birth records, I noticed there was only one Léon-Olivier registered in Scotland and equally unique there was also only one Sharon - that made me smile given I have spent most of my life knee-deep in Shazzis! Funny how no matter how many of the really old Maisies and Mollies and the likes come round Phyllis always seems to be overlooked! I guess I am destined to remain unique unless the likes of Eastenders introduces a youngish Phyllis character - I know it did wonders for the Alfies and Rubies of this decade's nursery classes!

RED POMPOMS


06-12-16
Originally uploaded by
phyl1.
I saw these in the glass house in Glasgow's palm house last week. Wonder if this is where they grow the pompoms for kiddies' hats every winter! :-)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

BOYS WILL BE BOYS :-)

Marcel has been coming home from school on a daily basis with Xmas cards from his classmates but unlike other years has shown no interest in reciprocating the greetings this year.
He's at that funny age between childhood and adolescence when some things little kids do or like, such as going to the office Xmas party, are still cool, whereas others, such as attending the school pantomime, are worse than unmentionable. There doesn't seem to be any obvious logic, so as a parent I am currently trying to wing it! When he seemed to be boycotting Xmas cards, I saw no point in nagging him.
Suddenly, last night he launched himself on a multi-box of cards, picking out all the snowmen cards. Charlotte has always loved Snowmen but Marcel has never shown any particular interest in all things Snowmen-shaped. He made a list of 12 or 13 male friends, picked out that many Snowmen cards and got down to work. As you can see from the card attached, it took him over an hour to complete his Xmas card list this year and he was extremely proud of the finished article! Somewhere between the devil, Darth Vader, a flasher and a grenade-tossing terrorist! And I can just imagine all his little mates grinning in an evil manner when they opened their card and then rushing off to do their own!

POOR SICK PUDGE AGAIN AGAIN AGAIN


Léon is sick once again. That poor baby has been through the wars - this time it is a chest and ear infection. So he's sitting wailing on my knee once again. This society has its priorities all wrong. I took a holiday yesterday because he was immobile, burning up and needed to see a doctor. Today, however, I had to finish off a schedule for next year's budget at work. Having no one free to babysit today with André away, mum already babysitting Pudge's cousin and dad out, that meant sick Léon had to take ibuprofen and go wail at nursery. Obviously with 20+ days of holiday left to take before March, staying off to babysit should in theory be no problem but companies have now stretched themselves so thin that people are expected to come in whether or not they or their kids are dying. The net result is nurseries and schools are full of miserable, sick kids infecting each other in a never ending loop. And stressed parents in a loop of worry about their kids, their job security, their kids, their job security... When did common sense go out the window? Wouldn't everyone be happier if we all started to prioritise what really is important in life again?

THE LOCAL HOUSEBLINGER


A photo as promised of the houseblinger at the on ramp of the M77 in Newton Mearns. These loonies must be outed (the guy's been slowly decorating his garden and driveway on a weekendly basis since the end of October, often to be seen up a ladder against some of the tall garden trees!) This guy is probably single-handedly using the entire output of a small nuclear power station! I imagine if he has kids they probably jump out their skins in fright every time they go to walk past that huge Frosty standing at the front door - Wonder if he's read one of my favourite books: Skipping Christmas?)! Funnily enough, I myself had cars slowing down and shouting amusing comments at me just for stopping on the edge of the road to take the photos! I guess whoever they are, they really enjoy Christmas anyway!

Monday, December 18, 2006

NO MORE CURRY!


I heard this morning the news that Café India had burnt down yesterday. I haven't been there since Marcel was a baby but it used to be one of my usual haunts in the 90s - It was the first big quality curry house in Glasgow to offer buffet options instead of an à la carte menu. Now they all offer buffet nights. It's sad to think of North Street without it.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

THE HEIGHT OF NUMPTINESS


Another rant I am afraid: Why do people go out Xmas shopping without their brains?
There's a fairly handy wee car park in Garnethill behind St Aloysius church. It isn't very big and is only open on weekends but still it is handy. There is enough room for four rows of cars - obviously two then a gap then another two. So I left my car there today.
The big kids, Marcel and Charlotte were having a sleepover with my brother and his wife and I was to pick them up at 3ish. After 3 hours wandering round town, I decided to pick up my car and drive the 5-10 minutes to their house.
Into the church car park we went. There was a Toyota parked in front of my car and a Ford on either side...as I went to get into it I noticed the was also a bloody Ford parked at the back of it! Huh? Two rows, a GAP then two rows - not 3 rows of cars with mine stuck in middle! How stupid do you have to be to see two rows of cars and then park yours bumper to bumper at the back??? HOW BLOODY NUMPTY IS THAT? I had a great desire to leave a note full of expletives on their windscreen but was worried I'd return to smashed windows or flat tyres, so I wrote a slightly exasperated note asking exactly how I was meant to levitate over their car and complaining I now had to take a taxi to pick up my kids and then back to pick up my car. Of course we then had to walk to Derek's and back with all the kids and their belongings - a 50 minute round trip on foot I really could have done without after 3 hours in town!
Funnier still, 2 hours later I went round to see if I could retrieve my car - no luck - the Fords and the Toyota were still there - and amazingly the car I had left the nasty note on itself couldn't move as a fourth car had now boxed it in! Give me strength! Are they handing out driving licences to lobotomy patients these days??? (Finally escaped the church at 6pm, a full 3 hours late - won't be parking there in a hurry again!)

Saturday, December 16, 2006

KIBBLE AT LAST

I finally made it to the Kibble Palace after about 3 weeks of trying! It seemed odd to walk through its doors after 45 months.
From the kids were born, until March 2003 when the Kibble closed for restoration, we spent some time inside the glass house most weekends - we had picnics in it, or coffee or walked round the plants sheltering from the weather, or we even just dropped in the say hi to the goldfish.
Although I have missed it dreadfully, as it was closed only 45 months out of the 467 I have been alive, it didn't seem like a terribly long time. To my kids though it has been closed nearly or in Charlotte's case more than half their life. It was interesting to see the mixture of recognition and newness rolled into one as they entered it.
The first thing that I noticed when I entered was the missing tree fern in the middle of the fish pond. I could see a shape deep down in the water, so hope it is lurking down there ready to re-grow.
In the main part of the glass house there were many beautiful tree ferns, and all the familiar squirrel-sided benches around the perimeter for you to sit and read or picnic. The marble statues shone white in the winter sun. It was great to be back.
It did feel a tiny bit too bare though. In the old days it felt wild and overgrown with ferns pushing against the ceiling and branches overhanging the paths. It was so neat and tidy today. I will be wandering around it, probably on a weekly basis from now on but I will secretly be longing for it to get a wee bit wilder and messier. It'll be great once you can't see for the plants again and the smell of damp fern fills your nose as soon as you enter!

RIVER KELVIN PHOTOS AS PROMISED

I remembered my camera yesterday so here's a taste of how things are looking around Pudge's nursery.
The farmer probably won't be taking a walk in his field for a few days.
This tree looks a little bewildered.


And finally God help anyone who lives in Milton of Campsie and is trying to drive past this park of the river Kelvin to get home!


THE CHRISTMAS FAIRIES HAVE ESCAPED

this site could give a laugh or two over the next ten days, though as it has just started up, there aren't too many nutters outed just yet (check out Wolverhampton!) There also seems to be a link to a US site which I can only assume might be even more crazy. I must upload that house on the motorway on ramp at junction 5 of the M77 later today if I get time to take a photo as they are definitely slightly madder than last year, and they were already crazy enough then!
I am sure watching
However, maybe the Christmas fairylight eccentrics should bear in mind what it might do to the price of their house!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

MORE MATHS


Marcel has always been good at maths, in the top group at school since his first year in primary, he is about a year and a half ahead of what is expected of him at 9, on the same textbook as a couple of kids further down the street who are 12.

Anyway, tonight in the car Charlotte was muttering away to herself. When I strained to hear what she was saying I realized she was doing mental arithmetic - calculating the total price of items she had seen in a shop. She didn't have a pen and paper but was simply adding up large sums orally. As I listened, it suddenly occurred to me that not only was she doing it carrying over numbers and the likes in her head but she was doing it logically, as any (English-speaking) adult would - that is to say if she was adding £3-27 and £4-42, she didn't add 27 and 42 but instead added 20 and 40 then 7 and 2. I asked who had taught her to add that way and she just looked at me and said - 'no one but it is just obviously easier that way!' So when I got to the house I was determined to try out an experiment. I took out Marcel's maths homework and gave it to Charlotte (who is 3 years behind him at school and only 6) And as I suspected, she managed it.

WEATHER RIGHT UP TO OUR ARMPITS

I went to pick up Pudge today as usual at 1 o'clock. His nursery is about 200 metres from the river Kelvin in Kirkintilloch. As I drove along parallel to the river on its south bank every road on my left had a sign up saying 'road closed'. I didn't think much about it till I went to turn left into the road where the nursery is and that road too was closed! I managed to gain access after pointing out my baby was up there but wasn't allowed to drive beyond the nursery. The Kelvin had burst its banks and cars were in it up to their steering wheels. Why didn't I have my camera with me? I have made a mental note to leave my old camera in the boot of my car from tomorrow onwards. If the road is still in the same state I will photograph it then, but in the meantime these shots of Scotland also taken today probably give you a fair idea of the scale I am talking about.

WHAT'S YOURS?

A bit of Xmas fun - feel free to share yours with 'Wriggly Brandy butter-Sprout! '

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

BROLLY LITTERLOUTS


And now for a rant: what is it about people and their attitudes towards dead brollies?? The weather in Scotland has now been atrocious for about a week (well actually for several years but we'll not go there). We have puddles up to our armpits and worse still the wind accompanying this is of that amazing Scottish sidey-ways variety. To be honest, I haven't a clue why people persevere with brollies at all in such weather. There is no way an umbrella made of anything man has discovered so far can deal with Scottish weather. Consequently most brollies blow inside out within 5 minutes and are left as a twisted piled of material-less metal spokes within 10. But what baffles me even more than the use of the brollies in such weather is the way they are disposed of. You see people seem to think it is ok just to throw them on the pavement, possibly in disgust, once they blow inside out. This evening I passed two on one block of Cambridge street and another 3 in Rose street - 5 brollies in less than 2 minutes. Why do people think throwing a dead brolly on the pavement is acceptable when the same people possibly would think twice about throwing away any other form of rubbish: a bottle, a plastic bag or a newspaper? I find this sort of littering quite infuriating. This is the centre of Glasgow - there are bins everywhere - can't these lazy gits walk ten more steps even in the rain and put the broken umbrella in a bin instead?

CURRY MONSTER


It must be something about a 3rd kid. Whereas the first one was still on the bland mince and potatoes at 14 months, the 3rd one is acting like a grown-up. Tonight for dinner Pudge downed one poppadom, followed by one tandoori chicken wing, one piece of vegetable pakora, one side plate of chicken korma curry and boiled rice, followed by a second side plate of korma curry again with rice, followed by a third side plate of lamb bhuna also with rice. After that he only had room for half a glass of orange juice and one scoop of vanilla ice cream, but he refused the after eight mint! And this wasn't bland home-made baby curry - this was proper Indian restaurant curry! I don't think I can afford to keep feeding him at this rate - he'll need to get a job as soon as he can walk a wee bit better!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

OLD SCOTS


I've been toying with the idea for months that I should probably blog a Scottish word or two every few weeks just so my kids come to recognize them in years to come as many died out in active use in my grandparents' generation meaning I can understand them but my children will never hear them. Tonight when I blogged Cliff, I suddenly realized I couldn't bear to look a that hideous photo every time I logged on to my blog, so would have to post something, anything in fact, just so I didn't see it as the last posting! So maybe tonight would be a good night for a random Scottish word...hmmmm let me think...how about 'syne'. When I was little, sorry wee, after dinner on a Saturday night, we always had dinner with my grandparents, Matt and Jean, on Saturdays, Granny used to disappear into the tiny kitchenette, announcing she was 'away to syne the dishes'. I was puzzled. I understood that she was going to sign the plates and cups. Why on earth would anyone want to autograph the crockery? As usual, instead of asking I spent manys a long hour wondering what 'to syne' meant - I guess I was always destined for lexicography! Anyway for all you non-Scots out there - to syne means to wash or to rinse something, so now you know!


ONE FOR MARGARET?



I heard Cilla Black advertize this earlier today on radio 2. Oops, the first episode was on an hour ago, but never mind, there's a 'listen to the programme again' button on radio 2's webpage for anyone that way inclined. In fact it's a pity Maggie and mum didn't get a note of the crazy Danish family's phone number last week, as they strike me as the kind of nutters who might want to tune in, again and again, to this drivel!

AN OBSERVATION ABOUT POLITICS



I was trawling through the BBC politics pages today when I came across this photo along with another yawn-worthy story about Iran - whatever, as my kids would say...
However what struck me, as often struck me towards the end of Bill Clinton's time in power too was the effect political power has on the younger politician's physical appearance. Up till Clinton and Blair, we have, on the whole, been used to older world leaders who already appeared grey-haired at the outset of their terms in office but when politicians gain high office earlier in life, it seems age them dreadfully. At the start of his presidency, Clinton was dark-haired but by 2000 he was already completely grey (sorry gray), ok you could argue that was actually marital strife and sleepless nights rather than the world economy, but Blair too seems to have aged by many more years than he has actually been in power. I wonder if all those years in publishing have done the same to me or if this affliction only comes with the big job!?

LEONHARD EULER


Pick yourself back off the floor - I realize the shock of me blogging something vaguely intellectual for a change instead of my usual inane drivel about socks or dirty nappies will shock you to the core! I did have a brain once back in the olden days, honest! When I studied 1st year university calculus and numerical analysis I had to write a computer program to prove Euler's theory of mathematical function. It took me 3 months to write, as I knew nothing about programming having only studied pure mathematics, it worked wonderfully even if I do say so myself, unfortunately it gave the wrong answer to all equations :-\ (so maybe I didn't have a brain actually). But I did pass so I guess they must have given me some marks for effort and perseverance.
Anyway, why am I on about Euler? Well Euler was the answer to a question on a quiz show Marcel was watching the other night and I actually remembered it - it is amazing what rubbish the mind pigeonholes for 2 decades only to bring to the surface, uselessly many years later. Also I didn't want my blog to be pigeonholed as complete inane drivel.

Monday, December 11, 2006

HARPERCOLLINS KIDS' XMAS BASH

Sunday saw this year's HarperCollins children's Xmas party. Every parent dreads the two hours of noise, chaos, and non-stop sweets rotting their kids' teeth away one by one. Unfortunately every HCP kid remembers the sweetie bonanza so well from the previous year that they start asking on a daily basis from August onwards when the party will take place. So there's absolutely no escaping it :-\
However, Lotsie did get a Bratz doll from Santa this year - he's definitely blotted his copybook. He failed to realize she would rather have meccano or a new football strip! (Maybe that way I'll get out of next year's!)

BEWARE OF PIKELETS!



While shopping on Saturday I found something I had never seen in my life seen before named a 'pikelet'. I absolutely adore crumpets with butter and rolled up, pancakes are an acceptable second when ASDA is out of crumpets so when it was out of both on Saturday, I surely could be forgiven for assuming a pikelet belonged to the same delicious family, given how it looks. How WRONG can a person be? Pikelets are possibly the most vile little impostors you are ever likely to encounter on your supermarket shelf. Doughy, sugarless, chewy lumps of washing-up liquid to be precise.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

OUR BEAUTIFUL PLANET



Isn't this panorama I found of the view from the top of mount Everest pretty?

DOES SIZE MATTER?


I was reading my way through today's news when I came across an article about an interesting problem in India! It isn't something I had thought about before, though I guess it stands to reason. I mean certain nationalities are noticeably taller than others - your average Scandinavian bloke tends to tower over your average Spaniard. And certain nationalities are thinner than others - I've never met a Chinese woman whose bum is bigger than a UK size 8, and most of us here in the UK only vaguely remember the last time we were a size 8, back in our teens!

I suppose it is a problem if they are so big they keep falling off but when the alternative is to ask for 'extra small' at the local chemist, I wonder how many men would be willing to admit to that? ;-)

BEAUTIFUL KIBBLE


Kibble Palace at night
Originally uploaded by
viralbus.
I wonder if I will have more luck this week? After blogging last Thursday about the re-opening of the Kibble Palace, I made the kids walk all the way from town to the West End in the rain to see it. We arrived at 4-16pm, and were greeted by this beautiful sight. Marcel pushed on the door, locked! I read it - Winter closing time 4-15pm :-( I'll try again today. I saw this photo (6) on the BBC photo pages yesterday, now I want to see my beloved ferns for myself.

Friday, December 08, 2006

SCHOOLWEAR - THE CHANGES ARE NOT ENOUGH!

I just picked up my kids from school. I usually drive down the main road to the school as it is quite far but for a change today I came at the school from the other side which necessitates passing the high school that their school, Kirkhill Primary, feeds on to. The high school kids were just coming out of Mearns Castle in their uniforms. The thing that really struck me was the sea of red ties. Little girls wearing ties in particular. It took me back to my own school days when things were even worse. Nowadays at primary school kids wear a polo shirt with the school logo and a sweatshirt the same over the top of that.

I am all in favour of school uniforms for many reasons. First you spot someone who shouldn't be in the playground immediately when all the others are dressed the same, secondly I don't spend hours in battles explaining to my kids why they don't need designer schoolwear, there's no bullying related to clothing - everyone is dressed the same so no one is obviously very rich or very poor etcetc. This becomes even more important at high school where they are more aware of designer clothes and where an outsider in the school area would otherwise be harder to spot. However, whereas primary uniforms have moved on from the starched shirts and ludicrous ties I had to wear even as a tiny 4 year old, high school uniforms have moved very little since I was a child. Girls still have to wear ties to high school, although they now wear trousers at least. (I wasn't allowed to despite the Scottish climate!) I think uniforms are great for the reasons above but why can't they be comfortable and functional - a tie is utterly useless and where 20% of the boys may be unlucky/stupid enough to move on to careers where they are stuck wearing stupid ties, none of the girls are ever likely to need one in their adult life. I see absolutely no reason why high school uniforms can't be a simple T-shirt with logo just as they wear until they leave primary school at 12? Come on - let's move in to the noughties, guys!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

BLOODY USELESS COMPUTER, BLOODY USELESS COMPUTER REPAIR SHOP


I don't think I mentioned it at the time, well maybe in the passing on one of my NY postings but I definitely didn't devote a whole posting to it. What? My damned computer's DC socket problem, of course! Basically about August my computer started acting up - every so often though the power cable was plugged in, the toolbar would tell me I was running off battery and not mains. Consequently it wouldn't always charge. Eventually in October I just couldn't get it to run off the mains at all so I took it to be repaired. It was taken apart and the internal DC socket was replaced and reattached - it worked great... for 4 weeks till the problem recurred. I took it back and didn't even offer to pay - I simply handed it to the shop and told them I would pick it up in full working order the following week. They didn't seem to want to mess with me. I returned and it was waiting - repaired. The repair worked well for 4 more weeks and then of course two days ago, I was sitting here happily blogging, plugged into the mains when my nasty little blue battery light flashed on to tell me I wasn't connected to my cable once again. So Saturday morning will no doubt see another trip to the computer repair shop, followed my much gnashing of teeth and many threats, followed once again by me sitting miserably unable to blog for three or four more days.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

HOUSE PRICES :-(

I find it depressingly interesting to look at the housing market these days. It is fine for people like me who are already on the property ladder but I am struck by the vast difference between the increase in salaries and the increase in house prices since I bought my first flat in 1993. Then André and I bought a one bedroom flat in the West End of Glasgow in Havelock street. Although we bought it together, I could have bought it alone as the selling price of £45000 was more or less exactly what the bank was willing to lend me in a mortgage at that time. I was looking at the GSPC just now and a flat exactly the same as mine in Havelock street is now on the market for 'offers over £110000'. Anyone who knows the West End knows that means it will go for approximately £143000. Working fulltime the maximum I would now be lent is around £87000. So in just 13 years single publishing editors have been completely priced out of a housing market that was easily within their reach just a few years ago. I wonder if my kids will be able to leave home ever if this pattern continues?

FAILING POWERS OF OBSERVATION

Léon put something he shouldn't have in his mouth yesterday, a piece of plastic, so I stuck my finger in to fish it out and met more than I had bargained for. Firstly I hit a huge molar on the bottom left of his jaw. It is so far through it must have been there for 10 days minimum, so how on earth didn't I notice it when I was brushing his teeth? It nearly took my finger off, possibly because it was grinding against an equally large top molar. Amazing! What sort of mother doesn't notice her kid is teething? So just before dragging out the piece of plastic I thought I had better check the other side. Yes - two there too, completely through. Léon has a full set of 4 molars and got through it all without the slightest hint of a grump. Clever boy, hopeless mother!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

FESTIVE BANANAS


festive bananas
Originally uploaded by phyl1.
Once again Charlotte is living in a parallel universe. Driving past this yesterday she commented: I don't see what half a banana has to do with Christmas anyway!

FEELING OLD - A PHYL'S BLOG LEITMOTIF? WHAT AGAIN????

I was driving home from work the other day listening to radio 2. Now up till a few months ago I listened mainly to radio 4 or radio Scotland for the book programme, or politics or whatever, so to find myself tuned into radio 2 shocked me in itself - oh my god I chose to put on radio 2 - that's what middle-aged parents listen to, not young people like me :-\ Oh shit, I am getting old!!! Worse still they were playing Gary Numan on radio 2. If Gary's made it onto radio 2, I really am old! When I was a teenager clinging on to my beloved ABBA, my more daring contemporaries were turning to punk and the likes of Gary Numan but now Gary's so tame he's on radio 2! Where does life go in such a hurry? I must ring my old schoolmate Fiona Campbell (who wanted to marry Gary when she was 14!) and tell her they're playing Gary on radio 2, she'll be devastated! He was definitely a radio 1 guy in my day. Anyway Pudge didn't seem to mind, he was positively boogying out his seat to 'Are friends electric?' I must download him it for Xmas.

Oh...and while I may put up with Jeremy Vine or Steve Wright, I will certainly never be turning on radio 2 when that plonker (the politest term I could think of) Wogan is on.

Monday, December 04, 2006

RHESUS INCOMPATIBILITY, ANTI-D AND WHY I DON'T FANCY KOREA FOR A HOLIDAY!

I was thinking the other day about the leaps and bounds made in medical science since my Granny's day. In the 40s if you were a woman with a negative blood group and your partner had a positive one, nothing could be done. If you had a child together and its blood type was negative, life was just great. If you had a child together and its blood group was positive, the effect was worse than devastating. With less than 15% of the population in general being rhesus negative, there isn't an enormous problem, however it seems to be a recurrent problem in my family.

My dad was the first child of a negative mother and positive father, my dad's blood type is O+. The result changed his life forever. His siblings, two I think, died at birth, their red blood cells destroyed by the blood that had passed into his negative mother during his own birth.

When my parents met, once again the problem arose - mum is AB-, dad is positive. They were taken into a quiet room in the hospital during her first pregnancy and told the devastating news that because of rhesus incompatibility which had been worked on a little since the 40s, their chances of having more than nine live births were zero! Nine? Mum and dad laughed aloud and told the doctor they had been planning a football team! ;-) But seriously, in the 60s, people in that situation would have a first healthy baby followed by increasingly sickly ones until the stillbirths kicked in. Mum and dad were luckier than Granny and Granda. Their first child, me, was born with rhesus negative blood, assuring their second child would be healthy whether negative or positive and they didn't have a third.

Then history repeated itself once more. When I married André, I found out he too had O+, against my B-. Fortunately, being very aware of rhesus problems from family history I enquired straight away about the implications. In the 90s, it was treated by giving anti-D if bleeding, miscarriage or amniocentesis took place and after birth the baby's own blood group was checked and you were given a further anti-D shot within 12 hours should your baby turn out to be rhesus positive. By 2005 when I had Léon, this had been increased to offering rhesus negative women anti-D shots every 4-6 weeks through pregnancy whether or not any bleeding or fluid exchange had taken place. By the end of each of my pregnancies I was so full of anti-D I was fit to burst. And my kids: Marcel B-, Charlotte O-, Léon B-, of course!!! It is devastatingly ironic though that nowadays when we have all this knowledge and technology to combat rhesus disease, I manage to produce only rhesus negative children which would have been unaffected by the invention or not of anti-D and would have survived just as well in the 40s, while my poor grandmother had only positive children back in the days when the doctors couldn't save them. Life's a bitch at times :-(

Anyway, I thought this table was interesting:
It brings home to me just how rare I, my kids (and my mum) are and explains I guess that the chances of me having all these negative babies was very slim. It also reminded me to give blood when I can (I can't at the moment because they won't touch you when you are breast-feeding). And more than anything else it underlined to me why I should refuse if the work ever tries to send me to South Korea on business ;-) I certainly don't fancy my chances there, should I have an accident and need a transfusion!

GOOD NEWS


Léon had an ultrasound scan of his kidneys and bladder today at Yorkhill Hospital to check whether or not the kidney infection last month had caused any damage. They had this cool, but not very well thought-through idea to keep the kids still and happy while being scanned. Firstly they laid him down on his back to scan his bladder. They turned on a projector which projected cartoon images onto the ceiling. He was impressed. He watched and pointed. Then they turned him onto his front to scan his kidneys - of course he then couldn't see the ceiling but knew he was missing something. It took three of us to hold him down while he screamed and twisted to see the cartoon cows on the ceiling. Hmmmm. The consultant informed me she saw no cause for concern.

IRN BRU - THE BEST ADVERT EVER!


I saw on dad's blog the other day that there's a new IRN BRU ad out for Christmas. I missed its showing on TV recommended by dad so checked it out online just now. This is absolutely superb! Not only does it show you lots of well known Scottish tourist attractions, but the new words to the old song are brilliant. The sweet snowman turns into some sort of evil Glasgow ned and mugs a kid for his Irn Bru while flying over the Falkirk Wheel, Loch Ness (complete with monster), Edinburgh Castle, the Forth rail and road bridges, Eilean Donan castle, Glasgow Royal Opera House, Glasgow's George Square and the rail viaduct at Glenfinnan. This has to be the best ad I've seen in years. I, for one, will be drinking nothing but Irn Bru for the whole festive season I'm so impressed :-)

Saturday, December 02, 2006

A FUNNY MORNING



I woke up this morning to two stories that amused me. The first actually had me laugh out loud!

Derek told me on msn that having been rather sleepy when he put wee Gordy to bed last night after his bath he had cosily put on his vest, PJs and grobag, then put him down for his usual 12 hour snooze. Only this morning when he went in to waken him up did he sense something was amiss. His nose was greeted by a worse than usual odour as he entered the bedroom - Gordy is a prolific shitter you see. On further inspection, he found he had actually put the ten month old to bed last night without a nappy on. HAHAHAHA. Derek, they don't manage through the night without a nappy until they are two and a half or three!
But it was definitely worth it - I haven't laughed out loud in months!

STOP PRESS: I am now actually crying with laughter having just spoken to Derek a second time on msn! Apparently to help, when he discovered his error, he ran with Gingerman's vest to the sink to steep it in some hot water, unfortunately failing to notice the adult-sized turd ensconced within which proceeded to block the utility room sink. HAHAHAHA. Ironically when I was round on Thursday, Amanda was just saying how Gordon's nappies were never very solid - she was wondering when they would start to become more adult-like. Perfect comic timing, Gordon, well done!



The other was an email from mum about her Cliffy concert last night. She wrote:
In front of us last night was a family of four [Mum, Dad, Son about 10 & Daughter about 7]
Son is waving a Danish Flag!!!

Nobody but me seemed to recognise this fact, but the woman behind the boy got fed up, not being able to see for this flag...and....asked him to stop waving it in front of her.
This was just before the interval.
At the interval, the Dad apologises and explains....."We are just excited, we have come all the way from Denmark for this concert!"
We ask, "Does Cliff not come to Denmark?" Reply......." Oh yes, but not until next March....and we have tickets for that concert too!!!!"
I'll say no more!

A family flew from Denmark to Glasgow to see Cliff Richard in concert? Is that possible? Thomas is in shock.

Friday, December 01, 2006

MUM'S NIGHT OUT :-)


Tonight is a thrilling night in Glasgow's entertainment calendar...not many people know that ;-)

It all started last November when mum and dad were sunning themselves on the beach in Florida while the rest of us froze our backsides off back here in Glasgow. They didn't have a care in the world, well once the hurricane had blown over and they could come back out the fall-out shelter and inspect the damage (which seemed to be a lack of electricity), they didn't. I, on the other hand was having a hard time. You see, despite being ex-directory, mum's old primary school friend, Margaret, had got a hold of my phone number and was inundating me with phone calls, inquiring whether or not I thought my mum would like her (Margaret) to buy her (mum) a ticket for a
Cliff Richard concert which was to take place 13 months later. Margaret was worried that if mum returned from America in December and found the concert had sold out she would be beside herself with grief so implored me to ring mum in America and let her know about this great opportunity. I rang mum in Florida and asked if she wanted a ticket. Her reply was something along the lines: "What? Why? He hasn't made a decent record in years! Well if it is cheap I'll go to keep her company but I don't fancy it. How much are the tickets anyway?" I checked online there and then and informed her tickets seemed to start around fifty quid, she choked in shock, muttered "no way!" and hung up. I rang Margaret and told her mum would not be devastated if she missed out on tickets and thought nothing more about it, until the following day when Margaret rang again asking if I was sure mum really didn't want to go, and the next day, and the next day... I recontacted mum who was adamant she wasn't going to pay £50 to see a past-his-sell-by-date pensioner sing. Margaret sounded disappointed but let it rest.

In the run up to Xmas mum felt guilty that Margaret was missing out on the concert because she knew she was unlikely to go alone, so bought her a full set of Cliffy DVDs as her Xmas present. Xmas day came and mum duly gave Margaret her DVDs, Margaret handed mum her present, a smaller package than usual, definitely not pyjamas, make-up or jewellery, intrigued mum opened it to find - yes a concert ticket for tonight's Cliff Richard concert in the
SECC! Tee hee hee.

Mum, Maggie and Cliff go way back you see. It had started in the late 50s, when all young girls were fans and Cliff was a sexy young lad! ;-)
In the 70s mum, Margaret, Heather (Margaret's daughter) and I used to go to a concert annually at the famous old Glasgow Apollo and have a whale of a time dancing in the aisles. Even Derek came once (sorry to attack your street cred Derek ;-) ) My excuse was that I was about 8, it was ok to like Cliff if you were 8! I even remember coming home from school one day in 76 to find my granny in residence at our house. "Where's mum?" I asked. Mum was out all day, unheard of when I was a child. It turned out she'd won a competition on the radio and had got to spend the afternoon having lunch with Cliff and was worried I might die of a broken heart because she hadn't stopped by the school and taken me with her! I probably refused to speak to her for a week in disgust!

So tonight mum and Margaret are away dancing in the aisles, maybe? And I decided to take a wee trip down memory lane. Googling Cliff to see his achievements, I read that in May 2006
the video for his song Wired For Sound (1981) was appointed as "worst video ever" at VH1. The video features Cliff surrounded by rollerskaters with colourful skin-tight garments skating around the shopping centre at Milton Keynes :-) I bet even mum and Margaret don't know that fact!

Anyway it was fun at 7 or 8 to go out on the town with mum and Margaret. Going to a concert was such an exotic thing to do, but 30 years on, I for one, am glad they left Heather, (Derek) and I at home this time round! If your not squeamish by nature, may I recommend
this page of photos - they are truly barf-worthy! What is he doing with that tennis racket and guitar? Why is he posing in the gym wearing silver slippers????

DOING HIS HAIR


Doing my hair
Originally uploaded by phyl1.
Léon picked this bobble up off the side of the bath and tried to put it in his hair the other day. I was quite impressed by his powers of observation. He knew immediately that it was meant to go in his hair despite the fact that he has only ever seen it in the hair. He has never actually seen me put it in someone's hair of course, given the Marcel is a boy and has 2cm long hair and Charlotte would rather have me stick burning hot pokers in her eyeballs than let me do something as girlie as put a bobble in her hair (I last convinced her to wear one in the Dordogne in the summer of 2003 when the thermometer reached 46 degree celsius in the shade and she risked passing out in the heat! Léon of course wasn't born then.) Anyway he didn't actually manage to get it in his hair but he showed a distinct desire to wear it! Maybe he'll be more girlie than his big sister!

AN ABBA MUST-SEE


Flicking throught the BBC's entertainment pages today when I found this. Hahahaha. I'll definitiely need to keep an eye on Ryanair's special offers so I can nip over to Stockholm next time they're doing free flights. I truly believe it is every true fan's duty ;-)

Thursday, November 30, 2006

ITS LONG-AWAITED RETURN


Since the day it closed in March 2003 I have been at a loose end. My very favourite place in all of Glasgow was dismantled, not before time of course as it was falling to pieces and had become a sorry sight, but still I suddenly had nowhere to sit on a rainy Saturday afternoon, or on a cold winter's day. When I lived in my beloved West End I spent most of my spare time in there. I'd read a book, take the kids for walks, stand and watch the fish and the ferns. I'd go to the breezy café and sit alone. Maternity leaves were fondly spent breastfeeding tiny babies in there away from the harsh Glasgow wind. I missed taking Léon there during my last maternity leave. In fact it is odd to think I have a child who has never been inside the Kibble palace. It will be interesting to see if Charlotte remembers it, having only been 3 when it closed its doors, though of course she had spent forever inside it before then. Happily, today, St Andrew's day saw it reopen to the public. At last :-) I for one will be through its doors before the week is out breathing a huge sigh of relief, with my camera round my neck and my kids in tow.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

DEFINITELY ˈgɪŋərər !


When Derek rang us on 18 January last year to tell us Gordon had been born, he described him as a ginger, as in /ˈgɪŋər/ . Amanda and Derek now both claim Gordy, like Pudge is a blond. Personally though, dad and I think Gordy is definitely gingerer /ˈgɪŋərər/ than his big cous!

WALKIE PUDGINATOR


Léon has learned to walk! :-) He has been a few weeks slower than my other kids because he was so unwell for part of October and November but finally over then last few days he has been trying over and over to take a step or two. Right up till yesterday when we cracked it. When placed standing on Granny's rug he managed 2 or 3 steps, but when Granny opened a packet of Cadbury's Chocolate Buttons and sat at the far end of her living room, Pudge suddenly found the coordination to walk the full length of the room in her direction! ...like a tiny man on a mission!

Monday, November 27, 2006

HOW TO TELL THE NEXT OF KIN

I was listening to Radio 4 last night when an interesting discussion came on. The topic was a news announcement made on 11-11-06 on the BBC World Service about some soldiers killed on a boat in Iraq. A soldier's mother had written in complaining that because the names of the dead were withheld, this broadcast had unnecessarily panicked the families of all service personnel in Iraq. She offered 2 solutions: 1) The BBC should withhold such news until after the next of kin are told, 2) The names of the service personnel should be released with the broadcast as although that would upset those involved, it would instantly calm everyone else and those who were about to be told the worst were about to be told it anyway! Number 1 was instantly ruled out because another member of the global media would simply beat the BBC to releasing the news. That left 2.This brough back very personal memories to me of 1990. I was driving my brother through Glasgow having just put my parents on a plane to Malta to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. On the Radio Clyde news came the announcement that a pensioner was critically ill after a house fire in Glasgow, when the pensioner's name, William Buchanan, was said on air I nearly crashed the car. I had to stop and try to believe my ears. My grandfather had been critically injured in an accident and I was being told by the radio while at the wheel of a car. After visiting my grandfather in hospital, the realisation of what had happen hit me. I rang the radio station and went mad. I was told that they had tried to contact Granda's next of kin, dad, and been told he was abroad. Instead of contacting the next next of kin, myself, the information had been released to the radio. Believe me, it is not something you want to hear while driving a car.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

MORE POLITICS

I was reading this week about Ségolène Royal the would-be first female president of France, and more power to her, she has to be better than Jean-Marie, who I assume has crawled back out from under his hideous stone, as usual. One thing did impress me though - she has four kids. YES FOUR!!!! How can she even get out to work in the morning with her brain still intact with 4 kids? I'm lucky I remember to get dressed these days before getting into the office and breakfast is often a piece of fruit loaf in the car in the midst of a traffic jam. I suppose her kids must be past the 'wanting to drink milk at 5am stage'? But it does give me hope that one day my brain too may be capable of a more taxing career. And if she can run 4 kids and still look presentable, I guess running France will be a piece of cake after that! I will watch this presidential campaign with interest :-)

Saturday, November 18, 2006

DEFINITELY NOT GEORGE BUSH

I was reading on the BBC online this week that Rudi Giuliani is considering standing for the next US presidential election. It described him as a Republican who stood for gay marriages, stem cell research and abortion rights. I'm not a great fan of Republicans in general and George W in particular, so was more than surprisesd the hear the party actually did contain some vaguely sane human beings. How refreshing! (Though, of course I still could never vote for them even if I was American!)

THE WORLD'S MOST HIDEOUS TEA SET


the world's most hideous tea set
Originally uploaded by
phyl1.
I saw this in the window of a shop in Riga and did a double-take. At first I couldn't quite believe that someone had embossed dogs in suits onto expensive fine bone china. It was the dearest thing in the shop and obviously meant for a passing aristocrat or the likes, but I ask you - dogs in suits???? Was the guy who designed it on drugs or something? It was truly the most hideous thing I had seen in years. I wonder if some poor bugger will get it as a Christmas present ;-)

NORDEA BANK


Latvia
Originally uploaded by
phyl1.
I was watching TV in the hotel in Latvia last weekend to see how much Latvian I could understand. We'd just come in because it was snowing outside. An ad came on the TV for personal loans from the Nordea Bank - they seemed to be suggesting you could take out a loan for home improvements citing an outdoor swimming pool as a good investment...huh? An outdoor swimming pool in Riga, Latvia. Brrrr.

Friday, November 17, 2006

HAIRDRESSERS UPDATED


I finally took the bull by the horns, bit the bullet and all those other nasty things yesterday, so that's that ordeal over with for another few months :-)

CIGARETTES UPDATED

In case anyone is interested I checked out the supermarket yesterday - cigarettes average £5-43 a packet in Glasgow, approximately 1000% more expensive than in Latvia. I guess that is why I don't know anyone who smokes here in Scotland. It is odd, as a child in the 70s everyone's parents smoked, everyone's grandparents too, now with a blanket indoor smoking ban and a 20-a-day habit setting you back £1 981.95 a year it has become something only the poorest in society seem to be able to afford, weird! Everyone from my parents' generation is now a reformed ex-smoker, and many of my generation never took it up. I guess that'll make Scotland a much healthier place when my kids have kids. Actually I first became aware of the major change in the smoking phenomenon in about 2003. One day in the street Charlotte asked me: What is that man doing with that fire, mum? Curious, I looked around to see a bloke light a cigarette with a lighter. It dawned on me that although at 3 she had an amazing vocabulary, she didn't even have the tools to ask about cigarettes because she had never seen anyone smoke. How things have changed. I must have had a passive-smoking habit of hundreds a week at 3 :-(

PHOTOSTITCHING


Don't you just love the effects you can achieve by stitching photos together? I felt that Manhattan lent itself particularly well to this method of creating breath-taking panoramas, although of course I have used the technique back here in Glasgow too on occasion. I must try to use it for cloning too.

3 LEGGED LADY


3 legged lady
Originally uploaded by
phyl1.
Every time Charlotte flies Ryanair she studies the safety card and then asks, quite seriously, why this woman has 3 legs. She really sees the world quite differently from the rest of us sometimes!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

A HEARTIER APPETITE


pasta
Originally uploaded by phyl1.
I have been complaining now for weeks about Léon's health. He ate little more than a yogurt on his sick days and survived merely on breastmilk like a newborn. Even last week when he had become more mobile again, he didn't stand or crawl for the four weeks he was ill, he still didn't have much of an appetite and had to be forced to take a few spoonfuls of soup a day. HOWEVER...as you can see things changed at the weekend. This adult portion of pasta was supposed to do him and me but once he had finished it in its entirety, I was left with a little potato pancake for my dinner :-)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

UTTER MADNESS


I heard this on radio Scotland on the way home tonight. Now I am no raving green looney. I do see the sense of saving the planet for future generations, and I recycle when I can but I have been known to throw the odd tin or newspaper in the normal bin if it is raining too heavily to reach the recycling bin. And I don't feel the slightest guilt at hopping on and off 12 planes a year, after all you only live once so you have so see the planet! However even I think this is utter madness. They catch them here, they sell them here, we eat them here but they are sending them on a world tour just to save on the peeling charges - stupid, stupid world! And moreover, half of Poland has moved to Scotland to take up these jobs, does that mean we're going to be knee-deep in unemployed Poles, too? Poor buggers!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

GEY HAIRY-ARSED TEENAGERS!




I was having a mid-life crisis the other week so decided to go on a trip down memory lane by watching one of my favourite movies: Grease! It brought back wonderful memories of singing, dancing and drinking all night with my uni friends as a 20 year old! I must dig out the Rocky Horror Picture Show too some time!
I remember when I first saw Grease in 1978 (when I was 10) thinking how old the actors looked for supposedly being schoolkids - but when you are 10, an 18 year old does seem like an adult. At 20 I still thought they looked pretty old compared to myself but I did look young for my age and google wasn't around in those days to check. I even remember my old Gramps shuffling through the livingroom one day as I watched the video, muttering in his own inimitable fashion: 'they're gey hairy-arsed teenagers, thaem!' However, I was surprised last week when I watched it again to still find the actors looked ages with me, given I am now pushing 40! It wasn't so much John Travolta who was narrow and therefore youngish but the women, come on! So onto google I went. Olivia was 30, playing a teenager and Stockard Channing was an astounding 34 playing an 18 year old! Who the hell cast this movie? (John was 24 btw, if you are interested). Maybe if they are doing a remake in the near future, I could audition for Olivia's role - I mean I do know all the words of the songs and at 38, I am definitely in the right age-bracket for playing an 18 year old ;-)

Monday, November 13, 2006

LATVIAN LUNG CANCER


Have a look at this picture, bearing in mind that the Latvian Lat is worth almost to the penny exactly the same as the pound sterling! Isn't this incredible? Things are cheaper in Latvia: public transport is amazingly cheap (20p for a half hour bus trip to the airport) but food and drink aren't wildly cheap - I mean a coffee you pay £2 in the UK would cost maybe £1-30 or you might pay £3 for a pasta dish that would cost £5 here. So the cigarette price is astonishing. As far as I know a pack is about a fiver in the UK, maybe more, I will check later when I am at the supermarket, but there you get them for 30 odd pence! Strangely restaurants, shopping malls and stations seem to be smokefree, though you practically have to swim through the group of smokers standing at the door in the freezing cold! It seems strange the Latvian government hasn't sussed quite how much tax they could make on the product - does this date back to the Soviet era, maybe? Anyway with the entire population of Latvia potentially 20 years away from extinction from lung cancer, maybe it is a good place to buy shares in anti-cancer drugs?

Friday, November 10, 2006

HAIRDRESSERS

I tend to have reasonably long hair most of the time. most people perhaps assume that is because I like long hair! I don't mind it but it is actually because I loathe going to the hairdresser with a passion. I equate it with a trip to the dentist to have a tooth extracted (not that I have ever had a tooth extracted but given the choice I may even opt for the tooth option.) Hairdressers are almost on a par with wasps in my book. I am not sure if this stems from a childhood where I generally had either long hair, or hair trimmed by my mum but I have almost no recollection of childhood trips to the hairdresser. As a female adult, the banter usually goes something like: 'Are you doing anything nice on Friday evening?' To which I would like to reply 'No, I have 3 little kids, please bugger off and leave me in peace - you don't give a damn about what I am doing on Friday and I don't know you and therefore don't want to speak to you!' But that is impolite so I waffle painfully. Why do they feel it necessary to chat to you for the whole half hour as if you were their best mate? I guess that is why I rarely colour my hair - that means an extra hour of waffling to the enemy! The solution would probably be to befriend a hairdresser but I have never managed that. Each time I see someone different so each time I go through the ordeal of small talk. Maybe they should have hairdressers for people who hate hairdressers! Where the women who cut your hair promise to ignore you or leave you to read a book in peace while they chop away at you. I should look into that! I can't be the only person who hates visiting the hairdresser?

Oh and the reason for this rant by the way, of course, is that my hair really needs cutting at the moment :-(

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

SO SWEET

Today Pudge picked up the phone while his brother and sister were at school, pressed a few numbers, held it up near his ear and said, "guys?" Isn't that sooo sweet? :-)

LÉON'S HEALTH... YET AGAIN

The last thing Yorkhill hospital said to me last week was that they'd taken a urine sample to cultivate over the weekend and would only ring me if something abnormal showed up. So when the phone rang today in the house at 2-45pm, I was less than surprised when a paediatrician introduced herself to me. Léon has a urine infection but I am not to worry because the antibiotics they gave me for his sore willy will have cleared it up - of course I didn't give him them, did I? I still haven't had him allergy-tested so was giving him a day or two to get better on his own before I inflicted any more antibacterial muck on his little system - ho hum. So it looks like he needs to have them after all - just as well the bottle is still in the fridge. Then they want him back at the renal clinic firstly to check the antibiotics have cleared his kidneys and secondly to run another set of kidney tests as a precaution. So it looks like the saga will drag on some weeks yet. (And: Watch this space to see if he has any adverse reaction to the 5ml of penicillin he received 20 minutes ago)!

GROUND ZERO



I guess this has to be the final New York topic, there is no avoiding it. I had known from I touched down in New Jersey that whatever else I did I would pass Ground Zero at some point, not because I wanted to go like some vulture and see it but because I knew that wherever I went in downtown Manhattan there would be no way to avoid it because it is such a huge scar on its face.
I deliberately got off the tourist bus a few stops before it, not only because I didn't know how I would react to it, and I didn't want to be together with a group of tourists, but also because I needed to be alone with my only post-2001 baby when I came face to face with the scene that would forever make him different from my other kids. He was the only one born into that new world, the one that changed forever that day.
I looked at a rough map I had in my pocket to see where exactly it was, which street I should turn up to get to it, as everything is such a maze. I wasn't where I had thought. I was still in Greenwich village, so I walked and that was when I found myself at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge. That was nice. I had expected to visit Ground Zero and instead I had this euphoric Brooklyn and back experience that probably took me over an hour.
When I left the Brooklyn Bridge, I didn't reconsult my map, I just walked aimlessly, figuring I would find it if I headed for the Battery Park. I turned a corner and came face to face with a huge silver station sign. It didn't register at first. I read it: World Trade Center Path Station. As the last word passed from my eyes to my brain, I became instantly as cold as ice, my heart seemed to be trying some how to escape from my throat. Tears started to roll involuntarily down my face. I looked around. I was the only single tourist. I was the only person crying. Others in groups of 3 or 4 were posing in front of the sign and smiling. I felt that was so wrong. For half and hour Léon and I quietly walked right round the site, just alone with our thoughts. One of the four sides had a wall, blocks in length just covered in the names of those people. I read the first 2 or 3 but it was too much to contemplate, so I thought of them as a group and not as individuals, just for that one day. It was the only way to walk on. From my skipping euphoria on the Brooklyn Bridge I suddenly felt a cold despair. I needed to get away from there. I walked slowly thinking: Why?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

BROOKLYN BRIDGE

Almost finished on the topic of NY for now, you'll be relieved to hear but I still have two final topics. The Brooklyn Bridge being one of them. On Mon 9 October, as you know I was going to see Barbra in concert. I remembered in an interview years ago how she had said walking across the Brooklyn Bridge to Manhattan to see her first Theatre Show had been what had made her decide to go into show business. On Monday 9th, it was 27 degrees, the sky was cloudless and I found myself in Southern Manhattan. What better day to walk that bridge?, I thought. I went across with few preconceived ideas. The bridge was not quite what I had expected. The pedestrian part was above and in the middle of the traffic and made of old wooden beams. Pudge's buggy made a really cool noise as I wheeled it across the bridge. As I looked back towards Manhattan in the beautiful sunlight and smelled the ocean beneath me, as I watched the little boats sailing out to Liberty island and Ellis island I felt 10 years younger. I found myself skipping with joy like a carefree child, instead of carrying the weight of my grown-up problems as usual. I don't know what lifted my mood in that way but I felt almost euphoric. I wanted to sing with joy. The Brooklyn Bridge had an amazing and unexpected effect on me. I'd recommend it to anyone who's feeling down! :-)

FIREWORKS AND BROKEN LAPTOPS

Tonight I thought the kids might enjoy this. Last year Pudge was only 5 weeks old on bonfire night so we didn't go. This will be his first sight of fireworks. I hope he finds them fun rather than terrifying, otherwise the effort of getting there might not be worth it!

I'll take the camera along. I have always found fireworks notoriously difficult to photograph well. I am sure there is a technique to it but unfortunately I have not found it. I did once get a firework photo published on the BBC. It was, however, of the people watching the fireworks and not of the fireworks themselves! I will upload it to this post next time I am on my own computer. Today, unfortunately, mine is in having its DC socket repaired for the 2nd time in 3 weeks (grrrr)so I don't have access to my photos :-(

ON THE MEND...BUT FOR HOW LONG?

Léon seems to be a bit better. He isn't overly interested in eating but can be bribed by the odd chunk of cake or chocolate and has now even eaten two savoury meals. However, with two confirmed cases of chickenpox at nursery in the last week, I have my doubts this healthy period will last :-(

Thursday, November 02, 2006

POOR SICK PUDGE - YET AGAIN

Poor Léon was back in hospital again this morning :-( After a full 24 hours in which he didn't pee, 5 days during which he only ate twice and exactly a week with a temperature of 38.5 my GP told me he needed his kidneys checked out, worried he had a problem that could lead to kidney failure and eventually the need for a kidney transplant. As usual a hot, dehydrated baby isn't too keen on giving a urine sample but when eventually he aimed at the floor I jumped in with a plastic bowl and finally got the sample the hospital has wanted for 3 weeks. An hour later lab reports said his kidneys were clear so today's diagnosis is a viral infection, an ear infection, a throat infection, and a sore tip on his penis requiring antibiotics. Any allergies? they asked - so I recounted the whole amoxicillin saga from the last week or two only to be told they thought it couldn't be that and therefore would prescribe it for him again, but of course I should bring him back to the casualty department if he happens to go into anaphylactic shock when I unscrew the bottle top - give me strength :-(

I'd better not buy that car just yet as I may yet lose my job given how much time I seem to be spending in the hospital instead of the office these days!

BYOB

You think you know what this means when you see it on a menu or an invitation, don't you? So did I but times are changing. After the change to the law last September, I notice now that when Charlotte is invited to a party, where she is to be taken on an outing (such as the golf party she is going to next Saturday with all her little boyfriends on the other side of Glasgow) the invite now comes with the instruction BYOB - Bring Your Own Booster - of course! :-)

ANOTHER DREAM


This time not one I dreamt while asleep but more what I hope I will have enough money to buy one day! For the past year since I had my third kid I have been thinking how much more practical a 7 seater car is than a 5. Even going to the shops and taking my parents with me always meant borrowing André's VW Sharan instead of driving my own Citroën Picasso. So I have been looking at the Vauxhall/Opel Zafira or the Renault Grand Scénic while cursing Citroën for making the only small MPV with just 5 seats. Until yesterday when I stumbled upon this ad! Yes the new model of my car has just come out and it has 7 seats! And they even make it in a nice shade of metallic red - cool - now I just need a decent enough income to buy it :-\

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

HOW QUICKLY THEY GROW


Today is Halloween. That is why baby Pudge is wearing a spider suit for his nursery Halloween party where he apparently enjoyed dooking for apples, a popular Scottish Halloween game, though the mind boggles as to how you make babies play it (and stay alive)! And Charlotte has been dressed as the ever-girlie Darth Vader all day, though, much to her disgust, the helmet wasn't allowed for school in case it frightened the younger kids (of which, of course, she is one!) - she even wanted to take along her voice changer! Marcel however isn't wearing a Halloween costume because apparently Halloween is 'for kids'. :-( So he turned up at school wearing only a T-shirt sporting a skeleton design.