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 :-\