Monday, July 30, 2007


I have now read this twice and checked the date (in vain hoping to find it is actually April 1, but apparently not)! I am speechless but felt I had to blog it. What a load of nonsense! I have 10 years of parenting under my belt and I really can't imagine any of my three sitting playing David and Goliath with plastic action figures - I imagine it probably makes truly religious people cringe and heathens simply gag. Next they'll be selling wee wooden crosses for the kids to nail plastic Jesuses on - and who has come up with this ides? Wal-mart? I'd never have guessed...

Sunday, July 29, 2007


I touched on this parking nonsense the other week but now it really is annoying me. Firstly, if they are going to introduce parking supposedly to leave spaces for the poor workers and patients that are currently being taken by selfish commuters then why not issue the workers, for a start, with free parking permits like Collins issue me with and have done for 17 years? Why are poor nurses on less than £10K a year being given a pay cut of £60 a year? And then there is the problem that they are installing prepay meters, rather than a system whereby you take a ticket and pay on exit. That means you have to overestimate your stay and therefore overpay your stay. You could arrive at 1-20pm for a 1-30pm appointment scheduled to take ten minutes so assume you will be safe prepaying a half hour stay but are you willing to pay the fine if it overruns to an hour or even an hour and a half - not likely, so they do you out of 3 times your parking charge...not to mention the poor buggers who are trying to estimate how long their labour will be, or their stay in casualty, or those simply rifling through their bag for change while holding a baby gasping for air because it is choking on a piece of lego. This is nothing but a money grabbing scheme - all it would take, if it truly was a question of keeping out commuters, would be for the barrier which is already in place at both the entrance and exit of the Yorkhill site to be operated by exit cards given out free to staff and patients alike at the end of their shift or appointment. So stop the lying and admit this is a tax on people in need of hospitals.

Saturday, July 28, 2007


I remember a few years back, lego was voted best toy ever. The main reason cited was that kids never got bored of it because when they did, they could simply take apart what they had built and build something totally different. That certainly described the big box of lego I had as a child in the 70s. I remembered it so fondly that of course when I had kids one of the top things on Santa's list was a box of lego. I tried most big toy retailers - Toys R Us and the likes only to find that nowadays lego comes in sets, like this box of Vikings Thomas bought Marcel for his birthday. It comes with all the bits to build the canon and the dragon and a 50 page instruction manual explaining how it all fits together but that is it. Once it is built, you can't dismantle it and build something else - you don't have the bits and it is too complex. Now I am not saying this is a bad side line - kids love these models - Marcel was more than happy with this gift but to my mind this should represent about 20% of the lego you find when you explore Toys R Us' shelves rather than the 95% it actually represents. It was so bad when Santa went looking for boring, everyday lego, he ended up having to buy the rival, but 100% compatible megabloks because he actually couldn't find a box of plain lego, only sets :-( I understand that sets is where the money lies as they aren't reusable, so kids want more and more of those, but most little kids also want a big box of boring old-fashioned lego too. I can't see how no longer making this is a good move in the market. Even in legoland in Denmark last month, 95% of the lego on sale was sets. Crazy!

Friday, July 27, 2007


Ten years already - God childhood sure passes a lot quicker from the parents' perspective than the kids' :-(
I got to take them all for lasagne in a proper Italian restaurant for lunch, where all 3 behaved like angels (miracles do happen) followed by an afternoon of little yellow people on the big screen. As the Simpsons is usually on at 6pm, I am often faffing in the kitchen or around the dining table then, rather than watching so I am not overly familiar with many beyond the main five. (Does anyone know why they are yellow? I am afraid to ask the kids in case they laugh!)
Marcel and Charlotte thoroughly enjoyed this 90 minute episode of their favourite family and in particular the few minutes where Bart is dared to skateboard naked through town. We even got to see some real naked little boy bits - how very unAmerican! ;-)

Thursday, July 26, 2007


Happy bunny
Originally uploaded by phyl1
Last summer I turned on my computer one day. Out of the blue the google ad that popped up told me my Barbra was about to tour the US. I nearly fell off my seat, given firstly that I thought she'd retired and secondly that I had only spent the last 20 years looking for an excuse to fly to New York. So I turned on my computer the day the tickets went on sale, assuming all attempts to get through would be in vain and fell off my seat a second time when I actually got a ticket before they sold out within the first half hour.
I flew over to Manhattan, just baby Pudge and I and the rest you can read on my blog archive for October 2006.
When google next informed me she was coming to Europe, I thought for about half an hour that it would be a piece of self-indulgent nonsense to go see her a second time, and then I rationalized quite how often I have spent money on myself in the past 15 years and realized that I was only talking about the financial equivalent of a trip to Tesco or two. So I bought tickets for Rome and the saga began, Rome of course got moved to Zürich , after I had Ryanair tickets to Rome, then we had a wedding to go to so were in Scandinavia when she first came to the UK and then Ireland - by the time Rome was refunded the only venue that hadn't sold out completely was the O2 arena in London last night. After working out how to run from the office to the airport and get to Gatwick with about 2 hours to spare, we finally got to the long stalked event.
The O2 itself was much bigger than I had imagined - I had only ever seen it from the air when flying over London so was amazed at the size when we arrived at North Greenwich. Knackered but happy I sat down to enjoy nearly 3 hours of the singer I have loved since I was just 7 years old, accompanied by a man I can only assume must love me a lot, given he flew straight from work and arrived back and had to go back into the office, exhausted after indulging me in my fantasy. Thanks!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Charlotte and the Simpsons
Originally uploaded by viralbus
The kids are Simpsons daft at the moment so needed to pose for the mobile phone camera when we went to see Harry Potter the other day and found these life-sized statues.( I must take the Sony on Friday when we go to see the Simpsons movie to get a clearer shot). I loved the way Bart is sitting on this couch. Whoever designed it has obviously got kids the age of mine. Without fail, every time I visit my parents, one of mine attempts to sit this way on their couch to watch TV, only to be told off by my mother for sitting the wrong way round on her couch!


An expensive toilet brush
Originally uploaded by viralbus
All I can say is - who would pay around 120 quid for a loo brush when Ikea is selling them at a fiver? Designer nonsense!


Guinness from the ceiling
Originally uploaded by viralbus
Isn't this cool? I noticed it on the ceiling of the Irish pub in Stansted airport and took a few minutes to actually work out what it was. Once it dawned on me, I was very impressed! I noticed many other puzzled customers going through the same process of realisation. I must say I really wish I liked guinness - their adverts are always innovative, their memorabilia outstanding and thought-provoking - but sadly it is just too bitter for me :-(


Since the EU expanded a while back we seem to have been hearing a lot about Polish workers taking over the UK. At first I didn't notice any, then the odd car on the motorway with a Polish number plate, then I heard our factory at HarperCollins Publishers was bussing in Poles to do all the distribution work but interestingly, the one place where you see it overwhelmingly, not just in the UK but also Ireland, is in airports.
When I was passing through Stansted last month going to Rome, I first noticed on a toilet stop that all the cleaners were speaking Polish, then I went for lunch in the 'Irish pub' in Stansted and all the waitresses were speaking Polish, finally Ryanair's check-in staff also all had Polish names. Then last Sunday I noticed the check-in staff in Dublin were also all Polish...I wonder what the fascination with airport jobs is - it is almost like they fly in but never make it any further!


Every time I have turned on the news for the past week, all I have heard about is flooding and disasters. Half of the BBC news front page is taken up daily with tails of communities cut off from civilisation, whole towns with no water supply, no electricity. I must admit I feel like I am reading reports about what is going on in America or Australia, it seems so remote. Still today the photos of doom and gloom keep coming while we in Glasgow seem to be basking in a heatwave. Today we were having a whale of a time in the Botanic gardens. It's a million miles away from down south, no?


Isn't this cute? Gordy and Pudge climbed up on two chairs this afternoon to look out at the street and beyond to Kelvingrove park. Gordy saw a dog. He turned to Léon, pointed and said "wuff", Léon nodded, pointed at my car and replied "car: mummy car", Gordy looked and nodded and repeated "wuff", and so the cycle went on, uninterrupted for 10 minutes. Fascinating, hmmm, maybe not...

Sunday, July 22, 2007


I have been sneezing non-stop now for a week or two, or so I thought, until I checked back some old emails to pals and realized it was closer to 10 weeks. This cold hasn't got any better, and strangely no one else seems to have caught it from me, and this week it is definitely getting worse if anything. When I go outside my eyes instantly start to look like that one on the left. It is so bad I can't sleep most nights so am getting more and more exhausted. When I lie down for a nap because I am exhausted my nose instantly blocks, my eyes puff up and I can't I am slowly coming to the conclusion that I am suffering both bedbug allergies and hay fever for the first time ever in my life. Ironic that, given I can't take anti-histamines at the moment, no? Why is life such a bitch?

Saturday, July 21, 2007


Glasgow city centre at 11-55pm. People waiting to get into a night club? No not likely, waiting to get into Waterstones and WH Smith for the last Harry Potter book! And who would be crazy enough to do such a thing? I can't think of a single soul...

Friday, July 20, 2007


I was enraged yesterday to hear that a major bugbear from my own childhood 30 years ago is still being perpetuated in this day and age...though in retrospect, why am I surprised?
When I was a kid, there were 3 channels in the UK - BBC1, BBC2 and in Scotland STV. Scottish summers, you may be surprised to hear, aren't always the sunniest, and when I was a wee girl there were no holiday clubs or holidays abroad, not much to do really apart from that 2 weeks at the Glasgow fair (around July 20th) when you went camping in Blackpool to enjoy different rain. So you really looked forward to the special summer telly programmes laid on for kids for a couple of hours every morning. I still remember my favourite 'Why don't you?' The problem, of course is that Scotland is a place that exists when you live in it, but when you live in England, especially southern England, it simply doesn't exist. England, you may be amazed to hear, doesn't let its kids out of school for summer until July 20th, today to be exact...why? The rest of Europe slowly slips into the summer break over the last few weeks of June and while every kid in Europe, including Scotland is out having fun, England is still sending its little guys off to school. I have never understood that - especially given the climate, but there you go - the poor wee buggers get to miss what is potentially the only sunny month by not starting their holidays until the end of the summer. So us poor little Scottish kids used to drag ourselves out of bed every morning, turn on the TV and get boring political programmes, boring women's daytime telly, the news but not a single arts and crafts programme, no one telling us what we could turn yogurt pots and washing up liquid bottles into, not a single hint of Tom and Jerry or Scooby Doo - because no one in London realised or cared that 5 million Scottish people existed and were on holiday for 4 weeks before the English kids. Then Glasgow shut down the last 2 weeks of July, so when the kids' programmes finally showed up we all went camping, returning just a week before the Scottish schools went back. I used to sit seething all those weeks in July, not because I was a major TV lover but because the telly was telling me I didn't matter, I didn't exist, I didn't count. It is not nice to be a kid that doesn't count.
So there I was having coffee with mum yesterday with my kids watching the Disney channel and at every ad break they were blasting out 'Schools out tomorrow', from tomorrow we'll have super quiz shows for kids to win great prizes', from tomorrow there will be an afternoon kids' movie every day of the holidays' Grrrrrr! Do they know what size of a chip they force on to people's shoulders with this arrogant behaviour? Is it time to dig a big channel along the border and let the water flow in?

Thursday, July 19, 2007


a beautiful boy with his frog
Originally uploaded by phyl1
I took this photo of Marcel on holiday and really like it a lot. We'd been out in the forest collecting wild mushrooms, which he seemed to be enjoying immensely but once he caught sight of this frog, all he wanted was to take it home and keep it. It was nice to see how much pleasure he could get from a slimy, loveless creature, instead of the more common pre-teenage stroppiness we sometimes get at the moment! He is so desperate for a pet and yet Charlotte seems to hate all pets with a passion, unfortunately. I guess we'll need to find a solution.


Not very interesting I know but just in case you can't sleep for wondering - Ashleigh rang me at 1-15pm to tell me she'd printed out my new parking permit - I guess she was fed up with her little power game by then - phew!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


No murder charge yet - she deigned to process my application after seeing a council tax bill dated a month before the one she considered invalid yesterday - don't you just love logic? (Though she hasn't actually produced the sticker yet and the other one runs out in 1 hour and 28 minutes :-( )

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Coming back your holiday is never easy...I woke up at 5am, mentally not wanting to oversleep...not a great start. Got into the office a bit after 8am and tried to log in, my machine decided to hang for 20 minutes, cool.
I then dropped in to the hospital to book a blood test as they'd cocked up the one they did just 3 weeks ago, they asked if I was sure I had been to that hospital before as they'd lost my case notes??? I had 3 little guys with me that proved for sure I had been to the maternity hospital before, not to mention their letter telling me their last blood test had been unsuccessful. While there, I noticed signs everywhere mentioning parking charges were coming into force next week, on Sunday (odd choice) no less! That is really handy - they have those meters you have to prepay the number of hours you expect to stay. Given a 20 minute appointment can drag out to 2 hours, that is a problem in itself, but what are you actually meant to do when you arrive for either Yorkhill casualty (guess whether you will be there the usual 4 hours or be admitted for 18 like happened to me last month, or worse still for the Queen Mum's - are you meant to be dropped at the door in labour and left to make your own way in while your partner searches for a parking space while trying to guess the length of your labour? It seems to be about £1 an hour so I guess my kids would have cost me about £20-£22 each. Grrrrrr!

Then the day got even better! I had received a parking permit renewal letter while on holiday. To start with I feel nothing but venom at having to paty £12 a month to park in front of my own house when I pay council tax anyway - fine make parking permits necessary, it is the city after all, but issue me it free with my council tax bill, please! Anyway, I struggled across the city in the heat with all 3 kids, handed over my renewal letter and my carlog book to a snooty 18 year old who told me I needed proof of residence. I asked what my log book (with address) and their letter (with address) were if not proof. I got the standard answer - I needed a 'utility bill' - for heavens sake come into the 21st century - NOBODY gets bloody utility bills anymore - we get e-bills. And even if people do get utility bills, they often live with people who have different surnames from the one on the car log book...

So I took another half an hour to drive back and pick up my council tax bill - which had to be dated within 3 months. I checked - 2 days to go - so I rushed back across the city to show them that. The same snooty wee girl then looked at it and told me - this is a bill for a council tax adjustment to last year's total so I can't accept it. I protested in vain that it was still within the 3 months and she then said she would rather see my other bills - dated 4 months ago but showing this year's total bill. Where did logic go? They want a month older bill from the same department, but can't accept a month younger one. At this point she suggested I sprint up to John street, 15 mins away and back to get a printout proving where I lived (25 degrees, 3 kids in tow, no buggy). I offered my road tax reminder letter from the Department of transport, dated 2 weeks ago, no not enough proof. I offered my driving license, no not proof enough. I wanted to reach across the partition and ring her smug little neck by then - silly child. As I stormed out she called after me - And even if you bring me a utility bill tomorrow, it might take me 10 working days to process it. So if I don't blog tomorrow night, you'll know I am starting the life sentence for murder!

I came home and renewed my tax online, by the way - no problem - I gave one number and it found my address, car insurance (without me telling them who I was insured with) etcetc. It does make you wonder - given everyone who pays council tax is registered and the jobsworths at Glasgow City Council insist on seeing half a dozen proofs of that, why, in this day and age, can't they just type my name into their computer to have my current address confirmed the same way as the Department of Transport did a few hours later - wouldn't that be sensible?

Thursday, July 12, 2007


Léon didn't understand...
Originally uploaded by phyl1
What we hadn't foreseen when we took the kids to Legoland the other day was Léon's initial reaction... he cried and cried and rolled on the pavement distraught for the first half hour, totally unable to comprehend the idea of being surrounded by toys that weren't touchable. Lots dumbfounded us though - she calmly took him aside and explained to him that these were special toys you were meant to wave at, not to touch. He brightened up and then had the time of his life for the other 9 hours waving like mad... how wise Lots can be some times...

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Léon wearing Bjørn's trainers
Originally uploaded by phyl1
Still on holiday so not much time to blog...but had to remark on how good Léon's language is becoming. From trying these on and commenting these shoes not bad on Sunday, his new favourite phrase, usually directed towards his sister in anger seems to be 'La-lo bad boy!' sweet :-)