Friday, October 13, 2017

Need for speed

Charlotte turned 17 in January and wanted to learn to drive immediately (not sure why given she hasn't a hope in hell of affording a car, but I guess I did the same at 17). 

In February she was too busy with prelims, March with oral exams, April and May with Highers, June with going to Nicaragua, July with going to Italy, August with settling back into school, so I figured it was off for this year... 

That was till she started asking about my availability on Thursday afternoons. I work from home so can move stuff about within reason. It turns out that Thursday afternoon is the only time she has free periods when she hasn't volunteered to be a teaching helper for the lower school. So yesterday she ordered herself a car (dual control for £11 for 2 hours). 

It's been a long time since I sat beside someone who has never ever been behind a wheel, the last time was possibly Derek in 1988! When Thomas learnt he had the basics and Marcel took some proper lessons, so there I was with my first millennium baby explaining 'that's the clutch, the brake, and the accelerator, this is the gear stick and that is the hand brake...' She surprised me with a few odd questions like 'are the three pedals in the same order in all cars?' Hahahaha - can you begin to imagine? 

But then she really threw me... I'm not much of a gamer; Candy Crush Soda on my smart phone for ten minutes at bed time is the extent of my gaming. She asked 'You press the brake to stop, right?' of course, then she followed up with 'and once it has come to a stop, if you press the brake again at the same time as putting the gearstick in reverse, you go backwards, right ?' WTAF?????? Sorry? Mind-blown! Well apparently on 'Need for Speed' (something on a PS3, I think), that's how you make your car reverse - the  L2 button (whatever that means!) Why on earth would you make a game that teaches kids that is how you drive a car? Are they insane???? She seemed a bit put out that she'd been misled! Kids today probably think they know how to fly a plane if they've got a flight simulation game 😜.

All in all it went well. She seemed to get the hang of hill starts fairly quickly, though I still need to get it through to her that you don't pull on the hand brake to stop 😂. But we definitely came top of the class that day... The other mum who hired a car with her 17 year old son at the same time as us returned it after just twenty minutes of the two hour hire, citing the fact that she'd got in such a big fight with him that he had pulled the car over and stomped off home leaving her to return it alone! She was last seen making her way to the pub, fuming 🤣.





Thursday, October 12, 2017

Such a sweet boy

Léon's school has organised an s3 Maths trip to NYC for the October week... I'm not sure how they got away with that one but well done to the Maths teachers for managing to come up with a reason for needing to go to New York; I don't suppose exotic school trips are usually too high up the list of perks when you're a Maths teacher!

Léon's Maths teacher seems to be one of the lucky ones who departed yesterday, which meant his class had no teacher today. (Their half term holiday started today so this only meant one day with a sub - (apparently these are called 'please-take ( teacher)s' in today's speak, as in 'We had a please-take today' - I do try to keep up with the lingo as best someone can at my age)).

Léon was moaning over dinner that she had not only left a seating plan of his class for the please-take, but that the seating plan had a photo beside each name. I asked why this was an issue. He told me he and his friend had had the idea to swap places and names for the day (like no kid in the world has ever done that before!) but that the seating plan had ruined their fun.

Before launching into an explanation of why this was a stupid idea (citing the example of when Andrew and Dylan had done that in Charlotte's first year class many moons ago, and the wrong one had ended up with a demerit against his name), I casually asked which friend he'd been plotting with. 'Ayaan Shaik', he replied! 'Ayaan Shaik and Léon Buchanan-Widmann?' I asked. 'Yeah!' came the reply. 'The teacher would have been able to tell, Léon', I pointed out. 'Well, I have no idea how', came the sweet reply, 'not if she hadn't had photos!' I love that at 12, he can't see what is glaringly obvious to me at 49. It gives me hope for his world, especially when we are currently living in such horrible times.

The hole in the middle


Here we all are in 1990. Young, though older than we look, Linda and I are 22, Shona, Sheina and Gillian are 23. That was a great day; we sat our Senior Honours Swedish exam and celebrated with fish suppers from the Philadelphia in Great Western road, eaten straight from the newspaper on the mangy, green carpet in Linda's great Glasgow Street party flat. The accompaniment was Lucozade from plastic cups, though I suspect we moved on to wine later in the evening. Uni was over, we were six weeks away from being able to write MA(Hons) after our names and we vowed to be friends forever. 

And we are, and will be, except we now have a gaping hole in our middle... We didn't know when this photo was taken that one of us was already more than half way through her life.

Sheina was the quiet one, so politely spoken. She was the lady in the group, the one who organised dinner parties for us when we were still arranging piss-ups. That's how she came across to others, but to us she had a wicked sense of humour, especially after a wine or two. If you wanted to get us all talking about our deepest and most intimate thoughts, Sheina was the one who could steer us on to the topic without us even noticing she'd taken us there. She made us laugh and cry. Sheina lacked the self-confidence to realise she was a beautiful person, but we all saw through that. Her death five years ago this week changed us forever. Our annual meet-ups became much more frequent. We see each other many times a year a now. We are a family and will always be there for each other. But there will always be a little unspoken hole at the centre of us all.



How to conker

Ever since I had kids, we've spent October in parks searching among the leaves for conkers... Early
on, when Marcel was two or three I found a tree hidden in a far corner of the Botanics that seemed to have escaped most of the passing schoolchildren so we were always guaranteed to get two or even three there. It was enough to play conkers with, well once at least.

Then I moved in with a Dane. Unlike Scots, Danes don't battle with conkers, they build animals (and more) from them (how civilised!) This posed a problem - try making several animals out of just three conkers. So conker season has always been a bit of a failure, until this year!!!

We went for a walk round a graveyard in September. Much to our surprise the trees had already started dropping their conkers and more to the point, it would appear kids hang about cemeteries much less than they hang in parks(!), so we had no competitors! We left all the damaged ones for the squirrels, but we still amassed a whole bag full. We'll be able to have a major conker animalfest next week when the kids are off for the October week and the rain inevitably leaves us housebound. Woo hoo.