Scrabble Rabble

Anyone who listened in to my conversations at home could be forgiven for thinking I was speaking a wierd dialect, rather than English, to my children.  Our daily speech is so corrupted by our silly words that I often forget that our family vocabulary isn’t universal.

The children all have several nicknames: some I’m allowed to use in public, some can only be used in front of family and close friends and a third set is solely for home.  This can get a little confusing for this bear of very little brain.  Which is why I also have one generic nickname that they all answer to, for times when identifying my offspring requires too much mental effort.

Some of our words are from the time when they were babies and were just learning to speak: Fling-go instead of Flamingo; Muck instead of milk; excavator instead of escalator; squiggle instead of squirrel.

Other’s are just entirely bizarre.  The story behind Gavin Coleslaw, ‘free Alaning’ and the Ostrich choir are closely guarded family secrets which I will never divulge (unless drunk).

Other’s have been appropriated from children’s books: schooliform and smackerel, are used daily as they perfectly excellent.

It takes a lot of remembering not to use these in general conversation with friends and colleagues.  Although discussions about flamingos are sadly rare in the office.

This does make me wonder if perhaps my lackadaisical attitude to parenting and language specifically is detrimental to my children.

So far it seems not to be, although the time when my 13 year old daughter told all her friends what we were doing on an INSECT day and couldn’t understand why they laughed at her, was a particularly low point.  Plus the fact I laughed uncontrollably when she told me.  Mother of the year?  Maybe not.

So does nonsense language impair your child’s grasp of English, or does it have the opposite effect: does playing with language make it more fun and make it another creative tool to be used?

Puns and plays on words are commonplace, and finding the most outlandish word to describe a situation or item is a family pastime on car journeys.

But sometimes, the best thing about nonsense, is that it becomes another way of showing love and kinship.  The familiar sayings make for a rich family tapestry and will be remembered whenever those words are heard in the future.

One play on words has been repeated almost every Tuesday afternoon for nearly 6 years now. Starting with my eldest, and now with my youngest, although in a few short months it will be no more.

Because every Tuesday is school swimming lessons, which finish for my youngest child at Easter.  Every week I meet my child at the school gates and ask how swimming went, and every week my son says the same thing in reply:





A year without Bowie

One year.  One year since we heard the news.  One year and 3 days since he released Blackstar.  One whole year without Bowie.

I loved Bowie, but would never profess to being knowledgeable about his entire career.  I fell in love with Bowie when at High school when he released Absolute Beginners.  I felt conflicted that he was this gorgeous man who I wanted to fangirl over but he was also the same age as my mum.  It was confusing.  Then he released Dancing in the streets, and the obsession shattered.

Sorry, but the pastel suits and miming with Jagger were too much for me.

But by then I was hooked into his back catalogue.  Partially culled from my mum’s record collection.  As I grew older and developed my musical interests, my new music heroes worshipped him too. Nirvana doing Man who sold the world was perfect.  Bowie and Cobain.  At that point my Alpha and Omega.

When Cobain died I cried.  I remember walking to my evening college course, listening on my Walkman and sobbing.  This was the first of my heroes to have died, and it hurt, so much.

When we heard the news about Bowie I weeped.  Not the sobs and snot of Kurdt’s passing, which was a life cut short and a tragedy, but the tears of pure sadness that a true adventurer had left us.  Leaving us to find our own way without him.

Over the past weekend I have listened continually to 6music’s  Bowie weekend.  They have had some amazing interviews and have played so many wonderful and obscure tracks.  It has been so bittersweet.

Then I saw a link to a post by Iman, his wife of twenty years, and the mother of his teenage daughter.  However hard it is for us, let’s remember that there’s a 16 year old girl who is missing her dad desperately, and a woman missing the love of her life.  God, my heart breaks for them.

Bowie is a genius.  His creativity and support for new artists, the way he embraced new styles and created himself anew were the blueprint for many others.

Without Bowie’s music the world would be a much darker place. Without Bowie we need to burn brightly on his behalf.

Let all us Kooks light up the world, so the Starman can see.

Charity campaigns

Veganuary, Dryanuary, Stoptober, Movember. The list of month long charity initiatives is growing.  We all know someone who has participated in at least one of these.  But are these amusing events anything more than awareness raising and health advice?

The raison d’etre for these campaigns is to generate cash for charity, with the positive side effect that people do learn more about health and good causes, but it is rare that anyone asks for donations for these events.

So how much money do these events generate?  How does a charity harness the catchphrase and make it work for them?

I’m sure you all remember the Ice Bucket challenge craze of a few years ago.  How many of you can remember the charitable cause it was supposed to be promoting?

One way that some charities have done this is by finding a social craze and then attaching their charity to it.  The ice bucket challenge not only raised money for Motor Neurone disease, but other charities piggy backed on the popularity to raise donations for their own causes.

Is this wrong, or does anything that brings in cash, fair game?  I’m certain the MND charities received a huge boost through this, but maybe they felt a little aggrieved that not all donations went to them, considering it was their idea.

I don’t tend to join in with these events myself.  As per my previous post about leftovers, January is not the time to give up meat and dairy, nor to leave those half finished bottles in the cupboard.  I mean, I have stopped having bucks fizz with breakfast, but giving up entirely is going too far!

Stoptober and Movember are not applicable: although I do tend to stop shaving my legs about the time the clocks change, but as I only bother starting again when I see the first daffodil of spring, it’s a long time to collect money for.

Maybe we should have some more inclusive months, so more of us can join in.  Positive actions rather than denial and abstinence would be preferable.

I suggest Choctober, where you are sponsored for eating chocolate every day for a month.  Or Harpune where you carry around a harpoon for the whole of June.  Snoregust – where you try and sleep as long as you can.  Wankuary however, is self-explanatory.

So if you are doing something this month, don’t forget the underlying reason for doing it is for the charity to raise cash.  I’ll happily bung you a pound, just don’t tell me how your Wankuary is going, eh!

Black dog days

Some days I wake up with a black dog at my ankles.  It is heavy and growls in a deep, bone freezing way.

Some days the dog stays sleeping, and doesn’t accompany me about my business.  It waits patiently for me until bedtime, when I often go to sleep without disturbing it.

Some days it slinks downstairs with me, shadowing my morning, but is happy to stay at home.  Waiting for me.  Waiting for its opportunity.

Some days, like today, the dog bites my ankle and I cannot shake it free.  It’s presence is like a weight about me, in my head slowing my thoughts, as well as slowing my stride.

Some days I can ignore it’s terrible presence, but on Some Days I can’t.

Today was a Some Day.

The dog has slunk through my waking hours, it’s dark coat masking all the colours around me, until all I can see is a monochrome landscape, and I can’t escape.

The darkness weighs a thousand tonnes, my brain cannot think and my eyes water.  I can’t see the brightness of my children or the scenery.  All I can make out is a wasteland.

My dog doesn’t visit as often as he did.  For long months and years he was my faithful companion, his cold breath chilling me.  But with help he wakes less now.

But on days when he does stop by, I forget that my life now has colours, and can only see the muted shades as glimpses in the fog.

I hope tomorrow he will stay asleep.  I hope he will one day run away.

I need Mrs Tiggywinkles contact details

Beatrix Potter made the role of Washer-woman seem like a delightful job, ideal for all manner of women and woodland creatures.  All you needed was a mop cap and some bubbles and you were laughing.

She made doing the laundry into a fun task that everyone thanked you for doing.  She even pressed the items: she was a true professional.

However, I need to say that Beatrix Potter was a fucking liar.

I have never been thanked for processing the billion load’s of washing that gets generated by my ungrateful family each week.  They appear to think a washing fairy takes the dirty clothes from where they have been thrown, and magically makes them clean, ready for you to put away.  Or as my children do, throw on the floor and trample until I scream at them to tidy up whereupon they deposit the whole lot back in the washing basket for me to wash again.

I don’t even get to wear the cute hat. As I said, that Potter woman was fibbing.

I have tried to allocate some of this to the kids to do, and I’m sure you can imagine the delight with which they approach these tasks.  My eldest daughter loves ballet and does several hours of classes a week, which cost a small fortune. When she informed us she wanted to do pointe classes too, I negotiated that in return for us paying, she would be in charge of sorting and putting away the clean washing.

She has been having pointe classes for nearly 6 month’s and I have had to remind her every single time to sort things.  This is usually met with the sort of reaction I’d normally expect if I’d asked her to go without her phone for a week.  The amount of huffing she does is probably enough to affect global warming.

When the ignored clean washing pile reaches the sort of proportions that warrant it’s own postcode or at least a location tag on Instagram, I usually just end up doing it myself.  It’s the job around the house that I hate the most.

Then there’s the hanger scavenger hunt around the bottom of wardrobes and down the back of the headboards, so I can at least pretend that they will put the freshly washed items actually in the wardrobe.

I have seriously had enough.

If I could afford someone to do this for me I would, but as a housekeeper is out of my price range, I’ll have to resort to woodland creatures.

So, DO you know Mrs Tiggywinkles number?

Are you still eating Christmas food too?

Since our Christmas dinner, nearly two weeks ago, I can’t remember eating a meal that didn’t involve at least one component culled from a Tupperware container in the fridge.  It’s like a cross between jenga and Mr Trebus’s dream house in there.  Small villages could probably live off the contents for a month before considering where else to get sustenance.

Most meals since Christmas have been forraged from the fridge like Ray Mears finding an ant colony.  A bit of this, some of that, cheese, mince pie, more cheese: you get the idea.  Cold leftovers have kept us fed for what feels like forever.

When we do cook something, it’s always some bizarre combination of foods.  Prawns, home made chilli sauce, left over vegan Moroccan tagine, and some nachos, was my husband’s dinner the other night.  I opted for a simple, nutritious meals of jacket potato, cheese and BBQ sauce.  I have truly reached the zenith of slobdom.

My son has manfully worked his way through a jumbo pack of digestives and a wheel of Camembert as an after school snack, and my daughter’s are having leftover mash, with leftover onion gravy, leftover red cabbage and a veggie sausage for dinner.  We are all getting fed up of this and the children are Revolting (and also revolting – I blame the sprouts).

The Celebrations mountain however was conquered quickly and with little complaint, I noticed.

So are we the only family living off cling filmed plates?  I acknowledge that some of the sell by dates may be 2016 but it all smells ok.  Ish.

My eldest daughter shoved a large pot of double cream under my nose earlier and asked if it smelt too off to eat.  As I have no wish to be stuck at home clearing up vomit, I said that the fact she refused to sniff it herself was answer enough.  She poured it down the sink, saying that we shouldn’t tell Dad as he’d have been convinced it was still edible.  We both agree that after the incident with the pesto, it’s best not to ask him. Let’s just say, that just because it’s still green doesn’t mean it hasn’t developed it’s own ecosystem.  It was no longer a health risk to eat it, more an act of bacterial genocide.

So, we are now reaching the point where health and endurance meet and tonight I am going to clear out everything.  Plus it’s bin day tomorrow, and we overslept for the last one so I really need to get it done before I’m forced to take it to the tip myself.

But before I get on with that, we’ll have one last Christmas meal. Moroccan tagine and mash.  A match made in heaven; or more correctly, a match made in December.