I did agonise over whether this post should be titled 'rites of passage' or 'wank' - OK not so much 'agonise' as consider...
Anyway - wank it is.
A few months ago my lovely son, Oz, had a conversation with my boyfriend. It was the kind of conversation that might not have taken place with me in situ: aka 'boy talk'. Oz returned from school and threw the word 'wanker' about with the careless abandon of one who does not know what it means. Andy carefully (and I would imagine, with the pragmatic care of a science teacher) explained what 'wank' really meant, mainly that everyone did it because it felt nice, no big deal etc. etc. Here follows my transcript of the conversation that followed the explanation.
O: Well I'm never going to do that.
A: Errm, well you might find that you do as you get older.
O: No, never, I won't ever do that.
A: Well, I bet you you will by the time you are 18.
O: I won't. How much do you bet me?
A: Bet you £1000 you will - by the time you're 18.
O: OK then you're on...
So Oz took the bet, and oh, how we giggled (in private) about the humour of the bet. Knowing that of course, it was kind of inevitable that event would take place sometime in the next nine years... And what a thing to remember in the midst of 18th birthday celebrations.
Until the other night. Somehow the issue of voices breaking, puberty and the changes that will come along over the next few years came up in conversation. Believing in being open we talked about what puberty might entail; figure it's best to know about the ways in which the body is giong to change, rather than it all being some big mystery that's giggled about with many myths and not much information by school boys. The subject of body hair and where it will grow came up, and I pointed out that 'nob' might not be the best word for Oz to use. "It's not swearing" he told me, and I explained that it kind of was, and just to be aware of that.
O: Well when is it OK to swear?
Me: Well it's never great, but it's certainly more offensive when kids swear.
O: So I can swear when I'm an adult.
Me: Guess that's when it will be your choice.
O: When will I be an adult then, do I have to wait till I'm 18?
Me: In theory.
O: Does puberty make you an adult?
Me: Well, that's when your body is changing to become an adult.
O: How about if you've had a wank?
Me: Errm, well you said you wouldn't before you were 18 anyway.
O: So if I'd had a wank, I'd be allowed to swear?
Me: I suppose you would.
O: [grins] Fuck, shit, bollock...
Friday, March 30, 2007
I did agonise over whether this post should be titled 'rites of passage' or 'wank' - OK not so much 'agonise' as consider...
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
I think I might have a feminist kitten.
Not growly, angry type feminist but the reali-truilo post, post (or whichever post we are now at) type feminist. The sort where seemingly it's now OK to stay at home with kids/have a career/wear lip gloss/drink pints/drink cosmos/ask boys to fix cars,bikes and shelves/swear at boys who offer to fix cars,bikes,shelves... The kind of 'do it all' kind of feminism that we apparently now have. [Have it all... that's a different story]
Today I thought she was running about with her toy mouse; she's the only cat I've ever known to actually play with the toys that inevitably get bought when a new cat comes along.
I had to do a double take when I realised that it was not her mouse, it was a tampon*. It made me giggle out loud, and I followed to try to get a photo. Everytime I held the camera up, she dropped it with one of those indignant 'this is my game not yours' type looks.
Tink clearly knows that she has choices, doesn't need to please any one else, and is not afraid to show her feminine side . I think that might make her a feminist kitten?
[* fully wrapped and unused, I have to add. Might not have been so funny otherwise.]
Monday, March 26, 2007
Certainly time to grasp back some kind of sense of humour, no matter how wry/sarcastic it may be. Otherwise I am in danger- big danger, of falling down an internet fuelled shitpit, and getting very smelly. There's a funny thing that seems to happen with research, according to my mood. Something about a slightly bleak/dark mood can just attract such lowlife gremlins forth from search engines. Is there a man sitting in the Google box after all? Can you get poltergeist activity on link buttons? I really do wonder sometimes.
But, if nothing else, it's all there for amusement. I feel like one of the Famous Five, who has just returned from a 'rather spiffing' adventure.
Oh OK, so the thing through 'the forest' got far worse than I ever could have believed possible due to: hideous 3am row; spending a whole day seemingly achieving nothing; spending the latter part trying to get online writing jobs, due to being skint beyond skint.*
But there is a better world out there. Having fallen down the vast poo hole that is 'paid online surveys'. At last I can see the funny side of it all; for several reasons.
1) 'Get Paid To Take Part In Online Surveys' - was I really stupid enough to believe it possible that money could be so easy to get? Yes. I hang my head in shame. These sites are a 'brilliantly' interlinked festering-consumer-scum-toilet, all set up for you to flush yourself down. All they do is link you from one scabby online gambling session, to an overpriced creditcard/bookclub/dvd hire/debt morgue to another. You can't access anything without going through some 'Free 30 day trial-give us all your bankdetails here-it will be impossible to find the link to cancel-before your 30 days are up'.
It all looks so simple, but even getting paid will cost you, and if you dont sign up to an 'affilliate' deal, no points honey. No points means you won't make the grade to even enter a survey, following which you could pay someone to recieve part of the money you earn, via another scam hole.
Here's my biggest confession, the first site I found was a US one - that charged. Due to "Special Half Price Offer Must End 12am Today'. I nearly signed up, thought I was 'getting a deal, hurrah - lucky me'...until I realised (thankfully, I am now aware, just for once being broke helped) that I don't have $34.99 left on my overdraft. But, there was a moment...Yes, I do hang my head in shame for even contemplting it.
2)' Supersonic ScriptWriting Packages' - on a day long cyber 'Research Cruise' looking for distribution/production companies that might take scripts, it was inevitable that I would plunge headlong into this baby. For everygood site, there is a shop, that seems to lure you through the link bar without even noticing it. Even more seductive the 'Free 30 day trial-give us all your bankdetails here...' (is there a theme emerging here somewhere?). Taking a look at all the script writing packages, I began to suspect that given a few thousand dollars, there is enough software out there to suggest that some people can entirely computer generate a script at the push of a button. The 'Character Creator' was outrageous, a few key details, and wham bam 'Character Synopsis'. No wonder Hollywood turns out so much generic dirge. I just wonder do they all have this software in the US, and is that the real meaning of industry standard now?
Am I doomed by the fact that I've barely got to grips with the (free) ScriptSmart? If I am, I really don't care. Rather have an over active imagination, and crap sofware any day. But gosh, is it easy to feel inadequate when you see what's out there.
(Am aware that I may have got this hopelessly wrong, and that some of it is worthwhile. But, wasn't there a time when (brilliant) scripts were written on a typewriters?)
3)* "They" have decreed that bus fares shall now cost me £7/day just to get my son to the childminder who gets him to school, as it's 4 miles away. Apparently student discount is cancelled due to 'holiday'. Have "They" forgotten that some of us actually live here/will live here/have lives and families? The child fare is just wrong too. Even in London, where everything is more expensive, (because the streets are lined with gold, of course) even there kids go free. This bit does not make me smile, but it might explain the current need to try to get some kind of income, and hence thinking I could do an instant hit, and be paid for a few words pooed down the 'free money, answer online survey' toilet seat.
4) Observer Woman Makes Me Spit (still can't do the linky bit here, but they are on my blogroll) is a wonderful blog. Such a perfect antidote to the darker side of t'internet and all things consumer.
Read their latest post and all the days pent up frustration eased away, as I remembered, it is, most definately, good to spit.
Sunday, March 25, 2007
It's been a strange kind of week; feel like I've sat at this desk everyday with very little tangible evidence of ever having been here. It set off a stange kind of reclusive self-deprecation, the kind that every writer goes through I guess. All part of the journey...
As the week closed, the hail stones stopped thrashing the window; the sun shone momentarily and it was somehow easier to step back out into the world. Seems a few people had also been on a similar journey. Perhaps it's the time of year? The last throes of winter trying to clutch at us all before warmer days (and hoardes of tourists) descend for the next few months...
I felt almost ashamed of the dark cloud space that pulled me so far in, that I'd been seriously considering applying for another full time teaching job. Not that in itself there is anything wrong with that, but it makes a mockery of this year - the leap of faith to finally stand up and say 'no, this is what I do'. Writing is a funny old game; pitching is just a surreal cycle of lottery/rejection. Got to be on full power to send yourself out there, knowing full well that the odds are that it will pull in a big fat 'no' more often than the elusive golden ticket. So in those moments of self doubt it's all to easy to stand like a scared rabbit in the headlights, and of course doing that is a brilliant double whammy. If I don't ask there are no rejections, but the stasis equally leaves me wondering what and earth I'm doing it all for.
A lovely friend reminded me though, that this is all part of the journey; an integral part of story structure is the challenges/ obstacles, the dark night of the soul, the all is lost moment. He very astutely reminded me that our story mirrors the story of writing. So beautifully simple, but I'd lost all perspective of that... so here I am, facing the deep dark forest that every good fairy tale depends on. It's that moment of panic - I either go through, or I turn back to where I came from. That's a far worse option; so the only way is on and through.
It's still scary though, knowing I'm right on the edge, in my heart the only option is to plough on through. Can't turn back now, come too far to just settle for an 'easy' teaching salary in September. Got to remind myself why I left that behind, if not forever, then certainly for now, to give this my best shot. So its off through the forest I go.
But, today is Sunday - so perhaps I'll hover here on the edge, for just another day, and plunge in tomorrow...
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
My son often makes the most astute comments, such as 'wouldn't it be better if buses cost 10p and no one needed to use their car' or 'why can't we all have a windmill so we wouldn't have to pay bills'. So this morning whilst making his packed lunch, I was bemused by the following conversation.
me: "Oz where's your water bottle?"
Oz: "I threw it away."
me: "That's a bit silly, why did you throw it away?"
Oz: "It said 'do not refill' on it."
One nil to Mr Asda/Tesco I think.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
The very lovely Poster of Occasional Comments saw this before I took it off, in shame of not being able to figure out the neat link thing... If any one is passing who can explain how to do it, then I will be off and away. The clip is worth watching, despite the cut and paste effort with the URL!
I just found this, won't say much - but it made me think, really made me think. So much so, that I can't sum it up in a neat little phrase and won't even try. Apparently it really did happen.
ps apologies, the link thing not working..
Monday, March 19, 2007
Since becoming a mother, I have come to really dislike too much about Mother's Day.
Not the side of loving, thanking and remembering how much I love my own Mum, or how lucky I am to still have her here, strong and healthy. Especially as I head to the age where that means more, because not everyone's Mum is still here.
Not the beautifully random hand made gifts and morning hug that my own son gives to me.
No, I don't like Mother's day, because it is a sharp stick in the face to remind me that I'm no longer with my son's father. Thankfully in my case, but Mother's Day still niggles and stabs - shoves the neon 'I'm a failure' sign right at me. I wouldn't change my son for the world, not an ounce or moment of regret for his beautiful being. I haven't even really minded being a single mum, just one of those things that you 'get on with' - mostly too busy, or too tired, to worry about the logistics of it all. Happier to be a single Mum than in an abusive relationship. But the truth is in any relationship that follows, there are moments when you realise that no matter how much you all love each other, as a Mum you are there on your own. No one else is ever going to love that child quite like you do.
My bitter perspective is the direct result of my son's father leaving me when he was 10 days old. So I spent that first Mother's Day exhausted, bewildered, and in tears. Everyone else from the ante natal class was deluged with flowers, chocolates and tea in bed. Silly that there was even some kind of expectation on my part. But there was; some kind of rites of passage, that now I was on the other side of the 'Hallmark' flowery-card-fence I would bask in the balmy glow of love, respect and adoration for the day. Missing any kind of rites of passage can mess you up a bit. Consumer laws dictate that mothers shall be indulged and cherished and waited on by the fathers of their children. In the absence of this looms up a big fat 'lack' that, no matter how pragmatic I may be at other times of the year, haunts me when thrust into full vision.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not missing the true meaning behind the day - I know the historical roots of service girls given a day off. I'm not dismissing the chance to give my own Mum special thanks and love. I'm not ungrateful for the nursery or school made gifts from my lovely little boy. Really those are what is important. Nothing else should matter.
But... there is a cultural expectation as a mother of school age kids that you will get pampered and slightly indulged. At very least a cup of tea in bed, breakfast perhaps. Just something to make the day a bit different. I wonder how many other separated mothers feel the lack of that as some kind of slap in the face? Is it just me? Or does the shopfront-marketing-overload prior to Mother's Day guarantee to leave too many of us feeling somehow tried, judged, and found as lacking in some respect?
My Mother's Day catalogue of disasters is impressive. Things that would have hurt no matter what, have managed to sting that little bit more as a result of colliding with that day. It has kind of come to be an anniversary of shitty events. The first was spectacular. On another my then boyfriend stayed out 'till six am, leaving me in that hideous limbo of knowing that 'something' was going on (it was). I got dumped one Mother's Day. This year was heralded by the kind of shitty row that puts a relationship on the line, the frosty silence and bitter one liners carried on throughout the day. Perhaps I'm just selfish, but all day I wanted to turn round and say "It's Mother's Day, can't you just be nice?". Perhaps I should just drop the expectation.
But it hurt, and it hurt more because casting my mind back I couldn't remember a Mother's Day that hadn't brought the whole situation of having the right child with the wrong man so clearly into focus. It makes me wonder what it might be like to share the responsibility of having a child with someone else, of not feeling guilty if someone else helps in whatever way with some small or large parenting duty, of what it might feel like just to be 'in it together'.
That's not something I'm ever going to know about. Fact. Perhaps I might in the future, but not with Oz. When the chips are down, He's my responsibilty and I've got to give him the love, security and protection of both a Mum and a Dad.
I feel selfish for even writing this here, my life is blessed in so many ways. I guess it's the hurt of a relationship that failed before the stitches of childbirth had healed coming back to haunt me. In those days following birth mothers feel as newborn as the babies, it's a precious time where hurts can bury in too deep. Sometimes it still hurts, and Mother's Day seems to be the day when that hurts the most.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Well, to be accurate, there are 'worse things I have done'.
As the dust settles from Friday nights 'antics' [?] I'm left somewhat bemused by the whole situation. Having charged police lines in pink fluffy bra and 6ft tail fan, and being hauled 15ft above the ground by a rope tied to handcuffs from a tunnel (they don't count, as I knew I might get into trouble) I've realised again, that lying on a chair in a club is a really silly thing to get so much hassle for.
So, in this reflective reverie, have decided that perhaps it is a good time to list all the things that could have been worse.
1) Being asked to stop dancing in the Trevi Fountain by the Cabinari; getting out before they pulled their truncheons.
2) Dancing on the table that didn't collapse.
3) Dancing on many tables that did not collapse.
4) Scary plain clothes police in Prague taking a bribe, thus avoiding a trip to police station and missing a flight home.
5) Getting away from a mad Arab man, who locked me up on a boat.
6) My brother changing flights at the last minute, and thus avoiding the Tsunmami.
7) Coming through childbirth after a 'ne na' ambulance trip to hospital, when my son got stuck.
Actually, think it's time to stop there. a) because 7 is a magic number* and, b) because as the list goes on it all kind of comes into perspective. There are worse things I could do, have done, and, there are far worse things that could happen.
*have to attribute that genius way 'out' of a list, to long time mentor and inspiration Lorna Sage. Sadly no longer with us, but her memoir 'Bad Blood' is a wonderful book..
Saturday, March 10, 2007
It was just a night out, don't do that very often these days, for the usual reasons: too much work; too little money. Even so, it wasn't a big night out, just a drink with friends in the pub, and the inevitable move to a late night bar. In this case it was an over sized pub, the kind that call themselves clubs, but not really.
Had been a long day, up at 6 and non-stop editing to get bloc up. The music had not really got my groove going, to say the least. I spied a small two seater settee, and, ever the opportunist, wandered over to lie down.
So there I was, lost in a private reverie, thinking that I really should sit up and be more sociable, when a rough hand grabbed my shoulders.
'Oy , you can't sleep here, going to have to ask you to leave.' It was a text-book-bald bouncer.
Now, and this is important, had I been asleep, I never would have sat bolt up right, and aplologised in an absolute lucid tone. That's important because of what followed.
This big, ugly, bald guy insisted I leave, so I told him yes I would, once I'd finished my (overpriced) drink. Not good enough - onto radio for immediate back up, well guess I was looking dangerous at that point. Cue two more bouncers, lady bounce grabbed my drink - I wouldn't let go. She did let go, realising that I was not particularly drunk, or aggressive. Not good enough - next thing two huge bouncers lunged forward telling Tim to get out of the way. He refused and was lifted up and tipped out of his chair, wearing one of the best expressions of simultaneous surprise and determination I've ever seen.
Before I knew what was happening I was in a double arm lock - ouch - being shoved out of the building down a big flight of stairs, feet no where near the floor, as though I had just glassed someone or pulled a knife. One of the bouncers put enough effort in on my arm to leave it pretty bruised and sore. All because I lay down? I don't know what happened up there after I was so unceremoniously thrown out, but Liam was out next, hauled down the stairs by his neck, Tim was in a similar state.
One by one, people wondered out in a state of shock, anger, confusion. We had to negotiate getting our belongings back - bouncers refused to tell their names. Policewoman refused to help.
However, in the midst of all of this some very funny things happened. 1)A guy weaved his way to the door, so drunk he could barely stand, bouncing from wall to wall - the bouncers all smiled and greeted him 2) A girl was puking outside the door, she was let in, with a smile. (Not neccesarily funny - just wonderful irony. Those two were semi conscious and pretty gone on. Whilst we were all pretty lucid, but treated as though we were drunken/violent scum..) 3)Liam said when someone went to get my bag back that obvioulsy it was full of drugs - I think the word 'sarcastic' was lost on them 4) Ben, in an attempt to collect our stuff, picked up a coat. A really horrible coat, that made him look like a dodgy 80s German raver. He decided to wear it home.
If my arm didn't still hurt so much, I'd say that sight nearly made it all worthwhile.
I rant this here, because it was all such a stupid, miscalculated, badly judged balls up. Why do they call them 'bouncers'? Why don't they just own up and call them mindless, zenophobic thugs...
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
I just read a friends blog, with a brilliantly witty entry about shoes, and in particular 'Crox'.
Anyone who has ever seen them will know what I mean, anyone who hasn't you really don't want to know. Anyone who owns/loves them - apologies and do not read on.
Crox are like jelly beans for grown ups - only not as pretty. The most offensive sightings of them have been by 'kooky' student types who wear a different colour on each foot. Yuk. I know that there are more important things to worry about in the world, but I do wonder how we got into a situation where, normally intelligent women will wear those things.
I know how it happened, a certain fashion spread here and a fashion spread there, started to feature them as some kind of high fashion item. People read, bought, and wore. Now I reckon that it all might have started off as some kind of 'joke' at an editorial meeting.
'Lets put those in for a laugh'
'No one will ever wear those!'
'Bet you they will, dahling'
'A double skinny, lo caf, taste free, Latte'
'Ok sweetie, your'e on'
And so it came to pass... Now fashion must kind of be the ultimate and most visible meme thing that there is going on. It not only expalains the crox thing, but also other oddities.
So given the rise and rise of memes in blogospheres, would it be possible to start a fashion tip, and see how far it spreads. I reckon it might head all the way over to the pages at Vogue. Memes are word things, but I'm sure they might have enough sense of humour to want to take flight and start walking the pages a little more.
My suggestion for this season, is - Teddy Bear slippers, those silly big ones - to be worn with evening wear, as an ironic juxtoposition of our post modern aesthetic...
Wonder if it will catch on?
Sunday, March 04, 2007
Obi is back!
Obi is a very distinguished old man.
He walked out of the door last Monday, and vanished. We thought he might have gone for good, but he just walked in - very hungry, slightly damp, but otherwise his usual self.
It is a very good reason to :) :) :)
Saturday, March 03, 2007
Our car is broken, very broken, so broke, that it is properly brokEN. What I mean is, that is not a euphemism for, 'not working at the moment'.
Actually, it doesn't bother me too much, as I like buses and walking. All good, unless you need to leave Cornwall - then it becomes very bad because it is a long way to walk, and there is only one train line in and out (that is true!). Last time I travelled by train we were 6 hours late, on account of 1) a branch on the track 2) sheep on the track* 3) a broken down sea wall. I wish that were some blogging exageration but it is not.
*I don't know if there were two sheep on the track or not, they only said some.
When I got home from getting some shopping, I had no cornflakes.
Struggling round Tesco I had a whole box of them, under one arm as they wouldn't fit into the basket. Organic ones. I'm sure I put them through the bleeper thing. But, they were not on the slidey thing when I packed. Even stranger, there would have been no room to put them in the bags that I did bring home - they were all full. So where did they go?
I'm convinced that there is some interdimensional shoplifting place in between the place where you put the basket, the bleepy thing, and the slidey bit where you pack your bags. That is not some X files type conspiracy, just honest confusion. I've lost many things in that space before - the little bits that you only remeber when you get home. Because they were little, I always assumed that It was just me being vague.
However, I now have evidence to the contrary as this box of cornflakes was huge. Where did the cornflakes go?
Perhaps it is my secret Karma, as I did consider stealing a copy of 'heat' (it should never be paid for, only stolen or found). But I didn't. Was the thought enough to cancel out the conflakes? It would seem so.
Friday, March 02, 2007
I've made some friends out here.
Have to say thankyou to: bluecat who suggested that; xtina make us all do it; tim who made it all seem like there was a point to it all; and to andy who read it all from the start...
Oh dear, that sounds like some torrid award ceremony speech. Eugh.
Well, it's just me sitting on the carpet, telling myself a story - about a story that I want to write. Friday night, I mean where else would I choose to be, but in flannel pyjamas, sitting here typing away - sod the clubs and bars, from here I can go anywhere.
The Pheonix and The Carpet did that.
The Box of Delights had some kind of magical music that made all seem at peace in the world.
Oh, perhaps the self induced nostalgia might have something to do with having been at a Writing For Kids workshop today, discussing, in part why, you can't write kids books like that any longer, and finding out the clues for cracking the code to get past the 'Gate Keepers' - parents, teachers and psychologists... A milion and one, very much loved, books would never have got written in todays PC world.
PC - Police Constable Righteousness.
or, PC world - a place to buy computer things, where the staff are as holographic as the adverts.
It was a really good workshop.
But, PC-ness is out there pissing on the leg of manuscripts that see any child hero/ine even talking to stangers, investigating abandoned aeroplanes in fields, going out on a boat with out responsible named adult and full safety equipment .
Argh - that is what let the ultra-smug-should-get-a-job-and-stop-making-normal-people-look-silly-for-being-normal Annabel Car(bet it's a 4x4 really)michael woman onto the bookshelves. She should be pureed and placed in one of her own stupid freezer containers (I read a chapter at my sister in laws house, she doesn't like her buggy going on the beach because it cost more than 'most peoples cars'...Nuff said). On a similar note, can someone please bake Nigella-would-she-be-anywhere-without-a-politic-Dad-Lawson in one of her own (branded) muffin tins.
Lip gloss cookie bakers, should be enmeshed in their wicker baskets and have a facial in their moulinex.
Why the rant? For some reason their names were mentioned at the end of the day, and the ensuing gremlins unleash themselves onto this page. Should I feel inadequate because I just made my son boiled eggs and soldiers - rather than arranging broccoli florettes like a forest, on a coulis of bullshit, with a pizza face, on homemade bloody dough bases.
If I listened to those two, then yes I should.
Which kind of brings me full circle. The Famous Five ate boiled eggs, and had adventures without adequate adult supervision.
Hurrah! Found my way back again.
Moving House Is Bad For You.
That is (highly unlikely) the last thing I will say on the matter.
Dum de dum de de.
See, can't help myself, it's got to get out somehow. I DON'T LIKE MOVING HOUSE.
Forgive me if I am a little fraught, I've just moved house you see. It took 10 days, due to a glorious cross over of tennancies. This a) cost lots and b) created the false sense of security that we had moved, when in actual fact we had not.
It took: 10 days; countless midnight brown cardboard box commando missions; two pairs of Marigolds; a done in back; several rows; a few near misses on deadlines; oh, and I forgot how to log on to my blog. So I am glad to be back, and despite the chinese puzzle of brown cardboard boxes, the fog is slowly lifting and I remembered how to sign in.
Where does the mind go? Presume it got lost in one of the brown cardboard boxes that was in the old house whilst I was here. Happily now re united, it feels like I've been holding my breath for two weeks. Ah, it's good to breathe again.
So this brown card board box puzzle is a curious thing. You know those [big breath] "little puzzles that you got when you were little the ones with the little tiles that moved around to make a picture if you could figure the right order".
Yes. It's a bit like that.