Monday, 23 September 2013

Slides, sleep-overs and snot.



Despite determined efforts to maintain a healthy lifestyle (I green juice every day, eat strange frogspawn textured Chia seed and almond milk breakfast stodge; substitute pasta for Quinoa and wheat flour for spelt), this week I have developed a vile head cold that has left me feeling as miserable and attractive as the trails of balled up tissue paper that are deposited in my wake as I wander forlornly around the house trying to avoid the crowds (see previous blog entry).

Though it is possible that this unseasonably early bout of ill-health  (SUMMER IS NOT OVER YET!) might be attributed to my 'I deserve some fun in life too' Counter-lifestyle (several gallons of red wine - full of Antioxidants don't you know - late night chocolate binges -ditto-),  taking its toll on my already fragile immune system, it is usually some be-snotted toddler, sneezing its vile nose-drip, head-bung affliction upon me during the course of my working day, that brings me down this hard.

This year, however, I fear that even the be-snotted toddler can not be be blamed for my sorry state as last week end found me 'celebrating' my son's Thirteenth birthday by standing for three freezing cold hours in the pouring rain watching as he and seven other pre-pubescent bundles of testosterone rotated, spun, slid, lurched and flew through the blackening skies with stomach churning, eye-watering speed at the funfair. (Note that I have added the pre-fix 'fun' for the purposes of definition only, in case you thought we might have been at any other kind of fair or fayre or whatever)

What I didn't know, when we bought them £10 worth of tokens each, was that it was half price night which meant we had to then spend twice as long enduring this particular form of techno-sountracked, weird voiced, naked-women bestowed, vomit-inducing torture. Had I known that it was half price night I would have given them a fiver each and rubbed my hands all the way home, gleefully congratulating myself that I had  got away with spending only thirty five quid on the whole sordid affair.

To make matters worse, the boys all chose to spend four of their precious tokens on a pass that allowed them as many goes as they wanted on an inflatable slide, which meant that we could potentially be there until the fair ended. Now you might think that a slide would be an innocent pass-time for a twelve year old boy but, when you add water to the equation, believe me, a twenty foot rubber slide, quickly becomes a 40 mile-an hour heart stopping death-ride. It took two burley fair-ground staff, plus my husband, to break the momentum of our boys as they dived, summersaulted and whizzed their way towards a broken clavicle, cracked skull or worse, possible Death-by-Generator - which was inexplicably located at the bottom of the slide,  where a child traveling faster then the local speed limit would almost certainly meet a messy and untimely end.   I stood, sodden and white-knuckled in front of the generator, screeching and gesticulating wildly at the boys while trying to work out in my head how I was going to tell Jack or Jonah or Joel's parents that their darling boy was "fine, but in hospital. No need to worry you understand".

Joel, the smallest of the bunch, having managed to navigate his way past the human barricade, at one point flew off the end of the slide and, after  landing with a spine-crunching bump, knocked me clean off my feet and proceeded to shoot right out of the entrance, continuing his journey for several meters before finally screeching to a halt on the grass outside.  At this point I called time on the whole health and safety nightmare and directed them towards the the fairgrounds scariest ride, The Tornado - suddenly propelling the children eighty feet into the air on a giant rotating arm,  seemed like the safe option.

Later, with the boys all safely home, dry and fed, I collapsed into bed having left them tucked up in a menagerie of Onsies in the living room with the  TV and four XBox remotes to keep them happy.  I came down to shout at them 1.30 a.m, again at  2.30 a.m and finally at around 5.30 a.m - it was getting light -  I resorted to the time honored tactic of divide and conquer. Only by shutting them in strategically selected smaller groups in various bedrooms, did I finally manage to achieve three hours sleep.

When I got up in the morning, bleary-eyed and horse from shouting, the boys had already reconvened in the living room and, having made no attempt to hide the piles of sweet wrappers, discarded biscuit packs and drink cartons that lay strewn across the floor in little brazen heaps, were once again happily parked in front of the Xbox,  hollow-eyed and screaming as they murderously pursued their virtual victims.

During the course of the week, my cold consumed me completely and my heart filled with exhausted dread  as I moved towards my daughter's 8th birthday sleep-over for 5 (it should have been 6 but one of them had to be delivered home at 11.30 p.m!). This happy event took place immediately after her birthday party, at which my husband and I found ourselves being the sole carers and source of entertainment for 20 of her Year Three class mates.  The less said about the party the better, but believe me I have no plans to become a primary school teacher EVER! We managed to get through it almost unscathed (My husband did find himself under a pile of about 15 of them at one point, which was slightly worrying)  but let me assure you, in case you are in any doubt, that  seven and eight year old girls are not much better behaved then twelve and thirteen year old boys when it comes to parties or sleep-overs. We did discover that they are much easier to scare however, and so it was that at 2 am, after threats of separation and darkened rooms,  they eventually stopped singing Katie Perry songs and went to sleep. It should be noted that girls are much better at tidying then boys  and it was with some amusement that the next morning I spotted a huge pile of sweetie wrappers on our kitchen roof that had been sneakily deposited out of the bedroom window after a furtive midnight feast.  It seems,  my daughter has learnt early that evidence of an unhealthy life-style has to be carefully concealed.

 So with that I say pass the Chia seeds and oh yes, make mine a very large glass of red....snuffle.

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Thursday, 19 September 2013

A day in the life of a Tourwidow...

My Thirteen year old son has recently started writing a blog which has had views from complete strangers as a far afield as the US and the USSR - partly I suspect because its subject matter is a commentary on the current football season with a particular focus on Manchester United (He will have every Irish man in the world on board)  coupled with the odd gripe about school. Needless to say I am very proud of him, this is something that he has started completely on his own and it has certainly captured his imagination. Each day,  he proudly shows me charts detailing how many hits the blog has had but when I ask to read it he hurumphs and sulks and says "NO!" He has made it very clear to me that under no circumstances am I to read his blog. I have tried to reason with him that a blog, by its very nature, is in the public domain and therefore it might be a little unreasonable to ban ones parents from reading it, particularly as every device I open in the house these days, be it my Ipad, my lap top, the desk top and even my iphone defaults to his blogspot (needless to say he is somewhat obsessed) but to no avail. His is a private blog that everyone in the world is welcome to view ( and believe me he wants it to be read)  apart from me.

The blog debacle is of course the perfect metaphor for parenting a teenager (a subject I intend to explore further - Charlie you might not want to read this - LOL!!!!!)  and though I find it amusing I feel sad that the little boy who has always shared his world with me, now inhabits a, mostly virtual,  domain that I am excluded from. Last night however, as he lay languishing in the bath (a pastime I am yet to be banned from) we reached a strange compromise. He has challenged me to write my own blog and, on the condition that I become his friend, which in some way promotes his own site though I am not sure how,  I will be allowed to read his blog. Of course now that I have been given permission to read it my interest has waned, cruel mother that I am,  but the idea of writing a blog is something I have been toying with for a while and it suddenly seems like another perfect distraction from the more pressing business of writing my novel.
So here is a small cross section of my day: It is my daughter's 8th birthday and she has just come home from school, ripped her way through several tons of gifts and is currently creating a Celtic hill house with cardboard, green paint and scrunched up newspaper. She has two accomplices, twin red-headed girls who are impossible to tell apart  and they are all arguing over the best way to construct a house out of paper and Selleotape. They keep trying to get me involved in this art piece but I am having none of it. Every so often they abandon the project and run wildly up and down the stairs screaming into Walkie Talkies. This prompts my husband, who is a musician and producer to come running up the stairs from his studio in the basement to tell them to be quiet (I am not getting involved). He is recording drums, double bass, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, fiddle and vocals downstairs. The band are ripping up a storm of reeling country folk which permeates every corner of the house. There is a guitar amp in the loo and every so often the music stops and a mildly heated debate breaks out over the microphones about how many bars to play before the break. The Artist in question is one-time Canadian folk star Bonnie Dobson of Morning Dew fame who is now a gorgeous 70 something,  enjoying a second slice of the action courtesy of Hornbeam Recordings; a record label who's manifesto is to dig out retired folk legends and get them recording again. It might be loud, but does sounds bloody great I have to say.  At lunch time all 10 (I think, I have lost count) of the musicians plus record company bods,  were milling around my kitchen eating rice and peas and curry and sneaking off for fags on the decking. The cup-count has reached an all time high today (the kettle must go on every 15 minutes and the dishwasher at least twice a day)  and there has been wine and beer lurking around too. The cats have opted to sit in sodden dejection outside rather than be subjected to the crowds.
I have to escape to my bedroom if I want to get any writing done, which is tricky because the lure of the bed always calls and before I know it I am having a quick cat nap.... zzzzz

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