Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Clever Kids?

I remember reading approximately five years ago about this little 10 year old protégé who had just finished his doctorate in Biology. Seemed like a nice enough kid, a bit geeky, but what do you expect? His parents looked proud, well they would wouldn't they, but you could tell where he got his geeky fashion sense. He also had the look of a kid that had not seen daylight for a good while. Surely it's got to be hard studying Biology from a locked room? I would have thought that being able to walk amongst nature would be a prerequisite to those sorts of studies. Then again, they are the parents with the ten year old Doctor of Science, and I am the one with a 15 year old who believed me when I said that when you see the moon during the day, it is just a reflection from the great lakes. So maybe their way is best, if not a tad cruel.

Fast forward to this morning and I see a report on the BBC that says teenagers are naturally predisposed to have late nights, and then sleep late in the morning. It's not their fault, apparently, it's just the way they are built. There is a trial school that is now opening at 10am to see if there is any substance to the claims. I can't help but think that the two things are linked somehow. I have a picture of this, now surly, teenager having to get up early every morning to do his paper round or something. Then one day he has his own personal eureka moment. "Sod this for a laugh, this doctorate has got to be handy for something, I know lets tell the world about my new 'finding', that should put paid to all this early delivery nonsense."

I mean fair play to him, all this paper knowledge has got to have some kind of practical use. It did get me wondering about what kind of skills my lot would have. Was there any indication in the traits that were already showing, anything that they could use in the lead up to greatness?

Mate is only two and not showing too many skills right now. To my eternal shame he loves watching the ballroom dancing on a Saturday night. I have nothing against that, but Strictly Come Dancing, seriously? He is obviously lacking in taste, although he does a mean Fandango. He also likes locking himself between doors, well he does it twice a day, I have to presume he likes it. I'm rather partial to it myself as I can leave him there for a good 15 minutes before he starts to kick up. Not the greatest combination to work with then. A dancing David Blaine is the only thing that springs to mind, and I'm not sure the world is ready for that.

Katy (4) has always shown a strong interest in all things kitchen. Since a very early age she has demanded a stool to sit on whenever I start cooking. At first I thought it was because she just wanted to pinch food as we went along, which she did, but I soon realised she had an even more mischievous reason. I am a 'cook with a wine/beer/G&T' type of chef. I am also quite French in my attitudes to kids and alcohol. I see nothing wrong in letting the kids have a shot glass of shandy, or a watered down wine. Katy had obviously realised this, so would quite happily peel some spuds or carrots, safe in the knowledge there was a drink in it for her.

The upshot is she now knows her lemon grass from her spring onions, her garlic from her ginger and her soy sauce from her Worcestershire sauce (not that either of us can pronounce it). She also has most of her herbs down pat. We have quite a large herb garden, and she loves to taste and smell the difference in them all. The only two she seems to constantly confuse, are Basil and Rosemary. Now as they are polar opposites in both look and taste, I can only conclude that Katy will become the World's foremost Accidental Fusion Chef.

That leaves me with my eldest, Dawn. At 15 her career path should be almost sorted, well you would hope so anyway. It does sometimes feel that whatever her favourite TV show is at any particular moment, determines what occupation she intends to pursue. C.S.I. used to be a staple part of her diet, so therefore a strong interest in forensic science was born. Once she got into 24 she decided she wanted to fight world terrorism, but discounted that when she realised she could not join CTU straight from 6th form. She is currently into True Blood, so I am praying to God she does not have any thoughts of becoming a Vampire. Although as she has a boyfriend at the moment, I am putting double garlic in everything anyway, more subtle than the baseball bat I wanted to use to scare him off.

Unfortunately she has inherited my cynicism, sarcasm, and caustic tongue, so I fear a career in stand up comedy beckons. People will pay to be personally abused whilst other people laugh at them, won't they?

So it looks like my children are going to entertain, feed, and abuse the general public. Not the most lofty or noble professions maybe, especially when compared to a Lawyer or a Brain Surgeon. On the other hand, you would chose to go and see my kids, not have to see them when you are in trouble. I will settle for that, being wanted is loads better than being needed.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Housebandian Rhapsody

Is this just my life?
It's sure no fantasy
Caught in a timeslip
Of such endless banality
Open my eyes
And try to smell fresh coffee
I'm just a Houseband
Getting no sympathy
Because I'm "get this Dad", "take me here"
"where's my socks?" need a beer
Every day the same shit
Doesn't really matter to me, to me

Mama just ate some ham
Put some eggs upon her plate
Picked her fork up and she ate
Mama, breakfast just begun
And now you've gone and ate it all away
Mama, ooh
Didn't mean to make them fried
If they're not poached just right this time tomorrow
Have them boiled, have them boiled, it doesn't really matter

We're late, school bell has rung
Putting washing on the line
Body's aching all the time
Goodbye lazy mornings
I've got to sweep
Gotta find those dust bunnies and old cobwebs
Dusting, oooooooh (Every way the wind blows)
I just don't know why?
Sometimes wish I'd never cleaned up at all

[Air Guitar Solo]

I hear a moody teenage girl upon the stairs
Hair goes Whoosh. Hair goes Whoosh. Lost in a cloud of perfume
Purple nails and scrunchy, very, very trendy indeed
Where's my trainers? Where's my trainers? Where's my trainers and my coat?
Oh here we go-o-o-o-o
I'm just a young girl nobody loves me
She's just a young girl from a Twitter family
Sparing her nails from this monstrosity

Party please, ends at 12, will you let me go?
You're joking? No, we will not let you go
Let her go
You're joking? We will not let you go
Let her go
You're joking? We will not let you go
Let me go (Will not let you go)
Let me go (Will not let you go) (Never, never, never, never)
Let me go, o, o, o, o
No, no, no, no, no, no, no

Put that down Mate. Put that down Mate. Put it down before it burns
The A&E has a gurney put aside for thee, for thee, for thee

So you think that these spuds will just peel themselves
So you think that your clothes just appear on your shelves
Oh, children, can't do this to me, children
Just gotta get out, just gotta get right outta here

[Air Guitar Solo]
(Oooh yeah, Oooh yeah)

I do all the hard work
For a lousy fee
I do all the hard work
I do all the hard work for free

I deserve a beer now...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Survival of the Fittest

I was in the kitchen preparing Katy's lunch for school one morning last week. After the whole school dinners debacle (see blog for excruciating details) we are firmly in the packed lunch dept. I removed the stalk from her apple and loosened the flap on her box of raisins. It was as I was making a slight tear in her tube of yogurt to help her open it, that it occurred to me that maybe I was doing her a disservice. I was making everything so easy for her, how was she ever going to learn? How would she ever be able to fend for herself if I continued on this path?

Right there and then I decided I was going to toughen her up. With that in mind, I didn't cut her roll in half, and I also wrapped it in a length of Clingfilm as tall as she was. I put it all in her lunch bag, added a carton of juice but removed the straw, and zipped it up all the way, without even leaving a little gap to make it easy to open. Happy with the start I had made on my new regime, I packed her off to school, tempted to make her walk, but as she is still only four, I drove her.

Once at school I put the next part of my plan into action. Five minutes before the bell went, I left Katy in the playground outside the classroom and said my goodbyes. I figured I would watch from a distance, and see how she coped with being on her own. I was quite proud to see her force her way to the front of the queue, eager to learn obviously. I moved nearer and peered in and saw the real reason she forced her way to the front. There on a table, by the door, was a bowl of bananas. Obviously not enough for the whole class, not even by half. Apparently a big glass of milk, two weetabix, and a slice of bread and honey isn't enough for a growing girl.

My worries for Katy's survival skills lessened, and to be honest at four she is probably beyond help anyway. I had observed her 15 year old sister Dawn try to light the hob with a lighter only the previous night, without any great success I might add. I would have to watch that situation, if she improves then I know she's started smoking. So another lost cause there then. I decided to concentrate on the boy, he was only two, still young enough to mould, still pliable in my good intentioned hands.

I had to teach him some hunter-gatherer skills. Not the easiest thing to teach when you live in the City and your trainee is two. All that was left for me was to hide his lunch. I would make it in front of him, send him out of the kitchen, and hide his plate in one of the low cupboards. On the first day I left the door slightly ajar so he would understand the game, but from then on he was on his own. He got the hang of it quite quickly, so I started hiding it in higher and harder places. The boy did me proud each time, and then he started to give me a smug grin. Let's see how smug he is today when he goes looking. I have hidden his lunch in the car, and the best bit is, shhh, I have to whisper this bit... I have hidden the car keys in my pocket. Score one for Dad.

I read an article once about the rise in the number of kids with peanut allergies. The author seemed to suggest that as pregnant women were cutting them out of their diet completely, when the child did first come in contact with peanuts, it would develop a reaction. He drew a parallel with our vaccination system whereby the child had a little bit of the measles, or polio bug introduced to their system. They then developed immunity to it, and Robert's your Father's brother.

My hygiene hypothesis was born. Working on the same lines as the eminent professors before me, I came to the conclusion that everything was too clean. All those tiny little bugs were being super-anti-bacteriologicaled away, leaving the door open for the big bad ones that follow in their footsteps. There could only be one cure for this, stop cleaning. Start believing that dirt is good, dust is our friend, and grime is the enemy of e-coli. I packed all the cleaning implements into a box, and retired them to the dustbin, safe in the knowledge that I was building a healthier future for Mate. Well safe in the knowledge until eight days later. That's when Wifey slipped on a discarded and forgotten roast potato. If that wasn't bad enough, whilst she was wriggling round on the floor like an upended turtle, she happened to notice the accumulation of crap on the laminate floor. Like a teacher dishing out lines in school, she demanded an explanation.

This has been the said explanation.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Honest Scrap Blogger Award

A fellow blogger, twitterer, and lovely gal Wendy Morrell aka @quillfeather, whose blog is at http://quillfeather-blog.blogspot.com/ ,has given me the Honest Scrap Blogger Award. Thanking you most kindly. Just as I was about to give my acceptance speech, I took a look at the small print. There are rules? Rules? I just knew there had to be a catch, you don't get nothing for nothing in this world. These are the rules of the award:

a. 'The Honest Scrap Blogger Award' must be shared.

b. The recipient has to tell 10 (true) things about themselves that no one else knows.

3. The recipient has to pass on the award to 10 more bloggers.

d. Those 10 bloggers should link back to the blog that awarded them.

So, here are my 10 things, I hope they don't scare you too much. Please try to remember that, up until reading this list, you used to like me. I am still the same old @goonerjamie OK? Cool, so settle in and welcome to a quick glimpse into my inner workings and Jamieness.

1. On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I paint my left big toe with blue nail varnish. On Tuesday and Thursday I do it to my right big toe. I don't do anything at the weekends because that would be just weird.

2. I did the first part of this blog topless. I am doing the rest of it naked, and I need to hurry as it is so cold things are shrinking rapidly.

3. Double barrelled surnames scare the bejesus out of me.

4. I don't know how to spell chesse cheese, supprise surprise, or chinesse chinese. You will not believe how many times I have had to use the sentence "As a supprise I gave them some chinesse chesse."

5. My kids think my farts and burps are funny, and that makes me extremely proud.

6. I don't think drinking every day means you have an alcohol problem. I think, only drinking at the weekends means you have.

7. I think the emoticon for heart <3 look like a dangly pair of bollocks. Every time I see it I think somebody wants me to join in some tea-bagging.

8. I cringe every time I add lol to the end of a tweet. Unfortunately as I am a piss taking bastard, and there is no sarcastic font, I am forced to add it because I kept upsetting people, lol.

9. I used to add a certain illegal herb to my Bolognaise sauce, and let it brew up all day. Stress free dining at its finest.

10. I wish I could dance before 10 pints had been consumed, and stop dancing after.

Well there you go, there's my 10. Hope they haven't affected you too badly, and I refuse to pay for any therapy sessions you now may need.

So the 10 victims bloggers who have thoroughly earned the award I have bestowed upon them, in an order only known to me, are:

1. Angela Montague @angpang with Incense and Peppermints at http://angelarambleson.blogspot.com/

2. Denis Vaughan @inshin with Inshin's Blog at http://inshin.wordpress.com/

3. Tim Atkinson @dotterel with Bringing up Charlie at http://www.bringingupcharlie.co.uk/

4. Dave Bartlett @DaveBartlett1 with Bartie-Blog at http://bartie-blog.blogspot.com/

5. @omgmummy with And then there were three at http://omgip.blogspot.com/

6. Tanya Burley @LaChatNoir with La Chat Noir's Ramblings at http://lachatnoir.wordpress.com/

7. Nene La Beet @labeet with Musings of a web crazed woman at http://labeet.dk/wordpress/

8. Debra Snider @DebraSnider with Woman at Work at http://debrasnider.blogspot.com/

Oops, there are only 8. That's because every time I went to add someone, I saw that they had already done it. So there you go, please check out the above blogs plus @quillfeather's, they are all good reads and well worthy of the award

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A toast to my Mother in Law on her 70th

I first met my Mother in law at a Toga party at Kirkdales, a pub I later went on to buy. She would always like a good natter, and was very quick to point out to me that in her day they were just referred to as 'parties', and that togas were just everyday wear. I have always felt that having a birth certificate engraved in marble, was quite a thing.

'Mummy Veronica' as she is known within the Kirkdales community, has always been a lively character. 'Vivacious Veronica' is a tag she oft likes to bestow on herself. In fact it was on hearing of her exploits on various Night buses on the way home from numerous Salsa clubs at 5.30am, that first sparked my interest in my wife, her daughter, Patricia. I figured that with those genes and those jeans, Trish would definitely be a party girl up for a wild time. Ten years of sitting indoors watching crap television on a Saturday night, has not entirely crushed those dreams. I like to live in hope.

They say Helen of Troy's beauty was such, that she started the Trojan War. She was 'The face that launched a 1000 ships'. Veronica was born in 1939 at the start of World War 2. 'The face that launched a 1000 kamikaze planes' does not have quite the same ring to it, and is definitely not mentioned in polite company.

Veronica is a keen church goer and an important member of that community. Seventy years of strict Catholic upbringing has taught her all the best ways to blaspheme. In fact her Salsa and Tango techniques are the Holy See's first weapon in his current fight to convert Anglicans to the Catholic way. Guilty pleasures indeed.

It is impossible to mention Veronica without referring to her children, who she has always taught to out-work, out-talk, and out-spell everybody else. Never have betterer lessons on the correct use and placement of apostrophe's been had. I consider myself learnt well. Her lesson of 'Never use one word if one hundred will suffice' is a family motto, and one they all hold dear to their hearts.

Three score and ten is a magnificent milestone to achieve, and has not been reached without a few red wine induced hic-ups. As Veronica herself would like to say, actually, I don't have room for that speech. So instead I say Congratualtions and Happy Birthday Oma.