2010 is just around the corner...

Yes, it's that time of year again... an old year out and a new one in.  A time for resolutions (whether we keep to them or not), a time for reflection, a time for new beginnings - everyone does it.  But I have a more burning question:


Do you say "Twenty Ten"
Do you say "Two Thousand And Ten"

Which is right and which is wrong, what will you be saying and will one annoy you more than the other?


A Lottery Win?

She sat on her faded, aged settee, clutching the crumpled lottery ticket, not daring to let it out of her sight.  She’d chosen the numbers carefully – not the usual birthdays and anniversaries but numbers that she thought would be lucky.  It was 7.30pm on a Saturday and the usual rituals of evening meal, washing up and the pouring of a glass of wine had been conducted.  She was trying to stay calm but she always got jittery at the same time, every week.  Her mind was full of ‘What if’s...’ and she almost couldn’t bear the tension but she knew that was part of her enjoyment of the weekly ritual... or torture, whichever way you looked at it.

At 8.05pm the familiar theme tune struck up, the blue logo and the red writing to which she had become so accustomed flew into view on the television screen and she could feel the excitement and tension building.

As the host of the quiz show (used to pad out the 30-second draw into a hour-long show) appeared she tutted and shuffled in her chair.  More time to wait!  But she felt that she couldn’t complain as the children enjoyed this bit, mainly because they had a one-in-four chance of getting the answer right thanks to the answers appearing on screen.   And of course, they tolerated her little indulgence each week. 

The crack of a can of lager opening to her right hand side made her jump slightly and she glanced over to her husband, sat in his usual chair, relaxing with his drink, waiting, uncomplainingly until the children had gone to bed, when they could snuggle together on the settee with a bootleg copy of a recent film from his “hush-hush-wink-wink-say-no-more-it’s-cheap” mate at work.  The jolt back to reality prompted her to look around her cosy lounge and appreciate what she already had... a roof over her head, happy, well-fed children, a loving husband... but she had her dreams.  She was allowed, wasn’t she?

A drum roll pounded out of the speakers of the television, a pretty, young, blonde female presenter stepped in front of the camera and proceeded to speak to a body-less voice who was known as “The Voice Of The Balls”.  The usual banter about independent adjudicators and random machine selection took place and the weekly call of “Ssssshhhhhh” reverberated around the lounge. 

She checked her ticket one more time and then kept her eyes glued to the television screen.

The first ball dropped into view...
The second ball dropped into view...
The third, the fourth and the fifth...
Then the sixth...

She looked at her ticket.  Her family turned and looked at her.  She looked up and shook her head and they all heaved a sigh of relief.

Another week without a win.  She’d proved, once again, that she didn’t need to win the lottery to be happy and she tucked the two-year-old ticket back into her purse ready for the following week.

Today I become the grandparent to a 1 year old child...

... so can someone please tell me where the last year went?

I mentioned the fact that my daughter had a baby last year in this blog; and how proud I am of how she's managed becoming a parent at such a young age.  Today, that baby is 1 year old!!! 

Many battles have been fought during the last year - my daughter has flown the nest (again) to live in her own house, moved to another house, found out she is pregnant again (yes, that bit was TOTALLY unexpected) and is building her own little family in her own little world so it seems the war has been won.

I sometimes look at her and think "I did that... I helped there" but then I realise that she's doing it all on her own, really and I'm very, very proud of her.

A Poignant Nativity

Nativities are both crap and brilliant in equal measures.

I've just returned from watching Jake in the Junior Nativity Play.  This was, as the title suggests, a poignant nativity for me because I realised that it was the last time I'd ever see any of my children in a traditional nativity.  I started crying the minute the curtains opened and showed Year 3 singing (I know not one single child in Year 3, 4 or 5) and continued crying until the curtain closed for the final time half an hour later *rolls eyes*.  

Yes, I'm pathetic.  It's official.

This Nativity play was called "Round The Back" and was the traditional nativity story interspersed with modern day references.   The grumpy innkeeper just wanted some sleep because he'd been busy rehearsing for Strictly Come Dancing, the light from the star was compared to the light from a Nintendo DS in a darkened room, the Angels danced to "The Eve Of The War" from War of the Worlds and the Three Kings auditioned in front of the X-Factor judges.  The role of Simon Cowell was acted by, yes, you've guessed it - Jake!!  He got the biggest laughs by playing to the crowd (hitching his trousers up, rolling his eyes and arguing with Louis) and showed off his dancing skills when the judges danced with the Kings (I know... very surreal).  I think the headteacher is a closet disco fan because, apart from the Angels' dance and the final song (sung by the whole ensemble) all the songs were rearranged/reworded Abba tunes.

There was no drama, no-one burst into tears, no-one forgot their lines (in fact, ALL the cast were word perfect), baby Jesus' head didn't fall off and all the kids sung their hearts out (mostly in tune).  I'm just sad it's all over.  For ever. 

What a 10 year old wants for Christmas...

... and it's all available from Argos.

I found this "Cristmas List" stuffed in between the pages of my Filofax earlier today. This appears to be the next stage along from giving your child a pen and the Argos catalogue and letting them circle the toys on their wish list. I'm very pleased to note that Jake's spelling and handwriting is coming on a treat (he's just received his "pen licence" at school). It's a shame that Father Christmas will not be able to obtain everything on the list but he may replace it with other presents that are just as good, if not better. Please note the inclusion of the Argos catalogue numbers, for our convenience.

On the list we have:

1. science museum 400ft stomp Rocket
(he won't be getting this - we live in a terraced house with no garden - yes, apparently the rocket will fly up to 400 feet in the air - no mention of the very upset child when the rocket does not come directly down into the arms of afore-mentioned child or, if you are using it in the local park, it gets stuck up a tree or a dog runs off with it.)

2. offcial Manchester United couler crest mirrer
(he will not be receiving this either. Football, pah!)

3. zeebeez collector set
(we have bought these - not sure what they do and there doesn't seem to be a lot in the box for ten quid. No instructions included but some vague directions on the internet about turning them inside out and waiting for them to "pop up". I wonder if they'll compensate for the non-appearance of the Stomp Rocket?)

4. Rubeits cube
(we'll probably pick this up at the weekend and also one of the other Rubik's puzzles)

5. skuter
(this is a much coveted present and we will have to get this, however, the only ones in stock ANYWHERE in the North West at the moment seem to be pink, or High School Musical themed, or not big/sturdy enough... well, there are some, but they are in the region of £40 *faints*)

6. skiletriks
(thanks to James May's Toy Stories the discovery of a number of old childhood favourites have materialised. I just wish we'd kept the scalextric that we bought for Michael years ago.)

7. skatebourd
(this is a no-brainer - already purchased. He's had loads of skateboards and loves them)

On the back of this note is a "cristmas list" for his brother. He has guessed what his 16 year old brother wants for Christmas and written it down. It has one item on it with just the Argos catalogue number - it's good that Argos has a website, really because I sure as hell wasn't going to search through the whole book looking for it. So it looks like Michael is going to be getting a docking station for his X-Box controllers.

Jake also told us (fairly discreetly, just in case anyone was listening) that he still believes in Father Christmas but he may not do next year when he goes to high school...


Today it is 27 years since my Nana died. I only remembered after I'd written the date a few times, however I do have vivid memories of the day she died and the week after.

I was 10 years old and in top class at primary school. Nana's house was on the route to school so I used to walk to there with my mum and my sister then cross the park to my friend's house and walk to school with her (oh, the grown up responsibility - walking 3 blocks with no adult supervision!). On 2nd December 1982 Mum asked me if I wanted to go and see Nana on the way because I'd not seen her all week. I said that I didn't and skipped off to Tara's house.

Later that night, just as I'd gone to bed, the phone rang. I could hear mum's muffled voice then I heard her make another phone call. About 15 minutes later, my aunt and uncle came round and my mum and dad went out. My aunt came upstairs and said that my Nana had called to say she was unwell, could my mum go round and that she had come to look after my sister and I for a while.

I couldn't sleep. My 10 year old brain was telling me that something just wasn't quite right. I tossed and turned for what seemed like an age and then then I heard the front door open and close. I listened to snippets of the conversation and worked out what was going on. Nana had died.

I sat at the top of the stairs with my legs outstretched; my heels on my feet touching the very edge of the top step so that all you could have seen from the bottom of the stairs was the underneath of my foot and I imagined that this is how Nana was now, waiting in Purgatory, before she went to Heaven. It's how the mind of a good Catholic girl worked, you see - I was mixing up 'souls' and 'soles'. I must have been sat there a while because I heard a lot more detail about what the doctor thought was the cause of death, how the fire brigade had had to break into her flat and where she was when she was found. I heard my dad moving around downstairs and scuttled back to bed. He then came upstairs, woke my sister and I (I pretended to be asleep) and broke the news to us.

The next day I went to school as normal, but we walked a different route - not past Nana's house. Once in school and before class started, we said morning prayers and my teacher mentioned her during a remembrance prayer. I then started to feel guilty. All I could remember was not wanting to go and visit her the previous morning... I'd just wanted to go and call for my friend and walk to school on my own.

Although I don't remember much about the next week, it must have affected me a lot. I told my parents what I had heard on the night she died and they were surprised at how much I already knew. They also realised why I was now so upset even though they'd tried to protect me from the sadness. I begged and begged to go to the funeral as I felt that it was my way to make amends and say goodbye.

When I had my own children and they started developing their own personalities, my mum would say, "Your Nana would have loved Rachel/Michael/Jake"... and, I agree, she would. And it's because of the lovely memories I have of my Nana that I also wanted to be called "Nana" when my daughter first found out she was pregnant last year.
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