Monday, 11 July 2016

#Love Island...actually

I don't watch a lot of TV.

OK, I'll admit it...I watch a  teeny weeny bit but its usually a drama on catch up or something staid and dull like The great British Sewing Bee or How neat is my Garden.

I don't do 'Big Brother', 'I'm a Celebrity' or even 'Strictly'. I don't really do much reality if anything at all...but Love Island has seriously grabbed my attention...if only for the drama and the utter craziness of the world, young adults and social media. Why has my world been so small?  

@loveisland - Twitter

There is absolutely no way that I'm going to admit watching in public(and I follow all the contestants...eek!) so when BH has caught me at it I told him it's down to the social experiment research that I need to do for my book.  Watching how young people interact with one another in groups that piques my curiosity and that we'll need this info for when the kids get older. Seriously!

Each night he'll catch me tucked up with my iPad and ask "Research?'

I'm not sure when I actually realised that they were actually 'doing it'. I think it was a gradual realisation that everyone in the Villa were all it, however, tonight (I've seen the clip)one very handsome Villa mate, (Adam M) looked decidedly uncomfortable when he realised that he was expected to perform on national TV and baulked visibly at the idea. Katy, the girl he's coupled up has previously flashed in public so already has form, and was clearly disappointed in the lack of action.

Now, I'm no prude but when did sex on our TV's become so mainstream and acceptable? When did it become so normal and oddly fascinating to watch our youth bonking the brains out of someone they've only just met?

Last night the parents and loved ones of 'the cast' visited their little babes in the Villa. The burning question from their lips were 'Are you proud of me?'

PROUD? Of what, exactly? Proud of their ability to wear a bikini in a beguiling way? Proud of their geography knowledge? Proud of their ability to stay with one person for a couple of weeks then admit that they might just make it on the 'outside'? Proud of shagging someone you've known for five minutes or proud that you did the mambo under the covers without anyone seeing...but everyone knowing, unless you're the 19year old that decided to ride with gusto, throwing caution and your hair to the wind by playing outside the duvet!

Proud is not a word I would have used. The question they should have asked is 'Did I embarrass you?'
As a parent, I would be ashamed had I been asked to appear and condone their behaviour.

Oddly, each parent brushed past the main element. They were proud.
"Yeah babe, you've done us proud. You've kept it real and been true to yourself"
"Oh really?" they cried
"Yeah, babe, we love you and so does everyone outside!"


So what is this really all about? Fame for fames sake? Fame for doing and achieving absolutely nothing? Is this what we want for our children? To aspire to be on a reality show?
I have absolute admiration for those who have the bollox to actually admit their true intentions. The other evening the villa Boys took part in a Lie detector game. One, Adam J, admitted that he was there for the fame and the girls after the show. The others went into melt down declaring true love!

From my research, many of the contestants either had links to past reality shows either knowing them  or had previous brushes with fame. From my research I can only conclude that reality TV has reached a new low. Shag someone on TV and you'll be famous. Shag someone on TV if you've got a small"ll never live it down!

Despite it all, I've loved every bit of it, if only to know what goes on in the heads of our youth and to know that they are in no way going to regret their brief dalliance with fame...along with their tattoos!

Be's addictive.

The final is tonight.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Pocket money or bribery?

The kids are all grown up...or at least that's what they think. Living with teenagers is a blast...not! We're in the midst of choices, exams, school changes and whatever the world can try and throw at us.

 I'm ducking it all and letting them each make their own decisions....a cop out I know, but try talking some sense into an obstreperous 15 year old who thinks gaming is a career choice and a 14 year old who believes that university is not the bee all.  And there was me thinking that in a very few short years, I'd be free of their smelly feet, the 'Perry' effect,  so that me and Mimi would have some quality time and do girly things together. It seems like Mimi has other ideas too. Apparently she asked my child free sister for ideas to make money as "Mummy won't pay pocket money". Sister was aghast and took her down to her studio where she makes all manner of crazy stuff from junk and gave her a few ideas. I'm a bit cheesed off as I thought Mimi would be my girl..but it appears she's not, she's not interested in girly stuff and seems to be intent on donning a mask and creating metal art!!

Anyway, back to the subject in hand....pocket money! In the idealised days of yore (pre-child) it as always my intention to reward any child I had with the cash once they'd completed a chore. I thought that to earn in that way would teach them the value of money and would encourage them to save for items they wanted and that it would be a great life lesson. It would teach them the basic principles of money.

That's all well and good until reality bites back. When they were younger and a lot smaller, we'd barter on chores.
Empty the dishwasher and I'll give you 50p.
Do the vacuuming -50p.
Lay the table 20p.
Mow the lawn £2
Clear the table 50p

We had a calendar and each chore had a price attached and at the end of the week we'd total up the chores and how much each one had.  It worked well for about 2 months, then they started to fight over who was doing what, they'd argue over did the most, who was earning the most. There'd be fights with forks whilst another wrestled the knives from my hands. I didn't fancy seeing an eye on the end of the fork so I made them take it in turns.

Then it stopped...completely! I couldn't get them to do anything. Then they started to negotiate more money for chores when in all honesty I thought they should be doing them anyway! They'd complain that it's slave labour and that they should join a union for exploitative child labour!  Trying to encourage them to come into the kitchen to cook was nigh on impossible. I remember peeling the potatoes and chopping up the cabbage for our dinner when I was growing up. It seems they fear the kitchen. They don't want to cook. Why should they? Mum does it all anyway. I was hoping that the bribery would make it easier for me. I hate vacuuming!

After months of trying to get them interested they didn't seem to want to earn any money after that. I couldn't exactly promise them their chance to save up for their Ferrari. They'd worked out that they'd never be able to afford the petrol....let alone the insurance! I could bribe Mimi with the promise of all the Shopkins her heart desires...but what then?

I worry for them when they leave home. They really won't have a clue, will they? BH thinks it'll all come out in the wash and they'll have to learn how to clean, how to wash their clothes and have their own rotas for the mind numbingly dull things I do on a daily basis, but they'll just do it in their own way...or not at all!

Little did I know that grandma was giving them a £5 secretly every week to do sod all!!!

How can I teach them the value of money when my own mother won't even play the game?

Saturday, 20 February 2016

War and Peace.

Cast of BBC's War and Peace - photograph Mitch Jenkins/BBC

Go on, admit it. You haven't read War and Peace, have you? I hadn't, but after the beautiful epic of the recent televised drama, I decided that I I am!  The BBC drama ended all too quickly, and by rights should've had a further 20 episodes, and that would've given me then opportunity to lust after the stunning James Norton for a few more weeks.

I'm not sure what had put me off all these years. I can't understand why I put it aside in favour of a lesser tale. I think it might have been the thought of lugging the thick tomb about that had put me off (it's seriously thick!) or maybe the thought of the flowery descriptions...and the war bit. I didn't think I'd understand it; that it might be too intellectual.  But it's not like that at all. It's bloody excellent. It's a descriptive piece, but the characters are full of life and I can see each one of them as clearly as if they were standing in front of me.  The dramatisation has helped, of course, but had I not seen it I'm not sure I would have ever picked it up. It has dialogue, which I like and it has depth.

Many say that Tolstoy was a sage, some say he was mentally ill, but you can't deny he was inspirational. His beliefs of non resistance influenced the non violent resistance movement in particular directly influencing Gandhi. After reading A letter to a Hindu and The kingdom of God is within you, Gandhi, then a lawyer in South Africa, sought advice and permission from Tolstoy to reprint the essay. How amazing is that? A writer influencing and changing the face of the world and the future! (As an aside, did you know Indira Gandhi wasn't related to Mohatma? I'm sure you do, but one story goes that her husband was actually Feroze Khan who was then adopted by Gandhi as an adult so that she could take his name along with her fathers to ensure the great dynasty. The other story is that he was Ghandy, but changed it. Who actually knows?).

Tolstoy believed that the aristocracy were a burden on the poor and lived his latter life in a spiritual development.  His wife wasn't too happy and apparently the family werent too enthralled by his beliefs or his writings. The sad thing was that he was embarking on a pilgrimage (to get away from his family?) but fell seriously ill enroute to wherever and ended up in Astapovo where the train had stopped and passed away in the station masters home.  I read a short story by Rose Tremain a while back, fictionalising the account of the incident.

So there you have it. Tolstoy has been feted as the greatest writer of all times but he was also game changer. He's also at the top of the UK best seller list for the first time ever!

I bought War and Peace in the book format. After studying the preface, the notes and the 1000's of forewords that accompanied it I decided that I'd be better off downloading it to my kindle as the typescript was seriously titchy! I needed reading glasses and I don't use them!

I'm a third of my way through reading it and have barely put it down. Even the war stuff was interesting. Read'll be pleasantly surprised!

The other day, Finn asked me what I was reading. When I told him, he laughed and said "Mimi said she'd heard you were reading this great new book called 'Leo's Toy Store' by Warren Peace. She wondered why you were reading a kids book!"

Friday, 29 January 2016

No regrets.

Standing at the crossroads of life, do you ever wonder where that other path may have taken you? You know...the one that you stood at, looked down and thought '"Nah...I don't like the look of it"?  Do you regret the choices you've made or worry about those missed opportunities that might have made the life you live so very different?

I'm pretty happy with my lot. Last night I did something that I don't regret. Generally, I'm someone who always looks forward, tries not to look back and gets on with the task in hand. I don't look over my shoulder, and I know that the grass is never greener on the other side or if it looks it, it's usually the same as the grass on this side. It's all grass.

I have no idea what made me do what I did and I had no intention of doing anything about it. I looked on Facebook for an old boyfriend...and found him!!! Well...I found his profile anyway.

It took me back to those days when I was young, pretty and , well, a little bit shallow. Yep...I admit there were times when  I thought a pretty boy would look good on my arm.  Who wouldn't? I could never shag an ugly man.

I met Jamie at a party. I didn't fancy going, as I knew most of the availables would be gay, so'd be a waste of my time (see...shallow!)  but my friend had promised that we'd hit the town later if we got bored. If I remember rightly, I was standing on the terrace and I got this feeling. You know, that feeling, when you know someone is staring at you. There was this guy standing by the wall, nursing a beer.  He was tall, blond, tanned, and incredibly good looking. He just had to be gay. He waved me over. I ignored him.  I'd had enough, so turned to Kerry and suggested we made tracks. We were saying our goodbyes, when he grabbed my arm and said "Och eye hen, ye shud meet me fer a wee dram tmorra". At least I think that's what he said.

I had nothing to lose so I met him, the next day...and he wasn't gay. He was Scottish. He was vain, arrogant but oh so beautiful. Getting ready to go out he'd spend more time in front of the mirror than me. He liked women as much as I liked men and would happily engage in flirting and I'd see him writing his number on the arms of girls we'd just met. I spent a weird year in a very odd relationship with him.  We never really talked about our relationship or what we wanted from each other. It ended. Well, it kind of fizzled out. Then I met BH, so less complicated and so right.

Looking at Jamie's profile, I knew it was him immediately. I checked through his pictures and there he was as the young guy I knew. I can see he hasn't aged too well, but we all get older, don't we and I
can't hold that against him. He has a daughter, but he's not married. Maybe he was, but he isn't now. He has his hair, and maybe his teeth. He's slimmer than he was, almost skinny. I checked out his friends list. It was full of women, young, older, sexy women so I guess he still likes them. I don't  regret looking for him. I'm pleased that I found him. It put a daydream to bed and he's has awful taste in sofas!

You won't be surprised to know I didn't add him!! 

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Competitive parenting

We've seen and heard it all before at the school gate, but there appears to be a phenomenon where lots of my friends congratulate their children on Facebook.  Nothing wrong with that.  It's nice to be proud of your little sprogs, but it's beginning to make me feel that my little and large sproglets are on a hiding to nothing.  Really, it makes me feel a bit sick in my mouth when I open up my FB page of a morning and has found that my frenemy, Giselle has posted on her wall

"Well done, Sproglet!  Winning the overall champion of Mensa!"

  I mean, really?  Isn't that boasting and not congratualting? Your child is 5!! He doesn't  even have a Facebook account!  I know, I've looked.   Now I can understand being proud. I can understand writing on your childs wall, but I can't understand why you don't realise that I know, that you know that I know it's just plain competitive and it makes me feel inadequate. But that's what you want, isn't it?

Pre kids, I was one of those people who'd turn off when at dinner parties, parents would tell the gathered group how clever, beautiful, amazing Morticia was.   I swore that I'd never bore those who didn't know my kid. I still don't.  Now it's all gathering around the school gates, comparing reading books, class tests. There's one mum who has a notebook. I'm pretty sure she's jotting down everyone's scores so that she can accurately place her child in the class. I've seen her whip it out and jot stuff down as she walks back to her car. Or maybe she's noting down what I was wearing that morning? Eek!

My kids are clever (not mensa level) my kids are sporty (not international level), my kids are very, very funny; but I don't tell them that.   I don't want them thinking they'll be able to take on James Cordon a comedy battle! My kids are quick witted and astute. They know how many beans make five!
"A bean, a bean, a bean and a half, a half a bean and a bean!" They shout when I test them. See...clever!

I remember a teacher discussing Bart at a Parents Evening many moons ago.

"He won't be a high flier" she said "He's very immature"
He was four!!  Of course, her experience proved her wrong.  He is a high flyer. His  head's way up in those clouds...and that's the way I like it.

I'm not knocking you if you like to boast..but be honest.  We should all pre tag our comments with #boastalert. In that way we're being open and transparent about our emotions..and I won't get all worried that I didn't spend enough time with them on Algebra or algorithms.

When the 11+ results came out last month, Mimi sat in the car with me while we opened her results letter. I looked at her sadly and she punched the air with a "YES!!!"  We high fived, then did our victory seat wiggle.

You see, I know what my daughter wanted.


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