Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Our annual round robin.....

Happy Christmas to all our friends!

He had a fantastic year as far as business was concerned. The credit crunch has meant a fair amount of belt tightening at home though so there was no holiday, but he has done the usual amount of travelling for work. He continues to work in Northampton but now spends more time in the City which he quite enjoys.  He continues to supervise home groups and has various other roles at church which keep him busy. Dave really enjoyed the company of friends old and new this year and is just about getting used to his eldest son being away at uni.  He has formed a lasting attachment to his cat Archie and is looking forward to watching Scotland beat England in the Six Nations in person next year.

Still at 6th form college, off on a management training course next year. Doing more craft stuff now that I have time and have finally joined a Book Group. Doing far too much socialising but am very happy and enjoying life. Church is still a big part of what I do – catering, singing etc. Missing Jonny, but it hasn’t been as traumatic as I thought – more of a relief in some ways! Less washing, less cooking,  smaller food bills, less ironing……..

Finally packed his bags and left home! Has spent his first term at Aberdeen Uni and has survived. Works as a barista in Starbucks, leads worship in his new church, cooked a Christmas dinner for 21 of his fellow students in halls (they all lived to tell the tale!) and has found time to really enjoy studying History. He also visits Dave’s parents every other week. I wonder if their living in Aberdeen had anything to do with his uni choice!

Is 13. Enough said. He plays trumpet in two orchestras now and endures the rugby team at school. He really likes his friends and his ipod touch. Or whatever screen he can find! Doing well at school and about to make his options choices for GCSE. Absolutely loved the snow and disappeared sledding for two days with friends! Has missed Jonny loads (not) and vies for Archie’s attention with his Dad. Growing fast, size 13 feet in the Gagel tradition and 5’ 10’’ for those of you who like to keep tabs on this kind of thing.

Dorothy, Jane’s mum, is still going strong and spent the summer in California with her sister. She was 85 this year and is as independent as ever

Dave and I will be celebrating 25 years of marriage next year.  We hope to see some of you when we get round to partying!

In the meantime, as always, have a very Happy and Peaceful Christmas and let’s hope the New Year isn’t as bad as everyone is predicting!

Friday, 10 December 2010

A Tale of Three Protests

The Student
Cool placard, sprayed with a Banksy style Dave ‘n’ Nick entitled “liars”. Fun day up in London, day out of college.  Excitement rising, so many of us – stuff the establishment –education is our right – fight fight fight! Barricades down, police lines broken – so this is why the ‘rents go on about the 80’s. Lost my Jack Wills gloves. Lost my girl in the crowd. Kettled for hours. Weird people around – students? Fires. Really cold tho. What the hell is going on? I really want to get out of here. Tube station closed. Walked for miles. Freezing on train. Thank goodness for home…..
The Royal
Early evening. A palace somewhere in London. The tinkle of ice cubes in a very stiff G & T can be heard above the hum of the wardrobe mechanism. “I’ll lay out outfit 27 ma’am”. “Fine. Remind me – which one is that?” “The teal green satin ma’am”. “Do you know, I’m quite looking forward to tonight. I know Charles hates all that lowbrow stuff but I quite like Michael MacIntyre and Take That. Not sure about the rapper though, absolutely no idea what they’re going on about”. Peals of rather horsey laughter. Some time later, in the royal car gliding through Picadilly on the way to the theatre. “Not looking forward to this at all – all those b***y celebrity types stealing one’s limelight. They all blame me for Diana y’know”. The rustle of The Racing Post is heard. “Shush, Charles, I’m sorting through the runners for the 3.30 at Chepstow tomorrow.” Lots of crackling on the protection officer’s radio.  “Is there a problem Stevens?” “No sir, just sorting out the route through the protesters.”
Crash. Splat. “Charles!”
The Book Club
I’d quite forgotten how glorious English pubs are. I went to one last night. One minute you’re in the dark and the cold; the door opens and you’re greeted by an enveloping rush of warmth, laughter and the smell of something good cooking. Chewing the cud with the book club for three hours, we decided that we would be out protesting against uni fee increases if we were young. We are part of the hard pressed middle. Not rich enough to pay our children’s way through uni; not poor enough to qualify for loans. Just hard working and aspirational enough to want our children to have the sort of opportunities we got for free. Perhaps we should close some of the poorer performing uni’s and make the ones that are left, free.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Tis The Season To Be Sniffy

This week found the whole family in bed with a cold. And someone was at fault. Someone was guilty. Someone had to be blamed. We were all suffering too much. The clear and outright winner for most unpopular family member was My Husband. He’d gone on a business trip to The Land of His Fathers (flat, lots of dykes and inhabited by people with a penchant for shmoking odd grasses) and foolishly breathed in and out on the plane. 
When My Husband is ill he does not get Man Flu. He simply carries on as if a trifling little rodent is nibbling at his ankle. Shakes it off and strides out into the world to show all those other cissies sheltering under their duvets what it means to be a real man with a cold.
Until this week when, falling like a giant redwood in a forest in the other Land of His Fathers (two oceans, curious antipathy to tea and run by politicians with a penchant for invading countries they do not own), he crept upstairs whispering “I’m not feeling so good...”
My Mother, who was staying, went home.  I took Vitamin C, First Defence and prayed. Younger Son, assured of his own invincibility, continued playing on his Ipod. I stocked up with tissues, proprietary cold and flu remedies and prayed some more.
By Wednesday we were all in bed. The desire within me to apportion blame was strong, rather like The Force in Star Wars. In an attempt to keep quiet, I read the whole of The Deathly Hallows in one day. I did embroidery. I wondered how greasy any one person’s hair can really get. I went quietly mad with the effort of Being Reasonable.
My Mother is made of sterner stuff. As My Husband came off the phone after speaking to her, I croaked “How is she?”  “Oh she was just ringing to ask how I was. Made sure she let me know it was my fault she caught the cold, though” he replied grumpily.
Well said Mother.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Forces of Nature

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a woman coming out of IKEA will be unable to remember why she has bought twelve spice jars, two packs of different sized napkins, three candles and a set of glasses when all she went in for was a bookcase. And she will have absolutely no idea why her bill is always a multiple of £60 whatever she buys.
I went to IKEA this weekend. With My Mother. My Mother is a force of nature.  She is just back from a months stay with her sister in California,  that reduced her to tears of boredom. ( My aunt lives in a trailer park). Over lunch she announced that she needed a “proper” holiday.  She hopes to travel the Silk Route from Tashkent, through Uzbekistan and various other ‘stans to the Chinese border. My Mother is 85.
My Mother is also a great talker and sometimes the best plan of attack with her is to go out on a trip. Which is why I thought IKEA on a busy Saturday afternoon seemed like a good idea.  Interestingly, she needed nothing, but still came out with a pack of napkins, a tray and a bag of mini Dime bars.  
The force of nature had met its match…

Friday, 12 November 2010

Death Where Is Thy Sting

Firmly ensconced in the bottom of the bumble bee of life, if my morning is anything to go by.
 I don’t know what you think about when you wake up, but this morning, as I came to, I was thinking about a curiously disembodied heart. It took a couple of minutes for me to realise that this was Dissection Day and that I had completely failed to provide Younger Son with the requisite organ to take to school. That he’s reminded me only the night before didn’t dissipate the Mummy Guilt  and I headed down to breakfast in a less than sunny mood. No shimmering Jeeves to cheer me up so I sat down to Weetabix with The Lodger.  We watched breakfast news where we learnt that people now get their funerals photographed and videoed in much the same way as weddings and christenings.  Can’t shout at the TV when The Lodger is around so made mild comments and found that even a 23 year old thought it was a bit off to take snaps of weeping mourners.
Arrived at the most expensive butchers in town (it was open) with Younger Son, to be greeted with    “ Morning madam – pizza?” This has to rank as the oddest thing a butcher has ever said to me. He had obviously had loads of distressed parents in. “They’re frozen” he continued “is that ok?” I nodded and he vanished, coming back with a very hard heart indeed.  Back in the car, Younger Son said that he had to take the heart to the Prep Room where there were ladies who would deal with it. Some poor technician is facing a morning of dealing with 33 hearts (yes this is a state school) in various states of defrostation.
Facing a silence in the car I ventured to Younger Son that he had a very cold heart.  Suprisingly he laughed. We carried on chatting and I mentioned the old story of the woman who killed her husband with a frozen leg of lamb and then served it to the detectives investigating the case. “Have you ever thought of doing that Mum?”  he asked.
“Of course not darling……..”