Tag Archives: humour

Study leave

I was dreading T beginning his study leave last Thursday. When I sat my GCSE’s I hated study leave. I hated being responsible for my own revision, spending more time devising a timetable – all nicely colour co-coded, surprise, surprise! – than I spent on my actual revision. I lived too far out of town to meet up with friends very often and we were not supposed to go out anyway (although, of course, most students did). It was a tricky time and I envisaged much the same for T.

However, T’s school have, I think, got this sussed. They have laid on a timetable of revision sessions and have set aside study rooms for students to make use of as they will. I fully expected T to dismiss this idea out of hand, preferring to study at home, wanting to be picked up at random times of the day and the whole thing becoming a logistical nightmare.

I had been imaging him sitting up at his desk in his room, not focusing, struggling with the distractions of social media, wanting to go out, not knowing if he was achieving anything.

He has surprised me and has opted to go in for revision sessions, even on some days when he doesn’t have an exam. I’ve typed up a schedule so he knows what is available to him and when, and so we all know when he is in school and not. I am working in the office so much more now, that it would be almost impossible to know if he was actually revising if left home alone all day.

He’s had two exams so far, and has been at school for a full day each day, going to revision sessions and study rooms (these are supervised) and he has felt that each exam has gone better than he expected, so far.

It’s early days and I expect there will be days when he has had enough of it all. We’ve spoken about the importance of down time and because he’s getting a lot done at school I don’t feel I need to nag him too much when he gets home. He’s pretty good at not being stressed and he seems ok. He’s promised to tell me if he needs help (to the best of my ability, I will try!) and we will take each day as it comes.

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Be more bad-ass

I am normally the one to do the washing, most of the cooking, to notice when the carpet needs hoovering and the surfaces dusting, etc, etc,  – i.e. I do most of the household chores. I have managed over the last 12 months to get K  more involved in cooking but it’s very sporadic and that’s mainly due to work. I tend to be the one to pick the kids up so am normally home before him (working, but I am home) and so it makes sense for me to make a start (and normally finish) cooking dinner.

Sometimes I get fed up with this situation and wonder what would happen if I just didn’t.

Didn’t do any of it.

Stopped.

Completely.

I have quite a lot of underwear; I have enough clothes (although I wear the same things all the time) to keep me going.

I would probably struggle with the food side of things but I could have a bigger lunch.

I sometimes have a mini-rant and ask – usually starting with “polite request…..could you all….”  – and it is met with sorrys and promises of more help and more thoughtfulness. It doesn’t ever really last.

I know that this is very common and for aeons women have borne the responsibility of most of the household tasks. But really, does that make it right? I am not saying I am going to down tools – lets face it I am far too conformist for that. I don’t really like rocking the boat. I liked to think, as a teenager, that I could be edgy, with my BUAV t-shirts and my short hair. Still have the short hair but the t-shirts are long gone, as are most of my principles.

Sometimes, just sometimes, I would love to be a bad-ass. To not worry about whether anyone has a clean shirt for school tomorrow. To reply, when asked what is for dinner,  “you tell me!” To just say “tough” or “sorry no can do” when someone needs a lift home from somewhere or K needs help with something on the laptop. Sometimes, being the one who does it all, who doesn’t make any fuss, just quietly gets on with it, is a bit crap.

I know they appreciate me. I know I make them feel secure, happy, loved, cared for, safe: all those things that a mum should make them feel. But sometimes, just sometimes, I would like to be someone a bit less conscientious. Just for a day.

I’d probably hate it. I don’t really like bad-asses. They scare me a bit.

I am lucky enough to be going away ON MY OWN this weekend –  well overnight, in reality 30 or so hours actually way – so maybe I will recharge, miss them all and be glad to be home. To sort the washing out.

 

Hips don’t lie and FAITH.

Not sure the title is particularly relevant but its the only song I know with the word hips in it, apart from “hippy, hippy, shake” but there’s not been a lot of that going on.

The MRI showed that I have a cyst, stuck between my hip bone and my groin. It showed up on the scan like a huge tumour so I was really pleased that the consultant didn’t keep us waiting before explaining it is actually just a fluid filled sac and can be easily sorted out.

Sitting in the waiting room beforehand I had been lurching from it being osteoarthritis like Auntie B had or a tumour; to sciatica or nothing. None of these options were a particularly great prospect. Sadly, due to my profound lack of medical training, a cyst had not even entered anywhere close to my radar of thoughts so I only had extreme self-diagnoses to go on. Luckily, the consultant is incredibly knowledgeable and set me straight. I am going to have it drained tomorrow night, followed by a steroid injection to ease the inflammation. I am not looking forward to this, but I am focusing on the fantastic news that within 48 hours I should be up to going for a walk. A walk! Hurrah. I cannot begin to explain how much I have missed walking. It’s the only exercise I truly enjoy, it’s great for my head-space, and my body seems to like it too.  I can’t wait to be back pounding the pavements and fields once more.

Faith. No, I have not come over all born-again in the aftermath of the MRI results. I AM very grateful to whoever or whatever is steering my life but that’s as far as I am prepared to go on that score.

‘Faith: the Legacy’ is the name of a George Michael tribute act that I went to see last night at a local venue. The poor chap was suffering from “man-flu” (his words not mine) and his voice was clearly suffering a bit. He had a passing resemblance to the man himself but this was mainly due to his haircut and jawline more than anything else. His Brummie accent was a little off-putting but we weren’t there to listen to him talk, we were there to listen to him sing and to have a bit of a jig (hips permitting) to the old classics. We weren’t disappointed in the music, the singing was OK – fab backing singers – and all in all it was a fun night. One of the lovely ladies I was with pointed out – when we were singing along to one of the early hits – that we would have been around the age of our daughters when the song was in the charts. If my hip wasn’t making me feel old, that certainly did! It was great to remember how the songs made me feel when I was a teenager and how much joy George Michael’s music still gives me. It was a tribute, it wasn’t in any way a substitute for the real thing, but it was great fun and what more can you ask than that?

 

Darkest Hour at The Odyssey

Last night, K and I went to watch Darkest Hour at The Odyssey cinema.

I love The Odyssey. When I was a child and then a teenager, and even into my early twenties, The Odyssey was an Odeon cinema and the only cinema in the local vicinity. It was where we always went when we wanted to see a film. It wasn’t a regular event as a family (E.T., Crocodile Dundee are ones I remember seeing with M&D and P) but when I was a bit older I used to go regularly with friends. It wasn’t a brilliant cinema in today’s standards: it had 3 screens in it’s heyday, a small pick and mix shop next door and (more appreciated as I got older) a pub just a few doors away. But it was accessible; the bus was reliable and it was a good place to meet friends.

Incomprehensibly to my children, we had to wait for the local paper to be published on a Thursday to see what films would be showing during the coming week and we either had to wing it and hope that they had tickets when we showed up, or in later years, if we had kind parents with a credit card we could book over the phone. The films didn’t change all that regularly so when a new release arrived it was very exciting.  Equally, if we missed seeing something while it was showing, it was game over – wait until the video came into the local rental shop some excruciating months later. This would, without doubt, seem like torture to our youngsters now in the world they inhabit with instant entertainment at their fingertips: streaming services, downloads, multiplex cinemas with 10 plus screens, online booking, pre-booking, etc.

The Odeon shut down in 1995 when out-of-town complexes became the norm. I was sorry to see it go and there was a lot of opposition locally. But, going to the multiplex soon became the norm and now with 4 in a 15 mile radius to choose from we are not exactly short of options.

The Odeon reopened in 2014 under a new name, The Odyssey (in homage to local director Stanley Kubrick’s film A Space Odyssey) and it is beautiful. It has one screen – the original Main Screen of the old days – and has downstairs seating, with tables and chairs or sofa options, in addition to the normal, upstairs seating. You can buy a glass of wine, a gin and tonic, borrow a blanket or a cushion, the seats are generous and comfy and there is plenty of legroom. But, what makes it so special is the feeling it gives me when I walk into the auditorium: I feel 15 again and it evokes such strong memories of my childhood that it makes me very, very happy. There is no booming noise, no brighter than bright lights. There is a curtain across the screen, there is subtle, subdued lighting, art-deco finishes and the film is introduced by a real person who walks on and talks about upcoming films and the film you are about to see. They talk with passion about films and they clearly love working there. It’s fab.

We saw trailers for Darkest Hour when we went to see Murder on the Orient Express as a family late last year. K and I both said how good it looked and were astonished to find that it was Gary Oldman playing Churchill. I’m a big fan and it looked gripping, so it seemed a no-brainer to try and see it. Unfortunately, we didn’t get around to it, but I was chuffed when I saw it was being shown at The Odyssey. Just like in the old days, you have to either book in person, by phone or, a day later, online. I didn’t want to risk not getting seats so phoned on the day of general release and bagged two seats on the front row of the upstairs seating (an aisle seat for me, obviously). The front row has so much leg room, even I can stretch my legs out. Fab.

The film itself was very, very good. I deliberately hadn’t read much about it. I’m familiar with the facts of Churchill’s rise to power and knew it focused on the start of the second world war. The trailers we’d seen showed the epic “on the beaches” speech in Parliament so I knew it would have some standout moments. I knew Oldman had won the Best Actor BAFTA recently and there was no question it would be a stellar performance. He was phenomenal and so were the supporting cast. It was funny, emotional, clever and enlightening. It wasn’t epic but it was very good. I am glad I have seen it, but, in hindsight, I would have been equally happy if we had waited until it was available to stream at home. The problem with The Odyssey is that it is a little bit too comfortable: the temperature is just right, the seats are soft, you can stretch your legs. In addition to this, I had my woolly scarf keeping me nice and warm. Sadly, all of this meant that my eyes shut for a little bit too long on a couple of occasions. Only for a matter of seconds, I didn’t miss any of the film and I didn’t make any unfortunate snoring noises. But, it did make me wonder how much I was enjoying the film. I have this issue at home – I love Silent Witness and Shetland but they always seem to lull me into a sleepy state and I miss bits. It was on a par with that. Very good, but not enough to keep my eyes open the entire time.

So, full marks for The Odyssey; 8 out of 10 for the film itself. Not that I’m a critic. But the eyes don’t lie. Odyssey-42

Hips, tunnels and music

I’ve had a problem with my right hip for a while (OK, about 12 months) and after a particularly bad day a few weeks ago I finally bit the bullet and went to see the GP. I’m not a fan of going to the doctors. I always take the kids without much hesitation, erring on the side of better safe than sorry when it comes to their health. With my own, I’m less conscientious and always expect to be made to feel like I am wasting their time. I don’t know what this is based on, as I’ve never had a bad experience and have always come away feeling generally happy with the care and the outcome of a visit.

The GP examined me quite intensively (at one point making me yelp) and agreed that there was definitely something going on. She suggested it may be Trochanderic Bursitis which is (in simple terms for any other lay persons out there like me) inflammation or irritation of the padded bit around the hip joint. She had suffered with it herself at one point and it eventually cleared up on it’s own. Having witnessed the yelping she was kind enough not to send me away on the basis of her own experience and suggested that physio may be in order. I mentioned that K has private medical insurance through work and she immediately suggested an appointment with an Orthopaedic Surgeon for a more specialised opinion and if physio was needed this would also be covered by the insurance.

I love the NHS; I think it is a fantastic institution and am eternally grateful for all the times that I, and those that I love, have been the beneficiary of it’s care. However, faced with a potential wait of another 6 months to see a consultant and the inevitable wait for a scan and then another appointment was not appealing, now that I had finally got the ball rolling. I called BUPA the next day and was given an authorisation code. Within a few days I had a letter from our local private hospital with an appointment for the following week.

I saw the consultant last Friday. He agreed that I do have some symptoms of bursitis but that I also have symptoms that don’t fit with this diagnosis. He suggested an MRI would be a good starting point and, once we see what it shows up, he will decide on a course of action. Like all good consultants he didn’t speculate on other possible causes. I wouldn’t like to play poker against him (even if I knew the rules).

The MRI was duly booked in for the following Wednesday (yesterday) after much joking with the receptionist about it being Valentines Day and surely I would be being wined and dined. Oh, how we laughed. She booked me in for 7pm.

I am not a fan of enclosed spaces; I don’t like sitting close to people; I have to have an aisle seat at the cinema and theatre. An MRI? I wracked by brains to remember back to episodes of ’24 hours in A&E’  – was the MRI the tunnel one or was that the CT scanner? I was pretty sure the MRI was the tunnel one. She gave me a leaflet. It was the tunnel one. Oh hell.

Needless to say, I didn’t sleep too well on Tuesday night (massively exacerbated by the full-caff coffee which the hopeless waitress at the pub where I had dinner with my friend “kindly” gave me instead of the decaf that I’d ordered) and by teatime on Wednesday I was pretty anxious. K kindly chauffeured me and metaphorically held my hand until it was time to go in. Gowned up and procedure explained to me by the very patient technician I was ready to go. Luckily, as it was my hip/pelvis being scanned I didn’t have to go in all the way. My head poked out by a few centimetres. I had ear plugs in, ear defender headphones with music playing (I could have taken a CD) and a panic button in case I, well, panicked. The fact that I was given a panic button made me slightly more panicked than I would have been if they’d said, “you’ll be fine, we’ll be right outside”. The fact that a panic button is sometimes necessary worried me. The noise, the vibration, the length of time it took, along with the panic button gripped in my vice-like claw made the whole experience almost unbearable. The music helped a bit. I quite liked some of the songs (a weird mash-up of One Republic/Hosier/The Script/One Direction (why?) like some strange boy-band compilation) and counting how many songs had passed with an average duration of 3 minutes each was a good puzzle for my poor, tired, emotional, overwrought brain. It was over in about half an hour; but it was a long half an hour.

I am back to see the consultant next Friday to find out the results and to see what the next course of action is.

 

Review

It’s human nature to reflect back and look forward when one year ends and another starts. Ditching resolutions was one of the the best things I ever did (along with ditching the scales and ditching Facebook) but I still like to take stock and this new year was no exception. 2017 wasn’t too bad on the whole. Unlike 2016, there were no sad losses of loved ones; no broken bones; no upheaval of starting secondary school – nothing to throw off the general equilibrium of life. It was all pretty plain sailing and we made some happy memories and had some lovely times. Of course, there were rows, down times, frustrations and upsets but nothing major in the grand scheme of things. A Good Year.

As we start 2018, I am feeling almost calm and – dare I say? – positive. Last year I took up a photo challenge and this year it is being done again and I am fully on board. It ties in so well with the “no resolutions, no mad diets and no crazy exercise regimes” philosophy and I loved it last year. It’s under the hashtag #SavouringJanuary2018 on Instagram – you get a different word each day, which you interpret as you see fit and post a photo if possible. Not every day if you don’t want to but, by using the hastag, other people can follow your posts and you can see theirs. It makes me think about January in a different way and it’s a great way to start the year. It’s not a brag-fest, not showing off how wonderful your life is, just taking a simple word like “Still” and thinking about a relevance in your day and taking a picture to represent it. Simple but really effective.

That’s not the reason why I am feeling calm and positive. I don’t know why I am feeling this way, I just am. For now. The pessimist in me is muttering that it won’t last. Let’s ignore her, she’s a pain in the arse. I think that taking things easy this Christmas has helped. We normally have family here both days (as we did this year) and then also end up travelling up to the midlands a couple of times in the space of the week. This year we did that early and the rest of the time we have been at home, pottering about, not doing much. Not trying to fill every spare minute DOING SOMETHING. The kids still have another day before they go back to school; I am working from home and K is home early. It’s all still quite chilled (that word again). Mealtimes are still whenever, whatever; no-one needs to be anywhere by a certain time; there are no deadlines. The calm, positive feeling may change when school starts again on Thursday. Watch this space.

Not only am I thinking about my world at home – my real world, the only thing that really matters – but on Thursday I have a Job Review. My boss emailed me before Christmas suggesting it may be a good idea to have one as we haven’t had one for a while (more like never before), just to talk about my role and the good and the bad from both perspectives. I’m not sure how I feel about it. In Creature of Habit I talked about feeling a bit tied to my desk and wanting to make a shift in the way I work. I can’t deny that I find my job a bit tedious at times, that I wish for something to happen to shake things up. But I don’t know how to get this across, or even if I should, at a Job Review. Does a boss ever really want to hear that their employee is feeling a bit stagnant? Especially when it’s in a company of 5 people where there’s not much opportunity to diversify or try something new. I don’t know what to expect or what is expected of me. Of course, I have had plenty of Annual Reviews over the years, and have been on both sides of the table. I’ve helped K fill out his appraisal forms, to ensure he gets the tone right (and sometimes his spellings – he’s terrible at spelling. Mental maths – almost genius, but spelling, uh-ah) and I was never scared to put myself forward for more responsibility. But, this is different somehow. I will let you know how it goes.

Looking into 2018, we have things to look forward to. There are, of course, things to ponder* on: T sitting his GCSE’s; the extension; the Nan situation. There will be obstacles. There will be upsets. There may be be sad times. But if I can keep calm, stay positive, worry about the big things (and only the big things), keep laughing, then it will be OK. Here’s to a New Year.

*notice I said “ponder” and not “worry”. I’ve spent too long worrying about stuff that often didn’t happen or when it did it wasn’t such a big deal after all. Let’s try and have less of that.

Patient/ce

A has got a bad cough and cold. When she was really little she suffered from coughs A LOT. She wasn’t unwell apart from the cough, but it would keep her (and consequently us) awake all night and leave her feeling really poorly. Luckily, as she got a bit older the frequency went from every few months to a couple of times a year to almost never. My kids are rarely unwell (amazing really, as I was told so often by various ‘helpful’ people that I was harming their immune systems by bottle feeding them) so when they are it is a bit of a strange time.

I’m not a great nurse. I used to dread when they were small and there was talk in the playground of this bug or that doing the rounds. I used to brace myself. I’m not unsympathetic – I can do good hugs and wiping of brows. I can provide hot drinks and hot water bottles and chicken soup. I can do this for a day or two. It was worse when they were really small as I had that logistical nightmare of ‘the school run with a poorly child’ where the non-poorly one didn’t want to go with a neighbour and the poorly one didn’t want to be left in the car for a few seconds while the non-poorly one was whizzed into the playground. And they always seemed to be ill when something was planned. A bit like snowfall, an ill child is always, well, ill-timed. My 40th birthday is a case in point. Unusually, it was during school time – all 39 previous birthdays had always fallen during half term, but someone decided her Diamond Jubilee was more important than my birthday and half term got moved to a week later in the year of my 40th – so both kids were due to be in school. A developed one of her bad coughs the day before, so my planned indulgent day with K went a bit awry. Thanks to kind and helpful G&G we still managed breakfast out and she was well enough for a meal out in the evening, but it’s still one of those occasions that will be marked with a “Poor A was poorly that day” memory. Like when we had snow the day we’d planned to go to Ikea to get a new wardrobe and we had to wait another month to get chance to go again. I don’t hold grudges against poorly children but I really detest the white cold stuff.

I think as both the kids and I have got older I have, maybe, become a bit more patient. Whether the ‘big break’ last year has any bearing on this, I don’t know, but I think it did teach me that you can’t plan for illnesses/accidents and that you have to take each day at a time.

A is a great patient. She’s not very demanding. She’s happy to lay in bed and read and watch YouTube or, as she said yesterday, “just lay in bed and watch CBeebies because when you’re ill you feel little again”. She did have a mini-meltdown yesterday evening thinking she would never feel well ever again and her sides hurt from coughing and she was just so tired from not sleeping. Last night she slept so well that when I had my usual 4am awake time, I lay worrying, convinced that she had taken too many paracetamol.

What I worry about a lot when the kids are poorly is that K will catch it. I don’t really mind if I get it, I’m a bit of a soldier really and like to pride myself on not wallowing in it. But unlike the kids, he is NOT a good patient. He will be well enough to go to work – of course! – but the minute he gets home he will take himself off to bed and wallow. Am I being harsh? Probably a bit, but he does epitomise the cliche of the man with ‘man-flu’. He was brought up to take Lemsips and Hot Toddies when he was ill and it’s a hard habit to break. I am of the school of thought that you should take a couple of paracetamol and stays at home in the warm and ride it out. And don’t get me started on people that say they have flu when they have a head cold. If you’re not laying in bed sweating and shivering with achy limbs and a high fever that lasts for days/a week then you have a head cold.  A head cold is not flu. Consequently, K is ‘encouraged’ to get his annual flu jab as early as possible. At least that’s one thing ruled out.

A is feeling a bit better today. I can tell this because she is starting to be irritating and her eyes are starting to get their sparkle back. My dad always used to say to my brother and I that he could tell we were feeling better after a bout of being poorly when we started arguing or winding each other up. Arguing over the remote control? “Oh, I can see you’re feeling better.” My kids are no different. And this is when my patience will start to waver.

She’s just asked when am I getting her lunch, and do I have any cake in the cupboard? I reckon she could be headed back to school tomorrow……

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