Posts Tagged ‘Daughter’

The last time that I had my children (Half-Term: brilliant), one of the things that I promised Youngest Son was that we would play football on Sunday. After Church, and after “I’ve bought a few things for lunch” and after “I’ve got the lunch under way.”.

In readiness for this, we went off to Argos and chose him the football of his dreams (bright orange, covered in Nike swooshes and Premiership endorsements), which came what I can only describe as “flat-packed” – or, I suppose, a better descriptor would be “uninflated”. It was the work of but forty minutes to get in the car, drive to Richmond (where my parents live), borrow their pump, get back in the car, and get back to Chiswick – so that was GREAT. By the time we had a workable (playable?) football with us, there was only going to be an hour and a half for the football itself, it seemed.

Never mind: he’s only seven and even he’s not up for a full ninety minutes.

Daughter put the brakes on: “What am I going to do?”

“What would you like to do, darling? You’re very welcome to play football too.”

“I don’t like football.”

“Well… what would you LIKE to do?”

(The likelihood of her saying “Play on my DSi” had already been addressed through a previously negotiated, adhered to and mandated “Electronics Embargo” for Sunday – so that wasn’t going to be a problem.)

“Can I bring Baby in her Push-A-Chair?” (This is Daughter’s phrase for her doll’s pushchair, which, it has been decreed, will go EVERYWHERE that we do).

“Of course you can, Darling – but we need to go now.”

With this, Daughter responded with a look of horrified urgency (as though she’d just been informed that the house was on fire and we needed to get DOWN these four flight, through that locked door, and out into the streets, carrying only what we most valued) and bolted up to her bedroom. She came bumping back down, with Baby, Push A Chair, Umbrella, Changing Bag, Changing Mat and Travel blanket. Baby had enough kit to see her through a month on a cruise liner, rather than an hour in the park. However: we were ready, and so we left the house, with Youngest Son jumping along like Zebedee with his new ball.

Daughter was not ready for the trip to go slowly. In fact, it soon became clear, that Daughter had envisioned this trip as the sort of excursion that would make Shackleton blench and think twice.


(The men all wait)

“Her blanket has come loose. She’ll get a cold.”

We pause and look on as she re-arranges the covers with a fair bit of clucking and tutting – ensuring that Baby is toasty warm and safe. Eventually, the caravan moves off again.


Another break: I turn around to see her, feigning anxiety and resignation.

“The sun is in her eyes.”

It becomes clear, relatively quickly, that Daughter does not have a plan on this one. It’s simply a statement of fact and one that she is looking to her father to solve for her.

“Could she close her eyes until she gets to the end of this road? Then the sun won’t be in them.”

“She’s not tired.” (This is said with all the dreadful finality of a hanging judge passing sentence.)

“Why don’t you turn the chair around and walk backwards until we get to the end of the road?”

She’s dubious: she has to confess that this MIGHT work, but I don’t think that she was necessarily really looking for a solution. She gives it a go.

Our progress is now slowed to the rate where we would have packed a light meal “for the journey”, had we only had the fore-warning and Youngest Son’s Zebedee bounces are getting more like Eeyore’s; but with the critical end of the road in sight, we are ready to re-manoeuvre Baby around until she’s facing the front and Daughter is pushing her once again. We’re almost at the park now.


There’s no disguising the boys’ frustration now. Indeed, Eldest Son (who likes to paint things in as emotive a way as possible) does all but fall to his knees, crying out “WHY??????????????????” at this next interruption.

I do my best to keep my voice concerned and level.

“What is it now, Darling?”

“She’s cold.”

“But her blanket’s wrapped around her.”

“This is her Summer blanket. I need her Winter blanket. Can we go back?”

We don’t go back, of course. Instead, I persuade Daughter of the health risks of Baby over-heating, and we plough on to our final destination.

The football was great, by the way. Friends of Eldest Son were all in the park and we rotated who went in goal and every single person scored (yes: including me – I’m pretty nifty when pitted against players with an average age of eight and a half) – so that was great.

And yes: Baby made it back alive.

Read Full Post »

Some years ago now, my children were all having a bath together – and having a great time.

I had just gone to get their pyjamas, when I heard an appalling scream from Daughter: “Noooooooooooo!” – so I raced back in, seeing the boys’ giggling faces and Daughter’s face scrunched up in pain.

“What’s wrong?” I demanded.

Daughter’s tear-stained face tilted up at me and she wailed in agonised tones: “They’re saying I don’t have a willy!”

Freud would have been delighted that the absence of a penis was causing this much angst, but that wasn’t my concern. And so it was that “The Billy” was born: equal, but different and used to describe what Daughter had instead of the much-missed willy.

Much more recently (this week, in fact) I was with Nephew and Niece as they both bounced on the trampoline, and (with it being a hot day), they were both wearing their swimming costumes. At least, they WERE wearing their swimming costumes, but they were very soon removed, as children seem to have an almost pathological hatred of wearing swimming costumes, and so it was that my two year-old niece announced, just to clear things up:-

“I haven’t got a willy.”

My mother and I agreed with her that she hadn’t.

“Brother has got a willy. Daddy has got a willy. I haven’t got a willy. Mummy hasn’t got a willy.”

Again, it was confirmed by the adults present that this was the case.

She considered the situation and then proclaimed:-

“I want a willy.”

She also wants another Banana Muffin, a Baby Annabelle feeding chair, a dress with dogs on and a Paddington Bear – so I think this is just one more in a litany of things she has seen and (thus) believes that she has a claim on.

She’ll soon work out that a willy is much more the sort of thing that has you, rather than vice versa: then she’ll be happy that she’s a non-owner…

Read Full Post »

Unfeasibly Attractive Girlfriend has bought me some ART. In fact, she’s bought me a sculpture. With the sole exception of my three-foot tall bust of William Shakespeare (said by some uncharitable souls to bear a striking resemblance to the comedian, Bill Bailey), I don’t have any other statue joy, so it’s doubly welcome.

It’s the work of an American (whom I hadn’t heard of), who worked with Mark Rothko and in tribute to him cast some of his paintbrushes in bronze. Whilst I don’t believe that these paintbrushes are Rothko’s, what UAG has bought me is a cast sculpture of a large jar filled with artist’s paintbrushes – a hint to follow her dictum that I need to spend more time drawing and painting (rather than trying to get her to take her bra off) – and I absolutely LOVE it. It’s cast in that white, ghostly resin that Rachel Whiteread uses and quite the most beautiful thing: ghostly, timeless but very modern.

I have also been buying art for myself – although UAG was involved again, in as much as I was with her in Madrid (where she spends half her time) when we discovered an auction. Her Spanish is pretty good, mine is virtually non-existent, but we decided to go in and see what was about, and she convinced me that I wouldn’t get so confused by the language spoken at speed that I would end up spending thousands on a pile of newspapers tied up with string. About an hour and a half later, I emerged with an eighteenth century miniature (and I mean “miniature” – it’s about three inches across) oil painting of a ruined landscape, with two women in the foreground. It’s going to look perfect in Daughter’s bedroom (once she has one), and is part of my new arsenal of Things of Unspeakable Coolness, which I have been adding to since Wife absconded with Small Man Who Looks Like Steve Buscemi, and which might well have grown beyond the bounds of any space that I could manage to display them in.

If (when I find a house) this does indeed prove to be the case, and I am unable to display the full extent of my Things of Unspeakable Coolness and Art, then I shall stage a “happening” (perhaps in the Chiswick Catholic Centre) where I burn what’s surplus to requirements, while reciting snatches of The Oresteia.

What shall NOT be making its way into the enclosure of Things of Unspeakable Coolness and Art, is the awfulness that UAG, Old Friend at Work and Newly Befriended Husband of Old Friend at Work witnessed earlier in the week. We went to a private view at the house of an ACHINGLY cool friend from work (she has turned her house over to be a gallery space for a group of three artists), and shuffled our way around the work (none of which had prices attached, which is always frightening), Champagne in hand, and then shuffled out. It was awful. The exhibition, entitled something like “Les Femmes, Elles Ont Des Vagines” was very strong on hairy beaver shots: photos from (I would guess) 1970s porno mags, were juxtaposed with women in full burqa, transferred onto glass with a sepia wash applied, and then a single word, such as “OPPRESSION!” (just to help the particularly hard of understanding) was scratched into the glass. Subtle, it was not. These art school try-outs hung alongside further beavers painted (very inexpertly) onto newspaper in poster paint, and (in a rare case of “Beaver-free art”) some pages ripped from lined notebooks, onto which anatomical cross-sections had been photocopied, and were joined by our old friend the portentous word, in an effort to elevate what might have otherwise seemed like “Testing the Photocopier” to “Art”. So, we got cross sections of eyes with “Invisible” applied over them, and a nineteenth century drawing of the four chambers of the heart with – have you guessed yet? – “Love” sidling up alongside it.

The only thing I was tempted by was a picture that I found a little way off from the main exhibit, and I was getting quite excited about Making It Mine, when UAG appeared behind me, and having listened to my enthusiastic raving about it for a couple of minutes added: “Yes… It’s a Herman Miller. They tend to go for about thirty or thirty-five grand.”

Read Full Post »

On the weekends when I don’t have my children, and if I’m not bound for Madrid (where Unfeasibly Attractive Girlfriend) is temporarily based, I prefer to be busy (busy as in “bordering on the “Up phase of a manic-depressive” “), and so I have been looking at ways of doing something that I can devote a lot of time to.

This has meant that I have devoted time to the following labour-intensive activities:-

  1. Painting a climbing Rose on the outside of the dolls’ house that I built for Daughter, according to her strict brief on type of Rose, colour of Rose, distribution of Rose across architectural features and other sundry issues.
  2. Moving rocks. Not in a Prisoner of War tribute, but as part of a plan to make my parents’ garden rather lusher, brighter and less full of (frankly) rubble than it has been to date. This involves “going to the tip” – which I love, as well as digging (which I also love).
  3. Finding new ways to get from Richmond to Stoke Newington. No mere flaneur’s hobby, this: Stoke Newington is where Best Friend, Talented Art Director and God Daughter live: so I have been improving what my fellow world-class athletes would recognise as their “best time” in completing this task. So far, I am down to 57  minutes and am prepared to share my secret with fellow cross-London travellers – just leave details below and enlightenment can be yours.
  4. Writing a novel. I know everyone does this: especially English Literature graduates. More to the point, I’ve already DONE this twice before: the first time I actually finished it, and (on re-reading it) am so disgusted by how self-aware it is (and so embarrassed by the sex in it – I even used the phrase “he pushed himself inside her, urgently”) that I have locked it in a strong box and set gryphons to guard it; the second attempt is about a third of the way through – not too bad, but not brilliant. THIS attempt, though, is simply amazing and the best book ever written (INCLUDING “How To Be Topp” – so you can imagine how brilliant it is) and I often manage to churn through twenty pages in a day, with nothing but coffee and the pretence that I am in a film (played by John Cusack) as a tired, idiosyncratic, but epoch-crowningly brilliant novelist, dedicated to his craft.
  5. Drawing. I am quite poor now (well, comparatively to how I was; not compared to rural China), so there has been more of a focus on drawings and paintings as gifts – and people genuinely DO seem to prefer them. The details of this are the same as above, except in this film I am played by Tom Hardy, and Penelope Cruz plays my girlfriend/undraped model.
  6. Making Marmalade. This is the crowning glory of “Things that make you busy, take a long time, and leave you with something to show for it at the end of the task” and I shall tell you, dear reader just what it is that positions it here in top slot:-
    1. Marmalade is delicious.
    2. Home-made Marmalade is better than shop bought – and yes, I am including Wilkins & Sons’ Tawny Marmalade in that, of course I am. What kind of fake comparison would it be if I were to leave out this king of preserves?
    3. It is simple and mindless. Cutting up the shred of the fruits is methodical but mindless and can be done whilst listening to Radio  4 or an Audiobook (“The Complete Sherlock Holmes”, obviously).
    4. There is a bubbling cauldron involved. My mother has a proper, copper preserve pan and it is beyond great to pick up something that weighs as much as my legs, apply fire to it and then see a great, bubbling lava scream away inside it.
    5. There is a weird kind of urgency to it, as Seville Oranges are only available for five weeks in a year.  Once one has subtracted weekends with children, and weekends with Unfeasibly Attractive Girlfriends, this leaves relatively little time to make Marmalade: but one can make more than one batch a day! And one can make full use of the fact that a weekend has not one, but TWO days in it.

As I am such a big-hearted, generous being, I am prepared to share the secret of my Marmalade successs (for success it was, and with a variety of fruits, flavours and additional touches that will make your head SPIN) with you – but I shall sign off with one piece of advice gratis and free of charge: “When you make Marmalade for the first time, don’t forget to stir it and let it burn. It will taste horrible and you will end up saying “Fuck!” a lot.”

That said, I am evangelical about the stress-relieving, mind-absorbing properties of this joyous task (to say nothing of the world-class product I have created) and urge you all to set January (all of it) aside as “The Month In Which I Make Marmalade”. You won’t be sorry.

Read Full Post »

If anyone is interested in knowing about a gap in the market (and, I dare say, a market in the gap) then stories of the Saints, told for children (ie: the cool bits, with only a glancing dose of holiness) is a real opportunity. This half term’s homework has been for each of our children to choose, learn the story of, write about and illustrate the life of a saint.

Eldest Son chose St.Michael (on the grounds of the expulsion of Lucifer from heaven, and the artistic possibilities of angels fighting that this afforded him) and did a fairly good job of it, relying only on Wife’s understanding of the story – which was more than adequate. His drawing looked a little like one of the fat cast members of The Simpsons dancing a tango with a lizard, but otherwise, it was a fine job.

Daughter decided that she wanted to do “her saint” (ie: her birthday falls on this saint’s fete day), with whom she shares (some of) her name) – and so it was that we found ourselves researching Saint Martha. Again, I knew the bare details, but I thought that I would double-check and see if I could add anything more interesting around the edges, so I had a quick scan of our library and happened upon “100 Saints”, and found a Guercino painting and a page of dense text about the saint’s salient details. Daughter translated the story into her own world, making it a story of unfairness, sibling rivalry and “telling”: “One day, Jesus was coming to Mary and Martha’s house. Martha was cleaning and tidying up and cooking, but Mary was NOT helping her. Martha went to Jesus and said “Jesus, I am doing all the tidying and Mary isn’t helping AT ALL…” – and so it went on…

But it was Youngest Son who proved most true to character in the choosing of his saint. He tells the story of Saint John the Baptist thus: “St John the Baptist went to the desert, and he knew that Jesus was coming, so he told all the people that they had better say that they were sorry, because God was sending his son to look after them. To make them really sorry, he made them stand in a puddle and poured water on their heads, which he said was baptising them. But then Herod came and killed him and put his head on a tray.”

This account is, of course, pretty accurate, if a little disconcerting to read, casting (as it does) John as a vaguely threatening figure, warning everyone that they’d better watch it because God’s coming and THEN they’ll be sorry;  not to mention someone who got his jollies by making people stand in puddles. Needless to say, it wasn’t until the introduction of Herod into the story that Youngest Son really perked up – and the sense of “serves him right” in the above narrative is certainly no accident if Youngest Son’s disgusted expression on hearing the life story of this most significant of saints is anything to go by.

But it was while browsing the books, the internet and so on, looking for a digestible and diverting version of these stories to use as a starting point for this homework that I was struck by the realisation that such a collection just doesn’t seem to exist – certainly on the Net, though maybe it does in printed form. Any takers?

Read Full Post »

And don’t just sit there and think to yourself: “Well… nothing.” – remember Burke’s words about the triumph of evil and then re-think your Timberlake-neutral position.

My argument – in simple terms – is that this can’t go on. Either we must have him stripped, covered in cow shit and put on a rotating wheel at which the populace can throw stuff, or we have him electrocuted.

The preening little FUCK has just ruined my breakfast (or rather, MTV has just ruined my breakfast, by broadcasting “Justin Timberlake’s All Time Top Ten” at a time when people are trying to cope with the fact that they are at work, but that they will bloody well have a coffee in the cafe before they start dealing with the day’s inanities), with his pouting, arse-wiggling, one palm on sternum, head-nodding ARSERY. I don’t know if I’m more incensed by his collaboration with Madonna, and the sight of her crepe-y tits walloping up and down as she does her “enthusiastically-still-with-it” face; or the HORRIFYING “Love Sex Magic”, wherein Timbercunt is cast as some kind of discerning connoisseur of the female form, and the anonymous female singer of the track pushes her vagina into his face and crotch, desperate to please him. However, HE has seen MUCH better vaginas than THAT! And he knows her vagina to be RUBBISH. So he pops a dog lead on her (I shit you not) and then rests his feet on her. He’s just not going to give her the time of day – but he WILL bite her lip later, lucky her (but only when she is dressed up as a prostitute). If you’ve got a daughter, this sort of thing really makes you angry. If you’ve simply got ears it’s no laughing matter, of course, but there is something about seeing sniggering frat boy fucks like Timbertwat collude in this horrible presentation of women as prostitutes and themselves as very desirable clients that makes me want to lock Daughter up in a tower so that she never sees a world that thinks that this is OK.

So, I suppose my plea is: let’s kill Justin Timberlake. Of course, he isn’t the cause of all that’s wrong – even of all that’s wrong in pop culture’s stomach-turning portrayal of women – but he is a high profile symptom. And it would be funny to see if that little squeaking sound he does when he’s a-slidin’ to the left is the same noise he would make when his feet are on fire, wouldn’t it?

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »