Posts Tagged ‘ family ’

Three years later…

We’re always saying how time flies (we being middle aged people). Digging around in this old blog has brought that into sharp focus. It’s been three years since my last post confession, though as I sit here with the fire burning low and the gentle sound of  The National playing on Spotify and a glass of merlot to hand it feels like I’ve never been away.

And yet, and yet…life has moved on; leaped on. I have a teenager in the house. My baby boy will turn nine before the year is out. I am a co-director in a proper company and am working close on full time. We have today been visited by a retirement planner and have discussed aggressive pensions and venture capital. My hair is less glossy, my tummy thinks I’m having a baby, well, twins. I have friends of my own (not my parents) who are in their 50s and 60s. I’m in a choir, I enjoy a knit and a natter, and I frequently forget that the 1980s is a foreign country not just to my children but also to co-workers. I’ve discovered Hendricks gin with slivers of cucumber and get cross with regret at all those years drinking the far inferior Gordon’s and lemon. When I go to pubs I rate them on the availability of seats and whether the music is suitably in the background, rather than how busy and noisy they are. Fuck, I’ve even started listening to The National.

I’ve also started enjoying books again. One of three I’ve currently got on the go is Andrew Marr’s A short book about drawing, which is more an instruction manual. It’s a really sweet book, particularly when set against Marr’s recent stroke and his rehabilitation, which he says drawing has helped inform and inspire. He’s not a great artist but that’s why I especially like it; it gives me heart. I like taking on new hobbies and interests and drawing is one of the newest. I’ll see how long the drawing thing lasts, vying as it is for my attention with so many other distractions. andrew-marr I don’t think life has ever been this busy, but also so interesting.

Tomorrow is fairly typical of life at the moment…I’ll be up about 645, prepare breakfast, get eldest to his 730 train, do littlest’s lunch and help him get ready before the school run, followed by a quick dash to the physio to be reduced to tears by his deep massage on my poorly plantar and told off for not keeping my foot in a bucket of ice or resting it like he’s ordered.

Then back in time to make a 10am call to a designer who’s got to try to make sense of my lengthy notes and scribbles as we create a new website together for a client. I’ll just have time to make quick calls to the plumber and tiler to book them in to finish off the bombsite that is the bathroom before dashing to a school where I’m putting together a communications strategy and a school magazine.

I’ll spend around three hours with them before dashing off to an emergency dental appointment, then back to the office to put together some of the reams of new content needed for the aforementioned website.

Collect the kids from train station and childminder, back home, chat to them while preparing tea, eat together, then try to get a bit of glossing done to advance the bathroom project. Once the kids are in bed the hubby will hopefully be back from a day in Stafford with another client, and after a quick catch up with him I’ll be back to website content writing. I’ll ring my mum and dad for a catch up, and suddenly remember I’ve yet to book a Mother’s Day meal somewhere and everywhere will be full, so everyone will end up here, without a functioning bathroom. Oh joy.

Despite appearances, I’m really not complaining about my lot, far from it. Both our household incomes depend on us making a success of our business, so being busy is necessary. Thankfully all the work we are doing at the moment is enjoyable and creative, and we are working with and for some amazing people and organisations. I love nearly everything on this busy little list but I do long sometimes for the luxury of empty days. They will no doubt come back soon enough…

So, time for bed. Here’s a lovely night-night tune…it’s from a new LP from Johnny Cash of rediscovered work from the 1980s. This is a top tune, beautiful and strong and poignant. Enjoy.


Random thoughts while watching TV

This blog will do what it says on the tin. I will merely blog tonight as I watch TV and observe my family. This is called multi-tasking, I think. Women do it all the time apparently, men less so; at least, that’s what gender stereotypes would have you believe.

I’ll set the scene for you: my eldest is sprawled on a bean bag in the middle of the lounge, lanky legs akimbo; hubby is snuggling littlest man on the settee, his injured leg up on a second bean bag (he’s just been to the physio and has an icepack on his poorly calf muscle); and I’m slumped on an armchair, son’s laptop on knee, trying not to annoy everyone with my touch typing.

The room is quiet – it’s the boys’ Simpsons time, when I normally spend half an hour pottering in the kitchen in peace, listening to the radio or humming to myself.

By rights I should not be here tonight. I have tickets to go and see Jonny – a new collaboration between Euros Childs, ex Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, and Norman Blake, of Teenage Fanclub – in Bristol with one of my oldest and most lovely friends Liz and her sister Suzy. I’ve been looking forward to it for ages. I should right now be at Liz’s house, quaffing wine and booking a cab. But my flu-hangover is still with me, and I really couldn’t face the hour-and-a-half journey down the M5, so I’m stuck here instead.

I’m fed-up, I must admit. Fed up to be missing seeing a good band but mostly fed up to miss out on seeing my chum, who always makes me feel happy. But to be honest I’m quite resigned and realise I’ve not got much to moan about really. I’ve only had flu, not a fatal illness. And while I’m lacking in energy, I’m not in pain and suffering.

Oops; I’ve now caused a minor rumpus by switching channels from Channel 4 to Emmerdale. I don’t think this will give me the excitement I am craving. The storyline concerns Jackson, left paralysed in an accident, and his relationship with boyfriend Aaron, who has a new fella on the go (but feels guilty about it). And now there’s something about a pair of sisters; one of them has a son, but he’s not really her son, he’s her sister’s son, but doesn’t know it. It’s very confusing. Pauline Quirk from Birds of a Feather is in it. That’s all I can tell you, as I’ve now lost interest.

I did notice none of the houses in Emmerdale are ever messy (unless it’s done as part of the storyline, to symbolise someone’s mental decline). The pub never seems to have any empty glasses left on tables or piled up at the bar. How on earth does it manage to employ so many bar staff when it has so few customers?

The adverts are on now. I like the Oreo one with the dunking boy and sad dog and the cheesy Werthers one that uses “I would give everything I own…” by Bread to sell sucky sweets.

The kids have disappeared to play in the kitchen with littlest boy’s Ben 10 ultimate alien car, which he has just converted to a – well, to a convertible. It was a robot thing before. Their dad is filling hot water bottles, making the boys’ beds and is about to read a story with littlest boy. He’s a fantastic dad. Sitting here typing instead of helping suggests I’m the less good parent. This is probably true.

The laptop battery gave out briefly, so I’ve been away a while, just getting back in time for University Challenge. The Sheffield team are easily the least handsome quartet I’ve seen for some time. They almost certainly put their religion down as “jedi”, quote from Lord of The Rings and enjoy a game of dungeons and dragons into the early hours.

I’ve had enough now. I have things to do, like talk to my husband, take some more flu remedy and maybe even have a bath. Exciting, eh? Well, when I promised to blog daily I never promised to blog about interesting things.

My Rock n Rolling Folks

I promised to use this blog to catalogue my attempts to mastering the art of photography. Well, this week’s photo is one of my most precious and beloved, but not one I have taken myself.

Despite the indifferent demeanour of both partners, it is a picture that gives me a lovely warm feeling every time I look at it.

The stockings-footed dancer is my mum Olwen, with my handsome dad John. They were snapped mid-twirl sometime in the 1970s, the era of Slade, brown and orange swirly wallpaper, power cuts and bin bags, and that baking hot summer when the tarmac melted.

Nobody is quite sure when and where this photo was taken, but that really doesn’t matter, for what it captures in a single frame is a headful of my memories of mum and dad jiving their way across the dancefloors of Shrewsbury and beyond.

I was born in 1968, so was just a slip of a tomboy through the 70s. I hated wearing skirts, girly dresses, dolls and looking pretty. Yuk. I was usually dressed in either a football kit (Shrewsbury Town FC, blue and yellow) or a pair of my favourite blue jeans with white piping down the side. I dreamed of scoring the winning goal in a Wembley cup final. I was also in love with Donny Osmond and fantasised that he would fall in love with me after presenting me with my winner’s medal. I think I mixed him up with Royalty.

My mum tolerated my tomboyish ways and even my lack of interest in housework, looking smart and having female friends.

But she hated that I was never interested in learning to dance. Saturday mornings, she would grab me by the arm and twirl me around and try to teach me simple jive steps. Without fail I would pull away, grumbling that I was busy watching Tiswas, and she would give up again.

Later that day she and Dad would put on their best togs – Dad in his brown flares and wide lapelled suit jacket, Mum in a swirly skirt and pretty blouse – and they would head off to the Saturday dinner-dance while some teenage slip of a thing would saunter in to babysit me and my two siblings.

It wasn’t the dinner they loved so much – it was the dancing afterwards.

Once the cheese and biscuits and pot of coffee had been consumed, along with a few drambuie and cointreau liqueurs – the same old dialogue would start up. It went something like this:

Dad: “Do you want to dance Ollie?”

Mum: “Did you have to wear that tie with that shirt, it looks terrible.”

Dad: “Ok, but do you want to dance?”

Mum: “Well, I’m not sure I want to be seen with you. You can tell you’ve been painting, it’s still in your nails.” (Dad was a builder).

Dad: “Come on, it’s Bill Haley.”

Mum: “You know I don’t like this one, it’s too fast.”

Dad (wearily): “All right, we won’t dance then.”

Seconds later, Mum (standing up): “Well, are you getting up or not?”

As I got older, I got the chance to go along on some of these Saturday nights out and see what happened next – and every time it would bring a silly lump to my throat. I don’t whether it was pride, or love at seeing them together, or perhaps an early understanding that it was important to REMEMBER THIS MOMENT…

For what happened is that Mum and Dad would transform before my eyes into this two-headed, swirling, twirling dervish, so completely and utterly in tandem.

Wow, they could jive up a storm. Mum always maintained a complete air of indifference about the whole thing – in this picture she looks positively disdainful – and pretended not to notice as the dancefloor gradually emptied and people stood around, mouths open, watching them strut their stuff.

Dad would turn and bend a knee, grab her hand and twirl her into a spin, then catch her, arm round her waist, and continue to spin with her held tight to him. It was magic.

They always got a round of applause at the end. I never once thought they were showing off – I was just bursting with happiness.

My Mum has never been one for showing her love publicly. If Dad tried to give her a cuddle in the kitchen in front of anyone she would invariably shrug him off or tell him not to be so silly – but on the dancefloor, despite her best attempts to hide her feelings, she oozed love for him.

The 1977 edition of the Guinness Book of Records holds permanent testimony to their jiving excellence. There they are, on page 223, under Jiving: “The duration record for non-stop jiving is 53 hours by John and Olwen Abbott at Tiffany’s, Shrewsbury, on 20-22 June 1976.” The record was stolen off them the following year by a Canadian who was allowed multiple female partners. The injustice of it still rankles.

Mum and Dad are still, thankfully, going strong. Dad is badly affected by crippling rheumatoid arthritis, and I think one of the things he misses more than anything is twirling Mum around that dancefloor.

They will have been married 45 years on April 3. Hopefully they will be able to get away for a nice break to a hotel which has its own dinner dance – and maybe they will be cajoled into taking another spin, for old time’s sake.

My mum and dad, John and Ollie, clear the dancefloor