Tuesday, November 30, 2004


The last day of November. The last day for the first stage hard pruning of Nanna’s buddleia. A beautiful day that would snow were the cloud thicker. Set to with the secateurs and cut back around 7 or 8 foot of browned ex butterfly bliss, leaving around 2 foot or so of thicker stems to saw back in March.

Have done it, Nanna. Thumbs up. Sudden sad stab of thought that the parent bush will now have been dug up and mawl mangled. Daresay there are foundations of new houses already across what was Nanna and Grandad’s allotment. Miss them though I do, with regular, sudden, surprising midday tears and a sort-of gape in the belly, I am glad they have not seen this. Glad it was just the buddleia that caught it.

My copy of Nanna's favourite rose, Josephine Bruce, has its last two flowers of the year; one
for Nanna, one for Grandad.

Brushed by frost. Gently regal.

Turning around, saw the watcher was being watched.

There’s a warm radiator below that windowsill. You can see Major Tommy’s contempt for damnably foolish humans who stay out in the cold.

Mercury Retrograde from today til the 20th. A lot of fluster and nonsense about how it snarls up the system. I’ve found that working with it – using the ‘re’ to rethink, rework, reconsider – pick your re’s to suit – makes Me retrogrades some of my most productive thinking and working times.

That said … it’s the play tonight. The fabulous Mr Mercury rules, among other things, communication, commerce, kids and schools. Tonight I’m directing 35 Brownies in a play that’s part of a Christmas Fair – to sell stuff for children’s charities. In a school.

Wonder what Neptune’s up to. Must go and peek.


Joined an online DVD hire club thing a few weeks back. Spent far too many hours building up a list of would-like-to-rents.

You know how it works; when they receive your watched discs back, whatever they have in stock that nearest the top of your rental list gets sent back to you.

Sometimes there is a rightness of time and content; this weekend Around The World In 80 Days and Men In Black 2 sat, nudged up beside the box. Saturday Jackie Chan and alien joy for the Molster and Ziggy.

Sometimes, however, your sends spark responses from such different parts of the brain that it all clangs and jangles around in there.

Clueless and Unforgiven.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

junior entomology

Ziggy, on being asked why he was wobble-walking across the laminate on hands and feet, with his bum stuck high in the air:

I'm not Zig, I'm an arse-faced bug.

Friday, November 26, 2004

piff paff poff

Nicked Ziggy from school yesterday afternoon to have a look at Kidz Up North. Why the zed I’m not sure. Are only the Up North kids Kidz? Is it Kids Darn Sarf? Dunno. Anyway.

We nicked him because it’s very nearly time to admit he’s too big for the lovely, light and bouncy three-wheel buggy (close to collapse) and drag out the heavy, spine-shuddering Pixi chair for every journey. The chair we fought for and had to pay towards, as we live all of about 15 miles away from a wheelchair service that talks nicely to the distributors, and that is wonderful in smooth, urban environments I don’t particularly spend much time in. Great for Manchester Museum, pants for Ramsbottom.

The chair he climbed into to look around Kidz Up North, an annual exhibition of equipment for children with disabilities.

We found a perfect three-wheeler. With a ticklishly well-designed insert that has beanbag beads and inflates to mould around the sitter (how top is that? A snip at £199), it’ll come to around £750. Fingers crossed that when Zig’s vouchers run out next summer, the wheelchair service will recognise that having an all-terrain fantastic-mobile is essential for full, fun and functioning family life.

Of course they will.

Oh yes.

Had time after for the Bolton Toy Saurus. Somehow just managed to wheedle his splints into the trolley seat’s leg holes (not for much longer, then it’ll be fun). It was about half-past-two, so there wasn’t time enough to get him back to school, but it did sort-of occur to me that Toy Saurus wasn’t the legitimate reason for taking him out of school, and moreover that he was wearing a jumper with his school name embroidered on the front >nonchalant whistle<.

Still, we had Important Business. Zig wants to give Molster a magic kit for chrimbo, which is a top idea and all his own. We sadly had to pass the box of revolting magic tricks, complete with fake poo, as Mol is easily discouraged and poo just might be a tad advanced. Settled instead for standard Marvin beginners' box with plastic cups and sponge rabbits. The important thing was that it was large enough to secrete a Wolverine action figure from the little chap in the trolley seat. He does like his Wolverine.

And the joys of making a virtually indestructible man-made steel alloy which does not occur in nature and whose exact chemical composition is a United States government classified secret claws from fun foam.

[Insert standard entry of headbanging frustration about the holdup in the checkout queue at Toy Saurus. If you haven't written one as yet, give it a couple of weeks. You will, I say, you will.]

Picked up a proud daughter later. Her class is going swimming every afternoon for a month. Nearly three weeks in she was bouncing to say she’s made it to 25m, And I Need £1.20 For A Badge Mum Mum Please Mum.

I’m so very proud of her. Not for the 25m, but of course for that, but not just that. But for the fact that although being aware that most in her class have had swimming lessons from being tiny and whiz and whoosh and dive and (in one case) butterfly, my own 8 year old sweetpea doesn’t seem to give a jot that lessons were waylayed due to baby bro popping out early with much prolonged hoohah. She is just enormously chuffed that here and now she’s reached her 25m.

Magic. Can't get that in a box from Toy Saurus.

Can you?

Wednesday, November 24, 2004


So, perhaps not tinsel then.

Balloons, yes. Tinsel, on reflection, no.

Dress rehearsal last night. The Ugly Sisters rapped about how much they liked Cinders. Sharon Osbourne was late. The cow did indeed have six legs and two pink rubber glove udders. Jack had his Heinz. The Giant was tiddly, with big presence and a strong voice. The goose’s egg was still drying on top of my cooker, but the pink balloon stand-in was magnificent. Dames Aloud looked splendid; their jokes properly terrible, if a bit quiet. Puss was in socks. Aladdin had her magical kettle. Snow White brought along the many non-dwarves, forgetting their buckets, which is right for next year.

Noddy Holder was edited and loud, and the tinsel got bloody everywhere. All over the library, along the corridor, across the stairs and around the hall. Tinsel carnage. As though tinsel had been pitted against tinsel, red against green, blue against silver with gold tips. To the death, shredded down to their strings.

Balloons, then. I’m not saying balloons will be problem-free. With around 35 Brownies there will be at least a couple of explosions from the wings, but a damn sight less clearing up afterwards. Say this about Brownies, when there’s clearing up to be done, they Do Their Best To Love Their God And To Be Kind and Helpful. It’s in their contract.

When I’m loaded, stinking and filthy (oh, how the euphemisms show the problems the British have with the wealthy) and in need of staff, I won’t bother with a cleaning lady [sic]; I’ll keep a pack of Brownies and feed them on chocolate fingers and blackcurrant squash. That should work. The monthly prit stick and paper shapes bill might be hefty, though.

I like a little company while I work

Friday, November 19, 2004

john peel and benjamin britten fisticuffs in a bath of baked beans

First snow last night. Mr Radio says all sorts of roads were closed. Piffle, I said, there’s no snow down below. It’s all further up, on the lumpy bits, turning Holcombe Hill into a 99, with Peel Tower for a flake. Take that, you thrusting Victorian thingummy.

Talking of Mr Peel, Robert, not Ken John Peel or much-mourned John Peel (whose funeral service last week was, incidentally, just next door to where we held Nanna and Grandad’s, in the slightly bigger, slightly posher Cathedral. Have yet to talk to mum about it - am betting on a drawn-out story about how Gladie was hampered in getting to Shoefayre because of the size of Elton’s wreath), by now Molster and Zig should have shaken hands with Robbie The
, Bury F.C’s mascot. Inevitably. Who’s moved out from behind the desk into community policing for the day to shake hands with as many kids and Asda shoppers as possible. Children In Need and all that. As we are the northernmost-tip of the borough, he was due to shake up our kids early, around assembly time.

Husband near York doing ‘Team’ stuff at some acting college that can’t spell its name properly. (All actors are illiterates, did you not know that? Oh yes, hell it was at Bretton Hall, all those years ago; we, the studious, bookish English students patiently suggesting to every future Macbeth, Heda Gabler and Tommy Steele on the Drama B.A that as the sign said ‘Push’ it might be an idea to gently apply their weight to the door.)

York not so very far really; M62 and Sally-car willing, might even get to see him this side of The Simpsons. You’d think that, working where he does, there would be some kind of contractual obligation – a chirpy bewigged Irish half-Nelson – to get up to Children In Need-type antics. Really, I think BBC staff probably do less of the Baked-Beans In Bath, Man In Mascot Suit Scaring As Many Kids As Possible In One Day sponsored stuff than we normals.

Me? I’ve donated all of £2 so far. Kids have taken a quid apiece in for Children In Need, for the pleasure of stuffing their hair full of goo and colours. The kitchen’s still a toxic no-go area. Reckon that lump of ice outside the window, dripping in the sun, hasn’t fallen from the roof at all but is the last of our nearest iceberg, puddle-zapped by the combined aerosols of Mad Hair Day in Ramsbottom. If there’s no longer an Aldeborough, we apologise to the Suffolk coast.