Saturday, 18 August 2012

Age is not relative to the Relative

Even at the tender age of... um... 44, my parents still worry about me. I don't mind the concern, I think it's quite natural for any parent to worry about a child, no matter how old they are. What does drive me slightly up the wall are the questions from my Father. He asks me the same sorts of questions as he did when I was 17. 

Before I had a car I would have to rely on British Rail to get back to London after a weekend at their house. Sometimes, before I had even got through the front door, my Father would ask, "Now Darling, don't take this the wrong way, I don't want to get rid of you, but what time is your return train?" My usual response was, "Oh for God's sake Daddy, I've only just got here!"" in a fairly stroppy tone. The following morning, still only 12 hours into my visit, the question would most likely appear again over breakfast. "Any idea what train you're getting back?" One of my "looks" would usually stand in for a negative.  

Since acquiring a car, however, the train questions were blissfully void. Joy. What I hadn't bargained for we're a brand new set of concerns, and with new concerns came new questions. At the end of every weekend, my parents will come outside with me to the car and wave me off. Daddy will inevitably ask me the following questions before I've even started the engine:

Have you got enough petrol? 

Yes Daddy.
Do you need some money?
No thanks.
Are you sure?
YES thank you.
Checked your oil and water?
Uh huh.
When does your tax disc run out?
This is when I sometimes pretend I haven't heard so he'll walk round the car to check the windscreen.
Do you know it runs out next month?
Yes I do.
Did you remember or are you just saying that?
YES, of course I remembered, I'm not 12! (sounding very much like a 12 year old)
Have you got enough money to pay the tax?
Yes Daddy.
Kisses, hugs, quickly in reverse. 
Call us when you get back to London darling.
Will do.... Byeeeeee.

I've got quite used to it now, in fact I quite look forward to it but today I got into my car with not one question. Weird, not normal. Then I realised it might be because of an email I sent him last week, an email pre-empting every question he might possibly ask me before I fly to America tomorrow. "Traveling abroad" questions from my Father are in a different league. When my sister and I took my Mother to Morocco last year I spent 2 days writing an itinerary for him with flights, names, numbers and times of every single thing we were doing while we were there. It was much appreciated. So I thought to save him the bother I would do the same with my trip to the States.

My email began with my flight details and who was picking me up from the airport but then I added:

And before you ask...

Yes, my passport is valid until 2014
Yes, I have my new visa waiver
Yes, I have travel insurance
Yes, I have enough of all medications
Yes, I have my driving licence (both parts)
Yes, I have enough money and
Yes, I have an emergency credit card.
If I've missed anything, I will stand on one leg and sing the national anthem in your driveway. Love me x

This morning, Dad remembered something I had forgotten and demanded I go and sing in the driveway. I persuaded him that since it had taken him 5 days to come up with anything, the forfeit should be cancelled.

But yes, just to reassure you Pops:

I have a photocopy of all my prescriptions just in case my bags get lost.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Wise Words

It's not often I read something and agree with every word but a friend found this article and I wanted to share it.

Northland College (NZ) principal John Tapene has offered the following words from a judge who regularly deals with youth.

"Always we hear the cry from teenagers 'What can we do, where can we go?' ... My answer is, "Go home, mow the lawn, wash the windows, learn to cook, build a raft, get a job, visit the sick, study your lessons, and after you've finished, read a book.""Your town does not owe you recreational facilities and your parents do not owe you fun. The world does not owe you a living, you owe the world something. You owe it your time, energy and talent so that no one will be at war, in poverty or sick and lonely again.""In other words, grow up, stop being a cry baby, get out of your dream world and develop a backbone, not a wishbone. Start behaving like a responsible person. You are important and you are needed. It's too late to sit around and wait for somebody to do something someday. Someday is now and that somebody is you..."

I think quite a few adults could benefit from this too...

Wednesday, 8 August 2012


I'm not sure whether this is normal or not. I have cried on average three or four times a day, every day, for the last eleven days. I have cried more often and more passionately than at any other time of my life, including all my heart wrenching break ups! 

But don't worry, these are not sad tears, these are happy tears. Tears of pride. Tears for the amazing athletes of the Olympics. It's not just Team GB that I'm crying over, its all of the athletes from around the world - although I must admit, when a Brit is winning something and the whole nation holds their breath as one, then begin cheering as the astounding wall of noise builds up from the audience, and you get goose bumps on your arms because the energy is so electrifying... then it's all I can do but sob openly and unashamedly with flaring nostrils and trembling lip and scream encouragement at the top of my lungs. Phew! I'm absolutely exhausted from it all... and hoarse... and we've got five more days to go AND the Paralympics still to come! Don't get me started on those... That will probably be a years' full of sobbing for just one race.

Is it just me? Is anyone else watching the Olympics obsessively? Watching sports they don't even like, have never watched before with teams that are from countries they have never heard of (Burkina Faso for instance)? Well, I am. Greco wrestling at 8am? Handball at 10? I'm also listening to it at work through the Internet which is quite strange... Listening to the sailing for instance, is not the most exciting way to spend an afternoon. I listened to the shooting too, which again, was a bit odd. More like listening to a spaghetti western, all guns blazing... but we did win gold in the shooting, therefore I cried. I couldn't even see the winner but as soon as I heard him speak and noticed the crack of emotion in his voice, I was a goner! 

To be honest though, this outburst of emotion is not that unusual. I have always cried at everything, happy or sad. I cry at the news or reading the paper, for lost children and found pets. I cry at people's achievements and hardships, at the joys and pains of life. I cry when I hear friends are pregnant and when I see newborn babies. I cry at the beauty of ballet and the intenseness of the opera. I often stand in ovation at the theatre with eyes welling, clapping my hands until they smart. I watch sad films in the privacy of my flat and find my tops soaked with tears, wailing "why, why" at the terrible endings. I've read paragraphs in books that have reduced me to a babbling mess, then read them again to see why it made me cry, only to repeat the process all over again! 

You may think all those things are perfectly natural to cry about but I also think I have a slightly overactive empathy gene if that's possible. I saw a girl on the tube the other day who had obviously has some terrible news and was trying desperately to keep her composure as tears rolled down her face. I watched her and just felt myself go. Tears started pouring down my face too and I just wanted to reach out and grab her hand, but then she got off the tube and I was left puffy faced and red eyed with several passengers looking at me with undisguised astonishment. On another occasion, I was flat sharing and had returned home quite late and I admit, a little tipsy. I thought I'd watch a film and saw a DVD labelled "wedding", so I watched it. The groom, I discovered later, was a relative of my flat mate but at the time of watching, I didn't recognise anyone. An hour later my flat mate came back and found me sobbing uncontrollably. Apparently I just kept saying "it was such a beautiful wedding" over and over.  Oh dear. 

My emotions frequently get the better of me but I think during the Olympics they are on overdrive. I'm having to drink an extra litre of water a day because I'm so damn dehydrated! Crying openly and publicly used to be terribly un-British but I defy anyone to not get choked up watching our nations' successes and failures. Winners or losers, I know I'm not alone. As I've watched our medal winners stand on the podium and shed a tear or two themselves, I think I'm in very good company.

Friday, 3 August 2012


What do Robert Pattinson, Susan Boyle, Jennifer Lopez, Samantha Cameron and now, Boris Johnson have in common?

It might take you a while to work it out. It's an odd bunch I know and not normally found in the same sentence. Well, they are all victims of our tabloid journalists' annoying practice of giving perfectly normal people with perfectly normal names, ridiculous monikers. Namely R-Patz, Su-Bo, J-Lo and Sam-Cam respectively. But now they have gone too far! In the newspapers this week, our scruffy, straw-haired, eccentric, buffoon of a Mayor is being referred to as Bo Jo. For goodness sake! But I sort of get it... the press over here love to give nicknames and he is just ripe for it.

Everyone has an opinion on Boris. Many think him an incompetent and ridiculous fool, incredulous that he became the Mayor of London, even more unbelieving when he made it to a second term. Others (myself included) think Boris is a sort of caricature of himself, the large posh Tory MP... crumpled suits, guffawing speeches, hair-brain ideas who has also been responsible for some of the biggest gaffs and politically incorrect one-liners in the last few years. Boris has made a complete mess of London in many ways but he always manages to make us laugh. Laughing AT Boris is a common past-time for most of us in this country so here are a few of his more memorable faux pas...

On using a mobile phone while driving

"I don't believe that is necessarily any more dangerous than the many other risky things that people do with their free hands while driving - nose-picking, reading the paper, studying the A-Z, beating the children, and so on."

On Tony Blair

"It is just flipping unbelievable. He is a mixture of Harry Houdini and a greased piglet. He is barely human in his elusiveness. Nailing Blair is like trying to pin jelly to a wall."

On becoming Prime Minister

"My chances of being PM are about as good as the chances of finding Elvis on Mars, or my being reincarnated as an olive."

On Channel 5

"I don't see why people are so snooty about Channel 5. It has some respectable documentaries about the Second World War. It also devotes considerable airtime to investigations into lap-dancing, and other related and vital subjects."

On being sacked

"My friends, as I have discovered myself, there are no disasters, only opportunities. And, indeed, opportunities for fresh disasters."

On how to vote

"Voting Tory will cause your wife to have bigger breasts and increase your chances of owning a BMW M3."

On drugs

"I think I was once given cocaine but I sneezed so it didn't go up my nose. In fact, it may have been icing sugar."

On tennis

"I love tennis with a passion. I challenged Boris Becker to a match once and he said he was up for it but he never called back. I bet I could make him run around."

But good old Boris came into his own this week. He has been an amazing supporter and promoter of the Olympic Games and really has worked tirelessly to make it all go as smoothly as possible. He was in Victoria Park in East London, trying to encourage people to watch the Olympics on the big screen there and saying how much fun it would be for the whole family to visit and make a day of it. To prove he was game himself, he volunteered to be strung up and slide down the zip wire. But Boris being Boris, things didn't go according to plan and he got stuck. The public got their cameras out and snapped and filmed in ecstasy. It was Boris gold. He was left dangling for nearly 10 minutes shouting "Has anyone got a rope... a ladder?" I have since looked at this image about 30 times and I burst into hysterics every single time!

But then, a few hours later, more images appeared on the internet. It was genius. Poor Boris was an internet meme.