Thursday 29 April 2010

An Education

I always learn a myriad of useful things from my fellow croppers and last night was no exception.

I now know that ...

 * An oche is the line you stand behind when throwing a dart ( thanks J and for suggesting the   perfect photo for my layout )

*  Avon do 'dial up' mascara ( now ordered - thanks S , always good to crop and shop  )

*  Key hole surgery leaves tiny tiny scars ( thanks W for show and tell)

*  Gordon Brown pales into insignificance for media gaffes compared to George Bush ( thanks for reminding me MA)

* You can go to Devon for a weekend and learn how to make a corset ( thanks G , does your talent have no end ? )

* You can't sit next to other S and get a layout done ( but thankfully no singing last night so we must be grateful for small mercies )

*  and finally that I really mustn't leave it so long until I meet up with you all again - you know who you are , no need for names !

Thanks ladies for yet another lovely evening xxx

Doing a 'Gordon'

Have just watched the infamous clips on You Tube - what a gift to the media - they must have thought all their birthdays and Christmasses had come at once. And now we have a new phrase in our vernacular vocabulary "Doing a Gordon " . How wonderful.

Has anyone been able to watch it without groaning and guffawing simultaneously ? You almost had to feel sorry for him ... but I'll reserve my pity for those who've suffered at the hand of his government.

Saturday 24 April 2010

What are you reading ?

 Much like my life, my bedside table is awash with good intentions. At any one time there is usually a selection of books I intend to read - too may good reads, too few hours - usual story.

At the moment, I have the usual self-help manuals, a cookery book or two juxtaposed ironically between something about not letting food rule your life, a piece of fictional nonsense, something to get the creative juices flowing, some sort of parental advice and one of the boy's bedtime storybooks.

So here's my current reading list :

From the top of the pile ....

1. This months' Creative Keepsakes , half read for when I need pictures in my life , not words.
2. David Nicholls' One Day - it's growing on me - found it quite puerile to begin with but then        realised it was my era - the Thatcherite 80's , so nostalgic if nothing else.
2. Quantitative Methods for Finance - a little light bedtime reading - tutoring a 1st year University student at the moment so just need to refresh my memory on simultaneous and quadratic equations - loving it , honestly.
3. The End of Overeating - a worrying diatribe on how we live in an obesogenic environment - so true .
4. Kate Atkinson's Behind the Scenes at the Mueum - sadly stalled but I was enjoying it.
5. Allan Ahlberg's The Incredible Cat - Max's curent bedtime read - anything about cats gets our vote.
6. Patrick Holford's 10 Secrets of 100% Healthy People - would like to think of myself as one of those happy people right now.
7. Sophie Hannah - love her style. Never been a crime fan before I read her. You should try her poetry.
8. Eat Me - luscious cupcakes - a real fantasy read
9. Maths for Mums and Dads - a clever little tome - wished I'd thought of writing this
10. Thinking and Speaking in Secondary Schools - co-written by Meriel Davenport - Head of Learning Development at the boys' school - an inspiration. 

Well there we have it , a heady mix of self improvement, fantasy and education. My life in a nutshell.

Wednesday 21 April 2010

Futureproof your memories

Brabantia, the makers of those iconic bins,  tell me that I have to futureproof my life or something by buying their goods, or so their ads urge.

I bought one of their flip top bins about 10 years ago and it still graces the corner of our kitchen today although much the worse for wear. I nearly bought a new replacement the other day but was pulled up in my tracks at the prospect of parting with a three figure sum of money and thought fondly of my battered relic back at home, my bin that is , not my husband.

Over the last decade , our lovely old bin has been bashed and bruised by an assortment of boys paraphernalia ... footballs, basketballs, skateboards, unicycles, ripsticks, frisbees, tennis racquets, pinata battering rams, chunky tyred remote control vehicles, light sabres ... the usual boyhood array of projectiles. The bin was a good target ... large enough to be unmissable,  nice and shiny, made a satisfying ping when struck and dented beautifully. The scars are visible for all to see today , a tableau of family life in one piece of factory moulded stainless steel.

So I've futureproofed my memories by keeping the old one and looking on it's slightly tattered appearance rather fondly as a testament to the boys' youth. Sorry Brabantia , won't be splashing out on a new one for at least another decade.

Monday 12 April 2010

Every Now and Then ...

... something happens that pulls me up in my tracks and makes my heart break.

I've been blogging lately about happy kinds of things - shopping, chocolate, the usual lightweight sort of things that occupy my time these days. Sorry to bring down the mood but every now and then something needs writing about something that needs to be done.

I was shopping today with the boys and we found ourselves in this rather seedy shop where the uniform of the sales staff can only be described as derelict grunge and there's more chewing gum than flooring beneath your feet. So there we are queueing to pay for a Skateboarding game ( in favour of killer zombies I'm happy to report) .

In front of us was someone also waiting to pay but he was swaying from side to side and was clearly very drunk . Not abusive, or loud or hideous as some drunks can be but just quietly off his head with alcohol. The kind of drunk I'd imagine you'd be if your daily liquid diet was meths. He was dressed in some rather stained decrepit clothing, a black hat pulled down over world weary eyes. I couldn't help but wonder what had happened to him in his life that had made him take this turn for the worse. Broken home, divorce, inability to cope with stress - the usual cliches ? Or had life just dealt him a cruel blow and given him the inherited addiction gene . And here he was in his forties , maybe younger, swaying gently from side to side, reeking of the demon drink, incapable of speech, oblivious to the stares of those around him.

What surprised me most was the reaction of our fellow shoppers. A thinly disguised mixture of irritation and disgust. I felt overwhelmed by a physical wave of pity for the tragedy that was his life. Now maybe I've got this all wrong , I hope so. Maybe he'd had a few too many beers and had just popped out for a quick fix in the video shop to while away the afternoon but I think not.

This was a tragic life, a helpless soul who'd found themselves taking the wrong turn somewhere along the line and had fallen by the wayside. It's normally the pictures of starving children, maltreated infants or forgotten pensioners that reduce me to tears but this sight made me want to weep. I couldn't help but wonder how it had all gone so terribly wrong. A life wasted. And how can we help ? Not by turning the other way surely ?

So, next time a canvasser comes knocking at my door asking how I'm going to vote , I'm going to ask them what they plan to do to help the countless other wasted lives that we see on every street in every town, some homeless, some drunk , some stoned but all lost.

God save us from another moronic government intent on the politics of the 'market', wealth creation and GNP whilst the human cost of lives spirals out of control.

Monday 5 April 2010

What a Night !

Seems rather like a dream now - the morning after the night before !

The whole evening was phenomenal , I still can't quite believe it's true.
David kindly chauffeured me to the stage door - what a laugh ! We arrived at 3pm , took some photos of me posing outside The Royal Albert Hall then waved goodbye and went to meet up with my fellow Rock Choir friends. As we assembled at the Albert Memorial opposite the hall,  the sun appeared uncharacteristically from behind the storm clouds and beamed down on us as we lined up in height order and were put into our on stage positions, giggling like excited schoolgirls.

Filing through the stage door was an experience in itself , as was posing in the dressing room by the light studded make-up mirrors. Time for a quick run through and sound check on stage.

We sat and watched the Soldiers from our seated positions in the choristers seating at the back of the stage surrounded by plush red velvet and ornate gilded scrollwork. Then it was our turn and a quick run through our repertoire before heading back to the artist's bar for a quick energy snack before changing into our Rock Choir uniform and a quick glitter spray in the hair. All glammed up and raring to go we filed up the staircase and into our positions on stage for a night to remember.

Seeing David and the boys arrive was the high point for me and watching them spot me through their binoculars was so sweet although it was so difficult to resist the urge to wave - strict Rock Choir orders - no waving from the stage - we're professionals now !

And then finally , the announcement we were waiting for ... "Please welcome on stage .... ROCK CHOIR !!! "

It's so difficult to explain how it felt to be singing and dancing on the stage of The Royal Albert Hall - suffice to say, it went in a flash and was possibly the best fun I've had in a long time. I couldn't help beaming form ear to ear.

Time for The Soldiers on stage  - they were lovely lads ... made me want to rush out to Afghanistan and knit them all socks or something useful ! Must admit , it was very emotional singing the backing vocals en masse to their Coming Home single, not a dry eye in the house.

So , there we have it , the most extraordinarily wonderful evening amongst friends, singing happy songs for a good cause, watched by my lovely boys ... does it get any better than that ?
Well yes , as it happens , home to a waiting bottle of chilled champagne and a chance to recount and re-live every delicious moment , then up to bed and the best night's sleep I've had in a long time with the words of " Coming Home" resounding in my dreams.

And guess what ... I get to do it all over again on Wednesday at the Birmingham Symphony Hall ... oh this show biz life is SO exhausting !

Sunday 4 April 2010

Tonight's the Night

At about 7.30 this evening, I will be stepping out onto the stage here ...

... at The Royal Albert Hall in London with my fellow Rock Choir members to sing our very first BIG concert in public. Rock Choir have been asked to accompany The Soldiers on tour. I almost can't believe it , so much so , that I couldn't get to sleep last night.

We'll be singing a 5 song repertoire comprising - Valerie, Walking on Broken Glass, Dancing in the Street, Can't Hurry Love and Something Inside So Strong. And as if that isn't enough , we'll then be joining The Soldiers at the end of their set to sing backing vocals for their single Coming Home.

The boys will be there in the audience to watch and listen and hopefully applaud a bit at the end. We'll then be back on stage to sing with The Soldiers on Do I Make You Proud - hope I do make my boys sort of proud. A nice thing to put on my CV and to look back one day and say - yes I sang at The Royal Albert Hall . Can't believe it really . Off to straighten my hair , put on a bit of slap and tune up my vocal chords . More pictures tomorrow .