Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Oh, Mother..

Yesterday morning I spent an hour driving and listening to Woman's Hour, the main subject of which was Motherhood and the difficulties many women have in adapting to becoming mothers. My subject! The main preoccupation seemed to be the fact that we are all unprepared for Motherhood, that no-one tells us what to expect, and that it is such a shock to the system. I can't speak for everyone of course, but I know that people did try to tell me how my life would change when I had a baby. (Not least my own Mother, who warned me against having a baby for so many years, that I delayed it until it was almost too late!) I just didn't want to know. And I certainly have repeated this warning to just about every woman I know who has had a baby since. The problem is that no-one wants to hear about the possible difficulties when they are pregnant! They are normally in this golden bubble of expectant parenthood and can only see a rosy future as a "Happy Family" (And I'm sure the hormones play a huge part in this, otherwise we wouldn't have a future as a race.)

Speaking personally, which is all most of us can do, I can clearly remember the shock and terror of being faced with my first baby, my Son, when he was born a month prematurely. I simply hadn't realized the enormous responsibility that would land on my shoulders (and every other part of my body) when he arrived. My Husband (now my Ex) was quite clearly terrified too, so I automatically took over emotionally, just like that. I didn't fully understand why, but I was fiercly protecting my child. It was pure instinct.

On Woman's Hour they were talking, and still are this morning, about Post Natal Depression, which I also experienced. And because this is always unexpected too, it is like a bolt from the blue - there is this lovely, and if you're lucky, perfect baby and you can't get to grips with it; you can't somehow access the golden glow you were expecting, it's somewhere out of reach and you are in a black tunnel. With the baby. Looking back, I was very lucky indeed because I didn't suffer this for very long. I went first to my local GP, who was very unsympathetic and prescribed anti-depressants. These didn't help at all. The long black tunnel was still there, but I felt slightly detached from it. Getting desperate, I went to my lovely London Doctor who immediately dealt with it - he gave me a high-dose vitamin injection in my bum, prescribed more high dose Vitamin C to take regularly, and just one week later I was feeling more like myself again. (Again, this is something I have passed on to new Mothers ever since.)

I was also breastfeeding, another potential difficulty. I learned a lot after being given really bad advice; I wanted to breastfeed, so I persevered and luckily I managed it. But this is another situation where new mothers are made to feel both stupid and inadequate. There's a huge helping of guilt attached to not being able to breastfeed - and it's largely a question of being given the right information and encouragement in a relaxed atmosphere. If only.

The next hurdle was the fact that my lovely Son just didn't want to sleep. I would put him down during the day, throw the washing in the machine, tidy up the general chaos and then put on the kettle for a cup of tea. Which is when he would wake up. Twenty minutes was his absolute maximum in the daytime, and at night it was about two hours. Of course I was an inexperienced and anxious mother (ditto his father), so we paced the floor with him over our shoulders, and counted our sleep in half hours! After a year of this, we were both zombies - exhausted and alienated from each other. I took the view (when I wasn't too tired to think) that this was a blip in our relationship and that we would get through it. Maybe there would be a couple of years of difficulty, but it would be worth it in the end. Unfortunately my Husband didn't take the same view; he resented the "loss" of our previous "lifestyle"
and life became even more difficult. He absented himself emotionally, though he was very supportive and helpful physically - he would take over Son when he came home in the evenings and I was shattered. He changed the baby, cooked, cleaned and generally looked the part on the surface, but he just wasn't there in spirit. It was the beginning of the end.

After a year, Son was sleeping, I was tired but fairly happy, and we were on the last year of our marriage. Of course I didn't know that then, and Daughter still had to make her appearance (she was born two years after Son). What would I say about Motherhood and our expectations of Family Life? In the end, Motherhood has been the best (and sometimes worst) of my life's experiences. It's where I learned to put someone else first, where I experienced completely unconditional love for the first time, where I hurt the most and where I felt the happiest. But above all, it has been the experience that has put everything else into perspective. In the end, men come and go, but children are forever.

Monday, February 25, 2008

You no likee...

Well, today's post just dropped into my lap, or rather into my comments box. I was astonished to get an anonymous comment from someone who was objecting to a post I wrote back in August last year!! It was mainly to do with my experiences with a mature Japanese "Student", and the comment reads as follows:
"i cant (sic) believe you were allowed to write an article like that"
OK, Mr or Mrs Japanese (and I know you're there in Japan, because although you didn't have the balls to own up "Anonymous", I tracked you via my Sitemeter), here is my response.
First: Thank God I'm lucky enough to live in a free country, which you obviously aren't
Second: No-one has to "allow" me to do anything. I'm allowed free speech - and so is everyone else. You're free to disagree with me, and I'll defend to the death your right to do so!
Third: I wasn't writing an Article (although I could have if I'd wanted to), a Blog is an on-line diary, and there is no censorship here. Thank God.
Fourth: I was writing about my (and my Sister's) personal experiences. You can disapprove all you want, but those things happened to me, and to my Sister. I didn't like the way the Japanese man behaved to me, it was disrespectful and unpleasant. (And I didn't list everything he did or said in that Blog post either). After that, I didn't want him in my house, and that is my prerogative. IT IS MY HOUSE AND MY LIFE.
And I will reiterate what I put in my Blog Post back in August, Thank God the Japanese didn't win the war.
Finally, if you put in as your Google search words "Cruel. Japan. Wife" you must expect to get back some relevant stuff. Once again, I'm with Bridget Jones' Mother!

Phew, got that off my chest, and if any of my blogging friends want to see what this is all about, you can look back to Tuesday 14th August 2007.

PS. I have now made a note that my Blog doesn't take Anonymous comments - this is the first Anon comment I've had, and I'd rather have a real person to reply to.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Bobbing up and down like this..

I started the day with a walk by the sea, just to get myself going. It was rather grey and overcast, and the sea was calm. Out on the horizon was a flotilla of little grey sails, maybe a Sunday yachting race. Just an ordinary day, except that there were so many runners and joggers along the sea-front it looked as though the promenade was jogging too. Everywhere I looked there were people bobbing up and down, it was most unsettling, and by the time I turned for home I felt quite sea-sick!

After my shower and breakfast, I had to get cooking because I had invited my downstairs neighbour and her friend for lunch. I made roast lamb, roast potatoes and parsnips and sweet potato, onions and carrots (also roasted) and some sugar snap peas. Plus a strawberry and blueberry meringue for dessert. And then some cheese. It was all 'dericious' and we had a very jolly time; they brought a bottle of Prosecco, which was dispatched very quickly, and we also managed a bottle of Merlot. Funnily enough, while I was cooking, Daughter phoned to ask for some help because she was cooking her first roast chicken Sunday lunch. I was astonished, because I had assumed that she would have done that before (especially since she had been living in the flat for three years!). But no. I passed on a few tips about par-boiling and roasting potatoes, and how to make stuffing (without a packet), and apparently it was a great success.

Later I half-listened to the radio commentary on the Spurs - Chelsea Carling Cup Final. It would have been terribly impolite to turn it up too loud, so I kept on bobbing up and down to keep tabs on the score. We won 2 - 1, after extra time, so it was very exciting.

Still no joy with my mobile phone, which is now too irritating for words. I have been sent a new sim card, but this hasn't cured what ails it. I think I'll chuck it in the bin and buy a new one. Oh no, another thing to add to my Shopping List...

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Jet Setters..

Well, my Aristocratic BF has flown off to Mauritius for two weeks, and my Brighton BFs have gone to Barbados for a week. Oh, to be simply lying in the warm sun and having an occasional dip into the pool, or the sea. As it is, the day is grey here and the best I can do is tootle off to The Treatment Rooms for a bit of pampering...

But I have a list of to-do's: buy a new television, buy a new car, sort out my chest of drawers (a new Ikea one is on the cards), sell the old sofa and buy a new one, get the two armchairs re-covered... can't seem to get motivated, and hate doing all these things on my own, that's a fact.

Friday, February 22, 2008

God Bless, Gazza.

I turned on the TV this evening, to see Hunter Davies chatting to Richard and Judy about Gazza and his present predicament. I missed most of the discussion, but gathered that Hunter Davies has a lot of time for him (he "ghost" wrote, or co-wrote, Gazza's Autobiography). So do Richard and Judy (they are texting-friends, apparently). So do I. I remember him as a genius young player for the Spurs - what a partnership he and Gary Lineker made! He has had a difficult life though - he came from a very ordinary background with a completely extra-ordinary talent, and was obviously unable to cope with the pressures of fame and fortune. There has been a coming together of support for him in the last couple of days, which I think is great. The Footballing Fraternity is keen to help and support him in his hour of need. Hunter Davies said that he doesn't cope well without structure and discipline, and that he is very lonely. Richard and Judy sent their love. And Judy said "God Bless". I'm there with the good wishes too.

Earlier today I freaked out again when I logged on to Facebook to see how friends and family were doing. With hindsight, it was very silly of me, but I have been on the edge with regard to Son and his lack of communication lately. There, on his page, was a picture of Kurt Cobain, whom Son idolized from an early age, and who of course, killed himself. Even as I type this, I can see how wrong it is. I very soon snapped out of it - after a sensible and reassuring conversation with Daughter, who was able to step back and take a reasonable point of view - but it's yet another reason why I have to get out more. Literally. I can't go on like this.

This morning over breakfast my Foreign Student took me back probably 50 years when we were talking about gardens. He said that he and his Father have a rather wild garden, just outside Zurich, in which they grow dandelions so that they can pick and eat the leaves in salads. He went on to say that they leave the grasses and flowers to grow tall, and then cut them down with scythes! (They dry the hay and give it to his Sister to feed her rabbit!) I was completely gobsmacked. This is apparently the norm in Switzerland, where there are rocks and stones everywhere, and very few level areas of grass. It brought a vivid memory of watching my Grandfather, whom we called Uncle Gus, moving across the Village Green with the other men in the village, cutting the grass with their scythes. It was a marvellous sight, which I can see quite clearly in my mind, but which you just wouldn't see any more. Unless, of course, you took a trip to Switzerland. I might just do that!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Money, Money, Money...

Three things impinged on my consciousness today, three things about Money, with a capital M. First, on Radio 4 this morning, news that MEPs are abusing their positions and taking money for nothing: apparently they have a (wait for it) £130,000 staffing allowance, per year, and some of them are pocketing this money and not employing anyone!! How can this be? Corruption. Next came a discussion on the fact that Supermarkets are selling strong lager at 22p a can (Tesco's), mostly to underage drinkers, and that's actually cheaper than a bottle of water (not that underage drinkers would want a bottle of water, unless it's to wash down a few Es!). The discussion was about how tricky it would be for them to put up the price to stop these young people buying cheap alcohol. Of course, they could do that, but the unspoken point was, if they did that, then the sales would simply go to another supermarket! Corruption. Finally, the announcement that British Gas profits went up by 500% this year! They made a profit of £596 million!! (Oops, only £96 million last year.) While we, the consumers, were paying hugely inflated prices for our energy, just to keep warm. Corruption. How can any of the above be justified in any caring society? Or, forgive me, am I being naive? Greed, pure greed, is what seems to motivate those in any position of power. And a complete lack of any sense of responsibility to anyone (except possibly their Shareholders). Government, Big Companies, Ex-Utilities - they're all out for the largest possible slice of the cake. It seems to me that we don't have a sick Economy, only a sick Society. There are plenty of people out there making fortunes on the back of the "dodgy" Economy. We, you and me, the people who live and die and work and pay (and, incidentally, vote), we get the crumbs and we pay through the nose for those. It makes me want to spit at the lot of them...

Actually, after that, I had a lovely day. I drove over to Dorking to see Daughter and Grandson (stopping on the way to pay £1.08 per litre for my diesel)and arrived to see Grandson riding around on his bike with two little friends. Then we went into Dorking for some lunch and a potter around the shops. My new haircut was very much admired, and I did feel better. But I look at my Daughter, and I look at Grandson, and I wonder how on earth they will survive in this greedy, grasping society. It's no wonder people get left behind, drop out, or get tripped up in the Rat Race. Who wants to be a rat, anyway?

I think I'll call it a day. Hopefully, the world will look a better place tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Looking better, Mother..

Here I am again, feeling rather proud of myself because I've managed to put two new ink cartridges into my printer - successfully. And that's good for me. I tend to put these things off because I'm sure I'll get them wrong. And if that sounds too ridiculous, I can tell you that the colour cartridge hadn't been working at all since before Christmas. Anyway, I've got it right now, and we're printing perfectly!

Strange day today, weatherwise, because at last we have had the mist that has been covering the country for the last few days. It was sunny here in my garden, two blocks back from the beach, but looking down I could see a shimmering, translucent wall hiding the sea. It was rather beautiful, because it wasn't at all solid, but you could hear the cries of the seagulls echoing off it. And the sea was quite silent. Later, though, the chill seeped through and it became very grey. The sun hung like a smoky chinese lantern in the mist. Time to go home and get cosy.

I went bravely in search of a new hairdresser this morning. I've grown tired of the local Trevor Sorbie (sorry Trevor) because they have made one mistake too many, and I have been waiting 2 months for my hair to grow out enough to put it right. I was motivated by my Brighton BF telling me yesterday that I looked awful ("drained" was the word she used), quite rightly, and so decided I had to do something about it. I was very pleased with the result (a good cut and highlights), and so was my lovely BBF who said it had surgically removed 10 years, just like that. Feeling drained and depleted, as I have been, is all very well, but in the end you need to do something about it. At my age I can't afford to droop. I'm going to see my lovely Daughter and Grandson tomorrow, and on Friday I'm booking a facial and a massage at the Treatment Rooms (the best in Town). That will be several steps in the right direction...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Just blew in from the Windy City..

My latest reader is from Wellington, New Zealand, which I am reliably informed is called the Windy City because it is always, well, windy. And I guess if you look at it on the map, you can see why. There it sits, on the very edge of a tiny dot in the ocean, facing all comers. My ex-husband, who now lives in New Zealand (Auckland) was the one who told me about this, via the children. When Daughter went on one of her visits, they took a trip to Wellington, flying down for a wedding or some such thing, I think. Anyway, my children are much more travelled than I am, but I do have a clear picture of the Windy City in my head, and I do welcome my (one) reader with open arms!

I'm beginning to actually look forward to going to France now. I've been a long time extricating myself from the sticky cobwebs of the past few years. And one of my Brighton BFs said yesterday that, actually, I haven't had a great time since I moved here. I suppose that's true, because I've been closely involved with both children and their "growing pains", and with helping them to deal with whatever has come up. Now, it seems, is a natural parting of the ways: Daughter and Grandson are happily nesting with the Boyfriend and Son is buying his flat in London, with a friend, so they will both be several steps further away. I'm not withdrawing anything in the way of love and support, but I just won't be around the corner in future. I'm sure that's both healthy and good - for all of us. I've been through a lot of anxiety and stress lately and it shows - I need to focus on my life now and move towards what I want. Why does that sound selfish to me? Because I've always focussed on them, I suppose. Time to move on...

My Student's first day at "work" was apparently most successful. I say "work", because he is actually doing work experience in a local Brighton company for which he is not being paid, but for which his father has paid handsomely. I asked him about the tea making, and he said that they had made tea for him. It became clear, though, that the other people in the office took turns to make tea, or coffee, for everyone else. This had not occurred to him. Had he washed up his cup? This, also, had not occurred to him. When I suggested to him that he should take his turn, he looked surprised. I had to explain that these people are not his servants. But I think he will make the effort in future. We went on to talk about his school in Zurich, for which his father also paid a fortune. He volunteered the information that it had cost £60,000 per year!!! I was shocked, and it showed. We talked some more about what people generally earn, and pay tax and live on here. I explained to him that that £60,000 per year could probably support two, if not three families. I don't know what the average earnings are in Britain, but I'm sure they're not £60,000per year, and speaking personally, I could make that £60,000 go a very long way. Well, my Student is only 21, with a lot to learn about the world - but I'm damn sure he isn't going to learn it while his Father puts his hand in his pocket for every little thing. Both my children went out and got part time jobs when they were just 16 and they did it not only to supplement the small allowance I gave them, but to step out into the world. I'm proud that they did that, and that they both took those steps towards independence with real enthusiasm. They are both workers, and both appreciate what their own endeavours can bring them. I always thought, rather wistfully, that I would like to have been able to give them more - but maybe it was better that I couldn't. I'm looking at Son's Christmas card to me, which is propped up by my computer, it says "Dearest Mum, thanks for everything this year and this Christmas. Roll on the South of France! All my love xxx." I think that says it all.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Just get on with it...

No Sir Terry this morning, as he is on two weeks holiday!! So inconsiderate of him when I rely on his cheeriness in the mornings. We had a frost last night, which is quite rare - though I realized how just cold it was when Gay Friend didn't turn up for his usual fix of period drama ("Lark Rise to Candleford") and some chocolate.

Anyway, I walked in the sun this morning, because I knew I would be busy later. It was so gloriously sunny and already warm at 9.30! The sea is never quite still, but this morning it was very calm and blue; the waves made their insistent "shush" as they folded themselves rhythmically onto the shingle, and there was a dancing path of jewelled sparkles beneath the sun. As I looked towards the Palace Pier, all the rides and "amusements" were silhouetted against the blue, looking like something from a space-fiction movie. And when I turned for home, the misty blue sea and sky merged into a soft watercolour wash. Very beautiful and uplifting.

I'm back indoors now, and getting ready to work. Writing this post is my first bit of displacement activity. Next it's a shower and some toast and coffee. Of course, the words I will need are already forming in my head, and will go down on paper as smoothly as cream into coffee. It's the usual routine. See you later...

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The week starts here..

What a glorious walk in the sun today - it was so warm and the sea was glittering and sparkling as if it was showing off the Crown Jewels. The World and his Wife and children and the dogs were all out walking too, so I saw a fair cross-section of people today. Everyone seemed to be smiling - even the ones with so many piercings that it must be painful to smile (or do anything involving moving mouth, nose, lips, eyebrows, tongue etc). I do have pierced ears, and there's a tale attached to that! When I was a girl ear piercing was seen (mainly by my Mother) as dead common. We only knew one person with pierced ears, and she was called "Auntie Sylvie" - of course she wasn't a relation, just the wife of a friend of my Dad's ("Uncle" Ron).
I can still remember clearly the only photo of them that we had, a small black and white taken on a box camera. They were sitting on the grass, knees bent sideways, smiling in the sun, and Auntie Sylvie's earrings were in clear view. I thought she was terribly glamorous, and compared with my Mum, she certainly was. She was very slim, smoked with a cigarette holder, spoke with a foreign accent (Italian I think) and wore rather flashy clothes. Anyway, I always wanted my ears pierced, but was discouraged for years, not just because of the "common" aspect, but because I thought it would be really painful.. After the Brain Tumour, however, I suddenly thought to myself "If I can survive a Brain operation, I can certainly manage to have my ears pierced." So I did it - I went into Cambridge one day and just did it. And, guess what, it didn't hurt, in fact I didn't feel a thing. Now I can wear lovely dangly earrings, and no-one seems to think it's common any more.

I had a little adventure on my walk today, when I called in to a delightful and very arty shop down by the sea. It's next door to my favourite beach cafe and always has some gorgeous things, including books, jewellery and framed and unframed prints. It's the perfect place to go for a present. Today I wandered in and happened upon a print I hadn't seen before (not that I'm an expert). It was a view of the City of Bristol, obviously of 1940s vintage, very vivid, and had a pretend "frame" printed as a border. I had stood looking at it for ages, when one of the shop owners came up and started talking to me about it. Apparently it is one of the "School Prints" which were produced in the 1940s as an ambitious project to bring "Art" to schools all over the country. Famous artists were enlisted, and provided original works for reproduction and distribution to Schools. It was absolutely fascinating. This man talked to me for ages and then produced a delightful book (his own and not for sale) which told the story, and listed and showed all the original prints. In the series are works by Raoul Dufy,John Nash, Michael Rothenstein, L S Lowry, Feliks Topolski, Georges Braque, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso and Henry Moore. Marvellous stuff. Sadly, they only had the one print in the shop, and none of the books for sale, but we had a lovely chat about it, and I will go back again. He said that the prints are very collectable now (the Picasso goes for around £900 if you can track one down) and quite hard to find. I asked if I might come back sometime and have another look at the book, and he promised to keep it in the shop for me. How kind! I can just imagine sitting next door in the sun with a cup of coffee and borrowing that book. Something to really look forward to.

I'm off to my bed now. Tomorrow I have to write the promised Advertisment, and deliver it to my old Advertising Friend by the evening, so I'd better be fresh as a daisy in the morning. And my horoscope says I have to concentrate on updating my image and renewing my wardrobe next week! Some new clothes and a visit to the hairdresser could be on the cards. It says "Remember, wanting to look your best isn't shallow - it's about having healthier self-esteem." I'll drink to that.

Two Drifters, off to see the World...

Feeling rather blurry and out of focus today, probably because of lack of sleep. Actually, it wasn't too bad last night - but the night before (Friday) I just tossed and turned while Grandson slumbered on beside me. He slept, like the little angel he is, from 7pm to 7.20am, so I didn't have to leap from my bed too early. And the weather yesterday was lovely. We tootled off to see the donkeys and feed them carrots. (Grandson always eats a carrot or two too.) We passed the sheep (maa, maa) and the cows (moo, moo) on the way, and after the donkeys, goats and chickens had been visited, we sat in the sunshine at the Garden Centre eating our lunch. It was a repeat of many of our lovely days out when Daughter and he lived close by, so he really enjoyed it, and then we came back and watched "Ratatouille" again, and again. In fact, it's quite a good film, so I wasn't driven mad by the repetition. Grandson ate all his supper (toast and ham again - his version of pizza!) and went cheerfully to bed, and to sleep, without a murmur of protest.

I have been given a quick piece of copy to write for a Newspaper Advertisement by my old Advertising Friend, so I sat yesterday evening mulling it over and jotting down a few thoughts. Then I downed a couple of glasses of fizzy rose after dinner and had an early night. Not the most exciting day, but very enjoyable. And a good sleep, so I'm catching up.

It's gloriously sunny again today, so I'm going off for a walk by the Sea - Daughter has just collected Grandson and they have gone off to pick up a bicycle which Hon. Grandaughter has grown out of (it's going to the Boyfriend's Daughter and Grandson has a new one). We had a panicky 15 minutes looking for a pocket computer game which Grandson had been playing with yesterday and had put down somewhere mysterious. I had spent an hour looking for it last evening, but Daughter found it by using Grandson logic - it was poppped neatly into the top of my sewing basket!

During my search last night, I remembered that Daughter needed to take the Bike Rack today so that they could collect said bicycle, so I had to fish it out from under my Student's bed. Luckily he had gone out (that's a first) so I was able to duck in and get it. But I was halted by the smell in his room (I felt like the little chef rat in "Ratatouille" when he scents something interesting). I traced this smell to his wardrobe: old packaging from biscuits and sweets, crisp packets and dead plastic water bottles etc, all tied up in Tesco plastic bags. And all these old Tesco bags were neatly tied and stacked!! What on earth can he be saving them for? Anyway, I haven't yet seen him this morning, but I have a large green rubbish sack at the ready, and will present it to him as soon as he appears. Oh the delights of having Foreign Students...

Friday, February 15, 2008

We're walking, we're walking...

OK, moving on now because I'm fed up with the previous few days. Thank you to all my lovely Blogger friends for their support and advice which has helped me to get where I am now. This morning I woke up, binned the tissues, and felt a whole lot better. I made breakfast for my Student - and told him that he is going to have to initiate conversations from now on, because that is the only way to learn. He has been relying on me to start conversations and get him talking over the past six weeks, but next week he starts his work experience and if he waits for people to talk to him there, he could wait a very long time. I tried to explain to him that the British are, on the whole, a reticent and polite nation. If you do not speak to them, they will think that you don't want to, and will politely refrain from speaking to you. If this happens, he will be stuffed, because he is here to learn English. I think he got the message. I also told him that if they ask him to make the tea, he should do that cheerfully and to the best of his abilities. He looked somewhat surprised, and asked me how to make a cup of tea! I was merely passing on the best, and only, piece of advice my Father ever gave me: "Whatever you are asked to do, do it as well as you can. No job is menial unless you consider it to be so."

This morning I showered and dressed in cheerful things, adding make-up and a bright pink pashmina to my outfit, and went with my friend opposite for a cup of good coffee at Othello. We also treated ourselves to almond croissants, which were divine. Then later Daughter phoned to say that she was on her way with Grandson (he is here with me for the weekend). We met in Town, joining up with Hon. Grandaughter and her Mum for a hot chocolate. It was so nice. I've now put Grandson to bed and am semi-watching First Wives' Club, which I love. I can watch just about anything with Bette Midler in it. And it reminds me of when my (now-ex) friend Barbara sent me a paperback copy of the book. On the cover was the picture of a woman's hand holding two golf balls and about to crack them together. Very graphic. Daughter, who was about 10 then, said "Ooh look, Mum, Barbara's sent you a book about golf!" There was, and is, no answer to that..

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Keeping up the Good Work?

Thank you to Debra in France for my new "Keep up the good Work" Award - though I don't feel I deserve it right now - I must try harder!!

Not waving but drowning...

Feeling not better but worse. Have terrible cold so am coughing and sneezing, but now also snuffling and mopping up tears because Son really didn't like what I wrote in answer (?) to his questions. He was down here this afternoon to collect a few things for when he goes skiing in a couple of weeks, but he wouldn't really talk about my letter. I tried to get him to respond, but all he would say was that what I had written was "defensive". (I suppose at least he didn't say it was dishonest, or hypocritical or stupid.) This was difficult for me because I believed that I had tried so hard to be honest and not dodge the blame where blame was due. He is always so honest, that I know he must mean that, I just don't get it. I'm not stupid, but I just don't get it. Oh hell, I can't ever seem to be anywhere but in the wrong. He said he didn't want to argue with me - if only he had at least it would have been out in the open. But he ended up by saying that he knew most of the answers to his questions anyway! Perhaps he went away feeling better after this, but I have come away feeling worse. Pretty sad isn't it that I should be so upset. Maybe I should just leave them to get on with their own lives and not try to be so involved. (But if he hadn't sent me that distressing message last Friday, I wouldn't have felt I had to reply!) Anyway, the end result is that it bloody hurts. Oh bugger.

Monday, February 11, 2008

All you Excellent Bloggers..

I have been very remiss in not passing on my Award to 10 more Bloggers of my choice. So sorry, but here is my list at last: Mutterings from the Mill, Blossom Cottage, Milla, Made in Heaven, French Village Life, Us in France, Dusty Spider, Soft in the Head, Mud Walls and Beams and Lady Thinker, all of whom have been visitors to my blog and have been very interesting to visit and read. I'm sorry I don't know how to "embed" the links, but hope you can sort them out. Thanks, and goodnight...

No-one can make my Sunshine smile...

Even Terry Wogan couldn't make me smile this morning, tears are closer to the surface I'm afraid. I've spent most of the weekend trying to keep in touch with Son and sending him messages. We still haven't spoken, but at least the messages from him are getting a little more positive. I know I'm slow sometimes in seeing the obvious, but it took me until yesterday morning to realize that his message from Friday was all questions -- and he had sent them to me! So I spent yesterday writing answers to those questions.

It wasn't easy. He was asking why he can't have healthy relationships, why can't he trust anyone, all the Big Questions in life, and I don't have all the answers, but I do feel responsible for where he is right now. I always said that I wasn't perfect, and of course I was doing it on my own, but I know I could have done everything better. Who doesn't look back and think they could have done a better job? Being proud of him and loving him is fine - that's the positive part, but I still feel those hurts he felt as a little boy - the ones I tried to soothe away. And some of those little hurts have grown into bigger ones that prowl like shadows in his life and sometimes reveal themselves, like now, and demand to be given attention. I feel as if I have been waiting for this - and he's right to want answers from me. I'll do anything I can to help him make it right. Yes, it's all part of growing up - facing our demons and shedding the past in a healthy way, but it is hard. I did it without much help - I guess most of us do - but he's a part of me that I couldn't and wouldn't want to deny. In the end, he will have to deal with these demons himself, but I'll always be as supportive as I can. I have written the best and most honest answers I could muster, and I'm just going to post them to him.

On a lighter note, I've been given another Award - by the lovely Donna - which I'm proud to add to my Blog. This did make me smile, thank you Donna...

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Oh No, not Again ..

A Mother's Place is where I am again...I had such a lovely time on my Birthday, and the day after, but was brought up with a jolt yesterday evening when I discovered that Son was really feeling low and depressed, and hadn't told me because he didn't want to spoil my Day! This, of course, made me feel even worse than I would have if I'd known. I must say that I had had my suspicions when I saw both his and the Girlfriend's Facebook comments over the previous week - I knew there was something amiss, but I didn't know what. (That's the trouble with Facebook - it's either good to know what they're up to, or it's not!) Anyway, my fears were confirmed when Daughter told me that Son and his Girlfriend had "split up". But she didn't know any more, and neither did I until I had a long and desperately worrying message from him yesterday. The trouble is, I'm so far away (well, London isn't round the corner) and I couldn't answer all his questions, or even speak to him, because he was feeling so lost and isolated that he wasn't even answering his phone. He also had written that he wasn't well either, and had a bad chest and cough etc - which was bound to make me feel even worse. Not that it's about me (as I wrote in my message to him) but I feel that my job is to try and make everything better for him. It's hopeless I know, because I can't do that either. I feel responsible, of course, and I also know very well that his Father has a lot to answer for. He (Son) has always been painfully aware of his Father's shortcomings, and when he was a little boy I could cuddle him and comfort him when he was hurt by his Father's behaviour. But of course those hurts go deep,and in recent years I think he has also been afraid that he might be growing like his Father. I always reassure him that he isn't - in fact he couldn't be less like his Father: he is sensitive (probably too sensitive), kind, very intelligent, very creative and very aware of other people's feelings. He is also very generous in every way. And I love him so much that any pain of his is torture for me. I couldn't get hold of him until this morning - and then it was only by text message. So I slept fitfully and thought of him and worried about him most of the night. That, of course, is what Mothers are for. I still haven't spoken to him - or rather he hasn't spoken to me - but I think he is feeling a little better. I still don't know the whole story, but I hope we will talk soon, and I hope that I can help. I know he has to deal with it himself, and I'm sure he will in time, but he has had some very bad patches in the past - all to do with relationships that have gone wrong - and I guess I feel that his worries about relationships with women must somehow be my fault. Who else is there to blame? Anyway, I have bought him some St. John's Wort, because that has been helpful on previous occasions, and some B Complex Vitamins to help get him back up a bit. Oh Lord, I wish I was a Fairy Godmother with a magic wand...

E is for Excellent ..

I am very proud to have been given an Award by Maggie May. Many thanks. And she also provided the information on how to get it onto my Blog - I hope. Here goes. And I have to pass it on to 10 other Bloggers, so will be doing that very soon. Thanks again, Maggie.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Many Happy Returns...

Birthday girl reporting, though not in her Birthday Suit - far too chilly today. Well, yesterday evening was just great. My London Friend and I went to a new French Restaurant a few minutes' walk from home, and had a really lovely meal. First we ordered a bottle of white wine, and then we started with Roasted Beets and Mache Salad and a Terrine Maison, which were both delicious - we shared them to get a taste of each. The little roasted beets, in their skins, were marvellously tasty, and the cheese and walnuts were perfect accompaniments. And then we both chose the French-Cut Steak with Sauteed Shallots and "Duck Fat" chips - totally yummy with Petit Pois a la Francaise. After that, I even managed a pudding - a gorgeous Creme Brulee - which I can only put down to sheer greed and being sufficiently squiffy to not be counting calories. Luckily, we didn't have far to stagger home.

This morning I had my mystery parcels to open - and I had lots of calls from Friends and from Sister (who sang "Happy Birthday to You", the squashed tomatoes and glue variety) Son sent me a text message and then phoned later, and Daughter and Grandson turned up in time to say hello, goodbye to my London Friend before she had to go.
So far, it has been a very happy Birthday indeed, and I'm going out again this evening! Phew..

I had a very interesting conversation with my Swiss Student this morning over breakfast. He was telling me that everyone in Switzerland has to take a holiday every year - it's compulsory. Apparently his Father has to take his hols in a couple of weeks - and he is not allowed to go into the office during this time. What happens is that other people take over his work while he's away, and they check to see that all his transactions are completely honest above board! In the words of my Student, "Corruption is impossible!" What a great system. I was wondering aloud how this might be implemented here, but not sure that it's do-able. I would love to think that our MPs could adopt this system - that would knock Derek Conway's little game on the head, (and any other little bits of fancy footwork by any other Members of Parliament). How marvellous to think that "Corruption is impossible".

Earlier this evening, my Student came home with a bunch of flowers for me - or should I say, a bouquet. It is the most lovely pink, orange and red concoction from The Flower Stand on the corner of Palmeira Square, with gerberas and glorious dusky pink roses arranged with green "spider" chrysanthemums and eucalyptus. Quite a magical combination and all wrapped in shiny cellophane. Lucky me. And now I'm off to another celebration - and another lovely dinner with a Brighton BF. One thing I won't be doing in the morning is getting on the scales.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Feeling more like it...

Several glasses of wine and another day further on, I'm feeling so much better. Today I went to met a Brighton BF for a cup of coffee, at least I had the coffee and she had the hot water. She is in the second week of a new regime to try and sort out her sleeping pattern. Ever since I have known her (only 6 years, though I feel as if we have been friends for ever) she has suffered from a simple inability to get a good night's sleep. I don't know how she copes, because I would be useless without sleep and plenty of it. Sometimes she only has two hours, and then has to get up and do something (anything) to try and get back to sleep again. This new regime means no caffeine or stimulants at all (so no alcohol either) and a very healthy diet. And she has to get up if she is lying awake for more than a half hour. Then she must do something like read, or watch TV for an hour before going back to bed again. And she has had to remove all clocks and watches from the bedroom so that she is not counting the hours. Heaven knows how she stays cheerful under the circumstances, but she does. And she is really positive about this treatment, so we have everything crossed that it works.

Then I went into town to try and buy something nice to wear for my Birthday, but couldn't find anything. Even in Zara. Suddenly all the shops seem to have their Spring and Summer stuff in stock, all cream linen and lacey bits. As it's still very much Winter here (and probably where you are too) I wasn't tempted by any of it. I even looked in M & S, which I have decided is so boring and dreary that I don't want to spend my money there. Speaking as someone who wore cutting-edge Biba and Bus Stop in her youth, and who had her hair cut at Vidal Sassoon, I'm not yet ready for the dreary stuff M & S seem to think is "age-appropriate". I'm seriously considering a trip to London to spend some serious money on decent Designer clothes. If only I could stay awake for a whole day..

Grandson apparently enjoyed his first "induction" morning at his new Nursery, though he didn't eat the lunch they provided. Still, it's only his first day, and he has another morning session tomorrow to help him settle in. He did actually speak to me on the phone today, and said "See you on Thursday, Nana." I'm so looking forward to it.

My other Brighton BF sent me a message on Facebook today, suggesting that we go out for a cocktail on Thursday evening. I'm all for that. Tomorrow one of my London Best Friends is coming down and we're going out to a new French restaurant for dinner. She will be staying the night, and then Daughter and Grandson will be arriving on Thursday morning, so I suppose we will go for lunch somewhere. It looks like being a very jolly (and indulgent) day. And I already have three mysterious parcels which have arrived early. I'm saving them for Thursday. How exciting.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Moving on..

Another day of shredding and shedding. I can't quite believe how much old paperwork I have been hoarding in the innocent-looking white boxes I bought from Ikea. At the time (5 years ago) I thought it was a cool plan to file everything away in these boxes, and they look pretty good stacked up in my Study. But, and it's a big but, they were simply hiding the real problem - why couldn't I get rid of all the rubbish?
Selling Son's flat has proved to be the catalyst for a huge clearout. Once I started emptying files and shredding paper, I just couldn't stop. I'm now on green poly sack number three, and nowhere near finished. I'm not just shedding paper weight am I? No, there's a lot of emotional junk being shifted along with the physical junk. I'm space-clearing I guess, to give it a Feng-Shui label. But it feels very good, whatever you call it.

The other good thing about all this paper shuffling is that I've re-discovered all my writing, which has been hidden away in the afore-mentioned boxes. It was, I suppose, convenient to tuck it all away, especially when Daughter and Grandson erupted into my life three and a half years ago. I tried manfully (or womanfully) to keep going with the book I had started, but the impact of a four-month old Grandson and a Daughter who'd been dumped by her partner (in fact he had completely disappeared one night, and didn't reappear for a year!!) was an implacable force. They had to move in with me (they had nowhere else to go) and he had left Daughter with a four thousand pound debt to go with the baby. Nice! For a while, my dining room was full of boxes and black plastic sacks, stacked four feet high. Daughter was completely shattered by the whole experience, and Grandson was a delight. The little darling ate and slept and smiled through it all. And eventually Daughter and I caught up with him. And here we are, much later, having survived and moved on. It's amazing what you can get through isn't it?

Anyway, I digress. I've re-discovered my book, and am quite determined to start writing again. Three cheers. Let's see if I can do it.

How are my family, you may wonder? Well Daughter and Grandson are settling in nicely with the Boyfriend, and Grandson starts his new Nursery School tomorrow. They are coming down for the day on Thursday, for my Birthday, which will be lovely. Son is still (I assume) getting on with buying the flat in London. I haven't heard much about it, but hope I will see him and maybe the Girlfriend at the weekend. It's strange to be semi-separated from them after so long being intimately connected. I guess I was very lucky to have them so close for so long.

So, M. French President Sarkozy has married his model. How cute! Apparently he is very short, or should I say vertically challenged. And she is probably quite tall. I'm sure he makes up for this in other ways though.

Post Script (which I should send to my Aristocratic BF, because it concerns a Mobility Scooter, which she says she can't wait to have): I read in the Guardian on-line that a poor woman had been knocked down by a hit-and-run Mobility Scooter!! She is eighty-something, and in hospital with broken bones. Apparently the driver of said scooter ran her down, saying that he didn't have time to stop, he was in a hurry! Dear God, whatever next...

Saturday, February 2, 2008

What a wonderful world...oh yeah..

I'm sitting here with the sun on my shoulder, keeping me company, and listening to James Taylor singing "You've got a Friend". It's music from an amazing blog - Donna, from Texas, commented on my Blog, so I went over to hers for a visit. If you want some good old American Apple Pie and a lovely warm feeling, I suggest you do the same. She has created a complete world, with words, pictures and music, called Made in Heaven. It really is a step into another life, and one which I'd love to visit. I'll put a new link in my list (get me!) so you can visit if you like.

James Taylor took me back thirty years to Saturday mornings in Little Venice. I had a lovely flat there, with floor-to-ceiling sash windows which opened onto wrought iron stairs. These led down to a glorious three-acre garden called the Triangle Garden. On sunny Saturday mornings I would open up the sash windows and sit on the carpet in the sunshine, drinking coffee and listening to James Taylor, The Carpenters, Carol King etc. It was a great time - sometimes lonely, but still great. Thanks for the memory, Donna.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Hell's Bells.

February already, the year is picking up pace. And today was sunny and perfect for walking by the sea. But first I had a duty - the new owner of Son's ex-flat had some mail which had arrived for both Son and Daughter, so I had to go and pick it up. I wasn't looking forward to it, because that flat has used up a lot of my energy of late, and I really didn't want to see it again. However, I gritted my teeth. It wasn't so bad, except the place is so full of stuff you can hardly move. She is obviously a hoarder and is still working her way through packing cases. There is far too much furniture, and the bathroom is her "boxroom". I gulped a cup of coffee, made some polite conversation and high-tailed it out of there as quickly as I could. Never again!

Then I whisked up into Town and returned a cashmere sweater to Primark - it had looked good on the hanger, but made me look like a stuffed pink pudding. I opted instead for some black linen trousers, and then walked down to the beach cafe. I felt like an escapee from prison. KT made me some cheese on toast and I sat and chatted in the sun until I felt more like myself. Although it was very bright and sunny, there was a freezing wind ruffling the sea and I only walked half way back. Grandson would have loved it though, because all along the beach were huge grabbers and diggers loading the stranded wood onto massive trucks. It drew quite a crowd of onlookers, most of whom were voicing their disgust. The wood had been well and truly trashed by these giant machines; all the perfect planks (which people had been warned not to take) were being turned into spoilt and split matchwood. What a scandal, and what a terrible waste. It only served to reinforce my views on Insurance Companies; they never lose and almost never pay out. How sad that all that perfectly good wood had to be destroyed for the sake of an Insurance Claim!

As I arrived back home, my Student was also arriving with his Father, who has come to Brighton for the weekend, to see how his Son is getting on. It was quite funny, because they were carbon copies of each other. The Father has longer and curlier hair than my Student, and more of a beard and moustache - and he is kind of squarer and heavier - and older of course. We shook hands and I said I hoped he would enjoy his visit. He laughed and said "My Son tells me you are a good cooker." I laughed and said, pointing, "There's the cooker, I'm the cook!" It was all very good natured, and they went off happily, with their furry feet, to the Hotel du Vin.

The end of the day was very exciting - though I think I really must be hard of hearing! My phone rang at about 6pm, and my neighbour from downstairs informed me that she had accidentally set off her burglar alarm. Until then I hadn't heard it.
I went downstairs, but couldn't offer any help because it has never gone off in the five years I've been here. I phoned my ex-neighbour, down in Bath, but she couldn't help either, because she never used it. Hopeless. I must say that it was pretty deafening for about half an hour, until my neighbour got a man in to shut it off. Oh the relief when it went quiet. I came back upstairs, poured a large glass of wine and unplugged the phone!