Wednesday 23 November 2016

What a difference a day makes...

Tasks completed on Day 1 of child home sick from school (with a temperature but not ill enough to spend the entire day in bed)

Child spends an extra 2 hours in bed reading instructive literature (OK, back copies of Top Gear magazine, but beggars can't be choosers)
English homework completed
4 sessions of Mathletics completed
Intelligent conversation over lunch
Short session on National Geographic kids website games section
TV switched at 4.00pm due to pompous statement that it shouldn't go on until the same time school would have finished
Mother's Tasks: Laundry, cooking (delicious nutritious home-made Moroccan lamb stew), overseeing entertainment of child.  Writing: grand total of approx 20 minutes.

Tasks completed on Day 2 of same child home sick from school

Child spends an extra 30 minutes in bed complaining about boredom
1 section of 3 of next week's English homework completed
1/2 session of Mathletics completed
Loooooong session on National Geographic kids games section
TV goes on at 11.00am, (Don't judge me: 3 back episodes of Planet Earth 2 watched - I call that a win, under the circumstances)
Conversation over lunch about... I can't remember.  Not sure it was intelligent.
Tantrum over uncharged iPod Touch
Mother's Tasks: Tactical 'forgetting' to recharge iPod Touch, wrangling with child over completion of further homework, complete failure to unload laundry from the machine, and dinner likely to consist of any old veg I can find to serve with chicken stir fry.  Writing: are you kidding?

Tasks likely to be completed if there is a Day 3 of having same child home sick from school

None - because it's not going to happen.

(Better not...)

Monday 21 November 2016

Most embarrassing motherhood-related experiences #573

Went to town on Friday - literally.  When I say 'to town' I do, of course, mean that it should be pronounced in true Celia Johnson styley - 'to Tyne' - and am referring to London.  Husband and I were due to attend a swanky dinner, so I thought I would treat myself to a haircut first.

Luckily - LUCKILY - the lady cutting my hair has known me a long time.  (Parents reading this - you've already guessed where I'm headed, haven't you?).  Because otherwise I suspect I would have been thrown out on my ear just off Regent Street shortly after the following conversation took place.

Hairdresser:  'So, what am I doing with this today?'

Me: 'Not quite as short as last time, thanks - I think I like it a little longer.'

Silence whilst she fusses about (technical term, obviously) with clips and scissors etc .  Then, a little more silence whilst she closely inspects my hair.  I watch her and wonder if she is finally going to tell me that it's about time I got the grey seen to.  She would be right to - but no...

Hairdresser (in a low voice): 'Potty...'

Me:  'Yes?  Is it the grey?'

Hairdresser (clearing her throat as she ever-so-slightly backs away): 'Um - no.  Is it...  do you think...  could you have... lice?'

Ah, parenting.  The gift that keeps on giving...

Thursday 17 November 2016

And so it's November...

Where on earth did the rest of October go?

Life has been busy here for the still-re-acclimatising Potty family, as I'm sure it is for everybody.  And also, as I'm sure is the case for everybody, most of what's been happening is not suitable blog-fodder; either too boring to share (do you really want to know what I thought of Netflix's 'The Crown?  I thought not - but fabulous, just in case in you do), or too personal to put out there.  Consequently, I'm taking the easy way out and will use this post as an opportunity to share another piece of writing I've done; the prologue to a novel I finished (in as much as you can ever finish writing an unpublished book) in the summer.

It's odd, finishing one novel and starting another, as I have done over the last few weeks.  I find it hard to imagine sharing the latter - it's still too fresh in my mind, I'm too protective about it - but god, I am SO over the former. After so long spent working on it I've lost all objectivity and can only see it's faults;  I can easily imagine sticking it in the back of a metaphorical desk drawer and never looking at it again.  That seems a bit of a waste though, so instead I'm putting it up here - at least then some of it will have seen the light of day at some point!

I hope you enjoy it - and no, this excerpt is not too long. At least, I don't think so... (see? No objectivity...)

Finding Katie (working title)

Prologue: October 1993

I strip down to my swimsuit on the nearly empty beach and look out at the sea, a flat grey in the early morning light.

And I know already that I’m not going to be able to do it.

When I woke alone in the quiet darkness of the caravan an hour ago, my mind was made up; this was the only way out.  As I folded my nightclothes and left them in a neat pile on the bed, I was resolute; this was the only way out.  Whilst I made my way through the dunes, purposefully avoiding any other early risers in case they gave me a smile I wouldn’t be able to return, I was still certain; this was the only way out.

Now though, as I stand shivering in the chilly autumn morning, I come to my senses.  This is a crazy plan.  I can’t just walk into the water and… go.  No matter what I’ve found out, I can’t finish it like this; it will devastate Mum and Dad. 

And my brother.  Oh god, my little brother...  It will destroy him.

The memories come rushing back, one after another, and I think back to when he was tiny, Mum was ill, and it was my job to look after him.  I remember his gummy smiles and warm compact little body, and how used to clamp his arms around my neck and cover my cheek with hot sticky kisses as I hoisted him out of his cot in the mornings. 

I think about him toddling across the living room floor pretending to be a car.  I think about the time I took my eleven year old eyes off him for one minute to read my latest copy of Smash Hits and he walked into the door, cutting his head open on the lock.  I think of how he hardly cried as I held his hand in the back of the car on the way to hospital to get the wound stitched up.  You can still see the faint scar in his hairline now, even though he’s fifteen.
And I realise again that I can’t do it. 

I can still call it off – one phone call, and I can still call it off.  And then, I can just head back home and… 

Oh god; home. 

Shivering slightly in the cool morning air, I pick my way gingerly across the sharp stones of the pebbled beach, and force myself to step into the water.  It’s freezing, and I give a sharp intake of breath as goose-bumps run like an electric shock up my legs but I ignore them; this is no time to be feeble. 

The cold laps around my ankles, then my knees, and I keep right on going until it’s at waist-height.  Then I take a deep breath, plunge in – fuck, it’s like ice – and start swimming, away from the shore.

Because it’s time to stop pretending; there is no other way out.