Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Pension Plan

We haven't really spoken about football yet. I'm assuming that if you're interested, you'll read the results in the paper, or watch the games live on Sky, or even go to watch the beautiful game.

It has long been my ambition to play professional football for Manchester United, but apart from an all-too-brief spell in goal for the Watership Down ladies team, the chances of having a peg with my name on in the home changing room at Old Trafford are slim.

My hopes and dreams now therefore rest on JP and Tiddler. Both enjoy sport in general and the lawn sports a variety of mud patches from goal mouths and improvised wickets to run between. JP and Mr Duck confine their golf activities to the Club and the driving range so there are no divots or pitch marks as yet.

Tiddler shows some aptitude for football, so it was with delight and excitement that I took him football training for the first time last Monday at the Church Hall - under fives, bring your own shin pads.

There were 8 tiddlers in total with a coach from a local football club who have, in the past, sent boys up to Blackburn and Manchester City - not the best of credentials, but it'll do.

Imagine my delight when Tiddler turned out to be pretty good - hat trick on his debut and control with both feet (something for the purists). The coach turns out to be excellent and has the same mysterious power of command over Tiddler as Stern Teacher.

Imagine my horror as I caught sight of myself as Pushy Football Mum on the touchline urging him to tackle Tiny Boy with ball. I can't help it. I beamed my way home (that's smiling not Star Trekking) and whooped when he asked if he could go tomorrow.

The vision of the peg in the changing room might be fading, but I'll be checking out the Players' Families area at Old Trafford on Boxing Day to see which seat has the best view.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Knight Bus

After living here for 10 years, an unplanned and unexpected opportunity arose to return home from Manchester on Saturday night on the late bus. Let me issue a health warning here. The late bus bears no resemblance to the gridlock of double deckers prostituting themselves before unsuspecting pedestrians by day in the city centre in what Granada Reports calls 'the bus war'*.

No, this is an entirely different species, sharing its DNA with the wizards' Knight Bus in Harry Potter and Frankenstein's race car in Death Race 2000.

The Senior Ducks were over for the Christmas Classical Spectacular concert at the MEN arena (indoor fireworks, laser light show, communal singing, soldiers and cannon) as our gift to them. Mr Duck Snr. has emphysema and really can't walk any distance, so we elected for public transportation in order to land at the Arena itself and not have to walk from a car park. When the queue for the tram home turned ugly - union jack-waving, geriatric concert-goers, fuelled with Britannia and Jerusalem, squaring up to Metro staff, we decided to get a cab. When we reached the taxi rank, it became clear that others shared the same thought and we could be in for a long wait. Suddenly, we were nearly mown down by a #98 which skidded to a halt at the bus stop in front of us.

In hindsight, this should have sent us scurrying back to the tram platform and the angry mob. But it being late, and the #98 going right past our house, we boarded. At first the driver refused to sell us tickets saying it was too expensive. Mr Duck practically had to stuff used fivers - all two of them, down his shirt to get him to accept us as passengers.

There followed the most extraordinary 25 minute ride, through red lights, over speed humps - at least, I'm hoping it was speed humps, with an occasional emergency stop when someone dared to press the stopping bell. If you bear in mind this journey is normally at least 40 minutes by car, with no passenger stops, you have some idea of the reckless, yet curiously exhilirating trip we had. Mr Duck Snr. sucked on his inhaler and gripped the handrails. Mrs Duck Snr. clutched a Lambert & Butler King Size, ready for lighting on alighting.

"Merry Christmas!" - we wished them, as they departed on Sunday. "Come again, won't you?"

*not to be confused with the Rochdale Coach Battle of '92, or the Wayfarer Warfare of '78.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


It's official. Tiddler is not the only demon in the house.

Lately, of an evening, there have been strange noises emanating from the dining room. Sudden, unexplained loud cracks. We check for shattered lightbulbs, cracked mirrors, Indiana Jones' whip etc. but nothing.

Then on Sunday night, while Mr Duck was ogling a selection of enticing and expensive Srixon drivers* with their come hither graphite shafts and shiny titanium heads on ebay, he stopped in his tracks and advanced on the Basket of Trains, from whence a persistant clicking could be heard.

In my head, the theme from the Twilight Zone began. I mute the TV. Seconds later, in triumph he holds aloft Spencer - the shiny, silver express train that's putting James, Gordon, Percy et al out to grass in ThomastheTankEngineland. Spencer is clicking, but the power switch is in the 'off' position! Mr Duck removes the battery. Spencer continues to click defiantly.....

We bury Spencer in the garden in the dead of night. Does anyone have Yvette Fielding's phone number?

*Golf plays a major part in our lives, mostly in relation to the credit card bills. A curse on the House of Nevada Bob.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Parents' Evening

We go to Parents’ Evening. JP is doing well, first with his hand up and madly enthusiastic about everything - soaking up knowledge and storing it in his filing cabinet brain, or should that be 8gb hard drive brain, now we're in the 21st Century?

Tiddler is a different story. While we talk to Stern Teacher about his progress, he’s busy doing Peter Kay knee slides across the beautifully polished new classroom floor.

‘Tiddler, you know that’s not how we behave in here. Please sit down quietly at the table and talk to your brother’ - she commands, in a voice so quiet that only dogs can hear.

To our astonishment, Tiddler stops in mid-slide and heads straight for the table.

‘Can you come and live with us?’ I blurt out.

We are delighted to hear that he hasn’t hit anyone, hasn’t called anyone ‘Poo Poo Head’ (21st century expletive of choice for 4 year olds, thanks to A Bug’s Life - nice one Pixar) and hasn’t shown anyone his willie.

We return home proud.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Power Cut

The power went out at teatime on Saturday as I returned from the Pink Palace* with Midnight Rouge nails and JP. I'll return to the power cut story in a minute, but you must hear about the 5 foot headless Santa.

The Pink Palace always make an effort to do the windows. Last Christmas the display was a big fireplace with a fairy light fire. This year the girls have made a huge papier mâché Santa. Unfortunately when we arrived, his head was still drying on the radiator and his body complete with belt and boots stood waiting in the cutting room like something out of a Christmas movie by Tim Burton. To his credit, JP wasn't phased at all and proceeded to fashion a homemade gum shield out of chewed up tooty frooties from the gumball machine. I love what passes for normal in his world.

Anyway, to the power cut. For the first few minutes the power was dipping in and out like bad strobe lighting at Phoenix Nights. In the bursts of light, I made for the garage to find a lighter to get some candles going or at the very least, a torch. My 21st century boy stood quietly by the door and said - "why don't you just use the light on your mobile?" In the blackness, I couldn't think of a suitable maternal putdown for such practicality, so I fired up the Nokia and retrieved the matches.

Within minutes the house was aglow with tealights and a pan of water was boiling on the gas hob. "What's the water for?" asked JP. I had no idea. I'd boiled water for no reason other than I could.

Mr Duck and Tiddler returned from Tesco and we stowed the chilled and frozen goods in timed precision, opening fridge and freezer in short bursts to preserve the cold inside. Obviously we drank all the beer which was perishing before our eyes.

There followed a most enjoyable couple of hours. We put batteries in the Little Ducks' torches and they helpfully guided us back and forth to the toilet as required. United beat Blackburn as we listened on the transister radio I got for my 21st birthday and the boys played lego by torchlight.

So we camped out in our front room on Saturday - allowing the Little Ducks to curl up to sleep on the sofas with their 'blankies' rather than confine them to their cold bedrooms with no nightlights and planned our evening of backgammon. When the power returned later that evening it was greeted as much with disappointment as with relief.

* Beauty Salon with regular clients who fetch up there for tea, acrylic nails and a brief escape. A bit like Dolly Parton's place in Steel Magnolias, but pink - very, very pink.

Thursday, November 02, 2006


6.30am. I'm still in bed. Outside, the car sports its first frost overcoat of the season. All is quiet. JP and Tiddler have not yet stirred - perhaps Jack Frost has worked his magic on their internal clocks as they're a bit slow to gain consciousness? A positive portent for the day.

Suddenly, all hell breaks loose. Piercing house alarm and frantic cries as Tiddler scampers back upstairs in fright -followed by a naked dash downstairs (Mr Duck - not me, I hasten to add. I'm more Nana Royle than Marilyn Monroe when it comes to bed attire) to switch off the alarm. So much for portents.

I'm trying to develop a sound and thief-proof process for defrosting the car on a winter morning. Last winter I fell victim to an opportunist looking for an idiot who had started their car and then gone back into the warm for a cup of tea. Not finding any such idiots on our estate, they pounced on mine, while Mr Duck was standing not 12 feet away! The cheek, the audacity, the inconvenience - not to mention the wrangle with the insurance company over cover.

SHARK - 'the car was unattended' - not covered.

MINNOW - 'No it bloody wasn't' - covered.

SHARK - (with fingers in ears - la, la, la, I'm not listening) 'the car was unattended' - not covered

MINNOW - (runs to Financial Ombudsman and 'tells' on shark) Result: Shark 0 Minnow 1

Back to the quandary.

Can't unlock car, start it, switch on defrosters and then go back to house to get kettle of warm water - (yes Dad, not boiling water) - leaving car unattended and containing valuables.

Can't carry kettle of water, handbag and laptop, and unlock, open and shut front door with only two hands.

Can't take kettle of water out, throw over windscreen and windows, get back in house, return kettle, pick up laptop bag and handbag, get back to car, unlock it, start it and switch on defrosters before screens have re-frozen.

Will keep you posted on progress and expect to make fortune out of process patent.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Separated at Birth

The early morning serenades are wearing thin now. In anticipation of the disruption owing to the clocks changing and the possibility of being woken up at 4.30am (in new money), Mr Duck and I retired at 9pm on Saturday evening. Sure enough, the 'extra hour in bed' did not materialise. Sweeping the curtains aside to reveal burgeoning daylight served only to confirm Tiddler's assertion that it was indeed 'morningtime'. Even Scooby Doo wasn't about at that ungodly hour and the Little Ducks had to make do with The Raccoons.

I remember watching this years ago and had failed to spot how ahead of its time it was. I am impressed with its green central message - don't knock down the forests to pursue the greed and commercial ends of cigar-chewing, gold-toothed developers like Cyril Sneer.

And then it struck me. Isn't he the inspiration for Watto in Star Wars - even down to the voice?

George Lucas is a Raccoons fan. I'm not sure how I feel about that.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


Can't decide whether to explain the picture of a duck thing or not. Maybe another day.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Ode To Emma

It's 6am. I'm sitting on the end of the bed listening to Tiddler composing a love song to his girlfriend Emma at the top of his voice. I'm impressed - he's 4. It's an amalgum of 'Obviously' - by McFly and the Harvest Praise song from last Thursday's assembly, with a few of his own words thrown in. 'She's my girrrlfriend. She's my beeest friend.' Eventually he exits the bedroom. All I can see is the glow-in-the-dark skeleton on his pyjamas.

Is it morningtime? he enquires.

By way of answer, I draw the curtains a fraction. It's still dark.

Brushing past me, he takes the house keys from by the bed, goes downstairs, deactivates the alarm and settles in for what he hopes will be an all-day Scooby Doo marathon on Boomerang.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

About Me

I am a great lover of lists.


First record I ever bought:

Ballroom Blitz - The Sweet ( I know I owned earlier records - I definitely had Sugar Sugar - The Archies, Lily The Pink - Scaffold and a Pinky and Perky single among others, but I remember buying this one myself)

The song that led to my first pop star crush:
Shang-A-Lang - Bay City Rollers. Guitarist Eric Faulkner (pictured). Dark hair and blue eyes has ALWAYS done it for me, and yes, I did dress like that as well.

The song that reminds me of my first true love:

She Sells Sanctuary - The Cult. A Ford Capri, a packet of Marlboro and a favourite quiet spot by the canal for skinny dipping. Happy days....

The song that's guaranteed to make me dance:

Love Will Tear Us Apart - Joy Division. New Order performed LWTUA at the Manchester for Cancer concert. The first time I've heard it performed live. I danced in the aisle and could have died happy at that moment.

My favourite holiday track:

59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy) - Simon and Garfunkel

The song I'd most like to sing on stage:

Laid - James. 'This bed is on fire with passionate love' has to be the best opening line to a song ever.

The most embarrassing record I ever bought:

Nine To Five - Sheena Easton

The song I wish I'd written:

A Rainy Night in Soho - The Pogues. Lyrics by Shane McGowan

The song I wish I could play:

A Midnight Summer Dream - The Stranglers. Haunting and hypnotic with fabulous keyboards - on daily play, super-loud in my car.

The best guitar riff ever:

The Last Time - The Rolling Stones. Really it's She Sells Sanctuary again - one of the most recognised intros ever, but I didn't want to repeat myself.

My favourite love song:

In Your Eyes - Peter Gabriel. From the movie Say Anything with John Cusack - (no. 3 on my Shag Without Consequneces List) - 'In your eyes, the light the heat, in your eyes, I am complete'. The scene where he stands vigil outside her window, silent and still, playing the song at full blast and just waiting gives me shivers. Irresistible.

The track that reminds me of my best mates:

Comfortably Numb - Pink Floyd. For Bli Guinness and Amazing Dave - true mates and perfect Paddy's Day Companions.

My favourite Beatles song:

Hey Jude

The song that reminds me of childhood:

White Horses - Jackie. From the school holiday TV series of the same name. Carefree, trouble-free times.

Double Click to go to You Tube to watch and remember.

Song to make love to:

You Shook Me All Night Long - AC/DC. In fact, I'll cheat here and say the whole album Back In Black.

Song to play at your funeral:

One of Us - Joan Osborne. I love the idea of people sitting at the crematorium listening to God being called a slob and not quite knowing what to think. Just before they scatter my ashes at Old Trafford.

Our Tune:

Things Can Only Get Better - D-Ream. This was mine and Mr Duck's song, unfortunately hijacked by New Labour for the general election in 1997. It was somewhat spoiled by the sight of John Prescott trying to clap and sing along at the victory celebrations at party headquarters.

Song to break up to:

If You Leave - Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. Aside from being the closing credits to the movie Pretty In Pink, 'Don't Look Back' is sound advice.