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.