Monday, December 17, 2007

Snap!

I am developing the opinion that twins should carry a health warning.

I know the whole concept offers endless comedic possibilities for Hollywood, and how we laughed at school over naming the German teacher's twin boys 'The Two Ronnies' on account of him being called Ronald.

But the whole mistaken identity thing is a total can of worms - and not in a good way.

One of the mothers of Tiddler's team mates at football is an identical twin. It came up in conversation one day, although I can't for the life of me remember how. She's also a City fan (although I'm glad to say her son is a Red, like mine).

Anyway, moving swiftly on. They live near us and I have spotted them over the top of my Guinness glass in the Local Pub from time to time.

Recently, I spotted Football Mum in the pub, but didn't recognise the man with her. I smiled and waved at her, but she didn't acknowledge me in return. In fact, she didn't look happy at all.

Aha - I deduced, in a flash of brilliance - the identical twin.

So at training last week, I mentioned to Football Dad that I'd seen Football Mum's twin in the pub with a man, and how funny it was that I waved, thinking it was her, but that she didn't recognise me. The whole hilarious, mistaken identity twin thing. Ha ha ha.

'But she doesn't go into pubs' he replied. 'It can't have been her.'

'Oh.' I said.

Followed by 'Ah'.

Just to punctuate the expanding silence.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Love Changes Everything

It's Fulham and I'm feeling vocal. As part of the ritual, Fellow Fans and I have greeted each other and the referee signals kick off with his whistle. Pete Boyle conducts the crowd.

U. N. I.
T. E. D.
United are the team for me
With a knick knack paddywhack
Give the dog a bone
Why don't City fu..


It's then that I notice it. Our block in the North Stand is strangely quiet. Mine is a lone voice.

Now this doesn't bother me per se, but I know my singing partner, two rows back is here.

He plays on the left
He plays on the ri-i-i-ght.
That boy Ronaldo
Makes England look shi..

Same again. Just me. I fish in my pockets for my blackcurrant Lockets. He must have a sore throat.

Then I spot it.

The reason.

He has brought a girl.

She is wearing a pink hat and scarf and is gazing at him, oblivious to the goings-on pitchside. He is sitting upright in his seat. Self-conscious. Knee to thigh intimacy is unavoidable in the packed stand. She snuggles into his shoulder.

A couple of times he forgets himself and sings the first few bars, only to tail off awkwardly.

In the second half, Ronaldo is denied a clear penalty, which could have seen his first hat trick for the club. 75,000 voice their disapproval of the referee in time-honoured fashion. Poor Fan. His dilemma is agonising.

Stay silent to impress the GF or be himself and let rip, risking what is clearly a new relationship.

I sing twice as loud to compensate and reflect on football and love.

They leave 10 minutes before the end - her leading him by the hand.

Somehow I don't think he'll bring her again.

Monday, December 03, 2007

That's very nearly an armful!

I'm definitely getting geekier. Mention the word upgrade and my ears prick up.

So far I've resisted the temptation of the primary object of my affection - it's only a matter of time before I succumb.

But this week, after 25 years and many more pints, I have been invited to upgrade to Platelet Doning instead of your everyday Blood Doning.

They've buttered me up with flattery about my excellent veins and blood flow*, the shortage of A+ donors, so with my ego sufficiently boosted, I've agreed to a test. They're going to count my white cells and get back to me. I need a score of 220 for a pass.

Here's the deal.

You get a special bed at the blood centre.
You can play your iPod.
You get food, drink and 1.5 uninterrupted hours with Michael Palin**.
You don't have to avoid hazardous or strenuous activities or alcohol *** afterwards, as they pump the blood straight back in after taking the white bits.

Now I'm not saying I'm competitive, but I feel like I've taken an entrance exam for an exclusive club and now I'm desperate to be accepted. Watch this space.


*(7 minutes 11 seconds for a pint last week - a new PB)
** insert your choice of author here
*** I have always considered the lower blood:alcohol ratio when drinking after doning to be a perk.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Immortal



One of the Little Ducks' favourite authors is Julia Donaldson, who writes beautiful rhyming stories, with fantastic illustrations - The Gruffalo being her most famous.

Room on The Broom is our favourite with a witch and a dragon and an excuse to yell WHOOSH! on every page.

Her latest story is Tiddler - a tale of a small fish who invents the tallest of tall tales to explain his repeated lateness for school, then ends up in a scrape for real.

Our own Tiddler is always looking for reasons to miss school, despite his new-found good behaviour and a stream of recent party invitations.

This weekend he informed me that he has growing pains, which means he can't walk.

I did detect a small flaw in his argument, when he gyrated round the front room trying to copy Matt's salsa moves on Strictly Come Dancing.

10/10 for effort though.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Reebok, Now and Then

Nobody told me that running* would involve so much shopping.

As well as the swanky armband, I now have several sports bras, cycle shorts, capri tights and Guinness running socks (with pints and toucans).

I've been using aerobics trainers to pound the avenues and alleyways of East Lancs. My running shoes, carbon-dated to 1989 have no sole on the right shoe and have been worn for painting for many of the intervening years since I last did any running.



I decided I was due an upgrade, so I have treated myself to these**:



In an age where the aim of technology seems to be to make everything smaller, it's bizarre that trainers seem to be getting bigger. These dwarf my old ones! They cost about the same, which 18 years on means I was either ripped off then or have a great bargain now. I'm staying positive.

* Up to 4 miles now without stopping for oxygen. Even ran in the rain and cold yesterday - which felt brilliant and exhilirating. I-Pod running playlist now as follows: She Sells Sanctuary - Cult; Love is a Stranger - Eurythmics; Insomnia - Faithless; A Midnight's Summer Dream - Stranglers; Love Will Tear Us Apart - Joy Division; The Passenger - Iggy Pop; Black and White - Upper Room; Laid - James; Obviously - McFly; Hey There Delilah - Plain White T's; It Means Nothing - Stereophonics; Waterfall - Stone Roses.
** And before you panic about putting new shoes on the table - I have already been out in them, so they're technically used now.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Speaking Words of Wisdom


ITV have been heavily trailing I'm Absolutely Not, By Any Stretch of the Imagination, Under Any Criteria You May Wish To Specify A Celebrity for the past week or so, which I will not be settling down to watch tonight. Frankly, I'd rather cut off my own arm with a PlayDoh scalpel.

JP has been studying the trailers and doing some thinking.

'I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here?... Is that where celebrities have to survive in the jungle without straighteners?'

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Nil By Mouth

Yummy Mummy had a Pampered Chef party on Tuesday. A host of kitchen gadgetry and gizmos, to solve culinary problems you never knew you had were demonstrated and a Boxing Day turkey leftover dish was prepared and cooked before our eyes.

All was well and dignified, until someone asked if one particular item was suitable for the bedroom as well as the kitchen. From that point on, we all looked at the equipment in a new light and the demonstrator struggled to keep Ann Summers from the door.

Order was eventually restored and with the sales pitch over, we switched to gossip.

Neighbour #1's daughter has been in early labour since Thursday last. This was a personal blow as JP and Tiddler were due to play with her Little Ducks on Friday. 'How bad is it?' I probed hopefully when she phoned to cancel the play date - having already made plans.

Naturally there were a range of Old Wives present with helpful suggestions about raspberry leaf tea, fresh pineapple and curries. It seems the Belaboured has tried pineapple, but is now pursuing a rather more energetic route, pouncing on her husband every time he walks through the door and marching him upstairs. He is now naked, sorry knackered.

'What is she doing with the pineapple?'

8 pairs of eyes turn to the speaker. 'When I was having my first, I made my mouth bleed eating fresh pineapple until the midwife told me I wasn't supposed to be eating it. The reason pineapple is promoted to induce labour is the presence of prostoglandin - also present in sperm, but it needs to make direct contact with the cervix....'

Luckily Pampered Chef has a gadget for dismembering pineapples and leaving a hard central core.

We decide to employ modern thinking and the discussion turns to acquiring battery power. Ann Summers is now well and truly in the room, sipping a glass of wine.

We send a text to the Belaboured, offering our suggestions and support, but stopping short of actual assistance.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Talking Amongst Myself

I have always talked to myself, right from childhood. Out loud, that is, as opposed to just thinking in my head, which everybody does - at least I assume they do*.

It has always seemed like a perfectly natural and normal thing to do. My brain engages, the tongue slips into gear and off we go. I could do it all day - and sometimes do.

Over time, I have learnt to restrict this to when I am alone or at home, as it does seem to generate strange looks in public. But this is not always possible when I have a lot on my mind and it can just spill out wherever I am. In which case I just stop, smile and try to pretend it isn't me. Anyway, to my mind, it's no worse than singing along with your iPod.

The Little Ducks are quite used to my solo conversations. Tiddler sings and talks to himself a lot - mostly singing, but has been known to just chatter away when the mood takes him. JP will occasionally seek confirmation - 'you are just talking to yourself aren't you, Mummy?' - just to check that no input is required from them.

During tea, at H and Em's, an argument breaks out when H wants to save a place for her invisible friend, so she can talk to her. JP is having none of it, despite the fact that we are guests and H is only 4. You can't keep a scientist down.

'There's no such thing as Invisible Friends'.

Seeing the tears welling in H's eyes, I try to smooth things over. 'I talk to myself all the time' - I tell her.

JP retorts -'Yes, but H's mad because she's got an invisible friend who doesn't exist, who she talks to. Mummy's not mad because she talks to herself and that's a real person.'

There's some logic in there somewhere.

* I don't read out loud though (unless I'm required to do so by the Little Ducks). That would be a bit mental.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Rocket Science



We are still getting round to playing with some of the presents from the Little Ducks' birthdays.

I have to admit when Tiddler tore the paper off a Rocket Launcher from the Science Museum, I was slightly worried that his classmate had mistaken the 5 on his birthday invitation for 25.

But on closer inspection, it appears to be Tiddler-proof. There is neither gunpowder, fuel nor detonators- just foam rockets, a foot pump and a launch pad. The Purple Garden becomes Cape Canaverel and we prepare for launch.

They're fantastic. They shoot up to 300 feet into the sky (according to the instructions). So, after retrieving them from neighbour #2's garden for the 5th time, we adjourn to the park.

We couldn't have been more popular if we'd hijacked a travelling circus, hitched an ice cream van to the back and kidnapped the cast of Harry Potter to hand out 99s with raspberry sauce.

Dozens of kids queued to stamp the foot pump, vying to see who could get the rockets the highest. Some could only stand and stare.

JP prepared himself Jonny Wilkinson-style for his turn -

pacing out his run up

controlling his breathing

in the zone...

The result is spectacular. I wonder if zoologists can be part-time rocket scientists?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Bild Von A Duck

I was checking out my sitemeter stats like a saddo, now we are a whole year old and came across something strange whilst browsing the entry page referrers.*

A German translation of POAD aka Bild Von A Duck. So I dusted off my O Level and started to read. All seems well, until you see what they do with the About Me blurb:

JP (7), USB-Stick (5), Herr Duck, und ich wohne in suburbanen Osten Lancs. Mein Leben ist ganz normal. Die Jungs sind außergewöhnlich, der Garten ist violett und Fußball ist meine Religion.

Tiddler is USB-Stick in German! I like it! I think we'll change his name by deed poll.

*For non-techies, the stats thingy at the bottom of the page that tells me who you are and when you visit, also tells me how you got here. A surprising number of you look for pictures of ducks on Yahoo or Google - hello and welcome. Kind of makes me wish I'd called it Picture of a Cock - I might get more traffic.

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Secret of Happiness - Part V



Gardening: Has a positive effect on your happiness which doesn't diminish over time.

So: The Secret of Happiness

If you want to be happy for a few hours - get drunk.
If you want to be happy for a few years - get married.
If you want to be happy for life - get a garden.

I thank you.

Oh, and while you're here, today is POAD's first birthday.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Secret of Happiness - Part IV




Having Children: Contrary to what you'd expect, the graph is negative when they're very young. There are little happy spikes along the way*, but the effect on your overall happiness is bad**, until they start to develop into interesting individuals - like JP and Tiddler.


*beyond my graph-making capabilities
** no sleep, no social life, just endless pee, poo and puke.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Secret of Happiness - Part III




Getting married: The bad news from the research is that the year in the run up to your wedding is the happiest! So if you're engaged right now - make the most of it.

Of course there are some gluttons for punishment...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Secret of Happiness - Part II



Getting Drunk: A brief peak at the point of being roaring drunk, followed by the crash into hangover on the negative axis. Not sure if the hangover dip shouldn't be sharper than the happiness peak, but I suppose that depends how much Guinness has been consumed.


Monday, October 22, 2007

The Secret of Happiness - Part I

I told you on my birthday that I would share the secret of happiness with you and now the day has come.

The theory comes via Richard Reeves of Making Slough Happy fame.

If you're Salvadore Vincent, you can make genius diagrams of this. I will have an amateur go and make it last over a few days.

On the vertical axis you have degrees of happiness and on the horizontal axis you have elapsed time. The research asked people what made them happy and how long did it last and the results were then plotted.

You get graphs that look like this:



Winning the lottery: You get an initial uplift in happiness, but then it levels out and might even tail off. Money can't buy you happiness, but it can buy some of the things that will contribute.

More tomorrow.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Can you guess what it is yet?

To raise funds for the school, the PTA offers personalised coasters, t-shirts, placemats, mugs, mouse mats and so on, with pictures drawn by your children. The ideal gift for those hard-to-please grandparents.

This week, sample coasters have come home for our consideration.

JP has drawn a dog and a rabbit on a green hill, under a rainbow-filled blue sky. Perfect Wrinklie Ducks material - lots of aaah factor.

Tiddler has drawn a dog and a head sticking out of a large brown object floating in mid-air. The caption reads 'Tiddler and his dog practising for the sack race, 2007'.

Mmm.

a) to my knowledge the sack race is a solo event, not human/animal pairs

b) he has never seen, nor participated in a sack race

c) we don't have a dog.

I think he's sneaking cheese at night.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Virginity

Every now and again, it's good to help someone lose their virginity.

When they utter those words 'it's my first time', you stop in your tracks. You know you need to make it really special for them. An experience they'll remember for ever.

After all, it's not every day you get to take someone to Heaven and back. I got my latest opportunity last Saturday.

I have never forgotten my first time.

I was breathless with anticipation and my heart was pounding. I couldn't believe it was finally happening. We'd planned it for weeks and weeks and when the day finally came, I could barely contain my excitement. I stared at my reflection in the mirror, knowing that I would never be the same again. I chose my outfit with care. I wore red - but there was never any question really.

And it was Heaven. It was everything I had dreamed of and more.

We won 4-1.

On Saturday it was 4-0. I'm sure J will never forget his first visit to Old Trafford either.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Go As You Please

My uncle lost his battle with cancer recently, so family and friends gathered to celebrate.

Not his untimely death at 66, but the life of a fell-running, music-loving free spirit.

The day dawned with sunshine and clear skies. Two of my brothers*, my niece and I headed for Whitley Bay.

The funeral was organised by appropriately named Go As You Please.

The day was a genuine celebration of his life, rather than the mourning of his passing. His fellow members of 10th Avenue Band played, as we walked and danced from the sea front to the crematorium, flanked by the permanent and conformist reminders of the more usual face of death.



The band were dressed in their signature black and white costumes; ostrich feathers, hats, polka dots, checks and stripes making the monochrome display anything but sombre. My uncle himself would have probably worn an outrageous black and white kaftan, had he been walking and playing his flute or tenor saxophone, instead of being carried behind by his children.

The simple coffin was vibrant with flowers from his garden, woven into the wicker with ivy, by the family that morning.

Inside the building, his photographs watched us from the walls as one by one, friends and relatives stood up to share stories and memories. The building resonated with laughter and smiles and love.

As we left, Carl from Go As You Please, showed us the photographs they had taken of the procession - already printed out on sheets, to the delight of the family.

We proceeded to the wake to hear both 10th Avenue and later, one of his other bands - the Cradlewell Jazz Band - perform. We drank, ate, looked at countless pictures and news clippings, and shared more stories and tributes.

He would have loved it.




*sister in china and the ginger one - for interested commenters

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Black, White and Bling...

... is the name we have settled on for the new Pink Palace.

It does exactly what it says on the tin. It is all black, white and silver and has sparkly bits in the polished, black floor tiles*. Even the Human Bacardi Breezer**, keeps it monochrome for work - apart from hair (pink) and flip flops (turquoise).

The polish has gone upmarket too. The house red is 'Merlot' here - in the PP it was 'Cranberry'.

Some things do stay the same though - like the tea and gossip with the regulars.

Yesterday, the conversation turned surprisingly to football. 'Guess who Blonde Salon Owner is dating?' asks HBB.

'A Manchester United player!' - she continues, without giving me a chance to rattle off a random list of contenders. (This still gives me 35 to choose from so the game is not over yet.)

I make my pitch.

I am wrong.

Several times over.

'Ooh' I rejoin - non-committally, when I fail to guess and the answer is revealed.

'But I'm not sure I believe him' - adds Blonde.

She lays the evidence before us. We are all ears.

1. He claims to be 27, but official sources put him at 23 (and I've checked this).
2. She has been to his house which has a waterfall in the garden and a Lamborghini in the garage, but thinks it might not be his.
3. He looks like the player, but his hair is longer than the current squad photo - but that was taken a while ago.
4. He complains of soreness in the place where this player is currently injured, but could be faking.
5. He does not have the accent of the country for whom he is a capped International, which is correct.

Now, I'm no Lazlo Woodbine, but I offer to help out. As I scrutinise him from my seat, watching the second-half demolition of Wigan with his injured team mates, I draw up my plans.....


* which BTW I'm giving serious consideration to laying in the kitchen
** formerly of the PP, who does my nails

Monday, October 01, 2007

Not To Do List

While Anna has been driving herself crazy with Lists of Things to Do over at Little Red Boat, I decided that as an antidote I would have an antilist. So here is my Not To Do list, so far.

1. Go shopping regularly

2. Run too far with my iPod*

3. Keep banging my head on the same shelf in the kitchen

4. Leave the pub before closing

5. Watch football quietly

6. Put the milk in before taking the Tea-Bag out


It's a work-in-progress, but has more more of a feel-good factor than a To Do list don't you think?

* Went out again without a swanky armband yesterday. Decided to action point 1 on the list and didn't buy one. Legs in working order though, (as far as I can tell). I must be forgiven. Switched the playlist order so Joy Division comes on during the big uphill. Inspired!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Retired Hurt

The love affair is over.

I hate my iPod.

Flushed with the success of the shopping trip, I made a new 'Run with Me' playlist* and road tested it on my usual route - tucking iPod into the waistband of my cycle shorts in lieu of a swanky armband**.

Instead of focusing on my persistantly niggly left knee and the tortured rhythm of my breathing, the music filled my head and I pounded the route without my usual rest stops - even uphill! I reached the end, still listening, endorphins aflowing, so I carried on, and on, and on. Paula Radcliffe diminished as an icon with every yard. I pictured myself crossing the finish line in next year's Great North Run - lifting a bottle of Moet to my lips, (or at least Lucozade Sport).

The slightly euphoric and smugly self-satisfied mood stayed with me all day and all evening.

It was only the following morning when I rolled out of bed and had to stagger to the bathroom like Zara Phillips after Badminton that I realised my folly. I couldn't bloody walk! For two days!

So. iPod. I know the cycle shorts were not the most pleasant spot to spend time, and it got a bit sweaty and slippy, and having me dive to retrieve you when you slipped southwards wasn't ideal. But how could you trick me like that? Why didn't you stop me? A duck's got to stay in shape and I did promise you the armband for next time....



* She Sells Sanctuary - Cult; Love is a Stranger - Eurythmics; Insomnia - Faithless; A Midnight's Summer Dream - Stranglers; Love Will Tear Us Apart - Joy Division; The Passenger - Iggy Pop; Black and White - Upper Room; Laid - James; Waterfall - Stone Roses; Hey There Delilah - Plain White T's.

** On my shopping list along with a docking station (if you're reading this Father Christmas, please make a note to save me a stamp in December)

Monday, September 24, 2007

Now You See Me..

I had to visit the Shopping Centre in town on Saturday to get winter pyjamas for Tiddler*. This would normally fill me with utter dread, but for my new Invisibility Cloak.

No-one spoke to me.
No retail advisors came to assist me.
No-one gave me nightclub leaflets.
No-one approached me with a clipboard.
No-one offered me double glazing.
There was no white noise.

There was no noise of any colour,

except for the playlist on my iPod, making its debut appearance in town.

The tell-tale white leads trailing from the ears must flash subliminal messages to the masses. Do Not Approach - Shopaphobic at Large.

Transactions were fantastic. Hand over goods, insert card, enter pin, remove card, take bagged goods and receipt, smile, move on. Not a word exchanged. It was like virtual shopping.

I am so in love.



* The Simpsons and Glow-in-the-Dark Scooby Doo if you're interested.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Who are you and what have you done with Tiddler?

It started in the first week of term.

Friday - week 1. I pick the Little Ducks up and discover a Head Teacher's certificate in Tiddler's school bag. I am on the point of returning it to whichever child he'd stolen it from, when I notice it has his name on the front.

Awarded to Tiddler for 'a fantastic first week back'.

This is only his second Head Teacher's certificate - he got one for yoga* last year.

Monday - week 2. I collect Tiddler and discover a massive Gold Star on the back of his chair and a Gold Star pin badge on his marker-pen-personalised school jumper.

'I'm Gold Star for the week**'.

I check my ear to ensure my Babel Fish is inserted correctly.

'There's a cape and a crown too' he adds.

Friday - week 2. Another Head Teacher's certificate -

Awarded to Tiddler for 'exemplary behaviour at lunchtimes'

I make a mental note to check the garden again for tell-tale pods.


* yes, Tiddler does Yoga - directly before football training on Mondays - stops him from actually killing anyone.
** a child is selected each week to be Class Monitor based on the number of good behaviour points they've accumulated in the previous week.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Music To My Ears

Tiddler has his delayed 5th birthday party this Sunday - finishing in time for me to get to Old Trafford for the Chelsea game. I am a master of organisation.*

He has whittled his class of 34 down to a final 20 invitees.

'Has he picked any girls?' I checked with Mr Duck, who was in charge of invitations in my absence.

'Which girls have you invited, Tiddler?' - he asked, relaying my phone question.

'The pretty ones I like' - he responded, unashamedly un-pc. Perhaps that's why we haven't had the early morning serenades lately.

Speaking of serenades. JP had an MP3 player off M for his birthday and I have been uploading his favourite tracks. Unfortunately he hasn't really mastered the art of not singing along out loud...**

'This bed is on fire with passionate love' - he announces as he dances down the stairs. Mmm. Maybe I should upload some Tweenies, in case he decides to use it in public.


* Having also dumped Mr Duck with the Little Ducks and all the luggage at Manchester airport to hail a taxi straight to OT for the Sunderland game after flying home from Italy.
** To be fair, neither have I with my new iPod. I got caught doing Mrs Robinson by the pool on holiday. (Well not 'doing' Mrs Robinson - I leave that to Dustin Hoffman).

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Lost in Translation




We returned to Italy this year to the same place as last year. It is an idyllic spot in Umbria called Le Case di Lisetta. Last summer JP and Tiddler spent the week catching crickets in the morning and systematically jumping in the pool, climbing out, jumping in, climbing out, jumping in, climbing out in the afternoon with two little Italian Anatras holidaying at the same estate. This meant Mr Duck and I got to lie by the pool, drink beer, read and talk football with Mr and Mrs Anatra, rather than entertaining and refereeing the offspring.



All summer they have been asking if Nicolo and Stefano would be at the Case again. We tried to keep their expectations low.

5 minutes after we pulled up at our stone cottage, a familiar blue Peugeot appeared with two grinning Little Anatras waving madly. Apparently they had also spent weeks asking if JP and Tiddler would be coming to Italy.

I read 5 books, listened to my new iPod, ate fresh figs off this tree outside our house, drank cold Peroni in lieu of Guinness (sorry Bli, sorry Dave) and gained a tan.




The night before we returned home, JP and Tiddler put the TV on instead of a DVD.

'Are you watching Italian Telly?' enquired Mr. Duck.

'Tagliatelle?' Tiddler retorted. 'Don't be silly, Daddy. You can't watch pasta.'

Sunday, September 02, 2007

I have brought a note..

It has been two weeks since my last post and a pretty poor showing for August overall, as I'm sure you'll agree. I have been on holiday twice (Devon two weeks ago and Italy last week) and haven't figured out this in absentia posting mullarky to keep you entertained. Whilst the holidays are a big part of my excuse, the main reason for my silence is that I have been suffering with insomnia.

I can't get no sleep.

It started with a ringtone. I have had Insomnia by Faithless as my ringtone for some months and it has seeped into my consciousness and infected my normally reliable, 7 hours per night, still and quiet sleep pattern.

For the past month, I have barely slept. I've never given insomnia a second thought, let alone donated money to its support groups, beyond it being a great dance tune and a reason to mock Mr and Mrs Duck Senior for their nocturnal tea-brewing habits on account of their poor sleep patterns.

Now Sleep has been suddenly and unexpectedly torn from me. I feel like I've lost one of my best friends. I didn't realise how much his presence in my life meant to me until it was gone. As my eyes fly open at 2 something or 3 something every night, I know with certainty that I will not sleep again. I find myself watching the unfamiliar night time numbers on the clock, unable to stop the whirring and turning of the cogs in my mind. Night after night after night like some tortuous Groundhog Day parody*.

I feel sick and miserable. I have no appetite, no energy, no enthusiasm. I am stumbling in an ashen netherworld, breathing in and breathing out and just getting through the days. At night I lie there, dreaming of being back in the arms of Morpheus. If we each have our own private hell, then welcome to mine.


* but without Sonny and Cher singing I Got You Babe, which is a small blessing.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

43 Things





1. I draw smiles in my Guinness
2. I am slightly colour blind
3. I was a finalist on The Weakest Link
4. I once said I Love You to Ian Botham
5. My favourite food is sausage and mash
6. I have a phobia about balloons
7. I can do the Rubik's Cube
8. I love the perfect stolen kiss in The Wedding Singer
9. I have tiny feet
10. I carry a Mighty Sword*
11. Technology baffles me
12. I am a blood donor
13. I speak fluent french
14. I don't like tomato ketchup
15. I would love to have a tattoo
16. I rub my nose after playing a pool shot
17. Old Trafford is my favourite place in the world
18. I drink warm milk at bedtime
19. I would like to model for a life class
20. I own a set of flying ducks
21. I have medals for ballroom dancing
22. I am terrible at geography
23. I am proud to be Welsh
24. My talisman is a tiny wizard.
25. I know how deja vu works
26. I make great cheesecake
27. I remember everything
28. I am completely buoyant
29. I do not park
30. I love the Beatles
31. I hate shopping
32. I have no pain threshold
33. I once held a tarantula
34. I shared a lift with Brad Pitt on my honeymoon
35. I wish my teeth were straight
36. I cry at Coronation Street
37. I wear red underwear to football
38. I get cranky when I'm hungry
39. I know the secret of happiness**
40. I hate being tickled
41. I can say the alphabet backwards
42. I like toy boys
43. Today is my birthday





*Aka Swiss Army Knife

Monday, August 13, 2007

Quoting Cannonball

Update: (in case you were wondering)

We have just returned from our holiday in Devon where JP turned 7 and Mr Duck slightly more. Happy Birthday both. As the luckiest Ducks in the world, we had fabulous weather all week and it lasted long enough for me to renew my relationship with Swing Seat at the weekend. I am even sporting a mild tan.

Onwards:





The Cannonball Run was a defining film of my early 20's. A favourite with siblings and friends and oft quoted. Out of mischief one day, I made a Captain Chaos cape and mask for one of our gang who bore a close resemblance to 'Him'. Late that night - well after closing time as I recall, we crouched by the side of the main road and at the onset of approaching headlights, with no thought for his personal safety or the consequences for the mental health of the drivers, the Captain jumped out into the road crying 'Dan Dan Daaaaa', frightening the bejesus out of each passing motorist. It is a memory that has stuck with me for 20 years.

Prior to the holiday, I bought a copy of the DVD and was delighted to discover (in an obsessive and only slightly worryingly anal way) that I could still remember 90% of the script.

With only a few 'shits' and one 'mother' to worry the censor, I took a chance and let the Little Ducks watch - knowing how much Tiddler would enjoy the car chases - and he did.

They enjoyed it so much, they watched it again the next day.

Imagine my pride when after only two viewings, I overhear JP and Tiddler replaying the cop scene with Sammy Davis Jr, and Dean Martin.

Cop: 'Get out of the car, Shorty'

SDJ: 'Why'd he call me Shorty?'

DM: 'Because you're small, small, S M all.'


If you're chuckling with recognition right now, leave a comment.

Monday, July 30, 2007

And So We Begin Again

The Little Ducks are at Football School this week as part of a wide and varied programme of summer holiday activities.*

With Tiddler's football career in the balance, the intense skills training will come in handy. By 6.15 this morning the wake up question was 'which shinnies shall I wear?' and 'shall I take these goalie gloves or these?' In the early morning gloom I dispensed my sage advice.

'Whatever!'

The real excitement for me this week is the first home game of the season. A friendly against Inter Milan on Wednesday. The football drought is ended and the ritual begins again. I can't wait.

To celebrate, let's relive those glorious goals against Roma.


Click the play button in the bottom left corner.


*known in our house as 'WTF can we do with the kids this week?'

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Things You Encounter When You Haven't Got Your Gun #4

I hate shopping.

But with a conference looming and having lost a few pounds, Yummy Mummy talked me into going to the Trafford Centre. Fed up of using safety pins to keep my trousers up, I agreed to an evening trip - nothing on earth would induce me to a daytime or weekend visit*.

We are making our way along a two lane ringroad, when the rear door of a taxi, parked outside a pub, swings open into the busy road, at the exact moment we pass by. There is a cry from YM and a loud bang. We manage to pull over, some way past and survey the damage. Megane's wing mirror glass, now cracked, hangs sorrily down from its housing, attached only by some wires. Minimal. We clip the glass back into the mirror and reset the housing back into position.

We walk back to the taxi where the driver is shaking his head and looking at his rear offside door which is severely dented! Surveying this, I am now somewhat embarrassed to admit that my only damage is a cracked mirror glass - not even full-blown wing mirror devastation to report, which would seem only reasonable and fair, in light of the state of his door. (Although, at the same time, I am secretly in awe of the tank-like resilience of Megane and resolve to treat it to a wash and polish.)

We swap numbers and he is perfectly decent about paying for the damage.**

The woman who caused the accident is nowhere to be seen. She's paid her £2.80 fare and gone into the pub!


*well, maybe if Mr Palin was signing copies of his diaries in the bookshop, with a free pint of Guinness for every customer.

** which he does immediately, when I replace the glass two days later. Thank you Mr Azad.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Karaoke Pirates of the Universe

Tiddler went to a Pirate Party on Sunday - stripey britches, waistcoat, bandanna etc. etc. He doesn't like facepaints, but did agree to tattoos, so I duly painted a skull and crossbones, anchor, ship and cutlass on his forearms. And made a pretty good fist of it, if I do say so myself.

Not to be outdone, JP dresses up too and asks for his face to be painted. Eyepatch, beard, moustache, scar and dripping blood. The resemblance to Jack Sparrow more than passes muster.

After the party, they ask to go on the PS2. I have now advanced sufficiently to load the eye toy and Kinetic. So their 18th century pirate alter egos appear on TV, battling with virtual space bombs and missiles. Bizarre enough.

But things become surreal when they ask to switch to Singstar.

Pirates in space I can cope with, but Jack Sparrow and First Mate with microphones, gyrating along with Ricky Martin is just too much.

La Vida Loc-aha, Jim Lad.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Selection

Football training is suspended for 3 weeks. When they resume, Tiddler’s group is going to be split into two – by ability.

He’s only 4 and he’s to be pitted against 19 other tiddlers to make the first team squad, or sink into reserves oblivion, taking my dreams with him.

Instantly, I assess the competition in my head. Is Tiddler top ten material?* I try to size him up with an independent eye.

He shoots well.
He dribbles with both feet.
He can kick out of his hands
He doesn’t shy from tackles.
He’ll play the man if the ball has gone.

But

He’s a bit lazy
He’s not very fast
He shoots well, but only with one foot.
He’s a bit reluctant to head the ball
He’ll play the man if the ball has gone


It will be a long three weeks.


*I’d put him at about 7th if I’m honest

Monday, July 09, 2007

Sex Toy

Yummy Mummy babysat on Sunday, so that I could watch Mr Duck being presented with a large silver trophy and a prize from the Pastel Sports Jackets and Brylcreem Committee at the Golf Club. It joins the other trophies in the cabinet from a recent St. Andrews Golf Trip and Mr Duck’s handicap has been cut again. Well done, that man.

Yummy Mummy is in the sex business - educating the youth of the Borough in the ways of safe (and legal) practices. I raised my eyebrows the first time I saw a gross of condoms on her dining table, but anyone who travels in daylight with a laptop bag with DUREX emblazoned on the side in large letters, deserves admiration.

When we return from the golf club, she is busy packing something up on the rug.

‘I’ve been testing my new toy’ – she explains, pulling out a large, wobbly, transparent willie on a stand. ‘It even ejaculates’.*

Mr Duck instantly appears from the kitchen with Big Bertha and a smile on his face.

'You might at least have closed the curtains' - I admonish, as the sound of our names being scratched from party invitation lists resonates up and down the street.


*It’s a demonstration tool for practising putting condoms on. I don’t understand why it ejaculates. Perhaps it’s a novel ‘It’s A Knockout’ game against the clock?

Friday, July 06, 2007

Temptation II - Txt Message

11.02
Duck. Sun out. I’m waiting. Come now. :) SS xxx

11.14
Not much time. Hurry up :) SS xxx

11.25
I’m warming up nicely… :) SS x

11.38
Where are yu? :( SS


11.51
SS. F***ing London. D

Monday, July 02, 2007

Temptation



I would like to apologise to all for the dreadful weather we have been experiencing, which I fear, is all my fault, due to my committing the deadly sin of lust.

A couple of weeks ago, I treated myself to an early birthday present - a swing seat. Ever since I saw the Waltons swinging on their porch* in the 70s, I have craved one.

Mr Duck assembled it, and I ignored the mutterings about me being old and wanting a rocking chair**. I couldn't wait to get my hands on it.

It's beautiful, it's funky, it matches my garden furniture.

It's a 'glider seat' - I am reliably informed by JP - confirming my status as a 21st Century girl with cutting-edge gliding technology on my deck.

I position it carefully to catch the evening sun, open a bottle of beer and take my first glide.

For a few blissful minutes I dream of us spending long, lazy summer evenings together, moving gently back and forth.... until the first drop of rain splashes on my nose, rapidly followed by a second and then a deluge.

Two weeks have passed and I have yet to sit on it again. Oh, it's out there - enticing me into the storms - the gliding mechanism ever-responsive to the wind and rain. I am being seduced, but I am powerless to resist.

'Come to me' - it beckons, 'you know you want to'. I'm very tempted.

But still I sit here, gazing upon the object of my desire, waiting for the clouds to part.


*That's the wholesome TV series about a family in the Depression in the US, before you go looking on Youtube for juicy clips.
** Duly noted though - expect to hear about a cold dish sometime in the future.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Art Class

JP and Tiddler were rewarded with a KitKat* after eating all their tea last night. Assuming peace and goodwill to all men, I return to the kitchen to cook for Mr Duck and I.

With bolognese bubbling away, I enter the front room to find Tiddler rolling a KitKat finger between his hands like a boy scout trying to make fire.

'Look mummy, you can use the Kit Kat like a paint roller' - he informed me, 'for chocolate fingerpainting'.

I turn slowly to survey the scene behind me. Perfect replicas of Tiddler's hands wave cheerily from the wall, and the chair, and the bookcase.

I retreat to the kitchen and give the bolognese a stir.


* Not being vegetarians

Monday, June 18, 2007

Fatherless day



With Mr Duck off on a postponed Valentine's Day Golf trip and Mr Yummy Mummy and Used Car Dealer on a stag weekend, it falls to 3 mums and 6 kids to find something to do. So we set off in fine drizzle, for Formby; with waterproofs, a picnic and spare clothes.

Despite an early start* I am in happy mode after watching K-Pax** the night before, and agree to take 4 kids in my car. They spend the journey making up songs about poo and show-off sisters with dangly earrings and mini-skirts. I tune them out and hum along to Virgin Radio.

As we leave the West Pennines, the clouds fade to blue and I don sunglasses, grabbed hastily, yet optimistically at the last minute.

The National Trust park at Formby Point is a revelation. Child- and picnic-friendly woodlands full of the first red squirrels I have seen. My remorse for past grey squirrel roadkill recedes, as these enchanting creatures parade for nuts before us.

The paths get sandier and the kids race to climb up, and surf down the sun-washed sand dunes that rise unexpectedly at the edge of the woods and then drop to an unspoilt stretch of beach. Out at sea, wind turbines spin and we rue the fact that we packed for foul weather not fair, with neither swimming gear nor towels. No matter. The kids play happily and the mums enjoy the sun.

The day finishes splendidly with ‘having our tea out’ during which JP’s wobbly tooth finally exits to a rapt and delighted audience of 5, complete with minor bleeding.

I text the tooth fairy to put East Lancs. on tonight’s call sheet and head home with 4 sleeping, sandy little ducks – no doubt dreaming of poo and show-off sisters…

* 6.15am. Enter JP - 'Do birds have really good hearing, mummy?' 6.16am. Exit JP, pursued by a slipper.

** Fantastic book and great film with totally entertaining mad people.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Perfect Moment



Of course, the last thing you expect at a research conference is a wet T shirt contest.

The keynote speaker was talking about recognising that each of us is the star in our own lives and that we need to ensure that we play the roles to the full. To illustrate the point that we need to wake up, take control and live, he threw a succession of wet sponges into the audience - made up largely of academics and professionals. I was on the front row, so every sponge went over my head, soaking me in the process and changing the demure white top I was wearing into a stag party novelty show.

The homework was to identify who we would choose to play us in the movie of our lives. I decided to give it some thought.

The answer came to me last night when I watched The Wedding Singer for the nth time. Great movie and a brilliant soundtrack. My favourite scene is the one in the kitchen when Julia and Robbie kiss. In a stolen moment, with music playing in the background, Julia's other half is forgotten. They gaze into each other's eyes and as their lips meet in a perfect, soft kiss, they know that they are meant to be together.

So I pick the slightly geeky, square-jawed Drew Barrymore to play me. But opposite me wouldn't be Adam Sandler. I'm afraid I would pick the delicious John Cusack.

Sorry Adam.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Genocide



The ant farm is no more.

We have been able to piece together what happened from the black box recordings. Here is a transcript.

Adam: Tiddler's in the garden kicking a football at the house. Duck will go ballistic. He's already knocked over 3 sunflowers and smashed a terracotta planter this week.

Assist: The back door's half open, she'll hear him in a minute.

Adam: Attention. She's chopping an apple. Engine room, prepare for transfer to the kitchen counter.

Lubric: Roger that Adam.

*A minute later*

Adam: Engine room, damage report.

Lubric: Minor sandfall in the south tunnel but no need to evacuate. Lieuten and his crew will shore things up.

Assist: You get a much better view of the garden from down here. I like what she's done with the rhubarb.

Adam: What's that shadow on the open door? It looks like the Death Star. It seems to be getting bigger. It's almost as if something's heading straight fo...

ENDS

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Best Medicine

Yummy Mummy was at the end of her tether last night with daughters H and Em, who'd been banished to their bedrooms.

'Come round later and we'll have some wine' - I suggested. 'Mr Duck can come round to watch the football at yours with Mr Yummy Mummy.'

Sometime later the text message alert bleeps on my phone:

Just cookin T. Both naked so thanks for offer but not 2night.

Delighted that she's found a way to relieve her frustrations I tap out a reply:

Sounds v interesting. Don't burn anything delicate.

Seconds later - a further missive:

Oops dyslexic moment. Supposed 2say knackered. At least now had belly laugh nd feelin slightly better.

Monday, June 04, 2007

End of an Era

After being my home-from-home for tea and gossip for three years and nearly 100 sets of sensational nails, the Pink Palace has been sold.

All customers were invited for a farewell drink yesterday at a nearby pub. I decided to wear shocking pink, in homage, and to match this week's cherryade nails.

'I don't imagine I'll be very long' - I advised Mr Duck, as I headed out the door with Yummy Mummy; anticipating a swift pint or two and hugs/air kisses as appropriate with a few, familiar faces.

The shocking pink turned out to be a wise decision as we entered the small pub, tucked at the end of some terraced two-up-two-downs.

Cowering in the corners of the bar were the regulars, clutching pints of mild and blinking uncertainly.

Setting up in the side room were one of the finest rock bands in the North West, friends of the departing Pink Palace owner's musician boyfriend - complete with tattoos, earrings and enough amplifiers and speakers to serve the borough, never mind a small pub.

Taking over the rest of the pub were dozens of PP customers like exotic birds in shades of pink, tangerine and lime - complete with highlighted, extended hair; stilettos to make Carrie Bradshaw green; and fake tans, nails and boobs aplenty.

The guinness flowed, the band rocked, the birds preened and fluttered and the Pink Palace got the send-off it deserved, albeit a very surreal one.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Sleeping to Three Decimal Places

Long ago and far away, I went on a school youth-hostelling trip to North Wales.

In the dormitories with narrow bunk beds and army issue blankets, seven 13th-year-old girls lay down to toss and turn and wake up freezing cold, in a tangle of thin cotton and coarse grey wool.

One 13th-year-old Duck woke up warm, refreshed and still tucked in perfectly smooth, hospital-cornered, matron-would-be-proud comfort.

'You pathetic little sandwich!' - my school friend exclaimed, rubbing the Tommy Nod from her eyes.

I can't help it! I wake up in exactly the same spot I went to sleep, covers intact, pillows barely dented. I always have.

I personally consider this a plus. I might put it on my CV - 'Makes excellent bedfellow, no duvet snatching or elbows in the back.'

I could stick it in the personals 'Guinness-drinking, blonde, United fan, colour-blind, GSOH, will not put cold feet on you in the night'. Who wouldn't be tempted?

I could advertise to share a burial plot on the same virtues.

JP slumbers with exactly the same mathematical precision. He gets into bed, removes his glasses, shuts his eyes, falls immediately to sleep* and doesn't stir until morning.

Unlike Tiddler, captured here in his nest last week. If you look really closely, you might just make out the garish, tangerine pyjamas behind the cement mixer. Bless.




*Seriously. You say 'close your eyes and go to sleep now' - and he takes it absolutely literally.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Superhero

We've all asked ourselves at some point which superhero we would prefer to be - given the opportunity. Masks, capes, tights, powers and so on. So many choices.

The Little Ducks get to try out for the roles in multiple, miniature, dressing up costumes.

How reassuring to find somewhere, where we can follow a logical and considered process to reveal the true answer.

Oh, and in case you're wondering about me. Tada

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Things You Encounter When You Haven't Got Your Gun #3

This week has been National Vegetarian Week. So today, in the town square, there were entertainers for the Saturday shoppers, and helpful leaflets.

The problem is, the entertainers were a trio of Native American Indians, dressed in furs and leather, complete with headdresses made of fox pelts - heads, tails, legs - the full corpse experience. Quite brilliant Council planning.

And all this on the back of the outing of Guinness, Snickers and Kitkats (the UK's bestselling chocolate bar) among others as being unsuitable for vegetarians, thanks to the swim bladders of fish in the former and rennet in the latter.

Still, all the more for me then, so it's not all bad news.

Cheers!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Pen!



I have a new pen.

:)

It is not a Zippo

:(

It does not make fire

:(

But it does this




:)

Friday, May 18, 2007

Que Sera Sera

Whatever will be, will be
I'm not going to Wemberley
Oh Poo!
:(

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Love Is...

JP has his first wobbly tooth. At nearly 7 and after nightly checks, he is very excited. The piggybanks of most of his friends have grown fat with contributions from the Tooth Fairy for at least a year now, and he has been a little anxious about the amount of interest he is losing.

I'm trying to get a feel for the going rate of return for small teeth. Consensus seems to be around the £1 mark, although Tiddler, inevitably has other ideas.

I should have know something was afoot when he slid into our bed, very early, smiling. Thinking that my morning routine was going to include a cuddle, I opened my arms to embrace him and smiled widely...

Whereupon he punched me, quite determinedly in the mouth.

'Ot Ar Ou Oing?' I exclaimed, clutching my face in pain.

'I'm trying to break your teeth so you'll get £1.50.'

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Walking in a Fergie Wonderland

Click the play button in the bottom left corner to relive the welcome at the Bridge.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Wish You Were Here

As we didn't get up to much at Easter apart from this, we decided to take the Little Ducks away for a long weekend, with the school closed for elections and the Bank Holiday.

Mrs. Duck Senior had recently provided the Little Ducks with their own rucksacks, which they had immediately packed for our summer holiday in Devon.*

These have been standing the hall for a few weeks now. Before leaving, and despite their reassurances that they had everything they needed, I thought it might be wise to check the contents.

JP:
5 pairs of pants
5 pairs of socks
5 clean tee shirts
2 pairs of shorts
2 pairs of trousers
1 clean vest
One football kit including shinnies
Night time teddy
2 Books
Binoculars
Magnifying glass

Tiddler:
7 tee shirts (not all clean)
75 cars.

With fond memories (rose-tinted on reflection) of seaside caravan holidays from my childhood and a belief that Hi De Hi was definitely fiction, we ventured to a popular resort site near Blackpool. After ascertaining that there was Sky TV and Guinness in the bar, so that I didn't miss Saturday's derby match*, we signed up for children's entertainment, assorted adventure activities and Splashzone access.

The weather was fantastic, the Guinness was excellent, albeit cold, and the kids loved all the character costumes, talent and magic shows.

BUT I JUST COULDN'T SLEEP.

Line-dancing wood pigeons on the roof, creaks and groans from every corner of the caravan, lack of double glazing with its additional soundproofing properties and late night revellers with ponytail facelifts, singing The Mavericks at the tops of their voices and spitting!

I kid you not. Spitters were everywhere - all ages and sexes as far as I could tell, unless it was a local custom. I think fooballers have lot to answer for here.

Still. Home now. Guard of honour at the Bridge tonight. Normal guinness on tap.


* Still on daily countdown - 91 days
**Can't not mention it, can I? Champions again. More tomorrow.

Monday, April 30, 2007

International Relations



My talented friend and artist Lizzie in Omaha painted this amazing oil as a gift to celebrate the 20th anniversary of our friendship.

Homage to Sabine is a tribute to the wonderful trilogy Griffin and Sabine, about an extraordinary correspondence between people on opposite sides of the world. If you haven't read them, put it on your list of 43 things.*

For years we relied on letters, then email and now chat regularly on Instant Messaging. Very occasionally, we talk on the phone.

I was calling to speak to Lizzie recently and got her eldest daughter Juliane instead. As we chatted, Tiddler appeared with a question.

Shh, I gestured. 'I'm talking to Juliane in America.'

'Oh.' He pauses for a minute, then says loudly 'Is she an American Idiot?'

The party invitations are drying up by the day.


*More of that later

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Starter for Ten

Shh. It's 6.20am. I have crept into the bathroom in the hope of having a bath without an audience.

Duck's bathtime has become a participation sport in our house. Nostalgia takes me fondly back to the days when I could wallow in hot water, book in hand, football on the radio, glass of wine balanced on my flat stomach. (Yes, yes, a long time ago...)

Nowadays it's more open house than private sanctuary and locks are no deterrent to Little Ducks.

I spend an age running the water quietly, so as not to wake the household. I step into the bubbles, open 'The Dance of the Voodoo Handbag', wriggle contentedly...

and Tiddler staggers in.

Without so much as a hello, he removes my towel from the toilet seat, wees, farts loudly, sits cross-legged on the seat lid* and fires the first question. Not fair. I'm not prepared for this right now. - There's no big black chair, no revision time, no horn fanfare.

1. For my 5 (sic) birthday, can I have wax in my hair?
2. How many days until we go to Devon? (104 - we're on daily countdown and they've already packed their rucksacks)
3. (In two parts) You know how poo is green before it comes out and then goes brown? - How does it do that?

I elect for a time out. 'What makes you say that Tiddler?' 'It's in the book.' 'What book?' - mentally scanning the bookshelves in his room. 'JP's Big Body Book'. Ah. Inspiration - plays Joker - 'You'll have to ask Daddy that one'.

Without pausing for breath, we move on.

4. Can I wear my batman costume for Hallowe'en?
5. When I'm 5, how many pairs of pyjamas will I have?
6. Girls wee out of their tinkle don't they? Do they poo out of their bottoms like boys?
7. When can we go to the safari park?
8. Am I going to school today?
9. When is my Manchester United kit coming?**
10. Can I have little cereal packs for breakfast...?

I close the book - dinosaur bookmark in the same place as yesterday, and the day before, and the day before.


*To be fair, both little ducks remember to put the seat down after use, although I'm sure they're genetically predisposed to lose this skill as they get older.

** Yes! Yes! There is smoke from the Vatican chimneys. He has chosen!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Yes!


Click the play button in the bottom left corner to relive the goals from last night.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Self-Service


It was my turn on school run this morning, which means feeding and dressing the Little Ducks.

'Can we have little cereal boxes for breakfast?' pleads Tiddler, my face buried in his tousled, golden hair in my first babysmell fix of the day.

'No Tiddler, they're just for treats and you had them yesterday. If you have them every day, then it won't be a treat. You can have Weetos.'

As a deprived child, we NEVER had Variety Packs, despite endless pleading to Mrs Duck Senior and promises to eat them all - even the Bran Flakes*.

Who in their right minds would include Bran Flakes in a Variety Pack? Unless Kellogg's has a grudge against big families and is keen to punish child #8. Oh, and 6 and 7 if you count the disappointment of ending up with Rice Krispies or Corn Flakes or any other non-sugar/non-chocolate-coated variety.

Anyway, authority established, I sent them downstairs. Following a few minutes later, I enter the kitchen to find them sitting like angels at the kitchen counter, munching happily. My first thought is that Mr. Duck has prepared it before leaving and I resolve to look kindly at golf items on the credit card bills, but JP pipes up 'Look mummy, we got our own breakfast'. They both smile.

My heart swells with love and pride, until I notice that they are eating Coco Pops and Frosties - and the tell-tale small packs are strewn across the counter as evidence. Devious little sods.

I melt a little when I realise they have sourced bowls, spoons, climbed chairs to reach high cupboards, opened packaging, and acquired and poured milk without spillage - all by themselves, for the first time.

Epiphany! I no longer need to provide meals. They can fend for themselves, provided the culinary inducement is sufficient.

So, Little Ducks, if you're reading this:

Tonight there will be chocolate spread sandwiches, ice-cream, green pringles and Easter Eggs for tea. Help yourselves!



*Obviously lying here.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Flasher

Of course, we've only got ourselves to blame.

As devotees of Friends for many years 'Ugly Naked Guy' has been the affectionate term used for nudity in our house, whenever the Little Ducks are unclothed.

Pointing and shouting 'Ugly Naked Guy/Mummy/Daddy' became something of a Duck Family source of amusement and was one of JP's first phrases. Pyschologists can make of that what they will.

Why do small kids love to take their clothes off and race around naked? I suppose it's because they have yet to observe gravity gradually sucking their body down through the floorboards until they look more like Barbapapa than Barbarella.

Unfortunately, Tiddler has started to take this harmless game to its (un)natural extreme.

It began on the way to school one morning, when he mooned me for castigating him about not holding my hand to cross the road. Not surreptitiously - but brazenly marching 5 yards ahead, dropping trousers and pants and sticking out his bottom - in front of dozens of parents and other Tiddlers on the school run. This was about 3 weeks into his first term. Needless to say, we don't get invited to many reception class parties.

It has now become full frontal exposure - most recently from the top of the climbing frame in the garden, directed at our neighbours' two young daughters H and Em, watching incredulously from the patio windows.

I guess we won't be going to neighbourhood parties any more either...

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Outstanding!



When Smith emphatically marked his first European start of the Season with the second of the magnificent seven, 72,000 believers danced in ecstasy and began to chant for more.

Something extraordinary was afoot.

I stood in my favourite place in the whole world, in perfect harmony with all around me. As I contemplated my feelings, my senses afire, it dawned on me that this was pure, untempered joy.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Mating Game

There being Spring sunshine, we took to the park for a game of football. There is a fenced-off, dog-free compound with climbing equipment and picnic tables, but JP, Tiddler and I chance it on the open grass area, using the space between two fenceposts as goalposts, in the absence of jumpers.

JP is in full Mersey Red kit - just to annoy, and Tiddler in full England kit - equally annoying. The game is going well, with me in goal.

Then we spot M - JP's girlfriend of the past year, with her mum and one of her mum's friends. The mums are drinking Grolsch in the park at 4 in the afternoon! I am impressed - although not as impressed as if they had been drinking draught Guinness.

JP puts his head down and fiercely concentrates on his free kicks. When a complicated step over goes awry, he nonchalantly passes the ball to Tiddler, and fiddles with his laces - thus demonstrating clearly that he has a trainer problem rather than a skill problem.

M strolls away from the play area over to the fence to pretend not to watch. She declines to join in.

No greeting has been exchanged and glances are furtive.

After a while, and without acknowledging her presence, JP walks into the compound and wanders over to the monkey bars. M drifts back to the play area. JP manfully climbs up the ladder and swings across the bars, dropping a few feet from where she is standing. 'I am hunter/gatherer and can provide for you' - his actions are saying. M continues to ignore him from anear.

M sprints up and down the tarmac path. She is a very fast runner and is keen to show off her prowess. JP shrugs and does a few bunny hops*.

Eventually they come together for a race. JP cheats and sets off before M. She flounces away from the finish line in second place - disgusted. Clearly he has a lot to learn about courting women.

Later, when they think no-one is watching, there is a brief hug by the slide. They quickly spring apart.

In a suddenly bold and romantic gesture, a blown kiss from JP is received wistfully by the fence as we depart for tea.



*For as long as any of us can remember, JP has spent hours bunny hopping for no reason other than he can. Many have tried and failed to keep up with him, and should this become an Olympic sport, he is a cert for a Gold medal and Sports Personality of the Year.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Things You Encounter When You Haven't Got Your Gun #2

When Tiddler turned toast into luminous green vomit for the third day running, it was time for a bank holiday trip to A & E. Last bank holiday trip to A & E was New Year's Day when Tiddler swallowed a large ball bearing from the Mousetrap game. I'm already booking my spot for May Day when I fully expect Tiddler to wedge a saucepan on his head.

Anyway. I arrive at A & E to report in for our 3 hour wait. Tiddler is Koala Beared around me, moaning quietly. A Hyperactive Toddler is tearing around screaming with mum, older brother and grandma in pursuit - desperately trying to restrain him.

Mum's solution is to get him a bottle of Coke and some chocolate from the vending machine - a massive sugar fix! Light the blue touchpaper and stand well back.......

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Guess My Animal

We have devised our own guessing game to rival I-Spy and 20 questions called Guess My Animal*. It can hold JP entertained for hours on end, but can get a bit tricky for Tiddler who doesn't know his arachnids from his elbow most of the time.

It's testing enough when it's JP's turn - given his encyclopaedic knowledge of animals in general and dinosaurs in particular. Woe betide the contestant who isn't familiar with the differences between deinonychus and mononychus.

It's practically impossible when Tiddler is IT. He changes his mind about who he is supposed to be, has only rudimentary understanding of the difference between land and sea creatures, no feel for diets or habitats and cannot count legs.

The Ducks-in-Law were over at the weekend and we decided to have a game of GMA in the car.

Tiddler's turn went something like this:

Tiddler: Guess My Animal

Duck: Are you a mammal?

Tiddler: Yes

Mr Duck-in-Law: Do you have four legs?

Tiddler: No

Mrs Duck-in-Law: Do you have two legs?

Tiddler: No

JP: Do you have no legs?

Tiddler: No

Now at this point we're a bit stumped. Any amount of legs over four suggests that IT is unlikely to be mammalian.

Tiddler: I'll give you a clue - it's got three legs.

There is an awkward pause until JP pipes up...

Is it a dog having a wee?


* The rules. Whoever is IT thinks of an animal. Everyone else has to ask questions to deduce what the animal is. Questions may only be answered 'yes' or 'no'. There are no limits to the number of questions you can ask. Email me for a starter pack of questions to get you going if you're interested.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Ladies

While using the facilities at Old Trafford on Saturday, it occurred to me that the ladies' toilets at a football match differ from those offered anywhere else in 3 fundamental ways.

1. There is no queue.

Despite the fact than men's facilities outnumber the ladies' by 3 to 1, the queue is always under the sign of the Stick Man. Why do they show a Stick Man with his arms out to his sides outside a gents? As far as I can tell, men looking for a toilet always have one hand reaching for the entrance to their flies long before they reach the entrance to the gents. And generally exit the same way. Too much, boys! Save it for the cubicles.

2. No-one is doing their hair or applying make-up.

There are no fumes from hairspray, Impulse or perfume and no-one is adjusting the tit tape on their cleavage. The mirrors are provided purely to check that the badge on your hat is facing the front.

3. Lots of people are wearing exactly the same outfit

- but no-one minds at all.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Song I Wish I'd Written


A Rainy Night In Soho

I've been loving you a long time
Down all the years, down all the days
And I've cried for all your troubles
Smiled at your funny little ways

We watched our friends grow up together
And we saw them as they fell
Some of them fell into Heaven
Some of them fell into Hell

I took shelter from a shower
And I stepped into your arms
On a rainy night in Soho
The wind was whistling all its charms

I sang you all my sorrows
You told me all your joys
Whatever happened to that old song?
To all those little girls and boys

Now the song is nearly over
We may never find out what it means
But there's a light I hold before me
You're the measure of my dreams
The measure of my dreams

Sometimes I wake up in the morning
The ginger lady by my bed
Covered in a cloak of silence
I hear you talking in my head

I'm not singing for the future
I'm not dreaming of the past
I'm not talking of the first time
I never think about the last

Now the song is nearly over
We may never find out what it means
Still there's a light I hold before me
You're the measure of my dreams
The measure of my dreams

Shane McGowan

I am a lover of lists. Mark Radcliffe does a great radio feature called My CD CV. The rest of mine can be found here. You can also submit your own....

Go on, you know you want to.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Zippo!



I have a new Zippo!

:)

It is a pen.

:~

It does not make fire.

:(

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Things You Encounter When You Haven't Got Your Gun #1

This is not, and never will be a rant blog. Mr Angry does it so much better anyway. But we'll keep a little corner just for special 'Oh For F**k's Sake' moments.

Today's offering: Two lanes closed during rush hour on the M56, in order to remove cones from the one-lane shutdown for roadworks!

Your own contributions welcome.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Last Orders

It's never easy deciding how to approach the subject of death with the Little Ducks. Luckily they have only been subjected to goldfish and soap death so far - the former when they were very tiny ducklings and didn't really notice and the latter on a regular basis, the latest being Charlie Stubbs in Corrie. They are fascinated by the disposal element - happy in the knowledge that the departed spirits will be tucked up in Heaven. It is with great interest that they check out the church service to establish whether the coffin will be passing through the curtains at the back, or out the front again to a pre-prepared hole in the ground. They particularly like the idea of the open air funeral pyre as favoured in Star Wars.

Occasionally the subject of our growing old does crop up. A couple of weeks ago, JP asked where I would be when he was different ages. By the time he got up to 75, I had to break the news to him that I would be dead (having already established that I would be getting a letter from the Queen when he was 60 something).

I steeled myself for tears and upset....

'Do you want to be burned or buried?' asked Tiddler.

I'm just hoping he isn't making arrangements with the Co-Op anytime soon.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Fnarr Fnarr!


I spent Saturday consulting with Mr. Titchmarsh* in the Purple Garden while listening to the Beatles.**

It being a fine day I took the opportunity to tackle a number of chores, especially round the back where it's a bit bare thanks to dormant perennials. Why does any comment about gardening come out as a double entendre? Perhaps it's all the talk of tools and seeds and bedding. The possibilities are endless.

Anyway, here is a list of my outdoor labours, in the style of Finbarr Saunders.

1. Checked my cherry
2. Bedded my pansies
3. Brushed my crusty pots
4. Top-dressed my clematis
5. Lifted my pelargoniums
6. Tested my fountain for good flow
7. Trimmed the sensitive parts of my euphorbia
8. Planted 12" nerines between the rocks
9. Pulled some saggy digitalis
10. Found a perfect damp spot to raise my rhubarb.

Next weekend trimming my bush and rooting some succulents.

* in print not in the flesh, although as one of my personal heroes, he'd be welcome to test my soil at any time.


**we'll discuss the whole indoor v outdoor music question another day - lots to say on that subject.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Men Will Be Boys

The bedroom door opens slowly. He tiptoes round to the other side of the bed and slides in under the duvet. Mr Duck is away. The early signs of dawn are just visible through the curtains as he inches closer toward me. I can feel his warm breath on my cheek as I lie perfectly still, feigning sleep. He brushes my lips with his, in a soft butterfly kiss.

'Mummy. You're not dead.' he pronounces.

He throws back the duvet, flings me my dressing gown and sets off downstairs with the alarm keys - confident that I will follow. Scooby Doo won't cut it this morning. Tiddler requires Mummytime. The kitchen clock tells me it's 5.50am. The kettle nods knowingly - today will definitely require a 3-cup kickstart.

I thank God for PG Tips, as I break open the Gumball Rally Top Trumps.

Tiddler loves these cards. He would - his favourite programme is Top Gear. Both Little Ducks look forward to the child-friendly Wednesday repeats.

I think they identify with the small boys who present it. Someone once told me that men are just little boys with money in their pockets. They must have been watching Top Gear at the time. Last night was laugh-out-loud hilarious. The playground mischief, the one-upmanship, and the 'I Dare You' egging-on make it utterly watchable.





Monday, February 26, 2007

Time Traveller

I have always been fascinated by the idea of time travel*. From Tom's Midnight Garden as a child to The Time Traveller's Wife this last year, I sigh over the possibilities and fret over the paradoxes.

Today, I came across an online book-in-progress Calling Project Hermes, about someone who gets sent through time in 2014, only to land back in 2005, only it's not 2005 as we know it, but a parallel version. I'll be watching the book unfold over the coming months.

I like to be prepared, so in the event of Bill and Ted turning up with the phone booth I keep a list of places/times/events in need of minor adjustment.

1. Lie in wait for the postman outside the house of My First Crush, to whom I sent a love letter after a school trip to France aged 11, and intercept it. Thus saving myself abject humiliation when he showed it to the entire class.

2. Leave a copy of Bluffer's Guide to Snogging by the bedside of my 12-year-old self so that I don't flee for the toilets when My First Boyfriend tries to kiss me during How Deep Is Your Love? at the end of the school disco, thus delaying our 'going out' by a full 9 months, before he plucked up the courage to try again, and I had some lessons on the back of my hand from a friend.

3. Fire bomb the hairdressing salon, where I had the first of a series of disastrous perms in my teens which ended up more like Kevin Keegan, than Kelly from Charlie's Angels.

4. Put away the beautiful vinyl Beatles singles with apples in the centre that represented the best music I have ever owned, or am likely to own, instead of playing them in stacks on the rickety portable record player with the dodgy needles and leaving them in the sun to bake.

5. Put a mattress at the bottom of the conker tree in our garden so that when I fall out aged 9, trying to prise unripe conkers from their shells, with a carving knife borrowed from the kitchen, I don't part-sever my thumb.

6. Confiscate the Gauloise I accept from a French Boy on the aforementioned trip and save myself 18 years of smoking. On second thoughts, after confiscating it, go forward and pop it in my handbag on my 18th birthday, otherwise the Zippo my boyfriend gives me will go to waste.

7. Hide the loft ladder, so that my 27-year-old self can't stash my beautiful pool cue out of sight to gather dust for the next 15 years.

8. Video the late Grandmother Duck making the world's best mushy peas, so that I can recreate the magic for the Little Ducks.

9. Lend myself money in 1983, so that I put more than a fiver on Corbieres in the National.

10. Keep this spot free for future inspiration. Any ideas welcome.


*With the one exception of the really rubbish effort by Christopher Reeve in Superman the movie, rewinding the world to save Lois after the earthquake. No, no, no, no, no.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Speechless

Fugly has just been added to the Oxford English Dictionary. I kid you not. No doubt Twunt will be next.

On that basis I would like to submit the following from the Duck Family Dictionary:

Jim Bobs - n. pyjamas - partic. Happy Feet, Spiderman, Harry Potter, Glow-in-The-Dark Skeleton. (der. 4th male Walton child from US TV series). See also Pyjamaramas, Jimbly Bobs, Peejah Weejahs, Pajumbah Wumbahs.

Niddle - n. navel or belly button - as in the war cry 'Niddle in the Middle of your Tum' followed by large raspberry, blown into said niddle.

Tommy Nod - n. contents of the corners of your eyes, to be rubbed away each morning. orig. school friend of Duck c 1977.

Snippy - n. Sticky-out piece of nail (toe or finger) requiring delicate surgical removal with nail clippers, healed with a kiss.

Doo - v. As in Doo Wah Diddy Diddy Dum Diddy Doo orig. Tiddler (when challenged to a game of 'What Rhymes with Poo?' by JP).

I'll let you know when I hear anything.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Every Little Thing


To celebrate the recently announced World Tour, let's hear it for Linus doing my favourite Police song.


Click the play button on the bottom left of the picture to play.