Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Voodoo Queen

Today we went to see Marie Laveau's tomb.

Oh, did I mention that I'm in New Orleans?

'I'm in New Orleans!'

Which is brilliant.

But my luggage isn't.

Which is not brilliant.

I have nothing. This is the third consecutive trip to the States where my stuff has gone awol. Twice before, it turned up the next day, so things weren't so bad. This time, they actually appear to have lost it. It's not turned up anywhere and is currently untraceable.

The worst of it is that I spent 3 hours shopping on Sunday for clothes to bring, as I have no clothes that fit me. 3 hours! And I HATE shopping. And, now, when I should be enjoying jambalaya, crawfish pie and filet gumbo, I have to do it all over again.

So far, I have managed to buy a T-shirt, a cowboy hat and moisturiser. Not exactly what a duck needs for an important conference.

I have even had to borrow a laptop for the evening - mine was in my luggage.

I am in the process of compiling a list of contents while it's still fresh in my mind. So far there are 3 things I am upset about.

My Mighty Sword aka my swiss army knife - a 30th birthday present from the Ginger One which I treasure.

The Cancer Research running vest with my name on, which I wore so proudly last weekend for the Great Manchester Run.

My favourite Guinness T-shirt.

Anyway, back to Marie Laveau, the Voodoo Queen.

Her tomb has a strange assortment of tributes and gifts in front of it and is covered in graffiti in groups of 3 crosses - like this - XXX. All the other tombs are pristine. The historic St Louis cemetary is bizarre, as all the tombs are built above ground. Because New Orleans is below sea level, you can't bury the dead underground as the graves flood.

There are a few shops with voodoo paraphernalia and XXX marks around the older parts of the city. But I was particularly amused to see one souvenir shop selling voodoo charms and figures. In the window was a sign that read '24 hour CCTV security surveillance on these premises'.

That doesn't exactly instill confidence in the powers of the merchandise, now does it?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Reasons to be Cheerful

Part I

I wasn't the only Duck pounding the streets of Manchester at the weekend. On Saturday JP and Tiddler ran in the Great Manchester Mini Run for 3-8 year olds. One mile around the City of Manchester stadium. No mean feat for a seven- and five-year-old.

They raised £160 for the new children's hospital, got T shirts and medals and better goody bags than we did on Sunday! I ask you. You run 10k and all you get is a packet of lemon-flavoured pine nuts and seeds, and a tube of extra strong mints!

Our fears over Tiddler's running were groundless. As soon as the race started, he set off like a mad eejit. He was buzzing and beat JP by a decent margin. I wonder where he gets it from?

Part II

Tiddler had his first football game on Sunday and I missed it. There was the small matter of the Run, so I do have a note.

They played another tiddler team from Bolton and won 4-0. Get in! Identical Twin's tiddler scored a hat-trick and has trials for the local League 1 side. We have a decent goalie, a boy who can throw in half the length of the pitch at 6, and an utterly brilliant, two-footed, pin-point corner-taking, fast, can-pick-any-spot-in-the-goal-and-put-the-ball-there midfielder. I want to adopt him. His dad's pension plan is a cert. Still, we have him on video, so in 10 years I can sell the footage to the Red Tops when he's playing for United and dating Apple Martin.

Mr Duck took the camcorder, so that I could have my very own Match of The Day, but then was so engrossed in the action, he forgot to follow it with the camera lens and I spent a frustrating time watching off the ball footage, while parents encouraged and Coach shouted instructions -


So despite the Mini Run, our little Michael Flatley is still at it, it seems. But he tackled like Wes Brown, defended like Nemanja Vidic and went forward like Patrice Evra when the opportunity arose.

Part III

Mr Duck has gone to St Andrews for a spot of golf, so I booked a babysitter and headed to the Local Pub for the small matter of the game last night. It wasn't the same as being there and I felt more than a pang of regret, but it came pretty damn close, as the passions rose and the faithful willed Van der Sar to save us. Which he did.

Que sera sera
Whatever will be, will be
In Moscow we made it three
Que sera sera

So I'm still grinning.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Sunday was the big day. The Great Manchester Run.

I woke up, childishly excited at 4.45am. By 6am I was ironing my name onto my Cancer Research running vest and pinning on my number. By 7.30am, when Mr Duck Senior, a marathon veteran arrived, I was talking nineteen to the dozen and pacing.

I wasn't due to race till 11am! 'You have to calm down or you'll burn out before we even get there' - he counselled.

It was a perfect day for running - sunny but cool. Mr Duck Senior and JP went to watch from the Cheering Bus, while I headed for the Green start. My phone buzzed with good luck messages that warmed my heart.

I just couldn't stop grinning. It was brilliant. I fired up my iPod as I crossed the start gantry at my normal running pace, despite the temptation to set off like a rocket. The course is very flat, unlike my usual routes at home.

I grinned as I ran down Chester Road.

I grinned as I ran up to Old Trafford.

I sang Viva Ronaldo as I ran through the tunnels around my favourite place in the world.

I grinned as I headed towards the canal and the 5k sign.

I felt fantastic, full of energy and slow! So I abandoned my dad's advice and started to run like a mad eejit.

The spectators were calling my name and cheering. I couldn't believe so many people recognised me. Then it occurred to me, perhaps they were mistaking me for a celebrity presenter who shares my first name. They smiled and waved, so I waved and smiled back.

After 8k and a shower, I finally worked out that they were just reading the name that I'd ironed on at 6 that morning.

I waved at my personal support team on the Cheering Bus, who waved back with giant foam fingers.

I sprinted for the finish and posed for an 'after' photo - still grinning and amazed that my teeth weren't black with flies.

I donned my medal and almost headed back to the start. I felt like going round again.

I was hyper all day Sunday, and not much calmer yesterday. Normality was eventually restored today.

With just a hint of grinning, as I stare at the medal on my desk.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

And For Dessert?

Now I don't want anyone to get the impression that Yummy Mummy and I are the kind of ladies that lunch all the time, but yesterday, with a last minute day off, we went for lunch again - SomewhereNormal this time, after last month's experience.

YM is bemoaning the pressures on the local Chlamydia Coordinator, in the current climate of public sector targets, not to mention what's expected of the Condom Coordinator*.

I am struggling with the very fact that these are real job titles and ponder the interesting conversation stoppers they could provide at dinner parties, when the inevitable 'and what line of work are you in?' question is raised.

Her work life is so much more interesting than mine, as I keep pointing out. The sexual universe of the under 25s is an utterly alien world, as becomes clearer every time we discuss this.

She then fishes in her handbag and hands me a small, bright orange tube. Now, I don't generally wear my glasses outside work, so I'm holding it aloft and peering closely to read the words on the side, when the waitress appears to clear our plates and then smiles.

At this point, the words 'Fresh Peach-flavoured Water-based Lubricating Gel' finally come into focus.

Hastily, I thrust the tube behind my back. 'God, you're behaving like a naughty schoolgirl,' - YM teases. 'It's perfectly normal'.

'There's 12 flavours including Bubblegum Blast, but that's in a pillow, not in a reusable tube, so it's not very environmentally friendly.'

'Yes, I can see why that would be important, with the Government's green agenda' - I reply, not actually seeing at all. In truth, I haven't yet gone beyond why there needs to be 12 flavours.

* Remind me to tell you one day about the Postman and the Trail of Condoms.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering?

It was the usual Sunday morning Match Of The Day ritual. JP commenting in a stream of factual yet inconsequential narrative and Tiddler gawping idiotically, with one hand down the front of his pyjamas.

JP plots, plans and exercises his rather scary intellect memorising the Periodic Table and remembering exactly what he has eaten for the past 7.5 years. Tiddler giggles when someone says the word fart and is fascinated with his willie.

'Who wants Flake icecream?' I asked yesterday. Tiddler's two hands shoot up.

JP then waves his legs in the air as well. 'I've got 4 legs up, so I want more than Tiddler'.

'I've got 5 up including my widgie', announces Tiddler, trumping JP and earning himself an extra scoop.

'They're Pinky and the Brain!' remarked Mr Duck in a perfect, revelatory moment of clarity.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Virginity #2

Losing your virginity has been covered by me before, and yesterday, I'm proud to say, was Tiddler's turn.

For the last home game of the season, Tiddler came with me to OT for his very first game. He has been going to see the Mersey Reds with Mr. Duck and JP of late and has been sporting a Gerrard shirt and singing 'Fernando Torres, Liverpool's number 9' in lieu of 'we all know that Johnny is going to score'.

This was effectively damning me to a life sentence of going to the Theatre of Dreams alone. Not exactly a stretch in Strangeways, I know, but sharing the experience with my son and not having to rely on Amazing Dave to take me when I'm an OAP, was something I have been dreaming of since JP and Tiddler were born. I grew up in a family of Mersey Reds and then married one. It couldn't be my misfortune to rear two as well, could it?

It was utterly brilliant. He pored over his programme, munched his way through a big picnic and it was my delight to thrust him aloft in his United shirt for each of the four goals. My fellow fans welcomed him, tousled his hair and shook his hand, as we marched imperiously towards retaining the Premiership crown.

I took him pitchside for the lap of honour. The proximity of the Great and the Good, smiling and waving just for us, or so it seemed, hopefully secured a corner of his Tiddler heart for the future. He may never share my passion and OT may never be the one place in the world where he feels truly alive, as I do, but as we walked back to the car, eating chips and gravy and singing Viva Ronaldo, I felt a small flicker of what I recognised as hope. Life is good.