Monday, June 23, 2008

Football Matters and Size Matters

5.57am - 'Children are smaller than their mums and dads, but some dogs are bigger than children'.

I'm sensing it's a rhetorical question and offer no response.

Blackout linings and blinds are no deterrent to a determined Tiddler, who knows it's morningtime much earlier in June than in winter. Either that or he's in league with the Birds to make my early mornings a misery.

The Little Ducks have been totally gripped by Euro 2008 - sticker books, charts, learning Portuguese (United fans) and Spanish (Mersey Reds), but mostly from comics, so I'm not planning to ditch the phrase books just yet. They've been staying up later than usual as well to watch the first half hour of the evening games, and their first questions of the day have been, who won, who scored, which minute... (apart from at 5.57 today).

It's heartening that for them, the football is everything. As far as I can tell, most of the country is ignoring the tournament without an England team's presence. As a Welsh person, I have yet to see my national team qualify for a tournament, but never let it stop me watching.

Tiddler had a second friendly game last week, and my first chance to cheer him live. It was fantastic. The opposition turned up in full matching kit - warm-up routines at the ready and a girl! 'They're a feeder club for a local League 2 side' - confided another parent.

I needn't have worried. Our Tiddlers were 3-0 up inside 10 minutes and 5-0 up at half-time. It was just like watching Brazil. Now, on some level, seeing opposition faces drop each time our striker got the ball, you want him to slip up. You want them to get a goal back, because they're 5 and 6 years old and this is a friendly. But then you remember that this is football and scream till you're hoarse.

Our coaches had a stronger sense of what's right than the crowd and substituted Tiddler and 2 others at half time. The game ended 6-2, and I tried to feel happy for both teams.

We then had a penalty shootout, with everyone having a go from both sides. Our keeper saved 8 penalties - yes E-I-G-H-T. Our boys put most of theirs away.

There is an air of expectancy around the ground. The coaches sense that this could be a special group. There's potential with a capital P, and our Tiddler is part of it. I will definitely be getting a season ticket for this.

In other news. We are moving house at the weekend, so there may be some service interruption for a short while. Please talk among yourselves.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Talisman of Superstition

I got a tearful phone call from Yummy Mummy on Friday, as I waited outside her house for a post-school cuppa.

When she appeared a minute later sporting a bloody face, and leading a sobbing child, it was clear something was amiss.

She had tripped on the pavement while holding the girls' hands to cross the road and basically headbutted it with her face, which was bleeding and swelling by turn.

After an application of Germolene, Birds Eye pea compresses and hot sweet tea in a lidded cup with a spout, we realised it was Friday 13th.

'But I'm not superstitious,' bemoaned YM.

And THAT, Alanis Morrisette, IS ironic.

But it did set me thinking.

If you’re not superstitious and something bad happens on the so-called fateful date, do smug astrologers around the world punch the air with delight? Or is it even more sinister?

Perhaps bad things only happen to non-believers on Friday 13th and the believers are protected by the Talisman of Superstition, which makes them extra vigilant. Maybe Friday 13th is their big recruitment drive? I am considering a precautionary Rabbit’s Foot, if I can bring myself to get near one.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Separated by a Language

Before we left Iowa, we went to recycle everything we'd used over the weekend. As we pulled up in the pick-up, I noticed a big sign.

Clarinda Cheerleaders Can Drive.

Now this puzzled me. Can they? I thought.

I couldn't see why it was such a big deal. Do cheerleaders have a hard time mastering the art of driving? Was it a mass promotion to encourage the pom-pommed teens of Clarinda to take the wheel? Was the sleepy mid-west town so devoid of news that this was the best they could come up with? Given that there had been a mini-tornado only 3 days previously, I doubted that this was the case.

When Lizzie returned to the car, I had to ask for enlightenment. She pointed to the large cage of recycled aluminium cans in front of the sign, unable to speak over the sound of her own laughter.

I was still muttering over this the following day at Newark airport when I realised that I'd left my jersey in Omaha and would freeze on the plane back home without it, so I went to buy a new one. Helpfully they had labelled the clothes in English, so I got what I needed without the need for a translator this time.

Update: July 2009

And just to prove it, here are the Cheerleaders retrieving their cans.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Playing Twister Naked with Dead Cats - (Sort Of)

From New Orleans to Omaha to Iowa and Lizzie's farm on Friday, to find that a mini Tornado had hit on Thursday night, destroying a couple of buildings. The big workshop was a mangled pile of steel about 30 yards from its original position, with its contents strewn across the fields, and a smaller shed ended up half a mile away in the sorghum field. The damage wasn't on a par with the devastation I saw in New Orleans, but my friends literally built this farm themselves. Seeing months of work destroyed in one night, less than 24 hours from when we were due to arrive was very sobering, but not enough to prevent us sitting on the porch, drinking wheat beer and listening to the frog chorus from the lake by the cabin.

Saturday was spent retrieving tools and furniture and other assorted wind-blown objects, and in the evening we had a Jedi-style funeral pyre for three kittens who didn't make it through the storm.

Early Sunday morning, while talking to the Little Ducks across the Pond, I spotted wild turkeys over the ridge. Lizzie called to Andre, who set off after them with his gun in only his skimpy underpants, in his haste to bag a bird. The turkeys took one look and shot off before he could.