Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Definition of sad ... and how 'eight times three equals six!'

School run in the morning is currently a slaloming, throwing-the-children-and-cellos-around-in-the-back-of-the-car, break jumping and hence stop-starting, sharply indrawing of breath and shouting of "You stupid birds!", hair-raising activity, owing to an apparent surplus (?) of suicidal pheasants. The chaps see you coming, wait ... wait a bit longer, ruffle their tail feathers in a 'you might not be there in a moment sort of a way,' wait ... puff out their chests ... and step off the verge onto the road. Is this a stiff-upper-beak way of saying to the others, "No, you have my share of the food, lads - there isn't enough for us all"; or is it bloody mindedness - the pheasant version of the game 'chicken'; or could it just be the pheasant-Gump version of 'stoopid is as stooopid does'!?

It's usually the men - who slowly and with stately air glance along their beak at you, as everything hits the windscreen, school bags empty themselves all over the car floor, and you pray that you had checked there wasn't another car behind you, and don't breathe for the few seconds that confirm there wasn't.

Today, however we drove round a bend and were greeted by a sad sight. Truly sad.

We don't see the little pheasant ladies as often as the chaps, but when we do, they often make us laugh. They run around busily all over the road. Gossiping to each other. Pecking at things. Ducking. Fluffing their wings. Running in circles - "Have I said hello? Hello, I'm Phoebe. Oh, there's Polly? Hi! Hello Polly! I'm coming! Hello, Polly - look there's Poppy. Quick Poppy - wait! I'm coming! Hello Poppy - look there's Polly. Hi! Polly! Wait! I'm coming Polly. Hello Polly - shall we go and say hello to Poppy? ..."

Unfortunately, their flighty nature makes them rather more difficult to avoid than the male pheasants.And the sad little picture we saw today, was a squashed member of the pheasant ladies' rural institute. being pecked at by a couple of crows. Standing over her, forlorn and watching, was her little friend.She was the physical embodiment of the word sad - little 'shoulders' drooped, head hung low. Stationary! No doubt (but probably not!) thinking, "Hello?... Polly? Oh deeeeear, Polly's gone. I'm hello-ing in ever decreasing circles."


So, to lift the mood after this gloomy tale and in an abrupt change of subject - we were revising the eight times table in the car this morning, before we saw the sorry scene above.
And I will never cease to be amazed by the acrobatic skills of a child's mind, particularly one who isn't very good at maths. Asked what is eight times three, Littlest replied confidently, after a minute or so's calculation, "Six!"

Explanation? ... "I couldn't remember, so I started counting in threes - 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18 ... and there's an eight in eighteen, and eighteen divided by three is ... six!........!"



Sunday, 13 May 2012

Awkward turtle

Awkward turtle ... not know what I mean? Oooh, lucky you.

Picture this - hold your hands out in front of you, palms facing the floor; place one hand on top of the other and curl fingers over; thumbs should remain parallel to the floor and at 90 degrees to the hands; then start to roll thumbs in a forward-turning, circular, pedalling motion: this is the 'awkward turtle'. Ask any teenager and they will demonstrate an array of other awkward animals - from 'awkward giraffe' to 'awkward frog' - in fact, be prepared to face a menagerie of awkward beasts that will sneak rudely into conversations, or encroach on your peripheral vision when things get ... well? - just a bit uncomfortable in the social, conversational department.




Frequent awkward turtles include


  • chatting happily to a friend - one who you see on an almost daily basis outside school, who you have met for coffee, played tennis with, and (let's make this as bad as possible) have not only enjoyed dinners with, but have also shared the cost of a holiday cottage with. A new acquaintance approaches, the mum of the new girl in your daughter's class, and (if you know me, you've probably guessed already what happens next) introductions are required. Do you remember the name of the new girl's mum - miraculously, yes! - of your 'best' friend - of course not. Roll on the awkward turtle, generously proffered by child in corner. Your child. Whose name you sometimes remember.
  • children are the principle fans of this one - wind from above or below, that can't be blamed on the dog
  • that email that somehow says something entirely different from what you had intended - oops! picture awkward turtle inside head, or lurking somewhere above the head of the person you sent it to
  • anything misheard, mispronounced or generally misunderstood
  • and finally - for now anyway - the worst, most embarrassing, dig-me-a-hole-now-and-I'll-jump-into-it-sooner-than-immediately awkward turtle; the one where faced with a curmudgeonly relative who is bent on spoiling the party/dinner/picnic you decide that it's time to tell a joke. Bear in mind that you are not known for your joke-telling skills. Bear in mind too that said curmudgeonly relative has already spoilt the party/dinner/picnic and not even the best joke in the world is going to shift the heavy depression that has now descended on the party/dinner/picnic. And your joke is not the best joke in the world. You start telling it with confidence. And the room goes silent. Your confidence starts to wane. When curmudgeonly relative looks at you with get-on-with-it-then,-if-you-have-to eyes, it wanes further. Your voice starts to falter. You realise you had no idea your confidence could wane so low. You have two choices - stop now ... or soldier on. You soldier on. Curmudgeonly relative roars "Speak up!" Your hands are shaking. Beads of sweat prick your brow. What's the ending? What is it? Start to panic. Everyone's watching. You hiss out the punch-line ... There is no silence as complete as a silent room filled with silent people who silently go "Aaah - not very funny" inside their heads. You can almost hear the turtles furiously cycling your children's hands at the party/dinner/picnic.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Fiddlee-diddlee ... walking

In the time that it takes to walk Littlest and Four-legged-friend, it might be possible to read a novel, compose an entire symphony, solve the Eurozone crisis, define the underlying difference between the male and female mind - but perhaps I exaggerate, if only a little.The problem is that our Fidlee-diddlee-aye (otherwise known as Littlest) - who declared recently that fiddling with things in her own room was boring - has become a Fiddlee-diddlee-walker.

First, it's picking flowers time


Then, throwing bread into the stream for Four-legged-friend time (actually, this is not strictly speaking a Fiddlee-diddlee activity, as I was in charge of the bread and we had planned to do this anyway)


Climbing trees time follows


and hiding in the crop time


and 'No, you go under, I go over' time.


Next it's 'You can't catch me' time (which hurries us along for a bit, until she starts running in the wrong direction).


Almost finally (just as well owing to the soggy socks and wellies) is the 'But puddles are put here for puddling in' time. And let's not forget the 'Flowers make good boats' time.


The grand Fiddlee-diddlee finale is the 'Gathering long bits of grass' time.


He's not the only one thinking 'Can we go home now?'














Sunday, 6 May 2012

He revision: needs parental ... man-hunt

"I'm just going out - to walk and recite my German oral - I may be some time."

This said at approximately 8.10pm as son disappeared out of the door. Dinner served at 8.40pm (ten minutes later than planned, having given up waiting for him). Son's dinner gets cold.

9.15pm realise it's really quite dark. Text son, no reply. Phone son, transfers to answering machine. Pulse quickens. Go outside into the garden and shout his name several times. Four-legged-friend starts to bark. As do several other, more distant dogs.

Four-legged-friend and I go for a walk to look for son and promptly slide down a muddy slope on our knees.

It's very dark.

Imagination now several paces ahead of me - has he put his foot down a rabbit hole, walked to his girlfriend's, met someone who has bought him a drink in the pub, fallen into the rain swollen river, tripped up and landed in a ditch.

Pause with Four-legged-friend at a stile and phone - no, he's not at his girlfriend's and not home yet, either. How do you find someone in the dark? Shout again. And village dogs start to bark again.

Decide to walk on. Getting wet and cold now and torch not as bright.

Phone rings.

He's home. His mobile phone in his bedroom all the time.


Is there a moral to this tale? - probably not. Boys will be boys. He probably won't take his phone or torch with him the next time either.

Did I over-react? I think its called being a mother, al-be-it one with a rather over active imagination, but not until I stop being his mother will I stop caring, and that's never going to happen.

Four-legged-friend, on the other hand, was very happy with his night time adventure. And not a bit worried about anything. That's if you don't count those other dogs who were barking too. It was a bit like the twilight bark in the cartoon version of 101 Dalmations - anydog seen a lanky chap, pacing the fields and talking to himself in German?