Saturday, 30 June 2012

Look Into My Eyes

They say that eyes are the windows to the soul.  That when you look into a person’s eyes you can tell in a nano-second whether they are clean-living, kind and generous of spirit.  Well anybody peering at my peepers right now would deduce me to be of a suspicious nature with a penchant for jammy doughnuts.  Because that’s what they resemble.  Two puffy slits with bright red centres.

It all started off with hayfever and a dose of itchy eyes.  Within 24 hours I felt as though somebody had chucked a bucket of gravel at them.  The optician prescribed some drops.  And yesterday, when my eyes were so dry it was like blinking against sandpaper, a nice pharmacist suggested a bottle of lubricating jollop. 

So last night I went to bed with my eyelashes coated in oily gunk.  The eyeballs finally felt a bit more comfortable.  By morning the lids were welded together and I was convinced I’d gone blind in the night.  Somewhere along the way conjunctivitis had set in. 

Right now my in-laws are visiting.  I want to be entertaining and looking my best!  Not wearing a grimace and wrap-around sunglasses.  The sunnies are all well and good during daylight.  But it’s not such a fab look at night.  Whilst out yesterday evening, I attempted passing myself off as mysterious.  My daughter gave a mirthless laugh and suggested dodgy instead.  Mr V is calling me Roy.  As in Orbison.

Ah well.  It could be worse.  At least eye infections do eventually heal.  As one person quipped:  ‘ – isn’t that a site for sore eyes?’

Sunday, 24 June 2012

What happens when you leave your teenager and her boyfriend together?

Yesterday evening my daughter begged for her boyfriend to come over.  ‘But it’s Saturday night,’ I said, ‘and they’ll be nobody else at home.’  My teenager glared at me.  The words being left alone together hung, unspoken, in the air.  ‘Don’t you trust me?’ she snapped.

So we went out.  And trusted them.  It’s a funny old world.  You can torment yourself with a whole list of things that will happen while you’re out.  Apart from the sex-drugs-and-rock’n’roll thing, there’s also parties put on Facebook and coming home to find a house trashed; trying out driving your car whilst under-aged/unlicensed/uninsured; or even drinking your cocktail cabinet dry (although in our case it contains just the one bottle of ancient Egyptian vodka – at least it did when I last looked).  But never in a million years could I have guessed what was really going on while I sat and attempted concentration on a film called The Five Year Engagement.  And no, I can’t tell you what the film was about because of said brain being elsewhere.  But it did feature a giant pink bunny making the odd (very odd) appearance and an unappetising love interest in the form of Rhys Evans.  Anyway.  Back to what was really going on at home.

Okay.  As soon as the key went in the front door, I was aware of deathly silence.  And a very funny smell.  Wacky backy?  No.  Gas.  And I’m not talking about the dog’s rear end.  This was British Gas.  And lots of it.  I ran into the kitchen, turned off an unlit burner and then threw open the windows and doors.  ‘Don’t turn on any lights,’ I screamed to Mr V, who naturally did just that.  Fortunately the house didn’t implode.

The teenager and the boyfriend were upstairs.  In her bedroom.  Blissfully unaware we were home.  Or of leaking gas.  Or anything other than the no-good they were up to.  Yes.  My daughter had pierced her boyfriend’s ear.  ‘Is that all?’ I hear you sigh.  Well I’m not entirely sure how well this is going to sit with the boyfriend’s parents.  Firstly – and no offence to any men out there with pierced ears/lips/noses/eyebrows/tongues/nipples – I hate piercings on men.  Okay, if it dongs their gong, all well and good.  But I don’t like it.  And I have a feeling that the boyfriend’s parents don’t like it.  So not only are they going to be a teeny bit cross, but it’s not exactly going to endear my daughter to them either.

And the reason for the gas?  Because my daughter had ‘sterilised’ a needle from my sewing box over the hob.  Except she’d had it in her head that you gassed a needle rather than held it in a flame.  So much for all the extra private science lessons we’re paying for.  And such was their eagerness to get on with the job, she neglected to turn the gas off afterwards.

Still, I must look on the bright side.  The house is still standing.  And nobody is hurt.  Other than the boyfriend’s sore ear.  Which reminds me.  How much do pirates pay to get their ears pierced?  A buccaneer...

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Happy Father’s Day!

Being a parent is a tough task.  Even more so if you are a full-time step-parent.  My husband should know.  He has effectively raised my two children (their father is deceased) and consequently taken a road he most certainly never dreamt he would one day travel. 

They say the path of true love never runs smoothly.  That is never more bang on the mark when step-children are in the equation.  Young children are affectionately called little monsters.  But what about when they grow older?  Yes, they become big monsters!  But a step-parent never dare utter those words. A step-parent has to let a lot of stuff go right over their head.

‘You’re not my real father!’ is a favourite accusation when a heated teenage tantrum is in full swing.  But equally that chippy teenager will seek out their step-father to hide behind if I’m on the warpath, verbal guns blazing.  My children have rejected their step-father, loved their step-father, shouted at him, cried on his shoulder, pushed him away, and hugged him.  Today they are spoiling him, and rightly so, with cards and presents.  It’s their way of saying, ‘Thank you for being there for me when my own Dad isn’t.’

Johann Schiller said, 'It is not flesh and blood but the heart which makes us fathers and sons.'  

So to all fathers and step-fathers out there – here’s to you!  Happy Father’s Day.  And if you are still struggling with ideas on what to buy your dad, have a last minute whip-round and purchase the ultimate gift.  A Sat-Nav.  Why?  I’ll give you a clue:  What are you never likely to hear your dad say?  The answer is, ‘Good heavens, I do believe we’re lost.  We must stop and ask for directions.’  And if funds don't quite stretch, instead buy him a pair of blue tights to wear under his underpants and simply tell him he's your super hero...

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Jumping on the Kindle Bandwagon

After months of procrastinating, I’ve finally bought a Kindle.  As I walked self-consciously out of PC World with my boxed Kindle in its I'm-a-techie carrier bag, I did wonder if I’d done the right thing.  You see, I'm definitely not a techie.  And I also love books.  As in proper books.  You know, made of paper with a spine that creases if you bend it back and pages that come unglued when you drop it in the bath.  Not that I’ve dropped a book in the bath for years.  Chance would be a fine thing.  But you know what I mean.  Anyway, I digress. 

I’m an author of novels available as e-books, so it seemed faintly ridiculous not to own a handbag-sized e-reading gadget.  Now that I’m a ‘Kindler’ I can take advantage of all those wonderful free downloads that periodically pop up on Amazon.  Indeed I’ve had a pleasurable time trawling through freebies, looking inside, having a bit of a read and umming and ahhing whether to download or not.  It’s been a bit like browsing in a bookstore, except in the comfort of my own home.  That said, Waterstones have just done a deal with Amazon and in the not too distant future e-readers will be able to browse electronic books in this favourite bookshop – clearly a sign of the times as far as the electronic book publishing industry is concerned.

So far I’ve downloaded about twenty books.  Twenty proper books would be weighty, take up space on an already overcrowded bookshelf and, once read, gather dust.  I can't help marvelling that twenty novels are sitting within this pencil thin gadget.  And it's so easy to read.  No eye-straining glowing screens.  It's just a book!  I’m totally sold!

Of course, you'll always have somebody who won't like making the transition.  For example, did you hear about the two dogs who loved chewing things they shouldn’t?  One chewed a Kindle while the other chewed a paperback.  The former said, ‘Don’t know about you, but I still prefer a real book.’

When the dogs’ owners returned home the husband said to his wife, ‘Oh no, isn’t that your Kindle in Fred’s mouth?’  The wife said, ‘That’s okay, let him have it, he’s a Golden E-Reader.’  Okay, I’m going...

Sunday, 3 June 2012

A Bit of a (Royal) Do

I’m a bit of a royalist.  I mean, the Queen has been around for as long as I’ve lived and some more.  She’s part of all that is British.  She’s like fish and chips, a cup of tea, or a rainy day in a British summer.  In other words, the monarch is part of the fabric of life.  Whatever you think about the Queen or, indeed, the Royal family, I do believe she’s one amazing woman and that her reign of sixty years is something to celebrate.  So later on today I will be dishing up the Sunday roast upon a dining room table covered with a paper version of the Union Jack flag.  There will be red, white and blue serviettes and red, white and blue flowers as a centrepiece.  We shall raise a glass to Her Majesty and then finish off with coffee and red, white and blue cupcakes.  Happy Diamond Jubilee Your Majesty!