Sunday, 23 June 2013

It's all in the name...


I don’t watch the box, and I don’t properly read the newspapers (too depressing dah-ling).  However, I do skim the bylines and sometimes linger over photographs.  And on Friday I couldn’t help noticing that somebody called Kim Kardashian, a reality star, has given birth to her first child, a little girl. News of a birth always gives a warm, fuzzy feeling, whether the baby belongs to celebrities or Mr and Mrs Smith down the road.  Whenever somebody we know has a baby, our first words are those of congratulations, usually followed up by, ‘What are you going to call him/her?’
          It’s usually at this point that we say, ‘Gosh, that’s a lovely name,’ even if we privately think yeuch.  But you know, even names that are a bit yeuch are more preferable to names that are totally ridiculous.  And when I read that proud parents Kim Kardashian and her partner Kanye West have called their baby ‘North’, I actually found myself re-reading the byline.  Surely that was a mis-print?  Surely they meant Nora?  Or Norma?  But no, it was definitely North.  So...with her father’s surname...that meant this new arrival’s name was North West.  A compass point.  Well isn’t she going to have fun being teased at school!
          I’m not quite sure what planet some celebrities are on when their newborn arrives.  Are the mothers, perchance, still hormonal and not thinking straight?  Hollywood actress Gwyneth Paltrow called her baby Apple.  No doubt Gwyneth was beaming at her newborn and thinking, ‘She’s the apple of my eye.’  Unfortunately the rest of us just think of a green Granny Smith.  Actor Sylvestor Stallone and his wife named their son Sage Moonblood – which conjures up a red moon covered in leaves.  Michael Jackson had a son called Blanket.  Visions of an electric blanket on a cold winter’s night spring to mind.  And Bob Geldoff has three daughters that I swear he possibly mistook for poodles.  Why else would you call them Fifi Trixibelle, Peaches and Pixie?
          I’m just waiting for some wag, or should I say WAG, to name their child Banana, Duvet, Happy Clappy Sunbeam or Sat Nav.  Nothing would surprise me.  There are also some rather funny surnames out there, but there’s not much we can do about our last name.  I can still remember somebody reading my surname upside down and thinking I was Mrs Viagra.  Which reminds me, have you tried that new beverage, Viagraccino?  One cup and you’re up all night...

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Happy Father's Day!


Today, in the UK, it is Father’s Day.  This is a day of celebrating the love we (hopefully!) have for our fathers, but also our husbands who may be fathers too.  However, celebrated days like this one can be a bit of a double-edged sword if your father, or the father of your children, is no longer in this world.  Whilst I’m very lucky to still have my father, my children are not so fortunate.  So for them, they will be thinking of their dad with a tear in their eye.  However, they are fortunate to have a step-father who has been very good to them.  And to show their love and appreciation, later on this afternoon we shall treat my father and Mr V to an excellent lunch at the local Italian restaurant.
          Have you noticed that the card shops now do a Happy Father’s Day from the cat card?  And naturally, if you have a pooch, there is a card to be bought on behalf of the mutt too.  Dear Dad, here is your pipe, and here are your slippers, sorry one is chewed, and the other resembles shredded flippers, love from your faithful hound.
          Our pooch is nearly twelve years old.  It would be fair to say it has taken Mr V ten of those years to bond with her.  So when our cat, Dolly, joined the family a few months ago, she was very much on the starting line for winning my husband’s affection.  Not that she hasn’t tried.  It’s just that her idea of endearing habits aren’t shared by the head of the household.  Like curling up on the suit my husband had carelessly flung across the bed... and covering it in hair.  Or pouncing on his socks...with toes still inside.  Or shimmying up legs... whilst wearing flimsy cotton pyjamas.
          I’m not one to watch television, but last Thursday the newspaper headlined an experiment with cats wearing tiny cameras and trackers on their collars.  The idea was to monitor where a moggy went after jumping through the cat flap.  As Dolly has just started venturing outside, I was quite keen to watch the programme.  Mr V managed to pause The Sopranos for a full five minutes in order for me to watch a bit about feline behaviour.  And just when it got to the interesting bit, he pressed the remote control button and man with the weirdest hair-do I’ve ever seen (dark brown with side silver panels) filled the screen.    Anyway, I digress.
          What I did learn from my five minute viewing, is that the average female cat only strays fifty metres from her home.  Which was music to my ears as I’ve been totally neurotic about Dolly (a) getting lost or (b) finding the road and getting...let’s not go there.  Suffice to say Dolly hasn’t actually ventured out of the garden, preferring instead to spy on sparrows or chase gnats, leaves, and the dog’s tail, but not necessarily in that order.  And as neither the cat or dog are drivers, I will take a trip to the local card shop and buy a Father’s Day card on their behalf.
          Meanwhile, if you want to tell your father a joke on Father’s Day, try this one:
          Teacher (on phone): You say Michael has a cold and can’t come to school today?  To whom am I speaking?
          Voice: This is my father...

Sunday, 9 June 2013

We're All Going on a Summer Holiday


The summer holiday is FINALLY booked.  Talk about lastminute.com, but at least we can now rest assured that ten days will be ours within the beautiful island of Crete.
          The last time I visited Rethymnon was 24 years ago with my first husband.  I still have a clear memory of walking the Samaria Gorge, a little under ten miles of stones, stones, and more stones, hopping across the river several times over as it threaded its way through a breathtaking landscape.
          ‘How marvellous,’ I gushed to Mr V, ‘we can walk the Samaria Gorge.  We mustn’t forget to pack our hiking boots.’
          My husband looked horrified.  ‘You can do what you like,’ he put his hands up in a backing off gesture, ‘but I’m doing nothing other than lying horizontal on the beach.’
          Well perhaps I’ll persuade him to go for a walk along the beach instead.  It is, after all, the longest in Crete and stretches a distance of some three miles.  There is something blissfully peaceful about leaving footprints in sand and listening to the ocean whooshing backwards and forwards.
          And hopefully the holiday will be drama free.  Unlike one previous holiday where my son went back to the apartment to use the loo, left the keys inside and slammed the door shut as he strolled back to the pool.
          ‘Did you remember the keys?’ asked my husband.
          Cue hysterics of the unfunny kind as Robbie paled at the implications of us being locked out.  One hour later my husband was dangling from a neighbour’s knotted sheets while a Spanish lady and I grimly hung on from the balcony above.  There was a horrible crash and the knotted sheets suddenly went slack.  I stared in horror at the Spanish lady and said, ‘I’m a bit squeamish, would you mind terribly looking over the balcony for me?’  ‘No, no,’ she protested, ‘or I vomit.  We do together.’  My husband was star-fished out on a demolished plastic table.  But he did live to see another day.
          Or the time our children took it upon themselves to rescue a frog that a group of Spanish children were tormenting.  This resulted in an almighty ding-dong between me and the children’s mother, even though neither of us could understand a word the other was saying.
          Or the time my daughter had a ten foot wave crash down on her and I ran into the sea to save her – doing the breaststroke.
          Or the time we drove to a Spanish village for a meal but spent hours trying to leave the place, driving over and over down the same street until I was convinced we’d stumbled upon the set of The Prisoner.  We got home at four in the morning.
          Meanwhile I’m embracing what appears to be the start of British summertime and will later wheel out the barbecue from the garage and cremate a few bangers and burgers.  The fact that we will still be wearing jeans and sweaters is neither here nor there.  The main thing is we won’t also be wearing coats, scarves and gloves.
          Which reminds me.  What is the definition of an English summer?  Three hot days and a thunderstorm...

Sunday, 2 June 2013

La Streisand


Last night had been much anticipated for months.  Barbra Streisand was playing at the O2 Arena and my father, sister and I just happened to have tickets. The fact that these tickets had cost us mumble mumble pounds and weren’t even in the front row, was neither here nor there.  This woman was a legend.  A superstar.  When I was growing up, I devoured all her films and had a collection of her songs.  While other women wanted to look like Cindy Crawford, I wanted to look like Barbra Streisand.  I grew a fairly impressive nose in my teens, but that was where any similarity ended.

Just before we were leaving for the O2, a drama contact said she had some free places in front of the stage, and I was lucky enough to secure a couple of seats.  I immediately rang my son and said, ‘If you want to see an icon, get yourself over to the O2 now.’  I heard a startled squawk and the call disconnected.  Thirty minutes later Rob and his other half were there, seven rows from the stage and sitting next to Graham Norton and other ‘faces’.  My sister, when she found out, was furious.  ‘Fancy not letting us sit there.’  My sister has never had children and doesn’t understand that when it comes to your kids you sacrifice all.  She was still grumbling about it when we were puffing our way up the steps to Level Four – the area where numerous printed signs warn of the seats not being suitable for vertigo sufferers.
          ‘How much further?’ Janice asked.
          ‘Keep going,’ I said grimly.
          ‘How much further now?’
          ‘Almost there.’
          ‘But we’re practically touching the ruddy roof of the O2!’
          ‘Er, yes, that’s our seat up there.’
          ‘The very top row?’
          ‘Yes.’
          ‘We paid all this money for the highest row in the O2?’
          ‘Yes.’
          ‘And to think we could have been on the ground floor.  Unbelievable.  I can’t see a thing up here.  Did you bring binoculars?’
          But at that moment I was incapable of answering my sister’s question because, as I made my way along the very narrow platform to my seat, I’d had the misfortune to look down.  Suddenly the O2 tilted on its axis.  Forget experiencing a hot flush.  At that moment my entire body went into meltdown.  I clung onto the back of plastic seats as I edged, inch by inch, along the platform. My palms were so sweaty, they’d have been virtually useless at gripping anything if I’d tripped or fallen.  And then, ahead, another nightmare loomed.  A little gathering of people were standing up, pressed back against the wall so that we could squeeze past them.  My father seemed to think this was all terribly funny and laughed his head off as I shuffled along the ledge at a snail’s pace.  My sister was still fuming which was doing wonders for averting any vertigo of her own.  I reached the point of having to work my way around the people and instead ground to a halt.
          ‘I’m terribly sorry,’ I croaked, ‘but I don’t think I can move.’
          ‘Yes you can dear,’ said a little old lady of about ninety.  She took my hand and helped me along the ledge all the while assuring, ‘You won’t fall dear, and if you do I’ll catch you.’  I thanked her from the bottom of my heart and cracked a small smile.  Angels come in many guises.
          And thus we were finally in our seats.  I clung on to the sides of mine until the Arena stopped rocking about and by the time La Streisand came on stage, the vertigo had gone.  I was in my own private bubble.  And I could see her perfectly – I had my specs on!  What a voice, and how fabulous did she look?  We met her sister and they sang a duet together.  Her son, Jason, also came on stage and, again, there was another duet.  Barbra also sang with a trumpet player and a young violinist whose talent went off the radar.  There were songs from musicals and Yentl, and of course classics like Evergreen and the more bouncy No More Tears which, back in 1979 Barbra sang with disco queen Donna Summer.
          And now you must excuse me.  I have a sudden urge to listen to the great lady singing.  Perhaps you’d like to listen too?