Monthly Archives: December 2012

Silent Night

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sleepThere is NO silence in my house at night. In fact at the moment it is a cacaphony of shouts for Mummy, Daddy, milk, water, sofa, pee pee and last night, helicopter.
In terms of children’s excitment at Christmas our house must rank pretty low, as you’ll know from this post. So WHY are they not sleeping? I haven’t been a parent in a Christian country so I really don’t know how you do it. Hats off to you. Do you sedate the kids, slip them some mulled wine at bedtime or just threaten, Santa’s not coming/Santa will come back and reclaim his gifts?
After 4 and a half years of disturbed sleep I am getting pretty tired. As one outgrew waking in the night the other two started in stereo. Whatever the books, ‘well meaning'(?!) other parents, websites and common sense tell you, sometimes the infamous bedtime routine, cry it out technique etc etc just doesn’t work – yeah there you go know-it-alls I said it. I’ve done them all and once you think you’ve cracked it and have a few weeks of peace another phase in their development starts and sleep is disturbed once more.
Anywhere between 3am and 5am right now is a Christmas party in itself; a musical beds, game of Twister medley.

Who’s that sleeping in myyyy bed?twister

Who’s put me in a head lock?

Why am I in a head lock?

Why is your toe up your brother’s nose?

Is that pee or water on the sheet?

Are we being burgaled or is that a 2 year old in the living room?

Why am I lying on the bedroom floor?

SILENCE PLEASE!

just for a few hours, you know, when its dark and you’re wearing pyjamas and you’re in bed – its called sleep and we could all benefit from a little. Thank you.

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Do they know its Christmas?

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christmas party

Ingredients for a successful Christmas party:

 
Daylight, all the best Christmas parties take place during the day (no hangover the following day)

Too much food; turkey, stuffing, sprouts and roasties a must.

Too much drink, of the alcoholic variety. Bubbles or heated or both preferable

Slightly tipsy dancing in living rooms using small children as a ruse to cover the ridiculousness of dancing in living rooms.

Comedy clothing – what’s cute on 3 year olds does not necessarily work on over 18s but it is Christmas. Pets should also be dressed appropriately.

General joie de vivre. If in doubt go to a friend’s house so not to be involved in squabbles.

Band Aid and/or Shaky, Mariah Carey and Cliff Richard. The more warm wine you imbibe the better they sound.

Outpourings of love – hugging at random.

Inability to leave AKA out staying your welcome

 
A fine set of Jewish friends and their families provided all the above at the weekend and as the only Christian in da house I have to say it was one of the best Christmas bashes I’ve been to. And there was me thinking Christmas would be a non event this year.
Do they know its Christmas in Israel? In the main no, why would they care? But the message of glad tidings, the sharing of a bit of joy and any excuse for a party certainly made a lot of people happy this weekend. Whatever the religion.

Merry Christmas everyone!

 

 

 

 

Here’s Looking at You, Ma

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mateus-roseLast week I saw some long lost photos of my family circa 1978. We are not a photo family; my parents’ house has only started resembling a family art gallery since the arrival of the grandchildren; when we were growing up the walls, sideboards, and mantelpiece were photo free. As a result these photos were long consigned to a box in the loft and only get an airing every decade or so.

One of the photos is a picture of my parents with my brother and myself at around the same age as my kids are now (my sister came much later), so of course I made the obvious leap to compare my life with theirs. The parentals look good; young, fresh faced. The fashions are atrocious and yet somehow current (apart from my brother’s patterned shirt and tie combo) but what drew me to the photo was the image of my Mum;  the woman she was in the picture, not that much younger than I am now. I don’t remember the woman in the photo I was too young, I remember her as she was a few years later, she looked very different – with the 80s came the perm – and she was older and had another child and life had moved on.

I’d like to have known my Mum as she was then, stocking up on superfluous orange and lime tupperware_1green storage containers at the Tupperware party, checking out the neighbour’s house as a member of the babysitting circle, having a chinwag over a glass of Mateus Rose. I wonder if we would have liked each other? I’d love to hear what she said about her 2 small children and to hear her gossip about her husband – actually maybe not the last bit. Like all grandmothers she now says we were model children; we ate what was put in front of us, we slept through the night from 6 months etc etc She professes to not remember us giving her any trouble at all. The memory can do amazing things over time right?! More likely we were also snotty nosed, non-sleeping, fussy, noisy, fear inducing toddlers; most toddlers are, albeit to different degrees.

My children at 40 won’t remember me exactly as I am now, possibly a good thing – sleep deprived and battle weary. They will remember the Mum of their teenage years and the old Mum they will know as adults. 
It would be wise not to forget the people we were when we were young and u-hum carefree, (although I am not sure I was ever carefree, it’s just not in my nature), whether you have children or not. Youth is indeed wasted on the young and as Mr Robbie Williams quite rightly pointed out ‘before you know it, it’s been and gone too soon’.
So in lieu of finding the car from Back to the Future and meeting my Ma from the photo, on today’s to do is to up the Skype activity with the parentals, book a trip back to the UK and recapture some of the pre-children Katie for my childers to meet, I think they might like her.

In Search of a Good Pub Story.

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soho-map
Prologue.
My first full-time job after university was as a runner in London.  Back in the mid-90s the film business in the UK was experiencing a renaissance, successes like Shallow Grave, The Madness of King George, Four Weddings and Trainspotting meant that anything out of the UK was hot and Soho in London was the hub of all that was film and TV.  As a keen, naive runner lugging film canisters and Beta Max tapes from one editing facility to another I was very much on the outskirts of all that was cool – not much chance of me hanging out with Hugh Grant or Ewan McGregor but still it felt pretty good to be where it was ‘at’ for the first and only time in my life (to date).

ThisLifecastThese were the days of the groundbreaking BBC series, This Life, about a group of 20 something lawyers living together in South London.  My friends and I loved that show and I think, thought to a degree we were living it, not that we had the money of trainee lawyers, but that we were in London, house sharing, working, experiencing stuff every day that as newly graduated first jobbers we were just not used to (no matter how hard some tried to convince otherwise).  Age 22 in the big city with no authority – no wonder they made a show about it.

One night I went to a party in the basement of some club at the end of Carnaby Street, I was wearing borrowed pvc spray on trousers (eeugh on all accounts), a sheer sparkly mint green shirt and some unsuitable shoes.  The shoes were unsuitable not because they were too high or too small but because they were the only other pair of shoes I owned outside of my ‘work’ shoes (trainers).   I reckon I thought that the trousers would distract any prospective shoe viewers, I do have long legs.  The only recollection of the party I have is that it was dull, full of people I didn’t know including the ‘friend’ I went there with and way too cool for me, but those were the days when I was so eager to experience everything London had to offer I would have gone to just about anywhere I was invited to, if it were free.

Gratis, I attended screenings of art house unknown films, gigs and comedy shows, Red Lionfootball games, museum exhibits I also spent an inordinate time in the pub – The Old Coffee House in Beak Street and later the Red Lion in Great Windmill Street.  I was determined to squish as much as I could into my life which is pretty hard on less than a hundred quid a month.  The truth is that the other 98.5% of my life was spent at home watching my portable TV wrapped in a duvet to conserve fuel costs.  Fond memories of searching coat pockets for loose change to buy a pint of milk/bag of crisps/ 10 Silk Cut or a bottle of Kwik Save’s wine of the week come flooding back.

The benefit of working in TV and film post production was that a) I wandered around the West End all day in all weathers so would easily pass The Knowledge (the London black cab drivers exam) for that part of London b) My wanderings resulted in many celeb sightings which was pretty incredible for a small town girl like myself c) I felt a part of what was happening, albeit as an inside outsider.  The downside of all this was a) I was paid 100 quid more than the cost of my rent and monthly tube pass b) I was a skivvy to every jumped up musician, director, voice over, actor that set foot in the editing house I worked in and c) I was panicking that my degree was actually a waste of time – who needs a degree to hang around outside an edit suite whilst those inside got drunk, stoned, high and fail to produce the tape I was waiting for.  Remember these were the days of very few mobile phones; internet, email etc were not part of everyday life, Britain had yet to go digital (I was carrying Beta Max tapes for god’s sake) so walking the streets meant you actually looked around you and you couldn’t bitch or brag to your mates at a minute by minute rate.  Makes you pause for thought right?

1997 saw the Vanity Fair Cool Britannia  issue which made everything in Britain suddenly cool britannia - Geriofficially cool – even the Spice Girls and Tony Blair (not so much now).  The magazine was published in March 1997, I left London mid April to travel the world and re-think my career.  When I returned 18 months later I caught the scrap ends of the zeitgeist but the time was over.  Many of my friends had moved on or away and taking the first crappy job that came along as long as it was vaguely related to your career of choice was no longer enough.

The friends I made then are some of the most incredible people I know and in many ways it was an amazing time; the music, the buzz, the feeling of starting out. You can’t replace that. It was also exhausting, mentally demoralising and highly emotional for the group of friends I was part of. We all cared too much about what others thought of us and were trying too hard to look like we didn’t care, after all this was the age of Liam Gallagher. If I’d stayed any longer I could well have imploded, or become an escort to raise the rent money.  Shudder.

Still it all made for a good pub story and at the end of the day that’s all any of us were really after.

and Counting

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40th birthday

Ha ha, had you fooled. Did you think the ruminations would stop post 39? Unlucky (or lucky) for you, the ‘and counting’ might have given it away.  The best part is that I will remain 39 (and counting) in the worldwide web forever.

Thank you, yes I made it and I am still here – making it through 12.12.12 and passing 40 unscathed made for a hectic week.  Quick checklist of the goals I foolishly set myself  last July when I started putting words on the page, lets see:

  1. Realising the dream.  You have to know what the dream is to realize it. 2 out of 10 for effort – I have thought about it.
  2. The novel .  Hmmm well I do write a lot, not that it’s in any structure, nor does it resemble a novel but it’s a start.
  3. Anti-ageing.  I am still waiting for Darphin to send me an enormous selection of free products on the back of the highly flattering words in my post.  My face therefore is still getting older by the day (more so since 15th December) and I think I may be waiting another 40 years before hearing from them.
  4. The Fear. What can I say, I haven’t managed to change ANY of my habits; good, bad and indifferent and therefore The Fear is still at large. Perhaps pre-50?
  5. Exercise. Cough hmmm
  6. Food and Drink.  Yes please.
  7. Celebrations.  The only thing I can 100% say I have achieved and will achieve  (thanks to hubby) when my London trip takes place in January.  Marvelous
  8. Gift list.  No tooth fairy or dental benefactor has shown up as yet with a fat cheque so I will continue into this next decade one tooth down and hope that people continue not to notice (or so they say).  Kindle – check (thanks girls), replacement trinkets/watch – on the way, child free night – check.  What a lucky girl.
  9. Technology.  Not that I have taken it off the shelf yet but I am now in possession of an iphone.  When I work out to use it I will update.  I have been educated by a number of people following the technophobe post and would like to point out that it is not age that makes me useless with technology, the blame lies firmly at the feet of myself at any age.  Thank you for everyone’s knowledge sharing – if I was more interested I would probably remember the advice.
  10. High heels are my new best friend.  OK so they are not high, but they aren’t flat so definitely A for effort of this front.

Happy birthday fellow Saggitarians and fellow new 40 somethings.  Let the games begin.

Nonsense to the Vernacular

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Not satisfied with tweeting, blogging, facebooking, linking in and pinning interest we are now taking on the vocabulary and manner of speech we use whilst typing which by the way we have usually picked up from the TV.

Here are the top 5 that I use a lot in conversation and probably shouldn’t:

  1. So, since when have we started a sentence with so?  Is everything we say a status update? meredithActually maybe it is.
  2. Who knew that ‘who knew?’ can come at the end of a sentence.
  3. Really?  My particular favourite. Not as an incredulous ‘really’ when being told something incredulous.  No.  This ‘really’ is deadpan and ironic. Think Meredith Grey in Grey’s Anatomy… (no don’t, she’s annoying)
  4. The thing is when did we stop saying the thing is and start saying here’s the thing, and at the start of a sentence.  Rather like, ‘So…’, ‘Here’s the thing…’ does make you think a story/one liner is coming but actually it’s just a little conversational bridge. Who knew?  Oops, there it is again.
  5. Just saying – I think I may have used that a number of times in these very pages.

Just like my 2 year old says, ‘I simply don’t believe it’, which is obviously not the usual patter of a 2 year old, we take on so much from TV these days that it’s like we’re living in a soap opera (which I have been told on a number of occasions by various people and not on account of the way I speak).

Here’s my idea – not sure how well it’ll work, but how about taking an era and speaking thus (you see, threw that one in).  My Uncle and Aunt have a lovely way of saying ‘quite’ when they agree with something, I always intend to take this word on as part of my vocab but always forget and say ‘exactly’ instead. I also might start saying ‘five and twenty to’ instead of ‘twenty five to’ or ‘35’ just to sound more queenly (and like my Granny) – are you still with me?  I’m talking about telling the time…Whatever.

Boys to Men

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http://www.nads.com/

An older man is distinguished, he greys with salt and pepper flecks.  He can carry off style without the fear of being called mutton, but he goes bald.  Unlucky.  There’s no disguising age when your once thick barnet is reduced to a bush at the back and sides and some wisps on the top.  Men do of course have the option of shaving it all off at the first signs of loss, luckily the ‘fashion’ of bygone decades of the comb over is long gone (Was that really a fashion or just blatant denial?).  What though if you have a funny shaped head?

I have a friend who as far as I can recall has never had anything but a shiny pate.  Another friend was looking forward to going grey, he always had a penchant for older men, the greyer the better, and although he was always pretty distinguished – how many students do you know wore silk house coats (aka dressing gown) and warmed their 2.99 merlot on the radiator? – he is now uber gentlemanly with his greying locks.

Other age giveaways for men? Well; ear hair, nose hair, mutant eyebrows (hair growth everywhere but the head) and the male equivalent of the muffin top; the beer belly, which appears with or without drinking beer. In my limited experience I have seen that men tend to a) care less than women and b) take up sports with more gusto than women which combats the belly issues although can’t help with the random hair growth.

In our age of male grooming and Mr. Metrosexual, men are more likely to own some kind of beauty product and doubtless many wives have had the tweezers out on their other halves to keep them well presented.  A facial balm or a body scrub was probably unknown vocabulary to our fathers’, not so to our male peers.  I do have to add a small disclaimer at this point as my husband wouldn’t know a balm if it smeared itself on his nose (perhaps not a bad idea).

Here in Israel the men are especially well kept. Due to the climate and the outdoor lifestyle, a Mediterranean diet and yearly army service until at least 40, a good proportion keep themselves trim (another disclaimer?  No, I won’t involve specific people).  Also people don’t really drink here.  Yes I know it’s crazy but you’d be hard pushed to find an Israeli fella who looks forward to a few pints down the pub a couple of times a week.  No offense to my fellow countrymen but the cold climate, bangers and mash and Stella Artois need more sessions down the gym and no weekly beach visit means less need to worry about stripping off in front of strangers for the Brits.  Now before you all start I know there are many exceptions but I have been to the swimming baths in the UK and I know what I have seen (it still haunts me).

Someone recently told me that men lose themselves between the age of 40 and 55 and if you’re a single lady of a certain age you should grab them before or after this period if you want true fulfillment.  When I asked for some clarity she said that the whole ageing, career, keeping up with the Brad Pitts is just too all-consuming for multi-task shy fellas and so trying to start a relationship with them is just destined to fail.  This sounds like it’s one of my sweeping generalizations, but maybe she has a point.  Most of the men I know of this age are married or gay so I have no evidence to prove or disprove her theory.  I do know that career is paramount and providing for your family or maintaining a certain standard of living is key to many of my male peers.

I had a look to see which men are fellow 2012 40 year olds and lo and behold, my fave Hollywood male celeb Ben Affleck plus dishy Josh Duhamel, Chris Tucker and Eminem have had big birthdays this year as will Jude Law (speaking of going bald) just 2 short weeks after me.  It’s hard to equate these men with us mere mortals, they have the time and the money to age sophisticatedly just like the women from this vintage.  For some reason I was surprised, I really considered these men to be younger than me – especially Eminem, let’s face it he will always be 27.

So what’s the answer for men of my generation, well first and foremost it helps if you’re gay.  Without exception every gay man I know who is 40 or over is very well turned out.  Second, if you’re married; listen to your wife she really does know best, really, and third buy a nose trimmer, every little helps.

I borrowed this from http://www.coloribus.com because it made me laugh out loud

Borrowed from http://www.coloribus.com because it made me chuckle for a very long time

Reasons to Celebrate #6: Kids

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london busLike the number 19 bus our children arrived all at once, none for ages and then 3 arrived within 2 short years.  Four and a half years on, this in essence means,

  1. I cannot speak on the phone during their waking hours
  2. I seldom have waking hours outside of theirs
  3. I am always the mother being tutted at/sympathised with on the park
  4. I have single handedly filled a land fill with nappies
  5. My house has a faint whiff of pee (or maybe that’s just my imagination)

2 year old twins are the stuff of parenting challenges.  As one is safely ensconced in a pram/car seat another escapes, as one stops shouting for Mummy, water, food, toilet the other starts.  It’s a non-stop attention shop in my house.  Now that the twins can also speak, the noise in the house can reach dangerous levels, add to that the fact they so far speak a different language to mine makes it a challenge with a twist.  It’s one thing understanding the noise in English, quite another when its coming at you in a mix of English, Hebrew and baby talk – ‘what are you saying?’

There are a few key words necessary to know when entering my domain if you are not a Hebrew speaker.

  1. Mime – (water) sounds like mine so at any point they could be referring to either water or a belonging of theirs
  2. Cacky – (poo) not to be mistaken with cracker (cacka) one of the twins’ favourite food stuffs.  Cacky comes with a smell or a squatting toddler
  3. Od – (more) often said 15 times over at a gradually louder level
  4. Zay oo – (finished/enough) usually heard on the park when the swing/slide is scarily high or when a plate is sent skimming across the table to the floor.
  5. Die – (stop) don’t think too literally on this one, ‘Mummy, die!’ ‘die die die’ can be heard repeatedly from all 3 kids directed at a parent or each other.

My children came arguably late on in life, the first at 35 and I have wondered on occasion if this extreme parenting would have been easier had I been 25.  Do 29 year olds get as tired as 39 year olds after a day with the childers? As I remember it, I was having a blast at 29 and was far from ready for the responsibility of children so I don’t regret the timing, just wish my physical make up in my mid to late 20s could have stuck around until after the teething, the diving to catch one heading into danger and the pushing of a pram carrying 42 kilos was over.

My kids make me see things through fresh eyes, ‘Mummy you do nothing at home’ said the 4 year old when we were discussing what people did for jobs the other day.  They are also a constant reminder of my shortcomings, ‘how does a satellite stay in the sky?’, and a catalyst for self-improvement, ’build us a house out of these boxes, we need to recycle’.  They introduce me to the otherwise unknown or forgotten world of Balamory, snail farms and fairy princesses and for all those reasons and more, they are my most important reason to celebrate as they are the greatest achievement in my 40 years.  To top it all I also get to be carried along by their excitement which is sure to surpass my own on my big day.

Press ? for help

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“Anything invented before your fifteenth birthday is the order of nature. That’s how it should be. Anything invented between your 15th and 35th birthday is new and exciting, and you might get a career there. Anything invented after that day, however, is against nature and should be prohibited.” Douglas Adams (author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)

code scanLast night my 4-year-old taught me what to do with those bar code looking picture things on adverts.  See, I don’t even know what they are called and seeing as my phone doesn’t have a camera or even predictive text for that matter, I am not sure I will be reaping the benefits of this advertising tool in the near future.

I am the last of the technophobes, I don’t own an i anything, no pod, no pad, no phone. I’m not sure I could work them if I did own them – oh yeah I could ask one of my 2 year olds to teach me.  They already try to change screens on the laptop by touching the screen; very annoying and more importantly how on earth do they know touch screen technology?  Not from our luddite house, that’s for sure.

Remember when you watched with wonder sci-fi on the tv as a kid?

Wow wouldn’t it be amazing if we could see the person we were talking to on the phone?  Wow.

Imagine if we could walk around and talk to someone on the phone without being attached to a cable. Wow

Imagine if we could talk into a watch? hmmm

Imagine if we could be transported to a different place?

WOW

OK so maybe the last one isn’t possible (yet) but wouldn’t it be cool if it was?  I could nip home to visit whenever I felt like it.  Bye bye budget travel, not nice knowing you.

Thinking about all these new gadgets and how they literally used to be the stuff of science fiction brought to mind that old BBC classic, Blake’s 7.   In short it was a low-budget sci-fi drama whose main characters were Blake, Avon, Jenna, Vila, Cally, Gan and Zen the computer. Hmmm, yes, says it all really. I wanted to be Cally (?) Cally I also used to colour my soda stream lemonade with food dye as their blue and green drinks looked exotic. I remember it seeming terribly hi-tech at the time – take a look now, not so much 

With only two weeks to go until B day, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, I have to add become more techno savvy to my list of things to do before 40.  The fact you are reading this is in itself a miracle (of course it could be just myself I am amusing).

Actually, is there anybody out there?