Wednesday, 21 September 2011


Things are quite exciting at the moment.  I forgot to mention in my last post that at choir the day before my birthday everyone sang 'happy birthday' to me.   Now, this sounds like nothing particularly out of the ordinary except that our conductor/choir master had told us we were about to sing 'Adam Lay Ybounden' out of our orange carol books, the accompanist had played a chord (which I had thought sounded a bit strange) and I had taken a breath and got ready to sing... when they burst into 'happy birthday' instead.  It completely took me by surprise but I think will go down in my mental annals as one of the best times I have been sung that song, the other one being the time it was sung to me being underground in a cave in France.

Eldest Son's eye - oh for goodness' sake, I'm going to call them by their names - Alex's bruise from Tag Rugby is now the most lovely yellow colour and has spread to include his eye.  What an injury!  At least it hasn't put him off Tag Rugby, and he is keen to start going on Sundays, particularly as his best friend from school goes and his best friend from outside school is thinking of going.

The Baby, or the Chubster - i.e. Edward - went up a step - literally - today.  This is really good as I was wondering when he was going to begin to pull himself up to standing.  He's very interested in our stairs and if you help him up them thinks it's very exciting and funny: but today in Hayton Church at the after-school service he got himself up on to the step where communion is served (and then of course wanted to come back down head first).  He thought the whole after school service was very exciting and funny, but then recently he's found a lot of things exciting and funny.  It must be great just to think Life is exciting and funny.  There's so much for him to discover and I love watching his development, just as I did with the others at that age (and still do: their observations on life can be hilarious.  They come out with things which sound so mature, and wise, and profound: and which are often completely down to earth).  I'm intending to open an extra page for priceless quotations and priceless moments, if I can work out how to.

Hayton Church is significant not only as the place of Edward's first going-up-a-step but also because in just under two weeks' time it is going to be the location of my first paid solo singing engagement!!!  I'm singing at a wedding, thanks to Edward the vicar.  I'm going to sing Panis Angelicus by Cesar Franck (I had considered Handel's Rejoice Greatly, but not only is the singing part more complicated but also the accompanist, and with hardly any time to go simple is better and more effective).  I'm very excited but also at the same time rather nervous as I very badly want to sing well and not wreck the bride and groom's special day, but to add to it.

I've got my aerobics certificate now so am starting to teach aerobics next Thursday - the Sands in Carlisle also needs instructors, so who knows.... meanwhile I need to get on with some writing.  I have a feeling that if I perservere with all these things then my level of activity and therefore income may snowball.  When I went on my TV presenting course they said that the people who give up are the ones who get nowhere.... maybe it really is 'goodbye surveying'.  Meanwhile I am rewriting my 'opera' programme for Radio 3, and if they don't want it perhaps I should try ClassicFM.

Thursday, 15 September 2011


Well, that's it.  I've completed my first half century and am one day into the next (I fully intend to live to 100 at least).

My Grandmother is 100 in January: when she was my age I was born.  I have a baby son, and had 5 babies - plus their mothers, other 'school mums' and a couple of retired ladies who are grandmothers - round for tea and cake yesterday afternoon to help celebrate.  I don't feel as if I should be a grandmother: I feel right being a mother.  I feel 35, not 50.  After all, 50 sounds so middle-aged: people tried to call me middle-aged at 40 and I resented it but now I can hardly deny it and I am 'middle' in so many ways: halfway.  But I still don't consider myself the slightest bit 'old' or even particularly mature.

The cross mood of my last post did of course pass.  I think the singing lesson I taught on Monday helped as I feel I'm helping my pupil achieve something, and a conversation with her mother (a primary school teacher) afterwards gave me an idea for a book: I just now need to be able to sit down to write it.  A conversation with ex-London-friend-E made me try putting the baby to bed for a nap on Monday afternoon, which worked.  However it didn't work yesterday (which was a 'different' afternoon anyway) or today: he has not had an afternoon nap but about 45 minutes in the morning, and has then been really tired by early evening and in bed early.  Which isn't necessarily a good thing as he can be known then to wake up early: this morning it was 6 a.m. after I'd gone to bed a bit late after quite a few glasses of fizz.

In fact I went to bed on quite a high yesterday as I'd had such a lovely and exciting day: the fizz had just served to heighten my emotions.  So how did the day on which I celebrated such a significant age pass?

I was awoken by the baby being his usual chatty and cheerful self at 6.45.  It struck me that I needed no other presents as I have him, though of course if nobody had given me any presents at all I'd have been gutted.  I had 3 parcels to open: some Burts Bees bath stuff, a pale mauve flower necklace and some Ren skincare (a moisturiser which I'd listed as being something I wanted and some facial serum which I hadn't, but had seen on the website and wanted).  What a good start!  The children and Husband gave me a beautiful card with lots of glittery cakes on it and Husband has given me an IOU for a fur or sheepskin coat when he has enough money.  He also said he'd take the afternoon off....

Things went a bit pear-shaped when we had the usual nagging and shouting at the children to get ready to get out and get to school, and when we got to school everyone was in a bad temper still and another mother took them in.  Not a good start.  But I got home to receive a phone call from a friend to whom I haven't spoken for ages.  It was fantastic to have a chat with her.  Her second daughter was born the day before my daughter but is severely handicapped, and it makes me feel incredibly lucky and humble every time I think about her: and not only that but I now have the Baby as well (who is the most gorgeously good-natured and friendly chap: but no pushover.  As doubtless I have commented before.  In fact he got quite cross when I took one of my birthday cards off him so I could open it before he mangled it).

Then some flowers arrived from my Mum, and also a parcel from her for the children with a copy of the Waitrose magazine for me.  I phoned her and had a chat with both her and my Dad, and then thought I'd get on with a few other things: going to the Co-op I decided on the lazy option of buying a pudding rather than making one (it was probably cheaper but in fact we never ate it as I hadn't realised it needed defrosting for 4 hours).  Returning home I found a Ren parcel waiting for me including some more moisturiser and a Rose Otto body polish which I have been dying to get for ages: plus various free samples.  Very exciting!  I phoned my Mum again to say 'thank you' and just as I put the phone down my mother-in-law called, so I had another birthday telephone call.

Ex-London-friend-E. then turned up with her baby, a beautiful bunch of flowers and some chocolates and a card and while she fed the babies I made packet chicken noodle soup for us, whipped cream and stuck cream and cherries on my chocolate fairy cakes.  And then the party began.... only to be interrupted by a call from school as Eldest had badly bumped his head running into someone else playing Tag Rugby and they were hoping I could fetch him.  Fortunately one of the other Mums later brought Daughter home who is in the same class as her third child, and the tea party continued until about 4pm.

Once everyone had left I then found Husband had left various emails for me on my phone saying he wasn't coming home early as his running top smelt of wee too much for him to run in it.  I then had to try to make dinner and the baby's dinner while the children ran around madly, full of chocolate cake and chocolates (a lethal combination if you want any semblance of calmness and sanity).  Fortunately Special Friend M. (also known as GodMother M) turned up and helped out, and just as the Baby was getting really upset - while SFM or GMM helped Eldest with his homework - Husband appeared, having caught the bus home.

The grown-ups sat down to eat at about 7.30pm, Running Friend P and her husband turning up just after we'd started serving up (perfect timing: I hate going out to dinner and having to wait hours for the food when I'm starving, so assuming they were starving after hard days at work presumably they didn't mind sitting down to eat straight away): Coq au Vin cooked in my way (i.e. with stacks of red wine and not much else, though I forgot the brandy which in some ways is the best bit as I always set it on fire.  It tasted OK though) followed by a carrot cake which one of the Mums had brought in the afternoon: all washed down with some Australian fizz and then a bottle of Heidseck Monopole.

SFM/GMM had to leave to get Son home as he (aged 7, the same as my eldest) had school today and while Husband took the children upstairs to bed - and fell asleep next to Daughter - I carried on chatting to Running Friend P and her husband.  I can't remember exactly everything that we talked about - I know education and music and wood burning stoves came into it at different points of the evening - but it was very interesting and enjoyable.

Little did I know that the excitement would continue today with a Jo Malone eye cream I'd wanted arriving from Brother-in-Law J and his girlfriend (also J) and then - lovely surprise - a big bouquet of lilies, all still in bud.  And I still have my party to look forward to..........

Thursday, 8 September 2011


I am cross today.  Here is the list of bad thoughts:
- went to bed with a headache; woke up with a headache; headache got worse when children got home from school
- why does everybody else make a mess and expect me to clean it up?
- Husband does a ridiculous number of hours for his poxy little job which pays hardly anything (he's worth more but has lacked the confidence or drive or something to go for it: I was earning stacks more than he is by the time I was his age) and still expects me to do all the housework and look after the children
- it's not worth trying to write as the Baby doesn't sleep enough during the day to let me get anything down on paper
- it's not worth trying to teach as I don't have any time to plan, prepare or practice
- all I do is drudgery from morning till night without a word of thanks, with naughty children and no money
- it's not worth trying to do any singing practice as  a) I don't have time   b) I'm too cross to sing.

I know I shall feel better tomorrow after I've been to the gym; I would also feel better if I did some singing practice.  But as for the writing and teaching, I am rapidly beginning to feel that I just don't have time to do them properly (and I'm not prepared to do things sub-standard and rushed), and that I may as well just get a 'proper' job.  As the only way I can get one which pays enough is to work full-time, then perhaps that's what I should do.  I don't want to leave the Baby, though.....

Reading a friend's research paper on the effects of migration on professional women has made me feel crosser, as it highlights that professional women's careers go down the thingy and that they end up doing more housework, feeling deskilled etc., when they migrate: that's exactly how I feel at the moment.  I've never felt isolated up here: the opposite in fact, I've made lots of new friends and acquaintances and getting involved in the musical life of the area has been a huge boost from that point of view.  But my career has slid further and further into the murky depths since having children, and that's been exacerbated by moving to Cumbria.

But you all know about the positive side of living in Cumbria as well from my other posts...


Suddenly we're at the end of the school summer holidays, not the beginning or the middle.  Suddenly there are two days before they go back to school, rather than two weeks or two months (not that there ever were two months, but it felt as if it was nearly that long).

Older Son will now be a 'Junior' rather than an Infant, which means I can fetch both him and his sister at 3.30 rather than 3.15: the extra 15 minutes feels as if it will make all the difference!  It won't be immediately after lunch but getting on for tea-time.... ridiculous, I know, to think that just 15 minutes will make that much difference but it means that I shall be thinking about fetching them from school around about 3pm rather than 2.30, and psychologically it is quite a difference.

To update on my previous post (or rather the penultimate one), the aerobics class went really well: at least, the Fitness Manager was pleased.  The problem is that I now can't find my certificate to prove that I'm qualified, so I'm going to have to chase around the London Central YMCA and ask them to dig out a copy: and I only know that I did the exam sometime in March of either 1991, 1992 or 1993..... (probably the latter I think; maybe 1992).  I hope they can as having prepared the class and taught it, I enjoyed it and feel I could quite get into it: I'd like to do a 'Step' class and teach that as well (and a teacher at the Sands was saying that there's a dearth of Pilates teachers at the moment too).

The singing pupil is great........

The post ends here and I have no idea what else I wrote.  The internet has been doing some funny things at our house recently.