Thursday, November 28, 2013

Wednesday Words

Last year, for Remembrance Sunday, I wrote Poppies are also for you

This year, I wrote this. I know it's now Thursday and not Wednesday, but it's also my Wednesday Words offering. It came from seeing a widow being asked what Remembrance Sunday meant to her. Watching her well up, I was sent thinking back through time.

Remembrance Sunday

She's just a child, age seven,
Shivering at a monument,
Sitting through the sermon that she doesn't understand,
On another Remembrance Sunday.

She's just a girl, age seventeen,
Slouching round the house in a dressing gown,
Watching the veterans march past the cenotaph,
On another Remembrance Sunday.

She's grown now, at twenty seven,
Quickening life inside her,
Standing next to her man as Padre speaks,
On another Remembrance Sunday.

Over the years she's seen so many,
Services from the village, London, from the Falklands, from Iraq,
She's said the words that she always says,
Stood the way she always does,
But never has it meant so much,
Now he's away in desert sands,
On this Remembrance Sunday.

She's older now, age thirty-seven
A small hand clutches hers,
As tears roll down their faces, unchecked,
On another Remembrance Sunday.

For he shall grow not old...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone so don't mock the spelling and I'll be back later to sort the layout!

Monday, October 28, 2013

UK storm, I laugh at you!

I'm in Norfolk. It's half term. I have time to blog!) It's very wet, but it is not the 'there's-not-a-hurricane' storm of whenever it was (1997?) nor even the big storms of 2007 or 2009.

It is very wet, and the weather lady on BBC says it's going to peak with us between 8-11. The news pictures are full of trees down and huge wind numbers.

It's also full of some lad who has been missing since yesterday in the sea. One lifeboat chap has been injured. The helicopter can't fly because of the wind and the mission has been downgraded to a recovery mission as opposed to a rescue mission. We all know what that means. Somewhere, there is a grieving family. I think he was daft to play chicken with the sea, but we've all done daft things.

Our big mission here is the Adorable Child's bedroom. For four years and 3 months he hasn't thrown anything away. ANYTHING. It is typical behaviour for a bereaved child, it is understandable and a way to retain control over the changing environment around him. It is just how it is. But now he is ready. He wants change. I've made him wait til half term so that he is desperate for change. It is going to be a huge job.

We are going to take it in half hour sections. Some things will go to the garage - furniture things. Some things will go to charity or friends or school - books and toys and so on. Somethings will go in the bin (almost everything else!). In the end. He will have a cleansed bedroom, ready for painting or wallpapering, ready for him to fill with things from his new life. It'll be ready for a 10yr old, not a 6 yr old.

So. Black bags ready to go. Boxes ready to go.

Game on people! UKstorm, I laugh at you!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone so don't mock the spelling and I'll be back later to sort the layout!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

How rock and roll is my life?

So I'm back from blog-exile with my first post in months. Is it about love? Amazing events? My awesome son? My adorable cat?


It is about these.


How rock and roll is my life? It is this rock and roll people. I have kickboards and I'm posting about it. There is a purpose, because the New Kitten will need to not be going there! I will make another post about the New Kitten at a later date.

Sarah Miles runs a LINKY called Something for the weekend. This is my offering. I will attempt to link it properly when I work out how......

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone so don't mock the spelling and I'll be back later to sort the layout!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

In response!

Yesterday my twitter feed (@Madyline) exploded slightly. I saw someone that I follow was being attacked for having an opinion about someone else's writing. I felt there was some ganging up going on, so I went in as back up, but I didn't go in until I'd read the blogpost concerned. (Which is this one, if you're interested. Redlightpolitics )

Now,  I read the post and the first time I read it, I didn't have a clue what the author was going on about.  I honestly thought she was making words up.

It is titled "Some thoughts about sexual normativity in food writing."

Normativity?  Is that even a word?  OED says yes. "establishing, relating to, or deriving from a standard or norm, especially of behaviour:"

However, more than this, the premise of the article is that the only people who write about their family life as part of their food writing are houses where a man and a woman are married and have children. This apparently, is called a heteronormative nuclear family narrative.  (Hmmmm.  I thought heteronormative was a made up word to, but I'll define that later!)

The writer, named Flavia, then bemoans the fact that The Pioneer Woman is exactly this type of person, where her cooking is good because it is useful for the family, and not because she's good at it on her own.

Flavia also points out that the chefs with publicity are male, and although the food bloggers are female, they have to present this image of nuclear family life in order to achieve fame and fortune.  Or as she puts it "It seems that, as in any other field where women need to be "kept in their places", heteronomativity and sexual politics come with the package."

Now, I could forgive the writer the use of words like "invisiblized" which the OED says is NOT a word, because I suspect that she is not from England.  Ignoring that kind of thing, we are left with a writer with an interesting concept, smothered by her overuse of technical vocabulary.

I said that the writer wrote "like a first year student showing off all the big words she knew."  The style of the writing isn't for me.   The message is obscured by the need to sound cleverer than anyone else.  The backlash that I got from that was amusing to say the least.  Anyone who knows me, or who reads here, will be fully aware that I do not take life too seriously.  I can't.  If I did, I'd end up in the local mental hospital, and that's not fair on everyone else who has supported me through so much.  No surrender, and so forth.  I was very lighthearted in my responses, because this was all on Twitter, and let's face it, it's 144 characters of my own opinion.

The trouble is, that unless I agreed with the writer, and applauded her, and said nothing bad about her, I was not allowed to have an opinion.  I didn't argue with what she said - if that was how she felt, it was how she felt.  I may or may not feel that she is wrong and that her whole premise smacks of wounded pride and therefore being the aggressor to ensure it doesn't happen again, but that's up to her.  Opinion is opinion.

In my opinion, her style of writing was jargon-crammed and heading towards jingoistic, and in effect, she lost part of her message with her need to use words that were only understood by the radical feminist movement.  It would be a bit like if I, in my job as a primary teacher, decided that because I hold a literacy degree (part of which was in feminist literature) decided to teach all of my 6/7yr olds at degree level.  Nobody would learn anything and the message would be lost.

Now, of the responses that I got, several were rude and condescending, of the "Oh, it's clearly gone over your head, stupid you" type.  Several were of the "How dare you say she's not a good writer, worship her as we all do" type, and one was someone who was willing to respond to a request for clarification with a useful, in context, example of the words.  Thankyou @Mhari _McAlpine.

This was what she said.  "Homophobia is an active dislike/fear; heteronormativity is a passive dismissal of the other."

I asked if that meant I was heteroambivalent, as to be honest, what people do in their own sex lives is entirely up to them.

She answered with Heteronormative is more about the assumption that people are attracted to the opposite sex.  A privileging of  heterosexuality over homosexuality, say assuming that a womans partner is a man.  Heteronormativity is the idea that only people who actively say "I am gay/bi" ect are not straight and it sets up an assumption that the proper way to do sexuality is heterosexuality and that anyone who isn't heterosexual is deviant."

That is a clear, concise, helpful definition, provided by someone being helpful, unlike anyone else involved, and indeed anyone else on Flavia's timeline, who took the idea that the writing was full of jargon as an opportunity to say that people like me were too stupid to read it.  (But then I got accused of insulting her, which I didn't, but whatever lol!)

So what do I think?  Well, I don't give a monkeys what anyone else does, who they fancy, if they don't do it, do it 19 times a day, do it with 7 partners, do it with 1, do it with boys or girls or a combination. (I draw the line at children and animals, obviously)  I care who *I* do it with, and why, and so on, because it's my business.  But since when did it become my business to know what anyone else was up to?  Since when is it anyone else's right to tell me what I have to think about when it comes to acknowledging that other people have sex in various combinations, that I have to appreciate the particular combination that they have, consider it, embrace it, grok it (10 points if you get the literary reference) and make a judgement about that person based upon it.  All I wanted was the recipe for Thousand Layer lasagne.

If I read a food blog, and I do read several, I do it because I want to know about the food.  I'm not desperately keen to know who they cooked it for, and I haven't been since I stopped reading weaning books for the Adorable Child.  I revived my interest in who it was cooked for when he was intolerant of dairy, because I needed recipes and people who had the same lifestyle as he did.  It had nothing to do with sex, and more to do with sick.  I suspect that some on Flavia's site would argue that I am ignoring the issue, and I am, because it isn't relevant to what I want to know.

Am I a feminist?  I don't know.  I don't think about it.  I've never felt oppressed.  I own my own home, I can do anything the average man can do.  Yesterday I finished clearing my own garden, using *shock horror* a saw! (I took a  couple of 20ft trees down, nothing major!) This was after using power tools to sand the rust from the poles for the bunks for my beloved camper van, and repainting them with smoothrite, and knowing which thinners to use to wash out the brush.  In the evening I cooked tea for us all, and then did some cross-stitching.  Perhaps I am all things lol!  I am proud of what some would dismiss as my skills at womens work, done because they needed doing and for the enrichment of my family.  I am proud of my more manly skills, done because they needed doing and for the enrichment of my family.  I am proud of the bits I did just for me.

As for being kept in my place, I don't feel that Jamie Oliver does that, nor does he use his family so to do.  Do I feel that Delia does that? Nope.  Nigella? Nope. Going right back as far as Fanny Craddock and as recently as Lisa Faulkner, I have not felt either repressed or emancipated by a female or male tv chef. (inadequate in a cooking sense, yes, but then I'm not a brilliant cook!)

I am saddened in some respects that I got caught in a twitter storm, but I appreciate what I have had the opportunity to think about.  Sometimes we all need to think a bit more, and ridicule a bit less if we want to get our point across.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone so don't mock the spelling and I'll be back later to sort the layout!

Monday, August 12, 2013

When Police Cars Make Me Cry

There is a Police car sat in the layby outside the house.  I opened the curtains, saw it, and cried.  I was surprised as well.

I was surprised by the fear that ran through me, by the way I couldn't catch my breath, by the way my eyes filled with tears that rolled down my face.

They are still sitting there.  They have no idea what their presence is doing to me, and yet I cannot ask them to move, I will not.  Who am I to be afraid of a Police car?  It contains two lads, both late twenties, early thirties, trying to work out how to use the iPad type thing they have.  They don't know that I am typing on here to try and calm myself down, so that the words on the 'paper' can be seen for the daftness that they are.

I am flinching every time I hear a car door.

I can see the reflection of the Police car in the side of the milk snake tank. I had to force myself away from the window to sit down here on the sofa.  I cannot stand at the window and stare at these poor lads, laughing at each others mistakes on the device they hold.

I am being ridiculous.  This isn't the first time they have parked there.  I have noticed that every time I see them, the reaction gets more on the outside of me, and less on the inside.  This is fine - it stops me wallowing in it.

As a small point, we have had Police in school every 17th of July that has been a school day since Rich died.

And they have gone.  Off to carry on doing whatever it takes to fight crime and keep us all safe and so on.  Catching criminals.  Investigating accidents.......

I'm going to make a cup of tea.

Tea solves everything......

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Wednesday Words - grief quote

“You will lose someone you can’t live without,and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.” 
― Anne Lamott

Now, I don't know who Anne Lamott is.

I could find out, but I'm not going to, because I want to think about her words first.  This is the first time I've come close to finding something that describes how my grief has been.

I have learned to dance with a limp.  I have learned to love again, knowing how much it will hurt when something happens to him.  I have come through into the sunshine (but with a pacamac in my bag)


Anyway, this is part of the Wednesday Words link up, which I have not taken part in for a while.

Crazy With Twins

Wednesday words is the brain child of CrazyWithTwins.  I'm guessing she's still adorable, I haven't been to her blog in a month because I've not been doing anything for a month.  I shall amend that now, so don't tell her I haven't been, ok?

Quietly ......... something

I don't know how I feel at the moment.

Last night, the boychild and I were on Look East (regional News programme) and it was so good to be able to get the shout out about Scotty's, and about what it has done for the AC and I.  We were interviewed whilst we were staying at the lodge, and we met Alex Dunlop, who brought his cameraman and who was so lovely and understanding.  They interviewed the AC about life after Rich.  They interviewed me about carrying on.  It was awesome, and it's available on iPlayer.  But always, always, there is the knowledge that yes, all of this is awesome, and AC doing fencing/archery/targetshooting/swimming/aquajets/seeingseals amongst the other stuff whilst staying at a £1k a week lodge for nothing is awesome and I am so grateful it's untrue, but there is always the knowledge that we can do this because Rich died.

We came back from the lodge on the Friday, and the Sunday was the anniversary of his Celebrations.  It's been a weird anniversary time so far - unlike other years I made it through the 17th without crying.  I made it through the end of term without crying.  I made up for it on the anniversary of his Celebrations and cried like a tsunami was coming out of my eyeballs.

Seriously. They almost had to launch lifeboats.

(Ok, maybe not lifeboats.)

It struck me just how weird grief is.  How I thought I had a handle on it this year, and how it has changed again.  There has been no public grief this year, (unless you count almost crying on Look East in front of half a million people) but the private grief has been immense and sudden and then gone again as swiftly as it arrived.  It has come in waves - rather like my tsunami analogy - which was supposed to be joking and actually is very accurate.

In other news, it is, at last, the holidays!  I shall post about what we are up to and so on, but I wanted to get this post out of my fingers.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Another month?

It's been another month since I've written on here.

It's been an emotional time.  It's been exciting, it's been exhausting, it's been upsetting, it's been emotional!

It's because it's That Time of Year.  We've just had Scotty Day, which means that soon it is our....... I never know what to call this.  Anniversary?  Deathiversary? Whatever.  It's on it's way.  And the AC knows when it is this year.  Scotty's Day was amazing.  We took part as a whole school, and it rocked.

It's because it's That Time of Year.  It's end of term, it's moving up day.  For me, it's "Meet your new class of Y2, who are smaller than any child ever invented."  I have been teaching Y34 for so long now (8 years!) that looking at these small children was a massive shock.  A good one, but a massive one!  End of term brings tiredness and all that jazz as well though.  I've moved classrooms, everything is all over the place, but it's getting there.

It has nothing to do with That Time of Year.  Ladies and Gentlemen of the Readership, I have the honour to inform you that my beloved J has spoken to my father, and then requested my hand in the holy estate of matrimony.  Obviously, I accepted!

We are engaged to be married and I have a happy fiance, an over excited son, and a sparkling ring on my finger!  I have colleagues and friends who are very happy for us.  I have hopeful parents that this one won't become an alcoholic, or a womaniser, or just plain die!  (and for anyone who thinks that's a bad taste joke, you should hear some of the things I say.  I love him very dearly, and always will, and I'll cope in my own way, thankyou so much!)

So there you go!  In reverse order, it's been exciting, exhausting, upsetting.  It's been emotional people!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Wednesday Words "If" by Rudyard Kipling

IN honour of it being Father's Day on Sunday, I have chosen this, as a poem that speaks volumes about the way we should raise our children, until they are men (or women!)  

It's by Rudyard Kipling, written in 1910.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”;

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings—nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run—
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

It's an amazing poem, in my not massively humble opinion, and especially for me, the parts where it talks about loss, and trying again, and holding on when there is nothing in us. 

Speaking of holding on when there is nothing in us, and of keeping going on, head over to the lovely Crazy With Twins and give her bloggy hugs for being fabulous in the face of cancer and cocking a snook at radiation.  

Crazy With Twins

Friday, May 31, 2013

For Nikki

This was written the other day, when I had been trying to explain why Scotty's is so amazing.

And then I read an FB post by Nikki Scott, the founder. I wanted her to know she made a difference.

So this is for her, and the whole Scotty team.


A young wife strokes her bump with care,
Torn between tears of joy and despair,
Someone important will never be there.
Daddy didn't come marching home.

A child stands by her mothers side,
Hand held tight, eyes open wide.
There are no more tears to be cried.
Daddy didn't come marching home.

In the dark of the night the children lie sleeping
In her cold bed, mummy lies weeping.
Daddy was a hero, everyone said
And now he's living in the stars instead

A child waits for his time to sing
The stable is ready - he's dressed as a king.
He believes his stepdad sees everything,
Even though he's never coming home.

In the dark of the night the children lie sleeping
In her cold bed, mummy lies weeping.
Daddy was a hero, everyone said
And now he's living in the stars instead

There's a parcel, there's a letter
There's a chance to make things better
There's a Scotty sticker with a smile
There's a laugh, just for a while.

There's a trip out, there's a holiday
There's a chance, just to get away.
There's other mums who understand,
There's support and love, a helping hand.

Daddy was a hero everyone said
Now he's living in the stars instead
And even though Daddy didn't come marching home,
A Scotty Child knows they are never alone.

That's what Scotty's has done for the AC.

He will never be alone.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The biggest game of rugby in the world. Ever.

Today, we are packing, preparing, doing.
Tomorrow we are driving.
Friday is when it all starts.

Leicester Tigers Stadium is at Welford Road, and that's where we will be for the entire 26 hours of the longest rugby match in the world.  By the end of the match, on Saturday lunchtime, it'll be done.  We will have been part of a world record attempt.  Hopefully, we'll have made it.  (You should be there.  There are tickets available on the door - £5! C'mon!)

What Alan Knell, Dave Allison, and 44 amazing players will have done, is to have raised a phenomenal amount of money for Scotty's Little Soldiers.  Currently they are on £43,000 and counting.

I have been thinking about this all week, against the backdrop of Drummer Lee Rigby's murder, against the backdrop of the news, the theories about Islamic fundamentalists, everything.  There is another Scotty Child now, whose name is Jack, who is 2, and who will grow up knowing that in every paper, in every place, there was a picture of his dead father, lying on the ground, a victim of a senseless religious based murder.  But he shouldn't just know that.  He should know about the flowers, about the faith that people showed, about the way that everyone came together.  He should know that he is special, because he is a Scotty Child and he is not alone.

I've talked about Scotty's a lot on this blog.  I have to.  They are an enormous part of the way that the AC is now a fully functioning child, able to laugh and play and cry and do everything that children do, and whilst he still does it with Rich in his mind all the time, he does it anyway now.  I have seen him paralysed with grief and fear.  I have seen him lost, and alone, and afraid.

Today he is excited.  The match starts on Friday, and he is over the moon to know that he will be there, in his Scotty top, and then in his new Scotty Rugby Shirt to walk out with the players.  J and I have ours ready, we are helping out with organising the witnesses and so on.  We'll be there, and awake, for the whole 26 hours.  Today, the AC is looking forward to seeing people pulling together to help Scotty's, to help other children know that they are not alone.

When Rich died, we lost him, the RAF, contact with his daughter, everything.  His family didn't stay in contact as they had said they would.  It was all gone.  But we had it easy - Rich and I weren't married so we lived in the town, not on the camp.  I had a mortgage, in my sole name, on the house that we still live in. The AC went to the same school, was supported by his friends, was cherished by our friends and family, kept his bedroom the same, his house, everything.  I kept my job, kept my house, and although things were very tight financially, we got through.

Other Scotty families aren't so lucky.  If the serving parent dies, the Forces have no option but to serve notice on the married accommodation. The children usually have to move from the camp school.  The surviving parent often loses her support network, the people who know what Forces life was like, often she has to move to an entirely new area if she is going to be dependent on social housing - she and her children will be returned to the area from which they moved into service accommodation, regardless of where that is. Everything goes, and in the midst of all of this is the crushing grief of why this is all going, why everything is changing - because Daddy didn't come marching home.

Events like this weekend are something that reaches out to the AC, and I think to the other families as well. It provides that sense of not being alone with this.  Of being with people who understand.  Of being with people who don't understand, because mercifully they haven't been there, but who want to help, who want to support.  People who will force their body through 26 hours of rugby to raise money to help my son and others like him.

I cannot ever thank these 44 people enough, nor yet Dave and Alan, nor yet the team of people who are helping.

It's not just that they are doing it, it's that they cared enough to want to, and that through caring that much, they really have put the smile back on my Scotty Child's face.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Wednesday Words - Alumnus Football, by Grantland Rice.

Today the AC played his second game of football for the school.  He scored his first goal.  I was proud, he was proud, his dad was there and was proud, J wasn't there, but bought Chinese for tea to celebrate the goal, but more importantly, his teacher said that the way AC played the game was brilliant.  He said that the AC was able to carry on when he was bodyslammed in a tackle and hit the ground like a ton of bricks, that he wasn't selfish with the ball and passed to others, that he was always moving, always trying, always pushing forward, and that he smiled, laughed and called for the ball all the way through.  He said that he was a player who put the team first.

It made me think of the last two lines of this poem, which are inscribed on a plaque on one of our school walls, in memory of a teacher at the school who died a couple of years ago.  There are several things that I am doing at the moment, in which I may win or lose - but I need to think about how I play the game.  Will I like what the One Great Scorer writes?

Alumnus football
Grantland Rice

Bill Jones had been the shining star upon his college team.
His tackling was ferocious and his bucking was a dream.
When husky William took the ball beneath his brawny arm
They had two extra men to ring the ambulance alarm.

Bill hit the line and ran the ends like some mad bull amuck.
The other team would shiver when they saw him start to buck.
And when some rival tackler tried to block his dashing pace,
On waking up, he'd ask, "Who drove that truck across my face?"

Bill had the speed-Bill had the weight-Bill never bucked in vain;
From goal to goal he whizzed along while fragments, strewed the plain,
And there had been a standing bet, which no one tried to call,
That he could make his distance through a ten-foot granite wall.

When he wound up his college course each student's heart was sore.
They wept to think bull-throated Bill would sock the line no more.
Not so with William - in his dreams he saw the Field of Fame,
Where he would buck to glory in the swirl of Life's big game.

Sweet are the dreams of college life, before our faith is nicked-
The world is but a cherry tree that's waiting to be picked;
The world is but an open road-until we find, one day,
How far away the goal posts are that called us to the play.

So, with the sheepskin tucked beneath his arm in football style,
Bill put on steam and dashed into the thickest of the pile;
With eyes ablaze he sprinted where the laureled highway led-
When Bill woke up his scalp hung loose and knots adorned his head.

He tried to run the ends of life, but with rib-crushing toss
A rent collector tackled him and threw him for a loss.
And when he switched his course again and dashed into the line
The massive Guard named Failure did a toddle on his spine.

Bill tried to punt out of the rut, but ere he turned the trick
Right Tackle Competition scuttled through and blocked the kick.
And when he tackled at Success in one long, vicious prod
The Fullback Disappointment steered his features in sod.

Bill was no quitter, so he tried a buck in higher gear,
But Left Guard Envy broke it up and stood him on his ear.
Whereat he aimed a forward pass, but in two vicious bounds
Big Center Greed slipped through a hole and rammed him out of bounds.

But one day, when across the Field of Fame the goal seemed dim,
The wise old coach, Experience, came up and spoke to him.
"Oh Boy," he said, "the main point now before you win your bout
Is keep on bucking Failure till you've worn the piker out!"

"And, kid, cut out this fancy stuff - go in there, low and hard;
Just keep your eye upon the ball and plug on, yard by yard,
And more than all, when you are thrown or tumbled with a crack,
Don't sit there whining-hustle up and keep on coming back;

"Keep coming back with all you've got, without an alibi,
If Competition trips you up or lands upon your eye,
Until at last above the din you hear this sentence spilled:
'We might as well let this bird through before we all get killed.'

"You'll find the road is long and rough, with soft spots far apart,
Where only those can make the grade who have the Uphill Heart.
And when they stop you with a thud or halt you with a crack,
Let Courage call the signals as you keep on coming back.

"Keep coming back, and though the world may romp across your spine,
Let every game's end find you still upon the battling line;
For when the One Great Scorer comes to mark against your name,
He writes - not that you won or lost - but how you played the Game."

Now head over to Wednesday Words with CrazyWithTwins, and help her play the game.  She's having a rough time, and needs to know there's a team behind her.  Be leaving of the bloggy love as she prepares to battle things I can't even spell!

Crazy With Twins

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Wednesday Words - Stevie Smith

This is a poem to describe how I've been feeling recently.  As though I am much too far out, and not waving but drowning.  Again, it's one that I've known for a long time, and enjoyed at different periods of my life for different reasons.  Now, it's report writing season, it's a child who wants to know details of his stepfathers death, it's a campervan that always needs something, it's teaching which always needs something, it's a house that always needs something, it's a child and a man who always need something, and it's stretching me thin.  It's a poem that asks us to look at our perceptions of the actions of others.  How many of us are, like me at the moment, like a swan?  Serene on the surface and paddling like heck beneath the surface just trying to stay afloat?

Anyway, albeit a day late, here are my Wednesday Words.

Not Waving But Drowning.

Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning;
I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.

Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he's dead
It must have been too cold for him, his heart gave way,
They said.

Oh no, no, no, it was too cold always
(Still the dead one lay moaning)
I was much too far out all my life,
And not waving, but drowning.

See?  That assumption that he was larking meant that his worries were missed, and society tidied up what it wanted to think about his death.

Anyway, now you need to pop over to Crazy With Twins who is no doubt more cheerful than me.
Crazy With Twins

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wednesday Words - Quotes from the Iron Lady.

I usually use poems in my Wednesday Words, but I've been doing a lot of thinking and reading in the last week about Margaret Thatcher and her impact on our society.  Her death has polarised parts of the country, raising up old grievances and encouraging new ones, and she is shown as either sinner or saint.  I would propose that she is, like all of us, both of those things.

One of the first quotes I want to look at, is one that is often part quoted.  It is the full section of the quote that includes "There's no such thing as society." which when taken as a pure sentence, out of context of the rest of the paragraph, is a terrible thing to say, and comes across as very ignorant.  The full context of the speech though, is this.

“I think we've been through a period where too many people have been given to understand that if they have a problem, it's the government's job to cope with it. 'I have a problem, I'll get a grant.' 'I'm homeless, the government must house me.' They're casting their problem on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It's our duty to look after ourselves and then, also to look after our neighbour. People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations. There's no such thing as entitlement, unless someone has first met an obligation." (1987)

There is a vast difference between what is read into one sentence, and what is seen in the whole paragraph.   I look at the playground, and there are far too many people with a sense of entitlement, without having met any obligations.  I don't mean the disabled, the ill, the veteran, I mean the lazy, the unwilling to work, the shirker.  I don't mean those like my ex-husband who filled in over 130 job applications, for any job going.  I mean those who don't even open the paper to look.

She also said something in which I believe very firmly - not a political thing, but a general concept which I have tried to pass on to every child I have ever come in contact with.

“I do not know anyone who has gotten to the top without hard work. That is the recipe. It will not always get you to the top, but it will get you pretty near.

It's a simple principle, don't you think?  You work hard, stuff gets done, you get further.  You don't, it doesn't, and you stay where you are.

Or how about this one, for the X-factor generation

“It used to be about trying to do something. Now it's about trying to be someone.”

Half of my class want "to be famous."  No idea what at, or why, but they want the fame, the plaudits, but they want it given to them, not earned through the hard work of the perpetually gigging band, or the comedian doing the circuit.  Just handed to them.

My last quote, and there are many to chose from, is this one.

It was a lovely morning. We have not had many lovely days. And the sun was just coming through the stained glass windows and falling on some flowers right across the church and it just occurred to me that this was the day I was meant not to see.

I chose it because it refers to the Brighton bombing in which she was not assassinated, although that was the plan.  5 people were killed, 31 injured.  She carried on the conference, carried on the attitude towards the IRA, wouldn't let the country be bullied into acquiescence in the same way that every day I tell my son to stand up for what he believes in.  She left the conference and visited the injured. She carried on in what has been since described as a Churchillian attitude.

I think for me, regardless of her politics, some of which I agreed with, some of which I didn't, it was this attitude that makes me admire her.  It's all going to hell around her.  The miners strike is on, the country is struggling to recover from years of Union bullying, 5 of her colleagues are dead and others are seriously injured, or have wives who are seriously injured (Norman Tebbits wife spent the rest of her life in a wheelchair) and yet she carried on.

Some days, all we can do is appreciate the lovely days, the ones we were not meant to see.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

IN a town far away..... Lullaby for the Lullaby Trust.

This is a lullaby that my mother wrote, that she sung to me, and to my brother and my sister, and that I sung to my sister, nine years younger than I, and then to my son, and to my Goddaughters, and my Godsons, and to the children of my friends when I sat for them and they wouldn't sleep.

It has a long, slow tune, a lullaby tune.

In a town, far away
Cross the miles, so they say,
A baby was born just like you,
He was born in the night
When the stars shone so bright,
A baby, who was born, just like you.

In a town, far away
Cross the miles, so they say,
A baby was born just like you,
He was born with a sigh,
He was born just to die,
To suffer for me and for you.

In a town, far away
Cross the miles, so they say,
A man the crowds came to see,
And He told of God's love,
And the mansions above,
That are waiting for you and for me.

On a hill, far away,
Cross the miles so they say,
The wonder of God's Love was shown
He was hung on a cross,
He was some mother's loss,
And he suffered for you and for me.

In a town, far away
Cross the miles, so they say,
A baby was born just like you,
And he's coming some day,
For all those who pray,
He's coming, for you and for me.


I think it is beautiful.

Wednesday Words -Slow Reader, - Allan Ahlberg

Some poems really get a person, stay with a person, and mean something.  This poem, which I first read when I was about 15, is one of the reasons that I work so hard with my children in class who find it hard to do the thing that I find so easy.

I – am – in – the – slow - read – ers’ - group – 
my – broth – er – is – in – the – foot – ball – team – 
my – sis – ter – is – a – ser – ver – 
my – lit – tle – broth – er – was – a – wise – man – 
in – the – in -fants’ - Christ – mas – play – 
I – am – in – the – slow – read – ers’ – group – 
that – is – all – I – am – in – 
I – hate – it.” 

Slow Reader from Please Mrs. Butler, Allan Ahlberg (Penguin, 1983)

I can't image not being able to read.  I can't remember not being able to read.  Apparently I was reading books by 4, and chapter books by 6 and I have never looked back.

But I can tell you children who I still worry about, who I taught as Junior School children and who couldn't read fluently when they came to me, and had made some progress by the time they left me.

I never want a child to think that all I know about them is academic, that all I care about are their results and numbers, and I am proud of the fact that, for the vast majority of my children in my class at the moment, I know pets, brothers and sisters, fears, hobbies, hopes and dreams and all that kind of thing that can't be monitored, or put on a list or given a level.  I know what they like to do at school, and what they don't like to do, and I'll give them the chance to do both.  I will find a way for a child to shine in my room, because academic work is not all a child is.

My children are not just levels and numbers.... they are taught to think for themselves, and not to catagorise themselves by what they cannot do.

Nobody in my room, is just - in - the - slow - readers - group.

For more poems, have a look over at CrazyWithTwins, and her very special Wednesday Words, for a special baby.

I didn't know about the Lullaby theme, but I can feel it tickling something in my brain........ so maybe more laters........

IN reply to the KrakenCommentator, Rootitoot.

Bear with me, whilst I get to why I'm writing this?

Thankyou, so much!

Earlier on today I read this post by TheKrakenWakes.  I read her stuff a lot, and she makes sense.  I don't read a great deal that does, but I was feeling her on this!

I've been down the mumsnet/netmums route, and it is a mess.  I've never known such a bunch of nasty minded people in my entire life as I can find in those forums.  You know how, in every toddler group, or in fact, in ANY group, there is always one person who never has anything nice to say about anyone?  They all have laptops and get together in mumsnet/netmums-land.  Seriously.  It's all anti-teacher, anti-school, anti-whatever-anyone-else said, anti-anti-anti.  It's a gathering ground for miserable trolls.


Amanda Holden was recently criticised for going back to work when the baby was 3 weeks old.  By work, it was 3 days of her sitting and watching auditions for Britains Got Talent, whilst the baby slept.  I'm assuming that she is a grown-up, that the baby sleeps, and that actually, this is none of my business.  She also said that she thought mumsnet would be great for support, and was actually full of negativity.  That made me feel like it wasn't just me, so that was nice :-)


So then TheKrakenWakes wrote her piece, and posted it on Twitter, and I read it and liked it, and meant to comment but I was on my phone, and it's a pain in the rear, so I didn't.  However, when the Twitter conversation between her good self (@cathjanes) and @tattooed_mummy popped up in my Twitter feed, I was intrigued and led back to it, as apparently there was an interesting comment on there.

This is what I found......

Rootietoot on  said:
Unfortunately, real life isn’t that much different. People seem to take such terrible offense at folks who do things differently, as if by doing it differently you are automatically declaring that they are WRONG WRONG WRONG! I’ve run across a few parenting boards that are similar, and the worst offenders seem to be the Mommy Perfectionists (you know, baby-wearing-breastfeed-until-they’re-in-kindergarten-organic toys/cloths/food-only types.

And that pushed my buttons just a bit.  Ok, a lot.  SO much so, that it's taken me half a page to tell you how I got to the point of being irritated!

My son is now 9.  He has not always been 9, clearly, and at one point he was a small bundle of screaming pain-filled fury.  If I caught an attack early enough, he was calmed by being worn upright, because it meant his digestive system worked better. He was breast-fed until 2.5yrs old, because cows milk and related products made him disgustingly ill.  It was painful for him, and disgusting when it emerged.  I am not going into details in case anyone is eating whilst reading this.

He had to have organic food, home-made, until we worked out what was setting him off.  Even then, we had to be very careful.  He had real nappies because I was at home with him, but also I was living on an RAF base in the middle of rural Norfolk, and didn't drive.  I did, however, always have water to wash nappies with.  Not only that, his illness made him more likely to have outrageous nappy rash, and that was cleared, every time, with oat baths.  Disposables made it worse, on the odd occasion that I was forced to use them by circumstances.  No doubt though, this is me just being a perfectionist mummy - how dare I look for, and find, solutions that worked for my son.......

When I say he was ill, by the way, he was in pain to such an extent that one of my friends was in tears watching him, demanding to know why I didn't get him an ambulance, saying she would take him to A&E if I was afraid of hospitals.  It took my Health Visitor to say that I was doing all I could, he was on the floor, on three layers of duvet so he didn't hurt himself as he thrashed in pain, he was accompanied, and knew we were there, and that this attack would pass.

It did.

At 9 months I took a determined step, and took away all his solids, and just breastfed him again.  It took my body a few days to adjust, but all I did was lie on the sofa and drink water, eat fruit, and feed.  My body got the hang of more milk again, and life went back to toddler groups and so on, but for a month, we did just breastfeeding.

It took 3 weeks for his body to stop hurting him to such an extent that he woke every 40 minutes, screaming, day and night, but we got there.  Then I slowly reintroduced solids, starting with fruit, and cautiously going forward until the screaming started again, to find the culprit was dairy, as I'd thought.

These days, he is 9 years old.  He still has a low tolerance of dairy, but since he was 5 has been able to make his own decisions.  He knows that if we eat out and he has pizza *and* icecream, then he'll suffer.  It's his choice.  He's been brought up to take responsibility for his own actions, in the same way that I was.

 the worst offenders seem to be the Mommy Perfectionists (you know, baby-wearing-breastfeed-until-they’re-in-kindergarten-organic toys/cloths/food-only types.

My story is my story, and part of his story.  It wasn't about me being a perfectionist mummy, it was about me doing the best for the child who I had chosen to bring into the world, who was my responsibility.  It was my choice to breastfeed, something which turned out to save his life.  My choice prevented his intolerance turning into an allergy, which would have affected the whole of his life.  My choice to cook it all for him meant I was able to know exactly what set him off and what didn't.

I have told his story to other mums.  Dairy intolerance is NOT the same as a lactose allergy, and NOT something that I wanted to condemn him to.  I've suggested to other mums with children with similar symptoms that they may want to get it checked out.  Is that me being a "Mommy perfectionist", offending other people?

I will never, ever, doubt that breastfeeding to 2.5yrs was the best thing for my son.  I have advocated it to others when asked.  I was even asked by a friend of mine to go out with her, and our 15 month olds, to show her how to breastfeed a toddler in public, because she was ashamed of being seen doing it, and doubly ashamed of herself for letting society make her feel this way about doing something her child needed.

Places like mumsnet, like netmums, like any parenting forum full of different people with different children, should be places that a first time mum like myself should be able to go and find help for a child like mine.  It isn't, because of commentors like rootitoot.  Of course, on a mumsnet board I'd now be shouting "Would you rather my son was DYING in hospital because his stomach had RUPTURED after being force fed COWS MILK?" with the assorted bad punctuation and spelling that shouting on these boards produces.  I'm not shouting that - rootitoot doesn't know my story and therefore has no idea how offensive and dangerous for us her attitude is.

That brings me to my final point.  What I did, worked for my child.  It has worked for other children with the same problems.  Breastfeeding has many, many good things about it - and no breastfeeding mum is going to be worried that her boobs will be sent to China as a formula mummy is apparently worrying about milk this week!  But don't abuse my parenting style because it doesn't work for you Ms Rootitoot.  My parenting style was for my son.  Had I have had another child, they would have received parenting that worked for them.

I suppose what I'm trying to say is that if we spent less time on the internet, interfering in other peoples lives, our children would have more of the attention that they need.  If we parented our own child properly, instead of sticking our noses into everyone else's business as these forums encourage, then we'd have a very different society.  If we took the time to understand other people's stories, then we'd have a better society.  If we formed our opinions from facts instead of rhetoric, we'd have a more thoughtful society.

And if we thought before we typed, the world would just be nicer!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Blood tests? What?

Two weeks ago I went to the doc on a Monday evening because I was in considerable discomfort. As far as I was concerned it was all in my back, and I've been here before when I was expecting the Adorable Child. I expected to go in, be told it was a kidney infection, pick up some antibiotics and that's it, I'm done!

And then the nurse was all about the diabetes finger prick test. And the urine test. And the three vials of blood test.

I got the results today, and there is no massive issue, but the doctor was looking at my c-something protein. Or something.

Apparently it means that I've not been well and that therefore they want to repeat the blood test to see if I'm better. I am, and I'm not. I feel like I've been kicked in the back, and I could drink for England! Admittedly it's water or squash, but I can do a pint in the same way I could when I was a student! Go me!

I have to rest and drink. With a 9year old who thinks he is Benny Hill...... I am, however, thankful for an NHS that sorts out tests because they think I need them, and for a nurse who is the best at blood taking, and for a system that gets my results back in a couple of days and a doctor who tries to explain to me what is going on!

And bins are now on a Thursday not a Tuesday, and the Iron Lady has died. But those are for another post.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone so don't mock the spelling and I'll be back later to sort the layout!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Held together by love and tea.

So I'm looking for something this afternoon, and I open a box in the Small Room of Doom, and there is this.

Inside are so many things.

A list of phone numbers I took off of his phone, with ticks next to people I had told.  A yellow book that obligingly tells me how I am supposed to be feeling and what I should do about it when I do.  A list of things I should do, who I should contact, what I have to do.  I have no idea if I did them.

I found it.  I moved it.  I made a cup of tea.

Earlier this week, I had to phone a company who had been taking money out of my account.  I had had an membership with them, so I wasn't surprised, but didn't need their services. I couldn't cancel it - the chap didn't know who I was.

In the end he asked for 'the other card' on the account.

That's when it all became clear.

This wasn't my membership.  This was Rich's membership.

I struggled to explain, I gave all the details, the dates, the mothers maiden name, the address, the everything that makes a person who they were as far as the computer is concerned.  I sat on the floor in my front room, and I felt the knot come back into my stomach, and the panic flood my brain, and the world started to fold into the misty mess it used to be.

I carried on.  We talked it through.  I agreed to send a letter, a copy of the death certificate, a copy of my bank statement.  He agreed to tell the computer not to take any more money, I said I'd go to the bank and find out what the hell had happened.

We said our good byes, I put the phone down.

I made a cup of tea.

Before that, or not, I don't know, because I'm crap at days during holidays, we caught up on Corrie.  Dev's wife, Sunitta, was injured in a fire, and then she died.  He had to tell the children.  I couldn't watch it.  We were having tea and I'd just finished mine and I took the plates out.  J looked at me, he followed me out, and he held me whilst I cried so hard I almost threw up.  Cried so hard, and so silently, because the boys were still watching Corrie, and they don't need to know that I'm crying again.

I made more tea.

It comes and goes in waves that crash over me and sweep me under, before throwing me up onto a dry beach of exhaustion and anger and fear and numbness.

It's everywhere.

I know, I know, that this won't last forever.  It is different now than it was 3 years ago, two years ago, last year.  Next year it will be different again.

Right now though, I am held together by tea, and by the love of J and the AC.  If I didn't have that, I would shatter into a thousand pieces, like Mrs Dalloways mirror.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wednesday Words - The Prayer of St Barbara

This week I have prayerful Wednesday Words, (although rather late to the party because I've only just realised it's Wednesday - last day of term should be a Friday, surely lol!) 

This is the prayer that was read at Rich's Celebrations.  It is the Prayer of St Barbara, the patron saint of armourers, military engineers, gunsmiths, and those who work with cannon and explosives.

Prayer of him who suffers

Saint Barbara, many people around me lie. Teach me to resemble you by hating falsehood and treachery, and preferring everything to them – even social failure, even humiliation, even poverty,.

Saint Barbara, many people around me hate. Teach me to be like you by returning good for evil and by praying for those who hate me, remembering that Christ said: “If you do not forgive, you will not be forgiven”, and “The measure you use will be the measure used for you”.

Saint Barbara, I am crushed with suffering, and cannot bear any more. Teach me that suffering offered with love is alms, and that it can save a soul. Christ offered me such alms on the cross, and you imitated him in the torture chamber. This is how he saved the world, and how you converted your country.

Help me to remember under what conditions you lived: It will give me courage. Then I will see that I too, can achieve great things with that I have, and that if I do not like what is happening. I can change it by my hidden acts – even though I am small, even though I am alone.

Why this today?

Why not.  It's been a hard couple of weeks for reasons that I cannot fathom.  I've been mysteriously ill at the start of this week.  I was overtaken by tears again yesterday, when I was home all day, technically off sick, and I was looking out of the window in the AC's room, and was just blown out of the water by the sight of our Very Untended Garden which used to be so lovely, because Rich and AC and I used to spend a lot of time out there.  I can't bear it now.

I will have to bear it.

I have to man up, and change the world by my hidden acts, even though I feel so very small, and sometimes, so very alone in this grief, which is suddenly rearing it's head after so very long.  Or not long enough.

Don't forget to do the linky thing with Crazywithtwins who has many lovely poems and words on her blog, and who has succeeded in making me cry tonight with her beautiful Wednesday Words.