A helpful list of Do’s & Don’ts for the VERY mature student…

 

 

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Last week, I returned to college to start a long and potentially life changing journey. Right now, I am just relieved that I’ve started, and I am endeavouring to tackle this challenge one week at a time. I’m still not sure how to juggle the world I already inhabit with a brand new world.  I need to learn to switch seamlessly between the two. Thoughts of what the fuck to put in the packed lunches tomorrow popping into my head whilst I’m trying to engage in a seminar, or the sudden realisation that no-one has any clean pants to wear whilst attempting to contribute to a group discussion, do not really help! Right now, I have to try and take each week as it comes and try and avoid any thoughts of the long game.

With this in mind, and in order to try and get a few things out of my head to make some space for some more useful information, I have compiled a list of…

Things to remember on returning to the world of higher education at the age of 44 and a half.

DO buy a new bag, pens, pencils, notebooks (posh from nice shops, no PUKKA pad from Sainsbury’s in my backpack!) even though these items exist in abundance in my home, to the point where I cannot close the drawers in my desk due to the piles of un-used but very cute, pretty, cool pads lying within.

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New stationery and bag is a must! New books, pen and tin were a lovely gift from a fantastic friend!

DO NOT pick up your 7 year old’s punching unicorn pen by mistake – this will give the wrong impression entirely when taking notes in a serious seminar about serious things.

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This is really a thing & it really resides in my child’s pencil case

DO NOT read the course handbook before you have started the course and then hyperventilate, cry, tell yourself that you have made a hideous mistake and should never have thought in a million years that you could do this.

DO NOT read any course literature whilst a. Sitting in bed or b. Sitting on a comfy chair, as you will definitely fall asleep after reading 3 sentences and wake up 45 minutes later dribbling and panicking.

DO devise a way, whatever you can, to avoid falling asleep on opening any book relating to your course.

DO NOT take a stack of books to the library, sit down, fall asleep and wake up hours later, horrified but not surprised, as this was how I spent 3 years of University and 1 year of Post Graduate study.

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Libraries provide great pillows aka books on which to catch up on much needed sleep!

 

MUST STAY AWAKE – I CANNOT RE-ITERATE THIS ENOUGH.

DO remember to listen when your fellow students are telling you their name.

DO NOT introduce yourself and then forget that under no circumstance should you start thinking about whether your children have eaten their dinner, brushed their teeth or done their homework, when you should be fixing someone’s face and name in your addled brain.

DO buy chocolate and other essential ‘snacks’ to get you through the evening and relish the opportunity to eat these in full view of others, instead of secretly stuffing it in your face in the downstairs loo in order to avoid detection by children who are only allowed sweets on a Saturday.

DO access the facilities of your local library.

DO NOT admit to the librarian that the last time you were in the library was approximately 6 years ago and that you never returned the 4 childrens’ books that you borrowed. It is as a result of this heinous behaviour that I have not been back to the library – too embarrassed to look these good people in the eye and too scared about the hefty fine that I might receive. But this is all in the past, and I merely tested the fact that childrens’ books incur no fines for late return. I have, I believe, contributed a great deal of money in the form of council tax and I hope that my sins are now absolved. I am now fully embracing the world of the library and will be a model customer and avid user of said facility.

DO NOT work out that by the time you get to the end of the whole degree (if indeed you make it that far), you will be 50, yes, 50 years old. I mean, for fuck’s sake. That means I have to accept that I am in my mid 40’s now and arguably should not be entering the realm of the student.

DO NOT dwell on the fact that in the eyes of your fellow students you are middle aged, greying, a bit boring, look like shit, remember the 80’s and enjoy an evening of crochet and desert island discs on the radio.

DO ironically observe that when you are finishing, your oldest child will be well on her way to taking her A-levels and your youngest child will be in her first year at secondary school.

Actually…

DO NOT ironically observe that your children will almost have left home by the time you are qualified. This is quite depressing. Although, perhaps they will be able to give me some good tips on writing essays and revision.

DEFINITELY DO NOT work out that you left university 21 years ago.

DO NOT regale anyone with utterly tedious stories about when you were a student the first time round. It’s not big and it’s not funny and it’s definitely not of interest to anyone else.

DO NOT regale anyone with utterly tedious stories about your children. This is hard because my children are cool and funny and brilliant and I want to tell everyone about them. But on reflection, stories about what they did this morning at breakfast or their many and varied academic/sporting/musical achievements are of no interest to anyone but me.

DO NOT  prioritise cleaning the toilet or hoovering the disgusting floor over having a conversation with your child or your partner, or just sitting down to watch the bake off (even though it has moved to channel 4 and I’m still not sure about the new presenters)

DO remind yourself that whilst you feel old and exhausted and pulled in more directions than can be expressed, this is something that can be achieved and that it is worth it.

DO drink wine

DO NOT: PANIC
DO NOT: QUIT
DO NOT: PROCASTINATE

DO Get off your arse and go and do some studying!

 

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The Tooth Fairy Manifesto

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When I became a mother, after exhausting, painful hours of labour and the relief/shock of suddenly finding a new little person in my arms, I was presented with a free Pampers goodie bag. Wow! I remember feeling quite excited. A pack full of free things. How lucky is that? If I’m honest, it was a total and utter let down as I discovered that this bag contained nothing more than money off vouchers for branded nappies and formula and a little NHS booklet containing patronising advice about how to care for a new born baby. Now, some years later, and with the benefit of several years of child rearing, I feel that what would have been a whole lot more useful would have been a book of rules and instructions for some of the more murky areas of parenthood…

Over the years, I have woven a complex and sometimes, although I say it myself, impressive web of lies surrounding the existence and lifestyle of the many and varied members of the magic community who populate our childrens’ lives. What is the MO of Santa’s elves, where does Santa live, what does Rudolph really like to eat on Christmas Eve? What does the Easter Bunny look like and how does he/she deliver all the branded chocolate to our homes? How does the tooth fairy get under your child’s pillow and leave money without detection?

This is a good one – How come the tooth fairy sometimes doesn’t come for days even though your child leaves countless notes and gifts with their tooth? How do parents know that the tooth fairy is sometimes so busy that they can’t come the same night, and why does it often coincide with the fact that mummy has fallen asleep on the sofa after that last glass of wine and has then hauled her fat arse to bed!

None of this is news to any parents out there. We all do it. We collude in the lie, we try desperately to remember all the elaborate tales that we tell and which seem to be swallowed whole and taken on board. Goodness only knows what our childrens’ dreams consist of.

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A recent letter to the tooth fairy – this time she even gave it a hashtag!  Can you see the tooth in the middle?  You might need a magnifying glass!

Anyway, last week, my daughter’s tooth fell out, her 3rd. A tiny, virtually non-existent appendage. I can’t believe something so small had been carrying out a functional role in her mouth! That evening, she wrote a little note for the tooth fairy, placed it and the microscopic tooth in an envelope and slid it under her pillow.

The envelope is a new addition to the saga, following an unfortunate event when the tooth fairy spent a long time fumbling around in the dark searching for another similarly minute tooth. It was nowhere to be found so the tooth fairy had no choice (and was so tired that she just wanted to go to bed) but to leave the money and hope that the next morning the tooth would remain hidden allowing for the tooth fairy to do a full sweep of the bed area in daylight and find the tooth which was clearly not visible to the naked eye. Sadly, the child did in fact find the tooth, so mummy dutifully added yet another string to the bow of lies and explained that the tooth fairy sometimes thinks the teeth are so beautiful that the child should be able to keep the tooth for posterity. She bought it. I made a mental note to remember what I had just said. I should have written all this shit down. I really have no idea what I have said over the years.

So, this time, it would seem I had done belt and braces and this was a bog standard tooth fairy scenario – don’t go to bed and forget, take the envelope, deposit the cash, boom, the magic stays alive.

As my daughter was going to bed she smiled wistfully and told me how excited she was that the tooth fairy was coming that night. I smiled. Yes, she said, her friend had recently lost a tooth and the tooth fairy had brought her a gift.

“Oh” I said, “what was that?”
“A sticker book.” she replied. “Yes, maybe the tooth fairy will bring me that Rainbow Dash book I want”
For those of you lucky enough not to know, Rainbow Dash is a member of the (in my opinion) much reviled and hated My Little Pony franchise that has reigned for too bloody long in this house. The book in question is a free book that comes with the utterly shite magazine that costs far too much and comes adorned with plastic crap and, in this case, a thin book.

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This is Rainbow Dash from My Little Pony.

Oh how my heart sank as she said this. So many things that I wanted to say. So many feelings went coursing through me. The first one was, shit, it’s 8pm and my husband is out so it is impossible to go to a shop that might still be open and that might possibly sell this awful publication so that I can keep the tooth fairy dream alive. The second thing that went through my mind was, since when did the tooth fairy deliver actual presents – it’s money, she/he/it leaves money and surely this is understood worldwide? And yes, she leaves whatever change is available at the time – I guess there is a going rate which these days seems to have escalated to around £2. But let’s face it, at that age, a few shiny coins usually hits the spot.

I made a few comments to try and deflect this certainty on my daughter’s part, that in the morning a magazine would have replaced her diminutive piece of enamel. But it seemed to bounce off her as if there was an anti bullshit force field around her. I abandoned the child and sought solace in wine and master chef.

At midnight, true to form, I woke with a start and remembered that the fucking tooth fairy hadn’t done her duties. So I woke myself up enough to get out of bed, scrabbled around in my purse and managed to find some change. I fell back into bed feeling totally relieved that I had not completely forgotten and that I had pulled the situation back from the brink of disaster. As I drifted back off to sleep I smiled as I imagined how finding the coins would dismiss all thoughts of magazines and all would be right with the world. How ridiculous, the tooth fairy bringing presents, how ridiculous.

A new day dawned. For once, as I came crashing downstairs already racing against time, thinking only of coffee and what I could scrape together for packed lunches, I did not have to pull the duvet off my cosy, snoring child as she was already sitting up in bed. To be more accurate, she was kneeling on her bed, facing her pillow, head bowed. I approached her, expecting to find a face beaming with joy and excitement at finding money under her pillow and the envelope containing her tooth miraculously gone. But no, I found a sad face, eyes brimming with tears. Shit. The acting started:

“What’s wrong? Didn’t the tooth fairy come? What’s happened?”
“No, the tooth fairy came” – she opened her palm to reveal 2 shiny pound coins.
“Oh, that’s great! That’s so much money! You lucky girl. Go on, put it in your money box. Why are you so sad?”

Here it comes…
“Why didn’t she bring the magazine?”
“Well, she’s only tiny isn’t she. Perhaps she couldn’t carry such a big magazine. She’s really busy too.”
“But my friend got the sticker book. She must be able to carry it”

At this point my eldest daughter came into the room. She has ‘known’ for a while but she is committed to keeping the dream alive, thank goodness. She suggested that maybe it was a different tooth fairy. Obviously, there are loads of tooth fairies worldwide!

This didn’t seem to cut it for her at that moment. So we tried another angle: perhaps the tooth fairy couldn’t find that specific Rainbow Dash book;

“After all” I said, “I think that book is very hard to find. The money was clearly left for you to go and buy the magazine yourself.”

Ok, this went down a bit better, the tears were abating. Ah, but then she remembered that she only had £2 and magazines cost more than that. Yes, of course, all those occasions in the shop when I flat refuse to buy these terrible publications stating that they cost an arm and a leg. So, of course, I found myself desperately fumbling around and then I heard myself promising to buy the magazine and pay the difference. Oh for fuck’s sake. This is not what was supposed to happen.

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I found myself thinking, why don’t new parents get the starter pack that we all really need? A sort of guide to the myths surrounding all the magical creatures who will fill our lives. There would be useful role play sections highlighting situations that may occur with your children, giving you possible answers and solutions to these difficult but common scenarios! Things such as, where does the tooth fairy come from? How does she get into the house? What exactly does she leave under your pillow? If she doesn’t come the first night, why not, and when will she actually get here?

Most importantly, there would be a very useful section entitled – Things NOT to do or say. These rules must NEVER be violated as it fucks it up for everyone else, right? Are you with me here? If we all stick to the rules, then we will all be happy, capiche? And our kids? Yes, one day they may hate our guts for a bit as the veil falls from their eyes and they see everything in stark, boring, grown up reality, but then they will understand and they will pass it all on and keep the dream alive. But only if we all stick to the rules – YES?

For the love of Pod!

 

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Oh my word, I love Desert Island Discs. That isn’t forceful enough. This requires a shout from the rooftops. I LOVE DESERT ISLAND DISCS! It is possibly the most perfect programme ever devised. I am arguably obsessed beyond what might be considered normal or acceptable with Kirsty Young and her liquid gold voice. I cry at the end of every episode when she says in her heartfelt way, “Thank you VERY much for letting us hear your Desert Island Discs”. I feel like she bores into the heart of these people and extracts things that you will never hear in another interview with them.

I became obsessed with Desert Island Discs when I was on maternity leave with my 3rd child. I would download and listen whilst doing the mundane jobs in the house. It became the sound track to my ironing, my hoovering (headphones on), my utterly interminably boring treks round Aldi, and then, when I had some time to myself, my crochet and my waiting around in the car for clubs and school to finish. I accessed the archives and found people I had never heard of or knew only vaguely about. I critiqued the styles of the various presenters, although I never cared much for Michael Parkinson and whilst Sue Lawley was good, she was perhaps not my type!

 

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But still, the format, the people and the peace it brought me, kept me coming back for more. I have just listened to the 3 hour special celebrating 75 years. I have loved every minute and I am excited that there are more episodes to be found in the archives. It amazes me and pleases me. This humble broadcast is a slice of modern history. It is literally an archive of the people who have shaped our humanity. It is fascinating to hear the evolution of the way people spoke in the 50’s to the present day. The trajectory of the gramophone record over 75 short years – now more of a concept than an object to touch, to hold.

And yet, the one immoveable point remains, and the reason why this programme is as relevant now as it was in 1942; the simple fact that music informs our lives, contains within its abstract ethereal nature, strong, individual narratives and personal memories that turn one global thing into something unique to each of us. It is this fascinating truth, that whoever you are, whether you are royalty, comedian, musician, writer, innovator or groundbreaking scientist, that one piece of music that millions of other people listen to and love, still defines an era in their life, still contains importance and resonates with something in them. It is a great leveller. Perhaps that’s why it is such a clever idea. It is at the same time unique and individual, yet global and proletarian. This is why it is not the sort of interview where us plebs are left feeling like we are less than these great and famous people, but instead that they are just like us and we are just like them – people with memories and experiences which are precariously held in the shared memory and narrative of popular culture.

I believe I am a podcast bore! Podcasts. The thing that didn’t exist 10 years ago. The idea of such a thing. I remember getting our first digital radio and trying to understand that I could pause live radio! that I could come back later and listen to something that had just been broadcast! I reached an age where having music on in the background just didn’t do it for me. Those months where I would be awake, feeding my baby in the middle of the night, they were times when the voices on the radio would keep me company. These voices have become my companion in my world of stay at home mumdom!

I look forward to Woman’s Hour! And I love listening to the news quiz and Kermode and Mayo’s film podcast, or the very funny Adam Buxton, as I go about my daily life. I love hearing other people talk about their wonderful lives and worlds and feelings and thoughts. I feel connected to the world outside. I also often feel like I am a sad loser who has no life and must rely on the lives of others to exist. But in an attempt to remain positive and upbeat it also highlights the diverse wonder of the world I live in and the life I have. I am no scientist, but listening to The Infinite Monkey Cage for instance can provide an insight into concepts and ideas that I have no way of accessing on my own, being a total philistine when it comes to science. And then I always return to and savour my weekly hit of Desert Island Discs, always my favourite, go to place for solace and enjoyment and therapy!

 

I Skyped with my friend in Australia last week. Another treat! My fix of someone who just gets me, my topping up of ‘ah yes, that’s who I am’ conversation. She is the person who just knows who I am so we don’t need to go through all the preamble. It’s just, boom, 2 hours of total connection. Usually, at some point in our chats, she’ll say ‘what are you reading?’ And now inevitably we also discuss what podcasts we are listening to. It is hard when you have come to the end of a run of a particularly brilliant podcast, something like ‘Serial’ or ‘My Dad Wrote a Porno’.

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Antoon van Welie (Dutch 1866-1956) Portrait of an Old Woman Crocheting – or, portrait of me!!!

I binge listened to Radio 4’s back catalogue of Soul Music last year and regretted immediately that I hadn’t rationed it because I wanted to experience it all over again. And I guess I feel like I am at this point with my beloved DID because enough time has passed now where I can revisit some favourites, like Lauren Bacall, Dustin Hoffman or Gene Wilder and hear their stories again.

Anyway, I have tentatively subscribed to some new podcasts, I have stepped away from the Radio 4 shed to tread new waters. I feel a little bit like I am cheating on an old and beloved friend. But, it has to be done. I need to spread my wings. I need to try and find some new obsessions for 2 main reasons. One is that I will soon run out of my trusty old faithfuls and two, because I am aware that my tastes are rather old lady and perhaps I should be aiming more at things that are intended for a slightly younger demographic (not that I am young anymore, but I can dream). I realise that whilst many of my friends of a similar age are still listening to banging tunes, applying make up, brushing their hair, keeping an eye on fashion and generally occupying their time with slightly less octogenarian pursuits, I am listening to podcasts, mainly from radio 4 and making sure that I have a crochet hook and a ball of wool with me wherever I go.

So, here I go. My choices today include, ‘The Guilty Feminist’, ‘Radiolab’ and ‘WTF with Marc Maron’. Anybody got any recommendations? I’d be glad to get them and give them a go! Wish me luck, I’m going in, but not before I’ve listened to David Beckham’s DID and had a quiet sob!

Mermaids Trump Shark

So, yesterday was a pretty shitty day. Just the same as with the EU referendum, I had gone to bed at 1.30am having seen Clinton edging ahead and I felt a bit less twitchy. I woke up to the words President and Trump being bandied around. Came downstairs to the boy watching BBC News and looking scared and confused. It had rained all night and continued to rain heavily. It felt like the day was a direct representation of what was happening on a global scale. It is hard to laugh right now. Scary times. Forgive me then for this trivial frippery of a blogpost. But in a way, this is all I can talk about right now, because anything else is just too scary or painful.  It might also make you smile which is hopefully a positive thing. I mean, bear in mind that by smiling or laughing you are directly laughing AT me, but given the disastrous situation out there in the world, I think I will not take offence if you do decide to laugh.

Last week I finished my latest craft project. It started in September when I made a mermaid tail blanket for my youngest for her birthday. Have you seen them?

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It’s like a big tube with a tail really.  Very sweet.  Looks like you’ve got a mermaid tail, albeit a cosy, woolly one which wouldn’t be happy should it get wet. I was very excited to give it to her because she had told me that she really wanted to be a mermaid! I mean, she liked it when she saw it but she didn’t gush all over it as I had secretly hoped in my heart.

Surely you will agree that if you make something with love, and you use those precious moments after kids have been shouted at, fed, watered, put to bed (which is getting later and later by the way) that you want some kind of positive response, at worst a smile, at best a hug.  You know, when all the shit from dinner has been tidied up etc., and you have awoken from your post meal nap on the sofa and then settle down with your craft project whilst drinking wine, eating chocolate and watching violent shows on Netflix such as Fargo, (that your husband has assured you won’t be too bad at all but is in fact the goriest, bloodiest thing you’ve watched since the last gory, bloody thing we watched, and by now you are completely hooked anyway, even though you have to hide behind your hands for a lot of it, but hey, that’s why crochet is so great because you can look down at what you are doing and count how many stitches you’ve gained by accident) you do want some love back.

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I realise in hindsight that it is churlish and naive to expect a 6 year old to heap praise and gratitude on her mum for a homemade thing! I know I was extremely unimpressed with home knits when I was that age.  The plastic my little pony equestria girls won out on the day. However, the blanket is now very popular and when my other children wanted to use it, the 6 year old got a bit antsy and territorial not wanting to share it. This secretly pleased me as it indicated that she had grown an attachment to it, and I resolved to make 2 more blankets for my son and oldest daughter so that there would be no more squabbling.  I had admittedly bought quite a lot of wool so I did need to use it up. I made another one for the oldest child and then my friend asked me to make one for her daughter! So I whipped one up for her.

Can you tell I’m feeling quite smug here? And then my friend made an inspired suggestion. For the son, a shark tail blanket! The clever lady who sold the pattern for the mermaid tail also luckily had a pattern for a shark. You should check out her patterns here.

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The shark was a bit of a longer project as it involved a dorsal fin and side fins and teeth! Different wool too. But I was so chuffed when I finally finished it. I pulled a late night in front of a documentary about Kate Bush. Very satisfactory! My son loved it. I took some cool pictures of him in his blanket which look like he is being eaten by the shark. I was very very pleased. The only problem was that when I showed my husband, oldest daughter and other family members some photos of him in his blanket, they all laughed quite a lot. And then I saw it as if with new eyes and I realised why they were so amused. As you can see from these pictures, it is quite glaringly obvious!

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Yes yes, it’s ok, you are allowed to laugh. I seem to have created the most phallic shark fin imaginable. I laughed but then I got extremely irritated! They just don’t bloody understand, I was thinking. I have slaved for hours to make this fucking thing and you are all laughing. I think it is safe to say that I over-reacted and possibly should have lightened up slightly! I was certainly a little bit sensitive about my crafty endeavours. It played on my mind. I kept looking at the picture on the pattern. Where had I gone wrong? Why didn’t it look so rude on her pictures?  It really was not bothering my boy, but still, it niggled away.  So, the other day I unpicked it, did a bit of jiggling around and took some stuffing out of the fin so that it has now gone a bit floppy but it is now more triangular than willy shaped!!  I then took a photo of my son lying on his side in order to deflect the idea that the fin is sitting in ‘that’ place! I’m still thinking about it though!

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Is it worse that it is now a bit floppy rather than sticking up all the time? Why can’t I make it look less funny or phallic? Why do I care quite frankly? No-one else is going to see it (apart from anyone who reads this now I guess).  But seriously, Donald Trump has just won the Presidential Election.  Need I say more?

I’ve just had a request for another mermaid tail blanket.  I will happily make it. At least there will be no ambiguous phallus/fin to contend with. But first of all I am going to make some cute Santa slippers for everyone in my house. Yes, everyone. No, I don’t give a shit if they want them or not! Double edged sword living with a crochet obsessed person!

The Shopkins Effect

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can you tell that this was not created using a template from the internet?

Back in May I talked about my youngest child’s 2 week abstinence from poohing! As a result, I hastily created a sticker chart. I say a chart, I drew some wobbly lines and wrote Pooh Stickers all over it which amused me because it made me think of Pooh Sticks in Winnie the Pooh. Nobody else seemed to get the joke though.  Oh well.  The rules were as follows: 2 small rabbit pellet poohs get 1 sticker, a medium sized pooh (left to discretion of inspector) gets 2 and a mahoosive log gets 3. Fair enough I thought. When she has filled in one row, she would get a prize up to a certain value.

Anyway, the Pooh Sticker Chart is going very well. There have been leaps and bounds and massive mounds of pooh! And stickers galore. This has resulted in an abundance of Shopkins.

What, I hear you ask are Shopkins?  Good question. I had no idea either. They are very small plastic collectible figures that mainly resemble items of food from celery to doughnuts, but sometimes home appliances like vacuum cleaners. They have little faces and come with tiny shopping baskets that I assume they must live in. They each have a name that relates to what they are like Cheekie Cherry and Pamela Pancake and some are apparently more rare than others.  Having investigated on the internet, I am informed that they have their own Youtube channel and a Twitter account.  They seem to have no provenance like a TV show or cartoon. They are utterly utterly bizarre, useless and I am unable to understand their purpose. Yet, they are truly a victory for the world of marketing as they are advertised mercilessly on the childrens’ tv channels resulting in children like my daughter believing that this is something they really really need.

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the ever increasing Shopkins collection

What does the kid do with them? Well, she mainly tips them out of her bag and lines them up and then she puts them back in her bag. Nice. That’s worth it then!

But actually, on balance, at the moment I am forced to say that yes, it is worth it as it is currently providing the most regular bowel movements of her 5 year existence!

One question I have asked myself is, when will the pooh chart be able to be safely shelved? How many weeks, months, years will the chart be the crutch, the incentive for a regular bowel movement? And, more crucially, how much more money can I justify spending on this stuff that, let’s face it, may well find its way into the bin before the year is out? There is a large part of me that feels guilty for denying my oldest daughter the joy of Silvanian Families or the other odd collectibles that were the rage when she was 5. I happily bought all that stuff for her friends’ birthday presents, delighting in palming off the tiny furry figures and their even tinier accessories.  Ha ha I would chuckle to myself – no child of mine will collect strange little items that will sit gathering dust and silently mocking my errant cleaning skills and chiding my empty bank account.

And yet, here I am in desperate times, bribing the youngest with tiny plastic avocadoes with scary faces. This is not helped by her obsession with Youtube and its abundance of films of what can only be described as saddo (though undoubtedly very shrewd) adults, usually American, who collect these things and film themselves opening the packages and cooing over them in high pitched whiney voices. The most prolific of these is Cookie C Swirl who seems to like Shopkins as well as the miniature My Little Pony toys that come in Kinder Eggs.  She gets hundreds of thousands of views which is just mind-blowing to me and inexplicable really.  But, whilst totally freaky, it is I guess, harmless and is clearly very lucrative for Cookie C Swirl!  And hey, because of it, my daughter is producing body waste every other day and is a whole lot more chirpy. We all have our crosses to bear.

2 weeks ago I lived in a different country…

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I wrote something a few weeks ago about the EU. It was late, the time I usually get the urge to write. The next morning, I had second thoughts. I don’t want to be political. I don’t want to alienate people. I don’t want to make it personal. I decided against it.

But after what happened yesterday, I feel a bit different. I can honestly say that I feel sad, angry, scared, frustrated and downright impotent. I was always concerned that this country of ours might vote to leave the EU, but I always finished my thought with, ‘but that won’t ever happen’. When I woke up at 3am on Friday morning and heard Farage making his victory speech before the official results had even been announced I was too scared to go back to sleep. I cried on and off until the rest of the house woke up, and then I cried again, from shock mainly. And the sudden realisation that actually, yes, this is personal. Nigel said this was a victory for ordinary and decent people. Well, what does that make me then?

So, I’m not going to have a rant. I’m not an expert. I have already read numerous, brilliantly written articles expressing exactly how I feel and more about the nightmare that I woke up to yesterday. I know how I feel and how I will always feel. But I have decided that I would like to share what I wrote 2 weeks ago. Perhaps, luckily, hardly anyone reads this anyway. But I would like my feelings to be out there should anyone wish to see it…

 2 weeks ago:

I hesitate when I think about how to describe my national identity. I am British and I am white. But this is not enough of a statement for me.

Like many other people in the UK, my sister and I are the product of two people who cannot trace their name back through multiple generations. My Mum came to the UK from Denmark in the 60’s and got a job as an au pair. My Dad, a child of Jewish parents, whose own parents had arrived in London escaping persecution from Eastern Europe in the early 1900’s, was born and raised in Hackney in East London. He met my Mum and the rest, as they say is history. I am devastatingly proud of my Danish/East London/Jewish roots. It’s an interesting combination.

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Wonderful Copenhagen in Denmark
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Best city in the world (in my opinion!)

 

 

 

 

Essentially though, to everyday life, and in my role as ‘me’, this is irrelevant as I am just a British person who grew up in a North London suburb.

Now that I have children of my own, preserving some connection to my Danish/Jewish heritage is one of my goals in life. I am sadly aware that with each generation it will be diluted further and further. Their sense of belonging to a wider more far reaching community might be completely lost if we leave the EU.

When I think about what makes me, I have to come to the conclusion that it’s complicated. The main thing I think is that I am bloody grateful that I was born in Britain, and perhaps more specifically, in London, and that I am British. And the reason I think that is because I am the sum of many parts that are definitely not British. This nation comprised of so many other nations. This place that for whatever reasons has allowed people from other nations to settle here, shaping a society and a culture that is unlike any other. How lucky is that?

I don’t belong anywhere else. I love that I am a Londoner. But I have this invisible cord that ties me to other places, other cultures, other philosophies. And I can see how they make the country I live in such a potentially wonderful place.

The glow of pride I feel every time someone praises Danish design, or raves about a Danish crime drama is ridiculous! I am grateful for my crafty crochet/knitting gene, and for my pickled herring and snaps gene and for my love of cosy but minimalist interior design gene! Equally, I am proud of my Jewish heritage and its Eastern European influence on me, the fatalistic, unique sense of humour, the connection I feel to East London, love of pickles, chicken soup and chopped liver!

And more than any of that, the pride I feel when I tell people that I am from London surpasses all of those things. It all sounds very flouncy I know, but the diversity of it all is a precious precious thing.

Perhaps now, what is important to me is knowing that my children will be given the opportunity to perhaps forge their own unique dynasties comprising multiple cultures and experiences, or at least mix with and live alongside them. I hope they will anyway. Perhaps, if things change for us as Europeans, we will have to find a new place to settle where that kind of freedom and inclusiveness will still be available to them.

So, that was 2 weeks ago. What a difference an EU referendum makes. What about today, Saturday 25th June 2016? Suddenly Britain feels like a different, less diverse, less tolerant prospect.

I guess I would have to say that if you asked me right now how I would describe myself, I would say that I would like to stand up and be counted as a European first and foremost, and, from now on I am proud to call myself an immigrant citizen of London.

Finally I want to end with a quote from my incredibly sensitive and intelligent 9 year old son, who when asked about his thoughts on the UK leaving the EU said the following:

“A lot of people are living in the past. We are a tiny island in a massive world. We haven’t got an Empire any more; it’s not the same. We aren’t as powerful as we think we are.”

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11 things I thought about at the supermarket today…

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Ahh, she looks like she’s having so much fun…
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hmm, choices, choices. What the hell am I going to do with this?What is it anyway?

 

 

 

 

 

1.Why am I in a supermarket again… on a Saturday? I mean, I did a mammoth shop at Aldi on Monday and felt really smug. Yes, I walked out thinking I’d got a load of shopping for much less than had I gone to Sainsburys or Waitrose and it’s Monday, and I won’t have to go shopping again until next Monday. But don’t I ever remember that I find myself in some form of supermarket every single fucking day? And especially on a Saturday because I always think, oh, never mind, the weekend will be chilled and laid back and laissez faire and I have no idea what to make for dinner EVER. But obviously laid back and laissez faire still requires real edible stuff that will sustain and nourish, not just the sodding idea of it.

2.  Mmmmmm, crumpets. Mmmmm bagels. Mmmmmm bread products.   Hmmmm, should have eaten before going to the supermarket in order to avoid craving massive doorstep sandwiches and crisps and doughnuts and other baked items.

3. I’m buying super expensive plastic punnets of fruit AGAIN. I hate buying so much prepackaged stuff, I hate all the plastic and I don’t understand why I have to buy so much fruit. Sudden warm glow comes over me as I realise it’s because my children must have a bit of healthy shit in their diet as they seem to get through a lot of really bloody expensive fruit.

4. There’s so much stuff in the fridge, freezer, cupboards at home. If I was better at this whole stay at home mum thing I would have batch cooked loads of pulse based healthy meals like daal and chick pea stew that everyone would obviously love and derive great nourishment and positive health benefits from and I would be spending my Saturday in the bosom of my family playing rewarding and educational games with my children. They would absolutely not be watching back to back football/my little pony/Netflix whilst demanding sweets and bickering. I would not be pushing a trolley up and down the aisles hoping that inspiration will leap out and grab me, giving me the ability to so something unbelievably exciting and delicious with the same old ingredients.

5. If I was on my own, I would quite happily eat sandwiches or cereal every day for dinner. It’s not that I don’t adore food and all the different ways it can be cooked. It’s just that I really cannot be arsed to be the one to do it.

6. I know I will get to making packed lunches on Monday and there will be NOTHING in the house to put in them.

7. I will get home and realise I have forgotten the one thing I went to the supermarket to get. (I did by the way)

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I love you Pepa Pig, but no-one EVER looks this happy when they take their children to the supermarket!

8. People who take their children to the supermarket are either saints or like to inflict as much damage on their own mental state and those of their fellow shoppers as possible. The last time I was forced to take all 3 children into a supermarket at the same time, I had reached full volume and had used up all of my (ropey) techniques to distract, threaten or blackmail by the end of the vegetable aisle. I literally had nowhere to go emotionally or in a disciplinary sense and I looked like a totally incompetent and sad individual. Respect is due to the parents who manage to get round a supermarket with all their children behaving beautifully.

9. Respect is also due to people who are so organised that they work out meals for the week, check their cupboards first, write a shopping list and stick to it. Happy and fulfilled are the people who achieve this, I am convinced. I have been to a supermarket on average once a week since I was 14, on my own, doing a weekly shop. I hate it. I am no better at it than I was when I was a teenager.

10. LET’S JUST GET A TAKEAWAY EVERY DAY. I DON’T CARE WHAT JAMIE OLIVER SAYS. CHICKEN NUGGETS LOOK FINE TO ME.

11. Why? Why won’t the self service till recognise my bags?! Why am I attempting to converse with the self service till? Why am I fulfilling my destiny to become that embarrassing mother who makes her long suffering children cringe because I am moaning at electronic machines and cooing over random babies that I come across.

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