Wednesday, 28 November 2012


I knew she wasn’t at all happy about it. She’d told me several times she didn’t want to take part.

At my daughter’s annual statement review today I found out exactly what lay behind this strength of feeling. I can’t say I blame her.

Her class are being forced to sing a Cliff Richard song in the school's Christmas show.

I couldn’t bring myself to ask if it was Mistletoe And Wine. I chose ignorance. Otherwise, how could I live with the guilt?

The Cliff-hanger was an amusing highlight of a strong and positive meeting. I came away feeling inspired by the enthusiasm, insight, and goddamn common sense talked by my daughter's teacher. I felt reassured by the suggestions, strategies and plans we discussed. 

Oh, and the Sir Clifford story had a happy ending, too.

The teacher explained: “She’s not been keen and had said she didn’t like it, and wouldn't do it, even though I told her that we were doing a bit of a funny twist on the song and everyone in the class would be joining in.” (Apparently, it had become a bit of a theme in the class, with the others trying to persuade her, and her digging her heels in for days and days, stubbornly refusing to countenance the idea of taking part).

Her teacher continued: “At one point, she even told me she was going back to the primary site and would be performing as Mary in the Nativity instead, which was...well.. interesting... as they aren’t even doing a Nativity.”

“But the other day she announced that even though she didn’t like the song she would do it. And do you know what happened?”

I shook my head, unable to guess.

“The rest of the class gave her a huge cheer and a round of applause! It was a really big thing: they were all so happy she’d agreed.”

This fair warmed the cockles of my heart, I can tell you. Although we’ll have to wait and see how my mood changes when I actually hear Cliff’s cockle-cooling cacophony.

There is no way I’m posting one of his songs here, no way.

Related posts:

Thursday, 22 November 2012


We have a meeting next week at my daughter’s school.

It’s the Annual Review for her Statement of Special Needs - the first one she’s had since she’s been placed in her special school’s satellite class at the local mainstream secondary.

We’ve been reading through the detailed report provided by her teacher, which describes how our girl has settled in, what her behaviour has been like, what strengths she is showing, what fixations she has, her confidence levels, her independence, and how she’s performing in different subjects. It also reviews each of her ‘Statement Objectives’, which detail the areas where she needs extra help and focus.

This may all sound a bit ‘management-speak’. Like those god-awful ‘appraisals’ I vaguely remember from my previous life in office-land.

But it’s not like that. It looks like a sheaf of dull paperwork, but it really isn’t. It’s a fascinating description of my daughter’s school life. It’s a report that rings true. It matches the unique personality of our girl. 

It’s illuminating and familiar.

We’re in the loop. What's more, we're riding the same rollercoaster.

Video is Robert Wyatt - Lullaloop

Tuesday, 13 November 2012


Two hours sleep is not enough to survive on. It makes you slightly unhinged. Margaret Thatcher managed on four, and to be honest that explains a lot.

Last night we had meltdown. I’m still trying to get to the bottom of why it happened, but so far I’m stumped. 120 minutes kip is not sufficient to keep the brain cells whirring fast enough to do the necessary sleuthing. I’m chalking it up to ‘just one of those days’.

My daughter had had a twitchy evening, asking random questions, repeating herself, and nervously sticking her fingers in her mouth.

The volume got louder, the questions more off-kilter.

“Am I going to shrink. Shrink. SHRINK?” was the starter for ten (explained by the fact that her prescription for growth hormone hadn’t been ready at the chemists, so she knew she’d miss her injection for one night).

Next minute, it was “Is Hitler alive? Hitler. Hitler. HITLER!” (this one made me laugh, I must admit. She’d been learning about World War II in her history lesson. Apparently at one stage, she thought he was in the school toilets). 

“No, he’s dead. He died in 1945, sweetheart. Sixty something years ago.”
“Ah, so if he hadn’t died he’d be dead.”
“That’s right.”

This was a bright spot in a dark night.

From this point onwards, my usually compliant, polite daughter clambered into her stubborn shoes and wouldn’t take the cement bastards off.

Getting her to have a shower was a battle I wish I’d never started. Getting her to clean her teeth was another. Persuading her to stop cleaning them was another. She didn’t want to go to bed, she got up six times for a wee, she turned her light back on countless times, searching her room for books she couldn’t find, wandering down the stairs to put them in her school bag and take them out again. All the time, all requests were ignored or given some serious attitude. “NO. I WON’T. I’M JUST DOING THIS. No, no, NO. I will NOT.” Every time I told her off, she giggled to the point of hysterics. Threats to ban favourite toys, and subsequent confiscations, had no impact.

I tried ignoring her because surely she’d flag, but after hours more of footsteps, bangs and crashes from her room, more visits to the loo, her dad ominously putting a shelf-load of books in a black bin-bag, more loud backchat, and finally, the piéce de resistance - wetting the bed (quite deliberately) at 4am, I gave up. Nothing, and I mean nothing was going to stop her mini-rampage. So I left her to it, and snatched a couple of hours kip.

This morning, I was shattered. My daughter, of course, was bright and breezy. 

She smiled up at me, bashfully. “I’m sorry, Mummy. I’m going to be really good today.”

Video is Eels - Unhinged

Related posts: 

Sunday, 11 November 2012


“Well, really. I didn’t think you were like that.”

I lay in the bath, listening to the sound of my daughter downstairs, admonishing someone.

“You swored. It’s not nice to swore. I thought you were better than that.”

I smiled to myself, wondering which imaginary friend was getting the telling-off. Was it Freya? If so, an invisible, silent girl developing a hitherto previously-unexpressed Anglo-Saxon vocabulary was an interesting development.

“You’re being resp..resp..resp...dis-respect-ful, Jessie J. I’m disappointed in you.” 

So it was a pop star who was in trouble. I realised what had happened, and shouted downstairs to my husband to check exactly what our daughter was looking up on YouTube, while I clambered out from my bubble-filled tub.

She’d been trying to watch a video for one of the songs from her Pop Princess compilation CD, but had stumbled across a demo version with fruity language.

“It had the F word, Mum. She doesn’t say that on my CD. It’s rude.”

I agreed. We had a brief chat about looking for “(clean version)” in the title of videos, and avoiding “(explicit lyrics)”, to prevent any further unpleasantness.

“I still want her book, 'Jessie J: Nice To Meet You - My Story', for Christmas, Mum. She doesn’t swore in that.”

I know all about the book. My daughter's been reading a library copy of it OUT LOUD continuously for the past few days. 

If Santa brings it, it won't be Jessie who'll be doing the sworing around here.

Video is Calexico - Gypsy's Curse (You didn't really think it was going to be Jessie J, did you?)

Related Posts: 

Friday, 9 November 2012


Aunty Betty and Uncle Stan
We’ve been to the funeral of a grand old girl.

My daughter stood next to me in church guessing the tune to a hymn and watching wide-eyed as we said goodbye to my Great Aunty Betty.

I reminded my girl that when she was just a tot she had a special name for Aunty Betty, who always had a box of Lego and Duplo for small family members to play with. “I remember,” she said. “I used to call her Betty Bricks!”

Betty’s two daughters made wonderful, warm speeches about her. My mum did a reading, her confident voice belying her nervousness.

The family gathered after the service at the local football club, where Betty (an unlikely 87-year-old football fan) had attended hundreds of games and had been treated like royalty.

My girl felt grown-up being with all the adults at a serious occasion. I told her I was very proud of her. 

“It was a nice coffin, wasn’t it?” she said, brightly, to one of Betty’s daughters. “Betty was 4ft 10in tall, just like me.”

Video is Glenn Miller - Moonlight Serenade, which was played as Betty's entrance music. A classy song for a classy lady.

Sunday, 4 November 2012


My friends' fireworks party went off with a bang. Well, several bangs, a collection of whomps and at least half a dozen kabooms.

There were also fizzes, flashes, cascades of colour, muddy shoes, red cheeks, hat hair, crackling wood, sizzling sausages, oohs, aaahs, and not a spark of trouble.

My daughter slept all the way home, the motorway lights flashing rhythmically across her face as music rang out from our car stereo, mixing with the light sabre swooshes from my boy's Lego Star Wars DS game.

The Force was strong with us last night.

Video is Inspiral Carpets - Irresistible Force

Related post: Fireworks

Saturday, 3 November 2012


Tonight we wage Alien War.

We’re heading across country to a friend’s house for a Fireworks Night party. We have a large combustible package stashed in the boot. 

It’s always a crash bang wallop of a night, with a display that puts most organised events to shame. Everyone who comes is instructed to bring one big firework, which all feature in a thunderous finalé, accompanied by shouts of: “That’s mine!” “No, that’s MINE!” 

Our firework is called Alien War. This is a cool name, whether you’re four, fourteen, or forty.

The war nomenclature is apt, as our plans, as usual, are military in nature:

  • We’ve just had our hot dinner at lunchtime (a change to the normal drill that has been properly negotiated with our routine-loving daughter). 
  • We’re packing no-sugar sweets and a couple of low calorie snacks (factored into today’s army rations).
  • My daughter will be having hot dogs tonight (I know the make, the calories, and how many she can have). This has been sold as a “cold tea” although there has been much discussion as to how it is actually a “cold and hot tea”, which I fear will repeated ad infinitum on the way there. And back. 
  • I’ll also be taking a low fat pudding and fruit. 
  • She’ll be eating later than usual, but understands this, and although she’ll be hungry she really wants to eat at the same time as my friends’ kids, so I’m confident she’ll hold out.
  • Appropriate clothing is vital. My girl’s odd circulation means her hands and feet get like blocks of ice, so we’ll be thermalling up with plenty of layers. The kitbag contains a very warm hat, scarf, and gloves.

The preparations are complete. Now I just have to work out how to tether my boy so he doesn’t hop on the back of a rocket and head skywards.

Video is Horace Andy - Skylarking

Video is The Aliens - Magic Man