Friday, 6 January 2012

Exam nerves

One of the teachers at The Boy's school put the following on his Facebook status today
"Just sat down in front of 120 pupils doing their Maths mock exam, and completely missed the chair. Who needs dignity?"
I so wish I'd been there - my exams were never that funny.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Untitled (not really)

It was probably a bit of a mistake to get to the end of the new Sherlock Holmes and declare to The Cat's Mother that I had added Lara Pulver to my list of five.  There was an unnerving edge to her voice when she declared that she commended my honesty, after which I was relieved to find that I wasn't sleeping on the couch.  She's always been quite tolerant of my list of five containing only Monica Bellucci, but I may have gone one step too far this time.  Anyway, in the interests of good relations I've decided not to add her picture here.  Instead I suggest you Google Lara Pulver Dominatrix.

Perhaps I should go for a cold shower?  I can now, of course, because the builders did eventually finish the shower room.  I'm sure you've been waiting the unveiling...and I was going to take a picture of myself in the shower to give you the full effect, but we've already had enough nudity for one day, so instead here's the new shower room all by itself:

A way back in the early summer, The Cat's Mother and I came across some paintings in a local gallery on the seafront in Brighton.  The artist is called Jon Everitt, and you can see a selection of his wonderful works here. It was the humour of the pieces that caught us...and that unlike so many pieces these days, the titles all mean something, rather than the somewhat ubiquitous 'untitled'.  Although there was a biggish picture, we were struck by some little 3" square ones which were well priced. But it became quite a challenge to actually buy them as the gallery didn't really seem geared up to sell them.  The four of us just about managed to rustle up the cash between us as that was all they would accept and we were a mile from the nearest cash machine. They then fished some bags out of the rubbish bin for us to take our trophies away. Having bought three, we decided we wanted some more, and it was fortunate that he was exhibiting across in Chichester.  One of the ones we wanted was no longer available, but that just meant he painted it again for us!  It was at that point I secretly asked him if he would create a family portrait for us, which he agreed to.  This was to be The Cat's Mother's Christmas present, so there followed clandestine meetings and many communications.   My brief was simply a list of things that are important to us in some way...and the rest was down to his talent. I did begin to worry when we hit December and it was still a long way from being completed, but lo and behold it was finished and I collected it on December 22nd.  I can tell you that when I saw it, it was a truly emotional indeed it was when The Cat's Mother took it out of the wrapping on Christmas Day. 

And here it is...complete with hares, yellow ducks, Roa painting street art, The Cat playing the flute, The Boy playing rugby, Brighton Pavilion and a German may even spot a couple of star constellations

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Once more unto the breech

Have you ever played Chubby Bunny?

There's no bunnies involved.

And no animals were harmed in the writing of this post.

It's a drinking game.  Although I can't quite work out where the drink fits in.  But I do know that it is a game best played when drunk.

The objective is to see how many marshmallows you can stuff in your mouth before you can't say "Chubby Bunny" anymore.

Unfortunately, as I gave up eating marshmallows last year, it's a game I fear I shall never play again.

It was fortunate, therefore that we went to see Matthew Bourne's Nutcracker yesterday.  If you enjoy dance, you'll enjoy Bourne's modern twist on things traditional.  Most famous is his Swan Lake with an all male cast.  Startling.  Anyway, back to the Nutcracker, no longer set in a sumptuous house, but instead Mrs Dross' home for children.  It's more like a prison.  Mrs Dross is the epitome of bad, as is Mr Dross and their children.  It's a completely different, and more coherent tale than you would normally witness at a performance of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite, and all the better for it.  Of the various highlights I shall pick out the dancing Knickerbocker glory and, of course, the Marshmallow Girls

I was planning to stay at home this week, but it says a lot about how relaxed the Christmas period has been that I felt positively enthusiastic about coming back to the office earlier.  Obviously I was in a minority of one as the roads were almost completely empty this morning.  Not that I was looking too closely as I fought to control the motorbike in gale force winds....but it must have been much easier for me than it was the brave souls on bicycles.

Most people in the media seem to be making predictions for the year...none anything other than gloomy.  But my one and only prediction is that it will be the unpredictable that will be interesting, the rest just plain tedious. 

Of my particular areas of interest, I suspect we should all be praying for an Obama victory in the Presidential elections.  He may be as much use as a wet fish on a bicycle, but that may just be better than electing the Nazi alternatives.  In the Middle East, we haven't really seen as much change as we might have hoped, but that is typical of the region.   Egypt may yet implode, the Iranians are unlikely to be attacked overtly by the Israelis (but expect a few mysterious explosions caused by 'equipment failures), Libya is now a country ruled by various militias, and there will be blood in Syria.  Oh dear.  I'm still keeping my fingers crossed for Palestinian Statehood, although the wait may just give me arthritis.  Russia is gradually slipping backwards politically, although not economically, and that may be no bad least everyone knows where they stand.  Slowly but surely China will continue to make its presence felt....and that will do more to change the world's outlook than anything else.  Europe will muddle along...the Greeks will be ejected I suspect, and that will be no bad thing.  Here in Blighty, it will be all pain and no gain...but realistically it would be no different (perhaps worse even) if the Millibands were in charge.  At least we have the Olympics to look forward to...and the Queen's Jubilee which means another bank holiday...

Sunday, 1 January 2012

2012 and all that

And so to 2012.  A Happy New Year to everyone.

It may seem a little strange.

It may be a little unorthodox.

It may not have been quite what we were expecting.

But our New Year was brought in by a near-naked fire-eating stripper gyrating on top of a grand piano with a vajazzle to preserve the last vestigies of her modesty, and flaming tassles to highlight her well-endowed chest.

We had spent the evening watching, from the "posh seats",  La Soiree - contemporary circus that would make the most liberal of us blush.  it was more burlesque than Billy Smarts.  At the far-end of our row of tables, the younger members of our eighteen-strong party had set the pace by ordering Jager-bombs, whilst we supped more gently on red wine.  The event took place at the Roundhouse in Camden.  Even the men hadc been most impressed by the 'Singing in the rain' man who could hold himself horizontally on a lamp post whilst his legs 'walked' up an invisible wall to a near vertical position, but probably, on balance favoured the hula hoop girl.  For certain The Boy was still dreaming of her the next morning.  Honourable mentions to all the other acts too.  Camden is an interesting part of the world...I do remember a previous visit and Auntie Gwen being chased down the underground platform by an unknown Irishman asking for her hand in marriage.

On the drive home, many memories were brought to the fore - the new year is always a good time to remember times past.  The journey took us past The Boy's old home, and my father's old factory.  How times have changed.  It's probably forty, maybe forty five years since I'd been near the factory.  If he was still alive he'd not recognise the area.

New Year's Eve, marks the beginning of the end of the Christmas season, and it's been so busy that I've not been near the blogosphere for the duration sadly.  Christmas Day was as hectic as hectic could be with eighteen people for dinner.  It's lovely to have folks from the age of six through to eighty a round, the the busy hustle and bustle reminded me of my own special childhood Christmases, the memory of which I still cherish.  Whilst we emjoyed a big Christmas gathering, it was much quieter for Grandma in Cyprus.  Many of the ex-pat Brits return to Blighty for the duration, so Grandma and Grandad in Cyprus went out for lunch together.  There's more than a twinge of guilt about that, but I hope they know I was thinking about them throughout the day. 

It was good to see my brother on the 27th before we retreated to Brighton for that strange, slightly mystical period when time seems to grind to a halt for a few days. We didn't really manage to do anything...not even go on the very, very magical skating rink at Brighton Pavillion, because skating in the rain cannot be a good thing.  We did, however, get to enjoy our new bathroom.  Actually shower room.  the builders finished a day or so before Chritsmas, so the air was still flush with builders dust, but a few days of steamy showers seems to have settled the matter.

We returned in our fastest ever time - one hour twenty three minutes, with practically no other vehicles on the roads.  And then readied ourselves for New Year's Eve.

And now I've written his, I'm going to try and catch up with everyone else's adventures over the last two-weeks.  I hope everyone has a splendid year ahead.