Friday 12 September 2008

Keeping secrets

We all have secrets from our parents. Some are simply there because there's no reason to tell Mum and Dad everything, some because they're embarassing so best avoided...and for some people I guess there are deep, dark secrets that nobody should know about. I suspect we all have at least one of those.

So it was with a certain sense of nervousness that I decided to let the boy's grandmother be privy to this little blog. So "Hello Mum" as they say on TV.

I do also occassionally let the boy have a read too...selectively though.

Grandma in Cyprus as she is now known (as opposed to Grandma in Wales) moved to sunnier climes eighteen months ago with step father and two Jack Russell terriers. The planning for the move took long enough that for about a year she was known as 'Grandma not in Cyprus'. She's 76 and since moving, they've got a nice little business going taxiing holiday makers from the airport to their hotels and villas, and also a little car rental business. All done with ex-pat friends. Impressively enough, they've just bought a scooter to buzz around on when a car isn't needed.

We speak often enough, but phone calls tend to be relatively time-limited, so hopefully Man and Boy will add some colour and flavour to our conversations and bridge the geographic distance. And equally, should anything so incredibly embarassing be worth recording here, Grandma will avert her eyes.

Wednesday 10 September 2008

Food for thought

Last night we had a minor meal disaster. On the menu was pork steaks in a mustard and honey sauce, new potatoes, and broccoli tips. The sauce, by the way, was out of a tub from Waitrose. We were running late as I'd finally decided I couldn't avoid the supermarket trip any longer...I'd love to have the weekly shop delivered, but have always found the task of making the online shopping list just too £150 out of pocket, we were aiming to eat by 9ish.

At the witching hour, a quick prod with the fork...and disappointingly the 'tats hadn't even started to cook. A return match ten minutes later revealed a soggy lump of disintegrated potato at the bottom of the saucepan. Somewhat deflated, I scooped it onto the plate and then went to add the pork. err the near raw pork. So we ate French style - vegetables first, meat half an hour later (I don't believe I've ever come across a French person that does this...but I was told once upon a time so it must be true.

Cooking has been a constant challenge over the last four years...too often a dry piece of meat and a couple of soggy veg have been my best attempt...inspite of in the distant past being able to tackle student favourites like chilli con carne, pizza (from scratch I must add defensively) and so on. Most recently we've been buying sauces to liven up otherwise dull meals and have made a concerted effort to broaden our culinary horizons...but I guess there'll always be the occasional set-back.

My biggest worry is that come university, the boy will not even be able to reach the heady peaks of cheese on's a shame his mother is not here to help him along...she was rather clever in the kitchen turning out any number of delicious dishes, although sometimes I wondered whether she was right in trying to turn all and every left over into soup.

Monday 8 September 2008

The honeymoon is over, over

Last week saw the return to school...I'm not sure why it was last week, as the rest of the private schools didn't return until this fact neither did most of the state schools as they enjoyed the benefit of inset days (I prefer to think of them as insect days as the boy used to refer to them when he was knee-high to a grass hopper).

But after much excited anticipation, it seems we are currently being educationally-challenged. He returned after day one with a VERY GLUM look...his decision to plump for music as one of his options was a 'mistake' and he didn't know why he'd done it. He done it because he loves playing the guitar, so music was a wise choice. And the alternative was electronics which would have involved the use of maths. Which is not a strength, It would have been a poor choice. My offer to ring the school and try and make a change was dismissed out of hand. YOU CANT CHANGE NOW.

And now EVERYTHING is wrong...even having the history teacher who thinks he walks on water is bad because ...errr...err because. I swear she has a crush on him...but as she often brings her girlfriend to events...I don't worry. And there's a substitute teacher for another subject and she's horrible. But the proper teacher (who he's never been taught by) would be excellent. And he's not (yet) in this year's rugby team inspite of expensive new boots 'because I'm not good enough'. And he's got lots of homework.

There's an unwritten agenda here which will no doubt pop out.....soon(ish)

Traditional sports

This week we indulged in some traditional sports. I know many people feel that these should be banned, and are completely inappropriate in a modern civilised society, but my view is that they've been around for centuries, and British society is built on tradition...abandon that, and the Ravens will flee the tower. Further, traditional sports are a humane way of controlling something that otherwise would be a nuisance and I think there are enough aggravations without adding to them.

The traditional sport we chose this weekend was hair cut baiting. This involved weeks of saying 'your hair needs trimming' whilst the boy did his best to avoid the inevitable. He did well, managing to out fox me all summer long...often going to ground when I thought I was closing in on the final cut. But his resistance couldn't last forever, and on Saturday I managed to corner him in the Turkish? Greek? Cypriot? barbers in Hove. His resistance was short-lived and he emerged with his hair cropped to a 'sensible' length.

Unlike fox hunting though, that was not the end of the matter and I was given a fair degree of grief for the rest of the weekend. The cut was far too short and everyone at school would laugh at him. It was my fault. It's always my fault because I always tell the hair dresser to chop off more than the boy says. There wasn't much point in me saying that the reason people notice he gets his hair choppped is because he leaves it too long between trims. How unreasonable of me. Of course, this is the boy that took his hair paste (not wax, not gel) camping even though the need for a shower necver seemed paramount.

And this is the father who grew up in the days when long-haired rockers such as Led Zep, Slade and The Sweet ruled.