Saturday 11 April 2009

The selfish gene

Next Wednesday is Grandma in Wales' 80th birthday. That's a great achievement, especially as she remains as bright as a button and as sharp as a Sabatier carving knife. In any argument or discussion she's always been a fearsome opponent, and remains so to this day. Best not to engage. And she continues to dominate the home where she lives with the boy's 50 plus uncle in the way that you would expect of a Welsh Valleys matriarch. And she retains a cheery demeanour as she has done since the death of her daughter, the boy's mum, five years ago. She is stoic in the face of this terrible loss...a parent should never see the death of their child; sometimes I think she would have been better to let her grief out. But each person has to deal with grief in their own way.

She has made it clear that the traditional large party was not for her, but a smaller gathering of family would be just right. Not surprisingly her two grandchildren have been of the utmost importance over the last five years, so she's been looking forward to having them both down at the same time to celebrate her four score. So next weekend we journey west for a Saturday lunchtime celebration that has been organised for months.

Yesterday, whilst talking to Live at Home Uncle, I discovered that the boy's sister will not be there. Her father has decided to take her and her step brother away for the weekend to the Peak District. She will go instead on Wednesday. So I have been asked if I can take time off work from Wednesday so that the boy and his sister can be in Wales at the same time. It's not something I can do, and truth be told I'm not sure why I should. Perhaps I would if it was a one off - but its a pattern we've seen for the last five years and it makes my blood boil.

The boy won't go down by himself, because he's revising for his exams....and needs to catch up from his rather slack approach last term. So the celebration will be incomplete. Which is a crying shame.

The sister's father and family have an absolute disregard for any one other than themselves. But then this was a family that asked the estate trustees if the sister's inheritance could be used to build an extension on their house, and charged the girl rent from the moment she arrived full the tender age of 15.

The rather tardy compromise will work for no one, but no doubt between knowing glances at the table next weekend, the issue will, yet again, be brushed under the carpet.

Tuesday 7 April 2009

Easy living

"He needs to learn that charm is no substitute for hard graft" says the boy's latest school report. Yes, quite right...but actually (and don't tell him) there's many a person who's managed to carve a successful career out of charm and not hard work. They don't deserve it, but such is the world that charmers go places.

However, as 'good father' I've issued stern warnings, and backed that up by showing immense interest in his revision this holiday. Actually I'd rather not see some of it, as a reminder of the days I spent slogging away at knowledge that was quickly forgotten once the exam was finished.

And of course I don't want in any way to discourage his easy going, confident will serve him well. And since everyone around thinks he's a good looking lad who carries a guitar, he'll devastate the female population. So long as he never falls into the trap of thinking he's God's gift.

The poor fella is spending his days at home alone, and I feel for him immeasurably, as it can't be much fun, when all you've got to look forward to his a few hours swotting up on trigonometry. He has the option of coming into the office, but that doesn't appeal, given that it's an hour and a half on the sweaty tube. And his computer is now set so that it will only work for an hour a day.

Kind soul that I am, I think he can have four days off over Easter

Sunday 5 April 2009

The Spooky omnibus edition

The boy has returned from Sorrento. Veni, Vidi, Vici. I think. After seeing all those ancient remains, it's a real shame he's got to give up classics - his school restricts the number of subjects he can do, the the 11th choice was Latin, and that's one too many. But at least the trip was fun, and he's come back feeling very naughty as he drank a bottle of limoncello (?) which I suspect is an italian alcopop. But then sensibly had lots of water..... is wonderful to have him back and the house feels complete with him cluttering up the place. Curiously my own sense of order had gone to pieces in his there were dirty dishes piled to the ceiling, unclean laundry fair bursting out everywhere, and a general mess of everything all over the place. Thursday evening was spent restoring some form of order, safe in the knowledge he would turn the place into a shambles on Friday evening, allowing me to have a gentle parental moan. How fair and just is that!

Equally my diet returned to student days, consisting mostly of sausages and baked beans and sausages. Scarcely a vegetable passed my lips all week. So thank heaven's the boy has returned to restore my health as well.

I managed to restore some credibility to my social life in the boy's absence - three evenings spent gallivanting. Of most note was a splendid evening in rather desolate Milton Keynes to meet with a lovely blogger friend. MK was half way between the two of us so a sensible choice....but neither of us knew the place, so the cullinery highlight was an American Hot with olives in the shopping centre. I hope Milton Keynesians have other places to go because much as I love Pizza Express, and I really do, it isn't the same as a smokey old pub. Hopefully my companion for the evening won't feel the need to mention that finding my car after the pizza was like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Ho hum.

So in between the mess and the going out a jolly week was had by all.

Highlight of Friday was Bermondsey street being full of burly men and police. No not a belated G20 riot, but the filming of an episode of Spooks. They requisitioned my local coffee shop, so thank heavens I'm on my caffeine free diet at the moment. Try as I did, I couldn't seem to attract enough attention to get roped in as an know 'man passing in the street'would have done. Expect it's because I don't have an equity card....

Low light was leaving the office early to make sure I was back for the boy, cycling as far as the Rotherhithe tunnel to discover it was closed, meaning I had to retrace my steps. Making me 40 minutes late...fortunately the boy's coach was even later. So apologies to the other parents who had to put up with a very sweaty me whilst they made charming conversation.

And on Saturday, more police and TV cameras, as THE funeral took place. Most of the roads were blocked off, and there were an awful lot of sarf Lunden accents to be heard, which makes a change from Essex dialect. And the concentration of perma tans was seriously depleted. Our local garage and foodstore had been counting his blessings, and expected to make a massive profit on extra sales today. Hopefully that'll mean he lowers the cost of a gallon of petrol on Monday. Some hope.

We however escaped to try and find a new car as the current one needs to be replaced. Foolishly we traipsed thirty miles there and another thirty back to look at a car that wasn't even in stock. Evidently as soon as they arrive, they're sold. Who said we're in a recession and the car industry is broke?