Wednesday 27 January 2010

The Godfather

Despite our aetheistic tendencies, the boy has two Godparents. I suppose they are like insurance policies. If the shit hits the fan and there isn't a parent to do their duty, they are there to pick up the pieces. Equally I guess, that given the boy has only one parent now, it is only reasonable there is only one Godparent around.

The Godmother was always lovely, charming and totally unreliable, so it came as no great surprise that very shortly after the boy's mum died, she disappeared and has never been tracked down. The disappearance was nothing new...whenever the pressure got too much, she became uncontactable for days, weeks even months at a time. Given the nature of this stressful incident, now that we are 5 years and 363 days down the line, I doubt we shall here from her again. The boy gave up a long time ago asking after her.

The Godfather has been different. A senior journalist who can tell you everything and more about gadgets, computers and websites, he has been religious in his commitment to keeping in touch with the boy. Even though his own life has changed dramatically. A couple of years ago, he gave up the daily chore of work, sold his property and did what I suspect we all want to do...went travelling. Most people do this as teenagers, some take a career break in their thirties, but I don't know of anyone who has done it post-50. there is hope for us all yet.

In the couple of years since he started, we've had postcards from distant shores, phone calls in the middle of the night and occasional catch ups over coffee. He even managed to find a fig tree for the boy to scrump from down the church yard in Bermondsey St on one of his returns to Blighty.

At some stage on his travels...I can't quite remember whether he was in Fiji or Hawaii, he met SOMEONE, and they are planning to be married. For the Godfather this will be his first marriage. Wow. She is American, and they plan to settle in the States - well, why would you come to the UK? But this means visa issues - and for periods he has had to retreat from Uncle Sam's land. He is currently trying to persuade the American authorities of his honourable intentions with the lady in question in order to get a residence permit...and that the uncertainty of the timescale means he is resident here. As he is homeless, I offered him the Brighton flat.

Poor man. Lucky me...the place gets lived in for the first time in ages.

On the one hand it's very useful for him. On the other, he has to live amongst the debris, and on the third he feels that he must be extremely careful about the newly decorated bits. And that doesn't come naturally to a life-long bachelor.

He's very particular about keeping things as they are in the I love that now he has put the heating on, he's switched off the radiators in the rooms he's not using, but left little notes to remind us of what the thermostatic valve was set to, so when we turn it back on, all will be as it was.

He's distraught that he left the hob on, and thought he'd destroyed both cooker and shiny new saucepan. Fortunately, a long 'phone call to Siemens has persuaded them to sort the thing out. No doubt he used the line, 'I'm a journalist, and I think I shall have to write about how your automatic cut off doesn't work. A stain on the new wooden worktops is a pain - I'm not sure how to fix that. For my part, I'm beginning to think the kitchen is just doomed....

And this has been a great opportunity for him to renew his relationship with the's fascinating to see how it changes as the boy grows up - instead of being in awe of his knowledge of gadgets and games machines, there's now an element of, "Well wouldn't it be nice to go travelling. I shall encourage.

Monday 25 January 2010

Five go skipping

We're on the home straight for the Brighton flat. I think. 2009 was the year of decorating and building works, and it would be a nice thought that in 2010, we might actually get to spend some time there. At leisure. Without the builders. Without the rubble and dust. There is, after all just the flooring to do. Oh yes and the second bathroom. And getting rid of stuff. There's lots of stuff to get rid of.

We had a skip delivered on Friday to chuck away 20 years worth of accumulated treasures. Which mysteriously appear to have turned largely into crap. Reverse alchemy I think. In Brighton, and I suppose elsewhere, you have to apply for a permit, which we did - a special one so that we could put it in a residents parking bay. Unsupervised, the skip people dumped it in the road. On a double yellow line. Not to worry, it only slightly blocked the road and inconvenienced all the neighbours. As it was raining all Friday, I was thinking of changing the plan and charging for entry to our community swimming pool.

It was an extraordinarily tiring weekend, even though we had recruited help - there were five of us, and only two of them apathetic teenagers. The flat is 93 steps up from street level, and in our fine grade 2 (1) listed building, the age of the lift has not yet arrived. I'm not sure it would be of interest to list everything we chucked out, but it included drawers, shelving, computer tables, dead computers, dead DVD players, cushions, fact it was a veritable treasure chest of stuff for anyone wanting to start a new home on the cheap. And not surprisingly, the scavangers descended. "There's some great stuff in here" said one lady, "Yes, there is" I said. "Oh is it yours?" "Yes....please help yourself" And she did, shamelessly, all day Saturday and Sunday "I'm going to sell it for charity she said" And I'm sure she will. Of course, this help make room for more stuff. Of which there was plenty. It was never ending, and by Sunday evening, we still hadn't managed to finish - all the boys toys were left to be sorted for another occasion. The skip was full. Over full really. How could there possibly be so much stuff...clearly my hoarding tendencies have got the better of me for two decades. I feel somewhat cleansed.

Naturally, it cost me a pretty penny in bribes to the teenagers, who for once seemed to see the attraction of spending as much time as possible doing as much homework as possible. I don't blame them.

The high point, or low point was breakfast on Sunday. Being served about 1 o'clock. Bacon, egg, beans and tomato. After about half an hour of cooking by the teens, I heard, "Oh fuck" and "Shiiiiiiit" followed by a woosh and billowing smoke. I rushed into the kitchen to see flames reaching up towards the ceiling. They'd set fire to the bacon under the grill. And decided to put it out by putting it in the sink and pouring water on it. Haven't they seen the fire safety demonstration? And my poor, poor, newly decorated just the flooring, a bathroom and a bit of kitchen to do....

The skip at lunchtime on Saturday