Monday, 23 April 2012

George Michael (and other guilty pleasures)

I am a big fan of George Michael (huge!).

It started way back in the days of Wham! (oh yes) when I would sing along to ‘Club Tropicana’ and admire the awesome duo’s toned abs. And yes, ok, it should have been obvious that Mr Michael wasn’t into girls but no-one had realised that back then – not even George!

Setting aside the cheesiness of Wham! (it was the ‘80s after all), it was obvious that the boy could sing and it was no surprise that over the years he developed into a well-respected international star.

I have always admired the fact that George has met any criticism over his the much-publicised misdemeanours with wit and wisdom. He is the first to admit his mistakes with a ‘this is me, deal with it’ kind of approach. Go George!

In spite of a lifetime spent listening to his music, I have never managed to see George perform live. And then last year, as a surprise, my husband bought two tickets for the Symphonica Tour in London. I was finally going to see my idol…

Along with thousands of other fans, I was devastated to hear that George was so ill and wished him a speedy recovery. It was while I was waiting to find out if he would be well enough to reschedule the tour, that I began researching The George Michael Quiz Book.

It was fabulous to have an excuse to immerse myself in the world of George Michael and to relive all the magical moments of his long career. The book is my personal tribute to the ‘other’ man who has always been in my life and who has accompanied me on my journey through college, marriage, motherhood and beyond, making me happy and sad in equal measure.

As far as ‘guilty’ pleasures go, George Michael is up there with white chocolate ice cream and Baileys (preferably together).

I'm counting the days until October…..

Monday, 9 April 2012

All’s fair in love and chocolate

This Easter, as always, our children kept up the tradition of seeking out the bounty hidden around the house by the Easter bunny. Although, they are past the age when they believe in the tooth fairy and Father Christmas they are more than happy to revisit their infant days in the annual hunt for chocolate.

In the past, hubbie and I have remained in bed and listened to the happy sounds as they find mini eggs and other treats hidden in vases, on picture frames and just about everywhere else. Not so this year! 

My eldest daughter, who I should point out is nearly 18 and supposedly grown up, got up early and started the search without her younger siblings. Having told her that it was a bit unfair, her bowl of eggs was surrendered and the Easter hunt was restarted.

This time, Lilly raced around filling her own bowl and leaving none for her sister and brother. Now, we have always had a rule that in the interest of family harmony, they divide up the bounty like they do at Halloween, but Lilly wasn’t in the mood to share.

“It’s not fair,” she protested. “I found the chocolate so I should get to keep it.”

My middle daughter, the diplomat, shrugged her shoulders and said that she had more than enough chocolate anyway whilst my son, not usually given to violent behaviour, hit his eldest sister over the head with his bowl.

Lilly responded by stuffing a handful of mini eggs into her mouth sending her blood sugar and temper into overload. A full scale riot ensued, shattering the peaceful Easter morning and my dreams of a harmonious, happy start to the day.

Hubbie and I waded into their midst. Eventually order was restored and tempers were sated with enough chocolate to keep them going until next Easter. 

Ten minutes later they were all rolling around together on the floor giggling over something stupid on TV.  That’s the good thing about it – no matter how old they get or how many times they fall out, underneath it all there is an unbreakable bond bound by love.

Happy Easter.


Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Away Day

I recently had a day away from my family.

As it was a school day, my escape had to be planned with the kind of precision that would make the fiercest sergeant major smile. I had pre-packed lunches in the fridge, clean shirts ironed and hanging up, a written timetable for hubbie detailing who had to be where and when and the correct sports kit laid out on my son’s bed ready for later.

In the words of my husband “What could go wrong?”

Half an hour into my journey, I was relaxing on the train with a steaming latte and a good book when my mobile rang.

“You didn’t wake me up. I’ve overslept,” shouted a very grumpy teenage daughter. “Can I have a lift to college?”

“Better ask your Dad, he’s on duty today.”

“Oh, typical! He isn’t even up yet,” came the reply shortly before the line went dead.

I resumed my book and took a sip of my latte.  A full twenty minutes elapsed before I received a second call. It was daughter number two.

“I haven’t got any lunch.”

“It’s in the fridge.”

“But we’re in the car.”

“Maybe you could go back for it?”

“No, we’re already late.”

“Ask Dad for some dinner money then,” I said, but she had already hung up.

Happily my son doesn’t yet have a mobile phone, so I knew he couldn’t phone me, even if there was a problem. He’ll be alright, I said to myself, they all will, stop worrying.

But as someone wise once said: “As soon as you become a mum you will be anxious for the rest of your life.”

I phoned my husband.

“Is everything alright?” I asked.

 “Of course it is. Do you think we can’t cope without you?”

Well, yes, actually, I thought, but I didn’t say it.

Several hours and many miles later, I received a call from my friend asking why my son wasn’t at football practice.

I phoned home again. Father and son were happily playing on the PS3, sports practice forgotten along with dinner, so it appeared from the subsequent calls from my daughters.

“Fish and chip shop,” I suggested helpfully, having missed my train home to answer my mobile.

“No money.”

“Ask Dad, he’s in charge today.”

“But mum,” she said, “He’s fast asleep on the sofa.”

Guess the day had just proved too much for him! Poor dear.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Getting a Life

The older I get, the more aware I become of the passage of time. Of course, there are daily reminders; the fact that my ‘baby’ reaches up to my shoulder and my eldest is learning to drive, not to mention every time I catch sight of myself in the mirror or how tired I feel now at the end of the day. Things will continue to change and move on around me; my children will all grow up and leave the nest, I will get more wrinkles and aches and pains. These things are a part of life but all that said, in my head I still feel 21 – well, maybe not quite 21 but certainly no older than 30.

There are still so many things that I want to do or haven’t achieved and I have realised that there is no longer any point in putting off until tomorrow, life is too short. I made the conscious decision last year to make the most of life and say ‘yes’ more often than I say no. 

Having joined the fantastic WoSWI (Westcliff-on-Sea WI) I have made some wonderful friends, developed new interests and started a writing group.  Now that we live so close to the sea, I have begun walking – good for the figure and the soul – all we need now is a dog (watch this space, I think it might just happen!). I have rediscovered my love of theatre; the buzz of going to see some small obscure production and the thrill when it turns out to be a little gem.

I have been working hard (perhaps a bit too hard) at times and have had a couple of exciting writing commissions and am brim-full of ideas for future projects. In the past, I have often thought ‘I can’t do that’ whereas I now tend to think ‘of course you can, why not?’

I am naturally cautious my nature, I tend to stop and think (sometimes I wish I had some of my daughter’s personality) when I should just dive in. Like most people, there are opportunities I wish I had taken up and there are times I nearly took fright and ran but stayed with it. Almost without exception, I have never had cause to regret the things I found the courage to do, only the opportunities I missed.

So before I get any older and less able (I look at my own mother who has been independent and active but has had to curtail many activities recently) I shall continue to keep saying ‘yes’ to life and trying new things, even when (or, particularly when) they scare me.   

I have been so busy doing things lately that I haven’t managed to find the time to write about them and this blog has been sadly neglected but then maybe that’s a good thing – I have achieved what I set out to do – live more!