Archive for the 'Totally Random' Category

Hard-working families?

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

I’ve been wondering whether we now count as one of “Britain’s hard-working families“, who put in so many appearances in government ministers’ speeches a year or so ago. It’s a very odd phrase; I can see where they got it from (“if we say “hard-working people” it sounds as if we only care about their paid employment, and if we just say “families” it sounds as if we mean all the undeserving poor as well”); but it ends up sounding as if we’re still sending children down the mines.

Cats on patrol

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

Yesterday evening Peter was having a particularly impressive screaming session before bed, so Gavin took him for a walk outside, which usually has a calming effect on him (and Peter often stops screaming as well :-) ). He walked up and down the road, as a change from going round the garden. Both cats followed them up the road and back down the road. Now, Kepler has once or twice followed us for a short distance when we’ve left the house, but Copernicus has never done that before. He hardly ever comes out the front (and to be honest he doesn’t usually move more than is strictly necessary in order to get food, defend the territory or escape from noisy humans). So it must have been something about the fact that Gavin was carrying Peter (and presumably also that it was evening, when Peter doesn’t normally go out).

What’s the feline psychology there? Are the cats trying to guard the baby? Trying to see the baby off the premises? Trying to assert ownership of the baby, or of Gavin? Or what?


Sunday, March 2nd, 2008

Two more or less unconnected things:

a) We are starting a list of “What we would never have known about pregnancy if it hadn’t been for TV and films”, e.g.:
– Fainting at dramatic moments is by far the most reliable pregnancy symptom.
– Contrary to what you may have heard, pregnancy has no effect whatsoever on bladder control. (This after watching the episode of “Studio 60” in which the pregnant character is trapped on the roof for 4 hours without obvious signs of discomfort).
– Also contrary to what you may have read, strange food cravings occur most often in the second trimester, i.e. after you have told people that you’re pregnant.
– But in general the second trimester (ie the bit where you don’t faint and there’s no risk you’ll go into labour any time soon) passes very quickly, even imperceptibly.
– Only one woman in any group of friends or colleagues can be pregnant at any one time.
Further suggestions welcome.

b) Matthew and television. I am as disparaging as the next middle-class snob about children’s TV programmes with major merchandising opportunities attached to them, but I have to admit that I’m learning to like Dora the Explorer, mainly because something about it has clearly captured Matthew’s interest. He now talks to the characters at the relevant cues (including occasional attempts at pronouncing the Spanish words, which are probably no worse on average than mine); but more to the point, he incorporates the basic pattern and the characters into his play. Toy animals now frequently go on adventures that involve going to three places (always exactly three; “first you go to the x, then the y, and that’s how you get to z”) and at some point involve Matthew bouncing around shouting “I’m the map!”. (Actually I think he still shouts “I’m the man”, which is what he thinks the bouncing map is saying). So I am learning to stop seeing a slightly overdone and twee attempt at educational TV and to start seeing a very clever bit of children’s interactive entertainment in the style of the pantomime (imported from a land without panto – who’d have thought it?), with the added advantage of a strong female lead. Dora does have her disadvantages, notably the fact that the merchandise (to which Matthew is, happily, oblivious at present) is ubiquitous and very pink and considerably tackier than the show itself. We may well learn to hate it, especially if Matthew is right and J2 is a baby sister.

I still really dislike Thomas the Tank Engine & its nice little morals at the end of every story. And we all really like Meg & Mog, who I think only ever made one series, and who never pretend to be teaching you anything.

Stage debut

Thursday, December 13th, 2007

So all that practising of carols was part of the build-up to the dramatic production of the year – the ‘Bright Beginnings’ nativity play. All credit to the nursery staff for even attempting such a thing. The oldest group (those who have attained the ripe age of 3 or over) performed on stage, and all the younger children were marshalled on a mat in front of the stage, wearing appropriate costumes. Matthew, like all the boys in his group, was a junior shepherd, complete with – yes, it had to be – a tea-towel on his head. He was somewhat overwhelmed by the whole experience – the big hall, the crowd of parents, the wall of cameras – and sat being extremely solemn (to the point of appearing occasionally to be on the verge of bursting into tears, although, unlike several of the children in his group, he held it together) and entirely silent throughout, even during the songs that he had been practising with such gusto.

I’m mildly intrigued to note which elements are now compulsory and which optional in a nativity story. The Emperor Augustus is optional (in this version the angel told Mary to go to Bethlehem), but you have to have a donkey. I suppose the donkey has all the good tunes. I’m also mildly intrigued to note the extent of gender stereotyping. In this version all the angels were girls, and all the girls were angels (apart from Mary, and the very small girls who were cuddly animals).

If Matthew has a few years to go before he can appreciate nativity plays, he has caught on amazingly well to Advent calendars. We are five days behind with his calendar (we got it late, and decided that the least confusing option was to begin at 1, do one day at a time and speed up at the end). After a few days of wanting to open all the doors at once, or wanting to close the opened ones again, he now says every morning before breakfast “Let’s do number x”, where x is reasonably often the number we’ve actually got to. (Bear in mind here that we haven’t got beyond 10). He also wants to open one in the evening when we get home, but that’s understandable. A day is a long time for a toddler.

(It doesn’t have chocolates in it. Of course it doesn’t. It’s a proper Advent calendar like when I were little, though they don’t make ’em like they used to).

Slightly freaky moment…

Saturday, October 13th, 2007

When you stumble across a reference to your 2 year old on Wikipedia… Ok, no prizes for guessing how Matthew’s name got there, but still ! I’m used to occasional references to myself cropping up in places I hadn’t expected, but really didn’t expect to find Matthew being mentioned as well. I’m now toying with the idea of removing the reference from the article, which is not entirely logical since there is far far more information about Matthew in the public domain available here. But, we chose to put the information here and not some over enthusiastic Wiki editor.

after a Famous Diarist…

Wednesday, October 10th, 2007

Up betimes and to breakfast. Thence to a coffee house in St James to meet with a friend who has a place in government. On to the Royal Society, to meet a Fellow and to discourse on Science. Later commanded to attend upon Her Majesty at the Palace to observe an Investiture at which sundry and diverse Persons were bestowed with Honours. Home in a merry spirit, and so to bed.

Irrepressible info

Wednesday, August 15th, 2007

Here is what ‘irrepressible info’ just gave me:
The Healing Chod is an ancient enchanting ceremony and is a wonderful opportunity to deeply relax ones body, speech and mind.

Someone doesn’t want you to read this.
How could they even consider repressing the Healing Chod?
[memo to self, must take web censorship seriously].

I wonder if they would bring the Healing Chod on tour to Leeds. Lots of people might like it if I relaxed my speech.

Um, haven’t written for a while; we’re still here; we have cut down some more bits of garden; Matthew has settled into ‘new nursery’ (you can tell, because they’re reporting that he eats second helpings of everything); we have received our first organic veg box delivery (any good cabbage recipes much appreciated. I didn’t know cabbages were seasonal at this time of year. It’s grim up north, so grim they also grow sweet potatoes and aubergines); we have travelled on bendy buses, big tall buses and big buses; and Matthew has learned to open a gin bottle. Oops. Time to rethink that little bit of kitchen storage.

Time zone…

Sunday, July 22nd, 2007

I happened to notice that Rachel’s last post appeared to have been at a little past midnight, which was odd because I know that Rachel woke early this morning, but she hadn’t mentioned any midnight blogging. Turns out that the webserver this site runs on doesn’t know the time, so I’m having to lie to it and say that we’re based somewhere in the Urals so that the posts get the a more reasonable time….

You probably didn’t need to know this, but I needed to make a test post to see if I’ve fixed it :-)

New Pictures

Sunday, April 8th, 2007

We’ve finally taken some more pictures and uploaded them.  Before Mike gets upset, we should point out that most of the work in building the sandcastle was his and not that of any of the people who appear in the photos.

Mistaken Identity

Sunday, November 26th, 2006

Matthew is pretty adept at recognising his favourite animals in pictures, but it’s not always 100% accurate. On my trek southwards on Fridays I normally get a Times Higher Ed to while away some of the time. As regular readers will know, the back page has a column by Laurie Taylor chronicling the life and times of Poppleton University. The column’s masthead is, according to Matthew at least, a lion. Others might think it a particularly hairy academic, but no, it is a lion and that’s official.