Friday, June 26, 2009

Last Friday we had dinner with Kate and Darren – Mum and Dad. It’s always a late night, but everyone – including Mum and Dad and Lisa managed to make it through pretty late into the evening. It was 2 before I got to bed.... which didn’t set me up well for Saturday….

Still, Sunday was father’s day, which we spent in the Herne Tavern - as well as being a great kids pub, it also has the surprising ability to produce a tuna Nicoise salad without opening lots of tins. (tuna nicoise is my test of a good restaurant – if they’re good, the tuna is real –and rare – the olives and anchovies are decent ones and the eggs are soft boiled…. If it’s bad, it’s a tin of rubbery olives, a tin of dried up tuna and a handful of iceberg lettice with no dressing!)

I can see us spending a lot of the summer in the Herne Tavern.

Pig Flu
After a dose of pig flu was diagnosed in one of the children in George’s nursery, the nursery were advised not to close. However, the East Dulwich fretful mothers’ club had other ideas. When I took him in on Monday morning, there were 3 children (out of about 15 usual visitors) present.

The thing is, all the advice we have says that pig flu will return in the winter when the symptoms are likely to be more severe and the NHS will be under seige… so in other words, if you’re going to catch it now would be the best time…

Oh well…

We met a stag beetle in the garden last week. Stag beetles are apparently quite rare, but they’re doing well in South East London for some reason. Apparently, the beetles are only beetles for about 6 weeks. The rest of their 7 year lives are spent as grubs in piles of rotten wood.– – and we’ve got one in which they lay their eggs at the bottom of our garden.

Our resident mouse – Lionel – seems to have given birth to a family. I found 2 baby mice (well, young adults – teenage mice) sitting on the stairs this week, and managed to catch them and re-introduce them to the wild. Hopefully, we can get Lionel himself soon, and deposit him (or her) somewhere else before the numbers grow any further….

We’re back down to two fish this week with the passing of recent addition, Martin… not sure why we’ve had such a spate of fish deaths, but still… the other two seem fine.

Gang war
Apparently, Goose green was the site of a gang war between Peckham and Brixton last week. Not sure why. I suppose it’s a nice spot. Anyway, lots of police tape, helicopters, and a couple of stabbings – but it was all over quite quickly.

Andrew’s suddenly decided – after years of living in a caravan that he’s looking at flats (in Grimsby – where his work is moving). Great news – but having put an offer in on a flat and had it accepted (prices are very low up there) he’s just been out-bid, so the deal’s off…. Hopefully he’ll find something else soon…

Friday, June 19, 2009

On Friday night, my ipod gave out half way round my run. I didn’t realise quite how much difference it makes - I barely struggled back home, making a mental note not to let it go without charging it up again.

The weekend was a fairly full one – why I even bother saying that, I don’t know. It always is… This time, it was Lisa’s birthday – which co-incided with Mons’ 40th, so it got a bit swamped. We started with a champagne Breakfast for Lisa, then moved on to the Herne Tavern for Mons. The Herne Tavern turns out to be a great kids pub with a huge enclosed garden full (today at least) with lots of Mons’ friends most of whom we hadn’t seen for ages.

Anyway, it was the hottest day of the year so far, and I tried to give Lisa as much of a chance to socialise as possible while I played with George (or actually, followed George around chatting to people and putting his sun hat back on every time he pulled it off – a job which I obviously failed in because he was sick in the night – a sure sign that he’s had too much sun).

On Sunday, we went to see Waiting for Godot. Patrick Stewart, Ian Mckellen, Simon Callow – an incredible cast and a play that most people are suspicious of because it’s Beckett and people think Beckett is obscure – rather than just funny. Actually it’s a fantastic play –and these actors made the play anything but obscure. And they’re right in saying it’s actually quite joyful – despite the nature of some of the subjects it covers. By creating a really simple world in which nothing really happens, Becket manages to explore what really drives people from day to day – and although it doesn’t come to any trite answers, it’s really powerful in a quiet sort of way.

It was a shame Andrew couldn’t make it – he would have loved to have seen it and we wanted to get him a ticket – but his work is changing and it looks like he’s going to be moving to Grimsby….

Lisa’s parents came – for Lisa’s Dad’s birthday – and he’d seen the play before, in 1961. he said this performance concentrated more on the humour – I think that’s a trend actually. We tend to treat “classics” with a bit less somber reverence than we used to (which can’t be bad) – hopefully they’ll start to loose their reputation for stuffyness and elitism.

Doing my O level English Literature, I remember feeling quite releaved on discovering that the “classics” we’d been given were actually quite good. I thought I’d had a lucky escape.

It wasn’t until years afterwards that it occurred to me that this was the point - that the fact that they were quite good was why they were called “classics”.

…Anyway, I’ve decided not to go for the Action Aid half marathon. Simply because it’s going to be run at the end of September, so the question is not whether I can be prepared to run a half marathon… it’s whether I can be prepared to run a half marathon, then go straight to the hospital, hold Lisa in a stressed position for 8 hours, not sleep for the next six weeks and not complain about it.

and I can’t. not for Africa – not for anyone.

And, of course, if that’s the real reason, then I’ve no choice but to book in to do it next year…

This week we got our first crop of mushrooms from the DIY mushroom farming set I bought at B&Q a few weeks ago. Shiitake mushrooms are – well, mushrooming from the block of spore covered brick I keep in the bathroom.

The four small results are almost worth the foul smelling stagnant pond and clouds of tiny flies the mushroom farm also produces… almost, but not quite.

This week we also went for our scan for the new baby. As usual, everyone involved is trained to talk only to the mother, and ignore the fact that I even exist. Fair enough, really, I suppose. However, what really surprised us was that everything was fine. Every measurement, all the chambers of the heart, all the fluids and timings were perfect. No veins going in the wrong direction. Nothing. However hard they looked, they couldn’t find anything wrong.

This is profoundly at odds with our experience of scans… but it’s quite nice.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Sunday before last, we had dinner in jane’s garden. The weather was lovely and it was nice to sit out and spend the day with George playing in the paddling pool. The only problem was one of the guests was taking ketamine (horse tranquilisers to you and me) and became slower and duller as the afternoon progressed. If there is any such thing as social etiquette for the 2000’s, this falls outside it.

Skipping on a week, the next Sunday was the South London Food club – for the first time in several months, and we all chose traditional Polish dishes. Everything contained cabbage and pickles, and it was all loaded with calories, but lots of nice food.

The beetroot soup was really good – and for pudding I made bread –which was actually more like cake and contained more butter and sugar than I’ve ever put into anything! Mind you, I’m not a great cake maker, so maybe slabs of butter and pounds of sugar is normal in patisserie…

Lucky I’m running really – now I can justify the occasional polish desert.
But it has bought me a dilemma… I just got an email from actionaid… it turns out they’re doing a sponsored run at the end of September – and it’s around Greenwich.

Trouble is, it’s a half marathon… I’m not sure I planned on getting that fit… hmm… I’ll have to think about this one.

Tuesday saw Russ’ birthday do – six of us at his favourite Victoria restaurant, Il Posto - Russ and Pietro always chat to the manager and the chef, and of course, we got to see Russ’ recently awarded MBE – along with proof – pictures of the Queen handing it to him. I’m sure this won’t be the last I see of that photo.

Seriously though – it’s good to see the honour’s list honouring achievements like Russ’ (he set up a gay society for members of the Department of the Environment)…

Wednesday night was for Lisa and I. We decided a few weeks ago that we were seeing far too little of each other, and that we should reserve every Wednesday night for ourselves. We’re developing quite a routine – trying to make sure we spend time together in the face of our busy lives… Wednesdays we stay in, and have a romantic meal – no TV, just some nice music and the chance to catch up with each other. Ahh..

So don’t phone on Wednesdays! – or if you do, do it between 7:15 and 7:45 when one of us is cooking!

I managed to loose my wedding ring today – I went out into Lordship Lane to pick up a few things (nothing useful, obviously – they don’t sell anything useful). When I got back, I realised my ring was missing.

I spent an hour re-tracing my steps and put the whole house into a panic.

I eventually found it –before I went out, I’d grabbed some cache from a jacket pocket and the ring had fallen off in the pocket, and through a hole into the lining….

George is really trying it on as a safety inspector now. He nearly gave me two heart attacks in 10 minutes on Tuesday. First, he was following me down the stairs – I was carrying a tray full of cups – and he suddenly let go of the banister and toppled from right at the top. I dropped the tray and caught him as he rolled down.

Once I’d calmed him down, I set to clearing up the mess, and when I went to find him, he was sitting on the kitchen floor surrounded by small, red pills.

I grabbed him, forced him to spit out what he’d eaten and then tried one. They were breath fresheners.


What else? Oh, yes.

I’ve decided to sue Johnson’s baby products for false advertising. Specifically, Johnson’s “No more Tears” baby shampoo.

No more tears, my arse.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Plans for baby2 are well underway.. This week the drive was finished and for the first time we can actually park in our road. The insurance people even paid up for the damage done by our neighbour across the road when he backed over the wall a couple of months ago… We didn’t want to pave over the front garden, but we have got an eco-friendly surface (basically, bricks, but laid over a porous bed that allows water to drain through). That’s part of the planning regulations now – which is a good thing.

Anyway, the drive’s finished, and Lisa’s been told by the midwife that everything’s fine. The midwife probably isn’t the best person to ask actually – last time at this point, we’d just been for an ultrasound scan where we’d seen the baby, heard the heartbeat and had every conceivable dimension on the growing George measured to a fraction of a millimetre. When Lisa went to the Midwife, she produced a tailor’s tape measure and told her the baby was far too small. Nonsense, of course.

This time, it was a lot more positive – confirmation that everything they can tell you with a stethoscope and a tape measure is absolutely fine.

In celebration, we’ve bought a new pram 2nd hand on ebay. Not just any pram… this is it. – the ultimate in baby carrying technology. This is the pram all the yummy mummies in East Dulwich are clamouring for: The Phil & Teds Vibe… and surprising though it may seem, the competition between both pram designers and owners is every bit as sharp as it is in the car world… if you’re a baby, the Phil & Ted’s Vibe is the ultimate – on Lordship Lane, you daren’t be seen in anything else.

And it’s expensive too – around £600 new. In fact the only reason lisa went for it is because it was second hand and thus about the same price as a normal buggy…

So what makes the vibe so special? Well, two things: first, you can steer it with one hand – and that’s all you have most of the time if you’ve got a baby. Secondly, it manages through a clever series of zips and handles to carry 2 babies in the space you’d normally only get one – thus allowing you to get into the same doorways and annoy the same other shoppers you annoyed when you only had one child.

I can’t work out if George is talking or not. When do you say – “this is it he’s talking?” He says yeah! And “na” and something that might sound a bit like mummy but doesn’t seem to be applied to anyone in particular… he burbles all the time – but how do you decide that this or that is his first word?

George and I spent Tuesday together in Central London – Tuesday’s my new day for looking after him since Lisa shifted her working days around.. I had to deliver a hard drive with my latest documentary on to Stanleys in Central London so they can put it on tape for me…

For Lisa, doing 3 days per week instead of 2 is tiring, but it’ll help to cover us for her maternity when she won’t be paid at all… and anyway, having George for a day isn’t that much less tiring than going to work!

However, this Tuesday was more relaxing. After I’d delivered my disk, we went and sat in the park by embankment. It’s a lovely little park and full of London workers on their lunch breaks. There was a bandstand with a live band (Jazz, but then you can’t have everything) so we sat on the grass and ate a picnic lunch. I got some sushi from a little shop by the station and fed George the cooked bits – which he loved (especially those green soybean pods they sell)

All in all a lovely day – and I would have come away quite relaxed if it wasn’t for the fact that my 3 times weekly jogging regeme means I’m almost constantly tired…

I’ve upped the distance very slightly – instead of running through the jungle, I’m now running around it. almost getting to the badlands at the back of the park – out there pitches are marked out and running tracks… areas of long grass, and woodland – I’ve never dared to go that far…. Anyway, that takes my run up to about 2.8miles according to – oh yes… if you can do it, you can do it online...

Except voting. That’s still done with a stubby pencil in a grubby booth in a church hall. The European elections are taking place with the government falling apart – quite literally – the cabinet is looking more like a colander with people quitting left, right and centre.

We’re all supposed to be angry about the expenses scandal, but I can’t muster the energy to be outraged – I’ve never met anyone who didn’t stretch what was possible on their expenses and although it’s clearly something that needs sorting out, it’s a symptom of bad organisation and the fact that we don’t pay politicians enough rather than dishonesty, I think.

There are lots of things that were wrong with the culture to cause this and lots of people doing things they shouldn’t have, but it sounds as though all the civil servants were telling them it was all fine right up to the point where they all got told it wasn’t – and that’s a bit rubbish.

Strange though it may seem, I don’t think they’re a crooked lot – I think they generally try to use everything they get to it’s best advantage and they’re keen to push the limits they’re given, but then we wouldn’t want politicians that didn’t, would we?

Anyway – what’s interesting to me is that this whole thing has caused an explosion in little parties – maybe I should make a documentary following some of the no-hope candidates around before the election next year (or next week, which seems more likely)…. It’d be interesting to explore what democracy means when you’ve got no hope of being elected…

Mind you, I vote Lib Dem, so what does that tell you?