Monthly Archives: January 2009

All I know about politics

Oops. Seems I didn’t realise Gordon was busy.

I’ll have to ask Lily about telephone etiquette. She was quite the chatterer this evening. Maybe a career beckons ringing people?

I wonder how I can get the Fisher Price Telephone ring as my ringtone?

All I know about economics

Evidence to date shows that my daughter refuses to walk when there is nothing to hold on to, and projecting this forward, I predict that her walking ability has peaked. The market may drop off as she tries a lot more crawling, especially now that there are a lot more babies around, some of whom are already walking by now. Supply and demand. There’s just not enough incentive in the market. I wonder if I can short sell on this? Or is it sell short?

As has been suggested in the animal kingdom for several years now, walking has had it’s day as the favoured mode of transport. Why go on two legs when you can use four?

4 x 4 models do apparently cost more in fuel, and are inclined not to look where they are going so much in my limited experience, but they are becoming a more attractive option in today’s market and more affordable than they once were. They mount stairs with remarkable ease, even if they guzzle for thirty minutes at a time and you’re not even sure you put very much in, considering the cost.

The Importance of Boo

Among the thrilling adventures which make life so much richer, novelty rates highly in my culture.

For my daughter, the thrill of so much novelty is balanced well with repetition.

Many things bear repeating. For me, chocolate. For Obama, an inauguration. For my daughter, anything with half a tune involving yaw, roll or pitch. Or perhaps a cloth.

Lily loves to repeat the usual stuff: Row, Row, Row Your Boat; Round and Round the Garden and Where’s Lily? - all of which can be indicated to the casual observer non-verbally. Yet one game stands as the simplest but perhaps the deepest of all games. It transcends language. It provokes smiles. 


There. A concept of critical national importance.

I was in a park in Blackburn, just this last Saturday, with Lily and her dad and grandpa. Mention must be made that all four fountains were in working order. Ducks swam toward us when I imitated them or threw imaginary bread in their direction. Three geese were also there. Now, I am not scared of geese, which is an integral part of this story.

My daughter loves taking a look at things, especially animals. I showed her that there were some geese on the pond-side of some very parksome railings and drew the pram up close. Lily leaned forward. So did the geese. Lily opened her eyes wide. The geese looked at each other. On the count of three they began to hiss. I tried quacking, but this made this breakaway sect flap their wings. They did not look like the kind of birds who would be fooled by imaginary bread, innit. They were far too streetwise, right? I was surprised to note that their coats were not of the Burberry persuasion.  

It became apparent that my daughter would need to learn the power of one of the most important words in the English language.


Turning their tails, flapping their wings and ducking (yes, ducking) out of my stare, the geese retreated like chavs in Sunday School and the magic worked.

Which has prompted one more novel thought in my blog for today:  how one might make chavs welcome at church.

Give and Take

I have noticed that most caretakers are male, and most caregivers are female. How odd.

We say “take care!”, but not “give care!”

Does this say more about the irrationality of English language than about roles of men and women in society?

Some of the most caring people I know are men. They express it in different ways to women, but they still care.

My dad is a case in point. He is well-versed in finding the positive in a situation and seeing humour, the big picture and a good way forward. He is careful with cooking, writing and diplomacy. I would not employ him to fix a new fan in a computer, but I don’t need to. I have a husband who can do that.

Overall, I believe that we care for one another best when we care in community. Some are better at doing some of the more humble or repetitive jobs. Some are better at just giving a hug when it is needed. Some are better at listening. Some are better at mending things. Some are better at taking care in details.

We are all part of the care machine that is Society. Each of us is necessary. None of us can say ‘I’m not important because what I do is not valuable’.

Just as importantly, the care we receive from others comes at cost, and none of us can take it for granted. At school we always used to joke that the real heirarchy was:  Caretaker at the top, Secretaries, Cleaners, Dinner Ladies, Teachers… Headmaster at the bottom! You do well to keep in with the caretaker in a school. It makes life so much easier. Why shouldn’t they be made to feel valuable too?

We all need to receive all kinds of care. I have recently finished studying a book with some others about the five languages of love. The ideas put forward by the authors are that of the following five ‘languages’, we each have our favourite, which speaks louder to us and which we need to hear to feel most loved:

Words of affirmation

Quality time

Receiving gifts

Acts of service

Physical touch

It’s an interesting idea, even if you don’t buy into it fully. Until I understand how my friends and family feel most appreciated, I am going to have to try and care for them in various ways, some of which hadn’t occurred to me before.

More babies

Congratulations today to another of my cousins and his wife. They have given birth to a second son. I am getting in the habit of alluding to names every time a baby arrives in the family, so let’s say that this one shares his name with two books in the Bible, both beginning with J.

And no, he is not Job Jeremiah,  Jonah Jude or John John III

But we are all very pleased he is here.

Good words

Is it better to say the wrong words than no words at all?

Words don’t fill what aches.

What if all the words you could say were good words? Words still only whisper.

And is it wrong to feel guilty when we grieve? Guilt is a part of grieving too.

Now, we have permission to let go. We still love you.

We can let go. We still love you.

We still love you.

Love you.

Goodbye Molly.

Until we meet you again, full of life.

Where there is no crying, or pain. Where there is no guilt.


Today my daughter did not walk (except when holding hands),

She did not climb the stairs (except by crawling),

She did not eat her tea (except when she was crawling up and down the hallway and supposed to be going to bed),

She did not talk (except to say ‘dada’ indiscriminately),

She did not identify her own head (unless we had identified first mummy’s and then daddy’s),

She did not point to herself in the picture (except when we repeated the experiment a few times),

She did not put the wooden cylinder through the circle hole (except when she wasn’t trying to),

She did not stand on her own two feet (except to watch television),

She did not communicate (except to rock back and forth to indicate that she wanted to play ‘Row, Row, Row your Boat’),

She did not create (except when she wanted a walker in church and used a chair instead),

She did not Do Very Much At All.

Thankfully, she is exhausted.

Misrule, Madness and Magi

Happy Epiphany to you. (That doesn’t quite read right to me, but I am merely a theologian).

So it is Twelfth Night already. 364 gifts later, if you do the sums right on the song. A date I can never quite spell right, but also a play I very much enjoyed studying at school. Dad knows all I need to know about Shakespeare, so I file most Bardic wonderings in my mental ‘must ask dad sometime’ file. My own memory is almost full already, and I am doing a bit of spring cleaning therein. (Words like ‘therein’, for example, which are of no ordinary use, are hereafter banished. Forthwith.) I am wondering about compressing some of the data I have accumulated cerebrally which serves no good purpose after a cost-benefit analysis (likelihood of taking part in pub quiz, etc), but if brain-data compression feels anything like the below-freezing ice-cream headaches I got this morning when I went out of the house, I think it will get filed in the ‘action later’ pile.

Back to the madness. Today for the first time in many years I took my decorations down on the Actual Day. I heard of a friend of a former colleague who was so superstitious that she forgot to take her tree down one 6th January and had to leave it up (decorations and all) until the following year. I never found out whether she got a second tree the next Christmas, or if there wasn’t enough room. Superstition is very powerful, and when people fear consequences of doing normal things, I ache for them. They lack freedom, because of fear. My faith gives me freedom: I can act in any way I want. Reason, tradition and culture provide some healthy boundaries, but I do not act through fear, but love. I often get it wrong, but I am slowly improving, and that is evidence of God working in me. I am not trapped by fear. I am very happy to take down decorations on the Wrong Day if it suits better. But this year it helped that Lily was out of the house and I needed to get the tree ready for the bin men (it still hasn’t died, despite putting the heating up).

Yesterday the boy went back to work after a lovely two week break with the family. We all missed each other as well, which was good. He is an engineer and he works on computers all the time, but he had forgotten his password and got locked out of his PC. When I suggested that many other computer boffins at the same establishment might have done the same, he thought perhaps they had, as the ICT chaps were ages getting it fixed. Misrule? Or maybe he should have filed his password in ‘check in the diary if you forget it after a break’? It could still be in code.

Talking of madness, I am concerned this evening for my sister and her landlady, my cousin, who have no water at all, as an outside pipe has frozen. This is Not Good, when you stop and consider how hard it will be to (a) make a cup of tea, (b) make a hot water bottle, and (c) clean the microwave. For example. I am especially annoyed for them that the snow has happened in work time, and not over the holiday, when at least it would have served the function of being pretty and seasonal. Perhaps they can thaw some snow and ice and make a cup of tea?

More madness. Paris Hilton, who has no children, has revealed that were she to have children, she would name a daughter London.

London Hilton?

And then she would like to move to the UK so that her three or four children would learn ‘British accents and manners’.

Right. I can just imagine little London, Rome, Tokyo and Prague Hilton running amok in the aisles of Netto, Acton High Street, mum panting after them, ‘oi, jusyouwaittilyougethome, i’vehadituptoHere!’ raising pitch and decibel in equal measure, and wishing it were some other measure she were raising, and the darlings seeing if they could make money on the shopping trolleys. I know I would. Maybe I should file this under ‘things I expect to see by 2011′.

I’m a bit full of beans. There’s a tradition we should bring back. Except I’m also quite tired now. I had a rush of activity today and yesterday, having recovered from woman-flu. I really don’t want to be in charge and I am wondering if Obama might be thinking the same thing too. And Brown. And the person in charge of gas supplies out of Ukraine. And Andrew Lloyd Webber. Maybe we should all pass the bean. Ms Rule is off the case.

What of Magi? Let’s not get the Trades Description Act people wound up, now. Well, in all honesty, I think it is time I put on the record that I believe they were about two years late, and wouldn’t have posed for a photo with the shepherds, even if they had had cameras then. But I bet they had outstanding accents and manners.

Duvet Daze

I was pleased to learn today that my staying in bed using up boxes of tissues all day yesterday may have inadvertantly helped the planet…

Don’t get me wrong; I am a Bad Patient and hate being horizontal while the world needs more vertically inclined types.  I do not think companies benefit from allowing employees to put their feet up when they feel like it. Self-employed people cannot. Mothers cannot. Carers, charity workers and ministers cannot. Most teachers would not. I do not like being a burden to others, so I am annoyed with myself at having to be waited on by my husband, who quietly and kindly looked after me all day. He is a hero, and I don’t tell him often enough. And he also tries to help the planet, but this often involves driving a triangle on wheels. You can’t win them all.

And I wouldn’t have driven far yesterday, although I had to cancel going to a birthday party with Lily. Now I am sitting up, pretending I am better and waiting for words to crawl into my head. They are mostly avoiding me because I am being moody.

When words avoid me I try and do one of the following things: read, look up things on the internet that might inspire me (for now, this means holidays) or watch TV (often this involves In The Night Garden or Charlie and Lola). I was not up for getting out of bed, even for Makka Pakka yesterday. I did not care about going away: I was more concerned about going to sleep. And the opportunity to read meant finally getting to the end of the latest Alexander McCall Smith page-turner that dad has lent me. It has been keeping me awake in fits of giggles, wondering how Bertie was going to cope with his mother this time and whether people in Edinburgh have very different accents from the ones I hear when I read it. I expect I hear it all wrong, but that is one of the good things about reading in your head. I was told at University that reading silently was invented in the 5th century by a monk called Ambrose. Augustine thought it all very high-tech.

Now that the words are returning a little more, I may crawl off myself and find out who is making noises into the baby monitor. I suspect it is the baby, but like to keep an open mind on these things. Her crawling days are numbered at the moment, and I think she will be walking before long. She does tend to stand unaided when no one is watching and cruise along the furniture like a butler on roller skates. I would like to train her to bring me breakfast in bed, but when I suggest she brings me anything other than Upsy Daisy she gives me a dazed look.


I spent today feeling like a bit-part actor in a ‘Kingdom of Heaven is Like…’ parable.

Most odd – let me explain.

This morning, at a reasonable hour, we met up with another family with young children who we know at church, and did breakfast. Like hotel breakfast, but with soul. I had a croissant, fruit salad and a muffin. The boy had scrambled gegs (?!), smoked salmon and a bacon butty. It was made all the more enjoyable by the constant arrival of other young families, couples and a few singles. All the folk know each other through church and we had a wonderful time just eating together and playing with the children.

We would have stayed for the day of activities planned, but we had already sent invitations to our close neighbours for a neighbourly get-together (tea and cakes) in the afternoon.

We invited 7 houses. These were the replies:

1. Would love to come, but have a horrible cold from travelling up to see family last week and don’t want to give it to Lily (she turned 85 this week and otherwise still going strong).

2. Not sure that we’re going to be up to it – I’m moving up the street this month and have family and others staying.

3. We are going to London for New Year’s and may not get back in time.

4. We were looking forward to coming but have decided to go out for the day as a little family.

5. We are not sure we can come over today after all (she is pregnant).

6. My dad just turned up unexpectedly from Spain and we need to visit all the family with him.

The seventh house, the people who live directly behind us, consists of a couple who were chatty, cheerful and interested in Lily and in telling us about their grandchildren. We talked for hours and had a wonderful time, and they didn’t mind our five-year old tree or our one-year old baby. In fact, Lily took to them very well.

If I were to draw a moral from the story, I would suggest that the reward from one positive reply is worth all the cleaning, tidying, sorting and sacrifice. But I never really saw it from that point of view until today. We hope to see all our other neighbours in due course, but it was well worth sending the invitations for today.