Friday, July 27, 2007

Every once in a while, I get a sudden realisation that I am in fact rearing the Spawn of Satan.

Glossing over Sim's effortless confusing a few years of a balloon artist used to dealing with children, with his requests for animals impossible to make with any number of balloons, we move on to exhibit x:

Time: This afternoon, day of Dill's birthday.
Place: In town
Scene: One of those horrible bear shops where you choose and have stuffed your own soft toy, have it issued with a birth certificate and leave, your new friend in a cardboard carrier, a happy, buoyed up little person, while your paying parent suspects they've just been robbed.
Dramatis Personae: one brattish newly ten year old girl, one bear shop lady
Non-speaking parts: One ten year old friend, one twelve year old sister, sundry bear shop staff

Bear shop lady (having stuffed chosen cuddly dog to required level of stuffedness): "So, would you like to choose a heart to put in your dog?"

Brat: "Erm...Ok. Why? (chooses cloth heart)

Bear shop lady: "Well, you want him to be alive don't you?"

Brat: " Well, he's not alive, he's dead, isn't he?"

Inaudible off stage mumbles from bear shop lady, who is bearing up (boom boom!) pretty well under pressure, all things considered.

a short time later

Bear shop lady: "Would you like to kiss the heart before we put it in?"

Brat: "No, why would I want to kiss it?? It's just a bit of cloth!"

Shop lady (still trying really hard, and very gracefully) : "Well, if you put in there with love, your dog will love you back and be a good and loving dog".

Brat: "What if I bite it instead, will he become evil?"


I shopped her to the shop staff; told them it was her birthday today.

"Haha!", says bear shop lady. " Now I'll get you back!"

They drag out a big brass handbell, ring it loudly several times as Dill shrinks into my lap in mock (?) horror, and insist the entire shop sing her Happy Birthday.

Dill, after the torture ends: "Why did you do THAT Mummy? Why did you TELL them it was my birthday??"

Me: "Hehehe."

Monday, July 23, 2007

Can't stop- I am at my mother's in Normandy for two days, where my sister's broadband modem now speaks amicably with Mildred Mac and thus enables me to waste the time I should be spending doing the two 3800 word translations (yes, each) I appear inadvertently to have picked up whilst claiming to be too busy to do any work, both of which need doing for Wednesday, although thankfully they are for the same agency and I ahve been allowed to prioritise the second over the first.

I am here because I abandoned Sim at Roissy airport yesterday, leaving him to find his own way onto an aircraft bound for Biarritz where he is enrolled on a surf and French school for three weeks. In three weeks' time, his loving family will traverse the length of France, having dropped off the borrowed for ten days nephew and niece (Trumpkin and Dwarflet) with their mother, and picked up Thumb, Sim's best friend, whom we are taking on holiday with us.

All after having taken the two Spanish boys to the airport on Wednesday lunchtime, to return them to their father who is flying in for an hour. Dill will be with her friend for hte day, which is just as well as Hen and I have to go shoping for her (Dill's) birthday present while we're out.

I sometimes wonder if I can get one of those amulets that gives you the gift of time travel...

And back to work...

Monday, July 16, 2007

I am on the warpath and furious about an incident which I will explain later in more detail. In the meantime, let me run a little scenario past you all, and ask you a question that you must answer off the top of your head.

Imagine that you bought something from abroad, say the US, to a value of £29 or just over $50. Imagine that the mail service, let's call it Moyal Rail, collects duty on your behalf to the tune of £4.39. Now, how much would you think it reasonable for Moyal Rail to charge you for the privilege of collecting and passing on said £4.39 to your country's Customs and Excise department. Quick now, now, no looking it up. Top of the head figure, bearing in mind the three figures concerned: £29.00, £4.39, and £x -being the fee charged by Moyal Rail.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Birthday boy 

Sim turned 14 on Tuesday. Since I still remember pretty much every detail of the week that followed his birth, it astonishes me that he will be voting, driving and going off to university in about 4 years' time, that he is now closer to manhood than babyhood. It's certainly making me think, in a slightly maudlin way, about how fast time goes by. But then, would you expect anything but maudlin here? You'd be disappointed with chirpy by now, no?

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

One day about 8 years ago, on a fleeting visit from the busy self-righteous Surrey town I lived in to southern France, I glanced up out of the window of the car we were travelling in. In the middle of a mown field, two little girls in floral frocks were having a tea party on top of a pile of bales of straw, complete with little plastic chairs and dolls, oblivious to the world around them. I realised at that moment that it was exactly what I wanted for my children- a pile of bales of straw and days that stretched to the horizon.

Since then we have made many changes in the way we live, moved halfway across and then back again, but we're still not there yet, and I just don't know when it is sensible to stop downshifting. I know I am unusual in the course I've had, that going from a childhood of benign neglect in a virtual hovel to a top-notch university does not and did not happen by itself, but I do wonder sometimes whether I am hindering my children's development by ferrying them around to their various out of school activities. Granted, they are chosen by them. Granted, I did not do these things when they were tiny (no Suzuki gym bunny baby swimmers here, thank you very much).

Sometimes I just wonder if they could with more unscripted life.

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