29 August 2007

Avocado Skins

Living, as we do, in the wrong neck of the woods to be eligible for any kind of modern, new age technology that actually allows us to get channel five, let alone this new-fangled 'digital' tv that I have heard legend of, mere rumours whispered on the breeze as they pass through our country bumpkin dwellings, I have had to wait until now to watch the appraised 'Skins'. Our stone-age bubble around the house has dictated that we must make do with terrestrial. This is one of the many sob-story, MontyPython Yorkshiremen sketch-style tales I will pass on to the grandchildren with a wistful tear in my eye.

Anyway, now that channel four has deigned to give us lowly analogue viewers the chance to revel in the teenage exploits of the wild southern group of pill-popping, vodka-necking, gonad-groping sixth formers, I have a reference point for our own parties.

Quel difference??

They fall short in terms of sheer wildness, recklessness, and downright destruction. Bottles of wine, hippie-rollies, bowls of Tesco's Taste the Difference crisps, quilt-strewn sofas, Cyndi Lauper/Bob Dylan/Aretha Franklin on the hi-fi, raving in the kitchen, heart to hearts in the basement, cheese and crackers before bed. That kind of civilised fare. As opposed to shooting heroin, discarded syringe littering the floors, vats of spag-bol chucked around, swinging from the chandelier type activity. Don't get me wrong, when throwing a shindig it's no tea party we have in mind, and it wouldn't be an amazing stretch of the imagination to envisage the 'Skins' situation going down in here Hexham. I'm just saying that, instead of poppers, it's popped avocados that get us high.
The morning after and L looks in her bag. 'Ewww, there's avocado mush all over my stuff! You gave me one as a present last night and it's popped!'

Two more popped avocadoes were discovered during mission clear up later that day. It's a problem in these parts.

And as I always say when eating salad, that green pulp just coats everything.

21 August 2007

Textbook Case... with doodles

A horrifying realisation has been made. It is mostly horrifying because it has taken me this long to make it. I have realised that, on paper, I am a textbook lah-di-dah little lady of what is considered to be snort-snort toffiness and goody-two-shoes privilage. Not just any two shoes either, but the shiny patent leather t-bar kind that girlies wear when going on special outings. It is that bad.
Ballet lessons from the age of four with the quintessential ballet mistress with scraped back black bun and ankle warmers. Private flute lessons, possible the most lady-like and ponciest instrument there is, so I could play refined classical pieces. In various choirs throughout the educational process. Taking part in dance and theatre productions for which my mother often made my costumes. Trips to the ballet, art galleries, operettas, music recitals. Noel Streatfield being a favourite of mine for many a year, especially 'Ballet Shoes' in which I yearned to be a character. A penchant for pretty things: hand-crafted buttons, silky ribbons, ornate perfume bottles, intricate embroidery. I have been known to be in possession of a Little House on the Prairie-style frock and a collection of Alice bands that were invariably clamped to my head. I even have a Degas poster on my wall and a box set of hardback, beautifully illustrated Lewis Carroll books on my shelf.

I bow my head (of gleaming locks, 100 brush-strokes before bed naturally) in shame.

So, of course, I am grateful for all the other things that are not 'on paper', as it were. The fact that I can recite all of 'Robin Hood: Men in Tights', 'The Princess Bride' and the majority of the Star Wars trilogy by heart. The endless Roman wall outings and visits to castles, acting out scenes roitously with plastic swords and shields. Having every single screen version (both silver and small) of Robin Hood there is, on well-worn video. Scratching, punching, biting my way through many a 'play' fight with those of the opposite gender, and often coming out triumphant. Being the sole member of my family who can watch whole episodes of Rome without flinching at, or turning away from, the blood, gore and violence. In fact, I revel in it. Being brought up watching, what I was amusingly reminded of the other day as being referred to by a two year old N as, 'Henry the Viv'; the Laurence Olivier version of Henry V. Having an 'Empire Strikes Back' poster in place next to a Van Gogh. Being known to shriek 'On guard, you varlet!' with violent frequency when wielding weapons throughout childhood.

Thank goodness for the counterbalance. One might have thought me a wussy, prim, thoroughly revolting and precocious girly-girl. I hope I have set the score right.

14 August 2007

Bla, bla, bla - Ignore if Bored by Waffling

It seems as though the more escapades I get up to and the more time I have, the less I blog. How odd.
So a great many things (of which you are going to have to only imagine- though some are beyond mortal comprehension it must be said) have occurred that could have filled post upon post of blogtastic entertainment. I cannot, alas, be arsed to cover these. They will not get the attention, wit and painstaking yet subtle handling they deserve if I dash off a few hasty typings.
Instead I am going to pepper this post with a smattering of observations that have been observed (which is what observations usually are. Observed I mean) of late. Nay, the very purpose of this post will be to provide a series of aforementioned observations. Lucky, lucky you.

1. Although I recognise that dogs and cats are very different things, not least anatomically, I am more concerned with the subtle differences between them. The dog we are looking after is, admittedly, very like a cat, but it has been noted that I act differently with the canine creature than its feline nemesis. By which I mean that when I am skulking around home alone I will talk amicably to the animals in a conversational manner, but to the dog in straightforward English, and the cat in French. Why? Je ne sais pas.

2. Icecream vans are creepy. When up in my room I hear the soft tinkling of a nursery rhyme tune drifting on the breeze up to my window, luring innocent children with its haunting and frankly sinister melodies. There is something of the Pied Piper in the whole business, a fairytale I always had trouble with as it made me uncomfortable. A grown man leading young bairns away with a quick blow on his whistle? Shudder. And not to mention how reminiscent the icecream vans are to that familiar figure of children's nightmares, the Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. An absolutely terrifying chap, all greasy hair, wiry limbs and long, crooked nose.
It is even more disconcerting when the faint, repetitive ditties are heard as night falls.

3. Doing crosswords when one is forced to copy out the grid from the puzzle in the paper may well be fun the first time, what with the novelty of creating a slipshod forgery, but it is most definitely not when done every day. It becomes a cumbersome task. But when there have been cross words over crosswords (sorry, I couldn't resist) one must do one's duty and relent to the wishes of the disgruntled parent. Just as long as they are aware of my martyrdom.

4. I am actually incapable of receiving compliments like an ordinary human being. It all goes well at first, with me smiling graciously and thanking whoever has been lovely enough to pay me one. But then I always have to go further and be a little bit manic in my reply. For example, when complimented on my new shoes, which has happened rather a lot actually, I then go on to immediately say how they were an absolute bargain from Save the Children at only £4 yada, yada, yada. People don't want to hear that. They want the moment to swiftly move one, having done a nice thing in saying something good about another and hoping that it will be reciprocated. They don't want to hear how I am the bag lady of Hexham, scrambling about in charity shops and being tight with money. I can't help it though, it all just spills out in a rather high-pitched voice, nineteen to the dozen. I must learn to say 'Thankyou, and I simply adore your vintage lycra jumpsuit'. Easy as that.

5. Being an only child (though only for a few days, granted) may not be all it's cracked up to be. It's basically the same as having siblings but with less satisfaction from winding up, less exasperation from observing the habits of others and less entertainment from the exploits of the young. A sedate ride is not necessarily preferable to one with peaks and troughs, as the rollercoaster industry is well aware.

Over and out on the observation front. It's time for Neighbours.

6 August 2007

Oddie's Kirkwatch: Summertime

To paraphrase the sainted Gerald Durrell, whom is the apple of my father's eye, families are animals. Be it roving beasts, exotic birds or, in my case, all-out monsters, there is a certain animalistic quality at the core of every pared down, stripped bare family, feral and untamed.

Though I never got along with the overgrown boy scout tales of our familiar friend Gerald (far too wholesome and angst free for my liking- though I appreciated the naming of an elephant Rosie) I see there is some truth in his comparison. After all, is there really a vast difference between anthropology and zoology?

So, to the horseplay and monkeying around of the Ingleside livestock. A fair bit of rabid frothing is common at this time of year, what with increased exposure to the habits of other mammals in the vicinity. As well as pouncing on prey and ripping them limb from limb in a bloody frenzy. (Well a verbal frenzy of expletives at any rate).
A great deal of preening, posturing and fluffing of feathers is also noticeable, especially after the offspring dupe the elders into purchasing new clothes for them. This meticulous and extensive grooming increases just before the mating dances and strutting of stuff when going on hunts, out for the kill.
Nocturnal activity becomes the norm, with the young of the brood rarely rising before noon and staying wakeful well into the night. Though often dormant during the day, hibernation is not quite on the cards, despite supplies being horded in and around nest areas.
It is common for the youngest to have all manner of flora and fauna plucked from his wayward mane, but it is rare for these to be consumed ape-like by the one grooming.
The mother within the pride must accept that her cub is no longer of nurturing age, and after a recent birthday must fly the nest, spread his wings, leave the coop.

However, he may still need keeping an eye on as he is still inclined to try and sit on chairs that are simply not there and come crashing to the ground like a herd of elephants. Which makes the onlookers cackle like hyenas.