Peter and the Boy

“Once upon a time there were four little Rabbits, and their names were-Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail, and Peter.”

Dear V,

The above is where my story began.  Miss Potter created me, taking great care to give me a lovely blue coat, the longest,

proudest ears, and the fluffiest white tail. The rest of my story belongs to you.  I have been with you since that very first day when you came screaming into the world.  Cosied in beside you I instantly soothed you as your eyes adjusted to the reality of this big bad world.  I have been by your side ever since.  Offering cuddles without question. My soft ears to your trembling lip in moments of uncertainty.  A coat lapel that smells like home when we are away on one of our adventures I have happily been your anchor.  One of your first words was “Abbit, abbit”, and I have shared all of your firsts with you since. The first but not the last time you had tonsillitis. The first time we had a bowl of Mamma’s lentil soup.  The first time we slept in our big boy bed.  I even came with you to the hospital to meet your little sister when you were just a baby yourself.

Tomorrow you will be six.  A big schoolboy, the last few months have seen big changes for you and I.  Starting school, I am now left at home.  No more travelling in the nursery bag and waiting patiently in the cloakroom for the occasional hug.  I understand that school is something that you have to do on your own.  I am so proud of you for taking those first steps, independently, without me.  Yet I fret and worry all day about you.  I lie on the sofa and wait just where you left me, but my mind is with you.  Are you eating your lunch, are you cold?  Are you being a good boy?  I am your first point of call when you burst through the door and I bristle with pride when you reach for me.  I know that this is just the beginning of your solo outings.  You will need and look for me less.

As we write, Mamma too has grown a long pair of proud ears, pulled on a lovely blue coat, and grew a fluffy white tail.  For she too knows the changes that are afoot.  As she runs alongside the school bus each morning in her pyjamas, she is so happy of the black eyes she receives.  Affirmation for the rest of the day that you still need her. Your little hand pressed against the glass until she is out of sight.  She is trying all the time to let you stand on your own two feet.  Although through habit, she can sometimes forget the big boy you are becoming.  When she tries to zip your jacket up each morning, you are quick to remind her “I can do it myself”.  Our eyes meet as she swallows her heart back down and out of sight from you.  She lives for those moments when you look for her and she recognises the growing length of time in between them.

After all, her story truly belongs to you too.  Bringing you into this world and raising you has been her beginning. You are her author.  Your baby sister penning her sequel.  Even when you grow to six foot tall, you will always be our baby boy.  By that time mamma and I will be growing old together. Tattered but happy, we will not notice that our blue coat has gotten shabbier or that our tails are hanging on by a thread, for we will have known love.  And that in the end, is all we really wish for you.

So Happy Birthday our darling boy.  We do not want you to go out into Mr MacGregor’s garden, but we know that you must.

Be safe.  Always.

Love Peter (And your mama) xxxxx

The Potato Graveyard and the Brown Bin.

tomThe Greek has a shocking memory. It’s a fact.  He can forget whole conversations, days, events.  I help him recover these lost experiences by laying down a trail of edible memories.  “Remember babes, you had the calzone?” A wee light goes on and he remembers the event, more so the calzone, but nonetheless satisfied.  I am constantly obsessed with forgetting something, particularly in relation to my children.  I live in fear that I have sent my son to school dressed as an orange, when its actually dress like a plum day.  A wee tangerine surrounded by a mocking purple gang, I torment myself until my happy little citrus fruit bounces off the school bus and waves goodbye to all his little orange peers.  My daughter has many hospital appointments and I always get there on the correct day, and on time, but always frantically googling “what is an ophthalmologist”.  With this obsession and the Greek’s Swiss cheese memory, this task of appointments, events, and attempting to forward plan is mine.

It is an unspoken agreement like the task of recycling.  I hate recycling.  We used our food waste bin for about two weeks.  I complained constantly about the smell and the ridiculous size of the thing.  As a family of four good eaters, I do not understand why the council think Tom Thumb’s satchel is a good size for us to dispose of food waste.  Overflowing by 11am each day and reeking of what you have just eaten I demanded it left.  The Greek was bereft.  He loved the bin.  An overflowing sea of rotten treasures to be reused.  He even loved the wee bags that came with it.  Where you and I see a bag, his eyes were full of wonderment at the possibilities they held.  Homemade water bombs.  Lining for tomato plant pots, malleable shapes to coat in paper mache.  He had a lot of fun for those two weeks.  It went of course but he remains true to his cause.  When I go through the veg box indiscriminately lobbing the older inhabitants into the bin, he is always over my shoulder, “NO, it’s sprouting!”  I sigh as I hand over his chosen one.   The wake is always held in the kitchen cupboard.  The potato resting on top of the boiler he is encouraged and continues to sprout.  Next, an elaborate burial in the garden, the whole family in attendance as we bid him farewell.  Off on his journey to grow new life.  Cilla (the puppy) desperately trying to exhume him, we know we will meet again, and he will bring friends.

I understand the importance of recycling, but when I am faced with lots of squashed cartons daily on the kitchen worktop, I despair.  The Greek spends hours, peeling labels off, washing tins, flat packing milk cartons and singing, “reduce, reuse, recycle”.  He likes the dreaded purple bin too.  He likes to take me on romantic dates to the purple bin and while I hold it open, he posts the empty bottles of wine in it.  He recites aloud their monetary value as they crash into purple heaven.  £5 £10 £15 £20.  I nod and shake my head when appropriate, whilst thinking how much of a nicer perfume old wine is compared to Tom’s satchel.

With this task of recycling comes a great honour.   The Greek checks and re-checks, which bin goes out this Wednesday.  He lives in fear that we miss this service and are left adrift in a sea of rubbish.  Every second Wednesday he can be seen running down our driveway at 6.20AM with the green bin. Wearing only a t-shirt and boxers,  barefooted, screaming, “Wait guys”!  The same guy always breaks the bad news to him, “it’s the brown first mate”.  Exhausted and frostbitten he retreats and tells us all about it.  Again.

In researching this blog, I found that there is still a massive gender difference in the housework arena.  Woman continue to do more than their fair share it seems.  Although I mock him, my Greek is actually a fairly modern husband.  He cooks like the amazing fishermen he descends from.  He likes to deep clean the bathroom, and I am forbidden access to the laundry basket.   For me the difference is the reception on how these tasks are received.

Not so long ago, the wife, the mother’s place was in the home.  Cooking, cleaning, and tending to her husband and children.  The husband the breadwinner, the wife his support.  There have been big changes since then, but maybe the essence of this structure persists.    Papa likes to help the Bionic Woman around the house with a set task.  He washes the dishtowels for their busy business and then prances around their lofty apartment, draping the towels over any available heat source.  As he stands prepared to take a bow and be showered in roses, the Bionic Woman is always unyielding in her reply,  “what is it you’re after; a medal?”

Maybe we ladies are defensive on behalf of our foremothers whilst men feel some inexplicable need for recognition.  Woman fulfilling an obligation, whilst men claiming a sense of achievement.    Yet I like this disparity between us.  It interests the part time sociologist in me.  When I am out on a date with my oldest friend Miss Modest Mum, we regale each other with these “husband stories”.  We laugh until our sides are sore, and ultimately feel less frustrated.  For the Greek and me it is a source of constant conflict.  As a newly married couple, we are at the beginning of our learning curve of partnership, swinging between accusation and appraisals.  Trying to work out a system of co-operation and co-ordination.  Wish us luck.

I will never take the bins out though.  Brown Bin Wednesday is some laugh.


Happy weekend xxxxxxxxxxxxx







Bubble Wrap and Bibles


I have lots of stuff.  I would not describe myself as materialistic but more of a hoarder.  I never really buy anything for myself and can be found all year round in harem pants and flip-flops.  Yet I do keep important artefacts from my history.  My first Valentine card from Martin Crankshaw, my Grandpa Bamps wee 50p saving tin, my kids first Babygro’s.  I could not be parted from them.  The Greek has a much more minimalist approach.  We have moved house 3 times in 7 years and the only possession he has insisted goes with him is his hideous oversized Leprechaun coffee mug.  When unpacking at our next destination I can be found rolling around the floor searching for my treasures, did they make it, are they here?  I scramble through boxes, eventually defeated amidst a sea of bubble wrap and tissue paper.  Breathless I start to doubt whether I packed them in the first place.  The Greek casts a temporary shadow on my seabed when he steps over me, that mug over his shoulder.  La de da, kettle located, “you want tea babes?”  I start to reply but realise you cannot speak under bubble wrap sea.  “Oh no wait a minute, you don’t have a cup” sails in from our new kitchen.

Becoming a mother has seen this disease deepen.  I must keep everything.  I must have a catalogue all of my kids achievements.  Nursery drawings, nametags from the hospital, original “inventions”.  I am a curator of them.  Something that the Greek and I share in common is our disorganisation. We do try, but usually get distracted along the way.  With two young kids there is a lot of “pre – planning” to be done.  Parties, appointments, homework, gifts for parties, school dress up days, and on and on.  The ever traditionalist Greek sticks to his simple tools.  Note taking and list making.  Scraps of paper are all over our house.  Not on a pleasant note pad sheet with information on one side and a generic Ghandi quote on the back, but a well-loved edge of something dripping with last week’s dinner and his important information.  My reply to this deficit in our organising has been two fold.  Number one; Home Bargains.  I jauntily arrange my thinking cap on my head and head there sporadically to “get organising”.  I never leave empty-handed and sure, I pick up a packet of polly pockets and a reward chart, but I also buy crap.  When I come home and show off my new purchase, a stuffed Kangaroo which when turned upside down is ALSO a whisk, the Greek’s reply is always the same.  “Great just what we need, more shite”.  I feel for the Kangaroo and I always do my best sales pitch, but I know that he is right.

Number two; my sister.  If I were to hazard a guess at organisation and its point of origin, I would not hesitate in standing up and pointing across the courtroom at her.  Let us call her “The Interpreter”. In common, we have a quick wit, and a huge set of boobs each. Throughout our lives, she has been my interpreter.  On my first day of school, it was she who answered the teacher’s questions.  Shouting from her pram my vital statistics, whilst I stared down at my Clarks shoes and thanked my father’s DNA for my heavy fringe.  Her candour mortifies me and my silence baffles her.

Like most sisters, we would walk over hot coals for one and other.  We have that unshakable bond of childhood.  Her putting my books constantly in the washing machine to gain a playmate, our stripping the Sindy dolls naked and rubbing them against each other whilst performing erotic voice-overs, we know all of the others secrets.   In recent years, she has become my PR team.  She promotes me.  Insisting that I get time to myself, without being a wife or a mother.  She is my biggest supporter. Yet, we are as different as two people could be.  She is as focused as I am in a constant daydream.  As driven as I park my arse for another “chill”.  She is the architect of organisation, and well I am at home bargains.  She is younger than I am but if I am truly honest, I look up to her.  I listen when she speaks and I really try to make her proud.  She was the one who said it was not ok for me to brush my hair in the kitchen using the microwave as my vanity mirror.  She went to Home Bargains and bought things we actually use!  A jar to store pasta shells!  With one swipe, my fusilli graveyard was gone.

Her home is a haven that Monica Gellar would be proud of.  Having lived in Japan, she likes words like; Simplicity and minimalism.  She encourages us to adopt a new philosophy of living.  We must de – clutter, and synchronise our diaries.  I nod solemnly whilst imagining two wee diaries at the local swimming baths, turning and twirling in unison. Calculators and staplers applauding in admiration at the poolside. “Are you listening to ME”! The interpreter demands.

In the last decade, there has been a growing popularity in this minimalist approach to life.  Surely, it is in reply to the amount of stuff, the amount of choice that we have.  Our lives have become cluttered with not only things, but also choices, options, technology.

The Bionic Woman has been reading the Japanese art of tidying up books for a number of years.  She is not the least bit materialistic and she seems strong in her conviction about adopting this lifestyle.  She quotes directly from Kondo telling us we must only keep the items that truly keep us happy.  She is beautiful in her sincerity as she tell us that is is the year she will do this.  The trouble is I see the young girl in her.  Scouring the streets for pieces of rubbish and pencils that may be cold and keeping them safe in her pocket. Piaget’s dream.  She is also a talented antique dealer and the house is a haven to all this knowledge.  Her eBay room bustles with her success.  Countless dolls look down at her as she types, ever searching for her glasses, and swearing that tomorrow she will de – clutter.    To me this is part of who she is.  If I visited tomorrow to find her in a clear office space with categorised dolls lined up for dispatch, I would demand the return of my Bionic Woman and the immediate arrest of this body snatching imposter.

I would like to organise my life and space more yes.  However, I want my space to say something about my family and me.  The idiosyncrasies that make it ours.  The mural of stick men drawings hanging together with homemade play doh.  The grow lines etched on the walls.  As for all those valued trinkets, they must make me happy; they have been with me all my life.  I am not religious but my nanas bible with her mother’s writing on the first page means more to me than any filing system I have attempted to implement.  I like to stare at my great grandmother’s writing and wonder what she was like.  Haphazard as her loopy scrawl would suggest.  Or  more like the interpreter who is apparently her living image.  All those little random pieces of rubbish are a link to my past.  Little invisible threads of where I have come from.  The minimalists would argue that we do not need these, and maybe I do not.  They are it seems like a comfort blanket.  Something for me to pull out it times of uncertainty.  I would love to be organised and pass down that virtue to my children.  However, when my son comes across my Uncle Pats obituary, yellowed and aged since the years he has left us, he is always quick to say “Oh look it’s that man Uncle Pat”.  I dismantle my organising cap, and cosy my children amongst a bubble wrap blanket and tell them all about the wonderful man he was, the organised Interpreter by my side.

Messy but happy.

Happy weekend xxxx

Postcards and Tricorders

Having got a new phone my mother, let us call her The Bionic Woman; is temporarily unreachable. As I write, she is in rehearsals for “how to answer my fecking phone”. The slide to answer function see her adopt some movement improvisation skills, taking not only her finger but also her whole self across the performance area. On successful attempts when she answers, breathless and shouts, “hello” she is less than amused when I reply; “Slide to the left. Slide to the right.”

I mock, but really, I am the same, a technophobe, my mother’s daughter.

I have a deep obsession with post cards particularly WW1 silk postcards. Embroidered by French and Belgian woman, and purchased by soldiers on the Western Front, they fascinate me. A tangible record of love they illustrate the strength of the human spirit in horrendous times. Sadly, postcards are sliding towards the obsolete, taking with them the beautiful art of letter writing and Christmas cards. Instantaneous and constant communication through social media and bloody apps has seen our pencils put down, permanently.

I am demented daily with all this technology. I have friends who have a PHONE watch. I stare at them, yearning for the comfort of my Nana’s big rotary dial phone. I am a proud Sci –Fi fan. Commander Datta and his tricorder stole my heart a long time ago. Yet to me such things should reside in that land; fiction.  Phone watches that bing to let you know the phone in your bag has important news about Agnes MaGlumfer and her new hairdo. No thanks. I will wait, with bated breath, until I bump into Agnes (in Aldi) and say, “here, have you had your hair done Agnes?” Do not even get me started on the Kindle. The Bionic Woman is not a fan either. Although can you imagine the motion sickness she would incur from all that attempted swiping to the next page? I am a constant source of humour to my friends as I try to keep up with messenger, what’s app, the hell that is predictive text and the ambiguity of those wee emoji’s.

Yet all these things have infiltrated my home and daily life. My phone bleeps first thing every morning to tell me I am in Glasgow and it is expected to be frozen the day. Solemnly, I put down my compass and pack away the sun cream. The Greek is a fan of the oven timer. Not to cook, but as his own interpretation of time management. The “chicky timer” is set approximately 50 times a day. Bing! Time to get dressed for school, Bing! Time for the puppy’s ear drops, Bing! Bath time. By the end of the day, I am a nervous wreck standing up and down at every bing like one of Pavlov’s well-behaved dogs. “WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME!!” I scream into thin air.

Of course, like most I have tried my hand at apps. My marriage nearly failed before it began, with the Greek and his calorie-counting app. “That’s you had 1200 the day, whilst I’ve had 1199”. Smug shite. The app that lets you know your period is due? Bing! “You are about to menstruate”. Well knock me down with a feather. Astonished I look up from the raw steak I have been gnawing on for the last four days, whilst continuing to lift my boobs and fan under them with the Daily Record. An app to count your steps? I reached the maximum for the day before leaving the house. A joint download for the Greek and me? The running app. This saw me run around the block, once, with my determined face on. Having no arse I spent the whole time clutching my “jogging pants” whilst trying to skip Ed Sheering singing into my ears about bloody crumbling pastry. The Greek summed it up the following day, limping into the driveway, (having made his debut on the pavement) and suffering with “an old basketball injury flare up”; “F**ck that”, he acutely observed. My personal favourite? Bing “Today is a safe day to have intercourse”. Oh really? I cast a glance over to my beloved. Up since 4.30 AM, he has clearly made time in his day to be dragged through a hedge backwards. He is now, semi-conscious on the sofa attacking a bag of salted pistachios, presumably having being told it is the last bag in circulation. To commit to the task I would need a risk assessment and a hardhat helmet simply to make it to the other sofa, and safe from all the falling pistachio shells.
This flirtation with apps did not last long as all by ourselves we were able to conclude; we are shattered, in Glasgow, freezing, overweight, unfit, and as fertile as a pair of amorous bunnies.

Part of the allure of my Greek was the enforced separation of National Service. The postcard enthusiast in me took to this role with great ease. Forlorn and love sick I spent a year going for walks, sighing and writing letters back and forth to El Greco. They now languish collectively in a box. Yet they are there. Just like those love letters from 1914 -18. Existing forever. Here I am. Here I was. I loved her. I did this. I lived. I will survive. Forever. Instant messaging, fad apps, snap chat, evaporating as quickly as they have been conceived, mere fleeting glibs in the technological age.

So maybe, once in a while, we should all put down those tricorders and pick up our pencils.

Happy Sunday xxxxxxxxxxxxxx



Aldi with my Father

blogThere is a Facebook joke going about the now about how you go in to Aldi for a loaf and come out with, the loaf, a saw, and a trumpet. I am an Aldi addict.  The thrill of the unknown sees me there faithfully every week.  You THINK you are popping in for a pint of milk, but you know there is a good chance you may exit with unicorn steaks and a garden gnome.  It is anyone’s guess.  Exotic vegetables, Wagu beef, beautiful kids jumpers, wasabi coated almonds?  The list goes on.  Even better, when someone asks you where you got said treasure, and you comment aloofly “Oh that old thing?  I picked it up in Aldi.”

Better still if the enquirer is a Waitrose enthusiast.

Purchasing a cracking wine and drinking it all that very evening (because you bought six given the cheap price tag, and whilst you are pickling your liver, you ARE sticking to a budget), the cheese, oh the cheese.  All wonderful points, but not my favourite thing about Aldi. That accolade goes to my companion, my chauffeur, and on this little pocket of time in my week, my confidante.  My father.

Big John, Taxi John, or “that big eejit” as my beloved Nana used to call him, is like many of our Glasgow fellas, a quiet man.  Selective in what he says and who he says it, he is truly at his happiest doing nothing sat beside my mum.  They sit beside one and other and do the same thing, every single night.  Whiskey and confessions, pakora and a slagging match.  Healthy? Maybe not, best friends, definitely.  He is a man of routine.  A man of habit.  A man of filthy humour at inappropriate moments.  Yet he is not without emotion.  His wee face carrying Nana’s coffin is something I will never forget.  He is a tough nut to crack I guess.  The advent of grandchildren have softened his edges.  He would never voice his affection to them, but they know the sound of his car engine and bound like puppies to play with the biggest kid of the family.  Laden with treats from the butchers for the cubs, he never stays long, his absence already a trail of anticipation for the next visit.

Aldi has become our twilight zone.  We have an unspoken eternal weekly date, and I know that we both look forward to it.  We puzzle over bags of spirulina powder, and what exactly is a persimmon?  We faithfully genuflect at our shared alter to our God, purple sprouting broccoli, and we always “pick up something for the weans”.  Being a shopaholic my dad is the price index of all the local competitors and we marvel in unison at the utter bargains to be had in our Aldi.  Amongst all this traffic are our chats.  Morsels we throw each other from our week, episodes downloaded, my driving lessons (I’ve been learning to drive since the last century), and my favourite titbit; stories from his childhood and growing up.  They pop out of his mouth on our Aldi jaunts with ease that I have never witnessed.  I am careful not to make too much fuss at these golden moments and casually yawn or stare down Kevin the carrot.

For me becoming a mother made me even closer to my own parents.  That wee notch up the generation tree suddenly made me all the more aware of their life before me.  My mother had always peppered my upbringing with stories of her family, long dead family pets, and being Ziggy Stardust.  My dad is much more of a closed book. Except in Aldi.  Here I listen intently whilst absent mindly humming the Paw Patrol theme tune.  When he says, “I’ll get you upstairs at the car”, I nod.  Really, I want to wedge a bag of frozen peas in his mouth as a bookmark, so as not to lose my page.

As my Nana would have said, “none of us are getting any younger”.

I have watched a dear friend lose her father in recent years, and I have many friends at the moment who are coping with the reality of a sick parent. It makes Aldi with my father all the more poignant to me.

Maybe you aren’t a super market goer I here you say?   Fine.  Do something else, together.  Find your Aldi, and tell your old man; I love you.


Happy Wednesday xxx

Introducing the Greek

theoHaving finally started this blog, I would like to introduce my companion through this land of sleepless nights. Lets call him my Greek.

My personal chef is at the core of his soul, Mediterranean.  Everything will be done in good time; let’s make a list, no,  lets make a frappe, then THINK about that list.  He is the ying to my silent but frenetic yang, and yip I would be lost without him.

Regardless of his heritage his brain works like every other bloody guys.  Different from a mummy’s head, which for me consists of juggling a million thoughts, fears, and actual tasks.  The Greek has a completely different approach to the priorities of parenting.  Songs, he’s all about the songs.  Original pirate material MC spins on classic nursery  rhymes.  Weeding big dirty “treasures” from the garden in November.  Going online in the wee small hours of the morning to buy socks, yes socks for our puppy.  The list goes on.

Yesterday was no exception.

Having lost a drone with our son 3 days ago (its stuck up in the tree, outside our house), he announced he was “off to the Card Factory on a mission”.  Huh.  Its Papa’s birthday next week, some forward planning?!  Not quite.  1 hour and £4 later, the big reveal.  A helium balloon to raise into the sky, manipulate through the branches and gently, and very carefully release the drone.  There it is.  The difference.  He thinks it’s a priority to save the drone.

I seethed silently for the rest of the afternoon.  Has he got nothing else to worry about?!  If ONLY I had time to saunter into town and float home with a bloody balloon!  Of course when my son arrived home, Dadda was a hero amongst men.  A twosome united against the elements, buoyed with helium and eternal optimism.

As I peeked out the blinds, scowling and trying not to burn the lasagne something else creeped up my spine.  Jealously.  Why didn’t I take a minute to think of a flotation saving device, why don’t I take a minute to stop, and enjoy the wee things.  Should I blame my gender?  My nationality?  I’m not sure.

Still today is a new day.  So, if you look up at the sky and see a drone go sailing freely by, take a wee moment and enjoy those simple things.


Of course just before I wearily limped into bed last night, there it was; Papa’s birthday card.

Christ.  I love that buggar.