Caravan of Love


Its Easter and the schools are off.  My son celebrates each morning when he enquires, “Is school still cancelled”.  Contentment spills across his face as I confirm this.  He stretches and yawns enjoying this indulgence, before locating his pogo stick and springing to life.  My daughter sleeps on truly enjoying this hiatus from routine.  When she rises several hours later, around 7am, she too asks instantly “do I have wursery today?”

I adore this break too.  The mornings are the most stressful part of the day as a mother, closely followed by the return home when my children and husband have apparently been starved all day and must EAT now.  My son shrieks for a snack whilst trying to yank his school tie and head off.  The Greek is a silent raging bull.  Asking if I need any help, which in Greek means, “Hurry the FUCK up”.  My daughter sits on the sofa with her jacket and shoes on and stares straight ahead shouting “Chicken, give me chicken!” on a loop. This scene is an oasis of calm compared to the morning show.  I can remember my own mother dragging me out of bed and tearing a brush through my hair whilst I continued to sleep into my ricicles.  I have the opposite problem now.  By the time it is ready to depart, we have all been up for hours.  My son always asks for a banana to take to the bus stop.  My daughter confesses she cannot remember what she had for her starter.  I sprint around in my jammies, tripping over the puppy, and excusing my existence to the Greek.  Mornings are not for him.  He is mute until noon.  Coffee and his leprechaun mug are his only confidantes.   I have grown to accept this and I smile benignly in his direction and stick my two fingers up whenever his back greets me.

Easter break is also a favourite for us as it means caravan.  My children are well travelled, but Dunoon is their favourite destination.  Our little bubble that exists out with reality, we pack a rucksack with the bare essentials, travel via Morrison’s to stock up on beers and tuna pasta and coorie doon.  The four of us float about wearing mismatched socks and papas old t-shirts.  We raid the charity shops for batman and my little pony treasures.  We attend the bakers for cream puffs, and we throw our hairstyles to the wind, inviting birds to nest there.  The kids shriek with delight when they find a dead crab on the beach.  They are always solemn as we encase its carcass in a mussel shell, and send nothing but could wishes as we set it to sail on the sea.  Being by the Scottish sea has the same effect on myself as melting Greece does on my Greek.  I watch the waves and feel a sense of calm roll over my mind, pushing my usual bed fellow anxiety overboard, I truly feel content.  I love the smell too.  Different from the sunny Greek sea front, it reeks of seaweed and spoots.  This beach expects nothing from me.  I can wear my fleece, hat and wellies.  There will be no 2-piece bikinis here.

We communicate better as a family here.  We have long conversations over monopoly.  We stroll like a human daisy chain through the trees, playing dead every so often to trick a bunny.  Cilla the puppy is our newest recruit.  She too has fallen into the caravan life.  At home, she follows me everywhere.  I no longer pee without an audience.  When the kids are tucked up in bed, Cilla takes their place.  Poking her nose around the toilet door and staring.  She can hear the fridge open from a mile away, the dog who lives two doors down sneeze.  At the caravan, she becomes Bob Marley.  She lounges.  The fridge opens; she looks up sometimes, but with no desire to move from the gas fire.  I toddle to the toilet and nothing.  I sit aghast in the cubicle and really enjoy my solo pee.  When we go to the beach, she runs on an imaginary treadmill, back and forth, grinning from ear to ear, and shouting over to us, “Guys, this is the life”!  I look at my Greek as he says, “it sure is”.

A wave crashes and the wonderful smell comes at us.  I smile to myself as I watch his nostrils register this and I know what he will say next.  “Babes, do you fancy mussels for dinner?”

“OK” Say I.

Happy Easter xxxx




The clocks sprung forward what can it mean.
Do I sleep more, or less, or just the same.
As I keek out of one eye, all seems unchanged.
Pinned to the bed by multiple limbs.
Two elbows moored in my cheekbones,
Whilst hot little handies pinch on to my skin.

My mind, always the first to rise.
“No matter the time;
There is lots to get done!”
Trapped in the loveliest family spaghetti,
HUSH! I shout silently,
You will wake my babies!

Its Sunday, a day of rest,
No, No, get up and iron their vests!
The three pounds for toy fund!
Do you have it ready?
Here comes the mum, who forgot its Monday,

I view my world upside down,
At the edge of the bed.
Books, and bras,
Oh half eaten croissants,
Shite the Greek will moan.
No crummies in my bed,
He DRONES on and on.

I begin my arise,
Falling silently to the floor.
Carefully posting myself down the stairs,
I manage to avoid all the booby trap Lego.
Tea, heating on, puppy out.
Christ its cold.

Spring has sprung.
Despite the snow,
Wee daffodils look hopeful,
I retreat noiselessly,
And slip through the door.

Chaos is here.
Laughter and sneezes,
Demands for warm milk.
My spaghetti relocated,
Onto the couch.

“You don’t have TIME,
To do as they do”!
Then my daughter yells out,
“Bring the parmesan mama”
And well I cannot resist;
Can you?


Happy Sunday xx


The Melting Pot


Once a year, the four of us embark to the island of Kos to visit the in-laws.  On stepping off the plane, it begins.  My Britishness versus the Greek’s Greekness.  I start to melt, regardless of the time of day.  Pieces of me slide to the blistering runway and I realise all too late my pre-planned arrival outfit is actually a wet suit.  My kid’s immediately start to whine about their own discomfort.  Favourite blankets are handed to me, slippery toys and half-eaten sandwiches.  They demand to be fanned, carried, my daughter screams “guys who turned on the heating!”  I placate them, fan them, wipe their brows, apologise to strangers, explain their tiredness, and smile demurely as the stranger sympathises.  “Yes, yes it IS a long flight”.  I pray they do not start trying to chat to either one of my kids.  Small talk to small children, whilst melting, do not go well together.  As we approach a slippery silence I look about to find my Greek.  There he is up ahead, can you see him?  An invisible coat hanger stuffed in his mouth, unaffected by the heating, and looking generally fabulous.  He waves to old classmates, runs his hand through his hair, and looks up the sky, eyes closed, coat hanger intact.  The three of us slither over to him, and he is our Greek Scot once more.  He locates the heating dial behind my daughter’s ear and turns her down.  He throws a bottle of water over our sons head, and he fans me with his passport whilst asking if I remembered my antihistamines.

The next day we trot to the beach.  I set up camp, still melting and now dripping with factor 50.  By now, the kids have acclimatised to the heat and have pulled on the bronzed protective skin that their genes have predetermined.  My Greek is away being Greek.  Truly at home, I know the wee chat he is having could last for several hours.  My kids shout me from the shore and it is time.  Surrounded by native mermaids I begin my shassy to the water’s edge.  Barefooted I realise too late the temperature of the sand against my usually frostbitten feet, and I have no option, run, run, run, no not like that!  Why am I prancing on tiptoes, why is an invisible crab pincering my ass?  Is that my boob I can feel outside of my wet suit?  I launch myself into the sea, aiming at my children and maiming several sea creatures.

The other main barrier on this journey is the language.  My Greek is much better than it was to begin with, sure, but I am still at the stage of general enquiries, menu reading, and weather observations.  This frustration is most apparent when we spend time with yaya (grannie).  She bristles with unasked questions, attempts to read our minds, and stares at her grandchildren.  I imagine a shutter behind her eye taking snapshots of them to rewind and play in her internal cinema for the rest of the year.  The mother in me aches for her.  She has brought our Greek into our world (literally); she is the beginning of his story.  We stare at each other intently as she says, “very hot today”.  Papous (Papa) is unaware of this language divide.  He generally communicates through the food that he makes for us.  The cook in me is fluent in this language. I can taste his love in the calamari he has cooked us, I can feel his devotion in the pastichio he rustles up for the kids, and I can see him in the corner of my eye peeking out of the kitchen to witness our yummy noises.

The Greek and I are competent in Spanish.  On trips there, we both feel a sense of being at home.  We enquire about the origin of the wine, we ask for a high chair, we receive complimentary tapas that we sit atop our beers and wiggle our bums with contentment.  My children both attend Gaelic medium education.  They too have developed a visible sense of belonging to this community through the language they are learning.  They attribute these languages to different people.  English for mama, Greek for dada, and Gaelic for each other.

Language gives us a sense of identity and comfort through familiarity.  Just as the Greek is at home shouting and bawling about feta and Papandreou,  I feel like Dorothy Gale whenever I hear someone say, “am bast**ding frozen tae the marrow bone”.  Language is never static and is always evolving.  We all too have our own family discourse that only relations are fluent in.  When my mother refers to “tumshie”, we all know she means her mother, and not a turnip.  My father is a key orchestrator in our linguistic quirks.  For example: Many years ago, my parents stayed in a hotel called the Don Jami. In short, it made Fawlty Towers seem like the Hilton.  For my entire life, Don Jami has meant a cheap imitation or something that does not come up to standard.  For example; my son loves “Salt’N’Shake” crisps.  If I attempt to feed him Aldi’s “Salt Your Own”, he shrieks “mama these crisps are pure don jamis!”

Language is what separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom.   It has been described as the core of humanity. Our written and spoken language allows us to form lasting bonds with one another, allows us to convey feelings, desires, emotions.  It allows us to participate in a culture, a society, an economy.  Written down it can create beautiful stories, emotive poetry, and records of our time.

Fluent in Glaswegian, English, Family, semi Spanish, pigeon Gaelic, it seems I now need to turn my attention to Greek.  To aim for the day, when I can say to the airport worker, “Here carry this lot of shite, I’m positively melting”.  To ask the taxi driver to wait until I have the kids seat belts in place before zooming into the night.  To tell all the mermaids to look the other way as I prepare for my catwalk to the ocean.  To tell Papous “that calamari was frigging amazing”.  However, most importantly to say to yaya;

“She is as determined as your son.  He is an excellent candidate for a sleep deprivation study”.

“Thank you for our Greek.”

“We will see you soon.”

“We love you.”


Happy Sunday xx





The first word I can think off to summarise motherhood is exhaustion.  After having my son, I naively though I would fall into a blissful slumber with a mild Diazepam hangover.  Silly me.  Screaming and hungry when we both returned to our home I was delirious with sleeplessness.  That first night I sat in our kitchen sobbing uncontrollably while trying to attach a big suction contraption on to the vast surface area where my nipple had once been.  A taxi ride to Asda by the Greek and a bottle of formula later I slept for three blissful hours before being awakened by mastitis.  Every mother of young children knows the exhaustion that I refer to.  Young children are balls of energy.  Awake and ready to learn, to experience, to assimilate, to grow.  My son said to me last night in bed, “You know mama; I doubt I will sleep long.  I already feel full percent charged”.  He must have been, he was up at 4am and ready for his day ahead.

Yet I would not change this for the world.  I run behind them every day.  Answering their never-ending questions in the best way I can.  Jumping into the air when a space ship descends in the living room, walking back and forth with a fleet of tiny prams as my daughter and I “go shopping”.  Resembling Quasimodo for the reminder of the day, I make sure they eat a balanced diet. I offer them picnics, mezzes, mince and tatties.  I keep them safe; I try to keep them clean.  I tuck them in and wait patiently until they drift off to sleep.  I search in the dark for their cups of milk.  I try to resist the urge to hang them upside down, batter their wee bums like a piggy bank, and let all their thoughts and impressions of their day to scatter over the carpet, ripe for me to gather.  Did they have a good day, did I do well.  I remember my son’s words about charging and I retreat, hunchbacked and hobbling downstairs to my Notre Dame.

I suppose the exhaustion that we mother’s experience is also a mental exhaustion.  The power that we hold as a mother can be overwhelming.  Are we doing this right, should they play with that?  Nowadays more than ever this pressure is on mothers.  Advice and guidelines are thrusted at us from all angles.  Dummies are a no no!  Breast is best.  Do not swaddle.  Not too much TV.  Society constructs a race that we all have to compete in, and look to our fellow runners as our yardstick.

I am not a girly girl so when I take my daughter to nursery, I give myself a pat on the back if her bobble is still in and her Primark bow intact.  I marvel at the mums who have found the time in their morning to French plait their daughter’s hair.  I want to reach out and touch it but I fear it is a mirage.  I meet mums in the corridor who are wearing jogging clothes.  When and where are they jogging to I marvel.  When a mother enquires, “How are you”?  I always reply the same, “I’m good”.  Really what I should be saying is “shattered.  Annoyed about the roll and sausage I ate this morning.  Yet peckish.  I’ve been up since 5 but I’m still running late, and I’m unsure if I have any knickers on”.  Perhaps the runner in the next lane would be surprised, but I suspect she would confide, just as I did.

Children are wonderful in their innocence.  They are largely untouched by these unspoken rules of society.  They are simple in their needs and desires.  All they really need is to have someone there who is their person.  Who smells familiar, who knows them better than they know themselves.  I have concluded that all these external pressures are inconsequential in the end.  The person who has taught me this is my daughter; Morena.

Morena was diagnosed with a rare brain condition when she was almost two.  Modern advances have seen the condition of ACC becoming correctly diagnosed and identified.  Its affects can be wide ranging.  For Morena this has meant she has been late to walk.  She is three and a half and has just started walking independently.  She also struggles with fine motor skills.  As a mother, I struggled for a long time with the loss of control I felt, the future, the obstacles.  The scrutiny I feel as a mother of a child who uses a walking frame is also immense.  Am I being the best mum I can be for her?  Do others think I am doing the best for her?  Do the many agencies involved in her case think I am a competent caregiver?  Morena has taught me that none of this matters.

Milestones are a generic guideline.  The OT is presently concerned about my daughter’s pincer grip.  You go right ahead love.  She does not see the Morena I do.  The Morena who sings happy birthday to me every day without fail.  The Morena who is such a joy and socialable child I puzzle why she cannot fly.  The Morena who can speak three languages.  The Morena who makes the best mushroom pakora.  The Morena who I am so proud of.  The Morena who is such a light in my life, I am astonished when I turn off the light that she does not glow in the dark.

My point?  Our kids are all different.  They all have strengths and weaknesses.  All of their achievements should be celebrated, whether it is transferring themselves independently to a wheelchair, or landing on the moon.

Be easy on yourself.  Put your bra on and go forth.



Happy Mother’s Day xxxx



El Dia de Helena (The Day of Helen)


Last week I went to see a wonderful film with the kids.  I have sat through some god-awful movies since becoming a mother.  Peppa Pig the experience?  I sat in the dark with matchsticks in my eyes, whilst the Greek fell fast asleep, only waking when his own snoring disturbed him.  Postman Pat the movie?  A singing Ronan Keating lives inside everyone’s favourite postie.  Just when you thought, that guy could not be anymore irritating.  Every so often though we are as excited as the kids, when Pixar makes the movie of choice.  Wonderful movies that always carry a moral thread. The Greek never tires of telling our taxi driver on the way to the cinema, “they have something for the kids AND the adults”.  The taxi driver always drives off with a list of movies recommended by the Greek and a promise to visit the island of Kos.

The movie this visit was Coco.  A story set in Mexico, about the central character Miguel, his love for music, and the festival of El Dia de los Muertos.  A beautiful story that educates children (and adult) viewers about this tradition.  Families on this day honour their dead.  They erect alters or shrines in the home, filled with pictures of their loved and departed ones.  They also tend their gravesides and leave gifts for them or “ofrendas”.  Whilst watching this unfold it became clear, that great grandma Coco was actually the main character.  The last tangible reference between the past and the present.  The Greek and I shared a tissue as well as popcorn that day.  My own gran was in hospital and she was our Coco.

She died peacefully 2 days ago, and this is my ofrenda to her.

She was a woman, who loved a man.  That is the best statement I can think of to sum up my gran’s 87 years.  She outlived her Joe by 25 years, yet it could have been 25 minutes to her.  Each day she arose and spoke to him.  She spoke of their life together as if referring to the other week.  He was never gone to her, and she continued to love him.  He was the anchor that defined her life.  He made the rules, she tended to him.  With his sudden departure, she carved out an existence that gave her structure, motivation, and chosen isolation.  She liked to stick to her rituals, her program, and her set rota for the week.  Up until 6 months ago, when a wasp landed on her toastie, causing her to fall, she did her exercises every morning, read a chapter, said her prayers, ate breakfast…  She had a shopping day, a washing day, and of course her beloved TV schedule everyday.

My sister (the interpreter), has always been fascinated or perhaps obsessed with the topic of death.  One of her first of many enquiries to our mother was “where would we be if we weren’t alive?”  Having become a successful playwright and writer, she openly confesses that to have this written record of her existence soothes her.  Anonymity terrifies her.  As humans, it is possibly the biggest question that we ask ourselves and it is always rhetorical.  We will never find a definitive answer.  My gran had an unyielding Catholic faith that was her pacifier.  She was not afraid and she was certain of where she was heading, she would get her reward in heaven.

My coping mechanism is my own religion of love, family and history.  My gran mac will be alive with me forever.  There is a little piece of her nestled in my heart but also in my head.  The memories she spread across our family will always be there.  Cartwheels and “shows” in the back garden, there she is, sitting beside my mum, a plastic deckchair each, an adoring audience of two.  Playing records on a Saturday night and winking over at her Joe.  Slapping our hands as we stick our hungry noses into the sweetie jar before morning mass.  All of our family will hold our own unique piece of her, with different memories and associations.  My father and uncle will remember a Helen we never knew.  A mother, a wife, a homemaker, a worker at the bookies.  I was 11 when granddad Joe died.  Yet I can still smell his Old Spice, I can still feel his callously hands as I perched on his knee and played milk the coo with his thumbs.  He too is immortal to me.

To be remembered, we do not need to paint a Sistine Chapel, or do something extraordinary.  Family is our get out of anonymity free card.  We are merely the latest cast of characters in our family story.  Walking historians, we share our stories.  Passing down the carefully wrapped parcels our ancestors have gave us.  Living our lives to the fullest, remembering every moment that passes is now history.  Whilst taking care to pass all these little parcels on to the next chorus line.   The love that we have for one and other trickles down the branches of this timeline and that is how we truly, live forever.

Night Night Gran Mac.  Sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite (yer bum off).

Love and Lemon Meringue Pies,

Your Duchess xxx






A Dicken’s Tale & a Conehead

I remember after giving birth to my son that I was amazed.

I had given life to someone. I had made him, carried him, and brought him here safely. Truly amazing, but not the amazement I am referring to.

The pain, the torturous, agonising, screaming my head off pain. That’s what had my jaw on the dance floor.

I have always wanted to be a mother. I have never been sure what else really. I love to dance. I love to read. I love to cook. I love to help others to help themselves. I have flirted with a number of different careers, some fleeting fancies – become Nancy Drew, others that I remain faithful to now like cooking. However, to be a mother was always there, unwavering. My own mother is like Mary Poppins. Growing up was a wonderful affair full of adventures, moral lessons, storytelling, never ending patience (hers) and my father’s ability to make everything about farts, our home was a happy one.

Falling pregnant with our son was a most enjoyable time. Constant lethargy that means you must go to bed at 6pm. Hungry constantly and having someone else to blame. Wearing loose fitting garments and flip-flops for 9 months. I loved every minute of it. I googled names, star signs, furniture, children’s literature quotes to scrawl across the nursery walls. I dreamed of what colour the babies eyes would be. Would they be shy? Would they like anchovies? Not once did I think about the BIRTH. I attended my midwife appointments faithfully. I went along to a few antenatal appointments, sure, but to be honest the Greek and I usually sat up the back, googling “what doesn’t give a pregnant woman heartburn from Indian takeaway shop”.

My son is a leisurely kind of person. Inquisitive and observant, he likes to take his time. Every morning he likes to fill me in on his night’s dream. With more twists and turns than an episode of Columbo, he will not be rushed. My daughter is an entirely different breed. Abducted by aliens each night they do things to her hair that defy gravity. She emerges, or her hair does, quickly from the covers. Demanding to get up and start her day, her first words are always the same; “where’s my lunch?” She came powering into the world. As in life her big brother had cleared the path for her, removing any obstacles or possible dangers, she was here in a flash, asking only to be fed. My son was weeks overdue and born after a 14 hour labour. Being induced, I was warned to be prepared, to be patient, it could well be a lengthy process.

Then it began. Hormones via a drip fool your body into labour. No build up, no dress rehearsal. The midwife assigned to my deluded self was at the end of her shift, disinterested in demeanour, and I quickly decided deserved to be assassinated. In between screams on a giant bouncy ball, I implored her to tell me why very long arrows where being forced down my spine and out of my ass? “This is it. Labour.” She replied. Damn you chicken tikka masala.

With a birthing plan jam packed with words such as unassisted and natural, she did not enquire if I would like any pain relief other than gas and air until around 3AM. Having gnawed the mouthpiece of my gas and air down to a Melba toast shape, I screamed “YESSSSSSSSS”. As I rolled over and received my prize, I remember seeing the Greek lying on the floor next to me. Opaque and dehydrated, I realised I had been crushing his hand with my free hand. I looked at it pale, grey, and unfamiliar from his usual tanned, reassuring shovels. “Are you the knife for my melba toast?” I asked it. Petrified and probably homesick the Greek reassured me, “yes, yes, I am. When all this is over we can go and get you pate, my love”.  Sometime after I asked nicely, “please Sir, can I have some more?” “More, MORE” shouted my Mr Bumble, “it has only been 38 minutes since the first one”!

Then she arrived, my Nancy. Starting her shift, and wearing only a halo of diazepam, Mr Bumble was free to go. Nancy spoke in gentle tones, offering massages, holding ice chips to my cracked lips. She, the Greek and I were a trio to ourselves for the next seven hours. The artful dodger danced behind them as I spun round on a carousel humming, “Who will buy this wonderful mornnningggg”. When doctors appeared quickly to form an episiotomy (a fancy word, for a big giant tear), I cared not a jot. I was pregnant with arrows, forever, and I had made my peace with that. Nancy magically transformed my bed to halve its size, and I was unsurprised, I knew she could do it. A hoover attachment appeared at some point to “apply and assist baby”. I looked at the Greek and caressed his face. “Honey, should we call the first one Bow, do you get it”. He smiled, I knew he would like my joke, he gets me. He is my Greek.

Then there it was a great big scream. A baby. No arrows. Nancy applauded, the Greek collapsed and I held my baby boy. Looking like something out of the coneheads movie. I had never seen such beauty. Finally, you are here my wee arrow. Let us sleep now.
Or so I thought.

That story boys and girls is a whole other blog……..
Happy Saturday xxx

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