Thursday, 29 January 2009

Negotiating tactics

This, hot off the presses chez Loth. A few moments ago, the boys were being sent up to get ready for bed. First Born was being amenable and happy to go (providing Second Born goes too: he hates to go upstairs alone at the moment). Second Born was haggling, or at least trying to haggle, with Husband about the evening arrangements.

Normally, once they are clean (ish), pyjama-d and clothes for the morning are laid out, they either play some weird imagination game together, read or have Daddy in the Dark. Or sometimes they have what is known as "Metabellus" which is an old fashioned Canadian novel we are slowly reading together with the boys (and us) substituting every second word in the text for alternatives of our own. Silly alternatives, you will be astonished to learn.

Anyway, SB was campaigning for Metabellus tonight. Husband was resisting as he is just back from a tiring business trip and is having difficulty forming coherent sentences. He tried to put SB off with "We'll do it at the weekend."

SB: But can we have Metabellus tonight, Dad?

H: We'll do it at the weekend.

SB: Give me a straight yes or no!

H: No.

SB: (without missing a beat) Okay, give me a bendy "no"............

He still didn't get his wish but he did raise a laugh.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Better late than never

I was doing some housework today - of the bloggy sort, naturally. (God forbid I should actually get the hoover out and see if that pink carpet we used to have still exists under the layer of fluff, crumbs and lego). Anyway I found some drafts of posts that I had obviously started and then forgotten about. Including this one from (gulp) April 2008. So with apologies to the lovely Isabelle:

Isabelle had a good little meme on her blog not that long ago, and I have seen it elsewhere too. She invited anyone who wanted to have a go to, well, have a go, and since I am not backward at coming forward, I thought I would. The meme involves trying to write your memoirs in 6 words. However, I am doing it with a difference, because I am awkward like that. So, instead of my life, I am turning you over to First Born and Second Born who are going to regale you with their memoirs (at ages 10 and 8 respectively). So far, the suggestions I have had are as follows:

My life is cool. The end. (SB)

I like Dr Who. The end. (FB) (Sensing a pattern here.....)

I do not like meat pie. (SB) (Really???)

I like my pet cat Schieffer. (SB)

I hate shopping a lot. Bye (SB) (Not sure he has really grasped the concept here.....)

We are going upstairs now, Mum (combination of both)

Harrumph. So much for their moment of bloggy stardom. I think I am going to go for:

My children drive me mad. Thankfully.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Another in the long-running series...

I present for your delectation number I-don't-know-what in the long running series "I really don't understand how boys' minds work".

Scene: Kitchen, 7.40am. Harassed mother running slightly late due to continuous questions such as "Would you like to hear me recite my poem now?" interfering with her well-practised and streamlined preparation of two packed lunches and two break-time snacks.

Characters: Aforementioned mother and one eight-year old boy, played by SB.

SB: (*wails from the hall*) Mu-u-u-um!

Me: What? (from the kitchen, rather more impatiently than I would like to admit to)

SB: My felt tip pens fell out of the packet and I've picked them up but there's one missing and I can't find it!!!!

Me: Have you looked for it? (Not such a daft question, as anyone who has lived with a male of any age will know)

SB: YES!!!!! I really can't find it Mum!

Me: (*turning round and looking towards the hall. Where it is dark. Very dark - this is Scotland in January. It won't be daylight until closer to 9am*) Are you.........looking for it in the dark?

SB: ..........

Me: If you are searching for a pen, would it not be helpful to, I don't know, turn the light on?

SB: (*switches light on. Short pause.*) Found it!!!!!!!

I wish I was making this up.

Saturday, 17 January 2009


I have noticed that I have not posted since Tuesday. My new job has a pretty strict internet policy and since I am also only part-time, I don't tend to do what I used to do, ie blog in the mornings before work got going or in my lunch hour. I must carve out a new niche somewhere in my hectic schedule for some online rambling.

Anyway, I was meandering through my Google Reader (I am too ashamed to tell you how many blogs are on there now. Take it from me, it's a lot.) and came across Three Minute Boy's post about how he is reading "Treasure Island" online, using an RSS feed. He also mentioned that this is not the first time he has read the book, and that he recently read "Kidnapped" too. That got me thinking (and commenting, because why think and not share?): I know the plots of both of those books and I have read other works by RLS, but I have never actually read those two books. I am slightly embarassed by that. It feels a bit like confessing you have never listened to a Beatles tune or seen "The Wizard of Oz".

The more I thought about it though, the more I realised that there are LOADS of books that I feel like I ought to have read/would love to read but have not got around to yet, and which people who know me (as an avid reader) might be surprised/shocked/horrified to find I had never read. And this despite the fact that I seem to find the time to read entertaining tosh like Tess Gerritsen no problem.

Am I alone in this? Feeling like there is some celestial reading list somewhere that I ought to be crossing off before I can read whatever rubbish takes my fancy on Amazon? And guilty when I don't? I have a copy of Catch 22 sitting in the pile beside my bed which I got hold of because I had never read it and felt I should. It looks at me reproachfully every time I go rummaging through the teetering piles looking for a new book and leave with Chris Brookmyre's new one instead. That book is making me feel guilty. (I may have to stick it in a cupboard so I don't have to face it.)

The really, really daft thing about feeling guilty about my reading material is that I often tell my kids that I will buy them pretty much any book they want (within reason) and that I don't mind what they are reading as long as they read (again within reason - Playboy and Jeffrey Archer, for example are off-limits. But you can bet I'd let them read the former before the latter!)

Anyway, rather than wallowing in feelings of inferiority because I am not reading Plato this afternoon, I thought I'd turn this into a game. So all of you lot, 'fess up. What books/plays are you willing to confess to never having read that you think other people will judge you for? I'll start. I have never read:
  • Hamlet (in fact most Shakespeare - I've read Macbeth, Romeo & Juliet and The Tempest and that's it. My excuse is that drama is best seen performed, not read on the page!)
  • Any poetry that I was not forced to read at school, other than Roger McGough and Jacques Prevert (when I went through my poncy French phase). And that includes, to my shame, Robert Burns.
  • The Great Gatsby -always meant to, never have.
  • Sir Walter Scott, other than Ivanhoe.
  • Anything by James Joyce - I tried once, but just couldn't do it.
There are many, many, MANY more but I will stop there. Confess in the comments and I promise I will own up if I haven't read it either!

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Hello! (Waves madly like a loon!)

How nice of you all to pop up and say hi - nothing nicer than to log in and find some comments from people who, for reasons which are still unfathomable to me, are reading my rubbish on the net. One futher teeny tiny request - any of you who commented who also have blogs? Leave the URL in the comments so I can come and poke around in your stuff say hello. Thank you!

Monday, 12 January 2009

Delurking Day!

I know I'm coming in slightly late in the day with this but I've only just managed to wrestle the laptop away from the boys who were playing deeply unsuitable computer games on it. (Sample overheard comment: "What happens if you use the chainsaw?!!!!")

Anyway, this is an internet tradition, one day a year when, even if you never comment usually, you crawl out of the shadows to say hi. You don't need to say anything witty, just hello and ideally where in the world you are situated, just so I know you are out there. Go on, make me happy.

Friday, 9 January 2009


That's not a sad sigh or an exasperated sigh or a resigned sigh or a depressed sigh (the medication is great) but a relaxed one. Husband is out eating pizza, drinking beer and talking about guitars with his teenage protege. The children have been great fun this evening and have now gone to bed with no complaints but many hugs and giggles. The house is quiet. The television is off (I rarely watch TV in the living room if I am in alone). I am browsing blogs (go and read Mary's response to the 5 question interview I sent her - beats mine into a cocked hat) and drinking tea. Lots of tea.

I started my new job on Monday of this week. The fact I am feeling this chilled out and relaxed on Friday should give a clear indication of how it has gone so far. In a word - well. It is very very weird to go from working in a small private practice to working in a big public body-type place, but weird in a good way. The level of organisation is impressive, if a little difficult to get used to.

As an example, when I was a partner in private practice, we partners effectively were the business. The buck stopped with us in all sorts of ways. We bought the coffee and teabags. We opened and distributed the mail. If you came into the office early, you might have found the senior partner up a ladder changing a lightbulb with me, the junior partner, holding the ladder and passing him the tools (odd light fitting, don't ask). You see, if a member of staff did this and fell off the ladder, they'd sue. If either the senior partner or I fell off, we couldn't. So we often did the routine maintenance tasks because there just wasn't anyone else to do them. And that included fiddling with the thermostat for the prehistoric central heating system, a task which involved using a small screwdriver to remove the cover and trying not to touch most of the inside otherwise you got a small-ish electric shock. The thermostat was right outside my office door and for years I would hear the aforementioned senior partner fiddling with it and then using Very Bad Words when he touched the wrong bit by mistake.

By comparison, the new job is in an organisation big enough to have departments for everything. I was working at my desk today and concluded that my computer monitor is too high. It is sitting on top of the CPU and I noticed other people in the room had their monitors on their desks with the CPUs tucked underneath on the floor. My deskmate opposite me confirmed I could get the CPU moved: I should phone the IT department and get someone to come and do it for me. I almost laughed - in my last job I disconnected, moved and re-connected computer equipment myself. All the time. Surely it would be okay to move one bit onto the floor by myself? But no. She assured me the IT department would be cross if I touched their baby. I got the impression that they are really not keen on us using the PCs at all, but since we have to use them to work, the IT guys grudgingly allow us to touch them. So I need to phone a specialist on Monday morning to move one piece of computer equipment 36 inches to the south.

The whole week has been sort of like that: enjoyable culture shock. I have had induction training in lots of areas, some of it crucial and useful like how to use the time recording system and how to actually get into the monumentally complex case management system, some of it less so. On Wednesday I had a 40 minute induction session on how to use the phone. No, really, I did. You can ask me anything now, I am an expert. To be fair, the actual phones are quite groovy and can look up people's names and numbers for you and do all sorts of swish conference call type stuff but as no-one is going to want to phone me in my new job (I no longer deal with the public! Hallelujah!) I will probably be able to forget more or less everything I learned. Except the extension number for the IT department. I get the feeling that will be important.

I also had training from the departmental fire officer, who looked absolutely mortified as he advised me and the other woman who started recently, that he had to give us an induction tour. Which consisted of him taking us round the building and pointing out fire exits (aka the doors to the outside world marked with huge "Fire Exit" signs) and fire extinguishers (aka those big red things hanging from the walls all around the building and marked "fire extinguisher"). In fact, we all share the same office and as we left the room for our tour, the other woman pointed to the huge door located 4 feet to our left. "I'm guessing that's the fire exit we should be heading for if the alarm goes off?" she said. It was.

I am also finding it a bit difficult to get used to leaving at 1pm and not apologising for the fact. I feel like I am dogging school, like someone is going to catch me with my coat on at 1.05pm and demand to know where the hell I think I'm going at this time. I am leaving work in Edinburgh in January IN DAYLIGHT! That is just freaky. But fun. It means I get to do fun stuff like meet the wonderful, multi-talented and only occasionally abusive Kal for coffee. In the National Trust Tea Room. We dropped the average age in there by about 30 years just by walking in the door. Kal's street cred was dropping off the scale by the time we left. Bwa-ha-ha! Next time it will be Jenners' Cafe for a Horlicks. Trauma Queen may not survive the trauma!

So, in summary, good first week, haven't actually done any work yet but looking forward to being allowed to do so. People I work with all seem nice, there is a bacon butty run in the morning if you want to participate, and I am loving LOVING picking the boys up from school. Especially the 10 minutes or so before they arrive and I get to sit in the car quietly reading a book. I really love that bit.

Now, a quick confession before I go. I was supposed to be running the Great Winter Run tomorrow but frankly I have done no training, and am staggeringly unprepared both physically and mentally (my brain has managed to convince my body that I Am Not A Runner again, despite having been able to run for over an hour at a time in May of last year). I would have taken a deep breath and donned the unbecoming lycra because Second Born was due to run in the junior version and I would have made the effort for him. However, SB arrived home today with a knee swathed in dressing and micropore tape. He had taken another tumble on the astroturf in yet another grudge match against P4J and gouged a chunk out of his right leg. It is not serious, just a deep-ish surface cut but it is right on his knee and he is limping and I suspect will have a spectacular bruise in the morning to boot. In other words, he can't run tomorrow and if he can't run, then my last incentive to do so myself has gone. So we are both wimping out.

But I have promised the former work colleague I was supposed to run with that I will get back in training and run the Great Edinburgh Run with her. For I am an idiot.

Monday, 5 January 2009

Not a meme but an interview sort of thing

Urban Pedestrian had a cool thing on her blog a couple of days ago. Not that that is unusual, she has cool things on her blog all the time but this was a cool interactive thing and since the interactivity of the bloggy world is the bit I like best, it took me no time at all to decide to join in. Well, truth be told, it took me a wee while because it has rules and stuff and I had to make sure I understood how this thing worked before launching in and making an eejit of myself. Anyway, I think I have grasped the concept. I am pretty sure. So here goes.

Basically anyone who wants to play can e-mail me and ask to join in and the idea is that I will then e-mail them 5 questions to answer. Hopefully reasonably interesting questions because "What is your favourite colour?" is not going to make for fascinating blog posts. They then answer the questions in a post on their blog and invite more people to join in. Sounds like fun, huh? And hopefully since it will be people you sort of know that you are setting questions for, they can be more interesting and "tailored" making for better posts.

So Urban Pedestrian sent me these:

  1. Do you thing Scottish men are unique in any way? Better/worse than males in other of other nationalities? This is a tricky one for me because the Scottish male I know best, ie the Husband, is not typical of the species. He does not like sport. No, not even football. That is enough to mark him as unusual in a country where football is the closest thing we have to a state religion. I'm not sure how unique Scottish men are - they do tend to have a pretty good sense of humour, I would say, as being described as "a good laugh" is one of the highest accolades you can award someone. They are also willing to get dressed up in kilts at the drop of a hat. Which is good. They tend to like a good drink too, which is perhaps less good.
  2. What secret do you harbour that you've never told a living soul? I once saw Kajagoogoo in concert. No, wait, I think I may have told you lot that already. That's the problem with blogging, you tend to be free and easy with your innermost disgusting thoughts . I think I am fundamentally too uninteresting to have deep secrets. The best I can come up with is when I was a teenager I was making mince pies for Christmas and I dropped the pastry on the floor of the kitchen, right next to the dog's basket. I could have made a fresh batch but that would have taken time and I wasn't planning to eat any of the pies anyway so I just brushed it off and carried on. No-one died, so I assume I got away with it. That's not too bad though, right?
  3. What's the most revolting thing you've ever been obligated to eat? I have usually managed to avoid having to eat anything particularly disgusting (see the mince pies above) even in Saudi Arabia where there can be sheep's eyeballs and lambs testicles to negotiate. The only thing I can remember having to force myself to eat was, oddly enough a summer pudding - you know that dessert made with bread and soft fruits like raspeberries? Normally this would be really nice but we were at a dinner party and our hostess had not put any sugar in with the fruit. The very tart fruit. Verging on sour fruit. This might have been manageable had she served lashings of double cream to take the edge off but instead she announced that she hoped no-one minded being healthy as there was unsweetened natural yogurt to go with. I swear it was so tart my face puckered and just about turned inside out with each mouthful. There was a whole table full of people who all looked like they were delivering the punchline in that "wide mouthed frog" joke.
  4. If you could live anywhere in the world, but it had to be forever, where would you choose? Easy peasy rhis one. Canada. More specifically, Nova Scotia. More specifically the Annapolis Valley. Port Williams/Wolfville would be ideal. I could probably identify the street if pushed. We are so fond of Canada that we have Magic 104 radio from Moncton, NB programmed into our internet radio just so we can hear the accents!
  5. A mysterious stranger gives you one week's salary to spend. The proviso is you have to spend it on yourself; you can't pay bills with it; you can't save or invest it and you can't buy anything practical. What would you spend it on? The quick answer to this is books. You can never have too many books. At a push I might spend some of it on a weekend away on my own in a nice hotel with a pool and a gym and a very good restaurant so that I could read my books in comfort. That would be complete luxury. I would of course feel very guilty about it, but I think I could cope.
This will be more fun if you lot do it, as you are more fascinating than I am. Go on, join in.

Here are the rules if you want to participate in 5 Questions.
  1. Send me an email saying: ”Interview Me” to
  2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
  3. You can then answer the questions on your blog.
  4. You should also post these rules along with an offer to interview anyone else who emails you wanting to be interviewed.
  5. Anyone who asks to be interviewed should be sent 5 questions to answer on their blog. It would be nice if the questions were individualized for each blogger.

Friday, 2 January 2009

Because who doesn't enjoy a good giggle?

I am posting this purely and simply because I just watched a programme about Morecambe and Wise and while I enjoyed the clips they showed, they didn't include my favourite. So here it is, and it doesn't mater how many times I watch this, I still giggle.


Thursday, 1 January 2009

The Santa Secret

I was reading April's post recently about what you tell your children about Santa. There have been posts dotted about elsewhere on the Interweb over the Christmas period discussing the same issue. Is perpetuating the whole "Santa" deal lying to your children or is it just preserving the magic of Christmas for your offspring?

I fully understand why people may not wish to go down the full-blown "Santa and his elves make the toys and then he comes down the chimney/in the back door where there is no chimney/through the gas vent if you live in a flat and leaves the pressies under the tree before downing a half pint of milk and a digestive and leaving the way he arrived". After all, if you have had to scrimp and save and spend hours and hours of your time acquiring the precise gifts your beloved cherubs desire and then wrapping them in the dead of night so you won't be caught, it really sticks in the throat to have Santa take all the credit. I mean, hands up all parents who have had their children turn to them after opening the mountain of gifts from "Santa" on Christmas morning and ask "So what did you get me then?" Yup, thought so.

Well, I can say, with some pride that Husband and I solved this little dilemma. Or to be more accurate, Husband's mother did, back when he was a boy, and now I am passing this important information on to you. (Especially you, Lynsey!)

The key is to develop a very close and personal relationship with the fairies. The fairies are crucial. The fairies work hand in hand with Santa and with hard-working parents. This is how it works: parents and other family members (the ones who know their children best), organise the presents in advance of Christmas. The fairies visit at a predetermined time (no, Second Born, you may not watch, these fairies are invisible to anyone under 18) and take the presents away to Santa. Santa then wraps them and delivers them on Christmas morning in the accepted fashion.

This arrangement has a number of benefits:
  1. The children know the gifts come from you and your family and therefore appreciate the effort put in (in theory at least)
  2. You don't risk that horrible moment on Christmas Eve when your child decides he no longer wants the latest gizmo he has been going on and on and on about for the last three months and wants something completely different instead. After all, the fairies have to finalise their arrangements at least a couple of weeks in advance so no last minute Christmas List alterations are possible. Sorry!
  3. You can still take advantage of the supreme bribery opportunities provided by the whole "Santa only brings presents to good boys" thing without having to actually threaten to withhold presents yourself. After all, that would be mean whereas Santa is just doing his job.
So there you go - all the mystery and mythology of Christmas with none few of the drawbacks! You're welcome.