Sunday, 30 August 2009

I think I am being had

You may recall that Second Born did a lovely swan dive onto a set of concrete steps earlier this summer, earning him a bloody nose and a trip to the Sick Kids for a bit of head-gluing-back-together. That was weeks ago. (He was fine.) He enjoyed the whole "don't get it wet for a week" thing that allowed him to get out of showers for a few days, the wound healed and we all waited for the glue, which hardens into a sort of pseudo-scab (great name for a band that) to disintegrate.

It had not disintegrated by the time they went off to Granny and Grandad's a couple of weeks ago. That trip was right before they were due back at school and Granny was primed: if the glue came out, she was to take both boys to the barbers and get them haircuts. They haven't had a haircut for months and both are looking a bit shaggy. Like late-era Beatles.

The glue did not come out. Both boys went back to school in their lovely, smart (excruciatingly expensive) new school blazers. And shaggy hairdos (as FB refuses to get his hair cut if his brother isn't going too, and frankly I don't have the strength to deal with the logic of that particular argument.)

Anyway, 10 days have passed. SB is still claiming that the glue cannot be moved. I have examined his head (I had to get him in a half-nelson first) and the wound is completely healed. The glue is stuck in his hair but not in any way to his head. He is, I think, having me on. As long as he has the glue, he keeps his long hair.

As I type he is in the shower having been told that either the glue comes out tonight by his own hand or I will be attacking him with a fine-toothed comb and a complete disregard for his personal comfort. What's the betting he will be clean, fragrant and glue-free next time I see him?

In one other significant development, this weekend Husband and I caved and bought a freeview box for the spare bedroom so the boys can watch TV up there. In my defence, they still don't have (and will not be getting any time soon) TV in their bedroom. I don't believe in that and they can whine at me and call me unfair all they like. I don't care. I know that boys, TV in bedrooms and getting up early for school do not mix. So there.

But honestly, the TV in the spare bedroom was a desparate act of self-defence. If Husband and I had to spend one more afternoon in the living room while SB watched non-stop reruns of "Top Gear", blood would have been shed. There is only so much Jeremy Clarkson a reasonable person can be expected to take. So it's the lesser of two evils really, isn't it?

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Another pointless way to pass the time

First Born and Second Born were chatting about their days at school the other evening when FB announced that he had a great game he had played with his friends that we had to try. It's hilarious, he promised.

Now, we know from lo-o-o-o-o-o-ng experience that what is just drop-dead hilarious to an eleven year old boy sort of loses something in the translation for adults. So we were not expecting much, but this time he was right. It's a silly game, it veers quickly into toilet humour territory, but it is funny. And easy to learn. Ready?

The rules of the game are: someone asks you a series of questions to which you can only give one answer. The same answer every time. And you are not allowed to laugh, giggle or even smirk as you do so. If you laugh, you lose. Sounds easy, until you learn that the answer you have to give is "manky sausage".

(A quick aside: is the word "manky" used outside Scotland? It is generally used here to mean dirty, filthy, stinky, mouldy, clarty. You get the idea.)

Anyway, the joy of the game lies in the questions. Be as inventive as you like. Some ideas to get you started (remember, you HAVE to answer "manky sausage"):

What are your trousers made of?

What is your favourite flavour of ice cream?

What do you wash your hair with?

What kind of after shave do you wear?

What is in this photo?

You get the idea. Kept us amused for ages. But then, as we have established beyond doubt, the Loth household is very easily amused.

Friday, 21 August 2009

A-a-a-a-a-and relax.

It is a great comfort to me, knowing that you are all out there. My people, gritting your teeth at superfluous apostrophes and throwing your collective hands up in horror at dangling participles. I could kiss the lot of you, so I could!

Anyway, having recovered from the agony inflicted by the headline writer of a supposed national newspaper (which I will from now on always call The Scot'sman - thanks McBobo!), I bring you a timewaster for the weekend. I think I have mentioned in the past that we have spent some hilariously idle hours in the Loth family with the Google translation engine. Much amusement can be gained from taking a well know phrase or song lyric in English, translating it a few times into other languages (German, Japanese and Korean are always good) and then back into English. The results can be devastating. My younger son has at times laughed so hard he nearly vomited.

This was obviously a popular enough pastime that someone has kindly done the hard work and produced Whoever that was, I love him. Or her. Or them. The site is a simple work of genius: you type in an English phrase, the site translates it into Japanese. And back to English. And Japanese again. And it keeps going until it reaches equilibrium, ie until the two phrases in English and Japanese match. Or until the machine gets bored (which it usually does if you give it, say, the entire lyrics of "American Pie" to play with.)

This is, I warn you, a time waster of epic proportions. Once you start, you will keep coming up with stuff to stick in there. Would you like some examples? Some of our favourites:

"Thy finest gifts in store, on her be pleased to pour" (one of the lines from the UK national anthem in case you don't recognise it, asking God to give the Queen lots of good stuff)


"The best gift shop that you fill with her"


"Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?"


"He assumed I knew auld lost?"

and our piece de resistance

"A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush"


Two birds with one hand, the value of President Bush"

I recommend having a wee play on it but can't take any responsibility if you are still there two hours later, scouring the internet for Pink Floyd lyrics to put in and giggling to yourself. You have been warned. (And if you get any particularly good results, come back and post them in a comment, won't you?)

Thursday, 20 August 2009

The Grammar Fascist stirs

This headline is from one of our national newspapers. I think I might cry.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Oh yeah, blogging.....

I got a row from Isabelle, for it appears I have not blogged for a while. And I am very biddable and Isabelle is a teacher and I always obey authority figures, so I scrambled ambled to my laptop and here I am. Hi! How are you all?

I see I last blogged on 8th August and I am desparately trying to remember what I have been doing since then. The fact that it is all a bit of a blur might go some way to explaining why I haven't had time to blog about it. So this will be a bit disjointed. Sorry. Off we go then. Things wot I have done recently:
  • Met Isabelle and her lovely daughters and friend to go and see Adelaide from Adelaide at the Fringe. Isabelle has blogged about it already so I won't say much other than that, predictably, Isabelle and I (aka The Neurotically Punctual Sisters) competed to see who would turn up earliest for our agreed rendezvous time (she won but I was a close second). After the show, we went in search of coffee and, being near the High Street, ended up in an establishment which I am afraid to say was called "The Rabbie Burns Cafe". It looked like someone had ordered the "Traditional Olde Worlde Scottish Cafe" kit from QVC and set up business. It was covered in tartan, little brass knick-knacks and the kind of fake antique plaster that makes it look like someone has gone mad with a trowel and some leftover cheesecake. We were undoubtedly the most authentically Scottish things in the place. (I wouldn't mind confirmation that I didn't actually dream all this, Isabelle!) The latte was nice though as was the chat. I think we almost managed to persuade Isabelle's non-bloggy friend that blogging is not a symptom of some sort of latent personality defect (discuss!) and I look forward to reading her first post sometime soon.
  • I took the children to the cinema to eat excruciatingly over-priced popcorn and watch "G-Force" in 3D. A film about computer generated guinea pigs who are trained FBI Special Agents. It was exactly as good as it sounds.
  • My niece and nephew came up from the Lake District to stay last weekend. Four children under 12 for the day was an interesting experience. We went swimming to try to wear them out and then in the evening we filmed them doing improvised sketches involving several James Bonds, aliens, sharks and Indiana Jones. With sound effects. I suspect we could put the resulting video out as a show on the Fringe and get away with it. My 6 year old niece's impression of a man-eating shark was particularly impressive.
  • The boys went off for the last three days to Camp Granny and Grandad, allowing husband and I to hit the town, see shows and go clubbing work late both nights and then fall into bed with no functioning brain cells left. We are party animals, we are.
  • I have spent a lot of time recently individually name-labelling pens and pencils and sharpeners and Pritt sticks and rulers and scissors. I hate back-to-school. And don't get me started on sewing name tapes onto EVERYTHING including socks. I have sewn about three labels each on the boys' blazers which are new and given the amount they cost I am damned if they are going missing.
  • This morning, on the way to work in the car, I was cut up on Queensferry Street in the West End. By a guy on a unicycle. Edinburgh in the Festival. Got to love it.
So, that's what I've been doing. What have you been up to?

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Unoriginal and unapologetic

At the risk of winning some sort of Unoriginal Blog Post of the Year award, I was bored this evening so I wandered over to Statcounter. This lovely wee widget (sounds like a term of endearment doesn't it?) lets you see who has been coming to see you, where they came from and, most entertainingly, what search engine terms brought them to your blog. I couldn't resist sharing some with you, together with my initial reactions to them.

"Paranoia at the gym" - is perfectly normal, I assure you. At least I hope it is.

"Basil plant smells like cat wee" - well, it shouldn't. Especially if you don't actually have a cat.

The cost of an unclean gym" - a damn sight less than a clean one, I should hope.

What is a royal of a telephonist/receptionist while working in an office" - Well, it's a.................what?

redneck mommy war and peace" - well I know some of her posts go on a bit, but that's a bit of an exaggeration

"dyspraxia and cutting fingernails" - go together like hiccups and shaving

chastised husband" - I strongly suspect this is not the blog you are looking for.

cat spewing digestion" - Yup, I have mornings like that too

"urp kant" - I have no idea. Unless that's the sound that cat spewing digestion makes.

And finally

"siggi bennett" - Seriously? How the hell did that search bring you here? I mean I know who Mr Bennett is (although I doubt many of my readers do) but I don't recall ever having mentioned him. So this kind of spooks me. Also, I am fairly certain that anyone googling Siggi Bennett does not want to reach my blog. I can only be a disappointment to them.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Another pastime in the Loth household

We have just put the boys down to sleep. Husband is still upstairs. He is playing excerpts from the soundtrack of "Halloween" to them. On a swanee whistle. Does anyone else do this?

Thought not.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Mundane Update

It's been a mildly interesting week thus far. The sun came out today, prompting stunned and slightly mouldy residents of Edinburgh to shed their waterproof skins and wear short sleeves out of doors. Unusual, but very enjoyable.

I realised that the Festival is starting because when I left my city centre office yesterday, a gaggle of about a dozen very corpse-y zombies were sitting over the road, chatting and having a smoke. It is a measure of how much weirdness goes on in Edinburgh in August that I didn't look twice. I probably wouldn't look twice if they started recreating the Thriller video on Walker Street (they would probably want money, after all).

I am happy that my work no longer requires me to have to go to court, as the High Street, where the Supreme Court is located, is also Festival Fringe central and thus crammed, CRAMMED with people advertising their shows. And jugglers. Gritting your teeth for a solid month is hard.

Second Born got the week off to a good start by falling over at Holiday Club. A fall would not, in itself, have been noteworthy (his legs are always covered in bruises from minor mishaps) except for the set of concrete steps and iron railings that his head met on the way down. Blood issued forth from said head (scalp wounds, as every parent knows, bleed in a terrifyingly profuse fashion). Then his nose joined in and the Club called me to come and take him to hospital.

The poor staff were in a bit of a state. I can't imagine how stomach-churning it is to watch someone else's child, a child for whom you are responsible, head-butt a set of concrete steps at speed. And I imagine, this being Edinburgh, and specifically Morningside, that they might have worried I was one of "those" parents. The kind that immediately starts looking for someone to blame. Despite being a solicitor, I am not one of those parents so simply thanked them profusely for mopping SB up as far as possible and headed off to the Sick Kids.

SB was fine. I knew he was fine because he was awake, alert, orientated and slightly cross with me for asking him lots of questions. Totally normal. He got the full work-up in hospital anyway, mainly because there were a couple of 5th year medical students in A&E that day and the doctor was enjoying putting them through their paces ("So, that's the 3rd and 4th cranial nerves, now what tests do we do to check the 5th cranial nerve?") SB quite enjoyed being asked to make lots of silly faces and stick his tongue out at actual doctors. I was glad I am no longer a student and even when I was we were never plonked in front of a client with a partner looking over our shoulder going "Okay, so that's his conveyancing dealt with, now what sort of will should he be making?"

SB got the small cut on his head glued by a nice nurse and was quite pleased to discover he can't get the glue wet so can't have a shower for about 3 or 4 days. In fact, I suspect he almost thinks the whole injury was worth it just for the "get out of shower free" pass.

FB on the other hand, has no such pass. The boys were at a fruit farm yesterday with the Club and returned bearing strawberries and covered in mud. (SB announced in the car on the way home "I had better empty my socks before I go in the house". That is never a sentence you want to hear.) FB had been wearing shorts so his actual legs, rather than his clothes, were muddy. I ordered a shower before bedtime (he was overdue anyway) and he reluctantly agreed.

This morning I looked at him and thought his hair didn't look......showered. I asked him if he had washed his hair last night.


Why not?

Because only my legs were dirty.

A lecture on the fact that a shower involves washing everything, not just the bits that have lumps of strawberry patch adhering to them, followed. He was not convinced and will, I am sure, complain loudly when sent tonight for his second "shower" in two days.

Monday, 3 August 2009


At this precise moment, my husband and two boys are sitting on the other couch. They have translated the lyrics to "Don't Pay the Ferryman" by Chris de Burgh into German, then Korean and back into English and they are now singing the (very odd and twisted) results along to the song on Youtube.

Never let it be said we don't make our own entertainment round here.

I wish I could work the video camera.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Another in the series "Is it just me?"

Is it just me or have the weather forecast and the news swapped places?

Once upon a time, you turned on the news and it told you what had happened today. Or, if it was especially exciting, what was happening RIGHT NOW! After your update on what had happened, the weather forecast came on and it told you what the weather was going to be like either later today (for a morning broadcast) or tomorrow (for an evening one).

Recently however, these two seem to have switched. Maybe there is some sort of exchange programme between the BBC news department and the Met Office. Whatever the cause, I don't like the result.

Nowadays, if you turn on the news you are likely to be told what is going to be happening. You will get, for example, a preview of what is likely to be in the Chancellor's budget statement tomorrow. Or what the Chairman of the Bank of England is expected to say about the economy AND what the Prime Minister is likely to say in response. Tomorrow. Or, even worse, you will get something that barely qualifies as a news programme and is in fact a thinly-disguised trailer for some documentary programme the Beeb is showing later. In other words, advertising. You can always spot these so-called "news stories": they will be followed by the words "Viewers in (insert region here) can see more on that story at 10.30 tonight". That's not news, that's CHEATING.

The news-that-isn't will then be followed by the weather. And what do the weather forecasters tell you these days? They tell you what the weather is doing NOW. With a spiffy computerised sequence swooping around the country showing you what the weather is like in all the places you aren't. (It need hardly be said that their information about what your current weather is doing is almost invariably wrong.) No-one seems to have told the Met Office that you can tell what the weather is doing now by the simple expedient of looking out of the window. I just looked on the BBC weather website and its front page showed me a map of the weather over Britain. At 6pm on Sunday. As I type, it is just after 9pm on Sunday. If anyone can tell me what sort of person desparately needs to know what the weather was like 3 hours ago, I would be grateful.

Even more excitingly, they sometimes show photographs of weather sent in by viewers. In other words, "Here is what the weather looked like 12 hours ago out of some complete stranger's living room window". Again, cheating.

I want to go back to when the news was read by serious men in suits, sitting (yes SITTING, not lounging around leaning on the furniture) behind proper desks and speaking RP english. And then I want the weather presented by a bloke in an ill-advised shirt and tie combination who tells you whether it is going to rain tomorrow and does so by sticking glorified fridge magnets in the shape of little raindrops onto a grey map of Britain. (And incidentally, that map of Britain is upright, not slanted away from the viewer so that is almost impossible to tell whether the big blob of sleet is supposed to be on Edinburgh or Inverness).

Phew. I feel better after that. (I also feel about 90, but that is becoming more and more common these days!)