Friday, 13 July 2012

En Vacances - Semaine 1

Bonjour! Je suis en vacances et j'aime ca. Ici, c'est 29C et le soliel est comme un ami perdu. Vrai, j'etais desole en maison avec pluie, pluie. pluie.

Anyway, it has been a fantastic week since I last wrote. Friday evening saw Siggy finally finishing work for three weeks (although he does seem to still be doing a fair bit from here) and we went to see Tom Jones in concert. He may not move the way he used to, but that voice is still uncannily perfect. I am pleased to say that I did not, unlike some of the other women embarrass myself either by throwing knickers onto the stage (there were plenty who did) or by falling over drunk on the way out (again, there were plenty who did). I was dignity personified and I said so to Siggy as we left. I think it was just when he was putting the two small wine bottles I had smuggled in into the bin. I also pointed out that all those women who were so drunk were a disgrace - they really should do as I do and put in lots and lots of practice to avoid such drunkenness in future.    

The weekend was fairly quiet with just a few last minutes items to be picked up and packed. I don't do any of the packing as that is Siggy's domain and he wouldn't even allow me to be in the house whilst he packs, on the basis that we always fall out when I come up with an odd item or two that may have been forgotten. So I went shopping instead and got some more last minute items to take home after he had packed. He's so easy to wind up.

Whilst out shopping, however, I was involved directly in a horrific domestic. I had to go to Rutherglen as I was getting my nails done there and went into Savers to get sun tan lotion and the like. Whilst I was in the queue, the couple behind me were going at it hammer and tongs - effing and blinding at each other and clearly both more than a little drunk. I thought at first they were maybe still under the influence from Tom Jones the night before, but then remembered that there were a lot of Orange Walks on, so most likely they had been at it since early morning. Anyway, as I stood in the queue trying to ignore the bedlam behind me, the volume and venom just kept rising from both of them. Interestingly, most of the argument seemed to focus on him "making a total arse a hissel' " and her "being a daftie that wis making everyone look at them". Of course, you then have to look, don't you?

Not a great idea, as the shrieking then intensified with added "What the f**k you lookin' at?" "Snooty Cow" and "Nae wunner when you're being such a dick". I looked away again but was aware of the screaming match now involving a bit of pushing and jostling with the trolley. Just as I went to put my basket up on the checkout, he decided it would be a good idea to push the trolley forward and knock me over with it - sun tan lotions and creams spilled everywhere as I tumbled to the floor and both of them ran out, still yelling at each other and blaming each other "Noo look whit ye've done daftie"

The staff were very good and sympathetic and helped me get everything gathered together and put through the checkout. They still used the opportunity to flog me another tube of moisturiser for 99p though. I admit I am an easy target for sales at the best of times, but that really was a bit much.

Once out in the street, the pair were continuing to rail at each other and I joined several others in standing back to watch the spectacle before taking my purchases back to the car and heading off to get my nails done. On the way back, I have to say I was absolutely delighted to see the pair of them being driven away in the back of a police car, still seemingly arguing at high volume.

When I got back, Siggy had only actually packed one case - mine - as a result of his parents visiting, so I had to go out again. Not before he had told me - and friends via BBM that he had packed 10 of the pairs of shoes for me that I had left out and that he assumed the other two were for travelling. He was right, but he seemed to be suggesting that twelve pairs of shoes was too much for a 17 night break. Honestly, for someone supposedly intelligent he can be really thick at times.

My second shopping trip of the day was pretty successful as I had taken Donald's phone to the Forge to get it unlocked. His own phone was going to cost almost £100 to repair and he had managed to get a friends old Blackberry to use in stead (much to his disgust as he has always prided himself on being the only one in the house who doesn't hvae a Blackberry and thus doesn't answer to the demands of BBM. Anyway, it was locked so I went with Donald to get in unlocked and we had to listen to the lifestory of the guy who was trying to unlock it, all about his Turkish girlfriend and such like. After about half an hour of this, and with all the other shops and market stalls closed for the day, it became apparent that he was not going to be able to unlock it, but he was clearly wanting the sale. It was also fairly obvious that I wasn't going to move until I had an unlocked phone for Donald on holiday, so eventually he sold us a new Blackberry for only £5 more than he was going to charge me to unlock the old, scratched and dented one. Result!

OK, Donald was mortified that we had to be escorted out of the building by security via a fire escape as the whole place was locked up and empty by then, but a bargain is a bargain.  

Somehow, by the time I came back in, all the cases were packed and the car was ready to go, so Sunday was a bit of a non-event with very little last minute rushing around apart from taking Gordon to and from work, dropping off Dappy and birthday presents at Siggy's parents - I always hate that bit (dropping the dog, not the presents), giving keys to Phoebe and Bobby as Bobby will look in at the house whilst he's out and about in the area anyway, getting new car chargers because the ones from Amazon didn’t arrive in time, downloading copies of books onto the Kindle and my ipad from a dodgy disk, dropping the fish off at Peter's girlfriends, arranging for the papers to be sorted out with the lady along the street who is taking over whilst we're away and going to the shops (again) for supplies of sweets and energy drinks for Siggy for the journey. So after that quiet day, it was nearly 7pm before Siggy could go for a sleep as we were driving through the night. I say "we", but as the worlds worst passenger, Siggy does all the driving. I wouldn’t mind doing the UK bit but have to be honest and say that the continental driving does scare me silly so I wouldn't even attempt it. I did it once on a frantic drive to an Italian hospital when Scott was two and had split his head open and don't fancy trying it again in a hurry. Siggy was holding Scott’s head and trying to stop it bleeding, so he really couldnt drive too. I actually didn’t get the car out of the campsite but bringing it down to the front gates was scary enough!

So we set off at just after 10pm and by 10.15 were still sitting at the end of the driveway arguing about a missing 25euros from the envelope which the boys holiday spending money from gran was in. As usual, some had taken theirs and put in wallets and others hadn't but somehow it was short. A heated discussion ensued, as is often the case when we are going off on holiday and Siggy was refusing to move until the 25euros was found. Various trips in and out of the house still didn't find the cash and it was variously blamed on each of the boys in turn, mostly by Siggy I should add. Eventually, Siggy found the money lying on the floor at the side of our bed. He apologised (kind of) and said it must have fallen out when he "condensed" the electricals (straighteners, tongs, ipad) and other stuff that I had in an extra overnight bag into one of the other cases. I asked him what he did with our money, which was also in the bag.

"What money?" he asked

"The half of our spending money that you gave me because you always like to keep it in two different places, "just in case"" I replied, only a little sarcastically.

"It wasn't "half" it was "most". 800euros to be exact."

"Whatever. Where did you put it?"

"I didn't put it anywhere. I gave it to you" he snapped back.

"Well I put it in the extra overnight that you've "condensed", so where is it now?"

"Oh," was all he could say as he stomped back out of the car and went back into the house yet again. He returned a minute or two later with the money, which had been just where I left it in the zip pocket of the overnight bag that he had emptied and put back under the bed, spilling out the original 25 euros from the boys envelope in the process. "That was lucky," he said as he got back in.

Lucky? It was almost a total disaster and I had already told him that the money was in the bag when we got in the car. He just didn’t bother to mention that the bag wasn't in the car as well!

So we were off to a good start but the rest of the journey went relatively hitch free and we arrived in Paris by lunchtime on Monday and spent the afternoon in and around our overnight hotel near Disneyland. To be honest, we've probably done Disneyland to death over the years, stopping off in one direction or the other as part of our holiday and the only reason we chose the hotel there this time was because everywhere else in Paris would have needed at least two rooms and been more expensive. This did have the added bonus of a pool, so we could unwind a bit before taking on the last 500 miles of the journey the following day.

We went down to the pool and found that they wanted 2euros for a towel and you weren't allowed to use the hotel room towels either, so I trudged back up to the room to get "our own"  towels and came back to find Siggy waiting outside the pool for me. "Why didn't you just go ahead without me?" I asked.

"Because you'll never work out how to work the lockers," he replied. I was disgusted that he could have such a low opinion of my ability to work a simple locker, and told him so.

As it turned out, however, the lockers were a bit complicated. There was a central keypad for all the lockers and the instructions were in French, so really I would havs struggled. You had to put your clothes in a locker then type in the number of the locker at the keypad. It then asked you to make up a four-digit combination and, when accepted, you had to close the locker within  30 seconds or something. Siggy did this and quickly closed the locker door, turning to go to the pool.

"Oh, " I said, "I've still got the room key" as I realised I had been standing with the swipe card in my hand whilst he had been fiddling with the locker codes and stuff.

A heavy sigh and a look were the only reply I got as he started typing on the keypad again. However, it didn't work the first time which Siggy put down to the original 30 seconds not having elapsed, so he said we would wait and try again. Whilst he again started to put in the code, I hit on the great idea of just sliding the swiped card in under the locker door, which would save all the opening and re-closing. Siggy turned around just in time to see me let go of the swipe card and we both heard it drop - straight into the locker below our, which was locked. At the same time, the door of our locker opened as the code was accepted this time.

Another look and a quick unsuccessful attempt to open the other locker followed and we had to admit defeat and go to the desk where the girl on duty was clearly not amused - she had already tutted several times in that annoying French way when I arrived with towels that were clearly from our room wrapped inside one of our own -at being asked to come and rescue our key. Honestly, the lack of service with a smile is quite shocking at times.

We had our swim and got changed without further incident - well, that's if you don't count the boys mucking about on the slides like 5 year olds, but it was great to see them all so happy in the middle of our marathon journey (I refuse to change it to a Snickers journey, no matter what marketing think says). We then went on the shuttle bus to the Disney Village for dinner, which saw us end up in Planet Hollywood and generally had an enjoyable evening, incedibly seeing us all in bed by 10pm for a full ten hours sleep.

Next morning, we set off again for the last leg of the trip at about 11am. It should have been at about 1045, but there was a bit of an incident when Siggy was putting the cases back in the car. Donald had taken a yoghurt out as part of his teenage "graze constantly" diet as it had been nearly half an hour since breakfast. Whilst Siggy was putting the overnight bags back in, Donald had left his yoghurt on his seat. Unfortunately, as Siggy pushed the cases back in, a bag fell forward and the yoghurt - quite literally - exploded all over the inside of the car. Everything was covered in a way that really was surprising from such a small pot of yoghurt. Seats, windows, the steering wheel, dashboard, windscreen, even the roof took a bit of a hit. Fifteen minutes of frantic scrubbing with baby wipes removed the stains but the car did smell of strawberries for most of the remainder of the journey. Better that than soured yoghurt, but still not ideal.

We arrived in Portiragnes just after 7pm, which was just as the shops were about to shut, so we got the essential supplies of milk, beer and wine and got unpacked before heading off for a takeaway pizza, which turned into an eat-in pizza as the prices were the same in the restaurant anyway. By the time we got to the restaurant, about 8.30pm, the boys had already met some friends who were on the same site as them a couple of years ago, so they really settled in quickly which is great.

Unfortunately, this also meant that they went to the onsite disco on the second night here and were hassled all the way back at 1am by camp security telling them to keep it quiet, apparently "Bouche! Bouche!" was all they kept saying and they were making more noise than the boys anyway. I was sitting outside waiting for them to come in and didn’t hear a thing, so security did seem to be a wee bit over the top. We were told to expect a visit the following day for them to tell us that they had spoken to the boys, but it never materialised. So, last night we decided, after a wine or two ourselves, to go down to the disco and walk home with the boys at 1am just to make sure that security didn’t get heavy-handed again. The disco doesn’t finish until 2am anyway so I think that security were maybe just bored. Anyway, Siggy, Scott and I went down and I had a few more wines. Siggy took Scott home and I decided that I should go and explain to the security staff myself. Once I had told them that i didn’t want any more hassle from them and we've have told the boys to keep the noise down, I left them looking a little embarrassed. Or maybe bemused, it was hard to tell and they didn’t really say much.

So I was then left walking up the road myself. My navigation skills are not greta in the daytime and sober, so inevitably, I got lost and had to call Gordon to come and collect me.

"Where are you?" he said.

"If I knew that I wouldn't be lost would I?" I replied. Stupid boy. 

"Well what can you see?" he asked, rather too sensibly for a teenager to my mind.

"Mobile homes, of course, I'm on a campsite" I said, stating the obvious. Why do men always ask such daft questions? It's like that favourite of Siggy's "Do you actually need it?" whenever I'm shopping.

"You'll need to find something better than that or I'll never find you." Gordon said, sounding a bit irritated. 

"Oh, right," I said. I looked around and realised that the swimming pool was quite close along one of the rows. "Ah, I can see the pool,"  I said, "I know my way from there."

"No, just go to the pool and wait there. I'll come and meet you". Gordon really is very untrusting, but I suppose he did at least come and get me. Mind you, I didn’t see him until the last second as I was looking for him coming from completely the other direction, thinking that's where our mobile home was. Maybe he was right not to trust me..   

That apart, we've done pretty much nothing except laze around and read. My ipad doesnt react well to the heat around the pool - or may be it's just the heat from Mr Gray (on book 2 at present) - and I've had to restart the ipad several times, which is a bit annoying, but otherwise all is good. Siggy managed to contain his excitement until yesterday when he could bear it no longer and we had to do the big supermarket shop which he strangely enjoys when we're over here. We also had to buy trunks for all the boys as swim shorts aren't allowed in the pool. This is often what the sites ay over here, but this year they are actually enforcing it and Scott had to leave the pool on Wednesday after he tried to go down the slide with swimshorts on. Stupid rules. The Boys were all adamant that they weren’t going to wear “gay speedos” before we came but they soon changed their tune when they realised that it was that or no going in the pool for the duration.

We went to the Carrefour a few miles away and got supplies for what should be at least a week. Siggy likes the fact that you have to pay for carrier bags here and therefore no-one ever has carrier bags. Everything just gets loaded into the boot and unloaded at home. Due to the space for parking the car being quite tight, Siggy unloaded everything and passed it up to Donald and I for us to take into the house. He was, for some strange reason, speechless when he came in and found that everything was in the house but nothing in cupboards. I hate that bit so I left it to him as I know he enjoys it so much. Selfless or what?    

Anyway, I have to get back to the sun and Mr Gray.

Au revoir pour maintenant.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Nearly Aud Revoir......

First and foremost, I could not start this weeks post without mentioning a very moving and sad day last Friday. AG, the mother of one of our dear friends, John, passed away and the funeral was a humbling experience. Siggy was asked to help carry the coffin in and was genuinely honoured to do so and more than a little spooked when John repeated his own sentiment that "it was the least he could do."  It was a humanist ceremony, and I have never been at one before. I don't know what any of you believe but recognise "each to their own" in that respect, and a service with no hymns did at first seem unusual. Then I listened to John saying his poignant final farewell to his mum and whether you believe she could see it or not, it would have made her proud. I had thought about this a lot during the week before and even more since.

Everyone should cherish what they have before it's gone. 

On the way out, Siggy and just walked in silence, reflecting on a lovely ceremony. Siggy was more moved than I realised because when I did comment to him on the way back to the car, he was actually speechless - not something that happens often.

Of course, he later claimed that the reason he was temporarily speechless was because I happened to mention, as we were passing the hearse, that it would be a good car for me if I wasn't married - I had noticed that the registration was AM 10 AMM and those were my maiden initials. I don't believe that though, because he did respond to that when we got back to our car - something about when I was in that car HE'D no longer be married. 

Funerals always bring out the blackest of humour in me and I have a terrible fear of breaking out into giggles, but so far have been fairly lucky in that regard. Perhaps that's why I've never followed up on my idea of becoming an undertaker - I really think I'd suit the black outfit with that nice purple trim.

So that made for a fairly quiet and reflective weekend. A quiet night in on Saturday with a Chinese meal at Pheobe and Bobby's as they had came back from their holiday and let's be honest, any excuse for a few drinks is a good one. It was also another part of our ongoing teenage babysitting programme. Scott is only 11 and therefore still needs a sitter, but as we have the three *TEMs in the house, we have now decided that sitters should be paid in board and lodging in future (I think Siggy would have quite liked some of our previous sitters to have had board and lodging, but that's another unpublishable story). Saturday saw Gordon take his turn and he managed admirably. Strange to see the reversal of roles starting to kick in and find HIM sleeping on the couch waiting for US!  We reckon if we adopt/foster/borrow another 10 children or so, and therefore have each of the TEMs babysitting for a straight 15 years each, they will just about have repaid us. 

So we kept the trial going and actually went out on Monday night as well - Blood Brothers at The Kings. My favourite ever, ever show with Marti Pellow as The Narrator (need I say more?) That was when the wheels came off. Siggy, in some weird pang of responsibility, has decided that we need to cut back on midweek nights out as "it's not right". Nonsense, he doesn't have a term-time contract, I do. He's Jealous. Simple. Twat.

That aside, though, I've had a really busy week. I've been running around chasing my tail all week trying to get ready for our holidays. oh, apart from Monday afternoon, when I went out with my friend Ruby for Afternoon Tea with cocktails. That was an odd experience and actually meant that Siggy was speechless for a second time. You see, he seems to think that just because I have lived in the same city for, lets say over 30 years, and just because the hotel I was meeting Ruby in was in the same street as HE worked in for five years, which happened to be one street down from where I had my Saturday job for about five years, too, that I should know where that is and not need Google maps printed off to find it. In fairness, asking him to print off the map wasn't what rendered him speechless, it was me asking him to print off the map and, when he asked me where I was going, responding "I don't know"   

Afternoon tea with cocktails,it must be said, does not include a lot of tea. Text or BBM me and I'll let you know where it is. Ruby and I did feel it would have been rude to turn down the offer of the remainder of the wine bottle as well. Term time contracts make for some really nice afternoons. Like the one later in the week with Fee, Jen and Jan. How I ever managed to fit in shopping for our holidays, I don't know.

Especially as I, like everyone else, have been a bit pre-occupied this week with a certain Mr. Grey. Writing's awful, but who cares?

So, a really quiet week to build up to our holidays. Siggy has spent almost every waking hour either trying to clear his desk for the holidays, booking our hotels on route or, lucky me, proving that he really doesn't need to borrow my book for tips when I'm finished with it. (he needs to borrow it, I just haven't told him yet.)

The on route hotels have been a nightmare this year. You see, every year we drive to the South of France or Italy  and every year we need to find a hotel to stay in en route because we have travel with the worlds worst passenger. Now, I know many of you are nodding sagely thinking "Yes, I have a child like that as well, just dope them up with Kalms (other herbal remedies are available) and you'll be fine)" but you couldn't be more wrong. Kalms don't work for our terrible passenger on account of the fact that he insists on driving the 1000 miles or so himself. OK, I will never, ever drive abroad, but there are lots of UK miles I could help with. Except we drive that section overnight and after my Manchester experience of last week, I'm not driving overnight under any circumstances. Over £700 that puncture cost in the end! We even considered flying briefly but Siggy views the drive as part of his "easing in " period. Like I said - Twat.  Who else do you know that needs preparation time to relax?

The pace of preparation is really hotting up as well - I'm starting to feel my usual nausea at the thought of leaving Dappy with the outlaws and Siggy has booked his and the boys holiday haircuts for later today. Mind you, he "helped tonight by tidying up my fringe for me as it wasn't quite straight and I was really struggling to see - anyone else noticed how hard it is to cut your fringe with both eyes closed? Mind you, as Siggy managed to cut my eyelid, he won't be "helping" again. He claims I moved, I know I didn't. So what if he was the one with his eyes open? Personally, I think he was  just being miserable and trying to save the cost of me getting my eyebrows done tomorrow,

A girls work really is never done.

Next weeks news will be from the South of France, but for now I need to go as I'm really, really busy now - the 2013 holidays have just been released and I'm busy again looking at options.

PS - Well done Andy Murray and good luck later today!

*Teenage Eating Machines (in case your reading this for the first time)    

Friday, 29 June 2012

Freaky Friday.....and the rest of the week too

Well, I am now officially on holiday, having finished up for the summer last Friday at the nursery. The last day of term is always a bit of a strange day of mixed - and fairly high - emotion. Since the education authority, in their wisdom, decided to only pay us in whole weeks, the last day has also always been on a Friday irrespective of when the schools are actually finishing up. This, however, was a genuinely Freaky Friday (loved that book, film was awful.)

We always have a wee  "graduation ceremony" for the children moving up to primary school and of course it is the end of term for all the children so there's a need to give out certificates and things too. This unfortunately means that I have to do the one thing in my job that I really am not very good at - speaking. 

OK, pick yourself back up off the floor and behave. I mean PUBLIC speaking. Speaking itself is something I am fairly well practiced at, some may even say I am quite proficient, accomplished or even over-qualified to just speak, but it's the public bit that I genuinely don't like doing all that much. I have taken my cues from Siggy for this, which is probably a mistake. he often has to make some public address or another, whether at work or in his various other roles, and for a Scout, he never, ever bothers to "Be Prepared." As a matter of fact, I remember some years ago heading down with him to a weekend training course he was leading in Manchester (not my favourite place at all now, but more of that later) and we stopped at a service station on the way down. This would have been at about 4pm or so and the course started with a Friday evening session at 6pm. After calmly finishing his coffee Siggy opened the boot when we got back to the car and I asked him what he was doing. "Oh, just checking what the course is this weekend." He then sat for all of five minutes looking over the course - which run for over two days - before pronouncing "Right, let's go" and putting away the notes. I don't think he looked at them again all weekend but apparently the course went really well!

I don't really have notes either for my annual half hour (ok, ten minutes) of horror, but I have to go over it again and again in  my mind before I can stand up in front of the assembled parents and tell them all how wonderful their children have been. It should be easy and it's always honest as every child has loads of good points to comment on. In my heart of hearts, after all, I know I could probably stand up and say "gibberish, garbage, nonsense, KATIE, blah, blah, blah" and the cameras would still flash and the mums and grannies would still cry beacuse there's only one word they would hear. I'll let you decide which one.

As I was practicing my words of wisdom in my head, our resident "psychic" gran, we'll call her Meg, came into the nursery and started to talk to me. At first, it was a bit off putting as I was listening to voices in my head - sorry - concentrating on my own inner monologue - until I realised that I was getting a bit of a free "reading".

"You really are right up here," Meg was saying and holding her hand a foot or so above her head.

No, it was definitely a hand, not a foot.

"Sorry, Meg," I replied a bit absent-mindedly, "I was miles away, just thinking about what a busy morning it is in here"

Undettered, Meg went on, "No, I wasn't meaning in here, Aud, I just mean in general. Those boys of yours really are OK, you shouldn't worry so much about them"

Now, I'm no believer, really, in all this kind of stuff, but that was me hooked. You see although - or perhaps because - we all know that Meg is a bit of a psychic and she has been with the group for a while as her eldest is just leaving us and her youngest just starting next session, neither I nor any of the other girls have spoken with her much about any family things, etc. As soon as she said I shouldn't be worrying about the boys, I had to know more. Why? Of course, I do worry about my boys a lot and how could any fake, charlatan, or shyster possibly know that without speaking in some depth to a forty-something mum with three TEM's (Teenage Eating Machines) and one wannabee TEM that she was worrying about her kids? Anyway, she went on telling lots of really, really accurate things about the boys and I have to say I was somewhat freaked out. She also told me - really freakily - that whatever I was doing with Siggy that night, I should have stuck to my original plan. My original plan was to stay in a hotel, but more of that later too.

So, Freaky Friday was well and truly underway and even if I say so myself, the Graduation went well. All the kids were happy and well-behaved, all the mums and grannies needed to re-apply their mascara and all the dads and grandads tried to look really bored and unaffected by it all, but there was definite moistness around their eyes, too. The staff and I also got some very nice gifts - the usual smelly stuff and bottles of wine - and I also got a really bracelet, Thanks, DJ!

So, the day had been going fairly well and when I got home I recounted all that Meg had told me to a cynical and fairly grumpy Siggy. I put the cynicism down to his genuine and long-held disbelief in all of that kind of stuff and his grumpiness I put down to the fact that I was on holiday and he still had two weeks to go.You'd think he would have been a bit cheerier, given that we were heading off to Manchester that night to use his Christmas pressie of tickets to see The Boss - Bruce Springsteen for those of you who live under a rock or think that Rod Stewart is the epitome of musical talent - in the Etihad Stadium. After weeks of really intense work preparing for the Day of Action the day before, though, Siggy was still really busy, ergo, really grumpy.

We got away very nearly on time though and mad it through some really horrendous weather to arrive, park up and walk into the stadium complex just after 7pm and just as "Badlands" was belting out as the opening number.

Now, I have to be totally honest and admit that I was not a huge fan of The Boss, but I am close to being converted. Anyone who can go on for three and three quarter hours, without once leaving the stage and still leave thousands wanting more after an amazing set of absolute classics, has to command some respect. Siggy was beside himself and was Dancing in the Dark with the best of them. He was near to tears himself when the entire stadium stood applauding in the middle of one of the later songs - Tenth Avenue Freeze Out - when the antire band and The Boss went silent to watch still photos of their late, great band member and all round Big Man, Clarence Clemens, fill the enormous screens. the outpouring of genuine emotion rivalled the scenes at my earlier speech and I was actually near to tears myself.

Of course, my heightened enjoyment may also have been down to my fantastic discovery. Around the stadium, to save you wandering too far from the space you had managed to find on the pitch, there were mobile bar people with refrigerated packs containing beers and ciders and - hugely importantly - glasses of wine. Yes, glasses. They may have been plastic glasses with a foil lid, but they were decent quality glasses and the wine was OK, too. I now have three at home, which I brought back in my poncho at the end. I was even a bit of a role model as there was woman in front of me who seen me drinking my wine from a glass and complimented on what a good idea it was. I had to explain to her that you could buy them in their and that it wasn't really my idea, I say role model, but thinking of it now, what kind of girl does she take me for? Did she think I was the kind of person who would take glasses of wine with me to an outdoor concert? Fair play to her I suppose. I am now.

I thought I had been well-behaved in only drinking three glasses of wine throughout the concert and as it turned out this was a very good decision.

You see, everything began to unravel as we were leaving the concert and this was when I remembered that my original plan had been to stay over in Manchester as part of Siggy's Christmas present, but he had typically moaned about the cost and using babysitting credits, etc., so we had decided we would just drive back up the same night, just like we had in 2007. that was with the kids, though, and while it was a disaster (Zenit won 2-0), it pales into insignificance now.

We had got back to the car and Siggy handed in the security ticket that I had been entrusted with by the nice lady on the way in  (£10 for parking, but the money went to school fund and it was manned by some nice PTA types). Siggy, trusting as ever, had taken it from me on the grounds I had not zip pockets and no handbag and I have to admit there was a tiny piece of me hoping he lost it. He didn't, but it might have been better if he had.

if he had lost it, we wouldn't have got out of the car park until later when the crowds would have thinned down a bit, but he hadn't lost it and we ever so slowly crawled through the surging crowds heading back towards the city centre. I was just BBMing freinds to let them know we had had a great time and that the ETA for home according to SatNav was 2:14am as a taxi came up in the opposite direction, Siggy guided the car into the towards the side of the road and that's when we heard it.



No, no-one had bombed a snake. Siggy had clipped a steel pipe left at the side of the road works in the street which couldn't be seen for the crowds.

He drove slowly on, knowing there was nowhere to stop and no point anyway as there was no way he could change the tire in such a big crowd and if he stopped, the small but significant queue of traffic behind would quickly become large and angry.

A puncture is never a good thing, but to get one amongst such a large crowd, most of whom think they're being really helpful by tapping on the windown and yell "You've got a flat, mate", is even worse.

Eventually, Siggy found a quieter area where he could pull over and survey the damage. He pulled into a bus stop as it happened and looked at the tyre. Now, he knew when we got the car that there was no spare, just one of those compression gun thinks that seals the tyre so you can get home. As the pipe had actually ripped into the side wall, though, there was nothing to be done and so it was obvious it would require a new tyre.

Siggy phoned the insurance, who pointed out that he didn't have breakdown cover included and he remembered at that point that he hadn't added that as the car had been brand new and therefore covered by warranty for recovery for a year when we got it just under a year ago. Unfortunately, we had no details at all of the warranty company and we werent even sure if there was a 24 hour number.

In hindsight, we should have know the details, but we didn't have them to hand, so we called home, explained to Twitter (TM) and my dad what had happened and asked them to check for any 24 hr tyre replacments in Manchester. They duly did this, as did Gordon who can be  really good with crises (must be all the practice), and texted us the numbers.

Not a single one answered and we faced up to the fact that we were going to have to find a hotel for the night. Which is when I remembered Meg's warning that I should have stuck with my original plan. I decided not to mention this to Siggy at that point as he was a bit hacked off at his own stupidity. Deservedly so.

We moved the car as SIggy decided we couldn't sit on in the bus stop and he asked a taxi driver where he could put the car that would be safe. The taxi driver suggested we use the railway station car park and so we parked up there and headed off looking for a hotel. By this time it was just about midnight and the pubs were emptying, so the streets were teeming with drunks and stag and hen nights (I know, I know, that's all the same thing basically) and this did not help Siggy's mood.

We tried three hotels before we had to accept that there weren't going to be any rooms. Anywhere. Also, I don't think Siggy could trust himself not to lamp the next doorman who helpfully told him "Bruce Springsteen was playing tonight, so all the hotels are full"

It was then that we saw some police standing nearby, just watching the crowd. We went over, explained our predicament and the WPC called through to her control room to ask if they had numbers for a 24hr tyre specialist. They, really helpfully, told her to google it on her iPhone! I was incredulous, but she just took out her phone and Googled away. honestly, what are the police coming to? How can they afford iPhones?

Whilst she was googling, the young PC was doing a good impression of an emergency plumber as he sucked in his breath and shook his head. As we walked away, having not surprisingly had any different numbers from those my dad and son had googled from some 200 miles away, I asked what the PC was on about.

"Bloody station car park! £7 I've paid for that" he ranted.

"What about the car park?" I asked.

"The cop was saying, he wouldn't leave his car in there in broad daylight and certainly wouldn't sit sleeping in it" he replied and we both sped up and headed back to the car.

Siggy manouvred very carefully down the streets looking for somewhere safer to park when he spied a bit more upmarket hotel with a well-lit car park.

"Think we'll just try and park up there" he said, but the hotel was on the side of dual carriageway and could we find the way in? Not a chance. Three kerb-crawling trips past later, Siggy took the decision that "No Entry" and "One Way" did not apply in what he now viewed as an emergency situation and so he swerved into the street that clearly led to the hotel. Of course, as you would expect, there had to be another car coming down the street who, as ever, blasted the horn and shook his head.

Siggy was out his seat like a shot and I had already decided that he was going to kill him. it was about 1245, though, and I really didn't care any more. Amazingly, he somehow composed himself and just half got out the car, pointed to tyre and made an apologetic gesture, waving his hand towards the car. The guy immediately understood, gave a thumbs up and waited for us to manouvre past him.

We still had to circle the hotel twice to find the entrance to the acr park, which was an imposing, solid set of elctronic gates. "Bugger, we won't be able to get in" said Siggy. Then we had a stroke of luck as the gates were obviously set to pen on the approach of a car and in we drove.

Another stroke of luck - there was one space left in the car park.

The luck had to end somewhere though- I mean, we'd been having so much luck it was beginning to feel really weird. We got out and walked back to the gates, only to find there was no way out without a code. There was an intercom button though, so we pressed that and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Siggy trudged back to car, got his phone out again and called the AA. He explained things and they helpfully allowed him to join on the spot. A bargain at £158 and the man would be with us by 1.50am, Then, we got out of the car and went back to the gates, from where Siggy called the hotel. He started with "You don't have any rooms do you?" and I waited for the reply. "Oh, right, worth a try. yes I was there too. Yes, he was fantastic, but we have a problem in that our car is now in your car park with a puncture. We are waiting for the AA to come but can't get out of ....oh, forget it"

The "Oh, forget it" was because, by sheer coincidence, someone else was coming into the car park and so we could nip out when the gates opened for him. This was really lucky as I, after three wines and building on my boot camp capabilities, was begining to eye the fence and had decided that ten feet was easy enough to climb.

We headed into the hotel, explained what had happened and asked if we could use their toilets The staff were very helpful and obliged. They weren't so helpful as to allow us to sit around and wait in the plush lobby, but you can't have everything. 

We went back to the car and waited again. the next time I looked at the clock it was 2.14am - the exact time we should have been home and I may have started to cry at that point. Partly because the AA hadn't turned up and partly because the three wines were really worked through now, my bladder was about to explode and I wasn't up to navigating past the gates and the hotel front desk again.

I have to admit it, and I am not proud of this, but it was then I realised that a brightly lit car park, whilst much safer for parking in, is also much less dignified for peeing in. Actually, come to think of it, I'm not sure of anywhere outdoors without either walls nor canvas surrounding you which has any degree of dignity when you're squatting behind your own car for a pee after two o'clock in the morning.

That indignity over, I got back in the car and Siggy was back on to the AA. he had been on to them when I had left the car and they actually hung up whilst trying to locate their driver. When he called back, he was greeted with the news that the driver wouldn't be with us until 3.30am.

"Better get him to call me when he's near then," said Siggy.

"Why?" the controller asked.

"Cause I'll be bloody sleeping as I'll have to drive up to Glasgow later" he yelled into the phone, and hung up.

We chatted for a while and I was brave enough to mention Meg warning again. SIggy was obviously really tired too because he just shrugged and said, "Yeah it's been really freaky tonight" and stared out the windscreen at the already lightening sky. Then he said something else that as really weird "You know, I sent a text as we were leaving the stadium to Marie (a female work colleague) and said the gig was fantastic and we'd just been twisting ans shouting" That was the last number and it really went down a storm , so the memory brought a smile to my face.

"She texted back straight away," he went on "And said, "that's spooky", it's playing on the jukebox here right now".  Freaky.  

Astonishingly, a local garage van did arrive and somehow found us as early as 3.45am, only 15 minutes late. The driver hopped jauntily from his cab, tyre wrench in hand and asked Siggy if he had the spare.

"No, there is no spare. If there was a spare, it would be on the car and I'd be in bed in Glasgow" Siggy said through gritted teeth. "I told the office that when I signed up"

"Oh, I'll have to call them" he said, much less jauntily, and got back in his cab. Two minutes later, he was back out, told Siggy "It's a recovery job now, someone will phone you," and left.

Brilliant. Some two and a half hours after we had told the AA that it would need a replacement tyre, they told us that it would need a replacement tyre. Thanks AA.

A recovery vehicle was then scheduled to be with us by 4.30am. This was good and bad as Siggy had still had no sleep, but by this stage we would take anything that could be seen as progress.

At 4.40am, the driver called to say he was 7 miles away and he eventually showed up at 4.50. 

I have to give this very nice man his due, he got things moving. He called control, asked them to check if they did Chevrolet warranty recoveries - which they did and he knew this as he had done one recently anyway - and before we knew it we were offered to either be taken home to Glasgow or to a garage for 8.30 to get a new tyre. We were also told that we could get the £158 back, which was very, very nice.

There then followed what seemed to be a lot of phone calls for 5am - the control were call Siggy to explain the options, the very nice man was phoning the control room (apparently he was due off shift so there was no way he was taking us back to Glasgow and that meant trying to find another very nice man), the control were phoning the other very nice man and our very nice man was phoning another local supplier that he thought opened at 5.30am! I have to say, this chink of light in an otherwise bleak night (albeit it had been daylight for well over an hour by then) was very welcome indeed. Before we knew, the car was on the back of the lorry and we were moving through the backstreets of Manchester, which was by now slowly coming to life for the day.

We passed the Etihad Stadium, now an unwelcome sight for more reasons than ever, despite the fantastic concert which seemed a dim and distant memory. We paased a 24 hour Asda, but noticed breakfast didn't start until 6am. Somehow, just about 5.20, we found ourselves in a real run down industrial estate in which there was an even more rundown tyre suppliers. This was a real, traditional looking workyard, right down the mangy cat patrolling it's territory and the wet and clearly mad cocker spanile bounding around looking for all the world as if would lick any intruder to death. Despite my love for cocker spaniles (since we got Dappy at any rate), I can't say I was well-disposed to playing with the mutt that morning and to be fair he gave up investigating the new visrtors pretty quickly.

For 5.30 am on a Saturday morning, with no sign of any other customers around, there seemed to be a lot of people working in the TYre place. The head man had a word with the very nice man and Siggy and disappeared behinn an enormouse Pisa-like tower of tyres to look for a spare for us.

One of the other workers, a friendly-looking man in his fifties, cam over to me.
"Oh dear, love, you look you've had a rough night."

"I have, thanks," I responded poabably a little too dully, but by now every part of me ached and I just wanted to sleep.

"Wanna brew?" he offered, miming a tea cup at the same time. I couldn't help thinking of Peter Kay, except this time it just wasn't as funny.

"No, thanks," I said, I think we're going to nip back to Asda for breakfast"

"Are you sure? Don't need to go back there - we've a room with a kettle, a telly and couch through there. There's even a shower if you want."

Now, I really don't think I've led a hugely sheltered life. Granted, I like my mod cons, luxuries, even, but I still think I can rough it a bit when required. I even used to go camping when I was in Venture Scouts and have recently considered doing so again, but only for a night or maybe two. How, the, do you get be 40-something and and now get to have a really worrying new experience. Honestly, I didn't know that flesh could actually crawl. I mean, I've felt a degree of abhorrence before, been turned off in many, many, ways (sorry, it's true Siggy), but I had never, ever actually felt my skin try to pull itself away from my body before to head for the "comfort" of the front of an AA recovery trucks.

"No, it's OK, thanks," I said just as Siggy appeared back.

"Wanna brew?" the oder man said to Siggy

"Yeah, that'd be nice" he said.

WHAT???? WHO IS THIS GUY? I was screaming in my head. Had Siggy gone blind and lost all sense of smell? Why in the name of God would he take a cup of anything in a place like this?

He turned to me "Apparently, he's got a spare and should have it fitted in 20 minutes. Then we'll be on our way, so no point in going back to Asda for breakfast."

Another new experience. My flesh re-conected to the rest of my body and suddenly, from nowhere, the tiredness and grumpiness melted away.

" Oh, go on then, " I said, "If we're only going to be twenty minutes"

And twenty minutes - maybe twenty-five - later, we were back on the road and only £30 lighter. The tyre was "very" part worn but it would get us back to Glasgow and that was all the mattered.

We made one quick stop at a Tesco on the way out for essential supplies - Red Bulls for Siggy as he still hadn't slept a wink and hair bands for me. A girl has to keep care of herself, after all.

Astonishingly, the journey home was really uneventful, though wet and including two further stops as Siggy was so tired (however, not so tired that he would succumb to being a passenger and I had after all, had three plastic glasses of wine 8 hours earlier and only about an hours sleep). We got back home aroun d 1015, some 8 hours later than expected but at least that was my Freaky Friday out of the way.

The rest of the weekend passed in a a bit of a sleepy haze and things sleepwise were'nt much better by Sunday night when SIggy went to bed just before midnight to get two hours before taking Peter up to the school at 2am to catch a bus to Alton Towers. This is part of "Activities Week" which, as far as I can see, is teacher-sponsored skiving for the pupils in the last week or so of term and Peter had been lucky enough to get one of the seats on the two buses for the most popular trip by far. After our experiences down the M6 on Friday, I did feel a little apprehensive, but just told myself I was being silly and should forget about it.

Instead, I decided to start on my own activities week and chose shopping as my activity. I am actually quite good at shopping and obviously my choices were really outstanding as Siggy was quite speechless on my first return. It could have been the fact that I showed the various garments whilts he was in his office on a phone call that contributed to his speechlessness, but I thought the best way to check was to see if his reaction remained consistent. Therefore, it was time for day 1, part 2 of my holidays. I headed bravely back out to some different shops.

When I came back in a few hours later, Siggy was again on the phone. Result! Except his reaction was slightly different this time and he finished his call too quickly and I had to actually ask what he thought of each outfit.

In the end, I got seven "Yes, that's lovely"'s, so I kept all of those.I also got three "maybes", so I kept all of those too. And then he had the cheek to say "No" to two outfits that I wasn't too sure of. So I'm only keeping one of those.

I'll show him the rest next week.   

I was out on Monday evening too, just for one my annual few sunbeds to get myself up from "pale to the point of see-through" to "one shade above standard foolscap paper" before we head off on holiday. I was probably only out for about twenty minutes, but when I came back in Siggy told me Peter had phoned. " They on theire way back then, " I asked.

"Kind of, " he said and I knew by the look on his face that this was not good news. He then did what he always does - spoke really quickly so I would get the good bits as well as the bad. "There's been a crash. Not the bus he's on - the other one. No-one is badly hurt but the bus driver of his coach drove away with no teachers on board." He pasued and could see I was about to speak, so he ploughed on quickly "Anyway, Peter called the teachers and they sent the police after the coach. They caught up with them at Sanback services and the drivers being questioned just now by the police." Another pause, I began to spe-"So now they're waiting to get another bus and they will be a bit late, probably about 2 in the morning rather than midnight. Peter's fine. I think he kind of took charge as he always does. Sit down - wanna brew?"

I skipped the coffee but did sit down and there followed several hours of calls between me, Peter (on one of the teachers phones) and my friend Joanne, whose son was also on the bus. She was even more frantic than I was and I think, perhaps beacuse she is a single parent and has young foster children too, she felt even more helpless. Siggy had offered to drive down and get them if needed, but eventually we got messages through that another bus was heading down for them and would bring them back up. That produced a fresh panic that the driver would be too tired, but we accepted it was the best way forward. Last text, 3.36am . Absolutely shattered again.

Siggy picked Peter and his pal up just after 8am and that, we thought, was the end of that.

It wasn't quite. That evening, beacuse we had clubcard vouchers to use and it was already booked, we went out for a quick meal in Cafe Rouge. Whilst we were there, it turned out that our friends Phoebe and Bobby, who were on holdiay in England, were also in a Cafe Rouge (different one, of course).

The usual BBM's and Facebook posts followed and I noticed a comment on the FB check-in which read " Does your Cafe Rouge also have a speccy, pretentious student sitting alone (obviously) reading a French paperback?"

I looked around and sure enough, just to my right was exactly that - a speccy, pretentious student sitting alone at the next table reading a french paperback! I alsmost pee'd myself with excitement, looked at the FB post again and drew a sharp intake of breather, looking up at Siggy, "you'll never belive...." I begand, but very quickly stopped myself.

The look on Siggy's face really told me all I needed to know, but I thought I'd try to cover it up anyway. A million thoughts ran through my head all at once "What an incredible coincidence","Who would believe that", "Why is Siggy looking at me like that", "Shit, who posted that again?", "Damn, it was Siggy.", "Wonder if he noticed me pee myself with excitement?", "Shit. He did", "Wonder if I can cover it up?"

No, I couldn't. So we both just dissolved into laughter and the pretentious French student looked over disapprovingly. Who cares, I needed the laugh.

Just then though, another friend posted on FB that the bus crash story was on the news, so we had to compose ourselves and call the grannies in case they saw it and panicked. They hadn't and didnt.

Anyway, we were home by 945 and all was fine again. Two days into my holidays and all the excitement, hopefully was over.

Oh, and I had another wine glass to add to my collection. Except this one was full size and made of glass. No-one noticed it on the train home and I'm sure they would grudge me. And neither would the pub it came from. Sorry.

The incredible thing was, I didnt even feel like drinking it on the train on the way home and so Siggy had to finish it off for me before we got off. Just as well, as the same bladder issue was beginning to become a problem and I really didnt relish the idea of squatting in the busehes in the local park. You'll be pleased to know I didn't have to.

Things can only get better?

Friday, 22 June 2012

Remember Summer Specials?

As I sit down, shivering and listening to the rain hammer down, I strangely find myself thinking about the old Summer Specials I used to read when I was a little girl. You may think that strange, but it is, of course, perfectly sensible and logical in my world.

You see, tonight is my last "school night" until August and after I get home from work tomorrow, I will be on holiday for a whole seven weeks. Not "holiday", holiday, but off work at least. I love having a term-time contract. 

When I was younger, I loved Jackie and Blue Jeans and especially loved the big summer special you used to get especially for the big drive up north for the holiday. In those days, it really was a big drive - 9 hours or so punctuated for my long-suffering parents with either me wanting to stop to throw up every half hour or so or my brother - more of whom later - wanting to stop for a pee at odd intervals but never at the same time as I was puking up at the side of the road. The big summer specials were meant to be the saviour of the journey, but what I have only realised in later life is that I can't actually read in a car without feeling sick, so that's that explained. I loved Jackie and Blue Jeans so much that I didn't even move on to Smash Hits when my friends did (or Melody maker and NME for my more adventurous best and oldest friend - more of whom also later) and really really got upset some years down the line when my dear mother bought me a copy of the Summer Special of some grown-up rubbish like Best or Bella and I finally had to accept that I wasn't really a young girl any more. I think I was about 32 at the time.

So why am I going on like this about "big" summer specials on a cold and rainy night? Simple, as it's been the end of term and really busy as usual, I have again had to hold off for two weeks in the one blog, thus this is effectively a big Summer Special. See, logic and sense reign supreme in my world.  I'll still do a weekly update through the summer, I promise. Therefore all you have just read was, at it's very heart, just a big bloody excuse for being lazy over the last few weeks.

So, plenty of news over the last few weeks.Most importantly, because I know you all need to know, I haven't found the drawing pin again and therefore am assuming it has completed it's journey unnoticed and without causing any damage. I have stopped being Gillian McKeith and checking for it and have put it all behind me. Pardon the pun. I do have a lingering worry about the next time I pass through airport security, but am trying not to think about it too much.

I have changed my diet, though, as I am planning ahead to the "holiday" holidays and have cut out midweek vino and chocolates. Well, mostly, at any rate. I really was finding it helped as I went to Boot Camp last week and did really, really well. By that I mean I got through the hour of hell and pain without throwing up, fainting or pulling anything. Siggy wasn't so fortunate last week. HE claims that he pulled a stomach muscle right at the start when his foot slipped on a setting up for press-ups and that is why he spent most of the hour holding his side and not managing most of the exercises. He then couldn't walk until Sunday - from Wednesday night for heaven's sake. What a woose. To be fair, he didn't start limping until Friday but by god did he make a meal of it. Unlike me this week. I wasn't feeling great and nearly didn't go, but I battled on and got through it without a word of complaint. And I still beat most of them in the sprints!

I had even been behaving quite well at work and karma seemed to be working it's way around for my good behaviour which meant I had resisted the urge to explode with an exorcist-like headspin. End of term can be like that and it hadn't helped that I had heard that part of our funding was being cut, had received a stupid anonymous complaint which meant we were inspected and I had had to call round a few future parents of the nursery to tell them they weren't going to get a place with us after all. Karma had rolled around by the complaint not being upheld and each of the parents being really kind and understanding. Funding was still cut, but two out of three ain't bad.

I had also got all the end of term reports on the children out and the councils ever-increasing bureaucracy taken care with more than a week to go, so I was rightly quite chuffed with myself.  So chuffed I took a night off to go and see Toni, who had been in quarantine for almost a week as her youngest had chickenpox. It had even stopped her going to the 5K we all ran the previous Sunday - another moan from Siggy.

We have different running styles. Siggy's is kind of a take it slow and easy style that gets him their in the end and he can keep going like that for ages. I prefer quick bursts of activity with rests in between - I was a sprinter after all - but Siggy cant do that. Once he's stopped, he cant get started again. He was therefore mega unhappy when he slowed down about 0.5 Km from the end to let me catch up so we could get over the line together (awww, I know) as I had taken another rest shortly before. It's not my fault that my natural instincts kicked in and I went off in a final flourish and finished ages before him!

Please note - the last paragraph was genuinely about the 5k. It was not a euphemism (although the analogy therein may be close to reality, if I'm honest).

On the Thursday, I even had time to take the night off from stupid bloody paperwork and had another night out at the cinema - a proper girly one with Toni and Phoebe. Not a girly chick flick, though, The Pact. Seriously scary and therefore should really have gone for the three handbag-size bottles of wine, but unfortunately I had to drive as Siggy, who was supposed to be at cubs and could therefore have run me there and back, had to work. Selfish sod.

Anyway, it was a good night even if none of the three of us are really that keen on scary movies. It was quite quiet when we arrived - sorry, until we arrived - and all of us kept saying, in a bit of a stage whisper, that we didn't really like scary movies. Oddly, most of the rest of the audience appeared to be mildly asthmatic, as we moved three different times before it started and every time we moved the people behind us seemed to have breathing problems, going by the huffs and puffs they were going through.

By the Friday, the house was on red alert for The Golden Wedding. My mum and dad were celebrating fifty glorious years of marriage and we were having a small do with just our family and my brothers family. Once I got over my 2am shock - I remembered suddenly that as we were all going away we would need to get Dappy watched overnight and bbm'd anyone I could think of to take her. Not the best idea at 2am, but it was only one I had at the time. Siggy got up the next morning, did what he calls "patient listening", then walked out of our bedroom, sat down at his desk, called the hotel and pronounced everything sorted as they took dogs. That was going to be my next idea, but I didn't like to spoil his little moment of glory.

For the record "patient" listening looks a lot like "switched off after the first three seconds because I've decided what my answer is already and I'm no longer" listening.

Anyway, we got sorted out in what has to have been some sort of record for us and arrived at the hotel only an hour later than planned and an incredible 15 minutes before the table was booked. We had to take both cars as we were leaving separately the next morning and when we got there there were two buses emptying out at the main reception. OMG - a school prom was arriving and Gordon, Peter and Donald were all doing pretty good impressions of those cartoon characters who instantly fall in love with their heat pounding out of their chest, eyes out on stalks and tongue lopping out to the floor . Well, maybe not the heart bit, but definitely eyes and tongue out. Siggy was the same, even if he does claim he was just shocked that there was actually that much fake tan available in the West of Scotland. I have to say I did think they looked more than a little ridiculous myself, but I didn't do quite as much inspecting of them as Siggy did, or Julian later.

Julian is what I have decided to call my brother. it was going to be Richard, as in Gere, but more for one of his earlier movies than the one I love where he's a hot millionaire picking up Julia Roberts (Siggy loves that one too, but not really for Richard). But then I thought sod it, we'll go the whole hog and just call him Julian. Just Google Richard Gere and Julian and I'm sure you'll see why.

Anyway, I love going out with Julian and his wife, Michelle. We have the kind of fantastic relationship that means we can not see each other for months and months, hardly even needing to talk on the phone or anything, but when we get together the chat and fun just flows. Of course, the wine also flowing tends to help. Siggy, Julian and the boys spent most of the early part of the night getting up and down from the table to keep tabs on the England game - all faithfully supporting whoever they were playing. I know it was Sweden, but they do all have a strict policy of supporting whoever plays against England, so it's easier to just remember it that way.

That's another thing - what is it with these Euros? So far, we have been supporting France, "because we're going there next month", Italy, "because we were there last summer", Germany, "because they'll probably win it", Spain, "because they will if Germany don't" and, eh, whoever is playing England. Whatever team they are supporting, it means night after night of football without any sign of anyone I've ever heard of. No wonder I drink. But not midweek.

Needless to say, the boys paying attention to the football meant that Michelle and I had a really good chat and even my mum switching into her Witter©™ mode couldn't dampen our chatter and nor could the copious amounts of wine. I think the tone was set when the gifts came out and ours were both vouchers from a well-known one of those voucher sites - I mentioned to Michelle there had been a few good offers recently including one for a pair of matching "adult" toys and I queried why you would need two. Michelle soon put me straight and explained "one might break." I was really pleased as I had been trying to work out where the second one went for over a week!

And so the night went on. Julian spent most of the night giving tips from the movie of his early life to Julian, whom he kept referring to as a man after his own heart. This worries me greatly. I should say here and now that Julian was what we used to call " a bit of a player". That all stopped the minute he met Michelle but the stories he could tell are just too much at times. We told him so several times when Siggy had to keep correcting the bits where he said "I must have been about 14 at the time" to "I must have been about 19 and a half at the time" in front of our 15 and 16 year olds. The biggest worry, though, was that there didnt seem to be a single play that Gordon didnt already know. And Gordon offered a few other ideas that even Julian hadn't considered!

We finished our meal and adjourned to the boys room as they had a family triple which had a nice sitting room bit. When we got there, we had a little champagne - as we could still walk and talk, it seemed a reasonable thing to do - and I noticed that both Julian and Gordon were missing. Siggy volunteered to go and look for them and it was then the penny dropped. Julian and Gordon were, of course, in the bar where, of course, there was the largest concentration of fake tan in the west of Scotland gathered for the evening. Gordon, I can understand. Julian, as so often over the years, I don't even try to understand.

Siggy "rescued" them, but only after being there for a while himself and, of course, getting in another round. Being dull and responsible, compared to the rest of us, Siggy took Scott back to our room as he had to get up early to take Gordon to work in the morning.

Michelle and I stayed on to finish our drinks and then headed to our own rooms. Sounds simple really, but not when our rooms were on a different floor and neither of us had paid much attention when we came in to what our room number was. After ten minutes or so of wandering giggling around the corridors, I eventually had to give in and BBMd Siggy, who replied that it was room 246.  As we still couldnt find it, he had to come out and find us to take me back to the room, perhaps just a little grumpily.

Next morning, though, he was really fine about and even said "don't worry, dear, it could happen to anyone and it's not like it was an easy, sequential number to remember or anything." Isn't he sweet sometimes?

Bugger. I've just done what you did and have read back up to see the number. Wait til I get a hold of the sarcastic git.

At any rate, we survived The Golden Wedding and the most important thing was that dad and Witter©™ had a great night reliving a lot of lovely memories with us all, whilst Siggy and I diverted one or two of Julian's stories involving what we got up to and what age we had gotten up to them at before the boys could work them out.

When I got back - having had my nails done in the spa first - I picked up Gordon at his work and went straight to the School fete Siggy, Peter and Scott were helping out at for the rugby club. It was really busy, even though it was cold and threatening to rain and I had to park a few streets away. When I got there, Siggy was outside at the front and Donald was showing off how pass and catch a rugby ball. Gordon joined them and immediately showed how not to pass and catch the ball, but he is really good coach and I know Siggy was pleased he could help out as he is great with the younger kids. I met Phoebe and chatted for a while about her holiday as she was going off on the Monday, then went in and had another chat with Toni, which was a mistake as Toni was the bingo caller and no-one in there is allowed to chat. God, some of these old biddies take that seriously, don't they? Toni - bright, bubbly, never-knew-she-had-a-volume-control Toni was barely recognisable as she called the number in muted monotones and only using the "proper" bingo rhymes for most of the numbers.

Getting cold and suspecting that I may be slightly hungover, and with only about half an hour left for the fete anyway, I told Siggy I was getting off home and I'd see him and the boys later and off I went to find my car.

Now, you have to remember here that when I got out of my car, I was in a wee bit of a rush, I had Gordon with me and I was parked about two streets away. Therefore, just like checking into a hotel the night before, I had no real need to be paying attention to things like landmarks or directions.

With ten minutes of the fete left, I trudged back into the school playground and told Siggy "I've lost the car." At least that's what I thought I had said, but clearly it came out as "I think the car must've been stolen, " as Siggy immediately looked really worried for all of about three seconds.

"What?" he said, slightly open-mouthed.

"I've lost the car" I repeated. This time he obviously heard properly, or perhaps heard what I should really have said, which was "I have no sense of direction, I'm a little hungover, Gordon was with me when I parked the car and I have absolutely no clue where the hell I parked it".

I know that's what he heard because, he just smiled, or maybe giggled ever so slightly and pointed to the street he has seen me walking down on my way in. It'll be somewhere over there," he said calmly, "That's the way you came in".

Now, it doesn't actually bother me that he might have giggled a bit. Or that he was right and I did find the car in that general direction. It doesn't even particularly bother me that I really don't have a great sense of direction. What really bothers me is that it only took him a few seconds - maximum - to dismiss the idea that the car was either stolen or impounded and to decide that I had just lost it again. Even worse than that was the fact the Gordon - and Peter and Donald and even 11-year old Scott - didn't even flinch or consider laughing. they're just too used to it I guess.

So, Sunday passed quietly, if you don't count Phoebe and Bobby coming round to borrow some audio books for their trips south the next day and them thereafter having to pack at 2 am because they had stayed a little longer than expected with us. I blame Siggy and Bobby as I had no intention of opening the third bottle of red, but they insisted. Anyway, I was almost in training for my holidays by then.

The start of this week has been relatively smooth too. I had one day out at a big council end-of-session meeting with no mishaps apart from the circling seagulls in the car park choosing to use Siggy's car for target practice. Honestly, he had only washed it on the Sunday (Fathers day, but he was  quite pleased at being able to walk again so had felt he should do something) and boy had the seagulls done a job on it. of course, the fact that the meeting was at one of the football stadiums in the city - and in Siggy's eyes completely the wrong one - was enough for the seagulls not to get the blame but, as far as he was concerned, it was a conspiracy plotted in the bowels of the stadium by "That wee ginger nyaff" of a manager.

The rest of the week has been spent on end-of-term treats for the children. Have you ever order McDonalds for 40 at 11am? You get less "Have a Nice Days" than normal when you do. And have you ever heard the way a magician can make common courtesy disappear when you tell him his booking was cancelled? Rude, silly man.

Today was the annual sob-fest that is the school awards ceremony. it was a bit funny this year as Siggy wasnt giving out the prizes for the first time in nine years as he was working and couldn't get away. Next year will be Scott - and therefore Siggy's - last year at primary, so I used it as a bit of a practice for the huge joy that will be. Remind me, though, not to take my dad and Witter©™  next year though. She Witter©™'s throughout, asking questions like "What's that prize for?" when the Headteacher has just spent five minutes explaining what the bloody prize is for or "Is that his teacher? She's awful young" when it's blindingly obvious that she is his teacher (and she does look young, but I and the other mums try not to admit that)  and various other remarks at high volume just when I'm trying to get all emotional. He just switches off his hearing aid, I'm sure of it!

Anyway, this morning will see the Nursery party, another sobfest but officially the start of my holidays. Can't wait and I have already been filling the diary with lunches with all my term-time working pals, much to Siggy's chagrin, which is an added bonus.

I have already started on the lunch round with an evening out with Harriet, my oldest and best friend and bridesmaid from nearly twenty years ago - did I mention it's my twentieth anniversary in August? Oh, all right, it's Siggy's too. Anyway. Harriet is the only one who can really remember the days of Jackie and Blue Jeans, even if she did abandon them for NME in her punk/art school phase. Now though, she has reinforced all the respect and love I have had for her over the years. After we had our meal, Siggy dropped into the pub on his way back from picking Scott up at Scouts and she chose that point in the conversation to mention that she has ordered some hand made shoes by getting a friend to Tweet a celeb and find out where she got her shoes! She didn't tell him the price, but she has now planted the seed in Siggy's head that hand made shoes are a reality and not just for outrageous celebs. Oh we don't go back all these years without having our own unwritten rules for twisting husbands around our fingers.

So good to nearly be on holiday. I might even go out and buy some Summer Specials.

Friday, 8 June 2012

I'm almost living on a movie set!

What a short week it's been. Seems like hardly any time has passed since I was last writing this up, but, as usual, so much has happened in such a short space of time.

The week started oddly, partly because of the bank holiday and partly because I changed my diet, but only very slightly. Having had such a busy weekend last weekend, I realised on Monday that I hadn't got around to turning the calendar over to June - we have a calendar for longer-term planning to support the whiteboard - so I did, taking it off the wall and quickly looking at what birthdays, etc there are this month. The drawing pin had came out of the wall as I took the calendar down and as I picked it up I noticed that the "pin" bit was twisted, so I tried to straighten it. I didn't do much of a job and only succeeded in flattening it down even more. Not to worry, there are more in the low cupboard beneath the whiteboard.

Should have worried really. If I had, I might not have held the broken pin in my mouth as I bent down. Had I worried, I might not have sucked in a breath as I was standing back up and the pin might not have shot down my throat.

Then I worried. I went through to Siggy's office (he was working as usual even though he shouldn't have been as it was a bank holiday and he was meant to be off). "I've done something really stupid, " I said.

I really should be concerned that Siggy's reaction to this was, frankly, hardly a reaction at all. "Oh, yeah," he replied, not even looking away from the computer screen.

"No," I said, " I mean REALLY stupid". Perhaps I should also be worried that I so easily accepted his lack of reaction as an indication that, yes, I do do stupid things quite often. It did at least get a reaction, of sorts. Siggy turned away from screen, looked me up and down and said and just raised an eyebrow.

"I've swallowed a drawing pin!" I blurted out , beginning to rub my throat with one hand and my stomach with the other.

"A whole drawing pin?" Siggy asked. What the kind of question is that? I mean, it's hardly as I was going to eat it in small portions, nibbling away until I suddenly found I'd eaten a whole one and then felt guilty like you do when you've reached the last square on one of those big bars of Galaxy. No, wait a minute, I don't ever feel guilty when I do that. More like the surprise you have when you realise the whole bottle of wine has, actually don't do that anyway. Some of you might, so hopefully you get the idea.

SIggy did look concerned and offered to run me to A&E and get it x-rayed and questioned whether I might need a stomach pump. I could feel myself beginning to blanche at the thought. Then beginning to heave. "Oh, yes, that might help, bring it back up then it might do some damage on the way back up as well" Siggy said.

I realised that made sense and tried to to settle down a gain. Then Siggy suggested they might have some magnets at the hospital and they could safely guide it back up that way. It had taken me a while, but I then realised he had been grinning from ear to ear throughout. I flounced, in my best possible flounce, out of the room. What do you have to do to get some sympathy around?

As I left, I could hear him shout after me "it's lucky we're not flying to go on holiday this year, you'd never get throughs ecurity with a whole drawing pin in you" Git.

Anyway, I have been watching for any developments all week and thus far feel no ill-effects, but equally haven't seen any reappearance yet. I feel a bit like the doctor on You Are What You Eat, but you don't need to know about that.

Tuesday saw us having a lazy day and watching the highlights of the Jubilee concert on TV. In summary, Madness were brilliant, Elton John was awful and Prince Charles made a very nice speech. 

Tuesday night though, seen us make an excellent, if somewhat selfish decision for once. The twins were off to the cinema with the Explorers and as we realised that we were going to have to go home and come back up 2 hours later, Siggy noticed that "The Angels Share" was on at almost identical times, so we told the twins they were babysitiing Scott by taking him into Men In Black 3 (PG) with them whilst we would go to The Angels Share, which is a 15.  I made the necessary arrangements, getting two-for-one offers from Morrisons on bags of Revels and Minstrels so the boys wouldn't be asking for the hugely over-priced pick and mix and, of course, picking up two handbag sized bottles of rose wine. Some cinemas have the foresight and eye for profit to treat you like adults and serve wine from a wee cart at the start, as we found out some time ago and it does add to the experience. As this cinema doesn't though, you have to plan ahead and it's their own fault that they're losing potential profits. Juts for info., though, anything over about an hour and a half is probably more of a three-glass job, but it probably clinks a bit much.

The Angels Share is, however, absolutely laugh out loud fantastic. It is pure Glasgow humour and bits of it might not travel well, but I have not enjoyed a movie as much for ages and am seriously thinking of going back again (with three glass-sized bottles). Anyone who want to go and needs a partner, give me a shout. Most fantastic of all was the second from last scene which was filmed about 100 yards from our house, so I now feel like I'm living in film set. Even the fact that the "driving into the distance" shot is actually heading into a dead end didn't matter to me, although Mr. "I even criticise adverts for continuity" Siggy had to comment on it.

Honestly. It's hilarious, go see it.

That apart, the Twins are now in senior school, so got new ties which the school dedicated a morning to teaching them how to tie, Donald also gets a new tie as the school suddenly cottoned to having a middle school tie as another fundraiser and Scott now very much views himself as a big P7. The P7's are still at school, but as the football season is over, he now regards himself as a P7 because he will be next time he plays.

They grow up so fast, why don't they move away quicker?