Monday, September 26, 2011

Musings on Flash - RIP

Having a caged animal, in this case, a gekko, living in the house with me has never really sat comfortably. Even though I did console myself that if he were wandering free in the jungle, a larger animal would probably have stood on him or gobbled him whole long ago.

Perhaps Flash had lived a long life before he came to live with us (my thirteen year old didn't enquire his age when he bought Flash three months ago with birthday money) and had come to his natural end.

Perhaps the routine my son upheld, as best as he could, was not enough:
*Soil sieved daily
*Tape worms purchased and fed manually every couple days to Flash
*Water changed daily
*Soil purchased and changed weekly
*Flash walked every couple of days
*Light simulating daylight turned on and off morning and night.

We are observing a period of mourning.

As for me - I'm tempted to think that being caged for life was a worse option, that maybe Flash has chosen the better route.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Downton Abbey

For those of us so impressed with ITV's , period drama Downton Abbey that we bought the box set just because we missed the last episode in the first series, the news of the second series' commencement tonight is welcome.

There were many reasons why Julian Fellowes' drama (the first series, anyway) hooked so many.

Despite class divide, servants' stories were as compelling as employers' and were given equal air time.

All human foibles were present, showing that despite the early 1900's setting, we humans never change.

Greed, jealousy, sibling rivalry, sexual desire, ambivalent sexuality, unrequited love, political ambition and secret pasts -to name but a few.

Scathing (and revealing) one-liners from the Dowager Grantham Maggie Smith "What on earth is a weekend?" she enquires in amazement, when a working class character explains that he isn't available until the weekend.

Oceans of vindictiveness from embittered lady's maid O'Brien (played brilliantly by Siobhan Finneran).

Buckets of will-they-or-won't-they sexual tension between Brendan Coyle and Joanne Frogget

Add to the mix, sumptuous Downton itself, costumes to die for, rolling hills and serene filming minus frantic editting or squealing phones. and you know what I will be watching for the next seven weeks.

Any more fans out there?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Idle Parent

It's that time again when tennis, football and dancing timetables dominate and dictate the domestic routine. (I know, I know. It's great they're taking part and all that.)

But whither the taxi driver, who several times weekly finds herself in a frazzled state battling through traffic, against the clock, to ensure safe delivery of the participants?

Parenting books, to which I've been partial over the years, have only ever extolled the wonder of activities/hobbies.

My aversion to the tyranny extra-curricular activities exert over me has never been lessened by any handy tips. Parenting books they may well be, but they've never shown me (the parent) ANY understanding or empathy of the cold sweat I break into when it comes to standing on a match sideline. (Sorry kids, if you're reading this)

That is, until this book came along.

Okay, I had to, by times, stop myself from hurdling the book against the wall, so irritated did editor of Idler magazine and father of three, Tom Hodgkinson, make me. With the back up of tons of money and a huge farm, Hodgkinson is well equipped to sit around playing the mandolin while his kids frolic outside in the rolling hills of Devon.

Yet,as with all worthy but imperfect advice, you can pick the bits you like. The Idle Parent is the ONLY parenting guide I've virtuously devoured from start to finish, without dipping in and out, as I've done with others. Also, I frequently take it off the shelf for a re-glance at Hodgkinson's trove of hilarious and common sense insights into child rearing.

With a list of chapters that include titles such as: "Bring back Child Labour" and "Ban Telly, Embrace Freedom" my favourite has to be: "End all Activities, Be Wild."

In this chapter, Hodgkinson declares:
"Activities are the scourge of modern childhood....from the enclosure of the school we enclose them in the more adult organized activities...all in the service of making them into competitive entities....Saturday mornings are for lying around doing's a tip: don't let them get anywhere near the football will find that your weekends are completely ruined by having to drive them to matches all over the place...try not to fill children's days. Let them live...too much activity will tend to make them dependent on outside authorities for the structure of their daily lives."

Okay, so I'm not going to "End all activities."

And, I bet Hodgkinson's kids will be playing football or tennis, despite what he writes.

But that chapter sure cheered me up no end.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Electric Picnic 2011

Despite the pessimistic weather forecast, and the constipated, heavy skies, rain mostly stayed away (during the days anyway) at Electric Picnic 2011

Even blue sky made an occasional appearance.

Some of us didn't venture to camp. Even if there was the vague promise of getting some sleep.

After a week of controversial utterances, Sinead O Connor kept the crowd on their toes in fine voice and generously didn't forget her classic
"Nothing compares to U"

The Poetry Divas gave rousing performance poetry in Mindfield, on subjects as wide ranging as broody twenty two years olds, the seductivness of wine, and bored housewives whose kitchen appliances actually speak to them in a reprimanding manner. The lively session ended with an hilarious group performance outlining, with explanatory photographs, the various names by which breasts are known,introducing a range of new (to me anyway) expressions such as your "Brad Pitts" or "windscreen wipers"

Roddy Doyle read "Karoake" an (as yet) unpublished new short story, on the Literary Stage. He brought his middleaged men to life, with crackling dialogue and sharp observations, giving us a reading that would match a one-man play, in which Lester and friends have a night out in a Spanish karaoke bar, even encountering some "Spanish Culchies."

Tura (sp) an Irish speaking Zimbabwean gave us "Damhsa" (dance in Irish language) receiving energetic audience participation for his efforts.

Just caught the end of Irvine Welsh as he was taking questions on the transporting of his infamous "Trainspotting" characters to the screen.

In between all that there was the Rubberbandits (too dark and crowded to take photo) where I arrived in time for their massive You tube hit "Horse Outside" and a pancake stand where a trapeze artist was on hand to put lemon on your pancakes,

and Maria Doyle-Kennedy on the Salty Dog stage.

After all that there's only one place for me.