Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Daddy, her daddy.

We were lying on the bed, sprawling, actually, in the heat, letting the warm air dry us off after our bath. It's the good bit about being 'just me and you', hanging out with X like this. She's such an undemanding friend, always happy to play with a phone or tinker with a toy while I do whatever I choose to do alongside.

I was checking emails with half an ear on a rather good programme about fathers on the on the box, charting the decline of respect for Dads since Victorian times. They played that wonderful clip from The Railway Children- Jenny Aguter running down the
platform crying:" Daddy, my daddy.' It always gets me, -well, it gets everyone, doesn't it- her a teenager letting out her plaintiff childhood cry that shows she's held her Daddy close to her heart throughout his absence. My Daddy was away at sea when I was a little girl but it was when he came home that times were often the most confusing as we'd learned to live without him in many ways while he was away and reassembling the family unit with him back in it meant all kinds of new habits. Maybe the Railway Children would have got fed up with their Daddy being there all the time, if the book hadn't ended.

'Daddy, her daddy!' X, points at the telly. 'That's her Daddy, 'X watches intently as Jenny runs to her Daddy through the steam. 'She's got a Daddy, like my friend E has and like C has,' she turns to tell me.
'That's right,' says I,' but you haven't got one, have you?' I'm interested to know if anyone crops up in her mind. Does she have a father figure?
'No,' she says cheerily, 'can you buy me one?'

Thursday, 24 June 2010


This is an often asked question in our house.

My favourite colour is yellow. And my three year olds is red.
I like the fact we like yellow and red because it reminds me of a conversation I had with my sister in 1962 when I settled on yellow as my favourite colour and she settled on red. We were sitting in the back seat of our two tone green Austin waiting for my mother who had nipped into the greengrocers on Bear Flat in Bath. We were looking at a poster for Birds custard with yellow custard on a red jam tart. I remember loving the way the yellow and red swirled together. Later my sister deserted red for green and I'm ashamed to say I then had a brief flirtation with purple- because it was Donny Osmond's favourite colour and then I deserted purple for brown because it was David Cassidy's top colour. This is Information that probably only a methusula mum would know or care about but I still have my purple suede mini skirt and hope that X will wear it one day soon. It's so tiny it won't be long before she's grown out of it- lengthwise anyway.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010


My memories of holidays in Cornwall:

Scraping globules of crude oil from our little feet - the Torrey Canyon had just spilled 120000 tons of crude oil into the atlantic to be washed up on the sand of north Cornwall.

Saffron cake for tea.

Surfing- down the dunes on wooden surfboards with candle wax on the bottom.

Ignoring the mist rolling in off the horizon and keeping warm by digging sandcastles in a thick arran. My mother doing her needlework under a plastic mac.

Catching sight of myself in the mirror and being astonished at my blonded hair and freckles.

Going upstairs to bed leaving my mother (who was alone for most of the holiday as my father was away at sea) to her holiday treat- a packet of crisps and a can of beer.

My mother telling us that she was going to the bus stop that night to meet my father off the bus from Penzance. He'd been away at sea and we hadn't seen him for ages. I was so scared of her leaving us alone in the cottage that I curled up on the window ledge of our bedroom and pressed my face against the window peering into the black with my heart racing until I heard her come back with him.

My mother using the car keys to weight down our kite and them getting lost somewhere in the dunes and us searching for hours till we found them.

My mother making us write a scrapbook about churches in Cornwall -for holiday fun! And, after three days of constant rain, cooped up in the cottage actually thinking a trip to a church was well, quite fun.

Being made to put on socks and shoes to visit relatives and our shoes feeling as if they belonged to someone else with different shaped feet.

My sister refusing to walk down the beach with me because she said I stared at everyone.

Eating fried sandworms for breakfast -the bait my brother and father dug up for fishing. We had to eat the bait as they never caught anything else.

My brother being washed off the end of the Sennen Cove jetty by a wave when he was fishing-but luckily my father had tied him to the iron pole at the end.

The flares going up and the life boat going out at regular intervals to rescue children on lilo's in Atlantic storms.

Finding a copy of a magazine called Penthouse in the damp cupboard of the little cottage we rented.

My friends mum -who had been on a package holiday to Majorca- having breasts like little raisins in a gingham cupcake bikini.

The outside loo that had toads in it.

Being allowed to walk to the shop to buy a newspaper in the morning.

I've not really ever taken X on a proper seaside holiday yet- I hope I manage to give her as many memories. Not having money wasn't an excuse then and my job hunting would probably be just as profitable on an empty rainy beach as in London.....

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

It's not a treat if you have it every day, says I.
Yes it is, it's an every day treat, says she.
Good answer, me thinks- sipping and nibbling my little daily treat.

Friday, 18 June 2010

mummies and papas.

'So, when I grow up I'll have babies and I'll be the mummy and you'll sit in the corner,' says X.
'Yes!' I agree wholeheartedly. The idea of sitting in the corner watching her be the mummy sounds rather pleasant, given that it's friday night, the kitchen is sprayed with chocolate cake mixture and there's still hairwashing to get through.
'And there'll be a Daddy- the Daddy of your children' I say, encouragingly. As we've no Daddy in our little family, I try and encourage the idea that they're a good idea, in general.
'Yes, a Daddy- like 'Pa-pa,' says X, nodding hard.
It's confusing. Her best friend is French and her daddy is papa. But I call my father Pa, which she turned into Pa-pa.
'Um, not exactly,' I say, trying not to envision my eighty year old father breeding children with my daughter.

Monday, 14 June 2010


She gets in a tiz of tears, a flurry of wails, a tirade of skirt pulling and leg clutching if we go anywhere near him. We have to cross the road or she yells as if torture is being committed. 

But then, when we're safely on the other side she looks over almost fondly at him, says that she thinks he seems sad. If he's still shut inside the cafe she appears disappointed,drags her feet, peers to see inside the window. 

I've known men that get me like that.  And I still give some of them a wide berth too. 

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

 mama mama in the llama poo. 
In llama llama little llama goes to school and misses his mama but after llama has stopped being sad and started to join in and have fun his mama comes and picks him up from school and he learns that he can love school and mama too. 

My brilliant friend Tracy gave X the book when she came over from NY recently and it shows Tracy's a brilliant mama because it's just right for X's next big thing: school. Even though X has decided she hates books it hasn't stopped her learning all the words to this epic poem of loss and yearning. 

But now X thinks that, like llama llama, her mama is going to come and collect her from school. 
Um, noooooo. 
So who is? asks X
Um, haven't a clue....
Mama mama what to do?
Mama mama in the poo....

PS: Just realised that X says she hates books it's because of the immortal lines: ' kids are snuggled on the rug, would llama llama like to look? No, Llama llama hates that book.' Oh well, at least that means she's just copying. Phew. I thought I might have to bop her on the head with my Riverside Shakespeare. 


Mummy was told off.

A very exciting morning as X and I went to the school she'll be going to in September. She's only three and a half but as it is full time if feels as if it's reception not nursery and her days as a school girl are about to start. Part of me feels excited for her and part of me feels sorry for her- all those exams and homework. But I enjoyed school immensely until  my father was called to explain why my handwriting was so poor. I thought then that this was rather a joke, given the fact that my father's writing was so bad that we could never read any of the postcards he sent us when he was away at sea for months on end.  Now I think it was a bit of a joke as he was paying heavy school fees you'd have thought that it would have been him asking the questions about my performance, not the school. Anyway he told them it was because I was left handed rather than just lazy and careless, and I remember it as it was one of the few times he got personally involved in my education. After that I got an inkling that times tables and stuff like that was getting to be drearily more important than making up the names of mad monsters (slug- a toad was my contribution|) with the fabulously mad Miss Vine and her ginger falling down hair that looked as if a plate of spaghetti in tomato sauce  had been thrown over her head.

X and I had a peak around the door of what we imagined might be X's classroom -to- be and, as we were going out of the car park, three little 'big' girls enthusiastically called out her name. We realised that we already knew them from church and that made me feel a bit better. 

When we got into the car X was uncharacteristically quiet. I asked her what was up, wondering if the prospect of school had scared her, that maybe she might be worried about missing me or something. 
'You held my hand,' she said resentfully.  
Just three and she's already embarrassed by me in front of her peers....

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