My thing to do when I am cleaning is to sing. I sing very loudly and probably very warbly, but I love to sing. I like to pretend I am an opera singer, or a regular singer. I like to sing low down to the floor and high high high as a kite. Deep as a ravine, roaring in an echoey bathroom.
When I was a teenager my cousins recorded me singing loudly while I cleaned the bathroom, when I caught them they fell over themselves giggling as they tried to run away from my brandished sponge.
My mum sings when she was in a good mood. When I was a child, hearing her sing made me feel relieved, it meant she was in a good mood.
Singing while she washed dishes, singing while she changed nappies, singing as she blew raspberries into my baby brother’s chubby little tummy. She used to sing ‘Video killed the radio kill’ which I later learned was ‘Video killed the radio star‘, and ‘Kookobara lived in the old plain tree‘ which was actually ‘Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree‘.
So that is something my sister and I inherited from our mother.
I think my kids may have inherited it too. They both sing very loudly, in public and at home, feeding off each other, instigating each other, louder and louder, opera style, until people turn to look at them and I try to shush them because they might ‘disturb other shoppers’ even though I myself do not mind their singing.
It’s a zeal, I think, for life, when you can sing. Loudly and freely.
PLEASE SHIP TO THE UK, my fingers screamed into my keyboard. Then I really thought about it and realised that no, I do not have £400 to spend on a sofa type thing that sounds like a mini chicken goujon. In addition, I do not have the space to house a sofa-type thing that kids can climb on. Maybe that is why they don’t sell the ‘Nugget’ in the UK, because houses here are so small that we cannot make room for children to play daring games on climbey things.
No we just make do with our own personal sofas, you know, the ones we sit on, for our children to make obstacle courses with and throw themselves off head first in their quests to understand what their little bodies can handle as they grow into human beings and parts of the society.
It doesn’t make any sense, you know, that houses here are so small. The weather is only nice for about 3 months out of twelve, and so the rest of the time most kids spend cooped up indoors because it’s either raining or just too darn cold to layer up in one million layers and slip and slide in the mud outside before coming home and doing a massive clean to remove all traces of the outside world from one’s teeny tiny living room.
BECAUSE HOUSES HERE ARE TINY, did I mention that?
So if we have to spend more time indoors, why not make houses bigger?
The thousand hours outside people will tell you that kids should be out in nature no matter the rain or snow or sleet or blizzard, and I would agree that it does wonders for the mood and the brain and for exploration and for living in general. However, I also still think houses here are too small, and that it’s tough work taking small kids outside in the mud and cold every single day. One gets frustrated with all the cleaning one has to do. Mud and wet grass are awfully messy and gunky things to have on one’s carpets and sofas and all up in the many crevices of baby fat folds.
All this to say, I really want a Nugget.
An expensive sofa type climbey thing that kids can use to jump on, climb over, make forts with and generally be creative. I think my kids would love it. They are ruining my nice sofas with their games and climbing and I think this would get them off my sofas in my teeny house and onto their own climbey things. I also want them to be able to climb and jump about without me feeling like I want to pull my teeth out in frustration. I also think they need to release energy indoors when it’s especially cold and I have no energy to let them roll around in icy mud or poke sticks in icy pools of puddles that are really overflowing drains at the local park.
I can’t justify a Nugget because we are now in a ‘cost of living crisis’, but I want one nevertheless.
I won’t get one.
But I want one.
And I am just putting this out into the ether, as the stars twinkle above me, as the wind roars in the trees, as the cold air drafting through the windows whispers of a tough winter to come.
The season of life I am in right now is such that it is proving to be a mountainous task to make time to write blogs. This is a sad state of affairs, because I thoroughly enjoy typing out a blog and pairing it with some painting or other that vaguely resembles what I want to say.
Speaking of paintings, there is a lovely thing you can do nowadays. You can ask an AI system to generate paintings for you based on words or phrases.
Somebody on Youtube put the lyrics to a really pretty song (to me anyway) into the generator, and the result was marvellous. Here it is below for you to see:
He always asked for secret toast. His bedside table stacked with books, the curtains always flung wide open and the windows dangling on the edges of falling off. Surges of winter air when the months were cold and gusts of fresh earthy breeze in spring. In the summer hot air pregnant with the scent of the roses outside and the apple trees burdened with their scarlet load. Tangy and sweet.
Secret toast, melted butter, the thinnest layer of strawberry preserves. Preferably with a cup of tea. Cocoa when he was smaller. Becky would bring it upstairs to him. After he was tucked in bed. After the lights were turned off. After he had brushed his teeth. He would hear the familiar creak of the stairs down the hallway. The squeeze of the floorboard just outside his bedroom door. Secret toast and hot cocoa.
‘Now eat up and go straight to sleep,’ Becky would say, leaving him with it.
She wouldn’t sit and talk to him, or play a game of chess. He never stopped pleading. By the light of the moon, he sat alone in his bedroom eating his secret toast and sipping his warm hot cocoa. Sometimes the stars would twinkle through the large windows of his childhood bedroom. Sometimes the stars would twinkle through the dormer window of his adult attic. Studio attic. Stacks of books everywhere, no shelves to put them in. Stacks of books neatly put away in shelves in his childhood, probably by Becky.
Secret toast at 12am, 1am, 2am, three.
Secret toast with butter and the thinnest layer of the cheapest jam he could find at the local corner shop. Cup of tea with a splash of milk and a tablespoon of sugar. Sweet and strong, like arms guiding him through the tough moments of it all.
First, what do you call your cup of tea? Just tea? Or are you like my mum, ‘Ooooh I need a cuppa,’ as she sits down after a trip to town.
Are you more northern, and need a ‘brew’ to perk you up for the rest of the day?
‘I can’t have anything sweet,’ a friend told me yesterday, ‘else I’ll need a brew with it.’
A brew, I mused, a brew. How homely does that sound!
I call my tea just plain tea. I am not from the south like my mum, because I grew up in another country. I am not from the north, I just live here. My accent is different; I say ‘dinner’ instead of ‘tea’ and ‘lunch’ instead of ‘dinner’. So I just have plain old tea.
My husband makes rubbish tea. Sometimes when he makes me tea I have to wait for him to disappear so I can pour it down the sink and make a fresh one.
Tea bag in, one teaspoon of sugar. Pour boiling water on top, let sit for a good 3-5 minutes to ‘brew’ (maybe Northerners call it ‘brew’ because like their tea strong?), then a glug of milk, a good stir, teabag out, another thorough stir and bob’s your second cousin.
My husband loves my tea. Says I make the best tea he has ever had. I don’t know if that is a ploy to keep me making him tea.
He has to have something sweet with his tea. His favourite biscuit is the chocolate chip shortbread. Mine is a viennese whirl. Yum. Or a viennese chocolate finger.
My mum likes to dunk chocolate digestives in tea.
When we were small, she would give us a biscuit and we could dunk it in her tea.
‘Can I dip my biscuit in your tea?’ we would ask, whenever we saw her sit down with a mug.
How do you like your tea? And do you have something to go with it? Do you like tea with company? Or a book? Or a scenic scene? Or just by yourself on a sunny afternoon or raining evening?
My two children have been insanely poorly this week. High temperatures, breaking 40C, coughing, lethargy, crying, aches and pains and multiple visits to the GP and also A&E. They’re both on antibiotics because their fevers just refused to budge after 5+ days, my daughter fell over and couldn’t stand on her left leg for abut two days…
Then our fridge stopped working.
Our car started making a funny noise and the mechanic said it was the exhaust pipe connector thingy and would cost about £1800 to fix… the car itself is only worth about £1000, if that.
So now we have no car, no fridge, two poorly children with no appetites, and just a general air of ‘What will happen next?!’
There is a saying isn’t there? Something about raining and pouring? It doesn’t rain, it pours?
All the bad things happen at once?
I heard a man say yesterday, ‘throw the baby out with the bath water’ and it shivered me timbers, I tell you. What an awful saying. What, why would you throw the baby out with the bath water?
I have heard this saying multiple times and it’s so horrid, so I did some research and it means something like, don’t discard something valuable with the rubbish.
Just like that man who accidentally threw away his hard drive containing a tonne of bitcoin, estimated to be now worth 150 million pounds, so he has assembled a team of experts to excavate a landfill in order to find it. He certainly did throw the baby out with the bathwater.
But back to that, WHO came up with that saying? Had someone actually done that, so it became a bar by which to judge other similar and not so similar situations? Could we not say something else? Why must it be so horrific and morbid?
Those are my thoughts for today. Unfiltered, unedited, just posting because I need to say something, not that the void needs to hear another yammering voice.
We seem to have become a generation of all talk and no listening.
I am writing this because I need to write a blog post. I need to do so many things and yet I find myself mopping floors and scrubbing dried up food off a highchair. Wiping bottoms. Faces. Picking food out of hair. Toes. Tidying up books, bricks, trains, crumbs, rubbish, over and over and over and over and over and over….
And standing still for a moment, clutching a tea towel, realising with a horrible overwhelming clarity that every single day I do everything and nothing. A sense of urgency overpowers me because how will my kids ever learn??? How?!!?!?
This blogpost isn’t about that.
It is about feet.
If you don’t like feet, then click away my friend.
My feet have become terribly rough and scratchy of late. The soles have developed hard, cracked skin. My mum advises that it is because I walk on hard floors without slippers and don’t cream my feet enough. I tell her I cream them every morning and every night.
So one night, as I felt my feet scratching against the sheets as I tossed in bed, I sat up crossly.
Enough is enough, I say!
I got out a tub of vaseline, and lathered my feet with it, before popping my socks on and going to bed. Next morning I did the same thing, and went to the gym. When I got home and showered, I used a pumice stone to scrub at the dry skin.
Every day, I lathered the vaseline, and scrubbed away in the shower.
A week later, the skin on my feet is soft as a ….. as a downy feather. As a duck’s back. As a cat’s tail. As a well-oiled foot. I didn’t need a trip to the salon for an overpriced pedicure that doesn’t do anything (yesss I have tried this in the past). I did not need any foot masks that you can buy online, but can never be sure if you’re buying a scam, because everything is a scam nowadays.
I bought myself a milk frother. Actually in today’s language that isn’t quite true. I ordered myself one. It’s a little machine whisk, the handle of which contains a battery. The whisk part is a small circle of wire with a curly wire going all over it, and it vibrates or spins when you press the button on its handle.
You can froth milk, or cream, or in my case, a teaspoon of instant coffee and a teaspoon of sugar in a tablespoon of boiling water. Froth that right up until its thick and foamy and double the size of the liquid. Then add boiling water and a teensy splash of warmed milk and there you have something delicious.
Something like a cappuccino, but lighter, frothier, tastier and way cheaper. You can have it as many times a day as your jitters will allow.
Early in the morning before your kids wake up and drag you backwards through a hedge.
Late at night when they are asleep and you’re desperately typing away at your laptop keyboard trying to get this big project done.
In the afternoon, at 3pm precisely, when a wave of deep exhaustion slaps you on both cheeks and then parks its bottom on your eyelids. Heavy heavy, limbs like lead, but you sip from that sweet foam and you’re mildly awake again, setting about to finish off the rest of your day.
I don’t know what it is about life that feels so alien.
I want to write stories and describe things and delve into humanity’s mind, I want to talk to people and explore their minds and learn things and thoughts and opinions. But I find myself on the daily repeating a tedium that is almost set in stone. Written into my soul by the generations before me.
My grandmother and her paper thin skin and brown, wrinkly hands pop into my mind often.
I was having a conversation with my husband and mother in law about something to do with children growing up and leaving and I mentioned my grandmother and my husband said, out of the blue,
‘She was very lonely, your grandmother, wasn’t she?’
It felt like a punch in the gut. I thought about her, raising three children alone in London in the 70s, divorced and heartbroken, hardworking and efficient. She packed them all off to uni and waved goodbye as they got married and travelled across the globe and country, and there she resided in her big old Victorian house on a side street in South London.
She was incredibly lonely.
My sweet, kind, warm, loving grandmother.
And she is no longer with us. In fact, on the 22nd of July it will have been 11 years since she passed away.
And when he said that a deep sadness rose up so suddenly that I could not control myself, so I got up to go to the kitchen under the pretext of clearing the dishes away.
‘Are you doing to cry?’ he asked me.
‘No,’ I said, as the tears gathered thick and fast in my eyes and threatened to spill out onto my cheeks. I shut the kitchen door behind me and began to wash the dishes to compose myself.
My son ran in a few moments later and his eyes were huge, ‘Mama are you sad?’ he said. He had interrupted his play to check on me.
I turned and smiled at him.
‘No sweetheart, I am not sad.’
He searched my face with his eyes for a few moments and then went back to his game, evidently appeased.
And I remembered searching my own mother’s face like he did. In fact, I still do. I search her voice and her eyes and the way her chin moves.
And I thought about how she too, would do the same to her mother. My grandmother.
I don’t know what all this means or how it relates to a milk frother and being overwhelmed.
And it’s the season where spring is kissing the summer, gentle touch, thick green foliage and the promise of waxy green leaves ever-growing.
And the light is waning, fading, pink tinged clouds in the distant sky, their edges grey at the top, the sky brighter here, darker there, and there is a silent darkness descending upon the earth. Plunged into the fringe of shadow, light deepening with every passing moment, but you don’t realise until the street lamps are suddenly making themselves known.
I am walking home, and others are walking home from work, driving home, headlamps thrusting my shadow before me, making it grow larger and larger and then shorter before vanishing.
Lights blink on in the houses I pass, and I cannot help but glance into windows of warm, golden cosiness.
Pictures on walls, fairy lights adorning a heavy oak bookshelf, pretty curtains, trailing plants, glint of gleam, bobbing head of a child dancing in a living room…
And always a TV screen. Flickering. Light flashing, then dimming, then flashing again. Colours and words and laughter waltzing across the screen, thoughts filtering into numb brains. Evening. Shut down. Unwind. Consume.
What did people do before the invention of television?
Sew by the fire maybe. Read a book, or the newspaper, and talk about it. Listen to the radio. Or ‘wireless’ as they called it in the War. Crochet, knit. Paint. I don’t think it’s wrong to watch a bit of telly of an evening. I am sure people talk to each other during it.
I just find it interesting. All houses seem to have a box that beams out ideas and colour and thoughts and content and light, and I wonder if we are senselessly consuming something designed to ensnare our brains?
The next day at work someone says ‘Oh did you see that interview last night?’
And everybody nods and Natasha begins to excitedly give her take on it, and others chime in, and Bob googles a YouTube video to debunk what the interview was about, and they all jump on him, and they end in laughter, each taking their tea back to their desk… but I cannot help but wonder, what if we are being distracted from something?
Living in a twilight world. Can’t see properly and yet… and yet it’s still so bright.