Thursday, 30 April 2009

More songs stuck in my head

A very quick post to vent some frustration...

Every now and again I get addicted to watching certain TV programs. At the moment it is "The Dog Whisperer" - not just because I have a strange attraction to Cesar Millan's energy but because I love dogs and I love watching the way he quickly transforms them from untamable nightmare to chilled out canine.

And following "The Dog Whisperer" is "The Lion Man" at which point I pick up my laptop and get on with whatever I am doing, whilst intermittently watching a grown man cuddle huge cats as though they are domestic moggies.

And I have the theme tune stuck in my head.
When washing my face last night: "He's a Liiii-on man, doin' what he can..."
When setting my alarm clock: "He's a Liiii-on man, doin' what he can..."
And when in the shower this morning: "He's a Liiii-on man, doin' what he can, to provide a sanctuary da de da da da da da... He's a Liiii-on man, doin' what he can, to provide a sanctuary da de da da da da da... He's a Liiii-on... aaaaaaarrrrrrrgggghhhhhhh!!!!!"

The solution was to replace it with another tune, which no doubt will be driving me nuts in about half an hour's time.
I made myself a cup of tea, and it was back to "Right, said Fred" (was he is trouble, half a ton of rubble landed on the TOP O-O-OF HIS DOME!!! So Charley and me had another cup of tea, and then we.. went 'ome!)

What is the world coming to, when an improvement on songs stuck in my head turns out to be Bernard Cribbins?

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Singing and Forgiveness

This post might take me a while to write, because I am multi-tasking once more - trying to type and cram my mouth full of peanut M&Ms at the same time... and where there is room I might squeeze in the occasional Malteser.

For the past week or so, I have been amused at the choices of song currently driving me half insane. And I am equally surprised at the songs which rattle round my head all day and don't drive me insane.

The songs I hum or sing on a day to day basis (oh my goodness, only one person reading this will realise exactly how much this makes me like Mother) reflect what I have recently been doing with my time.

After spending the night at a Ceroc class, the song I will repeatedly play and then sing will be the one which gave me the biggest surge of joy on the dance floor - the right dance partner, the right music, the right shoes... the stuff that dreams are made of. But having had a long break from all things Ceroc lately, and more time at the Kabbalah Centre either at Shabbat or most recently Pesach, the songs that I find myself singing are Hebrew hymns and prayers. And they are very catchy and I love them.

I don't care that I cannot understand a word I am singing. In fact, I prefer it that way. The connection seems easier to make without the direct translation.

But since spending the entire day on Friday with my friend and her twin boys, I repeatedly catch myself singing "There are bubbles in the air, in the air"... and it is driving me crackers.
When hanging the washing: "There are bubbles way up high, way up high......"
When making a cup of coffee: "There are bubbles way down low, way down low..."
Aaaaaaaaarrrrrgh!!! There are bubbles in my fricking head!!

Where is 'Lecha Dodi Likra Kala...' when you need it?

(It takes me back to the days when the office practical joker used to play a snippet of the theme tune to Terry and June on his PC. Five hours later the office would be full of intelligent business people dashing their brains out on their desks having failed to get the song out of their heads using any other method. Carnage.)

Maybe my penchant for and lack of irritation with Hebrew hymns is an indication of my deeply ingrained spirituality. Oh yes, I think that must be it. I have, after all, recently started scanning the Sh'ma readings for the morning and bedtime which involves little bit more dedication and effort than I have previously made in raising my consciousness. Aren't I a good little girl (notice how that wasn't a question)

Each prayer aims to set your consciousness for the day or the night ahead (and they too contain an awful lot of Eloheinu's and Adonai's - marvellous). The first prayer at night involves asking forgiveness for any hurt or pain that you caused to any other person during the day.

So that's spiritual, huh? I am getting better at this 'Kabbalah Rookie' business all the time, no?

I guess I would be more pleased with myself had I not had a conversation this evening which exposed exactly how far I have to go. The conversation involved a mild slating of Jeremy who I had a couple of dates with and who then ditched me. Apparently his attire last Friday night was a pink T-shirt tucked in to jeans which had a waistline height a la Simon Cowell. And whilst I was mocking his lack of dress sense and generally agreeing that I'd had a lucky escape and that I was 'So O-ver Him', I found myself thinking 'okay, I'd better mark that one down for forgiveness tonight'

As though that makes everything better! I might as well be a faux Catholic if I am going down that path! (no offence, nice Catholics..). I am pretty sure that the idea is not to get away with murder whilst thinking 'it's okay, I've got a prayer for that one'. Somehow I don't think the Creator - being omnipotent and all - would fall for it.

Oh well, I guess that recognition is key. Recognition that I have a long way to go, perhaps. But at least I get the point. And another benefit to reciting the Sh'ma readings is that it helps to replace those darned bubbles with a few Eloheinu's, if only for a few minutes...

Saturday, 18 April 2009

The Limeric

When I was eleven years old I bought a book of limerics. It was full of the usual:
"There was a young lady from Ryger
Who rode with a smile on a tiger
They returned from the ride
With the lady inside
And the smile on the face of the tiger"

Which was memorable and funny enough. As was the one about the man from Devizes with different sized ears (children's version). But the limeric I found funniest of all (inducing a face streaked with tears, a sore throat and stomach cramps) was the only limeric in the book which wasn't actually a limeric:

"There was a young man from St. Bees
Who was stung on the arm by a wasp
When asked 'Does it hurt?'
He replied 'No it doesn't,
I'm so glad it wasn't a hornet!'"

I found this hysterical. Which says much for my sense of humour, I guess. (Who else do you know who introduces the gecko tattoo on her shoulder as 'Bernard'?)

The limeric no longer induces tears of mirth (at least, not sober - after a sniff of chardonay it is anybody's guess). And I have to confess to you that when I started writing this post I wanted to give everybody a chuckle at what I thought was the best limeric in the entire world. But on typing it I couldn't even raise a titter. So you are all effectively off the hook. (And by that same token, I guess so am I)

And then I re-read the limeric again and was hit by a deep (no, really) and astounding (I promise) insight.

Isn't this limeric one of the greatest examples of gratitude, ever?

I think I have found my new mantra, to be quoted at all times of distress, pain or disappointment. As they strap me in to my tight, white coat, you will hear me mumble "I'm so glad it wasn't a hornet"...

Thursday, 16 April 2009

It rained today

Goodness, is that the sum total of my day? It rained?!

What else went on... hmm now let me think...

Not an awful lot, really. I went to sign on today - always depressing, especially in the rain. A four hour round trip, ten minutes of which are spent sitting with the rest of the great unwashed of East Herts and the rest of which is spent sitting on a draughty bus or milling round bookshops or standing with my eyes glazed over at the different varieties of shampoo in Boots. Note to self: must sort my life out.

Anything else? Oh yes, I squashed a gnat.
The night before last I was sitting on the couch and felt something tickling my leg. Assuming it was a random leg hair or piece of fluff, I ignored it. Much to my peril. Later I discovered 3 nasty bites on my knee, shin and ankle. The kind of bites that drive you to distraction with their itchiness. The kind of bites that strengthen the feeling of hatred towards all potential biting insects.

Then last night, I felt the same thing - something crawling inside my jeans, same leg. Suspecting that my jeans were hosting fleas, I frantically pulled up my trouser leg, found nothing (but managed to trigger the whole itching process once more) and then five minutes later I spotted a tiny gnat-type-thing crawling on the other leg. I tried to slap it but with the absence of a carcase the outcome was one stinging thigh, one itchy shin and gnat paranoia for the next two hours.

So today there I was innocently standing in my kitchen waiting for the kettle to boil and along flies the same gnat (no, I swear it had the same look on its little gnatty face) headed straight for my leg. And with my thoughts aligned less with Buddhism and more with defending my mortal being, I instinctively lent down and slapped. And I got it first time. I watched it spiral slowly to the kitchen floor.

And then the guilt started. I shouldn't have killed it really. Any life is a life, and all that. I watched for signs of movement. Maybe it was only stunned. Perhaps it was still in pain. Maybe (given that I didn't fancy my chances giving it the kiss of life) I ought to step on it to make sure that it was out of its misery. No, it was definitely dead.

And then I consoled myself with the fact that what is, is. If every creature is here for a purpose, then maybe (just maybe) that gnat was once a selfish person or a nasty dog, banished to gnat-dom for a lifetime to learn a lesson. Perhaps I have just freed its soul so that it may be reincarnated as something else. A wasp, most likely, which knowing my luck will build its nest in the loft above my bedroom. *sigh*

How bored does one have to be before blogging about the reincarnation of gnats?

I'll tell you all about my pet ant (Anthony) another time.

Now, where did I put the Calomine lotion?

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Madonna and Guy - Gossip?!

Last Wednesday night was the first Seder meal for Pesach. A wonderful event, for which I was only part-prepared.

The first thing that I was unprepared for was the length of time it would take, which I hadn't even considered until one of the Chevre announced 'by the time you walk out of here at 1am, you will be very different'.

Sorry, 1am???? What?!?!? I checked the train timetable. Last train left at midnight. Sigh. So what to do? Three options:
  1. Leave halfway through the meal and connection at 11:30 and catch the last train home.
  2. Stay until the end of the meal and catch a taxi home, tripling the cost of the meal.
  3. Stay until the end of the meal and wander the streets of London until the first train home.
Luckily as with all things Universe, I didn't have to follow any of these options as I was offered a bed for the night in someone's hotel room, but until that moment I was obviously not thinking straight. Or perhaps it was the wine.

The first connection finished and everyone headed down to be seated for the meal. I was lucky enough to be sitting near the front, next to the head table, so that I could keep up with everything that was going on. One thing that I was prepared for was that I was going to leave the meal feeling ever so slightly drunk. Anyone who knows me understands my capacity for alcohol - e.g. zero, zilch, zip, nada. One sniff of vodka and I am reeling. One sip of wine and I get giggly and instantly need a wee.

But with the Seder meals you drink 4 glasses of wine. And I am not talking about a leisurely sipping of four glasses of wine throughout the meal, sensibly on top of food. I am talking about downing two glasses of wine in one go before you even start the meal. Kabbalistic binge drinking, if you will. There is not enough time for a non-drinker to prepare for that one. So there is another excuse.

What am I excusing? My stupidity, perhaps? My ability to take two and two and make nothing?

At some point early in the meal (definitely after the first glass of wine, it has to be said) I glanced at the head table.
"Oh" I thought "There's that chap that looks remarkably like Guy Ritchie. Uncanny".
I thought no more of it.
Ten minutes later. "Oh. There's that girl who looks remarkably like Lourdes - I thought that she would be with her father in San Diego". Still no connection. But even better, five minutes later (and probably after the second glass of wine):
"Oh, doesn't that woman look like Madonna? Remarkable. Can't be".

And I kid you not - I made no connection between the three. In fact, I was more likely to think 'How funny to have three lookey-likey's in the same room!' D'Oh!

So of course, it was them. The entire family was sitting at the head table. I guess that if anything I expected them to be in San Diego if attending Pesach at all, and I didn't expect to see them all together, let alone just tucked in with everyone else, unpestered.

And that's the great thing about Kabbalah - there is integrity in the belief that everyone is equal.

And I was fascinated with their presence, but not for reasons that you might suspect. I don't fawn over celebrities - they are just people like everyone else - but still, I was at times transfixed.

Why? Because there have been so many things written in the media lately about Madonna and Guy - so many things that the gutter press have tried to skew and scratch and scrape at to tarnish their characters - and much as I hate the media with a passion, I read some of the articles thinking 'I hope that's not true'. And blessed with the opportunity to observe them (from a non-pestering distance) together as a family I was able to abolish any doubts that I had.

Guy Ritchie 'finishing with Kabbalah and burning his white clothes'? Nope.
Guy hating Madonna so much that he now refers to her as 'It'? Couldn't have been further from the truth - their strong friendship was very apparent.
Madge and Guy fighting over the kids? Don't be daft.

At no point in the evening did Madonna take centre stage - that's not what she was there for. She was plainly dressed. She wore no makeup. She looked like a woman who had just had her application for child adoption turned down and then flown halfway round the world with her children. She looked understandably tired and jet-lagged but despite that she continued to take care of her children as all good mothers do.

There was no evidence of any of the family 'putting on a front' to face the public - their behaviour was very natural: A marriage that hasn't worked out and two spiritual parents who are keeping it together for their kids.

I wonder if some of you reading this were hoping that at some point in this post I would reveal some gossip, like maybe she left with someone else, or they had a few sharp words, or she had a personal taster for her food, or her kids ran riot. Nope. Boring, isn't it? Nobody would pay me for: "Madonna and Guy and their family sit and eat a meal and are nice, normal people"

Sorry to disappoint, but I'll leave the gossip to those without a conscience.

Kabbalah Rookie, Journalist to the StarZzzzzzzzz

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Unwanted Visitors

I've just heard a tap at the door and wondered whether I should open it or not. I decided to open it just in case it was the new neighbours or something. So I opened the door and saw two people with clipboards. Power supply company. Oh for fuck's sake. Here we go.

The number of times I have opened the door to their patter. 'Hello! Don't worry, we're not trying to sell you anything!' (Yes, actually in effect, you are) and then she showed me her card which said NPower.

So I immediately say with a smile 'Look, I'm going to stop you there, because I'm not interested'. The woman looks puzzled. 'Look' I continue 'I've had NPower round at least five times and each time I have said that I'm not interested'

'Oh' she said 'Still number 33? Still Ms K Rookie?'
'Yes' (like, what doorway did you think you had knocked at, you plank?)
'Still with British Gas?'
'Yes, look, I'm just not interested, okay?'

She looks genuinely puzzled as though thinking 'What person in their right mind wouldn't want to save money on their bills?', draws breath again and I start to suddenly feel really tearful. Out of nowhere. The second I opened the door and saw the clipboards, I wish I hadn't. I didn't want the bargaining, I didn't want to discuss anything. I wanted just to roll my eyes, say 'oh, you AGAIN! Just fuck off and leave me alone!' and slam the door in their face. But that's not very Kabbalah, is it?

I don't know why I almost burst in to tears - perhaps simply because of sheer frustration. They are trained to be very nice, polite and slightly patronising. Because they aren't there to sell anything - oh no - they are there to save you from yourself. It doesn't seem possible to get rid of them politely and they play on that, knowing that many people don't want to have to resort to being rude (which makes me quite sick when I think of the number of old people who fall foul to their sales technique).

The other thing is that they are very good at asking how much I pay per month for my bills, but aren't really prepared to compare the actual unit cost and consumption. And although they insist that it won't cost me anything to switch, I beg to differ given that my account with British Gas is currently in debit after the winter quarter.

Anyway, end result was that before I burst in to tears I said something to the effect of 'sorry but I don't have to listen to this' and started to close the door, to the sound of them saying 'well, thanks very much anyway, not to worry'.

And then I started crying inside the house, mystified as to this sudden display of emotion.

I'm not sure why I wasn't quick thinking enough to use the approach I used last time which was to give a huge (almost slightly insane) smile and repeat the phrase:
"Thank you very much, but I'm not interested" over and over and over again. I only had to say it ten times before they got the message, at which point my parting shot was "Thank you! Call round again sometime!"

In fact - that could be the start of a whole new competition, couldn't it? How many times do you have to repeat the message before the Salesperson gives up. I might keep a tally next to the front door, waiting for my next victim. This could be fun.

Yesterday somebody tapped on the door and it turned out to be two Jehovah's Witnesses inviting me to their celebration of Jesus on Wednesday night. They didn't mention the Watchtower. They didn't say 'Could you say that you are really happy in your life at the moment?' or try to sell me their religion. And I didn't mention that Wednesday night I would be at the Kabbalah centre eating the 1st Seder meal. They were a breath of fresh air. Good luck to them - they have found something that makes them happy and they invited me along to share it. That's nice.

Or did I enjoy their visit simply out of sheer relief that they weren't from an energy company? What is the world coming to when I don't regret opening the door to Jehovah's Witnesses?

Okay, so if I knew how to Tag people, I would ask people to blog any amusing tales of handling unwanted callers. But I'm not that clever. Or even better, tell me how you would like me to deal with the next visit from an energy company - and as long as it doesn't involve nudity, I will let you know how it goes...

Buying as much as you can carry

Yesterday, after my visit to the hospital, I decided to make best use of my walk back to the station and quickly pop in to the supermarket. I had run out of milk. On the way there I decided to buy something nice for breakfast. Hmm.. now what shall I have? Bacon. I fancy a nice bacon sandwich. Right then – milk and bacon.

Half an hour later I emerged from the supermarket having bought the following:

Milk (Lactofree, £1.36)
Bacon (Smoked streaky - £1.77)
Jacket potatoes (on offer – 60p for four)
Salad cress (on offer – 29p – bargain)
2 parsnips (53p)
3 carrots (42p)
Houmous (£1.01)
Sour cream and chive dip
Breadsticks (to go with the dips)
Doritos (to go with the dips)
Basics Pepperoni (to sling on top of Basics pizza base, sitting in freezer)
Taste The Difference Black Ham (£2.96)
Toilet Duck (have just run out)
Jaffa Cakes (half price – bargain – feeling clever because I didn’t buy 2 packs)
Champneys Double Enzyme face mask (desperate attempt to sort skin)
Family pack of Peanut M&Ms
Family pack of Maltesers (saving 52p by buying both – should last until Wednesday at least)
Box of six Cadbury’s Crème Eggs (on offer - £2 – here today, goo tomorrow)
Vidal Sassoon Ceramic Hair Straighteners (£14.99. Could have bought a pair for half that but these came with a two year guarantee so they must be good… sigh).

So my £3.13 planned shop ended up costing me £39.14. I know – I went over the top on carrots. Somehow I always come home with more than I plan to buy.

Strangely enough, it reminded me of when my ex, Jon, and I were travelling, 14 years ago. We had been on the road for 10 weeks and by that time I had already bought more wooden carvings and blankets in India than we could comfortably carry or possibly put on display when we finally reached home.
We were enjoying a few days in the Thamel district of Kathmandu which at the time was a great little backpacker area and hence filled with people trying their luck selling anything and everything. Walking to the nearest café meant pushing through sellers leaping in to our path crying “Tiger Balm! Tiger Balm!”, “Chess Set! Chess Set! Real Wood!”, “Flute! Look! Sandalwood”, “Buy T-shirt!”, “Change Money!”, “Hashish! Hashish!”

I so dearly wanted a Sandalwood Nepalese Flute, waved under my nose the previous day. Jon put his foot down. “We cannot buy any more” he said (which actually meant YOU cannot buy any more but was either trying to save my feelings or was doing his best to avoid listening to a high pitched whine for the next 8 months). I sulked. So many souvenirs, so little time.

The following day we visited a postcard and poster shop, to write to the folks at home (this was in the days before mobile phones and email – yes, we were authentically intrepid). As usual, I spent too long deciding which card to buy for whom, and Jon left me to it.

When I stumbled back in to the daylight twenty minutes later, I found Jon standing on the steps in front of me with a curiously stunned expression on his face.
I just bought a Ghurkha knife”, he said, holding it out for me to see.
I thought you said that we weren’t going to buy anything else?!” I cried, “How the hell did you ‘just buy’ a Ghurkha knife?
I don’t know”, he said, looking as confused as I felt.

This was no insignificant knife – it was about a foot long in total, with an eight inch blade, protected by a chunky wooden and leather sheath. How the fuck are we going to get that through customs? (Or rather ‘How the fuck are you going to get that through customs?)

This lad just came up to me”, he continued as though trying to work it out for himself, “and asked if I wanted to buy a knife. I said ‘no thanks’. He said ‘just 2,000 rupees’(£25 at the time). I said ‘I don’t want to buy a knife’. He said ‘Okay, okay, 1,600 rupees. Real Ghurkha knife. Good blade. Real leather’. So I thought I would get rid of him by saying ‘Look, mate, I don’t want to buy your knife. Do I look like I need a knife? I’ll give you 200 for it’. But he still wouldn’t go away. And before I knew it, he was down to 400 rupees, and I thought, hang on a minute, that’s a fiver. So I bought it”.

This moment of weakness was Jon’s undoing for the rest of the trip. The next day – oops! – a sandalwood flute just happened to find its way in to my rucksack. The first of many purchases. Okay, so the sandalwood smell faded by the time we got home, but I still have it on display…

Monday, 6 April 2009

I went for a CT scan of my sinuses today. I received the letter a couple of weeks ago and pinned it to the notice board, and then read it again this morning. And when I re-read it I noticed all kinds of phrases that I hadn't noticed before, like the mention of an injection of fluid, the need to stay behind for ten minutes afterwards to monitor for any reaction (maybe I should have somebody with me, just in case), and the worst thing of all - the prospect of wearing a hospital gown.

Shit. I knew there was a reason why I should have waxed my legs. Never mind - instead of taking in my manky dressing gown to cover up, I decided to take in a pair of leggings to wear underneath. Sorted.

I took the train to Harlow, arrived on time for my appointment and was called in almost immediately. The nurse checked my date of birth, the date of my last period, which I couldn't remember (why do they always need to know this? I don't understand! They are taking pictures of my frickin' sinuses. Why not just ask if I could be pregnant, if that's what they want to know?)

She called me over to the machine and asked me to lie down. There was not a gown in sight. In fact, I didn't even have to take my shoes off. I was asked to lie still, and the table slid me in to the machine as far as my neck, then back out again. Then there was a sound like a microwave on Full Power, I slid back in, back out, and then it stopped (without going ding!).

Okay, so that's the dry run over... here we go with the real thing...stay perfectly still...

The nurse reappeared again. "All done, you can go", she said.

All done?! All done?! I've just paid £5.30 to get here! The least you could have done was added a bit of drama or dragged it out a bit to make it worth my while!

Mustn't grumble. No doubt I will get more than my money's worth when I go in to have my deviant septum corrected and my sinuses drilled out.

And I will definitely be waxing my legs for that one...

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Where's a man when you need one?

Okay, I give up. I have finally conceded that I need a man in my life. Any capable man will do.

Not that I haven't wanted a man in my life for quite some time now. But the situation has now become desperate. I am dropping my standards completely.

Is it because I need someone to curl up on the couch with whilst I am watching TV? Errrm, no. Given my past experience, there are few men out there who would settle for the same flavour of dross that I watch. And anyway, I'm not ready to face the growing knot in my stomach when I relinquish sole ownership of the TV remote. As for sharing my TV chocolate, forget it.

Is it because I need more conversation? Errrm, no. I have more intelligent talkative friends - male and female - than I could shake a stick at.

Is it because I need a hug? Errrrm, no. Strangely enough, over the past few months the number of 'huggers' I have met have dramatically increased. I am getting hugs right, left and centre. I cannot complain in the hug department. I get hugs from people I have met at Ceroc, hugs from friends at the Kabbalah centre, I've had 4 hugs from Nick Williams, I love to give all of my friends a big hug. I demand to offer at least one huge hug to GBM every time I see him - minimum - and the snuggles and hugs I get in my role as pseudo auntie to my friend's children are just delightful. I am not saying that I am hugged out - there is always room for more - but that isn't the reason why I need a man.

Okay, so is it the sex, then? Am I hankering after a bit of passion? Is my bed too big? Errrm, no. I don't need 5 minutes of damp grunting followed by 7 hours of snoring or stray arms pinning me down. I'll save that pleasure for someone special. Remember, at this moment, right now, I am prepared to drop my standards. Nobody mentioned Soulmate.

Perhaps it would be easier for me to just describe my need in the form of an advertisement...

Blue-eyed goddess, 38, seeks good looking man with own transport to take control of setting up a TiVo box.
  • Must be small enough to fit in to tight corners without any display of builder's bum (unless bum is peachy and hair-free, in which case, mustn't mind if I sit on the couch and watch the entire operation).
  • Must understand the difference between a Digital Terrestrial Box and an Analogue Cable Box (and know without ringing your mates which category applies to my Virgin Cable Digibox).
  • Must understand the difference between a coax and RF cable and be able to work out which cables plug in to which devices in which order - with or without the simple pictoral instructions provided.
  • Must be able to attend before the start of Dexter, Season 3.
Payment: Wide-eyed admiration and awe at your technical ability. Use of phrases such as 'You've completely saved my life' and 'What would I have done without you?'. And if you can mow the lawn before you leave, I'll chuck in a cup of tea and a digestive (unless your bum is really that peachy in which case I will review compensation).

Actually, I am perfectly capable of working this out for myself, but for once, I just can't be sodding asked and am willing to feign helplessness if it will save me the time and the hassle.

Any takers?

Saturday, 4 April 2009

What's the fuss? He's still breathing...

** warning to my sister... this post involves child injury. I'm not saying anything, but you know what you're like... **

Raising children is a scary thing, isn't it? They want to do all kinds of things of which they are not physically capable and learn by getting bumps, scrapes, bruises and the occasional broken bone if they don't bounce particularly well.

And I have never been affected by watching other people's children 'learn from their mistakes'. Whereas my sister has always been particularly weak in the stomach when witnessing a wail followed by an egg-shaped bump and I have never understood. I was there when Captain Underpants tripped and launched himself headfirst on to his train table, splitting his head on the way down and although there was a bit of instant drama, I could see that he would be okay. My sister dealt with this remarkably well and didn't vomit on this occasion, although she turned a shade of pale green for the rest of the day.

She wasn't so lucky when my young cousin, years ago, gained an eggshaped bump on his forehead in the middle of a country pub after tripping over a chair leg and headbutting the ornate wooden carvings placed at small child level. She had to sit in the toilet for at least an hour. Or the time when a young girl from the restaurant table next to ours whilst we were on holiday in Tenerife created a similar egg-shaped bump on her forehead after falling off the stage. My sister was irreconcilably clammy until she had barfed up her pre-dinner drink all over her sandals. What a waste of Baileys.

And yet I was unaffected by witnessing these events, but now I realise that the only reason for my sense of calm was because a) there were always other adults around and b) I was not responsible for the injury.

Yesterday changed all of that. I visited a friend - Hen Lady - who has 17 month old twin boys. We took them to the park to play. They clambered on slides, narrowly avoided swings, came too close for my liking to metal steps at tooth level and generally had a whale of a time. Despite a constant "I can barely watch - are you sure that they don't need my help?" sense of panic, they exited the park unscathed.

We put them back in 'The Trolley' and headed to the local organic shop. The trolley is a one-behind-the-other three wheeled pushchair. It is about as long as - and handles like - a limosine. I have had frequent heart attacks steering this thing in the past as it tends to tip a little when going down kerbs, but it's okay. I pushed it to the shop.

Hen Lady heads inside and I line up the trolley to swing in through the narrow doorway. And as I do so, for a split second I notice that I can see little Jolly's face in the front seat. But it is a split second too late. As I swing the front of the trolley round, I realise that the reason I can see his face is because he is standing up in his seat, and the momentum topples him out backwards.

He lands on his back with a splat. I am sure I have killed him. He starts to cry and I dash to pick him up, expecting to see half of his brains left on the kerbstone. There are no brains. There is no blood. Surely a landing like that is enough to do some serious damage? I felt sick. I imagined all of the consequences of rendering a friend's baby brain-damaged.

Hen Lady remains remarkably calm and takes him in to the shop. He wails for ten minutes solid, but then he stops. There is no bump, there is no bruise. Did I really get away with it?

Apparently so. Despite my attention throughout the rest of the evening (when everyone else had well and truly forgotten all about the incident) he showed no signs of sleepiness and wasn't sick. He played nicely in the bath and continued biting his brother as though nothing had happened. Even so, I woke up this morning certain that I wasn't yet off the hook, fearful of getting a phonecall to tell me that actually, I had ruined a poor boys life.

I called round again this evening. He was still fine, even though he had recently taken a forward tumble on to the patio from his baby climbing frame. Then at tea-time he scared himself silly by standing up in his high chair and losing his balance. And that was after trying to come down the big kitchen stairs forwards, and toppling backwards in to the Aga. Which again came after falling in through the playhouse window when his brother decided not to let him in through the door.

This is a child who likes to do his own stunts.

When he was a baby he was known as Houdini - you only had to take your eyes off him for a second and he would be over the other side of the room pulling on a table cloth or stuck behind the lounge door. Nowadays he is more likely to be on top of a table or hanging from a ledge.

Hence the reason for Hen Lady's calm - he does this stuff all the while and he bounces every time. Just as well, really... with me around...

Friday, 3 April 2009

An emotional car wreck

Oh My Goodness, I sobbed last night. And that just isn't like me. Real tears (like, real tears) rolled down my cheeks, uncontrollably. I had to ring GBM to listen to a friendly voice who could calm me down. I felt shaken for quite a while.

And the reason for this? Did my pet spider (Jim, in the bathroom) curl up his toes and die? No. Did I receive a really bad phonecall with horrific news that someone I dearly loved had been in an accident? No. Did I receive an abusive email telling me what a horrible person I was, and how much I had let someone down? (Who, me?) No.

Danielle died on Eastenders. (Sorry GBM if I have ruined that one for you after my emotional build up last night, but you had your chance to watch it)

The long-running storyline was that Danielle's Mum, Ronnie (Samantha Janus), had given birth at the age of 14 and had been persuaded by her father (the evil Archie, played so brilliantly by Larry Lamb) to give the child up for adoption. When Archie came in to the storyline (months ago) he then tells Ronnie that he received a letter saying that her daughter had died when she was two years old, and he never had the heart to tell her. But of course, he was now telling her for her own good so that she could heal and move on. Nasty Man.

But of course Danielle appears on the scene looking for her Mum, with a locket containing a picture of Ronnie's 14 year old self that was given to her when she was adopted. After a long-drawn-out storyline, Danielle reveals herself to Archie, who says that Ronnie is a woman on the edge, and that he will deal with it. Which of course, he doesn't, hoping that Danielle will vanish and not reveal what a lying, manipulative bastard he really is. (Can you tell how much I get sucked in to soaps?!).

And last night Danielle reveals herself to Ronnie (after believing that Ronnie had already been told by Archie and didn't want to know her). And of course, Ronnie is encouraged by Archie to think that Danielle is two crackers short of a midday snack, and Danielle leaves The Vic (they live in a pub called The Queen Victoria - oh, keep up, will you?) in a state of hysteria and shock.

And then Ronnie finds the locket, realises that Danielle is telling the truth and sets out to find her daughter. Queue prickling sensation behind the eyes on my part. Will she catch up with Danielle before she leaves 'The Square'?

Yes, she does. She calls out to Danielle and they turn and face each other. Oh it was charged with emotion, I can tell you. Tears started to roll slowly down my cheeks. Then Ronnie sobs "My Baby!" (I know, not so dramatic on paper) and that was it, floodgates open.
Oh! The long-awaited Happy Ending!! *sob*

But before they can be all lovey-dovey and together as a family (or as they say in the East End, a Faahm-lee), Janine (Jah-neeeeen!) careers around the corner in her sports car and knocks Danielle six feet in to the air.

No!no!nonononono! Surely not! Surely the ambulance will arrive! It has to! Where is the ambulance? Why is nobody calling 999? Please! Somebody take action! Jah-neeeeeen! Stop just standing there in shock and get your phone out!

I felt as though I was being dragged over emotional hot coals, watching Samantha Janus howl in agony as her long lost daughter died in her arms. I never cry this much over films, but then again, I have been watching Eastenders for a long while now (although I will tell other people that I 'have it on whilst I am doing other things' to cover my shame) and although there is a part of my brain that is saying "This isn't real, you know." I do tend to get attached to some of the characters. Some of the storylines are a bit pants, but every now and again they come up with an absolute corker and the acting is superb.

I cried similarly when Little Mo finally stood up to her wife-beating husband, Trevor, before lighting the fire that burned him to death in their house. I wish I could find that clip on YouTube so that I could cry with solidarity all over again.

There is a big part of me hoping and praying that Ronnie was mistaken.. that somehow the paramedics will manage to revive poor Danielle by tonight and make it all better. It could happen, couldn't it? I mean, Ronnie could be wrong, couldn't she? Maybe she's just unconscious! She didn't check properly for breathing or a pulse...

Fat chance.

I don't think I can take any more Eastenders. I can't handle the emotional turmoil, the suspense, the heartache.

Perhaps I should stick to programs that are easier to handle..... like the Pride of Britain awards....