Bring it all back home ….Day 1

We are on our jolly holidays – so this blog may be in bits and not all of them in a logical sequence – but that kind of sums up our families –  so fairly apt  really.

This week we are mostly in Hamble (or Hamble-le-Rice according to the signposts – nothing to do with risotto or pudding with a claggy skin – the rice is olde Englishe for Rise – so Hamble on the Hill really).  This area forms a link for Lovely Hub and I – we both spent (or misspent in my case) some of our formative years stomping around Hamble. Lovely Hub went to senior school here, and I wasted a couple of summers chasing (and sometimes catching) charming , suntanned grotty yachties with tumbled blonde curls and names like Giles, Piers and Jonty – usually coupled with at least two barrels of a surname.  Set on the Solent, for us it is a very special place.

We are just up the road from Hub’s parents and within easy visiting distance of the rest of the family.  Should you be interested, the house we are renting is on the market for £630,000 and is described as a ‘crewhouse’.  Ideal for housing international yachties and powerboat racers when they come here for Cowes week and all the other wet things that go on in this part of the world.  On a small and very select private estate of Art Deco bungalows built in the 1930s  – so posh that Hub and I didn’t even know it existed until we decided to rent it for a week.

As I know from said misspent youth, Hamble is a village designed for the the athletic pub crawler; you start at Ye Olde Whyte Harte, via the King and Queen and fetch up at The Bugle – there are others but this is a logical line for the inebriated sailor.

Before we even got here we had a mission to accomplish however.  A friend from way back moved to a village outside Oxford quite a few years ago and on another trip down South we had popped in to see her and her family – our two boys and her two boys were of a similar age and naturally hostile.  Hub and I had a nice time though.  We keep in touch and send birthday and Christmas cards and as she is one of our favourite people, we decided that the boys had matured sufficiently for another visit en route.

Lovely Hub brought cold meat and stuff to nibble; the boys and I decided to trust our luck to the motorway services.  Fools.  We pulled up at the M6 Toll services and were greeted with a burger place that didn’t bear either of the fast food names we were used to.  College Boy declined – he distrusts the unknown, but Uni Boy and I tested it out.  Overdone burgers, flaccid fries and totally charmless serving staff.  We won’t get fooled again.

The traffic was horrendous and so was the weather; torrential rain and forked lightning – very, very frightening (well, not really as Hub and I both like thunderstorms).  It slowed us down a fair bit though and we were already running rather late.  We were supposed to leave at 0900 hrs when I finished work but it was 1215 before we finally really hit the motorway.

Once we got to our friend’s house it was a great visit.  All four boys were bigger and more sociable.  If you listened to College Boy you would be under the impression that the planned hour-long visit (which stretched to two with no effort at all) was spent picking on him but he took most of it in good part – I thought.  He patted me on the head at one point and I flicked my hand out to brush him away and accidentally (no, honestly) caught his lip – so silly to put his face so close to my hand!  No blood – just a bit of localised swelling and a guilty Mum.

By the time we hit the road again College Boy was beyond reason he was so hungry.  I found him a BK in Newbury and once he had the food in his hands he let us have it – with both barrels – apparently we had conspired to starve and humiliate him and he hated all three of us.  He gets like that when he’s hungry.  We bailed and hit Sainburys, giving us a chance to stock up on some essentials and him the opportunity to demolish his burger (no bun or fries – he’s off carbs this week – another reason for being so grumpy).

The nice lady that owns this house was actually staying in the one-bedroom annexe attached to it; so she didn’t have far to go to let us in – just as well as I had arranged for us to be here late afternoon/early evening and we rattled in around 2030 hrs.  The house was as big, airy and well-equipped as we’d been led to believe from the photographs, and once all the bedrooms were allotted and luggage lugged in, Hub and CB went off to kill some kebabs.

Back twenty-five years when Lovely Hub and I first got together we used to get our kebabs from a shop in town called Zorbas.  It was (and still is) owned by a chap called John who came from Iran and who I knew by sight from my ‘A’ level sojourn at the local Tech.  Whenever we come home we have to make at least one pilgrimage to Zorbas; they have the best chilli sauce and all four of us will very happily bunch through a couple of trays of their  green chillies.  Sometimes John is there and he greets us like long-lost family.  So good to be back home again.

By the time my hunter-gatherers had returned with their kill, Uni Boy and I had unpacked (a little) and set up the laptops (yay for wifi).  After stopping to feed and drink (hard, cloudy cider – we really are home), we finally managed to stow everything away before midnight.  It was dark when we arrived so we didn’t get to see much of the outside of the building but decided to save that as a nice surprise for the next morning.  The TVs worked, the wifi worked (slow but constant at least) and the boys had stopped bickering.  Even the bed wasn’t too squashy.

Falling – definitely without style or grace

The battle with TMA 05 continues but will be completed this weekend.  I have decreed it and in all honesty its only a matter of the introduction, discussion and abstract to do now – piece of cake.  Life has an extraordinary habit of getting in the way and skewing my results however.

Monday brought its small triumphs – the heinous crime me and my musketeers had been accused of committing on Friday morning was blown out of the water by Friday afternoon – due to the fact that my OC-ness makes me file things in a multitude of Outlook folders – and on Friday afternoon I found the piece of evidence that was our vindication.

Unable to crow on Monday however because our accuser was out for the day – a small compensation was that I copied the world and his wife into the email containing our evidence and the big boss at least, knew we were innocent.

So on Tuesday morning I got up, trudged around the kitchen in peaceful solitude whilst the rest of the household slept, then, with my hands full of breakfast and packed lunch-making paraphernalia, tripped over College Boy’s very expensive football boots (electric blue – I almost covet them), did a far from elegant triple salko with twists and ended up in a heap on the floor – wailing.

Lovely Hub was at my side within moments – as was Uni Boy – who had been so absolutely terrified by my animalistic screechings that he actually got out of bed (before three pm) to see what was wrong. In unison they were pleading with me to wiggle my toes and fingers – what?  I’m lying here in a distressed heap, winded, shocked and more than a little embarrassed and you want me to wiggle things!

Of course, as the shock of it all ebbed away I realised why I needed to wiggle my appendages and did so with aplomb – phew – nothing broken.  I managed to get to my feet unaided – in an effort to regain some small shred of dignity – and surveyed the damage.

The container of milk was intact, as were the tomatoes and I didn’t even squash the bread rolls or break the plastic butter carton.  I bore the brunt of the fall; my right knee made contact with the coir doormat ‘Please wipe your paws’ indeed! Spectacular gravel rash  and the promise of mega bruises to come.  My elbow hit the ground second; more gravel rash and the imprint of the skirting board half-way up my arm – mo’ bruising.

My first instinct was to go back to bed and whimper pathetically.  No one likes falling over.  It’s that feeling of being out of control and watching everything dissolve into slow motion before your very eyes.  Uni Boy was very upset by it however and the old maternal instinct kicked in – ‘I’m fine – honestly – no bones broken – just a bit of blood and some bruises – I really am fine’  – she lied.

Lovely Hub – who after twenty-five years knows me best – looked at me with that sideways sceptical look and agreed that I needed to keep moving about – going to bed all day sounded good but I’d feel worse for it and would be even more whingy.

After cleaning my wounds with the antiseptic wipes bought for the  paintball weekend (and never used) – they stung and many rude words were said that shocked the baby Jesus (sorry Auntie P – I lied when I said that I didn’t swear – I did – a lot.),  I put my brave face on and after promising not to walk around the kitchen with both hands full, went back to making my packed lunch and breakfast. All three of us kicked College Boy’s football boots out of the kitchen trade route (please don’t tell him).

After showing my wounds off to my work chums, I was summoned into the office of he-who-thinks-he-should-be-obeyed-but-I-remember-when-he-was-just-one-of-my-support-workers-and-I-had-to-tell-him-everything.  He apologised for the fact that his office smelled of damp (I’d put it down to him and a poorly dried shirt actually).  I flashed my wounds in an effort to engender sympathy and lessen the impact of the inevitable telling-off that was to come.

“You know why you’re here.”

Ha!  You won’t catch me with that one.  I have already mentally run through my past week of sins, lack of respect for senior staff and inappropriate comments, and you will have to use the thumb screws – or even the Iron Maiden – to get me to admit to anything.

“The email you sent out on Friday?” he reminds me after catching sight of my deliberately blank expression.

“Oh. Yes?” I smile sweetly but innocence is not a natural expression for this face.

Turns out  – of course – that he knew all along that we had not transgressed – he was just making sure.  Yeah right.  It really felt like that on Friday morning when we were being threatened with an Ombudsman’s inquiry and made to feel incompetent in front of the rest of the office.

I listened and promised to go back and appease my chums – he promised to send us an apologetic email (oh wow).  I fled to my meeting; the main reason for dragging my pain-wracked body into work.  No, honestly it really did hurt.

Whilst limping down the corridor I almost bumped into one of our occupational therapists.  I didn’t fall this time but after he’d finished sniggering at my gravel rash (are you sure they aren’t carpet burns?) he gave me the obligatory OT falls prevention lecture –  “Always leave one hand free to break your fall’ – in my case I would probably have broken my wrist instead. It’s quite a boon being ambidextrous but I really don’t write as well with my left hand and there are other things which I won’t go into, which might have proved awkward if done with the left hand.

College Boy was up when I got home from work that evening.  He didn’t leave his football boos in the middle of the kitchen floor  of course – someone ELSE must have – and anyway – shouldn’t I have been looking where I was going in the first place? Sigh – I knew this was going to be ALL my fault in the end.

Still – I got takeaway, the night off from studying, a visit from my lovely friend L and a pack of melolin dressings to protect my poor knee and elbow.

The theme of violence has continued on this week.  Hub and I had to call the rozzers on 999 on Wednesday.  Two thugs and a dog were giving it large to another unfortunate youth as we drove home from work – there was blood and the odds didn’t look good.  I did the phoning and Hub did the numerical remembering (car reg of the female who picked up the wounded warrior).

I managed to give a reasonable description of the thugs (aided by the fact that we turned the car round and followed them once we knew the victim had escaped) – all that stuff we’ve done on eye-witness testimony in Cog Psych came in quite handy.  They ‘made’ us though and on the advice of the rozzer on the phone, we did a Gene Hunt-style U-turn and got the flock out of there.

Today has been ‘A’ and ‘AS’ level results day.  College Boy and I managed a full and frank discussion for all of five minutes before it deteriorated into the blame game he had prepared if he didn’t do well:

– the dreaded quinsy – five bouts of tonsilitis in a year – one requiring IV antibiotics and the rest being ‘cured’ by gargling with vodka – don’t ask.

– the hatred of Tweedledumb and Tweedledumber  – his psychology and sociology ‘teachers’

– the hardness of chemistry and physics  – ‘ no one told me it would be this difficult’ – yeah – Uni Boy did but you wouldn’t listen to him

I added a couple of my own:

– arrogance is not a replacement for knowledge – bit of the old ‘overconfidence’ effect creeping in there

– laziness and sitting in front of your computer killing people (virtually) doesn’t help you to revise – no – really – it doesn’t.

– but he has also lost his granddad, and had two parents who have been distracted by their own grief and the  business of  sorting out the estate

We took him to get his results this morning – he was jittery and we weren’t allowed to say anything that might upset him because he was STRESSED!  I got yelled at for the controversial ‘Would you like a lift down to College this morning?”

“Of course I want a lift!  You don’t expect me to WALK there do you?  It’s RESULTS DAY!”

We waited in the car  and my heart went out to the pretty red-headed girl who had her results and wished she hadn’t.  She was sitting on the wall and sobbing and I so wanted to go and give her a Mumhug but Lovely Hub persuaded me not to in case College Boy saw and it made him embarrassed as well as stressed..

College Boy came back – no smiles – and a muttered “Didn’t do too well” as he handed the results slip to his dad through the open car window.

In the words of Maureen Lipman’s Beattie “Well at least you’ve got a ‘ology.” Sociology – taught by Tweedledumber – his most hated teacher.  The other results were U – U for unlovely, unwanted, unwelcome  and ungraded.  Looking more closely at the results, he was close.  If he’d only bothered to revise a little, he would have passed.

If College will have him, he’s decided to repeat the first year but probably drop physics.  He knows we will support him – always – unless he gives up and goes on the dole in which case there may be some metaphorical arse-kicking from Mum and Dad.

He went out on the razz with his college mates this afternoon – told us it was an all-nighter and he’d see us in the morning.  We said okay – he’s not good at hiding disappointment – no point in being confrontational and rubbing salt into his wounds.

Lovely Hub went off to work on a night shift and I stayed home – both of us worried about our roaring boy being out all night.

He texted me at twenty-two thirty ‘home in an hour’.  I texted him back, turned on the outside lights, unlocked the back door and waited.  He was home in an hour; floridly sunburnt, loud from imbibing cider and defiantly waiting for a lecture that I didn’t give.  He tried to get a rise out of Uni Boy – but I’d already primed him about the results and not rubbing it in.

My baby boy is in bed now – all six-foot of him.   I can ease his sunburn and offer him water to rehydrate but I can’t change his exam results.  I wish I could take the pain of disappointment away but I can’t and I shouldn’t.  He will learn – sooner or later, but I love him and his pain  hurts me worse than the gravel rash and bruises could ever do.

Here’s hoping we have better news this time next year.















Wild,Wild Life

Drouth (Anon)

‘Oh Western wind when wilt thou blow, that the small rain down can rain?

Christ, that my love were in my arms, and I in my bed again.’

Lovely Hub brought me a big mug especially for Uni, it says –  ‘I’d rather be in bed’

So I’ve spent nine years studying with the  Open University and always managed to avoid residential courses. I’m glad to have participated in this one but didn’t realise just how much I’d miss Lovely Hub and the boys.  I’ve been at Nottingham Uni since Saturday and it’s now the early hours of Thursday morning.  I have finally extricated myself from the pirate party  – which has had its highs and lows.

It doesn’t help that at this time of night only the hard core are left and they divide up into the young, free and single ones who are angling to get off with each other, the party animals, those seeking to regain their lost youth and those, who like me, have families at home and have no desire to spend the rest of the night groping sweatishly with someone that you won’t be able to look in the eye in the morning.  (My conscience is clear I have only bestowed maternal hugs on my very favourite people).

Hub and I have been texting for the past hour or so – he’s on a night shift and is relieved to find that I am safely back in my room knocking back the San Pellegrino to dilute my alcohol intake  and blogging tearily whilst my lappy sings ‘Building a Bridge to my Heart’.’

Residential school has been good.  I have met some fabulous people;  a couple of the tutors are rather up themselves but the majority are delightfully eccentric – or just delightful. There are definitely some people that I’d like to keep in contact especially my lovely partner L who had to leave today because work called her away.  We had a great time working on the project together and our tutor, although this was only his first residential school (and I’m definitely old enough to be his mother) has been incredibly supportive and has almost awakened a desire in me to do statistics – Argh! Hold that thought.

Time passes …..

I started this blog but I didn’t finish it due to pressure of work  on the project – a hard, hard life as well as a wild, wild one.  It’s over a week later and this is the first chance I’ve had to finish this blog  – I’m blaming lack of blood in the alcohol stream and a carb-heavy diet that has left me sluggish and unresponsive all week.  I still have to write up the project and – for my own warped satisfaction only – run the stats programme all on my own to ensure veracity.  I must be mad.

I was given ‘a village idiot’s guide to doing  2×2 Mixed ANOVA’ by me (residential) tutor – and when I read it last night I actually understood (some of) it. Maybe these old brain cells still have some life left in them.  Mission may not be Impossible after all.

No regrets about doing the residential school now,  just saddened to hear that Lovely Hub felt that life was suspended whilst I was away.  Feel very humbled by this and will do my best not to run off again.  Knowing that he missed me so much is an added incentive to lose weight, get fit and hang around for many years to come.   I missed my men too though, and it was only the fact that I was kept so busy, stopped me drooping into the doldrums, especially late at night when all the fun and alcohol had dried up and every bone in my body was wanting to be home.

Enough of all that; once the food shopping was accomplished and my neglected sons were replete (hands up anyone who thinks they starved whilst I was away – No? – didn’t think so) Lovely Hub and I had time to hit the seaside at Crosby, eat ice creams in the sunshine and drive home through a belter of a thunderstorm.  We also managed to take the boys out to dinner (good old Nandos) and actually get through a meal without major domestic trauma.  The situation deteriorated rapidly when we hit Tesco for a spot of late night shopping – so let’s not go there.

Back to work on Monday and at least a day of trying to remember what the hell I do for a living.  It is gradually trickling back so I guess the cocktails I was drinking last Tuesday night didn’t kill  off that many brain cells.  It’s good to be back with my team – even if we are slightly depleted due to holidays and stuff.  I enjoyed being a student last week but I enjoy being a worker more – except for when my path crosses that of the terminally arrogant and dim who blight our lives by being jobsworths.

Ah, but I’ve only a couple of weeks at work before we take off down South to visit family and friends, especially those who couldn’t make it to the funeral.  It will be good to be back in the bosom of the family and to smell the salt air again.  There was a time when I was at college in landlocked Brum and I used to take jars of seawater back with me for a sneaky sniff whenever I got homesick.  Until the day my Mum phoned me at college in a tizzy because they’d discovered typhoid or something horrible in the water.  After that,  a crowd of us sea-siders had to content ourselves with sitting around Edgbaston reservoir making mournful foghorn noises and wishing we were home.

So, no more prevarication  – me tutor has sent me an email with stat-speak in it and after all his efforts at kick-starting my brain – I will not let him  (or myself ) down.  One more essay and the exam after this and the Psych degree will be mine! (I hope).  A final course starting in October on Crime and Justice and the Criminology degree will be mine next  year.  Toying with the idea of doing an online masters in Forensic Psych with Liverpool Uni – but I promised Lovely Hub that I’d take a break from studying and spend more time running wild with him.  Now there’s a happy thought for the future.

Bring on those stats!