Sunday, 28 February 2010

Happy feet.....

 Sunday Morning and I'm scanning the Newspaper. I've never managed to lose the habit picked up when the kids were younger, of not actually reading the newspaper. Despite at one time having 3 kids under 5 years (apparently, a sure bet to send you to the funny farm, which may explain a lot) we still used to at least buy a newspaper on a Sunday. It is after all, one of the little pleasures at the end of a long week you can still afford when you are a parent. Isn't it? At one point we even had it delivered, under the massive illusion that we could lay in bed and read it. That was until we were presented with a bill from the Newsagents that would have paid for an Au Pair for a fortnight. Despite being abused of the misaprehension, we continued to buy the paper, flick through between feeds, changing, refereeing spats and playing with lego. I now seem unable to apply myself to it, feeling somehow, that something else should be taking up my time.

But what's this? An article on celebrities dressing their children in the same manner as themselves. Oh joy. Manna from heaven for an unreconstructed cynic as myself. I pour myself into it (it is only two pages of the supplement magazine and one of those is pictures of said celebrities and their offspring). I scoff , I scorn, I chuckle. The misguided fools, the dimwits, can't they see? They are stealing their childrens childhoods away with this folly. There  are the Beckhams (quelle surprise), the Holmes/Cruises, the Madonna's and rather disappointingly Jarvis Cocker. I comfort myself with the last that Mr Cocker is probably doing it in an 'ironic' way. Cocking a snoot at the madness of his famous peers.

I toss the magazine aside, feeling both pleased to have read a whole article and comforted by the fact that I, with my feet firmly planted earthwards, would never fall into such vainglorious behaviour. Its then that I notice my feet.

Well, not so much my feet, as what is on them. I'm wearing a pair of Converse, Chuck Taylor All-Stars. Signature black top with white sole, laces and badge. Pretty cool. Well I think they are....aren't they? Now I've had Converse before, back in the day. Back in the day for me, is the late 70's and early 80's. The time of Punk and New Wave and Thatcher's Britain (spit).The Geek and Miss Feisty wear Converse. The very same Converse that I now have on. And therein lies the rub (pun entirely intended). When I was their age (Geek is 16 Feisty 15) I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have wanted to be seen in the same anything as my parents. I remember at one point, badgering my Mother for a pair of Oxblood, 16 hole Doc Marten boots. All the other tyro football thugs (more of that another time) wore them and it seemed reasonable to me that I should have them also. She was duly despatched to purchase said boots, a detailed description having been repeated ad nauseum to her. What she returned with was the following. A pair of, what I can only describe as 'shit brown' boots , air wear soles admittedly, sporting not the legend, Dr Marten's, but something called, I kid you not, Major Domo. I'm not sure who Major Domo was, but I would have refused to follow into the mess hall, let alone battlefield. What I had in effect, was a pair of calf high, soft leather slippers with an air wear sole. Oh the hilarity that ensued everytime I wore them to a football match at my beloved West Ham. The point being, although the boots were so very wrong, it seemed only right, that my Mother could not 'get', what I wanted. It was the role of parents to misunderstand totally, their offspring. We didn't want them in our world and they didn't belong there.

It's not the first time the 'Converse' thing has occured to me. Geek and I both share a preference for close fitting, long sleeved T's. His admittedly hang a little better than mine. And Feisty and I both shop at the same vintage/retro clothes shops, much to her barely disguised irritation. Although she is not so irritated that she doesn't borrow my shirts. I comfort myself with the fact that I haven't started wearing 'skinny fit' drainpipe jeans.
So my smugness about celebrities is somewhat pyrrhic. They are not alone in encroaching on the world of their children.

It's always been said, that all three of the children have 'my feet'. It would seem, conversely, that I have their footwear.....

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

A Navigator on the road to nowhere...

Yesterday at work I was asked to write a 'Roadmap' for the company website.

A Roadmap? When did this particular piece of jargonese enter the lexicon? That Nice Mr Obama has one for peace in the middle east I believe. The fact that the 2nd most powerful person on the planet (I'd put that awful Mr Murdoch ahead of him because as they say, the pen, or printed word in this case, is mightier than the sword) has a Roadmap for something didn't make the request any easier for me to understand.

'Awaydad, write a report on where we should be going and what we should be doing and how' would have been clearer, but no, Roadmap it is. I was more than tempted to reach for a box of wax crayons and start scribbling furiously on an A1 sheet, stick figures representing all the employee's with a rather dashing, flaxon haired figure representing me somewhere at the centre.

Talking of jargon, it made me wonder if I should sign up to my least favourite piece of goobledegook to help me on my way. I get various e-mails each week asking me to attend 'webinars'! Even now writing it, I can feel a silent scream echoing through my head. I do imagine 'attending' one and being asked to make suggestions at the end to help them improve their service.

Yes, learn to speak in fucking English! Oh, and some biscuits would be nice.

Talking of silent screams reminds me. A couple of weeks ago Miss Feisty announced, rather wonderfully I thought, that she was writing a sitcom. This is wholly the kind of thing I applaud in my children. 'What shall it be dear Pater' I can't hear them ask, 'the triple science exam revision or the sitcom?'
'Why darling, the sitcom of course. You can't move for out of work scientists on the streets of South East London but aspiring writers are a rare and dying breed!'

She explained the general outline of it one evening in the family home. I was, as is usual, stirring something in a pot. If you follow this blog for any length of time, you'll notice I do a lot of that. Pot stirring. My cooking isn't bad, but tends to the more utilitarian side. I leave all my creative attributes for colouring in drawings at work.
Miss Feisty took the wooden spoon from me and stirred some. This fulfils two functions I believe. It allows us both to pretend she is helping, making me feel I am passing a useful skill onto my daughter and allows her to feel she has done enough to justify the money she extorts from me on a regular basis.

'The main character is called Miss Feisty and the other characters are called'...she named several of her friends, male and female, all of whom have parts with names that bare an uncanny resemblance to their own. 'its set in record shop, but they never sell anything and one of them lives in a cupboard and they are all incredibly rude to any customers that dare to enter'.

Despite feeling that several of the main plot devices may well have been 'borrowed' from other televised, but obviously, less well thought out sitcoms, I with-held my initial reservations.
There were enough subversive, perverse and darn right obscene incidentals she mentioned to make me feel she could work on the small matter of having plagiarised several well known and successful programmes. And so what if all the characters were playing themselves, it never seemed to do Jerry Seinfeld any harm.

I will continue to encourage this activity. To my mind its much more useful than some of the gumph she is taught but has no interest in whatsoever.

Maybe if I lend her my crayons she could help me and Mr Obama......

Monday, 22 February 2010

Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes.......

Mondays are an odd day. For one, it is the re-engagement with the working week (for me at least), with all that entails. I'll bore you some other time with work stories. It is also the day that I 'pop-in' on the kids.

How we, that is my ex and I, came to this arrangement I'm not sure. The Geeks homework has something to do with it I know, but it has now become a regular thing, even if he doesn't need my 'help'.

I'm lucky in the respect that, there are little or in fact, no restrictions to access as far as the children are concerned. My separated other (I'll find a better name for her, she deserves that at the very least) believes strongly that Children need their fathers. There are no formal arrangements in place and we try to work with each other making sure that if one of us isn't available at the end of a day or over a weekend, the other will be there to tend to their many and varying needs.

Tonight's visit consisted of an hour sat chatting to the boys while we waited for Miss Feisty to return from the hairdressers. The Dude looks like he hasn't showered all weekend, nothing unusual there. While the Geek appears more concerned with various gig tickets and CD's he has acquired than his photography coursework. Although my relationship with his Mother is fine, I can see his detiorating rapidly if he doesn't pull his finger out. Another unwritten rule is, she deals with the photography while I work on the Film studies and music. Our chosen 'specialist subjects'.

Miss Feisty has had her hair shorn. Think Agyness Deyn (if you know her?) and you're almost all the way there.Its quite a major departure from the head of straightened curls she has been sporting of late and my suspicion is that such a drastic change is in lieu of the piercing she wants, but her mother doesn't. More trouble afoot methinks....

We talked over their regular Wednesday night visit to me. Bolagnese was offered and accepted and with it, the ritual of 'dippy bread'. This consists of tearing off hunks of crusty bread and dipping it into the bubbling sauce, pre-meal.
It features ever so momentarily in The Godfather, a film I love and now, my children do too. We even quote lines from the movie to each other when in the mood. Its one of those small, almost imperceptible habits you form. It has always been 'my thing' with the kids. I love the feeling of being gathered around the pot, chatting about everything and nothing, the detritus of all our days being sloughed off. It also allows me to play the patriarch.One I'm sure my friends, let alone my kids would recognise well!

I'm glad we have been able to sustain these small rituals, they ground me and bind us together. They give at least a semblance of stability to the fractured life my children are coping with.

I just wonder how The Mafia cope with bad sloppy personal hygiene, rebellious daughters and undone homework?

Anyone wanna make me an offer I can't refuse......

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Reasons to be cheerful..

Summer, Buddy Holly, the working folly, Good Golly Miss Molly and Boats...

Not unlike Ian Dury, I find much that makes me smile. But nothing matches the pleasure I get from My kids. That's not to say that they don't cause me a fair bit of anguish also but that's the lot of parents, including the away one.

They are in descending order of age, The Geek (one of his own descriptions), Miss Feisty (I think she'd be pleased with that) and The Dude. Each of these 'pet names' does something to describe each of them but fails wildly to encompass them fully.

They have each, in their own way, inherited many of my traits and enthusiasms, along with those of their Mother. They are all, also, uniquely their own people, in the way that children are.
I'll endeavour to chronicle my relationship with them in a way that's thruthful and fair to them.

A while back, in a fit of that enthusiasm that parents are often gripped by, I attempted to teach 'The Dude' (He is 12, wants to be 12 and would probably like to stay 12) how to cook his own breakfast. I called him into the kitchen to explain to him. He gave me that 'why are you bothering when you know you will lose heart with this exercise once you realise I will never wash up after myself, never clear my plate away and always burn the bacon' look but humoured me anyway.

'OK' I said, smiling maniacally, 'first we need to get the pans and ingredients together', reasoning that if everything was at least out it would lesson the stress of the whole thing.

'Where do we keep the bacon?' I asked.

He looked dreamily into space with what I assume was a look of concentration, but could have been him in a reverie about the status of his team in FIFA2009.

'In the cupboard'?

I tried desperately not to raise my eyes in exasperation.

'Lets try the fridge' I reasoned through a grimace.

He went to the fridge and performed what I call, 'Boy looking'. That is, with the Bacon at eye level in front of him, he stared through it and everything else before closing the fridge door without locating the bacon.

This was repeated several times with all ingredients and utensils.

It is an immutable fact of life, that if you ask 'The Dude' to do anything, he will suddenly discover the need to visit the bathroom or 'just finish what I'm doing' or any other diversionary tactic he can employ. He is a master at it. He once took 20 minutes to remove an exercise book from the school bag situated at his feet when asked to complete a piece of homework that eventually took 5 minutes to do.

Suffice to say he hasn't cooked breakfast in over a year since this truely foolhardy attempt of mine.

He is to my mind, the sunniest, easy going and charming child I know. He sees the good in everything and everyone and gives and recieves love with equal ease.

I don't live with my kids. I miss them on a daily basis. The hardest thing to get used to when I left the family home was their absense first thing in the morning. On school days as in most family homes, the day starts in a flurry of rush and grumpiness as everyone lifts themselves to another day of school or work. Often, there would be little said and what was said was through gritted teeth of all trying to drag themselves to places they would rather not be.

I have to say, I never realised how much I would miss that.


Today I will start my novel....

...and other half truths.

I do mean to, really. But in the mean time, while you wait for that magnum opus, try reading this. I will aspire to be as interesting, informative and witty as this blog.

Who, where,why, what?

A blog?, no one has said to me.

A blog. Another self regarding ramble through the thoughts of who?

Who? Me. How do I describe myself? Seperated Father and Husband? Fearless persuer of the Batchelor life? Another fucked up 40something? Take your pick of those or any other you care to choose. I'll try not to care, but secretly will....

Where? London UK. Catford to be precise for those of you that know our fair city.

Why? That may be answered in the fullness of time but for now, just to express myself and hope that some of it strikes a chord, good or bad, in others.

What? Well thats simple. Already answered above. This will be anything that crosses my mind, be it my family and relationships (you can bet they will be covered in depth). My work life or my ill thought out discursions into any topic that takes my fancy.

I'll try to be truthful but may 'gloss' things up a bit at times. But feel free to take me to task, my glossing is as good as my DIY and thats pretty awful!

It's Sunday. I still view it as a day of rest and remember with some fondness back to the time of few shops being open and not much to do. My first action of the day was to check who had been on Facebook. I chide myself for this. You can too if you wish, but like many others, I've become an addict of the silly forum. I post lots of music on my page, trying to impress with my wide musical tastes and occasionally, post the odd Status update. It's usually a quote meant to give some vague impression of my mood at the time. This quite often doesn't work. How can people thousands of miles away or even around the corner ascertain your mood from a shakesperean quote. They may sometimes feel I'm about to murder someone close to me. Often its just a blunt statement about my mood. They don't last long. The sense of the irrationality overtakes me quickly and they get deleted. Always.

Today I was hoping to spend some time with my youngest Son. When I called I was told he has a friend coming round to play. This is often the way with the 'Away Parent'. You may feel it's important to keep that bond with your children as often as possible but, you have to accept, that at times, a 3 hour stint playing FIFA 2010 with a friend is a much bigger draw than sitting in your dads' flat watching DVD's. It leaves a bitter taste in the mouth, this knowledge. But I'm not so divorced from life that I don't understand and accept.

So I content myself with this. Cosi fan Tutti plays in the background. It could easily be Elvis Costello, I don't want to give the impression I'm anything near highbrow. Soon I'll be watching football on TV. What a wild and varied life......

Now to get this into 'cyberspace' before I write more (or watch the football). If anyone finds this, please feel free to comment. I'll promise to try and make it more interesting but can't promise.