Thursday 19 July 2012

50 Shades of Grey BT...or how I get my kicks without a broadband connection

So it's come to this...after yet another week without the Internet and fruitless calls to BT I am going to dangle with a dongle.
And yet again I have to remind you that not everything is about 50 Shades of Grey! Though I will admit sometimes it might be more exciting if it were...
Could you imagine if BT Broadband calls were along those lines?!She ponders as she bites her lip...
Best not to think about that, we'd never be able to get through and it's bad enough now.
So trying hard not to get hot heated on the telephone to BT as I am told that whatever happens they can only provide me with a 256 service (that's a quarter of a meg), I try one last desperate time to get the answer I want to hear...
"So what you're telling me is that if I want a halfway decent service I will have to move?"
"No, just that due to your location thats the best we can do..."
I bite my lip but because he cannot see me it doesnt work and however long I keep him holding on I know he won't change his mind.
"It's never going to work," I say with tears in my eyes.
"Not really, I could say it might but my hands are tied..."
"What if I bought my own cable?"
"We're very strict about that sort of thing."
Aha I think I am getting to him.
"But it could be done? A kind of compromise.."
Foolish girl, I know I had him but compromise just isn't in their dictionary. They only deal in exclusive relationships. I've blown it.
"No," he says emphatically. "We can only do what I have said."
I have nothing to lose now.
"So what if I went with someone else?"
"That's up to you of course but no one will be able to give you a better service whatever they say..."
It's true if I want to use cables and wires there's no one else who can do it better. No one else who's got it in all the right places, who can go further and deeper. No one else with better connections.
It's galling to think how dependant I am. I shake back my hair and bite my lip again. Determined to get away once and for all secretly knowing that in the end I will be back despite myself.
But for now I will say goodbye and with dignity.
"You a forcing me," I say with a catch in my voice. I don't like to be forced to do anything. "you give me no option I am going to go mobile."
There'd is genuine regret in his voice. "I am sorry we can't help you but you have to understand our position we really are tied."
I put the phone down.
That's it the end I think sorrowfully.
I pick up the phone again and dial...
"Hi this is 3G can I interest you in a dongle....?"
I bite my lip, this could be the answer to all my prayers...

Sunday 15 July 2012

It's just not cricket...

The Boy - Bowling
There’s something so very British about the sound of leather on willow – and no it’s got nothing to do with 50 Shades of Grey – it’s cricket on a sunny (yes it was sunny in our part of Suffolk yesterday) Saturday afternoon.
The grass had been freshly mowed and the scent was a perfect backdrop to the scene before my eyes; eight teams of perfectly turned out young cricketers, laughing, running about, clapping and gently cheering on their fellow team mates.
There were lots of: “Good Bowl!” “Marvellous catch!” “Super fielding!” “Excellent back up!”
It was so very civilised or at least that’s what I thought…
There were a few stalwart parents from our club at the Tourney for Under 9 Cricketers, gamely clapping and supporting our little team of 6 throughout the interminable matches that had been going on since 10 in the morning. It wasn’t too onerous, our boys had won every match played and we were through to the semi-finals.
Absolutely brilliant, especially as two players in the team had never played in a cricket tourney before and in fact had only just made it in to the team for the first time. The Boy being one.
The kids were keyed up; it looked very likely that they had a chance of winning. The anticipation around the ground grew as the semi-finals were played out. It was an unbelievable match, both teams neck and neck, not a ball could be given not a run let slip by. They got through.
It was great.
The finals.
We could win. And even if we didn’t it looked like a great game would ensue. I was really looking forward to it.That is until I saw the team we were up against.
And their supporters…
If I said we were outgunned, outnumbered and outclassed that would have been an understatement…
To our five supporters there were 40 of theirs en famille with picnics, chairs rugs and banners – yup banners.
It seemed out of place; it seemed so contrived. It was scary enough to us but what it would do to our little team, I dreaded.
Suddenly there was an air of danger. It was uncomfortable.
As for their team – I counted nine children. And some of them looked suspiciously big.
The match started but I could see that our coach was very unhappy and then the whispers began – some of the children playing on the other team were in Year 5 (10 year olds up against  kids under 9). Some of the children on the other team had not been playing every match but had been resting every other one so were of course much fresher than our little band who had played six matches on the go to get to the finals.
As supporters we muttered about how unfair that was and gradually became more and more silent with suppressed anger. The team faltered without our support and started to lose heart. Fielding became fumbled, batting mistakes were made.
To loud cheers from the other side it looked like we would sink without a trace.
But coaches the world over now in the face of utter annihilation the best thing to do is to fight on and pretend everything is OK and he made us clap and call out good fields and unlucky when the boys didn’t quite and the little team rallied and started to fight back. Every ball was chased down, the boys started working harder as a team than ever before they clicked properly and it was great to see.
But they still lost.
The matter was brought up with the organisers who at least apologised to our coach though not I noted to the boys themselves. It was out of his hands and too late to do anything about it anyway. The other team claimed they hadn’t realised they had done anything wrong though as I trotted past I overheard one of the mothers saying that all their best players were Under 10s and as there wasn’t an Under 10 tourney how else were her kids going to get to play if they didn’t play Under 9?
It was galling to see their team go up and get the trophy and have their photographs taken but as I said to The Boy: “Better to lose honourably than to win by cheating."
I don’t think it cut much ice and it left a rather sour note at the end of a lovely day. But I think as a team the boys will stick together bonded by their loss and the fact that they should have won if everyone had been playing by the rules.
"Cheating," said The Boy in the car on the way back home: "just isn’t cricket, Mummy."

Thursday 12 July 2012

Bringing up boys – I’m old but not THAT old!

“So did you do that in the olden days?”
The question just pops out while we watch a war movie on TV.
I look at him. “I know I’m old but I’m not THAT old you know.”
He looks at me blankly obviously not understanding a word that I have said and resumes watching TV.
After a while, he pipes up: “Well did you? Before you were a grown up?”
‘Olden days’ I fear is an elastic term in our household it can take in what happened only a few years ago before Bog Boy was born or it could go back to prehistoric times and lighting fires using flints.
And Grown-ups to Bog Boy are an amorphous blob. They are just grown-ups rather than people of differing or even different ages. It dawned on me that he may not be able to work out people’s ages just by looking and I got kinda scared. What if he thought  I looked just like MY Mum and that in fact he thought I was as old as her?
I had to ask if he thought Granny was older than Mummy or vice versa.
This is the same Granny who was only complaining suggesting at Christmas that I dye my hair to cover all the grey, not because she thought I would look better but because she felt she was too young to have a grey-headed daughter.
This is the same Granny who for the past thirty years has weighed less than her daughter – though having lost a whole bunch of weight I am now redressing that balance.
So this age issue takes on a certain amount of significance.
I wait with bated breath.
“Well you say you’re 21 and Granny has to be older than you because she’s your Mummy…..”
Oh what a relief!
“…So she must be 29….”
I think that’s a good an answer as any don’t you?

Tuesday 10 July 2012

Depression: Swimming like a Swan – the real me…

Swimming like a swan: serenity above, paddling like fuck below...

There is no one on this God’s earth who would ever describe me as swanlike. I am just not serene. I do not exude calmness. People look at me and I know they become unhinged and cannot cope.
Everything just happens to me and it looks like I’m drowning not waving. I’m the sort of person people rescue because they can, because by merely breathing I offend their sensibilities and the balance of their lives and they need to put me right.
And what must be the most frustrating thing, is that it looks like I get the lot, an easy life without ever doing anything for myself.
I am an invert swan.
Most people look in control and going forward with their lives while paddling like mad beneath the surface to stay afloat. I make a BIG song and dance routine and let it all flow around me because whatever the appearance the truth is in the lie.
I appear to be a pessimist. The world is doomed sort of person, the ohmygodeverythingisdreadful character, the whinger the whiner, the life is hell girl. I am sorry to say this is merely me paying lip service so that no one notices that actually I do know what I am doing, I have got it sussed and there is a plan.
I just don’t want to share it - OK.
I’m not saying that I don’t have my bad patches. I do. Cher-rist! I do have Depression you know and I do have days, weeks and even months when life really is HELL. Times when I have no idea how I’m going to get up in the morning and function like a human being until bedtime.
But the fact is I do.
I call upon people so that I do.
It is part of the plan.
It may not look very pretty but it works.
In fact it has worked for years.
But one must make compromises to get things done the way you want. I have to accept that people have a tendency to patronise me but I’m not proud. People with depression cannot afford to be proud; children are at stake here, family life is at stake here, friendships are at stake here, you name it - the lot.
If I said no thank you to the help I receive then I really would be in trouble. So I accept it; unsolicited or not. I swallow the pronouncements on how I should be living my life, rearing my children, losing weight, training my dogs, looking after my husband and any other myriad of things that people happily say I must, should or ought to do. I rarely offer my own advice without being asked to though I am sorely tempted.
I do get scared but I admit it and people help.
I do get tired I admit it and people help.
I do get in a muddle and I admit it and people help.
Is that wrong? Does that upset people? Why?
It’s the way I have to live my life, the way things get done around here. A person with depression as long lived as mine can have no pride because by doing so they will be destroyed and the fall out for others would be catastrophic.
I am no swan.
And frankly people who are just make life difficult for themselves. Having the moral highground is all very well but I bet it’s lonely up there!

Monday 9 July 2012

Bringing up boys: First sleepover do I call or not?

Bog Boy
So he’s gone and it is horrendously quiet here. In fact I didn’t realise how much space Bog Boy took up in my life until he went.
And now I am at a loose end and feel as though there is something I have forgotten to do – it isn’t a pleasant feeling.
And I am wondering about whether I should call or not.
To see if he’s OK.
To check that the family who are having him to stay haven’t actually changed their minds. If it is eerily silent here how much noisier must it be over there. Maybe they need rescuing?
There again it IS blissfully peaceful here - and that doesn’t happen often.
Not in the holidays.
The Boy has a mate over to stay but they don’t need me so I have all this unexpected time to do stuff and I don’t know what to do.
I am being drawn to the telephone.
I am hovering.
Should I just check?
A quick call.
Or would that just create a ruckus at that end.
Would that just be too humiliating for him – his mother checking his every move? A helicopeter mum permanently hovering over his head.
He’s only six so maybe he wouldn’t mind.
But what if - horrors of horrors - he’s been hating it and desperately wants to come home?
What if he is kicking up a fuss and they can’t wait to get rid of him given any excuse?
Tick Tock
Tick Tock
Think I’d better leave it until later, just after bedtime, then call to check. Can’t possibly be made to go and fetch him if he has been a monster and if he was really hating it I am sure they’d have called before now.
Sometimes it’s better, I suppose, to do too little than to hover about too much.
What do you think!?

Saturday 7 July 2012

The Trouble with Whippets or rather MY whippets is…

…that they get away with sheer murder.
OK, maybe not quite murder, but they do take the food from my children’s mouths given half a chance.
Take yesterday for example.
In the few brief hours of sunshine afforded we all trotted outside to eat supper al-fresco and so did the dogs milling around us like sharks under a lifeboat - eventually one is likely to drop. And they are waiting for just such a moment.
But nothing showing…
Now whippets are not blessed with big brains. I mean, come off it, have you seen how big their eyes are in comparison to their heads? There isn’t enough room for both optical nerves and brain in there. But what they may not have in IQ they certainly have in sheer effrontery and native cunning.
Tattie - her that has cost me a minor fortune in Vet bills this year after nearly dying on me a couple of months ago - takes it into her noggin to leap upon the table and make a bid for youngest son’s food.
This, of course, causes much hysteria and screams of laughter, then just screams and guess what? She achieves her aim.
And I let her.
In fact I do more than that - I actually photograph her doing it.

Tattie Whippet On The Table Sharking It...
Somewhere along the line our lives have become slightly skewed and the dogs are getting downright spoilt.
Maybe it is because they are whippets; for I can tell you having a Labrador on the table would really have pissed me off. For starters, Labradors tend to be clumsier than whippets especially on tables, they wag their tails and glasses go tumbling, crockery crashing and cutlery clattering. Whippets delicately negotiate their way around such obstacles like cats. And when whippets leap up they do it cleanly without any unnecessary scrabbling and hefting.
And they don’t drool.
I hasten to add I have nothing against Labradors; I’m just stating that I very much doubt that any Labrador owner would ever condone such behaviour from their dog for the reasons stated and the fact that a Labrador is just too intelligent and well-behaved to even consider such appalling conduct in the first place.
But as I have said a whippet doesn’t have much of a brain so I suppose that is why I tend to indulge them and any show of cleverness even if it is purely driven by its instinct for scavenging rather than any premeditated planning of its own.
Not quite sure what my boys think – but it’s good for them to realise that it’s a dog eat dog world out there and that if you don’t get on with your food there is always someone else who’ll snatch it from your plate when you aren’t looking…

Tattie Whippet On The Table Going In For The Kill...
 ... or even when you are!

Friday 6 July 2012

Land of Hope and Glory…

The shape of things to come – rain, rain and more rain!
It’s the first day of the holidays for me and it has been raining solidly for the past six hours. The prognosis for a happy outdoor summer (the only one at all possible for two overly active boys) is vanishing fast and their mother has retreated back to bed to view it all with a jaundiced eye, muttering darkly the words: “It was never like THIS when I was a child…”
As I lie here warm and dry in bed, I scamper lightly over the Internet searching vainly for a glimmer of sunshine, but however hard I peer, all I see is forecasts for rain.
The Met Office confirms my own thoughts about June - the wettest since records began in 1910.
No shit Sherlock!
But however much I read about it, however much I hear about it; there is a perverseness in the character of my countrymen that I hold true to; I don’t believe a word of it.
Come off it, if we really believed that all we’d be getting is grey skies, cold and rain, do you think, for one minute, that we’d carry on living here?
No, the sheer joy of being British, of living on this rain sodden island, is the fact that it MAY NOT rain in our little patch of England despite what the forecasters say.
I put it to you that the British are eternal optimists. A nation full of hope over adversity
We buy BBQs, strappy tops and flip flops bang on the dot of British Summer Time and dare the summer not to be as good as our memories make it, flying in the face of unpalatable truths.
(I feel a rousing British Anthem emerging from the background now: pomp and glory…)
Resolute we stand soaked to the skin as we eat our strawberries and cream, joyfully revelling in OUR summer and woe betide the Johnny Foreigner who says to us: “Gee is it always this wet?” as they huddle pathetically in the doorway at Harrods peering out into the interminable grey
We’ll drip quietly and look scornfully at them and their temerity.
“No, of course not, you should have been round in the Summer of 2007. Flash floods, whole towns cut off…”
Ah yes, the Summer of 2007, when Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire was totally cut off and flood waters seeped in to the Abbey for the first time in 247 years…
Maybe it’s not our stalwart stance in the face of adversity that makes us what we are, rather a collective amnesia about the weather, especially in the Summer…

Tuesday 3 July 2012

Bringing up boys: the problem with teachers is….

Thank God! It’s the end of term, or as near as dammit for me. No more having to deal with The Boy’s form teacher.
As far as I am concerned she has been a total nightmare. You know there are just some people you are never going to meet eye to eye with, well for me she was one and right from the start.
The Boy is in Year 4 and has issues as I call them. He’s clumsy, cack handed, behind, forgetful, easily distracted and prone to being bolshie for no apparent reason. He’s also keen to please, enthusiastic, loves getting stuck in, helpful, kind and loving. In effect a boy.
But throughout the year he’s not been good enough, he still, at the end of the summer term, cannot get his act together – as far as his teacher is concerned and do you know what I don’t actually believe that it is my son’s fault at all. In fact dare I say it I lay the blame at his teacher’s feet.
For the methods she’s used over the past year quite clearly have not worked in The Boy’s case, and I don’t understand why she cannot see this. I have been into numerous meetings with her and explained the problems or tried to at least and I get the feeling that she just wasn’t listening or couldn’t be bothered.
In the Autumn term I was told that he expressed the wrong attitude to learning, that he slumped about at his desk, wouldn’t follow directions and was frankly too babyish. I listened carefully and following his appalling effort grades duly bollocked him and told him to get a grip. But I wasn’t happy and clearly nor was The Boy.
He did try, he really tried terribly hard and the second half of term with me helping him do homework we got through to the end.
In the spring term I was called in again and basically told he same things, his effort grades were still appalling and I felt that his teacher wasn’t being fair. But I went along with her plan that he fixed a contract with the school. However when the contract was written out for The Boy the teachers wouldn’t listen to me when I said I thought it was very complicated, that the language used wasn’t simple enough, and that I felt he was going along with it just to please them without really understanding.
But hey I am only his mother and I was totally overruled.
I shook my head and felt that there was no way I could carry this one through it was far too damaging and as one would expect the contract fell by the wayside. I realised I had to investigate further.
So I took The Boy to test if he had dyslexia. There were strong indications that he did have it. I went back to his form teacher. It was agreed that he could have extra help but by the summer term they withdrew the help saying I had not done a proper Educational Psychologist report despite the fact that we were awaiting one.
So the poor lad had to do his exams without any help at all and as expected did dismally.
Finally we got the Educational Psychologist report and guess what – oh only that everything I had said about my son was right. 
I am at a fee paying school. I am lucky that I have enough money to force the issue in terms of getting my son tested without having to wait in a queue or argue the toss just to get a test done in the first place. But is was still bad enough for me. 
I couldn't believe how his form tecaher with all her experience and expertise couldn't be flexible enough to realise what was up with my son. It wasn't as if she had a massive class to cope with. Only 16 of them for heaven's sakes!
Throughout the year I was made to feel stupid and inferior for battling for my son, for taking his side. I was told that children make up all sorts of stories that they will say anything in order to get themsleves out of trouble.
Errr yes as a Mother I know this; I am not blind to the fact that my boys will push the issue, will try to squirm out of a tricky situation. I know this but I also know how to investigate further to get at what is really going on because I keep asking questions. I don't take anyhthing at face value; no mother of boys can!
So the real problem with teachers is that they forget that just sometimes mothers know our boys way better than their teachers, we know when something is not quite right. Perhaps teachers should listen more and remember that just sometimes MOTHER KNOWS BEST!

Go on you know you want to...


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