Friday, 22 June 2012

Remember Summer Specials?

As I sit down, shivering and listening to the rain hammer down, I strangely find myself thinking about the old Summer Specials I used to read when I was a little girl. You may think that strange, but it is, of course, perfectly sensible and logical in my world.

You see, tonight is my last "school night" until August and after I get home from work tomorrow, I will be on holiday for a whole seven weeks. Not "holiday", holiday, but off work at least. I love having a term-time contract. 

When I was younger, I loved Jackie and Blue Jeans and especially loved the big summer special you used to get especially for the big drive up north for the holiday. In those days, it really was a big drive - 9 hours or so punctuated for my long-suffering parents with either me wanting to stop to throw up every half hour or so or my brother - more of whom later - wanting to stop for a pee at odd intervals but never at the same time as I was puking up at the side of the road. The big summer specials were meant to be the saviour of the journey, but what I have only realised in later life is that I can't actually read in a car without feeling sick, so that's that explained. I loved Jackie and Blue Jeans so much that I didn't even move on to Smash Hits when my friends did (or Melody maker and NME for my more adventurous best and oldest friend - more of whom also later) and really really got upset some years down the line when my dear mother bought me a copy of the Summer Special of some grown-up rubbish like Best or Bella and I finally had to accept that I wasn't really a young girl any more. I think I was about 32 at the time.

So why am I going on like this about "big" summer specials on a cold and rainy night? Simple, as it's been the end of term and really busy as usual, I have again had to hold off for two weeks in the one blog, thus this is effectively a big Summer Special. See, logic and sense reign supreme in my world.  I'll still do a weekly update through the summer, I promise. Therefore all you have just read was, at it's very heart, just a big bloody excuse for being lazy over the last few weeks.

So, plenty of news over the last few weeks.Most importantly, because I know you all need to know, I haven't found the drawing pin again and therefore am assuming it has completed it's journey unnoticed and without causing any damage. I have stopped being Gillian McKeith and checking for it and have put it all behind me. Pardon the pun. I do have a lingering worry about the next time I pass through airport security, but am trying not to think about it too much.

I have changed my diet, though, as I am planning ahead to the "holiday" holidays and have cut out midweek vino and chocolates. Well, mostly, at any rate. I really was finding it helped as I went to Boot Camp last week and did really, really well. By that I mean I got through the hour of hell and pain without throwing up, fainting or pulling anything. Siggy wasn't so fortunate last week. HE claims that he pulled a stomach muscle right at the start when his foot slipped on a setting up for press-ups and that is why he spent most of the hour holding his side and not managing most of the exercises. He then couldn't walk until Sunday - from Wednesday night for heaven's sake. What a woose. To be fair, he didn't start limping until Friday but by god did he make a meal of it. Unlike me this week. I wasn't feeling great and nearly didn't go, but I battled on and got through it without a word of complaint. And I still beat most of them in the sprints!

I had even been behaving quite well at work and karma seemed to be working it's way around for my good behaviour which meant I had resisted the urge to explode with an exorcist-like headspin. End of term can be like that and it hadn't helped that I had heard that part of our funding was being cut, had received a stupid anonymous complaint which meant we were inspected and I had had to call round a few future parents of the nursery to tell them they weren't going to get a place with us after all. Karma had rolled around by the complaint not being upheld and each of the parents being really kind and understanding. Funding was still cut, but two out of three ain't bad.

I had also got all the end of term reports on the children out and the councils ever-increasing bureaucracy taken care with more than a week to go, so I was rightly quite chuffed with myself.  So chuffed I took a night off to go and see Toni, who had been in quarantine for almost a week as her youngest had chickenpox. It had even stopped her going to the 5K we all ran the previous Sunday - another moan from Siggy.

We have different running styles. Siggy's is kind of a take it slow and easy style that gets him their in the end and he can keep going like that for ages. I prefer quick bursts of activity with rests in between - I was a sprinter after all - but Siggy cant do that. Once he's stopped, he cant get started again. He was therefore mega unhappy when he slowed down about 0.5 Km from the end to let me catch up so we could get over the line together (awww, I know) as I had taken another rest shortly before. It's not my fault that my natural instincts kicked in and I went off in a final flourish and finished ages before him!

Please note - the last paragraph was genuinely about the 5k. It was not a euphemism (although the analogy therein may be close to reality, if I'm honest).

On the Thursday, I even had time to take the night off from stupid bloody paperwork and had another night out at the cinema - a proper girly one with Toni and Phoebe. Not a girly chick flick, though, The Pact. Seriously scary and therefore should really have gone for the three handbag-size bottles of wine, but unfortunately I had to drive as Siggy, who was supposed to be at cubs and could therefore have run me there and back, had to work. Selfish sod.

Anyway, it was a good night even if none of the three of us are really that keen on scary movies. It was quite quiet when we arrived - sorry, until we arrived - and all of us kept saying, in a bit of a stage whisper, that we didn't really like scary movies. Oddly, most of the rest of the audience appeared to be mildly asthmatic, as we moved three different times before it started and every time we moved the people behind us seemed to have breathing problems, going by the huffs and puffs they were going through.

By the Friday, the house was on red alert for The Golden Wedding. My mum and dad were celebrating fifty glorious years of marriage and we were having a small do with just our family and my brothers family. Once I got over my 2am shock - I remembered suddenly that as we were all going away we would need to get Dappy watched overnight and bbm'd anyone I could think of to take her. Not the best idea at 2am, but it was only one I had at the time. Siggy got up the next morning, did what he calls "patient listening", then walked out of our bedroom, sat down at his desk, called the hotel and pronounced everything sorted as they took dogs. That was going to be my next idea, but I didn't like to spoil his little moment of glory.

For the record "patient" listening looks a lot like "switched off after the first three seconds because I've decided what my answer is already and I'm no longer" listening.

Anyway, we got sorted out in what has to have been some sort of record for us and arrived at the hotel only an hour later than planned and an incredible 15 minutes before the table was booked. We had to take both cars as we were leaving separately the next morning and when we got there there were two buses emptying out at the main reception. OMG - a school prom was arriving and Gordon, Peter and Donald were all doing pretty good impressions of those cartoon characters who instantly fall in love with their heat pounding out of their chest, eyes out on stalks and tongue lopping out to the floor . Well, maybe not the heart bit, but definitely eyes and tongue out. Siggy was the same, even if he does claim he was just shocked that there was actually that much fake tan available in the West of Scotland. I have to say I did think they looked more than a little ridiculous myself, but I didn't do quite as much inspecting of them as Siggy did, or Julian later.

Julian is what I have decided to call my brother. it was going to be Richard, as in Gere, but more for one of his earlier movies than the one I love where he's a hot millionaire picking up Julia Roberts (Siggy loves that one too, but not really for Richard). But then I thought sod it, we'll go the whole hog and just call him Julian. Just Google Richard Gere and Julian and I'm sure you'll see why.

Anyway, I love going out with Julian and his wife, Michelle. We have the kind of fantastic relationship that means we can not see each other for months and months, hardly even needing to talk on the phone or anything, but when we get together the chat and fun just flows. Of course, the wine also flowing tends to help. Siggy, Julian and the boys spent most of the early part of the night getting up and down from the table to keep tabs on the England game - all faithfully supporting whoever they were playing. I know it was Sweden, but they do all have a strict policy of supporting whoever plays against England, so it's easier to just remember it that way.

That's another thing - what is it with these Euros? So far, we have been supporting France, "because we're going there next month", Italy, "because we were there last summer", Germany, "because they'll probably win it", Spain, "because they will if Germany don't" and, eh, whoever is playing England. Whatever team they are supporting, it means night after night of football without any sign of anyone I've ever heard of. No wonder I drink. But not midweek.

Needless to say, the boys paying attention to the football meant that Michelle and I had a really good chat and even my mum switching into her Witter©™ mode couldn't dampen our chatter and nor could the copious amounts of wine. I think the tone was set when the gifts came out and ours were both vouchers from a well-known one of those voucher sites - I mentioned to Michelle there had been a few good offers recently including one for a pair of matching "adult" toys and I queried why you would need two. Michelle soon put me straight and explained "one might break." I was really pleased as I had been trying to work out where the second one went for over a week!

And so the night went on. Julian spent most of the night giving tips from the movie of his early life to Julian, whom he kept referring to as a man after his own heart. This worries me greatly. I should say here and now that Julian was what we used to call " a bit of a player". That all stopped the minute he met Michelle but the stories he could tell are just too much at times. We told him so several times when Siggy had to keep correcting the bits where he said "I must have been about 14 at the time" to "I must have been about 19 and a half at the time" in front of our 15 and 16 year olds. The biggest worry, though, was that there didnt seem to be a single play that Gordon didnt already know. And Gordon offered a few other ideas that even Julian hadn't considered!

We finished our meal and adjourned to the boys room as they had a family triple which had a nice sitting room bit. When we got there, we had a little champagne - as we could still walk and talk, it seemed a reasonable thing to do - and I noticed that both Julian and Gordon were missing. Siggy volunteered to go and look for them and it was then the penny dropped. Julian and Gordon were, of course, in the bar where, of course, there was the largest concentration of fake tan in the west of Scotland gathered for the evening. Gordon, I can understand. Julian, as so often over the years, I don't even try to understand.

Siggy "rescued" them, but only after being there for a while himself and, of course, getting in another round. Being dull and responsible, compared to the rest of us, Siggy took Scott back to our room as he had to get up early to take Gordon to work in the morning.

Michelle and I stayed on to finish our drinks and then headed to our own rooms. Sounds simple really, but not when our rooms were on a different floor and neither of us had paid much attention when we came in to what our room number was. After ten minutes or so of wandering giggling around the corridors, I eventually had to give in and BBMd Siggy, who replied that it was room 246.  As we still couldnt find it, he had to come out and find us to take me back to the room, perhaps just a little grumpily.

Next morning, though, he was really fine about and even said "don't worry, dear, it could happen to anyone and it's not like it was an easy, sequential number to remember or anything." Isn't he sweet sometimes?

Bugger. I've just done what you did and have read back up to see the number. Wait til I get a hold of the sarcastic git.

At any rate, we survived The Golden Wedding and the most important thing was that dad and Witter©™ had a great night reliving a lot of lovely memories with us all, whilst Siggy and I diverted one or two of Julian's stories involving what we got up to and what age we had gotten up to them at before the boys could work them out.

When I got back - having had my nails done in the spa first - I picked up Gordon at his work and went straight to the School fete Siggy, Peter and Scott were helping out at for the rugby club. It was really busy, even though it was cold and threatening to rain and I had to park a few streets away. When I got there, Siggy was outside at the front and Donald was showing off how pass and catch a rugby ball. Gordon joined them and immediately showed how not to pass and catch the ball, but he is really good coach and I know Siggy was pleased he could help out as he is great with the younger kids. I met Phoebe and chatted for a while about her holiday as she was going off on the Monday, then went in and had another chat with Toni, which was a mistake as Toni was the bingo caller and no-one in there is allowed to chat. God, some of these old biddies take that seriously, don't they? Toni - bright, bubbly, never-knew-she-had-a-volume-control Toni was barely recognisable as she called the number in muted monotones and only using the "proper" bingo rhymes for most of the numbers.

Getting cold and suspecting that I may be slightly hungover, and with only about half an hour left for the fete anyway, I told Siggy I was getting off home and I'd see him and the boys later and off I went to find my car.

Now, you have to remember here that when I got out of my car, I was in a wee bit of a rush, I had Gordon with me and I was parked about two streets away. Therefore, just like checking into a hotel the night before, I had no real need to be paying attention to things like landmarks or directions.

With ten minutes of the fete left, I trudged back into the school playground and told Siggy "I've lost the car." At least that's what I thought I had said, but clearly it came out as "I think the car must've been stolen, " as Siggy immediately looked really worried for all of about three seconds.

"What?" he said, slightly open-mouthed.

"I've lost the car" I repeated. This time he obviously heard properly, or perhaps heard what I should really have said, which was "I have no sense of direction, I'm a little hungover, Gordon was with me when I parked the car and I have absolutely no clue where the hell I parked it".

I know that's what he heard because, he just smiled, or maybe giggled ever so slightly and pointed to the street he has seen me walking down on my way in. It'll be somewhere over there," he said calmly, "That's the way you came in".

Now, it doesn't actually bother me that he might have giggled a bit. Or that he was right and I did find the car in that general direction. It doesn't even particularly bother me that I really don't have a great sense of direction. What really bothers me is that it only took him a few seconds - maximum - to dismiss the idea that the car was either stolen or impounded and to decide that I had just lost it again. Even worse than that was the fact the Gordon - and Peter and Donald and even 11-year old Scott - didn't even flinch or consider laughing. they're just too used to it I guess.

So, Sunday passed quietly, if you don't count Phoebe and Bobby coming round to borrow some audio books for their trips south the next day and them thereafter having to pack at 2 am because they had stayed a little longer than expected with us. I blame Siggy and Bobby as I had no intention of opening the third bottle of red, but they insisted. Anyway, I was almost in training for my holidays by then.

The start of this week has been relatively smooth too. I had one day out at a big council end-of-session meeting with no mishaps apart from the circling seagulls in the car park choosing to use Siggy's car for target practice. Honestly, he had only washed it on the Sunday (Fathers day, but he was  quite pleased at being able to walk again so had felt he should do something) and boy had the seagulls done a job on it. of course, the fact that the meeting was at one of the football stadiums in the city - and in Siggy's eyes completely the wrong one - was enough for the seagulls not to get the blame but, as far as he was concerned, it was a conspiracy plotted in the bowels of the stadium by "That wee ginger nyaff" of a manager.

The rest of the week has been spent on end-of-term treats for the children. Have you ever order McDonalds for 40 at 11am? You get less "Have a Nice Days" than normal when you do. And have you ever heard the way a magician can make common courtesy disappear when you tell him his booking was cancelled? Rude, silly man.

Today was the annual sob-fest that is the school awards ceremony. it was a bit funny this year as Siggy wasnt giving out the prizes for the first time in nine years as he was working and couldn't get away. Next year will be Scott - and therefore Siggy's - last year at primary, so I used it as a bit of a practice for the huge joy that will be. Remind me, though, not to take my dad and Witter©™  next year though. She Witter©™'s throughout, asking questions like "What's that prize for?" when the Headteacher has just spent five minutes explaining what the bloody prize is for or "Is that his teacher? She's awful young" when it's blindingly obvious that she is his teacher (and she does look young, but I and the other mums try not to admit that)  and various other remarks at high volume just when I'm trying to get all emotional. He just switches off his hearing aid, I'm sure of it!

Anyway, this morning will see the Nursery party, another sobfest but officially the start of my holidays. Can't wait and I have already been filling the diary with lunches with all my term-time working pals, much to Siggy's chagrin, which is an added bonus.

I have already started on the lunch round with an evening out with Harriet, my oldest and best friend and bridesmaid from nearly twenty years ago - did I mention it's my twentieth anniversary in August? Oh, all right, it's Siggy's too. Anyway. Harriet is the only one who can really remember the days of Jackie and Blue Jeans, even if she did abandon them for NME in her punk/art school phase. Now though, she has reinforced all the respect and love I have had for her over the years. After we had our meal, Siggy dropped into the pub on his way back from picking Scott up at Scouts and she chose that point in the conversation to mention that she has ordered some hand made shoes by getting a friend to Tweet a celeb and find out where she got her shoes! She didn't tell him the price, but she has now planted the seed in Siggy's head that hand made shoes are a reality and not just for outrageous celebs. Oh we don't go back all these years without having our own unwritten rules for twisting husbands around our fingers.

So good to nearly be on holiday. I might even go out and buy some Summer Specials.

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