No Breathing In Class

Poetry meme day number three, courtesy of Keith at Zen Mischief

Hanging in there on the home front. All is well, just mad, mad, mad end of academic year, end of term busy.

Have Michael Rosen’s poem, Strict.  It’s one of my favourites.

She Started To Cut Her Husband’s Hair

Today is the second day of my poetry meme as started by my good friend Keith over at Zen Mischief.

I know I have yet to tell you about London, but it will have to wait until I have less to do in real life than I have to do in my virtual life.

So instead of me telling you about my life and times, enjoy this  poem by my fabulous friend Toby Campion.  He was recently voted runner up in this year’s Poetry Slam at The Roundhouse in Camden.

I know I’m biased, but he should totally have won.

He was robbed.

This poem makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, and no matter how many times I watch/listen to it, I always get a lump in my throat.

If you love it as much as I do, please feel free to pass it on in whatever way you see fit to as many people as possible. He deserves to be a huge star.


Spring Cleaning

I had an amazing day in London yesterday. Amazing.  The sun shone, the lark was on the wing, and my friend Shami and I did many glorious things.  I will share those glorious things with you in later posts, as mostly today I am getting over a stonkingly awful migraine which developed with lightning speed on our journey back from London last night.  Luckily I wasn’t driving, as it was such a bolt out of the blue I had no time to treat it before I was violently ill, over and over again.

Poor Shami has now seen every motorway services on the M1 between London and Leicester, and the car park of Sainsburys’ at Fosse park being covered in vomit.

She did a splendid job of getting me home in one piece, and Jason and Tilly did a splendid job thereafter of looking after me until such time as I was able to raise my head without wanting to chop it off. I am now in that hangover stage that means everything is an effort, and all today’s jobs other than breathing have been cancelled until tomorrow.

My friend Keith over at Zen Mischief has sent me this meme, to post four poems on four consecutive days.  I can just about manage that today.

I’ve probably posted this before but it is just so lovely.  Here’s a video of Jean Binta Breeze reading her poem: Spring Cleaning

I’m not sure why it’s not embedding as a video clip, but it’s there if you click through. Technology fail.

Brain fail.

I’m not nominating anyone, but if you want to take part in the meme, please do, and leave me a link in the comments box.

Bread and Circuses

It is very late. I have to get up very early. This is alright because I am getting up very early to do another of my sporadic running away to London days. These days are actually clustering at the moment, and by next Saturday I will be doing my third running away to London day in a week.


Despite it being very late and me having to get up very early I still feel compelled to clutter up the blogosphere with not much of anything at all.

In no particular order.

Derek caught a frog this evening, which she released excitedly under the Chaise Longue of Death (TM) when she realised that a mouthful of frog tastes just about as disgusting as you would imagine.  It leapt off into a corner and Derek and I spent an exciting ten minutes playing hunt the frog thereafter.

Derek found it first, and I found it next by following Derek and the pitiful squeaks the frog was emitting every time Derek poked the frog.

I released the frog back into the wild, thinking of St. Francis of Assisi and how this would be bound to garner me Brownie points somewhere with someone.

Derek ran around the house for the next forty minutes worrying at the legs of the Chaise Longue of Death (TM) in the manner of a terrier intent on disembowelling a rat.

She is now flopped out on the landing, exhausted by her efforts and depressed by her frogless state.

Oscar has a blister on his foot.  As he is a true hypochondriac he decided he might be paralysed, and came running over to tell me. This confirmed my diagnosis that he was merely being a raging hypochondriac.  He refused to acknowledge the family-wide lack of sympathy for his plight, found an old walking stick from the dressing up box, and proceeded to hobble around, sighing dramatically, until right about the time that Tilly and he crashed into each other and he hurt his knee, and had other things to think about.

None of which were taken seriously either.

I applied the traditional homeopathic remedy of a chocolate Hob Nob and a few unsympathetic words.  It worked a treat.

Ten minutes later, when he thought nobody was looking, he was sproinging around on the trampoline.

Tallulah has decided to become a beauty Vlogger.  She spends endless hours rearranging what little make up she owns, watching other beauty Vloggers and filming herself being a beauty Vlogger in training. She has very definite views about cosmetics and is currently lobbying for someone to buy her an Urban Decay palette in ‘nude’, because you know, it is a very reasonable £36.

Yesterday she gave herself a nosebleed removing her make up.  This is true urban decay.

Nobody said it was going to be easy.

Tilly bought a loaf of bread for £1.50 today from her favourite bakery.  It has raised such levels of excitement in the house it is now being referred to as the £1.50 loaf, even though it has now been eaten.  We are indeed that rock ‘n’ roll. You may infer from that that my decision not to eat as much bread this week is not going well, and it’s only Monday.

My dad and brother went to see Derren Brown in concert this evening. Neither of them were made to do the chicken dance, or eat raw onions.  I, for one am very disappointed by this. Mr. Brown had the opportunity in his grasp, and he just let it go.

Very careless.

The Mother F**kin Hat Thing

Dashed down to London yesterday with Andrea to see The Motherfucker with the Hat at the National Theatre on the South Bank.

We forgot that it was Gay Pride. Normally we would drive across the city and park near the theatre, but we did not want to spend hours getting around road blocks, or inadvertently joining a parade. We were just not dressed for it.  I’d love to go to Pride, but I had theatrical commitments of a different kind and was all out of face paint and glitter, so it will have to be postponed until next year when I’ve got all my sequins in a row.

Plus the kids would actually kill me if I didn’t take them too.

Traffic issues meant that we parked on the outskirts and headed in by tube instead.  Consequently we were cutting things a bit fine and made it with twenty minutes to spare, which is not a lot of time when the queue for the toilet is three deep.

The play was great, which was good, given the effort it took to get there. It was about addiction amongst Puerto Rican immigrants in the US. It was, as the title suggests, rather full on language wise. I did wonder whether the two ladies who were shocked all the way through the David Mamet play we went to a few weeks back, might pop up behind us like the spectres at the feast now they’ve got the taste for all the rudeness. But no. It was just a man who insisted on crunching ice cubes loudly all the through the first half and pointing out in a huge stage whisper where the hat from the title was.

Thank God for him, or we might never have recognised it.

Despite its dark subject matter it was very funny and had real moments of pathos. I thought it was well written, sharp and well played by a great cast who never missed a beat.

Afterwards we went for coffee and cake, as is our wont. We were sitting in the new NT cafe, called The Kitchen, jabbering happily about the play whilst stuffing slabs of chocolate into our mouths when a chap walked in and past us to the disabled toilets.  He was tapping people gently on the shoulder saying: ‘Excuse me’ and ‘sorry’ as he wove his way by.

What was striking was that he was wearing an oil cloth cook’s pinny with nothing but tight, white cotton boxers on underneath.  The pinny featured a life sized photograph of a sheep’s face right about where the man’s genitals would be, had they not been covered up by an ovine pinny.

Five minutes later, he popped out of the toilet and did exactly the same thing: ‘Excuse me, excuse me’ and ‘sorry,’ all the way out the door.

Nobody batted an eyelid.

You’re not in Leicester anymore Toto.

On the way back to Embankment tube as we were crossing the river, there was a man playing the steel pans quite badly, slap bang in the middle of the bridge.  We had already commented on how troubling this was on our way to the theatre and he was still going strong some three hours later.

We were not the only ones who didn’t appreciate his musical genius, although we were prepared to give him points for stamina.

Approaching him from the other side of the bridge was an elderly hippy dressed in shades of emerald green from head to foot. He looked like a cross between Gandalf and a leprechaun.  As he got closer to the steel pan man he kept shaking his head and grimacing.

At about two feet from him he stuck his fingers in his ears, and wandered past the chap, so close to him they could actually touch, all the while the leprechaun mouthing ‘no, no, no,’ and grimacing, still with his fingers in his ears.

Undaunted, the steel pan man played on.

I do bloody love London.

The Naming of Cars

T. S. Eliot once wrote a poem about the importance of naming your cats. In a stroke of inspired genius it was named, ‘The Naming of Cats’, which I feel is a bit of a fail on his part. I suspect he’d used up all his inspiration in the main body of the poem, was on deadline, and just thought; ‘Ah feck it all. Say what you see.’

Just like Roy Walker in Catchphrase.

I have been thinking about this over the last few days, but in relation to cars, which are nearly the same as cats, but without the ‘t’ and more ‘r’.

Last week when I was in Sainsburys’ car park, I passed a truly hideous car. It was  a sort of cow pat/khaki green with a plethora of black plastic panelling on the doors and boot.  The panels were contoured so they looked like very badly applied stucco.

The car was so awful I actually stopped and went back to have a proper look at it to make sure my eyes were not deceiving me. It really was as terrible as my glimpse of it had led me to believe.

Not only that but it was called the Citroen Cactus.

The Citroen CACTUS.



What in the name of all that is holy is going on here? Does nobody but me remember the dreadful time of the Ford Probe? Who in their right mind would call a car after a spiky, unattractive plant?

Cars should be called things like; zoom and swoosh, or endeavour or thrill. They should not be called the Citroen Lettuce or the Citroen Bougainvillea. Who wants to drive the Citroen Leilandii? Not me.

What is the world coming to?

Two days after this horrific discovery I was stuck in traffic behind a Peugeot Tepee.

A what?

Not quite the right spelling I know, but close enough to create vivid images of the Peugeot Bivouac, the Peugeot Surprisingly Roomy Four Man Tent, the Peugeot Wigwam.

The Peugeot What the Fuck?

I looked up the spelling of the Tepee just to be sure.  It turns out that they are a partner car to the Bipper.


‘Yes. I do have a new car.  I love it.  What is it called? Ummm, well I actually drive a Bipper.  What? No. Yes. You did hear me correctly. I am actually driving around in a car called a Bipper. What? No. I am not an idiot.  Eh? How much did I pay for it? About £9000. Yes. I did. No I still don’t think I’m an idiot? What? You do? O.K. Well, I’m afraid I’m going to have to agree to disagree. I see. You’re happy to disagree with someone who’d pay nine grand for a car called a Bipper…

I beg your pardon?

Did you just call me a Mother Bipper?’

Push Pineapple

Every term Oscar’s school take part in themed projects that involve whole school participation. Earlier in the year they did a term of work on Grand Designs, using architecture as a way to explore the ancient world. Last year they did a term of activities based around Shakespeare’s world. This term they have two topics. They are learning all about food from around the globe, and presumably to make sure they don’t all pile on the pounds, the last three weeks of term are also about getting active.

I love this about the school. I love that when they do something for the whole school they really do something for the whole school, and every teacher gets involved as much as the students. It makes everything so much more fun and nobody is left out.

On Monday Oscar did a whole day of sport related activities instead of being inside the  classroom. At half nine in the morning his teacher sent me a Twitter picture of him doing archery.  They tried all kinds of things and spent the whole day learning outside. On Tuesday they had their annual sports day. This took place up until lunch time. After lunch Oscar  had his weekly swimming lesson in the school pool.  On Wednesday afternoon he had his Forest School session which involved more running around.

On top of all the classroom activities they are doing, the teachers offer a carousel of different lunchtime activities for the children to try. These vary every day, and the day’s offerings are chalked up on the noticeboard by the dining hall for everyone to see. There has been table tennis, dancing and orienteering, along with football and the other more ordinary offerings.

As well as this, every morning when the children are all on the hard standing lined up in their class groups, there has been a ‘Shake and Wake’ aerobics session for ten minutes before they go into school.  Each morning it is hosted by a different teacher accompanied by a banging sound system and the tune of their choice. On Monday they were doing the Cha Cha slide for example.

This leads me neatly to recounting to you that this morning I have had the best school run of my life, watching the Forest School teacher performing his Shake and Wake offering.

When I tell you that despite being outdoorsy, the Forest School teacher used to be a librarian, and looks more like a librarian than Bear Grylls, you will imagine what this looked like.

He was festooned with lei wrapped around his Crag Hopper style fleece, making no concession to sports wear in his sensible black trousers and yet giving everything he had to a freestyle, frenetic dance routine the like of which has never been seen before, and probably won’t be again.

There were limbs flying everywhere. At times it was as if he had more than two legs he was moving so fast. At other times I worried that his knees might fly clean off. There was hip shaking, there was windmilling of arms, there was a suspicion of jazz hands. There was everything but the kitchen sink.

It was inspired.

It was a dazzling virtuoso performance that gave me deep joy at every level imaginable.

Education gets such a bad rap these days, but if I had had any experience like this when I was at school back in the day I’d have thought I’d died and gone to heaven. I’d probably have redoubled my academic efforts and be giving Stephen Hawking a run for his money right now.

Gold definitely goes to the Forest School teacher in my olympics. Well done that man.