Saturday, September 30, 2006

I am a domestic goddess creations...

(And yes, they were from a packet. But I added the egg AND a teaspoon of water).

And my handsome assistant...

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Lois Lane seeks Clark Kent

BE STILL my beating heart. Superman is coming to Derry and I have become as giddy as a schoolgirl.

Anyone who knew the geeky teenage me will have known that when it came to teenage crushes and unrequited love affairs, my affections were reserved for the one and only Dean Cain.
As I spoke to local film director Danny Patrick this week, who is the man responsible for bringing Dean Cain to Derry, I let my professionalism slip a little and revealed my teenage crush.
When Danny told me that most girls he had spoken to had pictures of Superman on their posters or pencil cases, I admitted excitedly that I had him on my file in school. I may have thrown in a girlish giggle and a batting of the eyelids just for effect. It was not my finest hour.
Dean (as I liked to call him) was my first proper grown up crush. He replaced both Matt Goss and Dana Ashbrook (who was a man, honest, despite the girly name) in my affections and it's fair to say his portrayal of Clark Kent played somewhat of a role in my decision to become a bona fide journalist. (Who would have known the Derry Journal was not a hot bed of sizzling sexual tension? There was me hoping for a Clark Kent to investigate the burning issues of the day with and instead I ended up on my jack jones at a Council meeting discussing waste management.)
My mother used to refer to Dean Cain as 'the babe in tights', while I found myself singing the lesser known song 'Whatta man' every time I saw his picture.
We had a Saturday night tradition in our house that could never be messed with. I would finish work, come home, stick my aching feet in a basin of warm water and my mum would cook the tea. Then the pair of us would sit down, insist every other member of the household keep deathly silent and get our Superman fix.
Monday mornings in school also had their own traditions. They would inevitably include a discussion not only of what Teri Hatcher had worn in her role as Lois Lane but also a certain amount of swooning and sighing over Clark Kent and his tights.

Pulse racing
You see Dean Cain has it all. He has an amazing body, a strong jawline, muscular arms and eyes as dark as the night, but it is his portrayal of the man of steel, and his alter ego Clark Kent, that really sets my pulse racing.
Because lets face it ladies, what we all want is a superman in our lives- he could can leap tall buildings in a single bound or, if necessary, fly around the world so fast that he turns back time and saves our life.
I've always had a soft spot for this particular super hero which probably stems from my childhood and many a Christmas afternoon spent watching Christopher Reeve fly around the earth to that famous John Williams theme tune.
Who as a youngster didn't fall for the love story between Clark Kent and Lois Lane and long to one day visit that hotel room at Niagara Falls with the fancy fireplace?
Who didn't hope to one day find her own superman to share her life with- a strong man who fought for the greater good and could lift us without grimacing even the teeniest bit- no matter how much weight we piled on?
My attraction to the man in tights (or babe in tights, if you prefer) only deepened with the arrival of 'Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman' on our TV screens. At the time I was 16, just deciding to follow a career in journalism and I was caught up in the hype that surrounded the programme.
Yes, I had my hair cut in that famous Teri Hatcher bob and bought shoes which I thought were just 'so Lois Lane'. She was a wonderful role model; a strong, confident, successful and beautiful woman.
I could pretend I was watching the programme because of those very reasons, but no matter how successful Lois became or how good she was at her job, the main draw of the show was seeing how long it would take for her to fall for Clark Kent and for them to get their happy ever after. (And of course I watched to see Dean Cain in Lycra- that had a certain appeal).
You see the relationship between Lois and Clark is among the most romantic of all time and I am essentially a soppy eejit who likes to believe that love can be everlasting and overcome any obstacle.
Couple that belief with a handsome and strong male lead and you have a potent combination, especially in the eyes of a gawky teenager just learning about life and love.
That was, of course, before I learned the harsh truth that Lois Lane probably got hacked off picking Superman's discarded pants up off the bedroom floor just like the rest of us mere mortals. But nonetheless a girl can dream.
Speaking of which, I wonder if it would be at all possible to convince Dean Cain to visit the 'Journal' offices during his visit to the city? And if so, could I persuade him to sit opposite me for a day so I can at least pretend all my teenage dreams came true?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Desperate for a Housewife

ON A number of occasions in the past I have written in this very column about how I have a secret yearning to be a 1950s housewife.

As much as I'm aware that I'm suffering from 'grass is always greener on the other side' syndrome, the thought of having no expectations on me other than keeping my home tidy and minding my son is, at times, remarkably appealing.
But I've changed my mind.
After reading an email doing the rounds at the moment from Housekeeping Monthly magazine in 1955, I have decided I don't want to be a 1950s housewife so much as have one at home to look after me.
You see the way I've worked it out is that if I had a housewife at home I would come home after a hard day at the office to a clean house, lit fire, quiet child and lovingly prepared meal on the table.
My housewife would be cheerful and chatty and allow me to vent about my day. She would pour me a cold drink and help me take my shoes off. She would perform a modern day miracle by making sure my son was first of all clean at 6pm and, second of all, quiet. If I so desired she would fetch me a pillow to rest upon.
Yep, it sounds good to me. I could get quite used to the idea of having someone who saw it as their only duty to make me comfortable and relaxed in my own home.
I've even tried to talk the husband into hanging up his suit, donning a pinny and becoming a househusband- but his levels of housekeeping are simply not to the standards of your average woman. (To put it mildly, we would be needing Kim and Aggie in within a month.)
'The Good Wife's Guide' as published by 'Housekeeping Monthly' on May 13, 1955 has created quite a stir on our office. All the modern wives have been having a jolly good laugh at the advice dolled out to the 1950s wife.
The guide includes some classic gems of information such as "Listen to him. You may have a dozen important things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first- remember his topics of conversation are more important than yours."
My favourite line however is "Don't ask him questions about his actions or question his judgement or integrity. Remember, he is the master of the house and as such will always exercise his will within fairness and truthfulness. You have no right to question him."
I can only dream of this being true in my house where my 1950s housewife would replace my husband's judgmental glares when I arrive through the door laden with shopping bags or reach for a second chocolate mousse after dinner.
My 1950s housewife would never be so bold as to question my judgement in such matters. She would know that my shopping is always for necessary items to relax me after all, I live "in a world of strain and pressure".

My comfort
And when I returned from work, weary from fielding calls about graduation photographs, she would let me off-load before launching into her list of problems. In fact, I'm almost sure she would be, to quote Housekeeping Monthly, concerned with "catering for my comfort" she might not even whinge at all.
It sounds like bliss. I think every modern woman should have a housewife at her disposal.
Of course behind our laughter is the truth that our grandmothers and great-grandmothers really were expected to behave in this fashion. This was an era were children were seen and not heard and were a wife dared not question her husband's actions even if, as 'Housekeeping Monthly' states, he came home or even stayed out all night.
The reason I want a housewife all of my own is because I would generally love someone to act as my dedicated servant. It seems that in the 1950s that was very much a woman's role- to serve her man and raise her daughters to believe that they were not worthy of careers or independence simply due to their sex.
Modern relationships do not (or at least should not) work that way. In theory at least my husband is my equal in the house and we share the household chores. (I know, I'm snorting myself at that one- my husband, God love him, thinks sharing means him emptying the bins and washing an occasional cup and me doing everything else).
But we both know that when we finally get five minutes together at the end of the day we both have an equal right to chat, let off steam and put the world to rights.
While the noise from the wee man can induce a grade three migraine on your average Wednesday evening, neither of us expects him to be silent to keep us content. In fact we cherish his childish chatter and hearty belly laughs. Much as I would like to come home to clean and tidy child, I at least know if my son is covered in mud, water, juice and yoghurt at the end of the day, he has had fun.
So yes, give me a housewife, someone to clean and tidy and fix me a drink. But leave me my husband to sound off too and my son to carry on with at the end of the day. That in itself would achieve the 1950s housewife's goal of making sure my home is a "place of peace, order and tranquility where I can renew myself in body and spirit".

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Month 31- Chatter, chatter,chatter

My darling boy.
You have not shut up all month. It amazes me to have the most grown up conversations with you when you freak me out with your knowledge of the world.
Okay, you aren't ready for your slot on BBC 24 just yet, but you know all about emergency vehicles and their uses. You also have developed a very keen interest in theology, debating at length and at great volume about whether or not a church in is fact a house of God or a castle. Your Auntie Emma is exceptionally proud of your aetheist leanings.
You also seemed to have developed a keen interest in popular culture. I cannot tell you how close I came to crashing the car as your encouraged me to "shake my rudebox". Damn that Robbie Williams for corrupting your innocent mind.
Last month I wondered would it be possible for me to love you any more. The answer is yes, God yes, I love you now more than ever. It is, I think, that as you grow more independent you still keep that special place in your heart for your mammy and when you call my name, beg me to play with you or hug me close and tell me you love me, I feel the most content I ever have in my life.
With love for always,

Friday, September 08, 2006

The long and winding road

IT'S NO secret that I have a reputation for being a poor travelling. In fact all 86 guests at my wedding were told exactly how much of a poor traveller I am by my darling daddy during his father of the bride speech.

As some of you may be reading this over your morning turnover, I'll not go into details, suffice to say that between the ages of 5 and 15 I was not a welcome passenger in anyone's car.
Like a good wine however, I have improved with age and as things go I'm not all that bad these days. I can manage most short to medium length journeys without feeling queasy and it's been a fair few years since I found myself taking some Quells, just in case.
I guess I've learned my limitations. Boats are a big no-no, especially after a particularly horrible experience while on honeymoon in Tunisia. (The boat was fine, by the way, and I doubt we got above three miles an hour, but did that stop me crying and wanting to clamber over the side to escape? Not a chance!)
Airplanes are generally speaking okay. I'm not a fan of turbulence- but then again, who is? I'm all right when driving or taking short journeys through the town on the bus, but there is one journey which always fills my heart with dread and it's one that I absolutely have to complete within the next week.
The Derry to Dublin journey (and indeed the return leg) is my least favourite travel experience bar none. I don't say that lightly. I have spent eight hours on a crowded bus in the Sahara in degrees in excess of 40 Degrees Celsius and it was still more fun than those miserable four hours spent traipsing down the road to the big smoke.
My first experience of the delight that is Bus Eireann was in 1992 when I travelled to Dublin with my best friend for the weekend. We were both 16 and were off to stay with her big sister who was at college in Maynooth. (How were we to know the only single young men would be those destined for the priesthood?) We thought we were the proverbial bees knees as we loaded our rucksacks into the Derry bus and set off.
Four hours later, dizzy from being thrown from one end of the bus to the other on the bumpy roads and melting as the driver had the air conditioning set to 'Tropical Heatwave' we reached our destination (the salubrious surroundings of Bus Aras) and I was almost tempted to kiss the tarmac and thank God we were still one piece. (However kissing the tarmac would have left me too open to attack from the pick pockets the loud speakers in the bus centre constantly warn you about).

First taste of a hangover
Of course, what goes down must come up and sure as eggs are eggs, we had to get back on the bus and travel the winding, pot-holed roles back North two days later. Although I didn't drink back then, I'm sure the lurching of the bus gave me first taste of what a hangover felt like.
It was then I decided, as I queued for the toilets in the equally glamorous Monaghan bus stop, that I would never, ever, as long as I lived travel to Dublin again.
Life has a funny way of changing your mind however and when I started to date himself, who at the time was living in Wales, I found myself back on that bus on a regular basis- with the added bonus of a boat journey from Dun Laoghaire at either end.
I can't say I ever really had a positive experience. You either got a driver who was trying to set the world land speed record, or someone who was so laid back you could almost hear him snoring.
The bus was inevitably over crowded and stuffy and there was always a child who inevitably lost their patience just outside of Omagh and starting to screech, only letting up at Slane.
For the approach to the capital city, the roads were of dire quality and the only entertainment to be had was spotting the big houses on the hills and wondering if Bono lived in any of them.
Having taken a Quells to calm my stomach I also managed to spend most of these journeys horribly drowsy but afraid to nod off in case I snored.
Once I'd managed to persuade himself to give up live in Wales and move to Derry I made myself yet another vow that I would make my best efforts never to make the journey again. Once a month for 24 was enough of that journey for any sane person to take.
I've managed seven years, something I'm exceptionally proud of- but next week I have to travel to Bray for a meeting and it already fills my heart with dread.
I'm told the roads have improved greatly with the passing of the years. I'm promised that the journey now takes a mere three hours and some as opposed to the four hour trek of old. My mammy, God love her, has offered to drive. I'll probably stop by Boots for some Quells to be on the safe side and I still can't say I'm looking forward to it.
I wonder how much it would cost to charter a private jet?

Music me me me me

Five songs that remind you of being a small child:

1) Grandma's Feather Bed- especially "I even kissed aunt lu! whoo!"
2) Stupid Cupid or Paper Roses by Connie Francis- my mum's ironing music.
3) Smile though your heart is breaking- my granda used to sing that all the
4) Get into the Groove- the first pop song I really remember.
5) Dancing on a Rainbow- by that famous Derry group 2x2

Five Songs That Remind You of Your Best Friends

1. Shocked- Mandi
2. Praise You- the Vickster
3. Flashdance- Lisa
4. I Will Survive- the Thornhill girlies
5. The Cha Cha Slide- you should see Vicki do that one when drunk

Five Songs that remind you of when you first started going to bars/clubs.
1. Boom Shake the Room- The Fresh Prince
2. U2- Even better than the real thing.
3. All that she wants (is another baby)- memories of painful nights in the Embassy. I HATE that song.
4. Superstition by Stevie Wonder- the Foy Vance years.
5. Come Baby Come- K7 (Bounce, c'mon now, Bounce, c'mon on now)

Five Songs Guarenteed to Make You Cry or, if you're too manly to cry, mist

1. Songbird, Eva Cassidy, reminds me of my very gorgeous boy and how I fell
in love with him.
2. Angel- Sarah McLachlan- for when I'm feeling low.
3. Goodbye my Lover- James Blunt. It just is berluddy sad.
4. Sometimes I feel like a sad song- John Denver.
5. When the River Meets the Sea- John Denver again- because of my father
telling me I was to play it as his funeral.

Five Songs Guaranteed to Make You Smile
1. Flashdance
2. Got to Turn Around- Phats and Small
3. Praise You- Fat Boy Slim
4. Now That I Know What I Want- Brian Kennedy
5. that damned heart, soul song...I Got Life, Nina Simone. My boy loves it.

Five Current Most Played Songs
1. Nina Simone- see above about the boy.
2. I wish I was a punk rocker (or prawn cracker as my niece calls it)
3. The Island- Brian Kennedy and Juliet Turner
4. Signed, Sealed, Delivered- in a Stevie Wonder phase.
5. I Don't Feel Like Dancing by The Scissor Sisters.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Detached from reality

I LIKE to consider myself a fairly modern and with-it mammy. I've read enough parenting books to know how to get through the next couple of years hopefully without scarring my child emotionally or physically for life.

I know about quality time and I love the hour between finishing work and packing my wee man up to bed for our sleepy-time cuddles. I love how he comes toddling into our bedroom in the middle of the night, pulls the covers off, climbs in, and asks me to "close the bed" over him.
For the most part, when I'm not trying to get 101 odd jobs done around the house, I love my days off and spending time doing all those things mammies and sons should do. (Like wandering around Tesco avoiding the toy aisle, and hurtling myself down slides at Bananas.)
I think I can say with a degree of confidence that I'm a good parent. My boy often tells me I'm the best (sometimes, he even does it unprompted) and that he loves me.
However, according to a certain parenting movement gaining increasing popularity in America and the UK, I'm a terrible, terrible mammy who does not deserve the child I love so much.
For those who didn't see the Channel 5 documentary 'Honey, I Suckle the Kids', let me explain to you about the philosophy of 'Attached Parenting'.
According to followers of this movement a child should be a parent's be all and end all from the moment of conception until adulthood. They don't hold court with any of that nasty pain relieving medication during labour malarkey, arguing that if you don't feel the pain you won't appreciate the end product as much - or some other such nonsense.
Once baby has arrived, the attached parent should spend 24 hours a day, seven days a wee devoting themselves to raising their children. This includes 'Baby-wearing', which means they shun buggies, bouncy chairs and cribs in favour of slings to carry their children (some as old as five) everywhere. This 24 hour attachment to junior extends to bed time when baby becomes the third person in the bed until they are old enough to want choose to sleep in their own bed.
Attached parents believe in extended breast-feeding, again choosing to feed their children until the age of five or beyond. To add to this they don't believe in dummies and will happily allow their children to spend as much time as possible on the breast if it keeps them calm.

Elimination communication
The most bizarre thing that attached parents practice however is 'Elimination Communication' which, in layman's terms, is allowing your baby to roam about without a nappy and teaching them to pee upon hearing a cue sound from their parents.
This starts with new-borns until the baby eventually toilet trains him or herself at around two years of age.
One mother admitted encouraging her child to go 'pee pee' or 'poo poo' up to forty times a day and she frequently whipped down his pants exposing his poor wee bum to the outside world whenever the need arose.
Now call me close minded if you will, but I could not help but feel these parents were three scoops short of a box of formula powder.
When it came to labour, I have to say effective pain relief would probably have helped me bond with my son rather than damage our relationship. As it stood when he finally arrived I was so sore and tired that I had no inclination to jump straight into the super mammy role. I wanted to sleep and not, as the Attached Parents in the programme did, invite my friends over for chips and dips to watch my perineum tearing on a home video.
As regards 'wearing your baby'- well I have to admit that I loved skin to skin contact with my son. That said, I had a life to lead, washing to be done, floors to be hoovered etc and not all of that was easy carrying a baby around strapped to my person continually. I carried him for nine months- I think I paid my dues. Carrying him about now would no doubt give me a hernia, as it would necessitate bringing Scoop, Muck and Dizzy and Rolly too along.
When it came to breast-feeding I'll maintain to this day that breast is undoubtedly best (and I say this as a bottle-feeder) there is something disturbing about a four year old whipping out her mammy's boob looking for a drink. That's why God made taps.
And so we come to the concept of 'Elimination Communication'. Personally, I see few merits in allowing your new-born to poop and pee freely in public and from what I could tell from the programme it doesn't necessarily mean your child will be independently potty trained any earlier.
As a mother who is trying (and failing) to potty train a particularly independent minded two-years-old and who has already spent several days cleaning up pee and changing Thomas the Tank Engine Pants, I can think of nothing less appealing that trying the same process on a younger child knowing that they have neither the physical or mental know how to learn from the experience.
I'm pretty sure these parents love their children, just as much as I'm pretty sure I love my son. If giving up your life to be there as a servant and general dogsbody for your children floats your boat then by all means go for it- but please don't tell the rest of us we are doing a lousy job.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...