Monday, 31 January 2011

Please leave a message

Long chats on the phone are my specialist subject. I can settle into an hour plus of chin wagging with pretty much anyone: my Dad, an old school chum in the UK, a friend who lives a few roads away and I see pretty much daily or someone I have never met and am supposed to be interviewing for a magazine article. I thoroughly enjoy the downing of tools and immersing myself into a conversation. This luxury is being somewhat curtailed by my littlies. The lad sometimes answers the phone himself, loses interest, chucks it on the sofa and doesn't tell me someone is patiently asking 'is your mummy there?'

If I get to the phone first I immediately commence a continuous lap of the garden and house as I try to shake the twins off. They trot behind me wailing to pick them up/get them some milk/put on their sparkly shoes for the duration of my phone call. I try doubling back on them, locking myself in toilets, going out into the road and shutting them inside our garden and any manner of anti-tailing techniques which spring to mind. They are impressively dogged in their pursuit and I often succumb to their insistent bawling by irritably hanging up and allowing them to swarm over me like ants.

My clever friend http://www.mareewilkinson.con/ took this pic of twin1

Friday, 21 January 2011


Two weeks after my choir was formed, a new girl joined us. She sat next to me and we got to know each other through 30 second slots of whispered small talk interspersed with six minutes of full voiced warbling. Two or three practices later and we met during the week to watch our children tear around together while we gassed, scoffed cake and cuddled the babies in the garden. We share a number of similarities in our circumstances: we are both foreigners married to kiwis, have children exactly the same age and love singing ancient music. I love her understated manner which is underpinned by a mischievious and clever humour. She asked me what I do.

'I'm a freelance writer'

'What kind of stuff do you you write?'

'Oh, all sorts. Articles for fashion magazines, press releases, newsletters for companies, anything anyone asks me to do really. In the back of my mind I have a desire to write a book sometime in the future.'

'I've written a book' she says.

I choke on some crumbs. 'Have you really?' I'm boggle eyed in admiration.

I spent the next two months trying to persuade her to give me the almost finished manuscript to read. She was reluctant and her main worry was that I would read it and tell her it was good when I really thought it was crap in order to maintain our friendship. I assured her that honesty would be my guiding force and that I would note any comments, good and bad. The following Sunday she gave me a manila folder containing a huge wedge of printed A4 sheets. The enormity of the effort she has put into this venture whilst bringing up two small children and running a farm with her husband made me shift uncomfortably from foot to foot. 'Erm, if it's absolutely shit I am going to lie and tell you it's brilliant.' I say guiltily.

Luckily there is no need for friendship saving fibs. What a damned good yarn. Where on earth does that level of intricacy come from within a person? Astonishing. Writing a book must be like living a double life. You have to ensure that each detail dovetails with every other in the world you create and unfold as readers are an unforgiving, critical bunch. In order to create a great story the research and writing must be meticulously accurate and credible. I can't wait until she's written the final installment.
photo of the lad by

Wednesday, 12 January 2011


Present buying is a divider. There are those who enjoy it and those who don't. December brings to light exactly which category you fall into. I perch comfortably in the former. Back in the hedonistic days of university (think Doc Martins, bushy eyebrows and trance music) I spent a year living in Clermont Ferrand, France with four other friends. We lived a very friendly and familial life together in our fourth floor appartment overlooking the city's magnificent, black cathedral. We pooled all our money, cooked and ate together every day, socialised together and for some within the group forged some fairly intimate relationships (all in the name of education you understand). For each of our birthdays we devised a highly successful formula. The others clubbed together to buy you a present, you could choose what we all ate for one meal that day and you could nominate your birthday entertainment. There being five of us the planning and executing of birthdays was an almost constant source of productivity. I think the reason why I remember it so fondly and clearly is that we were all the kind of people who got giddy at the thought of buying presents and planning birthday celebrations.

Damien was a huge James Bond fan so we bought him a Ronson lighter. Dominic was soaked in cricket and Ian Botham was his idol. For him a pair of Oakley sunglasses. We took enormous delight in deliberating over presents for each other and having illicit discussions about ideas for surprise parties. My present was a pair of skintight trousers covered in tiny blue and yellow flowers I had been drooling over for weeks. The night of my birthday I wanted to have dinner, just the five of us in a restaurant. We were all rather gauche in the dining out department. Our restaurant choice had bright overhead strip lights and a cheap set menu which suited our lack of sophistication as well as our budget. On the way back home the gang suggested we pop into Quai des Brumes, our local bar where we had befriended the owner (I think he had a huge crush on Tamasyn, one of the girls in our little troop). I peered inside as it was so dark it looked closed. I opened the door, the lights blazed and all our university chums cheered and sang happy birthday. A blow up doll with angry and strange looking genetalia presented me with a birthday cake and I'll remember the evening all my life.

Monday, 3 January 2011

And the winner is....baked beans

We had a late night having dinner with friends last night so my 3 littlies are all hungover this morning. I have just put them to bed for a snooze which leaves me with a good hour or so to myself. I can barely get my thoughts in any kind of order as I try and decide how to spend this golden little bubble of silence and solitude. What I should really be doing is hanging the washing out and tidying up. The winner was baked beans on toast and writing my blog.

The husband and littlies have 2 weeks off from work and kindy. It has been bliss. Spending time together just the five of us has been great for our family spirit and happiness. There are few greater pleasures than being in the company of people you love. By the end of the holiday they'll probably have driven me nuts and I will look forward to packing them all off back to daily routines but for the moment it's all peace and love in our house.

Come January, my chums and family at home are always keen to ditch their winter threads and poke their white limbs towards the sun on the beach. We have a glittering array of guests lined up over the next couple of months with the fairy atop the tree being my parents. They arrive on the 20th Jan and I can't stop thinking about it.


Related Posts with Thumbnails