Alfie Gets It Right



Life should be more like a Shirley Hughes story. I love those books because the rooms in which the families live are never tidy and the kids are always grubby. A Shirley Hughes story is a hug in a paperback. Kids get over-tired, tempers are lost, but there is always a cuppa and a cuddle in the end. In fact I can’t think of any of her stories that don’t feature a brew and a restorative digestive. The households are cluttered and chaotic but charmingly real. And the parenting style… relaxed.

All of which fits in with something I was chatting to friends about the other day. Why do we feel so pressured to do stuff? Whether it’s shelling out on an action-packed kids day out or taxiing them to and from every last club or sporting activity just because we feel we ought. You don’t see Alfie and Annie Rose at Peppa Pig World every other week, or My Naughty Little Sister wolfing down a sarnie between Spanish lessons and streetdance.

Somewhere along the way we were told that in order to put our kids first we need to actually subjugate all our adult needs to them, so instead of heading to Glastonbury we sit in a field of fractious four year olds, watching Mr Tumble, spilling on ourselves while attempting to puncture a Capri Sun.

Increasingly I’m starting to feel that the things created to make our lives easier with the kids actually do quite the opposite. They sap our energy and time (and sometimes will to live), leaving us edgy and wracked with guilt about the 101 jobs that don’t get done around the house, the lack of food in the fridge or lack of quality time with our partners.

The hours spent in soft play centres that create artificial fun for the kids and a headache for you, could so easily have been spent turning  the sofa cushions into a bouncy castle. At least that way you could have put a wash on while little Johnny bounced – and the coffee would be better.

I’m not sure the child-centred day is all that good for the little ones either. How many times have you planned a big day out only to fire-fight the same squabbles all day as you would have done at home (only this time you’ve paid for a family ticket).  And they never turn around and say, ‘Thank you Mother. I am truly sated and stimulated by my experiences today’, do they?

I’m not suggesting we all ignore our kids and get on with what we want to do entirely. I’ve always thought the bit in ‘Alfie’s Feet’ where Alfie dons his new yellow wellies for a trip to the park – and his Dad takes along his newspaper is a bit off. Surely he should be taking more of an interest in watching his son frolic in puddles? Or maybe he’s spot on to bring something along to amuse himself with – and I can feel a little less guilty about my mobile phone over-use. Is there anything wrong with pleasing both the adult and the kid?

Let’s be more Shirley Hughes : After all, My Naughty Little Sister is not very naughty at all, Mrs Macnally’s Maureen is a model teenager and they did find Dogger in the end.


Fight or flight


If Brexit and Boris win – I’m considering  moving. Canada or New Zealand look promising right now. Maybe I’ll find some quiet corner to bury my head in the sand and surround myself with like-minded people (and sheep).

From Farage’s audacious racism, to ugliness outside the fan-filled bars of France, the mood of these times makes me want to fly as far from here as possible.

But then Jo Cox was murdered and now I want to stay here and do something. Like she did.

As police and politicians on all sides wonder what we can learn from her death, I want to learn lessons from her life. She backed up her beliefs with action and put other people’s needs before her own. At a time when it looks like a dangerous thing to put yourself out there as a public servant – she makes me want to do just that. I probably won’t, but I will make some changes.

I won’t take flight.  I will be staying here and picking my battles.


No words

No words can make yesterday’s vileness go away. No words can take the pain from the hearts of Jo Cox’s children and husband, family and friends. No words can turn back the clock to the minutes before it happened. No words can change the ugliness in the core of the person that carried this out. No words can assuage the fear this death creates. No words can reverse the climate of fear this crime was borne out of. No words can mend democracy, shaken to its roots. No words can promise us that this won’t happen again. No words…





EU referendum? It’s child’s play


I’ve long been puzzled by the lines from popular children’s rhyme, the Hokey Kokey. What if that is really what it’s all about?*

Philosophically speaking, the hokey kokey seems as good a theory as the rest… existentialism, metaphysics and the like. At least this way we can all lighten up a bit, get some excerise, bend our knees and shout ‘rah rah rah’.

Which brings me very nicely to the subject of the EU referendum. So many people, already accustomed to shouting ‘rah rah rah’, getting hot under the collar deciding IN, OUT, IN or indeed OUT. Though the thought of Ian Duncan Smith shaking it all about is an image I’d like to unsee.

The referendum campaign is not unlike the children’s ryhme. And just like the kids the  Left and Right arms of the various parties are gloriously out of sync with each other.

Certainly the bad behaviour on both sides of the argument would not be out of place at a six-year-old’s birthday bash –  and it looks like the party guests have been hitting the Fruit Shoot hard.

Picture the scene, probably at a soft play somewhere in the home counties: Cherub-faced Dave is feeling like his 6-year-long party is being spoilt by his ex-mates: little Nigel is standing next to the trampoline imposing a strict ‘one on/one off’ policy, Mikey Gove is correcting the appauling grammar of his inferior peers, while a sweaty-faced Boris is overtired and starting to show off.

Little Georgie Osborne sticks closely by Dave’s side and is left wondering how big a piece of the birthday cake will be left for him when the party is over.

I think little Dave may be regretting sending the invitations out.




*IN- that’s what it’s all about.




well hello again


It was one of my new year’s resolutions back in about 2012 to update this blog regularly. Best intentions notwithstanding*, the frequency with which I have actually poured out my brain here is about as often as my youngest stomachs brocolli – once a year (kicking and screaming.) I could offer up various excuses… none of which would wash (insert similar analogy to my youngest here)  – and in truth I have no clue how 2012 became 2016. Time is a whily old thing like that.

Still here I am, a glass of wine down, attempting to up my output. There is plenty in my brain that needs airing (for my own sanity quite possibly). Whether anyone else needs to hear it – who knows?

*my goodness, who doesn’t love a word made up of three stuck together?