It seems a long time ago since I started this blog. My concerns at that stage seem so distant. Life has indeed moved on. It is over a year now since Tim (aka GP2) left school and Standard Grades, Highers, SQA, Curriculum for Excellence, Leaps, are now of no more than passing academic interest. Time for a round up.
So, Chris/GP1/Ginger left that fine academic institution that is Ross High School three years ago with a respectable assortment of Highers, Advanced Highers and various other SQA offerings. I can’t really say, hand on heart, that he ever quite got studying but hey, he did what he needed. We suggested he took a year out to figure out what he really wanted to do before moving on to more studying but he didn’t want to, so onwards it was. I think perhaps he couldn’t visualise the alternatives to the school-college route – it was a sort of comfort blanket that didn’t require too much thinking. LEAPS summer school (he didn’t really get that, either) was followed by Sport Science at Heriot Watt University.
Oh dear. Oh Heriot Watt – do you have no student support system that flags up when things are not going as they should? It was obvious to us by Christmas Continue reading →
It is time to grow up, venture into the world alone, stand on my own two feet. The guineapigs are guineapigs no more. They’ve left school and are off doing other things. So I called in a PR company and, just as British Petroleum became BP and Environment and Resource Technology became ERT, I paid them many thousands of pounds to change Guineapigmum to GPM; I have, after all, become attached to it.
I’m relaunching my blog which has languished unloved for some time, partly because I want to share my plans for this summer’s Big Adventure, the Shin Swim. A friend and I are planning to swim coast to coast across Scotland. Well, swim and cycle – we can’t really swim upstream and crossing Scotland does mean crossing a watershed as any self respecting geographer will tell you.
Before closing this blog, I do plan to write a post with an update on the guineapigs, for those Edubuzz readers who have been with me all this time. But please don’t leave me – drop in at GPM goes wild!
GP1 is flying to London this evening, for an American visa for his impending trip to the States with BUNAC. He will have to leave his passport at the US Embassy and needs some photo identification to fly home again. Yesterday we took the house apart looking for his student rail card to book train tickets for a trip to Newcastle on Wednesday. No joy. Today we took the house apart looking for his driving licence. Of course he has known for weeks that he needed some id for this flight. Of course he has known for days that he didn’t know the whereabouts of his driving licence.
We didn’t find the driving licence but I did find, down the sides of the sofas, the following:
Several male nail clippings;
Approximately 10 assorted pens and pencils;
The remains of a party popper;
Miscellaneous bits of Knex;
A few playing cards;
25 Spanish pesetas;
£10.74 in loose change (all mine, as I was the one who bravely stuck my hand where no man would dare);
A lot of stuff too disgusting to describe.
After I’d excavated that lot he discovered he could use his old, recently expired passport for identification. His driving licence will have to wait a few ore days.
We’ve all been very relieved about the good news on the cancer front. Of course. I got big hugs from both the teenagers which nearly made me cry, as it only then sank home what it all really meant.
Later that evening one of the boys suddenly turned to me and said “So does that mean you’re going to start doing our laundry again?”
I’ve been on strike since a particularly bad week somewhere near the start of the chemo when the washing mountain grew and grew and my idle offspring waited for me to deal with it. It was half term, I believe, so it wasn’t as though they were pressed with other duties.
Anyhow I’ve enjoyed being on strike and see no reason to regress. In fact, I regard it as my duty as a mother to stay on strike. Their future wives will surely thank me.
Now, do you reckon I could get them to clean the loo?
Chemo days are long. They start in the middle of the night, 6 hours before the appointment, when I have a lonely midnight feast with a handful of steroids. Middle of the night feast, of course, not midnight. Do you remember those midnight feasts when you were little when you and your friends would hide away a bundle of sugar-hit goodies, and of course it was a secret and your mum didn’t know, but then you couldn’t last until midnight? Either you tucked in to the goodies at 10 o’clock, torch under the blankets, or you woke up in the morning and it was all still sitting there.
Anyhow, back to the chemo. My appointments at the moment are Mondays, and have moved from 9am to 11am. The 11am bit means I can get up at 6 to take my tablets, rather more civilised than midnight. Why not 5? Unfortunately the Monday bit means I have to get my pre-chemo bloods done on Friday, three days ahead, rather than the preferred 24 hours before. The way this drip-drip poison works is to kill off every fast growing cell it can find. Subtle, eh? Fast growing cells include Continue reading →
I’m sure we are all inspired by different people at different stages in our life. As a geeky teenager, I thought Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus were where it was at as I trotted off to study French at university. I read everything I could get my hands on, in French of course. Can I speak French now? Of course not. As a young marine biologist I thought Sylvia Earle was just wonderful, and parts of me still do. But her image became tarnished when I heard her speak at a conference. She was “Me, me me!”, ran over her time by half an hour or more and then handed over to her photographer for another hour. Bad chairmanship of course, but I don’t think inspirational figures should really let on that they think they’re wonderful as well. It should be a one-sided affair.
Somewhere between Sartre and Earle, I met Monsieur Edwards, or maybe Edwardes – I don’t know the spelling and can’t remember his first name. We were staying in Sombra, a cottage near Port Antonio, on the north coast of Jamaica. It was an idyllic spot with its own little beach, Continue reading →
Easter weekend was a lazy few days spent lounging in the sun in Grandma’s Somerset garden. Hot, hot, hot! We played croquet and badminton, did the crossword and ate too much. There were dragonflies hovering over the pond, hoping there might be some water. No such luck. I did go for a run along the river, and was foolishly enthusiastic when the boys decided to come too. It was sweltering, even in late afternoon, and they ran the socks off me. Life is so unfair.
And on that note, I’ve been doing loads of running recently in this wonderful weather. Last night a group of us ran around the There and Back tracks around Bolton and Gifford; a lovely route through woods, by fields, alongside rivers. There’s a wooden finger post on one of the paths that points There and Back again; one of these days I’ll get a photo. Today I plodded up to Fa’side with Lynne and Jeanette for fantastic views across the Forth. It would be nice, just for a moment, to feel that it was having some effect and that I might be losing a pound or two of the post-chemo excess weight. Life can be very unfair.
So here are my April photos for this week’s Gallery.
Life has moved on in the Guineapig Household this summer. In fact, I was wondering if it was time for a name change but I’m really quite attached to Guineapigmum so I think I’ll stick with it for the time being. The biggest change is that Number 1 son, GP1, is now in residence at one of those institutions where teenagers practice sleeping, drinking and spending their parents’ money. Yes he’s now at university. It’s not quite as far afield as originally planned. He got cold feet at some point during the summer (it may well have been the point at which he hitched up with a new young lady) and changed his UCAS options. He’s now in halls somewhere on the outskirts of Edinburgh and learning to cook, drink (did I mention that?), run up phone bills and play. And he’s home almost every weekend. Well, you get fed at home, don’t you?
Tara, at Sticky Fingers, sets a photograph challenge each week. I’ve been meaning to take part for months but, well, you may have noticed that I haven’t blogged for months. So, to celebrate putting metaphorical pen to metaphorical paper, I’ve hunted through Windows Explorer to find something for this week’s theme: Show me the funny.
May I present two or maybe three photos which encapsulate for me Living with Teenagers.
I spotted this sculpture at Tate Modern earlier this year. It sums up for me exactly how I feel when I come home from a week’s fieldwork. Laundry basket overflowing, bedroom floors invisible beneath the mound of wet towels, on duty as Domestic Goddess (if only) the moment I step through the door…
And then there is the challenge of making teenage boys Go Out For A Walk… You can feel the happiness and excitement in this picture.
And finally, do teenage boys read? Or only when they have to?
I know that, as a responsible citizen with a fully paid up TV licence, I should have been watching the Prime Ministerial debates during the election campaign. And I did, I really did, listen to part of each of them on the kitchen radio following the Guineapig family’s various Thursday evening jumping around activities in disparate parts of East Lothian. But I only listened to part of them because on Thursday evening at 9.30pm Outnumbered came on the box. The series is now finished, sadly. Political debate v Outnumbered? Scripts v improvisation? Adults arguing like children or children arguing like adults? No competition.
Anyhow, one of the best episodes of the election campaign was the one where the family discovers that Ben’s a whizz at chess. It suits him because spear wielding knights can charge through the opposing army and lay waste in all directions while alien pawns come hurtling in from outer space. As part of the discovery process there were dicussions about the relative merits of letting your child win as opposed to playing to win yourself. Of course, when Ben trounced them all they all protested that they’d just let him win. No, they didn’t fool the viewers. It set me wondering, though, at what point I stopped playing GP2’s Scrabble hand as well as my own and started playing for my own survival. I’m just about hanging on to my winning record, but only just. And when did I start finding the crossword has been done by one of the children before I get there?
“Midnight? Midnight? It’s Christmas Eve for goodness sake.” It was just as well it wasn’t me on the phone to the AA as it was at this point I suffered a sense of humour blackout. “There are a lot of people having a far worse Christmas than this” I kept muttering to myself.
“Very sorry sir, but there are some people who’ve already been waiting almost 8 hours.”
“We’ve already been waiting 8 hours. You want us to wait another 8?”
I buy more coffee and some peanuts, the only gluten-free food available. Despite the fact that we’ve been almost the only customers all day, the lady in the cafe still doesn’t acknowledge us. Meanwhile GPD phones our best hope of rescue, but they’re already in Blackpool for Christmas. Or Bolton or somewhere starting with a B off the M6. We knew it was a long shot.
We debate trying to get the car back onto the motorway, to bump ourselves back up the priority list. Unfortunately, though, we figure that might result in a priority ride to A&E so abandon that plan.
This morning, at 9am, I found myself online with my finger hovering over the Buy This Instant button as T in the Park tickets came on sale. Apparently I agreed to buy GP1 a ticket in return for his fantastic exam results this year. That must have been during one of my more maternal “Let’s be positive and look on the bright side” moments, as my understanding of fantastic exam results doesn’t entirely coincide with my son’s. In fact, I don’t think our opinions even approximately match. Still, not being one to go back on my word, even if I can’t quite remember the conversation, I did the deed and bought the ticket.
So I’m now the proud owner of a ticket for the 2010 T in the Park. It’s my ticket. Mine. Not his. If he wants it, there will be conditions attached. And if he doesn’t get respectable marks in his prelims in February, I will be offering the ticket to the highest bidder. Or any bidder. Perhaps I’ll give it away. I’m sure there are some very deserving cousins who’d appreciate it. Who knows, I could even go myself.
If I were my son, I wouldn’t be calling my bluff. You have been warned, GP1.
Please form an orderly queue now. You can camp overnight if you want to be first in line. And no pushing at the back!
Things were easy when the boys were small. Birthday parties maybe involved booking the swimming pool or local bouncy castle for an hour or so, a few sandwiches and crispie cakes, grapes for the health conscious and a party bag or two. We went through taking a few friends to the pictures and then it all went quiet for a while before we got to paintballing.
So, this year… “Mu-um?” “Yes?” (note the nervous upward inflexion).
“Can we have a few friends in? And will you go out for the evening? Maybe you could stay out overnight?”
“How many friends? Who? And there’s no way we’re staying out overnight.”
“It hasn’t stopped raining for two days! I haven’t been able to get any washing out” GP1 said.
Head snaps round. Eyes swivel left. Is that my son talking? The one who had six wet towels on his bedroom floor the last time I arrived home from fieldwork? Well, I have to confess it was those six towels that did it, particularly when combined with the five more I found on his brother’s floor and the distinct absence of clean, dry, sweet smelling towels in the airing cupboard. But I’ve already told you about those. What I maybe didn’t tell you was that I threw a wobbly and when shortly after I left for yet another two weeks work, there were rules. Continue reading →
Neglect. As in My blog has fallen into a state of neglect. I haven’t written anything. It has accumulated spam comments (now deleted, I hope). There are real comments, including some from Reluctant Memsahib, one of my favourite reads, and I haven’t responded. I’ve been busy. I’ve been away. I have lots of excuses. I don’t really like excuses, though. My sister has taken me to task. “Why doesn’t your blog work? It won’t load” she asked. I think it’s sulking.
It’s not that there’s a shortage of material. The holiday, for instance, is begging to be told. Stories about the fading American lady in Fiji Continue reading →
We’re back. We’ve been, we’ve done it, we’ve come home again, the inheritance and all future salaries are spent. 600+ emails, 700+ piles of laundry and millions of raindrops and I know we’re back. Singapore-Port Douglas-Sydney-Fiji-San Diego are already memories. I have pictures and posts planned but am dashing off to Shetland for 2 weeks and first have to finish the work mountain that kept me busy before we left on our Grand Tour. Although, given that I’m still waking up at 5am courtesy of jet lag, I really should make use of those early mornings. But, with the promise to myself that I really will write down some of our tales, here are a couple of photos to make you envious. Or not, as the photo uploader won’t play.
So, 10am I dropped off a jittery, jumpy, couldn’t-sit-still GP2 for his first exam. “I’m not nervous” he said. Hmm. By the time we got to the school he had my stomach turning somersaults. Maths.
It started yesterday, 3pm. “Mum! My calculator’s broken”. “It’ll be the battery” she said sagely and spent the next 20 minutes extricating one of those tiny silver buttons, the sort you never have spares of in the house, from an impossibly tight casing. Dashed up to town for spares. Dashed home to insert. It still didn’t work. Emergency phone call to GPD to purchase new calculator on his way home.
“I can’t do this question! How do I work this out? We’ve not done this.”