Monday, 24 December 2012

Washing the car, and other pointless exercises

It's raining, it's cold, it's Christmas Eve, and my husband is considering washing the car. This must be a man-thing, surely? I have never driven around on a Sunday morning and seen hoards of women cleaning their cars, and yet, there are the men, with buckets, cloths and bottles of Turtle Wax, cleaning an already clean car. 

(Photo: Halfords)


Is it just me, or is it a totally pointless thing to do? I know my lovely Dad would say it stops the car going rusty (by adding water, how does that work?), and I expect he's right somehow, but I live in the middle of the countryside and know that, if I clean my car today, it'll be muddy again tomorrow. Surely, continual washing will just gradually wear away the paint, whereas a coating of grime will protect the car surface from the elements. My friend's daughter has little plants growing on the roof of her car, which, she argues, makes it more environmentally friendly. 

I have stickers of flowers all over my car, which I think distracts viewers from the dirt. They don't see a dirty car, they see sunflowers and bumble bees. My husband and Son Number One hate the flowers. Once, my husband pulled over to have a go at an inconsiderate motorist, but you don't have the same impact when you climb out of a car with pink and purple butterflies on the sides. I love my hippy car. One of the school children asked me if I had been shopping in a nearby town last week. 'Yes,' I said, 'did you see me?' 'No,' he replied, 'but I saw your car in the car park.' Which I thought was rather lovely. (If you feel an urge to Hippify your car, then go to the Hippy Motors website, which helps you to annoy angry motorists with your peaceful calmness and laid-back attitude to driving.)

Anyway, the husband has now decided against washing the car (sensible man) and is watching the football instead. He's taken some training, but he's getting there. He's now less likely to complain about my piles of Important Stuff and actually start one of his own. He accepts that I'd rather read a book than dust things, and if he wants a happy, relatively stress-free wife, then the housework will be done next week. Possibly.

So, it's Christmas tomorrow. Have a wonderful day. Or a great Yuletide, or whatever it is you celebrate. Wishing you, and those you love, a great holiday. Much love. xx

Saturday, 22 December 2012


She made it home. A 10 hour journey by train and bus, carrying a suitcase the size of a small house. Christmas may now begin...

I saw three trains go sailing by...

The daughter is on her way here for Christmas. She left Cornwall in the early hours, and made it as far as Plymouth before the landscape disappeared under water. Trains were cancelled, replacement buses reversed into things, and slowly, slowly, she makes her way here through the rain. 

(Photo: BBC)

And school has finished for the year. Do I cheer, or quietly sob with relief? I was given lots of wine, so soon I'll no longer care. (Have no fear, Dear Daughter, I will leave you a bottle or three...)

We finished the term with a walk to the village church, for our Christmas service. The vicar sees himself as a deeply funny, Bruce Forsyth type character, starting sermons with, 'Nice to see you, to see you...' to which the children just sit silently, staring at him, no doubt thinking he's a complete plonker. Which he is. Sitting in the choir stalls, the oldest juniors, the class teacher and I could hear nothing of the sermon, so we passed the time by picking out the various carved animals in the church. The boys I sat next to kept muttering things to me out of the corners of their mouths. It sounded like Humphrey Bogart telling me about phoenixes and griffins. We even found an elephant. 

On the way back to school, supposedly full of Christian spirit, one girl asked me about the likelihood of her being reincarnated as a fish. I do love working with the older juniors. They're so strange. Actually, I'm thinking of using that conversation in my next creative writing assignment. The short story has been sent (scarlet fever, made as twee-less as possible) and next up is poetry. I'm aiming more for a Michael Rosen feel, rather than Wordsworth. Poetry is also the subject of my children's literature assignment, so I'm hoping they'll help each other on the way to some amazing marks (gives hollow laugh).

And now I must go - there are chocolates to be eaten and facebook updates of the Daughter's progress across the country to be read. If I don't write before, have a wonderful Christmas, and thank you so much for reading this rubbish. 

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

School Christmas Chaos

3 days left at school until the Christmas holidays. It's hard to work with those who are on a continual high (and I'm talking about the staff here). Last night was the annual 'do' at a local pub. Every year, people have a few drinks and get creative. Hacked-off waitresses are left to deal with nativity scenes made of ripped up crackers and drinking straws. One of the TAs does her famous napkin trick (I'm not going into details - the blog gets blocked by Google if I add adult content), and sly photos get taken which are hastily deleted from Facebook.

This lunchtime, it was the children's turn. They sat in the school hall while staff and governors served them their Christmas dinners. It was noisy. Some clever person had bought crackers with whistles inside. Well, that won't happen again - lesson learnt there...So we served them turkey, sausages and veg followed by ice cream. After gravy was spilt, roast potatoes shot across tables, and children stole each others ice cream, we scraped all the veg in the bin and sent the children out for an extra long break-time.

You can guess that our school Christmas tree
 looks nothing like this...

Next was my favourite bit - carols around the Christmas tree. We did the tear-jerkers like Away in a Manger, and Little Donkey. We did the irritatingly happy-clappy ones like Mary Had a Baby. Ms Fab had secretly taught the year 5's and 6's extra words to Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer, which looks set to become a new school tradition. Then it was The 12 days of Christmas, which we make ultra complicated by making the girls and boys sing different bits, that they have to stand up and sit down to. The children are brilliant - it's the adults who are rubbish and get dreadfully mixed up. To finish, and to wind the children up nicely before we sent them out to their parents, we did Jingle Bells, with added jingle and shouty bits. 

Over the next couple of days there are class Christmas parties, where the children will 'play games' (argue over who won at Pass the Parcel) and eat (until they're sick). The standard of party dress depends on which class you go in. Reception children are in jeans (boys) and princess dresses (hopefully just the girls). Infants are in jeans (boys) and leggings with Christmas jumpers (girls). Juniors are in jeans (boys and some girls) or tiny skirts (the rest, who get very cold at break-times).

And then we have Friday, when the children get another long dinner-break so the staff can do their 'Secret Santa'. We have to sit in the staff room and, one by one, open our pressies. 'Oh, that's lovely!' we hopefully get to say. I'll let you know if mine is lovely, or if I get another weird hat-thing. Gulp.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

A woman's prerogative and all that...

I've changed the name of the blog. Sorry to be a pain, but the old one ('I've changed my mind, can I have my money back?') didn't seem to be relevant to what I'm writing about any more. I do still change my mind a lot, that's not any different, and I do feel sorry for my poor husband having to put up with it all, but the blog seems to have veered into school/Open Uni territory more. By the way, anyone want to buy a treadmill?

I have to admit that, when I was typing out the title to this post, I had to look up the spelling of 'prerogative', and it's just as well I did, as I actually thought it was 'per-rogative'. I've been saying it wrong for the past forty-mumble years. (Time for embarrassed wince.) I know I'm not the only one who does such things, thankfully. When my cousin was little, she couldn't say 'anemone'. (Actually, I'm on my second glass of wine, so I'm having the same problem.) Anyway, to stop her tying her tongue in knots, someone told her they were called Ernies. She was well into her thirties before someone asked her what the hell she was talking about. My husband drives me mad by saying 'pacific' instead of 'specific'. The whole family nag him about it, so I have a suspicion he now does it on purpose. 

Sea Ernies

School-wise, the plays are coming to an end, and infant staff have stopped walking around with that forced, 'I'm fine, just don't ask about angel costumes' look to them. Last minute panics over sheep with snotty colds and why baby Jesus had been left in the PE cupboard have been sorted, and staff are piling into the chocolates that wonderful, understanding parents have left in the staff room. (Mrs Howard, I love you.)

Creative writing-wise, I'm back with the Scarlet Fever outbreak, as I couldn't think of an ending for my bookshop story. I got so fed up with it, I childishly typed: 'Then it burnt down and they all died. The end.' I hated my characters so much, I wanted to send a murderer in there to hack them to pieces, but I only had 2200 words, and I'd have needed that for the way the blood spattered up the wall in interesting arcs. I must make sure I send the correct copy as my assignment, or I may score about 9%.

Friday, 7 December 2012

On failed cooking and being horrible to little children...

I think son-number-one's cooking days are at an end. He found a recipe for chocolate brownies that you make in a mug, and the first couple were okay as he was supervised by the girlfriend. Left to his own devices last night, he decided that one measuring spoon was more or less the same size as another and the result nearly set the microwave on fire. The entire house still smells of burnt chocolate. I think he's now realised that cooking really is a waste of time; something I could have told him years ago. 

The Christmas card deliveries have started at school. I have six cards so far and five variations of my surname, but am glad to be appreciated by the children. 

Spelling Is Hard Greeting Cards

Children of all ages are getting higher every day that we get closer to Christmas, and by the end of next week will be bouncing off the walls. The teaching assistant in the infant class is desperate for valium and hoping that the more fidgety children will be ill on Monday, as it's the Nativity play. I've been told there is one well-behaved Wise Man, but the other two are driving her to distraction. 

I have to admit to being unusually grumpy this afternoon, and berated two 10 year olds for sneakily drawing during lessons and then wandering around with bits of paper. After listening to my short-tempered rant, they quietly told me they'd been making me a surprise Christmas picture. One very sheepish apology later, they handed over a rather lovely drawing of me looking all smiley. No doubt they wanted to snatch it back and rip it to pieces, but, to their credit, they forgave me. 

Now I must go and start writing those 90-something Christmas cards. I even bought some coloured pens specially for the job. I do love all the children really you see...shush...don't tell them...

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Oh, the irony...

I read a great blog yesterday, by Katherine Preston. She'd written a bit about irony, and how it's not the dreadful thing that's painted in this article from the New York Times. I completely agree. You may have noticed that I would not get through the day without a heavy dose of irony. People who take themselves too seriously are not attractive, no matter what they look like. Everyone needs a sense of humour. Working with certain children, I would go mad if I couldn't turn being told to get f***ed  into a joke: "Ok, but do you mind if I finish the lesson first?" makes them look the idiots, not me. 

I did make an idiot of myself yesterday, through trying to do a good deed for Mr Chaos (last time I do that, matey....). Most of the staff stayed late after school to put up Christmas decorations in the corridor and classrooms. Mr Chaos had a set of lights for his classroom tree, and, because there were some bulbs missing, we weren't sure if they'd work. He plugged them in. "Are they working?" he asked. "Yes," I answered, then they went out. "Oh, no, they've stopped...they're back on...oh, hang on..." Ok, so no-one told me they were flashing lights, but now all of facebook knows. Cheers for that...

So now the school is all Christmassy. The post-box is ready outside our classroom for those hundreds of cards being sent in the next couple of weeks. It doesn't matter how many letters of instruction we send home, we'll still get lots of cards that just say "To Joshua," or "To Chloe," on the front, and we'll have to work out which of the several dozen people it's meant for. I will have many interesting variations of my name, no doubt, not helped by the fact that another teaching assistant has a very similar name. We've often taken home each other's cards and had to bring them back the next day, "This must be yours, it says 'Thanks for being lovely,' and I know I haven't been, not to this child..."