Month: March 2016

Why I can’t stop watching Game of Thrones

I’ve recently started watching Game of Thrones and every night, and as I watch another episode I ponder what it is that I like about it. I really like it. In fact, I love it. So I’ve been trying to work out why. It’s not my usual TV passion. After all, I like The Gilmore Girls and The West Wing, these are not happy bedfellows for Game of  Thrones.

This is why I find Game of Thrones appealing.

  1. It reminds me of epic pieces of literature such as War and Peace. I love War and Peace. What makes War and Peace so great is how confusing it all is with too many characters and lots of intrigue and incestuous activities. Game of Thrones has this in common with War and Peace. There are also too many people to remember and plenty of incestuous activity, and I spend a lot of the time when watching it trying to work out who the hell is who and whether they should be doing this with that person or not.

    A great epic tale of many people falling out and sleeping with each other

    A great epic tale of many people falling out and sleeping with each other

  2. It reminds me of Dallas. I used to love Dallas as a child. Dallas was all about families and power. So is Game of Thrones. Families fall out. Oh it is so exciting.

    The Lanisters?

    The Lanisters?

  3. It is set in a fantasy historic past. I think anyone who remembers the imaginative adventures of their childhood will have a soft spot for fantasy historic pasts where princesses were princesses, everyone rode on horses, men were blindingly handsome yet able to rip a wild boar steak with their teeth with finesse and everyone had scraggly hair and grubby faces.
  4. It is cosy. It is a winter programme. They sleep under furry blankets in Game of Thrones and they sleep next to roaring fires. It makes me feel cosy. I used to love cosy TV as a child so I love this also as an adult.

    Inherited from my Game of Thornes ancesters

    Inherited from my Game of Thornes ancesters

  5. They sometimes refer to their bowel movements. This is bound to win me over after my weird thoughts on why people in science fiction don’t go to the toilet or at least talk about it. This alone makes Game of Thrones more quirky than it might be otherwise.
  6. One of the main characters is a feisty girl. I’ve always been attracted to literature (or film) which includes a feisty female character. It reminds me of the best books of my childhood: Little Women, The Famous Five and Anne of Green Gables. I wanted to be all of the feisty females in those books.

    Feisty females - we all want to be one

    Feisty females – we all want to be one

  7. Every conversation (except those about going to the toilet) is intense and dark. It is a very sexy TV programme. I don’t usually like unrealistic conversations when they never ask anyone if they fancy a cup of tea or whether they saw last night’s EastEnders but in this case, it seems so appropriate.
  8. In common with some of the best science fiction of the last century, Game of Thrones has symbolic meaning for all the power struggles that have happened throughout history. It speaks about the political and social struggles that we continue to have time and time again. I love that about it. It is a thinking programme.
  9. It is unpredictable. Just when you think things are going along swimmingly, along comes a gory beheading or the ghastly yet sudden death of one of the main characters.
  10. The characters are likeable, even the baddies. I love the baddies. My favourite was white-haired brother (see point 11) until he came to a sudden (see point 9) end.
  11. Finally, I like the fact that I have no idea what the real names of the characters are and I doubt I ever will. I have my own pet names for them: little quick-witted chap; white-haired, grey-eyebrowed straggly girl who is married to GRRRRR man who speaks Klingon (or not after the end of Season One); drippy girl who fancies the boy who looks like Malfoy; big, fat, dead drunk king; the rumpy pumpy twins; Sean Bean; Sean Bean’s wife; feisty girl; and the chancellor of the exchequer who owns a brothel (to name but a few (there are so many)).

    I'm also a king in Game of Thrones

    I’m also a king in Game of Thrones

I’m only on Season Two but I am going to keep watching almost every night. They call me Mother of Cats.

Ten childish things that adults should do

This is a weird thought I had this morning as I stepped into a puddle on my way home from the dentist simply in order to make wet footprints. I’m in my 40s. I shouldn’t get pleasure from this, surely? But thinking about this, I realised that I seem to find pleasure in a whole variety of ‘childish’ activities (and indeed I’ve written about something similar before here). I would like to know whether this is unusual or do we all retain some our six-year-old self all our lives?

Here is my list of Ten Childish Things We Should All Do Now and Then.

  1. Step in a puddle to make footprints. Of course this should go without saying but I thought I’d say it anyway. I urge you, dear reader, to do this. It is quite good fun. Even better: jump in a puddle, as hard as you can.

    Love doing this.

    Hours of fun.

  2. Walk on fresh snow. I still love to do this. There’s something about freshly landed snow that screams ‘put your stamp on me’.
  3. Pretend to be royalty. When I was a child I would often play out a scenario in my head that I was really a princess and I’d been adopted by ordinary people who had jobs and and who worried about money. My brother and my sister, as annoying as they were, weren’t of the same blood as me and at the time I found that most reassuring. My real mum and dad, the Queen and King of an exotic tiny European country, were just waiting to find me. I still enjoy pretending that I am really a lost princess. What’s the harm in it?

    My real mum? Well only in my childhood fantasy

    My real mum? Well only in my childhood fantasy.

  4. Play in the bath. As a child, one of my favourite places to be was in the bath. I was the land, the water was the sea. Or the bubbles were patterns. Or perhaps I was Cleopatra bathing in milk? I might be lost at sea looking for my desert island (I had a vivid imagination). I still sometimes imagine these things in my head when I’m bored in the bath (yet another reason why baths are better than showers).
  5. Run when not particularly late. Walking is boring. I like to run. I sometimes run to school to pick up the children. I run to the shop. I run up the stairs. I run down corridors. Walking is so boring.
  6. Cycle through a puddle with legs up high. Yes, I’m guilty of doing this from time to time. I love it.
  7. Draw on a steamed-up window. I do this a lot. The children get blamed for it. Why is it always assumed that it is the children who draw on steamed-up windows? Why can’t adults do it too?

    Vanilla Graffiti

    Vanilla Graffiti

  8. Pick at wood-chip wallpaper. This isn’t something I get the chance to do very often. I wish I did. I used to love doing this as a child and I am sure that I would find this deeply pleasurable as an adult as well. Sadly, wood-chip paper is hard to find these days.
  9. Blow bubbles into a drink. This is one of my favourites. This was regarded as the height of rudeness as a child so as an adult, the pleasure is deep.

    Blow those bubbles.

    Blow those bubbles.

  10. Burp the alphabet. Go on, give it a try. If number nine was rude, this one was evictable. I could add a few other bodily activities but the list will be too large and there are a few! Should I admit to a desire to bottle my botty burps? Perhaps not.


Why I don’t like showers

Lots of people clean themselves in the shower. Some even do it every day. Some of those same people actually prefer that method of self-cleaning to lying in a bath of water. I’ve never been one of those people. I love baths. I look forward to baths. I wallow in baths.

Water on your face anyone?

Water on your face anyone?

Perhaps that is because I grew up without a shower (I don’t think we had a shower in our house until I was about 14 and even then it was rarely used). There have been times in my life since then when I have not had access to a bath. When I lived in student accommodation in Amsterdam, we only had showers. As far as I remember there was one bath but we didn’t use it and I can’t now remember why (it was over 20 years ago). The following year, again while a student, this time back in Exeter, I again had to put up with a bathroom with only a shower. Actually, even worse than that, it was a wet room (what a horrid concept). For both those years I struggled. I know that this is a real First World problem but that is a sad fact of human nature, we are able to empathize with those less fortunate than ourselves in one breath and then we can moan about the lack of chocolate in the house in the next and not spot the irony.

A much more fun place to be

A much more fun place to be

Anyway, back on topic, here is a list of reasons why I don’t like showers.

  1. Showers are all about standing. I don’t like standing up to get clean. Standing up is hard work. We stand when we wait for things, or we are doing this such as cooking or cleaning or working (sometimes). So why stand up to clean ourselves?
  2. Showers are boring. There’s nothing to do in the shower. When I do have to have a shower I’m in and out in less than five minutes because I can’t think of anything more dull than standing while water flows down me.
  3. Showers don’t feel hugely pleasant. When I’m in the shower, water gets in my eyes, up my nose, in my ears and my hair sticks to my head and neck. It’s not pleasurable at all.
  4. Showers are for narcissists and not the shy. I can see my reflection in the plastic doors when I’m having a shower at home. I don’t like that, no thanks. I don’t like watching myself do Zumba in the reflection of the glass windows and I’ve got clothes on then so I like seeing myself naked in the shower even less.
  5. Waterproof books haven’t been invented. You can’t read your book in the shower. This is actually the biggest reason why I don’t like showers. Who wants to get clean and not have something else they can do at the same time, such as read? Not being able to read and relax turns self-cleaning into a chore. There are enough chores in the day why add one more?
  6. Showers aren’t places in which to multi-task. You can’t work in the shower. Perhaps this is just one for freelancers but, yes, I do sometimes take my work into the bath. I haven’t yet resorted to hooking up my laptop to an extension cable and balanced on a chair by the bath but I do print out work to read while in the bath.
  7. Showers aren’t relaxing. Related to point 1. above, you can’t lie down and relax in the shower. I suppose you could but I think it would be quite cold and pointless.
  8. Cats don’t like showers. The cat doesn’t visit me in the shower, whereas she will quite happily walk along the edge of the bath when I’m in the bath. I like company when I’m in the bath.
  9. Showers aren’t conducive to creative thinking. I have ideas when I’m in the bath (which can be terribly inconvenient if I haven’t got a pen and paper (see point 6.)). That doesn’t happen in the shower because when I’m in the shower I’m usually just feeling grumpy and cross so the creative juices don’t flow.
  10. Showers means watery drinks. Finally, you can’t drink a G&T in the shower. Does this need any explanation?
Not really a shower tipple

Not really a shower tipple

Moving again…

This isn’t a weird thought. Instead, this is therapy for me. So please indulge me. This is me pouring out all the thoughts in my head at the moment in the hope that it will make me feel better. I’ve had a hard few days and I need to share. First, the background.

We’ve been grumbling and rumbling about moving house for just over a year now. When our eldest found out he had a place at a grammar school 40 minutes away we first seriously talked about the prospect of a move. We had casually talked about it before when he decided to take the exam for the grammar school. But once he had a place, the conversation went up a level. When we did have that first serious conversation, my reaction was to burst into tears (this was last March). I was happy for our son but upset about the prospect of moving. I didn’t want to move. In my mind, it was imminent. I wasn’t even close to being mentally or emotionally ready. I had only just about stopped grieving for our move from Charlbury to Shrewsbury (and that took me five years to accept fully!). But then time passed. I returned to that happy place of denial. We got on with life. A whole year has now passed. We have spent this last year making the house a little prettier, partly for ourselves and partly for a ‘future’ move that didn’t ever seem to appear. It was just that, a ‘future’ move. It was transparent. It wasn’t set in stone.

We lived in the left-hand cottage

We lived in the left-hand cottage before moving to Shrewsbury

The problem I have now is that that ‘future’ has now arrived. Last weekend we all realised that there is nothing now to stop us moving. The house is as pretty as it is likely to get. So last week, after a couple of days of realisation, we decided that it was time to contact The Estate Agents. The ‘future’ was just about still at that point the ‘future’. In many ways, even last week I was still in denial. However, yesterday those Estate Agents came round. They appeared in their suits and with their leather brief cases. They sashayed into the house with their shiny shoes and ‘ooh lovely original features’. They had come into the house, invited, looked around, and made judgements. I didn’t like it. I didn’t like them. How dare they?

We want to sell your house

We want to sell your house

My reaction to these visitors? I was a mess. I was an emotional wreck all day. I cried four times in total. Why? Because although my head sees the need to move, my heels are struggling to dig themselves out of the ground. For my children, I accept the need to move. But for me, I love my life here. I love it. I really do. I am happy. Content is me. I have friends. I have purpose. I am busy. I just love it. I’m a school governor, I’m the publicity stroke marketing guru for the school PTA (or Friends of Crowmoor as they are called). I have lots of friends whom I am extremely fond of. I may only see them twice a day and often we only exchange vague pleasantries but they mean the world to me. I go to Zumba once a week. (And yes, I shed a tear at Zumba last night but thankfully nobody noticed.) I love Zumba. It defines my Mondays. I love Shrewsbury. I love the fact I can zip into town on my scooter and get myself a coffee within ten minutes of leaving the house and be in Waterstones shortly after. I love the atmosphere here. I’ve met so many weird and wacky, normal and kind, amazing and wonderful people. I love the fact that our cat is called ‘dirty bit of grit on the floor’ in Salopian. I love the cobbly streets, the quirky shops, the weird-sounding Meole Brace which I still call Melrose Brace. And I just feel at home here. This is my home. It’s taken me eight years, but it is firmly my home.

But we have to move. I fully accept that. And a good chunk of me is excited about it. New house. New roots. New environment. And I have every confidence that we will find a nice new place to live, a house just as lovely as this one. I am sure I will meet more lovely people who will become friends. I accept that I will form new bonds and have new experiences.

I can’t expect my son to commute for seven years, leaving at 7.15am and back at 5.30pm (that’s on days he doesn’t have a club). The boy is exhausted. If the next boy goes to the same school (which he would like to) then living here is even less sensible. But emotions and common sense are not good bed fellows. My life is governed by my heart, not my head. So I am struggling at the moment.

He won't have to commute so far soon

He won’t have to commute so far soon

This is only the first stage in the process. Tomorrow we are going to tell one of the chappies with shiny shoes ‘yes, you can try to sell our house’. So the sign will go up. But the end isn’t quite here yet. The last time we decided to move house it took two years (hindered slightly by a flood). So watch this space. But, dear Shrewsbury friends, if I suddenly burst into tears for no apparent reason over the next few weeks, this blog explains why. When the times comes to leave, miss you all, I will. Back to visit? Oh yes. That is, if you will have me.

Cool names for cats

We have one cat. She’s called Aki. We named her Aki as that is Japanese for autumn and she has autumn colours in her fur. We thought that was very clever and interesting.

Our cat

Our cat

It turns out that ‘aki’ is not a cool name for a Shropshire cat. ‘Aki’ in Shropshire-ease is an adjective to describe something that is germy and most likely found abandoned on the ground. For example, in the sentence: ‘Don’t pick up that, it’s aki’. (I’m not sure that it the correct spelling of the Shropshire ‘aki’.) I am asked this question a lot: ‘Why did you call your cat Aki?’

Aki the cat

Aki the cat

The cat we had before Aki (in fact there was an overlap but that’s not important to this weird thought) was called Liquorice. We didn’t name her. She came pre-named. She wasn’t black. I liked the fact that we had a non-black cat named after a very black sweet derived from a root. I also liked her name because for me personally it was ironic. I hate Liquorice. So every time I declared ‘Yuch, I hate liquorice’ I would be met with the cry of ‘Awww, what has she ever done to you?’

The lovely Liquorice

The lovely Liquorice

We’ve already decided on the names of our next two cats (yes, before we’ve even met them). I’ve decided that naming future cats is more fun than naming future babies (not that there will be any of those now).

The first next cat is going to be called Fire. This name came from the fact that whenever the children trail a piece of string in front of the cat (Aki) I tell them ‘Stop playing with fire’. With the next cat, my sentence will have a literal interpretation.

The second next cat is going to be called Temptation. Every night when I put my dinner plate on the carpet (I know, eating in front of the TV is so late 20th century) I tell my husband ‘I really shouldn’t put this in front of temptation’. Temptation, of course, refers to the cat (Aki). Again, I like the idea of my oft-used phrase becoming literal.

The third cat I suspect will be named ‘Get Down’. Again, for the humour factor derived from a mutation from a command to a literal meaning. As in ‘Get Down!’ This is what my husband says to Aki daily.

The fourth cat? I don’t know yet. I’ll be lucky if we get that far.