All 3 entries tagged Children

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August 24, 2005

Not now Bernard, but maybe later

Yesterday, in Edinburgh, I had an epiphany.

Oh, yes, I hear you laugh and say Edinburgh? In August? And this 'epiphany,' [insert your version of the knowing chuckle here], was it at the dead of night, by any chance? And were you outside the Gilded Balloon or round the back of the Pleasance? You'd just gone to see a film made by students about fifty shades of black, right? Or maybe a conceptual dance show where two naked women weighed down by plastic pearls span round in circles to Tori Amos songs? And I bet you were with one of your friends, someone else who claimed to know someone famous, a grungy hippie nodding quietly, and two Continental guys who weren't sure what was going on? And there was alcohol involved, wasn’t there? You sit back, fold your arms, and wait for my crushed response. There’s always alcohol involved.

But now it is my turn to laugh, in a high and trilling tone, and say, ‘well, rehallay, darling, what sort of girl do you think I am?’ Hmm. At this point I may also have developed curiously immobile flicky-out hair and a name like Cecily. (I should probably point out that the fact that I appear to belong in a 1950s farce was not my revelation. In fact, that’s probably nearer a nightmare.)

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes. This was none of your usual half-baked midnight blinding light sort of experience, sitting with last drink in hand and making up names of constellations to make yourself sound knowledgeable. (Because it’s, like, profound and cool to know about the stars, you know?) This happened in the clear light of day. I was sober. There were even children present.

Yes, that’s right, children. Lots of them. And that is kind of key to the whole epiphany sort of thingygummy. Regular readers will already know about my attitude to the common or garden child in relation to me. I’m a little less than broody. My thinking up till now on the subject would be probably best summed up in an Oscar Wilde misquote – to be around one would be misfortune, to be with two would be just plain carelessness. (None of my friends actually have children yet. When they do the party line will change to incorporate the acceptability of known ones in small cheerful bursts.) So yes, deciding to see out our time in Edinburgh by going to a children’s show seemed a little crazy.

But what the hell. It was Edinburgh. You can do crazy there like nowhere else. So we went completely all out wild and bought tickets for a children’s show, crazy girls that we are. And ‘Not Now Bernard! and Other Monster Tales for Children’ was actually very very good. Well conceived, convincing and amusing, and really enjoyable, even for those of us who weren’t accompanied.

Yet here’s the thing. There were at least fifty children in that room, and not once did I feel irritation towards them. If anything, I actually loved seeing them all completely absorbed by an hour of theatre. They were all rapt. Nobody fidgeted, or cried or got bored. They had such amazing attention spans. If ‘Not Now Bernard’ had been a cartoon it would have been over in ten minutes, and they would have been on to the next thing. I really enjoyed watching them being so enthralled, and so my revelation is this: being around children can be rewarding. I'm still not enamoured of the hyperactive whining, screaming, thrashing three-foot monsters encountered in supermarkets and swimming pools, but I love the kid that sits open-mouthed in a theatre, completely riveted to his seat.

So yes, when I have my baby shower, don’t bother with the layette, the little booties, the hand-stitched blanket and the fifty plastic rattly toys that play tinny nursery rhymes. Give me tickets for the theatre, darling, the theatre. And now I feel my hair flicking up and out again and I’m starting to bat my eyelashes. Shit. Maybe becoming a character in a 1950s farce is a horrible side-effect of this sort of thing. Just don’t let me start persuading you to call me Cecily.

July 17, 2005

Massacre in the swimming pool

I am not best known for my maternal feelings. My attitude to children in general could probably be summed up in a sentence as 'Ahh, that's nice… keep it away from me, please.' Don't get me wrong, I have no aversion to children as a species; I'll hold sleeping babies quite happily until they wake up and start drooling/spitting/crying/peeing/projectile vomiting, and the odd spot of babysitting if a child hasn't had too many E numbers/is feeling like they want to go on a doll dismembering spree is fine. However, anything that involves closer contact than that is liable to send me running for the hills, or at least finding a happy place in my head to visit until the trauma is past. I would even go so far to say that the noise of children playing is actually a pleasant background noise, as long as you're not close enough to realise that they're actually vicious little bastards shouting 'die! die! die!' at each other.

To sum up, I do appreciate the need for their existence, as long as they don't have to exist too near me.

So imagine my distress, gentle reader, to arrive at the local swimming pool to find it teeming with foam floats, abandoned goggles, and children clonking each other over the head with punctured arm bands, screaming. It was kind of like an 17th century sea battle in minature without the attractive men in boots and britches – or maybe that's just because I've been exposed to too much Hornblower recently*. It was Sunday morning at the swimming pool. I should have realised. I felt the way I did when I was travelling home at the perilous hour of 3.40pm, and a whole school of year 9s with dripping fizzy drinks and not enough deodorant swarmed the bus.

I should have admitted defeat then and there. I should have just turned round, gone back out dry and safe, and pretended that my swimsuit was actually just the newest haute couture in gym wear. But I didn't. Like a small fisherman desperate to get home to feed his family in the middle of a great sea battle, I took a deep breath and entered the fray.

I managed a length. I passed a boy forcibly drowning his sister by the pigtails, three girls trying to board an enemy float, two howling babies being thrown in the air by their fathers, and also successfully avoided being kicked by a multitude of flailing limbs, though I had a number of near misses. When I got to the end of the pool, one father spending quality time with a little girl also tried what I think was a chat up line** but then his daughter tried to strangle him with a pair of goggles and I made my escape, to the bubbling sanity of the 'over 18s ONLY' jacuzzi, which, unsurprisingly, was completely deserted.

So, from my private throne, I watched in safety the massacre that followed, kind of like Queen Elizabeth viewing her armada (am I taking this analogy a little far? I think so). I left before the midday whistle and the body count could begin, and the mothers who had desperately tried to keep their hair dry and failed started to drag their offspring from the scene of the incident.

So, the moral of the story? Don't go swimming on a Sunday morning. Children are vicious. And a leetle bit evil and scary.

However, they can also be lovely and charming, and when my friends start reproducing this will be my official line. I also have a horrible suspicion that one day, when my biological clock has done a few more turns, I too will develop a doe-eyed smile, and will become one of those surveying the massacre and surrendering my hairdo with the patient and gentle resignation of one who loves children.


*Ioan Gruffudd and Sam "you will always be Caspian to me" West in the same period drama. Does it get any better, I ask you? Robert Lindsay was also in it, if that's what floats your boat+.

** On me. Not the little girl. Because that would just be wrong. Not that him hitting on me wasn't slightly odd. Why do I always seem to end up in these situations?

+ Horrible pun. Not intended. I apologise.

March 08, 2005

Thought I'd share too…

Writing about Due to popular demand from My name is Layla, I'm not a showgirl

All right, so I never felt like that about the fox in Robin Hood. For one thing, he was a fox. For another thing, green really isn't my colour. But seeing as Layla has seen fit to confess her first crush to the world, it makes mine look normal in comparison, and it was…

Caspian, in the 1989 BBC adaptation of the Chronicles of Narnia (i.e 20 year old Sam West, skipping round in doublet and hose and a big shiny gold helmet). Graced with such costars as a giant fluffy mouse with an earring and a couple of chubby kids straight from drama school, how could he fail to look good? He was the king, I tell you, the king, and he ruled over his clunky polysterene ship with a wonderful authority and a shiny plastic sword. Whether facing monsters made out of cardboard and stickyback plastic, or giving his all to the wooden dialogue he was given, he was the king.

But alas, his story has as tragic an end as that of Robin and Layla's – after six weeks of swaggering round in tights,within two minutes of screen time he wooed and married a lurex wearing fairy with the worst eighties hairdo in the world, and the last I ever saw of him was sipping out of a goblet evidently fashioned from empty washing up bottles, and trying not to get entangled in the mass of frizz as he kissed his bride.

And there endeth my sad tale.

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