Monday, 31 October 2011

Candy and strangeness

Never trust a grown-up.

A grown-up is just the sort of person who will come bounding home from the shop with four pumpkins, grinning like a loon.

Smashing pumkins. 
A grown-up may then neglect her responsibilities and devote an entire afternoon to carving giant robot jack-o-lanterns with you.

A grown-up might put on Thriller and dance all over the sofa in a most un-grown-up-like fashion.

Any grown-up worth her salt will then cut holes in an old white bed-sheet so that you can run around the house like Casper, clocking the walls with your forehead because you've got the eye-holes on backwards.

A grown will bring you a cobwebby Halloween witch hat. And when the excitement reaches fever pitch, a grown-up will take you by the hand and lead you out into the gathering Halloween darkness.

For candy.Your one true love in this life. Your first thought upon waking, and your last thought before sleep.

Not a turnip. 
A high quality grown-up will make sure you get plenty of candy. She will then take you home and attempt to thrust your now candy-explosives-fueled self into pajamas. This act will look like a clown trying to squeeze a rabid lion into a jam jar. Sometimes your grown-up is a turnip.

You will break free from your now slightly twitchy grown-up and  run to kiss your  magical giant robot jack-o-lanterns goodnight, sleep tight, don't let the robot bugs bite.

Pacified and straight-jacketed at last, your certified grown-up will hold you tight and sing you a song. She will tell you how much she loves you and plant kisses on each cheek. You will fall into a contented slumber, the memory of kisses warm and velvety on your cheeks, like melting butter over Saturday pancakes.

Fly my pretties!
At this point your formerly grade AAA rated grown-up will softly close the door and tip-toe to the kitchen. Here she will proceed to skin all four of your lovely giant robot jack-o-lanterns and turn them into soup.

This is why you should never trust a grown-up. In spite of the fact that soup is delicious.

As your grown-up stirs a molten vat of giant robot carcasses, she will hum 'Thriller' contentedly to herself. She will think silly thoughts in the quiet of her cozy post-bedtime world. Thoughts like: 'First of all, it was October, a rare month for girls...'

You will eat the soup for lunch tomorrow and never suspect a thing. Which is another reason.

Monday, 24 October 2011

The Space-Being and the Iron Man

Chaos HQ is currently preoccupied with giants and robots. There are more of these creatures about urban world than you might expect. So we scour the city for them.

Giants and robots generally don't camouflage well. But grown-ups are usually too busy to notice them.

Ana's fascination with robots goes back a long time. She has been constructing robots from foil and empty boxes for months.

But her fascination with giants is newer. It began last week when a nice man showed up to install fire-proofing stuff around our door-frame at the behest of the local residents' association.

"Fee, Fi, Fo, Fum, and that."
 Her eyes grew wide as the man explained his task.

Then she exclaimed: "It's not for fire, it's to keep out the giant robots!"

You see, Ana may be four but she is no turnip.

And of course the nice man did nothing to dissuade her of this notion. Nor did I. In fact we both did our utmost to egg her on.

Since that fateful moment she has become like the neighbourhood watch, only cuter. She is a curtain-twitcher at home, and remains vigilant when out in the big world. She sees robots from her bedroom window on a regular basis, and has an eagle eye for spotting them all over London.

Occasionally we hit the jackpot and locate an awesome giant robot like this one, thus killing two electronic birds with one virtual stone.

This guy happens to live at the British Library, where a continual stream of deep-in-thought people flows by him, unblinking, unnoticing.

Amazing how the human eye can miss the giant in the room. Which makes me thank my lucky stars for doorway fire-proofing stuff. Were it not for that, I might now have a household giant metal man infestation on my hands.

Monday, 17 October 2011


Yesterday Ali toddled off and the house went suddenly quiet. Not a great thing, considering that "quiet" and "toddler" go together like "bucket of petrol" and "lit match". So I went to find Ali and prepared myself to douse at least one fire.

I found her sitting zen-like on my bed, reading The Prophet with a look of deep concentration and wisdom on her little face.

A good friend gave Papa and I a copy of this book when we got hitched. It's grown into one of my favourite books over the years. So it filled me with pride to see her reading it, if upside-down.

I love Ali's look of wise concentration. It is not a look that you generally see on two year old kids' faces. It is the sort of look that inevitably makes grown-ups laugh, because seriousness in children is pretty adorable (much to the chagrin of serious children).

It is because of Ali's trademark expression that I tell anyone who will listen that she is going to be a metaphysicist when she grows up.

But who knows where the wind will take her little feet? I can only dream that she outruns me by a million miles.

Which brings me to my favourite passage in the The Prophet.
Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, and though they are with you, yet they belong not to you. You may give them your love but not your thoughts. For they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls, for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. 
Poor Ali is recovering from a bug. She doesn't  get along well with bugs. We've neither of us slept a lot this week, and this passage has been ticking across my interrupted dreams like subtitles.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Next time won't you snore with me

Do you have trouble sleeping? I can help.

I've just been interviewed by the alphabet. Yes, the alphabet. This is not the sort of thing that happens to me every day. So I'm feeling like a bit of a smug jerk right now.

The interview was arranged by the lovely lionness Frankie Parker and the talented meerkat Christine. Since my life is considerably less exciting than theirs, if you read to the end of the transcript, you'll be snoring like a baby in no time flat.

Warming up for Zzzz...
ANORAK: Do you have a sad side? 
Yes, I make jam. No, I'm not your grandmother.  

BODY: What physical attribute would you most like to change? 
I'd shave my head to save on the hassle of brushing. But then I'd look silly. Er, sillier. 

CELEBRITY: Which one would you most like to date and why? 
Roger Rabbit. He makes me laugh. 

DEBUT: What made you start blogging? 
The voices in my head won the war against common sense. 

ERROR: What's your biggest regret?
I regret all those cakes in shop windows that I walked straight on by without stopping. 

FUNNY: Who makes you laugh?
Roger Rabbit, see exhibit C. 

GRAND: If we gave you one how would you spend it?
I could buy a lot of cake with a grand. It would be worth it. 

Saturday, 8 October 2011

This week at Chaos HQ

We are boldly going where no short person has gone before: the interdisciplinary world of alien mechanical engineering. Luckily we are aided by Q Pootle 5 and a trusty tin of cat food.
Earth to Moon Unit: Do you read me?
Isil, the talented virtual pen behind Smiling Like Sunshine, is highlighting Children's Book Week over on her home planet. There you can discover short person books on alien mechanical engineering and everything else under whichever sun you happen to live by.

Monday, 3 October 2011


My favourite people come in two flavours: the ones I miss because I moved, and the ones I miss because they moved.

A&E Mum belongs to the latter, although I moved away from Metroland shortly after she did. We became friends by giggling, passing notes, and otherwise behaving poorly in ante-natal class while heavily pregnant.

In particular we bonded over a surreal labour induction presentation, which rather unusually was demonstrated on a man. Unsurprisingly, it wasn't a successful induction. It escalated into a full-blown cesarean demo, which was also an appalling failure both in medical and demo terms.

I'm pretty sure fake male inductions are a felony in Alabama. But the man in question is now leading a fairly normal life under a new identity.

Innocent when you dream. 
Nothing since, not even childbirth, has been half as scary or bonkers as ante-natal class. So in a strange way it really did prepare A&E Mum and I for having children by increasing our surrealism threshold.

A&E Mum has just reminded me of our early days in suburban babyland, cloistered off from the grown-up world. We ate cake and discussed weaning while our babies scrounged for muddy worms and damsons in the back garden.

This memory has left me alternately giggling and weeping into my Hovis. You see, I suffer from a crippling case of postpartum sentimentality.

Moving on is part of growing up. But I regret that I don't get to watch the A&E family grow up alongside my kids.

There was something wonderfully innocent about our days in deepest, darkest Metroland. It was not so much the babies, but rather us mamas and papas who were innocent. We thought weaning was complicated.

I suspect eventually my children will grow into movers and inherit my burden: they will miss the people they love.

Two years ago I read a piece on being and foreignness that really sums it up: 'It is not the possibility of returning home which feeds nostalgia, but the impossibility.'

To a mover, places cease to exist in geography and instead become points in time. For instance, New Mexico is my childhood. California is my youth. Metroland is when I had my babies.

For that I forgive Metroland its various other faults.