Tag Archives: Marsden

I Don’t Bring Me Flowers.

14 Jan

“Hey Mum! Dad’s home and looks like he’s bought you some flowers!”

It’s been a long and hard few weeks. To say the least. Dishwasher died just before Christmas. Okay – the least of my worries, but bloody annoying nonetheless. Although I’ve been putting on a brave face. I’ve been trying to *pretend* that I don’t mind spending hours and hours chained to the kitchen sink in addition to all of the other millions of things that I do in life. Telling myself stuff along the lines of … chatting to the kids whilst they eat their tea and do their homework is ‘bonding.’ Reassuring myself that forcing them to put away the clean dishes is ‘promoting a sense of responsibility.’

But in truth, it’s been yet another big pain in the arse. And it came hot on the heels of the central heating packing up, the leaking chimney stack and the car needing several hundred more spending on it than we anticipated.

Still, it seems that my other half must have clocked that I was looking even more in need of botox than I normally do. Seemed that he’d picked up on the grottier than usual passive-aggressive remarks emanating from me. And had chosen to bring a smile to my lips by way of floral-treat.

I looked away when he walked through the front door. Pretending that I didn’t know. Not wanting to spoil the little surprise that he had planned for me. And then the 7 year old piped up again; “Oooh, Dad – that’s a nice flower thing for Mum. It’ll cheer her up. She’s been a right miserable old bag.”

A Coffee Plant. A rare thing that gets the coffee-heads down at the Roastery all giddy. But ..?

Coffee. A v rare plant in the UK, that gets the coffee-heads down at the Roastery all a- giddy. But. Really ..?

But Father didn’t seem to hear what the kid was wittering on about. And minutes later, the fella still hadn’t presented me with them. Instead, he was busily engaged in his usual tea-time ritual, feretting about with the toaster, trying to sort his crumpets and jam out. And then I saw it. Right next to the toaster crouched ‘my flowers’.

Which were, in fact – a coffee plant.

Yes, yet again – my other half had brought his work home with him. Although usually it’s bags of freshly roasted coffee, labels and gripes about the giant coffee firms who treat farmers overseas like crap. But today it was the Real McCoy.

And our youngest – not the most discerning when it comes to noticing what flowers could and should look like – had mistaken the plant for a loving gesture aimed at Ma.

I expertly showed not the slightest smattering of disappointment. Instead, I said; “Why’ve you brought the coffee plant home?” In between gobfuls of crumpet he replied, “Too cold in the roastery right now. Need to keep it here.”

“Goodo,” I said. And then added, “Funny – when we saw you with something green and leafy coming through the door, the kids assumed that you had bought me flowers! Imagine that! Hilarious eh? Can’t remember the last time you…”

He gave me a look. “Well. You categorically told me never to buy you flowers again. Don’t you remember? You said that they were an empty-handed gesture and you preferred more meaningful presents as a way of apology. For any guilt-ridden feelings that I might be entertaining.”

I was rather incredulous when faced with this statement. “And you believed me?!” I replied.  Following it up with;”HOW long have we been married?”

Somebody loves me. ME! ME! ME!!!

Somebody loves me. ME! ME! ME!!!

But we left it at that. Probably served me right for being so convincing when I’ve got a bee in my bonnet over something.

Anyway. The whole point of this blog is more about what transpired the next day. I happened to be trundling around Morrisons, when I noticed a rather forlorn looking bunch of roses. Reduced to less than a quid.

It suddenly occurred to me that I have never – ever – bought flowers for myself.  Not because I judge people who engage in such frippery and tokenistic gestures as being shallow and simple-minded souls (if I *DID* think that – one of my bessie-mates, our Lesley would give me a good old fashioned Mancunian pow-slap in the chops, because she’s always spending her cash on floral tributes to herself.) Nah – I’ve just never bought them for myself because it had never occurred to me that I could. That I like flowers. That they perk your living room up a bit and that – for less than a quid – you’d be a bit of a berk to look a gift horse in the mouth. That you don’t need a partner, a child, a friend or *anyone else* in your life to do something nice for you. When you can do it for yourself. Liberation, sisters!

And it’s even more rewarding when, later on in the evening your other half gets home and comments; “Nice roses. Who bought you those?” And you get to screech back at him;

“ME!  ME! ME! I BOUGHT MYSELF FLOWERS BECAUSE NOBODY ELSE WANTED TO!”

And when he resorts back yet again with the; “Well – you told me NOT to…” you can just cut him off at the pass and say;

“Oh go and talk to your coffee plant. I’m sure that it makes more sense than I do. And stick your crumpet in the toaster. Because that’s the only crumpet you’ll be getting, for a few weeks.”

A match made in heaven.

A match made in heaven. Aw. (Really)

Chocs Away!

19 Jul

Well, I thought that ‘Chocs Away’ was a much better title than ‘All About My Book Launch.’  If you are a newcomer to this blog (welcome pals!) then you will soon discover that my daughter has dyslexia and that it leads to many interesting ‘language moments’ … (See ‘Be Enterprising’ blog below.)

As we were chatting about the book launch in the run up to it all, I could see the cogs and wheels turning in my girl’s mind.  She is now (at the age of 9) beginning to realise that she does have a special relationship with language. A wonderful mynah bird gift and a strong tendency towards taking things very literally.

So I was rather chuffed when she said; ‘Okay, I realise now that you’re not really going to fire your books off into the air for people to catch them. Like a bride at a wedding with her flowers. ‘Cause, anyway – that would be really stupid as the building is right next to the canal,’

‘Good!’ I said. ‘We call it a launch because … like a rocket or like a ship. Or a missile – we want to put it out there. Get it started off.’

‘Chocs Away!’ shrieked the 6 year old (no idea where he got that from.)

‘Yes…..’ I replied.

‘Wow!’ she continues.  ‘So, are we going to be having a load of chocolate there too?’

I gave up trying to explain more at that stage (although it did turn out that the choccy analogy was a good one as the key protagonist in ‘Mind Games and Ministers’ is a woman who is running a chocolate social enterprise Up North.) Still, my budget didnt stretch to giving out complimentary chocolate bars – but my lovely guests did get to go hyper on some very posh coffee, on the best cakes ever to tickle the tastebuds of west Yorkshire folk (courtesy of Ma Longden) and to hear me doing a reading from my book.

Incidentally, for me – the most fun bit about having had a book published is the reading aloud to the audience thing. At kiddy bedtime, my other half often tries to prevent me from reading to them (‘They’re too old! They can read now! You get all giddy and an hour later you’ve got them looking at youtube on the film version of the book!’) But I just love to read aloud to them (unless its Michael Morpurgo which my daughter has banned because ‘even you with your weird voices mum, can’t make his stuff exciting for me. Soz.’)

So the best bit about the book launch was that I got to play at bedtime story reading AND unlike kiddy-bedtime, I got to swear throughout it!  Reading - lady behind me already asleep?

What else was special about the launch?

Give me Da Moolah! (And I'll lose it.)

Give me Da Moolah! (And I’ll lose it.)

Well… my kids attended (and behaved themselves. Although you should never let a 9 year old with dyscalculia collect money from your book sales. We still don’t know where the missing tenner is.) My parents were there and worked like trojans in order to make the place look dazzling (despite rather too many of my writer friends being arty-farty types who wouldn’t know an honest day’s work if it hit them.)  Everyone enjoyed the fact that we were in the middle of a brand new Coffee Roastery. And we were right next to the Huddersfield narrow canal (coffee and canals…two of my favourite things in life.)

Audience unimpressed with strong language. They are mostly from west Yorkshire. Nuff said.

Audience unimpressed with strong language. They are mostly from west Yorkshire. Nuff said.

And I loved the fact that I got to wear my Granny’s gold charm bracelet.  My good luck nod to Gran. Would she have been proud of me? Probably not. Shouting profanities in the middle of a gathering of very well dressed and rather well to do people? Nah. She would have accused me of being ”common’ or ‘a right Miss Kek.’

That bracelet - but a less than charming gob ...

That bracelet – but a less than charming gob …

Post-launch slump?  I’d missed the copy of the newspaper which covered the launch. Jim from the Gym had asked all of his mates to see if anyone had that edition. Thankfully someone had. That evening I happened to mention this to my other half. A look of abject horror on his face. ‘Oh God. I cleaned the windows today.’   Ten minutes later the precious extract – which I had been keeping for my children as evidence that their mother wasn’t a totally useless old slapper – was brought out from the recycling bin.

So…. we have lived in this house for nearly 7 years now. And we have only ever cleaned the windows three times (and one of those times it was my dad who did it – ‘Can’t bloody stand looking through that filth any longer.’)  And on the third attempt, my husband decided to scrub the grime off the windows. Using his wife’s face.    How very Freudian.

Anyway.  See below. This is what it looked like afterwards.   Moral of the tale? A most northern lesson. ‘Don’t Get Above Yerself Too Much, Lady…’

 

A scrunched up Me and the Local MP!

A scrunched up Me and the Local MP!

 

 

 

Bicycles … Yorkshire … Africa?

19 May

Me. Fresh as a daisy! Yeah, right.

Back from sub-saharan Africa … a houseswap … a work-related project … and a ‘holiday’ (employing inverted commas here because is it *ever* a holiday when accompanied by humans under the age of 21 who happen to be your own, delightful offspring?)

So much to report on  and to ruminate over after our little jaunt to The Motherland. To begin with – how we dealt with such an enormous lack of internet, cell phones, a TV, doorbells and immediate neighbours (none within a mile …)

All of this was utterly weird at first. And then it became incredibly wonderful.  And I am missing it already. After the first few hours of adjustment, we began to see it all as a bit like a gift from the big guy upstairs (NB – apologies to my Brit next-door neighbour, Lisa  – who really shouldn’t take offence at the above paragraph. Our Lisa is welcome anytime of the day at our slum – especially if the cuppas are accompanied by our usual bitch-fest with regards to certain Kirklees household refuse collectors!)

But one thing that I am really noticing since we got back is the sheer volume of giddiness with regards to Le Tour Yorkshire here in The Valleys.

Don’t get me wrong – I am chuffed to mintballs about the fact that Le Tour is going to be wheeling it’s way through God’s Own Country. Many of our local writer-sorts worked their batties off in order to get a teensy bit of grant-funding so that we could mix n’ mash writing and the arts and expose the usual wheely-obsessed sorts to our local scribbling talent (YOU GO Holme village and the Yurt and our postcard project!)

But having had many conversations with desperately poor people in southern Africa as to the the tiny things that would improve their lives, I cannot help but have a slightly different perspective on things on my return home.  Apart from food, healthcare and education – one of the things that cropped up time and again was ‘transport’.

“Just a bicycle to share between our families, would really make such a difference,” was something that we heard an awful lot…

Owning a bicycle would mean that those people in Namibia, in rural Botswana, Zambia, Zim or South Africa – those who might live out in the former townships and who are the fortunate ones to have jobs out in the towns – don’t have to spend one-fifth of their meagre wages on transport. Owning a bicycle would mean access to emergency help when problems arise. Owning a bicycle would mean true independence – a foothold on the ladder to dignity. Owning a bicycle would mean having enough food in order to stop your children from dying of malnutrition.

And really, I am not exaggerating this last point. I’ve just arrived back home to the UK. I witnessed a deterioration in circumstances for the poorest people in Namibia since only a few years ago, when I lived there myself. I saw what a difference just a few pennies a week can make. In terms of life and death amongst the bairns in the Kalahari…

But more on that, later.

So. for now.  Let’s celebrate our marvellous chance to show the world how Yorkshire Rocks in terms of our hills and valleys – but let’s also have a serious think about how we can turn some of the media spotlight and the inevitable money involved in Le Tour – into something that will actually benefit the world’s poor.

And yeah. I am inviting Answers and Ideas On A Postcard. Please!

Le Tour Yorkshire – and indeed Holmfirth – came with us. But we would have loved to have left a permanent legacy in a land that so desperately needs two-wheelers…