Monday, 10 January 2011

Childhood, Revisited

Monday, 10 January 2011
My Grandma and I always had a very special relationship.  First grandchild and all that.  Growing up in Canada while she was thousands of miles away in England seemed, if anything, to strengthen the special bond we shared.  She was exceedingly thoughtful and generous, and it is partly to her I give credit for instilling in me a love of literature and storytelling. 

And here is why:

Does anyone else remember a serial magazine that came out in the early 80’s in the UK, called Story Teller? 

It was produced by Marshall Cavendish, and was a fortnightly publication of magazines with cassette tapes, filled with some of the best stories and poems... some classics, some contemporary, but narrated by an assortment of the UK’s finest stars of the stage and screen.  Stephen Fry, Joanna Lumley, Hayley Mills, Bernard Cribbins, Tom Baker, Tim Curry... I could go on and on.

My lovely Grandma used to buy these for us from the newsagent, and send them to Canada for me.  I used to listen to the stories for hours and hours; magazines covering more space on my bed than the duvet, cassette tapes strewn here, there and everywhere, headphones on.  These stories were just magical, and those tales are so tightly woven into the memories of my childhood that even now, I can recall them to astonishing levels of detail.

Today, I stumbled upon a website dedicated to the Story Teller books and I couldn’t resist sharing it with you:

If you have kids, run – don’t walk – to the ‘Videos’ section, where you will find an amazing collection of You Tube links; someone has taken the trouble to scan the stories and turn them into videos.

I have spent most of the night listening to these; what an incredible treat. 

Here are a few of my very favourites:

Rapunzel – beautifully narrated by the enchanting Hayley Mills – this was always my favourite favourite.

Timbertwig and the Caravan of Surprises – the voices in this one are amazing! I dare you not to laugh at the sound of Granny Knot blowing her enormous nose...

Scarlet Braces – hypnotised by the Irish accent in this one!

Abdullah and the Genie – a peasant outwits the might of a genie in a bottle

The Great Big Hairy Boggart – about a farmer named “Jude” (!!)

Jester Minute – a court jester who lives in a toy castle

If you have kids, grab your laptop, snug up on the sofa and make your way through these stories.

Thanks so much to the makers of this website – just magical.  I can’t wait to make my way through them all with my kids!


Friday, 7 January 2011

Wherein I Lose My Shit

Friday, 7 January 2011
Okay, okay. I’ll admit it: the last 24 hours in my mammying career have most certainly not been a shining example of my finest parenting hour.

What has happened to my always-cooperative-low-maintenance baby? Who is this screeching demon in his place?

Man, have we ever struggled this week.

I blame Christmas. And Christmas chocolate. And Christmas holidays and lack of nursery and its blessed routine. Because this angel-faced child that used to go to bed at 6pm every night like clockwork has been replaced (snatched by baby-cloning alien teleport?) by a caterwauling harpy.

Jude listens to a CD of lullabies while he goes to sleep – but before we turn in for the night we unplug the CD player – obviously – for fear of the whole thing overheating and setting the house on fire. On Wednesday night, I went in at about 10.30 and unplugged it, as usual. Half an hour later, the wire – which I’d left resting on the top of the chest of drawers – somehow (ghosts?) fell off and behind the drawers, resulting in a horrendous
which woke up the baby.

What followed next could only be described (in the words of the inimitable George Banks, Esq.) as an unseemly hullabaloo.

Having gone to bed (with a minimum of fuss, it has to be said) at 6 o’clock, after an initial extended version freak-out screeching berserk-o-rama having been frightened by the
he was all, “Hey! I’ve just slept for 5 hours! I’m feeling so refreshed!"

"I’m up, LET’S ALL GET UP!”

Oh, yes he did.

For the next four-and-a-half hours, we seesawed between putting him in our bed between us hoping he’d drop off (read: crawling on our heads, pulling our hair, wriggling, squirming, trying to escape) and putting him in his cot to let him cry it out (AKA is that our child or a WWII air-raid siren?)

But actually... what is funny about this whole series of events is not that they actually occurred, but how quickly I LOST MY SHIT having to deal with it. Honestly… I felt so completely wretched for the whole night, I couldn’t deal with any of it. Poor Jason had to deal with a blaring baby and a nutcase wife. What happened to the superwoman who woke up 687 times a night to clamp the aforementioned offspring off her boobs?  Dare I mention cracked nipples?  Seriously?  I thought I was made of sterner stuff than this, but behold the evidence: a Twitter account of my nocturnal breakdown:

First, I’m just stating the facts:


Now I’m all about the self-pity:

Oh, great!  Whining, anyone?


More whining:

Aaah, but now, enter whining-related GUILT:




But not quite self-loathing enough:


Eventually, he ran out of steam at 4:30am after I stroked his head for about half an hour.

I’m totally mortified exhausted just re-reading it!

Anyway – Jase and I both had to take the following day off work. I knew work wasn’t a goer when I got out of bed after my 30 second sleep and wibble-wobbled my way down the landing toward the bathroom… yay vertigo!

(All hail big-hearted and sympathetic employers whose understanding was invoked by early morning phone calls from gravely voiced verge-of-tears employees, resulting in the granting of emergency last minute leave.)

Be all that as it may; we slept a glorious ten hours the following night and I am happy to report that all is once again right with the world.  Isn't it funny (no, I'm not quite laughing yet, either) how your perspective-o-meter goes all skewiff all because of the lack of a little shut-eye? 

Now, where did I put that corkscrew...?

Happy New Year, folks.  :-)