Snow – when is enough enough?

Well, that was quite an interesting day.

Let’s have some background first, shall we?

Amber’s at home from nursery for a few days.  She was sent home on Monday with the usual “very high temperature” – not unexpectedly as she’s had a steadily worsening cough for a week or two now, so we thought we were probably pushing our luck taking her to nursery.  Fortunately the Lovely Melanie was working from home yesterday so she picked Amber up and managed to get her a doctor’s appointment that same afternoon, the result of which was some antibiotics for Amber.

This caused nursery to invoke yet another of their little-known rules regarding when they will and definitely will-not take a child (honestly, they’re worse than an insurance company sometimes!).  Rule number 27b/6 – if a child is deemed to be on antibiotics they shall not be suffered to enter unto the nursery until three times 24 hours hath elapsed.

So I had to take a day off work and look after Amber.  Which, to be fair, worked out rather well since the snowstorms that have been sweeping the country finally swept into Bexley last night.  We have a good few inches of snow outside at the moment and all our temperatures have minus sign in front of them.  The Lovely Melanie had to walk five miles to get home from work tonight (no, really – thrown off the train at Hither Green they were utterly abandoned by Southeastern Rail and left to fend for themselves in dark, freezing temperatures and heavy snow.  Disgraceful.)

Anyway, there’s the back-story.

Millie wandered into the bathroom while I was showering this morning and took a few seconds to realise what I meant by “Have you looked out of the window?

When she did realise and ran back to her room the shrieks of delight were a joy to hear; I thought I loved snow, but you forget how astonishing and transformative snow appears to small children.  Millie was excited and pleased and curious about the snow, but Amber was utterly bedazzled by the sight, seeming almost not to believe it as she looked out of her window through barely awoken eyes.

And the journey to school with them didn’t disappoint either – both of them oblivious to the cars struggling and skidding up the hill, to the still falling snow and the cold.  I could’ve watched them for hours, but school’s only round the corner so we arrived far too quickly, despite taking the long route.

Arriving ten minutes before school started and being almost alone in the playground Millie begged me to build a snowman, but we’d barely gotten started when a teacher manning the doors started calling to me: “Dad, I think they need to come in now.  Come on, they need to come in…

Bah.

So Amby and I returned home, damp, snow-covered and a bit chilly.  We waited an hour or so for our coats and gloves to dry out before setting off for the village.  I have some things I’ve sold on eBay which need posting as they’re already marked “Dispatched” on the site – naughty me!

About halfway to the village – normally a 20-minute walk – I started to realise it was actually pretty bloody cold and that snow and ice were building up on Amber’s coat, scarf and gloves like they do in films set at the North Pole.  My fingers were going numb even in my gloves and the lack of any buses on the road meant that we couldn’t simply jump on one of those if we got a bit tired or chilled.  I kept a close eye on Amber after that and tried to walk a bit faster.

It was very quiet out, only the occasional car attempting to make it along the treacherous roads and most of those having difficulties – we saw a queue backed up behind one car that was having real trouble making it over a speed bump!  Fortunately Amby was in good spirits sat upon my shoulders (the buggy had been a complete non-starter in this weather) and fascinated by all the footprints in the snow; she claimed, for a few minutes, that they were all hers.  Or mine.  Or Millie’s.

Sadly, when we finally reached the sanctuary of the local post office the counter was closed and my parcels remain unsent.  Next we tried the local bakers’, where had a bit more luck and bought some emergency supplies (cakes and fresh bread).  The journey home, being uphill, was quite tiring, and I had Amby on my back all the way, so I was pretty glad to get back indoors again and put all our once-again wet clothes back on the radiators.

Then we sat back in the warm and watched the snow cascading down outside.

Amber slept well in the afternoon, and so did I; so well, in fact, that we were almost late picking up Millie, whose school emailed asking parents to please come and collect their children early if at all possible.  Millie, of course, emerged into the snow with no gloves or hat, shoes on, wellies still in their bag and coat flapping open in the wind.

The first thing she did was try to eat some snow.

Once we had her wrapped up (and I swear even the newly-hardy Amber looked slightly contemptuous of Millie’s preparedness) it took us about 25 minutes to get home, with me pulling Amber along and nagging Millie the entire way.  Both of them swore, when we got home, that they wanted to go out and play, but just 30 seconds indoors soon dispelled any such nonsense.

Hats, gloves, coats, scarves and shoes were once more placed on the radiators to once again dry and we sat back to wait for the Lovely Melanie to return home – which, as I mentioned, took far longer than normal. 😦

Just before bathtime Amber and Millie wandered into the bedroom and I noticed Amber seemed to be eating something.  I should’ve known better than to ask, but ask I did.

ME: What are you eating, Amb?

MILLIE: She’s eating toothpaste.

ME: Sigh.  Toothpaste?  Amb, why are you eating toothpaste?

MILLIE (casually): She got it out of the toilet.

It was said so casuallyI almost missed it, then suddenly remembered that I’d cleaned off all the gunk around the top of the girls’ toothpaste this morning and thrown the sticky remains down the loo, where they’d been stuck to the bowl all day…

I think I shouted at Amber for about five minutes whilst I roughly cleaned her teeth (with toothpaste from the tube) and scrubbed her hands – “DIRTY GIRL! NAUGHTY NO! VERY NAUGHTY! DIRTY! NO! WE DO NOT EAT TOOTHPASTE FROM THE TOILET!”

What kind of world do we live in where people need to be told not to eat old toothpaste from off the bowl of the toilet?????!

Recovery

This weekend:

  • Millie went to the ballet for the first time with her Grandma and Granddad.
  • Amber is still a bit unwell with a nasty cough.
  • The Lovely Melanie went out for a quiet drink on Friday with friends and thoroughly enjoyed it – despite me almost having to push her out the front door to get her to go!
  • Poodle Chaos, a nightclub I helped set up many many years ago, reared its head for the first time in about five years (we ran a club in the middle of Brixton – it’s pretty easy, actually).

In the name of blogging integrity I should probably point out that I’m not actually DJing in this photo, DJ Bunny and I are just pretending (although DJ Bunny did actually DJ later – and very well, too).

Why don’t we play more often?  Well, I (and many of the other members) are still paying for our exertions today.

Things weren’t helped this morning by cold weather, a tube strike and the button on my trousers breaking en route to nursery – even though it was just fixed last week!

Perhaps I’m (finally) getting too old for this clubbing malarky…

Translators, please!

If anyone knows what Millie is trying to say here then do please let us know.

Is it code – is she a spy?!

Has she been possessed by the devil?

Is it a cry for help??

Or, um, is it a Christmas list for her imaginary Ukranian uncle to look at?

We may never know…

In some positive employment news, I am no longer quite so stressed by my new job.  On Monday and Tuesday I was very much stressed – to the point of wanting nothing more than to run away and never come back (no, really!)  However, following some much-needed and generous assistance from a few of my new colleagues I no longer feel that I’m struggling miserably along heading inexorably for failure.

Today, in fact, I almost felt like part of a team, and fairly confident I can pull this project out of the bag, which was a very nice – not to say reassuring – feeling indeed.

Crush by OMD

In 1985 I was 13 and had just discovered OMD thanks to a DJ on holiday in Italy playing Enola Gay.

I remember rushing up to him and breathlessly asking, “What is this?

Luckily he was English; unfortunately he was sarcastic, so he replied, “This is a restaurant.

Undeterred – and at 13 immune to sarcasm – I tried again: “No, this record!!!!

Anyway, so I was a late arrival to the OMD party but upon returning home I soon discovered they had a new record out called Crush.  This was back when buying a whole album was a serious financial decision for those on a paper boy’s wages, but I had just joined a record club and I think Crush was one of the albums listed in their catalogue soon after, so I bought it.  On vinyl.

I’ve just heard Crush again tonight for the first time in over two decades thanks to the magic of the internet and I’m surprised at how well it’s stood the test of time.  The two singles, So In Love and Secret, both of which I adored at the time, are still fine examples of ’80s pop music.

Even more surprising is how much of the album has stuck in my head and how many lyrics and small pieces of melody I instantly recognised.

Surprising because despite my 13-year-old self trying his very best to like and understand it I eventually returned Crush, unable to get my 13-year-old ears around some of its slightly odd, slightly doomy, slightly too slow, other tracks.

Having heard it again 25 years later I like it a lot more – probably thanks to the good mix of pop and, erm, slightly odd, slightly doomy, slightly slow, other tracks…

Sunday memories

A day currently best remembered for a power cut that lasted from 3am till 1pm.

Millie came into my room at about 3.30 – the Lovely Melanie being away in Hatfield – and tried to explain this to me a number of times but I was asleep.  By about her fourth attempt I was talking but still asleep; it took until roughly attempt #7 for me to understand what she was saying.  She was a bit upset by the lack of electricity so she had to stay in bed with me.

A day also best remembered for our new shower finally being installed and for us getting a full refund on the other one we bought that would’ve cost £250 to upgrade our electrics in order to use it.  We took the useless shower off the wall, dried it, wiped it down, put it back in the box, replaced as much packaging as we could, retrieved the receipt and then drove – without much hope – to B&Q.

Unbelievably they didn’t check it very thoroughly and completely refunded me!

In an Oscar-worthy performance I had the girls running around me all excited, shouting and out of control, and had to field a phone call in the middle of explaining my silly mistake to the help desk, thus looking busy, nice and harassed all at once. 😉

But we may best remember today for Millie’s accident with a tube of white paint.  She was squeezing it impatiently, waiting for for the Lovely Melanie to open it, when the top of the tube popped open and paint shot all over her face.  She looked like a cartoon clown – only sort of shocked and upset.  We all tried not to laugh but it was the funniest thing I’ve seen in a long time: the poor little thing sat there with a huge white cartoon smile all round her mouth.

It would’ve been an easy £250 from You’ve Been Framed.  Sadly, no one had a camera on hand.

High Society fails to raise me

Upon reflection taking the girls to the Wellcome Trust’s High Society exhibition about how –

“drugs were first discovered – from apothecaries’ workshops to state-of-the-art laboratories – and how they came to be simultaneously fetishised and demonised in today’s culture”

– was always a bit overambitious.  They were already tired after a morning visit to beautiful Erith to buy a new shower; that the Lovely Melanie wasn’t with us to help manage them (being in St Albans for a baby shower) should have set further alarm bells ringing…but somehow didn’t.

Our friends Mike and Inge were there, but my kids are not their responsibility, so it was perhaps inevitable that after about four minutes of the girls running amok in the exhibition a curator ventured the opinion – nicely but firmly – that perhaps I should take the girls outside.  The girls were having a whale of a time, but the place was full of a lot of po-faced hipsters, so I could see the curator’s point.

Amber particularly was in one of her defiant not-scared-of-anything moods and kept running away and disappearing.  Millie was simply tired and hence a bit inclined to throw her hands in the air at the smallest provocation.  It wasn’t a good mix.

Mike and Inge had a good look round the exhibition while I herded the girls around outside in the lobby, and Inge was then generous enough to take Millie in to see the exhibition while I stayed outside with Mike – who found Amber’s antics hilarious.  I could see that they had a funny side but was rather too tired and familiar with them to really appreciate it.

I love my girls, but was today sorely tempted to put dog leads on them…

And finally: can I recommend the High Society exhibition?

Answer: I don’t know, I still haven’t seen it.  You’re better off asking Millie – she has seen it.