Friday, June 29, 2007

Filling the gap!

"So are you bringing a foster child home tonight then?" says Tinkerbell Mushroom.

No, I say. Not tonight.

"So where are you going?"

"We're going on a course to learn how to be foster carers." I say.

"And then we'll have a foster child living with us?"

"Well, yes, but it may take a while. A few months."

A look of disappointment crosses her face.

"I think that we should have an eleven year old child." Says Gymnast. "That would fill the gap."

"I'm not sure that it works quite like that" I say.

From the conversation you will gather that we are considering being foster carers. Yes, I know we have plenty of our own, but we also have huge house for huge family, and huge family is growing up, so there is room for someone who needs and wishes to live in our mad family for a while. Besides, my friend Jenny sent me a card when Tinkerbell Mushroom was born, with a comment along the lines of offering to make some dresses from curtains for me. So perhaps it's time to fulfil the prophecy a little more. We're still three short of the Von Trapp family.

Of course, to children, it all seems so simple, and to them it wouldn't be unreasonable to have one that happens to fit into gap that I carelessly managed to leave out when having five children. And they don't understand that a placement is not necessarily a long term one.

Some people may not consider that we have much of a gap. With five children ranging currently from 7 to 16 there wasn't much space for many more pregnancies in the 9 and 3/4 years. But, it is true, there are four years between Sensible and Gymnast, which being more than the "around two years or less gaps" of the others is in their perception "a gap".

We may of course do supported lodgings though for 16+ year olds. Something favoured by the fostering team as they have so few who are willing to go down this route.

"No" protested ED. "We want a little one." By little one of course, she means "baby" that she can dress up and take to the park.

"In a few years" says Hubby, "you can have your own babies to mother, but right now whoever we foster needs to be part of this family and will be placed with us because they need a home for a while."

"I don't think that ESOS would like the thought of another older teenager though." She continues. ESOS, being on a school trip away in France is not here to comment. So the jury can remain out on that one.

The one good though, is that although they all have some very interesting ideas and visions of said foster placements, not one of them has objected to the thought of sharing their lives with another.


And in the meantime we are only a few weeks into the course. We need to be approved as a suitable foster family, and um ... if they do deem us suitable candidates, have the house approved too. Electrics, plumbing, heating...

Now that will be an interesting few weeks...

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Parenting is very hard sometimes.

Sometimes your children hold a different view to your own. As parents it is so often that we wonder if we made the right decision, and if we were right to stick to our guns. Tony Blair who as we all know is exiting the Government today, once said that being a parent is harder than being a Prime Minister.

In the case of the flood the other day, all three of my older children were more than a little upset that I had suggested that it would be safer to stay on the bus than to try to make their own way home.

Today, Hubby saw this on the Times website and sent it to me by email:

The others to die included Ryan Parry, 14, who was swept to his death in a swollen river in Sheffield while returning home on Monday. His father Chris said that the teenager phoned him after school to say the buses were not running and he would make his own way back.

Mr Parry told the Daily Mirror: "I've been over that short and sweet conversation 10,000 times. I can't think about it now. I'm in bits.

Sometimes as parents you know that you have made the right decision.

And when teenagers make their own decisions, it can go horribly wrong.

My heart goes out to the Parry family.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Noah! I did not plan it!


You've never seen anything like it. Well with the exception of my readers who live in the Tropics. You probably have. But for here. For June. It's bad.

It all started in the early hours of the morning. If I hadn't have known that I weren't, I may have thought, before I opened my eyes each time that the rain woke me up, that I might be camping. Our bedroom window was open, and it was that heavy persistent rain that just never stops.......

At 7.15 a.m. the three eldest leave on the bus for school. Sensible's school shoes are broken, so sensibly she finds another pair to put on. These have heels. Quite high ones really. Bus leaving. No choice.

At 8.30 a.m. ESOS phones.

There's a flood at Over. "We are getting off the bus and walking home." "Where are you?" says Hubby. They are around 9 miles from home.

"No don't" says Hubby. "Stay on the bus."

Big discussions follow concerning safety and flooding and drowning and heat loss and everything else on the matter. We believe they are all still on the bus, in a very big traffic jam, but dry.

8.40 a.m. ESOS phones. He has not got back on the bus and is in a friend's car coming home. Friend was in parents' car on way to school and spotted ESOS on other side of the road walking home.

8.41 a.m. More phone calls from the girls. Now very cross because ESOS ignored our advice, and they had run back to the bus. "I thought you hadn't got off the bus" says Hubby.

But they had. They had phoned us when they were on their way home.

They had then run back to the bus to re catch it. A mile apparently. Although the traffic was moving at around 2 miles per hour. So perhaps not quite...

Sensible is in high heels though, so it possibly seems a bit longer. Quite a lot longer.

Next hour. Hubby has gone to work first having asked me to keep him informed. I point out that he won't be here to receive cross teenagers on return home this afternoon. He looks sympathetic in that sort of helpless way and then goes.

Many more phone calls. Much hanging up from girls. All very cross. All our fault. Well mine probably.

Make note to self to put in word with "He on high" to not provide Noah's Ark style floods on school days please, due to inconvenience to children. And me.

Am trying to establish whether or not I can pick them up, but as the traffic jam is now several miles back and there are no alternative routes, the answer is "no". Try to point out the safety aspects to ED and Sensible. They remain cross.

9.30 a.m. ESOS arrives home. Settles in for a day of leisure. "Please could you do the dishwasher" I ask? (As I have important things to do like .........blogging

.......and, actually I do have some work to do which the rain won't wait for.)

"Oh Mum! Do I have to do all of it." "Yes" say I. "All of it! All five minutes of unloading and reloading!"

"All right, all right. There's no need to go on. I was only asking," says he who goes off on a school trip to Correze on Wednesday. It's not even a language trip. It seems to be a holiday. What a hard life these teenagers have.

Point out to ESOS that people die in floods and that it wasn't the best idea to get off the bus and try to walk 9 miles in the rain. "I'm a responsible person comes the reply."


More phone calls from ED and Sensible. Am seriously in the doghouse due to having allowed ESOS home. Try to point out that this was beyond my control. Closed ears. Firmly closed.

11 a.m. ED calls. Is in school. Not happy - but at least I know where she is. She is still very cross because I have allowed ESOS to come home.


11.10 a.m. Call Sensible's school.

She has arrived at 11 a.m. too. Ask if they will be allowed to return home early if flooding continues. School doesn't know, but promises to assess situation.

Meanwhile I await the inevitable argument between siblings this evening and the rant against me.

It's tricky sometimes being a mother.

Especially on those days when the rules change...........

p.s. If you see ESOS ED and Sensible, please tell them that I am trying my best.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Secret Of The White City

As we walked through cyber city to where we needed to go, it was an interesting awakening as to how it all worked. White City is the address and white it is indeed. The buildings and decor look vaguely reminiscent of the Big Brother set. Completely modern and scarily angular.

A far cry from the original White City that the site is named after.

It was 5 p.m. as we arrived, and so the building was being vacated by hundreds of staff, or so we thought. Everyone looked the same. All thin and wiry with girls who all had long hair and jeans with trousers that fitted them, but which would be too tight on your average person's Barbie doll.

As we sat down, I looked ahead. Through the window I saw a bar, where people were buying drinks and settling in for the evening. Needing to post a card for my father for Father's Day, I asked someone if there was a post box nearby. I was directed to a post office, which conveniently was placed on site, along with a Starbucks, a Tesco, a beauty parlour, hairdressers and a restaurant. I went back to ED and commented that no-one need ever go home. We decided that all they would need would be a sleeping bag and they could live and work there forever.

In fact, it was suddenly clear as to why the BBC is such a closed shop when it comes to getting a job. You clearly have to be born into the BBC Cyber Community. I think they must have a maternity wing on floor 10 and a retirement wing on floor 12. From here, they breed all their future BBC employees to provide the rest of us with the next generation of newscasters and BBC producers.

This is where they quite clearly get the ideas for the Dr. Who scripts. How ironic. So close to home and so far from the rest of the world.

ED and I decide to have a Starbucks at the on site facility, prior to returning home on the train. I notice that they have managed to get the same pricing structure through to to Cyber City and spend most of the next ten minutes in a daze at having spent £5 on a coffee, and orange juice and two biscuits. And they didn't even give me a china mug for my coffee.

We then went next door into Tesco to buy some sustenance for the train, where of course I could have bought 10 litres of orange juice for that same £5.

As we left Cyber City, we walked past many BBC employees having drinks on the lawns, settling in for the weekend. And then I had a sudden dawning.

I knew the reason why, despite 20 years of applying for jobs in the BEEB, writing to them, blagging interviews, doing voluntary stuff for them with the Action Desk, working on a Community station for three years, writing a newspaper column for three years, and doing professional voice overs for people, I had still not been successful in getting a job with old Auntie.

It isn't that I wasn't born into the community on Floor 10, or that my experience isn't relevant.

It's because my legs aren't thin enough. Not necessarily fat you understand, just not Barbie thin. Never have been. Of course, they won't let people know that that plays a part in their recruitment process. They couldn't. But I know. They can't pretend to me any longer.

And now, with that knowledge I feel so much better about life.

And if you happen to see Mark Thompson on your travels, do let him know that I've worked out "The Secret" won't you?

p.s. A card arrived this morning from Enidd, of, seemingly, another "White City", in Molvania. It took a while to reach me from Molvania, but it got here at last. It's the second one she sent, as the first one has got lost somewhere in postland. But it arrived just in time for Enidd to settle into the USA! Thank you Enidd! It was much appreciated.

Thank you Enidd!:

A picture of White City in 1908. This is the site that was used later for the BBC White City.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Guys and Gals

I had a little bit of business at the White City BBC in West London. (Nothing exciting, and nothing to do with my voice overs I hasten to add.)

Ed (still on study leave) and I, went up together. The train journey up was somewhat overtaken by some "gals" from a certain famous girls school in Cheltenham that shall remain nameless, who took great pleasure in providing loud entertainment for all, in that cavalier sort of way that such "gals" do. ED had danced at their school a year ago, with Gloucestershire Youth Dance Company, as entertainment for part of a school event. I mentioned this to one of them, and so they took a very "little" interest in us in that very insincere way that some "gals" do.

Now, having been privately educated myself, hubby having been privately educated and having sent my own children to the same type of schools until the money ran out, I have come across quite a few "gals" in my time.

They often grow up to be "madams" of course.

Now don't get me wrong, my very best and oldest friends were at school with me, and they are two of the most "unlike that sort of girls" that you could ever meet, and I don't think that I am like that, nor are many of the children that I know from such schools, but............. there is a certain type of product that is sometimes produced from such establishments, and when exposed, it isn't always a very attractive one...

I remember once being asked to a school swimming gala when Sensible was at her private school. Parents were asked to take their daughters out to lunch if they wished. Sensible and I arrived in a cafe and sat down, next to another mother and daughter. It was just before Sensible's birthday party, and the young lady next to us was on the guest list. I asked the "madam" if the "gal" concerned would be joining us for the party, and, after accepting the invitation, she then went into conversation with another mother who had joined us at the table. "Come and join us over here" said the other "Madam". "So sorry" said the "Madam" on my table, but my friends have asked me to join them."

And they went to sit on a big table together with a big group of mothers and daughters, all the daughters being friends of Sensible's, and all due to come to our house to be entertained by us the following week.

Strangely, and I can't think why, this was one of those times when I wondered why we had nearly crippled ourselves providing such education for our children.

Still, back to the train and the "gals" from that famous school......

The said "gals" then asked ED where she went to school. They feigned ingnorance of said school's existence.

At this point I wanted to say.... Actually, you should know the school, because their results are consistently better than yours, and there are only five state grammar schools in Gloucester and Cheltenham all of which compete with your school and others for good places in the league tables...

I didn't. But I wanted to.

ED who frequently goes to parties with people from schools all over Gloucester and Cheltenham, including the "Ladies' College" as they refer to it, wrote me a note using her phone. Something about it being a status thing.

They then dropped in that they were going on "exeat". "So you'll be back Sunday evening then?" I asked. They did at least have the good grace to blush at their boarding school code having failed to confuse the onlookers.

On the way back we settled down on the train again, hoping for a peaceful return.

We were however to be entertained again.

Lads this time.

Although "lads" is possibly a polite word for these guys.

They were very noisy and "entertaining" in a "laddish" (read: polite form) sort of way and as we approached Gloucester, my head throbbed.

I mused that said guys were probably unlikely to ever meet with those "gals" and chuckled to myself that they were unlikely to have heard of the said "gals" college as well.

Which group were the most entertaining I am still not sure.

It did occur to me though that we of course are so amazingly normal.

Of course.

As for BBC White City, watch this space...

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Hermione meets Dennis

The phone rings.

It's ESOS.

"Mum, I've missed the bus from town. Can you collect me from Littledean at 3.35 p.m.?"

The phone rings again.

"Where's ESOS? He's not on the bus." Says Sensible.

"He missed it. He's catching the one to Littledean."

I am in the garden, trying to do theatre school admin. Beautiful summer's day but enough breeze to catch a few cheques from time to time. Run round the garden to pick up the cheques. Exercise, admin and fresh air in one. There's a bonus. Haven't quite finished by the time Sensible gets home and it's now time to collect Gymnast and Tinkerbell Mushroom.

Sensible arrives home and sensibly sees that I am busy, so offers to go across the road for the girls, leaving me just enough time to scoop up the last of the cheques from the garden and get in the car to collect ESOS.

ED is home already as she is still on study leave.

Back home again. I get everyone into the car. Gymnast hasn't cleaned her teeth. Out of car. Upstairs again. Downstairs to find to my horror one or two older children cleaning their teeth in the car and disposing of the toothpaste onto the path.

Just have time to get cross. Then leave.

Get stuck behind slow thing going up the hill.

Manage to take a couple of back doubles and slip into the dentist just a whisker earlier than hubby who drives from work.

We are called in en masse.

"They become more like a gang as they get older don't they?" says the dentist. "I notice that with mine, and I've only three".

Gang is a good description. Bigger, together and very much of a pack, they don't look like that angelic set of five tinies I had not so long ago. In the last few weeks ESOS, Sensible and ED all seem to have overtaken me in height and even Gymnast and Tinkerbell Mushroom seem to have grown.

We have the usual shuffling around of who is going to sit where on the increasingly small window seat. The dentist looks on with a mixture of amusement and resignation.

"Who's first he says?" Hubby opts for the chair first and as he lies down there is more kerfuffle from the gang, causing a very nice pot plant to topple over and crash on the floor. The pot is in one piece thankfully, but the surgery isn't enhanced by the ornamental pebbles all over the floor.

"Oh I'm so sorry" I say. "Have you got a dustpan? I'll clean it up." "Don't worry." says the amazingly cheery dentist. "We'll do it after you have gone." Along with whatever other mess we might leave, I think to myself.

ESOS hasn't been wearing his brace for the last few nights. No, correction, ESOS wears his brace only on very special occasions. The excuses vary as to why he is wearing it that day. Currently one of the clips on his teeth that holds the brace in place is a bit wobbly. Dentist look at the problem. "No, that's fine he says. You can carry on wearing that until you next see the orthodontist. Have you not been wearing it long?" "Well," I say. "He's worn it once or twice since he received it at Christmas." ESOS then gets much deserved lecture about how he will have to wear it forever if he doesn't wear it regularly. It's the same speech he has heard from the orthodontist and our friend who is a dentist. Is he listening I wonder, or is he thinking about anything else that teenage boys might think about. I suspect the latter.

As ESOS gets off the chair the noise increases and I need to talk about Sensible's appointment with an orthodontist for her teeth, which it has to be said, thirty years ago would have been considered absolutely perfect. Modern teenagers are less happy with that decision though.

I can't hear myself think.

I dispatch ESOS and Tinkerbell Mushroom to the waiting room.

Next minute ESOS is lifting up Tinkerbell Mushroom to the surgery window from outside. ED tells him in no uncertain terms that that is not acceptable behaviour, in a way that Hermione Granger would tell Dennis the Menace.

All the ones inside are now helping themselves to the water from the water machine.

"Right. That's it then says hubby. I think we are done." I see relief spreading over his face.

"Not quite" I say. It's my turn."

As we leave I thank the dentist. As we apparently have a clean bill of health there are no follow up appointments needed.

"So, hopefully you haven't got to see us for another six months then. I bet that's a relief."

He just smiles.

But we both know what that smile means.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Too many Mars Bars.

I am still in my dressing gown when the doorbell rings.

The children have all gone to school and hubby has just left for work.

My blog calls. I need to see my comments.

I have a cup of tea in my hand. I am just engrossed in reading what people think about my Piers Brosnan lookalike doctor...

I answer the door.

"Oh, I am so sorry. I forgot.

Can you give me ten minutes?"

"No problem, they say." Realising that this is a large job, worth a lot of money, they are prepared to give me time to compose myself and at least clear the kitchen.

I throw myself into the dishwasher and throw the cereal bowls into the bath - or something - do a whistle stop tour of my make up bag and throw a cloth around the work surfaces in a wand like fashion.

The rest of the house still looks like a bomb site, but at least I can invite them into the kitchen.

Enter Mr. Gas Man one and Mr. Gas Man two.

I make coffee and try to look hospitable.

Of course, as we are talking about a new boiler, which means assessing all the radiators, they want to see the whole house. So we walk past very untidy piles on the stairs, very full washing baskets, many untidy piles of clean washing, into bedrooms with unmade beds. Well, some beds are made. Thankfully I seem to have a Pavlovian instinct to always make my own bed first thing as I get out of it, and by chance I made Tinkerbell Mushroom and Gymnast's when I woke them this morning.

Up to the top floor, to the teenage area. I am met with my worst nightmare. Towels and dirty washing on the floor, and rooms that look as if they have been ransacked by burglars. ED, who is still on study leave having just finished her AS levels is still asleep. ESOS's room is just too smelly to mention and even Sensible's room looks bad. Very bad.

"No you can't go into that room" I say, "my daughter is in there", steering them away from ED's room.

Is the loo flushed I wonder? Slip into the bathroom, quickly pick up four or five towels from the floor, flush the loo and close the lid.

Why do I prefer blogging to cleaning I moan to myself? When people come to the house I want it clean and perfect.

Although of course perfect is a relative term. When you need to spend vast sums of money on said house to make it come up to the standard of early 20th century modernisation, let alone early 21st century, it does leave much to be desired, even when at its cleanest.

We go downstairs. More coffee. I note to myself that despite being an addicted tea drinker, I drink too much coffee when other people are present.

They play computers for the next hour and a half and look at the cellar.

We need to relocate the boiler, because where it currently sits is now not legal. The cellar appears to be the obvious place.

Only thing is, that in order to place a flue on the exterior of the building, we need planning permission. And listed buildings consent.

"What happens if they deny it", I ask?

"There's nothing we can do. You will have to have electric heating."

So, let me get this right. The Government have decreed that all houses must be more efficient. But, to have efficiency we must move boilers to more efficient locations. If the Government department locally however says that the placing of your new boiler makes your building look ugly, then so be it, you can't have a new boiler there. You can't have it in its old place, because that is illegally inefficient, and so you are left with even more inefficient electric heating and hot water...

Gas Man one looks at me. "Are you over sixty by any chance?"

"Do I look over sixty" I ask.

"No, I just have to ask, because if you were, you would be eligible for a grant, and sometimes we are quite surprised by people's ages."

"I'm not over sixty." I reply.

"Would you like me to prepare the quote in Hubby's name?" He asks

"Why?" I say

"Because you will have to give me your date of birth if it's in your name."

"I don't mind giving you my date of birth." I say.

He's clearly convinced that I am hiding the fact that I surely must be over sixty. I mean, I do realise that I am no longer in my fist second or even third flush of youth, but I still have quite a few years to go before I become a silver surfer.

The quote to do our massive system is huge. Too huge for now.

What's more, placed on a finance system it would cost more than double that huge cost over ten years. In fact over one hundred and twenty months, you could probably buy forty thousand mars bars, and even more creme eggs Enidd will be pleased to know, with the amount that it will cost. Am thinking quickly as to how I can do 20,000 mars bars worth of voice overs or writing between now and September.

"That's a lot of money." I say. "We will have to have a bit of a think about it," say I, making the understatement of the year.

So you don't want to sign up today then?

I look at him. There is a hint of amusement in his eyes I am relieved to see.

No thanks. I say.

Just then I see a small mouse appear in a hole by the old boiler in the kitchen, just near the cat bowl. First evidence of rodents for months. The pacifist cat, who obviously thinks that he should be retired, has clearly allowed said animal to share his food, instead of pouncing on him. I quickly bang a chair into place so that my two guests don't catch sight of it, and make a mental note to deal with unwanted animal guest later on.

It scurries back into its hole.

I thank my other guests for the very large quote and wish them a good day.

Thank goodness it's still summer.

p.s. I now have my birthday photo back. As you can see, I don't look a day over sixty five.

p.p.s. Subsequently spent the afternoon having a serious clean and tidy up. House looks great. British Gas would be delighted. But we've now lost the dog's lead....

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Flying in to see Piers

Amazingly he doesn't keep me waiting.

Actually it was me who is a bit late. I set off from home at 8.10 for a 9.10 appointment, but with traffic looming on approach to Hereford I think I will do a clever back street thing, but (shh, don't tell hubby...), having a useless sense of direction I manage to end up back in the traffic again, not saving any time. Well.......I probably add a couple of critical minutes

Fly (the term is relative with wonky knee syndrome you understand) in at 9.11 and register. Has he arrived yet? I ask. "Oh no" says the receptionist, clearly taking it as par for the course that Piers works to his own schedule.

Grab a magazine and sat down, just as I see Piers saunter in.

The next second I am summoned!

Go to sit down in the "room" and prepare myself for a wait. Read three words and, shock horror, in he comes.

He has forgotten who I am of course, and has to look at his notes to remind himself of any details - but give the man a break, he sees lots of people with wonky knee syndrome. Fortunately for him though they probably don't all write about it in a blog.

He prods and pokes a bit until I say "ow". We agree that it is still tender in places and he then puts me on the list for an arthroscopy.

I've just got to wait four or five months for the appointment now, and then it will be sorted.

I look in dismay at the nurse who gives me the good news.

"That's quick" she says. "It used to be MUCH longer".

Go back to the car.

No change for the carpark.

No money. Had used last of the cash yesterday evening to pay for a competition leotard for Gymnast for a looming gym competition.

Go to the hospital shop. "Is there a cash machine in the hospital I ask." "No, but you can have cashback if you spend £5."

I look at the shop. Not needing pyjamas, emergency toiletries or a bunch of flowers I am at a loss to see where I can usefully spend £5.

I pick up a copy of "Hello", a treat I usually reserve for my occasional trips to the hairdressers.


I look around some more.

I find some felt tips for 99p which I can give to Tinkerbell Mushroom and the Gymnast and a birthday card for my nephew - his birthday is at the end of June.

Still not spent £5.

Find some notepads for Tinkerbell Mushroom and the Gymnast to save them availing themselves of my printer paper on a regular basis.

Go to pay, get £20 cashback.

Place note in to the machine.

£1.50 parking charge.

Eighteen one pound coins return to me in change, and one fifty pence coin.

Good job I have a large handbag to carry all that metal.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Happy Birthday to the 80 year old tap dancer!

We set the alarm for 6 a.m. It was more than a two hour drive to Bedford and we needed to get there early to help.

At 8 a.m. I woke with a start. We flew round the house, threw three puddings, a joint of pork, a pasta salad, five children and various jackets (NOT TOO CLOSE TO THE FOOD PLEASE) into the car.

ED was not too pleased because she had to leave with half wet hair.

No-one could decide whether it was hot or cold on the journey, so the windows flew up and down like there was no tomorrow, causing enormous angst amongst young girls who wanted their hair just so, and angst amongst boys who wanted the temperature just so.

Well actually the angst was only between one boy and one girl, ED and ESOS, who, to deliberately understate, could be said to not always be the best of friends.

It was a fraught morning. Hubby took a wrong turning, which as it turned out was a right turning, because we had to do a pit stop for fuel, and had we taken the proper route there were no pit stops available.

We had planned to arrive at 10. We arrived at 11.45, just three quarters of an hour before the big moment.

As she walked round the corner, I suddenly felt very emotional.

The party was full of old friends. People I hadn't seen for twenty, thirty and in some cases almost forty years.

Age is a very strange phenomenon, because the ageing process affects people so differently. Once the initial moment was over for instance, my own mother was drinking plenty of wine, socialising, and enjoying herself just as she always does. As the only 80 year old tap dancer that I know, she still knows how to party like an average thirty year old. Being an afternoon garden party, not many were dancing, by my parents did of course when my niece sang, because they have always danced and always will. In fact the atmosphere probably wasn't much different to a party held for a thirty year old.

Many of my parents' friends are similar socialites, and are young for their age. One or two are less young now however, and I think that one lady had completely forgotten that my parents had ever had a daughter. She certainly didn't remember ever having met me, despite my being able to recount a visit to their house as a child.

As the afternoon wore on I remembered a phrase that my father said many years ago. My father often comes up with little sayings that are worth quoting. Many of them funny and often very sage. In this particular case it was: "People don't change with the years. They just get older." Which, for the all the while that we still have our wits about us, is so very true.

And later, as I lay in bed, waiting for the events of the day to mix with my dreams I started recalling snippets of conversations from the day. As I remembered the conversations, I remembered the people who were talking to me.

In my memories though, these people were not in their seventies and eighties. They were all as I remembered them as a child. I could hear them saying the words that they said at the party, but, no matter how hard I tried, I could only see them as I would have seen them twenty or thirty years ago.

Hubby has often said that he would like to do away with cameras, and my father has always said that the memories of the mind are the best. Our own camera made it out of the house in the morning, but seemed to like the new car, so decided to sit in it all afternoon. So, we will have to wait until someone emails us a picture before I can share the day pictorially with you all.

But in the meantime......

Happy birthday to my beautiful and brilliant tap dancing mother.

(Photos added with thanks to my eldest brother, who read my blog and sent them through! My Mum is the one in the black and white dress!)

Friday, June 01, 2007

Buying the Bus

We had to change our car.

Well actually, to be more precise, we had to sell the family car to pay a bill, back in March. The people who wanted the money refused to accept Hubby's body and were threatening to sell our teddy bears, being the only thing of any value, in huge house with huge mortgage for huge family. At the time I couldn't drive anyway, due to wonky knee syndrome. So by the time that I was able to drive again, I was left driving a mini that I was borrowing from ED, who had bought it for herself, to learn to drive, from her "Orange" earnings. It's a lovely car. For four people. But, as I have five children, we were a little short of spaces. As such, even to drive a few miles with the whole family, we had to take two cars. And given that hubby's car has, as you all know, very high mileage, even that was a bit dodgy...

So, last week we finally took the plunge and bought a seven seater bus style car off EBAY.

We got a good deal.

A very good deal. It had been written off by an insurance company, because of a dent in its tailgate. It only had 72000 miles on the clock, and due to its "written off" status was for sale at approximately half the market value.

So, a week ago hubby and I went down to Devon to collect said car.

"You'll have to get it re registered by VOSA" said the dealer. It does have to be said at this point that "dealer" is possibly a bit of a euphemism, when buying a "write off", with grubby five pound notes, from someone in a yard behind a locked gate...

Especially when as a sideline they do "storage". I did wonder momentarily what was inside the storage boxes on the land.

And so the challenge began. We had no idea who VOSA were, let alone, how to go about sorting through the system. We had a deadline though. We had to get the car into a legal state by this Sunday as (shhh, don't tell her if you are reading this and you know her...) we have a surprise BIG birthday party for my Mum, in Bedford, at my brother's house. So, in order not to drive two cars to Bedford, with five children, three puddings, a joint of pork and a pasta salad, one car being a fifteen year old mini and one car having over 200k on the clock, it was essential that we got the big car re registered.

Hubby drove down to VOSA, who turned out to be the vehicle registering people, in Bristol, on Tuesday. They had promised us the previous Friday that they would let us do the necessary paperwork on Tuesday, and come back on this Friday to get it registered.

Unfortunately, when hubby got there it was a different man. He'd just been on holiday. Clearly not a good holiday as he was in a bad mood.


He said.

"No, No No. I can't help you."

The earliest date he was prepared to offer was next Monday, 4th June.

Hubby rang me.

"Can I ring him?" I said. Hubby seemed to think that it would be futile, but gave me the number nevertheless.

I pleaded charmed, cried, acted well, and sure enough got a date for the car being tested against the possibility of fraud, theft and actually being a car at all, on Thursday at 9.40 a.m.

I rang hubby back, feeling a little smug. Hubby was actually standing in the vast office (three people) with the man, whilst I made the phonecall, so he knew the outcome already...

The man then went away to check out the current status of the car, before officially booking it in for Thursday.

Two minutes later he came back. "Who told you that you needed to do this?" he said to hubby.

"The dealer."

"Well, you don't. The car hasn't been written off yet. You just need a form X1 gobbledygook to fill in, to get a new log book, as opposed to X2 gobbledygook and you'll need to go to the the DVLA office to get it taxed."

So, with this knowledge on board, on Wednesday, Hubby had a work meeting in Bristol, just next door to the DVLA office. After the meeting, he ventured in there armed with form X1 gobbledygook, insurance information (policy document hadn't arrived in post as yet, but policy number was available and car was insured) and the MOT certificate.

"No, sorry." We can't tax it, because you haven't got your insurance document.

"But you know that it's insured said Hubby, because here is the policy number, and you are the DVLA. The number is on your database. We just haven't got the piece of paper in the post yet, because we only bought the car last Friday."

"Sorry, I can't access that information. That's in the Swansea Office" said the DVLA in Bristol.

"Can you not call them and ask them?" said Hubby.

"No, we are not allowed."

"Can I drive to the Swansea Office to get it taxed there?"

"No, we don't offer a counter service in Swansea!"

This time, perhaps a little embarrassed by my performance for the VOSA office, Hubby didn't call me until he was clear of the building.


On to the insurance company, who for a fee of £4 more promised a cover note in the post by recorded delivery on Thursday, the normal delivery time being five to seven working days. (Why did they not offer me that in the first place? I asked. Because it was an extra £4. DID THEY NOT THINK THAT I MIGHT NEED THE DOCUMENT FOR A REASON?!)

On to the DVLA in Swansea to find out where the nearest agent is to here and to establish that IF we got the cover note to them along with form X1 gobbledygook and MOT certificate they would definitely allow us to tax the car there and then....

Was told that there was an office in Kempsey, just a stone's throw away from Hubby's office and that yes they would.

Hubby waited for the post to arrive yesterday morning before setting off for work......................

And yes.

We now have a fully legal and taxed car.

I hope that it's a good party.

p.s. Talking of parties and stuff: Root for Enidd in the Big Blogger House!
Big Blogger 2007