The kids spent the morning tipping out boxes of cuddly creatures on their bedroom floors. When not bickering endlessly the kids are currently most interested in major and messy projects which they conduct together. This cuddly toys excavation started as a search for all monkeys that we own ( to accompany us on Pride – more later) but became a joyful re-uniting of children and bears, bunnies, pigs, elephants etc. etc. This lasted over a couple of days and included a partial inventory and total stock count – 346 – a ridiculous total for a house this size and just two children, but no more than I deserve given my own childhood obsession with all things cuddly. My mum finds it very amusing that the kids have such a passion for creatures and name and profess love for each and every one, as I was so similar as a child. I can only hope that it starts to wane soon…
The other thing the kids are loving at the moment is their mud constructions in the garden. This is very elaborate and I think quite therapeutic for Pearlie who is going through a bit of an up and down patch. They make pools and mini bridges and today constructed a scene of carnage where the plastic lion was devouring several other animals who were covered in cherry juice blood!
Scene of the Lion attack!
I am trying not to nag constantly about the mud and water trailed in through the bathroom, and the rate at which towels are being caked in mud when 'clean' hands are dried, as I think that playing with mud has to be a human right and that this is a 'good thing' compared to the amount of tv repeats that used to be watched when we had Sky.
In the afternoon, on Wednesday, I went to town and got all my hair chopped off by a young woman who was amazed at the idea of HE and thought it would have been good for her as she was 'really naughty' at school. I also spent money in the fabulous Bravissimo and on a couple of new tops.
When I got home the kids were just convincing Dani to take them out on a brief park trip with a few 'special' creatures they had found. They took turns sending them down the slide to each other.
In the evening we all went out to a Pride week event put on by the wonderful Brighton Ourstory a lesbian and gay local history project. This has been going since the late 1980s and the event was a show first put on in 1990 – looking at the lives of four people born between 1917 and 1968. I think Pearlie got something out of it (she certainly noticed the 'rude' bits) and Leo was quiet and ate TicTacs! They were both total stars and behaved impeccably. Dani and I loved it and I was almost moved to tears several times. A sudden image of a grinning Dani and girlfriend, in about 1989, filled the screen at one point and I had a rush of memories of those days and how desperately I wanted to end up with her. And I did! Result!!
I started Thursday morning with two hours of cleaning for our next door neighbour, for a bit of extra cash. I hope I can manage to keep this up in the long term as it is really handy.
The kids carried on with cuddly creature and mud activities.
In the afternoon I took the children in to town in search of trainers, as they both have a week long athletics summer school coming up. Leo was shod in the first shop we visited (Clarks) as he is an easy 12 ½ G fitting. Poor Pearlie is now 'between a 2 and a 2 ½ and very narrow' – for this you just read ' and not one pair of trainers we have will fit her'. Sadly, not one pair of trainers in any of the other four shops we tried fitted her either. This involved more time than any of us care to spend in sports shops with young staff who seem to have been trained in the art of poor service. I don't usually mind if service is a bit off-hand as I find it embarrassing when people are too attentive, but when you have to chase the staff around the shop to try to get help it does get tiring! We gave up in the end and went home.
In the evening Dani and I put together a big storage box for the back garden, which will hold both Dani and Pearlie's bikes. It takes up a lot of ground in our little yard, but I think it is worth it to get the vehicles out of the house. Pearlie has decided she wants to save up for one of her own and live in it.
Dani was at work all day on Friday. Pearlie, Leo and I met up with cousin B (6) and his mum for a trip to the swimming pool in town. This was a great success, in spite of the fact that I was dosed up on migraleve and battling off a migraine, as B felt inspired to abandon his armbands - as Leo no longer has them. I had to spend a lot of time underwater listening to things that Pearlie was saying and trying to work them out. The boys played on the little slide but Pearlie's long legs virtually reach into the water from the top of the slide these days so she found that a bit pointless. Everyone had a good long swim and then we came home via the bagel shop, with a bag of fresh baked bagels.
In the evening my mum came to baby sit so we could go out to another Pride event – a performance night with some solo women singers and a couple of groups. We had a really lovely time, saw lots of people we haven't seen in years. Rather amusingly I was at the bar when a photographer came up and asked if he could get a shot of Dani and the woman sitting next to her, to which they both replied (in shocked tones)
"We're not together!"
Even better was that the woman was in fact there with an old ex of Dani's! I haven't been in any club type environment for the best part of ten years at least and was astonished to find hair straighteners in the loo?? A bit like the hairdryers at the pool but considerably more hazardous I should think, especially given that they are almost bound to be used by drunk women! I had two bottles of beer and was totally tipsy, so low has my alcohol tolerance fallen. It was a bit silly to drink at all given the state of my head and that on Saturday it was
Costumes were wonderful
The sun shone
Love was in the air
The theme of this year's Pride was 'Carry On' – as in the films. I tried not to allow my political consciousness to connect with that too much as we put on Safari type gear, draped cuddly monkeys on ourselves, and set off for the parade. We joined in with the Rainbow Families group who had chosen 'Carry on up the jungle' as their theme – with giant banana. A few brave souls had done the whole parade, carrying babies in back carriers, pushing toddlers in buggies, and so on. We just did the last part, which was enough for us all in the heat. My mum paraded with us and kept the kids supplied with mints and hands to hold.
The real Babs Windsor was there too!
As usual, my favourite thing was seeing the different groups in the parade, rather than the flashy floats from the clubs and bars. The gay fire fighters had a fire engine as usual - driven by an old friend of ours who clearly loves the annual opportunity to impress the girls with her big truck and flashing lights. I like the fact that once a year we get to see just how many gay people keep essential services going in this city, and how diverse we are as a group. There are people of all ages in the parade - and the watching crowd is very mixed too. This year I was struck by all the special claps, cheers and thumbs up the Rainbow Families group got from people watching – made me want to cry (again!) and made me so pleased that we are bringing the children up here and now, where their lives aren't being blighted by the homophobia we knew so well as young women and which we would still have to deal with in lots of other places.
Once the parade is over the event in the park isn't really so great for us these days. The stalls are full of mega-expensive stuff, most of which we don't want the kids to examine in great detail(!) The dance tents are clearly out of bounds for the kids – heaving, hot and rather heavy on the naked buttocks. The fun fair concentrates on big scary rides to make the queens scream. So, after a quick stroll round we set off for home before the kids flaked out.
Probably the only place we would have liked to go was the women's performance tent but that was packed and we have to be more aware of Leo's feelings around women's space these days. In fact, both the children were appalled by the idea of a 'women's centre', when we passed it in town the other day, on the grounds that it was 'not fair on men'. I was very pleased they reacted in that way, as I think it's important that they've got such well established ideas of fairness. We try very hard to make sure that gender isn't a limit on people's choices in this family and to make it clear that any person can be an admirable one, for many reasons. Time enough later on to talk about self-organisation and oppression. Right now I'm glad that the children's instinct about separatism is that it is outrageous – I think the whole world could learn from that message right now…
Leo declared the park 'Leoland!'
In the evening Pearlie spent some time chalking a mini pride flag on the pavement outside and both kids went to bed very tired.
Today we were all in need of a rest, except perhaps Pearlie who was born without a need for rest! I am not really joking about that. She strove to move every moment from birth. By three months she would strain to sit up if laid on her back, by ten months she could get to her feet from a flat floor and toddle off, by a year she was running, and so on. So, this morning, as the rest of us flopped about blearily with tea and toast, she started unpacking the tent we are going to take camping next week.
This tent is a great gift from D's parents, who aren't using it any more. It just about fitted in the kitchen, once we got the right poles inserted in the right sleeves! Pearlie, after getting it all unpacked, declined to take any further part in the assembly, as apparently we were being too bossy and taking it over. Ideally Pearlie would like to do such jobs alone. I think she is finding being nine very irritating and would like to get on with growing up now. She has extensive plans for her teenage years, including walking all around the coast of the British Isles, climbing Ben Nevis, and taking part in the London to Brighton cycle ride.
This afternoon Leo and I took lots of washing to the launderette (our machine is out of action during decorating and building work) and did some pages in his maths book. He is enjoying this at the moment – getting some satisfaction from the completed pages, I think. It is nothing special at all, just a book I got reduced in 'The Works'. It was £1.25, which is possibly about what it is worth.
Dani and Pearlie went to town and managed to get Pearlie trainers, at last. Dani is by far the better mum to do that job as P's strange feet are inherited from her and so she can look at a load of pairs of shoes and know which are worth trying. P also spent some of her own money on a thing called a Buff – a sort of multi-purpose head gear, which she thinks is really 'cool'.
This evening the children wanted to play with Leo's 'Beat the Clock' kit – a present from my dad. It is a little box with a stopwatch, record sheets, and a book of ideas for activities you could do. Leo wasn't very happy with the competitiveness at first, as he is very aware that P will always be faster than him, but once he got the idea that he could set his own targets he was ok. Pearlie loves competition and can't resist pointing out her victories, but Leo took it with good grace and declared himself happy with his performance and his silver medals. They did timed running, hopping, jumping, skipping and star jumps. After half an hour of that they were completely shattered and we all ate tea in front of the telly.
Actually, virtually the only tv the kids want to watch at the moment is videos of Fawlty Towers, which suits us fine. Their favourite is my favourite too, 'The Kipper and the Corpse'. I never tire of watching them. They do have quite a lot of violence and silly sexual innuendo but I watched them when I was L and P's ages and loved them. The wonderful thing is that you can watch them over and over again and still laugh out loud, they are so well written. The children don't seem to notice how old they are. Mind you, I used to love watching Harold Lloyd when I was a kid, so I guess classic comedy always works.
Anyway, MMs meet up in a fairly distant park tomorrow, so I think I'd better get some sleep.