Flawed of the Dance

Once again it’s show time for my choir.

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you’ll know that at about this time every year I devote a post to whining about my sorry inability to follow the fairly simple choreography that accompanies a handful of the songs in our show.

This year, let me tell you, a mere whine will simply not do the trick. Our show is titled ‘British Invasion’ which is, in itself, a terrible misnomer. There are a few songs which were truly part of that notable period in British pop music history, but for the most part the music is just ‘from Britain’. I suppose that isn’t a particularly catchy title.

Having said that, we are singing some beautiful, traditional celtic and gaelic pieces. The best part about those ‘serious’ pieces is that they are usually immune to the machinations of our over-enthusiastic choreographer; but sadly, this year she has decided that they would be greatly enhanced by some twirling around, flapping of arms, and general prancing about.

Nothing too complicated, thankfully, but still, apparently a little more than my brain can master; particularly in combination with the effort of retaining both the words and the tunes. Half the time, if I’m remembering to dance I’m forgetting to sing, or vice versa.

The moves for the livelier numbers, on the other hand, are wound up about fifteen notches from previous years. It’s worth noting here that we are a mixed group of varying ages, sizes, shapes and dance abilities. On the one end of the spectrum there are those who can shimmy and shake with the best of them. On the other end of the spectrum there’s me.

And so the audience can look forward to another year of watching me dithering around with a look of horrified confusion on my face, all the while  trying to suggest some semblance of rhythm from the apparently random spasming of my limbs, and inevitably clapping on the off-beat.

When I joined the choir my intention was not to be the comic relief, but I guess it’s good to have a purpose in life.

 

 

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Always Wear Lipstick

Style has never been my strong suit. I despise those people who can wear a ratty old pair of jeans with a plain t-shirt and still manage to look all put together.

Try as I might, that will never be me – in fact, I’m less ‘put’ and more ‘thrown’ together. I believe that dressing from Value Village is not in itself my downfall; I’m sure those annoying style mavens would get away with it by combining artfully conceived outfits with impeccably coiffed hair, manicured nails and flawless make-up.

Sadly, it seems, frizzy hair, cracked nails and streaked make-up are never going to be the style du jour.

As a teenager I always assumed that  I would blossom, at some magical age, from a short, scruffy duckling into an elegant, sophisticated (albeit, probably still short) swan. Still waiting. Now, here I am in my fifties, dumpy, frumpy and grumpy about it .

The point I am getting to, in my usual rambling, distractible way, is that the start of the landscaping season has not helped my plight. Already my fingernails are mud encrusted; my arms are criss-crossed with spruce needle scratches, and my hair is invariable adorned with a selection of twigs.Yes, I am totally rocking the ‘dragged through a hedge backwards’ look.

071So, I decided a few weeks ago that if I have to spend the season looking like a scarecrow then I was at least going to do it wearing lipstick and an awesome hat.

The hat has proven somewhat impractical as it spends most of the day snagging on branches and falling off, but despite that I’m pretty pleased with the results. It’s possible to disguise all manner of mascara smudges with a pair of sunglasses, and no-one can possibly know what my hair’s doing under that particularly fetching hat.

Plus, the advantage of being just under 5’4″ is that most people probably can’t focus on anything a great deal lower than the lipstick, so I’m golden!

 

 

I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up!

I’m not much of a drinker. No, really! While I’m not above turning to the gin bottle in times of stress, I find that one glass is generally enough. Not because of any high moral ground, but because, even after all these years, my alcohol tolerance hasn’t recovered from 27 months of pregnancy (not consecutive) and about two years of breastfeeding (also not consecutive).

But yesterday, after a hard day’s gardening, I thought it would be nice to sit out on the front steps with a glass of wine. It’s worthy of explanation here that the front steps are made of stone and they meander in long, gentle strides up the three feet or so to the front door, with flower beds dotted along the way.

As I was sitting there nursing my wine, and babysitting the cat (another story), the phone rang. It was Roxy wanting to chat. With my very mild tendency towards both OCD and ADHD, I find it difficult to concentrate on a single task, so while I chatted and drank, I also inspected the flower beds, fiddling about with some light weeding and a little bit of pruning. I also noticed a small gaggle of neighbours congregated a couple of houses up the road.

Being the graceful creature I am, it’s probably inevitable that at some point I would lean too far, or trip on a stray pebble, and unfortunately when it did happen I couldn’t decide whether to save the wine or the phone, and chose instead to catch myself with my face.

So there I am, hurtling face first into a bush with a shriek and all the neighbours watching. It was a spectacle which ended with me sprawled on the ground, covered in wine, and giggling helplessly like a cheerful drunk.

Unfortunately not all those neighbours had the best opinion of me to start with. Well one of them anyway  – after a small contretemp over a parenting issue, which I have incidentally won, now that the child in question has grown up to be a stellar member of society, even though said neighbour might be unaware of that fact (but I digress)  – and I feel as though watching me fall arse over teakettle in a drunken stupour probably didn’t help much.

Now I can’t ever go outside again because I’m too embarrassed to be seen in public.

 

Bracing for Trouble

There can be few things more stressful than being a 15-year old boy. Between rampant hormones, peer pressure and the frustration of being surrounded by stupid old people who know nothing about life or the world, it must be a nightmare.

For the most part Hoss manages to keep it together bravely, but every now and then the effort of it all proves too much. I know, for instance, that he struggles daily to make sense of this darned obsession with sending kids to school – after all, no-one there has anything useful to teach him and it’s really all just a waste of his valuable time. My heart bleeds for him.

The latest drama is braces. Unfortunately it’s his second bout; when his top front tooth came in crooked and threatened to grind down its lower counterpart, he had to have that fixed, even though he still had some baby teeth left. So I do feel bad that he now has to go through the rotten process all over again. That’s more than even a non-hormonal, post-adolescent rational person ought to have to endure.

He keeps asking me to explain again precisely why they’re necessary, and I know this is the point at which any calm-headed, clear-thinking parent would dive in with a convincing and logical explanation. Unfortunately all I can come up with is “well it made sense when the orthodontist explained it”. Was there really a good reason, or was I just made credulous and manipulable by the ambient smidgeon of escaped laughing gas?

Being English I’m still not convinced about this obsession with orthodontics anyway. Crooked, yellowing teeth just give a person character, and frankly a mouthful of huge, perfect white chompers is just a little too Hollywood for my tastes. But, then again, who am I to argue with ten years of orthodontic training?

Ah well … only another 14 months and 24 days of complaining about sore teeth, broken wires and trapped food scraps. I’m sure it’ll fly by.

 

 

A 5,000 Year Fad

So, I’m in Starbucks ordering my tea, when the girl behind the counter informs me that tea is just a passing fad.

There’s only one possible reaction to a statement like that – stunned agogness (if it wasn’t a word before, it jolly well is now).

Her companion behind the counter was a young man who joined me in staring aghast at her for a few dumbfounded seconds before I spluttered “I’m English – don’t try and tell me tea is a passing fad!”

A-M and Rachael Agog

 

This is what the average face does when you tell it that tea is just a passing fad.

Thanks Roxy and friend for the demonstration.

 

“Well, it’s really popular right now”, she explained. “I suppose it might last, but I still think it’s just a fad.”

There’s so much wrong with that sentence I don’t even know where to start! Firstly, the very definition of a fad is something that won’t last. And secondly – and perhaps most importantly – tea has been around for 4,700 years now. I think that qualifies as having stood the test of time.

When it comes to fads, I have to say, my own instincts are not infallible. For instance I have only recently given up waiting for the appeal of computers to fade, and as for the internet … well the jury’s still out on that one.

But for now, I think I’ll go and make a pot of tea while you’re still able to find it in the shops.

Park Your Dignity Here

Gotta love technology. Do you remember the good old days when exiting a car park meant submitting to the scowls and growls of a surly parking attendant and waiting with baited breath while he mobilized himself long enough to open the barrier?

Alas, one more bastion of personal service has fallen to automation.

Trying to exit a car park recently I spent some time playing “guess how to insert the ticket” with the machine. Apparently arrow facing up and in was too obvious. So I tried arrow facing down and in. No luck. Arrow facing up and away fared no better, leaving me with one option. With a wish and a prayer I shoved in the ticket with the arrow facing down and towards me (not what I would have picked, but hey it’s not my ticket collecting machine). Well, final option or not, it clearly pissed off some parking god somewhere, because the machine spat it out onto the ground.

So there I was, with my ticket on the ground and the car sitting so close to the machine that the door wouldn’t open. Some people, in this situation, might have thought to back the car up and move it away from the machine, creating some space for the door to open. Well phooey to that! The only solution that presented itself to me was to climb over the passenger seat and walk around the car to retrieve the ticket.

So, spraying the contents of my handbag across the tarmac in the process, I clambered over the passenger seat and scrambled out. Desperately trying to hoick my skirt back down from around my hips, I trotted around the car, feigning nonchalance and attempting to ignore the growing queue of cars behind me. To my horror I found about 50 tickets strewn on the ground around the machine. Probably the leftovers from all those hapless parkers who decided to abandon their cars rather than endure the humiliation of an intellectual standoff with the machine.

Nonetheless, I picked the cleanest ticket and the machine, having had its fun for the day, accepted my payment. Apparently the ticket I picked wasn’t mine, as I ended up paying for a four-day stay, but at that point I was so desperate to escape I would have surrrendered my firstborn.

Next time I’ll find a meter.

My Fearless Protector

I have written before about my rather pathetic, and completely fearful dog, but this week she has excelled herself.

Before going on, I should explain that she has a doggy door which leads out onto a platform in the side yard, from which she then has to jump down about 3 feet to the ground.

I have noticed in the last few days that she has been standing on this platform, barking like a mad thing, which is unusual. Normally she goes out into the back yard and tears up and down barking ferociously at passing dogs, secure in the knowledge that they are safely the other side of a dog-proof fence.

So why is she staying up in the side yard? It turns out a coyote has been frequenting the park just behind our house. Clearly this is not something that can be tolerated and she feels the need to deliver a loud and persistent warning. But, not wanting to get carried away by bravado, she apparently decided to deliver the warning from the safety of her platform. That way, if necessary, she can bid a hasty retreat to the safety of her mummy’s protection.

They say it’s good to get a big dog for protection. How’s that supposed to work, again?