Friday, 23 January 2009

The Twilight Zone

De-de de de De-de de de De-de de de ....

Yes, I fear it is true. Divorce Towers has entered the Twilight Zone.

It all started when my lovely sister-in-law gave my eldest treasure a stack of books by some American person called Stephenie Meyer. Apart from a passing wonderment that the author spelt her first name in such an unusual way, I felt nothing but gratitude. Reading is one of the few things that absorb Child One enough to dam the tidal wave of hormones which otherwise rage around the house. It's not just her, I hasten to add - her younger sister and I are just as likely to take offence at the way a cup is put down on the table or burst into tears while watching Andrex ads. Is this what happens when women live together? If so, how do nuns stand it? Mme Bovary, the cat, has been spending a lot of time with her paws over her ears, when she is not escaping next door to take refuge with her boyfriend, Archie the tabby, while poor old Jumbo the rabbit, feeling outnumbered, has taken to hiding behind a copy of the FT in his hutch, twitching slightly while waiting for it all to blow over.

So, when Child One stomped off to her room with the books and slammed the door, all I felt was relief, once I'd hoovered up the fallen plaster and shards of doorframe. Several weeks later, I realised I hadn't seen the dear treasure in a bit, apart from brief appearances at feeding time. I was just starting to worry - nearly - when the child appeared, ashen of face and bird's nesty of hair. This, from a child who had just discovered grooming in a big way, and had recently taken to manicuring her manicure while waiting for her manicure to dry.

'Darling, are you all right?' I asked, feeling her forehead. It was cold and clammy. There were violet circles under her eyes. Something was clearly very, very wrong. Damn this teenage vampire saga, I thought, giving my precious one nightmares. 'Have you been up all night, darling?' I said, thinking how fiendishly cunning it was of Ms Meyer to have reinvented Mr Darcy for today's teenagers. Who could be more emotionally inaccessible, more aloof, more impossibly unobtainable than her vampire hero? And what could be more irresistible than such a challenge?

'Yes, I couldn't sleep all night long ...' said Child One, in the weariest tones imaginable.

'Don't worry, darling, you know, it's all a story isn't real ..' I said, wringing my hands.

'Oh don't be silly, Mummy, I wasn't talking about the book. I spent all night worrying about the film know, it's really, really, scary ...'

'What is, my lamb?' I said, as I pondered which of my many lawyers to use to sue the filmakers for scarring my child for life.

'Well, I just can't choose who's the better looking, Edward Cullern or Jacob Black,' she said.


Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Alpha Mummy

Darlings, do nip in to Alpha Mummy's coffee morning at
Goodness, those virtual biscuits really are yummy!

If you feel moved and you have a moment, do leave a message saying how much you adore my blog entry, and maybe they'll give me a lovely new column! Well, a girl can hope

Thursday, 15 January 2009

The Emperor's new clothes

One of the joys of living in London is the close proximity of all that delicious culture. Naturally, I make absolutely no use of it unless I have to, when guests appear. Then I thumb feverishly through the review sections to get a crash course on what the latest must-see is, how on earth you get to that bit of the city and, most importantly, what I ought to be thinking about it when I get there.

Of course, it is also my sacred duty as a Mummy to expose my treasures to as many good influences as possible. Having signally failed in my private life (My dearest darling True Love! Sniff!), I Must Try Harder to nurture my darlings' tiny brains and fill them brim-full with a cornucopia of, er, learning, or something. Thus I have dragged my children around countless cathedrals, museums and galleries in a wide variety of European cities, effortlessly putting them off, in no particular order, great art, religion and music. Oh, and walking too. They really, really hate that.

No-one can say I am not persistent, though, so when one of my far-flung relatives came over last week, bringing with her a delightful selection of cousins, neices, nephews and aunts, there was only one thing for it. An exhibition.

Tate Modern was the obvious place. So big! So, er, modern! So concretey! So handily on the 68 bus route from Herne Hill!

Except that it isn't really that near a 68 bus stop, and after a 20 minute walk to meet the relatives, my little treasures were fit to be tied already, and that was before we'd even got in to the Rothko exhibition, the Tate's current big show.

I have to admit I've never seen the point of Rothko. It is maddening when people say of Jackson Pollock, for instance, 'that's not art, a child of two could do it!', and I tend to brush off my best sneer and dismiss them instantly as philistines. When it's Rothko they're talking about, I put my head on one side, muse for a nanosecond, and think, 'actually, they have a point. And never mind the treasures. My cat could do that.' Not that Mme Bovary would ever deign get paint on her fur, you understand.

Anyway, there we were, a bunch of teens and pre-teens, me and my darling relative, and deep, dark, gloomy old Rothko. 'A lot of people find him very, very moving,' I said, hoping to inspire some sort of interest in the children. 'Let's all go in and see if we can feel the emotion!' Many pairs of cool, near-teenage eyes flicked fractionally upwards to signal a lame adult alert, but I pressed on regardless and we strolled in to a room full of large, looming, red and black canvases. The children made to stroll straight out again, but they were forcibly encouraged to come back and have another go at emoting. No luck. We hurried onwards, tried the slightly smaller, slightly more colourful canvases, then the big purply ones, the half-black, half-white ones (I'm sure Mme Bovary would have got the demarcations clearer) and, finally, the large battleship grey ones. Here, we collapsed onto the bench. Just as I plunged into a despair almost as impenetrable as Rothko's own, as all the children failed to evince a single, solitary flicker of feeling, my adorable niece piped up. 'I like that one over there. It's neat!'

I perked up instantly. 'Where? Where??' I shrilled, looking down the long line of steely, cold canvases. I couldn't quite believe she had found something to love here, but I was certainly willing to make all the other children stand in front of it and try and catch a bit of feeling, too.

'That one, way down there, right at the end of the gallery,' she said, gesturing to a grey rectangle a bit longer and wider than the rest.

I looked a bit closer, full of hope and excitement. Then my shoulders sagged. She was pointing to the exit.

But she was quite right, we did all feel an exciting rush of emotion as we rushed through the grey door and straight into the gift shop. It was relief.