Wednesday, 28 March 2012



Yesterday we said farewell to Violet Tranter known to all of us as 'Nan'

Her passing came as a surprise only in that all who knew her had resigned to the possibility of her living on for ever and ever.

I knew Nan for ten of her 91 years. Generally I think we got along just fine. We didn't talk very much, if you were to combine all the words we'd spoken to each other over those ten years you could probably meld them into one fairly short conversation. This is down to a combination of her refusal to wear her hearing aid and her inexplicable inability to understand my accent. But dispute our communicative problems we still shared the occasional whiskey, I always let her put stuff in it.

I learned a few things about her over the years, like that she served as the unofficial midwife for the neighbourhood women for a number of years. Apparently she was the go-to gal for the expecting women in her neighbourhood when the local midwife could be reached. She was a dinner lady for the same school that Julie Walters went to. She loved sweets, particularly flying saucers and flumps and to say that she was strong-willed and opinionated was an understatement. If Nan had something to say, about anything to do with anything she would say it. She would give you her advise, whether you asked for it or not or wanted to hear it. Then if you dared not to take that advise you could count on an 'I told you so' from Nan. She used to urge me toward strange jobs, for example when at Jack's birthday party she suggested that I would make an excellent children's entertainer.

Nan was unrivalled in her ability to attract attention, especially from men. At our wedding she had the Freddy Mercury impersonator dancing in her lap with his shirt off. On a night out with the girls she reportedly kissed her way out of the club at the end of the night. At a wedding she disappeared at some point in the evening. After an exhaustive search they found her drinking whiskey at the bar with a stranger.

As the years have gone by I've heard 10 variations of her favourite excuse for her behaviour. It started with "Well I am 81 you know" and it changed every year.

Jack will miss Nan too. She always had the best biscuits and she always gave me some. When he was little he thought that her wrinkly face was hilarious.

We'll miss you Nan, you were an amazing woman.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Crime and Punishment

Generally Jack is an obedient child. He's only disobedient when he's not paying attention to what he's doing, which is often. Or when he's tired, which generally just means that he doesn't pay attention. It's a vicious cycle really.

Punishing Jack is easy now but it wasn't always. When he was very little he had a way of making his punishment seem like your punishment. Usually by the end of the punishment we were angrier with him than when we started. If we sent him to his room he'd start throwing things down the stairs. Once his room was empty he'd start breaking things or run up and down the hallway and eventually rope us into playing a game of 'chase him back into his room
Eventually we got things under control by a long series of trail and error. Thank fully they paid off and now we have our moderately well behaved child to take to fancy places.

Now a days Jack more or less punishes himself, he doesn't like the idea of having misbehaved. It's somewhat problematic because he gets very upset if there's even the possibility of his having been naughty. So usually just letting him know that you're angry with him is punishment enough. We'll tell him off and he'll usually exile himself to his room or somewhere for a while. Often he won't come out until we go get him.

The other day Jack was misbehaving and lost his morning television privileges. We didn't think much of it really, we figured that he'd just play with his toys instead until breakfast arrived, so we left him in the living room while we prepared in the kitchen. It was Saturday so breakfast was taking longer than usual and after about half an hour I went to get the table ready and found Jack sitting at his table looking glum.
What are you doing?
Nothing... he moped.
I noted the undisturbed toys in their pile in the corner. You can play with your toys you know.
I know.
Have you just been sitting here this whole time.
Just staring at the wall?
I'm not allowed to watch the television this morning.
So staring at the blank TV screen then.

I must admit that I felt a little bad about it all, more so that breakfast was taking so long.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Alternate Disney Personalities


We're regular visitors to the Birmingham Sea Life Centre. We have an annual pass this year and Jack loves to see the rays, otters the fish. He's always keen to pet the starfish and crabs or whatever else they've got in the petting pools, today it was a crab and an anemone.

He also loves that I'm a ray magnet. Within minutes of being around the tank some ray starts trying to get out of the tank near me. Jack insists that they want to bite me. I've been bitten, pecked, licked by, crapped on by, etc... by much of the animal kingdom. As far as Jack is concerned the rays got a taste for me when one bit me in Mexico, according to the guides that's never happened before in the history of the world, and now word has spread and all the others want a piece of me too. Jack always get a kick out of my suffering.
Here's one now, practically foaming at the mouth.
We frequent all the sea life centres in the UK. It's become something of a tradition to visit them on our travels, even if we've been to them before. Each one has something that the other don't and even re-visits are always interesting enough to kill a couple hours.
One of out most recents visit was in London where Jack was thrilled to see a tank dedicated to finding Nemo, pretty much all the fishfrom the show, that play nice with others, lived in the tank and were clearly identifiable. Jack ran to the tank and shouting Nemo! Daddy look it's Nemo and... *Gasp* Evil Nemo.

Now Evil Nemo is the number one requested fish to see at aquariums. They didn't have any this time at Birmingham, but I'm sure they will soon.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Broken the bank


Jack has a collection of piggy banks scattered about the house. I don't know how he's managed to acquire so many or where from but they're all full of coins. He fills them practically as soon as he gets them.

He doesn't ever break open the piggy banks. These banks are more like long term savings bonds that he'll open them from time to time, empty the money count it, show it off and then pile it all back in again.

Today he broke one of the piggy banks, the only one in his collection that actually is a piggy. I'm not sure on the details but we'd just got home and when I came into the room it was broken and Helen was consoling him. Jack doesn't keep all these banks because he wants to save the money, Jack unashamedly loves money and doesn't like spending his own if he can help it, it's more a case of a compassion for the banks themselves. They're toys to him and are loved as such, he fills them so quickly because he knows they don't like being empty.

It's not the first bank he's broken acidentally. He broke a Mini Cooper bank of his Grandad's a while back and was very upset that he wouldn't be able to drive it around Grandad's house anymore or fill it with money.

This piggy was one of his own design, he painted it himself so it really is quite a loss for him. Helen eventually calmed him down and sent him upstairs for a bath. As he trundled up the stairs he sobbed quietly.
I miss my piggy already.

Thankfully this piggy came in a box of two, so tomorrow we can paint up the other one.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

The Jack Report


We got into a conversation over dinner that somewhat resembled an interview. I had intended to copy my sister in doing an annual interview with Jack this year but I didn't for reasons that I can't recall or may not have existed.

So here it is.

Jack age 5.
Best friend: Max and Finlay and nanny
Favorite food: Fruit pineapple
Favorite weekend activity:  Go to the beach
Favorite cartoon character:  Scooby Doo
Favorite movie:  Scooby Doo: The Mysteries Begins... but he never wants to watch it because it's too scary.
Favorite meal: Sandwiches
Favorite hot meal: Toasted sandwiches
Favorite animal: Otter
Favorite plush toy: Dylan and Polar Bear and Sharky... strangely not Otter
Favorite chocolate: Toffee... 
Favorite ice cream flavor: Vanilla with marshmallows
Favorite color: Golden
Favorite pie: Apple
Favorite band: The Gorillaz
Favorite song:  TNT and Clint Eastwood 
Favotire pizza topping: Pineapple 
Favorite breakfast: Toffee chocolate kraves... ah now I see
Favorite game.  Smash Potatoes.

Future occupation: A good evil genius / mad scientist
Worst fear: jumping in the pool
Dislikes. Onion salad and tomatoes