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Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Accidental Boxing Class

I've got a short term deal on a local gym so I'm making the most of it. Yesterday I stumbled into what was definitely referred to as a Fast Class. Which meant it would be over with fast. Hopefully. It was 8am and I staggered onto the gym floor. 'Ok where's the fast class?' I muttered to a sick makingly wide awake young man with bright eyes and a goatee, hoping for a classload of equally tired, grumpy people I could hide behind. 'Put these on,' he said, smiling, so before I realised what the hell was going on, I had shrugged into a pair of minging sweaty boxing gloves. Hang on! This wasn't a fast class! This was . . er . . .boxing? On my own? 'Yeah it's you and me,' said Elijah with the goatee. 'Where's everyone else?' I whimpered. He ignored me. 'Punch ten times both sides then we go down by two'. Eh? What? Counting and exercise? I feebly punched the wrong number. 'No - put your whole body into it!' shouted Elijah. It's very very hard to punch sulkily but I managed it. When I'd punched the wrong number and dislocated my spine ten times it was time for a 'rest'. 'Round the track!' snapped Elijah. I ran round the track, grumbling. Then I had to punch again. I tried pleading inability to breathe or stand up but Elijah wasn't having any of it. 'You punch like a girl!' he said. Finally I socked him a punch he was grudgingly pleased with. 'Come back tomorrow,' he said in a kind but butch voice. I kept thinking of that bit in Ben Hur when Charlton Heston is chained to the ship. 'Hate keeps a man alive Number Six'. Doesn't quite work as 'Sulking helps a girl to punch.' I've never been so glad when forty five minutes was up. All I can remember after that is slowly collapsing to the ground and whimpering. I'll never laugh at Rocky again.

Monday, 23 November 2009

A Nasty Lady Told off My Girl

Recently, I took The Girl to a magical production of James and the Giant Peach at the Polka Theatre, Wimbledon. At one point, James thrust a giant, squashy peach coloured half blown up rubberised beach ball into the audience and we, the audience had to pass it back through the auditorium. Doesn't sound magical but it was. The atmosphere was as it should be, noisy and slightly chaotic. We sat at the back, so The Girl’s view was slightly inhibited by a family in front of us. The Girl asked the odd question and I whispered the answer in her ear. A few seats down, a boy shouted and shrieked with pleasure. And then just as Act Two was about to begin, The Girl asked what the safety curtain was and the lady in front of us turned round and said Shhh very loudly to her. I was so surprised I had a ‘no that didn’t actually happen’ moment. Then as we sat in silence the lady spun round again and snapped Be quiet! really angrily to my five year old child. For speaking before the curtain had gone up.

I was so shocked my throat stung. Don’t talk to my child like that, I snarled back. The show hasn’t even started yet. She spun round again, face a purple mask of anger-about-something-else-entirely. She TALKED in the first half so perhaps you might restrain her in the second!

So did half the theatre I said loudly. We're in a children's theatre remember? Rage was tearing through me. I would have happily punched her overly made up face with runway burgundy blusher streaks. She in turn looked at me with such hatred, I recoiled. The Girl took my hand, the lights went down and I sat in silence. The Girl was too nervous to ask any questions. I would have happily given five years of my life if the woman's head had exploded in front of me. I sat back in the darkening theatre trying not to cry. The Girl seemed fine. James and the Giant Bitch.

On the way home, I talked to The Girl about what had happened. That the Nasty Lady had no right to speak to my girl like that. She looked at me thoughtfully. And she was fat she said cheerfully.

Where the bloody hell had that come from? Among my many parental crimes and misdemeanors, sizeism is not one of them. I absolutely don't want The Girl to become infected with the horrible body fascism that defines our culture. Probably naive but you can make a start by not whining about your own weight or referring to it in other people. So I launched into my Guardian Lecture about how we were all different shapes and sizes and it didn’t matter. What mattered was that the lady had been rude and nasty.

She was fat repeated The Girl. I didn't laugh. But I did smirk. Then I changed the subject. What is it that money can't buy? Erm, love? Friends? Happiness?

The Girl thought for a minute. Leaves she said. I do love her.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009


First off I’m really sorry about the heinous length of my disappearance. Oh you haven’t noticed. Ok. That’s me humbled. I knew tumbleweed was blowing through my blog when I started getting anonymous emails telling me that I could bulk buy Viagra and a very strange ‘comment’ which I quote in full:

But placid, there are well known companies which deserve benefit words and created an distinguished get Cialis now reputation.

Er right. What?

So, quick catch-up. I’ve been ploughing through work and feeling grateful to have any since at least three of my friends have been made redundant recently. This alas is not much comfort when you get the ninth draft of a script back from your producer with the note ‘I preferred the eighth draft’.

Took The Boy round to a series of sixth form colleges last week. I tried to stay in the background, only to reappear whenever he needed to fling a witty comment in my direction, or to place an umbrella over his head. When did I morph into a butler? At one point as we were wandering round a school, lost, he hissed in my ear: ‘Why don’t you go and talk to the other mums?’ So I sidled up to another mum who was looking really fed up and asked her a few banal questions about her boy going to sixth form. Her boy doesn’t seem to be interested in anything, especially not his GCSEs. She looked at the prospectus. ‘Apparently if they get into this school they have to do a course called Critical Thinking’. I watched her boy and mine hunched, gloomy and wandering round the Art department. ‘Well, The Boy is pretty good at being critical’ I mumbled. ‘I’d be glad for any vestige of thinking’ she added. ‘Perhaps we could enter them as a duo’.

We found our way to the psychology department, where bright eyed students were on hand to answer questions. I mentioned that I’d have loved to have studied psychology at school. ‘Look Boy, they do criminal psychology!’ I chirped over eagerly then saw his face shut down and realised I’d committed the parental Cardinal Sin of Being Eager. ‘Muuuuuuum’ he snarled and moved away as though I had bad breath, BO and swine flu.

Later on as we sat in the taxi I said that I’d been hurt by his obvious contempt. And reminded him that when I was fourteen and deeply into the Grease soundtrack, complete with hairbrushes for microphones, and fights over who would be Sandy (God knows why – Rizzo is a far more interesting character) my dad would wander past my bedroom door and start whooping: ‘Wella wella wella ooh! Tell me more tell me more – now what’s that supposed to mean – doesn’t mean anything . . . ‘ and on and on in a Touretty rant until mum shouted from downstairs that Hawaii Five-O was on. Now that’s an embarrassing parent. The Boy’s mouth turned up slightly at the corner and he touched my hand very lightly. I’d forgive him anything. He’s my boy.