Tuesday, 19 May 2009


I’ve never felt more like Miss Trunchbull. Currently I seem to spend my evenings threatening a large percentage of my family with the ‘Chokey’, a cane and any number of evil punishments, anything in fact to motivate them towards some effectual study.
Pia has a face as long as a Norwegian Fjord because she is in the middle of AS levels and cannot spend as much time as she would like playing, not only with her boyfriend, but also with the subterranean toys that she and Jamie like to indulge in. They spend every waking hour indoors, playing on various state of the art computer games. No amount of encouragement can get them to vacate her bedroom and with the curtain permanently down, no Vitamin D is getting to her skin and I seriously worry that she may be developing rickets. When she arrived last August her skin had a youthful, European hint of almond brown to it, her blonde hair, having been bleached by the sun after a summer spent on her private island was startlingly Nordic and she shone with excitement due, no doubt, to a combination of promised adventure coupled with a seriously healthy lifestyle. Wind forward nine months and the same young woman is almost unrecognisable. Rarely vacating the basement has left her once warm skin pasty white and her fabulous flowing locks, once shiny and head turning, is, after spending most of its time attached to a pillow, a dull matted mess. Her diet is appalling and whilst I provide something nutritious and scrummy most nights, Hubby is to be frequently found downstairs with a bin liner, stuffing it full whilst ranting and raving about the detritus of empty Chinese cartons, crisp packets, pizza boxes and litre bottles of fizzy pop that litter her ‘living space’. She looks more and more like a British teenager every day and no doubt her family will be horrified when she returns home, ‘chav’ personified. Her saving grace, albeit moodily, is that she is determined to go to a good university and therefore, when not playing with her Wiis and what-for, is focused on her physics. How I wish the same could be said for my son, who, although equally ensconced in vital examinations is literally laid back about the whole affair but, by keeping to his room, kids no-one. The times I have quietly, crept upstairs then suddenly pushed open his door to find him in a horizontal position listening to some rock band or other his back to an open exercise book, instant-messaging his beloved. And he wonders why I lose my rag? Not only does the sight of him half dressed, exposing his chest on a web-cam ignite me, but the sight of at least seven or eight empty mugs of tea, which never make it back again to the kitchen spin me into a screaming banshee of rabid recriminations. I despair of what will become of him because, no matter how devastatingly handsome, how charming, how good a bassist he is, one cannot get through life without a modicum of parrot learnt knowledge and one or two A*s. The chap who should know this better than anyone is Hubby. No longer a youth but equally as disconsolate, Hubby is finding the writing of a 20,000 word dissertation, absolute hell. Having left school with nary an ‘O’ level other than English and a CSE in Cookery, here is a man who has a firm grasp on how much more he could have achieved in life had he, in a teacher’s school report writing parlance, ‘applied himself’. Perhaps we never learn though; it is after all only the very few who rush home from school, throw their satchels down, butter a piece of toast, down a cup of tea and then forgo Countdown and The Simpsons for more cerebral pursuits. It is they who will become our surgeons and oncologists, not your cappuccino makers and Royal Navy Logistics Officers.
The consequences of these less than ardent attitudes to exams and dissertations has meant that it is left to me to wield the Trunchbullian whip, verbally if not physically, although Hubby’s saucy suggestion that I ‘give it a go’, which I comfort myself in thinking was more a displacement activity than a genuine fetishist request was met with such a steely stare, that he hung his head in shame and hurriedly retreated to his computer.
As shouting and screaming and threats aplenty have had little effect, Mags offered her services in looking after the youngest children whilst I took my eldest and my husband to the theatre as a motivational treat. On Monday we saw Quadrophenia and my husband was terribly proud as his son donned his old, tight, grey, mod suit that he’s been keeping in moth balls for precisely this kind of moment. It was a great show if a little over my head - as my 13 year whispered to me, “I prefer Shakespeare; once you understand the theatrical tools used, one can just about follow any play of his”. Quite.
To our complete surprise Pete Townshend – aging rock God and scriber of Quadrophenia, stood up to take a curtain call. Both Hubby and son were ecstatic. Immediately our son decided to try and get his programme signed and minutes later we drove as near as we could to the stage door. Looking up we saw a gaggle of autograph hunters vying for Mr Townshend’s attention but it was only our son with whom he was in deep discussion. Finally our boy returned to the car, beaming and fifteen feet tall but as we were about to pull away, Pete Townshend walked towards us and stuck his head through my window and, pointing to our boy said, “You’ve got the real thing there”.
I looked across at Hubby who, from the expression on his face, is just as happy these days to get his kicks vicariously.


Sally said...


Anonymous said...

Cappuccino makers and Royal Navy Logistics Officers are VERY important.