Tuesday, 20 December 2011

My Favourite Christmas Song

It's been a proper age since I blogged (or did anything else for that matter, since I started my new job), but I've been tagged by Ceri at The Liberated Womble to write a post about my favourite Christmas song.

I'm still not in full Christmas mode yet, although I have changed my complete iPod playlist to carols and festive tunes.  These range from the trip-off-the-tongue favourites to obscure long-lost ditties.  From all of these, it is hard to pick a favourite.  However, there is one song that has the ability to total fill my chest with emotion, at any time of the year.  And you'll be surprised when I tell you that the first time I heard this, it was the soundtrack to Home Alone.

Enjoy! x

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Kids Gaming And PEGI Ratings

So I know I'm late to this one and sadly only now got around to blogging on this issue, but for what it's worth, here's my tuppence worth.

Both Nickie at Typecast and GeekMummy have blogged on this subject, as have some others and probably more I haven't had a chance to read.  The opinions on these two blogs are both balanced and I can understand both points of view.  However, I have a different approach to my own boys use of computer games.

This may shock, but the first game that my lads played was on PS1, way back when they were pre-school was Tekken, which was pre-PEGI but rated as T for Teen.  They played under supervision with their dad.  It never occurred to me that it would have any effect on them.  Despite their young age, they knew it wasn't real.  They never re-enacted the moves.  I know this isn't a "gory" game, which I certainly wouldn't have let them play so young.

But as they got older, I never really paid any attention to the age limits on any games or movies.  Up to the age of 12, I never let them watch anything or play any game that I didn't first research.  To be honest, they weren't really big fans of shoot-em-up games back then.  But when we discussed new games as they were realised, often among a flood of public outrage, I gave my opinion on what I thought was unnecessary and simply sensationalism.  It would be then up to them to decide whether it suited them or not.

The reason I never paid any attention to age restriction guidelines is because I know my lads better than anyone else.  I know that at the age of four, Andy was quite mature and knew the difference between right and wrong.  I know that even now, at the age of 14, as much as Joe would love to watch a Saw movie, he simply can't sit through the whole thing.  I know that, whatever game they play, they realise it's not reality and has no bearing on their real life.  I know they communicate with people online, but they know the dangers.  (I will be first to blog when the debate about kids online arises).

It's been 12 years since my lads fostered an infinite bond with games consoles.  So what has been the effect of all this "delusional, lazy" parenting?  Well, both my sons and straight A/B students.  Their behaviour in school is exemplary.  They've never had an ASBO, a caution or even a detention.  They've never been in a fight - well, never a physical fight; both are quite prepared to voice their opinions vehemently.  I couldn't be any more proud of them and people tell me often what fine young men they are turning into.

So you can say this makes me an irresponsible parent, makes me delusional and lazy.  But it works for me.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Dear John...

Continuing on the line of my job seeking, I will share the story of my attempt to secure employment with Asda.  Previously, I had avoided applying, as the Asda is literally a stones-throw from my house.  Surely a plus point, I hear you cry?  However, at the moment I work as a dinner-lady in the local school - a stone's slingshot away? - and can't go shopping as it is, with children stopping me every two minutes to say hello and introduce me to their parents, while said parents attempt to conceal two bottles of wine and a pack of chicken nuggets.  So if I was to work there, I'd be a sitting duck.  However, they were looking and I was seeking so I applied.  And - YATTA - I was called for interview.

I was told the interview was a group format and formal dress wasn't required.  So I made the mistake of dressing informally.  And, of course, all the other fuckers had dressed to impress and I looked like I was sticking it to the man.  We were all led into a cramped room with a big table which we all sat around. Before anything else, there would be an "ice-breaker" - yep, it was THAT type of interview - where we would find out about the person next to us and introduce them to everyone else.  I tried to be friendly and make genuine conversation with the lady next to me.  Ah, but she was a seasoned interviewee.  Her tactic was to fire questions at me, gleaning as much information as possible without offering up any of her own.  After the three minutes, she looked on smugly as I stood up to introduce her to the ensemble.  But I had an ace up my sleeve.... I was just gonna downright lie!  I didn't "quite" say bestiality was her hobby nor that she cultivated recreational drugs, but they got the picture. 

Then we were given a "talk" about Asda - facts, figures, policies - you know the sort of thing.  It wasn't quite how I imagined.  What it came down to was a massive  bitchfest about how much better than Tesco they were.  Literally.  She bitched about their staff.  She moaned about their prices.  She complained about their delivery system.  And worse than that, this she did with cringe-worthy grammar and questionable spelling.  (We were supposed to be shown a video to back-up all the "information" she'd given us, however the TV didn't work (?)).

Next we were split into four groups, given a bag of equipment and told we'd to complete a task as a group - setting out a plan, achieving a goal and presenting our findings.  The task?  To construct as high a structure as possible, using balloons and sellotape......... yes, really.  I'm a bloody dinnerlady, for fucks sake!  I can create a game with two sticks and a hairclip.  This is child's play!  However..... I hadn't reckoned on what everyone perceived to be the ACTUAL "object" of the task - to stand out from the crowd, to show you can be a team player, while being an epic team leader, to be confident and not afraid to speak our minds.  Well now, not to blow my own trumpet, I'm actually all of those things and I don't need no balloon-task for me to show it.  However, I AM very competitive, so cue my taking over and making sure our tower was the highest.  We made our plan, wrote it all down, got the thing to stand four foot high and one of the lads gave the presentation at the end - I showed my delegating skills, as he was supposed to be an actor (ok, so he was looking for a job at Asda which made him a pretty shite actor presumably).  

Task over we were back at the table for a run-through of the working hours, rates of pay and general requirements to work.  "Uniform always to be worn.  Polite and courteous at all times.  No vibrant or unusual hair colours...".  Wait, what?  WHAT?? It was only then that I sensed the elephant in the room.  Really?  She waited until she'd subjected me to Tesco-bashing, talking to strangers and "playing" with balloons to tell me this?  Didn't she notice, because surely it's her job to see these things?  Did she think I'd be offended if she asked me to leave?  Was she colour-blind??  

So at that stage, I felt it was time to leave.  And with the words, "We'll be in touch" ringing in my ears, I took my PURPLE barnet outta there.  Yes, purple. I sat there for forty bleedin' minutes, for her THEN to announce that she never had any intention of giving me the job in the first place. *sigh*

And, the VERY NEXT DAY, I received the obligatory Dear John... letter.  They were so glad I applied and, although they had nothing suitable at the moment, they would be in touch once something arose.  I'm sure it's only a matter of time before they realise that need a purple-haired, bossy, loudmouth Irish woman.  I'm thinking something in PR.....

Friday, 14 October 2011

Job Seek Her - The story of my efforts to gain employment

So, ok, I do have a job.  But I only work for five and a bit hours a week.  The money comes in handy, but I am available for other work.  I'd love to get out there, meet new people, contribute to the household.  But for someone in my position, it's not easy.

For many years, I was the main breadwinner in our house.  I was successful, I made decisions, I wasn't just someone's mum.  Then it came time the eldest of my lads to start school.  I wanted him to go to our local school, which meant our previous childcare arrangement no longer worked.  So I gave up work.  Although I've never regretted spending all those years with the boys when they were younger, I would have liked to have done both.  My OH would be first to admit that he took a firm step back and never allowed any flexibility in his work-life to help accommodate with MY potential to work.

And so we moved to the UK and this diminished even more, my ability to work.  So I stayed home, settled the boys into school, made sure I was always around.  I did brief take up a job, but as I was essentially the boys sole carer during waking hours, it involved working nights.  I stuck it out for two years, but found it extremely hard.  I used to come home at 7am, go to bed for an hour, get up, get the lads sorted for school, drop them off and then eventually get back to bed to sleep until it was time to pick them up again.  When I finished there, I didn't work for a while, for most of the boys journey through primary school.  Then when my eldest was in year six, I was lucky enough to get a job working as a dinner lady at his school and I've been there ever since.  I love my job and I think I'm pretty good at it.  But it's not enough.  

So fast-forward a few years and I'm still a dinner lady and although I've been searching on and off, I haven't been able to find another job.  I find filling out applications daunting.  My CV is somewhat like Chesney Hawkes and stuck in the 90's.  Although I think I have gained very beneficial experience through life in the last two decades, potential employers don't see it.  I understand it a tough market, I understand there are single earner families that wouldn't understand my necessity to work.  But it's tough out there, I want to do my bit.

This is where I will vent from now on.  I will attempt to find two jobs to apply for each week and keep you abreast of the outcome.  Here's hoping this is a short-lived idea with a successful result!

Monday, 25 July 2011

The Aftermath from Amy

The news of Amy Winehouse's death spread like wildfire on Twitter.  I, like many, were sceptical at first, but it wasn't long before the "Breaking News" banner was scrolling across the Sky News screen.  And along with confirmation, came the many opinions of the Twitterati.  I didn't much get involved with the conversations, from either point of view, so I thought I'd reflect on my feelings here instead.

The first deluge of tweets were the "She brought it on herself" camp.  Amy Winehouse's addictive and self-destructive lifestyle were well documented as were her father's frequent attempts to have admitted for rehab.  The last performance video of her in Serbia shocked so many people and my observation then was why had her management team let this happen.  However, I've never been behind the scenes in Amy's life so I can't say what really happened.  What I can say, is that not one of us should judge someone else's life when it was not ours to live.  Having an addictive personality is a recognised syndrome and anyone can be inflicted.  To say Amy deserved the death she has because an infliction she couldn't control is callous and ill-informed.  If I was to die tomorrow, would people say, "Sure she'd no-one to blame but herself.  Did you see the size of her?  She was a heart-attack waiting to happen!"

Another frequently tweeted message questioned how people could be sympathetic towards Amy Winehouse when so many young, innocent people had been killed in Utoya.  The reason Amy's death affected more people was because, as a person in the public eye, they felt they knew her.  It felt closer to home.  And since when has our sympathy and sense of injustice been finite?

Then there's the issue of the rapidly spreading jokes that followed Amy's death.  Though you may fine it crass and heartless, it is human nature.  It's been happening for many years and always will.  It could be a defence mechanism, it could be a lack of empathy or it simply could be that some of us have a warped sense of humour.  I didn't find all the jokes funny, I thought some were tasteless but then again, I can have a giggle just like the next black man at a sexist or racist joke.

So, that's my opinion.  I do hope Amy can now finally rest in peace.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Thank You For Your Patience...

....normal service has now resumed.

This week, number one son Andy has been on work experience.  Now this is all new to me as I never expected him to be doing this so young; he's not yet fifteen.  But we checked out the options, he made several applications and was pleased he ended up with a placement at a local school, in the Science Dept. as a Lab Technician.
Now, I love my son more than I love Shiraz.  He's very intelligent, polite and confident.  But he does have his foibles.. he's a bit of a know-it-all, he has very strong opinions that he likes to share, he can be a smidgen sarcastic  (yeah, I know.. the apple didn't fall far from the tree!).  Baring this in mind, I worried about how he'd get on.  Would he drive them mad?

I needn't have worried.  The staff were wonderful to him.  They were helpful, friendly and considerate.  They not only made him feel welcome, but also made him feel like a colleague.  They bought him a cob on Cob Day.  They chatted to him in the staff room.  They told the other kids to call him Sir.  Thanks to all of this, he had a fantastic week.  There's wasn't anything he didn't like about it.  It's made him more sure about what he wants to do with his future and more determined to achieve it.

I'll probably never meet the people Andy worked with.  And though he'll send a letter of thanks to them, I'll never get to show my appreciation.  So this is a great big THANK YOU to any of you who has ever had to endure a work experience kid.  THANK YOU for not getting annoyed when they ask the same question for the fifth time.  THANK YOU for understanding when they don't listen to your instructions, because they think they know-it-all.  THANK YOU for rescuing them when they get lost coming back from the toilets.  THANK YOU for making them a cuppa and giving them your own time from your lunchbreak.  And THANK YOU for putting their mother's minds at rest.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Hotpoint R.I.P.

This week our washing machine died.  A tragedy of epic proportions (and no, I'm not exaggerating!).  Not least because it has served us well, with eight years excellent service under it's belt and even at that, I don't think we bought it new.  (Hotpoint, pat yourself on the back).  However, due to many factors, we're not in a position to buy a new one at the moment.  Which means for the coming week at least I am left to handwash, a time-consuming activity.  It's not that I don't have the time; it's all the time I get to think while doing it.  

The following is just a taster of what's been going through my mind.
How do the enzymes in washing liquid work?
Why is my garden like a Pet Cemetery thanks to my bloody cats?
How will Andy do in his Work Experience next week?
Is the soluble plastic on washing tabs made of the same stuff as edible underwear?
Why can't every question be asked in cookie form?
Have I worked off enough energy to have a chocolate muffin for breakfast?
Why aren't I skinny already?
What was that Lost ending all about?
What the fuck was Ed Miliband thinking of?
Will I go to hell because I laughed at Frankie Boyle's joke?
Why have I suddenly become obsessed with nail varnish?
How come I didn't marry a millionaire?
What's the value of fantastic sex - a million pounds maybe?
Am I a sad case because I missed the #FridayTwiz last night?
Was the Euromillions won last night?
And why didn't I buy a ticket?
Is it an age thing that makes me so excited about the prospect of using my new vacuum cleaner?
Do I think too much?

Thankfully, I can tweet while it's drying...

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Why I don't blog

See the irony in that?  A couple of days ago, I read this post from @himupnorth and it really struck a cord with me.  It's something I'd been thinking about for a while and wasn't sure how it would be received.  But since he took the plunge, I thought I would too.

A lifetime ago, I started a blog.  It was, to me, just like a diary I'd let everyone read.  It was simply to empty my head, a one-way conversation where I always had the last word.  And at first I enjoyed it.  But as I got more and more into Twitter and read more and more blogs, I realised I didn't quite fit in where it seemed I should.  

It's the term "Mummyblogger".  Ya see, I'm not one of those.  Firstly, I've technically never been a Mummy.  As you may be able to tell from the blog title, I'm Irish.  So when my lads were born, I was initially Mama.  Then Mammy.  And when we left Ireland, I had progressed to Mam.  But once moving here, in an effort to fit in some with their albeit teeny peers, my lads started calling me Mum.  See?  No mummy.

Secondly, much as I love all my friends on Twitter and however much I enjoy their blogs, my dynamic is slightly different.  My lads are almost grown and have very few years left in school.  They spend most of their time in their rooms, with their own laptops.  We no longer bake, or paint, or go to the park.  They don't wear cute clothes nor play with toys (Pokémon not withstanding!).  They eat like horses, swear like hookers, have their own, very strong opinions (where did they get THAT from?) and know more than me about a LOT of stuff.  And one of them has their own blog.  So I can't really blog about them - more than anything, it would scare the living shit out of parents who have yet to experience the teenage years!

Finally, once I'd started the blog, I felt I should be writing on an almost daily basis, whether or not I had something witty/entertaining/shocking or even mildly noteworthy to say.  Although I would consider myself to have a touch of verbal diarrhoea, even I can't spout off ad infinitum.

And so, my blog (should it go any further than this!), will be me talking shite.  It will be like an extra-long tweet.  It will be like when you try to text a story and end up writing, "Ah fuck it, I'll tell you when I see you".  This is me face-to-face.  I can't promise it will be riveting, it won't contain blogging wizardry (I can barely imbed a link!), it may be offensive, it won't make you skinny or clever.  But it might make you smile. :-D