Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Cables and Leads

A man can never have enough cables and leads, apparently. We have at least a black bin bag and a half, but, quite often, the male members of my household are unable to find the particular cable or lead that they need. At this point, all attention generally turns to me, and a conversation similar to the one below ensues:

'Where is the lead I left in the middle of the dining room table, on the 20th March 2004?' enquires a family member, somewhat accusingly.

'Why do you think I would know?' I ask, playing for time.

'Well, you are the only one who tidies up around here!' replies the male family member, triumphantly.

The trap has been set. He is aware that I will desperately feel the need to say 'I certainly am the only person who ever tidies up around here!' but if I say that, it will be an admission of guilt. I bite back my tempting retort and reply truthfully 'I don't remember seeing it and I don't know where it is. If I had moved it, I would have put it in one of those black bags, or on the shelf under the computer table. Learn to look after your own things' I add in my own defence. 'Don't leave it to me. Put them somewhere safe, if you don't want to lose them.'

Back comes the inevitable reply. 'I do look after my own things. I did put it somewhere safe. I put it in the middle of the dining room table.'

When the lead or cable is finally found in someone's car (It has been known.) or drawer, the family member still regards me with some suspicion. He doesn't feel that he could possibly have put it there himself and forgotten. He feels that it was definitely me, who put it wherever, with the unfathomable, but determined, objective that it would never, ever be found again.
Inevitably, by the time the missing cable or lead has been found, a new one has already been purchased.

One of the observations on my lengthy list, relating to the male sex, clearly states that, men are perfectly capable of searching for lost items, but totally incapable of ever finding them, particularly if aforesaid items are surrounded by others of similar shape and size. This could well explain why we have a bin bag and a half of cables and leads in the first place.

Note: A recent blog by p.r (A Day at the Shops) set the above train of thought in motion.

Saturday, 27 October 2007

The Child Within

A few nights ago, eldest son came home in the cherry picker. He parked it on the drive, as middle son drew up in his car, alongside him. I watched them chatting from the window. On observing middle son's face light up, I guessed the nature of eldest son's question. When I next looked out of the window, a few seconds later, the 2 of them were high in the air, in the cherry picker, way above the rooftops, grey, cloudy sky as their backdrop.

A little while later, as I sat in the living room, with middle son, eldest son and eldest son's girlfriend, Kirsty, the doorbell rang. I hoped that it wasn't anyone wanting to see me, as I was wearing my old clothes, and was on the verge of plunging a teaspoon into a delicious chocolate mousse I'd had a fancy for.

Eldest son went to the door, and I heard a female voice. Suddenly, the living room door opened, and a petite blonde lady hurried into the room, smiling, extending her hand towards me and introducing herself as Sophia, Kirsty's mother. I invited her to take a seat, and watched with mild curiosity, as she joined me on the sofa, whilst talking incessantly, appearing to breathe through her ears. It was very nice to meet her, but I couldn't help wondering why she had suddenly decided to call by.

After a few more minutes everything became clear. Kirsty and Sophia both wanted to go up in the cherry picker, but they couldn't do it at their house, because of overhead wires.

When my husband returned from work, we were all in the process of gathering outside the front door, in anticipation of having a ride in the cherry picker. We chattered excitedly, whilst Kirsty was first to disappear up into the night sky. Sophia was second to go and my husband went up before he had even changed out of his suit. Everyone then turned to me, to ask if I was going up, too. Not wanting to miss out, I hauled myself up into the cage of the cherry picker, with a little help from my eldest son.

I shivered in the cold, clear evening air, as the machinery whizzed and whirred, taking us closer to the velvety blackness above. I looked out over the rooftops at the crescent moon, hanging low in the sky and wondered vaguely what the neighbours would do, if any of them happened to open their curtains and look out. Perhaps they would complain to the residents' association, or rush out to join us in the hope of having a ride. Fortunately, my questions remained hypothetical, due, presumably, to the efficiency of modern double glazing, as our escapades passed unnoticed. In the short space of approximately 20 minutes, peace and quiet resumed in the cul de sac and we returned to the house for a warming drink.

So, why were we all so eager to go up in the cherry picker? The general excuse seemed to be that we wanted to admire the view, but we were all aware that the view from a cherry picker would not compare to that from the London Telecom Tower, for example. If not for the view, then there could only be one other explanation - this being that: the excitement generated by a new toy does not necessarily diminish with advancing age.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Moving On

We were not at home when our student son arrived, on Friday afternoon for his first weekend visit, after starting university. My husband was working in Birmingham, on Friday and Saturday of last week, so we were staying at my parents' house, in the Midlands.

By the time we arrived home, late Saturday afternoon, student son had already done most of his washing. I wasn't sorry about that, particularly when I found out that it had been his friend Lucy's idea to come home that weekend, so that their respective mothers could do their washing! Student son had first met Lucy when they were attending for interview at another university. They had discovered that they lived quite close to each other, and, by sheer coincidence, had met up again in their tutor group, on their current course.

I dutifully began to help my son with the rest of his washing, drying and ironing, shortly after arriving home and things were back to normal for 24 hours or so. Student son had caught up with his friends on Friday evening, so he spent the remainder of Saturday watching the cricket, football and rugby on the television. I got up early on Sunday morning, so that we could enjoy a roast beef dinner together, before he embarked upon his return journey to university.

All too soon, we were heading for the railway station, in the car, and I began to think back to a couple of weeks ago, when my son had suddenly become anxious, as the time to begin his university course had loomed closer. At one point, he had insisted that he would not go to university unless he passed his driving test, because he wanted to be able to travel home at weekends in his car. I had worried that maybe he wasn't ready to leave home, perhaps he should have worked for a year, or perhaps I had been over-protective, in some way, which had resulted in his sudden loss of confidence. I had become concerned, because he seemed to be looking back, instead of forward, and I had worried that he would be unable to settle.

As it happened, student son had passed driving his test, but had been persuaded to leave his car at home, because of parking difficulties on campus, and, as far as I could tell, he now seemed to be coping very well with life away from home. He appeared to be getting on famously with the other students sharing his kitchen, and was keeping company with Lucy and a second girl in his tutor group.

I came back to the present as we pulled up on the station car park, about 10 minutes before the train was due to leave. We walked over to the front of the station with student son, as he rang Lucy, to check that she was on her way. When she confirmed that she would be arriving shortly, my husband turned to me and asked whether we should wait and meet her.

I asked my son what he wanted us to do, but he shuffled from one foot to the other, and replied that he really didn't mind, one way or the other. I searched his face for some indication of his true feelings on the matter, and I concluded that he wanted to wait for Lucy alone. We gave him a quick hug and I kissed his neck, as he had grown too tall for me to reach his cheek. I looked into his face, as we backed away, preparing to leave. He said goodbye, then, as he turned to look towards the car park entrance, I saw his expression change and I realised, without even looking, that Lucy had arrived. In that instant, as I watched him, watching Lucy, I understood that we were no longer centre stage in his life. We were about to play a smaller part. He was looking forward. He was moving on.

We turned and quickly walked to our car. I glanced over towards the car park entrance, glimpsing a pretty dark-haired girl emerging from a car, and smiling in my son's direction. I hoped that there would be other opportunities to meet Lucy, as soon as my son was ready. We drove out of the car park and merged with the oncoming traffic, without looking back.

Friday, 5 October 2007

Things I Didn't Want to Read in my Student Son's Email

1) The cleaners left a notice in our kitchen. It said that they had been unable to clean it, due to the amount of dirty washing up and empty beer cans left lying around. If we did not clear everything up, they would confiscate the dirty pots and pans etc, and we would have to pay to get them back.

2) It took us ages to do the shopping, today. There's so many students round here that some of the shops had sold out of alcohol. We had to try loads of shops before we could get the brand that we wanted.

3) We've had to move all of the food out of the 'fridge to make room for the alcohol.

4)After a few seconds, I realised that he was probably joking. He was joking, wasn't he?

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Tea For One

So my youngest son went off to university on Sunday. The 'moving in' experience wasn't as lengthy a process as it had been, when my middle son started, some years ago. We simply parked up, collected the key to the room and found our own way.

We sorted out the room, had a nice meal in a nearby restaurant, and finally left our youngest son outside his new room, chatting with his fellow students.

I shed a few tears on the way home in the car, under cover of the darkness, and our youngest son texted us later in the evening to say that he was having an 'amazin' time.

For everyone else life seems to carry on as normal. I try not to feel devastated, but I do. I am constantly reminded that he is missing.

When I awake, he is not in his bed. When I prepare my breakfast cereal, we have too much milk in the 'fridge. I shop in the supermarket for 3, instead of 4. I arrive home, and the house is empty. I drink my cup of tea alone. There is not enough washing for a proper load.

His pre-student paraphernalia litters every surface, but for some reason, it is when I see his name printed at the top of his latest bank statement, that I finally break down and weep.

Today my husband is manning a stand, at an exhibition, in a town nearby to where my son is staying, so he is visiting him. He is taking an aerial for student son's television set, and the 2 large cushions I have bought to make his room more comfortable. My husband will see our youngest son this afternoon. I will not.

As my husband leaves for the exhibition, this morning, I unexpectedly shed a few tears. "Why are you crying?" he asks.