For the last week Little G has been focused on Easter. Sadly, the religious significance of the death of Christ, the empty tomb and the Resurrection has proved to be a tad outside her mental remit.
How many times have you admired a ‘common,’ ‘green’ or formal ‘square’ in your life? Plenty, I’ll bet. Even amid many an urban sprawl of crowded houses, seemingly gasping for space, there appears a modest patch of green: a welcome, sometimes desperate lung, amidst the brick-work.
The day before we take Ma home, we decide to poke around a cavernous bric a brac shop close to where we live.
Mid 1980s - Rudloe Manor, Wiltshire - In the office of the criminal investigators working for the RAF Special Investigation Branch Southern Region Headquarters, my desk was up against one wall next to that of a colleague’s and together we shared a single telephone.
Little G has a new buggy. It's is one of those easy-peasy drop down ones that you can get on and off buses and trains without having to haul it up and down steps or do life-changing damage to your shoulders. It folds down at a touch. It can be stowed on luggage racks.
Little G is not one of nature's sharers when it comes to her snacks, treats or toys. The number of times I've asked her for a bite of something, to be told : 'No, MY croissant.' Annoyingly though, she is brilliant at sharing stuff you'd rather she didn't.
Why does the story of the Titanic still have the power to move us, even though it happened more than a hundred years ago?
Little G has started speaking in scribble. You must be mad and I are not sure whether this is a sign of great intelligence, or just a crafty method of ignoring us. I suspect it is her way of defying the numerous 'no's' and prohibitions that now arrive in her life on a daily basis.
Little G has got a book of traditional nursery songs and rhymes with an accompanying CD (or as she calls it: an ABCD). Listening to it the other day, and joining in on an inaccurate and ad hoc basis, as we do, I was struck by the violence and nastiness of some of the songs.
On 23rd February 2016, Ian Soulsby, a former 'Snowdrop' who had served with the RAF Police, passed away. Several years earlier, Ian had contacted the author to share some of his memories of his time in the RAF. This one story was included in the condolences on the private Facebook Group 'Snowdrops Gone but not Forgotten'.
Dear Avalyn Grace
Tomorrow (Wednesday 24th) you will be 2 years old. I wrote to you when you were born (here), again when you were 6 months old (here),and again when you were nearly one year old (here), so I guess you are due another letter.
Friendship - Meeting Online Or In Person, Means So Much, Especially As We Grow Older And May Be Lonely
I was thinking about friends recently, and how that word now means something a lot more relaxed than it used to.
Every day, Little G's nursery gives You must be mad a written summary of what she has been up to during her day. This is my version.
I was in a restaurant the other day with a friend. Looking round I said to her, 'Dear God! This place is full of old people!' Then I started to laugh. The diners were all around my age and maybe a little younger!
Little G and You must be mad are just back from New York, where they have been visiting family for a week. I have asked her what she got up to, but all Little G will tell me is 'Dumbo', which was the movie she watched on the return plane journey.
So the question was what was the first job we had. Probably the first unpaid job I had was weeding and stoning our garden for my Dad but if we are talking paid work then my first job was a big surprise. I wasn’t looking for it, nor was I interviewed.
There is a reason why it is called 'The Terrible Twos' - and it has absolutely nothing to do with clever alliteration. Child specialists and experts may drone on about 'infant separation' or the 'need for establishing the self'. The rest of us put it down to just plain cussedness!
The more Little G and I are together, the more I realise how fast time is fleeting by. In six weeks she will celebrate her second birthday. It is hard to believe.
Little G is rapidly approaching her 2nd birthday, and so we are sidling up to another of the many targets that we both try hard to avoid. Honesty compels me to admit that I cannot remember You must be mad's progression from wearing nappies to not wearing them. Clearly it must have happened at some point.
Even as you are reading this, 2015 is slinking shamefacedly off, and a New Year is wedging its feet firmly into the door. Looking back, I am astonished at how much Little G and I have accomplished together over the past year.
Last year Little G was far too young to comprehend the wonder that is Christmas - I remember much of the time was spent trying to stop her crawling into the tree or eating the needles off the carpet. This year, two months off her second birthday, she has grasped that it is a special time and special things are going to happen.
Absence makes ... something do something else, they say. Little G and I have been on a break from each other as You must be mad's husband has been spending some deserved quality time with her.
Looking after a two and five year old grandchild for the past eight days [without their parents around] has been fun, exhausting but above all it has brought me back to that wonderful place called ‘childhood’. So I’m sharing it with you …you’ll enjoy it and I’m sure you’ll laugh.
Christmas time. Mistletoe and wine. Shops are full of sparkle and shine. Suddenly it doesn't matter how frequently You must be mad has dinned it into us that naff is not good, Little G and I find ourselves at the same end of an opposite spectrum - she's too young to know better and I'm too old to care.
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Well, it certainly is here. Little G and I have found a small covered shopping arcade that has gone Hardcore Lights: there are shiny hanging icicles from the ceiling, a red star lazar display, and the biggest Christmas tree in the world (if you are only a few feet tall) with blue flashing lights.
I am delighted to be the winner of Eric Lennick's book, A Life Worth Living! Here is a story of one of my first childhood memories. It is of our two little kittens, Jonathan and Josephine.
I am teaching Little G good manners. As soon as we get on the bus and the inevitable: 'Snack ... snack .... snack' rigmarole starts up, I suggest the addition of 'please' might produce something nice. And 'thank you' might be an acceptable way of acknowledging its arrival.
Little G has recently learned a new word: amazing. Or as she pronounces it: AMAZING!!!! I am taking full credit for this as I say it frequently but You must be mad says she says it, and so does Little G's father, so apparently full credit might have to be shared. Reluctantly.
We were on our way back from a gig with a trip home of 150 miles or so. As is often the case on these late night journeys, we were reviewing the night's business: how we'd been received, how the audience had been, how energetic the dancers had been (for their age!), how loud that group over in the corner had been, etc.
The Women’s Institute, Townswomen’s Guild, University of the Third Age, Rotary, Probus, Inner Wheel, Tangent, Friendship Circles … Ever wondered what it’s like to be a Guest Speaker at one of these groups?
Yes this week, Children’s BBC – the live links in between the shows – turned 30. Two weeks after Phillip Schofield went on air in 1985, I went for an audition at the TV Centre and was told shortly after afterwards that I’d be stepping in when Phillip needed cover.
Over the eight months that I have been minding Little G, I have come to the conclusion that grandmothers hold up half the sky. Well, it feels that way after an eleven hour day having fun.
It is a clear cold November 5th sometime in the late 1950’s. I stood with my father and mother watching with, frosty clouds of bated breath, my elder brother Willie von Braun proudly preparing his rocket for take-off.
Now that Little G has gone from sedentary to ambulatory, shop windows have taken on a whole new significance. Gone are the days when we whisked past, barely pausing to look. Much amusement is now derived from standing outside and identifying numbers, which are shouted out with all the gusto of a Bingo caller, followed by spotting Ds (Daddy), Ms (Mummy) and Gs (Grandma). All good harmless fun.
Laithwaite's Wine are hosting their flagship event Laithwaite's LIVE in London next week, and it's set to be their biggest and best yet. In celebration of founder Tony Laithwaite's 50th year in wine, they are pulling out all the stops and bringing over 100 winemakers from 15 countries and dozens of regions. It will take place at the marvellous Great Halls of Vinopolis, sadly for the last time before moving venue next year, so don't miss out!
Now that Little G is officially walking, and requesting to do it everywhere we go, our routine has taken on new vistas. Admitted they are only at ground level, but it is amazing how much stuff I seem to have missed over the years.
Little G is now a fully paid up member of the Anglican community, having acquitted herself brilliantly at her christening. All the pre-prep and risk analysis certainly paid off. The four small babies in long white robes and a variety of headgear howled dismally. The same-age toddler kicked off, refused to go to the lady vicar and was forcibly christened (not sure if this counts).
This Sunday, Little G is going to get christened at the big cathedral church she goes to every Sunday with You must be mad. Normally, christenings happen in the first 6 months of a child's life, but for some reason or another, it has taken until now to get it sorted.
Last week I decided it was time to change from the jolly yellow summer bag to the slightly more sombre dark red autumn one. This involved the usual contents swap, which, prior to You must be mad handing over Little G, meant extracting my purse, lipstick, mirror, mobile and sundry tissues and placing them in the new bag.
I married Paul in September 1999 when I was thirty-six years old, and although this was my second marriage, it felt more real than my first, and this time, I really wanted to get married.
Until You must be mad entrusted Little G into my unreliable care, I had forgotten how funny small children could be. The baby is now 19 months old and is developing her own sense of humour. I think she could easily do stand up - though in her case it would currently have to be sit-down.
There comes a time in every baby's development when they begins to realise they are a separate person from the adults around them and parents/carers have an important role in helping and supporting the child as they establish their own identity. According to the baby experts, that is. Sigh. If only it was that easy...
I used to think my childminding skills were on a par with that famous fictional umbrella carrying childminder: 'Practically perfect in every way'. That was before I started minding Little G.
I would like to share with you the life of our wonderful cat Cookie. She has sadly passed away now, but has left David and I with many happy memories.
I recently read a short memoir by Kirsty Grant about the September 11 attack on the Twin Towers. It was titled Collapse. She posted her recollection on her website and invited readers to reply with their own memories of that terrible day. This was my memory..
Pushing a baby round town is giving me a whole new insight into the way we (you, I don't do this) use bad language in the street. On several occasions I have had to TALK LOUDLY to Little G as some person has passed by us, swearing liberally while on their mobile.