Monday, April 30, 2007

Sex and the Doctor

All right, all right. This is just another excuse to print a picture of David Tennant again.

There. Isn't he lovely?

Although, actually I did have something else to say.

Elsewhere in blogland there exist others as obsessed as I about the good Doctor, and they are having conversations here

and here:

I decided that Dave and Marie had both made me think about it so much that I had too much to say and they'd get bored of me posting on their blogs, so I would just go and post on mine...

I have to confess when they first brought Dr Who back I was really nervous. I mean. Russell T Davies. He wrote Queer as Folk and The Second Coming for god's sake. And brilliant and all as that was, I couldn't quite see him toning it down for a Saturday teatime audience. But then I saw Mine all Mine, and thought, ok, maybe I got that one wrong then...

To my delight as a lifelong saddie Dr Who obsessed fan, Russell T more then delivered. I thought Rose was a huge improvement from the wet assistants of my day (even Sarah Jane who keeps being heralded as a really strong cookie. I thought she was a girly wuss... Russell hugely improved her when he brought her back).

I was a tad disconcerted by the burgeoning relationship between the Doctor and Rose - partly because Christopher Eccleston seemed way too old for Billie Piper, and partly because, well. it didn't seem like Dr Who, did it? I mean since when has the Doctor gone about fancying his companions? (Although I do remember Jon Pertwee being quite affected by Jo going off to get married...)

However, I have to confess, the very last episode of the first series, The Parting of the Ways, changed my mind.

I just LOVED the very tender kiss the Doctor planted on Rose to get the Vortex out of her head, and then the way he said as he regenerated, Oh Rose, I was going to show you such things... It was beautiful and haunting and well, romantic... For me that pressed all the right buttons. Moving, but not schmalzy, tender but not too sexy for a kid's programme.

And then of course the last series was a great long tease between Billie and David, who were much better suited to one another, and spent the whole of it getting separated as if to herald that final separation: Sarah Jane showed Rose her future without the Doctor, Madame de Pompadour his without her, she got trapped by the wire, he got trapped in a picture...

You have to hand it to Russell T, he does like to flag things up for us.


It ended. The Doctor lost Rose and until he met Martha he was on his own again.

And, I really don't want the whole shebang to start again. If he falls for Martha the way he fell for Rose he's going to end up looking like some kind of lothario, and personally I'm with Dave Hill, I kind of like him being slightly asexual, and OUT of all that sort of thing. I do love all the depth of emotion that David Tennant portrays with the whole being the last of his line thing, and that he cannot be like other people. But if he keeps hopping from assistant to assistant he's just going to look like your average jack the lad down the pub. And that will never do...

And apart from anything else, without sounding too prudish about it, this is a kid's show. My lot are deeply embarrassed by any hint of what they call the kissy kissy stuff. They prefer straightforward daleks being blasted into smithereens kind of episodes. And despite the laughably ridiculous pig slaves of the last two weeks (though they did hark back to the idiotic kind of monsters from my childhood, so in that sense they were following a well worn tradition), the children thought they were great.

On a slightly wider point, I do think this constant obsession with sex in everything is also an indication of something that has gone slightly awry in our society. Given that I have girls, I am constantly cross when I come to buy them clothes and find it damn nigh impossible to find them anything that doesn't make them look like little tarts. It's not just having images like the inexcrable Bratz dolls thrown at them (mind you, what we think is just tarty, they think is pretty and on the upside, the kids do play fantastically imaginative - and no not what you're thinking - games with them, so they're not all bad), or the fact that even magazines for eight year olds are full of pictures of skinny popstars, there seems to have been a change in society which assumes that we shouldn't hold back. Kids should know about this stuff. It's the way the world works.

Now granted, when I was growing up, we were shielded alot from That Kind of Thing, and it wasn't always helpful, but I hear horror stories (I have no idea yet as to how apocraphyl) about sex education lessons at secondary school including discussions about bestiality and s&m behaviour and think, aren't we taking honesty and openness a bit far? Last year no 1 came home from a talk about puberty with a leaflet about periods which earnestly explained that you can still have sex when you are having a period. Why on earth did she need to know that?

And from where I'm sitting, all this sex education appears to be having no effect whatsoever, given that we have the highest teen pregnancy count in Europe. Now there's a statistic to be proud of. Because there seems to be an assumption that as everyone is at it, it is having safe sex that counts, instead of an assumption that it is probably in the main better to wait till you're old enough, and for most of us the whole thing works a lot better when the relationship involved is a reasonably important one.

Which brings me back to Dr Who. Without making too much of a mountain out of it (ok, I probably am), what sort of subliminal message are kids going to get from seeing Martha jumping into the Tardis with an alien she's only just met, and then moaning that he isn't interested in sleeping with her (see episode two about Shakespeare, in every other respect, totally brilliant)? And if the doctor does get it on with her, it kind of implies that commitment is an out of sight out of mind kind of thing.

I had an interesting if rather oblique discussion with no 1 about this the other week. We were watching Mansfield Park and she came to the (correct) conclusion that Henry Crawford wasn't the One for Fanny. I explained as unscarily as I could that no 1 in time might meet the odd Henry Crawford, but really it was Edmund Bertram she should bother with. Jane Austen. Sexual politics in a nutshell.

I kind of hope therefore that the Doctor doesn't turn in to Henry Crawford (they can have Captain Jack for that), but remains if not Edmund Bertram (ok he is a bit wet), Mr Darcy or Mr Knightly through and through...

Either that or he regenerate as a woman...

Friday, April 27, 2007

Binge Drinking

So parents are to banned from shoving alcohol down the throats of their five year old children.

Well, if Alcohol Concern have anything to do with it they will. Not only that, the dissolutes involved will be prosecuted for their wicked and wanton behaviour.

In one fell swoop this will solve the problem of binge drinking among teens apparently.

Apart from the rather surreal image this conjures up of parents up and down the land appearing like characters from the Rake's Progress forcefeeding their children gin, it did make me wonder what planet the people in Alcohol Concern live on.

I don't think I know a single person who gives their five year olds alcohol. We have a five year old. We drink alcohol. But so far she seems unsullied. Indeed, she's never even wanted to try it. The two older ones on occasion have had a sip of their dad's beer, and now they've made their first Holy Communion they get to taste the communion wine (hmm, will churches up and down the land get prosecuted?). And get this. They don't actually like it. So us letting them have a sample isn't so far leading them into the path of dissolution.

The whole notion that the State should yet again have the power to interfere in people's homes in this way should be completely abhorrent in a free society. Yes, there are feckless irresponsible parents out there, who for all I know are freely plying their offspring with drink on a regular basis, but it isn't up to the State to go marching into their homes to prevent such behaviour, nasty and all as it might be. I am getting rather tired of do gooders telling me how I should behave. It's as if no one trusts us anymore to make up our own minds about how we bring up our children, and how we act in our own homes.

Rather then encouraging teenagers to be heavy drinkers, I think having some alcohol around in the house and being introduced by your parents to it in a responsible way, is a much more rational approach. From the age of 13 or so, I was allowed a small glass of wine with my Sunday lunch. I didn't then go haring down to the local park with my mates to finish the bottle. When I was a bit older I had my first taste of drinking/getting drunk in my late teens. My parents probably knew I'd had a drink (though laughably Mad Twin and I used to walk up and down the house several times eating mints in a frantic attempt to sober up), but they didn't make a big deal of it, so consequently we weren't driven to do it more in order to shock them. The people I came across who drank to excess the most at university, tended to be the ones who'd been kept on a very tight rein at home. Once let off the leash they went mad.

I'm not claiming virtue here. I did my fair share of drinking in my youth, and am still probably far too partial to red wine, but....

Prosecuting me for giving drink to my children under fifteen is going to make no difference to binge drinking in this country.

The rise of binge drinking as far as I can tell has been as a result firstly of the dratted alcopops, which look all shiny and nice and fun - just like lemonade but with a bit of a kick. As teenagers everyone I knew used to drink cider because we naively thought it wasn't that strong. Now I know we'd all be drinking alcopops because they look so pretty, and we'd be kidding ourselves that they were just like fruit juice.

Secondly, although I agreed with the change in the licensing laws, given that our cousins on the Continent seem to manage drinking all night without the scenes of debauchery that now regularly occur on Saturday nights across the nation, I think now it has been a mistake. The fact that it has been coupled with a rise in the number of licensed premises being opened, and the double whammy of the drinks industry insisting we have to drink much larger measures has been disastrous. Whether or not teenagers drink at home is irrelevant, if once they get out in the big bad world, they can go out to bars, where they can drink for hours on end, and with three glasses of wine consume the best part of a bottle. Beer is stronger now and so is wine. No wonder we're turning into a nation of pissheads.

Thankfully, it does seem the government seem to at least have the sense to realise that Alcohol Concern's proposal isn't the way forward, so it looks like Spouse and I won't be going to prison in the near future for corrupting our young.

But, jeez. Wouldn't it for once be nice to read in the paper that the majority of parents are doing a pretty decent job bringing up their kids (against increasingly difficult odds), and that actually, we're quite capable of making responsible decisions about our childrens' welfare?

Despite the best efforts of the Daily Mail to persuade us otherwise, I think in the main it's true.

Shame the powers that be don't think so....

Thursday, April 26, 2007

And then there were three.

No 2 is away on a school trip. It's only two days, and as most of the time covered she'd be at school in bed, her absence is really only notable for four hours each day.

But it's a weird thing.

You'd think having four children, I wouldn't notice one missing. I've got plenty to go round, and one little person being out of the house won't make much difference surely?

And yet, it does. Somehow.

There is a great big, no 2 sized gap that follows me about. The place seems too big without her. It's too quiet. Last night, I actually had time to watch Coronation Street for the first time in - ooh years.

How can one person make so much difference?

The others don't seem all that bothered.

No 1 casually said, why would I miss her? when asked. Mind you, she got a treat last night - thinking (how foolish am I?) that she might be missing her sister, I let her sit up with a chinese takeaway watching Mansfield Park which I videoed a few weeks back. She probably doesn't want no 2 to come home. It's much more fun when she's away.

Yesterday morning (see how pathetic I am? She only went yesterday and she's back tomorrow)
I said goodbye in the playground, and took the little ones round to their school. When we got there I suddenly realised no 3 had run ahead, did you say goodbye to your sister? I asked, worried she might be upset about missing her. I said goodbye in the car, was the nonchalant response. She didn't appear too bothered at all, while no 4 who adores her older sister and normally follows her round like a little lapdog ran off without a care in the world, completely oblivious (apparently) to the fact she wasn't going to see her for a couple of days.

Last night they didn't even mention her, nor this morning. At tennis this evening there was nary a sign from any of them that they missed their sister AT ALL. Am I the only wimp in the family, consciously aware of that big gap and eager for it to be filled up again?

I thought so till bedtime tonight, when no 3 suddenly said, I can't wait for tomorrow?

Oh, why? says naive mum, thinking, oh great, I'm about to get roped into going to assembly again.

No 2's back of course, she said crossly. Honestly, how could you forget about her?

How indeed...

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Party is up and running

Over at my other blog:

You can read some inspiring running stories, join in my competition, play the drinking game I shamelessly stole from the Ladies Lounge - Bec if you're reading this I hope you don't mind, I did email you and ask!, and even if you feel inclined buy the book.

Please please do pass the word on though!

Hope to see you in the smoothie bar soon....

Monday, April 16, 2007

More Blatant Self Promotion

I am in the process of organising an online party both to promote my book and celebrate Flora London Marathon which is run next Sunday (good luck to anyone out there taking part).

I'll be doing it over on my other blog:

and will post more details here shortly.

Spread the word, why don't you!

Friday, April 13, 2007

You Know It's Weird Out There in Cyberspace....

I'd hazard a guess that most grown ups of a certain age have been glued to the silver screen watching Messrs Simm and Glenister in action. What I am now supposed to do with Tuesday evenings is beyond me, but hey, at least I have the new series to pine for...

If, you like me, were a bit baffled by the outcome - gloriously gripping though it was, you might have been as sad as I am and gone searching in cyberspace for some answers. Courtesy of wikepedia I followed some links and found them. Which was rather a disappointment really. I think I'd have preferred the engima.

If I can get these sodding links right, you can find out to by going here...

There. That doesn't give anything away unless you want to go looking, does it.

It being the holidays and any serious chance of doing proper work being seriously out of the window I have ended up getting slightly obsessed with following links from wikipedia about my favourite programmes.

My little foray into You Tube took me to this

which is how I now know what John Simm did next...

And then sadder then ever I went back to wikipedia again and found this:

which is when I realised that I am actually not sad at all. Indeedy, I am only a tiny teensy bit obsessed with tv programmes I like compared with some of the things I found.

(I did however do a whole mad look at Green Wing too, so I now know all about Guy-ball and why it's called Green Wing - but that I can justify, as I am rewatching the entire series so I can follow Mac and Caroline's very fabulous romance to get tips on how to keep sexual tension going in my next book).

But what I've discovered is this. I may be a tiny teensy bit obsesssed, but there are whole Hordes and Hordes of people out there in cyberspace who seem to do nothing else but collect bits of trivia about their favourite tv shows and feed it into wikipedia for people like me to read about and marvel that anyone even has the time to do it.

And you wouldn't believe the number of You Tube videos I've found on the subject of Rose and the Doctor getting separated. I loved that last episode, and everytime we've watched it brings a lump to my throat, but sheesh! Making You Tube videos of it???

Now that's what I call really sad.

And I'm not quite that obsessed...


Though I wouldn't say no to David Tennant any time of the week...

Or John Simm for that matter...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

You Tube

I had so much fun posting my previous effort on You Tube, I've just posted another ad there too...

You can find it at:

Tadpole Heaven

We've had a busy weekend. In a moment of madness after Christmas when I was feeling fed up as my side of the family hadn't managed a get together, I decided that we should invite everyone over at Easter instead.

Now in normal families this is probably an immensely obvious and practical thing to do. But my family isn't your average sized family. In fact it is rather large. And between us we all have rather a lot of children. So planning a family meet is rather like a military operation.

However given that I am in the very fortunate position of getting on with everyone of my siblings AND their partners, and all the children adore their cousins, military operation notswithstanding meeting up is always a joyous pleasure (if a rather madly frantic one).

Luckily, Spouse and I have many years of experience of hosting large numbers as we have been putting on parties for his side of the family ever since we moved here.

Simplicity, I find is key.

We had to feed 12 grown ups and 15 children (there was a baby too but his parents provided for him), who were all arriving at different times. So we did a buffet lunch. Spouse decided he had to make waldorf salad which we've never done before, but that was the only complication. We ended up making far too much, so we'll be eating it all week...

For the evening I decided to do a roast for the grown ups. The children had been communicating via email and decided that they wanted a film evening with snacks. So no 1 promised she'd take charge of that and organised an incredibly healthy menu of pizza, hot dogs, beefburgers and popcorn. She did the popcorn, and half the pizza base but playing with her cousins was irresistible, so we, er did the rest...

Puddings I had (in best Blue Peter tradition) made earlier: raspberry fool, redcurrant cheesecake and apple tart. All I'm pleased to say made with fruit from the garden.

There was a lot of running about, and I didn't sit down all that much, but it was well worth it to spend a sunny afternoon sitting in the garden with my siblings.

And the children had a ball...

Most of the afternoon was spent picking out the tadpoles from the pond in buckets and counting them. We have 125 apparently. Well I use the word "have" advisedly. We probably had 125, but I'm not quite sure how many of them have survived their little holiday to the bottom of the garden in the wheelbarrow. And if they thought they were tadpoles, apparently, they were mistaken. Because in actual fact they were zoyburgs (I have no idea if I've spelt that right, or even what zoyburgs are, but no 1 assures me they're something to do with Futurama).

I have visions of these poor little tadpoles up in tadpole heaven saying to one another, Cor that was a big tsunami that got us, or how did you cop it? I fell off the edge of the earth, me...

The ones that are left are probably suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and will probably now start the savage process of eating one another (ain't Mother Nature a peach?) which is infinitely preferable to death by a thousand handlings.

Once the tadpoles had been mauled to death, as it was a sunny day the next thing to do (obviously) was to have a water fight. Everyone ended up completely soaked before deciding enough was enough and they went back to tadpole tormenting again. Apart from no 2 and her favourite (and spookily doppleganger like) cousin who set up a Down With School Campaign and went marching about with placards tied to barbie dolls' legs, which I found the next day planted in with my pansies. Which was clearly the right place for them...

The feeding of the five thousand took place (thankfully) in the garden, and I have never seen hotdogs disappear so fast. By now they were all whacked out enough to sit quietly through a film while the grown ups managed a civilized dinner.

The younger contingent didn't even put too much of a fight up when it came to bed...

Not everyone stayed the night, but we did put up five grown ups and ten extra children, somehow. I feel as though my home has just mutated into the tardis....

And we survived.

But somehow, I don't rate the tadpoles chances very high...

For my fabulous family. Thanks for a smashing day. Oh... and sorry about blogging about you...

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Ok Folks... It's Shameless Plug Time

It's nearly that time of year again.

The London Marathon is upon us, so it's time I started shamelessly plugging my book again.

So anyone out there reading this blog who hasn't yet bought it...

If so, why not????

It's time to make amends.

So go forth to Amazon, or Waterstones or wherever and get your copy now.

And find out all about how a serial non runner turned herself into a marathon mum...

Failing that you can at least enter my competition to tell me (if you're a runner) the strangest thing you've seen out running, and if you're not the strangest thing you've experienced when exercising. And if you don't exercise at all you can write me an essay on why reading my book: Running on Empty: Diary of a Marathon Mum has at least inspired you to think about it...

For the record strange things that have happened to me include: tripping over my toes in front of our local hospital and nearly getting run over by a nurse, getting lost on a mountain in Spain with a dog, getting lost on a hillside in England without a dog, and my favourite, getting locked out of Waterloo station in just my running gear five minutes before I was supposed to be somewhere else.

To enter the competition email me at: before 22 April (marathon day) and I'll send the winner a signed copy of the book plus FLM fleece.

Go on, you know it makes sense....