Monday, 8 October 2007

So Quiet

It's been just over a week now and nothing has filled the space that's remained, that small honey-shaped hole that's been growing since she left. My laundry isn't infiltrated by impossibly small and rainbow-coloured knickers; my fridge is no longer a repository for wheat-free snacks and sugar-free Red Bull; the kitchen doesn't vibrate to the boom 'n bass of Basement Jaxx and there is no fair and sweet-smelling head touching mine on the sofa as we swoon over Dr McDreamy on Gray's Anatomy.

My baby's gone to Uni.

Saturday, 22 September 2007

Generation Gap

Between the ages of fourteen and twenty I discovered that defunct state, The Generation Gap.

There was nothing my parents, particularly my father, said or did that I didn't jump on and trash in my sneering, holier-than-thou, perfectly accented English. More importantly, I was able, with alarming ease, to wind my father up to a sclerotic rage. My clothes, the music I listened to, the magazines I read, my espousal of Chinese communism and my devotion to Jane Fonda in her Hanoi Jane phase; all flipped his switch. I goaded him at every meal with tales of poor miners dying of pneumonoconiosis, of state-sponsored phone-tapping, of a brutal police force. You'd think we were living in Argentina instead of Stockport. In the meantime he continued to send his hard-earned money to my private, fee-paying school in an effort to transform me into an English young lady, as opposed to the foul-mouthed, aggressive little Balkan I so obviously was. I was a monster; it was a game. Everyone was playing it.

But eventually I left home, went to University, occupied the Dean's office for a few weeks and then got over myself. Throughout this period I never stopped loving my parents and was full of admiration for the good life they had managed to create for themselves and me, in exile, through hard work and talent. But they were my parents, out of touch with the 60s and 70s and so, well, old.

Fast-forward thirty odd years and here I am with my own clutch of teenagers and I find myself wondering what we could ever really argue about. Yes, OK, there's the bedroom situation (How do you know it's a bedroom, if you can't see the bed?); the staying out late fiascos ('I did get to the bus stop on time, but they moved it, honestly....the bus just never came.'); and the endless wheedling about money. But really we like and love each other and share similar views about everything. We listen to the same music, read the same books and I wear jeans just like them. And now my daughter, about to go off to Uni, has asked me to be her Facebook friend. And then one of her friends asked me too......I don't know whether to be secretly thrilled that I'm a mildly 'cool' mum or to feel concerned that I have never been on the receiving end of the appalling behaviour I so clearly deserve.

Saturday, 25 August 2007


I've been thinking a lot lately about lovely female friends of mine who have been on the receiving end of appalling behaviour by their male partners and the pain and anguish it causes. A few of them have made the big leap and left, absorbing the consequences such action can have on kids, living arrangements, finances etc. Hats off to you ladies....You know you've made the right decision.

But it also reminded me of my Dad who had his own unique remedy to this kind of behaviour. I preface this story with 2 points:

1. Not all Serbs are genocidal mass-murderers
2. Never cross a Serb

About 25 years ago I was engaged to a loathsome man, though of course, I didn't think so at the time. Five months before our supposed wedding, I found him in bed with a friend - I use that word advisedly. I kicked him out of my house and life, but discovered that the sense of betrayal was not so easily eradicated and after about 2 weeks I thought I was literally going to die of a broken heart. My Dad called and said, 'Come home for a while. We'll go shopping.' He was a man way ahead of his time. So we're standing at the make-up counter at Finnegans in Wilmslow (now WAG-land central) and I'm holding several bags of emotional retail therapy in my arms, when suddenly Dad looks at me and says (in a heavy Eastern European accent),

'We could finish him for good.'
'What?' I say
'I could fix it.'
'That bastard. Nobody does this to my daughter. We could make it difficult for him to walk again. I know people.'

My bottom jaw has dropped slightly and I'm eyeing the permatanned Barbie doll across the counter to check out how much of this she's heard. My Dad has offered to off my fiance, temporarily or permanently, depending on how I feel. For a nanosecond I'm tempted, but then the reality of what he's suggesting and where we are having this conversation hits me and that's when I start to laugh and gasp until the tears are sliding down my cheeks.

'Bloody hell, Dad, this isn't the Godfather. He's not worth it.'

Dad just looks at me and smiles.

Of course, I couldn't resist telling all our mutual friends and eventually the story got round to the loathsome one who I was told spent several years looking over his shoulder when he walked down London streets at night, all alone. The betrayal was awful, oooh but the revenge was sweet and lasted so much longer.

Monday, 20 August 2007

Thanks to Carenza

Who nominated me for a Creative Blogger Award. And who also has the perfect romantic heroine's name: Carenza Hayhoe. If Georgette Heyer was still alive....

Displacement Activities

Well there are hundreds of them, aren't there? And I have participated in several over the last week.....Club Penguin, which I still love, though am getting a teensy bit bored with. I'm especially heartened by the fact the site has been bought for gazillions of dollars by Disney, who think they are buying into something used by the world's 6 year olds, when in fact it's bored/blocked/unemployed/would-be writers aged 40+ who play in there all day. Suckers....

I've also sneaked in a birthday, but I'm beginning to realise that with each passing year, this is less a source of joy and more a day of bone-shaking terror at how quickly the last year went by and why I'm getting fewer presents each time. Come on family, shape up; a woman's never too old for presents, OK?

Have I written anything this week? No. I have a plot for a romantic novel, but as I don't read them, nor do I particularly want to write them, I'm stuck. But maybe this is a way to get me back into daily writing....

The other thing I've been thinking about in the last week is walking round the coast of GB for charity....I have this urge to do something out of character and believe me, walking for pleasure is one such thing.

Monday, 13 August 2007

Trying Again

The Balkan view of life clearly offended the Blog powers that be and I've been unable to post on Bad Things Happen and being unable to communicate with anyone at Blog HQ (is it peopled by humans d'you think?) I'm trying again. So welcome to Day Job, written by Moi as opposed to my alter ego Olana Beck. She'll be back.....

I'm jumping for joy for my friend Meg Rosoff (shamelessly name-dropping) who had a fantastic review for her new book What I Was in yesterday's Sunday Times Culture mag. It ended with the immortal words, 'It's already a classic.' So way to go Meg and let's hope some of your good fortune rubs off on me, though that will be a miracle as I'm still plotting Book the First, as opposed to writing Book the Fourth.

Other good news is that Teen 2 arrived back from Bolivia yesterday with nothing worse than explosive dysentery and bad hair braids. Result!