Attempting to make it as a writer

Posts tagged ‘chips’

Student Digs

I didn’t go to university when I left school.  Once I was out and had a say  I fought all forms of educational establishment and set out on my own pioneering journey of discovery……          That does not mean I have closed that chapter.   My university place is waiting , waiting for me to be ready to take it up.    The difference now 35 years later on; is I actually know what I want to study, how it will shape my life and why I wish to put myself back into the arena of formal learning having fought so hard to get out of it.  Unfortunately my grant for life is no longer valid and I will end up funding it myself.  One of many procrastinating reasons I now delay the start.

I have recently made another discovery, one does not have to move away from home and onto campus to live in student digs.  My home, once the hub of rugby playing teenagers, bmx bikes and sporting  injuries now seems full of hungover bodies who appear briefly as they pass dreamlike through the house and then wave goodbye.

I left home young and spent several years renting before making my move to London.  It was not unusual in those days to find my flat or house filled with friends making the most of the chance to escape their parents and misbehave.  Many a quiet night was interrupted with a distressed friend having left home or not wanting to return home until the signs of drink, drugs or sex had worn off.

Life may have moved on but more and more I find myself waking these days only to come face to face with teenagers have never met before.  Boys, girls, youngsters! I came down to pair of high heeled shoes this morning.  Certain that I would never get away with wearing a pair like that much as I might want to I was also certain none of my boys had taken up wearing high heels.   Although Sexy Sporty Dad might have had a moment of “that’s my boy” we waited till the story was revealed.Student Digs

In time No 1 Son appeared sheepishly more the worse for drink than the embarrassment of a young lady in toe.   Discussion revealed that a misunderstanding in the early hours of the morning had left the girl stranded with nowhere to stay.   When No 1 Son offered her “no strings attached shelter and warmth” she had agreed,thoughtfully removing her heels as she went upstairs past our room.  Although Sexy Sporty Dad and No 1 Son may have had a flicker of disappointment I was delighted the girl was safe and comfortable enough to come and take up the offer of a bed.  I reassured her she was welcome any time.

This followed closely on the heels of arriving down stairs last weekend to the dining table covered with bottles mainly empty of wine, beer and vodka.  Glasses galore scattered round the room some knocked over, some partly full lying beside the packets of cold congealed chips that had been bought and never finished.   We had been disturbed in the night and the  noise downstairs reassured us our children were safely home. Unprepared to clear the mess I put the kettle on.

A noise made me take the very brave step of quietly knocking and entering the lair of No 1 Son only to be met with him lying face down on the floor in front of the door.  Well at least he was home.   I whispered that it might have been better to sleep in the bed.  The body slowly rose and looked up at me.  Someone else’s face said “the bed is full” as he collapsed back into the carpet.

Peering gingerly, I looked round the corner of the room to where the bed hides and discovered the bed was indeed full.  No 1 Son plus one other top and tailed on top of the bed where they had managed to fall.  The single bed protesting at each movement.   I made a hasty retreat straight into the path of an unknown girl headed for the bathroom.

A glance into Middle Son’s closing door from where she had appeared, revealed the floor no longer covered in the inevitable discarded clothing, but a mass of bodies.  Girls snuggled together in one corner, boys in the other,  Middle Son safely tucked up in his bed.

Retreating to my own room with a large cup of tea and the Sunday papers,  I emerged some while later to a near empty house.  Not a bottle in sight unless you lifted the bin on the glass recycling box.

Bumping into a girl sneaking in or out of the bedrooms has ceased to be a contentious issue as most of the time it heralds several other girls and boys also draped over the floor.  I don’t want my children to move on and it is wonderful that the children’s friends feel as at home here as anywhere, but sometimes it would be nice to have teenage warning.

Maybe things haven’t moved on as far as I thought and my home is still a haven for waifs, strays and needy people.








Dining Out on the Past

It was such a rare event.  In fact I cannot remember when the last time was.  With the latest news coming from the media; about children staying at home till they are 35, I am not sure there ever will be another.

Having deposited our children at various venues; Mini Son on cub camp, Middle Son to a birthday BBQ and No 1 Son out with friends, Sexy Sporty Dad and I were unusually left with no children on a Saturday night.  The week had been the usual cocktail of stress, emotion and effort and this new concept of chillaxing was completely alien to me.

We decided to dine out.   The thinking behind the suggestion definitely came from me in that flash moment of realisation that I didn’t have to cook for the children so why should I cook at all.   With only two of us, a pub meal would not be quite as financially draining as when we have three hungry boys baying for more.

We are really very lucky where we live as we are surrounded by great pubs, takeaways and restaurants; so where to go?  The decision to go out had not been rashly taken; I had realised this during the week, so had been pondering for a while.  Were we going up-market, or pub grub?  Did we want to go international with Indian, Italian or Chinese?  Would we need to organise a taxi home or go close enough to walk?

There is always my favourite restaurant the Fontmell where I know I would get a wonderful welcome and fabulous food.  We would need to drive there and those boys of mine might want to return home. Dreaming of the food I could see it all now; we would be just taking the first succulent taste of pan fried sole or the popular fontmell fish pie and the phone would go “can I have a lift”.  Torn between the parmesan crust or chauffeuring the children, I suspect I would do one but wish the other.

It needed to be closer to home.

We opted for not going Chinese or Indian as we have a regular family date at the end of term with two families where we celebrate surviving to the end.    I dug out my old list of all the pubs I wanted to visit.  Frighteningly the list of those still to visit is quite long, but here was the opportunity to knock one from it.

Individually we went through each one, ticking off their individual merits, there was always a but!  What happened to the spur of the moment, try and see attitude I had in my teens?

Finally we opted for the one at the end of the road where No 1 Son was visiting.  This ticked most boxes and had just been taken over so the new owners could wow us with their culinary capabilities.  It also meant that we could provide the lift home easily without interrupting our meal.

We arrived in baking sunshine and ordered our meals.  We took drinks down to the garden to enjoy the last beautiful rays of the sun setting over the town.  No 1 Son arrived very smartly not wanting a meal but a drink was quickly accepted.   The little beer garden tucked at the back of the car park was laid out with various tables, a group of people around a table to the side.  We sat quietly down in the opposite corner and relaxed with our drinks.

The sun was still hot and the evening breeze played with the wisps of out of place hair.  Cool refreshing ginger beer revitalised the sagging spirits as we recalled life before children when this was a more common occurrence.    No 1 Son texting and waving to the house behind where his friend Stuart was hanging out of the window.   The two dogs from the other group played and chased each other round the beer garden.

As we watched; the two dogs careered round and round the garden laughed at by their owners. One was the reincarnated “Bullseye” from the film “Oliver” and the other very similar but with different colourings and an added “hienz” variety giving him more speed. I was amazed at the speed they both had, after all “Bullseye” never gave the impression of any real agility.  They raced oblivious into one of the spare tables and carried on without even stopping.   They raced under our table and over my feet not even realising we were there; the owners still laughing did not stop them or apologise to us. One crashed over No 1 Son’s bag, from which luckily he had removed his camera and was trying to show us pictures he had taken that day.  The owners having topped their pints up laughed louder and said nothing.

We moved.

We found a seat in the small outside patio near the front door of the ivy clad Dolphin pub and let the staff know where to bring our meal.  Stuart arrived and joined us.   The two of them disappeared inside to buy themselves drinks, a sign that they were really growing up.  The food arrived; good old comfort food scampi and chips.

The sun was going down but still cast a warm blanket over the gardens.  There was little noise despite being next to the road and the food was delicious.  A huge portion which really I should not have finished but I found myself unable to leave a morsel.  I thought of all the old stories I used on the children: don’t waste it – I’ve paid good money for that; think of all the starving children in Africa who don’t get anything to eat;  you can only have one item on your plate you don’t like – so eat all the rest..

My little Notty – rebuilt with baked bean cans and tights!

I, unlike the children couldn’t find anything not to like and was enjoying every mouthful.  I managed to leave my plate spotless just as Stuart’s Dad James joined us.  Another round of drinks ordered as we told the boys of Datsun Cherries, do you remember them and how many people would fit in them.  We laughed about exploding car exhausts which had made the two boys hit the decks thinking they were being shot at earlier in the day.  Don’t you remember when an exploding car exhaust was a common occurrence, now it seems more likely to be a gunshot?  Driving round with a baked bean can on the end of the exhaust because there was a hole in it.   Keeping a spare pair of tights in your handbag; not because you might lose the ones you were wearing but in case the fan belt went; which in the case of my first little car Notty, a fiat 850 was a regular event.  Life has moved on.

In answer the boys told us they had decided to go on a “protein only” diet and were looking for inspiration.   Their breakfast consisted of bacon in a butty; not sure about the protein in processed bread, and they were definitely not convinced that this should be an occasional treat rather than everyday ritual.  They were happy to be eating dry roasted peanuts to fill the need and could not be persuaded otherwise, baked beans were too healthy, lentils or any pulses not acceptable at all.  Sexy Sport Dad appeared from inside the pub with a raw egg in a glass to tell tales of bravery and nutrition.  The peanuts disappeared and the egg stayed firmly in the glass.  The glass moved round the table stopping periodically in front of each person before the thought more than the sight of it caused it to be moved on.

We arrived home not long after Middle Son; who had settled himself down with a hot chocolate to watch a late night film.  Mini Son returned the next day exhausted having had little sleep but lots of fun from his camping trip.  My family all safe and back home but I had cut another string of motherhood a little more by letting all three out of my sight without babysitter for the whole evening.

This week I have managed to find a little inspiration and have written my first draft of the evil story.  It is not easy to get inside someone else’s mind if you really cannot understand what makes them like that.   So a little more work required I think.  My magazine is now out in the public domain.  A few hiccoughs but hopefully none that cannot be sorted next time.


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