My salad dressing days


Never did need any money
June 30, 2006, 9:12 pm
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Everything was milk and honey…

[‘Oh, what a good thing we had’ by Johnny Cash. Best enjoyed as a duet with June Carter Cash on this CD.]



It’s all very The Good Life
June 27, 2006, 9:05 pm
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Yes, the inevitable has happened. We’ve quit the big city (for a smaller, but equally culturally well-endowed one – in another country) amidst all the usual mutterings of ‘appalling pollution levels, bad schools, water shortages, expensive haircuts’. C’mon: you’ve seen people like us on Relocation Relocation Relocation Relocation Relocation (Revisited).

Phil nods sympathetically, whilst clenching his fists to show off his pectoral muscles, and Kirstie puckers her lips knowingly as the cameraman flashes the viewers a shot of her blood red Jimmy Choos.

There is a some footage of Mr Chick and I dashing around central London like mad things, over which Kirstie sets out our plight and then some more footage of us gambolling down a leafy Edinburgh street, chicklets in tow, as Phil whispers conspiratorially to the camera how he’s found ‘just the place for these stressed-out Londoners’.

Cut to us being interviewed sitting in Jenners tearoom, as the winter sun glints off Kirstie raven locks. We say we’d like to be ‘inleafysuburbiabutclosetosomeamenities’ and ‘inthecatchmentareaforagoodstateprimary’ with ‘morespaceabiggardenaswewantogrowourownvegetables’ .

Phil and Kirstie nod and starting tapping numbers into their Nokia PDAs.

[Meantimes, the viewers roll their eyes and say ‘yeah, yeah – same ole, same ole…when’s Wife Swap on?’]

So, yes. Truth be known, we’ve come over a bit Tom and Barbara this past fortnight. Slipping into the stereotype of recently-emigrated-Londoner proved just too irresistible.

If we’re not lopping rhubarb, stewing it and making homemade tarts, we’re transplanting our seedlings (courgette, tomato, squash, cucumber, rocket, coriander) or line-drying our washing.

Dashed smug and irritating, that’s what we are.

(Home-grown Romaine lettuce anyone?)



To which there is no right answer
June 23, 2006, 11:29 am
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“Do you think I look better with make-up on?”

(Poor Mr Chick.)



Devalued currency
June 22, 2006, 3:06 pm
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No, not Sterling or the Euro or the US Dollar, but the Prefix.

And specifically the following prefixes: special, biggirls and bigboys.

They had worked wonders for us for so long.

‘Don’t want to go for walk!’

‘But Daddy wants to take you out in the special buggy!’

[The sound of TS and TD scrambling towards the front door and the creak of satisfied grins breaking out on parental faces.]

‘No eat breakfast!’

‘What about if Mummy gives you your cereal in a biggirlsbowl?’

[Half a super-sized pack of Cheerios disappears in the space of seven minutes.]

But the important thing to remember with prefixes, as with so many things in life, is to avoid over-use which might lead to their devaluation.

We have at least half a dozen ‘special’ creams in the house: the one which helps make grazed knees feel better, the one which Mummy inexplicably slathers all over her translucent skin so that it may glow , the one which Daddy rubs into his walking boots so that they repel water etc. And we wouldn’t want an accident. Mummy does not want to wake up to find TS or TD slathering Brasso on her lower legs.



Getting reacquainted with the mother tongue
June 20, 2006, 8:50 pm
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It’s funny the things you forget.

I had plain forgotten some of the linguistic nuances that are to be found in the motherland. Things like:

‘Whereabouts do you stay?’
Rough translation: ‘Where do you live (permanently)?’

‘Dinnae fash!’
Rough translation: ‘Don’t get yourself in a bother!’
[OK, I’ll admit that no-one I know says either phrase, but some people I’ve overheard in shops do.]

And then I was in a charity shop yesterday when I overheard a group of elderly women talking about an absent friend.

‘See Cathy that used to work here? Took a cyst in the leg, so she did.’

Important linguistic rule for elderly Edinburgers when discussing illness: ailments and diseases are ‘taken’. My grandmother was forever telling me that ‘wee Jessie took a heart attack’ or ‘Alfie took cancer of the bowel’. (This sort of phrase was usually whispered and accompanied by much head shaking and sucking of dentures.)

However, she failed to be persuaded by Motherhen that the treatment one of her friends was receiving for cancer was ‘CHEMOtherapy’ and not ‘CREAMOtherapy’. Although that may have been a linguistic quirk unique to her and/or based on her penchant for chocolate eclairs from Jenners.

But my favourite thing as a kid was listening to the Gaelic programmes on TV. What entertained my sisters and me greatly was that very often you’d find a random English word (such as ‘mortgage’ or ‘coffee’) plonked smack bang in the middle of sentence of melodic Gaelic.

Anyhoo, as you might expect, I’m working on some key phrases, which I thought I would share with you:

Tha mi ag iarraidh aran-coirce.
[I want some oatcakes.]
Because oatcakes are delicious.

Tha caoraich ann.
[There are sheep.]
Fact.

A bheil am plèana seo a’ sol gu Steòrbabgahg?
[Is this plane going to Stornoway?]
You’d be surprised how often one is called upon to say this.

And, of course, everyone says ‘och aye the noo’.



Inspired parenting solutions from the police
June 20, 2006, 2:53 pm
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When it comes to finding creative solutions to persistent parenting problems, one must cast one’s net wide. And who better to look to for inspiration than our law enforcement agencies?

Inspired by the Metropolitan Police’s recent knife amnesty, we decided to use similar tactics to deal with that most pernicious of problems: daytime dummy-sucking.

Yes, it’s Day Two of our Daytime Dummy Amnesty.

With the grandparents threatening to apply to the council for an ASBO, we have instituted a regime whereby TS and TD are asked to surrender their dummies before leaving their bedroom after waking up in the morning and after their midday nap.

A dedicated dummy pot (complete with difficult-to-prise-open lid) has been placed by the bedroom door for this purpose.

We are pleased to report that there has been an immediate cessation of daytime dummy-sucking, with decreasing frequency of dummy requests during the day.

It is for this reason that we are asking people to put to one side Sir Iain Blair’s terrorism-related blunders and consider how his more inspired policing solutions might be successfully applied in other areas of life.



A monstrous carbuncle
June 19, 2006, 9:20 pm
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Since returning to the motherland, I have developed the most stupendous multi-headed whitehead on my chin.

I have a few theories as to the meaning of its existence:

1. These are the last of the London-induced toxins being expelled from my body, as my pores suck in clean air for the first time in a decade.

2. The God in whom I do not believe is playing some abominable trick: leave the motherland as a teenager, return in teenage form ye will. Bring forth your biggest whiteheads and blue mascara…

3. Having spent hours sitting with my legs on the dashboard of the car on the drive up north, I have unwittingly diverted the circulation which previously supplied my left leg to the lower reaches of my face, thereby stimulating an over-production of luminous pus.

And I just know that no amount of applying Vrai Bordeaux lipstick is diverting attention from the monstrous carbuncle. If anything I suspect it is simply drawing people’s eyes to the site (‘ooh, UC’s wearing lipstick! Lordy! and check out that SPOT’).

Of course I’ve squeezed it. But not before time. Not before it had amassed quantities of fluids which would keep hosepipes in the more populated parts of Hampshire filled for the remainder of the summer.

But it’s one of those spots which simply regroups within minutes of attack, refilling with fresh pus and blood which slowly rise to the encrusted surface.

This is not the face I want to wear as I discover on my first trip to the doctor’s surgery that my GP is an old schoolmate. (So, I moved away sixteen years ago, and it turns out that since then people I know have grown up and gotten sensible jobs and become my family doctor. Hoodathunkit?)

‘kay. Gotta go squeeze some more…