Mother’s Day

When you look closely at a word, it tends to seem more and more ridiculous the more you pay attention to it. “Mother” is  a fine specimen of this genre. It looks stupid. Maybe because it contains a flying insect. And maybe because the addition of “er” at the end of “moth” somehow changes the pronunciation of the O vowel. English is weird.

Of course, the purpose of this post wasn’t to criticise the English language, but to stop for a moment and pay a little tribute to my own mother. Here in England, yesterday was Mothering Sunday. But since we’re not religious any more, we know it as Mother’s Day. We haven’t yet got to “Mum’s Day”, and maybe we never will… perhaps it’s a step too far.

So we tried our best to make sure the day was as good as it could be. There were presents, and much celebration, and I baked a celebratory huge sodabread. It was gigantic. I never intended it to be so huge, but it was… and it was perfect. I tell you, there’s no finer way to start a Sunday than to come down to the smell of bread baking in the oven and fresh coffee being made in the coffee machine. We were able to treat my mum to that yesterday.

Sadly, though, there was a little disappointment, as I realised that the presents I bought for my mum were an extraordinary rip off. I was foolish to think that this was more than just a thin face cloth. Somehow I misread it and thought it actually smelled of strawberries too. I wouldn’t have bothered paying so much – I could have bought a pink flannel down the market for a fraction of the price. And then there was the box of pink hearts… I thought they’d be bigger than they were. The picture makes them look huge. Don’t be fooled.

So mother’s day cost me nearly £15, and there wasn’t a single decent present off me. I felt rather bad, so I think I’ll go and buy a bottle of wine or something to make it up. But not today, it’s too windy…

Anyway – so my mum got lots of nice presents (except mine) and lots of attention. She seemed pretty happy. She then went out for a meal with her mum while we sorted the house out. I did all the washing, lots of cleaning and even ironed the school uniforms for my brother and sister. She was very happy with that one.

I’m sometimes a bit too impatient with my mum. She’s a little slow at times… and it gets me frustrated. But I do love her. She’s kind and patient, warm-hearted and caring. And, to be frank, she’s gone through a lot of shit in the past 30 odd years bringing up her five children, and coping with the stress of becoming a grandmother at the age of 36 (courtesy of my elder sister). And, the thing is, it doesn’t seem to be getting any easier as the years go by.

That’s why I do my best to help out around here, because she needs it. I often wonder that if I moved out this house would go to rack and ruin. One day I will have to move out… it’s just too cramped here.

But for now, I will carry on honouring and loving my mother in the best way I can. Thanks for everything, Mum.

(Some) Christmas Cheer

My mood is still fairly somber as the continuing saga of the broken shin is still playing on my mind, but fortunately there have been plenty of distractions lately. 

First, the good news. The injured player was home for Christmas, and now it’s a matter of waiting for nature to take its course and let the bone heal. It never ceases to amaze me how things keep reminding me of the incident though. All over this house there are miscellaneous football related items: water bottles, corner flags, the chocolates that I didn’t give out due to last Sunday’s farce… even the other day when I went to use my stopwatch and realised it was still saying “15:30” – the time during the second half at which I stopped the clock.

So with the events still running through my head, I’ve not been all that in the mood to celebrate the usual family Christmas gathering. Nevertheless, it has been good fun. The presents I bought have been well received (although one didn’t turn up, thanks HMV) and I got some good stuff: some books I wanted, lots of chocolate, DVDs, albums, a little money. All going to a good cause. I feel like I don’t do enough reading… but I suspect the next few months will change that!

But better still have been the presents my brothers and sister have got. My sister got a Nintendo Wii for Christmas; the inevitable Wii Sports came bundled with it. That has already provided much joy, much hilarity and sore arm muscles. Good workout though.

And my brothers got Guitar Hero World Tour on the Xbox 360. Now, we’re already pretty good at Guitar Hero in this house, though it had fallen out of favour in recent months. My brothers are better than me, but then again, they would be given how much they played it. But now, at last, I have found something that I’m far superior to them at, and they will probably never catch me.

Guitar Hero World Tour comes with an electronic drum kit, if you spend enough money on it. I play the drums in real life, and the guitar too. The real guitar and the Guitar Hero guitar have no similarities, so the skills aren’t transferable. However, real drums and the Guitar Hero drums are very similar. The only thing missing is a pedal to open and close the hi-hat. 

The result: I was able to start drumming on it instantly, and at medium difficulty, and hopefully will be able to try out hard difficulty very soon if I keep the practice up. My brothers have not proved so adept. Co-ordination is not their strong point. 

This present has definitely been a hit. In fact, the whole family have been having a go. Lots of fun has ensued, and lots of swearing. It can be surprisingly annoying when you make a mistake after keeping your concentration for so long, thus ruining a perfect attempt up until that point…

But there is one catch to the Guitar Hero present. Yes, when we went to help the now famous injured player home from hospital on Wednesday, we went into their house for 10 minutes just to have a chat with all the family. There, underneath the tree, I spotted Guitar Hero World Tour. Then when the subject turned to Christmas presents, it soon became clear that this was a Christmas present for the player from his parents. Only… he now won’t be able to play the drums that come with it due to his injury. Argh!

So now every time I play on them I have to count my lucky stars, and once again feel sorrow, pain and a little guilt for the injured player.

Meanwhile, back at home, Christmas in general was a success. My grandparents even came round for dinner, the first time we’ve done that in a very long time, meaning my mum and dad cooked for 10 people. Incredible. I don’t know whether I’d be able to cope with that. Anyway, it was very good to see them, and good to share in this family occasion. And Christmas Day TV was pretty good… Doctor Who, Wallace & Gromit, The Royle Family… what more could you want?

Things are now beginning to wind down, but, in order to prevent depression, I think of “Christmas” as that period from Dec 24 to Jan 2 inclusive. We’re only half way through it, so there’s lots more good stuff to come. I hope.

Here’s to family.

A Fatty Record

On Friday, me and my brother went on an excursion into town to avail ourselves of the opportunity to buy Christmas presents.  This chance was a very, very rare window that would unlock the possibility of achieving something I’d been hoping to do for a very long time.

Eating alone in a restaurant or other food joint is never an enthusing prospect. It smacks of desperation and loneliness. With that prejudice in mind, I will never go into a place where you need to sit down to eat on my own. It is a communal activity, done not only for stomach-filling, but for social benefits. 

So, with my brother finishing school at midday, I sensed that it was going to be a very good day indeed. 

The key part of this equation is that when it comes to food my brother is as gluttonous as I am. Neither of us are fat, but we’re both fairly active individuals and apparently blessed with a fast metabolism. This generally means that we’re hungry dudes. Our eating capacity is almost unrivalled, as is the speed at which we can demolish most meals. One, two, three, gone. 

These factors all combined to produce a trip to Pizza Hut. But not just any old trip – a trip during the day to sample the delights of the all you can eat buffet lunch. Pizza only – a snip at just £5 per person.

And, by Jove, we were going to get our money’s worth. 

The great thing about it is that, for my brother, he’d actually never been to the Pizza Hut buffet lunch. So he was particularly impressed that it really was all you can eat. He wondered how they still make money on it, which had me delving deep into the businessy section of my brain to talk a lot about high volume negating the effects of low value, and the fact that producing the same five or six pizzas constantly would be much better value than people continuously asking for different things on an a la carte basis. 

Inbetween this cerebral analysis, we did stuff our faces, remembering not to talk with our mouths open. It was busy, and I expected that with it being so close to Christmas, but there was enough to go round.

More than enough, in fact. I think I went up to the buffet on at least six occasions, each time returning with more saturated fats than was found in Elvis Presley’s arteries at the time of his death. But I wasn’t going to be stopped. Or outdone. My brother’s appetite was certainly keeping up with mine… and he was eating the meaty pizzas too! (Me being a vegetarian, that wasn’t an option)

In total, I downed a personal best of 13 slices. Of course, it is hard to be certain if I actually did eat more than my previous record of 12 slices, because the slices vary in size. And, of course, there is less to an Italian stonebaked base pizza than there is to a deep pan version. But, I think the varying slices generally balance out – and after slice 13 I couldn’t take any more.

My brother gave up at about 11 – impressive considering he’s smaller than me. But it was a good day. We had a good time, we sorted most of our presents out, and got back home dying of thirst as the salty badness in the cheese began to take its toll.

Fortunately, for my health as well as my wallet, this is not an event I make a regular thing of. In fact, last time I did it was the year before at Christmas with friends from Uni. I think as a yearly treat it can’t be too coronary-inducing. I hope…

Mishmash

It’s been a bit of a nothingness over the past few days. After all the turbulence hinted at in my last post, since then very little seems to have happened. 

That, considering Christmas is around the corner, is a Bad Thing. I still have no idea what presents I’m going to get the members of my family, especially as everyone wants gifts that are too expensive for me. I normally spend an average of about £15 per person… meaning the whole shebang costs about £100 for me. 

This year everyone seems to want computer games or computer peripherals which generally cost small fortunes. Xbox 360 games in particular always cost loads of money. I sometimes con my brothers by buying a joint present as a 360 game, but that is never that well received because they are so hard to please. There aren’t many games that they both want… and I doubt it’s going to work that way this year.

But there was one bright spot last week. Though my self-employment ideas still rumble on, there’s no real reason for me to believe that I’m ready to go. I don’t have a toolkit for starters. And my website that I’ve made needs some photos to break up the text. Stuff for me to work on this week.

Anyway, the bright spot came from an unexpected phone call from my friend who occasionally sends me freelance work. It seems that he actually has something for me to do. Some paid work! Wow, I might actually get some money from somewhere. It’s writing some reviews of games, music and books for a website, so nothing too arduous… and I even get some free stuff out of it. Unfortunately most of it comes daubed with “Promotional Copy – Do Not Resell”… but maybe some of it will pass as a present.

In any event, it will be nice to get some cash. At least I’m going to be able to afford Christmas without spending my savings. Instead, the savings have finally made their way to a high interest fixed rate account, which seems sensible given the fact that by next year I’m likely to be getting absolutely no return on my money. No great loss really… nothing compared to what others are suffering during this recession anyway. Life goes on for me in much the same way as it’s always done, recession or no recession. No job, no prospects. Woo! 

I sit here at the moment next to the Christmas tree, which magically appeared over the weekend. My brother’s birthday was the other day too… it only seems five minutes ago since the last one. 2008 has absolutely flown by. Worse is the fact that this second half of the year, since I left university, has been a case of “busy doing nothing, working the whole day through” as my mum says. And yet the time has zoomed ever faster forward.

I’ve got to sort myself out very soon. But how many times have I said that now?