Tuesday, 13 March 2007

Angelina Melwani on cheap, yummy food and spy training.

So it’s the Chinese Year of the Pig and I’m sure we all know at least one person who should be flattered. It’s that time of year when Mini-Me is dragged to Oriental City in Colindale to watch dancing dragons spitting cabbages. I’m hoping this time she won’t keep her hands over her ears for the entire performance. I was utterly devastated when I found out that this fantastic shopping mall may be demolished in favour of redevelopment to include a new B&Q; do we really need another? Mine was one of 5,000 letters of protest handed to Mayor Ken last month; I mean, where else can I get a fantastic shoulder massage plus a full meal for under a tenner? Mini-Me and I can frequently be found salivating over the colourful menu boards of the food court where you’ll find an array of dim sum generously portioned for around £2.50 or a full Thai meal for about a fiver. Not to mention huge, steaming bowls of noodle soup, Sushi, Vietnamese, Chinese and other cuisines, all fast, fresh and delicious. If you’ve never been there, you really should. There is always some festival on at the weekend and plenty of shops to mooch around including a great supermarket selling all kinds of wonderful oriental supplies; from dried fish to tamarind juice in a can. I’m not going to mention the Segadrome. Definitely worth a rainy afternoon’s visit or a guilt-free lunch with some mum-friends before it’s time to pick the kids up.

Mini-Me has learnt to read. Not everything (she’s just turned 5, for goodness sake!) but more than I expected. It’s the most delightful, satisfying thing and now there is no stopping her. Cereal boxes, wine bottles, road signs, private e-mail and texts, my tax return; it seems that books about Digger the Dog will no longer quench her thirst for literature and now everything in our house and out is fair game. I’m not complaining, I knew it was coming, and encouraged it as we are all supposed to do right from those days when she would bring home a list of letters of the week to practice from nursery. It’s just that soon, spelling letters out in conversation with other grown ups so that little miss floppy-ears doesn’t understand isn’t going to work. I’m going to have to resort to my appalling Franglais, and then no one will understand me at all!

Do check out this website: activityvillage.co.uk. It is a hugely useful parent’s resource packed with printables and links to keep the kids busy at home. Amongst the recipes and origami patterns, I found a really useful poster for Mini-Me to distinguish the sounds of b and d which can be confusing to budding industrial espionage experts.

[This further section was editied due to it's apparant unsuitability for the magazine:
Angelina Melwani on personal devastation (on a small scale).
I removed my glasses and dared to stare into the mirror, contemplating what minimum effort I could expend to make myself look vaguely presentable, when I saw Ugly Betty squinting back at me defiantly. I recoiled in horror and booked myself a long overdue hair appointment. I don’t know about you, but I have the kind of personality that surrenders to authority far too easily. Be it doctors, lawyers, or bus conductors, I just assume that experts know their job better than I do and in their mere presence, a wave of misplaced trust turns me into a jelly-brained idiot.

So, waving a picture of GMTV’s superbly coiffed Fiona Phillips torn out from Hello! Magazine, I surrendered to Malco-Scissorhands completely and utterly, as he snipped, feathered and haphazardly ran his tool down shafts of great bunches of my hair, pausing only to snigger derisively at my request for flicks (“You mean, Farah Fawcett, ha ha. No no no.”). I left the salon sporting a sleek, shiny, helmet-like shoulder length layered bob which I just knew I could never re-create at home. Three days later having washed and dried it myself, I look like an extra from Girl Interrupted and am walking round with a hairband surgically attached to my head. Having heard me say it once too often, five year old Mini-Me is now proudly telling everyone who’ll listen, “My mummy went to the hairdresser and now she looks dreadful”.]

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