Friday 9 December 2011

Angelina & Mini-Me go to see Swan Lake in Watford

A moonlit night in Watford...

Resplendent in her favourite smart dress which raises its skirt like a tutu when she twirls and JUST fits her (this may have been its last outing) 9-year-old Mini-Me was hopping around with excitement in the lobby of the theatre in anticipation of her first live and non televisual ballet-watching experience: Swan Lake in Watford. One might have thought she would be put off since she was actually told she was unsuitable for Ballet by Miss Julie, her teacher of a few years ago when she was just 5. But excited she was (-even though it was nearing bedtime). 

"They look like dolls!" whispered Mini-Me in my ear as the curtains went back to reveal the troup of sinuous- limbed dancers from the Russian State Ballet of Siberia in pretty costumes, indeed. Their tippie-toes tickled the stage, and charming as it was to someone who has only been to the ballet once in her life (albeit at L'Opera in Paris and totally, enthrallingly breathtaking in a way that was impossible at
Watford Colosseum)  I couldn't resist staring instead at Mini-Me's delighted face as she witnessed this perfectly gratifying introduction herself. Some 25 lithe dancers attempted to captivate us with their pretty pirouettes, gravity-defying leaps, and dreamy pas de deux, however I couldn't help but feel that their style was somewhat cramped by the size of the stage and slight out of sync-ness of their collective moves. But actually, what do I know? Not a lot, as it happens.

Thankfully, we had quickly
googled the plot beforehand so we sort of knew what was happening. Classic case of mistaken identity with Prince Siegfried accidentally promising his heart to Odile the wrong swan, condemning Odette, his true love to possible lifelong misery and/ or suicide. It probably would have been a good idea to purchase the programme but being the tightwad single-income single-parent that I am, the gist was good enough. Apparently, Swan Lake has alternative endings depending on who is presenting it and we speculated what would be in store at the end of this production

SPOILER ALERT Well, it ended with the Prince Siegfried and his nemesis the Evil Sorcerer both drowning in the lake during their ensuing fight. Leaving Odette to pick up the feathers and carry on swanning around without him. How sadly familiar, these days. We exited the theatre into a vibrant-blue, full-moon-lit sky that was an eerie and magical echo of the lake scene backdrop.

We came home and Mini sat in the kitchen warming her hands around a cup of milk while I loaded the dishwasher.

"Thank you for taking me to see Swan Lake, Mummy."

"You are very welcome. There's no one I would rather have gone with."

"It's a shame the Prince made a mistake, Mummy"

"He was a bit of an idiot really, wasn't he?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well, he should have known that whatserface wasn't his true love; he shouldn't have just promised his heart away like that. I mean, really! Some men can be quite stupid... Were you hoping for a happy ending, darling?"

Mini-Me nodded sleepily.

"Me too." I sighed, closing the door of the dishwasher and pressing ON.


Incidentally, while googling "pas de deux" to make sure I vaguely made sense I happened upon this totally awesome video on youtube. Made my insides go funny, but watch it. It's amazing - especially if you forward to about 3 and a half minutes in, (if you don't have time or patience to watch the whole thing).

Wednesday 7 December 2011

Angelina & Mini-Me do Disney - Families NW Nov Dec 20111

My edited version of this article appeared in Families NW Magazine in November December 2011
Angelina and Mini-Me do Disney.

“Shut up, legs! Behave yourselves! I know you are aching but this is DISNEYLAND!!”

This was merely the first rung of Mini-Me's advance up the ladder of self-parenting, propped as it was, against a crumbling wall of mothering built by me.

Somehow, Mini-Me and her edge-teetering mother had made it to the hallowed grounds of casa Mickey Mouse. In a world where one could conceivably change the name of this column from “Mummy on the Edge” to “The Next Set of Stupid Things She's Done” this was quite an achievement. For a start, I used Tesco Clubcard Vouchers converted to Airmiles on special discount offer to purchase the Eurostar tickets. I spent an inordinate amount of time checking out all the offers advertised on the website and on the telly. The best advice offered was that “the fun starts the minute you tell them”. In that case, do we actually need to go, I wondered.

After further research, it quickly became apparent that staying at a Disney hotel would end up costing me an arm and a leg (and about half a kidney). So instead, using a cashback website, I located a clean, newly built budget hotel just one stop away from the Disney RER (rail station) and right next door to a HUGE shopping mall housing a LARGE Auchan supermarket where we stocked up on grapes, poulet-thyme and bolognaise flavoured crisps, and other snackettes for me to secrete in my backpack; Mini-Me dragged me (practically screaming) away from the lingerie sale rail which featured bras by good French brands like Aubade and Chantelle (not that I still deeply regret not buying lovely French underwear at remarkably low prices).

I had booked the Disneyland tickets online using a 4 days for the price of 3 offer. Four days seems like an awfully long time for one to torture oneself for the sake of the happiness of one's child/ren but I had this ridiculous idea was that I would try very, very hard not to bark HURRY UP!! all the time, as I do at home. This was a gift to my lovely princess Mini-Me (which would hopefully include this Christmas and maybe her January birthday, if I could manage to milk it for that long), so if she wanted to stand still for 20 minutes outside the toilets, admiring some minor Disney wall frieze detail, while ride queues lengthened from 2 miles to 4 miles and summer turned to autumn, she could do so with neither threat nor sarcasm from her mother. I would not chevy her along in order to do things in a more time efficient manner. And if we decided that enough was enough and we didn't really need the last day, no problem. We could instead go back to Auchan and spend the morning foraging for pretty bras in a 32D! In any case, a lovely Oyster lunch was definitely on the cards while waiting for our train to go home from Gare Du Nord. [except I got the time of the return Eurostar wrong and we had to leg it from Disney to Gare Du Nord]

We dropped off our luggage at the hotel and got to Disneyland at about 5ish. It closed very late so we had plenty of time to wander around a bit and then catch the first parade. Mini-Me found a spot behind a tall lamp post, next to a tall girl. Her head peeping round from behind the lampost, Mini-Me's eyes were wide with glee when the characters made their way around the circular road in front of our patch of pavement and I swallowed a sob, just observing the wonderment on her face. Then in pigeon French I asked the tall girl if Mini-Me could please stand in front of her. She looked at me as if I was mad and said “Non!” Indignant, I continued in my terrible, wrong French that belied my grade “B” A level: “Please miss. You are very, very fat and she is very, very tiny!” Again, (somewhat offended) “Non!” Mini-Me was happy enough and quite embarrassed of me. But I finally lost it and in one deft, two-handed movement I shoved the tall, mean girl to the left and slotted Mini-me in and said “Thank you! You are very very beautiful!”

We weren't going to make another mistake later on for the weirdly named Fantillusion light-up parade. We found a seat on the pavement about forty minutes before it was due to start. By that time our legs were aching badly enough for our bottoms to find the cold, hard ground exeedingly comfy. We sat, while crowds swarmed around us. And sat. And sat. Mini-Me yawned. We played I-Spy. We shivered. We breathed in third party cigarette smoke from the mummy of miscellaneous nationality sat beside us with her son who was absolutely beside himself with fatigue-induced delirium. It was about 10pm and he desperately wanted to go to bed. But he was going to enjoy Fantillusion (whether he fanted to or not). There is so much more to tell you that won't fit within the confines of this space. Please visit my blog to learn more about weird European haircuts, disgusting Disney food, queueing to meet characters and how I tortured Mini-Me by making her go on the Tower of Terror! (But don't visit the blog if you work for Social Services...) Happy Holidays!

Goofy had an attitude problem.

Mini-Me peeking trying to get a peek of the parade.

What my castle will look like after I've sold the rights to my life story.

Me posing in un-purchased Mini-Mouse Ears with the price and security tags still attached: Mini-Me, do you think we should buy these ears? They will only lie around the house making it a mess won't they? The joy of the ears will be spent once we get the home as will the 18 euros (can't actually remember the price) they cost. What do you think? Shall I buy them????
Mini-Me: No, Mummy. You are right, don't buy them.

This is self-explanatory.

This and below are inspiration for how I'm going to decorate my new house, once I've bought one.

Here I go again

This post is dedicated to inspirational Becky and Judy; day-brighteningly gorgeous Anita Lake-Benson; lovely, lovely Nathaniel's mummy on Thursdays and these two very well turned out mummies I met at Beautiful Sonal's Shriya's 1st birthday party.

Here I go again. Idly making commitments that I will only break but need to make to drag me from the bleakness and ensure I live my authentic life [inspired by awe-inducing Oprah (- living authenticallly, not having her life, obviously)]
I hereby commit to writing a post at least every two weeks (and trying for every week but I can't possibly write that, can I? Becky does it every day!) There. That feels gooood. And this counts as one. But what good is a blog that mostly navigates the routes of my brain that cause me to not be cussed  to write in it? Does this make it a) introspective and not a little boring or b) apparent that the writer is up her own cuss.  [(I'm borrowing from Handsome Clooney's Mr Fox here because I haven't given enough thought to the morality of swearing, like in real life, on a blog which I promote in a magazine called Families and eventually to my mummies who come to my wholesome classes with their babies (but this blog is nothing to do with that - this is the dark side, obviously). Like: should I plonk the words "sex porn" in the introduction in order for parental filters to shield the blog from little eyes - namely Mini-Me's?)]

In the last issue of Families NW Magazine they published my piece about taking Mini-Me to Disneyland Paris. I'm so crap that I haven't even put that on here yet. It was the November/ December issue. It is now December.  And I'm even crapper because at the end of it, I said something like "Hey, I have so much more to tell you but there's no space here, so check out my blog [I'm such a hepcat I have my own blog which looks like cuss by the way coz it's got hardly any pictures because I can't remember how to put them on.] and you'll hear all about bad European haircuts, queue jumping, French bras and the Tower of Terror and disgusting food.

And actually I had got to thinking: Well 'snot so bad, see. It's alright that no one really reads the blog, because then they won't see that I'm full of cuss and at at the same time so cool that even making a promise in print in an actual MAGAZINE will not make me get off my cuss and DO SOMETHING.

But then lovely Anita Lake-Benson actually asked me about the blog so she could go online and read what I had written about Disneyland Paris. She cared enough to read it! Even though I had not (and still have not) written it! And was suitably outraged when I told her so. And strangely, I was deeply moved and heartened by her blessed outrage. And Nathaniel's mummy also mentioned that she had enjoyed my Families article and gone online and ACTUALLY READ the blog and quoted back something that had made her laugh.

It is always really flattering when someone tells me they have read my articles. It's mostly people I teach, to be fair, because I actually distribute the magazine in my classes. So it's possible that they are being polite and massaging my ego because they know me well enough not to want to induce a mental breakdown in a class that they have paid for (it states quite clearly on my Ts&Cs that I don't give refunds). But on this occasion that I'm going to tell you about, I met two people I had never met and who didn't know me at all. I was performing my special talent that I'm not going to promote within this blog because it has nothing to do with it at Beautiful Sonal's Shriya's 1st birthday party and two mummies asked me where I teach and my name. And when I told them they said, "Oh you're not the Angelina that writes Mummy on the Edge are you?! We ALWAYS  read you; you're really, really, really funny" (I'm paraphrasing - this was back in Spring/ Summer so maybe it wasn't so many "really"s) And I threw my head back and said "YES, YES, YES I AM - the very same Angelina!"

Carrie Bradshaw eat your cussin' heart out.