Endings…

I started this blog almost three years ago primarily as a way of working through the grief of losing my mum. Writing about her made me laugh again because she was hilarious – she just didn’t know it. Hopefully, I did justice to her personality in my writing…

Mummy Shambles has also seen me through the anxious months of my son’s assessment and subsequent diagnosis of autism.

It’s been a welcome distraction to me during the many hours of insomnia and anxiety. I found that TV was exceptionally shite at 3 am so I blogged instead.

It’s also been the reason behind a few burnt dinners…

Oops.

For a person who finds communication difficult in the normal way, it has given my words coherency (ish) whereas in life I struggle to express myself without looking a tit.

But sometimes we have to move on and for me that time is now. Mummy Shambles was therapy but I have started a new blog which will have more of a sense of direction..

Mummy Shambles, bless ‘er, will be floating about on a lilo in the Bahamas, necking back the Pina Wotsits and whinging about how hot it is but for now the blog will remain in the blogosphere…

I would like to thank my followers (all five of them lol) for their support. I genuinely appreciate all the input I’ve received.

Thanks for taking the time to read and reply to my ramblings. It’s lovely to know my words have occasionally brought a lump to the throat, raised a smile or even better – a laugh. Hopefully, I will continue to do the same with the new blog.

Thank you also to all the hundreds of spammers who have been inspired by my heartfelt outpourings to flog me some shit. I have enjoyed deleting you!

My new blog will feature autism more because awareness is important to me but it will still be me rambling on about what it’s like to be a menopausally challenged berk who still fancies Nick Rhodes.

In a few weeks it will have a professionally done blog design *excited face* which I’m hoping will reflect what the blog is about.

So that’s it.

The new blog is called Inside The Rainbow so do feel free to pop by and say Hi.

So without further a do, it’s goodbye from her..

The blogger formerly known as Mummy Shambles.

The-End

 

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Surviving Christmas (with marbles intacto)

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Deck The Halls

Christmas officially begins with putting the decorations up and it can be a joy or a pain depending on your disposition. Me? I love looking at them, especially the joy inducing fairy lights, but I totally stress myself out doing it and no, I couldn’t let anyone else do it because I need absolute control over where each sodding bauble goes! *twitch*

If you leave the decorating to your OH, you must try and look TOTALLY amazed when you walk in to their expectant face after they’ve been at it all day. A response like, ‘It’s alright, yeah’, will see you standing in A & E waiting to have a pointy bauble removed from your backside.

Note: OH should be able to sit down by New Year! 😀

Tangled Lights?

Shove them in a posh glass vase (fooling everybody into thinking it’s deliberate) and buy a new set for the tree.

Top Tip – save those cardboard boxes that Amazon books come in and use them to wrap the lights around when you’re done, innit!

Shopping

Do the lot online.

Stick your gifts in your virtual basket. *CLICK*

Place Order *CLICK*

Pay. *CLICK*

Then wait for the post-person to stick a card through the letterbox because you weren’t in when they tried to deliver them. :/

Food Shopping

See above.

Veg out on the sofa watching Love Actually and imagine our beloved PM dancing about to Jump in Number 10 while your shopping gets delivered to the front door. No being rammed in the ankles by little old ladies on a mission to reach that last packet of stuffing and NO WONKY TROLLEYS!

Awkward Teenagers

Its-so-Unfair

Sod em.

Threaten them with a satsuma and a sugar pig if they utter the words ‘IT’S SO UNFAIR’ or ‘YOU’VE RUINED MY LIFE!’ anytime in December. Yours truly woke up Christmas Day 1984 to no presents AT ALL due to an attitude malfunction the day before. I didn’t even get the satsuma! True story.

Neighbours

Not the Aussie soap.

A BBQ at Christmas? *shakes head*

No, I refer to those people who live next door – the neighbours.

Remember to send them a card, including the miserable gits who’ve missed you out for the last two years. Pick the shittest card from an assortment pack and shove it through their box!

TV

Anything on Gold is apt for Christmas, it was good enough for Jesus, right?

Plenty of festive comedy around so kick off your reindeer slippers and have a good laugh at other people’s nightmare Christmases. Ha ha!

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Don’t Know If Reindeer Can Fly But They Keep My Feet Warm!

The In-laws

Who hasn’t fantasized about spending Christmas alone in a cosy log cabin somewhere remote and inaccessible by car? However, the reality is that you will probably be entertaining your parents, OH’s parents or both at the same time.

Here’s my tip.. Alcohol is your friend.

Before the mother-in-law rocks up in her faux fur reeking of Estee Lauder – have a pint of something 40% proof and tell yourself it will soon be Boxing Day. Stick a large brandy in her hand as soon as her coat’s off and let the old girl reminisce about ‘the good old days’ while you stab some carrots. She’ll most likely be asleep with her mouth open by the Queen’s speech – leaving the kids free to try out their new felt-tips on her face.

Have to say that my MIL was nothing like this. She was the sleeves up and muck in type of lady, Bless ‘er.

Music

I love Christmas music, apart from Slade’s Merry Christmas Everybody which I now despise due to having heard it every year since 1973.

‘IT’S CHRISSSSSSSSTTTTMAAAAAAASSS’

Oh sod off, Noddy!

However, I never tire of listening to Wham’s Last Christmas…

I was 14 when it was first released, back in the day when George had fabulous hair and I, along with millions of others, wished his girlfriend in the video would be flattened by an avalanche. Sadly, George’s hair is long gone now along with any illusions of me being Mrs Michael.

Gifts

Keep the receipts but disown anybody who asks if you’ve kept the one for their gift. Ungrateful gits! *snorts*

Gift – Oh My God – No’s!

Thongs (menopausal women in particular)

Any man who buys his menopausal OH a thong needs to have a word with himself. Stylish but practical is what the hormonally challenged woman needs – not a piece of bunting strung across her lady-garden with what feels like cheese wire up the bum!

I’d avoid buying underwear altogether, men. Stick to perfume and hope it doesn’t smell like fox piss when she has a hot flush!

Other Crap Gifts

Ped Egg = Potential sex ban for life.

Tash removal kit (women) = Grounds for divorce?

Cliff Richard calendar (anybody) = Not even for your Nan!

Anything from the petrol station = Your Christmas dinner will be in the dog!!

Anything from Ann Summers = Will potentially be opened in front of the entire family!!!

Christmas Fayre

Watch Nigella waxing orgasmic over her stuffing for inspiration but the reality is that it will go horribly wrong on the day because you’re pissed but the good news is most everybody else will be pissed as well so they won’t notice that your pigs don’t have blankets or the pudding isn’t quite defrosted.

Stress Relief

Book yourself in for a pre-Christmas lobotomy or failing that – keep something alcoholic in for medicinal purposes.

The perfect Christmas really doesn’t exist and trying to achieve it will see you in a secure unit by December the 27th so save yourself the stress. If, like me, you become overwhelmed pretty quickly then step away from it.

Sod the cards.

Sod the wrapping.

SOD EVERYTHING!!

Load the best Christmas film ever into the DVD machine – put your feet up and relax with a comforting mug of hot chocolate and let Uncle Frank Capra fill your heart with joy and remind you of how wonderful life can be.

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Merry Christmas.

Love, Mummyshambles x

 

Image Credit Kevin Dooley

A Bit Of Everything

 

What A Janitor Can Teach Us About Knowing Our Worth

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During a visit to NASA space station in 1962, President John F. Kennedy noticed a janitor carrying a broom. He walked over to the man and said,

Hi, I’m Jack Kennedy. What are you doing?

The janitors response?

I’m helping put a man on the moon, Mr. President.

What a great story!

That man saw himself, not just as a janitor, but as a member of the NASA team and he was right, he was helping to put a man on the moon.

I have been a caretaker and I understood my worth too.

There are many jobs in this life that people consider themselves to be above doing so they belittle the people who do them without giving thought to the fact that they are backbone of society.

I once went for a cleaning job at a well known department store. I turned up early in the morning – dressed smartly – and was shown around by a supervisor. During my interview, one of the cleaners came out of the toilets and the supervisor belittled this lady despite me standing there listening to every word. When I was offered the job at the end of the interview, I declined it and the reason was the lack of respect shown to the cleaner.

Working as a caretaker in a nursery school, I understood that I was helping to make a safe and comfortable environment for children to learn in. Children can’t concentrate if they are too hot or too cold can they? I made sure that doors opened properly and bike wheels ran smoothly. If it could be mended, I’d mend it. If it was broken beyond repair, I disposed of it.

I looked after the building when it was empty during the holidays and was there to oversee any work that was done. I never saw myself as a just a caretaker. It was never just a job. I saw myself as a guardian of a wonderful old building that had been around since before World War Two. It wasn’t the best paid job in the world but it paid the mortgage and put food on the table and it made me happy to be there.

After the school closed due to council cuts, I took another job this time as a cleaner in a local warehouse. When I gave my notice in a year later, my supervisor said I was one of the best cleaners she’d ever employed and was sorry to see me go. She tried to convince me to stay by offering me more hours but I needed to make more money than she could offer as my personal situation had changed so the decision was made for me. There had never been one word of complaint about my work and the company for who I’d cleaned for offered me a full time job working for them based on my work ethic.

Some cleaners turn up to do the bare minimum, it has to be said. It’s simply a job – a means to an end – but that’s not how I work. I often went beyond what was expected of me, especially in the kitchen where it wasn’t part of my job to clean the microwave or fridge. If I had time, I did it. I polished the desks in the offices upstairs taking care not to break photo-frames of treasured family photographs. I emptied the bins, hoovered, cleaned the windows and washed up the odd dirty cup that I found. I didn’t have to wash pots but I don’t like starting a new day by washing yesterdays dishes and I think the office staff appreciated not having to.

It was rare for managers to be working when I was but some would make me a coffee if they were working late. I’d also get the odd cake as a treat and at Christmas I received a bottle of wine and some chocolates along with the entire warehouse staff. It made me feel like I was one of the team instead of what I was – which was technically a contract cleaner.

If I mopped a floor and somebody walked on it, they were apologetic. I once saw a comment left by the previous cleaner which said how annoyed she was that people were walking all over her clean floor! What did she expect, for them to levitate their way into the warehouse?

There were some interesting moments which prompted this post but in the main, I was treated respectfully and enjoyed working there despite the ‘icky’ nature of part of my job, as in, cleaning the men’s bogs which usually required numerous blasts from an air freshener for me to be able to get through the door without passing out!

As a cleaner I was helping to keep a warehouse and offices running smoothly by ensuring everything was clean and tidy. Despite having the social skills of a wheelie bin, I did it all with a smile and – more importantly – I enjoyed the job.

Having done work like this makes me appreciative of all people who do these kind of jobs, even the binmen who piss me off by missing out my bin! Where would we be if we didn’t have a bin collection? Filthy, rat infested streets, that’s where!

When you wake up tomorrow morning, spare a thought to all the people who’s day starts long before yours. Think about the street cleaners who’ve been clearing away last night’s rubbish and vomit strewn streets so that you don’t have to see it.

Think about the cleaners who work hard to make shopping center floors shine and windows gleam. You may see them pushing cleaning trolleys about throughout the day so how about giving them an appreciative smile instead of walking straight past them?

How about the people who keep the hospitals clean? I’d say that was one of the most important jobs in there! The prevention of infection starts with them, no? A clean hospital means fewer infections and,as we know, infections can kill. Such is the importance of their job and in my experience the bedside manner of your average cleaner wipes the floor with that of many doctors and nurses. See what I did there?

Things run smoothly because there are people behind the scenes who make it possible. They do the jobs that you might never imagine yourself doing but they are necessary jobs. People might not be on great pay or have their own parking space but their worth is invaluable.

Somebody told me once that I was ‘just a cleaner’ and my worth was based on what I earned. I saw myself as keeping a roof over my family’s heads which I’d say is pretty important!

The NASA janitor saw himself as being part of something much bigger and that’s how it should be from the cleaner to the MD because we are all part of something much bigger than ourselves.

“As long as you look for someone else to validate who you are by seeking their approval, you are setting yourself up for disaster. You have to be whole and complete in yourself. No one can give you that. You have to know who you are – what others say is irrelevant.” ~ Nic Sheff

A Bit Of Everything

Image Credit

Mind Your Manners!

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‘What do you say?’

This was my mother’s standard response whenever she gave me anything. Things were withheld from me until I said the ‘magic words’.

It was the early seventies and manners still mattered then.

Sadly, times have changed.

In the beginning they were just words, much like reciting the Lord’s Prayer at school. I said them without thinking but as I got older I began to understand the importance of the words that society required me to say.

Good manners are a code of conduct based on courtesy. When we are saying ‘Thank You’ we are showing our gratitude and respect.

People don’t have to do things for us. It is not our right to receive. However, today’s society seems think that it is their right to receive. As my wonderful MIL used to say,

Those buggers come from Havington, instead of Givington!

When I think of all the things that people have done for me over the years, ‘Thank you’ seems an inadequate response.

Note, I say what people have done for me as opposed to what people have bought me. Of course I am thankful when I am given a gift but it’s never the gift itself that I am thankful for, it’s the fact that the person has thought about me. Most precious of all is the time that people have given me because that is the best gift of all and it’s free, as are manners.

Saying thank you is a sign of respect. It shows the giver that what they have done is valued. If the receiver simply takes without acknowledging it, the giver feels that their gift (or deed) is meaningless and makes for unpleasantness.

I have watched a society change to one where manners don’t matter. I see rudeness and ignorance everyday. Examples such as when I stood aside to allow a young mother through with her pram and she walked past me without acknowledgement of any kind.

On one occasion, I said ‘You’re welcome!’ as one young mother walked past me.

This was her response..

Fuck off!

Charming, eh?

A wise young lady made the point that sometimes people might be rude because they are having a bad day and it is a good point and worth bearing in mind but usually it’s just a case of bad manners because that’s all the person knows. This is the sad reality.

I have given up my seat on buses for the elderly and pregnant. I open the door for people, regardless of gender or age. I am a courteous driver. I mute my phone in cafes. These are small actions but I have been the pregnant lady on the bus and I have been the driver stuck at a junction at the mercy of someone letting me out and I know the difference that these small courtesies can make to somebody’s day. Mobile phones? Don’t start me! That’s a whole blog post all to itself!

It seems to me that in today’s society there is a distinct manners, etiquette, politeness and courtesy malfunction!

Inconsiderate Drivers

Living opposite a school reveals ignorance and inconsideration on a daily basis by parents who drive their children to school. They selfishly (and illegally) park on the pavement so that pedestrians have to walk into the road to get past. Seemingly protecting a wing mirror takes precedence over a human’s life.

They park on the yellow zig-zag lines despite the big yellow sign that tells them not to and they have little consideration for the residents who live around the school. Unbelievably (or not) one parent actually parked in my neighbours driveway one morning but unfortunately for her – my neighbour came back. Oops!

The way I see it is that it’s only a matter of time before somebody gets hurt either by being knocked over by a car or knocked out by an angry resident.

Steampunk

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The younger generation seem to be too busy interacting with their mobile phones to be courteous but there is a minority movement known as Steampunk who’s core values thankfully include good manners.

At face-value, steampunk is about fashion but it’s it’s much deeper than that – it’s a way of life.

Coined by author Kevin Jeter as a way of distinguishing him and fellow sci-fi writers from the futuristic ‘cyberpunks’, steampunk mixes the technology of today with the aesthetics of the Victorian era. Undoubtedly there are many dark aspects of the Victorian era that need to remain there but good manners were an important part of that society and the steampunk movement, albeit in a small and eccentric way, is trying to bring it back. Thank God for eccentrics, I say!

My Theory

I have a theory that behind every rude child/teenager there is a parent who failed to teach them any manners.

I was taught to be courteous and in turn taught my children to be the same – even The Boy who has social communication problems.

I’m tired of living in a society that doesn’t show respect for one another. How do we correct this though? Sarcasm either goes over people’s heads or incites an angry response like Lady Eff Off’s.

Why do we have this problem?

Studies show that the problem is mainly with 18 – 34 year old’s. Over 55’s generally exhibit better manners most likely because that they are of a generation where manners were important.

Today’s youths are generally narcissistic and self-centered. They are the me generation who couldn’t give a ferret’s fart about people who they don’t identify with. We have progressed so far with technology over the last few decades but the price is that our society has changed for the worse. I refuse to be ill mannered and though ignorance can make life unpleasant, I will continue to fly the flag for good manners and hope that it inspires others to be more polite and considerate.

Thank you for reading.

“Respect for ourselves guides our morals; respect for others guides our manners” ~ Laurence Stern

 

Image Credit by woodlywonderworks Via Creative Commons

Steampunk Image Credit Zyllan Fotografia Via Creative Commons

 

mumturnedmom

 

Finding The Magic

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“Magic exists. Who can doubt it, when there are rainbows and wildflowers, the music of the wind and the silence of the stars? Anyone who has loved has been touched by magic. It is such a simple and such an extraordinary part of the lives we live.”~ Nora Roberts

How do you see the world?

Do your eyes simply see what’s there or can you see beyond it?

I see beyond what’s there, I always have.

What is magic?

To some people magic is merely the art of illusion.

It’s Dynamo walking on water outside the Houses of Parliament or David Blaine whacking somebody’s mobile phone into a bottle of beer. These magicians conjure up the impossible with the art of deception. To others, magic is Harry Potter whipping out his ward to fend off the Dementors but the real magic is in J K Rowling’s writing which comes from her extraordinary imagination.

There is another kind of magic which it’s all around us if only we take the time to look.  It’s is the magic that makes you happy even when you’re doing the most mundane of tasks, like cleaning the loo.

For those who are still with me (the others having long since hit the X button thinking ‘Off you go, Nutjob’) allow me to explain…

The magic that I’m talking about is a feeling. All you have to do to feel the magic is open your mind to the possibility of it.

It’s about taking the mundane and giving it some sparkle and who doesn’t like a bit of sparkle?

Household Tasks

Washing the dishes is a mundane task. It’s a job that OH hates so much that he actually bought a dishwasher so he wouldn’t have to, the lazy git! I do use it to do the heavily soiled stuff but most days I fill the washing up bowl with bubbles and add a few drops of essential oil. I use grapefruit because it’s uplifting. A few sniffs and my mood lifts and I lose myself in the suds. It puts me in an almost meditative state and what was once a boring job has become a pleasurable experience.

Meditation isn’t all about sitting cross-legged and omming, y’know. 😉

The trick is to be in the present. I try not to think about anything except what I am doing. Though my mind naturally wants to wander ( I have major mind traffic) I consciously drag it back the now. When I’m done faffing, I leave the water in the bowl to allow the essential oils to keep doing their stuff.

Similarly I clean the bathroom with a few drops of oil. I use lemon myrtle spray around the toilet (and up the walls) as the males of the house seemingly have out of control hose-pipes for penises and are prone to missing the entire toilet! Inhaling man wee makes me feel grumpy (not to mention, squiffy) but after a few squirts of my myrtle, it’s like they’ve never been in.

OK, maybe loo cleaning is stretching the concept of magic a bit but it is definitely an improvement, no?

Books

I read books that inspire me and if the cover is aesthetically pleasing, then all the better! All part of being a visual person..

I like books that have me thinking long after I’ve turned the last page. I imagine how the characters look and for that reason I tend not to watch the films because they so often disappoint me. The Harry Potter books are an exception as the films actually do justice to J K Rowling’s excellent writing.

I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book. ~ J K Rowling

Music

I listen to music that speaks to my soul, whether it’s rock, pop or classical. I allow my imagination to run riot with music where there are no lyrics to influence my mind. As far back as I can remember this has been the case.. as a little girl I used to listen to Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake and images would flow uninterpreted into my mind, I could lose myself for hours this way..

Music is the strongest form of magic. ~ Marylin Manson

Mazza, you may scare small kids with your face but you are absolutely right!

Film and TV

I believe I have a mild form of synaesthesia and this would explain why I am unable to watch horror. All violence affects me but I can’t cope with watching horror films. If I see an upsetting image, it affects me for weeks or months after and I never forget it. For this reason I stay away from the news as much as possible. Similarly, I am just as deeply affected by good news and feel good films and TV.

I like to watch films that remind me of how fortunate I am to be alive and which inspire me to be a better person.

One of my all time favourites is Frank Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life  because it reminds me that as insignificant as we think we are, our lives have purpose. It’s a timeless classic that leaves it’s mark on each generation.

Each man’s life touches so many other lives, and when he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he? ~ Clarence, the angel in It’s A Wonderful Life

See The Magic

We come into the world with our magic buttons switched on. We find joy in the simplest of things and everything is new and magical but somewhere along the way we lose it. We allow other people’s world views to influence our own, even if it’s not what we truly believe. We allow stress to take over and before we know it we are weighed down with worry and the magic is long forgotten.

I’m not saying that we should all abandon our common sense and call ourselves Moonbeam (although if calling yourself Moonbeam floats your boat, then you should go ahead and call yourself Moonbeam and bugger what people think) it’s just that a little sprinkling of magic makes life more bearable.

In it’s simplest terms, it’s about finding meaning to life.

Some people believe life has no meaning and if that’s you – fair enough – but there is just too much going on for me to ever agree with it.

For me, it’s about seeing and feeling beyond what can be physically seen and felt.

Sound wanky?

Maybe but it works for me.

That magic button? It’s still there. You just need to turn it back on.

To remind yourself of how it’s done – watch your children because they see the magic that is all around them.

Children see magic because they look for it. ~ Christopher Moore

Image Credit OUCHCharley Via Creative Commons

A Bit Of Everything

 

Bonfire Night, Autism and Me

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For most people, November the 5th (or sometime in October until late November as it’s become) is a reason to celebrate with  bonfires and firework displays. As a person who has sensory issues I can honestly say that it is NOT my favourite time of year!

Before you mumble ‘miserable sod’ and hit the X on the top of your screen, allow me to explain..

As a child I remember having a firework display in our garden at home. I say display but it was just my dad sticking some fireworks in an old biscuit tin filled with sand and setting them off one at a time.

Mum made soup and we stood about shivering waiting for the fireworks to splutter into life and you could bet that in any box of fireworks there would always be one that performed like a wet fart!

I wasn’t particularly safe with sparklers either but I did enjoy writing rude words in the air while my mother wasn’t looking. I remember thinking that I should be having fun because I was a kid and that’s what kids do. But I wasn’t really having fun. I was cold. My ears hurt and my eyes smarted from the smoke that filled the air. I preferred to sit in my brother’s bedroom window and watch the displays light up the skyline. I’d sit there for ages until my eldest brother would tell me to shift so he could do his college work.

Mum started giving us the option of fireworks or money so I chose the money and sat and watched the fireworks from the window. For me, this was a most agreeable arrangement.

Ex hubs and I took the boys to a display once when they were little. We made sure our dogs were secured in the front room with the TV on loud but, still, we arrived home to a room full of shit, chewed up carpet and a video remote with teeth marks in it and it was decided that in future I would stay in with the dogs and he would take the boys to the local cricket club’s display. I was relived not to have to cope with the noise and crowds but my relief was short-lived as my four-legged friends would totally lose control of their arses with each BANG.

Then there were the intermittent barfing sessions…

I would spend the entire night on my hands and knees, peg on nose and cloth in hand – disinfecting the crap (literally and metaphorically) out of the carpet while trying to stay conscious which was a BIG ask, trust me!

Autism

Most autistic people have sensory processing issues to some degree. They are either under sensitive or over sensitive and bonfire night can cause a great deal of stress and anxiety.

Firework displays, in their nature, are unexpected because you never know what is going to happen and when. This is very stressful to autistic people who need structure and routine and to a child who’s senses are exceptionally heightened, the noise and blinding lights can be painful, not to mention distressing.

However, autistic children can have a positive experience on bonfire night but it does require planning.

Counting down using a calendar and social stories will help the child to know exactly when bonfire night takes place. Obviously it doesn’t just happen on one night now so while you can be prepared for any display you will be attending you need to take into account those that are happening around you on other nights. So be prepared to turn up the TV, provide ear muffs and distractions.

Showing your child a video of fireworks will also give them an idea of what to expect. Some schools do this as part of education about safety on bonfire night.

Do some research on the events in your area. Some events are disability friendly and are less likely to be crowded.

Ear defenders are invaluable when it comes to noise – unless you have a child like The Boy who needs them but doesn’t like how they feel. I understand this though as I struggle with headphones for the same reason. Ear muffs are gentler. They won’t block out the noise but they will take the edge of it and they keep the ears toasty warm.

You could also jump in the car, park up somewhere and watch the skies light up. This is my favourite way of watching fireworks – especially with soothing music and a flask of something hot with a little nip in it – unless I’m the one who is driving and then it’s minus the nip.

If your child can’t cope with any of it then stay at home where it’s warm. Put on their favourite TV show and cuddle up. Don’t feel you have to do the ‘normal thing’. Understand that if everyday life provides a challenge for your child, imagine how fires and explosions will make them react. Even the fun stuff is stressful for the highly-sensitive autistic child.

The Boy is excited about the fireworks because all his classmates are and he copies what he sees but this is the boy who screams when the hand dryers go off in the toilets or I put the hoover on and who struggles to wear the ear defenders that will keep the noise to a minimum. Noise triggers meltdowns. For this reason, a public display isn’t a good idea this time but I do happen to know of a place where we can park up and watch the Manchester skyline explode without the sensory onslaught. I’ve uploaded the more gentler tracks of the Harry Potter soundtrack onto the iPod and, hopefully, it should give The Boy a pleasant experience of firework night.

The lurcher will be safe at home with Classic FM on full blast as she seems to be made of stronger stuff than my terriers were, thankfully.

Whatever you do and wherever you go this bonfire night, stay safe and spare a thought for the those who struggle at this time of year.

Because of the poor economy, we couldn’t afford fireworks at our house. The only snap crackle and pop at our house yesterday was when I poured the milk onto my Rice Crispies! ~ Anon

A Bit Of Everything

mumturnedmom

There’s a Ghost in my House

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1979

It was a night like any other. I’d been playing upstairs in my room. My brothers were out and my parents were in the living room. At some point I’d decided to go downstairs – our stairs being the kind that had a half landing then more steps. It was when I’d reached the half-landing and had a full view into the hallway that I saw her and by her I mean a young girl who didn’t belong there.

I stood there transfixed for seconds rather than minutes but it felt much longer.

While I couldn’t make out details, as such, it was a girl and all I could make out was that she had long hair.

I was nine years old. Had I hallucinated? Was my imagination working overtime?

At this point the sceptics will be rolling their eyeballs thinking ‘course you were, you psychotic mare!’

Or maybe it was sleep paralysis?

However, I know I wasn’t asleep. I could hear the TV in the background. Everything was as it should have been apart from this girl who I didn’t know and who didn’t belong in my home. I’ve experienced the sleep phenomenon a few times. It’s where you think you’re awake but you’re actually not and it accompanies the feeling of there being a presence (often sinister) in the room or hallucination and you feel paralyzed. It’s horrible!

This was very different..

A few months later I was in my brother’s room – bothering him as sisters do. It was night-time. The landing light was on and the door was half open. We were sat on his bed which was opposite the door. A movement caused us both to look up. It was as if someone had walked across the landing and we naturally assumed it was our mum or dad.

‘MUM? DAD?’

I called out to them but got no answer. We searched the bedrooms and the bathroom but unless our parents had taken to hiding in the wardrobes, there was nobody there but us.

We went downstairs and interrogated them.

‘Has one of you just been upstairs, like in the last five minutes?’

‘No. Why?

My brother and I were in agreement. We’d definitely seen someone (or something) cross the landing and we were like, ‘BLOODY HELL! – Not that we’d have said that within earshot of Mum!

Any subsequent discussions regarding ghosts were met with Dad’s uniform response, “There are NO such things as ghosts!”

Dad’s take on death was that it was final. End of. Finito! He was a self-confessed atheist and about as sceptical as a teabag when it came to the paranormal.

But I wasn’t convinced..

The following year we were given the news that we were going to be moving house. Dad wanted to live somewhere closer to where he worked. Ironically, he was made redundant a couple of years later..

I was desperately unhappy about the situation and stropped about the house in the hopes that they would see reason. They didn’t.

You see, I was born in that house and despite seeing random kids in the hallway, I was happy there. It was the only home I’d known but my feelings, though noted, were not enough for us to stay.

I woz ere 81

On the morning of the move, I scrawled my signature somewhere inconspicuous on the bedroom wall and slammed the bedroom door shut for the last time. I took one last look at my bedroom window as we drove away in the direction of the other side of the city..

One of the first things I noticed about my new bedroom was that I no longer needed the landing light on to be able to go to sleep. In fact it irritated me to have the door open. Only weeks before, I had needed both. One day I was talking to Mum about my ‘experiences’. She went quiet and reached for her fags (a sure sign that she was about to impart some wisdom) and said, Well, there was something that happened..

Possibly for one of the few times in my adolescent life, Mum had my full and undivided attention. What she said next totally put the shits up me…

‘There was a family who lived in the house a few years before we bought it and they had a little girl who fell down the stairs and hit her head on the floor. She became unconscious and never woke up. Of course, we never told you.’

No shit, Mother!

Because, had I have known this, I would never have slept again!

According to Mum, they had no knowledge of it when they bought the house. Though a decent size, the house was affordable because it was in need of complete renovation. Mum later learned of it’s history via a neighbour.

I’ve given this lots of thought over the years and this is what I’ve concluded.

Maybe I was picking up on the residual energy from what would have been a very traumatic time? When I saw her, apparently I was about the same age as she was when she died. I don’t know if it’s relevant or just coincidence.

What I saw could have been my imagination, or a hallucination. It could also have been a ghost or an imprint.

An imprint is a traumatic moment in time that leaves an impression on the building. An imprint doesn’t interact, unlike an earthbound spirit. Though the apparition appeared to be looking at me, there was no other interaction.  We’re definitely not talking Carol (“They’re Heeeere”) Ann, here. I prefer to think of it like that because it’s sad enough that a girl died without having the thought that she was stuck in some kind of limbo on my conscience.

Every aspect of my experience could be explained by normal means but that doesn’t make it the truth. Personal experience doesn’t equal proof but I’m unable to rule out the paranormal possibility. It felt real and the information that came to light afterwards lead me to believe that it was a paranormal experience of some kind.

As a society we can’t agree whether ghosts exist or not. 34% of Brits think they do and I’m one of them.

How about you?

“Ghosts don’t haunt us. That’s not how it works. They’re present among us because we won’t let go of them.”

“I don’t believe in ghosts,” I said, faintly.

“Some people can’t see the color red. That doesn’t mean it isn’t there,” she replied.

Sue Grafton ~ Red is for Malice

Photo Credit

Houses are not haunted. We are haunted, and regardless of the architecture with which we surround ourselves, our ghosts stay with us until we ourselves are ghosts.

DEAN KOONTZ, Velocity

Read more at http://www.notable-quotes.com/g/ghosts_quotes.html#tUCsAlGIqY7VtQiO.99

Houses are not haunted. We are haunted, and regardless of the architecture with which we surround ourselves, our ghosts stay with us until we ourselves are ghosts.

DEAN KOONTZ, Velocity

Read more at http://www.notable-quotes.com/g/ghosts_quotes.html#tUCsAlGIqY7VtQiO.99

A Bit Of Everything

Once Upon A Time in a Potbank

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From the 18th century to the 1960’s, Stoke-on-Trent’s landscape was dominated by thousands of bottle kilns. Today there remains 47, all of which are listed.

I was born in the heart of the Potteries so perhaps it’s no surprise that I’ve worked in two of it’s potbanks. The first of which was one which made hotel-ware.

I turned up to my interview slightly overdressed in a pencil skirt, blouse and high heels. I was 16 years old and probably looked more confident than I felt as I click-clacked alongside the supervisor who was showing me around the factory. I couldn’t help but gawp at the pint-sized women who were balancing large wooden planks filled with teapots on their shoulders as if they weighed nothing at all. There was apparently a ‘knack’ to it which I never did master.

The interview was a formality. I turned up, got taken on and was trained up. It was that simple.

My job was Fettler/Sponger

FETTLER – Potting department. Clay end. Male or female who uses a variety of little tools to remove the rough seams and edges on the clay piece after it has been made by casting.

SPONGER Occupation. Potting department. Clay end. The person, male or female, employed specifically to remove seams and wet clay which had been created during the potting process.

I remember the noise and layer of dust that covered everything. The air was dry and cigarette smoke mingled with perfume and sweat – the kind that makes your eyes water.

Two weeks into the job I had the audacity to get sick and the management sacked me as I’d taken time off when I was still in my probation period. I appealed and won my case for unfair dismissal but I never went back.

Three years later I took a job as a ‘labourer’ on a twilight shift in another potbank which made tableware.

My job involved loading clay onto machinery which sliced it into pieces which would then drop onto moulds to be pressed to form a plate, bowl or saucer. These were then baked and stacked into piles which I would load onto trolleys while trying to maintain a steady flow of clay on about two other machines at the same time. Every so often (when I got talking) one of my makers would bellow out “OI, STOP GABBIN’ AND GET YER BACKSIDE BACK OVER ERE!!’ and that was just the women!

The factory was full of characters the likes of which you could write a book on. No airs and graces – just proud, hard working folk who knew how to have a laugh.

I loved every minute of it.

Working in a potbank was hard work and the conditions weren’t ideal despite vast improvements in health and safety compared to years ago…

In living memory, a pottery worker’s living came at the sacrifice of their health with lung diseases such as Pneumoconiosis which came from breathing in dust. I can only imagine how bad things were before health and safety laws forced companies to make improvements to working conditions.

No post about the Potteries would be complete without mentioning the dialect that is almost exclusive to Stoke.

Examples of Potteries dialect or Ar ter toke crate!

AY ~ Something I say about a 100 times a day since I’ve gone deaf.

ADAMANT ~ 80’s pop singer and brand name of a particular type of pottery made by Twyfords.

BOG ~ Common UK slang word for toilet extensively used in Stoke-on-Trent (and me)

CLACK ~ Potteries for the epiglottis. (“foone an ambulance duck, eets stuck in me clack!”)

DUCK ~ Term of endearment

OATCAKE ~ Local delicacy (also be found in random supermarkets in Bury)

FRITTENED DEATH~ Extremely frightened  ‘E’s frittened death of having to get a round in!’

MARD ARSE ~ A spoilt person or man + flu = mard arse

NESH ~ Doesn’t withstand the cold too well. (like me)

PEE DEE ~ Pay Day

RITES SPIES ~ Wrights Pies (the ultimate in pie experience)

CHAYS ~ Nice on an oatcake with some bacon

SHAPE ~  Woolly things in fields that go well with mint sauce.

It was spoken broadly in my day (especially by the potters and miners) but seemingly people don’t use it as much in everyday conversation so it will inevitably die out, sadly.

When I started work at the potbank in 1989, it employed 500 people and was split into three divisions – hotel-ware, mugs and tableware. The hotel-ware was particularly profitable but table-ware (where I worked) was facing major problems.

Sir John Harvey-Jones was brought in and as part of BBC2’s Troubleshooter series, he sought to improve the factory’s fortunes. His findings showed that a substantial amount of money could be saved if they axed about 100 unskilled jobs and replaced them with a machine.

Mine was one of those jobs, as were the makers that I laboured for. Our roles were made redundant to make way for a dust pressing unit which would mechanically do our jobs more efficiently and without the need of a tea-break.

We had to work alongside it while the teething problems were sorted out and a huge cheer would go up whenever the sodding thing broke down. Regardless of our impending redundancies – morale remained high. That’s the spirit of the Potteries for you.

Clocking off for the last time was emotional. Some jobs I’ve been glad to leave but this wasn’t one of them.

Despite the introduction of more technology – the company now employs over 700 people and that’s not bad for an industry that is in decline – in the Potteries at any rate.

Despite swapping the kilns of the Potteries for Lancashire mills, I am, and always will be, a Potteries girl.

Potbank 2

This post is in response to a request by theatre directer, Sarah, as part of an event at The Victoria and Albert museum in London at the end of this month. Maybe you have worked in the potbanks yourself and would like to share your memories?

You can get in touch with Sarah at: memoriesofpotbankworkers@gmail.com by 16th October.

Bottle Kilns Image via Creative Commons by ‘Pessimist’

mumturnedmom

Chasing Sleep

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I’ve haven’t had a decent night’s sleep in three years.

The primary reason for my sleep disturbance/insomnia is actually the menopause or the ‘this effing menopause’ as I affectionately refer to it now. Before this I had no problem getting my eight hours in. I had my fair share of racy dreams (mostly about Nick Rhodes) but then my hormones decided to revolt and nowadays I’m lucky if I can get two hours in between hormone induced panic attacks and when I do dream I’m usually naked on a public toilet or being chased by tidal waves.

There are many reasons why people struggle to get a good nights sleep.

Daytime Habits

Loafing in front of the TV all day watching Jeremy Kyle and doing sod all in the way of exercise.

Watching TV, playing video games or social networking in bed.

Guzzling down copious amounts of coffee (or gin) – key word is STIMULANT.

Working nights or shifts

Having a bedroom that’s not conducive to a good night’s sleep, as in, total shit-hole with crap curtains and last months undies decomposing in the corner. So grand a scale of shit-hole is your boudoir that the rats evict themselves!

Psychological Problems

Stress is a major reason for insomnia and there are many reasons why people get stressed.

Health Problems

Asthma, allergies, Parkinson’s disease, hyperthyroidism, acid reflux, kidney disease, cancer, and chronic pain. Common medications such as antidepressants, cold and flu medications that contain alcohol, pain relievers that contain caffeine, diuretics, corticosteroids, thyroid hormone, and high blood pressure medications can also interfere with your sleep. I’ll include menopause here because, although it isn’t an technically an illness, it does create a whole heap of shitty symptoms and insomnia is one of them.

So what can we do?

The Effect of Music on Sleep

A survey of 6,000 British adults by Travelodge showed that 20 per cent like to listen to classical music before bedtime with the most popular sleep-inducing composers being Beethoven, Mozart and Bach. The study also revealed that 85 per cent of Brits listen to music to help them get to sleep with 13 per cent reporting that they have sweet dreams if they fall asleep when music is on. I’m presuming they don’t mean Slipknot?

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Sweet dreams are made of this?

The hotel chain put together a Top Ten ‘Kip Chart’ from the findings. Mozart came in at number seven, making him the top sleep-inducing composer. Coldplay smashed it at number one making them the band most likely to send you to sleep. Not entirely sure that’s an accolade they ever hoped for but there yer go.

I’ve known about the calming effect that classical music has on babies since I had my little man and Classic FM has been lulling him off for the last six years. It also helps me to nod off, mostly. However, staying in the land of nod is generally my problem and that’s down to dips in my blood sugar levels causing adrenaline surges which trigger panic attacks. Listening to classical music helps calm me down during an attack, especially the choral stuff. Maybe I was a nun in a past life?

Last week BBC Radio Three looked into the effect that music has on the subconscious via the Why Music weekend with the centerpiece being an all night performance by composer Max Richter. In the longest single continuous piece of music ever broadcast live by the BBC (eight hours to be exact) King of Kip, Max, was joined by soprano Grace Davidson, five string players and an audience (complete with beds) who were encouraged to experience the music through the state of sleep. The piece is called, er, Sleep.

I also feel that there is an intuitive connection between sleeping and music beyond this – and this connection is summed up by the tradition of the lullaby, which seems to be a universal in human culture ~ Max Richter

Having nodded off fairly quickly that night, I woke up at 12.08am having an encounter of the panic kind so I went downstairs armed with my pillows and radio. Having apologised to the lurcher for waking her up (costing me a Bonio) I curled up on the sofa. Having remembered about the BBC programme, I listened to that in the hope that it would distract me from the familiar yet unpleasant sensations that come with a panic attack. The music was almost ethereal in parts especially when the soprano was giving it some and it evoked something within me which made me cry but in a good way. Most importantly I found myself calming down quite quickly. Nice one, Max!

I’ve since downloaded a condensed hour version of Sleep and can honestly say the combination of making sure that I had a small snack (some rancid organic sugar free peanut butter on toast) before bed to help with the blood sugar levels and listening to the music helped me sleep all night.

YES FOLKS, I GOT A FULL NIGHT’S SLEEP IN! WHOOP WHOOP!

I had another one of my naked on the toilet dreams but to be fair I did need a wee. Not sure why I was naked though?

So, after trial and error, here are my kip tips..

  • Make your bedroom a haven of tranquility.
  • Have a light snack before bed. Note – kebabs aren’t light snacks.
  • If your OH snores – sod him off into the shed.
  • No caffeine after six or at all.
  • Ease up on the gin or abstain altogether. Alcohol sends you to sleep alright but you’ll be up at 2am with a mouth drier than a popcorn fart.
  • Leave the electronics downstairs (except a radio)
  • Use that radio to listen to classical music (or Coldplay)

Night Bless and don’t let the sandman throw sand in your eyes!

Image Credit Eirik Newth via Creative Commons
Slipknot Image – Bill – via Creative Commons

mumturnedmom

Spin The Black Circle

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The soundtrack to my childhood is on vinyl – somewhere.

A few years ago, having been seduced by the digital form of the CD, I decided to flog almost every record that I owned in a car boot sale – fifty pence for an album or a pound for a double. A moment of insanity that would come to haunt me.

You see, I’ve grown up with music. Dad was a ‘Hi-Fi buff’ who spent hours sat in front of his mammoth speakers in search of the ultimate ‘stereo experience’ which I found hilarious because he was deaf in one ear. Music was his passion and one of the last records he listened to was my Queen album – one of a few which I kept back from the blasted car boot sale.

The album contained The Show Must Go On. Written primarily by Brian May it’s a song about Freddie’s determination to carry on performing despite the fact that he was dying.

Inside my heart is breaking
My make-up may be flaking
But my smile still stays on

Apt lyrics for my Dad – a man who knew he was losing his battle with cancer.

My love of music starts way back in the decade of grim decor and fashion aka the 70’s. In 1978 I got my first record player along with the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever – a film that I wasn’t old enough to see. It would be a few more years before I got to see JT in his undies!

In 1979 I bought I Don’t Like Mondays by the Boomtown Rats with my pocket money and had no idea that the song was about a 16 year old girl who went on a shooting spree because she didn’t like Mondays!

Equipment itself has come a long way. Edison’s phonograph kicked it all off and has evolved into the tiniest of devices not much bigger than a stamp. (iPod). I wonder what Smack my Bitch Up would sound like on a phonograph? Edison would spin in his grave faster than Pete Burns… right round baby!

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One of Judge Jules’ early gigs ha ha – not really. Don’t sue me.

Music is much more than an art form. It connects people, or it used to.

Records were vitally important to the development of music and of all music cultures. With that being pushed by the wayside, I can’t see an iPod uniting us. In fact it separates us, the streets are full of people bumping into lamp posts, listening to their own little universe, and there’s no sharing in that. ~ John Lydon

It wasn’t always this way..

Music played a big part in boosting morale during world war two. It captured the spirit of a nation that refused to be broken by Hitler. Hearing Glenn Miller’s Moonlight Serenade evokes feelings of nostalgia and gratitude. Nostalgia because despite the hardship of the war, my parents had fond memories of that time and gratitude because I owe my life to those who died for our freedom.

My taste is eclectic which means there is a genre to suit my every mood and there are a lot of em. Rock gets my heart pumping whereas classical relaxes me. I love Punk with it’s angst and nihilistic attitude that reflected a time of teenage rebellion with the Sex Pistols summing up the attitude of a generation with “No future”. Listening to the likes of the Sex Pistols and The Clash was part of my own teenage rebellion. The day I skimmed Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols across the kitchen worktop was a memorable one to say the least. my mother miss-lit her fag in shock at the word ‘bollocks‘.

I’ll give you bollocks, Madam!~ Mum circa 1984

Despite embracing the digital form, I’ve felt disenchanted with music for a while. Then one day I had an epiphany when I realised that what music was missing was soul. And I don’t mean the genre.

CD’s are almost clinical. They have a ‘clean’ sound and while that may suit the techno sound, I think it robs other genres of it’s soul. I also missed the tactile experience of placing a record on the deck and trying to keep a steady hand (a difficult task when pissed) as I placed the needle on the record waiting for the inevitable crackle and hiss. But that’s just me. Music and sound is subjective. Millions of people have never looked back and think of vinyl only in a historical or value sense. As technology surges forward, I find myself hankering for a time of simplicity.

I deeply regret flogging my collection but am in the process of creating another one and it’s not lost on me that I’m often paying double or treble what I paid for them originally. Lesson learned. No more boot sales. Unless it’s to buy. 😉

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Music evokes powerful emotions and listening to Ella Fitzgerald transports me to days of childhood watching my mother doing her thing in the kitchen and Frank Sinatra instantly makes me think of my dad crooning along to That’s Life, Jack Daniels in one hand, Marlboro in the other. Despite the secondary smoke inhalation, those were happy times with memories that have become so important to me now that they are both gone. Music takes me to a happy place and back to a time when life was simple and happiness was a book or a new record. Simple pleasures…

My parents may be gone but they live on in the music. A record is made of up of grooves and within those grooves are memories and a memory is something that can’t be taken from you.

End Note :

Dear Boys, please don’t flog my records in a car boot sale after I’ve gone.

I will haunt you.

Love, Mum.

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The song is ended but the melody lingers on.

mumturnedmom