Log in

Retrospective of the noughties....

I spent most of this decade wondering what it was going to be called.  The media have decided the "noughties", even though it sounds like "naughty" and there was nothing much naughty about it. 

Here's my retrospective.

On New Years Day 2000 I was in church, medium-sized with child, and walked there from my flat.  I remember walking up a street full of huge houses and hearing sounds of merriment from the gardens, and people saying "Anybody need another drink?"  My husband was on the night shift.  That was a New Year's Eve party at church so I walked home in the small hours.  It was okay I guess.  The rest of the year - I was big with child and then gave birth to the lovely boy, we like him, we're probably going to keep him.  I moved house to another flat. 

2001 - Husband got a better job, I think that year anyway, I got big with child once again, I went on holiday to South Uist with husband and dad and toddler.  It was a good holiday.   It came soon after 9/11, so I spent a lot of time reading the papers and thinking we're all gonna die, cos you don't mess with the US of A.  

2002 - I was big with child, and big generally, and then had a girl in February, another very delightful addition to the clan, and we're keeping her as well.  I managed to diet with Weightwatchers and looked fantastically stick thin for a while, and my Mum and her lesbian partner cooed over my lost weight making me think "Eurgh!" and rapidly put it all back on again.  No, I ate all the pies.  But you don't want to be surrounded by lady lesbians lusting after your thin form, not if you're straight like me.  It doesn't do anything for me.  Honestly.  That probably makes me a bad person, everybody look at the bad person, anyway, moving on.   I made friends with a one armed Asian woman who had a mixed race son, and I got nowhere in my friendship with a woman the same age as me, from a church background and in the same size flat as me, going to show that being similar on paper leads nowhere in friendships.  But the Asian woman moved to Battle and I never saw her again. 

2003 - Son went to a hoity toity private nursery for a while, I pushed around this gargantuan double buggy that made me feel like Sisyphus and his rock, but it was less wieldy and I bet Sisyphus didn't have the 57 bus to contend with.  Where the buggy falls over and the bus driver shouts at you for not holding on to it, preemptively and aggressively when you were feeling embarrassed enough already.  And the amount of times I phoned the police to report the 200 bus drivers for smelling strongly of cannabis!  Well at least once.  Riding on buses is the new thrillseeker sport of the suburban mothers, in my area.  I sent son to state school nursery, made friends with a very neurotic mum who ended up moving to a sixteen bedroom castle in rural Lovelyshire with her two kids named after the Tweenies.  Making and keeping friends in those days was like trying to hold water in your hands.  Nursery teacher said son had Asperger's, and I had panic attacks going to school.

2004 - I got a job in the nextdoor care home and learnt a lot about dementia.  Quite enjoyed my job despite the paranoia of a boss who seemed to think I was going to nick her job.  Bought Henry Hoover that year with all our filthy lucre from having dual income.  My Mum decided to send a letter to me resigning as a mother, and this brought about a crisis between us that has never mended, imagine a happy relationship , then imagine throwing a nuclear bomb at it, it never recovers.  Never ever.  And for it to recover you would need willingness from both partners but you don't get that with Mum.  All the self help books suggest sitting down and talking it through, the self help books say nothing about the person dropping a bomb on you and then moving to Portugal.  So you're never really just neutrally in the same place and able to chat and work things out.  We now exist on a steady diet of denial and superficial bullshit, hey it works for her!  Not that I'm bitter. 

2005 - Daughter started nursery, and son had teachers pushing for an Asperger's diagnosis.  Sat in waiting rooms waiting to speak to paediatricians.  At the end of the year, made friends with the TC Clan, which was a big mistake.   Spent my day times writing my novel. 

2006 - More novel writing.  Friends with the Tuna Tacos.  A difficult friendship that caused nothing but angst and misery.  Went to Berlin on holiday.  Husband interested in Communism, I was interested in Nazism.  I wouldn't be interested in the Allied side at all.  (Only joking).  I remember the Technical Museum with the original cattle trucks that had taken the Jews to their doom, and telling my daughter somewhat superstitiously to "stay out!!" thinking of the fate of all those other children who had taken a ride in there (shudder).  Suddenly it seems such a haphazard thing that my children happened to be born in one country sixty years on and so weren't at risk from genocide.   I think of this year as the year full of folly, being stupid, making friends with the wrong people and worrying about the wrong things, getting distracted and angst ridden. 

2007 - It was the end of the Tuna Taco friendship (TC Clan) and the beginning of a new one with the people who ran a pub - friendly and easy and no angst from the start, a vast improvement.   I did a course on novel writing at adult education college which killed all my inspiration and motivation stone dead thanks to the utter indifference of the teacher, and her unwillingness to understand the first thing about church culture.  I haven't given up, I write no more but I still dream!  I'm going to start again with a new novel, not try and edit the one I wrote, it's too long and unwieldy.

2008 - Lots of holidays.  We had a trip to Wales with four friends, a trip to South Uist with 50 plus members of my family, a weekend in Boulogne, a great time in Cornwall with friend and her children and husband, and a trip to Scotland on my own with the children.  It makes up for having no holidays at all in 2009.  Signed up to becoming a driving instructor.  Spent a lot of time being a Bible study leader.  Also sought therapy for my problems with being touched or hugged by people.    

2009 - Spent the year trying to move to Scotland, signed up for a self employed business, moved to Scotland.  A school gate Mum I knew died of cancer.  She was the only other Scottish school gate mum in my school in London, that I knew, so I felt afraid the grim reaper was after the Scottish mums, so now at the new school gate I have strength in numbers.  The woman who died, I didn't know was dying because I exist in a state of splendid isolation cos I don't gossip.  Sometimes gossip is a good thing, it means bad things don't sneak up on you like a bastard.  Her husband left the school and sent his children to a Catholic school, the better to get them into a Catholic high school.   I moved away from the Tuna Tacos just as the man of the couple is about to publish his first children's novel.  Such a blessed relief not to have THAT rubbed in my face day in day out at the school gate.  (We used to talk about writing when we were still talking to one another).   2009 was the year I discovered Derren Brown and liked his shows, at first as a welcome mental distraction from the anguish of my mum's visit and later as an excuse to visit friend nr Plymouth to see a show of his.  I wasn't impressed, the ones on the telly looked much more magical.  Still it was a great night out and I got his autograph and a photo of him and me which is still there as my mobile phone wallpaper. 

I could say more but I won't.  

So it's been a steady diet of getting nowhere with any of my life plans! 

Here's hoping the 2010s are better.  Life begins at forty, that was a sitcom from the seventies I remember well, and it's a mantra I believe in.  It must be better being in your forties, it must be, it stands to reason.  I'll be the parent of teenagers.  That should be great fun.  Hopefully at least one or two of my life ambitions will come to something.  I've stopped telling people what I want to do with my life cos my plans keep on dashing against the walls.  I've talked myself into such a downer now.  It's snowing outside and I have no idea how to entertain the children whose default setting is to be plugged into the computer or Playstation with deadened eyes.  I've been teaching myself "Air on a G String" by Bach.  I bought piano music yesterday.  It's brilliant learning new music.  Perhaps this will be the decade of being a musician.  I've spent years pining to own a keyboard or piano and now I have a keyboard I can finally put some time into this hobby and teach myself a few songs.   


In this evening, with the cold drawing in and a blanket in my lap I espied a television-drama that looked somewhat intriguing: it's name was Cranford. It was a sumptuous drama by the British Broadcasting Corporation, in which not a single actress was without a bonnet or kerchief, and many were titled ladies such as Dame Judi Dench. And many other talented actors of our age. Well! Imagine my discomfort when it slowly dawned on me that to espy this drama would steal an entire hour-and-a-half of my evening! An evening I could have spent better employed, perhaps with a little sewing or playing at the piano. (Myself and my husband recently purchased as a gift for our children, a Yamaha keyboard, it is a most accomplished instrument boasting five good octaves). No matter!- I continued in my viewing and was rewarded with a highly enjoyable televisual play involving good men and scoundrels, and ladies with smelling salts and poor orphan-boys getting up to mischief and allowing the cow on the common land to derail a locomotive, with tragic consequences! - But I shall not tarry on these trifles for I know not if any of my fair readers might plan already to watch this televisual play and will have their enjoyment spoiled while I prattle on - if this is the case do forgive me! Alas, the drama ended all too soon, and then I found myself in a most uncomfortable position of having to watch the subsequent televisual play which was a situation comedy called "Outnumbered".

Annnnnd we're back in the room.

Anyway - "Outnumbered", what a steaming pile of shit that was. You could practically smell it from over the other side of the room. It is a comedy with that tall one out of Punt and Dennis, (the short one used to go to the same coffee house in Wimbledon that I did but that's neither here nor there)and his wife, some identikit thin-pretty-neurotic sitcom-wife by-the-numbers.  And they have three lovely children, the eldest one the idiot son out of "Armstrong and Miller" in the single dad sketch, and he wasn't too bad, and then two other kids, one fat and curly haired, and his "shtick" is liking guns, and a bratty little girl with the most annoying RP accent ever.  Perhaps since I've gone all Scotch recently I haven't got the stomach for this sort of thing any more - cute old sitcom grandad comes round for dinner with the family and brings with him some old Scottish codger and the little girl (who is about seven) keeps saying "I can't understand a word you're saying!" in that imperious way that the titled landed and ruling classes of England have been saying about Scots since time immemorial.  I wish the old codger had said "Shut your face you patronising little bitch!" just for once.  Just for once, just one time.  He could have been excused for being demented at least?  But oh no.  No, noone answers back because it's supposed to be cute.  And then there was the neurotic friend of the mum, who had bought a goat for someone's Christmas, and it's a goat in Africa, and the horrible little brat spends ages whining about it.  Bring back National Service for sitcom brats.  Bring back hanging.  Bring back burning sitcom brats at the stake.  And when the credits rolled, I found out that the fat curly brat was called "Tyger Drew-Honey" oh what fresh hell is this!!!!!  It's up there with Hero Fiennes-Tiffin, what the hell are people doing naming their children like this???  Boil up the oil now for that kid's name alone, never mind his precocious bratty acting.  

I won't watch it again, my blood pressure couldn't take it. 

Other reviews - I'm reading "Dawkins Delusion" by Mr and Mrs McGrath.  It's all a bit "No shit Sherlock", but I'll keep reading. 

Other news - I went to Edinburgh in the evening in the hope of attending church.  The church was closed.  It had a sign on the door saying "Services at 11.00 and 6.30" but they were LYING!!!!  And there was nothing about it on their website.  There will be a stiffly worded email about this to the website, you mark  my words, seethe seethe. 

Things to snigger about

Because of landing up in the Switzerland vanilla-pudding atmosphere of Facebook (where anything I say might well offend someone) I will have to muse here instead.

-There's a BBC Alba (Gaelic channel) programme called "De Anis". Everytime me and my other'arf see it we laugh our heads off in a Beavis and Butthead style. Could it be an hour long Gaelic programme that's an examination of the anus? Like, here's someone's arse-cheeks dancing along to some sleazy seventies music? Nah. Gaelic is never reminiscent of English. But to us ignorant Sassenachs, it's hilarious. There's also Pinkaidh-Dinkaidh-Du. I know that the "-y" sound at the end of "Ceilidh" is spelt "idh" so this programme must be "Pinky-Dinky-Doo" pimped up for Gaelic-speaking toddlers. Don't know they're born those Gaelic speakers!!

(I can't put the above on Facebook cos I have two nice lady lesbians from Oban on my friends list. They might think I'm dissing the language of their community.)

-Another news story was that there's a consignment of heroin in Glasgow infected with the Anthrax bacteria and it's killed two heroin addicts already, and the police warning on the telly was for other heroin users to "be alert" to the dangers. Huh?? Surely the whole point of class-A drugs was to NOT be alert? It makes them sound like upstanding and vigilant pillars of the community. "I'm a fine law abiding and alert heroin abuser!" Yers. Just struck me as daft really.

That's bound to offend somebody on Facebook.

Today I had an old school friend round for lunch. It went very well. She brought pressies for the kiddies, and she met my other-five-eighths for the first time. She came out with me to the pub! So I've seen a pub on the inside! Great. Now my other four-tenths is out at the pub with our nextdoor neighbour.

Today I made not one but two new school gate friends. There I was watching my girl go into school and two Irish parents accosted me, one is the mother of Tully's new friend and the other is a father of twins, so they weren't parents of the same kids. The woman is called a surname associated with Doctors (think Richard Chamberlain in the sixties) and she works... as a GP! What are the chances! Haha, it's like coming across a Mr Who who has just qualified as a doctor. I'll be sniggering about that for a long time. She said to me "You'll find it's hard to find a big enough house in this town, that's why we bought in Bo'ness", so I guess she looks at me as a middle-class Eloi like herself rather than a cave-dwelling Morlock. I guess I've moved from London, they must think we're the kings of the world, the banker wanker types with all the money. Would that it were, would that it were, ping, tussock, and fourpence.

The man was nice, and told me his kid's names and then I thought, come on people, we used to have names before we were parents of children and I got their first names out of them and told them my own. It's funny, but when you choose your kid's name it seems a very egotistical thing to do, to name a new human being, but the thing is within about a day you become that name's Mum and sometimes don't get to share your own first name at all! Oh hi, I'm X's Mum, hi I'm Y's Mum. It's important to pick a good name.

My friend in another local town knows a girl called Porphyria. I'm not kidding.

Well I know two school gate dads now and this one is at the same school. He's a tiny little man. A little short guy with glasses, and he leaves the school ground and gets into a massive people-carrier type Jeep thing. It's all too big for him, bless. Can I be any more patronising? He has an Irish accent. The school gate is usually full of English accents. Lots of mixed marriages, someone joked with me, lots of English people married to Scottish people. I'm glad I suppose, means we don't stand out. I wonder if there's anywhere in Britain where you get looked at a bit funny for not being from round these parts?

The up side

Sorry if I've been a Moaning Minenwerfer of old Linlithgow town lately.

I like the idea of reinventing myself; if I have no friends it means I can learn to be someone different. Someone who isn't so pathetically dependent on other people for happiness and self-worth. Maybe it will drive me back to the Holy Bible, a book I've been avoiding like a heathen of late.

I've set myself a goal of joining something new every night I'm able to go out. So, today I met an old school friend from way back. And on Thursday I'm going carolling with the new church we went to on Sunday. It might be grisly and horrible, or it might be great fun, singing to people in pubs. It's real balls to the wall evangelism, god-bothering in pubs. On the other hand, it's meeting Christians AND getting to see what the pubs in this town are like, two birds with one stone. On other nights this week I have vague hopes of doing something sociable in Edinburgh. Maybe a book club, a writer's group, something. I might see if I can join an orchestra, a fiddle society, a choir, something like that. I could go to my college and look in the buddy book for names of local buddies working towards the same exams. I met a delightful guy in London doing that, we went out twice in the college car and then my son messed with my mobile and I lost his contact details and then moved to Scotland, so that was the end of that. But it was good while it lasted. Being a driving instructor is all about getting into cars with complete strangers, it's counter intuitive after all the stranger-danger propaganda but hey! I'm a thrill seeker. I want to find out if there's a CTC club, and if not maybe I'll just put up a card in the library noticeboard, "Unfit woman seeks similar to cycle with in a fairly leisurely style up and down the towpath". I don't want to join a group of hard-bodied cyclists in lycra that makes them look like poisonous frogs who want to do time trials and cycle 300 miles in 50 minutes on their specially pimped rides, sod that. I just want to cycle WITH someone. I want to buy myself a proper violin, one that is suitable for a decent violinist. For my exams I used to hire a decent one from my teacher. My violin is cheap and nasty. Apparently it makes all the difference to have a decent one. Why do decent things have to cost money? Oh well, I'm getting Christmas money. That can go towards it.

I've been friendly at the school gate. There's a woman, let's say H, who sometimes seems really nice, other times seems sarcastic and sneery, I can't quite work her out. Oftentimes I've written people off in London and then got to know them and liked them a lot, so who knows? I must not jump to sudden conclusions. There's a childminder at the schoolgate, who I spoke to yesterday and she looked all discomfited like she couldn't understand why I was talking to her, and then today she was chatting to husband about the same thing, so it's good she knows who I am and who husband is and seems friendly. She is a bit older, has an adult son at university so there are some things I can talk about.

The school nativity play was in the church - the Catholic church. My sister came along to that and as we walked through town, she and I and daughter all sang carols. It was lovely. I like singing, and daughter is great at picking up tunes and can hold them while I sing harmony. I taught her "Angels from the realms of glory" this evening. Anyway. The nativity thing kicked off with a plug for the Catholic high school from the music teacher who teaches at both the primary and secondary. The high school boys had blazers and Zac Efron hair, and played the theme from "Spiderman" and did some jazz improv. It was like, really cool! A proper concert, although slightly off-key with the keyboard here and there. I was sold!!! I want my kiddies to go to that high school now, it would be like High School Musical except with acne and Scottish accents! And then the children did their bit. An entire school of homogenous white faces, all singing cod-Red Indian tunes with feathers and warpaint, and also, some Hawaiian songs from another bunch of altogether white faces. There was something very un-PC and very old-fashioned about it. Who does Red Indian war dances any more?? You'd never have got that in London, in London it's all tales of third world communities in Africa and how the children have raised money for them. Just goes to show how PC things are in London compared to in other parts of the country. I sit there and think "Is this me? Is this my life?" I still feel like I'm trespassing in someone else's world, like I'm visiting a friend with kids in Scotland rather than actually living here and having children at this school and being part of this world.

I haven't seen any school gate totty as yet. Fancying school gate dads is the sweetest taboo.

Anyway, that's my news.

Oh and I'm bitterly disappointed with Freeview. There's nothing on telly, there's only 4 channels that work properly, the rest all jump and skip. So I end up watching things from the library of recorded programmes, like "Gary Tank Commander" over and over. This is a brilliant Scottish sitcom from Greg McHugh. He is singlehandedly teaching my family how to talk Scots. We watch it and then say to each other afterwards,
"Is he deid? He's no deid is he?"
"Talkin' shite!" etc.

It's a lovely sitcom cos it's all about some Scottish squaddies, and the only bits about Iraq are videophone recordings of them dancing about like complete idiots, dancing to Bugsy Malone tunes or Scottish country dancing, and the rest of the show is about them in Scotland on patrols, etc. It's very upbeat, not dark (nobody gets killed in Iraq, and terrorists are "a cheeky bunch") and even though it's an adult show, there's hardly any swearing in it. So the children can watch it and practice their Scots accents. I totally love it.

I can learn to live without cable, oh yes.

"The Queen" documentary

I've always had a neutral/positive attitude about royalty. But now I've watched those documentaries/dramas about the Queen I've finally concluded that the royals are a worthless shower of hypocritical scumbags and I won't be venerating them any more or watching the Queen's speech.

I know it's just a drama, but you could tell from enough of it that it was based on eye witness accounts and people who would have overheard.

I don't like the hypocrisy - like the way the Queen didn't want to acknowledge Camilla as the lover of the Prince - and when they finally met it was all fake smiles and discussions about the flowers in the garden, as if they matter!!! Why should the Queen obsess over duty and being "seen to be" the defender of the faith when she blatantly didn't raise Charles right (or at all, given he went to boarding school), she spoke to mummy and sister every day but couldn't be bothered to visit Charles at his home more than twice in eleven years - she was all formal all of the time, what's the point of duty and being seen to be doing the right thing if you're also tolerating your son being a major poonhound in his youth, and having a mistress throughout his first marriage? I think just be real, just accept your son and his faults, or be open and honest about condemning him for his faults, but this hypocritical hinterland of snubs and pretending to be too busy to see him on formal occasions... it's just wrong. Big fat hypocrites. I just can't be bothered with it. It's a great big soap opera and I now want to switch off.

The only royal I feel vaguely well disposed towards is Prince Harry for making a go of being a proper soldier and doing what his comrades were doing by going to Afghanistan. But I bet in a couple of years time he will be cheating on his anorexic wife with hordes of willing mistresses and I'll be sick to the back teeth of him and all. *Sigh* Vive la revolucion!

Doing alright.

I've been really bad at writing a diary! I lost my new one in the move, for one thing... I have a vague hope of finding it and printing out all my recent Facebook emails and just building up a picture of my life that way. And here, I don't feel like writing much, and then husband's on here all the time with his daft little hobbies. (Most of you know what I'm talking about). And then I've been down and haven't wanted to post anything... and now I've got a cold! Great eh?? Probably caught from sitting in a doctor's waiting room signing up to the doctor, blooming marvellous.

Someone at the airport thinks my husband's the Big Man on Campus and wants him to pin him and maybe take him to the High School dance. (Sorry for the homoerotic imagery, I'm talking of the exciting world of job recruitment, not dating, but it's kinda the same thing...) Is he interested in you? What does he want you to wear to the interview? Smart casual, come as you are? Are you taking your passport in case he whisks you off to Rome in his private jet? Such is the marital tomfoolery that passes for humour round these parts. Anyway, the Airport Guy told husband today that he "isn't messing him around", we all hate that don't we girls? So hopefully there will be a happy union of employer and employee if certain other recruitment processes go as planned.

And perhaps we can pay the rent!!! Woohoo!!!

Yesterday we went to church for the first time. During the worship (some kind of Christian metaphor for "music") there was a woman down the front waving two yellow flags semaphore stylee. We weren't used to this spectacle and I got a fit of the giggles. Later on another woman came up and waved a filmy white flag instead. I wondered if there was a flag-waving rota or flag practice during the week. Where do I sign up? The sermon was a bit slower and less intellectually challenging than the ones I'm used to, but I guess I can get used to anything. And there will be less stories from the lives of men brought up in boarding schools and sent to Oxford and Cambridge for me to fail to relate to. (My church in London is very establishment).

My sales job... is not going too badly. My aunt is willing to host a party. I'm planning one this Friday morning, so it's a chance to go up to people in the playground and I've legitimately got more to say to parents now than just "Cold weather eh?"

The neighbours came round to tea and mince pies yesterday. Neighbour has the same name as two friends I already have, which makes life difficult, and there was another of that name in church! Gah! In Scotland there are only three names to go round I think. They are a couple and the Dad was saying that in his school gate people tend to assume he's married to someone other than his wife cos he's always seen out with a mum friend and her kid. And the wife is perfectly happy with this. This anecdote cheered me. If he is hiding in plain sight and having a torrid affair with the not-wife then at least she's keeping him busy, so I doubt he will also be after me. And if he's genuinely able to be a friend to women and he laughs at people who assume things that aren't there, then that's good too, he will be like Paul my old school gate dad friend. He's just gone up in the trust stakes.

And they didn't try to recruit us into the sleazy village wife-swapping society, so that's another plus.*

They were gunning for Neighbour of the Year, I think. Happy to take husband to the pub, happy to look after any pets we might have, happy for son to be friends with our children. Wow, we've fallen on our feet here. And great crack too. Or craic. The conversation, not the white powder. We found out that there used to be an abbattoir over the other side of the street, a few years ago and it was a Very Bad Thing. The neighbours nearest to it were vegetarians and wrote letters complaining to the council and the abbattoir responded by putting a dead sheep's head on the lawn of their house. Very upsetting to the vegetarians and their little kiddies. And also, a gang of robbers once dumped some sawn off shotguns in the back gardens of the houses and the gardener found it and gave it to neighbour, who got the police to come and take it away. So! Must look out for interesting packages down the bottom of the garden. And make sure that if the children find them first, that they remember not to pull the trigger while pointing it at anyone. I think these were the only two anecdotes of note that ever happened in this street, it's unlikely to occur again. Still, makes you think! In our flat in London we never saw any holdalls full of sawn-offs but then we never had a garden either, swings and roundabouts in this game innit? Funny old world.

*(I'm not saying such an organisation exists, outside of my fevered imagination, but you never know and can't be too careful.)

I only like posting when I'm happy.

Posting when I'm sad/lonely/discouraged/depressed just seems self indulgent and emo.

So - if I say nothing for a while - this is why.

My Great Aunt died and nobody told me.

My Great Aunt was my mum's plaything for a brief phase in 1996. Everyone from my side of the family thought she had died long ago until another great aunt told us that she was still alive, so we looked her up and Mum made friends with her. She is tenuously related to us. She was my Grampa's first cousin. Her brothers went off to the First World War, and she was the only daughter, and she never married but cared for her father, and then for her brother, until they both died, and then lived in council accommodation her whole life, including two care homes in Edinburgh. By the time I knew her, she was in a flat in a council block in Edinburgh. She spoke broad Scots and couldn't understand a word my husband ever said to her - she would look at me and say in a stage whisper "Ah cannae mind a word he's saying." As if he wasn't right there in front of her. My Mum was friends with her, and took her out for days out now and again, until Mum stopped because she couldn't be bothered putting up with my aunt's dour ways, and her unwillingness to be impressed by Mum's yachtie lifestyle. My sister, I remember, called this aunt "a scrubber" so I have ample evidence that my Mum and sister both have a very snobbish side that's none too attractive. My aunt was not alone in the world, I think one of her brothers had children and so she had grand neices and nephews who visited often, so thank God she didn't have to rely on my side of the family, a right shower of bastards. I would have visited more, and seen more of her, if only I hadn't lived 400 miles away. I saw her last back in August, where I went with my friend to visit her while I was visiting Edinburgh. I told her I was coming back to live here, and found her still compos mentis, living in a new care home where she hated the view.

I went back today with husband in tow, hoping to renew our acquaintance, but the staff member on duty said, she was sorry to inform me but my aunt died a few weeks ago. I asked for my details to be passed on to her relatives so I might know more information. I bet I won't hear from them. I think whoever her relatives are, they can't be bothered with me and my lot. My Mum who picked her up and dumped her again and my sister who never visited her, ever. I guess if you look at us that way you'd think we were a right shower of bastards. But I did send her loads of pictures of my children, she met them, for a while her room was covered with pictures of my children growing up so they must have some idea of who I am.

I'll remember her for being tactless, blunt and loud, like when she was with Mum and saw a big fat scary looking dog with similarly feral looking owner, saying "That dog's too fat!" and my Mum said (nervously) "The owner might hear you", to which my aunt said, "AYE, THAT DOG'S TOO FAT!"

I daresay she's up in Heaven now complaining that the view of Heaven from her window is too boring.

I'm sad nobody saw fit to try and trace us - the poseurish, posh side of the family who wouldn't spit on you if you were on fire - but I suppose it's understandable.

In other news - duvets have happily stayed on beds and acted like proper inanimate objects.

Son went to school ashen-faced. Daughter went all jolly and bouncy. Son came out jolly and bouncy, daughter came out tear-stained. She had a good old crying jag when she got home, because she misses her friends. I don't blame her. We watched "Merlin" online - I think all's well with the world now.

A Scot in exile no more!

That's me.

We are here in our house, surrounded by boxes.

Last night, our first in the house, something a bit strange happened and we can't explain it. I put the children to bed and then was woken at 12.52 am by my daughter crying, saying that her duvet was gone. I thought it would have fallen down the side of the bed. I went downstairs to fetch my mobile phone. When I went down I found the duvet from my daughter's bed - and it was in a pile by the table, nowhere near the stairs. I asked everyone in the house and nobody could explain how it got from a sleeping child's bed to the floor downstairs.

It reminded me of pretty much every horror film of a haunted house, where something weird and unexplained happens the first night, and after a while you've got whirling heads, flying knives, disembodied voices saying "Get out", and the rest. I had a pretty sleepless night, I can tell you. I'm hoping nothing else happens like this. In the morning we found the garage door was unlocked too. On further inspection, I think I just got the key wrong. So, perhaps that's fair enough.

When I first moved into my flat in London, I remember looking out the window the first night and seeing a naked, fat man walking past the house at about 2 in the morning and I remember thinking "What the fuck!!!" But that was never repeated, so maybe I just have bad luck on the first nights in new abodes.

I have met three new neighbours, a nice teenage girl, and a pair of dinkies, and a couple with a son a year younger than our daughter, and he goes to the school nextdoor to our children's school. They seem very friendly and nice so far. The woman has the same maiden name as me. It made me feel like I've claimed my birthright in a strange way - here I am in the town that gave me my first name, with neighbours who share my surname, and my ancestors came from a couple of hundred years ago. I was very anonymous and random in London where everyone is from everywhere. But here I've got the right name and background. It's weird. I hope it lives up to the hype.


Yesterday Paul gave me a fiver and on it was written "Love you Dude xxx". (This was payment for something I ordered for him, through my new sales job, not for services rendered, before you start, you filthy minded creatures). I am choosing to believe that he gave me this fiver to declare his undying love for me, but it's got plausible deniability if his missus has his knackers for clackers. He can always say "Oh, that was what someone else wrote, I didn't even know the fiver had writing on it." I think he loves me really.

Ah, such intrigues while away my last few days in London!

Funny how undemonstrative we all are.

Actually I've been hugged more often than I care to mention recently. On Sunday by my church minister, and also by a young handsome Belgian fellow, a theology student of my parish. And he kissed me on both cheeks, all continental style, made me come over all unnecessary, haha. I bet all the young lasses in church were dead jealous of me.