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September 2005


We had scuttlings, you see. And gnawings. Audible, grunchy type of gnawings.

We didn't do anything about them.

We thought they might go away.

Then, one night, a phut.


The lights flickered, at the same time as the Phut!

Another Phut! The very next night.

The next night: Phut! Phut! Phut!

Oh, arse.

The Nicest electrician In The World Ever (TM) told us he'd seen it before, many times. Rats. There was nothing he could do until the rats had been killed.

Double arse. Which led us to the position last Friday as soon as Nora had gone down for her afternoon sleep of ripping up the carpet, desperately trying to remove ancient and knackered floorboards without destroying them and seeing, horror of horrors and incredible site. The main electricity cable running from one set of plugs through to another set, and the extension had been gnawed through *completely*. Small white and red flashes buzzed at two points in a black and charred ruin of plastic. Yet no dead bodies strewn about, as we'd expected.

At this point, we had a mild panic, turned the electricity off, called TNEITW (TM) who - and get this, on a bank holiday weekend Friday afternoon, said that he couldn't come over until he'd finished the job he was doing (5-ish) but would come straight over, having sensed the urgency of the situation. What a guy.

So. Nora out of the house with Mummy to the Library for the afternoon and a special treat of tea out, at her favourite cafe while TNEITW comes over and sorts out said wiring for.... £35.

Blimey. There must be a God.

And so I put Noodle to bed, whilst hearing frantic bangings from the front room, where Daddy has been placing several bowls of rat poison below the floorboards, nailing them down and tacking down the carpet.

Since then, we have, yes, heard scrabblings. But they're getting a lot less frequent.

The moral to this story, dear reader, is do not let your wince-y tendencies get in the way of dealing with rats. You'll have to kill them eventually and throw all your vegetarian-friendly tendancies to the high winds, so you might as well do it when they haven't nearly burned down your house.

Giant spiders

Not quite as big as the one when I was little, that wouldn't fit in to the rim of a pint pot to be rescued (an old style, handled pint pot, mind you).

But we've been invaded by the bloody things! Autumnal scuttling spiders that like living under sofas, but at unexpectedpoints inthe evening will suddenly appear, running at breakneck speed toward *the exact spot you are sitting*, or even worse, will appear, apparition like, over the side of the sofa arm, causing you to jump ten feet in the air.

We've had three so far, all of which I have singularly failed to catch / rescue / throw outside and abandon to the night. Piss off you horrible bloody things!

Lunch date

Well. I had lunch today with an ex bloke who I realised I went out with *twelve years ago*. Groan. And yet those memories are... uh... generally clear, thank God. If I counted back 12 years from 23, I don't think I'd remember any boyfriends. Or much of anything apart from playing the part of "Scrooge" in the school play.

Anyway. It was, as I suspected, really nice. John always was very affable, and so we spent a nice hour not really reminiscing much at all, and talking about the inevitable - getting old and out of touch. Though this is slightly more difficult for John since he's the assistant music editor of a magazine. He recommended some music to me, and enthused massively about the hip hop type stuff coming out of London these days so I will dutifully investigate.

John's got two kids now too and owns a house in Walthamstow. A whole, grown up House. Bastard!

Right then

This is ridiculous. Half the people I know know, and half the people I know don't know. The point is I'm up the duff. It's about 3 weeks to go before the magic 12 weeks date but I'm feeling so pig sick all the time, not to mention knackered, that to try to pretend everything's normal on here (because work people see it) is a farce.

I'm at the nadir of sickness atm and it's *really not nice*. This time around, at present I feel rather like I'm in a phoney war. I'm not bigger than I would be if I'd just stopped losing weight (well, which I have, somewhat) and the only things I've got to show that I'm "with child" are feelings of white-face inducing nausea and constipation. Ah yes. Constipation. Those who were with me the first time around will recall the battles with this somewhat debilitating nightmare. The point is, you see - it isn't "blockage" as such, it's that your muscles simply stop working. Nothing will come out! You could be eating raw wood for fibre content, and it would make no difference. I mean, I eat 2-4 pieces of fruit per day, I have a high fibre cereal every morning, with added seeds, dried fruit and linseeds, I eat rye bread, and have vegetables with my lunch (thank you McK) I mean we're talking probably the most tediously healthy diet from a fibre perspective you could dream of. And yet I have constipation.

This leads me to the inevitable horror of imagining what it would be like if I had white bread toast, sweets, a MacDonalds for lunch (etc). I don't think I'd actually go to the toilet until next May!

Yes, right so live date is around April 7th, which pleases work no end. First scan'll be in a couple of week expect though no sign of St Georges actually organising that so like last time, I'm sure I'll just phone them up and make the appointment myself.

I want to go for the having it at home thing again - hold on, the point being that even if it doesn't work out, I get continuity of care from the same midwife for the entire thing, plus I just have to work at home for my appointments, rather than trudging all the way in to St Georges and trudging back. Y'see, there's method in them thar hills. The plan we think is that Nora'll go and stay with Tod for a couple of days, which is desperately sad, but at the same time, I don't think she'd be very happy to hear me screaming my head off for - oh, God. 42 hours.

42 hours! "They" say it's easier 2nd time around don't they. I will reserve judgement.

A message for no.2. Hello. You may think, reading this that being pregnant with you was not an enjoyable experience. Well, you'd partially be right. I've no doubt later on, when you are more settled in, it will be lovely and comfortable at least up until week 28 or so. At present however, your presence is literally, making me ill. But, I can tell you now that if our experience with your sister is anything to go by, we'd go through a lot worse than this to have you come out the other end. Does this sound convincing? :)

"The Iron Giant" plus Joe Ranft

Eventually, after far too many years, I saw this last night.l

It's a great, great film and I'd highly recommend you seeing it, regardless of whether you have kids. It is manipulative, of course (what children's animation wouldn't be) but the script is so good, and the film so obviously loved and etched with sweat and a tight budget by its creators (not that you notice anything cheap about it) that you can forgive that. Besides which, the only reason the manipulation works is because they've done such a great job on the robot in the first place.

See it, is what I'm saying.

On the subject of animation, i only just caught up with an email from my brother, relating to me that Joe Ranft has died. I would never have hear had he not told me. He was one of the main story guys at Pixar and certainly one of the major reasons they are where they are today.

It turned out that, rather sweetly, he also ended up doing the voice for the caterpillar in "A bug's Life", and therefore uttering the only line I can remember in the whole film: "I'm a beeeeeooootiful butterfly". I always wondered whether that was a homage to Eric Carle.

Anyway. It sounds like he was a remarkably lovely person, as well as a hugely talented storyteller, and so we are all worse off without him.

Country walk

A long time ago, we bought Nora one of those "backpack" seat things to allow us to go on the numerous country walks we were planning to take her on.

Yesterday we managed walk no.3. Apart from nor probably not quite having enough to eat because she was too exausted to have tea when she got home (although she had been snacking all afternoon), it was an absolutely spiffing day, trudging through National Trust forests and fields full of sheep (hilarious, obviously) in order to get back to the place where we'd started - Hazelmere. the amazing thing is just now not bored at all Nora was all day. When she did get a bit fed up, there was always the option of hitting the back of Daddy's head, which made up for it.

But what a glorious day. Peace and quiet; baa sheep, moo cows, ducks and horses.

You can't say fairer than that.

Snowman update

So talking to my Father last night, about the "he died" issue, Mr McK was listening and interrupted, as John wasexplaining to me that I should say he melted, and that I can demonstrate melting with an icecube.

Mackay butted in and said to me that on the way back from the plupatoo (paddling pool, remember) yesterday, Nora twisted round in her buggy, looked at him and exclaimed "Nowman melted".

She got it. I will amend as necessary. Death can come later, when our supposedly elderly cat (she looks as healthy as a 7 year old if you ask me, but she's currently er... well, approximately 12) pops her clogs. since she never goes out, and as I've suggested, is a glossy coated and happily purring mouse catcher, I don't think she's in any danger of doing that until Noo's about 8.

Much to Mck's chagrin.

Snowman! Big book! Snowman!

Nora is obsessed with "The Snowman".

Trouble is, she's obsessed with a horribly truncated version that - sacrilege! Has WORDS. The little boy is called James, apparently. Bah! Though the words were written by Raymond Briggs, it seems to defeat the whole purpose of this beautiful classic. thankfully, the words are all at the bottom of the page, so you can ignore them completely. Not only that, but in this version, and a board book version I have seen, the story is cut down to such an extent that when the Snowman runs and flies off with "James", he spends one frame flying about, then comes back down again since it is miraculously sunrise!

What? Where's the gathering of the Snowpeople? Where's the big dancing circle? Come to that, where are the extra, beautiful frames when the two are simply flying, gracefully, up-up-up in the sky but most heinous of all... Where is Father Christmas!

The other highly edited part is inside the house. The Snowman does not get to cavort on the big coffin freezer or do silly things with taps and ice cubes. It's just not good enough. So, I have purchased the longform version of the book (at least I bloody hope it is) from Amazon, and in the process found all the other Briggs books we no longer have / ended up so battered they have gone by the wayside, etc - so those are all on my wish list. They're a bit old for Nora (though she should be alright with "When the Wind Blows", eh?) so we'll be buying them gradually over the years. What joys to come: Father Christmas *and* Fungus the Bogeyman, to name but two.

With the exception of The Snowman, I find it weird that someone like Raymond Briggs isn't afforded the status of say, a Roald Dahl. I'm not suggesting that they write books which are comparable, but it's yet another example of how a master craftsman can write hilarious, beautiful and moving graphic novels, yet these are not recognised as the genius they are, apart from by the avid readers. Thankfully with Raymond Briggs he gets many, many more readers than most. For anyone who hasn't read his *masterpiece*, you absolutely must get "Ethel and Ernest". I think I'm right in thinking that if I were to list my favourite books of all time, that would be in the top 10. It's an extraordinary, moving and beautiful piece of work. I mean, I can't overplay just how good that book is. It's the story of his Mother and Father, basically. Nothing particularly terrible happens - just life moves on. But it's like a gentle song. My word, and he draws the house they lived in for so long so evocatively. I see those houses in South London, with their white bricks poking from underneath the roof eaves.

BUY IT is what I'm saying.

Plus, Raymond Briggs is a really, really decent bloke too. Which can only be a Good Thing.

So. Getting back to Nora. The first time we read it together, I had some difficulty holding it together at the end when the Snowman dies (so sue me, I'm easily touched), but now can read it sensibly, and I say that the snowman died. I'm quite matter of fact about it, but also that it's ok, because next time it snows, the little boy can make another snowman, who will be different, but he'll love him just as much. What I don't say is any stupid nonsense about him still being alive in heaven - eesh. I don't want her to be confused by these old fables at her age. The interesting thing is the limit of her understanding. I don't think she basically "gets" it, at this point, at all. However, she will, and when she does, she has had the death of the snowman explained to her calmly, and without overdoing it, and also that the little boy will move on and so forth, many times before.

I don't know, you know. I can't think of a better way of doing it - can you? I mean the end of that book is heartbreaking. But she loves it. And I so, so love that she does.


Nora bumped her head in the backdoor frame on Saturday.

Cried for 30 seconds, stopped. although it was a very red and VERY bumpy. Didn't want any cold water on it. Nope.

Sunday, she tripped over her feet in the bathroom and fell headlong against the toilet bowl, causing the kind of bump that made the one before look like a mere mark. The bit just above the middle of her eyebrows now looks blue, and she has a hint of black eye today.

She still didn't want any cold water. But she did cry for longer than 30 seconds. Ouch.