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Going away for ten days

To my Dad's in the south of France.

I really don't feel comfortable travelling with James being this young, but sometines when McK gets an idea in his head, there's no point trying to say no really.

As I've said to him, I don't really expect to have much of a holiday myself, given that I'm tied to James every three-ish hours during the day but I'll tell you what I do expect, and that's feeding James, then handing him to McK for looking after / messing about / taking for a walk to sleep so I can get some rest. Often.

I feel ashamed saying this too, and I'm trying hard to prevent myself from feeling worried about it, but James hasn't has his stage one immunisations yet, and we're going through an international airport. We're so fucking sstupid that we booked the flights before he was born, and then he arrived in such a way that the holiday is bang on week 8. Twats!

Anyway. See you in 10 days, all things being equal.

Gurgling... we have gurgling

And full on beaming smiling, which pleased Nora enormously. She spontaneously announced, "I love James".

Nora meanwhile seems to have decided that she can play on her own perfectly happily, as well as draw incredibly intricate and full on 100% coverage scribbles using all the different colours of her "very washable" felt tips on any paper surface available. The look of concentration whilst achieving this task is something to behold.

Nora's beginning to even out more and get used to the new ways things happen, but she still has her moments. At this point in time, she's sniffling to herself in the cot, having decided that she doesn't like the bed. That is to say, she was exceptionally tired, wouldn't go to sleep and like the idiots we are, we haven't removed the cot from the room and so she decided that sleeping in there was preferable.

Sigh. First task on return - disassemble the cot.


Having read Harry thompson's Fitzroy book (expressing milk of an evening gives an ideal opportunity to read) I'm glad I did. Unsurprisingly, it comes over ass written by someone involved in TV. It has "Sunday serial" written all over it, but it is so long. In another era it would have come out in 2 volumes, but instead it was simply massive in scope, covering from the moment the previous captain of the Beagle shot himself, through all the Fuegian Indians business and up to the moment when poor old fitzroy himself did the deed.

He took his starting point as being - seeing Fitroy's life as having been one of a manic depressive. How would his behaviour begin from within himself?

The story is so sad, and so incredible, it reads like a novel anyway (and if it had been presented as fiction, no one would have believed it could be true). Fitzroy suffered the most appalling luck politically, coupled with being a somewhat irascible character in himself, which didn't help his journey through life... but when you think of what the man achieved - not simply being a sea captain, but being an astoundingly good one; commanding the total loyalty of his crew even though they knew he had strange episodes; getting them through several astounding storms around Cape Horn, not to mention his genius in working out weather systems... all of that talent ended up washed away down a bathroom sink. Poor man. Really. He never got to enjoy the extraordinary achievements he made.

There are criticisms I have of Harry's book, but i wouldn't dream of going through them. They're relatively minor. To be frank - it's no great masterpiece but it is a reasonable stab at telling an extraordinary story, and for that, it's a good read, well told. There is one incident which is intriguing. I wish I could ask him about it - he describes in acute, horrific detail, the ordeals in terms of "treatment" that Darwin's beloved daughter went through before she died. So appalling were her last days that tears were coursing down my face reading that section. What the hell in blazes Darwin thought he was doing christ only knows. The writing reminded me of a section in "The Cider House Rules" (oh, an astonishingly good book, which you must read, if you haven't). In it, Irving describes in similarly horrendous detail the injuries sustained by several women either going for backstreet abortions or trying to resolve abortions themselves through dodgy "remedies". It's so shocking, in the middle of a work of fiction, it is clear that Irving is taking time out to simply re-write some accurate real descriptions of cases he'd researched, to make the point. What Harry Thompson does is write what happened to Emily Darwin in clinical, angry and disgusted detail. You can feel his horror and his shock pouring off the page. This lovely little girl, who was probably always going to die, instead of dying within the love of her family home, died... ugh.. I can hardly bear to think about it.

Anyway so it turns out that Fitzroy's buried in South Norwood, which is just down the road, so I'll go and investigate that. Second poignant fact was that Harry went to read Fitzroy's account of the Beagle journey in er.. i don't think it was the Bodleian but somewhere of that ilk. And it turned out that in 150 years odd, not a single other person had read that book. Its pages were still folded and uncut (at the reading edge).

The other book I read straight afterward was that book club favourite, "The Time Traveller's Wife", which is an easy, yet very well written read. I won't go in to it too much - pick it up and have a look if you want, but I will say one thing. She deals  very cleverly with the time-travel paradoxes which make te whole thing impossible, simply by not dealing with them. Simply presenting them.

My favourite paradox: who taught Henry how to pickpocket?

Soya apears to be ok

Having done the "no nothing" diet for a couple of weeks, we now begin the "gingerly introduce it and see what happens" diet.

First off: Soya. So... off I go to buy some Cauldron soya sausages. Except the health food shop doesn't have any, and every other product with soy in turns out to also have wheat protein or milk in. Bah! In the end I thought, sod it, and bought some chocolate flavour "Tofitee" or whatever it's called - ie: erzatz ice cream for vegans. For masochists, more like - it's entirely revolting. 1/2 a tub  yesterday, half a tub today and absolutely no raised reaction from hisc nibs. We'll wait till tomorrow morning to judge events but it looks good so far.

Having done the one food product I thought he wasn't going to react to, I'm now in a bit of a bind. Do we go for milk or wheat before going away next Monday to my Dad's house (in France) or do I eat the diet from hell until we come back, so that we can be in control of James' health whilst we're out there?

Uhuhuh.. what do you think?

*smacks head at timing*. Righto. Rice cakes are going to take up alot of space in my luggage then. Arse!

...and still nothing from the paediatrician. I'm phonig the doc's tomorrow so I can get the right hospital department, phone them and ask them what the hell's going on.

The first time ever I saw your face

I know we're programmed to love babies, and to find nothing more wonderful than simply, delicately feeling their tiny wondering fingers play over your face, then kiss the creamy expanse of their tummies...
...but it never prepares you for the full, mallet to the head, struck dumb with aweness of it.

And then I spend time with Nora, my whining, "pay attention to me again!" daughter, and she smiles, or wraps herself around my legs. Today we sang a song together about jumping and dancing. Nora dancing to order, moving her body randomly while I sing; a serious look on her face.

The core feeling never really changes, but the vulnerability has changed. Now I want to bite her toes and tickle her tummy until she squeals with pain and delight at the torture ("No more tickling!").

One of James' loveliest expressions: innocently hopeful. When he is lifting his head up, gently bobbing backward and forward, eyes wide and forehead knitted in to several horizontal lines, looking around in what appears to be total amazement (I'm sure it must be - why wouldn't it be, given that at this age, everything is always new), mouth open and shaped like a tiny "O".

And then he sighs the "Ohhhhhh" with an exhale before looking at me quizzically, one eyebrow raised, Jones style. And then his features soften in to a gentle smile.

Of course, within 20 minutes he'll be telling me how tired he is by screaming his head off. He seems to do nothing by halves. Hungry? JESUS, I'M HUNGRY!!! Tired? HELP ME FOR GOD'S SAKE I'M EXHAUSTED!!! Happy and replete? "Ohhhhhh". Whilst letting his hands bat against various hanging objects as he lies, jiggling on his playmat.

1.13 cait. Get to bed you danm moron. I wonder how Bob's getting on? I'm on Yoz's SMS list...

Nettle tea in"It works, blimey"shock!

Given the available evidence, and taking in to consideration all the available variables at the time, I have to say that the revolting swampwater tea has indeed, made James' eczema a hell of alot better. specifically, it does what it says on the tin - an anti-inflammatory, according to the local health food shop bods.

I don't know why I'm so sceptical of these remedies considering I always try them and invariably they do something good. In fact, I am an inveterate health food shopper. Nevertheless, there I am, deeply surprised when the morning after a day without me drinking any of the tea (I thought he was getting better of his own accord, y'see) a large amount of his red patches had re-widened, and his nasty spots had come up red and angry again - after many of them simply seemed to have disappeared.

Shit! Says I. and so I glugged down 4 cups yesterday.... to find that today again, things are much smoother.

So there you go.

I am a bad mother

I ate all of Nora's delicious natural orange flavoured rice cakes.

It's a bitch this gluten free business, I tell you.

Sorry, Noo.

In other news it appears that my lovely friend who I rarely see, Bob, is in labour. Hopefully I'll be able to report on the new arrival somewhat sooner than I would if it were me in labour. That sounded far to convoluted. But you got it, right?

A large beam of squeezy hand support being zoinked to north London as we speak...

Grant McClennan died

I can't believe this, it's so sad. Grant McLennan (the songwriter and singer in "The Go-Betweens", one of my favourite bands) <a href="">died in his sleep</a>. No warning, no illness, nothing.

That's awful.

He wrote the most beautiful, bittersweet kitchen sink dramas but made them all sound like powerful statements about life.

I suppose if you've never heard them, you could think of an acoustic sort of middle era REM, from an American point of view, or XTC at their most articulate from a UK one - but with very simple, always semi-acoustic and beautifully recorded songs.

Oh dear. they must all be devastated. If you're a fan, <a href="">the official website</a> has a message board on which you can leave your condolences.

...and post visiting the Doc:

She removed any scepticism relating to allergic reactions the moment she saw James, which was a relief but also sad, in that she was genuinely worried about him - we're going to be seen by a Paediatrician within 2 weeks, because she classed it as an emergency that he's seen.


I joked about Munchausen by Proxy - lok! Look how important my child is to me! Look how unwell he is!

Not much of a joke really.  In fact of course in himself he's ok at present. He stopped possetting rather too much for my likign once the symptoms had died down a bit. Somehow he managed to scratch himself properly overnight and a tiny speck of red was on his face this morning.

Anyway. So we've got a mild antibiotic cream for the parts such as his neck and the crooks of his elbows, underarms etc, which as well as the spots are sitting on extremely swollen, red and puffy skin. A little less swollen today, hoorah, except for his neck, which is going to be a complete bugger to cream, and yet also keep the folds free of gunk.

She also said not to bother about removing anything from my diet until he's seen the Paediatrician, but given the evidence: he hasn't actually had another attack, he's been busy dealing with the last one, (since  I went on the cut-out-the-allergens campaign), I think I'll keep on going with the mon medical side of diagnosis / support as well for the time being.

Now you'll have to excuse me, I'm totally shattered and I must go and pump it, as the Black Eyed Peas would say. although possibly not about the same thing.