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July 2007
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September 2007

Nora versus Bob the Builder

No contest.

I was right to be voicing my slightly nervous concern to a fellow mother, at the preamble to the "Live!" Bob the Builder show at the Science Museum today. Nora was sitting on her own but surrounded by similarly parentless kids, and seemed to be talking to Bob's "Helpers" confidently... as soon as supersized, foam Bob appeared, she needed to be sitting on my legs, in a protective mummy-sphere, after looking like she was well on the way to bursting in to frightened tears.

I'll tell you what it's all about, with Noo. When she, along with other kids, was asked to perform a specific task, she loved it. She loves joining in, in small, discreet tasks. Particularly tasks where she can identify with the adults or older kids in some way (oh, how I recognise my young self in her, sometimes) but mostly, simply anything to do with problem solving, where she can practically help, and become involved with a smallish group of kids, with no freaky foam-and-fleece 8 foot cartoon characters blundering about). She was genuinely freaked out by 8 foot Bob.

It's difficult because you never know what children's plays will work for her, for example. There's nothing I would rather do than take her to see plays - to take advantage of one of the very positive outcomes of living in the capital. But would she completely freak out if anything disturbing happened - even if only in the realms of a strange puppeteered character appearing, for example?

Anyway. It's been (deliberately) an age since we took her to something of that nature, and it's sad to find that she's still disconcerted by performance. When that aspect of life is so meaningful to both of us, and I *know* given the person that she is, that she loves that kind of thing on a personal level, I hope very much that we can continue to gently introduce her to performance. I really, *really* don't mean in order to transform her in to a childhood stage school loony, by the way. Christ, no.

Writing this up, it seems clear to me that the answer is more, not less.

The size of James

The size of James is as follows:

He's at about 83 cm, having grown about 5 cm in the last 4 months (that sounds so fucking mad, doesn't it?  I mean can *you* imagine doing that???).This suggests he may hit 90cms as a minimum by the time he's 2.

That means, according to the skills of Google's automatic cm/inches translations that wellllll basically he's going to be 6ft.A little bit less if he only hits 90, but in all likelihood given that he's got 8 months before he's 2, it'll be a bit more than 90.

According to the world and his wife, or mother (mine, for example, as well as my next door neighbour), you double the height at 2 for the height of the adult male of the species. If the child in question is human.

Oh, and at 17 months, James is 1 shoe size below Nora.

Who is 3 n 3/4's.

Oh, the day will soon come when Noo can no longer grab and drag young James hither and thither. When he really starts to fight back (as opposed to pushing her occasionally) I dread to think of the crying and shouting. Ayeesh!

Raising my hand

Been a bit...

Not sure exactly. But went in to a shell somewhat. Probably due to a specific disappointment which triggered a whole bunch of stuff, including, and not including aspects of relatively recent events, crap-life-stuff wise.

Anyway. Sorry if you've sent me a mail and i haven't replied to it recently. I've also lied slightly to cover myself on this. ahem. well. You know... sorry about that. Just had a bit of an 'off' period (during which I entirely refused to log in to my email for more than several weeks). What can I do.

Anyway. Back, in at least normal form as far as I'm concerned this year. I shrug my shoulders and say hey, so you've never suffered depression? What.. you mean you actually haven't? You bloody weirdo.

Think yourself lucky.

Funny thing I just read

"Often before the age of two, children will have started walking and by the time they reach two years, will be able to kick and throw a ball. By the age of about four, they will have enough balance to be running confidently."

James can often be found trying to jump with both feet off the ground. He likes to run.. away. Without looking back.

Later on in the same article it suggests that kids should have 20 words by 18 months! Well, to that piece of sterling advice I say the by now traditional: "It depends:.
-Nora: oh. so many more than 20 I can't remember now, but, only learned to walk at 14 months
-James: Running at 14 months; "Baw", "Bubble" "Mamama" at 16. Something tells me that 17 new words are not going to magic themselves out of the air in the next 6 weeks. My prediction is the old Yes/No combination should come soonish. "Thank you" is discernible in noise form and "Nora" is a definite 'on the way'.

But my point being, I'll be looking to how much James is talking by the age of 2. 18 months, he's still far too wrapped up in physical development to both with any of that nonsense.

I am posting extraordinary amounts of burble tonight. I'm supposed to be clearing my crap out of the study and not succeeding.

James' skin, allergies etc

Did I say that James tried some cows milk when we were on holiday, and had a frightful if fleeting bumpy rash round his right eye, and his neck?

I don't think he's going to be drinking cows milk any time soon.

As perturbing, if not as violent is that Jamie currently has small red rashy bumps and flat areas of red over his belly, back, neck and forearms. His forearms have been rough for a few weeks, but his tunny was relatively recent. backs of his knees starting coming up yesterday too.

Call me an uninformed person in this regard if you like, (and I am) but whilst some of it looks eczema like, a lot of the bumps just don't. They look 'reaction' like, and if you were to maintain a loose definition of what eczema is (ie: a sort of sore dermatitis type thing which comes about as a result of being in contact with a reactive substance of some sort) then it's definitely eczema. However, I asked Mackay, did you ever have eczema like this when you were a kid? and he shook his head. I knew friends with eczema and it looked absolutely nothing like this.

James, meanwhile toddles on oblivious, whilst we struggle to put goop on him, never quite managing the twice a day that he so obviously needs (his skin was like parchment in places, around the bumpy bits, earlier on today).

I think we need to get him to the Docs, and also to get my health insurance through work to pay for him to get a thorough allergy test breakdown. If we can work out what is affecting him so much, then we might be able to at least reduce the symptoms.

The big worry for me is whether he's becoming more allergic to goats milk. I don't want him to be drinking soya milk at all. It has oestrogenic effects on the body. I would feel monumentally uncomfortable pouring gallons of it in to a young, growing male body. If it is lactose that he's dodgy with, then you can get specially treated cows milk these days which is "virtually lactose free". well, it can't be any more expensive than bloody goats milk anyway.

Anyway. the best thing about all this, as I say, is that James meanwhile bumbles and gurgles along regardless. It could, after all, be a lot worse.

Rest in peace, Anthony H Wilson

First of all, I should say that part of the reason I have strong feelings about Tony Wilson's death is that in a way, he reminded me of my Dad. He died of cancer of the kidneys, today and that makes me doubly sad. Not only that he has died, but that he died of such a shitty, craphouse thing. I saw a photograph of him a month or so back, and I knew he didn't have long. I think you only need to see death once, in the face of someone you love, to then recognise its evil signature wherever you see it. Death had already claimed Anthony H Wilson.

Tony Wilson reminded me of my Dad because he had a strange, knowing charisma that shot through any room he was in. If he was around, all social gravity revolved around him. He had immense self assurance,and was not a small man, either - you knew when he was around, not only because you felt his cocksure energy, but because he physically dominated the room. He was an intellectual, but also a devourer. A sucker-in of anything and everything. Lending his love, or his hate (this is the John connection - things with Wilson were either amazing, brilliant - the best thing he'd ever heard, or they were total shit, and not worth wasting the mental energy on) to whatever cultural goings on were... going on. but so, so much more than that.

It cannot be overstated the incredible influence Tony Wilson had over the cultural life, not only of Manchester, but quite possibly the UK in its entirety. For a time, the output of his labours dominated the charts, and even those who did not join Factory (The Smiths being the obvious contenders there, but also of course the Roses) could be said to have only gained prominence because of the pioneering work he did, pushing the musical arts in Manchester - pioneering.

When I moved up to Manc, one of the pilgrimages one had to make was to the Factory building. At that point covered head to foot in Happy Mondays posters (for "bummed", I remember). then the Dry Bar, just off Piccadilly (and down the road from a very fine 2nd hand record shop). And of course, the Hacienda. Factory not only dictated Manchester's social scene, but it dominated its cultural way of life. something immensely important to north-westerners - a sense of superiority over Liverpool.

Tony Wilson was a passionate man. He presented arts programmes to promote the things he loved, and he started a label, as a (positive) reaction to the first Mancunian Sex Pistols gig. What happened next was almost uncontrollable once it been got going..

Damn I'm too tired to carry on. Day at the seaside. Exhausted.

The man was an icon not only in Manc but everywhere. A name synonymous with hard work, gravitas and cockiness. He had a lot to be cocky about.


I was very sad last night so ignored the downsides of Tony Wilson. Taken as a whole, they were... well, unfortunately they were important to everyone around him, but not important enough to him. He was so confident, so sure that Factory was of such importance, no one would ever fuck them over, everyone would believe and they were building creative castles that could not be blown down.  Unfortunately, when an outsider looked at their books for the first time, their hair went white (I know, I talked to him!). He was a financial disaster area, and he didn't bother encouraging anyone else to fill that gap. His brand of confidence was so brassy that oftentimes, people would wince. He was almost American in his bravura - something that the English don't take to very well. But - and this is very important - he was also very funny.

And he had great taste in women, too, as I remember.

Listen - his downsides were human, but his upsides were fantastic. He wasn't a brain surgeon, Nobel Prize winning scientist or a Shakespeare, but what he had was a glorious sense of enthusiasm, a creative energy and a brilliant ability to pull things together. Manchester, and music in this country, would be a much, much more dull place if he had not been there to help rev it up. I was reminded by John Harris on the Today programme this morning that when you got to the box office at the Hac, there was a framed picture of Wilson greeting you at the door. What a gloriously stupid thing to do. Heh.

Holiday notes

(Watching TV aside)

That "Heroes" thing is quite good, innit. Not as good as the pre-terrestrial hype from folk who'd downloaded it months ago, mind you. It reminds me a bit too much of Grant Morrison written X-Men. We need a Zorn!

It already feels like the holiday is drifting from my memory. We were staying in a forest in Cornwall which had activities (for an extra quid here and quid there) including a naturalist sticking up a moth trap then investigating the contents, then taking us with a bat detector for a wander round the lake. Nora got to stay up extra super late, and saw a 3 to 4 inch moth! Beautiful creature. We learned the way to pick up moths without hurting them. I'm presuming that it would be the same for butterflies, but there again, don't count on it. What you do: gently get your forefinger, and place it right in front of the moth, so you're kind of forcing it in to a position where it has to clamber on to your finger.  Er... that's it.  Obviously, you don't touch the wings.

Anyway. Nora also saw BATS. Many pipistrels, and at least one long eared. It did not make her that excited. They were too fast. She loved staying up late, mind you. A hedgehog scrumbling in the grass below our window meanwhile provoked squeals of delight. So did the ducks, waddling past our balcony, and the GIANT sized carp in the pond.

It rained, mildly, on and off, but we also had the exquisite joy of a playful beach at Looe, with a laid back, seasidey atmosphere, and two kids squealing with delight as they splashed in and out of the sea.

It was a good holiday. As James gets older, they can only gget better, and easier in some ways - more difficult in others, of course!