Archive for the ‘funny stuff’ Category

Bedroom cricket

Gabe

Gabe and Robin invented the format during the summer holiday – a concession to activity when they were at their most idle. The three of us play (Eliza and L, on occasions, too) but more commonly now it’s Gabe and me. The playing area is the length of Robin’s bedroom. We use a windball and a size 2 bat. Most ingeniously, the stumps are a pair of jeans hung from mattress tipped on its side.

Robin’s carpet makes the game. It takes turn – Warne-like turn for the well-spun delivery. And, given that there is no straight-arm restriction on ‘bowling’ the game is all about turning the ball, or as a batsman, countering that turn. 

Robin

Returning home from work, it might be thirty minutes before Robin registers my presence and appears. Usually, he’s in the living room or his bedroom, interacting with his phone. Recently, I reminded him that when he was younger he would run to the hall when he heard me come in the door from work and hug my knees. “Really?” He said. “I’ll do that again.” True to his word, last week, one evening as I came in the front-door, Robin burst from the living room and hugged me. Possibly, a little ironically, but appreciated nonetheless. 

Eliza

Eliza hosted a sleepover of gymnastics friends. It followed a gymnastics evening, which may have raised hopes that the girls would be tired. We set up two single and a double mattress for the five friends to sleep on in the living room. The rest of the family went upstairs to bed. The girls’ chatter and laughter carried on. Around midnight, the first text from upstairs was sent to Eliza, instructing her to quieten her guests. More agitated texts followed as the hours passed. Eventually, after 3am there was silence in the house.

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Spider in the corner house

Robin

Robin has developed a particular taste in buildings and houses. New or recently built homes find his favour. He has a specific dislike for exposed brickwork. Of two identical houses next to each other, he’ll praise the one with rendered exterior, but not the one with its bricks left open to the world. He has no fondness for old houses. Our own home almost comes into that category, although he likes the dining room and living room. Asked what he has against old houses and he will explain that they are ‘spider in the corner’ homes.

Eliza

Eliza came second in the French spelling bee competition, representing her form in front of the whole of year seven. She practised assiduously for weeks, moving to races against the clock to see how many words (numbers, days, countries, animals, adjectives about personality) she could pronounce and spell correctly in 6o seconds: “lundi, el oo en day ee” etc. She managed 17 at the contest, losing to a twin with a multinational background, and presumably an advantage in all foreign language activity.

Gabe

Gabe still spends a significant chunk of his time at home playing on his Xbox. He has lobbied furiously to be allowed to play Call of Duty like all his friends – and responded furiously when time and again, L and I have refused. He alleges that our intransigence is making him unpopular.

He is allowed to play Halo, another shooting game, but which has a 16 rating, not 18. It has displaced FIFA as his preferred game. We can usually hear him playing as he’s communicating – laughing and chatting – with his friends on multi-player mode, not sounding unpopular at all.

-ington

Eliza

An idiosyncracy of Eliza’s, perhaps picked up from her new group of school friends, is to add in jovial conversation -ington to any words she wants to emphasise. “Time for breakfast-ington.” “Can we go in the car-ington?” “That’s annoy-ington”. Which we have all come to agree with.

Robin

Robin whistles as he flits around the house, buzzes around outside, or sits not very quietly doing his homework or eleven plus preparation. There’s not usually an identifiable tune, just a shrill breath.

Gabe

Gabe will be whistling soon as well. He has started a referee course, which has the dual attraction of fulfilling part of his PE GCSE and earning him money. He returned home from the first day of the course unenthused. There had been a lot of standing around – witnessed by Robin and I when we were playing football on the same field. For up to an hour, Gabe and his peers were stood apparently practicing meeting the captains and tossing the coin.

Camp

Gabe

Gabe joined 90% of his school year on a five day camping trip that rounded off his term. We heard nothing from him for the whole week and didn’t know what to expect when he came back from his first ever experience of camping. 

He was tired, but generally positive about the camp when he got back. The worst point had been sleeping one night, not under canvas, but shelters that they had made themselves. Gabe said he didn’t sleep at all. He was also unimpressed at his friends’ lack of cleanliness. Unlike them, he had changed his socks and pants daily. The food was also disappointing. Still, though, he had enjoyed the week. Would he like to go camping again, I wondered. “No”, was the clear answer. 

Eliza

Eliza’s final weeks of junior school were occupied by play rehearsals, shows, a school disco, talent show, spelling bee and various other activities that are part of the rounding up of a pupil’s education before they head to secondary school. 

Come the day of the talent show, Eliza turned to L at the school gate and said, “I’ve forgotten my costume.” 

“What costume?”

But before, L needed to rush home to find this costume, Eliza’s best friend appeared: “Don’t worry. I brought a spare costume, in case Eliza forgot hers.” 

Eliza sat and passed her grade 3 violin exam and at the leavers’ assembly, she was awarded the school music prize for her contribution to the school orchestra and recorder Group. 

Robin

Robin was awarded the coaches’ player of the season award at his football team’s presentation evening. He tried to look nonchalant, jaw jutting and unsmiling, but L was aware that he was nervous beforehand, betraying a hope or expectation that he might be a trophy winner. The coaches gave each player marks out of ten for various skills and likened each player to a professional footballer. Robin, they said, is like Edin Hazard for his ability to “tear opposing defenders to bits.”

3 Finals, 2 extra-times and 1 penalty shoot-out

Gabe

Gabe’s football season ended with three finals – two with school and one with his club. The first was entirely one-sided affair in all respects except the score. Despite oodles of possession and pressure his side couldn’t conjure a goal. Mid way through the second half, the opposition broke away and took the lead. There was an equaliser and then two periods of extra time when both sides struggled with fatigue. Onto penalties, and Gabe was one of the cool-headed players, tucking his penalty away to the keeper’s right, to contribute to a 5-4 victory. 

A week later, Gabe played in school finals on the Monday and Friday – both at Man United’s training ground. The first was a comfortable victory. The second saw Gabe’s school go 3-0 behind in the first 10 minutes; then 4-3 up at half-time; 4-4 at full time, with his school getting the winner three minutes from the end of extra time. 

Gabe has won every game of football he has played this season. 

Robin

Robin played three cricket matches in six days, including his hard-ball debut. He managed the distinction of taking wickets for three different age group teams in one week. He has decided that hard-ball cricket is the way to go. 

Eliza

Eliza and L have an act, based on a Little Britain sketch where a shopkeeper shouts up the stairs to his wife whenever a customer asks a question. “Margaret” he shouts shrilly, and she responds in a similar high pitch. And this is exactly how L and Eliza negotiate any downstairs to upstairs communication. Eliza doesn’t need to put on an act to get the squeaky high pitch response. 

GCSE options

Gabe

For weeks since the announcement of the GCSE options Gabe has pondered his selection and sought advice and a sounding board. The scope for choice was limited but Gabe did seem to consider every permutation. He quickly set himself against triple science, but there were voices at school telling him that a bright lad should do this, so he wavered. Music and history were two choices he stuck to throughout. A second modern language could only be taken outside of school hours. This Gabe also committed to – far more strongly than the school, who would review depending on take up. The mandatory technology had to be cookery as all the rest were too boring. The final choice oscillated between RE and Business Studies and sometimes triple science. 

We talked about finding an easy subject to counterbalance the work of an extra language. PE suddenly entered the picture. But what if the school won’t offer the second language, challenged L – that’s a lot of non-academic subjects. And so, with school’s approval we submitted alternate options, depending on the second language: PE with it; Business Studies without. 

Eliza

Eliza has up to seven books on the go at a time. One she reads on her kindle, another she reads herself at home (usually an old favourite), one she reads with L, one she reads with me. One or maybe two for different purposes at school and a seventh somewhere in the mix. 

Robin

Robin is a noisy blighter. From being summoned to bath until being coaxed into bed, he sings, squawks, repeats catch phrases in silly voices – all to himself unless he can find a companion. I wonder if the relative quietness of the rest of us oppresses him?

Tenses

Gabe

Gabe’s questioning has recently veered towards a particular and new topic: verb tenses. Sometimes he wants to know how a tense is constructed in French, other times it’s to understand what it is in English. “How do you make the pluperfect in French?”. “What’s the future conditional in English?” French classes at school have prompted this curiosity, not just about the foreign language, but his own as well. L and I are learning for a second time.

Robin

Sitting with Robin as he watched the end of a familiar movie, he suddenly hid his face from the screen and began groaning. “Kissing. Yuck” he complained. I asked why he objected and didn’t he like Mummy kissing him. Hugging, ‘yes’ he replied, but not kissing.

Eliza

Struck by a bug or dodgy food, Eliza had a restless night that culminated in her being sick. It wiped her out for the whole of the last weekend before school term restarted – stomach pains, temperature and fatigue. She faces missing the first day back at school, which would be the first day she has missed at junior school after three years and one term.