Archive for May, 2011

FOUR FINGERS AND THIRTEEN TOES – RITES OF PASSAGE

May 28, 2011

There are few things that direct the mind to the march of time than the arrival of a new baby. 

I can almost hear the gossip now … “She kept that quiet, and fancy at her age!”

Well, I’m pleased to say it’s not me, but Steve’s niece who gave birth to a healthy baby boy a couple of weeks ago.  Baby Luke heralded the start of a new generation in our family, a mantle that James has been proud to hold for almost as long as he could talk.

When the news came, I suppose I was just a little melancholy at the memory of all those rows of baby clothes that lined the wardrobe, the boxes of disposable nappies that filled the boot of the car on each shopping trip, and the thought of all those lovely little semi-spoonerisms that kids utter with such ease.

Of course like most parents, we wished we had taken the time to write them all down, if only to cause major embarrassment at significant times of teenage and young adolescent life.  But alas, we will have to rely on memory to “eke” just a small amount of fun from those happenings and events that cause such great merriment to those of us now in the middle-age and older generation.

Rites of passage are a funny thing.  They can create great pride, cause mayhem or make you realise how time flies.

At around about the time that young Luke made his entrance to the world, we received a letter advising that – as a pending school leaver – James would need a national insurance number.  OMG (!!) it suddenly dawned on me that my once dependent child was soon to be old enough to start contributing to the household budget that he had single handedly sent through the ozone layer; and this had been achieved by him consuming vast amounts of food, cost us inordinate amounts in sports club subscriptions and polishing off enough trainers to provide an emerging economic nation with sufficient footwear to get them through at least three Olympic games!

My once dependent child!

Whilst sitting at the dinner table that evening, I realised that James’ Saturday afternoons out with mates, were slightly alcohol filled forays into early adolescence and a little extra use of his Dad’s aftershave was designed to impress the opposite sex.  Everything I had done (not using my Dad’s aftershave I hasten to add!) to a greater or lesser extent over ?!!@?!!  years ago, my son was now doing and enjoying every moment.

A few days later, after I had sort of regained my composure over this rite of passage, I was slapped in the face with another.  The last official school day was over, and a triumphant return from full time education was marked with the school polo shirt signed by all manner of friends and acquaintances – and there were even some teacher’s signatures sending wishes of good luck for the future.

Now, I must confess I cried my eyes out when the primary school polo shirt came home in much the same fashion five years ago, but to see “smiley faces” replaced by “Luv U :)” next to the names of kids I could remember on the first day at school was just too much to bear.

So the polo shirt got lovingly parcelled up and placed with all the other childhood memorabilia and then it was onto the next rite of passage … Preparation for the school prom.

Having bawled my eyes out at the signed polo shirt, I can tell you that the Gents outfitters to which we went to acquire the dinner suit resembled the swimming pool at our local leisure centre by the time we left the shop.  The whole experience was made all the more emotional by the sound of the Alison Moyet track “All cried out” blaring from the HMV store next door.

That left me wondering whether I could cope with the next rite of passage in the form of the holiday “with my mates”.  A couple of weeks ago I had a conversation about this very subject with a few of my “girly” friends, and was reassured when told, that “so long as Mum and Dad are paying, the kids will still want to come away with you”.  But hopefully, I will not have to consider this rite for at least another year.

My now very independent child!

 

I could go on and on about these rites which keep cropping up and how I will cope with them, but I won’t.  Instead, I shall take this opportunity to remind Steve that theatre tickets, romantic weekends and meals out will now be the order of the day. 

So I guess that MY rite of passage has been from “tummy” mummy (and yes, you did read it correctly!) to proud Mum and hopefully in the future (and I sincerely hope the more distant future) to “Nana”.

For the time being I shall have to practice at that latter role with young Luke – ranking behind his Grandma and Great-grandma of course… But hey, the attraction of being transported around on the back of a large dodgem car, by his rather eccentric Great Aunty Rosie, will I hope be just as attractive to the newest generation of the family, as it has been to James and all of his friends. 

We are soon off to meet Luke for the first time and I hope that his Mum and Dad have as much fun at parenthood as Steve and I have been fortunate enough to enjoy.  It’s not over by a long way, but I am reminded of a saying that my Mum told me many years ago “Parents hold their children’s hands for a while and their hearts forever.”

How true that is.

FOUR FINGERS AND THIRTEEN TOES – A RIGHT ROYAL DAY

May 4, 2011

The carriage pulled up outside the Abbey, and Bride’s father lent a gentle helping hand to his eldest daughter as she stepped out of the limousine, and then the ceremony began. 

For one moment, I was transported back nearly 23 years to the day I got married.  It only seems like yesterday that I had my bridal moment and, just like Kate Middleton, embarked on a new life which would bring many challenges and its fair share of sadness, but yields an overwhelming sense of happiness that is hard to put into words.

Dad giving me away... literally!

Most of us have wedding days that are a world apart from the spectacular event that we saw last Friday, but at its heart the sentiments are the same.  A wonderfully uplifting ceremony, people wishing you good luck, a collection of wedding presents that you are not entirely sure what to do with!

It is a day that most Brides never want to end, and just to bring everything back to reality … A hefty bill for the whole event!

It doesn’t matter whether you have been married six months, six years or sixty years; values may change over the years, but the very essence of getting married is to seal your commitment to each other, which of course is marked by a day to remember long after the confetti has been swept away.

In keeping with this sentiment, I think it is important to mark special or significant occasions in a way that you can remember.  For people of my generation, it will be the investiture of Prince Charles (as Prince of Wales) in 1969, the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977 and of course, the great celebrations surrounding the marriage of Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer.  I’m not going to bore you with details of what I did on those occasions, but if you read Four Fingers and Thirteen Toes, you will find out how the marriage of Charles and Diana was celebrated in a small part of Jersey!

For our kids, their generation have only seen one or two major state occasions that they could remember.  Sadly two of them relate to the passing of much loved members of the Royal family – Diana – Princess of Wales, and of course the Queen Mother.  But most recently was the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002.  The Golden Jubilee was the first time the residents of our locality got together and organised a street party.  We were fortunate to have a couple of born organisers who were happy to take on the role of getting the whole thing off the ground and what a day we had … Lots of food, lots of drinking, lots of fun for the kids, and at the end of it, a real sense of belonging to a friendly neighbourhood. 

Unfortunately, time marches on, neighbours’ move, different priorities mean you are drawn in different directions, and so sadly there was no street party to mark this Royal Wedding. 

However, never despair – Rosie is here!  With warm thoughts of how I spent those Royal occasions in the 70’s and 80’s I decided we should organise a Royal Breakfast, where we could munch and drink our way through this memorable event.

We mustered a Moriarty and Simmonds coat of arms, agreed the wording for the invites, and sent them out.  It was to be primarily a ladies event.  After all, no-one enjoys a wedding more than the girls.  So, with tissues at the ready we prepared for the big day.  The table groaned with an array of breads, pastries and “breakfasty” things.  The fridge was packed with the stuff that makes you “hic” very easily, and we even managed to decorate the garden with bunting and Union flags.  It was all very patriotic. 

Our guests arrived in time to see Boris Johnson bumble along the pavement to the Abbey, to see David and Victoria glide gracefully into their pew, and to view the Bride’s mother in all her Middle-England glory lay claim to the biggest prize in wedding one-up-manship – and become mother-in-law to a future King.

We ran out of tissues midway through the morning, a few of us stood as the National Anthem was played, and the few male guests in the house ogled at the second national treasure of the day … the Maid of Honour, and what a Maid she was.

I was quietly triumphant, the Bride was dressed and styled exactly as I’d predicted.  Those of you who have taken time to listen to Rosie “telling it as it is” on Able Radio will know of my predictions; and to those of you who have not – then shame … My viewing figures are dependent on your support!

But I digress – back to the wedding.  I was quite surprised at how patriotic some of my guest really were, and even more surprised that some, who – let’s just say don’t regard the institution of marriage too highly, were moved to tears by the sight of the event.

After the last drop of fizz had been drunk, the last crumb cleaned from the table, and the last guest had left, my mind wandered back to my special day.  Maybe my “Prince” is a little less svelte, and a little thinner on top than he was all those years ago; and my wedding dress wouldn’t flatter my figure as it did way back then, but what does it matter.  At the end of the day, it’s all about happiness.

My wonderful husband Stephen & very happy Rosie on our wedding day.

I hope for William and Kate the memory of their special day does linger long after the confetti has gone.  I hope they are strengthened by the trials, tribulations, good times and bad of their life, even if it is a life less than ordinary.

Whether a Prince or a Pauper, the pathways of life need careful navigation.  For them, as much as for the future of our most British of institutions – the monarchy, it would take a hard, perhaps a heartless person, not to wish them the best of good luck in their future.

And as we packed away the bunting I was just glad that everyone who came to our Royal Breakfast enjoyed themselves, and will be able to look back and remember where they were the day “Wills and Kate” got married.