Lyrically speaking…

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The recent blast of hot weather coincided with a visit to my local Zumba class and combined to bring me straight back to our summer holiday. As I’ve mentioned before, my exercise regime seems to go to pot once the kids break up for school hols. But not this year – I actually moved my lazy butt and cha-cha-cha’d off to the Zumba classes that took place every morning on a sun-dappled ‘village’ square and felt very proud of myself for doing so!

Returning to my local class last week, I heard a couple of familiar tunes and couldn’t resist a smile. In their native Spanish, all these songs sound so captivating and make me want to sway rhythmically, whilst my mind takes me to Dreams-come-trueville, a sundrenched landscape full of bougainvillea and hope. My spattering of Spanish allows me to hazard a guess that the general theme of most of these tunes is something to do with ‘dancing’; ‘love’; ‘home’ and (inexplicably) ‘doors/exits’. The rest of the lyrics are an enigma to me so, as I listen to the lilting voices, I imagine they are warbling out a haunting love song, yearning for a lost lover perhaps, or eloping with a beautiful stranger to a far-off land (romantic retro fool that I am). I try to memorize the lyrics even if I don’t understand them, but they always become an Anglicised approximation, morphing into lines such as ‘Listen to my hair dance’ or ‘Follow the leader now’ followed by a staccato ‘chocca locca, tocca tocca tocca’ when I really can’t fathom what they’re saying.

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So there I am, lost in a stupor of romantic gobbledegook, once again channelling my inner Latina, when suddenly the singer belts out a couple of lines in English and the magic is spoit. One moment it’s all ‘Mi gusta mi gusta, baile amor’, then suddenly some awful cheesy version butts in and bursts my bubble. I am no longer dancing along to what I think is ‘Carry me away on your wild horse, señor’ – suddenly I am swaying to lyrics along the lines of ‘You’re my sweetness and light, my sugar and spice’ – ugh! Or, I appear to be dancing along to a song about what sounds like a ‘Boiler Man’ who gets around a bit…Columbia, New York, Puerto Rica and Jamaica are all on his list apparently (turns out that song was Bailame – translation: Bailame…I imagine it’s something to do with dance!)

As if shuffling along to a tune about a utility lover wasn’t bad enough, it’s so much worse when the lyrics are in full-English, leaving nothing to my imagination. Am I the only person to feel a bit foolish shaking my booty to J’Lo’s ‘I ain’t your mama’.  She’s nagging her bloke about how he’s a good for nothing, playing video games all day, while she’s rushing off to work and basically having a whinge that she’s not going to do his laundry any more. Now, instead of galloping off into the sunset with my sombrero’d hero, I’m grooving along to someone’s domestic problems. What next? Songs arguing about who left the loo seat up, or complaining the dishwasher’s not been stacked correctly?! Come on! Worse are the ones given a grimy feel, where some random female is screeching that she just wants to get her ‘jiggedy… down to the floo-or’, or a deep-voiced ‘Shaggy’ wannabe urges his lover to ‘let me take you from behind…I won’t come until it’s time’ – eek! Given that on holiday these classes were attended by all ages, I wasn’t too comfortable watching eight-year-olds happily twerking along to that one! It wouldn’t be so bad if the woman swiped back at Shaggy – ‘F’God’s sake, will you leave off, I’ve just come back from a double night shift… leave me alone!!’ Surely that would be more of a strike for feminism? I don’t know, I could only hope the little girls didn’t understand English and just thought they were dancing along to a jolly tune, in much the same way I’m under a false impression when I’m moving along to what I imagine is a Latino love song.

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It’s funny when you actually translate the lyrics of that amazing song you heard on holiday. A few years back I returned from Italy obsessed by a Portuguese number called Ai Se Eu Te Pego by Michel Teló (or the Nossa song…). I spent ages trying to track down what this catchy tune was – I finally found it on a holiday forum and discovered on translation it consisted of only about three lines, generally saying, ‘Oh, when I see you at the party… delicious, delicious… I’m gonna catch you, oh yes I am!’ Ha ha! (I still love it though…)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcm55lU9knw

Maybe it’s because I grew up devouring song lyrics in the likes of music magazines like Smash Hits – whether it was love songs by Luther Vandross, clever storytelling by Madness or Squeeze, or more anarchic tunes by The Jam, the words had some sort of meaning or poetry behind them. Now? Well, maybe I’m just old but it seems that the lyrics on most mainstream songs are just a bit lazy these days (unfortunately I am forced to listen to them on most car journeys involving my kids…my parenting has gone badly off-track somewhere along the line). Sometimes they mash up old favourites and put new words on them. Or sometimes they just come up with a tune and stick a load of nonsense on and get a popular singer to back it. Take Rihanna’s recent hit ‘Work’: It wasn’t as if she had a lot of lines to remember, but at times she sounded like she just couldn’t be bothered. Work, work, work, work, work morphed into Ner ner ner ner ner. Come on, Rihanna, you can do better than that surely! Even the holiday dance class decided she just wasn’t making enough effort so thankfully that track wasn’t on the playlist.

Returning home after that recent Zumba class, I had the sounds of summer ringing in my head. I shall leave you with a link to my current favourite – the beautiful La Bicicleta by Shakira and some bloke called Carlos Vives… on translation, it seems to be just as cheesily romantic as I imagined… meeting your true love and pedalling off into the sunset with them on a push-bike (if you discover a less wholesome translation, I’d rather not know, thanks). I’ll let you samba off to it now… best enjoyed with a rose betwixt your teeth whilst adopting a dramatic pose and pained love-worn expression. ¡Olé!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-UV0QGLmYys

 

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NTM Kinda People

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We like to applaud those people who inspire, delight and make us laugh. So this week, please give a big hand to these two lovely ladies…

First up, Claudia Winkleman. Ahh, good old Claudia. Really enjoying her column in The Sunday Times’ Style mag, where she keeps it real, identifying with us mere mortals, while giving us a belly-laugh with her musings. Take her recent thoughts on preparing for a beach holiday, which she describes as ‘truly ghastly’, especially as ‘we all have our perfect friends who are always ready to throw on a size-8, side-tie bikini… the permanently waxed people who order a risotto and only eat half’. I think we all know people like that, for whom it all seems so effortless, so it’s reassuring to know that, while Claudia herself may be heard ordering ‘a great big plate of fennel with a side order of steamed beans, please. Let’s go mad and add half a radish on top’, what she truly desires is a stuffed-crust, extra-large pepperoni pizza.

Claudia-Winkleman in Times

She’s right, it is all a bit of a faff isn’t it. All the hours (days? Weeks?)  spent exfoliating and tanning and toning, never mind the gym work and food deprivation, for just a week or two sprawled on a beach somewhere if you’re lucky.

Looking at the glam pics on Instagram you’d never guess the work that goes into those perfect images, so it’s reassuring to know there are some down-to-earth celebs out there who tell it like it is. Beach body ready? Whatever that is, I don’t have time. This is the body I’ve been given and the beach (and everyone else) will just have to take me the way it finds me.

We’d also like to give a big cheer to… Adele

Adele at Glasto 2016

Doesn’t matter whether you’re a fan of her music or not, we think this lady is worth celebrating for her ‘down with the people’ vibe and all-round general loveliness. Headlining at Glastonbury, she appeared on stage with her customary cuppa, engaging with her audience and popping round the stage for a chat with them. Never one to take herself too seriously, this gal wasn’t afraid to admit her nerves about performing in front of the festival crowd, and even stopped belting out her songs a couple of times, saying she’d mucked up and had to start again (we honestly didn’t notice). Nice to know she hasn’t gone all starry on us. Who could forget the BBC TV sketch with Graham Norton, where she’s disguised as an Adele tribute act, adopting a comedy persona and taking the mick out of herself. She proves talented singers don’t have to be a size silly or  expose their ‘bits’ to enjoy global  success – surely a better role model for our daughters than some we could mention. We even forgive that potty mouth of hers – she’d be welcome round ours for a brew anytime!

 

 

A Heartful Of Hurt

A Heartful Of Hurt

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It’s around this time of the week that we like to bring you a post that hopefully lifts you up, makes you laugh or just brings a wry smile of recognition to your face. But sadly, today it is not to be. We’re just not feeling it after the week that’s been. 

First, all the troubles in Orlando and now the killing of MP Jo Cox, there’s just no lighthearted spin on life this week and nothing we can say will make any of the bad stuff go away.

Every time the news comes on, we’re in tears. We just can’t stop thinking about all the hate in the world, and the lives of those left behind, now lying in tatters. How bloody useless and pointless it all seems when things like this happen. What a waste of people’s lives! We can’t imagine the pain of the families and friends of those involved in the Orlando massacre, the annihilation of the US Voice singer, and of the little boy whose life ended at a Disney resort, of all places.

We can’t stop thinking about Jo Cox’s two little girls, aged only three and five, just starting out on life’s journey and now so cruelly robbed of their mother. Her poor bereft husband, one minute perhaps making plans for Father’s Day, the next making plans for a funeral.

It doesn’t matter whose life has been taken, of course, but the fact this was a particularly good woman who could relate to her constituents and had their best interests at heart somehow makes it even more poignant. There’s no mature way of saying it really – life sucks sometimes and it’s just not fair.

There’s a haze of gloom over us at the moment, as we think about the world our kids are growing up in, and worry what sort of future they will find themselves in.

All we can do is hope for some kind of brighter tomorrow, though that’s cold comfort for those who have to live with the horrors in the here and now. We have to try to hang on to the fact that there are some amazing, fabulously kind and awesome people out there that do all sorts of good and help spread peace and love for everyone – and just hope that some sick individual doesn’t take them from our world too. Meantime, however irksome they may be at times, we’re going to cherish our loved ones and hold them extra tight this weekend.

Jo CoxTributes to Jo Cox in Parliament Square                                                              BBC News

 

It doesn’t add up!

Maths equation = no dinner

The end of GCSEs is thankfully on the horizon for many, so in support of our teens going through it at the moment, here are three questions that always pop up in our grown-up world:

The Numbers Quiz

Okay, so maths has never been my strong point, but here’s an equation that just doesn’t add up, so can someone please explain: On Wednesday, Mary goes to the supermarket and spends up to £100 on groceries. The fridge is full and nodding matily to its friend, the snack cupboard, who winks back and give a thumbs up. But come Friday and the kids get home from school there is nothing left in the cupboard and Mary is scrabbling around at the back of the freezer trying to find something (anything! 😳) she has ‘prepared earlier’ (as if! She’s just not one of those mums, remember). 😭 Answers to this connundrum please on our comments page. (There will be a prize of a squishy brown banana for the best response.)

The ‘Odds-on This Always Happens’ Equation:

Take your bets, please, ladies and gents: in percentage terms, how likely is it that at exactly the moment your own kids are acting feral in public, you – harassed, red, sweating – will look up and see the perfect Von Trapp family with its cherub-like offspring giving you the snooty one-raised eyebrow treatment, a book titled Brain Games for Clever Kids smugly sticking out of Mother Dearest’s tote bag? (Aren’t all kids clever? They’re certainly manipulative!) We’ll give you the answer to this, as if you didn’t know: it happens 100% of the time. ‘Course it does.

The Aural Comprehension Test:

This is a listening exercise: try it next time you have to phone Apple Support, Amazon, or any technical department of a worldwide corporation. You’ve dialled up, tapped through the various buttons until you finally….FINALLY… get through to an actual human being to talk to. But hang on… is it an actual human being, or is it in fact a robot? Because first there’s the staccato speech. ‘HELLO-MAD-AM. YOU-ARE-SPEAKING-TO- *Indecipherable – possibly a code number* TODAY. HOW-MAY-I-HELP-YOU?’ And then after the sort of autoscript-you’re-not-sure-you’re-listening-to-a-recording-or-not voice, it throws you by asking a question. Oh, it IS a human voice, you decide, but then you make some silly mistake, faff about saying, ‘Oooh, the serial number? Umm, silly me, I don’t seem to be able to find that…er… let me just get my reading glasses…’ and there isn’t the affirmation of a sympathetic, or even fed-up human reaction. So you try to make a little joke. ‘A-ha-ha’ you might say in a jaunty tone, ‘I know those glasses must be in my bag somewhere… I know I had them only yesterday… trouble is, I need them to find them, a-ha-ha-ha… Oh! They’re on my head!’ Big fat nothing on the other end. Come on, even SIRI has the temerity to give you a bit of backchat. But no, these beings are polite, they deal with your problem, they are uncannily effective in sorting out your problem, they don’t tend to transfer you or put you on hold. And at the end of your call, no matter how much trouble you’ve been, in the same staccato tone, they tell you they really enjoyed speaking with you today and wish you a good day. And that’s surely the big giveaway isn’t it – for no mere mortal customer service operator is ever that happy to have dealt with you, surely?

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O.M.D (Oh.My.Dog!)

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By the time I’d had my eldest two settled into secondary school and my youngest started in Year Four, mums at school would ask me whether I ‘was finished, or ready for number four’. It was a question I’d been pondering myself. I was 42 then and still couldn’t say for definite that I didn’t want another baby, but I felt time might be running out. Continue reading “O.M.D (Oh.My.Dog!)”

Party Pooped!

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It starts just after Christmas in my house: no sooner have the baubles been packed away and the last of the crackers pulled, Son B’s little voice informs me, “It’s my birthday soon – let’s make a list.” And for the next four months (yes, his birthday’s in May, for gawd’s sake!) there will be a running commentary on what he might like (the list changes every week), what we should do and who to invite. I’m left scratching my head, trying to explain patiently how it’s not going to be possible to buy a 3D printer, or create an LED-spattered roof terrace accessed from his bedroom, or dig a trench in our patch of a garden so we can have a sort of Ninja Warrior meets The Cube competition, “cos that’d just be so cool!”.

Pah! I know I shouldn’t say it, but my heart sinks every time, and it isn’t just because birthdays are a blinding reminder that my ‘baby’ is growing up faster than Jack’s beanstalk. Part of me just hankers for the old days when a bit of jelly and ice-cream would suffice. Maybe it’s a throwback to my Seventies childhood, but we just didn’t do big bashes back then – and the generation before us was even more rudimentary when it came to parties. My poor sister spent her 10th birthday blowing out the candles of a hastily made cake, while our mother was upstairs, giving birth to me (sorry sis!).

Maybe I’m just scarred from Parties Of The Past. There was karate party for Son B’s 6th (it’s always Son B; Son A’s never been fussed about celebrations). The company had come highly recommended, but for some reason sent a hapless 16-year-old along on the day to host a party of 20 kids on a sugar rush in a sports hall. Poor blighter, I’ve no doubt he had a black belt in karate but no one had prepared him for the boredom thresholds of children, so after a few ‘Hi-yaaahs’ and high kicks he soon ran out of things to entertain them. I panicked when he enquired with a haunted look in his eyes: “I’m only booked til 3, right?” when actually he had another hour-and-a-half to go! We ended up bailing him out with musical chairs and a very odd version of pass the parcel. “Never again!” we sighed afterwards.

The following year we smugly went for the tried-and-tested (but hugely expensive) gym party. We gave a sharp intake of breath, but reasoned it would be worth it not to have to entertain the kids ourselves. What could possibly go wrong? This time the party fell apart before it even started. Just as we’re meeting and greeting and scattering balloons, an unknown mum comes over with a lad (who’d basically invited himself), slaps a tenner in my hand in lieu of a card/gift, then starts – very audibly – to lay into another mum, snarling and issuing threats because her kid had offended her boy in the playground the day before! She stormed out, leaving us with a sobbing seven-year-old and his equally shaky parent. At least her boy had the decency to look embarrassed. The party was memorable for all the wrong reasons.

So, call me old-fashioned, but this year I’m not getting sucked in. A nice cake (must remember to order…) a few carefully chosen presents (quick look on Amazon…) and a friend round for the afternoon. Anyway, I’ve already warned Son B we’re going to have to play it low-key this birthday if we’re ever to afford to have the Space Station party with the 1:2:1 with Tim Peake next year…

While we’re talking feeling pooped about parties, we think this little comedy sketch sums the whole kids’ party thing perfectly. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

We love these funny mums and you can find out more about their hilarious goings on here on Facebook 

We’d love to hear about your most stressful, funny or nightmare kid’s party, so that we don’t feel all alone so please, do feel free leave us a comment. Thank you! x