Tag Archives: October

October, you beauty

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Hello.

Here I am, which is unusual enough, because whenever I have a spare hour and have to decide between Lying Still or Anything Else, the Lying Still tends to win. It’s frustrating having to slow down, especially now the sickness has gone (whee!). I like to get on. I keep having to remember not to define myself by things I can’t always do.

I feel quite anxious about this pregnancy, in a way I didn’t with the others. Oddly my visits to the midwife make this worse, not better. Most of the time I can assume (or tell myself to assume) that everything’s fine. When I go to the midwife, I have to wait the agonising three minutes before she finds the heartbeat, and get test results back where ‘this is a little unusual, but nothing to worry about’, I mean CLEARLY I WILL NOW WORRY ABOUT THAT THING, WHAT DO YOU TAKE ME FOR.

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Still, without the sickness, I am gathering myself together again, bit by bit. Folding some laundry. Taking the boys out for walks in the woods. Making proper dinners, and eating them. Meeting deadlines, cleaning the kitchen. Reducing my snack breaks from seventeen a day to an entirely reasonable eight. On Sunday I wore a dress that I loved, and pushed Tim off to bed while the boys and I went exploring and did not eat a single bag of beef crisps all day, and it felt like the best day of my life.

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Yesterday I baked a new kind of apple cake that turned out to smell (like apples) a great deal better than it tasted (mostly like baking powder). Still, the baking was therapeutic, and it was a much cheaper way to make the house smell nice than dropping £30 on a White Company candle.

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I feel like doing a Rocky air-punch on the rare occasions I get to hand out fat slices of homemade cake after school. It makes me feel like Mary Poppins. Although –

H: ‘What are these on top?’

Me: ‘They’re called almonds.’

H: ‘Urgh.’

Me: ‘They won’t taste of much by themselves. You’re supposed to eat them with the cake.’

[Five minutes pass]

Me: ‘H, haven’t you started yet?’

H: ‘No, I’m taking out all of the Normons, because they look awful.’

Take that, Normons. Sorry for the body-shaming.

We’ve got our back-to-school bugs and September Rages mostly out of the way now, I hope (T is feeling ‘asspalootely better’, if you ask him). Both boys have settled into their new routines. We cycle to school whenever the weather’s kind, and then after school H and I do a mad dash from one playground to the other, a mile and a half away. T comes bursting out of nursery, jumper sleeves rolled up to the elbows, usually filthy and clutching all his bags, which he hands over to me before they race their bikes home. H would always win, except that T cheats.

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See? Cheating.

See? Cheating.

It feels like autumn has been slow in coming, but now we have crunchy leaves, misty mornings, and reddening holly berries all over the place. There’s a whole colony of enterprising mushrooms growing out of the gigantic pile of horse poo down the road, and I feel compelled to point them out every time we pass, for educational reasons. While also holding my breath. Motherhood is weird.

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I’ve been reading a lot. There’s something about cold weather that gives me permission to retire with a blanket and a book – which is what I really want to be doing all the time anyway. I read a very unusual book (From A Clear Blue Sky) about grief and siblings by Timothy Knatchbull, who was on Lord Mountbatten’s sabotaged boat when it was bombed by the IRA in 1979 (Mountbatten was his grandfather, and Timothy was in his mid-teens). Timothy survived, and so did his parents – just – but his twin brother Nicholas died. Years later he wrote the book to come to terms with the griefs he’d buried at the time. It’s not political at all, very honest and completely fascinating. I thought it was wonderful.

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I’ve also reread The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver has never written a better), Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies (because I watched the BBC adaptation, and missed it), an Agatha Christie every other week (The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. FLAWLESS) and last week got hold of David Mitchell’s new-ish novel, The Bone Clocks. Which is as mad as David Mitchell ever is, and as delightful. And if poetry’s your jam, or you would like it to be, you must get hold of The Emergency Poet. It was compiled by a superhero woman who literally bought a discontinued ambulance and drove around in it, offering consoling poems to people who were struggling. What a life! It’s a gorgeous thing.

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Are you watching Poldark? It’s as beautiful as ever to look at, but I’ve been put off a bit this series by the fact that Ross Poldark is kind of a jerk. Look, screenwriters, if you want us to believe that everyone likes him, you have to give us some reason why. It can’t always be scything topless and glistening in golden fields. That combination of getting into debt, being surly and condescending to his wife and galloping worryingly near cliff edges is not calculated to set the heart afire.

Also Bake-Off. BAKE-OFF. Every episode brings us closer to the last one ever, and the fact that this series is so delicious is both helping and hurting. Like eating an entire plate of Tudor pies in one go (I would. Did you see them? I WOULD).

Who ate all the pies? (Me, probably.)

Who ate all the pies? (Me, probably.)

T helped me watch the first Harry Potter film a few weeks ago. Some observations:

‘Dumbledore! He’s the master…head’. (‘Headmaster?’ ‘Yeah.’)

‘Look, it’s Yogrid!’

‘Harry is using a… a feather crayon.’

‘My-knee? Who’s My-knee?’

(Harry, onscreen: ‘And Snape wasn’t blinking.’) ‘I’m blinking. Look.’

[sigh] ‘I am weally not a-pwessed.’

I’ll win him over eventually.

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Ooh, October, you’re looking well

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I have given myself a towering challenge this evening. Well, two. One is to get rid of today’s lone nappies lurking in our house without gagging. I will track each powerful stench to its source like a veritable crap-hound, and throw them into the bin where they belong. The other is to write a blog post in half an hour. I have been writing more essays than rambles, lately, and I feel like my ramble output has been a little disappointing. Sometimes it’s more important just to write than to write perfectly. Not that I ever do that either.

ANYWAY.

October is looking well so far. Ooh, October, you’re looking well. Those oranges really suit you. H is mostly out of his screechy rage-demon phase and is loving school. I’m amazed by what it’s done for him in less than a half-term. He’s drawing things voluntarily, obsessed with playing an exciting new game called Tag (!), joins the queue at the classroom gate when the school bell rings, and went for a playdate and pizza on Friday with one of his new friends (‘I needed a wee during dinner’. ‘Did you go?’ ‘I put up my hand and asked’.) He also calls the school dining hall The Great Hall, Harry Potter-style, which I CAN’T EVEN. If he’s got floating candles and golden plates going on and I’m sat at home with T flinging around chicken supernoodles, I’m going to be peeved.

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He had a Harvest Festival service at the little medieval church down the road last week. I have been looking forward to standing in a chapel bellowing ‘Cauliflowers Fluffy’, while children bring baskets of cup o’ soup up to the altar, since I gave birth. It was completely wonderful. We also sang the ‘Autumn Leaves’ one about jet planes and it felt like the jauntiest moment of my life so far.

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Our school runs have become very autumny all of a sudden. I am trying to walk or cycle most dry days. Cycling is more time-efficient but pulling both boys up the hill in the trailer, oh legs, forgive me. There’s a route through the woods that T and I take if we’ve got the time (it’s off-road, so he can walk), and it’s been all dew-dropped spider webs and misty fields for a couple of weeks. The other morning we saw red spotted toadstools, and I was so astonished to see one in real life, outside of an Enid Blyton book. It was like seeing Moon Face waving from the nearest Faraway Tree and making awkwardly racist remarks. We moved into this house in autumn last year, and it was a big part of why I fell powerfully in love with living here: all crackly russet leaves underfoot, red holly berries, cold blue skies and brown forests of ferns. Coming into the season again has been a real pick-me-up for the soul. And has reminded me how hideous my damp autumn hair is. Like a bad Meatloaf wig. Especially after cycling.

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I am trying not to be weird in the playground. It’s hard when you’re wearing a Meatloaf wig and have no small talk. People are nice. It’s an ongoing project.

Spending one-on-one time with T – for the first time, really – has been great. We go to a playgroup one morning a week (‘traydroup’) and he barges from station to station, shouting ‘HELLO’ in people’s faces, making pastry cheese twists and then scarfing them down at snack time. He makes the bull in a china shop look like a refined sort of chap. He’s talking mostly in sentences and is too brilliant for words.

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I am trying hard to find a good balance between the different parts of my life. My big, scary aim for this year is to try to get paid properly for writing. Urgh. Writing is such a vulnerable and necessary part of me that wanting to succeed in it makes me feel very exposed. I’ve been spending too much time thinking about it and feeling insecure about it. Then too many late nights generally. Last night Tim was out, and I was determined to read a single chapter of my new book in bed and then be asleep by nine, as a symbol of how totally adequate and in control of my glowing and brilliant life I am. But the book was H is for Hawk, and it was saturated in grief and love and a completely transporting description of falconry and nature: lyrical and coldly beautiful. So I read all of it, obviously. And I was about to feel terrible about missing another opportunity for an early night, when I thought that reading an excellent book all in one go was exactly myself. And then I got up to sit H on the loo, and that was exactly myself too. And I decided that all this was a bit of alright, and then I went to sleep.

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