The blog is back…

…Probably temporarily. 

I’m in a contemplative mood today and was going to write a rambling, self-indulgent Facebook status about it, but then realised that it was too long for Facebook so I’d write a rambling, self-indulgent blog post about it instead.  Thanks for your patience in advance.

Last year was a brilliant one in many ways, but my platelet probs kept rearing their ugly head and I haven’t been well the past few weeks either so had been feeling a tad glum.  (Get the violins out, will ya?!)  However, today I left the house for the first time since Tuesday and spent the evening at my nan’s.  She told a few stories that made me realise that, really, I’ve got nothing to whinge about at all, and made me look forward to the year ahead with renewed relish.

She talked about her brother who died at the age of 18 – he died of pneumonia a few days after going swimming in a freezing cold lake on a roasting hot day; he had a tumour on his lung that nobody knew about.  She mentioned that her “school” days mainly consisted of going to a neighbour’s house one day a week to learn the basics.  And she spoke of her sister and brother being evacuated during the war – “Did you miss them Nan?” “Dunno.”  HOWLING.

I’ve heard these stories before, but only today did I realise that all of the above are things that we almost certainly will never ever have to experience.  Her brother’s lung problems would probably have already been detected and treated if it was happening in 2016 and not in the 1930s.  Going to school is something that we have all just taken for granted.  And imagine kids being evacuated anywhere now?! “OH I’M NOT GOING ANYWHERE WITHOUT ME MUM/ME PHONE/SKY PLUS/A DECENT JUST EAT DELIVERY CHOICE.”  (Or is that just me?)

I left my nan’s feeling all inspired and like I should be cartwheeling down the road screaming “SEIZE THE DAY!” to anyone and everyone I met.  I settled for making a list instead (and oh, how we love a list) of how I am going to spend my time wisely this year.  (Also I can’t cartwheel so that would never have been an option anyway.)  (Also I turn 30 this year AND LIFE IS TOO SHORT.)

1.  Go to more gigs.  I used to go to loads but the past few years this has tailed off.  Why?  Not entirely sure.  But so far I’ve secured tickets to Father John Misty, Little Mix (YEAH YOU ‘EARD) and Sound City.  So I am doing quite well with this one already.  WELL DONE ME.

2.  Learn to drive.  Me and the 10 bus…it’s been emotional, it’s not me, it’s most definitely you.

3.  Resurrect my blog.  Again, this appears to be going well so far.

4.  Travel.  The furthest I’ve been is Cyprus, for God’s sake.  There’s a whole world out there and I’ve seen approximately 0.00064% of it.  MUST.  ADDRESS.

5.  Lose weight.  I put on two stone over the summer and now everything beautiful in Zara and Topshop is off limits. (Granted, the issue may also be that the aforementioned shops only stock clothes for tiny people, but still.)

6. Win a gold medal in Rio.  But that’s been a work in progress for four years, so definitely won’t be a problem. 

Standing on the shoulders of giants!

As someone who is fiercely proud of my Liverpudlian roots, with a terrible weakness for events which unite the city on a grand scale, it’s safe to say I’ve had a pretty good weekend. I’m still smiling now.

On the face of it, thousands of people lining the streets in the searing heat to witness three giant puppets – a nan, a little girl and a dog named Xolo – meandering along does seem a bit strange. But, just like in 2012, Royal De Luxe, the French street theatre company behind the Giant Spectacular which this time was commemorating the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, put on an incredible show.

Hi there Xolo!  Photo by Helen Crilly.

Hi there Xolo! Photo by Helen Crilly.

Giant Nan wondering what she wants from Lobster Pot on Whitechapel

Giant Nan wondering what she wants from Lobster Pot on Whitechapel

Of course, there were a small number amongst us who found something to complain about. “I don’t ‘get’ the giants.” What’s not to ‘get’ about the city smiling for a whole weekend solid, whilst basking in glorious sunshine? “I got stuck in traffic for hours.” Plan your route better – you can’t say Merseytravel (for once!) didn’t warn you. “Why are our cash-strapped council spending thousands on this event?” Because it will generate millions. Glad we cleared all of that up.

We didn’t let the naysayers bring us down though. There was a tangible air of anticipation and excitement across the city, the type that for some reason always seems to be extra special in Liverpool. I loved that people queued for hours on Wednesday and Thursday just to see the giant nan asleep in St. George’s Hall. I loved how Jean-Luc Courcoult, the founder of Royal De Luxe, basically spent three days dancing on a truck having an absolute ball. I loved it when the nan’s head nearly fell off at one point – “OH MY GOD ME ‘EAD’S FELL OFF!” I loved singing along to Imagine with thousands of others in Newsham Park on Friday evening, against the backdrop of a beautiful sunset as the giants were tucked in for the night.

Newsham Park looking spectacular

Newsham Park looking spectacular

Most of all I loved the fact that the giants’ route took them through some of the most deprived areas in the entire country and showed that, despite the poverty and depressing statistics and negative reputations, they are rich in community spirit in ways that other, more affluent places can only dream of. I love Sefton Park as much as the next staunch Scouser, but I’m glad they chose to put the giants to bed in Newsham Park instead. And I spent Saturday morning in Kensington eagerly waiting the little girl’s arrival, and it looked vibrant and alive, rather than shabby and disadvantaged, such is the magical effect of the giants. I’ve never been so proud to be from Liverpool.

Little Girl Giant having a wander through Kensington

Little Girl Giant having a wander through Kensington

I can’t imagine another city taking the giants to their hearts in quite the same way as Liverpool did. Indeed, Royal de Luxe seem to have a special affinity with us too; after all, the last time they were here was only two years ago. Let’s hope they return very soon.

http://www.giantspectacular.com

http://www.royal-de-luxe.com/fr/

Happy birthday to my little bro

Less than a week after our Helen’s 21st, today is my little brother Paul’s fifteenth birthday, in a spectacular example of bad planning by Mother Goose and Mad Tam. Like Helen’s arrival, I vividly remember the day he was born, although I wish I didn’t, because I was exceptionally ugly and therefore ruin all photographs from this otherwise happy time.  See below for evidence.

image

See? Hideous.

Anyway, he finally arrived on a Monday morning, two days after Mum’s waters broke outside a church where we were for a wedding. Highly convenient for all concerned. He looked slightly like an alien when he was born but thankfully quickly grew out of this and became this absolute cutie.

image

How adorable please?!

Unlike Helen, who I have no memory of until she was thirteen, Paul made his presence known immediately. He was born with dislocated hips, gawd bless ‘im, so spent the first few months of his life wearing a bizarre brace to manipulate the bone back into the socket. It didn’t affect him at all in later years, as he became quite the mover. This was largely due to his obsession with the film Billy Elliott, which perhaps inappropriately the parentals allowed him to watch over and over again. Paul took to pirouetting all over the place, more often than not whilst wearing a Teletubbies nightie, but the Billy Elliott viewings had to be nipped in the bud when he started peppering his sentences with somewhat unsavoury language. Whoops!

One of the most notable things about Paul is his love of music and his talent for drumming. His hobby drives me insane when I am trying to have a nap and he’s giving it beans on the drums downstairs but I can admit that he is absolutely brilliant at it. He said the other week he had me to thank for his passion for music, so my work here is done. (He also said in the same conversation that, out of his three sisters, Maria was the coolest, but we’ll gloss over that.) Indeed, from an early age, I tried to mould him into a really excellent person – I took it upon myself when I used to pick him up from school to drum into him liberal-minded and feminist ideals. Sorry Paul, I am aware that I am a pain. This too seems to have worked though, as he’s one of the soundest people I know!

Another noticeable thing about him is his penchant for fashion. Never have I known a lad to be so obsessed with his clothes and hair! He spends more time sorting his barnet out than I do. To be fair to the lad, he is always immaculately turned out, to the point where I am slightly resentful of the fact that he appears to have escaped the awkward stage that most teens go through.

Most people say that Helen looks like me, but Mother Goose is adamant that Paul is “so like you, Cath, that it’s scary!” Scary indeed – I feel sorry for the lad. He is doomed to a lifetime of tardiness, rage and appalling hangovers. Sorry again Paul.

He’s had a great day so far – a successful trip to Goodison, loads of presents, and a buffet chez Crilly which should be ready any second now! He’s also got a trip to Leeds festival to look forward to – one of his presents was money for a ticket for whichever day Arctic Monkeys play on. And I’m accompanying him! I’m looking forward to it – spending the day with one of my best mates watching great bands isn’t too shabby, is it? Happy birthday lad – you’re a legend!

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Happy birthday Helen!

Soooo the cat is thankfully out of the bag. Our Helen, who’s twenty-one today – twenty-one! I feel ancient – thought she was going for a meal with la famille last night but in fact it was a proper party with the whole gang present. She genuinely didn’t have a clue, which worries me, because I basically mentioned it to her face about a thousand times.

As is my wont, I have penned a blog in honour of the proceedings. Our Paul read it out last night at the party because I was too much of a wimp to do so. Sorry Helen. Here goes…:

“I remember the day you were born vividly. It was a Pancake Tuesday and I was minding my own business in the school hall with the rest of my class when I spotted Mad Tam and his gravity defying hair pacing by the secretary’s office. Turns out he’d come to pick me and Maria up early so we could see you for the very first time. Mother Goose looked shattered but proud as could be and I was happy with the situation because the sister I already had was sound, so I was willing to add to the collection.

Unfortunately, all memories of you from that point up until you were about thirteen are hazy. Indeed, save for some photographs of you peering out from underneath your increasingly mental fringe, and the memory of you finally being persuaded to swap your dummy for a Tamagotchi when you were about twelve, I’d strongly refute that you lived with us at all.

This all changed when you took the lead part in Bugsy Malone. This was notable for your comedy dancing and the closing rendition of “You Give A Little Love”, which still brings a lump to the throat every time I think about it. After that we couldn’t shut you up, from the Harmonettes and the glorious summer of Liverpool’s Got Talent, to developing a ruthlessly organised streak, there was no stopping you! Amongst many other things, you almost singlehandedly organised the Bridges’ wedding, and, by all accounts, ran the show in Broughton Hall for a year. You’re a force to be reckoned with – in a good way!

Keep going at LIPA – you’re over halfway there now and it’ll be worth it if only to shake Paul McCartney’s hand at the end of it. Thanks for being kind even when I haven’t been, and for being our Paul’s second mum, and for your cleaning skills, and for the open door policy on your wardrobe. Sorry about the fact that I still haven’t taken you to Paris yet like I said I would when you were fourteen and I was twenty-one – I am well aware of the fact that now you’re twenty-one and we still haven’t been! Stick with that David one – he’s a legend and most definitely your lobster. Most importantly, keep on smiling and keep on singing. To loosely paraphrase Bugsy, you could be anything that you want to be.”

Just a little footnote to the above – tragically for you, people say that we look very much alike. Thankfully, that’s where the similarity ends; indeed, I’d quite like to be like you when I eventually grow up. You are one of my best friends and I hope you have the most amazing birthday. I’ll take you to Paris one day…

I’ve had a very Merry Christmas. Here’s to the Happy New Year bit now!

So another year is over. I am slightly discombobulated by how quickly 2013 has passed. It seems like only yesterday I was waking up in Erin’s flat after a NYE shindig that resulted in me falling asleep on her couch by 2 a.m. It’s safe to say I peaked a bit too early that night…

I have had an absolute ball this festive season – the best one for years in fact. Sorry if I sound a bit smug but, to be fair, I’m not one to post about extravagant purchases (hardly ever buy anything/bit of a scruff) or exotic holidays (haven’t seen sun since 2011) but I am guilty, especially over the past couple of weeks, of going on about the many brilliant times I’ve had with my amazing family and friends. So shoot me!

The Christmas period has consisted of the work’s night out at a Chinese karaoke restaurant in town (classy), followed by an ill-fated carol service at the Irish Centre, featuring me and our Helen in fits of helpless giggles onstage. Shameful. Next up was Christmas Eve Eve, the memory of which is hazy, but the injuries from which are still very much in evidence, thanks to my many tumbles. Christmas Eve was spent in work feeling just a tiny bit tired (note to self – a full day in work after an hour and a half’s sleep is never a good idea.) Christmas Day was the usual chaos – Nan’s, old next door neighbour’s, back to Nan’s for lunch and then everyone Chez Crilly in the evening for a singsong – with this year’s repertoire being particularly eclectic; Enrique Iglesias followed by O When The Saints, anyone? Boxing Day was our Bob’s 21st, a low key affair that he didn’t mention much. I made my first trip to Goodison of the season. We lost. I am now in Everton exile. We then partied into the wee hours and then got back on it the night after to see our Peter. A flying visit to Glasgow to witness three of the babies’ christenings and naming ceremonies (and to do my guardian duties for baby Mila!), a couple of days in work, and then tonight I’ll be seeing the New Year in with some of my favourites. Even the work bit wasn’t too bad. I’ve eaten lots of meat and drunk a lot of wine and had lots of naps. It’s been basically my idea of heaven.

I don’t understand everyone whinging about the “New Year, new me” type of Facebook status. Yeah, you can make changes in your life at any time, but the start of a new year carries with it a special kind of symbolism, non? However, I very rarely make New Year’s resolutions because – o, lack of willpower! – I never stick to them. My only one for 2014 is the same one I make at varying points throughout the year – to try and get fit. I’m not hugely bothered about losing masses of weight but CHRIST I am a lazy cow. I’d like to be able to walk up the three flights of stairs in work and be able to, y’know, breathe normally.

All things considered, 2013 has been pretty kind to me. I’ve not done anything particularly mindblowing but it’s been largely drama-free compared to other years, so I’m happy with that. Thanks to all who’ve been involved in making it a good one – you know who you are, and you are all incredible. (Sorry for the excessive fromage there.) Happy New Year to you all. There’ll be plenty to look forward to and blog about in 2014. Thanks for reading!

Top 10 highlights of 2013…

All together now! Sing! “It’s the most, wonderful tiiiiime, of the year!”

I’m obviously referring to the many “best of” lists that are now upon us.

Naturally, being a lifelong list lover, I’ve compiled my own. Here, in no particular order, are my top ten highlights of 2013.

1. Flying Ant Day

Or, rather, the lack thereof. Despite daily texts, Facebook alerts and Twitter messages from concerned pals who are well aware of my flying ant phobia, I only saw about seven of the blighters all summer. I fervently hope that 2014 is similar.

2. Alex Turner’s vocals on Do I Wanna Know?

Specifically, the lyric “simmer down and pucker up.” Never has the Sheffield accent sounded so alluring.

3. My birthday

Nothing especially spectacular happened. But I spent it with fabulous people and had an absolute ball. Even better, I didn’t cry once on the actual day, which is a first since I was about 21. PROGRESS!

4. Maria and Phil’s wedding

One of the best days of my life, never mind theirs, I will forever hold dear the memory of bellowing Never Forget at the top of my lungs, with about 200 brilliant people surrounding me. Good times.

5. Abersoch

Our family holiday to Abersoch was a highlight for me, mainly because I got to wake up to this stunning view in one of my favourite places on the planet every day for a week. Bliss.

abersoch view

6. Andy Murray winning Wimbledon

FINALLY. So proud!

7. Breaking Bad

Late to the party as ever, I devoured the whole thing in the space of a couple of months and became obsessed with it about three episodes in. Unfortunately, the lasting effect of it is that my fellow Breaking Bad-loving friends and I say “yo” to each other at the end of sentences. I used to think we were doing this ironically but now I’m not too sure. Ah well. It’s chemistry, bitch.

8. Roberto Martinez

Before David Moyes managed to piss off Evertonians the world over with his outrageous bid for Fellaini and Baines, I was distraught to see him go. I need not have worried – Roberto is working wonders. Plus he looks better in a suit.

9. Starting a blog and joining a choir

Trivial and unimportant events, you may say. However, they were both things that I kept saying I’d do and then, for one reason or another, kept putting off. I would seriously recommend both to everyone – so very therapeutic!

10. Kerry Katona’s high-five getting blanked

Sometimes, if I am feeling sad, I watch this video and I immediately feel happy again. Comedy gold.

My response to “Sorry, but being a mother is not the most important job in the world”

Another day, another Guardian article that’s got me thinking.

As the headline says, it’s disputing the fact that being a mother is the “most important job in the world.” And I have to say that it’s left me in two minds.

I’ll discuss the aspects I disagree with first. Of course being a mother is an important job. Although I am aware that she is not actually disputing the fact that being a mother is hard work, I felt that the author took the word “job” a tad too literally, when comparing the trials of motherhood with the physical toil involved in “working 16 hours a day in a clothing factory in Bangladesh, making bricks in an Indian kiln, or being a Chinese miner.” I also sensed an underlying bitchy tone (especially in the final paragraph) which seems to sneer at those women who do give up work and dedicate themselves to bringing up their children; you get the impression that she finds these women to not be feminist enough for her liking.

However, I do agree with the majority of it. She’s right when she discusses the importance of the roles of other people who are involved in the care and nurturing of a child. When I was growing up, my grandparents and great auntie were just as influential and important to us as my mother was – they picked us up from school, they made us our tea, they helped us with our homework – to the point where I have much clearer memories of them providing care during my early years than of my dad. That’s not to say that my dad was absent or disinterested; I am just able to recall more instances of the older generations in our family tending to us. (Mad Tam, if you are reading this, do not take offence.) Actually, I would say one of my dad’s greatest strengths is how brilliant he is at looking after young children, to the extent that if I were to start a family in the future, I would hope that my dad has retired and can help to look after them, further cementing the fact that it’s not just mothers who are instrumental in the job of bringing up children. (Thanks in advance, Dad!)

As someone who is not a mother, I do resent the idea that, if I choose to remain childless, that I am less important to society than a woman who has children. For me, this article highlighted the constant criticism women have to endure from every angle. I just wish women could be left alone to do their own thing, without constant pressure and criticism and comment from all sides. “Breast is best.” “Stay-at-home mums are not feminists.” “Working mums are neglecting their children.” It is utterly relentless and it needs to stop. I’ll admit to hoping that, if I were to have children, I would be able to return to work in some capacity as well as being able to bring them up; I worry that if I was a stay-at-home mum I would get bored, and I’m not embarrassed to say as much. However, I am also well aware of the fact that life doesn’t always work out the way you want it to. And irrespective of the path I take in the next decade or so, I know that the job I will be doing will be important to someone, somewhere, whether I’m a mother or not.