Here’s what I think about the Royal Baby

Alright. I’m not a royalist. Nor am I a republican. I vaguely enjoy the pomp and ceremony of pageantry and I enjoy the heritage and history of Britain. I like old buildings, and I think that the monarchy through the ages has contributed towards the rich and fascinating, often bloodthirsty, and sometimes terrifying, story of our ancestry.

It doesn’t really bother me that we still have a royal family. I quite like them, really, and I think that the benefits and privilege that they experience must be offset by the boring, mundane and tedious role that they continually fulfil.


So I cannot understand either extreme of opinion when it comes to this new royal baby. I struggle to have any kind of empathy with those people who camp outside the maternity wing and wave little royal flags at passing cameras. And I think that those people who respond with “another scrounging kid to be raised on taxpayers’ money” are knobbish.

Prince William is an RAF helicopter pilot. He works.

He has access to trust funds left to him by his late mother, and I’m assuming that the Crown Estate contributes towards the familial income. 


You know? The Crown Estate that raises millions of pounds of revenue a year?


I think I read somewhere that the Queen receives around 15% of that revenue to dish out to the rest of the family and that the royal family cost the country less than a pound a year per taxpayer.


Also, both the Queen and the Duke of Cambridge pay substantial taxes on their incomes, not to mention the fact that the Middletons also work and pay taxes. So, if you’re moaning about the Royals being no better than benefits scroungers (an abhorrent term for anybody by the way) may I offer you directions to the grip shop, and suggest you go and get one?


There is the school of thought that suggests the Crown Estate belongs to us all, so why should they reap the benefits..bla….bla….bla… 

It’s tedious. We are all born into something, and we all experience a life which is a combination of work, geography, family, circumstance, judgement and luck. Some are better off than others. That’s life away from communism. What would the anti monarchists have them do? Leave the palace and “get jobs”? And if they didn’t live in those buildings, and employ those people, and run those estates – who would? It would still cost “us” money. Probably more, and these historical buildings could well just turn into dusty relics. At least this way, there is tourist relevance and interest.


And don’t get me started on all this “heir and a spare” crap.

 Firstly, she is a baby. A little girl. Not a “spare” anything.

Secondly, I don’t think there is really any shortage of people in line to the throne. This conspiracy theory bullshit drives me batshit!


Yes, they live in grandeur and opulence. But if it were me,  I couldn’t  imagine anything worse than the entire world following my pregnancy; commenting on my bloated face and cankles and then having a go if I happened to get someone to style my hair nicely; preceding me to my own labour suite; camping outside alongside the full glare of the world’s media; and every tom, dick and prince Harry commenting on what might be going on as I go through an intensely private experience.

Then, having to display my public property baby, to that same onslaught of press and busybody-ness, and having fekkin Kay Burley sticking her dickhead nose in.


I tell you what… Nice one, Kate and Wills. Congrats on your second baby, particularly after an SPD pregnancy. Now, take my 56p with my best wishes, and go and enjoy your little family. I won’t bother you… You won’t bother me… And the world turns. 

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The Disnification Commenceth

Day 9

Having fully packed, cleaned down the “holiday home” and ate as much crap out of the fridge as we could stomach at 7 in the morning, we duly trundled our stupidly massive suitcases down Le Camping boulevard, to the backdrop soundscape of the static home across from ours being dug out for car parking, by a bulldozer and a couple of mini steam roller things. One can only hope that the inhabitants had vacated first.

It’s been really quite lovely at Joinville, and Le Camping has been quite nice, but four mornings of waking up to a building site, is four mornings too many really, and after a final climb up the rocket-frame, we were quite happy to say “au revoir.”

A final embarkation onto the 101 (during rush hour with our stupidly massive suitcases) and a skip down the platform to catch the RER to Vincennes, and we were on our way. Smallboy was excited to be going home.

We hadn’t actually told him that we were going home, rather we just made a big deal out of our “final night on the campsite” and talked a lot about “catching the trains with our suitcases” – a parental decision to omit certain facts, rather than an actual lie.

At Vincennes, we changed platforms to catch the Marne Le Vallee train. It was lovely and deserted, and we settled back to a game of “I Spy” for the thirty minute journey. Smallboy is quite good at I Spy, although I maintain that “something beginning with f” and the answer being “forty four” as seen on the screen, telling us it was 09:44, was more like I Spy Extreme Edition 

The train arrived at Parc Disneyland, and we exited the platform with our stupidly massive suitcases. As we blinked into the sun, we encouraged Smallboy to spell out the sign in front of him.

” D…i…s….ney…land…why are we in Disneyland?” 

He was pretty excited to learn that not only were we NOT going home and were staying in Disneyland, but also there was a LEGO STORE (this is pretty big news for Smallboy) and we no longer had to spend our days traipsing round dusty city centres looking at historical monu….yawn…..ments….

We checked into the Sequoia Lodge. This is a pretty big upgrade for the Morrises. We are your Hotel Cheyenne kind of stayers, but we thought “bugger it,” this time…and very glad we did. It’s really quite lovely. Massive rooms, friendly staff, gorgeous pool and right on the banks of Lake Disney.

We managed a couple of rides today, but were happy to mosey, really, knackered and hot as we were. Our half board meal plan comes with an added bonus of a free afternoon cake or ice cream and a drink, so we are well on our way to consuming the annual combined calories of the entire population of Luxembourg this week. And the diet will start on Sunday. Promise.

Tomorrow, the husband has booked our petit dejeuner for 7am, so we can be in the park and raring to go when it opens two hours early for hotel guests. 

So, tonight we sleep in a lovely bedroom, with lots of facilities and rather more room than the little cabin we’ve called home for a week. Yessir, from camping to 3* hotel is kind of a culture shock, but I’m glad we did it this way round. I’ll be swinging “chats” in our massive bathroom all night.

All about the packing

Day 8

Today is our last day at Camping International, and although it genuinely is a very basic site (get ready to check out my Trip Advisor review, fans) I am really going to miss it.

The weather has helped. France (and the UK I believe) is currently experiencing some weather anomaly, and it has been completely glorious every day. I can imagine that the dust and sand and building works on the campsite  might have felt a little more grim, in torrential rain, but the sun can make a bulldozer look as sparkly as a diamond.

So, this morning we did somehing I have NEVER done on any holiday, ever. We did nothing. Literally nothing. We had a lie-in until about 9:15 (which is CRAZY late for me – I am a morning person) and then we lazed around, had breakfast, read, played games and coloured, until about 11:30.

Eleven-frikken-thirty without going outside!

I’m blaming the bloody 15 km a day treks through Paris we’ve done. My feet have not known what’s hit them (cobbles, grit, soil and paving slabs mainly)

Smallboy and I  both got a little stir crazy, so in the interests of sanity (and my now infamous holiday logistical planning) we despatched husband to the laundry, and I packed. I assumed that this was going to be a mammoth task. I had carefully-considered piles of categorised stuff ready to go. And it took me around 4 and a half minutes.

I had to call on all of my “optional and alternative activity” training and, so we decided to walk along the river to a park that we’d noticed last Monday.

 It was just so…French…

We strolled through open air seafood restaurants, to the sound of an accordion playing, we saw cyclists wearing actual berets and carrying French baguettes in rucksacks, we saw dressed poodles in the arms of impossibly-glamorous and fashionable French women, and we saw old, tanned men in canoes, smoking cigarettes and shouting at ducks.

It was like being on some xeno-centric film set!

The park duly played upon, and the 2 mile walk back completed, we felt we’d earned a final dinner out at the campsite bar. Turns out the French for “nuggets” is “nuggets” and it was entertaining listening to Smallboy speaking French to the bar owner.

W: Bonjour

L’homme: Bonjour

W: Ca va?

L’homme: Ah… Ca va bien. Et toi?

W: Pleeu plee ce ce va chan ce la….. MUUUUUMMY….he’s speaking a lot of bonjour words to me…

ūüôā

So, about to embark on our final night, but very excited, as tomorrow we go to Disneyland Paris…and Smallboy doesn’t know! He thinks we’re going home.

This could go one of two ways….

But for now, mes amies….Bon soir

Je suis la Reine

Day 7

Since 1989, when I was 16 and in my final year of school, I have wanted to visit Versailles. I was a member of the cast of a very long and historically accurate school play (which seemed to last as long as the reign of the Sun King, in performance – I swear I was 27 by the time we chopped off Marie Antoinette’s head) and I was intrigued by the history, romance and social revolution surrounding the opulence of this magnificent building.

And today I got there.

It is indeed magnificent. Stunning, beautiful, shimmering…and other adjectives I can’t think of – it is all of those things. And as we entered this piece of history, we were met with thousands of other tourists, cramming themselves into gift shops, cluttering up entrances while listening to dubiously place audio guides, and just generally being arses.

I love visiting places – but I chuffing hate people.

Yes, I know, I know… I am a tourist, and I am one of them, and possibly am also occasionally an arse myself – but I have spatial awareness and an ability to say “excuse moi” which is apparently lacking in EVERY OTHER PERSON I ENCOUNTERED TODAY. 

Seriously, if you’re in someone’s way – GET OUT OF IT. If you are blocking an entrance – FRIGGING MOVE. And if you would like to get past me and my five year old, then SAY EXCUSE ME RATHER THAN ELBOWING YOUR WAY THROUGH.

Yes, I’m talking to you, you rotten cow, who stamped on my foot and knocked me sideways because your need to ascend those last three steps before me, was apparently greater than mine. If you had just asked me, I would have happily moved (not that I was walking particularly slowly) and we would all have been happy. As it was, your way meant I was not happy – and neither were you, when I placed a well aimed kick just below the back of your knee, two minutes later. Don’t mess with me, love. Just don’t.

Anyway, once I’d got over my pedestrian-rage, I was able to walk through the King’s chambers. There were a lot of them. And all mighty spectacular in their own way…but there were just too many people for us to see anything at all. And with Smallboy’s regular protestations of “I’m boooooored” it soon became apparent that perhaps the gardens were going to be more our thing.

And they were. If you get the chance to go to Versailles, you should definitely go. The sheer scale of the gardens, the house and the beauty of the manicured landscape is pretty much indescribable. Marie Antoinette’s private estate (2km away from the main house, surely making nookie with Le Roi by appointment only?) is stunning, and the walk from the grand canal back up to the palace is peaceful and philosophical. Here, in a way I didn’t feel it inside, I really engaged with the sense of history of this place. 

But, I tell you what, whether she really did say “let them eat cake” back in 1789 or not, you can see why the peasants revolted against such wealth and luxury. I liked the gold and the statues and the dancing fountains and that, but my heart is really on the side of the revolutionaries. Plus, who doesn’t love a good old sing song of the French national anthem? Founded right on this bit of history.

“Allons enfant de la patrie, le jour de gloire est arrive….”

Though, as it’s a good 30 minute walk from the house to m’lady’s estate – I bet they stopped offfor a wee and a picnic on the way down!

All in all, a very nice day out. And a good place to use the Verselfie stick…

Refurbishments and a quick trip to the city

Day 3

Today, our first full day of the holiday, we planned to take it easy, chill out, wander round the locale eat cake and generally do nothing. We didn’t even set an alarm.

Clearly we forgot who I am, as, actually, I hate doing all that on holiday. I am that person (there must be one in every family or friendship group) who sees a holiday as some kind of expedition/adventure/drill/time trial/logistical endeavour. I am the one that shouts “come on, come on….half the day has already gone” at 7am, and have been known, on previous vacations, to coordinate other families’ ablution routines in order that I can get to the shower block for 5:30am. I will have breakfast waiting, and be standing at the door, holding your shoes, before you’ve even had your morning pee. Fortunately, over many years of wearing him down, the husband acquiesces to my whims, and Smallboy will never know anything else.

So, alarm not set, and lie-in booked, the good people of Camping International had slightly different ideas, when at the crack of dawn (about 7:45 if I’m honest) a huffing great tractor started shovelling crap, or digging up the road or burying a body or something, right out-chuffing-side Maison de Morris.

It was replaced thirty minutes later, by a bloke in a high vis jacket, sweeping the dirt track like he was auditioning for the French curling team, and some other bloke on a steam roller type affair, flattening grass, house bricks, debris and small children.

Alright, alright…we’re up…we’re up.

So, we walked to the local park, Parc du Tremblay. Apparently Paris’s largest provincial park! and situated “just round the corner” from our holiday park. Apparently, this means something else in France.

20 minutes later, we were there. It was pretty fab – There was all sorts to do. Around 12 different playgrounds, tennis courts, golf courses, basketball, sculpture trails, lakes… even a circus. It took us a good two hours just to get to the other side. So we decided to mosey around the town (Joinville) which is actually rather lovely.

But by 12:30, we pretty much felt like we’d done it all

“Let’s pop into Paris” says I.

A quick (1.5 mile) walk to the station, a coupla RER tickets purchased, and fifteen minutes later, there we were at the Pompidou Center. It’s all inside out, dontchaknow?

We decided just to chill and relax. So we walked to Notre Dame and then the parliament buildings. Just a cool 9km.

Smallboy was protesting quite vocally at this point, stating his feet were refusing to continue until his mouth had some cake, so we stopped at a patisserie and watched Paris stroll by.

Would have been rude not to, really.

A sneaky trip to the McDonalds toilettes (I am not paying a euro for a slash) and we were homeward bound.

Bonus day in Paris completed, the day ended as it began with bread and wine.

Tomorrow, we are planning to be busy.

I’m Still 40!

I am feeling a bit reflective; I¬†wrote a bit when I turned 40, but because that month itself was such a downer, I didn’t really write anything of any great note. The husband had just lost his job, and was feeling the effects of leaving behind the career he had loved for 20 years, and my big-bang 40th birthday party itself was a washout; not least because about half of the people who were invited, turned the invitation down, and then about half of the people who said they were coming, just didn’t. It didn’t help that other acquaintances have turned 40 this year, and had a whale of a time.

So, when I wrote my “goodbye 30s” eulogy, it focussed very much on how rubbish I felt at that time, and not really on how I felt about moving on to another decade. However, 5 and a half months in, I’m about ready!

So, I’m 40. And it’s not so scary any more. Heading towards 40 was a bit horrible, if I’m honest. It didn’t seem as though it referred to me, but not because I “still felt 25” or any of those clich√©s, just that 40 seemed so very old. And, of course, it turns out that it is quite old, but only a bit older than 39, and the really good thing about being 40 is that you can say “I’m 40” and it gives you a licence to be a bit more frank with people. And the other good thing is, that even if that’s not really an acceptable excuse; YOU ACTUALLY DON’T CARE.

Of course, this is nothing to do with actually being 40 – there’s no bolt of lightning or cosmically ordered change that occurs (unfortunately) because age is a human-made construct and we only¬†link¬†age with our perception of it. etcetera. But, somehow, that has appealed to me, and I have become 40 and grumpy. And I am really enjoying it.

In true reflective spirit, I should be looking back on my 30s, but¬†my 30s were very much dominated by one thing, which was very much defined by one event that happened about 2 months after my 30th birthday. I went to see a doctor about something trivial, and whilst he was browsing through my notes, he said “and, of course, you’re infertile.” Which was news to me.¬†When he saw my jaw hit the floor, instead of being a bit apologetic or contrite in any way, he followed it up with “it must make it easier that you both are infertile.¬†This way, you’re both to blame.”

Of course, with the benefit of hindsight and¬†my straight talking ‘tude, I¬†should have bloody well hauled him across the coals; for his mistake, his reaction and his refusal to take responsibility for the downward spiral that ensued. What was that noise? Oh, that was just my future smashing into little pieces, and the sound of my heart breaking a million times.

So, because of that, the next 6 years were pretty much spoken for. Particularly as (apologies for the TMI) we’d spent the previous 2 years “trying naturally.”

So, I can’t remember much else about my 30s. Lots of hospital visits, job changes (because we needed to somehow fund our medical enigmas) lots of tests and waiting and probably some other stuff. I really don’t know what else. Because, what happened was, all of our friends and acquaintances started to have their children, and add to their families. And the ones that didn’t? Well, they already had theirs. And so, out of self-preservation and sanity, we had to withdraw from the social scenes around us. When you are “sans enfant” and the rest of the world isn’t, it’s like a big fat club that you don’t belong to. And the only invitations you get are out of pity, or a misguided desire to include you in something. And it’s hard not to be sensitive, or emotional, because it’s your whole entire life. And nobody really understands.

After the IVF came adoption. Which was even more intrusive with much less chance of turning out positively. And something that we had to do almost entirely on our own. So even after 6 years of my 30s, we were still flying solo, and on a path that was alien not only to us but to everyone around us. And, I guess, we still are.

So my 30s was spent distancing myself from those around me, and from people who had been my friends, allies and compadres throughout my 20s. And when I hit 40, they were notable by their absence.

There’s no one to blame for this, I guess. It’s not their fault and it’s not mine, but the one thing I take away from my transition from 30s to 40s, is that I think most people spend their 30s cultivating, maintaining and nourishing friendships old and new. I spent mine distancing myself from people in order to protect my emotionally battered heart, and not making new friends because, ironically,¬†¬†I spent my final years of child-free evenings researching, working, planning and writing our 40,000 word “parenting application”

And now, I pay the piper. The husband has a new job which takes him away from us for many evenings, so now I CAN’T go out (because of child care issues – natch) and because all the friends I used to have, fell by the wayside during my wilderness years.

Of course, the end result is worth any amount of sacrifice, and there’s nothing that would induce me to change it, knowing what I now have.

I am an older mother, through necessity not choice. And I am. I know people of my age who have grandchildren who are older than my son. So part of my exclusion from social delights is because, at an age where many of my friends are rediscovering their nightlife, I am still reading bedtime stories, singing number songs and watching CBeebies. But those other factors, outlined above, still niggle at me and a¬†little part of me wonders¬†that other 40 year olds seem to be able to have a family AND friends. You can count mine on the fingers of one hand – and I haven’t seen any of them since 2013.

40 is just a state of mind, I’m told. It’s not; it’s also a state of chronology and a number. I haven’t ticked many things off my bucket list, but that’s OK, because I just keep adding to it.

My 30s didn’t pan out how I expected, but I did start a job I loved, founded a theatre group I adored, and appeared in more than 40 TV shows (yes, really) so it can’t have all been bad.

But my 40s are already better than my 30s, because I start them with my little boy at my side, and I can’t wait for the next 10 years.

 

 

 

 

The Bectora Guide to Parenting (Blogs)

I’ve read loads of blogs about parenting and I want to write one myself, because, to be completely honest,¬†I find most of them a bit smug, or self-satisfying, or over-instructive or…forgiving.

I hate these forgiving blogs:

“It’s OK to sometimes feel stressed and take a moment for yourself – it doesn’t make you a bad parent”

“Leaving them to cry a little bit can be character building. Have a cup of wine tea, and don’t fret about it!

“Yes, sometimes it’s fine to feed them sweetcorn sandwiches and a Yorkie – all parents need time off”

And so on. What qualifies someone to judge or not judge? What qualifies an internet stranger to soothe your fears, when you were at the end of your tether and you…dan dan daaaaah…resorted to the dummy that you vowed NEVER to use, and tell you that it’s OK? It’s OK if you think it is. It’s not, if you don’t. The reality is, if you do something a bit iffy¬†and you feel a bit guilty, chances are that it wasn’t the best choice that you’ve ever made. The chances are also that it wasn’t the worse thing that you’ll ever do.¬†As people often quote: “kids don’t come with an instruction manual” and even after a few of them (kids, not instruction manuals), nobody is really qualified to tell you what is going to work best for your set-up.¬†Why does everyone in this high-technology, information-garnering, computer-dependent world, need validation from someone they’ve never met, and who has no more clout on the subject than anyone else?

See, the thing is, it’s not the content of these blogs and columns that annoys me, as I’m sure there is plenty of practical and emotional advice and support¬†that will reassure and comfort lots of people, which can’t be a bad thing. What annoys me is this: who set¬†the author¬†up as a guru or expert? What do I care what a random person who has had 5, 10 or 100 children thinks? Your experience and my experience are worlds apart, because unless you had a child at exactly the same age that I did, and unless that child has the same personality as mine, and unless you have the same job and working hours as me and my husband, and unless you own a crazy dog and a house that needs a new kitchen and unless you’re me – you have no idea what I need.

I am a really laidback kind of a parent. I often use laughter in place of discipline, and I’m a massive advocate of picking my battles. I am fully aware that my son may (or may not) struggle with issued instruction when he starts school, as a result of my parenting. I am also aware that he is healthy, robust, funny, well-rounded, bright as a button and happy. It works for us, and we’ll deal with the other stuff as and when it happens. It might not work for you.

I am an expert in parenting my own child. No one else’s just my own. And when¬†I say “expert” I mean that¬†I am an expert at doing it, because I am doing it all the time. I don’t mean that I’m really good at it.

I might be, for all I know. I might be the best parent in the whole entire world, but really that doesn’t give me the status required to tell other people what is OK and what isn’t, because all I do is what’s best for me, the husband and the son, and what we’re happiest with, and I imagine that has little bearing on your set-up.

For instance, let me tell you that¬†my child is a wonderful sleeper. He always has been, right from day one. He loves his sleep, drifts off easily, rarely wakes up in the night, and when he does, he self-settles. He’s 3 and a half now, and¬†we have had it¬†easy. I mean, sure – there has been the odd spate of time where it hasn’t been quite so smooth. I have sung depressing renditions of “Golden Slumbers” “”Lullaby” and even “Sweet Child O’ Mine” at stupid O’ Clock in the morning. I vividly recall putting him in his cot, singing¬†ever more softly and slowly¬†and then creeping out, one socked-foot at a time, avoiding the 4 creaking floorboard obstacle course between his bed and the bedroom door. I remember going downstairs in our stupid aged house, wincing with every creak.¬†I remember standing in his bedroom trying anything…ANYTHING to send him to sleep – closing the curtains, opening the curtains, switching the light on, switching it off, putting lullabies on, turning them off, trying white noise CDs, reading stories, fetching milk, warming it up, cooling it down,¬†voices at whispering level¬†for 4 hours after bedtime just in case, going to bed when he went to bed in case he decided to wake up, getting everything ready for the next morning because I had no clue what time my wake-up call would be, bringing him into my bed, despite promising I wouldn’t, because you pick your battles, plugging lavender-scented fresheners into every available socket…oh, hold on a minute. Maybe he wasn’t such a great sleeper after all.

Because, that’s the point, isn’t it? You forget. With children, things pass so quickly and time and development move on in the blink of an eye, so you forget the minutiae, and remember the bigger picture. I recall speaking to a friend of mine with a child the similar age. I had always said how great my son was at sleeping, she had always said how terrible her son was at sleeping, and I SO sympathised with her – she was SO tired all the time, and had no joy in the day with him. Until we actually broke down how the nights worked out for us both. It turned out that our children had a very similar pattern of sleeping and waking – but she and I viewed it in very different ways.

So I’ll stand by my declaration that my son was a wonderful sleeper, and no doubt my friend still thinks that her son was Damian in a Duvet, but the point is, neither one of us is qualified to tell the other what’s right. I remember far¬†more good nights than bad, and so my overall memory of the experience was positive. Hers, the opposite. So, neither of us are really in a position to advise the other.

Look, I understand – sometimes you do want a bit of advice, and sometimes you do want someone to tell you that it really is all OK, but equally, all that is, is someone else’s opinion. They might not have got it right!

I reckon that parenting is a lottery. Chuck a dice in the air, and base a judgement on the number that is on the top. I can’t give any advice, because I have no clue what’s going on half the time, and I generally bumble through each day, and somehow we all seem OK at the end of it. If I ever want advice, I will almost probably definitely consult Dr Google, and I will no doubt feel vindicated (eventually) when I find a comment written by someone who feels a bit similar to me.

But please don’t tell me that “every parent has a bad day – tomorrow is a new dawn” or that you were smacked and it did you no harm. I wouldn’t get advice on my mortgage from someone who blogs about it, and that’s much less important than my son.

Sleep tight.