Archive for March, 2010

Sing for Life and dance at every chance

March 25, 2010

It was my gran’s 90th birthday party earlier this month.  She didn’t really want a party but I insisted.  Some of my family members would possibly say it was not so much insisting, more like light bullying.   In any event she gave in with good grace and let me organise a party.  We held it at the Soar Centre in Penygraig,  a former Baptist chapel converted into a light and airy multi functional community and arts centre for charity Valleys Kids which is a wonderful example of a building bridging the past, present and future of Rhondda Cynon Taf.

It was I think the only time ever that every single member of my grandmother’s immediate family were all present in one place – her two children, her six grandchildren and her fifteen great grandchildren ranging in age from 20 to a few weeks plus her sister Megan and lots of other family and close friends.   More bridging of the past, present and future.   The last time most of us had been together was for a funeral and I was so very glad that this time we were together for a birthday.    Everybody had made an effort to wear something purple, following the warning in the Jenny Joseph poem “When I am an old woman I shall wear purple” and we had a big group photo taken to celebrate the occasion.

We were honoured that the Sing for Life choir were able to join us and to sing  a medley of Welsh songs followed by Happy Birthday Mam in Welsh and English.  They sang it for Princess Anne and what’s good enough for HRH is good enough for Iris “Mam” Hopkins.  The Sing for Life choir is made up of people mostly from the Rhondda Cynon Taf area who have either suffered from cancer or been affected by cancer and is run in conjunction with cancer charity Tenovus.  Trained by team building and motivational company Sing and Inspire, the choir and their conductors Georgina Jones and Andrea Beardshaw have such energy and such a joy for life that it is uplifting to be round them.   They sang their hearts out to celebrate Mam’s good, long life and their own lives and life in general.  They are an inspiration.

After that it was lights on for the buffet, a few glasses of wine and four generations of family having a bit of a boogie together and yes of course Mam danced.  Because everyone should dance, every chance we get.  And sing for life too.


Mums work at work and work at home and dads just go to work at work

March 16, 2010

This one came to us on one of those round robin emails but is funny and sweet so we thought we’d share it:


Answers given by 2nd year school children to the following questions:

Why did God make mothers?

1.  She’s the only one who knows where the selotape is.

2.  Mostly to clean the house.

3.  To help us out of there when we were getting born.

How did God make mothers?

1.  He used dirt, just like for the rest of us.

2.  Magic plus super powers and a lot of stirring.

3.  God made my mum just the same like he made me.  He just used bigger parts.

What ingredients are mothers made of?

1.  God makes mothers out of clouds and angel hair and everything nice in the world and one dab of mean.

2.  They had to get their start from men’s bones.  Then they mostly use string, I think.

Why did God give you your mother and not some other mum?

1.  We’re related.

2.  God knew she likes me a lot more than other people’s mum like me.

What kind of a little girl was your mum?

1.  My mum has always been my mum and none of that other stuff.

2.  I don’t know because I wasn’t there, but my guess would be pretty bossy.

3.  They say she used to be nice.

What did mum need to know about dad before she married him?

1.  His last name.

2.  She had to know his background.  Like is he a crook?  Does he get drunk on beer?

3.  Does he make at least £8000 a year?  Did he say NO to drugs and YES to chores?

Why did your mum marry your dad?

1.  My dad makes the best spaghetti in the world.  And my mum eats a lot.

2.  She got too old to do anything else with him.

3.  My grandma says that mum didn’t have her thinking cap on.

Who’s the boss at your house?

1.  Mum doesn’t want to be boss, but she has to because dad’s such an idiot.

2.  Mum.  You can tell by room inspection.  She sees the stuff under the bed.

3.  I guess mum is, but only because she has a lot more to do than dad.

What’s the difference between mums and dads?

1.  Mums work at work and work at home and dads just go to work at work.

2.  Mums know how to talk to teachers without scaring them.

3.  Dads are taller and stronger, but mums have all the real power ’cause that’s who you got to ask if you want to sleep over at your friends.

4.  Mums have magic, they make you feel better without medicine.

What does your mum do in her spare time?

1.  Mothers don’t do spare time.

2.  To hear her tell it, she pays bills all day long.

What would it take to make your mum perfect?

1.  On the inside she’s already perfect.  Outside, I think some kind of plastic surgery.

2.  Diet.  You know, her hair.  I’d diet, maybe blue.

If you could change one thing about your mum, what would it be?

1.  She has this weird thing about me keeping my room clean.  I’d get rid of that.

2.  I’d make my mum smarter.  Then she would know it was my sister who did it not me.

3.  I would like for her to get rid of those invisible eyes on the back of her head.

Happy International Women’s Day 2010

March 7, 2010

My grandmother is 90 next week.  We’ve got a big party planned – cake, balloons, live music and.. tap the microphone and say it in your best DJ voice… lights on for the buffet.   No bingo though – she drew the line at bingo, even if she is celebrating hitting top of the shop Nine Oh.  So what has my Gran’s birthday got to do with International Women’s Day? 

When my Gran was born in 1920 women over the age of thirty had only just been given the vote in 1918.  She was eight before the Equal Franchise Act granted women the vote on the same terms as men from the age of 21.    She was 55 when the Sex Discrimination Act was passed making it illegal for employers to discriminate against female workers and, amazingly she was 64 by the time Liechtenstein became the last country in Europe to give women the vote in 1984.  My Gran’s lifespan maps the progress of women’s struggle for equality. 

That is not to say that my Gran herself was one of the women actively engaged in that struggle.   She was always a stay at home Mum (although no one called it SAHM back then) and was proud to describe herself as a housewife.    Her priorities were getting married to a good man who made a decent living and having kids and keeping a clean and tidy house.   Later her priorities became coping with the difficulties of being widowed aged just 39 and after that they became her grandchildren and playing golf.   However, that struggle for equality running alongside her life meant that her daughter become one of the first girls from the Rhondda to go to University and that by the time her three granddaughters went to University there were as many women as men in the UK attending tertiary education and women no longer needed a man to make a decent living as they were perfectly capable of making their own.  Given that we’ve come such a long way in just one woman’s lifespan do we still need inherently sexist events like International Women’s Day and Superwoman?

That was a rhetorical question.  Of course we do.  Women are still paid 12.2% less than men for full time work in the UK, there are only four female chief executives of FTSE 100 companies and 30,000 women are estimated to lose their jobs each year in Great Britain as a result of becoming pregnant.  Of greater immediate concern than those statistics is the fact that in a recent poll of 1000 British girls (even if it was carried out by a mobile entertainment company) 60% said glamour modelling was their preferred career.  A quarter said they would consider becoming lap dancers.  

Somewhere along my Gran’s lifespan of progress, the struggle for equality has taken a huge step back.  How has the cult of celebrity reached the point where so many young women measure their worth by how they look and anorexia is on the up?  That’s why we need to celebrate International Women’s Day and the sort of events organised to mark it – like Women Inspiring Women organised by Chwarae Teg  and “Making a Mark – Women, the Media and Politics” organised by the Institute of Welsh Affairs Women.  To highlight the contributions women make at all levels – politics, business, culture, community and family – and to demonstrate to our daughters and to our nieces that this is where their worth lies, not in being a size zero with fake boobs and swollen lips.   Because, let’s say it together girls, internationally, we’re worth so much more than how we look.

Guilty secret

March 1, 2010

Don’t tell anyone right but I have something to confess.  You know the newspaper the Guardian, the one that used to be called the Grauniad back in the day on account of all the typos?  Yes well I read it on a Saturday.  Don’t be daft – that’s not my confession – I haven’t done the confessing bit yet.  No, my confession is my peculiar fondness for the Soulmates ads in the Guide section.

It’s not only that I find it touching that there are people out there who are not prepared to trust the difficult business of love to  What I like is the effort and personality and quirkiness that goes into some of these ads.    This Saturday there was “Pensions in Paradise- newly retired, left wing, funky F, own teeth and bus pass, looking for laid-back bloke. E.Sussex” and “From the Beatles to Bowie & beyond – V.attract, v. youthful F, 50’s , wants M who lived in the 60’s and has stayed awake. Chesh/anywhere”    I almost want to contact these women myself and say sorry I’m not a fella but how about being friends with me because you sound like a lot of fun.    Then there was “Attract.intellig. Welsh speaking F 42, warm and enthusiastic with GSOH, open to a big change in life, ints in reading, growing and outdoor stuff.  Only looking for LTR with attract, quick-witted M, 35-50.  N’ham.”  It’s the Welsh speaking/N’ham bit that caught my eye.  Do you think she was hoping to flush out the quick-witted attract Welsh speaking men already living in N’ham or entice some Welsh speakers from Wales up to N’ham for a bit of siarad Cymraeg?   Or maybe speaking Welsh is something you have to get out in the open right at the start before you even go on the first date, much like the “I’m divorced and have a two year old son” stern conversation I had to have with Mr S when he first started flirting with me?

And are there blokes out there worthy of these women?  In the male section of Soulmates I found:  “Leftish, intellectual type, 68, full head of grey hair, semi-retired, usual Guardian interests WLTM affectionate, pretty, slim F with a view to living together, LTR with strong romantic component. Ldn.”  You can pack a lot of meaning into “usual Guardian interests” but if I was “Pensions in Paradise” I wouldn’t be calling “Leftish, intellectual type” any time soon,  no siree, cos the attributes he was looking for in a woman were being affectionate, pretty and slim.   Hardly that intellectual then.  Get your big red bingo pen out girls (oh, Guardian women don’t play Bingo, why not?  I love a bit of bingo me.  Ok any old pen then) and put a big cross through the middle of any bloke advertising for slim, attractive or young.  You’re all worth way more than that.   Also avoid stalker types like this one  “When you smile at someone it’s an act of love, a gift, a beautiful thing.  When you talk to someone new that can be beautiful too, so…talk to me!”  Don’t even think of talking to him Guardian women!  Run a mile!  Who does that leave?  Well there’s  “Work in progress. I’m a 53 yo M, keen on poetry, novels, theatre, visual art, cycling, walking, jazz & classical music, WLTM heappy, creative, 38 to 53 who is comfortable with herself and can surprise me!” Just don’t bother applying if you’re so much as six months older than me….  Or “Halcyon days.  Looking for F 30- 44 to spend quality time with.  My ints include sunshine, sailing, skiing, swimming (sea), Greek/Scottish islands, living a simple life and saving the environment.”  Is it just me or does this one sound a bit, well, pernickety  – swimming (sea), I mean really,  and also tight, like he’d  buy cheap scratchy toilet roll and use a tea bag three times and call it saving the environment?  Oh here’s one “Sexy Scottish smiler seeks sassy siren.  I am 42, 6′, emotionally intellig, slightly geeky & wear my heart on my sleeve WLTM someone under 50 for honesty, laughter and hugs.  NW ”  Quick, Welsh speaker from N’ham.  Give him a ring.   You can teach him Welsh if he turns out to be a good kisser.  And if he isn’t N’ham’s far enough away from NW.