106

I greatly admire my younger son’s capacity for fun. Told he must read before watching, I find him an hour later, sofa-reclined watching Sesame Street in turban, cloak and exotic trousers. He’s surrounded by books: “Literature to improve my vocabulary and enrich my mind…” he says. Amongst several Dr Seuss, a biography of Thomas Hardy and some Bill Bryson.

105

I look out at as my son sets off to school (he who so faithfully wore holey shoes in the snow) to a sky inkly black, ominously promising storms but – and here’s the rhetorical question – can I convince him to wear a coat?

104

My child is ill and I feel so helpless, wish I had a magic wand. Why don’t our most precious inherit only our best traits, not the weak lungs?

103

AsI walked high up into the snow buried hills where the only sound was the busy-ness of birds surviving sub-zero temperatures. Extreme weather conditions had frozen the awful pace of C21st living and I felt a peace too rarely known. I could have been standing 150 years ago, in a poem by Thomas Hardy.

102

As a parent you have to choose your battles. If tears result and shouting and hurtful words, is it worth insisting your child wear sensible shoes to school? Better to let him walk through a foot of snow and slip on treacherous ice in designer plimsolls if he, at least, is happy?

101

Sometimes life throws nothing but curve balls at you. That’s when I thank whoever came up with the idea for You Tube and settle down to watch Bill Cosby perform “Chocolate Cake”.

100

You see the darndest things: outside the laundrette the man who’d just tidied his car had made a little bonfire of rubbish underneath his car.

99

I had a meeting about setting up in business with a very kind woman who patiently explained how the money side works. On seeing my eyes glaze over she kept asking, “you’re not following, are you…?” I apologised, whilst mentally clinging to the artist who wants to make a living, knowing I have to embrace a business head who feels so alien to me.

98

A friend of mine says perfectionism is a complete waste of time, a ladder you climb and are doomed to fall off, over and over and over again.

97

Britain is technically an island but could, after recent floods, be described as a lake, or rather a serious of lakes punctuated by the occasional bridge at high ground…

96

The more I read the papers, the more I want to take to my bed, or at least buy a plot of land, build a small eco friendly house and keep the world at bay. But wait, isn’t that what I came to France to do? And the world refused to be kept at bay and the little plot of land in the middle of nowhere proved lonely, so here I am, in town, reading the newspapers, dreaming of a little plot of land…

95

I listen intermittently as the boys recite a rapid mishmash of Sacha Baron Cohen scripts, Monty Python,Blackadder, various French comedies and the Muppets during supper. I smile occasionally, reassuringly, absentmindedly, fall back into an all too familiar landscape of shopping lists, washing up, chores, rugby training, orthodontical appointments, wondering if I’ll ever finish the book I started last summer…

94

If you can’t write a word in the morning without having first drunk tea, are you an addict? This is necessarily a very short post as I must go and fill the kettle….

93

I adore my kids, but as the swiftly passing years carry them towards the baccalaureate, I find myself harbouring guilty thoughts about boarding planes, reading books, being able to afford the occasional holiday, coming home late… whilst at the same time knowing I’ll miss their exuberant silliness and boundless affection.

92

The opening lines of Leisure, by Newport’s immortal poet and self-styled “supertramp”, W.H. Davies, flicker through my mind as I make mental lists of all the things I’d like or should but don’t have time to do: “What is this life if, full of care, / We have no time to stand and stare? ”.

91

Two profound thoughts on a cold, bright day…
1: no two people perceive the external world in the same way
2: a week is a long time in politics – and affairs of the heart.

90

Later the same wind-blast day, I try cycling into town but get blown off course. Streets are strewn with broken glass and last night’s recycling. Newspapers flap like mad distressed birds. Shutters bang, shops are closed, park gates locked, so no possibility of taking a walk there… I stare through them and watch branches fall in slow motion to the ground…

89

Mad wind storms blew all night long at speeds of up to 50km. Mid October, yet before dawn the temperature was already 20°C and the dry wind felt desert-hot. A neighbour’s house cordoned off the end of our street: his new roof lies in shards on the tarmac below. All day long fire engines and ambulances will ring their bells…

88

Here we go again. The Head at my son’s new school says he’s not prepared to “take the risk” of allowing my son to eat his packed lunch in the school canteen. The contents of a vegetarian’s lunch box could feasibly wipe out the local population with a superbug?

87

A fifteen year old beauty said ‎”C’est avec les gens qu’on aime le plus qu’on se comporte le plus mal.” Out of the mouths of babes…