In a manner of speaking…


A herd of hairy humplecrimps, buckets of snozzcumbers, served before strawbunkles and cream and followed by a large bottle of frobscottle.

Sloshfunking wraprascals and a nest of squizzly scotch-hoppers, a few puddlenuts and a gobblefunking fizzwinkle, to name just a few.

It’s not only hopscotchy, it’s whoopsey-splunkers – and I don’t dally with my words – I’m not switchfidding you, talking rommytot or flushbunking and, neither am I cockles.

Call me a swinebuggler or a pigswiller but I’ll never be your bloodbottler.


If you want to give you binlids a proper education in storytelling, you better adam and eve it, I swear from the bottom of my jam tart, there is only one heap of coke who puts the best dicky birds together and that is my absolute all time hero Mr Roald Dahl.


Not only did he write The BFG in the most scumdiddlyumptious, ringbeller wonderveg fashion, he created Mugglewump, The RolyPoly Bird, Mr & Mrs Twit, Charlie Bucket, Augustus Gloop, Grandmamma and many, many more.

This man is a wordsmith like no other and he is my turtle dove.

Pea. S. Quentin Blake is damn Robin Hood too.


Forgive me this confabulation of fromage – but it is, indeed, National Poetry, err, The States, but I assume I can still join in?…Seeing as we are all part of the global cheese eating community, what?


 My Cheesepuff
In cahoots with le toots…..

This boy whose ripe semen
made my whole body teemen-
with babies.

This man of just thirty-five-
when we kissed, made me feel so alive.
With love and lust, with crazed, wild-headed amor.
And although we were always so, so poor.
We were rich with simplicity,
Just two babies, him and me.
No mortgage, no home, no sense of 2.4
A bycycle, some lycra.

But we always wanted more…

A dusty jeep in the Spanish mountains,
a French farmhouse…and space for counting
our children, as four became five.
A wilderness, a desert, a city, a community
That certain something, a je ne sais quoi, that will make us blissful with glee…

Of course, we already have it,
Me and my cheese puff.
We already have quite, quite enough,
And more, but that won’t stop us looking
We will never stop cooking-
Up; plans and adventures, dreams and desires,
Of stories to tell our grandchildren round campfires.

British Happiness

In search of that elusive elixir: joie de vivre, I stumbled upon this BBC article which unviels the five happiest places in the UK, according to research from the government.

Tellingly all five are in remote regions – far from large, sprawling, commercial hubs; environments offering a simpler way to live, a sense of community, less industry, concrete and wide, open, green spaces.

But, we knew this already didn’t we? Or do we? Happiness seems to be far harder to achieve here in the West, despite the fact that we literally have everything we could ever possibly need, and some; and, in fact, some more – frothy milk anyone?

We strive to look right on the outside, yet can feel utterly desolate and confused on the inside. Living in a materialistic society makes it difficult to understand our role within it. Our choices are constantly motivated by consumerism – products the marketers create to help us establish our, apparent, uniqueness.


As child education expert and author Sue Barker says in her fabulous book, 21st Century Girls; “Visual media demonstrated how products can define identity; they teemed with images of successful new men and women, attractively dressed, carefully coiffed, driving smart cars, eating exotic food, and living in swish designer homes. So we concentrate on earning enough money to pay for the perfect lifestyle, clinging to the belief that this would make everything come right in the end.”

She goes on to describe how family life has turned into family lifestyle…yikes.

However, this is not our faults; this is the product of us all coping in what is an increasingly global, capitalist world.

But we can make choices based on creating a simple family life rather than a family lifestyle. We find it easier to read the marketers message – a message that our children cannot decipher between.

It is easy to fill our children’s lives with gadgets, toys and screens, it is hard to say no. Yet we need to to help our children have lives and not lifestyles, not just now but when they become adults in this progressively faster technology-based world we inhabit.

A Musical Heritage

The Cure, The Style Council, Billy Bragg, David Bowie, Caravan, Queen, Lou Reed, The Maytals, Paul Weller, The Specials, John Lennon, Mick Jagger, Iggy Pop, Miles Davis, Stevie Wonder…and so, so, so many more, are my current antidote to that shockingly painful gangnam (sp?) song that the Koreans fired over and that my binlids have been taken with.

Yes,  children, should have access to popular culture, but when it is that bad it sets you to thinking about a proper musical education. And so ours has begun in earnest.

And because the one extraordinarily positive thing this small grey island has going for it, is its sheer amount of incredible musicians, in Blighty our musical heritage is prodigious. I am extremely proud of that.


Being the youngest of four, I was spoilt in my melodic choice, my siblings introduced me to a wealth of musical genius and it’s foundation shaped my diverse joy in music, I want to pass that on to my children.

This wealth can also educate us, as parents and keep us grounded, consider Bowie’s Kooks:

“…And if you ever have to go to school,
Remember how they messed up
this old fool.
Don’t pick fights with the bullies
or the cads
Cause I’m not much cop at punching other peoples dads.
And if the homework brings you down
Then we’ll throw it on the fire
And take the car downtown..”

All of this will provide them with a firm musical legacy, that they can bounce off.

My only problem is when to stop…

Just say NO

I’ve decided, in my own 21st century capitalistic fashion, to: just say NO to my children when it comes to ALL things digital.

Tucker, it turned out, was right.Image

Just saying NO is a bloody marvellous plan, you should try it sometime.

It is dead easy to give in and just say yes, because, quite frankly, the buggers go on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and…oh it takes a lot of balls to say nae – but believe me it is well worth the sulking.

Without banging on about the currently thought, irksome consequences of too much screen time, it is, for me, more than that. I am fed up to the eyeballs with finding my mobile ensconced under a duvet and smeared in sticky finger marks, and my computer tuned in to all things friv. Not to mention the endless arguments that ensue between the offspring when one of the buggers has got hold of said device; the others spend an unprecedented amount of time arguing for their turn. Which is enough to drive anyone loco.

It could be construed as harsh, cruel or even petty of me. But goddam it these kids have got the rest of their adult lives to be immersed in mobile technology, this is one part of modern living that is not going to swing by unnoticed.

There is an enormous amount of pressure to conform, to buy into the ipods, Xboxes and whatever else exists out there and it takes a lot of courage to go against the general pack. But in the longer term your child will be better for it, they will be forced to work out what to do with themselves – and that is quite a skill  – we don’t want them to be reliant on a small plastic box for everything.

I know I am not alone in refusing to allow my kids to watch TV everyday and to never let them watch TV in the car, we don’t want them to turn out like this: (sorry Roland).Image

It seems obvious that it is totally unnessecary, whatever happened to conversations? Arguments? Picnics and the like. Car-travel across Europe begins and ends for us with listening to some tunes, educating the children in The Style Council and The The or singing our hearts out and, always, being read fantastic stories by the heady heights of people like Stephen Fry, Alan Bennett, Roald Dahl and Simon Callow.

So what do you think? Do you think we should say No more often and bear the consequences? Or just go with the general flow?

The Secret Map of Motherhood

Sara Bran

Map of EuropeSome days I am not big enough for this. This unexpected battleground of “Please will you…” and “Eat this…” and “Where is my?” and “Don’t forget to…” and all before 8am.

Some mornings, I plan the whole route in my head; the Overland train to West Hampstead, West Hampstead to St Pancras, then the Eurostar to the solar plexus of Europe, Paris. From there, anywhere. Within hours I could be curled up in the boot of Italy or reading by a fire in a log cabin that overlooks a freshwater lake or dipping my white toes in the Black Sea, salt on my lips. Because some days, that is where motherhood sends me; to a hidden corner of an imaginary map of freedom I hold in my head like the teenage heart holds a kiss.

Some mornings, I plot my escape all the way back from school to my front…

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