we live in the world today

I haven’t posted in a while. Busy, yes. But also not all that happy. There’s been stuff, pretty rubbish stuff, questioning relationships with friends and relatives, and having to make decisions of a ‘moving on’ nature. Bah. Yuk.

Maybe I should change the name of this blog to “Today I smiled because…” Even when I’m not happy, there’s always something that makes me smile. Like the dad at the fair today, proudly bouncing his toddler daughter on the edge of the bouncy castle, gazing Pimmsily around at all and sundry, oblivious to the fact that her poo-filled pull-up had slipped down her legs and was bouncing, revoltingly, hilariously, by her ankles.

But there was a thing last weekend that’s brought a smile to my face every time I’ve thought about it. My daughter and I had some time together in the afternoon and went to meet the boys and my husband later, where they were playing football with two of my eldest son’s classmates and their dads. As we walked across the Rye to them, I was suddenly struck by the fact that, of the three dads, one (the one I’m married to) was (boringly) hetero and married. One, Muslim and unmarried, but cohabiting/ defacto/ whatever the acceptable term is. And the other, gay, in a relationship that’s about to hit the 20-year mark, and married in a civil ceremony 4 years ago.

I have clear memories of the problems I encountered as the child of a mixed race marriage in the 70s. The world is by no means perfect now, but I love that my children are growing up to question some things while accepting others without a flicker. And, of course, that they are growing up with a dad who’s brilliant, and would be, regardless of colour, race or creed.


I can put the toilet paper in the loo


Really, you have to look on the bright side when you get back from a good holiday, don’t you? Otherwise it’s way too easy to sink into a mire of post-vacation doldrums.

There’s not a lot I don’t enjoy about Greece, and we’re luckier than most in that we have family there and, as such, an access to the lifestyle and culture that just can’t be summarised in a guidebook paragraph. Not to mention the man who bears the title of ‘uncle’ alongside that of ‘World’s Best Loukoumades Maker’ (loukoumaster, if you will).

The bin by the toilet thing doesn’t particularly bother me when we’re there. And I admit that I’m slightly clutching at cheerful straws when I raise it now. But it is kind of nice to live in a city with a reasonably reliable flushing system. And I think my youngest agreed when I took him to the loo at Gatwick this afternoon: on finishing, he reached out for the nearest receptacle, a sanitary unit. “No, no,” I said. “Not bins now, just in the toilet, it’s fine.” He looked at me incredulously. “So I can just put my paper in the toilet?” he asked. “Yep, back in London now, that’s fine,” I replied.

“Yes! I LOVE London!” he shouted, complete with Henman-stle fist pump. Like I said, we’re clutching at cheerful straws. But truly, we’ve had such a good week away. We’re not about to let that holiday feeling go down the shitter, are we?


I collected driftwood

Of course, I’m happy about almost everything at the moment. We’re on holiday in Greece. It’s warm – hot, even – and sunny. We’re staying at The Lost Unicorn, one of the most enchanting places in which you could wish to stay and, luckier still, it’s owned by two of my favourite people in the world, my sister-in-law and her husband. Every morning I take one of the five dogs and go out for a long, mountainous, run; every afternoon we bask on one of the many glorious beaches in the vicinity. Every day we eat too much, laugh a lot and put the children to bed too late.

Today, at Agios Ioannis, I came across a piece of driftwood, perfectly bone-like in its smooth whiteness. Another and another piece beckoned, until we had such a collection that talk of ‘making something from it’ was as irresistible as it was inevitable. Whether we do or not, the meditative satisfaction in finding and amassing it, the pleasure in watching the children arrange, and rearrange it, the feeling of its smooth warmth in my hands: today, these things gave me a quiet joy.