Sunday 22 October 2006

A second slice of meme

How do we know tagged me. The first 4 random Z-facts went up yesterday and here are 4 more.

* I am not a perfectionist. I think somewhere between 80% and 95% is ample and if 70% will do, that’s good enough for me. There is always an exception, however, and any sort of handiwork should be as near perfect as possible because, as long as the work is actually completed, there is very little more work in getting it exactly right than in just wrong enough to annoy you forever.

* My special talent is in keeping small children quiet in restaurants while waiting for a meal to arrive. This does not mean I go round the tables entertaining them, god forbid, I refer only to children who are at my table. I teach them napkin folding – from Mrs Beeton. The two I do are fairly intricate, but attractive. One is a slipper and the other I call a waterlily, although I have a feeling Mrs B. called it a rose and crown or something. The other thing I do is teach them, from The Walrus and the Carpenter,

“The time has come,” the Walrus said
“To talk of many things.
Of shoes - and ships - and sealing-wax,
Of cabbages - and kings.
And why the sea is boiling hot-
And whether pigs have wings.”

Which takes them ages to learn and entertains them mightily. You might not find these much fun, but small children do and a number of parents have been very grateful to me. As have whole restaurantfuls of customers who are glad to find they are not being disturbed by bored 5-year-olds

* I am not squeamish in regard to creepy crawlies. I will pick up any insect, arachnid, or scuttling creature except cockroaches, which receive no mercy from me and are exterminated at sight. I have not, in fact, seen a cockroach in this country for years (little ones in a hotel bathroom in Chennai didn’t bother me and I didn’t kill them – I was the intruder not they) but one year we had a delivery of coal to my parents’ house which must have contained cockroach eggs, which hatched in the warmth of the coal cellar where the boiler was also situated. They came up the pipes into the kitchen and were the devil to eliminate.

Nothing else bothers me, I’ll pick up slugs, spiders, blackbeetles and mice which I have pursued round the room and trapped under a cushion, anything that, if it bites me, will not cause any particular injury, because that would be unwise. When I was a little girl, I deeply resented the nursery rhyme

‘What are little boys made of?
What are little boys made of?
Frogs and snails and puppy-dogs’ tails,
That’s what little boys are made of

What are little girls made of?
What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice and all things nice,
That’s what little girls are made of.’

I wondered why boys got the fun things and girls just had to be ‘nice’.

* I miss my long hair. I loved it. I used to hold it against my face and snuggle into it. As a child, I had long, blonde hair and it wasn't until my mid-twenties that I had it cut to somewhere just below my shoulders. When I was pregnant with Ro, I couldn't bear the thought of that backward lean into the basin, so I avoided going to the hairdresser and it grew very long again. Eventually I had it cut into a bob and, in variations of style and with the addition, a couple of years back, of a fringe, there it has stayed.

I miss being properly blonde. If I had all my hair, it would be, but it needs a few months of growth to make its mind to go to its real colour and so it's the sort of blonde that looks brown to someone who doesn't know what they are looking for. I did have highlights put in for a year or two, some while back, but two hours and quite a lot of money to have something done so subtly that my husband didn't even notice for six months seemed a bit pointless.

Because my hair was so long and I hardly ever had it cut, I was a virtual stranger to the hairdresser for many years. When I did go, I used to fall asleep. The massaging sensation, the stroking and combing, the repetitive snipping sound of the scissors was very soporific. I had to fight an overwhelming urge to go to sleep.

I seem to have ended on a slightly melancholy note, but there we are. Maybe when I am old and have silver hair, I'll let it grow again and twine it up in a chignon, and brush it out each night lovingly. Until then, it'll look better short.

I started by thinking that this was impossibly hard. But - or is it just me? - it's quite easy to write about oneself. I won't tag you by name, but I have several people in mind* ----------** so, if you have a go, please let me know.

*Yup, you ;-)

**yes, you too, sweetie


Girlplustwo said...

z of the long blonde hair, the queen of napkin folding and speaking of nursery very nice to become better acquainted.

do you think the table tricks work on a pumpkin as young as two?

Z said...

I plumbed the hidden shallows there, all right.

I think they would work with a two-year-old, although for a limited period of time. Drawing, onto a paper napkin, round the hands of each person at the table and comparing sizes entertains for a while too. This is not a good idea at Smart Establishments where they have linen napkins, however.

I think that restaurants should have a quiet word with parents and offer a few breadsticks and crudités right away, as food is what small children usually need and they can't understand why it takes so long. But they shouldn't be brought so much as to spoil their appetites. And I hate children's menus, which are usually crap.

Anonymous said...

I think you'd be a marvellous addition to any table - with or without children. But then you miss out on all the adult talk - which is half the fun of eating, another hat's off to you.

I really like that poem...had forgotten all about it - and will memorise it myself and teach it to the boys when they are bored waiting at the doctor's room...

It's a real pity about your hair. I have grown mine long again after 5 years of super-short hair...was thinking of a haircut again but have decided to keep growing it..I, too, love the feel of it..the silky warmth and the familiar weight..just a pain in the butt to dry it hair is terribly thick and takes forever.

About the meme - can't imagine who * and ** are - but you know what, if you don't mind I'll regard myself as one of those little asterisks and do it later this week...yours was very interesting..much better than the dreck people usually write.

And I thought I'd tell you what WE had for supper tonight - seeing as you always have me salivating (not that this will make you salivate as it is really 'nursery food' for the boys)...

...homemade chicken schnitzel with parsely and lemon cream sauce ..

...crushed buttery potatoes..

...carrots with honey and sesame seeds... sweet corn...

...tomato salad...

very simple but absolutely yummy.

Oh and a glass of red for me.

Z said...

You are a star, indeed.

Hoho, that was witty wasn't it, and it came to me all in a flash!

Wonderful supper, it sounds delicious. The simplest foods are often the most delicious aren't they. It's the freshness and quality of the ingredients and the care - not necessarily time or great complexity - in the preparation that count.

We're having a simple meal too, roast chicken, the last, I should think, of the courgettes from the garden, roast potatoes and parsnips, and I've got cabbage, leeks and carrots, but I can't do 'em all, I'll have to choose. White wine tonight.

It's good to give full attention to one's friends' children, to make them feel liked and their company enjoyed. It's a compliment to the friends as well and lets them relax, knowing I'm enjoying it, the kids are happy and well-behaved. It is a pleasure to do if it's not too often... and I can catch up with the chat once the food arrives.

Anonymous said...

Ever thought about writing a book? Or a TV series/DVD/video etc on 'Ways to stop young children spoiling the BWs outings to restaurants'? Ooops, I mean, on 'How to meaningfully occupy your children rather than letting them shout, scream and run around restaurants'?

I guess the title needs a little polishing...

Z said...

It amazes me that people don't spend a bit of effort trying to make the occasion quietly enjoyable for children. A meal out should be a treat, and it's worth spending some effort to pre-empt boredom. If you ignore them until they behave badly, that rewards bad behaviour rather than good.

And children's menus almost always have exactly the same rubbish on them. I don't go out to eat fish fingers and neither should they have to. And why is there never a vegetarian option for children? Except baked beans, I suppose.

How about 'Give your children a treat, and impress the BWs too.'

Monozygote said...

My best game is The Menu Quiz. You give them a set time to memorise the menu, including any illustrations, the presentation and so forth, and then quiz them on it. eg How many different kinds of steak are there? What vegetables do you get with the salmon en croute (or the fish fingers, depending). Not quite as dignified as napkin-folding, I grant you, but quite fun, nevertheless.

Z said...

That's a marvellous one, Dandelion, especially if you have chatty children. Napkins are very good for the shy ones.