Friday, March 19, 2010

Photo meme

I have no idea whether this will work. Anything more complex than typing my blog is beyond me because a) we have a mac and I have no idea how to do anything on it and b) my default settings are all Chinese so if I face even the smallest problems I get all befuddled. Oh well. I was tagged by London City Mum to take part on a photo meme (?!?!). The rules are thus.

1. Open the first (oldest) photo folder in your computer library
2. Scroll to the 10th photo
3. Post the photo and the story behind it
4. Tag 5 or more people to continue the thread

I don't know 5 people who blog who have not already done this, so I will risk the wrath of the modern chain mail demon and do it all except the last bit. Any readers I don't know about, please pick up and run with this one too.

The photo was taken I am not entirely sure when. Over 7 years ago, because that is how long I have been living in HK and this was taken when I was still living in the UK. It is Christmas (hence the hats and cigars). The man waving like a look behind me is the Boy. The man next to me is my brother in law, S.

I am pretty sure that neither my sister nor my brother in law read this (Mum and Dad, don't tell them), so I can be relatively honest about my brother in law here. I adore him and have more respect for him that almost any other man I have met.

He grew up overseas and moved to the UK in his twenties. He met my sister in the bar where he was working as a bar man. After a while he decided that he wanted to get out of the bar and get a professional qualification, so studied like a demon, took some very difficult exams, and got a much better job. He married my sister, making her very happy.

S is most definitely a boy's boy. He plays rugby (front row so not a shy and retiring flower like those pansies at the back), and loves his sport and his beer. The Boy loves it when we go to visit on our trips home because we can guarantee that any rugby, or football, of any note will be on the TV. He happens to rides a gorgeous big black motorbike, I left him my small one when I left the UK and he quickly moved onto something sleeker and faster. He is also a dab hand at DIY - he and my Dad practically rebuilt my sister's house so that they now have a lovely family home in London.

However, S also dotes on his two children, to the extent that when my nephew was born he decided to give up work and stay at home and look after him and my niece.

There are very few people who have the patience to stay at home and look after children, and even fewer men. I am not in any way being sexist here, but being a stay at home Dad is going somewhat against the grain of society and that has just got to make it harder. My niece and nephew adore their father (who is also an active member of the PTA where my niece goes to school) and he is doing a fantastic job with them. He is also an amazing cook, his pork belly is better than any I have ever had in a restaurant.

As if often the way with families, especially in laws of the opposite gender, we don't tell each other anything like enough that we love them and how fond of them we are. I genuinely could not wish for a better brother in law.

Thanks LCM for giving me the chance to say that.

Friday, March 12, 2010

For the love of a giraffe

My sister, who picks brilliant presents for children (having two adorable ones of her own) sent Eve a lovely gift for her birthday. It was a giftbox containing the wonderful children's book "Giraffes can't dance". If you have not come across it yet, I can highly recommend it as a delightful book, and the others by the same team are similarly charming. They have not quite exceeded my love of Julia Donaldson (Gruffalo, Sharing a Shell etc) but it comes close.

The giftbox came with a height chart and a small cuddly giraffe. Eve loved the book and the giraffe. There is a part in the book that describes Gerald (the giraffe) learning to dance and Eve would grab Gerald at this point and do the actions, including swishing his little tail. Gerald became her absolute favourite toy.

Last week her godfather was passing through town so off we went to meet him for an early supper. She wanted to show him Gerald so he came with us. I was a bit distracted in the cab (we were sharing it with another Dad, see previous post) and I was a bit rushed getting out of the taxi and realised too late that the beloved Gerald had been left behind. I didn't worry too much. The trusty Amazon would come to the rescue and I could just buy another one. I told Eve that Gerald had gone on holiday to London to see her cousins and would be back soon.

Getting home that night, what I expected to be an easy task turned into something quite different.

Amazon has every version of the book imaginable but no giftbox with Gerald. No matter, a couple of bookshops in the UK and New Zealand had it. Except when I went to their websites they were out of stock. It turns out that the cuddly Gerald was a special limited edition and is no longer sold.

With an increasing level of panic I turned to Ebay. Nothing in the US. Nothing on the HK site. I finally found someone who had 4 copies, seemingly the last 4 in the world, in the UK. All I had to do was register and pay, it even had the helpful "buy it now" tag so I could be assured of a new Gerald, although if the truth be known I probably would have bid an obscene amount of money to get my hands on it.

Except I hit a bit of a problem, you can't register on the UK website if you live overseas. It sent me to the HK Ebay site to register, where the whole registration process was in Chinese. By now I was starting to get really worried. Will Eve grow up always hating me? Will she always feel insecure that one day I might forget her and leave her in a taxi? Will she never trust me to tell her the truth again?

I managed to change the registration page to English, whay hey, and then registered. It sent me my confirmation email, which then sent me to a confirmation website that was, drum roll here folks, entirely in Chinese!

Back I went to the UK site and struck upon the brilliant idea of registering under my parent's address. Except it already had me registered via the HK site, which I couldn't read or confirm the registration, so, in effect, I could bugger off.

I started to sob.

Then I remembered that a good friend of mine is a bit of an Ebay-er. One phone call later, she had ordered Gerald and he was being sent to her.

He arrived today, she gave him to me whereupon he went straight into my handbag to ensure I didn't leave him behind in the restaurant. He is now sitting on the dining table where Eve will see him when she wakes up.


Hello, um, hello

Due to my nightly trips to the playground to pick Eve up I have built up a small network of parents and nannies of Eve's friends with whom I am now on speaking terms. I know the names of almost all the nannies, but when it comes to parents I have a complete memory block on the names of other parents.

It's not like there are a lot of them. In HK, where help is so cheap and work hours so long, it is a small band of us who bother/manage to make it to the playground of an evening to collect our charges. In fact, I think I probably only know the parents of 4 or 5 of Eve's friends. However, remembering their names are beyond me. It's not that we haven't been introduced, we have. However, within a goldfish-memory-like split second I forget them and default to calling them Oscar's Daddy or Chris' Mummy. They are all designated in relation to the offspring. I know I'm not the only one either, all the other parents seem to have the same problem. We studiously avoid using each others names except when talking to the children, when Aidan's Mummy becomes a perfectly acceptable name to use. I know what Oscar's Dad does for a living, where his parents live in the UK, his favourite beer (Friday beers in the playground time), even his type and size of motorbike - but I'll be damned if I can remember his name.

Last week I shared a cab with a parent I know quite well (Kieren's Daddy) and the whole cab ride I had to studiously avoid saying his name. It would have been awkward were it not for the fact that he had clearly forgotten my name too.

The worrying thing is that I know, and can remember, most of the nannies' names.

Gratitude for gratitude

Thanks ladies (you know who you are) for taking up the Gratitude Tag idea. Despite being in a place where the bastardised commercial US mother's day is followed, on Sunday Eve and I will be going to a nice Anglican Church where mothering Sunday will be celebrated and Eve will be forced at Sunday school to make me something with loo rolls and sticky back plastic. It will be the first of many I hope.

So, I've found a church I really like (week 4 and I even know the names of most of the congregation), and somewhere that mother's day will be celebrated at the proper time.