Friday, 24 August 2007

The Dreaded GCSEs

It had sat there in the calendar all summer, like a toad brooding under a stone, waiting to trip us up. All plans on hold until the day arrived and we could breathe again, know where we would be next year, whether things would continue as before, or if we needed to scramble around frantically, trying to find a new school/college, or perhaps even a job. Results day had finally arrived.

We had tried not to talk about it or dwell on it, fearful of anticipating or expecting, skirting around the issue. I know my son hardly slept the night before. I don't exaggerate when I say that neither of us had any real idea what to expect.

We got into the car yesterday morning with set faces, not speaking. What could we say? 

'Don't come with me, Mum,' he said, 'I want to do this on my own. Wait for me here.' 

He got out of the car and strode off across the school forecourt. I got out too and walked around anxiously. Ten minutes later he reappeared and I knew from the big grin on his face that it was going to be OK. Against all the odds and all expectations, after all the years of gruelling parents' evenings, complaints from teachers, letters home, unhelpful professional interference, he had pulled it off when it really mattered.

He has 10 good GCSE's and has sailed back into the Sixth Form of his school. The show goes on. I am a good mother. Actually, I am an excellent mother. And he is a star.

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Little white, lacy, strappy things

My sons are home! The washing machine and dishwasher rumble incessantly, there is never enough milk, bread, cereal or red wine, casseroles bubble on the stove and the mother in me stirs and purrs contentedly, testosterone drifting through the house as their deep voices mingle and merge.

So why, I wonder, did I take a detour on my way to stock up again at Waitrose, to trawl through the racks of sale price clothes in Fat Face, discarding the sensible sweat shirts and fleecy, warm zippy things and finding my way to the little white, lacy, strappy vest top, to be secreted amongst the carrots and potatoes and meat and cheese? Perhaps my mind had drifted towards the Man in the Pink Shirt, currently battling the wind and tides somewhere off the South Coast, no doubt swathed in utilitarian waterproofs?

I suppose I could always hide it under a sensible fleece if I go sailing again. Only I would know it was there, surely. After all, if he had wanted a sensible woman, what on earth is he doing with me?

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Sailing Lessons

'Down below' was even smaller than I had expected. More intimate. For a six berth yacht, there was surprising little space. Even the two of us had to negotiate the cabin and deck with great care.

We set off down the channel towards the Solent, first under engine then, when the wind got up, the sails went up and things became really interesting as we tipped and rolled in the swell. I kept forgetting that I should push the tiller in the opposite direction to where we were heading, but this didn't really matter until we were approaching Cowes and fell in with the racing yachts during Cowes week. Rather a lot to cope with for a novice but somehow we negotiated the crowded waters and eventually found the river leading to the pub.

We berthed three deep, cut the engine and sat for a while, drinking champagne, eating the olives and goat's cheese and french bread meant for a lunch that never happened, chatting to the friendly men in the next berth as the sun went down, trying to remember who wrote 'Sitting in the Dock of the Bay' and wasn't there a Kink's song about boats and a river? 'Waterloo Sunset' perhaps?

On Sunday morning, we were jarred out of our lazy breakfast too soon by the French couple tied up alongside us and anxious to leave, but with the wind and tides with us and the sun beating down, I was at last able to change into my pink swimsuit and sit peacefully on deck, soak in the hot sun, watch the boats criss-cross the calm sea, rub sun screen into each other's backs and admire his skill as he brought us home again.