Burlesque is the new Black

On the 9th of December this year , I had a life changing experience.  9 girls of varying shapes, sizes, backrounds , nationalities and ages came to do their 5th Glitter Fever  – burlesque striptease show at the venue I work for. It’s the first time we’ve ever hosted something similar , and after numerous meetings and presentations with the organizers … one , a young woman who walked away from quite a promising career as a journalist for TF1( French national tv channel)to devote herself to the art of undressing , the other a former senior manager for a huge international rock bar chain who now hosts some of the biggest tattoo art festivals in France … I was just a little more than intrigued.

Sound  & lighting rehearsals were set for 3pm on the afternoon of the show.  A motley crew of blondes , brunettes & multicolored headscarves ( hiding huge foam rollers) dragging anything from fluo hula hoops , angel wings , 1950’s telephones to enormous walk in wardrobes on wheels starting drifting in . They had all braved the snow drifts , freezing temperatures and some even the bad tempered baggage handlers in Charles de Gaulle airport who left thousands of passengers stranded on runways in below zero temps …… because …? ( because that’s what baggage handlers do in France … I can’t think of another reason?)

I wasn’t sure what the show was going to be like , I’d seen fabulous photos of their previous shows , but the ladies all just seemed so normal & unassuming that I was beginning to wonder whether I’d just made a big mistake & was about to lose my Christmas bonus … possibly even my job. …..( Julia Roberts … ‘do you work on commission – big mistake’ ..;famous  film scene  going off in my mind)

 Then Missy Malone stepped onto the stage to walk through her sound check … fully dressed , curlers in and held in place with a red headscarf ….the music came on and the whole room stopped. I have never seen anything like it. Just 5 minutes previously , I’d been talking to a soft spoken Scots girl who was wondering would it be too much trouble to have a vegetarian curry instead of the chicken one and BLAM ……here she is setting the stage on fire ..

Each girl did two stage presentations during the night , all of them ending up topless except for nipple pasties …. The theme was ROCK N ROLL with a guest Dj called Mlle Vegas , a more mature and voluptuous version of Amy Winehouse … (but twice as interesting ) who Viva las vegas’d her way through the sets , drinking only champers and proving beyond all reasonable doubt that life begins at almost 40. Mlle Vegas also runs & rock n roll vintage , burlesque shop in the Marais in Paris ….. I haven’t made it there yet , but am expecting some fabulous surprises in store when I do. (48 Rue Charlot – 75003 Paris – M° Filles du Calvaire )

Me , I watched the whole show between stints at the door( playing a bulldog chewing a wasp to over excited / confused tourists who didn’t want to pay the entry but wanted to know if the girls “took off their breasts” ) and the DJ booth ( making sure the bubbles were being poured into the DJ’s , not the headsets).

 What these girls do, revealed more than just a few tastefully positioned diamante love hearts & tassels…

For years I’ve been hindered in my happiness as a woman because I have never ever been really comfortable with my own body. It’s OUTRAGEOUS …. A crying shame , disastrous , to be avoided at all costs (and lots of other outraged sayings about crying shameful stuff ) ……and quite a common occurrence in women. After having a couple of drinks with girls after the show , I realized , that I’ve got way too many hang ups and it’s time to let go.

Call me old fashioned or whatever , but in my very first serious live in relationship  , I used to peg it into the bed before my boyfriend got there , and only get fully undressed ( in the dark …. In the dark) once I was under the covers …….revealing stuff ?. If only I had known way back then , that I had nothing to be ashamed of. Maybe it’s the almost 40 hormones kicking in here , or the red lights of Pigalle sending subliminal messages … but I’m so over all that now. ( Almost ….. I’ll get there). As Miss Glitter says herself ; the hardest thing to take off are the hang-ups and complexes. It’s a very heavy load for some women .

  Every single girl on that stage was shaped completely differently , some rounder , some thinner , some taller , some teeny-weeny ,some well endowed some not … but not one of them was uncomfortable with who they are , so , when the lights came up & the clothes came off … their honest to goodness attitude to what they were doing was beautiful.

MissGlitter Painkiller ,( http://www.missglitterpainkiller.com/ ) the lady who arranged the whole event , hosts ‘art of undressing workshops’ on a  regular basis in Paris. God help her , she doesn’t know it yet , but instead of buying myself the latest ‘Little black dress – version 2011’ , I’m going Burlesque ( version glitter fever) for the New year.

It is, after all , the new black.

Thanks for the tea & the glitter

Mama S. xxx

ps … photos , classes , upcoming show details all available on Miss Glitters site.

Posted in Living in Paris, Things I see in Paris | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Moi, Maman & the Mystery of the Moulin Rouge.

Every morning I wake up to the sound of this city coming back to the reality of daily life , my children (more often than not) fighting ; and the stillness of the great arms of the majestic Moulin Rouge. From my spot by the cooker , I can see the side of this historic monument that is rarely caught on camera ; the metal door leading to the electrical cables that charge it up and spin the web of intricate lights , and the keeper of the secrets of the 120 odd years of the history of this fabled place.

La Goulue

  That, alone, never ceases to intrigue me. I feel like a modern day Don Quixote , my windmill reminds me that I am but a miniscule dot on the great map of life. Initially the history of the show , the building and the people who’ve walked or danced the boards here, overwhelmed me. From what I’ve gathered over the past few years , the Moulin first became famous as a type of freak show tavern in a part of the city that was riddled with the unwanted. Place Blanche was a once a working class quarry , and Montmartre  a hang-out for opium smokers and absinthe inspired artists. La Goulue , a strangely disproportionate woman would entertain the gentlemen drinkers with her outrageously flamboyant leg kicks , revealing her petticoats and flicking their top hats to the floor with her freak show antics. No wonder Lautrec was so inspired and comfortable here , as a disproportionately small man himself , he quickly became an intricate part of the scenery ….. A place where, the unloved & undesirable became legends.  The more up close and personal I get with it all , the more I realize that this is the closest I’ve come to one of history’s giant wheels of fortune … the Moulin rouge has been a catalyst for many changes over the years , my own miniscule perception of so many things included.

                            When we first moved in, I had to keep pinching myself to make sure it all wasn’t just a fantastic dream (and that bobby Ewing wasn’t about to step out of the shower in a Dallas type crash land into reality). It’s not our house , we will never own it ; it’s all part of a 120 year old heritage that belongs to an incredible lady who  even though she’s possibly somewhere in her seventies looks like she should have a perfume named after her.( Birdlike , impeccably dressed and still smokes cigarillos that hang off the end of an ivory filter that’s probably worth more than I’ll ever earn in a lifetime……. ) ..; it has become our home.

                               My first encounters with the dancers in the hallway , had me dashing , red faced and abashed  towards the stairwell , lest somebody ask me what the hell I was doing there. My daughter and her penchant for all things glittery soon broke the ice on that one. My husband and his great ability to be himself no matter what situation you put him in, was quickly on a first name basis with a large percentage of the 250 staff that work there …. I suppose that somewhere in the back of my holy catholic mind , I figured you just had to be a ‘certain kind of person’ to work in a topless Cabaret  , yet at the same time thought the girls were incredible and inspirational….. As it turns out they are .

         They are Scottish , Swedish , English , Australian , Ukrainian , Polish , French ,(I think there have been some Irish girls)  …,  intelligent , extremely hard working  and believe it or not :  not that  different from you and I  …. Ok , they don’t need a team of medical professionals on standby when they do the splits , nor do they need wonder-bras to differentiate between their upper and lower ribcages … but when you take the make-up and feathers off and put  the jeans & a t-shirt on , you could easily be talking to one of your mates from back home.

1891 - La Goulue captured on canvas by Toulouse Lautrec

            I had an interesting couple of glasses of dodgy Bordeaux with Diane Robertson , Moulin Dancer and photographer recently. Diane is Australian and has been dancing with the Moulin Rouge for 8 years . She has just finished her final dance contract and is concentrating  on launching her career as a professional photographer , make up artist and travel addict. Since we’ve both been discovering the ins and outs of life in this part of the world for roughly the same amount of time ;  I asked her would she be interested in answering a few dodgy questions for my blog. To help break the mould of the perceptions that people like ‘me’ might have on what being a Moulin dancer is or isn’t.

Diane grew up between Tasmania & the Gold coast ,the youngest of four girls & discovered she really liked dancing at age three when she was found at the back of her big sisters dance class trying to copy all the moves. At 8 years of age she had to choose between athletics or dance classes and chose the more glittery of the two options. By age 14 she was dancing practically every day and wanted to become a dance teacher.  Her biggest idols are Anne Miller & Gene Kelly ….; ‘ since ALLWAYS!!’

The Moulin Rouge was a complete mystery to her until her mother came across an add in the paper for auditions. Diane , had no idea what the Moulin Rouge was and had only ever heard of the Lido , which she loved. Her mother convinced her it was the same thing & Diane did her first audition at 17. At the time she was too young to be taken on board ,so she re-auditioned at  21 and hasn’t looked back ( unless it’s in the choreography) since  …. Here’s what she had to say .. ..

The early days ... Diane ( in blue ) is on the left of the lead male

Q/What is the weirdest reaction you’ve had when you’ve told people what you do for a living ? :

A/ Well generally people are either in awe or just really clueless, like I was because I’d never heard of the Moulin Rouge …..there is no general reaction …… I did have a really weird neighbor when myself & my best mate first moved to Paris; When this lady ( who told us she was a white witch) found out what we did ….. she gave us this big eyed knowing look and told us we’d be sold to a peep show if things didn’t work out for us. Luckily we’re Australian ( and I wasn’t only 17 , because I might have believed her) so we just laughed it off …. ( laughs)

Q/Best on stage experience :

A/ Oh my god , that’s a hard one , there’s so many – probably replacing the leads because it was so challenging. I had lots of favorite characters , there are  about  45 positions on stage and over the years I did almost all of them , but my absolute favorite of all is the can-can. It’s so much fun , we can go wild and shout & have fun with each other on stage … in fact , I think it’s one of the things I’m going to miss most now that I’ve finished up.

Diane ruffles her feathers in Feerie

[ note from mama s : the dancers  work on average 6 days a week , with 2 shows a day. Not including rehearsals which are generally once a month , or weekly when new dancers are being trained in , which is usually every 6 months…. So it’s fairly full on physically …. I think I’d rather have another baby ……..]

Q/ Worst on stage experience .

A/ …………………em , maybe the time both my heels got caught in my skirt in the Russian dance scene and I landed on my knees , NO ? , I once got kicked in the head during the can-can …. OH MY GOD – NO ………….it has to be this one, one New Years Eve we were all so excited and into it backstage that I almost missed my cue , ran onto the stage to get into position in the pitch black and whacked straight into a pole. I gave myself mild concussion and spent the rest of the show trying not to vo

One of Dianes personal favourites

mit . ( I ask her why she didn’t just stop …… )” Some-one basically has to cut one of your legs off to get you to stop”. ( If that isn’t job dedication , I don’t know what is …)

Q/ What do you love /hate most about Paris ?

A/ I have a major love- hate relationship with Paris so that’s a tough one … I love how busy it is , that there is always something to do and so many great people to meet ………I hate the sleazy men & dog shit , but if it didn’t have it, Paris would be like London , so I guess it’s all part of the charm and the culture of the place! I’ve travelled a lot but down by the Seine has got to be one of my favorite places. Paris is a great city , but I also love lots of different parts of Australia , I LOVE new York , and Italy …. Oh Italy , there’s so much I still have to see……….


Q/ Your favorite food / drink / restaurant …..

A/ Hmmmmmm , I love my food so that would all depend on what time of the day it is , or what type of food I’m looking for ……

Oh , I LOVE  the Rose Bakery , on Rue des Martyrs ( Paris 9th) ,for daytime eats ; its run by an Anglo French couple and all the food is just so fresh and organic.

For dinner it has to be the Cloche D’Or ( Paris 9th ) , just for its great typically French food , my favorite is the camembert roti !!                                                                                              [* Note from Mama S : that’s roasted camembert cheese guys , I tell her I’m delighted she said that , it means the rest of us can get out there and have some too …..wooohooo GO GIRLIES ,  none of this starving for art stuff here !!!!]

For drinks or the Apéro : The Lux Bar on rue Lepic ( Paris 18TH ), just because.

A portrait of Paris

Q/ What are you most afraid of ?

Diane as a young aspiring dancer

A/ As in physical fear / Phobias or personally ? ……. I’m probably most afraid of failure , even though a lot of people might think that I’ve succeeded , I’ve got very high expectations of myself ….. hmmm , yes afraid of failure.

 Q/ What’s the best bit of life advice you would give to children ?

A/ Just trust that everything WILL be ok , believe in yourself , it’s the only way to achieve your dreams.

 Finally :Q / you know when you’re having one of those days where you feel like crap or stuck in a rut or a desperate housewife /   you do get those moments don’t you? (… she nods and  says …’ yes totally’ ….)  what advice would you give to a mammy like me , to Moulin Rouge it up a little ?

A/ Treat yourself , pretty up your hair & face & slap on a little confidence !! I always feel better when I do that …..

Caught on camera .....Diane on the side of the lense she loves most

……. So there you go girls -you heard her . Go out & treat yourselves. I know I’m going to.

If you’d like to see what Diane sees when she looks through her camera lense … check her work out here : http://www.dianerob.book.fr/

 Thanks for the tea & the tips on stretching before the splits ……

Mama S xx

The photos in this article copyright Diane Robertson. Reproduction rights reserved.

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My funny valentine…

Tonight , once again , I got lost in translation , with pretty dramatic results. After spending about 10 minutes or so trying to figure out what was actually the correct defrost position for the little desserts , I bunged them in flat for the 2.5 minutes required. At roughly the same time as I remembered that ‘position décongelation’ actually means the microwave defrost setting and not what way you position your items inside , there was a massive bang from the microwave side of the kitchen.

Determined to stick to my desperately blonde tactics , I rushed to the microwave , tore the explosive little packages out , and because I had read all the instructions earlier ….. shook the packets …… coating my kitchen walls in boiling sticky blobs of custard. What was going through my mind? I ended up sitting in the middle of this big mess laughing at my own incredible stupidity.

I think I’m going a little mad . The Alpha males in the family ( both of them , yes , I’m really lucky like that) have been away for almost 2 weeks now and the peace and quiet in the house is killing me. ( I must be mad to say that in the first place …. how many times have I wished for this in the past?) I actually had a Shirley Valentine moment with my washing machine today. Its kind of fed up too & was expecting a break while the boys are away. Not to be …. it’s tick- tock , Lice O’ Clock in my daughters school again (it happens at least twice a year , no matter what kind of precautions we take) so its back to boil washing sheets, pillows , coats , hats , teddy’s, towels and anything else I can get through the machines magic door.

I thought I heard it muttering something about striking ,early retirement or running away . It was kind of shaking violently quietly in the corner as I was dumping the next load on the floor in front of it . I reminded my machine that its not French , its German  , which basically means it can’t flake out on me …..and , get a load of this .. ( yes , I was being sarcastic with my washing machine , how sad is that?) holidays are a no go.

This has got to stop , if I’m not careful , I’ll have run off to Greece to jump off boats & have affairs with my hoover before my husband gets back. It was then I remembered the sacred wisdom an incredibly succesful business woman & personal mentor of mine shared with me years back ……

 ‘There is only one substitute for sex and that’s chocolate …… and there’s no subsitute for chocolate’

..and while I was stuffing my face with all the chocolate I could find I revisited her own lost in translation moment. I think its one of the funniest stories I’ve ever been told.

This woman , who went from being a microwave exploding housewife & mother, to  business & property owner in record time , had never used a cash distributor machine before the age of 50. …………So , up she rocks in her impeccable suit , to the local banlink machine ( she’s not the kind of woman who goes unnoticed – but without looking for attention) and joins the queue. Her turn. Puts card in and says ….’ Em hello , I’ll have a hundred pounds please’ … guy behind her in the queue cracks up and says , ‘ ah here missis , ye have to put yer pin number in first ‘ …. she calls home , somebody finds the number ( while everyone waits patiently without complaining ..; only she could get away with this ) . Puts in number & says , ‘ em thankyou , I’ll have a hundred pounds please’ again. ……

She figured it all out eventually. I reckon my positioning food for defrosting in the microwave isn’t so bad after all , but that might just be the feelgood buzz I’m getting from the chocolate …….or the madness kicking in….. What do you think washing machine?

thanks for the chocolate

Mama S.x

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A,e,i,oh and you…

Tomorrow is my little sister Sarah’s birthday. She’ll be 29 and blissfully unaware that she’s heading for the big 30. I should be getting ready to make phonecalls , send emails or whatever , but I’m not.

You see, in the 29 years that she’s been on this planet , we’ve never had a row , never gone shopping , or fought over clothes , make-up, hair accessories or sibling space in the bedroom we used to share. Nor have we ever consoled each other over broken hearts , bad boys or given each other advice on running away with hairy bikers …….No. We’ve never had a conversation.

My sister is Autistic.

Sarah was an absolutely perfect little baby who developped as any other would, untill the age of 7 months………She was finally, officially diagnosed as Autistic, at almost 20years of age. Which I find really sad because , based on all the information that we have at hand now on managing autism ; if we had known earlier , and could have worked on her development – I may have had the opportunity to have those rows or at least some sort of conversation with her.

It is ironic to think that the doctors who first came up with idea that autism may be related to certain vaccinations ( not directly – but due to their ability to create high levels of heavy metal absorbtion in the body – a theory which has not been disproved to my knowledge) were banned from practicing medicine. The doctors in Temple street childrens hospital who told my mother she was ‘over-reacting’ , there was nothing wrong with her baby , and to stop wasting their time with a colicky baby;  may very well still be practicing today .

Sarah’s bowel prolapsed at 7 months , telescoped at 9 months , and from that day on she screamed from 8am in the morning untill she fell asleep at night. IF she fell asleep….. I still cannot understand how those Doctors got their degree’s. DID they order them online ?????? I still also believe that my mother deserves a medal for not murdering one of them on the spot.

Another extremely intelligent medical director of the CRC ( central remedial clinic) in Dublin  used these exact terms to answer my mothers questions on how we could help Sarah : ( please note that he took a pocket dictaphone out , switched it on , looked past us out the window , before saying) ….’ This child is a vegetable ….. put her in a home and forget about her …’                   Where did he pull his degree out of ???? I hope it wasn’t a scholarship , if it was ,I truly believe that the taxpayers should be getting their money back. I was there. I was 10 years old. I will never forget it. My mother cried for Ireland that day & I grew up overnight. There were no more birthday parties in our house. 

At 12 years of age I knew the ins and out of Rhetts Syndrome ( a development disorder that only affects girls) , Downs syndrome , the metabolic functions of a childs bowel , how to administer a suppository , how barium enemas work , was learning makaton ( an alternative sign language) with my mum, and had made several inhumane hospital workers cry with embarassment for not treating my sister with the respect she deserved.

I don’t know how we all got through it. I do not know how my mother didn’t run away …. We all had to stay so calm in the face of possibly the most challenging thing you can ever confront. A child who is so self destructive & frustrated that they pull out all their own hair , bite through their hands ( to the bone ) , grind their teeth down to nothing and , when they can no longer do any of the above ; rock backwards and fowards in a frenzy for hours and hours on end.  I believe that having seen all that , I cherish my childrens good health all the more….

I used to take her for walks to calm her down & give my mum a break. For some reason trees & leaves would snap her out of it. It could take a while though. I remember getting a clip in the ear from a complete stranger who screamed at me to ‘stop hurting that child’ ( makes sense doesn’t it , hitting one child  , you think may have hit another?) …which only set my sister off in a frenzy again…… Some people are so STUPID….. Next time you come across something you think may not be right  ; STOP , think , talk , ask questions & hit later……..please.

I think I had to be so incredibly patient as a young adult , that these days I have ZERO tolerance for fully able bodied & mentally adept adults who try my patience in the slightest. GET OVER IT …….. you’ve got no reason not to.

So A is for anger & autism in our house. There has been a game going round on facebook recently – ‘ click on this & see how autistic you are’ …….. or something like that. I don’t know if its some kind of e-buzz for mentally challenged facebook addicts or a clever marketing plan by some Autism awareness campaign manager. I couldn’t bear to find out. I’ve enough anger to deal with without going looking for another reason to bite somebody’s head off……

That , and a silly profile comment that had pretty full on effects for me and a couple of family members recently , left me feeling tempted to lay off the whole facebook thing for a while. It can be such a dangerous thing. I use it for comic relief & keeping up with my family & friends who are so, so far away. Right now , its the most effective & fast way of keeping in touch with my husband & son who are having a great time in the early summer sun on the other side of the planet !! I’d be lost without it . 

But here we all are , the levels of heavy metals in our systems are higher than ever before ( and evolving to cope with it – according to some more naturopathic studies) …. we still worry about e-additives in our childrens foodstuffs & its harmful effects , yet  we fill ourselves with a whole pile of other more toxic e.com-additives everyday . Emails , i-phones , i-pads ,……………. i – can’t- function@ without- it?

Can i……..e , you?

So for my sisters birthday , I’m going to be her voice and ask anyone who reads this , to check their @ levels , and have a glass of bordeaux with me …. there are way less toxins in it.

Thanks for the tea.

Mama S.xx

Posted in Autism, When children are sick | Tagged , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Hair & Housework.

I have learned the hard way , that with two (or any number of) small children , a different approach to general housework is necessary from time to time. I’m not talking about the endless daily sweeping , wiping , hoovering and washing. I’m not talking about ignoring the mess either – really , it won’t just magically dissappear. In fact I’m not talking about anything that resembles your average weekly cleaning schedule , whatever that may be.

 No , I’m talking about the kind of reconnaissance cleaning that has to be done when your sitting room smells like there may be a manure factory under the couch or a giant invisible fish frying somewhere. You can check all your drains , fruit bowls , fridges , plant pots , husbands work boots and other points of potential smell sources if you like. You can call plumbers , descale washing machines, pull out pipes , blow into them , go to war on your kitchen sinks. It will do you no good. NO GOOD , I tell you.  No  ; you will have to learn to lie in wait ( in khaki combat gear or whatever matches the wallpaper) in a disinterested pose ………………. and watch. NO matter what kind of high-jinx your kids are getting up to , ignore it , no matter how much you want to tell them to stop – ignore it , untill they truly believe you’re not paying attention.

It is then that you will be shown the sacred X that marks the spot where they shove their half eaten teething biccies , a couple of slices of ham for later or whatever other piece of edible gunk they treasure so much that they come over all squirrel like at the sight of……..you will be amazed. Don’t react straight away either. Its better if they think they’re getting away with it ……. that way , you won’t have to repeat the process to find the new hidey place. (ps – its not always food , it could be your car/house keys & you might only realize they’re awol on your way out to work , and you’re already late …. yada , yada , yada , you know the dancemoves already ..)

So every couple of weeks or so , I do whats called a damage control clean up. I have weapons. An unfolded, unwound wire hanger is great for getting foodstuff / keys out from inside the frills at the back of a radiator. In fact it just about works for everything , especially getting your keys out from between the lats on a window shutter , before falling to a completely inaccesible part of the building below……

I wish it had worked for the credit cards and social security cards my son shoved through the crack at the bottom of our floorboards. Those obsolete bits of plastic are now living somewhere in the purgatory of beneath our flooring and above the neighbours ceiling. No amount of drilling , removal of floor & skirting boards could get them back. We actually  hit concrete before we finally gave up. My son might be strong (willed / spirited) , but he can’t get plastic through concrete. No way….? Way ???????

Anyway……. I had just finished my ‘zero tolerance – dust busting – queen of the hidey places’ clean up and was treating myself to one of those endless hot showers , face masks , scrubs , the works. You know the kind that Julia Robert took in pretty woman? …… she walks in looking like a sows ear & comes out like a silk purse ……….? OK – OK !! I’m no Julia Roberts….. I’d never have shown Richard Gere how to drive that car ……

I’m singing away ( ever notice how great the acoustics are in the bathroom? )- Aretha hasn’t a  patch on me , and I reach for my 60€ ,  ‘you will look like Claudia Schiffer after this’ , hair mask ……(great saleswoman in that shop). I can’t really see , so I pop the lid off and go for a great golden handful . Nothing . Nothing but a tub of feckin’ freezing cold old smelly bathwater. Not only did I feel like a witch , I was going to look like one too…. Oh Purée* (see foot note in previous blog) , I’m going to kill those kids ……… they’d been having a geat time using it as bubble bath. Apparently it makes great big 6o€ perfect bubbles.

 That was a couple of weeks ago…..

This weekend , I was all ready for it . I did the whole hair straightening thing the night before. I send the rest of the family off to the park & tell them I’ll meet them for lunch in 45mins. I’ve got no need to do the hair , I’ll be finished in no time…….. I jump in the shower , grab the shower cap , throw it on and……..It’s full of feckin’ freezing cold old smelly bathwater …….aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh.

Thanks for the tea & the tea cosy/ hat.

Mama S.xx

Posted in dealing with difficult children, madness & mammy's, The business of having children | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trick or treat ?

First image that came up on french google halloween search

It’s almost Halloween. Last big blow out before everyone starts panicking about things like forgetting some-one on their Christmas card lists. The shops and supermarkets should be jam packed with all things orange , glowy eyed and ghoulishly consumer orientated.

BUT , they’re not. The French ( or maybe its just the Parisians , I’m not really sure) don’t do Halloween. I have no idea why? There’s a couple of spaced out looking ancient pumpkins doing a really bad job of promoting the latest eye wear in the opticians around the corner. I think I saw a witches hat in the window of the ‘everything for himself’ shop on rue Lepic the other day. But the triple digits before the decimal point on the bright orange (lets pretend to be halloweeny) price tag , made me push my kids past, as quickly as possible saying something panicky like , ‘never mind that rubbish , the lady in that shop doesn’t like kids’ ……It’s true though , she couldn’t , who the hell would pay 120€ for a rubber face mask? ………especially when you can buy a dodgy one for only 20 in the erotic supermarket just down the street .

And that’s exactly what’s bugging me. What will I do with my kids this Sunday??? …… every other little tyke I know back home or in other more ‘lets use religion (or lack of it) as an excuse to have a wild one’  countries in the world will be partying their socks off.  AND filling their synthetic orange covered little bellies with tricks , treats or whatever it is you find in your press when you’ve forgotten its halloween and the neighbors expectant kids come banging on your door. The JOY of it . Where has it all gone …………?

My kids don’t really know any better , but I can’t help feeling awful because I know what they’re missing. God , you haven’t been a child if you haven’t eaten so many monkey nuts , bits of dried coconut and half melted hairy toffees that you actually vomit.  Just once though , no point losing everything you managed to get in there.

They have the costumes , I get back to Ireland often enough to go berserk in Penneys, Dunnes and even just the local tescoes is such a delight when looking for Halloweeny items. Imagine , a shop where you can buy your newspaper , groceries , bread , cakes , household items , clothing , do the lotto , pick up your dry cleaning , get wrapping paper , or a birthday card and everything for the four year old little devil and the 8 year old banshee in your life all in one place. Not in Paree , oh no , they’ve taken the divide and conquer concept beyond the realms of reality here. I know the tourists think its cute and I suppose it is , but ‘Oh Purée!’ ; try purchasing everything you need to make the dinner in under half a hour on any inner city street in Paris……… at 6pm …. with two small whingey , tired , hungry kids in tow. You’d run a mini marathon quicker and have less body aches afterwards.

But no , that’s not the problem. The problem is the trick or treat thing for me. If I turn right , I’ll be walking my batman ( with a spiderman mask – don’t ask , it makes sense to him) and my little witch, into the worlds most famous topless cabaret … erh , the costumes just don’t begin to compare . On the other hand , if I go left , we’re staight into rubber masks , whips, chains & sex shop city and the get up on the tranny’s on the boulevard is just too spectacular to ignore. Alternatively , if we go straight ahead , even more shocking stuff in the shape of a great big Starbucks. Yeah , the one just 5 minutes down the street wasn’t enough , they had to go and put another carrot cake dealer right under my nose here…..If  ‘they’ ever rewrite the bible , they’ll replace the word meek , with ‘Starbucks’ . …. ‘and the meek shall inherit the earth…..’ 

(* I really hate saying ‘they’ , I haven’t got a clue who they are , I also hate using quotation marks after watching a really hilarious sketch by Billy Connelly about prats who use the ”inverted comma” gesture in speech…….. but I’m not really literate enough to come up with an alternative , so please forgive me for both…..)

I feel really sorry for them (my kids , not the ‘they’). Living where we do ,  takes ‘dressing up’ – (there I go with the inverted commas again) , to captains log , warp speed , cling ons on starboard bow places where only bold men go……..  We’ve organised parties in the past in the back room of the bar we work for. It has everything a hyperactive , nut & sugar filled child could need. It was built with drunk adults in mind. Rubber dancefloor , dj booth , giant screen ( for the scary movie) , a stage that they can jump off to work off the e-numbers or coca cola high. There’s even a microphone that makes your voice go all squeeky and a great big lighting rig.

Personally, I’ve had a ball pressing the on/ off disco light button during a real live clubbing session for more mature children one night (18 – 35yr olds) . Purely for the amusement of the clients watching one completely plastered bloke , who took the ‘flash disco sequence on’ as his cue to jump on stage , make some magnificently drunk pose , which he would manage to hold untill I pressed the off button again; Crazy stuff. Reminds me of a song about men staying up on surfboards after 14 pints of stout ….. I’m not slagging the guy off either. I’ve had a couple of magnificent drunken poses in my day too.

Don't drink & dance....

Just remember this though; If you can do it drunk , you can do it sober too. No such thing as dutch courage , its just Courage , end of story. You don’t need to drink to dance.

Back to the real kiddy parties. We had to stop. It was turning into a free for all for every kid in the school our kids went to. ( There’s about 400 of them.) Somebody let it be known that we were giving free punch to the parents and that’s when it all got messy. We found ourselves having to deal with a fully grown bearded man , who had turned up (not an accompanying child in sight) & couldn’t stop clicking his fingers at me for a pint of beer (pronto like) from a bar that was only serving soda to under 6’s…..  ( DON’T get me started on the crap some grown ups come out with when full of drink and wanting to be served before anyone else. I’ll really get atomic then…… I promise to share some of those spectacular stories at a later date. You will laugh till you cry at them , no joke)

So it’s been a couple of years , and we’re feeling brave enough to deal with the monsters & witches that sometimes turn up with their kids for the fancy dress party. But not until November , when the kids real friends are back from their holidays and my boys are back from their male bonding trip to New Zealand. ( Some going berserk in Penneys planned for the girls then too) 

Anyone caught ploughing through the punch at this party better be ready for a four year old Maori red head and his amazing spider/batman Haka . If that doesn’t stop them , the atomic Irish mammy will put a pagan spell on them ……… or I could just get my tranny friends in to cover the guest list…….

Thanks for the witches brew

Mama S. xx

ps ; ‘Oh Purée’ is a french expression to replace saying ‘Oh Putain’ . Its a bit like saying ‘ah fiddlesticks’ , when all you really want to say is , ‘ah fuck’.  I’ll have you all effluent in French yet.

pps: Penney’s and Dunnes are Irelands wonderlands of low cost high street fashion items. You can fill a trolley full of stuff and come out with change from 100€ (most of the time)  . And nobody in France knows its the cheap stuff ………

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The world at my feet

 Years ago in college , part of our training was a couple of weekly sessions of ‘Alexander Technique‘  with a quirky , but incredibly spright old man called Monty. It was one of the classes I made sure not to miss. I loved this mans outlook on life. According to Monty ; Alexander technique , teaches us to teach our bodies how to let go of the physical habits we’ve been forcing on it from birth. How we walk , talk , move , sit , fold our arms or make certain trademark gestures are all learned behaviour. We’ve been copying our parents , who’ve been copying their parents ….. and so on. How many times have we made a face or a move , that’s a carbon copy of another member of the family’s ? How many kids do you know who walk exactly like their parents.? 

So this wiry old gent would spend an hour or so trying to re-align the parts of us that were most affected by this unnatural behaviour. (The full Monty we called it). All the while explaining about  the dangers of non  verbal communication . Nodding , he said , was totally uneccesary and just a really bad habit we humans employ rather than verbally agreeing or telling the person to shut up because we’re actually so bored that a nod’s about all we can manage. It will  really screw up your back , he advised ( while I nodded in agreement , I got a non verbal raised eyebrow for that, by the way) . Watch any group of politicians  , be it in the Dail , the house of commons (always thought that was an ironic name for a government building), or anywhere else they congregate. ‘Noddy’s’ , most of them. I got a bit paranoid about nodding after that. He also told me that smiling in its most purest form , was not at all a friendly greeting , but a throw back from the days when men dragged women around by the hair and snarled at anyone passing, lest they try to steal their possesions. HAHA , how many smiley faces are you NOT going to put on your text messages/e-mails after that !?

We’ll never change will we? Back then it was all about keeping people off your rock pile and your wildebeast hides , nowadays its all about putting fences round our 1.5 million euro , can’t afford to go out for the rest of my life & have to eat beans on toast to pay the bank (who used your savings to pay off their own frivolities)- house and gardens. I don’t have one (mortgage , house , garden , fiver , not even a rockpile) , so I make up for it by putting a code on my door ? Evolution my eye.

Anyway ….. , Monty told me I’d always have to watch out for my throat and my ankles. Its where ( based on the learnings of Alexander) I hold my stress. It’s true. I’ve lost my ankles since I had my kids and I’ve got a Marge Simpson voice from the tiredness of having to keep going without sleep for weeks on end.

About the ankles thing , they come back again after I lie down for a while . Which basically means that if I want to look good in heels , I’ve to keep my legs in the air for at least an hour before I go out. Not always an option . Possibly not always the best idea in stockings and a party frock if your hubby’s hanging around. Apparently he holds his stress somewhere completely different. Just saying ….. Fair warning and all that. For the record , I’m talking about his heart. 

I believe good ‘ol Monty. How could you not be intrigued by a man called ‘Monty’ ? its the best old man name ever …….. Loads of my college mates thought he was mad. Actually he was mad , he dissapeared off the face of the planet for a couple of years ( I’m not joking , nobody knew where he was) and turned up in a Yoga or Krishna report ( really , I can’t remember which) on the RTE national news one night……… doing excercises on an Island off the west coast of Ireland somewhere. Bless him.

So , Monty & his techniques have made me look at things differently every now and then. Sometimes holding your head high , is actually just breaking your back. So here’s a couple of  years worth of images I caught in those moments where looking down seemed like the better option at the time. I was very pleasantly surprised.

I’m sure it’s a common occurance in many cities all over the world , but I got addicted to these little sidewalk slogans the minute I met them. 

The only one’s that weirded me out too much , were the ‘everything for killing  ‘ slogans spray painted onto the paving stones in a  kiddies playground.( Tried to cover them with leaves & stuff). That’s just taking subliminal advertising/ non verbal communication to a level , I really don’t want to know about. Ever. 

I hope this gallery thing works. I’ve never tried it before……..

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Thanks for the non verbal tea ,

Mama S. xx

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