Sunday, 20 January 2008

TGI time to go home

I remember a time when supper at TGI Fridays meant a huge tasty feast and some rather good cocktails.
I suppose it was a while ago and the whole American style of service and overdressed salads was still a bit glamourous.
However, a recent trip to the Fridays at Braehead left me with nothing but a bad taste and some serious questions about what I used to think cool.
In fact, some of the experience was cool - the ribs ordered by the Panther were positively luke warm.
They had eventually arrived with bland and stingy kids' meals and a Ceasar salad for me.
"This is boring and cold," complained the Panther.
"I want more food," moaned Boy One having scoffed his chicken goujons in nanoseconds.
I was quite happy with my salad despite a dearth of anchovies and parmesan. Until, that is, I found the mushroom. Not just a stray sliver, but quite a few fungi.
A curious innovation that.
All the bestriped waitperson could say was: "The kitchen says there's been a mistake."

It's a breeze

We had an adrenaline-charged experience at X-scape (huge wedge-shaped building full of fun-packed wallet-emptying stuff near Braehead) this weekend.
The Panther is celebrating another birthday - counting back to see if he can make it back to 0 - and as part of the jollies we thought it a good idea to take the Boys tobogganing at the Sno Zone.
It was a good idea. We spent a contented 45 minutes plodding uphill and whizzing briefly down again.
Later on, thinking the events of the evening were over, we strolled back to the car - Panther and the Boys a little bit ahead through the evening breeze.
Nothing quite prepared me for the sight of both Boys flying backwards through the air like they'd been caught in Dorothy's twister.
The Panther grabbed a hysterical Boy Two and Boy One quickly came to a sobbing stop against a table.
It seems that on a gusty night the wind sped up around the monster building knocking two little boys off their feet.
The kind chap who helped us sort ourselves out did say it was always a bit windy on this corner.
In the end, they suffered nothing worse than a few bruises, a nightmare or two and a couple of lost balloons.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Cats and bogs

We've currently got a pine-scented bathroom.
You'd think that would be a good think, wouldn't you?
But it's not the fresh bracing pine of the spring-time Alpine slopes, it's badly kept timber yard in the rain pine.
This is because during Thursday night's storm something bashed into the window in the roof.
Now every time it rains it drips horrid cold drops into the bathroom, filtering them through several inches of loft insulation on the way.
It's all getting a bit inconvenient - wet splashes down the back of your neck can be very off-putting and soggy newspapers become difficult to read.
Consequently at the moment at Panther Towers you don't just lock the door and check there's enough loo roll before you settle down with the Current Bun, you put the brolly up too.
The insurance company's window fixer has been having a busy time of it, but tomorrow finally it's our turn...

Chest pondering

Rhydian I-was-robbed-on-X-Factor Roberts swaggered down a tropical beach towards waiting photographers recently. The talented young singer posed and showed off his hard-earned muscles.
Fine figure of a man.. no?
He has clearly has decided not to spray himself with pretend tan or rip out his chest hairs. And I don't blame him on either count.
Why then does it look so strange? Have we just become so shallow that we can only admire a Sunny-D tan and weirdly pre-pubescent smooth pecs?

Friday, 11 January 2008

McFly in the ointment

The other day I caught the Panther dithering at the bottom of the stairs a look of anguish on his face.
"What's up?"
"Oooh, it's something I vowed I'd never do."
"What is?"
"Yelling up the stairs at the kids: 'turn that music down, it's too loud!'."
Sure Boy One's appreciation of McFly was a bit enthusiastic. But it was more to do with a promise the Panther made to himself years ago along the lines of "I'll never be the kind of dad who bellows at children to turn their music down - I'll be too cool for that".
Similar thing happened to me this New Year in Prague.
We had a fabulous six-day break during which we admired the beautiful city, ate heaps, walked a long way and spent considerable amounts of time watching the crowd while warming our hands over a hot wine.
But everyone in the Czech Republic seems to smoke and they do it everywhere. There are billows of stinky smoke in pubs, restaurants, hotel corridors, the street and shopping centres. And it's horrid.
I used to smoke and I vowed I wouldn't become one of those smug and intolerant reformed types. Admittedly our wonderful smoking ban makes that fairly easy.
Prague reminded me of how awful the sore lungs, scratchy eyes and smelly clothes which followed a night in the company of addicts were.
So here goes: "My name is Ellen and I'm a reformed smoker. I fully admit I was blind to the evils of the weed for the years I was smoking. Now I want to share my revelation with the world - this makes me smug and preachy. Sorry."

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Holding out for a hero

I'm pleased for Kenny Richey. No, really. I hope he's enjoying sitting at his mother's table again, deciding to go for a walk if he wants, watching the telly, basically suiting himself.
20 years on death row is too long for anyone, especially someone who didn't deliberately commit murder. It's the square end of the juiciest years of a life. So it's good that he's home.
To mix a metaphor, I can't blame him for wanting to make hay during the 15 minutes the spotlight of fame will shine on him. After all, he's got no house, no job and no money. But I hope he doesn't start to believe that all this attention makes him into something of a hero.
A reasonably big disservice was done to him, but that's it. He didn't invent anything, save anyone, fix anything, teach anything or even seem to have been especially kind to animals.
Does he ever think about Cynthia Collins - who would be 22 by now, if she hadn't burned to death because no one was there to save her from the flames? I really really hope so.

Monday, 7 January 2008

They don't call it PE any more

It's more than two weeks since the kids tumbled off the school bus full of Santa-fueled excitement. Since then they have consumed their body weights several times over in nutritionally impoverished but tasty junk, created a mountain of empty present wrappers as high as the now-very-bald Christmas tree and nearly finished the Simpsons X-box game.
Why, then, did boy two wait until the school bus was spluttering its way around the corner to say: "Mum my gym shoes don't fit any more, they hurt my feet."?
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