Tag Archives: Reading
Unfortunately it appears Gary Barlow has lost his chance as I’m soon to be off the market.
In just under four months I’ll be a married woman. Either that or my relationship will be in tatters. It all depends if I manage to hold the Bridezilla in me at bay. So before it all goes horribly wrong, I thought I’d take part in the meme devised by Super Amazing Mum and Manic Mum and record how I got here. For posterity’s sake and all that.
When myself and the (self proclaimed) Northern Love Machine announced we were “with child” a lot of people assumed it was an accident. How could we have planned a baby when we’d only been together a year and weren’t even married? We didn’t own our own home and I was only 26. Apparently in life you are meant to do things in a certain order, at a certain time.
Well no one told us that. And if they did, we weren’t listening.
We met in the venue of romance that is The After Dark nightclub in Reading. A shared love of sticky floors, cheap booze and rapping bouncers helped us find each other. That and the fact the NLM is six foot five so is hard to miss.
Anyway, we had our first kiss outside the toilets. It went something like this:
NLM (in his soft Rochdale tones): Look, we both know this is inevitable. Come here and give me a snog.
Me: Oh, OK then.
What a picture of romance.
It carried on like that for a couple of months. Kissing outside toilets and getting drunk, with the occasional pub meal thrown in for good measure.
And then came Christmas. We both spent the festive season apart as the NLM went back up North to his Motherland (Rochdale) and I went out west to mine (Bristol). New Year’s Eve arrived and we crossed each other somewhere on the motorway. The NLM drove from the North back down to Reading to celebrate with his friends and I drove up from Bristol to Manchester to celebrate with some of mine.
And then I got drunk again.
I was still
swigging sipping champagne at 8am on New Year’s Day and thought it would be a good idea to ring the NLM and wish him a Happy New Year. In my inebriated state I’d forgotten I was meant to be back in Reading that night to go out for a drink with him. When he reminded me, I said the only way I’d be there was if he drove up to Manchester to collect me as I would still be over the limit and couldn’t drive. I was joking. He’d only completed the four hour drive the day before so wasn’t going to drive all the way back just to pick me up for one drink, was he? No one’s that stupid, right?
After collapsing in a heap on the sofa I was woken at 6pm by my friend shaking me awake telling me there was a “tall Northern man outside”. He’d driven all the way from Reading up to Manchester, having only driven from Manchester to Reading the day before.
In a haze I stumbled into his car, completely forgetting my own car was parked just round the corner. And we made the four hour drive back to Reading, with a short stop around two hours into the journey. I’d been sick, you see. All over the interior of the NLM’s brand new car.
We arrived back in Reading after midnight, by which time all the pubs had shut. And I was certainly not in the mood for alcohol. I immediately fell fast asleep only to wake at 7am the following morning remembering I’d left my car in Manchester. So I made the NLM drive me all the way back to collect it. And then we drove back to Reading. Again.
We moved in together a month later. I thought I’d be unlikely to find a man willing to drive eight hundred miles for me in the space of two days. And let me vomit all over his car.
It was exactly a year later, on New Year’s Day (well midnight New Year’s Eve to be precise) that the NLM proposed. The memory of driving back and forth across the country and cleaning up my sick was forever etched in his memory as the day we became “serious”, so he thought it a fitting date to ask me to marry him.
Since that time I’ve managed to avoid throwing up in his car again. And I’ve had a baby. So it looks like he’s stuck with me forever now. Lucky man.
I’d like to talk about libraries.
Bear with me, it’s important. (Frog’s Northern Granny says so and you don’t want to mess with her – she’s a librarian).
Now, unless you’ve been abroad for a year or living in a hole somewhere, you might have gathered there’s been a bit of a fuss about libraries recently. Back in February, there were a load of very civilized “Read-ins”, where people went and sat in their local library reading books for a day. While it all sounds rather relaxing, they were actually making a very important point: libraries are under threat and we need to start showing we care about them.
The thing is, it doesn’t end there.
You might not know about it, but the Government’s reviewing a raft of duties that local authorities legally have to stick to. The Public Libraries and Museums Act of 1964 is one of them. This is the law that says local authorities have to provide a comprehensive and efficient public library service. In plain English, it means the likes of you and me get free access to decent books as well as all the other things that libraries do nowadays.
For mums like me, I’m talking about rhyme times and story sessions for our babies. Not the expensive ones you have to pay for, but the free ones, which are accessible to everyone.
When I was tiny, my mum and I used to go to the library a lot. We would sit and read a whole range of books for an entire afternoon. It was a treat, something I looked forward to and got excited about. It wasn’t that we couldn’t afford to buy our own books, we had a house full of them. But in the library, there were whole shelves of new stories. Ones I’d never read before. And if I was really lucky, there would be a story time, where an old woman would read to us and we’d have a little sing-song. As a three year old, this was my version of a Take That concert.
Then I grew up and went to university. And the library once again became my friend. When I was back home and needed to research an essay or do some background reading, I knew I could pop along to the local library and pick up a book. It was a given. Easy.
And then I became a mum. Once again I turned to the library. Not to read up on anything this time, but to have a reason to get out of the house. I took my baby to rhyme time sessions and sing-along time. All free. Unlike the many other activities we do together.
But it looks like history won’t be repeated. When my daughter turns three, I won’t get to take her to the library. We won’t get to find a quiet corner and read some new books. She won’t get a mini Take That concert in the form of a sing-along session. Because the libraries are going.
Unless we do something about it.
Remember The Public Libraries and Museums Act I was banging on about just now? This is the law that says councils have a legal duty to provide library services. Well the Government wants to find out if we think this still stands. Should councils still have to provide libraries? Are they needed, or are they a “burden” (their words, not mine).
If you think this doesn’t affect you, think again. False Economy recently published a map showing all the cuts and proposed cuts to libraries around the UK. The chances are you’ll see a red mark where you live.
So please make Frog’s Northern Granny proud. Fill in that form and tell them you want to keep the libraries. For your children. And your children’s children. And your children’s children’s children. (I could go on, but you get where I’m going with this).
Call me an over-eager mum, but I love reading to my baby. I have done since she was about four days old. Maybe it’s because I had a bedtime story every night as a child, maybe it’s because I still love to read now. Or maybe it’s just that I like the sound of my own voice and having a baby is the perfect excuse to talk to someone who can’t tell me to shut up.
The poor girl never had a chance. Coming from a family of English teachers, Librarians, Journalists and Drama teachers, it’s fair to say Literature is in her genes (although we won’t count her computer game addict father whose idea of a good book is the autobiography of Chopper Reid, the famous Australian vigilante. Google him. Seriously scary).
From the day we brought Frog home from the hospital we decided to include a bedtime story as part of her night routine. Admittedly, at a week old she was very rude and slept through the whole thing, but I carried on with the stories, because I enjoyed finding out what happened at the end for myself.
I didn’t have the foggiest idea that reading to a baby is good for them, I just guessed it couldn’t be bad. But the research shows I’m not as stupid as I may have thought, because reading to a baby does have its benefits. Studies have shown that language skills are related to how many words an infant hears each day. In one study, children whose parents spoke to them a lot scored higher on standard tests when they reached age 3, compared to those whose mums and dads weren’t so verbal. And you can’t deny it, reading is a good way of talking to your baby, if general chit chat makes you feel like a bit of a plum.
But not all babies and children get read to, even if they would probably rather like it. We take access to books for granted, although with looming closures of many libraries maybe we shouldn’t. But, while we have to contend with library closures, in many parts of the world, some children have not even seen a book, let alone a library. It’s World Book Day on 3rd March and Book Aid International hopes to change this, in sub-Saharan Africa at least. If you have a minute, check out their blog and watch the video. If you question the power of books and reading, this may clear a few things up.
At nearly eight months, Frog now reaches for the pictures in her storybooks. She loves the sparkly fish in Little Fish Goes Exploring and laughs out loud when we read Dear Zoo. Her bedtime story has been the same one for the last five months, Bedtime with Humphrey, and now she won’t go to sleep without it. It’s a good way for her Dad and Grandparents to bond with her too, although I’m starting to detect a hint of boredom from her Dad when Humphrey comes out again, given away by his renaming of “Humphrey” to “Humphreyfina” (this is from the man who said he wanted to call his daughter Geoffafine because he likes the name Geoffrey so much).
Regardless of the ad-libbing, we will continue to read to Frog until she tells us to shut up, which I hope won’t be for a while yet. At least not until we’ve got to The Very Hungry Caterpillar. And Doctor Dog. And The Secret Garden. Oh, and Harry Potter. And The Gruffalo. And George’s Marvellous Medicine. And don’t forget The BFG. And Giraffe’s Can’t Dance. And Peace At Last.. And…………………………..