Friday fun with children

I have enormous respect for parents, they really do have to contend with a myriad of challenges while bringing up their offspring. Even good things can cause prolonged periods of trial – like ensuring children develop musical skills. Its widely agreed that this is a good thing, but getting from the beginner level to the ‘pleasant to listen to’ level can take quite a while.

In my case, I tortured my parents with the descant recorder for quite a few years (I could produce particularly piercing top G’s) and now wonder if my move to the treble recorder was in fact initiated by my mother (how she hated the descant…) rather than my music teacher perceiving talent in my fingers. The piano’s not so bad – at least the tone will always be good, even if the notes aren’t; but my sister learnt the violin and trust me, it takes a very long while to get to ‘pleasant’ with that instrument.

Between the two of us, my sister and I at various points studied the descant recorder, treble recorder, violin, piano, clarinet, percussion and singing. Inevitably, this meant that my parents were forced to attend a large number of concerts, assemblies and recitals in order to pay homage to our ‘talent’. Only recently have I realised just how tedious this must have been and how painful Junior Orchestra (and possibly even Senior Orchestra) were. However, I’m very certain that we were never as bad as this:

Growing up in a church environment, the other thing we had to get good at was reading aloud – particularly prayers and Bible readings. Every year our church’s carol service would feature contributions from a Brownie and a Guide and I think both me and my sister fulfilled this obligation at least once. [In my case requiring the step from our bathroom in order to reach the lectern (I was 8), but meaning that all the congregation could see of me was the bobble on my Brownie hat…]

As with musical performances, children reading aloud can have comic moments. At the same carol service, one particular Brownie reading went down in legend, thanks to her way of reciting a certain line from the Annunciation (Luke 1: 26-38) – “But I’m a virgin!” said with high pitched emphasis on ‘virgin’ had the grown up congregation stifling giggles. (I’m convinced that the Christian sense of humour never actually matures.)

Sometimes we just don’t expect children to be good at things. When I stumbled across a video of a girl telling the story of Jonah, I assumed that some kind of catastrophe would evolve. I was wrong, instead I watched 7 minutes of beautiful story telling, complete with gestures and excellent intonation (not to mention a fantastic choice of hair adornment). This video is long, but utterly worth it – I particularly enjoyed the voices she used for God and the ship’s captain.

By the way, that’s done completely from memory – she learned it from a children’s video. Quite impressive.

I feel like that’s quite a worthy Friday Fun, I do apologise. If you simply want something frivolously fun, how about this video of a cat who likes climbing into boxes being confronted with a series of boxes that are too small for him? Yes, I know, it sounds ridiculous, but it’s super cute and funny – plus, the last box features Miffy. What’s not to like?

Sacrificing my feet to the shoe gods (Updated)

Oh summer, I love thee, but my feet aren’t quite ready for you yet.

This is what’s left of my feet after a week of spring weather; one new pair of shoes; breaking in last year’s sandals all over again and the introduction of tinted moisturiser to lessen the glare of my pasty pins in the sun.

Ouch. The pain – both physical and emotional (embarrassment).

Update: 24 hours after posting this, my feet are in a far sorrier state. The shoes in the above photo are my ‘office’ shoes – only to be worn outside during lunchtime expeditions. Tonight I accidentally walked for over 2 hours in them (I couldn’t be bothered to change into my trainers), walking all the way to London Bridge from the office. I walked my feet raw, quite literally. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.

Sitting uncomfortably

I am in pain – physically and emotionally.
Every time I shift my position at my desk, either my back, shoulders or thighs scream out in protest.
It would be fine if this was the after-affect of extreme pilates (an Avatar themed class is scheduled for tonight, that could be extreme…) or an intense run, but it’s not.

It is in fact, the result of an initial foray into the world of pole dancing. Actually, ‘world of’ is a little too grand. There was a bar, downstairs it had a pole, where for about 10 minutes I attempted to swing on it – failing to complete a single 360° revolution. The shame.

I therefore have a whole new level of respect for pole dancers. Turns out it’s quite a physically demanding occupation – you need thighs of steel and fantastic upper body strength. Perhaps the campaign to have it as an Olympic sport isn’t so far-fetched after all.

Just in case any of you were a little concerned as to the direction my interests seem to be heading (a friend at church last night wondered if I was having my teenage rebellion a little late in life), I’m solely interested in its artistic and physical fitness merits – the scantily cladness and seduction techniques not so much.

Simply attempting the pole lands me with another 2010 first. Taking it a step further and signing up for the pole dancing fitness class at the gym would see me tick ‘take a dance class’ off the list, though it’s not at all what I had in mind at the time.

Saturday night was educational in other ways – I learnt new things about my camera (relating to the mysterious ISO count – very useful), discovered several things about the birthday girl that I didn’t already know (apparently I also declared her best friend to be my new best friend on the basis of some story she told), and realised that it is never, ever, a good idea to press ‘send’ on that text message at the end of a night…

[Oh, and in case you’re disappointed that this post doesn’t come complete with photo of my efforts on the pole, unfortunately, despite my camera getting passed round the group for most of the evening, it was in my pocket at that precise moment. Of course, I ensured I got shots of the others, wouldn’t want to miss that Facebook opportunity…]

Advance warnings

I’m currently suffering from the wonderfully alliterative ailment of ‘post pilates pain’. It’s the random twinges and aches that greet me on a Tuesday morning following a Monday evening spent lying prostrate on a thin mat, making my body do weird and wonderful things.

For the last few weeks, our stand-in instructor (whilst the wonderfully camp guy dances for 10 weeks) has led more sedantry classes, but last night’s replacement worked us hard. No complaints from me! I just loved the fact that she warned us in advance, during the exercises, which specific parts of our body would ache the next day.

It’s great. Now I can be sure that the right bits of me ache and I’ve not done something stupid. More things should give you advance warnings like that.

[As an aside, I’m thinking specifically of the need for underground ticket barriers to carry warning signs advising people that getting caught in the barriers is painful and can lead to bruising. This may sound flipping obvious, but it might have stopped me from getting trapped on Sunday night and ending up with a massive bruise along my arm!]