I BLAME CLIFF RICHARD…

…and Madonna, and anyone else who sets us up in song to believe that a (so) nice holiday would be the perfect way to inject some fun and excitement into our dull and humdrum lives. As the parent of a fifteen year old (next week, actually, but to call him fourteen until then seems churlish) I’ve got up almost every day for the past week or so, looked up into the grey skies overhead and muttered ‘bugger’, cursing skool holidays, cursing Sir Cliff and Madge et al and cursing the unrealistic expectation they’ve forced upon me to deliver ‘fun and laughter for a week or two’ without the aid of a double-decker bus, Una Stubbs and the camp little bloke from It Ain’t Half Hot, Mum.  I mean, it’s a tall order, ennit?

Adding to that frustration, the skool hols kicked off this time with the totally unexpected gift of blistering sunshine. Reader’s of my blog two weeks ago may remember my vow to ‘make hay while the sun shines’, and the sore arse and shoulder I was suffering as a consequence of a week spent cycling around the local parks and lakes and dragging Ben’s clubs around a variety of local golf courses while he played replace-the-divot and hunt-the-lost-ball. We knew even then it couldn’t last, but we weren’t expecting it to be over quite so quickly.

In truth it hasn’t actually rained that much, it just looks like it’s going to rain. Constantly. The skies are heavy with dark clouds and the threat of thunderstorms and sudden downpours, and while we’ve been quite lucky in grabbing the good bits that have managed to find their way through that filthy grey canopy those brief windows of blue-sky opportunity have not been encouraging enough for us to actually plan anything worthwhile. Wimps that we are, the weather’s got us running scared, and the thought of starting something like a day at the beach or a trip to more distant attractions only to have rain stop play has, erm, stopped play even before it’s started. In a nutshell, we’re bored. Bored, bored, bored, bored, bored.

Even more frustrating, I know I’m one of the lucky ones. I get the occasional flash of ‘Kevin-ness’ from Ben, but compared to most kids his age he’s an absolute delight. He will talk to me, do stuff with me, and, against all odds, appears most of the time to actually quite like me rather than wishing I was dead (NB: I meant ‘against all odds’ as a reference to age appropriate behaviour on his part rather than to suggest that he actually has any grounds for disliking me or wishing me dead. I shouldn’t have to point that out, but you know how snitty some people can be so it’s probably best to cover all bases 😉 ). He’s also not one of those miserable little EMO types who spends all day moaning that he ‘never asked to be born’ or wishing himself dead.

The hormones are definitely there – he’s got more body hair than your average gorilla (or even Ms Smith, my secondary school maths teacher who I mistakenly thought for many years wore woollen tights but actually just had wooley legs) and has started noticing ‘chicks’ (I know; I’ve told him 1976 has phoned and wants its slang back but he won’t listen) – but they seem very benign hormones by comparison to most. Remembering myself at fourteen I was either masturbating or screaming in rage most of the time – often combining the two if the house was empty – with a bit of angstsy sobbing in between, and his mother was a hormonal nightmare well into her mid-twenties (possibly still is, but let’s hope time has mellowed her), so by rights Ben should be an absolute psychopath. But he isn’t; he’s a good natured, thoughtful (if you give him a kick or nudge in the right direction) and generally cheerful kid and I am bloody lucky. But it doesn’t stop us getting bored, does it?

And unlike younger kids, who only need a trip to Legoland or a petting zoo to float their boat, there’s not actually that many options with a fifteen year old, are there? Again, Ben’s better than most because he will quite happily go for a walk along a coastal path or a cycle ride through the woods and will enjoy ‘grown up’ stuff like hunting around a farmer’s market for exotic foody bargains, but those things aside he really is, like most boys his age, only really interested in X-boxes, American cartoon shows and crappy unfunny comedians called Russell, and girls. Oh, and mobile phones and Facebook – almost forgot those…

In past years I’ve signed him up for ‘Activate’ and he’s happily gone off canoeing or bmxing or abseiling a couple of times a week, but when I asked him this year he showed all the enthusiasm of a four year old being asked to eat up his sprouts. Similarly, he used to love ‘cat cuddling’ at a local rescue centre, but that now has all the appeal of a day spent shovelling shit without a gas mask. Or shovel. To be fair, our own Special Needs cat gets more special by the day and is enough to put anyone off cat cuddling, but it’s still one less option for the summer hols than we used to have available to us.

We haven’t got a ‘proper’ holiday booked this year, because my bank account is still somewhat depleted from last year’s fortnight in Florida*, but we live in hope of grabbing a last minute UK bargain when and if it starts to look as though the weather might make it worthwhile. We passed on one such opportunity at the end of July after being lulled into a false sense of security by the hot spell and the weatherman’s assertion that it ‘looks like it’s here to stay’, but we’re already starting to think we might have shot ourselves in the feet. The plan was to wait until after that birthday (next week, if you remember – do pay attention, please!) so it would break up the six and a half week skool hols more effectively, but you know what they say about the best laid plans of mice, men and bored teenagers…

On the plus side, we saw a lady in the park today who told us there’s a storm coming in tonight and that it will be followed by ‘at least a week’ of brilliant sunshine. Let’s hope for her sake she is right, otherwise she’ll be up against the wall with Cliff and Madge and all the other cheery but ill-informed buggers who keep promising the earth but failing to deliver. Ever the optimist, though, I have taken her at her word and written this today, Wednesday, so IF it does happen all I’ll have to do is schedule post this first thing in the morning and we can get out and grab a few rays. Fingers crossed everybody. x.

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* Our Florida holiday was blogged about at length last summer on my Moonfruit website. For anyone interested who only knows me from the ‘new’ WordPress blog, here’s a link to the first of them: http://www.lovely2cu.moonfruit.com/#/blog-news/4555546305/What-I-dun-did-on-me-hollerdays-1/71807

There are five Florida blogs in total. If you fancy reading them all hit the ‘Florida’ tag at the foot of the page and it will save you having to hunt around. 🙂

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IN OTHER NEWS: Also while walking in the park today we saw a lovely little girl riding her scooter. She hit a foot wide pothole in the footpath where the tarmac was crumbling which stopped her in her tracks, then turned to her mum and said, ‘Oh, Mummy, it’s all diggy – I’ll have to go all the way round now!’ That put a smile on my face for a good ten minutes, and her mum seemed to get a buzz out of it too. As she scooted away (the girl, not her mum *tsk*) I noticed she had a stick sticking out of a small moulding on the front of the scooter that was undoubtedly the ‘aerial’ for an imaginary in-scooter sound system. I said to Ben that it reminded me of my favourite Underworld song, which contains a lyric about a man ‘using an empty whisky flask as a walkie-talkie’. Ben knew which song I meant, and agrees with me that it’s a beautiful thing to listen to on a lovely summer’s day. He’s a smart kid, that one. Can’t think where he gets it from. The song’s called 8 Ball, and it goes like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GwsDVbxycb0 

Thanks for reading.

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POSTSCRIPT: The lady in the park was almost right: no storm, but weather much improved. Spent all day yesterday at Whitstabubble with Ben and one of his mates from skool. I am now lobster pink from head to toe (apart from the pasty white bits), after forgetting to pack sun cream again.

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