Posts Tagged ‘tv’

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table for two.

June 16, 2012

Tonight I cleared the table (on which I keep my printer, laptop, books I’m currently reading and other paraphernalia I use on a daily basis) in order to serve up a proper dinner for two – I laid the table and served up a bowl of prawn crackers, a plate of spring rolls, a bowl of Thai green chicken curry, a bowl of Thai red chicken curry, along with some drinks. The reason why I wanted to do this tonight was because I had been doing chores on and off all day, Toby had been watching TV and playing Pokémon White on his DS for most of the time, and I felt that it would be nice to turn everything off and just eat and chat in a civilised manner for a short while. It was really nice and although it was by nature somewhat romantic, it wasn’t like I lit candles and dimmed the lights (though I did turn off the television and had some Roberto Fonseca on in the background). I just wanted to make dinnertime a time to chat and reflect on our day. To have some good conversation.

When I was younger (at a guess, about 14 years old), I remember listening to the radio on the way home after my mother had picked me up from school. There was a news item on the fact that less and less families were eating a sit-down dinner at the table. Now, apart from when we would have Sunday lunch at my nan’s (which was an infrequent affair), generally I would eat my meals in front of the television, and later on my mum would have something to eat in front of the tv, and eventually when my father would come home from work / the pub, he would eat something too.  We didn’t eat as a family very often in my youth, except for when my dad would bring home Chinese takeaway (which I always loved). Partly because our schedules rarely meshed, but also partly because we didn’t really find mealtimes conducive to talking – we didn’t have much to share with one another as a family. I was a youngster who enjoyed my privacy and I didn’t get on with my father that well in my childhood, so anything I wanted to share with my parents, I would share with my mother because generally my dad didn’t show much of an interest and I certainly didn’t want to let him in very often either. My parents were often at loggerheads with one another, and even when they weren’t, my mum didn’t really want to wait for my dad to get home just to have a meal she could prepare for herself two hours earlier, and my dad wouldn’t make much of an effort at conversation because he was already tipsy / drunk.

After my dad had his final cycling accident and decided to ultimately give up cycling (or otherwise lose his family, because my mother and I had both had enough of picking up the pieces at Frenchay hospital), he began to find more enjoyment in cooking. My mother also had a hand in this, as she was tired of my dad complaining about the food she had bought to cook with – so she essentially said “if you don’t like what I make, then make something yourself!” Fair enough – and fair play to my father, he went ahead and did it. As I became older, my tastes in food matured, and I found that the meals my father would make (albeit often quite spicy-HOT) would be quite enjoyable. So we started to eat together more often. It was ironic that as my parents needed to be less disciplined with me because I was demonstrating my own sense of self as an adult, we began to happily and willingly eat meals together and make conversation – when I was listening to that radio broadcast, what came to mind was families forced to eat together by an overbearing patriarch or matriarch while everyone else squirmed in their seats in near silence. When I was younger, that’s what a family meal meant to me. And now I am older and a grown man in my own right, I enjoy sharing a meal with loved ones, catching up about one another’s days, and making conversation and sharing opinions on a range of topics, both current and perennial. It was a symbol of each member of our small family finally learning to accept one another, learning to argue less with one another and see other points of view, and becoming close knit and more loving towards one another – although I must stress that I don’t think family dinners of this type can cause or force a family to bond – the love and understanding has to be there already!

I feel that the most important thing is not having a strict family rule to eat together – while I understand why some families do this (during our conversation tonight, Toby said that his family would always eat meals at the table together) and I think it’s a nice idea in theory, in practice I definitely feel that an eating situation should be comfortable for all concerned. If it’s not convenient to eat together, or conversation and relations are strained, then it’s better to eat in front of the TV or in your room or wherever you feel happiest and safest. Mealtimes, like all other times, should feel comfortable and flow comfortably. In life, we go through enough awkward social occasions that I don’t know if it’s really necessary or advisable to inflict more upon ourselves. But I am now old enough and happy enough to appreciate the value of good shared food, good shared conversation and an easy feeling of camaraderie. Eating at the table with Toby tonight was an absolute pleasure, and the extra few minutes of preparing the table, serving the components of the meal individually, and washing up the extra used crockery and cutlery afterwards were absolutely worth it for a relaxed meeting of minds and hearts.

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retaliate?

July 15, 2010

On Monday night I spent the evening with Mike and Caroline and their adorable 3 year old son Billy, and we had Dominos pizzas, played with Claire’s cat (they were house-sitting for her while she was on holiday for her boyfriend’s birthday) and watched TV.  Between the friendly insults between Mike and myself, the yummy food and the cute trots around the garden with Billy, we ended up having an interesting conversation / I watched an incipient argument between Mike and Caroline about whether it is right to teach your child to hit back when they are hit.

A bit more background to the story: Billy goes to nursery on afternoons during the week, and is in a class with various other kids who are the same age.  His initial reluctance to go to nursery has more or less faded now, and he seems to enjoy himself there and plays well with most of the other kids (as well as trying to sneak home toys in his socks!).  However, there are two little girls called Paris and Jayla who have behavioural issues in the group, and because of these girls’ issues with the rest of the group, they are currently under watch from the head of the nursery.  Now, I don’t really know too much of the details beyond the fact that these girls act mean towards the rest of the children, and Caroline said that she has observed Jayla (the girl in question) acting menacingly towards all of the children and trying to bully them into giving her their toys, or pushing them around.

On Monday, Caroline mentioned that she had asked Billy how he had got on with Jayla that day, and he said that she tried to take a toy away from him and snatch it out of his hands, but he held on to it; in addition, when they were lining up after playtime, she tried to push him out of the line several times but he just stood back in it.  Caroline was proud of this, as it meant that Billy had stood his ground without making a scene or responding directly to Jayla’s behaviour; at no point did Caroline suggest that the girl was personally targeting Billy; rather, it’s a case of her trying to dominate whoever is around in a childish display of power.  Nevertheless Billy has been one of the victims of her behaviour, and although he’s handled it well, who knows if it will escalate or how much it affects or upsets him below his happy-go-lucky demeanour?

Caroline and Mike were discussing this during the evening and it became clear that they had different viewpoints on how to handle this problem.  On the one hand, Caroline was pleased with Billy for turning the other cheek, but she was worried that Jayla might not stop harassing her son and that it might end up really upsetting Billy and ruining his time at nursery.  Mike was worried about the same, but his solution for dealing with Jayla once and for all was for Billy to push her back when she pushed him or tried to take his stuff. Caroline didn’t like this (for what precise reason I don’t know, though I think it has less to do with ramifications from teachers or Jayla’s mother – Caroline can stand her ground and apparently Jayla’s mother is your average young chav woman – and more to do with the ethics of teaching a child to counter violence with violence) and refused to tell Billy this course of action; Mike said that that was fine and that he would tell Billy himself, but it became clear that Caroline didn’t want him to do this either.

Mike could tell that Caroline was getting agitated, and said that responding in a more direct manner might nip the problem in the bud; he was adamant that Billy should not and would not remain unhappy at nursery, and pushing this girl back in retaliation was the best way to get her to leave him alone once and for all. He supported this with a story from his own childhood which resulted in him triumphing over bullies who had made his school life miserable in a similar way; however, in Mike’s anecdote he was 11; Billy is 3.  How young is too young to advocate violence? Is one child pushing another in retaliation considered “violence”?  Does it mean that Billy is lowering himself to Jayla’s level by responding to her intimidation in kind? What might happen if Jayla decides to step her threatening behaviour up a notch?

From the above questions, it might sound like I fall on Caroline’s side of the fence, but actually I don’t.  I am not a parent, and I have not met Jayla; nor is it my place to offer advice to Mike and Caroline.  However, the way that I see it is that Billy, to his credit, has already tried turning the other cheek (as do, from the sound of it, the other kids) and Jayla isn’t giving up. She is a nasty piece of work, and although I don’t think that Billy is a weak child, he is a nice boy and perhaps pushing Jayla back is a primal way of demonstrating that he has some grit to his character.  Moreover, in life you have to protect yourself by any means necessary; at this point Billy has already tried a non-violent approach which has been mature and classy, but it’s not working… now is the time, in my opinion, to send a short, sharp message loud and clear.  Like Caroline, I don’t believe in using violence to get your point across, but at the same time if someone hits me then I will hit them back and I believe that their attack gives me licence to do so.  In the context of retaliation, I don’t think there is anything wrong with Billy pushing Jayla – to sound schoolyard, she pushed him first. He’s tried the passive approach, now it’s time to send a clearer message using a different approach. Although I think that Mike is projecting somewhat when he talks about his own childhood and says that he doesn’t want Billy to be seen as weak (which I think is a little bit of over-psycho-analysis), the result is the same: the goal is to get this girl to piss off, and turnabout is fair play. Like Mike, I have a feeling that from the sound of her, Jayla can dish it out but she won’t be able to take it, and I’m in favour of Billy giving her a taste of her own medicine.

In my childhood, there was one instance in particular when I lifted a boy up by his shirt and ended up ripping all the buttons off it in the process; I was 6 years old.  However, although my mother and his mother (who, thankfully, were friends) did have to come and resolve the situation after class (and we had to sew the buttons back on his shirt!), I didn’t get in trouble because my teacher had seen that my action was a retaliation; the child who got his shirt ripped had yelled in my ear. The moral of this story is that teachers, good teachers know dynamics between their children, and I didn’t get in trouble for a simple act of retaliation. I think therefore that the teachers at the nursery know the score and they wouldn’t hold any retaliatory action from Billy against him; so although I would always go with Caroline’s non-violent, rise above it attitude first, if that fails then I agree with Mike and it is time to hit back.

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gift.

October 10, 2009

So my birthday is coming up, and literally just now my mother asked me whether I still wanted a flat screen TV.  Originally, I was after one so that I could better see the graphics (and actually be able to read the on-screen instructions!!!) when I’m playing my Playstation 3.  But I was going to move my current TV into my ‘office’ area (where I have my printer and filing set up for uni) and according to plans my mother has to put a wardrobe in there, I don’t think it’s gonna fit.  And I don’t really play PS3 enough for it to be worth just buying a new TV.  So I’m gonna nix the gift, and now I have to think of something else!

And it’s hard but I almost got a little bit tearful for a moment there because if I could choose another gift at this moment, I just wish that my parents would stop fighting.  This last couple of weeks, it’s been really really bad, alternating between silent treatments and raging rows.  I’ve just tried to get out of their company as soon as I can after dinner, and work by myself in my bedroom / the spare bedroom / the hallway, because it’s just traumatic.  I remember when I was 8 years old, and I used to listen to them fighting upstairs and just cry and wish for it all to stop – well, I react differently now (I go and have a shower to drown out their voices; I contemplate going downstairs and telling them to grow up) but I still feel like I’m 8 years old again and a little child listening to the world falling apart.  I don’t know what to do.

Maybe this is why my little crush at uni isn’t really a crush.  I just want somebody to protect me and hold me tight and for everything to be ok.  I try and maintain the façade of having everything together as much as possible, because I don’t want anyone to know that I am actually feeling quite vulnerable, but I think I’ve let a couple of things slip that maybe betray the fact I’m quite upset about it.  When I daydream (or night-dream), it’s not really a sexual thing but more a protective thing, that somebody will hold me and not leave.  I have made my friend Mike promise that as soon as he has a decent flat available and my bursary comes through, I am going to move out because I’ve just had enough, and also I really need my own space where I can just be at ease and have my own privacy and invite people round and come and go as I please.  I don’t get on badly with my parents (after all, they’re not shouting at / being silent with me) but maybe it’s just being 23, nearly 24 and still living at home is a little constraining.

So I now have to deal with the conundrum of what to ask for as a birthday gift from my mum. (I haven’t asked if this is going to be on behalf of both of my parents, as my dad usually remembers my birthday – he didn’t buy me a birthday present once and a Christmas present another time, but that happened in the past so I don’t know if he would still forget these days.) Although I want a Gucci necklace, I don’t think I am going to mention it.  I may have a window shop today and see if I find anything that tickles my fancy, but other than someone scooping me up and telling me everything is gonna be alright, or a place to call my own (both things I can’t exactly ask for!), I really don’t know what I want.

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10 things.

August 22, 2009

Since I don’t really know what to write, and I’ve had a pretty uneventful day (that’s what happens when you spend most of it on the sofa – I think my fatigue is nearly gone though 😀 ), I thought I would just make a quick list of 10 thoughts or things that I haven’t necessarily learned today, but that have returned to mind or made themselves evident today.

1.  Apparently, my mother standing on my laptop is appropriate recompense for my threatening to take a picture of her.

2.  My father has an intense and somewhat irrational dislike of Eminem and the Black Eyed Peas.

3.  Good films on dvd never go on sale quickly enough.

4.  Your hometown is the best, most comforting place when you’re somewhere else.  As soon as you’re back there, it’s claustrophobic and overly familiar, and you want to break out all over again.

5.  According to the return of X Factor and the continuation of Big Brother, reality tv makes the world go round.  Not only is it recession-friendly, but it somehow hypnotises 95% of the population and destroys their remaining brain cells.  Am I really the only one who finds those kinds of programmes irredeemably tacky???

6.  There are not enough sexy men in my life.

7.  Everyone must have come back from summer holidays because suddenly my blog is getting lots of views again like it used to! (There was a two-week lull.)  Thanks y’all 🙂

8.  As much as we chastise celebrity fragrances for being tacky, not realising that Armani, Gucci, Ralph Lauren and lots of other brands pay perfumers to manufacture perfumes for their brands in the exact same way and with the exact same lack of input, I still want to buy myself a new bottle of Britney Spears Curious.

9.  Beyoncé has the power to make my father’s voice (and his criticisms and jokes) inaudible to my ears.

10.  Fashions may change, the world may evolve and people may be born, live and die each day, but love will always remain one of the constant cruxes of the human race.