Ex Pat Mamma

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Television watching - at last

TV turns your kids brains to mush, it's official. If they watch more than 21 hours a day they get fat and lose motivation for school. But you know what? Mums need a break sometime.

So, it has been some disappointment to me that er pupo has shown no interest in tv. The most I've had out of him is about 10 minutes at a time (unless he has been sick, where that can go up to 20 minutes as he is too tired to protest). He loves Bagpuss beyond measure. But that is only a 15 minute show and when they go out of the shop into Bagpuss' imagination for cartoons he tends to wander off.

However. Aha! Success! Last night, he woke up - a poop had been the culprit but I'll spare you the details. He had no intention of going back to sleep and since we were watching a DVD of Rigoletto, I took him through. He was captivated. Now er pupo loves music and dances constantly, sings along when he can at the top of his voice - including to the radio in supermarkets, which is a teeny bit embarassing - and there is always music at our house. His dad plays him opera and they dance together. Even when I was pregnant, he would jig about inside me when he heard music.

So, last night. He started by gaping fascinated at the screen. Then he started to dance, then before I knew it he was singing along. When the soprano had her aria he just began to scream as loud and high as he could to imitate her! When we got to the "impending disaster bit" he started nodding frantically and saying "no no no" (It was Verdi, so impending disaster is inevitable). I am quite sure he didn't understand the story, but I think he got a sense from the music that something bad was happening.

Opera is a lot like kids' tv - bright costumes, big make-up, exaggerated gestures and music, music, music. Forget CBeebies, I'll need to find some Rossini dvds for his birthday. But we'll not put away Bagpuss just yet. The only risk is he'll be chatting to the other kiddies down the beach in 18th century literary italian! Come to think of it, he'll sound a lot like my hubby speaking English when he first met me!

Scotland for the Security Council #2 - the Campaign is Launched

The campaign has begun! The Guardian Weekly published my ever so slightly tongue-in-cheek letter, the subject of which I blogged on shortly after the Scottish elections. Unfortunately, they edited the letter slightly so that I think it might get taken seriously.

Since I'm on a trusty mac, which is not fully supported by blogger (GET A GRIP, MAN!) I can't post a hyperlink, but the original post is here:

I think the paper has copyright in my letter and it is not on the web because GW is subscriber only. But trust me, it was quite, quite brilliant ;)

As in all good divorce settlements, it pays to demand the outrageous - it's like bargaining in the Chinese silk market: wherever you start you can only go in one direction. So ex-husband who has barely seen the kids all their lives demands custody; mum, who has done all the caring anyway, is so desperate to keep custody that she gives up her claims on the house and savings because "all I want is the kids!" Same principle. Scotland demands the SC seat; at the negotiation table says: "ok, ok, rump uk, you can keep the SC, as long as we get the oil." A much relieved, and eager for international prestige rump uk says "yes, ok, phew!"


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

This is what I do for a living

I write things. My work in progress is called:
State Responsibility: A concerto for many soloists and little orchestra

It has three movements:
Andante ma accelerando

Only I know what it means. The same will probably be true when it is finished.

Don't you just wish you were me?

Now you know why I never blog about my dayjob. I am a geek of the first order.


Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Why good parenting is easy and impossible at the same time

We all know how to be good parents. Be loving; show affection. Be firm and consistent. Give praise for good behaviour or learning new skills. Don't lose your temper. Set clear boundaries. Be a good example. When toddler behaves badly, stay calm and tell him why you are unhappy; neither give him what he wants nor get mad.

It's so EASY. It's so bleeding obvious.

And yet.

You have be superhuman to actually do it every day.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Scotland for the Security Council!

The campaign starts here!

Ok, let's start with some admissions:
1) The SNP picked up about a third of the vote; this does not independence make
2) Loads of SNP votes were "anti-labour" rather than pro-independence; likely more than were the votes for other parties of people who would vote for independence
3) The argument that follows is on the shoogliest of pegs.

But let's hypothesise, go with me, have fun.

An independent Scotland could be a member of the EU so for ordinary Bill and Ted, there won't be a whole lot of change. They can go and work anywhere in the EU. Members of the EU can go to work in Scotland. Scotland would probably be more open to immigration from elsewhere, and perhaps more generous to asylum seekers; one can only hope. It needs some help to maintain its population (though see below the risk of refugees from the rump UK armed forces).

But, but but BUT.... the UN. The UK is a permament member of the security council. permanent. 62 years on and still there. vetoing everything they don't fancy, bullying the "little people", starting wars around the place, making international laws (more or less; it's not official, but it happens in practice. Trust me, you don't want the boring details).

Now, do not mistake Scottish independence with "secession." Secession is when a little sister state that has been colonised and ruled by a big state gets its independence back. But that isn't the case with Scotland and the rest of the UK. Scotland and England (and Wales, which WAS colonised, but was never quite so bothered about it), were two independent and equal sovereign nations who made a treaty to unify. They created a new state, Great Britain. If Scotland becomes a new, independent state, so too does the rest of the UK. It does not just carry on being "the old UK minus a bit up top"; it is a new state and has to itself reapply to the EU and the UN.

Hence, the security council seat. I vote for Scotland to take it.

Now, there is a precedent here, slightly inconvenient, but far from insurmountable - the USSR. When it dissolved, Russia "continued" the statehood of the old USSR, kept membership in the UN (ie didn't need to reapply like Latvia, Ukraine, etc.) and with it, the security council seat. But the USSR was nor formed by pacts between sovereign states. Moreover, the considerations that applied to Russia may not apply to Scotland.
1) geography: ok, granted, the rump UK will have a majority of territory.
2) population; again, the rump UK is going to win this one
3) nukes. Now, I happen to believe these are hanging about in Scotland. The rump UK was a bit nervous about having anything quite so scary nearby, so they stuck them up north out the way, so it wouldn't matter so much if one were to leak, blow up or whatever nuclear missiles on submarines get up to on their days off. So Scotland will obviously have to keep trident. (Or just disarm the bleeding thing and put the engineers to good use developing renewable energy which we can flog back south and to the rest of Europe. Maybe keep one though just to help the Scotland for the Security Council Seat campaign).
4) armed forces. I understand Scots constitute around 1/3 of the armed forces (I know it's high, but I read it somewhere on the web, so it must be true!). All Scots can have the choice of whether to remain in a rump UK regiment or transfer to a new Scottish regiment. Given that Scotland would not be fannying about in Iraq having their soldiers playing "operation human shield" it will be enlighteing to see what proportion of the current UK armed forces discovers a Scottish granny.

Constitutionally, the separation of Scotland from the rest of the UK is more in keeping with the breakup of the former Yugoslavia; lots of new independent states were created; Serbia was NOT considered to be the same state as the former Yugoslavia (well, not until the genocide case in February, but that was on a technicality!) Serbia had to reapply for admission to the UN just like Croatia, Bosnia, Macedonia and Slovenia.

So, there it is, Scotland for the Security Council. Probably less likely to legitimise bombing the crap out of distant lands. Probably less likely to ever use their nukes.

Now: independence, there's the rub. I'm not convinced a majority of Scots want it; at least not a majority of those who can be bothered getting of their butts to vote. If I were the Lib-Dems, I'd call the SNP bluff and say, SURE, have your referendum and shut up. The SNP would lose; be humbled and get on with devolution. If the Libs insist on waiting a few years the SNP might actually prove they know something about governance, about economics, then some of the Don't Knows (myself amongst them) might be convinced. They can't make more of a hash of it than the idjots that designed and planned the elections that brought them to power (well, almost, not first minister yet, Aly).

And for my dear English friends; you know that most people who vote SNP, even those who support independence are not "anti-English" (well, maybe about the footie, but then the English are "anti-German" about the footie - we all have our demons). Scotland for everyone! Scotland for the Security Council! Me for Queen!