Saturday, 8 January 2011

Communications Are Down

29th October

This morning in bed I was reading Goldilocks to the girls.
“Goldilocks jumped out of the bed, ran down the stairs and out of the cottage, never to return again!.... Can you imagine if we came home and Goldilocks was in your bed? We would say Get out Goldilocks!”
Big Sister laughs, and pauses to think.
“And, if... we came home and Paul McCartney was in my bed we would say, Get Out Paul McCartney!”

Broxbourne. Rural serenity ripples on the surface of the water as I open the back door to throw a rubbish bag onto the back deck. The launderette equation tells me that the nearest launderette is not even commutable from our lovely willow shaded mooring, next to a little patch of woodland.
Last night the whole family slept through the night for the first time in weeks. This should effect the overall gradient of the life experience – less uphill struggle, more like cruising in a long pound, (a stretch of canal without any locks).

“Mummy, I’ve put water on your phone,” confessed my eldest daughter. Now the buttons don’t work. The Mellow Mum is coming to visit today. I can see the beginning of the text she has sent to me. “How near to the pub...?” She is asking exactly where we are moored, but I cannot reply. Communications are down! “Houston, we have a problem!” I dismantle the phone and hope that the snugness of the diesel stove will permeate throughout the micro-bits and dry out my phone. Otherwise I’ll have to write letters to communicate with the world, instead of texts.

It was 9.30am before I remembered to eat this morning, and then I wonder why I’m losing weight! And I didn’t even sit down to eat that piece of toast, because I was trying to get the boat ship shape before my friend comes around, with her two little daughters.

As I threw out the rubbish I saw that several fishermen have set up camp outside our boat, with the regulation checked shirt, baseball cap and roll-up cigarette, accompanied by all paraphernalia; boxes, rods, directors chair, and umbrella. Ramlin Rose calls them a ‘Mug n a Maggot’. Sometimes you get pegged down fishing competitions along the towpath. I once barged into one of these by accident. It was in my early days of boating and I was just learning to steer. The fishing net nearly got tangled in the prop and I made one poor fisherman very angry.

I came back inside and had an idea. I turned on the computer to email our mutual work colleagues. Perhaps they could phone the Mellow Mum and explain that my phone is broken, but I’m still up for a visit and I’m moored outside the pub. However, ‘Internet Explorer cannot display the webpage’. The mobile dongle signal strength is weak so I clicked on ‘Help and Support’.

“How to improve your signal strength.
Think about the positioning of your dongle. E.g. upstairs will be better than a basement flat. Some rooms get a stronger signal than others depending on thickness of walls. You could also buy a wireless router, which can then relay the signal. It can be plugged into a room with a good signal strength. The dongle is then plugged into the router and up to four computers can use it around the house.”
These suggestions are only helpful if you have walls, stairs, and perhaps a house. The software creators might want to add to that,
“Your mobile signal strength is directly related to the levels of outstanding rural beauty, peace and quiet from which you are trying to reach the outside world.”

(Distance from nearest town) + (Beauty of rural scenery) + (distance from launderette) divided by (a large number) = possible mobile internet signal strength.

I now had a ship shape boat and no guests but eventually I was able to access my email.

Date: Thursday, 28 October, 2010, 12:47

Boat Wife

The Mellow Mum has had a flat tyre on the way over to you and has been unable to get through to you on your mobile.

She says she should be with you by 1pm.

The Mellow Husband

Mellow Husband! My daughter broke my phone this morning and I've had terrible mobile internet reception all day. Can you phone her and explain this please?! We are here, moored outside The Crown. Naezing Road. Thank you!

Boat Wife

The Mellow Mum arrived an hour and a half later than expected after being stuck at the side of the road with a flat tyre and two girls younger than mine. But of course she was mellow about her predicament. Her and her daughter collected leaves to make a picture, while waiting for assistance. My bubble of isolation has now been shattered by the crying of not two, but four children. How did boat wives manage in cabins ten feet long with four, five, or six kids?

I was so pleased to hear that the Mellow Mum is enjoying my blog.
“But do you really sit perched on a lock gate writing, or is that poetic licence?” She asked. Is it true that I must write anywhere and everywhere? I told her that it is. This morning at 10am the children were fed, washed and dressed but I had forgotten to eat something myself. I was sat typing something in my vest and pants while the baby napped and her sister watched TV.

The Mellow Mum, the four girls and I, went for a woodland walk where the girls had a frolic in a forest clearing and then we all had a drink at the pub. The older girls sit at the table colouring pictures. Her babe sleeps; mine cries. We comment on how amazed we are that we can laugh in the face of crescendos of crying, when we’re with one another, yet handling the crying alone creates an instant upsurge of stress, which you try to internalise and hide from the kids.

Today’s stress relief exercise for myself was: Write a list of the ‘life challenges’ that are stressing me out. (Overtired, isolated, lonely, no spare time, where to live?) Then go into the girls’ bedroom for one minute alone to eat chocolate in secret, so that my daughter cannot see the chocolate and suggest that I share it.

At bedtime after putting the baby to bed, my daughter and I always snuggle up on the sofa under the rabbit blanket, for a bedtime story.
“Do you want Beauty and the Beast again?”
“No,” she said firmly. Tonight for my story, I want the Beatles Book.”
“Oh Ok.” This is The Beatles: The Story of the Songs. Tonight she points at a page she likes because of the pictures on it and instructs me to read that one. So I begin to read and explain the origins of John Lennon’s nonsense lyrics in I Am The Walrus. The Walrus was a reference to The Walrus and The Carpenter, Lewis Carroll’s poem. My daughter really enjoyed a children’s rhyme from the 1960’s that had inspired John, and had me read it to her several times over.
“Yellow matter custard, Green Slop Pie, All mixed together with a dead dogs eye, Slap it on a butty, Ten feet thick, Wash it all down with a cup of cold sick.”
“Disgusting!” she giggles, delighted, and I pack her off to bed for sweet dreams.
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