Deb's Digest
Debbie Atkinson’s family life column, as featured in the Southport Visiter.

Saturday, 31 May 2008



We watched Neil Diamond on TV last night and all the old songs reminded me of my youth. I've now booked seats at the MEN for next Sunday - unfortunately they're behind the stage - so will we see him? and if so will we only see his back? My husband has an aversion to all things involving communal clapping and arm waving so I've put him in front of the TV to watch last night's recording so that he can practise.



The 22 week picture of Oscar!

Thursday, 29 May 2008


Our daughter had a night on the town yesterday and before she went out swore blind that she had her door key. In the early hours of this morning the phone woke me from a deep sleep. This was followed by knocking on the front door. She hadn't got her key at all. Not funny.  But I had to laugh just now when I pressed the flashing message light on the phone - "hello, it's me I'm standing outside." She must have thought that I would ignore the banging on the door and first go to the message machine in case we had an outstanding call.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008


If I'm just getting older and less tolerant then so be it but I saw for myself yesterday how far standards have slipped in educational establishments. I started the maths course with six other mature (I use the word loosely) students. One female student was going to be trouble from the off. When asked why she wanted to do the course she simply shrugged her shoulders. Why did her parents never give her a clip round the ears? After failing miserably in the diagnostic test she was told politely that this was not the course for her and an alternative course was suggested. She argued and then stormed out saying that she'd wasted her time, followed by the member of staff calling after her. A teacher friend said that the only thing that surprised him about the incident was that she didn't kick two chairs and a table on her way out since that's the norm apparently. I remember being frightened to death of being caught without my beret on the way home from school - what has happened since then?

Perhaps the answer lies in my generation - when only the pupils who weren't capable of doing A-levels went to teacher training college.

Monday, 26 May 2008





I'm absolutely delighted with my latest find. Normally I make hanging baskets myself but because I have to buy the plants, compost, moss etc they cost me a fortune. The local garden centres charge up to £100 for theirs. A friend's friend pointed us in the direction of some greenhouses out in the country where they make and sell baskets. We went yesterday and bought three - they were £20 each and have hundreds of plants in. The trouble is I can't hang them up - gale force winds and sand storms yesterday and torrential rain today. I suppose it is only May.

Today I start a maths course at the local college. I hated maths at school but now that I have mastered (almost) the most killerish of the killer sudokus I feel ready to forget the past and move on. While lying on the Arcadia's sundeck I listened (in between falling asleep) to 'In Our Time' podcasts - one was all about antimatter and how maths equations can tell us more about nature than we already know - deep stuff when all around me were sipping cocktails and playing quoits. So this morning I begin "Let's Go With Maths" which almost sounds like "Janet and John". I wonder if I've got enough years left to get onto antimatter. I told the artist son that the course lasts for six weeks and he's told me to take plenty to eat and drink.

Saturday, 24 May 2008


What an almighty washout that was. Like Terry Wogan I think I'll give the Eurovision Song Contest a miss next year. My suggestion is for the UK to hold an alternative Song Contest, I don't suppose it would be PC to stage one for just the old European countries so why not have a contest between counties. Let's just opt out of the annoying annual comedy - or how about a Western Eurovision Contest and a separate one Eastern Europe. Now that's a good idea even if I do say so myself.

Friday, 23 May 2008


I'm a huge fan of the Eurovision Song Contest - the fanatical interest dates back to when I was about five and was allowed to stay up late to watch it. (I'm not as fanatical as a former colleague who used to throw Eurovision parties and offer food from each country as the contestant performed).

I've always thought that if I could hear the songs in advance I could pick the winner, so last night I spent two hours listening to the entries from 45 countries and picked Switzerland as the clear winner. Flipped websites to William Hill to place my bet and discovered that there were just 25 entries and Switzerland wasn't one of them. Since I couldn't remember what I'd listened to previously I had to repeat the exercise with the remaining 25. I just hope it's been worth it, but I doubt it. My choice, for what it's worth is France, followed by Germany and Rumania. But I just know that we'll all be groaning over our official voting sheets as one of the Eastern European countries wins yet again, thanks to tactical voting by its neighbours.

I'm now killing time until the London son emails me a selection of photos from the stag do that took place last night. I'm open to monetary bribes.

Thursday, 22 May 2008


16 days is definitely too long to be away from home - especially when you're a control freak. During our cruise our eldest son and his wife discovered that they're having a baby boy (Oscar); our daughter celebrated her birthday and the London son started a new job. Anyway, we're back now - to grass a foot high and mounds and mounds of washing and ironing.

The cruise was good although as we were swaying through grey mist, grey skies and grey sea for two solid days we were not amused by Sky News reports that the UK was basking in the hottest May weather on record. Our fellow cruisers were not in the first flush of youth - or the second or third come to that - in fact I believe there were at least two deaths on board during the 16 days we were away. On our car journey home we stopped at a motorway service station and my husband just kept repeating " doesn't everyone look young". Institutionalised is the word that springs to mind.

We did see some lovely places though






and posed for lots of photos


and ate some lovely meals




saw the QE2 so often that I began to get confused about which boat I should be boarding.

The London son seems to have got rid of his rodent lodger and has settled in to life at L'Oreal. No sooner had he walked through the door than he was told that he'd be off to Ibiza in June with his colleagues - returning the day before he goes to Borneo to see the orangutans. He's had his jabs and I've bought him a plentiful supply of 100% Deet (mosquito killer) but I reckon an umbrella might be more use because I'm sure it's the monsoon season there.

Sunday, 4 May 2008

A Wii

Our lounge has become a ski dome, a driving range and a boxing ring, a bowling alley, a park with a waterfall and a baseball field (field?).

The London son has a spare week between leaving innocent and starting a new life at L'Oreal (because he's worth it - I'll get that one over with before we go any further) and he decided to treat himself to a Wii while at home for the weekend. I have to say that I'll be sorry when he takes it back to his flat, I've never felt so healthy - heading footballs and football boots (I was classified as unbalanced) and beating him at ten pin bowling. It's an amazing thing but I can't help wondering what the neighbours might think when they see people twitching, jumping, crouching and heading imaginary balls in our living room.


some people couldn't even wait till they were dressed



his brother wanted a go



and so did his dad



and then it was time for a master class from the expert