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

Saturday, 30 August 2008



My day isn't complete until I've checked the pandacam from Atlanta Georgia. We've kept a daily watch on goings-on ever since Mai Lan, a giant panda, was born two years ago. So obsessed are we that our daughter is off to the zoo in Atlanta on Tuesday to celebrate Mai Lan's second birthday. But we're now extra excited because Mai Lan's mum, Lun Lun has just given birth again.  Just as an afterthought (haha) I've mentioned to our daughter that REM hail from Athens Georgia which is a mere few hundred kilometers from where she's staying. A few autographs wouldn't go amiss.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008




I've just seen something that made me chuckle. I know that Tropicana is owned by Pepsi - a giant of a company that seems to want to crush innocent - the lovely company that the London son worked for for a couple of years. On the much-valued end of aisle position at our local Tesco, Tropicana has a big display of cartons on promotion at two for £4. Above their display is innocent's at two for £3. Three cheers for innocent and great to see they're putting up a fight.

Sunday, 24 August 2008


I'm putting this here because I don't want to lose it!


We saw REM at the Old Trafford cricket ground yesterday. That's the fourth time I've seen them live and it was the best. They bashed out one fantastic hit after another for over two hours.  Because I'm in the fan club (naturally) we had early-entry wrist bands so managed - we thought- to secure a prime position on the front row of the cricket-style seating. This was fine for the first six hours but by the time night was falling I'd lost count of the number of drunks who'd tried to climb or sit on the small metal rail in front of us, and overbalanced. Then one woman did her party piece and bent over the rail to vomit - nice.

My husband was there under sufferance and because he loathes getting stuck in traffic jams, suggested that we leave before the final song (we usually leave a racecourse before the final race) and he reasoned that I could listen to the finale in the car. I explained that if I wanted to do that I could just put a CD on.

Editors (I want to put a 'the' in front of their name but that would no-doubt age me) were on too - I thought they were very good and will now listen to more to see if it was just the live performance that I liked or if it was really their music.


Friday, 22 August 2008



I've seen plenty of very good living statues but the one we saw in York yesterday takes some beating.

Thursday, 21 August 2008


We go to the Ebor meeting at York every summer - sometimes we sunbathe while watching the races, sometimes we shiver. This year we didn't see a single race. The whole meeting was cancelled because of the rain.

What a disaster. I have to admit I prefer sightseeing and shopping anyway but our hotel was full of people who had travelled from all over the place to be there just for the racing element. Instead of losing money to the bookies we managed to find Wilfred Owen's cottage in Ripon;

had an enthusiastic tour of Shandy Hall where Laurence Sterne wrote Tristram Shandy


and saw Roman artefacts in Malton Museum so we've come home a lot wiser and probably richer.

Monday, 18 August 2008


While our younger son was home for the weekend I was telling him that I'd just bought tickets to see Boy George at the Liverpool Philharmonic. He seemed overly surprised and it took me a while to work out why. I have a horrible feeling that we might be perched on the front row of the circle in amongst the whole of Liverpool's gay community. Not, I must very quickly add, that I have anything against them whatsoever, but WHY DIDN'T I THINK OF THAT! My husband doesn't even know that he's going yet.

The artist son came round in a newly-acquired Golf Plus to take his brother for a spin round the block and to see the nursery. I'm not sure that our younger son knows what to make of all this baby activity and he came back with photos on his mobile of Oscar's more unusual clothes (including a baby Columbo-style mac) to send to all his friends.

Sunday, 17 August 2008


I may be slow on the uptake and you may well have already seen this video but I liked it so won't apologise for putting it here. A lion cub was bought from Harrods in the '60s and brought up in a London apartment. The owners christened him Christian.

He was released into an African reserve when he outgrew the accommodation. The owners went back a year later to see how he was getting on - despite being warned that it was the head of a pride and wouldn't know them. This is what happened ......

Friday, 15 August 2008


The Courtyard at Little Crosby is just the sort of place I'd love to own. An old barn, turned tea room, with tables and chairs outside in amongst pots of flowers. There's even a black goat who sunbathes. We're going there for lunch - and if you're in the area, I can recommend the chargrilled vegetable sandwiches.


I've just had an email from ICICI informing me that I can now log on to my account. Ready for another fight, blood pressure soaring, I tried. IT WORKED. Well, wonders will never cease.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008


Yesterday we were shown Oscar's room. At the end of September, Oscar will be our first grandchild and he already has more clothes than me. His room has been painted in beautiful creams and blues, his window overlooks open fields and he'll see the sunrise. His magnificent cot awaits his arrival (after he has outgrown his beautiful Moses basket) and he has two wardrobes - one stacked with clothes for when he's older and one packed with new-born outfits. He is going to be one lucky little boy. When we'd left his house his grandad-to-be and I were reminiscing about when his our son (Oscar's dad) was brought to our home in Hesketh Bank for the first time. We had a carrycot perched on a single bed, the curtains were cast-offs and most of the clothes he had were those I'd spent nine months knitting. His pram was second hand as was his cot. I won't add that we sent him up neighbours' chimneys as soon as he could walk in his clogs - but times are definitely - I was going to say better but I'm not sure that's the word - perhaps just different.

Monday, 11 August 2008


The artist son, is as I write this, en-route for London to see Cy Twombly's work at the Tate.

It's lashing down and there's just been an announcement on the local news that trains between Lime Street and Runcorn are affected by a signalling failure. I HATE TRAINS.

Thursday, 7 August 2008


While still raging about the ICICI fiasco, and in between emailing them, I found this on the This Is Money website.


ICICI Bank still does not comply with the Uk Banking Code, which sets minimum standards for customer service.

there is some anecdotal evidence that customers have struggled to receive passwords, to have money transfers happen on time and of people generally tearing their hair out trying to get their savings sorted.

In short, despite the good rate and the fact that others recomend ICICI Bank purely on their high rate (which is undoubtedly a 'best buy'), we're not comfortable recommending that our readers put their hard-earned cash somewhere that so many others are frustrated with

I only wish I'd read this before opening the accounts.


I've spent three hours over yesterday and today trying to sort out my on-line ICICI account. The call centre is in India and I honestly believe that I now the name of everyone in it.  The bank's site won't let me log in and when I ring the call centre, no-one has the faintest idea what I'm talking about. The latest man told me to print off the pop-up that tells me there's an error and then post it to him - I ask you!  I did two transfers yesterday out of my Barclays current a/c and into the ICICI account.  Barclays tell me the money went immediately and should already be in the other a/c. The ICICI man says it will take 3 days to reach my account - so where is it in the meantime - or is someone carrying it to India on the back of a tortoise? I really could have wept today - the phone was sticking to my ear with perspiration and I had someone telling me to press buttons on my keyboard that didn't exist. I'm just glad my mother hasn't got a computer because her foot would have been through it by now.

My husband has found a website that tells people to avoid ICICI because customers are tearing their hair out trying to get sense out of the operators - I know the feeling.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008


I'm very glad that I've just completed a maths course. As I've said earlier in this blog, I'm determined to keep tabs on our gas and electric usage. Lights have been switched off; washing has been hung out and we're eating salads. Our daughter's daily shower has been cut by half to ten minutes and she doesn't know it yet but that time will have to be slashed by another 50%. I took our readings a week ago and again today but that is worthless without knowing what we're paying per unit. So I've just been on to "John" at Scottish Power. He told me that to work out the gas charges I must do a calculation. I multiply the units by 39.1 then by 1.022640 then divide by 3.6. He said "If you look at the back of your bill it tells you all that." I looked and here is what it says: "Multiply the answer by the calorific value and the correction factor and then divide by 3.6" .

Friday, 1 August 2008



Virginia Ironside

Well I never. I've just received a reply to my email to Virginia Ironside (see entry below). It reads:

Thanks so much for your kind email. What a strange coincidence about what
you're to be called as grannie! Just off to bed after long day with
grandson - all best, Virginia

I'd told her that just an hour before reading a part of her book where she talks about her son asking her what she wants to be called when her grandchild is born, I'd been asked the very same question by my son. Isn't it nice when people respond to emails.....


I've just emailed Virginia Ironside to tell her how much I'm enjoying her book - I've told her about my blog so I hope if she visits, she'll leave a comment - wouldn't that be exciting!

I went to the dentist's.  The heavy-handed manly woman who was my dentist has left and now I'm in the hands of a very pleasant 26 year-old boy who has a much gentler touch. I'm not sure what he must make of me though. After having half my face numbed he invited me to "please rinse" . I followed his instructions and then spat all the mouthwash over the floor - I had no control over my mouth at all. I couldn't even form the words to apologise, so I said nothing. It was like something from Little Britain.

When I first sat down it was all I could do to stop myself laughing out loud. The chair (more like a bed)started tipping backwards - and didn't stop. I was absolutely certain that I was going to slide off, bang my head and do a backward somersault before landing in a heap on the floor.