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

Saturday, 31 October 2009



What did we find on our doorstep at 8 o'clock last night but a fluffy orange pumpkin in striped wellies, clutching a little black balloon tied to a chopstick! Voices in the background seemed to be demanding a treat or a treat.

Apparently Oscar was feted like a little celebrity as he walked round Liverpool in his Hallowe'en attire and it had taken his mummy and daddy hours to get from one shop to another thanks to crowds of shoppers gathering round shouting oohs and aaahs. 

It was only a few days ago that our 13-month-old grandson took on the guise of a dragon


I can't wait for Christmas .........

Sunday, 25 October 2009



Saturday was manic. We had tickets for a matinee performance of Twelfth Night at Stratford. Only when I booked last year I hadn't realised that this was the first day of half term. The roads were packed and so were the motorway cafes (if I was looking for a new business opportunity I would rent a small space in a service station and use a kettle and a jar of instant coffee and serve mugs at £1 a time - I queued for 25 minutes for  giant paper cups of  too-strong coffee when all we wanted were small cups and we paid £7 for the pleasure).

We arrived at 12, had time for a quick sandwich before the play started at 1.30. Richard Wilson was brilliant as was the entire cast, which also included Hugo from the Vicar of Dibley. Then it was a mad dash home, through torrential rain and black skies so that we wouldn't miss the X Factor.



We saw Michael McIntyre at the MEN last week. I don't understand why comedians who are really hilarious without blue humour have to resort to swearing and crudity as soon as the television cameras aren't on them. By far the funniest bits of his show (and the rest of the 14,000-strong audience thought so too) were the cameos that looked at real-life situations. If he can get laughs like that without smut, why go down the lazy route and trawl out  every swear word and mention every bodily function known to man (especially man).

Monday, 19 October 2009


The London son is in New York for a few days and then will be home for a while before starting his new job as a supply chain consultant. They gave him a good send-off at L'Oreal and I think he's a bit relieved that all the "because you're worth it" jibes are at an end. 

I was looking forward to hearing about the flight and about the apartment he's renting in Times Square so I was excited when I got a text from him - until I read it. "What was the Villa score?" it said. He was using his girlfriend's phone as he can't get a signal on his (ridiculous - I can get a signal in the depths of the Yorkshire Dales so what's New York playing at?). This left me even more disappointed as I was hoping to spot them on the Times Square live webcam, but this can only be achieved with the help of texting.

Yesterday Oscar spent two hours sitting at a little desk, colouring in. He seemed happy for me to sit with my feet up on the settee, enjoying a coffee. Long may it last.

Monday, 12 October 2009


Well, well. If at first you don't succeed...... A couple of weeks ago I sent a letter to the Times regarding train-speak. It wasn't used. So on Saturday I reworded it slightly and sent it in again. Not only did it get my favourite bottom-right position yesterday but it was read out by Sarah Kennedy on her Radio Two breakfast programme. My husband listens to her show on his way to golf and almost crashed the car when he heard my name mentioned. In fact he says that he thought I must have been writing in with a dedication for him (what? After 35 years of marriage, doesn't he know me any better than that!) I got the blame for his worst round of golf ever.

ps I did the listen-again thing to see if I could hear her read my letter out but had to give up - isn't she dire?

I also have to confess that the story really belongs to the London son, who uses Virgin trains a lot more frequently than me.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

bike 41

Oscar has perfected "No" and accompanies it with a shake of his curls. He put it to good use last week after his weigh-in at the clinic when the nurse attempted to pull his trousers up. He even managed to up the "no" a few decibels when she ignored him.



Last year we saw I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue at the Lowry just a few weeks before Humphry Lyttleton died. Last week we saw Jack Dee in the chairman's role at the Southport Theatre. His deadpan wit fitted in well and he's a great choice - he's not Humph - and the evening wasn't as hilarious as the one last year, but very funny nonetheless. There was a kazoo on everyone's seat and the producer made a funny announcement about how a certain percentage of the audience would think that their kazoo wasn't working.

We brought ours home to show Oscar and my husband said his wasn't working. I ignored what I thought was an attempt to get a cheap laugh. But I quickly discovered that he really did think he'd been given a dud. He was blowing into the wrong end and then into the front bit where the noise comes out. Even Oscar grasped the concept almost immediately.



We went to the Lowry the other day to see what was billed as a comedy. "Entertaining Angels" starring Penelope Keith. The scenery was fantastic and so was the acting but as for comedy... there were a few genuinely amusing lines, but as the play progressed they became almost non-existent due to an overload of pathos.  Penelope Keith wailed and flailed within the limits of her emotional range and yet again an audience has to sit through a moralistic play when all we wanted was a few laughs.


My husband found a bargain online when we were looking for new phones. Yesterday he discovered why they were "a bargain". At 4am I was rudely awoken by him leaping out of bed shouting "what the hell's going on?" As he opened the bedroom door I could hear a female voice booming in the hall. "your call will be answered after six rings....answer on.....answer off....answer on....answer off...." I daren't turn the phones off in case my mother rings, so the incessant chatter continued ....and continued, like a torture.

I had a list of jobs to do yesterday, one of which was putting a new fanbelt on the vacuum cleaner. As I was tussling with the belt, screwdriver and machine, getting hotter and hotter all I could hear was "answer on, answer off, answer on, answer off....." The woman inside the phone doesn't know how near she was to being drowned in the bath. Anyway they're now on their way back to the bargain basement - a refund? I'll believe it when I see it.

Our daughter is down in London. Last night she went to the NBA match at the O2 Arena with the London son. She's just sent me a text telling me that her brother had an argument (as is his wont) with a waiter over tap water. I just hope the jug of tap water never appeared because I've heard of waiters spitting (or worse!) into the jug if they don't like the customer.


I have never, ever seen as many geese flying over as there are this year. It's magical - the noise and the huge V shapes...... I like autumn.