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

Saturday, 21 August 2010


Perhaps it's something in the water, but first our daughter and then the elder son and his family spent their summer holidays in Berlin. Oscar thoroughly enjoyed the experience

and insisted on trying out ALL available treats

Friday, 13 August 2010


Just back from Stratford where we saw the RSC's production of "The Winter's Tale" . Greg Hicks - who I last saw when he was covered in blood as Coriolanus - took the part of Leontes and was just brilliant.

The play lasted for just over three hours and I found that my knees had become sort of hinged in a very uncomfortable position - I even found myself worrying about DVT (I hope that's not rude).

We saw some of the meteorite shower on the way back to the hotel after the performance but although I really wanted to stay out and see more, I'd looked up for so long that I'd developed a crick in my neck - is this what getting old is all about - hinged knees, dvt and a cricked neck?

This morning at breakfast I was just about to place a slice of bread on the hotel's toasting contraption, using the tongs provided when a girl of about 11 raced up, manhandled the white cloths covering the loaves and started grabbing pieces of bread - desperate to get her slices onto the toaster before I could get mine on. I told her mother that there were tongs available if she'd care to wait for a split second. "Oh we don't bother about that, it's only us who'll be eating it," she barked. Judging by the number of slices that the girl had her hands all over - I doubt that - but who knows.

We'd just sat down to enjoy our  first-past-the-post toast when a father, dressed in shorts and flip flops (Stratford in the rain) stood up, bent over his table so that his face was two inches from his son's (son about seven) and started berating him for some crime to humanity in an exceptionally loud and booming voice. "We had all this in London, why won't you listen, it shows that you have no fidelity, no thoughtfulness, no sincerity...." etc...etc....etc for ten full minutes. I looked at the family - the little wife was shrinking in her seat, the white-faced son wanted the floor to swallow him up and the man's mother didn't know where to look. It was like something from The Fast Show, except it was extremely unfunny. Just when we felt it was safe to get stuck into the now cold toast, he started again: "YOU DO UNDERSTAND WHY I'VE TAKEN THIS ACTION AND SPOKEN LIKE THIS,"  he bellowed. For pity's sake leave the poor child alone and give us all a break I wanted to shout. I had chronic indigestion all morning. Hinged knees, dvt, cricked neck and indigestion - are these holidays worth it?

Tuesday, 3 August 2010


We've lived with a fireplace we didn't like ever since we moved in 30 years ago and last month we finally did something about it. So for weeks now the house has been upside down, with workmen here, there and everywhere because a new fireplace meant new wallpaper and a new carpet. Yesterday the carpet (lounge, diningroom, hall, stairs and landing) was removed so last night the only available space to sit in was a two-square yard space in the conservatory, wedged between furniture from all the other rooms. In a funny old way it was quite nice not having to check the television listings to see how the BBC was going to entertain us. We read the papers, drank coffee and watched the sun sink in the West. Now we await our new bouncy underlay and carpet and after it's fitted shoes will be left in the porch and coffee consumed in the kitchen only.

It was really lovely at the weekend. We had an entire family gathering and the artist son set up his tripod and camera and we all smiled for 20 shots. Here's one of them....



Oscar has been to his first gig - "In the Night Garden" in Sefton Park, followed by a party where he swept one young lady off her feet after showing her his moves on the dance floor.


But when it was time to go home, Bernard was his companion of choice.


Anybody out there? It's been so long since I added a post to this blog that I'd forgotten my user details. It's not really that nothing's been happening, more that it's all been pretty run-of-the-mill stuff.

There have been a couple of personal highlights - a letter in the Times followed by my piece being used in that paper's "You the Editor" column, although their description of me as "retired journalist" made me sound older than I feel (I didn't say look).

A relative has just had a big birthday and I was stumped when it came to thinking of a gift. However,  I saw that Christies was going to be holding the Althorp Attic Sale at the beginning of July - perfect timing and the birthday girl LOVES anything to do with Diana's family. As soon as I saw the Telegraph supplement about the sale in May I registered to bid online (a lengthy procedure during which I was asked if I would be bidding more than £30k - I hardly dared admit what my upper limit was.). I bought the catalogue, listed 50 possibilities and on July 7th I was in front of my laptop at 9.30am ready for the sale to start at 10. A webcam picture showed me the auctioneer's podium and lots of to-ing and fro-ing around it. Ten o'clock came and went and I shouted to my husband, who was in the loft: "You'd think they'd start on time wouldn't you" at that point my laptop went black with lots of warnings on the screen - it was dead. Nightmare and Absolute Panic! I ran round the house - my husband's laptop is only used to coping with instructions from an elderly silver surfer and gave up the ghost at the first attempt. My ancient computer was in a huff - after all, I'd deserted it months ago for a second-hand laptop. I had to go back to the warning notices and the black screen. I know not how but by as if my magic I got the auction room back and they were onto lot 16. YES, the very item I knew my relative would adore was just about to be shown. The bidding went up and then stopped - still shaking from the "on-off" episode, I pressed "bid now" . "an online bid from Southport" the auctioneer shouted (how exciting!). A rotter in the stalls outbid me and the auctioneer was on his "for the third time" when the devil got into me and I pressed the button again. The rotter knew he was beaten and I GOT IT. I don't often run round and round the house (except when my laptop freezes) but I did then - round and round and round and round. I rang everyone I could think of, I even dialled the number of the relative it was for, until I remembered. I just couldn't believe that I had won this exquisite item. When I calmed down, three days later it struck me that the item was at Christies and I was in Southport. I enquired about transport - £100 and a courier with a van would be used.  I have a wealth of experience of couriers with vans. There was nothing else for it, I had to go and get it. I felt like a secret agent on the day I whizzed down to London and back on the train. I was totally amazed when I had the item in my hand - so sure was I that something had to go wrong. I left Liverpool at 10am and I was back on Lime Street station at 3.30.  So the gift has now been given and the story told.