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

Sunday, 28 August 2011


We saw quite a bit of our two little grandsons last week. Hugo came for his first solo visit and spent three hours chuckling, sleeping and guzzling milk.

I was lucky enough to win BBC studio tickets to see Mr Tumble at the BBC's new Media City complex at Salford. And on Saturday we went with Oscar. It was a slightly surreal experience overall, what with Mr Tumble yelling (quite nastily) at the crowd that he couldn't help the torrential rain that we were all standing in while he was on a covered stage and Oscar yelling in reply "It's behind you..." because he thought he was at a pantomime. I reckon Oscar was happier with his ice lolly and two balloons than he was with the man himself.

On Sunday I went with Oscar and his mummy to a family church service. I explained to him that the kneeling cushions which were hanging on the pews had been embroidered and were for people to kneel on during prayers. The minute the vicar said: "Let us pray" Oscar shouted "it's a prayer" and set to work, unhooking the cushion, throwing it down and kneeling on the reverse side. He really enjoyed banging a tambourine during the hymns (how church services have changed. I use the word 'hymn' very loosely, these versions were more like pop songs and sung from a digital screen, not a hymn book) and was tested to the limit when he had to keep his drum stick away from his drum during a ten-minute sermon. The truth will out though and Oscar's sermon verdict was "this isn't very good". Actually it was all about keeping our integrity and how we shouldn't go shoplifting with friends just to remain popular (I don't think I have those sorts of friends) - as we filed through to the porch to shake the vicar's hand, I realised that I still had one of the children's books from the church toy box, under my arm. Perehaps the sermon had been directed solely at me!


Bill Nighy and Michael Gambon - my top two favourite actors ever. I'd looked forward to last night's screenplay "Page Eight" ever since watching the trailer. WHAT AN ENORMOUS LET-DOWN. The script was like something from a junior school play. Michael Gambon just about carried it off  but then he was carried off - a third of the way through. I watched until the end in the hope that things must get better but they didn't. Not one believable character, a pathetic plot with no tension and Bill Nighy was absolutely wooden. It was the worst thing I'd watched in a very, very long time. I'll look out for the next thing written by David Hare and avoid it like the plague.

Why didn't he run from the script?

Monday, 22 August 2011


I found some old adverts the other day. From that golden era pre-political correctness / health and safety and human rights.


Oscar went to Knowsley Safari Park yesterday and met a lady with face paints. She asked him what he'd like to look like. "A worm" he replied. That must have been a first because she admitted that she couldn't do a worm. Next choice was a butterfly which his mummy reckoned was a bit effeminate so Oscar was given the choice of a moth or a tiger - well, which would you choose?

Sunday, 21 August 2011


Just after the riots I was listening on the car radio to a debate on the causes . I expected the usual soft soap, probably talk of how these thugs had been abused in childhood and almost certainly a hundred reasons why they should be excused. I was ready to shout my reply and change channels when on came a soft-spoken Irishman who I'm pretty sure was reading from a script that I'd written in my mind. Common sense from someone who had worked with disaffected youngsters. Since then I have read that other people were also listening to Winston Smith  (obviously not his real name, but since he still works with miscreants it's not in his best interests to be identifiable) while driving and had to pull over to take in what they were hearing.
When I got home I Googled him and bought his book. "Generation F" should be compulsory reading for every politician. The hand-out system in this country is an absolute disgrace and I really object to money I have paid in taxes being used to pander to the whims of no-gooders. If you haven't read it, I recommend it wholeheartedly. It's an eye-opener.


Am I the only person who wouldn't fancy a course in crashing while learning to drive......?

I've just spotted a new photo in amongst Oscar's daddy's Picasa albums - either Oscar has very generously given his life-long companion to Hugo, or I see trouble ahead!


If, at gunpoint, I was forced to choose just one area as my favourite in the whole world, it would have to be the Yorkshire Dales. When we're there - as we were this week - I want to swirl round and round like Maria in The Sound of Music and just absorb all the beauty.

We found a perfect little retreat in the grounds of a 16th century manor house and when we drove up to the cottage every evening three lovely dogs would come bounding across the sweeping lawns to greet us. We were surrounded by plum, apple and pear trees and there was honeysuckle round the doorway. And all for £40 a night!

As soon as we got back we went with Oscar to the Southport Flower Show - beautiful weather this year, which is almost unheard of. Not much fun for a two-year old though, when all he could see were people's knees.

His mummy and daddy bought him a quad bike as an early birthday present.

But only after he had sampled everything with four wheels in Toys R Us


Friday, 12 August 2011


Today Oscar was playing with a torch and I've absolutely no idea how I delved into the deep recesses of my ancient mind to recall Torchy the Battery Boy - a programme I must have watched when I was knee-high to something or other. Isn't the internet fantastic. Within two minutes I had a black and white episode playing on my computer and Oscar was transfixed. He sat still for almost half an hour and when I asked him half way through, if he'd had enough he didn't hear me. He even watched as the credits rolled at the end. I love this sort of thing - children enjoying good old-fashioned innocent entertainment.

He also loves baking with his mummy and daddy

long may he stay the way he is now!


Our old pink bathroom suite finally gave up the ghost. It was time to look for a new one. I'd become a bit rusty on bathrooms and silly me for thinking that I could just walk into our local bath and basin supplier and buy another pink suite. PINK? was the response I got. It seems the world has gone boring and everyone wants white. "WHITE?, no thanks" was my response. So our new white suite was installed yesterday. I have to say that it didn't look that big in the showroom. My husband says that when he looks into the wash hand basin he gets vertigo and Oscar and Hugo's dad has asked if he could use it for Hugo's christening. Anyway it's not going back because I've decided it's a very happy room now, when anyone walks in, they can't stop laughing.

Following on from Oscar's comments about my wrinkles and his dad's about the bags under my eyes, I asked Oscar today if he knew what ankles were. He pointed to his knees. So I rolled up my trouser leg to show him what ankles were. "You've got VERY big ones" he laughed. I suppose I asked for that.

Our daughter and friend have just returned from a scorching week in Sorrento. Being football fanatics they decided to go and see Sorrento play one evening and went the whole hog, buying a Sorrento football shirt each. They described how they strode down the road to the ground, full of pride wearing their new strip. They said they were getting some strange looks on the way in and presumed it was because they were plainly not locals. As they took their front-row seats they looked around expecting to see all the other supporters dressed like them. Slowly it dawned on them that their shirts were quite different from everyone else's - but why? After and hour and a half of sliding down in their seats and taking up the foetal position they left, anxious to know just what shirts they had been sporting. Apparently Sorrento has two teams - the one that was playing, and another rival team five divisions lower,  yes. you've guessed it!

Our daughter's friend told us that she knows a mum who has told her little boy that the ice cream van only plays a tune when it's run out of ice cream! Ingenious.

Saturday, 6 August 2011


At 9am today I was waiting for Superdrug to open. I wanted a tube of the latest wrinkle disguiser. The reason? - While having his dinner at our house last night, two-year-old Oscar fixed his eyes on one particular part of my face, but politely said nothing until I asked him what he was looking at. "What's that?" he asked. "What's what?" I countered. "that" said Oscar. I asked him to point to whatever it was that had so caught his attention. He plainly didn't want to touch "that" but indicated the area under my right eye. Not being able to see the offensive part of my face myself, I told him that it must be a beauty spot and that grandma had lots of beauty spots because she was very beautiful (I hope this wasn't relayed to my daughter-in-law). After he'd been ferried home I took a long look in the mirror. No, it wasn't a beauty spot, in fact I couldn't really see anything out of the ordinary. I repeated the conversation to my son - Oscar's daddy -  and he reassuringly said that he must have meant the bags under my eyes. If my bags and wrinkles are so noticeable that they're worthy of comment by a two-year-old then something has to be done. Superdrug's £9.99 Optimum serum has certainly got its work cut out.

Meanwhile, Hugo wouldn't yet know a wrinkle if he saw one.