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

Friday, 14 October 2011


After the Bob Dylan let-down I hardly dared hope that One Man Two Guvnors would be as good as all the reviews had claimed - but it was. It was the funniest thing we'd seen, possibly ever. It got off to a bit of a slow start and as usual other audience members were falling off their seats at things we couldn't raise a giggle at. I began to despair. However, pretty quickly it turned into a real old-fashioned slapstick farce with a waiter like Mrs Overall on Acorn Antiques almost stealing the show. There was ad-libbing with the audience and James Corden was just brilliant.

I'm sure Oscar will keep the laughter going when he comes to play today

.....someone has already taught Hugo his first party trick

Tuesday, 11 October 2011


Yes, he's 70 and allowances have to be made, but if you take £75 a ticket from fans and then don't even say hello and add insult to injury by raspingly shouting song words into a microphone battling with an over-loud band you shouldn't be surprised by a review giving one star out of five - which unfortunately, I saw in the paper after buying the tickets.
This was a prime example of ripping fans off in a blatant attempt to feather his pension nest. I only recognised two songs because everything he sang sounded the same - rasping, shouting, with loud music. And "Don't Think Twice" was three-quarters of the way through before I latched on to the fact that that was what he was "singing". I felt particularly sorry for the people in the seats opposite ours because for almost the whole show, Dylan had his back to them while playing the keyboard behing two giant speakers. He refused to have close-up screens and his hat completely hid his face. So it could even have been someone of 5ft 2ins in cuban heels impersonating him for all we knew. Plenty of wine and beer was swilling around the MEN and some old-timers were jigging around appreciatively but this morning I bet they can't remember why.
Mark Knopfler was the support act and Dire Straits were my all-time favourite band so I had high hopes. But I just don't like his new stuff. He got the biggest cheer of the night when, almost as an afterthought at the end of his slot,  he treated us to "So Far Away" - one of only two Dire Straits songs he managed to fit in. 

So my message to self is - don't try to recapture your youth. It just has the opposite effect.

Sunday, 9 October 2011


I've always, always wanted a telescope. Stars and planets fascinate me so when an old school friend decided to have a clear out and was selling her husband's remote control model, I jumped at it. It's now all set up and pointing the right way. When I first got it home I knew nothing about viewfinders or lenses and was looking through the wrong bit of the telescope with it pointing at a door. I told my husband that I thought we must have broken it during the journey between my friend's house and ours. He is much less technically-minded than me so when he said he thought it was facing the wrong way I sent him off to golf with a flea in his ear. However, just before giving up completely, I turned the telescope round - lo and behold I could see our neighbour's chimney pot. So now all I need is a clear night. I just hope our neighbours don't watch Spooks or I might get a call from our local bobby.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011


We don't often see our younger son. He lives and works in London so when he and his girlfriend visit, my shopping trolley overflows, I spend the previous week baking and working out menus and we try to make sure they enjoy their stay. This time I poisoned him.
Knowing that belly pork is one of his favourites, I bought the biggest piece I could lay my hands on and left it in the oven for a whole afternoon. The skin was crisp and the meat delicious. He loved it. So as they left to drive back to London on Sunday I packed a bag with plenty of food including the delicious pork. The journey home took them six hours, thanks to the baking heat and the traffic. Starving by that time, our son tucked into the pork. Food poisoning took hold at 7am and continued throughout his busy working day and into the evening when he had his first lectures at Birkbeck College for his Masters degree. I think it'll be a long time before belly pork re-enters his list of top-ten favourite foods and it will be even longer before I forgive myself.

Monday, 3 October 2011


We love to trade on the fact that our younger son went to Cambridge by going each year to the Alumni Weekend. For two days we get a little taster of what university life was like, going to lectures and mixing with very clever people. It's a real treat. This year we were played sounds from the universe by one lecturer who had raised the frequency of the sounds given off by the sun and various planets and meteor showers. The normal frequencies are much too low for human ears to pick up, which is just as well or we'd all have to shout to be heard against the sound of the sun rumbling away in the background. Another talk was entitled "Are Your Genes to Blame When Your Jeans Don't Fit?" and surprisingly (to me anyway) they could be. Apparently a deficiency of something called leptin can make people put on huge amounts of weight. All interesting stuff and the best bit is that we can sit and listen and it doesn't matter one jot if we forget it all afterwards - no-one is going to test us!

David Starkey was a controversial speaker - talking about his biography of Henry VIII - praising him and telling us how misunderstood he has been over the centuries. All the while I couldn't help remembering all the beautiful monastreries that we've visited which are in ruins thanks to that 'wonderful' king.

Our younger son celebrated his 28th birthday on the same day that Oscar celebrated his third. Family celebrations were put on hold until this weekend when everyone was together. Oscar loved the dinosaur egg that his uncle gave him but was desperate to find out if the baby dinosaur that would emerge when the egg was submerged in water, would be real. In fact dinosaurs made up the birthday theme with jigsaws, sticker books, rubber models and story books among his presents. And when I stood on the bitrthday boy's doorstep holding the train cake that I'd made, a crestfallen Oscar said "But I wanted a dinosaur cake". I had to remind him that three weeks ago when the cake was being discussed Thomas the Tank was flavour of the day.

It reminded me of the television programme Outnumbered when Oscar was whizzing around on his new motorized quad bike. After doing a perfect three point turn on the pavement and running over my toes in the process, Oscar then swung his machine into his front path with his dad shouting: "stop now Oscar, stop Oscar...STOP" as Oscar careered up the front step and straight into the hall.

Quad bike and dinosaur helmet - of course.


While waiting on the phone to speak to my internet service provider this morning and being told that the advisors were too busy to take my call, I stripped three beds with the phone wedged under my chin, re-made them, hung the washing on the line, emptied and restacked the dishwasher, made a coffee, completed two of today's sudokus and then managed to solve the problem I was calling about.