FOUR FINGERS AND THIRTEEN TOES – MORPHING
The last couple of months have been rather hectic to say the least, and there has been an awful lot of morphing going on in our house.
It all started with preparations for the Thalidomide Society 50th Anniversary AGM which was held in March, and at which we were able to celebrate the achievements of the Society and look back at a momentous period of time which saw the organisation go from a small group of parents who came together with the aim of supporting each other through our early childhood, into a body that is well able to represent its members at national and international forums concerned with those who have missing limbs due to various conditions. However, at the core of these celebrations was an acknowledgement that the Society’s history is rich with many diverse characters and personalities, that have helped shape what it does today.
The weekend celebrations culminated in a gala dinner-dance (complete with “jivers” sporting missing bits of all descriptions) which was themed as a murder-mystery evening filled with gangsters and molls. Now to convert into a moll, all we girls need is a bit of red lipstick, a string of fake pearls, a rather dubious looking feather for the hair and a dress with a plunging neckline. Fortunately, all of these items I was able to locate without too much difficulty. No comments about the red lippy or the plunging neckline please … we girls of Irish origin do have to keep the Celtic end up! For my dashing son, morphing into anything remotely resembling Michael Corleone didn’t involve too much trouble, but the conundrum facing us was … what we do with a rather portly husband who left dressing up behind when he left the Wendy house in reception class at Primary school. The problem was compounded by the fact that Steve had been asked to take part in the periphery of the murder mystery by posing as the head of a Chicago mafia family, pitting himself head to head with our good friend Eddie Freeman and his family. Undaunted, and determined to do justice to his debut into the world of murder-mystery, we raided the wardrobe and found just the outfit … A dinner suit, which yes, surprise surprise still fitted, a 1930’s style wing-collar dress shirt, a black bow tie (and self tie at that!), a trilby hat and a rather dapper looking buttonhole in the shape of a red rose (get the connection) which we cannibalised from one of my hair scrunchies from way back in the days when I sported outsized hair bands and bobbles. The 1980’s have so much to answer for!
With the whole ensemble being topped off with a silver walking cane, he really did look the part … So much so that if they ever need to digitally re-master the original Godfather, then I have no doubt that we’ll be packing our bags and heading off to Hollywood!
Now, as you know, I’ve done a bit of acting over the last couple of years, but I had no idea I had a challenger for the title of champion thespian in our family. But rise to the challenge Steve really did. His Chicago accent was a combination of New York Bronx and Forrest Gump with a bit of South Wales Valleys mixed in for good measure. He and Eddie made a grand job of running rings around the paid actors, but somehow, I don’t think they will be invited to join the troupe on a permanent basis.
However, at the end of the day, I think we did a good job of “glamming” up and it was fun, flamboyant and fabulous!
Having found myself in danger of being usurped on the acting front, it was a good job I was able to do a bit of morphing myself, into a student painter with the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists. Since June last year, I have been busying myself and brushing up (excuse the pun!) on my painting skills, and was delighted to have been accepted as a Student of the Organisation, shortly after “Don Simmioni” had made his acting debut. And so between keeping the business ticking along, I now find myself whiling away the hours in front of an easel, from which I have produced a number paintings, with varying degrees of success. However, on the whole, the painting disasters have been far outweighed by the finished pieces which I have been able to submit.
Of course, alongside all of this, has been our need to morph into parents of a nearly adult. And that is not an easy task. How we managed to survive James’s A’ level revision is anyone’s guess, and so to the next morphing episode. Steve has always had a leaning towards being a teacher. I think it may run in the blood, but the law beckoned as a career, and I can’t help thinking that his downfall on the teaching front would have been patience. It may have something to do with taking a horse to water and trying to make it drink, but despite extolling the virtues of revision notes, which would have made the final revision “push” a little bit easier, this worthy suggestion seemed to fall on deaf ears. On a couple of occasions over the last couple of months, I’ve gone out for a pleasant evening with my sisters, only to wonder whether there would be blood on the walls when I returned home. Fortunately, my fears were allayed. Instead I would return home to find a wearisome hubby sitting in front of the telly, with a son who had retired to his room and was engrossed in a Skype conversation with a certain young lady which said conversations (quite understandably) occupy more minutes than Steve has hairs on the top of his head!
It was only the day of the last exam, that I found myself morphing into a blubbering wreck, rather like the one I was fourteen years ago, when we said goodbye to the staff at Acorns Nursery, and Mummy’s “brave little soldier” set off for life in the new world of “big school.” Now Mummy’s boisterous, rowdy, and messy teenager was leaving “big school” and getting ready for the new world of University.
This is where our skills of morphing now have to be imparted into the next generation of Moriarty-Simmonds’. Having secured a part-time job just before Christmas last year, we had hoped that James would have grasped the nettle on budgeting … Wrong! One of the big issues at the moment is fashion, which seems to come at an astronomical price. My most recent duty as the mother of a sixth form school leaver was to spend an afternoon in town, only I must add, to supply the credit card, to buy a new suit for the sixth form prom. The afternoon was great. Rather like old times. We had lunch, mulled over the fun times that flagged up with both of us … For example, the time James and a couple of his school friends were made to sit outside the primary school Headteacher’s office, as they had proudly announced they were going to make a fire by rubbing twigs together – That obviously wasn’t a good idea, but how on earth the playground supervisor thought they were going to morph into the next Bear Grylls, with just a couple of damp twigs from the privet hedge that bordered the playground is beyond me. Then there was the school sports day when James insisted on folding up his clothes before moving onto the next stage of the obstacle race, only to trundle over the finish line, about 10 minutes after the winner, wearing the biggest and broadest smile you could ever wish to see. This was topped off with a reminisce about the primary school proms, which were about as tuneful as the Worzels and the Wombles put together.
How Steve (and his Mum for that matter) weren’t ejected from the concerts is a mystery to this day, for laughing uncontrollably at the string section of the orchestra which sounded more like a collection of alleycats on a promise!
However I digress, back to the shopping expedition. The suit was bought, and having arrived home, Steve needed a stiff drink when he realised he would have to morph into a male escort to pay the bill. The fashion show commenced, and I looked on with more than a little bit of pride, knowing that the bundle which had brought me so much joy when he was born, was parading before me in a grown up suit, and was about to become an adult, and make his own way in the world.
But of course, before those dizzy heights could be scaled, there was a small matter of mastering the washing machine. And there was only one person who was suitably qualified to impart the virtues of separating whites, blacks and colours. Who I ask was this person? Yes, it was none other than good old Stephen.
However, I have to tell you that before he earned his stripes on the washing front, there were a number of mishaps that have left me emotionally scarred. To explain, I have to take you back to a galaxy far, far away. Well, actually, to a time about 25 years ago. In those days, it is fair to say that Steve’s choice of underwear colour was (shall we say) a little sartorially challenged. To be precise – brown and cream, and purple and white! Now, I shan’t take it any further than that, but needless to say, as soon as I was able, I did all I could to morph him from that strange land of psychedelic underwear. Sadly, it was not before he managed to turn everything in one particular wash a rather fetching shade of pink, including shirt, which, once white, was proudly worn as pink for many months; and believe it or not, there wasn’t a tell-tale blotch in sight.
Fortunately, Steve is a fast learner, and quickly learned the importance of not mixing colours. This art was mastered to such an extent that by the time James got to High School, there was only one kid in the class that stood out on the walk home from school. The 60 degree wash, produced such brilliant results that Steve was moved one day to say how proud he was of James … And of course, you now know that I’m not talking about classroom achievements (although there were many of those that Steve was rightly proud of) but rather how the whiter than white shirt was born as a badge of honour to someone who had learned the hard way that clothes washing is a skill in itself!
So, with two loads of washing successfully completed, and with James having a reasonable degree of competence in the kitchen, the only skill which remains unconquered is the budgeting. I guess the next morphing session will be into that of a financial advisor. Whether Steve will finally learn the art of patience, or if he will simply give up and change the PIN number on the bank account remains to be seen. All I hope is we crack that one before the 15th August when the results come out, and my brave little soldier will trundle … not into the Wendy House, but into the Halls of Residence, with a packet of Persil and the words of his Dad ringing in his ears … “Whites, colours and black”
At that stage, Steve can move onto his next morphing act, which is to conjure up lots of things for me to do from September. After all, there are only so many paintings that you can paint in a month, and, come Fresher’s week, the house will be really quiet, with no one to shout at to turn off the lights, or to remind them to flush the loo, or scream at to get them out of bed.
Ah well, long may this summer holiday last, because even though I think we’ve cracked the morphing from being parents of a child, and then into parents of a teenager, and now into a nearly adult … I’d like to hang onto my “Mumsyness” for just a couple more weeks.
Still I think this quote is a really nice way to end this blog:
“There isn’t a child who hasn’t gone out into the brave new world who eventually doesn’t return to the old homestead carrying a bundle of dirty clothes.” ~ Art Buchwald
Fingers crossed for the 15th August, and for everyone else waiting for exam results this summer. Good luck and God speed – Remember to tell them to separate their washing and don’t, under any circumstance buy purple and white underwear!