Education Family Personal

Ant and Bee!!!!

Thanks to a thoughtful gift of a family friend, Diana Birchall, we have discovered the joy that is Ant and Bee.


Neighbours, everybody needs good neighbours

There’s nothing like having a homeless person camp out in their car on your street during the winter to find out about strength of your community.

Miscellaneous Personal

Michael From Accident Compensation Department

*Ring Ring!*
*Click pause click*
“Hello this is Michael from Accident Compensation Department, phoning in regards to an accident you or someone in your household has been involved in” 

Education Personal

STEM Ambassador!!!

parentsI applied for the STEM Ambassador scheme  with STEM Team East over the summer so that I may get my Enhanced DBS clearance for volunteering in schools to run Code Clubs and the like.

It’s taken a really long time to come through, but finally there is word that I am cleared to work with children (that are not my own)!

This makes me quite happy.

I’m trying to edge my way into the classroom, and this seems a good path. Volunteer, run code clubs, support learning in the classroom, make horrendous and embarrassing Newly Qualified Teacher mistakes. When I am a professional and get paid I should be a little more assured and skillful.


House Rules

These are the rules for all Mummies living in Mister G’s house. If you cannot adhere to the rules, there will be much complaining, rolling around, crying, and other behaviours that get in the way of Getting Things Done.  So be warned.

Family Personal

Feeding Family

Mister Bubbles is indiscriminate with his eating. Lest I feel overly smug about the amount of veggies and good wholesome things in his diet,  he also chooses cat food or tissues or baby wipes, that he will also eat readily and with enthusiasm.


Mister G Arrives

Mister G is a handsome chap with gappy teeth and an easy smile. He loves balls (get yer mind out of the gutter), in fact it was the most repeated word when he was just starting language. “Baw!” he’d say, pointing at anything round. “BAW!!!”

Personal Pets

Kitty Replacement Therapy

A Box of BaxterFacebook Friends have been inundated over the last few months with status updates of a recent addition to the Claratee Household, a fuzzy kitten-shaped ball of mischief called Penny. Before I annunciate about her charms on this blog I should probably put the memory of another cat companion to rest – it seems most respectful – that of Mr Baxter.

Mr Baxter was a large black long-hair who I adopted in Seattle – my friend Ms Scarlett delighted in labelling him ‘Clara’s huge black pussy’ who she would inquire after on email lists or loudly in public places.  Mr B gave hugs that you would not believe. Yes, a cat who hugged back. Front paws either side of your head, face snuggled up to your ear, purring madly.

Mr B had some *ahem* issues though, which made me consider the benefit to burden ratio of pet ownership. I and my dear friend Cherry Divine shared a house, while our cats shared animosity. In an attempt to enforce their territory and dominance, they would pee liberally around the house. It was unceasing tit-for-tat terrorist urinary warfare.  There was definitely a certain aroma, and a need to suspiciously pat or sniff all surfaces before one sat or lay down. Our washing machine was tasked to clean duvets regularly, in a mixture of vinegar and/or anti cat pee solution. Futons were considered a disposable commodity in our house. Rather like dish cloths, nappies, bin bags. The futon frame in the living room was often empty, its slats exposed like a  sad whale carcass, until we could get a replacement off of freecycle.

We tried a number of different methods to impose order and domestic decorum: expensive pheromone diffusers to calm the nerves, spray bottles full of various liquids, angry punishment, treats with catnip.  To no avail; our boys continued to sneak into each of our rooms during the day, and leave little damp surprises on our beds. I counted five unique spots on my duvet after a weekend away.  I started laying plastic sheeting on my bed. Eventually we just locked our cats in our rooms when we weren’t in the house. It got really desperate.

I was planning to move back to the UK earlier this year, and was rather troubled by the need to rehouse my pissy territorial cat. Black fluffy loving cat who hugs back. Can you detect some ambivalence there? I heard that the number one reason for cats to end up in a shelter is inappropriate indoor peeing. I knew that I would have to be honest with the people that took him in, warn them – “caution: urinary leakage”. “Does not mix well with the feline competition”.

A friend of a friend was eager to provide a home. I had described all the good points of Mr B, but not the bad. I mulled it over for weeks, I don’t know what I was expecting. Perhaps Mr B would learn the error of his ways, miraculously. I knew it would not work out, I could not pass on the burden, I’d have to tell.

What happened was ghastly, but a strange mixed blessing. A few weeks before I was due to leave, Mr B did some late night unplanned gymnastics off of a cat tree, and suffered some serious internal damage, resulting in an enormous and painful blood clot in his bladder. He spent the next week spinning wheels high on morphine, nesting in his cat tray.

Please, will someone take my pissy, broken, elderly cat? He hugs back, if he wasn’t in so much pain.

I got him put down, after deliberation, he died in my arms. My housemate drove me to the emergency surgery in Lake City Way, and hugged me while I cried and cried and cried.

I’ve got some strange mementos from Mr B. I’ve an ultrasound, and some x-rays that might make an interesting but macabre stained glass piece.

I still miss Mr B, sometimes. I miss the sensation of his weight in my lap, his fuzzy belly pressed against me, his paws wrapped around my neck, his face nuzzled in my ear, purring loudly, a delicious comfort after a long horrid day. Penny is too squirrelly and too tiny to do the full-on Baxter hug. Every cat has a ‘thing’ when interacting with their people, hers seems to be shoulder sitting and leg climbing, but who knows what it will be when she is fully grown.

Rest in Peace, Mr B. May there be no cat competition where you are.  May there be ever-full food bowls, laser pointers, and boxes and platforms upon which to sit. May the cat trees be sturdy and hold firm against your considerable weight. May the futons and furnishings be self-cleaning. May there be patient people with open arms and laps and soothing voices. May there be sunbeams cast through windows onto comfortable, deep pile rugs. Rest well, Mr B. Rest well.

Miscellaneous Personal

Day 2 – Part D – The Unexpected 23 Mile Cycle Ride

[June 17th]

graffitiSit in the Fact Cafe being damp for an hour. Speak to work. when I leave my seat I am embarassed to see the plastic darkened in a triangle, looking like I have wet myself. I am sopping wet. It’s been raining HARD, like buckets of water have literally been chucked at me from the sky while cycling. I do not want to go on this ride.

fact-graffitiMy brother Julian always makes me do these crazy things that involve indurance, wetness, mud or pain. I do not like it. I wish he was a normal brother, with normal hobbies. Like fixing vintage cars, films, video games. something that would involve being dry and clean and calm. Not like caving, kayak-freaking-scuba-diving, cycling or politics.

What can I say? 23 miles.


Long way. Bloody good fun.

AND I got to eat fish and chips in the pub.

Art Personal

Day 2 – Part C – Tate Gallery in 20 Minutes

[June 17th]

We find the cycle racks, and lock our bikes, and sloach off dripping into the gallery, and stash our sopping bags and jackets in the lockers. And so begins possibly the quickest visit to a sizable gallery ever, twenty minutes tops.  I’ve got to be on the internet for a call to a client in less than an hour.


The first room is an wall installation of Sol Lewitt, a crazy snakey rainbow of thick swirly lines on the wall.

Upstairs, it was nice seeing some famous and familiar works without the usual stark white walls of the conventional gallery. Each room was a painted a different shade – red, yellow, blue, green – and work from the collection were set where they suited. I think it was curated by Michael Craig Martin.

The floor above was a surprise. Choose from two different channels of thumping disco tracks on a pair of radio headphones. Going through the black curtain flashbacked me to being underage at Cinderella Rockerfeller’s nightclub in Cambridge too early on a Friday night. Lots of space, and some very strange looking people. Mostly middle Eastern taxi drivers between shifts.

The sculptures stand around either awkward, self absorbed, or stare wolfishly at the others.

Degas’ Little Dancer stands on its own, priggishly positioning. Ron Mueck’s Ghost anxiously attempts to shrink her seven foot frame against the wall. Edmier’s Beverly Edmier checks her bulge, with her unborn child inside, considering if she should risk another vodka and orange or just get a taxi back home.

Butler’s Girl on a round base offers herself on a table, craving the attention, feeling everyone’s hungry gaze like fingers on her deliciously prickling skin. Foley’s Joshua Reynolds feels out of place and over-dressed and hot under his thick heavy robes. He’ll never score like that. Maillol’s Three Nymphs flirt and giggle with each other, sneaking glances around the room to see if any of the guys in the room are watching.

The dance floor stands empty, its not the time for dancing yet, too many inhibitions, not enough booze and pills. Only one sculpture is actually dancing, but off to the side, and she doesn’t seem overly concerned with where she is. One lady contorts herself into a chair, while Lucas’ Pauline Bunny seems to melt into one.

Anyway, I thought “awkward small town nightclub early on a Friday night” when I saw the exhibition. Most of the sculptures seemed to be about the frailty and imperfection of the body, the awkwardness of occupying space, next to examples of the longed-for perfection and the god-like ideal.

My brother’s friend Diana, who I met a few hours later, said that she had a completely different experience of the exhibition. She thought it was all marvelous and even had a dance when she went in.

I really enjoyed it, whatever the actual intention of the curation and disco accompanyment. It was interesting to see sculpture like this.