Saturday, 13 October 2007

Someone trying to tell me something?

Let me tell you about Monday last week.

My supervisor has advised me to attend some undergraduate lectures and I'm not complaining. I need all the help I can get.

Enrolment at college the previous week had been fairly disastrous. Inopportune power cuts, awkward registrars, a MASSIVE queue to get library cards and a supervisor running late meant I had to go into London twice. On both days I ended up having to pelt hell-for-leather to catch a train home to collect the kids, only to be late anyway - even more insulting, on one of the days, I actually made it to Waterloo on time, only to find the trains had been delayed due to a security scare. The odds seemed stacked against me.

This week I was determined to get all done in good time with no panicky rush. The lecture was at 10am so I left home early. I was well prepared. I'd set up my bike chain so it didn't keep falling off as it had done the previous week (meaning that I'd arrived at the train station covered in bike grease and sweating profusely). I got to station in good time to find a train waiting on my platform and trotted over the footbridge to catch it.

That's about as far as my luck went though. The train was packed and loads of passengers were still waiting out on the platform. The train seemed in no hurry to move off and I was just debating whether to squeeze on this one or wait for the next when the tannoy told me that a passenger had been taken ill and they were waiting for an ambulance. I scanned my timetable. I could still get there in time, as long as the train went in the next 20 minutes.

We finally left 30 minutes later and proceeded at an agonisingly slow pace. Every watch-check I made, meant I had to recalculate how long I had got before things became really strained time-wise. And it was increasingly close - down to the wire again - so I ended up having to run like a maniac up and down escalators, between underground platforms and on and off tube trains.

By the time I got to King's Cross it was 2 minutes to 10. So I ran up the hill to the building where the lecture was, burst into the room only 1 minute late, bright red in the face and severely out of breath.

Anti-climactically, the room was completely empty. There was no notice or explanation; I checked my handout and I was in the right room. I was just about to embark on an internal rant about wasted train fares and pointless stress, when a young girl arrived looking for the same lecture.

Unphased and unhurried, she checked her email on the nearest available computer and found out that the lecture had been moved to another room, in another building - at least 15 minutes walk away. Thank God she was there - not only did she know where to go, but I had someone else to walk in with when we joined the lecture 30 minutes later.

The room was packed and I slunk to the back. With no chair to speak of and not wishing to disrupt the proceedings any further (let alone pay any attention to myself) I kneeled on the floor while I wrote my notes, my knee resting awkwardly on a plug socket. It had to get better than this, I thought.

Lecture over, I decided to sort out stuff in the library. In an unusual rush of efficiency I found two decent books to take out and started to register for online access when the fire alarm went off. I had to leave my books inside and abandon all hopes of getting much done.

I stood on the street amid a chaotic melee of students, a mixture of fellow fire escapees and strident protesters shouting about soldiers in Iraq. I wanted to laugh. So far, every time I'd gone to London, my efforts had been thwarted by a chain of unforeseen and random incidents. It just seemed ridiculous.

"You'll never guess what.... " I said, catching my husband on his mobile. He suggested that 'someone' might be trying to tell me something. Well, if they are, I'm not listening. I prefer to see it all as just a test of my resolve.

Now very briefly to fulfil my tag from Belle

No. of books I own: masses and masses - too many, must take some to charity shop.

Last book I read (non-academic) Zoo Station (cannot remember author, will fill in later) Quite good, simply written. but a bit bland considering the subject matter of ww2 intrique and spying.

Last book I bought: Women at the Center: life in a modern matriarchy by Peggy Reeves Sanday (academic...but on the people I studied for my PhD)

5 meaningful books: Dune by Frank Herbert (blew my young mind), One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (first book I was really affected by), Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie (for the amazing prose which totally impressed me when I was writing up my PhD) and Northern Lights (which got me hooked on the trilogy).

Do I have to tag someone now? not sure whose done it already but at random: mother at large, omega mum and debio. Apologies if you've been tagged on this before.

Sunday, 7 October 2007

Give us a tena

There's a jolly gaggle of 'older' ladies who frequent the ladies' gym club I go to. One of them obviously lives near me as I see her regularly in Sainsbury's and 'down the town'. She's easy enough to spot as she wears great big sunglasses whatever the weather and always has a smile on her face.

The other day she burst into the 'stretching area' just as I was working on my quads, charged up to one of her cronies and blustered: "Guess what! The incontinence lecture is on my birthday!"

'What a great line!' I chortled to myself immediately wanting to share it with others (well, my mum found it amusing) and wondering how I could work it into a blog.

Hat's off to that lady, I say. There's no way I could be so carefree and public about slack bladder control. In fact there's no way that I would pay the £2 to attend the incontinence lecture. That would be admitting that I have a problem with my pelvic floor.

OK, so I can't go on the trampoline, run or go to my gym without a little protection, but it's only at certain times of the month and that's normal isn't it after having two kids?

In my more sanguine moments I do realise that I should have been more diligent about doing my pelvic floor exercises. In ante-natal classes the midwife suggested that we put red dots all over the house and whenever we saw a red dot, we should give it a quick squeeze. "Red dots!" I mocked, joshing merrily with the other mums. "Imagine explaining all those dots in your house to a guest!" But if I hadn't larked about and quipped about silly routines and bossy midwives, perhaps I wouldn't be paying the price now.

Every now and then, I get a bit worried and embark on a pelvic strengthening campaign, but I can never keep it up. Friends in the same boat are full of helpful suggestions. One told me to squeeze it in whenever I run water, another to do it whenever I'm at a set of traffic lights. I've had a go at all of these - plus trying to 'hold it in' mid-flow - but after a day or so, I forget again.

One day I will probably really regret my feebleness (in both senses of the word) and unless I find some full-proof routine which doesn't leave me feeling a complete nana I'm going to have to take out shares in the feminine hygiene industry.