The Baguettes at Nanny Fran’s

The title of this write-up may give you a clue as to the title of the next, but if it hasn’t, don’t worry, by the time you have read the remainder of this essay then I’m sure that it will all make sense.

I need to take you back to the final week or so of school term, so mid-July and give you the conclusion to a number of the events that you read about in the last installment, and no doubt have been waiting with bated breath, so without further ado I will put you out of your misery. Read more

Batman versus coffee table

With the Vernal Equinox occurring only a few days before a full moon it meant that Easter Sunday completed a quartet of important weekends in March.  The first Sunday was Mother’s Day; the second Ezra’s birthday and the third was my birthday.  Therefore it seemed fitting that I squeezed another update in before the end of March.

As implied by the fact that I have mentioned the fact that it is Easter Sunday, the kids (yes, all three of them) have broken up for two weeks from school.  As this marks the end of a term and not the midway break, it also meant that there were end of term reports and parent/ teacher meetings in the penultimate week of the term.

As you may recall from the previous update, Éowyn did not enjoy Ezra’s birthday party as she was running a temperature and complaining of stomach ache.  She woke on the Monday morning still complaining of a stomach ache.  However, as she had not vomited and was no longer running a temperature we decided that she should still go to school.  Nevertheless I did forewarn the school office that she wasn’t particularly well and although I was at work, Lucinda was at home if she did not improve and they wanted to send her home.

Mid-morning Lucinda received the phonecall from the school to say that Éowyn had not improved and would we like to collect her.  So as Lucinda picked Ezra up from his pre-school she also picked up our eldest from hers.  Éowyn’s 100% attendance for the year was no more.  Not great timing for our parents/ teacher meeting was the next day.  I think we call that Murphy’s law.

Lucinda had a full complement of clients the next day but fortunately I was not due in work and therefore I could look after Éowyn and then attend the school meetings later in the day.  Éowyn was still not well when she woke on Tuesday morning, so I suggested that we sat curled up on the sofa (while Mommy attended playgroups with her brood) and watched Star Wars Episode V:  The Empire Strikes Back.

Since watching Star Wars Episode VII:  The Force Awakens just before Christmas, Éowyn, like her father before her, has become obsessed by the Star Wars universe.  Wanting her to watch the films in the ‘correct‘ order I have made her start with Episode IV: A New Hope.  She is therefore now two thirds of the way through the original trilogy with only Episode VI: Return Of The Jedi to go.  What a shame I will have to sit through that with her!

As Tuesday morning was taken up by events from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away; Tuesday afternoon was taken up by events from the near past in a school just down the road: the aforementioned parents/teacher meetings for our Baguettes.  Éowyn was first and it was our first meeting with her new teacher Miss Jetten.  Éowyn’s initial year 2 teacher, Miss Bernath, left at Christmas to move to Australia and with a hand over in December Miss Jetten took charge in January.  Miss Jetten confirmed what we know of Éowyn ourselves, that she is very clever but gets bored easily, she needs to be constantly engaged and challenged.  She rushes her work to be the first to finish which leads to two issues.  The first: in rushing she will make silly mistakes and then not correct herself and, secondly, she then disturbs the other children by talking to them.  Miss Jetten believes that Éowyn will have no problems with the end of Key Stage 1 SATs (Statutory Assessment Tests) at the end of year 2.  Not that I am over concerned about any of my children’s ability to pass exams, that should not be the fixation of education, yet in our world of league tables and an Education Secretary who seems to think that every child should be above average (someone needs to go back to school) they seem to have an inflated importance.  I don’t want my children just to learn how to pass exams.

So, would Amélie have a similar report from her teacher, Miss Snow?  Indubitably!  Indeed Amélie’s report was even more impressive.  She is exceeding expectations in all aspects.  She is top, or near the top, of the class in all subjects and perhaps the only work that Amélie needs to improve on at the moment is her confidence.  Although she is quite confident socially, she doesn’t always demonstrate confidence in her own abilities.  That is something that we can work on.

It is quite nice, as parents, to hear that your children are doing well at school but it is also useful to have pointers to help with their education at home.  Let’s see how their educational path continues as they mature and find new distractions.  When I returned from Amélie’s meeting I let them know what was said and how pleased we were with them and then noticed that Ezra seemed distracted in his own little world and was pretending to be on the telephone.  ‘Who are you on the ‘phone to?‘ I enquired.

Darth Vader,’ came the reply.  So, while our girls are on the road to improving themselves through education, Ezra is going to take the quicker, easier, more seductive route of joining the dark side of the force!

Ezra is still enjoying school, although like his sisters he will not be returning for a fortnight.  It is fortunate that he is not at school as he will have time to recover.  ‘Recover from what?‘ I hear you cry.  Maundy Thursday saw Lucinda with her usual Thursday houseful of children while I was at work.  I was in a meeting when I received a panicked phonecall, Ezra had fallen over and cut his cheek and it would not stop bleeding. I rushed home from work to see Ezra with his Batman costume on, with a still bleeding laceration on his left check and blood not only all over his Batman top but over Lucinda’s top too!  He had been running round, as kids are wont to do, and fell catching the side of his face on the corner of the coffee table.  His cheek had taken the full force of the impact and being quite a deep gash needed medical attention; off to the walk-in clinic we went.

There were not many people in the clinic, thankfully, however it was still an hour before we were seen.  Enough time for Ezra to work his way through the snacks I had taken (his appetite wasn’t diminished!).  The nurse we saw was fantastic and I said to her that I had told Ezra if he was a good boy that he would get a sticker.  She looked at me as if to say, we haven’t got any stickers but would see what they could do.  Ezra, was the perfect patient.  He didn’t cry, scream or move.  He let the nurse clean the wound and manipulate it to see if there was any other damage (like a fractured cheek bone).  He even let her open and close the wound to see what the best course of action was:  glue, stitches or, as was the case, Steristrips (butterfly stitches to you and me).  With no stickers in her little box of tricks she left the room to see if there were any in another room.  I told Ezra I was very proud of how brave he was, when she appeared with a Paw Patrol certificate of bravery!  She also gave him some extra Steristrips and the disposable tweezers that she used to affix the Steristrips.  He was quite pleased with his haul and we headed back home to bed.  He had had enough excitement for one day!

It is with two pieces of sad news that I end today’s write up with the deaths of two members of communities to which we belong.  We began our married life and the children began their lives in a little corner of Stanwell Moor.  The houses in which we lived were set back from the road and thus there is a little community that grew up there.  A big part of that community was our next door neighbour at the time:  Bob.  Bob always knew what was going on and was always there with advise or a kind word or deed.  He made us feel part of the community and has done so for our tenants in the same house since we moved out.  His passing has come as a big shock and our thoughts are with his wife Pat and their family.

The second death this week has probably a greater effect on me and my work family.  Terry Wood, freelance MCR operator and friend, finally lost his battle with cancer of the omentum (an organ I had not heard of until Terry told me of his diagnosis).  Terry came into our lives when he was made redundant from his previous place of employment.  A mutual friend asked me if I needed any freelance MCR operators as he would highly recommend Terry and so I brought him into the fold.  Terry was a larger than life character, he would always have a tale to tell and you never knew if it was going to be a genuine story or a really poor joke.  It didn’t really matter you were enthralled either way.  Terry lived life to the fullest, whether that was just part of his nature or because that he had been diagnosed and defeated cancer of the bowel 11 years previous; the truth was probably somewhere in between.  He loved his family (and we were all his family) but he especially enjoyed doting on his grandchildren and sharing stories and photos of them with us, his work family.  It goes without saying that he was an enormous fan of Arsenal.  He had been brought up around Highbury and his Mom had worked there for many years so working in IMG and Sky’s MCRs was a dream come true for a man who had begun his career on the building sites of London.

It is a testament to the man the number of people who are devastated by his passing.  It goes without saying that his death has had a profound affect on our MCR family and the bookings department that work closely with MCR, but equally his passing has affected the Premier League Production staff that worked with him at weekends.  There has been an enormous outpouring of grief on social media and the photos of Terry that have been shared as tribute to the man have one thing in common: a man in the midst of friends enjoying life.  Every photo has him surrounded by family and friends, usually laughing but definitely looking like you missed out on a good time.  Sleep well Terry, MCR will be a smaller, sadder place without you.

The last six months has been somewhat devastating in terms of loved ones, people I know, friends and relatives of friends and childhood heroes that have passed.  I sincerely hope that 2016 has had enough and the Grim Reaper can take the rest of the year off.

Peace and Love



A trio of wins

Although you have had three updates this month it seems an awful long time since I have given you a detailed summary of life in chez Bagnall.  Let me see if I can put that right.

September has been dominated by the return to term-time routine for Éowyn and the start of full time education for Amélie.  For Éowyn this means a new teacher, in Miss Bernath and a change of campus.  It is also a slightly earlier start and 20 extra minutes at the end of the day.  She still seems to be enjoying school but now there will be more homework.  In addition to the mathletics and reading homework, she will, from next week, have a weekly spelling test.  This is probably her weakness at the moment.  She finds maths relatively easy (or at least the maths that she has at the moment) and her literacy is very good and is always praised for her imaginative writing, however her spelling is awful.  It will be interesting to see how this improves as she receives more spelling homework.

Amélie on the other hand is no longer enjoying school.  That is not exactly true.  She enjoys it when she gets there and speaks fondly of it when she comes home but is getting herself upset when she is thinking about have to go to school.  Indeed in a morning, and on occasion before she goes to bed, she has been crying saying that she doesn’t want to go to school, because she has no friends and it is too small.  It is true that the classroom is smaller than she was used to at pre-school, but I think it is the former that is more the issue.  Amélie is not backward in coming forward in introducing herself to people but most of the class have come through nursery together and so have already formed friendships that Amélie is not party to.  This will take time but we have no doubt that it will happen but it is not easy to see your daughter so upset.

The school have always employed a traffic light system for behaviour.  Everyone starts on green and depending on your behaviour then you can be put on blue, yellow or red depending on how badly you have behaved.  This is good for making the children think about their disruptive behaviour but doesn’t reward children for good behaviour.  There have always been stickers for good work (and both girls have received a number of stickers for good work so far this term) but nothing for good behaviour or sustained good work.  Hence the school has introduced bronze, silver and gold for good behaviour or good work.  I like this and am pleased to let you know that not only have our girls remained on green they have both been awarded bronze level so far this month.

The girls are not the only ones who have received a reward for good work.  As I mentioned earlier this year,  NBC (the Premier League rights holders in the United States won an Emmy in the 36th Sports Emmy Awards for Outstanding Technical Team Studio.  NBC were gracious, not only to recognise the fact that my department assist them in their technological endeavours but to include me and a number of other IMG staff members on the official list of winners.  I was very touched by this kind gesture and NBC had no obligation to include us in their win nevertheless it means that I am an Emmy winner and entitled to say so in perpetuity.  However, just saying it isn’t enough and as an Emmy winner I am entitled to buy a statue, so I did.  This has now arrived and sits with pride of place in the lounge.  It also means that I have become the second person in the world to be the proud owner of an Emmy and a Blockbusters dictionary – Stephen Merchant being the other – a very elite group.

The second weekend in September sees the annual Broadcast convention at the RAI in Amsterdam.  This is the chance for techie people of television to see the new gadgets that will hopefully become industry standard in the coming years.  I flew in on the Friday morning and caught the flight back home on the Saturday evening and the majority of the time in between was filled with meetings.  At many of the stands there were pots in which to put your business cards for draws for various company related prizes.  I usually toss one in and think nothing more about it, and so it was when I threw one into the SIS draw for a Rugby World Cup official ball, signed by the England squad.

Imagine my surprise when I received a call a week later to say that my business card had been drawn and I was the proud winner of the ball, complete with plastic display case.  A fine addition to the Emmy (and Blockbusters dictionary)!  This completes a trio of wins for this year with the trip to Austria that I won in the raffle at the Austrian Embassy at the Eurovision Song send-off party.  An impression triumvirate of prizes that I would swap in a heartbeat for things of more importance.

Since I was away from the familial bosom for an evening it seemed only right and fitting that I should return with pressies, especially since, because my flight was delayed, I had some time to kill at the airport.  A trip to the toy shop and 40 euros later the girls had a ‘Fright-Mare’ each and Ezra a cuddly minion.  Unfortunately my minion knowledge isn’t great so I was unable to definitively pick out his favourite (Bob) from the shop, so just randomly picked one.  I need not of worried for the reaction from Ezra was priceless.  I pulled the minion out the bag and his bright blue eyes lit up and he whispered in awe, ‘A minion for me?‘ took it off me and gave it a big powerful hug and took it to bed – this is highly unusual as Ezra doesn’t usually take toys to bed, unlike his sisters where there is often so many toys in their bed that they can’t stretch out.  Ezra’s reaction was worth the total and indeed it doesn’t matter how much things cost when you get a reaction like that.  The girls were also delighted with their Fright-Mares which took pride of place among their toys.

All their toys, however, pale into insignificance compared to the iPad.  The favoured toys of the early 21 century is a constant feature in the baguettes lives.  They come down downstairs in a morning to play games or watch cartoons via Youtube.  We have drilled into them the importance of looking after such expensive items and they are very good with them.  This is usually because of the fear of dropping them and the screen smashing, we did not realise how they can be used a weapon.

Éowyn was carrying the iPad horizontally and walking downstairs to show the others something that she had found.  Ezra heard Éowyn’s excitement and came running out of the lounge.  Unfortunately the height that Éowyn was carrying a horizontal iPad and the height of Ezra’s eye was equal and the corner of the iPad took a chunk out of Ezra’s cheek just under his eye.  In Éowyn’s defence she was extremely upset and in Ezra’s defence his didn’t really cry despite blood pouring from the wound.  You can see from the photos below that he had a significant injury and it developed into an impressive shiner.  It had healed well but he still has a bit of a scar, hopefully it will fade in time, but nevertheless it will remain an impressive war-wound for future stories.

Ezra is going through a rapid growing phase.  His speech is coming along extremely well and is progressing well with his potty training.  He is always proud of himself when he does something on the potty and wants to show you.  He was particularly proud of his first potty poo.  Unfortunately he was less than impressed with Lucinda when she flushed it down the toilet.  He threw a tantrum (a rare event) bemoaning the loss of his poo.  How could his mother do such a thing?

He is also now refusing to have an afternoon nap on some days.  When he refuse a nap it does have an effect on his behaviour as he is tired and grumpy by the end of the day.  He also used to sleep in each morning.  That is no longer the case and, in addition, to the occasional night visits he will wake at 0600 and want to go downstairs.

He is normally pretty good at going to bed although recently he has been taking advantage of his good relationship with his oldest sister.  We will put him to bed and go downstairs.  You then hear little feet across the landing and then bigger feet in the opposite direction.  Ezra will have gone into Éowyn and Amélie’s room and asked Éowyn to read him a story.  It is not something that we are going to stop.  Éowyn enjoys reading to him and it is good practice for her, Ezra enjoys the stories when she reads them to him and we don’t have to walk up the stairs and tuck him back into bed.  Everyone’s a winner!

Everyone may be a winner in that scenario but if the latest doom and gloom eschatologists are correct then there is not long left for the world!  The latest line in nonsense warnings from people who really need to get out more is that tonight’s lunar eclipse, which will occur as the moon approaches perigee, will herald earthquakes and a rain of fire ushering in the apocalypse.  This is, they say, because it is the last of 4 ‘blood moons’ (because during a lunar eclipse the moon appears reddish) over the last 18 months and we have had a blue moon (see below for a definition) this year.  Amazing scientific reasoning!

They really should do a little research before spouting such balderdash, it is possible to have as many as 7 eclipses (a mixture of solar and lunar) in one year!  Indeed this last happened in 1982 and will happen again in 2038, when 4 of them will be lunar eclipses.  If you are lucky enough to still be around in 2132 there will again be 7 eclipses, 5 of which will be lunar eclipses.  So 4 lunar eclipses in 18 months is nothing to concerned about.  Neither is the fact that we have had a ‘blue moon’.

The definition of a ‘blue moon’ has changed over the latter part of the 20th century.  The original definition of the term ‘blue moon’ came from the fact that the lunar and calendar months are different. Folklore named each of the 12 full moons in a year according to its time of year, therefore the occasional 13th full moon that came too early for its season was called a ‘blue moon’, so the rest of the moons that year retained their customary seasonal names.  Thus the third moon in a four moon season was the ‘blue moon’.  However, with an increasing amount of the population divorced from the farming traditions and reliance on the changing seasons it now has come to mean the second full moon in a calendar month.  This is not as uncommon as one would be lead to believe, a ‘blue moon’ occurs once every 2 years 261 days (or thereabouts) yielding a frequency of 1.16699016 x 10-8 hertz.

I’ve lost you haven’t I?

Let me just say if you are awake at 01:10am tonight and you happen to have clear skies look towards the moon and it should begin to turn red as it finds itself in the Earth’s shadow.  That is it, there will be no earthquakes, fire rain or horsemen of the apocalypse.  However, a blue moon followed by a blood red moon mixed together would make a purple moon, so maybe, just maybe, Prince, the time travelling Maya, with his purply music has saved the Earth once again from the planet Nibiru.  It makes about as much sense.

I will leave you now to have a nose at the photos below and maybe get a nap in so that you can still be awake in the early hours to witness such a beautiful astronomical event.

May I also send congratulations to Matt and Sharon who got married on Saturday, trust that you had a fantastic day and are looking forward to beginning your married life together.

Peace and love