Let It Snow!

An imaginary conversation

Mother Nature: Right, it’s nearly May, time for our audit before we roll forward into full-on spring. British Weather, you’re up, where are we?

British Weather [trying to sidle away, unnoticed]: Err, well, err…we had an optimistic start to spring. Lots of sunshine, warmth, things starting to blossom.

Mother Nature: You didn’t get too over-excited, did you? I know how you get a bit premature and run out of enthusiasm and July and August just end up being a bit meh.

British Weather [looks guilty as charged].

Mother Nature: Anything else you need to tell us?

British Weather [mumbles incomprehensibly.]

Mother Nature: Sorry? What was that?

British Weather: Err, I may have forgotten to do winter.

Mother Nature: Again?! You forgot to do winter AGAIN?!?! What have I told you about winter? You’ve got to give ’em winter to make them grateful for the pitiful weather the rest of the year. Jesus Christ, British Weather!

British Weather: Sorry. I just got a bit distracted by all the Christmas parties and everything.

Mother Nature: And what about our supplies? We had too much sleet and snow in reserve as it was.

British Weather: Yeah, err, we might have quite a lot in the store room right now.

Mother Nature: And what do you suggest we do with it?

British Weather: Make gin slushies with it? 

Mother Nature: No! We will not make gin slushies with it!

British Weather: Ok. How about we dump it in the Arctic Circle? Stop those polar ice caps from melting for an extra five minutes.

Mother Nature: No. That won’t do. This is British snow. Giving it to anywhere else will mess up my weather reports.

British Weather: Oh. Ok.

Mother Nature: But I don’t want it sitting on the reports for the spring carry forward. There’s only one thing we can do: we’re going to have to dump it on them now.

All weathers: *Collective gasp*

British Weather: Now? But it’s nearly May!!!

Mother Nature: Exactly! We can’t have this sort of thing going on into spring proper. We have to off-load it now.

British Weather: But it’s just wrong.

Mother Nature: Well, maybe that’ll teach you not to forget in the future.

British Weather: Ok. I’ll do it tonight when everyone’s asleep.

Mother Nature: You will do no such thing. I want people to realise your mistake. You’ll drop it just before the school run. Just out of the blue: a massive hail storm that turns everything white within the minute. Then, the next day, sleet and snow during people’s lunch break. And if you’re still not done, there’s the bank holiday coming up: you can dump the rest then.

British Weather: But that’s not fair!

Mother Nature: Since when was I fair?

British Weather: But people will talk!

Mother Nature: This is Britain – they love to talk about the weather. It’ll be right up their street. It’ll be all over the Internet; they’ll love it.

And so it came to pass: winter weather all over the shop! A blanket of hail that threatened the school run – it’s all that was talked about at the school gates (which made a change from the usual grumblings about homework). Sleet and snow at lunchtime today, enough for people to get excited about the prospect of a Sales v Lettings snowball fight. We start singing ‘oh I wish it could be Christmas every day,’ and post snowy pics to Instagram. Ok, it’s a bit sad to get excited about a flurry, but a) we didn’t get any snow all winter and b) it’s almost May. And c) we’re British!

  
  
Monday is May Day bank holiday. I think I’m going to get the sledge out in preparation! 

A Thank You to Disneyland Paris

I am very well aware that my tone, more often than not, is grumpy. The world is a place full of disappointments and irritations and these things are highlighted all the more against the glossiness of social media.

However, there’s one place these irritations don’t matter: Disneyland! (Well, ok, technically several places, but they’re all presided over by the same mouse and they are all the Happiest Place on Earth, so count as one in my mind. Like the States’ states being the States despite the geographical separateness of Alaska and Hawaii.)

  
Despite a nocturnal hotel evacuation, freezing cold weather and the Ratatouille ride being broken down our last trip was just magical.

We couldn’t possibly hope to repeat such joy. (We’re the Gluestick family after all – lightening would probably strike us twice, but not good luck when venturing outside!) Bur we thought we’d give it a shot anyway.

Things weren’t looking good before we set off. We were driving for a start – a 360 mile each-way trip. Boo gets travel sick in the car, which is bad enough. But then the day we left the car was condemned! How a car that’s barely driven goes from perfectly fine to barely-held together in a year I have no idea (although I Have no clue when it comes to windscreen wipers so that’s no real surprise). I have never driven 720 miles as cautiously before lest anything fell off! But at least Boo didn’t vomit.

But far greater impact was possibly going to be Noodles. It turned out that those supermarket tantrums and health visitor interferences weren’t for nothing: a couple of weeks shy of our Disney trip Noodles was officially diagnosed with autism. Now, a label doesn’t fundamentally change who he is in any way, shape or form. It just changes how we deal with how he is. But suddenly, taking a child who struggles with a) unfamiliarity, b) loud noise, c) other people and d) has an incredibly restricted diet to Disneyland seemed like a very very bad idea.

Except, well, Disney worked its magic again. By the last day I could be found weeping uncontrollably in Fantasylad because it had all been so wonderful. 

And I kicked myself because the loveliness was due to so many people and I wanted to thank them all. I wish I’d got photos or had remembered their names, but it only occurred to me on the last day.

But I do want to thank everyone anyway.

So thank you to the lovely Frenchwoman at the B&B we stayed up on the way down. I’m sorry our French was shocking and that your attempts to engage with Noodles were met with indifference from him. Your hospitality was faultless and your hot chocolate absolutely delicious.

Thank you to the cast member who issued us with a priority pass at City Hall, even though I hadn’t been organised enough to arrange a proper medical certificate for Noodles. That green bit of card saved our sanity and our trip! It meant we finally got to ride Ratatouille this time for a start! A 10-minute wait he could cope with, but there’s no way on Earth we’d have made it through a 2-hour queue. It meant Boo went home happy.

  
Thank you to every cast member who allowed us to access the disabled entrances, even though Noodles looks like a normal child (all be it one whose less willing to accept a friendly wave or high five).

Thank you also for not turning us away as we jumped off and back on again for a second consecutive go. As a British family we felt self-conscious about jumping queues once, let alone twice on the trot. Believe us, it wasn’t our plan to have to go straight back on It’s a Small World, but something about repeatedly watching singing dolls appealed to Noodles’ autistic mind. 

  
With this in mind, a huge thank you to Elsa (the one cast member whose name I did remember – I wonder why that name stuck?!) who on our twelfth (and mercifully final) Small World ride in our five days, got us prime seats at the front of the front boat – all the better for taking in those singing dolls! ‘You’re twelfth go? Aren’t you going a little crazy?’ An emphatic nod (‘but it’s his favourite’) and we were ushered like royalty. It was this that triggered my weeping later on.

  
Also to those running the Disney Railroad who also gave us Noodles’ favourite seats at the back. I’m sorry he appeared to stare at you through the back window for the entire duration of the ride. 

Thank you too to Rapunzel, Flynn Rider, Pocahontas and Adam Smith who would come out to wave to the passing train whenever it didn’t clash with them being on stage in Frontierland. We rode that train almost as much as It’s a Small World and your devotion to repeatedly taking time out didn’t go unnoticed. 

  
Thank you especially to the cast member who recognised us as we pottered about the park. Maybe it was Noodles’ bright yellow mac, but you said hi as we had a second go on the Teacups, then when you were in charge of Alice’s Maze and two days later as you operated It’s a Small World. Being recognised when a meltdown hadn’t been involved was a lovely experience.

  

  
Huge thanks also to various fellow visitors. To the woman waiting for the Railroad train whose teenage son was also clearly autistic. Thank you for being understanding when Noodles wouldn’t let me engage in conversation with you. ‘It’s all right – I understand,’ you said. But there was so much I wanted to say to you. Not least of all thank you for not just thinking we were being rude and Noodles was a spoiled brat.

Thank you to those in the Animagique screening with us who didn’t tut us or tell Noodles to shut up when he cried because he decided he didn’t want to be there as the automatic door shut. It wasn’t a nice noise, but instead you just told him that it would be ok, and indeed it was. A minute or so later he was laughing his head off!

Thank you to the French dad who lifted Boo onto a better vantage point for Disney Dreams. Waiting for the show to start for an hour in the rain wasn’t ideal, but her patience was rewarded thanks to you. The show was magical, even in the wet and Boo appreciated her improved view.

  
Thank you so much to Boo, who happily went along with Noodles’ ride requests (even when it was yet another go on the Small World boats!). Thank you for being endlessly patient and I hope we fulfilled your expectations for the trip too.

  
And thank you to Noodles for the depth of your emotions. Your meltdowns when they happen might be epic, but the joy in your smile and knowing that it’s truly genuinely felt is the best thing ever.

  
The only trouble now is that in comparison to such kindness and brightness reality seems more of a struggle and a bit bleugh. Only one thing for it: we’re going to have to move to Disney! I’m more than happy to dress as Cruella De’Ville as an outlet for my default snarky setting. Not an option? Oh, at the very least plan our next trip. When I’ll remember names and make sure I properly thank everyone.

In the meantime, Disney, we salute you!

  

Happy Birthday, Ma’am

The Queen is 90 today. 

Maybe it’s because a) I’m not an ardent royal watcher or b) Noodles’ choice of YouTube videos results in a media blackout of news, but it’s all just a little underwhelming.

As a nation shouldn’t we all be walking around wearing Union Flag party hats and bow ties? I’ve only seen one person doing so on the streets today.

  
Shouldn’t there be street parties? And bunting? Shouldn’t we all at least have undertaken a mandatory afternoon tea at 4pm with cucumber sandwiches, miniature cakes and pots of Earl Grey?

Either I’ve missed the memo or, most people aren’t all that bothered.

The official portraits are nice, ditto the stamps. Nothing says ‘Happy Birthday, Grandma’ as a line-up of a family who have to wait for each other to die to fulfil the role they’ve been raised to do.

  
Boo got a special badge at Brownies last night to honor the occasion. Nice…but now I’ve got to do sewing.

  

Maybe we’d be more excited if we’d all got a day off, but no. (I suppose the Queen herself hasn’t had a day off either, so maybe it’s fair enough.) We will have the televisual ‘pleasure’ of being able to watch Ant & Dec host a night of all the usual celebrity suspects (ah, look, Katherine Jenkins, there’s a surprise – not!)…in May. It’s only three years since the last celebratory concert, but I suspect ITV could just splice footage from that together in a different order and no one would notice. 
It seems a bit lacklustre from the royal celebrations committee. I’m sure the Queen’s not upset about the lack of river pageant this time, but couldn’t they have shaken it up a bit? 

  
We all loved it when she pretended to parachute into the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony. Maybe she should undertake 90 extreme sport challenges to celebrate each year alive, which could then be broadcast on ITV as a reality series. Or even better, they could have got the whole royal family to take part with an extreme-sport elimination each week! ITV2 could run a behind-the-scenes ‘live reaction’ and we’d end up with a survival-of-the-fittest monarchy. Everyone’s a winner, unless you’re a losing royal.

  
Or it would be like a 21-century version of It’s a Knockout? Yeah, probably best not to wish that on the world again. #nottheroyalsfinesthour

  
And perhaps when you hit 90 and you’re the longest serving monarch it’d just be nice to keep it low key. William and Kate are doing a good job of being a ‘normal’ (if very wealthy and privileged) family. (Their home at Anmer isn’t far away from us and you can’t move for people who’ve got a they’re-so-normal story. Which is lovely, really, especially when it involves Prince George having a toddler strop.) Maybe being unbothered by a rich woman, with unlimited top-of-the-range private medical care making it to 90 is the way to go. 

Perhaps we should have just given Her Majesty a day off from smiling and waving?

  
Maybe we can bear it in mind for her centinary. Give her a day off…and give us a day off too. Maybe then I’ll don a Union Flag hat and watch Katherine Jenkins.

All the same, Happy Birthday, Ma’am.