my new manifesto for life!

Photo journal: Just the two of us

I’m going to have to disagree with De la Soul, three is not really a magic number. It’s hard to please three people, one is invariably left out and, let’s not kid ourselves, one usually gets the shitty end of the stick. Now, I don’t really mind if that’s me (martyr moment, tosses hair dramatically, stares mournfully but bravely into middle distance) but it’s bloody hard work if it’s one of your kids.  And an age difference makes it all the more difficult. So, I’ve been trying to find the middle ground for our tiny team of three, and very often that is to divide, and well, conquer, I guess.

So I’m working on the things we can do together – so far that’s pile-on’s on my bed (me squashed on the bottom because A and L are way stronger than me), dances to Beyonce and eating crisps and watching the telly (#mumoftheyear).  But, much more successful right now is spending quality time with my lovelies on their own, and it’s made our time together as a three way smoother.

So, Amber has embraced my love of thrift/vintage shopping.  She used to stand outside the shop complaining of the smell and telling me loudly that ‘someone probably died in that coat!’ But her love of 80s/90s sportswear – which thrift shops are full of now – has turned her head, big time.  We’ve discovered a kilo shop – £15 per kilo of clothes, no limit, no minimum and it’s wet your pants exciting.  Our recent haul comprised of t-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies (“mum, look ‘1997 league’ – that’s ANCIENT! Having it”) and joy of all joys of all joys in my life, a 60s Lee Cooper denim jacket – unworn, stiff as a board denim, still with the cardboard pocket tags, so definitely unworn, with, and wait for it – my god damn star sign EMBROIDERED ON THE BACK. IN GOLD.  It’s hard to mooch around the likes of Urban Outfitters afterwards and see the same sweatshirts you’ve just bought for a couple of quid for £65-£70.  So Amber is my buddy and we’re seeking out all these cool places to kick around. I’ll get her to the big flea markets in France yet, you watch me.

Lil is not so formulaic, so I took her to Pedlars and Cerys Matthews’ Good Life Experience festival in Wales at the weekend.  Her first proper festival. In honesty I wanted Amber to come too, but she took one look at the line-up and said she’d be more offended if I took her, rather than left her out.  Fair enough. So off we went, no arguments roadtrip playlist downloaded to sing to and DJ Lil switching Goldfrapp and Joni and White Denim like a pro.

I thought it would be a great, small(ish) festival to tackle alone with a child. Plenty of stuff for Lil to do but enough for me too.  Caught by the River were there, I knew their stage would be great.  I’ve had their newsletter each Friday afternoon for more years than I can recall.  An unlikely choice for me – music industry guys from Heavenly records with a love of fishing – but it’s one I have long loved and found a whole wealth of music, books and generally interesting stuff from. They featured gems such as Michael Chapman, a rare treat to hear him talking about Nick Drake and Dylan.  76 years old and working with my mate (haha) Ryley Walker and Thurston Moore, incredible. Amber Arcades, The Orielles, Rozi Plain, Joan Shelley and Jeb Loy Nichols.  I like Jeb’s Jukebox, a feature on the site, a lot.  I can rarely find the tunes he unearths but it’s nice to read such musically passion fuelled words.  We snuck in one song late into his set and got front row seats, it was beautiful.  His buttery Missouri accent, new and old material and a rendition of Tracks of my Tears, I’m unashamed to say that there were a few unexpected tears wiped away.  After the show Lil wanted me to say hi, tell him how great the show was.  This is the kind of festival TGLE is – I said no, I would feel awkward, a guy overheard our conversation and promptly scooped up my arm, “OK, I’ll trade you awkward – I’ve spent the whole gig admiring your hair.  So if I can tell you that to your face, then you can tell a brilliant musician how much you loved his show. Right? Right.”  No come back from that I suppose, so chat we did, and I’m glad we did.

Lil saw her first proper gig – British Sea Power, she got excited because they had their giant polar bear on stage, then she promptly fell asleep.  I love BSP so I was in heaven. I developed a HUGE, oh-my-god-i-can’t-look-at-you, crush on Murray Lachlan Young which I had to hide big time because Lil is in the habit of trying to fix me up with guys right now and I never know when she’s going to strike; err Mr Young, yeah right, I should be so lucky. We learned how to light fires without ignition and made copper sugar skulls and Mexican hearts.  We ate loads, watched Anna Jones and Thomasina Miers cooking on big fire pits, met Cerys, drank smoky bourbon round a campfire (err, me not Lil), got feral looking and met some really, really gorgeous people.  You can’t beat that really.

Lil was truly in her element; running wild, entertaining strangers with her Al Capone (?!) impression, if you know me, you’ll know I can talk for England, but I have NOTHING on my daughter, she just does not stop, and it was just so lovely to see her so confidently yacking away to musicians and chefs, magazine editors, artists, whoever was around, she told Cerys that I dance in the kitchen to her radio show, which is true but a little embarrassing,that’s ma girl. Zero time on a screen, sitting back outside the tent, mug of tea, lost in her new book, pointing out stars to her, getting covered in mud; just being a kid really.  I don’t very often feel like I’m doing a good mum job, but I did this weekend. My heart is full.

And I had an excellent idea on the knackered drive home, Lil snoring, knees muddy, hair wild.  I thought, we’ll find a festival that Amber and a friend would want to go to, that I’d want to go to too, I’ll get her the tickets as a Christmas present and we’ll all go together next summer.  So, it is done.  Latitude here we come!  Sweet Jesus, what have I done? Me, two 15 year old girls and a 10 year old.  Maybe four’s the magic number? I’ll tell you next July.

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