Holiday time has gone once again, Summer has left earlier than usual (to my dismay), and I’m back to my normal life – if you can call normal this frenzy of recordings, castings, a devised show that starts rehearsals in 2 weeks and opens in 3 weeks, and, as usual, trips to Milan to do my dubbing.

So on a strangely sunny day I’m back on Easyjet, en route for Linate, after surviving a chest bug that forced me in bed for 5 days and a Tube strike that ground London to a halt for 48 hours.

(by the way, I like using the expression “grind to a halt”. It reminds me of my first year in London. I was a lodger in a house whose owner was a single dad, Tucker, who had a Czech au pair, Patricia, who had a series of Czech au pair friends. Patricia’s room was tiny but I remember sitting there with her and Veronika – a chubby, shy girl with a great smile and blue eyes – helping them to revise for their English test. And I remember this particular page of their book where the expression “grind to a halt” was pictured: a huge bus braking furiously at a traffic light, a line of cars and trucks queing behind it. Veronika kept getting it wrong, and Patricia and I were repeating the sentence lika a mantra: grind to a halt, grind to a halt…. It was such a strange time in my life… I was living off a suitcase, in a room that I was supposed to clear out every time Tucker had guests. I remember that in the same vocabulary section, Veronika’s book has also the word hedgehog…. I wonder who’s the renowned linguistic professor who decided that hedgehog was a fundamental word to learn for any foreigner seeking excellence in the English language…)

Anyway, back to the strike: while the whole of London ground to a halt, appunto, I actually managed to go travel to Waterloo and back without the smallest hiccup. Why? Thanks to the dear, sweet NORTHERN LINE. My old, usually unreliable, delayed prone black line was the only line that keep going, like one of those old donkeys trasnporting loads up and down a mountain, slow but certain…. And not only the Northern Line was running but because of stations being understaffed thanks to the strike, it only stopped at big hubs, skipping small stations such as Mornington Crescent or Goodge street. The result was an “Express” train that sped through London like a flash.
Which re-enforced and idea I’ve always had: why can’t London copy Paris and New York and introduce Fast tracks? Lots of people travel to main stations on their commute. If there were trains that only stopped at big hubs, they could be used by people in a hurry, who can’t miss their train. Everyone else, students, tourists, people travelling home to the suburbs would board the normal trains stopping everywhere.
Is it science fiction?

The plane is air-bourne now. And it’s boiling. I have a question: who decides when people need air con instead of heating and viceversa? I mean, 2 weeks ago the MAXIMUM temperature in london was 24 degrees (as it has been for most of the summer) and on the Easyjet plane the air con was switched on full blast and the cabin was FREEZING.
Today the temperature is 22 and the HEATING is on and the cabin is BOILING. Now, there’s obviously some stupid regulations establishing that any temperature under 22 C falls under “winter season – in need of heating” and any temperature over 22 C under “summer season – in need of cooling.” But can’t we just use some COMMON SENSE? First of all, we’re flying in mid-air, so the actual season/temperature on the ground shouldn’t really matter. The plane has to be somehow conditioned so that human beings can survive.
Personally, I think the temperature in the air craft should kind of match the way people are dressed, really. If it’s fairly warm outside, people would be wearing light clothes so having freezing cold air blown in would only cause colds. If it’s cold, people would be wearing jumpers so having the heating at 30 C would make people sweat.
And at our present time, when everyone goes on about saving energy, why can’t we stop this stupid air con business in countries that don’t need it at all? Italy needs air con in summer, because it’s so hot outside. England doesn’t, except in the Tube (where there isn’t,of course) and in the frozen department of supermarkets. But no, you walk into Starbucks on Oxford street, with 23 C outside and it’s like arriving at the North Pole.

Of course I can hear your reaction: don’t go to Starbucks NOR to Oxford Street.

You have a point.

Going back to funny English expressions… Has any of my bilingual readers ever laughed at how the Brits (and the Americans I assume) use the expression “al fresco”?
In their naive minds they think it’s posh Italian way to indicate eating outside. Pity in Italian “being al fresco” means actually being IN JAIL!!!!! Oh yes, my dear Anglo-Saxon friends, every time a waiter says “would you like to be al fresco” he’s in fact politely asking whether you’d like to be emprisonned. Funny that!!!

Right, behind me there’s a family with about 34 kids. Okay, okay,I’m joking, they have about3 kids but it feels like 34….
I’ve been really torn about touching the subject “CHILDREN” because I’m running the risk of having all my married-with-children friends hating me for the rest of my life… However….
On top of Fast tracks on the Northern Line, couldn’t the God of transports also devise…. ADULTS ONLY FLIGHTS???

I should probably suggest the idea to Ryanair. They’re certainly up for snatching a new chance to make money! If people are happy to pay for priority boarding, online check-in and extra luggage, don’t you think lots of child-less people/business travellers/pensioners/you name it would be more than happy to chip in an extra tenner in order to travel surrounded only by fully grown individuals who won’t start crying for 45 minutes, kick your seat, run along the corridor and occupy the toilets in family groups?
And it’s not the kids that bother me, to be honest. It’s the parents. Parents who treat their kids as if they were the kings of the universe. Parents who think their little ones can’t be left for 5 minutes without being entertained, amused, fed, sung to. How are these children going to cope with life once they’re forced to found out the world doesn’t spin around them?

We’re raising a generation of self-centred inepts who think everything is due to them, that have no respect for the adults because no matter what they do, nobody ever punishes them FOR REAL (have you ever heard a modern mum tell their child off? “Oh no sweety,” they whisper. “You can’t do that.” They sound so mellow, how can a two year old understand he’s actually being reproched? You can’t give a TODDLER a rational, scientific explanation of why a kick directed at somebody’s groin is not socially acceptable. You have to sound angry and give them the message that KICK PEOPLE=NO!!!! And I MEAN NO!!!!)

In order to keep their little ones constantly HAPPY, parents board the plane looking like Afghans refugees, crushed under the weight of humongous bags full of toys, videogames, DVD players, crayons, ipods, enough food to survive in a desert and 15 changes of clothes.

For TWO hours on Easyjet???? Okay, it’s a no-frill airlines, but it’s not Alcatraz!! People are known to get off their planes in good shape!

I dont know about you but I went on holiday when I was little. And my parents didn’t have any of those shananigans. A few pens, if I was lucky, and a book. Now if a parent happens to forget a DVD player it’s like the world is going to end.
When I was little, if I got bored, tough luck! I had to sit up properly and behave. If I started crying or screaming my mum gave me such a look I knew I’d better stop or a smack would come. And guess what, I didn’t grow up in an abusing family. But in the UK try to smack your child lightly on a hand, and they call the police.
In the 70s, you weren’t treated as if the world depended on you, as if your every whims had to be listened to, answered and respected.
If you didn’t like the sandwich yor mum brought, too bad, you had to eat it.

But now it’s like, “oh, Lara’s crying, my God, what can we do, sweety, would you like some chocolate?No? You dont like this brand? Of course, steward, do you have the one with white chocolate? You dont like white chocolate? Oh please don’t cry, would you like some cake? No? Oh, sorry sir, she didnt mean to punch you in the eye, she’s just vivacious, aren’t you darling? Dont kick mummy, little one, how about cheese? Breadstick? Pizza? Trying to attack the toiliet door with dad’s Iphone isn’t nice, honybun. Crisps? Oh, no no no, don’t cry, let’s all sing a song everybody, The Little tiny Rabbit…. No? You don’t like the rabbit? Okay, of course, which song shall we sing? And how about a dance? Now mum will dance for you, never mind this gentleman trying to read, for sure he loves kids, doesnt he? Oh you dont like my dance? How about I ask the air steward to do a summersault while playing the trumpet???”

Honestly, this is not dealing with a child this is being a slave to Caligula. I want 20 virgins executed at sunrise! And whipped cream….

And trust me, I really really like children. I really do. That’s why I’m angry. Because this is doing them a big disservice, because children need boundaries, they need to be taught right from wrong! If necessary they need to be disciplined and punished because this is what’s going to help them becoming adaptable, respectful, realistic, succesful social beings who wont be whining every time things don’t go as they want.

But until the day parents start changing…. I want adults only flights.

AND, what drives me insane is that most companies board families first. They could actually potentially choose where to seat in order not to bother the rest of the world. that is, if they bother being on time. But, and that’s another mystery, most people with children are always late.

When I used to go on holiday my parents knew that it’d take longer to get places with 2 small children so they only plenty of time. In fact, we were constantly EARLY. Hours early!!!! We’d get to train stations and only the cleaners would be there!!!!
But most modern parents have no sense of time at all. It’s against their religion. I have friends who know they’re supposed to leave their house at let’s say midday in order to get a plane, and at 10.30 are still at home doing something totally unrelated to their departure. By11 they start suspecting it’s getting late so they panick and begin to run about, collecting random stuff and accusing their partner of being useless. At 11.30, when you expect them to check everything’s sorted and pack the car, they suddenly remember they haven’t paid their car insurance, or they need to walk the dog, water the plants, send a Christmas card, so they drop everything in order to do that.
“WHAT??” You’d like to shout at them. “ARE YOU MAD??? YOU’RE LATE!!!” (but you can’t say anything, because they are the responsable grown ups with husbands and kids you’re the bohemian actress who knows nothing about family life).
Of course then at midday they’re far from being ready and then the little one needs to be changed because kids always manage to shit at the worng time and the old one is hungry so they have to go and find some snack that of course is hidden at the bottom of their bag.
Result: when they get to the gate, the boarding has almost finished and on cheap airlines, where seats are not assigned, they can’t find 4 seats together.

Therefore what happens? They ask people like ME, who’ve even paid for priority boarding in order to get a decent seat far from the noise where I can read a book in peace, to move in order to accomodate the family!

Because of course any single person in “compulsive parents” Universe is only a selfish bastard who doesn’t know what being tired is like and only care about themselves. Any child-less person over the age of 29 and under 50 is automatically considered a B citizen who’e expected to happily oblige to the needs of the “real” grown ups who have families.

So I end up squeezed in a corner, with Mrs Of-course-I’m-a-full-time-mum-how-could-anyone-think-to-go-back-to-work entertaining not one but TWO children on her lap because God forbid one of them should sit next to their father.
Oh yes, the full time mother HAS to have her children with her all the time, because nobody can nurture them like her. And this is the last thing that drives me nuts about modern time middle class mothers, it’s as if motherhood was not a fact of nature, not a part of life, but some superior state, a nirvana they’ve finally achieved and that needs to be celebrated and glorified. Look at me! I’m a mum! A full time mum! How can anyone be anything else?

Don’t get me wrong, I have the greatest respect for mothers. I think it’s the single, most difficult thing a woman could do in life, the most overwhelming and incredible experience and I truly hope I’m not too late to have a baby myself. But exactly like I’m “alergic” to all exaggerations, to sects, to religious groups, to new age, to anything that defies reason, I’m also truly against this new tendency to see full time motherhood as the pancea for middle class women in their late 30s.

Of course motherhood should be celebreated! But mainly by teaching children to respect their mothers rather than treating them like doormats. By pushing fathers to share in the responsbility and spend more time at home. By not encouraging this new trend I hear all around me wherby people say “oh, why should women be paid while at home being mothers?” As if pregnancy leaves were like a holiday and not a right women had to fight for.

Personally, I’m a firm believer than a woman should have other important things in her life apart from her kids. If you don’t want to work, if you can afford not to work, good for you. But it’s not true that only full time mothers produce happy, well balanced kids. From what I see, in fact, I believe these compulsive mothers would hugely benefit from a break. And possibly their children too.

Most of our mothers stayed at home simply because it was considered normal, and they got on with their being mothers as their mothers and their grandmothers before them. No big deal. They didn’t expect a bright light to surround them and a chorus of angels to start singing alleluja. They didn’t think the rest of the world had to put up with their offsprings’ tantrums. And they didn’t feel superior to their working counterparts.
But today we have some career women who all of a sudden decide to give up or stop everything else in order to be mothers and they treat this new condition of theirs with the same neurotic attitude they used to treat their job with. They must prove they’re the best.
Their children are their gods and the organic guide to macrobiotic motherhood their Gospel…

Okay, I’ve officially turned into a grumpy old spinster.

Hate me if you wish!!!!

I’ve also just landed in Milan so I’d better shut up before I make more damage….



3 thoughts on “BACK TO REALITY

  1. Benche’ mamma a tempo pieno negli ultimi anni della mia vita, condivido pienamente il giudizio sulle mamme a tempo pieno (col cavolo che mi terrei i bambini di fianco in aereo, potendoli mollare al padre e leggere per due ore!!), sui bambini cafoni con genitori compiacenti e schiavi, sulla confusione tra viziare ed educare, sulla temperatura misteriosa degli aerei (non so mai se portare il bikini o la sciarpetta…). Purtroppo, pero’, non posso fare e meno di riconoscermi nella famiglia in ritardo. Una volta ho lasciato la pattumiera sul tavolo e abbiamo dovuto fare dietrofront dopo quindici minuti di taxi gia’ in direzione dell’areporto (Paolo voleva il divorzio…). E comunque nei voli con posti assegnati salgo regolarmente per ultima, anche se le hostess mi sgridano sempre dicendomi che le famiglie sono le prime ad essere imbarcate. Per me le famiglie dovrebbero essere le ultime a salire, per infliggere a se stesse e agli altri passeggeri il minor numero possibile di minuti di bambini urlanti e scalcianti!

    • Mi rassicura che ci siano mamme d’accordo con me e che non sia solo una follia mia! Devo dire che le donne italiane sono un pochino meglio in quanto a insegnare un po’ di disciplina, in Inghilterra ormai la deificazione infantile e’ a livello governativo, se osi alzare la voce con tuo figlio chiamano i servizi sociali, se dai uno scappellotto ti arrestano e naturalmente a scuola guai agli insegnanti che osano minimamente reclamare perche’ gli adorati a otto anni gicoano col cellulare in classe… Questa gente dovrebbe leggere Lord of the Flies…

  2. io non faccio testo… pur viaggiando sempre con figlia al seguito, sono solita dire cose del tipo… sediamoci lontani dalla piccionaia, o speriamo di essere lontani dai mocciosi… se i posti sono assegnati. L’ultima volta, sul volo per le canarie, due bambini seduti dietro di noi hanno mollato puzzette per 5 ore di seguito! No è uno scherzo, siamo scese che eravamo isteriche! (stefano invece dorme sempre, qualunque cosa succeda, lui dorme) le insofferenti siamo noi donne!!!!!

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