I am reviewing the situation by Emily Smart
Actually, I’m reviewing my recent visit to the UK, but I happened to be watching the film Oliver exclamation mark yesterday afternoon, so hence the title. The mother-in-law bought the DVD recently for the kids. For some reason I know all the songs in Oliver! I spent my day off ‘Oompah pah –ing’ and ‘As long as he needs me – ing’ whilst the kids were glued to the box. I couldn’t think for the life of me why I knew all the words, and then I remembered: Oliver! was on the television every year – without fail – at Christmas when I was growing up. Watching it now, I realised what a wholly unsuitable family film it is. There’s wife beating (sorry, Nancy is not Bill Sykes’ wife but a whore), there’s child abuse, there’s murder, there’s an old man living with children teaching them how to pick a pocket or two, there’s the seedy underbelly of London way back when everyone had a dodgy Dick Van Dyke Cock-er-ney accent. And then there’s the most un-PC caricature of a Jewish man – tight as a nun’s chuff – who makes Topol in Fiddler on the Roof look positively Catholic!
Needless to say my kids love it. I had to leave the room when the original tart with a heart, Nancy, got “what was comin’ to ‘er.” My lot don’t understand why there’s an intermission in the film (yes, even on DVD they have a break so you can run and put the kettle on).
One thing I never quite understood was the miscasting of Mark Lester in the lead role. The kid couldn’t act, and frankly, I would have left him in the workhouse rather than adopt him had I been the rich uncle ‘gent’. To say that he was upstaged by the wonderful acting from Jack Wild as the Artful Dodger would be something of an understatement. If it was one hour shorter, and without the title character actually in it, what a fantastic film it would be. While I’m ranting, I also hate that song ‘Who will buy’. It’s shit.
Dos and don’ts when leaving NZ
Anyway, back to my recent sojourn in the Motherland. As I’ve now taken up most of this blog talking about a 1968 film that would probably have had Dickens spinning in his grave, I will simply give you my list of dos and don’ts when travelling to the UK from New Zealand with three kids under ten and a partner on a mission from God to “see everything ‘cos we won’t be back for another five years.” Clearly, this might be a rather niche audience I am writing for, but here goes anyway:
- Don’t have high expectations that your family, who haven’t seen you for five years, will actually be delighted to have you home and will be desperate to be nice to you during your stay. As I walked through the door of my parents’ house, my dad said, “Now about that stuff of yours in the loft. Any chance you can sort it out so we can throw it out and make some space?”
- Don’t spend two point five days clearing out shit that you have kept in your parents’ loft for over 30 years when you are jet-lagged to buggery and you have four other people in your immediate family who are jet-lagged to buggery.
- Do know that siblings can be the annoying bastards they were when you were growing up with them. I was greeted by both of my brothers (separately I might add) with, “Fuck, you’re fat.” This was of course a complete revelation to me. How had I not noticed that I was now a size humongous compared with the pre-children birth sister they once knew. Honestly, what with drinking like Oliver Reed and constantly asking for more when it comes to food, along with no exercise and a job which involves me sitting on my mahoosive chuff all day, I have to ask myself, where did all that excess fat appear from?
- Don’t spend all day walking around Legoland Windsor three days after your arrival in the UK and having spent two point five days clearing out the loft at your parents’ house. Yes it was fun, yes the kids loved it, yes it was expensive, and yes the commercialism of it all is really quite disgusting. But for me it was the walking around ALL day that did me in. Bearing in mind that I’m overweight (see above), with very short legs, it’s not surprising that my tiny feet were killing me by five o’clock closing so that saving the obligatory trip to the shop until kicking out time was more than my patience could stand.
- Do take your kids to the Science Museum ‘up west.’ It’s great; educational and fun. We managed to be there at the right time to watch a show about fire, hosted by a pyromaniac as far as I could tell. It was quite unnerving seeing one of my sons on stage wearing a glove and having a fire lit in his hand, but he loved it. The host asked later for another volunteer from the audience. He mentioned rather casually, “I must warn you, you could die.” Every hand belonging to a child in that room shot up. The Science Museum is free (donations welcome), Legoland costs a squillion pounds to get into. As my children would chorus, ‘just saying…’
- Do go to see the musical Matilda. Even though we sat in the Gods wearing oxygen masks it was nothing short of feckin’ brilliant. Two hours of terrific wonderful fun for all the family. I didn’t fall asleep once or even head to the bar at half time. You can’t say that when you’ve been to see The Wiggles in concert!
- Do spend time with lots of great friends who never seem to change from one five year interlude to the next – and I mean that in a good way. I had the best time with some best friends and their kids too. The school reunion was mighty fun as well. There was much kissing, hugging, laughing and being daft. It did take my breasts a few days to recover from all the hands-on attention, but boy was it worth it.
- And finally, do not under any circumstances leave three 21 year old girls (one being your childminder) house/dog/cat sitting whilst you spend three weeks out of the country. Receiving a text from your next door neighbour at four in the morning New Zealand time saying “I’m not sure who’s looking after your house, but they are keeping the entire street awake with their party,” is not something you want to deal with when you’re 12,000 miles from home. I’ll spare you the details, but a valuable lesson has been learnt by all. Still, at least I know where to hire a sound system from next time we have a bash. And more importantly, that on the third visit from noise control, said equipment will be taken away.