South London Photographer: The end of the year and Christmas

I suspect this will my final blog post before the New Year. I can’t quite believe the old year is nearly over – what happened, where did all that time go?

Son No 3 is really no longer a baby – there is no denying it anymore. He had his hair cut this week and he looks like a proper little boy now. His naughtiness levels have shot up exponentially all of the sudden too.

It’s his table manners that are most alarming. Two minutes into any meal he stands up on his chair and holds his arms out to me saying, “I want you”.

“Sit down and eat,” I say.

“I want you!” I eventually give in because despite the fact I am trying to eat and it’s irritating having him on my lap while I do so, it’s more irritating having him standing there wailing and not finishing or even starting his meal.

When I offer him his plate he might push it away or even slap me in the face for daring to suggest something so audacious. I suppose it all makes sense to a two year old.

Son No.2 has an even worse emerging habit. He seems to think it’s very funny to stand up on his chair in the middle of supper and take his trousers down for absolutely no reason. The other boys think it’s too funny, of course. There are times when I would like to pick up the ketchup and squirt it at Son No 2’s face from across the table, but I’m guessing that would just heighten the sense of chaos and the mother is probably meant to resist the urge to join in with general juvenile anarchy.

Currently at mealtimes Son No 3 is really only interested in discussing what he might be getting for Christmas. Oh! There, I’ve said the Christmas word so I guess I ought to say a little more about it now.

I love Christmas. I love the presents, the lights, the food, the mulled wine, the excitement. I love the tree and the smell of old decorations and spices, and the presents – oh yes, I’ve said presents already haven’t I? I really love the table cloth with a Christmas tree on it that my mother digs out each year, which she had as a child and which I remember from my own childhood. I love the bittersweet nostalgia that Christmas brings with it. I really look forward to the drinks and socialising and cheesy Christmas songs that make you feel warm and slightly icky at the same time. But, and it’s a fairly loud BUT, I cannot abide the fact that Christmas starts around about the 27th July thanks to the shops desperately needing us to start spending after whatever event failed to deliver their summer sales numbers. It drives me insane!

So, the boys try often to discuss what they want for Christmas from about the 27th July and I always say, “Not until the 1st December. I will absolutely and categorically NOT discuss Christmas until then, alright!”

“OK, Mum,” they groan.

I tried that line last week on about the 7th December and Son No 1 looked at me like I was an imbecile.

”You’re going to have to face it, Mum,” he said, “It’s December and Christmas has arrived!”

Tomorrow we will head out to buy our tree and I’ll drink some mulled wine while we (I) decorate it and listen to those cheesy songs (I’ve got a very well worn CD of them), although this is the first year where Son No 1 is so vocal about his musical likes and dislikes so I’m not sure how they will go down. Nope, I do know.  He’ll hate them and try to insist on something much cooler.

I can’t help wondering how the boys will behave at Christmas lunch this year. The “I want you” phrase two minutes in after I’ve been cooking for hours is not going to go down well with me and if Son No 2 drops his trousers again I might force him to sit through the Queen’s speech. Son No 3 will hardly eat and be desperate to get back online for something or other, I’m sure. And my mother may have had a little too much wine. These are the realities of my life!

In any event, Christmas for me is about wrapping up time as the year comes to an end. And when it is wrapped, and has been transformed into the gifts that we give the people we like and love, we say good-bye to all that has past and make space for the new. Present giving is a universal and important human activity that cements and reaffirms relationships, family and otherwise. So, however you celebrate the festive period, I hope you and yours have a wonderful time and I’ll see you again in the New Year. xx

None of my recent jobs are either ready or appropriate for here so I’ve posted these lovely doggies waiting patiently this week. Shooting into the sun is always tricky and I’m not sure how I feel about it but I like this anyway. I’m sure and do hope these hounds will be spoiled rotten at Christmas lunch.

©Sarah-Jane Field


South London Photographer: A magical blue chair and a story about some mice…

We’ve got mice.   I tried to convince myself we didn’t but the slightly subliminal darts across the floor are becoming too hard to ignore and the other day I knew the time had come to open up the grey envelope filled with traps which was delivered some time ago. The thing is I didn’t want to come downstairs in the morning and see their little dead bodies, certainly not before breakfast. I needn’t have worried though because those mice are probably just laughing at my incompetence. Following advice from a friend who had the same problem I dutifully popped some pet food on the little spikes one evening because she swore this was the only thing they went for. And the next morning I came downstairs and the cheeky buggers had eaten the food and not set off the traps.

My oldest friend and general adviser in life says the only way to keep mice at bay in these old Victorian buildings is to have cats. We actually had a visiting tabby recently. I was sitting here, as I do, writing my blog when there was a loud crash from the kitchen. I checked it out and noticed something had fallen from the windowsill. Assuming it must have just been the wind or something I went back to work. About 10 minutes later a very insistent “miaow” gave me the fright of my life and I turned round to see a beautiful cat sitting on the wooden chest that houses our vast collection of Thomas and his Friends paraphernalia. As lovely as he was I of course took him down to the garden below and told him to go home. Now, what with the mice and all, I kinda wish I’d invited him to stay for a bit longer, but as far as I remember kidnapping someone else’s cat even for the best of reasons isn’t ideal. And he most certainly had a label on his collar so I couldn’t even have pretended he didn’t belong elsewhere.

And then there’s the problem of my little dog Poppy. Being the Jack Russell/Border Terrier with more than a smattering of Paterdale that she is, she’s rather partial to small fluffy animals and has to go out and about looking a little like Hannibal Lecter, so I’m not sure a cat would last that long with her around. (Don’t they say that the dogs we own are reflective of us in some way? I’m sure I don’t need a muzzle but perhaps I’m blissfully unaware of that side of myself!) Unfortunately, she doesn’t catch the mice but instead sit and stares at the floorboards, whining for hours on end when she knows they are there.

So, getting a cat is a bit tricky, but then cats are funny creatures anyway, aren’t they. They sit on your lap purring loudly and then for no reason at all start repeatedly and rhythmically plunging their claws into your thigh! When you kindly put them down (or throw them off in alarm) they very haughtily saunter away with tails and superiority complexes high in the air as if it were you who started the painful poking.

Son No 2 has asked for a kitten for Christmas though. Mercifully the ex husband said, “As if I would buy a live animal without asking first…” Phew! That’s a relief then.

The thought of any more animals to add to the mix of small boys, mice, a dog and then this imaginary cat as well, begins to sends my crazy hair just a little crazier. I mean, why not get a couple of birds in here too? Actually, come to think of it, we have had those in the house. One instance was the morning after I found out my father had died and a pigeon very bizarrely crashed through the window in the front room leaving a cartoon-like, open-winged-bird-shaped hole in the glass.

“Now don’t go thinking that’s your dead dad visiting!” said Mr X.

“Course not,” I replied although as the poor slightly lame thing was set free I couldn’t help thinking “Bye, Dad!”   The crazy hair was no doubt and quite understandably completely bonkers that day.

Who knows how I’ll eventually deal with the mice… sure it will get sorted soon. Somehow!

I have too much editing to do now so best stop blathering on about the various animals (two-leggers and four-leggers) in my life. Just a photograph of a chair this week. I was working at a corporate party recently and in between snapping photographs of workers dressed up in their finest drinking champagne, I couldn’t help but find moments of magic and mystery.



Image ©Sarah-Jane Field