Rhythm and blues
One sure way to calm George is to stick your finger in his mouth - press it to the top of his pallette - he'll suck on it forever even though he knows he's not going to get any milk from it. sometimes he doesn't even suck - just keeping the finger there is enough. This will calm him almost instantly almost all the time. If it doesn't work, then you can be pretty sure that nothing will.
However, there are other ways to calm him. George loves music. His tastes are quite eclectic, but he generally prefers light rhythmic music rather than heavy rock. That makes Christmas music absolutely ideal for him and probably explains why he's so happy right now (although we're going to assume it's the good company and friendlyness). if you can stomach it, play him jamiraquai.... If George grows up being a fan of jazz, I'll be mortified!
He also relaxes with rocking and patting and I think this is part of the same need. In fact he loves anything rhythmic and repetitive. people say this is to do with the heartbeat heard in the womb, but I think it's more than that. I think there's something in the human make-up that loves - and even depends on rhythm in all its forms.
From the pleasure of music to the need to wake and sleep and eat in a regular way to the reassurance of seeing familiar faces (in real life and on TV) to the patterns of the seasons. From the repetitive beat of a techno track to the traditions that last centuries, everything comes back to rhythms. With them we know how to plan, how to think, how to live our lives. Without them, we quickly loose control of everything.
Maybe it's that once a pattern of behaviour or a habbit is set up, we don't need to think about it - we can free our minds to think further ahead. but it also works the other way - making us set in our ways and preventing us from thinking in new ways...
anyway, George loves rhythm just like the rest of us... He also loves lights - and will stare at them, entranced - Perhaps he's half moth...
The mulled wine party
today was our annual (another tradition being established - another rhythm being laid down) mulled wine and mince pies do.
It all went very well - with lots of different groups of friends getting on and even talking freely with each other. It was either a very grown up party or a very childish one. Grown up because nobody was throwing up or snorting anything - and the following day wasn't taken up with clearing away beer cans full of fag ends. Childish because there were children and babies everywhere. 10 or more at a time - and all of them being passed from adult to adult so that the affair ended up a little like a massive game of pass the parcel.
There was a lovely surprise for us from Barry who brought over a CD full of pictures from our wedding. he's a really good photographer and it was unexpected and great to see since our official photographer ran off to South Africa and never gave us our photos!
among my memories of the day: Sam was very impressed to discover that Andy had been a member of the Rah band (although that's probably the least impressive of Andy's many pop music credits! Pietro bizzarely came up with a plan to take his idea of producing false teeth for babies to Dragon's Den, and laura turned up with a very popular selection of home made sweets..
We asked Gillian to become one of George's Guardians - and she was delighted (even tearful) saying that she'd take the job very seriously and always be there for us when we needed her. Actually we already knew that - we already knew we could completely depend on her in any situation and she's already shown us that over the years. it's one of the things that made us ask her. She said we could call on her any time of the day or night - but she didn't need to say that. it's the mark of a good friend that you already know you can rely on them... (even if you can't always rely on their being on time!)
Her and Sam (his other guardian) will be sure to look after George well - not just guiding him through the difficulties of life, but also ensuring that he knows that there are many other ways to live, think and feel than following the predictable set of patterns and rhythms thrown at us every day by the established world.
One thing having a good party does show you is how lucky you are to be able to surround yourself with such good people, and there were plenty of them there today.
The non-alchoholic mulled wine alternative we put on was an alchohol free Wassail - an ancient English brew dating back to the middle ages. I first heard of it last Chrismas when we heard morris dancers singing about it in a pub near Worthing... more of that on Boxing Day when we try to repeat the event in Blackheath...
Anyway, here's the Wassail recipe we followed - and it tasted a lot better than the mulled wine, i thought!
2 litres: Apple juice
1 cup Orange Juice
1 cup Lemon Juice
1 cup Pineapple Juice
lemons and oranges cut into segments
3 sticks Cinnamon
2 teaspoons Whole Cloves
Combine all ingredients. Heat for 1 hour to combine flavors. Of course, all the quanities are rough - when it comes to parties, people generally end up pouring in whatever they bring with them, and the recipe evolves throught the day.
Of course, mulled wine always has to have whole oranges studded with cloves floating in it. I always forget what a horrible job pushing cloves into oranges is so this is a note to myself to not do it next year! you always end up with splinters of cloves under your fingernails. Also, handling spices means that i can't comfort George with my thumb!