Caroline Verdon: ‘My three years of university training came flooding back’

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When I went to university for the first time, I got a degree in Performance Art.

To my parents’ horror it was full on ‘arty-farty’. Both of them worked in education and had hopes of my getting a ‘proper job’ with security and a decent pension but workshops that involved me pretending to be a tree and a final year project that saw me spend 365 days dressed as a giant sperm put an end to that.

It’s fairly common to look at the things we learnt at school and question their relevance in the real world. “When am I ever going to need algebra” is a popular question but for me the answer came in 2007 when I bulk bought a batch of military issue glow sticks for £25 and my friend wanted to buy one box from me. A = £25/10. A=£2.50. That was that ticked off for use in everyday life.

How about “when I am really going to need to know about dinosaurs?” well the answer to that was when I was babysitting for my friend’s daughter who I’m pretty sure at the age of 5 had a degree in paleontology. But when it comes to my degree, when am I ever going to need those characterisation skills that I spent three years honing?

I am proud to report that, 14 years after leaving university, I have finally found the answer. The answer is anywhere my toddler decides to have a meltdown which over the bank holiday weekend included Morrisons, Legoland, the services at J39, Frankie and Benny’s, the Post Office and at any point I attempted to wrestle sun cream onto him.

Take Morrisons in Kirkgate. I was attempting to fill a plastic takeaway bowl with salad when Arthur decided he’d had enough. He wanted the crisps on the shelf and I, being the big bad mum, said no. We were 40 minutes off lunchtime and he actually doesn’t like crisps anyway. He flung himself on the floor, the bottom lip got pushed out and loud sobs began echoing around the supermarket with pauses only so he could let out the odd dramatic “noooooooooooooo”.

Remember your reaction to that scene in The Lion King where Mufasa gets chucked off the cliff into a herd of wildebeest that crush him to death and then his son tries to cuddle into his dead lifeless body? Remember that level of despair you showed whilst watching that, how your heart broke and how you wondered how you’d ever go on let alone how poor Simba would cope? That level of despair was exactly what Arthur was exhibiting. Only his was over a packet of prawn cocktail crisps.

I attempted to pick him up off the floor only he did that thing that all toddlers learn to do where they go limp so actually getting them off the floor is akin to wrestling a large wet sea lion and then when you finally manage it and you start trying to get them into the trolley, rigor mortis sets in and you’ve zero chance of getting their legs to bend into those metal holes of the seat without breaking them.

Suddenly out of nowhere my three years of university training came flooding back. “Do you want to ride in a rocket?” I nonchalantly said. That got his attention. “This rocket is going to the moon” I said whilst pointing to the trolley. Quick as a flash the tears stopped and the rigor mortis ended, as he got straight into his seat. “TO THE MOOOOOOOOOON” he yelled. The next 20 minutes involved me whooshing and whizzing down the aisles saying things like “bread, we’ll need bread in space so we can make a sandwich” and “what do you think Arthur the spaceman would prefer – apples or oranges”. It was a little harder to explain why Mummy would need gin in space too, but not altogether impossible (incase you were wondering, it’s fuel for the engine). At Junction 39 when we went in to pay for petrol, we were the Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf. . During the drive to Legoland we were Chase and Marshall from Paw Patrol heading out on a mission. At Frankie and Benny’s as we waited for our dinner we were on a magic boat that only moved if Arthur pointed and said “TO THE RIVER” and at the post office we were Fire Officers rescuing a family and their menagerie of pets from a burning building. It was an exhausting few days. To save my sanity, if anyone has any more scenario suggestions, please send them my way. I only got a 2:1 and I’m running out of ideas.

Good British seaside fun

My husband and I are off work this week.

Pre-kids, if we had wangled a week off we’d probably have flown away somewhere for a city break. In the past we’ve done Barcelona, Bruges, Paris. But times have changed. This week we’re mainly doing DIY – that list of ‘little jobs’ that need finishing now cover two sides of A4 and the new light fittings that we bought 15 months ago are gathering dust in the garage as we continue to bash our heads on the one at the bottom of the stairs that is far too low.

We need to do things like cut the grass, put up some photos on the wall and sort out that cupboard in the bathroom that contains everything from tape measures to defunct calculators to paracetamol.

We are going away at the weekend though. Not to the vibrancy of Marrakech or to a 5* boutique hotel in Vienna – no, we’re going camping in Scarborough and we’re going to love every second of it! The campsite playground for Arthur to play on before he’s even had his breakfast, the harbour bar ice cream parlour and the boat rides at Peasholm Park.

I just don’t think you can beat it for good clean British seaside fun. We’ve take Arthur every year and it’s become a bit of a tradition – even down to the stop off at Spital Inn and craft centre on route (well worth a visit!) Plus the campsite is £60 for 2 nights with a campervan and you can’t complain about that!

Countdown to Love Island...

Ant’s got the countdown timer on and he’s counting down the days until the launch of Love Island on June 4.

He’s obsessed with it and will watch every episode – if he misses it in the evening he’ll set his alarm clock earlier so he can watch it before work.

Given that his usual alarm clock goes off at 4.30am anyway it shows complete dedication.

Me? I don’t get it. I find it shallow and fake and completely cringe-worthy. I’ve watched maybe an hour’s worth in the past – broken up into 10 minutes chunks and that has been more than enough.

I just can’t relate to it. Maybe it’s because I’m not 20 and a size 6 but it just seems to be a show full of people who are obsessed with how they look, who value skinny over health and personality and who bed hop their way through the series.

I’m going to try and watch it with an open mind this year and perhaps I’ll be surprised?

Caroline Verdon is one half of the breakfast show at Radio Aire. You can hear Caroline and Ant between 6-10am every weekday morning.