Caroline Verdon: Why should the kids have all the fun?

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This week Ant and I spent an hour at Chartist Court residential home in Morley and I can hand on heart say it’s one of the most fun things we’ve ever done.

When I told my mum she presumed we went to help make teas and coffees but the truth was far better. We went to paint resident’s faces and I cannot remember the time I laughed as much with a group of strangers. Afterall, why should the kids have all the fun?

It all came about because Ant decided he wanted a second job on the side and for whatever reason thought that face-painting was the way to go. He’d never painted anyone’s face before but “you know, how hard could it be” he announced brazenly.

In truth, pretty hard! I’ve tried it and I’m quite rubbish but in true supportive friend form I bought him all the kit including brushes and sponges and even a little book on how to do the most popular requests. I even lent him my face on Friday and I have to say, he actually did a pretty impressive job of turning me into a tiger. Obviously I returned the favour and turned him into a dog. That’s true friendship right?

Ant’s plan was to put together a portfolio of examples that he could paint and then to start advertising his skills at children’s parties but we had a call from Julie in Guiseley who had a better idea. She worked at Chartist Court and suggested that her residents would be completely up for being turned into all manner of creatures and invited us to one of their coffee mornings so on Monday we turned up, armed, unsure, nervous but absolutely ready for whatever was going to happen.

Whatever we expected, we never expected to have as much pure fun as we did. When we walked into the lounge we were welcomed with open arms – a little stall had been set up with a few chairs and so we got out our kit and got down to business. My first task was the hardest – Helen wanted to be turned into a rabbit and I’ll be honest, it was challenging but she seemed happy with the result (granted she did have to explain to people what she was supposed to be). Then there was Alan who wanted to be turned into a pirate complete with eye patch, scar, beard and bandana. It was at this point that I had a weird out of body experience. As I was painting a curly moustache onto his face I took a look around and saw everyone laughing and joking and being completely up for anything and thought that it was something I could learn a lot from.

Life’s short but it’s amazing how many times I’ve not done things for fear of looking silly, regardless of how fun or funny it would be. Perhaps just saying yes to new experiences is the way to go? And what about those experiences we used to love as kids – jumping in muddy puddles, climbing trees, eating pudding for tea. Why do we stop? Why are we so worried about what other people think all the time when it’s to the detriment of ourselves?

Ant painted his way through raindows and butterflies and flowers and he finished off with Joe. Joe was 93 and had never had his face painted before and decided he wanted to be painted up as a tiger. Ant absolutely went for it with the orange base and white fluffy chin before adding in black whiskers for effect. Joe looked absolutely magnificent – the best face by far. We asked him what he thought of his first experience of having his face painted and he described it as “alright” before looking in the mirror and laughing.

On Tuesday we were talking about it on air and Julie called us again. Unbeknownst to us, the residents all had plans after we left – some had food shopping to do, others had trips to the post office planned. “So how long did the face paint last after we left, not even an hour then?” we asked. “Oh no”, she replied, “they wore it all day! Joe even went as a tiger to the bank!”. Brilliant. That’s living life to the full. Forget about all of the other new year’s nonsensical resolutions that we set, “be more Joe” is my new motto!

Dog’s funeral cost £4,000

When my time comes, leave me out for the bin men. Funerals are seemingly chuffing expensive.

I’m lucky that I’ve not had to organise one but from everything I’ve read, from the fact that there are companies that exist that allow you to pre-pay for one leads me to believe that they aren’t cheap.

When my time comes I want any money spent on an afternoon tea and bubbles for everyone alongside the odd pint and perhaps a cheeky gin.

I don’t want an expensive coffin or to have to pay for a plot or even to have a headstone that people then feel guilty for never visiting. I want none of that.

Once the donor services have taken whatever it is they’re after, I’m honestly happy to be left to medical science or chucked in a skip. Whatever is cheaper.

It is perhaps, this view on funerals that led me to look aghast at an article doing the rounds this week on a woman who spent £4000 on her dog’s funeral.

Champion was collected from the vets in a horse drawn carriage covered in lillies and various wreaths spelling out his name, he was driven along the road that he often took his walks before being laid to rest.

It was at this point that a load of doves were released from a basket. Each to their own and all that but £4k? Mind blown!

Oh fabulous darling!

I’m a bit of a fan of online shopping. I’m one of those people who order several hundreds of pounds worth of clothes in one go just so I can try them all on, pick my favourite and then send all bar that one back.

A delivery arrived on Sunday and I tried on a dress and went into the lounge and asked my husband what he thought.

As he muttered things like “yeah” and “if you like it” from the other side of the room came the bellowing voice of my three-year-old.

I thought he was knee deep in puzzles but I was wrong. “Oh you look fabulous darling” he exclaimed with all the passion of a panto dame. I’m not sure I’ve ever laughed so hard.

I have no idea where he’s learnt that phrase, or where he learnt the exaggerated hand movements that went with it but now he won’t stop saying it so I did the sensible thing – recorded it and saved it as my ringtone.

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