Come along for the ride!!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

"Ooh, you're going straight to hell for THAT one!"

About 18 months ago, Joseph and I were having a conversation about Christmas and somehow it turned into a discussion about dying (I’m still not quite sure how).

You can read about that little chat here.

I remember feeling sad that he would worry about that sort of thing at his age. I mean, he was still only 4 years old at that time.

This morning, with my eyes barely open from sleeping, I find myself having another “grown up” talk with him firing questions at me on a topic that I would not have thought he was concerned about at the moment.

"Why do some Mummys and Daddys not live together anymore?"

My eyes miraculously opened quite quickly and M and I gave each other a look.

"Who told you that?" I asked, pretending not to really care. The standard answer of "nobody", came back. Of course, it came back with a smile as Joseph has sussed when he has touched a nerve and has our full attention. The questioning continued.

"When Mummys and Daddys don’t live together anymore, does one child live with the Daddy and another child live with the Mummy?" (his exact words).

He’s not daft of course; you have to be honest.

"Um, no. As far as I understand, the children usually stay together and live with the Mummy or the Daddy". I then went on to explain that it was true that some parents didn’t want to live together anymore. I also explained that he was lucky.


"Because your Mum and Dad love each other so much, that we are all gonna stay together forever".

M and I sat staring at him, his thumb being sucked on furiously, his eyes staring into space, processing the information I had given him. Although we got a smile out of him and he ran off down the landing to play in his room, the wind was pretty much knocked out of our sails.

Again, we thought it was sad that our six-year-old son seemed concerned about things that aren’t even on his (or our) horizon. Playground talk perhaps? Maybe one of his peers is going through a tough time. Or maybe one of the more spiteful little buggers in his class is winding him up?

Either way, just another lesson in life I guess.

Monday, January 26, 2009

"In you I've found a story I want to keep hearing ...."

M and I agreed that from a health point of view, 2009 has been the worst start to a year that we (as a family) have ever had. As you may recall, Annabel has had a nasty bout of chicken pox, a stinking cold and is currently trying to fight off an ear infection.

Joseph has also been in the wars with tonsilitis, the same stinky cold and an ear infection that has left him almost completely deaf in his 'grommet-less' ear.

There is very little however, that a dose of medication and the offer of a hot cross bun can't get around; in this case, getting over not wanting to go to school!!

Anyway, when I got to school/work this morning, I asked some colleagues if it was absolutely necessary that I attend morning assembly to which the reply was a resounding "no".

Fine, I thought; I'll get on with some work then.

By sheer luck, as I was taking Joseph and Annabel to their respective classrooms, I bumped into Josephs' teacher who enquired as to whether or not I would be coming to assembly.

"Erm .... no. I thought I'd pass", I offered sheepishly.

She replied, "It's just that their are some certificates being given out and ....." she looked round conspiratorially before continuing in a whisper, "I think certain people might be getting one!"

The "certain people" was accompanied by her rolling her eyes in Josephs' general direction.

"I'll be there", I announced, not bothering to explain that she needn't whisper as he wouldn't be able to hear her anyway!!

As much as I want to explain to you the military type manoeuvres executed in order to pack the entire school into their tiny hall - it is honestly a sight worth seeing - I will stick to telling you how several names were called out (from the eldest down to the youngest) and, second from last, Joseph name is called.

Two things happened as his name was called out.

Firstly, he looked unsure as to whether his hearing was playing tricks on him or if his name really had been spoken.

Secondly, the children in the upper school (who know me by surname but did not necessarily know I had a son at their school), all looked round at me, murmuring that the boy who had stood up had the same surname as me. "Is it his son?" "nah!!" "Yes, it is" and so on.

I looked straight ahead, keeping an eye on Joseph.

The reason for his certificate?

For "trying extra hard in class and for getting all his work finished on time".

Now this might not sound like much, but let me quickly say; after a slightly wobbly start to the new school year back in September, this certificate shows he has been trying super hard and has settled into his new class and the year ahead.

I looked directly at him standing there, slightly bent forward, looking more than a little embarrassed, playing with the zip on his jacket and giving a half smile to anyone whose eye he caught.

He managed to refrain from looking back at me for ages, for ages, for ages and then, as all the certificate winners were told to sit back down, he flashed a look back at me.

Thankfully I was still looking straight at him, smiling, my heart about to burst with pride!!!

Well done my beautiful son, well done.

A seemingly small achievement but trust me, the world is your ...... your .. erm ..... the world is your .....

Nope, it's gone!!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Painus terribulus

How wonderful!!

As always on a Friday night, the weekend lay before us like a wonderful, stretched out weekendy thing.

Thanks to some essential DIY (and some report writing that M had to get done), the children were spending the night and most of Saturday at my folks, so we found ourselves with the luxury of going out for a meal together.

Thanks to us choosing a rather hip 'n happening postcode, all the restaurants were packed to the rafters. This, combined with a recommendation from a friend, found us settling for fish and chips.

I know, not the most romantic choice in anyone's books but how about if I tell you it was the best piece of fish I have ever eaten from a chippy?

The mushy peas?

The bread and butter?

The freshly made tea?


Well we enjoyed it.

Anyway, on Saturday I managed to get our bedroom wallpapered as I'd hoped and M also did what she needed to do, all within 15 minutes of the children arriving home actually.

Today was complete pandemonium however, with a birthday party to go to at 9am (yes, that's right, NINE am!!), over to my monster-in-law's for a delicious lunch then home just in time for both children to go down with ear-ache.

After Joseph's bath I squirted some antibiotics into his ear (left over from a previous ear infection). I put it into his left ear and he tipped his head to the side to stop it dribbling out. However, he must've had some leftover bathwater in his other ear that tried to trickle out.

He snapped his head upright and announced that the liquid antibiotic had run right through his head and had nearly run out of his other ear!!

Oh how we laughed!!!

On a less funny note, Annabel was in so much pain with her ear, she ended up going to the hospital with M and her Mum.

They're on their way back now.

Poor Bubba!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

"I am not a number - I am a free man!"

Sheesh, it's only a Presidential inauguration for pete's sake. I'm a busy guy!

Look, no picture of my own could possibly get near some of these that I found so for one day only, no picture of mine - just a link to some truly incredible ones.

here to see them.

Welcome, number Forty Four!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

From tiny acorns, mighty oaks doth grow .....

Our very brief conversation at breakfast this morning went something like this.

Joseph: "When I'm seven, I'm gonna be a teenager!"

Me: *laughs while choking on cornflakes*

Thursday, January 15, 2009

"Decoding telegrams in the midst of muffins"

The first of ten classic thrillers, bought for me by the lovely M for Christmas and this was the first of them.

A novel that should be in most people's "must read before I croak it" top 20.

In summary?

A damnably fine yarn, even if it all ends rather abruptly.

Read it.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

"Mad Jack McMad ......"

I know this may be stating the obvious but your school years have a major impact on you, both psychologically and developmentally. As is probably the case for most people, there are one or two teachers from my school years that are forever etched on my mind; thankfully they are memories that promote positive feelings.

If I dig a little deeper however, I can remember the spiteful, nasty pigs that somehow managed to persuade whoever it was that interviewed them at the time, that they would be a perfect choice to be let loose near children and teach them a given subject over the period of 5 years.

I can remember the history teacher (who shared a name with a certain British Prime Minister) who would make the person who answered incorrectly stand on a chair, empty the contents of the waste paper basket onto the floor (this was to be worn upturned on the head of aforementioned pupil), before getting the rest of the class to line up and throw the crumpled pieces of paper at whoever it was standing on the chair.

It was often me.

There was the short dumpy Geography teacher who would tell me to shut up (before I had actually said anything) and to leave the room literally as I was walking into it.

I think the best one though was the husband and wife art teachers (who was, according to herself, a genuine white witch), who had the best punishment of all.

Do you remember those huge 5kg square tubs of powder paint that every art room was stocked with? They had a wide plastic handle to carry them by? Well our mentally unstable art teachers thought it would be a great laugh to remove said plastic handles and replace them with …….. wire.

It wasn’t as thin as fuse wire (so what am I moaning about right?) and it wasn’t as thick as, say, coat hangar wire but it was wire. If you stepped out of line in this class, you had to carry a tub of paint in each hand, by the wire, up and down the length of the entire corridor with the teacher standing at the door and telling you off all the while you were trying not to think of the wire digging deeper and deeper into the creases of your fingers.

Going back a few years more and into primary school, I remember the teacher who, for a reason I cannot explain, terrified me and I did not make it easy for whoever it was that dropped me off at school in the morning. I would scream, hold on to drain pipes, door handles, other people, whatever I could do to not be taken into that teachers room.

I smile at these memories as I climb the short flights of stairs to my new classrooms in my new job. One of the perks of my job (which might not seem much at all to anyone else), is that on occasion, I catch a glimpse of one, if not both, of my children in the playground.

I am usually 3 stories up as I see them but I am lucky to be able to pause and enjoy what I see.

Yesterday I saw Joseph with his classmates during a PE lesson out on the tarmac. He was paired with a friend and they were throwing a football to each other, attempting to catch it. Joseph was roaring with laughter, whether he caught the ball or dropped it, obviously enjoying himself.

Today, Annabel was playing in the little play area dedicated to the nursery children and she too was playing happily, firstly on her own and then with her friends, talking to herself, pushing her hair out of her eyes, running this way and that.

Both encounters, although brief, make me smile, pleased that I can see first hand that my children really are happy at their primary school. It is so important that they enjoy themselves, for me at any rate.

Like any other parent, all I ever got from either of them when I asked about their respective days at school, was a grunt, or “it was fine”, or “can I have a snack?” but now at least, I get to see that they are happy, that they are settled.

And it feels damn good.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Mars and Venus

Everyone knows that when a woman is ill, she’s really unwell.

When a man is unwell of course, it’s only ever a percentage of what the woman was suffering but naturally we like to make out like we’re dying, or similar.

In my defence, I have put a (fairly) brave face on how I have been feeling lately, what with this highly aggressive strain of tonsillitis that I’ve been struck down with this past week, but funnily enough, it isn’t a woman who has made me feel ashamed about walking around with my shoulders hunched, wincing every time I need to swallow, cough or sneeze.

No, as is more often the case nowadays, it was one of my children; in this case, Joseph.

We were having our usual nightly read in his bed before lights out and halfway through the book, I yawned, felt a stab of pain and put my hand to my throat before announcing, "Ooh, because I have tonsillitis Poops (which I caught from him anyway), it really hurts when I yawn!"

I turned to face him, waiting for an understanding arm to be put around me.

Instead, he blinked lazily, looking very tired, took his thumb out of his mouth and said, very matter of fact but without a hint of malice, "I know".

Bless his heart!

Before I was struck down with this lurgy, it was in fact Joseph who had been suffering with it but he looked like he had it bad. All the glands in his neck were visibly swollen and he was occasionally upset with the pain.

So why was I embarrassed?

Well, looking back I offered a couple of spoonfuls of childrens ibuprofen or paracetamol (as per the instructions, natch) and a glass of water, expecting him to merely accept my words that it would 'soon be better'.

Now I know how bloody painful it is (and must’ve been for him), well ….. it just makes you feel a bit of a wimp.

That is all.

Carry on!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

“And this week’s winning numbers are …..”

Here in the UK we have a national lottery, where you can win, on average, between 2 and 6 million pounds, twice a week, every week of the year.

We also have the Euro lottery where anyone in Europe can win huge sums of money and in the case of no-one winning for a few weeks in a row, the grand prize is often something quite ridiculous (I think one woman in Ireland in 2005 won 115 million Euros (GBP£77million or US$116million).

Of course the poor woman then had to go into hiding for fear of being kidnapped but hey, money can’t buy you happiness right??

There’s a very old joke that tells of a Scotsman (who are apparently very tight-fisted when it comes to money), who once dropped a 2 pence coin and it hit him in the back of the head.

The joke being that in order to save the coin, he bent down so quickly, he reached the floor before the coin did!

(Told you it was old!!)

Now, I am not for one moment suggesting that my Dad is in anyway tight-fisted with his money – although he has been known to watch the pennies over the years – but just lately, his behaviour has been a bit …….. well …….. out of sorts.

I mean, I know it’s my Mums’ 65th birthday which obviously warrants a special treat – it’s just that I didn’t expect that special treat to be in the shape of a new Mercedes estate car.

A real one - not a toy one!

Last week he shouted lunch out for themselves and some friends of theirs and today, he shouted once again for all of us and the friends from last week again.

And the drinks.

I often wondered whether or not someone could keep a large lottery win a secret from other family members.

And now I know they could!!!

Thanks for lunch today Dad – and happy birthday Mum.

Looking good at 65.

I mean …..... 52.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Tired …… eyelids drooping ….. must rest ……

Well, this week finally arrived!!

(does not compute – please elaborate)

Oh yeah, sorry – I started my new job at the start of the week and I thoroughly enjoyed it. After the somewhat repetitive nature of an audio/IT job, tied to one desk day in day out, I started work at a primary school – yep, I’m back in the education sector.

I love it!

Don’t get me wrong, as you can read a couple of posts previous, I will always have a mighty soft spot for Bush House, the home of BBC’s World Service, but after 6 years, it’s time for a change and boy oh boy, you can’t get much more change than working with 10 year olds.

To top it all, I am working at ….. wait for it ….. the school my children attend!!

Up until Thursday, it was all, “hello Mr So-and-so this” and thank you Mr So-and-so that”. Then I saw Joseph in the playground and a deafening yell of “DA-A-A-D”, came hollering across 80 feet of concrete!


I think 2009 is gonna be a good year.

Having said that, as you may have read, Annabel has had a rotten bout of “chicken pops”, Joseph had tonsillitis at the start of the week and today I came down with ……. tonsillitis.

Bloody sore it is too!


Oh, somewhat randomly, Annabel wrote up a list of people she wants to invite to her party (in May!) and it looks something like this;

You would be forgiven for thinking that it looks like she has just written her own name out several times but, to give her credit, when I asked her to read me back who she had written down, she reeled off a selection of different names of her classmates.

Well done Missy!

And such lovely writing too

Monday, January 05, 2009

Unanswerable questions No. 1

Realistically, I should have started this section off way back when I started this blog.

In actual fact, an unanswerable question should’ve been the reason I started this blog!

But, as is often the case, certain opportunities pass us by, at the time meaning nothing, a mere flicker of a thought, an inconsequential insignificance. Long before I had started logging snippets of conversation, before I realised that a funny comment from one of my children could provide me with the meat for the bones of a short story for whoever might one day happen upon these pages, I would laugh out loud at a silly word or phrase, promising to always remember what it was that made me laugh in the first place.

Of course, my memory has become poorer and poorer, so I am more than happy to record the latest ‘smile-maker’ in our household, both for you and for me.

Annabel is covered, I mean, absolutely covered in angry, raised spots – she’s got the pox.


The chicken pox; it has been a miserable few days for her.

Her temperature is through the roof, she doesn’t want to walk because the spots rub inside her legs, she wants to be carried but you can’t pick her up because she has spots in her armpits, she wants a cooling bath to stop the itching, she wants to get out of the bath because the water isn’t helping, the cream is too cold, her pyjamas itch etc etc and she is screaming like she hasn’t screamed for a very long time.

Poor Missy.

She is miserable but through it all has flashes of her tough little self; she rallies and manages to smile and talk about her day even though she is flinching as you rub cream over the bumpy, sore looking spots on her tummy/back/neck/thighs. The thing is, while you are sat next to her bed, feeling sorry for her and listening to her prattle on (in order to keep you at her side), she asks, "why do we have to have chicken pops?"

It’s a tiny mistake but one which reminds you of how small she is and, more importantly, how grown up she is the rest of the time.

In a similar vein, Joseph has his (thankfully rare) moments of misbehaving but something in him knows not to mess about when something’s not right. In this case, his sister being unwell; apparently his behaviour today was exemplary.

Ooh, talking of a couple of diamonds, we went to see the
Aurora collection at the Natural History Museum last weekend.

Go and see them; they are beautiful.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

The National Trust - for ever, for everyone

It’s inevitable.

As good as their Christmas presents might be, there comes a time when lying on the floor playing with whatever it is wears ever so slightly thin and tempers start to flare (I’m talking about the children, not me!!).

"Let’s go for a drive out somewhere and have a nice walk", said the savvy M.

And that’s exactly what we did; we drove out to Box Hill in picturesque Surrey on what must have been the coldest day yet.

So, absolutely numb hands and feet side (I wasn’t moaning, I wasn’t moaning), we purchased a map from a choice of 1 hour, 1 and a half hour, 3 hour and 5 hour walks (we took 1.5 hours) for the grand sum of 50p, and we were off.

It was, quite simply, stunning.

On the occasions when I stopped concentrating on willing some of my blood to my feet, I was aware of how incredibly quiet it was; even the birds twittering seemed few and far between.

We became expert trackers, discussing what animal might’ve done the various poo’s we found along the way (hey, our food reserves were running low and you’ve got to distract them somehow!) and, as beautiful and peaceful as it was, I have to admit to being thrilled at arriving back at our starting point, the small cafeteria selling hot chocolate by the mugful and flapjacks by the slice.

To top it all, we inadvertently timed out stay to just witness one of the most amazing sunsets I have seen in some time.

Naturally, I did my best to take a distinctly average photograph of it, however.

(go here for more pic's)