Birthday – Week 23 of the 52 week short story challenge

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I can remember every moment of your birth-day – and that of your younger brother who was considerably bigger than you but slipped out with an ease and speed that caught the midwife on the hop. More of him another time.

Before you were born I had two miscarriages. I wasn’t sure if I could carry a pregnancy to full term; if I would ever know what it felt like to hold my child in my arms, to watch him or her grow into an independent person.

So when we got to the thirteen-week scan and could see your little heart beating, your Dad and I (and your Grandma) finally dared to hope that our dreams might come true. They didn’t do scan pictures in those days but your Dad had come prepared and was allowed to take photos of the screen.

We christened you Parsley. After Parsley the Lion, a character in one of our favourite children’s programmes – The Herbs. It wasn’t until the twenty-week scan that we found out that you were a boy and you became Robin. Robin Goodfellow. Robin the Hooded Man. His friends are more than fond of Robin. All our hopes and joys were invested in you.

This pregnancy was different.  All the symptoms that had been missing in the previous two pregnancies were there; the nausea, going off certain foods, craving other foods – especially cod in cheese sauce and crunchy cornflakes with strawberries.

You don’t like fish.

We went to National Childbirth Trust antenatal classes. All first-time parents, all nervous and full of questions – except for the immaculate health visitor with the designer bump and gorgeous husband who was planning a water birth at home. She knew it all – and she made sure that we knew that she knew it all.

Fast forward to the day before your birth-day. Things felt different. I started fussing and nest building. The labour bag was packed and unpacked a dozen times and when my waters broke – luckily after we had been shopping at Sainsburys and put it all away – we phoned the hospital and were told to come on in.

You were in no rush though. Your Dad and I spent most of the following morning trudging round endless hospital corridors in an effort to get labour started. It was more diverting than lying on a hospital bed and feeling uncomfortable. The words of our antenatal teacher rang in my ears. ‘Keep upright as much as you can and let gravity do the work for you.’

The nurses on the ward would have preferred me flat on my back and well-behaved because they kept losing me.

Our consultant – who bore a striking resemblance to Maggie Smith – turned up at half-past two in the afternoon and although she smiled, we could see that she was slightly disappointed that you weren’t likely to make an appearance before she clocked off for the day.

We went into the labour ward around six o’clock that night. You were on the way. I tried to remember all the things our teacher taught us. Then I got told off. I was doing the empowering grunting thing. ‘Don’t waste your energy screaming – grunt and push.’

The midwife told me I was frightening the other mummies with my Neanderthal noises. I ignored her and carried on. Gas and air made me bold. Your Dad grinned and got the odd whiff of gas and air.

You gave us a bit of a fright when you finally emerged at half-past seven (in time for Coronation Street according to Grandma). Your APGAR score was low because you had managed to wrap the umbilical cord around your neck – not once, nor twice but three times. Liberated and unwound, you pinked up nicely and let out a yell. The midwife let go of the end of the cord and – according to your Dad because I was out of it by then- it flick-flacked around and sprayed the ceiling. Tennessee Chainsaw Massacre apparently.

Your Dad had you to himself for the first hour of your life. The midwives weren’t happy that all the placenta had come away so I had to go to theatre and have a ‘scrape’ under general anaesthetic. By the time I came around  I was back on the ward with you and your very proud Dad.

I never drink full fat milk and I’m not enamoured of egg sandwiches but these were offered to me and nothing ever tasted so good.
Your Dad went home to bed and I tried to sleep. You were in a cot beside me and I kept one hand on your head all night to make sure you were real and no one could take you away.

We had to stay in hospital for three days; I had stitches and you were jaundiced. It was torture because we lived so close to the hospital that I could see our house. Every night your Dad stood out in the garden and shone a torch so I could see he was thinking of us. I knew that.

We escaped on the fourth day and I can remember lying on our bed at home, feeding you and devouring Kentucky Fried Chicken. We were told to get you out in the sunshine to get rid of your jaundice.

You got sunburn – the yellow turned to pink and your ~Dad went out to buy a sunshade.

We didn’t do too bad for new parents; we only forgot you once. I’d strapped you into your car seat and left you at the top of the stairs for your Dad to bring down and put in the car. It wasn’t until he started the car that I realised something was missing. You slept through the whole thing so I don’t think you were mentally scarred.

Our theme song was ‘Kooks’ by David Bowie. You came to live in a lovers’ story. We hope you haven’t been sorry.

The antenatal class met up again six weeks after you were born. We shared our birth stories and showed off our babies. We tried not to look smug when the golden couple turned up with their screaming baby (and not very pretty). The water birth at home had to be abandoned and she was rushed into hospital for an emergency C-section. All that expense! Unlike her baby, the mother was very quiet during our catch up session. She looked rather unkempt and her husband’s tee-shirt had sick marks on the shoulder – just like the rest of us now.

So the birthdays came and the birthdays went. You were a left-hander and you skipped to school because you loved it so much. A prodigious reader;I had to buy two copies of each Harry Potter book when they came out because you didn’t want to wait till I had finished it. I always finished first but you said this was because I didn’t have to go to school and lose valuable reading time.

Senior school followed primary school, and we were told that you were officially a National Gifted and Talented Youth.  You made your own path – avoiding games and PE as much as possible  – but you were a very strong swimmer which made up for it. When everyone else was wearing an extremely short school tie, yours was a more respectable  – and acceptable – level because you didn’t care about such things.

You had your group of friends and parents’ evenings were embarrassingly wonderful for all of us. Dad helped you with your German and I dredged the depths of my mind for my GCE French. The maths and sciences were beyond me.

You aced your GCSEs and went onto college to do your ‘A’ levels. I panicked when we didn’t get a call from you after you got your results. I had visions of you throwing yourself into a canal in despair because you hadn’t got A stars.

I shouldn’t have worried. You sauntered in and showed me your results. All A stars. What was the fuss about Mum?

University was a foregone conclusion. So was your first-class honours degree in Chemistry and now you are studying for a PhD with a long title that I can never remember. Something to do with amino acids.

You are a teacher. A mentor. A scientist. You also mix a mean cocktail and know how to have a good time. Your knowledge of politics astounds me and I value your advice (and your cocktails). You are a bit more of a dedicated follower of fashion since the school tie days.

We don’t see that much of you because you are a hundred miles away and have your own life to lead but you know that you have surpassed our expectations and that we are very, very proud of you.

Robin Goodfellow. Robin the Hoodied Man. His friends are still more than fond of Robin.

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Lost and Found – Week 6 of the 52 week short story challenge

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Lost and Found and Lost Again

Rochelle sat on the rocky outcrop at the end of the beach. Her beach. The beach she had known all her life and the place she sought whenever life became too much. Unfortunately life became too much for Rochelle every day until she could push it aside with her current cocktail of choice. She had been told to avoid alcohol because it could have an adverse effect on her medication but ‘could have‘ was not a definite and there were days when avoidance was impossible.

The youngest of four girls, Rochelle was often referred to as ‘the Afterthought’ by her older and married sisters. They were all in their teens when their mother surprised them – and their father – with the birth of a tiny and delicate sister who was duly fussed over and petted by them all.

Perhaps as a consequence of this concentrated attention, Rochelle was a demanding baby; the toddler who invented new levels of tantrums, and the most sulky and erratic of teenagers. Mercifully for her sisters, they had married and set up their own homes by the time she had reached this most petulant and attention-seeking phase of her development.

Her father was bewildered by Rochelle’s behaviour. His other daughters had seemed so easy by comparison. Her mother continued to dote and spoil her pretty little girl, enchanted by the sweetness of her nature – provided things were going her way.

School was a trial for Rochelle. She made few friends but many enemies due to an unfortunate ability to tell tales with a mask of complete innocence that belied her devious nature. Tears and tantrums failed to move her teachers and she left school without any qualifications due to an extensive sickness record and no ability to apply herself to anything but craftwork.

Expressing a hitherto hidden desire to get away from home and family, Rochelle informed her parents that she wanted to go to college. A college on the mainland. A college far away from home. Puzzled by this desertion, Rochelle’s parents applied a few sanctions. She could go to college but only if she agreed to stay with Mr and Mrs Bullingham, elderly family friends who could guarantee to keep her safe from the wicked world.

It was agreed and having been escorted to her new home by her tearful mother, Rochelle settled into her new life. ‘Settled‘ may not have been the best description of how she spent her days. The college was small, more like a finishing school for young people whose parents were not ready for them to tackle the hazards of big city life. Many of her fellow students paired up throughout their time at college but not Rochelle. Some of the boys – and teachers – found her childish behaviour initially enchanting but the magic wore off very quickly and they soon realised that she was a person to be kept at a distance.

Rochelle learned how to flirt and flutter her eyelashes in order to get others to do things for her. She also developed a taste for alcohol; only to be consumed in her room or when she wasn’t due home to the Bullinghams’ genteel and alcohol-free zone for some time.

The college course came to an end and Rochelle returned home to her island, still without qualifications but possessed of a multitude of manipulative skills. She had made a few friends who kept in touch – perhaps because they felt sorry for the girl who didn’t seem able to grow up. To those who cared for her, Rochelle continued to be sweet and charming. Her sisters loved her but grew increasingly intolerant of her demanding behaviour – especially when she had been drinking.

Gentle suggestions regarding Rochelle finding work were rebuffed and met with floods of tears and prolonged sulking. Employment on the island  was limited anyway but for a young woman with little experience, no real skills and an air of naivete that did not transfer to the workplace, it was impossible. Rochelle’s parents came to the conclusion that she was unlikely to ever make a financial contribution to their household.

Being of a sensitive and rather sentimental nature, getting Rochelle involved in voluntary work for animal charities on the island may not have been the wisest of choices but it kept her occupied and her craftwork earned small amounts for the darling animals. She felt that she had found her true calling at last and was quick to tell her friends of her new purpose in life.

Her sisters however, grew increasingly concerned about Rochelle’s mental health, especially when she was at home or attending family events. She screamed and cried; retreated to her room when she couldn’t have her own way and had to be rescued from bars when her cocktail consumption got her into peril with men who were less scrupulous than her college chums.

There was a spell in hospital during her mid-thirties; life had become too much after Rochelle developed a crush on the much-married manager of the seal sanctuary. She stalked him and bombarded him with handmade cards containing coy messages. He succumbed to Rochelle’s childlike charms but panicked when she announced that she was with child herself. His wife found the bag of love tokens when emptying out his recycling and after talking to her repentant husband, contacted one of Rochelle’s sisters who in turn spoke very sternly to her parents.

The problem with living on an island is that the only strangers were tourists; everyone else knew each other and in order for Rochelle to escape the laughter and mocking glances, her parents had her admitted to a small private hospital where she was kept under heavy sedation following her ‘operation‘ and  caused her to retreat further into the safety of her fantasy world.

By the time her doctors felt she was well enough to go home, the manager and his wife had been relocated to the mainland, and another scandal had replaced Rochelle’s assumed shame. She made more friends whilst in the hospital; women who had been damaged and made vulnerable by life, women who saw Rochelle as an entertaining child, a willing drinking-companion, and a person unfazed by their own bizarre behaviours.

As the years passed, Rochelle’s sisters gave up on the idea of ever finding a man patient enough – and wealthy enough – to take their sister away from their aging and increasingly frail parents. They did their best to try and encourage some element of maturity in their baby sister, but she remained that – a child-woman who was incapable of doing more than making chocolate-box cards for animal charities and stamping her foot when life failed her.

Through one of her old college friends, Rochelle became acquainted with Trudi, a woman who had spent some years recruiting people for a demanding religious sect. As a consequence, she was adept at spotting those who life had left open to exploitation. She honed in on Rochelle; showering her with compliments, feeding her ever-hungry ego and grooming her as a useful source of information as well as a potential mouthpiece for Trudi’s opinions.

Trudi had a lucrative business selling email addresses to companies who used them to spam and intimidate people who had no interest in their services – especially the elderly. Several of her friends had become wise to this misuse of their details and Trudi found herself needing a new method of obtaining information.  Rochelle fell for Trudi’s explanation of needing email addresses to raise funds for charities – animal charities of course – and was quick to use her volunteer status to find mailing lists of anyone who had ever made a contribution. Trudi was ecstatic, and clever enough to get Rochelle to use her own email address when sending on the information. She paid Rochelle a token amount and kept the rest of the money  to herself.

Rochelle watched the police car draw up outside her house with some curiosity. At 53 years of age she had never seen a police car at her house before and idly wondered if her parents were alright. She turned back to the sea again and barely registered the crunching of police-issue boots on the shell and gravel beach. Rochelle’s mother had tried to persuade the police that her daughter had mental health problems but some of the people on the lists sold via Trudi’s dubious transatlantic contacts were from old and very influential island families who objected to being inundated with emails peddling Viagra, funeral plans and weight loss products.

One of Rochelle’s sisters met them at the police station and acted as her appropriate adult. Rochelle didn’t really know what to say in response to the questions. Tears and eyelash fluttering failed to move the stony-faced female detective and her equally impassive male colleague. After hours of questioning, Rochelle’s sister requested a break and took the opportunity to give Rochelle the kind of talking to she had badly needed all her life

Eventually Rochelle was persuaded to give up Trudi’s details and tell the version of events as she understood it. The detectives weren’t convinced that anyone could be as gullible as Rochelle but had little choice to let her go with a caution and a very stern warning about getting involved in this kind of scam in the future.

Unable to trust Rochelle, the animal charities she had previously supported made it clear to her parents and sisters that her services were no longer required. Her computer had been taken away by the police and her parents stated that they didn’t want it returned. Those friends she had kept in touch with via social media wondered idly what had become of her but no one cared enough to find out. Trudi was tracked down and despite blaming everything on Rochelle, her past track record gave her away and she was exposed as the force behind many other such scams.

Rochelle spends most of her time on the rocky outcrop; lost again but unlikely to be found this time.

 

 

In the presence of presents

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When Gap Boy and Uni Boy were younger, buying presents for Christmas and birthdays was simple.  I could let my imagination run riot in the toy shop – avoiding the pink aisle and the weapons of mass destruction.  We worked through Lego and K’nex whilst Tilly, Tom and Tiny watched from the toy box – we had Rosie and Jim too – as well as a plethora of other character spin offs from whatever children’s programme the Red House book club was flogging that week.

As the boys got older and diversified, all my good intentions about not allowing guns or electronic toys went out of the window; Uni Boy became a Gameboy fanatic (subsequently progressing through a vast range of must-have Nintendo products) and Gap Boy’s latent killer instinct would not be suppressed. The boy would shoot anyone with anything given the opportunity – including his mother  (on Mothering Sunday) with a BB gun.

I thought that Hub was easier to buy for; I bought him things that I was sure he’d like but it took several years of him gratefully accepting my weird purchases before the penny dropped and I noticed that most of his presents were still in a brightly patterned gift bag a year later (he would never give or throw them away for fear of hurting my feelings).

I inherited the tendency to overbuy from my Lovely Mum.  Neither of us ever felt we had given enough and as a consequence we would shower each other (and other people) with shedloads of goodies.  I do miss Mum’s hastily wrapped bags of delight.

Increasing age and a modicum of maturity opened my eyes to the perils of inappropriate present giving and I decided to let Hub have more of a say in what I bought – as in ‘you order the bits you need for paintball and I’ll wrap them up‘. Birthdays and Christmas are less imaginative now but mutually happier and there are fewer festive filled carrier bags hanging around.  UB and GB now request filthy lucre instead of presents, or as in GB’s case, get us to drive to the motorbike shop and pay for his protective gear.

Hub had a big birthday.

Big birthdays call for extreme measures.

A brand spanking new marker for paintball – his first ever because he’s been good and only had second-hand stuff before.

UB announced that he couldn’t get home for his dad’s birthday due to Uni commitments but suggested  that we meet up in Manch for an evening meal.  He then came up with the even brighter idea that we should go to Manch on the train.

Hub loves trains.

As I don’t drive, he spends a lot of time ferrying me about in the car.  He loved my birthday weekend in York because we went on the train and he got to look at the scenery and relax.

We decided to invite Bezzie Mate up for the birthday celebrations as we love his company, he loves trains too and he has become an integral part of our family.  We did ask GB if he wanted to come but the joint perils of using public transport and spending the evening with his older brother proved far too repellent. He said that he would stay home and look after Scooby – who’s minding who?

UB booked the restaurant and as the family train expert, gave me a potted version of the timetable and texyed me a list of his own  commitments. I booked train tickets (not with the cheapest online source according to UB but what the hell) and baby we were ready to go!

BM arrived on Hub’s birthday with a beautifully wrapped box containing marzipan and a Spiderman helicopter  both of which brought a huge grin to Hub’s face.  His marker had arrived in time for me to wrap it and he’d completely forgotten about the melon vodka that UB and I had bought him.

The builders were still busy in the kitchen when BM arrived but he was able to see the glory that was the sparkly granite worktop being fitted before the three of us left to – catch a bus to town!

Hub made a beeline for the back seat; memories of schooldays obviously flooding back.  I prefer the front seats especially if there is a bell to ring nearby and a pole to grab hold of.  BM and I followed Hub but after a few moments of hideous bumping and the full blast of the sun, we all relocated to more comfortable and less sun-drenched seats.

We were travelling to Manch in the rush hour, so needless to say, the train was packed and it was standing room only.  Nearly everyone sitting down on the train had a laptop or tablet of some description on display.  Hub and I managed to get seats at the next stop but BM was so wrapped up in looking at HIS tablet that he preferred to stand.

Manchester Piccadilly station brought back memories of my misspent youth; my Lovely Mum worked for what was then British Rail, and as a consequence I got four free rail tickets per year and quarter-fare the rest of the time. This came in very useful for a homesick eighteen year old who had relocated from the seaside South to a land-locked Birmingham and the delights of drama school. Ticket inspectors often failed to clip my ticket, giving me the opportunity to make more journeys home (and back), usually on the through train but sometimes via Euston and Waterloo.

Large train stations and the Underground held no fear for me in those days as I lugged my hefty sailbag southwards and to home – or reluctantly back to the cold and endlessly damp Midlands and my tiny bedsit.

Thirty-odd years later, laden only with a ladylike Primark rucksack and accompanied by two of my favourite men, Manchester Piccadilly was a delight, even if one of the travelators wasn’t travelling – until nature called.

Thirty pee to pee!

To add insult to injury the toilets stank of other people’s stale pee – and worse.

It took a sit down and a takeaway coffee to restore my equilibrium.  Hub and BM found my ire most amusing. They frequently gang up on me like a pair of naughty schoolboys but I forgive them – usually.

UB phoned as we were drinking coffee and teasing each other on FaceAche.  His meeting had overrun and his train had been cancelled so he would be going straight to the restaurant and could we please stop messing around and get there first in case they let the table go to someone else. Suitably chastised for our levity and wondering how the al-seeing eye of UB knew we were messing about, we packe dup and drank up.

I would have gone for the taxi option, but Hub and BM were excited by trams (and the ticket machine) so we took the Metrolink. As we passed the Manchester Eye I had to kick Hub to shut him up because he started talking about the chap who had occupied the Eye in protest against being recalled to jail for breaking his parole.  You never know who might be listening on a tram, and to my wary eye there were several fellow passengers taking an unhealthy interest in what Hub was saying. He was oblivious to it all. He loves trams.

We got off the tram before the heavies did. Hub had to use his mobile satnav to find the way to the restaurant, which was under the shade of the Beetham Tower and alongside the canal.  Our progress was slow but enjoyable; BM was happy-snapping the surroundings, Hub and I were just happy looking and lapping up the atmosphere of a balmy Manchester evening.

We were on time. Our table was inside rather than out on the crowded terrace.  We ordered cocktails, including one for UB who had texted to say he was on the Metrolink and would like something sweet, fruity and very alcoholic please.

It was a wonderful evening.  The food was great and the cocktails even better. When he found out that it was Hub’s birthday, our lovely waiter Guillaume bought over a surprise brownie pudding complete with candles and a glass of champagne – on the house.  More cocktails with dessert, UB and I were torn between two drinks so we ordered both and took turns slurping through separate straws – that’s my boy.

Despite having return tram tickets, I persuaded my men that a taxi to the station would be a better option given our varying levels of inebriation.  Many cocktails made all three of them very amenable.  UB’s train left shortly after ours so he packed his parents and his funny uncle safely aboard  and waved us off with that curiously old-fashioned look on his face.  He’s always been much older and wiser than us.

The journey home was only marred by a yoof with very cheap earphones broadcasting his boom-boom repetitive dance music to the whole carriage.

Hub rested his eyes.

BM was engrossed in his tablet.

I smiled the happy smile of the slightly intoxicated and tried to work out where the hell we were.

Disembarking was an experience.  The clothing of our female companions was – skimpy – to say the least – and although it was a Thursday, there must have been something exciting going on in the town centre (or cultural quarter as the PR merchants have christened it) as most of the yoof were headed in that direction.

Another taxi and home to a shiny, shiny kitchen, a very happy Scooby, a slightly disapproving GB (aren’t you all a bit old for this?) and much needed sleep.

Just in case you were worried that GB was left out, Hub, BM, GB and I went off to our favourite curry house for dinner the next night.  UB hates curry.

Hub says it was his best birthday ever.  He had more cards, more messages on FaceAche, presents he really wanted and a good meal enjoyed with some of his favourite people, not to mention the bus, trains and tram.

I’ll think he’ll cope with the nifty fifties now.

 

‘The End of the Pier’

 

 

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Thirty days of blogging.

Stories, memories and a very small poem that crept into my head in the night.

Dominated somewhat by the saga of the Krappy Kitchen and the process of acquiring the food preparation and dining area of our dreams.

Over the past day and a half we have watched the last vestiges of the Krappy Kitchen disappear.  I let out a small cheer as the lump hammers hit breeze blocks that have dominated the middle of the room for the past fifteen years.

The electrician was the last of our visitors to leave today, having drilled out the holes for my brushed chrome spotlights (I had a choice between white, shiny or brushed chrome).  My mind scurried back into virgin kitchen mode when asked to make that choice.  Then I asserted myself and after opting for brushed, was strangely proud to be told that I had made the right choice.

Hub and I wandered around after our visitors had left today. Our kitchen is an echoing shell now, with dangling wires and the huge double RSJs lurking in the ceiling.

We have found out a few things about our house.

It’s a miracle that Gap Boy hasn’t fallen through the floor when stropping in his bedroom because the existing RSJ only went across half the ceiling – the bit where he sleeps, not the bit where he regularly shouts, guffaws and giggles on his computer.

It’s another miracle that we haven’t all been killed in our beds due to the shoddy wiring put in by the first owner – who was (surprisingly enough) a qualified electrician.  Perhaps he trained st the same establishment where the subsequent owner did her artexing course. There will be no more skin scraping artex in our kitchen either .

The builders have sorted out the dodgy building bits and an inspector is coming to check it all  out tomorrow. Another stranger at the door.

The nice electrician is going to have a look at the rest of the wiring when he’s finished in  the kitchen.  He very gently told me that progress will slow down a bit now because the plasterer is coming in and it will take a couple of days for the walls and ceiling to dry out.

I smile that silly smile and remind him that after waiting fifteen years to be able to afford this kitchen a couple more days won’t worry me.

Talking of compromises, the work top won’t be quite as sexy as planned.  With the wisdom of Solomon I had to make the choice between waiting another three weeks for the Star Galaxy worktop or cancelling the order and getting the slightly more down-market black granite with just silvery bits in it which can be delivered when the builders need it because it has been sourced locally.

It is still a sexy worktop and with any luck, my kitchen will be done much quicker (and a bit cheaper too!)

Washing up in the downstairs bathroom is a bit challenging but having the temporary kitchen on the dining room table is easier on the legs.

After rebelling about the use of plastic cutlery and paper plates, we bought GB a set of his own cutlery and unearthed some plates.

More compromise.

I was in a bit of a quandary about the old gas cooker yesterday.

It had to sit outside all night until the big lorry came to collect the rubbish. I really should have given it a bit of clean before the builders came but it is being junked anyway and we ran out of time.

Trouble is, it sat in the garden in full view of the manic mothers on their school run (they slowed down to have a look – not quite to 20 miles an hour but not bad).  Now they all know what a dirty  cooker I had.

GB has been quite sweet today but that goes hand in hand with his lecturing and hectoring about every single subject under the sun.

My idea of snoozing gently with Scoob whilst Martin and Lucy wax lyrical about three-bed semis in Clapham has been shattered  due to the fact that GB cannot sleep upstairs whilst all that banging is going on. So he talks and talks and talks.

Mind you, he told me about the hose incident last night.

Apparently one of our elderly neighbours was watering his garden yesterday evening when someone drove up the road at speeds in excess of 60 miles an hour (I doubt it) , so my neighbour remonstrated with him.  The neighbour remonstrated back and my neighbour hosed him.  More naughty talk and another shot of hose.  I expected to hear the our neighbour had been bopped but apparently the drive chose to zoom off instead.

Perhaps it was the sight of my neighbour’s hairy, brown and extremely pregnant-looking belly that saw him off.

I know it’s been warm over the last couple of days but that belly would certainly frighten the horses. Put it on!

Poor Scoob had just got used to the chaps who chipped of the seventies brown and white tiles  yesterday when there was a change of personnel and he had to come to terms with three more of them.  Luckily the poor young boy in the hoodie who got so badly wuffed at yesterday was off on another job today.

They are a smashing bunch though.  I can hear their conversations through the wall and the range of topics is impressive and very informative.  GB asked me if I minded all the swearing. I hadn’t actually noticed it.

The kitchen singing is even better than the banter though.  The lads brought along their old, dusty, paint-spattered ghetto blaster and they sing along to Radio One. – although they may have wandered into Radio Two yesterday afternoon when I heard one of them singing falsetto to ‘Too shy, shy’.

My attitude to our builders is very positive therefore.  They don’t seem to mind the awfulness of the tea I make them (being allergic to tea makes this a very hands-off process and the fumes make me retch a bit). The biscuits I sent Hub out to buy have been a great success, and the fact that I really don’t mind them using the downstairs toilet also went down well.

“I don’t mean to be cheeky but can I use your loo/have a cup of tea/ smoke in your garden/ eat these lovely biscuits?”

They are such polite boys.

I have a feeling that today’s blog won’t really be the end of the pier as planned thirty -one days ago.

Making the effort to write something every day is a discipline I learned when participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) which is held every November. http://nanowrimo.org/

It may not be easy to stop now although I’m not sure if I’ll continue to blog every day.

I have a kitchen to dress in the next week or so (that’s what they say on DIY SOS isn’t it?)

 

 

 

My bark is much worse than my bite

I’ve had a holiday!

I’ve been to the vets – twice.

I’ve also been assessed regarding some of my more unfortunate habits.  This was as a consequence of my managing to escape when the garden gate blew open.  I ran and ran.  So did my Dad.  My Mum picked up the bags and my lead and set off at a brisker than usual trot to try to find me and my Dad.  To be fair, I did actually turn round and stop eventually, but by that time my Dad was not best pleased, was bent double and making strange couching noises.    I was brought home in disgrace and left in no doubt about how disappointed they were in me.  I do sad dog face so well.

My Mum hit the internet with a vengeance and booked us up with a man who would visit and do some work with all three of us regarding my pulling, woofing at cyclists, joggers and delivery men, and my growling at random things and people. I don’t have a problem with any of these behaviours but apparently my humans do.

Back to the holiday first though.

I got quite excited about all the suitcases littered around the house, and observed with great interest the animated discussions about what needed to be taken and what didn’t.  I had my own rucksack, sports bag and bag of bedding, not to mention a newly stocked treats box and enough food to last me the week.  The hotel was supposed to supply me with meals but my Boy wasn’t sure if they would have food that was good enough for me (preens and grins).

I went out for a run with my Dad at tea time on the day before we were due to leave and I trod on a thorn.  The combined efforts of my Mum, my  Dad and my Boy couldn’t get it out, so at ten o’clock that night I was taken off to the emergency vets.  Oh the smells.  Sheer heaven for a scent hound like me.

I liked the vet and the nurse.  I didn’t like the sounds or what happened to the other animals that were emergencies that night.  There was a sweet greyhound that had a heart attack and died, a bunny that was savaged by a fox and an old cat whose legs went.  Four patients and I was the only one that came out alive.  The nurse kept apologising to my Mum and Dad but I don’t think they minded the wait – a thorn in the paw was very trivial  compared to what happened to  the other patients that night.

When it was my turn they put on my Hannibal Lecter mask in case I bit anyone.  I didn’t.  I just pulled the mask off in disgust.  The lady vet took me off into a back room to have some local anaesthetic put on my paw and within a few minutes I was back with my Mum and my Dad.  The nurse brought the thorn with her – it was 6mm long and hurt like hell coming out.  I had an antibiotic injection and a course of pills because we were going away for a week and wouldn’t be able to come back for a check up.  Then they gave us the bill.    All I can say is that it was a good job we didn’t go there after midnight because the tariff was even steeper.  My Mum and Dad didn’t seem to mind though, they were just pleased that I was alright.

We bought my Boy a Maccie D’s on the way home but even though I was a frightfully brave dog and deserved to be spoiled, he still didn’t give me any of his fries.  He can be very strict sometimes.

Despite the late night, we were all up very early next morning and I watched with interest as my Dad and my Boy packed up the car.  The cottage we were staying in didn’t have a washing machine, and as my Mum said that she had no intention of spending her holiday sitting in a launderette, she had to bring quite a lot of clothes with her.  This caused some grumbling from my Dad and my Boy who failed to understand why my Mum needed so many clothes.  She told them that it was a woman thing and to get over it.

It was a long journey down to Cornwall but I was very good.  My bed was on the floor between my Boy’s seat and the seat that I let the Other Boy use when he was home.  The cover has now been put back on it and I can drool on the window to my heart’s content. We made four stops allowing me to poo, pee and woof my way down the country.  I also allowed my humans to stop and eat and do whatever humans do when they disappear off into a motorway service station.

By the time we arrived at the hotel my Mum and my Boy were tired and emotional, which meant that they were snipping at each other.  My Dad was just tired from all that driving.  It didn’t help that the cottage we were staying in was miles from the car park and all the luggage had to be transported in wicker baskets on wheels.  My Mum took charge of me and we followed the parade of my Dad, the lady porter and my grumbling Boy, all loaded down with luggage.

It was a nice cottage though.  Very Scooby friendly with NO stairs.  The hotel staff even left special treats for me,  a pile of pooh bags and some old but clean bedspreads to put over the furniture.  I explored the whole cottage – except for the two en-suite bathrooms – I don’t do bathrooms – that’s where humans make smells and try to wash you.

My Mum started to look happier.  She could see the sea, and we had a nice little walled garden with chairs and a table.  The sun was shining and once everyone had eaten the world looked rosy again.

We were on holiday!

For three days it was sunny and I went for long walks on the headland, shorter walks on the beach and was let off the lead in a little cove with only one way out.  My Mum and my Dad sneaked off to the hotel and had cocktails – not sure what they are but they make my Mum smile a lot.

They took me to a place called Lands End.  My Boy and I were not impressed.  There were coach loads of foreign tourists and people with small yapping dogs.  It was a relief to get back in the car.

Because it was their special anniversary (no idea – it’s a human thing) my Boy and I let my Mum and my Dad out for a special dinner at the hotel too.  I think they had more of those cocktail things because they both came back smiling and singing songs that made my Boy pull his disgusted face.  My Mum and my Dad giggled.

The weather kind of went downhill after that but my Dad – and sometimes my Boy if he was awake – made sure that I had lots of walks.  My Mum came too sometimes but her poorly toe still means she can’t walk as far as my Dad and my Boy.

One morning when I was out with my Dad I smelled the most delicious smell on the grass and had to roll and roll and roll in it.  As soon as my Dad and I walked back into the cottage my Mum wrinkled up her nose and said “Ugh – fox pooh!”

My Dad is a novice dog owner and had never smelled fox pooh before.  It is not a smell he will ever forget now.

I was taken out into the garden where – in somewhat wet and windy conditions – my Mum and my Dad applied shampoo and scrubbed me down from head to foot.  I love it when they rub you dry with a towel.  My collar and harness had to be washed  and my Mum received a heartfelt apology from my Dad because although the car had been packed too full with luggage, it meant that she had remembered to bring towels, brushes and special shampoo for me.

We went to a place called Mousehole  the next day but the only cats and mice I saw were stuffed ones.  We sat in the car, in the rain and the humans ate fish and chips, apparently they are VERY bad for dogs.  A cheeky seagull perched on our car and I wanted it SO much. I woofed and growled a great deal. My Mum promised that she’d look for a stuffed one for me.  She looked but the best she could come up with was a stuffed penguin.  Epic Fail.  I chewed it once then tucked it under a blanket and forgot about it.

I was deserted on the last night of our holiday.  The three of them went off to the hotel and had dinner – and more of those cocktail things.  I was overjoyed when they returned though.  They were equally overjoyed to find that I had been very good and not damaged the furniture, weed or poohed anywhere whilst they were out.  I fell asleep.

Tempers were rather frayed the next morning when my humans had to get the luggage back to the car.  We had acquired some extra bits and pieces and I cringed slightly whilst my Boy stomped off to the car and my Mum and my Dad had WORDS.

They made friends again though.  They never stay angry at each other for long.

We were making a couple of detours on the way home.  The first was to a tank museum – for the Boy.  My Mum and I stayed in the car and listened to a comedian on her Kindle thing.  She laughed a lot and I looked wistfully out of the window, missing my Dad and my Boy. It made my Boy very happy though, he’s rather into guns and tanks and things that make loud noises.

When they came back we made our way to see my Mum’s sister and her husband.  He is very tall and she isn’t, and I could tell straight away that they were dog lovers.  I didn’t woof or growl and although I would have liked to stay out in their garden and chase the pigeons, I was impeccably behaved.  I ate my dinner and eventually nodded off whilst the humans ate their dinners and talked.  I like having relatives.

At last we were on our way home.  It rained and apparently we shared the motorways with vast numbers of football fans heading North.  I slept for most of the journey, only really waking up when we were about a quarter of a mile from home and the front wheel  got a puncture.  It was very noisy in the car after that, and we crawled home very, very, very slowly.

Luggage was unloaded and left in piles in the living room because the humans just wanted to go to sleep.  I would have preferred to go for walkies or play games but I curled up on my sofa and did the looking-like-I’ve-fallen-asleep-until-they-go-upstairs thing.

I think I liked having a holiday, especially as it meant that I got to walk on sandy beaches and roll in fox pooh – not sure that I’ll get the chance to do that again – especially not with my Mum’s very sensitive sense of smell.

My Dad had a birthday once we were back and the Other Boy came home for a visit.  We are firm friends now – although he doesn’t do walks or feeding me still.  They all went out to dinner again and left me to guard the house.  No one came though so I didn’t even have to woof.  The next morning the Other Boy went back to this Uni place where he lives a lot of the time – and where I’m not allowed to go because they don’t have pets.

I saw another vet in order to get my poor paw checked.  This one was a man and not as pretty or smiley as the emergency vet had been.  He looked at my paw, listened to my heart and clipped my claws.  I didn’t woof or growl once although I was disappointed that there was no lady vet for me to charm.  Nevertheless the vet said that I was a nice dog, my paw had healed and I was in good health – but I could lose a few kilos.

More walkies – happy face – less treats and cut down on amount they give me for dinner – sad face.

The next day was both strange and special.

The Bark Buster man came.

I woofed and growled at him a bit but he just sat down on the sofa and looked at me.  I stopped growling and wagged my tail a little.  He put out a hand, which I sniffed, then I licked his fingers and we were friends.

He spent some time talking to my Mum, my Dad and my Boy and making notes  as he went along.  I got bored and fell asleep by the patio door.

Eventually they put my harness on and we ALL went out for walkies.

I confess.  I pulled – a bit = okay then – a lot.

We walked round the block  – to the amusement of some of our neighbours –  then came to a halt in the cul-de-sac (very French) round the corner.  There were more neighbours out in their gardens and they too were amused by the sight of me being walked up and down the road by the BB man and then all three of my humans.  The idea of this exercise was to stop me pulling by turning round and walking in the opposite direction every time I pulled.

You don’t get very far geographically using this method but being quick on the uptake, I stopped pulling.

I also got introduced to the ‘grunt of disapproval‘.  I don’t like it. I didn’t like it when the BB man did it, I liked it even less when my humans did it.  I prefer to bask in their approval.

Whilst they were busy discussing my behaviour in the middle of the road, I took the opportunity to frighten the living daylights out of a harmless teenage schoolgirl who was visiting nearby.  At least the BB man has seen how scary I can be now.  He didn’t appear to be too impressed though.

So now we all have homework to do.

More of the ‘ road to nowhere’ training  – especially for my Mum – who is still suffering from a poorly shoulder from where I pulled her over.  She is allowed to work with me in the front garden and doesn’t have to feel inadequate if she never gets all the way round the block.

My Boy needs to talk to me and reassure me more.

My Dad needs to continue running with me but has to teach me when to stop running.

We have high happy voice for praise, ordinary voice for commands like ‘sit’ and ‘lie down’, and we have the grunt of disapproval for when I growl or pull too much.

The BB man will come back in a couple of weeks time to see how we are all doing.

Last night I fixated on a cat, growled at another dog and just as we were walking in the gate a cyclist came round the corner and I went ballistic.

Think it is time the BB man paid us another visit.

Wild,Wild Life

Drouth (Anon)

‘Oh Western wind when wilt thou blow, that the small rain down can rain?

Christ, that my love were in my arms, and I in my bed again.’

Lovely Hub brought me a big mug especially for Uni, it says –  ‘I’d rather be in bed’

So I’ve spent nine years studying with the  Open University and always managed to avoid residential courses. I’m glad to have participated in this one but didn’t realise just how much I’d miss Lovely Hub and the boys.  I’ve been at Nottingham Uni since Saturday and it’s now the early hours of Thursday morning.  I have finally extricated myself from the pirate party  – which has had its highs and lows.

It doesn’t help that at this time of night only the hard core are left and they divide up into the young, free and single ones who are angling to get off with each other, the party animals, those seeking to regain their lost youth and those, who like me, have families at home and have no desire to spend the rest of the night groping sweatishly with someone that you won’t be able to look in the eye in the morning.  (My conscience is clear I have only bestowed maternal hugs on my very favourite people).

Hub and I have been texting for the past hour or so – he’s on a night shift and is relieved to find that I am safely back in my room knocking back the San Pellegrino to dilute my alcohol intake  and blogging tearily whilst my lappy sings ‘Building a Bridge to my Heart’.’

Residential school has been good.  I have met some fabulous people;  a couple of the tutors are rather up themselves but the majority are delightfully eccentric – or just delightful. There are definitely some people that I’d like to keep in contact especially my lovely partner L who had to leave today because work called her away.  We had a great time working on the project together and our tutor, although this was only his first residential school (and I’m definitely old enough to be his mother) has been incredibly supportive and has almost awakened a desire in me to do statistics – Argh! Hold that thought.

Time passes …..

I started this blog but I didn’t finish it due to pressure of work  on the project – a hard, hard life as well as a wild, wild one.  It’s over a week later and this is the first chance I’ve had to finish this blog  – I’m blaming lack of blood in the alcohol stream and a carb-heavy diet that has left me sluggish and unresponsive all week.  I still have to write up the project and – for my own warped satisfaction only – run the stats programme all on my own to ensure veracity.  I must be mad.

I was given ‘a village idiot’s guide to doing  2×2 Mixed ANOVA’ by me (residential) tutor – and when I read it last night I actually understood (some of) it. Maybe these old brain cells still have some life left in them.  Mission may not be Impossible after all.

No regrets about doing the residential school now,  just saddened to hear that Lovely Hub felt that life was suspended whilst I was away.  Feel very humbled by this and will do my best not to run off again.  Knowing that he missed me so much is an added incentive to lose weight, get fit and hang around for many years to come.   I missed my men too though, and it was only the fact that I was kept so busy, stopped me drooping into the doldrums, especially late at night when all the fun and alcohol had dried up and every bone in my body was wanting to be home.

Enough of all that; once the food shopping was accomplished and my neglected sons were replete (hands up anyone who thinks they starved whilst I was away – No? – didn’t think so) Lovely Hub and I had time to hit the seaside at Crosby, eat ice creams in the sunshine and drive home through a belter of a thunderstorm.  We also managed to take the boys out to dinner (good old Nandos) and actually get through a meal without major domestic trauma.  The situation deteriorated rapidly when we hit Tesco for a spot of late night shopping – so let’s not go there.

Back to work on Monday and at least a day of trying to remember what the hell I do for a living.  It is gradually trickling back so I guess the cocktails I was drinking last Tuesday night didn’t kill  off that many brain cells.  It’s good to be back with my team – even if we are slightly depleted due to holidays and stuff.  I enjoyed being a student last week but I enjoy being a worker more – except for when my path crosses that of the terminally arrogant and dim who blight our lives by being jobsworths.

Ah, but I’ve only a couple of weeks at work before we take off down South to visit family and friends, especially those who couldn’t make it to the funeral.  It will be good to be back in the bosom of the family and to smell the salt air again.  There was a time when I was at college in landlocked Brum and I used to take jars of seawater back with me for a sneaky sniff whenever I got homesick.  Until the day my Mum phoned me at college in a tizzy because they’d discovered typhoid or something horrible in the water.  After that,  a crowd of us sea-siders had to content ourselves with sitting around Edgbaston reservoir making mournful foghorn noises and wishing we were home.

So, no more prevarication  – me tutor has sent me an email with stat-speak in it and after all his efforts at kick-starting my brain – I will not let him  (or myself ) down.  One more essay and the exam after this and the Psych degree will be mine! (I hope).  A final course starting in October on Crime and Justice and the Criminology degree will be mine next  year.  Toying with the idea of doing an online masters in Forensic Psych with Liverpool Uni – but I promised Lovely Hub that I’d take a break from studying and spend more time running wild with him.  Now there’s a happy thought for the future.

Bring on those stats!

Milk and Alcohol – but not this morning

It is Sunday and the sun is actually shining.  Hub and I have most of today off together – he’s on a night shift tonight – and the boys are most definitely out for the count.  Time for the To Do list.

Get up – done that.

Check on Uni Boy  – out on the razz with his mates last night.  His bedroom door is firmly closed this morning and the outside light has been turned off – I assume that he came home in one piece then.

Breakfast – ran out of milk last night so no whiskey porridge this morning then. Fruit juice, toast and Marmite, and a banana.  Ate that.

Wake Lovely Hub  – and examine those bruises.  I had to take photos of them last night to send to his paintball mate – who is responsible for two of the bruises.  I think Hub got his own back though. Had to take another one this morning because it’s developed a wonderful range of colours – and put it on Facebook for him – does this count as a wifely duty?

Put last night’s wet towel in the wash – it was forgotten in all the excitement of taking the photographs.  We’re down to two in the downstairs bathroom having thrown one away last night because it was no longer effective and I remembered exactly how many years ago I bought it.

Tidy up College Boy’s detritus in the kitchen – he was getting up just as we were going to bed last night.  There is evidence that he ate the kebab we bought for him.  He’s not very good at throwing empty things away; I often find empty fruit juice cartons replaced in the fridge or a tub of butter that isn’t any more.  This morning it is just an empty carrier bag, the stiff white paper that wraps up takeaway food and a few stray shreds of lettuce.  Doesn’t go well with toast – in the bin.

Shower – well I will when I’ve finished this – and I’ll remember to do something with the towel when I’m done.  Must remind Hub about hanging up the new blind that we bought over two weeks ago to replace the current one that has two settings – up or down.  Still he put the toilet seat back on its hinges again so it doesn’t fall down unexpectedly.  Not an issue for females but decidedly unsafe for bleary-eyed boys.

Get dressed – by this time Hub will have finished his breakfast and we can escape the house for a while – oh the joys of Sunday morning food shopping!  But we have hungry teenagers with expensive and fluctuating tastes who makes us feel guilty (Uni Boy) or just whinge (College Boy) if the right food isn’t in the house when they want it.  Must buy some new towels while we’re up there.   Don’t need flowers at the moment because Lovely Hub bought up Tesco’s stock of freesias and the house smells gorgeous.  Why is it that Tesco is the only place I can find freesias?

Lunch  – by the time we get back and unpack everything we will both be starving.  Highly unlikely that either son will be awake or offer to help if they are.  College Boy will lurch down in tee-shirt and boxers demanding food.  Uni Boy will emerge at some stage with his dressing grown elegantly draped around him to inform us that he’s having a shower and don’t use the water – please.  Ooh – scrap that.  He has just popped his head round the door to announce that the sun had the temerity to wake him up and he’s starving because he hasn’t had anything to eat since yesterday lunchtime – no wonder he’s so skinny.  Advised that his Dad will be coming down to get breakfast shortly so he only has a short window of opportunity in our tiny and hideously impractical kitchen, he smiles beautifically and says he’ll only be using the oven.  Yeurgh!  Oven-cooked food and it isn’t even ten o’clock yet.  Apparently he and his chums don’t eat whilst out boozing because the food is too expensive, its grim and it ruins the effect of the alcohol.  Should I be worried? Well – he is a scientist after all so he knows all about cause and effect..

Clear out the office – we were supposed to be devoting the whole day to this but due to my talent for procrastination we’ve ended up with an afternoon.  the office is our spare bedroom upstairs.  It houses my PC and the work laptop and it’s usually where I write and do my duty shifts.  I go in there to wake up and check my emails, Twitter and Facebook in the morning, or if I want to escape from noisy boys.  It is my oasis but it is a very cluttered and dusty oasis at the moment.  After our spectacular team work at clearing out my Dad’s bungalow, Hub and I decided that we should work our magic on the office.  The realisation that there are several defunct pieces of computer hardware hanging around in there, a pile of objects and books that were dumped there temporarily over a month ago when College Boy had his party, and – deep shame – files of notes from my first degree – which I took in 1988 – the year we got married.  There really can’t be anything social-work related in those files that is still relevant today can there?  Probably.  Anyway, there are two huge bookcases in the room that are not housing the books that lie around our house in disordered heaps.  I have two Kindles now – one for audio and one for reading but I still can’t resist the smell and feel of a real book.  I know that we will both feel better when we’ve cleared out the office but the prospect is lying over both of us like a big dark cloud.

Take stuff to the tip – provided it’s still open when we finish – otherwise it can go in the garage till tomorrow when Hub wakes up from his night shift.

Dinner – left over takeaway from yesterday – yay!  For Hub and I at least – we have been known to make a takeaway last for three days (I did last weekend) whereas the boys demolish all in front of them leaving only scraps and dribbles behind.

Ironing – this will be accomplished during ‘Wallander’.  I find that the dreary greyness is a suitable backdrop to ironing.  To be fair my ironing pile has diminished considerably since Uni Boy learnt how to iron and decided that my ironing didn’t meet his meticulous standards (Yay!)  College Boy’s clothes spend most of their time in heaps either on or under the bed (we bought him a double when we redid his room a couple of years ago – he has a small area to sleep in now) so there won’t be many of them to iron.  I like Wallander a great deal – although I wish they’d put the lights on occasionally.  I don’t actually mind ironing either provided I have something decent to watch on TV.  I sit on the sofa, ironing board now cleared of OU books and at its lowest setting, unironed clothes in a pile on one side and laundry crates ready to be filled on the other.  The fan is on, both uplighters are on so I can see what I’m doing, I have the remotes, my mobile and the house phone by my side and something to drink – thirsty work this ironing stuff – wonder if Uni Boy would make me a cocktail – or two?)  Once all this is accomplished I am perfectly content.

Hub to work – so I’ll have to remember how Wallander ends so that I can tell him when he calls me at eleven o’clock to say goodnight.

Remember to go to bed – I have a tendency to lose track of time when Hub is on a night shift and this isn’t helped by my nocturnal boys – who having slept on and off all day today will be full of beans when I am flagging.  I have book-related things to do tonight and stuff to get ready for work tomorrow.  We have a new colleague starting and I have to be in early to blow up some balloons – I made a banner before I left on Friday. Life is about beginnings and endings – we have to do them properly.

Tomorrow  – I will be up at six to prepare my whiskey-infused porridge – Hub has just returned form the local shop with the milk.

You can go your own way …

Not the easiest of weeks in all.  Lovely Hub came back from his paintball weekend on Sunday afternoon, extremely knackered and a bit disappointed that he had to spend most of his energy lugging camping equipment from A to B instead of running around splatting people.  It didn’t help that the weather was lousy, that he lost an airbed and had to sleep on the ground, or that bad weather at home meant there wasn’t an opportunity to have a go at pitching the new tent before they went away. I’m told that the draught cider was good though and so was the cocktail bar (? and I thought they were being ruff tuff boys running around with gun-things – sorry – MARKERS –  not sitting there drinking cocktails all weekend).  The zombie game was a bit boring as well, not a lot of variety in being a zombie really.

So after Hub and I falling prey to  two sleepless nights, we were looking forward to a good night’s sleep. Unfortunately both Uni Boy and College Boy are particularly nocturnal at the moment.  Classical music and the boom of Super Mario on an elaborate sound system comes up from Uni Boy’s room and war game playing chortle issues through the curtain from College Boy’s room – he had a door once but it died and we are waiting for some sign of maturity before we replace it.

At half-past three in the morning the air was rent with the sound of the two boys fighting over bandwidth.  I ripped a muscle in my side jumping out of bed to separate them – last time they fought in the middle of the night, blood and bruises were involved (not mine).

At a quarter-past four in the morning an overwhelming smell of cooking permeated the whole house and I cursed College Boy for sneaking downstairs and making bacon super noodles with pepperami and tabasco sauce (a whole bottle) when I had to go to work in the morning.

At half-past five Lovely Hub had to leap out of bed to empty the overflowing water bucket  – for some reason the water from the tank decided to speed up while we were trying to sleep – Sod’s Law

I got up at six o’clock and staggered downstairs in search of painkillers for my achy breaky side.  Uni Boy was awake and it turned out that I had maligned College Boy and his super noodles, it was Uni Boy that had been cooking and despite being a hyper-intelligent megabeing it hadn’t occurred to him that leaving the kitchen door open whilst cooking would mean that the whole house stank of food.

I woke College Boy but he decided that his stomach was upset and he wasn’t going to get up.  Some guys have all the luck.

It was a relief to get out of the house and slouch at my desk – until I realised that torn muscles and slouching don’t mix.  Lovely Hub brought me more painkillers and I spent the rest of the day sitting in accordance with health and safety guidelines.  It’s getting better now – slowly.

Loveliest Friend worked her magic fingers into Hub’s feet and came home happy again and fully reflexologised.  Just as well because he had two day shifts – which he hates but I quite like because I get a lift into work and back.  The boys took turns (what!) to empty the water bucket as they were the only ones in but whatever it was that was causing the problem then decided to make the water flow even faster.

I phoned Uni Boy from work to see if he’d emptied the bucket.  He was a little terse.  Hub texted Uni Boy on Wednesday morning from work to ask him to empty the bucket.  This was Uni Boy’s response:

“Bucket looks fairly empty.  It fills 50ml about every 4 min., and drops 130 times a minute, so flow rate is 750-800ml/hr.  If that flow rate stays the same then the bucket shouldn’t need emptying until the evening at the earliest.”

College Boy would have texted “kk” or not even bothered to reply.

On Thursday night, Hub and I decided to tackle the water tank once and for all.  Well, I lay on the bed and watched Hub tackle the water tank.  He had to take some of the cupboard door frame off and stick his hand in the water tank to fiddle with the ball cock (ooh-er Missus!).  His master stroke however, was climbing out through the bedroom window (who needs Spiderman), scaling the roof and discovering that there was something nasty bunging up the overflow pipe.

All good paintballers have an unbunging stick and Hub is no exception.  Clinging onto the side of the chimney breast he shoved the stick up the overflow pipe and cured all our problems – well for now.  The bucket is still underneath the Heath Robinson pipework but it has remained empty since Thursday night.  Go Hub!  We still need a new boiler but that will have to wait for a bit.

Hub was at work Friday night so  a quiet night in.  Uni Boy and I had another one of our considerably lop-sided  conversations – nearly everything he says goes over my head.  So far this week we have discussed ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ – surreal to be talking about grubby DomSub books with your 19yr old son –  and whether or not the tot of whiskey I put in my morning porridge will still have an alcoholic content after being exposed to the microwave (he did calculations based on alcoholic content, amount of whiskey, temperature and length of time in the microwave – hic!.

When Hub came home we drove College Boy over to his mate’s in preparation for a day of shooting BBs in some disused army camp with a lot of other camouflaged pseudo-soldiers.  It was rather nice driving back at midnight  – just us – especially as College Boy gets particularly frantic when he is trying to get all his gear together.  He doesn’t know that we’ve found his college report (he hid it in a pile of paper on the sofa).  It wasn’t wonderful but then he’s had five bouts of tonsillitis in the past year  – oh – and he’s a lazy git to boot.

Saw Hub off to paintball this morning – it isn’t raining and he’s sent me nice texts so I know he hasn’t been too badly crushed, mashed or covered in yellow paint.  Uni Boy spent some time this afternoon practising his cocktail making skills – oh  dear – do you really need me to test that Cosmopolitan for you?  Oh well – alright then.  The boy makes a fine cocktail.  He went off to a friend’s house and for three hours this afternoon I’ve had the house to myself.

I fell asleep.  Must have been that cocktail.

This time next week Uni Boy will be in Spain and I will be starting my one and only Open University residential unit in Nottingham.  Apparently the booze is cheap (Spain and Nottingham Uni).  I’m going to be a real student for a whole week and I am more than a little bit terrified.

Hey Ho! The Paintballer and the BB Boy have returned.  The latter is totally shattered and can’t even raise the energy to go out for a meal with his best friend. He also has a red mark on his neck from a wayward BB.  He has just staggered past me with a bottle of water, a duvet and heading for bed. Hub has had a lovely day shooting at people as well but also has a couple of war wounds which he’ll show me – laterz.  Uni Boy is off out on the town again tonight with a couple of 500ml bottles filled with his cocktails – he has pre-drinking style that boy.

It hasn’t taken much to persuade Hub that tonight is a good night for a takeaway.

Just seen the war wounds – a bit tame – just on the arms but going to turn into lovely bruises over the next couple of days.  So glad I don’t have dangerous hobbies – unless you count OU terror camp next week.

Now where did we put that takeaway menu?